43e législature, 1e session

L113A - Wed 22 Nov 2023 / Mer 22 nov 2023

 

The House met at 0900.

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

Prayers.

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

Orders of the Day

Working for Workers Four Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 visant à oeuvrer pour les travailleurs, quatre

Resuming the debate adjourned on November 21, 2023, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 149, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to employment and labour and other matters / Projet de loi 149, Loi modifiant diverses lois en ce qui concerne l’emploi, le travail et d’autres questions.

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

M. Guy Bourgouin: C’est toujours un plaisir de me lever pour parler du projet de loi 149. Surtout, quand on parle de travailleurs ou de projets de loi qui adressent ou qui disent—je devrais bien mettre le—il faut le dire très fort, là : qui disent qu’ils travaillent pour les travailleurs. Mais qu’est-ce qui arrive? Ce que le monde ne sait pas, c’est que le gouvernement, souvent—nous, on propose beaucoup de propositions et beaucoup de projets de loi pour améliorer les conditions des travailleurs. On entend souvent le gouvernement dire que l’opposition officielle vote toujours contre des projets de loi, vote toujours contre des projets de loi. Mais je peux vous dire : le sentiment est mutuel quand ça vient à l’opposition officielle et qu’on se fait dire non à des propositions qu’on fait pour améliorer des projets de loi et pour aider les travailleurs.

Parce que, vous le savez et tout le monde sait, le NPD, c’est un parti qui a été fondé par les travailleurs. On va tout le temps être là pour travailler et pour les supporter, les travailleurs, sans exception. Dans les faits, non seulement le NPD a mis plus de législation de l’avant pour protéger et améliorer les conditions des travailleurs, mais en plus—comme j’ai dit—les conservateurs votent souvent contre.

Pour donner un exemple, on a mis souvent la proposition anti-scab dans la législature pour des projets de loi pour protéger—puis on le sait; c’est démontré. Il y a bien des pays et il y a bien des places qui l’ont, l’anti-scab. Ça aide. Moi, je le sais; j’ai négocié pendant 22 ans pour les métallos. Je travaillais avec les employeurs, et je le disais souvent : n’importe quel imbécile—si je peux user du terme en Chambre—peut négocier une grève; n’importe lequel. Ce n’est pas plus compliqué que ça, monsieur le Président : tu dis non à toutes les propositions. Mais, moi, quand j’ai commencé dans le domaine, je me souviens, c’était Normand Rivard, qui était un de mes mentors, qui me dit : « Guy, le bon négociateur, ce qu’il va faire, lui : il va trouver des solutions. » C’est facile de dire non. N’importe quel imbécile—comme j’ai dit—peut dire ça.

Mais je peux vous dire que, des fois, même si on trouve toutes les solutions, veux, veux pas, les deux parties ne sont pas capables de s’entendre. Mais on sait que c’est rare que ça arrive—tu sais, la grève. On parle de grève, on parle de grève—mais ça n’arrive pas très souvent. Les conventions se font sans grève. Pourquoi? C’est un petit pourcentage, parce que 95 % des conventions se règlent—95 % ou 97 %?

M. Joel Harden: Réglées.

M. Guy Bourgouin: —réglées sans confrontement. Les deux parties sont heureuses, puis on part.

Mais quand les deux parties ne sont pas capables, puis que l’employeur va chercher les scabs, comme on les appelle, ou des travailleurs qui traversent la « picket line », ça détruit une relation de travail. Pas juste pour un an—je peux vous dire que ça détruit des relations de travail pour des générations. Ça prend beaucoup de travail pour la ramener à une relation de travail où les parties puissent se re-faire confiance. La confiance, la crédibilité se bâtit, mais elle se défait dans un clin d’oeil.

Quand on propose des projets de loi anti-scab, c’est ce dont on a besoin dans notre province. Ça déchire des communautés—il faut le dire, là, parce que, veux, veux pas, quand tu es une communauté de 5 000, 6 000, tout le monde se connaît. Quand l’employeur va faire venir une agence pour traverser, ou engager des gardes de sécurité, je peux vous dire que la communauté est tout le temps derrière le travailleur. Pourquoi? Parce que trois quarts du temps, on a une industrie, et ça affecte tout le monde.

Mais pourquoi? Je ne comprends pas pourquoi on est ardus à être contre ce projet de loi quand on sait que ça réglerait—puis quand tu as une grève de même, puis que tu as ce projet de loi, là, ça règle beaucoup, parce que, là, ils ne pourraient pas aller chercher des travailleurs qui vont étirer la grève.

Je pense encore à Cochrane. C’était les travailleurs de la ville. Le maire et le conseil ont décidé d’engager des scabs. Avez-vous pensé comment ça déchire une communauté de, peut-être, 3 000 personnes, comment c’est déchirant pour une communauté? À la place, de dire non—si on avait un projet de loi de même, ça dirait : « Non, les parties, vous n’avez pas le choix. Vous vous asseyez. Vous trouvez—parce que sinon, il n’y a pas de gagnant. »

Je trouve que ce sont ces projets de loi-là qui font une différence pour arrêter le déchirement entre des communautés, ou même entre les employeurs et employés—puis que les parties n’ont pas le choix : il faut qu’ils s’assoient pour trouver des solutions, parce que l’employeur ne peut pas prendre l’abus du pouvoir et aller chercher des travailleurs—disons, des scabs, comme on les appelle—pour venir remplacer, des remplacements de travailleurs, puis qu’ils viennent faire le travail, puis que ça déchire des communautés et que ça déchire des relations de travail, qui sont très dures à rebâtir.

J’essaie de passer encore le Bill 76, « respecting workers for health care ». Encore, si on se souvient, il y a eu aussi le projet de loi 124. Le gouvernement a voulu—il a passé un projet de loi, ils l’ont amené en cour, et ils ont perdu. C’était anticonstitutionnel, monsieur le Président. Puis encore, ils s’acharnent. Même s’ils ont perdu la décision, ce n’est toujours pas réglé.

Les travailleurs de santé : je me souviens, quand on est rentrés en pleine pandémie, on les considérait des héros. Tout le travail qu’ils font—on les reconnaissait. On le leur disait. Je me souviens. Le monde faisait des enseignes partout. Mais on a un gouvernement qui a voté contre un projet de loi pour dire de respecter les travailleurs de santé. Pourquoi? Parce que ça vient de notre bord?

Si on le passe, après ça, il s’en va au comité. On va le travailler pour refléter les choses que vous demandez, où vous trouvez qu’il manquait des affaires dans le projet de loi. Pareil comme quand on supporte des projets de loi du gouvernement. On n’est pas tout à fait d’accord, mais on sait que ça s’en va en comité et qu’on a une chance, au moins, de faire des propositions pour l’améliorer. Même là, il y a des projets de loi auxquels on a apporté au-dessus de 100 amendements, puis encore. Il ne faut pas oublier : ces amendements-là qu’on veut amener à un projet de loi viennent des « stakeholders », viennent des personnes qui travaillent dans les domaines qui viennent nous voir. Ce sont les mêmes personnes qui vont voir le gouvernement, en passant. Elles viennent parler au comité pour améliorer le projet de loi. Qu’est-ce qui est bon? Qu’est-ce qui n’est pas bon? Comment ça les affecte? Nous, on amène ces recommandations-là quand le gouvernement ne traite pas avec, puis ils votent contre.

Fait que, c’est un projet de loi pour respecter les travailleurs en santé. On a un projet de loi où le gouvernement dit : « On travaille pour les travailleurs. » Je pense que c’est, quoi, le troisième ou le quatrième projet de loi qu’on travaille qui propose d’aider les travailleurs? Mais à toutes les fois que nous, on amène de quoi pour améliorer pour les travailleurs, ils sont contre. C’est qui, qui est contre les travailleurs, là? La question se pose.

0910

Je vais vous donner un autre exemple. Je viens du syndicat. Je le sais; j’ai travaillé là-dedans. Tu sais quand tu signes—disons que t’achètes une maison. Tu vas signer pour dire que si tu ne fais pas tes paiements, ou ton « mortgage », ça veut dire—écoute, ta signature, elle dit : « Monsieur, tu peux perdre ta maison. C’est ta signature. » Ou, encore un autre exemple : tu fais ton testament. Monsieur le Président, je peux te dire, quand tu fais ton testament, tu signes, et la signature dit qu’il faut que tu respectes le testament de la personne qui est décédée. La signature est bonne.

Mais, je vous demande, monsieur le Président, pourquoi la signature, quand ça vient à signer une carte d’union—on appelle ça une carte d’union—pour dire que moi je supporte le syndicat, même si le syndicat, quand il fait une « drive » pour essayer de syndiquer le lieu de travail où il n’y a pas de syndicat—même si 100 % des employés signent pour dire qu’ils sont en faveur du syndicat, il va y avoir un vote. Puis on sait, durant cette période-là, que les deux parties ne peuvent plus s’ingérer. Mais l’employeur, encore, il a le droit de payer ses employés, puis il y a de la magouille qui se fait. Ça, on le sait tous. Souvent, ça s’en va jusqu’au ministère du Travail. Mais pourquoi, quand ça vient à ta signature pour tout le reste, elle est bonne? Ça veut dire que tu l’as signé et tu vis avec les conséquences. Mais, par exemple, pour rentrer dans un syndicat, ta signature ne compte pas. Où est-ce que ça fait du sens? C’est encore des attaques contre les syndicats qui essaient d’améliorer les conditions de travail des employés.

Même, si 60 %, 80 %, 90 %, 100 % des employés ont signé—parce qu’on l’avait avant, hein? On l’avait, en province, que tu avais la certification. Tu avais 51 %, et c’était une certification automatique. Pourquoi on n’est pas là encore? Pourquoi le gouvernement dit qu’il travaille pour les travailleurs mais n’amène pas un projet de loi pour dire : « Non, ta signature compte autant que n’importe quoi »? Mais, pour un syndicat, on ne le fait pas.

Encore, je regarde « Respecting Injured Workers Act ». On parle encore du, on dit, « deeming » quand ça vient à la compensation. On essaie de l’améliorer. Écoute, ils vivent sous le seuil de la pauvreté. Il y a trop de travailleurs qui sont blessés au travail et qui ont de la misère à vivre. Pourtant, il y avait des gros surplus, là. Il y avait des gros surplus en compensation. Puis, qu’est-ce que le gouvernement a fait? Il a pris des millions de dollars, puis il les a retournés à l’employeur.

Mais on a vraiment oublié le concept de ce que—la compensation a été créée. C’était la compensation avant, pour le monde qui ne le sait pas. C’est que la personne qui se blessait avait le droit d’actionner son employeur. Puis là, ils ont créé la compensation pour être capable de dire : « Non, il va y avoir un fonds remis. Il va y avoir une structure. » L’employé qui s’est blessé n’a plus le droit d’actionner l’employeur, mais il va y avoir un processus qui est là pour être capable de compenser l’employé qui s’est blessé. C’est passé. Je me souviens qu’en 1999, par exemple, quand c’est rentré, on a changé ça pour « Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ». Tout d’un coup, il y a le nom de l’assurance là-dedans—qui est venu de Mike Harris, en passant. Le gouvernement conservateur, il a changé le concept.

Puis là, on est rendu à : les travailleurs qui se blessent sont obligés d’aller se rendre jusqu’au tribunal d’appel. Et aller au tribunal : tu te fais dénier, tu te fais dénier, tu te fais refuser ta « claim ». Puis là, c’est rendu que toutes les « claims », quasiment, sont refusées, puis tu es obligé d’aller au tribunal pour justifier—même si c’est un support médical. J’en ai fait, de la compensation. J’ai plaidé la compensation et je peux vous dire que ces travailleurs-là souffrent. Ils ont le support médical, puis encore ils se font refuser.

Ça a donné que, la semaine passée, on a rencontré l’association des policiers de l’Ontario. Je sais, probablement tout le monde a eu des rencontres avec les policiers. Mais les policiers, qu’est-ce qu’ils nous disaient? C’est qu’ils ont beaucoup de « PTSD ». On ne réalise pas—et le gouvernement, je pense qu’ils oublient ce que les policiers passent à travers. Je suis convaincu qu’aucun de nous autres va voir des choses ou des horreurs qu’ils voient quand ils arrivent sur un accident ou qu’ils sont mis dans une situation où ils sont obligés de sortir leur arme ou réagir. Des fois, ils ont des fractions de secondes pour agir et ça change la vie. Ça change leur vie pour toujours—pas juste eux autres, mais aussi à leur famille.

Là, tu as le « PTSD » qui rentre en chose. Mais ils nous disent encore que même s’ils ont été acceptés, qu’ils ont le support médical qui dit qu’ils ont du « PTSD », ils se ramassent encore à aller en appel jusqu’au tribunal. C’est ça qu’ils me disaient—ce ne sont pas mes paroles, mais c’est le groupe que j’ai rencontré—que bien de leurs membres se suicident—se suicident.

On a du monde qui nous protège et qui mettent leur vie en danger. Puis encore, ils se font refuser pour du « PTSD » quand ils ont tout le support médical. Pourquoi? Pourquoi, quand ça vient à une situation comme ça, ils sont obligés de vivre ça et ils sont obligés de venir nous lobbyer et venir nous rencontrer et dire : « Écoute, il faut que ça change. Nos membres se tuent parce qu’ils n’ont plus de porte et ils ont déjà assez à traiter avec toutes les horreurs qu’ils ont vues ou qu’ils vivent parce que, soit ils ont usé de leur arme ou ils sont arrivés sur un accident qui a changé leur vie, et ça, à force d’en voir, ça change des vies. » Je pense qu’on est tous humains. On n’est pas fait de roche. Ça affecte, à long.

Dans une situation de même, quand ces personnes-là, que ça soit des policiers ou encore des paramédics—toutes les personnes qui font face à cette situation—une fois qu’ils ont le support médical, il n’y a aucune raison que ça soit refusé. Parce qu’il y a un processus. Il y a des spécialistes qui les ont diagnostiqués. Pourquoi est-ce qu’on refuse encore ces policiers?

Moi, je connais un individu—je ne nommerai pas son nom. C’est un paramédic. Il a été paramédic toute sa vie. Il pensait qu’il y avait des taches sur le cerveau. Il pensait qu’il avait le cancer. Mais avec plus de recherche—c’est ce qu’il me disait—ils ont découvert que « toutes les choses que j’ai vues, auxquelles j’ai été exposé : aller chercher des personnes qui sont décédées dans des accidents d’auto, des enfants et tout »—à long, ça l’a affecté. Il n’est plus capable. Il est sur le long terme, parce qu’il n’est plus capable de faire son travail. Il est sur la compensation parce qu’il n’est plus capable de faire son travail.

Fait que, ce monde-là, qui sont refusés—et pensez qu’en plus de traiter avec toutes les émotions et comment ça affecte leur vie, le « PTSD » et tout, ils sont obligés de passer à travers un autre processus juste pour faire accepter, pour faire reconnaître qu’ils ont été impactés, et ils ont le support médical pour dire : « Tu ne peux plus faire ton travail parce que tu as vécu trop de traumatismes dans ta vie. » Pourquoi on leur fait subir ça? Puis on dit qu’on travaille pour les travailleurs? C’est ridicule.

On parle aussi, tu sais, quand on a eu la pandémie, on voulait que le monde reste à la maison. « Stay at home if you are sick. » Ça, c’était en pleine pandémie. Ils ont voté contre. On parle du projet 121. J’en ai parlé. Les quatre jours—« four-day workweek »—ils ont voté contre. On amène des propositions au gouvernement. On demande au gouvernement de les supporter—puis ça, ça vient des travailleurs. Ce n’est pas nous autres qui les inventent, ces affaires-là. Puis encore, ils votent contre.

On pense aux travailleurs digitaux. Je pense à ma collègue, notre whip de—j’essaie de penser de quelle—de London West. Notre whip de London West en a parlé cette semaine, de comment on a une responsabilité, le gouvernement a une responsabilité de mettre—ils sont les seuls qui ont des conditions de travailleurs des autres travailleurs. Expliquez-moi ça, vous autres. Un travailleur, c’est un travailleur. Quand je vais à la chasse, moi, et que je vois un orignal, qu’il ait un panache ou qu’il n’ait pas de panache, c’est encore un orignal.

Mais pourquoi, quand ça vient aux travailleurs, on va créer d’autres lois ou d’autre législation pour qu’ils ne soient pas couverts comme les autres travailleurs? C’est incomprenable, ça, madame la Présidente. C’est incomprenable qu’on ait un gouvernement qui traite des travailleurs différemment que d’autres.

0920

Je veux parler, justement, en étant porte-parole du ministère des Ressources naturelles. On a des gardes forestiers. J’ai posé la question cette semaine ou la semaine passée, à la fin de la semaine passée, sur les gardes forestiers. Pourquoi on ne les ajuste pas? Ça, on en manque. Les gardes forestiers, ils travaillent dans des lieux isolés. S’il y arrive de quoi, je peux te dire, ça prend du temps pour avoir de l’assistance de la police ou d’autres agences. Ils demandent juste d’être payé selon—puis, on le leur demande aussi, là. Ils sont obligés de porter une arme, et ils travaillent seuls, ce monde-là. Ils travaillent seuls.

Le gouvernement se traîne les pieds. Ils se cachent derrière les négociations—non. Il y a déjà du langage. J’écoutais le ministre qui nous disait, « Oh, on travaille là-dessus. On a un comité qui le regarde. » Savez-vous comment longtemps ça fait qu’ils le regardent? Ça fait plus de quatre ans. Je ne sais pas, moi. Quatre ans pour regarder pour un ajustement de salaire? Parce qu’ils l’ont; c’est déjà dans le—ils ont le droit de le faire, ils ont le pouvoir de le faire. Quatre ans—c’est acceptable, ça? Ce sont des employés qui travaillent pour le gouvernement. On leur demande de porter une arme, on leur demande d’avoir le même « training » que la police, on leur demande de faire leur travail, puis très souvent, ils sont dans des situations où ils sont seuls—t’arrives sur quelqu’un qui a « poaché », comme on dit en anglais, ou qui a tué illégalement un animal; des fois, ils ne sont pas tout seuls, je peux te le dire. Et lui, il arrive tout seul là et il dit, « Excusez, je viens de vous pogner. Vous allez être chargés. » Dans le milieu de nulle part, s’il arrive de quoi, comment vont-ils le trouver, cet individu-là?

Mais on leur le demande, et ils demandent juste d’être payés selon leur salaire, selon leurs qualifications. Ils demandent d’être payés pour le même travail qu’on exige, que ce soit d’un policier ou autre dans le même domaine. Ils veulent être ajustés selon leurs droits. Puis on a un processus, et le gouvernement se traîne les pieds, et on n’est pas capable de les payer adéquatement. C’est inacceptable.

Si on dit que c’est un projet de loi qui travaille pour les travailleurs, vous avez manqué le bateau, et pas à peu près.

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

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Merci beaucoup au député. Les nouveaux arrivants dans notre province sont essentiels pour garantir que l’Ontario puisse continuer à croître. S’opposer à ce projet de loi signifie-t-il que les membres soutiennent les pratiques existantes qui empêchent les nouveaux arrivants de pouvoir travailler dans les domaines pour lesquels ils sont formés?

M. Guy Bourgouin: Merci à la députée de—excusez-moi, j’essaie de trouver votre—quel?

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Newmarket.

M. Guy Bourgouin: Newmarket. Et puis merci de me poser la question en français. Vous savez, on n’a pas tout le temps la chance de faire des débats, et je sais que vous faites de gros efforts quand j’en fais—fait que, merci pour ça.

Écoute, je ne suis pas ici pour dire qu’il n’y a pas de bonnes choses dans le projet de loi, mais il manque beaucoup de choses dans vos projets de loi. C’est le troisième ou le quatrième projet de loi où on dit qu’il y a des choses qui manquent. Mais pour une raison quelconque, quand ça vient de notre bord, c’est comme avaler un melon d’eau. C’est comme si vous êtes—on est rendu à un point dans cette place, ici dans la Chambre, qu’on est trop partisan, qu’on ne veut même plus voir, des fois, ce qu’on propose, ce qui peut être amélioré, et qu’on ne peut travailler ensemble. Je ne suis pas prêt à dire que oui, je suis d’accord avec ce point de vue-là. Écoute, c’est sûr qu’il y a beaucoup de choses à améliorer encore.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further questions?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: The member from Mushkegowuk–James Bay—that was a good critique of the bill before us, but I noticed this bill doesn’t have the things that would make a huge difference in workers’ lives. As we all know, unionizing is one of the most critical things you can do to improve the lot of working people in this province, but there is no card-based certification. There is no mention of first-contract support. There is no anti-scab legislation.

Could you speak to the lack of these critical elements that would allow workers to unionize and actually exercise power to defend themselves in the workplace?

Mr. Guy Bourgouin: Thank you to my colleague for the question.

The three points you brought up would make a huge difference, because my experience, when I was—a lot of people can’t defend themselves. They were coming to me and saying, “Guy, we’re happy you’re here”—or, “We’re happy our union is here,” because it wasn’t about me; it was about the committee and all the work they did. They said, “I can’t defend myself, and I don’t have to go and beg for an increase in my wages.” If they don’t have a union, everybody is paid differently, and nobody knows. We’ve seen this with truckers. That’s why when we represented truckers, they were happy, because they knew that everybody was getting the same rate—they knew they were getting the same thing for a volume table. So there is a standard that is set that will improve workers’ rights.

So union certification—and when you think about that, we used to have it: automatic cert, when you had 51%. This Conservative government took it away. Why? It doesn’t make sense. Your signature is—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Thank you. Further questions?

M. Stéphane Sarrazin: Je me demandais si le membre de l’opposition était en faveur des augmentations pour les paiements de « workers’ compensation », ou la WSIB? Est-ce qu’il supporte ça? Parce que, en supportant ce projet de loi-là, vous supportez l’augmentation des paiements de la WSIB. Donc, j’aimerais savoir sa position à ce sujet.

M. Guy Bourgouin: Merci pour la question du député de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell. Puis en passant, je sais que je t’ai donné un petit peu de misère cette semaine. C’était juste du plaisir; ce n’était rien de personnel, je devrais dire.

Écoute, on a tellement, tellement à faire sur la compensation pour les employés. On a parlé tellement souvent ici en Chambre du « deeming », de comment on dit qu’il faut éliminer le « deeming ». Ça, ça veut dire qu’une personne, disons, n’est pas capable de faire leur travail, mais qu’ils disent : « Oh, on t’a donné du training, mais il y a une job »—je vais vous donner un exemple de chez nous à Kapuskasing.

Je demeure à Kapuskasing. Ils disent :

—Guy, on t’a « retrainé », on t’a éduqué pour un autre travail.

Mais moi, je dis :

—Bien, il n’y en a pas à Kapuskasing.

—Ah, bien, il y en a un à Timmins.

—Bien, là, je ne peux pas aller à Timmins, ma famille est ici.

—Ce n’est pas notre problème. Tu vas voyager deux heures, puis tu vas aller travailler là, tu vas dépenser—puis on va te payer 80 % de la différence entre le travail.

Parce que ce n’est pas la faute de la compensation; c’est rendu de ta faute.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further questions?

Mme Sandy Shaw: Merci au député de Mushkegowuk–Baie James. Vous avez parlé des travailleurs qui se blessent au travail. Mais il y a des gens qui travaillent aux restaurants et aussi dans les stations d’essence, et il y a plusieurs fois où le salaire est volé des employés, surtout quand il y a des gens qui dînent dans un restaurant, mais qui quittent sans payer leur facture. Dans ce cas, ce sont les travailleurs qui doivent la payer. Et aussi, dans les stations d’essence, aux pompes d’essence, si quelqu’un remplit leur voiture et ils quittent sans payer, c’est les employés qui doivent payer. Il y a de tragiques incidents où les travailleurs sont blessés ou même tués en essayant d’arrêter ces voleurs.

Qu’est-ce que vous avez à dire à ce sujet?

M. Guy Bourgouin: Merci à ma collègue pour la question. Depuis quand est-ce que c’est rendu la responsabilité d’un employé d’aller arrêter un voleur? Depuis quand? Il est payé pour faire un service. La serveuse est payée pour aller servir, mais la personne qui est là pour manger et qui se sauve—est-elle supposée partir après, sauter dessus et lui arracher l’argent des poches? Probablement qu’il n’en a même pas. Depuis quand est-ce que c’est rendu une responsabilité qu’on donne—puis, on s’entend, ces travailleurs-là ne sont pas beaucoup payés. Ils sont au salaire minimum trois quarts du temps.

Mais pourtant, tu as son employeur qui a beaucoup les reins plus solides. Tu sais ce que je veux dire? Pourquoi donne-t-il sa responsabilité aux employés? L’employé, il doit juste le rapporter. C’est son travail. Mais ce n’est pas son travail, par exemple, de mettre sa vie en danger, au salaire minimum, quand c’est la responsabilité de l’employeur. Ce n’est pas juste, puis on doit protéger ces employés-là.

0930

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further questions?

M. Stéphane Sarrazin: On sait tous que les pompiers, ce sont des héros qui risquent leur vie pour venir en service aux gens. Vous l’avez dit, vous l’avez mentionné un peu. Donc, ce qu’on peut comprendre, c’est qu’en opposant ce projet de loi, vous comprenez que ça va être plus difficile pour, justement, les pompiers et leur famille d’avoir le support nécessaire quand ça vient à faire face à des maladies causées par leur travail.

M. Guy Bourgouin: Je suis content que tu aies amené la question—j’étais pour dire Stéphane—le député de Prescott-Russell. Comme je l’ai répété à ta collègue, il y a des bonnes choses dans ce projet de loi-là. Mais c’est drôle que tu as parlé des pompiers, mais que tu as oublié les pompiers forestiers. Tu as oublié de parler des pompiers forestiers qui, eux autres, par exemple, sont des pompiers, puis on ne reconnaît pas qu’ils vont avoir le même soutien puis être couvert la même affaire que les autres pompiers, quand vous le savez qu’ils sont sujets au cancer. Ils ont les mêmes, mêmes choses qu’ils passent à travers, ces mêmes documents-là. Puis on le sait qu’il y a eu des forêts à la grandeur de la province, là—il y a une pénurie de main-d’oeuvre là-dedans. Mais on les exclut, ces travailleurs-là. Pourquoi vous avez exclu les travailleurs forestiers pour avoir les mêmes bénéfices que les autres pompiers? Ça, c’est un problème.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further debate?

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: I am honoured to rise in the House today to speak, on behalf of the great residents of Newmarket–Aurora, on the Working for Workers Four Act. This bill encompasses four main themes: (1) supporting workers in the service sector by clarifying existing provisions and adding new provisions to better protect workers; (2) striving for fairer treatment in the hiring process by ensuring increasing transparency and access to employment opportunities for all workers, including newcomers; (3) creating enhanced worker protections by strengthening employment standards and health and safety protections and supporting injured workers; and (4) encouraging labour market mobility by removing barriers to accessing good jobs/pathways in regulated professions and compulsory trades.

Our government is giving workers the help they need to find better jobs and bigger paycheques, while having their privacy protected.

That is why Ontario is proposing legislative changes that would require businesses to include salaries in job postings, giving workers more information to make decisions that benefit them. In 2022, only 30% of online job postings had salary information in Ontario. Pay transparency has become more common as workers desire open discussions about their wages while they are facing rising costs of living and ongoing pay discrepancies. If the legislation is passed and proclaimed, Ontario employers will be required to include expected salary ranges on all publicly advertised job postings. This is one step towards closing the gender pay gap, as research shows women in Ontario earned an average of 87 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Cathy Taylor, executive director of the Ontario Nonprofit Network, said, “Our research indicates that pay transparency is a key decent work practice that supports the recruitment and retention of top talent. Ontario’s non-profit sector employs 844,000 workers, 77% of whom are women, and we know that equitable compensation practices such as pay transparency can help reduce the gender wage gap and address systemic barriers that women, especially equity-deserving women, face in compensation. When salary ranges are disclosed on postings, job seekers have an easier time identifying whether the position and its compensation are the right fit while also supporting effective and streamlined recruitment processes for employers. We applaud the Ministry of Labour for taking this important step forward to embed decent work practices in legislation.”

In addition, our government is proposing to require employers to disclose if artificial intelligence—AI—is being used during the hiring process, giving workers more information to make informed decisions in their career search. With the increasing use of AI to streamline candidate selection and the historical pay differences between men, women and those from under-represented groups, we are taking action to ensure our province can tackle the labour shortage and job seekers get a fair shot at the Ontario dream.

In February of this year, 6.6% of businesses in Ontario were planning to adopt AI over the next 12 months. This number will likely increase over the coming months and years. The fact is, governments have a responsibility to keep up with evolving technologies. AI technologies can adopt harmful biases and decision-making that even their owners don’t properly understand. Algorithms generate high volumes of personal data about applicants and employees. As employment decisions affect people’s lives, job seekers should be informed when automated systems are being used to make hiring decisions.

Christin Cullen, CEO of the John Howard Society of Ontario, said, “The John Howard Society offices across Ontario specialize in assisting job seekers facing multiple barriers in finding employment. A transparent recruitment process is crucial to ensuring that applicants are well informed and have the tools they need to make decisions about their careers, which is why we welcome the Ontario government’s initiative to introduce legislation that requires employers to provide more comprehensive details in job postings, enhancing applicants’ access to information surrounding the hiring process.”

Thirdly, to help end workplace misconduct and hold abusers to account, our government is proposing to conduct consultations and detailed analysis on the use of non-disclosure agreements—NDAs—in the settlement of cases of workplace sexual harassment, misconduct or violence. The consultation would identify legislative options to restrict the use of NDAs while protecting the rights of victims and survivors. Ninety-four per cent of Canadian Bar Association members recently voted in favour of discouraging the widespread use of NDAs in settlement of cases of harassment and discrimination.

There are concerns within the legal and survivor communities about the adverse impact of using NDAs. Signing an NDA could prevent survivors from talking about their experience and protect perpetrators unjustifiably. However, prohibiting or limiting NDAs could be a disincentive to settlement, forcing more matters of this nature to litigation. Consultation with the legal community, survivors and employers would support a more complete assessment of risk and benefits.

Additionally, our government is introducing legislation that would, if passed, support injured workers by enabling super indexing increases to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board—WSIB—benefits, above the annual rate of inflation. What this means is that for an injured worker who earns $70,000 a year, a 2% increase could mean an additional $900 annually on top of the cost-of-living adjustments, which were 6.5% in 2023.

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The proposed super-indexing amendment to the WSIB would, if passed, enable the government to make regulations setting out additional indexation increases and the dates on which they are to be imposed. This would require the board to apply the prescribed increases to benefit amounts—increasing the money injured workers receive. The proposal would deliver on our government’s public commitment to increase WSIB benefit payments to injured workers and survivors. This increases fairness to these recipients and helps them at a time of rising costs.

Ontario is also improving cancer coverage for firefighters and fire investigators by lowering the employment period needed to receive presumed compensation when diagnosed with esophageal cancer from 25 to 15 years. This means a firefighter with 24 years of service would no longer have to contest that their cancer was connected to their employment, giving them faster access to WSIB benefits and other critical services. Firefighters are everyday heroes, and they deserve our support. We are taking action to assist our brave firefighters and fire investigators dealing with cancer after workplace exposure to cancer-causing substances and chemicals.

On November 9, I attended the 2023 Central York Fire Services recognition ceremony in Aurora. It was an amazing event, so well attended by our local Newmarket and Aurora firefighters, their families, as well as local dignitaries, all in support of our local firefighters. I was so honoured to be there to recognize newly hired staff, federal exemplary service medals and bars, as well as the provincial long service medals and bars. These individuals choose a higher-risk profession. They are a unique brand of people who voluntarily place themselves in harm’s way in service for others.

As Edward Croker, the fire chief of the New York City Fire Department at the end of the 19th century, recognized, “When a person becomes a firefighter their greatest act of bravery is accomplished. What they do after is all in the line of duty.”

I also recognize the families for their unwavering support. It may not seem like a lot, but without their support, the firefighters could not make the difference that they have made and continue to make for the benefit of our community members.

After the ceremony, I had a conversation with Jason Beuving, president of the Central York Professional Firefighters Association, who was pleased with the minister’s announcement the day before regarding the improvements being proposed: “We’re very thankful to this government for recognizing that our current legislation needs to be amended. Reducing the latency period from 25 years to 15 years means the fallen firefighter’s death is recognized as a line of duty death and ensures that they, and their families, will have security moving forward should they succumb to esophageal cancer.”

I would also like to highlight the feedback I received from Ian Laing, fire chief of Central York Fire Services: “Firefighters are dedicated to serving their communities, and unfortunately, despite continually evolving safety measures, this job puts them at risk for various types of cancers. Continued support and enhanced policies that further protect the firefighters that put their life on the line to protect us all is very important. I am proud that Central York Fire Services recently introduced a wellness program that promotes early detection of medical issues. The program offers all firefighters an extensive annual medical exam based on the unique risks and adverse working environments that firefighters face daily.”

Furthermore, to help workers dealing with a critical illness, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development will be launching consultations on a new job-protected leave to match the length of federal employment insurance sickness benefits, which is 26 weeks. Currently, under the Employment Standards Act, employees are entitled to three days of unpaid sick leave per year for personal illness, injury or medical emergency.

Also, the ESA currently provides unpaid job-protected critical illness leave for employees to care for specified family members with a critical illness. However, it does not apply to employees with a personal critical illness. A job-protected leave could ensure workers who receive a diagnosis of cancer or other diseases peace of mind, while they seek treatment, that their job will be there for them when they return.

If approved, these changes would expand on the groundbreaking actions the government has taken under the Working for Workers Acts, 2021, 2022 and 2023, that are already helping millions of people by introducing more leading-edge, pro-worker supports to help workers earn more, increase protections, and support newcomers.

Speaker, Ontario is facing a historic labour shortage, with nearly 250,000 jobs unfilled, which is costing billions in lost output. At the same time, only a quarter of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario work in the regulated professions they are trained for. To build a stronger province that works for everyone, we need newcomers with experience in health care, skilled trades and other critical sectors to be able to contribute when they arrive in Ontario. Our government could be earning $12 billion to $20 billion of GDP growth in each year by 2025 by closing unemployment and increasing participation rate gaps for recent immigrants in Ontario’s labour market. That is why our government is leading the country with proposed changes to help internationally trained immigrants work in the fields they’ve studied in, to build stronger communities for all of us.

After introducing historic legislation that banned regulated professions from requiring Canadian work experience in more than 30 occupations, we are introducing new legislation to prohibit Canadian work experience requirements in job ads or application forms. If you have work experience, regardless of which country you obtained it from, you should have a fair shot at being considered in a job interview. We want employers to hire the best candidates, and too many are unfortunately screening some of these options out before they’ve had a fair chance to be considered. Our government intends to introduce legislation that would, if passed, amend the ESA to prohibit employers from including a requirement for prior Canadian work experience in job ads or application forms. The proposed change, if passed, would ensure that prospective employees with the knowledge, skills and abilities to perform a job are not screened out during the initial stage of hiring.

In addition, these changes would, if passed, make it easier for international students learning in our province to qualify for the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, and improve oversight and accountability of how regulated professions like engineers, architects and geologists use third-party companies to assess international credentials, to ensure it’s done quickly and fairly.

Together, these changes will help thousands of otherwise qualified professionals pursue their dreams over the coming years, all while maintaining Ontario’s world-class licensing and exam requirements.

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Also, our government is proposing several changes that would help the over 400,000 people in the restaurant and hospitality industry by updating the province’s Employment Standards Act, including by banning unpaid trial shifts and making clear employers can never deduct an employee’s wages in the event of a dine and dash, gas and dash or any other stolen property. No worker should have their pay deducted or see themselves put in harm’s way because someone else is breaking the law.

Dine and dash is more common than we might think it to be. Studies have found that one in 20 customers have dined at a restaurant and left without paying. Recent media coverage has shown that many restaurant owners in Ontario are unaware that they are not allowed to deduct employees’ wages for unpaid meals. While Ontario’s laws generally require employees to be paid for all hours worked and prohibit pay deductions, unpaid trial shifts and punitive deductions are still common in the restaurant and service industries.

While employees are generally prohibited from deducting wages, too many workers are unaware of their rights. This change would amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000, to send a clear message that deductions from wages for property stolen by customers, like in dining and dashing, are prohibited.

Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, along with his two parliamentary assistants, for their remarks last week on this great bill that reiterates our government’s commitment to working for workers.

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

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I listened to the comments from the member for Newmarket–Aurora, and one of the provisions of this bill that she didn’t mention is around the new requirement for employers to post information about compensation levels. I’d just like to ask the member whether she is aware that in 2018 this Legislature debated a bill called the Pay Transparency Act. We passed that bill. That bill went to committee. It came back much stronger, with great amendments. It was passed at third reading. It got royal assent. It is sitting somewhere in the back rooms of this Legislature waiting to be proclaimed to provide real pay transparency for women in this province to close the gender wage gap. Why is this government not proclaiming the Pay Transparency Act?

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Madam Speaker, through you to the member, yes, I did speak about the salary transparency, because we know that pay transparency has become more common as workers desire open discussions about their wages. They want to see and they want to discuss these wages. This is why we are proposing this in this legislation, because we firmly believe that everyone deserves to be paid fairly for the work that they do.

One of the steps—and I did mention this in my speech—is closing the gender pay gap. Research shows women in Ontario earn an average of 87 cents for every dollar earned by a man. So, yes, in this legislation we are moving forward with the salary transparency.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further questions?

Mr. John Yakabuski: I want to thank my colleague from Newmarket–Aurora for her very significant speech on this. She covered all of those important changes. This bill builds upon Working for Workers 1, 2 and 3, and now we have Working for Workers Four. It’s no surprise, I say to my colleague, that labour all across this province is migrating to us, as the party that understands and represents and wants to deal with their needs. It’s a tremendous victory for workers in Ontario that they’re now joining with us. Unfortunately, the opposition continues to crow about something that didn’t happen five years ago.

But I do want to ask on the issue of our brave firefighters and the presumptive illness section on esophageal cancer, and the changes and how that is going to affect our brave first responders here in the province of Ontario.

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Thank you to my colleague for the great question, and it is significant.

Speaker, through you, as I noted just a couple of weeks ago, I attended the exemplary awards recognitions for our firefighters. This was held, in fact, the day after our announcement, and there was such wonderful feedback. When I spoke with many of the firefighters at this event, they thanked me, their families thanked me, because you know what? It’s the families behind the firefighters—they are the ones supporting them. While they go out and fight fires, they are caring for their families.

So this is so important. If this happens to a firefighter, we’re not just talking about the care of the firefighter, we’re talking about the care of the family. That’s why I’m so proud of our government with what we are doing with esophageal cancer and recognizing that as one of these presumed cancers and lessening the time from 25 years to 15 years.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further questions?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I’d like to ask the member for Newmarket–Aurora again about the provisions in the bill that require employers to post information about compensation levels compared to the fulsome package measures that were included in the Pay Transparency Act, 2018, which is simply waiting to be proclaimed. That bill included a prohibition on reprisals against employees who may be seeking or sharing wage information. It prohibited employers from asking applicants about compensation history. It required annual pay transparency reports from employers with financial penalties for employers who don’t comply. It applied to all employees at all wage levels. Why is the government using this watered-down, weak measure in this bill instead of proclaiming the Pay Transparency Act?

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: To the member from London West: I did want to speak about this proposal, if I compare it to other jurisdictions. In Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and most recently in British Columbia, they have passed various forms of pay transparency laws requiring private sector employees to publish pay information in job postings. That’s exactly what Ontario is doing.

In New York, Colorado, Washington and California, they have also enacted similar pay transparency laws. So, if approved, there will be limited administrative costs for employers, but it will ensure salary disclosure is added to the job ad templates.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further questions?

Mrs. Robin Martin: Thank you to my colleague from Newmarket–Aurora for her excellent comments today on Working for Workers Four. The thing that I’m most excited about in all of these things we’re doing to help workers is helping newcomers who we desperately need to have working to their potential, not to mention the fact that a lot of immigrants come here from all over the world, they bring their skills, they bring their hopes and dreams and it’s wonderful to see people be able to realize those hopes and dreams.

I think this is something so important, so I wanted to ask the member from Newmarket–Aurora if she could elaborate on what the government is doing that will help job seekers who are newcomers who can contribute to Ontario’s economy, and give us a little more detail on that.

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Thank you to the member from Eglinton–Lawrence for that question, and through you, Speaker, if you have job experience, it doesn’t matter where you come from, you have that job experience and you should have a fair shot at getting your foot in the door. It’s that simple.

Speaker, I’ll give you an example that’s close to me: my husband. My husband is an American, and he came to live in Canada with me, and when he was applying for jobs, even though he had 40 years of experience in manufacturing, he had the hardest time. He said to me, “I can’t believe that when you have this much experience, all they’re focused on is Canadian-relevant experience.” So what we are doing—well, it would help my husband, who’s retired now. In any case, it’s going to help the people who are coming to this country so we can—

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The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Thank you. Further questions?

Mr. Joel Harden: I was listening closely to the member from Newmarket–Aurora.

Something that I want to comment on, as the transit critic for the province reflecting on this piece of legislation: While I think it’s great the government wants to do efforts—there are many sequels to this effort, four—I would like to see a commitment to workers in this province spread across all the legislation of this government.

I’m thinking, in particular, of a bus driver in Hamilton whose name is Cassie Theaker. ATU 107 just got a tentative agreement, but they had to fight and struggle in that city. Cassie told the crowd on a picket line that she can no longer feed her kids, pay the rent and drive a bus in the city of Hamilton. If this government, in this legislation—if it was connected to operational transit funding, Cassie could feed her kids.

My question is, what is the member’s message to Cassie? Today is she going to call for what transit authorities are calling for: the government investing $500 million in transit to make—

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

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Thank you to the member opposite. Obviously, I don’t know the specifics of his specific constituent.

Injured workers in Ontario definitely deserve the supports to recover, and by introducing this legislation, if passed, it would support injured workers, enabling the super-indexing of increases for WSIB. And it will go above the annual rate of inflation. I’ll give you an example. For an injured worker who earns—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Thank you. Your time is up.

Further debate?

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: It’s my pleasure to rise and speak to Bill 149, which is the government’s fourth kick at the can at bringing forward legislation when it comes to workers in the province of Ontario. What’s interesting is, there are some things in this bill that the NDP were talking about before the government drafted the first bill. One can only draw the conclusion that had the government actually consulted labour, consulted the workers and the unions in this province before even the first bill, we wouldn’t be to the point where there’s now a fourth bill—we wouldn’t have needed a second bill; we wouldn’t have needed a third. If they had just actually consulted with labour—we heard from workers and unions around this province that this government didn’t do that. They didn’t actually talk to the workers in this province to find out what was needed.

Speaker, I’m going to start by briefly talking about anti-scab labour legislation, which is glaringly missing from this fourth bill. It’s something that we, as New Democrats, passed during an NDP government and that the next Conservative government immediately ripped up. We have had 16 attempts now, through successive Liberal and Conservative governments, to bring back anti-scab legislation, and every single one of those times the Conservatives voted against it. They’ll have another opportunity tomorrow to support our bill, when it’s debated, and I would hope they would do that, because that would be working for workers.

The member for Glengarry–Prescott–Russell and the member for Newmarket–Aurora talked a lot about firefighters and presumptive legislation, the important work the firefighters do, the life-saving work firefighters do, and I don’t think anybody in this House is going to argue with those facts. Nobody is going to argue with those facts. But what I don’t hear the government talking about and what is not in this bill is women workers who are in abusive partnerships, intimate partner violence and the lack of supports for women and their children to be able to leave that abusive situation and to have financial stability, to have the mental health supports that they need in a connected and timely manner, to have access to a shelter bed while they wait for transitional or permanent housing.

They were talking about closing the gender pay gap, but the workers that work within the women’s shelters—those shelters are so underfunded, so incredibly underfunded, and they need very specialized, highly trained people to work with the women and children that come through their doors seeking help. The barriers and the issues that women who are fleeing intimate partner violence or children—their needs are incredibly complex, and the workers that are supposed to be there to support them need very highly specialized training. But these shelters don’t receive enough funding from the government, and so they can’t pay these workers the wage that they deserve. In my community, they don’t even make a living wage.

It is a revolving door of workers because the work is intense and it’s difficult physically, mentally, emotionally. So it’s a revolving door of workers. They have trouble recruiting and retaining workers because you can’t even live off of $17 an hour. You can’t. You certainly can’t buy a home, and good luck finding a place that you can rent because this government cut rent control. You can’t pay for a place to live and feed yourself and your family, so many of these workers end up at a food bank. Imagine that: These are people who dedicate their lives because they love what they do, supporting these women and children, and this government doesn’t think they’re worth even a living wage—not even a living wage.

We have a repair backlog in our not-for-profit affordable social housing in Windsor. Five per cent of social housing in Windsor is uninhabitable because this government won’t fund it—5%. Those are housing units that women and children fleeing domestic violence would be placed in—a home of their own. Can’t use those units. In a housing crisis, this government will not fund the repairs of those units. Last year alone, 31 of the non-profits that run these non-profit affordable social housing units needed more than $26 million just to do repairs for that year. This government gave them less than one sixth of that.

So when we’re talking about working for workers and they want to stand over there—and the member from Newmarket–Aurora talked about non-disclosure agreements for workplace harassment—what are you doing in this bill or anywhere else to actually support women to get out of abusive situations? Speaker, this year, in the last 12 months alone, we have had two women murdered by their spouses, one just within the last two weeks, because there was nowhere for them to go.

These shelters are over capacity. They have done everything that they possibly can. They’re putting women and children in hotel rooms—which they are not funded for, by the way—and are expected to then go and provide food and give them access to these workers that will help try and connect them to the other supports and services they need: the mental health supports that they need, the housing and the food supports that they need. The children, if they have learning disabilities or developmental disabilities—they’re expected to go in there and help with that, but the province doesn’t fund it.

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What the province is doing, what this Conservative government is doing, is downloading more and more expectations and responsibilities onto these shelters. There’s no really relevant protected, paid leave for women workers to acknowledge that when they are in an abusive situation or when they are fleeing domestic violence—either on their own or, if they have children, taking their children with them—there’s nothing in this bill or the previous three that addresses the financial precarity those women are in. There’s nothing. And if they need time off work, there are no permanent paid sick days for them to be able to stay home and take care of their children, and deal with the complex issues that those children will be dealing with fleeing domestic violence. There is nothing to ensure that the people who need it the most, the most vulnerable, will actually get the supports and services they need. There’s nothing.

We often talk—the government side does too—about, “You have to recognize intimate partner violence. You need to seek help. We’ve got these different organizations that will help you.” But they don’t fund it. They don’t fund it adequately. And when you’re not paying the highly specialized workers that work at these domestic abuse shelters, when you’re not paying them a living wage, how do you expect them to be able to support the women who are fleeing domestic violence? How do you expect them to do that?

So while I had said earlier—the members opposite were talking about firefighters and the incredibly difficult, physically, mentally, emotionally demanding jobs that they do, and how they save lives. Recognize that the women that work within the sector that support women and children fleeing domestic violence—recognize that their work is physically, emotionally and mentally demanding, and the work they do also saves lives.

Speaker, it’s getting really—it’s so incredibly frustrating that we hear the government constantly talking about supporting workers, supporting women. The reality is that it is 2023—nearly 2024—and women are still having debates about their value: their value to society, their value in the workforce. What is it going to take for this government to actually take it seriously, to actually do something, to actually give a damn?

Because in the meantime, they are continuing, perpetuating, a cycle of women living in poverty, women staying in abusive situations because they feel they have no other option, because they can’t take time off of work to deal with the complexities of the situation that they’re trying to flee. They can’t stay home and support their children. They can’t get access to affordable housing, so if they leave their partner, they could be living on the street.

So I’m going to ask: At what point do the lives of women actually matter to the government? When do they actually matter? There have been 55 femicides in the last two years; 55 women have died as a result of intimate partner violence, because they didn’t have the resources, thanks to the government, to be able to flee the situation—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Thank you to the member. We’ll continue debate after.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

Report, Financial Accountability Officer

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): I beg to inform the House that the following document has been tabled: a report entitled Costing Climate Change Impacts to Public Infrastructure: Summary Report, from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario.

Members’ Statements

Women’s Centre of York Region

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: I am pleased to highlight an even that took place last month in my great riding of Newmarket–Aurora. I was honoured to welcome the Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity to Newmarket to visit the Women’s Centre of York Region. This non-profit is one of 10 sites that this government has invested $6.9 million over three years in the expansion of the Investing in Women’s Futures Program. The goal of this program is to help more women who experience social and economic barriers to connect to supports and develop the skills they need to gain financial security and independence.

There are now 33 service delivery locations across this province, and to date the program has already yielded significant results. In 2022-23, this program assisted nearly 1,300 women across Ontario in securing employment, launching their own business or pursuing further training and education.

For more than 45 years, the Women’s Centre of York Region has been a beacon of empowerment for women in York region, and I was proud to announce that they are the recipient of $325,000 of this funding to help the women in our region reach their full potential. Thank you to the York region women.

Highway safety

Mr. John Vanthof: This government has repeatedly said that Ontario has the safest roads in North America, and the Liberals always said that, too. But I can assure you that Highway 11, the Trans-Canada Highway—the two-lane from North Bay north—is not the safest road in North America, not the safest road in Ontario, and it’s the Trans-Canada Highway. The trucks that cross the country go through that.

I’ll tell you what happens on the Trans-Canada Highway north of North Bay. I was driving here on Sunday afternoon, but Sunday morning—oh, highway’s closed. It snowed—highway’s closed. When the highway opened again, I got there—transport on its side, it’s one lane. You know what the highway north of North Bay is right now, or at least half an hour ago? Closed. Closed again—again. This is the Trans-Canada Highway—another major accident.

There are things we can do: Make sure there’s places for trucks to park—that was announced years ago—not done; make sure that the people who are on those roads are actually trained to drive on those roads—again, it’s not happening. It’s not happening.

It is not the safest road in North America. It’s not the safest road in Ontario and everyone knows it. And it’s our main street, and people are dying because of it. Come on. Let’s get going.

Child care

Mr. Mike Harris: It was a pleasure to join the Minister of Education as well as my colleague the member for Cambridge in Kitchener on Friday for an important announcement. Our government will be opening 3,725 new child spaces in Waterloo region by 2026. This represents a nearly 25% increase in child care spaces which our government will deliver over the next three years.

The region of Waterloo has said that growing wait-lists have become a concern for every centre in the area, and obviously, this is great news for families in my riding of Kitchener–Conestoga and, of course, across our region. These new spaces will be part of the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care system, which includes a mix of not-for-profit and for-profit centres.

I want to applaud the Minister of Education and his hard-working team for this initiative.

Keeping options open for parents and communities is a key goal of the government of Ontario to provide families with choice and flexibility. This flexibility makes sense, especially in small towns, which is often where child care spaces are needed the most. That includes Wilmot, Wellesley and Woolwich townships, which are all listed as priority areas under our plan.

We remain committed to delivering more affordable and accessible child care spaces across the province.

Gender-based violence

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Gender-based violence in Ontario is an epidemic. While several city and town councils acknowledge this, the Conservative government won’t. The longer they don’t acknowledge gender-based violence, the more women will be assaulted and killed by intimate partners.

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Domestic violence and abuse can often be denied, minimized or overlooked by many. Awareness campaigns are so important to ensure everyone can spot the signs of domestic violence. Recognizing abuse is the first step toward saving women’s lives.

In Windsor, I’m grateful for the Shine the Light campaign that Hiatus House organizes every year, where they shine the light on domestic violence and abuse, acknowledge and commemorate the victims and provide much-needed supports.

Every woman and child in Windsor and across the province of Ontario deserves a life free from abuse. We must advocate on behalf of those whose voices have been silenced by abuse. This is why the Ontario NDP has continued to call on the Premier of Ontario to act and declare intimate partner violence an epidemic in Ontario.

I want to take a moment to remember Sahra Bulle and Janice Madison, two Windsor women whose lives were cut short by their spouses in tragic losses this year. Janice was just stabbed to death by her husband within the last two weeks. Their loss is felt by all who knew them and our entire community. My thoughts are with their families and loved ones.

But, Speaker, thoughts aren’t enough. We know that, tragically, gender-based violence and femicide are on the rise, and we are long overdue for urgent change and action. The government will continue to fail women and victims of gender-based violence across the province by not acknowledging the urgency of this issue. The government has to act now.

Diwali

Mr. Logan Kanapathi: Last week, I had the privilege of attending two Diwali events in Markham and Richmond Hill, hosted by the Ontario Telugu Foundation and the Armadale seniors wellness club. Through gatherings like these, we strengthen the bonds of family and friendship, fostering a sense of unity and a sense of celebration.

Deepavali is a festival of light, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. It urges us to cleanse our inner selves and cast away the burdens of ego, jealousy and pride. As we illuminate our diyas, we let the radiance not only brighten our homes but also illuminate our hearts and minds.

In these unprecedented and challenging times, Deepavali serves as a guiding light, reminding us of the importance of friendships, compassion and understanding in overcoming adversities. As we navigate these uncertain times, may the spirit of Deepavali inspire us to spread love, light and positivity in our communities and to the world as well.

Thank you to the Ontario Telugu Foundation and the Armadale seniors wellness club for organizing this meaningful, wonderful celebration. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Nurses

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: We all know our health care system hinges on a well-staffed, well-earning, well-supported nursing workforce, but the nurses I speak to are at the end of their rope.

Despite feeling a true calling to the vocation of nursing and dedicating their lives and careers to helping others, these nurses are leaving the sector in droves because they feel overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. They face violence in the workplace, long hours, irregular shifts and constant shortages. This is untenable and downright dangerous.

One nurse said to me, “If I could go back and choose a different career, I would. Our managers try to support us the best way they can, but the issues in the system are so widespread that it is impossible to make meaningful change in working conditions. And at the end of day, I can quit my job and move on, but patients are stuck in a broken system and will continue to suffer.”

Unfortunately, there are many ways in which the system is broken, but there are also many ways in which we can fix it. Stop fighting health care workers in the court system and repeal Bill 124. Another solution would be to address the agency bill that my colleagues have brought forward in order to make sure that the agencies are not paying wages higher than replacement workers who are on this floor. Make sure nurses get the respect they deserve, and make health care work for patients and not for profits. Thank you, Speaker.

Anti-Semitism

Mrs. Robin Martin: There is news today that some of the hostages held by Hamas for 46 days may be released in an exchange, and I pray that those who will be released—I pray some will be released, but I hope that those who will be released include the babies and children who are being held up until this point in time, and especially the niece, Ofer, 10 years old, and nephews, Yuval, eight, and Oria, four, of a constituent in my riding.

Last week, students at a Jewish elementary school in Toronto were evacuated due to a bomb threat, and regular customers of a Starbucks location in my riding found the store windows covered with anti-Semitic graffiti. This is not normal, and it cannot become normal. Each of us has a responsibility to condemn anti-Semitism and all the acts of hate within our province.

The Toronto Police Service has been an invaluable partner in responding to these incidents and others, and my office continues to receive messages expressing thanks for their protection and the government’s introduction of mandatory Holocaust education in the Ontario curriculum, as well as our recognition of Israel’s right to defend itself and the right of Jewish Ontarians to live without fear in this province.

Since the terrible events of October 7, my office has received countless emails from constituents concerning a common theme: “I am deeply concerned for the safety of my family and our community.”

I reiterate that these events are not normal. They cannot become normal. To live in a province where these displays of intolerance occur unopposed and become commonplace is unthinkable. Today, tomorrow and always, we must condemn anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it happens.

Applause.

Public transit

Mr. Vincent Ke: Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Metrolinx for their great work in a series of consultations allowing local residents to share their input on the Sheppard extension project that will have a lasting impact on the future of transit in our city.

When I spoke with my constituents at their doors in Don Valley North during my 2018 and 2022 campaigns, public transit tended to be a topic of great interest. We had many meaningful discussions on a subway option as well as LRT, and current commute challenges that both transit riders and drivers are facing. They expressed overwhelming support and eagerness for the Sheppard subway line extension.

For those who missed last week’s in-person consultations, they can visit my website, vincentkempp.com, for information on the first round of Metrolinx public consultations that remain open to comment through December 7. I encourage the residents of Don Valley North and anyone interested to participate in this important consultation.

Professional engineers

Ms. Natalie Pierre: Recently, I attended the Hamilton-Burlington chapter of Professional Engineers Ontario’s fall certificate ceremony. This ceremony marked the licensure of approximately 20 individuals who will embark on their professional engineering career right here in Ontario.

Engineering is built into everything we do. From the vehicles we drive to the technology in our pockets, engineering is the backbone of modern society.

Last year, high school courses in science, technology, engineering and math were updated to ensure students have the cutting-edge digital literacy and technological skills to lead the global innovations of today and tomorrow. Every year, more than 65,000 students graduate from STEM programs. By modernizing the STEM and skilled programs, our province is able to grow businesses that continue to innovate and thrive.

In May of this year, Professional Engineers Ontario became the first regulated profession to remove Canadian work experience from their registration criteria, allowing more skilled workers to enter into their trades without the requirement for Canadian work experience. I’d like to congratulate PEO for taking this historic step and leading the way as Ontario welcomes thousands of new skilled workers every year.

Thank you to Professional Engineers Ontario for ensuring the advancement of engineers in our province.

Dundas Manor

Mr. Nolan Quinn: Today, I’d like to acknowledge the hard work of the community of Dundas county and the Winchester District Memorial Hospital Foundation as they help raise funds for the building of the new Dundas Manor. The committee has been raising funds for years for the building of a new state-of-the-art facility to help support and better serve patients and residents within our community.

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Part of the fundraising efforts to build a new Dundas Manor is their campaign called Expanding the Circle of Compassionate Care, which holds events to reach this end. One such event was the manor’s 45th anniversary held on Saturday, November 18, or, as it was appropriately named, the Sapphires and Snowflakes evening. The special evening was held at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners. Tickets were sold for $78, as Dundas Manor originally opened in 1978. We had a great, fun evening filled with delicious cocktails and charcuterie. The event included a live auction and excellent entertainment by comedy/musical duo Bowser and Blue, all in the efforts of supporting a new Dundas Manor. I’m proud to say that the event raised $155,000.

Our government is also committed to this project, as we have given Dundas Manor approval to construct. This means the new Dundas Manor can build the 128-bed home they have been raising funds for, allowing seniors to stay in the community they helped build.

Thank you to the organizers and all the staff at Dundas Manor for their work not only in organizing the event but for the wonderful care they provide our seniors.

Introduction of Visitors

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: I have several individuals here today to celebrate National Housing Day: Shulan Tien, Jennifer Stone, Gracie Robbin, Rachel Seaward, Marlene Ham, Frederick Cox, Glen Hutzul, Chanel St. Pierre, Reihona Abduli, Shannon Hirsch, Silvia Samsa, Andrea Hatala, Victor Willis, Kevin Thomas, Karen Mitton, Bailee, Melissa Bosman, and Hayley Wine. Welcome to your House.

Hon. Kinga Surma: I want to announce that Martel Spracklin from grade 8 is a page captain today. He’s from my riding, the best riding in Ontario, Etobicoke Centre.

Ms. Marit Stiles: Today is National Housing Day, and we are very happy that we’re being joined by a number of advocates, including some very important organizations: Street Haven, Ontario Coalition of Women Shelter and Supportive Housing Providers, Elizabeth Fry Society of Northeastern Ontario, Rwandan Canadian Healing Centre, United Way Greater Toronto, and Evangel Hall among them.

I’m looking forward to speaking at your reception later today.

Ms. Stephanie Bowman: I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize legislative page Harris Elahi, as well as his grandparents who are visiting today: Parveen Elahi and Hazoor Elahi. Thank you for your service these past two weeks. All the best.

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: I have two groups I’d like to introduce today, so if members can hold their applause till the end, that would be appreciated.

As parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health, I’d like to introduce Bev Moir, Ron Foreman, Winky Yau, and Julia Kulczyski of Lung Cancer Canada to the Legislature.

As well, I am pleased to recognize and introduce members of the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs who are with us today: Michael Sanderson, president, city of Hamilton chief; Neal Roberts, past president, Middlesex county chief; Mike Nolan, first vice-president, Renfrew county chief; Jean Carriere, secretary, Cochrane district chief; Gale Chevalier, zone director, Frontenac county chief; Greg Sage, second vice-president, region of Halton chief; Travis Mellema, zone director, Lanark county chief; and Paul Charbonneau, executive director.

Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Wayne Gates: I’d like to welcome, from Niagara Health Coalition and Fort Erie Healthcare SOS, Deb Tveit, Natalie Mehra, Heather Kelley, Sue Hotte, Julia Lucas, Julia Blusak, Cheryl Grell, George Ashton and Amy Tian. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Michael Mantha: Good Roads representatives are here today. They’re going to be having an awesome reception tonight. This morning I had the privilege of meeting up with Paul Schoppmann, past president of Good Roads; Councillor Kristin Murray from Timmins; Scott Butler, the executive director of Good Roads, and the very excellent mayor out of Hornepayne, Mayor Cheryl Fort. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Michael D. Ford: Good morning, colleagues. It’s a pleasure to welcome to the Legislature today students and staff from Weston Memorial, from the riding of York South–Weston.

Mr. Chris Glover: There are a number of advocates for housing here on National Housing Day today. I’d like to welcome to the House Fabio Faveri, Merve Degerli, Jason Dwyer, Matt McDonald, Diana Yoon, Amber Bramer, Sarah Boesveld, Martha Beach, Olivia Thomas and Alexandra Shannan. Welcome to your House.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I also want to introduce as well, again, Chief Mike Nolan from the Renfrew county paramedics, here with the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs; and also Liana Sullivan and Allison Kenney, who are here today with MacKay Manor in Renfrew for National Housing Day. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I will continue with introduction of visitors, unless there’s an objection.

Miss Monique Taylor: I also would like to invite some folks who are here today for National Housing Day: Savhanna Wilson, Peter Martin, Daniella Leacock, Tracy Murdoch, Leslie R. Gash, Steve Lurie, Dicle Han, Harmy Mendoza, Eric Mariglia and Floret Williams. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Nolan Quinn: I’m always excited when somebody comes from eastern Ontario. I’d like to welcome the mayor of Cornwall, Justin Towndale, who’s here for Good Roads.

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: Good morning, Speaker. I’m also very proud to rise in the House today to welcome a number of housing advocates. They’ve travelled from across Ontario. I’d like to welcome Genna Ross, Jenna Yuill, Brian Harris, Beth Edwards, Bobbie Gunn, Cynthia Meshorer, Laura Paley, Sameer Butt, Shannan Humphreys and Dr. Siu Mee Cheng from Street Haven.

Hon. Todd J. McCarthy: I’d like to welcome to the House today a great barrister in the province of Ontario who has appeared in every level of court up to the Supreme Court of Canada, and a great friend, Paul McDonald.

I’d also like to welcome Tony Stolk, a great resident of Durham region and a great community activist.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: It’s my pleasure to also welcome housing advocates: Kenneth Duru, Mary Ziraba, Shenikah Solomon, Marlene Coffey, Kizito Musabimana and Tabitha Gachoka. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. John Jordan: I also welcome Travis Mellema, chief of Lanark county paramedics, along with Mike Nolan—champions for the community paramedic program.

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: It’s my honour to welcome housing advocates from across the province for our National Housing Day: Bradley Palmer, Mariana Cortes, Aishatu Ahmed, Ibrahim Elnaghi, Godfrey Benjamin, Keneisha Brown, Colleen Lamond, Soraya Naim and Gautam Mukherjee. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Ross Romano: On behalf of our Associate Minister of Housing, he has asked me to please extend, and I’d like to extend my welcome, to Neal Roberts, the chief of the Middlesex London Paramedic Service, who is here to join us today at Queen’s Park.

M. Guy Bourgouin: Je voudrais aussi souhaiter la bienvenue aux personnes qui sont ici pour National Housing Day : Nicola Andrews, Aishwarya Minocha, Naima Badru, Bee Lee Soh, Vee Gandhi, Talisa Beaudoin, Belinda Marchese, Kegan Harris and Helen Armstrong. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

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Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: I would like to introduce my good friend Dr. Mitra Kafle and his wife Durga Kafle, parents of our legislative usher Justin Kafle. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: I’d like to introduce Lyn Adamson, Sarah Spinks, Kate Azure and Gail Fairley, here from Seniors for Climate Action Now.

Ms. Jessica Bell: For National Housing Day, we have many people here—it’s great to have you here—including Narmatha Vannarajah, Krishni Ganesan, Janet Bennett-Cox, David Turnbull, Roslyn Shields, Sean Kidd, Josephine Flores, Sheila Lacroix and Althea Santos. It’s great to have you here.

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: I want to welcome the Good Roads Association to Queen’s Park today. I want to thank their president, John Parsons; Scott Butler, executive director and manager of government relations; and Thomas Barakat, for the great work they do. I also invite members to join their reception this evening.

Mr. Joel Harden: I want to join with the minister to stand in thanking Good Roads and all the fantastic work they do, and invite all members of this House to go to the Good Roads reception at 5 o’clock. Thank you for everything you do, Good Roads.

Mr. Jeff Burch: I’d like to welcome housing advocates Mina Mawani, Zefanie Smith, Lori-Dale Palmer, Cory Roslyn, Laverne Blake, Anna Morgan, Britney Bempong, Ainsley Chapman, Farrah Al-Mutawa and Don Young. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Catherine Fife: For National Housing Day, I’d like to welcome Jean Stevenson, Jyoti, Elsie Dickson, Tim Maxwell, Wilhelmine Babua, Allison Kenney, Liana Sullivan, Roberta Taylor, Rahima, and Laeya Choi. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That concludes our introduction of visitors for this morning.

Question Period

Housing

Ms. Marit Stiles: Today is the National Day of Housing and I want to acknowledge the advocacy of the many people and organizations who are taking action today.

This question is for the Premier. Ontario’s housing crisis has many causes, but I want to focus on three. The first: exclusionary zoning and the outdated planning rules that actually make it illegal to build homes people can afford in the neighbourhoods they want to live in. Ending exclusionary zoning was a top recommendation of the government’s own Housing Affordability Task Force.

So, Speaker, to the Premier: Instead of taking those recommendations, why did he waste a year giving preferential treatment to his greenbelt speculator friends?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, that’s actually incorrect. We’ve been moving on the recommendations of the task force; the Leader of the Opposition knows that full well.

We’ve also reached out to our municipal partners to ask them to identify which of the task force recommendations we can move on very quickly, Mr. Speaker. We are having a housing forum next week in Toronto with many of our partners so that we can identify, again, further actions that were identified in the task force recommendations. It is our intention to ensure that we move very aggressively. We’ve also told our municipal partners if growth is not going to be out and if it’s going to be within existing boundaries, then they should all expect to do their part and we will accept nothing less.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: Another cause of the housing crisis is that lower- and middle-income households simply cannot afford what the private market is building. A healthy housing system requires public investments in affordable and non-market housing, too—the very types of housing that this Conservative government and the Liberals before them abandoned.

The NDP is proposing a massive expansion of affordable and non-market housing. We want to double the current supply so people have homes that they can actually afford to live in. Back to the Premier: When will his government make the necessary investments to build the affordable and non-market homes that this province needs?

Hon. Paul Calandra: We’re actually doing just that. As the Leader of the Opposition will know, this House unanimously supported a bill that was brought forward with respect to unleashing additional housing supply. It also included a renewed update on affordable housing, which has been very well received by our municipal partners. We will continue to make sure that we do that.

I will say this, Speaker: The NDP have brought forward a plan that is uncosted, that literally cannot happen. We saw yesterday the very disappointing federal economic statement when it comes to building housing across the country. But we are going to continue to double down, work with our municipal partners, work with home builders, work with advocates that across the system to build a full range of housing—market housing, affordable housing, attainable housing—because that is what is needed to build a bigger, better, stronger province of Ontario.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: It’s not happening. Under this Conservative government, housing has never been more expensive in this province.

This brings me to the third cause: financialization. By ignoring non-market housing and leaving everything to the private sector, we are seeing housing being treated as a commodity, not as a human right. Under this government, we’re seeing more and more rent gouging and unethical evictions. Tenants are being unfairly displaced. We’ve even heard of a tenant in Toronto–St. Paul’s whose landlord raised their rent by $7,000 a month.

Speaker, will the Premier support the NDP’s call to bring back real rent control, or does he think that a landlord should have the right to raise a person’s rent by $7,000 per month?

Hon. Paul Calandra: What’s really important is that there is a balance in the system. I want to thank, of course, the Attorney General for ensuring additional resources to the Landlord and Tenant Board. We have to build a system that balances the rights of landlords and the rights of tenants. Those who break our laws on either side, of course, should not be protected.

But at the same time, what we saw in the province of Ontario is that there was a supply problem, particularly on the rental side. People just were not getting back into the rental construction business. Thanks to the policies of this government, we have seen record-high purpose-built rental starts.

At the same time, Speaker, we started advocating more than a year ago, and the Minister of Finance put in one of his budgets, that we wanted to remove the HST from purpose-built rentals. Unfortunately, it took the federal government a little over a year to confirm our ability to do that. But the results have been spectacular. Partners are getting back into it, and we’re very encouraged by what we’re seeing across the province.

Tenant protection

Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, five years in government and rents are higher than they’ve ever been before. They’re skyrocketing. Housing is not the only burden on everyday people, though, and that’s thanks to these Conservatives. This government has failed to deliver any solutions to help people make ends meet. We still don’t have real rent control or $10-a-day child care or relief for students and young people who are struggling under unbearable student debt. The official opposition NDP has proposed solution after solution to make life more affordable, but this Conservative government has voted against them every single time.

To the Premier, when will your government implement the solutions that Ontarians are asking for?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, there is nobody in this province who believes that the NDP are the guardians of affordability—literally nobody. This is a party that has voted against every single measure to put more money back in the pockets of the people of the province of Ontario.

She talks about tuition, yet she voted against reducing tuition by 10%. She voted against the freeze. Yesterday, they were asking questions, asking us to increase tuition fees for students. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to make sure that we have a vibrant post-secondary education. They voted against removing tolls. They voted against removing the licence plate stickers. When the Minister of Finance brought in a tax credit for the lowest-income-earning Ontarians, virtually eliminating them from the income tax rolls, the NDP voted against that. They voted against the Minister of Education’s groundbreaking daycare reforms that saw rates halved—

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: That’s complete fiction. Life is more expensive today that it has ever been before, under this government’s watch. For many Ontarians, the housing crisis is an eviction crisis. For more than 25 years, the Liberals and Conservatives have let landlords raise the rent to whatever they want when a home becomes vacant. This gives unethical landlords a powerful incentive to squeeze out their existing tenants so they can cash in on the backs of renters.

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Bad-faith evictions have skyrocketed under this government, yet the Landlord and Tenant Board has issued just 13 fines for bad-faith evictions in four years—13 in four years.

To the Premier: Is this because the Premier has stacked the board with his party’s unqualified friends instead of protecting the rights of tenants?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Attorney General.

Hon. Doug Downey: Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the opportunity to address the question. We’ve invested in the Landlord and Tenant Board; in fact, we’ve doubled the number of adjudicators.

I miss Taras Natyshak because I miss the drive-by smears. They won’t name names. They just allude to things. They just say, maybe this, maybe that—maybe that they’re appointing people.

I challenge you to name one person on that Landlord and Tenant Board who isn’t qualified.

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

This time, the final supplementary.

Ms. Marit Stiles: The fact is that if you’re a tenant in Ontario and your rights are—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development will come to order. The member for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke will come to order. The member for Kitchener–Conestoga will come to order.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): It wasn’t the member for Sarnia–Lambton; I know that.

I apologize to the Leader of the Opposition.

Start the clock.

The Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

Ms. Marit Stiles: Thank you, Speaker.

The fact is that if you’re a tenant in Ontario and your rights are threatened, this government will not help you. The government’s Rental Housing Enforcement Unit received 16,000 calls last year and only took action on 7% of them—that’s 15,000 complaints ignored.

You don’t just have to listen to me; the Ombudsman says the Conservatives have stacked the Landlord and Tenant Board with their unqualified political appointees. This government has made it harder for tenants to access justice. The board almost never issues fines for bad-faith evictions, and when it does, the fines are way too low, and even then most of these unethical landlords don’t even bother to pay.

To the Premier again—I hope he answers—why won’t the Premier protect Ontario’s tenants?

Interjections.

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

The Attorney General.

Hon. Doug Downey: When the Liberals were in charge and the NDP were propping them up, they let the Landlord and Tenant Board run into all sorts of disasters. We’ve been cleaning that up. We’ve been investing money not just in adjudicators but in systems, and the NDP have voted against every single improvement.

As we continue to improve, I want to know if the member opposite will support anything that we bring forward in the next bill.

Shelter services

Ms. Jessica Bell: My question is to the Premier.

Street Haven is a supportive housing shelter in my riding. It helps survivors of gender-based and intimate partner violence. Without enough supportive housing, their clients can’t leave their emergency shelter and new shelter users have nowhere safe to go. Since mid-June, Street Haven has turned away 600 women due to a lack of supportive and affordable housing.

Vulnerable women are being ignored in this province. Street Haven is calling on the government to double investment in supportive housing so they can stop turning women away when they’re in need of a home. My question is to the government. Can you say yes to this request?

Interjections.

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

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Paul Calandra: We’ve recognized that, and that’s why we boosted funding significantly in the last budget. The member opposite will recall that she voted against that increased funding.

I will say this: It is very true that, coming off the heels of 15 years of Liberal government, we saw underfunding in a number of very important, priority areas. It is why we have been working so hard to reverse the damage of 15 years, which was literally supported by the NDP more often than not. Whether it is on shelters, whether it’s on building more homes, transit and transportation, that is all that we have been focused on—first reversing the damage and then secondly making the investments.

As I said, when it comes to homelessness and the programs that support it, we’ve increased funding to historic levels in the province of Ontario. Admittedly, we are burdened right now by a federal government that has removed itself from funding its responsibilities and we will work with our municipal partners to try and get the federal government to live up to its responsibilities as well.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary? The member for Windsor West.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: I just want to remind the minister you’ve been in government—majority government—for five years. In that time, 55 women—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The member for Windsor West has the floor.

Start the clock.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Maybe the government should have held their applause, because what I was going to say is under your government, in the last five years, 55 women have died at the hands of their partner—two in Windsor in the last year. It’s time for you to actually do something to save their lives.

Speaker, Windsor women and children fleeing domestic violence are being turned away from shelters due to lack of shelter space and affordable housing to place them in. Some 31 local non-profits needed more than $26 million last year to repair social housing units in Windsor-Essex, they have received less than one sixth of that. The condition of these units is deteriorating: 5% are vacant because of their poor condition. Add to that women’s shelters are struggling to recruit and retain staff due to underfunding by the Conservative government. The work is complex and requires specialized training, yet provincial funding isn’t enough to even pay those workers a living wage.

Why is the Premier putting women and children fleeing domestic violence at risk by choosing to underfund shelters and the affordable housing that they need?

Interjections.

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

To respond, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Look, there’s just so much to unpack on that. Now, we’ve increased funding; they have voted against it. They voted against that increased funding. We put more money into our shelter system; they have voted against it.

I was just in the member’s own region not long ago opening up, cutting the ribbon for the very first social housing project in over 30 years in the province of Ontario—over 30 years.

Now, that is the type of progress that has to be made across the province of Ontario but it’s more than just that. When we stood up in this place to talk about bail reform, they were absent. When we stand up in this place to put more resources behind all of the programs that will help women and children, they vote against it.

What we need to do across the province of Ontario and what we have been focusing on is rebuilding all of the infrastructure that was left by the Liberals and NDP to decay over 15 years. They have nothing to show for it. We’ve been in office, yes, for five years trying to rebuild a province that they so destroyed, that they left bankrupt; and we will not stop, we will get the job done for women, children and for all Ontarians.

Interjections.

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

Interjections.

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

Interjection.

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

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for St. Catharines will come to order. The government House leader will come to order.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Education will come to order. The member for St. Catharines will come to order.

Next question?

Taxation

Mr. Will Bouma: My question is for the Minister of Energy. Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard from so many of my constituents who are deeply unhappy about the way that the federal government is handling the carbon tax. For years, our Premier and our government have seen that this tax on everything makes life more difficult and is unfair to all Ontarians. That’s why we fought the carbon tax all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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It seems that the federal government has finally recognized how harmful this tax on everything is for ordinary Canadians, and especially when it comes to home heating. However, not all people across this country are being treated fairly. Can the minister please explain how the carbon tax unfairly impacts the people of Ontario?

Hon. Todd Smith: It’s quite remarkable, when the member is asking his question, to hear members of the opposition scoffing that the carbon tax is some made-up thing that has nothing to do with the price of everything.

We are in an affordability crisis, thanks to Justin and Jagmeet. They have been in power for eight years in our country. They’re driving up the cost of everything from coast to coast to coast. The federal Liberals realized this a few weeks back, when they removed the carbon tax from home heating for the folks in Atlantic Canada but have done absolutely nothing, including in yesterday’s fall economic statement on Parliament Hill, for the people of Ontario.

The NDP, at least, have supported us in removing the carbon tax off home heating costs in Ontario. But the Ontario Liberal Party continues to believe that the carbon tax is making life better for the people of Ontario. It’s time to come back to reality and realize the damaging effects the carbon tax—

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

Mr. Will Bouma: Thank you, Minister, for that response.

It’s sad to see the federal government backtrack on their own promises. By exempting only heating oil from the carbon tax, the federal government clearly admits that the carbon tax is costing families more than they would receive in rebates. Shockingly, despite this broad recognition of the harm the carbon tax is doing, Ontario is still not being treated fairly.

During this period of ongoing economic uncertainty and anxiety for many families, all governments should be working together to make life more affordable for everyone.

Can the minister please explain how this unfair treatment of Ontarians from the carbon tax is creating financial hardship for everyone?

Hon. Todd Smith: The overwhelming majority of Ontarians don’t heat with home heating fuel; they heat with natural gas—over 70%—propane as well. And there are many people across the province who are heating with heat pumps. Nobody is getting a break here in Ontario, except for the 2.5% of people who use home heating fuel in Ontario. We need the federal government to realize that the carbon tax is having a negative impact on everybody.

It has been really interesting watching the NDP turn themselves in knots on this issue. They have supported us on removing the carbon tax from home heating fuel, but they are vehemently, vociferously opposed to our expansion of nuclear power in the province, as an example.

Yesterday, the Ontario Federation of Labour voted unanimously to support our plan to continue to grow—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Response.

Hon. Todd Smith: —nuclear in the province of Ontario. It will be interesting to see what the member from Toronto–Danforth has to say about this, and whether the NDP will change their tune on their support of nuclear—

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

Tenant protection

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: Earlier this year, the Ontario Ombudsman stated in a scathing report that the Landlord and Tenant Board was fundamentally failing in its mandate because of insurmountable challenges, especially for Ontarians trying to access quality, well-functioning, online hearings. In addition to the Ombudsman, we have also heard from anti-poverty organizations, tenant and shelter organizations—many who are here today for the national day of housing—advocating to bring back in-person hearings. After all, it has been three years since the COVID pandemic first appeared. The situation is so bad that not even counter service is available for any low-income or elderly tenants who don’t have computers.

When will this government listen to Ontarians and restore in-person hearings and services for Ontarians who actually need them?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the Attorney General.

Hon. Doug Downey: The Ombudsman’s report has come up twice, actually. What the Ombudsman’s report actually said is that it was a perfect storm of events. There was an election; at the same time, there was antiquated technology. That rests on you guys supporting these guys, because nothing was done for years. A global pandemic combined with a significant backlog—we are working away at getting the backlog down. We are making sure that people are getting the services that they want.

What the NDP want, supported by the Liberals this time, is to go back in time. They’re not interested in modernization and moving things forward. I can tell you, though, for those that do need access to the system that don’t have computers, we have provisions in place for mobile units, for phone services, for all sorts of things.

We’re modernizing the system to meet the needs of everyday Ontarians, and I look forward to answering the second part in the supplementary.

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

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: For many low-income tenants, that is just not good enough. They clearly do not have access to in-person hearings.

Back in my neighbourhood, Neighbourhood Legal Services is a legal aid clinic which represented 584 matters as of last year. This included the prevention of evictions, protection of affordable housing and a very important, precedent-setting case that involved 200 families at 280 Wellesley Street who took their landlord to the board, seeking a rent reduction for the loss of facilities, compensation for multi-day power outages and water and heat outages, as well as frequent elevator breakdowns and utility blackouts. This was important, and without the legal aid support they would not have been able to get there. This is absolutely critical, Mr. Speaker. Legal aid clinics actually help low-income tenants in Ontario.

Speaker, there was no mention of new legal aid funding in the provincial fall economic statement. My question to the Premier is, will he stand up for low-income tenants by reinstating the 2019 cut of $133 million from legal aid?

Hon. Doug Downey: Mr. Speaker, I won’t try and correct the member’s math—she’s so far off base.

But I can tell you this, though: 72 legal aid clinics across Ontario are providing excellent service to people who need it. That’s in addition to ACTO. That’s in addition to certificate lawyers across this province who, we have announced, are receiving 5% each year over three years for a total 15% increase. People are getting excellent service across Ontario. They’re getting the resources they need, they’re getting hearings at the independent tribunal and they’re getting their issues resolved.

I look forward to being able to answer more questions, if Marty McFly over there would like to send me more lob balls.

Interjections.

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

Taxation

Ms. Laura Smith: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Residents in my riding want to protect the environment, but they feel that a carbon tax is the wrong approach. People tell me all the time that the carbon tax is making life more expensive and is doing nothing to reduce emissions. The United States and Mexico do not have a carbon tax, yet people here in Canada are struggling because of the hardship this tax creates. Ontario is already a leader when it comes to protecting our environment. The carbon tax does nothing to protect our environment. It only makes life more expensive.

Can the minister please explain what actions our government is taking to lower emissions and protect our environment?

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: The member is absolutely right. The carbon tax does absolutely nothing to protect the environment. Every year, under the Prime Minister, Canada’s emissions have continued to rise.

Here in Ontario, we’re taking real action to lower our emissions, especially through our transportation network. Thanks to the Premier and the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Ontario will be a world leader in EV manufacturing across the world. In a few years, we are going to see thousands of made–in-Ontario electric cars on our roads, but we’re also expanding EV infrastructure across this province. Recently, we announced $91 million to expand chargers that drive more confidence and alleviate range anxiety across Ontario.

Unlike the Liberals and NDP, we are doing more to support the hard-working people of this province, protect our environment and keep costs low for families.

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

Ms. Laura Smith: Thank you for the strong leadership the minister provides to the people of Ontario.

From the minister’s response, it’s clear that Ontario is well positioned to take the lead in the EV manufacturing sector. The minister is correct: People want real solutions. The carbon tax is not a solution, it’s just another tax. It’s a tax on your home heating. It’s a tax on the gas you need for your car and it’s a tax on the food you buy. The carbon tax isn’t a plan to protect the environment. It’s just a tax.

Can the minister please elaborate on the actions our government is taking to reduce emissions?

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Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: That’s absolutely right. The Liberals can call the carbon tax whatever they want to, but at the end of the day, it’s a tax on hard-working families and the people in Ontario. That’s why, when we were first elected, one of the first things we did was eliminate the provincial carbon tax. But under our plan, not only are we building EVs across this province, we’re also undertaking the largest expansion of public transit in the history of this province and this country—and for that, North America. We’re investing a historic $70 billion to build and expand public transit, all in Ontario.

On top of that, the Ontario Line, which both the Liberals and the NDP voted against, will take 28,000 cars off the road every single day. We’re transitioning the GO rail network from diesel to electric trains, and expanding access to two-way, all-day GO across this province. That, too, was not supported by the Liberals—

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

The next question.

Affordable housing

Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is to the Premier. Homelessness continues to be a major problem in the region of Waterloo. The number of people experiencing chronic homelessness the region has grown by 129% in 2020, and it’s on track to triple by 2028 unless urgent action is taken. Regional staff reported that any plan to end chronic homelessness must have “a significant investment.” One regional councillor said, “It seems to me we are getting further and further and further into this pit,” because all the government can offer are short-term solutions.

Ontario needs a comprehensive plan to address the crisis, which is rooted in a severe shortage of affordable housing. The existing encampment in the region is already overwhelmed, and planning for a second encampment has commenced. This housing emergency calls for emergency action and emergency funding for real housing, not encampments.

Will the government use some of the $5.4 billion in the unallocated contingency fund to meet this moment?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: Look, the NDP have a candidate, of course, in that area who actually supports—what did she say? She wants to see the current encampments remain until further housing arrangements can be made. But then she went on to vote against 2,000 units of housing in the very area where the encampments actually are, and then voted against thousands of dollars that were set aside for affordable housing in the very same area.

So I would ask the member opposite, when this particular NDP candidate loses the by-election and she returns to council, if she might actually vote in favour of the thousands of housing projects that she is currently voting against, which includes affordable housing, to the tune of thousands of dollars?

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

Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s a shameful state of affairs when a government has the money to address an emergency housing crisis and chooses not to.

These vulnerable people in encampments include women who are fleeing gender-based violence. It can take over a year for women to find stable housing after experiencing abuse. This government has yet to call gender-based violence what it is, an epidemic, despite 72 municipalities calling on them to do so. Encampments are not a long-term solution for these women, but that’s exactly how this government is treating them. They may claim otherwise; however, the evidence on the ground is over at Victoria and Weber Streets in Kitchener, where you can clearly see the number of encampments are growing.

This Saturday will mark the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, an annual, international campaign that calls on the elimination of violence against women. Women need shelter. Will this government recognize that, in the interim, at the very least, providing funding for emergency shelters for women fleeing violence is needed right now in Ontario?

Interjections.

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

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Paul Calandra: We actually recognized that in the budget, and that’s why we increased the level of funding for those programs to its highest level ever—to its highest level ever. Do you know who voted against that? That member voted against that. Do you know who has voted against every single measure that we have done to improve the lives of the people of the province of Ontario? It has been the member opposite. They have a candidate— literally, a candidate—running in a by-election now who would rather see encampments than affordable housing in her community. The NDP would rather convene a round table to declare something as opposed to doing something about it.

That is the problem of the NDP. They want to talk, but when it comes to doing something about anything, they sit on their hands and do nothing. This government has put record levels of support, record levels of infrastructure. We’re going to continue to do that, untangling the mess that they left behind.

Hydro rates

Mr. Michael Mantha: My question is to the Minister of Energy. Speaker, last week, the government spent two days debating a toothless motion on the carbon tax that will amount to no real action being taken other than a strongly worded letter to the Prime Minister. The motion had no weight and will make not a single change to any policy. So now, Minister, let’s refocus on what we can actually do for Ontarians.

People in my riding of Algoma–Manitoulin struggle daily to pay for necessities. Hydro rates continue to rise across the board, making it harder for people to afford to live and work in our province. When the government came to power, they promised that hydro rates would go down on their watch. They have not.

Speaker, these are the facts, so why is hydro more expensive today than when they took office?

Hon. Todd Smith: Boy, that was a long way to get there. Thank you to the member from Algoma–Manitoulin. First of all, let me address the first part. If we don’t take these actions, trying to have motions that encourage the federal government to move on things, we wouldn’t have the HST off home builds, for instance. We wouldn’t have the child care program that we have now in the province of Ontario. By encouraging as a united force here in the Ontario Legislature, we may just get the break that Ontarians are looking for, and that’s the carbon tax off their home heating fuels.

I love this member, but when he was a long-time member of the New Democratic Party, they voted in favour of the carbon taxes that are driving up the price of fuel in his home communities. I’ve met a lot of those people in Algoma–Manitoulin. They drive big trucks. That’s what they drive there, and they are getting killed at the pumps—not because of our party; we’re reducing the price of gasoline. The federal party, the NDP and the Liberals are driving up the cost—

Interjections.

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

Mr. Michael Mantha: Oh, back to the Minister of Energy. Focus, Minister; this is hydro. Anyway, Speaker, the high energy costs are a burden on individuals and businesses in northern Ontario, and it’s not just the price of the usage that is affecting people in my riding. Right now, delivery charges are skyrocketing in rural and northern communities.

Roslyn Taylor—we’ve spoken about her often—owner of Taylor Sawmill on Manitoulin Island, shared some of her hydro bills with me recently. When she gets her hydro bill the delivery charges are more than double her costs. Here are a couple of examples: usage $1,345, delivery $3,554; usage $1,514, delivery—more than double—$3,587. Here’s one more: usage $1,631 and again the delivery charge, $3,671. The Taylor Sawmill had 25 employees and they’re now reduced to 12 employees.

Minister, instead of sending letters on the carbon tax to another level of government, this is something you can actually address. When is your government going to act on the punishing costs of energy in Ontario?

Hon. Todd Smith: My goodness. Mr. Speaker, it’s unbelievable that this member sat next to me when we were on the opposition benches and when the Fair Hydro Plan—or, as we called it at the time, the unfair hydro plan—was driving up the cost of electricity in this province by 9%, 11%, 12%, year over year.

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When we became the government of Ontario, we brought forward the comprehensive electricity plan, which reduced the cost of electricity by 15% to 17% every year. It has brought stability to our province. It has brought multi-billion dollar investments to our province.

I was the Minister of Economic Development prior to our Minister of Economic Development doing such a great job in that role, and the biggest thing we were hearing was, “You have to fix the Liberal hydro mess.” And we have done that. As a result, we’re seeing those multi-billion dollar investments in Windsor, in Loyalist township, in St. Thomas, in Algoma—the steelmaking facility is moving to an electric arc furnace because of the stability that we brought to the energy sector.

It’s time for that member to get on board. Join us. We’re getting—

Interjections.

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

Members will please take their seats.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Hamilton Mountain will come to order.

Start the clock.

The next question.

Taxation

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Energy. I continue to hear concerns from many of my constituents in Carleton that the federal Liberals are leaving them out in the cold this winter by refusing to pause the carbon tax. We know that the carbon tax is not good for the people of Ontario.

Thanks to the confirmation from the Bank of Canada and the Parliamentary Budget Officer, we now know that the disastrous carbon tax is raising the price of everything by driving up inflation. The cumulative effect of even more tax increases creates greater hardships for many Ontario households that are already struggling.

Speaker, through you: Can the minister please share how the federal carbon tax impacts the affordability of daily living for all Ontarians?

Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks to the member from Carleton. She’s a great advocate for the people of the Ottawa region, and particularly in the riding of Carleton. She’s helping with the affordability crisis that Justin and Jagmeet have created in our province and across our country.

We’re bringing forward changes here every day to make life more affordable, whether it’s ending the carbon tax, which we did back in 2018—and fought it all the way to the Supreme Court; removing 10 cents a litre on the price of gasoline; bringing our electricity prices under control through the comprehensive electricity plan and the Ontario electricity rebates; all the fees that we’re returning to people to try to make life more affordable.

The members of the Ontario Liberal caucus continue to stand up and say that the people of Ontario are better off now than they were because of the carbon tax. It’s unbelievable. It’s shocking that we hear those kinds of statements made, when it’s obvious to everyone, including the federal Liberals, that the carbon tax is having a negative impact on the lives of the people of Canada and the people here in Ontario.

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

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Thank you to the minister for that excellent response. The people of Ontario deserve financial relief when it comes to the cost of home heating. Our government has called on the federal government to pause the collection of HST on home heating and to scrap the disastrous carbon tax altogether.

It’s truly disheartening that members of the opposition parties are playing politics rather than supporting good policies that will help the people in our province and will help to reduce emissions.

Speaker, through you: Can the minister please explain what actions our government is taking to bring much-needed financial relief to the people of Carleton and Ontario and that will protect the environment?

Hon. Todd Smith: Speaker, the member knows that there is no pathway to net zero without nuclear. We know that. Our caucus knows that. The federal government is actually supporting us on our nuclear projects that we have across Ontario. That was evidenced yesterday in their fall economic statement, by including nuclear in their Green Bond program for the first time ever, and we support that.

Just this week, on Monday, I was in Saskatchewan with Minister Duncan, their energy minister there responsible for SaskPower, entering into a new agreement with SaskPower and Laurentis Energy and OPG to deploy small modular reactors. Of course, we’re leading the way here in Ontario, not just in Canada, but around the world, on our small modular reactor program. That’s reliable, affordable, emissions-free power that we’re going to be able to send all around the world and to Saskatchewan as well, Mr. Speaker.

The NDP are twisting themselves in knots again. I’m curious to see what they do now that the Ontario Federation of Labour has fully supported our decision to build out our nuclear fleet here in Ontario, which is world-leading.

Logement abordable / Affordable Housing

M. Guy Bourgouin: Ma question est pour le premier ministre.

Nous sommes en crise sévère du logement dans le Nord. C’est du jamais-vu. À Timmins, des camps avec des tentes dans nos parcs : ce n’est sûrement pas pour du camping. Environ 70 % des sans-abris à Timmins viennent du Sud. Ils viennent dans le Nord, pensant accéder à plus de services avec moins d’attente, mais c’est tout le contraire.

Pendant que votre gouvernement essuie les dégâts de vos scandales de corruption, un hiver rude s’installe dans le Nord. Monsieur le Premier Ministre, quand est-ce que le gouvernement va arrêter de perdre le temps des Ontariens et va finalement construire le 1,5 million de maisons dont nous avons désespérément besoin?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: I’m not sure where the member has been. We are actually focused on that—since 2018. We have brought forward a number of bills in this House to do just that.

Now, it is very true that we had to untangle much of the mess that was left behind by the previous Liberal-NDP coalition government in this province which stopped construction in many different areas of the province, in particular the north, Mr. Speaker. I was shocked when the Liberal government at the time said that the north was a wasteland and that nobody should invest in it. You would have thought that the NDP would have used that as an opportunity to bring down the Liberal government, because there could have been no other indication of how little the Liberals cared about the north than that, but the NDP continued to prop them up for an additional number of years, Mr. Speaker.

Having said that, we are opening up the Ring of Fire because we understand how important the north is to Ontario. We’re doing more than that. We’re building long-term care in northern Ontario. We’re building new roads in northern Ontario. The Northland is coming back to northern Ontario because we know that the north is key to the prosperity of all of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary? The member for Kiiwetinoong.

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Meegwetch, Speaker. Sometimes I give my head a shake when the government says Ontario is the best place to live because it’s not like that where I’m from. It all depends on where you live in Ontario.

Over the years I’ve told this House, even two years ago, about people having to live in tents during the winter in Eabametoong, also known as Fort Hope. I also talked about the high numbers of people who live without homes in Sioux Lookout. I guess it takes longer for changes to come up north. Why is that?

And I ask the government: How many of the 1.5 million homes proposed by this government are for the people of Kiiwetinoong?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs.

Hon. Greg Rickford: As we consider our options with Indigenous leadership for on-reserve housing, particularly in areas where there’s incredible growth opportunities, economic and resource opportunities, we do recognize the urgent need for adequate housing to meet the basic needs for many First Nations. That’s why, in the last budget, we invested an additional $202 million annually in the province’s Homelessness Prevention Program and, importantly, to the member’s question, the Indigenous Supportive Housing Program. It brings Ontario’s total yearly investment in these programs to close to $700 million.

This additional funding, Mr. Speaker, will help those experiencing or at risk for homelessness as they migrate into cities across northern Ontario, for example, and support community organizations that will deliver supportive housing in our communities for Indigenous peoples and their families.

Health care

Mr. Adil Shamji: For the Minister of Health: There is a fundamental principle in emergency medicine that says following any major trauma or accident, patients have a one-hour window in which the right care means the difference between life and death. That hour is called the golden hour—just 60 minutes to save a life.

Yet, under this government’s watch, millions of Ontarians are being denied and robbed of their golden hour by the Premier and the Minister of Health. Under their watch, we’ve seen 911 calls go unanswered, ambulances dispatched too late, rampant and unpredictable closures of emergency departments—nearly 900 in 2022 and almost 500 by last August, and it’s only getting worse.

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While the RCMP has rightly launched a criminal investigation into the Premier’s greenbelt misconduct, we are watching yet another scandal unfold in this government’s mismanagement of health care. When will this government do more than lip service and take a single concrete step to reopen shuttered emergency departments across this province?

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

Mrs. Robin Martin: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. I love to talk about all the great things that our government is doing to improve health care in Ontario.

Last year, health care spending in Ontario increased by over $2.7 billion. That was just last year, and that was just the increase. This government has increased spending on health care by $16 billion since we came into office. To be clear, our government has increased health care sector spending in Ontario by 6.1% per year on average—a much better record than the former Liberal government.

Our government knows the status quo is not working. That’s why we are taking initiatives, why we are innovating and why we brought in our community surgical and diagnostic clinics, which we’re expanding too. We’re getting it done so the people of Ontario can get the health care that they deserve.

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

Mr. Adil Shamji: None of these things have done anything to keep ERs closed and have ignored entirely the root causes of what we’re facing, because right now patients cannot get access to primary care. They can’t get access to family doctors and family health teams. When they try to get out to nurse practitioners, many of them can only be accessed by paying $400 mandatory subscription fees.

This is about doing things like dropping the appeal of Bill 124 and putting in the work to retain health care workers with proper wages, benefits and mental health supports. This means regulating temporary nursing agencies. It means investing the billions of dollars this government is instead stashing away in contingency funds. We cannot afford to fail on this.

In September, three teens were stabbed at a house party in the middle the night. Rushed to the nearest emergency department, they found that it was closed. In the last month, there was a 10-day period where the emergency department in Chesley, Ontario, was open for only 10 hours.

What does the Minister of Health say to the people Ontario who live with the anxiety of not having an emergency room open in their times of crisis?

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

Hon. Sylvia Jones: What I will say to the people of Ontario is that we have your backs. We are expanding primary care in the province of Ontario. We are expanding the number of seats available for nurses, for PSWs, for physicians in the province of Ontario.

We have programs in place that ensure that, if you would like to practise in Ontario, you can do that with new legislation—which, respectfully, you voted against—that says if you have a licence anywhere in Canada, you can come to Ontario and immediately start practising while you await your Ontario licence.

We have directed the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the College of Nurses of Ontario to quickly assess, expedite and ultimately review and, when appropriate, license internationally educated and trained physicians and nurses. We have done—

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

The next question.

Taxation

Mr. Will Bouma: My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. This week, Ontario pork farmers visited Queen’s Park, showcasing information about their quality products. Pork farmers contribute to making Ontario a world-class exporter for growing international markets. To my friends who are pork producers, thank you for feeding Ontario and for feeding the world.

While their contribution to our province’s economy is significant and important, the carbon tax is putting homegrown pork at a competitive disadvantage. This regressive tax, not only places a heavy economic burden on pork farmers, it also impacts the global standing of the agricultural sector.

Speaker, can the minister please explain how the carbon tax is impacting the pork sector’s contributions to Ontario’s economy?

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: Thanks to the member opposite for the question. I know that the farmers of Brant county truly appreciate his genuine advocacy on their behalf.

I hope everyone in this House took a meeting with our representatives of Ontario Pork this past week, because if you did, I’m sure that you would hear loud and clear that they are supportive of the removal of carbon tax from propane and natural gas used on farms. This is imperative, that we move forward and come together and collectively support their ask, because the reality is that the carbon tax imposed upon us by the federal Liberal government is doing nothing but driving the cost of production through the roof.

I’m sure if you had had proper consultations with Ontario Pork, you would hear specific examples to your home areas. For instance, in Huron–Bruce, we heard about a farmer who saw his propane bill go up 21% solely because of the federal Liberal carbon tax. That erodes his ability to invest in biosecurity. That erodes his opportunities and ability to invest in new technology—

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

Mr. Will Bouma: Minister, thank you so much for that response.

The carbon tax only serves to harm farmers and limit their potential to grow Ontario’s agriculture and food industry. Since the introduction of the carbon tax, production costs for our farmers, greenhouse growers and food processors have risen substantially. The delivery of every single consumer good in our province, particularly fresh and processed food, is being affected by one of the most economically harmful taxes our province has ever seen.

The carbon tax harms hard-working individuals, hard-working businesses and hard-working farmers. It provides no value other than taking money from families.

Speaker, could the minister please provide an update on the status of Bill C-234 in the Senate and what actions must be taken by the federal government to provide support to our farmers—

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

The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: If anyone was watching last evening, they would have seen that C-234 has been stalled in the Senate. That’s an absolute shame because, ladies and gentlemen, the harvest in Ontario is winding down this year. We’ve missed an entire season of helping farmers realize a reduction in the cost of production.

Talking about greenhouses, like the member opposite mentioned, we have seen the cost of energy go up for a particular greenhouse in Ontario by $150,000. I’m going to repeat that: Carbon tax has caused one greenhouse grower to pay an additional $150,000 this year alone. How is anyone ever supposed to be able to carry that? Again, it’s eroding his ability to be competitive.

You know, ladies and gentlemen, over 70% of all vegetables and produce grown in—

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

Affordable housing

Mr. Tom Rakocevic: My question is to the Premier.

There are countless residents in the city paying unaffordable market rent and hanging on by a thread—residents like Rahima, who is living with a disability and spent 26 years on a wait-list for affordable housing. This government is only really interested in market-rate homes, which will leave so many without real housing options.

Will the government support the NDP plan for real rent control and build 250,000 new affordable rental homes, or will they stick with their failing policies that have led to skyrocketing rents and more people left unhoused on their watch?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: I think we’ve been pretty clear that we will not support the NDP plan. We actually voted against that plan, Mr. Speaker. It was a plan that severely underestimated the costs, Speaker. Advocates across the sector said it would be unaffordable and would lead to the bankruptcy of the province.

So, what we’re doing instead, Speaker, is we’ve updated the definition of “affordability,” which received unanimous support from all parties in this House, which has been very well received by our municipal partners. One would wonder why, again, a Progressive Conservative government had to come to the table to improve housing in the province of Ontario. It should have been done a long time ago, but we’ve started to untangle the mess and the burdens that were put in place by the Liberals and the NDP—the NDP, who just like to talk about housing. They don’t actually like to accomplish anything, Mr. Speaker, but the policies that we have brought in have seen purpose-built rentals to their highest level in over 15 years. That is such good news for people who are looking for rental housing, and I’m proud to say that it continues on that trajectory.

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The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question? The member for Spadina–Fort York.

Mr. Chris Glover: My question is for the Premier. A while ago, I came across a young man sleeping on the street. He needed medical attention because of a mental health issue, and also because he’d been beaten up. He had a broken cheekbone and a broken rib. I called shelter services, but there were no beds available.

The city of Toronto is reporting that 320 people a day call shelter services with no beds available. The lack of shelter and medical care has caused the number of people dying on the streets to double from 100 to 200 per year under this government. The city of Toronto has developed a housing plan with a target of 65,000 new rent-controlled homes but will need $3.7 billion from the provincial government.

Will this government continue to let this crisis worsen, or will they help fund Mayor Chow’s plan?

Hon. Paul Calandra: We actually stepped in when the federal government wouldn’t step in. If you ask municipal partners across the GTA what the biggest challenge is that they have right now, it is asylum seekers who have come to this province and do not have the space, and the fact that the federal government has literally abandoned them.

Now, this Premier and this government stepped up to the plate and provided additional funding for all of our partners in the GTA. In fact, in yesterday’s FES, if I’m not mistaken, the federal Liberal government decided to provide more to support the media than they did to support asylum seekers and shelters in Toronto. That is the priority of the federal Liberal government.

So I say to the member opposite, if you’re really concerned about this issue, you have an opportunity. You didn’t do it here. Call your friends in Ottawa who hold the balance of power and say the status quo in Ottawa is not working. Tell them to vote against the FES and take down this federal Liberal government so that we can get a government that actually cares about the people of the province of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Once again, I’ll remind the members to make their comments through the Chair.

The next question.

Taxation

Mr. Trevor Jones: My question is for the Associate Minister of Small Business. Small businesses across Chatham-Kent–Leamington and throughout our rural and northern communities continue to share their concerns about the punitive impact of the federal carbon tax. Small family-run furniture stores like Gabriele, Main-West and Devos are suffering, as are the sawmills and contractors, who are seeing higher costs for raw materials like lumber. Speaker, this unfair tax forces them to choose between absorbing the cost themselves or passing them on to customers like you and I.

Unlike the opposition, our government clearly recognizes that rural and resource-based businesses must remain viable for communities to thrive. Can the minister please explain how the carbon tax is impacting rural businesses and our entrepreneurs?

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

Hon. Nina Tangri: I appreciate the member from Chatham-Kent–Leamington for his important question. Small businesses in rural Ontario play a vital role as a source of employment within their communities. These businesses provide valuable job opportunities, helping to stimulate economic growth and support the livelihoods of individuals and families.

Rural entrepreneurs face unique challenges already, and having the carbon tax drive up the price of obtaining and delivering goods only compounds the issues they already have. That’s why our government has been tirelessly working to alleviate the financial burden imposed on small businesses even as the federal government persists in escalating the carbon tax year after year after year. Unlike the Liberals and the NDP, we won’t be silent as the federal government punishes our farmers, our workers, our businesses and our families.

Speaker, this Premier, this caucus have been clear from day one. We call on the federal government to do what’s right for our businesses, our economy, our families: scrap the carbon tax now.

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

Birthdays

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I understand the Premier has a point of order he wishes to raise.

Hon. Doug Ford: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My point of order: I want to wish a friend of mine, and I do consider her a friend, Cynthia Mulligan from CityNews, a happy birthday. And Colin D’Mello’s birthday was yesterday. Mine was the day before. Now I know why they’re so tough on me, because we’re all Scorpios. Anyways, I want to wish her all the very best.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Nepean has a point of order.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Just in that vein of wishing people a happy birthday, today is the birthday of Madeleine Meilleur, a champion of francophone-Ontarian rights. A former member here for 13 years and for 10 years preceding that she served on Ottawa city council, Vanier city council and Ottawa regional council—we have a lot of councils back east. It’s a great day for her and I want to wish her a very, very happy birthday.

Correction of record

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Don Valley East has a point of order.

Mr. Adil Shamji: I rise on a point of order to correct my record. In my supplemental response, I made the comment that the government hadn’t done anything to keep ERs closed, but of course I meant they haven’t done anything to keep ERs open.

Deferred Votes

Improving Real Estate Management Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 sur l’amélioration de la gestion des biens immeubles

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

Bill 151, An Act to amend various statutes regarding infrastructure / Projet de loi 151, Loi modifiant diverses lois relatives aux infrastructures.

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

The division bells rang from 1146 to 1151.

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

On November 21, 2023, Miss Surma moved second reading of Bill 151, An Act to amend various statutes regarding infrastructure.

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

Ayes

  • Anand, Deepak
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barnes, Patrice
  • Bethlenfalvy, Peter
  • Bouma, Will
  • Byers, Rick
  • Calandra, Paul
  • Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
  • Cho, Stan
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Crawford, Stephen
  • Cuzzetto, Rudy
  • Dixon, Jess
  • Dowie, Andrew
  • Downey, Doug
  • Dunlop, Jill
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Flack, Rob
  • Ford, Doug
  • Ford, Michael D.
  • Gallagher Murphy, Dawn
  • Ghamari, Goldie
  • Gill, Parm
  • Grewal, Hardeep Singh
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Mike
  • Hogarth, Christine
  • Holland, Kevin
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Jones, Trevor
  • Jordan, John
  • Kanapathi, Logan
  • Ke, Vincent
  • Kerzner, Michael S.
  • Khanjin, Andrea
  • Leardi, Anthony
  • Lecce, Stephen
  • Lumsden, Neil
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • 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, Graydon
  • Smith, Laura
  • Smith, Todd
  • Surma, Kinga
  • Tangri, Nina
  • Thanigasalam, Vijay
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Tibollo, Michael A.
  • Wai, Daisy
  • Williams, Charmaine A.
  • Yakabuski, John

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

Nays

  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Bell, Jessica
  • Blais, Stephen
  • Bourgouin, Guy
  • Bowman, Stephanie
  • Burch, Jeff
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Fraser, John
  • French, Jennifer K.
  • Gates, Wayne
  • Gélinas, France
  • Glover, Chris
  • Gretzky, Lisa
  • Harden, Joel
  • Hazell, Andrea
  • Kernaghan, Terence
  • Mamakwa, Sol
  • Mantha, Michael
  • McCrimmon, Karen
  • McMahon, Mary-Margaret
  • Pasma, Chandra
  • Rakocevic, Tom
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Schreiner, Mike
  • Shamji, Adil
  • Shaw, Sandy
  • Stevens, Jennifer (Jennie)
  • Stiles, Marit
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John
  • Wong-Tam, Kristyn

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Trevor Day): The ayes are 72; the nays are 32.

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? I heard some noes.

I’ll look to the minister for a committee referral.

Hon. Kinga Surma: The Standing Committee on Social Policy.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Standing Committee on Social Policy.

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

The House recessed from 1155 to 1300.

Report continues in volume B.