43e législature, 1e session

L095 - Thu 5 Oct 2023 / Jeu 5 oct 2023

 

The House met at 1015.

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

Prières.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Next we’ll have a moment of silence for inner thought and personal reflection.

Annual report, Ombudsman of Ontario

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Before I ask for members’ statements, I beg to inform the House that the following document has been tabled: the 2022-23 annual report from the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario.

Members’ Statements

Oakville Culture Days

Mr. Stephen Crawford: I’m excited to rise today to highlight an exciting celebration that is returning to my riding of Oakville. Culture Days provides the opportunity to explore with local artists, share in cultural events, and celebrate Oakville’s lakeside charm. From September 22 to October 15, our community comes alive with an array of arts and culture in nearly 100 events.

At last year’s Culture Days 2022, the town of Oakville was ranked number one in the participating communities listing. The town was recognized and earned the top spot in Canada.

This year, get ready to immerse yourself and explore the nearly 100 local events, such as the return of the World of Threads Festival; hearing singers, songwriters and inspirational speakers; celebrating Indigenous heritage and culture; enjoying live shows with community musical performers such as the Yuan Yin Group and the Halton Region Chinese Canadian Association; discovering history at the Oakville Museum and learning about Oakville’s role in the Underground Railroad; and much, much more.

Speaker, I have to take this opportunity to acknowledge that Culture Days in Oakville and across Ontario is thanks to support by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Supporting our local artists allows them to thrive and showcase their talents.

As we approach the final stretch of Oakville’s Culture Days, I would like to invite everybody to celebrate, learn, and enjoy this festival together.

And happy Thanksgiving to all the members of the Legislature and all the staff here today.

Kids Caring for Kids Cancer Drive

MPP Jamie West: Speaker, this afternoon, students at Lockerby Composite School in my riding of Sudbury will be coming together to kick off the annual kids helping kids cancer drive in memory of Laura Cotesta. Laura started this campaign in 1995. She was a Lockerby Viking. She was battling cancer, and at that time, the care she needed wasn’t available in Sudbury, so Laura had to travel to Toronto for treatment. She lived that gap in our health care system, and she wanted to change it. Her obstacles inspired Laura to create a fund with the intention of improving overall pediatric care in Sudbury.

Laura is no longer with us, but for the past 28 years, generations of Lockerby students have continued her annual cancer drive, in Laura’s name.

The thing about the kids helping kids cancer drive is that it’s not just about fundraising; it’s about promoting collaboration, compassion and citizenship within our community, and it’s about choosing to make a difference and inspiring others along the way, just like Laura’s legacy has inspired Lockerby Vikings for nearly 30 years.

The kids helping kids cancer drive in memory of Laura Cotesta makes me incredibly proud, not just as Sudbury’s MPP, but as a Lockerby grad.

Sudbury is a community that cares.

I want to thank all the students and staff at Lockerby for their continued dedication to fulfilling Laura’s dream, honouring her legacy and continuing to raise awareness about the importance of having pediatric care available in the north, close to friends, close to family and close to home.

Go Vikings.

Ontario Agriculture Week

Mr. Matthew Rae: As a representative of one of the largest agriculture-producing areas in Ontario with over 4,000 farm families, it’s an honour to rise in this place to recognize the 25th Ontario Agriculture Week.

Speaker, 25 years ago, MPP Bert Johnson established Ontario Agriculture Week through a private member’s public bill. MPP Johnson represented the riding of Perth–Middlesex from 1995 to 2003. We all owe our thanks to MPP Johnson for this important week in recognition of our agriculture sector.

Year after year, farm families work through changing seasons and market fluctuations to ensure that our province is fed and well-nourished. Every day, farmers and agriculture workers across this province wake up before the sun rises to grow and prepare the food that we enjoy at our kitchen tables.

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Our government is focused on supporting Ontario’s agriculture sector and strengthening our food supply chain. Our government has set an ambitious goal to increase the amount of food grown and produced in the province of Ontario by 30% by 2032. By doing so, we’ll create more good-paying jobs in agriculture and the food industry.

We can never thank our farmers and agricultural workers enough for the vital work they do to keep our province fed. They are the reason Ontario exports over $19 billion in agri-food products per year. These are among the many reasons why our government will always support Ontario’s growing and thriving agricultural sector.

Services for persons with disabilities / Seniors

MPP Lise Vaugeois: The government allotted $10 million for dementia support, including respite care for families, but not a single dollar of this commitment has ever been spent.

The recent report on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act stated that without a significant change in direction, the Ford government would fail to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025—however, rather than increasing efforts to meet the needs of Ontarians with disabilities, the budget for this ministry has been cut by $50 million.

The Ford government also shot down my bill to create an advocate for older adults as an independent officer of the Legislature; however, creating an independent advocate remains one of the primary recommendations of seniors’ organizations across the province, including RTOERO, which represents 80,000 retirees from the education sector.

With such a large gap between rhetoric and what is actually being done, the Ford government is gaslighting older adults and people with disabilities. This needs to change.

I am calling on the government to create an independent advocate to address the needs of older adults, guarantee the funding needed to make Ontario fully accessible, and get those dollars out the door to support dementia services.

Events in Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston

Mr. John Jordan: Speaker, over the summer months, I attended many events, meetings and round tables in my riding of Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston, connecting with residents and organizations and hearing what is most important to them. Health care and housing continue to be top of mind, and this government is listening, with just over $5.8 million in funding for upgrades and repairs to hospitals in my riding—including Perth and Smiths Falls as well as Carleton Place and Almonte—plus an additional $820,000 to address emergency department pressures.

Last month, I was pleased to join Minister Calandra for the groundbreaking ceremony of the brand new, 128-bed Broadview nursing home in my hometown of Smiths Falls. This is part of this government’s $6.4-billion commitment to build more than 58,000 new and reconditioned beds in this province.

In July, I was honoured to be part of the opening of Lanark county’s newest five-unit community housing building.

And I look forward to the spring of 2024, when Carebridge Community Support is scheduled to open another affordable housing project within my riding.

Mr. Speaker, my sincere thanks to Minister Parsa and Minister Calandra for joining me this summer for round-table discussions—real conversations about how we can remove barriers and improve access to services.

I look forward to welcoming Minister Gill next week to discuss streamlining productivity and efficiencies with stakeholders and businesses in Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston.

It was a productive summer.

Ontario Agriculture Week

Mr. John Vanthof: On behalf of the official opposition, I would like to take a moment to recognize Agriculture Week in Ontario.

The agri-food industry makes a $47-billion contribution to this province. There are over 800,000 people employed in the agri-food industry, but the foundation of that industry is the farm families who actually grow the food that we eat. That’s what this whole province is built on. Whether you grow cucumbers in a greenhouse or corn or soybeans in a field, there’s a special feeling when you see those seeds come up from the ground, when you see the risk that you are taking, you feel it—you feel each time you watch them grow.

Now it’s harvest time, and the farmers are harvesting their crops. And that’s a special feeling—when you harvest a crop, when you pull into a field and you see what’s coming off.

But there are also times when your crop fails, when you’re calving a cow and your best cow dies or her calf dies. The fact that they keep going with those challenges—that’s what makes a farmer.

That’s why we’re so proud to be farmers, and that’s why we recognize farmers and their families today, in Agriculture Week. Our whole province is built on their backs.

Events in Etobicoke–Lakeshore

Ms. Christine Hogarth: One of my jobs and the joys of being an MPP is to share with this House from time to time how things are going in Etobicoke–Lakeshore. Jobs are up, unemployment is down, small new businesses are sprouting everywhere. There’s a sense of optimism in the air. And it’s due in no small part to the kindness and community spirit of my constituents, from every background and walk of life, who contribute so much to the rich tapestry of Etobicoke–Lakeshore.

First, I would like to congratulate the Kingsway BIA, who organized the 25th anniversary of Taste of the Kingsway, a multi-ethnic event which has become the largest street festival in my riding.

Second, I would like to congratulate the staff and volunteers at Franklin Horner Community Centre for once again organizing Extravaganza, which encourages local residents to come out and meet their neighbours, participate in family-oriented activities, and enjoy musical performances.

On the Long Branch side: There is an enthusiastic group of volunteers from the Long Branch Neighbourhood Association who organized their fifth annual Tree Fest, which introduces planting for kids, interactive booths on the importance of trees in our ecosystem, and more.

I must add that one of the most notable experiences I had lately was held in King City, where I went to visit Dog Tales. As a mother of two rescue dogs myself, my heart melted. I want to thank the owners for their work.

Just a reminder: If you’re going to adopt a pet, make sure you make it their forever home.

Make sure everybody has a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Highway improvement

Mr. Michael Mantha: I’ve always taken my seat and given credit where credit is due, but I will hold this government to account where needed.

First, Highway 129: I want to give credit to the Ministry of Transportation service provider for the work they did on the Thessalon-Chapleau Highway 129.

However, on Highways 519 into Dubreuilville, 631 into Hornepayne, 614 into Manitouwadge—since when has it become a standard operating procedure to put in warning cones in roadside washouts? Are we waiting for the snow to fall in order to fill these potholes and these washouts?

When we travel now on Highway 638 into Echo Bay, Leeburn and Sylvan Valley—in Echo Bay, there is a place that they refer to as the “Echo Bay car wash.” Since when has it become a standard operating process to accept water that’s going over our highways and our roads?

On Highways 542 and 540: The resurfacing that has been happening on Manitoulin Island is horrendous by this government and the service provider that is there—lengthy periods of time when there is no work that is being done, machines that are being parked on the roadside, the pulverizing is breaking cars down.

The claims that are being put forward by the community members who are travelling on these roads are basically reimbursed nil and none.

You have to do better. There has to be some accountability, and this government must start overseeing the work that is being done by contractors on our highways.

Jule

Mr. David Smith: I would like to welcome Jule. Jule is a company in my riding of Scarborough Centre that is among the leaders in the designing, manufacturing, installing and supporting of battery-backed EV level 3 chargers both in Canada and the United States.

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It gives me great pleasure to welcome Jule’s two co-founders, Carmine Pizzurro and Himanshu Sudan, who are guests today in the gallery. Welcome to your House.

I recently toured Jule with Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy. Jule attracts top business and engineering students from across Ontario universities, including Scarborough—people driven to help create commercially viable energy solutions to accelerate our transition to a sustainable world. It gave me great pleasure to meet some of Jule’s summer students who were returning back to school and their studies this fall. I commend Jule’s founders for devoting their time and resources in the development of these young minds.

Thank you, Jule, for your leadership and contributions to Scarborough Centre and Ontario’s economy.

Optometry services

Mr. Will Bouma: Coming up on October 12, it will be World Sight Day as showcased by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. This year’s campaign focus is to bring attention to the importance of eye care in the workplace.

As a practising optometrist—I remember vividly, like it happened yesterday—I was working at the Saginaw Valley Special Needs Vision Clinic. A mother brought in her little two- or three-year-old non-verbal daughter. I was fortunate as the little girl sat still enough for me to determine that she had a very, very strong prescription. I can remember taking a little trial frame and putting these lenses in it, and as we put it on her face, she dropped the little toy that she was holding up right in front of her on the floor and looked around the room, seeing for the first time. That was one of the single most gratifying experiences and, as it turned out, one of many to come in my field of medicine.

Our government is committed to improving access to glaucoma and cataract care across our province, and our government, under the leadership of Premier Ford, has signed the first agreement with optometry in over 30 years.

Colleagues, the hashtag this year is #LoveYourEyes—they are the only set you will ever have.

Panda Game

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order: the member for Carleton.

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: The annual Panda football game was played this weekend, with the University of Ottawa beating Carleton in a thriller.

I would like to acknowledge that the Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, Neil Lumsden, an Ottawa Gee-Gees legend as a fullback and kicker, still holds the Panda Game scoring record with 25 points in one game and 61 career points.

My constituency assistant, John Jeffrey Morris, who played for the Carleton Ravens and holds the Panda Game record for longest punt and longest kickoff, informed me that Minister Lumsden is the greatest player in the history of Canadian university football.

Introduction of Visitors

Hon. Paul Calandra: Today the page captain, I believe, is Bella. Her parents, Bill and Daisy, are in the gallery somewhere, and I just wanted to welcome them to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Chris Glover: I’d like to acknowledge that today’s page captain is Tristan Joseph from the wonderful riding of Spadina–Fort York, and his parents, Odessa and Harry Joseph, are also in the audience today.

I’d also like to welcome Save the Minden ER to the House—including Patrick Porzuczek, Ken Trinka, Helen Trinka, Aidan Johnston, Joyce Webster, Kimberly Perry, and Cathy Mauro.

I want to wish a special greeting to a good friend of mine, Terrence Bishundayal. I’ve known him since he was in high school. His advocacy for students with disabilities led to the TDSB having a truly accessible washroom on the ground floor of their main office building, and also to the creation of a wheelchair ramp to the front door of Martingrove Collegiate in Etobicoke.

Welcome to the House.

MPP Andrea Hazell: Good morning, page captain for Beaches–East York, James Gillespie—with family members Barbara, Adam and Leah Gillespie and Gillian Stevie here in the gallery.

Let’s welcome them today.

Ms. Natalie Pierre: From the riding of Burlington, I’d like to introduce Jenny Choi and James Tiong. Jenny and James are the parents of today’s page captain Clara Tiong.

Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Mike Harris: We have some great folks here from the Perimeter Institute, all the way from Waterloo region today. I’d like to welcome Rob Myers, Paul Smith, Mark Healy, Mayura Stratopoulos—that’s a good Greek name; holy smokes—Mike Klander, Kendrick Smith, Roger Melko, Mike Brown, Kelly Foyle, Marie Strickland, and Emily Petroff.

Welcome to the Ontario Legislature.

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: From the great riding of Carleton, I’d like to introduce page captain James’s parents, Matthew and Alison Wereley, as well as his sister Elizabeth.

Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Todd J. McCarthy: I want to welcome to Queen’s Park this morning Julie-Anne Gill from the town of Port Perry within my riding of Durham—a very skilled mediator, solving disputes peacefully and effectively.

Mr. Ross Romano: A point of order, Mr. Speaker: I want to take this opportunity to wish a happy birthday to the great member from Whitby, Mr. Lorne Coe, who is celebrating his 47th birthday today.

Applause.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): We’re still on introduction of visitors.

Hon. Andrea Khanjin: I’m so grateful to have my team from the constituency office here. They are doing all the great work on the front lines. I want to welcome Lana Barkan, Mandana Hezar, Debbie Davidson, Priscilla Danson, and Katherine Chabot.

Ms. Catherine Fife: I also want to welcome the good people from Perimeter Institute to Queen’s Park this morning. We had an amazing reception—thank you so much—with full representation from all parties, which is truly a sign of the respect that this institute has in the province of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I wish to inform the House that we have a former member with us in the chamber, in the Speaker’s gallery, who represented Prescott and Russell in the 36th Parliament and Glengarry–Prescott–Russell in the 37th, 38th and 39th provincial Parliaments: Jean-Marc Lalonde.

Welcome back, Jean-Marc.

Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: I want to wish my 13-year-old—she’s 13 now—daughter Nayomi a very happy birthday. I know you’re going to be watching this.

Mr. Billy Pang: I have the pleasure to welcome my good friend Jason Grossman and his better half, Miriam Sussan, to the Legislature of Ontario. Welcome.

Mr. Stephen Crawford: I have the great pleasure to introduce some great friends from the ridings of Parry Sound–Muskoka and Burlington: Sandra St. Germain, Fred St. Germain, Craig St. Germain, and Sandy Lane.

Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Vijay Thanigasalam: I would like to welcome my great volunteer and supporter Kenny Neville to the Ontario Legislature.

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: I’d like to introduce Lucia Alonzi, a page from the great riding of Mississauga Centre.

Thank you for your great work.

Mr. Brian Saunderson: It’s my pleasure to welcome Alliston resident Joy Webster to the House today. She’s a great resident of Simcoe–Grey, and it’s my pleasure to introduce her.

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Mr. David Smith: I’d like to thank the members who came today—co-founders Carmine Pizzurro and Himanshu Sudan—for their first visit to the Legislature to be here with us. Thank you very much.

Hon. Michael A. Tibollo: I want to welcome a good friend, Anthony Ricciardi, and his wife, Cassandra, who are up in the galleries. Anthony is a world-renowned artist. He has displayed his art around the world. He’s also the recipient of the CIBPA’s NextGen 2023 award for his success and his amazing art and talent.

Welcome to your House.

Mr. Michael Mantha: To the class who was elected in 2011, I want to congratulate you all for your 12 years of service as elected members, which you will be celebrating tomorrow.

Question Period

Ontario Place

Ms. Marit Stiles: The public accounts were published last week, and we got to see a detailed overview of the government’s revenue and expenses for the year. Public agencies are supposed to publish their financial statements at the same time, but, strangely, Ontario Place did not. In fact, Ontario Place has not published a single annual report since the Conservatives took office five years ago.

Speaker, to the Premier—can the Premier explain why his government is hiding the financial statements of Ontario Place?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To respond, the parliamentary assistant and member for Brampton West.

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: I wish the Leader of the Opposition had shown the same enthusiasm and passion when their partners in the previous Liberal government left this historic place in a state of neglect and disrepair. Mr. Speaker, this will not happen under the watch of this Premier and this government, because we believe in getting things done and built—not neglected. There’s no better time to bring this iconic destination back to life, and our government remains committed to redeveloping Ontario Place in a sustainable way, respecting the historical and natural features.

Our government is bringing Ontario Place back to life, making it a remarkable, world-class, year-round destination. The improved Ontario Place will provide people of all ages with something to enjoy, including enhanced public spaces, increased access to the waterfront, pools, waterslides, health and wellness services.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: Well, that was an interesting response.

The government doesn’t want to admit they’re hiding these, but journalists had to file freedom-of-information requests to get the 2022 financials. This government wants Ontarians to believe that Ontario Place is derelict and abandoned. The Minister of Infrastructure even told this House before that it is “not enjoyed” by Torontonians or Ontarians. But these newly released documents reveal that Ontario Place actually attracted 2.9 million visitors last year alone, just in one year, and they made a record profit. That 2.9 million visitors is almost as many visitors as the Statue of Liberty—so it doesn’t sound like tumbleweeds to me.

Back to the Premier: Why is the Premier hiding the facts about Ontario Place?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.

Once again to reply, the member for Brampton West.

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: Ontario Place holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Ontarians.

The new site will feature upwards of 50 acres of free parks and public spaces for everyone to enjoy, including trails, green space and parkland, playgrounds, fountains, beaches, boardwalks, spaces for festivals and markets, as well as an updated marina with opportunities for waterside cafes and year-round restaurants.

Mr. Speaker, let’s not pretend that millions of Ontarians descend on Ontario Place to walk around on the giant asphalt pad that currently takes up most of the east island. Due to the lack of vision and action by the previous Liberal government, the only major draw for Ontario Place currently is to see a concert at Echo Beach and Budweiser Stage.

With the redevelopment of Ontario Place, we are supporting economic growth and prosperity and providing an open and enjoyable destination for all. Our investments in Ontario Place will create approximately—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.

The final supplementary.

Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, the reality is, the Premier is forcing taxpayers across this province—in Thunder Bay, in Windsor, in Ottawa, in Timmins—to pay more than $650 million to subsidize a luxury spa for rich people. Meanwhile, he’s closing rural emergency rooms, delaying northern highway projects, and freezing funding for homelessness programs in Ottawa.

The NDP believes this government should be investing to get people the health care and education and housing they need, not spending $650 million on luxury spas.

Will the Premier stop the transfer of public funds into private pockets and cancel the Therme deal?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.

Again, the member for Brampton West.

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: Thank you, once again, to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, we recognize the importance of Ontario Place as a historic, unique destination for all, and we’ll continue to engage with the public and stakeholders to ensure all perspectives from across the province are recognized and considered; not only that, we have hosted extensive public consultations on the redevelopment project, and I’m pleased to share with the House that over 9,200 people participated in this process to share their input and ideas for the future of Ontario Place.

As I’ve said, by redeveloping Ontario Place we are supporting economic growth, prosperity and providing an open and enjoyable destination for all. Our investments in Ontario Place will create approximately 5,000 new jobs during both the construction and permanent operations stages, millions of dollars in rental payments for the province, and will attract an estimated—

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

Ontario Place

Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, we know these guys love their spa services—but $650 million? That buys a lot of good luck rituals.

As the truth leaks out about this Premier’s secret 95-year deal with Therme, the worse it smells.

Normally, with a large procurement like this, Infrastructure Ontario would appoint a fairness monitor to ensure fairness and integrity. The NDP submitted a freedom-of-information request to get the fairness monitor report for the Ontario Place procurement. It turns out no such document exists.

Back to the Premier: Why wasn’t there a fairness monitor for this particular procurement?

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: Mr. Speaker, it was the previous Liberal government that left this historic place in a state of neglect and disrepair. The opposition didn’t do anything at that time.

This is the government that is taking action. Not only are we doing the redevelopment of Ontario Place, but we’re also investing $184 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years. This is the government that believes in taking action, and we are taking action. We are committed to redeveloping Ontario Place in a sustainable way, also respecting the historical and natural features.

As I’ve said, once Ontario Place is open, it will create approximately 5,000 new jobs, and it will attract four million to six million visitors each year. This is a place for family and friends to enjoy.

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

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Ms. Marit Stiles: Maybe it would be helpful if I explained a little bit about why that fairness monitor matters.

The NDP has learned that a few days before the bid submission deadline for the Ontario Place procurement, Infrastructure Ontario mysteriously extended the deadline by three weeks. Several bidders had already submitted their bids on time, but Therme, with its private luxury spa proposal, had not.

Speaker, to the Premier: Was the deadline extended to give Therme an advantage?

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: As I said earlier, this is a government that believes in public consultation, and we are continuously consulting the public and other stakeholders. As I said, over 9,200 people participated in the public consultation process, to share their input and ideas for the future of Ontario Place.

This government is taking action, as I said. Not only are we doing the redevelopment of Ontario Place, but we’re investing $184 billion over the next 10 years. Most importantly, we’re making these investments by not only building new hospitals and highways, but we’re also connecting all Ontarians with high-speed Internet by 2025. This is a government that will get it done.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: Let’s try this again.

Fair procurements use scoring criteria and metrics to objectively assess each bid. Earlier this year, the NDP asked Infrastructure Ontario to provide these criteria and give us the scorecards for the Ontario Place bids. They won’t provide it. It seems there were no scoring criteria, no scorecards. If this seems familiar, well, it’s because this sounds an awful lot like the greenbelt grab.

If Therme was chosen based on fair and objective criteria, why won’t this Premier and this government release the details of the selection process?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.

To reply, once again, for the government, the member for Brampton West.

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: Once again, we’ve been listening to the public through the redevelopment process. We have learned loud and clear that Ontarians want the redevelopment of Ontario Place, and we’ll continue to collect feedback from the public, stakeholders and the Indigenous communities as part of the redevelopment process.

Mr. Speaker, just this week, Minister Surma and Premier Ford attended the Toronto Region Board of Trade for a discussion on the waterfront and our plans to redevelop Ontario Place. Premier Ford thoughtfully said, “Bold thinking will always invite disagreement.” The Premier is completely right.

After 15 years of neglect and mismanagement, we’re acting on a world-class vision to bring Ontario Place back to life. And once this government brings it back to life, this will be a remarkable, year-round destination. Let’s improve Ontario Place. It will provide people of all ages with something to enjoy, including enhanced public spaces, increased access to the waterfront, food—

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

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Members will please take their seats.

Restart the clock. The next question.

Ontario Place

Mr. Chris Glover: If the member opposite had actually attended the consultations, he would have heard loudly and clearly that the residents of Ontario do not want their tax dollars going to subsidize a Therme spa.

This government has been planning changes to Ontario Place for some time. In 2021, they even hired a special adviser on Ontario Place—a job that paid as much as $171,500 per year. They gave the job to a close ally of the Premier’s—one of their candidates and the candidate the Premier endorsed to be mayor of Toronto, Mark Saunders.

Speaker, to the Premier: What work did the special adviser on Ontario Place do?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply for the government, the member for Brampton West.

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: Mr. Speaker, once again, I with the members opposite had shown the same passion when their partners in the previous Liberal government left this place in a state of neglect and disrepair.

We are the government that believes in action and getting things done and built—and this is what our government is doing. We’re investing $184 billion over the next 10 years in infrastructure.

Our government is delivering on our promise to bring Ontario Place back to life, making it a remarkable, world-class, year-round destination that’s fun for everyone.

As I said, with the redevelopment of Ontario Place, we are supporting economic growth and prosperity and providing an open and enjoyable destination for all. Our investments in Ontario Place will create approximately 5,000 new jobs during both construction and permanent operations. It will also attract four million to six million—

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

Mr. Chris Glover: Interesting. The NDP filed freedom-of-information requests for all advice or reports from Mr. Saunders during his time as the Premier’s special adviser on Ontario Place development. The government found no records. I’ll quote the FOI office: “Access cannot be granted as no records exist.”

Back to the Premier: Can the Premier show any evidence that his special adviser produced any advice?

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: As I said earlier, Ontario Place holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Ontarians. This is the government that made that commitment to the people of Ontario that we will be doing a comprehensive redevelopment of Ontario Place and bringing it back to life, also respecting historical and natural features. As I said, this will attract around four million to six million visitors each year. It will create 5,000 new jobs. It will give a boost to our economy. At the same time, we’re mindful of and we recognize the importance of protecting the environment, wildlife and habitats surrounding the redevelopment site. Once we bring it back to life, it will create thousands of jobs and attract four million to six million visitors each year.

GO Transit

Ms. Natalie Pierre: My question is for the Minister of Transportation.

Every day, thousands of residents in my riding of Burlington and communities across the GTA rely on our GO Transit networks to help them get to work, to school, to appointments, and to visit their families and friends.

Like many communities across Ontario, the city of Burlington and the surrounding areas are growing rapidly. Every day, new families are calling Halton region home. The people of Burlington, Halton and the surrounding communities are counting on our government to continue to make investments into transportation networks that will benefit all of Ontario.

Can the minister please provide an update on what investments our government is making into the GO Transit system?

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: I want to thank the member for Burlington for that question and her advocacy for transit users in her riding and across the province.

Mr. Speaker, we’re building the largest transit expansion plan in Ontario’s history; in fact, the largest in North American history. From new subways, LRTs and two-way, all-day GO—we’re investing $70 billion over the next 10 years to keep people connected. GO expansion is a key part of our plan. Work is well under way as we move forward with two-day, all-day GO every 15 minutes on key segments of the GO train corridor. With new electric trains, we will be able to reach speeds of up to 140 kilometres per hour. More trains, more service, and faster speeds—the investments we’re making today will have a generational impact for years to come.

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

Ms. Natalie Pierre: The minister is correct in recognizing that enhanced two-way, all-day GO train services will bring greater convenience to people travelling throughout the GTHA.

I hear regularly from individuals and families in my riding that the GO train is the easiest travel option, whether they’re going to a sports game or heading to work downtown.

The Lakeshore West line is already the busiest line in the GO train network, and the need for expanded services is a pressing concern.

While the previous Liberal government failed to plan ahead when it came to meeting our growing transportation needs, our government must continue to implement transit solutions that will help to build a stronger Ontario.

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Can the minister please explain how our government is expanding public transportation networks in my community and beyond?

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: Thank you to the member.

Mr. Speaker, we know that communities need investments into public transit right now. That’s why, since 2018, we have continued to steadily increase GO train service across this province, and made billions of dollars in investments in our transit systems. We have also made incredible progress on two-way, all-day GO.

Last year, our government announced a contract award with partners to design, build, operate and maintain an expanded electrified GO rail network and fleet over the next 25 years.

In addition, work is complete on a new section of the Aldershot GO. The new tracks will give commuters on the Lakeshore West line more service to West Harbour GO in Hamilton, and beyond.

We’re full steam ahead, and I look forward to sharing more updates as we transform GO Transit across this province.

Public transit

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: My question is to the Premier.

The Eglinton Crosstown LRT project is running way behind schedule, and there’s no clear end in sight. People are fed up. People want answers. That’s why the NDP put forward a motion this morning. We want Mr. Verster to come before committee and tell us what’s going on with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. The Ford Conservatives rejected our motion.

Why is this government protecting Mr. Verster?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To respond, the Minister of Transportation.

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: Mr. Speaker, we will take no lessons from the NDP on how to build transit or influence our transit plan. Every single investment that we have made, the $70 billion over the next 10 years—let’s look at the city of Toronto. That member and that opposition, the members over there, voted against the Ontario Line, a $30-billion investment. They voted against the Eglinton West Crosstown extension. They voted against the Scarborough extension—for years, the people of Scarborough have been left behind.

Under the leadership of Premier Ford and this government, we’re making record and historic investments into supporting the people of Toronto, building a world-class city and a province that is connected from east to south to north to west.

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

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: The Eglinton Crosstown LRT killed hundreds of small businesses, wasted billions of dollars, and made people’s lives difficult for 12 years.

In the meantime, under Mr. Verster’s watch, Metrolinx has become even less transparent, even more wasteful, and overly reliant on private consultants. The only train running is the gravy train Metrolinx executives are on. Mr. Verster’s own salary has doubled, to almost $1 million, since the Conservatives came to power.

Premier, why are you rewarding Mr. Verster for his failures?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.

The Minister of Transportation.

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the frustrations of people with the Eglinton Crosstown. We’re frustrated. Everyone is frustrated. But we’re going to continue to build world-class transit. We’ll learn from the challenges of the Eglinton Crosstown.

Every time we have put forward changes in this House, the members opposite have voted against them.

The Building Transit Faster Act is a great example of that—taking the learnings from the challenges of building transit in this province. We’re getting it done.

When the members opposite were given a choice and a chance to stand—building transit faster in this province, in this city and cities like Toronto, where we need to get shovels in the ground—they voted against that every single time.

We’re making investments to build two-way, all-day GO to places like Kitchener, on the Kitchener line. The members opposite vote against that every single time.

Mr. Speaker, the people of this province expect us to build transit. That’s exactly what we’re going to do—$70 billion over the next 10 years.

Victim services / Services d’aide aux victimes

Mr. Aris Babikian: My question is to the Solicitor General.

Human trafficking, intimate partner violence, domestic violence and child exploitation are horrendous crimes that often go unreported. Trafficking, exploitation, and violence exist in many forms, preying on the vulnerable and taking advantage of systemic issues, such as poverty and inequity, discrimination and unsafe working conditions. Regardless of the cause, the outcomes are devastating, resulting in physical, psychological and emotional trauma to the victims. To combat these crimes, it is imperative that our government invest in services and programs that will reduce the incidence of these crimes and provide support to survivors to help them in rebuilding their lives.

Can the Solicitor General please explain how our government is keeping Ontarians safe and mitigating the harm inflicted on victims of crime?

Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: I appreciate the question. The member from Scarborough–Agincourt is right; there is nothing more villainous than preying on the vulnerable.

That’s why I recently announced that Ontario is investing more than $4 million across the province to help support victims and survivors of intimate partner violence, domestic violence, human trafficking and child exploitation. The funding is being delivered through the victim support grant. The victim support grant is part of Ontario’s Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy and complements the province’s $307-million anti-human trafficking strategy. I’m proud to say that 45 police services are receiving funding through this program for 2023 and 2024.

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

Mr. Aris Babikian: Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes, workplaces and communities.

The sad reality is that many victims are often in precarious situations and are afraid to come forward.

These investments by our government into police services across our province are a positive step in supporting victims and survivors, as well as in strengthening partnerships among community agencies. However, it is essential that programs and services through the victim support grant match the needs and the unique circumstances in each local community.

Can the Solicitor General please explain how victim support grant funding will provide support for victims, survivors and law enforcement?

Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: Each police service that receives the grant funding has their own unique project to help victims of crime. As an example, the OPP in Dryden received $50,000 for their project called Footprints in northwest Dryden. This project will use funds to increase support for victims of intimate partner violence through education and operational support for both agencies and victims.

Monsieur le Président, nous investissons de manière proactive, ciblée et précise, afin de lutter contre la criminalité et d’assurer la sécurité des collectivités.

Municipal planning

Mr. Jeff Burch: Speaker, through you to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: Early last year, the government’s Housing Affordability Task Force made 55 recommendations to speed up housing. The government ignored the vast majority of those and wasted a year enriching greenbelt speculators, who made $8.3 billion in profit without building a single home.

Now the minister has sent a threatening letter to mayors across Ontario demanding their feedback on each of the task force recommendations. The minister said they will lose funding if the mayors don’t respond within one month.

Why is the minister threatening municipalities when it was his government’s choice to ignore its own task force recommendations?

Hon. Paul Calandra: You can’t make this stuff up with these guys, right?

So we sent a letter to them. As you know, Mr. Speaker, we’ve undertaken 23 of the recommendations. We asked our municipal partners—who, by the way, are actually here today, speaking with us on how we can build homes faster across the province of Ontario—to identify the top five items that we could work together to move on so that we could get more homes built faster. Our municipal partners are excited about this opportunity. As I said, they’re here today working with a number of ministers to do just that.

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We’re going to continue doing all that we can to build homes faster. In fact, we have a new fund that’s in place for our municipal partners called the Building Faster Fund—what that is is working with our municipal partners. I think you voted against the Building Faster Fund, like you voted against building transit faster, like you voted against building more hospitals, like you voted against building transit and transportation. But we’re going to work with them. We’re going to get homes built for the people of—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. The supplementary question? The member for Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas.

Ms. Sandy Shaw: Everyone knows that the Premier’s so-called housing policies have nothing to do with housing. The Premier ignored his own housing task force and focused instead on enriching his speculator friends, who made huge profits from zoning changes without building a single home.

I’ll let the minister know that in Hamilton we are exceeding our housing targets, and we’re doing it within our previous boundaries. This means, for Hamilton, complete, sustainable communities. This means lower infrastructure costs. This means more affordable housing options.

Will the Premier stop making it harder to build homes in Hamilton, stop trying to enrich his speculator friends, and reverse his forced and harmful expansions of Hamilton’s urban boundaries?

Hon. Paul Calandra: No, Mr. Speaker, I will not reverse the expansion of the urban boundaries. The urban boundary expansion, of course, was done in Hamilton. The planners in Hamilton identified that they did not have enough space to meet future demands in their community—

Ms. Sandy Shaw: Not true.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.

[Inaudible] withdraw the unparliamentary comment.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister?

Hon. Paul Calandra: As a result, Mr. Speaker, the province identified additional lands that, over the next 30 years, could be made available for that.

As you know, the official plans also contemplate intensification within the existing urban boundaries before additional boundaries can even be contemplated. The municipalities remain in control of when that additional territory would be used, if it would be used.

The good news for the people of Hamilton is that, despite the objections of the opposition, this government has put policies in place that will see thousands of additional people moving into that community to be included in the economic growth we’re seeing in Hamilton.

Public transit

MPP Andrea Hazell: My question is to the Minister of Transportation.

Scarborough deserves the same support for transit that the rest of Ontario experiences, but I’m not sure this government agrees. The outdated Scarborough RT has been shut down, but the Scarborough subway extension to replace it—which this government loves to brag about, despite it being a project commissioned by the previous Liberal government—is only set to open by 2030.

The TTC wants to build a busway in the RT route, but they need provincial funding to get it done. We need this busway so that thousands of Scarborough transit users can get to work and school on time and spend more time with their families.

Will the minister commit to treating Scarborough with respect and funding the busway?

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: The former Liberal government had 15 years to build transit in Scarborough. What did they do? Absolutely nothing. They talked a lot, but they did nothing.

Under the leadership of Premier Ford, we have shovels in the ground on the Scarborough subway extension.

The people of Scarborough were ignored for long enough under the Liberal government.

We’re building subways, we’re building hospitals, we’re building a new medical school in Scarborough.

We will take no lessons from the members opposite in the independent Liberal Party on how to invest and build transit in Scarborough.

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

MPP Andrea Hazell: I do not know what the Scarborough PC MPPs are telling the minister behind closed doors, but it is time to listen to the people of Scarborough; it is time to listen to Toronto city council; it is time to listen to the community advocates.

We had a subway derailed and shut down for good in Scarborough, and the province will not lend our beautiful city a hand. Why does the minister find it acceptable for this to happen and not provide any support to the people of Scarborough? We matter.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Associate Minister of Transportation.

Mr. Vijay Thanigasalam: I want to make it crystal clear: After 15 years of inaction by the former Liberal government, under the leadership of Premier Ford, Scarborough is no more a forgotten part of the city of Toronto.

We are building the Scarborough subway, after the Liberals did nothing. We are building the first ever medical school in Scarborough after almost two centuries now. We are building a brand new hospital. We are redeveloping a new emergency department.

And Mr. Speaker, I’ll tell you one thing: We will continue to build transportation; we will continue to build hospitals; we will continue to make Scarborough a better place for everyone—it doesn’t matter where they come from.

Under the leadership of Premier Ford, Scarborough is thriving and Scarborough is on the map.

School transportation

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education.

These past few weeks have forced OSTA’s leadership to play their hand and show their cards. Despite meeting with Ministry of Education officials and receiving extra funding this past summer, the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority has left parents scrambling to get their children to school. It has been over a month since school started, and the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority did not have their act together. Reports continue to come out regarding numerous school bus routes being cancelled. For the past four weeks, this has left thousands of parents in my riding of Carleton and across the city of Ottawa to have to set up carpools or rearrange their work schedules so they can drive their children to and from school.

Just last night, OSTA announced that it has appointed an interim operations manager to take over during the GM’s leave of absence, which was announced Monday.

Families are frustrated and are looking for leadership and accountability from OSTA.

Speaker, through you: Can the minister please set the record straight and explain what supports our government has provided to address student transportation needs in Ottawa?

Hon. Stephen Lecce: Mr. Speaker, while members from Ottawa West–Nepean and Ottawa Centre literally sit on the sidelines on this issue and do what they do best—slacktivism and hashtag politics—this government is standing up for Ottawa families and getting the job done. We are the only party in this Legislature holding the school board and the consortia to account—and we have not only done that; we’ve launched an audit of the consortia, because we demand better. Speaker, 70% of all cancellations in the entire province are in the English public Ottawa school board. The French school board consortia, which has fewer students and a larger territory, is getting the job done—and not the English consortia. So I expect all members to stand up for Ottawa families—like the member from Carleton—to demand better. We provided an additional increase of funding of $1.8 million to that school board and, even still, with additional funding, they can’t get the job done. So we’re going to stand up and demand better for all Ottawa residents.

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

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Thank you to the minister for his clear response on this urgent issue that is affecting thousands of families in my riding of Carleton and across Ottawa.

Unfortunately, problems with school transportation services are occurring only with the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, impacting thousands of children.

While the Ottawa French-language transportation authority can get students to and from school, it has been the English boards that have had difficulty with OSTA.

The difficulties that families are facing to get their children to and from school are unacceptable. One parent from rural Ottawa even had to take off work indefinitely to get her child to and from school. Another parent from Munster told me that she’s at risk of losing her job. Parents have told me that they’ve spent over $1,000 on Ubers just in a month.

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OSTA’s steps are hopeful, but more needs to be done.

Mr. Speaker, through you: Can the minister please explain what actions our government is taking to support reliable and safe transportation services for students in Ontario?

Hon. Stephen Lecce: Let me just acknowledge the incredible leadership of the member from Carleton, who has been standing up and holding the school board and, particularly, OSTA to account.

We have taken action from the beginning.

We launched an audit of this board to understand the long-term fiscal sustainability, to make sure parents have reliable, dependable transportation services for their children.

We increased wages to $23 an hour—a significant lift in wages for workers, particularly for our bus drivers; we increased statutory benefits, providing 13%—which did not exist in the past; we’re paying for 10 statutory holidays, which didn’t exist in the past; we’re paying for four days of annual training and dry runs; we are increasing respect for the workers, which is why the Ontario school bus association has endorsed our plan.

For Ottawa, specifically, we provided $75 million, and yet they couldn’t get the job done. The French school boards in the same region, with larger territories and fewer kids, are able to do it. So we’ve now made a clear message to the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority and the school board that we’re auditing them, we’re expecting better, and we’re going to ensure the better delivery and more consistent delivery that the families of Ottawa deserve.

Health care funding

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour le premier ministre.

Yesterday, the Financial Accountability Officer confirmed what we already knew: This government is starving our public health care system. Instead of strengthening our public health system and supporting people who are sick, who are injured, who are in need of care, this government hides health care money in slush funds.

Will the Premier listen to the people of Ontario telling him that their health care system matters, that they want him to keep his promises and spend the money on the care they need?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health, the member for Eglinton–Lawrence.

Mrs. Robin Martin: As we’ve said many times, the FAO opinions are not actually representative of actual government spending—but don’t take it from me; just look back at all of the past predictions, which have been wrong. Anyone waiting and wanting to see accurate numbers has only to look at the public accounts. The public accounts show that health care spending has increased $2.7 billion last year and that this government has increased health care spending by $16 billion since coming to office in 2018.

After years of neglect by previous governments, we are investing in health care infrastructure, getting shovels in the ground on over 50 hospital developments—including 3,000 new hospital beds across the province over the next 10 years, and we’re also investing in health human resources and education supports to build those health human resources.

Our government has a plan to improve health care in Ontario, and we’re getting it done.

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

Mme France Gélinas: During the first three months of the fiscal year, this Conservative government spent $1 billion less on health care than what they promised to do, while emergency room closures continue to happen—ask the good people of Minden about this. While two million Ontarians do not have access to primary care, while thousands of children are on wait-lists for surgeries, this government did not spend the $1 billion they had allocated for health care in the first three months.

What will it take for this government to go from words to action, to stop sitting on health care money and get people the care they need?

Mrs. Robin Martin: Years of neglect by previous governments, supported by the NDP, got Ontario into the situation it’s in. But we’re taking action to fix those mistakes, and we are delivering a better health care system for Ontarians.

Our plan has reduced the surgical backlog to below pre-pandemic levels—but we haven’t stopped there. We’ve added our community surgical diagnostic clinics—19,000 cataract operations have happened in the last year alone at those clinics—and the NDP voted against that.

In our 2023 budget, we announced an investment of $30 million to expand and create up to 18 new primary care teams in communities with the greatest need.

And through our Your Health Act, we are cutting red tape to allow health care workers from across Canada and international workers to be qualified to practise here in Ontario.

We have a plan, and it’s working.

Government accountability

Mr. Ted Hsu: Five years ago, the Premier was caught on video promising to take land out of the greenbelt.

Three years ago, an aide of the Premier and a developer arranged to meet in Las Vegas.

One year ago, an envelope with instructions was handed in at a dinner.

Then, $8.3 billion was given to friends and donors.

Two weeks ago, the Premier apologized for opening up the greenbelt with “a process that moved too fast,” but since they’ve been plotting this for years, it’s like being sorry your getaway car got a speeding ticket. He apologized for going too fast to avoid apologizing for the real problem: corruption.

To the Premier: My question is very—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask the member to withdraw the unparliamentary comment—

Mr. Ted Hsu: Withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): —and place his question.

Mr. Ted Hsu: My question is, very simply, are you sorry for a corrupt process or are you just sorry you got caught?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask the member to, once again, withdraw the unparliamentary comment—and not repeat it.

Mr. Ted Hsu: I withdraw, Speaker.

But for clarification, if I refer to a process, is that okay or not?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): You must withdraw the unparliamentary comment.

Mr. Ted Hsu: I withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Paul Calandra: As I said a number of times, we wanted to build homes as fast as we possibly can. We made a public policy process that was not supported by the people of the province of Ontario, and that is why we decided to move very quickly to return those lands.

But we will not be swayed in our desire to ensure that we build 1.5 million homes for the people of the province of Ontario.

We’re in the process of disentangling ourselves from the mess that was left behind by the previous Liberal government.

At the same time, we’re seeing housing starts at their highest level in over 15 years. We’re seeing purpose-built rentals at their highest level in over 15 years. So we’re on the right path of ensuring that we get kids and the next generation out of their parents’ basements and into the homes that they deserve.

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

Mr. Ted Hsu: Mr. Speaker, this is about money for privileged access to power and wealth. The Premier once claimed he was “for the people”—these, certainly, are not the 50% of Ontarians who are now living paycheque to paycheque.

People are struggling, and it’s the job of this government to help them and not demoralize them, by enriching their friends.

The greenbelt scandal has clearly been years in the making.

Mr. Speaker, my question—through you to the Premier—is, very simply, when did you lose your way?

Hon. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, honestly, this is a member who is running for the leadership of the Liberal Party, who is taking on the perceived front-runner because she is now the only politician in the province who wants to build on the greenbelt. He has been taking her on. This is a person whose front-runner for the leadership candidate is taking millions of dollars from the same people that he is now calling corrupt. That is who this member is.

I encourage the member to take that very same question back to the next Liberal leadership debate—turn to your left or turn to your right, whatever she is sitting on, and ask her that very same question.

What we’re doing is untangling the mess that was left.

He has the nerve to talk about affordability when, yesterday, the Liberals and NDP teamed up to ensure that the carbon tax stays on groceries. That is the legacy of the Liberals and the NDP. We put more money back in people’s pockets; they take it away.

Red tape reduction

Ms. Natalie Pierre: My question is for the Minister of Red Tape Reduction.

Small businesses are essential in helping to build a stronger Ontario. They provide much-needed jobs and help to support economic growth in our communities. Unnecessary and outdated regulations cause frustrations and delays, and they compromise Ontario’s competitive advantage over other jurisdictions.

That’s why our government must continue to make things better for people and businesses by reducing regulatory burdens, encouraging greater investments, and boosting Ontario’s overall competitiveness.

Can the minister please explain how our government is supporting Ontario businesses to prosper and thrive?

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Hon. Parm Gill: I want to thank the hard-working member for Burlington for that important question.

I don’t think I need to remind the members in this Legislature or Ontarians about the failed policies of the previous Liberal government for 15 years—of course, supported by the official opposition NDP—when we saw jobs were fleeing, businesses were leaving the province, and Ontario was becoming uncompetitive to do business in.

Thanks to the government, under the leadership of Premier Ford, since 2018, we’ve been working hard to reverse that trend—thanks to the 11 different red tape packages that we have introduced in the Legislature, which has helped to reduce 16,000 different kinds of pieces of red tape. That is now saving Ontario businesses nearly $950 million in annual compliance cost savings.

We know we have more to do, and we will continue to work hard each—

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

Ms. Natalie Pierre: Our government must continue to implement measures that clear the unnecessary burdens placed on job creators. Whether you’re a business owner looking to expand and grow, or trying to access government programs and services—the last thing anyone wants to do is to navigate a needless web of complicated processes and paperwork.

While the previous Liberal government operated under the assumption that more red tape is better—starting and growing a business is hard work.

By eliminating unnecessary red tape, our government is creating an environment that drives new investments and helps to grow the economy without compromising public safety and environmental protections.

Can the minister please explain how cutting red tape is supporting economic growth in the province of Ontario?

Hon. Parm Gill: I want to thank the member for the important question, once again.

On this side of the House, our government understands the importance of helping businesses, which are the backbone of our economy, and what it means to continue to make our province competitive and continue to allow our businesses to compete on the world stage.

Thanks to the initiatives that our government has brought forward to date, just last year alone there were 85,000 new businesses that started in the province of Ontario; there are over 700,000 jobs that we have created since taking office in June 2018.

We recognize the importance of making sure our businesses are spending time creating jobs, investing money into their businesses, rather than having to worry about filling out unnecessary forms.

We will continue to work—

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

Tenant protection

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: To the Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism: There’s a rent strike in his riding, with thousands of tenants coming together to form a tenants’ union. They are fighting expensive, above-guideline rent increases by their corporate landlords. His tenants are feeling unprotected, and they are desperate and angry because the rents have become so unaffordable over the past six years in Ontario. They know that this Conservative government voted against real rent control and took away their final tenant protections.

To the minister, on behalf of your struggling tenants and those across Ontario: Will you bring back real rent control for all homes, including those built after 2018?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Paul Calandra: The good news for tenants across the province of Ontario is that we have the highest starts with respect to purpose-built rentals that we have seen in over 15 years.

One of the real reasons we’ve had such challenges in the rental market is because people just were not getting into building.

Most people who have rental apartments, frankly, are the moms and pops out there who make investments, whether for their futures—and they bring on new allocations. I know that was something my parents did. They wanted to come here. They worked very hard. They sacrificed a lot. They bought little stores in East York with two apartments on top, and that is how they planned for their retirement.

We have to do our best to support landlords. We have to do our best to support tenants. But the best thing we can do is to bring more supply on. We have rent control across the province of Ontario, which is going nowhere. At the same time, we’re building more supply so that we can bring down the costs, because—it’s a simple fact—when there is more to choose from, those rents will come down.

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

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: Back to the minister: His answer just proved why this government is so out of touch with Ontarians.

People are struggling. They are frustrated with surging rents, broken elevators, mouldy walls, leaky faucets, and many other maintenance issues that are plaguing their buildings, that are not being fixed by greedy corporate landlords. This is leading to hundreds of demoviction applications in the city of Toronto alone. This is going to displace tens of thousands of people from their rent-controlled homes—the cheapest, most affordable apartments in Ontario.

To the minister: What will you do to stop the housing affordability crisis in Ontario? And will you protect everyday Ontarians from greedy corporate landlords?

Hon. Paul Calandra: I guess that really speaks to it, right?

Most of the landlords across this province are people just like my parents were. Do you know what my parents did? They worked very, very hard seven days a week, and they bought two small properties with apartments on top. Do you know what we did when we were kids? We didn’t go away for March break. We went to those apartments and painted; we fixed them up. That is what we did. My parents weren’t greedy landlords, just as the 80% of landlords who are out there, who do the exact same things that my parents did, are not greedy.

That is the difference between them and us—we don’t think that hard-working people who make investments are greedy. We thank them for the investments that were made. But what we do do is ensure that we hold everybody responsible—both tenants and landlords.

We’re working together to bring more supply online. I know that the Attorney General also increased resources at the landlord and tenant tribunal. Do you know why? Because we can do more for all people in Ontario.

Seniors

Mr. Billy Pang: My question is for the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.

I want take this opportunity to highlight funding provided through the Seniors Community Grant Program to the Markham Museum, a wonderful organization in my riding. Thanks to this investment, the Markham Museum received over $24,000 that will be used to offer programs to help seniors keep healthy and socially connected.

Throughout their lives, seniors have helped build and contribute to Ontario’s quality of life. They deserve opportunities to be involved in activities and programs in their local communities—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to inform the member for Waterloo, the member for Hamilton Mountain and the Minister of Municipal Affairs that we’ve actually moved on to another question.

I apologize to the member for Markham–Unionville, who has the floor.

Start the clock.

You can finish your question.

Mr. Billy Pang: That’s why it’s so important that our government continues to support organizations through the grant program.

Can the minister please share more information about the Seniors Community Grant Program and how it is making a difference for our seniors?

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: Thank you to the marvellous MPP from Markham–Unionville for the question. He is doing an incredible job in advocating for seniors and making a difference in his riding.

I’d like to thank you again for inviting me to celebrate this exciting news at the Markham Museum. All the staff and volunteers have done an excellent job to create a wonderful attraction for the whole community to enjoy. They will now be able to offer more hands-on programs, like pottery classes for seniors. They are creating opportunities for seniors to get creative, to learn together and be together. What exciting news for our seniors.

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

Mr. Billy Pang: Thank you to the minister and the Premier for their strong leadership and advocacy in helping to make life better for our seniors.

Under the leadership of the Premier and the minister, the Seniors Community Grant Program is making it possible for local organizations to have a direct impact on the lives of seniors in Ontario.

Seniors Community Grants are an amazing way to support unique, community-driven projects. Constituents always contact my office asking about what programs are being offered for seniors and how to access the tools and resources available for them.

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Can the minister please share further information about how people and organizations can learn about the programs and services that are available for seniors?

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: The best way to support seniors is to bring them together to get active and connected.

My ministry works with the OACAO, the Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario, to put together seniors’ active living fairs. These fairs help seniors find resources, connect to local organizations and to each other. Coming up in October, there will be seniors’ fairs from Perth to Toronto, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Kenora and more. Events like this are an excellent way to spread awareness about all the programs and services available.

I encourage all members to host events for seniors in their own communities.

Addiction services

MPP Jamie West: Unfortunately, Sudbury has one of the highest opioid overdose death rates in the province. Speaker, 112 people died last year in Sudbury-Manitoulin—that is nine deaths a month, which is three times the provincial average.

The Spot, Réseau Sudbury’s supervised consumption site, saves lives. They’ve had almost 1,000 visits and reversed all 15 overdoses that happened on-site. Despite the life-saving work, the workers at the Spot received layoff notices, and the Spot will be forced to close by the end of the year. That’s because they haven’t received a single dime of provincial funding from the Conservative government. People in my city are dying. This is a provincial responsibility. The city of Sudbury has already contributed almost $1 million to keeping the Spot open. They can’t afford to do it anymore. And they should never have had to pay the Premier’s bills in the first place.

Réseau has been waiting since August 2021 to hear about provincial funding—that’s more than two years. Opioid overdose deaths aren’t waiting for the Conservative government to decide to get into the fight.

My question: How many more people in the north have to die before the Conservative government gets off the sidelines and provides this life-saving funding?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.

To respond, the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

Hon. Michael A. Tibollo: Thank you for that question. We’ve actually been having discussions about that. We’ve spoken quite a bit about the importance of building a continuum of care, where treatment and recovery are the focus.

That is what we have been doing everywhere in the province, including in Sudbury. We’ve opened numerous beds to ensure that people who are looking for help and need help get that help. Unfortunately, with the situation that we had at Leslieville—it has forced us to look at the consumption and treatment sites, to determine the impact it is having on public safety, as to where they’re located. A review is taking place, and we are expecting a response that’s going to look at what we can do to ensure the safety of people in the neighbourhoods where these consumption and treatment sites are located. Until then, the process is under review.

We recognize the importance of building that continuum of care. We will continue making investments that are based on building and ensuring that people get the help where and when they need it.

Visitor

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I wish to inform the House that we have another former member with us in the chamber today, who served the riding of Burlington South in the 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th Parliaments and the riding of Burlington in the 37th and 38th Parliaments: Cam Jackson.

Welcome back.

Notice of dissatisfaction

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to standing order 36(a), the member for Kingston and the Islands has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing concerning the greenbelt apology. This matter will be debated on Tuesday, October 17, following private members’ public business.

Business of the House

Hon. Paul Calandra: I rise on standing order 59 to thank colleagues for another productive week on behalf of the people of the province of Ontario, and to wish all members a very happy Thanksgiving.

On Monday, October 16, there will be a debate on opposition day number 2 and on Bill 135, the Convenient Care at Home Act.

On Tuesday, October 17, in the morning and afternoon we will be debating Bill 135, the Convenient Care at Home Act, and in the evening, private members’ business standing in the name of the member for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound.

On Wednesday, October 18: in the morning, Bill 135; in the afternoon, Bill 135, the Convenient Care at Home Act; and in the evening, private member’s motion number 63, standing in the name of the member for Perth–Wellington.

On Thursday, October 19, in the morning and in the afternoon session, we will be debating a bill that will be introduced early on in that week, and in the evening, the member for Chatham-Kent–Leamington’s private member’s motion number 64.

Legislative pages

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): It is my sad duty now to ask our pages to assemble.

It is now time to say a word of thanks to our legislative pages. Our pages are smart, trustworthy and hard-working. They’re indispensable to the effective functioning of this chamber, and we are indeed fortunate to have had them here.

To our pages: You depart having made many new friends, with a greater understanding of parliamentary democracy and memories that will last a lifetime. Each of you will go home now and continue your studies and no doubt will contribute to your communities, your province and your country in important ways. We expect great things from all of you. Who knows? Maybe some of you some day will take your seats in this House as members or work here as staff. But no matter where your path leads you, we wish you well.

I ask the members to please join me in thanking this group of legislative pages.

Applause.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I do want to wish all members and their staff and the staff of the assembly a very happy Thanksgiving weekend.

There being no further business this morning, this House stands in recess until 1 p.m.

The House recessed from 1147 to 1300.

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on Government Agencies

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): I beg to inform the House that today the Clerk received the report on intended appointments dated October 5, 2023, of the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. Pursuant to standing order 110(f)(9), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.

Report deemed adopted.

Statements by the Ministry and Responses

Women’s History Month

Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: Today I rise in celebration of Women’s History Month, which is marked every October in Ontario and across Canada.

Women’s History Month is an opportunity to recognize the contributions that women have made to their families, their communities and workplaces across the province. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate them for inspiring the women and girls of today, who are continuing to advance gender equality, challenge the status quo and make Ontario a better place to live, work and play for all.

This year’s theme, “Through Her Lens: Celebrating the Diversity of Women,” especially highlights the outstanding achievements and significant contributions of women from diverse backgrounds, including Indigenous, francophone, racialized, rural, immigrant and disabled women, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals.

Speaker, I would like to use my time to talk about just a few of these notable Ontario women. Angela James, born in Toronto to a Black father, led the Canadian women’s hockey team to four women’s world championship gold medals between 1990 and 1997, bringing women’s hockey into the mainstream and becoming one of the first three women to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame.

Rosalie Silberman Abella became both the youngest and first pregnant person to become a judge in Canada when she was appointed to the Ontario Family Court in 1976. She then became the first Jewish woman and refugee to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Speaking of the Supreme Court of Canada, there’s Michelle O’Bonsawin, born in Hanmer to francophone Ontarian and Indigenous parents, who became the first Indigenous person to be appointed just last year.

There’s Elizabeth Bagshaw, born and raised on a farm in the Kawartha Lakes area, becoming one of Canada’s first female physicians and the medical director of Canada’s first birth control clinic in Hamilton in 1932, when it was still illegal for women to make decisions over their own bodies.

After years of the federal government failing to build a new school in her community following a diesel fuel leak, there’s Shannen Koostachin of—I’m sorry for missing the name—

Interjection: Attawapiskat.

Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: Thank you—Attawapiskat First Nation, who became leader of the largest youth-led rights movement in Canadian history. Thanks largely to her efforts, Kattawapiskak Elementary School finally opened in 2014.

Interjections.

Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: A phenomenal woman.

Lastly, I would like to recognize Mary Ann Shadd Cary, who, following the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in the United States, founded a private school for the children of freedom seekers in Windsor. She also became the first woman publisher in Canada, having established her own newspaper, the Provincial Freeman, to share her ideas on abolitionism and women’s rights and showcase the accomplishments of Black women in Canada.

Speaker, these history-making women and girls paved the way for many more—like us, right?—and especially those from diverse backgrounds to pursue their dreams and live full lives here in Ontario.

Every day, women enrich Ontario with their unique experiences, knowledge and perspectives. Whether they are innovating in the science and technology sectors, starting and running their own businesses, building homes for young families, educating the next generation of leaders, growing our food or caring for our most vulnerable, the full participation of women is imperative to our province’s present and our future.

Speaker, our government recognizes that when women succeed, Ontario succeeds. That’s why we are taking decisive action across ministries to help women and girls thrive at home, at work and in their communities. This includes supporting affordable child care options; increasing exposure to STEM and the skilled trades at an earlier age; making workplaces safer; and offering targeted training, skills development and employment opportunities for women experiencing social and economic barriers, all of this to increase their participation in the workforce and gain financial security and independence, especially in sectors where we have been traditionally under-represented. Over the coming months, we will continue to work with sector partners to help more women across the province achieve the success they need and the success they deserve.

Speaker, before I conclude, I would like to draw my colleagues to a few other days of significance for women and girls marked in October. Yesterday, October 4, was Sisters in Spirit Day, a day to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. We show our support and our love, and we also are creating opportunities for healing and having the conversation to listen to the stories.

This year, a monument was unveiled in the city of Kenora, in the great riding of Kenora–Rainy River, to remember the lives lost by senseless intimate partner violence. Those three women are remembered, and it marks a day of importance for us to all acknowledge.

On October 11, we celebrate International Day of the Girl. It’s a day to recognize the unique challenges and inequalities faced by girls, and the need to protect their rights and create more opportunities for their prosperity.

Finally, on October 15, we will mark the International Day of Rural Women. It’s an opportunity to recognize the invaluable contributions of rural women to our food systems and their role in sustaining our families and communities and fighting against hunger and malnutrition.

Speaker, it’s because of these trail-blazing women of the past that women today have the rights and opportunities that were denied to their predecessors. This October, I invite all of us, all Ontarians, to learn about the history of women in our province, celebrate their outstanding achievements and participate in Women’s History Month activities in your local communities. Each and every one of us plays an important role in fostering a more equal and inclusive Ontario, full of social and economic opportunities for women and girls. Why? Because when women succeed, Ontario succeeds.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Response?

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: October marks Women’s History Month in Ontario, a time to honour the struggles and celebrate the achievements and resiliency of women, girls and gender-diverse people. As we reflect, we hold a profound sense of gratitude. We recognize the tenacious efforts and unwavering spirit of women who have paved the way for progress and equity. But we must also acknowledge how far we still have to go.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of a historic milestone: Agnes Macphail’s election as the first woman to serve in the Ontario Legislature, in 1943. For almost 80 years prior, there had only been men serving in this House. Agnes Macphail also holds the esteemed honour of being the first woman elected to Canada’s House of Commons as a member of Parliament.

Women’s history isn’t just about acknowledging the pioneering roles like Agnes’s but understanding the values and the tireless advocacy that women have stood for. Agnes championed women’s rights, prison reform, disarmament. As a member of the Ontario Legislature, Agnes was instrumental in propelling Ontario’s equal pay legislation, a pivotal step towards gender equity in the workplace.

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History often highlights remarkable figures, but it is equally vital to recognize that the history of women is also woven from the countless everyday actions, sacrifices and the perseverance of nameless and faceless women. These are our mothers, caregivers, mentors, PSWs, registered nurses, teachers, education workers, women in food and retail, and many others.

This month is about honouring their profound contributions to society and reminding us that progress and change stem from collective efforts. We must remember that Women’s History Month is not only a time for celebration, but it’s also a call to action.

As I’ve said before, it is a reminder that while we have made progress, there is still more work to be done. We need real action to support women, especially Black women, Indigenous women, racialized women, LGBTQ women, gender non-conforming women and women with disabilities who have disproportionately been impacted by social injustice.

We must address the barriers, enhance representation and champion initiatives that empower women in all facets of life. All women should have the opportunity to thrive and, collectively, we must work to create the necessary social and economic conditions for that. We need to understand that affordable housing is a human right. Housing issues are women’s issues. “Equal pay for equal work” is not a mere aspiration, but a fundamental principle.

We must recognize that Bill 124 stands as a barrier to achieving fair compensation for our public servants, including health care workers—the majority are women. Economic issues are women’s issues.

As we commemorate Women’s History Month, let this be a source of inspiration for all of us to continue our collective efforts towards a brighter and more equal future. After all, Speaker, women’s rights are human rights.

Motions

House sittings

Mr. Trevor Jones: I move that pursuant to standing order 7(c), the House shall continue to meet past the ordinary hour of adjournment until midnight on the following dates: Wednesday, November 15; Thursday, November 16; Monday, November 20; Tuesday, November 21; Wednesday, November 22; Thursday, November 23; Monday, November 27; Tuesday, November 28; Wednesday, November 29; Thursday, November 30; Monday, December 4; Tuesday, December 5; Wednesday, December 6; Thursday, December 7; Monday, December 11; Tuesday, December 12; Wednesday, December 13; and Thursday, December 14, 2023.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The deputy government House leader has moved that pursuant to standing over 7(c), the House shall continue to meet past the ordinary hour of adjournment—

Interjection: Dispense.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Dispense? Dispense.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carries? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

Petitions

Social assistance

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: This petition is titled “To Raise Social Assistance Rates,” and it reads:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario’s social assistance rates are well below Canada’s official Market Basket Measure poverty line and far from adequate to cover the rising costs of food and rent: $733 for individuals on OW and $1,227 for ODSP;

“Whereas an open letter to the Premier and cabinet ministers, signed by over 230 organizations, recommends that social assistance rates be doubled for both” OW and ODSP;

“Whereas the recent small increase of 5% for ODSP still leaves these citizens below the poverty line, both they and those receiving the frozen OW rates are struggling to survive at this time of alarming inflation;

“Whereas the government of Canada recognized in its CERB program that a basic income of $2,000 per month was the standard support required by individuals who lost their employment during the pandemic;

“We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly to double social assistance rates for OW and ODSP.”

I fully support this petition, will affix my signature to it, and I want to thank Sally Palmer for collecting the signatures on this petition.

Hospital services

Mr. John Fraser: I have a petition “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board of directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023; and

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I agree with this petition. I’m affixing my signature and giving it to page Minuka.

I want to thank the Save the Minden ER people for coming and delivering those petitions today.

Hospital services

Mr. Chris Glover: This petition is “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board of directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I fully support this petition, will affix my signature and pass it to page Sophia to take to the table.

Hospital services

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I believe there are going to be about 10,293 signatures read in on a petition to reopen the Minden ER, by a few of us.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board of directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023; and

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I wholeheartedly support this petition, will sign it and ask page Ella to bring it to the table, Speaker.

Hospital services

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: I would like to read this petition to the House.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board of directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

This petition is signed by 10,797 residents. I’m happy to affix my signature to the petition and to return it to the table with page Kian.

Hospital services

Mme Lucille Collard: I, too, have a petition regarding the Minden ER.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board of directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, effective June 1, 2023;

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“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I agree with this petition, will affix my name to it and give it to page Sophia Rose to bring to the table.

Hospital services

Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I’m submitting 500 of over 10,000 petitions to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department. It says:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Board of Directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

Speaker, of course I support this petition. I will be signing it and giving it to page Justin.

Hospital services

MPP Karen McCrimmon: I, too, am standing to present petitions on the preservation of emergency care services in rural Ontario.

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Board of Directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of services is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I agree with said petition. I will affix my name and hand it to page Vera-Claire to take to the table.

Hospital services

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: I’d like to also put in this petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Board of Directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I fully support this petition and will affix my signature to it as well.

Hospital services

Ms. Sandy Shaw: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Board of Directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

This is a critically important petition. I’m going to add my name to the thousands of names of the good people of Minden and give it to Erin to take to the table.

Hospital services

Mr. Mike Schreiner: We have a few hundred more petitions being handed to me. I think we’re almost up to 11,000 now.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Board of Directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I continue to support this petition. I will sign it and ask page Minuka to bring it to the table.

Hospital services

Mr. Guy Bourgouin: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board of directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I fully support this petition, and I will give it to page Kian to bring to the Clerks’ table.

Hospital services

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I am pleased to present this petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on behalf of 242 residents of the Minden area. It reads:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board of directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I am proud to affix my signature and will send it to the table with page Sophia.

Hospital services

Mr. Wayne Gates: I have a number of petitions here. There are so many of them, I can barely lift them.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board of directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I’ll sign my name to the petition, and I’ll give them to the page.

Hospital services

Miss Monique Taylor: I’m honoured to be able to lend my voice to this petition today as well.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board of directors has, without consultation with the affected stakeholders, closed the emergency department located in the municipality of Minden Hills, Ontario, on June 1, 2023;

“Whereas the loss of service is jeopardizing the lives of residents in the community;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to use her powers under section 9.1 of the Public Hospitals Act to immediately reopen the Minden emergency department.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this. I’m going to give it to page Ella to bring to the Clerk.

Health care

Ms. Doly Begum: I have a very timely petition here on international Women’s History Month.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Bill 124, titled Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019, capped salary increases at 1%, at a time of historic rates of inflation and interest rates;

“Whereas the nursing crisis has compromised patient safety and the functioning of our public health care system;

“Whereas emergency rooms are closing and even ICUs are at risk of having to close because of health care staffing shortages”—and we just heard about one right now;

“Whereas an Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling released on Tuesday, November 29, 2022, by Justice Markus Koehnen says that the law infringes on the rights to collective bargaining and freedom of association and declared the act to be ‘void and of no effect;’

“Whereas the courts have declared this legislation to be unconstitutional;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately repeal Bill 124, Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019.”

Speaker, I fully support this petition, will affix my signature to it and give it to page Emelia to take to the Clerk.

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Orders of the Day

Monte Kwinter

Hon. Todd Smith: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): I recognize the Minister of Energy.

Hon. Todd Smith: Madam Speaker, if you seek it you’ll find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance of the late Monte Kwinter, 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 (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The Minister of Energy is seeking unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in remembrance of the late Monte Kwinter, 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. Monte Kwinter, who was the MPP for Wilson Heights during the 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th Parliaments, and York Centre during the 37th, 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st Parliaments.

Joining us in the Speaker’s gallery are Mr. Kwinter’s family: his children, Richard Kwinter, Robert Kwinter and Lisa Rotenberg; his daughters-in-law, Marlene Yip and Joni Kwinter; and his sons-in-law, Matthew Rotenberg and Hy Shore.

Also in the Speaker’s gallery are David Warner, Speaker during the 35th Parliament; Dave Levac, Speaker during the 40th and 41st Parliaments; Judy Marsales, member for Hamilton West during the 38th Parliament; Percy Hatfield, member for Windsor–Tecumseh during the 40th, 41st and 42nd Parliaments; Donna Cansfield, member for Etobicoke Centre during the 38th, 39th and 40th Parliaments; Jean-Marc Lalonde, member for Prescott and Russell during the 36th Parliament and Glengarry–Prescott–Russell in the 37th, 38th and 39th Parliaments; John Wilkinson, member for Perth–Middlesex in the 38th Parliament and Perth–Wellington in the 39th Parliament. Thank you so much for being here.

I recognize the Solicitor General.

Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Monte Kwinter was for so many years my own MPP. He loved his community and it was obvious. He set a high standard of being an MPP in attending as many local events as he could, and he surrounded himself with capable and loyal staff, who were an extension of himself. He set a standard of excellence when it came time to returning calls—even those calls that were difficult, because one of them was mine. His colleagues describe him as respectful and polite and gracious and elegant. These are traits we need now more than ever.

I had many personal opportunities to see him in action, but perhaps it was his grandson’s comments at the funeral in the eulogy he gave when he said it’s about being “in the arena”—that the greatest distinction is service to others.

I heard many stories that he spent a lot of time criss-crossing the aisle right here in this chamber because he had friends all over this chamber. He was an exemplary individual who was compassionate and empathetic. These, again, are traits that we need so badly in 2023.

His campaigns were by all standards old-fashioned, but they were real. For many of us, we remember him and his late wife, Wilma, sitting or standing at the corner of Bathurst and Wilson, just waving and connecting with thousands of cars driving by. I have to tell you it worked for me. This was Monte.

Madame la Présidente, la raison de leur service est pour faire une différence dans la vie des gens—lorsqu’ils ne s’y attendent pas—et parce que nous croyons en notre province et en notre avenir.

And Monte believed we can make a difference in someone’s life every day, because he believed in our province and in our future.

“A man,” wrote an Irish poet, “is original when he speaks the truth that has always been known to all good men,” and Monte was an original. He was a good man, a man of character, a man who loved his family and his treasured wife, Wilma—and we remember Wilma today.

Monte and I were about the same age when our journey began. Monte served here almost 33 years; I have a long way to go. But when you start at this age, you start by leaving your ego behind; you start with understanding that we have a role to do good here, and he did good. He was, in fact, the minister of corrections and public safety in the early 2000s, about 20 years ago, a role that I have today—another great connection to Monte.

But one thing that always struck me was his gentility and his kindness and his wanting to learn about others. He was one of about two dozen Jewish MPPs who have been elected here since Confederation, grounded in the values that he knew about his religion, and he took it seriously—something I do as well.

People don’t become leaders because they’re great; they become great because they’re willing to serve as leaders. He did so in the cabinet of both Premier Peterson and Premier McGuinty, in tough roles. Sometimes he said things his party didn’t agree with, and that was okay with the residents of York Centre. When Monte spoke, people listened.

In my office remains a legacy of Monte, a beautiful collage oil painting with specific instructions: that this painting belongs to those who serve as MPP for York Centre, something that I treasure.

A Canadian Rabbi, Rabbi Reuven Bulka, once wrote how we have to, as Canadians, be inspired with optimism and humility and devotion to kindness. Again, this was Monte.

So, to Richard and Rob and Lisa and Kathy and all of the esteemed people in the gallery today, we say, may Monte’s memory always be for a blessing, and may you find comfort in the legacy he left us all here. Thank you. Merci. Meegwetch.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member for Humber River–Black Creek.

Mr. Tom Rakocevic: It is an honour to rise on behalf of the official opposition and pay tribute to the late Monte Kwinter. We are fortunate to be joined today by members of his family: Richard and Robert Kwinter, Lisa Rotenberg, Marlene Yip, Joni Kwinter, Matthew Rotenberg, Hy Shore—as well as many friends, other former parliamentarians and, of course, many more watching from afar.

I never had the pleasure to meet Monte, but I knew his name well, growing up in the neighbouring riding that I now represent, Humber River–Black Creek. As an everyday youth, I had no concept of political ridings, so he was a larger-than-life persona who represented part of the greater community I thought myself a part of.

To those who knew and loved him, his history and accomplishments are well known. Born in Toronto on March 22, 1931, Monte was a man of many talents and interests. He pursued education in many post-secondary institutions, both here in Canada and the United States. And prior to entering the political arena, he was the successful owner of his own real estate firm, also serving as the vice-president of the Ontario College of Art.

Monte was first elected as a Liberal member of provincial Parliament in 1985 for the riding of Wilson Heights, which later became York Centre. Beginning his new political life at the age of 54, he went on to win a stunning nine successive elections spanning 33 years and including multiple cabinet posts—a true testament to his local popularity and approval, regardless of the times. During that three-decade tenure, Monte achieved an incredible record of his time, becoming the oldest person to ever serve in the Ontario Legislature at the age of 81 years and 310 days, showing his enduring commitment and dedication.

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He accomplished many things as an MPP, including a bill that allowed greater access to naturopathic medicine; strong advocacy for the creation of the all-digital, local Humber River Hospital that continues to serve and treat countless individuals in their time of need; and he brought long-overdue Holocaust remembrance and Jewish observances here in Ontario’s Parliament. And, of course, much, much more.

Never having had the privilege to serve with Monte, I reached out to a common friend, well-respected former MPP Percy Hatfield, who was a contemporary to Monte here in the Legislature, to personalize this in a way I cannot, having never met him myself. He was kind enough to share a few words and was honoured to speak about Monte. Here is an excerpt of what he said:

“I first met Monte during the 1985 provincial election campaign. I was the CBC TV reporter assigned to Liberal leader David Peterson’s media bus, covering the election for all CBC stations in the province. One of our Toronto stops was when the campaign team pulled over to join Monte where they made his brother Jack’s gourmet hot dogs, and yes, as you already know—the Kwinter gourmet hot dogs were delicious!

“Of course, Monte won that election, in a Liberal minority government, and had several cabinet assignments in the following years and terms in office ... as a parliamentary assistant.”

Percy goes on to say, “I was elected in a by-election in Windsor–Tecumseh, in 2013” and “that’s when I got to know Mr. Kwinter” better. “I always thought of him as the elder statesman of the Liberal caucus at that point. We would chat from time to time, I reminded him” many times “of our first meeting with the gourmet hot dogs ... and I discovered while researching my first attempt to create the position of a Poet Laureate for Ontario, that Monte Kwinter has previously had the same idea but even though his party was in power at the time, his private member’s bill didn’t lead to the creation of the office, demonstrating the difficulty of success in the adoption of private member bills, regardless of party affiliation.”

Speaker, as you know, Percy took up Monte’s torch in the establishment of this worthy endeavour, the Poet Laureate, until it finally passed. Percy further said, “I paid tribute to Monte’s” great “efforts at that” time “during my first attempt ... and I didn’t get the Poet Laureate position, in memory of the late Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip through the House until my third try ... but I knew Monte always had my back on that private member’s bill, even after he had retired.”

Percy concluded by saying, “Monte Kwinter was a nice man, a quiet man, not one to heckle across the aisle from his seat in the front row. He was highly regarded in the House. When he spoke”—and we’re hearing it again—“people listened.

“His favourite part of the job was meeting his constituents. He served them well over his many years in office, and I hold the opinion, that despite his health challenges in his final years, the people of Wilson Heights and” later “York Centre would have re-elected him again had he allowed his name to stand one final time.”

Speaker, I regret never having met the late Monte Kwinter, and I feel honoured and privileged to remember him here today. May he rest in peace after a well-lived, well-accomplished, well-respected and well-remembered life—the kind of life we can all hope to achieve. Thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member from Ottawa South.

Mr. John Fraser: It is truly an honour and a privilege to pay tribute to Monte Kwinter, MPP for Wilson Heights in the 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th Parliaments, and member for York Centre in the 37th, 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Parliaments. Nine Parliaments; nine elections; six Premiers, more than 33 years of service to his community: That is a pretty incredible accomplishment by any standard.

He was first elected when he was 54, exactly the same age I was elected at. And it is unimaginable to me that I would be here 23 years later—and probably for most of you, right?

Interjections.

Mr. John Fraser: Yes, yes. It is. It is really incredible. And it’s kind of like what Cal Ripken Jr. is to baseball, right? He’s like the iron man of the Legislature, because what we do know here is that, along with long hours, our jobs can be really physically demanding. I am in awe of that accomplishment. No offence to all of us here, but this place can grind you down. And to be able to do that for such a long time, and with such a good spirit, is absolutely so incredible.

I only sat with Monte for five years, so I had to do some reading and talk to a few people so I could get to know Monte a bit better. I came to the conclusion that Monte was truly a happy, faithful warrior. Whether in his role as a minister or a parliamentary assistant leading a trade mission, or just working as a community MPP, he was always successful and happy.

Now, I did see an interesting article from the Toronto Star. This should be interesting to many of you, because this is January 1986. When he was first made Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations in June of 1985, Monte said that the Ontario censor board should not be determining which movies people can see, which was something the government and the Premier of the time didn’t actually believe in—but Monte believed it. It was a lesson learned for him, though.

I had never heard of if this before, but I guess there was the infamous “salamigate,” where apparently Monte was bringing two salamis to his daughter in Israel on a trade mission. The folks on the other side were making a big deal of it, calling it a “salamigate,” inferring that somehow he was trying to take advantage of this trade mission to advantage a family business. Of course, all they wanted was for Monte to take the bait, which he didn’t do.

In the same article—and you all will get a kick out of this—it said, “The biggest challenge now facing Kwinter is introducing legislation allowing for the sale of beer and wine in corner stores,” which was not supported by the NDP or the Tories at the time. We’re almost 40 years later, folks. Isn’t that incredible?

I read a great remembrance by Steve Paikin. There is a lot of really good stuff in it, so if you get the chance, you should read it. You can find it online. Here is what struck me the most, and I think it is really important to all of us in here:

“No one at Queen’s Park knew Kwinter as well as Pina Conicella, who worked in his office for all of Kwinter’s time at the Legislature.

“‘Monte was never in a bad mood.... He came to the office every morning, regardless of what was going on in his life, and asked us how we were doing. He really cared for us all. He was like a dad to me.’

“Conicella says that, no matter how sticky the circumstances, she never saw Kwinter lose his temper or raise his voice. ‘If we made a mistake, he would say, “‘No problem—it can be fixed,’” and that reduced lots of anxiety among the staff,’ she says. He believed in me and had confidence in me, hence why I stuck around so long.” I think that’s an important thing for all of us to remember. That’s a lesson that Monte left for all of us. He had it right.

My former boss Premier Dalton McGuinty shared with me some thoughts and some of the comments he made when they celebrated Monte’s—I was going to say, “retirement from politics,” but I think it was a departure from here; I’m not sure if he ever really retired. Here is something Dalton said in 2018:

“Monte has a proud bearing.... He can be very private ... but he long ago revealed himself to be who he truly is: a man of unwavering devotion.

“He enthusiastically pursued politics.... He dedicated himself to so many for so long ... because Monte genuinely enjoys helping ... people who face challenges in life they simply can’t overcome on their own.”

Now, Speaker, I know I have been over time, but I have to share this—it’s kind of strange. When I got here and I met Monte, really for the first time, spending time with him, he always made me think of my mother. I don’t know why. I couldn’t figure it out, but it was like, I’d look at Monte and Mom would pop into my head. After doing all of this, I understand now: Still waters run deep. Monte was a rock; he was a person of deep faith. And that presence that he had was the same kind of presence I’d seen in my mother and that I’d seen in other people. He really was a very, very special member of this assembly, a special person, a great man.

Here’s the last paragraph of the article that I referenced earlier: “Despite his rather stark introduction to his political life, he has already begun campaigning in shopping malls for the next election, expected in two years. However, he said, ‘I certainly don’t look upon this as being my life.’” I’m not sure that Monte would say the same thing right now, because it was his life. He brought life to this place.

I want to thank all of the family for being here. It’s really an honour to say some words about your dad, your grandfather and just a very special man. I feel very honoured and privileged. Thank you very much for your time.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): I’d like to thank all the members for their tributes. And for the family and friends who are here to listen to them, thank you for sharing him with us and sharing him with the public. Thank you for being here today to be a part of this tribute. We, as you’ve heard, appreciate the service that he has given, and we appreciate you for allowing us to offer tribute.

Orders of the day?

Hon. Michael Parsa: It’s a tough act to follow, but no further business, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): There being no further business and no private members’ public business today, the House stands adjourned until 10:15 a.m. on Monday, October 16.

The House adjourned at 1352.