Official Records for 9 May 2017

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO

Tuesday 9 May 2017 Mardi 9 mai 2017

Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017 / Loi de 2017 modifiant des lois en ce qui concerne l’aide médicale à mourir

Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act, 2017 / Loi de 2017 sur la modernisation des secteurs des ressources en agrégats et des mines

Introduction of Visitors

Oral Questions

Probation and parole services

Government accountability

Privatization of public assets

Hydro rates

Lobbyists

Privatization of public assets

Infrastructure program funding

Hydro rates

Affordable housing

Nurses

Labour unions

Services for the developmentally disabled

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Public transit

Visitors

Deferred Votes

Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017 / Loi de 2017 modifiant des lois en ce qui concerne l’aide médicale à mourir

Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act, 2017 / Loi de 2017 sur la modernisation des secteurs des ressources en agrégats et des mines

Introduction of Visitors

Members’ Statements

Royal visit

Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System

Ontario Provincial Police

Community Living Ontario

Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Police services

Indigenous education

Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on Government Agencies

Standing Committee on General Government

Statements by the Ministry and Responses

South Asian Heritage Month

Jewish Heritage Month

South Asian Heritage Month

Jewish Heritage Month

Jewish Heritage Month

South Asian Heritage Month

Committee sittings

Petitions

Lyme disease

Provincial truth and reconciliation day

GO Transit

Protection of people with disabilities

Privatization of public assets

Water fluoridation

Long-term care

Veterans

Medical assistance in dying

Government services

Nanjing Massacre

Health care funding

Opposition Day

Government accountability / Responsabilité gouvernementale

Adjournment Debate

Government spending

 

The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Good morning. Please join me in prayer.

Prayers.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017 / Loi de 2017 modifiant des lois en ce qui concerne l’aide médicale à mourir

Resuming the debate adjourned on April 25, 2017, on the motion for third reading of the following bill:

Bill 84, An Act to amend various Acts with respect to medical assistance in dying / Projet de loi 84, Loi modifiant diverses lois en ce qui concerne l’aide médicale à mourir.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Further debate?

Mr. Steve Clark: I am pleased, actually, to be able to provide a few comments on Bill 84 at third reading today. It’s a bill that I am very concerned about when it comes to this government.

First of all, I’m the deputy House leader, and every week we have House leaders’ meetings to talk about the schedule for the House for the week. I wasn’t able to be at the meeting on Thursday; I had a constituent who was on the Minister of Education’s student advisory council, so I went over to see him and I missed the House leaders’ meeting.

When I came back, I got the schedule for debate for this week. It actually showed that this morning we were scheduled to debate a closure motion or a time allocation motion on the budget bill, so I was a little surprised when, last night, the government didn’t table that.

We’re in a majority government, so I’m not particularly sure how the House leader and his staff—they should be able to manage the majority. We used to talk, when we were in a minority Parliament, about when you have issues in committee or with bills, but certainly I’m quite willing, quite able and I’m always ready to speak on bills before the House. I’m a little bit perplexed as to whether it’s just the government House leader and the Premier—maybe there’s an issue in how they’re going to manage things.

In fact, I was told that there were two other bills that the government wants to get passed by June 1, by our scheduled time to rise, and those bills haven’t even been tabled yet. So I’m a little concerned about what we’re going to be dealing with in the last 11 sitting days of the session when we’re in a situation where we’re told one thing on a Thursday, and here I am speaking on a second bill. I guess it just speaks to the fact that this government has some issues when it comes to what they tell us on Thursday versus what’s in practice today.

The order that the Minister for International Trade called today was Bill 84. It’s a bill that I have spoken to a number of times. I’ve provided questions and comments probably about four times and I’ve said the same thing every time: We need to have conscience rights included in Bill 84. We need to make sure that that happens.

During debate, the government talked a good game. They talked many times about making sure that a citizen of our province has a safe path. I can remember the member for Ottawa South mentioning that over and over and over again. This issue had our party presenting a number of amendments at committee when this bill was referred to committee. The member for Elgin–Middlesex–London, Mr. Yurek, who is our critic, was unable to make the meeting due to other commitments so I stepped in. I stepped in to committee and I presented all the amendments for Her Majesty’s loyal opposition at that session. We had over 20 amendments that were presented, many of which were amendments we had worked on with organizations or groups to ensure that the issue of conscience rights was included in Bill 84.

We also looked at other legislation. There are a number of other jurisdictions that have conscience rights built into their medical assistance in dying bills.

In fact, we made it very clear during second reading debate that if the government chose to ignore Ontarians, we would respect what Ontarians would like and we would table a bill. In fact—I’m going to get to this later—on May 3, Mr. Yurek, the member for Elgin–Middlesex–London, tabled Bill 129 for first reading. It’s An Act to amend the Regulated Health Professions Act, (1991) with respect to medical assistance in dying. With your indulgence, I’ll just read from the preamble of that bill because it’s very important that people understand why there’s a private member’s bill to fix what’s not in this bill.

Bill 129 amends the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991.

“Member participation in medical assistance in dying shall be voluntary.” That’s something that we brought up in the House and in committee.

“A member shall not be subject to civil, administrative, disciplinary, employment, credentialing, regulatory or other sanction or penalty, or loss of privileges, loss of membership or any other liability for refusing to participate in medical assistance in dying.

“Participation includes, but is not limited to, performing, assisting in the performance of or making a referral for any activities related to, or for the purpose of, medical assistance in dying.

“Participation does not include the provision, upon request, of information about services that can provide access to medical assistance in dying, of a patient’s relevant medical record to the patient, or communicating, to the appropriate person in authority, a patient’s request for a complete transfer of care so that the person in authority can facilitate the transfer.”

We’ve been talking about this bill and the sections of this bill right from the very first time this bill was debated for second reading. I can remember the member for Ottawa South actually did the lead-off. I was in the chamber, on duty that day, and I was the first member in the House to put forward questions and provide comments to Bill 84. I was very clear—I was crystal clear—that my expectation was this bill would be amended to provide that support for those in our medical community with regard to conscience rights. Every subsequent time I stood up, I reiterated and reinforced that feeling.

So you can imagine, when I was sitting in committee at second reading, dealing with clause-by-clause, and we had a stack of amendments that would strengthen that—you can imagine how disappointed I was in this government that they ultimately decided not to move it forward.

Some of the amendments were actually done in association with the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience, which came and met with many MPPs. I remember at the start of the session I met with representatives in my office and I pledged to them that day that their suggestions were very reasonable, and that they should be included in this bill.

There are a number of other jurisdictions, and I refer to motion 7, amendment number 7, which we tabled in committee. With your indulgence, Speaker, I’ll read that amendment. I’ve got it right here. The amendment that I tried to put forward in committee that the government defeated was amending subsection 2(2) of the bill, section 13.10 of the Excellent Care For All Act, 2010, and it was regarding an amendment on “Participation voluntary.” That was the head of the section that I tabled; 13.10 was my amendment: “13.10(1) Participation in activities authorized pursuant to sections 241.1, 241.2, 241.3 of the Criminal Code (Canada) shall be voluntary.”

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They had another clause, Speaker:

“No adverse consequences

“(2) A person is not subject to civil, administrative, disciplinary, employment, credentialing, regulatory or other sanction or penalty or loss of privileges, loss of membership or any other liability for refusing to participate, directly or indirectly in activities authorized pursuant to sections 241.1 through 241.3 of the Criminal Code (Canada).”

And it went on with a clarification section:

“(3) For the purposes of this section, participate includes, but is not limited to, performing, assisting in the performance of or making a referral for any activities related to, or for the purpose of, medical assistance in dying.

“(4) For the purposes of this section ‘participate’ does not include

“(i) the provision, upon request, of information about services that can provide access to medical assistance in dying;

“(ii) the provision, upon request, of a patient’s relevant medical record, to the patient, or

“(iii) communicating to the appropriate person in authority a patient’s request for a complete transfer of care so that the person in authority can facilitate the transfer.”

These were all sections. The reason I’m reading them out—these were sections that were drafted by adapting language from California’s End of Life Option Act, where conscience rights are protected. None of the medical assistance in dying states—Washington, Oregon, Vermont or California—require a physician to make effective referrals.

Each time in committee, over and over and over again, we tried to present options that would strengthen this bill—to use the government’s words, “To help with that path”—but not to make a physician or a nurse or medical personnel as part of the process mandatory. We listened, Speaker. We listened, and every time we presented those amendments, this government slammed the door in our face and voted against our amendments. It was very frustrating.

As I said at the start of this, we weren’t supposed to be debating this bill today. We were supposed to be debating a time allocation motion on the budget. Again, this government can’t manage the affairs and the bills before it. We should not be surprised that Her Majesty’s official opposition is putting these issues on the floor.

One of the physicians that I met with in my riding—I talked about it briefly at second reading—was someone that I share, actually, with the member for Haldimand–Norfolk, Dr. Phil Drijber. He was very passionate about his feeling about Bill 84. It was a great opportunity when I met with Dr. Drijber to hear his perspective as a practising physician. He emphasized how important conscience rights and conscience protection were to this bill, and the fact that medical professionals across this province have issues with this bill. He spoke about how conscience rights are protected in other provinces, including Alberta’s self-referral model.

His words that day, his message to me, was that this legislation should have balance. That’s what we were trying to do in committee. We were trying to listen to the numerous voices in our ridings who made it very clear that they wanted this section added to the bill. I felt it was a very respectful and dignified tone during debate of this bill. I know there are times in this place that we have quite a raucous debate. Yesterday I came in briefly to pick up something from my desk and I heard the exchanges between the government and the opposition parties on the budget, and that’s understandable. I’m not going to go into all the reasons why it’s understandable. I think many of my constituents who are watching will know that. But we tried, with this bill, to be respectful from the start. We tried to provide comments that were in the spirit of the bill, but also to strengthen that particular section that we felt was important.

At second reading, I mentioned that I’d received many, many, many letters on this issue from constituents. I want to read an excerpt from one of them.

The government talks about Bill C-14, and they actually tried to change the preamble of the bill. After voting down every single one of our amendments that would strengthen this bill because of conscience rights, the government threw a Hail Mary and tried to change the preamble and thought that people are going to be fooled that that provides the protection they want. It was laughable at best.

Again, it’s this government’s inability to manage their own majority—they have all the tools available to them to bring legislation forward, debate it, send it to committee, bring it back for third reading and get it passed before the session, and they can’t even manage that. As I said earlier today, they told us last Thursday that they have two bills they want to get passed in 11 days, and they haven’t even introduced them yet. It’s ridiculous.

The section I want to quote is from a letter about the need for conscience protection. It’s an excerpt from an email I received:

“Despite language in Bill C-14 that suggests no health care professional should be compelled to provide or assist in providing these procedures, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) has adopted a protocol that requires an ‘effective referral’ for what is now being called ‘medical aid in dying.’

“Objecting physicians are not able to participate in euthanasia for reasons of conscience, ethics, religious convictions or the Hippocratic oath. Many are members of religious traditions that consider referral of any kind as forms of participation in euthanasia.”

The other letter that I want to briefly read is one from August 11, 2016, from the Leader of the Opposition, Patrick Brown, to Eric Hoskins. It copies CPSO, the Premier and Jeff Yurek, our Ontario PC health critic. I’ll read the last two paragraphs of Mr. Brown’s letter to the minister:

“The government of Ontario has a unique opportunity to find a way to respect patient wishes while not infringing on freedom of conscience. Surely, we can find a way forward, as other provinces have. I would strongly encourage you to provide adequate protection for Ontario’s health care professionals who find themselves forced to choose between their career and their conscience.

“It is my belief that by working collaboratively, as other provinces have, we can find a path forward that ensures our health care system respects all perspectives on this issue. I would ask you to make every effort to raise this issue with your colleagues and the CPSO as soon as possible.”

We’ve been very clear on our feelings on what needs to be in this bill. I even went so far as asking for unanimous consent so that we could move to Committee of the Whole House, not just to deal with our section, but if the government wanted to deal with their preamble, they could do it. Once the bill comes back from second reading, there are very few ways for us to deal with it. One way is by unanimous consent; if we all agree that we’re going to add conscience rights protection in this bill, we could do it by unanimous consent. The government could ask for co-operation between the other two House leaders to move into Committee of the Whole House and we could deal with our section; we could deal with the preamble; we could clean this bill up. The tools are available to us, but, again, it’s this government’s reluctance, this “my way or the highway” attitude that this Liberal government has—not just on this bill, but on many bills.

The time is coming to a close for this session—unless the government makes some big changes in how they deal with these pieces of legislation. We’ve been very clear right from the start, right from the day this bill was brought forward, on what we wanted, and it’s not there. It is not there today.

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I would ask, if the government is so adamant that they not listen to us, that prior to the long weekend, we have private members’ business on May 18; I believe that’s the date. We’re going to be debating Bill 129. I’m going to be here, Speaker, and I know that many of my colleagues are going to be here. If the government isn’t willing to bring this bill back, we need to support that bill. We need to show the medical community and our constituents that we’re listening to them. The Liberal government hasn’t been listening to them. We need to show them that we are listening. This is an important section in this bill. We need to stand up and be counted.

I’m very glad that I’ve had the opportunity to speak today and I hope that the government doesn’t just let their rotation go forward. They’ve stopped debating this bill. They’ve closed their minds now. They don’t want to hear the other voices in Ontario. But there are opportunities for us to put this bill with good amendments before it gets passed. Thank you for giving me this chance, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Questions and comments?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: It’s a pleasure to rise as the MPP for London West to offer a few comments on third reading of Bill 84, the medical assistance in dying legislation.

If there is one issue that ought to be non-partisan in this place, it is medical assistance in dying. We have had debate in this House during second reading of this bill, during the hundreds of people who came to the committee to make presentations on this bill and now during third reading of this bill. What we have seen from the Liberal government is very little willingness to address some of the serious concerns that have been raised.

I know that during committee our member, the member for Nickel Belt, the health critic for the NDP caucus, brought forward numerous amendments to strengthen the bill, to try to incorporate some of the issues that had been brought to her and had been brought to the committee by people in this province who want to see this legislation be as effective and respectful as possible. They want to see legislation that strikes the right balance between people’s ability to access the care they need at end of life and also the conscience rights of health care providers.

One of the amendments that my colleague brought forward that was voted down by the Liberals was to ensure that the protections that are extended to physicians and nurse practitioners also extend to registered nurses—because the reality is that RNs are present in virtually all instances of medical assistance in dying. The Liberals refused to accept that amendment, just as they refused to accept many other changes.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions and comments?

Mr. John Yakabuski: I was surprised to be rising because I thought there would be some response from the government side, but alas, no response. It’s the same action we got from them on our amendments to Bill 84. It pushed us to the point that our health critic, Mr. Yurek, brought in a private member’s bill. He tabled a private member’s bill, which will be debated next week, by the way, before this House, that would protect the conscience rights of medical professionals.

You have to ask yourself: Why is it the Liberals insist on refusing to recognize the conscience rights of medical professionals? They are recognized in other jurisdictions across this country. Their conscience rights are recognized and respected. This would not change or affect the ability of someone who wishes to end their life by medically assisted death. This would not change their right or affect their right to have their life end in that fashion. But it would protect the people who feel that in their hearts they cannot participate in this process.

So what would be lost? Nothing. The only thing that would be gained is the fact that this government would also show that we don’t only show compassion for those who want to end a life of possible suffering, but we also show compassion for those who believe deeply that this is something they cannot participate in. Where is the compassion for those who have deeply held beliefs? Where’s the protection and where’s the concern and where’s the compassion for them?

I am so disappointed in this government, that it would not entrench those rights in their legislation. Our critic will.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions and comments?

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: It’s my pleasure to rise to add some comments on Bill 84, the Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act. I had an opportunity to speak to this at more length earlier on in the debate. One point that I just want to bring forward, because I think it’s a very important point and it’s something that perhaps is being lost in the debate, something that the government side has not addressed—and I want to commend my colleague, France Gélinas, from Nickel Belt, who has done a tremendous amount of work around this particular piece of legislation, legislation that we have to discuss; we don’t have a choice, and that’s important to note. It’s important that people from all sides of the issue are heard and listened to, because everybody has valid concerns. I believe my colleague from Nickel Belt has done a very good job of doing that in representing the NDP caucus, whether that’s been here in the House during her comments on it or whether that’s in committee.

But I think a piece that’s been missed—and every time I’ve had an opportunity to get up and say it, I’ve done it, and I’m going to do it again—is the piece around mental health supports. We all know in this House, whether the government side wants to admit it or not, that there is a mental health crisis in this province. There is not enough support for those with mental health concerns and needs. This legislation doesn’t address the mental health supports people are going to need, whether it’s those people who are looking into possibly choosing medical assistance in dying, whether it’s the family and friends who will be left behind once someone does choose to go this route or whether it’s the medical professionals who choose to actually provide this care and this service to patients. All of those people are going to need support at some point, and this government hasn’t done enough to make sure that those supports are in place. It’s a big, gaping hole in this bill, and it should have been addressed.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions and comments?

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I’m pleased to add my voice to this debate, and recognize the good work that the member from Leeds–Grenville puts forward, not only on behalf of his riding and our caucus, but truly for the province of Ontario. He is absolutely right in his message today. We have to do better by Ontarians. In saying that, we have to stand by our doctors and our professional folks in the health field.

This week we’re celebrating Nursing Week and, for goodness sake, the bill, in the manner in which it’s written, doesn’t even protect them. I can tell you, Speaker, in quite some time I haven’t had an issue that has raised the ire more in my riding of Huron–Bruce than this particular bill. From one end of the riding, from the south to the north and all points in between, people just don’t like this legislation, and they’re frustrated because clearly this government continues to prove time and again that they’re out of touch and they’re not listening.

For instance, I have a petition that went through a large part of my riding. People from Formosa, Wingham, Teeswater, Lucknow, Goderich and Varna have signed this petition. It reads:

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

“Pass legislation providing robust conscience protection for Ontario’s health care providers, for medical aid in dying.”

This has just picked up steam and we’re hearing from people all the time and they’re saying, “This government has got to be stopped. We have had enough.” Not only do they just run roughshod, if you will, with electricity prices, but they are not protecting the rights of our doctors and our professional health care workers, and that is not right.

We have put forward thoughtful amendments to this bill. They voted them down. This bill needs to be voted down.

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I now return to the member from Leeds–Grenville for final comments.

Mr. Steve Clark: Thank you, Speaker. I want to thank the members for London West, Windsor West, Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke and Huron–Bruce, and I do want to take the opportunity to comment on the two members from the third party that talked about the member for Nickel Belt, Ms. Gélinas. She did an excellent job at committee. Both the opposition parties, both our party and the New Democrats, I thought, worked very collaboratively in committee. I did tell the member for Nickel Belt what a great job she did in committee after we were finished, but I do also want to put it also on the record today, because again, as Mr. Brown said in his letter to Minister Hoskins in August, this doesn’t have to be a partisan issue. We heard from our constituents that they wanted this bill amended, they wanted this strengthened. We heard, as I did from members in the medical community.

You know, Speaker, again, the government tells us on a Thursday we’re going to be dealing with a time allocation motion. They can’t manage their own affairs in the government House leader’s office or maybe they’re getting their strings pulled by the Premier’s office. They’re in a mess. They’re silent this morning on this bill, so the two opposition parties are the only ones now that are standing up for the people of Ontario on this bill, Bill 84. We’re the only ones who have comments on the record. Nobody from the government seems to care about those constituents who have valid concerns, who want to see this bill strengthened, who want to see amendments put forward.

So, my message, then, is simple. We’re going to continue to stand up for you on this issue. We’ve got a private member’s bill that will be debated in this House on May 18 that will provide the conscience rights that you want in this bill and that the government doesn’t want to give you. The government won’t even comment on it anymore. I ask folks to watch for that debate. It’s very important. I’ll be here and I hope the bill passes.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Mr. Jim Wilson: It’s a pleasure this morning to join in the debate about Bill 84, the Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act, 2016.

This is, of course, a very delicate issue. We’ve heard a lot of passionate comments from people on all sides of the House and from all parties. It’s an issue that’s one of the most profound that we will have to deal with in this Legislature: life and death.

There are many different perspectives on medical assistance in dying, or MAID, as it is abbreviated, although I really don’t like that abbreviation so I’ll try not to use it. There are many who, for personal and conscience reasons, would have a hard time participating in something that ultimately ends a person’s life. That’s, of course, one of the contentious issues, as has been mentioned by my colleagues this morning. The difference between both opposition parties and the government—one of the big differences on this bill—is the conscience rights for health care providers. I’ll talk about that.

However, right or wrong, the issue of medical assistance in dying is not something that we’re actually debating today. That question, in Canada, has been decided, because this legislation, Bill 84, that we are debating today, is in response to a Supreme Court ruling on medical assistance in dying and it’s a response to federal legislation that passed last June as a result of the court ruling.

The aim of the federal legislation was to make medical assistance in dying a legal service that is available and delivered in accordance with the law. The role of Ontario’s regulatory health professional colleges is to provide guidance and regulations regarding medical assistance in dying.

What does Bill 84 actually do? Bill 84 provides clarity and legal projections for health care professionals, including clinicians, doctors and nurse practitioners, along with organizations that provide access to medical assistance in dying services in Ontario.

The bill amends the Coroners Act to require that the coroner is notified and determines whether or not an investigation into the death is necessary. The bill also protects doctors, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals who provide or assist in medical assistance in dying services from lawsuits—unless, of course, there is alleged negligence.

The bill ensures that benefits or sums provided under a contract or statute shall not be invoked or denied if the deceased received medical assistance in dying services. This relates to insurance-type payouts, as an example.

The bill also exempts information that identifies doctors, clinicians or facilities from the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. In other words, it protects their names and the names of their institutions, if they so wish.

Finally, the bill changes death certificates in the province. The coroner doesn’t have to sign a death certificate unless investigating the death. It also ensures that a person receiving medical assistance in dying is deemed to have died as a result of the injury or disease for which the person was determined to be eligible for medical assistance in dying services and not from another cause of death. In other words, if the reason you are permitted to access medical assistance in dying services, that reason—the disease or injury for which the reason is—will be on the death certificate, not the fact that you received medical assistance in dying services.

The bill is well-meaning legislation and designed to protect patients, but what we have issues with on this side of the House, and why we won’t be able to vote for this legislation as it stands, is because of what the bill doesn’t do.

In its final form, this legislation has missed the mark. The government has missed the mark as the bill remains without conscience protection for medical professionals. Added to this legislation along the way was a referral structure. Let me share with you part of a letter I received from—it’s the same letter I received from a number of constituents who remain concerned with this legislation. They remain concerned as we speak today:

“As your constituent, I am writing to express my deep concern regarding conscience rights. I understand that the Ontario government has introduced Bill 84, Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Statute Law Amendment Act which, at present, does not provide conscience protection for doctors and health care providers who conscientiously object to taking part in MAID.

“Despite conscience protection in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and languages in federal Bill C-14 that no health care professional should be compelled to provide or assist in providing these procedures, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) requires an ‘effective referral’ for ‘medical assistance in dying.’ For doctors or health care workers who are unable to participate, an effective referral is akin to performing the procedure. Doctors may have an objection for any number of reasons: conscience, ethics, moral convictions or the Hippocratic oath.

“Ontario now has an opportunity to offer the same conscience protection that is in place in every other country worldwide where medical assistance in dying has been legalized. Why won’t Ontario respect these fundamental rights?”

That’s the end of the quote from the letters I’ve been receiving from my constituents.

Every expert who has spoken to this legislation recognized the need for balance, ensuring that medical assistance in dying is available, but at the same time protecting the conscience rights of health care professionals. My colleagues also submitted amendments to the committee in this regard, yet our amendments were all voted down. Now we’re here at the final stages of this legislation and it’s still missing this critical component. Just as important as providing medical assistance in dying to those who want and are eligible for it is ensuring that a person’s individual rights are protected. We question why regulations in Ontario do not ensure a balance between the two.

In Alberta, they have a patient referral service that has been able to find that balance. A patient who wants to end their life has the right, and medical professionals who do not want to be complicit in the act don’t have to be complicit in the act. A patient seeking medical assistance in dying services in Alberta does not have to go through a doctor. They can call a phone number—I believe the actual number is 811—and they will be connected to someone who will help them through the system. This way, a doctor does not have to be penalized if participating in such an act would violate their moral, conscience or religious beliefs. In Ontario, as the legislation stands, this is simply not the case.

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In British Columbia, the system is slightly different than in Alberta, but again, health care professionals are not penalized if they do not want to participate. These are examples of systems that work, and work well, from all perspectives.

What I don’t understand, and what I wish the government side of the House would explain, is why one side of this debate has to be pitted against the other, like the government has done with this legislation, particularly when there is a solution readily available. Why aren’t we doing something similar to other jurisdictions that have systems in place, that are working and in fact have greater access than Ontario does since the court ruling in Ottawa?

The Ontario Medical Association has said that they support a patient’s self-referral option for medical assistance in dying in addition to current clinic referral services. The Canadian Medical Association has said that they support the freedom-of-conscience choice, along with those who choose to provide and/or participate in medical assistance in dying and those who do not.

The College of Nurses of Ontario recognizes a nurse’s freedom of conscience. They believe the legislation should not compel an individual to provide or assist in medical assistance in dying, and also stipulate that the nurse’s conscience objection must not be directly conveyed to the client, and/or their personal judgments regarding their beliefs, lifestyle, identity are not to be expressed to the client.

Expert after expert has told this government that there needs to be balance, and yet they’ve been ignored every step of the way, as have members of the opposition parties. It is the same closed-minded approach that we’ve seen again and again from this Premier and government. It’s pure arrogance. This government forgets that they are here on behalf of all Ontarians. It is the responsibility of government to listen to experts and act in the best interests of all Ontarians. This legislation, as written, certainly does not do that, and for no real reason.

If you look at this government’s record, however, the problem becomes clear. Health care is a disaster in Ontario today, and, once again, it simply comes down to mismanagement from ministers too tired to care about the details. I think this was alluded to by the member from Leeds–Grenville as to what a mess things are around here. Wait times have increased in children’s mental health and in knee and hip surgeries. They delisted physiotherapy services, to name a few examples. They’ve also introduced one of the largest tax increases in provincial history with health premiums, which remain hidden in provincial income taxes.

What I also find interesting, and what I want to thank the member from Elgin–Middlesex–London for highlighting in his remarks on this legislation, is the government’s focus on bureaucracy over front-line patient care. I know what I’m talking about, Mr. Speaker; I was Minister of Health in this province for a few years and rejected things like LHINs. These things were proposed to the government in the mid-1990s when I was Minister of Health. Regional health care was brought forward by the bureaucrats and other so-called experts.

I can remember Ralph Klein telling me, when he moved to regional health care—we were at a federal-provincial health ministers’ meeting in Alberta in about 1996. He was flipping pancakes, as he was known to do, for the Premier’s breakfast and recognized me in line. He said, “Don’t let them do it to you. It’s ruining Alberta’s health care system.” Of course, years later, I said that to George Smitherman when he was Minister of Health here. I said, “Why are you moving to the LHIN model?” It’s a whole pile of more people called “executive directors,” who are paid at the level of assistant deputy ministers, scattered around the province, when all the big decisions are still made here at Queen’s Park, at the Ministry of Health. You’re not going to build a hospital or get money for your hospice or anything like that without talking to the health minister here at Queen’s Park. LHINs are just one more layer that everybody has to go through, and it was a bad idea.

But our colleague, our critic, the member for Elgin–Middlesex–London, had some pretty interesting comments, that I want to repeat, about the Ministry of Health at this time. He said that at a time when funding is more than half of the budget of the province of Ontario and when the government should be looking for efficiencies, they keep putting more and more funding into bureaucracy and less and less into patients. Things are backwards. The government has made all kinds of experimental changes to the structure of health care over the years that as far as I can tell have only made things worse. Let me remind the government of what my colleague said—again, I’m referring to Mr. Yurek—and list them again here.

The government created the LHINs—I just talked about that. They changed the structure of the Ministry of Health five times in 13 years. They changed the roles of community care access centres. They changed the structure of community care access centres. They created an eHealth agency, pulling it out of the Ministry of Health. They created an Ontario Health Quality Council. They created health links. They’ve created hospital hubs.

Then they eliminated CCAC boards. They merged CCACs with LHINs. Then they changed the reporting structure of the CCACs and LHINs. They then changed the reporting structure of primary care teams and clinics. They’re in the process of creating 78 sub-LHINs. They changed all local decision oversight back to the Ministry of Health, so it’s centralized again, but we have more offices and more bureaucracy out in the field, doing nothing—certainly not managing front-line care or providing front-line care. They’ve increased the Ministry of Health management structure—get this—by a whopping 500% since 2003. Can you think of any organization, having gone through the recession, that’s increased its people by 500%?

There’s a report out today from the Fraser Institute that talks about how overall, Ontario has had dismal growth in the private sector since 2003, half that of the other lowest province. So we had the lowest growth in private sector job creation, but we’ve had growth slightly over 29% in our public sector, the largest of any province in Canada since 2003.

This is where you see it: You see it in health care. It’s not nurses; we know they’ve been firing nurses by the hundreds and, in the case of North Bay, I think they’re probably up to about 300 or more. We hear about it every week from the member from Nipissing. They got rid of physiotherapy. They’ve been cutting across the board. We’ve had a record number of stories in the media recently, in the last two years, about the crowding in our hospitals. But there’s always money for more departments. They’ve increased the number of departments in the Ministry of Health by 500%. So it’s easy: The number of people is up by 500% in the bureaucracy and the number of departments has increased fivefold.

We can’t forget eHealth—14 years in power, $8 billion in the eHealth system and it’s still not functioning.

Like my colleague our critic said, each and every one of these experiments and changes has taken money away from patient care and decreased services. Mr. Speaker, this government’s logic is pure nonsense. As a legislator, I always try to put myself in the shoes of the people impacted by the changes—that is, the patients and families.

Is medical assistance in dying something that medical professionals should be forced to do? That’s the issue here today. That’s the issue that separates the government from the opposition. We believe the answer is no, medical professionals should not be forced when there are other ways to make sure we have greater access to medical assistance in dying services, as other provinces and other jurisdictions, particularly the United States, have proven, without infringing on the personal rights of the medical professional.

Last Wednesday my colleague, the member for Elgin–Middlesex–London, introduced a private member’s bill, Bill 129, that protects the conscience rights of medical professionals. It will allow all Ontarians to be protected by this private member’s legislation. I hope the government will do the right thing and support the legislation. The member for Leeds–Grenville outlined exactly what it does, but it protects the conscience rights of health care professionals. It provides for a system similar to Alberta’s.

Again, these other provinces that do protect medical professionals and their personal rights have statistically, at this moment, greater access. We have a larger population, yet we’ve had a smaller percentage of people being able to access, since it became legal, medical assistance in dying. The other provinces have conscience rights and they have greater access. So I don’t know why the government is stuck on it.

I think Patrick Brown, the leader of the official opposition, the leader of the PC Party of Ontario, probably has it right. But because it’s a Conservative idea, you won’t adopt it. Stubbornness doesn’t make for good legislation.

I’ve also read out from the nurses’ association, the Ontario Medical Association, other professional associations and medical professions, that would like conscience rights, along with many of our constituents who, when you go home and try to explain why the government isn’t doing this, you end up having to say to them, “I can’t explain that to you. I don’t know why they’re not doing it.” It’s a no-brainer, as we would say for so many other issues.

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I’m going to ask the government to smarten up. It’s not too late. We’re going to keep debating here, give you the opportunity to get up, change your mind, as was mentioned by our deputy House leader and deputy leader of the party—or a deputy leader of the party; we have two of them—

Mr. Steve Clark: I’m deputy leader at my house, too.

Mr. Jim Wilson: He’s deputy leader at home, apparently, too. He’s a good deputy. He’s really good at it, apparently.

We can always open up the floor here, have an all-party agreement not to filibuster—because I know that’s why no one likes to go into Committee of the Whole. It’s hard to get out of Committee of the Whole. In fact, I don’t think it’s been done for a while.

We could have an agreement that we just deal with the conscience rights amendment and have it done with, and probably every member of the House would vote for it and it would be much better legislation. We’ll even help you brag about it.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I hope the government will consider our reasoned request.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Questions and comments?

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’m pleased to join the debate and thank our colleague, the member from Simcoe–Grey. He started off his 20-minute speech this morning talking about the importance and the sensitivity of this issue, and it being perhaps one of the most sensitive and impactful pieces of legislation that we will have the opportunity to debate and, really, the honour to debate, because for families who are in these types of scenarios, who are having to contemplate the need for medical assistance in dying—I can’t imagine there being an any more difficult decision, not only to come to that decision, but the effects it has on a family, your loved ones, your friends. It’s something that I don’t really give much thought to on a daily basis and I can’t imagine the pressure and the toll that it takes.

Nevertheless, it is our role to ensure that the resources for those families who are in these scenarios are there, and that means ensuring that the health care professionals who are a part of the process and a part of the team that are helping families have the resources, have the protections and are supported in a whole host of ways, none of the least in mental health supports. We can only imagine that endeavouring in this type of realm would cause some serious concerns and problems, and one that we should reflect on and be ready to support through the actions of this Legislature.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions and comments?

Mrs. Julia Munro: I’m pleased to be able to join in the debate today on Bill 84. I’m really puzzled about this bill because on first reading, it seemed to be very progressive and an opportunity that many people have felt was overdue that we needed to accept the importance of people having a choice. That sounds all very well and good, and it sounds like, as soon as you mention choice, it means that you can do this or choose not to do this. Well, when I first debated on this bill, it was at second reading. In the course of time between its introduction and second reading, I had learned more about the bill and more about, frankly, the people in my constituency who were interested in this particular bill.

It became clear to me that there was a very simple solution to a relatively easy but difficult choice—in the sense of a personal choice—that people made, but again, going back to the individual’s ability to make a choice. There seemed to be something left off the table. There wasn’t the opportunity for conscience rights to be recognized. Well, that’s not difficult either in the sense that you look around—as legislators, we often look around at what other jurisdictions are doing and they had this issue solved and people were content with in a program like the one in Alberta.

So when I spoke in second reading and urged everyone to look at this as a method to solve the problem of that group not having choice, we’re still here today.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions and comments?

Mr. Michael Mantha: I’m sitting here in my seat this morning wondering what I’m going to bring to this debate and, actually, it was provided to me this morning at the smudging that we had on the front lawn.

I’m going to read the seven grandfather teachings because I believe it’s totally appropriate to the discussion this morning.

It starts with “Honesty: To achieve honesty within yourself, to recognize who you are; do this and you can be honest with all others.

“Humility: Humble yourself and recognize that no matter how much you think you know, you know very little of all the universe.

“Truth: To learn truth, to live with truth, to walk with truth and to speak truth.

“Wisdom: To have wisdom is to know the difference between good and bad, to know result of your actions.

“Love: Unconditional love is given freely without conditions.

“Respect: Respect others, their beliefs, and respect yourself. Show respect to receive respect.

“Bravery: To be brave is to do something right, even if you know it’s going hurt you.”

It’s absolutely appropriate for the debate and the discussions that we’re having here this morning.

Having that ceremony this morning really humbles a person. The message, it was right in front of me this morning when I was reading this and I’m going to be asking this government to be brave in your decisions and your deliberations that you’re going to be making here because it is going to be affecting a lot of individuals and we have an opportunity to get this right.

Have the wisdom; that’s why that owl is up there. I’m going to continue looking up at the eagle each and every day in order to be vigilant in my task as far as holding this government to account.

I’m asking this government to be brave in their deliberations in putting this bill forward.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions and comments?

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Again, this is an important piece of legislation that we all should be standing up and speaking to. Bill 84 is actually missing the mark and that’s why I feel it’s very important to stand up and share the voice of constituents from my riding.

I received an email from Maria Vander Klippe. In her email she goes on to say, “I understand that the government is in the process of creating a care coordination service that would be publicly accessible in Ontario.” In bold letters, she goes on to say: “This does not solve the problem of effective referral in Ontario.”

She concludes by asking us to support an amendment to Bill 84 to protect conscience rights and prevent the thousands of objecting physicians and health care providers from being forced out of their practice.

Well, that very thoughtful amendment came from my colleague from Elgin–Middlesex–London. I appreciate the fact that our colleague from Simcoe–Grey, our House leader, has led by example, pointing out the fact that it was a good amendment. It was an amendment that was spot-on in terms of protecting the conscience rights of our doctors and our health care providers. Nowhere else in Canada is there a gaping hole except right here in Ontario, and this Liberal government is consciously keeping that gap open.

The member from Simcoe–Grey brought up the fact that maybe they’re avoiding and voted down that idea from the member from Elgin–Middlesex–London because it’s a good idea. Our leader very well pointed out that there’s no monopoly on a good idea. Just last week, Hazel McCallion was in my riding. She’s the CEO of Revera, the chief elder officer, and while she was visiting Trillium Court in Kincardine she said she agrees with Patrick that there is no monopoly on a good idea.

So I hope that we can get this done in the private member’s bill, Bill 129.

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I return to the member from Simcoe–Grey for final comments.

Mr. Jim Wilson: I want to thank the members for Essex, York–Simcoe, Algoma–Manitoulin and, of course, Huron–Bruce for their kind comments and for agreeing that conscience rights for medical professionals should be in this legislation.

As far as our research shows, worldwide, not just in Canada, but in the States and Europe, where medical assistance in dying services are available and legal, they all make some provision for the conscience objections of medical professionals who do not in any way want to participate but at the same time do not want to block access.

In the case of Alberta, they set up a simple telephone system where family or the person, the patient themselves, can phone, and impartial people, bureaucrats, can help them through the system and guide them to medical professionals who will provide the service. In Ontario, for some reason, we can’t just seem to adopt that simple approach. In British Columbia, a similar approach; Quebec actually requires pretty well that people not force medical professionals or harass them in any way into the service and they set up a very—I hate to use the word—consumer-friendly approach to these services.

We do this not just because of the court ruling, but out of compassion for patients who are near end of life, who are suffering greatly. There seems there will be no end to their suffering. The end is inevitable. For their peace of mind and their peace and for their families, we do it out of compassion. We should show some compassion to the medical professionals who are on the front line, who, out of good conscience, do not want to participate. Again, in provinces in Canada, the experience so far—those that allowed for conscience rights also have greater access to medical assistance in dying than we do.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Bill 84 is a very important and necessary piece of legislation. It supports the implementation of medical assistance in dying by providing more protection and greater clarity for patients, their families and, of course, the health care providers.

Speaker, we allowed the debate to continue when it reached six and a half hours of second reading debate on this bill so that more members would have an opportunity to present their views on the bill. This bill saw well over nine hours of debate at second reading and now we’ve had nearly six hours of debate at third reading. All but the Progressive Conservative Party have stopped debating this bill. They’re debating themselves now on an issue that’s received a lot of debate in this House.

There are a number of pieces of important legislation that need to be listened to, already introduced, which the government would like to debate and move through the legislative process: Bill 39, the Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act; Bill 65, the Safer School Zones Act; Bill 68, the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act; Bill 87, the Protecting Patients Act; Bill 89, the Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act; Bill 96, the Anti-Human Trafficking Act; Bill 114, the Anti-Racism Act; Bill 124, the Rental Fairness Act; and Bill 127, the Stronger, Healthier Ontario Act.

Mr. Speaker, we’d like to spend some time debating some of the other important pieces of legislation that are currently before the House, but we can’t until Bill 84 is voted on. As a result, I move that this question be now put.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Mr. Flynn has moved that the question be now put. Knowing that there have been over 10 hours in committee debating this particular bill and there have been a subsequent number of hours at third reading, I’m satisfied that there has, in fact, been sufficient debate to allow this question to be put to the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour of the motion that the question be now put, please say “aye.”

All those opposed to the motion that the question be now put, please say “nay.”

I believe that the ayes have it.

A recorded vote being required, this vote will be deferred until after question period today.

Vote deferred.

Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act, 2017 / Loi de 2017 sur la modernisation des secteurs des ressources en agrégats et des mines

Resuming the debate adjourned on May 4, 2017, on the motion for third reading of the following bill:

Bill 39, An Act to amend the Aggregate Resources Act and the Mining Act / Projet de loi 39, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les ressources en agrégats et la Loi sur les mines.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Bill 39 is an important and necessary piece of legislation that’s going to modernize how we oversee, regulate and manage mining and aggregates in Ontario.

As before, we allowed the debate to continue when we reached six and a half hours of second reading debate on this bill so that more members would have an opportunity to present their views on the bill.

Speaker, this bill was introduced last October and saw well over nine hours of debate at second reading. Now we’ve had nearly six hours of debate at third reading, two of which have been only the Progressive Conservative Party debating themselves again.

We’ve heard time and time again complaints from the members opposite about the length of the legislative process:

“Here we are, three years later, Madam Speaker, and we’re still talking about the recommendations of a standing committee of this Legislature.” That was the member from Wellington–Halton Hills on October 27, 2016.

“This has been a long time coming.... It’s been many, many years. As a matter of fact, since I’ve been here, we’ve been talking about this....” That was the member from Prince Edward–Hastings on October 27, 2016.

“Looking at it now, it’s quite interesting, because there were a number of members over the years who participated and were active in this, and yet they aren’t here anymore, which speaks to how long we’ve been waiting for some kind of amendment to the Aggregate Resources Act.” That was the member from Dufferin–Caledon on November 3, 2016.

But members from that same party spent two hours here last Thursday evening debating themselves, holding up a decision by the House on this important piece of legislation.

As I said previously, there’s a number of pieces of very important legislation, already introduced, which the government would like to debate and move through the legislative process: Bill 65, the Safer School Zones Act; Bill 87, the Protecting Patients Act; Bill 89, the Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act; Bill 96, the Anti-Human Trafficking Act; the Anti-Racism Act; the Rental Fairness Act; the Stronger, Healthier Ontario Act.

Mr. Speaker, we’d like to spend some time debating some of these other important pieces of legislation currently before the House, but obviously we can’t until Bill 39 is voted on. As a result, I move that this question be now put.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Mr. Flynn has moved that the question be now put. Understanding and knowing the number of hours that have been debated at second reading, and also knowing there were sufficient hours at committee and now at third reading, I am satisfied that there has been sufficient debate to allow this question to be put to the House. Therefore, is it the pleasure of House that the motion carry? I believe I heard a no.

All those in favour of the motion that the question be now put, please say “aye.”

All those opposed to the motion that the question be now put, please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

A recorded vote being required, this vote will be deferred until after question period today.

Vote deferred.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Orders of the day.

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Speaker, no further business.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Since there’s no further business at this point in time, this House stands recessed until 10:30.

The House recessed from 1009 to 1030.

Introduction of Visitors

Mr. Lorne Coe: It’s my pleasure to introduce to the Legislature Jeff Edwards from the Whitby detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police. Welcome, Jeff.

Hon. Jeff Leal: With great pleasure today, I get to introduce three bright interns who will be working with OMAFRA this summer: Carling Fee, Dillon Baker and Olyvia Little. It’s an opportunity for them to learn about the back concessions and kitchen tables for farming in Ontario.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: It’s always a great day when I can introduce people from the great riding of Huron–Bruce. From Huron county, we have Scott Tousaw. He’s a planner with the county of Huron. Also joining us in the chamber today are representatives of Community Living Walkerton and District: Ashly Lamont, Jessica Forsyth, Heather Munro, Carol Patterson and Craig Harrison. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: On behalf of Teresa Armstrong from London–Fanshawe, I would like to acknowledge that today’s page captain is Eesha Rehan. Her mother, Nazish Rehan, is in the public gallery this morning. Welcome.

Hon. Helena Jaczek: Please help me welcome everyone from Community Living Ontario here today at Queen’s Park. I would like to encourage all members to join them at their reception today immediately after question period in room 228.

Mr. Norm Miller: I would like to welcome members from Community Living Parry Sound who are visiting today, Jo-anne Demick and Trisha Bain; and also the representatives of the OPP Association, Rob Stinson, Carol Seed, Paul Hywarren; and Jim Burnett, from Pathway, who met with me today.

Mme Nathalie Des Rosiers: Je veux souhaiter la bienvenue à Kenneth Gray, Walter Vandergoten, Terri Hubbert, and Derek Young, from the OPPA, whom I just had the pleasure of meeting this morning. Welcome.

Mr. Rick Nicholls: It’s my pleasure to direct the attention of the members to the west members’ gallery where we have Officer Rob Enzlin from the Chatham-Kent OPP; Harold Coffin, OPP from Lambton; Amanda Zielinski, Chatham-Kent OPP; Phil Bezaire, retired, but from Lambton OPP; and Rob Jamieson, who is somewhere here, president of the OPPA, whose in-laws are from Chatham-Kent.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I would like to welcome members of Community Living Essex County: Lisa Vincent, Brigitte Gagnon, John Cooper, Beth Renaud, Ray Renaud and Eva Penner-Banman, as well as members of the Ontario Provincial Police Association whom we met this morning: Crystal Peralta, Steve MacNally, and a special friend—and a special shout-out to—Officer Trevor Davies, who once saved my daughter’s life when she was a little baby. If you want to hear more about the story, come to the reception this evening for the OPPA, where I will fully explain the wonderful story of Officer Davies.

Mrs. Amrit Mangat: I would like to welcome the grade 5 students from San Lorenzo Ruiz Catholic school in my great riding of Mississauga–Brampton South. I hope they have a wonderful time at Queen’s Park. I look forward to meeting them after question period.

Mr. Bill Walker: I would like to welcome Jillian Serkowney, who is a constituent from Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, and also from the OPP, Pam Campbell, Mike Ashley, and all members of the OPPA. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Bob Delaney: On behalf of the member for Etobicoke Centre and page Katie Winterton, I’m pleased to welcome her aunt, Jacqueline Krikorian, who is in the public gallery this morning.

Mr. Todd Smith: I would like to welcome a couple of OPP officers as well: Randy Hayes, Mike Danielson and also Michelle LaMorre, who works at the Prince Edward county OPP detachment, all with the OPPA. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Granville Anderson: I would like to welcome Niko Pupella, Ashley Stekel, Suzy Hall, Samantha Hillis, Amanda Morey and Tracy McGarry, who are here today from Community Living Durham North.

Mr. Robert Bailey: I would like to welcome today from the OPPA, in the west members’ gallery, Steve MacNally, Officer Kelly Bailey and Kristie Bright, all with the OPPA here today.

Hon. Marie-France Lalonde: As was mentioned, we’re very happy to welcome the Ontario Provincial Police Association. I would like to welcome in the House today Mr. Rob Jamieson, the president, and Chris Hoffman, Doug Lewis, Thomas Kaudelka, Mike Adair, John Cerasuolo, David Sabatini, Peter Curtis and Leanna Karremans. A big welcome to everyone else here from the OPPA. If I may say, we are hosting a reception tonight, and I welcome every member to come and join us in room 247. Welcome.

Mr. Monte McNaughton: I’d like to welcome to Queen’s Park today Community Living Wallaceburg and Middlesex Community Living, as well as local OPP officers from Lambton–Kent–Middlesex.

Mme France Gélinas: J’aimerais souhaiter la bienvenue à Don Bissonnette et Pierre Joyal, qui sont tous les deux policiers avec la Police provinciale de l’Ontario à Sudbury, as well as to Thomas Kaudelka, also from the Ontario Provincial Police Association. Bienvenue à Queen’s Park. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Ann Hoggarth: As the Ontario Provincial Police Association is based in my riding of Barrie, I would like to welcome all OPP officers here with us today. Specifically, I would like to welcome Carol Seed, Shannon Lamarche, Louise Sweet, John Carter, President Rob Jamieson and Peter Curtis. Also, I’d like to welcome my granddaughter, Carling Fee.

Mr. Jim McDonell: I’d like to welcome the OPPA: Ken Gray and Walter Vandergoten from Hawkesbury, Derek Young from the Ottawa OTU group and Terri Hubbert from SD&G, who has talked about being still upset over the Char-Lan Rebels beating the South Stormont Selects.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I’d like to welcome representatives from the Information Technology Association of Canada who are with us today as part of Digital Health Day here at Queen’s Park. ITAC, of course, represents the information technology industry in Canada. They’re going to be meeting with MPPs, ministers and ministers’ offices today to highlight the importance of investing in digital health to improve the quality of health in this province. Welcome to Brendan Seaton, president of ITAC Health, and other representatives of the industry.

Hon. Eleanor McMahon: Good morning, Speaker. I’m honoured to welcome our members from the OPP from across Ontario. As a member of the police family, and especially the OPP family, it give me great pride to welcome our members in uniform who keep us safe every day. We thank them for what they do, and we thank them for being here. I would like to underscore and welcome in a special way Chris Hoffman, Mike Adair, Judy Alton and the president of the OPPA, Rob Jamieson. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mme France Gélinas: I, too, would like to introduce a few members of ITAC in the health care sector: Ken Stevens, Andy Hind, Lisa Shoniker and Brendan Seaton. Very good meeting this morning. Thank you for coming to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Ted McMeekin: I’d like to introduce a group from the Meeting of the Minds, a self-advocacy group at Choices in my riding: Philip Beauchamp, Meranda Keast, Rebecca Anger, Simon Veilleux, Jay Faguy, Sandee Green and Jacqueline De Schutter. Welcome, all.

Hon. Mitzie Hunter: I would like to welcome all students who are here today and those who are watching. I would especially like to welcome a group from my riding in Scarborough–Guildwood: Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute and their teacher Kelly Dunn. Please welcome them.

Hon. Kathryn McGarry: I’d like to welcome to Queen’s Park Shirley Fenton, who will be at the ITAC Health Queen’s Park day today.

Hon. Indira Naidoo-Harris: I’d like to welcome members of the Ontario Provincial Police Association who are here today. Specifically, I’d like to welcome Donna DeHamilton and John, Karen, Mark and Alison, who I met with this morning. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

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Mr. Han Dong: I would like to introduce students from Contact Alternative School. They are with us in the Legislature this morning. I want to say a special thank you and welcome to all of them.

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: I’d like to welcome members of the OPPA: Jennifer Neamtz, Brady Lazary and of course Karen German from Brighton. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Helena Jaczek: Point of order, Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Point of order.

Hon. Helena Jaczek: I believe you will find that we have unanimous consent that all members be permitted to wear ribbons in recognition of the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Community and Social Services is seeking unanimous consent to wear the ribbons. Do we agree? Agreed.

Today in the Speaker’s gallery, I have a guest. She is the press gallery intern for the summer here at Queen’s Park, Palak Mangat. Welcome. It’s the only time somebody from the press is allowed to look at the Speaker. I just wanted to let you know that.

The member from Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound on a point of order.

Mr. Bill Walker: My point of order: Yesterday during debate on the budget bill, the Deputy Premier made a comment about cutting the Markdale hospital. It’s inappropriate to threaten—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): First of all, that’s not a point of order.

Laughter.

Mr. Bill Walker: And she laughs about it. Unbelievable.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Second of all, the member is dangerously close to being named with an attitude like that when I’m standing. It will not happen again.

Welcome to all our guests. It is therefore now time for question period.

Oral Questions

Probation and parole services

Mr. Patrick Brown: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Attorney General. Last night’s exposé about Ontario’s probation system by Carolyn Jarvis on Global National was shocking and appalling. If you didn’t see it, let me read you some of the exchanges in the report:

“Offenders think probation and parole in Ontario is a joke?”

“Yeah. They think it’s a joke.”

“How do you think the public would react if they knew what you know about how offenders are supervised in the community?”

“I think they’d be appalled.”

“We are at a crisis, at a breaking point, and we’re failing the public badly on the public safety front.”

How long has the government known about the state of Ontario’s probation system and how long have the Liberals ignored this problem?

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: The Minister for Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Hon. Marie-France Lalonde: I thank the member for his question and, actually, his sudden interest into this, because we know the history behind the member.

Mr. Speaker, if I can say here, part of our efforts to transform our corrections in Ontario—my objective is very simple. I think, on this side of the House, our objective is very simple. It’s definitely to rehabilitate the clients and support their reintegration back into our society. One thing that the member maybe does not know, and I will share: Recidivism in Ontario has been trending downward over the past decade.

First, I also want to say thank you for the fantastic work that our probation and parole officers do every single day for us to keep our communities safe. Of course, we can do more. I have been the minister since January and I have not been satisfied with that—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m going to let you wrap up. If the indication from this morning’s beginning before question period is an indicator, I will jump on this real quick. Let’s just keep it down.

One wrap-up sentence, please.

Hon. Marie-France Lalonde: Mr. Speaker, I have been the minister since January, and I have to acknowledge that I have not been satisfied with the pace, and we’re working on this.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Patrick Brown: Again to the Attorney General: The buck stops with the Attorney General on this file. Now, we have two private members’ bills, we have multiple questions and they’re saying a sudden interest? Multiple private members’ bills and there’s a sudden issue? Give me a break.

Back to this shocking story: One convicted sex offender had completed a conditional sentence in the community with a strict curfew. He says not once did his probation officer go to his house to check on him. He said, “Nobody has ever come. No police, no probation officer. I could have done anything I want”—anything. How does that give us a sense of safety in our communities? Convicted sex offenders are running free in our streets. He added, “I would go back and do things because nobody watched me, nobody hits on my door.”

Dangerous offenders are walking our streets and the Attorney General of our province is responsible. So once again, how long have you known this problem exists in Ontario and when will—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.

Minister?

Hon. Marie-France Lalonde: I’m very happy, actually, to explain maybe how the ministry responsible and our system works in Ontario. Maybe he’s forgotten this since he’s in this House and not at the federal level.

I have to say that one thing I’m going to be telling him is that the parole and probation cases, we know, have become a lot more complex and can require more supervision. Our government, actually, has recognized this by hiring more parole and probation officers. In fact, over the last 10 years, the average caseload has decreased from 79 cases per officer to 58 cases per officer. That gives our officers more time to focus on the rehabilitation and the reintegration of the offenders. This is, I would say, something that’s very dear to me as a new minister because—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Answer.

Hon. Marie-France Lalonde: Can I continue? Okay. Mr. Speaker, I will continue in my supplemental.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?

Mr. Patrick Brown: Again to the Attorney General: The Attorney General is the top legal officer in Ontario. That is a fact. It’s easy to pass the buck to a new minister, but this is the Attorney General’s mess. This is the Attorney General’s responsibility.

One probation officer who was interviewed said that she wants to go out and check on offenders, but she was told, “We don’t do home visits, flat out.” The Liberals deny that charge. But we are talking about violent, serious offenders who aren’t properly monitored in the community. It’s unacceptable.

There’s nothing the government can say that makes this right. It was the Attorney General who ignored this problem for two years as minister and he continues to ignore this problem. The top legal officer, the top person responsible, is the Attorney General.

So my question is: Understanding this is his mess, his responsibility, will he do the right thing and tender his resignation today?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated.

Minister?

Hon. Marie-France Lalonde: I definitely don’t think our Attorney General has to resign. I actually appreciate the effort that he’s putting into our justice system in reforming—things, again, the member would know about when it comes to criminalization and being tough on punishment.

What I’m going to say is that our probation and parole officers have a very, very important role in our community. What they do is, the decisions they make to ensure that the community is safe, but also that they, themselves, are safe is equally as important. They follow the guidelines. They follow the procedures. They ensure that if there’s a risk associated with their safety, their own safety, they ensure that is taken into consideration.

I want to say how proud I am of the work of these individuals who keep our communities safe.

Government accountability

Mr. Patrick Brown: My question is for the government House leader. Since he did not resign and will not take responsibility, let me ask him this. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to the Liberals that some people over the last 14 years have questioned the integrity of this government: the gas plant scandal, eHealth, the Ornge scandal, Liberal pizza parties, Sudbury and, now, the Canada Goose spending spree. I’m sure the Liberals aren’t surprised that the Ontario PC caucus is pushing for an ethics and accountability reform.

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Mr. Speaker, that is why I ask, will the Liberals help clean up Queen’s Park and the government of Ontario?

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I’m very glad to respond to the question that the member opposite has raised. We are very proud of the work we have done in strengthening accountability when it comes to government and the government of Ontario.

Speaker, you may recall when we came into office in 2003, that party, the opposition party, left almost a $6-billion deficit that was hidden, that was hidden from the sight of Ontarians when they actually told everybody, “Oh, no, the books are balanced.” But when we came into office and we—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Finish, please.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Speaker, when we came into office in 2003 and asked the Auditor General at that time to look at the books, what we found was a hidden $6-billion deficit that the Conservative Party, under Mike Harris, left behind.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Member from Simcoe–Grey, come to order.

Supplementary.

Mr. Patrick Brown: Again to the government House leader: I asked a serious question about ethics and accountability and the government is talking about 2003. This is a government that’s faced five OPP investigations, and they’re proud of their record on ethics and accountability? It’s unbelievable. They’re that out to lunch.

Now, there are loopholes out there. While the new rules ban ministers and stop staff from attending fundraisers, there are no rules that state ministers and their staff can’t solicit personal donations from stakeholders. This still isn’t a fair playing field. There is still cash for access in the province of Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, will the Liberals commit today to end this perceived cash for access? Will the government House leader commit that this Liberal government will ensure that there will be no more soliciting donations from their own ministerial stakeholders? Yes or no? It’s a very clear question.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: It is important to remember what happened in 2003 when the opposition, when they were in government, hid a $6-billion deficit. As a result of that, we made sure that we brought in very specific, important accountability measures so that that type of behaviour never takes place. As a result, one of the things we did was to require the Auditor General to look at—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Member from Dufferin–Caledon, second time.

Member from Oxford, come to order.

Carry on.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: As a result of that, Speaker, we changed the law and required the Auditor General to ensure that before any election, the public books are audited by the Auditor General, so that the numbers are provided in clarity, in full light, to all parties. That was a very important step. Not to mention, we brought—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): All right, we’re going to warnings. And just before that: the member from Simcoe–Grey, second time. We’re now in warnings.

Finish, please.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Speaker, as a result, we also brought in regulation on government advertising which the opposition, the Conservatives, voted against.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Mr. Patrick Brown: Again to the government House leader: Once again, I asked a serious question about ethics and accountability, ensuring that ministers do not fundraise off their own stakeholders, and I got an answer that was completely irrelevant. The government should be ashamed of their record on ethics and accountability. Five OPP investigations: It’s incredible; when we talk about criminal investigations, we have to ask, which one?

Mr. Speaker, I will ask again. Right now, there are big loopholes in this cash-for-access reform. Ministers can fundraise off stakeholders, but also news broke last year that ministers had fundraising targets to raise off their stakeholders. So if I can’t get a commitment from the government House leader to stop fundraising off stakeholders, will he work with us to make sure that having these fundraising targets for ministers becomes illegal in the province of Ontario? Yes or no? Please answer the question for the first time today.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Well, Speaker, it just feels like the member opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, is making things up as he’s going along, because I think he’s totally forgotten Bill 2, the extensive work we did in reforming fundraising in the province of Ontario, making it one of the most accountable and stringent rules around fundraising. I think he’s forgotten that we have banned corporate and union donations, that we have required all MPPs and other candidates not attend fundraising events, Speaker. We have limited donation limits significantly, by 90%, and then we have also put a close to third-party and government advertising, and they face new restrictions.

Somehow he’s forgotten. Speaker, do you know why he’s choosing to forget? Because he is trying to distract. He’s trying to distract from a very positive budget that we have put forward that is going to build a strong and healthy Ontario. He’s trying to distract from the fact that he has no policies. That party is an empty piece of paper, an empty slate.

Privatization of public assets

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Acting Premier. Yesterday, we learned that the Premier is selling off yet another batch of shares of Hydro One. Clearly, the Premier and her Liberal government have not learned their lesson, since they’re still refusing to listen to the majority of Ontarians who say no to privatization of our electricity system.

When will the Premier actually start listening to the people that she’s supposed to be serving, Speaker?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Minister of Energy.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: I’m very pleased to rise to say that yesterday’s tranche broadening the ownership of Hydro One brought in an additional $2.8 billion for the province, Mr. Speaker. That $2.8 billion exceeds the $9-billion target that we had for $5 billion to pay down debt and $4 billion to go into infrastructure. Well, guess what, Mr. Speaker? That number is now $9.6 billion, with more money going into infrastructure.

And where is that infrastructure going? Well, let me talk about this. Right across our province, we’re going to have infrastructure built. I can start off and look at one here: the Hamilton LRT and the Hamilton GO bus facility on Wentworth. That’s in the leader of the third party’s own riding. We’re making sure that we’re going to invest billions of dollars right now across the province, building Ontario up.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Nobody buys that nonsense for a minute, Speaker. Some 80% of Ontarians oppose the privatization of Hydro One, and it’s really sad that this is the only government in the history of Ontario that can’t figure out how to build infrastructure without selling off a treasured revenue-generating public asset, when the vast majority of Ontarians don’t want it sold off.

Families, business owners, municipalities and NGOs have all told the Premier loud and clear to stop this wrong-headed sell-off. People need relief from their soaring energy bills, not to hear that the Premier is going to do even more damage to our already broken system.

Why does the Premier insist on moving ahead with this ridiculous sell-off when what the people of Ontario need is for her to finally admit that she is wrong, and abandon this scheme once and for all?

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: What the people of Ontario need is infrastructure investment, Mr. Speaker, and that’s what this party is doing, that’s what this government is doing, investing in infrastructure right across the province. In Kitchener-Waterloo, the ION regional LRT; in Welland, the Niagara Health System is actually getting significant infrastructure investments; and in Oshawa, the Lakeridge Health corporation is getting significant investment. Of course, the list continues to go on and on with investments. That’s what we can do, Mr. Speaker, when we actually make $2.8 billion, for a total of $9.6 billion.

Yes, this was a difficult decision, but doing the right thing for the province takes difficult decisions. We’re very happy to make sure that we’re investing in infrastructure from Kenora to Ottawa to Sudbury to Toronto to Windsor and everywhere else in between, unlike that party, which has no plan to do anything when it comes to this file.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The people of Ontario know numbers better than the people who are sitting across the aisle here. That $9 billion doesn’t come close to the $190 billion that they claim they’re going to be spending on infrastructure. The bottom line is that the figures don’t match, Speaker. They didn’t need to sell off Hydro One to build infrastructure in this province, and they darn well know it.

Do you know what, Speaker? Ontarians did not vote for this. The Premier has no mandate to sell off our public hydro utility, and Ontarians have been very, very clear that they don’t want this sell-off to continue. Why does this Premier think that her opinion matters more than the opinion of millions and millions of Ontarians?

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Hon. Glenn Thibeault: The billions and billions of dollars that we’re investing in infrastructure and paying down debt are actually going to have a benefit for this province for decades to come, unlike that party over there, which once again has no understanding of how the system works, or even the energy system.

A firm-commitment offering means that we get that money from the investors right away and we’re able to take that money and invest that in LRT in Hamilton. I know she doesn’t like the LRT investment in Hamilton, which makes you scratch your head, Mr. Speaker. What kind of investment in infrastructure do they like? Obviously, none, because all they do is stand up and complain. They have no plan on any of this.

As I said, I recognize that this was a tough decision. I recognize it was the right decision. And when you make the right decision, you invest that in the people of Ontario. That’s what we’re doing. We’re building Ontario up.

Hydro rates

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is for the Acting Premier. Electricity isn’t a luxury, and it should not be priced like a luxury. By giving up the province’s majority stake in Hydro One, the Premier is guaranteeing that Ontario families will continue to see their hydro bills rise.

Why does the Premier want to drive up hydro bills for—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock.

The Minister of Economic Development and Growth is warned.

Start the clock. Please finish.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Why does the Premier want to drive up hydro bills for families, businesses and municipalities?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Minister of Energy.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: I’m very pleased to rise and talk about Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan today: on average, a 25% reduction for families, small businesses and farms. And guess what, Mr. Speaker? Those families that live in the Hydro One area are actually going to see a 40% to 50% reduction, thanks to our government’s plan.

Bringing forward our fair hydro plan is going to have significant reductions for families and businesses right across the province—unlike that party, which is telling unnecessarily wrong facts. When they talk about Hydro One and the broadening of ownership, everybody knows—from the media to folks on the street—that the Ontario Energy Board sets rates, not Hydro One. If they go to their website, they can actually learn about how the Ontario Energy Board sets rates for the province.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve brought forward a very comprehensive plan that will reduce—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Yes, you’d better be.

Supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: How arrogant and out of touch do you have to be to completely ignore 80% of the people of this province, 80% of your constituents?

Can the Acting Premier explain to this House why, with no mandate at all and just a year away from being thrown out of office, the Premier insists on giving up majority control of our most valuable public asset?

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: Once again, understanding the system would be important for that party over there. When it comes to the electricity system, the OEB sets rates. I know they have a hard time understanding that; I know it’s very difficult for them. Hydro One does not set rates.

We have brought forward a plan that is going to reduce rates by 25%, on average—

Laughter.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: And I know they can laugh about it, Mr. Speaker, but what we’ve made sure of is that families will see this reduction; that we can see families in remote and northern parts of our province seeing their rates reduced by 40% and 50%.

I know that they’re laughing on that side because one party has no plan for electricity, has no plan for the province, and on that side they have a plan that is pie in the sky and has no action of taking one cent off of bills.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: All this government is doing is kicking their mess down to the next generation to pay for. That’s all they’re doing.

But you know what? It’s the same old story on repeat with this Premier. She puts the interest of her party and her powerful Liberal friends and insiders ahead of the interests of the people of this province, every single time. Why won’t this Premier stop looking out for the people at the top, stop her wrong-headed sell-off of Hydro One and finally show the people of Ontario the respect that they deserve?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.

Minister.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: Talking about dealing with messes, it was this government and this party that had to deal with the mess that was left by that party and that party. When they were actually in power decades ago, they left the system in a mess. We had to rebuild it. We spent $50 billion—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek is warned.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Oh, you said nothing, I know. Sorry. I must be mistaken.

Finish, please.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: And that’s why, when we’re bringing forward $2.8 billion from yesterday’s broadening of the ownership of Hydro One, we’re making sure that that $9.6 billion, which exceeded our targets—we’re going to make sure that we spend this money on paying down debt and investing in infrastructure in every part of this province. That’s what the people of Ontario asked for, and that’s what they’re getting.

Lobbyists

Mr. Steve Clark: My question is for the government House leader. There’s a one-year cooling-off period for ministerial staffers who leave government, which doesn’t go far enough. Staffers should not be permitted to lobby for any companies or organizations they had direct dealings with while in government. That’s regardless of whichever ministry the lobbying is directed at.

We saw what happened when the Minister of the Environment’s former chief of staff went motoring over to Tesla. In the same month, the government announced that lucrative subsidies for Tesla buyers were back. That certainly didn’t look right.

Mr. Speaker, will the government House leader help us close that loophole, or does he still want the Liberal revolving door to continue?

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: We have very strict rules when it comes to the requirements for lobbyists. As the Speaker will know, under the lobby registration, we have, in fact, enhanced those rules to ensure that any staff who works here, when they go into the private sector, the restriction that’s placed upon them to lobby the same ministry—those rules remain. If there is any opportunity for us to ensure that there are stricter rules in place, we always look at them. But the fact of the matter is that we have done a tremendous amount of work in making sure that our government is transparent and our government is accountable.

In fact, what we have seen is that, in most of those times, the opposition has opposed those initiatives. They have not supported those initiatives. We will continue to make sure that our focus remains on serving the people of Ontario. We’re not interested in the partisan games that they continue to play.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Steve Clark: Back to the government House leader: The saddest thing about the Liberal lobbyist revolving door is a lack of accountability. Integrity Commissioner investigations involving ministerial staff are publicly unavailable. These investigations, which review cases such as conflicts of interest, should be transparent and made public.

It’s unacceptable that the commissioner’s report currently can be stuffed away on a minister’s desk. Ministers shouldn’t decide if the information is made public. It should be a legislative requirement. Will the government House leader commit to ending this secrecy by making the results of those investigations public? Yes or no?

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I think our Integrity Commissioner does a very good and thorough job when it comes to investigating matters. I have the opportunity to sit on the Board of Internal Economy. I have had the chance to meet with the Integrity Commissioner, as other members from all parties on that board have as well. He continues to talk about how he is investing more resources in ensuring that lobbyist registration and all of the accountability associated with the legislation is fully met.

But clearly, this line of questioning is nothing but a distraction tactic from the opposition, because they don’t want to talk about a very good budget that is going to build a stronger and healthier Ontario. They don’t want to talk about—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Leeds–Grenville is warned.

Carry on.

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Hon. Yasir Naqvi: The Conservatives do not want to talk about how we are making medicine free for children under 25 years old, how we are lowering electricity bills by 25%, how we have a fair housing plan that is going to make housing more affordable—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

New question.

Privatization of public assets

Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Acting Premier. Last year, the Premier admitted that her hydro policies were a mistake, but she refused to do anything to correct those mistakes. In fact, she’s now doubling down on her biggest mistake: She’s ignoring the people of Ontario and selling off a final piece of Hydro One, Ontario’s oldest and most important public asset.

Why does the Premier care more about serving the interests of her friends on Bay Street and not the interests of the people of Ontario?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please.

Deputy Premier.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the Minister of Energy.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: Let’s go back to November when the Premier did stand up and apologize for decades of mistakes made by all governments that kicked the electricity file to the curb.

We had to act. We had to rebuild the system. It cost us $50 billion to do that. But you know what we have now? A system that is clean, a system that is reliable and a system that doesn’t rely on coal—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Finish, please.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: We rebuilt that system and we recognize that it came with a cost. So what we did is we brought forward the fair hydro plan which actually reduces everyone’s rates in this province by up to 25%, on average. That is something that is a benefit for everyone.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: After this final sale, the people of Ontario will no longer have majority ownership of Hydro One. The Premier has sold off the ability of the people of this province to control their hydro system. From now on, Hydro One will focus on private profit, not on the public interest.

Speaker, through you to the Deputy Premier, how does it feel to be part of a government that has finally killed off Sir Adam Beck’s legacy of public power in Ontario?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please.

Minister.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: Adam Beck’s legacy is alive and well with OPG. We’re continuing to make sure that the Beck generating station produces significant power for this province.

Again, it shows that this party has no idea—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We’re getting there.

Finish, please.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: They have no idea how the system works.

And you know what? We’re making sure that the investments that we’re getting from the broadening of ownership of Hydro One will be going into infrastructure investments right across the province now.

You know what is also happening now? A 17% reduction on electricity bills right across the province thanks to our Ontario fair hydro plan. We’ve got more coming, and that will help those families, businesses and farms right across our great province.

Infrastructure program funding

Ms. Ann Hoggarth: My question is for the Minister of Infrastructure. On this side of the House, we know that infrastructure is about improving the lives of everyday Ontarians by investing in their future.

That is why I’m proud that our government is making the largest investment in critical public infrastructure in this province’s history. For the first time in 10 years, our province’s budget is balanced, meaning more money is available to build schools, hospitals, transit and child care spaces.

I know that the long-term infrastructure plan, which will help manage our historic investment, is coming later this year, but while we double down on our commitment to build Ontario up, the Leader of the Opposition continues to make downright irresponsible statements about how he would manage our infrastructure.

My question for the minister: Can he please explain the importance of making smart long-term investments in infrastructure?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: I thank the member for the question. We’ve demonstrated that our government is a sound infrastructure manager, and a balanced budget gives us even more opportunity to invest in Ontario. We are doing just that, by investing $190 billion over 13 years. We have shovels in the ground building $14 billion worth of major projects and are procuring an additional $12 billion worth.

But this is all lost on the Leader of the Opposition, who has stated repeatedly that he does not believe governments should be planning projects beyond their mandate. His ill-informed policy means no proper asset management and no planning for the needs of our kids and our grandkids. This is not what any government should want for its people, and it’s not what Ontarians deserve.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Ann Hoggarth: My thanks to the minister for his response. It is baffling to me how anyone putting themselves forward to shape the future of our province could peddle an approach to infrastructure that ignores best practice. It’s incredibly short-sighted and would be a disservice to future generations that need government to make smart long-term decisions, not ones that are politically expedient.

Unlike the parties opposite, our government knows the value of strategic planning. Unlike the Leader of the Opposition, we have a plan to build those $12 million worth of projects in the pipeline—critical health care and transportation projects he may very well ignore if he is elected.

The facts clearly demonstrate our investments are working, sustaining jobs and creating real growth in the economy. My question to the minister is, could he please share the positive impacts a responsible long-term plan such as ours has on our province?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m sure the minister is going to talk about government policy.

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: Thank you, Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition incorrectly criticizes us for not getting shovels in the ground, but the facts speak for themselves. We have undertaken 100 major hospital projects and expanded our colleges and universities. Our investments support over 100,000 jobs per year. Every dollar invested improves quality of life and creates up to $6 in GDP.

When the Leader of the Opposition states that we shouldn’t be investing in projects outside of our mandate, he is saying that we shouldn’t be planning for hospitals in Fergus, Brockville and Toronto. When he makes statements like that, he demonstrates his lack of understanding and inability to manage the province’s infrastructure. Frankly, Speaker, if he doesn’t understand that, then he shouldn’t be in the running to manage a $190-billion investment fund for Ontario’s future.

Hydro rates

Mr. Todd Smith: My question is for the Minister of Energy this morning. Liberal after Liberal has said in this House that rates wouldn’t go up after Hydro One was sold. But the minister knows that Hydro One has a major rate increase planned for its distribution companies. So what did he do? The minister decided to sell the biggest stake in the company yet last night.

Was the job of managing Hydro One too difficult for the minister? Or was he just trying to escape blame for all the new rate increases that are on the way?

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: What we are doing on this side of the House is making sure that we invest $2.8 billion in infrastructure and pay off debt. That’s what we’re doing on this side of the House and that’s what governments do, unlike on that side of the House where they actually—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Niagara West–Glanbrook is warned.

Finish.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: On that side of the House, Mr. Speaker, they talk about plans. I know we’re—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Thornhill is warned, right after I warned somebody.

Carry on.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: They talk about plans, and that’s all they do. They don’t write one. They don’t promote them. But what they did do in 2012 was write a white paper. You know what they said in that white paper, Mr. Speaker? Their white paper on energy policy specifically suggests opening Hydro One to investment.

The goal is to create more efficient companies that are not entirely reliant on public money. The wind is changing today. I wonder where they’re going to be later on.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Todd Smith: Mr. Speaker, I can see the Premier hasn’t taught her parrot any new lines today.

Back to the minister—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member will withdraw, and I’m not happy with that.

Mr. Todd Smith: I’ll withdraw that.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Now you may finish.

Mr. Todd Smith: What we have here is massive compensation increases at Hydro One, we have brand new rate hikes that are on the way and we have big Bay Street bonanzas that went ahead last night. The minister is once again more interested in making money for the people sending the hydro bills than he is in protecting the people who are receiving the hydro bills. What he’s done with his plan is to add an extra $25 billion in interest onto the ratepayer base for electricity customers in Ontario.

Will the minister do the right thing for once and cancel the final sale of Hydro One shares?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.

Minister?

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Hon. Glenn Thibeault: Let’s finish what that white paper said. The white paper even goes as far to recognize that consumer prices would continue to be regulated by—guess who? The Ontario Energy Board. So obviously they know it, or they try to forget it, like their plan.

But we’re going to continue to find ways to reduce rates. That 25% is coming; we have 17% now. They have no plan. They have no idea what to do with electricity, no idea what to do with the province. And when asked by the media where his plan was, he laughed. He thought it was funny. The only thing that’s a joke in this province is that party.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. I think, really, what’s important here is that all of you listen to yourselves—all of you. This is very difficult to do as a solo act. Look inside.

You’re finished.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: I withdraw, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.

Affordable housing

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Acting Premier. Yesterday I toured a Toronto Community Housing building on Bleecker Street. What I saw was nothing short of heartbreaking: shattered windows, floors completely torn up, bathrooms and kitchens in disrepair, mould and damage from one end of the apartment to the other. Toronto Community Housing said that it will take until January for this particular apartment to be made livable again, yet in this year’s budget the Liberals offered a grand total of zero dollars for urgent repairs to units like this one. Does the Premier not care about families struggling to find a place to live?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Minister of Housing.

Hon. Chris Ballard: Ontarians expect their government to work hard for them to build vibrant, safe and affordable neighbourhoods where they can raise their families and put down their roots. That’s why this government has increased funding year over year, demonstrating our commitment to building and preserving a fair society where everyone benefits.

Over the next three years Ontario will invest $600 million in affordable and sustainable housing in the city of Toronto. This includes $340 million alone for homelessness prevention, $130 million to expand affordable housing and today we announced $100 million in land. We get it. We’re investing in housing in Toronto.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: What the minister has just acknowledged is that this government has no intention whatsoever of helping municipalities to deal with the repair backlogs that are crippling them and preventing them from allowing people to live in those desperately needed units. In Toronto there are 181,000 families on the affordable housing wait-list. In my hometown of Hamilton, there are 6,000 families waiting. In Durham region, it’s 5,400 families waiting.

Even with these staggering wait-lists, cities and municipalities are forced to shutter affordable housing units because they have no money to make the repairs needed for them to be livable again. Can the Acting Premier explain how the Liberal government has allowed the repair backlog to get so bad, and why they have abandoned families who are desperate for a safe and affordable roof over their heads?

Hon. Chris Ballard: Let me just continue on to demonstrate how seriously this province takes its investment in city housing. The investments that I outlined in my initial statement build on the $1.4 billion that Ontario has already invested toward housing and homelessness programs in the city of Toronto. This year, Ontario has also contributed $43 million to the city of Toronto for those repairs and retrofits that I’m hearing so much about. It’s as if the leader of the third party doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to get the fact that this province is investing billions of dollars in housing across Ontario and billions in the city of Toronto.

Nurses

Ms. Daiene Vernile: My question is for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. We know that nurses play a very valuable role in Ontario’s health care system. In my riding of Kitchener Centre we see this every day, where the dedicated nursing staff working at Grand River Hospital, St. Mary’s General Hospital, long-term-care facilities and community health centres dedicate their lives to helping others. Every day nurses support patients right across the province by providing high-quality care in hospitals, long-term-care homes, hospices, home and community care. Their knowledge, work ethic and dedication to this profession are exemplified every day through the high-quality, compassionate care that they provide.

This week is Nursing Week in Ontario and this week we celebrate all of the hard-working nurses across the province of Ontario. Could the minister please join me in acknowledging all of the nurses right across Ontario during Nursing Week?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Thank you to the member from Kitchener Centre for this important question.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to thank the more than 140,000 nurses who work day in and day out, to the best of their abilities, providing the highest quality of care. I thanked them yesterday, but since it is Nursing Week, I want to thank them again today. In fact, we can never thank our nurses enough for the work that they do. Thank you to the member opposite.

The member is absolutely right that nurses across this province work so hard every single day to provide high-quality care to patients across this province. Today I am so proud to stand and thank all nurses in Ontario for the critically important work that they do. Together with nurses and the associations that represent them, we have made great progress.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Daiene Vernile: I’d like to thank the minister for his response and for his dedication to working with nurses across the province. In fact, on this side of the House, I believe we have two nurses among our ranks and I’d like to thank them for the work they do.

Applause.

Ms. Daiene Vernile: Yes.

As part of Nursing Week, I will be taking part in Take Your MPP to Work day. Since 2001, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario has reached out to MPPs across the province to give us an up-close and personal view of the skills required to take care of patients in a variety of work environments. For the past 17 years, MPPs have visited registered nurses in diverse settings such as hospitals, family health teams, community health centres and post-secondary institutions. I look forward to working with the hard-working staff at a Schlegel Villages long-term-care facility at the end of the month.

Could the minister please speak to the investments our government is making to support Ontario nurses?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Since this government took office in 2003, there are almost 30,000 more nurses employed in this province. In fact, the number of nurses employed has increased every single year for 12 years in a row. In the 2017 budget, we’re proposing an additional $145 million over the next three years to help with the recruitment and retention of nurses. That’s in addition to another $15 million to expand interprofessional care teams across Ontario.

I’m so pleased with this investment, as are our nursing organizations. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario speaks to the $15 million for interprofessional teams, saying that it’s welcome news, as is the pledge to increase by $145 million compensation for primary care professionals, including nurse practitioners and RNs.

Labour unions

Mr. Patrick Brown: My question is for the Minister of Labour. Ontario workers have the right to decide which union they belong to. Recently, members of ATU Local 113 tried to exercise that right. What happened when they did? They had a US-based foreign union put their Canadian union into trusteeship and seize their Canadian assets in order to quell dissent. Why isn’t this government acting to prevent foreign takeovers of Ontario unions?

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Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Needless to say, I’m surprised by the question. I will clearly admit that, Speaker. I think there must be pigs flying out there right now as well.

But certainly standing up for the people of Ontario—the question, I know, is a good question, and I understand the circumstances. The labour relations regime in the province of Ontario is second to none. We have organized labour that works with government, we have business that works with government, and these rules have come about because of the efforts of organized labour and people working out their issues in the workplace together.

We’re taking a look at the labour relations regime in the province of Ontario under the Changing Workplaces Review. I’m expecting to get some excellent advice and to be able to share that advice—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’ve let it go enough. The member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke is warned.

A wrap-up sentence, please.

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you, Speaker. The labour relations regime in the province of Ontario is healthy, and I expect that, as a result of the Changing Workplaces Review, it’s going to get even—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary.

Mr. Patrick Brown: Back to the Minister of Labour: My question was about foreign-backed takeovers. I did not get an answer, and hopefully this time we will.

Local 113 was locked out of their office by the foreign-backed ATU. Their leadership put it this way: “This is an outright attack. It’s an invasion on our autonomy as Canadians and Canadian workers.” Where has this government stood while 11,000 Local 113 members are in turmoil? They’ve been absent, they’ve been silent and they have removed themselves from this debate.

Mr. Speaker, when will this government stick up for our Ontario and Canadian union members against foreign-backed attack? Will they help? Will they stand up? Yes or no?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: This government has an excellent relationship with organized labour in the province of Ontario. It’s a two-way street. When they bring information forward, when they bring ideas forward, they are listened to.

This is coming from a party that on the order docket in this House has a private member’s bill that wants to ban card-based certification in the province of Ontario. They stand up here and try to lecture us on labour relations? The member should be ashamed of himself.

Services for the developmentally disabled

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: My question is to the Acting Premier. Today, Community Living Ontario is here, lobbying on behalf of thousands of Ontario families and their support workers who have needed help desperately from this government for years. They are still waiting.

Abdullah Yar Khan, for instance: Abdullah is 16, from my community of Windsor. Abdullah has severe autism and is unable to communicate his needs. He has been excluded from school because of a lack of supports in the education system. His parents, with their own health issues, struggle with his care. They don’t receive support or respite during school hours, even though Abdullah isn’t allowed to attend school.

What funding, direct programming or direct support does the Wynne government have in place for Abdullah and his parents?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the Minister of Children and Youth Services.

Hon. Michael Coteau: Thank you for the question. I want to talk a little bit about the new Ontario autism program that we’ll be bringing forward quite shortly, a year before it was initially planned. We’re going to go into full implementation in 2018.

This plan will create 16,000 new spots. It will create the amount of spaces for ABA during that transition, reduce wait times to six months or less and increase access to early diagnosis. Also, it will provide children and young people, regardless of age, with more flexible services based on their unique needs.

We’re investing over half a billion dollars over the next five years for services to deliver programs that I think parents and young people here in the province can be proud of.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Back to the Acting Premier: According to Community Living Ontario, the money announced in this budget will only work towards stabilizing workforce funding—badly neglected and in need of fixing, but actually promised back in 2014.

Millions of dollars in base funding increases are needed. What’s needed is help for Abdullah and his parents.

It’s not just Abdullah, Speaker. Thousands of desperate parents of aging children, fast becoming adults with developmental disabilities, need supportive housing and programs. What does the Wynne government have to stay to Abdullah’s mom, Shabana, and Mary Beth Rocheleau and Michelle Helou and Shirley Knight and the thousands of other parents in this province who are not receiving the services that they need for their children? What are you doing for other Ontario families in this province?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.

Minister?

Hon. Michael Coteau: To the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. Helena Jaczek: I’m so glad to have this opportunity to thank all the members of the Community Living agencies who are here with us today, because we know that they are a very important partner with our government in terms of delivering services—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Keep it up. The member from Hamilton Mountain is warned.

Finish, please.

Hon. Helena Jaczek: They are our very valuable partners as we transform the system that we have currently in Ontario to serve those with developmental disabilities.

We had an unprecedented $810-million increase to the budget over the last three years. This is why I’m so pleased, and I’m sure the member opposite will be supporting our proposed budget this year, wherein we will be providing $677 million for—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: My question is for the Honourable Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour. Minister, as you well know, post-traumatic stress disorder—known, of course, to physicians as PTSD—is a significant risk to the health and well-being of people working in certain occupations who regularly face or are affected by traumatic situations. I understand we have a number of our first responders and our security forces here. I would like to welcome them in advance.

Mental health in the workplace is an issue that demands the attention of everyone: government, the stewards of our Legislature, employers, employees, unions, and so on. This is an especially important issue for our first responders, who, as I said, have to deal with these daily stresses. Can the minister please describe what we have done to offer PTSD support for our first responders?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you to the member for that very, very important question. It was about a year ago—a little over a year ago—that this House, to its credit, unanimously passed Bill 163. It’s a testament, I think, to the ability of this House to work together in order to honour the work that’s done by some of the people who have joined us in the House today.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an issue that hasn’t been talked about in the past in the way it should have been, and hasn’t been treated in the way that it should have been in the past. Some of the first responders today from the OPPA, the Ontario Provincial Police Association, were so instrumental in ensuring that the government, the opposition party and the third party listened to the concerns that they had about their membership, what their membership was going through and the remedies that were needed. I want to thank them for their input. It certainly has worked. We’ve got a bill that’s working now.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: Thank you, Minister. As a doctor, I can outline, very briefly, that unfortunately, individuals who do suffer from PTSD, whether it’s chronic anxiety or palpitations or high blood pressure or sleepless nights—these are things that truly affect many, many Ontarians. Therefore, they deserve the respect and the management from the stewards here at our Legislature.

We know that PTSD is a serious and debilitating injury, a chronic condition that Ontario’s dedicated first responders are unfortunately more than twice as likely to suffer from than the general population. They put themselves in harm’s way each and every day to ensure our collective safety.

Can the minister please describe some of the supports and benefits these workers will receive according to this new legislation?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thanks very much to the member for the supplementary. I think, with the people we have in the House today from the Ontario Provincial Police Association—as I said, they were very, very instrumental. These are people who put themselves in harm’s way, so that our communities remain safe. These are people who run towards danger when the rest of us are running the other way.

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Perhaps something that wasn’t talked about enough during the passage of the bill is that we said every employer in the province of Ontario has to prepare a PTSD prevention plan and has to submit it to me as the Minister of Labour. Those plans started arriving about two weeks ago. It’s my intent, once I have all of the plans, to publish these plans, so that every first responder is able to avail themselves of the best practices that are being used by the entire first responder community in this province.

Public transit

Mrs. Gila Martow: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. This morning, a city of Toronto report revealed—and the mayor spoke out on—the state of transit in Toronto. The report showed that the province must prioritize the downtown relief line. The relief line is needed to support the Yonge subway extension to Richmond Hill. Both are vital projects, but Mayor Tory made it clear that if the province doesn’t step up and match funding for the downtown relief line, the Yonge subway expansion will be in jeopardy.

Does the minister ever intend on funding the Yonge subway extension and the downtown relief line, or does he plan to sit idly by and watch both projects collapse?

Hon. Steven Del Duca: I thank the member from Thornhill for her question this morning. I’m aware of the fact that the city of Toronto will be coming forward with a staff report regarding a couple of very important transit projects. I would encourage members on all sides of the House, including the member who’s asking the question this morning, to take a close read of the staff reports that are coming out of the city.

Speaker, I have said this many times, both in this chamber and outside, that there has been no provincial government in history that has invested more in public transit in the city of Toronto, around the greater Toronto and Hamilton area and, frankly, in communities across the province, like Waterloo, Ottawa and so many others.

This budget that the Minister of Finance introduced for 2017 included, for example, an additional $30 billion to fund infrastructure province-wide. Of course, every member will know that not that many weeks ago, the Premier announced that, over the next number of years, this government will be showing leadership on transit by doubling the provincial gas tax program, helping 99 communities across Ontario—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

Supplementary.

Mrs. Gila Martow: Back to the minister: The last time I checked, every open and running subway station in the province of Ontario was opened by a PC government.

These are the minister’s constituents in the 905. The Liberals could be partnering with the city of Toronto, yet there is a lack of support and a lack of commitment for the 416 and the 905. Because the Liberals are picking a fight with Mayor Tory—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Durham is warned.

Finish, please.

Mrs. Gila Martow: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will say to people at home that I must be doing something right, because they’re heckling.

Because the Liberals are picking a fight with Mayor Tory, the Liberals are putting other transit projects at risk, projects that impact the 905 and my constituents in York region. Is this minister committed to both projects, or is he just trying to add the Yonge subway extension to the long list of Liberal transit projects that won’t get built for decades?

Hon. Steven Del Duca: Only because the member in her preamble to the supplementary question decided to try and give us a bit of a history lesson: Everybody in this province knows that the last time that the Conservatives ruled in the province of Ontario, they killed and filled the Eglinton subway.

At the end of the day, whether we’re talking about questions relating to standing up for workers’ rights, or we’re talking about questions relating to public transit in the province or the city of Toronto, really and truly, the Conservative Party here in Ontario should not be attempting to give our party lessons on any of these issues.

I will also say again—I’ve said this before—that this is a government that’s investing more in public transit than any government in history, both in Toronto and—this morning, I was in that member’s riding at the Rutherford GO station to announce that we are significantly enhancing and upgrading it, including adding 1,200 new spaces to a GO station in the riding of Thornhill. She can thank me later.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please.

Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We have with us today, in the Speaker’s gallery, some very special guests. They are here on the occasion of Europe Day, to celebrate peace and unity in Europe. This date also commemorates—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m getting heckled even making an introduction.

This date also commemorates the historical Shuman declaration, which set out a plan for political co-operation in Europe and is seen as the beginning of what is now the European Union.

Please join me in welcoming the consuls general of Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Welcome to all of our consuls general.

The Minister of Research, Innovation and Science on a point of order.

Hon. Reza Moridi: Point of order, Mr. Speaker: It’s a distinct pleasure for me to welcome Professor Mohammad Khalid Nadvi, vice-chancellor of Shaikh-ul Hadeeth Nadwa College in Lucknow, India; accompanied by Mr. Mateen Muhammad, Mr. Muhammad Affan Amin, Mr. Shahzad Muhammad Amin, and Imam Dr. Saeed Faizi, president of Al-Nadwa Educational Islamic Centre in my riding of Richmond Hill.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): On a point of order, the member for Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock.

Ms. Laurie Scott: I’d like to introduce, from Community Living in Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, Kirsten Dodson, Richard Semple and Randy Netherton.

Welcome to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for Elgin–Middlesex–London on a point of order.

Mr. Jeff Yurek: I just noticed, in the gallery, an employee of mine in my constituency, who also worked for former Speaker Steve Peters. Frank Skonieczny is here with us today.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Welcome.

Deferred Votes

Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017 / Loi de 2017 modifiant des lois en ce qui concerne l’aide médicale à mourir

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

Bill 84, An Act to amend various Acts with respect to medical assistance in dying / Projet de loi 84, Loi modifiant diverses lois en ce qui concerne l’aide médicale à mourir.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We have a deferred vote on the motion for closure on the motion for third reading of Bill 84.

Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1147 to 1152.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): All members, please take your seats.

On April 24, 2017, Mr. Fraser moved third reading of Bill 84, An Act to amend various Acts with respect to medical assistance in dying.

Mr. Flynn has moved that the question be now put.

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

Ayes

  • Anderson, Granville
  • Baker, Yvan
  • Ballard, Chris
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Del Duca, Steven
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Des Rosiers, Nathalie
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dong, Han
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Hoggarth, Ann
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Kiwala, Sophie
  • Lalonde, Marie-France
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Malhi, Harinder
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Martins, Cristina
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGarry, Kathryn
  • McMahon, Eleanor
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • Milczyn, Peter Z.
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naidoo-Harris, Indira
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Potts, Arthur
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Thibeault, Glenn
  • Vernile, Daiene
  • Wong, Soo
  • Zimmer, David

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Brown, Patrick
  • Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Forster, Cindy
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gretzky, Lisa
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norm
  • Munro, Julia
  • Natyshak, Taras
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • Oosterhoff, Sam
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Vanthof, John
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 48; the nays are 39.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I declare the motion carried.

Mr. Fraser has moved third reading of Bill 84, An Act to amend various Acts with respect to medical assistance in dying. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour, say “aye.”

All those opposed, please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1155 to 1156.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): All those in favour, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

  • Anderson, Granville
  • Baker, Yvan
  • Ballard, Chris
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Del Duca, Steven
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Des Rosiers, Nathalie
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dong, Han
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Forster, Cindy
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gretzky, Lisa
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Hoggarth, Ann
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Kiwala, Sophie
  • Lalonde, Marie-France
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Malhi, Harinder
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Martins, Cristina
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGarry, Kathryn
  • McMahon, Eleanor
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • Milczyn, Peter Z.
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naidoo-Harris, Indira
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Natyshak, Taras
  • Potts, Arthur
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Thibeault, Glenn
  • Vanthof, John
  • Vernile, Daiene
  • Wong, Soo
  • Zimmer, David

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Brown, Patrick
  • Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norm
  • Munro, Julia
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • Oosterhoff, Sam
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 61; the nays are 26.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): 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.

Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act, 2017 / Loi de 2017 sur la modernisation des secteurs des ressources en agrégats et des mines

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

Bill 39, An Act to amend the Aggregate Resources Act and the Mining Act / Projet de loi 39, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les ressources en agrégats et la Loi sur les mines.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We have a deferred vote on the motion for closure on the motion for third reading of Bill 39. Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1159 to 1200.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): On April 11, 2017, Mrs. McGarry moved third reading of Bill 39, An Act to amend the Aggregate Resources Act and the Mining Act.

Mr. Flynn has moved that the question be now put.

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

Ayes

  • Anderson, Granville
  • Baker, Yvan
  • Ballard, Chris
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Del Duca, Steven
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Des Rosiers, Nathalie
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dong, Han
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Hoggarth, Ann
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Kiwala, Sophie
  • Lalonde, Marie-France
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Malhi, Harinder
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Martins, Cristina
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGarry, Kathryn
  • McMahon, Eleanor
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • Milczyn, Peter Z.
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naidoo-Harris, Indira
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Potts, Arthur
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Thibeault, Glenn
  • Vernile, Daiene
  • Wong, Soo
  • Zimmer, David

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Brown, Patrick
  • Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Forster, Cindy
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gretzky, Lisa
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norm
  • Munro, Julia
  • Natyshak, Taras
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • Oosterhoff, Sam
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Vanthof, John
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 49; the nays are 39.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I declare the motion carried.

Mrs. McGarry has moved third reading of Bill 39, An Act to amend the Aggregate Resources Act and the Mining Act. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour, please say “aye.”

All those opposed to the motion, please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1203 to 1204.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): All those in favour, please rise one at a time and be recorded by the Clerk.

Ayes

  • Anderson, Granville
  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Baker, Yvan
  • Ballard, Chris
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Brown, Patrick
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Del Duca, Steven
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Des Rosiers, Nathalie
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dong, Han
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Hoggarth, Ann
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Kiwala, Sophie
  • Lalonde, Marie-France
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Malhi, Harinder
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Martins, Cristina
  • Martow, Gila
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McGarry, Kathryn
  • McMahon, Eleanor
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Milczyn, Peter Z.
  • Miller, Norm
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Munro, Julia
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naidoo-Harris, Indira
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • Oosterhoff, Sam
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Potts, Arthur
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Thibeault, Glenn
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Vernile, Daiene
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Wong, Soo
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff
  • Zimmer, David

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Forster, Cindy
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gretzky, Lisa
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Natyshak, Taras
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 75; the nays are 13.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): 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.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): There are no further deferred votes. This House stands recessed until 3 p.m. this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1206 to 1500.

Introduction of Visitors

Mr. Rick Nicholls: They’re not with us today right now; they were with us earlier. I’d like to introduce members from Community Living Chatham-Kent who were here earlier this day. They include Brian Kelly, Todd Kane, Lenny Moore, Shawn Fletcher, Virginia Hickmot, Kevin Sinclair, Randy Renaud, Jackie Choudhry, Jim Carr, Wayne Easterbrook, David Bromley and Todd Mardling. We were pleased to have them from Community Living Chatham-Kent at Queen’s Park earlier today.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’m pleased to welcome today Jordan McGrail, Sue Fairweather and Connie Collins from the We Own It! campaign with OPSEU. They’re here to fight for public services.

Mr. Joe Dickson: I’d like to welcome to Queen’s Park today a number of individuals from the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario, commonly known as MEAO. Please welcome the vice-president—just stand as I call you—of MEAO, Denise Magi, and board members Adrianna Tetley, Keith Devney, John Doherty, Wafaa Arbaji and Irene Turrin.

Please join them this afternoon in rooms 228 and 230 for their reception from 4:30 to 6:30. Also, please continue to wear your MEAO awareness ribbons you received this morning. I look forward to being with you this afternoon.

Ms. Ann Hoggarth: We have several guests from Barrie visiting today with Simcoe Community Services: Jean Hart, Iris Wingate, Don Green, Bob Ames, Taylor Abbaspour, Shannon Windsor and Lindsay Balfe. They’re here for Community Living day. Welcome.

Mme France Gélinas: I just want to say hello to my good friend Adrianna Tetley, executive director of the Ontario Association of Health Centres. Welcome to Queen’s Park, Adrianna.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Welcome.

Members’ Statements

Royal visit

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I will be very pleased to welcome Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and her husband, Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven, to Goderich on May 14. Princess Margriet has a unique relationship with Canada, having been born in Ottawa after her family was forced to leave the Netherlands at the beginning of World War II. The princess’s visit has been made possible through the tremendous efforts of the Dutch-Canadians Remember As One organizing committee, chaired by Sid Bruinsma and Jim Rutledge. They’ve been passionate advocates for this endeavour, and I’m glad that their efforts have been successful. Their organization fundraises and hosts events such as parades and concerts to commemorate the special bond between the Netherlands and Canada. They are also focused on reconnecting with the younger generation to deepen this bond.

The princess and her husband will be attending a celebration of friendship between Canada and the Netherlands and will be unveiling a plaque commemorating the sacrifices of Canadians in the liberation of the Netherlands campaign. After World War II, many Dutch immigrants came to Canada and settled in Ontario.

As many as 7,600 Canadians died liberating the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945. This includes 20 Huron county servicemen. The princess and her husband will be meeting with veterans as well as the families of the “Huron County 20.” They will be signing a scroll of remembrance which includes the names of each of the “Huron County 20.” In addition, a website will be created telling the stories of these veterans, their families and the Dutch immigrants who settled in Canada.

It will be very much an honour to extend a warm Huron county welcome to Princess Margriet and her husband on the 14th. I’m so pleased we can continue this history of friendship between Canada and the Netherlands.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Mme France Gélinas: Today, members of the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario are here because May 12 is the official awareness date for myalgic encephalomyelitis, fibromyalgia and environmental sensitivities, which are three chronic, complex, environmentally linked illnesses.

In the NDP, we have a strong commitment to keeping people healthy, supporting health promotion and disease prevention, and ensuring a sustainable health care system.

In late 2013, MEAO, the association, together with the Association of Ontario Health Centres, submitted a business case for the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health. From this proposal, we learned that over 580,000 people in Ontario have been diagnosed with chronic, complex, environmentally linked illnesses. That’s 5% of the population of Ontario. We also learned that people suffering from these conditions experience systemic barriers to getting the health care they need because diagnosis and treatment of these various serious conditions are not currently available in Ontario’s health care system. This is not acceptable.

The minister’s Task Force on Environmental Health has been set up to, among other things, identify patient-focused actions to improve health care and outcomes for those affected by these medical conditions. I urge the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to take action to provide effective services to these Ontarians. They deserve it.

Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System

Mr. Ted McMeekin: Recently, I attended an important meeting on the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System at the Royal Botanical Gardens. I was joined by Minister McGarry, Minister McMahon and federal Minister Gould for an inspiring discussion on continuing to move this project forward.

The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System is a collaborative initiative to protect, restore and connect more than 9,600 acres of natural lands at the western end of Lake Ontario that borders Hamilton and Burlington. It is one of the most biologically rich areas of Canada, home to more than 1,000 plant and animal species, including more than 50 species at risk. It is also the last intact ecological connection between Lake Ontario wetlands and the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

As a collaboration between 10 local government and non-profit organizations, the ecopark system is very, very innovative.

I wholeheartedly support this vision of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System being known internationally for protecting lands and making permanent improvements.

Thanks to all the volunteers, agencies, landowners and government partners. I’m tremendously proud of the work we’ve all done together so far, and I’m optimistic about what lies ahead for the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System.

Ontario Provincial Police

Ms. Laurie Scott: It gives me great pleasure to rise today as the PC critic for community safety to recognize the Ontario Provincial Police Association, who are here at Queen’s Park for their lobby day. I wanted to take the time to acknowledge all of the hard work that is done by our provincial police officers.

Our OPP officers are front-line advocates and spokespeople for public safety. Each and every day, they put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe.

In my travels across the province advocating for human trafficking victims, I have personally witnessed the excellent work done by OPP officers on the ground. They have been incredible allies in my work developing anti-human trafficking legislation, as well as in the work of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment, of which I was a member.

Consistently, no matter where you go in Ontario, it’s police officers who are asking, “What can I do to help solve this problem?”

I want to give a special welcome to my friend Rob Jamieson, president of the OPPA, as well as to every police officer who is here visiting Queen’s Park today.

Mr. Speaker, I just had a meeting with a young police officer who I knew as a child, and I didn’t realize she was with the Kawartha Lakes OPP: Toni Greer.

We’ve had excellent meetings in the past, and I look forward to continued co-operation in the coming months with the OPPA. Their members can be assured that we in the official opposition stand with them and will do whatever we can to ensure that they are properly recognized and valued for their important work.

Thank you again to all of the OPPA for coming to your Legislature, and best wishes for a very productive lobby day.

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Community Living Ontario

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Today we have visitors from Community Living Ontario. They are here to celebrate the positive changes and impact they have made in the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities, families and the communities that they live in.

Community Living has made great strides despite the mounting financial pressures they face due to continued lack of sufficient funding from this Liberal government. Speaker, when the budget came out recently, Community Living expressed on behalf of themselves and the people that they serve that there is still a very large gap when it comes to providing services like supportive housing, employment services and to be able to meet their very own staffing and pay equity obligations.

What we need is a government who actually comes to the table and works with organizations like Community Living and the people that they serve to ensure that every person in this province has the opportunity to live a life that is supported, hopefully independent, that they have some financial security and that they are receiving the supports and services that they need.

We need to make sure that organizations like Community Living Ontario and each of the branches throughout the province are receiving the funding that they need to not only meet their obligations as far as staffing and infrastructure, but that they have the money to put the programming into place to support, in some cases, some of our most vulnerable people within this province. I applaud the work of the people from Community Living and everybody that they support.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Mr. Joe Dickson: I am once again pleased to sponsor the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario, MEAO, a registered Ontario charity who are here today because Friday May 12 is the official awareness day for myalgic encephalomyelitis, sometimes known as chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia and environmental sensitivities, also known as multiple chemical sensitivity, which are three chronic, complex environmentally linked illnesses which afflict over 580,000 Ontarians.

I had the honour to sponsor MEAO many times over the last several years for their extremely worthy cause. I’m pleased to be here today. MEAO supports the hundreds of thousands of patients of Ontario who have a complex, chronic, environmentally linked illness.

As pointed out, these conditions can be challenging to diagnose and treat. People living with these conditions face challenges in their experiences as patients, from diagnosis to treatment to living with long-term impacts. People also suffer from stigmatization in clinical settings, the workplace and other areas of their lives as a result of a general lack of understanding of these complex conditions.

In late 2013, MEAO together with the Association of Ontario Health Centres submitted a business case proposal for the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The ministry and the Premier received the business case proposal and have since launched a task force on environmental—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Ahem.

Mr. Joe Dickson: I’m working very quickly, Mr. Speaker. The minister’s Task Force on Environmental Health first met almost a year ago on June 6, 2016, and has met several times since. Thank you very much—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): You’re absolutely welcome. The member from Wellington–Halton Hills.

Police services

Mr. Ted Arnott: Mr. Speaker, today as we welcome the members of the Ontario Provincial Police Association to Queen’s Park, it seems appropriate that we express our sincere thanks to all in Ontario’s police services who are called to respond to all manner of emergencies, who keep our communities safe, and who enforce our laws.

The county of Wellington is fortunate to have the OPP as our police service. In fact, we were one of the first counties in Ontario to contract with the OPP, and the arrangement has been exemplary over the years. Working with our county’s police service board, county council and staff under a six-year contract, the operating budget for policing is reviewed annually and new projects and programs can be developed and matured.

Under the leadership of Detachment Commander Scott Lawson, we have launched the Integrated Mobile Police and Crisis Team, or IMPACT, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, to address community mental health needs.

In Halton region, under the leadership of Chief Stephen Tanner, we are also fortunate to have our regional police service. Their collaborative professionalism is eloquently summarized this way: “One Vision, One Mission, One Team.”

Working with our school boards and reaching out to grade school students, the Halton police service has created a program called Building Respect, Attitudes and Values with Others, or B.R.A.V.O. Students are taught to make appropriate decisions and interact with peers, how to avoid substance abuse, combat bullying, Internet safety and other challenges that our children face.

Our area consistently ranks highly as one of the safest parts of the province. This speaks volumes about the strengths and values of the families of Wellington–Halton Hills, but it also underscores the outstanding men and women in our policing services, who do a difficult job with skill, dedication, compassion and valour.

May God bless all of our police officers and always keep them safe.

Indigenous education

Ms. Sophie Kiwala: Last week I was thrilled to welcome Queen’s principal Daniel Woolf, vice-principal Michael Fraser, and Dr. Mark Green, the co-chair of Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force, to Queen’s Park to talk about Queen’s Extending the Rafters report. The report includes 25 recommendations developed by the task force, based on 18 consultation sessions that included indigenous and non-indigenous faculty, staff, students, governance bodies, alumni and local indigenous communities.

In October, Queen’s proudly announced the official opening of 12 new group study rooms in Stauffer Library as part of their commitment to increase the visibility of the university’s indigenous community. These rooms were given indigenous names, and indigenous artists were commissioned to create paintings that depict the meaning of the study room names.

Perhaps the most significant is that Principal Woolf acknowledges in this report that Queen’s participated in the harm to indigenous communities and, most importantly, that they failed to educate students on the long history of deep-rooted conflicts between Canada and indigenous peoples.

Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge Principal Woolf and Queen’s University for their leadership and commitment to truth and reconciliation and to building a better future for indigenous peoples all across this province and well beyond. Thank you. Meegwetch.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Mr. Jeff Yurek: I’m pleased to rise today to recognize the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario, MEAO. May 12 is the official awareness day for myalgic encephalomyelitis—sometimes known as chronic fatigue syndrome—fibromyalgia and environmental sensitivities, which are three chronic, complex, environmentally linked illnesses that afflict over 580,000 Ontarians.

In October 2013, a business case proposal for the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Environmental Health was presented to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in order to provide the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians afflicted with these illnesses with the appropriate care and treatment they deserve. The minister’s Task Force on Environmental Health has been set up, with the first meeting taking place last year, on June 6, 2016.

Among other things, the task force will be identifying patient-focused actions to improve health care and outcomes for those affected by these medical conditions. The Progressive Conservative Party urges the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to work to implement recommendations that would be submitted with the interim report of this task force later this spring to ensure affective and appropriate health and social services for the hundreds of thousands of Ontario patients who suffer from these chronic, complex environmental illnesses.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank all members for their statements.

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on Government Agencies

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I beg to inform the House that today the Clerk received a report on intended appointments dated May 9, 2017, of the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. Pursuant to standing order 108(f)(9), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.

Report deemed adopted.

Standing Committee on General Government

Mr. Grant Crack: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on General Government and move its adoption. I give it to page Hayden.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Mr. William Short): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 65, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act in respect of speed limits in municipalities and other matters / Projet de loi 65, Loi modifiant le Code de la route relativement aux limites de vitesse dans les municipalités et à d’autres questions.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Carried.

Report adopted.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The bill is therefore ordered for third reading.

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Statements by the Ministry and Responses

South Asian Heritage Month

Hon. Indira Naidoo-Harris: Speaker, I’m pleased to rise today and talk about a very special month-long celebration taking place across our province. May is South Asian Heritage Month in Ontario. In fact, it has been officially recognized in Ontario since 2002, which means this is the 15th anniversary.

What this means is that it’s time to celebrate: celebrate our diversity, celebrate our amazing province and celebrate the outstanding contributions of Canadians of South Asian descent.

Ontario’s South Asian community is today more than one million people strong and extremely diverse in culture, religion, language, heritage and tradition. In Ontario, South Asian Canadians come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as well as some parts of Africa and the Caribbean. The community is largely concentrated in the GTA, Ottawa, Hamilton, London and Windsor.

South Asian Ontarians are recognized for their strong work ethic, strong sense of family and strong commitment to our community.

Speaker, Ontario celebrates its diversity because we recognize that together we are stronger. In fact, of all the Canadian provinces and territories, Ontario welcomes the highest number of newcomers. This is significant. Newcomers feel more comfortable in our province and recognize that this is a strong, successful province.

South Asian customs and traditions are an important part of the cultural fabric of many Ontario communities.

We also know that this diversity makes us more attractive, more attractive to international investment and further immigration, and that’s a very good thing. We value the important economic links and ties South Asian Canadians have with their former homelands. South Asia is a vital and growing market in the global economy. The bridges and links we are building today to this part of the world will lead to two-way economic benefits for Ontarians for years to come.

Our diversity has made Ontario a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. As we mark South Asian Heritage Month, let’s celebrate. Let’s celebrate the many achievements and successes of South Asian Canadians in the fields of education, health care, the arts, business, sciences and public service.

Speaker, South Asian Canadians are leaders in the province, volunteers in our communities, and, most importantly, our friends, our co-workers and our neighbours. As someone whose roots are South Asian and who immigrated to Canada with her family as a young girl, I am proud we are celebrating the contributions and achievements of these important communities.

This is what Ontario’s diversity is all about. This is a celebration of who we are as a province, and this is an important large global link to our global family.

Ontario’s South Asian community is made up of people from countries all over the world. They speak many languages, practise many religions and have many ethnicities. Each community has its own distinct identity, but together, their contributions have helped to define our country, this province and our region’s rich cultural identity.

Festivities are being held across the province this month to celebrate Ontario’s rich South Asian culture. I urge my colleagues and all Ontarians to join in, to come together and celebrate.

South Asian Heritage Month is a reminder that, apart from our founding indigenous peoples, all of us in Ontario came here from somewhere else. All of us have something valuable to contribute. All of us are engaged in building this province up to be the best it can be, and all of us are part of one big global family.

Jewish Heritage Month

Hon. Michael Coteau: I’m proud to rise today to recognize Jewish Heritage Month here in Ontario. It’s a time to recognize the achievements, celebrate the culture and raise awareness of the pivotal role that Jewish Canadians have played and continue to play here in our province.

This is also an opportunity for us to reflect upon the extraordinary history of Judaism, with its origins stretching back thousands of years and the fierce devotion and resilience of its people. Jewish Heritage Month is an opportunity for all Ontarians to learn about it more fully, listen carefully to the personal testimonies, and celebrate this rich culture and people of exceptional strength.

With a foundation of family, faith and tradition, the Jewish people have persevered with unbreakable spirits through the diaspora, oppression and persecution, through the tragedy of the Holocaust, and through continued contemporary anti-Semitism.

The first Jewish immigrants arrived in Ontario in the 1800s. The aftermath of the Second World War brought tens of thousands of European Jews to North America, including Ontario, seeking freedom, a brighter future and a chance to begin anew.

Today the Jewish community here in the province of Ontario stands at more than 200,000. They have made an outstanding contribution to our society and our economy, distinguishing themselves in every field, from medicine to the arts and from business to law to academia. They are keen participants in Ontario’s democratic process, and philanthropists who have strengthened our communities and advanced many important causes. Jewish Canadians are a central part of the mosaic that is Ontario and of the diversity which we call our greatest strength.

We cannot pay proper respect to Ontario’s Jewish community without condemning the troubling resurgence of anti-Semitism here in Ontario, Canada and around the world. Under the leadership of the Anti-Racism Directorate, our government reaffirms its commitment to reject hatred and bigotry wherever they are found, and to build an Ontario that is equal, tolerant and respectful to all.

The Anti-Racism Directorate was established with a goal of eliminating systemic racism across government and in our province’s institutions. This is a long-term plan, and we’ll be exploring targeted public education awareness initiatives to deepen the public’s understanding of many forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. By working together with our partners in the Jewish community, I know we can begin the difficult work of eliminating institutional anti-Semitism here in Ontario. I want to make sure that, as we implement and go forward with our three-year strategic plan, we are combatting anti-Semitism in Ontario.

During Jewish Heritage Month, we celebrate the achievements of Ontario’s Jewish community, honour its past and look forward to its continued contributions in a strong and diverse Ontario that values every person, in all forms of faith, culture and ethnicities.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It’s time for responses.

South Asian Heritage Month

Mr. Steve Clark: May is South Asian Heritage Month in Ontario, and on behalf of the leader of the official opposition and our entire PC caucus, I’m proud to recognize and pay tribute to the historic contributions that Ontario’s South Asian communities have made and continue to make to our province and our nation’s history. Ontario’s South Asian communities have a long and diverse history. This is an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate their contributions to Ontario’s diversity, prosperity and growth.

I know our leader, Patrick Brown, has experienced the rich South Asian culture first-hand, having travelled to India 17 times now, and also having the opportunity to visit Nepal and Pakistan. The leader has also attended several celebrations across the province in the past few weeks, and is attending many, many more events in the weeks to come.

At each event we attend, whether it’s the leader or myself or members of our caucus, we’ve had the privilege to meet so many Canadians of South Asian heritage and to make long-lasting friendships with members of the community. Their kindness and openness are really a testament to what South Asian culture contributes to Ontario’s diversity.

Throughout the month of May, I encourage all Ontarians to learn more about the history and experience of our South Asian friends and neighbours. I look forward to continuing to take part in the many community events across Ontario that honour and celebrate the legacy of Canadians of South Asian heritage along with our leader, Patrick Brown, and again, our PC caucus, and to work with Ontario’s South Asian communities in the coming years on our shared journey to make Ontario better.

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Jewish Heritage Month

Mrs. Gila Martow: May is Jewish Heritage Month. I just want to thank the members—MPPs Mike Colle, Cheri DiNovo and my predecessor, Peter Shurman—who introduced a bill to declare May as Jewish Heritage Month back in November 2011.

Basically, it’s to allow Ontarians to learn about Jewish heritage and culture, and give a voice, as well, to the forgotten Jews from around the world, which is kind of my theme. I’m very into theme parties, so I guess I’m into theme statements because I seem to, for some reason, give a lot of the same ministry statements over and over again.

This year’s theme is going to be the different types of Jews from around the world. Basically, we divide ourselves into three main groups: the Ashkenazi Jews, such as myself, from Europe, from Russia—and today I’m going to focus on Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews.

Basically, when we think about Jewish culture and Jewish heritage here in North America, we often think about the Ashkenazi Jews. We think of chicken soup and matzo balls; we call it gefiltefish, which is fish-meat meatballs; kreplach, which is our version of perogies; and holishkes, which everybody seems to do—meat wrapped in cabbage.

But there are other Jews as well, with many different foods and many different cultures: from Algeria; Ethiopian Jews, many of whom are now in Israel; Indian Jews—my friend’s son-in-law is from India. So I just want to highlight a few.

Egypt: 80,000 Jews left Egypt in just the last 60 years, even though they’ve lived there for 3,000 years. As in many of the Arab countries, they were there before the Arab Islamic conquest. Now only 20 remain. They’re all over the world; the word is “diaspora,” which the minister used before. They’re all over the world in the diaspora, but they’re trying to hold on to their culture, and my sub-theme is going to be food. Basbusa is a semolina sweet lemony cake topped with an almond, which I’ve had; and kushari is lentils, rice and pasta in tomato sauce.

Iranian Jews: There were 150,000 before the Iranian Revolution. Today, we estimate there are about 25,000, although they don’t practise openly. They’re known for their songs as well as their food: khoresht fesenjan, which is Persian pomegranate and walnut stew.

Iraq had 135,000 Jews leave in the last 60 years, even though they were also there for thousands of years. Kibbeh is an Iraqi lamb dumpling.

Lebanon: Well, we know baba ghanouj, eggplant dip. We know about hummus. They brought that from Lebanon.

Libya: 38,000 who left Libya. Guess how many are left today, Mr. Speaker? Zero, as far as we know. Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and onions, spiced with cumin—

Interjections.

Mrs. Gila Martow: Who else is getting hungry?

Morocco: 260,000 Jews left in the last century. I was just at one of their festivals, the Mimouna festival, with the member from Davenport, and we ate mufleta. One of my favourite Moroccan dishes is chicken tagine with apricots, figs and cinnamon.

Syria: 30,000 Jews left. One of the well-known foods is munahi kousa. King David actually built the first Jewish synagogue in Aleppo in the 10th century BCE.

Tunisia: My husband loves the Tunisian tuna sandwich from King David restaurant in Thornhill—a shout-out to them.

My last two are just Turkey, which is known for a famous Jewish singer, Can Bonomo, and Yemen—60,000 Jews left Yemen. All I can say about the Yemenite Jews is they have the most beautiful costumes and the most beautiful dances and the most beautiful music.

Happy Lag BaOmer, which is going to be this week. Chag sameach, everybody.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m hungry.

Further responses?

Jewish Heritage Month

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: We’re all hungry now.

I’m rising to talk to Jewish Heritage Month. I was proud to be one of the co-authors of that bill. I’m rising on behalf of Andrea Horwath and the entire NDP caucus.

In my riding, we have the oldest synagogue in Toronto. Now, there’s contention for that role, but this is one of them. It’s Knesseth Israel. It was built in 1913. I was proud to be there on its 100th anniversary, where I shared the best scotch I’ve ever had in my life—a shot to say “mazel tov” to the synagogue.

I was chatting to this lovely man who donated the scotch. He was talking about how his grandfather was a sheet metal worker back in 1911 and the founder of the synagogue. He had eight dollars to his name when he actually came to Toronto back in the day.

We were talking: “And what do you do, sir?” It turned out I was talking to Joey Tanenbaum, one of Canada’s greatest philanthropists. But that’s an indication of who we have in the Jewish community in Toronto—and, really, who have been a boon to everyone.

I grew up in the Annex, which at that time was very Jewish. It was very Jewish around Markham Street. The Mirvishes, who started Honest Ed’s and, of course, the Mirvish theatre, were part of that community. It was not a wealthy community. My school, Huron Street public school, was Italians, Jews—people from the diaspora who were Jewish, but immigrants from all over.

When you look at the AGO, when you look at the ROM, these are funded by some of our great Jewish philanthropists in this country.

There is no doubt that all of the Jews I knew were one generation away from the camps and the ghettos in Europe; they were one generation away from the Holocaust, and they bore the scars of that, and of our own complicity in that, as Canadians, quite frankly. But since they have arrived here, they have contributed so much to the Canadian economy, so much to our Canadian culture. It’s impossible to separate it out from our Jewish citizens.

I’m not going to talk about food. My friend from Thornhill already did that.

I’ll simply say thank you to Joey Tanenbaum for the best Scotch I’ve ever had in my life.

Thank you to all of our Jewish immigrants, from wherever you came, because without you we would not have the Canada we have today. Without you, we would not have the culture we have today.

South Asian Heritage Month

Ms. Catherine Fife: On behalf of Andrea Horwath and the entire NDP caucus, I’m proud to rise and talk about South Asian Heritage Month, which celebrates the unique diversity of Canada and the Ontario mosaic. It’s important to recognize the great work of our diverse cultural communities.

I would like to thank our deputy leader, Jagmeet Singh, the member from Bramalea–Gore–Malton, for his tireless efforts advocating on behalf of the South Asian community here in Ontario. He has been a true champion to break down barriers and to foster relationships. When Jagmeet addresses the importance of recognizing the South Asian diaspora here in Ontario, he talks about the importance of having a unique culture and a distinct value, but also the importance of seeing that there are so many similarities between each and every community that makes up our great province.

South Asians make up roughly one quarter of the world’s population. South Asian people began arriving in the Americas in 1838. So it’s important that we have a South Asian Heritage Month to recognize their presence and their contribution to this great province.

In the South Asian region, there are eight countries represented and numerous languages spoken. The countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Myanmar. Communities and regions within these countries are extensive and diverse.

South Asian Ontarians have their own culture and their own languages, and we are proud to celebrate that each and every one has a home in this province. In addition, there are other languages spoken in South Asian regions, like Hindi, Urdu and Farsi.

There are over 250 South Asian socio-cultural organizations in Canada.

In Waterloo alone, I think of the great work done by the Tamil cultural association of Kitchener-Waterloo, the India Canada Association of Waterloo Region, the Golden Triangle Sikh Association of Kitchener-Waterloo, and the Pakistan Canada Association of Waterloo Wellington. They do great outreach. They’re very generous, working with several charities, and they have an amazing sense of cultural engagement that we all benefit from.

I’d like to encourage everyone to take part in the various South Asian Heritage Month events that are going on in all of our ridings across this province. It’s a chance to celebrate our diversity and to celebrate those unique communities that call Ontario their home.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank all members for their statements.

Committee sittings

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Government and Consumer Services, on a point of order.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: I believe you will find we have unanimous consent to revert back to motions and to put forward a motion without notice regarding the Standing Committee on General Government.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The minister is seeking unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice. Do we agree? Agreed.

Minister?

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: I move that the Standing Committee on General Government be authorized to meet from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, May 15, 2017, in addition to its regularly scheduled meeting time, for the purpose of public hearings on Bill 114, An Act to provide for Anti-Racism Measures.

I will pass that to the page.

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The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Ms. MacCharles moves that the Standing Committee on General Government be authorized to meet from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, May 15, 2017, in addition to its regularly scheduled meeting time, for the purpose of public hearings on Bill 114, An Act to provide for Anti-Racism Measures.

Do we agree? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I always do this to check: Motions. Because we’re in motions. No further motions? We’re now reverting to petitions.

Petitions

Lyme disease

Mrs. Gila Martow: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas the tick-borne illness known as chronic Lyme disease, which mimics many catastrophic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s, Alzheimer’s, arthritic diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, is increasingly endemic in Canada, but scientifically validated diagnostic tests and treatment choices are currently not available in Ontario, forcing patients to seek these in the USA and Europe; and

“Whereas the Ontario public health system currently does not fund those specific tests that accurately serve the process for establishing a clinical diagnosis, but only recognizes testing procedures known in the medical literature to provide false negatives 45% to 95% of the time; and

“Whereas MPP Toby Barrett introduced a private member’s bill asking the Legislature to strike a committee to examine Lyme disease; which was followed by NDP Michael Mantha’s motion in the Legislature calling for a provincial strategy on Lyme disease; and both received unanimous support in the Legislature;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to request legislation dealing with Lyme be made a priority for committee review, and the Minister of Health direct the Ontario public health system and OHIP to include all currently available and scientifically verified tests for acute and chronic Lyme diagnosis, to do everything necessary to create public awareness of Lyme disease in Ontario, and to have internationally developed diagnostic and successful treatment protocols available to patients and physicians.”

I’m proud to sign this petition and give it to page Rishi.

Provincial truth and reconciliation day

Mr. Michael Mantha: I’m presenting these 1,200 petitions, with a lot more to come, on behalf of the Indigenous Circle: Linda Broer, Tina Stevens, Lauren Fong, Tim Vining and Fridmar Facunda. The petition reads:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: Proclaim June 21 as a Statutory Holiday Called Provincial Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Ontario.

“Whereas June 21 is recognized as the summer solstice and holds cultural significance for many indigenous cultures; and

“Whereas in 1982, the National Indian Brotherhood (Assembly of First Nations) called for the creation of a National Aboriginal Solidarity Day to be celebrated on June 21; and

“Whereas in 1990, Québec recognized June 21 as a day to celebrate the achievements and cultures of indigenous peoples;

“Whereas in 1995, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended that a National First Peoples Day be designated;

“Whereas in 1996, the Governor General of Canada proclaimed June 21 as National Aboriginal Day in response to these calls;

“Whereas in 2001, Northwest Territories became the first province or territory to recognize June 21 as a statutory holiday; and

“Whereas in 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation number 80 called on the federal government, in collaboration with aboriginal peoples, to establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday;

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

“To designate June 21 of each year as a legal statutory holiday to be kept and observed throughout Ontario. This day should serve to create and strengthen opportunities for reconciliation and cultural exchange among Ontarians. The day should facilitate connections between indigenous and non-indigenous Ontarians in positive and meaningful ways. This day should solidify the original intent of National Aboriginal Day as a day for Ontarians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this petition. I affix my signature and give it to page Claire to take it down to the Clerk’s table.

GO Transit

Ms. Soo Wong: I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly.

“Whereas Cambridge, Ontario, is a municipality of over 125,000 people, many of whom commute into the greater Toronto area daily;

“Whereas the current commuting options available for travel between the Waterloo region and the GTA are inefficient and time-consuming, as well as environmentally damaging;

“Whereas the residents of Cambridge and the Waterloo region believe that they would be well-served by commuter rail transit that connects the region to the Milton line, and that this infrastructure would have positive, tangible economic benefits to the province of Ontario;

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

“Direct crown agency Metrolinx to commission a feasibility study into building a rail line that connects the city of Cambridge to the GO train station in Milton, and to complete this study in a timely manner and communicate the results to the municipal government of Cambridge.”

I fully support the petition and give my petition to Kaitlin.

Protection of people with disabilities

Mr. Jim McDonell: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas Community Living provides essential residential services and care for vulnerable Ontarians; and

“Whereas group home residents and staff deserve a peaceful and nurturing environment in order to function at their best; and

“Whereas picketing of group homes is currently allowed during labour disputes; and

“Whereas the presence of a picket line or a resident’s interaction with a picket line, can result in undue stress and potential increase in the likelihood of behavioural episodes in those susceptible to them;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“(1) ensure both parties return to the bargaining table to ensure a timely resolution; and

“(2) end the disruptive practice of picketing group homes.”

I agree with this and will pass it off to—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much.

Privatization of public assets

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further petitions? The member from Danforth.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Toronto–Danforth.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Toronto–Danforth. I knew the city.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Thank you, Speaker. I present this petition:

“Whereas the privatization of Hydro One will drive up electricity prices and cut provincial revenues;

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

“That the province of Ontario immediately cancels its scheme to privatize Ontario’s Hydro One.”

I agree with this petition.

Water fluoridation

Ms. Soo Wong: I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly.

“Whereas community water fluoridation is a safe, effective and scientifically proven means of preventing dental decay, and is a public health measure endorsed by more than 90 national and international health organizations; and

“Whereas recent experience in such Canadian cities as Dorval, Calgary and Windsor that have removed fluoride from drinking water has shown a dramatic increase in dental decay; and

“Whereas the continued use of fluoride in community drinking water is at risk in Ontario cities representing more than 10% of Ontario’s population, including the region of Peel; and

“Whereas the Ontario Legislature has twice voted unanimously in favour of the benefits of community water fluoridation, and the Ontario Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care and Municipal Affairs and Housing urge support for amending the Health Protection and Promotion Act and other applicable legislation to ensure community water fluoridation is mandatory and to remove provisions allowing Ontario municipalities to cease drinking water fluoridation, or fail to start drinking water fluoridation, from the Ontario Municipal Act;

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

“That the Premier of Ontario direct the Ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Health and Long-Term Care to introduce legislation amending the Health Protection and Promotion Act and make changes to other applicable legislation and regulations to make the fluoridation of municipal drinking water mandatory in all municipal water systems across the province of Ontario.”

I support the petition and I give the petition to the page.

Long-term care

Ms. Sylvia Jones: My petition is to fund long-term-care beds.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas seniors and families deserve long-term-care beds that provide high-quality care in their community;

“Whereas, according to the Ontario Long Term Care Association 2016 report, 97% of residents need help with daily activities such as getting out of bed, eating or toileting;

“Whereas there are currently 26,500 people on the wait list for long-term care, and that number is expected to double in the next six years;

“Whereas long-term-care homes require stable and predictable funding each year to help pay for the rising costs of operations, provide quality care and invest in more beds;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, call on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to move quickly to pass Bill 110, the Long-Term Care Homes Amendment Act, 2017, and ensure that funding for food and utilities reflect changes in the cost of living.”

I support this petition, affix my name to it and give it to the page.

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Veterans

Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition, and I’d like to thank Jean and Diane Savignac from Hanmer in my riding.

It reads as follows:

“Lest We Forget Our Duty to Care.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas we have a collective duty of care to all veterans for their service and sacrifice; and

“Whereas the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 narrowly defines the term ‘veteran,’ restricting priority access to long-term-care beds to veterans who served prior to 1953; and

“Whereas the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 omits veterans who enlisted after 1953 ... from access to priority long-term-care beds; and

“Whereas the current population of modern-day veterans in Ontario is four times that of traditional veterans; and

“Whereas modern-day veterans are not eligible to apply for the existing 1,097 long-term-care beds designated specifically for Ontario veterans; and

“Whereas only one in seven (1 in 7) veterans is eligible for priority long-term care in Ontario…;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to pass the Long-Term Care Homes Amendment Act (Preference for Veterans), which extends priority access to long-term-care beds to modern-day veterans, including former officers and former non-commissioned members of the Canadian Forces.”

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

Medical assistance in dying

Mr. Lorne Coe: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Bill C-14, the federal legislation which legalized medical assistance in dying (MAID) in Canada explicitly affirms it is not intended to compel anyone to act against their deeply held beliefs; and

“Whereas the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has adopted the effective-referral protocol for MAID, which may compel health care professionals to act contrary to their deeply held beliefs; and

“Whereas the effective-referral protocol for MAID is globally unprecedented; and

“Whereas there are viable alternatives for the provision of effective access to MAID that would allow all health care professionals to continue to practise with ethical integrity; and

“Whereas this effective-referral-protocol policy may compel health care professionals to make a dehumanizing choice between their profession and their faith, conscience or commitment to the Hippocratic oath;

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

“To immediately take action to protect the conscience rights of Ontario’s health care professionals by” abolishing “the effective-referral protocol for medical assistance in dying.”

I agree with the content, Speaker. I’ll affix my signature and provide it to page Jeremi.

Government services

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I want to thank Jordan McGrail, Sue Fairweather, Connie Collins and Rob Wilson from the OPSEU We Own It! campaign for amassing hundreds of signatures for this petition, which reads:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Belle River’s privately operated ServiceOntario centre shut down in January 2017 because the second owner in four years has given up operating it; and

“Whereas the government is considering applications to let yet another private owner take over the operation of the centre; and

“Whereas the people of Belle River and surrounding communities have a right to reliable business hours; and

“Whereas the people of Belle River and surrounding communities have a right—where they live—to the full range of services available only at publicly operated centres, in addition to health cards and driver’s licences, such as:

“—registering a business;

“—filing Employment Standards Act claims;

“—submitting Landlord and Tenant Board documents;

“—entering Ministry of Natural Resources draws; and

“Whereas the closest publicly operated office is 30 minutes away in downtown Windsor; and

“Whereas the residents of Belle River and surrounding areas pay the same provincial taxes as other Ontarians and, therefore, have a right to equal access to quality services; and

“Whereas the only aim of publicly operated centres is to provide the best possible services to the people, while the sole goal of privately operated services is to generate the biggest possible profit for the owner;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows: that the Minister of Government and Consumer Services instruct ServiceOntario to immediately and permanently open and staff a public ServiceOntario centre in Belle River.”

I agree with this petition, will affix my name to it and send it to the Clerks’ table with page Sofia.

Nanjing Massacre

Ms. Soo Wong: I have another 123 signatures on this particular petition from Richmond Hill, Toronto and elsewhere.

“Whereas the events in Asian countries during World War II are not well known;

“Whereas Ontarians have not had an opportunity for a thorough discussion and examination of the World War II atrocities in Asia…;

“Whereas Ontario is recognized as an inclusive society;

“Whereas Ontario is the home to one of the largest Asian populations in Canada, with over 2.6 million in 2011;

“Whereas some Ontarians have direct relationships with victims and survivors of the Nanjing Massacre, whose stories are untold;

“Whereas the Nanjing Massacre was an atrocity with over 200,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers alike were indiscriminately killed, and tens of thousands of women were sexually assaulted, in the Japanese capture of the city;

“Whereas December 13, 2017, marks the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre...;

“We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, urge the members of the Ontario Legislature to pass Bill 79, declaring Dec. 13 as the Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day.”

I fully support the petition, Mr. Speaker, and I give my petition to the page.

Health care funding

Ms. Sylvia Jones: My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas the Ministry of Health has implemented a number of health care services cuts that impact patient care; and

“Whereas as a direct result of ministry cuts, the laboratory at the Highlands Health Network is closed as of January 1, 2016, this will drastically reduce services, affecting many patients who rely on the in-house laboratory for essential tests; and

“Whereas patient care is affected by the government’s cuts including: $54 million of the federal Canada Health Transfer from Ontario’s health care budget, $815 million from physician services, $50 million from physiotherapy services for seniors and 50 medical residency positions across the province;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Ministry of Health as follows:

“Restore funding to the physicians, so that the Highlands Health Network can continue providing laboratory services for all its patients.”

I support this petition, affix my name to it, and give it to page Kaitlin to take to the table.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I would like to thank all members for their petitions this afternoon. Unfortunately, the time for petitions has now expired.

Opposition Day

Government accountability / Responsabilité gouvernementale

Mr. Patrick Brown: Mr. Speaker, I move that,

Whereas government scandals have dominated news headlines for the past 14 years;

Whereas the current government has faced five OPP investigations;

Whereas the people of Ontario may question the integrity of this government;

Therefore, in the opinion of this House, the government should support an Ontario ethics and accountability act with the following provisions:

—Close the loophole on ministers fundraising from their own ministerial stakeholders;

—Make it illegal for ministers to have fundraising targets;

—Expand the one-year lobbying cooling-off period to prohibit former ministerial staff from lobbying all government ministries on behalf of companies their former ministry did business with;

—Amending the Public Service of Ontario Act to require the results of Integrity Commissioner investigations of ministerial staff to be made public;

—Restoring the Auditor General's full oversight of government advertising;

—A ban on government advertising 90 days prior to an election;

—Legislating the practice of ministerial responsibility and requiring ministers named in a police investigation to temporarily step aside until their name is cleared of any wrongdoing; and

—Strengthen government document retention polices to ensure records like the gas plant documents are never deleted again.

This is addressed to the Premier.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Mr. Brown has moved opposition day motion number 5.

Mr. Brown.

Mr. Patrick Brown: I am pleased to rise in support of the official opposition’s opposition day motion to clean up government.

Mr. Speaker, the public’s expectations are to have good governance. They expect a government that is working hard on behalf of Ontario families. Here in Ontario, what they’re getting is a government plagued with scandal, waste and mismanagement. The ethical lapses just keep on piling up.

This government has faced five—five—OPP investigations. Two of their court trials are beginning in four months. It’s the only time in Ontario history, when you ask about the government’s criminal investigations, that you have to ask: “Which one?”

They’ve deleted emails, blocked the Financial Accountability Office’s access to information and stripped the Auditor General of her independent oversight powers. They’ve abused their privilege to extract as much money as possible from their stakeholders. And they always, without fail, prioritize their Liberal friends over hard-working Ontario families.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud that today the Ontario PCs have introduced our accountability and ethics action plan.

Je suis fier qu’aujourd’hui les progressistes-conservateurs de l’Ontario annoncent notre plan d’action pour la responsabilité et l’éthique.

It includes eight measures that will promote fairness in politics and government. The status quo is not acceptable. Whatever the Liberals have said they have done to clean up government, it does not go nearly far enough.

C’est simple, parce que tout ce que les libéraux ont dit qu’ils ont fait pour nettoyer le gouvernement ne va pas assez loin.

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Did the members opposite put a stop to their cash-for-access scandal? No. It doesn’t go far enough. There is nothing to stop ministers and their staff from soliciting personal donations from stakeholders. We want this loophole closed.

But the Liberals’ unethical fundraising practices went deeper than cash for access. Did the government close the loophole to prevent ministers from fundraising, or ban the practice of having fundraising targets? No, they haven’t gone far enough. It was incredible hearing of targets of several hundred thousand dollars per minister. That’s not what a minister is supposed to be working on. They’re supposed to be working on their ministries, on their jobs, on their mandate letters, not having to meet some party fundraising quota. It’s not right, and I think Ontarians were right to be aghast. I don’t understand why this government can’t support closing this loophole. It’s the right thing to do.

Have they stopped helping out their friends? This week, we’ve learned that a key player in the Premier’s Hydro One sell-off scheme has been appointed to the Home Capital board, which is embroiled in the news in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” scheme.

Are former ministerial staff engaging in unethical lobbying practices? We want to ensure they aren’t. Is there enough transparency in Integrity Commissioner investigations of ministerial staff? No. A minister whose reputation is on the line can decide if they want the information released. How is that appropriate?

Are the Liberals feathering their nest for the next election using taxpayer dollars for partisan government advertising? Of course they are, and they need to stop. It isn’t fair. The Auditor General should have the power to call this out. And no matter what the government says, when the Auditor General is saying that her powers have been stripped and that partisan advertising is allowed in Ontario, I’m going to trust the Auditor General 10 times out of 10 over this government.

Is it fair that ministers can keep their jobs if they’re named in a police investigation? You would think that it would be abnormal that there would be police investigations, but this is now common practice with this government, so we do need to have rules around this. We believe they should temporarily step aside until their names are cleared of any wrongdoing. That’s not happening in Ontario, and it’s not right.

Finally, are we sure that staff are not still deleting emails inappropriately over matters such as the Global News story, which detailed that the government has utterly failed to monitor violent criminals, including sex offenders, out on parole? We want an audit to ensure that 100% of the rules are being followed. Once again, you would assume that you wouldn’t have to worry about this, but what we’ve learned is that we do in Ontario. Don’t even get me started on the gas plant scandal and the billions that have been lost for Ontario taxpayers because of a practice where the government cleans up and hides their own ethical lapses and errors.

Every single action this government has taken in the past 14 years has been about one thing: the partisan self-interest of the Ontario Liberal Party. It is not about the people of Ontario; it is about the Liberal Party. It should come as no surprise that Ontario families continue to question the integrity of this government. How can you not, when you have a government that has been under five OPP investigations, when it’s scandal after scandal after scandal?

Hon. David Zimmer: Patrick, calm down. You’re going to break a blood vessel.

Mr. Patrick Brown: And no matter how much they heckle, they can’t put a positive spin on OPP investigations into their conduct. They can heckle, but the facts do not lie. There is no government in Ontario’s history that has been under such intense scrutiny for scandal, mismanagement, waste and OPP investigations. That is their record. That is their legacy. Their legacy is one of police investigations into conduct which was inappropriate.

I’m asking the government to vote today to clean up Queen’s Park. If they are committed to bringing integrity to our political process, if they are proud of their legacy, then what they would do is, they would welcome these ethical reforms. They would welcome having an accountability act. All we want to do today is to close these loopholes. All we want to do is make sure that lines that have been crossed before, that have required the OPP to come in, cannot be crossed again. Unless they want to cross those lines again, unless they want to abuse those loopholes, they would have no problem supporting these eight measures to bring accountability and ethics to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Speaker, I implore the government side to do the right thing. Vote for integrity. Vote for ethics. Stand up in the Legislature today and say, “We have no problem with accountability.” It is the right thing to do, and I hope we can count on their support.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Miss Monique Taylor: I’m pleased to have the opportunity to rise to speak today to this opposition motion, highlighting, as it does, some of the reasons that the voting public has become cynical about the political process here in Ontario. In particular, they have reached a point where they simply don’t trust this Wynne government.

Through the years of Dalton McGuinty, they had grown tired of the Liberal approach that always put their own fortunes ahead of the people they were meant to serve. I still hear people talking about the gas plants scandal, when the Liberals decided that it was worth a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money just to save a few seats in Mississauga and Oakville. And eHealth and Ornge added to their bitterness—scandal after scandal.

He got out hoping that a new captain would turn the ship around. And it did turn around—at least it did in terms of public perception, but not so much in actual Liberal priorities, their real priorities: themselves, their party and their friends in high places.

Under the Wynne Liberals, the same attitude that we saw under Dalton McGuinty has just continued. It has carried on as if there was no change at all. After the rhetoric of the last election campaign, the public feels terribly let down by Kathleen Wynne. They had high hopes, but those hopes soon came crashing down. She has allowed hydro prices to soar while pushing forward her plan to privatize Hydro One. Just yesterday, they went ahead, selling another 120 million shares, taking it to 60% private ownership.

They say they are done and that we should believe them. I have a hard time doing that, Speaker: a plan that nobody voted for, a plan that 85% of the people of Ontario oppose, a plan that pushes prices even higher, a plan that removes public oversight and, yes, a plan that takes money out of the pockets of families and small businesses and puts it into the hands of their rich friends.

And let’s not forget that it was the Conservatives that started us down this road of privatization.

We witnessed the scandalous behaviour of Liberal Party operatives in the Sudbury by-election in early 2015. Others are under investigation for destroying documents. If the OPP didn’t know the route to the Liberal headquarters, they certainly do now, because they have travelled it often.

We saw the undignified cash-for-access debacle when it was disclosed that cabinet ministers were given targets for the amount of money that they needed to raise from stakeholders. The Wynne Liberals got a lot of bad press for that, and deservedly so. So they decided they needed to do something to stall their criticism, but just before they did, just before they introduced their new fundraising legislation, they cynically held a huge fundraising dinner with all of those stakeholders in attendance. Knowing they were going to lose this particular avenue, they pulled in $2.5 million from one dinner, $1,600 a plate, plus add-ons for a private pre-reception. With another $2.5 million stuffed in their pockets, they changed the rules.

How much have things actually changed in the legislation? Not too much. The new rules say that ministers can no longer attend fundraising events, but they also extended this particular law to all MPPs. A law to supposedly stop cabinet ministers from raising their target goals, which could be up to half a million dollars, was equally applied to the rest of us. As a result, we can no longer attend simple spaghetti dinners at $20 a head. It’s absolutely shameful, Speaker. Rather than trying to find a suitable, reasonable response to legitimate criticism that cabinet ministers were using their position to raise millions of dollars, what did they do instead? They were vindictive and they were spiteful.

To make matters worse, they didn’t even actually outlaw the practice of cabinet ministers being able to shake down their stakeholders. Yes, they can no longer attend their events, but there is nothing stopping them from soliciting donations through other means.

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The only thing that has changed is that it’s been taken out of the public eye. Donations are, of course, made public through Elections Ontario. Anyone with a computer or an interest can go and look up how much each person gave to which party. But gone are the glitzy affairs and the huge fancy ballrooms where all of those who could afford to pay $600 for a meal and rub shoulders with some of those who pull the levers of government—events that actually attract media attention, all out there for everyone to see. This aspect of this legislation wasn’t put into place to clean things up. It was simply a way to deflect from a bad media story, and it’s not good enough.

They also changed the rules on government advertising, purely to suit their own self-interest. Previously, ads were considered to be partisan if they were considered to be promoting a positive impression of the government or a negative impression of their critics. Under the Wynne Liberals, that definition was changed so that an ad would only be considered partisan if it depicted an image, name or voice of a member, or if it had a colour or logo identified with a party.

After noting that taxpayers funded millions of dollars in partisan government ads, plus millions more in social media, the Auditor General had this to say about the move last November: “We cautioned when the government changed the law in 2015 that it was opening the door to this sort of thing.... Sure enough,” they “walked right through” it.

The Wynne Liberals have also allowed executive salaries at public institutions to go through the roof. While families and small business struggle to pay their bills, the CEO at Hydro One gets $4.4 million a year in compensation. That’s absolutely obscene, Speaker. There can be no word for it other than “obscene.”

Kevin Smith, the CEO at St. Joe’s in Hamilton and the Niagara Health System, earned over $726,000 last year. But apparently, even with a pay packet that size, the jobs don’t seem to keep him busy enough, because he also had time to chair the board of Home Capital, holding $1.6 million in shares, at the same time. He also served on the board of the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, which gave his mortgage company, the one that he chaired, a line of credit for $2 billion.

Experts in the field of ethics said he should never have been sitting on both of these boards, but that’s how things happen when the Liberal government sets the bar so low on ethics. The attitude trickles down to other positions of power in public institutions.

Speaker, governments have a responsibility to the people of this province to lead by example, but that example should be one that encourages us—that encourages those of us who serve—to set the ethical high ground. No one does that.

The Liberal government has lost its way, Speaker. They have no appreciation for the difficult choices families have had to make each and every day. Ever-growing hydro bills, completely unaffordable child care, trying to scrape by on a minimum wage that is drastically below the poverty line: That is the reality for far too many in Ontario in 2017. That is the true legacy of this government.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate? I recognize the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath.

Hon. David Zimmer: Thank you very much, Speaker. I have caught my breath. The reason I lost my breath: I was just stunned by the viciousness of the speech from the Leader of the Opposition. I just caught the tail end of it.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Order.

Hon. David Zimmer: The leader of the official opposition talked about integrity and he talked about honesty. You know what integrity and honesty is, Speaker? Integrity and honesty is being honest with your supporters who have supported you in your political career, honest with the voters, honest with constituents and honest with the members and the greater public at large on matters of public policy.

Speaker, today there was a major analysis of the Leader of the Opposition that dealt with his integrity with respect to the public policy positions and political positions he’s taken. The headline of the column in the Toronto Star by Martin Regg Cohn is entitled, “Patrick Brown’s No-Policy Policy.” It has pointed out, “No one really knows”—speaking about the Leader of the Opposition’s policies—“because no one knows him. It’s hard to know why he stands out, or what he stands for.”

It goes on to point out the history of his integrity in the political context: “Back in Ottawa, he was”—

Mr. John Yakabuski: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): The member for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you, Speaker. The column by Martin Regg Cohn today is not the subject of this opposition day motion, nor is the policy record of the Leader of the Opposition. It is a motion before the House about accountability and ethics. I would appreciate if the minister would speak to the motion.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. The ruling is that it’s not a point of order. However, to the minister, I would ask that you speak to opposition day motion number 5.

Hon. David Zimmer: Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has raised the political integrity of members of this House, and I’m speaking to what constitutes political integrity in this House. I am referencing the Leader of the Opposition as an example of someone who, by his own definition—if you listen to what he said in his speech—lacks that integrity that he’s spoken to this morning.

Continuing on, “Back in Ottawa, he was the darling of social conservatives for opposing gay marriage and supporting greater restrictions on abortions. During the PC leadership race, and a subsequent by-election, he opposed updates to Ontario’s embarrassingly outdated sex education curriculum.

“Today, he is renouncing the social conservatism of his past. Without announcing the political conservatism of his future.

“Running for the party leadership, Brown proffered few policy positions, on the grounds that they should emanate from the grassroots, not be imposed from the top down. On the environment, his plan was to have no plan for a carbon tax—a position he quickly reversed after winning the leadership. Brown later announced a policy conference for November, but that” policy conference has now been quietly written in advance—and the conference event itself in the fall has been downgraded to a mere policy rally.

“The bad news is that the PC leader doesn’t do much policy”—if any.

So, in terms of integrity, it would seem to me that as a politician and particularly as a leader of a political party, particularly as the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, there is an obligation on the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition to be honest with the public. How is one honest with the public? One is honest with the public by, among other things, clearly stating your policy alternatives to the governing party. That’s something that he won’t do, so he criticizes the government, says they’re doing the wrong thing, he harps away at it, and when asked, “Well, what do you offer the public?” he’s silent.

That is the fundamental grassroots of integrity: Be honest with the public where you stand on positions. Be honest with your supporters where you stand on positions, because they’re saying to you, “I’ll support you because I identify with your policies.”

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But he’s not honest with his supporters, the leader of the official opposition. He is not honest with his constituents. He is not honest with the public. He is, in effect, in breach of his duties as the leader of the loyal opposition. It requires that he and his political party, if they’re going to criticize government—and they should criticize government; that’s their right. But there is also a corresponding obligation to tell the public what their alternative is. That is being honest. That is being a politician with integrity—which, sadly, he lacks.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Mr. Steve Clark: It’s an honour to rise on behalf of the people of the great riding of Leeds–Grenville to join in the debate on this very important motion.

Actually, Speaker, it’s sad that 14 years of Liberal waste, mismanagement and scandal have brought us to the point where we actually have to have this debate. Under any government with integrity, a motion like this wouldn’t be necessary. You shouldn’t need to have a motion to legislate ethical, transparent and accountable behaviour from your government. People expect that it will come naturally from their elected officials.

But this Liberal regime isn’t any other government, is it? Whether it’s their conduct in the Sudbury by-election, the billion-dollar gas plant fiasco or the many, many, many scandals, they have repeatedly put their self-interest ahead of Ontarians’.

With the Premier’s record-low popularity threatening to plunge into single digits, Ontarians have essentially said they’re fed up with this kind of Liberal behaviour. I suspect that the Premier and her government will pay a very steep price on their shameful record when the people go to the polls in just a little over 12 months. Their reckless behaviour, five OPP investigations and complete disregard for the public purse have done more than I can think to make the Liberal brand tostic—toxic. Sorry, I can’t even—

Interjection: And caustic.

Mr. Steve Clark: And caustic. Caustic and toxic. It’s feeding into this growing cynicism that undermines the faith in this Legislature. It’s a terrible legacy that they are leaving MPPs, regardless of your political stripe, and I think we should all take offence at that. I certainly do. I know the members of my caucus do.

While it’s unfortunate that we need the motion, I have to commend our leader, Patrick Brown, on this motion he’s tabled today. I’m so proud that our party has brought forward the accountability and ethics action plan today because, Speaker, it sends a clear message that if Premier Wynne and her cabinet can’t be counted on to do the right thing, then the Ontario PC Party is working hard, and we’re going to do the right thing: We’re going to bring ethics and accountability and transparency back to Queen’s Park.

I look down at the measures that we’re proposing today, and I know that the members are going to try to heckle these proposed measures, but I’m reminded of the number of times I have raised these issues in question period. Yet time and again, this Premier and her cabinet ministers refuse the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions.

There’s one word that pops up repeatedly when it comes to reviewing this government’s behaviour, and that word is “unprecedented.”

I wrote the Chief Electoral Officer in December 2014, asking for an investigation into the alleged breaches of the Election Act by Liberal operatives in the Sudbury by-election. In his bombshell report a few months later, the Chief Electoral Officer, Greg Essensa, found “apparent contraventions ... of the Election Act.... Consequently, I have reported this matter to the Attorney General of Ontario.” That’s a quote. It was, in Mr. Essensa’s words, “unprecedented.” Never before had Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer investigated—let alone reported—an apparent contravention of the Election Act.

As we all know, this sordid tale only gets worse. For months, the Premier refused to ask her deputy chief of staff, who was at the heart of the OPP probe, to step aside. That kept the scandal right inside the Premier’s office, undermining the public’s confidence in the highest elected office in this province. It wasn’t until OPP laid charges against Pat Sorbara for alleged bribery in the by-election that she stepped aside.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but the situation gets even worse. We learned that the Minister of Energy himself was named in those charges. It was—and here’s that word again—unprecedented. Now, parliamentary custom would dictate an immediate course of action: A minister of the crown would do the right thing and step aside until their name was cleared. There are many circumstances of ministers in far, far less serious circumstances taking that honourable route. I want to mention my colleague the member for Simcoe–Grey, Jim Wilson, who, when a cabinet minister—and also my predecessor in Leeds–Grenville, Bob Runciman, now Senator Runciman. They knew to do the right thing. Both those gentlemen knew to do the right thing. They didn’t need legislation. They didn’t need a motion before the House. They willingly stepped aside temporarily and returned once exonerated.

Liberals used to understand this. The former Minister of Finance, Greg Sorbara, was named in a 2005 RCMP warrant, and he stepped away from cabinet. There’s never any shame, never any dishonour in doing the right thing.

But in the midst of our demands for the Minister of Energy to step down, 15 newspapers, including his hometown Sudbury Star, wrote editorials in agreement. They wrote that the minister “needs to step aside and allow the justice system to take its course. This is, after all, the great province of Ontario, where the rule of law is paramount. We’re not a banana republic.

“In any previous government, the slightest whiff of scandal caused ministers to quit. To have one mentioned in an Election Act trial is unprecedented.” And there’s that word again, Speaker: “unprecedented.”

The editorial concluded:

“Respect the integrity of the justice system and of cabinet.

“Step down, Mr. Thibeault.”

Of course, the minister didn’t do the right thing. The Premier refused to intervene. She refused to demand it. That’s why our accountability and ethics action plan includes that provision, to legislate ministerial responsibility. It’s going to require ministers named in a police investigation to step aside until they’re cleared of any wrongdoing.

Provisions 3 and 4 in our plan go directly to an issue I raised in question period regarding the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change’s former chief of staff. As we know, he left his position as the minister’s right-hand man to take a government relations job with Tesla in February. And guess what happened in February? The government reinstated a subsidy that gave Tesla buyers up to $14,000. That doesn’t pass the smell test. I happen to think Ontarians side with me. It does not pass the smell test, and that’s why we’re committed to strengthening the rules beyond the one-year ban on ministerial staff lobbying their former ministry.

We’re also proposing a measure to require ministers to make public the results of an Integrity Commissioner’s investigation into ministerial staff. That’s not the case, regardless of what was said this morning by the government House leader. I found this out when I wrote the Integrity Commissioner to investigate the situation involving the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change’s former chief of staff. The commissioner responded to say that he could investigate, but it was up to the minister to make any findings public.

I think that’s completely unacceptable. If the Integrity Commissioner files a report with the minister, it shouldn’t go into a filing cabinet. It’s got to be made public at the earliest opportunity, which is what our plan proposes.

Our plan includes much more to start rebuilding the confidence that Ontarians have in the integrity of the government. But I want to make one thing clear: It’s too late for this Premier. I hear every day from people who see through the cynical attempts by this government to fool voters and to say they have changed their ways. The hydro plan: They’ve had plenty of ads to promote the government but no legislation to enact it. Their so-called balanced budget: People on this side of the House have pointed out that there’s a $5-billion hole from it being in balance. Ontarians aren’t buying any of it, because at a fundamental level they’ve lost trust and they’ve lost faith in this government. Life is harder under Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals, and it won’t be better until a government comes forward that will always act in the interests of Ontarians, not in the Liberals’ self-interest.

Our plan sends a clear message that Ontario PCs will rebuild their faith in government and act with integrity. Reasonable people are going to disagree about policy, but the public expects the Premier and ministers to always act with accountability and transparency.

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Our motion is a big step in ensuring that those standards are met. I want to again congratulate Patrick Brown on doing it. But our work won’t be finished until this government is sent packing on June 7, 2018. That’s the goal. That’s what we think should happen. Integrity will then reign, transparency will reign. We will restore it. I hope all members support this motion. It’s the right motion for the right time.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Ms. Cindy Forster: I got elected in 2011 and I often was in awe of members like Rosario Marchese and Michael Prue and Gilles Bisson for the history they had about this place, because they had been here for so many years and, when they got up to debate, how much they actually remembered about both the PC and the Liberal governments of the day.

But today I have some of my own history. I’ve been around here for about seven years. You start to accumulate your own historical data after you’re here for a while. I had a private member’s bill back in 2013, called the Lobbyists Registration Amendment Act, which would have incorporated some of the things that the PCs are looking for today in their motion. It would have tightened up a lot of stuff around lobbyists. I went back and actually reviewed my bill; it was at a period of time when the Liberals were announcing their plans to have a more open government, if you remember that.

We were surprised by that because they had spent two years covering up the gas plant cancellations. They were wiping emails and hard drives, which is still before the courts, I believe. Then we had the Sudbury by-election scandals, bribes. It took months for the government to even remove Pat Sorbara from her position with the government. Now we have the actual sell-off of our public hydro, which has 80% of the public against that sell-off. As of today or tomorrow, whenever that last piece happens, we will no longer have a major stakeholder piece.

The PCs are not blameless or shameless around this whole hydro issue either. Under Ernie Eves, 15 years ago, we had—you know, we talk about the CEO today making $5 million, but back in the mid-1990s, Eleanor Clitheroe actually was making $2.2 million. She was hired to completely privatize the hydro system here in Ontario. And then, after some scandals there, sponsoring sailing dates and lots of public pressure, they fired poor Eleanor and away she went with her $307,000-a-year pension. She was back in the courts in 2010 trying to increase that pension to $464,000 a year, which is probably 20 times what the average public sector worker in this province takes home as a pension after 30 or 40 years of work. So, you know, the Tories have their own history there.

When we talk about lobbying and a higher level of transparency, we also had at that time the PCs, to my right, bringing forward a motion on behalf of EllisDon, which stripped unionized workers of contracts with EllisDon, brokering the deal with the Liberals of the day in a programming motion. Do you remember that historical data? Yes, a programming motion. The PCs were putting forward the motion so that the Liberals wouldn’t be embarrassed by the outcome with the unions, which, in some cases, were supporting them.

So Graham Murray, who we all know—Graham is retired now; he was with Inside Queen’s Park—had this to say about the situation: “It was John Duffy of StrategyCorp, working as a government relations consultant to EllisDon, who devised a classic back-scratching scheme to get it through. The PCs would undertake sponsorship of Bill 74 to relieve the Libs of the embarrassment of taking the lead on another contract-stripping measure, worse even than Bill 115”—the last Bill 115—“and enough of the Libs would take part in the vote to ensure its passage.”

Then we have the issue of the Liberals actually taking on the teachers in the other Bill 115, if you remember; the other Bill 115, where they interfered in the bargaining rights. This has made its way through the courts and now the taxpayers of this fine province of Ontario are going to have to pay out their hard-earned tax dollars to the tune of about $50 million to settle that court case for teachers in this province, who rightly deserve that settlement because their bargaining was interfered with.

Enough on that piece. I want to move on to number 4 in this motion—and please, somebody stop me if I go too long.

Amending the Public Service of Ontario Act to require that the lengthy Integrity Commissioner investigations of ministerial staff be made public: Well, I want to talk a little bit about what’s happening in the Niagara region. The MNR minister was here, and I’m sorry that she left, because I asked her to appoint a supervisor to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. This is all about lack of integrity at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. I just want to get some facts on the record here.

In December 2013, David Barrick, a regional councillor and a sitting NPCA board member, is hired for a newly created and unadvertised senior management position at the NPCA which he did not even apply for. He got the job and has since got a promotion to director. The mandate under the Conservation Authorities Act says that you are not to benefit from your role as a board member at the NPCA.

In April 2014, another sitting board member at the NPCA, Carmen D’Angelo, applies for and is awarded the job of CAO at the NPCA. Carmen D’Angelo was a paramedic and actually came to sit as a board member, I think, for the city of Hamilton. He ends up with the job of CAO for the NPCA while he was a sitting member, a position that he wrote the terms of reference for, two months prior to his appointment to that position, as part of his consulting work. There were 31 applicants for the position, but this guy, who wrote the terms of reference, ends up getting the job.

Then, there’s another regional councillor whose name is Andy Petrowski. You’ll have read about this in the Niagara newspapers today. Andy Petrowski is taking most of the regional councillors and the regional chair in Niagara to court to get an injunction tomorrow to prevent the integrity commissioner at the region of Niagara from releasing a report of which he is the subject of three complaints. There are 17 other complaints against other people at the region of Niagara, and he is actually trying to get an injunction in court. I raise this because it falls right into what is in this motion before us by the PCs.

Then we’ve got people scratching backs, like has happened with the PCs and the Liberals around EllisDon. We’ve got one guy getting a contract with the Niagara regional police board for a survey, and then a friend of his who’s on the police services board getting a contract at the NPCA—not tendered, either one of these.

At the end of the day, of course, all of this comes out in public. We have our member, Ed Smith, a retired military official, being sued by a number of people because, of course, he put this information out into the public.

Is there a need to amend the Public Service of Ontario Act to require the results of Integrity Commissioner investigations of ministerial staff to be made public? Absolutely. Is the cooling-off period, at one year, long enough? I don’t think so. I know that in my bill, I actually suggested that it should be five years and that it should be ministerial staff as well as MPPs. Everyone supported the bill on that day, but here we are in 2017 and we still don’t have any improvements to that.

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The last piece I just want to mention is that the member from Hamilton Mountain did talk about the changes in the fundraising rules. I just want to point out that those changes didn’t take place until the Liberal government made sure that they had filled their coffers.

Those are my remarks for today.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: You know, I’ve been around here since 2010. I have to say, Mr. Speaker—and I would say this of members of all parties—that one of the great privileges of living in Canada is that we have honest government and we have 107 extraordinarily honest individuals in this House. They sacrifice a lot—all of us. I remember what my family went through when I first got elected in Winnipeg. I am not a wealthy person. When you live in an honest political system, you don’t gain from it personally.

But do you pay a price. I remember the time I went out to work one morning as mayor in a Kevlar jacket because the police had come and joined us for breakfast because of the number of attempts that were made on my life. At that time, we were living in an era of much more rampant homophobia, where people thought they could make attempts on your life. So I’ve dealt with some very serious things, and a lot of those things are matters that develop character. My story isn’t better or more special than anyone else’s here.

But we are very lucky, because I worked in parts of the world where there really are corrupt governments. I worked in Ukraine, where I was working on a project to introduce, for the first time in Ukraine, a democratically elected local government and land use in a country where no one had ever owned a home privately. Those struggles are enormous.

What I find most distressing about this piece of legislation is—

Mr. John Yakabuski: It’s a motion.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: What this motion is: It’s a series of false equivalencies and the degradation of this House.

One day, I will retire from this place. I won’t have a pension. I’ve worked mostly in public service. I’ve worked a lot. I could have made other choices in life, and I don’t complain. But I’m also really proud that the heritage of this place is that we are an honest government and that our parents and grandparents fled countries that were either not democratic or were led by fascist or totalitarian governments or completely corrupt regimes.

We have the toughest legislation I can find in the world. I was in California and I was asked a question about it. People could not believe—they had never heard of a jurisdiction where elected officials couldn’t attend their own fundraisers. They thought this was comical. They said, “Compared to the money in the United States,” where the congressman I met has to raise about $6 million every two years without restrictions on it—he says, “Do you want to understand how money talks? You guys have to raise $60,000 to $80,000 to run in a seat if you’re lucky, and that doesn’t buy you much influence.”

So I’m very disappointed in the official opposition, because of all the serious issues facing Ontarians right now, the one issue that this House has gone further on than any other is in tightening up the accountability and transparency to a place where many of our peers view our legislation to the point of actually being absurd. We have gone so far that we even get the butt of jokes when we travel.

If anyone believes the member from Hamilton Mountain—she is an honest person. We can have differences. But it is absolutely astonishing to me, what I see people put up, when I talk to people’s families, when I look at my spouse, who served in the Canadian military at a time when you couldn’t be openly gay and put his life on the line. When I think of all of the sacrifices he made, I find this so degrading, I find it so insulting to the character of people here, because it assumes somehow that we can’t trust each other or that somehow I, as a minister, am going to profit off some personal relationship in a province—

Interjection.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: —where I can’t even have a conversation without being interrupted by someone who should listen a little more and talk a little less.

Miss Monique Taylor: Just like the respect I got when I was speaking. I remember.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I don’t interrupt you.

We can’t take corporate and union donations. We’ve got very severe caps on it. It’s a pretty tight system.

But what is the distraction from? Why do they want it always off on a different channel?

This has been a darn good government, and it’s leaving a legacy unlike many others.

When I used to come to Toronto, the health care infrastructure out the front door here was not in great shape. The MaRS centre didn’t exist; this government put that in, took some risks, tried some models. It didn’t work out perfectly. But the research cluster there is one of the best in the world. Right behind it is the SickKids research centre, and around the corner, at St. Mike’s, is the Li Ka Shing centre, and across the street is the Princess Margaret research centre. In seven or eight years, we have gone to having the largest, most advanced research cluster in the world, and there are all kinds of children and seniors who have better health care.

One of my staff who recently left has a spouse who struggles with tumours. The breakthroughs that have happened in the last three years are the differences between some of my friends living and not living. That’s an extraordinary accomplishment.

Toronto Rehab has been rebuilt and expanded. St. Mike’s is undergoing a $750-million expansion right now.

The Munk centre—talk to Bob Bell, our deputy minister, about how many billions of dollars have gone into the UHN system. My partner is an operating room nurse at Toronto Western. He works in the best facilities in the world, with what is arguably the best neurosurgical team. That building is twice the size it was. Those operating rooms are brand new.

Mount Sinai, one of the most advanced places in orthopedics, has a brand new research centre and brand new buildings. Toronto Rehab has brand new buildings. Princess Margaret has brand new buildings. Women’s College across the street has a brand new hospital.

Mr. Vic Dhillon: Peel Memorial hospital in Brampton.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I won’t even get outside my own constituency. I’ll let others do that. I’m not even finished yet.

The Grace hospital is brand new.

Every single hospital—nine hospitals, over $12 billion of investment in my constituency in the last decade—completely rebuilt. No government since John Robarts and Drew made the investments in health care. Is that for my constituents? No. You can tell by the helicopters that fly in and out of there that that is the health care biomedical machine for the province. No one has ever invested in that. That’s why we keep getting re-elected, because of that.

Go to the University of Toronto, from the pharmacy school to the brand new engineering school. U of T has not seen the level of investment, again, since the 1950s and 1960s, have we built out the capacity of that place. But that would involve actually acknowledging the government. I make the point that the Robarts government was the last government to spend 5% on infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, we have the new student centre at Ryerson. We built out three new buildings at Ryerson. We have an indigenous centre at Ryerson. We have a brand new George Brown campus on the waterfront, which is one of about 30 brand new campuses, with one of the best nursing schools. It is architecturally winning. That was all done through honest RFP, brilliantly managed by Infrastructure Ontario, in what is one of the most award-winning capital and contracting models that is being implemented—not just because it’s free of bias and corruption, but because it creates a value proposition and allows more buildings to be built faster and on budget than just about any other system in the world. That is the legacy of this government.

We have a new YMCA. We have a partnership that has put $1.5 billion into Regent Park, which was rotting for 50 years and no one did anything about it. There is a birthing centre and an aquatic centre, and a music school in the Daniels centre, where you see kids learning culture and celebrating culture. It’s home to about a dozen different youth organizations lifting people out of poverty.

Pathways to Education—$28 million—has probably seen one of the biggest uplifts in getting low-income people in that.

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Then there’s the tuition. We are now finding in my constituency that we haven’t found a family yet whose income is under $80,000 that isn’t getting free tuition, and we’ve had several hundred people through that. Do you know what that is?

And graduation rates from every school, from the Nelson Mandela school to the new Catholic school—the education infrastructure in my community—kids who have been going through crappy buildings are now, for the first time in a generation, seeing schools that are enormously brand new with incredible facilities. We have hundreds more schools—and it’s challenging because you’re going through population moves and you see that.

But do you know why the NDP is the third party? Because you can listen to them in the background, Mr. Speaker.

There is no doubt right now that, by most independent evaluations, we have the best public education system in the English-speaking world. I was in the United States, recently, at a conference, and three different speakers cited Ontario as having the best graduation rate and the best system in the English-speaking world. This was a conference of international experts. But if you listen to the debate in this House, Mr. Speaker, you would think the kids were on the street, the health care system was in crisis and the graduation rate must be about 20%.

It is not perfect, Mr. Speaker, but there is absolutely no place I would rather live than Ontario. There is no place with a fairer tax system. There is no place with a better health care system. There is no place where my family—and my child could actually now get drugs, because I have a child who has severe health challenges, and I, in Manitoba, struggled to pay his drug bills.

Our Premier led a national discussion starting in Ontario on pensions, and we won that nationally. Had it not been for Kathleen Wynne, we would not have a national pension plan. She took incredible criticism for that.

We’re the lead in direct foreign investment. We attract more capital than California right now; we finally pushed them out of first place. Little Ontario, with 14 million people, just kicked California’s butt on direct foreign investment.

Some 80% of the jobs that were created—almost a million, if you want it use the actual number; net, about 750,000—are full-time. Three quarters are in the private sector. Over 80% of them are above the median range. That is not just the best job creation record in the world that I’m aware of right now—outside of the China engine, which is a bit unique—but no one comes close. Our GDP growth is better than the G7. Little Ontario: twice what the US is, and leading Canada.

If anyone ever sits over here, and in 10 years can describe the record that I’ve just described, you would probably be a better government than we have been or at least as good. But I can’t think of a government since the 1960s and the early years of the Big Blue Machine that had that kind of record—because, to be fair, Drew, Frost and Robarts did exactly what we did. That was the age of building the seaway. The only other subways that were ever built in this province were built in that era, in the 1950s and 1960s. This is the first generation where we’re building four times as many kilometres of subways as they were building back then, but there was nothing for 40 years.

For 40 years, we were spending 25% of what other provinces were spending on energy infrastructure—25%—and that was under parties of all power, all colour, here. You want to know why you’ve got a problem with transmission lines and you have to massively repair nuclear plants? Because every party in this House for 40 years didn’t invest in any of that infrastructure. But no one wants to talk about that.

When I leave this place, Mr. Speaker, there are two things that I’m going to remember: One—

Mr. Steve Clark: Scandal and waste.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I never ever, ever, ever saw scandal and waste in this government; I saw honest mistakes. Nor did I see it in previous governments. I think people tried to do things.

They love to talk about the gas plants, Mr. Speaker, but the joke about that—let’s just take that “scandal and waste” thing that they do all the time that I just find ridiculous. That was during one of my first elections. I had a friend who was a volunteer who phoned me and said, “The Tories just announced that they would cancel the gas plant, and there’s a big debate going on whether we should do that too.” Then, the NDP announced they were going to cancel the gas plant.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: No, we never said that.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Oh, yes, of course: They never said that. That is the mantra of the third party: “We never said that. I wasn’t there. I didn’t see it. I didn’t hear it.”

Mr. Speaker, that was a decision that was being made because every party judged that people didn’t want that and that there were problems. You all ran on the same thing. Have a little humility and dignity and decency, at least, to own your own stuff. If you didn’t make the promise, then I could understand the sanctimony. But you were going to do exactly the same thing, and none of you had a clue of what it may cost when you made the commitment. But when you were knocking on doors, you heard it loud and clear from the public.

The third party, in conclusion, loves to talk about polls: “80% of people believe this, therefore you must do it”; or “51.2% of people do it; you’ve got to do it, because we’re democratic.” If Bill Davis had listened to polls, we wouldn’t have a college system, because as the Toronto Star said when Centennial College opened—“universities for dumb people” is what the media said but Bill Davis said, “No. Colleges are important.”

One of the most important things that happened in the last century was that Bill Davis introduced the college system. If you want to know why we have a skilled workforce, it is because of that vision of leadership that that party hasn’t seen in 40 years.

Now they like to nitpick. But, Mr. Speaker, we have 50, 60 years of honest government. We have a history, from the day I was born, of excellent Premiers in this province. I would have been proud to serve under just about every one of them. It’s not that I agreed with all of them, but I don’t think that any of them were ever on the take, were ever corrupt.

I have never seen a period in history where we have so denigrated our leadership, where we in this House say things about each other and assign motives that we all know are not true. No one in this House, I don’t believe, while we may disagree, actually proposes bills or legislation because they don’t believe it. There aren’t insiders. No party has had friends—you can’t point to a whole lot of people who are like that. People have been honest in this government, and they’ve been honest when the parties opposite have been here.

Mike Harris was a very determined guy who had a view that many of us may disagree with, but no one should ever doubt that he didn’t actually come here with the full force of his values and convictions—nor Bob Rae, nor David Peterson, nor Frank Miller.

We live in a country that is a blessed democracy, that is about as far away from corrupt and self-serving as you can get. As my mother always said, “Just listen for the person who has no manners in the crowd, because that’s the person that doth protest too much.” My mom’s not usually wrong, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Mr. John Yakabuski: Well, well, well. I never heard a word from the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change about the motion at all. But I heard about this amazing utopia that his party has built since he got here in 2010. Everything must be perfect.

In fact, I would expect, then, that this government would be sailing in the polls at the highest approval ratings ever. But that’s not the case, and it’s not because of what’s happened in this Legislature or what’s been said in this Legislature, or what bills or motions have been debated in this Legislature. The public have come to their conclusions on their own, based on the actions of this government, not on the actions of the opposition.

While it is our job to point out the flaws of the government, I can assure you that none of the Liberal members on that other side will be travelling through Ontario telling people what’s wrong with the new budget; that’s our job, and we will be. They will be going door to door in their ridings and touring all across Ontario, telling them that this is the best budget that we’ve ever seen, because they’re on the government side and they want people to support the budget. And they want the members of this House to support the budget.

But what I heard from the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is just nothing but empty rhetoric, in hopes that somehow—I’m not sure who he thinks he’s convincing; he’s certainly not convincing the people on this side of the House. I was here before he got here. My colleague from Leeds–Grenville, who spoke earlier, was here before he got here. My colleague down the line has been here since 1990; he’s seen it all.

Mr. Steve Clark: I think he was here before me.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Yes, he was definitely here before you.

The motion today is a motion to hold the government to account for its actions over the past 14 years. He talks about integrity and everybody’s—I believe everybody comes here with the right motives, but it wasn’t Steve Clark or John Yakabuski who initiated OPP investigations. The OPP are independent.

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Mr. Bob Delaney: Actually, it was.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: It was.

Mr. John Yakabuski: No, no. We can ask for the OPP to look into things, but the OPP is an independent body and they’re not going to do an investigation unless they feel it’s warranted.

But this is a government that is under, as my colleague used the word so appropriately—I’m not sure how many times he used the word “unprecedented.” Unprecedented. No government in the history of this province, in fact in the history of our country, has ever—well, no other province could be under five OPP investigations. We understand that the Ontario Provincial Police is only in Ontario. But no government across this country has been under five police investigations regardless of the force that was doing the investigation. This government can hide from that if they want, but that is a matter of accountability and ethics.

The Minister of Climate Change, who talked oh so eloquently—and I thought he was going to cry for a minute there. He talked about all of the wonderful motives. Well, if he wants to be completely transparent and accountable to the Legislature, perhaps he should release the Integrity Commissioner’s report on his own former chief of staff. His former chief of staff—and this is why this is in this motion; I’ll come back to it in a minute.

In the motion, it says, “Expand the one-year lobbying cooling-off period to prohibit former ministerial staff from lobbying all government ministries”—all government ministries—“on behalf of companies their former ministry did business with” and “Amending the Public Service of Ontario Act to require the results of Integrity Commissioner investigations of ministerial staff to be made public.”

You see, that comes right home to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, because it was his chief of staff who left his job as chief of staff to the minister and almost immediately took a job with Tesla. Tesla manufactures electric automobiles that are in some cases worth $150,000. So he goes to work for Tesla.

The government, years ago, when they brought in the electric car or hybrid car rebate, established a ceiling of $14,000. But then they realized, “What are we doing? We’re giving people who can afford an automobile that is much more than the average incomes of people—we’re giving them a $14,000 rebate?” If you can afford a Tesla, you don’t need the poor widow who’s living on a pension to be covering some of your cost of that car. The government correctly and wisely reduced the rebate so that cars of that amount of money weren’t eligible for the same amount of rebate. That made sense, and that was this government.

Now, isn’t it just maybe a little more than passing strange that when his former chief of staff went to work for Tesla lobbying—I know it comes out of the Ministry of Transportation, but all of a sudden, Tesla is now eligible to get that full $14,000 rebate again. As my colleague from Leeds–Grenville says, that just doesn’t pass the smell test.

Those kinds of activities and the questionable behaviour surrounding them would be covered by that part of this motion.

An investigation at the Integrity Commissioner’s office was initiated, but when it came time that we were to get the results of that, we were told that only the minister could make the results of the investigation public. So I would ask the Minister of the Environment, if he wants to talk about all the integrity and all of the high level of ethical standards that he upholds and believes in—as I would say if I was from Missouri, “Show me.” Show me by releasing the results of the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation. Release that report so that the public can make their own determination. Doesn’t it make sense, Speaker, that if there’s nothing to hide, you would then feel that that report would be something that fully exonerates you and your former chief of staff? You would want to release it to the public. You would want to get that message out. You would want to get that information out so that people could see with their own eyes, by reading that report, and knowing that nothing untoward took place. That’s what you would want to do.

Let’s talk about ministerial responsibility. This motion here would make it clear that if a minister became the subject of an investigation—and we’re even saying “named in a police investigation.” That’s a bar that goes pretty high: “Named in a police investigation.”

I can talk to you about my former colleague Bob Runciman and my current colleague the member for Simcoe–Grey, who were never subjects of a police investigation. Never were they the subject, or ever named, in a police investigation, but they stepped aside when there was even the whiff—even the whiff—of any kind of ministerial responsibility on an action that should not have taken place. Just the naming of someone was enough for those ministers to step aside until such time as an investigation could be completed. Then, once they were exonerated and cleared, they were able to return to cabinet. Mr. Wilson still sits here in this House and the Honourable Bob Runciman is a member of the Senate of Canada. Even a whiff of a scandal and they stepped aside.

In the case of the Minister of Energy, it was suggested to him by even 15 editorials that he should step aside. And why wouldn’t he have stepped aside? Because this Premier didn’t want that to happen, because she believes that if she can maintain this façade of everybody acting in the best interests of Ontario, that somehow she’ll weather this storm and things will be all right in June 2018.

The minister is right and the member for Leeds–Grenville is right: The people will be the final arbiters. If this government wants to send a message to the people that they should be re-elected, then they should vote for this motion. Vote for this motion and stand up and uphold the edicts in this motion so that the people can say, “We’re moving in the right direction when it comes to the ethical standards of government.” If they choose to vote against the motion, then they’ve made up their mind that they do not want the people of Ontario to have a government that is accountable.

What about government advertising? There are so many things that I haven’t even gotten into. They brought in legislation because they were going to set the bar higher than any government before them when Dalton McGuinty became Premier. They were going to set a bar so that advertisements that involve the government—government advertising—would have to be vetted and approved by the Auditor General. They brought in the rule. They changed the old rule and strengthened it, and they were lauded for it.

But you see, as things started to get a little shaky for them, I think they would have said something like this around the cabinet table: “We’re going to have to spend a lot more of the taxpayers’ dollars making us look good.” So they changed their own law. They had a law that required the Auditor General to vet and approve their ads, and they changed it so that she basically has nothing to say anymore. She can’t stop any kind of ad.

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That’s why you had an ad earlier this year telling the people how wonderful the government was that they were giving them a rebate on their hydro bills. Interestingly, no one had to apply for this rebate. No one will have to apply; it will happen on your bills. Yet the government felt they had to go and spend in excess of $1 million to advertise that fact.

Yet in all of the past increases—and you have to remember, Speaker, in 2003, when they became the government, the cost of electricity was 4.3 cents a kilowatt hour; it’s now over 18 cents at peak—never once did they ever advertise, “Effective May 1, you will be having an increase,” or, “Effective November 1, you will be having an increase.”

They didn’t feel the need to inform the people when they were increasing their rates, but when they were going to reduce them, that was time to put a feather in the cap of the government at the people’s expense.

Well, this motion would change that as well. This motion would force them to be accountable to the people. I could go on and on and on when it comes to the integrity in government and this government. But I have another colleague who, I know, does want to speak to this motion.

Speaker, all I’m asking for is for the members on the government’s side—look inside and ask yourself if there’s a single line in this motion that a government of integrity could not support. Ask yourself that question, and I know that this motion will be approved unanimously later today.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Mr. Taras Natyshak: It’s an interesting debate today, one that I didn’t anticipate talking about, because it requires us to be a little bit revisionist in our memory here at Queen’s Park. It’s one that, since I was elected, I think has consumed a lot of the debate and has added to the cynicism of the electorate out there in our communities. I’m not really sure if they believe anything that comes out of this place any longer—

Mr. Ted McMeekin: From anybody.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: —from anybody. That’s the real damage that happens when governments aren’t accountable and water down accountability measures and aren’t transparent in their operations. I guess that’s what brings us to the need to debate this on this motion here today by the Progressive Conservatives.

I read the motion, and there’s not much in here that I can’t agree with. It’s pretty straightforward: “Close the loophole on ministers fundraising from their own ministerial stakeholders.… Make it illegal for ministers to have fundraising targets.” I think that that’s reasonable. You would want your ministers to have no fundraising targets. You would want them to be concentrated on the job at hand, the task at hand, which is supporting their communities through their various ministries and listening to the needs and also listening to the opposition.

But as I try to jog my memory, I put myself in the shoes of those folks in our communities that trust in us. I think there is a measure of frustration, and I think that they do want to have the certainty that the operations of this place are above board and that all protective measures are in place so that we aren’t self-governing our operations.

We do need third-party independent oversight in this place sometimes, and that’s why we have various officers of the Legislature: the Ombudsman; the Integrity Commissioner; the Financial Accountability Officer, who is a construct of New Democratic policies, one that that we proposed and fought for and forced the government to initiate and that was initially born out of the scandals that we have seen come through this place.

I know that it is important, but I question if it is, at this very moment in time, the most important endeavour that we could undertake in this House at this moment, given that it is a motion. It’s non-binding.

It signifies the intention or the will of the House. I certainly will support it. Our caucus will be supporting it.

But could the Conservatives not have used their time potentially to address and initiate legislation that would have made a difference for the lives of the people who come in and out of this place every day; for those with developmental issues, disabilities, who are here today lobbying on behalf of their friends and their colleagues and their neighbours; for those who are talking about affordable housing, who are talking about employment access and supports and raising the level of the Ontario Disability Support Program? These folks travelled here today expecting us to talk about their issues, to focus on them. Instead, we’re focusing on a political party and their transgressions over the years. And that’s good, that’s right, and it’s part of our job. But at some point, people are frustrated enough that they’re going to throw all of us out of this House, and I won’t blame them. You can’t blame them, because when you have just a legacy of failures and actions that are self-serving, it speaks to the intent and it speaks to the priorities of the government of the day.

We know—we can rhyme them off: Ornge air ambulance, eHealth, gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga. But I would be remiss if I didn’t level the blame accordingly and fairly. I’m not a historical expert here, but I’m sure that there have been, again, transgressions within all parties. I certainly will point at the federal level. The current leader of the Progressive Conservatives was a member of the federal Conservative Party, and under their tenure, they had the in-and-out scandal. We remember that. They had the Mike Duffy Senate scandal. How about the point person for the Conservative Party at that time on ethics and accountability? His name was Dean Del Mastro. For the robocall scandal, he spent some time in jail for his ethical transgressions. Mr. Del Mastro was on the ethics committee, appointed by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but missed 26 consecutive meetings on that committee. So his commitment to ethics was apparent in his lack of attendance, and it ultimately cost him re-election. He spent some time and, I’m sure, paid a price for that.

But again, if this is what we focus on and this is what consumes our time here, how can you fault people for tuning out? Sometimes you wonder if that’s the intent of governments: Get the populace so frustrated and so cynical that they don’t pay attention anymore. That’s where it frustrates us, as New Democrats, because each and every day, we fight to bring those issues to the forefront on behalf of our constituents, yet we’ve got, really, two parties that seem to be focused on their own political success and advantage over the other. I would much rather us be talking about reforms to the WSIB in this House right now, where people are calling my office at their wits’ end, without anywhere to turn, absolutely being crushed by a system that was designed by both political parties here, the Conservatives and the Liberals.

I would point to the disaster that was created when the Liberal government dismantled and destroyed the horse-racing industry. I would point to $9 billion in wasted funds through the initiation and the use of public-private partnerships, P3s, in financing all of their infrastructure wishes and dreams—$9 billion. They’ll throw billions of dollars out there, but without the accountability that traditional models of financing would give. That is an enormous amount of waste. I point to the crisis in mental health care that exists, that is creating a crisis in our corrections system and in our health care system. And of course, let’s not forget families across this province who struggle in dealing with autistic children and the supports they require. That’s, to me, a scandal in the way this government has handled that.

I don’t think anyone is without blame in this House, but I think we are definitely to be faulted if we aren’t using our utmost efforts, and we should be criticized if we aren’t focusing on the needs of the people of this province. They’re the ones who should come first. They’re the ones who sent us here to advocate on their behalf. Playing political games for political advantage only adds to their cynicism and lack of hope in the entire process.

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I hope that we get back very soon—like, I’m talking minutes—get through this debate and get back to focusing on the needs of the people, because that is indeed what we were sent here to do.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Mr. Bob Delaney: It’s my pleasure to add a few comments to what I would call an omnibus opposition motion.

I’m sure that in the PC staff rooms, they were thinking to themselves, “Hey, we’ve got an opposition motion coming up. What are we going to do?” And they said, “Well, I don’t know. What can you do? Can you criticize the government for bringing in an Ontario pension?”

“Oh, no, that really wouldn’t look too good on us.”

“Well, how about for effectively making post-secondary education free for families of under $50,000 or $60,000?”

“Well, no, that probably wouldn’t look too good on us.”

“Well, what about pharmacare? Should we bring in an opposition motion criticizing them on pharmacare?”

“Well, that wouldn’t look too good on us.”

So they came up with this other one here, which is this compendium of just about every rant they’ve gone on. They thought to themselves, “Well, maybe we can sound a little sanctimonious, and we’ll just get past it. It’s the last opposition motion before the House rises, and nobody will remember this.” It does give us an opportunity to comment on it and talk about it.

There’s one comment in here that, substantively, I really, really take exception to. It refers to the activities of the Integrity Commissioner and to the outcome of their investigations. The whole point and purpose of the Integrity Commissioner is that there is someone whom members and ministerial staff can go to on a confidential basis to sit down and say, “Let me talk to you. Here’s the situation that I’m in. I just need another opinion in here, and an opinion from someone with some legal training.”

The whole idea here is that the Integrity Commissioner will sit down, think about it, write you a letter back and either say, “You’re okay,” or, “I recommend you either do something differently or not do this at all.”

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: It’s a very helpful service.

Mr. Bob Delaney: As the minister in front of me points out, it’s not merely a helpful service; it’s an essential service. In government, we’re asked to be the vanguard of the future, on the bow wave of making the changes for people who have sent us all here—Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats—saying, “We don’t have the time and, frankly, the ability to sit here and micromanage the process of taking our land of Ontario and bringing it further into the 21st century, but we’re electing you to be our community’s voice and to join with 106 other community voices. In between elections, set aside the campaign, put down the party colours, and let’s talk about governing the province.”

When we get down to it, our function here is to envision what that change is, try to imagine how we’re going to get there, find some support for it, put together a plan to take us from where we were or where we are to where we’d like to be and, as we go forward, to adjust that plan. We do that rather well in Ontario. We don’t do it perfectly, and there’s not a jurisdiction on earth that does it perfectly. In the process of doing this, we often have to adjust those plans.

The PCs have gone on about some of the things that have happened on the watch of our government, none of which were illegal. Now let’s talk about something that’s not done now, hasn’t been done for more than a generation, but once was commonplace practice on the watch of former PC governments. That is that every single job in the Liquor Control Board of Ontario used to be an appointment by order in council. In other words, before you got a job to stock the shelves, it used to be that somebody down the hall in the Premier’s office, in the Cabinet room, had to say, “You know, I approve of this person,” which is totally, completely, in the present context, inappropriate, unfair and regressive. In due time, when that was pointed out—and I’m going to have to say that I believe the change occurred during the watch of the NDP government in the 1990 to 1995 era. The Premier of the day—it wasn’t as if he was coming at the former government, but—when confronted with this, said, “We have to do what? That’s bizarre. We’re going to change that.”

That’s something that, in the context of the times, as they evolved, we looked at and said, “However we feel about it today, and while we felt it wasn’t the right way to use a public appointment, in its time, it wasn’t wrong, but we do feel that it should be changed.”

They’ve talked about measures that have happened on the watch of our government and of their government before us and of the NDP government before them, and they’ve said, “Should we still be doing this, that or the next thing?” A lot of those discussions, particularly in the realm of fundraising, took place in this chamber. We looked ourselves in the mirror and said, “Maybe we should not have been doing some of that stuff.” There are some of those changes that I look at and think to myself, “I don’t get why I can’t attend my own fundraisers.” And I still don’t get why I can’t attend my own fundraisers, but let’s set that aside.

To go back to the Integrity Commissioner, I think, if the Integrity Commissioner is there to offer you advice, then that advice is subject to the equivalent of solicitor-client privilege. In the absence of that, it would require each party and the civil service to have somebody else that they could go to before they went to the Integrity Commissioner, thus adding a completely redundant, absolutely useless level of bureaucracy where it’s absolutely, positively not needed at all, just to make sure that, if somebody discusses something that’s sensitive—before you bring it to the Integrity Commissioner, where it would be released to the public—maybe you should have your pre-meeting with whoever would replace the Integrity Commissioner, in essence resolving the problem before it goes to the Integrity Commissioner, which means: Why do you have an Integrity Commissioner at all? But that’s just part of this omnibus PC opposition day motion, which not a lot of thought went into. It brings to mind some of the other things that have happened.

When our government came into office nearly 14 years ago, only two thirds of Ontario’s secondary school students were graduating. If that was their benchmark—and I’m not sure that it was; I wasn’t in government at that time—it was certainly a very low bar to hurdle over. Today, seven eighths of students who start in Ontario secondary schools finish with an Ontario secondary school diploma.

About seven years ago, for the first time, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released a report—and the findings remain true today—that said that Ontario has the best education system in the English-speaking world. That’s interesting. At the time, I was the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education. I was also, during that period, chairing the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly. I thought to myself, “What are those qualifying words all about: in the English-speaking world?” I actually went back and I asked at the ministry, “So who’s better than us?” It turned out that Ontario, worldwide, was actually fourth. Number one, which remains true today, is Finland; number two was Singapore; number three was South Korea; and number four was Ontario, Canada. The Canadian provinces were ranked individually because education is a matter of provincial jurisdiction in Canada rather than federal jurisdiction as it is in many other places.

As it happened, a few weeks later, there was a delegation here from Scandinavia. I brought aside a couple of the guys from Finland, and I discussed the report. I said, “So tell me about your education system.” It was almost exactly the same. The standards were the same; the means of instructions were the same; the curriculum was substantially the same: The parallels just piled one on top of the other. Almost as a throwaway, the gentleman who was talking to me said, “Of course, when our secondary school students graduate, we expect them to be able to communicate in the regions around us.” I said, “What does that mean?” He said, “Well, of course, in addition to their own language of Finnish, they have to at least be conversant in Russian, German, Swedish and English.” Five languages. I thought, “Oh, okay, there’s a difference.”

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At home, we have some very good friends, a family originally from Singapore. One night, we were having dinner with them, and I related this conversation. My friend David said, “Oh, yes, it’s actually very similar to Singapore, where, in Singapore, in addition to being able to speak your own language of Malay, you have to be conversant in the languages commonly in use around you: Mandarin and English.” That’s three.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: And Tamil.

Mr. Bob Delaney: My colleague from Toronto Centre mentions Tamil because there’s a large East Indian population, but the ones that mattered in their education system were Mandarin, English and Malay. So I thought, “Okay, that’s the second one.”

Two years and a bit ago, I had a chance to visit South Korea. In addition to talking with some of their energy people, I arranged to talk with some of their educators, and without telling them what I was looking for, I wanted to step them through the similarities between Ontario and South Korea. Finally, one of them just volunteered the information and said, “Oh, yes, at high school graduation, of course our kids have to be able to speak Korean, but they’ve also got to speak the languages we use around us.” I said, “Which are?” They said, “Well, Japanese and English. Of course, in Ontario, you’ve got to speak English.”

It was right around that time that some of the research was released, which has since been validated and repeated, that showed that if you can speak more than one language—and it doesn’t really matter which languages—not only are you in general a smarter person, you have a greater capacity to learn and a measurably greater capacity to resolve inconsistencies because you have developed an ability to see the world from the vantage point of two different languages.

One of the lessons from that is that as good as we are—and here in Ontario, we’ve gotten pretty good at many of the things we do—there’s a lot of room for us to get a lot better. One of the best ways of getting better has always been to say, “We’re not going to be afraid of the future. We’re not going to be afraid to make a mistake. We’re not going to be afraid to talk about our plans here in this House before people who are going to do it in an adversarial fashion,” which in my nearly 14 years here, I’ve become accustomed to from men and women whom I’ve grown, in many cases, to both respect and like across the floor, and be able to say truthfully that some of the ladies and gentlemen whom I would run against for a period of a month or two every fourth year as colleagues in government, they’re smart people, they’re honest people, they’re decent people.

They share with our side in government a passionate view of the kind of province that we want to create in British Columbia, the kind of people that we want to attract, the kind of prosperity that we all want to share. Whether they’re criticizing the actions of the government, which I think they should focus on in considering the actions of the government, one thing that we should not get into is to personalize it into calling into account the ethics and the morals and the values of the people who send us here. Because each person that I look at who is sitting on the other side has been sent here with the full confidence of the riding that elected them. From their vantage point, who are they to say to people in Lisgar, Meadowvale and Streetsville in the city of Mississauga, “Here’s why I disagree with Bob Delaney...”? They can take any policy, any remark that I make or any speech that I stand up and make or any position I take on behalf of the ministry that I serve; that’s fair game. But in the same way that I don’t criticize them as individuals, I don’t think this motion should be supported, because what this motion says is that it’s not about the work we’re here to do, it’s not about the people we’re here to serve and it’s not about the province we’re here to build.

This motion says to this Legislature that this is all about finding fault with the ladies and gentlemen who came here to serve all 13.5 million of us and, for that reason, Speaker, I don’t believe this motion deserves the support of this Legislature and it’s the reason that I’m going to vote against it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Mrs. Julia Munro: It’s a pleasure to be able to take a few minutes and make a couple of comments with regard to today’s debate and the opposition day motion. One of the things that struck me when I read this was, thinking back on individual events that have taken place and the manner in which this government has responded and, in many cases, questioned the integrity of the government. Today’s debate outlines specific areas where the government is called to task, to create an action plan and to enhance fairness in politics and government.

I want to just say on that issue alone that the most important job that we can do in this assembly is to make sure that the people of Ontario have reason to feel confident in the decision-making that is made, that they have confidence in the manner in which it has been made and that they trust government. Certainly, there are examples that we look at in today’s debate which question the opportunity to have any sense of confidence.

I think the first one that strikes me in that list is the five OPP investigations going on. It’s an unprecedented breach of accountable government. I remember that earlier in the debate, one of my caucus colleagues referred to things being “unprecedented,” and I thought, “Well, I’ll be coming along at the end of this opportunity today and I will use the same language.”

Ministerial responsibility is one of our democratic traditions. Unfortunately, it is a tradition that this government chooses not to follow. I never thought I would see the day that we would even need to discuss legislating on it, and yet here we are.

We all know that the current Minister of Energy “sought certain benefits” when he agreed to run in the Sudbury by-election. Yet, as Minister of Energy, he refused to resign or step aside while the investigation was under way. I remember when cabinet ministers understood the importance of integrity. Ministers named in police investigations must temporarily step aside until their names are cleared. It’s just that simple.

I also want to shine a light on the restoration of the Auditor General’s full oversight of government advertising. Some of you may know that as I have sat in public accounts for several years, I have a special interest in understanding the Auditor General’s responsibility. The government does have a role in advertising, but these advertisements should be in the public interest and in the form of public service announcements, something along the lines of the importance of getting a flu shot, how to enrol your child in kindergarten, and the dangers of fentanyl. For years, the auditor would approve these advertisements to prevent partisanship. This government has removed the oversight and rewritten the rules. Now they can use public funds to create promotional advertisements. Think about the recent hydro and ORPP ads. That isn’t right. Taxpayers deserve better.

In the few moments that I have, I want to particularly draw attention—although it’s not directly part of this opposition motion—to the letter that was sent out, the statement from Ontario’s independent legislative officers. Again, this was unprecedented:

“The officers report to the assembly, not to the government of the day, and provide independent, expert reports and analysis of government operations and service delivery. We take seriously the legislated authority to hold government and provincial agencies and corporations accountable on behalf of the Legislature and all Ontarians.”

This letter was signed by all of Ontario’s officers of the assembly. They say in their letter that it is their work that “depends first and foremost on their independence from government. This principle is sacrosanct because there is value to independence, to the public trust in government.”

Today’s debate has taken a broad look at areas that are missing in the opportunities for transparency and accountability. When you lose track of those, you lose democracy.

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Mme France Gélinas: It was rather interesting listening to everybody. I too am a little bit surprised that we have to talk about the scandals, but really, we have to. I have been here for about 10 years. I can tell you that eHealth still lingers on in our health care system. I can tell you that the Sudbury bribery scandal is still fully there in Sudbury, that the damage continues to be done. I also want to talk about the Ornge air ambulance scandal.

When you have a document such as the one I have right now in front of me from the Ontario Court of Justice of the province of Ontario—this is the information of Shawn G. Evans of the Ontario Provincial Police. He’s a police officer. He writes:

“I have reasonable and probable grounds to believe and do believe that ... Patricia Sorbara, between the 19th day of November, 2014 and the 6th day of February, 2015, in the City of Sudbury and elsewhere in Ontario, did directly or indirectly give, procure or promise or agree to procure an office or employment to induce a person, to wit, Glenn Thibeault, to become a candidate, contrary to section 96.1(e) of the Election Act, R.S.O 1990, Chapter E.6, thereby committing an offence pursuant to section 97 of the Election Act, R.S.O 1990, Chapter E.6; and further, that the said Patricia Sorbara committed the offence knowingly, and is thereby guilty of a corrupt practice, as provided by section 97.1 of the Election Act, R.S.O 1990, Chapter E.6, and is liable to the increased penalties provided for by section 97.1 of the Election Act....”

This is still very much alive in Sudbury. When something like this happens, when a scandal like this happens, it shakes the confidence of the voters. It shook the confidence of the people of Sudbury that our electoral process was fair, that it was going to be open to all.

Now we have those good people, including Gerry Lougheed, who are going to go to trial this fall. This is terrible, Speaker. This is a scandal, and it tarnishes all of us, no matter who we are.

I also wanted to talk about Ornge. I spent over two years of my life looking at Ornge with Frank Klees from the Conservative Party. Basically, what Dr. Mazza did—he drove our air ambulance service that used to be the best in the world into the ground. What is really sad to say is that what happened under his leadership was really a symptom of a bigger problem. The bigger problem was the Liberals’ appalling lack of oversight. Why was it that many, many red flags were put in front of them, letters were written to them, dozens of whistle-blowers went to them—my leader at the time, Howard Hampton, spent an entire afternoon questioning the Minister of Health about Ornge because the whistle-blower had come to us again, and they ignored it all.

For years and years, they allowed this man to drive the service into the ground. Why, Speaker? Because of Alfred Apps. Alfred Apps was the president of the federal Liberal Party. Alfred had been retained by Ornge to be their spokesperson whenever they went and saw the Liberals. The Liberals saw a friendly Liberal speaking to them, and it did not matter what was going on behind that, that our air ambulance was falling apart. There was a president of the Liberal association in their office, and that’s all they saw. They saw that they were there to help their own, no matter what happens to the rest of Ontarians.

Those decisions had consequences. Those decisions had appalling consequences. We look at the chief coroner’s report. The report said that operational problems at Ornge directly contributed to the deaths of two patients. One of them is from my riding. It probably contributed to the death of a third person and it possibly contributed to the deaths of five more patients. This is eight families who have lost loved ones, who will never get them back again because the Liberal Party was so committed to holding on to their own, was so committed to focusing on a friendly Liberal and not doing their job.

If the president of the Liberal association came into their office and said, “All is well. Don’t look behind me. Don’t look at what’s going on at Ornge, because I’m a friendly Liberal and all you have to do is look at me,” that’s all they did. They looked at Alfred Apps. They never looked at what he was bringing forward. They never looked at what he was hiding. They never looked at what was happening at Ornge.

It didn’t matter what we did. We could have had pyrotechnics to show them that “Hey, you need to look here.” They refused to do this. They looked after their own, and the people of Ontario suffered. This is why it is a scandal.

But the scandal did not stop there and it did not stop at the hundreds of millions of dollars that were squandered and wasted. We also had this horrible accident in Moosonee, where an Ornge helicopter crashed, killing Don Filliter from my riding, Jacques Dupuy, Dustin Dagenais and Chris Snowball. The 17 charges that were laid against Ornge are still in front of the court as we speak, but it doesn’t matter what comes out of the court proceedings; the three kids who have lost their dad will never get their dad back. Mr. Snowball, who lost his son Chris, will never his son back.

Those scandals shake the confidence of the people of Ontario to the core. How could we have this? How could it be that we had a government that was so incapable at doing anything but focusing on their own success, focusing on their own fundraisers and on the success of the Liberal Party, no matter the cost? And Ontarians paid the ultimate cost.

So I’m not surprised that we are debating a motion that talks about government scandals, because any of us who do constituency work, any of us who listen to our constituents, hear it all the time. It is sad. It should not have been like this. All of this was 100% preventable. But it shows the symptoms of a bigger problem. It shows the symptoms of a Liberal government that is so focused on itself, that is so focused on ensuring their own success, they forget what they’re there for. They forget that, yes, they hold the public purse, but this is for the good of the people in Ontario, not for their own political gain.

This is what this motion is all about. This motion is about making sure that when a government is in power, they keep the good of the people of Ontario as their primary goal, not the good fortune of the Liberal government, no matter the cost. In the case of Ornge, the cost was the loss of life. This is an awful price to pay.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Mr. Brown has moved opposition day motion number 5. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I believe I heard a no.

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

All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There will be a 10-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1750 to 1800.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Members, take your seats, please.

Mr. Brown has moved opposition day number 5. All those in favour of the motion will please rise one at a time.

Ayes

  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Brown, Patrick
  • Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Forster, Cindy
  • Gélinas, France
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norm
  • Miller, Paul
  • Munro, Julia
  • Natyshak, Taras
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Smith, Todd
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Vanthof, John
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): All those opposed to the motion will please stand and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Albanese, Laura
  • Anderson, Granville
  • Baker, Yvan
  • Ballard, Chris
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Del Duca, Steven
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Des Rosiers, Nathalie
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dickson, Joe
  • Dong, Han
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Fraser, John
  • Hoggarth, Ann
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Kiwala, Sophie
  • Lalonde, Marie-France
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Malhi, Harinder
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Martins, Cristina
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGarry, Kathryn
  • McMahon, Eleanor
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naidoo-Harris, Indira
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Potts, Arthur
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Thibeault, Glenn
  • Vernile, Daiene
  • Wong, Soo
  • Zimmer, David

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 31; the nays are 49.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I declare the motion lost.

Motion negatived.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Pursuant to standing order 38, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.

There is a late show, so I will give you an opportunity to disperse quietly but yet quickly.

Adjournment Debate

Government spending

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): The member for Dufferin–Caledon has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by the Minister of Children and Youth Services. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and in this case, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Children and Youth Services may reply for up to five minutes.

I now turn it over to the member from Dufferin–Caledon.

Ms. Sylvia Jones: Thank you very much, Speaker. You know, I haven’t filed a notice of dissatisfaction lately. In fact, this is the first time I have filed one, because I think that the people of Ontario deserve answers. I hope, with the parliamentary assistant, we will get those answers today.

This is, of course, relating to a government decision to spend $54,000 on Canada Goose parkas for Ministry of Children and Youth Services staff. We know from the 2015-16 public accounts that the ministry spent almost $54,000 on Canada Goose, a company which self-identifies on its website as a Canadian luxury.

I would like to know and the people of Ontario would like to know why it took five months for us to learn what the government was actually purchasing and why. In fact, after my freedom-of-information request was turned down, it was up to our friends in the media to determine how the government was spending Ontario taxpayers’ dollars.

Now we know the government is mismanaging Ontarians’ tax dollars by spending thousands of dollars on luxury goods. The notion that the government could even attempt to justify spending 54 grand on luxury items for a ministry that is supposed to be serving children who are most in need and have serious issues is frankly offensive.

I received an email from an Ontario resident that summed up the issue: “I can’t believe this. I live in Hearst, and I’m very familiar with 40 below. This kind of government spending makes me so angry, when the basic levels of service in northern Ontario are further eroded by our latest provincial budget. I am thinking of Mr. Duguid’s comment, ‘I think it’s great when an Ontario company wins a procurement that creates jobs here in Ontario.’” Then he goes on to say, “Where was he in 2011 when the Ontario Northland rail shop’s bid for Metrolinx GO refurbishments was rejected in favour of a Quebec firm?”

This purchase is unacceptable for several reasons.

First, let’s look at the government’s excuse head-on. According to the minister’s office, “When necessary due to low temperatures coats are provided to staff who are supervising and engaging in outdoor recreational activities with the youth in our facilities.” We all know there are plenty of jackets which are not luxury items that are made in Canada and can keep those workers warm. Despite it being so cold out, the ministry does not provide these children with this high-end luxury. If a Canada Goose jacket is good enough for the staff, then why aren’t you looking after the youth?

A quick Google search will find you numerous examples of Canadian-manufactured winter jackets with a smaller price tag; for example, Wully Outerwear from Toronto or Tough Duck from Winnipeg. Speaker, you can actually buy Tough Duck at the Northern Store for $169. They’re very popular in northern Ontario.

We also know that other ministry workers outside in sub-zero temperatures, like the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry conservation officers, aren’t given Canada Goose parkas. The concern is simply that the ministry is purchasing what is widely considered to be and advertised as a luxury item when there are clearly other options. That’s why I asked the minister to release the tender documents so that Ontarians can decide for themselves whether this purchase was appropriate.

The second reason this purchase is so concerning is that it follows a trend of this government’s waste and mismanagement. Whether it’s the $1-billion gas plant scandal or having to repave roadways every two years rather than what should be 15 years due to lack of oversight, Ontarians have seen countless examples of this government’s wasting of taxpayers’ dollars for partisan purposes or due to mismanagement and negligence. This track record makes it increasingly hard to take this government at their word on whether they spend taxpayers’ dollars correctly.

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Finally, this purchase is offensive, given the wait times and the previous decisions of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Figures released on May 1, 2017, by the Canadian Institute for Health Information show that between 2006 and 2016, there has been a 67% increase in youth hospitalizations for mental health disorders. Meanwhile, a report from November 2016 by Children’s Mental Health Ontario indicates that there are unacceptable wait times for counselling and therapy across the province. In Ottawa, wait times were reported to be 575 days.

The point is that we need to make choices in government, and this was a poor choice, and it needs to end.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Children and Youth Services may reply for up to five minutes.

Ms. Sophie Kiwala: I’m going to break this down and be as clear as I can, because I know that on occasion the members opposite mix up their facts from time to time. I want to get straight to the facts and what we actually know about this subject.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services operates youth justice facilities across the province of Ontario, because we know the importance of keeping young people close to home and connected with their communities. We have facilities in the north, where wintertime temperatures are frequently below zero and often fall to beneath minus 40 degrees. My daughter spent some time in Algonquin Park one winter and did some dog sledding with Outward Bound, and that week that she was there, she experienced temperatures in between minus 32 and minus 42 degrees.

When you are that cold and it’s that cold outside, it’s impossible to function properly unless you have the appropriate equipment and clothing. Everyday tasks become challenging in cold conditions, never mind looking after other people, which the staff in our ministry have to do.

Let’s go back to what we know. The coats were purchased for staff who work and engage in outdoor activities in northern Ontario. We also know that these parkas are owned by the ministry and are returned when staff stop working for the facilities. We know that all of the appropriate government procurement rules were followed, and in fact, they led us to receiving a very good deal.

We also know, Mr. Speaker, with no disrespect to the member opposite, that the fact that we are receiving this question highlights the priorities and the clear lack of leadership in the current Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. They have yet to present any policy platforms or ideas to the people of Ontario. Ontarians are still waiting on their hydro plan—we have one; they are still waiting on their housing plan—we have one; and they are still waiting on their environmental plan—we have one.

They are not talking about the things that Ontarians care about because they are too busy wasting time, trying to figure out why Ontarians in the Far North need winter jackets. We know and everyone knows why these jackets are needed. What we don’t know is what the PC plan is on hydro, housing affordability and the environment. We know that the only plan they seem to be able to muster up, quite frankly, is a wild goose chase. It shows what their priorities are.

Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, this province needs a lot more than what they are offering. This province needs leadership. We need pharmacare, and we need rent and housing reform.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is currently focusing critical initiatives to reform child welfare systems, and we are raising the age of protection to bring approximately 1,600 youth into care. Our government is focused on building an Ontario autism program that works for children and families who are experiencing challenges with autism because that’s what this province needs.

What this province doesn’t need is a leader who refused to vote for a national strategy for children who have autism.

While we remain focused on the very important initiatives at hand at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the PCs are busy attacking our youth justice facilities for providing employees who are doing very important work—and they are using Canadian-made jackets from a solid Canadian company.

Speaker, apparently, the deputy leader spent months and countless hours trying to find out why workers up north would require warm jackets, but she never approached the minister to ask. This is curious. Maybe if those hours were spent focusing on the people of Ontario, the PCs would actually have some policies to speak on.

On the day the PCs were busy putting out press releases about how proud they were of themselves because they uncovered that my ministry supplies winter jackets to staff far in the north, Minister Duguid announced that Ontario’s unemployment rate fell to 5.8%. It’s the lowest level in 16 years. That’s an achievement.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): There being no further matter to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to have been carried.

This House stands adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1816.

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