Official Records for 20 June 2012

The House met at 0900.

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

Prayers.

ROYAL ASSENT /
SANCTION ROYALE

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I beg to inform the House that His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in his office.

The Deputy Clerk (Mr. Todd Decker): The following are the titles of the bills to which His Honour did assent:

An Act respecting an underground infrastructure notification system for Ontario / Loi sur un système d’information sur les infrastructures souterraines en Ontario.

An Act to amend the Education Act with respect to bullying and other matters / Loi modifiant la Loi sur l’éducation en ce qui a trait à l’intimidation et à d’autres questions.

An Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 in respect of the rent increase guideline / Loi modifiant la Loi de 2006 sur la location à usage d’habitation en ce qui concerne le taux légal d’augmentation des loyers.

An Act to amend the Human Rights Code with respect to gender identity and gender expression / Loi modifiant le Code des droits de la personne en ce qui concerne l’identité sexuelle ou l’expression de l’identité sexuelle.

An Act to revive Coutu Gold Mines Limited.

An Act respecting Master’s College and Seminary.

An Act to revive Hili Enterprises Ltd.

ANNUAL REPORT, OMBUDSMAN

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I beg to inform the House that on June 19, the 2011-12 annual report of the Ombudsman of Ontario was tabled.

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): In accordance with the order of the House passed on May 31, 2012, the report of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on Bill 55, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact and amend various Acts, as amended, is deemed to have been made and is deemed to be received and adopted.

Report deemed adopted.

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

ORDERS OF THE DAY

STRONG ACTION FOR ONTARIO ACT
(BUDGET MEASURES), 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 SUR UNE ACTION
ÉNERGIQUE POUR L’ONTARIO
(MESURES BUDGÉTAIRES)

Mr. Milloy, on behalf of Mr. Duncan, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 55, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact and amend various Acts / Projet de loi 55, Loi visant à mettre en oeuvre les mesures budgétaires et à édicter et à modifier diverses lois.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Debate?

Hon. John Milloy: It’s a pleasure to just speak for a minute or two on Bill 55, which is before this Legislature today for third reading.

Mr. Speaker, all of us have been, of course, part of and following many of the machinations around the timing of this bill, around various amendments and things that have happened at committee, but I think that although that has made for perhaps some good media, none of us should lose sight of the purpose of this bill.

This bill supports a budget which was put forward—and I want to commend my colleague the Minister of Finance for the important work that he’s done. He’s found a balance. He’s put forward a budget which suits the times, which addresses some of the fiscal and financial challenges being faced by this province, addressing a very serious deficit and putting us on a trajectory downwards to a balanced budget in terms of the deficits over the next couple of years. And it does so, Mr. Speaker, while at the same time being true to principles and values which are held on this side of the House, ones that see the importance of continuing to place an emphasis on education, health care and, speaking as Minister of Community and Social Services, the most vulnerable here in our society.

As I pointed out on numerous occasions in this Legislature, when you look at the years to come, the only significant increases that we’re seeing are in those key areas. I think it reflects our values that although we have to slay the deficit—and we’re on a trajectory for that—at the same time we recognize the importance of keeping the services that we value so much strong and making sure we build on what we have achieved over the past number of years.

So I am proud that we are finally dealing with Bill 55 this morning. I look forward to the debate that’s going to ensue and I urge all members to support what I feel is a very important piece of legislation for the future of this province.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Ottawa Centre.

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: Thank you very much, Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to speak on this budget bill, Bill 55. Before I get into the substance of the bill and speak a little bit about the budget, I want to take the opportunity to recognize the members of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, who worked very, very hard on behalf of this Legislature and on behalf of the people of Ontario. I think I can say that we had ups and downs during the whole budget deliberation process at the committee, but at the end of the day, the fact that we are standing here today debating Bill 55 is because all the members from all three political parties worked well together. One of the secrets, the real good recipe for that was that we were able to converse, that we continued to speak with each other.

Speaker, I will first start with giving credit to our Chair, the member from Mississauga–Streetsville, who did a remarkable job in keeping the tone, the decorum of the committee intact and making sure that he was a fair, neutral Chair. So a big thank you to the member from Mississauga–Streetsville.

I also want to thank the members from the government side, the members from Windsor West and Scarborough–Agincourt, for their hard work on this committee. There were a lot of fluid moments and they went along and gave very good advice to me as we were working through the committee. The member from Thornhill, whom I consider a friend, and I worked well together and spoke on a regular basis, so I want to thank him, along with the member from Nipissing and the member from Lambton–Kent-Middlesex, who accompanied the member from Thornhill. And also the member from Beaches–East York, who was there throughout the whole committee deliberation, who is an experienced parliamentarian and of course brought his skill sets to the table as we went along, and along with him the member from Welland for her contribution to the work of the committee.

And I think I can say on behalf of all the members collectively that we want to thank the clerk and the committee staff for their diligence, for their hard work, for their professionalism in making sure that the work got done. So a big thank you to them.

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Speaker, I’m pleased to stand today in the House for the third reading of Bill 55, the Strong Action for Ontario Act, 2012. From 2003 to 2008, Ontarians worked together to rebuild key public services such as education and health care and the province’s infrastructure, which had been neglected by previous governments for over a decade. At the same time, the McGuinty government eliminated the hidden deficit left by the previous government and balanced three consecutive budgets between 2005 and 2007.

As we all know, in September 2008 the global economy plunged into a sharp, sudden recession that created new challenges for governments across the world, including here in Ontario. When this global recession hit, the McGuinty government chose to lessen the impact on Ontarians, like other governments in Canada and around the world, through stimulus investments in all our communities across the province. We boosted job training for laid-off workers and lowered income taxes for nine out of 10 Ontario taxpayers. During the global economic downturn, the government protected the gains made in education and health care.

I’m pleased to report that the global economy is recovering and Ontario’s economy is growing stronger. Just as Ontario took action to help families through the recession, the province must now take strong action to grow the economy and continue to support needed job creation. The McGuinty government’s deficit elimination plan will result in a surplus by 2017-18.

We must choose strong action today, Speaker, so that Ontario can avoid a future even larger deficit and painful choices imposed by forces outside of its control. The province spends more money on interest each year than on colleges and universities. As interest rates increase, so will those payments, taking precious resources away from education and health care.

I would like to point out that Ontario’s per capita spending in 2011-12 is projected to be $8,560, which is the lowest among the provinces and 11% below the average program spending across the other nine provincial governments. But despite this frugality, more must be done. If strong action is not taken, Ontario’s ability to set and control its own priorities, choices and actions will be impaired. Eliminating the deficit is also essential for economic growth and job creation. That’s why our government’s March 27, 2012, budget took strong action to eliminate the deficit while protecting the health and education services families rely on most, and the initiatives we have proposed since then further strengthen these actions.

As we know, transforming Ontario’s health care system is essential to managing the rate of health care spending growth to meet our commitment to eliminating the deficit. That is why the McGuinty government continues to transform and improve health care in Ontario. Between 2003-04 and 2011-12—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): It’s a little hard to hear. We’ve got about five sidebars going on. It’s really loud on this side. Your own speaker is up, so it would be nice if you paid attention. Thank you.

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: Thank you, Speaker.

Between 2003-04 and 2011-12, health care funding increased at an average rate of 6.1% annually, for a total increase of $17.9 billion. This reflects the McGuinty government’s commitment to increased access to quality care for all Ontarians. By working together, we improved health care in Ontario after years of neglect. These initiatives produced meaningful improvements for families—improvements like successfully reducing wait times for key surgical procedures. Ontario now has the shortest wait times in Canada, according to the Fraser Institute’s 2011 report Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada. Improvements like having more than 3,400 more doctors practising in the province: According to the Ontario Medical Association, over 2.1 million more Ontarians now have a family doctor, and we have created more than 12,600 nursing positions in Ontario. We are proud of these achievements, Speaker, but given the current fiscal challenge, funding for the health care system cannot continue to grow at past rates. Yet health care cost drivers such as demographic factors, demands for service and technological changes continue to exert pressure on the fiscal plan. For those reasons and more, the delivery of health care needs to be transformed to continue providing high-quality services that Ontarians need, expect and deserve.

Transforming Ontario’s health care system is essential to managing the rate of health care spending growth to meet the government’s commitment to balance the budget. That is why the McGuinty government is proposing strategies and actions announced to help maintain excellent health care for Ontarians while slowing the overall growth in health spending in Ontario to an average of 2% annually over the next three years.

How will we achieve this? As you know, Speaker, earlier this year, the McGuinty government released Ontario’s action plan for health care, which established the road map for the transformation to sustainable and high-quality health care. The action plan is about better value for money. It is about creating a system that delivers health care in a smarter and more efficient way that will lead to better outcomes for Ontarians.

The plan is based on three key strategies to realize better value for money. They are: (1) shifting investments to where they have the greatest value and health care benefit; (2) preventing illness and helping Ontarians stay healthy and active by focusing on—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Vaughan is louder than the speaker. Could we keep it down, please?

Mr. Greg Sorbara: It’s always been that way.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Pardon me?

Mr. Greg Sorbara: I said it’s always been that way, Speaker.

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: Thank you, Speaker.

(2) preventing illness and helping Ontarians stay healthy and active by focusing on health promotion, including reducing childhood obesity and smoking rates; and (3) providing better access to primary care, home care and community care so patients can receive the care they need in the most appropriate place and in a timely matter.

We are proposing further reforms to help us achieve our goals. These include reforms to physician compensation in Ontario. We recognize that doctors are integral to the health care system and are at the forefront of providing quality care to patients. Since 2003, the government has worked with doctors to increase access to care and reduce wait times. We are proud of what we have achieved together. Between 2003-04, and 2011-12, total payments to physicians increased by $5.1 billion. Today, nearly one in 10 program expense dollars goes to physician compensation. That is why the 2012 budget reflects the government’s plan to maintain total physician compensation at current levels through the next physician services agreement with the Ontario Medical Association. This is necessary for the government to meet its commitment to balance the budget.

We have all heard the expression that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We are embracing this way of thinking with a number of initiatives to meet the goal of keeping Ontarians healthy and productive, which will reduce future costs associated with preventable illnesses. As an example, obesity has a direct effect on the development of type 2 diabetes, and diabetes costs Ontario $4.9 billion per year. Currently, approximately one in five youth in Ontario is overweight. To give you another example, tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and premature death in Ontario, accounting for $1.9 billion in health care costs and approximately 13,000 deaths each year.

To promote healthy living and support better management of chronic conditions, the McGuinty government is proposing the following actions:

—setting up a panel of advocates, health care leaders, non-profit organizations and industry partners to develop a childhood obesity strategy that will reduce childhood obesity by 20% over five years. I’m happy to note, Speaker, that Alex Munter, who is the chief executive officer of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, is one of the co-chairs of this council, somebody who has been a strong advocate for healthy living and health promotion for a long, long time;

0920

—increasing fines to those who sell tobacco to children and doubling enforcement efforts to address the supply of cheap, illegal tobacco in Ontario;

—providing all Ontarians with access to an online personalized cancer risk profile that will use medical and family history to measure cancer risk and then link those at higher risk to prevention supports, screening or genetic testing; and

—continuing to expand comprehensive screening programs for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer. Participants will be notified and reminded when they are due for their next screening.

Another way we are proposing to save money while improving health care services in Ontario is by providing faster access to family health care. We know that improving access to family health care is essential for improving health care and managing overall health system costs. Total hospital operating funding is the largest area of health spending and has increased by an average of 5.1% annually since 2003. This rate of growth was partly required to make up for the deep across-the-board cuts of the 1990s. Treating patients in alternative care settings instead of hospitals, where appropriate, and ensuring access to primary care providers are critical elements of the government’s plan to slow hospital expense growth.

Measures include:

—increasing access to doctors and nurse practitioners by expanding same-day and next-day appointments and after-hours care. This will help patients access primary care providers rather than going directly to hospital emergency rooms;

—integrating planning for family health care into the local health integration networks to leverage their expertise in helping patients navigate the health care system and access the right care in order to reduce hospital readmission rates;

—holding growth in hospitals’ overall base operating funding to 0% in 2012-13 while continuing to increase investments in the community care sector by an average of 4% annually;

—enabling local health integration networks to promote a seamless coordination of the treatment patients need across various health care providers and providing more flexibility to shift resources to where the need is greatest;

—shifting routine procedures currently conducted in hospitals to non-profit community-based clinics where they can be performed faster, at the same high-quality standard and at a lower cost;

—increasing investments in home care and community services by an average of 4% annually for the next three years, or $526 million per year by 2014-15, to better support those seniors and other Ontarians who could benefit from care provided in the community. We are doing this because ensuring that patients receive the right care in the right setting is essential for high-quality patient care and for managing health care costs;

—developing a new seniors strategy that will expand house calls, increase access to home care and provide improved care coordination;

—investments in chronic care services provided in the community to ease pressure on long-term-care homes’ waiting lists and help reduce the number of alternate-level-of-care patients in hospitals.

And building on the significant investments made in long-term care since 2003 to create capacity in the sector, we are proposing to increase overall long-term-care home funding by 2.8% in 2012-13. Included in this growth is a 1% increase in direct care costs for long-term-care home residents. The government will help the sector manage this growth by providing home operators with greater flexibility to pay for services from within their current funding structure.

We are also proposing to change the way health care services are funded. This is a key component of the government’s plan to transform health care. To support transformation, the McGuinty government is accelerating the move to a patient-centred funding model. This approach will be phased in over a three-year time frame and will help direct resources and expertise to where they are most needed to improve the value and quality of health care.

Under this approach, hospitals, long-term-care homes and community care access centres will be funded based on the types and volume of services and treatments they deliver. They will do this at a price that reflects the best practice and complexity of patients and procedures, while encouraging efficiency without compromising services and access. The model will drive provincial health care funding towards better patient outcomes by directing funding to efficient providers who offer better or more efficient services or treatments and improving quality through specialization.

Let me assure you, Speaker, that health care providers that face unique circumstances, such as small and rural hospitals, will continue to be treated uniquely, given their lower patient volume and critical local service delivery role.

We are also proposing reforms to create a fairer and more efficient drug system. The Ontario Drug Benefit Program, or ODB, helps seniors with the cost of their prescription drugs. All seniors are eligible for the ODB, regardless of their income level. This means that someone with an annual income of $300,000 currently gets the same benefit as someone with an income of just $30,000 per year. The 2012 budget proposes changes to ensure that the program is effective, properly administered and provides the most help to those in the greatest need. The fairness of the program will be improved by asking the highest-income seniors to pay more of their own prescription drug costs. We think that is only right, Speaker.

Under the current ODB program, seniors pay the first $100 of their drug costs each year, plus a co-payment of $6.11 for each prescription after the $100 deductible amount. The $100 deductible is waived for lower-income seniors, but they are required to pay an existing $2 co-payment for each prescription. Starting in August 2014, high-income seniors will pay a new income-tested deductible. The change will affect only about 5% of senior ODB recipients, those seniors with the highest income and greatest ability to pay their own drug costs. About 3% of seniors will pay a little less, while the vast majority, about 92%, will pay the same amount.

Speaker, I would now like to tell you a little bit about the initiatives in education that we are proposing as part of Bill 55, the Strong Action for Ontario Act, 2012. Ontarians want a strong education system for their children because they recognize it is the best possible investment we can make for their future. Why is this so? Because investments in education and skills training play a critical role in preparing people for jobs that ensure future prosperity in the knowledge-based economy. Ontarians with higher levels of education and skills have better employment prospects and higher wages, and contribute more in taxes.

Just like in health care, we have made great strides in education in the past eight years by working together. Class sizes are down. Graduation rates and test scores are up. And Ontario schools have been recognized as among the best in the world by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s program for international student assessment, and McKinsey and Co. Bill 55 continues this progress. It ensures adequate funding to meet this commitment to full-day kindergarten and its full implementation by September 2014. Right now, approximately 50,000 children in 800 schools across Ontario are benefitting from a full day of learning. By September 2012, full-day kindergarten will be available in an additional 900 schools, reaching approximately 120,000 students and representing nearly 50% of total program enrolment. By September 2013, about 184,000 will benefit from the program. When fully implemented, the program will reach approximately 250,000 children, giving them the best possible start as they grow to their full potential.

Class sizes are another success story of the McGuinty government’s educational reforms. We know that smaller class sizes allow educators to focus more attention on each student, to improve results. That is why the McGuinty government is now funding an additional 13,600 teaching positions compared to 2003, with over 5,000 of these for smaller primary class sizes. As a result, more than 90% of early grades have 20 or fewer students, compared to 31% in 2003-04, and all early grades have 23 or fewer students, compared to 64% in 2003-04. The McGuinty government is committed to preserving the progress made over the past eight years. Funding will be maintained to preserve caps on primary class sizes and existing average class sizes at the junior and senior levels to ensure students in all grades benefit from more interaction with teachers.

0930

Speaker, I’ve outlined a few of the initiatives from Bill 55 that will help us achieve our goal of eliminating the deficit. Ontario’s deficit in 2011-12 is now projected to be $15 billion, an improvement of $0.3 billion compared to the projection outlined in the 2012 budget. Of course, the 2011-12 actual results will be presented in the 2011-12 public accounts, which will be released later this year. Provincial deficits are now projected to be lower than forecast in the 2012 budget in each year between 2011-12 and 2016-17. The government is now projecting a $0.5-billion surplus in 2017-18.

Returning to a balanced budget requires significantly reduced growth in program expenses. We recognize this and are prepared to take on this challenge. But let’s be clear on this, Speaker: We must take strong action and we must do it now.

Following the release of the 2012 budget, S&P placed Ontario’s AA- rating on negative outlook. DBRS confirmed our AA-low rating, while Moody’s downgraded the province’s rating to AA2, with stable outlook. The ratings are a further reminder that Ontario has to meet its fiscal targets. In confirming the rating at AA low, DBRS noted that it “views the continuation of the fiscal recovery plan and the increasing emphasis on cost containment as an encouraging step in the right direction.”

For the past three years, we have beaten our fiscal targets. I’m confident we will continue to do so in the future, but this is a tremendous task that lies ahead of us.

Allow me to quote the commissioner of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, Don Drummond: “This should be viewed as an opportunity, not a problem. Ontario can and should have the best public services in the world; this is an opportunity to reach for that goal....

“Ontario should become the first government to relentlessly pursue quality and efficiency in public services.”

That is exactly what the contents of Bill 55 do, Speaker. We must examine and transform every aspect of what and how the government delivers programs and services with the goal of delivering the best public services in the world at a cost that Ontarians can afford.

In fact, we have examined and transformed Bill 55. Prior to second reading, we made adjustments to the bill. Let me highlight a few of these adjustments. We have proposed a temporary, new, deficit-fighting high-income-tax bracket for individuals earning more than $500,000 annually. Under this proposed new tax bracket, the top statutory Ontario income tax rate on taxable income over $500,000 would increase by two percentage points, from 11.16% to 13.16%. This change would generate additional revenue of $280 million in 2012-13, $470 million in 2013-14 and $495 million in 2014-15. All of the additional revenue raised by this proposed measure would be used to reduce the provincial deficit and accelerate Ontario’s plan to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18. This deficit-fighting high-income-tax bracket will be eliminated once the budget is balanced by 2017-18.

Speaker, the federal budget was released on March 29, 2012, two days after the release of the 2012 Ontario budget, and it had impacts that we could not foresee. The federal budget proposed a number of tax changes that Ontario automatically parallels under federal-provincial taxation agreements, such as including employer contributions to group sickness or accident insurance plans in the income of an employee, and new international taxation and anti-avoidance rules. Together, these federal tax changes are projected to increase Ontario revenues by $53 million in 2012-13, $93 million in 2013-14 and $105 million in 2014-15. All of the additional provincial revenues resulting from these federal changes will be used to reduce Ontario’s deficit. As a result of these adjustments, Speaker, the forecast for Ontario revenues has increased by $333 million in 2012-13, growing to $600 million by 2014-15, well above the projections outlined in the 2012 budget.

Speaker, as my time comes to an end, I want to take the opportunity to encourage all members to vote for this budget bill, Bill 55. The Strong Action for Ontario Act, 2012, is a series of smart choices to ensure a strong economy while protecting the gains we have made together in our education, health care and other public services. That is why I ask for the support of the House in passing this act.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Thornhill.

Mr. Peter Shurman: Thank you very much, Speaker, and I want to inform you that I’ll be sharing my time with the members from Nipissing and Lambton–Kent–Middlesex.

There are many ways that I could describe this budget; none of them is particularly good. But I will draw upon a very unlikely source this time for language on how to characterize this budget and this government.

During finance committee hearings, we have heard from many diverse organizations and interests discussing the proposed budget. One of them was Warren “Smokey” Thomas of OPSEU. In his presentation to the finance committee, he himself said that there are no opportunities for Ontarians in this budget, no jobs plan; that Liberals are “the masters of half-baked and half-delivered.”

Now, I’ve had many surprising things happen to me in my life, but finding myself in agreement with the head of OPSEU has got to be top 10 on that list. It does, however, illustrate—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Okay, folks. It’s the last day. I understand it’s the last day of school. The decibel level is going off the map, and we certainly wouldn’t want to eject somebody on the last day, would we?

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Member from Timmins–James Bay, come to order. Next time I stand up, we’ll be starting to name people. You don’t want to get thrown out today, folks.

Okay, go ahead.

Mr. Peter Shurman: It does illustrate two important points. The first one is that even McGuinty allies have seen the light and are more than aware of this government’s mismanagement of Ontario; and second, no matter where you are in terms of the political spectrum, the half-way measures, the mediocrity with which this government manages our province affects you.

There were themes that emerged on a consistent basis when we dealt with people who appeared before the Standing Committee on Finance; one of them was equality. We heard repeatedly about a book called The Spirit Level, which I’m very anxious to read, actually, Speaker, because what it talks about is the equalization or the redistribution of wealth on some level. I believe that wealth needs to be redistributed, but we’re not Robin Hood here. We have a risk-and-reward system here, and so we have to find a way to get things into balance in a reasonable way. But we heard about it.

We heard about privatization, which this budget purports to address. What we’re talking about when we use the term “privatization” is procurement by alternate sources of services that the government needs. But what we saw in the ultimate budget was the watering down of this privatization to the point where, although our party stands for privatization of some services at the government level, we couldn’t accept what we saw.

Arbitration, the same thing: a great need for reform of the arbitration system. But there we were being reported on as working hand in glove almost with the NDP on reform, where what the NDP wanted to do was gut what’s already there rather than toughen up the measures that are required to deal with people in the broader public sector.

A jobs plan: Here’s a place where the NDP and the Progressive Conservative Party can agree. There is no jobs plan. This budget has no jobs plan.

Spending: We in the province of Ontario, by virtue of the passing of Bill 55, are on a course to disaster. Spending is simply out of control, no matter what they tell you.

We also heard about revenue solutions, people appearing before the Standing Committee on Finance trying to tell us that our solution was going out and taxing people to a greater extent. Do they not understand that you cannot get blood out of a stone; that we have in this province a crisis in spending; that we have in this province a crisis on the jobs front, where almost 600,000 men and women, our peers here in the province of Ontario, don’t have work and right now have very little hope of finding it?

0940

Yesterday we all heard the Minister of Finance talking about what? Trust, and the importance of trust. And he’s right: Trust is important. If Ontarians could trust Dalton McGuinty, the situation might well be different. But the facts speak for themselves: health tax, eHealth, Ornge and a list of broken promises that we could carpet this Legislature with. What a tragedy. So listening to this government highlight the importance of trust is, at the very least, a very tough pill to swallow.

We all know where Ontario is right now: downgrades, negative outlooks from ratings agencies; a jobs and economy crisis, further deepened by a government overspending and overtaxing Ontario residents—many negative indicators; few positives.

It is because of this situation that Progressive Conservatives have consistently pushed this government to do better, and that is why we have called for action to create jobs. This is why we called for action to slash the deficit. This is why, when voting on the budget itself, on the amendments during committee, and when we vote on the budget bill today, there is only one criterion that we use to determine how to vote, and that is inherent in this question: Is this budget good for Ontario? The Liberal budget bill fails this crucial test. Liberal amendments introduced in committee also failed this test, and that’s why the Ontario PC Party voted against them.

Let’s talk about schedule 28. Schedule 28, for people watching—you might not understand the technical language—is basically the centrepiece of Bill 55, the budget—schedule 28, which the Liberals, as a result of their Premier’s negligence in securing a deal in writing, had to gut completely in order to satisfy the NDP. And what did the NDP do? They turfed schedule 28.

Let’s talk about schedule 28. Let’s do that. The main clause, dealing with the privatization or procurement of government services from alternate sources: We thought, in the Progressive Conservative caucus, that it was a good start, a first step in the right direction.

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Order.

Mr. Peter Shurman: We thought it was a good first step. But the government feared for NDP support. Why? The government limited that schedule down to cover only ServiceOntario. The NDP voted for every single amendment to schedule 28 and then voted to throw out the schedule altogether. We voted against the government on every single amendment and we adopted schedule 28. Do you know what we had to do to do that? We bit the bullet—

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Last warning to the Attorney General. Thank you.

Go ahead.

Mr. Peter Shurman: We in the Progressive Conservative caucus bit the bullet. We voted for a watered-down, namby-pamby version of schedule-28 privatization, something that we favour, something that would have given Ontarians a bang for the buck. The government in that particular case was at least on the right track, and we were there to support it. And that party, that had made a deal with the government, said no.

How can Ontarians trust in Dalton McGuinty’s competence to represent their interests at the federal or the international table when he can’t broker a deal to get support for his budget and accused the NDP of some kind of malfeasance or my party of absenteeism? How ridiculous is that? Premier, your attitude is why we chose the tack that we did.

Dalton McGuinty’s failure to secure a written deal with the NDP on the budget is symptomatic of his failure to lead Ontario. Calling my leader names changes nothing. Instead of showing leadership and doing what is necessary, Dalton McGuinty has shown himself to be negligent and has pushed Ontario into harmful speculation over a possible election, creating even more insecurity at a time when what our province needed was stability and security and a path on which to move forward.

We said on March 27 that we could not support a budget with no spending plan appropriate to the crisis at hand—no jobs plan at all. Furthermore, his failure in handling his negotiations with the NDP resulted in an even weaker budget bill, if that were even possible—nothing for jobless people, nothing to address our ballooning interest payments, no meaningful approach to reduce the deficit.

Arbitration needs reform. The party to the left of me believes it needs reform. The party across from me believes it needs reform. Our party believes it needs reform. Everybody has a different view of what that reform is. I can say to this Legislature that when it came to the elements of the budget that dealt with arbitration reform, yes, we didn’t feel, in the PC caucus, that they went far enough, but we were prepared to accept them until, again, the government cut elements of the arbitration packages in a number of its schedules to a point where we could no longer support them. Why? To gain support from the NDP. And again, the NDP didn’t vote for those particular amendments.

Privatization: same thing. I won’t go into the description I gave of schedule 28, but that’s what privatization encapsulates.

Then there’s the wage freeze that we’ve been talking about, a wage freeze that we’re told we don’t need, and yet about 10 days ago we see a contract awarded by an arbitrator to workers within the TTC, giving them a 2% raise in each year of a three-year contract. That is well beyond the scope of what would have happened had there been a wage freeze on the broader public sector, and it shows you where this is all going to go if we don’t step in and take some kind of bold action.

Budget measures that had the intent of reducing government spending, such as schedule 28, were rendered meaningless by the amendments that the Liberals introduced to appease the NDP, which at the end of the day wasn’t appeased. For what? The NDP balked. Who will pay for this failure? Ontarians. Taxpayers.

Speaker, the budget bill that we are debating here today is a creation of the socialists to my left and the jokers to my right. Look up the lyrics to Stuck in the Middle With You some time. That song sums it all up. This creation is not a thing of beauty. Sorry, it’s not.

At a time when Ontarians are tightening their belts and learning how to make do with less, the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty has tabled a budget bill that continues to increase government spending, a bill that has put every Ontarian, their children, their grandchildren into the largest debt that our province has ever had, and it’s growing. Drummond summarized: $30-billion deficit in 2017; $411-billion debt by 2017. It’s coming and we can all feel it.

Meanwhile, while Ontarians are losing jobs, getting smaller paycheques, having their shifts cut, the NDP want to give government employees raises that no other Ontarians have received for years or are likely to receive for years to come.

The Ontario PC—

Interjection.

Mr. Peter Shurman: You know what, you’ll get your turn, so be quiet.

The Ontario PC Party and our leader, Tim Hudak, have taken a principled position on this budget from the very beginning. We have taken abuse, we have taken criticism, but we have stayed the course, and that is what good management does. It stays the course. We stood up for every Ontarian out there who has looked at what this government has done and what it now plans to do and shakes his or her head in helplessness and disbelief. That’s leadership. That’s leadership, and that is principle.

Mr. John Vanthof: Go Greek or go home.

Mr. Peter Shurman: Speaker, I listen to the people on my left, the NDP, laughing. It’s just a big joke to them. I hope you people watching at home, I hope you media observing this know that the laughter is coming from the NDP. They think this is funny.

Mr. John O’Toole: They don’t even vote.

Mr. Peter Shurman: They don’t even vote, my colleague from Durham says. They don’t even vote, but they think this is funny.

Back in October, the people of Ontario sent Dalton McGuinty to Queen’s Park with a minority government. That was a clear message, Speaker, a very clear message. This budget bill and the convoluted process that got us to this point are proof that Dalton McGuinty did not heed that message. In fact, he showed us all that Ontarians’ doubt in him is extremely well justified. Dalton McGuinty behaved like the absolute monarch that he believed he was. When he found that he was outranked, he started grasping at straws. When he didn’t read the small print, he threw a hissy fit, a tantrum. He refused to collaborate, notwithstanding his frequent use of that word. The Liberal idea of collaboration is to demand that the opposition accept this weak budget or face the threat of an election.

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I want to tell you, Speaker, that in the last several days, the idea of collaboration that has been expressed by the Premier of Ontario since the date of the election last October actually found legs within the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. My friend the member from Ottawa Centre, at the outset of his comments this morning referred to it. I will not say that the time spent in hearings, and certainly not the time spent on clause-by-clause, was an easy time. I will say that it allowed for each party to express—on behalf of its own caucus, on behalf of its principles, on behalf of the people that all of our members represent—the views of the different parties. It allowed for the expression of opinions, for the opportunity to come back with a budget bill that, while not what they wanted, and certainly not what we wanted—and I’ve got to assume not what you wanted—that Ontarians will have a budget on which to operate, and they’ll see the veracity of what is contained in my comments today.

It’s only by threatening Ontarians with an election that Dalton McGuinty got his budget through—by the way, by our calculation, about 81% untouched. He wouldn’t listen to our amendments, not in committee; his party was not interested in that kind of collaboration, wasn’t even interested in doing what was or is best for Ontarians. Liberals were very focused on clinging to their seats, clinging to their salaries.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party is in this Legislative Assembly because we take our responsibility to represent our constituents, Ontarians, very seriously. That is our priority; that is our principle. Because of that principle, we voted against the budget, and we will vote against this budget bill today.

We love Ontario. I’m going to say it again: We love Ontario. I am sick to death of the intimation by the other side that, when we criticize what we see happening in the province of Ontario, that somehow or other that should be equated with a word like “slagging,” that that should be in some way deemed to be negative on the province. The very fact of the matter is we are here in this Legislature, we are fighting this fight, I am speaking these words, and we are sitting in committees and trying to get the best deal possible, very specifically because we love Ontario so much, because we want Ontario to be what it once was and because we know that Ontario has the potential to go there. Ontario has the potential to go back to the top of the heap, but not if we operate on a financial plan like the one put forward, much less the one that we’re being asked to deliberate on today.

In conclusion, now that Liberal hand-wringing and the NDP flip-flopping may finally be over, we should focus all of our energies on addressing the jobs crisis that Ontario is facing, on controlling spending, on reforming how we hire, how we pay, how we negotiate, how we procure, how we arbitrate with labour.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Progressive Conservative Party is ready to work.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words about the budget that we’ll be voting on in just a short time. Before I get into my speech, though, I think it’s extremely important that I acknowledge the hard work of Michael Prue and Cindy Forster—the member for Beaches–East York and the member for Welland, our leads on committee; as well as the member for Timmins–James Bay, Mr. Bisson; our caucus, who have done a fantastic job over these last couple of weeks; and our staff, who have worked diligently to get us where we are today.

Speaker, three months ago, when we started debate on this budget, I was perfectly clear, and I can even quote myself: “This is a budget that leaves everyday people falling behind” in many, many crucial ways. That’s what I’ve said from day one. And from day one, New Democrats had a huge decision to make.

For us, the very first step was really quite a simple step, Speaker. We actually decided to talk to people. We asked the people of Ontario to tell us what they thought, and they responded. We heard from tens of thousands of people. Most people simply didn’t want an election, but many people think it’s worth having one over this particular budget. Some people are worried about the lack of a jobs plan. Some are worried about the impact of cuts on our health care that this budget contains. Some feel they’re asked to take yet another hit to the family budget while those who can most afford to pay keep getting all the breaks. Some are worried about a reckless plan to sell off our assets and create more Ornges in the province of Ontario. But as we went through this process of consulting with Ontarians, two things were very, very consistent: They feel this government hasn’t listened to them, and they’re worried that this budget will leave them falling further and further behind.

Listening was the first step. The second step was a little bit harder. We could either roll up our sleeves and work hard to try to get the results for people, results for everyday folks, or we could throw up our hands and simply walk away, as others have done in the process. We’ve seen all the chest-thumping from both the government side and the opposition benches: the blame games, the phony bravado and, in fact, the focus on ourselves. The people who sent us here got lost in the shuffle. Speaker, we’re trying something a little harder: We’re showing the people of this province that we’re willing to make a minority work for them—not for the Liberal Party; not, frankly, for the New Democrats; for the people who actually sent us here.

It’s no surprise to anybody that I don’t work for Dalton McGuinty. I work for the people of this province, and they need someone in their corner because times are tough for them. It’s no secret that the difference in this province between the very rich and the rest of us, that gap, continues to grow in Ontario. In fact, incomes right now are as concentrated as they were in the 1920s. The average hourly wage for working people in Ontario hasn’t changed since 1991, after inflation is taken into account, Speaker. Most people in this province are getting by with less.

Of course, as we all know, there are always exceptions to the rule. Canada’s CEOs are doing better than at any other time in our history. In fact, by 3 p.m. on January 1, they’d already collected more in pay than the average person earns in an entire year.

There’s growing evidence, and I think there are actually some at least on a couple of benches in this House who agree with the evidence, that a society where people at the top have thousands and thousands more wealth than people at the bottom doesn’t just hurt people at the bottom; it hurts everyone, even people at the top. Frankly, that’s why we worked really hard for the fairness tax, a fairness tax that would ensure that the super-rich pay a little bit more. We won. That’s New Democrats getting results.

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The people who sent us here need a stronger, better health care system. Fifty years ago, Tommy Douglas and the pioneers of medicare dreamed of a medical system where people didn’t just receive treatments when they were ill, but they received support so they would not fall ill in the first place. When we fast-forward to today, we see that the quality of people’s health is still dependent on the size of their wallet. That is unacceptable.

The proposed budget is going to lead to hospital closures in communities across Ontario. This is something we’re very, very concerned about here in the New Democratic caucus. The fact is, closing local hospitals will mean that people who need critical care are going to end up travelling further and further and further just to get the care they need. Patients and their families have made it very clear that this is not where we should be cutting in Ontario.

The scandal at Ornge has taught us that there are too many people who see our health care system as a way to make money instead of a way to help patients. That’s simply wrong, and that’s why we fought hard for increased funding for rural and northern health care, and we won. That’s New Democrats getting results.

A better Ontario also has child care for families who need it. I had the pleasure of visiting a number of child care centres recently, most recently the Emmanuel at Brighton centre in Kitchener–Waterloo. When you look at what’s happening in those centres, what’s being offered to young children, it’s very obvious that they’re a necessary part of a healthy Ontario. That’s why we fought hard to make sure centres like the one on Noecker Street in K-W would actually stay open. Speaker, we won that fight. That’s New Democrats getting results for the people.

Ontarians said they were also disgusted—disgusted—and so was I, and many others in this chamber, by scandal after scandal after scandal in this government. When we look at the mess at Ornge, we know that things must change. Instead, we saw more of the schemes like Ornge in this budget bill, schemes like the privatizing of ServiceOntario.

We put forward amendments in that process of committee that would have kept ServiceOntario from turning into yet another Ornge in this province. We suggested that there should be oversight from the Auditor General, the Ombudsman and in fact this very Legislature.

On the very day the Auditor General said that the disaster at Ornge might have been prevented if there had been Auditor General oversight, Liberal and Conservative members voted against—voted against, Speaker—more oversight and voted in favour of the privatization of ServiceOntario, without that oversight.

Interjection: Shame.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: That is shameful.

Let me be very clear: New Democrats do not believe that an agency which generates revenue, which provides services that are as public as public can be, like issuing drivers’ licences and birth certificates, and which maintains private information on millions of Ontarians, should be in private hands. We don’t believe it should be in private hands. It should be in public hands.

If this government wants to plod forward on poorly advised privatization, there should at least be oversight from independent officers of this Legislature and the Legislature itself. When it comes to oversight, I don’t think anybody in Ontario has any question in their mind: More oversight is better. When it comes to privatizing ServiceOntario without any oversight and without any safeguards, just remember: You had a choice.

At a time when the results of poor oversight are front and centre with the Ornge scandal, we fought really strong and we fought really hard for stronger whistle-blower protection, for real oversight from the Ombudsman, and real protection from reckless privatization schemes. Unfortunately, we lost some, but we did win some, and we’re proud of our results. I’m proud of our results. We didn’t get everything we wanted. We didn’t get everything that the people need, in our humble opinion, but we had to put up with a heck of a lot of nonsense to get what we did get. But I have to say I’m proud that we stood firm; we stood strong.

Notwithstanding everything that’s been thrown at us, we did the right thing, and we’ve delivered on real change for the people of this province, and we won’t allow that budget to be lost today.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Monte McNaughton: It’s an honour to rise in the Legislature today to debate, discuss and encourage some thought on the implications of Bill 55, the so-called Strong Action for Ontario Act.

This budget should strive to build a strong foundation for Ontario’s economy, but unfortunately, the Liberal government has failed at its attempt to draft an effective budget because they didn’t get the fundamentals right, and without a strong foundation, without the right fundamentals, Ontario’s economy will not grow and may not even survive.

One essential element of a strong foundation is a government that represents the people. Throughout my first session here at Queen’s Park, I have met with the people and have heard their perspective on what Ontario needs. I disagree with the Liberal government’s approach of implementing legislation without consultation. The people know the challenges Ontario is facing because they live with them each and every day. It is because of my opposition to the Liberal government’s heavy-handed approach to governing that I tabled my first private member’s bill, Bill 76, entitled Ensuring Local Voices in New Casino Gambling Development Act. My bill, Bill 76, will require that a successful municipal referendum be completed prior to any new casino development.

You see, Speaker, local decision-making is a fundamental aspect of Canadian politics, and I am sad to say it is a value that has slowly faded over the last nine years under this Liberal government. Our province is now at a point where the people of Ontario are being told what to do, a top-down approach that has proven to fail. There is no longer consultation on the part of this government, and indeed voices are often silenced. Unfortunately, the budget here today does nothing to improve local input on important issues such as new casino development.

In early March, I hosted a community town hall in my riding that had a turnout of well over 300 people. A few weeks after hosting the community town hall along with my neighbour from Sarnia–Lambton, MPP Bob Bailey, I held community pre-budget consultations. We met with dozens of organizations and groups that represented a variety of social and economic interests. Some people drove over an hour and a half to be with us at that meeting, to have their voices heard.

Here at Queen’s Park, I met with hundreds of stakeholder groups and individuals who have all told me the same thing, Speaker: Ontario needs a new direction. Things have to change, and the people have to be involved in that change. Unfortunately, this budget changes very little. Actually, it’s really just more of the same tired and recycled approach that we’ve seen over the past nine years under this Liberal government.

In my riding, one of the many issues of concern is the issue of wind turbines and specifically the Premier’s failed Green Energy Act. Our caucus has led three initiatives to stop the development of wind turbines until further comprehensive studies and consultations have been completed. These initiatives aimed to ensure that local voices were involved in the approval process of the establishment of wind turbines in their local communities.

The Liberal government voted down all three of these important motions. Again, we see the Liberal government not addressing the issues at hand and moving forward with their own agenda, with little or no consultation with the people of this province.

Unfortunately, again, these issues are not being addressed with Bill 55. Electricity prices for the average Ontario consumer have doubled under this Liberal government, and prices are projected to rise another 46% in the next five years. We all know the reason for the mass exodus of manufacturers from Ontario is a result of the unaffordable cost of hydro in this province. This is a huge factor in the high rate of unemployment in Ontario and is something that the Liberal government is also refusing to address in this budget.

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Skyrocketing hydro rates have also affected small businesses in my riding. Sobeys in downtown Wallaceburg, as I’ve mentioned on many occasions, announced they would be closing and laying off 70 employees. Company representatives have stated that the store is no longer a viable option, with a major factor being skyrocketing energy costs. This budget does nothing to resolve these issues, and I simply cannot support legislation that does not address the core issues facing our families and facing our province.

Another issue that men and women in Ontario are currently facing is a poorly designed decision to end the successful slots-at-racetracks program and, as a result, destroy a viable and successful industry. I have travelled across Ontario visiting racetracks and meeting with track owners, farmers, horsemen and local leaders. There is great potential for this industry to flourish, but our Premier, Dalton McGuinty, has pulled the carpet out from underneath the feet of the people in the horse racing industry and left 60,000 men, women and small business owners with no options and absolutely no future.

Worst of all, again there were no industry consultations on behalf of this government. The Minister of Agriculture has been muzzled by his Liberal colleagues, and the finance minister has made regular offensive remarks targeted at the industry. He has shown no respect for these hard-working men and women. This is a result of nine years of arrogance settling in.

As of right now, the government has promised up to $50 million in transition funding over three years. This does not come anywhere close to a transition plan. The industry is calling it a joke. I would have liked to see the current Bill 55 address some of these concerns as well.

Since February, we have seen several credit downgrades because the proposed Liberal budget does not do enough to rein in overall spending. I have with me a recent report done by the Fraser Institute entitled the finance minister’s “missed opportunity.” The article highlights how there are no overall spending cuts in this budget. I have with me a quote from page 17 of the article: “Rather than strike at the root of the problem to close the budget gap, Duncan chose to tinker with the growth rate in spending—that is, he will still increase spending, but at a slower rate.”

Currently, the Liberal government is spending $1.8 million more per hour than it takes in. This budget increases spending in 14 of 24 government ministries, which together account for more than 80% of total government spending in the province of Ontario. How can a government justify this kind of spending when Ontario is headed toward a $30-billion deficit and a $411-billion debt?

An Ontario PC government would have brought in an immediate mandatory public sector pay freeze—no exceptions, no special rules—and a plan to fix our broken public sector salary arbitration system to respect the ability of taxpayers to pay the bills, to respect local economic circumstances.

While private sector unemployment has reached over half a million people, public sector salaries have increased by 46%. Currently, there are almost 80,000 public sector employees earning $100,000 or more. By comparison, when the Liberals were first elected in 2003, there were only 20,000 public sector workers earning over $100,000 a year. That is the growth in the size and cost of government that has happened under this Premier and under this scandal-plagued government.

Every business owner knows he must make tough choices to keep costs and revenues in balance. The current government refuses to make these difficult choices, because they lack leadership and direction. They take the easy road, choosing instead to increase debt and, of course, the Liberal way, increase taxes.

Speaker, the party opposite, the current government, has no jobs plan. They have no deficit-control plan; they have no plan to deal with our crippling debt. Instead, the Liberal government is more concerned about threatening an election and playing out a political soap opera with the third party than they are with putting forward a respectable and sound budget bill for this House to consider.

So I will continue, and my colleagues beside me as well, to promote our positive PC plan to reduce the overall size and cost of government, to build and grow our economy with new jobs, and we will ensure that Ontario will lead again.

The proposed budget fails to take the action required to prevent a $30-billion deficit and does nothing to create jobs and grow our economy. Over the last eight months since the election, the economic state of Ontario has not improved. Unfortunately, it is a poorer place, Speaker. Overspending continues when, instead, we need urgent action to get our fiscal house in order. Even with this budget, there is still a looming $30-billion deficit. Spending is up $1.8 billion, not down. The debt is up $23 billion, not down. There is nothing here to foster private sector job creation—just more taxes on businesses, more taxes on entrepreneurs who want to invest and create jobs right here in the province of Ontario.

I will be voting against this budget. I encourage my colleagues in this House to vote with the PC caucus. Vote against this budget, and oppose this wasteful and unfocused direction that Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal cabinet are taking us in.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? The member from Beaches–East York.

Mr. Michael Prue: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It’s good to see you in the chair, and I appreciate the way you are maintaining order this morning.

We just sat through a number of days in a very difficult process. The budget process is not an easy one. Any of the members of the committee can tell you how difficult it is to deal with a thousand votes, how difficult it is to try to make things connect, how difficult it is in a tense environment to be civil.

First of all, I want to thank the Chair, the member from Mississauga–Streetsville, who was probably the best person to pull that off. Although he and I have had our differences over the years, I must commend him for the way in which he managed the very difficult process.

I would also like to thank my colleagues on all sides of the House who sat on the committee. Although we did not always agree, with one or two very small exceptions we were always civil and kept the whole debate above name-calling. That was very good.

I thank my colleague the member from Scarborough–Agincourt for bringing in some delightful baked goods yesterday, which she shared with all members of the committee, as I had tried to do in the previous days with members of the committee, because it’s a collegial experience, and it’s a difficult one.

Mr. Greg Sorbara: You should bring in wine.

Mr. Michael Prue: You can’t drink wine in committee, or I would have brought it, and it would’ve helped. I would have brought the wine in for the member from Vaughan, first of all.

This difficult process was made very much worse because there were people on the outside who were interfering. When the Premier started calling the leader of the NDP names, it wasn’t helpful to the process. When the finance minister weighed in and said all kinds of unkind things that simply weren’t true, and then the member from Vaughan weighed in and started yelling about an election and being stabbed in the back—when I watched these hurtful, horrible things on television, I thought, if only they had kept their nose out of it.

The committee was doing the right things. Today, when we stand in here, we all talk about the right things that the committee did.

Please, member from Vaughan, tell the Premier and the finance minister, if we do this next year, to butt out. We don’t need your two cents on the television. We need to do our job, and we need do it right. The members from the Liberal Party were doing the right thing in committee, and they were doing it without your interference.

I want to say we are proud, in the New Democratic Party, to have stood up for our principles. There were many pressures, and we did not succumb to those pressures. We did not succumb to the pressure—“It’s our way or the highway. Do what we want or there’s going to be an election”—because we didn’t think that what was being said was right. What was right was to get results. What was right was to vote on those 1,000 votes we had to take through amendments, schedules and everything else over three days, and we did it. In the process, we stood up for our values.

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I am heartened to see that my colleague the member from Thornhill, who doesn’t like this budget, at least wants to run out and buy a copy of The Spirit Level. I would recommend the book to him and to the maybe dozen people who came before us and talked about economic equality and how Ontario will work better if there is economic equality, because, as a New Democrat, with all my heart I believe that. I think the committee heard some very valuable insights.

In the end, we voted for the majority of the budget and we voted against certain things. What I voted against, and what I believe was the right thing to do, was the whole gamut, the whole effort of this government to go along the privatization route. They said they wanted to do this to save money.

I was a mayor, and we had an experiment in East York about privatization. We privatized half the garbage, and we left half in public hands. The first year, it was cheaper doing it private, sure, because they undercut everybody to get the contract. The second year, it was the same price. The third year, it was cheaper on the public side. The fourth year, the business was sold to another private company because they weren’t making any money. In the fifth year, not a single private company bid for the contract, because they could not compete with the public service. It taught me a very valuable lesson. For those people who think privatizing ServiceOntario is going to save money somehow, I will tell you it is not.

Yesterday, in the midst of all this, a letter arrived in my office from 3M. Well, 3M wants to take the licence plates and all the licensing—take it and make a huge profit off it. I am very mindful—very mindful—that this service cannot and will not be the same. I have nothing against 3M; they’re in there to make a profit, just like any company. But I don’t want my public records to be given out to a private company controlled in the United States. I think my licence statistics and everything else need to be here.

I have this whole thing against privatization, and I have no problem with saying that I voted against those schedules that will lead to privatization—6, 7 and 13. I am disappointed that 28, of course, passed. But, notwithstanding, it will be much more difficult for this government to privatize in the future.

I do not believe in gutting environmental protection. Many times in this Legislature we have been chided for gutting environmental protection, but this Bill 55 had all the hallmarks of doing exactly that. In the end, I am thankful that the Liberal members on the committee voted against that schedule too—took it out, gone—because it was the wrong thing to do.

There were 69 schedules, Mr. Speaker, and of the 69 schedules many are now deleted. It was not just the NDP that voted to delete them, it was not just the Conservatives that voted to delete them; in some cases, it was the Liberals themselves that voted to delete them. That was the right thing, and the committee did the right thing in the end.

As a result, I believe we have a better bill—not a perfect bill, not a New Democrat bill, not something I would have proposed if I was the finance minister, but a better bill all the same. Even the finance minister, in all the bluff and bluster of the last few days that this was going to cost billions of dollars to the treasury, what happened in committee on Thursday, last week—

Mr. Rosario Marchese: It was $3 billion, all told.

Mr. Michael Prue: —$3 billion—now concedes and says that the budget still works, that the revenues are unchanged and the expenditures are unmoved. So, you know, I have to question all that bluff and bluster coming from the sidebar and the side rooms while the committee was doing exactly the right thing.

I want to just talk for a couple of minutes on the leader of the NDP, Andrea Horwath. She is a woman of considerable strength. There are people who lead parties in other parts of the province who would have succumbed to the bullying that took place this weekend. There are people who would have fallen for the threats of elections, who would have backed down, who would have said, “We are not going to do what we are going to do.” But she was not one of them.

She refused to cave in to those threats and those intimidations. She refused to cave in to the sabre-rattling about an unnecessary election. Even though we, as New Democrats, have polled some 30,000 people in the lead-up, knew that people did not want an election, she would not budge. As a leader, she stood firm for her principles, and she took the actions that were consistent with the statements that she has made over many months. She stated time after time after time, in newspaper and television interviews, that New Democrats would go to the committee and would make changes to the bill, and that’s precisely what we did.

There should have been no surprise from anyone in the government. There should have been no surprise and people saying they were stabbed in the back, because that simply was not true. The fact is, we said we were going to change the bill, and we changed the bill. We changed the bill consistent with those things that we believe in, and we changed the bill with the support of Conservative members and of Liberal members where they saw that it was wrong.

The people recognize the strengths, and they recognize the fact that we ensured that there will be no election. And because there will be no election, they will have a budget which is a better budget than they would have had, had New Democrats not been there. The people recognize the strengths of our leader, and they recognize her will to make minority government work and her will to make sure that this Legislature succeeds.

We have processes in place to make sure it succeeds, and one of the best processes we have is the committee system, where members of all parties work together in the end to produce the results that the people of Ontario want. Would that in the future, members of the executive council, members who wish they were still on the executive council, would leave the committees alone to do the right job, because in the end I know that those people will be standing up for the budget as the Liberal backbenchers who did all the work over the last days will be doing the same thing.

I want to conclude by thanking the House leaders and staff, not only from the NDP, although I worked closely with them; they did a phenomenal job. But to watch the House leaders and staff in the committee rooms; to watch the all-party consent that those staff could sit with us as we went through 1,000 separate votes to make sure everybody was understanding; to watch the Liberal and the Conservative and the NDP staff sit there and talk to each other and figure out what was happening and advise us on how we could make compromises in votes—it was truly brilliant to watch.

This is the way government should work. This is the way minority government has to work. And if we come back next year to do it all again, please make sure we do it right, and please, no more bluff and bluster.

Applause.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Victor Fedeli: The sound of one hand clapping.

Good morning, Speaker. I rise to address Bill 55. This budget does nothing to bring relief to the 600,000 unemployed in Ontario. This budget does nothing to reduce the size and cost of government. This budget provided an opportunity to tackle those two very important issues. Instead, this budget compounds the problems. Spending goes up, the deficit goes up, taxes go up, unemployment goes up, energy rates go up. The only thing that has gone down is our credit rating.

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Speaker, our province today is upside down. Ontario was once the engine of Confederation. I was proud to grow up in an Ontario where the world was at our doorstep. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t do if we wanted to. Today, we have become a have-not province. That did not happen by accident. We let the Liberal government take over the province, and they went on a taxing and spending spree that has caused almost irreparable damage.

When they took over in 2003, our budget was $65 billion. Today our budget has almost doubled, to over $125 billion. They taxed us, and then they spent our money. Then they spent even more than they took in, so now we are running a deficit. In fact, it took 136 years for 23 Premiers to build up a $150-billion debt, and it took Dalton McGuinty only eight years to double it.

This budget does nothing to rein in the deficit, Speaker. It only adds to our debt. Instead of reining in spending, the government looks to increase revenues. They’re adding taxes and cancelling the legislated tax reductions to business. These are the two things that will kill jobs in Ontario.

Speaking of things that have doubled under Dalton McGuinty, have you looked at your energy bill this month? You will note that it has more than doubled since Dalton McGuinty took over in office. His failed energy plan has caused 300,000 manufacturing jobs to be lost in Ontario. In northern Ontario alone, we lost 10,000 resource sector jobs. Sixty mills have closed. Xstrata Copper in Timmins, the single largest user of power in Ontario, shut down, terminated 670 employees and opened just across the border in Quebec for cheaper power. And where did Quebec get some of that power?

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Here’s the rub.

Mr. Victor Fedeli: That is the rub. Our failed green energy plan supplied it to them. You see, Speaker, we overpay for companies to produce power from wind. As most of that power is generated at night, when our demand is low, we then pay Quebec and the US to take our surplus power. The Auditor General told us that in the last few years we’ve paid $1.8 billion to do just that. In fact, in the first 10 months of last year, it cost us $420 million—in the first 10 months alone. So those Quebec and US companies then use that cheap power to lure companies like Xstrata and others out of Ontario and into their laps.

Speaker, if it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable. But it’s not. It’s tragic; so tragic that we now have 600,000 in total unemployed in Ontario. We lost a further 31,000 full-time jobs just last month. This is the 65th consecutive month that Ontario’s unemployment rate has been higher than the national average. Speaker, this budget does absolutely nothing to bring any sign of relief to those unemployed. In nine months, all this government has done is compound the problem.

Earlier, I spoke of all the things that are going up: spending, the deficit, taxes, energy, unemployment, all going up. What has gone down, Speaker? Our credit rating. It’s bad enough, actually, that the province’s credit rating has tumbled under this Liberal government, but what is worse is that it’s taking others down with it. Other provincially funded bodies with excellent credit ratings saw their ratings drop, as they could not have a better rating than their guarantor, the province.

We saw Hydro One see its senior unsecured debt rating fall from A1 to AA3. Six other linked issuers also saw their debt rating cut, including the Hospital for Sick Children, 55 School Board Trust, the Ontario School Boards Financing Corp., Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corp., the University of Ontario and the University of Ottawa. Speaker, my own hometown, the city of North Bay, one of the few cities in all of Ontario that had an A1 credit rating, was also dragged down by the province.

These organizations did nothing on their own to deserve that downgrade. The changes in their ratings are solely as a result of the downgrade issued to the province of Ontario.

While I’m talking about home, let me talk about another thing that has gone down, Speaker. As I mentioned earlier, Ontario was once the engine of Confederation. If we were the engine, then certainly northern Ontario was the fuel for that engine. The lumber, the minerals and the brainpower all fuelled the once-powerful Ontario. Ten years ago, we were ranked number one in the world in mining. Today, we have dropped to number 19.

When diamonds were discovered in Ontario, what’s the first thing this government did after the mine was under construction? They introduced a diamond tax. Now we have chromite discovered in the Ring of Fire. You can presume what’s coming next, Speaker: Is the government contemplating a chromite tax? Do you think the mining companies worldwide even trust this Liberal government?

To make matters worse, the Liberal government has passed the Far North Act, which restricts mining and forestry in the north and makes over half of northern Ontario a virtual museum. Now you can understand how we’ve fallen to number 19 in mining and why forestry has fallen even further.

This brings me to the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. Let me say that I do not support the fire sale of Ontario Northland. Everyone knows that the ONTC cannot continue the way it is, but a fire sale is not the answer for Ontario Northland.

Speaker, there are better days ahead for Ontario. Our party has provided this government with ideas to create jobs, to reduce the size and cost of government and to tackle the jobs and debt crisis. This government has rejected all of our ideas to do this. We have a plan, a plan that can put Ontario on the right footing and on a path to real recovery.

We join our leader Tim Hudak and together we continue to take our message to the people every single day. We will reduce the size and cost of government and we will create a climate for private investment in Ontario. We will be number one again. We will lead Confederation again.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Ms. Cindy Forster: I’m rising to speak on the budget bill, Bill 55. I’ve been involved in many budget processes over the last 20 years at a municipal and regional level, but none like the marathon that we just participated in over a period of seven days: four days of deputations from over 80 different individuals and agencies and three days of clause-by-clause amendments, of which there were 215. Only a very few of those were withdrawn or ruled out of order, so I actually congratulate the legislative staff for all the hard work that they did preparing all of those amendments and putting them in order in a way that made some sense to us.

It was a good way as well for me to learn, only having been here for six or seven months, about a variety of companies and agencies that are involved with the province and that had an interest in coming and making deputations to the finance committee. I also learned very quickly about the legislative process in that seven-day period.

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I especially want to thank the member from Beaches–East York, the pro from the finance committee, for his guidance. On a number of occasions he had to nudge me to vote because I was so entrenched in what I was reading that I almost forgot. So he did a good job keeping me on track as well.

I want to thank all the members, though, of the finance committee, because they all operated in a very professional manner, with the exception of one or two little blips. It was very professional. It was very courteous. We are in a very contentious process and environment in a minority government, right? So I think everybody did really well, and they should be congratulated for that.

For me, it was especially heartening to see individuals and groups of people—and there’s two in particular. There was one individual, a man from Toronto—an architect, I believe—who came forward, and there were two elderly women who came forward who had actually been in a group—I can’t remember their name at the moment. Since 1949, they’ve had this group, and they actually go out and advocate for those people living in poverty, to raise the standard of living for people who live in Toronto. They held a public town hall meeting at the St. Lawrence Market prior to the budget bill and they had several hundred people out. They came and they made a presentation, along with this architect, and they talked about how, when low-income people and people living in poverty do well, we all do well. They had no self-interest. They were only there to have their say, make themselves heard and hopefully try and improve the lives of people who live in this province. So it was really good that people would give of their time and of themselves to come out and make those kinds of statements. They talked about increasing social assistance and about how people on social assistance are living so much below the poverty line. They talked about improving the situation for those living in poverty, and they talked about increasing the minimum wage to make sure that all Ontarians are doing well.

I want to thank the staff, particularly of the NDP caucus. Those people worked many, many hours, long hours into the evenings and into the night and over the weekend, and they did a great job giving us advice and support all throughout the process.

It’s important, though, to thank the thousands of individuals who emailed us, who called us, who wrote us letters and who came and made deputations so that we could mould the amendments to improve this budget. Did everyone get what they wanted? No, we didn’t. I’m sure the Liberals will say that they didn’t, and I’m sure that the PCs—well, we’ve heard that they didn’t. But this is a minority government, and in a minority government we need to negotiate with each other so that we all get what we want to improve the lives of people who live in this province. That’s what we did over the last 10 or 12 days. We worked together to make sure that we all could actually live with this budget.

Now, there’s been a lot of press in the last few days that our leader spoke to and that the member from Beaches–East York spoke to, and I just wanted to get on the record and make it clear that from the very beginning, from the budget motion, our message was that we would allow the budget motion to pass in order to get the budget bill to committee so that we could make amendments. We were not going to be living with the budget bill as it was, and that was our message. We’re on the record. You can check any newspaper in this province. That was the message that came from all of our members. So for the government to kind of interfere in the process in the last four days I don’t think was very appropriate. But at the end of the day, we stood strong. We stood together, and we made some amendments to that bill that actually will improve the lives of some people who live in this province—not all, but some. We achieved some increases in social assistance. We preserved daycare spaces in this province.

Andrea Horwath, our leader, is known as the Steeltown Scrapper. There’s a reason that she actually has that name. She stood strong, she stood firm, and we were able to make those amendments to that budget.

We’re still very concerned, Speaker. The NDP are still very concerned about our health care. Now, we know that the government has said they want to preserve health care, they want to preserve education, and they want to create jobs in this province. But we think that a 0% increase in funding to public hospitals is going to result in reduction in services, it’s going to result in layoffs, and it’s going to result in closures of community and rural hospitals in this province. We don’t think that’s a good thing.

We also are still very concerned about privatization. We don’t believe in privatization. We believe in strong public services for this province. We believe the government needs to administer its own services, with oversights, with transparency and with accountability, and not pass it off to the private sector so that then we can say we’re not to blame when something goes wrong.

The member from Beaches–East York talked about waste management when he was the mayor. I have experienced similar situations in the Niagara region, where waste management was done, for example, by each of the cities. Then it came under regional control. The big guys actually outbid the little guys. Then suddenly, there are no little guys in that operation anymore. Then three or four years later, the price of waste management skyrockets. Who pays? The taxpayers, at the end of the day. The little guys are out of business. The little guys that were actually paying decent wages to their employees are gone. Now the big guys are in there. The price of waste management has gone up. The workers are being paid minimum wage. That’s privatization in that area. That’s one of the reasons that we don’t support privatization.

Anyway, I’m getting the sign here that I need to sign off.

While we didn’t get everything that we wanted, we were able to make some positive amendments to the budget, and we look forward to the next budget.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? Further debate? Last call.

The member from Essex.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you very much, Speaker. I’m pleased to add to the debate my synopsis of possibly what a new member has witnessed and observed throughout the nine months that we’ve been here—what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard. Ultimately, it starts at the beginning. To quote the Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Of course, here we are at the end.

What I witnessed was a government that, from the outset, failed to listen. Immediately in the process of building a budget, we saw a government that couldn’t get its act together in forming committees, which ultimately led to a real backlog in the process, and then outsourced the process of developing a budget to one guy. That was Mr. Don Drummond, through the Drummond process. You took every aspect of Drummond’s recommendations, you digested them, and you regurgitated them back into the budget that we found as Bill 55.

One of those factors—I mean, let alone the attack on public sector workers, the teacher-bashing that we saw in there, the firefighter-bashing that we’ve seen within Bill 55—was an attack on rural Ontario and our agricultural sector with the dismantling of the slots-at-racetracks program—

Interjections.

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Could I have your attention, please? This is really getting loud. I cannot even hear the member, let alone see him, because people are standing in the way. So I’d appreciate a little bit of co-operation. We’ve only got a few minutes to go until D-Day, so let’s please be quiet. Thanks.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you, Speaker.

I do have just a brief time to talk here. You know, there’s been a lot of discussion on whether this province has a spending problem or a revenue problem, and ultimately, we’ll be returning back to our ridings in short order. I would suggest that this Legislature has a listening problem. Go home, go home, shut your mouths, and listen to the people of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Essex will withdraw the last statement.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I withdraw. I will say close the channels of your oratory organs. Fermez, fermez. Go home and do some listening. None of us here produces anything. We produce words; we don’t even produce a pencil. Go home and talk to the real people in your ridings who make things at the end of the day, who produce tangible products that help this economy, that help our province. Go and listen to those people.

That’s what you should have done at the beginning of the election in October. You failed to do that. You have another chance. Come back in the fall and tell us what you heard. If not, you will have failed again, absolutely failed again. Go talk to the residents of rural Ontario, find out how your decision on dismantling the slots-at-racetracks program is going to devastate the rural regions of this province, and come back with a firm resolve to actually fix the problems that you created.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. John Vanthof: I rise to speak today on Bill 55, on behalf of the residents of Timiskaming–Cochrane who put me here, and in this case, on behalf of a lot of the residents in northern Ontario.

A lot of people complain that this government hasn’t created jobs and hasn’t lost jobs, and I represent Bob McMurdy from Mohawk Garnet, who is building a mine—125 jobs. Bob’s problem is that he can’t get hydro services to the line, and right now I’m trying to work with the Minister of Energy to get that done.

We’ve got True North plywood. What they need is money for training for the employees, and I’m working with the Minister of Colleges and Universities to get that done. That’s what we got elected to do here. We didn’t get elected to just argue. We got elected to get things done.

Is this budget doing everything that we want it to do? Absolutely not. Is it our budget? Absolutely not. There’s one issue, though—you know, it’s in the budget, it’s not in the budget—and that’s ONTC. We put in the negotiations. It wasn’t in the budget. We put it there, at risk to ourselves, because it’s an important issue to the north. It’s a defining issue in the north. We didn’t get it in those negotiations. We tried to put it in committee, and it’s important to note that we weren’t expecting support from the Liberals in committee, but we were hoping for some support from the Conservatives. We didn’t get it.

But ONTC is not going away. The last time we fought for ONTC, it was against Mike Harris and the then Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Tim Hudak. We beat him, and I’d like to note that ONTC is not going away. Why is it not going away? Because, to northerners—the transcontinental railway, everyone knows the last spike was something that united the country. It was a long time ago. It united the country. And this announcement, without our input, without any chance for northerners to help make the decision, it’s like cutting the last tie between the north and the south. We really feel alienated, and it’s not a threat, it’s not something—but you talk to people on the street, and what the McGuinty government really has to make a long-term decision on is, does it want to be going down in history as the government that cut the last ties to northern Ontario? Because that’s what’s happening.

To those people who say that all we have to do is vote against the budget and you’ll stop the sale of ONTC, we fought against Mike Harris and against Tim Hudak the last time, and they haven’t made any sign that they would support us if we brought them down this time. So in essence, it’s better to deal with the devil you know than the one you don’t. But I’m telling you—and again, it’s not a warning—this is one of those decisions that is truly, truly alienating the people of northern Ontario, and unless we do something, we’re at a point of no return. So I will help this budget pass, but it has huge problems. Thank you, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Finally, the member from Vaughan has decided to stand up. Good.

Mr. Greg Sorbara: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is a rare opportunity for me. As my colleagues in this Legislature know, since stepping down from the—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Folks, I know it’s the last day of school, but could we keep it down, please? At least give the member the ability to say something. I can’t hear him. I can’t hear a word, and I have good hearing. That tells you how loud it is in here. So please keep it down.

Mr. Greg Sorbara: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I said, this is a rare opportunity for me. Generally, I leave legislative time to my colleagues in our party who are more articulate and have greater insight, but I relish the opportunity to be the final speaker on this very important budget bill.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve had a bit of a political crisis over the weekend. In my remarks I want to say a few words about that crisis. I want to express my joy that that crisis has now passed, that very soon in this Parliament we will vote in favour of the budget and, most importantly, that the budget will pass. That budget is going to provide a very firm economic foundation to the continuing economic recovery that we are enjoying in Ontario. As the Bard said, sir, “All’s well that ends well.”

I want to begin by congratulating all the members of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. I want to particularly point out the Chair, the member from Mississauga–Streetsville, who did such an excellent job; my friend from Ottawa Centre, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance; the member from Thornhill, who contributed greatly; and, of course, the member from Beaches–East York, who is a seasoned member of that committee and understands the province’s finances very well indeed.

What really happened since Thursday morning? Ontarians right across the province knew for weeks and months that there had been an agreement among this governing party and the New Democratic Party to let the budget pass. That was the agreement, and 13 million Ontarians knew that. On Thursday afternoon, all of that changed. On Thursday afternoon, the New Democrats, with the support of the Tories, began to remove very significant sections of the budget bill, and we saw that—perhaps we were wrong—as a fundamental breach of that agreement.

As a result of that, our Premier did exactly what he needed to do. He needed to inform the people of this province that if the budget did not pass, the government must resign and there must be an election. This is not a preference. This is parliamentary tradition for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Well, to the credit of, I think, everyone in this House and particularly the members of SCFEA, we got over that difficulty. But I’m here to suggest, sir, that there might have been a slightly better way to avoid this crisis. It’s a very simple solution. It’s called, pick up the phone. If the leader of the third party, the New Democratic Party, knowing full well that we were relying on her commitment—if her party decided it was time to change certain sections of the bill, that’s their prerogative. I simply say to her, next time, pick up the phone. Pick up the phone. Call the Premier. Call the Minister of Finance. Call the House leader. Pick up the phone and simply say, “I know we have an agreement, I understand we have an agreement but our party needs some changes. We need some amendments.” Maybe then we could have called a little bit of a time-out and had a discussion, and those changes could have been put on the table, and we could have avoided that crisis.

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But instead of that, the strategy was to say, “We had it all along in our minds that at the last minute we were going to change this bill.” I say—my advice, and I’ve been here a little while—is, simply pick up the phone.

I’ve got a good example of how that actually works very well, and I’m going to tell this House about picking up the phone with my friend from Trinity–Spadina.

During the original negotiations, he picked up the phone and called me. I picked up the phone; I called him. We had three meals together. We had coffee several times, and we spoke on the phone almost every day. We were not responsible for the negotiations. We had no authority, but it was in his interest and my interest that we work out an arrangement. As a result of those negotiations—and I say to my friend from Trinity–Spadina, I think we played a small part. We helped in that process.

This House is about to pass this budget. In listening this morning to the speeches, I must say I’ve been a little bit saddened. I just want to put it on the record. My good friend from Thornhill made a very articulate speech, but it’s the classic, “All I want to say is how horrible the Liberal government is, what terrible governing they’re doing.” You could have had the opportunity today to say, “I think we all did a pretty good job in this Legislature in getting this budget passed.”

I listened to the leader of the third party. She could have had an opportunity to say, “I actually like the result. I actually like the idea of the way in which we work together.” But instead, if you listen to her remarks, all she said was, “What a wonderful job I did. What a wonderful job my party did.” And that’s okay; that’s fair game in here. I had just thought that, this morning in particular, the mood might have been a little bit different, and I got a little bit of that mood in listening to the remarks of my friend from Beaches–East York.

This is a good day for Ontario. This is a very good day for Ontario. As we move towards this vote, having passed a budget shortly that creates a strong regulatory and legislative foundation for an economic recovery that we are seeing in the north, the south, the east and the west—jobs created in every part of the province—I want to take this opportunity, in the final words that will be spoken before we vote, to congratulate the 106 members of this Legislature, who, notwithstanding the partisanship, saw a higher calling; notwithstanding the urge to win and to be seen to win, saw the opportunity to do the right thing and make sure that this government has a budget and this government has a financial plan and that there will be no election this fall.

Secondly, I want to congratulate the 13 million Ontarians who seemed to get a message to us to do the right thing. They influenced our decision-making, and I want to express our gratitude perhaps on behalf of everyone for the messages that they sent.

Finally, I want to congratulate, in a very personal way, the work that my friend and my successor the Minister of Finance has done over the course of the past nine months. I know the burden of that job. I know how much it takes to make sure you get it right, and I say to my colleague the Minister of Finance that we in this Legislature and Ontarians across the province thank you, sir, and our Premier for your dedication.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Mr. Milloy has moved third reading of Bill 55. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour, say “aye.”

All those opposed, say “nay.”

I believe the ayes have it.

This vote is deferred until after question period.

Third reading vote deferred.

VISITOR

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): A point of order from the member from Thornhill.

Mr. Peter Shurman: Thank you very much, Speaker. A couple of things. One is that because this is an abnormal day, I didn’t have an opportunity to introduce somebody who’s very important to me. My 85-year-old father-in-law has never been in the Ontario Legislature before, and he’s here with us today for question period.

Applause.

Mr. Peter Shurman: I’ve got to say, Speaker, that his name is Norman Stoll. That’s the longest standing ovation I’ve seen in this Legislature for a visiting person, and I want to thank him for being here.

MEMBERS’ STAFF

Mr. Peter Shurman: Further to that point of order, I want to say something that hasn’t been said by anybody. Over the course of the last weeks, things have been particularly difficult around here. Some of us get praised and some of us get brickbats thrown at us. What never gets said is that we all have staffs who work behind us. I have four; I think everybody else has about the same. These people put in countless hours and incredible toil, do remarkable work, and we never say thank you enough. So I want to say thank you to my staff and to the staffs of everybody who works on behalf of this Legislature.

VISITORS

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for Parkdale–High Park on a point of order.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Yes, actually, an introduction, as well: to Melissa and Nathan Murray, who are good friends who are visiting on this momentous occasion.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I will make a call on this. There was an agreement on how we are to proceed, and it did not include the introductions portion. So that we can continue to fulfill what has been agreed upon, I would ask all members to not do these introductions.

MEMBERS’ STAFF

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): However, I will accept the one part of a point of order that thanks staff, because I am one who believes that we should always be thanking our staff, regardless of political party. So I thank the member for bringing that to our attention. It’s appropriate to thank those who have worked so hard.

ORAL QUESTIONS

ONTARIO BUDGET

Mr. Tim Hudak: My question to the Premier: Premier, eight months ago, Ontario voters sent us here to take on two major challenges: address the growing debt crisis in the province and help the economy create good private sector jobs—the kind of jobs that will be middle-class jobs, build security for families and make our province strong again. But Premier, sadly, your budget compounds the problem and makes things worse. The debt is actually going up; the deficit is up, not down; and we continue to shed good private sector jobs.

Premier, for nine years your failed economic plan has taken Ontario backwards. Why are you doubling down on a plan that makes no sense for families and is compounding the problems we face in the province of Ontario?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I’m pleased to take the question, Speaker. I know my honourable colleague will want to reflect on the facts, a couple of those being that unemployment is down in Ontario and so is the deficit. He’ll also want to give some credence at some point in time to the fact that we continue to create jobs in Ontario. Since the depths of the recession, 319,000 new jobs have been created in Ontario. We’ve reclaimed all the jobs that we lost, plus 20% more beyond that. We’ve created some 45% of all the jobs created in Canada since the recession.

Obviously, Speaker, there is still more work to do, and I look forward to working with my honourable colleague in the days to come to ensure that we can build a still stronger economy that creates still more jobs.

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The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Mr. Tim Hudak: Here’s the reality—I think it’s important to have a healthy dose of reality in the debate here, because there’s a lot at risk. The province has had its credit rating downgraded. We’ve shed 300,000 good manufacturing jobs but added on 300,000 government jobs. It’s not sustainable. Since the election, we’ve actually lost full-time jobs in the province of Ontario while other provinces have actually added jobs.

Premier, you claimed that you would bring in an austerity budget, but spending is up, not down; you’ve added $23 billion to the debt in this fiscal year alone; and you’ve done absolutely nothing to trigger private sector job creation. In fact, Speaker, he’s making it worse with brand-new taxes on businesses and entrepreneurs.

Premier, if your budget got downgraded by Moody’s, if your plan has failed the province—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order. Question, please.

Mr. Tim Hudak: —for eight or nine years, what’s going to be magic about this summer to turn things around? Isn’t it time to try a bold, new course to turn our great province around?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Hope springs eternal, Speaker, and the official opposition still will have an opportunity shortly to vote in favour of a strong plan that is found within our budget—still hopeful, Speaker. I’m hopeful nonetheless, and I’ll talk about—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m going to start right off the bat. The yelling for the sake of being loud is not acceptable, and I’m going to start identifying individuals.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, if we just look at the commitments we’re making to infrastructure investments over the course of the next three years, that’s some $35 billion. That translates on an average annual basis to about 100,000 jobs.

Let me give you some specifics: When it comes to investments that we’re making on highways, on average during the course of the next three years we’ll be creating 26,000 jobs every year; for universities and colleges, it’s 3,000; just for making spaces for full-day kindergarten, it’s 2,000; and in hospitals, Speaker, it’s 26,000 new jobs every single year.

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

Mr. Tim Hudak: Well, Premier, the Ontario PCs are going to say no to your plan to increase the debt, to chase jobs out of the province of Ontario.

I am proud, Speaker, to lead the only party in the Legislature that took a consistent, principled stand: pro-jobs, reducing spending, balancing the books in the province of Ontario right from day one.

Premier, I’ll say this again: We’re voting no because we believe it is time to take a new path in Ontario. A bold new path will make Ontario a leader, the best place in all of Canada to get a good job, to raise a family; the best place in all of Canada to start a small business, to see it grow. That’s our plan, Premier. Why won’t you shift course, join us and make Ontario the leader again in this great country—

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Rousing negativity, Speaker—it’s an unusual combination.

I say to my honourable colleague, the first thing that leadership demands of us is, you’ve got to show up; you’ve just got to show up. I remain optimistic. There will be more work to be done in the fall session, Speaker, and we will be looking to my honourable colleague in the official opposition as we deal with some difficult issues associated with public sector pay, for example. I extend this invitation publicly to my honourable colleague to give careful consideration as to how we might work together in a better way in the fall, especially when it comes to dealing with public sector pay issues.

ONTARIO BUDGET

Mr. Tim Hudak: Back to the Premier, I’ll extend my hand back to the Premier. If you want to join our plan to actually freeze public sector wages across the board, no hesitation, no delay, it will save us two and a half billion dollars. Premier, you’re welcome to come join us. We’ll even take you, because we think that maybe even you can get religion and understand you can’t spend your way to prosperity but understand that we actually have to support the private sector, not punish it; that we have to actually rein in spending in our province.

Speaker, I’m proud to say that we lead here a bold, principled alternative that says we put faith in the private sector for job creation, that there is a better way, that we can reduce the size and cost of government and not say that the government must forever increase and load on more and more debt. We want to see an Ontario that will rise again, that will lead again, that will be the leader in Canada. That’s where we stand. If you want to join us, come on over.

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Interjections.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I think my honourable colleague is shooting an ad in here today.

Speaker, I’ll tell you where we part company on the approach that they’re bringing. They want us to cut corporate taxes today. Over the course of the next three years, that would cost us $1.5 billion. They want us to cut the business education tax rate. Over the course of three years, that’s $300 million. They want us to keep in place a racetrack subsidy. Over the course of three years, that’s about $1 billion. When you add those together, we’re talking close to $3 billion in tax benefits or subsidies that would have to come out of health care and education, out of our hospitals and our schools. We can’t support that.

Our plan is about curbing our expenditures at the same time that we protect those services that families have got to be able to count on, like their schools and their health care.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: You know, it’s amazing, Speaker. Every time I ask the Premier about reducing the size and cost of government, about the necessity of balancing the books, he talks about more and more government spending. We’re saying that’s not the path forward.

We actually need to reduce the size and cost of government. We need to help the private sector succeed, not through expensive government handouts, but by creating the right environment for businesses to succeed, to prosper, to invest: affordable, reliable energy; lower, not higher, taxes; a government that says, “Our role is to get out of the way of business, get behind them and help them create jobs again.” Premier, that’s the way forward.

After nine years, why are you doubling down on a failed economic plan that has made Ontario a have-not province? Join with the PCs for a better tomorrow, a stronger Ontario, the best place in Canada to get a job.

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Again, I think it’s important to cut through these rhetorical flourishes so I can speak directly to what my honourable colleague is proposing.

We’re not going to be making cuts to our hospitals. We are not going to be making cuts to our schools. I want to make that perfectly clear.

Instead, Speaker, we’re bringing a balanced approach. We are, in fact, freezing corporate taxes at this point in our history. We’re freezing our business education taxes. We’re no longer going to provide subsidies for those kinds of things we can’t afford at this point in time.

Instead, we’ll continue to support our schools and our health care, and we’ll reduce our spending in a thoughtful, balanced and progressive way.

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

Mr. Tim Hudak: Here’s the bottom line Speaker: This morning, 600,000 women and men woke up in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario without a job. They’re out pounding the pavement today, emailing out their resumés. They saw nothing from this government, in any shape or form, of a new jobs plan to help give them some hope.

We’re their hope. We’re their hope for change, a plan that says we’ll put those people back to work in good, well-paying jobs, middle-class jobs in the province, with our job creation plan.

Premier, at a time that you should have reduced spending and balanced the books, we saw you increase spending in 14 out of 24 of your ministries. We saw a debt that goes up by $23 billion.

I can’t fix your budget mess, sir, but I can fix the province of Ontario with a bold plan that will take us to the top again. Your plan has failed. Change course. Won’t you consider, over the summer, the bold PC ideas to move our province forward, to make us number one? Premier, we hope to see that coming in the fall session.

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: The ideas aren’t bold; they’re just old. We’ve seen them before.

They want to give $3 billion into subsidies and corporate tax cuts and take that out of our schools and our hospitals. That is not something that we can support.

We think both families and businesses demand balance from us. That’s what our budget represents. It eliminates the deficit, it protects our schools and our health care, and it lays a new foundation for jobs and growth.

Speaker, the NDP say that we’re doing too much cutting; the Tories say that we’re not doing enough. That tells me we’ve got it right in the middle, which is exactly where we need to be.

ONTARIO BUDGET

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Later today, barring any surprises, this House is going to pass three bills. My question is a simple one to the Premier: Was that so hard?

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Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I say to my honourable colleague that I think the Bard put it best when he said, “All’s well that ends well.” I remain hopeful that together with my honourable colleague the leader of the NDP we can do what is necessary to reassure Ontarians that we have a strong plan of action that is in fact doing things the NDP wanted—freezing corporate taxes, creating a new tax category for our highest-income earners—and at the same time protecting our schools, protecting our health care and laying a foundation for new jobs and growth. We can only accomplish those kinds of things on behalf of Ontarians by working together.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: From day one I’ve been more than clear: This budget left Ontario families falling behind, and I intended to make it better. I’m proud that our team was able to do exactly—exactly—what they said they would do.

My question to the Premier is: Does he now finally recognize that the bluster and the threats don’t get results?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Introspection is always a lot of fun, Speaker, but I’ll leave that to the pundits. I think what is most important is that we have it within our grasp today, by working together, to take a big step forward on behalf of Ontarians. I think that’s our responsibility.

As we look around the global economy and see failing economies, it becomes so important that we find ways to continue to work together to advance the interests of both families and businesses here in Ontario. That kind of thrust is incorporated in our budget. I look very much forward to ensuring its passage not too far from now.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, one of the things that the Premier seems to have forgotten over the last couple of days is that I don’t work for the Premier of Ontario; I work for the people of Ontario. And I hope that all parties can work together to deliver results for the—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I hope that all parties actually can work together to deliver results for people, but I believe, quite frankly, that that’s going to require less posturing, less threatening and more work. Is the Premier prepared to do that?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Again, I think it’s really important that we stay focused on the interest that Ontario families and businesses have. They have an interest in us finding ways to work together. I think, by and large, we have succeeded in doing that. We recognize that we form a minority government. We recognize that we can’t move forward without the support of the opposition from time to time.

I think we’ve cobbled together a budget that is exactly what the doctor ordered. It’s going to have us eliminate the deficit, it’s going to protect our schools and our health care, and it’s going to lay a new foundation for jobs and growth. In that regard, I think we can together claim some legitimate success achieved, again, on behalf of Ontario families and businesses.

PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC SERVICES

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also for the Premier. Yesterday, Ontario’s Ombudsman made it clear that the complete fiasco at Ornge could have been avoided with proper oversight. Can the Premier explain why he rejected oversight measures when it comes to the privatization of ServiceOntario?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Actually, if you take a look at the record and what we’ve done during the course of the past nine years, we’ve adopted a number of measures that increase oversight and transparency. I took the opportunity to speak with the Ombudsman before he released his report, and we had a very good discussion about the kind of oversight afforded by—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, come to order.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: —in comparison to what exists in other provinces. I’ve given him assurance that we will take his advice into consideration and give it very careful consideration to see what we might do to ensure that we bring to bear all the necessary transparency and oversight that are warranted today on behalf of Ontarians.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, we’ve always been very clear over here—New Democrats have always been very clear—that fire sales of Ontario assets will leave us paying more and getting less. We were ready to work with the government to ensure proper oversight and public scrutiny of any deal. Instead, they chose to work with the party that has made it clear that they would privatize this Legislature if they could.

Why is the government so determined to sell off assets?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, I think it’s important to understand that my honourable colleague, the leader of the NDP, is opposed to public sector pay constraints of any kind, and I think that’s irresponsible. She’s opposed to us examining any kind of privatization possibilities, and that too, I think, is irresponsible.

We’ve entered into a phase of our economy that calls upon us to make some important decisions. First of all, we have to establish our priorities; those are our schools and our health care. We look at everything else in a slightly different light, Speaker.

When we look at privatization possibilities—and we’ve talked about ServiceOntario—we need to do that in a way that gets better value for Ontario taxpayers and, at the same time, improves the quality of service for Ontarians. I’m convinced that’s what we need to do, and I’m convinced that working together we can find a way to do that.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: What we’re in favour of is respectful negotiations and protecting the public interest.

The Premier has to make a choice. We’re ready to work with the government to bring forward a positive change that we know that people need. But if the Premier thinks that he can simply act like Stephen Harper and bully us into supporting his omnibus schemes—that the sell-off of public assets that leaves people paying more is a good thing to do—then he hasn’t been paying much attention at all, Speaker. Can I hope that at some point he’ll start?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I say to my honourable colleague that she, from time to time, raises the issue of process, and process is important, Speaker. We will do everything in our power to respect process, but results are important as well. I say to my honourable colleague, if she has a specific proposal to deal with public sector pay constraint in Ontario, I would be very interested in hearing from her in that regard.

If there’s anything at all, any line of work, any business we’re in, that we really shouldn’t be in today at the beginning of the 21st century—so we can better establish schools and health care as our uppermost priorities—then I would be most pleased to hear from my honourable colleague, the leader of the NDP. It’s simply not acceptable for her to say, “No pay restraint of any kind, no privatization of any kind whatsoever.” That’s simply not on today.

ONTARIO BUDGET

Mr. Peter Shurman: My question is also for the Premier. Premier, as a lawyer by trade, one would expect that you’ve never walked away from an agreement without getting a deal in writing. Every Ontarian out there knows that you don’t even buy a car without getting a contract. You walked away from your meeting with the NDP to secure support for a multi-billion-dollar budget without getting as much as a handshake.

How is it that when entrusted with the leadership of the largest province in Canada, you are more negligent in setting the terms and securing a written commitment for support of your budget than a first-time car buyer?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Let me say that my preference, Speaker, would have been to sit down with the two leaders of the opposition. That would have been my preference.

Interjections.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I think that we all can and should draw some lessons from our first session as a minority government. If you stop and think about it, Speaker, for the previous 21 years, we’ve always had majority governments, and I think we’re all learning a little bit along the way. I remain hopeful that we’ll use those lessons in a positive way, going forward.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Shurman: Let me set the Premier straight, Speaker. On November 18, my leader sat down with him, and shortly thereafter I sat down with his finance minister.

You want Ontarians to trust you to lead a province when you couldn’t dot the i’s and cross the t’s on the budget deal. Have you ever heard that the devil is in the details, Premier? Instead of paying attention and doing your job, you created extreme anxiety province-wide over a possible election this summer, using it as a threat to pass the road map to ruin that you call a budget. You then had the gall to try shifting the blame to others. How dare you accuse my party of being absent—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Question?

Mr. Peter Shurman: —or without leadership when we’re the only consistent people in this—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): While I did say “question,” which meant you had to wrap up, I’m hearing heckling from both sides while the question is being put, and it’s very difficult to hear. I’ll leave it at that for now.

Finish, please, in 10 seconds.

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Mr. Peter Shurman: One line: Why would any Ontarian trust you with the budget, much less the province?

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, there may have been some tangential connection to health care or to education or to the economy in that question, but I fail to see that, and I don’t think it speaks to the interests that Ontarians share. They want us to find a way to take a step forward. I feel that we have it within our grasp today to do that together. My preference, Speaker, is that we do that unanimously, I say to the Conservative Party.

We have a strong budget. It takes the action that we need to take at this point in our history. It takes steps to eliminate the deficit, protect those public services that families have got to be able to count on—our schools and our health care—and lays a new foundation for jobs and growth. It does what we need to do.

ONTARIO BUDGET

Mr. Michael Prue: My question is to the Minister of Finance. What a difference a weekend makes. Last Friday, the finance minister shouted from the rooftops that NDP amendments to the budget bill would cost the province $3 billion. This morning on live radio, he said that they won’t have an impact on the fiscal plan at all.

My question is a simple one: Does this make the Minister of Finance the boy who cried wolf or David Copperfield for pulling a $3-billion rabbit out of a hat?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Mr. Speaker, my hope is that later today this Legislature will pass a budget that gets Ontario back to balance, protects our health care system and our education system, a budget that has taken into account—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Renfrew will come to order, the member from Durham will come to order and the member from Prince Edward–Hastings will come to order—all three.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: It takes into account the changes that have been proposed by members of this Legislature to build a stronger Ontario.

Those votes later this morning are important. I look forward to every member in this House standing up, not sitting down, and taking a position and saying where they stand clearly and unequivocally.

This plan is the right plan for Ontario, and we’re going to move forward together as a province to that better future we’ve spoken of.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Michael Prue: Mr. Speaker, last week the finance minister huffed and puffed and nearly blew the House down over NDP budget amendments. But now that they’ve passed, the wind seems to be knocked out of him. Will he finally admit that Liberal accusations and name-calling over the past week were nothing but hot air and political puffery?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Ontarians want the budget to pass. They want the investments we’re making in jobs. They want better schools and better health care. That’s what this government, this budget and this Premier have delivered.

Since the beginning, since that member and I first met last December, we sought the input of all the parties of this House, Mr. Speaker. One of them came forward with constructive ideas, many of which we’ve adopted. I look forward, in very short order, to the member opposite standing up and saying what he’s going to do on this budget. That’s going to be a precious moment.

I also hope—and let me be clear, Mr. Speaker: It has been a difficult week. I hope that member and his House leader can get along better than they seem to be in the House and in committee all of last week.

HEALTH CARE

Ms. Soo Wong: My question is for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Minister, in talking to constituents in my riding of Scarborough–Agincourt, wait times in health care are a priority. I know that it is incredibly important to ensure that Ontarians receive the best care possible in a timely manner.

I know that this government has made wait-time reduction a priority and has achieved great success. Can the minister explain what the government has done to improve wait times for patients in Ontario and the successes we have seen?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Well, thanks to the member from Scarborough–Agincourt for this really important question.

We know that if you measure wait times, you can take the steps necessary to bring them down, and that’s exactly what we have done. Just yesterday, the Wait Time Alliance gave Ontario our fifth straight year of straight As in their yearly report. The Wait Time Alliance is not the only organization to recognize Ontario’s success; the Canadian Institute for Health Information, CIHI, placed Ontario first in Canada in hip and knee replacements last year, and for the last seven years, the Fraser Institute has recognized Ontario as having the shortest wait times in Canada.

I want to say thank you to Dr. Alan Hudson, whose pioneering leadership got us started. I want to say thank you to the doctors, the nurses, the hospital staff, the administrators—the people of Ontario worked together to get these results. We know there’s more to do, and we’re determined to do it.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Soo Wong: Thank you, Minister. It is great to hear about the successes that Ontario has had in improving access to care for patients, but, Minister, I know that there is still much to do.

ER wait times continue to be problematic. Ontarians are still waiting too long in an ER to receive the care they need. In the most urgent of times, Ontarians need to have the confidence that they will receive the care that they need when they need it.

Minister, would you please tell the House what action the government is continuing to take to address these long waits in our ERs?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I agree. More needs to be done to improve our wait times in our emergency departments, so here’s what we’re doing.

First, we created the health care options website, ontario.ca/healthcareoptions, so Ontarians know of all of the available options near them so they go to the right place to get the care they need, not right to the emergency department.

We’ve launched our seniors’ care strategy. We’re going to ensure that seniors have access to the right care at the right place at the right time. It will help ensure that people get the care they need at home whenever possible, so that they can get out of hospital as soon as they’re ready to go home, with the supports they need. I’m very excited about this seniors’ care strategy, because it will, in turn, free up hospital beds for people who really do need to be in an acute care hospital.

I’m proud of the work we’ve done. I want to say thank you to all the people that helped achieve this remarkable success.

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Premier. Yesterday, the Ombudsman told us that the scandal at our air ambulance service could have been avoided if he had the authority to oversee it. The fact is that Health Ministers Smitherman and Caplan as well as Minister Matthews had that authority.

The question that we have is this: As we go into the summer months and as we head towards an election in Kitchener–Waterloo, what people across this province will be asking themselves is, knowing that the Premier and his ministers had the authority to oversee our air ambulance service, why did they not?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Health.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, I’m very grateful to the Auditor General for bringing to light some problems at Ornge. I want to say thank you to the Auditor General. He gave us some very good advice, and we are acting on every one of his recommendations.

We have completely new leadership at Ornge, and they are getting results. In terms of oversight, we’ve got a new performance agreement that gives us strengthened oversight ability. We also have a bill before this Legislature that, unfortunately, is not yet passed. Unfortunately, the opposition has been delaying progress in this House.

The changes at Ornge are having an impact. We now, by mid-July, will have virtually all the spots for pilots filled, and we’re working hard to increase the number of paramedics. I’m proud of the progress that has been made.

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The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: For the last number of months, we’ve heard in the committee hearings that in fact the minister and the government had the authority to intervene. They chose not to.

The question that we have for the minister today is why, over the last number of months, did they waste countless hours here in the Legislature, defending the indefensible? Why did they refuse a select committee so that we could get to the bottom of it? The question the people of Ontario have for this minister, for the Premier and for this government: Why have they refused that select committee? What are they hiding?

Tell us who was responsible for allowing them to be complicit in the waste of millions of tax dollars and putting patients at risk. Will the Premier tell us that?

Interjections.

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

Minister of Health.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: We’ve come a long way when it comes to Ornge. We’ve got a new performance agreement in place. We’re appointing a new patient advocate. Ornge will be publicly posting a complaints process. There will be annual public surveys on performance. We’re improving significantly the reporting of emergency dispatch information. We’re now including cancelled flights, delayed flights and declined air and land ambulance calls. We’re creating a quality improvement plan at Ornge, just like we have done in all of our hospitals, because again, we know that if we measure it, we can improve it.

I know that the new board at Ornge is absolutely committed to ensuring that patients who need the care of Ornge get the very highest quality care.

ONTARIO BUDGET

Mr. Paul Miller: My question is to the Premier. Yesterday, André Marin, Ontario’s Ombudsman, said that the scandal at Ornge might have been prevented if he had been able to investigate Ornge. He made a point that New Democrats have been making for a long time: More independent oversight is a good thing.

Yesterday, Liberal members had the opportunity to add more oversight and accountability to Bill 55, to keep Ontarians from facing more Ornges. But instead of supporting more oversight in their budget bill, Liberal members voted with Conservatives for less oversight. Why did the Liberal government vote against the kind of oversight that could prevent more Ornges?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Finance.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: We have put forward a budget that in its entirety will get this province back to balance, will in fact improve education and health care for all Ontarians, and will deliver the kind of progressive reforms that Ontarians want.

We applaud the work of all the various officers of the Legislative Assembly. Whether you’re talking about the Auditor General or the Ombudsman, whether you’re talking about the Environmental Commissioner, all of them perform a vital public service for all Ontarians. This government always welcomes their oversight, their recommendations, and responds positively, because that is part of good governance. We’re proud of the work they do. We commit to continue to work not just with the officers of the Legislature but all members of the Legislature.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Paul Miller: I had the opportunity to sit on the finance committee yesterday and watch. I watched Liberal members vote for less oversight. I watched Conservative members vote for less oversight. After the scandal at Ornge, I simply can’t fathom why any party would restrict the power of an independent legislative officer like the Auditor General to do their jobs to protect the public of Ontario.

Can the Premier explain why his party joined with the Conservatives to vote for less oversight and the potential creation of more Ornges?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Since assuming office, this government has expanded the powers of the auditor, expanded the powers of the Ombudsman. We have worked with the independent child advocate. We’ve given new powers to the Integrity Commissioner to oversee expenditures. We have posted expenses online. These are examples of how we’ve actually increased legislative oversight.

If I could urge one thing to members of the third party: Let’s pass Bill 50, the Ornge bill, that would get this thing straightened up. It moves on the recommendations of the Auditor General and moves on the recommendations of our own internal audit. That’s what would be effective. I look forward to members voting every time important legislation like this comes up, casting your vote for the budget bill, for Bill 50. That’s why we’re here: to vote.

ENERGY POLICIES

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I’ve got a question this morning for the Minister of Energy. We all know that electricity transmission infrastructure plays a very important role in Ontario’s energy system. It’s especially clear when we talk about peak usage. My constituents have been asking what the government has been doing proactively to bring more clean and renewable energy online. Under the previous government, our province used to burn cheap coal to keep the lights on, when our transmission system could barely hold the power it needed as a result.

Can the minister share with us the progress this government has made with regard to bringing cleaner, more renewable energy online and the investments that we’ve made in the transmission system in this province recently?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: On days like the past couple of days and today and, we hear, tomorrow, the question on everybody’s mind is a simple one: Will we have enough?

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Prince Edward–Hastings is warned.

Hon. Christopher Bentley: Will we have enough? We know that in 2003, we didn’t. In the years before, we didn’t, because the party opposite reduced our ability to generate our own power so we could run our businesses and homes. For the past eight, nine years we’ve worked really hard to bring new generation on. About a quarter of our generating capacity today we’ve brought on, and it has been clean. We’re getting out of coal. It’s clean; it’s renewable—clean sources to clean up the air.

Just yesterday we launched the Bruce to Milton line to bring more than 3,000 megawatts of clean, renewable energy to homes all across the province of Ontario. It’s a good-news story.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you, Minister, for that response. I know my constituents will be very pleased to hear what the government is doing to bring more clean energy online. It also increases the capacity to mitigate the blackouts and the brownouts we saw under the previous government. It’s an especially important topic of discussion when taking into account the weather we’re experiencing today and all this week. It’s clear we have a heat wave on us, with 30-plus temperatures being experienced. What my constituents are looking for are assurances that the reliability of our power system can be counted upon, even if demand increases by a large amount.

The minister just told us how the government has increased capacity and reliability. Can the minister now please tell us what energy-conserving efforts our government is making to help ensure that the system remains reliable?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: The member from Oakville raised a very important point, because we know that in the years leading up to 2003, the party opposite cancelled conservation programs and placed no emphasis on it, ironically at the very time when the supply was going down under their watch.

With increased supply, we’ve also worked very hard with families and businesses to develop a culture of conservation. Is it working? Already the equivalent has been saved to take half a million homes off the grid. Half a million homes: That’s how much has been saved, and how? Through conservation programs to help families and businesses not only conserve but save money; through energy efficiency standards for products—over 50 products already, and we’re working on developing more—the Energy Star program and others; and through building code changes which launched on January 1, 2012. They’re so enthusiastic about this.

There’s more to do. At the end of the day: Save energy, save money, conserve—it’s a great message.

EMERGENCY SERVICES

Mr. Michael Harris: My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, we know, based on your recent responses over the past few weeks, that fixing Waterloo region’s broken EMS dispatching system isn’t really a priority for you. Last week, you again rejected the region of Waterloo’s appeal to create one emergency dispatching facility modelled on the successful regionally operated Niagara EMS dispatch centre, which your ministry approved as a pilot project in 2005. Over the last seven years, the Niagara centre has been a stunning success, boasting ambulance response times faster than any provincially controlled dispatch service. We know that as part of this project the Liberal government conducted a thorough evaluation of the Niagara system in 2009, which led to its continuation.

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A simple question, Minister: Where is the 2009 report on the Niagara dispatch centre, and are you willing to table that in this House today?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Thanks to the member opposite. I just want to mention that I had a wonderful conversation with the chief of police from Waterloo region, a very fine gentlemen, who has just finished his term as the chief of the chiefs, the president of the Ontario—

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Police association.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: —police association, the chiefs of Ontario police. We discussed this issue, and we agreed that we would continue to talk about it.

Of course, an Ontario-wide dispatch system is a very important priority for this government, as is reducing dispatch wait times, Speaker. We know that when people call 911, they need help and they need it as quickly as possible. We are absolutely committed to getting those response times down, because sometimes it is a matter of life and death.

There’s work to do, and we’re doing that work.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Michael Harris: Minister, an overwhelming majority of municipalities, including Peel, York, Waterloo and, yes, even London, are now in favour of implementing dispatching services similar to Niagara’s, but you continue to stand in the way, saying that they must provide proof that a regionally operated system will produce better results. Well, Minister, we have that proof in your evaluation of a successful Niagara system, but you continue to suppress it. In fact, I’m holding in my hand the response to a FOI request filed by municipal paramedics in which you say that you will only provide documents relating to the Niagara report after redacting 25% of its contents.

Minister, it’s time to stop hiding this information. So I ask you: Will you do the right thing to save lives in the region of Waterloo and across this province by disclosing the full report today—yes or no?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, as I said earlier, I am absolutely committed to doing what needs to be done to get those dispatch times down. We are very pleased that we’re moving forward on a pilot program on simultaneous dispatch so that firefighters will be dispatched at the same time as the ambulance. We know that sometimes the fire trucks can get to the scene more quickly. Firefighters are highly trained in first aid. They, of course, are not trained as paramedics, but they can provide care while waiting for the ambulance. We’re committed to working with the municipalities, including the region of Waterloo, to do what’s right for the people we are here to serve.

HEALTH CARE

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est également pour la ministre de la Santé et des Soins de longue durée.

Yesterday, the Wait Time Alliance delivered their report card. Ontario received a F, a failing grade, for moving patients through emergency rooms. This, sadly, is no surprise to Ontarians and no surprise to patients who experience the pain of the long wait in our emergency rooms.

The government has said that they would protect health care and cut ER wait times in the budget bill. Why, Mr. Speaker, do things keep getting worse, not better, in our emergency rooms?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, quite the contrary, and I’m very pleased I have a copy of the Wait Time Alliance report here with me. Ontario has straight As when you look at hip replacements, knee replacements, radiation therapy, cataract surgery and coronary artery bypass. When you look at cancer care, straight As again—all body sites combined: breast, prostate, lung.

Speaker, we do have work to do on ER wait times, although we are making improvements when it comes to wait times for the non-admitted patients. We have work to do to get ER wait times down for admitted patients, but Ontario is the only province that is actually reported in this report as even measuring our emergency department wait times. We are number one in the country, and we are going to continue to do even better.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: Mr. Speaker, the first step in solving a problem is that you have to admit you have a problem. The wait times that my constituents experience at Health Sciences North in Sudbury are so bad that the top physicians have gone to the media. They are concerned about patient safety.

Did you know, Mr. Speaker, that 10% of the patients in Sudbury leave the emergency room before they even see a physician because they can’t wait any more? That puts them at risk. They wait over 20 hours; that’s 12 hours more than the ministry’s target. It is clear that something is going drastically wrong—terribly wrong, I will tell you.

The government has said that it would protect health care in the budget. What’s happening in our emergency rooms?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I think the members of this House might also be interested to know, on our emergency department non-admitted patients: CTAS level 1—A; CTAS level 2—A; CTAS level 3—A; CTAS level 4—A; CTAS level 5—A.

Speaker, we know that for admitted patients, we need to do better. That is why we are making the investments we are in our seniors’ care strategy. We want to get people home as soon as they can go home. If someone is ready to go home, let’s make sure we have the supports so they can go home to free up that bed for someone who needs to be admitted to the hospital.

That is what our action plan is all about, Speaker. We’re very optimistic about the future. We’ve made great strides, and we’re going to do even better.

ELDER ABUSE

Ms. Helena Jaczek: My question is for the minister responsible for seniors. June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day recognizes the issue of and brings awareness to the sad reality of elder abuse. The day is also meant to empower seniors to protect themselves against abuse. It’s about taking action ourselves to report abuse when we see it happening and about doing everything possible to prevent it. Many constituents in my riding are very concerned about their loved ones, and I’m often asked about how we can work together to stop elder abuse in all its forms.

Mr. Speaker, can the minister please share with us measures the government has taken to combat elder abuse in this province?

Hon. Linda Jeffrey: I’d like to thank the member for shining a light on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Our government understands how important it is to stop elder abuse in our communities. That’s why we were the first government to provide annual operating funds to the Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, or ONPEA, as we know them. ONPEA does a great job of helping Ontario seniors who have been abused or who are at risk of being abused. Our support helps ONPEA do what it does best: assist seniors, train front-line staff and raise awareness about elder abuse.

In 2010, we launched a series of fact sheets on financial planning and abuse. These fact sheets were developed in partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories. As well, Ontario offers an annual smart consumer calendar available to all of our MPPs that offers valuable information on how to avoid popular scams.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Helena Jaczek: Thank you, Minister, for your response.

Many of the seniors in my riding have expressed concerns to me about abuse in retirement homes. I know that we’ve all read and heard of the disturbing stories in the media about elder abuse in retirement homes. Residents in some homes have been neglected or emotionally, physically, verbally and financially abused, sometimes for years. I think we can all agree that our loved ones deserve better. Seniors in Ontario made and continue to make our communities better places to live. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell the House how our new Retirement Homes Act will protect seniors living in retirement homes from being abused? Who can residents or their families call for help? And how will retirement home operators be held accountable for their actions?

Hon. Linda Jeffrey: I thank again the member for the question. In June 2010, our government passed the new Retirement Homes Act. For the first time in Ontario, seniors living in retirement homes have strong protections under provincial law. The act includes several safeguards against abuse and neglect. Last year, we introduced immediate measures to protect residents against harm until the act came into full force. Harm or risk of harm can now be reported seven days a week, and any reported abuse or neglect will be investigated immediately. On July 1, retirement home operators will have a duty to protect residents against abuse by anyone or neglect by a staff member. At the end of the day, this legislation is about protecting our parents, our grandparents and the people who built this province.

1200

RONDEAU PROVINCIAL PARK

Mr. Rick Nicholls: My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, the families that live in Rondeau park in my riding of Chatham–Kent–Essex have been told that they’ll have to find a new home in 2017. These are regular, hard-working Ontarians who expected to be able to keep their homes and continue supporting their community while doing so. Instead, they’re being threatened with the loss of their unique heritage community because the government has decided the park needs to be returned to nature, with little evidence to back up their claim.

We need to work together. Minister, will you listen to the families of Rondeau who have spent generations as stewards of this beautiful park and allow them to purchase their property, or at least agree to extend their lease agreements?

Hon. Michael Gravelle: I want to thank the member for Chatham–Kent–Essex for his advocacy on this issue. On several occasions, the member and I have spoken about this issue, and he has certainly shared his concerns, as he is now in the House.

I do know that the member also knows that we have consulted with cottagers, environmental groups and other affected groups on a recent proposal to change the cottage lease conditions at Rondeau Provincial Park. There’s certainly very keen interest in this matter from all sides, and I want the member to know that we are taking that into consideration.

It’s certainly a complex issue; it’s not quite as straightforward as the member has put it. That’s why we have initiated environmental and economic studies to help inform our decisions for Rondeau in the future. At this time, a further review of the Rondeau leases is not anticipated until these studies are completed. But thanks so much for the question.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Rick Nicholls: Minister, I’m solution-oriented, and I believe that there is an everybody-wins solution: Rondeau park wins, Ontario Parks wins, Chatham-Kent municipality wins, leaseholders win, the environment wins and the economy can win. Families will be able to reinvest in their homes with confidence of tenure behind them. The revenues will fund crucial yet delayed tourism and stewardship projects, like a $2.5-million bayside visitor centre with no net cost to the taxpayers, while all along creating jobs.

Interjection: They’ll never support that.

Mr. Rick Nicholls: I know—something foreign to this government.

Instead of destroying the local ecosystem with an extensive teardown, the park gets to keep its proud stewards while giving up less than 1% of its area. Minister, my question is this: I ask you, will you endorse this crucial project for Rondeau families?

Interjections.

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

Minister?

Hon. Michael Gravelle: Again, I thank the member for the question. Certainly we want to be able to consider the cultural and environmental issues that are involved in this as well. I do appreciate the fact that, indeed, the member has approached me on a number of occasions. May I say there are many members on all sides of the House who are very interested in this challenging issue—and it is indeed a challenging one.

Again, I will continue to work closely with the member. I appreciate any opportunity we may have for some solutions that are coming forward. We do have the environmental and economic studies that are under way right now. That has been agreed to. There was a proposal put forward for a change in the lease conditions, and there was a very strong reaction to that. We want to make sure we move forward with the best possible advice, which is why we’re going to wait and see till those studies are completed.

But again, I appreciate the question. I look forward to working with the member in the future, and with all members of the House in this regard. Thanks so much.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: My question is to the Minister of Consumer Services. There has been widespread support for Bill 98, which would call for a ban on charging predatory fees to those immigrants and migrant workers who send money overseas to their loved ones. The Toronto Star, in fact, has urged all parties to support this bill. Yet the minister has only said she would monitor the bill.

When will the minister stand up for Ontarians who want to transfer money abroad and stop their money from being unfairly siphoned off by companies that charge predatory fees?

Hon. Margarett R. Best: This is an important issue, and I want to thank the member for bringing this forward. All Ontarians with loved ones abroad know how great of an issue remittance fees are. This issue impacts a great number of people in the province and is one many of us, including myself, can relate to.

Once introduced, the government will carefully review the bill to determine if it falls under our provincial jurisdiction. The minister will conduct an analysis of the proposals put forward with this bill to determine any jurisdictional or constitutional concerns. Currently, neither the federal government nor—

Interjection.

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

The member is warned.

Minister.

Hon. Margarett R. Best: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This issue is a very complex issue and we continue, as I say, to monitor this bill.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: The bill has already been introduced, so there is no need to wait and see. The bill is there for the minister to review. It is available.

Now, the minister has gone missing when it comes to unfair fees on remittances. Members of ACORN, a group that’s leading on this issue, have tried a number of times to meet with the minister regarding remittance fees. In fact, for a month, the minister has not responded to a phone call or even an email.

When will the minister finally agree to meet with ACORN and let Ontarians know: Does she stand behind Bill 98 and hard-working families who wish to send their money abroad to loved ones overseas or not?

Hon. Margarett R. Best: Mr. Speaker, the member is in fact correct. This issue is before the Legislature, and the Ministry of Consumer Services is looking at the legislation, and we will conduct an analysis of the proposal put forward.

This is an issue that we are all cognizant of and this is an issue which the federal government has much of the oversight for, issues relating to international money transfers and exchanges, and it is a complex issue. We will continue to monitor the bill that has been presented by the member.

SKILLS TRAINING

Mrs. Liz Sandals: My question is for the minister responsible for women’s issues. I’m so proud to be a member of this government, which has consistently prioritized the economic independence of women. We know that tough economic times have a disproportionately large impact on women, and I know that the McGuinty government has worked hard to change this. But, Speaker, despite the growing demand for labour in the skilled trades and information technology sectors, women continue to face barriers when trying to access employment in those sectors. We know that with the right skills training, unemployed or low-income women are more likely to succeed in careers in skilled trades or information technology.

Speaker, through you to the minister, what is this government doing to help low-income women get the skills they need to secure jobs in skilled trades and information technology?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: If you want to feel hopeful about the world, you only need to go and talk to the women who are participating in the women in skilled trades and information technology training program. This program is offered across the province through a variety of partners.

I had the opportunity this week to go to MicroSkills and had a chance to speak to some of the women who have benefitted from our government’s investment of nearly $24 million to train women in skilled trades and information technology, which is also called WIST. Those investments we’ve made since 2003. In so doing, we’ve supported more than 2,220 women. When they graduate from this program, 80% of the women are employed. I think it demonstrates how government can work in partnership with those in the community to support women who want to support their families, to build a new life and open up opportunity. That’s what it’s all about.

VISITORS

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Citizenship on a point of order.

Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, a point of privilege: We do have today with us a delegation from China led by Mr. Zhou Huachen, who is the vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the Jilin Provincial People’s Congress. I’d like to ask everyone to join me in welcoming you and your delegation here on behalf of the Legislative Assembly.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): First, it’s not a point of privilege. Second, it’s not a point of order, because we’ve got an agreement and we’re going to stick to it. So if you’re standing to say you want to introduce somebody, stay seated.

CORRECTION OF RECORD

Hon. Margarett R. Best: Point of order.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Consumer Services.

Hon. Margarett R. Best: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I just would like to correct my record to say that our ministry, the consumer services ministry, is currently reviewing and analyzing the legislation which is before the House.

DEFERRED VOTES

STRONG ACTION FOR ONTARIO ACT
(BUDGET MEASURES), 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 SUR UNE ACTION
ÉNERGIQUE POUR L’ONTARIO
(MESURES BUDGÉTAIRES)

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

Bill 55, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact and amend various Acts / Projet de loi 55, Loi visant à mettre en oeuvre les mesures budgétaires et à édicter et à modifier diverses lois.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1211 to 1216.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Would the members take their seats, please.

Mr. Milloy has moved third reading of Bill 55.

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

Ayes

  • Albanese, Laura
  • Balkissoon, Bas
  • Bartolucci, Rick
  • Bentley, Christopher
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Best, Margarett
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Broten, Laurel C.
  • Cansfield, Donna H.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Craitor, Kim
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dickson, Joe
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Duncan, Dwight
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Gerretsen, John
  • Gravelle, Michael
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Jeffrey, Linda
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGuinty, Dalton
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • McNeely, Phil
  • Meilleur, Madeleine
  • Milloy, John
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Orazietti, David
  • Piruzza, Teresa
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Sergio, Mario
  • Sorbara, Greg
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Wong, Soo
  • Wynne, Kathleen O.
  • Zimmer, David

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

Nays

  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Chudleigh, Ted
  • Clark, Steve
  • Dunlop, Garfield
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Hudak, Tim
  • Jackson, Rod
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Klees, Frank
  • Leone, Rob
  • MacLaren, Jack
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McKenna, Jane
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norm
  • Milligan, Rob E.
  • Munro, Julia
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • O’Toole, John
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Shurman, Peter
  • Smith, Todd
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 52; the nays are 35.

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): The House will now retire and recess for 30 minutes. The bells will be rung for five minutes before the House resumes.

The House recessed from 1220 to 1250.

ROYAL ASSENT /
SANCTION ROYALE

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to a certain bill in his office.

The Deputy Clerk (Mr. Todd Decker): The following is the title of the bill to which His Honour did assent:

An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact and amend various Acts / Loi visant à mettre en oeuvre les mesures budgétaires et à édicter et à modifier diverses lois.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

TAXATION AMENDMENT ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES IMPÔTS

Mr. Duncan moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 114, An Act to amend the Taxation Act, 2007 / Projet de loi 114, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2007 sur les impôts.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour, say “aye.”

All those opposed, 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 1252 to 1257.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Mr. Duncan moves that leave be given to introduce a bill entitled An Act to amend the Taxation Act, 2007.

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

Ayes

  • Albanese, Laura
  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Balkissoon, Bas
  • Bartolucci, Rick
  • Bentley, Christopher
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Best, Margarett
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Broten, Laurel C.
  • Campbell, Sarah
  • Cansfield, Donna H.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dickson, Joe
  • DiNovo, Cheri
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Duncan, Dwight
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Forster, Cindy
  • Gerretsen, John
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gravelle, Michael
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Jeffrey, Linda
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Marchese, Rosario
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGuinty, Dalton
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • McNeely, Phil
  • Meilleur, Madeleine
  • Miller, Paul
  • Milloy, John
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Natyshak, Taras
  • Orazietti, David
  • Piruzza, Teresa
  • Prue, Michael
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Schein, Jonah
  • Sergio, Mario
  • Singh, Jagmeet
  • Sorbara, Greg
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John
  • Wong, Soo
  • Wynne, Kathleen O.
  • Zimmer, David

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

Nays

  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Chudleigh, Ted
  • Clark, Steve
  • Dunlop, Garfield
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hudak, Tim
  • Jackson, Rod
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Klees, Frank
  • Leone, Rob
  • MacLaren, Jack
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McKenna, Jane
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norm
  • Milligan, Rob E.
  • Munro, Julia
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • O’Toole, John
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Shurman, Peter
  • Smith, Todd
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 68; the nays are 34.

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

First reading agreed to.

TAXATION AMENDMENT ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES IMPÔTS

Mr. Duncan moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 114, An Act to amend the Taxation Act, 2007 / Projet de loi 114, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2007 sur les impôts.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour, say “aye.”

All those opposed, say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

Interjection: Same vote.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Same vote? I heard a no.

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

The division bells rang from 1301 to 1306.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Members take their seats, please.

Mr. Duncan moves second reading of Bill 114, An Act to amend the Taxation Act, 2007.

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

Ayes

  • Albanese, Laura
  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Balkissoon, Bas
  • Bartolucci, Rick
  • Bentley, Christopher
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Best, Margarett
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Broten, Laurel C.
  • Campbell, Sarah
  • Cansfield, Donna H.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dickson, Joe
  • DiNovo, Cheri
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Duncan, Dwight
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Forster, Cindy
  • Gerretsen, John
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gravelle, Michael
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Jeffrey, Linda
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Marchese, Rosario
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGuinty, Dalton
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • McNeely, Phil
  • Meilleur, Madeleine
  • Miller, Paul
  • Milloy, John
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Natyshak, Taras
  • Orazietti, David
  • Piruzza, Teresa
  • Prue, Michael
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Schein, Jonah
  • Sergio, Mario
  • Singh, Jagmeet
  • Sorbara, Greg
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John
  • Wong, Soo
  • Wynne, Kathleen O.
  • Zimmer, David

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

Nays

  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Chudleigh, Ted
  • Clark, Steve
  • Dunlop, Garfield
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hudak, Tim
  • Jackson, Rod
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Klees, Frank
  • Leone, Rob
  • MacLaren, Jack
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McKenna, Jane
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norm
  • Milligan, Rob E.
  • Munro, Julia
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • O’Toole, John
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Shurman, Peter
  • Smith, Todd
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 68; the nays are 34.

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

Second reading agreed to.

TAXATION AMENDMENT ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES IMPÔTS

Mr. Duncan moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 114, An Act to amend the Taxation Act, 2007 / Projet de loi 114, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2007 sur les impôts.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour, say “aye.”

All those opposed, say “nay.”

I believe the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1310 to 1311.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Mr. Duncan has moved third reading of Bill 114, An Act to amend the Taxation Act, 2007.

Those in favour, please stand one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

  • Albanese, Laura
  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Balkissoon, Bas
  • Bartolucci, Rick
  • Bentley, Christopher
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Best, Margarett
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Broten, Laurel C.
  • Campbell, Sarah
  • Cansfield, Donna H.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dickson, Joe
  • DiNovo, Cheri
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Duncan, Dwight
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Forster, Cindy
  • Gerretsen, John
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gravelle, Michael
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Jeffrey, Linda
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Marchese, Rosario
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGuinty, Dalton
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • McNeely, Phil
  • Meilleur, Madeleine
  • Miller, Paul
  • Milloy, John
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Natyshak, Taras
  • Orazietti, David
  • Piruzza, Teresa
  • Prue, Michael
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Schein, Jonah
  • Sergio, Mario
  • Singh, Jagmeet
  • Sorbara, Greg
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John
  • Wong, Soo
  • Wynne, Kathleen O.
  • 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
  • Chudleigh, Ted
  • Clark, Steve
  • Dunlop, Garfield
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hudak, Tim
  • Jackson, Rod
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Klees, Frank
  • Leone, Rob
  • MacLaren, Jack
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McKenna, Jane
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norm
  • Milligan, Rob E.
  • Munro, Julia
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • O’Toole, John
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Shurman, Peter
  • Smith, Todd
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 68; the nays are 34.

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): My wish for you is a safe and healthy—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Off with their heads!

This House now stands adjourned until Monday, September 10. Enjoy.

The House adjourned at 1315.

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