LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Tuesday 9 August 2022 Mardi 9 août 2022
The House met at 1300.
Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor entered the chamber and took her seat upon the throne.
Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell (Lieutenant Governor): Pray be seated.
Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): May it please your Honour, the Legislative Assembly has elected me as their Speaker, though I am but little able to fulfill the important duties thus assigned to me. If, in the performance of those duties, I should at any time fall into error, I pray that the fault may be imputed to me and not to the assembly whose servant I am and who, through me, the better to enable them to discharge their duty to their Queen and country, hereby claim all their undoubted rights and privileges, especially that they may have freedom of speech in their debates, access to your person at all seasonable times, and that their proceedings may receive from you the most favourable consideration.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, I am commanded by Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor to declare to you that she freely confides in the duty and attachment of the assembly to Her Majesty’s person and government and, not doubting that the proceedings will be conducted with wisdom, temperance and prudence, she grants and upon all occasions will recognize and follow the constitutional privileges.
I am commanded also to assure you that the assembly shall have ready access to Her Honour upon all suitable occasions and that their proceedings, as well as your words and actions, will constantly receive from her the most favourable construction.
Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to open the session by reading the speech from the throne.
Speech from the throne / Discours du trône
Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell (Lieutenant Governor): Speaker of the House, honourable members, ladies and gentlemen, people of Ontario:
Honorables députés, Ontariennes et Ontariens.
I want to start by acknowledging that we are on lands traditionally occupied by Indigenous peoples. They continue to care for this land, they continue to shape Ontario today—and I want to show my respect.
Traditionally, Toronto has been a gathering place for many Indigenous nations including the Anishinabeg, the Haudenosaunee, the Wendat and Métis peoples. I acknowledge we are meeting in the area covered by Treaty 13, also known as the Toronto Purchase, and I pay my respects to the Mississaugas of the Credit.
As the representative of Her Majesty the Queen, it is my privilege to open the first session of the 43rd Parliament by delivering the speech from the throne.
And I wish to congratulate the members present today, both new and returning. You have been entrusted by the people of Ontario to ably and thoughtfully represent their interests.
This is a responsibility none should take lightly. The decisions made at Queen’s Park, the people’s Legislature, are far-reaching. They touch every person in every part of the province.
As members you will disagree, sometimes if not often passionately and with conviction. That is the nature of a healthy democracy.
However, with the province, country and world having been through so much, and as we now face new and looming challenges, now is not the time for partisanship and ideology to trump the virtues of partnership and collaboration. The people of Ontario rightly expect their government to work with others in common cause and in service of delivering real solutions.
They can have confidence that their government will do just that. Because now is the time for unity.
A unity of people. A unity of purpose.
Unité du peuple. Unité des objectifs.
Here in Ontario, across Canada and around the world, we are witnessing a growing sense of uncertainty with no historical precedent for the unique circumstances facing the global economy.
New variants of COVID-19 are having an uneven impact on different regions of the world, with some countries implementing economically disruptive measures once again.
Inflation has hit levels not seen in almost four decades, with no broad consensus on the speed with which it will return to normal levels.
Global supply chains first disrupted by the pandemic remain stressed, further exacerbated by Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine.
With nearly 370,000 jobs currently unfilled, Ontario is facing a generational labour shortage with the lowest rate of unemployment since 1989.
And unprecedented spending throughout the pandemic has created new fiscal challenges here in Ontario and across Canada that will require prudent economic management in the months and years to come.
It is sometimes easy to consider these challenges in the abstract, but they have real and significant consequences on the lives of hard-working people and businesses.
People are now paying more for everyday goods like groceries and gas, putting increased strain on household budgets, particularly for low-income families. Long-planned vacations are being put on hold as small family pleasures like a meal out at a favourite local restaurant become just a little out of reach.
Businesses of all sizes are struggling to find the skilled women and men they need to grow, or the parts they need to take on more orders. Amidst this scarcity, the rising cost of labour and supplies may in turn increase the cost of goods being sold to consumers.
Taken together, these looming fiscal and economic challenges cannot be understated or ignored. They must be confronted head-on.
And there are no easy solutions.
In response to growing inflationary pressures, the Bank of Canada has started to increase its policy interest rate. While the full impact of this response is currently unclear, Ontario, like the rest of Canada and North America, must be prepared for the possibility of a near-term economic slowdown.
Even as the province, country and world navigate a period of uncertainty, your government can be sure of the fundamentals of a strong, vibrant and successful province and economy.
Low taxes and a competitive business environment that attracts investments and creates good jobs.
A highly skilled workforce prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
Roads, highways and other critical infrastructure that help get goods and services to market sooner.
Livable and safe communities with good schools and high-quality hospitals and long-term-care homes, as well as convenient transit options.
Over the past four years, Ontario has come so far.
The province’s automotive and manufacturing sectors are breathing new life. Shovels are in the ground on transformational transit and transportation projects. More women and men are entering rewarding careers in the skilled trades.
Now is the time to redouble these efforts.
Your government is steadfast in its commitment to a path forward focused on economic growth, not painful tax hikes or spending cuts. And to achieve this growth, the province will continue implementing its ambitious plan to build Ontario.
Together, let’s build a health system that better cares for patients and keeps our province open.
Ensemble, bâtissons un système de soins de santé qui soigne mieux les patients et maintient la province en activité.
While COVID-19 remains with us today, Ontario has the tools to manage the virus and live with current variants for the long term, without returning to lockdowns.
That’s because Ontario has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world, with booster doses now available for all adults.
The recent approval of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine by Health Canada has meant the distribution of thousands of new doses specifically developed for the youngest and bravest of Ontario’s patients.
At-home antiviral medications are helping to keep thousands of people healthier and out of hospitals, particularly those most at risk of negative health outcomes.
Free rapid antigen tests continue to be provided directly to Ontarians, as well as to workplaces, schools, hospitals, long-term-care and retirement homes.
Over 150,000 stand-alone HEPA filter units have been deployed to improve the safety of spaces like schools, child care centres and hospitals, as well as long-term-care and retirement homes.
And this fall, Ontario expects Health Canada to approve a new COVID-19 vaccine that will better target and protect against Omicron variants of the virus. When available, the province will be ready to get shots into arms as quickly as possible.
It is nothing short of remarkable how quickly the world’s scientific community has and continues to develop breakthroughs that are protecting people’s health and keeping them out of hospitals.
These same breakthroughs are helping to provide a level of stability that will be critical as your government continues to support the health system recover and rebuild as our province and economy stay open.
After decades of underfunding, your government has made unprecedented investments in the health system to add over 3,500 new hospital beds and thousands more nurses and personal support workers to care for patients.
Your government eliminated requirements for Canadian work experience that disadvantaged internationally trained health care professionals and continues to work with regulatory colleges to ensure more qualified newcomers to Ontario are helping to care for patients, not waiting in limbo for years on end.
Rural and remote regions have for years now struggled to attract health care professionals. That is why Ontario introduced the new learn and stay grant, which pays for the full cost of tuition and supplies for high-priority health professionals like nurses in return for committing to practise in an underserved community after graduation.
Ontario is also investing $1 billion more to expand home and community care so more people can receive the support they need at home rather than in the hospital.
And Ontario recently launched the largest expansion of medical school enrolment in over a decade to increase access to family and specialty doctors across the province.
Your government is also making the largest investment in the province’s history to build and expand hospitals across Ontario. Communities like Brampton, Windsor, Ottawa and Niagara—places that have for years been advocating for health infrastructure that meets the needs of their growing regions—will soon see shovels in the ground.
And Ontario is on track to make good on its commitment to build 30,000 new long-term-care beds by 2028, with 31,705 new and 28,648 upgraded beds now in development. With these new beds under construction, the province is investing nearly $5 billion over four years to hire the more than 27,000 new staff that will be needed to provide long-term-care-home residents an average of four hours of direct care per day by 2025.
While these historic investments have helped to support the province’s health system through the most challenging period in modern history, there’s no question it, like health systems across Canada, continues to experience significant pressures, including an exhausted workforce and increasingly stressed emergency departments.
Amidst these pressures, Ontario’s health system continues to provide care to those who need it. Nine out of 10 high-urgency patients are finishing their emergency visit within target times. Surgeries are happening at nearly 90% of pre-pandemic levels.
More can still be done.
Your government is actively engaging with health-system partners to identify urgent, actionable solutions and will implement whatever measures are needed to help ease immediate pressures, while also ensuring the province is ready to stay open during any winter surge.
As your government addresses short-term stressors, it will continue to invest in and advance meaningful reform that in the long term builds a stronger, more resilient health system that better meets the needs of patients.
For example, Ontario health teams, which are integrating care and helping to take the guesswork out of navigating a complex system, will soon reach full provincial coverage as they help to increase the digital and virtual care options available to patients. Community paramedicine programs are leveraging the considerable talents of the province’s paramedics to care for people at home, rather than in hospital or long-term care. The province will continue to work with system partners to safely expand scopes of practice so that qualified professionals can do more to help their patients, alleviating pressures in other parts of the health system.
Ontario will also continue to make historic investments to implement Roadmap to Wellness, your government’s plan to build a connected and comprehensive mental health and addictions system. This road map will reduce wait times for services, helping to avoid crisis care that requires hospitalization. Ontario is also working with Runnymede Healthcare to build the first-ever centre dedicated to treating post-traumatic stress injury for first responders, who carry a special weight for us as they protect our communities.
As the province continues to pursue these reforms, it will not be limited by conventional thinking that stifles innovation and preserves a status quo that struggles to respond to growing challenges and changing needs. Instead, guided by the best evidence and the successes of other jurisdictions, your government will take bold action that prioritizes patients and their health above all else.
It’s what Ontarians deserve. It’s what the women and men working on the front lines of our health system need.
These efforts will only benefit from the federal government paying its fair share of health care funding. Like every other province and territory from coast to coast to coast, Ontario continues to urge the federal government to increase its share of provincial-territorial health care spending from 22% to 35% through the Canada Health Transfer.
Together, let’s build an economy with better jobs and bigger paycheques.
Ensemble, construisons une économie faite de meilleurs emplois et de plus gros chèques de paie.
Ontario is now firmly on track to become a leading electric vehicle production capital of North America.
Over the past two years, the province has secured a string of historic investments in its automotive sector worth nearly $16 billion, including $5 billion to build Canada’s first large-scale electric vehicle battery plant. These investments are creating thousands of new direct jobs in communities like Windsor, Oshawa and Loyalist, and will support hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs across Ontario.
These investments and jobs are no accident.
For the past four years, your government has been hard at work creating the conditions for a stronger economy. Ontario has reduced the cost of doing business by $7 billion annually. At the same time, your government has kept taxes for people and businesses low, while making strategic investments to improve the province’s competitive advantage.
Clean, green steel is by far the best example.
With the support of the provincial and federal governments, Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie and ArcelorMittal Dofasco in Hamilton are making generational investments to transition to electric arc furnaces, powered by clean Ontario energy. These two projects alone are the equivalent of removing nearly two million cars off the road every year.
And by helping to meet the growing global demand for low-carbon automobile production, clean steel is a critical selling feature as Team Ontario fights for every dollar of investment in the province’s economy.
These efforts are only supported by Ontario’s abundant supply of critical minerals, including nickel, cobalt and lithium.
Recognizing the unprecedented potential, the province has released its critical minerals strategy, a five-year blueprint to better connect mines and minerals in the north with the manufacturing might in the south, including Ontario’s growing electric vehicle and battery manufacturing capacity.
The cornerstone of this strategy is found in the Ring of Fire.
Located approximately 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay and covering about 5,000 square kilometres, the Ring of Fire is one of the most promising mineral development opportunities in the world and represents a transformative opportunity for multi-generational development.
A project of this size and scale requires an unyielding commitment to partnership and co-operation.
By working collaboratively with First Nations partners, the province is now in the late stages of environmental assessments and design work to build the first two sections of the road to the Ring of Fire.
And recently, chiefs from Webequie and Marten Falls First Nations submitted the terms of reference for the northern road link, the third and final road necessary to complete the all-season connection to the province’s highway system.
This “corridor of prosperity” will not only bring economic growth and opportunity to northern and First Nations communities, it will also unlock the full potential of Ontario’s economy.
Your government is investing in and connecting every part of the automotive supply chain. The cars of the future will be built in Ontario from start to finish by Ontario workers, delivering better jobs and bigger paycheques to hard-working women and men.
From minerals to manufacturing, the province is building up homegrown supply chains that will ensure every region and every worker benefit in this once-in-a-generation opportunity.
In the months and years ahead, your government will continue to do what has served this province’s economy so well: cut red tape, keep taxes low, foster an environment that attracts global capital and make targeted investments that strengthen Ontario’s competitive advantage.
Amidst growing uncertainty, the road ahead will not always be easy.
But Ontarians can rest assured that their government is and will remain relentlessly focused on protecting the strength of the province’s economy.
That’s why your government’s first act will be to retable Ontario’s Plan to Build, the 2022 provincial budget, which provides a clear road map for the years ahead as your government navigates looming economic uncertainty. Your government also recognizes the need to support those who aren’t able to participate in the province’s economy, particularly as inflation drives the cost of living higher. Ontario’s Plan to Build will now include a 5% increase in payments made through the Ontario Disability Support Program. In the coming months, your government intends to introduce changes that will increase ODSP rates annually, tied to inflation.
Your government will always be there to support those who need it.
Together, let’s build the highways, roads and transit infrastructure needed to keep Ontario moving.
Ensemble, construisons les autoroutes, les routes et les infrastructures de transport en commun nécessaires pour garder l’Ontario en mouvement.
Over the coming decade, Ontario is expected to grow by more than two million people. As it does, it has never been more important to invest in building transportation infrastructure.
Doing so is in equal parts a social and economic imperative.
Clogged roads and gridlocked highways not only keep busy moms and dads from getting home to their children sooner; they trap transportation trucks from getting goods to market, costing more than $11 billion across Ontario’s economy every year.
Ontario cannot afford to hold its economy back. Now is the time to build.
Your government is investing a historic $86.6 billion over the next 10 years to build and expand roads, highways and transit infrastructure across Ontario, including Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass.
Highway 413 will serve Halton, Peel and York regions and will bring real relief to the most congested transportation corridor in North America. It will reduce travel times by up to 30 minutes each way during rush hour on their commute, saving drivers up to one hour per day and five hours per week.
The Bradford Bypass will serve the rapidly growing communities of Simcoe County and York Region and help alleviate traffic in the greater Toronto area by saving drivers up to 35 minutes per trip compared with existing routes on local roads.
Your government’s investments in roads and highways are not confined to communities around Toronto.
Widening Highway 3 from two to four lanes between Essex and Leamington. Rebuilding more than 21 kilometers of Highway 101 through Timmins. And twinning the Garden City Skyway bridge along the Queen Elizabeth Way over the Welland Canal. Each of these projects, among many others, will help to reduce gridlock and support economic growth across the province.
As part of its historic investment, your government is also building the next generation of transit infrastructure, including the largest subway expansion in Canadian history with the all-new Ontario Line subway.
The province is also investing in expanding GO train service to Bowmanville, London and Niagara and to the people of northeastern Ontario: Your government will bring the Northlander train to Timmins and back home to Cochrane, restoring a key passenger rail line that will better connect the north to central and southern Ontario.
Together, let’s build the workforce we need today for the jobs of tomorrow.
Ensemble, construisons les effectifs dont nous avons besoin pour les emplois de demain.
Amidst high rates of employment, Ontario is facing a generational labour shortage.
It is welcome news that so many businesses in the province are looking to hire. But employers’ inability to find workers to fill jobs is costing Ontario’s economy.
It’s never been more important to get more women and men trained for rewarding careers in the skilled trades.
That is why your government is investing more than $1 billion in a skilled trades strategy to reduce the harmful stigma around the trades, particularly for women and young people, while expanding training opportunities to help build the most highly skilled workforce in North America. This includes expanding three-year college degrees for in-demand fields and partnering with union-led training centres to provide people with the skills they need for new and exciting job opportunities.
Your government is also breaking down barriers that prevent out-of-province workers and newcomers from finding good jobs in the trades.
Ontario has the jobs. The world has the talent.
As your government continues its extensive efforts to get more women and men into the skilled trades, it is once again calling on the federal government to urgently double the number of skilled workers that are allowed to immigrate to Ontario each year.
Your government has been clear: The current allotment falls far short of what the province’s economy needs.
As your government takes action to fill immediate labour gaps, it is also taking a longer-term view of building the workforce of tomorrow.
With close to one out of every five job openings set to be in the skilled trades by 2025, your government is ensuring that students learn the skills they need for these rewarding careers.
After the past two years of pandemic disruptions, it has never been more important for students to be in classrooms learning, preparing for the jobs of the future.
Ontario’s Plan to Catch Up starts with students back in classrooms, on time and with a full school experience that includes extracurriculars like sports, clubs and field trips. Nothing is more important.
It also includes new tutoring supports to help fill gaps in learning.
As a first step, your government launched a new province-wide tutoring program supported by a landmark $175 million investment, the largest of its kind in the country. On average, nearly 50,000 students are benefiting from this program each week.
Ontario’s students and their parents can always use a little extra help.
When re-introduced, the 2022 budget will now include an additional $225 million over two years to provide direct payments to parents to help their kids catch up.
This funding, which will put money directly into parents’ pockets, is on top of the more than $26.6 billion the province is investing in public education, the most ever in Ontario’s history.
These new and expanded supports will be critical as students catch up on their learning today and prepare to participate in the dynamic economy of tomorrow.
Together, let’s build more homes that people can afford.
Ensemble, construisons plus de résidences que la population peut se payer.
Owning a home provides a sense of place and pride in a community. For decades, it has offered families economic security, even during turbulent times.
But as Ontario’s population has grown, housing construction has not kept pace. Now, like much of Canada, Ontario is facing a housing crisis that is freezing young families out of the dream of home ownership.
With more housing starts in 2021 than in over 30 years, your government’s policies are working to get more homes built faster with the ultimate goal of building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years.
While this is welcome news, more needs to be done. As the province continues to grow and as Ontario welcomes more newcomers in search of economic opportunity, the crisis will only get worse. That is, without bold action.
That is why Ontario will continue to provide the tools municipalities need to break through the logjams that have historically slowed the speed of housing construction, including enhanced authorities for the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa.
Strong-mayor systems will empower municipal leaders to work more effectively with the province to reduce timelines for development, standardize processes and address local barriers to increasing the supply of housing. For urban populations, these new powers will be especially relevant as the province works with its municipal partners to expand the footprint of transit-oriented communities so more people can live, work and play near the convenience of public transit.
Your government will also explore partnering with municipalities to leverage surplus provincial lands and add new incentives to build attainable housing that lowers costs for potential buyers and puts home ownership in reach for more families.
Building more homes is one of the many ways your government is keeping costs down for families.
At a time when the cost of gas has never been higher, Ontario temporarily cut the provincial gas tax rate by 5.7 cents per litre, bringing total savings in provincial taxes and charges on gas to 10 cents per litre when combined with the savings realized by eliminating the previous government’s cap-and-trade carbon tax.
Your government removed road tolls from Highways 412 and 418 in Durham region and eliminated the cost of renewing licence plates, saving most drivers $120 per year per car, or $60 per year in northern Ontario.
Parents of young children will soon see the cost of daycare drop dramatically with the province having negotiated a fair child care deal with the federal government.
And your government will give Ontario workers a hard-earned raise when it increases the minimum wage to $15.50 per hour on October 1, 2022.
As inflation drives the cost of living higher, these actions are helping to blunt the impact on household budgets by putting more money back into Ontarians’ pockets. Your government is providing real relief to families at a time when it’s needed most.
Ontario is a remarkable province. It’s where the world gathers in pursuit of opportunities not available anywhere else.
Good jobs and rewarding careers. Livable, vibrant communities. Where differences in faith and backgrounds are celebrated and respected.
This is our Ontario. A place where potential is limited only by the scale of our shared ambition.
Your government recognizes this potential and has a bold vision for the future of this province.
But this isn’t something your government can do alone. Realizing the promise and potential of Ontario will require all hands on deck.
It will include collaboration with workers, businesses and union leaders; partnership with municipalities and the federal government; and it will involve working side by side with Indigenous leaders and communities toward meaningful reconciliation.
Together, let’s build Ontario.
Ensemble, bâtissons l’Ontario.
To mark the occasion of Expo 67, the government of Premier John Robarts commissioned a song to capture the energy, creativity and dynamism of a growing province.
Written by Dolores Claman and Richard Morris, A Place to Stand helped to define an era during which Ontario more confidently developed its sense of self, its place in Canada and the world.
Today, more than half a century later and during another time of endless potential, their lyrics still ring true.
Give us a place to stand
Give us a place to grow
And call this land, Ontario
A place to live
For you and me
With hopes as high
As the tallest tree
Give us a land of lakes
And a land of snow
And we will build Ontario....
Ontario, let’s get building.
Meegwetch. Thank you. Merci.
Playing of the national anthem / Écoute de l’hymne national.
Her Honour was then pleased to retire.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that, to prevent mistakes, I have obtained a copy of the speech from the throne, which I will now read.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Dispense? Agreed.
Introduction of Government Bills
An Act to perpetuate an ancient parliamentary right / Loi visant à perpétuer un ancien droit parlementaire
Mr. Doug Ford moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 1, An Act to perpetuate an ancient parliamentary right / Projet de loi 1, Loi visant à perpétuer un ancien droit parlementaire.
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): Would the Premier care to briefly explain his bill?
Hon. Doug Ford: No.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
Plan to Build Act (Budget Measures), 2022 / Loi de 2022 pour favoriser le développement (mesures budgétaires)
Mr. Bethlenfalvy moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 2, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact and amend various statutes / Projet de loi 2, Loi visant à mettre en oeuvre les mesures budgétaires et à édicter et à modifier diverses lois.
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): Would the minister care to briefly explain his bill?
Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: I will, and my remarks will be short and brief.
Simply, this legislation is the reintroduction of our plan that we presented earlier this year. This is a bill to keep cost down for the people of Ontario; to invest in hospitals, our health care workforce and home care; and to continue to build subways, highways, housing and key infrastructure.
Throne speech debate
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I recognize the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: I move that the speech of Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor to this House be taken into consideration on Wednesday, August 10, 2022.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader has moved that the speech of Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor to this House be taken into consideration on August 10, 2022. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that pursuant to standing order 9(g), the Clerk has received written notice from the government House leader indicating that a temporary change in the weekly meeting schedule of the House is required and, therefore, the afternoon routine on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, shall commence at 1 p.m.
Once again, I recognize the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: I move the adjournment of the House.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader has moved the adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
This House stands adjourned until 9 a.m. on Wednesday, August 10, 2022.
The House adjourned at 1346.