42e législature, 1re session

L219B - Mon 7 Dec 2020 / Lun 7 déc 2020



Monday 7 December 2020 Lundi 7 décembre 2020

Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur la protection, le soutien et la relance face à la COVID-19 (mesures budgétaires)

Report continued from volume A.


Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur la protection, le soutien et la relance face à la COVID-19 (mesures budgétaires)

Continuation of debate on the motion for third reading of the following bill:

Bill 229, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact, amend and repeal various statutes / Projet de loi 229, Loi visant à mettre en oeuvre les mesures budgétaires et à édicter, à modifier ou à abroger diverses lois.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Good evening, everyone. I’m honoured to rise today to debate Bill 229 on behalf of the watershed-sensitive community of Scarborough–Guildwood. My riding sits atop Lake Ontario, right above the majestic Scarborough Bluffs, and Highland Creek runs through my riding. The role of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in regulating land, rivers and lakes is integral to the livability in my riding. The intelligent work, the technical know-how protects people and property and is preserving this beautiful ecosystem for future generations.

It won’t come as a surprise that I will not be voting in support of this bill, despite the inclusion of schedule 5, a moratorium on commercial rent evictions—we know that businesses in my community have been asking for that; schedule 9 on early childhood education and protections from sexual predators—obviously, we have to protect our children and students and young people; the employer health tax, making permanent an exemption for revenues below $1 million—small businesses would welcome that; and schedule 7 on credit unions.

There are just a few other schedules in this bill that make it problematic and seriously flawed, and that really show and reveal the government’s intention.

The government has rushed this omnibus bill through the House and through committee without proper scrutiny and has not heeded the calls of our Liberal caucus, of other members of the opposition and independents, of all 36 conservation authorities, of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, of AMO, of the big city mayors and countless environmental groups and of course, spectacularly this weekend, of their own Greenbelt Council, who have said to remove schedule 6, so that you can actually improve this legislation and the intent of this bill.

The government has had every opportunity to change course but has stubbornly resisted expert science-based advice. Despite repeated warnings, they have doubled down on their unbridled march to environmental disaster. The groups and individuals who were able to present to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs were not heeded. The government introduced sweeping amendments at the eleventh hour which doubled down on their policy of granting themselves ministerial power to override the science-based permitting decisions of conservation authorities. The committee process was not done in that good, bipartisan spirit of listening to all sides.

Bill 229 is a flawed bill, and the government is pushing ahead with their agenda, regardless of what is best for Ontario. This legislation will make sweeping changes to the power of conservation authorities. In fact, the very highly respected Mr. David Crombie said that this is really pulling the heart out of conservation authorities to fulfill their mandates to protect wetlands. Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities don’t agree with the direction that you are taking.

You know, 95% of Ontarians reside in wetlands, so the work of conservation authorities is vitally important and requires careful consideration. I’ve had thousands of calls to my constituency office, messages, social media reach-outs and emails from constituents and concerned citizens who have been clear—absolutely clear—in their unanimous rejection of schedule 6. I have not heard from any person or organization that welcomes the change. One woman asked, “Can’t we just focus on COVID?” I agree with her. There are more important things that we need to be doing in this province, and we are not focused on the urgent needs of people in the pandemic.

It’s very telling that in his remarks to the media this morning, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was unable to answer who had asked the government for amendments in schedule 6. Who had even asked for this eleventh-hour amendment? His remarks came after half of the Greenbelt Council resigned in protest, including the well-respected chair, David Crombie. Of course, we all know that Mr. Crombie is a former Conservative MP and cabinet minister. If members of the Greenbelt Council did not believe that the government would act in good faith, why should we? Why should Ontarians?

Mr. Crombie and others describe the Ford government’s decision as “disastrously assaults,” “high-level bombing,” “needs to be resisted,” “concerning,” “troubling.” This does not inspire confidence. These are glaring warning signs that should tell you, “Slow down. Don’t go.”

The government needs to listen to these leading experts, like our farmers and agro-producers, farmers who need to protect our land and our environment for future generations. They are the responsible stewards, striving to coexist with the environment to avoid flooding and extreme weather.


AMO, the big city mayors and municipal leaders don’t support this. Despite what the government is trying to say, they actually work with their conservation authorities, and many councils have moved motions asking the province to stand down and withdraw schedule 6.

City of Toronto motion 26.8 explicitly says that city council on November 25 and 26—so well in advance of our debate today—adopted this item and in so doing has requested “the government of Ontario to remove proposed amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act in Bill 229 relating to planning, permitting and enforcement, and to include strengthened provisions related to enforcement, in order to support a balanced approach to development, enable conservation authorities to mitigate natural hazards and protect natural heritage, and to prevent any downloading of enforcement costs to municipalities.”

They’re speaking from experience. We know that Hurricane Hazel killed so many people; I believe it was 81, Madam Speaker. There are many projects in the city of Toronto that have had to occur as a result of flood mitigation that was recognized because of Hurricane Hazel.

Our weather and our climate are becoming even more extreme due to climate change, and we need to be doing more to protect wetland areas, not less. Wetlands play such a valuable role in our communities, in our watershed communities, to absorb that moisture, to filter it, to clean our water and to keep our communities safe.

Madam Speaker, to add insult to injury, schedule 8 further jeopardizes Ontario’s conservation and biodiversity. It puts species at risk and endangered species in harm’s way, and is not in line with the Endangered Species Act. We heard from many witnesses in committee who recommended removing schedule 8, and the government, once again, is not listening.

The government’s blatant disregard for responsible environmental stewardship continues in schedule 40 of Bill 229, which weakens public consultation and the management and planning of Ontario’s parks and conservation areas. The government’s record on the environment is poor, to say it best. They’ve ripped out electric vehicle charging stations. They have upended environmental assessments; we know that nine northern Ontario First Nations associations are taking this government to court for that. This is an opportunity for the government to do the right thing and to remove schedule 6—and schedule 8, as well.

Schedule 22 is also problematic. We heard from small investors, from seniors who had purchased universal life policies in good faith. In this omnibus bill, with no consultation whatsoever, the government has slipped in a law that will take away those seniors’ rights; 250,000 of them are impacted by this government’s actions.

This bill has many flaws, and the government had an opportunity in committee to correct them. Instead of doing so, under the cover of the COVID pandemic, it has decided to double down.

Mr. Speaker, this bill threatens the current and future health of our environment, our wetlands and, by extension, the economic and personal security of Ontarians. The government’s proposed changes are a very real threat to the future prosperity of this province. While it is frustrating to repeat this message, I am hoping that the government will listen and turn from their unbridled march to environmental disaster by removing schedule 6.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Questions?

Mr. Michael Parsa: I really appreciate the opportunity always to contribute to the debate. Speaker, this bill, the budget that was presented by the finance minister, was a result of some amazing and hard work by not just the finance minister, but his hard-working parliamentary assistant—


Mr. Michael Parsa: He absolutely deserves a clap—who met with Ontarians to make sure that all areas are covered. This bill supports individuals, families, seniors, education, health, small and medium-sized businesses—those job creators, Mr. Speaker—through all kinds of relief, as I said earlier, through the reduction in the property tax, the payroll tax—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Question?

Mr. Michael Parsa: I’m wondering why my honourable colleague will not support this, after all of these were included. These Ontarians are looking for these supports. Our small businesses and mid-sized business owners are looking for supports. Why is she not supporting it?

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: I want to thank the member from Aurora–Oak Ridges–Richmond Hill. It was good that you were listening to my debate. I did say that raising the threshold to $1 million for the EHT gives a break to more small businesses, and I recognize that. I think that more of them are going to need that break.

I can’t support it for all of the reasons that I said. I have to be accountable to the people in my riding, and many of them are outraged, really, by schedule 6, and they want it removed.

I want you to know that all members work hard on providing the government with input on the budget. We had a committee all summer long that sat in hearings to provide the best ideas and advice, and we’re just hopeful that the government listens.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions?

Mr. Jamie West: Thank you to the member for Scarborough–Guildwood for her debate.

The member opposite talked about the importance of supporting small businesses. I talked earlier about how I walk to Queen’s Park and I continue to see more and more small businesses closed. I’m wondering, to the member from Scarborough–Guildwood, why would a budget designed to help during COVID have no real structural supports to help small businesses make ends meet, especially in Toronto, where they’re locked down, unable to open except for curbside assistance, while the doors are wide open for a place like Walmart?

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: I want to say thank you to the member from Sudbury. You know, I agree with you. I think that the government has not focused on the real needs of small businesses or isn’t listening to their representatives, like the CFIB, which is telling the government that 60% of small businesses may not make it through the COVID pandemic. We might see some serious issues, even post-vaccine, where businesses are just not able to pull through.

In my riding, there’s the Olde Stone Cottage Pub. They have explained to me that they were able to weather wave 1, but they’re just not sure they can make it through a second wave. They don’t have the cash flow. They don’t have that ability to sustain. There aren’t any real measures in this budget bill to help those small businesses with those liquidity cash flow needs to help give them relief.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions?

Mr. Logan Kanapathi: I’m happy to rise today to participate in the budgetary process. I’d like to thank the minister and the parliamentary assistant for their hard work on this bill.

My question to my opposite great MPP from Scarborough–Guildwood: You passionately talk about health care funding and funding for the Scarborough hospital and all sorts of things. Since March, our government purchased $1.1 billion in personal protective equipment to protect our front-line heroes so they can do their essential work safely. That is 300 million masks, 900 million gloves, 50 million gowns and all sorts of things. Will the member opposite be supporting our government to continue its commitment to the health and safety of the people of Ontario?


Ms. Mitzie Hunter: I want to say thanks to the member opposite from Markham–Thornhill. I think that it’s definitely the responsibility of the government to spend money on PPE for front-line health care workers.

I do remind the member that the federal government has funded 92% of the COVID response right here in Ontario. A lot of federal transfers have been made to purchase PPE for the safe reopening of schools: $763 million given to the province of Ontario. Yet rather than investing in lowering class sizes to 15 and having an even safer environment, they haven’t done that.

In my riding of Scarborough–Guildwood, there has been a sustained community spread since March. There has been no relief for the people of my community. It’s been circulating—in the schools, in the community, in homes—and that has to stop. We need more investment, not less.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions? I recognize the member from—Brampton North.

Mr. Kevin Yarde: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are so many of us on this side, it does get confusing.

My question to the member: I appreciate her speech. In this Bill 229, there’s no mention at all about hiring more PSWs for long-term care. There’s no mention about having four hours of hands-on care immediately for long-term-care residents. As well, there’s no money in this bill for an additional hospital in Brampton, my riding, where we have almost 700,000 residents and only one fully active hospital.

But what I wanted to talk about right now is schedule 6, which has been slipped into Bill 229. My question to the member is, this legislation removes checks and balances that ensure the safe development of communities. I’ve been speaking to representatives from Credit Valley Conservation, and they are concerned about this as well—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. To the member from Scarborough–Guildwood for your response.

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: First of all, I want to thank the member from Brampton North. I can attest to perhaps 702,000 members of the Brampton community, because my mother, Yvonne Hunter Blake, and my stepdad, Samner Blake, are residents. So I want to see the community have the health care investments that it needs and deserves, just as my own community in Scarborough–Guildwood is also in line and going through all the stages and phases of a new hospital, which the member from Markham–Thornhill mentioned. That’s our job: to advocate on behalf of our constituents and on behalf of our communities.

The government has missed a big opportunity by not investing in public health, by not investing in personal support workers and in the average of four hours of care that they should have. Rather than doing that, they are busy meddling in the business of conservation authorities, which are mostly funded by municipal governments.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions?

Mr. Stan Cho: I appreciate the debate from the member opposite, but I’m curious where she’s getting her financial statistics from. She said a couple lines in her comments there that I can’t seem to find anywhere in the budget. Namely, she said that the federal government accounted for 92% of this budget’s spending, but I calculate, based on the out-years and the math that I’ve done in this budget, that it was actually 23%, if you include all out-years moving to the fourth fiscal year.

The other thing that the member claimed was that this government is sitting on $9.3 billion. But when we look at page 187, at the drawdowns to the contingencies, at the very bottom, it says $2.6 billion. Throw on top of that that we just used the contingency for $300 million to support—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Question?

Mr. Stan Cho: That calculation to me is $2.3 billion: 80% of the fiscal year done, 80% of the contingency spent. What page can the member point to, to verify her statistics that she is asserting?

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Well, I could debate numbers with the parliamentary assistant all day long. I enjoy numbers a lot, actually; that’s why I did an MBA at Rotman. But $2.3 billion is the number in your budget—I believe it’s on page 183; it might be on 187. It’s one of those pages. It’s $2.3 billion in contingencies—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. Further debate?

Mme Natalia Kusendova: C’est un réel privilège de prendre la parole à la Chambre aujourd’hui pour parler du tout nouveau budget de notre gouvernement, Plan d’action de l’Ontario pour la protection, le soutien et la relance.

Ce budget est, sans aucun doute, l’un des plus ambitieux et des plus robustes de l’histoire de notre province. C’est, essentiellement, notre gouvernement qui se montre à la hauteur de l’un des défis les plus importants auxquels l’Ontario a été confronté dans son histoire.

Ce que nous avons présenté aux Ontariennes et Ontariens avec ce budget, c’est un plan qui, au fond, affirme notre priorité numéro un : assurer la sécurité et la santé des Ontariens face au virus de la COVID-19. Mais notre gouvernement ne s’est pas arrêté là. Il déploie des efforts remarquables pour atténuer les graves conséquences de cette pandémie dévastatrice.

Ce budget complet prévoit un soutien total de 45 milliards de dollars sur trois ans, appuyant plusieurs facteurs clés, monsieur le Président. Ce budget rendra disponibles les ressources de santé nécessaires pour continuer à protéger les Ontariens dans notre grande province. Ce budget mettra en oeuvre des programmes et des mesures fiscales essentielles dont dépendent les Ontariennes et Ontariens qui travaillent et les entreprises qui créent ces emplois, car les conditions commerciales sont entravées par la pandémie. Enfin, ce budget jettera une base solide pour la reprise économique de l’Ontario après la COVID-19, garantissant que nous tirerons pleinement parti des années à venir alors que nous reviendrons dans un monde et une économie qui ressemblent davantage à la normalité.

Mr. Speaker, I’d like to spend some time talking about aspects of the budget that are close to my heart as a nurse, a member of my community and as a parliamentarian. First, let’s discuss what this budget will deliver to the health care system of this province. This new Ontario budget reaffirms a strong and steadfast commitment to our world-class health care system. We have been very clear in our funding thus far in supporting our health care heroes with the tools that they need to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

That is why in March, at the precipice of this battle against COVID-19, our government quickly made $3.3 billion available to ensure our front-line health care workers were equipped for the battle ahead. This funding supported 141 hospitals and health care facilities across the province, including in my city of Mississauga, including the hospital in which I work in Etobicoke, and a further 162 assessment centres, critical for the ability of local health units to manage cases and perform contact tracing.

An additional $100 million was provided to public health units and $170 million for community capacity, home care and Telehealth Ontario to respond to the first wave of COVID-19. Nearly $1.1 billion for personal protective equipment and other critical supplies were quickly sourced and distributed around the province to front-line health care workers and our patients who needed them the most.

I am happy to say that these commitments to fighting COVID-19 are continued and strengthened in this budget. We are responsive and ready to all possible future outbreaks of COVID-19, Mr. Speaker, with a commitment of an additional $2.8 billion in funding.

Le gouvernement n’épargne absolument aucune dépense en matière de santé et de sécurité des Ontariennes et Ontariens. Notre plan de préparation à l’automne annoncé précédemment, dont découle ce financement, repose sur six piliers stratégiques pour relever les nouveaux défis auxquels fait face l’Ontario avec les conditions changeantes provoquées par les mois les plus froids. Ce nouveau financement continuera de faire en sorte que les mesures de prévention et de protection employées depuis le début de la pandémie demeurent solides et maintenues. Il comprend des piliers pour maintenir toutes les mesures de santé publique nécessaires, ainsi que des capacités de cerner, de gérer et de prévenir les éclosions partout en Ontario.

Ce financement s’inscrit dans le cadre d’un engagement de 70 millions de dollars pour l’achat de 5,1 millions de doses du vaccin antigrippal, ce qui représente la plus importante campagne de vaccinations contre la grippe de l’histoire de notre province.


De plus, ce financement de 2,8 milliards de dollars renforce la capacité intégrée du système de santé, ce qui comprend des efforts accélérés pour éliminer les arriérés de services, se préparer aux poussées et atténuer leurs effets sur la prestation de services de santé de routine, et enfin appuyer les efforts de recrutement, de formation et de soutien des travailleurs de la santé.

En tant que conservateurs, nous savons que ce dont nous héritons doit être amélioré et renforcé pour l’utilisation non seulement de nous-mêmes, mais aussi des générations futures. Mais, monsieur le Président, je voudrais prendre quelques minutes pour parler et souligner certains des engagements clés de ce budget qui profiteront directement à la communauté franco-ontarienne.

En tant que nouvelle adjointe parlementaire de la ministre des Affaires francophones et députée qui a toujours été active au sein de la communauté francophone, je veillerai toujours à défendre leurs besoins et leurs intérêts. Je suis heureuse de dire que ce budget leur est vraiment utile.

Parlons, par exemple, d’une cause qui occupe une grande place dans l’esprit des Ontariens de partout dans la province : la santé mentale. Notre gouvernement investit 3,8 milliards de dollars sur 10 ans dans le plan pour le mieux-être en matière de santé mentale et de toxicomanie, avec un financement supplémentaire pour élargir l’accès à un soutien critique en matière de santé mentale et de lutte contre les dépendances dans toute la province, garantissant ainsi l’aide dont ils ont besoin.

Nous le ferons, monsieur le Président, avec des investissements de 176 millions de dollars en 2020-2021 pour élargir les soutiens communautaires en français et en anglais, en veillant à ce que les écarts linguistiques ne se traduisent pas par des soins inadéquats. Ce financement signifie plus de prestation de services, des équipes de crise mobiles et des lits sécuritaires pour tous ceux qui vivent une crise de santé mentale, que vous préfériez parler en anglais ou en français.

Notre gouvernement investit également dans l’éducation en français : 41 millions de dollars sont destinés aux conseils scolaires francophones de l’Ontario pour financer la construction et la rénovation de cinq écoles francophones. Ceci s’ajoute à la construction de cinq nouvelles écoles. Le gouvernement se réjouit que le fait français prenne encore plus d’importance à l’avenir, et c’est pourquoi la part des écoles francophones dépasse toujours la proportion des Franco-Ontariens dans la province.

Nous investissons également dans l’éducation postsecondaire francophone. Nous savons que ce secteur a été grandement touché par les effets de la pandémie. Le gouvernement investit 17,6 millions de dollars supplémentaires dans l’éducation postsecondaire en français pour les aider à surmonter les impacts de la crise.

Vous me permettrez, monsieur le Président, de prendre un moment pour souligner toute la fierté que nous ressentons par rapport au fait que l’Université de l’Ontario français accueillera sa première cohorte d’étudiants à l’automne 2021. Ces futurs étudiants ne le réalisent peut-être pas encore, mais ils feront partie de l’histoire de notre province. Ce projet, réalisé par notre gouvernement, est d’une grande importance pour la communauté franco-ontarienne et pour l’Ontario tout entière.

Un autre aspect du budget que je suis ravie de souligner est le solide appui de notre gouvernement aux organismes francophones qui développent et servent à la fois la communauté francophone de notre province. Cet engagement s’inscrit dans la section « soutien » de notre budget, ce qui signifie que son objectif est d’assurer la pérennité des organismes qui servent les Ontariens, peu importe leur langue ou leur situation géographique. Je me réjouis de voir l’investissement de 100 millions de dollars pour la Fondation Trillium de l’Ontario. Cet investissement fera une différence importante dans la prestation de service aux Ontariens, incluant la communauté francophone.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario met en place le fonds de secours COVID-19 pour les organisations francophones à but non lucratif afin de soutenir ces groupes critiques dans leurs dépenses, afin d’éviter les fermetures et de les aider à la fois à retenir et à recruter du personnel bilingue qualifié. Le but de ce fonds de secours est de sauver les services essentiels aux francophones.

D’ailleurs, j’aimerais souligner le fait que la ministre des Affaires francophones et le ministère ont mis sur pied un groupe de travail avec l’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario pour s’assurer que les organismes francophones en danger puissent bénéficier rapidement de l’aide dont ils ont besoin.

De plus, ce groupe de travail aide à faire la recension des programmes existants du gouvernement pour s’assurer que les organismes francophones bénéficient de tous les programmes auxquels ils ont droit.

Cette collaboration avec l’AFO fait la démonstration que notre gouvernement est collé sur les réalités des communautés francophones. Quand la communauté et le gouvernement travaillent de concert, ce sont les Franco-Ontariens qui en sortent gagnants.

Cette pandémie a eu des effets dévastateurs sur plusieurs aspects dans notre province, et notre gouvernement est très préoccupé et met tout en oeuvre pour en atténuer les impacts et pour paver la voie de la relance dès maintenant.

De plus, ce budget confirme le renouvellement du Programme d’appui à la francophonie ontarienne avec un investissement de 1 million de dollars. Très populaire dans la communauté franco-ontarienne, ce programme est essentiel pour appuyer la vitalité des communautés francophones. Je suis fière de voir que notre gouvernement continue de soutenir les organismes franco-ontariens, que ce soit en soutenant des projets culturels, sociaux, économiques ou des projets de santé.

Nous savons tous que 2020 n’a pas été une année comme les autres. Elle a été remplie de nouveaux défis et de nouvelles difficultés qui ont touché les Ontariennes et Ontariens de tous les horizons. Cependant, les groupes à but non lucratif de notre province se sont mobilisés pour aider les nécessiteux et les vulnérables de nos collectivités.

Je sais qu’au cours des huit derniers mois, j’ai eu le privilège de travailler avec plusieurs groupes francophones de la région du grand Toronto, et les initiatives dont j’ai eu la chance de faire partie m’ont impressionnée sans fin.

Je tiens à souligner en particulier le Centre francophone du Grand Toronto, dirigé par Florence Ngenzebuhoro, qui a fait preuve à la fois de leadership et d’un engagement profond envers notre communauté en aidant à nourrir et à soutenir les personnes vulnérables dont la vie a été gravement altérée par la pandémie.

Le Centre francophone du Grand Toronto est l’un des plus de 300 organismes francophones à but non lucratif au sein de la communauté francophone de notre province, tous jouant leur propre rôle dans leurs communautés respectives.

Je me dois également de souligner tout le travail de l’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario pendant cette pandémie. Comme mentionné plus haut, nous travaillons ensemble à assurer la survie des organismes affectés par la pandémie. Aussi, ils font un travail extraordinaire pour recenser les besoins des communautés francophones et de nous en faire part.

I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the Ontario Nonprofit Network and the Assemblé de la francophonie de l’Ontario for their collaborative effort in producing the report titled Risk, Resilience, and Rebuilding Communities: The State of Ontario Nonprofits Three Months into the Pandemic. I found this report very informative and helpful as our government endeavours to support Ontario’s 58,000 non-profit organizations, which deliver both essential and non-essential services to Ontarians, not only in French and English, but also in so many other languages spoken across our province’s communities.

Je souhaiterais nommer tous les organismes qui font une différence concrète dans la vie des gens et qui ont fait un travail extraordinaire pendant cette pandémie, mais le temps me manquerait. Je tiens toutefois à leur adresser un grand merci. Ces organisations ont affronté la crise de main de maître en faisant tout en leur pouvoir pour servir leurs communautés. Je sais que tout le gouvernement et les élus du Parlement les remercient pour leur travail.

Ces organisations fournissent le soutien nécessaire dans une grande variété de domaines, y compris les services sociaux, les soins de santé, l’éducation de la petite enfance et, en outre, des soutiens pour trouver un emploi et des possibilités de réseautage.

Nous reconnaissons aussi, avant tout, à quel point ces groupes francophones sans but lucratif sont essentiels au dynamisme et à la vitalité de la francophonie ontarienne, et nous nous engageons à faire tout ce qui est en notre pouvoir pour les soutenir

Notre gouvernement croit que ces groupes, ainsi que le soutien et la stabilité qu’ils offrent aux Ontariennes et Ontariens qui comptent sur eux, contribueront à ouvrir la voie à la reprise et à la croissance économiques après la COVID-19. Nous reconnaissons que le maintien de la vitalité des groupes communautaires de notre province garantira que la capacité organisationnelle de l’Ontario pendant cette pandémie restera solide


Pour répondre à la crise de la COVID-19, la ministre des Affaires francophones a mis sur pied le comité francophone sur la relance économique, co-présidé par Guy Matte et Glenn O’Farrell. Ce comité a présenté ses conclusions et le gouvernement en a déjà adopté plusieurs. Que ce soit la création d’un réseau économique francophone, une campagne de promotion pour les produits et les services francophones, un programme de microcrédits pour aider à former et à retenir la main-d’oeuvre bilingue, l’accès à l’Internet à large bande, notre gouvernement a fait la démonstration qu’il écoute les intervenants francophones.

Je tiens également à souligner ma fierté de voir que le Club canadien, accompagné d’une dizaine d’autres organismes, sera en charge de la nouvelle Fédération des gens d’affaires francophones de l’Ontario. Grâce à un investissement de 250 000 $ de notre gouvernement, cette nouvelle fédération permettra aux entreprises francophones de réseauter et de partager des bonnes pratiques. Cette nouvelle arrive à bon point pour aider à relancer notre économie. Les entreprises francophones ont un grand rôle à jouer pour stimuler l’économie partout dans la province.

La pénurie de main-d’oeuvre bilingue est un enjeu important pour la francophonie ontarienne malgré la pandémie. Je suis fière de voir que notre gouvernement met en place une des recommandations du comité francophone sur la relance économique par rapport aux microcrédits. La communauté francophone, grâce au travail du collège de La Cité, joue un rôle central dans l’élaboration de ce nouveau programme qui peut être offert aux collégiens ontariens, y compris les francophones. L’impact sera important pour les francophones qui suivront des formations pour des métiers spécialisés.

Également, nous mettons en place une stratégie de formation et de recrutement de personnel bilingue, incluant une stratégie d’immigration avec un volet francophone du Programme ontarien des candidats à l’immigration avec notre collègue le ministre du Travail, de la Formation et du Développement des compétences.

Notre gouvernement affirmera toujours la place de la communauté franco-ontarienne dans la mosaïque culturelle de notre province, et nous reconnaissons que cette communauté est un atout important pour l’Ontario.

Rapidement, je me dois de souligner deux réalisations pour la communauté francophone : l’adoption hautement symbolique du drapeau franco-ontarien comme emblème officiel de la province, et les caractères et accents français sur les permis de conduire et cartes de l’Ontario pour les francophones. Notre gouvernement a livré ces deux réalisations, car il reconnaît toute l’importance de la communauté francophone en Ontario.

Notre gouvernement continuera à faire des progrès et à s’engager dans ce qui est nécessaire pour que les Franco-Ontariens, en tant que peuple fondateur, soient au même niveau que leurs homologues anglophones.

À mes amis de la communauté franco-ontarienne, j’ai hâte de continuer de soutenir notre communauté dans mon nouveau rôle d’adjointe parlementaire de la ministre des Affaires francophones. Je suis fière de tout ce que nous avons accompli jusqu’à présent et je suis enthousiaste par tout ce qu’il nous reste à accomplir.

Monsieur le Président, je voudrais prendre cette opportunité pour remercier le premier ministre de l’Ontario et la ministre des Affaires Francophones pour avoir confiance en moi et me confier cet important dossier. Je ferai de mon mieux pour aider notre gouvernement et la communauté franco-ontarienne à atteindre nos objectifs communs et voir la communauté francophone s’épanouir.

Je vous laisse avec mon expression française favorite : l’impossible n’est pas français.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): It’s time for questions.

Mr. Jamie West: Thank you to the member from Mississauga Centre. I appreciate your debate being completely in French. The little bit of education I’ve had helped me follow along, which was good.

One of the things you said earlier on, though, was about being a nurse. I was out on Friday with nurses from ONA who felt abandoned by the government with the 1% wage cap, the lack of PPE, the lack of presumptive WSIB and a host of other things. I want to know, as a nurse, do you recognize the concerns they have? And are you advocating for the government to address these?

Mme Natalia Kusendova: Merci à mon collègue pour la question.

En tant qu’infirmière et en tant que parlementaire, je suis très fière de l’engagement de notre gouvernement. Dès le premier jour de la pandémie, on était à l’aide de nos « front-line heroes ». On a investi 3,3 milliards de dollars dans notre réponse pour la première vague de la COVID-19. Maintenant, dans ce budget, on investit un autre 2,8 milliards de dollars pour soutenir nos hôpitaux, 141 hôpitaux dans notre province, y compris chez moi à Mississauga et dans les hôpitaux à Toronto.

Alors on est au soutien de nos agents de première ligne : les infirmières, les médecins et tout le personnel médical.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions?

Mr. Michael Parsa: I want to thank my colleague for eloquently pointing out all her thoughts and sharing them with this House. Thank you very much to her.

Speaker, our government has committed to protecting the health and well-being of Ontario’s long-term-care residents. After years—decades—of neglect, in particular from 2011 to 2018, the previous government only had 611 long-term-care beds to show for it. Thanks to the leadership of this champion minister, we are now moving forward to support our residents.

I’m wondering if the member can not only share with the House the actions that we’re taking to protect these vulnerable citizens, but highlight some of our government’s plans for the future that are highlighted by the ministry.

Mme Natalia Kusendova: Merci beaucoup pour la question. C’est vrai que le gouvernement précédent qui était au pouvoir pour 15 ans—les libéraux n’ont pas investi dans le secteur de soins de longue durée. C’est pourquoi, dès le premier jour, notre gouvernement a décidé de soutenir ce secteur clé pour notre population. Chez moi, à Mississauga, on a investi dans plus de 600 lits déjà. C’est plus que les libéraux ont fait pendant 15 ans.

Notre premier ministre a dit qu’on doit mettre « an iron ring of protection » autour de nos aînés, et on le fait chaque jour. La ministre des Soins de longue durée est en face du public et elle protège les aînés chaque jour.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions?

M. Guy Bourgouin: J’aimerais féliciter la députée de Mississauga-Centre pour votre « appointement ». Mais ma question est sérieuse aujourd’hui, car il y a une personne de Hearst qui avait, dans le légal familial—elle n’a pas pu avoir les services en français en cour. Et il y en a une autre, d’Algoma, dans le côté criminel, qui était plaignante pour un viol. Pour 18 mois, elle n’a pas été capable d’avoir les services en français d’interprète. Elle n’a pas pu témoigner à cause de l’arrêt Jordan. Pour 18 mois, la plaignante n’a pas été capable de témoigner en français.

Je vous ai entendu dire dans votre allocution qu’on devrait avoir les services équivalents. J’aimerais vous entendre dire, c’est où les services équivalents pour la personne qui n’a pas eu les services en français quand ça vient à la cour familiale ou criminelle?

Mme Natalia Kusendova: Merci pour la question. Mon collègue opposé sait qu’on a 26 régions désignées dans l’Ontario qui offrent des services bilingues. Mais aussi, on sait qu’on a une pénurie avec le personnel bilingue. C’est quelque chose que la ministre des Affaires francophones s’entame à adresser—par exemple, par investir dans l’Université de l’Ontario français. On veut s’assurer qu’on a plus de personnel bilingue qu’on peut embaucher pour donner des services gouvernementaux judiciaires, mais aussi des services de santé, par exemple.

Alors, on sait que ça c’est un travail qu’on doit faire, mais c’est pourquoi on a investi dans l’Université de l’Ontario français, pour qu’on ait une main-d’oeuvre bilingue dans l’avenir.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions?

Mr. Rudy Cuzzetto: I want to thank the member from Mississauga Centre, my colleague from Mississauga. What is our government doing to support franco businesses and non-profits in the province of Ontario?


Mme Natalia Kusendova: Merci beaucoup pour la question. On fait beaucoup de travail. On sait que les organismes à but non lucratif, mais aussi les entreprises francophones, ont été affectés par la pandémie. C’est pourquoi dans ce budget on a annoncé 2 millions de dollars d’investissements, pendant deux années, pour aider les organismes à but non lucratif, car on sait que ces organismes donnent des services essentiels aux francophones de notre région.

Aussi, la ministre des Affaires francophones s’est entamée dans un comité de relance économique francophone. On a investi 500 millions de dollars pour former ce comité. Alors, on travaille avec les organismes, on travaille avec l’AFO et avec l’ONN, et on va s’assurer que les organismes et les entreprises francophones sont soutenus.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions?

Mr. Kevin Yarde: My question for the member for Mississauga Centre: There have been a lot of people who have been upset and disappointed with schedule 6 being thrown into Bill 229: municipalities, we’ve had conservation authorities and even Conservatives.

I’ve got one letter here from a Conservative. This letter here is from Jennifer Innis, who is the chair of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. She’s also a councillor in northern parts of Ontario.

“As a long-time supporter of the Conservative Party, I’m here to tell you the province is trying to pass legislation which has the potential to endanger you, your property and supporting infrastructure through an unrelated budget bill. There is no time to sit on the sidelines. Conservation authorities are the first line of defence in preventing and reducing the impacts of flooding, which just so happens to be the leading cause of public emergency in Ontario.”

Quickly, my question here is whether or not you spoke to Credit Valley Conservation, which represents the Peel region. Simply put, they say that this proposed legislation will cause harm, it will increase risk to people, property and infrastructure, and it will threaten the environment. What do you say about that?

Mme Natalia Kusendova: Notre gouvernement soutient les autorités de conservation. Même ce matin, le ministre Clark a annoncé que notre gouvernement fournirait 30 millions de dollars pour aider les organismes de conservation à créer et à restaurer des terres humides dans les zones prioritaires de la province. Ce nouveau programme de partenariat pour la conservation des terres humides se concentrera sur les projets de restauration dans les bassins versants des Grands Lacs, et soutiendra les municipalités dans la gestion des eaux pluviales.

Comme vous pourrez voir, mon collègue, on est en train de consulter les autorités, et on les soutient aussi.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions?

Mr. Michael Parsa: As I mentioned earlier, in this budget there’s support for individuals, families, small and medium-sized business, but I want to ask my colleague to highlight some of the support that’s there for our seniors, in particular through the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit. I’m wondering if my honourable colleague can elaborate on support that’s there, for example, for grab bars and shower tubs, wheelchairs, stairlifts and elevators—anything that she can elaborate for us, please.

Mme Natalia Kusendova: Notre gouvernement s’engage à aider nos aînés. Comme le premier ministre a dit, on veut créer un anneau de protection en fer autour de nos aînés. C’est pourquoi on donne un crédit d’impôt de 25 % pour l’année d’imposition 2021 sur les rénovations domiciliaires admissibles, jusqu’à une « occurrence » de 10 000 $. Les rénovations admissibles sont définies comme celles qui améliorent et soutiennent la capacité des aînés à vivre dans leur propre maison. Les aînés seraient éligibles, quel que soit leur revenu ou s’ils doivent de l’impôt sur le revenu de 2021.

Comme vous le voyez, les aînés sont présents dans notre budget, et on veut les soutenir chaque jour.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Mr. Guy Bourgouin: I am pleased to stand here today to speak about Bill 229, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact, amend and repeal various statutes. I’d like to give you a northern flavour of what’s missing in this bill.

Permettez-moi de commencer en vous disant que, en grandes lignes, ce projet de loi et ce budget sont un pas en arrière pour les Nord-Ontariens. En tant que Franco-Ontarien et en tant que résidant du nord de la province, je peux vous dire que les bottines de ce gouvernement ne suivent pas leurs babines. Autrement dit, ce budget ne prévoit aucune nouvelle mesure pour assurer la santé, la sécurité et le développement du nord de la province.

L’accès aux services de santé dans le Nord est un défi, spécialement dans les régions rurales et éloignées, comme mon comté. On a une grosse pénurie de main-d’oeuvre en santé et en soins de longue durée. On a aussi un gros manque de lits dans nos hôpitaux. À Kapuskasing, à Hearst, à Moosonee, à Moose Factory, à Smooth Rock Falls, on n’a pas assez d’espace pour faire face aux besoins des gens.

La pandémie de la COVID-19 n’a fait qu’intensifier ce gros manque de personnel, de lits et de financement. Pourtant, ce budget n’accorde même pas aux hôpitaux le financement dont ils ont besoin pour couvrir leur déficit en matière de COVID. Les hôpitaux ont présentement un déficit de 850 millions de dollars en raison de la COVID-19.

Tout récemment, le membre pour Kenora–Rainy River annonçait des nouveaux lits pour le nord de la province. C’est une belle chose à faire, vous pouvez dire, mais l’annonce ne parlait que de la réduction du temps d’attente pendant la pandémie. Alors, la semaine passée, j’ai questionné la ministre de la Santé sur le sujet. Je lui ai demandé si elle pouvait bel et bien confirmer que les lits annoncés resteront dans nos communautés après la pandémie de la COVID-19. Mme la ministre de la Santé m’a répondu que les lits seront là aussi longtemps que la pandémie sera parmi nous, et elle a inclus qu’elle espérait que la COVID-19 ne serait pas longtemps chez nous.

Je suis préoccupé, et avec raison. Ni le budget ni les membres de ce gouvernement peuvent nous dire si on aura des lits pour nos aînés, pour ceux ayant des besoins en santé à long terme—auront-ils des lits après la COVID?—ou si la ministre de la Santé devra aller leur dire de quitter la place et rentrer chez eux après un certain temps. Madame la Présidente, ça prend quatre ans pour avoir un lit de soins de longue durée dans mon comté.

La semaine passée, j’étais supposé de parler du projet de loi 222, sur comment ce gouvernement veut se donner des pouvoirs extraordinaires pour, ce que les membres du côté du gouvernement disent, accélérer les processus pour des projets en transport public. C’est drôle que les membres se disent pressés pour faire avancer des projets, quand le Northlander demeure toujours une utopie. Les membres de l’autre côté se disent pressés, mais le Northlander, le train de passagers qui connectait Cochrane et North Bay avec Union Station, brille toujours par son absence dans ce budget, comme dans le budget de l’année dernière et de l’année précédente—ou dans tout autre projet de loi de ce gouvernement.

It’s funny that they keep on pushing, giving themselves further powers to “make things faster,” when again the return of a much-needed rail transit system in northeast Ontario has been tossed on the pile of failed electoral promises by this government—which, by the way, is getting taller and taller.

One thing I should also mention about public transit in the northeastern corridor is that the Liberals shut down the Northlander in 2012. They said that it was not being used, that it was expensive, and yet it has been shown that the passenger volume that the government would have liked to have seen was already there. The former Liberal government shut down the one and only public transit system that allowed families, seniors and students from northeastern Ontario to travel to the south, whether for work, medical appointments, tourism or what have you.


Again, with Bill 222 the Conservative government gave itself deal-making powers when it comes to transit projects. It has to make things faster. But there’s no word, not even a mention, of the Northlander in the government’s budget. As a matter of fact, the Ontario Northland commission is only mentioned three times in the entire budget, but only to refer to the ministerial transfer of ONR from northern development and mines to transportation. That’s how this government sees transit infrastructure and development in northern Ontario.

Interestingly enough, one of the most outspoken members in this House regarding the Northlander has been a member of this government, the member from Nipissing. On May 30, 2017, just to give an example, the honourable member from Nipissing said, “They’ve taken our train away ... and now they expect you, if you are in Cochrane in a wheelchair and need to get to your appointment in Toronto at one of the hospitals, to spend 16 hours on a bus.” I couldn’t agree more. I feel I could have said the same thing, but here we are, 2.5 years into a Conservative government with the member from Nipissing as a minister throughout, and yet, radio silence.

I agree again with the member from Nipissing when, on December 6, 2017, he said, “Northern interests are commonly ignored in favour of others,” including “the cancellation of the Northlander.” Again, I agree.

Well, I’d love to hear from the member from Nipissing about this and why he has sat on his hands when we all know that northern Ontario highways are a hazard, that the train is needed by a lot of people, that a business model was on the table that would have taken people off of our dangerous highways, especially during winter months. But “expediency” does not seem to be a word that this government applies to transit in northern Ontario.

The Polar Bear Express, the only land connector between the two towns of Cochrane and Moosonee on the tip of the James Bay has, time and again, been put on the chopping board by this government—a “cut first, think later” strategy. The Polar Bear Express is a key element in the economic development of the Hudson Bay and James Bay. It is a lifeline for the community of James Bay. It is used for tourism, passenger, work, transport of construction materials, you name it; yet, last year, this government tried to cut down the summer schedule in the middle of the tourism season. The people in the area disagreed, of course, but they went ahead with the cuts. The government said they had done a consultation, which was barely advertised in the community and which posed subjective questions, indicating that the decision to cut the services had already been taken.

The Polar Bear Express is a lifeline. It is an essential service for the James Bay coast. Madame la Présidente, c’est un service essentiel pour la communauté de Baie James. And yet this government, nor the previous one, seems to have an interest in improving the service. They just want to kill it.

But to return to the Northlander, I find it odd that just a few weeks ago the Minister of Transportation announced a consultation entitled, “Transportation Opportunities Along the Northeastern Ontario Rail Corridor.” The consultation closed on November 20. The consultation asked questions about “needs and travel patterns along the corridor” and to “find opportunities to improve the current transportation system along the rail corridor between Toronto, North Bay and Cochrane/Timmins.”

That is important, and it would have been useful, but the government’s budget makes no reference to the Northlander or the northeast transit corridor. And just to add insult to injury, just to show how little importance the northern communities have in the eyes of this government, on October 6, 2020, I received a response from the Minister of Transportation about my written question to the minister which I tabled on June 23, 2020. It reads, “There is currently no capital allocation in the 2020-2021 plan for the restoration of the service.”

So much for consultations and what the Minister of Transportation called “opportunities” in northeastern Ontario. But allow me to quote the honourable member from Nipissing once again. On May 17, 2017, the member said, “They have no respect for the north. We saw that when they took our train away. They have no respect for rural Ontario and northern communities.” I couldn’t agree more with the member from Nipissing. I never thought I would agree that much with the member, but he was right.

I would like to believe the words of the now Minister of the Environment who, on April 3, 2019, said, “We look after the people in the south, in the east, northeast, northwest and in the GTHA.”

Le membre pour Elgin–Middlesex–London a également dit que le gouvernement conservateur voulait réparer le système de transport dans le nord de l’Ontario. En tout cas, chez nous dans le Nord, on attend toujours pour toutes ses grandes nouvelles. Les membres de ce gouvernement se disent prêts à accélérer les processus pour des projets de transport, mais ce qu’on voit dans le nord de la province, c’est la lenteur, l’apathie, le délai constant, l’inaction et le manque d’intérêt.

On peut dire la même chose par rapport aux autoroutes. Nous avons deux artères : les routes 11 et 17. Chacune a plus ou moins 2 000 kilomètres de longueur. Les routes 11 et 17 représentent aussi le lien routier utilisé pour connecter l’est du pays à l’ouest canadien.

Selon les données du ministère des Transports, chaque semaine, près de 54 000 déplacements par camion ont lieu sur le réseau routier du nord de l’Ontario. C’est des camions, ça, madame la Présidente; c’est du trafic. Tous ces camions transportent plus d’un million de tonnes de produits avec une valeur d’environ 1,24 milliard de dollars. Pourtant, dans la majorité des tronçons, elles présentent une chaussée unique à deux voies, avec quelques voies pour permettre le dépassement des véhicules plus lents. Et à chaque hiver, on voit des accidents de façon continue, ce qui cause de grands soucis pour les villes et les villages du Nord et pour l’économie régionale.


Quand il y a un accident, par exemple, sur la route 11 entre Long Lake et Smooth Rock Falls, les possibilités de prendre un détour sont rares. Ce n’est pas compliqué, madame la Présidente : il n’y en a pas de détour. L’hiver, on est quasiment dans une trappe. On ne peut pas s’en sortir, que ce soit pour aller au travail, pour aller à un rendez-vous médical ou pour amener les enfants à l’école. C’est la seule façon de voyager. Et l’entretien hivernal des routes est en grande partie en faute. Les autoroutes sont fermées plus souvent qu’avant, même si le gouvernement nous dit qu’on a les meilleures routes du pays. Ce n’est pas le cas.

Chaque semaine, je dois conduire 20 heures par semaine pour représenter les résidants de Mushkegowuk–Baie James à Queen’s Park. Je peux vous dire que les routes comme la 11 et la 17 ne sont pas à la hauteur. On devrait avoir honte de parler du corridor transcanadien. Ce gouvernement se tire les bretelles en parlant de l’expansion de la 17 entre le Manitoba et Kenora. Ils ont annoncé le même projet à plusieurs reprises, même avec la 69. Et le reste du corridor brille par son absence dans le budget.

L’idée est très claire : il y a de moins en moins de transport ferroviaire dans le Nord. Il y a de plus en plus de camions sur nos routes étroites. Il n’y a pas de changement dans notre infrastructure routière, autre qu’un petit tronçon sur la 17. Et on se fait dire qu’on a les meilleures routes au pays. Je trouve ça bien ironique.

Pour terminer, laissez-moi finir avec quelques mots par rapport aux petites miettes pour la francophonie dans le budget. On voit que la ministre chante victoire avec un petit montant dépensé dans les deux ans, en plein milieu d’une pandémie. Depuis l’énoncé économique de l’automne 2018, la francophonie ontarienne a été victime de coupes draconiennes de ce gouvernement. On a perdu le seul chien de garde de notre communauté, le commissaire aux services en français indépendant. On a perdu le financement provincial pour l’Université de l’Ontario français. Ce gouvernement a accepté de laisser passer le projet universitaire francophone à condition de ne pas dépenser une cenne avant 2023.

En ce qui concerne les organismes communautaires, le budget du Programme d’appui à la francophonie ontarienne, le PAFO, demeure inchangé depuis 2017 : 1 milliard de dollars à partager, même avec plus d’appliquants, car le gouvernement conservateur a ouvert les qualifications aux projets en entrepreneuriat.

Selon un sondage de l’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario, 11 % des organismes francophones, des organismes offrant des services actifs en direct en français aux enfants, aux aînés, aux immigrants, risquent de fermer leurs portes avant la fin de l’année, et ils ne seront pas remplacés par un autre organisme. Il n’y a pas d’autres gens prêts à offrir des services de garde, des services médicaux, des services d’aide aux nouveaux arrivants francophones.

Toutefois, cette année, un tiers du montant du PAFO ira à des services de traduction. Je n’ai rien contre les services de traduction, mais quand on lutte chaque jour pour avoir des services face à face en français, des services directs et d’offre active, j’ai l’impression que le gouvernement a carrément raté la cible.

Madame la Présidente, la province ne finit pas à North Bay. La population du Nord a besoin d’un gouvernement qui est à l’écoute de leurs besoins.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Merci. Questions and comments?

Mr. Daryl Kramp: Merci beaucoup au membre de Mushkegowuk–Baie James pour ses commentaires, ses mots.

A little bit of history: I’m a northern Ontario boy originally, born in Kirkland. My father was a mining contractor, so we travelled all through the north, and my grandfather, actually, was the first engineer to ever take a diesel up through the Ontario northlands. I spent many occasions by the yards there, and I remember the whistles very, very vividly in my memory.

And so, do I as a government member recognize first-hand the value of the Northlander to the northern community? Yes. Quite frankly, am I disappointed that it has not happened yet? Yes. Do I honestly believe it will happen under this government? Yes. Should that ever happen, the member would be welcome to cross the floor here and I would congratulate him on when he does that, when we do that. Thank you, sir.

M. Guy Bourgouin: Je remercie le député de l’autre côté de la Chambre—je m’excuse, j’essaie de me souvenir de ton comté. Mais si jamais le train revient, je vais aller à l’autre bord pour vous dire merci, parce que je crois que c’est un besoin qu’on a en province. Ce n’est pas à cause que ça va venir du gouvernement que je vais dire que ce n’est pas bien. Au contraire, il faut reconnaître les choses qui se font bien. Le jour—je note bien, le jour—que le train revient, puis qu’il remplit l’obligation des besoins du Nord—tu sais, c’est bien beau de ramener un train, mais s’il est inutile, ramenez-en pas. On a besoin d’un train qui va répondre aux besoins de la communauté, qui va répondre aux besoins de la région, puis qui peut être positif pour les communautés du Nord.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Questions?

Mr. Kevin Yarde: I want to thank the member from Mushkegowuk–James Bay for his eloquent speech. I want to talk a little bit about Bill 229 and what is not in there. Long-term-care homes: We need PSWs. We need more PSWs. We need four hours of hands-on care. That is not in the bill.

There is no money in this bill, as I keep talking about, for a hospital in Brampton. We have 700,000 people in Brampton. There’s no money in there for that.

There’s no reference for your riding, Mushkegowuk–James Bay, for the Northlander. That’s not in there as well.

But what is in this bill, what is slipped into this bill, is schedule 6, and thousands of people across the province have been writing in their disgust with schedule 6. So my question to the member is, what damage to conservation and conservation authorities will schedule 6 cause?

Mr. Guy Bourgouin: Thank you to the member from Brampton North. I come from a riding that represents over 20% of First Nations. If there’s something this government could learn, it’s to listen to the First Nations, who are the protectors of the land. They could teach this government, if they’re willing to listen, that watersheds are most important. We hear of communities that have 25-year water advisories, and yet they are saying they’re listening.

I said this in the House and I’ll repeat it: Two ears, one mouth; so listen twice as much as you speak.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further questions?

Mme Natalia Kusendova: Merci à mon collègue pour son discours.

Pour que l’Ontario se redresse, nous avons besoin d’une croissance économique forte et durable. Nous ne pouvons pas nous attendre à ce que notre économie rebondisse simplement sur les banques et que les emplois reviennent demain. Est-ce que mon collègue va soutenir notre budget qui prévoit 1 million de dollars pour les organismes franco-ontariens à but non lucratif et 500 millions de dollars pour les entreprises francophones, oui ou non?

M. Guy Bourgouin: C’est tant ironique quand tu entends le gouvernement qui, après avoir créé une crise linguistique en province, commence à nous faire la leçon sur les services en français. Ils nous disent : « Vas-tu nous supporter? » Mais ce gouvernement-là, il a le don de mettre des pilules empoisonnées dans un projet de loi. On n’a rien qu’à penser au projet de loi dans lequel ils ont mis McVety. On n’a rien qu’à penser encore au premier budget, qui a cancellé notre commissaire des services en langue française. On n’a rien qu’à—puis la liste est longue. Je peux continuer, mais je vais manquer de temps.


Ce qui est important, c’est qu’ils arrêtent de mettre des pilules empoisonnées dans un projet de loi, puis commencer à écouter aussi l’autre côté de la Chambre. Ils disent qu’ils nous écoutent, mais en réalité, ils ont seulement un agenda qui est le leur.

Vous avez le pouvoir de faire les choses bien. Soyez plus à l’écoute. Comme j’ai dit : deux oreilles, une bouche.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further questions?

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Meegwetch. There’s a lot of discussion on long-term care. The only thing I know is long-term boil-water advisories. When we talk about long-term care as well, I have 19 long-term care beds in my riding. Everybody boasts about how much need they have. What about us?

The name of the bill is protect, support, recover from COVID-19. What about us? What about the nine-year-old? Why don’t you protect her, support her—recover from the water crisis? Do you see anything here when we talk about equity and support for First Nations, such basic human things as water?

Mr. Guy Bourgouin: I want to thank my colleague from Kiiwetinoong. He’s not only a friend, but he’s a leader. When he speaks in this House, there’s a reason why it’s silent: because none of us can speak as he does.

I have the privilege of representing Mushkegowuk–James Bay, which has a lot of First Nations communities. I challenge any of you across the floor to come into our ridings, come and see what First Nations are going through. Come and see the housing crisis. Come and see the water crisis. Come and see the school crisis. The list goes on and on and on. You need to come and see, because if you do, you will be changed forever, like I was. That is something that you need to see from your own eyes, because what our colleagues talk about is true: There is no service for First Nations.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further questions?

Mr. Michael Parsa: Speaker, one of the biggest frustrations during COVID-19 has been the lack of reliable high-speed Internet and cell service for too many households in Ontario, due to lack of adequate broadband infrastructure. I can tell you from experience, Madam Speaker, I hear from my constituents all the time, and I’m just north of Toronto here, and we’ve got pockets in my riding where we do not have high-speed Internet, and it’s really frustrating.

I’m just wondering if the honourable member across—why does he not support this, where this will solve a lot of these issues and bring connection to every home, business and farm in Ontario through this budget?

M. Guy Bourgouin: Écoute, comme j’ai dit, il y a beaucoup de choses qu’on voit dans le projet de loi qui seraient acceptables ou qui ont du bien dedans. Mais ce gouvernement a le don de mettre une pilule empoisonnée. On ne peut pas accepter le projet de loi ou le budget comme il est présenté. On a besoin d’argent pour investir. C’est bien beau de donner un montant, mais il faut l’investir aussi. On a vu souvent que vous avez démontré des montants d’argent. On a vu dans le premier budget qu’il y avait un gros montant qui n’a jamais été dépensé dans l’infrastructure quand ça vient aux services qu’on demande pour l’Internet ou les autres services qu’on mérite dans le nord de l’Ontario.

Mais je peux vous dire que la raison qu’on ne peut pas, c’est que vous mettez des pilules empoisonnées. On a une responsabilité envers nos membres dans notre communauté de se tenir debout puis dire non à cause des pilules que vous mettez dans les projets de loi.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I rise to debate Bill 229, and since my time is limited, I’m going to focus on schedule 6 of the 44 schedules in the bill.

Schedule 6 is a fiscally reckless attack on the ability of conservation authorities to protect people and property. Flooding is the costliest extreme weather event facing Canada. It has led to in excess of $1 billion in damage over 11 of the last 12 years, and the cost of public infrastructure is three times that amount.

Experts estimate the cost of flooding will triple over the next decade. What’s the government’s response? Well, in 2019, it was to cut the budget for flood mitigation in half; now in 2020, to gut the ability of conservation authorities to make science-based watershed decisions to protect us from flooding and protect our water, setting back conservation 75 years in this province.

I was just on the phone with an executive member of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture who told me that farmers in the United States and other provinces wish they had the kind of flood protection that Ontario has because of CAs, and it’s delivered at a very low cost. That’s why farmers, Ontario’s Big City Mayors, AMO, community organizations, CAs and environmental organizations are all asking the government to remove schedule 6 from the bill.

Former federal Conservative cabinet minister David Crombie described the government’s action as “high-level bombing and needs to be resisted.” Members of the Greenbelt Council have made it clear that gutting conservation authorities will hurt and have negative impacts on the integrity of the greenbelt.

The chair of the TRCA, a long-time Conservative, wrote in opposition to schedule 6: “If you are not worried, you are not paying attention....” It’s “clear—Ontario is open for business, no matter the cost ... even if it means their actions may endanger the lives of its residents, their properties and supporting infrastructure.” She went on to say that she’s sad that her party is moving in this direction.

The Ford government’s own special adviser on flooding highlighted the important role CAs play in reducing flood risk. I want to be clear, Madam Speaker: The average cost to repair a flooded basement is $43,000. So when the people of Ontario experience that kind of flood damage in their basement, they need to remember this day, this bill and this schedule.

I ask the members opposite: Will they listen to the people of Ontario and actually remove schedule 6 from Bill 229 so we can protect their property and their lives?

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Questions?

Ms. Donna Skelly: Thank you, Madam Speaker, and to the member opposite from Guelph: You talked about the average cost of flooding in a person’s basement. I know we’ve had issues in Hamilton, and the biggest problem was the lack of infrastructure. For years, the city of Hamilton ignored infrastructure. They did not put money into upgrading and updating infrastructure projects.

I understand where you’re coming from, but the reality is, the floods in most of the lower part of our city, which is the older part of the city, had nothing to do with watershed management. It had nothing to do with mitigation. It had everything to do with a city that has denied working on updating outdated infrastructure.

But I wanted to talk to you about the core mandate of conservation authorities, and that is, “to undertake watershed-based programs to protect people and property from flooding and other natural hazards....”

In Hamilton, $2 million of a $16-million budget is spent on this initiative, not the rest. Do you not believe that this initiative will help—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Thank you. Response?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Thanks to the member opposite for the question. One of the things this question highlights is that it is far cheaper to not pave over wetlands and green space than it is to have to spend billions on infrastructure to protect us from flooding.

The member opposite talks about CA budgets. Do you know how much the province contributes to CA budgets?

Interjection: Eight per cent.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Eight per cent. So $7.4 million of the $63 million spent on flood mitigation comes from the province prior to 2019, but the government cut that in half in 2019. That tells you a lot about where the priorities are when it comes to flood protection.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further questions?

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: This afternoon, the Minister of Finance was very proud of the fact that they did a lot of consultation and there was a lot of input into this Bill 229. I want to quote Ian Wilcox, the general manager of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. He has this to say:

“There’s a reason we’re concerned.” The changes “seem to bypass or negate our fundamental role, which is watershed management. We were not informed conservation authorities would be part of this bill, so it was a bit of shock. In our opinion, it really has nothing to do with the stated purpose of that omnibus bill.”

I’d like to ask the member why you think the government will not withdraw schedule 6 out of this bill.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I appreciate the member’s question. I would have thought any government that believes in fiscal responsibility, in saving people money, in protecting lives and property, would have removed this schedule from the bill because it is so fiscally irresponsible and reckless. So I have no idea why it’s not being removed.

I’m having a difficult time finding anybody who actually supports schedule 6 in the bill. I did find a blog from a lawyer who represents deep-pocketed developers who wrote a glowing blog about it, but when it comes to farmers and big city mayors and city councillors and conservation authorities and community groups—literally, people representing everybody in the province are all saying get rid of schedule 6.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): For a brief back and forth, the member from Flamborough–Glanbrook.

Ms. Donna Skelly: To the member opposite: You mentioned that only 8%, I think you said, of funding for conservation authorities came from the province, which means the bulk of the funding comes from municipalities. When I sat as a city councillor in Hamilton, they continually complained about the money that they were sending to conservation authorities because they would rather direct it towards spending on infrastructure to prevent flooding in the basements of the lower part of the city.

My question to you is, do you not think it’s time that conservation authorities returned to their core mandate, which is protecting watersheds, which is what this legislation does?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I would encourage the member opposite to actually meet with Ontario’s Big City Mayors, AMO and numerous municipal councils who have all passed resolutions opposing schedule 6 to this bill. Part of the reason they’re opposing it is the bill undermines what should be—what is—the core mandate of conservation authorities: flood protection. It basically strips away the science-based watershed protections that CAs provide and puts it in the hands of ministers. The decisions now will be driven by politics and not by science. That’s why so many municipalities are opposed to schedule 6 in this bill.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

Hon. Paul Calandra: I appreciate the opportunity to rise and say a few words tonight on the budget. Let me first thank all members who have participated in this debate, and let me just thank the parliamentary assistant and the minister. I know it’s certainly a challenge to bring in one budget, but to bring in an economic statement in the midst of COVID and then bring in a budget and commit to another budget within a few months I think speaks a lot to not only the hard work of the minister and members of this caucus, but hopefully all members of the Legislative Assembly, who have been working very, very hard.

I wanted to also just take a moment, if I can, to thank all of the members of the standing committee on finance, who undertook a very significant study over the summertime, hearing from hundreds of witnesses over hundreds of hours of testimony in order to help facilitate the budget that we have in front of us, and also to help us better prepare for what will be another budget sometime before the end of March.

I also would be remiss if I didn’t just take a couple of seconds to, again, congratulate all members of the assembly for what has been an action-packed year in the assembly, despite the fact that we have been undergoing a lot of challenges with respect to COVID. This has been a very busy, active and aggressive assembly; we have accomplished a lot. A lot of bills have been passed through the chamber. A lot of private members’ bills have been passed, and I know how hard members have worked in order to do that.

But specific to the budget, Madam Speaker, there are a number of things in this budget which help build on some of the things that we started when the minister outlined his economic statement. We knew that, full-on, COVID was going to change the reality in the province of Ontario for a long time to come, and the government and all legislators were faced with a number of decisions that we had to make with respect to how we were going to tackle COVID.

We have obviously worked very closely with our partners at the federal level and with our partners at the municipal level. That co-operation has allowed the province of Ontario to make significant investments in health and in education while our partners at other levels have been able to help secure some of the ongoing daily expenses that Canadians have come to rely on. I reference, of course, the CERB and our municipal partners who have set aside property tax payments for a number of months. So there has been a tremendous amount of co-operation.

I’ve heard throughout this debate some things which concern me. I have heard from a number of speakers that somehow there is a magical $9-billion amount of money sitting somewhere and not spent. Madam Speaker, that would have been true at the beginning of the pandemic, but as we have progressed through the pandemic and as we have broadened plans with respect to testing—do you know we’ve reached over 50,000 tests? I think that’s a testament to the hard work of our Minister of Health, but more importantly, of the health care professionals.

We also made significant investments. The Minister of Education has made significant investments in ensuring that our kids have a return to school. Frankly, Madam Speaker, whether we all agree with it or not, as a parent, as a father of two kids, one in elementary and one in high school, I can’t say enough for the work that has been done by the school boards, the work that had proceeded over the summertime to make sure that our kids had a safe return to school, and the continuing work that has been done by our educators, by the boards of education, and of course led by the Minister of Education, who ensured that he got the best advice that he possibly could when developing a back-to-school plan.

I know there has been some discussion with respect to schedule 6. Look, Madam Speaker, the Minister of the Environment undertook a significant consultation with respect to how we needed to modify or change conservation authorities in the province of Ontario. We knew from the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan that changes had to be made. One of the things that we’ve heard consistently in this House, at least in the time that I have been here, is the need to look at flood mitigation, that climate change would have an impact in particular on our flood plains and that we had to refocus our efforts on that. That’s what these changes allow us to do. They allow us to ensure that the conservation authorities are doing what they were originally envisioned to do—originally envisioned, of course, by a Progressive Conservative government that brought in the mandate for our conservation authorities—and which helps build on the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

As we proceed further on, we’ve made significant investments, as I said earlier, in health. We’ve made significant investments with respect to PPE. Earlier today, we passed a bill that will see some of our main streets contributors—our small, medium and large, but particularly our small enterprises—getting access to funds which will help them with respect to PPE, and I think that’s very, very important. I know I’m not the only one. I know a number of colleagues have spent the last couple of weeks participating in either virtual parades or these different types of Santa Claus parades. I know I was out there with my federal counterpart—many of you who were here before will remember Helena Jaczek. As we stood and we waved and the cars drove by us, it was certainly different, and we were all talking about how important our main streets are to us.

I know the member for Niagara Falls has talked about how important his sector is. I’m glad he’s talking about it as consistently as he is, because one of the things that we learned through the SARS epidemic was that it took a long time for our cultural, our tourist destinations, our restaurants to come back and to be vibrant. They are the source of hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars’ worth of economic activity in the province of Ontario, the arts and cultural institutions in particular. The arts and cultural sector in particular are so vital, not only to a city like Toronto or a city like Ottawa, where they are, as I said, responsible for billions of dollars in economic development, hundreds of thousands of jobs—and I congratulate the Minister of Culture. She has understood; she has worked across sectors to ensure that the funds and the necessary resources are there to help begin to rebuild the sector once we move on and once we can put COVID behind us, which is, I know, what we would all like to do.

As we begin to not only, hopefully, soon pass this budget, we begin preparing immediately for the next budget, which will take place a few months from now, which will help to inform additional measures, I’m sure, with respect to the recovery of the province of Ontario in the midst of what we know will be a very aggressive campaign to have all Ontarians vaccinated. Perhaps next year at this time, when we are sitting in this place and it is a couple of days away from being the end of the session, we can look back and say that we all worked very hard, we put it behind us, and our main focus is not only on continuing to keep people safe and healthy, but getting the economy going again and continuing to build one of the strongest economies in the country.

With that, Madam Speaker, I move that the question now be put.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Mr. Calandra has moved that the question be now put. I am satisfied that there has been sufficient debate to allow this question to be put to the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour of the motion that the question be now put, please say “aye.”

All those opposed to the motion that the question be now put, please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

A recorded vote being required—


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Pursuant to standing order 30(h), it has been requested that the vote on the motion for closure on third reading of Bill 229, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact, amend and repeal various statutes, be deferred until deferred votes on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.

Vote deferred.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Orders of the day?

Hon. Paul Calandra: No further business.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): There being no further business, this House stands adjourned until 9 a.m. on Tuesday, December 8.

The House adjourned at 1943.