42e législature, 1re session

L193 - Wed 7 Oct 2020 / Mer 7 oct 2020

The House met at 1015.

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


Members’ Statements

Small business

Mr. Chris Glover: Over this summer, we had three months of committee hearings on small and medium-sized businesses in this province, and I’ll just say that at the beginning of the three months, businesses were very concerned. They were saying, “Look, I wasn’t able to make my May rent.” By the end of it, on the last day, at the end of August, six businesses from six different parts of the province—six very different businesses—all said, “I’m not going to be able to make it through the winter.” They said, “We need three things: We need commercial rent relief, a program that actually works; we need tax forgiveness, not deferral”—because it’s unfair that this government is demanding that companies who were forced to shut down by law by this government are actually expected to pay taxes for that period—and they need regulation on insurance companies, which are tripling some insurance rates because of the pandemic.

The response from this government was that some of the Conservative members said that they would write a letter to the federal government or they would provide advice. Well, these companies don’t need advice, they need support, and they need support to remain solvent so that they can reopen when this pandemic is over and refloat our economy.

I’m asking this government to reconsider their actions to support small and medium-sized businesses in this province so that we can all have a strong economy at the end of this pandemic.

Public health

Mr. Kaleed Rasheed: This year has seen unprecedented challenges for Ontarians in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I want to thank every resident of this great province for heeding public health advice and doing what they can to stop the spread of COVID-19. I want to also share my deepest appreciation for the front-line health care and essential workers who have served this province and kept things running smoothly, and continue to do so.

Speaker, this year has been a difficult one for my family, as we lost our grandmother just a few weeks ago. I’m thankful for the time my wife and I, and our kids had with their great-grandmother, and I will never forget her delicious and heartwarming Thanksgiving dinners. She will be missed.


I want to express gratitude for being able to celebrate Islamic Heritage Month in this great province of Ontario. It is truly a privilege and an honour to live in a province that uplifts and celebrates the diverse communities that make up the landscape of the place we all call home.

As we approach the Thanksgiving weekend, I want to remind everyone to continue to follow public health guidelines by avoiding unnecessary gatherings, wearing a mask, keeping your distance and washing your hands. Let’s continue to work together to keep one another healthy and safe. Happy Thanksgiving.

Automobile insurance

Mr. Gurratan Singh: Right now, our roads are the safest they have been in years, with far fewer accidents happening than before. People have been listening to public health experts and they have been staying at home, while their cars are often parked in their driveways or on the street. Why are they still paying full price for car insurance? While we’re all making sacrifices during these tough times, billion-dollar car insurance companies are actually increasing their premiums during a pandemic.

The Conservative government has the power to mandate lower car insurance rates, but they’ve chosen to do nothing. That’s why the NDP is fighting for a 50% reduction in car insurance rates for all Ontarians during COVID-19. That’s what people deserve during a pandemic.

Last week, I met with Ken. He’s a small business owner in my riding, and he had to shut down his business because he didn’t receive the support he needed from the Conservative government during a pandemic. His is just one of the many small and medium-sized businesses that are living hand to mouth right now because of COVID-19. But instead of acting to help, this Conservative government is doing nothing.

That’s why the NDP is standing up for small and medium-sized businesses, and we’re calling for an immediate ban on commercial evictions. We’re calling on a freeze for utility payments and for rental support for businesses in need. The NDP is going to keep on fighting for small and medium-sized businesses until they get the support that they need.

Animal protection

Ms. Christine Hogarth: During the emergency lockdown, as a response to the COVID-19 virus, we were encouraged to stay home and children were not allowed to go to school. It has been completely understandable why, during this time, so many families and individuals decided it was a good idea to adopt or purchase a pet.

Animals are a great source of comfort, especially during times of stress. They bring families together. They provide company and great memories, and they force us to go outside and get exercise, even when we don’t want to. During these unprecedented times, most of our animals in our shelters have been adopted, and some shelters have actually reported that demand has sometimes exceeded supply. This is a good thing for our animals in our shelters and one of the few silver linings in this global pandemic.

However, some people who adopted a pet six months ago or longer are now coming to the realization that some pets can be very expensive. Pet owners can easily spend $1,000 to $2,000 on a dog or cat in any given year, and sometimes that can grow when your animal gets sick. This is leading many pet owners to surrender their animal to animal shelters.

Now, I know first-hand how expensive pets can be. I have two rescue pets, a dog and a cat. While the cat doesn’t cost much, I’ll tell you, we call our dog our a little money pit. He has allergies. He has special food. His shampoo costs more than mine. But do you know what? They are worth every dollar. Our pets are worth our costs. But I just want to remind everybody to look at their financial resources, and that should be part of your thinking when you make that decision to purchase that pet and give them their forever home.

Health care workers

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: Recently, I sat down with health care workers from SEIU and my former colleagues from the Hotel Dieu Shaver. They expressed frustration about this Ford government only providing temporary health care solutions to permanent problems.

Melissa Jennie and Julie Skinner described to me their frustrations of still being excluded from and not being recognized for the pandemic pay. Stephanie Graves and Kathy Case shared how front-line workers struggle to get proper PPE, and now we’re in the second wave. They are worried.

Yet the most affecting story I heard was on the weekend when one of the PSWs called me back. She was upset about this government announcing a temporary pay increase for PSWs. She was wondering why it is temporary when, with or without the pandemic, her workload has not changed.

PSWs are savagely underpaid, cruelly overworked, but it is what she said next that sent chills down my spine, Speaker: “What happens when we win the battle against this pandemic and people are no longer paying attention to long-term care?” I’ll repeat: What happens when we are no longer paying attention?

For decades, current and past governments have ignored PSWs’ low wages and high turnovers. PSWs, like the ones I recently spoke to, do not deserve temporary solutions to permanent problems.

To the SEIU members that I spoke to, I see you. To all the health care workers I speak to, I see you. My colleagues see you. The people in this province see you. We need to fix these problems with real solutions. I will make sure that everyone is watching.

Teachers / Enseignants

Mr. Stephen Blais: I’d like to take this opportunity today to say how proud I am of the strong and resilient teachers in Orléans.

Chaque jour, je suis inspiré par leur résilience, leur passion et leur dévouement pour aider leurs étudiants, tout en relevant les défis sans précédent que leur impose cette pandémie.

This week, as we marked World Teachers’ Day, I am reminded of the sacrifice and the effort teachers across our province make every day as they play an invaluable role in shaping the lives of future generations.

There is no playbook on how to teach during a world health crisis, but somehow our teachers have pioneered great new innovations to keep our children thriving. Despite severe staff shortages and increased health and safety measures, these community leaders have stepped up to the plate to continue to go beyond their job descriptions to ensure their students have the best possible environment to learn and grow.

Lorsque je parle avec les conseillers scolaires, les surintendants et les parents, une chose reste claire et constante : c’est l’effort considérable des enseignants qui permet aux élèves de continuer à apprendre en ces temps difficiles.

Teachers, thank you for your dedication and passion for teaching our children, not only during these difficult times, but always. For some students, you’re the only constant in an unpredictable world. Please know that your work is recognized and appreciated, and even though you may not feel it, the pat on the back is always there.

Breast cancer

Ms. Natalia Kusendova: I’m honoured to rise today to speak to a topic close to my heart, as on Ontarian and as a nurse. The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a month dedicated to honouring those who have lost their fight to breast cancer, and supporting those whose fight continues.

Mr. Speaker, one in eight Ontarian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and one in 33 will die from it. This month gives us an opportunity to raise awareness of the risk factors so that Ontario’s women are familiar with potential causes of breast cancer and prioritize their health.

There is a significant risk factor in particular that I was made aware of that may be overlooked by health professionals, and that is breast density. Dense breasts refer to breasts containing a higher ratio of gland to fat. To put it simply, the higher the density, the higher risk. Research on breast density shows that it is an even more significant risk factor than family history.

I applaud Dense Breasts Canada, a volunteer group of hard-working women who have been raising awareness of the risk of dense breasts, and advocating for dense breast notifications for patients across the country.

I would also like to thank the Canadian Cancer Society for the invaluable work that they do in advocating for and supporting survivors of breast cancer, and those currently battling it, and those who have passed.

Mr. Speaker, this advocacy work matters because breast cancer can affect our mothers, daughters, wives, friends and colleagues. I invite all women to learn more about breast cancer and your own risk factors, because there can be life after breast cancer, but the prerequisite is early detection.

Public transit

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Speaker, within the last 10 days Metrolinx has unveiled more details about its plan for the Ontario Line, giving my constituents a look at their future. It’s not a pretty picture for those in the south end or the north end of my riding.


My riding desperately needs more transit and my constituents strongly supported the previously planned relief line. It would have made a huge difference in subway crowding. If this government had simply continued on with that plan, not only would construction be under way now but it would be done without putting a huge burden on our neighbourhoods.

As it is, the stretch from Gerrard to Eastern will have six railway lines, as opposed to the current three, resulting in the sound of trains passing at least every 45 seconds throughout the day. This is with houses less than 20 metres away from those tracks. Even now, people have to stop talking when trains go by.

In Etobicoke Centre, the Premier directed the undergrounding of the Eglinton LRT at a cost of well more than $1 billion. This is for a line that ran down the middle of a four-lane highway, with separation zones on either side. There is no such consideration for my constituents.

Metrolinx needs to come back with a plan to put the line underground south of Gerrard to Eastern, and in the north end needs to engage in real consultation with my constituents.

Volunteers in Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry

Mr. Jim McDonell: I rise today to recognize the efforts of people in my riding of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry who continue fundraising for the Children’s Treatment Centre, including six Longue Sault Public School elementary students. Led by organizer 10-year-old Georgia McDougall, her team of Chloe Carter-Edwards, Victoria Powers, Isabelle Paquette, Olivia Joubert and Esther Stephens sold handmade crafts from $1 to $5 an item on August 20. They hoped to raise $500 for the treatment centre, a non-profit organization that relies solely on fundraising to help children and youth overcome the effects of abuse and neglect.

Meanwhile, Cornwall lawyer Andrew Guindon held a month-long campaign to raise about $1,000 for the centre. Mr. Guindon donated 20% of the proceeds from the work he did involving will and power-of-attorney tasks.

These acts of generosity and community spirit in these challenging times are especially important because many fundraising activities have been curtailed during the pandemic.

I look forward to the treatment centre’s drive-through breakfast on October 16 that will replace their annual celebrity walk and breakfast. These kinds of selfless initiatives are what make my riding of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry the special and caring place it is.

Food drive in Scarborough Centre

Miss Christina Maria Mitas: Every year and every day here in Ontario, people and families go hungry. I am inviting people of Scarborough Centre to join my office in doing something to help our fellow Scarberians and Ontarians. On Saturday, October 24, at the McGregor Park Community Centre parking lot from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. we are doing a pumpkin giveaway and food drive. If you bring a food donation, no matter how big or how small, you get a pumpkin and get to take it home with you.

We’ll also have a pumpkin-decorating contest at home. We’ll be giving out pumpkin-decorating kits for your kids, and any kid under 12 is able to do so. You have two weeks to decorate your pumpkin. We’ll choose a winner and we’ll put a picture of your pumpkin on our wall, and you will get to have lunch with me—and your parents, of course. We’ll also have an ice-cream-truck DJ—I’m sorry, no ice cream, but he is a DJ in an ice cream truck—playing music as you come by, and hot apple cider.

I’m also very proud to share that our pumpkins are coming from Thomas Reesor and his family at Sweet Ridge Farms. Thomas is a seventh-generation farmer and the Reesor family is the final farming family that is still going in Scarborough. Thank you to Thomas and thank you to Lois and Dale. We’re very proud to be getting our pumpkins from you and we’re very happy that we get to do this work for Scarborough families. We encourage all Scarborough families to visit Sweet Ridge Farms when you have the opportunity as well. They are a great Scarborough institution.

Member’s birthday

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I understand the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry has a point of order.

Hon. John Yakabuski: On a point of order, I did want to recognize the fine member from Bay of Quinte who, yesterday, was nine years a member here; a lot of people share that. But, today, he is 50 years a member of the human race—50 years today; half a century—everybody’s good friend, Todd Smith. Happy birthday.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Technically not a point of order. Happy birthday, Todd.

Order of business

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader on a point of order.

Hon. Paul Calandra: If you seek it, I’m sure you’ll find unanimous consent that, at the conclusion of question period today, the House return at 1 o’clock instead of 3 o’clock.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Agreed? Agreed.

Question Period

COVID-19 response

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My first question this morning is to the Premier. Doctors, hospital officials and public health units across Ontario have been pleading with the Ford government for days to take effective action against the second wave of COVID-19. The Premier has repeatedly refused, saying he wants to see more evidence. Since that time, over 2,300 more people have contracted COVID-19—numbers that will continue to climb.

Can the Premier tell us exactly what evidence the Ford government needs, beyond the overwhelming evidence that has already been presented by hospital experts, by public health and by other doctors across the province?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Deputy Premier and Minister of Health to reply.

Hon. Christine Elliott: Thank you very much for the question. In fact, we have been taking action. We developed our Keeping Ontarians Safe plan, with six pillars, to promote the retention of public health measures; to conduct the largest flu campaign in Ontario’s history; to deal with the surgeries and procedures that were delayed during the first wave; to make sure that we’re prepared for a surge in cases, which we have done; and to make sure that we have the health human resources that we need in order to be ready for a second wave.

The numbers are increasing. We’re looking at the information daily and we have taken action, which I’ll discuss in the supplementary.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Rather than listening to the warnings that are coming from our health system over the last week, the Premier insisted, despite overwhelming evidence, that people were actually praising his plan and that Ontario was successfully flattening the curve. Doctors say that the Premier was completely off the mark, that he was simply making that up.

Will the Premier, or anyone in this House on the government side, stand up today and actually repeat those claims, or is the Ford government prepared to admit that their preparation and handling of the second wave has been an unmitigated disaster?

Hon. Christine Elliott: I would completely disagree with the statement just made by the leader of the official opposition. We have been taking action. We are listening to reports. We have been listening to the Ontario Hospital Association—I’m in close contact with them—the Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario Nurses’ Association, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario and our public health experts, Dr. Williams and the public health measures table. As a matter of fact, we had a report from them within the last 24 hours about what they’re seeing.

We are making changes; we have already. We are not introducing any more new businesses or new actions for the next 28 days. We’ve already reduced the capacities in restaurants: Last call is at 11 o’clock, closing at 12 o’clock. We’re taking other measures.

We are listening and we are taking action as we need to, but we need to make sure that we have the information and the data in order to be able to make the decisions. I suppose the leader of the official opposition would like us to completely shut Ontario down again. We are not doing that unless—

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

The final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The fact is, Speaker—and it’s pretty plain—that the government doesn’t have a plan to deal with the second wave of COVID-19. Instead of trying to fix that, the Premier spent most of yesterday telling people to invite 10 people over for Thanksgiving dinner and then denying that he even said it.


To quote an epidemiologist, one particular epidemiologist, “We’ve pulled back on contact tracing now, so that could lull people into thinking we’re doing better than we are, when in fact we’re doing worse.”

When will the government stop pretending, just stop pretending, that things are going well—because everybody can see that they are not going well—and in fact start taking action to fix the mess that they’ve caused?

Hon. Christine Elliott: Speaker, I think it’s important for the leader of the official opposition to understand and, of course, for the people of Ontario to understand that we are taking action. We have a plan we are putting into place. We are listening to the experts on a daily basis. The health and well-being of the people of Ontario is and always has been our central concern.

We are taking steps to make sure that the people of Ontario are protected. We are putting $935 million into hospitals this year—hospitals are essential to the success of our plan—including $341 million to create more acute care and critical care beds. That’s going to continue.

We are also putting over $1 billion to boost our testing, tracing and isolation capabilities. That is very important, that we continue to increase our tests, that we have the lab capacity to process those tests. We are going to increase our case and contact managers significantly, by over 1,000, to make sure that people of Ontario will be kept safe.

COVID-19 response

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is for the Premier. The Premier cannot simply bluster his way past the fact that he tried to save a buck when what he needed to do was invest. Now we are scrambling.

When schools, long-term-care homes and small businesses on main streets across Ontario needed support to prepare for the second wave, the Ford government refused to make those investments to cap classes, to protect seniors and to save main street. Does the Premier now understand that his failure to invest through the summer is costing us much more than it needed to during the second wave of COVID-19?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Health.

Hon. Christine Elliott: Thank you, Speaker. I would say through you to the leader of the official opposition that is absolutely incorrect. We have been making investments throughout since this pandemic began. We have our plan in place, Keeping Ontarians Safe, with its six pillars, and we’re making those investments to protect the lives and safety of the people of Ontario.

We’re spending over $1 billion to increase our testing, tracing and isolation capability. We’ve put over $935 million into our hospitals, including $341 million to increase our acute care and intensive care capacity. Through our Ontario action plan, we’ve put $124 million into creating 90 transitional care spaces to allow more than 1,000 people to be able to move from hospitals in order to have care in a different location.

We have made considerable investments since this COVID pandemic began and we’re going to continue to make those investments to keep the people of Ontario healthy and safe.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The Ford government seems to have missed an important basic fact: If the government wants to support families and small businesses in the midst of a pandemic, they need to do something to actually support families and businesses. Allowing people to keep working while COVID-19 spreads through their homes, their jobs and their schools is not being supportive.

Capping class sizes, increasing staff in long-term care, putting money directly into the pockets of small business owners who have been devastated by COVID-19—that’s what the government should have been doing. That’s what people would call support. That’s the support that they needed and that this government to this day has refused to provide.

Why won’t the Premier provide that kind of support for the people and businesses of Ontario?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction.

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: Frankly, I reject the premise of that question. Just today, we again announced our commitment to support small businesses by introducing a $60-million grant to help those hit hardest with recovering costs for PPE. This government invested in the Digital Main Street program, up to $2,500 in grants for 23,000 businesses in this province to help them pivot to going digitally. We put forward the commercial emergency rent relief program that helps support 55,000 businesses in the province of Ontario.

We remain committed to supporting businesses, whether it’s through the initial $10 billion in aid or whether it’s through supporting them through grant programs, like supporting their reimbursement of PPE. We will remain committed to supporting small businesses through this pandemic.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Ontario families need their government to do so, so much better. Whether it’s hospitals, labs or long-term-care homes that are waiting for investments to fight the second wave, or working people and small businesses desperate for support to keep their doors open and pay for their staff and pay for their bills, the Premier has offered nothing but empty promises, delays and penny-pinching. “Too little, too late” is what this government’s motto should be during this COVID crisis. They have acted too late with too little to support families and businesses.

When will the Ford government realize if they were actually working to beat the second wave of this pandemic, they needed to focus on saving lives and not focus on saving a buck?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance to reply.

Mr. Stan Cho: When I was 12 years old, I watched my dad get a second mortgage so he could make payroll and keep the doors of his small business open. This government understands the struggles of small businesses, and that’s why we have not only invested in the sector, but consulted with the sector. Our Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction has had over 100 meetings with the small business sector. The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs has met for 195 hours and with 522 small businesses. The pre-budget consultations continue. That’s in addition to our $11 billion in support—$241 million to support almost 600,000 employees throughout the province of Ontario.

While the NDP decides whether they support small business or they’re against small business, this government is going to continue to collaborate, work with small businesses and make sure we weather the storm together.

COVID-19 response

Ms. Marit Stiles: This question is for the Premier. The Premier said he’d spare no expense in protecting our schools, and then he held back funding. He said keeping schools open was a priority, and then stubbornly refused to fund smaller, safer class sizes in our schools.

While cases are rising across Ontario, the government is scrambling from crisis to crisis. Parents are showing us what they think of this plan for school—they’re pulling their children out of schools en masse. The result is going to be even more new disruptions for our students, families and for education workers.

Everybody knew a second wave was coming. Why wasn’t the Premier ready?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Education.

Hon. Stephen Lecce: I was proud to join the Premier just two days ago to announce an additional $35 million, specialized for those communities where we’re seeing higher rates of community transmission—for families and students in York, in Toronto, in Peel and in Ottawa—an additional investment set aside to ensure we can respond to the second wave and to the flu season. That investment in Toronto, for example—$12 million—is going to help hire more teachers, more custodians and procure upwards of 70,000 devices for those four boards.

In Toronto, in the not intensively staffed schools, the average class size in this region, right now, as we speak, for kindergarten is 17.5; in grades 1 to 3, the class size average—not in the high-invested schools—is 16.3; in grades 4 to 8, it is 20.39.

That is an investment this government is delivering because we believe in keeping our kids safe, and we will do whatever it takes.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: Back to the Premier: Tell that to all families who have kids in JK and SK classes of 24, 25, 26—I’ve got an example right here, Mr. Speaker.

This government held back $50 million of federal funding, then they dropped $35 million yesterday. Why weren’t they ready to invest that funding when it was really needed to prevent all of this chaos in the first place?


In the TDSB alone, at least 7,000 more students are leaving in-school classrooms because they don’t have the confidence in this government’s plan; 374 schools will lose teachers. Not only will students be reorganized into new class cohorts after being at school for just a few weeks, but those classes are going to be even bigger. This government is requiring boards to meet the same pre-pandemic funding that they had for class size averages before the pandemic.

Community spread is out of control, and the government is still relying on the same old plan, trying to pass off the same federal dollars as new provincial investments. What new measures will the Premier take today to keep our schools open and our kids safe?

Hon. Stephen Lecce: We announced, just two days ago—building on the $1.3-billion allocation, the largest and most significant investment in this country when it comes to ensuring the safety of publicly educated schools in this province. That is an investment that demonstrates the Premier is fully committed to the safety of kids.

The fact that we set aside money to ensure we can respond to the emerging risk in our province—$50 million set aside for the flu season, specifically for the second wave—demonstrates that we are looking ahead to give our boards the investments they need to prevent the spread within our schools.

We’re seeing hundreds of teachers hired in Toronto. And, in Toronto, in the intensively staffed schools, the average class size in kindergarten is 10.91; in grades 1 to 3, it is 14.9; and between grades 4 to 8—


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

Hon. Stephen Lecce: —it is 13.8.

So for the member opposite to purport anything other than investments by this province, by the feds, by reserves helping to lower classroom sizes is simply not the case. We are fully committed to doing everything we can to keep our kids safe.

Automobile insurance

Ms. Christine Hogarth: We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a significant impact on the financial well-being of families across our province. When the pandemic and subsequent lockdown began, many in my riding of Etobicoke–Lakeshore and beyond looked to our government to help ensure that insurance companies were providing them with relief for their auto insurance rates.

I know that our government has been taking the necessary actions to do just that. Can the government please share what they have done to provide rate relief for Ontario drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Stan Cho: Thank you so much to the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore. I know some of her constituents personally, and I know, first-hand, how much she looks out for their interests.

Since this pandemic began, our government has been keeping a close watch to make sure that insurance companies are treating the people of Ontario fairly. Members of this House know that addressing auto insurance rates has been a top priority for our Premier and our government. Our message to insurance companies was simple: Provide relief that reflects the hardships your customers are facing during COVID-19. On April 15, we took action to remove barriers that prevented companies from providing drivers the relief they deserve. Since then, we’ve seen significant financial relief provided to Ontario drivers.

This is just one way that our government, under the leadership of Premier Ford, has worked to support people, jobs and businesses during these difficult times.

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

Ms. Christine Hogarth: Thank you to the member for the answer. It is reassuring to know that our government acted early and continues to take action to provide rate relief for Ontario’s 6.6 million auto insurance customers.

I’m proud to be part of a government that understands the challenges families face in Ontario, and we’ve been inspired to see our government take the necessary steps to ensure that they are provided the relief they need and deserve. Could the government please share with the House how much rate relief has been provided to Ontario drivers since the COVID-19 pandemic began?

Mr. Stan Cho: The member is bang on. This government understands the everyday challenges faced by families in this province. That’s why I’m proud that since we removed barriers to that relief, all of the 14 largest auto insurance companies in Ontario have provided nearly $1 billion in combined relief to consumers in Ontario. That’s over $300 million more in savings since FSRA last reported, greatly exceeding in Ontario alone the $600 million that the Insurance Bureau of Canada initially estimated that their members would provide across all of Canada.

Our government continues to work to bring down auto insurance premiums for Ontario families, to fix a broken system created by the NDP and made worse by years of Liberal tinkering. By removing conflict, increasing competition and cutting red tape, we’re working to bring down rates not just during the pandemic but always.

Privatization of public services

Mr. John Vanthof: My question is to the Premier. In an attempt to clear up the embarrassing backlog of COVID tests in the province, the Premier has contracted a company in California or in Florida to do the tests—an American company. That’s not surprising. It’s a private company. They like to privatize every chance they get. But what is very puzzling and very concerning is that the contract with this very same company was cancelled by the Republican governor of Florida, because they weren’t getting the tests back on time. So it wasn’t good enough for Florida, but it seems to be good enough for Ontario.

Why did the Premier contract out to that company in Florida, further privatizing our health care system?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

Hon. Christine Elliott: I think it’s important to remember and take a look at where we’ve come since the beginning of this pandemic. When we first started, we were able to do about 4,000 tests per day. We’re increasing that daily. Yesterday, we did over 43,000 tests. But, of course, as you do the tests, you also have to have the lab facilities to go along with it.

We are putting over $1 billion into increasing our testing capacity. We are going to get to 50,000 tests within the next few weeks, but we need to have the capacity to deal with that. We are increasing our lab capacity. We’ve got a whole network now that we didn’t have before. That has been created since this pandemic. We have over 40 different organizations involved in that, and as a temporary measure, yes, we contracted with a company in California, because we need to have those volumes tested. The people of Ontario deserve to have those volumes—


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The official opposition will come to order.

The Minister of Health can conclude her response.

Hon. Christine Elliott: I can assure all the members opposite that we are working directly with all organizations in Ontario. We’re working with other universities and with other facilities in order for them to do testing as well. This is a temporary measure that will allow us to be able to keep up with the testing volumes to make sure that people’s tests don’t go stale, which happens in three days. So we have to have this testing done. We’re dealing with—


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Again, the official opposition will come to order.


Mr. John Vanthof: You never answered the question about why it’s not good enough for Florida but good enough for here. But it’s not a—


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

Mr. John Vanthof: It’s not a surprise that the government contracted this lab, because they already helped private companies here contact that lab so that they could export those tests as well.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock, please. Both sides will please come to order.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): It’s always the other side, isn’t it?


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Yes, always the other side.

I apologize to the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane. Please restart the clock. You have the floor.

Mr. John Vanthof: It’s no wonder the Premier was able to find his private lab in the US. It’s the same private lab that the private pharmacies are using here, with the Premier’s help.

But every step towards privatizing testing—every step—is an erosion of our public health care system, a permanent erosion. It’s happening already. The government’s head of Ontario Health confirmed yesterday that some swabs from private tests were being processed in public facilities. He said, “Some are charging and then they’re sending the swabs to our labs to be tested.”

Well, why don’t we just publicly test and publicly do the lab work instead of privatizing and then still end up eroding our system?

Hon. Christine Elliott: I have to say, Speaker, that I find the member’s question very puzzling, because every day we are being exhorted to do more testing, do more testing, process more lab tests, don’t let those lab tests go stale. And so what we are doing is we’ve created a lab system that is able to process these tests, but we need to make sure that we bring all of the partners into this.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.

Hon. Christine Elliott: I’m not sure. Does the member want us to have these tests go stale so people have to create more appointments and go forward with that—more time, more expense? No. What we’re doing is we are using the publicly available facilities to the greatest extent that we can. But if we are to get to 50,000 tests per day, and 78,000 tests by the end of the year, we need to use every facility that’s available to us. So we’re using the public tests, we’re using whatever facilities we can deal with, in terms of processing those tests in a timely manner, and Quest Diagnostics is one of those companies.



The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Let’s stop the clock again. The heckling is starting to get out of hand. When everyone is masked, you might think that I can’t recognize your voices. I can. I’ll start calling you out to order individually if you don’t start allowing the member who has the floor to answer the question and allowing the member who has the opportunity to ask a question to place their question.

Hon. John Yakabuski: And answer.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry will come to order.

Hon. John Yakabuski: Just helping.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I think he was trying to be helpful. I’m sure that was it. Please restart the clock.

The next question.

Commercial rent protection

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: My question is to the President of the Treasury Board. Small businesses have been crystal clear. What they need to get through this pandemic is commercial rent relief, rent relief that actually works and reaches small businesses. You know, Speaker, I was in the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs this summer. I spent hundreds of hours listening to businesses from the north, rural areas and cities across this province, and there was one common request: “We need commercial rent relief for small businesses,” in order for these companies to make it through the pandemic and survive to see another day.

This government has not listened. They have not listened to what small businesses want. A moratorium that lasts a few weeks is not enough. In fact, the deferrals that you have offered, that you have now said you’re going to collect every penny of, is not enough.

Small businesses need real relief. When is that going to come from this government?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Stan Cho: I’ve got to correct the member opposite’s record here. This government has supported small businesses from the very beginning of this pandemic with $11 billion in direct support, Mr. Speaker. And when it comes to the commercial rent relief program, over $840 million has been requested in relief. That’s almost 60,000 tenants who are able to successfully participate in this program. To put it another way, that’s almost 582,000 employees in the province of Ontario who have been assisted by the commercial rent relief program.

We have been collaborating with our partners in Ottawa to make sure that we fill the gaps in that program, and I encourage the member opposite to join us in that collaboration to have constructive conversations about how we can help small businesses in Ontario.

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

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Speaker, that member said to me earlier this week that he met with the small business owner Michael Wood, from Ottawa, who is saying, “I am on the brink of closing my business without commercial rent relief.”

They’ve been very clear. When is this government going to listen and respond to the real needs of businesses? They’ve been very clear. What is the holdup? Why is this not happening? You are making announcements, but the announcements do not go far enough. They do not address the real need that small businesses have asked for so that they can survive another wave of COVID-19 and be around in 2021. That is the relief that is required.

Small businesses have also asked for relief for insurance, which is skyrocketing. When are they going to see action from this government that actually addresses the real concerns of small businesses—

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

The parliamentary assistant to reply.

Mr. Stan Cho: The member mentions Mr. Wood, with the small businesses that he represents, and I appreciate our Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, who met with Mr. Wood and over 100 other small businesses to hear directly from them on what the challenges are during these difficult times. That’s in addition to the 195 hours of consultation we’ve done at the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. At the Ministry of Finance, the Minister of Finance and I are touring—virtually—with the entire province, getting out of our Queen’s Park circle to listen directly to the small businesses and the challenges they face, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to remind the member that it was her government, for 15 years, that made life so difficult for small businesses out there, Mr. Speaker. We’re going to continue to work with the sector and we’re going to continue to support the sector. We’re going to get through difficult times together.


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


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston will come to order.

The next question.

Transportation infrastructure

Ms. Effie J. Triantafilopoulos: My question is for the Minister of Infrastructure. This past summer, with the member from Oakville, I had the pleasure of announcing new infrastructure investments coming to our community. In July, we announced over $22 million in provincial investments for 14 projects for Oakville Transit. Our community will see nearly 60 diesel buses replaced with specialized zero-emission-battery electric buses, reducing Oakville Transit’s operation and maintenance costs and helping keep our environment clean; improvements to landing pads, walkways, ramps and curbs at some 249 bus stops to enhance the quality, safety and accessibility for all users; and in keeping with our government’s desire to see more people connected, WiFi will be installed on 107 conventional and 20 specialized buses, allowing for connectivity for transit riders.

I’m proud that our government is working with our municipal partners and federal counterparts to get those local priority projects built. Can the minister tell us more about the vital investments?

Hon. Laurie Scott: I’d like to thank the member from Oakville North–Burlington for this important question and for her strong advocacy for her constituents.

It’s incredible to think that in the last two years, Ontario has nominated hundreds and hundreds of projects through ICIP to the federal government for approval. This includes over 140 road, bridge, air and marine projects through the rural and the northern stream, and over 200 public transit infrastructure projects in communities outside of the GTHA in the public transit stream.

Like the member from Oakville North–Burlington said, we announced over $22 million for Oakville Transit. That means Oakville residents can look forward to on-demand scheduling software and a real-time trip management app, new technology upgrades to provide bus location, arrival and departure times to transit riders and, most dear to me, improved cellular and Internet connectivity while commuting.

Our municipal partners can finally go from shovels ready to shovels moving, and turn those local priority infrastructure projects—

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

The supplementary question.

Ms. Effie J. Triantafilopoulos: My question is for the Minister of Infrastructure. The need for infrastructure renewal in my community and across the province is critical. We know both the minister and the Premier are committed to investing $144 billion in Ontario’s infrastructure over 10 years. That’s why I was thrilled to announce over $33 million to build a new high school in my community and, with the member from Burlington, over $4.3 million of provincial funding for six new projects for Burlington Transit. They can now purchase 12 new 40-foot conventional buses, acquire three new specialized vehicles to support the growing demand for a more accessible public transit service and install traffic signals that will help increase on-time performance by allowing buses to move through traffic more efficiently. I know my constituents are looking forward to a safer and more reliable travelling experience.

To the minister: When can my community and others across Ontario expect more investments like these ones announced?

Hon. Laurie Scott: Thanks to the member again for her question. Ontario nominated public transit infrastructure projects to the federal government under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, or ICIP. As you know, there are now projects receiving funding in Burlington and Oakville, and these are just a few of the hundreds and hundreds of projects Ontario submitted for review, with many more still waiting for federal approval.

We know there’s much more work to be done, but we can’t do it alone. That’s why Premier Ford has called on the federal government to end approval delays and invest an additional $10 billion per year over 10 years to get shovels in the ground and moving forward on infrastructure projects.

Through strategic investments, we can continue to help improve the quality of life for all Ontarians. It’s time for Ontario to get its fair share of funding.


COVID-19 response

Mr. Faisal Hassan: My question is for the Premier. Since the early days of COVID, my riding of York South–Weston has been acknowledged as a hot spot, with some of the highest rates of infection in Toronto. Back in May, the Toronto Chief Medical Officer of Health talked of high-risk factors in communities that are underhoused and have less access to testing. I have been calling for access to local COVID testing for months. Last week, one facility finally opened.

Why, Premier, with all the warning signs present, doesn’t a designated high-risk community like mine deserve the attention and extra care needed to keep our citizens safe?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Health.

Hon. Christine Elliott: I thank the member very much for the question. You’re absolutely right: Every person in every part of Ontario deserves the protection, the availability of testing and availability of hospitals and other community care if they need it.

We are aware that there are hot spots in different parts of Ontario. We are supporting them with extra resources. We have mobile testing units. We have some pharmacies now that are available to do testing, as well as our assessment centres, which now take appointments in advance for testing.

We are going to advance that. We are investing over $1 billion to increase our testing ability and our lab capacity, as well as our contact tracing. We’re going to use those monies to improve testing in all parts of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary? The member for Brampton East.

Mr. Gurratan Singh: My question is to the Premier. Brampton is a COVID-19 hot spot, but I ask the Premier, “What do you expect?” The Conservative government has left our city vulnerable for years and the Liberal government before them neglected us for over a decade. We are a city of over 600,000 people, yet we have only one hospital and two COVID testing centres. We are one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, but we’re treated like we’re not worth a dime of investment.

The people of Brampton don’t care to watch our Premier go in front of the cameras with his uncle act, only to underfund our health care and put our community at risk. How many more outbreaks, how many more cases, how many more deaths is this Premier willing to accept before he acts? When will the Conservative government give Brampton the investment we need to fight the COVID-19 pandemic?

Hon. Christine Elliott: There is not much there I can agree with, other than the fact that Brampton is in a hot spot. I would remind the member that COVID is happening across the province; it’s not just happening in Brampton. But we are taking measures in the hot spots in Peel, in Toronto and in Ottawa to make sure that we do whatever we can to reduce community transmission.

That’s why we’ve brought forward the measures that we have, in order to make sure that bars and restaurants have last call at 11 o’clock and close at midnight, and to make sure that people have only six people for indoor dining. Those are the measures that we’re taking in those hot spots to reduce community transmission, because we know that there are certain parts of Ontario that are experiencing higher levels of COVID-19. Those are the ones that we’re paying attention to—all of Ontario, but we’re particularly focused on dealing with those areas that are having those higher levels. We’ll continue to do that until we can flatten that curve.

COVID-19 response

Mr. Stephen Blais: My question is for the Minister of Health. Long lines at testing centres have been replaced by days-long waits to book online, waiting for days and days and days to get your results as you and your kids stay home from work and from school, and by labs that can’t process samples quickly enough, requiring people to take a second test in order to know if they have COVID or not. Ottawa hospitals are at already at 100% capacity and at least one Ottawa hospital has cancelled surgeries as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic just in the last week.

On Friday morning, the chief medical officer in Ottawa said that the health care system in the nation’s capital is in crisis. That afternoon, the Premier said his plan is working. To the Minister of Health: Who is wrong?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: We know who is wrong.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.

Minister of Health.

Hon. Christine Elliott: The member is certainly correct in that Ottawa, Peel and Toronto are areas that are experiencing difficulties right now, but we are assisting with that. We have made some investments, particularly in Ottawa, to assist. We know that there are situations in long-term-care homes where they need some help. We have hospitals in there to assist with that.

We also know that we have to support with more contact tracing. There’s going to be more contact tracing people who are going to be assigned to Ottawa, 150 more of them, as part of our $1-billion plan to increase our ability to test, to do the lab testing, to get results back to people and to make sure that we have the contact tracers to follow up to prevent the community transmission. So there is a lot of work that we are doing in Ottawa.

I can tell you that our Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Williams, is in regular contact with Dr. Etches in Ottawa, and that information is conveyed to us. We are looking at expanding hospital capacity and—

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

The supplementary question.

Mr. Stephen Blais: My supplementary is also for the Minister of Health. We have dozens of long-term-care homes that are in outbreak and 470 school-related COVID cases in the past 14 days. Hospital leaders are advising that things are critical and that urgent action is needed to be taken to avoid catastrophic consequences. Medical officers of health in Toronto and in Ottawa are raising the alarm. Experts are saying that we need 75,000 tests a day now, not by the end of the year.

When is the government going to stop relying on the two-tier American medical system and get a made-in-Ontario testing plan for residents here in our province?

Hon. Christine Elliott: I can assure the member that we do have a made-in-Ontario testing plan that we’ve developed since the beginning of this pandemic.

We had Public Health Ontario as the only entity doing testing at the beginning of this pandemic. We now have over 40 different partners. One is with an American company right now, temporarily, while we build up the capacity in other areas, which we are doing.

But we’re also investing in Ottawa. We have invested over $935 million in hospitals this year. The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group has received over $1 million; the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, $4 million; the Ottawa Hospital, $16 million; Bruyère, $1.3 million; the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, over $5 million; Queensway Carleton, $2.5 million; and Hôpital Montfort, $4.5 million.

We’re continuing to invest to make sure that the people of Ontario are kept healthy and safe, and we’re investing more in hospital capacity in conjunction with our Ontario Health partner—

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

The next question.


Ms. Natalia Kusendova: Remembrance Day is a special day for all Ontarians. It is a day to honour those who have fought for peace and justice in the world and who, in defence of our values and our way life, often paid the ultimate sacrifice. Of course, this year is different in so many ways from other years. I know that myself and other members in this House will be preparing to mark Remembrance Day over the next few weeks with virtual greetings and remote ceremonies.

A wide range of Ontarians attend these events, including veterans, persons with disabilities, seniors, families with strollers and people using assistive devices, and it is important to ensure that everyone can fully participate while staying safe. This is why I am so proud that our government has moved quickly to deliver on our commitment to our men women and women in uniform.

Through you, Speaker: How is the government modernizing the way it is supporting our veterans today?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant.

Mr. Jeremy Roberts: Thank you to the member from Mississauga Centre for the question and also for your service to our province on the front lines of our health care crisis as a nurse over the past several months.

The Soldiers’ Aid Commission Act was last amended in 1970. The world has changed a great deal since then and we have learned a lot about how service impacts our veterans as well as the supports they need to transition smoothly back to civilian life.

If passed, our legislation would ensure that veterans accessing this program will be able to access and receive modernized supports that build on our knowledge of what they have had to go through. We know now that mental health supports are vital to ensuring that veterans are able to adjust to the differences between military service and civilian life.

We will also provide newly included employment-readiness supports such as short-term courses or training, work tools and—

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

The supplementary question.


Ms. Natalia Kusendova: Thank you for the answer. I was so proud to see the Soldiers’ Aid Commission Act pass second reading with all-party support yesterday, and I am so glad to see the House come together in a non-partisan show of support for our veterans, lest we forget that they fought to preserve freedom for all Canadians. It is our duty and our responsibility to be there for them when they need us.

Unfortunately, the Soldiers’ Aid Commission has had its hands tied for years, and the majority of Ontario’s veterans were left excluded while the number of living veterans decreased with each passing year.

Speaker, again through you, how would this legislation ensure that no military members are excluded from accessing the supports they need and deserve?

Mr. Jeremy Roberts: Thank you for the supplementary question. Our veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our province, country and our way of life. We need to be there when any of our veterans need us.

If passed, our new legislation will ensure that the reach of the Soldiers’ Aid Commission is extended to all veterans and their families, regardless of when and where they served. To support this expansion of eligibility, the government is increasing its investment in the Soldiers’ Aid Commission to more than $1.5 million annually.

The funding provided by the commission will continue to support veterans who are unable to pay for health-related items, such as hearing aids, wheelchairs and glasses; home-related items, such as home accessibility modifications and repair costs; and personal items and support services, such as clothing and counselling.

I would like to thank all of our veterans for your service. I know I speak for every member in this House in saying we thank you for all you’ve done for our province and country.

Front-line workers

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: My question is to the Premier. Susan and Christine are health care worker heroes who have been working as clerical staff at London Health Sciences throughout the pandemic. They both work front-line, and they have daily face-to-face interactions with patients and were glad to hear they would be eligible for the pandemic pay.

However, after they received the first payment, they were informed by hospital HR that they were no longer eligible and that they were also on the line to pay back what they’d received.

Susan and Christine were not alone. Just at London Health Sciences, dozens of employees have been asked to return the pandemic pay they received, all because of this government’s refusal to properly fund the program. Will the government commit to ensuring that all front-line workers are eligible for pandemic pay and that no worker is forced to pay back what they’ve already received?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Health.

Hon. Christine Elliott: I thank the member very much for the question. I can assure the member that the funds have flowed from the government to the employers for pandemic pay. Not all of the funds have been dispersed yet because some are tied to waiting periods or they are paid retroactively.

I have not heard that people are being asked to pay back monies, but I would certainly be happy to speak with you about that to see if we can resolve this situation for Susan and Christine.

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

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: The reason dozens of employees have been asked to return the pandemic pay is because of the Ministry of Health’s failure to clearly communicate. London Health Sciences based their payments on the Ministry of Health’s approved list they received in April. Months later, the ministry followed up with a new list, this time with exceptions which excluded front-line workers like Susan and Christine.

Will this government right their wrong and not force staff to pay back the pandemic pay they received?

Hon. Christine Elliott: The situation with respect to pandemic pay was resolved months ago as to who was eligible to receive it and who was not eligible to receive it. The payments have been made to all of the employers now, subject to the exceptions that I spoke about earlier. So, again, this is something that perhaps has evolved with the hospital. We would be happy to try and resolve that issue for you and for Susan and Christine. I would appreciate receiving more details afterwards so that we can help resolve this for them.

COVID-19 response

Mr. Randy Hillier: My question to the Premier. In my supplemental question yesterday, I asked this government if the people of Ontario should prepare for internment camps.

In September, the federal government posted a call for expressions of interest for contractors to supply, provide and manage quarantine isolation camps throughout every province and every territory in Canada. These quarantine isolation camps, however, are not limited to people with COVID, but provide a wide latitude for many people to be detained. Surely this government is aware of the intentions to build these isolation camps from coast to coast.

My question to the Premier is: How many of these camps will be built and how many people does this government expect to detain?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Government House leader.

Hon. Paul Calandra: It is very true that when people leave the country and when they come back in that the province is suggesting, in co-operation with the federal government, that people isolate themselves. That has been a practice that has been very successful, not only here in Ontario but across Canada.

We will, of course, be redoubling our efforts to make sure that the people of Ontario remain safe. So if the member is referring to the fact that one of the public health policies is that when you return from a jurisdiction outside of Ontario or from another country, you isolate yourself for two weeks, I would suggest that that has been a good policy that has been working.

In fact, this House has been doing the same thing since we came back. We are working in cohorts to make sure that the Legislative Assembly can continue to operate. That’s why we have two separate cohorts, with the co-operation of the official opposition. That is why all members of the independents have been excluded from that cohort, because we want them to be able to participate in debate.

We will continue to do everything in our power to make sure that this House continues and that the people of the province of Ontario and Canada are kept safe.

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

Mr. Randy Hillier: Back to the Premier: Here’s the RFP, and in the RFP it uses clear language to express that these camps can be used for a broad spectrum of people, not limited to travellers. Indeed, it doesn’t even mention international travellers; it’s just a broad latitude of people. I’ll send over the copy of the RFP after.

Your government must be in negotiations and aware of these plans to potentially detain and isolate citizens and residents of our country and our province.

To the Premier: Where will these camps be built, how many people will be detained, and for what reasons can people be kept in these isolation camps? I’d like to have the Premier assure the people of Ontario—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member, take a seat.

The next question.

Access to justice

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: My question is to the Premier. Last week, an Ontario judge spoke on the difficulty First Nations people in isolated communities like Pikangikum have in serving intermittent jail sentences. His ruling stated that this difficulty violates their equality rights.

I have risen many times here in the House and talked about unequal application of justice for First Nations people across Ontario, and especially in Kiiwetinoong. Judge David Gibson’s decision reaffirms the need for transformation of the justice system as it pertains to First Nations offenders. Offences that would result in a fine or a warning anywhere else in Ontario result in jail time, and issues that aren’t criminal but health-related are ignored.

Will Ontario honour this decision and fix this discrimination and racism?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant.

Ms. Lindsey Park: I want thank the member opposite for his ongoing advocacy for Indigenous communities across our province.

On October 2, 2020, the Ontario Court of Justice released its decision in this matter. I’d also note that the court found it did not need to issue a remedy. In the litigation, the government had made arrangements to pay the travel costs of the applicants to attend the Kenora Jail.

As this matter is still before the courts, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

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

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: It’s not the travel that we need in our communities. There’s an urgent need for transformation of our justice system so that it’s culturally relevant and inclusive of Indigenous history and traditions.

Justice Gibson’s thoughtful decision reaffirms the position of many First Nations’ leaders and legal experts that the colonial justice system simply does not work for our communities. In the midst of the pandemic, we should not be seeking to fill our jails.

So I call on the crown not to waste any more time by seeking an appeal and use this opportunity to transform the justice system for Indigenous communities in Ontario. When can Pikangikum expect to see a real First Nation, community-led justice system?


Ms. Lindsey Park: Of course, while it’s inappropriate for me to comment on a particular case before the courts, I’m pleased to speak more broadly about the work we’re doing.

I want to take this opportunity to reiterate that our government works closely with Indigenous justice partners all across this province to help serve the needs of Indigenous communities. We have an Indigenous justice division within the Ministry of the Attorney General.

We’ve worked with Indigenous communities to expand and create programs that address the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system, such as the expansion of Gladue courts and restorative justice programs. We’re also creating an Indigenous Bail and Remand Program. There’s also the creation of Indigenous-specific and culturally responsive victim services, and that work is ongoing.

Further, we’ve created a program that supports Indigenous communities to identify, revitalize and reclaim Indigenous laws.

COVID-19 response

Mr. John Fraser: My question is for the Minister of Long-Term Care. This morning, in Ottawa, 12 long-term-care homes are in outbreak. That’s almost one quarter of the homes in outbreak in Ontario. Residents and families and staff are wondering why outbreaks are continuing to happen in these homes and why they continue to grow. These homes are still understaffed, and the staff are burnt-out. All the help that came with the first wave is just not there—not in Ottawa. Our hospitals are in a critical situation; that’s what they’re telling us. They’re above their capacity. We still have agency staff going from home to home, and that’s not safe. We all know that’s not safe.

It’s clear the government didn’t take the action that British Columbia did or Quebec by aggressively hiring thousands of PSWs over the spring and summer. It just didn’t happen.

Speaker, through you to the minister: What is the minister going to do to address staffing levels in long-term-care homes and prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. I just want to make sure that everyone is clear on the definition of an outbreak. What that means is one resident or one staff has tested COVID-positive in a long-term-care home, and that enables us to get public health involved very quickly, but making sure that we understand that, in Ottawa, there are two homes that have positive resident cases. One is resolving; the other one has support in there, as we speak, with hospitals—the integrated process that we have. We’ve developed a very good process since wave 1 to understand the IPAC situation, to understand the staffing, and we’re working very much in coordination with the hospitals.

I’m in regular contact with the hospitals involved. I’m in regular contact with the medical officer of health in Ottawa. The homes in Ottawa, of the numbers that you’ve quoted—a very, very small number—two have resident cases. I just want to be clear on that. The third one is resolving.

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

Mr. John Fraser: With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, the government has known since January what needed to be done. To clarify things, at Ottawa’s West End Villa, 130 residents and staff have tested positive. They’re still waiting for 33 tests. That’s something else we’ve been talking about here in question period—19 residents have died. We still haven’t addressed the four-bed ward rooms. As I said, we’re not putting anybody else in, but they’re not taking anybody out. And they’re not addressing the staffing issue. They did not take the action that was necessary. We’re moving up on January pretty soon.

The question that I have, very simply, is: Staff are burnt-out. You’ve got agency staff going back and forth. It’s dangerous. What are you going to do to address the situation in Ottawa today? I don’t need your understanding—people in Ottawa need your action.

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Our government, the Ministry of Long-Term Care in conjunction with multiple other ministries, our sector, Ottawa Public Health, Public Health Ontario and Ontario Health—we have acted constantly, around the clock. I can tell you accurately that our long-term-care homes in Ottawa are not reporting any staffing shortages and not reporting any PPE shortages.

Our homes are in much better shape with the science and the evidence we have, knowing about the asymptomatic spread, knowing about how the spread happens in our homes and being very upfront, very transparent about the situation with the ward rooms in homes built in the 1970s.

This is something that we’re acting on. Our government, my Ministry of Long-Term Care has been active on this since the beginning, not only taking emergency measures, but taking measures to stabilize our homes and modernize, all at the same time, working around the clock. We will continue to do that to support everyone in long-term care.

COVID-19 response

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: My question is to the Premier. With the weather getting colder and the second wave upon us, London’s businesses need this government’s help. They need action, not words. In London’s Old East Village, 12 businesses have closed, with more to follow unless this government acts soon.

We know that landlords aren’t applying for federal support. The Old East Village BIA has recommended that commercial tenants receive direct financial support so they can keep their doors open. COVID has forced Plant Matter Bistro, a restaurant in my riding, to close its doors and convert to a ghost kitchen to focus on delivery orders.

Throughout this pandemic, restaurants have faced predatory fees by third-party delivery operations, which make it even harder for restaurants to keep workers on the payroll. Will this government take action today and limit third-party delivery fees so that our local restaurants can keep their doors open and their workers employed?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Stan Cho: We hear from the interventionist NDP that if it were up to them, they’d control every mom-and-pop shop in the province of Ontario. But here on the government benches, we believe in collaborating with the private sector and listening to the private sector. That’s why our Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction has had over 100 meetings. That’s why we continue to consult with small businesses through this—

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: Actions.

Mr. Stan Cho: Speaking of action, Mr. Speaker, we’ve committed $241 million to the commercial rent relief program. That’s 582,000 employees who have been helped by this very program—almost 60,000 small business commercial tenants throughout Ontario. We continue to invest $175 million to bring down hydro rates and keep them low.

We will lay out our multi-year plan on or before November 15 to explain further supports so that we will get through these difficult times together.

Private members’ public business

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that, pursuant to standing order 101(c), a change has been made to the order of precedence on the ballot list for private members’ public business such that Mr. Thanigasalam assumes ballot item number 25 and Mr. Gill assumes ballot item number 40.

This House stands in recess until 1 p.m.

The House recessed from 1138 to 1300.

Introduction of Bills

Main Street Recovery Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 visant à redonner vie aux rues commerçantes

Mr. Sarkaria moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 215, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to the economic recovery of Ontario and to make other amendments / Projet de loi 215, Loi modifiant diverses lois en ce qui concerne la reprise économique de l’Ontario et apportant d’autres modifications.

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

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I will invite the associate minister, if he wishes, to explain his bill briefly.

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: The past several months have put businesses through unprecedented challenges and have presented significant setbacks that they continue to struggle with to this day. This is why reducing regulatory burdens on hard-working job creators and modernizing regulations to unleash growth and innovation and support them in their recovery is so critical. At a time of real uncertainty, the focus remains on unburdening these businesses, creating new opportunities and setting them up for the success to come. This piece of legislation looks to modernize unnecessary, outdated and duplicative regulations or red tape to better support job creators.

Statements by the Ministry and Responses

Cyber Security Awareness Month

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and I am pleased to rise in the House today to highlight our government’s 30-day campaign focusing on helping the Ontario public service and broader public sector partners remain secure online. This campaign will centre around weekly themes that highlight aspects of cyber security, such as why cybercriminals are interested in our information as public servants. We’re going to identify points of vulnerability that we can protect against. Also, we are going to encourage safe web-browsing practices.

This week, the campaign will focus on how to stay safe while working remotely. We have educational activities planned for public servants, and the tactics that they will learn apply to all Ontarians who are working from home. For example:

—we all need to be using strong passwords for work and personal accounts and changing up passwords that we have neglected to update;

—it’s important not to click on links or open any attachments from unknown senders, as these continue to carry the risk of cyber threats; and

—working safely from home means using only password-protected WiFi networks.

Throughout October, the ministry and I will share concrete tips like these with the public as well, through our social media channels.

Speaker, as cyber threats evolve and become more sophisticated, it is critical that we all take proactive steps to enhance our cyber safety practices both at home and in the workplace. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all Ontarians to join us on our educational journey to learn more about cyber security, so that they can be better protected, both themselves and their families, while online.

Our government kicked off Cyber Security Awareness Month by announcing an innovative academic partnership at the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst at Ryerson University. This was great news. The collaboration will provide ongoing cyber security support to Ontario’s broader public sector through a new learning module on a cyber security learning portal. Our partnership will help educate government staff to operate safely, using the best cyber security practices.

Quite frankly, I want to give a shout-out to our cyber team at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. They are second to none, and they have worked so hard over the last number of months, adapting and enabling people to work from home during the pandemic.

But back to our cyber security catalyst: With regard to the initiative that’s happening at Ryerson, I want to share with everyone in the House today that we began October with our first virtual cyber security conference for the broader public sector, designed to ensure that public sector organizations are doing everything they can to protect digital infrastructure and the data they oversee.

The conference provided a great opportunity to explore current and future cyber risks to Ontario’s broader public sector and will assist the public service in determining how we can better implement best practices while building a stronger cyber security infrastructure. This is another great example of our government’s commitment to strengthen cyber resilience within the government and across the province.

As a final note, Ontarians have told us they expect clarity and openness about how their information is collected, used, stored and even commoditized in a digital age. That is why our government launched consultations to strengthen privacy protections of personal data in Ontario. Our consultations will provide an opportunity for people and businesses across the province, from a wide range of sectors, to contribute insights that will help our government develop a balanced approach to privacy. I encourage all Ontarians to participate in these consultations as privacy is critically important to everyone.

I hope everyone in the House today, and through the month of October, will join me in participating in Cyber Security Awareness Month, so that together we can put up a strong defense against cybercrime in the province of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Responses?

Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s a pleasure to rise today and respond to the minister’s statement on Cyber Security Awareness Month. With my time, I want to talk a bit about the rise in cyber attacks during the pandemic, and I want to highlight the good work that is being done in my riding of Waterloo to make Ontario a thought leader across the country when it comes to cyber security.

Just a few weeks ago, we witnessed the cyber attack on the College of Nurses of Ontario. This left members feeling vulnerable and with many questions. A huge issue with these attacks is the lack of transparency, which raises an interesting point. When cyber security breaches happen, members of the public, myself included, don’t have the clarity that is needed—and the minister addressed this—especially when personal, financial and health information is at play. So much work needs to happen to build a supportive regulatory framework, and we should be partnering and tapping into the knowledge in our communities.

In my riding of Waterloo, there are a number of people and organizations doing great work on cyber security. Over the years, we have seen that Waterloo is Canada’s leader at turning research into innovation that creates economic advantage. There is the Centre for International Governance Innovation—CIGI—and at the University of Waterloo, there’s the Waterloo Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute, or CPI for short.

The CPI has Canada’s largest concentration of cyber security and privacy researchers, by number—more than 50—and by academic output as well. It’s no surprise then that cyber security and privacy are one of the strengths and focus areas of the University of Waterloo. CPI works closely with RBC and BlackBerry, which have already invested more than $3.5 million into cyber security research at UW.

CPI has put out a statement on criteria for developing a trustworthy COVID-19 tracing app, and we’re very encouraged by the impact this research has had on the COVID Alert app selection. Strong cyber security measures go hand in hand with good privacy. The outstanding privacy research at the University of Waterloo underpins that both goals are achievable in a symbiotic manner.

Returning to CIGI, they are a research institute that, over the last few years, has shared a tremendous amount of research, not only on cyber security but digital and global governance as well. In their recent series on cyber security, they make these points:

First, we need a public policy debate that recognizes that while cyber security threats are increasing in both number and sophistication, there is an economic potential for Canadian firms to expand on a growing market. So let’s put that knowledge into action.


Second, we need to work to advance a more stable international institutional order, because the international rules-based system in cyberspace is still in its infancy. Innovative thinking is needed to make sure that Canada can play a leadership role in crafting the governance architecture. It is in this latter area that CIGI’s work focuses.

CIGI aims to be a public policy research institute or a think tank that can advance concrete policy proposals in order to create a better, more resilient set of rules to govern cyber security and emerging technologies. This is particularly important because adversarial state actors and cybercriminals are able to exploit the grey areas in the law and are hard to prosecute across borders. This leaves many companies exposed.

CIGI wanted me to acknowledge and also to thank some of the cyber security companies headquartered here in the province of Ontario, including some of the fellows of CIGI. They are Neil Desai, from Magnet Forensics; Rafal Rohozinski, from SecDev; and Paul Vallée, from Tehama—these are all senior fellows at CIGI—and Andre Boysen, from SecureKey, is a contributing author.

In closing, I hope the two examples I shared today from my riding of Waterloo, the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute and CIGI, demonstrate the robust resources we have available to us in this province. This knowledge transfer is key to education around cyber security and addressing the seriousness of cyber security threats.


Long-term care

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is called “Temperatures in LTC Homes.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the province of Ontario requires a minimum but no maximum temperature in long-term-care homes;

“Whereas temperatures that are too hot can cause emotional and physical distress that may contribute to a decline in a frail senior’s health;

“Whereas front-line staff in long-term-care homes also suffer when trying to provide care under these conditions with headaches, tiredness, signs of hyperthermia, which directly impacts resident/patient care;

“Whereas Ontario’s bill of rights for residents of Ontario nursing homes states ‘every resident has the right to be properly sheltered ... in a manner consistent with his or her needs’;”

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

“Direct the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations amending O. Reg. 79/10 in the Long-Term Care Homes Act to establish a maximum temperature in Ontario’s long-term-care homes.”

I support this petition, affix my signature and will send it to the table.

Long-term care

Ms. Catherine Fife: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas quality care for the 78,000 residents of (LTC) homes is a priority for many Ontario families; and

“Whereas the provincial government does not provide adequate funding to ensure care and staffing levels in LTC homes to keep pace with residents’ increasing acuity and the growing number of residents with complex behaviours; and

“Whereas several Ontario coroner’s inquests into LTC homes deaths have recommended an increase in direct hands-on care for residents and staffing levels, and the most reputable studies on this topic recommend 4.1 hours of direct care per day;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario ...

“To amend the LTC Homes Act (2007) for a legislated minimum care standard of four hours per resident per day, adjusted for acuity level and case mix.”

It is my pleasure to affix my signature to this petition and give it to the page.

Long-term care

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I have a petition signed by a number of residents from London on the Time to Care Act. It reads:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas quality care for the 78,000 residents of (LTC) homes is a priority for many Ontario families; and

“Whereas the provincial government does not provide adequate funding to ensure care and staffing levels in LTC homes to keep pace with residents’ increasing needs and the growing number of residents with complex behaviours; and

“Whereas several Ontario coroner’s inquests into LTC homes deaths have recommended an increase in direct hands-on care for residents and staffing levels and the most reputable studies on this topic recommend 4.1 hours of direct care per day;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to amend the LTC Homes Act (2007) for a legislated minimum care standard to provide an average of four hours per resident per day, adjusted for acuity level and case mix.”

I support this petition, affix my signature and will send it to the table.

Order of business

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I recognize the government House leader.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I’m sure you’ll find unanimous consent to see the clock at 6.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Agreed? Agreed.

Private Members’ Public Business

Time Amendment Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 modifiant la Loi sur l’heure légale

Mr. Roberts moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 214, An Act to amend the Time Act and various other Acts / Projet de loi 214, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l’heure légale et diverses autres lois.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to standing order 101, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.

I recognize the member for Ottawa West–Nepean.

Mr. Jeremy Roberts: It’s a pleasure to rise today to debate my second private member’s bill, Bill 214, the Time Amendment Act.

Speaker, at the end of this month, October 31, Ontarians will take part in a biannual tradition. It won’t just be trick-or-treating and scary movies; Ontarians will also move their clocks back an hour as part of daylight saving time. This autumn change is known colloquially as the “fall back.” I have long been an opponent of this outdated practice. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is left feeling groggy and off-put in the days following these changes. It’s a hassle to have to change over all of your clocks, especially your car clock, and I would be surprised if I was the only one who has overslept and missed a meeting as a result of the change. That is why I have brought forward this PMB, which will eliminate the biannual time change in Ontario and move us to permanent daylight saving time.

As I often do, I would like to begin by looking at the history of this practice to better understand why we adopted it in the first place. The time change gained widespread usage after it was implemented by Germany during World War I. The Germans wanted to see if by adjusting their clock, they could save on coal consumption, a valuable commodity during wartime. Not wanting to be outmatched, the British, Americans and Canadians soon followed suit. Ever since that time, we have followed this practice without much consideration of the benefits or harms.

However, recent studies have started to suggest that the time change may be causing much more harm than good. Firstly, there have been several studies that have suggested that the time change is having no material effect on our energy consumption, as any savings at one time of the day are inevitably eaten up at the other end. In fact, the US National Bureau of Economic Research released a study that concluded that daylight saving time might actually be wasting energy because heaters and air conditioners were being kept on later to account for extended afternoon daylight. Furthermore, we have seen adverse health outcomes from this practice.

Denmark’s Psychiatric Central Research Register found that depression levels spiked as much as 8% in early November after the fall back. One of the researchers, Søren Østergaard, is quoted as saying, “We are relatively certain that it is the transition from daylight saving time to standard time that causes the increase in the number of depression diagnoses and not, for example, the change in the length of the day or bad weather.”

A US study looked at hospital records across the United States and found a 24% increase in heart attacks amongst higher-risk populations following the spring forward time change. Similarly, the American Academy of Neurology found an 8% increase in strokes at the same time.


The Japanese Society of Sleep Research has suggested that the time change may lead to a rise in suicide deaths, and another study, published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine, found a 10% increase in fatal automobile collisions as a result of the time change. A metastudy by Rutgers backs up this finding on vehicle collisions, arguing that “Results show that full-year daylight saving time would reduce pedestrian fatalities by 171 per year, or by 13% of all pedestrian fatalities in the 5 a.m.-10 a.m. and in the 4 p.m.-9 p.m. time periods. Motor vehicle occupant fatalities would be reduced by 195 per year, or 3%, during the same time periods.”

This also has a spillover effect in the workplace. An article published in the Journal of the American Psychological Association found a sizable amount of workplace injuries associated with daylight-saving-time-induced fatigue. Beyond these quantifiable health impacts, we can also see a decrease in productivity linked to the time change. A joint German-British study found that both Germans and Brits experienced non-negligible losses of utility after losing an hour of sleep. A Penn State study found individuals also increased their time “cyberloafing”—i.e. wasting time on the Internet—at work after the time change.

Let’s take a moment to summarize these findings. The time change is a wartime practice that no longer serves its original purpose. It is causing more people to be depressed. It is likely leading to an increase in heart attacks, strokes and, potentially, suicides. It is likely causing more fatal car crashes and workplace injuries, Finally, it is decreasing our productivity. This begs the question: Why are we keeping it?

The rest of the world certainly doesn’t see much benefit. In fact, 79% of the world does not follow this practice, and more jurisdictions are looking at shrugging it off. Saskatchewan and the Yukon have already abandoned the practice, with Alberta and BC publicly musing on the possibility. In the United States, Arizona and Hawaii don’t follow the time-change practice, and no fewer than Alaska, California, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Washington state are all considering the same. Across the pond, the European Union is also considering ending the practice.

Ontario should be at the forefront of this charge, but we also can’t be unreasonable. Previous bills have been brought forward in this Legislature to make a similar change, and I would like to take a moment to commend those members for their efforts on this incredibly important initiative. However, these bills have all called upon the government to introduce the change immediately upon passage of the legislation. This would be problematic.

There are two factors which must be considered prior to the ending of the biannual time change. First, we would want to do the change in coordination with the state of New York. Ontario benefits from sharing the same time zone as the markets in New York City. It will continue to be in our best interest to preserve this commonality.

Second, Ontario should not implement this without Quebec following suit. As an Ottawa-area MPP, there are several logistical reasons for this. While Ottawa is the nation’s capital, much of the federal government’s workforce is spread out across both downtown Ottawa and Gatineau. In fact, the largest concentration of federal civil servants anywhere in the world other than the Pentagon is headquartered in the Portage complex in Gatineau. It would be logistically unfeasible for half of the federal government to be on one time zone while the other half, just across the river, was on another.

Because of these twin considerations, my bill proposes that this change would only come into effect at the discretion of the Attorney General. This would allow the AG to implement this change only when the appropriate changes are also set to take effect in Quebec and New York.

Should this bill be passed into law, I will be endeavouring to reach out to counterparts in those neighbouring jurisdictions to advance this cause.

I would like to take a moment to thank the Attorney General for supporting my efforts. The Attorney General often remarks that the first letter he wrote upon assuming his office as Attorney General was actually a letter to me on this very topic. I had been lobbying him on this from the moment he took office, and I’m sure if the Attorney General were here with us today, he would confess to being skeptical of the idea at first. However, I have gradually won him over, as I hope to do with all of you today.

Amongst jurisdictions considering ending this practice, there has been some debate over whether to move to permanent standard time or permanent daylight saving time. Most jurisdictions are opting for permanent daylight saving time, which is what my bill also proposes. The reasons for this are both common sense and practical. Permanent daylight saving time will, on average, provide us with more sunlight in the evenings, which is generally the preferred leisure time of working Ontarians. The practical implications are many: More daylight in the evening will likely generate more economic activity, as individuals are more likely to go out shopping after work if it is still light out. A JPMorgan Chase study found a decrease of 3.5% retail activity following the fall back change. This is backed up by a Massachusetts-commissioned report that also found that year-round DST would positively impact consumer spending because of additional evening daylight. Also, according to the Brookings Institution, robberies fall, on average, by 7% following the spring change to daylight saving time, which is believed to be linked to the increase in evening sunlight. All of these arguments have made a compelling case for why we should make daylight saving time the de facto time for Ontario.

Ontarians are facing challenging times during COVID-19. Alongside the public health challenges, we are also seeing mental health issues spiking and ongoing economic issues. As we contemplate how to tackle these problems, I would posit that ending the biannual time change and shifting to permanent daylight saving time is a credible part of a stimulus plan. In fact, the JPMorgan Chase study referenced above argued that making DST permanent may be an effective stimulus, and more effective than other policy measures.

The time change is shown to cause an increase in depression, an already worrying problem in our current context. Moreover, the fall back could hurt our retail activity at a time when we need to see the exact opposite.

While we may not be able to avert this 2020 fall back on Halloween, let’s work together to start a regional dialogue with our neighbours. Ontario can lead the way on making this change, and we can leave an enormous legacy as the 42nd Ontario Parliament in passing this permanent change.

I am strongly in favour of sound public policy that reflects data and research, and as I have presented today, there is ample data to support this change.

Mr. Speaker, I hope I can count on everyone’s support to make this change a reality.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Jeff Burch: It’s a pleasure to rise today and speak to Bill 214, the Time Amendment Act, which is a private member’s bill brought forward by the member from Ottawa West–Nepean, and he has done a good job of summarizing the bill.

Bill 214 will eliminate the biannual changing of the clocks for daylight saving time and standard time by choosing daylight saving time as the new standard for year-round usage. As the member has pointed out, many other jurisdictions in North America have already passed similar legislation or have proposed it; Saskatchewan, being one, has observed daylight saving time year-round since 1966.


Of course, our caucus will not be opposing the bill. But I have to ask why this bill is being introduced, and why now, first of all, for the obvious reason that we have much more important things to consider. Also, this bill bears a striking resemblance to the private member’s bill from the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, Bill 174, the Ditch the Switch Act, or, as we call it on this side, Miller time. That bill was passed in March 2020 and would have come into effect upon royal assent. There were plenty of opportunities to work with that bill. I would disagree with the member that that bill was not something that we could work with and that this is a necessary thing. It was actually something that was already discussed, was already debated, and here we are talking about it again when we have much more important things to be concerned about.

The member mentioned—and I was surprised—that this could be part of a COVID recovery plan, and I would really question that. There are much more important things that individuals and businesses have raised. I haven’t heard anyone talk about daylight saving time as a way to deal with COVID. In my riding of Niagara Centre, people are not particularly concerned about daylight saving time when an ongoing global pandemic is threatening their health and their economic security.

Just this week, my office spoke with Susan. Susan’s concern was not daylight saving time. She watched her grandson on the weekend, when, a few days later, his stepfather, who was very close, tested positive for COVID-19. The grandson was showing symptoms, and Susan has been subsequently trying to get a COVID-19 test since September 26. When Susan contacted Niagara Health, she was told that she did not fit the new provincial criteria for testing and she should go to Shoppers Drug Mart. Susan called Shoppers Drug Mart, who refused to test her because she was symptomatic and could have been exposed to COVID-19. Susan then contacted Niagara Region Public Health, who informed her that they would not recommend she get tested and to go about her daily business.

Susan has elderly parents, Speaker. Her father is at the end stages of COPD. Her mother had a stroke. Susan cares for her parents and hasn’t seen them for over two weeks because of the difficulties in getting a COVID test. These are things that people are concerned about, not daylight saving time. Susan is unable to return to work as her employer requires her to have a negative test. She hasn’t even been able to get groceries.

Susan was at a loss. She sent us an email last night. She was not asking about daylight saving time. She asked: “Is the Premier telling me to assume I do not have COVID-19 and go into my elderly parents’ house with my fingers crossed and pray I don’t pass COVID on to them? And to tell my employer that the Ontario government sees no reason for me to get tested, and return to work and, again, pretend like my grandson’s stepfather never tested positive?” That’s what my constituents are concerned about.

Just this week, my office received a mountain of calls from people unable to get tested—not one call was about daylight saving time.

Rudy, another constituent, called me just yesterday; he’s an essential caregiver for his mother at a nursing home. He can’t see her until he has a negative test. The soonest he can get an appointment? October 26 in Niagara.

Dave from Thorold, where I live, has a sore throat and other COVID symptoms. He’s been trying to get an appointment since September 27. The only way he can get an appointment—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I think the government House leader has a point of order.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, to the best of my understanding, this is private members’ business, and the business at hand is a private member’s bill brought forward by the member for Ottawa West–Nepean on the time change. I wonder if the honourable member might, at some point, focus on that part for debate there. There is going to be ample time to continue debating the other things that he has raised, unless he would like every private members’ business debate to be one of how they’re not focusing on things that are important to the people of Ontario. It’s private members’ business. Perhaps, for five seconds, we could focus on that bill.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I want to say that it is a valid point of order to draw the Speaker’s attention to the fact that remarks might not be relevant to the debate. We are, in fact, debating Bill 214, about daylight saving time, but I have heard the member for Niagara Centre make reference to that several times during his comments. But I would remind him that we are debating Bill 214 and ask him to speak to that particular issue.

The member for Niagara Centre.

Mr. Jeff Burch: Thank you, Speaker. I am sharing my time with my friend from Windsor–Tecumseh—unfortunately, that eats up a lot of the clock. But I would point out respectfully, Speaker, that the member said that this was part of the COVID-19 recovery plan strategy, and I am arguing that it’s not and that there are much more important things that are part of the strategy, such as timely testing and many, many other issues that my constituents have been calling my office about. So I am debating with the member, which I think is the purpose of standing here, saying that I don’t think this is part of a COVID recovery plan, that it’s actually something that we shouldn’t be talking about right now, and that was my point, Speaker.

I’m going to wrap up so my friend from Windsor–Tecumseh has some time. But I would urge the government members to consider the fear and the urgency felt by our constituents, and ensure that we’re using our time here thoughtfully to consider matters that would make our constituents’ lives better. Thank you.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Ms. Lindsey Park: It’s a pleasure to rise to contribute to the debate on Bill 214, An Act to amend the Time Act and various other Acts, sponsored by the member for Ottawa West–Nepean. To reiterate, this is a private member’s bill that we’re debating during the time allocated for private members’ business.

The changes proposed by my colleague, I think, looking at this bill, reading it, are quite straightforward and they can be made, really, with just a few amendments to current legislation and regulations.

Currently, a number of bills that various cabinet ministers across government oversee include this kind of reference to daylight saving time, and so to even consider making this sort of change in the future, those kinds of amendments to legislation would need to be made. Some of those bills include: the Election Act, which references daylight saving time; the Labour Relations Act, 1995, references it; as well as the Mining Act. So the Time Amendment Act that’s before us here—that’s the short title for Bill 214—would update the language by striking out “Eastern Daylight Time” wherever it appears in those pieces of legislation. So with a few technical changes, we could keep the clocks on one time all year round.

Now, before I get a bit more into the substance, I heard from the member for Niagara Centre that he couldn’t understand why we’re debating this in the middle of a pandemic. I will take a different approach to that argument. Every member of this House knows that we have limited opportunities as private members to bring forward the issues that matter most to our constituents; in fact, it’s often less than once a year maybe that we get a chance to bring forward a private member’s bill, and the development of those bills starts well in advance of the day we actually debate it here in the House. I can only imagine that the member for Ottawa West–Nepean was thinking about this and putting this concept forward long before we even had a pandemic.

I think the argument the member opposite is trying to make is that we should abandon all private members’ business because we’re in the middle of a pandemic. I would argue that if we stopped governing and all the ministries stopped working on anything that was not directly connected to the pandemic, that would make our economic recovery far worse. It would stop all the industries in our economy if we did that. So I think there is good reason to proceed with these kinds of bills, and I’m pleased to stand and contribute to the debate on this one before us today.

This bill is a move that is proposing an idea, really, that is gaining momentum around the world. Where time switching, which is what we do in Ontario, is still practised, there is popular support from large groups of the public to remove that time change in those jurisdictions. More and more governments are heeding the people and making daylight saving time permanent and this time switching a thing of the past.


Having one standard time is a change that I’m supportive of as parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General, so long as Ontario’s neighbours also show they’re willing to make that change. I think there are very real concerns, which the member for Ottawa West–Nepean has clearly considered, about what might happen if Ontario went on its own and made this change and didn’t line up with other jurisdictions that we have routine business with on a daily basis, whether it be when the markets open and close—that would certainly be confusing, if suddenly, in Ontario, we were in a different time zone than New York.

The member for Ottawa West–Nepean certainly mentioned the unique situation we have with our federal government buildings, where some of those buildings are actually in two different provinces. Some of the buildings are in Quebec and some of them are in Ontario, so I can see where it might be confusing for government members from different ministries to arrive at meetings at the right time if the two provinces were in different time zones. I think those considerations make sense, and I would be supportive of making this change, so long as those other jurisdictions were willing to make the move at the same time.

As I mentioned, it’s a change that more and more jurisdictions in Canada and across the world are indeed moving toward. British Columbia, for example, has passed an act that is similar to what this act would do. It repealed all Lieutenant Governor in Council regulation-making powers to vary standard time and daylight saving time. That province’s move comes after they did very extensive polling. Again, I heard from the member opposite who thought people don’t really care about this. Well, BC did some polling on this. Maybe they were surprised to find this, but they found that there were large percentages of their population that were in favour of this kind of idea. The province’s move came after an online survey showed 93% of about 220,000 respondents said that they were in favour of permanent daylight saving time. That’s interesting.

I think we’ve all stood up here in favour of things that have majority support, but don’t necessarily have percentages like that—93%. That’s very high for any proposal of any government, any bill that’s ever come before this House.

Speaker, you also might know that the territorial government of Yukon this past March—and the member from Ottawa West–Nepean already referenced this—voted to go on daylight saving time permanently. Therefore, they won’t be putting their clocks back by an hour this fall, while Ontario and other places in Canada still will be. In addition, Saskatchewan already keeps the same time zone year-round. So Ontario and the rest of the provinces in Canada should, I think, if only for consistency, consider following suit. But, as I’m going to allude to here, there are also other reasons to consider this kind of change.

The practice of changing our clocks twice a year is an outdated practice that, as the member from Ottawa West–Nepean referenced, has been around since 1915. In Canada, daylight saving time started around the same time as the First World War, and that’s 100 years ago now. It was introduced as a way of saving coal, which is hard for us to relate to today; we phased coal out of Ontario. It’s an interesting reason for a policy, but we know these are very real things that are considered in developing policy.

So, today, this clock-switching game, as I call it—as more studies have been done on it, many studies have found that it actually does really mess with, if I can say it that way, people’s sleep patterns. There are studies showing that this clock-switching is unhealthy for our bodies.

Now, you may not agree with that, Speaker. Maybe you’re someone who has never had trouble with time changes. Obviously these kinds of things with how people sleep are very much a different thing person to person, and it affects everyone in different ways, but I think that’s a consideration when you’re thinking of costs and benefits of a policy. If there are health considerations, I think that’s something a government should consider.

In addition, it was once thought that one of the most touted benefits of this time change system, this clock-switching, is that it was a way to save energy. After more studies on that, it has actually been found that that’s not scientifically proven, that we don’t actually save energy because of this policy and that it may, in fact, have no effects on energy savings. This was noted by National Research Council Canada.

So if that’s the case, that we’re not saving any energy by this policy and it’s having effects on our health—maybe not everyone’s health, but even if it’s a good portion of the population—why would we continue going to the trouble of this clock-switching twice a year? Most of the world doesn’t do this. India doesn’t do it, or South Africa, China or the Philippines, for example. They all got rid of this clock-switching a long time ago.

Speaker, I think when you really consider all those things I’ve mentioned—and I’m sure there are other smaller considerations, like how difficult it is to change in the legislation, what the costs and benefits are—it seems like there are really more costs than benefits when you weigh it, assuming other jurisdictions come along with us. This is just my opinion, but this bill seems to be a common-sense proposal that will certainly help Ontario change with the times.

With that, I want to congratulate my colleague, the member for Ottawa West–Nepean, for bringing this forward, and I’m pleased to support it.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Speaker, I was thinking about Yogi Berra today for some reason—“It’s like déjà vu all over again”—so let’s play a little inside baseball this afternoon.

In March of this year, the NDP member for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, Paul Miller, won unanimous consent for his Bill 174, the Ditch the Switch Act. It was sent to committee, but never called. They took it to committee. They could have made some revisions, amendments, and had it done once the other parties were in sync.

Today, we’re debating Bill 214, the Time Amendment Act, by Mr. Roberts, the member for Ottawa West–Nepean. Speaker, I know you’ll remember Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet,” perhaps. There are two bills: Mr. Miller’s, still on the order paper and waiting to be called to committee, and now another one from the government side of the House. Don’t get me wrong, Speaker; I have great respect for Mr. Roberts, and he knows that.

For years, as you know, there have been reports of ghosts walking through these halls. You check with the Clerks’ table, and I know you’ll find someone down there who has first-hand experience of that. I haven’t seen any ghosts, but if I listen carefully this afternoon, I bet I can hear a spirited bellow all the way from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, “Wow! Put some mustard on that baloney.” Those are the favourite and often-repeated phrases of Mr. Miller, the MPP for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek. He and we on this side of the House are wondering why, if these two bills are practically identical, the Ditch the Switch Act wasn’t called to committee for amendments to be made and passed into law?

Has the government worked out a deal with Quebec? No. Do federal employees in Hull and Ottawa have to be in sync? Yes. Well, Michigan, which you forgot to mention—Windsor has got the busiest border crossing; more billions of dollars cross every day through Windsor and Detroit. He didn’t even talk about just-in-time delivery, didn’t even talk about assembly lines being on the same synchronization so that the just-in-time delivery parts and services get to where they’re going to be going. A one-hour difference on assembly would create chaos.


My friend Dean Paul La Bute back in Windsor has been on me since I was first elected to this House to support any bill that called for the scrapping of daylight saving time. I’m sure, Dean, if you’re listening to this debate this afternoon, you’ll be getting your hopes up. But, buddy, there’s another saying by Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

I don’t know if this debate will ever be over and a decision made to ditch the switch and protect the sunshine or amend the time. If the government really wanted to ditch the switch, they could have done so any time since March, when we unanimously adopted Bill 174, submitted by the NDP member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek. I’m still confused as to why my good friend from Ottawa West–Nepean saw the need to submit this bill with an identical purpose this afternoon.

Quebec, Manitoba, New York and Michigan—all those living on our borders—manufacturing goods for just-in-time delivery, crossing the provincial border to work in a government building in Ottawa or Quebec—where’s the coordination? Why wasn’t this work done first and then the bill submitted? That timing makes all the sense in the world. Without synchronization, without a deal that we’re all on board with this concept together, will the Conservative government ever pass amendments to this law? I don’t know. We shouldn’t be messing with people’s expectations.

The bill may get the member from Ottawa West–Nepean a headline in the Ottawa Citizen, but you can’t fool all of the people all the time. When you’re suggesting a bill that changes the time—or doesn’t change the time—and it doesn’t happen, the people will remember when it comes to election time. That’s the time that’s important.

This bill is premature. The advance work should have been done first—or Mr. Miller’s called and amendments made at committee.

Thank you for your time this afternoon, Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): No time like the present.

Further debate? Further debate?

The member for Ottawa West–Nepean has two minutes to reply.

Mr. Jeremy Roberts: It has been a pleasure to take part in this debate today. I certainly appreciated the comments from my colleague the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General. I thank her again for her support and for the Attorney General’s support on this unique bill that was put together, in coordination with the Attorney General’s office, to make sure that, right from the start, we were dealing with that all-critical issue of making sure we can make this change at the right time in coordination with some of our neighbouring jurisdictions.

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my debate, I am a strong believer in studying pieces of public policy like this on the data, on the merits. I presented a strong case, I believe, as to why getting rid of daylight saving time is in the best interests of Ontario—from the health concerns to energy consumption not being a particularly meritorious argument anymore, to productivity arguments, to arguments about how this will hurt retail sales at a time when we don’t want it to, and in fact, beyond that, to arguments about how it could potentially reduce crime. In all of those instances, I focused on data and facts from academic literature and research.

I must admit that I was disappointed in some of the comments made by the opposition—not focusing on the merits and the data—in this particular debate. I like to believe that I’m a strong contributing member of this Legislature. As a practice, I don’t heckle members of the opposition, and I try to contribute in a thoughtful way to debates, and I would have expected that the same courtesy be returned from all members of the opposition. Unfortunately, that was not possible today.

Again, I appreciate some of the comments that were made. Certainly, the comments made by my friend and colleague the member for Windsor–Tecumseh about the need to coordinate with Michigan merit further study.

Together, we can work on making this a reality in this region so that we can help all Ontarians.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.

Mr. Roberts has moved second reading of Bill 214, An Act to amend the Time Act and various other Acts. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Ottawa West–Nepean?

Mr. Jeremy Roberts: Legislative Assembly.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Is the majority in favour of this bill being referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly? Agreed? Agreed.

This House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 9 a.m.

The House adjourned at 1356.