LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Thursday 1 May 2014 Jeudi 1er mai 2014
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): When this item of business was last debated, the member from Barrie had completed his speech and we were about to begin questions and comments. Without his presence today, we now look to further debate.
Mme France Gélinas: It’s my pleasure to add a few words to Bill 141, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act. Basically, this bill talks about the procurement of big infrastructure projects and says that we should have a plan in the future for big infrastructure projects, because we know that we’ve had some serious issues with some big infrastructure projects. But the bill, in itself, does not tell us exactly what the plan will be. The bill tells us that we should have a plan.
It also makes a little bit of a change regarding the use of architects in our province, and it also opens the door to looking at trades, but that’s all it does. We don’t know how things will change for trades, we don’t know how things will change for architects, and we certainly don’t know what the infrastructure plan for the next 10 years, five years or even next year is going to look like.
But one thing we know for sure is that this idea that P3 is the way to go forward for infrastructure is deeply embedded into this Liberal government’s way of moving forward with infrastructure, and it becomes even more embedded once you look at what they’re trying to do with Bill 141, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act.
Well, let me talk to you, Speaker, about what P3 means from the ground up. What does that private-public partnership, which is a 3P, really mean when infrastructure in Ontario is built that way, rather than the regular way of doing things where the government would hire contractors, they would build the infrastructure, and the government would own it, maintain it and keep ownership of it?
Mme France Gélinas: —thank you—alternate financing and procurement, but it’s the same thing. It’s a P3, just under a different name. I call it P3; you can call it whatever you want; it’s the same thing. It’s private-public partnership. For some reason, there is this ideology that if you bring the private sector in, all things are going to be better, no delays will happen, things will be on time and on budget. Basically, what those deals do is that, because construction is an ongoing thing, because you cannot see into the future of sometimes a one-, two- or three-year project exactly how things will do, the government gives whoever builds a premium to assume the risk so that they’re on time and on budget.
At the centre of it is: How much money do you pay for that premium for them to assume the risk? This is something pretty intangible. How much risk is there? Well, as you become better and better at framing infrastructure projects, you would think that the government—the Minister of Transportation is just going by; sorry, Minister of Infrastructure. You would figure that there is a capacity and knowledge within his ministry, and as you do more and more of those projects you become better and better, so that the risks diminish. But that’s not how P3 alternate procurement and financing works. What happens is that the people of Ontario, the taxpayers, through the government, agree to pay a premium so that the construction company, and usually their consortium, assume the risk.
As I said, this is something pretty intangible. Everybody can tell you how much a two-by-four costs and how much a load of cement costs. Those, we can shop around. They have a fixed price. We know what influences the price of wood, nails, cement, steel and everything else. But risk? It’s way out there in the grey decision-making zone, and frankly, it’s a bit of a guessing game, with more lawyers involved than you could ever dream of. This is how we end up with P3s, where the taxpayer is on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars for things of no value, for a consortium to have assigned risk that may or may not materialize.
I happen to be on public accounts. Public accounts is the committee that looks at the work of the Auditor General. The Auditor General knows a thing or two about a balance sheet. He—now she—knows a thing or two about whether the taxpayers of Ontario are getting good value for the money that has been spent. I decided to bring with me this morning the Auditor General’s annual report that he did on a P3 project, a specific one about the Brampton hospital that he did. But after he had done this, he decided that there had been so many millions of dollars wasted on the Brampton hospital because we had gone P3 rather than the regular way of building hospitals that he did a special section in his report that he called “Recommendations for Future P3 Infrastructure Development Projects.” He did that years ago, but some of those have never been implemented, and some of those would need to be implemented.
We have a chance through this bill that is in front of us right now, Bill 141, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, to take his good advice and to make things better so that as we continue to build infrastructure—we will continue to need new hospitals, new schools, new courthouses, new bridges and new highways. It will always be there, either new ones or major refurbishing of existing ones. Under “Decision to Adopt P3,” he says, “There was no formal assessment of the costs and benefits of all available procurement alternatives.” This is at the core of what is wrong with Bill 141. Bill 141 is married to this idea that we will take an alternate procurement and financing method, no matter what happens. But the Auditor General shows us—and he has shown us in so many instances—that, had we taken the time to compare it to other ways of financing, we would have gotten better value for our money.
He goes on to the lesson learned. He says: “The costs and benefits of all feasible procurement alternatives should be evaluated. Consideration should be given to expanding the involvement and expertise of Infrastructure Ontario to all infrastructure projects.”
What he’s saying is that the people at Infrastructure Ontario have started to develop quite a bit of expertise in writing up those contracts, but they shouldn’t be married to the idea that the only way to finance them is through P3 or alternate procurement and financing. The Auditor General is saying to look at some of the conventional models of financing and consider them all.
His second recommendation about the decision regarding P3s is, “In Ontario only a limited number of contractors have the capacity to undertake large institutional projects. The bundling of capital and operational support services might have further limited competition and reduced value for money.”
When you bundle too many things together, you are very limited as to how many people have the expertise to carry out that work, to the point where we have so few bidding for those projects—they’re all international conglomerates, but so few of them that, really, there is no competition between them. They already know that they are the only game in town so the government will have to deal with them.
It’s clear that the majority of the members in this House support this bill, so I’m asking that the members opposite stop delaying the bill. Let’s get it through the second reading, get it passed and get it into committee so that we can continue what this government does best: Let’s create jobs across the province.
Mr. John O’Toole: The member from Nickel Belt always adds value when she comments on legislation, and for the member opposite, on the government side, to imply that what she says is not important and that you’re only interested in the time—you should have thought of that a couple of years ago when you prorogued the House, which caused all of the legislation here to be piled up. It’s a demonstration that under the Kathleen Wynne government, they cannot manage the agenda. That’s clearly what has happened here.
In the last couple of weeks, they’ve announced about $6 billion in new spending. Where on earth, respectfully, are they going to get that money? They’re going to get it from the hard-working taxpayers who have a job left in Ontario. In this budget, they’re going to whack people with another $2,500 tax—$2,500 in taxes a year—to fund an unsustainable pension plan that they have. At least, this is my understanding; we’ll certainly hear the details this afternoon.
Bill 141 is with respect to the infrastructure that creates jobs. Our leader, Tim Hudak, has a plan. It’s the million-jobs plan. It works. The fundamental elements of creating an environment for investment and jobs are in that plan. He said repeatedly to the leader and, for that matter, to the Minister of Infrastructure, to adopt the plan. He’s willing to sacrifice the hard work that he has put into that plan and allow Ontarians to have opportunities for a job and a prosperous future. But that’s not the plan in Ontario. The plan in Ontario is to increase taxes and reduce services. That’s kind of what I see.
Ms. Cindy Forster: I want to thank the member for Nickel Belt. It’s the first time that I’ve had an opportunity to actually weigh in on this particular bill, Bill 141, that’s before us today. I’m glad that she spent her 10 minutes talking about P3s, or the alternate financing proposal, because I can tell you that in my riding a new hospital was built in the last couple of years under a P3 model: the St. Catharines site of the Niagara Health System. That hospital ended up costing more than double what the taxpayer-funded hospital in Peterborough, just five short years earlier, cost. I think it was 60% more or—
Ms. Cindy Forster: —50% more. The problem with that is that it isn’t good taxpayer value when you’re going out and paying double what you could have spent for public services in this province. The Auditor General apparently said that a number of years ago. I don’t know whether that was under the Liberal government, that that report came out. I’m assuming that it was. But the government hasn’t paid attention to what the Auditor General actually told them, and they continue to go out and do projects under a P3 model. The issue in the AG report was the Brampton hospital, but now here we are again. I think in the budget leaks that we’ve seen there are some big infrastructure dollars. I’m hoping that the Liberal government or the government of the day, whoever that is, actually pays heed to the Auditor General’s report.
Mr. Phil McNeely: Just in response to the Conservative member, minority governments expect co-operation on non-contentious, good legislation. I think if we’ve listened to the debate, that’s what we’ve had on this. This is an important bill to move forward. I’m calling on all the other parties to stop stalling, help us pass second reading and refer the bill to committee for further consideration.
Mme France Gélinas: It was the first time that I had an opportunity to talk to Bill 141. I talked for 10 minutes, and I promise you I won’t drag the debate; I will sit down after my two minutes are done. But P3s have had an impact on so many communities. I do the critic for health. We tried really, really hard, for each of those hospitals that were built under a P3, to get information. I could have brought it today: I filed an FOI request for the Ottawa general that was built under a P3. I got a stack of nothing but blacked-out paper. The only numbers left on those stacks of paper were the page numbers. It was impossible to find out anything else about that P3. Yet this is something that the Auditor General talks about: the need for those projects to be more transparent.
So I’m saying that we have a bill in front of us, Bill 141. Why don’t we follow some of the recommendations that the Auditor General has shown? When the Auditor General says things like, “$95 million in risk transfer to the private sector was not realizable”—$95 million was paid for the risk. We got no value for money for that $95 million—and $95 million is a lot of money. That would pay you all of the home care that people would need. That would open up 60 new community health centres in communities that need them. It would make a huge difference.
What I’m saying is, why don’t we take the time to look at Bill 141 and take this opportunity to take some of the recommendations that come from the Auditor General and amend the bill so that we take advantage of his expertise?
It’s always a pleasure to speak up on behalf of my constituents in the city of Cambridge and the township of North Dumfries on this, what amounts to May 1. The most important thing we can celebrate today is our first responders on our very first First Responders Day.
I am very pleased to speak to Bill 141, which is An Act to enact the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2013. I am pleased to talk about this because, in the context of previous work I have done—I’m not absolutely sure that this will be my final time to speak in this session, should we be thrust into an election based on the budget today, but I do want to remind this Legislature that, not too long ago—two years ago, in fact—I tabled a motion that we debated, my first piece of private member’s business, which was the first piece of private member’s business in this 40th Parliament, that talked about exactly the kinds of things that we were looking for at that time.
I’m going to remind this Legislature about what that motion consisted of. It consisted of a plea to have the House—“In the opinion of this House, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario require” that the Premier “table, by March 1, 2012, a specific and detailed plan that outlines the current stage of the development process, the timelines for proceeding to any subsequent stage, the deadlines for project completion, and how the government plans to pay for the construction and operation of all the hospital expansion projects promised before and during the 2011 Ontario general election.”
Mr. Speaker, we debated that motion in this Legislature. It was the united force of the opposition, both the Progressive Conservative and the NDP caucuses, that voted in favour of this motion. This motion passed this Legislature, and I think, for the very first time—we passed it in 2011—for the very first time, we are now looking at a bill, which was introduced on November 26, 2013, that may, in fact, get us a little bit closer to what we were asking for at that time.
Because I know the government members in this Legislature today are going to say that we are discussing this bill ad nauseam, I want to state that I will take any and every opportunity to speak up for infrastructure projects that are of concern to my constituents. I will always stand up for my constituents, particularly when we’ve waited so long for infrastructure projects to come to my constituency. It’s my obligation as the representative for Cambridge and North Dumfries township to bring that voice to Queen’s Park and to make sure this government understands that we’ve waited a long time for our hospital expansion project to proceed.
This was the first vote we’ve ever had on hospital expansions in this Legislature. It was the PCs and the NDP that voted in favour of that motion, and the Liberal caucus that voted against it. I want to make that very clear, because if we are thrown into an election—I know a lot of people are going to say a lot of different things, but I want to put it on the record for people in this Legislature and for my constituents back home that I will always support our infrastructure projects that emerge in our community. That is my number one objective: to bring their voice here to Queen’s Park.
There are a number of things this bill does that I think deserve some consideration. We do need, as I stated way back in 2011, a long-term infrastructure plan. It’s not just enough to put this plan on the table. We have to have the means of understanding that, when we say something is going to happen within 10 years, we have to provide the means to actually achieve that: What the plan is, what are the timelines, how we’re actually going to pay for the infrastructure projects that were promised.
Every election, we see these infrastructure projects dangled in front of constituents like they’re candies to be given away. I think what we would do well to do—we could serve our constituents far better if we based decisions on infrastructure on evidence rather than politics, made sure that we’re doing this in a manner that is consistent with the best advice, and not talking about these things in terms of who may or may not win elections. I think we would do a whole lot better if we were doing that.
This bill presents long-term planning, it presents guiding principles, it presents ideas about project prioritization, it talks about promoting design and excellence in public works, and I do understand that currently there has been some debate about some safety concerns. I know that my colleagues from the New Democrats have raised this with respect to highways being constructed in the Windsor area.
I think what’s important, also, is the skills training and apprenticeship part of this piece of legislation. I think we have been on record consistently in this Legislature as standing up for our skilled trades and to provide opportunities for them.
So there are a lot of things that I would say have merit in this piece of legislation, things that I have long supported and would like to see further debated. But I will take the opportunity at every given chance to stand up for my constituents and to stand up for what I have been doing in this Legislature time and time again.
I do want to take some time to talk a bit about some of the things that have been important to understand. We need infrastructure investments, and the prioritization of those investments has to be done. I think everyone in this Legislature acknowledges that there is a need to have those kinds of ideas put forward. I think everybody understands that we have to have a plan in place for financing those projects, and debates—something the member from Nickel Belt has raised already—in terms of those financing arrangements ought to be debated and considered. I think the government should publish, at a minimum, a 10-year plan setting out the anticipated infrastructure needs with a strategy to meet those needs. I think those are the kinds of things that we would look for and would like to discuss at further length.
But I know we have two members of our caucus who will not be, as they are retiring, and they are both in the Legislature to talk about that. I want to say to the member for Newmarket–Aurora and to the member for Durham, I appreciate the mentorship that you have provided. They have, obviously, been mentors to first-time MPPs in our caucus.
I do want to pay tribute as well to the member for Durham, who I think is probably the most well-read MPP in this Legislature. He will speak on any bill at any time, on a moment’s notice, because he has actually read every piece of legislation that’s come forward. He has actually debated every piece of legislation that’s come forward, and he might also have provided and produced one or two petitions on about every piece of legislation that has come to this Legislature.
I want to say that it is this idea of mentoring the younger MPPs on how to perform in their roles that I appreciate as a first-time MPP, and hope to continue in my pursuit for the truth in Ontario and for better public policy and better public administration.
Mr. Speaker, I do have to say—as this is a moment where we can celebrate the public service of both of these gentlemen—that, in addition to doing incredible work in this Legislature, in our committees and in their performance in their own constituencies, these are just two fine, classy gentlemen. I would suggest to anybody that if you have a chance to meet them on an off-the-record basis, they are equally as wise and equally as trusted friends. I will certainly miss their presence here in this Legislature. When I do come back, and when members of this Legislature do come back in the future, their work will be remembered. I want to thank them and congratulate them for their public service.
Mr. Rob Leone: The member for Windsor–Tecumseh asks, “Who says we’re going away?” I don’t know if we’re going away, but I do want to make sure that, if this is, indeed, the last bill we get to debate, I had that on record. I wanted to pay tribute to my colleagues.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: It is indeed an honour to stand and represent Windsor–Tecumseh in this Legislature. My friend from Cambridge said it all when he said that the number one objective for him was to bring his voice, the voice of his constituents, to the Legislature.
I just heard the member from Durham talk about the flurry of announcements in the last week or so. I think he said that $6 billion had been announced on infrastructure. This bill is a 10-year plan that lays out the government’s intentions. I don’t know; it’s coincidental to think that these announcements were made just coincidental in the possible timing of a possible provincial election. Either the projects that have been announced were part of the plan all along—and if that’s the case, it was old news and why polish them up and trot them out again and make announcements?—or they were new ideas, which calls into question, I believe, the integrity of the bill itself. Because if you’re going to have a 10-year plan, why would you trot out an extra $6 billion coincidental with the possibility of a provincial election? So we’ve got some problems with it.
I know the member from Nickel Belt talked earlier about her concerns with P3s, and we’ve seen those examples on the Herb Gray Parkway, where it hasn’t worked because the government has negotiated away any ability for the Ministry of Transportation, the experts in this province, when they see a safety issue, to jump in and resolve it because they’ve turned it over to Infrastructure Ontario.
Having said that, I just want to quickly echo the member from Cambridge’s comments on the member for Newmarket–Aurora and the member from Durham—two fine gentlemen, two fine friends. I’ll certainly miss them after the election, whenever that is called.
This is an important bill before us, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act. I think I’ve talked in the Legislature before about how extremely important this is to my riding of Pickering–Scarborough East, and particularly on the Pickering side in Durham, where the development of the Seaton lands is essentially going to double the size of Pickering. It’s going to be very fast-growing.
But I’ve talked about this before, and so have many other people: Over 50 members have either spoken to this bill or participated in the debate, and that debate has been going on for 11 hours. It’s clear that most members of the House are going to support this. So is there really any benefit to have further debate? Probably not. I’m not hearing new information. I’m encouraging everyone to move this along, help us pass second reading and get this to committee for further consideration.
Mr. Toby Barrett: Durham; I’m sorry. I was elected with these two characters 19 years ago, as were Julia Munro and Jerry Ouellette. We’ve seen them in action. Other people here have seen them more recently in action. Whatever they’re doing in the future—the organizations and the involvement they have—the people around them will certainly benefit.
I want to make mention of the member for Cambridge. Up his way, we read in the media for years the problems with Highway 7 and getting a bridge built. I’ve got a similar problem south of there on Highway 6. We have need of a truck bypass in Hagersville. Tractor-trailers come through town; they can’t turn at the intersections. I saw an accident on Monday, driving up—a serious accident. A tractor-trailer on the other side of Main Street pushed an SUV into a tree. A week or two before, a tractor-trailer hit a well-known businessman right in front of his Main Street business.
The noise, the vibration: I hope to talk about this a little further in my presentation. It’s fairly simple. It’s the need for a truck route to alleviate the noise downtown, to alleviate the vibration downtown. I spend time sitting on people’s front porches on Main Street in the town of Hagersville in Haldimand county.
These are heavy-duty tractor-trailers. They carry steel coming up from US Steel. They carry scrap going back down to US Steel from the Hamilton area. I just use that as one example of why we have to continue discussing this particular piece of legislation.
Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s a pleasure to stand up and talk about infrastructure in the province of Ontario, because in the grand scheme of things, and I use “scheme” very gently, it is a huge opportunity to create economic prosperity for the province. Listening closely to the member from Cambridge, I share in his philosophy that you need to have a plan. You need to stick to that plan, because municipalities count on that, but you also have to have a plan to pay for it, which is very interesting in the context of what is happening in the last two or three weeks and the announcements on transit and infrastructure from the Minister of Transportation. Actually, almost every minister has made huge announcements around infrastructure. It’s like they have money, right?
We did hear very clearly from the Auditor General that the $95 million with the AFP and the P3—of course, they have the OPP here as well, these days. They’re getting very popular around this place. But we did not get value for the money, for the risk transfer. That $95 million was not realized throughout the one example that she gave.
So we have to have a piece of legislation and a strategy which actually benefits the people of this province and, in the meantime, provides the structural plan to create the infrastructure and then also the financing which guarantees it. We have seen some of the most political announcements on infrastructure from this government of late in this Legislature. We have a fictional version of two-way, all-day GO trains. We have a re-announcement and a re-announcement and a re-announcement to Highway 7. That shovel has been in that ground, and that ribbon has been cut and is getting frayed now. And now, of course, we have the Herb Gray Parkway, whose theme song, unfortunately, will be A Bridge Over Troubled Waters. So there is so much work to be done on this file. We need to make sure that this legislation works for the people of the province.
Mr. Rob Leone: I want to thank the Minister of Consumer Services and the members for Windsor–Tecumseh, Haldimand–Norfolk and Kitchener–Waterloo for their comments and questions. I do echo the concerns that the NDP have raised, as well as I have and members of our PC caucus over the last several weeks. This is a $46-billion pre-election spree that the government has undertaken: $29 billion for transit, $11 billion for hospital infrastructure and $6 billion in other spending equals about $46 billion. It’s the largest, I would say, seat-saver program we’ve ever seen. It is concerning when we have a purported plan no less than November 26, 2013, which is only a few short months ago, and now we have extra things that are just completely added.
It questions the sincerity of whether this plan, the plan that they are actually trying to enunciate in this legislation, is as sincere as they would like people to believe. I have serious questions and concerns about that sincerity. I would like to, obviously, support infrastructure projects, but I need to see where this money is coming from. I need to make sure that this government is not spending out of its means, because the future of this province depends on that. Our children’s future depends on it.
I think that, as we discuss and debate and deliberate over this piece of legislation today and this morning, and certainly in the budget debates that we will have or may have in the near future, I would have to hope that we are being truthful with the facts about the state of our fiscal finances to provide for the services that people desire and the infrastructure projects that this province needs. That is my great hope. It’s what I asked for way back in 2011, and I continue to fight for those things today.
Mr. Michael Mantha: Good morning. It is certainly a pleasure to stand and provide some comments on behalf of the perspectives of people in Algoma–Manitoulin on Bill 141, An Act to enact the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act.
Just off the top, I would like to say good morning to a friend of mine in Mindemoya who I refer to as Mrs. “Grandma” Trepanier, and also, in Gore Bay, Rose Thompson, who are more than likely watching, on TV this morning, the debate that’s going on, enjoying their morning cup of tea.
In my last constituency week, I actually had the pleasure of meeting up with them again, and it is just amazing how in touch people are. Although they’re not close by, they’re really watching all of us here at Queen’s Park in regard to what we do, what we say, how we conduct ourselves and the day-to-day activities that go on here.
Earlier, my colleague from Nickel Belt really articulated her point on the P3s, and the concerns that she raised are very much a huge sentiment that we have here. But when I look at this bill, I’m looking at it as far as building bridges. When I was first elected—I’ve always said that I’ll give credit where credit is due, and where you have to criticize, I will criticize. I’m really happy that the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation is in the House this morning, because I just want to build that bridge with him because he did actually take the time to come to my constituency and sit down with some of the municipalities that had some infrastructure concerns.
We actually talked a lot about what the challenges are that they have there. One of the biggest challenges that we have in Algoma–Manitoulin is particularly the operating costs of a lot of our water treatment plants, the high costs, and the lack of capacity that we have within taxpayers to come up with the funds for those operating costs, and the huge challenges that these individuals face.
When you look at the principles of this bill, when you’re looking at taking a long-term view and where the decision-makers are to take account of the needs of Ontarians, being mindful of the demographics and how the trends are going on in Ontario—that statement really resonates with people in my riding, particularly in the community of the North Shore, where Mayor Randi Condie and a lot of the community members that are there, like Joyce Robitaille, and individuals that are really hurting in those areas in order to find the funds that they need in order to maintain the level of service or to make sure that they have the dollars available at the end of the month, where decisions are being made, that impact their lives, out of southern Ontario.
You have to understand—and I don’t know how this plan was reached back then. But where you have a small community—and I’m going to try and keep my comments towards the community of the North Shore. The community was forced to go into an amalgamation, and one of their huge concerns was the operating services. It’s a wide, very separated—the major points of this area are three in nature: You have the Serpent River area, you have the Algoma Mills area, and then you have the Pronto area. Some of them are, again, very concerned about their water treatment plants, but a decision was made at one point in time where the water treatment plant was downloaded on the municipality, and it was their responsibility to pay for it. It was downloaded on a group of 69 individuals. Now, lo and behold, the second part of this community, they were also told that they were going to have to invest not only in a new water treatment plant but also in a water and sewage plant. Those people who were in that area, who remain there today, are roughly about 29. How did we come up with the calculation that this was cost-effective for these two areas?
When we make these statements in regard to being mindful and making 10-year plans, what it means to communities across my riding is, “How is this going to affect us? What are we going to do? How are we going to be able to finance it? What are they telling us?”
Unfortunately, in a lot of these small communities, we don’t have those engineers in our back pocket. We don’t have those consultants. They’re all here in southern Ontario. And you know what? It’s a heck of a cost to get those individuals up to our area. We always rely on what their expertise is and what they have to say. Then, lo and behold, we sign in to large amounts of monies that we’re going to have to pay for these projects that are in their communities. So these are huge, huge concerns.
We also made comments in regard to the concerns that we have in regard to the experts on this file, and the other stakeholders that we haven’t taken into consideration or we haven’t reached out to or we haven’t maybe listened to the red flags that they’ve been raising with us.
For the record, I’d like to read in some of those concerns today, particularly from the building trades and a number of the construction groups that are out there. Project bundling can significantly reduce the ability of smaller local firms from participating in key Ontario infrastructure projects. Member companies have experienced significant problems on the bundling issue with things such as the holdbacks of payments on these large projects which also makes it difficult for small firms to manage cash flow; payments are withheld from subcontractors until the contractor gets paid; subcontractors don’t have the same ability to wait for payment.
I’ve seen this time and time again where individuals, particularly in the north in my riding, in Wawa, where there was a subcontractor who was hired to do some work on a particular highway project but unfortunately the subcontractor wasn’t being paid by the larger contractor, and it was creating financial hardship. What you have to understand is that these small contractors just don’t have that amount of room to manoeuvre. Their payroll—they’re basically going from month to month, from pay to pay. If you’re telling them that you’re going to withhold, whether it’s $100,000 or $500,000, the impact and magnitude that it means to those communities is huge—and also to those local contractors.
Recently, IO has handled highway projects, namely the super projects of the Windsor-Essex parkway, Highway 407 and the Eglinton LRT. These projects are worth billions of dollars and generally attract major international builders to Ontario. The concern here is that several of these big international players, particularly those from Spain, are subsidized by their federal governments, allowing them to bid at lower prices than Ontario-based companies.
Now on that point, particularly as a critic for our party for northern development and mines, I had brought in a project where we should be looking at providing those resources and, if we have the infrastructure here in Ontario, to look at Ontario before we look outside. If we have the capacity and the skills and tradesmen that are here, and we have the people that are in the know to do this work, why wouldn’t this bill contain anything in regard to having an Ontario content requirement? I would like to see that in Ontario.
I do also want to bring up a point in regard to—again, sometimes you walk into the House expecting to say a few things but then you just get sidetracked by a discussion that you have with a colleague and with building bridges around this place. I definitely came here with the intent of building bridges. I’m happy that I’ve done that over the course of my stay here at Queen’s Park, and I will continue doing that. I enjoy the discussions that I’ve had with my colleagues here to my right and also across the way.
I think, essentially, when we come here we want to get those results done and we want to bring some of those benefits back to individuals into our ridings. But in particular with this one, when you make these grand statements—I don’t like using that term, but it is a motherhood statement that we see in the beginning of this policy. It sounds great and it means well, but there’s really a lot of work that needs to be done on it. For communities, like in my area, where we’ve had the opportunity to have a discussion with some of my colleagues, it is really important to them that, going forward—they are very concerned in regard to how these 10-year projects or visions are going to impact them.
Before we go down the route of implementing these policies, we need to really look carefully at how this is going to affect them, not only through their policies and regulations, but how it’s going to impact their lives financially.
Hon. Teresa Piruzza: I’m pleased to rise today in response to Bill 141 and to make some comments. We’ve had this discussion now for over 11 hours. We’ve had 55 members, so more than half of our members have spoken in this House with respect to this bill, and all seem to be in favour of this bill. We need to bring this forward to the next step, which is, of course, to committee.
I know we’ve been hearing much about the Right Honourable Herb Gray parkway that is, of course, being built in my backyard in Windsor. As a result of that project, I’ve been speaking with a number of local employers who really have spoken to me about the importance of upgraded infrastructure across the province, and the importance of upgraded infrastructure with respect to economic development and the future prosperity of Ontario.
Ontario is a trade province and we need that upgraded infrastructure across all ways: across rail, across road, across any way that we can in order to ensure the prosperity of our province, and that’s what we will continue to build on.
Speaking of the Right Honourable Herb Gray parkway, it’s truly a transformative project, and I have to thank the Minister of Transportation and our government for moving forward with that project, because I know what it means to our community. It’s transformative. It is going to add hundreds of acres to green space in our communities, kilometres of trails, really connect our neighbourhoods and really make a difference for our community. I’m pleased with that investment, that infrastructure project, and understand the importance of infrastructure to the development of jobs and the prosperity of our province.
Mrs. Jane McKenna: All of us in this House recognize the importance of having solid, sustainable infrastructure. It is essential to any competitive 21st century economy, and it is especially critical in a province such as Ontario, which has so many diverse needs, challenges and assets.
From that point of view, government obviously needs to take the long view when it comes to infrastructure planning and investment. At least part of that mandate is already being carried out by the government’s ministries.
Bill 141 also proposes that four conditions be applied to Ontario’s infrastructure: an inventory of the infrastructure, an evaluation of the infrastructure, the age of the infrastructure assets and the conditions of those assets. All of this is fine and good, but I would agree with my colleague from Newmarket–Aurora that a fifth element is needed; namely, a formalized and mandatory asset-management program. Without that tool, we can never accurately judge our most pressing priorities and where investments are best made.
Maybe at some point, a member of the party opposite—preferably a cabinet minister—will lay out in black and white the government’s plan to bring Ontario’s runaway spending under control, and thereby eliminate the deficit. It is not a lot to ask, frankly.
Mr. John Vanthof: It’s always an honour to be able to stand in this House and speak on behalf of my constituents from Timiskaming–Cochrane, and to follow my colleague, the member from Algoma–Manitoulin. Something he always does, and that I try to emulate, is he always brings issues back to the people in his riding. That’s the best way to explain things to people in this House, and also to demonstrate that you understand the issues in your riding.
Sometimes I get a bit upset when I hear: “We’ve had enough debate, because we’ve heard all the issues.” I think the member from Algoma–Manitoulin made it very clear that he had issues that hadn’t been brought up before in this House on this bill, and I think that’s a good example of why debate is important in this House.
The bill we are discussing is Bill 141, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act. Basically, the bill is about developing a 10-year plan for infrastructure—very important. One would wonder why there wasn’t a 10-year plan before, or a 20-year plan. Actually, in northern Ontario, we’ve got the northern growth plan, where we spend a lot of time discussing this, and transportation was part of the northern growth plan.
Again, consultation is part of the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act; yet, when our passenger train was cancelled in northern Ontario, there was no consultation. In northern Ontario, we would be happy with any train. We don’t need the promise of the high-speed bullet train. Our train already took the bullet. But again, there was no consultation, and when you see things like that, you kind of wonder, are these acts or are they really for real? When you hear all these potential election promises—and that’s what they are—where are they in these 10-year plans?
Mr. Bob Delaney: Thank you very much, Speaker. Cooksville is actually a long way away, and I’m sure my colleague from Mississauga East–Cooksville wouldn’t appreciate my appropriating such an important part of eastern Mississauga.
You know, Speaker, there are so many things in this House that divide us, and very often properly divide us, because while we may have an aspiration for a strong and a prosperous Ontario, as parties, we often differ on how we wish to get there.
But there are many things that bring us together, and this is one of them. While it might be a simplification, it’s probably okay to say that we all believe in apple pie, motherhood and infrastructure.
The debate on this bill is headed toward 12 hours. More than half of the Legislature has spoken to this bill or participated in the debate during questions and comments. I think nearly 60 of our members have done that, and it has been very clear that, as a Legislature, we intend to support this bill.
I would suggest it’s now time to move past this bill, get it into committee, if we are all in support of it, and if it needs any refinement, let’s have that refinement done in committee and let’s get on to more substantive things in this Legislature. It’s now time to call on our colleagues opposite, the Conservatives and the NDP, to put aside more debate on this bill and to get on to some things that make a difference in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Michael Mantha: I want to thank the comments that came from the Minister of Children and Youth Services, the member from Burlington, my colleague from Timiskaming–Cochrane, and also the member from Mississauga–Streetsville.
If we were to stand here and always rush through the discussions, we wouldn’t get a good grasp of what the issues are across this province—for everyone. Yes, this is a good bill for us to push into committee in order to have those discussions. I think all of us agree that we need to bring those discussions to committee.
However, I want to express a really important point. This is the only opportunity that I have, for the people in Algoma–Manitoulin, to bring those points here, because we don’t have the transportation that we need or that bullet train that we can get people from northern Ontario down to here. You know what, Mr. Speaker? It’s a three-day expense when we are talking about having these individuals come down here and provide some type of testimony in front of the committee while they are sitting there. If you are telling me that we need to rush this through, then you are closing the voices of the people in Assiginack, Billings, North Shore and Killarney.
I was really happy that the minister actually took the time to come to my riding and listen to these individuals. We talked about a greater idea of how we can address this regionally, but we need to do it. We need to do it. They’ve heard the words; they have been told. They have met up numerous times. But this is the opportunity that we have, and those individuals deserve that action. They deserve to have a plan implemented to serve their needs, because it’s costing them a lot of stresses and a lot of time as well.
Also, there’s another issue that we need where we’re almost close, and it happens through discussions. It’s because we’ve done it here. If you look at the people of Manitouwadge, I’ve worked with the ministers across the way and some colleagues, and we’re close to getting a Caramat Road issue resolved, and I’m hoping it’s done. But we’ve got to have those discussions and there’s got to be a plan, and we’ve got to see an action.
Hon. John Milloy: I am very happy to rise and speak to Bill 141, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act. I think we all recognize, and we’ve certainly heard in the debate today and in previous debates that infrastructure is vitally important to families and communities and is really the backbone of our economy. To help ensure the province’s infrastructure investments continue to align with demographic, economic and environmental changes and the long-term needs of Ontarians, our government has introduced this bill, which would, if passed, ensure current and future governments regularly prepare a long-term infrastructure plan and that plans are updated at least every five years.
The proposed legislation, if passed, would also strengthen prioritization, promote high-quality infrastructure design and support job creation, training opportunities and economic growth. Our government has made an unprecedented investment in public infrastructure, with more than $85 billion invested in public infrastructure since 2003. These investments have created or supported more than 600,000 jobs. We’ve committed to invest more than $35 billion in infrastructure over the next three years, including about $13.5 billion in 2013-14. Bill 141, if passed, would complement our government’s plan to continue to build modern infrastructure in order to grow the economy and create jobs.
Mr. Speaker, I think it’s important to provide some context as to how we got here at this moment in time and debate. The bill was introduced last year in November 2013 and has seen significant debate in the House. According to my count, more than 58 members of the Legislature have either spoken to this bill or participated in the debate during questions and comments. The bill has been debated for almost 12 hours over the past six months.
Listening to the debate, it’s been clear that the majority of this House is in support of this bill, yet the opposition parties are intent on continuing debate, and their only goal is to delay. The opposition has been putting up speaker after speaker. Surely, this signals that there is no true desire to have further meaningful debate on this bill. It is time that the bill pass second reading and be sent to committee, where the real work takes place. In committee, members of all parties will hear from all stakeholders who have an interest in this bill. In committee—
Mr. Toby Barrett: The reason I raise a point of order is, I’m the next speaker. I feel that my contribution to this debate will be meaningful. I have very, very important local issues to raise with respect—
Hon. John Milloy: Again, I’m speaking about the committee process for this bill. Members will obviously have an opportunity to move amendments to strengthen this bill. At the same time, this House, if this piece of legislation moves on to committee, can move on to debate substantive matters. There are a number of pieces of important legislation already introduced which the government would like to debate and move through the legislative process. We obviously can’t devote the necessary time to these important matters if we’re forced to continue debating this bill.
I remind members of pieces of legislation such as the Youth Smoking Prevention Act, Ontario Immigration Act, Fair Minimum Wage Act, Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe act, and I could go on. We would like to spend time, on this side of the House, debating these pieces of legislation, but we can’t until Bill 141 is dealt with. As a result, I move that this question be now put.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Mr. Milloy has moved that the question be now put. There have been 27 speakers and over 11 and a half hours of debate. I feel there has been sufficient debate to allow the question to be put to the House.
Mr. Jonah Schein: I would like to welcome Dylan Fonner. He’s a student from the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics in Akron, Ohio. It has been a pleasure having him here at Queen’s Park, and I wish him well in his future law career.
Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: I’m happy to introduce a number of guests of our page: Mr. Scott Bowes; Katharine Bowes; Amber Bowes, her sister; and Ilah and Denis Dalke, the grandparents of Ashley Bowes. Welcome.
Mr. John O’Toole: I would like to introduce, once again, Michael Patrick, who’s a PC candidate in the riding of Durham—his wife, Deb, will be joining us later—and also Trent Angiers, a member of my legislative staff. Thank you for joining us.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Today I’d like to welcome the parents of page captain Brendan Sheppard: mother, Sheila Atkinson; father, Andrew Sheppard; and his sister, Linnea Sheppard. Welcome to Queen’s Park today.
Hon. Eric Hoskins: I would like to take a moment and acknowledge the MPP from York Centre: Monte Kwinter. My colleague, friend and parliamentary assistant will be entering his 30th year in public service tomorrow.
I realize that there are quite a few more introductions to do, so I’ve asked for the clock to be stopped. I’ll still give everyone enough time to introduce all of their guests; I think this is an important part of the visitors being here.
It is my pleasure today to introduce some visitors in the gallery. I’d like to introduce Nick Dicecco, a young constituent from my riding of Lambton–Kent–Middlesex who is very interested in politics, and my wife Kate’s uncle, Peter Spadzinski, who’s a former mayor of the municipality of McDougall in the district of Parry Sound. Welcome.
Hon. Reza Moridi: Today is Doctors’ Day in Ontario. On this occasion, please join me in welcoming Dr. Ved Tandan, president of the Ontario Medical Association, and also his colleagues visiting the Ontario Legislature. Today they are having a reception at the committee room. I invite every member of this House to attend this reception at the committee room for lunch.
Mr. Phil McNeely: I’d like to introduce Margo Burgess and Steve Barrette from Ottawa. They’re in the east members’ gallery. They are the parents of my legislative intern, Emily, who is also in the House today. They have travelled from Ottawa for a visit. This is their first time to Queen’s Park, so please welcome them here to Queen’s Park.
Mr. Mike Colle: I’d like to welcome Garrie Wright here, the commissioner of Toronto EMS, who was instrumental in bringing automatic external defibrillators to the province of Ontario. Garrie Wright, welcome.
I want to specifically recognize someone very special, and that is Nicole Taylor, who is in the gallery here. Nicole is someone who is working with first responders through her team, United by Trauma. I’d like to just introduce the rest of that team: Sam Reid—if you will stand, Sam, please—James Ward and Wayne Dufour. These are folks who are doing outstanding work on PTSD and support of first responders.
Hon. John Milloy: As members are aware, today is First Responders Day. I think you will find, Mr. Speaker, unanimous consent that, following deferred votes this morning, five minutes be allotted to each party to pay tribute to our first responders.
Mr. John Yakabuski: My question is for the Premier. Premier, for the past month, your party has been busy announcing plans to spend billions of dollars that we don’t have. This will be the second year in a row that economic growth has been stagnant in our province and that your government’s deficit will get larger instead of smaller.
Premier, this is not the road to recovery. A government that spends within its means and puts the right economic conditions for growth in place gives confidence to business and investors alike. Every other province in Canada understands that. So far, six have balanced their books, including the federal government.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Well, you’ve opened the door for me to make a comment now, instead of asking for quiet. The member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke will come to order. My intention is to start right away.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Well, I will give you this: You have a slogan. That is true. There is a slogan on the other side of the House, Mr. Speaker. But what that slogan masks is that what the opposition, the Conservatives, would do is they would actually cut jobs. They would actually cut education. They would actually cut health care. They would not invest in infrastructure, and they would not partner with business in order to bring those jobs to Ontario.
So what we are going to do—and I look forward to the response when the budget is introduced this afternoon—is, we are going to build the province. Our plan believes in the opportunity in this province and believes in the possibility of more jobs coming to the province, because we’ve demonstrated that that can happen. We’ve demonstrated that making those investments actually is what we need in order to grow the economy.
Mr. John Yakabuski: Premier, when the finance minister comes in here this afternoon in his new shoes, I hope they’re chest waders, because he’s going to need them to get through that river of red ink that you are creating.
You are driving business out of our province with your anti-growth and pro-special-interest agenda. Increasing the cost of doing business is undermining our ability to compete and is crippling our recovery.
The PC Party has a different approach. We have developed a jobs plan that will give every business an incentive to grow and be successful, not just your chosen few that were already succeeding without your handouts. We are calling for lower corporate taxes, lower energy rates, reduced red tape, more trade with our neighbours and more skilled trades positions to meet the needs of Ontario. That’s our plan. We won’t ignore the problem and hope that it will go away.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: A plan that is really the right to work for less, Mr. Speaker, is not where we are going to go. We believe that having a highly skilled workforce is absolutely a foundation of our economic future.
I wanted to take the member opposite up on another thing that he said. He talked about the federal government being able to balance their budget. Mr. Speaker, I hope that he pays very close attention this afternoon, because one of the reasons that our revenues are in trouble is because the federal government has treated Ontario differently than every other province in the country.
Today, you have an opportunity to change direction, to finally start climbing out of the hole you’ve created instead of digging deeper. Our million-jobs plan will restore the confidence of business, investors and credit rating agencies. It’s about time that Ontario move back to its rightful place: at the head of the pack, leading this Confederation, being the economic engine of Canada once again.
It’s clear you have no plan and will only take us down the road to higher unemployment and deepening debt. Even Quebec Premier Couillard gets it. He understands that the only way to restore confidence in his province is to get their fiscal house in order.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: You know, I absolutely agree with the member opposite that we need to be leaders in Confederation. Ontario is a very, very important component of this great country of ours, which is why it would be terrific if the federal government treated Ontario in the same way that it treats every other province.
But having said that, we understand that being fiscally responsible is critical. We understand that making sure that we grow the economy and making sure that we work with business, partner with business—and I would ask the member opposite to ask OpenText and Chrysler what they think about their plan to back away from partnership with business—we believe that working with business and being a partner with business, as we are a partner with labour, is the way to make sure that the investments in this province are made and jobs come to the province which lead to the future growth.
Speaker, we took the time to introduce first responders. I now want to take the time to thank them for being here. We have invited them to celebrate first responders. It’s really a celebration of our first responders.
I also want to thank the Premier, the leader of the official opposition, the leader of the third party and every member in this House for supporting Bill 15, which made this proclamation possible. Without the unanimous consent of this Legislature, this would not have happened. So it’s great that we can come together.
Now comes the tough question for the Premier. Immediately following the tribute that we will give, we will be gathering in the front of the Legislature to take a commemorative photograph with all MPPs and our first responders. My question to the Premier is this: Will you join us for that picture?
First of all, I just want to take a moment to tell the member opposite that no one knew what your question was going to be, and everyone was a little, “Where’s he going?” But you had spoken to me earlier, and I appreciate that.
I want to acknowledge the first responders who are here and I want to thank them so much for what they do every single day. They walk into danger. They go out of their doors and they don’t know what they are going to find, so thank you very, very much.
I was in a fire hall yesterday making an announcement with my colleagues about adding six more cancers to the list of presumptive diseases. The reality is, it doesn’t matter where good ideas come from. It doesn’t matter because it was the right thing to do, and I just want to thank our firefighters and all of our first responders.
Speaking of first responders, the first responders in our air ambulance service have been under much discussion in this place over the last number of months and I wanted to pay a special tribute to them for the service they are performing in our province.
After two years of public hearings into the air ambulance scandal, the public accounts committee signed off yesterday on a summary report, after some 147 hours of testimony and 85 witnesses. We now look forward to seeing that report tabled. We believe it will be tabled on Monday, subject to what happens here.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, I’m looking to the government House leader because I don’t want to say something that would be outside the bounds of the protocols, but from my perspective, it’s important that we all see what’s in that report and that we find a way to make sure that it is shared. I will make that commitment only with the caveat that we have to follow all of the rules, and at the first opportunity that we would get it tabled, absolutely.
Mr. Frank Klees: Speaker, the reason that I asked that question to the Premier is that two years of very hard work—I want to commend my colleagues on that committee, of all parties. I believe that the work that committee has done has produced a report that will be very important, not only to the Ministry of Health, but to every other ministry in the government. We don’t want to see that report in any way somehow not see the light of day.
So notwithstanding the timing of an election—we know that if an election is called and that report has not yet been tabled, typically, it would never see the light of day. It is possible for us to agree together, regardless of the timing, that that report will be made public.
Hon. John Milloy: This afternoon, the Minister of Finance is going to be presenting a budget, which I anticipate will enjoy the support of this Legislature, and our intention is to proceed both with debate around the budget and debate around legislation. And over the course of that, certainly, the report is in the hands of the committee. The Chair of the committee will have an opportunity to table his report in the House. I think I speak for all members that we look forward to seeing the report, and certainly the government will be responding to its contents.
On Tuesday, the Premier said that the minister’s office’s staff was first briefed on safety and durability regarding the girders on the Herb Gray Parkway on June 14, 2013. However, yesterday, the Premier, in speaking about the 12 meetings in which girders were on the agenda between December and June, 2013, said, “The fact is that those meetings took place.... There was not sufficient information during that time period” to make “definitive recommendations on safety.”
Hon. Glen R. Murray: We have been through this for many days. You have said things that are so inaccurate that they were nothing more than an attempt, I think, to smear reputations. I’m still waiting for an apology from the member opposite. I met with my deputy minister again this morning. I reviewed it with my deputy minister, who went back through her notes and she confirmed again that there was no discussion of safety issues, nor were any issues raised with her or me.
She also confirmed with me that, in early June, I approached her and I asked her to look into the matter, which she did promptly. She came back and said there could be concerns, we should look at it further, which was the result of the June 19 meeting which led to the independent review and the discovery in late August, as a result of that review and testing, that there was a problem. This is so crystal clear, and I wonder what the motives are when the—
Mr. Percy Hatfield: I too wonder what the motives are when I hear a response like that. There were 12 meetings held where the girders were discussed between December 14 and when the Premier said the minister’s office staff was briefed on the safety of the girders.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Yesterday, the Premier said there wasn’t sufficient information to make definitive recommendations on safety. The Premier is saying two separate things: Either they were discussing the safety of the girders or they weren’t. The evidence says they were.
When will the Premier put public safety and accountability ahead of her political interests and come clean about our government’s mismanagement on the largest infrastructure project in the history of the province?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: We’re back to NDP geography. I get asked where the questions are every time we’re close to an election. This is nothing but an attack on myself, the member for Windsor West, and it’s a thinly veiled political game. The deputy minister has told you, sir, you’re wrong. The project manager, sir, has told you that you are inaccurate and wrong. Every engineer in two ministries has told you, sir, you’re wrong. What you are saying is not accurate. It is so inaccurate it is smearing my reputation, that of officials, and people in Windsor. You owe my deputy, you owe the people of Windsor an apology and I will have no truck with you until you stand up and apologize and be the honourable gentleman I think you are.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Methinks think the minister protests too much. The Premier has said there will be no costs passed on to the taxpayers. As we learned from the gas plant scandal, what this government says about costs can’t be trusted. As time went by, the price tag went up. Will the Premier keep her promise on transparency and tell Ontarians the real cost and liabilities they’re facing over the mismanagement of the Herb Gray Parkway?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: My deputy ministers, my officials, don’t have the privilege to speak out. They are silent because they are public servants. The professionals who work on this are silent because they are that. The interim manager of the project says the problems are nothing one wouldn’t expect with a large scale project. Connector bearings are being tested by an MTO-approved manufacturer. He has said 17 times, I think, on the public record that there is not an iota of safety concern. There haven’t been any concerns that weren’t properly remediated.
This isn’t an attack on me. This is interesting, coming from the third party, smearing public servants and smearing the working people who build this project. He knows what he’s saying is not true. One has to wonder why he keeps saying it. There is only one motive when you are at difference with the facts, and that is attacking people’s reputations who can’t criticize you. That’s tabloid journalism, and I never thought they practised that at the CBC.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Government correspondence shows that the Ministry of Transportation did not want the girders to be installed until safety concerns were addressed and Ontario standards were met. On the other hand, Infrastructure Ontario wanted to press ahead regardless, because they didn’t want a one- or a two-month delay.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I will try this one more time, Mr. Speaker: It would be nice, the next time you get one of those very generous briefings that my ministry staff have given you, and when you’re sitting in that room, you might want to apologize to them, because your party is supposed to be concerned about working people; your party is supposed to respect the integrity of the public service. That is certainly not consistent with what you’re saying.
You do not understand the difference between a compliance issue, as much as assistant deputy ministers and officials have explained this to you, and it has been in your own local paper—you continue to contradict them, like you’re some sort of expert. You’re not, sir, an expert. You are out of your depth and you are saying things that aren’t accurate and you’re saying things that are hurting people’s reputations who cannot answer your—
Mr. Percy Hatfield: In a subsequent email, to which I’ve just referenced, a senior vice-president at Infrastructure Ontario suggests comments made by Fausto Natarelli—a man, by the way, whom I’ve known for many years, a public servant, a man of great integrity whom I have great respect for. The guy from Infrastructure Ontario says that comments made by Mr. Natarelli are not productive, to which Natarelli says back to the VP at Infrastructure Ontario and responds with: “Not engaging us fully so that we can effectively discharge our role in regard to provincial standards ... is not productive.”
Speaker, why on earth did the Premier ever sign a contract that negotiated away the ministry’s ability to take immediate action to resolve any issue of public safety and warranty guarantees over the life expectancy for the construction materials on the Herb Gray Parkway?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I don’t like to talk about individual members of the public service. We have a long tradition of not doing that. But I will tell you, I know the gentleman in question. If you were doing your homework and you talked to him—ask him what his relationship with the minister was and ask him what happened in that meeting on June 19. Ask him, because, Mr. Speaker, the statement the member from Windsor–Tecumseh made just confirmed to me that he actually is saying things, that if he’s talked to him, he knows even more that that’s not true.
Mr. Speaker, I find this offensive. I wish he would apologize. He continues to say things and quote people, that if he’s actually talking to them, he knows that on June 19—because that gentleman was in the room and he can tell you everything, sir. I am most profoundly disappointed that you don’t actually come here with the accurate information that you should have.
Speaker, since this contract was signed on the Herb Gray Parkway, this government has authorized billions of dollars in other projects. The private contracts for these are modelled after the same contract Premier Wynne authorized on the troubled Herb Gray Parkway.
If the Premier refuses to answer questions on the mismanagement of the Herb Gray Parkway, how can we trust her, or how can the people in this province trust her, to lead the province’s transit and infrastructure file?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, this is a great project and a great opportunity for the people of Windsor. The memos that front-line staff made, I have read every one of. Every single one, I have read, but I read them after I was advised there was a problem. The gentleman will tell you that, and the gentleman will tell you he has pretty great things to say about this minister, quite frankly, sir, and you know that.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: The reason I know that, Mr. Speaker, is because Mr. Natarelli was appointed by me and the deputy to oversee the project from that point of June 19 on. That’s why I know, because he and I worked very closely on this project all last summer. I believe you know that, because he was the first person to come in in interim oversight, and it was his work that helped us do that. He will tell you that the first time he talked to me about that was on June 19—first time. He will tell you that. That is why I know this project is safe—
Mr. Michael Harris: My question is to the Premier. Premier, last year you chose to vote against the Fair and Open Tendering Act, which would have stopped the region of Waterloo from becoming locked into a construction monopoly. At the time, you excused your inaction by saying the region could apply to the labour board to become a non-construction employer. But I told you a year ago that that application process was broken.
Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I appreciate the question. I do understand that the Ontario Labour Relations Board has made a few preliminary decisions in this regard, dealing with the Carpenters’ Union and the regional municipality of Waterloo. We received the most recent decision, and the ministry is in the process of reviewing it right now.
But, Speaker, as you know, the OLRB is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal. There are outstanding issues with respect to this matter that are currently before the board. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the specifics of this case, but it’s important to note that if a municipality is unsatisfied with a ruling of the OLRB, with the board’s decision, they are able to reapply for classification as a non-construction employer at any time.
Premier, I hope you’re listening to this, because it will be an election issue in our region and across the province, so you should at least respect my taxpayers in the community and listen to this question.
I don’t know about you, but I know I can speak for those of us on our side of the House when I say that closed tendering is unfair, unjust and flat-out wrong. The vast majority of Ontarians believe that every qualified company and worker should have the right to bid and work on public infrastructure. That’s why open tendering has the support of unionized contractors, open shop companies, and municipalities from across the province.
Mr. Michael Harris: No, you’re not. I will ask you again: Will you show some courage, admit you are wrong and agree to fix the Labour Relations Act so that we can guarantee open tendering for public employers?
Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I do thank the member for the supplementary. Once again, I will note that if a municipality is unsatisfied with a board’s decision at any time, they have the right to reapply. Others have done that in the past. Non-construction employer classification was granted, for example, to the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board and the Independent Electricity System Operator.
But what I really want to concentrate on in my answer is: How did these rules get in place? Where did they come from? Who brought these rules into place? The rulings that are being made by the OLRB in this case are based on rules that were brought in by the official opposition and refined further by the official opposition. So if they made a mistake on the rules, Speaker, I can understand them being upset about this. But it’s their rules. They made the rules. That’s what’s being voted on today.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: My question is to the Premier. Premier, court documents allege that Liberal cabinet ministers had their homes cleaned for free as part of an elaborate government kickback scheme for government cleaning contracts.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, I know that the government House leader will want to speak to this from his ministry’s perspective, but the member needs to know that our government took the allegations around this issue very seriously in 2010—that there were irregularities. As soon as the OPS discovered that there were irregular financial transactions, they initiated an internal audit. The information gathered from the audit was shared with the OPP, and an investigation was launched.
On December 20, 2010, the OPP laid charges against three government employees and an employee of a facility management company. The process was shared with the public in an open OPP news release on December 20, 2010. So this was a police investigation that was dealt with and was drawn to a legal conclusion.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Well, you’re right. It is another OPP investigation, in which documents say that in fact what happened was, as part of the scheme, Liberal cabinet ministers had their houses cleaned for free.
Let me read a quote from the OPP that was in the paper this morning. OPP Sergeant Carolle Dionne said the following: “All of the names on the list were reviewed.... There was no wrongdoing, no fraud, no (criminal) breach.”
Speaker, a number of weeks ago, I had the privilege and honour of having the minister come and visit the riding. We visited Ivaco, which is a major employer in L’Orignal, Ontario, and we announced an investment where we’re going to help to retain and create 458 jobs.
Further to that, we also made announcements about Montebello Packaging, where we’re going to retain and create 86 jobs; and Skotidakis goat farm, a Greek yogurt maker, which is growing right across the province and North America—we’re helping to create and retain 110 jobs.
Minister, I know that last week you joined the Premier and Mr. Milloy to announce a multi-billion-dollar investment in other communities such as Kitchener and Waterloo, so I’m just asking if you could update us with the details of those announcements.
Hon. Eric Hoskins: The member is correct. Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the Premier and my colleague from Kitchener Centre to announce an unprecedented investment by OpenText, one of the world’s largest and most successful technology companies, operating in 33 countries around the globe.
This is a significant partnership for the province. OpenText will be investing up to $2 billion in its Ontario operations, making our province its R&D hub globally for cloud computing technology, the future of the Internet. This is great news. This partnership will create up to 1,200 new jobs, doubling the company’s Ontario workforce, and these jobs will be high-paying ICT jobs.
This investment is also going to pay great dividends to the province. Our $120-million investment will directly benefit the province, with over $200 million in tax revenues alone. And most importantly, this partnership will help to guarantee the success of this sector for years to come and keep Ontario at the forefront of the world’s most exciting innovations.
Mr. Grant Crack: Thank you, Minister, for that great news. The tech and manufacturing sectors in my riding and across the province will continue to benefit from our government’s commitment to this sector, because we’re making smart strategic partnerships with industry. This announcement demonstrates our plans to create jobs and grow the economy.
Speaker, this government has many positive and successful measures we’ve taken to create good-paying jobs across this province, but the party opposite has come out with name-calling and harming the relationships we have with our industry partners. I find it appalling that the leader of the official opposition actually calls our investments in our businesses and industries “corporate welfare.”
As a matter of fact, the PC candidate in my riding of Glengarry–Prescott–Russell said it was a shame that we gave $1 million, or partnered with $1 million, to St-Albert’s cheese, when we all know that St-Albert’s went through some very difficult times over the last year.
Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, one of the key priorities for our government is creating good-paying jobs for today and tomorrow. We’ve seen this with the landmark $4-billion Cisco announcement last December. It’s the province’s talented workforce, our research infrastructure and competitive business climate that are attracting these top companies that are choosing to invest here as a result.
It’s refreshing to know that some members from the party opposite are getting it, or at least former members. To quote the former member from Thornhill, Peter Shurman, when he was asked why the government partnered with OpenText, he said it’s necessary because “[We’re] in a competitive race. That’s why.” The former PC finance critic went on to say that “there are things that even Conservatives have to do… If we’re going to get a $2-billion investment from a company that operates in 33 jurisdictions, that $120 million will alleviate any concerns ... of other jurisdictions coming to the fore—it’s a good thing.”
Mr. John O’Toole: My question is to the Minister of Health. Minister, yesterday, Mr. and Mrs. McEwen were here at Queen’s Park. My constituent Jim McEwen suffered a stroke in 2010, at the age of 55. He spent a few weeks in hospital in rehab, and on discharge, he asked the question, “What’s next?” He was told, “You’re done.”
Minister, in your Ontario today, post-stroke patients over 19 and under 65 are not entitled to OHIP-funded physiotherapy. This is shameful. Minister, will you address this discriminatory policy and provide OHIP-funded physiotherapy for all qualified post-stroke patients?
Speaker, we do have services that are available to senior citizens, to people 65 and over, including drug benefits, for example. I’m wondering if the member opposite wants to extend drug coverage to everyone as well, which I think would be a great idea but would cost some money.
Hon. Deborah Matthews: —we do cover people 65 and over, and we do cover people who have had a hospitalization. We are expanding access to physiotherapy right across the province, including in the member opposite’s own community. We’re expanding access to home-based physiotherapy, to clinic-based physiotherapy. This is absolutely a move in the right direction, providing better care for patients and better value for our money.
I’ve petitioned you and written you over the past four years on this issue. This is about justice. Mr. McEwen was here yesterday with his wife, Lorraine. They’re asking you for help to allow Mr. McEwen to receive OHIP-funded physiotherapy so he can return to work as a professional engineer and a productive member of society.
Minister, will you address this unfairness issue and extend OHIP-funded physiotherapy to all qualified post-stroke patients, not based on discrimination of age—over 19 and under 65? Will you do this today? It’s about fairness.
Everything you talk about is about cutting services, and when we took the move to expand services to people through reforms in physiotherapy, the members opposite opposed our expansion of physiotherapy. They opposed the expansion of exercise programs and falls prevention programs for the people of this province.
Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is to the Premier. The cost of electrifying the GO line from Kitchener-Waterloo to Toronto is pegged at $900 million, and the cost of two-way, all-day GO services is estimated at nearly $5 billion. But your minister claims that he can deliver a 200-kilometre train route with bullet trains at 320 kilometres an hour at the bargain-basement price of $500 million—the same cost as a 36-kilometre BRT route from Scarborough to Durham.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I know that the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure is going to want to speak to the details of the plan, but I want to just say to the member opposite that I think this is a very exciting plan. I think it is necessary, and I know that the member opposite has been at announcements and events in her community where she has heard from people, particularly in the high-tech community, who very much want that connectivity between the Kitchener-Waterloo region and the GTHA. That is exactly what they are looking for.
I hope that the question—which at least is a question about investment in the future and in transit—indicates that the party opposite will take a very close look at the budget when we bring it in, because those investments in transit and in transportation infrastructure are core to our plan for economic growth in the province. I look forward to their support.
Ms. Catherine Fife: Yes, Madam Premier, it is the best plan in the galaxy, because what Liberals will promise, what we know they’ll promise—they’ll promise anything and everything to get elected. In order to save a few Liberal seats in the GTA, you promised to cancel gas plants. You said it would cost nothing, but we know the truth now.
Now they’re worried about seats in southwestern Ontario. They’re making a promise for a bullet train that, to quote the minister, will cost $500 million “after revenues over the next 10 … years.” The proposed HS2 high-speed train in the United Kingdom will run half the number of trains, but it will cost $29 billion. That’s a difference of 5,800%.
There are two projects here. There is the regional express rail project, which is the two-way, all-day GO service being run by Metrolinx, which will run to Guelph and to Kitchener. Those are electrified trains running every 15 minutes. Much of that expenditure has already been absorbed. I think we own 80% of the track, and Metrolinx is now working on that. That’s part of the Metrolinx program.
The estimates from FCP from Britain, who designed that—world-leading experts, First Class Partnerships—is that it is a project that will cost $2 billion to $3 billion to upgrade to London and to add that track and net of revenues—
Mr. Steven Del Duca: I am particularly happy to rise on this First Responders Day to ask this particular question to the Minister of Labour. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending an announcement with the Premier, the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services at which we announced that we would be extending protections for firefighters across Ontario.
Speaker, as you may know, last May, I brought forward Bill 81, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act (Presumptions for Firefighters), which called for the government to add six additional cancers to the existing eight that are presumed to be work-related by the WSIB. This is an issue that’s very important to the members of my local firefighters’ association in Vaughan. It’s something that I’ve worked on closely with current president Jason McInnis and former president Mike Doyle.
Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I’d be very, very happy to, but first, let me thank all the first responders that have joined us at Queen’s Park today and all across this great province. I’d particularly like to thank the member from Vaughan, not only for this question in the House but for his excellent advocacy on this issue over the past months. We know that every day firefighters risk their lives to protect us and our communities. We’ve got to protect them in return.
We’re building on the eight cancers that we already presume, and we’re making it even easier for full-time, part-time and volunteer firefighters and fire investigators to qualify for benefits. Our new regulation applies retroactively to January 1, 1960. It’s immediately going to add breast cancer, multiple myeloma and testicular cancer to the list, with an additional three to be phased in: prostate cancer in 2015, lung cancer in 2016 and skin cancer in 2017. This is the right thing to do. I was so proud to be a part of that yesterday.
Mr. Steven Del Duca: I thank the minister for his response and for being there yesterday with all of the folks who were at the announcement. There are approximately 450 fire departments in the province of Ontario, made up of about 11,000 full-time firefighters, 19,000 volunteer firefighters and 200 part-time firefighters. I am very, very thrilled to be a member of a government that is working hard to protect these vital members of our communities.
Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thanks again for the question to my colleague. This regulation recognizes the years of service of firefighters. It makes Ontario one of the leading jurisdictions in all of Canada.
You know, it lit up the Twitterverse last night. While we were standing by these courageous men and women, the PC candidate in Eglinton–Lawrence was tweeting that firefighters in this province are a special interest group that can be bought. While the PCs were busy denigrating heroic firefighters across social media last night, let’s hear what the firefighters themselves had to say. Mark McKinnon, president of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, applauded our move and said it’s going to “allow firefighters and their families to focus on getting better instead of struggling to get WSIB benefits for an illness that could have been contracted years earlier.”
Ms. Sylvia Jones: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. Since a transformer was installed in 2006 to service industrial wind turbines in my community, residents have been trying to get numerous issues resolved, including noise and health concerns. Residents and the municipality have been regularly reporting these issues to the MOE Spills Action Centre. Do you agree that one of your responsibilities as the Minister of the Environment is to resolve issues related to environmental concerns, including monitoring emissions from transformer stations through the spills reporting centre?
Hon. James J. Bradley: Our ministry, of course, works very hard to resolve all issues which are of an environmental nature, including issues right across the province of Ontario. They may relate to air quality; they may relate to noise; they may relate to water quality. I know that ministry officials work very hard to resolve these matters. There are times when people are going to be in disagreement with whatever results are achieved at that, and I certainly respect the fact that some people are not going to agree with conclusions that are reached.
We have these mechanisms in place for people to access the Ministry of the Environment in order that they may deal, as expeditiously as possible, with these issues within the legislation, within the regulations, within the policy precepts of the province of Ontario. Certainly our ministry strives to be very helpful to the people of this province, and I’m sure that they will continue to do so well into the future.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: I’m glad the minister understands his responsibilities, but I don’t understand why the Whitworth family has been told by your ministry that their concerns are irrelevant, and they don’t care about their issues.
On one occasion, when the Whitworths asked how they could lodge a formal complaint, they were told, “The ministry has closed your file and will not be taking any action on your complaints, and that no other agency, department or ministry was taking any steps to address or assume responsibility.”
Your government has turned their backs on the Whitworths. My question, Minister, is simple: Now that you’ve decreed that the Whitworths’ file is closed, where do you expect this family to go to resolve their issues?
Hon. James J. Bradley: I recognize that there are going to be—I think, as I alluded to in my initial response—people who are going to be ultimately disagreeing with the conclusions that are reached by not only the Ministry of the Environment, but other ministries, particularly when the particular assertions have been made on many occasions, and responses have been given.
I recognize as well, that people are not always going to be happy with the response. They will get a response and they will continue to pursue issues, as is their right to pursue issues. However, there will come a time, from time to time, where the answer that the ministry has given is an answer that, unless there is new information which is provided, unless there’s additional information that’s provided, the ministry will ensure that it gives the appropriate answers. I know there are other mechanisms that are available, but I must say, we do reach a circumstance—and former environment ministers who sat on the other side of the House would fully understand that.
Mr. Jagmeet Singh: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Long-term construction projects kicked off this week on the Gardiner Expressway, resulting in lane restrictions until 2016. Families will see their commute times increase dramatically in the GTA, with no access to viable transit alternatives. We should be making Brampton into a transit hub, but the minister can’t even deliver two-way, all-day GO service.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: First of all, I hope the member knows that the Gardiner is a municipal infrastructure run by the city, of which I think his party has a large number of members, so I’m hoping he’s in discussion with his municipal caucus friends at Toronto city hall. As someone who lives beside the Gardiner, I would appreciate—and I wish him well in those discussions, because I live a half a block from the Gardiner and the Lakeshore, which for some peculiar reason, in some act of brilliant transportation, were both closed at the same time, which has created some interesting discussions in my neighbourhood.
We have a $50-billion investment in the Big Move. The Premier just announced an additional, unprecedented $29-billion fund. We’re extending the 427, the 407; we’re making massive investments in rapid transit in Viva with York and with other regions.
I hope the party will support the budget later today, because this is a historic, unprecedented level. If the member does have those concerns, which I take him at his value, I hope you will be rising with us several times in the next few days.
Mr. Jagmeet Singh: As my constituents and I can attest, construction on the Gardiner has increased commute times by almost an hour. People need a viable alternative. We hear lots of empty promises from the Liberals, but there’s still really no funding for all-day, two-way GO service.
The government has delayed important transit improvements in Mississauga and Brampton for too long. Why won’t the minister commit to timelines and start the funding for these projects that Brampton needs, rather than spending his time making flashy announcements that Ontarians simply cannot trust?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, we have a $50-billion plan, which we are about $17 billion into, and we’re about five years into the 25 years. If you do the math, $17 billion of a $50-billion commitment at about year 5 means that we’re way ahead of schedule.
We’re now building more rapid-transit capital projects, including in your community, than ever before. It’s unprecedented. These aren’t announcements; these are results and actions that are going on right now across the province.
We would like to complete this project because right now, the last Premier who invested as much in rapid transit and transportation was George Drew, and he left office in 1969. We went through a 35-year drought where we never spent more than $3 billion or $4 billion. We spend more than that on highways alone. So we’re back at 2% of GDP.
Today is an ideal time for us to recognize the thousands of physicians across Ontario who screen, test, diagnose, examine, palpate, auscultate, prescribe, monitor, advise, console and heal us through hundreds of illnesses, through the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.
It’s been said that medicine is the most scientific art and the most artistic science. I know first-hand that Ontario physicians mobilize this wisdom every day. I know their dedication and commitment and energy and compassion.
I welcome the OMA today. We are delighted to be celebrating Doctors’ Day here. I want to say a big congratulations to Dr. Ved Tandan, the 133rd president of the OMA, and acknowledge the extraordinary work of Dr. Scott Wooder, who is the past president now of the OMA.
We have 26,000 doctors working in this province. They play a very central role, of course, in any attempt to reform our health care system. I’m pleased to say that Ontario’s doctors have been great partners, and even more delighted that Dr. Tandan has made a priority of his presidency building stronger partnerships and building stronger bridges; so thank you for that, Doctor.
As we have worked to increase access to physicians across the province, doctors have been there with us. As we shifted our focus to patient-centred interdisciplinary care teams, doctors have been there with us. They’ve been there with us—
Speaker, as you will appreciate, doctors are committed to high-quality, timely and accessible patient care in communities across Ontario. Primary care physicians in particular are the gatekeepers and goaltenders of our health care system. Epidemics of cardiometabolic disease, type 2 diabetes, adult and childhood obesity, osteoarthritis, respiratory ailments like asthma and COPD, cancers—all these land on the desks of Ontario’s family doctors. It is the family docs who must play the lead role in encouraging patients to live healthier lives, avoid disease triggers and monitor themselves.
Family docs are generally the first point of contact in the health care system when patients fall ill, yet I know there are many families in my own riding of Etobicoke–North who are concerned about access to primary care. Would the minister please elaborate on her efforts at increasing equitable access to doctors in communities across Ontario?
There is more to do. I do want to say thank you to the doctors for supporting us as we have focused on wellness and prevention. As we have proposed legislation like the skin cancer protection act, the Youth Smoking Prevention Act and the Making Healthier Choices Act, Ontario doctors have been right there with us, supporting.
Mr. Ted Arnott: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Will the Premier explain to the House why the government cancelled the Connecting Link Program, an historic partnership so vitally important to our municipalities like the township of Centre Wellington and the town of Halton Hills, without adequate notice or consultation?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: We actually have just done the MIII in the small, rural and northern programs, which is $100 million. The Premier just announced an unprecedented fund of over $14 billion for rural and northern Ontario.
My estimate: In any years when we’ve been in government, we have been spending $5 to $10 more than you did per person in rural Ontario, and we are working now and have had consultants to integrate all of those highways.
The other thing is, as you know, you downloaded 42% of the highways in eastern Ontario and took all of the provincial highways, and downloaded health and social service, just in case there was any chance that any municipal leader could find five cents for it.
We are uploading health and social services, and we are putting more money into rural roads and highways. So I’m hoping that that statement from my honourable friend—that you’ll be supporting the budget, and you’ll see that as some redemption for your government’s record, which I’m sure—from your lips to God’s ears—will give us both a place in heaven.
To the Premier: By cancelling this historic partnership, the Premier is asking rural Ontario to pay the price for Liberal mistakes. West Perth needs to reconstruct the Blanchard Bridge at a cost of about $1.7 million. Wellington North needs over $1 million to repair the Rick Hopkins Bridge. These are provincial bridges on provincial highways, carrying provincial traffic.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: These new funding initiatives are several-fold what the party in power started, when Premier Wynne was Minister of Transportation, through ROMA and through the Ontario Good Roads Association. We started these new programs; they were written in partnership; and we very carefully listened to rural leaders across Ontario. As a matter of fact, the government has been so principled that over 86% of all the funds in these programs go to opposition ridings.
So I don’t understand. I would hope that the person opposite—if the member from Perth–Wellington is so concerned about this, he might want to apologize to those rural leaders for all the downloading of health and social services and when you took all the provincial highways and dumped them on municipalities.
We are uploading and we have a fully funded program, and in the budget, you will see the continuing growth of that commitment. I hope that means that the member from Perth–Wellington has mended his ways and that his party will join us in supporting the budget.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We have a deferred vote on the motion by Mr. Milloy, and that the question be now put on the motion for second reading of Bill 141, An Act to enact the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2013.
Mr. Frank Klees: Speaker, I’m honoured to rise on behalf of Tim Hudak, the leader of the official opposition, and my colleagues in the PC caucus. I know that I’ll be joined by my colleagues here unanimously.
I had the privilege of bringing this bill forward, and, as members know, it was a complex process. What is, however, very encouraging is that ultimately this bill was passed because, unanimously, we as members agreed that it was the right thing to do.
It’s appropriate that we would take a day when we would recognize the contribution that first responders make to our communities. There will be a memorial this weekend, and we will remember first responders who died in the course of fulfilling their duties.
I have participated, as many members have, over the last number of years. I now will have served—on June 9, if we get there—for 19 years. I know there are some members who are pleased to know that I’m moving on.
Over that time, I have had the honour to participate in those memorials. But what is important to me, and I believe all of us, is that we not only remember first responders who have died in carrying out their responsibilities, but that we remember them while they are with us and carrying out those responsibilities, that we celebrate what you do and we’re appreciative of what you do. That’s what this bill does.
The purpose of the legislation is so that we would raise awareness within our communities, starting here, as we’re doing now, as members of the Legislature, to give honour and respect and celebrate. The objective was that throughout this province, that whether at municipal level, or whether in our schools and auditoriums, throughout our communities, that we would come together—people would come together—pause, take this day and say, “Thank you. We appreciate what you do for us. We appreciate the safety and security that we enjoy in our communities.” That doesn’t just happen by accident.
Speaker, we often take for granted these important services and the dedication, not only of the first responders, but of their families as well. It’s not an easy task to put yourself in harm’s way day in and day out for the protection of people within our communities, so we’re here celebrating that contribution.
One of the initiatives that I undertook to try to spread that news was to initiate an essay contest in our schools. I contacted both school boards in Newmarket and Aurora and York region and asked to have students participate and write an essay to say what first responders mean to them and to our communities.
I’d like to read into the record one of those essays that was received, because I believe that this really goes to the heart of what we are trying to achieve with this day. It’s entitled “Heroes,” by Tattiana Pancho in grade 11 at Sacred Heart Catholic High School:
“I was with my father when I felt a weakness in my knees. My hero, my father, a Toronto police officer, went into emergency mode. His action saved my life. He called 911 and the emergency medical services unit came out.
“My heroes, the emergency staff, doctors, nurses and administrative team worked diligently to ensure my safety. The doctors requested air transport to the SickKids; organizing this would take three to six hours.
“My dad, Superman to me, called his unit. His unit command called York Regional Police and they came to his rescue, my rescue.” They “blocked traffic and got me to SickKids with moments to spare. I was then rushed into surgery.
“My heroes, the police officers who keep us safe; firefighters, who are not only there if there is a fire but are called out to motor vehicle accidents to assist with the jaws of life or simply to get your pet out of a tree; the EMS team who works against time to get patients to the hospital; the administrative staff in hospital, the first contact in a hospital visit; the doctors and nurses who fight the odds constantly to ensure survival.
Vali Stone is the author of a book entitled 911: True Tales of Courage and Compassion. Vali came to my office and gave me that book, and it recounts the stories of first responders whom Vali asked to share the most memorable times that they’ve had in carrying out their duties. I commend that book to all members. In fact, when I first introduced this bill, I made that book available to all members here. I believe it’s something that everyone in this province should read.
Again, in closing, Speaker, I just want to express our sincere appreciation for the work that our first responders do. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Our province and our communities are what they are because of the work that you do.
Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Speaker, it is my great privilege to rise in this House today on behalf of our Premier, my colleagues in the government caucus and the people of Ontario to recognize and express our gratitude to our first responders.
First responders provide emergency services in times of crisis. Every day, our first responders put their lives on the line to protect us, our friends, neighbours and loved ones. They are there when we need them most and look after us in our time of need. We are always confident that Ontario’s first responders are ready at a moment’s notice to protect our homes, businesses and communities.
To recognize their ongoing commitment to community safety, the Ontario Legislature proclaimed May 1 of each year as First Responders Day. I especially want to thank the member from Newmarket–Aurora for championing this very important initiative.
First responders include police officers, firefighters, military personnel, paramedics, medical evacuation pilots, dispatchers, nurses, doctors and emergency managers. They also include the many volunteers and professionals who dedicate their careers to the service of others.
Emergency service providers are important members of our communities. They are also our neighbours, friends and relatives. Speaker, I’m very proud to note that my late grandfather, Ghulam Abbas Naqvi, was a police officer.
Our first responders help people in times of crisis, but we also want to recognize their volunteer work, which helps strengthen our communities. From charity events to toy drives, community car washes and coaching little league, our first responders are a positive example for our youth and for everyone in our communities.
I was pleased to join Premier Wynne, Minister Kevin Flynn and MPP Steven Del Duca yesterday to announce that our government is improving supports for firefighters across Ontario. We’re increasing cancer coverage to make it easier for firefighters with cancer associated with their work to qualify for workplace insurance benefits. It’s the right thing to do to help protect those who protect us.
We know that Ontario families and communities are safer thanks to the dedication of our first responders, who are there to help us when we need them most. They make a difference every day in communities across our great province. They help us feel safe and protect us during emergency situations.
I also want to recognize the sacrifice of their families, their partners, their mothers, fathers and their children. Thank you for sharing your loved ones with us and putting them in the line of harm.
Speaker, we also want to take the opportunity to pay our respects to those who lost their lives in the line of duty. Working with firefighters and police, we created an annual tribute to honour those who have died in the line of duty. This weekend, the Ontario Police Memorial Foundation will hold its annual ceremony of remembrance at Queen’s Park here in Toronto. The names of fallen officers are inscribed on the wall of honour. Let’s all take a moment to reflect on their courage and dedication.
Heroes are defined by the way they live their lives, serving their communities and protecting those in harm’s way. To the families of those who have given their lives to protect others, we owe you an eternal debt and we keep the memory of your loved ones in our hearts and minds so that they may never be forgotten. Ontarians are privileged to be protected by our first responders. We are grateful for their dedication, their public service and their commitment to duty and service.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s an honour and a privilege to stand in the company of such heroes here today. Certainly on behalf of Andrea Horwath and the entire New Democratic Party caucus, the most important words we can say to you today are: Thank you.
It was in that spirit that our leader, Andrea Horwath, first tabled a bill about presumed diagnosis for certain varieties of cancer, and we are delighted that the government has picked up on that and brought that to bear and brought it into reality. That’s a very good thing. As the Premier herself said, “It doesn’t matter where good ideas come from.”
On February 27 we, in the NDP, tabled a bill for presumed diagnosis for post-traumatic stress disorder for those who rush into danger when we rush out. This is critical. In fact, it’s law in Alberta and has been law in Alberta for over two years now. What they’ve discovered is that there’s no increase in the number of claims or cases; it’s just that those claims and cases are dealt with with dignity, the way our first responders should be dealt with—with dignity—even when they succumb to post-traumatic stress disorder, which happens and which also results in death, on occasion. They also found in Alberta that it doesn’t cost any more for municipalities. These are facts based on evidence of actually working with the law for over two years now.
On that day, we had in this House the Ontario Provincial Police Association, the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Police Association of Ontario, the Ontario Paramedic Association, Tema Conter Memorial Trust, OPSEU, Unifor, CUPE and ATU, all in support of Bill 67. Most notably, though, I think, were the stories of the individuals who were suffering—Jeff Balch, firefighter; Bruce Kruger, Ontario provincial policeperson; David Whitley, paramedic—very brave individuals who came and told the stories of what it was to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, to try to get a claim through WSIB and often to fail in that pursuit.
We also heard from WSIB workers themselves who said they wished that they had the tools to process these claims in a dignified and honourable way, rather than look for every excuse not to process them. So that is what this bill does.
I believe that just like first responders would never say never to us, in terms of protecting our safety, we should never say never to them. I don’t believe for a moment that this is a partisan issue. I have heard some negative rumblings from both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives, but I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that there’s a person in this room who doesn’t want what’s best for our first responders.
So it is in that spirit that I seek unanimous consent to move a motion without notice regarding Bill 67, An Act to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 with respect to post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): If I could have your indulgence, please. I’m going to ask the member—and I stopped the clock—to provide the rest of her statement. If she’s finished, that’s fine. And then I will entertain that after, because we’re in the middle of a unanimous consent to do the work that we’re doing now. So, if you would like to complete your statement.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Absolutely. I just want to give credit where credit is due and say that it was the member from Newmarket–Aurora who made this suggestion. When the reading happened for Bill 67, it was his suggestion that it pass today, on May 1. But it was also the suggestion of hundreds of paramedics, firefighters and police officers who also sent us their wishes that this pass today, including the unions that I enumerated.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I seek unanimous consent to move a motion without notice regarding Bill 67, An Act to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 with respect to post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Ms. DiNovo is seeking unanimous consent to move a motion without notice regarding Bill 67, An Act to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 with respect to post-traumatic stress disorder. Do we agree?
Mr. Rob Leone: I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss an important issue right across the province of Ontario. I know that there are many schools that have, in the course of the last few years, closed right across the province of Ontario.
There is a process that is in need of review; it’s called the ARC process that every school board goes through. I want to note that we on this side of the House have some concerns about the process and how it’s unfolding in cities and communities right across the province, whether it’s in Niagara Falls, Hamilton, Peterborough, or even in my own riding.
There is a school in my riding, St. Brigid school, that is a temporary school that was supposed to be built for about 15 years, and it was supposed to be replaced by a permanent school. I think residents in my community of Cambridge have asked what process has to actually be undertaken to replace that temporary school with a permanent structure.
I would ask that the members of this Legislature embark on a review process of the entire infrastructure plan in the Ministry of Education so that people are aware of how we can keep our schools open. In rural areas, particularly, where schools are closing because of declining enrollment, we should come up with a plan to keep those schools open to the greatest extent possible.
Miss Monique Taylor: On Monday evening, it was my honour to take part in Hamilton’s National Day of Mourning ceremony. Each year, on April 28, we mourn the tragedy of workers killed on the job, and we vow to prevent them from happening in the future.
Every day, men and women leave their home for work as they have done many times before, but sometimes they don’t return. We owe it to them, their families and all workers to make workplaces as safe as they possibly can be. We owe it to them to make sure that workers who are injured on the job are not assigned to a life of poverty.
Instead, the WSIB has released draft policies for consultation that, if implemented, will deny benefits to many workers with permanent injuries. The effect of these policy changes would be that workers’ injuries will systematically be blamed on pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions would include factors that are simply part of normal aging.
The simple fact is that if a worker is injured at work, they deserve to be compensated for that. Just because they are older and are, perhaps, more prone to disability, should not mean that they are less entitled. How can we possibly justify putting a lesser value on people as they age?
Mr. Bob Delaney: This past weekend, the community of Meadowvale got together to celebrate 25 years of community theatre at our Meadowvale Theatre, which is celebrating its anniversary—it opened at the end of April—with a three-day celebration. It is an important milestone in our western Mississauga community.
The three-day event was hosted by Billy Talent—a name that some members in this Legislature will know—a now-famous punk rock band that originated right in Meadowvale and got its start at the Meadowvale Theatre.
The celebration featured performances by young artists, activities, and was followed by a barbecue for families to come and take part in. The master of ceremonies was ward 9 councillor Pat Saito, who was herself involved in the original work that brought the Meadowvale Theatre to fruition.
The theatre has grown in popularity by featuring, in part, Mississauga’s cultural and social identity, and we brought in a lot of big names. The event also demonstrates that Mississauga is not only proud to bring in existing names but to develop its own artistic talent right in the heart of Meadowvale.
Dr. Wright has a long-established professional career in the field of child psychology. After her graduate studies at the University of Toronto and war service in Britain, where she worked on developing care for evacuated children, she returned to her alma mater, the University of Western Ontario, where she became the first female in Canada to chair a major psychology department. She has also held many leadership roles in a number of organizations, including the Canadian Psychological Association, the Ontario Board of Examiners, Huron University College, and as a non-American fellow of the American Psychological Association.
She has been recognized with many awards, including honorary degrees from four Canadian universities, the Ontario Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology, the Ontario Psychological Foundation’s Year of the Child Award, the Association for Early Childhood Education Children’s Service Award, the CPA’s Gold Medal and a Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Medal. Recently, Strathroy’s newest public school is being named in her honour for her lifetime of contributions.
Mr. Speaker, it may appall you to learn that in some communities in this province, the youth suicide rate is 10 times the national average. One community in my riding with a total population of 420 people has seen seven youth suicides and 27 attempts in a 12-month period.
I want the members of the House to take a moment to reflect on that and apply that figure proportionately to the communities they know. There would be an uproar. No one would stand for it, yet in First Nation communities like Neskantaga, Webequie and Pikangikum, very little is done to address the causes of the despair that is felt in these communities.
For many Ontarians living in these communities, the despair is caused by deplorable living conditions, boil water advisories that have lasted for decades, lack of access to fresh food, overcrowded and mould-infested homes—and that makes the situation even more dire.
More needs to be done than fly-in, fly-out crisis intervention. Real changes need to be made to address these grossly substandard conditions, and we need to reach out to these communities just as we would to any other community in this province.
Mr. John Fraser: Mr. Speaker, we see the world through our eyes. In fact, 80% of learning comes directly through our vision. Good vision is a key determinant in a child’s learning and development. It enables them to achieve their full potential and to succeed.
We know that routine eye examinations by either an optometrist or a physician are fully covered by OHIP for Ontarians under the age of 20. Despite this, approximately 86% of children do not get their vision tested before the age of six. One out of six children require vision correction, and 3% of children have a serious eye condition that requires treatment.
There are a number of initiatives, like the Eye See...Eye Learn program, the government’s partnership with optometrists to raise awareness with families. As well, ophthalmologists and researchers are actively engaged in a number of studies and initiatives regarding effective and affordable vision screening for children.
I would like to suggest that we, as MPPs, take the opportunity to communicate this important issue to families in our ridings. I have tabled a motion, number 71, to be debated here next Thursday, to encourage discussion and debate and to raise awareness on this important issue. I look forward to members’ interest and participation.
Mrs. Jane McKenna: This past Saturday morning, families in my riding gathered for a special breakfast at St. Christopher’s Cooperative Preschool on Guelph Line. Students and parents, past and present, were there for pancakes and syrup, true, but the sweetest aspect of this occasion was the celebration of the non-profit preschool’s golden anniversary year.
Opened in September 1964, the preschool was started by the young mothers of St. Christopher’s Anglican Church, along with the parish’s Reverend Clarence Mitchell and founding teacher Grace Freckleton.
Just two or three dozen children attended St. Christopher’s during that first year. Things were simpler then, as they were outside of the preschool orbit, but St. Christopher’s has evolved surely and steadily over the last half-century. The role of technology is the most obvious measure of change inside the classroom. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the deep commitment of the dedicated staff and parents, whose efforts make this preschool’s operations possible.
On Saturday, April 26, the Gloucester North Lions Club ran an organ donor drive hosted by Place d’Orléans, a large mall in Orléans. This was the second year they partnered with the Trillium Gift of Life Network to give local Ottawa–Orléans residents an opportunity to sign up as organ and tissue donors.
As we all know, April was organ donor month in Ontario. In the past year, we saw Ontario’s organ donor list grow by 232,000 as citizens registered their consent to organ and tissue donation. This brings the total number of registered donors in the province to 2.9 million people, and I’m proud of the contribution of members of my community.
The local effort was led by Lion Pierrette Woods, who is also a tissue recipient. She told me that without her transplant, she would not be able to take in her favourite activity: watching her grandchildren play hockey.
Also present were John Proulx, Judy Proulx, Daniel Trottier, Harry Jackson, Guy Savard, Gail Marcogliese, Linda Robar, George Davies, Ann Bourassa, Ken McDonald, Judy McDonald, Linda Kzuniarz, Janet Kennedy and Barbara Savard.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: I’d like to take this time to thank the Kinette Club of London. For the last 14 years, they have hosted an essay contest for students in grades 5 and 6 in the London area. The topic of the contest this year was “Why I Am Proud to Be Canadian.” The grade 5 school curriculum covers the different levels of government, and this fit well with the contest.
“Canadians have many amazing things, one of which is freedom. Our freedoms and rights have attracted people from across the world for plenty of reasons, such as peace. I am proud to say that Canada is an official member of the UN ... that aims to prevent war from breaking out. Others come for the equal rights, such as equality of men and women. In fact, Canada is known for its rich variety of cultures. Twenty per cent of all Canadians come from somewhere else. It makes me feel safe to know that boy or girl, black or white, or short or tall will be accepted. Kids have rights too! I have the right to go to school and to be treated fairly, just like everyone else. A very important freedom, in my opinion, is the freedom of speech. For example, if I said I don’t really want Stephen Harper to be Prime Minister, I would not be whisked off to jail! As long as it’s respectful, I can speak my mind (and that means speaking a lot!). I am proud to say that I can count on my rights and freedoms to help me feel safe and loved....
“In conclusion, it’s pretty clear I’m a proud Canadian, eh? I’ve told you about our freedoms, our climate, our inventors and our animals. We have clean air to breathe and a safe environment—what more could you ask for? You certainly couldn’t ask for a better country as Canada has that position filled. Au revoir!”
Hon. David Zimmer: It’s my pleasure to introduce Daiene Vernile, who is sitting here in the east lobby, who is the nominated candidate in the riding of Kitchener Centre and will soon, after the next election—whenever that is—be taking the seat of John Milloy.
“Whereas the lack of post-stroke physiotherapy offered to Ontarians between the ages of 20 and 64 is forcing these people to prematurely cash in their RRSPs and/or sell their houses to raise funds” for their own treatment;
“Now therefore we, the undersigned, hereby respectfully petition the Ontario Legislature to introduce and pass amending legislation and new regulations to provide OHIP-funded post-stroke physiotherapy and treatment for all qualified post-stroke patients, thereby eliminating the discriminatory nature of current treatment practices.”
« Attendu que l’effectif actuel de l’école élémentaire catholique Alain-Fortin sera de 692 élèves à l’automne 2014, excédant la prévision du Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) qui était prévue à 616 élèves pour la rentrée scolaire 2014;
« Nous demandons que les fonds nécessaires à la construction d’une nouvelle école élémentaire catholique soient octroyés au Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est par le ministère de l’Éducation via les fonds en investissements d’immobilisations prioritaires pour le secteur d’Avalon à Orléans. »
Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: “Whereas the tick-borne illness known as chronic Lyme disease, which mimics many catastrophic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s, Alzheimer’s, arthritic diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, is increasingly endemic in Canada, but scientifically validated diagnostic tests and treatment choices are currently not available in Ontario, forcing patients to seek these in the USA and Europe;
“Whereas the Canadian Medical Association informed the public, governments and the medical profession in the May 30, 2000, edition of its professional journal that Lyme disease is endemic throughout Canada, particularly in southern Ontario;
“Whereas the Ontario public health system and the Ontario Health Insurance Plan currently do not fund those specific tests that accurately serve the process for establishing a clinical diagnosis, but only recognize testing procedures known in the medical literature to provide false negatives 45% to 95% of the time;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to request the Minister of Health to direct the Ontario public health system and OHIP to include all currently available and scientifically verified tests for acute and chronic Lyme diagnosis, to do everything necessary to create public awareness of Lyme disease in Ontario, and to have internationally developed diagnostic and successful treatment protocols available to patients and physicians.”
They “petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario ... to mandate the Ontario Energy Board to monitor the price of gasoline across Ontario in order to reduce price volatility and unfair regional price differences while encouraging competition.”
“Whereas Credit Unions of Ontario support our 1.3 million members across Ontario through loans to small businesses to start up, grow and create jobs, help families to buy homes and assist their communities with charitable investments and volunteering; and
“Whereas Credit Unions of Ontario want a level playing field so they can provide the same service to our members as other financial institutions and promote economic growth without relying on taxpayers’ resources;
“Whereas the northern, unmaintained portion of Groves Road, being in the north half of lot 20, concession 9, from reference point N86’36’30’W to reference point N89’51’40’W in Zealand township was not included in the original 1972 maps of the Zealand #3 local roads board that were published in the Ontario Gazette, nor does it lead to any residences or other interests, and it negatively impacts residents living alongside the eastern, legally recognized, portion of Groves Road;
“Whereas Zealand #3 local roads board (LRB) voted in favour of removing said northern section of Groves Road from their recognized LRB area at their 2012 annual meeting, before and during which they complied with all rules and procedures relating to the conduct of local roads board business and were told as much by then-present MTO senior municipal supervisor, Larry Wilcox; and
“Whereas the Thunder Bay regional office of the Ministry of Transportation has since refused to support this democratic and legitimate process, and has ordered the aforementioned northern section of road to remain part of the local roads board area;
“To call upon the Minister of Transportation to uphold the democratic will of Zealand #3 local roads board by directing MTO bureaucrats to stop interfering with the democratic and legitimate affairs of the Zealand #3 LRB and remove from the LRB area the northern portion of Groves Road which is described as running through the north half of lot 20, concession 9, of Zealand township, from reference point N86’36’30’W to reference point N89’51’40’W.”
“Whereas digital communications are now essential for members of Parliament to conduct their business, correspond with constituents, respond to stakeholders, stay in touch with staff, store data and information securely, keep ahead of the news cycle, and to remain current;
“Whereas the Legislative Assembly of Ontario has been considering the value, utility and usage of digital devices within the legislative precinct and within the chamber of Parliament itself for several months;
“Whereas this consideration of digital empowerment of members continues to be unresolved, on hold, under consideration and the subject of repeated temporizing correspondence between decision-makers and interested parties;
“We, the undersigned, respectfully request all various decision-makers of the assembly and government to fully embrace digital technologies, empower members, acquire the optimal Android and Apple devices, maximize the many technology offerings, and orchestrate a much-needed modernization of the conduct of parliamentary business for the eventual benefit of the people of Ontario.
“Whereas the government of Ontario, through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, levies the Ontario provincial fee on the sale of break-open tickets by charitable and non-profit organizations in the province; and
“Whereas local hospital auxiliaries/associations across the province, who are members of the Hospital Auxiliaries Association of Ontario, use break-open tickets to raise funds to support local health care equipment needs in more than 100 communities across the province; and
“Whereas in September 2010, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced a series of changes to the Ontario provincial fee which included a reduction of the fee for certain organizations and the complete elimination of the fee for other organizations, depending on where the break-open tickets are sold; and
“Whereas the September 2010 changes to the Ontario provincial fee unfairly treat certain charitable and non-profit organizations (local hospital auxiliaries) by not providing for the complete elimination of the fee which would otherwise be used by these organizations to increase their support for local health care equipment needs and other community needs;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to eliminate the Ontario provincial fee on break-open tickets for all charitable and non-profit organizations in Ontario and allow all organizations using this fundraising tool to invest more funds in local community projects, including local health care equipment needs, for the benefit of Ontarians.”
“Whereas Credit Unions of Ontario support our 1.3 million members across Ontario through loans to small businesses to start up, grow and create jobs, help families to buy homes and assist their communities with charitable investments and volunteering; and
“Whereas Credit Unions of Ontario want a level playing field so they can provide the same service to our members as other financial institutions and promote economic growth without relying on taxpayers’ resources;
“Whereas these campuses have delivered specialized and high-quality programs to generations of students from agricultural communities across eastern Ontario and the future success of the region’s agri-food industry depends on continuing this strong partnership; and
“Whereas regional campuses like those in Kemptville and Alfred ensure the agri-food industry has access to the knowledge, research and innovation that are critical for Ontario to remain competitive in this rapidly changing sector;
“That Premier Wynne in her dual capacity as Minister of Agriculture and Food act immediately to reverse the University of Guelph’s short-sighted and unacceptable decision to close its Kemptville and Alfred campuses.”
I am going to ask for the indulgence of the House while the pages deliver their copies. I also remind members to keep your hands to yourselves and let them deliver, because they’re trying to set the record.
Last year we introduced the Youth Jobs Strategy. This is helping young people find jobs, start their own business and gain valuable skills. We know a job early in life helps put young adults on a strong career track.
In the gallery today we have Cosmo Hosten. Ever since he was a kid, he wanted to work in the auto sector. Through the Youth Employment Fund he was able to find a job as a service adviser at Canadian Tire. He calls his new job a career. Good luck to you, Cosmo.
That’s why we are introducing steps to lower costs and make our businesses even more competitive. That includes a new five-point business energy savings plan to give small businesses the tools they need to conserve energy, manage costs and save money.
Governments of all political stripes failed to make the necessary investments to unclog our highways, to give commuters more public transit options, and to ensure that our just-in-time economy runs on time.
Monsieur le Président, ce budget contient des mesures qui aideraient tous les Ontariens à réussir. Il comprend également des initiatives pour souligner les Franco-Ontariens, avec la célébration du 400e anniversaire de l’arrivée des francophones en Ontario.
To ensure that those who care for our children, our elderly and our most vulnerable ... by properly supporting them. They deserve greater respect and reward for the important work they do, and we are going to provide that.
Mr. Speaker, this budget will also help people who want to become parents by expanding coverage of infertility services. This will help 4,000 more potential parents. Today in the gallery, Sandra David and her husband, Tony, are joining us. Because of prohibitive costs, their dream of parenthood was fading. Today we are helping make that dream a reality. Congratulations to them, and we wish you all the best.
While this money could be used in Ontario to fund more hospitals, nurses or public transit, it is redistributed to other regions of Canada to subsidize programs and services that Ontarians themselves may not enjoy.