LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Thursday 1 September 2022 Jeudi 1er septembre 2022
The House met at 0900.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Good morning. Let us pray.
Prières / Prayers.
Orders of the Day
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I recognize the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Mr. Ron Hansen, with five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group, five minutes allotted to Her Majesty’s government and five minutes allotted to Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader is seeking the unanimous consent of the House to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Mr. Ron Hansen, with five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group, five minutes allotted to Her Majesty’s government and five minutes allotted to Her Majesty’s loyal opposition. Agreed? Agreed.
Today we are honoured to remember and pay tribute to a former member of our provincial Legislature, the late Mr. Ron Hansen, who was the MPP for Lincoln during the 35th Parliament.
Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery is Mr. Hansen’s family: his son Marc Hansen; his daughter-in-law Catherine Burke; his granddaughter Mary Jane Hansen; his brother Robert A. Hansen; his sister-in-law Elaine Hunter; his nephew Rob Hansen, and his niece Rica Hansen; cousins Margaret Hansen and Janice Boyd; and his caregiver Korreen Bennett. Also with us in the Speaker’s gallery is Mr. David Warner, who was the Speaker during the 35th Parliament. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
I recognize the member for Don Valley East.
Mr. Adil Shamji: Mr. Speaker, I’m honoured to rise and speak in the memory of Mr. Ron Hansen. Though he is a man who I never had the privilege of meeting, it is incredibly clear that his career reveals so many important lessons that all of us would do well to heed.
Born in Welland on May 27, 1943, Mr. Hansen was not a career politician—not at all, and to me, this was one of his most admirable attributes. He worked as a stationary engineer for General Motors for 35 years. Throughout his life, it is clear that he was devoted to service and activism, with participation in important organizations such as Greenpeace, Boy Scouts, Big Brothers and the Camrose International Institute, an educational organization promoting conservation over consumerism. As though this was not enough, he served as an auxiliary officer in the Ontario Provincial Police as well.
Public service is not just about the things that we do for this generation. It is about the things that we do for future generations, and in this regard there is no doubt that Mr. Hansen’s action to protect the environment was exemplary. He was a staunch advocate for the environment. In addition to his membership in Greenpeace, he was also founder of not one, not two, but three environmental groups, including Niagara Residents for Safe Toxic Waste Disposal, the Ontario Toxic Waste Research Coalition and the Citizens for Modern Waste Management. Additionally, he travelled all around the world, speaking about toxic waste management. His work in this Legislature, which I will touch on shortly, continued this work as well.
Mr. Hansen would later come to be nominated as the candidate for the New Democratic Party and to be successful in the general election in 1990. He had the honour of being member of provincial Parliament in the riding of Lincoln from 1990 to 1995.
As MPP, Mr. Hansen was known for voting with his conscience and not along party lines. This highlights another lesson that can be taken from his life of service—that he wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power.
Ron was the only MPP to speak up against the Ontario Waste Management Corp.’s plan to build a toxic waste treatment plant in Lincoln. While all three major parties seemed to support the proposal made by that crown corporation, Ron was instrumental in shedding light on what was truly going on in the riding. He brought multiple petitions into the Legislature signed by thousands of residents standing against the proposed toxic waste plant. He explained that it would threaten farmland, waterways and the fruit belt. He is an inspiration.
He represented and fought for his riding even when he had to go that route alone. He educated and inspired those around him. Make no mistake about it, he made a difference. It is what we all should aspire to do during our time in this Parliament.
Mr. Hansen passed away this year on March 9 at the age of 78 and will be missed by his many children, siblings, nieces, nephews, extended family and many friends. Today we honour his memory, and we thank him for his legacy. May he rest in eternal peace.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I recognize the member from Niagara West.
Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: I rise today to pay tribute to the former MPP for Lincoln, Ron Hansen, a servant of the people of Ontario from 1990 to 1995 in the 35th Parliament of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Ronald Cooper Hansen was born in Welland, Ontario, on May 27, 1943. He studied production planning at Erie County Technical Institute and stationary engineering at Niagara College, of which he was always a strong supporter.
He was a loving and devoted father to Marc, Chris and Eric; a grandfather to Amanda, Benjamin and Mary Jane; and a great-grandfather to Lucas; a long-time employee of General Motors in St. Catharines and a strong voice for workers; a servant of the people of Niagara; and a man of conviction, integrity and passion.
Ron enjoyed fishing, bowling, travelling, technology and photography. Prior to his election, he was a member of Greenpeace, Camrose International and helped found three local environmental action groups: Niagara Residents for Safe Toxic Waste Disposal, the Ontario Toxic Waste Research Coalition and Citizens for Modern Waste Management. He also helped with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kingsway Bowling, Women’s Place, the community resources and action centre, the soup kitchen, community legal services, the co-op nursery, Niagara Peninsula Homes and the Niagara Regional Youth Home. He did all this while serving as an auxiliary OPP officer—a busy man.
Ron was elected to the Ontario Legislature in the general election of September 6, 1990, representing the former riding of Lincoln as the government member for the New Democratic Party.
I spoke with another former MPP for the riding of Lincoln, Phil Andrewes, who recalled the election night that Ron won. Now, Phil spoke very highly of Ron, though, as a Progressive Conservative, he would say that Ron was philosophically misguided. Apparently, the NDP campaign office was in a house at the end of Ontario Street in Beamsville, directly across from the PCs’ campaign office. The NDP had had little to no signs in the riding leading up to election night, and as the results came in at the PC headquarters, they saw that Ron had won. An hour after the results had been declared, the PC campaign manager and team decided to go across the road to congratulate Ron and his team, but when they showed up to congratulate him, apparently Ron didn’t know that he had won.
As the former Premier of Ontario and ambassador to the United Nations Bob Rae recalls, “Ron Hansen was a hard-working, caring and diligent servant of the people. All of us who served with him remember him with great affection.” This echoes the words of local constituents I spoke with from across the political spectrum. They all emphasized that he always listened, worked hard and wanted what was best for the area.
Ron was an MPP who was not afraid to represent local values and the concerns of his constituents, even if it meant breaking with government ranks. Ray Konkle, who served as the mayor of the town of Lincoln at the same time that Ron served as MPP for the riding of Lincoln, said that Ron could be like “a dog on a bone”—in a good way—when he got it into in his head that something had to change.
As an MPP of conviction, Ron faithfully and consistently shared the concerns of his constituents at Queen’s Park rather than compromising with the status quo. Ron voted his conscience on controversial issues. He presented petitions, promoting faith-based values and concerns, advocated for locally sourced government contracts and businesses and fiercely defended local farmers and community advocates against the interest of the political establishment. When Ron made a promise, he kept his word, and he was known for always getting back to his constituents, whether or not they agreed with him.
As a passionate MPP, Ron was also a fierce advocate of local issues and concerns in Niagara. From his private member’s bill seeking to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act to promote responsible water usage, to advocating for local grape growers and pork producers—including my father—perhaps no other political issue demonstrated Ron’s passion than his fight to protect source water and tender-fruit lands in west Niagara in a battle against a proposed waste disposal facility that was successfully defeated—in fact, when I was speaking yesterday with former mayor Ray Konkle, he said that many of the rallies were actually held at his constituency office because he was right along Victoria Avenue, which was one of the truck routes for the toxic waste that would have been planned, so they were able to hold them in front of his constituency office.
He repeatedly championed the concerns of local residents in Niagara who opposed the proposal from the Ontario Waste Management Corp. to build a toxic waste facility in Lincoln.
In a question addressed to Ruth Anna Grier, the Minister of the Environment, during a heated session of question period on December 2, 1991, Ron noted that he had spent over $10,000 of his own money to fight the proposal as an active member of the Toxic Waste Research Coalition. Jim Bradley, the former MPP for St. Catharines, cited Ron’s integrity the same day in question period when he noted that the member for Lincoln was willing to lose his title as Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to “exercise his right to vote against a government bill which in fact was bad for his constituents from his point of view.”
Ron’s fight to preserve source water and tender-fruit lands in the west Niagara area has helped to preserve the legacy of current greenbelt protections for prime agricultural and environmentally sensitive areas in Niagara to this day.
On November 28, shortly after stepping down as Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs over this matter of principle, Ron stood in this chamber and he said, “I have to take a look. Here at Queen’s Park I have not found one person who sits on this side of the House or that side of the House who voted for me in the last election.... I have told the people in my riding that I will take the message of what they want to Queen’s Park, not what Queen’s Park demands of my constituents.”
Speaker, I believe that the words of the MPP for Lincoln continue to speak to this assembly today and to serve as a humble reminder why each one of us is here: To perform the duties of a member honestly and justly, and to faithfully represent the people of our ridings in the best interests of all Ontarians.
Ron was a champion of the working people of Lincoln, and I know I speak for all the people of Lincoln, and Ontario, when I say that we all give thanks for the life and legacy of Ron Hansen.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I recognize the member for St. Catharines.
Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: Good morning. It is a distinct honour to stand here today and pay tribute to a proud New Democrat and former member of provincial Parliament for Lincoln, Mr. Ron Hansen.
I am pleased to acknowledge many of Ron’s family and friends who are here with us today in the gallery: His son Marc; daughter-in-law Catherine; granddaughter Mary Jane; brother Robert; sister-in-law Elaine; Ron’s caregiver and very close friend, Korreen; niece Rica; cousin Margaret; cousin Janice; nephew Rob; and Mr. David Warner, former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Ron’s son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter are visiting all the way from Ireland this morning, and his cousin travelled from British Columbia, our fine west coast of Canada. Thank you all for taking this special trip, and welcome.
Ronald Cooper Hansen, born in 1943 in Welland, began his education journey at Niagara College, studying stationary engineering and production planning at Erie County Technical School. In true Niagara fashion, Ron worked for 35 years as a stationary engineer for General Motors in St. Catharines, and he served as the member of provincial Parliament for the riding of Lincoln from September 6, 1990, to June 7, 1995.
A large focus of grassroots groups and advocates in St. Catharines and Niagara is the need to have clean, waste-free spaces to live, work and play; spaces our children and our grandchildren can call home for generations to come.
Ron was an integral part of this local movement in the early days as a founding member of three environmental groups: Niagara Residents for Safe Toxic Waste Disposal; Ontario Toxic Waste Research Coalition; and Citizens for Modern Waste Management.
He put the minister’s feet to the fire in 1991, fighting against Ontario Waste Management Corp.’s plan to build a toxic waste facility in West Lincoln, and worked to explore progressive waste management strategies. Ron once presented a 720-foot-long petition in this House, containing more than 6,000 signatures of residents against the decade-long proposed waste plant. At a time where society was slow to modernize, Ron took hold of the situation and worked to produce modern waste systems.
Ron’s contributions did not stop there, as he was also active with Boy Scouts groups, Big Brothers of Niagara and an avid bowler at the Kingsway. He assisted in establishing important resources, such as Women’s Place, the community resources and action centre, the soup kitchen, community legal services, Niagara Peninsula Homes and the Niagara Regional Youth Home.
Ron’s enthusiasm to help his constituents was very, very clear. His commitment to serve those who needed it most was top priority. Ron’s initial efforts in establishing these support networks paved the way for the incredible work that these organizations do today, helping thousands of low-income, marginalized and vulnerable residents.
Ron was a strong and vocal advocate for GO Transit service to the Niagara region—well, Ron, I’m happy to say we did it; almost three decades later, but we finally have regular GO Transit service that extends all the way to Niagara Falls.
An MPP under Bob Rae, Ron called for the establishment of a rural affairs ministry, citing the need for an effective voice for all of rural Ontario, a sector of advocacy that had gone by the wayside at that time. Ron wanted to establish ministry field officers as a liaison between the rural communities and policy-makers right here at Queen’s Park to talk about issues such as housing density, transportation and ambulance services. He recognized that rural communities had unique needs not being met by the conventional solutions applied to urban areas, something we can all keep in mind as MPPs even in 2022.
Ron was known for leading with his conscience, refusing to toe the party line. He asked bold questions and voted on bills in a way that reflected his personal values. Ron’s ideals and his willingness to fight against large corporations who didn’t care about the “little guys,” as he called them, is truly inspiring.
Ron Hansen passed away on March 9, 2022, at the age of 78. Not many people can say they served their community, served their province, as a member of provincial Parliament. It is a privilege to serve our constituents, and I know that Ron felt that joy as well.
To Ron, thank you for your dedicated service to the residents of Lincoln and for igniting that fight in all of us here at Queen’s Park.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Thank you to the family and friends who have joined us today at Queen’s Park for this tribute for Mr. Hansen.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I now turn to the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Madame la Présidente, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Mr. James Pollock, with five minutes allotted to Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group and five minutes allotted to Her Majesty’s government.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The government House leader is seeking unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Mr. James Pollock, with five minutes allotted to Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group and five minutes allotted to Her Majesty’s government. Agreed? Agreed.
We are here today to honour, remember and pay tribute to a former member of our provincial Legislature, the late Mr. James Pollock, who was MPP for Hastings–Peterborough for the 32nd, 33rd and 34th Parliaments.
Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery is Mr. Pollock’s family: his children Kevin Pollock, Heather Pace and Virginia Warren; and his son-in-law Angus Warren. Also in the Speaker’s gallery is Mr. David Warner, Speaker during the 35th Parliament. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
I recognize the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane
Mr. John Vanthof: It’s an honour to stand in this place and pay tribute to James “Jim” Ivan Pollock, who served in this Legislature as the member for Hastings–Peterborough from 1981 to 1990.
I would first like to thank his family for sharing him with the people of Ontario. We all know that it’s not just the person standing in the Legislature, it’s the family supporting him, especially coming from a farm.
It’s a privilege to be able to pay tribute and to research the lives of people who served here before and, in many cases, find common connections. Jim Pollock was a dairy farmer for the biggest part of his life, a profession that I also shared for 35 years. We have both seen many of the same sunrises and worked past many sunsets. Farmers are typically jacks of all trades and deal with whatever comes their way. A dairy farmer is always on call, a trait shared by people in public life, a trait that Jim shared with others not only as MPP but before that as reeve of Rawdon township and warden of Hastings county.
Jim married the love of his life, Jean, and took over the family farm when he was 23. That struck a chord with me too. My wife and I got married and bought the farm when I was 23, and I can relate to the struggles that they must have had in those years, and the joy. Because there’s nothing like raising kids on a family farm, and you only know that if you grew up on one.
During his provincial political career, he served as deputy whip and agriculture critic, among other duties—both roles that I have filled for my party. And I can tell you one thing: that farmers and party whips are eternal optimists.
As I was doing my research, I came upon a tweet from the Minister of Energy expressing his condolences on Jim’s passing. One of the comments mentioned something about Jim’s opposition to a mega landfill project in his area. That sparked my interest. A Conservative dairy farmer opposed to the creation of a mega landfill in his area: That really warmed my heart. I have some history with that. In fact, I found a statement from MPP Pollock on a resolution regarding the shipment of solid waste: “I just want to make a few comments on this resolution. I agree with the environment critic for our party when she says we can agree with the first part.... However, I do not particularly agree with the last line ... where they do not want it in northern Ontario. I can assure members we do not want it in eastern Ontario either. I do not know about western Ontario. Western Ontario can speak for itself. Anyway, we certainly do not want it in eastern Ontario.” That was spoken like a farmer: plain, direct, no-nonsense, but respectful of others and their opinions.
I never had the opportunity to meet Jim Pollock, but I wish I could have. I’m willing to bet that a handshake meant something to Jim Pollock.
Standing in this House is a privilege, especially for a farmer. It’s a special feeling for a farmer, one that I share with James Pollock. In his honour, I would like to share a few feelings that only a farmer can know: soil crumbling in your hand when it’s ready to plant; a beautiful summer day, a slight breeze, with the baler chugging bale after bale of perfect hay, hay that will still smell like summer when it’s fed months later; a late night calving a cow and the calf isn’t breathing—I don’t know how Jim did it, but this is how I do it. You usually tickle their nose with a piece of straw to start them to breathe, but if they don’t, you grab them and you swing them. And if that doesn’t work and you’re desperate, you hang them over a gate and pull really hard. When they gasp for air—and they don’t always do it, but when they gasp for air, that is one of the greatest feelings in the world. It was those feelings that Jim Pollock brought to this Legislature.
In closing, once again I would like to thank his family for sacrificing themselves to allow him to come here. Every farmer I know wants to leave the farm a little bit better than they found it. Because of his family, Jim had the opportunity to not only leave the farm better, but his riding better and the province better. On all our behalf, thank you very much.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I recognize the member for Kingston and the Islands.
Mr. Ted Hsu: I’m honoured to rise today to pay tribute to a fellow member from eastern Ontario, the former member for Hastings–Peterborough, James Pollock. James—or Jim, as he was often referred to—passed away on October 28, 2021, at the age of 91. He is survived by his wife, Jean; his four children, Virginia, Lyle, Kevin and Heather; his two grandchildren; and is remembered by his beloved sisters, Patricia and Doris. I want to thank his family and Mr. Warner for being here today.
Born in Stirling, Ontario, about 20 kilometres north of Belleville, Jim grew up on his family dairy farm. At the age of 23, he took over the farm with his wife, Jean Wallace, and ran the farm until 2019, when he was 89 years old. An experienced farmer, Jim farmed dairy, beef and then cash crops.
He always had a sense of optimism. As a polio survivor, he often said that he was one of the lucky ones. Jim Pollock never took anything for granted, and he carried that with him throughout his life.
Jim was an active member of his church, the local masonic lodge, the Trent Valley Shriners Club and the Stirling Legion. He serves as a reminder to us that we are all here to work for our communities, big or small; that we are all here to work together to make Ontario a better place.
Jim was also a big fan of the show Jeopardy. He always made time for hosts Art Fleming and Alex Trebek, and in 2008 he got the chance to go to California for three tapings.
Jim had a long life of public service. Before serving in this chamber, he spent 13 years as a member of the Rawdon township council. In 1978, he was the warden of Hastings county and served on Hastings county council until 1981. Then he decided to run for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and went on to serve this House in the 32nd, 33rd and 34th Parliaments. MPP Pollock served on numerous committees and as the critic for natural resources during the David Peterson government. He often travelled around his riding and understood the value of talking to his constituents and how much their views mattered.
On behalf of all of my Ontario Liberal colleagues: Jim, may you rest in peace and thank you for your years of service.
Mr. Ric Bresee: It is my honour today, again, to rise in tribute to the late James “Jim” Pollock. Mr. Pollock served this House on behalf of his constituents in the then riding of Hastings–Peterborough from April 1981 to July 1990. He was successful in three elections, including the very tough swing election of 1987, which only brought 16 PC members to this House—although Pollock actually increased his margin of victory.
Jim Pollock was born and raised on a dairy farm in Stirling, Ontario, which he took over from his parents in 1953, the same year he married his wife, Jean. Together they farmed for 66 years and were married for 68, raising four children: Virginia, Lyle, Kevin and Heather. He had a great sense of humour and optimism, which translated into a strong sense of community and a belief in community service. As was his style, that belief was translated into action through his engagement with his church, the AOTS, Masonic Lodge, Trent Valley Shriners and Stirling Legion. He was a charter member of the Rawdon township volunteer fire department and a member of the local conservation authority.
On top of all that, or perhaps as a result of it, he decided to step into municipal politics, starting with the council of the township of Rawdon for 13 years. During that time, he rose amongst his peers to serve as reeve for six years and eventually sitting as the warden of Hastings county and a member of Hastings county council until 1981.
While he was still actively farming, he turned his attention to provincial politics. He won the Conservative nomination for Hastings–Peterborough, and as I said before, was elected three times to the Ontario Legislature. He always worked to help the small towns and communities in his riding, and he and his wife Jean tried very hard to attend every milestone anniversary and birthday party to bring greetings from the province. Jean was very much an integral part of his team and a strong partner to Jim every step of the way.
Jim has been referred to by many that knew him as a good upstanding man with a strong moral compass and a heart for the people he served. Jim was well-known for working with all government parties, including when he was in opposition. His sole focus was on the issues of his constituents in the riding, and he was not looking to gain favour or power. He was determined to get the job done.
After being re-elected in 1985, Pollock was named the eastern Ontario critic for agriculture, and in 1987 became the party’s natural resources critic. Agricultural issues were very important to him. He raised the issue for his region of the expanding population of deer. It was affecting the apple farmers. He was said to have brought in the damaged branches of some apple trees to this assembly to stress and to demonstrate that concern. He also worked hard to resolve issues around invasive species, specifically the zebra mussels in the Trent canal system.
Following his service in government, he remained active in his community and continued farming for almost another 30 years—although he did switch from dairy to beef and eventually to cash crops—continuing into his late eighties. I didn’t personally have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Pollock, but I do know several who knew him and worked with him, and it appears that Jim had a lasting impression on all those who knew him.
I found this quote from long-time provincial colleague MPP Norm Sterling: “During my 34 years as an MPP in the Legislature, I never met a more sincere, hard-working politician than Jim Pollock. I am proud to say that Jim and I were close friends, often sharing a story or talking about his constituents’ problems. Jim and Jean have given much of their lives to all of us. I will always remember his smile and good deeds to our province. We will miss him very much.”
And from Tom Deline, the current mayor of Centre Hastings and another past warden of Hastings county, when he was asked about his memory just a couple of days ago: “Jim Pollock, in my mind, was a man of the old school where a handshake was your word and you stood by it. He was a true gentleman who worked tirelessly for the municipality within the county of Hastings. Jim attended the wedding of my wife and myself, and we had the pleasure of seeing him at our wardens’ banquets and annual past wardens’ get-togethers which helped maintain those close friendships. His wife, Jean, was his biggest asset and supporter. He will be greatly missed.”
Jim Pollock was a farmer, a father, a volunteer and a public servant. We are grateful for all that he was and all that he gave to his family, to his community and to this province. Speaker, we lost Jim Pollock on October 28, 2021. He will be missed.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I want to thank the family members of Mr. Pollock for joining us today for these tributes. I also wish to all the guests who joined us today at Queen’s Park a good rest of your day. Thank you.
Orders of the day.
Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: No further business, Speaker.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): There being no further business, this House is recessed until 10:15.
The House recessed from 0937 to 1015.
Mr. Matthew Rae: Today, I would like to recognize and congratulate Alex Mustakas, the founder and artistic director of the not-for-profit Drayton Entertainment in my riding of Perth–Wellington. Alex is an important and active member in our local community and someone who has done so much for one of our cultural industries in Ontario.
Earlier this year, Alex was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General of Canada. The medal recognizes Canadians for outstanding contributions in any field. Alex received the medal for his lifelong commitment to making the performing arts affordable and accessible to those in Ontario and beyond.
Alex has achieved a truly formidable feat, building Drayton Entertainment from the ground up, operating theatres at seven locations across southern Ontario. I had the pleasure of meeting with Alex and seeing a couple of their performances earlier this year, which I greatly enjoyed.
In addition to Alex’s Meritorious Service Medal, his work with Drayton Entertainment has gained him and the organization six Lieutenant Governor’s awards for the arts, a prestigious honour bestowed on arts organizations that exemplify outstanding private sector and community support. The team at Drayton Entertainment was able to do this with an unorthodox but promising business model: one that’s fiscally responsible, utilizes strong networks and gives back to the community.
Some of the organization’s good work includes annual donations of over 2,000 tickets to more than 750 charities, aiding them in their own fundraising efforts. And unlike many other organizations, Drayton Entertainment relies on volunteers, with over 30,000 hours of volunteer activity per year.
I want to congratulate Alex again. Under your guidance, I know Drayton Entertainment will continue to be very successful for years to come.
Mental health and addiction services
Ms. Jessica Bell: This week, we recognized Overdose Awareness Day. In 2021, 560 people died from an overdose. That is the highest number of drug poisoning deaths ever recorded in Toronto. Acute drug toxicity is the current number one cause of death for youth in Ontario aged 15 to 24. Ontario has an opioid crisis.
These are the words of Zoë Dodd, a leader in the work to save people’s lives. This is what she says: “The US and Canada have now been in a devastating drug poisoning crisis for a decade. This isn’t happening like this anywhere else in the world. These deaths are preventable. This crisis will end when we truly shift as a society.”
To the workers leading change on this crisis’s front lines, you have been to too many funerals. To the families who have lost people to drug overdose, I am so sorry.
International Overdose Awareness Day is a day for us to remember those whom we’ve lost and to continue to advocate for better solutions.
That means listening to health professionals who see clean and safe supply as a way to stop people dying from toxic street drugs. It means permitting and funding opioid consumption sites like the one in Kensington, so people can safely use; it means increasing funding to mental health treatment and addiction treatment that’s been proven to work; and building more permanent supportive housing.
This is a complicated crisis, and compassion and kindness are needed to address it.
Mr. David Smith: Today, I’d like to speak about returning to school, and I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak.
The achievement and well-being of children and youth are always at the forefront of my mind. I want to take the time today to give a shout-out and thank the organizations in the riding of Scarborough Centre, like Lights Out Basketball Academy, for their efforts and initiatives in getting our young minds prepared for greater success.
Lights Out Basketball Academy is an organization based at Ellesmere Community Centre and led by Coach Ken Wade, Coach Rogel, Coach Jerron and Coach Christian. They not only teach essential basketball skills to our kids, but they work hard in bringing positive differences into their lives.
Recently they have partnered with Adidas Canada to ensure that their players return to school with backpacks. Small gestures like these make such a difference and ensure that kids are going to school ready to learn and looking sharp.
To the students of Scarborough Centre: Even though I am no longer your school board trustee, you can rest assured that I will continue to advocate for you and have your back, to ensure you have the appropriate resources you need to succeed.
Our government has enacted a great plan, supported by historic investments in education, so you can have a safe, normal, enjoyable return to school, with the full range of extracurricular activities and supports you deserve. Best wishes for a happy and healthy return to school in the 2022-23 school year.
Services de santé dans le Nord / Northern health services
M. Guy Bourgouin: C’est toujours un honneur de se lever en Chambre pour représenter les bonnes gens de Mushkegowuk–Baie James.
The community of Kashechewan is facing a nursing crisis at their nursing station, which is their only medical facility. It’s their lifeline. They currently have two nurses manning the station, when usually they have nine—and even 12, prior to the pandemic. They are open for emergency-only cases. Basic medical care is not an option—no prenatal services, no regular checkups. Being proactive and preventative for health issues such as complications with diabetes is not an option. They deserve better.
The entire province is facing a nursing shortage, but these communities have even greater challenges, and things need to be addressed. These are fly-in communities with no road access, no access to nearby hospitals or ER departments. There is a surge of COVID that has threatened the community. Funding is heavily needed in these communities in order to hire proper staff, to get specialists and doctors in and out of the communities for clinics and consultations to give them the medical attention they deserve.
Finally, a long-term recruitment and retention plan needs to be developed with the First Nations and Inuit health branch, Indigenous Services Canada and the provincial government to ensure adequate and accessible health care for all northern communities facing these issues.
Slovakia Constitution Day
Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: Today, September 1, the people of Slovakia are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Slovakian constitution of 1992. For me, as someone who was born in the capital city of Bratislava and traces her paternal routes to this beautiful country, it is a day of pride and celebration.
The signing of the constitution de facto established Slovakia as an independent and sovereign country and was a direct consequence of the events of the peaceful, non-violent and student-led velvet revolution, which took place in Czechoslovakia in 1989 and resulted in the ousting of the communist regime.
Slovakia today is a developed country of 5.4 million, with an advanced, high-income economy, a strong stance on civil liberties, democratic governance, universal health care and free education.
Led by Zuzana Čaputová, the country’s first female president, Slovakia is a member of the EU, NATO, UN and the Council of Europe. Being home to eight UNESCO heritage sites, Slovakia boasts the largest number of castles per capita in the world, situated within its picturesque and mountainous landscapes.
An interesting fact to note, Mr. Speaker: Did you know that many of Ontario’s Jaguar, Land Rover and Kia vehicles are imported from this largest-per-capita car producer, which manufactures over one million passenger vehicles per year?
I am proud to be among the 72,000-strong Slovakian diaspora in Canada, in good company with politician Tim Hudak, sports journalist George Gross and hockey player Natalie Babonyová.
Dear colleagues, please join me in wishing our Slovakian Canadian friends a Šťastný Deň Ústavy Slovenskej republiky.
Ms. Lise Vaugeois: I would like today to talk about Suomi Koti, a non-profit seniors’ residence that has been providing our elders in Thunder Bay–Superior North with exemplary independent living residences for over 30 years.
Suomi Koti is one of the few organizations in Thunder Bay that offers independent living for seniors at not-for-profit rates. It is affordable, beautifully maintained, close to amenities, surrounded by trees, and I would be very happy to live there myself.
Suomi Koti has plans to build an additional 60 apartments, 20 of which will be reserved for low-income seniors, but to do this, they must rely on donations and government funding to create this new and much-needed housing. There is currently a five- to seven-year wait-list to get into this and the two other non-profit homes in the city, so the need is clear.
The board of Suomi Koti has worked with the most respected designers and planners to put together their funding and building plans. Unfortunately, federal and provincial funding levels are no longer what they were when Suomi Koti was first established, and they are struggling to access funding even though this type of housing is clearly needed.
Speaker, I look forward to meeting with representatives from the provincial government to advocate for financial support for Suomi Koti so that they can continue to do what they already do so well: provide first-rate, affordable housing that seniors in Thunder Bay–Superior North need and deserve.
National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada
Mr. Aris Babikian: The opening of the CNE is another indication that our lives are back to normal. I was delighted and honoured to attend the opening of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada booth at the CNE and meet so many old friends.
The NEPMCC is a forum of more than 800 member publications—print, online, radio and TV—that represent 65 different languages. They reach over seven million Canadians. I would like to congratulate Mr. Thomas Saras for leading the organization to new heights and achievements.
For more than seven decades, ethnic newspapers have been meeting the challenges of assistance, guidance and integration of millions of newcomers who have immigrated to Canada. All of this is done in the spirit of helping them to become better Canadians. Its role has been to introduce immigrants to their new environment as efficiently and as painlessly possible for them, their families and their community in order for them to become full-fledged citizens of our country, so that the newcomers are willing and able to contribute their talents and abilities for the benefit of all Canadians.
They also promote excellence in journalism among their members. They serve as a forum for the study and discussion of barriers faced by ethnic groups. And they gather and disseminate information, which leads to a better understanding and cooperation among the various ethnic groups in Canada and mainstream society. They are an integral part of our society and they deserve our unwavering support and solidarity.
I wish the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada and Mr. Saras many more successes and milestones.
Events in Don Valley East / Labour Day
Mr. Adil Shamji: First, I would like to acknowledge the Clerks, who have been so supportive of me as a rookie MPP. They literally reminded me that it’s my turn to speak now.
On this last day of the legislative week, we have the special opportunity to look ahead with anticipation to a long weekend, because this Monday is Labour Day. For some people, this may be an opportunity for rest. For the residents in Don Valley East, it is anything but, because we will be a beehive of community activity.
For example, the residents of Flemingdon’s Sunny Glenway community will be hosting an enormous outdoor community fun fair that will include a barbecue, live music, a magic show and a variety of activities for children.
The Canadian Community Services Organization, supported by the North Toronto Cluster of Churches and East York Town Centre, will hold a back-to-school event in which they deliver somewhere between 500 and 600 backpacks, for free, along with kits of personal protective equipment. Families across the riding will enjoy the warm company of friends and family.
But we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger picture. I invite all of us to remember and celebrate what Labour Day is all about. It is about honouring workers and about all those people who fought for us to secure better rights, higher wages and safer working conditions. We’ve come a long way, but there is still farther to go. In the midst of a pandemic, the people of Ontario still need 10 paid sick days. They mustn’t have their wages capped to 1% by Bill 124, and they need to believe that their workplace is safe.
To everyone in this Legislature, in Don Valley East and across our great province, I wish you a safe, happy, restful and inspiring Labour Day weekend.
Events in Hastings–Lennox and Addington
Mr. Ric Bresee: I rise once again to share some great news from the amazing riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington. I want to highlight a wonderful event. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join with four different branches of the international Lions Club to welcome a group of European Lions members as they ran over 1,000 kilometres across two countries, from Chicago to Montreal, in support of advocacy, awareness and fundraising for the people of Ukraine. Their motto, modified from the international Lions Club’s, is “We Run, We Serve” and, in 2022, “We Serve the Ukraine.”
I want to express my gratitude to the Bath and District Lions Club, the Madoc Lions Club, the Amherstview Lions Club and the Odessa Lions Club for their invitation to join this event and for their support of this amazing effort. Of course, I want to thank the runners themselves for their dedication to service.
The Lions Clubs across this country and around the world provide a fantastic opportunity for local people to come out and serve their communities.
Events in Kitchener–Conestoga
Mr. Mike Harris: It is my pleasure to rise today to announce the triumphant return of fall fairs to the great riding of Kitchener–Conestoga. I want to give a heartfelt welcome back to the Wellesley Township Fall Fair: one night only on Tuesday, September 13—and folks, it’s free admission. Their theme this year is “Reconnecting Communities.” They will be celebrating by raffling off the newly finished community quilt project of 2021.
Next, the New Hamburg Fall Fair; it runs September 15 through 18. The theme this year is “Back to our Roots,” a celebration of our agricultural community. New attractions include the Ultimutts stunt dogs and Reptile Kingdom.
We can’t forget, of course, the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival, which returns on September 24, and it is a team effort. The Lions Club sells sausage on a bun, the Optimists sell schnitzel on a bun, the Lutheran churches sell apple dumplings and Mennonite churches sell apple fritters—which I know you’re a big fan of, Speaker.
Last, but not least, Oktoberfest: It’s wunderbar, and it’s back, running from September 23 to October 15. The official keg-tapping will be Friday, October 7. Come raise a stein and polka around the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany.
All of these fall fairs cannot run without the help of countless volunteers, so thank you to all the volunteers for all their hard work and helping to celebrate our region’s proud history.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That concludes our members’ statements for this morning.
I feel the obligation to remind the members that the members’ statements are 90 seconds in length, not two minutes, and remind them as much as possible to adhere to the time that the standing orders provide. I’m reluctant to interrupt members who are concluding a good statement, but we have to keep in mind the standing orders.
Wearing of pins
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order: The member for Elgin–Middlesex–London.
Mr. Rob Flack: Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to allow members to wear gold ribbon lapel pins in recognition of September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Elgin–Middlesex–London is seeking the unanimous consent of the House to allow members to wear gold ribbon lapel pins in recognition of September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Agreed? Agreed.
Introduction of Visitors
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): We have with us in the Speaker’s gallery today His Excellency Vít Koziak, who is the ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Canada. His Excellency is accompanied by Mr. Michael Martincek, who is the honorary consul general of the Slovak Republic in Toronto. Please join me in welcoming our special guests.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Also in the Speaker’s gallery today is the family of today’s page captain, Prassan Aggarwal: his mother Salonee Aggarwal; his father Neeraj Aggarwal; and his sister Siya Aggarwal—some of you may remember her from her time as a page in the Legislature in 2019. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Hon. Sylvia Jones: It gives me great pleasure to welcome Helen Chinnery and her son Stephen Warner to Queen’s Park this morning.
Having had the opportunity to work with Stephen, it’s also bittersweet that after working with the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore, the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the Premier, and finally, at health, Stephen is departing Queen’s Park to study law.
Stephen has always approached his work here with commitment, enthusiasm, a great sense of humour and, most importantly, a passion for public service. I am grateful for his friendship, and I will miss him deeply.
Mr. Sol Mamakwa: I’d like to welcome Derek Fox from Bearskin Lake First Nation and Melinda Meekis from Deer Lake First Nation. Derek Fox is Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation—and also, his assistant. Meegwetch for coming. Thank you.
Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: I’d also like to take this opportunity to welcome my compatriot and good friend His Excellency Vít Koziak, ambassador of the Slovak Republic, who is here to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Slovakian constitution.
I would like to invite all members to join us for the flag-raising today at noon.
Mr. Hardeep Singh Grewal: I have a number of visitors to introduce today, so please bear with me.
First, I would like to welcome, from Punjab, India, Dr. Gurbir Singh Gill, who’s well known for his contributions and efforts in demonstrating the importance of making health care accessible to all. His dedication and hard work in improving the health care system in Punjab, India, has resulted in him perfecting a groundbreaking technique in cardiology that has already positively impacted the lives of his patients and set a precedent for future generations in the medical field. Dr. Gill has successfully performed—and treated over 21,000 patients without the use of stents. He has been recognized for his contributions and achievements by the health minister of Punjab and has received the international health care award for the year 2022.
I would like to welcome Dr. Gill to the Legislature here today.
Hon. Doug Ford: Every Premier who has served has always had a great OPP detail, and there’s usually a sergeant who’s in charge of the detail. My sergeant—it’s his birthday today. He has served every Premier, back to Leslie Frost—at least, that’s what I hear; at least, he looks like he has served every Premier, back to Leslie Frost. He told me I was his favourite Premier, but I talked to other Premiers and he said the exact same thing to every single Premier he has served.
Happy birthday, Homi. I wish you all the very best.
Ms. Laura Smith: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome Sharline Wang and Lei Zhang, the parents of our brilliant young page Sophie Zhang of Thornhill.
Mr. Vincent Ke: I’m happy to introduce my friends from Germany: Zhou Jing and her husband, Bernd Wohlfart, and her daughter Melanie Rose Wohlfart. Welcome to Queen’s Park, and enjoy your trip in Canada.
Hon. Michael A. Tibollo: I wanted to introduce this morning page Liliana Commisso, who comes from Vaughan–Woodbridge and is attending St. Gregory the Great Catholic Academy. Welcome to Queen’s Park, and I hope you enjoy your time here with us.
Hon. Monte McNaughton: I want to welcome Josh Young to Queen’s Park today. Josh has been an intern in our office at the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. He is attending law school in Dundee, Scotland, this month. I wish him all the best and thank him for serving working people in this province.
Mr. Hardeep Singh Grewal: I’d also like to introduce two more sets of groups, so just really quickly. I’d like to recognize Jagjit Dhillon, a police officer from the Toronto police 23 Division; I would like to welcome Mejor Natt, a local community businessman who always gives back to the community; Amarjit Rai, a local, well-known news media personality in the Punjabi community; and I’d also like to introduce my father, Jagdish Singh Grewal.
On Monday, I gave a member’s statement that recognized the community of the Bayridge Block Party. I shared in my member’s statement last Monday that they, just on their street, fundraised over $10,000 for SickKids Hospital. All the young boys and girls are here with us today in the public gallery, just above me, so please join me in welcoming them all to Queen’s Park today.
Health care funding
Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Premier. Ontario’s health care crisis is getting worse by the day. Over the last week alone, there were overnight and weekend closures at Chesley hospital, Durham hospital, Walkerton and St. Mary’s, which was closed for a week. And just this morning, the Kemptville District Hospital announced its ER would be closed for the next six nights.
Doctors and front-line health care workers are very clear: This is a staffing crisis, and forcing seniors into private long-term-care homes is not going to solve that crisis. Why is the Premier saying no to front-line health staff who want to solve the staffing crisis?
Hon. Doug Ford: That’s the exact reason we have to move the patients into long-term care: because of the staffing crisis, because of the backlogged surgeries, because of the long waits in the emergency departments. That’s the exact reason.
Mr. Speaker, there isn’t a CEO of any hospital that has disagreed. As a matter of fact, I got a message from a CEO this morning: “Thank you so much for making this move.” They’re sending me messages non-stop.
This is about taking care of the public, taking care of seniors; making sure that we reduce the wait times when they go into the emergency room; making sure we get rid of the backlog when it comes to surgeries. That’s the reason we’re doing it, Mr. Speaker.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Again to the Premier: Families are left in a frightening and vulnerable position when a local emergency room closes. We all know that. It’s happening in community after community because hospitals are dangerously understaffed. Nurses are leaving because of low wages and poor working conditions.
Will the Premier start taking steps today to address this crisis, starting with a repeal of the disastrous Bill 124?
Hon. Doug Ford: Speaker, to my friend in the opposition: We started four and a half years ago when he propped up the Liberals to fire 1,600 nurses. We’ve hired over 14,500—added 14,500 nurses. We’re adding another 5,000 nurses. We’re adding 27,000 new PSWs. We built the medical school that is going to be graduating more doctors into the system—one that hasn’t been built in over a decade. We added over 720 doctors last year alone.
We’re going to continue building on the success that we’ve seen by putting additions and building brand new hospitals in over 50 areas. There’s going to be 50 new hospitals, or with additions on top of that, spending over $40 billion.
There’s no government in the history—not of just Ontario, of Canada—that has put more money into the health care system than this government has.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Final supplementary.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Again, to the Premier: Frankly, Speaker, the emergency rooms are closing. The Premier can talk all the numbers he wants. The emergency rooms are closing.
The Premier talks about the status quo. There’s nothing more status quo than Conservatives privatizing health care. Asking nurses and health care workers to accept cutbacks and pay freezes has been the status quo that this Premier has created. Public hospitals need proper funding and resources to maintain quality of care and to maintain safe working conditions. Nurses and health care workers need support, not wage freezes.
How many ERs have to close before this government gets it?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
Hon. Sylvia Jones: The only part that I will agree with the member opposite: It is concerning when an emergency room closes temporarily, whether that is for an hour, a shift or, in fact, over a weekend, which is why Ontario Health works so closely with our hospitals to make sure that individuals who could perhaps do a locum are matched with a hospital that is facing a short-term closure. We’re doing that work. We have done a lot of work with Ontario Health to make sure that those matches are done, and frankly we avoid many closures as a result of that work. That work will continue.
But I also want to remind the member opposite: You talk about the shortage of health care workers. It was actually under the NDP government, when Bob Rae was Premier, that you cut residency spaces for doctors in the province of Ontario. So I will take no lessons from the member opposite or the NDP on how to better provide health care services in the province of Ontario.
Ms. Marit Stiles: This question is for the Premier. Students are going back to school next week, to what we all hope is going to be a more normal school year. Experts have been clear that addressing the impacts on their learning and their well-being is going to require serious interventions. But instead of a serious plan backed up with real investment, this government is shifting millions away from schools and into direct, one-time payments, forcing parents to buy their own supports.
Since there have been no further details of this new voucher-style program, will the Premier commit instead to investing that $225 million into our schools where it can do the most good?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the Minister of Education.
Hon. Stephen Lecce: We can do even better, Speaker. We can increase it by $689 million for this September, for publicly funded schools, to ensure kids get back on track with a learning recovery plan that actually gets them on track.
But in addition to increasing investments in publicly funded schools—yes, we do believe, as Conservatives, that we need to help parents through this economic difficulty. That should be the default position of every single one of us. For whatever reason, the NDP and the Liberals have continued to oppose $1.6 billion in direct financial relief. We did it with a $200 payment. We doubled it to $400. And now we’re providing an additional $225 million to parents directly to help them with this economic challenge.
All of us agree that there’s economic instability, and we want to help families through it. In addition to supporting parents, we have a plan, Speaker, to help these kids catch up. It starts with them being in school this September. Normal and stable and more enjoyable: That is our vision. It is our priority, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure your kids stay in school right to June.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Ms. Marit Stiles: This government spent $900 million less on education last year than in previous years. The funding promised for this new direct payment is more than twice what’s been budgeted for mental health supports in schools. It’s $50 million more than what has been budgeted for in-school tutoring. Instead of funnelling that money into one-time cheques—$50, $75; we’re not sure yet—will the Premier invest it in hiring more teachers and more educational assistants so that our kids can truly catch up?
Hon. Stephen Lecce: Since 2002, there are 40,000 more education workers in our schools, and the population of students has remained almost constant at two million. We have more staff in our schools, and for this September, as the Premier noted, 3,000 more are on the way because our government has invested in a plan to ensure front-line staff are there to help our kids catch up.
That is our commitment: to keep them in school, to help them learn and recover from this pandemic, and focus on the life and the job skills that are going to set them up for success when it comes to getting those jobs of the future. We have a vision for these kids to be ambitious and bold, and it starts with stability in schools, with a full learning experience—the life and the job skills that come with that as well, through clubs, sports, extracurriculars—the leadership we want in the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders.
We have a plan. We have invested over $175 million in tutoring expansion. When it comes to mental health, as the member opposite noted, we have increased investments from when the former Liberals were in power by 420%, underscoring our commitment to the health and safety of all children in this province.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The final supplementary?
Ms. Marit Stiles: I’d like to know where these phantom staff are. Where are these mystery public health nurses who are supposed to be in our schools? You show me one of those. They sure as hell aren’t in our schools.
Speaker, this minister oversaw the longest school closures of any province or territory in this country—in North America. It’s a terrible track record. Instead of correcting that with the investments in our students, this government has shortchanged them at every opportunity.
The Premier can ensure a strong start to the new school year by investing and hiring more staff, bringing in more mental health supports and funding smaller classrooms. Will he do it?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’ll remind the members to make their comments through the Chair and to elevate their language.
Minister of Education.
Hon. Stephen Lecce: We obviously believe these kids need to get back on track after two years of difficulty. We have a plan to help these kids catch up, and it starts with these kids being in school and staying in school without interruption.
Every three years, families in this province have to deal with their kids staying at home because of strikes imposed by unions, supported by the members opposite.
I think what is most regrettable is that when we have a positive plan for these kids to get back on track—on the eve of back-to-school, when all of us should be coming together to support children and their return—we have a doom-and-gloom scenario again by the New Democrats, undermining the confidence of families at a time when we should be united to keep kids in class.
Mr. Speaker, we have a plan in place, with over $600 million more for this September, $175 million for tutoring—there are 49,000 kids last week alone who benefited from that support—and a mental health lift and a jobs-in-focus priority that’s going to help these kids stay in school and get back on track.
Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour le premier ministre. The government is attacking seniors’ fundamental right to consent, forcing them into long-term-care facilities far away from their circle of care, from their families, but they continue to ignore the failures of our home care system. Most alternate-level-of-care patients in our hospitals are not waiting for a long-term-care bed; they are waiting for home care. But the wait-lists have tripled under this Ford government.
Why has the government not made any improvements to our home care system that would allow frail, elderly people to stay in their homes safely and respectfully?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Health.
Hon. Sylvia Jones: I hope the member opposite, when she has an opportunity to vote for a billion-dollar investment in community care, will think carefully about what that actually means in our communities. It means 739,000 additional nursing visits. It means 157,000 nursing shift additional hours. It means 117,000 therapy visits, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology. It means 2,118,000 hours of personal support workers—two million, Speaker. It means 236,000 other types of home care visits.
I absolutely agree that we can do better to make sure that people are safe in their homes, but the member opposite needs to think carefully about that when we vote on today’s budget.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question?
Mme France Gélinas: The private, for-profit home care agencies cannot recruit and retain a stable workforce because they don’t offer good jobs.
Speaker, 90% of elderly people want to age at home, not in a long-term-care home. This government could bring tens of thousands of home care workers back to the job they love by mandating home care providers to offer 70% permanent, full-time jobs—well-paid, with benefits, sick days and a pension plan. But this government is standing by while private, for-profit home care agencies fail more and more frail, elderly people each and every day. Why is that?
Hon. Sylvia Jones: When our government passed the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act, it was precisely because we have understood that what people want is the ability to age at home safely and with the supports they need. We are doing that with a billion-dollar investment, and we will continue to do this important work to make sure that we are educating and offering PSWs additional opportunities to work in Ontario. We are doing it by increasing the capacity of nursing students in the province of Ontario at our colleges and universities. We are doing it by having internationally trained, educated health care professionals given the opportunity quickly to see and assess their qualifications and get those certificates so that they can work in our communities. We’re doing the work. I hope the member opposite is willing to support us in that work.
Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Speaker, the Bradford community’s economic potential is incumbent upon the success of this road project’s expansion. This road project will not only benefit residents and travellers, it’s pretty much the key to their downtown success—and that is so crucial. The people of Bradford deserve to have certainty when it comes to delivering on this project.
We have seen the Liberal track record regarding road expansion like the Bradford Bypass: broken dreams and delayed potential.
Speaker, to the Minister of Transportation, can she tell us how this project will help spur economic growth in York–Simcoe and beyond?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Thank you to the member from Newmarket–Aurora for the great question.
Speaker, I have spoken at length in this House about the urgent need to get this project done, to fill the infrastructure gap that is crippling drivers. But building the Bradford Bypass is so much more than just about relief from gridlock. This new link will provide Ontario with the economic boost that it needs.
We have the heart of agricultural production right here in our backyard. The Holland Marsh grows over 56% of the province’s share of root vegetables and is the second largest grower of carrots in North America. But if our transport trucks are trapped in gridlock, this prevents those goods from getting to market quickly, and it stops us from realizing Ontario’s economic potential.
Speaker, our government is the only government building towards a brighter future for our province and we will get the Bradford Bypass done.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Speaker, the people of Bradford and the GTA have waited long enough for the Ontario government to deliver on the Bradford Bypass project. Our local community has discussed and advocated for this project since the late 1960s and early 1970s.
But what did the Liberal government do over the years? They delayed and cancelled. In 1986, the then David Peterson Liberal government cancelled the proposed project. It was brought back once more only to be cancelled by the then Dalton McGuinty-Kathleen Wynne Liberal government.
Our community desperately needs this road expansion project to be completed. Speaker, to the Minister of Transportation: Can she please elaborate on the public support we have seen for getting this project done?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Thank you again to the member for the question. She is right, Speaker. Communities in York region and Simcoe county have long called on their government to build the Bradford Bypass, and my predecessor Julia Munro was a fierce advocate for the Bradford Bypass for 23 years in this House.
But even as these calls have intensified over the years, successive Liberal governments just refused to listen. Our PC government, under the leadership of our Premier, is finally answering the call and delivering the Bradford Bypass.
Speaker, I am so pleased about the resounding support this project has received, including from York region’s chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson, who has said, “Projects, like the Bradford Bypass, will make life easier for people by alleviating gridlock that already exists on our roads and highways.” And Bradford West Gwillimbury’s mayor, Rob Keffer, has applauded our government’s plan for this much-needed piece of infrastructure.
Speaker, make no mistake: Building the Bradford Bypass is a priority for our government and we are delivering.
Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Meegwetch. Good morning. Remarks in Oji-Cree.
My question is for the Premier. Twenty-seven First Nations in the Far North are air access only. These northern airports are lifelines to essential services: policing, groceries, mail, education, health care etc. They use gravel runways 3,500 feet in length, which may have been okay in the 1960s, but is definitely not okay today. What is the government doing to plan to extend and improve these gravel runways?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: It’s actually a very important question because, as the member will know, the Premier and this government have put an emphasis on developing the north, because we understand how important the north is to the economic success of the entire province. That has not, of course, always been the case in the province of Ontario. For many, many years, the north was ignored.
He will also know, Mr. Speaker, how important it is when you consider all of the work that the Minister of Mines and the Minister of Northern Development are doing with respect to the Ring of Fire.
The member is correct. It’s not only about economic development in the north, but it is also about the communities that will follow the enormous development that is happening there. We are building hospitals in the north, long-term care in the north. We’re building roads in the north. This is all part of what happens when the Ring of Fire comes to the north, and the infrastructure in the north will have to be improved. It is all part of the emphasis that this Premier has put in place since he was elected back in 2018, and we will continue that work.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Mr. Sol Mamakwa: That’s not the answer I’m looking for. I’m looking for answers regarding airports. And let me be clear, the Ring of Fire will not happen unless you talk to all First Nations.
Speaker, imagine landing a six-ton aircraft at 160 kilometres per hour on a gravel runway that is less than a kilometre. Stop and think about that. We would never say it is safe to drive a car or a bus or a truck on a gravel road at 160 kilometres per hour, yet every day, planes are landing under these conditions. In Kingfisher Lake, my home community, the airport runway, which is gravel, was built in 1987. We are still using the same gravel runway.
What is this government’s plan to update these airports, to make them as safe as airports in the rest of Ontario?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, I think the member is really—it’s surprising, but he’s on the same page as us when it comes to the investments that are needed in the north. Yes, it has been a long time since there has been a government that has been so focused on the north, that has been so focused on economic opportunity and understanding how important the north is to the entire province.
For far too long, people have thought of the north as a drag on the province of Ontario, but it was this Premier and this government who said that it’s absolutely the opposite, that there is a tremendous amount of wealth and resources in the north. There are skills in the north; we have seen it. The Minister of Mines has been a passionate advocate for the north and has brought jobs and opportunity to the north.
But the member is right. Infrastructure needs to be improved as we make these important investments which will bring hundreds of billions of dollars to the province of Ontario, thousands of jobs, enormous opportunities for all of the people in the north. The member is right, and that’s why we’re making investments not only in roads and bridges but, of course, airports will need to be part of this, because that’s what happens when you—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.
The next question.
Ms. Jess Dixon: Speaker, we all know that housing availability is at an all-time low across Ontario, with more than a million new residences required to address the shortage. The previous Liberal government didn’t have the initiative when it came to addressing supply constraints. It didn’t matter if it was high-rise, mid-rise, single-family, residential or missing middle, the entire process of building housing got mired in delay and wrapped in red tape.
This shortage can’t go on. There are young people in my riding—young hard-working people, people who are out building our economy—who are desperate to strike out on their own and start laying down their own roots, but they are stuck still living with their parents because the shortage has left them with limited options on where else to go.
What is the Associate Minister of Housing doing to keep us on track to building homes faster?
Hon. Michael Parsa: I would like to thank the member for the question, and the member is absolutely right. Ontario is in a housing crisis due to lack of supply, because of inaction by the previous Liberal government.
That’s why the people of Ontario put their trust in this Premier and in this government, because they know that we are here to act, to build, and because they know that we will work with all levels of government to get shovels in the ground.
As part of our More Homes for Everyone plan, we’re cutting through red tape and getting homes built faster. Through the community infrastructure and housing accelerator, we’re providing municipalities with the tools they need to speed up the approval process. This will remove barriers, creating new housing projects all across the province.
And, Mr. Speaker, we’re just getting started. We’re putting together Ontario’s first-ever housing supply action plan implementation team to engage with municipalities, the federal government and the ministry. As the Associate Minister of Housing, I’m here to ensure that we will fulfill our commitment to the people of this province. And, Mr. Speaker, we will—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.
The supplementary question.
Ms. Jess Dixon: Ontario’s population is expanding rapidly with projections of two to six million by 2043. By many accounts, the province is just not prepared to handle this kind of growth. We’ve got an aging population. We’ve got an increasing number of new Ontarians. We need the infrastructure to support all of them. We especially need it in major metropolitan cities and in rapidly growing areas, like the region of Waterloo.
We’re so lucky to have all these new residents. They keep our economy buzzing, and they keep our province vibrant. But if we don’t buckle down and build now, we’re going to see more and more Ontarians under-housed.
Can the associate minister explain how our government is working to keep pace with the growth happening here in Ontario?
Hon. Michael Parsa: Again, I thank the member for the question, and as I’ve said on countless occasions in this House: The time for getting shovels in the ground and getting on with the buildings of more homes is now.
That’s precisely what this government is doing. In 2021, our government broke ground on a record number of homes being built, with more than 100,000 new homes in only 12 months. That was the highest level since 1987.
And we can’t stop now. To keep up with the pace of population growth, we’ve introduced A Place to Grow, our plan for the greater Golden Horseshoe, designed to increase housing supply, create jobs and build stronger communities. We brought forward the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, which will ensure Ontario’s fastest growing cities have the tools they need to get projects approved quicker and build more homes faster.
Under the previous Liberal government, too many Ontarians gave up on the dream of home ownership. This government will never give up on them. I will never give up on them.
Ms. Chandra Pasma: Last week, Deana, a resident of Extendicare’s West End Villa, was forced into a move she didn’t want to make, thanks to the government’s Bill 7. Deana had temporarily ended up on a floor run by the Ottawa Hospital after they took over management of two floors at West End Villa. Warned that she was facing the possibility of being moved far from family, and hospital charges of up to $1,800 a day, Dina was forced to accept a room in this for-profit facility that she does not want to live in.
Why is the Premier insisting that no one will be coerced against their will when it is already happening to patients like Deana?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Long-Term Care.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Well, look, we just passed the bill yesterday.
Having said that, we do contemplate working with hospitals to make space that is available in long-term-care homes available to our hospitals so that patients who need more complex care can have that care. That is something that has been working very well in communities across the province of Ontario. It works well in Markham–Stouffville. It has been working quite well in Ottawa. That is part of our changes to the health care system—our modernizing of the health care system.
We’ve said it a million times: We’re not just going to simply go with the status quo. It is not a good level of care when a person who wants to be in long-term care is sitting in a hospital. This has been the case in this province for years. I read you yesterday a report from the Auditor General, dating back to 2011, that highlighted how dangerous it was to have seniors waiting in hospitals when they should be in a long-term-care home. We’re acting on it, Mr. Speaker, and that is one of the ways we’re doing it.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Ms. Chandra Pasma: Speaker, Deana may be bedbound, but she has the same right to choose where to live that we all have. People don’t become disposable just because they’re elderly or they have a disability, but instead of being able to choose a new room or a new facility herself, she was told, “Take this one now or, next week, we can put you wherever we want or charge you whatever we want.” It’s this government’s bill that was used to coerce her decision. Will the Premier finally acknowledge the danger and stop Bill 7 from coming into force?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Health.
Hon. Sylvia Jones: I think the member opposite is losing track of the fact that we have patients who are sitting in hospital beds who need to be better served in community. That can, in some cases, be in a long-term-care home, and I want to reinforce that Bill 7 ensures that the individual, even if they are moved into a long-term-care facility, will still have their priority list of five there, so that when a bed is available in the long-term-care facility of their choice, they will have that opportunity.
I have to remind people that hospitals are not homes. We need to ensure that people have the ability to live out their lives in community, in long-term-care homes, where there is social programming and where there are opportunities for enhancement, which is, of course, not what is available in hospitals.
Long-term care / Soins de longue durée
Mme Lucille Collard: The government is rushing the passing of Bill 7—not allowing the government to hear the concerns of Ontarians because there will be no public hearings. We understand that hospitals are under enormous pressure and that we need to find measures of support and relief, but moving patients out of ALC into inappropriate long-term-care facilities is displacing the issue, not solving it. The Premier himself said yesterday that patients deserve proper care, so why not invest in more home care?
The bill does not contain details regarding the implementation, and not knowing how far this government will go to free beds in hospitals really worries families.
My question is, how will the government ensure that patients’ rights to consent to proper care will be guaranteed?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Long-Term Care.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, the member suggests that this is something new. But look, we have a report dating back to 2011 that was commissioned by the former Liberal government where their own commissioner begged them to do something about ALC and to work with long-term care in order to make that happen. This is dating back to 2011.
We then have a further report from the Auditor General in 2012 which highlighted the dangers of having our seniors in hospital who should be transitioned into long-term care. In addition to the potential for C. difficile, they talked about older patients’ decline in physical and mental abilities due to lack of activity as being one of the dangers.
That’s what this bill fixes. It allows us to work with long-term-care homes, it allows us to work with the patient who wants to become a resident, see what services are available in the homes around their choice, and if their choice is not available, they stay at the top of the priority list for their home of choice, but at the same time get better care in the home while they wait for that.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Mme Lucille Collard: Monsieur le Président, l’accès à des soins de longue durée adéquats est une importante préoccupation pour la communauté franco-ontarienne. Les familles craignent que, sans leur consentement, leurs proches vont être transférés dans des établissements loin de leur famille, dans des établissements où personne ne veut aller à cause de la pauvre qualité des soins, mais surtout dans des établissements qui n’offrent pas de services en français.
Les gens sont inquiets, car le projet de loi ne donne aucune assurance que le consentement, la volonté et les besoins des patients et des familles seront respectés. Selon la loi, le patient doit être libre de consentir au traitement ou de le refuser. Le consentement doit être obtenu sans contrainte, ni coercition.
Est-ce que le ministre peut garantir aux Ontariens que la réglementation de mise en oeuvre du projet de loi 7 va respecter leur droit de consentir librement aux soins?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, the bill highlights that the Patients’ Bill of Rights will of course continue to be respected, but what the bill really does, though, Mr. Speaker, is that it works with patients in hospital who are waiting to be transferred into long-term care.
What we’re able to do is, we’re opening up 500 spaces for respite care. I’ve talked about how important that is, and I hope all members would agree that that’s important. We’re able to bring on 1,000 beds that have been set aside for isolation purposes—1,000 of the 2,000—and put them back into service, so that people can have access to those beds.
We’re able to work with long-term-care homes and the patients: “What is your preferred choice? Is it available? If it’s not, what homes in and around your preferred choice are available? Will that home work for you? If it doesn’t, what do we need to do to make it work for you? Do we need to put in kidney dialysis? Do we need behavioural supports for you, or specialized nursing for you?” This bill allows us to do that.
The regulations that I introduced a couple of days ago eliminate ward rooms. It reiterates the fact that there are no more ward rooms. We talked about the $60 million going forward. It’s better for patients, and we won’t stop—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
Health care post-secondary education
Mr. Logan Kanapathi: Speaker, the pandemic has exacerbated the growing nursing shortage in Ontario’s health care system. Nurses and personal support workers are the cornerstone of the health care system, and that’s why we must address this problem.
To do that, we have to improve access to post-secondary education. Many young people want to become part of the solution and enter this revered profession, but are concerned about barriers such as limited selection in accessing high-quality local education.
Mr. Speaker, what is the Minister of Colleges and Universities doing for my constituents that wish to receive a nursing degree close to their home?
Hon. Jill Dunlop: Thank you to the member from Markham–Thornhill for that important question. We all can agree—we know how vital nurses are to the health care system. I’m proud to say that we’ve created the conditions where a record number of Ontario students are excited to enter the nursing field and begin their postgraduate nursing education.
Our innovative approach to connecting students to nursing programs closer to home is delivering real results so we can keep Ontario open for all. Since 2020, we have allowed stand-alone nursing programs at 14 colleges and universities across Ontario to keep up with this demand. This means that students across the province, from St. Catharines to Ottawa to Sault Ste. Marie, have greater choice than ever before. This means getting them through the system quicker and getting them into the workforce.
In addition, our $61-million investment into the Learn and Stay program will provide life-changing financial supports to students right here in Ontario. These investments and programs are making real change in Ontario, and we will continue to provide students with the education and skills they need to address health care needs in this province.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question?
Mr. Logan Kanapathi: Thank you, Minister, for that answer.
Speaker, Indigenous communities also urgently need more nurses and PSWs. Unfortunately, Indigenous people have long faced barriers in accessing effective and culturally safe health care. With enrolment in Indigenous institutes increasing by 43% since 2018, we must ensure that students receive culturally relevant, high-calibre education.
Speaker, what steps has the ministry taken in expanding enrolment in PSW and nursing programs at Indigenous institutes?
Hon. Jill Dunlop: Thank you again to the member for the question. Our government is proud to support a post-secondary system that is accessible, respectful and inclusive for all students, including Indigenous learners and educators. That is why we continue to work with colleges, universities, Indigenous institutes and Indigenous partners to create the conditions that make it easier for everyone to access high-quality post-secondary education.
Through an investment of $34 million over four years to Indigenous institutes, we are increasing enrolment at PSW programs at six Indigenous institutes. This investment is expected to directly train over 400 PSWs in the next four years, and will support the enhancement of Indigenous knowledge and language in students’ learning.
Together, we are working to overcome the unique challenges facing our health care system and our students. We will continue to work collaboratively with Indigenous communities, so that students receive culturally relevant, high-calibre education and Indigenous people can continue accessing effective and culturally appropriate health care.
Mr. Jamie West: Speaker, everyone except the Conservative government seems to know that paid sick days help workers. It helps them keep their families safe, their co-workers safe and help keeps our community safe. But instead of 10 paid sick days, the Conservative government had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, in the middle of the pandemic, to offer a measly three temporary paid sick days. Workers can only use those for COVID-19 and nothing else, and if a worker used them in the past two years, those are gone forever.
My question is, why doesn’t the Premier care about workers who get sick with something other than COVID-19, and why are workers who get COVID-19 and have already used their paid sick days not able to have more?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Labour.
Hon. Monte McNaughton: Look, this government, under the leadership of Premier Ford, will always have the backs of workers across this province. That’s why, Mr. Speaker, we were the first province in Canada to bring in job-protected leave. If anyone had to stay home because of COVID-19, they can’t be fired for that.
Furthermore, we became the first province in the country to bring in paid sick days during the pandemic. I recently extended those paid sick days until the end of March. But let me be clear to all workers in this province: We’ll continue to have their backs every single day.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Jamie West: I want to talk about Barb—she asked me not to use her real name. Barb is a local PSW, and between the rising cost of food, rent and her student loans, she barely earns enough to support herself and her children. Barb worries a lot about getting sick, because if she gets sick, she’ll have to choose between feeding her kids or endangering the elderly patients where she works. It’s not a decision a mother or health care provider should make, Speaker.
Front-line workers deserve to recover from illness at home without fear that their bills won’t get paid. I’m not talking about protected leave; I’m talking about paying your bills and putting food in your belly.
My question is, will the Premier commit to 10 permanent employer-paid sick days so that Ontario can keep workers, families and our communities safe?
Hon. Monte McNaughton: This government will always continue to have the backs of every single worker in this province. That’s why, again, we brought in job-protected leave—the first in the country. We were the first in Canada to bring in paid sick days during the pandemic, and to update the member opposite, on average, workers across the province are using two of those three paid sick days.
I’m also proud to say, unlike the NDP plan that would bankrupt thousands of small businesses in this province, under our paid sick days, we’re reimbursing businesses for the cost of those paid sick days. Mr. Speaker, we’ll continue every day working for workers in this province and we’ll continue to have their backs.
Mr. Nolan Quinn: My question is for the Minister of Education. Industries and businesses across all of Ontario are struggling to find employees to fill jobs they’re offering. A company in my riding of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry, SigmaPoint in the city of Cornwall, is facing extreme difficulties finding engineers that they need to seamlessly run their business.
This labour shortage is hampering our economy. It is often the case that our young people are not aware of, or qualified, to work in these sectors. As legislators, we cannot accept this. We need to ensure that our students, starting with the youngest learners, including my own young children, know about the jobs of the future and are equipped to fulfill the jobs.
Mr. Speaker, through you, to the minister: How will this government ensure that our children are prepared to enter the workforce and fill our employment gaps?
Hon. Stephen Lecce: I want to thank the member from Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry for this critical question, because as our government is seized with safeguarding our future prosperity amid global change and disruption, we have a plan to ensure the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders in our province have the skills they need to get those good-paying jobs.
Mr. Speaker, the fundamental problem we have to define is that this curriculum the children are learning in this province, from math to science, was outdated and static. The last time the former Liberals updated the curriculum was 2005 in math. YouTube had not been launched, Twitter had not been released, the first iPhone had not been released on the market, and yet, kids were learning skills totally disconnected from the global economy. Clearly, we must do better, which is why we’ve modernized our math and science curricula with a real emphasis on life and job skills: Coding, financial literacy, teaching kids about mortgages, budgeting, credit and debt—these are the skills generations of young people wished they learned and, under our government, they will this September.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I remind the members not to use props.
Mr. Nolan Quinn: While I’m certainly pleased to know that this government has placed an emphasis on STEM learning in schools, our students must be able to transfer these skills to real-life opportunities. How can it be true that we have a labour shortage, and concurrently, a large number of young people without jobs?
The answer is simple, Speaker: Our young people were not adequately prepared for the current demands of the job market. For 15 years, the previous Liberal government was distracted trying to teach discovery math and other items that failed to help our students find employment with good paycheques.
We need to ensure that our children, including children of my riding of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry, are being taught relevant subjects that are continuously updated so that they can access and be aware of well-paying jobs. To the minister: How is the updated STEM curriculum going to prepare our next generation for the jobs of the future?
Hon. Stephen Lecce: It is a critical question, because what it underscores is a necessity for curriculum to be relevant to the job market. Under this government, we have created 500,000 good-paying jobs in this province, and yet, in this country, the youth unemployment rate still remains stubbornly high. Something has to change. We accept that the curriculum needs to be modern and reflect the life skills young people need to get the jobs of the future that we aspire for them. That’s why we mandated coding—the first government in this province to mandate coding from grade 1 through grade 8—in both the math and the science curriculum. In grade 3, kids will know how to literally build a robot. We’re teaching them skill sets that are going to help set them up the STEM careers we want.
We’re also, for the first time, speaking about artificial intelligence, with the emergence of new jobs within those sectors.
Financial literacy is now a mandate. It is a compulsion of graduation, starting in grade 1 with learning basic money skills, all the way to grade 8, where they’re literally building a budget for the year after their graduation.
We have a plan to help these kids succeed and get good-paying jobs, and it starts with keeping them in school this September right to June.
Health care workers
Ms. Lise Vaugeois: My question is to the Premier. This government spouts a lot of numbers about the thousands of new health care professionals they hired during their last term, but there is—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member, take your seat.
Order. Member for Niagara Falls, come to order. Government side, come to order. That shouldn’t have happened.
Start the clock. I recognize the member again.
Ms. Lise Vaugeois: Thank you.
As I said, this government spouts a lot of numbers about the thousands of new health care professionals they hired during their last term, but there is no evidence whatsoever that any of these new professionals exist. They are nowhere to be seen in Thunder Bay–Superior North, and given the staffing crisis gripping every single health care setting in the province, they’re nowhere to be seen anywhere else.
Is your refusal to negotiate a fair wage with existing health care workers, thus sending them out of the profession in droves, part of your long-term plan to privatize health care, ultimately leading to low-waged and precarious work for all health care workers once you have destroyed the existing workforce?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Colleges and Universities.
Hon. Jill Dunlop: Thank you to the member for that question. It’s true: We have hired thousands of health care workers, and we have thousands of students now wanting to enter the nursing profession. Today’s report showed 25,000 students wanting to enter the nursing profession in Ontario’s publicly funded colleges and universities, world-class—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.
Restart the clock.
Hon. Jill Dunlop: Because of the record investments that this government is making in the health care system, a record number of students are wanting to enter this profession. We know how vital nurses and PSWs are to the health care system, and we will continue to make those investments.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question?
Ms. Lise Vaugeois: These sound like imaginary friends to me.
The $5,000 bonus given to nurses but not other health care workers not only did not represent a permanent wage increase, it continues to cause division and resentment amongst all those health care workers who are not eligible for the bonus—an entirely predictable outcome in the government’s divide-and-conquer strategy.
I was called recently by a young nurse who was adamant he did not want their “damn $5,000.” He wanted to see across-the-board pay and benefit increases so that more health care workers would stay in the profession and they wouldn’t be working in a constant state of exhaustion.
Will this government admit it is deliberately driving existing health care workers out of the profession in order to gut the public system?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Let’s elevate our language.
The Minister of Colleges and Universities—
Hon. Jill Dunlop: —those 25,000 applications to the nursing programs right here in Ontario.
Let’s look at the opposition’s record. You admit you need more nurses. Let me see: a $61-million investment in the Learn and Stay program, which would bring 3,000 nurses in the next four years—did this opposition support it? No.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.
The member for St. Catharines, come to order. The member for Kitchener–Conestoga, come to order. I have to be able to hear the minister in her reply.
Restart the clock.
The Minister of Colleges and Universities.
Hon. Jill Dunlop: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
The Ministry of Long-Term Care’s investment of $35 million to increase enrolment to allow for over 1,000 RPNs and over 800 registered nurses—did the opposition support us? No.
The Ministry of Long-Term Care’s investment of $100 million to support upskilling and training of nurses and registered practical nurses—did they support that? No.
Our investment of $342 million to add over 5,000 registered nurses and 8,000 PSWs—did they support this? No.
This government is making the investments and providing the opportunities for students to enter the nursing profession.
Mrs. Daisy Wai: This question is for the Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity.
Our national and economic security depends on a robust cyber security system. With the recent news of a data breach at DoorDash, I know that many people in my riding of Richmond Hill are now aware of the critical role that cyber security oversight has for everyone’s protection. Unfortunately, there appears to be a lack of diversity and inclusion for women in this important field. It is reported that they make up a small percentage of the cyber security workforce, at roughly 11% of the jobs globally.
What is our government doing to highlight the growing need for women in cyber security?
Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: Thank you to the member from Richmond Hill for that excellent question.
You improve the security of an organization when you have diverse mindsets.
Today, September 1, is International Women in Cyber Day. It is a day set aside to bring awareness of the challenges women face and to celebrate women’s achievements within the cyber security industry.
To better address the growing demand for jobs in the cyber security field, we have to encourage a diverse set of voices throughout the field and in leadership positions.
I’m really glad the Minister of Education highlighted the importance that our government is making in changing the face of STEM for young kids—because we are modernizing our science and technology curriculum to place an emphasis on STEM that will encourage more young girls and women to explore cyber security.
Mr. Speaker, women can be at the forefront of this industry and can change the landscape in cyber security while increasing their representation.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question?
Mrs. Daisy Wai: Thank you, Minister, for your tireless efforts to support women.
Unfortunately, many women have experienced roadblocks and challenges trying to enter the cyber security industry.
One of the major concerns is that the field often isn’t on the radar of girls and women as they pick post-secondary programs or consider new careers. Another challenge women face is the perception that only those with a programming background can get a job in the field.
With today being International Women in Cyber Day, as the minister mentioned, what is our government doing to advocate for a more significant presence of women to be leaders in this industry?
Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: Thank you, member from Richmond Hill, for the question.
In the world of cyber security, it is becoming increasingly evident that our sensitive and private information is vulnerable.
The women involved in this industry are our front-line heroes, keeping us safe in an environment of new technology and cyber attacks. The same as a firefighter or a police officer, women in cyber security have the same ability to protect and serve our communities as well.
The industry is booming today and growing in exponential ways. I recently had a meeting with the Ontario Centre of Innovation and learned about the work they are doing to elevate women in the advanced technology industry to start up and scale up their businesses.
Mr. Speaker, now more than ever, I am excited to highlight and encourage young women to consider a career in cyber security. Our government will highlight women’s achievements and cast down barriers as an ally alongside them because women belong in every place, at every table and in every space.
Township of Armstrong sewage lagoon
Mr. John Vanthof: My question is to the Premier. The Ministry of the Environment has approved the use of a former dairy farm lagoon in Armstrong township for the importation, storage and spreading of raw sewage from Quebec. I have made the minister, the ministry and this Legislature aware several times of the issues involved with the approval process and have been unable to get answers, so I’ll make them here.
Could you please confirm that adjacent property owners need to be consulted as part of the EA process?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, let me just say that I won’t be able to give him specific answers to that, so I will take it under advisement and meet with him after question period.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question?
Mr. John Vanthof: I appreciate that response, and I look forward to the detailed answer.
When my office contacted the ministry regarding the use of a former dairy lagoon, the ministry responded that the site did not contain an abandoned lagoon, even though it obviously does. When my office contacted the ministry regarding the well that provided water to the former dairy farm, the reply was that no prior well existed on the property. Once again, that is not accurate.
The community is losing faith in the role of the ministry in the approval of this project. Minister, will you commit to releasing all documents pertaining to your ministry’s approval and monitoring of this project?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, Mr. Speaker, the minister is working very hard and very diligently to ensure that we have one of the most robust environmental assessment regimes in the entire country. I know you have seen day in and day out the passion that he brings to this.
Moreover, Mr. Speaker, we know how important agriculture is to the province of Ontario. It’s something that the Minister of Agriculture has been talking about constantly. We will continue to work with our farmers, we will continue to work with communities, and we’ll continue to work with this member to ensure that what we are doing each and every day is highlighted, respecting the fact that we need to protect our environment, making sure that the rules that are in place protect not only our communities but protect the people who work within our communities, and ensuring that our farmers and our agriculture community are respected in that process.
As I said, Mr. Speaker, at the conclusion of question period, I will sit down with the member and take some additional advice from him and hear some of his specific concerns.
Mrs. Robin Martin: With the GTA population expected to increase by between two and six million in the next 20 years, Ontario needs to have a plan. We will need the necessary infrastructure to accommodate more residents, and most importantly, we will need enough housing. We can’t afford delay and red tape. A population increase of this magnitude requires immediate action. Experts and advocates are calling on the federal and provincial governments to address the crisis and move aggressively to support the oncoming population increase.
Speaker, can the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing explain how the strong-mayors legislation will help expedite priority projects and housing so that we can keep up with population growth?
Hon. Steve Clark: I want to thank the member for Eglinton–Lawrence for that tremendous question. I think it’s so very important, especially during the time of a municipal election, that we’ve got to make sure that we get that plan in place. Municipal governments play a crucial role in determining housing supply.
But the member is right. As Ontario’s population has grown, housing—new construction, the supply of housing—hasn’t kept pace. We’re now facing a housing crisis that freezes too many young families out of the market. Our proposed strong-mayor system will empower municipal leaders to work more effectively with the province on provincial priorities like building more housing.
On this side of the House, we understand that municipalities play that critical role in ensuring our success, but we have to—and I have to implore the opposition to really look at this. This is so important, that we give the mayors in our two largest cities the tools that they need to get the job done. That’s exactly what our proposed bill will do.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mrs. Robin Martin: Leading voices have warned that the lack of new housing and planning for population growth in Toronto could hamper the city’s economic future. These same voices have said that the top concern for everyone should be addressing Ontario’s housing crunch and the difficulty that many residents have buying and renting.
Many of my constituents are very concerned about home ownership for themselves and for their children. They ask why governments are not taking immediate action and cutting through the red tape that is holding up development.
Speaker, can the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing explain how our strong-mayors legislation will result in more homes and provide reassurance to my constituents about their future in cities like Toronto?
Hon. Steve Clark: Speaker, through you to the member: I’ve said this many, many times in the House, that we need to work with our municipal partners to unlock more housing supply. Too many Ontarians are worried that they’re never going to be able to own the home that meets their needs and their budget. Our government has to move forward. We have to implement policies and build upon the success of More Homes for Everyone and our housing supply action plan.
I want to remind the members of the House that last year, we had the most housing starts, over 100,000. It’s the most we’ve had in our province in over 30 years.
But, Speaker, more has to be done. We need to pull out all the stops to ensure that municipalities have the tools to get the job done. We’ve committed to Ontarians in the last election that we’re going to be building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years, so that people can realize the dream of home ownership. That’s exactly what our proposed strong-mayors bill will accomplish.
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: Buying a new home should be a dream, not a nightmare. We continue to hear about bad builders who extort homebuyers by raising the price of homes after contracts have been signed, or turn around and cancel the contract and re-sell the home to the highest bidder. This has to stop.
Your regulator, the HCRA, has only investigated 10% of all complaints, and not a single fine has been laid. To make matters worse, because of the government regulator’s inaction, many homebuyers have had to spend thousands and thousands of dollars in court, sign NDAs and go through years of unnecessary stress, because your government regulator isn’t protecting them.
Why is this government letting this happen, and if they’re not willing to act, are they willing to reimburse homebuyers for their legal fees since they are unwilling to protect them?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery.
Hon. Kaleed Rasheed: Thank you to the member opposite for the question.
Mr. Speaker, it is this government that vowed to stop bad developers from trying to make extra money off the backs of hard-working Ontarians, and it is our government that is strengthening the regulatory tools available to address this concern. These include much heftier fines for bad builders and enhanced powers for HCRA to proactively investigate potential bad behaviour by developers.
Altogether, these stronger penalties and approaches would cost unlawful developers very dearly: on a single home, from hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines to the loss of their builder’s licence. Speaker, we are making bad builders think twice before trying to take advantage of our homebuyers. Also, we are actively working to stop these incidents from happening any further through multiple different means.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That concludes our question period for this morning.
Business of the House
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader on a point of order.
Hon. Paul Calandra: I’m just rising on standing order 59 to outline the business in the coming week and to thank members on all sides of the House for a very productive week for the people of the province of Ontario.
On Monday, September 5, pursuant to standing order 9(i), the House, of course, will not meet, in recognition of Labour Day.
On Tuesday, September 6, in the morning and afternoon, we will be dealing with Bill 3, Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act. In the evening, we will have private member’s notice of motion number 2 from the member for Brampton North.
On Wednesday, September 7, in the morning and afternoon, we will proceed with Bill 3, Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act. In the evening, we will have the member for Scarborough–Guildwood’s Bill 9, Safe and Healthy Communities Act.
On Thursday, September 8, in the morning, colleagues, we will have tributes to deceased members of Parliament. Let me just thank members who have been participating in that. They are very important to the family members, and the speeches on all sides have really been very, very well done. So thank you and congratulations to everybody.
We will then have a statement by the ministry at routine proceedings. The Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions will have a statement on World Suicide Prevention Day. In the afternoon, we will continue with tributes to deceased members of provincial Parliament and, in the evening, the member for Windsor West’s private member’s notice of motion number 1.
Plan to Build Act (Budget Measures), 2022 / Loi de 2022 pour favoriser le développement (mesures budgétaires)
Deferred vote on the motion for third 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): Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1147 to 1152.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The members will please take their seats.
On August 31, 2022, Mr. Bethlenfalvy moved third reading of Bill 2, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact and amend various statutes.
All those in favour of the motion will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.
- Anand, Deepak
- Babikian, Aris
- Bailey, Robert
- Barnes, Patrice
- Bethlenfalvy, Peter
- Bouma, Will
- Brady, Bobbi Ann
- Bresee, Ric
- Byers, Rick
- Calandra, Paul
- Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
- Cho, Stan
- Clark, Steve
- Coe, Lorne
- Crawford, Stephen
- Cuzzetto, Rudy
- Dixon, Jess
- Dowie, Andrew
- Downey, Doug
- Dunlop, Jill
- Fedeli, Victor
- Flack, Rob
- Ford, Doug
- Ford, Michael D.
- Fullerton, Merrilee
- Gallagher Murphy, Dawn
- Ghamari, Goldie
- Grewal, Hardeep Singh
- Hardeman, Ernie
- Harris, Mike
- Hogarth, Christine
- Jones, Sylvia
- Jones, Trevor
- Jordan, John
- Kanapathi, Logan
- Ke, Vincent
- Kerzner, Michael S.
- Khanjin, Andrea
- Kusendova-Bashta, Natalia
- Leardi, Anthony
- Lecce, Stephen
- Lumsden, Neil
- Martin, Robin
- McCarthy, Todd J.
- McGregor, Graham
- McNaughton, Monte
- Mulroney, Caroline
- Pang, Billy
- Parsa, Michael
- Pierre, Natalie
- Pirie, George
- Quinn, Nolan
- Rae, Matthew
- Rasheed, Kaleed
- Riddell, Brian
- Romano, Ross
- Sabawy, Sheref
- Sandhu, Amarjot
- Sarkaria, Prabmeet Singh
- Sarrazin, Stéphane
- Saunderson, Brian
- Skelly, Donna
- Smith, Dave
- Smith, David
- Smith, Graydon
- Smith, Laura
- Smith, Todd
- Surma, Kinga
- Tangri, Nina
- Thanigasalam, Vijay
- Thompson, Lisa M.
- Tibollo, Michael A.
- Triantafilopoulos, Effie J.
- Wai, Daisy
- Williams, Charmaine A.
- Yakabuski, John
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): All those opposed to the motion will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.
- Armstrong, Teresa J.
- Bell, Jessica
- Blais, Stephen
- Bourgouin, Guy
- Bowman, Stephanie
- Burch, Jeff
- Collard, Lucille
- Gates, Wayne
- Gélinas, France
- Glover, Chris
- Gretzky, Lisa
- Harden, Joel
- Hsu, Ted
- Hunter, Mitzie
- Mamakwa, Sol
- Mantha, Michael
- McMahon, Mary-Margaret
- Pasma, Chandra
- Rakocevic, Tom
- Schreiner, Mike
- Shamji, Adil
- Shaw, Sandy
- Stevens, Jennifer (Jennie)
- Stiles, Marit
- Tabuns, Peter
- Taylor, Monique
- Vanthof, John
- Vaugeois, Lise
- West, Jamie
- Wong-Tam, Kristyn
The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 76; the nays are 30.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I declare the motion carried.
Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.
Third reading agreed to.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): There being no further business at this time, this House stands in recess until 1 p.m.
The House recessed from 1156 to 1300.
Mr. Joel Harden: It’s an honour to rise today to present this petition. I want to thank, again, Marlene and Bernie from the Merry Dairy ice cream store on Gladstone. It reads:
“I Support Small Ice Cream Shops in Ontario.
“Whereas small ice cream shops offer customers a delicious treat, dairy producers valuable clients, and offer staff jobs;
“Whereas the Milk Act prevents small ice cream shops from local wholesaling, even if the source of their dairy ingredients comes from a certified dairy plant. In fact, the Milk Act currently restricts the wholesale of any products made with dairy ingredients, not just ice cream;
“Whereas small ice cream shops that wholesale without their own certified dairy plants are subject to thousands of dollars in fines ...;
“Whereas consumers have the right to choose from a variety of safe dairy products, and not just those made by large suppliers;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to allow small ice cream shops access to local markets for wholesaling, provided all ingredients are fully traceable, and all dairy ingredients come from certified dairy plants in Ontario.”
Speaker, it’s an honour to sign this petition. I’ll send it with Juliet to the Clerks’ table. And I understand that back home I have 70 more pages of this waiting for me.
Miss Monique Taylor: I’d like to thank Dr. Sally Palmer for providing my office with these petitions.
“To Raise Social Assistance Rates.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas Ontario’s social assistance rates are well below Canada’s official Market Basket Measure poverty line and woefully inadequate to cover the basic costs of food and rent;
“Whereas individuals on the Ontario Works program receive just $733 per month and individuals on the Ontario Disability Support Program receive just $1,169 per month, only 41% and 65% of the poverty line;
“Whereas the Ontario government has not increased social assistance rates since 2018, and Canada’s inflation rate in January 2022 was 5.1%, the highest rate in 30 years;
“Whereas the government of Canada recognized through the CERB program that a ‘basic income’ of $2,000 per month was the standard support required by individuals who lost their employment during the pandemic;
“We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly to increase social assistance rates to a base of $2,000 per month for those on Ontario Works and to increase other programs accordingly.”
I wholeheartedly support this petition. I will affix any name to it and give it to page Daniyal to bring to the Clerk.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Windsor–Tecumseh might have a point of order.
Mr. Andrew Dowie: Thank you, Speaker—and I apologize; I was unable to be prompt with it. I do have visitors in the gallery today who I want to introduce to the House. David Ennis and Ian Sutcliffe are both students at the University of Windsor, and I’d like to welcome them here today. They’re experiencing the Ontario Legislature for the first time.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Beaches–East York may have a point of order.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: Sorry; if I could just emulate that—I missed the opportunity to introduce my amazing volunteers, Ewan and Davide, who are here for my inaugural speech.
There are more people coming, but they are not here yet. Thank you so much.
Orders of the Day
New members of provincial Parliament
Hon. Graydon Smith: I move that the House recognize newly elected members of provincial Parliament for their contributions to public service and their communities.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry has moved government notice of motion number 5. I’ll recognize the minister to lead off the debate.
Hon. Graydon Smith: Some of you were here the other day when I was telling a tale, the tale of my life and how I got here. There were twists and turns and tumbles, and it was quite a story. Then I learned the hard truth, as I was telling the tale, about procedure here in the House and how sometimes debate on a bill comes to an end rather abruptly.
But I’m back, Speaker, to talk a little bit more today and finish off just the last few remarks of my speech. I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to do so, because as it came to a conclusion the other day, I was talking about the flood that we’d had in the community of Bracebridge in 2019, when—I was obviously very fortunate to be the mayor of that community for many years. But I really wanted to talk about how the people in that community performed during such a difficult time, and how they are so representative of the people throughout our riding.
I was saying that we got a lot of good things done during our council times through the term, but then we got to 2019, and very quickly we had some changes with some unfortunate weather late in the season, and saw a flood that was quite devastating for a lot of people. In Bracebridge—it’s a unique community—there’s quite a bit of elevation to it, but also a lot of it, obviously, was built near water. So in portions of the community, things were absolutely fine—you could drive around and it was a regular day—but in portions of the community, things were very far from fine. We have an urbanized area and a lot of rural area in the Bracebridge community. A lot of properties were cut off, and a lot of people were at risk for their personal safety and the safety of their property.
It was amazing, Speaker, because so many people came together. The people who maybe didn’t have so much on the line and lived in parts of the community where everything was fine immediately dropped everything to help those in our community where things were very much not fine. It was an incredibly touching and moving experience, as the leader of a community, to see people come together like that. But this was a persistent event. It had rained after the initial rains that caused the flooding, and it snowed. People were working incredibly hard over what was a weekend—where they had the opportunity to be away from their jobs or their loved ones, to pitch in and lend a hand, but the workweek was coming, and frankly, people were burning out. There’s only so much that a group of volunteers can do, but they refused to quit, and we got some help for them from the military. I want to thank them again for the amazing job that they did.
It was easy to get down when the weather continued to be tough and make this event drag on longer than everyone hoped it would, but you would have these moments of spectacular human kindness from people who wanted to help, from people who wanted to volunteer—and not just from our community, but from other communities. Just when you were at your lowest and feeling like our community was in a perilous place, and people were getting burnt-out and tired, my phone would ring and it would be someone from Peterborough, or it would be someone from Orillia or somebody from Hamilton with a simple question: “How can I help? I’ve got a shovel. I want to sandbag. I want to help. What time do you want me there?”
Boy, it picks you up when you see that kind of good in people, and you know that there are folks out there for whom just simply sitting at home watching the news was enough of a call to action for them to say, “How can I help?” I find those words some of the most powerful words that one individual can speak to another.
As I wrap up my remarks, I just want to say that those folks, the folks in my community who asked that question, “How can I help?”, are the inspiration for me wanting to do this job, the inspiration for me wanting to represent people every day, represent everyone every day—but they’re particularly inspiring. I’ve always found that without volunteers, obviously, our communities would cease to function. We make incredibly important decisions here; I did so in my previous municipal history, but it does not compare, in many ways, to the volume of acts of kindness that happen every day amongst individuals to keep communities whole and really make them what they are.
So I salute everybody who asks another individual or group, “How can I help?” I salute those who volunteer their time to groups to make communities better, organizations better, our society better. It’s what makes Ontario an amazing place. It’s what makes Canada an amazing place.
I’ll conclude my remarks at that today, Mr. Speaker, but I do appreciate the opportunity to celebrate volunteerism, to thank everybody who does take that time to help one another, and to encourage people to take those opportunities, every time they have them, to do so.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further debate?
Mr. John Jordan: I consider it both an honour and a privilege to be standing here today representing the people of Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston as their member of provincial Parliament. The encouragement and support I have received through both the nomination and election process has been second to none, and I’m very appreciative.
This inaugural speech allows me the opportunity to introduce myself, to thank my constituents, volunteers and family for their support, and to describe as best I can what has driven me to the decision to enter the world of politics.
First and foremost, I want to thank my wife, Brenda-Leah, for her ongoing support. Not only did she encourage me to run, but she went to work. A retired teacher and principal, she took charge of coordinating the volunteers, and I thought, “Oh, no, the principal is back.” She even had these crazy T-shirts made up with my picture on them during the nomination. It embarrassed my son—a collector’s item, I’m sure.
My mother-in-law, Amanda, at age 86, was a real trooper in the campaign office, along with friends and family and association members.
I want to give a special shout-out to our friends Debbie and Terry Shay, whose enthusiasm and “have fun” attitude was contagious.
I want to mention my sister Anne Marie, who drove from Greely almost every day.
My campaign manager, Shawn Morrison, who some of you know, stuck with me from the beginning, and is still sharing his experience and advice as I bring on new staff and get settled in.
My nephew Chris McGuire has been taking on the financial part of the process.
My wife, Brenda-Leah, and I have raised three children in the Smiths Falls area. Justen, who is now 28, runs his own successful and expanding construction company and has had to pick up all the heavy lifting at our farm where we raise black Angus beef—one of the hardest-working people I know. Thomas is 26 and is a computer engineer graduate, and he works for the federal government. His IT help during the campaign was never-ending. No matter what time we called, he could always solve our IT problems. Amanda, his twin sister, is a singer-songwriter and actress in Nashville, and she never ceases to amaze us. Last Friday morning, I got home and gathered up the mail at the mailbox, and in the local paper there was a beautiful picture of Amanda announcing her new single release called Somebody’s Maybe. She writes songs about love and female empowerment, and we could not be more proud of her. I’d like to mention that you may have seen her performing on The Bachelor last January. All three children supported me with their own special set of skills during the campaign, and we’re very proud of all three of our children.
Full disclosure: I never had political career aspirations. My father would say, “Why don’t you throw your hat in the ring?” And I would say, “No, thanks.” But life is a journey, and that journey has led me here. The time just felt right.
My education played a big part in this decision, but I’m not talking about my formal education in economics and business; I’m referring to my real education, life’s education—primarily my time working in the community health centre model of care at the North Lanark Community Health Centre, now called ConnectWell Community Health.
My previous position as CEO of ConnectWell Community Health was a position I enjoyed, and it gave me great satisfaction over the years. I learned the value of interdisciplinary care—physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, respiratory therapists and many other allied health professionals working together. Health promotion and illness prevention programs and services are a big part of the CHC model. I learned the value of collaboration, working with partner organizations and different levels of government.
With the spirit of collaboration and co-operation, the North Lanark CHC grew from a staff of under 20 to a staff of over 240 employees, with services stretching from the Ottawa River in Renfrew county to the St. Lawrence River in Leeds and Grenville.
I am proud of ConnectWell’s accomplishments and the dedicated people who work there.
That experience also makes me very optimistic for Ontario Health. I served on the collaborative council for the Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Ontario Health Team, and I believe that this model of greater collaboration will result in many system improvements and better health outcomes, and a better experience for our patients and health care providers. Our nurses need this. We all need this.
Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston is very rural. Rural people have extra challenges because of the very nature of being rural. Their work is also very important to us for our food production, lumber supply, and others. “Resilient” and “independent” are two words that I use to describe people from rural Ontario. They deserve our respect and attention in terms of providing services to them. Health equity is an important element of how we develop and invest in our health care system.
I want to tell you a story. One day I was in the health centre reception area. There were a couple of very senior ladies there, who were sisters. I got talking to them. I knew them well; they were regular clients at the health centre. I walked them out to their car. As I was closing the door, I said, “It’s great that you’re still driving and getting out to where you need to go.” One of the sisters smiled at me. She said, “Yes, dear. But, you know, my licence is just good for Lanark.” Resiliency, independence—they got themselves where they needed to go.
Another thing you will hear in Lanark and Frontenac Highlands is the saying, “It takes a tank to get a tank.” I heard this a lot when the gas station at McDonald’s Corners closed. I’ve also heard, recently, appreciation for the elimination of the licence sticker fees and for the gas tax reduction. In rural areas, there are no transportation options. Transportation always comes at the top of the list in community-needs surveys or focus groups.
Broadband is another rural challenge. Connectivity is so important, and I’m happy to report that new investments are making a difference, but we still have more work to do. We are making progress and getting it done.
Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston is a beautiful area, made up of a lot of small towns and villages, hundreds of lakes, and a diverse topography, from rolling farmland to forests to the Canadian Shield.
Throughout Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston, you will find the spirit of communities coming together to celebrate arts, craftsmanship, agriculture and the good food that grows from the fruits of our labour. From the inspiring and boundless imagination unfolding every year at the incredible, world-renowned Puppets Up! festival to the historic agricultural fairs in Maberly and Perth, and the Highland games in Almonte, as a few examples of excellence in our heritage—and welcoming every age to make memories steeped in history and tradition.
In Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston, we have a strong connection to our railways and waterways and the courageous and talented people who forged a path to the future—creating the unparalleled Rideau Canal lock system, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and leaving behind a legacy still celebrated at the site of the eastern Ontario railway museum in Smiths Falls, where youngsters can tuck in with history on an overnight stay in a caboose, and the midsummer CabooseFest held every year in Sharbot Lake.
There are also many recreational opportunities—trails, skiing.
I’ve enjoyed the Rideau Canal my entire life and have taken many trips by boat from Ottawa to Kingston, or a side trip up the Tay River to historic Perth, with its many shops and restaurants.
So if you are planning on attending the International Plowing Match on September 20 to September 24, you may want to travel through Lanark and Frontenac counties and take in some of the sights.
There are many local heroes from my riding.
I need to mention Brooke Henderson. Brooke was born and raised in Smiths Falls and made the Smiths Falls golf course her second home. She has won more major golf tournaments than any other Canadian, including two LPGA events. Along with her sister Brittany, they are real ambassadors for Smiths Falls.
Bailey Andison is another Smiths Falls native, bringing home medals for swimming from the Pan American Games.
There are many others, and as we go back in history, they include R. Tait McKenzie, who was born in Ramsay township and who was known for his contributions to education and the arts.
James Naismith, born in Almonte, invented the great game of basketball.
A local hero, through COVID, was Dr. Paula Stewart, the medical officer of health for the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. Paula provided great leadership, working with the Ontario Health team and bringing all of the health service providers together, achieving the highest vaccination rates in Ontario.
I would also like to mention that the true value of our community paramedics was realized as they provided many vaccination clinics, including mobile and pop-up. They also visited long-term-care homes and residential homes to vaccinate people who could not get out. Like so many health care professionals, they worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
I want to recognize all of you, as members of provincial Parliament. Over the past few months, I have a new appreciation for the work, commitment and responsibility that we’ve all taken on, and that members before us took on.
I would like to acknowledge Doug Wiseman, who served as MPP of our riding from 1971 to 1990. Mr. Wiseman was a friend of my father, Leo Jordan, and he encouraged Dad to enter into politics after 39 years with Ontario Hydro. In my father’s inaugural speech, he said, “I want to say that I am not only proud to represent the riding of Lanark–Renfrew but to follow in the footsteps of the calibre of previous MPPs like Doug Wiseman.” Dad went on to describe the basic principles to which he would serve, including honesty, integrity and accountability. I plan to uphold the same high standards as my father. He also had lots of advice for hydro, but I’ll leave that discussion for our Minister of Energy.
I also wish to acknowledge and thank Senator Bob Runciman, who represented the ridings of Leeds and Leeds–Grenville for 29 years and was then appointed to the Senate of Canada from 2010 to 2017. It was certainly an honour for me to have Senator Runciman attend and speak at the opening of my campaign office. His advice to me: “Make your constituents proud.”
There are many positive and sustainable changes coming to the province. Building our economy, infrastructure and housing are just a few.
My passion is health care, and I consider myself fortunate to be able to work as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Long-Term Care. This is my opportunity to learn and contribute to improving the experience of our long-term-care residents and their families, making sure that those who need long-term care get long-term care, that those who need home and community care get home and community care, and that people working in health care are in a positive work environment and that it is a career they can enjoy and prosper in.
I thank all of my constituents for honouring me with this opportunity, and I look forward to working collaboratively with all members of this 43rd provincial Parliament.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate? I recognize the member for Beaches–East York.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: Madam Speaker, what a beautiful sight to see: a woman in that chair.
I rise today and am honoured to give my inaugural speech in this revered and historic chamber amongst individuals past and present who have contributed to the democracy of our province.
Je suis tellement fière d’être ici parmi les personnes d’hier et d’aujourd’hui qui ont contribué à la démocratie de notre province.
I acknowledge that the land where I live and work is the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit.
I would like to begin with a colossal thank you to Beaches–East York residents for putting their faith in me on June 2, 2022. I am grateful and humbled, in these increasingly divisive and challenging times, where many are skeptical of both politics and politicians. I am absolutely determined to make a difference in the Ontario Legislature, and I will proudly address the issues that matter, day in and day out.
If you have never been to my neck of the woods, I would be more than happy to provide a guided, scenic tour one day. Part of my riding is like a seaside resort: The Beach or Beaches, depending on who you speak to, is a stunning, serene, urban sanctuary with clean, safe, swimmable beaches connected by a long, meandering boardwalk—with dogs matching the number of people. Summer months are filled with countless outdoor festivals—notably, the world-renowned Beaches Jazz Festival—parades and fireworks. Winter Stations attracts people to the area in the colder months and celebrates the dark days of the season with colourful, creative, interactive art installations.
Other lively areas of Beaches–East York include quaint and connected Kingston Road Village—where small businesses are the backbone of the neighbourhood.
Gerrard Street is akin to a grand boulevard, with the streetcar running down the middle of the tree-lined streets, and patios with twinkling lights.
The Danny, also known as the Danforth, is always hopping, especially now, with the ActiveTO cafes, bike lanes and road murals. Europe should be jealous.
Noon and night, Banglatown is alive with bustling pedestrians, shopkeepers, families, laughter, conversations and excitement. The area continues to grow and is truly the commercial, social and cultural hub for the Bengali community.
From the best cinnamon buns in the world at Courage Foods to the falafel sandwiches at Bodega Henriette; from the chai tea at Gharoa Restaurant to the delicious Ethiopian fare at Hirut, served with a backdrop of jazz; and add to that the intoxicating smells, since 1949, coming from Mondelēz, formerly a Peek Frean factory, we have it all.
Madam Speaker, I may be painting a picturesque version of my home riding, but we in Beaches–East York experience the very same issues seen province-wide: an affordability crisis, lack of housing, a hospital—our pride and joy, Michael Garron—that suffers the same shortages and worker fatigue seen in every facility, schools that beg for revitalization, and neighbours who are looking for answers. One of the main reasons I ran to become an MPP is to contribute to solutions. Change brings opportunity.
There is no “I” in “team”—and wow, did I have a terrific campaign team. They never stopped pounding the pavement, rapping the doors and making the calls, and all the while having fun.
Our campaign manager, marvellous Marietta Fox, thought about our campaign with every breath she took. There is nothing Marietta cannot do—write speeches, design graphics, connect with constituents, style campaign offices. In fact, some people asked if our office was a new art gallery. I’m stopping there because I do not want you to steal her for your next election.
Our co-campaign manager, talented Tanveer Shahnawaz, is a bundle of energy in the east end. This smiley guy has an uncanny way of connecting with everyone he meets and is an integral and admired leader in the Bangladeshi community and throughout Beaches–East York. Again, he is not available for you in 2026.
Our coordinator extraordinaire, effervescent Ellen Pisani, is a master juggler, with such key skills as volunteer recruitment, newsletter creation, and database coordination. She has steadfastly stood by me for the long haul since our lively days at Toronto city hall and has never stopped caring for our community. Ellen is also off limits and is already booked for 2026.
My think tank—you know who you are, behind the scenes—was guiding us with sage advice and strong support. They were an absolute asset and gift.
Also, I’m very appreciative of the encouragement from the leaders of both other levels of government in my riding. Our PLA president, Tom McGee, and his right arm, CFO Josh Makuch, were rock-solid in their support, as were our incredible donors.
One of the most exciting elements of our campaign was the amount of youth helping us. Working with them was like a surge of energy.
I want to thank all of my vivacious volunteers. Seeing them show up on cold wintry days in their Team #TripleM toques to knock on doors with their frozen mitts warmed my heart. These super humans added so much value and camaraderie that we were all sad after each canvassing shift ended. Our campaign was filled with carousing, chaos and conviviality.
It was actually the gregarious member for Guelph who first planted the real seed for my foray back into politics, so he is truly to blame for me being here. Growing up in a small town with parents who dragged my three brothers and I out volunteering every chance they could taught me a lot. I saw first-hand the huge benefits of giving back to your community. The more we give, the happier we feel, and that realization followed me my whole life.
When my kids were small, I was rallying neighbours and reinvigorating neighbourhoods. I actually chose to raise my family in Beaches–East York because it reminded me of the small town I grew up in.
After much volunteering, community-building and environmental activism, I ran for Toronto city council in 2010 and won because people were ready for change. I served eight years, as I strongly believe in term limits.
At city hall, I worked across party lines to get things done. I don’t care where the good ideas come from as long as they just come. I worked with many people in this chamber, including the Premier, and I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with everyone here to build a better and dramatically more sustainable Ontario.
I have been referred to as the “accidental politician” on many occasions. My father was mayor of Collingwood when I was growing up—a pretty embarrassing thing when you’re a teenager, to say the least. At that point, I vowed I would never go into politics. Was I ever wrong, thinking politics was boring.
I am proud of my track record at city hall of spearheading the laneway suites game-changing planning policy that helps deal with our housing crisis by allowing people to age in place and add to our rental stock.
TransformTO, the city’s first climate adaptation and mitigation plan was a crusade of mine. I worked hard to get a unanimous vote—a rare feat at council.
This time around, when my family found out I was jumping back into politics, they knew what we were in for. We all know how taxing and tough this wild world can be for our loved ones.
In 2010, when my son, Liam, found out my “McMahon-Can” election signs were going up at homes near his new school, he was mortified. Liam has certainly changed his tune. Recently graduating with a political science degree from McGill University, he’s a strong supporter of my crusades, and he was instrumental in securing votes at the door with his incredible wit, charisma and smarts. He helped me prep for debates, and he advised me to stop saying “schmooze,” advice I did not heed.
For eight years, my daughter, Rebecca, who’s right here in the chamber—hello, Rebecca—witnessed first-hand the struggles I went through dealing with controversial development applications. Could Lick’s hamburger spot turning into a six-storey condo have been a contributing factor to her decision to study urban planning at UBC? Maybe.
This election, Becca listened to Beaches–East Yorkers while phone banking and at the door, and brought out friends with no political experience—and they’ll probably write a screenplay about what they heard at the door.
My husband, Jim—in the chamber as well—is my rock. I would not be able to enter public service without him having my back. He is a behind-the-scenes guy who puts wind in my sails on a daily basis. He actually deserves the Order of Ontario.
When I told my father I wanted to run for office, he tried to talk me out of it. Ron Emo was a town councillor and mayor of Collingwood. He, too, believes in term limits and has found endless ways to give back outside town hall even now, at 85. He has received the Order of Collingwood and the Companion of the Order, and he has a road named after him, which he seriously wants to turn into a toll road, as it is en route to the Collingwood Brewery. Collingwood is a much better town because of my dad. “To thine own self be true” and “Keep your feet on the ground” remain his key messaging to me.
I finally have to be nice and thank my three brothers. I realize that after years of teasing and tormenting each other growing up, they are the reason I have the thickest skin anyone could ever have. They also stepped up to help me run, especially for MPP. My eldest brother, Michael—with our identical, upbeat personalities—actually surprised me when he flew in from Vancouver before e-day. He is such a bundle of positivity and exuberance that he should come with a safety warning. Stephen is a community leader in his own right. He’s exceptionally observant, with a keen eye for details and logistics. And my youngest brother, Timothy, was the one my father was grooming for politics. We sometimes call him Socrates, as he as an uncanny ability to strategize, calm the waters and bring forth rational and reasonable advice. When I was little, I did not think I was lucky to have three brothers, but boy, do I feel like I won the lottery now.
The true role model in my life is my mom, Gloria Emo. Quite frankly, she ran Collingwood and basically every organization—Meals on Wheels; hospice; Katano-shi sister-city association, which inspired me to move to Japan years later; and Kinettes, to spotlight some—all while working tirelessly as a nurse and raising four rambunctious children. Her zest for life was explosive. She was part of my 2010 campaign for city hall, where, despite not knowing anyone in Beaches–East York, she managed to discover every Collingwoodian with a connection to my ward, convincing them to vote for me through her incredible charm. Gloey saw us victorious on election night but, tragically, passed away a few months later of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I miss her every day, but her spirit lives on in my children and in me as I try to emulate her belief in public service. My family sponsored the nursing station in Campbell House hospice in Collingwood in her memory, and I will definitely be crusading for more hospices all across Ontario for the next four years, as we all need a peaceful end-of-life journey.
Fast-forward to 2022: As election night drew to a close, I was met with two emotions: a sense of gratitude and elation for the vote of confidence that was placed in me, but concern about the results.
We as Liberals are a small but mighty team ready to take on what is necessary to make change happen in Ontario and serve the needs of our community. We will stand up for better health care, better education, more affordable housing and strong business recovery, all through an inclusive lens to ensure that no one is left behind.
The one reason I jumped back into politics is because of the climate emergency. Around the world, we are seeing the effects of climate change. This is the crisis of our lifetime. We have one chance to get it right. We can all work together to transition to a resilient province. We can build up the green economy by creating thousands of jobs for Ontarians in renewable energy, retrofits, resilient infrastructure, and that will make us truly open for business. It can be done. Ontario is falling behind, and the key to success for a climate future will be action.
There is much climate despair and anxiety, especially amongst our youth. Our kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, families and friends are looking to us for direction. They are looking to us to work together to get things done for the greater good.
Change brings opportunity. Life doesn’t get better by chance; it only gets better by change.
Thank you. Arigato gozaimashita. Merci.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?
Mr. David Smith: First, I would like to thank my two staff who are sitting in the chamber this afternoon: Omar Farhat and Marceau Jovin. They are my LA and EA. You can stand up, if you wish.
Today, Madam Speaker, I’d like to bring my inaugural speech to the floor. It is with pride and humility that I rise today to add my voice to the generation of devoted men and women who also have the occasion to speak for the first time in the great House of the assembly in this, the greatest province in our Confederation.
I must also begin by conveying deep gratitude to the fine people of Scarborough, a wonderful, diverse and dynamic microcosm of Ontario—indeed, of Canada. To you, my constituents who sent me here, I say directly that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Rest assured that I will continue to work hard on your behalf, exactly as I have done over the last 12 years, as the Toronto District School Board trustee for Scarborough Centre.
My friends, I must also tell you that the significance of this moment is not lost on me. I stand before you as the first African Canadian man elected to the Progressive Conservative caucus. What does that mean, Madam Speaker? Perhaps this is an occasion to draw upon the memory of the late Honourable Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, who served as the first Black man in Canada’s Parliament—and as a result of that, he also served as the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. He said, “It is not your duty to be average. It is your duty to set a higher example for others to follow.” Those are powerful words, like a bright lighthouse beacon lighting the path against a murky grey sky. Those words have guided me today, and those words tell you that, alongside my colleagues in this House, I’m ready to work that much harder. It means I clearly understand the important duty and extraordinary responsibility that falls upon me.
For the residents of Scarborough Centre, it means my sleeves are rolled up and I have already hit the ground running for you. I pledge that I will continue to give my very best to all members of Scarborough and residents.
We are 113,104 residents of a 28.12-square-kilometre riding, extending from the 401 in the north to the Eglinton Avenue boundary in the south; from McCowan Road, Lawrence Avenue, Bellamy Road in the east to the Victoria Park Avenue boundary in the west. Over the last 230 years, we have gone from a collection of small, rural villages and farms to becoming a fully urbanized, diverse, cosmopolitan community. Today we are home to many new Canadians who brought not only rich culture but knowledge and expertise in the areas of technology, medicine, skilled trades, and all the other sectors. Our streets feature Caribbean, Chinese, African and South Asian restaurants and shops, as well as businesses representing other ethnic groups. Our differences enrich us and bring us closer together.
Scarborough is also diverse in business as we have hundreds of different companies across many different industries. This includes the food sector, manufacturing, education, skilled trades, entertainment—and the list goes on—which itself includes cultural festivals and creative hubs.
Let there be no doubt that our best outcomes are generated in an economy where skilled individuals are working productively and being fairly compensated in their area of professional expertise.
Madam Speaker, we are all understandably concerned about the current labour shortage across Ontario. COVID and other dynamics have altered the landscape. Today, businesses of all sizes are struggling to find the skilled women and men they need. In Ontario, there are approximately 380,000 jobs that need to be filled right now. I say to you that Scarborough Centre is ready to be part of the solution. We are open for business. We have the people. We are ready to be partners in enhancing skills and expanding capacity to address the workforce shortages.
Madam Speaker, I have heard it said that leadership is not about running away from problems; leadership is about tackling those problems head-on, and that’s what this government is all about. That is why I am proud of the leadership of Premier Ford and the Progressive Conservative government. Yes, one can say that we have grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns. We are doing this by putting workers and their families first, with game-changing investments in education and training.
For example, our flexible Skills Development Fund supports innovative programs that help workers learn the skills that local employers want.
As well, our brand new Better Jobs Ontario program is offering training to whoever wants to train for in-demand jobs in any community across the province. This means better jobs and bigger paycheques.
As a former school board trustee who knows something about the impact of knowledge-based investments, you will understand my optimism about the path we are on.
This is good news for Scarborough Centre, which is on track to benefit from the government’s commitment to provide housing to the tune of 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years. Scarborough Centre residents will also benefit from nearly $1.2 billion in support which is being provided through the social services relief fund. This is one of the biggest investments in supportive housing and homeless supports in Ontario’s history.
I would also like to thank our leader, Premier Doug Ford; Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney; and Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma for following through on the Eglinton streetcar extension, which has made its way through to Kennedy. Less gridlock means greater productivity for everyone.
I would add that initiatives like the Golden Mile project help improve transportation by getting people to work while encouraging economic growth.
Thank you again to the Premier, as well as Health Minister Sylvia Jones, for the government’s $1-billion investment in several projects to improve Scarborough’s health care system. This includes the creation of a 450-bed hospital, with an additional $300 million to renovate the existing Birchmount Hospital infrastructure to double its capacity.
To further support our development and growth, Canada Post is set to move further into the heart of Scarborough. They are relocating a new $470-million state-of-the-art facility and expanding the size of their parcel operation. Yes, this will also create many jobs in Scarborough Centre and all over Scarborough.
Malvern Town Centre is transitioning into condos. Large chains are establishing roots in Scarborough. This includes the new Amazon plant and an IKEA, to support the needs of our growing housing market.
I thank the minister of economic development, industry and commerce, Mr. Vic Fedeli, for all the good work being undertaken and the investments in Scarborough.
Let us not forget festivals like the Taste of Lawrence, Toronto Carnival, and the Junior Carnival Parade, which is the largest children’s festival in the province outside of the Santa Claus Parade.
Madam Speaker, let me share a childhood story. I remember my teacher writing on one of my report cards that one day I would be a brilliant politician for some of the things I did—I don’t want to get into them here. At the time the comment was made, I was only nine years of age—perhaps a bit too talkative, a troublemaker, argumentative. But I knew right from wrong. I guess the University of Toronto’s late luminary scholar, David Easton, put it best when he said that politics is simply about who gets what. My friends, that means my political lifespan went over 30 years. I have experienced proud achievements, but as I peer in my rear-view mirror, I think I have landed in the best place to use my skills and ability.
The moment that opened my eyes was when I witnessed an unsettling, unkind situation from an elected member. I thought it was uncalled for. More importantly, right then and there, I understood clearly how important it was for an elected representative to do his or her best to listen to every constituent. Their thoughts matter. So here I am today with you at the Legislative Assembly of the greatest province in our federation.
Today we are seeking solutions. Together we must always strive to be good listeners.
Fellow members, my time as an elected public school trustee for Scarborough Centre was one of the most significant periods in my public service career. It has been a true privilege to advocate for children and represent the needs of all students and parents in the Toronto District School Board. It was my responsibility to ensure that parents had peace of mind as they dropped off their kids and left them in the care of teachers.
Day in and day out, I was honoured to do my best to provide the best possible outcome for these families. However, in my time as a trustee, I understood then, as I do now, that no system is perfect; I understood that while championing the cause for equitable distribution of resources across the system, not just a preferred postal code. Education is fundamental and without limits. Our children should all have access to the same educational tools.
I want to thank Minister Stephen Lecce and his ministry for removing streaming of students into separate applied and academic pathways. Yes, I am pleased to be part of the government making strides to help students pursue their highest potential.
I also want to thank Minister Monte McNaughton for the tremendous work he and the Ministry of Labour are doing to help build and equip a successful workforce. I have closely followed the good work over the years. I am proud to serve as his parliamentary assistant. I look forward to productive collaboration with other government levels to pursue the best results.
Mr. Speaker, we still have a long way to go. That is why these sleeves are rolled up. I am ready to work with everyone in this chamber for a better Ontario. I am proud to be part of this dynamic Progressive Conservative team.
I call upon all members of this House to come together and support the important initiatives we are putting forward to build a stronger and more inclusive, more successful Ontario.
Yes, we are good people, who strive, day in and day out, to do the best we can for our loved ones, for our community and for those who believe in the values that are important to us.
To my family, campaign staff and volunteers: You have travelled the course with me. Regardless of sleepless nights, personal commitments or other pressing matters, today we put Ontario first.
I would like to thank my long-time staff: Ms. Novelette Mitchell, Mr. Ramesh Munngal, Mr. Badawi, Ken Modeste, Adrian Hill, Omar Farhat, David and Elizabeth Ricci, Obaid Noore, Samid Noore, Miss Kadijha, Miss Ruby, Steve G., Garry the sign man, and many scores of young volunteers—not to mention, before I forget, Kareem South and Lydia. I’d like to thank all of the individuals. Once again, I thank them all wholeheartedly. This, too, is our moment.
Madam Speaker, I’d like to thank you and every one of my colleagues in the House. Each of us knows first-hand that campaigns are no easy undertaking. During my own campaign, unfortunately, I lost my brother Percival. Needless to say, that was tough. But I was in and out of the hospital, and I was able to see first-hand that health care in Ontario is working. I also recognize that there is still work to be done. These are especially difficult times. I empathize with fellow Ontarians who have experienced otherwise. Yes, it was a sad time for me and my loved ones. There were hard days pushing back the emotions. But as I knocked on the doors of Scarborough, they were opened with beautiful, welcoming smiles that brought me a level of comfort. It kept me going. With the strength and support of family, colleagues, campaign staff, volunteers and the Scarborough Centre community, I was able to persevere and complete the task at hand.
Madam Speaker, Premier Ford, parliamentarians, colleagues: Scarborough stood with me. Ontario stood with me. That is why I now stand here for them today.
You did your best. We may not have gotten the result we wanted, but you gave your best. That was good enough.
My overarching goal as a parliamentarian is always to do what I can to deliver a better quality of life for Ontarians. I believe that under the leadership of Premier Ford, we can continue to conquer old hurdles. We have done much already, but we will continue working hard to address gaps and bolster opportunity. We will continue pursuing actions to move young people into successful, satisfying careers. My friends, it is my intention to help develop the road map that generates even more opportunity.
Our Premier has said time and time again, “We will get it done.” That is the drumbeat to which I am marching. I ran for office because I believe in my community. I believe in the people who call Scarborough their home.
The recent election delivered an 83-seat majority. The people of Ontario have spoken. Scarborough Centre has spoken. I should tell you that my riding holds the distinction of having voted for the winner in every election since 1971. That is longer than any other provincial riding.
So we have a strong mandate to get it done. For our Progressive Conservative government, that means to continue putting in place the fundamentals of a strong, vibrant and successful province and economy. That means lower taxes and a competitive business environment that attracts investments and creates good jobs. That means a highly skilled workforce prepared for jobs today and tomorrow. That means roads, highways and other infrastructure that help get goods and services to market sooner. And, of course, that means livable and safe communities with good schools, high-quality hospitals and long-term-care homes, as well as convenient transit options. I am under no illusion that this will be an easy road.
In conclusion, I wish to congratulate the members of the 43rd Legislature present here today, both new and returning. I stand firmly behind the oath I swore as a member of this 43rd Parliament of Ontario. We all have been entrusted by the people of Ontario to represent their interests, to improve their quality of life—simply put, to get it done.
The decisions we make here at Queen’s Park are serious and far-reaching and often difficult. But as I continue to follow that powerful beacon and the example of the late Lincoln Alexander, rest assured there will be positive outcomes for the people of Scarborough and Ontario. It is my hope that it will once again include the visible smiles of people who have good homes, access to education, jobs, world-class medical infrastructure, and thriving communities.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?
Ms. Bobbi Ann Brady: I’m pleased to rise this afternoon and use my time for my maiden speech. As I worked on these remarks, I reflected on how I got here. I highly doubt any child, when asked what they would like to be when they grow up, answers with “a politician.” Well, I didn’t either. For years I answered the adult question with, “I want to be a cowgirl.” That didn’t quite work out well. I didn’t get off the ground. In fact, I never even got on the horse.
I was shy growing up, but was known for doing things a bit unconventionally. At a young age, I discovered that despite being shy, I had opinions, and I enjoyed writing those opinions down. Some of them made it to the letters-to-the-editor section of our local newspaper, the Delhi News-Record. Years later, I’d become a co-op student at that same paper, and just a few years after studying broadcast journalism, I’d return to the News-Record as a full-time reporter and eventually the editor. I’d also spin CDs on weekends at the Tillsonburg radio station, working the graveyard shift and monitoring mass live from a local church on Sunday morning.
My parents taught my brother and me a strong work ethic. They worked hard, though my parents lived paycheque to paycheque. My big brother Michael is four years older than I am, and when he began working in the tobacco fields, I was as green with envy as the leaves he primed, so my parents approached the farmer and told them I wished to work as well. Butch the farmer took one look at the 11-year-old child I was and said, “Well, I give her a week. If she lasts the first week, she will last the harvest.” I did, and I had more money in my bank account by the end of summer than any other 11-year-old I knew.
By 16, I had saved enough money from harvests, working in retail and babysitting to pay for my very first set of wheels, and also the insurance and my gas, a feat I remain proud of still today. I owe a debt of gratitude to Butch and his wife, Mary, for taking a chance on me and further instilling in me a great work ethic.
Harvests on the farm made me strong; my winters playing boys’ hockey made me resilient. I began playing when I was six, and I would skate with the boys until my last year of midget-juvenile, when I was 18. For years, my hair was kept short. I wore navy tracksuits to the arena, and other teams knew me as “Bob.” I dreamed of being the next Wayne Gretzky; today it would be Hayley Wickenheiser.
To this day, I have so many bigger brothers who stood up for me when it wasn’t cool to be a girl playing hockey in the 1980s. I think, at a young age, I learned that there may be more politics in the arena than there is in this chamber. I thank my parents for supporting me in the arena, at a time when it was not commonplace.
Some also find it odd that our entire family drag-raced. Yes, I had a need for speed at a very early age. And instead of taking it to the streets, my parents thought it was best that we go to the drag strip.
All these experiences have served me well over the years. I still kick the puck around every Sunday, but my true passion for the game is watching my 17-year-old son, Carter, play. He’s far more gifted than I could have ever dreamed to be. And my advice to any parent out there who thinks 6 a.m. or 10 p.m. practices are an inconvenience: I’d say that I’m going to miss those days immensely in the very near future.
My oldest, Addison, is 21. She’s academically brilliant and will, in a few years, become one of Ontario’s health care heroes. Addison spent this summer working at the Delhi medical centre, where she was a medical office assistant with the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. As you can tell, I am, first and foremost, a proud mom.
My kids and I know we are blessed to live in Haldimand–Norfolk. Both were able to attend a small rural school. When we go into town, we inevitably run into one of their former teachers—all of whom follow the successes of their past students. We are also very proud of our local heritage and our rich agricultural roots. We have a profound respect for those who take the best care to ensure the very best food makes it to our tables. Haldimand–Norfolk has a warmth about it—not only the scenery of fresh-plowed fields, Carolinian forests, lakes and grand rivers, but its people as well. Haldimand–Norfolk boasts hard-working, principled people who count their blessings and believe in blessings in disguise. Haldimand–Norfolk is also made up of many small towns that brim with pride, and volunteers who ensure we have events every single weekend of the year.
Speaker, I am a Conservative. My 23 years of service was not enough to earn me a nomination nod or the ability to run in a nomination race. That’s okay. I am a Conservative, but I first believe in democracy. I believe there is no monopoly on a good idea. Thankfully, the majority of people in Haldimand–Norfolk also believed this on June 2, and I will spend the next four years fighting for the very best for the good people of my riding. I want to take this opportunity to thank those who put their trust in me on June 2. I was told I’d never do it—that I’d better not do it. But my hockey background and my martial arts background told me to endure, to persevere and to always have integrity.
The last time an independent came to Queen’s Park without first running under a party banner was 1905. My riding of Haldimand–Norfolk made history. On election night, and in every subsequent interview I have done since election day, I have been very clear: The people of Haldimand–Norfolk were courageous. They went to the ballot box and they checked the box that they were told never to check. Why? Because they, too, believe in democracy. They believe in making their own decisions and not having decisions made for them. They believed if they allowed a culture of disrespect, they would not be a victim once, but time and time again. I will represent the people of Haldimand–Norfolk in this chamber in the most genuine way I can. Again, it took courage to vote for an independent candidate. I assure the people of Haldimand–Norfolk I will demonstrate that very same courage in this Legislature and be the strong voice for them. When they tell me to support something from the government side, I will stand in this place and support the government. Likewise, if they tell me to support something on this side of the House, I will stand here and I will do that as well. Similarly, if they tell me to oppose something the government has brought forward, I will be their voice to hold this government to account.
I was fortunate to also have an eager and talented campaign team that went against the grain to get an independent elected. I’d say they are the best campaign team Ontario has. And that gangly brother who forced me to stand in net during countless games of road hockey while he pelted a frozen tennis ball at me became so immersed in my campaign that, on June 3, he was just a bit lost. My brother has always been my very best teammate.
I have received emails and private messages from people right across Canada who told me the great people of Haldimand–Norfolk serve as hope. My goodness, hope is what we need these days—love and hope. I am certain the courage will be contagious, and I certainly hope all members of this House will help set an example by being courageous, by speaking out against disrespect, by speaking up for what is right. I look forward to that.
There have been movers and shakers who have had an impact on my political career over the past 23 years: Bob “Mad Dog” Runciman; Lady Julia Munro who showed me what a lady acts like here at Queen’s Park; John Tory who, when he left the Pink Palace, left me a painting that hangs in my office at home; Brian Patterson, who has shown me kindness for over 20 years and has always shown up in that time of need.
Today, there are new movers and shakers who will teach me new things—my seatmates have already done so, and I am hoping the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek will teach me how to throw a proper spiral on the front lawn some day.
Since arriving here at Queen’s Park, I have been overwhelmed by the welcome I have received from those who make sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, to security, to those at the dining room and in the cafeteria, the front desk, the Speaker. What a fantastic place we get to come to. It really does feels like a second home.
And to all the other members of this House from all stripes who have made a point of coming over, shaking my hand and offering support and encouragement, I say a hardy thank-you. I look forward to working with you over the next four years. I will do my utmost to help you achieve the very best for your riding, and I ask that you help me do the same for Haldimand–Norfolk.
Despite Haldimand–Norfolk being my favourite place, it does have its challenges. I have spoken to so many who are frustrated with Ontario’s home care system. Nurses have told me they feel disrespected and those on ODSP tell me government must stop disincentivizing work. My farmers are worried about input costs continually rising and tell me red tape is hampering their operations.
Sometimes I feel that if government would do more listening, these problems would be fixed more easily. As legislators, I know we will not always have the answer, but it is incumbent on us to find those who do—and may I add, it’s not always those who have deep pockets who have the answers. I would love to see politics done differently.
I had a great mentor—many of you know him, as he spent 27 years in this Legislature: Toby Barrett, “the Duke,” as many affectionately call him. Over my 23 years as his executive assistant, Toby demonstrated what a great MPP looks like.
Toby arrived at Queen’s Park under the Mike Harris Common Sense Revolution with MPPs like Steve Gilchrist, Bill Murdoch, Janet Ecker, Jim Flaherty, Ernie Hardeman, Tim Hudak, Julia Munro and, yes, our very own Speaker of the House. That group brought in in 1995 may well be the last time a government did exactly what they campaigned on. Like it or not, they were true to their word.
As for common sense, it would be great if we could restore that for the good of the people of this province too. Anyway, I’ve digressed.
A few things I learned quickly from Toby: There’s no such thing as government money, and sometimes it’s just best to keep your powder dry.
Probably the greatest lesson came while I was being interviewed for the job in his office. I was asked many questions, but one stood out in particular. I was given a list of buzz words like “hard-working,” “punctual,” “diligent” and I was asked to choose which word was most important as an employee. Within that list was the word “loyal.” That’s what I chose; it was the only correct answer, because when you are loyal, all the other qualities and characteristics fall into place.
I won’t rehash how I came to run as an independent because I think the media have done a fantastic job of detailing that, but I will admit I got to the decision after countless hours of tears, of anger, frustration and sadness. When I told Toby my plan, he did not waver. He may have called me crazy, but he said, “All right. Let’s do this.” Toby was up earlier, up later and I think he knocked on more doors during my campaign than he had in his own.
Toby was not given a proper retirement tribute, but I will continue to thank this fine gentleman every opportunity I have, a gentleman who understands the true meaning of loyalty.
Winston Churchill once said, “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
Toby Barrett, I can assure you, is unique. He’s always moved forward with careful thought and thoughtfulness. He’s always taken the high road and, in my view, his entire career has been a smashing success. He’s always been prepared, has always been a friend and a wonderful mentor.
The constituents of Haldimand-Norfolk and I wish the Duke a long and happy retirement. I would be remiss if I did not wish Toby’s wife, Cari, all the best as well, as she will now have the Duke underfoot at home. She’s a beautiful, strong woman, and all joking aside, I’m sure she’s happy to have Toby home to watch television with or just simply jump in the car and go for a drive.
Speaker, I thank you for my time today. I know I am well positioned to represent the people of Haldimand–Norfolk because I learned from the very best.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?
I recognize the member for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Hon. Neil Lumsden: Thank you, Speaker. I’d be more than happy, if the member wants to spin a little leather outside, to teach her how to throw a spiral, which I think would come very naturally based on her athletic background.
Before I get going, I’d like to recognize the ministry staff who have shown up to put more pressure on me today, which I really appreciate—a couple are down here. Of course, my constituency staff, the true leaders: Halston Morgan, Tony Lemmy—
Hon. Neil Lumsden: Lemma—Tony Lemma. I’ve got to get to the office more often, clearly. And I promised my wife, Donna, that I would not introduce her because she likes to work in the background, so I will not introduce my wife, Donna.
Hon. Neil Lumsden: Speaker, they clap now, but I’ll pay later.
1 am honoured to rise today in this historic building as a newly elected member of the 43rd Ontario Legislature. With immense pride, I represent the electoral district of Hamilton East–Stoney Creek in Ontario.
On June 2, the constituents of Hamilton East–Stoney Creek chose to send me to represent them here at Queen’s Park. I have pledged to them that I will, to the very best of all my abilities, work hard and represent them honestly. I am proud to be joining Premier Ford’s team as one of the 83 Progressive Conservative members. This team, under Premier Ford, will continue to represent all Ontarians and will ensure that we will once again make Ontario the best province in Canada to live, prosper and be proud to call home.
I will mention “team” in my speech a few times as I’ve been lucky enough, timing-wise, to be a member, throughout my career, of a lot of championship groups and teams, at all levels, as a player, coach and in business, and now as part of this historic team. It’s always great to be part of history.
Speaker, I want to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the constituents of Hamilton East–Stoney Creek for selecting me to be their voice for the next four years here at Queen’s Park.
Hamilton East–Stoney Creek is a fairly new riding, created in 2007, and I’m happy to suggest that we have changed the flow, if you will, in my riding to more blue now than another colour. Part of that is changing history and the way people think. If I can reference history, the Battle of Stoney Creek, still enacted at Battlefield Park in Stoney Creek, was a turning point in the War of 1812 and prevented Upper Canada from being overrun by the Americans.
Local hero Billy Green, the namesake of Billy Green Elementary School, warned the British forces of an invading US army of about 3,000 troops moving forward; 700 British troops, on their own, launched a surprise attack at night and defeated them. Sounds like the character of the people who live in my riding.
Hon. Neil Lumsden: A little quick, aren’t I?
Hon. Neil Lumsden: It’s different than a teleprompter, isn’t it?
Our riding is composed of vibrant communities with rich character and unique identities, whether it’s residents who live in the neighbourhoods of Parkview, Riverdale, Red Hill, or former townships that still retain their identity, like Winona and Fruitland, we are united by strength of character and accomplishment.
Lincoln Alexander’s name was brought up a little bit earlier by the member across the aisle, and rightfully so. Lincoln Alexander, a McMaster grad, was a groundbreaking Hamiltonian and instrumental in Ontario’s history. I won’t go into the specifics that have already been covered off, and I won’t pretend that I knew Lincoln well, but I knew him well enough to spend time with him and learn to understand what he was about and who he represented. For decades he was a hero in Hamilton and thought of as one of the true champions, not only in Hamilton, but in Canada. Without question, he was revered—and a man who took the time to write personal notes to people and do things a little bit old school. Lincoln Alexander, along with my father, exemplified the statement that I’m going to read to you, and it’s really quick: “Civility is not a sign of weakness.”
In 2004, my son Jesse was awarded the Lincoln Alexander Community Award for service. We had lunch with him. My son understood before he even got to the lunch the impact that Lincoln would have on him, and after talking to him just the other day, he still remembers the lunch, remembers where we had it, and what we had in the conversation. Some people just make an impact and it lasts forever.
From waterfalls to industry leaders, Hamilton has it all. For decades, Hamilton has been known as a steel city. With our government investing $500 million, we are ensuring industry, as we always have been, with leaders like Dofasco, can continue to bring jobs and economic opportunity to our community while becoming world leaders in producing green steel. People in Hamilton work hard and play hard.
I have to talk about the Winona Peach Festival, which I attended this past weekend. The crowds were unbelievable; the organization was tremendous. If I served one sundae to the people, I must have served 2,000 peach sundaes. Not one complaint, they were happy to be back, and they were happy we were there to support such a huge part of our community. We will continue to after a two-year absence.
Of course, anyone who knows me knows a little bit of my background as it relates to football. What echoes in the halls of many buildings around Hamilton and area, as some will know, is the “Oskie wee wee” chant. Do you dare?
Hon. Neil Lumsden: You know it, don’t you?
Hon. Neil Lumsden: Sure, put me on the spot: “Oskie wee wee.”
Miss Monique Taylor: “Oskie waa waa.”
Hon. Neil Lumsden: “Holy Mackinaw, Tigers, eat ’em raw!”
I put you on the spot; it’s okay.
I have to let everyone know on this coming Monday, the Labour Day Classic against the Argos will be played once again. I’ve been involved as a general manager and COO and as a player. It will be quite an event, and I will be there.
As I said, Hamilton has it all. From the agriculture sector, history, beautiful landscapes to an economic powerhouse, it’s a great place to live and it’s a great place to be on an ongoing basis.
I wouldn’t be standing here today without the support of—and I will reference them as “my team” when it came to the campaign. First, I would like to thank my campaign manager Blair Hains, who took me in, the rookie, and helped provide leadership and direction. I was surprised I got along with him so well, given that, on his off time, he’s an umpire in baseball. You know, umpires and officials—you’ve got to wonder.
From the time our campaign officially opened the doors, Blair kept things going, kept us going, and other than the ongoing reminding me what the polls might be saying and me reminding him, “I don’t care about polls. I care about June 2. Don’t talk to me about that. Let us run. We’re dogs. Let us go run”—he just stopped talking to me about polls, and it was great. He did a fantastic job. I owe him a real debt, because he was tremendous—and his family, by the way.
I’d also like to thank a long-time friend Jay Davison. I spent many hours with him on the phone. He’s a great confidant. He’s been involved in the party in many ways. He would actually drive down from Windsor three or four times and be part of my campaigning team going out with me. He was a little slow on the walking part of things, but he did a great job and really exemplified what a friend is all about.
I have got a few more thank yous. I’ll start with Scott Boumeester, chair of fundraising; Ken Audziss, the riding association president—he was tremendous; MP Dan Muys and his team; MPP Sam Oosterhoff and his team; Minister Monte McNaughton and the team he came down with; my core supporters, Gabe DeSantis, Jeff Paikin and Sergio Manchia.
And I have to mention a long-time friend, confidant, golfing partner. I know him as Eagle: Ron Foxcroft, and his sons, Steve, Dave and Ronnie. They were huge supporters. They were there whenever I needed them, no matter what, like all people who have been around this campaign have been to me. It’s been incredible.
Ministers Mulroney and Clark showed up at a fundraiser and helped us hit it out of the park. I mean, honestly, I couldn’t believe the support that we had and what we were able to accomplish as a result of that support.
My canvassers: Sarmad, some gal named Donna, Sara, Langdon, Gord, Brent, Peter, Beth, Barry, Scott, Patrick, Jenn—we were close to over—well, I think we were over 1,000 kilometres in total of what our team covered in walking and canvassing—incredible. The commitment that was made was incredible.
Thank you to my sign team. They were ready to go. They would show up and say, “Got more signs for us?” Jim, Todd, Dennis and William—hundreds and hundreds of signs went out thanks to them.
People on the phone: Marie, Mark and Dirk; and on election day, the drivers: Richard and Gary—simply put, we worked smarter, harder and longer than our competition, and as a result, we planted our flag firmly in the ground of Hamilton East–Stoney Creek.
This is when it gets hard for me, and maybe it will speed me up if I watch the clock. My wife, Donna, who has been a partner, has been through so much with me in our life experiences, professionally, personally. We have two fabulous kids I’ll touch on later. She looked at me when I made the decision and said, “Are you sure?” I said yes, and she said, “Let’s go.” I’m a real lucky guy and even luckier to have two wonderful kids: my son, Jesse, and daughter, Kristin. I’ll touch on them both a little bit later, in a couple of quick anecdotes.
When people think of the name Lumsden, often they think of—well, there’s a town of Lumsden in Scotland that some know of, but more, they automatically think of football, with a little bit of my career and my son’s career. But my family’s history in Hamilton goes back to 1875, when my great-grandfather and his two sons opened Lumsden Brothers wholesale food distributors in Hamilton. The company flourished over generations in Hamilton, relocating as the company grew. It started with deliveries by horse and buggy, believe or not, and then in the 1970s grew to expand to 42,000 square feet of warehouse. My dad was the president. At the same time he was president of the Gerling Global Life Insurance Co., and his brother Bill was the COO. They were involved with the company up until the late 1970s.
My mom, Trudy—Gertrude, but no one ever called her that—met my dad when he was down at Marquette University on a track scholarship back in the day, so I guess running comes naturally to us.
My sister, Martha Christine, was a pistol. She would push the limits. She was smart, and she probably had the same aggressive nature that I did. I wasn’t sure where it came from; my dad, not so much, but I think Mom had a lot to do with that for us, and it was all good—and her two sons, Jeff and Greg, and their families.
Lessons learned from the word “win,” or the letters W-I-N: The one thing that I learned early in my pro career, in about year 3 when I went to Edmonton, was to understand what sudden change or change was all about, and how to prepare for it. It may sound silly, but we would—and they still do, professional athletes, certainly in team sport—watch hundreds and hundreds of hours of video. But did we know how to watch them correctly? I didn’t, until I got to Edmonton.
Hugh Campbell was our leader and head coach. Joe Faragalli was our offensive coordinator. They taught us what to look for, how to predict. When things change in a split second in football, you have to be prepared, and it doesn’t just change one way. It has multiple opportunities in front of you, and if you haven’t studied, if you haven’t prepared, you don’t know how to deal with change.
Then I step back in my career in sport into a high school, Northern Secondary School in Toronto, in grade 10, playing football, playing hockey, running track and doing all the things. Our head coach was Clarke Pulford, and for anyone who has the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs, his younger brother was Bob Pulford, who had a great career with the Leafs back in the day when the Leafs won Stanley Cups.
One day I decided—a buddy said, “Hey, let’s skip practice and go do something.” I can’t remember what we did, but we skipped practice. We showed up the next day, and Coach Pulford grabbed me as I was leaving the locker room to go to practice and said, “Can I talk with you?” I said, “Yes, sir.” He said, “I don’t know why you missed practice yesterday, but you let them down. You didn’t let me down; you let your players down.” It wasn’t about my role on the team. It was about the team environment, the team chemistry and what “team” really means, and how you have to be able to look to your left and to your right and know they have the best interests of your success in mind when you play the game and when you practise. I had tears in my eyes. He didn’t raise his voice. He didn’t touch me. He just said, “I hope you learned your lesson”—and a lesson did I ever learn.
Six years later, at the University of Ottawa, we’re playing the University of Toronto at Varsity Stadium. That was the year we won a national championship, in 1975. We were a pretty good team. We were handing it to the Blues, and the game was over, and a woman came over and said, “Clarke would like to see you—Clarke Pulford.” I said, “Absolutely.” So I went over to the stands, along with a very good friend of mine, Terry West, who went to Northern with me. He said, “Great game. Congratulations. I love coming to the game when my boys are playing.”
What I didn’t know at the time is that as a result of diabetes, he had lost most of his sight, and a year later was going to lose half of his lower leg. When I walked away, I was talking to his wife, and I said, “How does he do it?” She said, “Oh, it’s simple. He hears the crowd, and I tell him, play by play, what’s going on. You’re his boys. He wants to know what’s going on. He supports you. He’s with you no matter what.” Now, think about that: a coach who was that invested in myself and Terry—and other guys, maybe, at the University of Toronto—to show up at games when he can’t even see the plays. Later on in life, not that long ago, that kind of commitment resonated with me to a good friend of mine.
I’ve had some great experiences, and I won’t bore you with all of them.
One of them, most recently—within the last maybe eight or nine years—was when I got a phone call to say, “Would you like to be part of Team Canada?” I said, “What’s Team Canada? Hockey? I got recruited? Finally. I’m going to be in the big time.” They said, “No, no, you knucklehead.” Arlene Dickinson, myself, Brian Burke and some other retired hockey players had been asked to go over and spend Thanksgiving with our troops. I said, “I’m in. I’m absolutely in.”
So we met in Ottawa. They got us to Ottawa. We flew to Ireland first, where the navy was going through their manoeuvres. We had Thanksgiving dinner with them on the ship, and it was fantastic. If you’re over 5 foot 5, you’re in big trouble on one of those battleships, because you’re walking around bent all the time. The bunks aren’t much larger; I don’t know how they do it. But these young people are smart, tough, resilient and committed.
Off in a plane we go to Kuwait, into the USA camp, where Camp Canada was. There we found a very energetic group of servicepeople who just couldn’t wait to play ball hockey with us. They had a ball hockey rink made with a roof on it, and it was only 42 degrees out—Celsius. That’s hot, and the sand is blowing.
Hon. Neil Lumsden: You’re nodding, but I don’t think you get it. It’s really hot.
We played an hour-and-a-half game. There was almost a fight, because Tiger Williams was there, and it was all sorts of fun. We had dinner with them. Then the next night we had another dinner with the air force. We flew back and then got briefed by our liaison, and found out what was really going on over there.
I was so impressed by the people, especially—a very quick anecdote—a young woman who had been in the service for a while. They had laid their kits down for us, what they wear when they go out on manoeuvres, and she was telling me what it was all about. I looked at her and I said, “How heavy is this?” She said, “Well, it can be between 85 and 110 pounds.” I said, “You wear that all at once?” She said, “Oh, yes. That’s just what we do.”
“That’s what we do.” Think about that. When you pay attention and try to put yourself in the position of somebody else who is basically respecting our flag and protecting us, even if it’s off our soil—“That’s what we do.” The commitment is staggering. I felt so proud and so thrilled to spend time with them, and I would do it every year if I had the opportunity. Their commitment and smarts—I’ll tell you, we don’t know how lucky we are.
Two other very quick stories, because I’m already over—I apologize, Speaker. One is about my son. Jesse went to McMaster. He’s a world-class athlete—and that’s not me saying it; he proved that, a football player and pro for seven years. He called me up one day and said, “Dad, Bobsleigh Canada called me and asked if I’d like to maybe work out and try out. What do you think?” I said, “Oh, you’re perfect for it. You are the perfect makeup and body for it. Do it.”
So he ended up, just a few months later, in the Olympics in Vancouver, pushing for Pierre Lueders, one of the most decorated pilots in two- and four-man bobsleigh in the world. When I asked him, the first time he went down, I said, “What was it like?” He said, “Dad, it’s like putting a helmet on, getting stuffed in an aluminum garbage can and thrown down a hill going 145 clicks an hour. That’s what it was like.” After, he said, “Let’s go do it again,” so we know what his DNA is like.
And then my daughter, Kristin: smart, an athlete in high school, loved to compete, didn’t follow sport but followed business. She’s very successful. I had a chance to be her teammate on The Amazing Race Canada. Do you really want to find out how you get along with someone? Spend 24 hours a day, every day of the week for the first four and a half weeks, when you’re sequestered at night and you’re competing with your daughter. There was nothing—or very few things—in life that I can tell you I enjoyed more than competing with my daughter, other than wanting to make sure I didn’t let her down. We had so much fun. It was hard, but it was fun. I really got a sense and an understanding of what I saw in my son for all those years. The same drive and character to compete was in my daughter. It was just different, and I had to find out about it. But you find out when you pay attention ...
I’m going to end with bringing you back to when I said “WIN”—the W-I-N. It’s not the word; it’s an acronym. W-I-N: What I Noticed. And if you go through life and pay attention to what other people are doing, and really pay attention and listen to them and respect their opinions and respect who they are, not only are you complimenting them, but you’re doing them a service by allowing them to speak and get what’s on their mind out. And you also learn about somebody.
We could all do a little bit more of W-I-N-ing in our life because everyone deserves that respect.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?
Mr. Matthew Rae: It’s an honour to rise in this place. I believe I’m one of the few members left, and it’s great to save, in my opinion, the best member for last. But it’s an honour to rise here today.
I want to begin by congratulating Speaker Arnott on his recent election to the position—a historic position in our parliamentary tradition. I also want to thank the member for Mississauga–Streetsville for also standing for Speaker of the House. It takes courage to put one’s name forward, and even more courage to put one’s name forward in front of a bunch of politicians. I would like to thank my predecessor, Randy Pettapiece. He represented the riding of Perth–Wellington for a little over a decade. He was actually the last member to win three consecutive elections since the late Hugh Edighoffer—a big feat in our riding of Perth–Wellington.
Perth–Wellington is a relatively new riding. Many members have represented both Perth and Wellington county in this House. I also want to recognize the still-living former members John Wilkinson, Bert Johnson and Karen Haslam. All of these people have represented Perth county in this Legislature at some point during my lifetime. Of course, I have the distinct honour of representing the three northern municipalities of Wellington county in this place, as well. I grew up in Harriston, which is in the town of Minto in Wellington county. The member that represented the town of Minto, Wellington North and Mapleton for many years—and, in fact, became my MPP when I was four months old—is the current honourable member for Wellington–Halton Hills. Life has some full circle, it seems, for both of us.
I had the pleasure of working with Randy Pettapiece from 2018 to January 2020. I learned a lot about what it means to be a good representative. I now also know how truly time-consuming it can be. I want to congratulate him on his retirement, and I hope he and Jane are enjoying their time with their grandchildren.
It’s an honour and a pleasure to serve the people of Perth–Wellington in Queen’s Park. I want to thank you for your trust, and for those who did not vote for me, I will continue to work to earn your trust over the next four years. As I said on the evening of June 2, I accept this position not only with excitement, but also with solemn anticipation of the weight of elected office.
Perth–Wellington is home to many vibrant and growing communities, but the land was cared for by many Indigenous peoples before Wellington or Perth county even existed. The Saugeen Ojibway Nation, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and Chippewa people all resided within what is currently Perth and northern Wellington county.
It’s home to the highest number of chicken farmers in all of Canada. We are also home to over 5,026 grain, oil-seed, dairy, pork, beef, poultry and egg farms. If you can grow it, most likely you can grow it in Perth–Wellington. We’re also home to the Butter Tart Trail, and I encourage all members to take part in that. It’s a very delicious trail. We’re also home to many manufacturing companies across the auto sector, and many different trades and logistics companies are important industries in our area. They employ just under one-quarter of the workforce.
It’s also a hub for the arts, boasting the Stratford Festival, Drayton Entertainment and also the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, among many other cultural organizations that generate and contribute millions of dollars to the local economy. It’s also home, obviously, of Justin Bieber, Corey Conners, Lloyd Robertson, and it’s also home to Letterkenny, which is based on Listowel, Ontario.
Perth–Wellington also has the distinct honour of being the home of Canada’s most patriotic village. The Toronto Star ran a front-page headline during World War II that read, “Arthur Village Gives Sons and Money to Aid the War.” One in seven Arthur residents fought in the Second World War. This village is still just over 1,000 people—one in seven. We owe a great debt of gratitude to this generation.
I would be not be standing in this historic place were it not for my volunteers and my campaign team. I want to thank some of them. Specifically, I want to thank Allyson Cardiff, George Geottler—who many on the government side know—Jacob Shuker, Avery Miller, Matthew Steward, Tate Driscoll, Ron Faulkner, Walter Traschel, Dave Turton, Mayor Bridge, Rose Van Sickle, Irene Blight, Tim Sparks, Bob Archer, Bill Andrus, Jim Hutton, Mike Pacheco, Amanda Brodhagen, David Southam, Ralph Robinson, MP John Nater, Justine Nater, and Ainsley, Bennett and Caroline Nater. I could go on, but I will dispense to keep my remarks brief.
Whether it’s putting up signs, knocking on doors and making phone calls or simply being there to provide advice and guidance, I owe a great deal to these people and many others. If it were not for these volunteers and many other people, I would not have the privilege to stand in this place.
I also want to thank my constituency staff—Patti, Jake and Avery—for helping me serve the people and communities of Perth–Wellington. I was in the office on June 3 taking phone calls, and we opened our doors to the public on Monday, June 13. I committed to being ready on day one during the election, and my staff helped me keep that promise.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention some of my longest supporters: my parents. My dad, Mervyn Rae, was, until recently, a dairy farmer for his entire life. He’s one of the hardest-working people I know. Even though he has now sold the dairy herd, he still gets up before the sun rises to feed his remaining cattle. My mother, Mary Winger Rae, in addition to helping with the farm, is the amateur artist in the family, whether it’s photography, painting or drawing.
My mother and father sacrificed a lot for my sister and I. They always encouraged me and my sister to pursue our passions and goals in life, and I am blessed to have grown up in such a supportive household. Without their love and support, I would not be standing here in this place today.
As I was writing this speech, my thoughts were drawn to those in my family who are no longer with us. Earlier this year, my last living grandparent, Trudy Winger, passed on. None of my grandparents lived to see me take my seat in this House, but I know they are looking down with pride.
Finally, I would like to recognize my partner, Meghan Thomson. She has willingly agreed to support me in this crazy—and it is crazy—lifestyle of elected office.
Mr. Matthew Rae: Yes, give her a round of applause.
We’re both community-minded individuals and have chosen to sacrifice some of our privacy and time to serve the good people of Perth–Wellington. I can never thank her enough for the love and support she shows me every day.
As some of my colleagues will know in this place, I was fortunate enough to go abroad for my graduate studies and had the privilege of attending the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in Austria.
Similar to many post-secondary students, I also completed a couple of internships while completing my studies. One such internship was with the Maltese embassy in Vienna. One of my colleagues was an older gentleman who had worked with the embassy for over 20 years. He was a soft-spoken man. He worked with the ambassador on many different multinational files at the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
One day, he shared a piece of advice with me from his many years of experience working in international diplomacy. He said: “As an individual you cannot change the world in one sweeping moment, but you can change a small aspect of it in your own way.” These words have stayed with me, and I hope all members take them to heart as I have.
Only 1,968 Ontarians have ever sat in this place. Fewer still have been a minister of the crown, and even fewer have been Premier. However, we can all effect a small amount of change in our ridings and our communities.
One of my favourite quotes is from a former politician, the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. He made this speech before women held elected office, so bear that in mind—but it’s great that obviously women and other genders can hold elected office, now that we’ve progressed. But the quote goes, “It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph”—I really need to organize my sheets—“of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I encourage all members to dare greatly.
The throne speech and our budget are calls to action for Ontarians to dare greatly and help build Ontario. It was an honour to be here to listen to the Lieutenant Governor enumerate our government’s policies in the coming Legislative session. The throne speech and budget addressed the importance of our health care system and our plan to stay open.
I want to take this chance to thank all my local hospitals, their staff and their boards and CEOs, the family health teams, long-term-care staff and the various other health care providers that work day and night to provide the best care possible. I commend them and their staff for working tirelessly throughout this entire pandemic.
The importance of a well-functioning, quality health care system is not lost on me. That is why I have been in constant contact with my local hospital CEOs, local family health teams, long-term-care homes and other health care providers.
It is clear the importance of a well-functioning, quality health care system is important to this government. That is why we have made important investments in our health care sector.
Starting in the 2021-22 fiscal year, our government started investing $342 million over five years to strengthen our health care workforce through upskilling, retention and recruitment initiatives. We have already added over 10,500 new health care professionals and will continue to work with health care providers to encourage more people to join this honourable profession.
We’ve also committed to investing $4.9 billion to hire more than 27,000 new personal support workers, registered nurses and registered practical nurses by 2025 for our long-term-care facilities. This is to ensure residents receive on average four hours of direct care per day.
In budget 2022, we did commit to expanding the Community Commitment Program for Nurses and the Learn and Stay grant, as we’re calling it, with a $142-million investment. This program allows nurses and graduates to receive a full tuition reimbursement in exchange for committing to a practice in a rural or northern community—a direct benefit to Perth–Wellington.
We are also investing $41 million annually to support the clinical education component in our nursing education program, something my hospital CEOs and boards and nurses have said is important.
Prior to the election, our government passed legislation that prohibits regulatory colleges from requiring Canadian work experience as a qualification for registration in the nursing or personal support programs. It also requires regulatory colleges to certify potential applicants in a timely manner so that internationally trained health care workers can start as soon as possible. So far, well over 760 internationally educated nurses have been deployed through this program. In addition to these changes, the Minister of Health has written to the College of Nurses and the College of Physicians and Surgeons to quickly approve credentials of internationally educated health care workers.
This is not an exhaustive list, and our government has undergone and will continue to be undertaking significant, concrete, important steps supporting our health care sector moving forward.
A healthy and thriving Ontario is one that can attract lucrative investments from businesses across the globe, bringing with them good-paying jobs and added tax revenue. In the automotive sector alone, Ontario has attracted investments of $16 billion, $5 billion of which is for Canada’s first large-scale electric battery plant. Many of these positions will require employees trained in the skilled trades. That’s why our government is making important investments in the skilled trades. In my riding alone, our government has invested over $1.8 million to create a new skilled trades training hub in the community of North Perth.
More recently, I had the pleasure of joining Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton at Dyna-Mig, an auto manufacturing plant in Stratford, to announce $5 million in funding to train 500 people from under-represented groups in our thriving automotive sector. The project will provide participants with the necessary skills for rewarding careers in machine operation, assembly, quality control and logistics.
Investments in training are important, but so are investments in infrastructure to get people to and from work. Our government is investing a historic $86 billion over 10 years to build and expand Ontario’s roads, highways and transit infrastructure across Ontario. This includes expansion of GO train services to London, which shares a line with the city of Stratford and the town of St. Marys in my riding. This will directly benefit my constituents in various ways, including by giving them more transit options. After years of talk by previous governments about expanding GO train service to Stratford, St. Marys and London, our government has got it done, and I was very pleased to see that in our budget we committed to continuing to make track improvements to increase the frequency of trips between my riding and Union Station in Toronto.
As some members will know, prior to being elected to this place, I worked for a non-profit education company, Shad Canada. Shad runs a month-long STEM and entrepreneurship program for grade 10 and 11 students at university campuses across Canada. Coming from an educational background, and as a co-parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education, I cannot understate the importance of investing in our children and preparing them for the jobs of the 21st century.
We recognize that the past two years of hybrid and virtual learning have been difficult for our children, parents and teachers. That’s why our government launched a $175-million investment to provide tutoring supports to students across Ontario. This has benefited people in my riding of Perth–Wellington as well.
We also know that parents know what’s best for their children. That’s why our government, in its reintroduced budget of 2022, will include an additional $225 million over the next two years to provide direct payments to help their kids catch up. This will help students catch up on lost learning, while reducing the burden on parents and future educators, allowing them to focus on new material.
Our government has modernized the elementary science and technology curriculum, along with the de-streamed grade 9 science course and the new learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills; hands-on experiential learning; the skilled trades and coding. As was alluded to in the throne speech, with close to one in five jobs in the coming years being in the skilled trades, it’s imperative that our children not only appreciate the importance of these jobs, but are prepared to learn the skills they need for these rewarding careers.
As a first-time homeowner, I am keenly aware of the challenges our young people are facing when purchasing their first home. While previous governments have neglected building more homes, our government has made it a priority. In 2020, a year after our housing supply action plan was implemented, Ontario had over 81,000 housing starts, the highest level in a decade, and over 100,000 rental starts, the highest level since 1992. It is critical that our government continues to work with our municipal partners to build more affordable and attainable housing.
Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of making a Rural Economic Development funding announcement on behalf of our great Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in the city of Stratford. InvestStratford, the economic development corporation of the city, will be using the $80,000 in funding to develop a community tool box to support the development of attainable housing.
Our government is committed to working with our municipal partners to deliver a housing supply action plan every year of the next four years. It’s great to be part of a government that works with our municipal partners, because what works in downtown Toronto will not work in downtown Listowel. I’ve already had some great discussions with my local mayors and councillors about how we can build more attainable and affordable housing. Our government is committed to working with our municipalities to leverage surplus provincial lands and add new incentives to building attainable housing, which will lower the cost for potential buyers and make home ownership a reality for more families.
In conclusion, Ontario requires an ambitious plan and a government that understands and is willing to tackle the province’s most pressing issues. Ontario deserves a caucus that is made up of representatives from every corner of Ontario and who come from many different walks of life. Ontario, now more than ever, needs experienced leadership. Madam Speaker, this government is ready to build Ontario.
I know my colleagues from the NDP and the independent members will not always agree with our policies, but I look forward to working with everyone in this place to build a brighter tomorrow for all Ontarians. Together, let’s build Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate? The member for Mississauga–Malton.
Mr. Deepak Anand: Madam Speaker, today is the legislative Friday, and it is my pleasure to seek your permission now: I move the adjournment of the House.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Mr. Anand has moved the adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Debate deemed adjourned.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): This House stands adjourned until Tuesday, September 6, 2022, at 9 a.m.
The House adjourned at 1500.