LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Tuesday 21 February 2023 Mardi 21 février 2023
The House met at 1015.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Good morning. Let us pray.
Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: Today I stand in this House to reflect on the incredible life of my friend and mentor the fearless, courageous and one-of-a-kind Hazel McCallion. With the passing of Hurricane Hazel, Mississauga, Ontario and Canada have lost a visionary, a trailblazer, a mover and shaker and a force of nature. Today, I join thousands of Canadians in mourning her passing and send my sympathies to the McCallion family who are currently grieving the loss of their mother and grandmother.
Hazel was a remarkable lady who held many titles, including politician, businesswoman, athlete and one of Canada’s and the world’s longest-serving mayors. She was known as Hurricane Hazel because of her fearless political stance. During her tenure as mayor of Mississauga, from 1978 to 2014, Hazel McCallion oversaw the city’s development from a bedroom town to the sixth largest in Canada. She led the charge to transform Mississauga from farmland into a thriving world-class city with its own identity. As the member from Mississauga Centre, I am delighted that the city became well-known for its robust economy, flourishing diversity and first-class public services under her leadership.
She was a tenacious teammate who had a powerful political influence that helped Mississauga grow into a thriving metropolis. We were friends, not just political colleagues. Her energy was as bright as ever, and I was delighted to just have had the opportunity to have her at my wedding.
She would always say, “Do your homework,” and “Every day is a great day,” before going to sleep, and I strive to do well and bring flourishing ideas to Mississauga Centre as Hazel McCallion had. She will be remembered as a pioneer who inspired us all with her political career and community involvement, but above all, I will cherish her as a close friend and confidant. Her legacy will live on forever. Rest in peace, dear Hazel.
Northern Ontario School of Medicine
MPP Jamie West: Today I want to talk about the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Most people call it NOSM University. Last week I met with Dr. Verma. She’s the president of NOSM. She took the opportunity to brag about her students. Speaker, 100% of NOSM’s graduating class passed the provincial exam, 100% secured residency placements and over 57% of the graduating class chose family medicine. In fact, NOSM generates more family doctors than any other Ontario medical school. As well, NOSM has continuously proven to attract and retain medical doctors in northern Ontario: 87% of NOSM graduates stay to practise medicine in the north.
The Northern Ontario School of Medicine, NOSM, contributes to care in northern Ontario’s urban, rural and remote communities. That’s a northern Ontario solution that we can all be proud of and we can all support.
Mr. Will Bouma: Speaker, it’s good to see you and good to see all of my colleagues in the House today.
It’s my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak about an exciting development in my riding of Brantford–Brant. As you all know, Brantford is no stranger to hockey, being the birthplace of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky. We have a deep and successful tradition with the sport.
It was recently announced that the Hamilton Bulldogs will be relocating to Brantford for a minimum of three years as their home arena undergoes major renovations. Rebranded as the Brantford Bulldogs, this OHL team will bring a re-energized level of hockey excitement to the area. Their new home will be the Brantford and District Civic Centre, which will undergo some much-needed upgrades as a result of this venture.
Attending today—I don’t know if they’re all here yet in the gallery, but I am grateful to Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis, as well as councillors Rose Sicoli, Richard Carpenter, Mandy Samwell, Gino Caputo, John Sless, Greg Martin, Dan McCreary and key staff; also, members of the senior leadership team of the Bulldogs organization, Jeff Elia and Peggy Chapman. Without unanimous council approval we would not be here today. Thank you to you all.
As the Brantford Bulldogs take the ice for the 2023-24 season, I am confident the residents of Brantford–Brant will welcome them with enthusiasm and support, as we have seen the unprecedented interest in season’s ticket sales and reservations. Go, Brantford Bulldogs!
International Mother Language Day
Ms. Doly Begum: Around the world the 21st of February, or Ekushey February, is recognized as International Mother Language Day, to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to uphold multiculturalism. It is also an important day to reflect on the sacrifices made to preserve Bangladeshi and Bengali people’s unique cultural identity. On this day, 71 years ago, language martyrs, or bhasha shohids, lost their lives protesting the oppressive regime that prohibited Bangla from being used as an official language. Their sacrifice, their fight and the movement for their mother tongue was heard across the world, sparking International Mother Language Day.
As the MPP and long-time resident of an incredibly diverse and multilingual community, I know how important language access is to our community members and how empowering and essential it is for people to have information and services in their native languages.
I would like to thank the United Committee for Observance of Ekushey and International Mother Language Day, who put together an incredible commemoration at Dentonia Park last night at midnight. I also want to thank the Language Access Coalition, who are currently hosting their annual Language Advocacy Day conference to continue championing this issue.
Let’s all work together to preserve our languages and continue advocating for language access across Ontario and build an equitable province for all.
Mr. Anthony Leardi: I have more great news from the riding of Essex. We have two wonderful doctors in our region—their names are Dr. Tayfour and Dr. Emara—and they do cataract surgery, giving sight back to those who are losing it. They’re modern-day miracle workers. They do these surgeries at a clinic and they have served literally thousands of people in our region.
Now, we know that the opposition doesn’t support this, but thanks to the progressive and compassionate policies of this government, Drs. Emara and Tayfour will now be allowed to continue this practice and give sight back to people who are losing it, serving thousands of people in my riding and in the region. Best of all, they’ll pay for this with their OHIP card, not their credit card.
I would like to thank the Minister of Health for providing us with this policy—this compassionate and progressive policy—which will serve thousands of people in the riding of Essex and in the surrounding region, giving them health care where and when they need it.
MPP Jill Andrew: I want to highlight an incredible not-for-profit in my St. Paul’s community that I’ve met with, Cystic Fibrosis Canada. CF is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting children and young adults in Canada. Ontario has an estimated 1,500 people living with CF. There is currently no cure.
CF mainly affects the digestive system and lungs. It causes chronic lung infections which destroys lung function, and eventually leads to death for most people with CF.
The drug Trikafta has been a game-changer for people with CF. At list price, it costs approximately $300,000 per patient per year. Ontario provides the drug for free through OHIP+ to those 24 years and younger who don’t have private insurance.
However, many parents are faced with a dilemma that must be fixed: If you have private insurance that won’t cover Trikafta, your child cannot access the drug through OHIP, so you can either pay two deductibles, one for private insurance and one for the Trillium Drug Program, or remove your child from your private insurance to access the drug through OHIP, leaving your child without dental coverage, paramedical supports and other important pieces. This is a decision no family or single parent should have to make.
Cystic Fibrosis Canada is calling on the Ontario government to create a new deductible-free specialized drug program for drugs for rare diseases so all who need them can get them, and to coordinate with private insurers and drug manufacturers to immediately reduce the financial burden Ontarians face in accessing life-saving medicine.
I hope this government will listen and help save lives in my community and across the province.
Mr. Kevin Holland: It’s great to be back. Although I’m glad to be back, I was grateful for the time to meet with the constituents in my riding during the break. It was indeed a busy time.
Speaker, I was invited to the Thunder Bay Police Service’s exemplary service awards ceremony this past Thursday where members of the Thunder Bay Police Service were recognized for 20 years and 30 years of service. It was my honour to represent our government and bring greetings and recognition on behalf of Premier Ford. The individuals recognized at this event have served their community and the people of Ontario with distinction, dedication and commitment.
Policing is not an easy job. In fact, I would say it’s not a job at all, but rather a calling and a commitment to serve your community. This career is dangerous and emotional. It can also be a very satisfying experience as well. Many times, all of these feelings are experienced in a single shift.
At the event, we heard stories of such risk, but none as telling as that of Constable Craig Town, who, while on duty in September 1991, was shot twice. He sustained life-threatening injuries that have left him with paralysis from the neck down. His life was saved that evening by his supervisor, Sergeant Mel Vilcek. Constable Town received his 30-year exemplary service medal on Thursday evening.
I also wanted to recognize and thank the family members of those who have served in the police services. The wide range of emotions experienced by police officers can, and often does, impact on family life. You provide the love and support needed as your spouse, parent or sibling deals with the demons following a difficult shift, while at the same time, you deal with the fear and worry every time they are on duty. That cannot be forgotten and I want to thank you for being an unsung hero.
Boards of directors nomination policy
Ms. Stephanie Bowman: Good morning, Speaker and colleagues. Today I rise to speak about my first private member’s bill, Bill 50, Building Better Business Outcomes Act. This bill would amend the Securities Act to require that publicly traded corporations develop and make publicly available their policy respecting their director nomination process to identify board candidates who are women, Black, Indigenous, other people of colour, persons with disabilities and LGBTQ+.
Good business policy is progressive policy and research shows that increased diversity on boards leads to better business outcomes. Diverse experiences and perspectives help businesses generate a broad array of solutions, manage risks and therefore be more successful.
I am happy to say this bill has the support of a wide range of stakeholders and organizations, and a number of MPPs have also already offered their support. If any of my colleagues are interested in learning more or meeting some interested stakeholders, I will be holding a Bill 50 social tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. Please contact my office for more information.
I look forward to speaking more about my bill next week. I am confident that growing our economy and improving and promoting diversity and inclusion is important to each member in this House because it’s a business issue, it’s a societal issue—not a partisan issue. I hope we can move forward together on this.
Mr. Vincent Ke: Today, I focus on our government’s support of workers. Career training and skill development opportunities change life for the better.
Ontario invests in workers to provide job prospects, career training and education options such as the PSW training fund program. This investment reaps rewards. Karen, a constituent in my riding of Don Valley North, received financial support from the $54.7 million in funding our government invested in the PSW training program. Karen is grateful for the help, and today, she contributes as a working PSW in health care.
People like Karen who benefit from paid training programs also strengthen our health care system by addressing a shortage of PSWs in the province. Together, we work hard to inspire optimism and promote excellence in Ontario’s workforce. We rely on the skilled workforce to deliver the services we need, especially as we rebound post-pandemic.
As Ontario continues to stimulate and fuel the resilient economy, we will continue to invest in workers and their promising future and ours.
Grzegorz “Greg” Pierzchala
Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I rise with a heavy heart to commemorate the life of OPP officer Greg Pierzchala. The 28-year-old was fatally shot on December 27 while responding to the call of duty. He saw a vehicle in a ditch near Hagersville and wanted to help. That is the kind of person he was. It was Officer Pierzchala’s first official day on the job, and it was his childhood dream since he was five years old to be a police officer. His whole life was dedicated to service.
His memory will always be alive and well in Barrie, Ontario, where he attended St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School. There, he participated in numerous teams because he believed in teamwork and helping everyone reach their full potential on his team. His mindset and discipline were driven by his love for martial arts. He served in the Canadian military; he was a member of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters. He served as a Polish Highlander. He will always be remembered as someone who had a strong sense of duty for his country and community and was an exemplary police officer.
We have never lost so many police officers in this province in such a short period of time. The death of Officer Pierzchala could have been avoided, since the two individuals who murdered him were out on bail for heinous crimes and should have been behind bars. That is why our Premier joined the Ontario police and Premiers from across the nation in a plea for the federal government to address our country’s failed bail system.
I want to ask all members of this Legislature to not forget Officer Pierzchala, who was the embodiment of putting service above self, was a true hero in life in everything he did. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and the Polish community who will always remember his acts of kindness and his deep sense of duty.
Leader of the Opposition
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that Marit Stiles, member for electoral district of Davenport, is recognized as the leader of His Majesty’s loyal opposition.
Tabling of sessional papers
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I also beg to inform the House that during the adjournment, the following documents were tabled:
—a request by the member for Davenport, Marit Stiles, to the Integrity Commissioner for an opinion pursuant to section 30 of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994, on whether the member for Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, Steve Clark, has contravened the act or Ontario parliamentary convention;
—a report entitled Costing Climate Change Impacts to Public Infrastructure: Linear Storm and Wastewater from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario;
—a report concerning the Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, and the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, from the Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario;
—a request by the member for Whitby, Lorne Coe, to the Integrity Commissioner for an opinion pursuant to section 30 of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994, on whether the member for Thunder Bay–Superior North, Lise Vaugeois, has contravened the act or Ontario parliamentary convention;
—a report entitled Ontario’s Credit Rating: Winter 2023 Update from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario; and
—a report entitled Economic and Budget Outlook: Winter 2023 from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario.
Introduction of Visitors
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Today we are honoured to remember and pay tribute to the Honourable David Onley, the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery this morning are Mr. Onley’s wife Ruth Ann and son Robert. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Also joining us in the Speaker’s gallery today are members of the Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Ms. Marit Stiles: It’s a real pleasure to welcome to this House members of the Ontario Federation of Labour executive: Patty Coates, Ahmad Gaied, Janice Folk-Dawson and Rob Halpin.
I’d also like to recognize members of Greenbelt Promise who are joining us here today—it’s a long list: Brad Merrill, Lilly Noble, Katie Krelove, Marilyn Osborne, Janet Patterson, Dave Pearce, Brody R., Karen Rathwell, Wendy Roberts, Lisa Schumph, Catherine Scott, Sharon Sommerville, Robert Spence, Marta Stiteleler, Carolyn Stupple, Michelle Tom, Peter Varty, Elizabeth Ward, Roz Vincent-Haven, Marijan Vranic, George Wheeler and Nelly Young. Thank you, and welcome to our House.
Ms. Goldie Ghamari: I’d like to introduce my new legislative assistant Daniel Jolic. I’ve known him since 2017. I’ve watched him grow into an exceptional young man. He’s now in his first year of law school at U of T and I know he has a very bright future ahead of him. Welcome to the Ontario Legislature, Daniel.
Mr. Joel Harden: I want to thank our friends from the Lung Health Foundation that met us this morning. Charmaine, it’s nice to see you particularly from Ottawa Centre. You left behind your kit, so we’ve got to get that back to you, because it’s got information I think you need for the rest of the day.
Also, I want to thank my very good friend Fred Hahn for being here in the House. You play a big role in giving us the best advice. Thank you, Fred. We love you, CUPE.
Mr. Brian Riddell: I’d like to welcome Michael and Lorraine Harris, sitting over here. Their organization is My Place in This World, which is a school program to celebrate Black excellence and achievement in our society. Thank you for coming today.
Mr. Mike Schreiner: I would like to introduce Émile Maheu and Anne Vinet-Roy from AEFO to Queen’s Park today.
I’d also like to welcome Janine Le Forestier, mother of my friend the late environmental activist Jenni Le Forestier, to Queen’s Park today, as well as Deborah Martin-Downs, a respected Canadian aquatic biologist and former chief administrative officer for the TRCA and former member of Ontario’s Greenbelt Council, and all the people who are here today as part of the Greenbelt Promise coalition.
Ms. Catherine Fife: I’d like to welcome members from the architectural conservancy: Richard Longley, Diane Dent, Kae Elgie, Diane Chin, Shannon Kyles, Mary Walton, Susan Ratcliffe, Alysson Storey, Alison Creba, Charlotte Mickie, Deb Crawford, Catherine Nasmith, Doug Evans, Paul Farrelly, Marlee Robinson, Michelle Bullough, Zoe Goluch, Justine Tenzer and, finally, Kanika Kaushal.
Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: I’d like to welcome Heart and Stroke delegates to Queen’s Park. They will be meeting with MPPs throughout the day to discuss their policy recommendations and will be hosting a dinner reception at the legislative dining room from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Welcome.
Ms. Chandra Pasma: I’d like to welcome Karen Littlewood, president of the OSSTF, along with Dan Earl, Kaitlyn Reed and Munib Sajjad, ainsi que nos amis de l’AEFO, Anne Vinet-Roy et Émile Maheu. Bienvenue.
Mr. Dave Smith: I’d like to introduce my new executive assistant, Jenna DePaiva. Today is her very first day here in the chamber.
Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: Before I do my introductions, I’d like to share with the House that today is Losar, Tibetan new year, and I’d like to wish Tibetans in Ontario and across the world a very happy new year. Losar Tashi Delek.
Speaker, in the galleries I have my OLIP intern, Téah U-Ming; placement student from University of Toronto, Alex Boross-Harmer; and my new constituency assistant, Margarita Tsetsekas.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: Good morning, everyone. It’s lovely to see you and be back here with you, and I’m looking forward to building a better Ontario with you. Hope you had a great break.
Today, I would like to introduce some more crusaders for the vital greenbelt, and I don’t have all their names, but I have their ridings, so that you are well aware of who’s here, because they’re your lovely constituents. They’re from the wonderful ridings of Kitchener Centre, Wellington–Halton Hills, Guelph, Cambridge, Parkdale–High Park, Mississauga Centre, Kitchener–Conestoga, Don Valley North, Don Valley East, Willowdale, St. Catharines, Dufferin–Caledon, Oakville North–Burlington, Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry and beautiful Beaches–East York.
Also in the chamber is a former Liberal MP for King-Vaughan, Deb Schulte. She was also a cabinet minister and Greenbelt Task Force member.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Unless there’s an objection, I’ll continue with introduction of visitors.
Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker, and it’s good to see everyone again.
I would like to take the opportunity to welcome a constituent of my riding, Mrs. Pam Spence. Pam is a stroke survivor whose passion and dedication for stroke and cardiac rehabilitation programs have made her a leader within the community. In December, Mrs. Spence received the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee award for her work. Thank you to her and her husband, Dave, for being here today.
Mme France Gélinas: We have a few guests for the Chronic Disease Awareness Day, starting with Sarah Hobbs, who is the chief executive officer of Alliance for Healthier Communities, as well as Kim Fraser, the chief executive officer for Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre.
Also from Alliance for Healthier Communities, we have Marie-Lauren Gregoire Drummond. She is the director of communications. We have Zakaria Abdulle, who is the government relations and policy lead, as well as Sanya Budhiraja, who is the communications and event planner. I also want to wish Angela Preocanin, first vice-president of ONA, a welcome to Queen’s Park.
Hon. Michael D. Ford: From my riding of York South–Weston, I would like to welcome the Early Development Childhood Initiative for all the work that they do in York South–Weston, but particularly during Black History Month and all the work they do elevating our Black community in my riding and across Ontario.
Mr. Vincent Ke: I’d just like to introduce my new staff, Wendy Wei. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Mr. Chris Glover: I’d like to welcome the executive from the OFL and OSSTF, and I’d like to give a special welcome to Ronnie Blackburn who is an intern in my office and has been doing some great research work for us.
Mrs. Robin Martin: I just wanted to welcome the members of the AED Foundation and CARE who are having an MPP reception at lunch in room 230. I would like to see everybody come out and thank them for all the great work they do for cardiac in Ontario.
M. Stéphane Sarrazin: J’aimerais souhaiter la bienvenue à ma fille aînée de 18 ans, Vanessa Sarrazin, qui est ici avec ma ravissante conjointe, Chantal. Vanessa profite du congé de relâche pour venir me visiter à Queen’s Park, puis explorer la ville de Toronto. Donc, bienvenue à Queen’s Park.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: I want to just join everyone in welcoming those who are here from the Greenbelt Promise. We certainly stand with you.
I’d also like to welcome the members of the Ontario Federation of Labour who are here, as well. I know that Rob Halpin is here.
Also, I see my very good friend Karen Littlewood from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation. Welcome all to Queen’s Park today.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I will remind members not to make political statements during the introduction of their visitors.
The Attorney General.
Hon. Doug Downey: I want to welcome François Aubin and Adam Hoerdt who are here with the AED Foundation and CARE reception, as well. But when you’re at the reception, ask Adam about his ride across Canada on a bicycle to raise awareness for arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, ARVC.
Hon. Greg Rickford: I see Laura Stone back in the press gallery. Welcome back, Laura.
Grzegorz “Greg” Pierzchala
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I understand the Solicitor General has a point of order.
Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: If you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the House to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of Provincial Constable Grzegorz “Greg” Pierzchala of the Ontario Provincial Police who was tragically killed in the line of duty on December 27, 2022, in Hagersville, Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Solicitor General is seeking the unanimous consent of the House to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of Provincial Constable Grzegorz “Greg” Pierzchala of the Ontario Provincial Police who was tragically killed in the line of duty on December 27, 2022, in Hagersville. Agreed? Agreed.
Members will please rise.
The House observed a moment’s silence.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.
Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I understand the member for Scarborough Southwest has a point of order.
Ms. Doly Begum: I seek unanimous consent for the House to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Scarborough Southwest is seeking the unanimous consent of the House for a moment of silence for the victims of the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye. Agreed? Agreed. Members will please rise.
The House observed a moment’s silence.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.
Hon. David C. Onley
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I recognize the government House leader on a point of order.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance of the late Honourable David Onley, 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition, five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group and five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader is seeking the unanimous consent of the House to make statements in remembrance of the late Honourable David Onley, the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition, five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group and five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government. Agreed? Agreed.
I recognize the leader of His Majesty’s loyal opposition.
Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, I am truly honoured to rise today to pay tribute to the late Honourable David C. Onley, who served faithfully as the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 2007 to 2014. Mr. Onley was, among many other things, the first provincial Lieutenant Governor with a physical disability and the second-longest serving since Confederation, a father, a grandfather, a husband, a change-maker, a broadcaster, a public servant and an advocate.
I’d again like to welcome Mr. Onley’s wonderful family: his wife Ruth Ann and Robert his son who are joining us here today. Thank you for being here.
David Onley is remembered as one of the most extraordinary figures in Ontario’s rich political history. He contracted polio at the age of three, which made walking a mammoth task. As his family shared with us recently at his funeral, that also left him with a lifetime of pain. Yet when he was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor, he walked up the stairs in front of us today and sat in the Speaker’s chair. That determination and grit transcended to all areas of David’s life. When David saw closed doors, he opened them, and when they couldn’t be opened, he made sure they were made accessible—not just temporarily, not just for him, but for everyone who passed through after him.
Former Toronto mayor David Crombie and I were speaking recently about Mr. Onley, and he reminded me of his son’s reflection at his father’s disability and desire to live a full life. He said, “He lived a life of courage every day,” something we should all aspire to.
Mr. Onley lived a life dedicated to service and continually fought to make this province work for the disabled. He once remarked that accessibility was, “much, much more than just the curb cuts and wheelchair parking spots and automatic doors and ramps.... It’s that which enables people to achieve their full potential.” He shared the joy in the passing of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and was dedicated to using every tool he had to sound the alarm when he felt the province was lagging in fulfilling its legal obligations, and in 2018 he was asked to do the official AODA review.
I was speaking with disability advocate Sarah Jama yesterday—she’s a disability justice advocate who, yes, is running for a seat in this House—and I couldn’t help but ask her what stood out for her about the legacy of David Onley, as somebody who is a disability justice advocate and also a person who uses a mobility device. She said she felt it incumbent on all of us not to let his incredible work pass with him. She says, “We owe him and the millions of disabled people in this province the implementation of every single one of his 2019 recommendations.” Tough words—and she’ll have tougher words too, but I leave her to bring them to this place. And I would say that, if she were to take her seat among us here, or the next person who sits here with a physical disability, she will have been well served by the path that he forged.
I want to share, Speaker, that I was honoured to attend Mr. Onley’s funeral just a few weeks ago. It was an extraordinary event. It was held in the very church where Mr. Onley and his wife Ruth Ann met and was attended by a who’s who of leaders of all levels of government, past and present; former colleagues in the media; of course, his beloved family; but also hundreds and hundreds of disability advocates, people with disabilities.
I spoke yesterday with Anthony Hylton, his chief of staff when he was Lieutenant Governor, about the time and effort necessary to ensure that that church and service would be truly accessible for this occasion: larger font in the programs, an area for people in mobility devices, the book of condolences had to be accessible to everyone, programs in Braille, screens with captioning and on and on.
Mr. Hylton called David Onley “one of the greatest people I ever met”—and he’s met pretty great people—and he shared that he would receive a call from Mr. Onley every January 30, the anniversary of the day he asked him to be his chief of staff, becoming the first Black person to fill this role anywhere in Canada.
Anthony Hylton also remarked that Mr. Onley was a deeply religious man. His family and his pastor talked about this throughout their service. It was fitting, then, that his coffin was led out of the church by his pastor, now himself needing a mobility device, on David’s scooter.
As Mr. Onley had said often, most people are one fall or one accident away from really understanding how inaccessible places were for him. He lives on in his immortalized words in Hansard, in the results he achieved for the people of Ontario and in the lives and memories of his loving family and the friends who had the pleasure of knowing him. Thank you for sharing him with our province.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Scarborough–Guildwood.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: It is an honour to rise and to pay tribute to the Honourable David Onley. David Onley served as Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor from 2007 to 2014. Named to the Order of Canada in 2017, he was a symbol of dignity and an inspiration to many throughout his years of service.
It would be impossible to overstate the influence that he has had in Ontario. Raised in Scarborough, David Onley had a long career as a television newscaster, starting with Citytv in 1984, where he was a science and a weather specialist. He was also a newscaster for Cable Pulse 24, CP24. Even then, as a broadcaster, he appeared on camera in his mobility device. He was an advocate on disability issues just by doing his job.
For David Onley, accessibility was “that which enables people to achieve their full potential.” I couldn’t agree more. So it is of particular significance that David used his status as the province’s first Lieutenant Governor with a physical disability to raise awareness and help break down barriers facing other Ontarians with disabilities. He blazed a trail that all could access. Leading by example, he helped all Ontarians to see beyond physical limitations to see ability everywhere. He was a man who lived his personal motto: “Through adversity to the heights.”
A tireless advocate for a more inclusive society, David Onley was devoted to the service of people in a way that set him apart and set examples for all. He made Ontario and Canada a more welcoming place, and the legacy of his efforts and advocacy for improved access to employment and opportunities for people with disabilities will indeed be lasting.
David was someone that I worked with at Queen’s Park when I was first elected in 2013, and he is very well-known as a graduate and champion of the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, where, following his tenure as Lieutenant Governor, he returned to teach and to develop courses on the role of the crown in the Canadian political system and on the politics of disability in Canada.
On behalf of the residents of Scarborough–Guildwood, I want to thank him for his service. To his family: Thank you for sharing him with us. My deepest condolences to his wife Ruth Ann; to their sons, Jonathan, Robert and Michael; and to their extended families.
I have the utmost respect and admiration for the Honourable David C. Onley. His contributions will always be remembered with a deep degree of gratitude, and it is my hope that we will all do our best to honour his legacy of accessibility through the kinds of service and action that he modelled so well for all of us.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Guelph.
Mr. Mike Schreiner: I am honoured to rise today to pay tribute to the late Honourable David C. Onley, Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor. I welcome his family here today and express my sincere condolences for your loss.
I had the honour of attending Mr. Onley’s funeral and there is no question that he was so loved and cherished by his family, was a valued member of his spiritual community and a truly respected member of the disability community.
Mr. Onley was an extraordinary person and a real champion for people with disabilities. The barriers he broke for people with disabilities, the path he paved, the expectations he left government—this House—with were groundbreaking, inspiring and, I believe, must be honoured by all who serve in this place to carry on his legacy.
I look forward to the implementation of all the recommendations from the Onley report and I’m so thankful for the work he did to advance the rights of all Ontarians, especially those with disabilities.
The great David Onley will be missed, but he will never be forgotten. May Your Honour rest in peace.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Premier.
Hon. Doug Ford: I rise today to pay tribute to the Honourable David C. Onley. I share my deepest condolences to David’s family: to his wife Ruth Ann; his sons, Robert, Michael and Jonathan; along with his friends and former colleagues.
I had the opportunity and the privilege of speaking at David’s funeral in January, where I noted that David was a memorable journalist and broadcaster who advocated for accessibility for all Ontarians, helping to put a spotlight on the barriers faced by people with disabilities. He then took the advocacy into Queen’s Park, making accessibility issues a priority as Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor.
As Lieutenant Governor, David served the province with honour and distinction. He worked tirelessly to uphold the principle that every person should be allowed to reach the heights demonstrated by their potential and expanded the reconciliation efforts with Ontario’s Indigenous peoples, paving the way for work that continues today.
As I said last month, he was a true leader and set an example for others. Those who knew him described him as generous, compassionate and determined. He leaves behind a wonderful lasting legacy for the people of Ontario. His contributions to our province will never be forgotten.
May God bless our 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David C. Onley.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): We give thanks for the life and public service of David Onley.
Ms. Marit Stiles: My question is to the Premier. Standing here today in this seat, I’m feeling the weight of the important role that we in the official opposition have in this province. A lot of people are counting on us. People are struggling. People aren’t voting, because they’ve been told over and over again by this government and governments before them that this is as good as it gets, that this is all they can expect.
When a government as rich and powerful as this one makes decisions that favour developers over farmers, shareholders over sick people, we have a problem.
To the Premier: Since this House rose, more concerns have been raised about his relationship with developers profiting from his greenbelt carve-up and their attendance at family events. Can the Premier explain to Ontarians how they are supposed to believe that these developers weren’t given a heads-up about his plans for the greenbelt?
Hon. Doug Ford: First of all, I welcome the first question from the Leader of the Opposition.
Regarding any family matters, my family is separate from the political process. They aren’t involved.
I had an opportunity to speak to the Integrity Commissioner, Mr. Speaker. I asked him for his opinion, and he found there was no violation. Again, this event was cleared by the Integrity Commissioner.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, I want to be clear: This is not about the Premier’s family; it is about the Premier’s behaviour. It’s about accountability and the integrity of the office that he holds. Sources told reporters they felt pressured to attend, and some were asked for additional donations of up to $1,000. Did anyone in the Premier’s office or any other government staff have a role in making the invitation list for this family fundraiser?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: The Premier has already responded to that, and the commissioner also responded to that, Mr. Speaker.
But at the same time, we are continuing to move forward as a government to ensure that we continue to build a strong, prosperous Ontario, and it is seen throughout the province of Ontario. Whether you travel to the north, the south, the east or the west, the province of Ontario is moving in a very good direction. We are seeing thousands of jobs being created. We are seeing investments come back to the province of Ontario.
That is what we continue to fight for, Mr. Speaker. Yes, we’re also fighting to ensure that young families can afford to get their first home, something that almost everybody in this place has enjoyed. The reason why families and people came to this province, to this country, for generations is because they wanted the dignity, the hope and the optimism that they could also enjoy that first home. We are going to do everything in our power to make sure that all Ontarians can enjoy that type of optimism and success for the future.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The final supplementary.
Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, it really should not be too much to ask for the Premier of this province to answer the questions that Ontarians have. This is going to be how it is again? Right.
Well, the Premier has a close relationship with developers. We know that; he has acknowledged it. But when the guest list for a family event includes the very developers who later benefited from this government’s MZOs and greenbelt sale, something doesn’t sit right. The government has a history of very specific land decisions that somehow end up benefiting their friends and their donors.
Does the Premier understand how bad this looks, not just for the Premier, but for the integrity of his government?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, again, the commissioner has responded, as well as the Premier.
Yes, we are making decisions that will put more of the valuable resources of the province of Ontario available for families and for young Canadians who want to be able to buy that first home, but we didn’t just start last week. We started from 2018, Mr. Speaker, and at every step of the way the opposition has been opposed to that.
When we brought on transit-oriented communities to build housing around the transit infrastructure—which, by the way, Mr. Speaker, is the largest investment in transit in the history of this province, if not the country—we brought in rules to build transit-oriented communities, they voted against it, so it is no surprise that they are against building more homes for people.
It is that hope and optimism that we have been fighting for since we were elected, since the Progressive Conservative government was even formed. We knew that the people of this province wanted a prosperous province, but they also wanted the hope and dignity of having their first home. We are going to do everything in our power to make sure that that is affordable for everybody.
Public Order Emergency Commission report
Ms. Marit Stiles: You want affordable housing? Don’t build luxury urban sprawl. Let’s start there.
Speaker, the government doesn’t like it because they know that their integrity is in question, and the Premier doesn’t like to answer questions because he knows where it leads.
On Friday, the Public Order Emergency Commission published their report on the use of the Emergencies Act, and the findings are very distressing. When Ottawa residents were being harassed in their communities last February, while small businesses were being forced to close, the Premier, the Solicitor General and the Minister of Transportation all chose not to help. In fact, it was only when protests moved to other parts of this province that they were forced to do something.
What does the Premier have to say to Ottawa residents now that we know the extent of his government’s failure to act?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: I think what the report did highlight is the important work that was being done by the OPP for many months leading up to that. Of course, where there are lessons to be learned with respect to better coordination, whether it’s the Parliamentary Protective Service, the OPP, the RCMP or, in this instance, the Ottawa Police Service, we’ll do that.
But, Mr. Speaker, we are moving forward and we are looking ahead. We are building an economy that is stronger coming out of COVID than it was before. That is what we are continuing to focus on, whether it’s the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investments that the Premier and Minister of Economic Development have brought to this province or whether it is the groundbreaking transit system that the Minister of Transportation is bringing in. The Minister of Infrastructure, who is bringing, for the first time, broadband services to the entire province: Do you know what that means, Mr. Speaker? That means that every part of the province—north, south, east and west—can participate in the economic advantage that Ontario used to have, that was lost under the Liberals but that we are rebuilding. That’s what we’re doing, Mr. Speaker.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question?
Ms. Marit Stiles: No answers there.
Speaker, witnesses told the commission that this government was “trying to avoid responsibility for a crisis within its borders.” While federal and municipal officials were meeting regularly to try to navigate this crisis, Ontario’s Premier and the ministers responsible ghosted the people of Ottawa. The report’s chapter on the provincial response is actually titled, “Ontario’s Absence.”
Why was the Premier absent? I really hope the Premier will answer this question for the people of Ontario and the people of Ottawa. Why was the Premier absent when the people of Ottawa needed his help?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, I think the report is very clear that the OPP had resources on the ground for many months in advance of this and were sharing information with police services, not only in Ottawa but across the province. But, as I said, if there are lessons to be learned with respect to better coordination of emergency services on the ground in Ottawa and how they communicate, we will take a look that the.
But we are moving forward, Mr. Speaker. We are moving beyond COVID to build an Ontario economy that is stronger than it was going into COVID. We have not stopped on that. As I just said, billions of dollars in economic activity and thousands of jobs are being created in the province of Ontario. We’re cutting taxes for the lowest-income Ontarians so that they can participate. We’re putting billions of dollars in investments into northern Ontario, because for far too long the north was ignored.
Now, the opposition can continue to look backward. They can continue to forget about the economy. They can continue to vote against these investments that we’re making, but we are looking forward because that’s what the people of Ontario want. They want a stronger economy and that’s what we’re doing every day, building a stronger, more prosperous Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The final supplementary.
Ms. Marit Stiles: Ontarians across this province right now are going to be shaking their heads after hearing that, not even getting the decency of having the Premier respond to the questions that Ontarians have about these very important issues. The very integrity of their government is at stake here, but they won’t answer the questions.
When the people of Ottawa needed help, the Premier sat on his hands. But when wealthy developers wanted to turn a profit on protected greenbelt land, suddenly the law was changed, like that. Is this how our province works now: one set of rules for the Premier’s friends and associates and another for everyone else? That’s how it is?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Actually, the way the province works is that this government is working every single day to build a more prosperous, strong Ontario. It’s not just about the economy. In order to have a strong economy you need a better health care system. We’re building it—billions of dollars of investments there. We needed a better education system. Our Minister of Education is doing that. The Minister of Energy, who inherited a file that was in chaos, has brought stability back to our system, which has allowed the Minister of Economic Development and this Premier to bring thousands of jobs back to Ontario—billions of dollars of investments. The biggest part of that is that we are not ignoring the north. We’re bringing them into this, Mr. Speaker.
At the same time, the Minister of Labour has been working very hard with our partners in labour to ensure that all of these thousands of jobs that remain unfilled can be filled by the people of the province of Ontario, that they have the skills that they need to help us continue to build a more prosperous, stronger Ontario, a better Ontario than we inherited and a stronger one than we had going into COVID.
Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour le premier ministre. In the last 12 months, Ontario emergency rooms have closed at least 158 times. This is the equivalent of 184 days when the urgent medical needs of Ontarians were not being met in their communities. These closures are unacceptable. They put people’s health and lives at risk. Why hasn’t the Premier acted to address the crisis in our emergency rooms?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
Hon. Sylvia Jones: The one thing that the member opposite and I can agree on is that in fact it is not acceptable. However, I think that the numbers show that, through the use of Ontario Health, making sure that we fully utilize emergency department locums, we’ve actually avoided almost 2,000 of these emergency department closures.
We are building, through your health plan, capacity to add emergency physicians, primary care physicians and nurses. We have now a plan that actually gives us an opportunity to serve the people of Ontario through their primary care physicians and through their hospital networks, ensuring that when people need the care they deserve and expect in the province of Ontario, through a fully provincially funded system, we will be there with that support.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mme France Gélinas: I never thought I would see the day when Ontario’s emergency rooms would close so frequently. In Perth and Smith Falls, their ER was closed for three weeks straight. In Chesley, their ER was closed for 50 long days and nights. These closures constitute a crisis and are being driven by staff shortages, but the situation cannot be fixed if this government continues to cap the wages of nurses and health care workers.
When will the government finally prioritize the health of Ontarians, respect our health care workers and keep our ERs open?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Premier.
Hon. Doug Ford: Thank you for that question. Mr. Speaker, we know, after 15 years of neglect, how we had hallway health care. We’re fixing health care and you’re blocking health care every step of the way. The opposition wants to have endless debates about our health care system, but the people of Ontario just want to make sure they see action happening, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We have 203,000 backlogged surgeries, and we have a plan to make sure we lower that.
We have a plan by making sure we give pharmacists—now able to treat more patients with common illnesses: just in the month of January, just in one month, 40,000 assessments being completed with 65% of pharmacies across the province providing their services. That is 40,000 people who aren’t going to the primary care doctors, 40,000 people not going to the emergency room.
Paramedics are now able to make sure that they take care of the people—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
The next question?
Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. For over a decade, the Liberals chased hundreds of thousands of auto and manufacturing jobs out of the province, including in my riding of Newmarket–Aurora. They simply left the people of Ontario unprepared for the EV future. That’s why we have taken action to rebuild the province’s auto sector, all while growing the economy and creating good jobs.
In a sector that employs hundreds of thousands of workers, will the minister explain how the government is attracting new investments and ensuring that Ontario is open for business?
Hon. Victor Fedeli: Ontario has again become the top auto jurisdiction. To build on this, our government is transforming Ontario’s automotive supply chain to build the cars of the future. We’re doing this because we lowered the cost of doing business by $7 billion annually and, as a result, we have attracted $17 billion in transformative auto investments in two years. Last week, Magna International announced a historic investment of almost half a billion dollars into six of their Ontario plants. With $23.6 million coming from the province of Ontario, Magna is creating more than 1,000 well-paying jobs here in Ontario.
This is how we’re bringing new life to our auto sector, Speaker. There are now 600,000 new jobs created since we first took office.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Thank you to the minister for his answer. It’s great to hear that the government is focusing on the province’s auto sector and attracting significant investments to the province. We understand these types of investments are only possible because the government is following the Driving Prosperity plan to make Ontario an important part of the EV revolution, especially in southwestern Ontario.
Speaker, with Magna’s historic investment and expansion plans in the province, can the minister please elaborate on how this project will help create jobs in my great riding of Newmarket–Aurora, as well as across the province?
Hon. Victor Fedeli: This game-changing investment by Magna will create over 1,000 well-paying jobs in communities all across the province. This includes the opening of a $265-million EV battery enclosure facility in Brampton, creating approximately 560 new jobs in that region. But Magna is expanding their manufacturing facilities elsewhere: In Belleville, a $35-million investment will create up to 100 new jobs; in Windsor, they’re creating 110 jobs; in Penetanguishene, 15 new jobs; in Guelph, a $140-million investment will create 175 new jobs; and in the member’s riding, a $24-million investment in Newmarket is creating approximately 75 jobs. These jobs are being created all across the province, because we are building all of Ontario.
MPP Jamie West: My question is for the Premier. This morning, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Ontario Nurses’ Association and many other representatives of Ontario’s workers put the Conservative government on notice that they’re fed up with being ignored. They’re saying, “Enough is enough.” ONA nurses and Ontario health care workers are demanding the Conservative government finally show the respect that nurses and other front-line health care workers deserve.
My question is: When will the Premier finally listen to Ontario’s demands for more public funding for public health care, for an end to the staffing crisis, for the full repeal of Bill 124 and for decent wages and working conditions for all workers in our health care system?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Health.
Hon. Sylvia Jones: With the greatest of respect, a $14-billion increase in health care spending since 2018 suggests quite the opposite: that we have in fact invested in our health care professionals. We are investing in our primary care beds. We are investing in our home care and our hospitals. We are doing that because we understand and appreciate that the status quo is no longer an option.
We will continue to make those investments, and while the negotiations happen with the Ontario Hospital Association and ONA, we will continue to invest, because that is what a government does when they understand the people of Ontario deserve a publicly funded health care system, and they will get that under Premier Ford.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question?
MPP Jamie West: Back to the Premier: It seems it’s Groundhog Day again, because Conservatives love to pretend that they care about health care workers and front-line workers and nurses. They used them as photo ops during the pandemic, all while underfunding health care, freezing their wages and making working conditions worse.
This Thursday, there will be thousands of public health care workers and supporters joining in solidarity to echo and amplify Ontario’s nurses’ demands for better staffing, for better care and for better wages. Nurses in Ontario are saying, “Enough is enough,” and so are New Democrats.
My question is: Will the Premier and Minister of Health be visiting those demonstrations with New Democrats on Thursday, or are they too afraid of what they will hear from Ontario’s front-line health care workers?
Hon. Sylvia Jones: When the House rose in December, many members of our party, our Premier and myself went around and spoke to their constituents, to their stakeholders. I’ve had an amazing opportunity to meet front-line professionals who are innovating, who are making sure that the service that their patients want and deserve is available. They are telling us that the investments that they are seeing in their local hospitals, whether it’s an investment in pediatric beds at CHEO; whether it is an increase of 50 different hospital builds in the province of Ontario, whether they are new hospitals, expanded hospitals or renovations—it’s unprecedented, the amount of money. We are making sure that the people of Ontario get the health care they need in their community in a timely way.
Mr. Will Bouma: My question is for the Minister of Energy. As Ontario’s population continues to grow, we must address our future energy infrastructure needs today. The previous government, supported by the opposition, created a mess in our energy system. This mess led to the people of Ontario facing some of the highest bills in North America. For our economy to grow and our province to continue to prosper, we need to support innovative and bold solutions that meet our ongoing energy needs.
Speaker, what is our government doing to provide affordable and clean energy solutions for the people of my riding, both now and into the future?
Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks to the member opposite from Brantford–Brant for that great question this morning.
Ontario has a world-class electricity system. It’s 90% emissions-free. We get over 60% of our power from our nuclear fleet emissions-free. We get about 25% from our hydro fleet emissions-free. There are about 33,000 other generators across the province: wind and solar and biomass facilities. Many of those facilities are still producing power at night, though, when demand is low, at off-peak times. Under the former Liberal government, what we had happen was this surplus power was sold to neighbouring jurisdictions at a loss.
We’re bringing that to an end, thanks to our government’s work on the Oneida battery storage project, one of the largest battery storage projects in the world. We’re partnering with the Six Nations of the Grand River to build this. We’re making full use of Ontario’s clean grid by drawing and storing the energy at off-peak times and then dispatching it at times when we’re on-peak, when we need that power. Making our—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
The supplementary question.
Mr. Will Bouma: Back to the Minister of Energy: The Oneida Energy Storage Project is a milestone for Ontario’s energy storage sector. It will make our province’s electricity grid more efficient, stable and reliable. This project will help to generate employment opportunities and significant revenue for the people of my riding and our First Nations partner at Six Nations. Battery storage projects like these are instrumental for our economy, our environment and helping to promote reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
Can the minister please elaborate on how this project will help advance plans for improving the entire electricity grid system?
Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks to the towering member from Brantford–Brant.
Our population is growing. As we heard from the Minister of Economic Development earlier, our economy is continuing to grow, with huge investments in our province. That means our demand for clean, reliable and affordable electricity is continuing to grow too. When the Oneida battery storage project goes online in 2025, it’s going to more than double the amount of energy storage that is currently on Ontario’s grid, from 225 megawatts to 475 megawatts.
The announcement is another milestone in our plan to build and strengthen our electricity grid. We’re going to continue to support innovative and bold technologies like the small modular nuclear reactor program, where construction has started over the holidays, as well. This also includes Canada’s largest procurement of clean energy storage that is in the field right now and of course Canada’s largest energy storage project, the Oneida project, which we announced a couple of weeks ago with the Premier in this member’s region. We’re making our grid more efficient. I must say, when it comes to energy, Ontario is leading the way.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: To the Minister of Transportation: Recently, the Toronto Star revealed that the minister’s office overruled Metrolinx in their effort to inform the member for Toronto Centre and myself about tree removals in our ridings. Even though we were blocked on instructions from her office, local MPs and city councillors were informed. Why does the minister think it’s legitimate to block MPPs from carrying out their duties as elected officials?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: To the member opposite: When the incident was brought to my attention, I made it clear that it was not acceptable and not direction that I support. Why not? Because it’s actually not consistent with the way Metrolinx has engaged with communities and consulted with people on its transit projects since the beginning. The member opposite himself has had 17 total engagements with Metrolinx, 11 engagements specifically on the joint corridor in the past year, in 2022, 37 email correspondences with his office regarding questions about the Ontario Line in his ward.
Building large public transit infrastructure projects in the country’s most densely populated city is disruptive, and that is why we believed so firmly, from the beginning, in the need to make sure that we were working closely with our partners, including our municipal partners, on how we get transit built in the city. That is why we sought the support of Toronto council, which we received.
The reality is, failure to move forward with this transit is not what the city needs. What the city needs is to make sure we build the—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
The supplementary question: The member for Toronto Centre.
MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: To the Minister of Transportation: Two winters ago, this government sent bulldozers into Toronto Centre to try and tear down the foundry buildings. Thankfully, my community organized and we fought to save them. Now, my colleague and I are being intentionally left off notification lists regarding transit projects right in our community.
The minister has an obligation to explain why Metrolinx was instructed to hide that information and what else is being hidden from our communities or members of this House. Will she apologize for this omission, and when will we expect that? When can we get that?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: As I’ve said, this incident is not reflective of the way Metrolinx has been engaging and consulting with members of affected communities since the beginning. Metrolinx has and will continue to meet with community members, including elected officials.
To date, the member opposite has participated in over 30 engagements with Metrolinx in the last two years, at least eight of which were specific to the work at Moss Park. Since 2020, there have been 17 meetings between Metrolinx and the law society, and over 100 engagements with the city of Toronto, that Metrolinx continues to meet with on an ongoing basis.
Mr. Speaker, it’s no secret that the member opposite voted against our current plan for new transit in the city of Toronto when the member was a city councillor. The member is against building generational transit for the people of Ontario. Every time the NDP say no to the Ontario Line, they’re saying no to taking 28,000 cars off the road each day. The opposition can continue to try to disrupt and delay our plans, but we are moving ahead with the hard work of making sure that Toronto gets the transit that it needs and deserves.
Public Order Emergency Commission report
Mme Lucille Collard: My question is to the Premier. Mr. Speaker, it has been a year since the freedom convoy descended on Ottawa to protest—a protest that turned into an occupation that lasted three long weeks, during which the residents of Ottawa lost their right to live peacefully and without fear. Truly, it was nothing but a nightmare.
People turned to their governments, asking for help, because clearly the local police were overwhelmed by the massive trucks and growing number of protesters encouraged by the lack of law enforcement. The Rouleau report, just released following the federal inquiry, clearly indicates that it didn’t have to be this way. If the provincial government had put the same energy into coming to the rescue of the people in Ottawa as it did defending economic interests when the Ambassador Bridge was blocked, the peace could have been restored much sooner.
How can the government justify its inaction, turning its back on the people of Ottawa? I’m asking about people—people who can’t trust this government anymore that they have their back.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To respond, the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: As I mentioned earlier, the report highlights, of course, the incredible work that was being done by the Ontario Provincial Police in providing information to the Ottawa Police Service. As I said, if there are lessons to be learned in how we coordinate with the Parliamentary Protective Service, the OPP, the RCMP and the Ottawa Police Service or other forces, we will take a look at that.
We are continuing to make enormous investments across this province because what we want to do, coming out of COVID, is to build an Ontario economy that is stronger than the one that went into it. We are hearing the results of all of this hard work—and that includes the people of Ottawa. We are seeing thousands of jobs being created across the province of Ontario, whether it is in the automotive sector, which is being rejuvenated in this province, in all parts—and to be clear, when we succeed in the auto sector, it is not only good for the GTA; it’s good for all of Ontario, it’s good for all of Canada.
We have the backs of the people of this province, because we are building a stronger, safer, more prosperous Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question?
Mme Lucille Collard: The commission has conducted an in-depth analysis of what happened and why it happened, and provided lessons learned. This important analysis was possible because of the transparency of the commission process and the numerous civil servants and political leaders who came forward and provided valuable testimonies.
However, there was one political entity missing in action, and that was our provincial government. Our government was missing in action during the occupation, despite numerous calls from myself and several colleagues here on this side of the House. And our government remained missing in action during the inquiry, refusing to appear to provide useful evidence in order to avoid another disaster of the sort. Our government invoked parliamentary privilege to shield itself from transparency. But Ontarians and the people in Ottawa deserve a response.
Why did the government refuse to participate in the inquiry? How are the people supposed to trust a government that is hiding from its duty and responsibilities?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, there were significant representations from the province of Ontario—including, as I mentioned before, the deputy minister. The OPP commissioner was there as well.
I’d remind the member as well that the province of Ontario, and this Legislature, of course, had a select committee which was reviewing the state of emergency here in the province of Ontario throughout the time that the convoy was in Ottawa. That also included the independent members.
But we are looking forward to building a better economy. The world economy has suffered because of COVID, but we know that there are opportunities. That’s why we’re building not only just transit corridors, but we are building roads and highways across the province of Ontario, because as the Minister of Economic Developments brings more jobs and economic opportunity to Ontario, that means we’ve got to get our product to market faster. That’s why we’re building roads, Mr. Speaker. And all the people of the province of Ontario want to participate in a better, stronger, more prosperous Ontario, and we will continue to be focused on doing that as we move forward and—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.
The next question.
Mr. Nolan Quinn: Dedicated parents in my riding of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry are working harder and longer to keep up with the rising cost of living. One cost in particular that has risen over many years in this province is the cost of child care. The previous Liberal government did nothing for nearly 15 years as child care fees, on average, rose over 400% across Ontario—that’s inexcusable. Affordable and accessible child care is needed to support families and maintain consistent economic growth. Nearly a year ago, our province signed an agreement with the federal government to bring urgently needed financial relief.
Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education: Are parents in my riding and across Ontario achieving actual cost savings that will make a difference in their lives?
Hon. Stephen Lecce: I do want to thank the member for Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry for his advocacy as a father and a fighter for affordable child care in this province.
We recognize that, under the former Liberals for over 15 years, child care became totally inaccessible and unattainable. It increased by 400% for an average family in the province. We knew when we came to power, under our Premier’s leadership, that we had to act to make life more affordable for working parents. We signed a deal—a better deal—with the federal government, and I’m proud, Speaker, to confirm that, as of January 1 of this year, child care fees have been reduced by 50%, on average, saving anywhere between $6,000 to $12,000 a year per child. That is a massive step forward to the affordability program and agenda our government has undertaken for the coming year. We know there’s more to do; it’s why we continue to provide relief.
Mr. Speaker, we’re going to increase spaces while we decrease costs and help families across this province.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Nolan Quinn: Thank you to the minister for the response. While affordability in child care is absolutely critical, accessibility is equally important. Families across our province, including in my riding, are facing unacceptable wait times to access child care where they live. This is particularly true in rural and remote areas across Ontario. As our population continues to grow, our government needs to assure families that the number of child care spaces will also increase, ensuring easier access to child care. Operators across our province need to be supported in their efforts to expand their services.
Speaker, back to the Minister of Education: What is our government’s plan to increase access to affordable child care for parents in Ontario?
Hon. Stephen Lecce: Again, thank you to the member for this question. We know that we need to build more spaces to meet the rising demand in our province for families who are looking for affordable child care in their communities. In too many small towns, rural communities, remote parts of our province in the north and, increasingly, even in suburban communities and urban communities, families under the former government have had to wait years on a wait-list—unacceptable.
Our government undertook a plan, which we’ve implemented, to make fees much more affordable—a 50% reduction to date as of January 1—with a commitment to build spaces. We’ve announced, together with the Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity, a plan to build 53,000 net new spaces. That’s going to mean, in Peel, 7,000 more spaces; in Simcoe, 3,000 more spaces; in the member’s riding, another 465 for Cornwall; another 827 for Hastings; and 715 for Brantford. We are making this a reality by building spaces and reducing fees, helping families across this province.
Public Order Emergency Commission report
Ms. Chandra Pasma: Last week, the Public Order Emergency Commission confirmed what Ottawa residents already knew: that in the midst of the crisis last year, the Premier and his ministers abandoned us. One section of the report says it all, Speaker: “Ontario’s Absence.”
Justice Rouleau noted that the situation could have been resolved earlier, but the Premier refused to engage and repeatedly tried to shift his responsibility to others. Will the Premier finally take responsibility now, a year later, and apologize to the people of Ottawa?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: As I’ve said on a number of occasions, the report is quite clear that the OPP were on the ground and were prepared to assist, and, in fact, were providing information to the Ottawa Police Service. But I think there are some lessons to be learned with respect to how we communicate with each other, be it the OPP, the Parliamentary Protective Service, the RCMP and the Ottawa Police Service, in the future.
Again, we are looking forward. We have not stopped doing that, really. We’re building a bigger, better, stronger Ontario for all of the people of the province of Ontario. I look at the investments, in particular, that we are making in Ottawa, the health care investments that the Minister of Health has brought to Ottawa: the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario; the Civic. These are billions of dollars of investments to bring Ottawa’s health care system up to date.
Add on to that the investments that we’re making in long-term care in Ottawa. Go further than that, Mr. Speaker: the investments that the minister of colleges is making, and the fact that we have brought back thousands of jobs in the automotive sector, which means that the high-tech sector of Ottawa can participate in building the cars and vehicles of tomorrow. Good news for Ottawa—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
The supplementary question: The member for Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Joel Harden: Back to the Premier—I really hope the Premier himself will answer the question that my colleague just posed.
Look, I think one of the biggest things we can do in politics sometimes—and it’s not easy—is to admit when we’re wrong, and we now have a federal commission that said a few embarrassing things about this government. It said that the Solicitor General said, in response to the public safety minister requesting a meeting, “You’re not my effing boss.” That was act number one.
The mayor of Ottawa asked the Premier, “Will you please come to these meetings with your political colleagues?”, and the Premier said, “It’s not worth my time.”
And then, to add insult to injury, when Justice Rouleau asked this government, asked the Premier, asked then-Solicitor General Jones to come to Ottawa to appear before the commission, they invoked parliamentary privilege and ran and hid.
Now is your opportunity to turn the page. It’s our first day back. Acknowledge you made a mistake. Apologize to the people of Ottawa.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, again, the report highlights quite effectively the work that was being done by the Ontario Provincial Police to help provide information. In fact, the OPP had started a couple of years earlier accumulating information and providing that information, not only to the Ottawa Police Service but to many other police forces around the province of Ontario.
I know many of the opposition members seem to be suggesting that there should be greater debate with respect to who directs the police in times of emergencies, whether it should be politicians or it should be the police themselves. That is a debate that the opposition is welcome to bring forward.
But we are moving forward in building a better Ontario. Many of the people of this province suffered during COVID, and we want to make sure that, as we put COVID behind us, we build a strong economy, where all Ontarians can participate. Whether that is building thousands of new houses so that people can afford to buy their first home, whether it is the work that is being done by economic development—the agriculture minister who, for the first time, is putting agriculture to the top of the list, because we understand—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
The next question.
Mr. Stephen Blais: It’s nice to finally be back. My question is for the Premier. Mr. Speaker, perhaps the most important priority any government should have is the health of the citizens that it represents, and a critical element of maintaining good health is regular access to your family doctor or other primary care professionals. Right now, here in Ontario, there are 2.2 million Ontarians without access to a family doctor. That’s almost 15% of the population, and it’s up from 1.8 million just a few years ago. Too many of our neighbours, parents and grandparents, fathers and mothers, don’t have access to primary care. Too many children don’t have access.
We’re hearing a lot of talk about big plans to reform the health system. What we haven’t heard is how this is going to help Ontarians access primary care. So what is the Premier’s government going to do to ensure that these 2.2 million Ontarians can access the important and often life-saving care from family doctors, nurse practitioners and other front-line health practitioners?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the Minister of Health.
Hon. Sylvia Jones: I absolutely agree: Primary care is the foundation of our health care system here in Ontario. I want to remind the member opposite that since 2018, we have in fact added 1,800 family doctors to the province of Ontario.
Now, we are not done, of course, because if we were done, we wouldn’t be building two new medical schools in the province of Ontario: one in Scarborough and one in Brampton. That is a historic investment, and an acknowledgement, frankly, that we need to build a health care system that is going to be there for an expanded population, for an aging population, to make sure that they get that foundation of a primary care physician. That will ultimately add to all of the clinical pieces we are building to make sure we have sufficient surgical units, that we have sufficient diagnostic units, that we have sufficient nurses and personal support workers.
We get it. We are making the investments, and you see that as recently as last month, when—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.
The supplementary question.
Mr. Stephen Blais: My supplementary is also for the Premier. Since 2018, more Ontarians are lacking access to a family doctor, not fewer Ontarians. Like every other part of the province, the shortage of family doctors is having a profound impact on my own hometown, in Ottawa. Ottawa Public Health estimates that some 150,000 Ottawa residents don’t have access to primary care, and OPH admits that this number could be wildly underestimated.
The problem is only getting worse. In the first six months of the pandemic, twice as many family physicians stopped work completely compared to trends from the previous decade. In Orléans, several family doctors have announced that they are closing their practices later this spring. Some of these are very young doctors, Mr. Speaker. They’re not closing due to retirement; they’re closing because of the challenges within the health care system and the lack of support from this government. This is leaving potentially thousands more residents in the lurch without primary care.
A group of community leaders and not-for-profit groups are coming together to explore the creation of a community health centre for Orléans and for east Ottawa. Will the government support the creation of a new community health centre in east Ottawa to provide primary care to these residents?
Hon. Sylvia Jones: I look forward to the proposal being brought forward for a community health centre. There is no doubt that we have seen a very successful model where clinicians—whether they are dietitians, mental health workers, nurses, nurse practitioners or physicians—coming together in those multidisciplinary clinics actually works very well, so I look forward to that proposal.
But I have to ask, with the greatest of respect: Did the member opposite vote for or against building two new medical schools in the province of Ontario? Did the member opposite vote for or against capital investments of over 50 new or expanded hospitals? Did the member opposite vote for or against when we actually have expanded primary care clinics and nurse practitioner-led clinics? Did the member opposite vote for or against? I know the answer.
Ms. Patrice Barnes: For far too long, Ontario’s transportation network was neglected under the previous Liberal government. Ongoing failures under their leadership led to increased costs for riders and less service in accessing communities in our province. This is unacceptable. Our government needs to take urgent action to make public transit easier and more convenient for the people in my riding.
As a government, we need to ensure that we are helping individuals and families get to work, school and appointments easily, more safely and more reliably. Can the Associate Minister of Transportation please share with the House what our government is doing to make it more convenient to take transit?
Hon. Stan Cho: Thank you to the member from Ajax for the question and for her endless work on behalf of her constituents.
I’m glad to inform the member that unlike the Liberals, our government is delivering for riders by bringing Presto into the modern era. Our government introduced the credit card tap payment feature on Presto for GO, Brampton, MiWay and Oakville transit riders in August of last year, and it was met with terrific success.
I’m pleased to inform the House that just last month, on January 23, we extended this credit card tap payment feature for riders in York, Burlington, Hamilton and in the member’s own riding of Durham. The credit card tap system is fantastic news for transit riders, because Presto is simply a game-changer when you modernize it. The fact is that eight participating agencies means that 700,000 taps have been used with credit cards on these transit agencies, and achieving this milestone so quickly, Speaker, demonstrates that our government is delivering transit improvements that riders want and enjoy. By improving this Presto system, we’re getting it done for riders.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Ms. Patrice Barnes: Thank you to the associate minister for his response. It was a pleasure to join you for that announcement.
The people of my riding were left behind under the previous Liberal government when it came to transit investments. Making public transit more accessible for the people of Ajax and all residents of Durham region and beyond needs to be a priority for our government. As a government, we need to ensure that transit is easier to take, more flexible and convenient for everyone. Reducing barriers to getting on the bus, especially for new users, means greater transit use, less emissions and a greener province.
Speaker, can the Associate Minister of Transportation elaborate further on what our government is doing to deliver on transit?
Hon. Stan Cho: The member is right. After 15 years of zero action from the NDP and Liberals, our transit system is not where it needs to be. That’s why our government is improving the rider experience with a refined Presto system.
Our government is now building on our introduction of credit card tap features across the rest of the 905. In fact, Speaker, we are working to implement debit tap card payment capabilities at each of these 905 transit agencies that currently accept the credit card payment feature.
What’s more, Speaker, Metrolinx, on behalf of our government, is working with the TTC to update Presto devices so that both credit and debit payments can be brought to the largest transit agency in our country for Toronto riders.
We’re not going to stop until we connect the whole grid with these payment options so that commuters can conveniently get to work, to school, wherever they need to be. Unlike the opposition, Speaker, our government is turning Presto around and providing a modern fare system that works today and for generations to come.
Fire services / Services d’incendie
Mr. Guy Bourgouin: Ma question est pour le premier ministre. On January 28, the community of Weenusk tragically lost its fourth resident due to a house fire. Sadly, this time it was a 10-year-old child. My sincere condolences go out to the family and the community.
This tragedy occurred because the community does not have proper firefighting equipment and no fire department. How is this even possible? This is a fundamental necessity to protect and save lives.
The community is asking the government for help. They have a fire truck waiting in Winnipeg. They need infrastructure. Monsieur le Premier Ministre, what will your government do to help this community to ensure history does not repeat itself?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the Minister of Northern Development.
Hon. Greg Rickford: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and we pay our respects to the community and the event there. Similarly, Shoal Lake 40, a First Nations community in my riding, had an experience, a fire that occurred in the community on February 11.
There is no question, Mr. Speaker, to the member’s point, that fire preparedness and readiness has been a long-standing issue on reserve. I have notified the Chief in Shoal Lake 40 of our preparedness to support them moving forward and to take a look at options that the province can do to support efforts by the federal government to ensure that fire safety and the equipment necessary to enforce that or to bring that to a community is put in place. It’s time.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Guy Bourgouin: I appreciate the minister’s response. But two years prior to this, the same community had a fire and we brought it to his attention. My colleague from Kiiwetinoong has mentioned many times fires in communities. I ask again the question: What will your government do to protect these communities—these isolated communities—so that it doesn’t take a tragedy to make sure that we address the fundamental needs of a community to protect?
In Kiiwetinoong, the house was at the corner where the fire station would be. We have a sitting fire truck in Winnipeg. And we say we talked to the federal—well I think we have a responsibility as a province to make sure that we protect the First Nations community. So I ask again: What will your government do to protect these communities?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the Solicitor General.
Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: Our hearts go out with communities that have lost loved ones. This is absolutely the case. But the Office of the Fire Marshal will support enhancements to public safety in all of Ontario, particularly northern Ontario.
I have remained in close contact with Indigenous provincial and federal partners to ensure that First Nations communities across our province have the support they need. Pour moi, en tant que solliciteur général, rien n’est plus important que la sécurité de notre province.
Child and family services
Mr. Kevin Holland: My question is for the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. All women and children in Ontario deserve to live without the threat of violence. Sadly, incidents involving human trafficking in women fleeing abuse occur in our province. Many women who leave these circumstances often face challenges in finding support. These obstacles are more pronounced in rural and remote parts of Ontario, where distances make accessing resources extremely difficult.
Everyone has the right to be safe. As a government. we are responsible for directly addressing this issue. What is our government doing to support these women and children?
Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: I’d like to thank the member for Thunder Bay–Atikokan for the question—a very important question. Our government believes that everyone has a right to feel safe and to be safe, and we believe that no matter where you live, access to support and services should be available for the victims of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation, so we acted. We invested up to $6.5 million in support so survivors can access the services and supports they need to heal and rebuild their lives, and to get their children access to the early intervention they need to heal from experiencing and seeing violence at young age.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): And the supplementary question.
Mr. Kevin Holland: Thank you to the minister for her response. All governments must respond to the reality that victims of violence and human trafficking from smaller communities face unique challenges. That difference is especially stark in northern Ontario, where support services may be a great distance from where victims live. Despite this, access to these supports and timely and effective care in rural, remote and northern communities should not be overlooked. All governments need to take action to break down barriers, so women who have experienced violence can receive the help they need, no matter where they live in Ontario.
Speaker, how is our government ensuring appropriate funding for women in rural, remote and northern communities?
Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Thank you to the member for Thunder Bay–Atikokan for the supplementary question. This funding includes up to $3.6 million dedicated to front-line agencies in rural and remote communities, so they can strengthen culturally responsive supports for Indigenous women and reduce barriers for survivors of violence and human trafficking, for example by providing transportation to and from counselling and legal appointments. This includes supports for First Nations organizations like the Ontario Native Women’s Association, and for community-based organizations like New Starts for Women in Red Lake and le centre pour femmes Ellevive in Timmins.
Under the Premier’s leadership, we are ensuring that timely intervention and diverse care is available to help survivors where and when they need it.
MPP Jill Andrew: In September 2015, Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kukyk and Nathalie Warmerdam were murdered by a man in Renfrew county. The perpetrator knew all three women.
Their tragic murders led to the Renfrew county inquest, which last June made 86 specific and concrete recommendations to prevent intimate partner violence. The very first recommendation is to identify the problem and declare intimate partner violence an epidemic. Will the Premier accept the first recommendation from the Renfrew county inquest and declare intimate partner violence an epidemic?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the Solicitor General.
Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: I want to thank the member for the question. My thoughts continue to be with the victims’ families and friends, and all those who were impacted by this tragedy. Everyone has a right to live safely and with dignity and free of intimidation and threat of violence.
Over the past six months, provincial ministries have reviewed the jury’s recommendations. The work needed to understand, assess and plan for the recommendations is complex and must be done with care and attention. As the relevant ministries work to provide the Office of the Chief Coroner with an update on these recommendations, we’re committed to breaking the cycle of intimate partner violence and supporting survivors to help keep our communities safe. I look forward to a completed review and recommendations before the summer.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question?
MPP Jill Andrew: The government did not answer the question. One murder is too many. Since 1990, nearly 1,000 women in Ontario have been victims of femicide. Indigenous, Black, trans and rural women are disproportionately vulnerable. Some 68 of the inquest recommendations are for this province, therefore the government’s responsibility. These are key to supporting rural communities, where supports for victims of intimate partner violence are desperately inadequate.
I’ll ask the government again: Will they implement the first recommendation and name intimate partner violence what it is, an epidemic? And furthermore, will they do recommendation number 4 and create the role of an independent survivor advocate to advocate on behalf of survivors and their experience in the justice system?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity to reply.
Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: The member opposite is right: One death is too many. That’s why I’m proud that our government recently endorsed the release of Canada’s first National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. Ontario led the approach in forwarding the national action plan to the FPT forum of justice ministers with a written request that they commit to taking further action to improve justice system responses, including holding perpetrators and offenders accountable.
In addition, our government has recently invested up to $3.6 million this year to support survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence in rural and remote communities. On February 10, the government provided part 1 of Ontario’s response to the Office of the Chief Coroner, and this response reflects the progress made so far.
We will continue to work across government to provide an update and comprehensive response in the future.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Ottawa–Vanier has a point of order.
Mme Lucille Collard: I am seeking the unanimous consent of the House that, notwithstanding standing order 40(e), five minutes be allotted to the independent members as a group to respond to the ministerial statements this afternoon.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Ottawa–Vanier is seeking the unanimous consent of the House that, notwithstanding standing order 40(e), five minutes be allotted to the independent members as a group to respond to the ministerial statements this afternoon. Agreed? Agreed.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Mississauga–Malton has a point of order.
Mr. Deepak Anand: Mr. Speaker, with utmost pleasure, I want to share the joy of something I have been waiting for for over four years: to welcome my brother, Shalinder Anand, and his lovely wife, Sweety Anand, visiting for the first time this House of responsibility. Remarks in Punjabi. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): There being no further business this morning, this House stands in recess until 3 p.m.
The House recessed from 1209 to 1500.
Introduction of Visitors
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): We have with us today, in the Speaker’s gallery, a delegation of first- and second-tour officers from the United States Consulate General in Toronto, led by Ms. Susan Crystal, who is the consul general for the United States in Toronto. Please join me in warmly welcoming our guests to the Legislative Assembly today.
Ms. Chandra Pasma: Speaker, I would like to welcome three Western students to the House this afternoon: Chanel Parikh, Basma Mustafa and Opeyemi Dinah, who are participating in the Women in House initiative and are shadowing me this afternoon, along with Karissa Singh, an OLIP intern in my office and an integral part of my office for the past few months.
Welcome to the people’s House.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Introduction of visitors? The member for Windsor–Tecumseh.
Mr. Andrew Dowie: Thank you, Speaker—and I might be jumping ahead a little bit, but I do want to welcome the family of former MPP Mike Ray to the House. I know you’ll be identifying them later on.
Ms. Stephanie Bowman: I would like to welcome Lara Suleiman and Sofia Ouslis from Western University, my alma mater, who are joining me today from the University Students’ Council’s Women in House initiative that sends students to shadow a female MPP. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: I, too, would like to welcome three students from the Women in House program, Gia, Iris and Sarah, who are here to learn about our parliamentary democracy and who will be shadowing me today. Welcome to the House.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Haldimand–Norfolk.
Ms. Bobbi Ann Brady: Thank you, Speaker. There’s a bit of a theme. I’d like to welcome Joy Chen and Shreya Menon from Western University Students’ Council’s Women in House, who are also shadowing me this afternoon.
Reports by Committees
Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs and move its adoption.
The Clerk of the Committee (Ms. Valerie Quioc Lim): Your committee begs to report the following the bill without amendment:
Bill 46, An Act to enact one Act and amend various other Acts / Projet de loi 46, Loi visant à édicter une loi et à modifier diverses autres lois.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Agreed.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The bill is therefore ordered for third reading.
Standing Committee on Public Accounts
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I beg leave to present a report on Value-for-Money Audit: Condominium Oversight in Ontario, 2020 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and move the adoption of its recommendations.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mr. Rakocevic has presented the committee’s report and moves the adoption of its recommendations.
Does the member wish to make a brief statement?
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I do, Speaker.
As Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, I’m pleased to table these four reports today.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the permanent membership of the committee and substitute members who participated in the public hearings and report-writing process. The committee extends its appreciation to officials from all of the ministries and agencies who participated in these respective hearings. The committee also acknowledges the assistance provided during the hearings and report-writing deliberations by the Office of the Auditor General, the Clerk of the Committee and legislative research.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mr. Rakocevic has moved the adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Standing Committee on Public Accounts
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I beg leave to present a report on Value-for-Money Audit: COVID-19 Economic Response and Supports for Businesses, 2021 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and move the adoption of its recommendations.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mr. Rakocevic presents the committee’s report and moves the adoption of its recommendations.
Does the member wish to make a brief statement?
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I do not. I move adjournment of the debate.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Standing Committee on Public Accounts
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I beg leave to present a report on Value-for-Money Audit: COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment Supply, 2021 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and move the adoption of its recommendations.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mr. Rakocevic has presented the committee’s report and moves the adoption of its recommendations.
Does the member wish to make a brief statement?
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I move adjournment of the debate.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Standing Committee on Public Accounts
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: As you all sit expectantly on the edge of your seats, I beg leave to present a report on Value-for-Money Audit: Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, 2021 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and move the adoption of its recommendations.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mr. Rakocevic presents the committee’s report and moves the adoption of its recommendations.
Does the member wish to make a brief statement?
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I move adjournment of the debate.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carryx? Carried.
Introduction of Government Bills
Your Health Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 concernant votre santé
Ms. Jones moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 60, An Act to amend and enact various Acts with respect to the health system / Projet de loi 60, Loi visant à modifier et à édicter diverses lois en ce qui concerne le système de santé.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): It is the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
First reading agreed to.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I will invite the minister to make a brief statement explaining her bill.
Hon. Sylvia Jones: This legislation will support the implementation of the Your Health plan by first establishing a new legislative framework to support the expansion of surgical surgeries in the community. It will also enable Canadian registered health professionals to practise in Ontario immediately, without waiting for registration with the relevant college. It will allow pharmacists to independently initiate prescriptions based on the pharmacist’s own assessment of a patient’s health when providing medication therapies. And, finally, it will enhance privacy obligations for external data indicators and facilitate safe interaction of de-identified health administrative data across the system.
Introduction of Bills
Making Psychotherapy Services Tax-Free Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 pour des services de psychothérapie exempts de taxes
MPP Andrew moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 61, An Act in respect of the tax treatment of psychotherapy services provided by certain practitioners in Ontario under the Psychotherapy Act, 2007 / Projet de loi 61, Loi concernant le traitement fiscal des services de psychothérapie offerts par certains praticiens en Ontario en application de la Loi de 2007 sur les psychothérapeutes.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): It is the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
First reading agreed to.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’ll invite the member to make a brief statement explaining the bill.
MPP Jill Andrew: Mental health care is health care, and it should be part of medicare. It must be made accessible to all those in need of it when they need it, regardless of their financial situation, especially as we’ve seen spikes in depression, anxiety, eating disorders, evictions and other mental health challenges during the pandemic and as a response to the pressures of the affordability crisis and the trauma of systemic discrimination. Here in Ontario, every Ontarian should be able to access mental health supports with their health card and not their credit card.
My bill, Making Psychotherapy Services Tax-Free Act, 2023, co-sponsored by our fantastic health critic, the MPP for Nickel Belt, will immediately remove the 13% HST tax from registered psychotherapy services as a critical, cost-saving first step and an immediate change this government can make to move our province in the right direction towards mental health care being fully incorporated into our publicly funded health care system.
Farmland and Arable Land Strategy Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 sur la stratégie en matière de terres agricoles et de terres arables
Ms. Brady moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 62, An Act to provide for the development of a farmland and arable land strategy and an advisory committee on farmland and arable land / Projet de loi 62, Loi prévoyant l’élaboration d’une stratégie en matière de terres agricoles et de terres arables et la création d’un comité consultatif des terres agricoles et des terres arables.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
First reading agreed to.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Would the member care to briefly explain her bill?
Ms. Bobbi Ann Brady: The act requires the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to develop a strategic action plan that aims to protect Ontario’s farmland and arable land from development, aggregate mining and the effects of fluctuating commodity prices and the availability of vacant land. The minister is required to engage in consultations when developing the strategy and must prepare a report setting out the strategy within nine months after the act receives royal assent.
The act also establishes the Farmland and Arable Land Advisory Committee, whose mandate is to provide advice and recommendations to the minister that aim to prevent further land degradation in order to protect farmland and arable land for generations to come and ensure short-term and long-term food security for Ontario.
Farmland and arable land is productive, valuable and essential, but most importantly, it is finite and non-renewable. This is an important consideration in the face of increasing pressure to develop housing in Ontario.
1753461 Ontario Ltd. Act, 2023
Mr. Vanthof moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill Pr14, An Act to revive 1753461 Ontario Ltd.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
First reading agreed to.
Statements by the Ministry and Responses
Black History Month
Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: I want to thank my colleague the Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, who is also going to be speaking about this very important topic.
I’m pleased to have the opportunity to recognize Black History Month in the House today. This is a time to celebrate the many contributions Black Ontarians have made to this great province and to have important conversations about issues affecting the Black community. I’ve been honoured to participate in numerous special events over the last few weeks to mark this month and bring greetings on behalf of our government. As a Black woman, Black MPP and Black member of cabinet, I am a voice for the community in my constituency, here in the Legislature and across the province.
The Black community is an integral part of the rich cultural fabric of this province and of our history. In fact, this province is home to more than half of the total Black population in Canada. While close to half of Ontario’s Black population were born in Canada, the other half hail from an astounding 150 different countries. What an incredible wealth of diversity this brings—from art and storytelling to music and dance, to food, traditions, history and academia, and so much more. African Canadian culture has truly contributed to Ontario’s cultural fabric at large. That is something we should be very proud of.
For the Black Ontarians born here, their perspectives are just as valuable. Whether descended from past immigrants who made the journey to this province from around the world or descended from the former slaves who found freedom here after arriving via the Underground Railroad, all are a part of our history and contribute to making Ontario the vibrant place that it is today.
Like my family, many Black people immigrated to Canada seeking employment opportunities and a chance to put roots down in this beautiful country and province we all call home.
As we reflect on the contributions Black Ontarians have made to this province, the examples are countless. There are, of course, the well-known icons, such as the Honourable Lincoln Alexander or Michael Lutrell, a.k.a. “Pinball” Clemons, for instance. But there are also many who are not well known. Yet those quiet contributions have made a difference in the lives of those around them and in their communities, like Myrna Adams, VP of CARP and seniors’ advocate, or Quentin VerCetty, a multi-award-winning Afrofuturist artist responsible for the bust of the Honourable Lincoln Alexander.
From Black youth workers and mentors to coaches and educators, to community volunteers and caregivers, there are a host of role models in communities across the province who are setting strong examples and inspiring Black children and youth each day, like Skye and Orlando Bowen, a power couple advocating for equity and inclusion and elevating the voices of youth, or Obioma Dike, who supports young people along their entire apprenticeship journey to ensure they are successful.
As we recognize all of these contributions, Black History Month is also a time to reflect on the injustices and inequities the community has faced throughout history, some of which continue to this day. Acknowledging that there is still a lot of work to be done in this province to overcome racism and discrimination is an important step to achieving equity for all Ontarians.
I am proud of the work our government is doing to combat racism and hate and remove barriers to create an equitable Ontario.
As the Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity, I see first-hand the barriers that many women face in achieving financial independence—and these barriers are even greater for Black women.
Mr. Speaker, as we near the end of Black History Month, I encourage all Ontarians to join members of this House in paying tribute to our fellow Black Ontarians. We do have much to celebrate. But we also must renew our individual and professional commitments to removing barriers so we can create an equitable Ontario that celebrates our differences and our vibrant communities.
Instead of seeing differences as a hindrance, we must draw strength from our different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Because when we work together, we are stronger.
I am a Black woman in a leadership role with a voice at the table. I am an example of what can happen when people are given opportunities.
I thank the Premier for his leadership and commitment to seeing this government reflect our province.
To every young Black person watching this today: If you can see me, you can be me. You are strong, and your voice is important, and you are powerful beyond measure.
Happy Black History Month.
Hon. Michael D. Ford: Thank you to my colleague the Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity for her incredibly powerful words—and I truly can’t say it better myself here.
I am both humbled and appreciative for the opportunity to rise in the House today to celebrate Black History Month.
Black history is Ontario’s history. During Black History Month, we take time to pause, to recognize and celebrate Black history, culture and individuals whose achievements have played a vital role in making Ontario what it is today.
From the arts and sciences to sports, medicine, business and politics, Ontario has been home to generations of Black leaders who excelled in every field in communities right across our great province—as said earlier, from Lincoln Alexander to Jean Augustine, the first Black man and woman to be elected to the House of Commons and to serve in cabinet; to Doug Salmon, the first Black surgeon in our country; to Wes Hall, a renowned innovator, entrepreneur and philanthropist; to Tajon Buchanan, Derek Cornelius, Jonathan David, Junior Hoilett, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Cyle Larin, Richie Laryea, Kamal Miller and Dayne St. Clair from the men’s national soccer team who proudly represented our nation on the world stage last year at the FIFA World Cup.
Looking around this room and in this Parliament, we have remarkable Black leaders on both sides of the aisle, including my government colleagues the associate minister from Brampton Centre and the members from Ajax and Scarborough Centre. Collectively, these members have served their communities in many different ways over the years and continue to use their voice to advocate for their constituents, for Black communities and for the people of Ontario here at Queen’s Park.
These are just some examples of Black Ontarians who have inspired their communities, myself and people across our great province.
But as the associate minister said earlier, there are also many who are not well known, yet whose quiet but mighty contributions have made a big difference in the lives of those around them and in their communities; for example, organizations like the Early Childhood Development Initiative in my riding of York South-Weston, who are doing incredible work to support Black children and families in our communities—and I was proud to have them in the Legislature today.
There is an organization in Windsor that is connecting Black youth to academic supports, career exploration and mental health resources.
There are historical societies that are actively preserving and showcasing the stories of Black Ontarians, from their journey to Ontario and their lived experiences upon arrival.
I also know an organization in Ottawa that is empowering Black entrepreneurs through mentorship, networking and supports.
Ontario’s strength is in our diversity. Ontario is stronger because of the hard work, dedication and resilience that Black Ontarians have shown and continue to show each and every day.
The theme of this year’s Black History Month is “Ours to Tell.” While we take pride in the many ways Black Ontarians have strengthened communities, schools, workplaces and all aspects of society, we have the responsibility to listen, learn and further our collective understanding of Black history and the lived experiences of Black Ontarians, both past and in the present.
Today, challenges and barriers that Black Ontarians face are still ever-present, and it’s important that we as a province and a society acknowledge that anti-Black racism and injustice still exist today.
There remains much more to do and much more to learn, but our government and I stand shoulder to shoulder with Ontario’s Black communities, to move forward and continue the ongoing work to recover, build bridges and fight anti-Black racism head-on, not just throughout Black History Month, but every day. The work does not stop on February 28.
Let us all recommit ourselves to being allies and partners in supporting the Black community, now and well into the future. I know that when we work together, we can do anything. Together, we will build a stronger Ontario and a better and brighter future not just for Black Ontarians, but for all Ontarians.
Human trafficking / Traite des personnes
Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Tomorrow is Human Trafficking Awareness Day—a day dedicated to better understanding the warning signs and how we can help victims and survivors when and where they need it. This vicious crime creates lasting emotional, physical, spiritual and mental trauma for victims and survivors. We know that human trafficking poses a real and growing threat to the children and youth of our province.
That’s why, in 2020, our government released a comprehensive, five-year strategy to combat this crime. Our $307-million strategy includes actions across government to raise awareness, interrupt supply, protect victims, support survivors, and hold offenders accountable for their crimes. It is the largest total investment in dedicated anti-human trafficking services and supports in the country.
Today, with my colleague the Solicitor General, we will be sharing some of our government’s progress on delivering that strategy. A key focus is protecting children and youth from sex trafficking, as they are among those most vulnerable to being targeted by traffickers.
In 2021, as part of our strategy, we launched a new model of intervention called Children at Risk of Exploitation Units, or CARE units, with an investment of $11.5 million over three years. These specialized teams pair police officers and child protection workers to proactively identify children and youth at risk of being sex-trafficked and connect them to resources they need. These units have already had life-changing impacts on vulnerable young people. Over six months last year, CARE units had 319 interactions with children and youth suspected of being trafficked. They supported 27 human trafficking investigations, and 77 criminal charges were laid as a result of this work. This new approach has resulted in successful interventions with children—some younger than 12 years old—who were at risk. The success of these units is based on their collaborative approach. CARE unit members have built relationships with children who sometimes have no one else who can understand their trauma.
Another highlight of our work over the past year has been the delivery of cross-sector anti-human trafficking training. This training is designed for front-line professionals most likely to encounter children and youth who are being sex-trafficked, who have been trafficked in the past, or who are at risk. It is an intensive training program that equips participants with the knowledge to better identify suspected instances of human trafficking, including how to respond and support victims. It is also survivor-centred, involving individuals with lived experience at every stage, from development to delivery, as leaders of the training. And 95% of those who have taken this intensive training have said that they felt better equipped with the knowledge and skills to understand, identify and appropriately respond to human trafficking.
Finally, I’d like to mention another community-based service being delivered as part of our strategy and the difference it is making. The Ontario Native Women’s Association is one of the organizations being funded under our strategy to deliver community supports. Over the last year, they helped 316 individuals exit from being trafficked. They connected with more than 5,800 individuals to provide resources and support through street-based outreach work, and they have delivered training and educational programs to more than 5,600 people.
The examples I’ve shared today speak to the results that we have achieved by working with partners to deliver Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy. I am proud that these initiatives are having an impact, and I am grateful to everyone who is taking part.
But there is a role we can all play in stopping human trafficking.
I would like to encourage all members of this House to take the time to learn the signs of human trafficking and exploitation by visiting ontario.ca/humantrafficking. Together, we can make our communities safer places and help victims and those at risk be connected to the supports that they need.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Solicitor General.
Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: Thank you, Minister Fullerton.
Today is a day for Ontarians to stand up to deliver a powerful message that trafficking in all of its forms is a vicious and violent crime that must be brought to an end. Human trafficking can prey on anyone, and especially society’s most vulnerable. Tragically, this largely includes young girls, those trapped in poverty and Indigenous women.
It is our duty to act decisively and effectively to protect everyone from exploitation. As a government, as a provincial Parliament, we have a shared duty to protect our communities. We must continue to do what is hard to keep Ontario safe.
Monsieur le Président, nous devons continuer à faire ce qui est difficile : assurer la sécurité de l’Ontario.
Today is a day of reflection. Moreover, it’s a day of action.
The Ministry of the Solicitor General, the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services worked together to develop Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy. We are investing $307 million in this comprehensive strategy. It brings together community advocates, social services, health care providers, law enforcement, and justice partners. This is all with the shared goal of raising awareness, protecting victims, supporting survivors, and holding offenders accountable—a comprehensive strategy made stronger with the passing of the government’s Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021. I want to recognize my predecessor, the Deputy Premier, for shepherding this important legislation through the House.
Speaking as the Solicitor General on behalf of law enforcement and the justice sector, Ontario has the range of tools needed to improve our ability to identify perpetrators, intercept human trafficking networks, and bring criminals to justice. We are making good use of these tools. This is particularly evident when you consider advancements in training, intelligence gathering, and community grants.
Well-trained police officers are critical to our government’s anti-trafficking strategy. Police officers must be trained in early-detection techniques, effective anti-trafficking investigations, prevention, and how to approach and support the victims.
The Ontario Police College, for example, has greatly enhanced its human trafficking investigation course. Participants there learn about various types of human trafficking, vulnerable groups, trafficker profiles, indicators and how the sex trade is intricately linked to sex trafficking.
I want to give a special mention to a wonderful advocate I’ve met: Timea Nagy. A survivor of human trafficking herself and founder of Timea’s Cause, she and a dedicated team of volunteers and professionals have worked hand in hand with Peel Regional Police to develop tailored, anti-human trafficking training for over 2,200 officers.
Mr. Speaker, traffickers may operate in the shadows, but they can’t operate without leaving footprints. Transportation, advertising, accommodations and other costs of doing business all leave a trail.
Intelligence gathering and the free flow of information between jurisdictions is critical to the success of closing down human trafficking rings and bringing criminals to justice. We have increased intelligence gathering and investigative capacity to identify, monitor and target human traffickers and support the victims. To this end, I want to recognize the dedicated agents of the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, who I’ve had the chance to meet working with law enforcement across Ontario.
Mr. Speaker, I’ve talked about law enforcement response to end human trafficking. But our communities, schools and especially social media platforms are recruiting grounds for human traffickers. Cybercrime presents an additional threat that we must continue to combat—and to address this, our ministry is investing over $21 million over three years for this initiative. As a noteworthy example, this fall I joined the Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, the Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity, and my own parliamentary assistant, the MPP for Etobicoke–Lakeshore—at that time, I announced our government’s latest investment, through the Safer and Vital Communities Grant. We’re funding partnerships between community organizations and local police services to develop resources, enhance outreach, and boost education, with the objective of preventing local residents from becoming victims.
Mr. Speaker, on this National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, I want to recognize all first responders, social workers, health and mental care professionals, and everyday citizens who help us take a stand against human trafficking and deliver support for its victims. These are incredible people who support their communities every day.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Responses?
Black History Month
MPP Jill Andrew: Speaker, I rise today as a member of the official opposition and as the first queer Black person to be elected to the Ontario Legislature. But make no mistake: I stand on the shoulders of former honourable members like Zanana Akande, Lincoln Alexander and Alvin Curling, to name a few.
The government has done a good job talking about Black history, so I’m going to talk about Black present and future.
Black communities, along with Indigenous and racialized communities, have been on the front lines of this most recent health care crisis. And I want everyone in Ontario to be reminded that this government has, frankly, disrespected predominantly Black women—the PSWs, the nurses, the very front-line health care workers this government has refused to respect, protect and pay what they’re worth, through their callous Bill 124.
Black History Month is an opportunity for this government to make systemic changes to allow for social, cultural and economic progress of Black folks here in Ontario, and it cannot stop after February. Doing right by Black folks in Ontario means listening to Black health leaders and recognizing anti-Black racism as a public health crisis—recognize the physical and mental health toll of racism, and legislate policies that create the social and material conditions we need to thrive. It means ensuring the Anti-Racism Directorate is fully funded and collects and transparently shares necessary data to make our lives better. It means overhauling our “justice system” that continues to fail Black Ontarians, and overhauling broken accountability infrastructures like the SIU to finally start addressing anti-Black racism.
I encourage every person in this House to read the report titled Anti-Black Racism in the Criminal Justice System—in policing, the courts, incarceration, and criminal records. I thank the John Howard Society in my riding for their leadership and their scholarship on this and so much more.
Speaker, February is Black History Month, but in this position, we must also take account of Black lives now and what we can do to make them better. It means ensuring Black small business owners and entrepreneurs like my folks in Little Jamaica have meaningful access to financial support and aren’t consistently and disproportionately hit with anti-Black racism when trying to secure capital. It means taking real action to address anti-Black racism in education by developing and implementing mandatory Afrocentric curriculum across Ontario schools—a call me and the member for Kitchener Centre, the Ontario Black History Society and local activists like D. Tyler Robinson have long called for.
I want to thank People for Education, also from my home community, for their leadership. They recently published A Progress Report on Anti-Racism Policy Across Canada. Some key findings:
—64% of Ontario schools reported that their school boards collect race-based and/or demographic student data; 25% were unsure; 7% ain’t collecting anything;
—94% of Ontario’s schools reported providing PD specific to anti-racism and equity, but only 37% reported partnering with community-based orgs in their anti-racism and equity work;
—while 73% of schools reported focusing on anti-racism and equity in their school improvement plan, 26% of school board websites did not mention racism in their equity policies, and only 28% of school boards had an anti-racism policy, strategy or approach; and
—87% Ontario principals identified their racial background as white.
Speaker, children cannot be what they do not see. They need to be reflected in their curriculum, in the caring adults who work in their classrooms, and in the adult leaders in our schools.
These are just a few of the many ways that the government could actually invest in Black lives and legislate liberation, as opposed to oppression on a day-to-day basis—which often happens here in the Legislature.
Finally, I just want to say that schools need to be a place of joy. They need to be a place of self-esteem and confidence-building for all children, including Black students. That means ensuring kids are seeing themselves, ensuring kids are being celebrated, and ensuring, as I said before, that their curriculum is seen and heard.
MPP Jill Andrew: Targets and victims of human trafficking are often trapped in social, economic and physical circumstances that place them closest to the margins of despair.
This government has a track record of not listening to the needs of rape crisis and sexual assault centre front-line staff, and survivors and those living with mental health challenges, among others who are trafficked. Therefore, it is really difficult to stand here today on behalf of the official opposition, recognizing human trafficking day tomorrow, while the government pats themselves on the back but we haven’t seen actual implementation of their plans.
This is the Ford government that dismantled the Ontario violence-against-women round table the moment they took office in 2018, and that began the callous cuts to rape crisis and sexual assault centres and, again, survivors—such as when this government cut survivors’ access to pain-and-suffering funds. Human trafficking is violence against women and children.
This is the Ford government that refuses to forgive human trafficking victims of provincial fines, outstanding OSAP student debt. Wipe these fines clean so they don’t continue to be the victims of financial exploitation, bad credit ratings, and crushing debts caused by their traffickers.
This is the Ford government that was asked to respond within six months to the Renfrew county inquiry recommendations that came out on June 28, 2022—68 of which land squarely on the shoulders of this provincial government—and they missed the deadline. The first of these recommendations was for the government to name intimate partner violence what it is: an epidemic. I asked them to implement this recommendation twice this morning during question period, and the government refused. How can this government pretend to be leading on human trafficking, which disproportionately impacts women and girls, yet they’re unable to name gender-based violence and intimate partner violence—which disproportionately impacts women and girls—an epidemic. It doesn’t make sense.
While your government mulls over these recommendations, more victims are targeted, violated and will die.
If this government wants to eradicate human trafficking—or any other form of violence against women, at that—recognize it as a hate crime. Support the front-line workers—understaffed, underpaid and burnt out. Properly fund the sector with annualized funding. They are direct lifelines for victims, survivors and their families.
All of these solutions and so much more I’ve shared today would actually put us on the right track to eradicating human trafficking as one of many forms of gender-based violence impacting women and children.
Black History Month
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: It is an honour to rise in response to the minister’s statement, on behalf of the people in my riding of Scarborough–Guildwood.
February is Black History Month in Ontario. It is a time when we reflect on the rich 400-year history of Black communities in Ontario and all across Canada. Black history is indeed Canada’s history. Black people have been here and helped shape Canada from the beginning—people like Chloe Cooley, a young Black woman who was enslaved in Upper Canada.
On March 14, 1793, in Queenston, Upper Canada, Chloe Cooley resisted being sold, screaming and struggling to be free as her slave owner was taking her across the Niagara River in a small boat. The witnesses of this public struggle are believed to have contributed to providing testimony about her struggle and her resistance about being sold, and this contributed to the passage of the Act Against Slavery in 1793, which John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada and an abolitionist, was seeking to pass. Chloe Cooley’s public struggle and their witness testimony helped pass this act. The act banned the import of enslaved people to Upper Canada and made the children of enslaved women free when they turned 25. It also provided legal refuge to those fleeing slavery, which provided a safe haven to 30,000 Black Americans seeking freedom in North America.
In marking the significance of this month, we renew our commitment to the ongoing struggle of building an equitable society and future for all.
TAIBU Community Health Centre in my riding is seeking to improve outcomes for Black health. This is something that is extremely important.
Black History Month is a time to commemorate the steadfast perseverance of Black Canadians in the face of systemic discrimination, racism and inequities. We acknowledge that more needs to be done. I was very pleased to hear the minister agree with that.
Canada’s history includes Black history, as our roots have been here since the very beginning, and we ought to recognize it every day of the year. Reflecting on these roots is particularly important in our province that over 630,000 Black people call home. Celebrating Black history is about discovering the rich history of Black people in Ontario and Canada.
I’m pleased that this Legislature unanimously passed the Emancipation Month Act just a year ago. In the words of Amanda Gorman, the American poet, “For there is always light, / if only we’re brave enough to see it, / if only we’re brave enough to be it.” Chloe Cooley was brave enough, and her public struggle and using her voice to resist enslavement helped light a path to freedom for so many here in Canada.
We are celebrating the final year of the International Decade for People of African Descent, from 2015 to 2024, as declared by the United Nations. The purpose of the decade is for Black people to have full inclusion in society, education, employment, justice and health wherever they live. Let us redouble our efforts here in Ontario to ensure that that does happen.
Mme Lucille Collard: I’m responding to the minister’s statement on human trafficking awareness.
We all agree that human trafficking is a despicable crime that is tragically common in Ontario, with 95% of trafficked persons being women, teenagers and marginalized groups, including Indigenous people.
When addressing trafficking, it is critical that we take a holistic approach: (1) We need education programs and community awareness to prevent trafficking, (2) we need enforcement to crack down on it, and (3) we need measures to assist those who have been trafficked.
Unfortunately, we often focus specifically on law enforcement approaches to trafficking instead of addressing every aspect of this vile crime. Prevention is an essential component of the fight against human trafficking. We must adequately educate our young people to help them avoid dangerous situations, both in person and online.
Supporting survivors is also critical. Survivors need access to housing, education and health care, and governments should be a partner in the provision of these services. One significant measure the government can adopt is to ensure that loans are not denied to survivors on the basis of debts forced onto them by abusers, thus revictimizing the survivors. There will be an opportunity to take that step later this week, and I hope we can move forward together on this. It is all too easy to forget that the important work of combatting trafficking doesn’t stop when an abuser is arrested. We must also work to fight the harm done and support victims as they rebuild their lives.
Emergency power generators
Ms. Chandra Pasma: It’s an honour to rise today and table this petition on behalf of thousands of residents of Ottawa West–Nepean who have signed it, entitled “Support the Protecting Human Rights in an Emergency Act.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas people with mobility challenges who live in multi-storey apartments and condominiums require an elevator in order to be able to get in and out of their own homes and access food and medical care;
“Whereas access to clean, safe water is a human right, and people living in multi-storey condominium and apartments buildings depend on water pumps in order to have clean and safe water in their homes;
“Whereas climate change is causing an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, which will make prolonged power outages more common;
“Whereas power outages cause significant hardship for people in multi-storey apartments and condominiums that do not have backup power generators, forcing them to remain in their unit without access to food, water, or medical care, or diverting emergency responders to evacuate residents;
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to support the Protecting Human Rights in an Emergency Act, which will ensure that all apartments and condominiums have an emergency backup power generator installed in their building that can power an elevator, water pumps, and lights in common areas.”
I wholeheartedly endorse this petition, will add my name to it and send it to the table with page Keira.
Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Monique and Don Henri from Alban in my riding. They are two of 500 signatures that I have on the petition.
“Keep the Noëlville OPP Detachment Open....
“Whereas insufficient communications and consultations have taken place with communities and relevant stakeholders concerning the OPP Noëlville detachment’s continuing operations; and
“Whereas the residents and visitors of the municipalities of French River, Markstay-Warren, St.-Charles, Killarney and Britt-Byng Inlet as well as the First Nations of Dokis and Henvey Inlet deserve equitable access to a reliable, timely and efficient police response;”
They “petition the Legislative Assembly ... to direct the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ontario Provincial Police to continue having Ontario Provincial Police officers reporting to an operational detachment location in Noëlville.”
I support this petition, will affix my name to it and send it to the table with a page who is sure to come shortly. Merci beaucoup.
Ms. Bobbi Ann Brady: I have a petition titled “Ontario Should Say No to Federal Gun Buyback.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the federal government is banning a large number of firearms legally owned by private citizens; and
“Whereas the federal government has introduced legislation for confiscation of the banned firearms and wants provincial law enforcement agencies to execute said confiscation; and
“Whereas participating in this confiscation will take law enforcement personnel off the streets; and
“Whereas the governments of the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and the Yukon territory have said they won’t allow provincial resources to be used for the federal gun confiscation;
“We, the undersigned, petition Ontario’s government to tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Ontario will not take police off the streets to execute his gun control measures.”
I support this petition and I will affix my signature to it and send it to the table with page Georgia.
Private members’ public business
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: If you seek it, you will find unanimous consent that a change be made to the order of precedence on the ballot list for private members’ public business, such that Madame Collard assumes ballot item number 23 and Ms. Bowman assumes ballot item number 24.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Agreed? Thank you.
Orders of the Day
Michael Charles Ray
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Orders of the day.
Hon. Paul Calandra: If you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Mr. Michael Charles Ray, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition, and five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group.
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. Michael Charles Ray, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition, and five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group. Agreed? Agreed.
Today we are honoured to remember and pay tribute to a former member of our provincial Legislature, the late Mr. Michael Charles Ray, who was the MPP for Windsor–Walkerville during the 34th Parliament.
Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery are Mr. Ray’s family and friends: his sister Catherine Therrien; his daughters, Lea Ray and Stacey Ray; his son-in-law Tim Salayka; his grandsons Dane Salayka and Cole Seguin; and his family friend Sharon Wyatt. Also in the Speaker’s gallery is Mr. David Warner, Speaker during the 35th Parliament.
I recognize the member for Windsor–Tecumseh.
Mr. Andrew Dowie: Thank you, Speaker. Despite the circumstance, I rise with a smile on my face because I’m going to speak about one of the hardest-working community figures in my region of Windsor–Essex, Michael Ray.
Mike was a professional leader, leaving no ambiguity at all as to where he stood on a given issue. Mike set the bar high. From a young age onward, he stayed well dressed, with suit and tie. Even though he grew up in Hamilton and attended Western University, deep down Michael was always a Windsorite at heart. He observed, early on, the corollary of community benefits with strong, local political representation.
Our community was blessed to first gain Mike when he arrived at Essex District High School as a memorable business and economics teacher, widely respected amongst his peers.
While he loved teaching, a passion for law drew Mike in. He graduated from the University of Windsor law school in 1972, worked at the city of Windsor, and, in 1974, was appointed as the director of Legal Assistance of Windsor.
In 1980, Mike was elected to serve on city council on a platform that observed that the corporation could no longer be left in the hands of councillors who exhibited a lack of care or concern for the public interest, an unwillingness or incapacity to attend diligently to council business, or a disregard for the type of behaviour and conduct the public is entitled to expect from its elected officials. This said it all about Mike: high standards, high ethics, and high decorum.
Mike notoriously worked the phones like no other. He took feedback as an opportunity to do better. His campaign billboard truly cemented the clarity that Mike was known for. It had Mike’s picture, saying, “Mike Ray Listens.” He would arrive in-person with flowers when someone he knew passed away. He picked up the phone and called the people he knew and cared about to check in on them. He found the time. Mike was your friend, and you didn’t have to pay a heavy cost to be his friend.
Mike had a particular interest in environmental integrity, sound urban planning, fiscal responsibility and access to justice. He represented those who were unable to represent themselves. He didn’t pursue judicial appointments; he believed in public service.
In 1987, Mike was elected as the member of provincial Parliament for Windsor-Walkerville, and here too he didn’t shy away from candour and colour. He went head to head with his own government on multiple occasions. He would never abandon his studiousness in understanding the implications of his government’s policies.
In 1990, Mike returned to Windsor full-time and continued his work helping people. He rejoined the community legal aid clinic and worked hard to give Windsor law students courtroom experience. And even with significant opposition, he was successful in his efforts and brought those who were initially skeptical about the curriculum involving courtroom time for students as expert presenters. For his efforts and distinction, Mike was selected for the University of Windsor Law’s 2021 Builders of Windsor Law Award.
In the words of his long-time colleague Marion Overholt, Mike Ray was a committed and tireless advocate. Throughout his career, he was never afraid to say what he thought and to do what was best. He championed clinic law practice, and his tenacity and commitment to this community never wavered. As the director of Legal Assistance of Windsor, he advocated for opportunities for students to provide essential legal services to low-income residents at a time when student clinics were a novel and sometimes controversial idea. Mike persevered and showed the profession that providing students with an opportunity to learn and apply practical skills, all while giving back to their communities, was an essential component of their legal education and professional development. And watching him in action, you knew Mike knew his material, and any organization that had Mike’s experience in hand was one that you knew was truly left in good hands.
In closing, I want to thank former MPP Dave Cooke, Jamie Henderson, Marion Overholt and Al Santing, who helped me tell Mike’s story today, and former Windsor mayor Eddie Francis for introducing us.
And to Lea, Tim, Dane, Stacey, Cole and Cathy, who have joined us today, thank you for sharing Mike with us.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I’ll recognize the member for Windsor West.
Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: I rise on behalf of the NDP caucus and as the member for Windsor West to pay tribute to Michael Charles Ray, a former city of Windsor alderman, MPP, lawyer and community advocate in Windsor-Essex. Most importantly, to his family, he was a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and uncle.
I want to welcome Mike’s family and friends who are with us today: Mike’s daughter Lea, her husband, Tim, and their son Dane—and thank you, Lea, for your time going back and forth with me as I prepared this tribute; Mike’s daughter Stacey and her son Cole; Mike’s sister Cathy; his friend Sharon Wyatt; and, as was mentioned, David Warner, the Speaker for the 35th Parliament here at Queen’s Park.
I also want to acknowledge Mike’s family who are joining us remotely from Ontario, Quebec, Florida and all the way into Scotland: Mike’s wife, Joyce; grandchildren Carmen and Reid; and Mike’s sisters Dee, Mary, Pat and Loretta.
Speaker, oftentimes when we pay tribute to a former MPP who has passed away, we start our remarks highlighting when the former member was first elected to the Legislature and their term as an MPP. It seems like the natural place for all of us to start. I’m going to start closer to the beginning of Mike’s story. Mike was born on August 27, 1936, and grew up in Hamilton in a middle-class family. His father, Art, was a sales manager at Stelco and his mother, Elvera, focused her time—and I would suspect a whole lot of energy—on raising six children. Mike was their firstborn, followed by five younger sisters.
His mom would play the piano for hours each day. Mike’s daughter Lea told me she had the talent to be a concert pianist but was too busy raising six kids. Mike was raised to appreciate music, something he carried throughout his life. He always supported the arts, like Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Windsor Light Music Theatre, and University Players.
He graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an honours BA in economics and political science. He received a teaching degree from the Ontario College of Education and started his career as a high school teacher. He met his wife, Joyce, also a high school teacher, while they were both working in Thunder Bay. They married in 1964 and moved to Windsor in 1967. Mike wanted to become a lawyer, so he returned to law school. He was a member of Windsor Law’s first graduating class and was called to the Ontario bar in 1973.
He was a man of deep faith, which was an important guiding factor in his life and something that he ensured was a central factor in his children’s lives, as well.
Mike followed the decisions made by different levels of government and public bodies, and he was immensely interested in the sociological impacts they would have on marginalized members of society. His daughter Lea shared with me that Mike would walk up and talk to people living on the street because he wanted to understand why they were on the street. He would often say to his children, “No one chooses to be homeless”—a belief that I also share—and as a lawyer and politician, Mike wanted to understand what brought them to that circumstance, what brought them to living on the street. He wanted to help change the systems that caused people to be on the street.
Mike worked as a lawyer and was director of clinical law at the faculty of law, legal assistance program at the University of Windsor. His passion for fair representation for all was something he proudly passed on to his law students.
He was elected to Windsor city council in 1980 and served as an alderman until 1987—we call them city councillors now.
In 1987, Mike was elected as the MPP for Windsor–Walkerville in the 34th Parliament. He proudly served as MPP until 1990.
He returned to law following his career in politics. When Mike left provincial politics in 1990, he said—and I think there are people here who can relate to this—“It’s a welcome relief from politics. It’s nice to get back into the practice of law. Politics was seven days a week—including nights and weekends—operating in two cities and constantly travelling back and forth. It was a full calendar.”
Mike was a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus and served on the boards of the Windsor Port Authority and Windsor Police Service.
He was a member of the YQG Windsor International Airport board and the Windsor Regional Hospital board at the time of his death on October 7, 2021, at the age of 85.
Mike is remembered by his colleagues as “fun to work with,” “believed in freedom and democracy,” “a great fighter” for his constituents, and a very respected MPP. He always stood up for what he believed was right—sometimes literally moved to his feet during intense debates.
Mike cared about the environment and defended it constantly, from the local environment in Windsor-Essex to preserving and protecting the greenbelt.
People voted for Mike because they believed in him, and he never wanted to let them down.
Mike always thought that local community was where the best of life was lived and that Windsor was the perfect size to have a wonderful life. That is why he fought so hard to improve on our infrastructure, hospitals, the downtown core, which I am a proud resident of, and our parkland, and to have the Windsor waterfront preserved for public use. Speaker, the beautiful waterfront, which I believe you saw not too long ago, stretches for many kilometres, and that is his legacy to our city.
Mike was an incredibly caring and kind person. I share this from his tribute that was posted online:
“While in the hospital, Michael often remarked about the professionalism and compassion displayed by the nurses, doctors and other staff. He was reassured that part of his life’s work came to fruition with the ongoing efforts to provide quality care to the patients at” Windsor Regional Hospital. “Beyond his forthright manner and diligent quest for justice, he taught us all that doing the right thing was not always popular, but was the necessary path. Compassion was the basis of his morality, and his impassioned stories, whether anecdotal or serious, will be missed. Michael was a true scholar and a gentleman.”
Leading up to his final days, Mike took time to call his loved ones, family and friends to let them know how he felt about them. His biggest concern was making sure that his family was taken care of.
Speaker, I read through the tributes to Michael Ray that were shared after his passing, and I will echo what the member for Windsor–Tecumseh said. I was going to read Marion Overholt’s quote, but he already did. But what I will say is that Marion Overholt doesn’t give out praise easily; you really have to earn it, and the fact that she spoke so highly of Michael Ray shows what an incredible advocate and human being he was for our community.
Speaker, Michael Charles Ray is a man I wish I had the pleasure of knowing and learning from.
I join members of my community in honouring Mike for caring so deeply, for his lengthy years of service and unwavering dedication to our community.
And a heartfelt thank you to Mike’s family for sharing him with all of us and for sacrificing your time with him as he fought for the betterment of our community.
Rest in peace, Mike, knowing others will continue to fight the good fight and will follow the path that you inspired us to take.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Beaches–East York.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: I’d like to welcome Mike’s family to Queen’s Park today to hear all the beautiful stories about him. I hope they bring you some comfort.
I am honoured to stand before you today to pay tribute to Mr. Michael Charles Ray, known to most as Mike. He was a lawyer, an MPP, a son, a brother, a husband and a father. He is remembered by all of us in this chamber, his family, his friends and the people of Windsor, whom he so greatly served.
Ray attended the University of Western Ontario and OISE, receiving a teaching degree, and the University of Windsor, where he earned a law degree. He was called to the Ontario bar in 1973. He practised as a lawyer for years before making the jump to politics.
Mike and I actually have had similar political careers in that both of us got our starts as city councillors for eight years before making our way to the Pink Palace. Mike was a city councillor in Windsor, where he was an incredible advocate for his community and city. Former Windsor mayor John Millson said of Mike, “People voted for him because they believed in him, and he never wanted to let them down”—as you heard my colleagues say today. That is an example of why we all should be here—because our residents believe in us and because we should not let their needs down. Thank you for that, Mike. Thank you for being such a role model to us.
Mike was elected to the Ontario Legislature in the riding of Windsor–Walkerville on September 10, 1987, where he went on to serve until 1990. During this time, he acted as the Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House. While he was only an MPP for a few years, his passion for politics in Windsor was his life’s work.
After his years in politics, Mike returned to law, working as lead regional counsel for the support and custody legal services branch of Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General. He also served on the boards of the Windsor Port Authority, Windsor Police Service, and YQG Windsor International Airport board. His guidance and foresight for the city and for the boards he served on was a positive force.
I thank you, Mike, for your hard work and your efforts, leading to positive change for our province and the city of Windsor, which you so passionately served and loved. Today and every day, you are fondly remembered here at Queen’s Park and in the minds of all the lives you’ve touched. Rest in peace, Michael Charles Ray.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I want to thank the family and friends who have taken the time to join us today as we remember Michael Charles Ray.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Madam Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Mrs. Barbara Sullivan, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition, and five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group.
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 Mrs. Barbara Sullivan, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition, and five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group. Agreed? Agreed.
Today we are honoured to remember and pay tribute to a former member of our provincial Legislature, the late Mrs. Barbara Sullivan, who was the MPP for Halton Centre during the 34th and 35th Parliaments.
Joining us in the Speaker’s Gallery are Mrs. Sullivan’s family and friends: her husband, Jordan G. Sullivan; her daughters, Michele Thompson, Sandra Sullivan and Elspeth Gibson; her son, Jordan D. Sullivan; her daughter-in-law, Alex Sullivan; and her friend Vivienne Jones.
Also in the Speaker’s Gallery is David Warner, Speaker during the 35th Parliament.
Mrs. Robin Martin: I’m honoured to rise in the House today to pay tribute to the former Liberal MPP, the late Barbara Sullivan. Barbara served her constituents in the riding of Halton Centre for two terms, from 1987 to 1995.
She grew up in rural Oakville, and she was an active member of the local 4-H club. She won many awards for showing the family’s sheep and Holstein cattle. This was indicative of her future career; she started early.
Barbara studied journalism at Carleton University, where she edited the student newspaper and was active in the Canadian University Press. Her first job as a reporter was at the Toronto Telegram, where she covered community life and local events.
Barbara moved on from journalism to become a public affairs consultant and communications specialist. She developed skills that she would use very effectively in politics. Barbara served as the principal secretary and the chief of staff for Ontario Treasurer Robert Nixon in the early 1980s, and it was that experience that led to her successful campaign to become the Liberal MPP for the riding of Halton Centre. She was a very savvy campaign strategist. In fact, Robert Nixon called Barbara “the best campaign manager” he knew.
As MPP, she chaired the government caucus and the Select Committee on Energy, and was the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour.
During the Bob Rae government, when Barbara was a member of the official opposition, she was the critic for the environment and later the critic for health. During one heated exchange in this Legislature, the indomitable and, dare I say, feisty Barbara Sullivan had to be escorted out of the Legislature by the Sergeant-at-Arms.
She was a force to be reckoned with, and this quality was widely recognized. Former Premier David Peterson called Sullivan “a powerhouse of the Liberal Party.” Her daughter Sandra described her mother as a “five-foot ball of energy.” Everything Barbara did, she did with passion.
Barbara’s husband, Jordan, was a farmer in Oakville, and one season while he was exhibiting sheep at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, he fell ill. As the story goes, Barbara rushed down to the exhibition grounds from Queen’s Park. She pulled on a pair of boots while wearing a red power suit, of course—so they went very well together—and stepped in for her husband. She stepped right in there for him and won a prize. That’s the kind of woman she was. She was diligent and determined, and she didn’t let anything deter her.
Barbara was immersed in politics. She was the Ontario campaign manager for Jean Chrétien in his bid for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party. She managed the successful leadership campaign for Dr. Stuart Smith for the Ontario Liberal Party. And she was also a senior strategist on Paul Martin’s campaign.
She loved politics, but she also had a lot of outside interests. In 2011, Barbara and her husband, Jordan, moved to the city of Hamilton. Barbara Sullivan was a remarkable lady. She was a strong and tireless advocate for access to quality health care. For eight years, she served on the board of directors of Hamilton Health Sciences Corp. and then became its chair. She was the chair of the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council, which conducted extensive research and advised the Minister of Health on matters related to the regulation of health professions in Ontario. She was also a director of the Bay Area Health Trustee Corp. and a director of Ontario’s Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority.
Barbara served on numerous boards over the years. She was clearly dedicated to public service, and she had been recognized for her work with several national and international citations and awards.
Barbara was also an avid gardener. She was a recipient of the Trillium Award from the city of Hamilton for the manner in which she beautified her own home garden.
She was very creative. She also was a talented miniaturist who designed intricate dollhouses.
Barbara loved to have fun and entertain her grandchildren, and she was blessed with six grandchildren.
Barbara passed away on January 24, 2021, on her 78th birthday, but her life was truly full, and it was a life well lived.
I want to welcome the family. Thank you to Barbara’s husband, Jordan; her daughters, Michele, Sandra and Elspeth; her son, Jordan; her daughter-in-law, Alex; her granddaughter Annie; and her long-time friend Vivienne Jones, as well as former Speaker David Warner.
I want to thank all of the family for sharing Barbara with us. She was truly an indomitable spirit whom we remember fondly, and we are all grateful for her service to Ontario. Thank you.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Toronto–St. Paul’s.
MPP Jill Andrew: Good afternoon to the family and friends of former member of provincial Parliament Barbara Ann Pickard Sullivan. Today, we have the privilege of the presence of some of Barbara’s loved ones, as she had many: Mr. Jordan G. Sullivan, Barbara’s husband; her daughters, Michele Thompson, Sandra Sullivan and Elspeth Gibson; her son, Jordan D. Sullivan; her daughter-in-law, Alex Sullivan; her granddaughter Annie Keeley; and her dear friend Vivienne Jones.
Barbara’s family and friends are also joined by Mr. David Warner, who presided as the Speaker of the Legislature during the 35th Parliament.
I welcome you all on behalf of the Ontario NDP official opposition. We thank you deeply for sharing your beloved Barbara with the hard-working people of Halton Centre and Ontario.
Barbara was born on January 24, 1943, in Calgary, Alberta. Her family soon moved to Oakville.
She graduated from Carleton University school of journalism in 1964, and before politics, she worked as a journalist and later as a public affairs consultant at the Toronto Telegram, if I’m not mistaken.
Barbara came to Queen’s Park having defeated her PC opponent in Halton Centre by a whopping 6,000 votes amid a landslide Liberal majority at the provincial level. She served as a Liberal MPP in the 34th Parliament and in the 35th Parliament under Premier David Peterson and Premier Bob Rae, respectively. She valiantly represented her community and earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues across party lines.
Frankly, there isn’t enough time today to highlight all of the leadership roles Barbara excelled in, spanning across her terms in 1987 to 1995, but here are just a few:
She served as Chair of a Select Committee on Energy, as deputy whip, as her party’s environment critic and health critic, as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour and to the women’s issues minister, as the commissioner of the Board of Internal Economy. And that’s when she wasn’t flying out of Queen’s Park in her “little red power suit,” as her daughter recalled, saving the day for her dad, a farmer who had taken ill. Barbara flew out of Queen’s Park in style to replace him, exhibiting sheep at the royal winter fair, and as Barbara did, she won. Barbara’s daughter Sandra called her mother, yes, a “five-foot ball of energy.”
Outside of Queen’s Park, Barbara loved cooking, sewing and gardening. She created dollhouses that her daughter said could be displayed in any museum, and apparently she loved world travel.
Former Liberal Premier David Peterson said, “She was plugged in and a dynamo of fire. There were just sparks that came off of her. She had so much energy!”
Barbara, I hear, had an incredible laugh, was confident, and had a collaborative leadership style—and a leader she was, having managed many political campaigns before becoming an MPP herself. She managed the campaigns of former Liberal leader Dr. Stuart Smith and Art Eggleton’s successful runs for Toronto mayor in 1980 and 1982. She was also the campaign manager for Jean Chrétien’s federal Liberal leadership campaign. Back in 1987, Robert Nixon was quoted as calling Barbara the “best campaign manager he knew.”
Barbara had influence, but her friends often described her as unassuming and maternal, finding time during her hectic Queen’s Park schedule to drive to Oakville to prepare lunch for her then youngest children, Elspeth and Jordan.
Even after politics, Barbara remained devoted to her community. She served as chair of the Hamilton Health Sciences board from 2006-09. Her intent to support seniors led her to the position of vice-chair of the board of directors of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority during the years 2013 to 2020.
She was a patron of the Sheridan College musical theatre program, the Ontario Historical Society, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and also served as a board member of the Big Sisters Association of Metropolitan Toronto, Huntley Youth Services, Mohawk College, Bird Studies Canada, chair of Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts and commissioner and acting chair of the Commission on Election Finances in Ontario.
Barbara took life by the horns but also knew that life would have its bumps. To quote Barbara during her first campaign, she said, “I’m an ad hoc person. What comes, does, and what doesn’t does not. There will always be a challenge for me.”
Barbara Sullivan’s sun set on her 78th birthday, on January 24, 2021, in Hamilton, Ontario. Those who respected her and admired her tenacity as a politician, a community leader, will remember her as “the cream that rose to the top.”
To Barbara’s family and friends here today, thank you again for sharing her with Ontario.
To her dearest grandchildren, hold on tight to those musical birthday cards she often gave you. May her words and your memories of her live on forever.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Kingston and the Islands.
Mr. Ted Hsu: It’s an honour today for me to rise to recognize Barbara Sullivan. I want to start out by thanking her family who are here today: her husband, Jordan G. Sullivan; her daughters, Michele Thompson, Sandra Sullivan, Elspeth Gibson; her son, Jordan D. Sullivan; daughter-in-law, Alex Sullivan; granddaughter Annie Keely; her friend Vivienne Jones; and the 35th Speaker of this Legislature, Mr. David Warner.
Barbara grew up near Oakville and attended Munn’s one-room schoolhouse. This was a rural area. She raised sheep and Holstein cattle, and she won many top awards at showings. She was an active member in many community groups, including 4-H, and the Sheridan College musical theatre program. She was the chair of the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts. She was a member of Heritage Canada, the Ontario Historical Society, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and the Canadian Club, and she was a board member of Parks Canada.
Barbara studied journalism at Carleton and worked as a journalist at the Toronto Telegram. She later worked as a public affairs consultant. And in politics, she first worked as the principal secretary and chief of staff to the treasurer of Ontario, Robert Nixon.
Before campaigning herself, I discovered that she worked as a campaign manager in the campaigns of Robert Nixon, Stuart Smith, Art Eggleton, Jean Chrétien and John Turner. It amazed me that all of these successful politicians had the same woman behind them. Mr. Nixon even referred to her as “the best campaign manager I know.” I don’t doubt that.
Barbara Sullivan was elected to this House in 1987 and re-elected in 1990 in the riding of Halton Centre. She served for two terms, from 1987 to 1995. During that time, she was appointed official opposition critic for the environment, and she served as a member of many bodies: the Board of Internal Economy, the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly, the government caucus chair, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour, and she chaired the Select Committee on Energy. So she had a lot to do with the functioning of this body.
After her time as MPP, she became a member of the board of directors of the Hamilton Health Sciences Corp., which she later chaired. She was also the chair of the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council.
More recently, she was a vice-chair and director of Ontario’s Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority. She was a governor of Mohawk College. She was a director of the Bay Area Health Trustee Corp. and director and treasurer of the Ontario Association of Former Parliamentarians. She has really contributed and left a substantial legacy on Ontario’s political and social landscape.
I want to close by thanking her family, her loved ones for allowing her to serve the people of Ontario, for making the sacrifice so that she could serve here in this House and elsewhere in society. She has left behind such a legacy, and we’re very thankful for her service. It’s an honour today to rise and recognize that.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I wish to thank the family members and friends who have joined us today as we remember Ms. Barbara Sullivan. Enjoy the rest of your day.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Mr. Drummond White, with five minutes allotted to independent members as a group, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government and five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition.
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. Drummond White, with five minutes allotted to independent members as a group, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government and five minutes allotted to His 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. Drummond White, who was the MPP for Durham Centre during the 35th Parliament. Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery is Mr. White’s daughter, Lenore White. Also in the Speaker’s gallery is David Warner, Speaker during the 35th Parliament.
I recognize the member for Don Valley West.
Ms. Stephanie Bowman: I am honoured to stand here today and say a few words about Mr. Drummond White, who served as NDP MPP for Durham Centre from 1990 to 1995 and brought a real devotion to social justice and a sense of community to his constituents. He leaves behind his wife Norah; his children Amanda, Devin, and Lenore; his grandchildren Arya, Maisie, Ezra, Wilton, Ophelia and Miles; his sister Rosemary Johnston; and his nieces Kate, Alison and Emily.
His daughter Lenore joins us today, along with Mr. David Warner, Speaker of the 35th Parliament. We’re grateful for your presence here today. Thank you.
Born in Toronto, Mr. White attended the University of Toronto in 1969, where he was blessed to meet Norah, and they were married in 1972. After receiving his first degree at U of T, he went on to receive his bachelor of social work at York University, his MSW from Wilfrid Laurier University and then an advanced diploma in research at U of T—clearly a love for learning was present in his life.
Mr. White and his family made Whitby their home, where he devoted his life to public service and social justice. He was a force for social reforms, especially for his community in the Durham region.
Social workers play an important role in our communities, and Mr. White touched so many lives as a social worker for 35 years. He was a founding member of the Durham chapter of the Ontario Association of Professional Social Workers and was instrumental in the development of the Ontario College of Registered Social Workers and Social Service Workers. He served on the boards of both the Ontario Association of Social Workers and the Canadian Association of Social Workers, and in 2005 was the recipient of the CASW Distinguished Service Award—clearly well-deserved.
His ongoing contributions to the Ontario NDP were honoured in 2017 with a lifetime membership.
Just a couple of months before Mr. White passed away, he and Norah celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary—what a wonderful accomplishment.
His passion for life and devotion to his work will forever be remembered by his loved ones and those whose lives he touched through his service. Beyond politics and social work, Mr. White had diverse interests, such as literature, theatre, travel, music and history. He also enjoyed chess, cycling—scuba diving, even—and started learning a little Spanish toward the end of his life, so to that end: Remarks in Spanish.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Durham.
Mr. Todd J. McCarthy: It is an honour to rise in this House this afternoon and a true pleasure for me to pay tribute to a former community ambassador, a remarkable parliamentarian and a great family man: the former member of provincial Parliament from the riding of Durham Centre, Mr. Drummond White.
Born in 1951, Mr. White grew up in Oshawa. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work, followed by a master’s degree in social work, and I believe his post-secondary institutions included two stints at the University of Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier and York. He also received a research diploma in social work from the University of Toronto.
Prior to entering politics, he began what would amount to a 35-year career in social work. As a family counsellor and a social worker, his work focused on mediation and family assessment.
He met the love of his life, Norah Love, while the two were students in the late 1960s, and the two were married in 1972. Married for over 50 years, their courtship followed by their marriage was a true love story of over half a century. They have three adult children; Amanda, partnered with Brad; Devin, partnered with Alli; and Lenore, partnered with Brandon. These unions produced six wonderful grandchildren: Arya, Maisie, Ezra, Wilton, Ophelia and Miles.
It was Drummond’s drive and commitment to serve his community that brought him into politics, resulting in his election to the provincial Parliament in 1990. He was elected as a member of the Bob Rae NDP government. Among other assignments, he was appointed parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. In December 1992, MPP White moved a resolution advocating for the creation of a regulatory body for social workers in Ontario. At that time, Ontario was the only province that did not have such a regulatory body for social workers. A spokesman for the Ministry of Social Services at that time said that such legislation for social work was a low priority for that government.
While Drummond was not successful in getting a bill passed during his time as MPP, a similar bill was enacted in the next provincial Parliament named the Social Work and Social Service Work Act. This was enacted by the Mike Harris PC government in 1998. Drummond was the final witness and speaker before the legislative committee that dealt with that bill and was obviously very pleased when this legislation was finally enacted.
After leaving politics following the 1995 election, Drummond returned to his profession as a social worker. In 1996, he served as co-chair to the Durham Region Coalition for Social Justice. He also participated in other Durham advocacy groups such as Save Our Schools and Save Our Shores. He later joined the board of the Canadian Association of Social Workers. In 2008, he was elected secretary-treasurer. In 2005, he had been chosen as the Ontario recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers’s Distinguished Service Award. Drummond White was also on the board of the Ontario Association of Social Workers and was elected vice-president in charge of social and professional advocacy.
I was proud to know Drummond White personally. I think that the best way to describe him, after considering all the formalities and an impressive resumé, is to state simply that he was a good man and a good citizen. As a member of provincial Parliament for Durham Centre and a lifetime community activist, what an incredible life Drummond White lived, what an example he set, what a model for his community.
In later years, he was an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Durham, where he took on leadership roles and served as a lay chaplain for many years. What better way to honour his life of service than as best we can by following his example to live a life of love, caring, kindness, love of family, respect and civility for others and advocacy for worthy causes.
My friend, the member for Whitby—the successor riding to Durham Centre—Lorne Coe shared with me a fitting recommendation to remember Drummond by, as he was very proud of his Scottish heritage. The Epitaph on a Friend by Robbie Burns contains these memorable words:
An honest man here lies at rest,
The friend of man, the friend of truth,
The friend of age, and guide of youth;
Few hearts like his, of virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d;
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.
On behalf of all members of the government caucus, I salute the late Drummond White for his service to our community of Durham region, a community that he called home very proudly. I would also like to thank his family—and, Lenore, you’re here on behalf of the family—for sharing him with us, with the province of Ontario, as a dedicated member of provincial Parliament from 1990 to 1995. Thank you.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Oshawa.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: It is always an honour to stand in this proud Legislature, and today, it is my honour on behalf of Ontario’s New Democrats to pay tribute to Drummond White. I am pleased to acknowledge Drummond’s family and friends who are watching today’s tributes from Whitby and beyond: Drummond’s wife and partner of 50 years, Norah Love; children Amanda, Devin and Lenore, and their spouses Brad, Alli and Brandon; and beloved grandchildren Arya, Maisie, Ezra, Wilton, Ophelia and Miles. Drummond’s sister, Rosemary Johnston, nieces Kate, Alison and Emily and extended family and friends are also watching. And we would like to welcome Drummond’s daughter Lenore White to the Legislature today, and David Warner, the 35th Speaker.
When we pay tribute to former MPPs, it is a special chance to share the life and legacy of someone who worked to shape the world we live in, and in Drummond White’s case, the legacy of someone who was inspired by the world around him and an inspiration to those he met along the way. For anyone who met Drummond, they knew that he would listen with conviction and laugh with wild abandon, and we will miss that laugh.
Henry Perrin Drummond White was born in Toronto on March 19, 1951. As a child, he was bright, independent and a voracious reader and critical thinker. He was philosophically a social democrat from a very young age, and that never wavered.
Drummond came from a very conservative family. In fact, two of his first cousins are Perrin Beatty, the former MP and cabinet minister, and George Beatty, currently an Ontario judge and former Conservative MPP.
While respectful of his family’s background, Drummond never shied from making his own way and daring to march to a different drum. As a teenager at Oshawa’s O’Neill Collegiate in the 1960s, he invited Ed Broadbent to speak to the entire school assembly, which was quite bold in that community at that time, as his wife, Norah, recalled to me. Norah also shared that Drummond and she met in 1969 on day one at the University of Toronto. They were both studying English literature, philosophy and psychology, and they were, as she describes it, “somewhat hippieish, enjoying the music and counterculture of the times.” She was sure Drummond had a book in his hand when they met, probably Leonard Cohen poetry or maybe a political manifesto. They got married in 1972, settled in Whitby in 1981, and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary in September 2022 with their beloved family of three kids and now six active grandchildren.
Drummond’s commitment to social justice and social democracy was lifelong, not just during his time in the Legislature or serving with the NDP. Wherever they lived, Drummond would get involved in the local NDP riding associations and volunteer on campaigns. He always wanted to get the message out there, regardless of the outcome.
Although his parents might have liked him to pursue law, Drummond chose social work as his career. Social democrat values are consistent with those of social work and also with Unitarian principles, and Drummond was a chaplain for years at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Durham, and was very involved within that community.
As a social worker, Drummond worked with vulnerable individuals in child protection and counselling services, both on the job and in his free time. He was an active advocate for people across the community and province. He worked on welfare reform and child poverty issues, volunteered with immigrant support groups, and stood up for environmental protection, long-term care, LGBTQ rights and issues of equity and fairness across communities.
Drummond was very involved in professional social work organizations, as we’ve heard, and in 2005 was awarded the Canadian Association of Social Workers’ distinguished service award. Drummond would show up, stand up and speak up on social justice causes all his life.
Drummond’s family remembers a lifetime of attending vigils and demonstrations over the years. His kids would no doubt remember joining picket lines and events like Save Our Shores in Whitby, Eaton’s workers strikes and plenty of others, not to mention lots and lots of neighbourhood walks handing out leaflets.
Drummond was always involved in various campaigns—and as all of us know, not all of them are winning campaigns. In 1990, Drummond ran for the NDP. Norah told me that they weren’t expecting to win that election, so on election night, he was in the hot tub in the backyard. They called him, and someone said, “You’d better get over here,” and he was thinking, “Why? What’s the rush?” So they told him, “It looks like you won, and Al Furlong is on the way to congratulate you.” So he had to get out of the hot tub, dry off and get to his victory party. I hadn’t heard that story before preparing for this tribute, and I don’t know whether Norah is happy that I’m sharing it, but I’m sharing it.
In 1990, ridings that weren’t typically orange went orange in a wave. Drummond White ably represented the area of Whitby and part of Oshawa as the NDP MPP for Durham Centre from 1990 to 1995. He continued to be locally committed and involved in the Ontario NDP, and in 2017, was proud to be honoured with a lifetime membership.
Drummond was a strong political force locally and was an active parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, serving this House until 1995. Although he always followed politics and current events, Drummond had many more interests that informed his beliefs and his values. He loved the arts, literature, music, travel, physical adventure, and family.
I did not meet Drummond through politics. I met him through local theatre. No one would be surprised that Drummond and I both have occasionally tended towards the dramatic. In fact, the last time I saw Drummond was on a visit to Stratford, when we ran into Drummond and Norah. We were at a play and all had the chance for a quick visit at intermission. Many folks know well that Drummond and Norah were members at Stratford, and each season, the minute anyone could get tickets, Drummond was figuring out the schedules and getting tickets for the whole season—the whole entire season, and all the plays every season. For Drummond, theatre and arts were a family affair. His children grew up being taken to theatre and live events, folk festivals, concerts, science centres and museums. They spent time in nature along the French River and on many family trips.
Many people remember competitive chess with Drummond, although no one seems to remember winning.
Friends recall Drummond with his books and his dog and, usually, a Cuban cigar on the porch of Burr Lodge.
Drummond was always proud of his Scottish heritage and often solved all of the world’s problems with friends over a glass of Scotch.
Drummond White died on November 25, 2022, with his family by his side. The thoughtful and familiar tributes shared at this service made it very clear that Drummond had meant so much to so many. His six young grandkids loved their grandpa, and each put a Scotch thistle into a vase at the beginning of the service. Family and friends shared wonderful tributes.
Friend Niki Lundquist of Whitby shared, “When someone looks back at a life and can say, ‘They inspired me.’ That their hope for better, that their commitment to progress for people, that their activism and their politics improved lives in a real and tangible way—that is a rich legacy. It is a legacy of hard work and hope. For better. For everyone. That is Drummond’s legacy.”
Drummond White was committed to family and community, to newcomers and new friends, to justice and democracy, the environment, creativity and thought, and he debated, inspired, fought, challenged and changed the world he loved so deeply.
Drummond White wasn’t like anyone else I have ever met. He set a unique, authentic and enthusiastic example for living life. It was always clear he loved the journey and he loved his family.
This Legislature and the province of Ontario are grateful to Drummond’s family for sharing him with us.
Over Drummond and Norah’s kitchen table is a picture of Tommy Douglas, and on their wall is a Leonard Cohen print. It was Leonard Cohen who said, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” But it was Drummond White who shone a brilliant and true light and reflected any ray of light he came across to make the world so much brighter.
Thank you, Drummond. You will be missed.
Charles Morris Godfrey
Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Dr. Charles Morris Godfrey, with five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, and five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition.
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 Dr. Charles Morris Godfrey, with five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, and five minutes allotted to His 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 Dr. Charles Morris Godfrey, who was the MPP for Durham West during the 30th Parliament.
Dr. Godfrey’s family, including his son, Mark Godfrey, are watching from home this afternoon.
Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery is David Warner, Speaker during the 35th Parliament.
The member for Kingston and the Islands.
Mr. Ted Hsu: It’s an honour to rise today and to pay tribute to Dr. Charles Morris Godfrey. I want to acknowledge his son, Mark, who is watching from home, along with other friends and family.
Dr. Charles Godfrey was a renowned physician, a true pioneer and trailblazer in physical medicine and rehabilitation, who practised until he was 102 years old. He had an unwavering love for his community, and it was clear in the way he took such pride in serving the people of Durham West from 1975 to 1977 in this chamber.
In 1953, Dr. Charles Godfrey earned his medical degree from the University of Toronto, which he paid for by working as a janitor and scrapyard worker. He would later teach at this university for more than 20 years.
Dr. Godfrey would go on to serve as the director of Toronto East General’s physical medicine and rehabilitation department, and he worked at Toronto General, Toronto Rehab and Sunnybrook Hospitals before being appointed the head of Wellesley hospital’s rehabilitation clinic.
His achievements were recognized in 1989 when he was appointed to the Order of Canada. His award reads: “Deeply committed to humankind and the elimination of human suffering, and although of retirement age, he continues to be involved in an exhausting round of activity.”
The Order of Canada also took into account his political activism, which focused on the environment. He was an instrumental member of the People or Planes campaign, opposing the construction of the Pickering airport.
In an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1987, Dr. Godfrey stated that “doctors must show leadership within the community.” That heartfelt concern manifested in his role as director of CARE/Medico, which led him, alongside his wife—a nurse, who passed away in 2002—to volunteer as a visiting doctor in more than 20 countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Few of us reach his age; even fewer of us put every one of their days on this planet to make it a better place.
Today I want to express my deepest respect and admiration for Dr. Charles Morris Godfrey, for a lifetime of contributing to the success of the community he loved, for setting an example for all of us, and for making Ontario a better place. We’re so very fortunate to have had such a passionate and devoted doctor who served in this Legislature.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Ajax.
Ms. Patrice Barnes: Family, friends, colleagues and residents of Durham are mourning the loss of former MPP Dr. Charles Morris Godfrey, one of North America’s oldest practising doctors. Joining us today is David Warner, Speaker during the 35th Parliament, and watching from home is his son, Mark Godfrey.
Dr. Godfrey loved life and was famously quoted in 2020 as saying that the trick to aging gracefully is staying interested in life. His other secret was to stay away from TV and to focus on things that mattered.
Born in Philadelphia in 1917, Dr. Charles Godfrey moved to Toronto at a young age. According to a profile published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1987, he remained in Canada for the rest of his life. His father encouraged him to pursue a life in medicine, but he was also inspired by the Clark Gable movie Men in White.
After serving in the Canadian military for over five years during World War II and qualifying as a physiotherapist while in service, he enrolled in the University of Toronto school of medicine. He paid for his schooling by working as a janitor and scrapyard worker before graduating in 1953.
He joined the royal college of physicians in 1958 and became the medical director of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Toronto East General Hospital. Later, he split his time working at Sunnybrook and Toronto Rehabilitation Centre.
Dr. Godfrey married his wife, Margaret, who shared his passion for medicine and helping people. For over 20 years, Dr. Godfrey and his wife would spend six weeks per year as volunteers travelling to developing countries on lecture tours, on behalf of CARE, an international humanitarian agency delivering emergency relief and long-term international development projects. From 1983 to 1985, he chaired CARE, and he later served as chairman of CARE’s international health advisory committee. In 1986, he was awarded the distinguished service award by the organization.
He was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 1989, and he received the Order of Ontario in 1996.
He was later elected to the Ontario Legislature, representing Durham West as a member of the New Democratic Party of Ontario, from September 18, 1975, to June 8, 1977. He was a member of the 30th Parliament. He ran because he did not want a new international airport built near him. He organized People or Planes in 1975, which grew to an astounding 8,500 members. Two days after being elected, the airport plans were cancelled. He later joked with reporters, “I don’t think there’s another politician in the world who can say he accomplished his political goals as fast as I did.” He later left politics, saying politicians have too many bosses, but he encouraged people to stand up and stick to their convictions.
Dr. Charles Godfrey died at his home in Madoc, Ontario, on July 24, just weeks short of his 105th birthday. He had continued to practise medicine up until age 102.
The university said, “He possessed a remarkable longevity in his practice, supported by his enduring love for medicine and incredible care for his patients.”
Mark Godfrey, his son, said, “He was the smartest guy in the room, all my life, any room we were in.”
Dr. Charles Godfrey was a renowned physician, a true pioneer, and a leading community member.
Thank you, Dr. Godfrey, for all your great contributions to the Durham community and to the medical field.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Hamilton Mountain.
Miss Monique Taylor: I’m honoured to pay tribute today to Dr. Charles Morris Godfrey, who, as we all know, was the MPP for Durham West in the 30th Parliament and a member of the New Democratic Party of Ontario.
I would also like to welcome Dr. David Warner, who was the Speaker of the 35th Parliament, and Dr. Godfrey’s son, Mark, who’s watching today from home.
It’s important that we take time to remember those who served in these halls before us. Charles was an incredible person, both in Queen’s Park and out. Charles achieved many accomplishments and accolades throughout his life. He served in the Canadian military for over five years and was a veteran of World War II. He did a fellowship at Oxford, took on various roles at different hospitals across Toronto, and later became professor emeritus of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Toronto. He frequently went overseas to volunteer, practising medicine in developing nations alongside his wife, and he received the Order of Canada in 1989 for both his work in politics and in medicine, just to name a few.
Charles practised medicine until he was 102 years old, which made him one of the oldest practising physicians in North America. He was a pioneer of rehabilitation medicine and did extensive research on topics such as pain modification, rheumatoid arthritis, long-term disabilities and more.
It can be easy to get caught up in everyday facets of life, but Charles remained focused on helping others his entire life. He did all of this while still raising three children with his wife, Margaret. Margaret helped to support their family when Charles went to medical school. She, too, was in the health care field, as a nurse. They supported each other until her passing in 2002.
I think Charles is truly an example of someone who has dedicated their life of service to others. This kind selflessness and dedication is rare and is something we should all aspire to.
As an MPP, Charles was a staunch environmental activist, and his passion was exemplified by his role in the People or Planes campaign. This dedication never stopped. He joined Pickering residents in 2012 to commemorate the campaign and said it was “absolutely refreshing to see there’s still people who get together and think they can change what the government is going to do.”
What I find is most remarkable about Charles, though, is that he worked his entire life to make the world a better place for people. He practised medicine with the perspective of treating the whole person and not just the ailment at hand. He humanized scary topics for his patients and made them feel safe—and I’m betting that’s part of the reason why he still had patients coming to him at the age of 99.
Although I never had the honour of meeting Charles, I feel that his spirit is captured through the stories that are shared by his family, friends, co-workers and those who were impacted by his work.
His son, Mark, remembers him as someone who never slowed down and was vigorous with his work. Had it not been for COVID, he thinks his father probably would have practised medicine longer. Medicine was a vocation for Charles. Helping others was his calling.
I think all anyone can really hope for is a long, fulfilled and happy life like Charles had. He saw war, he saw hardships, recessions, poverty, disasters, and he even saw the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet he still remained hopeful. I think the lesson here is to be resilient and to stay hopeful and committed to your cause.
I want to end off by sharing a quote from Charles, one that I think is critical for all of us to remember: “Don’t give up the fight ... but stick to your point and make sure you’re standing up for the right.”
It’s tough to do due diligence to such a force like Charles. But one thing that I know is Charles will be remembered and his impact on this world will be felt for lasting generations. We’re grateful for the time that he gave to this province and the time that he spent around the world.
Thank you to Mark and the family who are watching from home. He has definitely left a living legacy.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Thank you to those who are joining online as we remember Dr. Charles Morris Godfrey.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Mr. Robert Huget, with five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, and five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition.
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. Robert Huget, with five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, and five minutes allotted to His 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. Bob Huget, who was the MPP for Sarnia during the 35th Parliament.
Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery are Mr. Huget’s family and friends: his wife, Lori Mackenzie; his daughter, Susannah Huget; his niece Lily Mackenzie; his brothers-in-law David Mackenzie, Dan Mackenzie, Andrew Mackenzie and John Wark; his sisters-in-law Elizabeth Shilton and Jill Marzetti; and his friends Maura McClellan, Andre Foucault and Rhona Foucault. And we still have in the gallery with us the Speaker of the 35th Parliament, Mr. David Warner. Thank you, and welcome.
The member for Don Valley East.
Mr. Adil Shamji: Mr. Robert Huget was a man whose life was marked by deep commitments to helping others and advocating for workers’ rights.
Bob possessed all the qualities you could ask for in a leader, and that shines through in the legacy he leaves behind. Bob did not need to go into politics. He left a successful career in the energy sector and cattle business, singularly motivated by the desire to improve people’s lives. There is no doubt that Bob, through his tireless advocacy and lasting contributions to the city of Sarnia, fulfilled that desire.
Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1947, Bob made his way around Canada before settling in Sarnia, Ontario, with his wife Linda. Early in his career, he excelled in a variety of jobs in oil and oil exploration. Thankfully, Shell Oil was able to attract Bob to Sarnia in 1978, where he joined their chemical plant. There, he developed his passion for workers’ rights and shop floor dynamics.
During his time at Shell, Bob adopted a team approach to organizational design and industrial relations. He believed that management and labour should be able to sit down and work together to resolve issues in a fair and dignified way. It follows then that Bob was a fair and dignified man, the kind anyone would follow as a leader. Because of this quality, he often took on high-pressure union roles. People relied on Bob’s advocacy to protect their rights and they trusted him with this responsibility, one that he never shrunk away from.
Bob led his life with a sense of duty. He became president of the Energy and Chemical Workers Union, Local 800. He threw himself into the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada and joined the Sarnia-Lambton employment assistance council and the Lambton College board of governors. He also served as vice-president of the Canadian council on working life. Running for office was the next logical step.
When Bob campaigned to be a member of provincial Parliament, he used nothing but face-to-face interactions at the door and group meetings. He knew that authentic and meaningful engagement was the brand of politics that would resonate most with voters, and it was the brand that came most naturally to him.
On September 6, 1990, Bob won his seat in the Ontario Legislature and, in 1991, was appointed parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy. He was later promoted to the position of Minister without Portfolio responsible for economic development and trade.
Bob Huget rose to some pretty high places. However, at the end of the day, he was most proud of the real tangible things he had done to make a difference in people’s lives. When asked what his key accomplishment as an MPP was, Bob responded that he was most proud of bringing a new process-technology training centre to Lambton College in Sarnia, providing a place for high-tech training in the petrochemical, mining and food processing industries. This centre is part of Bob’s legacy and is responsible for launching countless careers.
The way Bob sounds in his interviews, you could tell that he really listened—not only did he listen, but he cared. He cared and was equipped with the knowledge, experience and the expertise to make a difference. He was deeply invested in his community, in people and in our democracy.
I understand that Bob maintained his persevering spirit and sense of humour until the end. I would like to acknowledge Bob’s guests and thank them for lending him to this chamber. Thank you to Bob’s family, friends and colleagues for being here with us today in honour of his memory.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Sarnia–Lambton.
Mr. Robert Bailey: It’s an honour to rise in the Legislature today and pay tribute to the late Robert “Bob” Huget, who served as the Sarnia member of provincial Parliament in Ontario’s 35th Parliament from 1990 to 1995. Bob passed away this past June and is greatly missed by his wife, Lori; his daughter Susannah Huget; and his many friends and colleagues who are here today.
Born and educated in Saskatchewan, Bob eventually found his occupational calling in the oil and gas sector, both in BC and Alberta. His interest in this field led him to move to Lambton county, the hub of Ontario’s oil and gas industry, where he worked at Shell Oil’s chemical plant in various capacities. At the same time, he developed a passion for the organized labour movement, eventually becoming the president of Local 800 of the Energy and Chemical Workers Union.
He also owned and operated a small livestock business prior to his time at Queen’s Park, and additionally he served as a member of the Lambton College board of governors, the Sarnia/Lambton Employee Assistance Council and the Canadian Council on Working Life.
In 1990, Bob was elected Sarnia’s first New Democratic Party member of provincial Parliament as part of the Bob Rae NDP government. Bob served in many roles, including as a junior minister responsible for economic development and trade. I remember that election very well. I remember the front-page headline in the paper, the mayor of Sarnia down on one knee acknowledging the victory by Bob Huget that night. There won’t be anybody else here other than his family that will remember that story.
Before and after serving at Queen’s Park, Bob was a tireless leader in the labour movement, both at home and at the provincial level. He was a fearless advocate for workplace justice, health and safety, and for the rights of the working people. Bob was once described in a London Free Press article as “tall, lean and intense,” and I agree with that wholeheartedly.
I had the privilege of meeting Bob on several occasions, and although we served on opposite sides of the political fence, we both shared a mutual respect for our constituents, along with a passion for the hard-working labour community of our area. I also worked in the oil and chemical sector, like Mr. Huget did, before I got here.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Glenn Sonier, a past labour leader from the Sarnia community who also worked with Bob at Shell Canada and also shared his passion for organized labour and for the betterment of the lives of Ontario workers. Glenn and Bob worked together at Shell Canada, but it was their efforts outside the workplace, especially with trade unions, that truly motivated them both. Glenn said that, from the very first time they met, he knew Bob was meant to be a leader and that he cared deeply about the workers and what Glenn called the average guy.
Bob’s time at Queen’s Park served him well in his later union leadership roles, as he learned how to be an even stronger advocate for workers and their families. Glenn told me about one time that Bob organized what he called—this was when he was in government, his own government—an occupation of the labour minister’s office. Bob had invited three widows of workers who had died from workplace exposure—I think probably from fibreglass or Dow Chemical—to join him at this occupation. Glenn was amazed by the passion and fortitude that Bob showed in organizing the occupation, which literally helped bring this issue right to the Minister of Labour’s door.
Bob also had a great passion for spreading the labour message and for building a stronger New Democratic Party, especially for young people. Glenn recalled going to Toronto for a meeting with Bob and being invited by him at that time to join him at an NDP convention. At the time, Glenn was travelling with his elderly father and his 11-year-old son, so Bob told him he would make some calls and wrangle an invitation for all three visitors. Glenn’s father was a lifelong Liberal Party supporter up to that point in life, but he was won over by Bob’s friendliness and hospitality. In fact, Bob went out of his way to introduce the three visitors to a number of high-profile NDP leaders, including Ed Broadbent and Jack Layton. Glenn’s father was so impressed that he became an avid NDP supporter, and so did Glenn’s young son. So you never know who you’re going to meet in this world.
Passion, determination and a love for the working person were all hallmarks of Bob Huget. He was truly a man of the people and someone who dedicated his life to bettering the lives of everyone he met.
Thank you, Bob, for having a lifelong passion for working people, whether it was in the oil and gas industry, as an MPP here at Queen’s Park or through your decades of involvement in the organized labour movement. Because of your efforts, you truly left a legacy that you can be proud of, both in Sarnia–Lambton and across our province. And to his family and friends: I know that Canada is a better place today, Ontario is a better place, and I know Sarnia–Lambton is a better place for Bob Huget.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for London West.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: It’s my great honour to rise on behalf of the NDP caucus to pay tribute to Bob Huget, who served in the NDP government as MPP for Sarnia from 1990 to 1995, and from 1994 as Minister without Portfolio, responsible for economic development.
Bob was a proud New Democrat and trade unionist, one of those people who bleeds orange, whose unwavering commitment to workers’ rights and activism for social justice exemplifies the values and principles upon which our party was founded. Bob’s family and friends shared many of those same values and deep NDP roots. I want to welcome here today Bob’s loving spouse of 24 years, Lori Mackenzie; their beloved daughter, Susannah Huget; Bob’s brothers-in-law, David, Dan and Andrew Mackenzie and John Wark; his sisters-in-law, Elizabeth Shilton and Jill Marzetti; his niece Lily Mackenzie; and friends Maura McClellan, Andre Foucault and Rhona Foucault.
As a member of the Ontario Legislature, Bob was well liked by his colleagues both within the NDP caucus and across party lines. Former NDP Premier Bob Rae called him “one of the most respected members of the Legislature ... a decent and hard-working representative with a deep commitment to equality and social justice.”
Former MPP Karen Haslam describes Bob as a wonderful friend and “tireless advocate for the rights of working men and women ... a man of conscience with a sense of humour that made working with him a pleasure.”
Other members of the class of 1990, former MPP Gilles Bisson and Speaker David Warner, who is also with us today, recall Bob’s effectiveness as a parliamentarian, whose style and clear, direct manner of speaking made members stop and actually listen to what he had to say.
Bob was a popular MPP among staff as well. NDP leader Marit Stiles, who worked in Bob’s ministry office, told me that Bob was a great team player who appreciated the work of staff and truly understood the privilege and responsibility he had to effectively represent his community, and she said, “He had the best and most infectious laugh.”
Liberal MPP Sean Conway said, “Listening to Bob, one got a strong and principled articulation of the labour point of view,” adding that “Bob was good company and always had something interesting to say about the news of the day.”
Bob’s credentials as a lifelong New Democrat were established early. Born in Saskatchewan in 1947, a province governed by then-Premier Tommy Douglas, Bob eventually moved to Sarnia to work for Shell Oil, where his passion for workers’ rights led to his election as president of Local 800 of the Energy and Chemical Workers Union and years of volunteering in local, provincial and federal NDP campaigns.
Following the 1995 election, Bob moved to Hamilton, becoming Ontario vice-president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union. MPP Peter Tabuns told me that as CEP leader, Bob was amazingly generous with his time, drawing on his deep knowledge of Queen’s Park, the labour movement and industry to provide invaluable advice to Peter on climate issues and just transition.
Over his last decade and a half, Bob showed incredible courage, determination and grit in his struggle with COPD, never losing hope or his sense of humour. He was an avid NASCAR fan who took over the running of the NASCAR pool for his final 10 years. He found a new cause and new purpose as St. Joseph’s Healthcare’s patient and family adviser for those living with COPD, becoming close personal friends with his respirologist.
Bob’s wife, Lori, told me that for Bob, his advocacy for people with lung disease was perhaps his most meaningful and rewarding public contribution. The week after Bob’s passing, St. Joe’s lowered its flag to half-mast in recognition of Bob’s great passion to improve services for patients and for showing that the best way to change patient care is by listening to patient stories.
Bob Huget passed away on June 1, 2022, at the age of 75. He was a loving and supportive spouse to Lori, a wonderful father to Susie and a champion and friend to many. Our sincere condolences to all whose lives were touched by Bob, and our profound gratitude for his lifetime of service to working people and all Ontarians.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Thank you to the members of the family and friends who have joined us here in the gallery as we remember Mr. Robert Huget. Enjoy the rest of your day.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Mr. David Caplan, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition and five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group.
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. David Caplan, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition and five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group. Agreed? Agreed.
Today, we are honoured to remember and pay tribute to a former member of our provincial Legislature, the late Mr. David Caplan, who was the MPP for Oriole during the 36th Parliament and for Don Valley East during the 37th, 38th and 39th Parliaments.
Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery and public galleries are Mr. Caplan’s family and friends: his wife, Leigh Caplan; his sons, Jacob Caplan and Ben Caplan; his mother, the Hon. Elinor Caplan, who represented the provincial riding of Oriole as MPP during the 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th Parliaments, and the federal riding of Thornhill as member of Parliament from 1997 to 2004; his father, Wilfred Caplan; his brother and best friend, Mark Caplan; his sister, Meredith Caplan; his sister-in-law Claire Caplan; his brother-in-law Rob Jameson; his nieces and nephews Max Caplan, Angus Caplan, Rory Caplan and Sadie Caplan; his aunt Rhoda Caplan; his cousins Jason Caplan, Emma Paisley, Joe Donahue, Sam Donahue, Alan Spiegel, Marla Spiegel and Diane Verbeeten; his friend Debbie Fisher; Emily Thompson-Savage; Michael Coteau, who represented the riding of Don Valley East as MPP during the 40th, 41st and 42nd Parliaments; Han Dong, who represented the riding of Trinity–Spadina as MPP during the 41st Parliament; former member for Beaches–East York Arthur Potts; and many, many additional friends, supporters and former staff. Welcome.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Thank you.
I’ll recognize the Solicitor General.
Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: I rise today on behalf of His Majesty’s government to pay tribute to a special public servant, the late Mr. David Caplan. I also want to acknowledge the presence here of our former Speaker, Speaker Warner, who is with us in the gallery.
I want to begin by recognizing, as you did, Madam Speaker, David’s loved ones: his mother Elinor, a former cabinet minister, both of this House and in Parliament in Ottawa; his father Wilfred; David’s wife, Leigh, and sons, Jacob and Ben; his brother and best friend Mark; and many other family members who are with us today joining us at Queen’s Park. And thank you, former Minister Caplan, for sharing a few words about your son earlier.
David’s career at Queen’s Park was based on the values that many of us hold dear, of service over self, and this was a value instilled in him at a young age by both of his parents, Elinor and Wilfred Caplan.
Although I did not know David, I really would have liked our paths to have crossed, because I know from the colleagues in this House what a good fortune it was to have him here with us. It’s a real honour to have both a mother and son not only serve in this House, but serve in the same portfolio in different administrations as the Minister of Health. It’s quite unbelievable, and something rare.
When he passed, my colleague from Nepean who served with Mr. Caplan said, “He was a good public servant and a kind soul.” His former staff members noted that he was really “someone who had friends from all political stripes.” These recollections give us an important glimpse as to who David Caplan was as a person.
In preparing this tribute, I spoke to colleagues of mine here. My great colleague and friend, the member behind me from Sarnia–Lambton, was here when David was here. He said he had a great sense of humour and made an effort to get to know MPPs from all parties, even while serving as a government minister.
My colleague from Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, who would sit here, echoed this sentiment, noting that Mr. Caplan was a team player and could disagree on policy but was always friendly and able to share a laugh. She noted his dedication to his family and constituents.
We are lucky to live in Ontario, and we’re fortunate to serve here at Queen’s Park. Former Minister Caplan, as you know, less than 2,000 of us have had the honour to serve here, and both you and your son were one of them.
This is a place where we strive to make collegiality count, and members across the aisle have a lot of mutual respect for one another, especially in the halls. David Caplan emulated these values.
David cared about important causes like the Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity. Before coming to Queen’s Park, he started as a school trustee, as you told me earlier. He was always looking forward and working towards a better tomorrow.
I might add, to his wife, Leigh: We know it. We know that without having a supportive spouse and parents, you can’t make it here. You helped him along the way, and it’s important that we acknowledge you as well.
He served in both government and in opposition, always willing to extend a hand of friendship.
He was also one of the few members of the Jewish community who served here, both as a member and as a cabinet minister, and we acknowledge that as well.
We know that when someone passes, it’s a dark time. As the years go on, although the pain hopefully subsides, grief continues in different ways. Learning about David’s life and legacy, especially from my colleagues and his family, it’s clear that David was a light, and we should take comfort in remembering what a little light can do in darkness: It can give us that little bit of hope.
Today we honour David Caplan because he believed in Ontario, he believed our best days lie ahead, he believed in our province and in our future. Parce qu’il croyait en notre province et en notre avenir.
David fulfilled his duty to his province, honoured his commitment to his constituents and his family and brought so much light to so many. We will always remember him. May his memory be for a blessing.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Nickel Belt.
Mme France Gélinas: I want to welcome the family of David to Queen’s Park. When I was first elected in 2007, I became the critic for the Ministry of Health. Soon after—in June 2008, I think—David became the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. I knew his mother and had a lot of respect for what Minister Caplan had done before, so I was looking forward to working with her son. David did not disappoint. From the first time I went and introduced myself, he greeted me with respect. He greeted me with a huge smile and said, “I’m new on the job.” He had just been named Minister of Health. He was going to learn the file, but if there was anything he could do to help, he was always willing to talk, always willing to listen.
He wanted to make a difference. He would talk about his sons, Benjamin and Jacob, who were quite small 15 years ago, but he wanted to make Ontario a better place for all of us and for them. They were always there at the front of what he was trying to do.
I introduced my first private member’s bill while he was Minister of Health. I introduced it on November 5, second reading November 27, third reading December 4, and royal assent on December 10. Not too many private members’ bills go forward. It was a private member’s bill—I printed it just for fun.
The number is Bill 124, but not the Bill 124 we all know. This one, nobody knows about it. It’s called An Act to amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act with respect to cigarillos.
David understood health promotion and disease prevention. He loved the topic. He knew that if Ontario was to make a difference in health promotion and disease prevention, it would not only help the people of Ontario; it would also help the health care system, and this is why he agreed for my first private member’s bill to carry forward and become the law in Ontario. We were the first to ban flavoured cigarillos. Cigarillos were really cheap little cigarettes that were marketed mainly to kids. They came in flavours like strawberry shortcake and chocolate, and they really, really, targeted the kids with those products. David understood that and agreed to pass the bill.
There’s something else: I got to ask him a ton of questions, being health critic. He was Minister of Health during his time as minister. I want to read one of his answers and I’ll put it in perspective.
He’s answering to me: “I know that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has had the chance to connect with the member opposite, has in fact chatted with the member and answered her questions related to the protocols between medical officers of health, public health units....” I’m putting that forward because he always made the resources of the Ministry of Health available to the opposition. That’s not something that I’ve had the pleasure of having with other Ministers of Health that came after him, but David always did. If we wanted more information, if I wanted a briefing, if I wanted a more in-depth discussion about anything, he was always open, and I truly thank him for that.
I also thanked him—he invited me and hundreds of other people to a huge conference in July 2009, when he was Minister of Health, and organized the biggest conference on mental health and addiction. I want to put you back in 2009: The stigma against mental health and addiction that is still alive today was way worse in 2009, but David, as the minister, had the confidence to take that on.
He helped address stigma right on. He gave people with lived experience an opportunity to be heard. I would say that this conference—it was huge, I forgot how many hundreds of people. We had never had anything like that in Ontario before. It was something that David really believed in; we needed to change the way mental health and addiction was being supported in Ontario, and he did that. He did that very well. I would say a lot of things in mental health and addiction changed for the better after he organized this huge conference.
I could go on and on to share some personal experience with David. I want you to know that I was as shocked and saddened as anybody else when I heard of his passing. He will be remembered for a lot of good work that he has done in this Legislature. He left way too early, but he did a good job when he was there. He was a friend, and I miss him.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Don Valley East.
Mr. Adil Shamji: On November 18, 1993, the Honourable Elinor Caplan, who was then the Member of Provincial Parliament for Oriole, rose in this very chamber to speak in support of 10 statutory holidays in Ontario. In her remarks, she quoted a report which recommended that one day in February should be set aside every year to become known as Family Day. Fourteen years later, her son, a minister in the cabinet of Premier Dalton McGuinty, would sit in this very same Legislature and help to pass the legislation which would make that Family Day in February a reality. It couldn’t be a more fitting metaphor for what he, his mother and all of his relatives stood for: family.
On Family Day of this year, I was overwhelmed by an outpouring of support from friends, relatives and colleagues about the remarkable man who David Richard Caplan was. David Caplan served as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Oriole and later Don Valley East between 1997 and 2011. During this time, he distinguished himself as a singularly competent politician who was entirely devoted to his riding and this province. Of his constituency office, for example, it has been noted that it was perennially busy and that David took particular pride in ensuring that the people in his riding had their issues addressed quickly and completely.
Multiple people, including John Sewell, Martin Regg Cohn, Andy Stein and Michael Coteau—the MPP who would follow him in Don Valley East—have told me that one of David’s greatest qualities was his ability and desire to connect with people who had diverse perspectives. “It would be a pretty boring place if everyone believed the same thing that I do,” David used to say.
Perhaps it is because of this humility and devotion to service that David was assigned some of the most challenging positions in the cabinet of Premier Dalton McGuinty. He was chosen as the inaugural minister in the newly formed Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal, tasked with a multi-billion dollar budget to rebuild Ontario’s crumbling roads, hospitals, courts and other essential infrastructure. In this capacity, he was innovative and audacious. For example, he envisioned a plan to stop suburban sprawl and protect green spaces and farmland while promoting economic growth and housing, a plan so bold that it would require cajoling developers, municipalities, environmentalists and even the late Hazel McCallion to all take important steps that would make this possible.
This award-winning plan, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, was enacted in 2006 and worked hand in hand with forming and preserving our province’s greenbelt. He also developed ReNew Ontario, a $30-billion plan for critical public infrastructure development that would be the first long-term capital-investment plan in this province’s entire history.
How could one man so quickly make such an impact? Premier Dalton McGuinty wrote to me and helped me understand: “David was one of the most naturally gifted politicians with whom I’ve ever had the honour to work. He had exceptional political instincts which served him well on the hustings, in the House and at the cabinet table. David loved the game. He was all in, but it was much more than just a game for him. David Caplan was determined to make a difference. Lucky for Ontario, he left his permanent mark on our province.”
But in all of this, it would be a disservice to speak only to David’s political accomplishments. Indeed, his greatest source of pride was his family and, if I am to be precise, his boys in particular. Speaking with those who know him, it is clear just how much he had to be proud of. His mother is, as you heard, none other than the Honourable Elinor Caplan, a distinguished MPP, MP and federal cabinet minister. She joins us today.
Theirs was a political family in which David had the honour of serving in the same riding that his mother had represented. In his campaigns, she drove the sign truck. His father was the CFO, and the boys, Jacob and Ben Caplan, were never left behind.
Jacob and Ben’s father was the kind of man who would step out of a speaking engagement to take their phone calls, even as minister; who would take the time out of his busy schedule to travel all the way to Corner Brook, Newfoundland, to support Ben at the national Special Olympics floor hockey tournament—and then, mind you, volunteer to be a commentator and impress everyone by his mastery of the names and numbers.
As favourite moments, Jacob recalls a daily ritual of bacon and eggs for breakfast presented by his father and nights at the family cottage staring at stars with telescopes. Ben recalls a trip to Cleveland to visit the football and rock and roll halls of fame.
His wife, Leigh, who he knew since they first crossed paths in grade 13, shared with me that he always made time to phone everyone in his family, many times on a near-daily basis.
Family was also a vehicle for him to indulge in some of his personal passions. David loved games, especially strategy games. Few people will know that he was a world-class bridge player who loved to play with his beloved brother Mark.
Additionally, he loved food—all kinds, but Chinese in particular—so much so that, to this day, his international family continues to commemorate his life annually on his birthday with a celebration called “dine with Dave,” in which they enjoy some of his favourite foods, no matter where they are in the world, and share photos with each other. That’s what family meant to him.
When I spoke to the interim Liberal leader, John Fraser, about David, he gave me a perspective that really speaks to why we are all here today. He said, “I simply would like to thank David’s family for sharing him with us. Warm, funny and authentic, he was steadfastly dedicated to serving his community and our province.”
And that’s why we are all here today—friends, family, colleagues and that grateful province—to honour a man who was kind, compassionate, hard-working and selfless in his pursuit of a better government and a better Ontario. We mourn and remember him today. Thank you.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I wish to thank the family members and the numerous friends and distinguished guests who have joined us today as we remember Mr. David Caplan. I apologize if I mispronounced his name before. Thank you for being here, and enjoy the rest of your day.
Marietta L.D. Roberts
Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance of the late Ms. Marietta L.D. Roberts, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition and five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The government House leader is seeking unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance of the late Ms. Marietta L.D. Roberts, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government, five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition and five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group. Agreed? Thank you.
Today we are honoured to remember and pay tribute to a former member of our provincial Legislature, the late Ms. Marietta L.D. Roberts, who was the MPP for Elgin during the 34th Parliament.
Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery are Ms. Roberts’s family and friends: her nieces, Emily Glover, Elena Roberts and Laurie Little; her nephews-in-law, Mike Harder, Adam Glover and Scott Jesney; her great-nieces and -nephews, Hayden Harder, Victoria Jesney and Matthew Jesney; and her family friend Darcelle Hall. Also in the Speaker’s gallery is Lauren Scully, representing Marietta’s friends and colleagues at the Ontario Court of Justice, the Office of the Chief Justice and the justice of the peace bench. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
The member for Elgin–Middlesex–London.
Mr. Rob Flack: Thank you, Speaker. I rise in the House today disappointed I never met or got to know Marietta Roberts.
I spoke with former Premier David Peterson about his colleague Marietta, and he had this to say: “Marietta lit up every room she entered with her big personality”—and if he said it once, he said it four times. “She was a great MPP, lawyer and judge, and across every party line, everyone enjoyed her company.”
Paying tribute to a former member of this esteemed Legislature is both an honour and an important task, as we must always remember those who fulfilled their public duty to serve constituents, the province and our country.
Marietta Roberts was not only the first woman to be elected as the member of provincial Parliament for Elgin county, but started school—get this—at the incredible age of two. And I confirmed the story just a few minutes ago. Why, might you ask? Her mother was a teacher, and she didn’t want her daughter staying at home on the farm learning “bad words,” so she brought her two-year-old into class. She graduated quite early, and you will hear a little bit more as I go along.
Obviously, her education path became a defining journey in her youth. Ms. Roberts attended the University of Western Ontario, majoring in history, and graduated at the tender age of 20. After a brief teaching career, she was accepted into law school at Dalhousie, with her main interest being family law and civil law.
Born and raised a farm girl, Marietta never lost her love for the land and for animals. Music and performance art also played an important role in her life, as did travel, both domestically and trips abroad.
While practising law in St. Thomas, Marietta got the political bug, becoming very involved in the local Liberal Party. From 1972 to 1978, she served on the Yarmouth school board and subsequently was elected chair of the Elgin county public school board. She ran federally in 1974 and provincially 1975, and while not successful in these two political endeavours, she remained active working as a lawyer and on her family farm.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ms. Roberts helped form the Elgin Women’s Law Association that served as a network for women lawyers in Elgin and Middlesex counties. From 1987 to 1990, Marietta Roberts served as the MPP for Elgin. At Queen’s Park, Ms. Roberts served as the first woman to be elected to the Chair of the Committee of the Whole House and elected chair of caucus for the Liberal provincial government. During her time in Toronto, she was also vice-chair of the constitutional committee that worked diligently on the Meech Lake Accord.
Current MP from Elgin-Middlesex-London, Karen Vecchio, told me, “The relationship between the Roberts and Martyn families”—Karen’s maiden name is Martyn—“runs generations deep.” In fact, their farms back on to one another. “Marietta had numerous friends and treated all with respect and fairness,” a consistent theme that I’m hearing as I learn more about this wonderful lady.
After politics in 1991, Ms. Roberts became the first woman from Elgin county appointed as an Ontario Court of Justice judge, and was later appointed Associate Chief Justice for Ontario.
According to Steve Peters, former Liberal MPP for Elgin–Middlesex–London, a minister and former Speaker of this Legislature, “The Liberals were in the wilderness in Elgin for 42 years. When Marietta won in 1987, the campaign team was so excited”—how about this—“they held an old style ‘torch light’ parade with burning brooms that began on Talbot Street in St. Thomas to celebrate.” I’ll admit I would like to have been there to see that.
Mr. Peters continued with her deep appreciation of history. She and a local group, including Steve Peters, worked to secure and preserve the historic Thomas Talbot estate, even convincing then Premier Peterson of the merits.
One evening, he said “I was driving with her to a meeting on the property and Marietta was driving, and she was known to have a bit of a heavy foot.” And I confirmed this with Minister Clark, that ministers today—but back then, MPPs—had the bumblebee sticker on their licence plates signifying that you were a public servant. She got pulled over. The officer approached, paused and noticed the bumblebee sticker on the licence plates, and then came to the window and said, “Slow down, ma’am.” She replied, “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir”—no ticket. As Steve says, “I can imagine the smiles on our faces still as we drove down the road. We know we got away with one.”
In conclusion, Speaker, I understand her family and friends, many of whom are up in the gallery today, are gathered here in the Legislature and are at home watching this tribute and later this evening a celebration of life for a life well lived will be also conducted.
I wish I had known Marietta Roberts because I believe, had I known her, we would have become fast friends.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Ottawa West–Nepean.
Ms. Chandra Pasma: It’s an honour to rise today on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to Marietta Roberts, a trailblazer with a very big heart.
I want to begin by welcoming her family and friends to the Legislature: her nieces and nephews, Emily Glover, Elena Roberts, Laurie Little, Adam Glover, Mike Harder and Scott Jesney; her great nieces and nephews Hayden Harder, Matthew Jesney and Victoria Jesney; her friend Darcelle Hall; and Lauren Scully, representing the Ontario Court of Justice, the Office of the Chief Justice, and the justice of the peace bench.
I’d also like to acknowledge the family and friends who are watching us from St. Thomas today.
Family and friends were very important to Marietta. She loved spending time with you, so thank you for all the time that you sacrificed with your loved one while Marietta was engaged in the long and honourable career of public service.
Marietta Roberts was born and raised on a family farm in Yarmouth township, Elgin county, but while she helped out on the family farm as a child, there was a different path ahead for Marietta. She attended the University of Western Ontario and the Ontario teachers’ college, teaching at Alma College for three years before turning her attention to law and politics in 1971.
It’s easy now to forget just how unusual these career choices were in 1971 and just how different things were for women in this field.
In 1971, fewer than 10 women had ever been elected to the Ontario Legislature. The first female cabinet minister wouldn’t be named until 1972, and in 1972, only 5% of all lawyers practising in Ontario were women. Forty per cent of Toronto law firms that year freely admitted they were prejudiced towards women applying for articling positions.
But Marietta didn’t just enter a difficult field for women; she blazed trails everywhere she turned, serving as the acting crown attorney for Elgin county, as one of the founding members of the Ontario child representation office and as chair of the Elgin County Board of Education.
She ran in two elections: the federal election of 1974 and the provincial election of 1975. Two defeats didn’t hold Marietta back. She went on to make history as the first woman ever elected to represent Elgin county in the Ontario Legislature, defeating the dean of the Legislature in 1987.
Marietta didn’t stop there either. She became the first-ever woman elected to be the Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House in Ontario. She was also chair of the Liberal caucus. In her parliamentary work she was recognized by former Premier David Peterson as “wonderful at everything.” She was magnetic. She had the biggest heart and huge energy that just enveloped everybody. You just wanted to love her because she exuded so much love.
When the 1990 election brought electoral defeat, Marietta was once more undeterred in her pursuit of public service. She was named a judge in 1991. Once again, Speaker, it’s hard for us to remember what it was like, but Ontario had only had around 30 women appointed as provincial judges by 1990. Once again, Marietta excelled in the role, bringing her big heart and compassion to the halls of justice. Andy Rady, president of the London Criminal Lawyers’ Association noted that “she was enormously fair and she really cared about the people in front of her.” Her leadership skills also came to the fore once again as Marietta served as Associate Chief Justice and coordinator of justices of the peace.
But let me conclude by sharing a little known bit of Marietta Roberts’s history, Speaker. During her term in office as an MPP, she presented an award to a little girl who was growing up on a family farm in Elgin county. That little girl had never met a politician before, but thanks to Marietta Roberts, she grew up thinking of women in politics and public service as normal. And 33 years later, that little girl went on to get elected, and here I stand, because of the work of Marietta Roberts and the trail-blazing women like her who came before me.
Thank you, Marietta, for blazing those trails, for a lifetime of dedicated public service, for putting your energy and intellect and big heart into the service of your community and your province. May we who come behind you live up to your example.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Orléans.
Mr. Stephen Blais: It’s certainly an honour to speak on behalf of the Ontario Liberal caucus to pay tribute to Ms. Marietta Roberts this evening, the former Liberal MPP for Elgin and former Ontario court justice appointee.
Ms. Roberts was born in Yarmouth township, near Sparta, on January 9, 1943. She was raised on the Roberts family farm. She later received a BA from Western, a teaching certificate from the Ontario College of Education and a law degree from Dalhousie University. Ms. Roberts started her career as a teacher at Alma College, but steered by her Elgin county roots, she was able to use her intellect and innate kindness to effect change throughout her community and right across Ontario. Following her time as a teacher, she practised law in Elgin county with the firm of Gloin, Hall and Associates, including a stint as acting county crown attorney and as a founding member of the Ontario Child Representation Program.
Now, she lost her first two elections, one with the federal Liberals and one with Ontario Liberals, but she didn’t give up. She chose to run again in 1987. Her election victory in 1987 was monumental as residents of Elgin county put faith in Ms. Roberts, electing her to victory and washing away nearly 42 years of Tory blue in the riding of Elgin. More impressively, though, her victory also made her the first woman ever elected to Queen’s Park for the riding of Elgin.
Throughout her time at Queen’s Park, she served fiercely in Premier David Peterson’s government, serving as caucus chair and later as deputy government whip. She brought compassion to the halls of Queen’s Park, a trait that’s too often overlooked in this place and in this profession, Madam Speaker. I think that former Premier David Peterson put it perfectly when he said, “She had the biggest heart and huge energy that just enveloped everybody.” Peterson also said, “Everybody loved her. Her political adversaries liked her. Her friends liked her. She was a joy to be around.”
Following her defeat in the 1990 election, she was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in 1991 by the NDP government. She became an Associate Chief Justice and the coordinator of the justices of the peace from 1995 to 2001.
Ms. Roberts cared deeply about her community, and in her spare time was a philanthropist and great supporter of local museums. In reading the background that we were given, Madam Speaker, you knew immediately that she cared about her community, because in her spare time, which there must not have been much of, she was the director of the Elgin Conservation Foundation, the Talbot Estate Foundation and secretary of the East Elgin branch of the Canadian Cancer Society.
I’d like to thank the members of the family that are with us here today: Emily, Elena, Laurie, Adam, Mike, Scott, Hayden, Matthew, Victoria; family friend Darcelle Hall; and Lauren Scully from the Ontario Court of Justice. I’ve been told that other members of the family are watching live on television in St. Thomas and in areas right across the province. So to her entire family, to all of her friends, on behalf of Ontario Liberals, I’d like to thank you for sharing Marietta with us, and thank you for everything that she did for her community and for the province of Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Thank you. I want to wish a very nice evening to all the family members and the friends who have joined us as we remember Ms. Marietta Roberts tonight. Thank you so much.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance for the late Mr. Gary Fox, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition, five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group and five minutes allotted to His 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. Gary Fox, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition, five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group and five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government. Agreed? Agreed.
Today we are honoured to remember and pay tribute to a former member of our provincial Legislature, the late Mr. Gary Fox, who was the MPP for Prince Edward–Lennox-South–Hastings during the 36th Parliament.
Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery are Mr. Fox’s family and friends: His wife, Lynn Fox; his children, Kyle Fox and Lori Slik; his daughter-in-law, Tanya Swan-Fox; his son-in-law, Manson Slik; his grandchildren Nicholas Fox, Olivia Fox, Jackson Fox, Ethan Slik and Halla Slik; Paige Barr; Brendan Taylor; and Mandy Martin. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
I also want to note that in the Speaker’s gallery is Mr. David Warner, Speaker during the 35th Parliament. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I recognize the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane.
Mr. John Vanthof: It’s an incredible honour today to be able to pay tribute to Mr. Gary Fox on behalf of the official opposition. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but on reading the research, I found out that we travelled many of the same halls. As a former dairy farmer, I started farming when NAFTA and GATT were huge, huge issues. Many people stopped dairy farming because of NAFTA and GATT. He played a role in helping us.
He was on the board of directors of the federation of agriculture, as was I. I know how much work is involved in being in agriculture politics. He was on many more boards. I was on the board of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario; he was on many others. We know how much work is involved.
But I’d like to take a couple of quotes and take some license and perhaps expand on them: “Gary was a determined man with conviction. He could be a hard old county farmer on days, but most that knew him and loved him knew him as someone that just loved to visit and listen.” And I’d like to take the “hard old county farmer,” because one thing that farmers do on a daily basis—they deal with life and death. They make choices of which animal stays and which animal isn’t productive enough. And it’s not that they don’t love that animal; they love them all. It’s because they won’t be successful, but they have to make those decisions.
When we get here, sometimes those decisions—we seem hard. But we’re used to making them, and I think that that came across in that quote.
Mr. Fox suffered and fought cancer for five years, and farmers—I don’t think there’s anyone, because they deal with such hard things, who appreciates every day that the sun comes up that they get to be with their family, get to be on their farm, get to do the things they love. I don’t know anyone who appreciates that more.
The final one that I’d like to touch on—and I’m really going to take licence with this, so hopefully you will allow me to do so. We lost a good old country boy. I know what a good old country boy is, and I think it’s an incredible compliment, but many might not know.
I’m going to tell a version—I’m really dating myself—of a Little Johnny joke. Little Johnny is the country boy—my name is John, so I’ll use myself. It’s grade 1, and the teacher says, “A farmer has 10 sheep in a pen. There’s a hole in the fence, and one sheep goes through the hole. How many sheep does the farmer have?” Little Johnny has got this. Teacher reluctantly asks Little Johnny, and he says, “Teacher, the farmer has zero sheep.” Someone else put their hand up. City Susie says, “Teacher, 10 minus one equals nine.” And the teacher says, “That’s correct. Johnny, you don’t know math.” Johnny is a country boy; he’s polite. He thinks to himself, “Teacher, you don’t know sheep.” And that is the definition of a country boy.
To be that, “We lost a good old country boy”—I can’t think of a higher tribute to someone who has served this province, served agriculture, and who his family has shared with the rest of us to the benefit of all Ontarians.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Orléans.
Mr. Stephen Blais: On behalf of the Ontario Liberal caucus, I’m proud to pay tribute to Gary Fox, former MPP for Prince Edward–Lennox-South–Hastings, member in Mike Harris’s government from 1995 to 1999.
Mr. Fox graduated from the Advanced Agriculture Leadership Program at the University of Guelph and was a proud third-generation farmer and, as has just been pointed out, a good old country boy, dealing in beef, cash crop, dairy and sheep at the core of his operation. I’m not a farmer and I’m not a good old country boy, but I’ve had the honour of representing many of them for nearly 20 years. So when I heard that Mr. Fox was county chair and director of the Ontario Milk Marketing Board, served on the Ontario vegetable marketing board, was provincial director of the Prince Edward Federation of Agriculture and a founding member and vice-chairman of Agricultural Marketing for Eastern Ontario, that kind of blew me away. Farmers don’t have a lot of time on their hands, as I’m sure Mr. Vanthof would agree, and to participate in all those additional activities is really quite something. So Mr. Fox was a farmer by trade, but he dedicated his entire life to public service.
He began his political journey as a councillor on Sophiasburgh township council, later serving on Prince Edward county council as reeve of Sophiasburgh. With 20 years of municipal experience, Mr. Fox ran for the Tories in 1995 and joined the Common Sense Revolution to victory. He fought hard every day for the people of Prince Edward county here at Queen’s Park.
In addition to his immense experience in the agriculture sector, Mr. Fox was also a strong advocate for the environment. He was past chairman of the Prince Edward Region Conservation Authority and a founding member of the Prince Edward round table on the environment and the economy.
Sadly, Mr. Fox was diagnosed with cancer about five years ago, and he passed away this past December on the Fox family farm.
We’re joined here today at Queen’s Park by his wife, Lynn; his daughter Lori; his son Kyle; his grandchildren Nicholas, Olivia, Jackson, Ethan, Halla; his daughter-in-law Tanya; Paige Barr; Brendan Taylor; and Mandy Martin, his former constituency assistant. To all of you, thank you for sharing Mr. Fox with us and with the people of Ontario and the residents of Prince Edward county.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Now I recognize the Minister of Energy.
Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks to the two members opposite for their tributes today—especially, you, Little Johnny; we appreciate your colourful tribute this evening.
Gary Fox served here from 1995 to 1999 as the member for Prince Edward–Lennox-South–Hastings.
Foxy, as he was known by most people, loved his farm. He loved his farm on Jericho Road in Prince Edward county and the four generations of family that he and Lynn raised there.
At his funeral, which was just over two months ago, on December 14, at the Wellington Community Centre in Prince Edward county, Gary’s son Kyle, who is up above us in the Speaker’s gallery, spoke. Kyle continues to farm there. He considered his dad a social farmer. He was a central figure in the local agricultural community, enjoying a connection with people who came out to the homestead to visit, who gathered at a cattle sale, or who may have needed assistance with their own crops or their own equipment. He was always there to help.
As the saying goes, you could take the country boy off the farm, but you could never separate the farm from the country boy. That was apparent even in the five years that he valiantly battled cancer, when he wouldn’t let himself sit idle, even as illness took hold, betraying a well-developed work ethic.
As was touched on by Mr. Vanthof, he loved his farm. Kyle recalled that Gary couldn’t get around the fields as he’d have liked in the later years, but it never stopped him. He’d hop in his truck and make the rounds. He’d take it all in. Even when he couldn’t ride the tractor or get up into the tractor, he convinced Kyle to get him a ride or help him with his tasks. Gary was in his glory when he was on his property. He couldn’t sit in the house. Some might even call him stubborn. Those folks up there probably might say he was a bit stubborn, I bet.
Once he would see there was work to be done, Foxy would call Kyle: “Get the tractor hooked up. Get me into that tractor. Let me drive it. I can help. Just get me into the driver’s seat. I’ll do whatever is necessary.” I suspect that attitude is what led Foxy to put his name forward to run in Sophiasburgh township, where he served over 20 years as reeve and councillor, and ultimately what brought him to this place in 1995, representing Prince Edward–Lennox-South–Hastings.
Gary was pretty passionate about allowing rural Ontarians to enjoy their land as he did. He thought there were too many regulations impacting those freedoms, and he fought tirelessly to remove red tape, especially in the agricultural sector. In the four years he was here, he believed in making tough but necessary choices, and noted when talking about then-Premier Mike Harris that he admired a politician who “said what he meant and meant what he said.” Premier Harris actually felt the same about Gary Fox. As a matter of fact, the former Premier said, “Gary was always very proud of being a farmer and never hesitated to speak up in caucus—forcefully, I might add—on behalf of farmers and rural Ontario.”
Foxy was a straight shooter. That’s what he was. You didn’t have to guess how he stood on any issue. He wasn’t afraid to speak up as the Progressive Conservative rural caucus chair, and he would sign petitions or he would ask questions if he felt that the government wasn’t doing enough for rural families, for young people or for those who needed a break.
He was also known for his quick wit and one-liners—many of them you can see on Hansard, and some I won’t repeat here. Somehow, he managed all of his friendly jabs without a warning from the Speaker. Imagine that.
After a narrow upset by 56 votes in a redistributed riding in 1999—56 votes—Gary returned home, where he was actually happiest. He was known as an expert in raising sheep. He was able to enjoy the experience of Kyle and Tanya, his daughter Lori—who also served in municipal politics—and husband Manson, and Ian and Christina, and raise their families, with eight children between them, and two great-grandchildren.
Just a couple of stories about his grandkids: Ethan and Nathan would often help with odd jobs like fixing fences or chasing strays. Ethan recalled one time when Gary was trying to sell one of his donkeys to a couple who was looking to find one that was suitable for riding. To demonstrate, he put his grandson Ethan on the back of the donkey. He walked it in the circle for a bit, then he let loose on the harness, beaming, “Watch her go!” It wasn’t too long before the donkey reared off and bucked Ethan from his back. Foxy outfoxed himself that day; that sale did not happen.
Grandson Jackson also recalls there would be big trips to the sales barn each Tuesday in Grandpa’s cattle truck. Often, they’d return with treasures like candy and trinkets from the yard sale folks, or farmyard pets like rabbits or ducks. You never really knew what you might find at the sales; sometimes there were even pigs there. Jackson asked and asked, but Foxy knew his parents wouldn’t be too pleased to welcome the pigs home; Foxy learned that a guinea pig wasn’t going to do either. Finally, when he asked Jackson why he wanted the animal so badly, he replied, “I love bacon.” That was the first meat his parents were actually able to convince him to eat. Well, that Christmas Foxy was pretty excited when his grandson opened the biggest pack of bacon that anyone could ever imagine under the tree. No doubt Grandpa knew just where to find it, with all his social acquaintances in the farming community. His eyes lit up, and it remains a special memory for the family today.
While Foxy loved spending time around the farm with his family, he also stayed engaged in Ontario politics and inspired those around him to consider their own civic duty.
Over the past year, I’ve been very fortunate to have another Foxy working alongside me. Last spring, Gary’s granddaughter Olivia joined my constituency office team, and then she moved here to Toronto as my MPP liaison at the Ministry of Energy. She’s up there too, along with—not all my team, but a good chunk of my Ministry of Energy team is here as well. She has a lot of the same attributes that her grandpa had—a bit stubborn at times, but a real warm heart and a vibrant personality. Often, Olivia would come into the constituency office and say, “Grandpa heard this” or “Grandpa heard that,” and you’d know that his network of sources was still pretty bang on. His large social circle included the Premier, whose father, Doug Senior, served with Foxy here from 1995 to 1999, and their lasting friendship shows the respect he earned from that family and many others. To quote Premier Ford, which I did at the funeral in Wellington back in December: “I have fond memories of Lynn and Gary coming to the house and also visiting my parents in Florida. My dad and Gary were cut from the same cloth. My dad considered Gary was one of his closest friends from Queen’s Park. The stories that Gary would tell would have us all in stitches. He was as real as they come. There was no filter and that is what we loved about him. He will be dearly missed.”
As he did on the farm, Foxy played the role of the good shepherd for many within Prince Edward county, across Ontario and for many, many others through his public service. I’m pleased to have been able to call him and his family friends and to live in the Bay of Quinte community that he helped grow.
Just a moment to thank Gary’s family members who are here with us today: In the gallery, it has already been mentioned, that Lynn, his wife of 57 years, is here with us this evening; his son Kyle is there with his wife, Tanya; we also have his grandsons Nicholas and Jackson; Olivia, the great granddaughter—she’s a granddaughter, but she’s a great granddaughter—his daughter Lori Slik, and her husband, Manson Slik; Ethan and Halla are here; Paige Barr; Brendan Taylor; Mandy Martin, who was the constituency assistant for Gary as well, and our Speaker during the 35th Parliament, David Warner. Thanks to all of you for sharing your grandpa, your dad, your husband and your friend with all of us. Prince Edward county, Prince Edward–Lennox-South–Hastings and Ontario are a better place because of Gary Fox.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Thank you to the family and friends who joined us tonight at Queen’s Park as we remember Mr. Gary Fox. Please enjoy the rest of your evening.
Report continues in volume B.