43e législature, 1e session

L114A - Thu 23 Nov 2023 / Jeu 23 nov 2023

 

The House met at 0900.

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

Prières / Prayers.

Orders of the Day

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

Ms. Jones moved third reading of the following bill:

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

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

Hon. Sylvia Jones: I rise today to speak to third reading of the Convenient Care at Home Act. I will be sharing my time with my outstanding parliamentary assistants, MPP Robin Martin, the member for Eglinton–Lawrence, and MPP Dawn Gallagher Murphy, the member for Newmarket–Aurora. Thank you for everything you do to make the Ministry of Health stronger.

We know people and their families want better and faster access to home care services, and as it has been said before, the only thing better than having care close to home is having care in your home. To do this, we are improving the way people connect to home and community care services by breaking down barriers—long-standing barriers—between home care and other parts of the health care system.

Through this proposed legislation, our government is taking another important step toward to improve and modernize home and community care. It supports our continued efforts to build a more connected and convenient health care system and to improve the patient experience for the people of Ontario. It is another way we are putting patients at the heart of our health care system.

We have met regularly with service providers as we have developed and implemented our home care modernization plans. The advice we have received from front-line experts in home and community care is integral to attaining our shared objective: to provide high-quality, connected and convenient care to Ontarians.

We appreciate the ongoing input from groups such as Home Care Ontario and the Ontario Community Support Association, whose members work alongside provider organizations to deliver home and community care to numerous Ontarians each and every day. The dedication, tireless efforts and support of our community partners has been key to the progress we’re making in home and community care. Their expertise and commitment to Ontarians’ well-being has been crucial in shaping the proposed legislation.

I also appreciate the invaluable input provided by the Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Council. The council consists of patient, family and caregiver representatives who are ensuring the voices of patients, families and caregivers are a fundamental part of policy development and decision-making. Engaging with patients, families and caregivers is central to building a patient-centred health care system. Listening and learning from patient, family and caregiver experiences helps support better-quality care and improved health outcomes.

I have met with the council on a number of occasions and am grateful for their advice. The council has highlighted how timely and accessible home and community care plays a critical role in our health care system and in effectively meeting the needs of patients and families.

Engaging the council in ongoing discussions and input from organizations and stakeholders is a key part of our efforts to modernize home care and build a stronger, more connected health care system.

I want to take a moment, in particular, to thank Betty-Lou Kristy, the council’s chair. By bringing the patient experience to the forefront of decision-making, we are building a health care system that is more connected and convenient for all Ontarians.

Another pillar of this work is to ensure our home and community care workforce is supported effectively, so they can continue to provide the essential care so many Ontarians rely on. Thousands of dedicated front-line home and community care workers provide incredible support to people and families across Ontario each and every day. Their work can have a tremendous impact on people’s lives, often at a time when they need it most. They play a significant role in our communities and make a tangible contribution to our collective health and wellness. Our government values their role and the extraordinary care they provide to Ontarians.

That is why we are continuing to build home and community care capacity. We are delivering on our promise to expedite additional funding from our $1-billion investment to stabilize, expand and improve home care services and address worker compensation this year.

We are also investing an additional $100 million for community care to stabilize the delivery of services and address workers’ compensation. And our investments are having a real impact. In 2022-23, our investments provided additional volumes of service, including close to a million estimated hours of person-supported services and 120,000 nursing shifts. These are investments that help people return to the comfort of their own home sooner to recover after they have surgery or when they have complex health conditions.

Building our province’s home and community care capacity not only provides many people with a better health care experience, but it also supports our health care and hospital capacity. It helps reduce avoidable hospital readmissions, visits to emergency departments and unnecessary placements in long-term-care homes. It frees up crucial hospital resources and helps to ensure hospital beds are available for those who need them most. It’s an important part of providing people with the right care in the right place.

Speaker, supporting access to home and community care services helps ensure that Ontarians receive care in appropriate settings. Home care keeps people healthy and at home, where they want to be, and plays a significant role in the lives of around 700,000 families annually. Home care services in Ontario address the needs of people of all ages who are living with different conditions, disabilities or diseases, helping them live safely, healthy and independently in their homes or in community.

Home care services are complemented by community care services, which support around 600,000 people each year. And we know the demands for these services will continue to grow.

With an aging population, demographic changes and rising patient acuity, there will be an increased need for effective home and community care that is part of a strong, integrated health care system. We’ve seen a notable increase in the proportion of seniors who are seeking home care. The number of seniors in our province is also projected to significantly increase in the years and decades ahead. It’s imperative that we put in place an effective system of home and community care services. We need to make sure Ontarians receive the right care in the right setting. We need to make sure that home care is a strong, viable care option and that people don’t have to unnecessarily rely on hospitals or long-term-care homes.

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Speaker, home and community care is an important part of an integrated and connected health care system. We need to ensure that our home and community care providers can work as effectively as possible with primary care, acute care providers, long-term-care homes and other providers, such as mental health and addictions providers and other providers of health and social services. To help ensure that home care services are better linked with primary care, hospitals and other parts of the health system, Ontario health teams are being established as a new model of integrated care delivery that will begin to take on the delivery of home care. This is another important milestone for Ontario health teams as they move forward with fulfilling their mandate to deliver integrated home care and health care.

Ontario health teams play a key role in connecting all parts of a patient’s care journey. These collaborative teams bring together various providers from across the health care system and community sectors. This includes primary care, hospitals, home and community care, long-term care, mental health and addictions, and other providers. In Ontario health teams, different providers work together to better coordinate care and share resources. They are responsible for understanding their patients’ health care history, providing support with navigating the health care system and easing transitions between providers. Ontario health teams provide patients with connected care from their different providers. The Convenient Care at Home Act would enable the gradual transition of home care to Ontario health teams. Ontario health teams are at various phases in their development and in their readiness to provide home care. As Ontario health teams develop and evolve, they will take the next step to better connect and coordinate people’s care and begin to take on direct responsibility for managing home care delivery.

This proposed legislation, if passed, would support the creation of a single integrated service organization known as Ontario Health atHome, which would support Ontario health teams. This organization would be a subsidiary of Ontario Health and would be created through the consolidation of the existing 14 regional home and community care support service organizations in Ontario. Local health integration networks, or LHINs, would no longer exist.

Ontario Health is the agency responsible for managing health care planning and delivery, and funding most other health care organizations in the province. Ontario Health has a key role in supporting the integration and coordination of our health care system to ensure it is centred on the needs of patients and families. It ensures providers have the information and tools they need to deliver high-quality, patient-focused care.

The proposed legislation amends provisions governing the designation of Ontario health teams, which will ultimately provide home care as part of their responsibility for locally integrated health care. It is the expected that the first group of Ontario health teams would start to be designated by the end of next year. By early 2025, the first transitions of home care funding and responsibilities to Ontario health teams are expected to take place. As each Ontario health team starts to take direct responsibility for managing home care delivery, strong, central back-office and operational supports will continue to be provided to them by Ontario Health atHome.

Furthermore, the province would continue to work with home care and health services providers to develop, implement and expand new, innovative models of care that provide better support for patients and their families. For example, these models of care could provide better support for hospital-to-home transitions. And to support new models of care and support quality improvement, home procurement models and contracting processes would also be updated. The focus would be on introducing new performance management standards, updating standardized contracts and preserving existing volumes for qualified providers.

As change takes place, such as the new consolidated home care agency, new models of care or updated contractual frameworks, our focus continues to be on the continuity and stability of care. Patients and families that need home care, long-term care, home placement and referral services can be assured of this throughout the transition process.

Stability and continuity of care also mean providing stability for the home care workforce. As home and community care support services transition to the new service organization, patients, families, and caregivers will continue to access home care in the same way and through the same trusted contacts. Under the proposed legislation, the employees of the home and community care support service organizations, including unionized and direct-care staff, would transition to the service organization. Their rights under their employment agreements or collective agreements would transfer with them.

Speaker, the proposed changes to modernize home care will also improve the system of care delivery for the many organizations and thousands of care workers in the sector. We are indebted to these amazing individuals who provide front-line care to some of the most vulnerable people in our province and make such a difference in their lives. Our changes are focused on supporting them as they provide this essential care to patients.

As we modernize home and community care, we are advancing the work of Ontario health teams. Through these teams, it will be easier for people to find and navigate home and community care and provide more seamless coordination of services. Ontario health teams will be a one-stop shop where people can be provided with an easy-to-understand home care plan. Under Ontario health teams, people will know the type of care they will receive before they head home from the hospital.

Ontario Health atHome care coordinators would be assigned to work within Ontario health teams and other front-line care settings. They would also work alongside care providers like doctors and nurses and directly with patients while in the hospital or in other care settings. This connected approach would help enable seamless transitions from primary care or hospitals to home care.

An initial group of 12 Ontario health teams has been chosen to lead the way in delivering home care in their communities starting in 2025. With the support of the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health, these teams will focus on transitioning individuals experiencing chronic diseases from primary care or hospitals to home and community care with ease.

Speaker, our government has been making record investments in our public health care system and we are taking bold and innovative action to address long-standing challenges and pressures on our health care system. We know Ontarians deserve better health care. We know our tremendous health care workers need a system that better supports their incredible, world-class skills and allows them to do what they do best: provide exceptional patient care.

That’s why we are so focused on implementing our government’s Your Health plan and taking important, necessary steps to provide Ontarians with better and easier access to services across the health care system. This includes continuing to increase the number of assessments and treatments that can be conveniently provided to Ontarians by pharmacists without first having to get a doctor’s appointment.

We are expanding community surgical and diagnostic centres and access to MRI and CT scans and expanding health care training and education programs, grants and supports.

We are taking action to break down barriers for internationally educated health care workers and those registered in other provinces and territories to allow them to start working sooner in Ontario.

We are building on the 63,000 new nurses and 8,000 new physicians that have registered to work in Ontario since 2018, along with the thousands of additional personal support workers who are now providing care in our province.

We are fixing long-term care by building more than 30,000 net new long-term-care beds and upgrading more than 28,000 older beds, as well as increasing the amount of care residents receive and increasing the workforce.

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We are supporting patients and health care providers alike through our government’s investment in digital and virtual care, including initiatives such as virtual home and community care, integrated virtual care, remote care management and surgical transitions, and patient portals.

And we are expanding access and improving the way people can connect to home and community care services by increasing funding for these services and breaking down long-standing barriers between home care and other parts of the health care system.

I’d like to share a couple of quotes on what the Convenient Care at Home Act means for home and community care providers and their clients. Sue VanderBent, the CEO of Home Care Ontario, said, “Ontario must massively expand the size and role of the provincial home and community care system to properly care for a growing and aging population. The legislative changes are an important step towards ensuring more Ontarians get the health care they require in the most appropriate setting—at home.”

Deborah Simon, CEO of the Ontario Community Support Association, had this to say: “Home and community care plays a critical role in the future of a strong Ontario health care system. Legislative changes that strengthen this vital service will be important for supporting client care in an integrated health care system.”

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

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

The proposed Convenient Care at Home Act would help us fulfill our commitment to provide Ontarians with the right care in the right place. These changes would build a better, more connected model of home care, bringing decision-making closer to the patient where it belongs and strengthening support for our dedicated health care workers who coordinate and provide front-line care. The integration of home care through Ontario health teams will better connect our care services at the local level, building a model of home care that will ensure services can meet the unique needs of each patient and family.

We all know the only thing better than having care close to home is having care in your home. I encourage everyone in this Legislature to support this important piece of legislation and support better home care and community care for all Ontarians, because not only will it benefit your constituents and communities, but it will help ensure care is there for our loved ones as well, when and where they need it.

I’m now happy to turn my time over and share it with my exceptional parliamentary assistants, the member from Eglinton–Lawrence and the member from Newmarket–Aurora, who will speak further about our government’s efforts to improve home and community care service and provide more connected and convenient health care in Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): I recognize the member for Eglinton–Lawrence.

Mrs. Robin Martin: Let me just start by thanking the Deputy Premier and Minister of Health for her work on introducing this important legislation and her dedication to strengthening our publicly funded health care system and improving home and community care for the people of Ontario no matter where they live.

With a growing and aging population and people living increasingly longer, home and community care is of vital importance for our health care system. Our seniors deserve the very best, and they deserve to be able to live comfortably with dignity at home and access health care services conveniently so they can be healthy and supported in their homes and in their community, where they want to be, close to their loved ones.

As outlined by the Minister of Health and in our recently introduced legislation, the gradual transition of home care into Ontario health teams is a fundamental part of the work we are doing to improve the home care experience for patients, for families and for caregivers, and it will improve how providers collaborate to provide care which is centred around patients.

Speaker, the proposed Convenient Care at Home Act is the latest legislation designed to improve the delivery of home care in Ontario and, if passed, would create a strong and centralized foundation for home care service delivery now and as care is delivered through our Ontario health teams in the future, enabling service provider organizations, health service providers, Ontario Health, and Ontario health teams to implement new models of home care that better connect patients and caregivers with health and other services, including from primary care, community providers, hospitals, and others. Home care would be delivered to patients in a more connected way, as new models of care are implemented and home care is delivered through Ontario health teams.

Connecting home care to other parts of the health care system through Ontario health teams will enable easier transitions for patients from one type of care to another, such as from hospital to home, and make teamwork and communication easier among providers, patients and caregivers. This will help ensure we are making the very best use of our whole health care system and all of the capacity in it.

Continuity of patient care is a foundational part of this plan. Maintaining stable home care delivery while transitioning to Ontario health teams requires careful planning and preparation. We have made significant progress already in modernizing the home care sector, achieving better patient outcomes through system integration and ensuring that our publicly funded health care system remains accessible and sustainable for future generations.

Our government is supporting modernization with significant investments to expand system capacity, including the permanent wage enhancement for personal support workers and the temporary retention initiative for nurses, plus significant funding for service expansion and for new models of care. The government is investing $1 billion over three years, which was actually expedited this year, including nearly $300 million to stabilize the home and community care workforce. This is a historic investment into home care that supports better working conditions, including compensation for travel time.

In 2020, our government introduced the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act. This established a new framework for home and community care. This new legislative framework, alongside new home and community care regulations, took effect in 2022. The legislative framework was a first step designed to facilitate the delivery of home care by Ontario health teams and enable new models of care, including changes to care coordination.

The Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act ushered in a modernized and flexible framework for home and community care. This framework enables Ontario health teams to provide home care services as well as make it more flexible and efficient for contracted service provider organizations to coordinate and deliver care.

To build on this work, one of the first steps under the proposed Convenient Care at Home Act would be to integrate the 14 Home and Community Care Support Services organizations into a single organization called Ontario Health atHome, which would take on responsibility for coordinating all home care services across the province through Ontario health teams, under Ontario Health. Establishing one single organization will help us address the challenges in delivering home care, while promoting efficiency, stability for patients and staff, and consistency of service delivery.

Through the transition of Home and Community Care Support Services to Ontario Health atHome, staff employment and collective agreements will continue to ensure continuity for patients and staff.

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Ontario Health atHome will provide critical operational supports, including care coordination supports and back-office services, to enable efficient care delivery, with Ontario health teams focused on patient-facing clinical delivery and Ontario Health atHome focused on supporting that care. Instead of different policies or processes, or separate information technology systems, one single organization will be more efficient, cutting down on administrative duplication and bureaucracy and creating a more seamless experience for patients and their families.

Ontario Health would fund and oversee the organization Ontario Health atHome, which would be a crown agency, just like the home and community care support service organizations. They would be able to align funding and oversight of home and community care, and ensure better alignment across the health care sector, while supporting convenient, connected, high-quality home and community care for patients and caregivers through our Ontario health teams.

Establishing Ontario Health atHome would also support the effective “scale and spread” of new models of care already in place in parts of the province, as well as create a platform to support consistent and equitable care delivery across Ontario health teams.

Ontario Health has proven itself with its significant experience in health system integration. Ontario Health has already successfully integrated 22 former health agencies and organizations—ranging from Cancer Care Ontario to eHealth to Health Quality Ontario—into a single streamlined organization. They have brought together the expertise and knowledge from all of these agencies to deliver a more connected and convenient health care system.

Ontario Health is also implementing our government’s Digital First for Health Strategy, and they support the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence, which is helping to implement the Roadmap to Wellness, our comprehensive mental health and addictions strategy.

Speaker, for years, there has been significant variation in access to care across the province, and this was identified as a real opportunity for improvement. All Ontarians deserve the same standard of care, no matter where they live, at every stage of their life.

Ontario’s home and community care support service organizations, which would transition to a single agency under Ontario Health called Ontario Health atHome, have also been collaborating to support more connected home care and to support Ontario health teams. Across the province, we are already seeing impactful results. Let me just give a few examples.

In Central East, a multidisciplinary mobile emergency diversion team has been established. It is made up of rapid-response nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurse practitioners and community paramedicine providers. This multidisciplinary team assists with immediate patient care needs, like administering medications, wound care, and home safety assessments, until the contracted home care services can be secured. This temporary and urgent hands-on care allows patients to be discharged from hospital sooner, and also helps prevent a return trip to the emergency department, while helping to preserve hospital beds for those who need them most. The multidisciplinary mobile emergency team was first piloted in the Peterborough area, and it helped to divert 92 emergency department visits within just 120 days.

In Durham, Home and Community Care Support Services Central East is supporting a local Ontario health team leading project, which will deliver an integrated system of care for the residents of downtown Oshawa. The residents of this area have higher rates of chronic conditions and a higher utilization of emergency departments and community and social services compared to the regional average. With this particular project, called the downtown Oshawa neighbourhood integrated model of care, patients will be able to access care from various providers on-site at a local apartment building that is also home to a significant number of seniors facing socio-economic challenges. This integrated model of care will include on-site care coordinators, community paramedicine providers, Lakeridge mental health services, Community Care Durham, and contracted service provider organizations. Care may also be accessed through self-referrals and primary-care referrals. The patient pathway is based on the principle of “no wrong door” for services.

I saw a similar pilot in Burlington, when I went with my colleague the MPP from Burlington to visit the Burlington Ontario Health Team organization, which has a community wellness hub which has similar services.

In North Simcoe Muskoka, a stroke care coordinator role has been developed to help patients transition more easily from hospital to home after experiencing a stroke. Based out of the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre and supported by the Central East Stroke Network, this program has helped increase the number of stroke patients admitted to the home and community care support services’ stroke pathway and supported admissions to the pathway from all of the hospitals in the area. Patients, hospitals and the community alike all benefit from this program. We have seen a reduction in hospital readmissions for stroke patients, and improved integration between home care and outpatient programs.

In Central West, the hospital-to-home direct nursing service has a dedicated team of nurses to support palliative patients through regular check-ins and symptom monitoring. These nurses assess patients and can provide appropriate patient care, which helps to prevent the need for emergency intervention. The hospital-to-home nurse completes weekly clinical assessments of the patients, their symptoms and the situation in their home, and provides education and resources to support the patient, the family or caregiver, so that the patient can remain safely in their own home, which is something that so many of our constituents tell us that they want for their families, for their friends and for their neighbours.

Home and Community Care Support Services South West has also implemented palliative care initiatives such as providing specialized education, which is enabling patients to have access to nurses with more specialized skills in palliative care and supports more patient- and family-centred end-of-life care in their place of choice: at home.

The new model of care, called @home, will ensure hospitals and health care partners are working together to deliver an integrated approach for patients, for their families and their caregivers while they transition to home from the hospital. Most patients enrolled in @home programs have been seniors who are at significant risk for re-hospitalization. Patients receive care for up to 16 weeks, after which they may transition to home and community care support services for ongoing health care and personal supports. Home and Community Care Support Services Central have supported the safe transition of hundreds of patients through recently established @home programs from five hospitals already: Humber River in Toronto, Mackenzie Health in Richmond Hill and Vaughan, Oak Valley Health in Markham-Stouffville, North York General, and Southlake in Newmarket.

Once patients are safely at home, home care providers work together to develop a plan to meet each patient’s individual needs, including services such as nursing, personal support, restorative or rehabilitation services, and medical equipment and supplies. This connected patient-centred model of care has optimized patient recovery while also helping to support and protect hospital capacity.

These are impressive accomplishments that are demonstrating, on the ground, the exciting opportunities and advantages for patients with integrated models of care. We will continue to build on this work and deliver more wins for patients and communities as we transition the home and community care support services organizations into a single agency: Ontario Health atHome.

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And as local home care delivery becomes the responsibility of our Ontario health teams, there will be even more opportunities to provide integrated and effective care for patients and families, suited to their particular needs in that community. They will be part of a more connected health care system, with an integrated model of care delivery that is better structured and equipped to provide patients with faster and easier access to home and community care.

We continue to see more and more examples of the benefits of connected and integrated care, whether it is the province’s community paramedicine initiative, where paramedics work alongside home care and primary care providers to give people living with chronic health conditions additional supports to live at home more independently and prevent return visits to the emergency department, or through our expanded 911 patient care models that give paramedics flexibility to treat certain 911 patients on-scene, in their homes, or take them to a more appropriate care facility in the community rather than just an emergency room. This approach allows more people to be diverted from emergency departments, and instead receive faster and more appropriate care.

Speaker, home care is clearly a vital part of our health care sector, connecting patients to the care that they need in the comfort of their homes, while allowing the broader system to function more efficiently and serve patients better.

As our government has continued to modernize home and community care, including planning the transition of home care to Ontario health teams, we have listened carefully to and worked closely with our service provider organizations, our home care staff, patients and families, and other system partners to ensure that there is a solid foundation of care that is more seamlessly connected with other parts of our health care system and which is based on the core principle of patient-centred care.

A key part of our ongoing effort towards a modern, patient-focused model of home care is the continuity—as I said before—of patient care as we make this transition. It is essential that we avoid disruption for patients and families. And that is why our government has carefully engaged in thoughtful planning and preparation to ensure stable home care delivery is maintained. At the same time, we are making improvements to care through this program, and the gradual transition for Ontario health teams will make that happen.

The proposed Convenient Care at Home Act is critical to supporting Ontario health teams to continue to forge these relationships and these strong connections, and to better integrate home care across our health care system. Our government has taken innovative, bold and decisive action to strengthen our health care system.

After 25 years of not really much change, we are working collaboratively with our health and community partners to implement a more connected and convenient system for Ontarians, so they can get the health care they need where and when they need it. The proposed act today, the Convenient Care at Home Act, is really another step forward to ensure that Ontarians get the patient-centred care that they need and deserve.

I will now pass the rest of the time over to my colleague the MPP from Newmarket–Aurora, the other parliamentary assistant to health.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Further debate?

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Firstly, I would like to thank the Deputy Premier and Minister of Health for her leadership as we build a stronger, more connected, publicly funded health care system for the people of Ontario—I’d also like to thank my fellow parliamentary assistant for her remarks today, for her support to the minister and for her mentorship to me on this file—a health care system that is truly patient-centred and provides convenient and connected care when and where people need it. I am proud to rise in the House today to speak to the Convenient Care at Home Act for its third reading, both representing my constituents of Newmarket–Aurora and as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health.

Speaker, our government is making record investments in health care. Under the leadership of Premier Ford, we have increased the health budget by more than $16 billion since 2018. These funds have been invested to improve health care delivery and connect Ontarians to faster, more convenient care closer to home. We have made investments across the health care system to ensure that patients can receive the care they need when they need it, expanding access to primary care providers; supporting health care infrastructure and growing the health care workforce; bringing down wait times for services; reducing unnecessary emergency department visits, avoidable readmissions to hospitals and the rate of alternate level of care; improving access to mental health and addiction services, including for individuals in crisis; improving access to digital services; providing people with more connected and convenient care through Ontario health teams; and delivering better-connected care for people in their community and in their home, including improving transitions and wait times between hospital and home care.

Today, as we have the third reading of the proposed Convenient Care at Home Act, we recognize it as another important milestone in providing better home and community care in our province and in supporting Ontario health teams to deliver comprehensive, integrated care to patients, families and caregivers. If passed, the Convenient Care at Home Act will create a new organization called Ontario Health atHome, which has been spoken about today and previously.

Speaker, here in Ontario we enjoy world-class health services thanks to our incredibly skilled and dedicated health care workers. They are the pillar of our health care system and essential in supporting healthy communities. I’d like to take this moment to thank them for everything they do. We sincerely appreciate the work they do to keep Ontarians healthy and cared for.

Our government knows the status quo is not working. I know all of us as MPPs have heard time and again from patients, caregivers and their families about the barriers they face in accessing care. We have listened and we continue to listen, and we have taken bold, innovative and decisive action to transform our health care system to better focus on the needs of patients, families and caregivers, as well as better support for our health care providers.

Since 2019, we have taken concrete action to build a patient-centred health care system with the creation of the Ontario health teams, which will be further supported and empowered by the proposed Convenient Care at Home Act.

In these past few years, we have made great progress in improving the delivery of health care in the province through the establishment of the Ontario health teams. With the Connecting Care Act, which established Ontario health teams, we created a model of integrated, population health-based care delivery. Ontario health teams bring together health and community care providers to work and care for a population as one team, even across organizations or physical locations. We now have 57 Ontario health teams, established in every region of the province. This summer, we announced three new Ontario health teams in northeastern Ontario, which will better connect and coordinate care for people in communities including Chapleau, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Hearst, Hornepayne, Timmins, Sudbury, Espanola, Manitoulin and Elliot Lake. We are very close to the goal of full provincial coverage, ensuring that every person in Ontario has the support of an Ontario health team close to home. The Ministry of Health and Ontario Health continue to engage with providers in West Parry Sound so they can become an Ontario health team in the very near future, building on their strong foundation to integrating and improving care in their community.

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We are seeing Ontario health teams have success across the province, delivering a variety of wins for patients and providers. Ontario health teams are exploring new partnerships with home care providers for more convenient and coordinated transition services.

One leader I’m very proud of is Southlake Regional Health Centre in my great riding of Newmarket–Aurora. In my community, they are a member of the Southlake Community Ontario Health Team, with their Geriatric Alternate Level of Care Reduction Program. The program ensures patients who have completed an acute-care hospital stay have a home care plan in place before they leave.

A number of Ontario health teams are developing new models of integrated home care by participating in a leading projects initiative. For example, the Guelph Wellington Ontario Health Team will implement an integrated primary care team model that integrates home and community care support service coordinators into primary care teams to bridge information gaps, enhance care quality and ensure that home care providers are dedicated members of the patient’s care team.

In Durham, the Ontario health team will implement a primary and community care hub model, using a central location to provide wraparound services for older adults, ensuring seamless transitions among services and a flexible support network including non-traditional providers to address diverse patient needs.

Ontario health teams are also enhancing access to home care and primary care services so that patients and families can get the care they need in the comfort of their homes or communities. For example, the East Toronto Health Partners Ontario Health Team has developed primary and community care response teams to support primary care providers in providing care to homebound and vulnerable seniors with unmet health or social needs.

Ontario Health will be leading next steps in the assessment of these new models so we can learn how to scale and spread these successful approaches. As these new models are replicated across the province, there will be tangible improvements to patient care and patient and family experiences.

The Ontario health team model also provides the opportunity for front-line health care professionals to expand on their great work so they can take the lead at doing what they know best: delivering excellent patient care. Ontario health teams are already transforming how people access care in their communities. And we have seen many examples of health and community providers collaborating to deliver more connected and convenient patient-centred care.

For example, the Algoma Ontario Health Team has established a Community Wellness Bus, bringing primary health care to vulnerable community members, helping to provide easier access to health and social services, improve health outcomes and reduce gaps in mental health and addictions care. Between April 2022 and March 2023, the community wellness bus had more than 5,000 visits.

Another example is a neighbourhood care team that has been established within a seniors’ housing building by the North Toronto Ontario Health Team. The neighbourhood care team provides low-income senior tenants a range of health care services, including regular blood pressure checks, foot care, access to social workers, wellness checks, and attachment to primary care.

The Middlesex London Ontario Health Team is another example. They are connecting primary care providers to on-demand video or audio phone interpretation services to enable patients to receive care in the language they are most comfortable using.

And in the north, the Noojmawing Sookatagaing Ontario Health Team has used their surgical transition projects to reduce 30-day emergency department visits by around 32%, and reduced average length of stay by 48%.

The Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team has a remote care monitoring program that has seen positive outcomes in supporting alternate-level-of-care patient discharges from the hospital back into the community. This program is now being spread to other Ontario health teams across the province.

Ontario health teams are continuing their efforts to improve the health care experiences and outcomes for their target patient population with strategies such as advancing digital health and virtual care initiatives, enhancing the quality of home and community care for seniors and their caregivers, creating more seamless care pathways, and making transitions between health care providers smoother for their patients.

Over time, Ontario health teams are expanding the services they provide, and they are continuing to build towards integrated care for their entire attributed population. Once the system matures, Ontario health teams will be accountable for providing a full and coordinated continuum of patient care. Through Ontario health teams, patients will experience improved access to health services, including digital health and virtual care options, better coordination and transitions in care, and better communication and information from their health care providers. And as home care services gradually shift to Ontario health teams and our government modernizes home and community care, patients will benefit from these changes.

The Convenient Care at Home Act, if passed, would establish a strong and centralized foundation for a stable home care system today and as Ontario health teams take on responsibility for home care delivery in the future. Consolidating the 14 Home and Community Care Support Services organizations into Ontario Health atHome will also enable Ontario Health to continue in its role providing funding, oversight and integration of home care with other sectors, while Ontario Health atHome would be focused on service delivery. Ontario Health atHome would be organized to obtain the benefits of having home care in a single organization, under Ontario Health, and organized to serve and be responsive to local Ontario health teams. Home care will be easier to find and navigate, and transitions from hospital to home will be more convenient, with easy-to-understand home care plans for patients and their families.

Speaker, our government continues to support and invest in Ontario health teams. And the Ministry of Health has directly invested more than $118 million to support initial development, build capacity for collaboration and implement the Ontario health team model.

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Ontario health teams are also playing a pivotal role in implementing the province’s Digital First for Health Strategy because in order to have an integrated health care system, we need strong digital capabilities on the front lines of clinical care. The Ministry of Health is working closely with Ontario health teams to support digital health adoption, including the development of digital standards for virtual patient visits, digital health information exchange, online appointment booking and patient portals, while also allowing for Ontario health teams to implement digital solutions in a way that will meet local needs for years to come. Digital health gives front-line providers better access to tools and information to meet the needs of their patients and empowers those patients with more choices in how they can access health care.

Our government has allocated more than $124 million to support Ontario health teams and other health care providers to deliver digital and virtual care options so people in Ontario can easily connect with a health care worker from the comfort of their home. Digital care options can include remote care monitoring and online appointment booking, among other advancements. So far, more than 4.2 million patients have benefited from over 760 approved digital and virtual care projects. And we are measuring the success of digital projects to see their significant impact on health care delivery and to consider the opportunities for spreading and scaling initiatives to other health care teams across the province, because we know that Ontarians want to remain in their home as long as possible, surrounded by the people they know and trust.

That’s exactly why the Convenient Care at Home Act is so important. We have the opportunity to modernize the province’s home care system for future generations and better ensure people in every corner of our great province can connect with the supports and services they need for years to come, in the place where they want to be. The only thing better than having care close to home is having care in your home. If passed, this legislation will ensure just that.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): It is now time for questions.

Mme France Gélinas: It was interesting listening to the people who came in and did deputations. All of them agree on one thing: Our home care system is not able to recruit and retain a stable workforce. They are not able to meet the needs of the people who qualify for home care right now and who cannot gain access because the different contractors are not able to hire PSWs.

What in this bill have you got to make sure that our home care system will have enough PSWs and other staff to meet the needs of the people who presently qualify for home care and will continue to qualify for home care? We put forward the motion to make PSW jobs good jobs, permanent full-time jobs and well paid. Where in this bill do you address the number one issue in home care?

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Response? I recognize the Minister Health.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: We didn’t need to put it in the bill because we’ve actually actioned that. Not only have we stabilized wages by first making temporary pandemic pay for PSWs permanent in previous initiatives and policies that we’ve put in place, but also, of course, through expanded access to training more PSWs across Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Questions?

Ms. Natalie Pierre: Thank you to my colleagues for their remarks this morning. The Ontario health team in my riding of Burlington was established in 2019, and since that time, has been working together as one coordinated team to provide integrated care to the residents in my community.

I heard the member from Newmarket–Aurora talk about digital health care resources. I just wanted to let you know that the Burlington OHT has created a user-friendly app that helps link residents to health and hospital services, mental health services and palliative care, just to name a few of the options outlined that are available on their app.

I know that there are 12 Ontario health teams that are participating right now. I’m just wondering if you could tell me which other communities were chosen, besides the one in my community of Burlington.

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: I’d like to thank the member from Burlington for her question. And yes, we have an initial group of 12 Ontario health teams that have been chosen to accelerate their work to deliver the home care in their communities, and that will be starting in 2025. So to answer the question of the member, the 12 health teams are: the All Nation Health Partners Ontario Health Team, serving Kenora and Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls; of course, her own Burlington Ontario health team; Cou—

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Couchiching.

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Thank you—Couchiching Ontario Health Team, serving Orillia and area; Durham Ontario Health Team; East Toronto Health Partners, serving east Toronto; Frontenac, Lennox and Addington—my seatmate here, that’s his area—serving Kingston and Greater Napanee; Greater Hamilton; Middlesex London Ontario Health Team; Mississauga Ontario Health Team; Nipissing Wellness Ontario Health Team; Noojmawing Sookatagaing Ontario Health Team; and North York Toronto—

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Back to the member from Nickel Belt.

Mme France Gélinas: Our home care system is dominated by for-profit companies, so what happens is that if you need home care, a care coordinator will come to you and assess you and assess your needs. Those care coordinators were employees of the CCAC. They became employees of the LHINs, then they became employees of the Home and Community Care, and now they will become employees of Ontario Health atHome. But the plan is to bring them back to Ontario health teams.

We all know that Ontario health teams will also soon be dominated by for-profit. Now that we have for-profit long-term-care homes, for-profit home and community care, many of the big players of the Ontario health teams will be for-profit. Many presenters asked to make sure that the care coordinators do not get delegated to a for-profit agency. We put amendments forward to do just that. Those were voted down.

Aren’t you afraid of the conflict of interest once a care coordinator works for a for-profit agency?

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Back the Minister of Health.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Our government has always been and will continue to be committed to a publicly funded health care system. That includes Ontario Health atHome. And the suggestion that local organizations are in some way going to not look at the patient as their centre is frankly really hard to stomach. We have organizations working in our community, whether they are hospitals, long-term care, primary care, all working together to make sure that the patient continues to be their focus. That is what Ontario health teams do, and will do, and that is what we have proposed with our Ontario community care at home.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Further questions?

Mr. Adil Shamji: The Information and Privacy Commissioner, an independent and non-partisan officer, identified rampant confidentiality issues with this legislation and made a series of recommendations, all of which were declined by the government during clause-by-clause consideration. What action is this government taking to actually ensure that this bill provides any protection for patient confidentiality, recognizing that none has been identified, as written?

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Back to the Minister of Health for a response.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Prior to drafting the legislation, we worked actively with the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and we’re continuing with that work. But to suggest that clinicians should not be able to have conversations with each other to better serve the patient—that is exactly what we are doing with this legislation. We are ensuring that that individual patient does not have to constantly repeat all of the tests, all of the care pathways, as they transition through their treatment. We will actively continue to work with the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

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The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Further questions?

Mr. John Jordan: Thank you to the minister for this legislation. It couldn’t come too soon. A lot of the calls that I received when I was working in health care were regarding access to home and community care. It was further difficult to deal with because I was dealing with two different LHINs. I’m wondering if the minister can tell us how this legislation will help with the navigation and access to home and community care.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: While we are working through all of the details, we need to make sure that our Ontario health teams are prepared. I can appreciate the member is anxious to get this up and running in his community. We need to make sure, and that’s why we have set the 2025 date. I believe that you will see your constituents will now have a far better appreciation and understanding of what to expect as they leave hospital and go into home and community care. It won’t matter, frankly, which community they are living in; they will have a consistent approach in that transition from hospital to home.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Further questions?

Mme France Gélinas: We managed to table a lot of motions and amendments to this bill in the very short period of time that we had been given, but it didn’t matter if we talked about, number one, making PSW jobs good jobs so that they can recruit and retain a stable workforce; that we talked about the conflict of interest of having care coordinators working for for-profit agencies; that we talked about the Information and Privacy Commissioner writing to us and asking us to make changes to the bill to make sure that we protect patients’ privacy; that we asked for changes to the board so that we can see what is happening with the boards of the LHINs, that we have access to their minutes, we have access to their meetings. None of this will be available once the LHINs are no longer there in Ontario Health atHome. They voted each and every one of those amendments down.

How can you ensure transparency—

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Response? I recognize the Minister of Health.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: I will agree that the member opposite absolutely did submit a number of very last-minute amendments in committee. The difference is that over 50% of them were withdrawn by their own members or actually ruled out of order by the Clerk.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Time for one quick question.

Mr. Adil Shamji: Very clearly, Ontario Health atHome fails to assume the same responsibilities that the local health integration networks previously assumed. The minister implied during public hearings that she expects the hospitals to take on all the responsibilities, even through they’re not capable of doing that. What will she do to ensure that hospitals get the support that they need?

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Quick response.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: The member opposite knows full well that there is nothing in this legislation that would suggest that hospitals are going to be taking over this responsibility. Having said that, we have some incredible examples of hospitals which have stepped up to work with their home care providers to make sure that as patients transition from hospital to continue their treatment pathway at home, they have the ability—

The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): That is all the time we have for questions and answers. We are going to move on to members’ statements.

Third reading debate deemed adjourned.

Members’ Statements

Bullying Awareness Week

Mr. Ric Bresee: Speaker, this is Bullying Awareness Week. In school boards across the province, classes are taking time to discuss ways to combat bullying in schools.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health reports that over one in five students have reported being bullied at school. Many of us in this House have experienced bullying as children or teens or have children that have experienced it.

Bullying can take many, many forms, including physical, verbal, written or even cyberbullying these days. Typically, it’s an aggressive behaviour that repeats over and over again. The results are that children and teenagers may develop mental health challenges, social anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem or even a physical illness, all because of bullying. They may become ashamed or discouraged to “tattle” on the bully.

To all the parents out there, please watch for signs that your child may be the victim of a bully. They may not want to go to school or join in activities. They may act differently than they normally do. They may start to lose money or personal items.

But most importantly, to the students across Ontario, please, remember that you are not alone. Tell an adult you trust. Talk to your friend or your sibling about it, or call the kids help line or text “CONNECT” to 686868. We, together, can stop bullying across Ontario.

Patty Coates

Mme France Gélinas: Last night, I attended the retirement party for Patty Coates. Patty has been the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, Canada’s largest provincial labour federation, from 2019 until two days ago. Thanks to her leadership, the OFL grew to represent 1.2 million workers in Ontario in 1,500 locals across 54 different unions.

I first met Patty in 2015 when she was elected as secretary-treasurer of the OFL, and she has not stopped impressing me ever since. Patty changed the OFL for the better. Her leadership style is completely different. She’s a collaborator. She brings people together to co-operate, to accomplish goals as a team. Patty is able to listen, in sometimes pretty tense situations, and hear what unites us, not what divides us. She brings together those pieces that everyone agrees on and uses them to unite allies with very different perspectives and priorities. Over the last four years under her leadership, the OFL was able to rally members towards a united labour movement.

Patty’s leadership came to the forefront last year, when this government introduced the Keeping Students in Class Act, an unconstitutional bill that was an attack on every union member, every worker, every student and every parent in this province. They won. The OFL, under Patty’s leadership, brought together workers in a united front that forced this government to step back.

I will miss you, Patty, but remember: I kept your phone number.

Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor

Mr. Anthony Leardi: Once again, it’s a pleasure for me to stand and advise the assembly of some great things happening in the riding of Essex. As we know, one of this government’s goals is to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years, and one of the organizations that’s going to help get to that goal is the Women’s Enterprise Skills Training, or WEST, organization.

WEST concentrates on giving skills and training women, especially women in underrepresented groups, in the skilled trades. WEST has a collaboration with another great organization called LIUNA, the Labourers’ International Union of North America Local 625. Together, WEST and LIUNA are going to help build the skills we need to build homes.

All of this is made possible in part through a generous grant given to these organizations by the government of the province of Ontario. I want to thank the great people at LIUNA and the great people at WEST, especially Rose Anguiano Hurst, who is from my hometown of Amherstburg, Ontario, for helping us help the people get the skills that we need to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years.

Extremism

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: I rise today to speak about the insidious grip of extremism in its various forms taking hold in Ontario. It casts a dangerous and hateful shadow upon the very fabric of our society: trans students bullied and assaulted at schools, Indian residential school and Holocaust deniers emboldened, Jewish-owned businesses and synagogues vandalized, Arabs wearing their keffiyehs targeted, women wearing hijabs harassed, and three generations of a London family murdered because they were Muslim by a driver radicalized by the dark web and extremely hateful rhetoric from ultra-conservative politicians.

White supremacy, with its vile ideologies, seeks to assert dominance, tearing apart the rich tapestry of our multicultural landscape. Transphobia and homophobia deny individuals the fundamental right to live authenticcally and without fear. Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia propagate hate and discrimination against religious communities, creating a climate of insecurity and prejudice.

We must combat these ideologies vehemently through legislative action, education and community engagement. Let us work together across party lines to eradicate extremism. Let us denounce and outlaw disinformation campaigns which breed misogyny, radicalization, white nationalism and domestic terrorism. Our actions today can ensure that unity and inclusivity prevail.

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Sharif Rahman

Mr. Rick Byers: Colleagues, yesterday, Sharif Rahman of Owen Sound was honoured as the 2023 recipient of the YMCA Peace Medal. This award recognizes special people who commit time without special resources, community status or money to promote and build a better community for us all.

Sharif is a very deserving winner of this award. Sadly, though, he is receiving this award posthumously. Sharif grew up in Bangladesh, attained a master’s degree at the University of Glasgow, and lived in England before moving to Canada in 2013. He bought The Curry House in downtown Owen Sound in 2015.

Sharif always looked for ways to help others in the community and did so in so many ways, but on August 17, everything changed. Sharif was the victim of an assault outside his restaurant after a dispute with three customers who refused to pay. The assault left him unresponsive and on life support. A week later, he died. He was 44.

The Owen Sound community was deeply impacted by this event. The night before Sharif’s passing, hundreds of people walked silently through the downtown. Many stopped at The Curry House to place flowers and shed tears.

The YMCA of Owen Sound Grey Bruce praised Sharif’s “unwavering dedication” to the community and “the genuine warmth with which he touched the lives of everyone he encountered.” Thank you, Sharif, for all you did for others, always thinking of those around you before yourself. May you rest in peace.

Applause.

Learning disabilities

MPP Jamie West: Today, I want to talk about the Learning Disability Awareness Month flag-raising that I went to by the Learning Disabilities Association of Sudbury. It got me thinking about my son Sam. When he was in grade 3, my son Sam hated going to school—absolutely hated it. If there was a supply teacher, it was so difficult for him because he felt stupid, and we let him stay home if the supply teacher was there for more than one day.

The thing is that Sam had a learning disability. It was undiagnosed at the time, but because of that, although he’s a very bright young man, he felt like he was stupid. It’s organizations like the Learning Disabilities Association of Sudbury that worked with my son to help with adaptations so that he could be strong and successful as a student, like they do with many students.

At the flag-raising, we had members there from Sudbury Five, the basketball team, and Sudbury Wolves, our local hockey team, and one of the members, when he spoke, said, “We all play for Sudbury.” I love how that resonates with me; the importance of “we all play for Sudbury” and that these kids with learning disabilities can be so successful—so incredibly successful—with the right adaptations, the right way of looking the things, the right way of helping them to learn the way they were designed learn.

My son Sam, many years later, now almost 26, is going to be graduating. Next year he’ll be a teacher, and he’ll have that knowledge and information going forward, reaching other kids who learn differently, just like he did.

Persons with disabilities

Mr. Deepak Anand: Being inclusive means embracing diversity with open arms, valuing every voice, to foster belonging for people with different abilities. It’s about creating spaces where everyone feels respected, heard and appreciated.

December 3 marks the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Despite a strong job market, in 2022, the employment rate for 16- to 64-year-olds with disabilities was 15 points below those without disabilities.

As we look toward marking this day, I want to emphasize the importance of supporting people with disabilities by removing barriers, by providing equal opportunities, access and support to thrive in their chosen careers. That is why the Ontario government is supporting over 3,700 individuals with disabilities to gain meaningful employment by investing $6.5 million through the SDF. Additionally, government is supporting businesses to champion the cause with the Discover Ability Roadmap, enhancing inclusivity through the EnAbling Change Partnership Program.

In Mississauga-Malton, Jake’s House Employment Training Program is an innovative, adaptable program that supports individuals with disability to enter the workforce in fields like construction and security. Thank you, Jake’s House, and everyone, for working together to build inclusive communities and to make change for the better.

Together, let’s nurture every dream, ensuring inclusivity is not just a buzzword but a cornerstone of success.

Refugee services

Ms. Patrice Barnes: Today I want to take a moment to acknowledge two amazing women in Ajax that have been an example of leadership and compassion: Pastor Fredrica Walters from Christian Life Outreach Centre and Elaine Gardener from Durham region.

Both of these women, along with others, have continued to devote themselves to ensuring the smooth transition and integration of refugees arriving in Ajax and Durham. Many of us witnessed the plight of refugees on Toronto streets earlier this year. Even though this is still an ongoing concern, these women rallied together and galvanized the community to support these newcomers in Ajax. Their unwavering commitment stems from a profound empathy and understanding of the hardships faced by others fleeing conflict and persecution. With boundless energy and a warm, welcoming spirit, they orchestrated various initiatives aimed at providing essential resources, language assistance, and emotional support for these newcomers to my community.

Many thanks as well to our Ajax welcome centre, and to Hermia and her team, who worked closely with these wonderful ladies to facilitate and support the initiatives. Whether organizing community gatherings to foster connection or spearheading educational workshops, they have been an amazing team—putting together resumés, applying for jobs. They exemplify the true essence of empathy and solidarity, inspiring others in Ajax to join hands in embracing and empowering the newest members of our community.

Thank you for all that you do.

Cost of living

MPP Andrea Hazell: Mr. Speaker, our young people in this province are all concerned for their future in this province. I have spoken to so many young people in Scarborough, and here’s what they tell me: Life is unaffordable. They have more student debt than ever, because the Conservatives cut OSAP grants. They don’t make enough to buy food, to pay rent, and pay back their student loan. They cannot move out of their parents’ homes, because the cost of rent is so high and this government has not built affordable housing.

Our young adults deserve to be able to live independent lives, but instead we’re seeing them driven to food banks. We all want a better future for our kids, but they can’t afford to thrive here anymore in Ontario. Many of them are leaving our province, abandoning Ontario because Ontario is abandoning them.

But I want the young people of our province, from Scarborough and beyond, to know I am here to always fight for them. They are our future now, and they are our future generation to come and our leaders for tomorrow.

Sault Ste. Marie Rotary Santa Claus Parade

Mr. Ross Romano: One of the things I get to really enjoy—I think we all should hopefully take the time to enjoy, and I trust we all do. This time of year, we, as elected officials, get to participate in our Santa Claus parades in a lot of our communities across the province.

In Sault Ste. Marie, we had our annual Santa Claus Parade that is hosted by our Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie this past Saturday. I had a great time participating in that. We put a float together. I want to thank my staff, Kathy, Jen and Edie, for working so hard to put it together. I want to thank my mom, Lina, and my kids, Jayden, Jackson, and Jarrett, who participated with me in walking down Queen Street in Sault Ste. Marie and handing out candy canes to thousands. I think we distributed just shy of 3,500 candy canes on Saturday.

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One of the fun moments is being able to participate with your family, I find, in these parades, getting to walk up and down the streets and shake hands with the members of your community. It is a fun moment that I think we all have as elected officials. I trust so many of you enjoy that as well.

Of course, the one drawback, Mr. Speaker, as I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of parades as well, is you never—and my kids point this out as we’re always leaving the parade route. That’s when you actually see the floats, as everybody is dismantling them along the parade route. You don’t get to see them, Mr. Speaker, but it’s fun to participate and welcome Santa Claus to town.

American Thanksgiving

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order, the member for Newmarket–Aurora.

Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Yes. Speaker, I would like to wish all of our American friends a very happy US Thanksgiving.

I forgot to say “happy US Thanksgiving” to my husband this morning. Happy Thanksgiving to my husband and all my American family.

House sittings

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that, pursuant to standing order 9(h), the Clerk has received written notice from the government House leader indicating that a temporary change in the weekly meeting schedule of the House is required, and therefore the House shall commence at 9 a.m. on Monday, November 27, 2023, for the proceeding of orders of the day.

Introduction of Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I recognize the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Hon. Greg Rickford: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to introduce two constituents today—

Hon. Graydon Smith: It’s great to be—

Hon. Greg Rickford: Oh, I’m sorry.

Hon. Graydon Smith: Now, if the Minister of Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs would like to introduce my wife, I may have questions, but you’re welcome to do it.

However, I am thrilled to have my wonderful wife Melissa joining us today up in the west gallery.

Ms. Marit Stiles: Good morning. It’s my pleasure to welcome to the chamber this morning David Gale, president of ACTRA Toronto, and Alistair Hepburn, executive director of ACTRA Toronto. ACTRA Toronto is the largest organization of cultural workers in Canada. Welcome to your House.

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

Hon. Greg Rickford: I’ll try that again, Mr. Speaker. I’ve got some tinnitus in this left ear, so I couldn’t hear it.

But anyway, I want to introduce two constituents from the great Kenora–Rainy River riding: Henry Wall is here, the chief administrative officer of the Kenora District Services Board, and my favourite—no offence, Henry—Christy Radbourne, the director of education for the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board. We welcome them to this magnificent place.

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I want to welcome the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition to the Legislature today, and in particular the attendees, Rev. Dr. Susan Eagle, Elin Goulden, Greg deGroot-Maggetti, Alexander Wilson, Ryan Friedman and Natasha Fransblow. Welcome to the Legislature; we look forward to meeting you today.

Ms. Laura Smith: It’s with great pleasure that I welcome constituent of Thornhill and author of You Don’t Make Friends with Salad, Jessica Gerlock.

Mr. John Jordan: I’m very pleased to introduce the CAO of the beautiful town of Perth, Ontario: Michael Touw and his partner, Janelle Warren.

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: This morning I have some powerful women in the House today. I have Mohini Datta-Ray, executive director of Planned Parenthood Toronto; Krista MacNeil, executive director of Victim Services of Durham Region; Amanda Black, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Ottawa Hospital and president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada; and Dr. Elaine Jolly, Research Chair in Women’s Health Research. I would like to welcome them all to the House, and thank you for being such a strong advocate—thank you, Dr. Black.

Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: It’s a beautiful morning, everyone. I’d like to introduce page Henry Hasler. Although he’s from the riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington, he’s currently residing in beautiful Beaches–East York, where I will have many a conversation with him about great things in our riding.

Mr. Ric Bresee: I, also, would like to introduce the wonderful page captain that we have here, Henry Hasler. We also have his family here—Joel Hasler, Beth Hasler, Maggie and Mary Hasler are here visiting from my riding. We greatly appreciate their being here and Henry’s service today.

And if you’ll bear with me, Speaker, I do have a second introduction. The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus representatives are here today: warden of Renfrew county, Mr. Peter Emon; warden of Peterborough county, Bonnie Clark, who’s the vice-chair; CAO of Peterborough county, Sheridan Graham; Emmanuel Pinto, executive assistant to the warden in Peterborough county; and Meredith Staveley-Watson, manager of government relations for the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus. I know the EOWC is meeting with many members today. I wish them the best of luck.

Mr. Steve Clark: Speaker, you’ll appreciate this since you were elected in 1990. I have a friend and colleague who’s worked for our caucus in government, in opposition, even as the third party. Today is her 33rd work anniversary. I want to congratulate Dianne Tominac.

Hon. Michael D. Ford: Good morning, colleagues. It is my pleasure to welcome to the Legislature today the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity, which are made up of members from right across the province of Ontario. I just want to thank them for their continued and dedicated work year-round in creating a safer, stronger and more inclusive Ontario.

Mr. Michael Mantha: I’d like to introduce and welcome the chiefs and councillors from the Wabun Tribal Council: Jason Batise, executive director from Wabun Tribal Council; Melanie Boucher, Ogimaa from Matachewan First Nation; Jennifer Constant, Ogimaa from Mattagami First Nation; Murray Ray, Ogimaa from Flying Post First Nation; Kevin Tangie, councillor from Brunswick House First Nation; and Anita Stephens, Ogimaa from Chapleau Ojibwe First Nation. I look forward to having discussions with them on their energy and economic opportunities later this afternoon. Welcome to the Legislature.

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: It’s not every day that we have First Nations leadership here. I’d like to welcome Chief Melanie Boucher, Matachewan; Chief Jennifer Constant, Mattagami; Chief Murray Ray, Flying Post; Chief Anita Stephens, Chapleau Ojibwe; council member Kevin Tangie, Brunswick House; council member Stan Fox, Matachewan; Jason Batise, Wabun Tribal Council; and from Chapleau Ojibwe, Joshua Memegos and Leonard Stephens.

Also, from Hydro One: Matthew Jackson, Sean Tutak, Jessica Maga and Aaron Ward. Meegwetch for coming.

Question Period

Government accountability

Ms. Marit Stiles: Good morning, Speaker. This question is for the Premier. It’s now been a year since the government announced they would open up the greenbelt for sprawling development. Thanks to the hard work of journalists and citizens and the official opposition NDP, along with bombshell reports from the Auditor General and the Integrity Commissioner, we know that this scheme set up a few well-connected land speculators for an $8-billion payday. This corruption scandal has gotten so big, Speaker, that the RCMP is on the case, interviewing key figures in this government.

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Will the Premier finally tell all Ontarians the full extent of his involvement in the greenbelt scandal, or do we have to wait for the RCMP to finish their criminal investigation?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to caution the Leader of the Opposition on some of the language that she’s using.

I’ll allow the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to reply.

Hon. Paul Calandra: As the Leader of the Opposition knows full well, this government has been focused on building homes since day one. The Premier has been very, very clear on that. Since 2018, we’ve brought in housing supply action plans each and every year of our mandate. Because of those positive builds, we have seen housing starts increase to their highest levels in over 15 years, and that includes purpose-built rentals.

With respect to the greenbelt, we have also been clear that we made a public policy decision that was focused on building more homes faster. The policy decision was obviously not supported by the people of the province of Ontario. That is why there is a bill before this House to restore those lands to the greenbelt, but to go even further: to provide an additional layer of protection on the lands, layers of protection that have never been the case ever before. We’re quite proud of that. But at the same time, we will double down and make sure that we build those 1.5 million homes for the people of the province of Ontario.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: Three cabinet ministers have resigned or run for the exit. From stag and does to Vegas vacations to secret USB keys, there are still so many unanswered questions. Ontarians deserve answers.

Staff in the Conservatives’ inner circles are leaving under a cloud of suspicion and they’re lawyering up. The Premier has said the buck stops with him, so let’s hear from him. Will the Premier finally come clean and explain his personal involvement in the greenbelt scandal?

Interjections.

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

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Paul Calandra: I think both the Integrity Commissioner’s report and the Auditor General’s report were clear on the Premier’s involvement, or lack thereof, frankly.

Having said that, Speaker, we are very focused on building 1.5 million homes, on eliminating the obstacles that have been put in the way by the previous Liberal and NDP coalition in this province, which saw housing starts fall to their lowest in years. On top of that, the policies supported by the Liberals and NDP—high debt, high taxes, red tape and out-of-control spending—have led to an inflation crisis across Canada, which has led to the most rapid increase in interest rates that we’ve ever seen in this country. We are also fighting back on that.

But having said all of that, I am very encouraged. We’re still seeing housing starts remain very, very strong, so the people of the province of Ontario can still share in that dream of getting out of their parents’ basements, where the NDP would like to keep them, and having the dream of home ownership be theirs.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: Not even at the height of the Liberals’ gas plant scandal has a government been in such disarray. The government said they were going to clean things up. That’s what this Premier ran on, and now he’s embroiled—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order. I have to be able to hear the Leader of the Opposition, who duly has the floor.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Don’t heckle the Chair.

Start the clock. Leader of the Opposition.

Ms. Marit Stiles: I understand why they’re uncomfortable with this line of questioning, because they’re under RCMP criminal investigation.

The government said they were going to clean things up. That’s what the Premier said when he ran, and now he’s embroiled in a scandal that has seen ethics laws broken. Both the current and former ministers of housing confirmed that interviews with the RCMP were ongoing. My question is for the Premier: How many current or former cabinet ministers or political staff have been questioned by the RCMP?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: I don’t know what the Leader of the Opposition is talking about. The only party in this place that is in disarray, really, is the Leader of the Opposition’s party. You have members in that caucus who refuse to take their seats when she is in her seat, and when they come into this place, the Leader of the Opposition leaves the room. That is where the NDP is right now. You have unions that traditionally supported the NDP disavowing themselves of the support that they once had for that party. I am told that this weekend, the NDP council will debate a motion of censure against their own leader. So when it comes to being in disarray, I think the Leader of the Opposition has a lot to answer for.

What we are doing is this: We are building a strong Ontario. We have cut taxes and eliminated red tape. We have brought bills before this House to improve home care and long-term care. We are building roads, bridges, hospitals. Employment is at its highest—

Interjections.

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

Next question?

Labour policy

Ms. Marit Stiles: Touchy, aren’t they? An RCMP criminal investigation is under way of this government.

This government talks a good game when it comes to workers, but their actions tell a really different story. Ontario’s nurses fought hard to secure wage increases above the limits imposed by this government’s Bill 124, that unconstitutional bill. And since then, other deserving public sector workers have won back some of the wages that this government tried to suppress. They had to take this government to court to do it, though.

My question is to the Premier: Will the Premier finally repeal his unconstitutional Bill 124?

Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I’m incredibly grateful for the tremendous contributions of Ontario’s public sector workers, and I appreciate the opportunity given to me by the Leader of the Opposition to highlight some of the significant investments our government has made and is continuing to make in high-quality services that Ontarians deserve.

When it comes to health care, we’re making record investments in a system that was neglected by the previous government, propped up by the NDP. Our investments have built 3,500 hospital beds across the province. We’ve launched the largest medical school expansion in this province’s history. We’ve registered 63,000 new nurses and we reduced the surgical backlog to pre-pandemic levels. We’re continuing to get shovels in the ground on 15 new hospital developments across the province.

These are critical projects that the NDP and the Liberals have voted against consistently. We will continue to deliver for Ontarians.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, let me tell you, this government did manage to unite labour around one if its policies when they tried to use the “notwithstanding” clause against education workers. This minister knows all about the “notwithstanding” clause. But those workers stood up to this government, and so did we. The Conservatives showed they would rather take away their rights than treat them with respect, and the Premier had to back down from that one.

To the Premier again: Has the Premier finally realized he can’t push around working people in this province, or is he going to try it again?

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

Hon. Stephen Lecce: Talking about our relationship with unions, I’m very proud to confirm that this government got a deal with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, delivering stability for 950,000 children—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The Minister of Education is about 10 feet away from me, and I can’t hear him. Sorry to interrupt. He still has a few seconds on the clock.

We can start the clock. The Minister of Education can reply.

Hon. Stephen Lecce: So yes, we can get deals with our education partners. We’re proud to deliver stability with EFTO, and likewise with CUPE and likewise OSSTF. And we’re urging OECTA, we’re urging AEFO, the Catholic and French unions, to get this negotiation done. If the opposition member wants to lecture us on relations with unions, use your power to urge your friends in labour to get this deal done to provide stability for Ontario families.

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

The final supplementary.

Ms. Marit Stiles: The government can say whatever they want, but for thousands of working people in the province, it has been a very long year asserting their rights for a fair contract: Metro grocery store workers, library workers, electrical safety workers, TVO staff, actor commercial performers, public health nurses—and the list goes on.

This week in Ottawa, they’re debating Bill C-58. It would prevent replacement workers—let’s call them scabs—from being brought in and prolonging labour disputes. The Premier’s friend, Mr. Poilievre and his Conservatives, have been completely silent on this. Will the Premier stay silent as well, or will he support the NDP’s bill to ban replacement workers once and for all in the province of Ontario?

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Interjections.

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

Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.

Hon. David Piccini: No, we won’t be supporting that piece of legislation. When the opposition held the balance of power and had the opportunity to introduce this over 15 years, they didn’t.

But what this government has done is that we’ve created unparalleled economic opportunity. You know who wins when we create that economic opportunity? Unions, labour, unionized jobs. We’ve created the conditions for incredible economic growth that’s seen Unifor workers on the job. Labour unions recognize that when our economy succeeds, they succeed.

We’ve been investing in training and skills development that’s lifting people up and supporting unions in the process. That’s why, in the last election, we were endorsed by eight of them. I know members opposite are really struggling. They’re caught between the woke ideologies of folks in downtown Toronto and their labour roots, and they’re being pulled apart at the seams. That’s why that leader ran unopposed in the last leadership.

Speaker, we’re going to stay focused on working with labour unions, supporting labour, creating unparalleled economic growth so that unionized—

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

Interjections.

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

Replacement workers

MPP Jamie West: I guess the minister forgot that the Conservative government voted against anti-scab legislation when I was a worker standing over here while scabs were crossing my picket line.

In the gallery, Speaker, we have members from ACTRA representing 6,000 of their members, who have been locked out for 18 months while wealthy ad agencies are demanding wage cuts and an end to benefits and retirement contributions. And then, because Ontario doesn’t have anti-scab legislation, they locked them out and hired scab labour to do the work.

Instead of standing with these workers, the Conservative government keeps buying ads from union-busting ad agencies. For 18 months, the Premier has turned his back on these workers. For 18 months, the Premier has been proud to use ad agencies using scab workers in government-funded ads.

My question: Will the Conservative government finally stand with these 6,000 workers instead of wealthy union-busting corporations and pass the NDP’s anti-scab legislation?

Interjections.

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

The Minister of Labour.

Hon. David Piccini: It’s always nice to see once every quarter that member stand up and ask a question on stuff, when he has the opportunity to stand up and support the two capital SDF projects in his riding that unions have brought forward to my ministry. I’m working with them to expand opportunities for unions. Every time he’s had an opportunity, he’s voted against them. He’s voted against mines. He’s voted against the unionized workers to support our auto industry. That member is a crony. When it comes for every opportunity for unionized workers to bring opportunity in the auto sector, to bring opportunity in creating the critical minerals we need to support those unionized auto jobs, he’s been asleep at the switch.

Folks in Sudbury know that my office door is always open to support those capital projects for unionized workers. We’re going to keep creating those opportunities, and when he stands up another quarter from now, hopefully we will have approved some of those projects to get those union—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. I’m now going to caution the Minister of Labour on the use of his language that’s causing some consternation in the House.

Start the clock. Supplementary question, the member for Oshawa.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: Ontario used to have anti-scab legislation that was brought in by an NDP government. However, the Harris Conservatives got rid of that straight away, and ever since, workers and those who respect them have been fighting to reintroduce protections against the use of replacement workers.

This minister is a big talker, but I wonder if this new Minister of Labour would walk a strike line and hear how ugly working conditions can be and maybe understand how scab labour leads to higher-conflict picket lines, jeopardizes workplace safety, undermines the bargaining power of workers and drags out strikes.

I am proud to have co-sponsored Bill 90, which is the 16th time that the NDP has brought anti-scab legislation to this House. I hope the government will pass Bill 90 today. My question is this: Why won’t this minister and government support workers and support anti-scab legislation?

Interjections.

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

Hon. David Piccini: Speaker, that member is right: I am a talker, as are all politicians in this House, to be fair, Speaker. And you know who I’m talking to, Speaker? I’m talking to the incredible unionized workers. Last night, I was talking with the carpenters’ union, LIUNA. I was talking to ironworkers. I was talking with boilermakers last night. All of them recognize that, under this government, we’ve brought in the largest Skills Development Fund in Canadian history. It’s helping lift people up.

Speaker, I’m hearing stories of refugees, asylum seekers, given opportunities to work in union training centres. I’m hearing contractors who are working hand-in-hand with unionized workforces to create opportunities in this great province that is Ontario, Speaker. Perhaps that member should walk around and talk to the auto workers who, thanks to the leadership of this Premier and this Minister of Economic Development, have tons of jobs in creating the electric vehicles, the batteries and the EV automotive jobs of the future being done by workers here in Ontario, thanks to the leadership of this Premier.

Taxation

Ms. Laura Smith: My question is for the Minister of Finance.

The governor of the Bank of Canada now says that the correct impact of the carbon tax on the inflation rate is actually four times higher and far more significant than his previous estimates. In my conversations with constituents, they tell me about the unnecessary harm that the carbon tax is creating, and they have asked me to continue raising their concerns about the negative impact of the federal government’s regressive tax. Across this province, many households are struggling to make ends meet, and businesses continue to face economic uncertainty due to the ongoing global supply chain challenges.

Speaker, can the minister please explain the impact of the carbon tax on the people of Ontario?

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: Thank you to the member for that question. The member is absolutely right, and we know that now is not the time for punitive and costly taxes that make life more unaffordable for the people here and across the country.

But Speaker, it’s unfortunately not just the federal Liberals that are supporting a carbon tax. Just this week, the majority of Liberal members chose to once again vote against our motion on the removal of the carbon tax on all home heating fuels. Mr. Speaker, somehow everyone but the Liberal Party seems to know that this carbon tax is hurting the pocketbook of Ontario families and making their lives more unaffordable.

The Bank of Canada has said it drives up inflation. The Parliamentary Budget Officer shows that it results in income loss for average Canadians. Our constituents tell us every day, Mr. Speaker, how it makes things more expensive, and it’s time for all parties to join together in agreement that this carbon tax—

Interjections.

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

Ms. Laura Smith: Thank you to the minister for his cogent work in his portfolio.

The Prime Minister needs to step up and do the right thing and eliminate the carbon tax, because Ontarians are suffering. As the finance minister so eloquently put it, everyone everywhere is fully aware that the carbon tax is hurting our economy and driving up prices. Speaker, we know that the carbon tax is not only affecting the price of energy and gas, but also the price of food and housing and so much more. The people of Ontario are looking for financial relief. But the reality is that the federal government is not willing to do the act, and neither are all the members of this House.

Speaker, can the minister please advise how our government is providing support to the people of Ontario during this economically challenging time?

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: Thank you to the hard-working member from Thornhill for that great question.

Just last week, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal member from Kanata–Carleton said that the vast majority of Ontario households are better off with a carbon price. This is despite all the evidence to the contrary. And welcome to the House.

Interjections.

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

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: But the member asks where this government stands on the issue of affordability, and I am happy to highlight real actions from our government for the people, Mr. Speaker. For those who commute, we’re eliminating double fares in the GTA for up to $1,600 a year. We’ve extended the gas tax cut for Ontario drivers from December to June 2024. Mr. Speaker, this will continue the savings for the average driver—$260 in their pockets.

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: But the member asks where this government stands on the issue of affordability, and I am happy to highlight real actions from our government for the people, Mr. Speaker. For those who commute, we’re eliminating double fares in the GTA for up to $1,600 a year. We’ve extended the gas tax cut for Ontario drivers from December to June 2024. Mr. Speaker, this will continue the savings for the average driver—$260 in their pockets.

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We will not stop the work to fight the carbon tax and make life more affordable for the people of Ontario.

Government appointments

Mr. Wayne Gates: My question is to the Premier.

We’ve learned that former Conservative MPP and lobbyist for local developers Bart Maves was quietly removed as vice-chair from the Niagara Parks Commission by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport with two years left on his term. Maves was also removed from the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. The move to strip Maves of his appointments to both commissions was done with no notice or explanation.

This week, when questioned by the media, the minister refused to explain why the government would remove one of their political allies.

My question is simple. Why was Maves removed from the Niagara Parks Commission and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission by this government?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Hon. Neil Lumsden: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to thank the member opposite for the question. I see a little bit of tone in his voice; maybe it’s because the Argonauts didn’t make it to the Grey Cup this year, but there’s another year at some point.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport supports 16 agencies and attractions across Ontario. And let me not forget maybe the most important thing: They are huge drivers and supporters of tourism for this province. That drives billions of dollars, not only to that marketplace, but around Ontario. So we’ve got to make sure we don’t forget that.

Changes to the members and leadership of Ontario’s agencies and boards are a common occurrence, and we typically don’t take out billboards or run ads when it happens.

Mr. Maves has done a lot of great work, and we appreciate the time he spent with us.

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

Mr. Wayne Gates: Back to the Premier: I appreciate the response, but we’re not talking about a commissioner who just left the parks commission because something came up; we’re talking about a commissioner who was a vice-chair of the commission and was taken off.

The Niagara Parks Commission is a key part of our tourism industry in Niagara, and it supports 40,000 jobs. They generate tens of millions of dollars each year in revenue and have an operating budget of nearly $120 million—equal to the city of Niagara Falls—supporting over 1,700 jobs in our community, while also preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the Niagara River.

In Niagara, we expect the parks to run free from political interference. Yet this government has been stacking the Niagara Parks Commission with failed PC politicians and friends. So it’s odd that you would suddenly remove a—

Interjection.

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

Interjection.

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

The member for Niagara Falls will complete his question.

Mr. Wayne Gates: In Niagara, we expect the parks to run free from political interference. Yet this government has been stacking the Niagara Parks Commission with failed PC politicians and friends. So it’s odd that you would suddenly remove a long-time PC insider like Mr. Maves. Premier, is there more to this story?

Hon. Neil Lumsden: It’s interesting that the member opposite was talking about how great—what goes on in Niagara Parks and the people who participate and sit on the board for the past year and will continue to, and the great work that they do, and at the same time, he’s asking the question, why?

Well, there have been changes. Boards get changed all the time. Things happen. There is absolutely no reason for us to centre anybody out at any time. They commit their time and their efforts to make things better. The member identified how great it has been there, and it will continue to get even better, because of the people who take the time out of their daily lives and their jobs to sit on boards, to support the agencies and drive tourism in Niagara parks and in the Niagara region.

Taxation

Mr. Will Bouma: My question is for the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development.

Speaker, residents in northern Ontario and Indigenous communities are being negatively impacted by the carbon tax. The rising costs associated with the carbon tax, particularly in transportation and supply chain activities, are posing challenges for individuals, families and businesses. Given the current reality of higher expenses for transporting goods in northern Ontario, the carbon tax only serves to make the situation worse. As a result, people are experiencing increased financial burdens at the gas pumps and in grocery stores. There are unique circumstances in the north that must be considered, particularly when it comes to travel.

Speaker, can the minister please explain how the carbon tax is negatively affecting northern and Indigenous communities?

Hon. Greg Rickford: In 2015, when I was Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, we gave Canadians fair warning that this carbon tax was going to be the single biggest reason for increase in the cost of goods and services this country had ever seen. It has come to fruition—on a collision course with inflationary times.

Out in northwestern Ontario, I can’t help but say, with our friends from the district services board and school boards here today, that it costs more to fuel buses; it costs more to send kids from one school to another school some 215 kilometres away for a football game or a basketball game. When those ambulances go out much farther distances than other regions in this province, it costs more money. With gas at $1.70 a litre right now in Dryden and Kenora, and the deep freeze setting in of winter, I can’t help but think that we’re going to be bearing more and more costs as the carbon tax goes up and up.

Mr. Speaker, this ludicrous tax needs to go. Let’s scrap the tax.

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

Mr. Will Bouma: Thank you, Minister, for that response. It’s deeply concerning that the federal government is enforcing this burdensome tax that continues to negatively impact individuals and families in northern and Indigenous communities. The carbon tax is increasing expenses that are part of our everyday lives: groceries, fuel and home heating. These added costs are making life more unaffordable for many households.

Speaker, it is disheartening that instead of providing support to northern Ontario, the previous Liberal government, with the backing at the time from the NDP, chose to label the north as a “no man’s land.”

Northern Ontario faces distinct challenges, especially when it comes to the cost of fuel. Speaker, can the minister please elaborate on how this regressive carbon tax is impacting northern Ontario?

Hon. Greg Rickford: It’s true that Indigenous communities in the Far North are feeling the impact, like no other region in this country, from the carbon tax. For years, Indigenous leadership has been calling for the removal of the carbon tax. Abram Benedict, the Grand Chief of Akwesasne First Nation, had been advocating for an exemption to the carbon tax for all Ontario Indigenous reserves through Chiefs of Ontario, and he was right. Wonder Bread is $6.49 today in Sachigo Lake First Nation. Most gasoline is over $3 a litre. I was encouraged to see the member of Kiiwetinoong recognize just this past week that costs are indeed higher for carbon tax—people in the isolated communities need relief.

The problem is, it has fallen on deaf ears. The federal government has no plans to eliminate the carbon tax on the cost of fuels to energize our communities up north or the cost of goods. It’s a ludicrous tax. It needs to go. Let’s scrap the tax.

First Nations consultation

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Good morning, Speaker. My question is to the Premier. Speaker, there isn’t always public transparency about the evidence used by this government to make their decisions. The Chiefs of Ontario have asked this government to meet with them, as they have concerns about Métis consultation, with no answer. When will this government sit down with them and discuss Ontario’s identification of Métis communities?

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

Hon. Greg Rickford: Every quarter, we have met with the Chiefs of Ontario and the Indigenous Leadership Council. We develop a joint agenda; most of it is actually driven by the Chiefs of Ontario, and ministerial colleagues and parliamentary assistants join in those meetings. There are myriad other meetings that are held in between those times. But I can assure the member that those meetings are regular. They include the Premier from time to time. We’re very proud of the relationship that we have with the chiefs of Ontario. It is transparent, it is substantive, and we’re going to continue those meetings every quarter as we go along.

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The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary.

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Back to the Premier: Members of the Wabun Tribal Council are here. They also have raised concerns about Métis recognition in their territory. Decisions made by Ontario that create recognition will have current and future impacts on legitimate rights-holders for many generations.

Can this government speak on how Ontario concluded that there is a distinct Métis community in the Abitibi Inland on First Nations territory?

Hon. Greg Rickford: Well, what the member and I can agree on is the fact that the federal government has introduced legislation that is problematic between Métis communities and First Nations communities across this country. Furthermore, it lacked the kinds of consultations with provincial and territorial governments, First Nations governments and, quite possibly, Métis governments. We don’t have a record of those consultations. We just know that we weren’t addressed with regard to it.

That said, it is not the style of this Premier or our government to be divisive. We understand the balance that we have to strike between the Métis communities and the First Nations communities, and we encourage the leadership of the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Chiefs of Ontario to get in a room together to have a discussion and look for solutions and opportunities in this important debate.

Government accountability

Ms. Stephanie Bowman: This government has a habit of admitting mistakes only when they get caught red-handed. The $8.3 billion greenbelt giveaway, well-documented by the Auditor General, the Integrity Commissioner and now under criminal investigation by the RCMP, is only their latest scandal.

They also have a habit of blaming problems in our province, which they govern, on every level of government except their own. We have an affordability crisis, and yet what does this government do in their fall economic statement? They create a new bank with $3 billion of taxpayer money.

Speaker, 2,023 days ago, on May 10, 2018, the government made a promise, one that remains broken to this day: They promised to lower taxes for lower- and middle-income households. That would put up to $1,691 back into those households’ bank accounts.

My question to the Premier: When will the government stop playing the blame game and finally keep their promise to lower taxes and help Ontario families?

Hon. Doug Ford: I’ll touch on the greenbelt for a second and the double standard here. You changed it 17 times, but no one said anything, because you were taking care of the environmentalists. That’s one thing.

Talking about raising taxes, our government has never raised a tax on the backs of the people of Ontario. We’ve never raised a tax on the backs of businesses. To the contrary, we lowered taxes to the tune of $8 billion to attract the companies that they chased out of our province. They chased out 300,000 jobs as we created the environment for 715,000 jobs.

We’re putting money back into peoples’ pockets, as you increased taxes by billions and billions of dollars and made this the worst—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The member for Ottawa South must come to order.

Start the clock. The Premier.

Hon. Doug Ford: Boy, I was on a roll there, Mr. Speaker.

Anyway, we inherited a mess. The province is going in the right place. We hear—not just from everywhere around Canada and around North America, but the entire world—that we’re the hottest place in the world to invest in, no matter if it’s life sciences, technology or EV batteries.

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

Ms. Stephanie Bowman: Well, there you have it. The Premier proves my point: It’s everyone’s fault but their own. It’s unfortunate, but no surprise, that again today this government extends its broken promise to lower taxes for middle-income households by 20%. They broke their greenbelt promise too, and we know where that has led them.

Speaker, families earning between $46,000 to $92,000 could save up to $1,691 if this government were to simply keep its promise. That’s money that could help those families deal now with high rents and the cost of living. This government, and this government alone, has the power to keep its promise, but instead of doing so, it’s going to spend $3 billion to set up an infrastructure bank that will only attract the money the government says it will if the government privatizes our public services.

Once again to the Premier: Will the Premier keep his promise and make life more affordable for Ontario families by lowering taxes now?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Finance to reply.

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: Oh, I love these questions, Mr. Speaker. You know what? We got into power in 2018. Who gave us an infrastructure deficit? Was it this side? No. It was that side. It was that member’s party. Mr. Speaker, we hadn’t built subways, no hospitals, no roads, no bridges, no long-term care.

And when we lowered the gas tax, did that member vote yes or no?

Interjections: No.

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: When we lowered the individual family tax credit so that we pay some of the lowest taxes for low-income workers, did she vote yes or no?

Interjections: No.

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: When we voted to build the 413 and the Bradford Bypass, did she vote yes or no?

Interjections: No.

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: Mr. Speaker, I think I’ve made the case. We’re the party of yes. They’re the party of no.

Taxation

Mr. Trevor Jones: Good morning, Speaker. My question is to our Solicitor General. It’s no secret that people from across Ontario are fed up with the unnecessary and useless carbon tax. It’s regressive and punitive. It hurts everyone and it makes life more expensive for families and businesses throughout the province. The carbon tax is not only increasing the cost of goods, it’s driving up the costs of fuel and gasoline for all of us.

We’ve heard about the negative impacts of the carbon tax and the rising cost for families and businesses, but our front-line paramedics, police and firefighters are also impacted. Speaker, can our Solicitor General please explain the negative impacts of the carbon tax on law enforcement and public safety agencies across Ontario?

Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: I want to thank my friend from Chatham-Kent–Leamington. He’s absolutely right for asking the question. Who would believe that when you think of public safety, it costs more because of the carbon tax? Police officers, firefighters, special constables, all the first responders that drive cars to keep our place safe have to pay the carbon tax in every gasoline fill-up they make. The carbon tax has made a crucial operation that keeps our communities safe so expensive. And Mr. Speaker, we’re talking about thousands of automobiles. We’re talking about 4,000 automobiles alone at the OPP. This is millions of dollars of wasted money that could be used to keep our province safe.

Mr. Speaker, enough is enough. We’re calling on the federal government to do the right thing and get rid of the tax.

Interjection.

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

Supplementary question?

Mr. Trevor Jones: Thank you to our Solicitor General for that response. The carbon tax negatively impacts our front-line police, firefighter, paramedic and correction services by placing an unnecessary and significant burden on them. This tax impacts the very institutions that keep our communities safe. The federal government’s carbon tax is draining resources that should be better spent on protecting our families, supporting victims of crime and holding criminals accountable for their actions.

It’s vital that we provide our police services with the support and resources they need to protect our communities instead of paying additional fuel costs because of this carbon tax. Speaker, can our Solicitor General please elaborate on how funds spent on the carbon tax could be better allocated to keeping Ontario safe?

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Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: This time of the year, many police services all across Ontario are fixing their budgets, and it is so obvious that one of the lines in the budget is the fuel needed to pay for the gas that runs the cars. On each gallon of gas, on each litre of gas there is carbon tax, and it’s millions of dollars of wasted money.

Our communities have a right to be safe. We have a right to be safe in our own homes and communities, and the carbon tax is adding to every municipal police services budget and the OPP. So I’d like to say to the members opposite from places like Sudbury, Ottawa and Hamilton, ask your police chiefs if they have to pay the carbon tax and tell your federal friends in Ottawa, “Get rid of it.”

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. A fairly substantial number of members have repeatedly ignored my efforts to get them to come to order. So the next time, you’ll be warned.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.

Start the clock. The next question.

Children’s aid societies

Miss Monique Taylor: My question is for the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. Children’s aid societies in northeastern Ontario are in crisis due to the lack of resources. The Sudbury and Manitoulin CAS is running a deficit, despite not being allowed to do so, because their budget has been cut by half a million dollars a year. The minister wouldn’t make himself available when asked to comment on this by the media, so what will he say about this situation now that he’s here in the House?

Hon. Michael Parsa: I thank the member for the question. I want to make it very clear, we want every child and youth in this province to have a safe, loving, stable home regardless of their circumstances.

The member has probably not paid attention, but I’ve been travelling the province, meeting with families and service providers—and she knows; she’s aware of it because I know that they’re telling her. I know that they’re telling her.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve backed up the work by over $1.5 billion of investment. We have hired more inspectors on the ground to inspect the facilities. Those inspectors are going in unannounced this fall. So there’s not only more inspectors, there are more unannounced inspections that are being done.

We want to make sure that every youth, every child in this province is protected and supported so that they can continue to succeed and thrive in their communities. It’s a commitment we will never waver from.

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

Miss Monique Taylor: Speaker, you know what the children’s aid societies are telling me across this province? That this minister does not listen to their funding needs and that the cuts are hurting them. That’s what they tell me.

My office hears from the local children’s aid service providers who are struggling to provide services for children in care because their budgets have been cut to the bone. Sudbury and Manitoulin CAS have no new foster families to place children with when they’re in desperate need. The head of the Nipissing and Parry Sound CAS said the following: “If we had to remove a child or children from a home, we have nowhere to put them.”

Speaker, what possible explanation does the minister have for severely cutting funds to the children’s aid societies, and what’s his next plan when a child is in crisis?

Hon. Michael Parsa: I know that the member perhaps may be struggling with numbers, but as I mentioned earlier in the first answer, we are investing over—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Hamilton Mountain is warned.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Sault Ste. Marie is warned.

The minister has the floor.

Hon. Michael Parsa: Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services is receiving more than $2.3 billion of support, thanks to this Premier, thanks to this Minister of Finance, so that we can continue to provide those important supports.

That investment of $1.5 billion that I mentioned earlier: It’s important to note where it’s going. For the first time in the history of the province, we are making sure that children and youth succeed and thrive not only now but in the future. That’s why we started that support at the age of 13. We continued that support with financial supports up to the age of 23, so that the children and youth that age out of care can have—

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

The next question.

Taxation

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Energy. The federal government released its fall economic statement on Tuesday. Not surprisingly, my constituents in Carleton have already told me that they are very disappointed that the federal government has refused to address affordability for Ontarians. The federal government is continuing to apply a disastrous carbon tax on everything.

Speaker, it is even more disappointing that the independent Liberals in this House continue to support the federal government’s actions. What’s more, as we approach winter and as the weather becomes colder, the federal government could have removed the HST charge from home heating expenses. But sadly, they did not.

Speaker, can the minister please share his views about the impact of the fall economic statement on all Ontarians?

Hon. Todd Smith: Thank you to the member from Carleton for the great question this morning. It appears that our pleas to the federal government have gone unanswered and unheard. I can tell you, a recent Angus Reid poll shows that only 15% of Canadians approve of the federal government’s current carbon tax scheme, and we know that includes all nine members of the Ontario Liberal caucus. The worst part about this tax is that it’s only going to get worse: It’s going to go up again next April.

The worst part about this whole thing is that the environmental commissioner federally has said that it’s not even having an impact. It’s not reducing emissions. But what we’re doing in Ontario is, we’re investing in nuclear. We have the largest procurement for battery storage out in the field right now. Just this morning, we were announcing Hydrogen Innovation Fund investments. At our natural gas facilities at Atura Power, we’re going to be driving down emissions. We have one of the cleanest grids in the world, and we’re going to make sure that it stays that way.

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

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Like the minister, I agree that it is time for the federal government to treat Ontario fairly. Their stubborn refusal to budge on any further changes to the disastrous carbon tax after creating an exemption for certain provinces is disheartening. As the minister mentioned, this tax is only going up and up and up, with the next increase scheduled for April 1, only a few short months from now. It’s a terrible April Fool’s joke. This will make life more difficult for the many Ontarians who are already struggling.

Speaker, can the minister please elaborate on how the federal fall economic statement will affect affordability for all Ontarians?

Hon. Todd Smith: Speaker, the carbon tax is no joke; it’s no laughing matter. It’s driving people into energy poverty from coast to coast to coast. That’s why it’s so disheartening that the federal government, when they had the opportunity to remove the carbon tax from home heating fuel, only did it for one small part of our country in Atlantic Canada.

We know the type of waste that comes from a Liberal government. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to address the affordability crisis in the federal government’s fall economic statement.

We know the damage of 15 years of Ontario Liberals governing our province. But what’s worse is that the current crop of Liberals that are over here are still championing this terrible carbon tax, trying to convince people that Ontarians are better off with a carbon tax than they were previous to the carbon tax coming into effect. I just can’t believe that this crop of Liberals in Ontario, as small a crop as they are—they’re like a backyard garden, Mr. Speaker—

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

Correctional services

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: Speaker, this week, the long-awaited inquest began into the tragic death of Soleiman Faqiri in the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay. A report from Ontario’s chief forensic psychiatrist and subsequent OPP investigation found that while in custody, Mr. Faqiri was beaten, pepper sprayed twice and restrained face down, all leading to his death. Yet after three police investigations, one by the Kawartha Lakes Police Service and two by the OPP, no charges were laid.

The coroner’s inquest has already revealed more disturbing information about Mr. Faqiri’s death, including a graphic, 24-minute video of his last moments.

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To the Premier: Will you support the reinvestigation of Mr. Faqiri’s death in light of the overwhelming evidence and commit to finally giving his family the justice and closure that they deserve?

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

Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: Thank you to my colleague across for the question. Any death is too many. Any death is a tragedy. And as my friend opposite knows, we do not speak to an ongoing inquest. It would be completely inappropriate. She also knows, Mr. Speaker, that the purpose of an inquest is to determine the circumstances surrounding a death and, if appropriate, make recommendations that may prevent further deaths. Our government continuously works to make sure policies in corrections are in line with best practices.

Again, Mr. Speaker, this is a complex issue, and we cannot speak to an ongoing inquest.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: Speaker, Mr. Faqiri’s death demonstrates how harmful it is when mental illness is criminalized in our justice system.

Mr. Faqiri was held in solitary confinement while waiting to be assessed for mental health treatment. His family wants answers about why Mr. Faqiri was not transferred to a hospital earlier, why they weren’t able to visit him and what he may have experienced during his 11 days in custody.

Ontarians deserve systemic change in our justice system, Speaker, and people in mental health crisis deserve help, not violence. Aside from Mr. Faqiri’s family, racialized, Black, Indigenous communities across the province are closely monitoring the recommendation coming out of the coroner’s inquest.

To the Premier: What will this government do to take steps to address the deadly mix of systemic discrimination and mental health stigma in the justice and correctional systems?

Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: I want to thank the member for the question. As I said before, as it relates to the inquest, we cannot comment on it. It would be inappropriate. But Mr. Speaker, we are taking steps to ensure that deaths in custody do not occur. Work is under way to improve corrections in Ontario, including historic investments in infrastructure and hiring over 1,500 new people. We’ve invested in facilities that meet the cultural needs of Indigenous inmates as an example, such as smudging spaces and sweat lodges and teaching lodges.

I’ve seen it for myself as I’ve toured our correctional complexes: I have met with the native inmate liaison officers—the NILOs; I’ve met with the chaplains. Mr. Speaker, I stay close in contact with the OPSEU union representatives as well. And at the end of the day, our government is taking this matter seriously, and we will reduce, where possible, and eliminate inmate experiences in segregation conditions.

Small business

Mr. Lorne Coe: My question is for the Associate Minister of Small Business. Small businesses are the backbone of Ontario’s economy and important job creators in our communities, but sadly, many are often operating on tight margins.

Speaker, not only is the carbon tax creating greater hardship for many small businesses, but many are feeling additional financial pressure with the upcoming deadline for federal loan repayments. Unfortunately, the independent Liberals seem content to stand by as the federal government punishes businesses with more costs. Instead of standing up for Ontario’s entrepreneurs, who are struggling because of the regressive carbon tax, they once again voted no to any measure that calls for its repeal.

Speaker, can the associate minister please share more information about how the carbon tax is negatively impacting Ontario’s small businesses?

Hon. Nina Tangri: Thank you to the great member from Whitby for the question.

Speaker, I had the privilege of hearing directly from entrepreneurs across the province. Time and again, they express real concern about the burden of rising costs from the federal carbon tax combined with the upcoming deadlines of the CEBA loan repayments.

The carbon tax inflates expenses at every single step of the supply chain. Whether they’re farmers producing food, manufacturers leveraging our skilled workforce or shops anchoring our main streets, Ontario’s job creators all agree: This punitive tax hits hardest just as they’re getting themselves back on their feet. Many business owners have shared fears it is could force them to reduce staff, raise prices or shut their doors for good.

Unlike the Liberals and NDP, our government is listening to entrepreneurs and taking action on affordability. If the opposition truly cared about the businesses in their ridings, they’d join us in calling on Ottawa to scrap the tax.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary.

Mr. Lorne Coe: Thank you to the associate minister for her response. While our government is working tirelessly to support small businesses and entrepreneurs, it’s concerning that not all parties are willing to address the real financial pressures that Ontarians face. Time and again our government has brought forward reasonable solutions to relieve the financial pressure of policies like the federal carbon tax, but instead of meaningful collaboration, the independent Liberals and opposition NDP continue to stand by as Ottawa punishes small businesses in the communities they claim to represent.

Speaker, can the associate minister please explain how our government is supporting small businesses across our great province?

Hon. Nina Tangri: Thank you, Speaker, and again to the member for the question. I am proud to be part of a government that, under this Premier’s strong leadership, has spoken out against this job-killing tax from the start. I’m glad to see Premiers across all political stripes join us in calling on the federal government to expand exemptions for the carbon tax to lessen the burden on consumers and job creators.

Every day I meet inspirational entrepreneurs who are pouring their hearts and souls into building something from nothing, providing jobs and providing hope. That’s why we’ve been there for them with our investment in Futurpreneur, which helps young entrepreneurs access financing, mentorship and resources to turn their bold ideas into thriving businesses.

The opposition are concerned about keeping people off the job but it’s this government that works hard to keep the great people of this province on the job. We’ve stepped up to the plate for small business. It’s high time the opposition did the same.

Food banks

Ms. Chandra Pasma: While this government sits on a multi-billion-dollar slush fund, refusing to help people struggling with the cost of living, food bank use has hit record levels in Ottawa. One in seven Ottawa residents is currently food insecure. In 2023 alone there have been nearly half a million food bank visits in Ottawa. A growing number of food bank users are employed full time and still can’t put food on the table.

When is the Premier going to get serious about solving the affordability crisis by reinstating real rent control, increasing social assistance and raising the minimum wage?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I appreciate the opportunity, Speaker, to stand up in this House today to reflect on the amazing work that our commodity organizations across this province are doing in support of food banks. Just this week alone we had both Ontario Pork as well as our Chicken Farmers of Ontario in this House. We need to celebrate what they’re doing. I hope the member took time to actually meet face to face with real farmers, because if she had perhaps she would have learned that the pork farmers of Ontario donate to food banks every year and Chicken Farmers of Ontario have donated the equivalent of eight million meals.

Our farmers across this province are doing amazing work to support food banks. But I have to share with you: We have a strategy in Ontario supported by our government. It’s called Grow Ontario. We’re increasing our food production and processing in this province by 30% by 2032. We do not have a food security issue in this province, but we—

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

Ms. Chandra Pasma: Perhaps the minister did not hear me, but hunger in Ottawa has doubled under this government. You shouldn’t be forcing farmers to give food to people for free; you should be empowering people to actually be able to afford to buy food from farmers.

While Ottawa food banks are extending hours into evenings and weekends to accommodate people who have full-time jobs and can’t go at any other time, this government is eroding the social safety net at every turn. We know what the solutions are and the Premier can implement them today if he wanted to. Put a stop to price gouging. Reinstate real rent control. Increase Ontario Works and ODSP. Raise the minimum wage. Why is the Premier busy pretending to be helpless instead of doing his job and helping people?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Premier can reply.

Hon. Doug Ford: Well, I just want to inform the member—first of all, thank you for the question. I don’t know if you have read the stats on ag production and what we’re shipping out and exporting around the world. We’ve exported, just on ag products, over $20 billion. If you want to add in food, beverage and ag, we’re over $52 billion that we ship out of this province. They have never had a better crop ever than last year.

We’re going to continue supporting our farmers, supporting the workers that are working there. We have a massive industry. It actually goes right down to—6% of our GDP is just ag products alone. It equals about $42 billion overall.

So any time you want to come by my office, I’ll inform you on what we’re doing in the agriculture, food and beverage sector.

Taxation

Mr. Will Bouma: My question is for the Minister of Energy. We’ve spent much of this week talking about how the carbon tax is raising the cost of everything. That is why our government must continue to work diligently to find practical solutions to make Ontario’s electricity grid more affordable, cleaner and more reliable. For example, the minister has previously explained that installing a hybrid heat pump can save families $280 a year while also cutting their home heating emissions by a third.

Can the minister please share information about the cost-saving energy initiatives that our government has already put in place?

Hon. Todd Smith: Unlike the previous Liberal government, which drove up the cost of electricity every single year and drove up taxes across our province, unlike the NDP that wanted the highest carbon tax in the world—and we know exactly what impact it’s having because you’ve heard from ministers right across the government this morning on the impact that it’s having on policing, the impact that it’s having on farming and agriculture, the impact that it’s having on forestry and on rural school busing.

Mr. Speaker, what we can do is work together as an Ontario Legislature, and I would ask all members to do this. Now, I know the Liberals from Ontario don’t want to do this. The NDP have shown a little bit of inclination to maybe want to do the right thing here. But let’s come together, Mr. Speaker. Let’s call Jagmeet and let’s call Justin, and let’s make sure they do the right thing and take the carbon tax off home heating for Ontarians—

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

Deferred Votes

Transportation for the Future Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 pour un réseau de transport orienté vers l’avenir

Deferred vote on the motion that the question now be put on the motion for third reading of the following bill:

Bill 131, An Act to enact the GO Transit Station Funding Act, 2023 and to amend the City of Toronto Act, 2006 / Projet de loi 131, Loi édictant la Loi de 2023 sur le financement des stations du réseau GO et modifiant la Loi de 2006 sur la cité de Toronto.

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

The division bells rang from 1143 to 1148.

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

On November 22, 2023, Miss Surma moved Bill 131, An Act to enact the GO Transit Station Funding Act, 2023 and to amend the City of Toronto Act, 2006.

On November 22, 2023, Mr. Sandhu moved that the question be now put.

All those in favour of Mr. Sandhu’s motion, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

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

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

Nays

  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Bell, Jessica
  • Bowman, Stephanie
  • Collard, Lucille
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Fraser, John
  • French, Jennifer K.
  • Gates, Wayne
  • Gélinas, France
  • Glover, Chris
  • Hazell, Andrea
  • Kernaghan, Terence
  • Mamakwa, Sol
  • Mantha, Michael
  • McCrimmon, Karen
  • McMahon, Mary-Margaret
  • Pasma, Chandra
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Schreiner, Mike
  • Shaw, Sandy
  • Stevens, Jennifer (Jennie)
  • Stiles, Marit
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John
  • West, Jamie
  • Wong-Tam, Kristyn

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Trevor Day): The ayes are 72; the nays are 27.

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

Miss Surma has moved third reading of Bill 131, An Act to enact the GO Transit Station Funding Act, 2023 and to amend the City of Toronto Act, 2006.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard some noes.

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

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This is another five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1153 to 1154.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): On November 22, 2023, Miss Surma moved third reading of Bill 131, An Act to enact the GO Transit Station Funding Act, 2023 and to amend the City of Toronto Act, 2006.

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

Ayes

  • Anand, Deepak
  • Babikian, Aris
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barnes, Patrice
  • Bethlenfalvy, Peter
  • Bouma, Will
  • Bowman, Stephanie
  • Brady, Bobbi Ann
  • Bresee, Ric
  • Byers, Rick
  • Calandra, Paul
  • Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
  • Cho, Stan
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Collard, Lucille
  • Crawford, Stephen
  • Cuzzetto, Rudy
  • Dixon, Jess
  • Dowie, Andrew
  • Downey, Doug
  • Dunlop, Jill
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Flack, Rob
  • Ford, Doug
  • Ford, Michael D.
  • Fraser, John
  • Gallagher Murphy, Dawn
  • Ghamari, Goldie
  • Gill, Parm
  • Grewal, Hardeep Singh
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Hazell, Andrea
  • Holland, Kevin
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Jones, Trevor
  • Jordan, John
  • Kanapathi, Logan
  • Ke, Vincent
  • Kerzner, Michael S.
  • Kusendova-Bashta, Natalia
  • Leardi, Anthony
  • Lecce, Stephen
  • Lumsden, Neil
  • Martin, Robin
  • McCarthy, Todd J.
  • McCrimmon, Karen
  • McGregor, Graham
  • McMahon, Mary-Margaret
  • 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
  • Schreiner, Mike
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Skelly, Donna
  • Smith, David
  • Smith, Graydon
  • Smith, Laura
  • Smith, Todd
  • Surma, Kinga
  • Tangri, Nina
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Tibollo, Michael A.
  • Wai, Daisy
  • Williams, Charmaine A.
  • Yakabuski, John

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

Nays

  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Bell, Jessica
  • Fife, Catherine
  • French, Jennifer K.
  • Gates, Wayne
  • Gélinas, France
  • Glover, Chris
  • Kernaghan, Terence
  • Mamakwa, Sol
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Pasma, Chandra
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Shaw, Sandy
  • Stevens, Jennifer (Jennie)
  • Stiles, Marit
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John
  • West, Jamie
  • Wong-Tam, Kristyn

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Trevor Day): The ayes are 79; the nays are 20.

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

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

Third reading agreed to.

Business of the House

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I recognize the government House leader under standing order 59.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Under standing order 59, just to thank colleagues for another productive week.

On Monday, November 27: in the morning—of course, the morning starts at 9 o’clock on Monday—third reading of Bill 135, the Convenient Care at Home Act; in the afternoon, Bill 153, the Building Infrastructure Safely Act; and in the night sitting, Bill 153 again.

On Tuesday, November 28: third reading of Bill 134, the Affordable Homes and Good Jobs Act; in the afternoon, third reading of Bill 146, the Building a Strong Ontario Together Act, which is the budget. At 6 p.m., we will have the private member’s motion from the member for St. Paul’s. In the night sitting, there will be third reading of Bill 146, which is Building a Strong Ontario Together Act.

On Wednesday morning, November 29, it will be Bill 41, Protection from Coerced Debts Incurred in relation to Human Trafficking Act. In the afternoon, we will be debating a bill which will be introduced very soon. At 6 p.m., it’s private member’s motion number 36, and then again, in the night sitting, it will be Bill 134, the Affordable Homes and Good Jobs Act.

On Thursday, November 30, in the morning, we will continue debate on a bill which will be introduced; in the afternoon, back to Bill 142, the Better for Consumers, Better for Businesses Act, 2023; and at 6 p.m., private member’s business standing in the name of the member for Spadina–Fort York.

Ontario Federation of Labour

Ms. Marit Stiles: Point of order, Speaker: I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the newly acclaimed executive officers of the Ontario Federation of Labour. Congratulations to Team Ignite: incoming president Laura Walton, secretary-treasurer Ahmad Gaied and executive vice-president Jackie Taylor. They are the new executive officers of the Ontario Federation of Labour. Congratulations.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That’s technically not a point of order, but we routinely allow this sort of thing to take place, as all members on both sides of the House know.

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

The House recessed from 1200 to 1300.

Report continues in volume B.