43e législature, 1e session

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO

Tuesday 24 October 2023 Mardi 24 octobre 2023

Orders of the Day

Convenient Care at Home Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 sur la prestation commode de soins à domicile

Members’ Statements

Automotive industry

Housing

Volunteers

Cat Lake First Nation

Scooty Mobility Inc.

Tenant protection

Non-profit organizations

Islamic Heritage Month

Automotive industry

Highlands Cinemas

House sittings

Member for Hamilton Centre

Introduction of Visitors

Question Period

Government accountability

Housing

Housing

Cost of living

Government accountability

Economic development

Government accountability

Municipal funding

Long-term care

Health care

Government accountability

Northern Ontario development

Long-term care

Consumer protection

Paramedic services

Notice of dissatisfaction

Deferred Votes

Convenient Care at Home Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 sur la prestation commode de soins à domicile

Notice of dissatisfaction

Introduction of Visitors

Petitions

Addiction services

Dental care

Housing

Social assistance

Gasoline prices

Labour legislation

Front-line workers

Mental health services

Winter highway maintenance

Long-term care

Multiple sclerosis

Subventions aux résidents du Nord pour frais de transport à des fins médicales

Orders of the Day

Honouring Our Veterans Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 visant à rendre hommage à nos anciens combattants

Private Members’ Public Business

Affordable housing

Adjournment Debate

Government accountability

Government accountability

Municipal funding

     

 

 

   
   
 
   
   
     

 

 

 

 

   

 

The House met at 0900.

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

Prayers.

Orders of the Day

Convenient Care at Home Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 sur la prestation commode de soins à domicile

Resuming the debate adjourned on October 23, 2023, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 135, An Act to amend the Connecting Care Act, 2019 with respect to home and community care services and health governance and to make related amendments to other Acts / Projet de loi 135, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2019 pour des soins interconnectés en ce qui concerne les services de soins à domicile et en milieu communautaire et la gouvernance de la santé et apportant des modifications connexes à d’autres lois.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Jeff Burch: It’s a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill 135, Convenient Care at Home Act. The Ontario NDP caucus will not be supporting this piece of legislation. I’ve been speaking with folks in my riding of Niagara Centre, and it’s clear our health care and home care system is broken. We have another health care bill from this government that fails to address the crucial issues impacting our home and health care services. This bill fails to provide any measures that will recruit the health human resource workforce we desperately need to sustain our health care system. The bill fails to prevent private companies from taking over public home care services—or have any accountability structure.

Bill 175, Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act, repealed the Home Care and Community Services Act. Bill 175 opened the door to the privatization of home and community care services by allowing services to be administered by Ontario Health instead of the Ministry of Health.

This bill creates an arm’s-length agency to oversee home care, with board-of-directors members appointed by the government. They can easily make decisions that further privatize our home care.

A few weeks ago, I was joined by thousands of people, on the front lawn of Queen’s Park, who fully reject any attempt by this government to further privatize their health care services. I was joined by countless folks from across Ontario, including the Niagara region and organizations like the Niagara Health Coalition, SEIU, Unifor, CUPE, and many others.

Rabble reported that Peter Groves, a Hamilton Health Coalition member, said, “The system” this government “is implementing isn’t working. A lot of home care is being privatized. When not-for-profit contracts are up for renewal, more and more are not being renewed....

“We have to get enough people stepping forward saying the system isn’t working. Doug Ford, you’re making it worse, not better.”

The article goes on to say, “Private companies are more costly to the public system and if the Ford government were to start charging user fees for home care, that would be a financial burden Groves and his wife would not be able to budget for.”

So, again, we see nothing in this bill to prevent private companies from taking over public home care services without governance, without any public accountability structure and without public interest protections.

There’s nothing in this bill that will help recruit the health resource workforce our health care system desperately needs.

Home care workers were already the lowest-paid in the health sector. Bill 124 made it impossible for non-profit and public income care providers to recruit and retain staff. Home care organizations had to decrease services and expand wait-lists due to staffing pressures. Elderly people and people with frail health reported missed appointments and unmet care needs. And 12.8% of the sector’s key front-line positions—PSWs, RNs and RPNs—are currently vacant.

Home and community care services are dramatically underfunded. As a result, people cannot be discharged to go home from the hospital. Post-surgical rehab and recovery must happen in the hospital because services are not consistently available in the community and that, of course, is much more expensive.

Recently in my office, I met with front-line health care workers, including PSWs. They told me that morale is low because of how this government treats health care workers. I was shocked when they told me that PSWs in Niagara, along with other workers in the Niagara Health system, are still fighting for their $3-an-hour pandemic pay. One worker pointed out that wages are so low, they would actually make more working at Costco. Yet, this government can’t figure out why there are so many vacant positions in health care. This is another bill on the topic of health care that could have addressed this, along with other pay equity issues within the health care system.

Home Care Ontario has been advocating for this government to do more. Sue VanderBent, the CEO of Home Care Ontario, said, “We aren’t doing enough to shore up the health care system outside the hospitals,” and that “the low wages are a deterrent to both recruitment and retention of front-line staff.”

CTV News reported:

“In its pre-budget report to the province, Home Care Ontario said the vacancy rates for nurses in home care stands at 17% and personal support workers sits at 12%.

“An entry-level nurse in home care earns $11 less than the same role in a hospital....

“A personal support worker in home care makes, on average, $4.61 less per hour than one working in a hospital....

“A home care personal support worker makes, on average, $20.30 per hour. An Amazon warehouse worker earns $20.37 per hour and a cashier at Cosco earns $19.87 per hour.”

The report goes on to say, “Our research indicates that a 10% increase in PSW wages would add 1,265 PSWs to the home care workforce, while a matching increase for nurses and therapists would have a similarly significant positive impact on recruitment and retention efforts going forward.” Yet, the bill before us today does none of that.

This bill does not even guarantee that Ontario Health and Ontario Health atHome workers will be unionized and full-time or full-time-equivalent workers with benefits. There’s nothing in this bill preventing Ontario Health atHome from contracting services to a temporary nursing agency rather than a home and community care agency. Provider organizations must be prevented from using temporary agency workers and mandated to use full-time or full-time-equivalent unionized workers.

This bill does not specify that the health service providers that receive contracts must be non-profit. This will allow for-profit companies to take over the home and community care sector. So again, this bill does nothing to help recruit the health human resource workforce needed to sustain our health care system.

How can the people of Ontario trust this government when they promise to fix home care when they still have not fulfilled their promise from five years ago to resolve hallway health care? In my riding, the Welland hospital recently lost its after-hours emergency surgical services. The Port Colborne urgent care, along with the Fort Erie urgent care, lost its overnight services. Both are slated to close in 2028.

Recently, I held a town hall in Port Colborne pertaining to the closure of urgent care hours. We had many folks share their experiences with the Port Colborne urgent care and the recent changes made to their hours. One resident of Port Colborne shared that they “rely on the urgent care for their primary care,” and that “53% of residents do not have a primary care physician” in Port Colborne. This shows that there’s a health care crisis on our hands, and that many folks do not have regular access to adequate health care.

Another Port Colborne resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, shared that they and many other people close to them have resourced what is known as “hospital shopping,” going from hospital to hospital in the hopes that they’ll be able to see them in a shorter period of time for their health concerns.

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Another resident, Leanne, pointed out that our riding has a rapidly aging population and that the health care crisis in Niagara Centre will exacerbate the effects on seniors, some of whom are unable to drive, or require the means to get to a hospital, or when urgent cares are closed—which they are for 12 hours of the day now in my riding—or after hours of their primary care physician. How can this government commit to home care when they have failed to commit to basic health care?

This government is not suited to fix the health care crisis. Neither is it their priority. How are they going to promise my constituents that they will have access to home care if they do not have access to regular health care? There are local hospitals that run over 100% maximum capacity and have limited hours for emergency surgery. The Port Colborne and Fort Erie urgent cares are now only available to accept patients from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, as if people choose when to have an emergency. They’re also deprived of access to a family physician. My constituents and the people of Ontario need to have these health care issues addressed before they can believe that this government is going to provide proper care.

Speaker, the Ontario NDP caucus will not be supporting this legislation because it is clear our health care and home care system is broken, and this bill is another missed opportunity by this government. It fails to address the crucial issues impacting our home and health care services. The Ontario NDP official opposition has long been calling for a one-billion-dollar investment into home care, investing in new, reliable, expanded services, a $400 monthly caregiver benefit. Sadly, we see none of that in this bill.

Furthermore, this bill fails to prevent private companies from taking over public home care services or any accountability structure. PSWs, along with other workers in the Niagara Health system and across Ontario, are still fighting for their $3 pandemic pay. This government needs to treat health care workers with respect, and that starts with paying them what they deserve.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): We’ll go to questions.

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: The goal of this bill is to amalgamate the existing local health networks to become the service organization, Ontario Health atHome, Over time, a gradual transition, it will be through the Ontario health teams, of which we have 57 approved in this province that are in strategic locations across this province, servicing Ontarians. What’s going to happen is we are going to go from a system that has been fragmented, where there has been inconsistency of service; timeliness of service has not been there. We’re going to get it to the point where it will be one service provider and then managing it through these 57 approved OHTs. So it’s going to be care close to home.

My question to the member opposite: Do you not agree that we cannot stay with the status quo, and by doing this with this bill, we are going to get home care to your constituents and my constituents faster?

Mr. Jeff Burch: Thank you to the member for the question. It’s not going to be care close to home because the government—regardless of what they put in this bill, which is really tinkering—have not properly supported health care workers in our system. That’s the problem in our system.

In my area, it’s ridiculous to say that this is going to create care close to home because I have emergency departments shutting down hours. I have people in Port Colborne that have to drive now to Welland to find that the hospital in Welland has reduced hours, and now they have to get taken in ambulance to Niagara Falls. It’s getting worse and worse and worse. Nothing in this bill is going to make it better.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: As MPP for London West, one of the things I hear about most from constituents is around the home care that they receive. Either they don’t get enough hours allocated; there’s a revolving door of PSWs who don’t show up; they don’t get enough notification of when the visit is going to be. I also hear from PSWs who are constantly frustrated by their inability to provide the care and support that they were trained to provide. They are underpaid, overworked and certainly very much undervalued.

We understand the problems with this government’s approach to home care. I wondered if the member could elaborate a little bit about what an NDP government would do to improve home care in Ontario.

Mr. Jeff Burch: Thank you to the member from London West for the question and for her advocacy for health care workers in her community. The problem is clearly that we’ve treated health care workers so badly they’re leaving the system. I think everyone knows that. It’s incredible that this government has not acknowledged that problem. I just met with PSWs in my riding that haven’t even received their $3 pandemic pay. When you treat people like that, how can they have any faith that they’re going to be treated properly in their profession?

What we would do is start treating health care workers with the dignity and respect they deserve so that they stay in the system and continue to provide quality care to our constituents.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Thank you. Next question?

Mr. Billy Pang: The Convenient Care at Home Act, 2023, if passed, could consolidate the 14 home and community care service organizations into a single organization and make the service more convenient. Ontario is investing an additional $10.3 million in 2023-24 to support Ontario health teams to implement better ways to connect primary hospitals, home and community. With an investment of more than $124 million, Ontario health teams and other health service providers are also investing in digital and virtual care options for people in Ontario.

My question to the member is, if he said he’s not supporting this act, does he mean that he wants nothing from this bill to support his community? Yes or no?

Mr. Jeff Burch: Thank you to the member for the question. If there are no workers in the system, it doesn’t matter what kind of tinkering you do with the organization, there aren’t people to take care of folks. That’s the bottom line.

I just described what’s happening in my riding with the shutting down of emergency services, with employees that haven’t even received their pandemic pay. People are leaving for jobs in other places. That’s continuing to happen and it’s largely because of this government’s actions: Bill 124 and the way that they’ve treated workers.

They can put whatever they want in this bill to reorganize things in the health care system, but if they don’t start treating workers properly, there’s not going to be anybody there to take care of people.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The next question.

Mr. Chris Glover: I thank the member for his comments today. You’re talking about Bill 135 as a bill that’s teeing up our health care system for further privatization. You also mentioned that there’s a shortage of PSWs that could be partly addressed if they actually increased PSWs’ wages. You said that they would be able to attract another 1,200 PSWs into our home care system.

Do you think the people of Ontario would rather have their tax dollars invested in paying PSWs better so they have better home care, or do you think the people of Ontario would rather see $650 million invested in a mega spa at Ontario Place?

Mr. Jeff Burch: Thank you to the member from Spadina–Fort York for his question and also his advocacy on the Ontario Place issue.

I think people in Ontario are mystified. When they look at what’s happening in their own community—and we’ve heard of people from Minden and other places whose emergency departments have been shut down—and then they see $8.3 billion boondoggles, they see private spas being built, they see this lavish spending and trips to Las Vegas; and here in their community their emergency department is shutting down. Clearly something doesn’t add up there. I think people are increasingly growing frustrated and are befuddled by this government’s lack of priorities.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: To the tune of 3,031 PSWs enrolled as of February 2023 who have taken part in the great program that we have provided for those interested in becoming a PSW, paying for their tuition and their books to be able to do this. In September 2022, 6,776 PSWs. They’re coming through because of the programs our government has provided.

But, to this bill: This bill is all about the fragmented system that we currently have in providing home care. That is why we are making this legislative change, to put it into one Ontario Health atHome. Back to my question from earlier: Why is the status quo of a fragmented system and going to a coordinated system—why would you not want to break the status quo and come with us and vote for this bill?

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Mr. Jeff Burch: Thank you to the member for the question. Look, they can put whatever they want in this bill. They can talk about a fragmented system, but if there’s nobody to work in the system, we’re not going to have health care. We can have this discussion all day long. They can talk about, you know, any kind of changes to the organization that they want to make, but they’ve treated health care workers terribly. They are coming into my office—haven’t even received pandemic pay, for goodness’ sake. They’re leaving the system, because they’re being treated badly.

So you can make whatever changes you want in this bill; if you don’t start treating workers properly, they will continue to leave and our health care system will continue to deteriorate.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): One last question? The member for Ottawa Centre.

Ms. Chandra Pasma: Ottawa West–Nepean.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Ottawa West–Nepean.

Ms. Chandra Pasma: All of Ottawa is lovely; I just think Ottawa West–Nepean is the best part.

Thank you to the member for—I want to get this riding name correct—Niagara Centre for those wise remarks on this bill.

Earlier this month, Seniors for Social Action released a report looking at the shortcomings of our home and community care system in Ontario, which they say is driving more seniors to actually consider MAID. One of the observances they make in that report is that the Ontario government provides six times as much funding for institutional care as they do for home care.

I know many of the home and community care organizations in my riding are reeling from the lack of funding and have been begging for funding from this government to actually be able to keep their doors open.

So my question to the member is, why doesn’t this government fund home care like it actually matters?

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): For a quick response?

Mr. Jeff Burch: Thank you to the member for Ottawa West–Nepean and for the work that she does in pointing out what’s happening in her community with privatized health care, which is a problem that’s growing.

She’s absolutely correct. Institutional care costs so much more than home care. It’s a real puzzle to us why this government, if they really want to save money, if they really want to provide better care, don’t provide better care in people’s homes much more cost-efficiently, rather than—

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Thank you.

Moving on to further debate, recognizing the member for Mississauga Centre.

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: Madam Speaker, good morning. I’m proud to rise today to support Bill 135, Convenient Care at Home Act.

Before I address the bill, I just want to say that the fearmongering that’s coming from the opposition yesterday and continuing today—no wonder that some of our young people are questioning whether a career in health care is the right one. Because if you sit on that side of the House, it’s doom and gloom, but on this side of the House, we have some good news. Madam Speaker, you know what the good news is? That last year we had a record number of nursing students enrolled to become nurses in Ontario—30,000 nursing students, under the leadership of this government and this Minister of Colleges and Universities.

Under the leadership of this government, we allowed colleges to offer stand-alone baccalaureate programs such that just down the street from here, in an NDP riding, we have a francophone college for the first time that will be training French-language nurses right here in downtown Toronto. That is under the leadership of our government.

We have added 12,000 internationally trained nurses into the system, just last year. So despite what the opposition is saying, which is completely lacking of statistics, we on this side of the House have the numbers to show for it. In terms of PSWs, PSWs are our respected partners in care.

You know, when I was a nursing student, I trained with PSWs. I’ve learned from them, and even now when I deliver care, I often rely on the support from PSWs. They’re knowledgeable. They’re skilled and they’re part of our health care workforce.

Guess what, Madam Speaker? We have invested, into the accelerated program, into the training of 16,000 PSWs since we took office. That is a record number. I don’t know where that NDP math is coming from, but here on this side of the House, we have the numbers to support what we’re doing. I’m so proud to be part of this government, which is transforming the way we deliver health care in the province of Ontario.

So let’s talk about home care. Already, new models of home care delivery are being implemented to enable a more integrated experience for clients and their families, from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, to Newmarket, to the University Health Network right here in Toronto, to local Ontario health teams. But we know that there is more work to do to ensure our loved ones have access to care they deserve in their home, when they need it.

The Convenient Care at Home Act is a game-changer. This act, if passed, will mean that patients and families will see real, tangible improvements in how home care is delivered. But don’t just take my word for it.

Sandra Ketchen, president and CEO of Spectrum Health Care had this to say: “Today’s announcement is an important step in modernizing Ontario’s home care system. We look forward to continuing to work together to provide the best possible care to patients, in the comfort of their homes.”

And Matt Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health, said, “This ‘connected care’ approach, and the provincial investments to support it, will help transform health care delivery and support the vision of all Ontarians having full access to the care they need, across the spectrum of health care—all working together to deliver integrated care, through their Ontario health team.”

Our health system partners know that changes are needed and that the status quo is simply not working. We will continue to engage with our partners across the home care sector to support this much-needed modernization.

And our constituents, the reason we all wake up every morning and show up here at work—I wake up at 5 a.m.; I’m sure a lot of the members here do too. They are the reason why we come to this place and why we work so hard, and they have told us that we need to transform home care, to centre home care around the patient.

For example, in my riding of Mississauga Centre, I have a beautiful co-op housing—it’s called Camille’s Place. A lot of seniors live at Camille’s Place. I recently hosted a Thanksgiving lunch with the seniors, and they told me that they have concerns with how home care is delivered—PSWs do not always show up as scheduled—and that a change is needed, and that it has to be more localized in the community and more responsive to their needs. But I also heard so many positive stories, just chatting with the ladies over some turkey. They told me that their PSWs have become a part of their family. They show up day in and day out, respond to their needs, and over time they have become family members.

Again, this goes to show how indispensable the PSWs who work in our system are. They are part of our communities, and that’s why they need to be embedded locally into our Ontario health teams—instead of this fragmented approach that we are currently seeing.

It is so important to ensure our seniors have access to dignified, compassionate care as they age, close to their loved ones and community. Our seniors built our communities, our province and our country, and it is imperative that we take care of them. They have done their job; now it is time that we do ours. Our government is continuing to invest in services for our seniors as well as their families and caregivers.

I would like to speak a little bit about my private member’s bill that I introduced, together with the member from Thornhill, Bill 121, Improving Dementia Care in Ontario Act, because it is kind of related. We’re doing the hard work to support those living with dementia. A lot of those living with dementia, of course, need home care. That is why we have to have an all-government approach and all-government strategy to work with persons living with dementia, whether they are in their home, whether they are in a long-term-care facility, or whether they happen to be in the hospital. So, in the 2022 budget, the government announced a $15-million investment over three years towards Ontario’s Dementia Strategy, to expand community-based dementia services such as home care or day programs. And in 2022-23, the ministry allocated the first $5-million installment of the $15-million investment towards initiatives that reduce patient flow from hospital to a more appropriate care setting.

I had the opportunity to visit a hospital, Brantford General Hospital, where they have done something new, something innovative, something out of the box. What did they do? Well, they invited dementia care specialists into their emergency department. So any patients who are coming into the ER for only dementia-related symptoms actually get seen by these dementia care specialists. They are not admitted to the hospital, because we know that patients with dementia do not do well if they are admitted to the hospital, because it is not a place that is conducive to them getting better. So these patients are being held overnight in the ER, then they are assessed by the dementia specialist and they’re actually referred to services back into the community. What does this do?

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(1) It reduces admission rates so those beds that are critically needed for critically ill patients are not occupied by patients who actually don’t have to be there.

(2) It provides better care for the patient themself and their family.

(3) It reduces the amount of cost.

So that is exactly the kind of solution that we need to look for with our partners, because the government doesn’t have all the solutions. We need to work with our partners and local communities like the Brantford General Hospital to bring forward innovative ideas to address some of the challenges that we are facing in home care.

These innovative initiatives specifically focused on expanding dementia-related admission diversion and discharge supports, such as behavioural support programs and programs delivered by Alzheimer Society of Ontario chapters. Investments in these initiatives were identified through the government’s ALC—which is alternate level of care—five-point plan.

I originally prepared a speech for 20 minutes, but since I only have 10 minutes, I will fly through some of these things. In 2023-24, the ministry expanded community-based programs through increased investment in the ASO First Link program and GeriMedRisk. The Convenient Care at Home Act builds on our work to date to ensure Ontarian seniors can remain at home if they wish. Our government is making a historic $1-billion investment into home care, which will help to stabilize and expand this vital sector for years to come.

I know I’m not the first to say this, but the only thing better than having care close to home is actually having care in your home. People don’t want to be institutionalized unless they have really complex health care needs and, at that point, they do need to move into our long-term care facilities. But it is really critical that we help expand the sector and localize it within our Ontario health teams because people prefer to stay at home. Actually, research shows that people who are at home with the right supports have a much better quality of life, and so that’s exactly the hard work that we are doing through Bill 135, the Convenient Care at Home Act.

I really wish that the opposition would get on board and finally support these initiatives because we need a whole-of-government approach, but I’m not hearing any solutions coming from that side of the House.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): We’ll move to questions.

MPP Lise Vaugeois: I think we can all agree that home care done well is what seniors want, and we certainly support that. But home care done well is not by any means going to come out of this bill. We have seen the effects of privatized long-term care brought in first by the Mike Harris government and entrenched further with this government, and with this plan we see up to 30% of tax dollars going into shareholder profits from that large amount of money.

My question is, why should taxpayers be paying for shareholders profits when that money could be going to support pay for PSWs and quality care for our seniors?

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: You know, Madam Speaker, what is by any means not going to come out is any solutions to our health care challenges that we are facing from the member opposite and her party. But on this side of the House, what we are proposing on top of this legislation—we are also investing an additional $10.3 million this year to support Ontario health teams to implement better ways to connect primary, hospital and home and community care for patients with diabetes, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and many other options.

On this side of the House, we are proposing solutions, and all you guys are doing is saying “no” to every single one.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Thank you to the member from Mississauga Centre for her great remarks this morning. In 2018, our government was elected on a promise to invest in health care in this province and end hallway health care in our hospitals, because under the previous 15 years of the Liberal government, supported by the NDP, they failed our health care system miserably.

My question to the member from Mississauga Centre is, how does this legislation fit in with our government’s broader strategy to really support Ontarians and provide them with the health care they need, when and where they need it?

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: Thank you so much for that question, and it is true, since day one, since we got elected in 2018, we went to work to end hallway health care, or hallway nursing, as I like to call it, in Ontario.

Madam Speaker, do you know what we have done since then? We have currently shovels in the ground for 50 hospital infrastructure projects across the province of Ontario, and if we were to look on those benches over there, probably many of their communities are currently getting either a brand-new hospital or a redeveloped hospital. Over the course of the pandemic, we have built 3,100 new acute care beds. That is the equivalent of seven community hospitals.

So we, on this side of the House, again we’re investing in infrastructure. We are modernizing our home care. We’re embedding home care within local communities, within the 57 Ontario health teams, and we will continue to do that important work because that’s what the people of Ontario expect from us.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?

Mr. Chris Glover: This government keeps talking about privatizing health care. They call it “innovation,” but it’s privatization. You just talked about some hospital projects that are being built, but they’re being built through P3s, which cost the taxpayer an additional 28%, according to the Auditor General.

You’re talking about this bill. It’s teeing up our home care system for privatization so that a portion of our tax dollars will be going into private, for-profit corporations rather than directly into care. You keep talking about numbers, but we have a crisis in our health care system in the province, and I’ll give you one number. We have 500 emergency room closures just from January to August of this year, and you’ve closed the Minden ER permanently. Why is this government not investing in public, not-for-profit health care and actually fixing the system? Why are you creating a crisis in our public health care system in order to privatize it and to shovel more of our tax dollars into corporate profits?

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: Yes, on this side of the House we like to talk about numbers because, guess what? Budgets don’t balance themselves, and we need to do the hard work that Ontario taxpayers sent us here to do.

But if you want to talk about investments, this government is investing $14 billion more into health care than the previous government. This government also invested $90 million to build a francophone college in your riding. You should go and visit it and talk to those health care providers, those future nurses and PSWs. For the first time in the history of this province, we have francophone health care workers being educated just steps away from here, in your riding. So I highly suggest you go visit them and maybe listen to them for some innovative solutions.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?

Mr. Will Bouma: It was very good to hear my friend from Mississauga Centre speak this morning about this great bill. I think probably the greatest thing about this job is the great people you get to meet, and being able to listen to someone who has been on the front lines of health care her entire career and continues to serve where she can and when she can is absolutely amazing.

Rather than calling the progress we’ve made in hiring nurses, in building hospitals and committing millions and millions of dollars to home care, “tinkering,” we’re actually getting stuff done. Constituents in my riding have told me how important it is for them that they are able to stay in their home and in their community as long as possible as they age.

I was hoping the member could tell us a little bit more about how important this is and how this bill will ensure that seniors from my community, and indeed across Ontario, are able to age in place.

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: Thank you for that question. Like I said, people feel more comfortable at home rather than being institutionalized. If they can stay with the right supports, they will. That is why this government has put forward legislation like this one that we’re debating today to modernize the way home care is delivered in the province of Ontario. To have the right support means to have PSWs that are trained in dementia and gentle, persuasive approaches.

That is why the member of Thornhill and I introduced Bill 121, Improving Dementia Care in Ontario Act, to make sure that our PSWs, when they graduate from our colleges, are actually fully equipped and fully prepared to work in the realities of home care and long-term care and acute care as well. So this is a whole-of-government approach. The member for Thornhill and I had one specific idea on dementia care but it is fully supported by this government. We will continue to do the hard work because our seniors deserve it.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: The members on this side of the House have pointed out some of the problems with the government’s bill, but the biggest problem really is that it fails to address the real root cause of the health care crisis we have before us, which is a health care workforce that is not able to meet the demands of the people of Ontario.

We heard the member talk about all the nurses and PSWs who are going into our college and university system. However, when they graduate, they are moving into roles where they are not supported, they are in high-pressure-cooker environments and they are leaving. They’re leaving Ontario because the wages are too low. They’re leaving the profession because the demands are too high.

Can the member tell us why this bill did not do anything to address the health human resources crisis that we are facing in this province?

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: As the member knows very well, not everything can be in one particular bill. We have a whole health-human-resources strategy that has been announced, is fully costed and has been introduced through the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

But do you know what else, Madam Speaker? We are building two new medical schools in the province of Ontario. How about that? We’re going to have more doctors graduating every year from one in the community of Brampton—we’re very proud for the first time to have our own medical school in the region of Peel—and we have another one that is being built in Scarborough. Many of your members come from Scarborough. You should be celebrating this.

Guess what? We are taking a whole-of-government approach and a whole-of-continuum-of-care approach, meaning we’re investing in our PSWs, in our nurses and in our physicians and we will continue to do that.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): One last question.

Mr. Billy Pang: To our member from Mississauga Centre: I think you are aware that in the past 15 years, the joint force of the NDP and Liberals worked so hard to destroy our health system. Now we are rebuilding it, taking care of the well-being of Ontarians, so now they are putting up obstacles after obstacles after obstacles.

I know that you still have a lot of good news to share, as you are a first-hand member of health care. Can you share more about how this bill, Bill 135, will serve Ontarians?

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): A quick reply.

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: The good news in this bill is that we are localizing health care and we’re bringing it closer to home, so that local partners will be the ones who are really at the helm and the leadership of this.

But what I want to say is that my local hospital, Etobicoke General Hospital, has recently received a $2.5-million extra investment to hire more staff into the ER. I’m very proud to share that, because that is new funding and that will help with some of the capacity challenges.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): We’re going to move to further debate. Further debate? Further debate?

Ms. Jones, Dufferin–Caledon, has moved second reading of Bill 135, An Act to amend the Connecting Care Act, 2019 with respect to home and community care services and health governance and to make related amendments to other Acts.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion, please say “aye.”

All those opposed, please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

A recorded vote being required, it will be deferred until the next instance of deferred votes.

Second reading vote deferred.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Orders of the day?

Hon. Todd J. McCarthy: No further business.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): There being no further business, the House stands in recess until 10:15.

The House recessed from 0944 to 1015.

Members’ Statements

Automotive industry

Mr. Trevor Jones: ElringKlinger is a leading automotive manufacturing company providing innovative solutions to industry since 1879. With its headquarters in Germany, the company has expanded its operations all over the world and established itself as a reliable and trusted brand in the mobility industry. My community of Leamington is proud to serve as their flagship and only Canadian-based operation. Founded back in 2000, it has expanded several times to cover over 147,000 square feet of state-of-the-art manufacturing space and employing over 170 local employees.

The Leamington facility recently was approved for provincial grant funding of up to $1.5 million of eligible costs in a total investment of $58 million. This facility manufactures cam cover modules, cockpit cross-car beams and oil separation modules. They also produce fuel cell systems and lithium-ion battery systems, while conducting substantial R&D.

Recently, this company made international headlines with their announcement of another expansion. The expansion is a testament to the company’s commitment to its strategically located operations in Leamington and the company’s firm belief that Ontario is the best jurisdiction in the world to do business in.

I want to celebrate and thank ElringKlinger for their commitment to Leamington, to Ontario and to the jobs of the future.

Housing

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: Later this afternoon, I’m pleased this House will debate my motion calling on the province to establish a new public agency to finance and build at least 250,000 new affordable and non-market rental homes at cost on public land. There will be plenty of time to debate the merits of that motion, but this morning, I would like to share with my colleagues why this kind of housing matters.

I ask you all to think for a moment about the many benefits that good housing brings us as individuals, as families and as communities, not just in terms of keeping us dry and warm, but also in providing a safe, stable place to raise our families, and a sense of mental, physical and financial stability that cannot be understated.

The impact goes beyond just housing. Stable housing changes everything. When people have stable housing, they can raise a family, they can retire, they can have something to leave behind. Secure housing impacts families for generations. A good place to call home is a source of dignity with benefits that radiate to a family, a community, to an incredible province like Ontario in a great country like ours.

I hope you will vote yes to bring dignity, security and affordable good housing to the families of Ontario.

Volunteers

Mr. Ric Bresee: I rise today, in all honesty, to brag about the amazing folks and the community members in my riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington. I recently had the opportunity to join in a wonderful celebration. The Lennox and Addington County General Hospital has had a volunteer service that has been active for 60 years now. The general public may not realize it, but these volunteers provide an amazing addition to our health care services. While these people might not put a cast on your arm or deliver a baby, they do provide an added level of care and comfort for the people at the hospital.

For six decades, they have been helping people find their way around the hospital. They have been providing a coffee or a quick bite to eat in the cafe and making get-well cards and small gifts available for the visitors. I, along with the hospital CEO and hospital board chair, had the chance to tell these volunteers just how grateful we are for what they bring to our local health care.

In celebration of that 60 years of service, the organization donated another $60,000 to the hospital foundation. And that’s on top of the millions that they’ve raised over that 60 years.

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My thanks go to all of the volunteers and the members of that organization, and to their president, Marg Isbester, for inviting me to join in that celebration.

Cat Lake First Nation

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Remarks in Anishininiimowin.

Cat Lake is one of the 31 First Nations in Kiiwetinoong. In December 2022, Cat Lake First Nation sent a letter to the Ministry of Northern Development and the Ministry of Mines about mining activity in their territory. Cat Lake has a full moratorium on mining activity on their title lands. The moratorium means no permits—exploration permits, winter roads—and no drilling on the lands and waters until their Anishinaabe-led assessment is done.

Whatever consultation that was attempted with Cat Lake First Nation was inadequate. With COVID and severe addiction issues happening that take immediate priority, there is little time for mining.

The plan for the proposed mine includes draining a crystal clear lake full of lake trout. This lake trout is rare. These lakes are rare. Only about 1% of Ontario’s lakes contain lake trout. These waters and the fish are very important to the ways of life, and what happens there should be decided through an Anishinaabe-led assessment of the project.

Speaker, it is the will of the Cat Lake people that they will decide whether to consent or not to mining. They are fully considering their options and next steps. Their process must be respected.

Scooty Mobility Inc.

Mr. Graham McGregor: I want to rise today to highlight the great work of Scooty, a micro-mobility company based out of Brampton and, dare I say it, a made-in-Brampton success story.

Founded in 2019 by a group of immigrants dedicated to improving mobility, Scooty has quickly grown to complement Brampton’s existing transit options—including an exclusive agreement with Metrolinx to deploy their e-scooters at all GO stations in Brampton.

Speaker, this would not be possible without the hard work of the Scooty team. Let’s give it up for Shoaib Ahmed, Yashin Shah, Moaz Ahmad, Wasif Khan, Shahid Pasha, and their team of fantastic employees. I saw their dedication first-hand at their facility in Brampton this summer, where the team ensures that their scooters are maintained and delivered to neighbourhoods all across the city.

With a $1-million investment through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network for Scooty, our government is committed to ensuring that innovators have the tools they need to succeed and develop made-in-Ontario transit solutions.

The magic isn’t just in their scooters but also in their software that allows them to compete on an international scale.

This is an example of great Brampton minds creating a true Brampton success story and helping to elevate us to a truly global city.

I can guarantee you, Speaker: If we put the great minds behind Brampton businesses up against any other city, pound for pound, Brampton will get it done.

The team at Scooty is getting it done.

Tenant protection

Ms. Chandra Pasma: This past Saturday, I joined tenants of Accora Village in Bayshore who have received notice of a 5.5%-rent increase, despite the fact that their landlord has neglected tenants’ requests for maintenance and repairs for years. These tenants were speaking out in defence of their rights against a corporate landlord all too happy to jack up the rates but not willing to respect the most basic tenant rights.

Sadly, their stories were all too familiar to me. I have been hearing many stories like this from tenants across Ottawa West–Nepean—tenants in the Voyageur apartments, where Paramount served residents with eviction notices despite having failed to provide 60 days’ notice of rent increases; tenants in a CLV apartment, where the landlord has ignored safety concerns for tenants but has been all too happy to raise the rent, with the rate for one apartment going from $1,400 to $1,900 to $2,600 in the space of just six months; tenants in the Duchess, a Homestead building, which is brand new, not subject to rent control, where tenants are getting served with rental increases while being unable to get significant and dangerous maintenance and repair concerns addressed.

These landlords are feeling empowered to do whatever they want, thanks to this government killing rent control and destroying the Landlord and Tenant Board.

It’s time for the government to respect the right of all Ontarians to an affordable, properly maintained place to live. Reinstate real rent control, crack down on renovictions, and fix the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Non-profit organizations

Mr. Billy Pang: Today, I would like to recognize some remarkable non-profit organizations in Markham–Unionville that enrich our community:

Founded in 1919, the Unionville Curling Club embodies more than just a sport. It’s where friendships flourish and a strong sense of community is nurtured. Thanks to a recent generous grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the club will be able to upgrade their facilities and equipment. It will continue to thrive as a hub of curling passion and community spirit.

The Unionville community centre, another vital non-profit in my riding, serves as a vital community connector. The centre offers diverse programs that promote seniors’ well-being, fitness and social engagement. With funding support from our government, they have extended their reach through virtual programming to meet our seniors’ evolving needs. Their work ensures our seniors stay active, healthy and connected.

There is also our cherished Markham Museum that bridges the past and the present. It preserves Markham’s history while showcasing the tools shaping our ever-changing world. This government acknowledges the importance of supporting organizations like the museum, which enrich the lives of Ontarians. They have recently secured a Seniors Community Grant to craft tailored pottery programs for our seniors.

Speaker, I’m immensely grateful for the positive impact these organizations have on Markham–Unionville. Their dedication strengthens our community. I am glad about our government’s support to them and extend my heartfelt thanks for their invaluable work.

Islamic Heritage Month

Mr. John Fraser: October is Islamic Heritage Month here in Ontario, and that was made possible by the member from London–Fanshawe, who graciously invited members from other parties to sign onto her bill. It was unanimously passed in this Legislature. What it’s done is it’s created a time for Muslims across Ontario so they can celebrate and share their history and culture with all Ontarians.

The five pillars of Islam are: shahda, faith; salah, prayer; saka, almsgiving; salm, fasting; and the hajj, pilgrimage.

During my first three elections, the holy month of Ramadan fell, and so I’ve been to a lot of iftars and a lot of breaking of fasts. What it taught me, what I learned was the openness and welcoming of Muslim communities in my riding. And it’s not just in my riding; it’s across Ontario.

So I’d like to say in particular a word of thanks to these communities in my riding: the AMA community, or the Mosque of Mercy; the Assalam Mosque; the Ali Masjid mosque; and also the Ismaili community centre on Conroy Road. Thank you for all that you’ve done to build community in Ottawa South by opening your doors and welcoming people and supporting us during COVID and many other things that have come along.

I’m looking forward this weekend to Celebrating Muslim Women in the Arts and Sciences this Sunday afternoon at the AMA mosque.

Automotive industry

Mr. Anthony Leardi: I want to take this opportunity to talk about the incredible automotive investments that are coming into the province of Ontario. I had the opportunity last week to talk about the man with the yellow tie who is bringing hope to all of these places right across Ontario, from my area in Essex county all the way up to St. Thomas, all the way up to Oshawa—jobs being created by the multi-billion-dollar investments being brought to Ontario due to the incredible policies put forward by this government and the leadership of our Premier.

When I say billions, I’m not talking about $4 billion or $5 billion; I’m talking about $27 billion to date. And that’s just the primary investments. Everybody knows that when the automotive industry gets geared up, there are suppliers, secondary suppliers, tertiary suppliers, and then suppliers to the suppliers. It is an incredible supply chain, and here in the province of Ontario we are the locus and the centre and the nuclei of a burgeoning electric vehicle industry that is going to move us into the economy of the future.

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I want to once again take this opportunity to thank the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade for the fantastic investments being made in the province of Ontario. Thank you.

Highlands Cinemas

Ms. Laurie Scott: The documentary The Movie Man made its way to its home in Kinmount at the Highlands Cinemas this fall. The premiere of the movie was hosted by what is arguably the most unusual movie theatre in North America, perhaps the world. For 40 years, the Highlands Cinemas has been a landmark, entertaining locals, tourists, camp-goers, prime ministers, rock stars and movie stars themselves. With five screens and over 550 seats, the theatre can host its entire town and more.

This would not have been possible without Kinmount’s own Keith Stata, the Movie Man himself. When movies premiere in the big city, they also premiere at the Highlands Cinema. Yes, even Barbie and Oppenheimer debuted there. As movie theatres closed in North America, Keith collected relics of cinematic history, imagery and pop culture, creating a museum of movie memorabilia that is a must-visit.

The director of the film, Matt Finlin, was inspired by Keith when he could come to the theatre in Kinmount as a young boy. The resulting work captured the whimsical uniqueness of the theatre and the thrilling experience of going to the movies.

As The Movie Man makes its debut this spring, be sure to see it at the Highlands Cinemas in Kinmount for the best movie museum experience and, of course, the best popcorn you’ll ever eat. See you at the movies.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That concludes our members’ statements this morning.

House sittings

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Before I introduce the guests in the Speaker’s gallery, I have a couple of announcements.

I beg to inform the House that pursuant to standing order 9(g), the Clerk has received written notice from the government House leader indicating that a temporary change in the weekly meeting schedule of the House is required, and therefore, the afternoon routine on Wednesday, October 25, 2023, shall commence at 1 p.m.

Member for Hamilton Centre

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I also beg to inform the House that there are now 15 members sitting as independents. However, given the order of the House dated October 23, 2023, the member for Hamilton Centre is not currently eligible to be recognized by the Speaker in debate. Therefore, there will be no changes to the speaking allocations for independent members at this time.

Introduction of Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): We have with us in the Speaker’s gallery today, Kristina Thony, consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany in Toronto. She is accompanied by Barbara de Tschaschell, the deputy consul general, and Florian Schrieverhoff, the vice consul. Please join me in warmly welcoming our guests to the assembly today.

We also have with us a former member of the Legislature who served the riding of Kitchener Centre in the 38th, 39th and 40th Parliament, John Milloy. Welcome back to the Legislature, John. Good to see you.

Members will know that traditionally, British Speakers have had a dangerous job as messenger to the monarch, and some of them actually lost their heads in the course of their duties. In Ontario—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): No, don’t clap for that. In Ontario, there is a different tradition for Speakers, and that is the adoption of former Speaker Steve Peters’s brother. I am honoured to introduce in the Speaker’s gallery this morning my new brother, Joe Peters.

Mr. John Vanthof: I’d like to introduce some very special people in my life: my wife Ria, my daughter Vicky and her partner, Joe Mascaro.

Mme Lucille Collard: From the University of Ottawa, de l’Université d’Ottawa, j’aimerais présenter M. Jacques Frémont, recteur de l’Université d’Ottawa; Jill Scott, provost et vice-rectrice; et Kathryn Moore, directrice des relations gouvernementales.

Welcome to Queen’s Park. Bienvenue à Queen’s Park.

Hon. Michael Parsa: I want to welcome to the House my good friend Dr. Saeed Faizi and all the colleagues from the Al-Nadwa Educational Islamic Centre from Richmond Hill: Dr. Luqman Khan, Dr. Sarah Azhari, Afnan Akhzar, Omar Ahmad, Tariq Husain, Mubeen Siddiqui, Nurul Ain Ashraf, Abid Hussain Nadwi and Uzair Arif Qureshi. Welcome to the House and I look forward to meeting with you afterwards.

Mr. Chris Glover: I’d like to welcome to the House Andrew Yang, who is a volunteer researcher in my office and is now going to a new job in Ottawa, and also Simon Ding, who has recently moved to Ontario from British Columbia. Welcome to your House.

Mr. Trevor Jones: It’s my pleasure to welcome my EA, my friend and our community leader, Nammar Cristofari, to the Legislature today. Welcome to your House.

Mr. Will Bouma: I would just like to take a moment to welcome Warren Kinsella to the House today.

Mr. Graham McGregor: I want to welcome the team from Scooty. We’ve got Shoaib Ahmed, Yashin Shah, Moaz Ahmad and Wasif Khan. Welcome to the Legislature.

Ms. Effie J. Triantafilopoulos: It’s my pleasure to recognize and welcome to the House Senator Leonidas Raptakis, the state senator from Rhode Island, who is also the president of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association. Welcome.

Hon. Greg Rickford: Kirk Markowski is here, originally from Dryden. He works in the city and he’s a first cousin to our page Paxten, from Fort Frances. Welcome, Kirk.

Mr. Stéphane Sarrazin: I would like to welcome Monsieur Eric Larocque and Monsieur Jean-Michel Fournier. Mr. Larocque is the long-term-care administrator at the Prescott and Russell Residence in Hawkesbury. Mr. Fournier is the housing services supervisor. They’re looking forward to the opening of the new 224-bed long-term-care facility next summer in Hawkesbury. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Hardeep Singh Grewal: I’d like to welcome some of my friends from Brampton I brought today, as well as Bradford. I’d like to welcome the deputy mayor of Bradford, Raj Sandhu. I’d like to welcome Swami Sampuran Anand, who is visiting us from Haryana, India. I’d like to welcome Gurpreet Chahal from the transportation industry, J Line transportation; Satnam Sarai from Sarai trucking and transportation; Vipin Mishra, who’s visiting us from Germany; Bob Dosanjh Singh, who we all know is a well-known media personality in our community; and, as well, Jaswinder Sidhu. Thank you for joining us and welcome to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: I just also wanted to welcome everyone from the University of Ottawa here today and remind everyone that the University of Ottawa is having a reception, so come join us. As a University of Ottawa alumna graduate, it is the best university in Ontario.

Hon. Parm Gill: I’d like to welcome a few individuals from my riding of Milton, representatives from the Landscape Ontario horticultural trades association: Joe Salemi, Jon Agg, Chris Morrison and Gerald Boot. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Question Period

Government accountability

Ms. Marit Stiles: This question is for the Premier. Early last year, the government’s own hand-picked Housing Affordability Task Force made 55 recommendations to encourage new housing supply. The task force said that a shortage of land was not the cause of the housing crisis. They recommended, in fact, that the greenbelt and farmland be protected.

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Instead, the Premier and his government went ahead anyway and they tried to make their friends richer. Now they’re being investigated by the RCMP.

To the Premier: Why did his government rig the system to benefit a select few insiders instead of the people of Ontario?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: As I’ve said on a number of occasions, we have been guided since 2018 by the principle that we had to build more homes across the province of Ontario. We had to undo the obstacles that had been put in the way by the previous Liberal and NDP coalition in this province for over 15 years.

Having said that, we made a public policy decision with respect to the greenbelt that was not supported by the people of the province of Ontario. That is why we have taken steps to put that land back and codify it in law.

Again, make no mistake about it: We will meet our housing targets. We will ensure that the next generation of Ontarians can have the exact same dream that previous generations have had, and that’s the dream of home ownership. We will not be moved from that goal, and we will get it done.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, this government’s greenbelt grab, their MZOs, their urban boundary changes: They’re not about building housing at all. One of the task force’s recommendations was to allow four-storey multiplex housing in every neighbourhood. The NDP tried to add this into the government’s most recent housing bill and the government said no. In fact, the member for Perth–Wellington said the government was doing just enough—enough. Doing enough to address the housing crisis? Doing enough while housing starts across the province are going down and not up?

Back to the Premier: When will he start putting people’s needs ahead of his own backroom deals?

Hon. Paul Calandra: Well, Mr. Speaker, we’ve actually been doing that right from the beginning and the member voted against every single initiative that we have done—every single initiative. We said we want to build more homes around transit infrastructure. I know they don’t know anything about transit infrastructure because for 15 years they helped the Liberals build nothing. We are saying that we’re not only going to build transit, we’re going to build homes around that transit. We’re going to build thousands of homes. She and her party voted against that.

The Leader of the Opposition talks about MZOs. There are MZOs that we have done at the request of the city of Toronto to build social housing in her own community that she voted against.

So let me be very clear to the Leader of the Opposition: There is one party in this House that stands for the next generation of this province, who wants the exact same dream that everybody else has had for generations—why people have come here, why my parents came here, and that was the dream of home ownership. We will untangle the mess that they left behind and we will get it done for them.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: The reality is that even before last year’s forced urban boundary expansions, there was already enough land available in the province for new builds to accommodate three cities the size of Paris. But we have a government that’s rigged the system. They have put a plan in place where only if you’re a well-connected insider and you have a stag-and-doe ticket do you get the zoning changes that you need. They’re prioritizing that over building the homes that Ontarians need.

The Premier has wasted over a year enriching his friends, throwing the planning system into chaos and making it harder to build the homes that Ontarians actually need, in the neighbourhoods where they want to live. Back to the Premier: How many homes would have been built by now if he hadn’t put shady backroom deals first?

Hon. Paul Calandra: I think the evidence is clear: When the opposition had the opportunity, working with the Liberals, to actually get homes built in the province of Ontario, what did we see happen? Nothing, Mr. Speaker—nothing. In fact, housing starts were at their lowest levels at the conclusion of their time in office with the Liberals. What have we seen? Month after month after month, housing starts have increased. This year we’re at the highest level in 15 years.

But we didn’t stop just at housing. We knew that we had to do more on purpose-built rentals as well. They know nothing about this because at the time that they had with the Liberals, nobody was building rental housing across the province of Ontario. We have the highest starts in over 15 years. And you know what, Mr. Speaker? That is continuing to grow in Ontario.

We are going to continue on this path to ensure that we build more homes across the province of Ontario. Ostensibly, what we have to do is continue to remove the obstacles that they love and that they’ve put in place. We’ll continue to get that job done.

Housing

Ms. Marit Stiles: Well, it’s a creative response; I’ll give him that.

Speaker, expert after expert has shown that we need to build at least 1.5 million new homes. The Ontario NDP supports this goal, but so far the government has relied entirely on half measures. Their whole housing plan is predicated on backroom deals, and now they’re under an RCMP criminal investigation. According to the government’s own figures, housing starts in Ontario—as I said—are projected to go down, not up. Clearly this government’s plan is not working, so back to the Premier: Will he get his government out of the backrooms and off the massage tables and start building the homes our province actually needs?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: Well, Mr. Speaker, the only thing that was actually credible in that was that we’re being creative, because we are being creative. And we had to be creative because of the obstacles that they put in the way.

We have removed over $8 billion of obstacles, obstacles that stood in the way of small, medium and large job creators—including home builders—from doing what they do best: building homes. That is why, in the province of Ontario, we have a housing crisis. Do you know why we have a housing crisis? Because they supported the Liberals to put obstacle after obstacle after obstacle in the way, Mr. Speaker. We’re removing those obstacles. We’re seeing the trend on new home starts in the province of Ontario this year has continued to move forward. Equally exciting, colleagues, is the fact that purpose-built rentals are at their highest level in over 15 years. Do you know why? Because we’ve been creative about how we’re doing it.

This is a member who votes against housing in her own riding. She voted against MZOs for social housing that were requested by the city of Toronto. She voted against long-term-care homes, she voted against purpose-built rentals, and she votes against individuals who have—

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

Supplementary question?

Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, the thing is that this province used to build housing. We used to be in the business of building non-market homes. We used to fund and finance tens of thousands of public, non-profit and co-op housing every year—homes that are built based on need, not on profit. That stopped in 1995, when, yes, the Conservatives abandoned that responsibility completely, and that set the stage for our housing crisis today.

So back to the Premier: Will he support the NDP’s solution to build the non-market housing that our province so desperately needs?

Interjections.

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

The Premier.

Hon. Doug Ford: The Leader of the Opposition has voted against every initiative we’ve done to speed up housing. They’ve voted against building 1.5 million homes, even though we set a record on building homes: The 30-year record in 2021 is 99,000 homes we put forward and they’re building; 2022, 96,000 homes that we’re building; and since the start of this year there have been 57,000 housing starts.

But, Mr. Speaker, they’re against building. They’re against building purpose-built rentals—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Waterloo, come to order.

Hon. Doug Ford: They’re against building affordable housing, attainable housing. They’re against building roads to get to that housing. They’re against building highways to get to the housing. And then they’re against, when the community comes together, the long-term-care homes. They’re against the hospitals. They’re against absolutely everything.

They say one thing in front of the media, and then when they’re in here, they vote against everything, especially—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order. Order. The Premier will take his seat.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Premier will take his seat. Order.

The final supplementary.

Ms. Marit Stiles: Do you know what the truth is, Speaker, the truth about housing in this province?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.

Ms. Marit Stiles: Record renovictions, homeless people living in the streets all across this province—that’s the reality under this Premier.

Housing is a human right, just like health care and education and retirement security. If the private sector won’t build enough homes that are affordable for everyone who needs one, then the public sector must step up. It is clear this government’s plan isn’t working, Speaker. Those of us on this side of the House, we want to make sure every Ontarian has a good home they can actually afford.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.

Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, back to the Premier: When will the government start taking this housing crisis seriously?

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Interjections.

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

I recognize the Premier.

Hon. Doug Ford: This is really rich, Mr. Speaker. You know something? We’ve implemented 21 of the housing affordability task force recommendations as we’re moving forward. We led the country in getting the federal government to knock off the HST. We’re knocking off the PST for purpose-built rentals. We have eliminated skyrocketing municipal fees on affordable and non-profit housing—and, by the way, they voted against that. They voted against the previous. We introduced a Building Faster Fund: $1.2 billion in new funding for municipalities, large municipalities, and another $500 million—and guess what, Mr. Speaker? They voted against that. All the parties voted against it, by the way. They’re anti-development; they’re anti-housing, anti-infrastructure, anti-everything.

If they were in charge, this province would be a disaster, like they were for 15 years, Mr. Speaker.

Housing

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: My question is to the Premier. Speaker, 30 years ago, the Harris government got us out of the business of building housing. If governments had continued to build at that rate, we would have built 1.2 million homes since then. Instead, Ontario needs to build 1.5 million homes to meet the current need.

Why doesn’t this government think it has a responsibility for building truly affordable homes?

Hon. Doug Ford: Let’s just remind everyone in the province: When the NDP were in power, they increased taxes 45 times on the backs of businesses, on the backs of homes. They chased hundreds of thousands of jobs out of this province. They escalated the debt, under the NDP, by hundreds of billions of dollars, Mr. Speaker.

And I am proud to say my father was part of that government. They created 700,000 jobs when they were in power. I know Mike Harris Jr. is proud of what his dad did too. They’re the ones who accelerated the economy, accelerated the boom on housing. I’ll go to toe any day about Bob Rae versus Mike Harris. The Bob Rae days—don’t forget the Bob Rae days.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Order.

Start the clock. The supplementary question.

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: Speaker, I’m so honoured that the Premier got up just to point fingers and not to lead by voting for this motion.

This government has routinely given laundry lists of projects that did not work. Now is the time to think big. Private developers have said they can’t solve this crisis alone. The Canadian Housing Statistics Program recently revealed that housing supply slowed last year—slowed under this government.

Why won’t this government join us and get Ontarians back to work in good jobs, building the truly affordable housing that Ontarians need?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: I don’t even know what to say about that, Mr. Speaker. I don’t even know what to say about it. So let me be very clear: We’re not voting for a program that was taken out of the playbook of Communist Russia. It’s just not happening, all right? So let me just put that.

I would suggest to the member opposite, don’t listen to the NDP socialist caucus. Listen to what is happening and what is working; vote with us to remove obstacles because, when you do, housing starts go up. Vote with us to remove taxes because, when you do, housing starts increase, Mr. Speaker.

And you know what else you can do? Call your friend in Ottawa, Mr. Singh—Jagmeet; 1-800-Jagmeet—and say, “Remove carbon taxes,” because that will put more money back in people’s pockets. Don’t do what you did here: support a Liberal government that brought the province to its knees, Mr. Speaker. That is what they do.

Very clearly, we’re not voting for government building homes. We’re going to let the private sector do what they’re doing in record numbers, under this government, and that’s build—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Order.

Start the clock. The next question.

Cost of living

Mr. Will Bouma: Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Tomorrow, the Bank of Canada will announce their decision on whether they will implement another interest rate hike. Sadly, for many Ontarians, this decision could lead to devastating economic consequences. If another painful interest rate hike is announced, many individuals and families might not be able to pay their bills, pay their rent, mortgage or be able to keep their home. It is hard-working, ordinary people across this province who are being hit hardest and are having to pay a heavy price at the checkout and at the pumps.

The people of our province need to know that our government hears their concerns and understands their fears. Speaker, can the Premier please continue to advocate on behalf of the people of Ontario about the damaging impact that another interest rate hike would have on them?

Hon. Doug Ford: I want to thank the member from Brantford–Brant and for leading caucus as well. So thank you to the member.

I wrote a letter to the Governor of the Bank of Canada insisting that he does not raise interest rates. Do you know what the difference is? The Governor of the Bank of Canada is sitting in his ivory tower not talking to the common folks.

I took a call this morning about a married couple with kids that are going to have to sell their home. They’re going to have to sell their home because their mortgage has tripled. It has absolutely tripled and went up thousands of dollars. They won’t be able to afford it.

See, the Bank of Canada is way out to lunch, in my opinion, Mr. Speaker, way out to lunch. They’re creating inflation. They’re creating inflation on groceries. Then we have the carbon tax that the federal government implemented; it created inflation on building homes. They’re doing nothing but creating inflation. They’re living back in the 1970s. They need to get their act together. If anything—

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

The supplementary question.

Mr. Will Bouma: Thank you, Premier. In this time of economic uncertainty, everyone should be working together to make things better for the people of Ontario. The Premier is correct in saying that this issue is not just impacting Ontario alone, but every Canadian is being hurt by these interest rate hikes.

Premiers of all political stripes agree that further increases are counterproductive and will do more harm than good. Now is the time for the federal government to work with the provinces to address the long-standing root causes that have led to inflation and to high interest rates.

Speaker, can the Premier please share what priorities should be addressed with the federal government that will help to provide real relief to struggling families and businesses.

Hon. Doug Ford: I thank the member for Brantford–Brant. Coincidentally, we’re all getting together in Nova Scotia, all the Premiers, of all different political stripes. But we always have one thing in common: making sure we take care of our people; making sure we’re building infrastructure across the country and, specifically here in Ontario, making sure that we’re building the 413 and the 410.

What we’re all against is making sure we get rid of the carbon tax. Folks, let me tell you what we have done. We’ve cut the gas tax by 10.7 cents per litre. We scrapped the licence plate stickers for eight million people. We cut the tolls for 412 and 418. We increased ODSP by 5% tied to inflation. We cut income tax to 1.1 million low-income workers. We increased minimum wage. We extended the 10% tuition fees to take the burden off the students going to colleges and universities. We’re doubling the payments for low-income seniors, which will provide a maximum increase of almost $1,000. And what we’re asking the federal government: Knock off the 14.5 cents of carbon tax.

Government accountability

Mr. Jeff Burch: Speaker, through you to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: This government’s greenbelt grab exposed a deeply troubling pattern of shady deals and preferential treatment for well-connected land speculators. Now we see evidence of the same activity around urban boundaries and MZO land deals.

Just last week, the Auditor General confirmed an investigation into this government’s questionable use of MZOs. Yesterday, after the flip-flop announcement on urban boundary expansions, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said he was still reviewing previous MZOs and emphasized, “The vast majority ... I am not concerned with.”

My question, Speaker: Which ones is he concerned about?

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Hon. Paul Calandra: A very good question from the member opposite. What I’m concerned with are those MZOs that have led to no action being taken. The MZOs that I’m pleased with, of course, are the ones that the Minister of Long-Term Care has asked for, the ones that the Minister of Education has asked for, the ones that the Minister of Health has asked for. Across the province of Ontario, we have received requests from municipal leaders, but there are a couple of MZOs where they were issued and no work has been done to advance the goal of building homes or building long-term care or building hospitals. So I’m reviewing those, and if we’re not seeing the action to do what the MZO was issued for, I’ll revoke them.

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

Mr. Jeff Burch: Speaker, this government has issued more MZOs since coming to office than the previous 25 years combined. Just last week—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order. Stop the clock.

Restart the clock. The member for Niagara Centre.

Mr. Jeff Burch: I would wait until after the investigation before I clap, but I guess that’s just me. Just last week, this minister bragged about them. He claimed they were being used to build nursing homes and affordable homes for immigrants. Now, he’s not so sure.

Since this minister is now so busy throwing the former minister under the bus, why won’t he just tell us what he’s concerned about?

Interjections.

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

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Paul Calandra: My advice to the member: When your question is answered the first time, you might want to change your second question on the fly. He says he wants to wait to clap until he hears the investigation. Well, it didn’t stop him from coming to a long-term care opening in his riding, right? You know, the long-term-care home that you voted against and now you say we shouldn’t have sped up, right? He was more than happy to come to that.

But let’s look at some of the things that we’ve done. Social housing in the city of Toronto: 44 additional social housing units in the city of Toronto; hospital expansions; in Ajax, a 320-bed long-term-care home; a long-term-care home in Oakville; a long-term-care home in Toronto; a medical park in Oro-Medonte. Do you want me to go on? I can go on if you like—modular housing; 252 supportive housing units in Toronto. The Leader of the Opposition doesn’t want that, right? I can go on, Mr. Speaker. If you give me extra time, I’ll go on.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): You’re out of time.

Economic development

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. The previous Liberal government, supported by the NDP, put up mountains of red tape that hurt every sector of our economy, but it especially hurt our tech sector, making it impossible for tech companies to innovate, grow and create good-paying jobs.

Thankfully, when our government took office, we immediately took action to reverse the disastrous Liberals’ anti-growth agenda. As a result, we have seen investments and job creation in our tech sector.

Speaker, through you, can the minister please provide an update on the state of Ontario’s tech sector?

Hon. Victor Fedeli: With more than 420,000 tech workers at more than 25,000 firms, Ontario is the global tech leader. By cutting red tape and reducing the cost of doing business by $8 billion annually, we’ve created the conditions for the tech sector to prosper. That’s why we’ve seen the creation of more than 100,000 good-paying tech jobs since we took office.

In just this last year, cutting-edge tech companies like Snowflake, DNEG and USEReady invested $142 million to expand their operations and have created 950 good-paying jobs. As a result, Ontario is now one of the largest IT clusters in North America. Our message is clear, Speaker: If you’re a tech worker, researcher or firm, there’s no better place to be than right here in Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Thank you to the minister for his answer.

Our government knows that Ontario is competing in the global tech race. We’ve created the conditions for businesses to succeed, but there is heightened competition when it comes to attracting skilled tech workers. Tech companies from across the world are ramping up their efforts to attract and retain talent.

Speaker, through you: Can the minister please share how Ontario is dealing with the increased competition for tech talent?

Hon. Victor Fedeli: Despite fierce competition from around the globe, Ontario is winning the race for tech talent and investments. In July, in a 48-hour period, we saw over 10,000 US tech workers apply for permanent residency here in Ontario. And according to CBRE’s latest tech talent report, released yesterday, Ontario has more tech jobs available than anywhere else in all of North America.

The brightest tech workers and leading tech firms are packing their bags and coming to Ontario, reaffirming their confidence in the thriving tech ecosystem that we have built.

Our government will continue to do absolutely everything to ensure Ontario remains a global tech powerhouse.

Government accountability

Ms. Sandy Shaw: My question is to the Premier.

Environmental Defence and Ecojustice filed a freedom-of-information request late last year. They say the purpose of the request was to find out what kind of influence developers had on the Ontario cabinet and Premier in its greenbelt decision. This government unlawfully ignored their request. So the Information and Privacy Commissioner ordered the government to comply with the law. The government then unlawfully ignored the order. Now Environmental Defence and Ecojustice are suing to enforce the order.

Why is your government breaking the law to avoid disclosing these records?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to caution the member on her language and ask the minister to reply.

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Paul Calandra: We will compile whatever requests that we are required to compile, and we will turn that over to the Information and Privacy Commissioner when that is completed.

At the same time, as I have been saying constantly and as this government has been showing, we will not stray from our desire to build 1.5 million homes for the people of the province of Ontario. That is our goal. It is the overriding goal of everything that we’ve been doing since 2018. It includes why—the reason why we’re building transit across the province of Ontario. It’s to support the over 700,000 jobs that have been created in the province of Ontario, not by government, but by the private sector. They’re coming back to Ontario, and the province is booming as a result. We want to build more homes, so we will not stray from that.

I know they’re going to try to put obstacle after obstacle after obstacle in the way. They’re good at that. We’ll untangle the mess that they left behind, and we’ll get the job done.

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

Ms. Sandy Shaw: Clearly, Ontario still doesn’t have the full story about how the government selected lands for removal from the greenbelt. The freedom-of-information request submitted by Environmental Defence and Eco-justice might help fill in some of the remaining information gaps. On October 13, the Information and Privacy Commissioner ordered the ministry to take steps to recover records that may have been deleted or destroyed.

The Premier can’t keep ignoring freedom-of-information laws and IPC orders. Do I need to remind the Premier and the minister that the Liberal government’s gas plant scandal cover-up sent the Premier’s chief of staff to prison?

Hon. Paul Calandra: If I recall correctly, that spiked the trauma that the people of the province of Ontario were in when the Liberals were in power. And you held the balance of power. You still continued to support them and keep them in office. That is what an NDP balance of power means.

It really is an awkward question, coming from the member opposite. What it is an attempt to distract from the challenges that the opposition has. They’re offside with the people of the province of Ontario. They support a carbon tax; nobody else in the country does. They hold the balance of power in Ottawa. Tomorrow, they could have their federal leader insist that the carbon tax be removed and millions of dollars be put back into the pockets of the people of Ontario. Will they do it? No.

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But what we will continue to do is focus on the priorities of the people of the province of Ontario, building strong communities, building the environment where we can continue to create jobs. We’re seeing jobs come back, housing starts are at their highest level—

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

The next question.

Municipal funding

Mr. Mike Schreiner: My question is for the Premier. This government has wasted years failing to address the housing crisis. Breaking all the rules, so a handful of wealthy well-connected insiders can cash in paving over farmland. Greenbelt, boundary expansions, MZOs: It’s past time to start building homes that ordinary people can afford in the communities they want to live in, on land already approved for development.

To do this, local governments will need money for sewer and water lines, streets and transit operations in order to service new homes, but this government took that money away and residents are now facing big property tax hikes and delayed home building, making the affordability crisis worse.

Will the government make people and municipalities whole by closing the financial gap they created?

Hon. Doug Ford: Last night—I usually don’t watch the news—I was flicking the channels, and Mister Green was on the show saying we need more housing. In Guelph, they have the lowest—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask the Premier to refer to the member for Guelph as the member for Guelph.

Hon. Doug Ford: Code name: Green—he actually had the nerve to stand up there and say that we need more housing. Guelph has the lowest housing starts in the entire province out of 440 municipalities. Guelph voted against housing units for students across from Guelph University. Where was the member from Guelph? He never spoke up. He has voted against every housing initiative we’ve had. He’s voted against every infrastructure that we’ve had. He is anti-builder. He’s all about making sure he puts little rose bushes in, and everything is hunky-dory. No highways—you don’t want to expand Highway 7, do you? You don’t—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Premier will please take his seat. I’ll remind members to make their comments through the Chair.

Supplementary question?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I’m okay to be referred to as Mister Green any time. I just want to be able to say one thing: Do a simple Google search. Guelph does not have the lowest housing starts in the province. As a matter of fact, it’s higher than Peterborough’s, if you want to look at the record.

Last week, Guelph city council approved a major housing project for students. Guelph has passed rules for multiplexes. Guelph is ready to build. Here’s the challenge municipalities including Guelph face: The government took $1.5 billion away from municipalities. Municipalities need that money for sewer lines, water lines, to build the infrastructure needed for new homes. I want those new homes to have sewer and water lines. They won’t be built if it doesn’t happen.

The government a year ago said they would make municipalities whole. They have failed to deliver that. Will they commit to it today, Speaker?

Hon. Doug Ford: We have the member from Guelph on record—and I hope the media is listening to this—that he’s going to vote for our infrastructure plan, he’s going to vote for our housing plan, he’s going to make sure he holds the mayor accountable—and by the way, I like your mayor; he just can’t get up there and make a decision, so he always wants to pile it onto the province. He’s a good guy actually; I like him. But your whole council in Guelph are a bunch of left-wing lunatics. It’s simple as that.

Anyway, I’m glad that you’ve agreed to vote for our infrastructure and housing plan, Highway 7, Highway 413. It’s going to benefit the people from Guelph.

Long-term care

Mrs. Daisy Wai: My question is for the Minister of Long-Term Care.

As the needs of Ontarian’s seniors become more medically complex, the services to address those needs must be available. After years of neglect by the previous Liberal government, we are seeing excellent progress in creating a long-term-care system that Ontarians can be proud of, but there is still more that needs to be done. The ability to provide in-home diagnostic services has been limited by the availability of equipment and trained staff.

Can the minister please explain how our government is supporting long-term-care homes to better address the care and needs of our seniors?

Hon. Stan Cho: I’m happy to expand on that important topic the member brings up for Richmond Hill, who works very hard for seniors in her riding. Thank you for that.

Just last Tuesday, Mr. Speaker, I was at Belmont House—about a click up the road here from Queen’s Park, not far at all—to announce $10 million in diagnostic funding. This funding will allow long-term-care homes in the province to purchase specialized equipment that will help manage or treat conditions that normally lead to an emergency room visit or a hospital visit. Nobody wants that, of course, for our seniors—so think minor ailments, fractures. Instead of the senior going to the hospital for diagnostics, imagine the diagnostics coming to the senior—the right care in the right place.

This would also enable specialized staff training to make sure they can diagnose residents within the comfort of their own home. It’s this Premier that’s investing record capital dollars into expansion, record dollars into making sure that we have the human health resources and into diagnostics for better outcomes for our amazing seniors in Ontario.

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

Mrs. Daisy Wai: Thank you, Minister, for working so hard to prepare this. It is great to hear that our government is continuing to invest in both equipment and people.

The purchases made with this funding will prove critical in supporting seniors across our province. It is reassuring that residents with complex needs can get the diagnostic services they deserve in the comfort of their home instead of a hospital.

However, our government must remain focused on implementing solutions that will continue to ensure our seniors receive the quality of care they need. Can the minister please elaborate on how our government is expanding specialized services in long-term-care homes?

Hon. Stan Cho: The member focuses on a very important term, quality of care. That’s exactly what we’re focusing on in this government. It’s not enough to just build record beds; we are. It’s not enough to just invest record dollars into health human resources; we are. It’s also about improving outcomes for our seniors.

This fund will make sure that specialized teams of nurse practitioners and registered nurses will be available in underserved communities. This fund, along with the Local Priorities Fund, will make sure that long-term-care homes have access to specialized equipment. We know seniors are living longer, coming to long-term-care homes with more complex needs. We need to be aware of that situation and adapt with the times.

That’s what we’re doing here. We’re not building beds; we’re building homes in this province for our seniors. Let’s remember, our seniors built our communities. They built this province. They built this country. They built our lives. They took care of us; we’re going to take care of them. It’s this government that’s getting it done for seniors.

Health care

MPP Jill Andrew: My question is to the Premier. My caucus colleagues and I have heard from a number of seniors in our communities who are struggling to find flu shots, RSV vaccines and COVID-19 boosters. From reports of limited eligibility for seniors in my own riding of St. Paul’s to RSV doses costing seniors $200 to $300, this government is once again failing to support vulnerable Ontarians, especially those in rural communities, quite frankly, heading into another respiratory illness season.

My question is for the Premier, and hopefully he’ll answer today: Why haven’t you ensured all seniors in Ontario have reliable access to vaccines to keep them healthy?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: I have to say, what we’ve been able to do with a brand new RSV vaccine that was not available ever—we, for the first time, have made that available, free of charge, for our seniors in our most vulnerable settings. Of course, those are our long-term-care homes and our high-risk retirement homes. Why did we do that? Because we understand and we know that with limited supply, you focus on the people where it’s going to make the biggest impact. We are doing that.

Of course, we are also making it available through our pharmacy channels, because we know how valuable and important our pharmacy partners are in accessing and giving those flu and RSV shots to individuals in community who want it. But first and foremost, free of charge, using your OHIP card, we are providing it to high-risk seniors in retirement and long-term care.

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

MPP Jill Andrew: Thank you to the Minister of Health for that response, and I do hope that you will respond to the letter that I sent to you by hand on long COVID.

Anyway, back to the Premier: Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have increased, but Ontario seniors can’t find vaccines and boosters. People in Haliburton were told they would have access to shots by early October, but their local pharmacies say they haven’t received the doses. Did we learn nothing from the chaotic and inequitable distribution of vaccines in the early stages of the pandemic, courtesy of this Conservative government?

My question is back to the Premier. COVID-19 vaccines were promised by October. Why are seniors across this province still unable to access them?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Well, again, I’m going to respectfully say that if you have limited supply, you focus on where it’s going to make the biggest impact. That is what we have done. We absolutely are making it available in pharmacies; that rollout is actually happening by October 30.

It is exciting, in fact, that people are interested and engaged and want to get that vaccine as soon as possible. We are making sure that we have put in place all tools and all pathways to make sure that people get the flu shot, the vaccine, the RSV—whatever they want—and we are doing it through multiple channels, whether it is through our primary care partners, our pharmacy partners, and of course, our public health teams.

We’ll continue to do the work. If you want to talk to Health Canada about increasing the supply, I’d be happy to take it.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I remind the members to make their comments through the Chair.

The next question.

Government accountability

Mr. Stephen Blais: My question is for the Premier. The RCMP has announced a criminal investigation into the $8.3-billion greenbelt land giveaway. Yesterday, the Minister of Municipal Affairs announced he would reverse the controversial changes to urban boundaries that were imposed by his predecessor. The minister admitted that there was too much involvement from the previous minister’s office in these decisions and that they failed to meet the standard of public trust.

Mr. Speaker, given the criminal investigation into the greenbelt and the similarities with the decisions on the urban boundary expansions, will the Premier take responsibility for leading the government under a shroud of secrecy, leading to criminal investigations, or will he continue to throw his ministers under the bus and back it up again?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: Look, what we had decided to do back in 2018 was to look at where the province of Ontario was, and thankfully the people of Ontario took a good look in that election. That’s why they reduced the Liberal Party from a majority government to a bunch of independents.

Why? Because they put obstacle after obstacle after obstacle in the way of the economy. What did that mean? Thousands of jobs were lost, thanks to the Liberals, supported by the NDP. It meant housing starts were nonexistent in the province of Ontario, thanks to the Liberals, supported by the NDP. It meant that our taxes were the highest in Canada, thanks to the Liberals, supported by the NDP; the highest level of red tape, thanks to the Liberals, supported by the NDP. We were the highest-taxed jurisdiction, the most indebted jurisdiction, and what do we have to show for the excesses of the 15 years of Liberal/NDP government? Nothing, Mr. Speaker—absolutely nothing.

And what do we have now? Some 700,000 people who have the dignity of a job, roads, transit, transportation, a better education system, a better health care system, more long-term care and the highest level of housing starts in over a decade.

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

Mr. Stephen Blais: My supplemental is also for the Premier. The Minister of Municipal Affairs is undoing everything his predecessor did. “Getting It Undone” is a beautiful tagline; I can see it on the billboards now, Mr. Speaker.

The government delayed the approval of Ottawa’s official plan by a year, dragging it out throughout the election, and it seems that they spent that time fundraising on changes, or potential changes, to the plan that could be seen if they won re-election. Not only did they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar; they took a giant bite out of the cookie and are trying to put it back in without anyone noticing.

Mr. Speaker, given the criminal investigation into the greenbelt and the similarities with the decisions on the urban boundaries, will the Premier invite the RCMP to expand their investigation to include these urban boundary decisions as well?

Hon. Paul Calandra: This coming from a member who was in charge of building a transit system in Ottawa which had to lead to an investigation by this government. This coming from a member whose party’s infrastructure prowess saw them building a bridge upside down.

So yes, it is about undoing things. It’s about undoing 15 years of Liberal mess across the province of Ontario. That is why we were elected not only once, but we were elected with an even bigger majority. Look around you: Progressive Conservatives everywhere, here and there, and all of us getting things done for the people of the province of Ontario; 700,000 jobs thanks to this Premier and this huge group of Progressive Conservatives working every day for the people of the province of Ontario. We won’t stop undoing the mess that you left behind, supported by this crew of radicals over there.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m not sure if pirouettes are out of order or not, but I’ll have to consider that and think about it for later on.

Start the clock. The next question.

Northern Ontario development

Mr. Anthony Leardi: My question is for the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development. The previous Liberal government, propped up by the NDP, drove jobs out of Ontario and failed to unlock our province’s full economic potential. Many of those jobs were in the manufacturing sector. Small businesses were also negatively impacted and endured hardships. The previous Liberal government could have helped northern, Indigenous and remote communities, but sadly they chose to ignore them, calling them a “no man’s land.”

Unlike other parts of the province, the north faces unique barriers to starting and growing businesses. Speaker, what is the government doing to support small business and economic development projects across northern Ontario?

Hon. Greg Rickford: It’s a busy week, Small Business Week in northern Ontario. We started out in Kirkland Lake by expanding the industrial park for natural gas, telecommunication infrastructure and some design innovations. B&G Industrial Services and Holdco in Thornloe are getting robotic welders, product positioners and an overhead crane. Tricube Contracting in Matheson is going to expand their agri-crushing capacity.

Jean’s Diesel Shop in Hearst is getting additional capacity to reduce customer wait times and more storage space. In Hearst, we’re helping a logging company purchase new equipment for increased demand from local sawmills and the Lee Golf Club in Cochrane for new equipment to allow the facility to operate all year long.

Mr. Speaker, they’re so excited about these opportunities. It’s too bad that no less than two NDP members and an independent member voted against it.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary.

Mr. Anthony Leardi: I listened to the minister’s response, and it’s clear that our government is serious about building up every corner of the province, including northern Ontario. Small businesses are an integral part of any community, and we are proud to support them. In addition, northern and Indigenous communities can be proud of the many attractions and opportunities they offer in the hospitality and tourism sectors. That is why it is important that our government continues to invest in projects that will develop more cultural and tourism spaces.

Speaker, I’m asking the minister to please explain how our government is supporting and expanding opportunities for economic prosperity in northern communities.

Hon. Greg Rickford: Let’s move out to northwestern Ontario, where we supported Sioux Narrows’s beautiful Crawford’s Camp for expanded facilities in lodging accommodations. This is going to expand the tourist industry in Sioux Narrows and create new employment.

In Kenora, the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company public relations manager is onboarding, including a community outreach and events coordinator. Down in Fort Frances, D.J. Roach Electric is hiring an electrician apprentice to work in a busy construction and maintenance field. And in Dryden, the Clever Corvid Art and Art Workshops with Rhonda Beckman has built a beautiful facility just outside of the town.

These investments are going to create more cultural profile, attract more tourists and foster artistic capacity in our communities. Fortunately, their member from Kenora–Rainy River voted in favour of these projects, Mr. Speaker.

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Long-term care

Mr. Wayne Gates: My question is to the Premier. In October 2021, the Premier made a promise to the people of Ontario. The Premier promised he would double the number of long-term-care inspectors so we would have one inspector for every two homes in the province. But last week, CBC reported that although there are 624 long-term-care homes in the province, there are only 234 inspectors currently working. That means this government is 78 inspectors short.

Speaker, why did the Premier choose to break another promise to the people of Ontario and once again fail our seniors?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To respond, the Minister of Long-Term Care.

Hon. Stan Cho: Speaker, unbelievable, isn’t it? The NDP support the Liberals when they do nothing for long-term care; they do absolutely nothing. We see the holes in the system throughout a difficult time of the pandemic, and then it’s this Premier, this government who comes around and says we’re finally going to invest into our seniors, not just with record capital and building beds but into improving the inspectorate—in fact, $72 million over three years to double the number of the inspectors to actually have one inspector for two every two homes in this province, Speaker.

But we go further. We say we’re not just going to have reactive inspections; we’re going to have proactive ones. We’re going to hit a goal of 2025 of having one proactive inspection per home per year. The numbers that the CBC article quotes are aligned with our framework of getting to that goal, Speaker.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order. Opposition, come to order.

Hon. Stan Cho: This is an opposition that ignored our seniors. This government is taking care of them. We will take no lessons from the NDP.

Interjections.

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

The supplementary question.

Mr. Wayne Gates: Just three days ago, this minister admitted that he had been on the job for six weeks when we announced a long-term-care facility in my riding. We worked on that for 10 years. So when you stand up and say that we didn’t care about long-term care—we built new homes in Fort Erie; we’re working in Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake. So I don’t need a lesson from you on what we have to do with long-term care, but I’ll finish my next question.

One thing we can always count on with this government is breaking promises. The Ombudsman revealed there were no long-term-care inspectors—zero—for seven weeks in the spring of 2020. Think about seniors who suffered in long-term care, and let’s talk about the number of seniors who had died in long-term care. Close to 6,000 seniors have died in long-term care. Think about the families that will never be the same again.

Speaker, how many more seniors need to die in long-term care before this government holds for-profit long-term care accountable and has the number of inspections that we need to protect our seniors every single day in the province of Ontario?

Hon. Stan Cho: “We announced,” Speaker? It was this government that announced the new long-term-care beds in that member’s riding. Importantly also, that member voted against those very homes that got built in his riding. The member also mentions that I’ve been—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The House will come to order.

Start the clock.

The Minister of Long-Term Care has the floor.

Hon. Stan Cho: Speaker, the member opposite mentions that I’ve been on the job for six weeks. I have, and in six weeks we’ve done more than long-term care than they did in 15 years for our seniors—an unbelievable question from the member opposite. So I’ll repeat: the largest investment into inspections in this country’s history, doubling the inspectorate; the largest capital investment to build and redevelop 58,000 beds, homes in this country, in this province; the largest investment into health human resources in this country’s history. That is the legacy of this Premier and this former long-term-care minister. We are taking care of seniors, because they didn’t.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.

Order. Order. The member for Carleton is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to ask her question. I would ask the House to come to order so we can start the clock again and resume question period.

Start the clock. Member for Carleton.

Consumer protection

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: My question is for the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery. Yesterday, our government introduced new consumer protection legislation. This is an important milestone, as the existing Consumer Protection Act has not had any meaningful review since 2005. I’m pleased to see the proactive stance that our government is taking by introducing a bill that, if passed, will strengthen protections for Ontarians from unfair business practices.

The reality is that the marketplace of today has evolved significantly. With an increase in online shopping and the use of apps, Ontarians deserve better protection.

Through you, Mr. Speaker, can the minister please elaborate on how our government is proposing to modernize laws to better protect the rights of consumers?

Hon. Todd J. McCarthy: I thank the member for Carleton for that excellent question. The Better for Consumers, Better for Businesses Act, 2023, tabled for first reading yesterday, is the first initiation of a comprehensive reform to Ontario’s consumer protection laws in almost two decades. This government and our Premier strongly believe that Ontarians deserve to feel protected when spending their hard-earned dollars, and this legislation, if passed, is a testament to our government’s promise to always listen to the needs of Ontarians.

After years of insufficient attention from the Liberal Party, in 2019, our ministry embarked on a long and extensive consultation journey. We conducted a comprehensive review of existing legislation, gathering feedback from stakeholders, consumer groups, advocates, the legal community and everyday Ontarians. The reality is that Ontarians have long deserved consumer protections to be updated. We’re getting it done.

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

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: It is clear from the minister’s response that our government is taking action when it comes to protecting Ontarians from unscrupulous business practices and safeguarding their personal information. It is also encouraging that in developing this bill, our government is carefully consulting with the individuals that would be most impacted by any changes.

Sadly, many Ontarians find themselves in difficult and upsetting circumstances when it comes to issues such as leasing equipment and signing contracts. That is why it is essential that our government takes action to increase trust and implement greater consumer protection measures for all Ontarians. Speaker, though you, can the minister please explain how the Better for Consumers, Better for Businesses Act, if passed, will help to strengthen trust between consumers and businesses?

Hon. Todd J. McCarthy: Thank you again to the member for Carleton for another important question. I’m sure everyone in this chamber would agree that when consumers feel confident and protected and they feel that the government has their backs, everyone in our economy is a winner. The proposed bill would, if passed, strengthen consumer rights, empower consumers and give the ministry stronger enforcement powers to crack down on bad actors. It would also address the concerns and harms of our most vulnerable citizens when facing contract amendments, subscription traps, high termination costs in long-term leases and unfair business practices used by door-to-door sellers.

It is our government’s goal to protect Ontarians with common-sense policies that reduce red tape and make it easier for consumers and businesses alike, because when Ontario citizens feel secure in spending their hard-earned dollars, we can all focus on what matters most: a strong, vibrant economy.

Paramedic services

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: My question is to the Premier. Paramedics in the Niagara region are facing a violence epidemic. Within seven months, there have been 56 incidents, which has added to staff attrition. No one should ever feel unsafe going into work.

Premier, paramedics should not be made to feel like second-class first responders. Will you commit to a provincial staffing strategy to address compensation, training and resources to ensure the safety of our paramedics and combat burnout?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Health.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Well, the one thing where I will agree with the member opposite is that there is no one in our health care system who should feel unsafe when they are doing a job and protecting the people of Ontario.

We have worked very closely with our paramedic chiefs and associations to make sure that we have resourced them appropriately. Of course, the member opposite knows we are a 50-50 partner with our municipal partners to make sure that we fund 50% of any expansion of the paramedic services in the province of Ontario. We will continue to do that, but I want to make it very clear that we do not tolerate violence in our health care system, including, of course, with our paramedics.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: Back to the Premier: Our paramedics, our local heroes, are facing rising violence on the job. They stand on the front lines daily, risking it all. Let me repeat that: They stand on the front lines daily, risking everything.

Premier, you control the purse strings. Can we get your commitment today to scrutinize the critical situation of our paramedics in Ontario and ensure they receive the same level of resources as other first responders? They deserve nothing less.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Again, I will repeat: We have zero tolerance for workplace violence. One incident is one too many.

But I must say, I’m also incredibly proud of our government and our Premier when we announced a PTSI centre with Runnymede to ensure that our first responders—including our paramedics, who we know historically have had a higher rate of PTSI—have the supports they need with an expansion of that centre.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That concludes our question period for this morning.

Notice of dissatisfaction

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to standing order 36(a), the member for Guelph has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Premier concerning funding to service new homes. This matter will be debated today following private members’ public business.

Deferred Votes

Convenient Care at Home Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 sur la prestation commode de soins à domicile

Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 135, An Act to amend the Connecting Care Act, 2019 with respect to home and community care services and health governance and to make related amendments to other Acts / Projet de loi 135, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2019 pour des soins interconnectés en ce qui concerne les services de soins à domicile et en milieu communautaire et la gouvernance de la santé et apportant des modifications connexes à d’autres lois.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Call in the members. This is a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1143 to 1148.

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

On October 16, 2023, Ms. Jones, Dufferin–Caledon, moved second reading of Bill 135.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

  • Anand, Deepak
  • Babikian, Aris
  • Barnes, Patrice
  • Bethlenfalvy, Peter
  • Bouma, Will
  • Bresee, Ric
  • Byers, Rick
  • Calandra, Paul
  • Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
  • Cho, Stan
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Crawford, Stephen
  • Cuzzetto, Rudy
  • Dowie, Andrew
  • Dunlop, Jill
  • Flack, Rob
  • Ford, Doug
  • Ford, Michael D.
  • Gallagher Murphy, Dawn
  • Ghamari, Goldie
  • Gill, Parm
  • Grewal, Hardeep Singh
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Hogarth, Christine
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Jones, Trevor
  • Jordan, John
  • Kanapathi, Logan
  • Ke, Vincent
  • Kerzner, Michael S.
  • Khanjin, Andrea
  • Kusendova-Bashta, Natalia
  • Leardi, Anthony
  • Lecce, Stephen
  • Lumsden, Neil
  • Martin, Robin
  • McCarthy, Todd J.
  • McGregor, Graham
  • Mulroney, Caroline
  • Pang, Billy
  • Parsa, Michael
  • Piccini, David
  • Pierre, Natalie
  • Pirie, George
  • Quinn, Nolan
  • Rae, Matthew
  • Rickford, Greg
  • Riddell, Brian
  • Romano, Ross
  • Sabawy, Sheref
  • Sandhu, Amarjot
  • Sarkaria, Prabmeet Singh
  • Sarrazin, Stéphane
  • Saunderson, Brian
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Skelly, Donna
  • Smith, David
  • Smith, Graydon
  • Smith, Laura
  • Smith, Todd
  • Surma, Kinga
  • Tangri, Nina
  • Thanigasalam, Vijay
  • Triantafilopoulos, Effie J.
  • Wai, Daisy
  • Williams, Charmaine A.
  • Yakabuski, John

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): All those opposed to the motion will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Andrew, Jill
  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Begum, Doly
  • Blais, Stephen
  • Bourgouin, Guy
  • Bowman, Stephanie
  • Burch, Jeff
  • Collard, Lucille
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Fraser, John
  • French, Jennifer K.
  • Gates, Wayne
  • Gélinas, France
  • Glover, Chris
  • Harden, Joel
  • Hazell, Andrea
  • Karpoche, Bhutila
  • Kernaghan, Terence
  • Mamakwa, Sol
  • Mantha, Michael
  • McCrimmon, Karen
  • Pasma, Chandra
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Schreiner, Mike
  • Shamji, Adil
  • Shaw, Sandy
  • Stevens, Jennifer (Jennie)
  • Stiles, Marit
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John
  • Vaugeois, Lise
  • West, Jamie
  • Wong-Tam, Kristyn

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Trevor Day): The ayes are 67; the nays are 33.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? Minister of Health.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: I would like the bill to be referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The bill is referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy.

Notice of dissatisfaction

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to standing order 36(a), the member for Orléans has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing concerning urban boundary expansions. This matter will be debated tomorrow following private members’ public business.

There being no further business at this time, this House stands in recess until 3 p.m.

The House recessed from 1153 to 1500.

Introduction of Visitors

Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I’m proud to introduce the newest member of my office, Zuhair Aqeel, a placement student from TMU. Thanks for being here. Welcome.

Petitions

Addiction services

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank the 1,073 people who signed this petition. It reads as follows:

“Save ‘the Spot’ Supervised Consumption Site....

“Whereas Sudbury’s overdose death rate is three times the rate of the rest of Ontario;

“Whereas an application was submitted to the government in 2021 for funding of a supervised consumption site in Sudbury called the Spot;

“Whereas the Spot is operated by Réseau Access Network with municipal funding that ends on December 31, 2023, the province must approve funding very soon, or the Spot will close putting many people at risk of death;

“Whereas in 2023 alone, the Spot had 1,000 visits, reversed all 17 on-site overdoses, provided drug-checking services and prevented many deaths;

They “petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Immediately approve funding for the supervised consumption site in Sudbury to save lives.”

I fully approve this petition, will affix my name to it and ask my good page Philippe to bring it to the Clerk.

Dental care

MPP Lise Vaugeois: This petition is entitled “Expand Ontario Seniors Dental Plan.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas seniors have to access the Ontario seniors dental plan through local public health units;

“Whereas the number of dentists registered with public health units to be covered under the Ontario seniors dental plan is low in northern Ontario;

“Whereas the small number of dentists registered with the Ontario seniors dental plan limits the capacity of public health units to serve their patients in northern Ontario; and

“Whereas the income threshold for seniors to be eligible for the Ontario seniors dental plan is unreasonably low—an annual net income of $22,200 or less for a single senior; a combined annual net income of $37,100 or less for a couple—thus creating a huge barrier for low-income seniors to access dental care;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“—to invest into community health centres, aboriginal health access centres, and public health units to build and expand dental suites and to hire more dentists; and

“—to facilitate the implementation of the federal dental care plan, which covers all seniors with income lower than $75,000, when it becomes law.”

I endorse this petition, and I will sign it and give it to Danté.

Housing

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: My petition is called “Housing for All.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas all Ontarians have the right to adequate housing;

“Whereas to ensure an adequate supply of housing, Ontario must build 1.5 million new market and non-market homes over the next decade; and

“Whereas the for-profit private market by itself will not, and cannot, deliver enough homes that are affordable and meet the needs of Ontarians for all incomes, ages, family sizes, abilities and cultures;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to implement a comprehensive housing plan that ensures the right of all Ontarians to adequate housing, including:

“—ending exclusionary zoning and enabling access to affordable and adequate housing options in all neighbourhoods;

“—stabilizing housing markets and stopping harmful speculation; establishing a strong public role in the funding, delivery, acquisition and protection of an adequate supply of affordable and non-market homes;

“—protecting tenants from rent gouging and displacement, and ensuring the inclusivity of growing neighbourhoods; and

“—focusing growth efficiently and sustainably within existing urban boundaries, while protecting irreplaceable farmland, wetlands, the greenbelt and other natural heritage from costly and unsustainable urban sprawl.”

I fully support this petition. I’ll sign it and pass it to page Beckett to deliver to the table.

Social assistance

Miss Monique Taylor: I have a petition which is no stranger to this Legislature: “To Raise Social Assistance Rates.” I once again thank Dr. Sally Palmer for all of her hard work.

“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 two cabinet ministers, signed by over 230 organizations, recommends that social assistance rates be doubled for both Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP);

“Whereas the recent small increase of 5% for ODSP still leaves these citizens” far “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 wholeheartedly support this petition. I will affix my name to it and give it to page Joel to bring to the Clerk.

Gasoline prices

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Mr. David Newman from Biscotasing in my riding for these petitions.

“Gas Prices....

“Whereas northern Ontario motorists continue to be subject to wild fluctuations in the price of gasoline; and

“Whereas the province could eliminate opportunistic price gouging and deliver fair, stable and predictable fuel prices; and

“Whereas five provinces and many US states already have some sort of gas price regulation; and

“Whereas jurisdictions with gas price regulation have seen an end to wild price fluctuations, a shrinking of price discrepancies between urban and rural communities and lower annualized gas prices;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:

“Mandate the Ontario Energy Board to monitor the price of gasoline across Ontario in order to reduce price volatility and unfair regional price differences while encouraging competition.”

I fully support this petition. I will affix my name to it and ask Saniyah to bring it to the Clerk.

Labour legislation

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Keith Lovely from Coniston in my riding for these petitions.

“Enact Anti-Scab Labour Law....

“Whereas strikes and lockouts are rare: on average, 97% of collective agreements are negotiated without work disruption; and

“Whereas anti-replacement workers laws have existed in Quebec since 1978, in British Columbia since 1993, and in Ontario under the NDP government, it was repealed by the Harris Conservative government;

“Whereas anti-scab legislation has reduced the length and divisiveness of labour disputes; and

“Whereas the use of scab labour during a strike or lockout is damaging to the social fabric of a community in the short and long term, as well as, the well-being of its residents;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:

“To pass the anti-scab labour bill to ban the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout.”

I support this petition. I will affix my name to it and ask Saniyah to bring it to the Clerk.

Front-line workers

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Robert Thibault from Garson in my riding for these petitions.

“Make PSW a Career....

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“Whereas there has been a shortage of personal support workers (PSWs) in long-term care and home care in Ontario for many years;

“Whereas Ontario’s personal support workers are overworked, underpaid and underappreciated, leading to many of them leaving the profession;

“Whereas the lack of PSWs has created a crisis in LTC, a broken home care system, and poor-quality care for LTC home residents and home care clients;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:

“Tell Premier Ford to act now to make PSW jobs a career, with” permanent, “full-time employment, good wages, paid sick days, benefits, a pension plan and a manageable workload in order to respect the important work of PSWs and improve” the quality of “patient care.”

I fully support this petition, will affix my name to it and ask page Saniyah to bring it to the Clerk.

Mental health services

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Carole Ménard from Hanmer in my riding for these petitions.

“Making Psychotherapy Services Tax-Free....

“Whereas mental health care is health care; and

“Whereas the mental health crisis facing Ontarians has gotten worse” since “the pandemic; and

“Whereas BIPOC, 2SLGBTQIA+ folks, women, and people with disabilities have historically faced significant barriers to accessing equitable health care services due to systemic discrimination; and

“Whereas registered psychotherapists provide vital mental health services, especially as an early intervention; and

“Whereas a 13% tax added to the cost of receiving psychotherapy services is another barrier for Ontarians seeking this vital care; and

“Whereas registered psychotherapists are still required to collect HST from clients, while most other mental health professionals have been” exempt;

They “petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:

“To pass the Making Psychotherapy Services Tax-Free Act, 2023, immediately, to remove this barrier to access mental health services.”

I fully support this petition, will affix my name to it and give it to my good page Saniyah, who’s very patient, to bring it to the Clerk.

Winter highway maintenance

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Gerald Chalk, who is from Hanmer in my riding, for these petitions.

“Improve Winter Road Maintenance on Northern Highways....

“Whereas highways play a critical role in northern Ontario;

“Whereas winter road maintenance has been privatized in Ontario and contract standards are not being enforced;

“Whereas per capita, fatalities are twice as likely to occur on a northern highway than on a highway in southern Ontario;

“Whereas current MTO classification negatively impacts the safety of northern highways;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:

“To classify Highways 11, 17, 69, 101 and 144 as class 1 highways; require that the pavement be bare within eight hours of the end of a snowfall and bring the management of winter road maintenance back into the public sector, if contract standards are not met.”

I fully support this petition, will affix my name to it and ask my good page Saniyah—we’re becoming friends—to bring it to the Clerk.

Long-term care

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Heather Jessup-Falcioni, who is from Val Caron in my riding, for these petitions.

“Time to Care....

“Whereas quality care for the 78,000 residents of LTC homes is a priority for many Ontario families; and

“Whereas the provincial government does not provide adequate funding to ensure care and staffing levels in LTC homes to keep pace with residents’ increasing acuity and the growing number of residents with complex behaviours; and

“Whereas several Ontario coroner’s inquests into LTC homes deaths have recommended an increase in direct hands-on care for residents and staffing levels and the most reputable studies on this topic recommend 4.1 hours of direct care per day;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:

“To amend the LTC Homes Act (2007) for a legislated minimum care standard of” 4.1 hours “per resident per day, adjusted for acuity level and case mix.”

I support this petition, will affix my name to it and ask Saniyah to bring it to the Clerk.

Multiple sclerosis

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Shirley Boulanger from Azilda in my riding for this petition.

“MS Specialized Clinic in Sudbury....

“Whereas northeastern Ontario has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in Ontario;

“Whereas specialized MS clinics provide essential health care services to those living with multiple sclerosis, their caregiver and their family;

“Whereas the city of Greater Sudbury is recognized as a hub for health care in northeastern Ontario;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Immediately set up a specialized MS clinic in the Sudbury area that is staffed by a neurologist who specializes in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, a physiotherapist and a social worker at a minimum.”

I support this petition, will affix my name to it and give it to my good page Saniyah to bring it to the Clerk.

Subventions aux résidents du Nord pour frais de transport à des fins médicales

Mme France Gélinas: J’aimerais remercier Valerie Smith de Val Caron dans mon comté pour ces pétitions.

« Réparons les subventions aux résident(e)s du nord de l’Ontario pour frais de transport à des fins médicales...

« Alors que les gens du Nord n’ont pas le même accès aux soins de santé en raison du coût élevé des déplacements et de l’hébergement;

« Alors qu’en refusant d’augmenter les taux des subventions aux résidents du nord de l’Ontario pour des frais de transport à des fins médicales (SRNOFTFM), le gouvernement Ford impose un lourd fardeau aux Ontarien(ne)s du Nord qui sont malades;

« Alors que le prix de l’essence est plus élevé dans le nord de l’Ontario; »

Ils et elles demandent à l’Assemblée législative de l’Ontario « de créer un comité ayant pour mandat de corriger et d’améliorer les services. Ce comité consultatif ... réunirait des fournisseurs de soins de santé du Nord ainsi que des bénéficiaires ... pour faire des recommandations à la ministre de la Santé qui amélioreraient l’accès aux soins de santé dans le nord de l’Ontario grâce au remboursement adéquat des frais de déplacement » et de logement.

J’appuie cette pétition, madame la Présidente. Je vais la signer et je demande à Saniyah, la page, de l’amener à la table des greffiers.

Orders of the Day

Honouring Our Veterans Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 visant à rendre hommage à nos anciens combattants

Mr. Coe moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 65, An Act to amend the Remembrance Week Act, 2016 / Projet de loi 65, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2016 sur la semaine du Souvenir.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The MPP for Whitby.

Mr. Lorne Coe: It’s fitting as we approach Remembrance Day week that I have the opportunity to speak on third reading of Bill 65, the Honouring Our Veterans Act, which amends the Remembrance Week Act, 2016.

I’d like to acknowledge the support of this proposed legislation by my caucus colleagues, the members of the official opposition, independent members and those who appeared before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs: the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 112 Whitby; Wounded Warriors Canada, including Steven Boychyn and Philip Ralph; Chris Leahy; from the town of Whitby, Deidre Newman; and Penelope Williams. Thank you all for your participation.

At its core, the nobility and the majesty of Remembrance Day can be found in the story of ordinary Ontarians who become extraordinary for the simplest ways and reasons. They loved their province and country so deeply, so profoundly, that they were willing to give their lives to keep it safe and free. The fallen we memorialize gave their last full measure of devotion, not so we might mourn them—though we do; not so that our province might honour their sacrifice—although it does. They gave their lives so that we might live ours; so that our sons and daughters might grow up to pursue their dreams; so that a wife might be able to live a long life, free and secure; so that a mother might raise her family in a province of peace and freedom.

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Rightly, each year on Remembrance Day, we say thank you to all those who gave their lives for our country, for our freedom. It is when we pay tribute to the names of those etched on the cenotaphs in towns like Whitby, cities and hamlets situated in the region of Durham and other parts of Ontario, so generations who follow remember the price of their duty.

Speaker, our hearts also go out on Remembrance Day to the families left behind: young mothers who raise their children alone, and mothers and fathers who face perhaps life’s greatest heartbreak: being told that their son or daughter has died in combat. It’s also when we honour those who served in conflicts past and current and have returned home to towns, villages and cities across our great province, their service complete.

As Ontarians, we have never looked for conflict, but we always rise to the occasion when asked to defend our ideals. Speaker, now more than ever, I think it’s important to listen to veterans, to hear their stories, to remember.

I regularly visit Whitby’s long-term-care and retirement homes at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as Remembrance Day, after the main ceremony at the cenotaph in the centre of the town of Whitby. It provides me with an opportunity to meet with veterans and, in some situations, sit at their bedsides and listen to their stories. I’m inspired not only by the bravery they showed all these years ago but how that bravery continues to shine in their eyes.

While the nature of war has changed over time, the values that drive our brave men and women in uniform remain constant: honour, courage, selflessness. Those values live in the hearts of everyday heroes who risked everything for us, men and women who now rest forever. My Uncle James is one of them, killed in a battle in France during World War I. Speaker, in addition to his name, the words on James’s dog tag were also those of scripture: Greater love has no other than this, than to lay down your life for your friends.

It is a debt, Speaker, we can never fully repay, but it’s a debt that we’ll never stop trying to fully repay: by remaining a province worthy of their sacrifice, by living our own lives the way the fallen live theirs, a testament that greater love has no other than this, than to lay down your life for your friends.

Speaker, Penelope Williams, who served with the Canadian Armed Forces Primary Reserve’s 734 Communication Squadron and also as a member of the NATO Veterans Organization of Canada, region of Durham chapter, had this to say during her delegation to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs:

“The act of remembrance by honouring those who died serving their country through a two-minute silence in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario is a powerful act of inclusion and recognition. The commitment of Canadians who died to preserve peace and security extends beyond our borders. Their efforts not only embody Canada’s commitment to international diplomacy, but they also demonstrate our commitment to humanity and justice.”

Our wars have won for us every hour we live in freedom, but our wars have taken from us the women and men and every hour of the lifetimes they had hoped to live. Again, that testament, that greater love, has no other than this, than to lay down your life for your friends.

God bless our veterans. God bless those who continue to serve. Lest we forget.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: Today, I stand before you humbled and moved as we discuss Bill 65, the Honouring Our Veterans Act, 2023. It is a moment that provides space for reflection, that provides space for gratitude. It is a moment that calls upon us to pause and consider the immense sacrifices made by those who have donned the uniform in service of our country.

In the shadow of the rich heritage and the histories of this Legislature, we are afforded the privilege to debate, to legislate and to lead. Yet it is crucial that we never lose sight of the sacrifices that have paved the way for our democratic freedoms. This bill, the Honouring Our Veterans Act, 2023, serves as a reminder of our duty and our obligation to remember and honour those sacrifices. The bill proposes a simple yet profoundly meaningful opportunity for members of this chamber to observe two minutes of silence on the last sessional day before Remembrance Day each year.

In the province of Ontario, we are home to over 149,000 veterans, as reported by Veterans Affairs Canada as of 2021; 11,000 of those served in the Korean War or the great wars. This is an astounding provincial sacrifice, as it accounts for almost half of the living veterans who survived in those earlier wars are from Ontario. These brave men and women, who have served in various capacities, from World War I to peacekeeping missions around the globe, have stood on the front lines defending our values, protecting our freedoms and ensuring the safety and the security of our nation.

Remembrance Day and recognizing our veterans is not specific to gratitude from us to the ones who have sacrificed; it is about teaching those values of gratitude and history to our children and the next generation. It is a responsibility that is of utmost importance in our schools, where the next generation of leaders will come from. According to the 2021 census, over two million children are enrolled in elementary and secondary schools in Ontario. It is important that we provide spaces for reflection in these chambers so that we lead by example and that spaces of reflection in our schools can be seen as important and vital to honour the sacrifices made by our veterans, as they are to the leaders in our community.

The Royal Canadian Legion, a stalwart advocate for veterans and remembrance, has long championed the importance of teaching Remembrance Day in schools. It goes beyond passing our values; it exceeds that. It’s about instilling the importance of gratitude. But why is this so important? It is important because remembrance is the foundation of gratitude, and gratitude is the foundation of community. It is the bridge between the past and the present, a bridge that allows us to understand and measure the true cost of our freedoms and our values.

In Ontario, we are fortunate to have a rich military history, a history that is woven into the very fabric of our province. From the battlefields of Europe to peacekeeping missions in distant lands, Ontarians have always answered the call to serve. It is this history, this legacy of service and sacrifice, that we must pass on to our children. So as we approach Remembrance Day, let us make a collective commitment to honour our veterans not just with words but with action. Let us commit to teaching our children about the sacrifices that were made, about the true cost of freedom and about the importance of gratitude.

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Speaker, Remembrance Day is a moment for us, as representatives for the people of Ontario, to stand in unity, to lower our eyes and to remember—to remember the bravery, to visualize the courage, to recognize the sacrifices of those who have served in wars and peacekeeping efforts around the globe.

It is with a heavy heart, particularly in reference to the unstable landscape of our current international conflicts, to reflect on the people who sacrificed for the privileges we have here today. Speaker, it speaks to the robustness and the importance to which we should interpret and provide a lens to all conflicts going forward, by ensuring we reflect on the conflicts we have previously engaged in.

It is about ensuring we understand that the sacrifice has had a human cost and it deserves much empathy. That is why I see this bill as more than a call for silence; it is a call for reflection, for gratitude and for action. It is a call to ensure that the stories of our veterans are told, that their sacrifices are remembered and that their legacy is always honoured.

Speaker, I have had the distinct honour of representing the vibrant community of St. Catharines in this Legislature for over two decades. In that time, I have witnessed first-hand the profound impact that our veterans have had on our community. From the cenotaphs that stand as silent sentinels of remembrance with the name of soldiers that are engraved, that will never go old, to the Royal Canadian Legions that serve as hubs of support and camaraderie, our community is rich with reminders of the sacrifices made by our veterans.

Speaker, in Niagara, it is our veterans that are leaders on our community boards and not-for-profits. They advocate for mental health support. They encourage our city to provide places for reprieve and support. I am so proud to call Shawn Bennett my friend, one of the leads at the Valhalla Project that provides support for veterans. I am proud to have added my voice to his and the chorus of veterans that created the labyrinth in our community—a safe place for peace of mind and for help with healing.

I am proud of veteran-owned Arrowhead Coffee Co. in St. Catharines, which has great coffee. All funds of coffee that is sold goes to our veterans. In mentioning this work, what I see is that our veterans make a difference and that their sacrifice never stops. They may no longer serve in the military, but they continue to work to make our communities that much better. They are often—and I mean this sincerely—the best part of all of us. They reflect Canadian values about hard work, inclusivity, sacrifice, community building and gratitude. These are the same values I see all throughout Ontario, particularly in St. Catharines.

Speaker, when honouring our veterans, we need to honour the work that organizations do on their behalf: the great work at the Royal Canadian Legion; the great work of Ontario Command—Pam Sweeny and her team; the great work that occurs across all of their volunteers and Legions; the great work of all the non-profit moves that dial forward, that both sides of the House need to meet to try and make life better, more accessible, more fair for our veterans.

Speaker, it needs to be said that any legislation that increases space for honouring our veterans must come with support for supporting the work of our veterans. If all we action is space for memorialization, without real and profound conversations on reviewing and supporting their work, then we are doing a disservice. That work is commendable, as I see it. It includes ending homelessness, emergency support, mental health, better housing, combatting senior isolation. I see it in my community, and I know we all we see it within all of our communities.

Legions are often the hub in our communities for this work, and while this legislation will allow for recognition to increase in this chamber, that is to only ensure that our local organizations, our local Legions, know they have our support to increase the recognition in our communities.

In St. Catharines, we are home to four active and vibrant Legions: downtown Branch 24, the Polish Branch 418, Port Dalhousie Branch 350 and, of course, my home Legion, Merritton Branch 138. These Legions are more than just social clubs; they are sanctuaries of support, pillars of our community, and guardians of our collective memory.

Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not provide an example of why St. Catharines does such an exemplary job in honouring our veterans. If you want to know where to go to in St. Catharines to honour our veterans, then it is important I highlight it for you now, as I stand here during the debate on legislation to honour our veterans.

The journey in my community is a similar one that I know is shared in all of our communities. While I know everyone in this chamber will take the time to participate in their own community tributes, in St. Catharines, I have attended the events that pay tribute to our veterans—the beautiful tributes that are set up by our Royal Canadian Legions in our community, the veterans and all of the volunteers. As we debate this bill to honour our veterans, one that I suspect will receive all-party support, I would like to invite all members of this chamber to come to my community in St. Catharines and participate and honour the sacrifices of our veterans together, on October 27, with the Poppy Kick Off Parade, a vibrant procession that will weave its way through the heart of our city, beginning at our lovely mall, the Pen Centre, at 11 a.m. This parade is not just a march; it is a powerful statement, a collective declaration of our unwavering support for our veterans. It marks the beginning of the poppy campaign, a time-honoured tradition that calls upon us to wear our poppies with pride, and a worthwhile opportunity to volunteer with our Legions.

As we move through Veterans’ Week, our city will be showered with poppies and volunteers—seniors and children coming together, handing them out at nearly every grocery store and every corner in our community—each one a silent yet powerful tribute to the sacrifices of our veterans. And on Remembrance Day, November 11, we will gather as a community to pay our respects and to honour our heroes.

Legion Branch 24 is always well attended—a parade and a wreath-laying ceremony, commencing at St. Catharines City Hall and culminating at the Memorial Park cenotaph at 6 St. Paul Street West, beginning at 10:15 a.m. This ceremony is a cornerstone of our Remembrance Day observances—a time for us to stand shoulder to shoulder in reflection and heartfelt gratitude. I would like to recognize the Lincoln and Welland Regiment members and band that always attend the parade on November 11.

Not far behind, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 138 will host their own parade and wreath-laying ceremony, starting at Merritton Legion Branch 138, 2 Chestnut Street East, and marching proudly to the cenotaph at 343 Merritt Street, beginning at 10:40 a.m. This parade is very personal for me as it is in my own community, Merritton, and it is a powerful call to all of us to honour the legacy of our veterans. The Branch 138 Legion happens to be where I am a proud member.

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 350 will lead a parade in the north part of our city, and a wreath-laying ceremony, starting at 57 Lakeport Road and proceeding to the Port Dalhousie cenotaph at Main Street and Ann Street, on November 5 at 11 a.m. This ceremony, set against the backdrop of our beautiful city, is the moment for all of us to come together and to remember and to give thanks.

And let us not forget our Polish club, still a symbolic home to Legion Branch 418, which will host its own parade and wreath-laying ceremony on November 5 at 11:30 a.m., and the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, which will lay wreaths in honour of the fallen on November 5 at 10 a.m.

Throughout this sacred week, our city will also play host to a series of armistice and remembrance dinners, culminating in the Lincoln and Welland Regiment gala on November 4 at 6 p.m. Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Edinburgh GCVO will be an honorary guest. I am going to be honoured to be attending.

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The Lincoln and Welland Regiment has a storied and valuable history that has impacted our community and the Niagara region as a whole. We all hold the memory of Warrant Officer Dennis Brown, who laid down his life in the ultimate sacrifice, and for his friends.

I know that the ceremonies and events that will unfold in St. Catharines over the upcoming days are not just obligations; they are opportunities for us to come together as a community, and it is similar across all our communities. It is why I see the value in improving the ways in which we can honour our veterans in the chamber, because we are and should strive to always be a reflection of the honour our communities work so hard to place on our veterans throughout Veterans’ Week.

Speaker, as we discuss this bill, we must also reflect on the diversity of our veterans community. Canada’s military history is rich and varied, and it’s important that we recognize and honour the contributions of all veterans, regardless of their background. In the First World War, more than 4,000 Indigenous people served in uniform, a contribution that we have recently honoured with the cadet award. In Niagara, we annually celebrate the contribution of Black Canadians and veterans, ensuring that their stories are told and their sacrifices are always remembered. In Ontario, we are home to a diversity of Indigenous peoples, each with their own unique traditions and histories of military service. The Ojibwe, Cree, Mohawk and many others have always answered the call to serve, often at a proportional level that exceeds many other communities.

It’s vital that we strive to be as inclusive as possible in our remembrance. Our veterans come from all walks of life, from every corner of this great, great province. In the spirit of reconciliation and remembrance, let us commit to ensuring that, through legislation that provides more space and time for reflection, we use it to reflect on the contributions of Indigenous veterans. Let us work together to create a legacy of recognition, respect and gratitude for all who have served.

I speak today not just as a member of provincial Parliament but as someone who has family members who have served this great country. Both my grandfathers were in the Canadian air force, and I give great pride to my grandparents. My father was in the Royal Canadian Navy. And while I know many of you in this chamber will be honouring family members on November 11, many of you know already I am the proud mother of a veteran. My son, Jonathan Lindal, petty officer first class in the Royal Canadian Navy, serves our country with dedication and bravery. I am proud to see his progress—very proud, actually. I recognize the sacrifices he has made, and not only himself but his family. My daughter-in-law, Sarah, and his two beautiful daughters, my granddaughters, Josephine and Hazel, have given up their father at times for six months.

Honouring our veterans—this comes from the heart—is not only about individual sacrifices; it’s about recognition of sacrifices that come from families, from communities, a reminder of how connected we all are.

While I stand to move policy forward in the Ontario Legislature today, legislation to honour veterans, it is a reminder about why it is important. It is a reminder about my family and families of others in this chamber. This is an important message to receive.

Speaker, it is my loyalty to family and my duty to my community that has always driven my personal commitment to our veterans, both retired and active, both older and younger, and those that have taken the ultimate sacrifice. It is this connection that contextualizes my world, provides context to my work and gives meaning to my efforts to honour and support our veterans.

In this Legislature, I have strived to close the gaps that might cause a veteran to fall through some cracks. Even before becoming an MPP, I successfully pushed for free parking for veterans in St. Catharines. I successfully pushed for free public transportation for veterans within St. Catharines, making life easier and offering recognition to the sacrifices of our veterans.

I will continue to work to ensure that our veterans have the support they need, that their sacrifices are recognized and their legacy is honoured within this House, whether through pushing for younger veterans to be included in emergency funding programs from the province or ensuring no veteran has their disability awards clawed back.

It is a reminder to all of us in this chamber that memorials and reflection and recognition are important to honour our veterans, but so are real actions—a provincial commitment to abolish all homelessness for veterans, ensure there are robust support systems, housing and health care and so much more.

In conclusion, I’d like to thank the member from Whitby for all of his continuing support of our Canadian military and service members, to our Legions across Ontario. I will be supporting the Honouring Our Veterans Act, 2023.

I know I’m out of time, but I’ve just got one little line to say. Let us remember them, let us honour them, let us teach gratitude, let us strive to provide more real support to our communities and let us ensure that their legacies live on for generations to come. I thank you for your time.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Mr. Stephen Blais: I will be splitting my time with the member from Kanata–Carleton. It’s a great honour to speak this afternoon in support of Bill 65, the Honouring Our Veterans Act. I want to thank very much the member for Whitby for bringing it forward.

The bill introduced by the member from Whitby is a simple one, yet it is an extraordinarily meaningful way to show our gratitude and respect for the sacrifices of our veterans. It is a way to acknowledge the debt we owe to those who fought for our freedom, for democracy and for human rights. It’s a way to honour their legacy and ensure that their stories are never forgotten.

Madam Speaker, generations of young men and women travelled abroad to defend our way of life and our allies from tyranny and oppression. In fact, more than 100,000 Canadians have made the ultimate sacrifice in armed conflict and many, many more have been wounded, many with injuries we can see and, as we learn more and more about trauma, many more with injuries we cannot.

We mustn’t forget the sacrifices of these brave men and women and we mustn’t also forget the sacrifices of their families. Families feel the pain of absence, the stress of the unknown, the potential for danger and, of course, they must manage the challenges of injuries and the anguish of death. By observing two minutes of silence in this House, we are joining millions of Canadians across the country who pause at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to pay tribute to our heroes.

As many of you know, the community of Orléans is affectionately referred to as CFB Orléans—Canadian Forces Base Orléans—because of the great number of residents who are current or past members of the Canadian Forces, as well as those dedicated public servants who work at the Department of National Defence. Our community is proud and honoured to be home to so many active reserve and retired members, many of whom have served in both peacekeeping and active conflicts overseas.

These men and women are our neighbours. They coach hockey and football. They volunteer at the resource centre or at their church, their temple or their mosque. They contribute to our vibrant community life in innumerable ways. For this, I and all Orléans residents are extraordinarily grateful.

In fact, it might be suggested that Orléans was founded by a veteran. In 1830, François Dupuis, who was widely believed to be one of the original if not the original settler of Orléans, was granted 100 acres by the crown in recognition of his contributions at the Battle of Châteauguay in the War of 1812. From that, he and his wife and his 10 children encouraged francophones from across the Dominion to settle in Orléans and establish what is now the vibrant bilingual community that I’m so proud to represent.

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I would suggest, Madam Speaker, that most Orléans residents have a family member or close connection to the Canadian Forces. I personally would like to thank my neighbours Gord and Dot, both of whom served in the Canadian Forces and who are the most generous, thoughtful and friendly neighbours anyone can hope for. My family is very proud of my brother’s own service. He joined the reserves in college. He fought in Afghanistan, served in peacekeeping operations in the Middle East and has built a career in the Canadian Forces, like so many of our neighbours.

Madam Speaker, in recent years, east Ottawa, Orléans, and Cumberland have seen first-hand the professionalism of our reserve army. During the devastating flooding in 2019, reservists were deployed from across Ontario to help residents in Cumberland protect and save their homes from the devastating flooding of the Ottawa River.

As we approach Remembrance Day and Veterans’ Week, I’m very proud to say that the community of Orléans is home to the second largest Remembrance Day ceremony in eastern Ontario, only outdone by the national ceremony which takes place at the National War Memorial. Thousands of Orléans residents attend the ceremony hosted by Royal Canadian Legion Branch 632. Our Legion in Orléans is a vibrant one, with dedicated volunteers and leaders. They play a critical role in supporting our veterans, and I can’t forget the incredible work that they do to distribute poppies in our community and ensure that our neighbours and friends never forget.

Madam Speaker, Remembrance Day is not just a date on the calendar. It is a solemn occasion to reflect on the costs of war. So let’s remember the courage and commitment of those who have served and continue to serve in uniform, and the grief and hardship of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and that of their loved ones. It’s time to renew our pledge to say “never again” and that we’ll never forget.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for Kanata–Carleton.

Mrs. Karen McCrimmon: What a privilege it is to be able to stand here today to speak in support in the debate on Bill 65, which is An Act to amend the Remembrance Week Act, 2016.

Madam Speaker, I know how lucky we are to live in a country like Canada. After having served in the Canadian Forces for 31 years, I have been fortunate to visit more than 75 countries around the world, and I can tell you first-hand just how lucky we really are. So many in this world are not as fortunate. I wish other people could see what I have seen. Maybe they would fight as hard as so many veterans did to protect all the gifts and blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Seeing the reality of the rest of the world makes me even more grateful for this country, and it made me even more determined to do whatever was necessary to protect this country and its citizens.

Madam Speaker, over the course of our history, Canadians have fought to protect this country. World War I, World War II, Korea, the gulf wars, Afghanistan, plus many peacekeeping missions right around the globe—so many made the ultimate sacrifice, but so many more came home suffering the after-effects, the trauma of war. They suffered physically, mentally, emotionally, and many still suffer today. Those sacrifices deserve to be recognized and acknowledged. Remembrance Week starts soon. Please, I ask everyone to take the time and talk with our veterans. Express your gratitude and our thanks for what they have left for us.

Madam Speaker, I want to tell you about one of my local heroes, Dr. Roly Armitage. He served in World War II. He served in the Royal Canadian Artillery and took part in the Normandy invasion and the liberation of Europe. At 98 and a half years old, he is still as sharp as a tack.

I visited him on the weekend, as I do quite often, and I was pleased to be able to see a guest book for an event that took place in Ottawa earlier this summer. What a story this is. In 1944, Roly was serving in Holland, and late one night, on his way back to camp, he came across two frightened children in a ditch on the side of the road. It was freezing cold, he said, and raining, and the children were cold and weak and hungry. He stopped and picked up the children, and he took them back to camp so they could be cared for.

Almost 80 years later, he got to meet one of those children, one of the children he had rescued. He was in Holland earlier this year for the Liberation Day ceremonies, and he told his story, and it spread through the entire network and around the globe. What a legacy. It brought Roly together with the now 83-year-old woman who he had rescued. What a legacy: courage to fight for his country but still have a big heart for those in need. It’s the Canadian way, Madam Speaker. I’m so proud to call Roly a friend and to be able to thank him in person, and I look forward to seeing him again soon.

Madam Speaker, Roly is one of less than 20,000 World War II veterans left in this country. Taking the time to listen to their stories is so very important, and it’s only getting more so. When we say “lest we forget” this November, we must acknowledge that remembrance is an active effort; that without effort, the lessons of the past can be forgotten. Those are hard-fought lessons, Madam Speaker, and the Canadians who fought for them did so because they knew it was right. We remember not just because we are proud, but because without remembering, we lose part of the gift that they left to us.

The democracy that we enjoy here in Canada is a result of these sacrifices. It is incumbent on all of us to protect that gift. We all know that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. With rising authoritarianism around the world, the lessons of the past must be spoken louder than ever.

I know that every member in this House has plans to participate in Remembrance Week and at Remembrance Day ceremonies, and I thank you. I, too, will be out in my riding visiting my local Legions, thanking the veterans who have served this country.

I’m lucky to have two excellent Legions in my community who not only lead remembrance ceremonies, but organize poppy drives, support the Perley Health campus, and devote their time to helping veterans and their families. Royal Canadian Legion Branch 638 in Kanata; Branch 616, West Carleton, in Constance Bay; and Dominion Command in Kanata all have my heartfelt thanks—not only the veterans who are members of these Legions, but the countless volunteers who work hard to selflessly support all the veterans and their families in our communities.

Madam Speaker, we can never acknowledge and thank our veterans enough, and that is why I ask everyone to wear their poppies beginning Friday, October 27, to the 11th of November. When you do so, you help support veterans and their families, who have also sacrificed much. I support this bill and I thank the member for Whitby for his initiative in bringing it forward.

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Lest we forget.

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The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: It’s an honour today to rise and speak in support of Bill 65, the Honouring Our Veterans Act, and I want to express my deep gratitude to the member for Whitby for bringing this bill forward. It’s an appropriate bill to bring all members of this House together to honour our veterans, and I think it’s important for us as members of this Legislature to observe two minutes of silence to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country and make the opportunity available for members to give speeches.

I know one of the most memorable things I’ve had the honour of doing in this House as a party leader is to rise and be one of those members who have the opportunity to honour our veterans on this floor. I think it’s important that all members have that opportunity to show our deep gratitude to our veterans and to their families. So I want to thank the member from Whitby for providing us with that opportunity through this bill.

Remembrance Week and Remembrance Day are truly meaningful moments each and every year, and it’s always an honour to stand with our veterans, our first responders and their families to honour them on Remembrance Day as we pay tribute to the sacrifices they’ve made, both seen and unseen.

I’m particularly honoured to be representing the riding of Guelph, the home riding of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who was born on November 30, 1872. Last year, we had the honour of honouring the 150th birthday of John McCrae, and we’re blessed in Guelph to have our Royal Canadian Legion branch named in Lieutenant Colonel McCrae’s honour.

He volunteered in World War I at the age of 41 and was quoted as saying in a letter, “I am really rather afraid, but more afraid to stay at home with my conscience.” So, at 41, he went to Europe to fight for Canada, to fight for all Canadians.

In 1915, on May 3, he witnessed one of his best friends being killed in battle. He woke up in the next morning and he wrote this famous Canadian poem, and I’ve always had moments in the House to read bits and pieces of it, but I’ve never had enough time read it in full, I’m going to today in honour of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae:

 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

Speaker, when I put my poppy on this Friday and go to the Legion for the annual raising of the poppy flag and the launch of the poppy campaign in Guelph and in communities across Ontario and around this country, I’ll of course be thinking of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae and all veterans, and I ask all Ontarians to support and participate in the poppy campaigns because the money that our Legions raise through those campaigns are more than an offer of wearing something to honour veterans, but they provide funds to support veterans and their families.

As many of us know, fewer and fewer veterans are now members of our Royal Canadian Legion, so I also want to let my fellow Ontarians know that you don’t have to be a veteran to join the Legion. I’m not a veteran myself, but I’m a proud member of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 234. I encourage all Ontarians to join their local Legion and participate in the friendship and fellowship that our Legions offer their comrades.

I’m also a member of the Red Chevron Club Branch 4 in Guelph. There were four Red Chev clubs founded in the province of Ontario, in Toronto, Peterborough, London and Guelph. They were formed in World War I for veterans to have friendship and fellowship and a gathering place. I encourage all Ontarians to continue to support clubs like the Red Chev. Even though there aren’t many, we still have ours in Guelph.

I’m also going to think about my granddad, John Boyd. My middle name is John, named after my granddad. Sorry, I get emotional. He was a World War II vet. He was in the navy. He never wanted to talk about his service because it was too traumatic. I can’t imagine what he experienced, what he went through. I was lucky, because right before he passed away, I took the time, and he granted me the opportunity to tell his stories. So I recorded his stories, and I understood, in those moments when we talked, why he didn’t want to talk about it too much with his family, because he did not want them to know the horrors and the pain and the trauma he experienced. Even though my granddad was the gentlest, nicest person you would ever meet, he didn’t want people to know the anger he felt about what he saw and what he went through. And I think of so many veterans from so many wars and peacekeeping operations and military operations that have had that exact same experience.

So, when we remember and when we remain silent on the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th hour, I’m going to be thinking and praying and offering gratitude to all the veterans and their families, because we also know their families made tremendous sacrifices. My grandma talked about the fact that she had never left home, and she went with my grandfather to his base for training and they got married right before he left. She’s like, “Jeez, how crazy is that? I’m going to marry this gentleman and he’s going to leave, and here I am stuck all alone in a little tiny apartment somewhere where I don’t even know anyone. But I wanted to be there for him. I wanted to be there to support his service. I wanted to be there to honour him.”

I know what kind of sacrifice families go through, and we as Ontarians and as Canadians benefit from that sacrifice. We live in the best province in the best country, the best place anywhere in the world we could live. We have democracy. We have freedom. We have the opportunity in this House to disagree and debate each other and have our moments. The reason we have those opportunities and the quality of life that we all have here is because people were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect us, to protect this place, to protect what we stand for and what we value.

I want to thank the member from Whitby for bringing this bill forward, and I hope all members in the House today and in years to come take the opportunity to tell their stories, to tell their families’ stories and express their gratitude for the veterans who have sacrificed so much so we could enjoy so much.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

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Mr. John Yakabuski: I want to thank the member for Whitby for bringing this forward to us to debate today, and it’s been to committee and such. This is a great opportunity to do something that is absolutely right for our veterans and those who serve.

I must say to my friend from Guelph, he’s not making my job any easier with his personal reflections because if I go that way, I’m going to have a little challenge myself. But I do want to say that Canadians and our record of standing for freedom and democracy and human rights and all of those things that we take for granted today, as the member from Guelph said—the freedom to differ in this chamber, the freedom to debate, the freedom to disagree, but also to be together on those issues where there is no disagreement.

I say, from Amiens to Afghanistan, from Passchendaele to peacekeeping, we have so much to be proud of for the men and women who have served in our armed forces. Particularly, we need to honour those who paid the ultimate price, made the ultimate sacrifice.

Quite frankly, Speaker, there is absolutely nothing we can do to repay them for what they have done, but this is an important and a significant gesture, to take a special time on the last sessional day before we recess for Remembrance Day to pay that tribute, to have that two minutes of silence and to then have representatives from each political party speak on behalf of their members to honour our veterans.

Of course, when I was a young boy, we were right on the main street of Barry’s Bay. The parades on Remembrance Day were something very special. We weren’t, at that time, dependent on current-serving members of the armed forces to come and populate the parade; we had enough veterans right at home. In fact, I remember that we actually had—I’ve been around long enough—veterans of the First World War marching in those parades. Of course, my father, who was a World War II veteran, was marching in those parades as well. He was, relatively speaking, a young man at that time.

So I’d see those parades, and then we’d have the wreath-laying ceremonies after that. After my dad passed away, I kind of lost maybe a little bit of a connection with that. He never, ever talked, as you said about your grandfather. But you did have that opportunity to sit down at some point. Maybe if my dad had lived longer, he may have softened to the point that he would have talked about it. But he didn’t, and I kind of lost maybe a little bit of a connection.

So how blessed am I to have been in a position where I could run for this office, run to be an MPP? Because during my first campaign and in the subsequent years since—I’m here 20 years now—I learned more about my father’s service in the Second World War certainly than I ever did from him, because I was graced with the opportunity to meet men who actually served with him overseas. Those were special moments, to sit down and talk to those other soldiers who served, particularly in the Glens, the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, of which my dad was a solider.

But of course, when I’m speaking to those veterans, they’re already in their eighties at that point. Most of them are gone now. But it gives you an insight maybe as to why your own father didn’t want to talk about it. As you said, maybe they just wanted to spare us from some of the most difficult parts. I know he did tell us one time that his best friend was killed next to him. That’s about all I ever got.

In those 20 years now, I’ve had that opportunity to rub shoulders, as my dad used to say, and interact with so many veterans. As the member for Kanata–Carleton said, there are fewer than 20,000 left—and, by the way, Roly Armitage, he’s a legend, not just for his military service, in other ways, as well. I was there, at the ceremony, when he was bestowed the Order of Ontario, so give him my best when you see him next. We’re all very proud of Roly Armitage.

But the other Roly Armitages of the world, those that I got to know in Renfrew county, and the veterans that didn’t serve with my dad, but, as you got to know and see and feel them, you understood how challenging and difficult it was—the life that they accepted, the life that they volunteered for.

If you look at the numbers, in the First World War, we sent almost 700,000—at that time, men—overseas. Our population was less than eight million. If you were of a certain age, on the high side, you weren’t going; if you were not above a certain age, on the low side, you weren’t going, and if you were required for essential industries—the country still had to run. So think of the sacrifice and the commitment of Canada at that time, out of that population, that almost 700,000 people volunteered to go for service.

So then you ask yourself, “What can we do to make it special?” Well, something that is happening today is what my friend from Whitby is doing. When I look at my Legions today—there’s eight of them in my riding and I’ve been at every single one of them for more than one remembrance service, because I’ve been around for a while—and you have that moment and those ceremonies, when you do reflect on the approximately—there’s no exact numbers—but the 65,000 that were killed in World War I and about 45,000 that were killed in World War II, and what that sacrifice has meant for us—not just the freedom to debate in this chamber, but the privilege of living in what is, I think in the minds of all of us, truly the greatest country in the world and the best country in the world to live in, and we owe so much of that to those people who came before us.

In the last couple of years, or few years—in some areas, maybe sooner—and post-pandemic, our Legions have had some struggles. They were really, really, really hurting through the pandemic. And, post-pandemic, it’s been harder to regenerate that atmosphere, and to bring back the people to the Legion.

So I certainly want to encourage everyone to get out there and support their Legions. They’re such a vital part—and they are, specifically, that group whose main focus is our veterans and their families, yet they are so involved in other things in our communities, as well.

But a few years ago, in Barry’s Bay, where I come from, they started the banner program. It had been in other communities prior to that, but over the last few years, it has just grown and grown and grown. And I think what it shows is that there’s a resurgence of what people are—so when we had our tours in Afghanistan, it was hard not to focus on our military, hard not to focus on what our military was doing and how we could help them and support them. But, with the end of our tours in Afghanistan, it gets off the front burner as well.

I think what’s happening in our Legions now is a resurgence of that kind of feeling that is so important for us, as individuals, to take that opportunity to thank those who are left and those who are the new veterans of today. Remember that it is not just the veterans that have served years ago, it is also the veterans that are serving today, and we have to be grateful for the fact that they are standing up and ready, if called upon.

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This banner program that just continues to expand—this year, it also was adopted by the Legion in Eganville. And I brought a picture of the member for Niagara Centre’s grandfather, who actually is on the banners in Eganville, because on his mother’s side—I don’t know all the connections; I haven’t had a chance to have a deep discussion, but Mr. Burch and his family have roots in the Eganville area. I guess what I’m saying about that, Speaker, is that—and I read the transcripts from the committee, and I saw the impact that it has had on the member for St. Catharines and the member for Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas. We hear about your commitment, member for Kanata–Carleton—who has served in a dignified way herself in the armed forces. I don’t think there’s anybody in this chamber, or a lot of us, that don’t have some kind of connection with somebody who has served. That’s why I think it means so much, and we are so fortunate to be able to stand here and talk about this today.

So I’m looking forward to Thursday, whatever date that is, before we leave, the 2nd of November—it just clicked. On the 2nd of November, we will hopefully have royal assent, this bill will be through, we will be able to see it through to fruition on November 2 and bring that honour to the veterans that they so rightly deserve. It is the least we can do. Lest we forget.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I want to start off by thanking the member for Whitby for bringing this bill forward and all the colleagues that helped support the member from Whitby to make this a success here.

I want to thank and I want to recognize all veterans and all servicepersons that are serving today or have served our country, but today I’m going to spend some time speaking about two veterans that I know in the London area. I want to talk about their lives and their contributions under Bill 65, the Honouring Our Veterans Act, in this Legislature.

The first veteran I want to speak about is Corporal George Hebert Beardshaw. Born September 14, 1923, in the coal-mining town of Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, he was the fourth child of five, born to a single mother. George knows very little about his father, just that he had a family elsewhere. He believes that the police had made his father return to his first family, causing the family breakdown. Young George was sent away to live with his Aunt May. He retained no memory of his mother and memories of his aunt are of heavy drinking habits. He says, “She could drink 10 men under the table.” Of his siblings, he only remembered two older brothers, Charles and John.

At the age of six, he was sent to the Barnardo Homes. George remembers Barnardo’s as being a very strict home, where boys were thoroughly punished for small things. Alone at first, George was left to difficult tasks of fending for himself among the other boys. Charlie and John, who initially boarded out, came to live in the same cottage as George and protected him from the other boys. Although many of the children were educated out in the community, George was sent to the school inside Barnardo’s. John was sent to Canada through Barnardo’s in 1932 at the age of 15 and Charlie was boarded out once again, leaving George alone. In 1938, George was also sent to Canada.

He had been in school when the Barnardo Homes inspector came in and said, “How many of you want to go to Canada?” Fourteen-year-old George, wanting to get out of the Barnardo Homes, stuck his hand up. He looked forward to the excitement of an ocean voyage and to becoming a cowboy. Nobody ever explained to him what going to Canada really meant. George, knowing his brother was in Canada already and believing his mother was dead, looked forward to a new life that was being offered.

George was seasick on the voyage, but otherwise enjoyed the trip. They were treated well and could eat whatever they wanted. In his box, he was allowed to bring a box camera, clothing and a crystal set. From Quebec, they took a train into Toronto, and they stayed at the Jarvis Street receiving home for three days. Barnardo’s took the children on a trip to the Toronto Island.

The boys were given a list of about 200 farmers who were looking for farm help. On that list, he saw a Mr. Payne who was located in Little Britain. George thought, since he came from Great Britain he would go to Little Britain, and thus his placement was chosen. George was transported to the farm just outside of Lindsay, Ontario, by train. Mr. Payne picked him up from the train in a 1929 Chevy.

George stood out from the neighbourhood children, who often came to see him, to hear him speak and see his different clothing. He got used to stepping in cow dung and although he had never seen cows before, he soon got used to cleaning it up.

Mr. Payne was “ahhhh alright,” in George’s words. Mr. Payne told George he was too smart for his own good. George was worked very hard and felt he could run rings around him work-wise. George was to earn $3 a month and was told by Mr. Payne many times that he was not worth it. His pay was put into an account held by the Barnardo offices from which was deducted items for his care such as clothing and his straw hats needed. Barnardo’s held his money on account, and he did eventually receive it. George lived a very isolated and restrictive life. He was there to work. Simple activities such as going to a movie were not allowed. Indentured to Mr. Payne for five years, George often ran away. Barnardo’s told him that he could not leave Mr. Payne and that he had to stay there.

One morning, George, weary of the harsh life, had been up ahead of Mr. Payne. He had milked his three cows and by the time Mr. Payne arrived for work, George had started milking his. George remarked that the cow wasn’t giving as much milk as before, to which the farmer replied, “If you kept your mouth shut, she’d likely give more.” Well, George just stared at him, thinking he’d had about enough. Now was his opportunity to get out of there. He scared the cats away, took the milking pail and set it against the wall. Mr. Payne asked George where he was going, and he told him that he couldn’t take this treatment anymore and he was leaving him.

Fed up, George went into the house, where Mrs. Payne was making breakfast. She asked, “George, did you get your chores done already?” “Yup,” he replied, “about all I’m going to do.” “You didn’t leave Will down there all alone to do the chores, did you?” George told her that he didn’t care when she told him that they would be unable to obtain another hired man if he left them. “After all we have done for you?” she replied. “You’ve done nothing for me but work my” blank “off! One of these days, I will be leaving,” he responded. “One of these days, the farm will be yours,” she pleaded. “I don’t want your” darn “farm,” were George’s final words to the Paynes. He left, walked down the road and hitched a ride to Delhi. Although his brother John was also in Canada, George did not see him for at least two years. John was placed in Delhi, and that is where George headed. Once in Delhi, he was able to obtain a job working on a tobacco farm. Barnardo’s did try to get him to return to the Paynes, but George was determined he was not going back.

In February 1944, he went to Toronto to join the air force. He was told that because he did not have enough education, he would work as a grease monkey. George wanted to go overseas to see his family. He knew by this time his brother Charlie had found their mother. Although she had never bothered with him all his life, George, now 19 years old, still wanted to see her and join the army as a means to get back to England.

Once overseas, he obtained three days’ leave and arrived at her door, unannounced. Although his grandparents said they were proud of him and that he looked sharp in his uniform, it was like going into a stranger’s home. His mother was very quiet. George avoided discussing why she had given them up. He just wanted to meet his family. He was proud to be a Canadian soldier. George served with the Queen’s Own Rifles, reaching corporal status with the 8th platoon. While serving in action near the end of the war, he was taken prisoner of war in Deventer, Holland. After a bit of a shemozzle, Beardshaw was captured and spent the final 28 days of the war as a prisoner of war. That was, George said, “another fine mess.”

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George settled in London, Ontario, where he lived with his pretty wife, Emma. George and Emma did not have children of their own but enjoyed a good relationship with his brother’s children. Charlie had come to Canada in 1953, married, had two children. Tragically, just after his 41st birthday, he was killed in an automobile accident. George and Emma helped the family out a great deal after the loss of their father.

One of George’s keepsakes from the war is the handkerchief which he was given by the Red Cross after his capture in Holland. The names of fellow prisoners of war are written on it, including the names of his captured platoon, in the top right-hand corner. George framed it proudly and shows it off to visitors.

George is glad he came to Canada. Despite his struggles on the farm, he is proud and grateful to be Canadian.

George was the special guest speaker on July 28, 2014, when the British Home Child Advocacy and Research Association held a special commemoration service to honour the British home children who served and died in the First World War. At the end of his address, he lifted his fist into the air and declared, “I love Canada.”

George is one of our last two surviving pre-1940 British home children and our last home child surviving who has served.

George, as I said earlier, was born on September 14, 1923. He celebrated his 100th birthday this September. I wanted to read George’s biography into the record because we are here today to honour our veterans. We’re honouring everyone, but specifically, I wanted to talk about George.

The next veteran I wanted to honour was Frank Davis, WOSA, Victory Branch RCL 317. He goes by Tex. He’s a poem writer, and I would like to read this poem to honour Frank Davis, our veteran:

 

O Canada it makes me proud to stand on guard for thee

When I see a farmer take a break in the shade of a maple tree

Or to see the wheat field’s gentle wave

When kissed by the prairie breeze

To watch the fishing boats return back home to port

With their bounty from the sea

 

Now Newfoundland and Labrador with its rugged coast is something to behold

When the morning sun first rises there

It turns the sky to a hue of gold

 

Now Nova Scotia with its beauty makes us all swell up with pride

To see the Blue Nose sail and walk the Cabot trail

Or watch the Fundy tide

 

You may boast of Prince Edward Island although it’s very small

Just like a jewel upon the sea

It’s there for one and all

 

Now New Brunswick has its pulp and wood industry

That keeps our nation strong

Great salmon streams where fishermen dream

Like the Miramichi and the great St. John

 

Quebec has its beauty and culture of its own

Where seven million francophones are proud to call it home

 

Ontario has its Great Lakes and industries large and small

And scenery that will take your breath away like the famous Niagara Falls

 

Then it’s on to Manitoba, our gateway to the west

And anyone who walks its soil will tell you it’s the best

 

Saskatchewan with its wheat fields and the hungry world to feed

Alberta has cattle, foothills and the great Calgary Stampede

 

British Columbia has its mountains and valleys far and wide

And miles of rugged coast to kiss the Pacific tide

 

The territories has its tundra and herds of caribou

What a great land, with God’s great hand, has made for me and you

 

But our real strength is in our people

That covers this land from sea to sea

I will say again O Canada, I am proud to stand on guard for thee.

 

That was veteran Frank Davis, and he goes by Tex.

These are two very special men in London that I see regularly. I wanted to pay tribute to them under the act of honouring our veterans.

We have all stood here today and talked about how remembering is so important and how our actions reflect our loyalty to remembering our veterans who fought in this war, in many wars. There are still many conflicts, far too many today. We should have learned from the past and not continued these kinds of wars and conflicts that are happening all over the world today.

I just wanted again to thank the member from Whitby for bringing this forward and for all the members who have contributed debate in honouring our veterans and honouring the fact that we will remember them.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Miss Monique Taylor: I’m honoured to be able to stand in this place, in the Ontario Legislature, and to be able to honour our veterans, as we do each and every year, and, now, to have another opportunity I think just makes it that much greater.

I wanted to take this time to really bring the voices of some of my local veterans and folks who work with veterans in my community to the legislative floor today because, as we know, there are definitely serious concerns with veterans’ time and life after war, after serving, the struggles they face, the lack of services that are available to them and the thoughts and ideas that they think would benefit the communities. These ones specifically I know are big volunteers in the community that spend a lot of time with other veterans that work with many organizations locally to support veterans. So, today, I would like to raise their voices and thank them for allowing me the privilege and honour of sharing their voices with all of you today.

Sean states that more municipalities police forces need to adopt the Military Veterans Wellness Program that was started by Aaron Dale of the Toronto Police Service—he said that was definitely something that would help veterans within the police force—and help veterans and families that are transitioning from service to securing a family doctor because there is no road for them to be able to get a family doctor.

We know currently in the province of Ontario that thousands of people are going without a family doctor and so they are asking for a streamline to a family doctor. They need the family doctor to be able to fill out VAC paperwork that requires doctors’ reports and also to get into specific clinics, like the operational stress injury clinics in London or in Toronto. They need family doctors to be able to access those services to help them on their journey to wellness after seeing some of the most horrific situations and scenarios that anyone could possibly imagine. Provincial mental health services have to be a priority for veterans and their families, as well as housing.

Thank you, Sean, for sending me that that.

Lino DiJulio is the founder of the Ruck to Remember. The Ruck to Remember travels across the province to raise awareness and raise funds for other veterans’ groups, and these were his thoughts:

“MAID services available for veterans with only mental health diagnosis is really being received poorly and veterans are concerned that this will result in a spike in veteran suicide that will go unreported. From experience, it’s hard enough counselling a friend that is seriously considering suicide. This would make it even more difficult.”

Another one was: “There’s a lot of good results emerging from PTSD treatment using ketamine. If we’re looking for alternative ways to treat mental health, particularly in veterans and first responders, spending some time and resources in this direction is likely a winning solution.”

Third: “We need to find a way to proactively identify veterans on the streets. Whether that means outreach run by VAC”—which of course is Veterans Affairs—“in combination with calling shelters or some other method. Then get those people in touch with the many resources available and off the streets ASAP. It’s an embarrassment that we have people that served that will be watching us celebrate Remembrance Day from their home because their home is an alley with a good view of the cenotaph.”

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The last one he shared with me: “Recognizing the Military Veterans Wellness Program launched by the Toronto police”—we also heard from Sean that this would be a good one. It’s a “tool that was conceived by two police officers (Aaron Dale and Jeremy Brown) that also served in the CAF, that will help equip police services around the country to deal with vets in crisis.” Some great stuff there—thank you, Lino.

Matt shared his story. He says that he goes and he does his best to speak to schools, and this is his quote: “One year, I spoke to St. Thomas More high school students in Hamilton. I shared how I wasn’t from a military family, so for my whole life I found myself going through the motions of Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day 2008, I was in Afghanistan and we had been called out to disarm a roadside bomb in downtown Kandahar city. When we got back, we were told to clean up and get ready for the camp’s Remembrance Day ceremony. I had complained, saying, wasn’t being in war enough? That’s when my mentor, Corporal Tom Hamilton, reminded me I’m new in the army, but some day this day will mean a lot more to me.

“December 13, 2008, we were called out to disarm another roadside bomb. Unfortunately, this morning, one of our vehicles would hit a roadside bomb. When I had gotten out of my vehicle to go to work on the injured, I came to see one of the bodies was Corporal Tom Hamilton, and he was deceased.

“I finished my speech with the students at St. Thomas More saying that if they were someone going through the motions of Remembrance Day, they now had a fallen soldier they can think of to remember.”

Thank you, Matt, for sharing that with us.

This is from Phil Howie. Phil is the president of the Green Knights motorcycle chapter number 71 in Hamilton. These guys are literally a motorcycle club. They’re veterans, and they wear green. They’ve chosen green because green represented the old green-style uniform that our services had worn in the past. They do exemplary work throughout the community. They’re chapter number 71. They were formed in 2018. They’re a not-for-profit. They’re growing in a positive way with members and supporters. They support multiple charities and give big donations to veterans and first responders, but they also support causes for homelessness, autism, bullying and brain cancer. They have 20 members and many chapters around the world. Some of the groups that they support are Helping Heroes Heal; Corporal4Life; Cracked Armour; Mad Hatter; Ruck for the Homeless; Ruck 2 Remember; Bush Wookie; woundedwarriors.ca; Veterans and Everyday Heroes; Tactical Canuck Battle Group; Chedder Charlie; Boots on the Ground; and CannaConnect. Those are some of the amazing organizations locally that the Green Knights support and fundraise for on a regular basis.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of these local veterans and many more through the process of working on a Homes for Heroes project in the city of Hamilton. I spoke to the previous minister of housing, and he was very willing to have that program come to Hamilton due to the high numbers of homeless veterans on our community streets. Now, this was last year, and at that time—I think the numbers were even a little old at that time—we had 97 identified veterans just in Hamilton alone, and in the Hamilton surrounding area, we had over 300. You heard from Lino that having a program to actually track more veterans was really important, but the Homes for Heroes project would be able to serve that need.

Homes for Heroes began in Alberta, in Calgary. We have a Homes for Heroes in Kingston that is new, and I’m not sure how far it is in. I have to get an update on that because I’m quite excited about it. We really, truly need that Homes for Heroes in Hamilton. The unfortunate part is that we need land. We need an acre of land to be able to fit that need. There was a property that I thought was a perfect fit; it was ministry-zoned and, I believe, was in the middle of a purchase for long-term care, but it’s 9.3 hectares of land—

Ms. Sandy Shaw: It’s not sold yet?

Miss Monique Taylor: It’s not sold yet. I was talking to Minister Surma about that property and about other properties. We all know that we can work together across the aisle to ensure that we have a Homes for Heroes project in the city of Hamilton, and I have boots on the ground ready to do the work. I can tell you, there are so many amazing people who I have met through this process, and other people—our current mayor; our former mayor—everyone is just looking together to find that perfect piece of property that has the accessible transit, that is part of the community, but yet still has its own space to really build a Homes for Heroes community that not only suits the Hamilton fabric, but shines in the light of what we can do to protect and serve our veterans who have so graciously served us.

I also want to give a shout-out to my own Legion, Legion 163, and the wonderful work that they do there. They’re also part of the Homes for Heroes project. Everybody is on board for this, just waiting for that opportunity to be able to move forward. Shirley Beaton and her entire executive, and the work that they do at our Legion—I’m eternally grateful for their friendship and their support, and the work that we’ve been able to do together. I look forward to the work that we continue to do.

Speaker, to complete my words today, I would just like to reflect and give gratitude to all those who have served, who are serving, and their families and communities who have shared them with us. I pay my respects to our veterans, to those who have been injured in the line of duty, and to all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Your courage to stand up for democracy, to build peace and to allow Canadians to live in freedom will never be forgotten. Lest we forget.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Mr. Tom Rakocevic: It’s truly an honour to rise to speak to this bill. We don’t often agree on everything here, but this is definitely something we can all agree on. I thank the member for Whitby for putting forth a noble bill, an honourable bill and a bill that’s the right thing to do.

We, thanks to this bill, will be observing two minutes of silence before Remembrance Day, and we will, in addition, be given opportunities to speak about it. Why do I think this is so important? Why do I think that this is necessary here? While generals determine the details of battle, for the most part it is politicians who send our sons and daughters to war—perhaps not in the provincial Parliaments, but certainly in the federal one—so it is we as politicians, perhaps above all, who should reflect on what that means and what has been lost.

We remember that once a year on November 11, but how much do we truly understand and think about it? How much time do we spend thinking about those who have paid with their lives for us to have our own? When you think about it, for the most part, we have been insulated from the horrors that exist in so many places because of those sacrifices that were made on our behalf.

Veterans who are out there, struggling to this day financially, physically, emotionally and mentally from what they experienced, from what they have seen: For the most part, do we honour them enough? This honours them more, and there’s so much more that we can do. This is definitely something we will all support.

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I wanted to share a little bit of my personal reflections on it because, as was stated by another member, we are all touched by this in some way, shape or form—those here in the chamber who have served, those who have family members who have served or are serving. I’m sure each and every one of us has a family member.

As a relatively new, but not young, father, I often look at my sons, my five-year-old and two-year-old sons, and I try to put myself in their minds as they grow, as they evolve, as they get smarter and wiser, and hearing that this was to be debated here on the floor, I tried to remember my own thoughts and recollections about what Remembrance Day meant as a child.

I remember being ushered into the gym on Remembrance Day with all the other students. I remember observing a moment of silence, but unlike any other times we were brought to that gym and asked to be quiet, there was a different silence on Remembrance Day. There were higher expectations of us to be respectful and to be honourable. As a child, I didn’t fully understand it, but I could feel that weight. Our teachers would sometimes show us a video. We would hear the trumpet. I remember when we had that moment of silence, and even as a child, there was something in those notes that struck. I could not understand it at that time, but there was a depth of sorrow to it that, as a child, I could just start in the smallest fraction to grasp.

It touched all of us. My own grandfather on my father’s side died, my father told me, fighting on the Allied side in World War II, leaving my father’s mother a widow, leaving my father and his siblings as orphans. We don’t even know where or how it happened. My late father served. He died when I was a young man and he didn’t share his experiences or what he went through, so I’ll never know. My mother told me that a distant cousin, family of ours, had three sons who all died in the bombing of Pearl Harbour. As a child, I heard these stories and they had an impact, but only as I got older and older did it start to hit home a little more.

I speak about the freedom that we have because what we experienced as young people growing up—and sure, we faced challenges, but so much of the challenges we experience, we experience second-hand in our pop culture. As children, you’re almost groomed—as a little boy, all my toys fought each other. I didn’t know what it meant. As I got older, I was attracted to the action movies, but they always sensationalized and glorified things I didn’t understand. It wasn’t until my teenaged years, as I was instructed to read certain books and some films began to come out showing the real horrors of what people were facing, that I started to think a little more and grasp it.

Why do I bring this up here in the House? Because I don’t think we reflect on this enough. Perhaps some of us do; I can’t put words in the mouths of others. But as a society, there are moments when we think about our veterans, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, those who never came back. They paid for us with their lives. We don’t do it enough.

Above all, as politicians in this House, we must understand it, because the decisions we make affect the lives of those veterans, of those soldiers we send off to war and the rest of their lives. We must make these decisions with knowledge, and we must do everything we can to make others in society and certainly here understand what that means. Lest we forget.

So, may God bless the veterans, their families, all those who have fought, died and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that I and my children can live in the relative safety that we have in this great nation.

I thank the member for Whitby for bringing this forward so we could debate it and respect our veterans. I thank the government for calling this bill to third reading and bringing this to pass. It is the right thing to do. It is necessary. God bless our veterans.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

MPP Lise Vaugeois: I would like to begin by thanking the member from Whitby, who brought this bill forward. I think it’s very important that we will be taking an additional moment of silence next week before the Legislature breaks up.

I also want to say how important it’s been to have this debate, because it’s an opportunity to learn. We’ve heard from many people who have had, I will say, much more direct experience than I have had, and I’m learning from this, and I appreciate that opportunity, so I thank the member also for providing that opportunity.

My uncle, who would have been 98 if he were still alive, served in the Second World War, but when he came back, he wouldn’t talk about it at all. We heard the member from Guelph make a similar reference earlier.

I know that my mother missed him enormously, that that was one of the effects of people going away to war, the people left behind. He came back alive, but she has never stopped talking about how much she missed having her older brother with her in a formative time in her life. And she still talks about how much she misses him and how important he was. I learned nothing, really, about his experience and just learned a little bit from her.

So then I think about the importance of the teaching that happens in schools. And I will say, I did not learn that much in my time in school—not enough that it really made a deep impression on me. But, over time, I have come to understand and respect and feel the need and the importance of honouring the people who have gone to war on our behalf.

And I think also of how important the work is that is being done in schools, and I do see it happening in schools. I know of school classes that write letters to veterans, for example. It is a way, again, to bring some reality to a day that perhaps the children don’t have direct experience of. Now, there are many refugee children in our schools, and they do have direct experience.

In my role as MPP, I have had the opportunity to meet veterans and also to meet Indigenous veterans throughout the community. Those Indigenous veterans are still very much leaders in their communities, and I want to thank them for their service—something that wasn’t really acknowledged at the time. They were left out of the benefits that were provided to other veterans when they came back. So I must say, I’m even more grateful for the work that those veterans are doing in their communities because they continue to serve in spite of not having received the kind of acknowledgement that they should have.

I also want to acknowledge that there have been recent deaths, and there was a recent death in the last few years of somebody who grew up in Thunder Bay. His name is Anthony Joseph Boneca. He was a reservist from the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment, which is based in Thunder Bay. At the age of 21, he was killed in a fire fight in Afghanistan. I know that people in the community mourned his loss deeply, and I also know that, in a sad way, his death brought home the work of people who go to fight on our behalf and made it real.

I’ve also walked into Superior View high school—I was actually there to look at their tech school, what’s going on there. I walked into a room and discovered photographs all around the room of young men just barely older than these high school students, and these were all men from Thunder Bay and the region who signed up. It was, again, a very moving moment to look at those pictures and realize that many of them did not come home—but that they were there for the students also, to make that connection, and make that connection real, so that they could understand on a deeper level the ceremonies that we attend, but to take it beyond the ceremony to some understanding.

I will just close by acknowledging the work of the Legions. I think we have at least four in Thunder Bay, and those Legions are places where men and women work together. They provide a safe social space, they do charity work, they do fundraising, they have a good time, but it’s all volunteer work and it also creates the safe space for people to be veterans.

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I must say, it was another lesson for me—walking in with my ball cap on and learning that’s disrespectful. Being asked to take off that cap is always a reminder of the seriousness of where we are.

There are three ceremonies that take place in Thunder Bay. One at the Waverley monument, and it’s a beautiful ceremony; there’s one at Fort William Gardens, also a beautiful ceremony; and one in Fort William reserve, on Anemki Wajiw, which is the name of the mountain, and that is also a very special ceremony. In each case, there are pipes and drummers, and there will be a trumpet playing.

I appreciate everything that people do. Without the Legions, we would not have these ceremonies; they organize everything, so I want to pay tribute to them, as well.

Thank you again to the member. I know that we all support this bill and thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Mr. John Vanthof: It’s always an honour to speak in the House. I’d like to thank the member from Whitby for bringing forward this bill. I’d like to take a couple of minutes.

As someone of Dutch descent, my father grew up in Holland during World War II, and when the Nazis invaded and conquered, they were conquered. When the Allies came, as a young man, he thought they were conquerors—that they would come and do the same thing that the Nazis did. The Canadians came and liberated and went home. And that’s actually the reason I’m here today: because my father emigrated from Holland because he thought that people who come and liberate and go home must come from the greatest country in the world—and he was right. So people of Dutch descent owe a huge debt to Canadians in World War II.

But what I really want to mention, just for a second—we all have connections. And I don’t have a personal connection, but when you come over in my riding, you come over the hill at Temiskaming Shores and—it’s one of the most beautiful sites in Ontario, in my opinion—you come through two or three hours of Canadian Shield and you’ll come over a hill and there’s a huge agricultural valley there. On the right side of the highway, there’s a lookout, a park. I often go there, but especially when I drive by there—and if you ever go there, I urge you to go look and just ponder at that park, because that park—one of the first things that I was involved in as an MPP was that the Ministry of Transportation renamed that park in honour of Sergeant Martin Goudreault.

Sergeant Goudreault was just 35 when he was killed in action in the Panjwayi district of Afghanistan on June 6, 2010. It was his third tour of duty in Afghanistan; he was a 15-year veteran of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment and First Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. He continued the proud tradition of going to a place and trying to help as a Canadian, and he gave his life for it—on our behalf, and on their behalf, as so many others have done. It’s been an honour for me to recognize him in this House.

I’d like to thank the member from Whitby for giving me this opportunity. On all our behalves, I thank the veterans who, on all our behalves, defend democracy.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate? Further debate?

Mr. Coe has moved third reading of Bill 65, An Act to amend the Remembrance Week Act, 2016. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

Third reading agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Orders of the day? The member for Chatham-Kent–Leamington.

Mr. Trevor Jones: On a point of order: Speaker, if you seek it, you’ll find unanimous consent to see the clock at 6.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Do we have unanimous consent to see the clock at 6? Agreed.

Private Members’ Public Business

Affordable housing

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: I move that, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should establish and fund a new public agency called Homes Ontario to finance and build 250,000 new affordable and non-market homes on public land over 10 years, to be operated and/or constructed by public, non-profit or co-op housing providers.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Mr. Kernaghan has moved private member’s notice of motion number 65. Pursuant to standing order 100, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: It’s my honour to move this motion here today to show the Ontario NDP’s values. Our values are deeply rooted in the provision of truly affordable housing. As I discuss Homes Ontario today, I’m going to touch upon the foundational or fundamental aspects of housing, the economic development benefits of housing, as well as the responsibility of government to provide that truly affordable housing for the people of Ontario.

If we look towards the history, government was once an integral part of building the vital housing that we need. Following World War II, a crown corporation known as Wartime Housing Ltd. successfully built and managed thousands of units for returning veterans. It was the right thing to do, Speaker. Canada built 1.5 million of these homes for heroes between 1943 and 1960 on government land for moderate-income households. This is equivalent to six million homes today.

Between 1973 and 1994, Canada built or acquired around 16,000 units, 16,000 non-profit or co-operative homes, every year—Speaker, 16,000 every single year. Since the mid-1990s, though, federal and provincial governments’ housing policies have moved away from this and towards the private, for-profit market to deliver the new housing that people need.

This government and governments prior have created a housing crisis. Both private developers and non-profit providers have noted that without access to free land, creating new rental housing is increasingly difficult due to high development costs, and creating that truly affordable housing is next to impossible. Thus, the private sector hasn’t built the types of housing that people truly require. They haven’t built enough affordable housing, supportive housing or purpose-built rental housing to meet Ontario’s housing needs. This is the government’s responsibility.

In terms of the motion itself, establishing a new public agency, Homes Ontario, to finance and build 250,000 new affordable and non-market homes would ensure an adequate supply of rental homes meeting the needs of low- to moderate-income families, and it would be at all stages of life, from couples to young families to seniors. These homes would be operated by public, non-profit or co-op housing providers and permanently protected from the speculation and financialization of the private market.

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Nobody needs to say it again, but we are in a housing crisis, Speaker, and we’re not going to get out unless we have big ideas. On this side of the House, we’re proposing a massive expansion of new homes for Ontario by undoing decades of bad policy and getting the government back in the business of building housing.

The backroom deals and rampant land speculation this government has been partaking in are setting Ontario back. Housing starts are going down. We are going in the wrong direction. So here with the Ontario NDP, we are calling for a new approach with Homes Ontario, where public land and resources are unlocked for the creation of new homes that people can actually afford.

Everyone in Ontario has a right to safe and affordable housing, to live in the community they want to live in. If we look towards the foundational and fundamental principles of housing itself, we know that without housing, little else matters. Housing is even more than shelter. When we help low-income households access the housing they need, we’re doing more than putting a roof over people’s heads. We’re building a foundation for broader social and economic success for so many families.

The Canadian Paediatric Society has warned that living in housing need can negatively affect all aspects of child and youth physical, mental, developmental and social health. By depriving children of a quiet place to study, to read and to do homework, crowded living conditions compromise their educational success. When insecure housing leads to those frequent moves, children’s readiness for school and the continuity of their education and academic performance are hurt, with long-term consequences for future employment and earnings. Teachers are saying to students, “Read. Do your homework. Concentrate.” How can that happen when there is that instability for housing? It’s impossible, Speaker.

A CMHC-funded study, a survey of Habitat for Humanity families, found that participants reported across-the-board improvements for their children’s well-being and school performance since obtaining their homes. Good housing doesn’t take the place of other ingredients for success, but it demonstrably does provide the stability from which to leverage for better outcomes. Its absence makes it that much harder for vulnerable Canadians to get ahead.

I ask my colleagues on the government side of the House to picture the people of Ontario. When I’m out in my community, I meet young families who want to grow but don’t have the space. I meet brilliant young people who are living out of their parents’ basements with no path out of it. I talk to young people who are looking to pursue their post-secondary education or graduate studies, but their future is impacted by the place that they can afford, not the program of study they want to go into or the educational institution that they want to pursue. I think of all the seniors who are in places that don’t suit their needs, that, quite frankly, might be dangerous, but are trapped.

Speaker, we need to ask ourselves, why does this kind of housing matter? Housing doesn’t just keep us safe and warm; it gives us a sense of mental, physical and financial stability that cannot be understated. Stable housing changes everything. When people have stable housing, they can raise a family. They can retire. They can have something to leave behind. Secure housing impacts families for generations. A good place to call home is a source of dignity with benefits that radiate out to a family, a community and an incredible place like Ontario in a great country like ours.

If we look towards the economic development benefits, housing also matters at a microeconomic level: to individual families and households. But this government seems to fail to understand that it also matters at the macroeconomic level: to our broader economic and financial stability. When people are in suitable housing and are not spending tremendous amounts on that housing, that money is spent within their communities. It has tremendous community benefits.

Too often, we see the reliance on the for-profit market. We see these real estate investment trusts. Where does that money go, Speaker? Largely, it leaves Ontario. It leaves Canada.

A strong housing sector supports an incredibly robust economy. It creates jobs in the construction and renovation sector, and generates spinoff benefits in related industries. The construction industry alone contributed 7.7% to Ontario’s GDP in 2021. Public development supports the generation of good, reliable jobs for the people of Ontario. Developing just one affordable housing unit generates two new jobs. These residential construction jobs are overwhelmingly local and support the economies we want to build. Housing security and housing markets play an important role in supporting social and economic stability, but this depends on ensuring housing affordability and ensuring stable, secure housing—both rental and ownership.

The government has a responsibility. We know that we’re in a crisis. What we require is a wartime effort. This government has an opportunity here today to vote for a motion where they would get back into the business of creating truly affordable housing for the people of Ontario—not sitting in the back seat, not waiting for somebody else to do the heavy lifting, but doing it themselves.

To a government that has been mired in terrible scandals, whether it was the greenbelt grab or the expansion of cities’ urban boundaries—this is an opportunity for you. This is an opportunity for you to vote for something that will create a lasting legacy for the people of Ontario.

Think back to that post-World War II era, when all of those homes were built—this government could do the same; this government should do the same. There are benefits to this in a huge way.

So to all those young families who are hoping to grow; to all the young adults who are living in their parents’ basements; to all of the parents of those young adults who want to see their child succeed; to all of the young professionals who are choosing where to pursue their dream, where to pursue employment; to the young people who are pursuing post-secondary education and choosing their institution based on the financial aspects; but also to all the seniors who are downsizing, and the empty nesters: We here on the Ontario NDP side of this House—we hear you. We see you. We understand that this government has a role. We understand that this government has a responsibility. We know that this government can get back into the business of building housing.

I think, as well, to what happened in the mid-1990s, when many of these programs were cut. I look back to 1995, when the Ontario government implemented a number of disastrous housing policies. They decreased the availability of affordable rental housing. They cut legal protections for tenants. They cut social assistance rates, including shelter allowances, by 21.6%. And if that wasn’t bad enough, 17,000 units of co-op and non-profit housing that were under development were also scrapped.

To this government: You have an opportunity to create. You have an opportunity to build. You have an opportunity to listen to the voices of all of the people across Ontario who are saying that the private market is not doing enough.

Also, on this side of the House—I don’t want to criticize the private market. They have an incredible role. They do great work, but they have also said that they can’t do it alone. It is an expectation and it is a burden that this government is simply shifting their responsibility for. You can’t expect that a for-profit industry is going to create the types of housing that people need. That is the government’s responsibility. That is the government’s lookout.

Listen to the people of Ontario. Listen to what people need. Listen to people across the housing spectrum. Get back into the business of housing, and make sure that people can build a safe life, have a safe future, and pass that future prosperity on for generations to come. You can do it with Homes Ontario, and you can do it today.

Please vote for my motion.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Mr. Matthew Rae: I want to thank the member from London North Centre for his motion.

Speaker, the member means well, but it’s disappointing to see the NDP lose faith in the people of Ontario. They don’t trust Ontarians anymore—if they ever did.

On many occasions, many of us in this House have risen to speak about our unique stories and those of our families immigrating to Ontario and starting their lives in Ontario from scratch. Those are inspiring stories. They speak to the courage and ambition of the Ontarians that have built this province and continue to build our communities.

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Despite hearing all these stories on several occasions here in this chamber, the NDP still has no faith, no trust and no belief in the people of Ontario. They think that they can do everything better than their constituents can do. They’re dead wrong, and they don’t even see it. When they held government, they couldn’t build anything. Under that party, Ontario lost jobs, lost businesses, and it lost homes too. And they were so happy about that, that they lost homes—

Interjections.

Mr. Matthew Rae: They’re happy about losing homes, everyone.

When we finally changed governments, this party still did everything they could do to partner with the Liberals to make sure Ontarians lost even more jobs, businesses and homes. And by 2018, Ontarians saw through it all. Look at how many of them are sitting here today, Speaker. Ontarians have said enough is enough. They don’t need the government to give them handouts; they just need a government that believes in them, that believes in their ability to start a family, work in a rewarding job and to start a business.

Speaker, we’re not in the business of taking power away from the people; we’re for the people on this side of the House. And I’m proud that our leader and our Premier has made a point of emphasizing that principle over and over, at every step of his years of service.

And I appreciate that the NDP is finally showing their true colours. They don’t like free enterprise. They don’t like new businesses in Ontario. They don’t like new hospitals or new long-term-care beds. They don’t like new homes. Speaker, they didn’t even like those things under Bob Rae. They didn’t like them when they propped up the Liberal government, and they’re making it crystal clear now, by voting against each and every one of our own government’s initiatives, that they don’t like them now. Speaker—

Interjections.

Mr. Matthew Rae: They can heckle me all they want.

The NDP wants to take over the business of housing in Ontario. They want to ensure 30% of all new housing—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I’m going to interrupt the member; sorry. Stop the clock for a second, please.

I can hear the member because he’s speaking loud enough, but there is a lot of distraction coming from this side. I would like to be able to listen peacefully to the member who has the floor, so I will thank you for keeping the order until we’re done today. Thank you very much.

The member for Perth–Wellington has the floor. You can continue. Start the clock.

Mr. Matthew Rae: Thank you, Speaker.

Or in other words, they want to encroach on free enterprise in this province, one of the most cherished freedoms that we have in this country, to destroy the integrity of the free market and fundamentally to instead replace it with a province where property is publicly owned. Speaker, they’re advocating for the elimination of private property in this province, and do you know what Webster dictionary defines that as? Communism. And the NDP values—he got up and mentioned NDP values. It’s socialism, right here in this House. He just said it in his speech.

The NDP thinks that not only do we need to shut down the free market, but they also say they will just take $15 billion—just $15 billion—of Ontario taxpayers’ money. Housing experts say it is going to cost $100 billion to build 250,000 homes. Who are they going to tax to get that, Speaker? Are they going to tax the hard-working family that puts gas in their car? I know they support the carbon tax federally. Are they going to tax small businesses to meet that?

Speaker, I’d ask the member from London North Centre how many constituents he has who themselves or their families chose to immigrate to Canada because of restrictive socialist policies in countries like the former Soviet Union, Venezuela or China or a number of other countries who have experimented with this disastrous policy throughout recent history. I would also ask those constituents—and, frankly, I’d ask any Ontarian whose family has fled their nation of origin for this very reason—what they think of this bill.

Under the Liberals and NDP, who starved Ontario’s economy for 15 years, thousands of jobs left this province and thousands of people left with them. They came after the auto sector, they came after the energy sector, and now they’re coming after the housing sector. What industry do they want to kill next? Who else do they want to lay off? Thankfully, Ontarians see right through the NDP’s socialist agenda. They’ve seen it before, and many of them even escaped it to come here, Speaker. We won’t let them go through the pain and hurt of that again.

Our government knows that the main reason behind the housing crisis is critically low housing supply, with more than 95% of the homes being built in Ontario by Ontarians employed in the private sector. Many of these private companies build non-profit housing. They work with great housing providers like Habitat for Humanity and build non-profit housing. They take time out of their day to build that, Speaker. They don’t need bureaucrats in downtown Toronto telling them what they need in their community.

Our government increased the Homelessness Prevention Program by an additional $20 million. We now provide $700 million to our service providers for homelessness prevention programs across the province. I know that, locally, my housing service providers appreciated that because they know what is best for their communities. They don’t need bureaucrats. Speaker, we have great bureaucrats that work for us in the civil service, but I don’t know one that builds housing. None of them build housing. Bureaucrats do not build housing. The non-profit sector and the private sector build housing in this province.

Unlike the NDP, our government knows there’s only one taxpayer in Ontario, and at a time when Ontarians are already struggling with the rising cost of living, we will never support increased fees or costly policies that would put more financial strain on hard-working families. We’re fully committed to working with the private sector and the non-profit sector to incentivize getting shovels in the ground faster and allowing families and individuals right across this province to live in the home of their dreams.

Speaker, I am pleased to say that from January to August 2023, this year, we have seen a 3% increase in housing starts from 2022—which was a record in 30 years. This year again, the same months, January to August 2023, we’ve seen a 49% increase in the number of purpose-built rental starts—a 49% increase from the historic increase last year.

We need people to build these homes, Speaker. Apprentice registrations this year have increased by 24%. Our Minister of Education’s making reforms to ensure that young people who want to enter the skilled trades can enter more quickly, because we know that in the construction sector alone, 72,000 new workers are needed by 2027. These are the individuals who will build the homes for our growing population.

The member across the way talked about seniors, whether it’s downsizing or having a home to call their own or staying in the community that they helped build. I have a very good example from my own riding.

There was a development proposed down the street from where I live in the riding for seniors’ retirement living—designed for seniors so they could stay in the community they helped build, move out of their bigger houses, so those houses can go on the market and new families can move into them. Speaker, do you know what happened? NIMBYs prevented that development. They sent it to the Ontario Land Tribunal—one appeal, which held it up for years. It cost the home builder an extra $1 million in costs. The development still hasn’t started because of the extra cost. So these units aren’t on the market for people to stay in their own community, stay where they were, stay where their family is and stay where their grandchildren are.

I was proud to be part of a government that changed that. Our government reformed the Ontario Land Tribunal and the appeals process around that.

Interjections.

Mr. Matthew Rae: We reformed that. So, to the members opposite who heckle me and stand with the NIMBYs, we will get that built. When that application comes up again, that will be built, and I am proud that in my community we’ll see that built, because I want to ensure people who helped build our communities across rural Ontario and across Ontario in general can stay in those communities.

Speaker—

Interjections.

Mr. Matthew Rae: I’ll remind you all you want. The Speaker is here.

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In the same spirit, we’ll stop at nothing, on this side of the House, to protect the hard-working people of Ontario who get up in the morning to help build this great province. We’ll continue to work for the hard-working people of Ontario that the NDP socialists don’t want to see rewarded—their job-killing agenda, their killing of the free enterprise that has contributed so much to this great province.

I know members on this side of the House and the majority over there will continue to stand for free enterprise and will continue to work—

Interjections.

Mr. Matthew Rae: Thank you—with all housing providers, whether that is co-op, non-profit, and, yes, the private sector. I know, when we all work together with our communities, we can achieve great things, because this is the province of Ontario—and I still believe in the Canadian and Ontario dream.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Mr. Chris Glover: I want to reintroduce the House to reality here.

I want to thank the member from London North Centre for bringing forward this bill to create a Homes Ontario agency to actually build housing. The solution to our housing crisis is to build 250,000 units of affordable housing as well as the 1.5 million units of housing that we need to address the supply.

This government believes that the market will solve the problem. While they give the market a little bit of money—they actually gave $5 billion in development charges that they downloaded the cost of onto municipal taxpayers. They also have flown all the way to Las Vegas and made deals on massage tables, to try to build housing. And the result? Housing starts are down in Ontario.

And not only are housing starts down, but when I talk to people in my riding, tech companies—I’m the tech and innovation critic. When I talk to tech companies, they say the biggest competitive disadvantage we have in Ontario is housing costs, because talent want to come to Ontario, but they can’t afford to live here. So we need affordable housing. Speaker, 100,000 people—mainly young people—are leaving this province every year because of housing costs.

The other result of this government’s policies—we have tent encampments in every community across this province. The nickname for them is Fordtown. We have Fordtowns everywhere. When you travel to any city in this province, you’ve got tent encampments. That’s this government’s solution to housing.

But what the NDP want to do is to leverage public land to build not-for-profit housing. We want to build on the Ontario Line stations, like the one in my riding. The government is going to be building condos on top of them. We’re asking that 30% of those condos be affordable. This government is not mentioning anything about affordable housing being built above the Ontario Line stations.

In my riding, we’ve got 18 co-ops, 10 TCHC housing units; we’ve got supportive housing run by agencies like Evangel Hall—all of them date back at least 25 years, because since the Conservatives and the Liberals have been in power in the last 25 years, they have refused to build housing. So we need to build affordable housing in this province.

The housing crisis was created by government policies of the Conservative and Liberal governments, and it can be solved by government policy—like the one brought forward by the NDP today.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: We are experiencing a major affordability crisis, and a big part of it is the housing crisis. We have a record number of people who are unhoused and sleeping on our streets. We are seeing record evictions.

We’re seeing rising mortgage payments. We’re hearing of terms like “negative amortization period,” which I had never heard before—where payments don’t even cover the interest portion, and the remaining unpaid interest is added to the principal amount owing. Imagine that: making payments but owing more. We’re also seeing longer amortization periods—90 years. Imagine that: a lifetime of paying for your home, only to end up not owning it.

We are seeing generations of people feeling like their dream of owning a home is just that: a dream.

We need to build more housing. The Conservative government’s own Housing Affordability Task Force has said we need 1.5 million homes in the next 10 years. Speaker, I want to be very clear: The housing crisis we’re facing right now is both a supply crisis and an affordability crisis. I have always said that the affordable housing crisis is of such a massive scale that if we’re truly going to address the crisis in a meaningful way, the response must be of a similar scale. The scale of the response must meet the scale of the problem.

We need to build more housing, but we also need to build different kinds of housing, because people’s housing needs are different. After World War II, there was a huge need for affordable housing in Canada, especially as veterans were returning home and the population was growing, and then there was the realization that the private market alone was not going to build the kind of housing that was needed for people who were of low and moderate incomes, because it wasn’t profitable. That’s why the CMHC, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., was created with a mandate to improve housing access for everyone.

Shamefully, the federal government—both under Conservatives and Liberals—abandoned that responsibility, and in Ontario, the Harris government abandoned that responsibility. In the 15 years of Liberal government since, they did not reverse course. This is among the many Harris policies that the Liberals maintained.

And here’s the thing: Private developers have said that they alone cannot solve the housing crisis, and yet the Ford Conservative government is leaving it only to private developers to meet the demand and the need. What the NDP is proposing through this motion is that governments resume their responsibility of building non-market, deeply affordable housing based on people’s needs—housing that the market won’t build. We can do that by establishing a new public agency, Homes Ontario. Let’s get it done.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Ms. Chandra Pasma: I’m pleased to rise on behalf of the residents of Ottawa West–Nepean to speak in favour of this excellent motion tabled by the member for London North Centre calling for the government to create and fund a public housing agency called Homes Ontario to finance and build 250,000 new affordable and non-market homes on public land over 10 years.

We are in a housing crisis, one that the government’s actions have only been making worse. While they’ve been focused on enriching wealthy land speculators, housing starts were down 18% in the first half of this year in Ottawa. In fact, we saw the lowest number of freehold housing starts in 25 years this year.

The government’s reliance on private developers and market incentives is just not getting the job done, Speaker, and it’s the people of Ontario who are paying the price. Rent is up 11% again this year. A one-bedroom apartment is now going for $2,055 in Ottawa. I hear daily from constituents who cannot find an affordable place to live, and so, so many stories of tenants whose landlords are squeezing them with above-guideline rent increases or trying to force them out so that they can jack up the rent on the next tenant. In one of the most egregious cases, Speaker, an apartment with high turnover because the landlord is refusing to address safety concerns saw rent go from $1,400 a month to $1,900 a month to $2,600 a month, all in the space of six months, earlier this year. This is not sustainable. The people of Ontario cannot afford this.

That’s not even to speak about the many people who have been priced out of our housing market entirely. Ottawa has 535 permanent shelter beds, Speaker, and yet that’s not nearly enough to meet the need. We have people living in hotels and temporary shelters, in some cases for years. We have people sleeping rough in our streets and our parks.

A big crisis requires a big idea to fix, Speaker. It’s time that we start marshalling all the resources that we have at hand to get the government back into the business of building homes and supporting deeply affordable housing, to use public land for homes, not for profit. If access to a home in Ontario depends entirely on someone making a profit, then many people will simply never get a home that meets their needs. So to the government: Please stop focusing on the profits of a few wealthy developers who are friends with your Premier and get to work making sure that everyone in Ontario has an affordable place to call home.

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The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

MPP Lise Vaugeois: I want to thank the member, our NDP member, for bringing forward this motion to create and fund a public housing agency called Homes Ontario to finance and build 250,000 affordable and non-market homes on public land over 10 years.

It’s really important to recognize that in many municipalities in my region of northwestern Ontario—I warrant this applies in eastern Ontario as well—it is not profitable to build housing. It’s extremely expensive to build housing because of the distances. You might be able to build in Thunder Bay, but you cannot build in the communities along the north shore, nor can you afford to build in the communities on Highway 11, because the cost of transporting the materials, of bringing in the workers, is so high it’s prohibitive, and they’re not getting housing. That’s merely a thing of ignorance, I think, that’s not there, that’s not recognized, that it’s not going to happen without support.

Now, we’re supposed to have a Building Faster Fund, and a portion of that fund was supposed to be allocated to single- and lower-tier municipalities that have not been assigned a housing target, including small rural and northern communities, in order to address their unique needs following municipal consultations. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting. Where is that fund? How much is it going to be? What’s the criteria? What are the deadlines? Municipalities are desperately waiting for that.

But in the meantime, Ontario has announced the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund. And guess what? No increases: It was reduced in 2020. It’s at the same amount now. But interestingly, eight years ago, the Conservative government was complaining about how unfair it was that this fund had been cut. So not only did they not increase it, they cut it, and then it’s at the same amount, and it’s simply not enough for municipalities to do anything. They just cannot do the work that they want to do. I have municipalities coming to me saying they want to build housing for seniors, supportive housing. There is no money for that. If they could, they could move seniors into those supportive places. There would be more housing available in the communities. They know jobs are coming to those communities; there’s nowhere to put them. There’s nowhere to put health care professionals. We’ve been hearing this for a very long time.

I just want to refer to something that apparently puts the fear of God into members on the other side of the floor, and that is to talk about co-operatives. Some 45 years—

Interjection.

MPP Lise Vaugeois: Yes, yes, it’s a very, very frightening thing: co-operatives.

Some 45 years ago in Thunder Bay, a need was recognized for affordable housing. Decent affordable housing was in short supply. As they noted, this was the case in 2002. Guess what? It’s still the case in 2023. This has been incredibly successful. It is still beautiful. This is 45 years ago. There’s a five-year waiting list to get into this co-op. We have a second co-op in the neighbourhood. People love living there. They have real communities. It’s a successful model. Frankly I’m surprised that people on the other side of the House have no concept of how successful those models can be.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: It’s a pleasure to always debate housing in this House because we have a housing crisis. I just want to say to those who are watching and to my colleagues on all sides of the House, solving this crisis is going to require the private sector to be engaged in market housing to build the homes we need, and it’s going to require the government to partner with non-profit and co-op housing to build deeply affordable homes.

When we were most successful in Canada in building homes that people could actually afford to own and rent, we had a mix of for-profit and non-profit market and non-market actors engaged in the housing market. Market supply—that’s why I put forward bills to end exclusionary zoning and to make it easier for builders to build homes that people can actually afford in the communities they want to live in, on land already approved for development.

Speaker, we also have to acknowledge that, up until 1995, about 20,000 homes a year in Canada were non-profit, co-op and social housing—deeply affordable homes. That’s exactly why 93% of the deeply affordable rental homes in this province were built before 1995.

Now, the federal government got out of housing in 1995, and the provincial government got out of housing in 1995. The crisis has been getting worse ever since, and now we’re at a breaking point. A new report has shown that we would need a drop in housing prices of more than $500,000 on average for the average millennial to afford a home. It takes 22 years for the typical young person to be able to save enough money for a down payment to buy a home. To afford rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto on minimum wage, you would have to work 80 hours a week. I look at my own riding, in Guelph. The average one-bedroom apartment now is well over $2,000. And so the market is going to solve a lot of our challenges, but it’s not going to solve all of them.

While I don’t know if the numbers add up of what’s been proposed here—but I can tell you, the sentiment of having government re-engaged in non-profit, co-op and social housing is absolutely vital if we’re truly going to build enough deeply affordable homes for people.

And I also want to say that supporting co-op housing is about putting a roof over somebody’s head, but it’s more than that; it’s about building community. It’s about having democratic control over the place where you live. I’d love it. Fife Road co-op in my riding every year invites me to their holiday parties and their summer barbecues, where it’s an opportunity to build an inclusive community of people who are struggling to be able to find an affordable place to call home, who have an affordable place to call home because back before 1995, government was involved in helping build deeply affordable housing.

So it’s going to take non-market and non-profit solutions. The government is going to have to be involved in supporting non-profit co-op and, I would add, permanent supporting housing, with wraparound mental health, addictions, employment and other supports for people, because some people have acute needs. They’re going to need not only a roof on their head, but they’re also going to need those supports on-site to help them maintain their housing. And we will save money, because it will actually take pressure off our health care system. One of the largest drivers, one of the biggest reasons poverty costs our province $33 billion a year, is because the intersection of homelessness, mental health, addictions and poverty puts so much pressure on our health care system.

Finally, Speaker, I want to say that when we build these homes, we have to make sure these homes are energy-efficient, not only to help address the climate crisis but to also help address people’s bills each and every month to heat and cool their homes. I want to tell you about a project that I’m working with in my riding with Habitat for Humanity that will build 70 affordable homes for people with an array of solar panels on them that will save them $62,000 a year in utility costs. We can do this if we have the will to do it.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Going back to the member for London North Centre, with two minutes to reply.

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: I would like to thank the members from Spadina–Fort York, Parkdale–High Park, Ottawa West–Nepean, Thunder Bay–Superior North, Perth–Wellington as well as Guelph for their comments on this motion here today.

The NDP is the party of housing. We built the most significant amount of affordable housing, supportive housing and co-op housing of any government and have never been beaten at that.

Here on the official opposition side, we believe in listening to the experts. We believe in helping non-profits and co-ops and non-profit housing providers to do what they’re good at. This government would much rather prioritize a for-profit market. As I said, there’s nothing wrong with the for-profit market, despite the misunderstanding across the way, but we have to look at all different aspects of the housing spectrum.

I also want to turn to the greatest generation, the people who fought in World War II. They, because of the housing that was provided for them by the Bill Davis government, gave rise to the baby boom generation, which had incredible economic benefits the likes of which we have never seen before. I am shuddering to think that the member from Perth–Wellington would call Bill Davis, who created a tremendous amount of housing, a raging socialist.

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I also want to thank the member from Spadina–Fort York for mentioning the $5 billion this government is content to hand over in development charges, but I want this government to think about this as an opportunity. They have an opportunity to listen to the non-profit and co-op housing providers. They have an opportunity to listen to Ontarians across the spectrum of housing need, and they have an opportunity to act. It’s disappointing that only on this side of the House, we have heard co-op housing. On that side, there has been a curious and conspicuous absence of listening to the people of Ontario. I hope they will vote in support of this incredible motion today.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.

Mr. Kernaghan has moved private member’s notice of motion number 65. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour of the motion, please say “aye.”

All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

A recorded vote being required, this vote will be deferred until the next instance of deferred votes.

Vote deferred.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): All matters relating to private members’ public business having been completed, we will now proceed to the late shows.

Pursuant to standing order 36, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.

Adjournment Debate

Government accountability

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): For the first late show, the member for Ottawa South has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by the government House leader. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and the government may reply for up to five minutes.

The member for Ottawa South.

Mr. John Fraser: Thank you very much, Speaker, and just so you know, you’re in for a double bill tonight, so this should be fun.

First of all, I want to thank everybody for being here: the table, the Chair, my colleague on the other side whom I have a great deal of respect for even though we don’t always agree.

I want to back up. We’re going to talk about the question about whether the legal fees and the criminal investigation of those legal fees, those fees for lawyers—whether we should pay for the lawyers of politicians, MPPs, ministers and the staff who are caught up in this criminal investigation that’s going to happen over the greenbelt.

But we have to back up a bit and see where we start. How did we get here? We had, of course, the Premier change direction very precipitously on the greenbelt after promising for years and years that he wasn’t going to touch it, under the guise of “We’ve got to do this. It’s an emergency, and I have no choice.”

We have an Auditor General’s report that says, well, in actual fact, what happened here, there’s all these pieces that we’re missing—we can talk about process—but at the end of the day, the actual uplift in value in that land, that land that was owned by a few well-connected insiders, people who were, by the Premier’s own admission, his friendraisers—fundraisers and friends—and friendraisers, too. We all know who they are because they own land in other parts of the province that we’ll talk about later on. She really identified what the problem was here, and that there was an $8.3-billion backroom deal. We all know that.

The government then reversed course on it after the Integrity Commissioner’s report. The Integrity Commissioner’s report was very detailed, and it’s important in this debate because it will help us understand why we’re talking about legal fees and fees for lawyers in this criminal investigation. The Integrity Commissioner said two things. He said that this whole investigation, what he saw was, it was marred by brown envelopes and deception—those are his words. So what was evident from the Integrity Commissioner’s report was that the Minister of Housing at the time, who I’m going to talk a bit more about later in the second half, was reprimanded and he stepped down, which was the right thing to do.

It was evident from the Integrity Commissioner’s report that a lot of people were lawyering up. Everybody had a lawyer, and probably with good reason. Those lawyers cost money.

I think it’s fair to say that in this instance where we have the kind of things that we saw go on, the questions that the Integrity Commissioner raised, the concerns that he raised and the evidence that he brought forward and the fact that we have the RCMP—the Mounties—conducting a criminal investigation into these dealings and that we had four senior members in the Premier’s office, who are no longer connected, or no longer connected to the government, who were caught up in this. We have the former principal secretary, former executive assistants, the director of housing; we have Ryan Amato who was appointed as Minister Clark’s chief of staff by the Premier’s office. So all roads lead to the Premier’s office when you look at this.

So my question was just simply—this isn’t civil litigation. This isn’t what we’re all protected from when we’re ministers and we’re working and we make a decision that affects people and they want to contest that decision. They can come and they can sue us—civil litigation; understandable. But we shouldn’t be paying for the lawyers of those that are implicated in a criminal investigation, and that’s what we have here. I think it’s unfair to Ontario taxpayers. I think it’s a cost that should be borne most appropriately by the Ontario PC Party. I think it’s evident that there is some connection that’s there. I think it would be the right thing to do. I think it would be the right thing to do for Ontario taxpayers.

I look forward to the response of my colleague, the government House leader.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The response from the government House leader.

Hon. Paul Calandra: I appreciate the opportunity. I will take the member’s advice under advisement. Thank you.

Government accountability

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): We have another late show from the member for Ottawa South, who has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by the government House leader.

The member will have, again, up to five minutes to debate the matter. The government can reply for five minutes.

Mr. John Fraser: Well, strategically, I would like to congratulate the government House leader. I know he’s going to get the last word. I’m totally comfortable with that. And I know what’s going to come at me, and that’s all good.

Really, in fairness, should taxpayers be on the hook to pay for lawyers in a criminal investigation?

Now, we had a reversal on the urban boundaries. It’s not the greenbelt; that’s not the thing we’re talking about, but urban boundaries. A very precipitous reversal, hastily set up, which raises the question, why are we doing that? Is it because of the RCMP’s criminal investigation? Are there concerns with that?

We know in Ottawa, the Watters Road property sticks out like a sore thumb. The city didn’t request it. It’s prime agricultural land. It’s got a geological formation. It’s hard to service. It shouldn’t even be there. It was included, and the people who owned the land, their land tripled in value—tripled in value in one day. And they’ve got a history of donations of $50,000 to the party. That’s what I was talking about earlier.

We have Hamilton, where a farmer gets three offers for his land the day before the boundary expansion is announced. That sounds a bit like somebody’s got some insider information there. The connections between what we saw on the greenbelt and what happened with the urban boundaries, well, we kind of see the same thing happening there.

So why are we paying for the lawyers to cover people’s tracks? Why would we pay their legal fees? Why would the government of Ontario, why would the people of Ontario, why would taxpayers do that? That’s not right. The Ontario PC Party should pay for it. It looks like they were a beneficiary.

The other thing I want to mention is the former Minister of Housing, who I think did the right thing when he was reprimanded here in this assembly or—I’ll correct my record— reprimanded by the Integrity Commissioner. I know the member quite well. I sat with him for a long time. I have a lot of respect for him. I have a lot of respect that he did the right thing, and the objection that I have today is that with this urban boundary expansion and with all things around this RCMP investigation, the Minister of Housing is—they’re doubling down on it. He already threw himself under the bus. Now the Premier is backing up over him.

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I mentioned earlier those people connected to the Premier’s office, that all roads lead to the Premier’s office on this one. I think it’s fair. Who are the people who are missing? They’re people who worked in the Premier office and the one who was appointed by the Premier’s office. All roads lead to the Premier’s office. So I don’t know why we should pay for lawyers in this criminal investigation, but even more, I don’t know why the former Minister of Housing is being backed over again. I find it objectionable. I think the Premier should take responsibility. It was his office. It was his direction. The member can’t effectively defend themselves. As a matter of fact, that former Minister of Housing won’t be able to benefit by what the government says it’s going to do to pay for the lawyers in this criminal investigation. He won’t be able to. He’s not attached to the minister; he’s a private member.

So let me figure this out: The person who admitted that he did a wrong thing, that did the right thing in here, who can’t defend himself or it’s going to cost himself money to do that, because they can’t do it here—they’re backing the bus over him again. That’s not right. I don’t care what side of the House that member is on; I don’t. I don’t care whether they sat here, whether they sat here, whether they sat there. I think any of us would objectively say that’s unfair. And when I saw that and I heard that, it upset me a great deal, because I have a lot of respect for that member.

I’ll just leave it at that, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): A response from the government House leader.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Madam Speaker, I have to be honest with you: I have no idea what the member is talking about. In fact, I wish I could actually go submit a document to the table and ask for the opportunity to ask the member what the heck he’s talking about, because in this speech, he’s talking about not paying legal fees and paying legal fees, so he’s asking us to do both things in the same speech.

Having said that, I do like the member opposite. It’s not his fault that he’s in a party that accomplished nothing for 15 years. Madam Speaker, I know that you will agree with me on that. I know that it’s not his fault.

Look, when you come to talking to the former Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, he did a lot of great things for the province of Ontario. He moved the needle on a number of housing supply action plans to help us get homes built across the province of Ontario. I’m sure you will agree with that, Madam Speaker.

The one disappointing thing—and it’s really nice to hear how much the member for Ottawa South appreciates the former Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I think the former minister would have appreciated more had they actually voted in favour of the measures that he brought forward to build more homes across the province of Ontario, but he didn’t, and his party didn’t.

But here’s the reality: We’re going to continue to do that. I’ve talked about this in question period. Do you notice how they’re not bringing questions to the table, adjournment debate questions, about the things that we’re accomplishing? They voted against every single housing supply action plan item. They voted against when we cut taxes. They voted against the transit and transportation. They voted against the transit-oriented community things, but they remain silent on that, Madam Speaker, and I’m sure you are as disappointed as I am of the Liberal record with respect to how they have voted in this place.

You can talk as much as you like about the accomplishments, but this is a member who comes from a government that, when they were building infrastructure, they built bridges literally upside down. You can’t really make this stuff up. They built a train system that doesn’t work. So who in the Liberal Party is paying for the bridge that was built upside down? Was it the Liberal Party of Ontario that was paying for the upside-down bridge? Imagine this: You’re building a bridge across the 401, one of the busiest areas in the province, in Pickering, and they build it upside down. This is insanity. This is the hallmark of the Liberal government.

They also, Madam Speaker—you’ll appreciate this for sure—then said—for anybody watching this at home, they will remember when the Liberals said the economy has to transition away from high-paying, high-tech jobs and we have to become a service economy in the province of Ontario. Now, you’re saying to yourself, what the heck does that mean, to be a service economy in the province of Ontario? But what they didn’t tell people is that in order to fulfill their dream of making Ontario a service economy, they literally crushed every single industry in the province of Ontario, leading to thousands of jobs leaving the province of Ontario.

Having said all of that, we can debate, and hopefully we’ll get more opportunities to debate in the future. I do like the honourable gentleman; I’m sure you do as well, Madam Speaker. He’s one of my favourite Liberals. In fact, he is the most successful Liberal leader we’ve had in this place in probably 10 years. He’s got the party up to seven members; he’s got the party at seven or eight members, so he is the most successful Liberal leader we have had. I don’t know why the Liberals are even looking for another leader, given the success that—and I mean this genuinely. I think the member will agree. I do mean this genuinely. I think that he is a great representative. Now, you will recall, he came into this place when the person who had the seat before him had to leave in scandal. But that’s all right; that doesn’t matter. It was a billion-dollar boondoggle on gas plants, but that’s all right. This is a gentleman who has done a lot of good things for his community, and that’s the only reason why I’m indulging his fantasies that he is saying here tonight, Madam Speaker.

But look, I will say this in closing: He’s going to have a challenge on his hands, because everything that they’re talking about here, they have—their apparent Liberal leading contender for their leadership actually wants to double down and do all of the things that he’s talked about. The leader of the Green Party is just spinning over there because he’s thinking he’s going to be sitting beside somebody in the near future who actually wants to build on the greenbelt, who wants to do all of the things that the member opposite is complaining against. So it’s going to be a real difficult challenge—

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Thank you.

Municipal funding

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): We have yet another late show. The member for Guelph has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by the Premier. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and the government will have five minutes to reply.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: It’s an honour to be here tonight. I want to appreciate everyone for being here tonight, because this is an important question that mayors and city councils across the province of Ontario deserve an answer to.

Last year, when the government brought forward Bill 23, they removed development charges that municipalities need to service the building of new homes, according to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, costing the province $5.1 billion in municipalities across the province. My own riding in Guelph: $227 million. So why is this money important? Speaker, I don’t have a problem with waiving development charges for truly affordable homes. But then the government is going to have to replace that money for municipalities if they’re going to be able to build those homes, because the municipalities have to pay for things like sewer lines and water lines and stormwater management and parks and libraries and police and fire stations. If the government is going to take their ability to pay for those things away from them, then one of two things is going to happen: Either we’re going to see double-digit property tax increases by a number of municipalities, or you’re not going to see them able to build the servicing needed to build homes. And, quite frankly, we’re in a housing crisis right now. We need to build more homes, and municipalities need to be able to make sure you can turn the water on and flush the toilet when you’re in that home.

So the Premier’s response, and this is what really made me think I’ve got to stand up and defend Guelph, is that—and I quote this from the Hansard today: “Your whole council in Guelph are a bunch of left-wing lunatics.” And then he goes on to say that they say no to housing. And I’ve just got to correct the record, because if you look at the facts, when it comes to new housing starts, Guelph is in the middle of the pack. We need to do better; there’s no doubt about it. I’m pushing that. We need to do better.

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Guelph is reaching about 44% of our target that we’ve mandated. We’re not doing as good as Toronto; they’re on pace for 90%. And I told my friend from Brantford over here, even though he’s on the other side of the aisle, that Brantford is the best in the province at 109% of their target.

But I look at places like Mississauga, Ajax and Newmarket that are all around 29%; Barrie is at 23%; Burlington is at 5%. And I’ll remind the members that those are actually ridings represented by Conservatives. This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s just that these are what the facts are.

I also want to say that recently Guelph has led the way in saying yes to fourplexes, getting rid of exclusionary zoning. We just said yes to a major new student housing initiative. We’ve completed the building of three permanent supportive housing spaces, having a Yes in My Backyard campaign to get community buy-in for them. It’s one of the reasons that this so-called left-wing council—Guelph has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada, at just around 2%. We rank second out of 25 cities across Canada as a good place to do business. Over the last decade, we’ve consistently been one of the top 10 cities in Canada to live in, and we rank in the top 10 safest cities in Canada. It’s a great place to live, it’s a great place to do business, and one of the things that worries me is that the government, because of Bill 23, is going to make it more difficult for my community and communities across Ontario to maintain that affordability, because they’ve taken away the ability to service new housing.

I think one of the things that is infuriating so many Ontarians right now is that instead of implementing recommendations from the Housing Affordability Task Force over the two years, the government has been more focused on opening the greenbelt for development, expanding urban boundaries and other initiatives to have expensive sprawl go onto farmland, benefiting a handful of wealthy, well-connected insiders, when what people want are homes that ordinary Ontarians can afford, in the communities they want to live in, on the land that’s already approved for development to build up to two million homes. So let’s get to building those homes, and let’s provide municipalities with the financial support they need to service those homes so we can build them.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): I’ll recognize the member from Whitby to—

Mr. Lorne Coe: Thank you, Speaker, for the opportunity to address the member from Guelph’s concerns on municipal funding. Let’s talk about development charges. Let’s talk about how, before a single shovel hits the ground, the average homebuyer already faces an average of $116,900 in municipal development charges and fees. That $116,900 is more than the cost of a down payment for many homes. Let’s talk about how, over the course of a 20-year mortgage, this could add more than $800 to a new homebuyer’s monthly payment. I want you to keep this in mind as I talk about who is actually affected by the changes our province made to development charges.

As the member should well know, the changes made to development charges are for non-profit and affordable homes. We’ve been clear—and maybe the member from Guelph disagrees—that the last thing our non-profit and affordable home providers need when they’re looking to build homes for vulnerable Ontarians in our communities is excessive fees and bureaucratic roadblocks preventing them from getting shovels in the ground. Municipalities can still get development charges from most market housing.

So I just want to be clear here: That’s what the member is arguing for. He wants out-of-control fees, which in the case of Guelph add $44,000 to the cost of building the average home, imposed on the non-profit and affordable homes his community critically needs.

Well, Speaker, our government disagrees, and thanks to our changes, we’re already hearing about projects this province finally is moving forward. That means shovels getting in the ground on more affordable homes, more non-profit homes, thanks to us cutting these excessive fees. And that means, across the province, more hard-working Ontarians, more young families, more seniors, newcomers and more vulnerable people will have access to a home that they can actually afford in their own community.

Speaker, I’m also glad that the member opposite gave me the opportunity to talk about what this government is doing to support our municipal partners, because we’re counting on them to do their share in helping us meet our mutual goal of building at least 1.5 million homes by 2031, and we’re committed to providing every tool at our disposal to empower municipalities that are shovel-ready and committed to growth.

Guelph specifically has pledged to build 18,000 homes, and maybe the member would be better directed toward advocating that they catch up on their new home starts. To help achieve these goals, the province has also recently introduced the Building Faster Fund, a $1.2-billion, three-year program to support municipalities in achieving housing targets. Each year, up to $400 million will aid eligible municipalities based on their performance towards helping Ontario build at least 1.5 million new homes by 2031. Additionally, 10% of this funding, $400 million per year, is reserved for municipalities that have not received a housing pledge, including small, rural and northern communities, to address their unique needs.

The fund will help municipalities that have made a pledge to meet their housing targets pay for critical housing, enabling infrastructure needed to accommodate growth, such as site servicing and new roads.

Our government will continue to build homes and make the dream of home ownership attainable for more Ontarians. I hope the member opposite can put partnership over partisanship and support real solutions as we continue to get it done as a government.

The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): There being no further matters to debate, pursuant to standing order 36(c), I deem the motion to adjourn to be carried.

This House now stands adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, October 25.

The House adjourned at 1817.