Official Records for 10 May 2016

The House met at 0900.

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

Prayers.

Orders of the Day

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I shall be sharing my time with the member from Beaches–East York.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): You have to move it.

Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur l’atténuation du changement climatique et une économie sobre en carbone

Mr. Murray moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 172, An Act respecting greenhouse gas / Projet de loi 172, Loi concernant les gaz à effet de serre.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Now the minister.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, thank you for your indulgence and patience. My apologies, Mr. Speaker. I will be sharing my time with the member from Beaches–East York.

I think that for many of us, when we look back on our time in this House, this debate may be one of the most important in our lives, when the history books are written. We have never in the history of humanity confronted such an overwhelming challenge as climate change.

Here in Ontario, the thermometer of that change is probably going to be felt most immediately in the transformation of an asset that we live very close to and that many people in this House represent: the boreal forest. Sadly, that forest, over the next 30 years, will warm at least four degrees Celsius in the southern part and as much as, or more than, eight degrees Celsius in the northern part, regardless of what we do at this point.

If you look at the work being done by people like Dr. Dennis Murray at Trent University, who is one of the leading scientists in this area, he just finished a study—something that I think most members in this House probably want to look at—on the lodgepole forests in BC, 80% of which have died. What has happened in those regions of British Columbia is that those forests have changed from being a carbon sink to a carbon source.

Here in Ontario, the boreal is one of the most at-risk forests in the world right now. It’s at risk because two species of trees—two of the most common, white spruce and black spruce—are both dying off at a rather extraordinary rate.

People often say, “What keeps you up at night as an environment minister?” What keeps me up most at night is the risk of losing the boreal forest or seeing the boreal forest shift, over the next couple of decades, from being a carbon sink to a carbon source.

Why is that consequential? Because one third of all the GHG emissions in the world are absorbed by our forests. They dwarf the emissions coming from human beings. And while human beings’ emissions have been enough to change the carbon cycle, there is nothing we could do if we ever lost the power of the carbon sinks of our major forests. The boreal is 25 million square kilometres, 12% of the earth’s surface. That and the dense rain forests of the southern hemisphere function in absorbing carbon and keeping a lid on climate change, and they’re all in some state of degradation right now.

Mr. Speaker, I don’t normally ask my colleagues to go and look up science, but I think it would be very helpful for all of us, as Canadians, if we read the work of two people. One I mentioned earlier, Dr. Dennis Murray of Trent University, and his internationally recognized work on the danger to our existence on this planet of the change in the boreal forest; and a rather phenomenal piece of work done by Dr. Peter Griffith. Dr. Griffith is the chief support scientist at NASA in the United States, a very famous space agency.

They’re running a program right now in Canada—actually, it’s sadly not in Ontario, but from the Manitoba border to Alaska—called the ABoVE project, which is the Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment. It involves 21 ground stations and a series of satellites. This is the most comprehensive study of the boreal and one of the largest projects, if not the largest project, by NASA’s Earth Observatory.

One might ask why NASA has a long linear study of the boreal forest going on right now in Canada and Alaska. The reason they are looking at that is that their assessment of risk of climate change is that if the boreal forest, which is now seeing higher levels of fires at an accelerated rate than it has ever seen, causing major carbon emissions and the release of methane, which is 84 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide—the biggest risk of release is not in the High Arctic, which is warming faster; it’s actually in the forests, because the forests are now warm enough that infestations are killing them off. The climate impacts themselves are leading to the loss of white and black spruce. If those forests continue to die at the rate they are dying off right now, we would not be able to compensate for that.

People often say, “Why do scientists call climate change an existential threat to human beings?” Because those kinds of changes, combined with droughts in California and Syria, and fires on our prairies, are enough to consequently eliminate the ability of the planet to absorb carbon dioxide at a sufficient scale to allow us to maintain the chemistry of our atmosphere that would allow us to grow food and keep this planet habitable.

As I listen to myself—and I was just at the World Bank in Paris hearing those things—it’s kind of depressing. I was out on Mother’s Day, and my mom has gotten into this. My mom is an amazing 88-year-old woman. Talking to older people who lived through wars and depressions and things like that, we talked a lot about how material the Second World War was for her generation. A whole generation of people went off, but the threat was so understandable. People could understand the Nazis and the tanks and the need to act.

She said, “What scares me, Glen, is that your generation and my grandchildren’s generation have to take on a much bigger threat than the Second World War and have to do it without the obvious, tangible, menacing threat.”

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about that. And I always find it hard, and sometimes I don’t choose my words as carefully as I wish to, because I find this a very difficult issue to talk about; I really do. I have a 5-year-old grandson, and I know what this will mean to him when he is 30 or 40 or 50 years old and how much a diminished planet we are leaving him if we don’t change.

There is cause for hope; I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy. Just a couple of weeks ago in New York—members here will remember the agreement that was reached in Paris. I was very pleased that the member for Huron–Bruce and the member for Toronto–Danforth were able to attend. We had a good representation with the environment critics from both the opposition parties in Paris. I think we got a sense of how sobering that discussion was. Many members will remember two things that happened in Paris that were quite consequential: one, the agreement was for 3.7 degrees Celsius. And 3.7 degrees Celsius by mid-century is probably halfway to where we need to be. That is, as you know, over the two degrees Celsius that we need to keep it under. There is a growing consensus among scientists that 1.5 degrees Celsius is what we probably really need to target. The growing body of science, especially the science that has emerged since COP21, is suggesting that two degrees is a guardrail at the edge of the cliff, and that we actually have to pull this back.

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This is extraordinarily difficult. There is no other issue, I think, that members of this House have to better understand than the near-term risks over the next 30 years from climate change. Whether it’s Dr. Griffith’s work or Dr. Edwards’s work, we will see this acting out in real time within our communities.

I want to take a little break from that and talk about one other thing, which is this idea of transformational leadership. I apologize: When I speaking at The Economic Club, what I was trying to say and what I didn’t say as articulately as I wish I had said, was that this is an age of transformational leadership. Within 30 years, our automobile fleet has to be net zero.

We’re going to have to secure more of our food as spring is disrupted in the way it has been, where we had four or five metres of snow on the streets of Halifax and St. John’s in late May and June; where strawberries came out in British Columbia in January last year and died because of a false spring, with blossoms being provoked from warmth; and with the loss of apple trees, which right now are anomalous and we have lost as many as 80%.

These things will become more common. Some 80% of our food is imported from California. California is in a 40-year drought. Its rivers no longer empty. The change in the atmosphere off California is causing a prolonged drought. They have to come up with new names for it. They’ve added two categories of drought. I can’t even remember them. I was just there about a week ago. That’s 80% of our tomatoes, 75% of our lettuce, and with the dollar difference, that food also is becoming an expensive scarcity. How do we secure food over the next 20 years in North America?

I think that probably 99% of the things that I say in this House or that most of us say in this House, no one is ever going to read or pay any attention to.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank God.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: The member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke said, “Thank God.” That’s kind of too bad.

I think the speeches that we give here on this topic today might actually get read, because five, 10 or 15 years from now, as we live with the full impacts, people are going to say, “Well, what did the people we were electing really know about this and what did they actually do about it? Did they understand how serious the consequences were? Were they acting to scale with a solution that was sufficient to address it?”

Mr. John Yakabuski: That was what you said at The Economic Club?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: It’s a very good point. What I was trying to say is that this involves transformational leadership. This involves the leadership of a Roosevelt—

Interjection.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker? This involves the kind of—

Interjection.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This involves the kind of change, a kind of leadership—

Interjections.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: This is involves the kind of change that we saw under Franklin Roosevelt, under—

Interjection.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: This involves the kind of change, Mr. Speaker, that you had under Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill. That is the level of societal change that we are really looking at and that is the kind of leadership we need. It really wasn’t—

Interjection.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, I’m having trouble hearing myself.

It is really, really challenging to try and figure out how we’re going to do this in a short period of time. We have 30 years in which to get to, essentially, a net-zero planet. The Australians just came out with research now that suggests that in the early 2020s we might hit 1.5 degrees. I don’t know whether anyone else deals with the gravity of that.

The parallel for this is that when I turned 20, AIDS was not a word. I remember, as some of my friends started getting sick—by the time I was 30, I had lost 43 friends to an AIDS epidemic from a virus that didn’t have a word 10 years earlier. I remember, as the science started to grow around this and people became aware that this was a very different kind of virus and was becoming an epidemic, and my first few friends got sick, the kind of anxiety that you started to feel as this started to take not one or two friends but dozens of friends—and the science emerged very clearly that this was a retrovirus and wasn’t easily cured—and the kinds of anxiety and fear that I lived with through my twenties when I saw most of the people I cared about die in an epidemic.

I have to say that the hardest part about this job is that there are some days where I feel what we used to call “anticipatory grief.” You can see the emerging science. You can hear that some members in this House are not taking this issue seriously. You can see that many others are very—

Interjection.

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

Hon. Glen R. Murray: The focus should be on how we get results.

My point is really that all of us are going to have to provide a level of leadership that’s transformational that we have never, ever had in our lives to stand up and take on. That is going to be very difficult. These are going to be the most difficult decisions that any generation in human history has had to make. We’re only starting down that road to understand how serious those decisions will be, made in health, in food security, in the wellness of our cities, in keeping people safe.

Everything we do in this House, first and foremost, is to keep people safe. What we really do as legislators, Mr. Speaker, is manage risk. My friend the Minister of Community and Social Services is a public health physician and she knows a lot about epidemiology and the kind of interventions that you have. If we had a terrible outbreak like SARS, the medical officer of health would intervene because there’s a risk standard. You don’t allow communicable diseases. Beyond the power of politicians, medical officers of health have extraordinary powers to intercede to protect the public health, as we saw with SARS, because we live with an assessed risk. When we design a bridge, engineers have standards that have to be met in our highway and bridge codes to make them safe.

The only risk that we’re managing in the danger zone is climate change. If we held this to the same standard as every other risk that we have, we would be very cautious—dare I say, very conservative—and we would keep our risk profile well within 1.5 degrees, knowing that anything out of 1.5 degrees is dangerous and, at 2 degrees, is extraordinarily dangerous and that we are risking the lives, the health and wellness, the existence of large parts of our population, our food security and our economy at that level.

At Paris, we got halfway there. From my perspective, the glass was half full. We got an agreement internationally to keep it under 3.7 degrees by 2050. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and Ban Ki-moon, whom I had the great pleasure of meeting when I was in Washington, are all urging us to bring that back to less than half of that goal: to try and make sure the next agreement gets us to about 1.5 Celsius. That’s an enormous challenge. It’s important to get outside this place and outside this bubble sometimes and get that information.

I want to talk a little bit about the mechanisms and why we chose a carbon market and why this is important. While cap-and-trade and a carbon market present, I think, the best solution—and I want to talk about why cap-and-trade makes so much sense and why it not only is a good market mechanism but it gives me some hope that we can get there.

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I have often said there are three groups of people in climate change these days. There are the deniers, who just don’t believe the science or don’t believe the severity and reality of it. There are the ditherers, who don’t know what to do about it and sit around trying to come up with being all things to all people. Now, sadly, there are the defeatists: There is a large group of scientists who have said that we’ve left this too long. I really don’t have time for any of that. You need effective market mechanisms.

There are also people who are saying, on one hand, that we should deny this and others who say that we have to go to war against capitalism somehow and bring down the capitalist state. There are some popular books out by people who author that view.

My view is that the actual solution to this is our markets and entrepreneurship, that the most effective way to reduce GHG emissions is to do what Japan is doing and has already done, what China is about to do, what Europe has done, what California has done and what South American countries are doing, which is to harness the power of the market. What cap-and-trade trade does is set up an allowance system for trading allowances in a carbon market. That drives out the most efficient reductions and cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We know that in Ontario because we have four other cap-and-trade systems, from carbon monoxide to nitric oxide. As I reported last week in this House on air quality, they are all down well over 40%, some with nearly 50% reductions in just a decade. So we know it works.

We also know it’s working because many of the large resource extraction businesses in Ontario have been covered for a number of years by the cap-and-trade system in Quebec, given how integrated our economies are, and California. We know this is a powerful mechanism. It allows companies to use innovation to drive productivity, to not only reduce GHG emissions in their plants and facilities but to also improve the economic performance to make [inaudible] productive.

As you know, Canada has had, for several decades now, a productivity gap with the United States of about 25%. If we could ever close that gap, it would mean $7,000 or $8,000 more disposable income for every Ontarian. It would mean a greater return on investment and more profitable businesses. This has always been a challenge. Two of the big challenges to that have been low oil prices, which we have right now, and a low dollar. They disincent foreign purchasing of technology and they disincent the kind of investment to improve productivity.

We’re going to have a bit of an uphill battle in the sense that the market conditions out there do not lend themselves easily to enable that. Even with that, we have led North America in foreign direct investment, which is a very good sign, because it means we’ve even beaten California now for the inflow of dollars. Why is that important to climate change or reducing emissions? Because we need to pool capital, which is what a carbon market does. It creates a pool of capital. Over the next five years that will be about $8 billion.

That is one of the points of disagreement we have, respectfully, with the party opposite. The reason is that we believe that money is important, for the same reason the Chinese, the Japanese, the Germans, the British, California—all of our competitors, all of the other large Western free market economies—have chosen not a revenue-neutral carbon tax but a very powerful carbon market. We’re trying to link them globally so that the bigger the market, the more stable the price is; the lower the carbon price has to be to get higher results.

If you look at what does that pool of capital do, and why is that so important: It would be almost impossible, over the next five years, to achieve our economic and environmental objectives without some capital to go and match what Nova Corp. did, which is put a quarter of a billion dollars into their facility here to do cogen and natural gas to help the trucking industry retire carbon-intensive trucks and buy new ones. You need that money, because most families—and I would dare say even many of us—would find it financially difficult to change out our fossil-fuel-burning home heating and cooling system with ground source heat pumps and batteries and the kinds of new technologies that are being introduced by great developers like Sifton homes, in London; in Barrie, Royalpark Homes; and, here in Toronto, Stanton. These are three companies that are already building net-zero communities.

I was out in the great city of London, home to my friend the President of the Treasury Board. I spent quite a lot of time and I’m going back, because you’ve already got people who are building these sorts of homes. These are fairly conservative—small-c conservative—developers who are out there building net-zero communities, and they’re doing it because they get the science of it. They’re also doing it because they’re essentially selling you a home without much of a heating or cooling bill. That’s the great thing about getting net-zero homes: Net-zero homes use a lot less energy and don’t have to burn fossil fuels to be heated and cooled.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Why do you need subsidies then?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: You need that kind of transformation. They all said two things to me. They asked for two things. They said, “Can you do with homes the same things that you’re doing with electric vehicles? Because for people who have to retrofit their homes, we can’t build it into the costs. We’ve got to retrofit every single building.”

The member for Huron–Bruce said, “Why do you need subsidies?” Well, because there are several million buildings in Ontario and a lot of middle- and lower-income people. We know from the experience of places like Switzerland and Britain that the only way this actually happens is if there is a grant program that helps working families buy that equipment. We know that. We’ve looked at it. I know my friend was in Paris and I hope she talked to the Conservative members of Parliament who were there. I met with several of them and asked them, “What’s working in Britain?” They have huge subsidies for net-zero buildings and technologies and batteries, and they’re very successful. Without that, you’re not going to get the switch in homes. Without flipping those homes into net-zero homes, changing out that technology—without a robust program, you’ll end up with people having to absorb the cost of fossil fuel increases as they go up over time.

The whole objective of a cap-and-trade system is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to provide the capital for people to do two important things: one, retrofit their home so that it’s fossil free. Once it’s fossil fuel free, you don’t pay anything. That’s how the system is working so well in places like California. That’s why the entire country of China is taking it from a seven-province program to a national program. The simple truth is, it works. The second thing is, how are you going to switch people? You’ve got some great leadership from Steve Carlisle at GM. He wrote a really interesting piece and said more elegantly what I was trying to say at the Economic Club, which is that we’re in for an era of disruptive leadership like we’ve never seen. The market conditions, globally, are going to change, but the conditions of the environment, the impacts of the environment are going to disrupt our supply chains and create a greater challenge than we’ve ever faced before. So we really need a quality of leadership to manage change at a pace that we’ve never, ever talked about before.

My friend from Niagara-Glanbrook—I hope I got that right. We talked a lot. We went for dinner the other night and had a very good conversation about the shared economy and the linkages between the low-carbon economy and the shared economy—autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles—

Mr. Arthur Potts: West Glanbrook.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: West Glanbrook, thank you, the member for Niagara–West Glanbrook—I have great, real respect for him. He and I have developed a very good collaborative relationship on these things. He makes a very good point. He has been a leading voice in this House, quite frankly, on understanding why autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles—where a car is used for 20 hours a day and rests for two, rather than only used for two and rests for 20—are part of the low-carbon economy. There are a number of members on both sides of this House who understand that we’re going through an economic revolution bigger than the information technology revolution—greater change within a decade. When you used to have computers that would fit in the size of this space and you told someone that your computer in 10 years would be the size of a notepad, people probably would have laughed at you. But we went through that kind of change.

I want to suggest for the history books here, and for the level of disruption that Mr. Carlisle and others were talking about, that we are going through 10 years of that kind of change. If we are going to beat climate change, which I am determined to do, and I think many of us in this House are—this government, certainly, is determined to—we are going to have to manage change at a faster pace of technology than we saw in the information technology revolution.

That was a $1-trillion expansion of the western economy. The shift to a low-carbon economy is a $6-trillion expansion of our economy. That is the other reason why we need this pool of capital. We need this pool of capital because industry will need that kind of capital. You may remember that BlackBerry, when it started off, got money from this government—seed capital money, our innovation funds—under just about every party in power. But this level of transformation—if you think about the heating and cooling systems in 150 heavy, large emitting sites, the amount of money that will have to go back into industry to deal with lime kilns, to deal with fuel switching, to deal with net-zero transformation: All of those industries—I think I’ve met multiple times now with representatives of each of those industries—have been working with us, and you’ll see it in the action plan, to design how the proceeds most efficiently go back into the lumber industry, the cement industry, the trucking industry, the steel industry—all of these industries.

The auto sector: huge reinvestment required. We’re very proud, as a government, that we made unprecedented investments in the automobile sector through the recession, which is one of the reasons we have an automobile sector that today is producing more cars than it ever has in Ontario.

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Now the challenge is, how do we start to retool to ensure that the innovation for low-carbon automobiles—hydrogen and electric vehicles—happens here in Ontario? How do we manage all the new infrastructure—electric charging and massive deployment of electric and low-carbon infrastructure, natural gas—across the province? It requires private and public capital. Everyone has been very clear: Without a publicly supported program, you will not see LNG expanding across the province; you will not see electric vehicle charging expanding across the province.

The other issue we have a point of disagreement on with the opposition is the linking of markets. The official opposition argues that we should not link with Quebec and California and eventually, we hope, New England as their cap-and-trade system evolves beyond electricity. If we did not do that, the carbon price would be astronomical; it would be several-fold what it is. If Ontario or Quebec had to do it, it would be a carbon price that would be five, six, seven times higher than it could be.

The thing about a cap-and-trade system is there’s a cap on it, and the big difference between jurisdictions that can reduce their emissions with a carbon price of $15, $20 or $25 very efficiently is because they put a cap on their emissions and they have something called the cap decline rate. Our cap decline rate is just over 4%. That means that we restrict the permits to pollute, that we guarantee we will meet our 2020 targets. And we’re not relying on the size of the price or a huge price on carbon; we’re doing it very efficiently, because it would be very hard to absorb a high carbon price.

What happened with the carbon tax in British Columbia when they introduced it was that they immediately lost a couple of their cement plants and are now importing cement at a very high price. Then, in 2012, the British Columbia Legislature, with its revenue-neutral carbon tax, froze its carbon price at about $30, after Premier Campbell had been raising it by $5 a year, and has been unwilling, in the six or seven years since, to actually raise that price. Today, British Columbia’s emissions are now going up, and they won’t meet their 2020 target significantly.

For them to correct that, because they don’t have the other mechanisms—they’re not a linked market, so they don’t have a large, buoyant market to keep prices down to provide exchanges; they don’t have a legislated cap and they don’t have a cap decline rate. In their system, they have to rely entirely on a bigger carbon price. And what has happened is that year after year there is a discussion, as their emissions go up—the whole reason for having carbon prices is to bring them down—and they fail to pass anything.

I think there is some history now that a cap-and-trade system that allows the market to set the price works well, and the price adjusts upward at a much lower level at lower cost. Without that, a price-only system requires you to rely heavily on price. The other problem that the revenue-neutral jurisdictions—there aren’t very many of them; I think you can count them on one hand. And there’s reason for that: They’ve really been a failed experiment, in some senses—successful in others. In the areas where they’ve been successful, it’s because from an economic purist’s perspective, it makes some sense. From a practical perspective, they also have no pool of capital. What they had to do with the cement industry in British Columbia is reach into general revenue and provide direct subsidies to cement.

We will not have to do that. That is built into a market mechanism. That’s why there are proceeds; that’s why we’ve had this great relationship with Mike McSweeney and the people at the cement association, who are designing this entire system with us in a way that the ways the price is applied, the allowances are distributed, and the capital proceeds flow provide for the maximum rate of reductions from our cement plants without having to reach into the general revenue of the government to subsidize them, which I think is critically important and worth a healthy debate with the official opposition, who disagree with this.

McKinsey’s reports on cap-and-trade on carbon define the task of improving carbon productivity. What do they mean by that? They mean that for every kilowatt hour of energy, for every kilogram of steel produced, you have to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted and carbon used in that process by a factor of 10 over 30 years. Essentially, we have to be down to something less than 10% of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted. I quote these people not because I’m trying to name-drop; I quote these people because I think these are very useful resources.

The work that McKinsey consulting has done on carbon productivity has been very, very instructive and has really helped inform the government’s position with the work that David Sawyer has done. To distill this down to its economic essence, to save ourselves from the disasters of climate change, we really have to improve our carbon productivity by a factor of 10 over the next three decades.

That’s why I believe in the power of markets. How are you going to do that? Government can’t legislate that. Consumers on their own aren’t going to know how to make those choices easily. People don’t relate the industrial process of their home heating or the vehicle they drive relative to a standard of productivity.

This bill enables this Legislature and, more importantly, enables the people of Ontario to have a tool kit to do three things. One is to switch to a lower-carbon vehicle. That’s probably the most important thing. Thirty-five percent of our emissions come from automobiles. We’ve got to tackle that, and that partnership is very important. I think you’re seeing that kind of leadership from GM and from others. We’ve got competition coming from everywhere in the world. China is rapidly building an electric vehicle industry, as is Germany. We can’t have those jurisdictions take away from Ontario by beating us in the innovation game and in the deployment of innovation.

The other one is home heating, about 20% of our emissions. Whether you’re talking about a farm or talking about a condo in downtown Toronto, we have to reduce the emissions there, which is really switching out the fossil fuel heating.

Those are the two areas that have been growing. All of our emissions growth has come from buildings and vehicles. Our emissions reductions have come from industry. Actually, the highest level of productivity has come when industry is doing better. As a matter of fact, we’re seeing higher productivity and lower carbon intensity more recently, as the economy is in a significant recovery, than we saw in the recession, where carbon intensity declined.

I think, in summing up, that it’s a robust market mechanism. It provides a large, stable pool with the carbon market, which will keep prices down and give businesses lots of choices. A carbon market is not a political instrument; it’s a market instrument. Politicians don’t make decisions. The pricing market, innovation and productivity drive what the carbon price is. It creates a vitally critical pool of capital to help Ontarians make that transition and relieve financial stress from families to do that. It incites higher productivity, or it works to help facilitate higher productivity with business, and I think that’s really important. I think this is a very, very good bill.

In closing, I want to thank the member from Toronto–Danforth for his work at the committee, his ideas, his collaboration and the seriousness with which he took this, and I want to thank members of the third party, the New Democratic Party, for their support in this. We’ve had a very good dialogue between our two parties on this, and I think it has led to a better bill.

I will now turn it over and, in doing so, thank my friend Arthur Potts, who provided such extraordinary leadership at the committee and is such an advocate for this. The member for Beaches–East York.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I recognize the member from Beaches–East York.

Mr. Arthur Potts: It is indeed an honour to be able to speak to the introduction of the third reading on this bill, Bill 172, the climate change mitigation act. I want to start by thanking the minister. The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change has shown such incredible leadership on this file: his breadth of knowledge, his passion for this issue. It strikes him—and I know, because we’ve had these conversations over a glass of wine late at night as we do briefings around this issue—at the heart, in an emotional, profound way, how important this issue is. He brings that passion to the debate.

When he gets heckled from members on the other side in the midst of this, you can see how disruptive that is, because they’re not taking the seriousness of this issue to the extent that is necessary to understand how critically important it is for us to get this piece right, moving forward over the next 20 or 30 years.

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I want to thank the minister for his passion and leadership. It’s that leadership I was speaking about yesterday in the House on our energy planning bill that is so critical. We are taking a direction which, 10 years ago, was politically unfeasible—that we could have gone down this route. It was so complicated, so difficult, for people to embrace in the general public because it’s so easy for members of the opposition to characterize this as a simple tax that’s going to hurt people’s lives. We’ve grown up in the last 20 years in an environment where any kind of raising money through the public purse in order to do good work for the public is perceived as being off-base and political suicide. So being in a position now that we can take on this file with a program that is guaranteed to have end results, that will play its role in reducing carbon and slowing down temperature increases in the world, is absolutely critical.

I know that in the minister’s previous portfolio, transportation, he viewed the opportunities in transportation and the revolution we could be doing in transportation, particularly around public transportation and the expansion of our electric networks, because in that probably rests the largest single climate change initiative we can do as a government: getting our public transit vehicles off diesel and on to electricity. The electrification of our regional express rail will be an incredibly significant part that we would play to reduce our carbon footprint in this world. It’s absolutely critical that we do so.

I know that the minister, when he was Minister of Transportation, embraced that as outside of the confines of a cap-and-trade program. I’m so delighted that our new minister is also participating and moving that file forward in a meaningful way. That’s an important part, through the leadership of Premier Wynne, as we coordinate these opportunities to do the right thing for Ontario now, and not just in this term of office but for the generations following us. That’s how I believe we are doing things differently and why I’m so proud to be a member of this caucus. I appreciate so very much the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change asking me to assist him in bringing forward this bill, shepherding it through second reading and the committee process and here now to third reading.

The bill was introduced—let me see now—on February 24. Prior to the introduction of this bill, I know that the member from Glengarry–Prescott–Russell, my seatmate, introduced a motion in this House. You could get a sense of the testing of the waters with that motion by where the members opposite stood and where our government stood through the course of the debate. He introduced a motion which made the point that climate change was one of the most important challenges facing our society. We saw, of course, very wise but unanimous support on this side of the House, and we saw third-party support for this bill. We were so disappointed to see how few members of the opposition were able to support that motion, which acknowledged that climate change was an issue that needed to be addressed and that we needed to move forward on a program of cap-and-trade to mitigate and reduce the warming up of the earth. We really would have hoped that, on an issue of this significance, this seriousness, for the future generations of our province—our children and our grandchildren—we could come forward with a concerted unanimous approach to deal with the issue, confront it head on, not unlike the kind of all-party support one would get as the federal government was moving against aggressors and terrorists or into war, where all parties would recognize how serious the issues were and would come together for the public good.

But we haven’t seen that. What we have seen is a direction from the members of the official opposition which completely does not support a cap-and-trade program and we weren’t even sure supported the necessity of any kind of carbon pricing, until the new leader was elected and suddenly there was some sort of revelation on the other side of the House that they would support some level of carbon pricing, albeit of the BC tax-and-dividend type of model. As we went through the committee process—after second debate, we went to the committee and I sat in all those committee hearings and I listened very much to all the people who came through and spoke to us about the bill.

One of the most important messages that came from all the delegates that came before us, all the people who had made submissions on behalf of their organizations, individuals and such, environmental groups, was the unanimity of support for the direction that we were taking. It was somewhat profound in that we could now see it: a very broad general consensus that we were on the right track, that linking what we were doing in carbon trade with the Western Climate Initiative—the WCI—with California and Quebec in order to get the right pricing, so that we could have a predictable level of reductions of CO2 emissions, was broadly agreed to be the right direction to take.

We saw it. I remember the members of the natural gas association were here—and let’s be very clear: If you can get natural gas and liquid natural gas, especially from renewable resources like methane that’s coming off of the anaerobic digestion of organic waste—getting natural gas as a displacement for coal as an energy source or diesel as an energy source is a big step forward. But I remember putting the question to the natural gas association: “You still are a carbon source.” As seductive and sexy as it is to want to get people onto gas, it doesn’t really fully go down that route of zero emissions that we need to get to. While it’s an improvement, it’s not a solution in the longer term. But it could be a stopgap measure in getting to the kind of carbon reductions that we need to see.

This point was hit home very clearly to me in meetings with rural mayors in the Bruce Peninsula area, who were speaking to me as a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, in my rural affairs component, about the importance of getting natural gas piped to all of rural Ontario. I remember one of the mayors saying to me, “You have to understand how expensive it is to heat the homes with electricity. I was sitting in a constituent’s kitchen, and the wind was blowing in under the doors and through the window cracks. To keep the heat up in order to warm the place, it was outrageously expensive.”

I looked at him and said, “Why don’t we spend the money on renovating the house instead? Why don’t we spend it on proper weather stripping, insulated doors, insulated windows, taking the old drywall off and putting in foam insulation, which will seal the house?” Because the money you spend at doing that, reducing the energy need and continuing to heat with electricity—especially electricity that’s on a 90% carbon-free basis—is far more cost-effective and far more important for the objectives we’re trying to reach in Ontario in reducing our emissions, than it is to put a pipeline in which will be pumping natural gas to those homes. Right?

So, we have to be thinking in those terms in order to make the reductions. If we were to get more communities off of natural gas and onto electricity that was affordable, we’d be way ahead of the game from a carbon emissions point of view.

My own house that I bought recently—I’ve talked about it in the House before. I took a house that was built in 1870, and when my partner and I bought it, we ripped all the walls, everything out of it, and built it brand new from the inside. We maintained the existing frame and brick exterior. It’s a beautiful, historically designated home, so we weren’t allowed to touch the outside. But we replaced all the windows with beautiful double-paned insulated windows, argon-infused, so it reduces even more the amount of heat that transfers into the home. We insulated it with spray foam, taped up all the holes—everything.

Recently I got a gas bill for my house for the month of February. It shows on your gas bill how much your bill was this February and how much it was last February. Well, I didn’t own the house last February—the previous owners were there—but it showed the difference. My gas bill this time was $85 for the month compared to $268 the previous month, a reduction of a factor of three, 30% of the energy used to heat the same house, because we had done the renovations and done them properly. That’s an example of how we can use the proceeds from the cap-and-trade program of pricing carbon and put them into dedicated, focused programs that will have a profound impact for the general population and get the kinds of greenhouse gas reductions needed in order to meet our zero-carbon objectives.

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In a way, in a tax-and-dividend structure—the notion being that you put a price on fuel, you put a price on gasoline and then you return all that money back to the consumer, which is the preferred method of the members of the official opposition—you actually achieve somewhat the same result without putting as high a price on carbon, as the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change was explaining, and with a much lower amount of increase because you can take that money and dedicate it back to programs where it can be strategically used for the most benefit.

As the minister was explaining why, under a fee-and-dividend program, the cost of fuel would have to be so much higher to get results, it speaks to, for those of us who did introductory economics, the whole supply-and-demand equation: that the elasticity of demand for fuel is very low, which means that a price reduction in fuel doesn’t necessarily lead to much of a reduction in consumption. It’s a fairly flat line. We’ve seen that so significantly already in the last year. With the collapse of oil pricing from $1.35 or $1.40 a litre in Toronto down to, at times, 92 or 93 cents a litre—even when the price was as high as it was, people were not curtailing their consumption of fuel. You weren’t getting significant greenhouse gas reductions by people not using their cars as often, even when the price of fuel was 40% higher than it currently is.

That speaks to precisely why, as the minister says, in order to receive meaningful reductions in carbon as a result of price impacts only, you have to price it so high as to be prohibitive for people to use, which has an even more devastating effect on the economy and on people’s mobility, etc. If we were able to use a modest increase in the price of gasoline—I think we were estimating, at this stage of the equation, something in the order of 4.3 cents a litre. In the last week, the price of gasoline in my neighbourhood has gone up at least 4.3 cents and probably more like 6 cents from about 98 cents last week. This morning I bought it at $1.05. That amount of increase, on the basis of this program, is easily absorbed into the economy in a way that allows us to take those proceeds and do a number of things, one of which is to encourage people to buy zero-emission vehicles, electric vehicles, and, second, to buy into an infrastructure program that will see charging stations all up and down major highways in the province so that people who buy an electric vehicle, a zero-emissions vehicle, will be able to take the vehicle on the road, stop for a cup of coffee for half an hour, get a booster charge and continue on their way, the limitation on many electric vehicles being distance.

For most people who are commuting to work, it’s a prescribed distance and a prescribed amount of time. You can plan, with the right battery sizing and the right vehicle, to make that 20-, 30- or 40-kilometre trip and then charge it at the other end. With the proceeds from cap-and-trade, we know that we’re able to do that.

Sitting through the committee hearings, I was pleased when we heard from people about how we could improve the bill. There were something in the order of 220 or 230 amendments that came on to the floor. Many of them, particularly motions that we received from the members of the third-party, were submitted to us well in advance, in communication with us and in consultation with us as members of the government so that we could work with them to find ways to assist them in the kinds of additional changes that they want to do in a way that wouldn’t change the fundamental principles of the bill.

Counter that, Speaker, with the kinds of response we got from the members of the official opposition. Not only did they not respond to the opportunities we had with our staff to ask them to come forward and speak with us about the amendments they wanted to see put forward, but their amendments tended to delete sections of the bill that would eradicate the central purpose of cap-and-trade, of the linking mechanisms, of the kind of work that we know is critical.

While we accepted something in the order of 60 amendments to the bill, I don’t think any of them came from the members of the official opposition because their approach was hostile to the general principles of the bill. They really didn’t want us to go down the cap-and-trade route. They preferred the fee-and-dividend, the BC model, which, as the minister explained, isn’t working.

Counter that, again, with members of the third party. They did have a number of very significant concerns about oversight, integrity, transparency and support for low-income households, support for First Nations communities as they find a transition. Although we couldn’t, in all cases, go as far as they wanted to, we did make a number of motions that supported the kinds of initiatives that were coming forward and incorporated those in the bill.

From our government’s perspective, we brought forward something in the order of 70 amendments, a goodly portion of which were technical in nature, because of the French language translations, to get some language consistent, which, in the course of the drafting, hadn’t been completely consistent with other acts that it was referring to—quite a responsible opportunity to clarify this, to make the bill more functional.

What we found in committee, again from the members of the official opposition, was a total reluctance to move the bill through committee in an expeditious manner. What we saw was a new level of filibustering, where we’d come to a vote on a very technical amendment—just to change a word in a motion—and the members would call for a 20-minute recess. To do what? To strategize how to vote on a technical change to the amendment, which is what that request is designed for, so you can huddle in your caucus, with your staff, with your expert advisers? No. It was a deliberate attempt to delay the bill as long as they could, not to get it through the committee so it could come back to the House for third reading with, I believe, a sense that if we can delay this long enough, maybe we can’t meet the deadlines that would be necessary for us to have our first market—

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Auction.

Mr. Arthur Potts: Auction; thank you—market auction for 2017.

It was a disruptive, pre-emptive process, which resulted—in order to recognize that there were timelines, in the normal course of committee hearings and clause-by-clause we would have been able to move through these 200 mostly technical amendments.

We had to then come back to the House and seek timeline closures on the committee process, again tying up this House’s time unnecessarily in order to resist this deliberate time-delaying filibuster. Part of that time delay wasn’t to essentially limit the debate. We still gave tremendous breadth of opportunity and the hours necessary to allow them to do it, but there would come a point in time we’d have to say enough is enough. And that time might have been at 11:30 on a Wednesday night if we hadn’t finally gotten through the bill.

Fortunately, to their credit, members of the official opposition stopped that level of filibustering as they went into hearings. I know that they love to work late, members of the opposition, as I was prepared to do, but we never had to do those evening sittings because we were able to get the bill through the committee process.

The kinds of changes we did bring into place—we were improving the accountability and transparency of the act. We had a submission from the Financial Accountability Officer. There was concern about his capacity to do a full analysis and oversight of the technical data associated with the kinds of plans and programs that the Minister of the Environment would be recommending to cabinet, that we should be investing the proceeds from the cap-and-trade program. There was a concern. He wanted to have all the background data on all the programs that people were reviewing. We recognize how essentially important it is to have the Financial Accountability Officer have the opportunity to make a full analysis on the decision-making of the government.

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So we crafted a motion, with the assistance of the Financial Accountability Officer, that would satisfy his key objective to have all the information he required for decisions that we took—not for all the decisions that we considered taking, because that’s way too wide a breadth, and all the different ideas that come forward get filtered down through our experts, both within the ministry, with the breadth and knowledge that the minister himself brings to the file, and then to his recommendations to the Treasury Board, which becomes in a sense an internal cabinet document.

There is a principle of cabinet confidentiality which we needed to preserve, because it’s important that we’re allowed to have free and open exchange amongst ourselves at the cabinet stage. But when it comes to the decision-making on the things that we’ve agreed that we need to do, that will then be subject to the oversight of the Financial Accountability Officer. We thought that was very important, and we accepted that motion and moved forward with it.

We also accepted a number of motions that would protect the personal information of people in the system. We were very clear in the drafting of some motions that only the information necessary to identify persons—in the bill, they would be protected at a freedom-of-information-and-privacy level of protection. Only the information critical to making assessments would be revealed and nothing more.

The minister talked at length about a number of scientists who have done great work in highlighting the difficulty and the dangers that we face going forward. In my little remaining time, I want to talk a little about Dr. James Lovelock.

Dr. James Lovelock has written some seminal books about how Mother Nature operates—the thesis of Gaia, he calls it—and two critical books, The Vanishing Face of Gaia and The Revenge of Gaia.

Mother Earth doesn’t really care who we are, is not in any way empathetic to the human species, and is quite happy to deal with us in a rough and rude manner to the point of our personal extinction. What he does explain in his book and in his thesis is the capacity of Gaia, of Mother Earth, to cushion the effects of climate change through mechanisms around organisms—the trees, the grass, the waters, ice—and give us fair warning of what will happen if we don’t heed those warnings.

There comes, however, a tipping point from which there is no return, when the collapse of systems becomes so profound that the very existence of this species, our species, is a threat. That’s why getting this bill right is the most important thing we’ll do in this session.

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

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: First things first: I want to encourage this government to stop their spinning. The member from Beaches–East York stood up and said, “Well, the members from the opposition were heckling,” and he was sharing many assertions. Well, Speaker, you sat through this leadoff in third debate, and did you call us to order? No, not at all. The spinning has to stop.

Perhaps the member from Beaches–East York might do the honourable thing and correct his record, because the manner in which this government is misleading Ontarians is staggering. If they go to the extent of spinning over such a trivial aspect, just imagine what this government is doing with regard to cap-and-trade—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Stop the clock. I would ask the member to withdraw.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Withdraw.

Speaker, I would go back to assert the fact that the manner in which this government is trying to confuse the Ontario public is unacceptable. If they’re going to that extent just over an imaginary aspect of third debate this morning, think about what they’re going to be doing for cap-and-trade.

I’ll quote the Financial Accountability Officer. He’s becoming increasingly alarmed with the manner in which this government is cloaking their cap-and-trade initiative with secrecy. Ontarians should be very alarmed, because this government is choosing to go down a path that has been proven in Europe to be fraught with fraud. The whole cap-and-trade initiative in Europe crashed.

When I was in Paris attending the amazing initiative celebrating how jurisdictions have come together to fight climate change, many jurisdictions, many countries are going, “Why is Ontario going with cap-and-trade? Don’t you know how it crashed and was full of fraud?” I just had to shrug my shoulders and say that we have a government that’s mismanaged for a decade, is short on cash, and they’re using the climate as an excuse to generate a slush fund.

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

Ms. Jennifer K. French: I’m pleased to make some comments on Bill 172, An Act respecting greenhouse gas, in response to both the minister and the member opposite.

Interjection.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: I know who you are and where you’re from.

The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change had made some thoughtful comments and sort of categorized people into three groups: the deniers, the ditherers and the defeatists. That’s how we started this morning. I was thinking about, perhaps, the opportunists as an additional column where we should maybe classify people.

I also wanted to talk about sitting here listening to the government talk about just how excited they are about the money coming in. I wish that they were so excited about bettering the environment. I wish that was the piece that I took away. I recognize, to the minister’s point, that environmental initiatives are going to cost money, but I would like to be clear on the assurances. I want more assurances that the money from this plan is actually going to make its way into environmental initiatives—as he said, to distill it down to the economic benefit, if we’re serious about climate change. I would say that we need to distill it down to the purpose. We’re supposed to be improving our environment and our situation. That should be the goal of this.

I’m sitting here having interesting conversations with myself about switching to a low-emission vehicle and all of that. When we think about our new vehicles that will be on the horizon and plugging them in to that electricity that’s going to cost so much more in the province of Ontario down the road, and watching all of this unfold, I don’t know if I’m hopeful. I am anxious, I think, on behalf of the people of Ontario.

Also, to the member from Beaches–East York, sitting around late at night with a glass of wine making important environmental decisions: I’d like to know, were you at the Premier’s table with a napkin? This is where our decisions are being made? That’s cause for concern.

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

Mr. Yvan Baker: I just want to take exception to the comment that was just made by the member from the NDP. I’ve sat here for 40 minutes and listened to the Minister of the Environment and the member for Beaches–East York talk about their passion for the environment. To suggest that this is about excitement about money, I think, is misrepresenting what’s happening here.

Speaker, a couple of months ago I held something called a youth advisory group meeting. It was the first event that I plan to hold regularly where youth come together and talk about the issues that are important to them. When I held this first meeting a couple of months ago, I heard about a range of issues. I heard about issues around youth unemployment, education and summer jobs, the kinds of things you would expect young people to raise. There were a number of other issues that were raised as well.

What was interesting was that the issue of climate change came up a lot. I think it came up a lot because the next generation is very concerned about this issue of climate change, this issue that our Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is showing tremendous passion and leadership on. When I think about what this bill is meant to do, this bill really is meant to put into reality the excitement of these two members and our Premier around addressing the issue of climate change. It does it in a very tangible and a responsible way.

There are two elements to the bill that I think the viewers at home should know about. There’s a long-term framework for climate action, so there are targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction over the course of a number of years that are very tangible and measurable. There’s an old expression: You measure what you treasure. I think that excitement around reducing emissions is baked into this bill by the fact that these targets are set.

The other piece is transparency and accountability around how the proceeds will be managed and used. As someone from a business background who sits on the Treasury Board, I’ll be watching that carefully to make sure we do the best we can in how we invest those funds.

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

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: It’s a pleasure, obviously, to be part of the debate on Bill 172. I’d be remiss not to say thank you on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus to our critic Lisa Thompson from Huron–Bruce for the great work that she has been doing in the environment portfolio and in particular on this piece of legislation.

I often say, as a Conservative, “Just because you’re blue doesn’t mean you can’t be green.” I think that our party has had an important legacy in Ontario as well as in Canada on fighting a number of different environmental barriers, particularly when I look at Brian Mulroney, who joined our caucus a couple of weeks ago to talk to us about his acid rain treaty. I think that was a historic agreement that he created and one that we’re very proud of as Progressive Conservatives.

I look at, for example, my seatmate—

Interjection.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: The member is hilarious over there, from Beaches–East York, talking about heckling. Of course, he takes the opportunity to heckle me at the same time that I’m trying to talk about the legacies of our party.

When I look, for example, at my own seatmate, Jim Wilson—the opposition House leader, somebody who was among the first to order the closure of coal-fired plants—and my former colleague Elizabeth Witmer, who sat in this House with me for quite some time, who was the health and environment minister at the same time who made that decision to carry that on, those are important things—and the blue box. These are all initiatives that have been important and have been responded to in challenging times by the Progressive Conservative party.

What I find disingenuous from time to time when I listen to the minister and I listen to his government is that they claim to be the only advocates for a safe and clean environment. That is not the truth. As the mother of a daughter in grade 5, she is a steward of the environment, just as I am as a member of provincial Parliament, and my colleague Lisa Thompson has been an effective advocate in that regard.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Back to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change for final comments.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I want to thank the members for Huron–Bruce, Oshawa, Etobicoke Centre and Nepean–Carleton for their comments. I’m glad the member talked about Brian Mulroney, who established the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, supported the Experimental Lakes and played a pivotal role in establishing the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development.

Sadly, it was Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in the last decade who closed the national round table, eviscerated those programs and stopped funding it. The only country in the world that pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol and walked away from it was the government of Canada. For the last 10 years, the only government in the world that refused to allow the words “climate change” to be discussed at federal-provincial tables—not even act on; not even use the word—was the Conservative party, of which the leader opposite was a member. If you want to compare Brian Mulroney to Stephen Harper, you’ve got the two polar opposite ends. It will be interesting to see. It’s too bad that Mr. Brown, the member opposite, the leader of the official opposition, seems to come from the latter and not the former.

On the issue, the member from the New Democrats—I actually think this is an existential crisis of incredible proportions. You’re a teacher and you know. You look at children every day and I’m sure you do what I do, which is: What kind of planet are we leaving our kids? Can we have an Ontario with a 5- or 6- or 7-degree warmer boreal forest? I don’t think we can. I am up in the middle of the night thinking, “How the heck do you manage preventing the boreal forest from becoming a carbon source from being a carbon sink?” It’s very complicated.

Just look at Dr. Murray’s work—no relation—from Peterborough, from Trent University, or Dr. Keith Griffith’s, to understand. If you want to understand climate change in a microcosm, understand it in that. The challenge is that hugging a tree doesn’t help. Changing the way industry and cars and homes emit: That’s why we have to focus on the economy, because it is the changes in the economy that save our environment.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I’d like to thank all members for listening intently and for active debate this morning.

Third reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): It is now 10:15. This House stands recessed until 10:30.

The House recessed from 1014 to 1030.

Introduction of Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): As you know, we have a tribute today, so we’ll get through our introductions.

Mr. Michael Harris: I want to welcome Dennis Yanke from Kitchener–Waterloo today, a member of Advocis. Welcome, Dennis, to the Legislature.

Mr. Michael Mantha: I’d like to introduce my friend Eric Barton, from Advocis. Hopefully we can get that golf game in this year.

Hon. Reza Moridi: It’s a great pleasure for me to welcome the parents of the page captain today, Alfred Shi: his mother Jeanne Ye and his father Lionel Shi. Welcome to the Legislature.

Mr. Patrick Brown: Today, we are honoured to have with us veterans of the Battle of the Atlantic. Canada lost thousands of courageous officers, sailors and personnel of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Merchant Navy. Today, we have with us Battle of the Atlantic veterans Gordon Casey, Fraser McKee and Joe Duffy.

Miss Monique Taylor: I’m pleased to welcome Andrew Johnson and Lorraine Graham, who are here from Advocis today. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Jeff Leal: I’m very pleased to welcome today, in the member’s west gallery, Mr. Hickson and Ms. Gratton—they’re here with Advocis—from the great riding of Peterborough. I will be meeting with them later this afternoon.

Mr. Victor Fedeli: I want to welcome, also from Advocis, Gord Rymal from the city of North Bay.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I’d like to welcome four financial advisers from London West who are here today with Advocis: Chris James, Sara La Gamba, Jamie Asmussen and Brad Unraw.

Mr. Bill Mauro: Also here today from Advocis, in the member’s east gallery, from my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan, is Mr. Mike Skube. Mike, welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Ted Arnott: I too wish to welcome Andrew Johnson, who is here from Advocis. I look forward to meeting with him later on this afternoon.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Two members of the Financial Advisors Association of Canada are here from Windsor–Tecumseh this morning: Aaron Keogh and Michellyne Mancini. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I want to welcome all our friends from Advocis here today, particularly the president and CEO, Greg Pollock; chair of the board of directors, Caron Czorny; chair of the government relations committee and a good friend of mine, Kris Birchard; and chair of the provincial advocacy committee, Linda Gratton. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Lorne Coe: Here from Advocis, Durham region: Ron Fennell and Louisa Majoros. Welcome to Queen’s Parl.

Mme France Gélinas: I have some visitors from Nickel Belt. They’re here for financial planning. It’s Allain Labelle, as well as Charlene Faiella.

While I’m up, Speaker, there are also representatives from the Alzheimer Society: their executive director, David Harvey; Lauren Rettinger and Gagan Gill. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: I’m pleased to introduce a number of Advocis members from Ottawa. I was pleased to meet with them this morning: Jacques Duplain, Kirk Wrinn, John Saikaley, Angela Houle, David McGruer and Rob Stewart.

Mr. Norm Miller: I’d like to welcome, from Advocis, Dan Willett, Gary Laakso and James Maclean from the Simcoe-Muskoka branch of Advocis.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: I’d like to welcome all the youth and their chaperones who are in the public gallery today. I believe we’re going to have over 150 of them here to celebrate Youth Civics Day.

I’d also like to welcome Avanthi Goddard, president of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.

I’ll be meeting them all at a reception in a committee room after question period.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I’d like to welcome Dawn Kennedy from South Bruce. She’s here with Advocis today.

Hon. Michael Chan: I would like to welcome our two interns, Aamer and Farnaz. I look forward to working with them.

Mr. Randy Hillier: I would like to welcome everyone from Advocis here today, including Sean Lawrence from Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington.

Mr. Granville Anderson: I would like to welcome Chris Hudson, Dwight Hickson and Brent Holmes from Advocis who are here today from Durham. Welcome.

I would also like to welcome Marg Cartwright and Jackie Forsey who are here from Clarington with the MEAO. Welcome.

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I had the pleasure this morning to meet with David Wilton and David Coad, who are here with Advocis at Queen’s Park today.

Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde: On behalf of my colleague the great member from Kingston, I would like to welcome to the Legislature from the Advocis Kingston chapter, the president, Will Britton; past president Ed Bettencourt; membership chair, Greg Gies; professional development chair, Jim Jodoin; Rita Dillon; and Gordon French. Welcome.

Mr. Jim McDonell: I would like to welcome some members from Advocis who met with me this morning: Kirk Wrinn, Rob Stewart, David McGruer, Ali Pahlavani and Kevin O’Connor. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Liz Sandals: Lauren Tedesco, my director of communications—who I think ended up upstairs somewhere, maybe—has got some family members here today: her mom, Glenda Tedesco; her grandma Audrey Mair; and her aunt Debbie Mair. Welcome.

Mrs. Cristina Martins: It gives me great pleasure to welcome a good friend of mine here today: Michael Camacho from Advocis, who is in the public gallery. Welcome, Michael.

Ms. Ann Hoggarth: From my riding of Barrie, I wish to welcome Dan Willett and James Maclean of Advocis to the Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Todd Smith: I would like to welcome all of the financial advisors, especially Philip Wild and Shannon Neely from Quinte Advocis.

Mr. Arthur Potts: I want to introduce my good friend Moyra Haney, who is a member of the Naval Club, which is in my riding of Beaches–East York, and Joe Duffy, who is a constituent. They’re here for the Battle of the Atlantic tribute.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I am happy to welcome MEAO here, and I’m even going to pronounce it: the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario.

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: I too would like to welcome Mr. Phil Wild, a financial planner from the great riding of Northumberland–Quinte West. Welcome.

Mr. Joe Dickson: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I want to do further introductions. The member from Nepean–Carleton.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: It’s my colleague Michael Harris’s birthday, and I would like to wish him a happy birthday on behalf of all members of this assembly.

Wearing of ribbons

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Ajax–Pickering on a point of order.

Mr. Joe Dickson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I believe that you will find we have unanimous consent that all members be permitted to wear ribbons in recognition of the work done by the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Ajax–Pickering is seeking unanimous consent to wear the ribbons. Do we agree? Agreed.

Battle of the Atlantic

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Leader of the Opposition on a point of order.

Mr. Patrick Brown: I believe you will find that we have unanimous consent to have a moment of silence in honour of those we lost during the Battle of the Atlantic, Canada’s largest military engagement during the Second World War.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition is seeking a moment’s silence. Do we agree?

I would ask all members of the House to please rise for a moment of silence to pay tribute.

The House observed a moment’s silence.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Pray be seated.

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Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Would the members please join me in welcoming the family of the late Leo Jordan, MPP for Lanark–Renfrew during the 35th and 36th Parliaments, who are seated in the Speaker’s gallery: his daughters Valerie Wilson, Anne Marie Simard and her husband, Guy, and Helen McGuire and her husband, Mike; his son, John Jordan, and his wife, Brenda-Leah; and his grandchildren Christopher, Stephen, Shamus, Maryanne, Jordan, David, Justen, Amanda and Emily. We welcome them to the House.

Also in the Speaker’s gallery is Mr. Steve Gilchrist, MPP for Scarborough East during the 36th and 37th Parliaments, and Mr. Norm Sterling, MPP for the Carleton ridings from the 31st to the 39th—there are too many numbers in there for Parliaments. Thank you very much.

Leo Jordan

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Government House leader on a point of order.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Good morning, Speaker. Thank you. I believe you will find that we have unanimous consent to pay tribute to Leo Jordan, former member for Lanark–Renfrew, with a representative from each caucus speaking for up to five minutes.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The government House leader is seeking consent to pay tribute. Do we agree? Agreed.

The member from Kitchener–Waterloo.

Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s an honour to speak about Leo Jordan today.

If you were to sum up the thousands of life lessons that are accumulated over the average lifetime, be they negative or positive, they basically fall into two categories. First, there are the how-tos, the things that we’re encouraged to emulate or adapt to our own journey. These are the ideal takeaways from our interactions with family, friends, colleagues and even, in many cases, complete strangers.

The other category is a bit more complicated. These are the lessons that are borne of our challenges and our hardships, and I’ll call them the “how to do betters.” It is these types of lessons—the often painful kind—that usually have the greatest impact. Arguably, it’s when we have to pick ourselves up that we are most inspired to reach beyond ourselves to ensure that our lives are not defined by our difficulties, but by the ability to overcome them.

In many cases, our lives are enriched by a special set of people, those who take hardship and difficulty and craft them into exemplary lives for all of the right reasons. These are the type of people whose conduct is not only worthy of our admiration, but who provide us with something to aspire to.

I never had the privilege of meeting Leo Jordan, but in our research for today, it’s clear that he was the type of person who did his best to make the best of his hardships and then use them and those lessons to benefit those around him.

In both his political and personal life, Leo understood that it was essential to be someone that people could count on, an experience that was shaped early in childhood by the untimely death of his father. The tragedy pulled his family closer together and had an indelible impact on young Leo. Whether it was his long career at Ontario Hydro, his time in both municipal and provincial office or at home with his family, it was clear that he gave his all to those he was dedicated to.

Leo took great pride in his ability to get things done for the good people of Lanark–Renfrew, regardless of who was in power. Although he was one of the few new PC MPPs elected in the NDP sweep of 1990, his riding received record investment, despite the Tories’ third-party status. In the wake of the 1998 ice storm, he made it his mission to ensure that those affected received the funding they were entitled to in order to help the community and region get back on its feet.

Not surprisingly, Leo’s provincial career was arguably at its best at a time that the PC Party fought to free itself from third-party status. Drawing on the lessons learned during the adversity of his childhood, Leo and his colleagues rallied around one another as they worked to achieve their goal of government.

While Leo wasn’t a household name, his hard work, positive attitude and integrity were the foundational elements of success. After his death, Senator Bob Runciman, one of Leo’s former caucus colleagues and a close friend, spoke fondly of their time together and the bonds formed during these challenging times.

Depending on your perspective, the Harris years were either the best of times or the worst of times, but I’m sure that even Mike Harris himself would agree that things would have been done differently if he knew in advance that the riding redistribution would cost him one of his most effective MPPs. In the wake of boundary changes, Leo lost his seat in a faceoff with Liberal stalwart Sean Conway in the new riding of Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

But Leo’s defeat did not mark the end of a career; it ushered in a new era of a regional elder statesman for the PC Party. Leo transitioned from being an effective MPP to being a mentor and resource for a new generation of PC MPPs from eastern Ontario, giving freely of his time and experience in order to ensure that his community maintained a strong presence at Queen’s Park.

In life, Leo Jordan worked diligently to make a difference in eastern Ontario, and in death, it was no different, as people paid tribute to his contributions by giving to the Tri-County Dental Coalition, an agency dedicated to ensuring access to dental services for the people of Leeds, Grenville and Lanark, regardless of age or income.

When the news of Leo’s passing first emerged, the tributes from his PC colleagues were expected but no less impactful. But praise came from the other side of the aisle as well, with former Premier and MP Bob Rae eulogizing his former political adversary as a “fine man and a great MPP.”

Today, we’re privileged to have Leo’s children and grandchildren here for this special occasion. While your father’s name and grandfather’s name is the one in the history books, it’s an honour you share because you were clearly the inspiration for the work that he did. From what I read, Leo struck me as the type of person who would downplay any accolades. Instead, it’s more likely that the tribute that would bring him the greatest joy is the pride that you take in the contributions he made to his community and his province. Thank you for being here today.

On behalf of Ontario’s NDP, we salute the life and work of Leo Jordan. Thank you for sharing Leo with us.

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

Mr. John Fraser: It’s an honour to say a few words on behalf of the Liberal caucus about Leo Jordan, the former MPP from Lanark–Renfrew.

Born in 1929 in Almonte, he grew up on a farm and had a farm himself. He was educated at local schools and at Carleton. He worked for Ontario Hydro for 39 years. He was involved with the Victorian Order of Nurses, the Smith Falls property standards association, parent-teacher associations—and that was all before he became an elected member here in this Legislature. He was also the reeve of Montague township.

First elected in September 1990, he served as the critic for energy, mines and natural resources and on several standing committees. In 1995 he won the general election, and in 1997 he was appointed as PA to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism.

As I said before, prior to that he worked for 39 years at Ontario Hydro. It’s not what we do here as much as what we bring here. What we bring as members is our experience and, most importantly, our community. His experience at Hydro—I dug up a news release from about 12 years ago which says, “Leo Jordan stated that Ontario Hydro’s recently announced profit of $665 million for the first six months of 1994 still fails to address the utility’s massive debt problem.” That was a bit prescient. It took a bit more than a decade to fix that. That’s what he brought there. What he brought from Hydro, too, was his experience in customer service and serving people and understanding what the needs of people are.

He ran in 1999, with redistribution—and as the member from Kitchener said, I think if Mike Harris had had a second thought he might have changed that redistribution, because he had a great member. He ran against one of our members, Sean Conway, and was not successful.

Here is a real mark to how he was viewed in this Legislature. These are comments from Sean Conway: “I was very saddened to hear of Leo’s passing recently. Leo and I served together in the Legislature for the same area of rural eastern Ontario during the 1990s and I got to know him well. He had a great sense of humour and could always find the fun in just about any situation....

“But most of all, Leo and his wonderful wife Thecla loved being with people. Whether it was a parade, a picnic, or just walking down the Main Street of Smiths Falls, Lanark village or Arnprior, they made themselves at home and were open and friendly with everyone they met. In fact, one of my most vivid memories of Leo will always be of his standing in line at the annual church supper at Mount St. Patrick, the historic capital of the Irish in the Ottawa Valley.

“I can see him clearly in my mind’s eye, standing there with a broad smile on his face and knowing that he was about to get a great meal and take one step closer to heaven! A good man who served his community well in so many different capacities. We thank him and his marvellous family for his and their service.”

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As I said, Mr. Speaker, it’s what we bring here. The two things we can do are to bring our community to Queen’s Park and be the representative of the people and speak on things like ensuring that people get the compensation they deserved through the ice storm, or if they have a problem, that that problem gets fixed. It’s also what we do in our communities: be accessible and welcoming to all those people we represent, whether we agree with them or not.

I think that all of us, when we consider tributes—and especially a tribute like today’s to Leo—need to consider and think about what they’re going to say about us. I know for myself, I feel that if people say about me what we’re going to hear today about Leo, I’ll feel that I’ve been a success.

I want to thank his family for being here today. He’s left a legacy here and in his community, and you’re his legacy as well. It’s an honour to say a few words.

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

Mr. Ted Arnott: Leo Jordan left a legacy of faith, family, dignity and servant leadership when he departed this life on February 15 last year. For those of us who were privileged to know him, work with him, call him a friend and, indeed, love him, there are many special memories.

One of his close friends who was also a professional colleague remembered Leo this way: “He had a strong and persistent sense of his responsibility as an elected member, always aware of the fact that his role was to serve his constituents, and he selflessly put their needs first. He acted not just for those who voted for him but for all the people of Lanark–Renfrew.

“He had a rock-solid work ethic, making sure that every effort was made to see projects through for the people of Lanark–Renfrew. He was unrelenting on their behalf. He never gave up.

“He was a true leader, which was reflected in the method and manner of his service as a member of provincial Parliament. At Queen’s Park, he developed a keen ability to navigate the system in order that he could work with people who were willing to make a positive difference. He could humbly win their support for his constituents’ needs, regardless of what party they belonged to or what positions they held.”

I can attest to that, Mr. Speaker. One time when we were in government, Leo was pushing and pushing and pushing for a satellite dialysis service for the Renfrew hospital. He was absolutely relentless. I heard all about it, not only from him, but I also heard the other side of the story from the health minister who was the subject of his incessant lobbying—and remember, we were in government. He’d come up to me and say, “We’ve done all the homework. We’ve made our case. Why won’t she just approve it? Why is she being so stubborn?”

The next day, the Minister of Health would come up to me and say, “Leo won’t listen. We have to make these decisions as part of an overall coordinated provincial plan. We can’t do one-offs for Leo. Why is he being so stubborn?” Eventually, of course, Leo got his way and the dialysis service was approved. And yes, the Minister of Health got her way as well, announcing it was going to be part of a coordinated plan to bring dialysis services closer to home.

Another time, in the early 1990s, when the New Democrats were in office and we were called the third party in this House, we were complaining in question period that government funding for all manner of projects was going disproportionately to NDP-held ridings—imagine that—with the opposition-held ridings, our ridings, getting peanuts.

Premier Bob Rae responded to our questions in the House. “That allegation is poppycock,” he said. “We’re not favouring our ridings ahead of the other ridings. In fact, there is no riding in the province that’s receiving more attention and government funding than the riding of Lanark–Renfrew, which of course is Progressive Conservative.” Leo immediately leapt to his feet and shouted, “Point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Premier has just made a statement and I need to respond. The Premier is absolutely right.” Then he sat down. Confrontation if need be, then compromise and collaboration: That’s how Leo got things done.

In preparation for today, I shared memories of Leo with the member for Leeds–Grenville, who wanted to be here, but was very sorry he couldn’t due to a constituency commitment. Steve Clark told me that Leo had attended his nomination meeting in 2010, unannounced and without fanfare, as was Leo’s way. Steve had just begun his speech, and he made eye contact with the people in the crowded hall that night in Brockville and saw Leo near the front. Leo smiled and nodded, and it gave Steve an overwhelming boost that someone he respected and admired so much was there for him, and the realization that no matter what the outcome, all would turn out well.

I also remembered Leo recently with my good friend Gary Carr, who was the former MPP for Oakville South and, as you know, Mr. Speaker, sat in that chair, and is now the regional chair of Halton. Because the three of us were first elected as part of the class of 1990—Leo, Gary and I—we were seatmates together for years. The three amigos, maybe—three stooges to some, perhaps, on the other side of the House; I don’t know. But Gary remembered Leo as a real gentleman. He said that Leo was one of a kind. “They broke the mould after Leo Jordan,” he added.

I suggested that Leo always seemed to me to be more a parliamentarian than a politician, such was his deep and profound respect for our democratic institutions and the democratic values that give them life. He understood the roles of the sovereign, the Lieutenant Governor, the Premier, the cabinet, the Legislature, the judiciary, the public service, and our agencies, boards and commissions, and how these institutions, taken together, are charged with the responsibility of providing good government for the people.

Prior to his election to the Legislature, Leo had a distinguished 39-year career at Ontario Hydro, as was mentioned already. No MPP in the modern era has had a better or more complete understanding of how our electricity system works and how it should work. He loved to talk about it and to explain how important Sir Adam Beck’s principle of power at cost and of safe, reliable and affordable power had been to the history of Ontario—to our development, our economy and our industry. He was extremely knowledgeable as critic to the Minister of Energy, and he never needed a briefing. He knew more about hydro than the rest of us put together.

In government from 1995 to 1999, he served with the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, with special leadership responsibilities for tourism. There, he led the implementation of tourism-oriented directional signs, or TOD signs, as they were called. We see these signs on our highways today, helping tourists find their destination. He also successfully fought to give tourism operators better access to the credit they need.

But his constituents always came first. Big accomplishments like the dialysis service in Renfrew, which I mentioned earlier; bringing four lanes to Arnprior; Highway 416; Highway 417; and his work to keep the Perth hospital from closing by proposing consolidation of administration: All went alongside the day-to-day advice and assistance that he loved to offer his people.

Thus far in my remarks, I’ve spoken about Leo Jordan’s public life, but as is the case for all of us, there is much more to Leo than his public persona. He wasn’t just a great MPP; he was also a great man—good, decent, caring and honest. I was reminded recently of something I had observed years ago but had forgotten, I have to say. Leo always made an effort to be in the chamber every day when the proceedings started so as to be present for the beautiful opening prayer that we used to recite daily—that we recited today, Mr. Speaker—followed by the Lord’s prayer. He saw it as a time for quiet reflection and a daily ritual of faith that set the tone for the remainder of the day.

While Leo was a modest and self-effacing man, he never sought to draw attention to himself. However, his family—wife Thecla; their daughters Anne Marie, Leona, Helen and Valerie, son John and their spouses; and their grandchildren—were a source of immense pride. We welcome the Jordan family here today. I don’t have to tell you how much he loved you all, but I can tell you that he never stopped talking about your accomplishments, the outstanding people you had grown to become, and how blessed he felt to have such a wonderful family.

Until her untimely passing, Thecla was always at Leo’s side, whether at community events in the riding, making many weekly trips to Toronto by train, or managing the household at their magnificent Kellordan Farms on Kelly-Jordan Road in Montague township near Smiths Falls. There they hosted annual summer barbecues that would attract close to 1,000 people.

Leo and Thecla were as devoted to each other as any married couple you would ever meet, with a relationship built on faith, love, mutual respect, their children’s upbringing and helping with their grandchildren.

Leo was very proud of one other thing that I should mention here today. He was very proud to be a son of rural Ontario and the Ottawa Valley. In our farms and countryside and in our small villages and towns, he saw the values of family and church. He saw the values of hard work and self-reliance, balanced with leisure and community. In short, he saw the values that built Ontario and made us the leader of the country.

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We often talked about this and how privileged we both felt to serve and lead in our respective communities. We all know there are good days and bad days in this place. I remember one time, when I was feeling quite discouraged, I confided in Leo and told him I was feeling down and was questioning why I was even here and whether my efforts were making a difference. Leo’s reply was as firm as it was principled and wise. “Never forget this,” he said. “You’re not here because you wanted to be here. You’re here because the people of your riding sent you here.”

The same could be said to all of us. Let us never forget that. And let us always remember Leo Jordan.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank all members for their very thoughtful and heartfelt comments. The tribute to Leo Jordan is well received.

I would like to tell the family that you will be receiving a hard copy of Hansard and a DVD as part of your keepsake for our affection for Leo. We thank you for the gift of Leo.

Oral Questions

Nurses

Mr. Patrick Brown: My question is for the Premier. But first, I want to thank the over 150,000 nurses in Ontario as they celebrate Nursing Week 2016. I believe that all registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses and nursing students deserve our praise each and every day. I will stand with the nursing profession as they have faced unprecedented cuts by this government.

Everywhere I travel in the province, I hear about nursing cuts: In Timmins, dozens of jobs cut; at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, 15 RNs just cut; at Runnymede health centre in Toronto, half the RNs have been cut. This is just a small fraction of the 1,400 nurses fired in the last year.

I’m not interested in a history lesson of what the government did 15 years ago or 50 years ago. My question is, why have you fired 1,400 nurses in the last year?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. There’s an indication that things are going to ramp up, and I will bring it down.

Premier.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Well, I certainly understand why the Leader of the Opposition wouldn’t want to talk about the past. He wouldn’t want to talk about the record of that party when they were in office, nor would he want to talk about the nine years that he spent in the Stephen Harper government when the health accord was cut. I understand why he doesn’t want to talk about that, so let’s talk about the facts. Let’s talk about the fact that since 2003, more than 26,000 nurses, including 11,000 registered nurses, have begun work in Ontario. Let’s talk about the fact that, year over year, we have increased health care funding, including $1 billion this year, of which $345 million is for hospitals.

There is a consistent trend line. In 2015, the number of nurses employed in nursing in Ontario increased for the 11th consecutive year. Those are the facts.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Patrick Brown: Back to the Premier: Last week, at a town hall meeting in Sault Ste. Marie, residents and front-line workers shared with the Sault Star the horror stories of the Liberal cuts. Glenda Hubley, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 46, apologized on behalf of all front-line employees. Despite the fact that they “do their best amid extreme pressures under which they work,” sometimes they can’t do it alone. But this government is forcing them to do it alone. Our front-line workers deserve better. Our patients deserve better.

Again to the Premier: Why did you let go 1,400 nurses last year?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Well, I know that the people of Sault Ste. Marie are very happy with their new hospital and all the services that it’s providing. I know they’re happy with their nurse-practitioner-led clinic and the family health teams as well that are providing excellent care due to the excellent work of those front-line health care workers. But it is simply not true that we’re cutting the number of nurses in any sector, because when you look at just the hospital sector alone between 2011 and 2015, the net increase—because I know that both opposition parties like to talk about the gross, just the layoffs and not the new hires. But when you look at the net change between 2011 to 2015 just on nurses in our hospital sector, it increased by 7,625 positions, the majority of them RNs.

Interjections.

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

Final supplementary, please.

Mr. Patrick Brown: Again to the Premier: Sometimes I wonder what fantasy world this government lives in. You’ve got the Minister of Finance saying hydro rates are going down and you have the Minister of Health saying he isn’t cutting nurses despite the fact that 1,400 were fired last year, 1,400 that we desperately needed.

Let me point out another example, in Simcoe county. At Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, 16 beds were just cut; 35 people fired. The numbers don’t lie. The hospital cuts we’re seeing in every hospital in Ontario do not lie.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Simcoe county deserve better. The residents of Rama First Nation served by Soldiers’ Memorial deserve better. Will the Liberals reverse the cuts at Soldiers’ Memorial? Will they do the right thing and support our nurses?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: In fact, the changes that have been made at Orillia soldiers’ hospital were the result of a recommendation coming from the LHIN but also from a provincial rehabilitation association that looks at complex continuing care. It looks at how they can actually bring those services and those supports closer to people in their communities. One aspect of the decision at soldiers’ hospital was a result of the provincial Rehabilitative Care Alliance and the LHIN and the hospital itself, realizing that they could shift support closer to the communities where that complex continuing care is made. That’s what’s happening. It’s actually an improvement in the services that Ontarians can expect.

It’s unfortunate that, unlike almost all of his colleagues in the PC Party—I wish the leader of the official opposition would actually come to me if he has concerns about hospitals across the province.

Autism treatment

Mr. Patrick Brown: My question is for the Premier. Since I can’t get an answer on the 1,400 nursing cuts, I’ll try something else. I want to read to you a subheadline from an editorial—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Come to order. Please.

Mr. Patrick Brown: Mr. Speaker, I want to read from an editorial in the Toronto Star this past weekend. It read, “The government wants to reduce wait-list times for intensive treatment for autism. Unfortunately, it is doing so by simply cutting kids on the wait-list who are over five. That’s not fair.”

This government’s idea of helping children with autism is taking them off of one wait-list and putting them on another. It’s not too late for this government to reverse course and do the right thing. Will the Premier listen to the fine folks of the Toronto Star on their recommendation and fund autism for families for families that need it? Fund IBI.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: They are fine folks at the Toronto Star, as are all our media gallery. But I will say that on this, it’s very important that we understand exactly what is happening, and that is that there are children who have been sitting on a waiting list not getting service. The status quo is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to us, on this side of the House, that children who need therapy in a window of time, as they develop, not get that therapy.

So Mr. Speaker, we are investing in the system so that those children will get the service that they need. We are working with the families, the service providers are working with the families, and the education system is working with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, because we know that helping those children through the transition, making sure they get the intensive service when they need it and that they are then able to be socialized in school—that is what children need, Mr. Speaker. It’s up to us to make sure we get them off a waiting list and into that transition.

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The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Patrick Brown: Back to the Premier: If the Premier is not going to listen to the editorial of the Toronto Star, maybe the Premier will listen to Michael Barrett, president of Ontario Public School Boards’ Association. He said, “It’s never too late to correct a mistake.” Cutting IBI treatment for children over five is a mistake. It is a mistake to take the chance for IBI treatment away from a five-year-old like Keith in Toronto. His mom called these changes “devastating” to her child’s future, and she said these devastating cuts to Keith’s treatments are “heartbreaking.”

Mr. Speaker, why is this Premier, why is this government, taking away IBI from children who desperately need it?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: As I just said, what we are doing is we are working to ensure that 16,000 more children get service, that the service that the children get is tailored to their needs, that they move off the waiting list, that they have the opportunity to immediately start to buy services and that they make a transition into new service that is tailored to their needs based on a clinical assessment. That is of much more benefit to a child than sitting on a waiting list.

Quite frankly, I don’t understand why either of the opposition parties would want to see children languish on a waiting list, getting no service, when they know perfectly well that kids need service early and they need it continuously.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: You were the minister who was going to put IBI in schools, weren’t you? What happened to that?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Leader of the third party, come to order, please.

Final supplementary.

Mr. Patrick Brown: Back to the Premier: I will go back to this Toronto Star editorial that I mentioned earlier. To quote the Toronto Star, “To suddenly strip children and families of the hope to which they have clung, sometimes for years, is too cruel a way to save money or find efficiencies.”

“Too cruel:” Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what this move by the government is. The Toronto Star is right when they say it is cruel. Thousands of families waited for years and then, with a stroke of a pen, this government ripped away any ounce of hope that these families had.

Will the Premier put herself in the shoes of these families that you have kicked off the list? Will you give them the hope they need, the hope they deserve? Will the Premier do the right thing? It’s not too late. Will you fund IBI for kids over five? Autism doesn’t end at five.

Interjections.

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

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Children and Youth Services.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: One thing we can agree on here, I think, is that we do want to give hope to those children. We want to give hope to families. It’s important to note that we are not taking kids away from service who are on that wait-list. We are putting them into service, Speaker, and our service providers will work very closely with those families.

In terms of education, the Minister of Education and I and our staffs are working together. I read the Michael Barrett article. I know him personally, and I know the Minister of Education does. We’re reaching out to him to make sure he has all the facts and the information about how we’re going to continue to give hope to these kids, how we are not going to accept that there are wait-lists for potentially up to five years by 2018. I think nobody wants to see that.

It’s very important that we work with our education partners, because many of these kids are school-aged or will be becoming school-aged very shortly. We want to support them through that transition.

Nurses

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Premier. When families are at their most vulnerable, they count on a nurse to be there, but for the last 16 months nurses have been fired at a rate of 90 a month. That’s three per day. That is unacceptable.

Will this Premier make a clear commitment that no more registered nurses will get a pink slip, no more registered practical nurses will get a pink slip and no more nurse practitioners in this province will get a pink slip?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I refer to the answer I have already given and will repeat that: We have, year over year, increased the number of nurses—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Prince Edward–Hastings, come to order.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: —in the system. We have increased the amount of money that goes into health care. The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care has made it clear that between 2011 and 2015, over 7,000 nurses were hired and placed in this province.

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that if you look at the changes that are being made in the system, it’s true: There are services that are moving out of hospitals and into the community or in some cases moving closer to communities, and that means changes. That means changes in personnel; it means changes in location. But it doesn’t mean fewer health care providers. In fact, it means more health care providers as we increase service across the province.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: On Friday, the Premier was touring an Ottawa hospital, but on the other side of the city, in another Ottawa hospital, nurses were given notice of more layoffs. Queensway Carleton Hospital told staff that five full-time and one part-time nurse from the childbirth program would be laid off, and a full-time team leader in surgery would also be eliminated.

Fewer nurses means less care and longer wait times for the people of Ottawa. Make no mistake: This Premier is directly responsible. Cutting nurses is the wrong thing to do. Patients know it, families know it, New Democrats know it and nurses know it.

On Nursing Week, how can this Premier defend another round of Liberal cuts to front-line nurses in Ottawa?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, I wish we could at least agree on one thing: that we choose an independent source for the statistics that we provide in this Legislature, that we don’t talk about gross numbers or layoffs without talking about the new positions added. I would hope that we could agree—and it’s transparent for all Ontarians to see—that the College of Nurses of Ontario publishes on an annual basis the statistics for nurses in this province.

Ms. Catherine Fife: Those nurses don’t have jobs.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Well, if you don’t want to believe the College of Nurses of Ontario, that’s your choice.

But they’ve indicated in the last year alone almost 3,000 new nursing positions in this province—net new. They have published in the last five years almost 8,000 net new positions in our hospitals, the majority of them RNs.

I would choose to believe the college on these. I would implore the opposition parties to do the same.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Since 2012, the Liberals have taken $100 million out of Ottawa Hospital’s budget—that’s a fact—forcing that hospital to cut front-line health care workers year after year. That, too, is a fact. Over at CHEO, another 27 full-time positions had to be cut last year—another fact.

And now, on Friday, the health minister admitted that this year’s funding for Ottawa’s hospitals, like Hôpital Montfort, will not keep up with inflation and population growth—another fact. It will not repair the damage; it will not stop the cuts to nursing. In fact, it means another year of cuts to health care in Ottawa.

Why won’t this Premier do the right thing and put a stop to any more nursing cuts in Ontario’s hospitals?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: It is true that on Friday the Premier and I—I was honoured to be with her at Montfort Hospital—announced new funding, an increase of $19 million for the Ottawa hospitals.

It is also a fact that by any indicator, according to the College of Nurses of Ontario, we have more RNs working in this province than since we came into office, we have more RPNs, and we have more nurse practitioners. Whether it’s per capita or absolute numbers, it has increased.

History is an important lesson and when you have an opposition, a third party—3,000 RNs lost their jobs when they were in power, when they cut funding to hospitals in the last year of their time in government, when they closed 24% of the acute hospital beds in this province. I’m not going to take my lesson from a party with that kind of record.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Be seated, please. Thank you. Start the clock.

New question.

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Hospital funding

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also for the Premier. Last Friday I was in Sarnia. I met an elderly couple who moved to Sarnia because the health care in their hometown of Wallaceburg had faced so many cuts that they wanted to live in a place where they thought they could be sure that they would be able to actually age with dignity. Now that they’re in Sarnia, the hospital is being forced to cut $5 million from its budget, and the total number of hospital workers cut over the past four years will reach 80. The hospital will still face a $1.7-million shortfall. This elderly couple thought that they could find security by moving. People can’t get away from the cuts, though.

Will this Premier do the right thing and ensure that hospitals are not being forced to cut?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Again, Mr. Speaker, we’re increasing our funding to hospitals across this province by $345 million this year. That represents a 2.1% increase in the line in the budget for our hospital funding.

It includes Bluewater Health in Sarnia. In fact, Bluewater is doing better than the provincial average because they’re receiving an additional $3.5 million this year, an increase in their operating budget. That represents a 2.73% increase in their operating budget.

The facts are that we continue to invest in our health care system, an additional $1 billion this year; $345 million of that is going into the operating expenses of hospitals at a 2% increase. That doesn’t even begin to talk about the enormous capital investment that we’re making across the province.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Sarnia isn’t just cutting another 11 jobs. They’re not just facing another $5 million in cuts. The complex continuing care unit is being forced to close eight beds.

To the Premier, her minister and the governing Liberals, this may be all about spin but to the people it’s about health. It’s about the health care of their families and the availability of services in their community hospitals. Will this Premier actually face up to the silent crisis that the Liberals are creating in the health care system and put a stop to the hospital cuts right here and right now?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: As I mentioned, we continue to invest. I want to talk about the capital investments that were outlined in our budget recently passed because, over the next decade, we’re investing $12 billion in hospital renovations and expansions and, in many cases, brand new hospitals right across this province. It’s an important investment, but we also recognize that hospitals have ongoing maintenance costs and small redevelopment and renovation costs. So we’ve increased by $50 million in this year’s budget the funds that we put towards those renovations.

At the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, we expect our local hospital administrations and their boards, together with our LHINs and together with the ministry, to make decisions which ensure that the quality of services and care are of the best possible quality. That’s our goal, and we work hard to achieve that across this province.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, those hospitals are going to have a hard time serving patients when there aren’t any nurses at the bedside. For the last three years, per capita health spending on hospitals in Ontario has fallen. The last time that happened was in 1997, and Mike Harris was the Premier.

Today, just like in 1997, hospitals are being forced to close beds, fire nurses, cancel surgeries and treat people in conference rooms and hallways. That’s what’s happening here in the province of Ontario: treatment in conference rooms and in hallways because of Liberal cuts to our hospital system.

When will this Premier stop cutting hospitals, stop firing nurses, and make sure Ontarians can count on our hospitals and our health care system?

Interjections.

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

Minister?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Finally, Mr. Speaker, something we can agree on: the fact that the PC Party, when they were in power—there were 6,000 fewer nurses working at the end of their tenure as government. There were 3,000 fewer nurses as well working when the NDP left government compared to the beginning.

Mr. Speaker, what concerns me is that in their last election platform, they committed to finding $600 million in savings. In fact, the member for Kitchener–Waterloo, when pressed on the issue by the CBC, admitted that those savings would be found in health care and in education. She went on to say, in fact, that she would go first to health to find that $600 million in savings. There is no doubt there would have been dramatic, drastic cuts if they would have won that election.

Electric vehicle charging stations

Mr. John Yakabuski: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. Last week, the minister was forced to backtrack on his negative comments towards the province’s auto sector. Despite his swings at the auto sector, we know that under the government’s Green Investment Fund, they’re using cap-and-trade money to build charging stations.

Now, we’re glad that he saw the light on the auto sector after being taken to the woodshed, but why is he giving millions of dollars of contracts to Hydro-Québec to install electric vehicle charging stations when there are plenty of Ontario companies that can do the job? Why are you doing that, Minister?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’m sure my colleague the Minister of Transportation would also like to make a comment about this, but let’s just get the record straight: I, unlike the member opposite—members over here have voted for the largest investments in our auto sector in the history of Canada. I’m very proud to have worked with the auto sector, and without the support of the party opposite, who doesn’t want to see any revenue come out of cap-and-trade for the auto sector, we’re about to repeat that and make another massive investment in building the Ontario auto sector and the infrastructure to support it.

I need no lessons from the member opposite on being a champion for the auto sector. When he can hold his voting record to be anywhere near members on this side for the auto sector—because you didn’t learn your lesson, and you’re opposing the cap-and-trade system that will deliver unprecedented investments in innovation, in market development, in modernization of plants and in developing new markets for Ontario’s automobile—

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

Mr. John Yakabuski: He refuses to answer the first question. First we give free hydro to Quebec, and now we’re going to have them build our charging stations?

The minister has had to backtrack on comments made about the nuclear industry, agriculture and the auto sector, all in one week. Now the Premier’s office won’t even let him speak to the Toronto board of trade because he’s too much of a liability. It’s one thing to say something ill-informed, but it’s another to act on it.

If the minister thinks it’s best to take money in the Green Investment Fund, money that is raised from the taxpayers of Ontario, and invest it in contracts to other jurisdictions to build charging stations, then answer this: How much money from the Green Investment Fund, money from the people of Ontario, is going to contracts signed with other jurisdictions?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Minister of Transportation, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Steven Del Duca: I thank the member of the opposition for this question, however misguided it might be. A number of weeks ago, I was proud to stand in Mississauga here in Ontario—a wonderful community—to announce how we were proceeding with the $20 million that we announced back in December to build 500 electric vehicle charging stations by 2017 across the province of Ontario.

This will no doubt lead to a reduction in what we call range anxiety for those individuals who want to make that choice, in their efforts collectively to help us fight climate change, to purchase a zero-emissions vehicle. I would have thought that that member and the Conservative caucus would have supported an initiative that would build a network of fast and traditional chargers in every corner of the province.

I was proud to be in Mississauga at a company called KSI. We will see charging stations at Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, Ikeas and so many other places across this province. This member should support it.

Energy policies

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: My question is to the Premier. Today, we learned that during the Premier’s first two years in office, her party held nearly 100 big-ticket fundraisers. They promised face time with cabinet ministers, raising over $12 million.

A fundraiser last year was hosted by the very same Bay Street insiders who will benefit from the sale of Hydro One. Also remarkable was that those donors were promised access to both the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Energy, the ministers who made the Hydro One sell-off possible.

Now Ontarians should be able to trust that the government makes decisions with respect to energy based on the best interests of the public, not the best interests of the Liberal Party or its donors.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Deputy House leader, second time.

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Mr. Jagmeet Singh: My question is, will the government launch a public inquiry into the energy sector contracts of Ontario?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: As I have said and as we are acting on, we are committed to changing political donations in Ontario. The information that the member of the third party is talking about is public information, and the reporter recounted the events and wrote a story about it, and that’s fine.

But I hope that the leader of the third party still agrees with the position that we should ban corporate and union donations. I don’t know if the leader of the third party’s position has changed, because she won’t talk to us about what her perspective is on the draft legislation that would come forward.

In fact, last week, the government House leader had a very productive meeting with the PC House leader and a representative of the Green Party. In that meeting, we provided a briefing on the draft legislation and asked for their feedback and ideas before the bill was introduced into the Legislature. The only party that wasn’t represented was the NDP.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: Liberal donors are getting rewarded with massive private energy contracts while the people of Ontario are seeing their electricity bills skyrocket.

Meanwhile, of the five OPP investigations into this government, two of them that are under way deal with Liberal employees allegedly deleting evidence that might show that the government made decisions with the energy sector that were politically motivated, as opposed to the benefit of the public. Now two Liberal employees have already been charged criminally.

It’s time to clear the air, much like in Quebec with the Charbonneau inquiry. My question is, will the government commit to a public inquiry into the energy sector here in Ontario?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Energy.

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: With respect to the procurement surrounding the IPO, as the members know, we had the Auditor General of Canada, Denis Desautels, establish the process for procurement and assess the procurement as we went through it.

From his final report: “On the basis of the work just described, I have concluded that the process followed for the selection of the members of the IPO syndicate and for determining the structure of the syndicate was a fair process and was carried out in a fair and professional manner.”

The quote says, “No conflict of interest issues were identified, whether in relation to members of the selection committee or members of the syndicate.”

By the way, the member from Timmins is having a $600 dinner tonight for a small group of people, raising funds for the New Democratic Party. Here it is, Mr. Speaker.

Interjections.

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

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m standing, please. I’ve cautioned members about using props. If I see it again, it will be taken. Thank you.

New question. The member from Cambridge.

Workplace safety

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: My question is—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Sorry. We’ll try again. The member from Cambridge.

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you, Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Labour. Summer in my community of Cambridge and North Dumfries means the end of the school year, and it also means that many young people are being hired to work in summer jobs, many working for the first time. In fact, my 19-year-old son, Liam, started his summer job yesterday, and I spoke to him last evening. He said that his first day included training on safety in his workplace, and he intends to do more safety training today.

Recently, the Ministry of Labour posted their internship blitz results on their website and have conducted vulnerable worker blitzes in the past. These blitzes show us that our government is taking action, but we know that more needs to be done.

Can the minister please let this House know what he is doing to make sure people who are working this spring and summer know their rights and feel safe when they go to work each day?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I’d like to thank the member for that very important question.

All members of the House can play a role here. We should all be encouraging our young people to ask questions when they get their first job, to speak up when something they’re asked to do perhaps feels unsafe, and we have to remind them that every Ontarian, regardless of their age, has the right to refuse unsafe work in this province.

Speaker, it’s working. Between 2000 and 2012, lost-time work injuries for young people in this province decreased by 70%. That’s the largest decline in this country and it makes Ontario one of the safest places to work in this entire country.

We continue to protect our young people through blitzes and through other initiatives, but we also reach out to people who are new to the province. We’ve got a program specifically designed for people who have joined us from Syria. Ensuring that workers, old and new, know their rights is so important in this province.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I want to thank the minister for his work on this important file.

One way I know that spring is here is the increase in construction projects throughout Cambridge and the Waterloo region. New and experienced workers participate in these projects, such as the ongoing expansion of Cambridge Memorial Hospital and the 401, to help our cities grow and improve.

I know that the minister takes health and safety very seriously and, unfortunately, we still see incidents ending in tragedy across the province. Workers continue to get injured on the job or, worse, lose their lives. In my time as an emergency room nurse, I saw too many of these types of injuries.

I know that almost always these incidents could have been prevented. Health and safety training is paramount to making sure that all of our workers go home at the end of each day.

Can the minister please inform the House how our government is helping those who work on construction projects in the coming months?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thanks again to the member for that great question. She points out one of the worst parts of the job of being Minister of Labour: when you get that phone call or that email that somebody who left for work that morning isn’t going to go home to their family that night. So we need to work really hard at that.

We’ve increased the amount of health and safety training that is now mandatory in the province of Ontario. Every single worker in this province has to take basic health and safety training before entering the workforce. We’ve got mandatory training for those who work at heights. As of April of this year, in one year, 100,000 people in this province have been trained to work at heights.

These steps make Ontario, as I said before, one of the safest place in this country to work. We’ve got construction health and safety blitzes that go directly to where they need to go—targeted inspections. Every incident is preventable. Let’s keep working towards that zero.

Summer camps

Ms. Sylvia Jones: My question is to the Minister of Education. As a result of changes made to the Child Care and Early Years Act, children entering the school system in September who are under the age of four will no longer be allowed to attend summer camps. This decision has taken Ontario families and summer camp operators by surprise.

The Ontario Camps Association wasn’t even consulted about this change, and I quote: “The act was revised without the benefit of consultation or input of the OCA, its members or the thousands of families affected.” No child should be left behind simply because of their age. Children who will turn four by December 31 are allowed to register for school, but they’re not allowed to attend summer camps.

Minister, will you correct this error and make the entry to summer camps consistent with children entering the school system?

Hon. Liz Sandals: I would like to clarify because I’ve found that there’s a lot of confusion. This is a change that was made when the Child Care and Early Years Act was passed.

Ms. Sylvia Jones: I said that.

Hon. Liz Sandals: No, but a lot of people think it’s the regulations that were just published yesterday. In fact, it has got nothing to do with the regulations. It is in fact something that was passed over a year and a half ago. There has been quite a long lead time before this took effect because the actual law was passed about a year and a half ago.

If we put this in the context of what we were trying to do with the Child Care and Early Years Act, one of the things we found was that when we had situations where children were unsafe, it was typically children under school age in—

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

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Ms. Sylvia Jones: There’s not a single example of a child under four in the OCA camp system who has been impacted, so please don’t use a safety argument for this.

Education professionals, including developmental psychologists, have told me there’s absolutely no science to support the minister’s decision to prevent kids from attending summer camp simply because they have yet to turn four. This is yet another example of your government ignoring experts before making decisions that impact our province’s families—autism, child care regulations and now summer camps.

Will the minister allow children turning four by December 31 to attend summer camps this year?

Hon. Liz Sandals: As I said, this is a matter of law, not a matter of regulation. If we look at the situation, the kids are not being prevented from attending camps. What the law says is that if you are going to have a group of children under school age, you must have a child care licence—because the Ontario Camps Association is not a mandatory association; it’s a voluntary association. Many, many camps in Ontario are not a member of any association. There is no regulatory authority that controls camps.

We want to ensure that our youngest children are safe, and in order to ensure that our youngest children are safe, if you are going to have—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. It’s not helpful, when I’m trying to hear an answer, when people who asked the question are engaging across the floor.

New question.

Infrastructure Ontario

Mr. Paul Miller: Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton was turned over to the city unfinished and nearly a year late last May. The construction of this stadium, under the watch of the government’s Infrastructure Ontario, turned into, unfortunately, a fiasco. Completion and handover was rushed in order to ensure the stadium could be used for the Pan Am Games.

Another year has passed, and the stadium is still not complete. We’re two years past due, and the city of Hamilton and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have had enough. Both have filed notices of action in the Superior Court, claiming tens of millions of dollars in damages. Enough is enough.

Who did the Premier hold accountable for this two-year delay, and who will she hold accountable if this costs the province tens of millions of dollars?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Finance.

Hon. Charles Sousa: I appreciate the question. The member opposite knows all too well how important it was for us to restructure that stadium, a stadium which he was very proudly at, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, recognizing the outstanding support that we’ve done for the city of Hamilton as a result of that stadium, a stadium which will house the Hamilton Tiger-Cats—another great event that’s coming forward, and I’m sure he’ll be there for that ribbon-cutting ceremony as well.

We know that Infrastructure Ontario has done many projects across the province as a lead-up to the Pan and Parapan American Games, which is a great success for our province and a great economic development, which this one is, as well.

We know the legalities that are here. We also know that the job is getting done and it will be completed.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Paul Miller: Wow. Speaker, the city of Hamilton’s claim specifies damages over construction delays, disputed contract items, non-compliance with the contract, warranty failings and other deficiencies. Several hundred seats have obstructed views. The Tiger-Cats claim that Infrastructure Ontario, which is tasked by the government to arrange all privatization contracts, made negligent misrepresentations in relation to the design, construction and completion of this stadium.

Speaker, here’s the pièce de résistance: Three Pan Am executives placed third, fourth and fifth on last year’s sunshine list, collecting over $800,000 each in salaries and bonuses.

Why did the Premier authorize bonuses for three Pan Am executives, among the highest paid on the sunshine list, when claims of this magnitude were imminent against the Pan Am organizing committee?

Hon. Charles Sousa: I appreciate the member’s inference that the work being done—there are some shortfalls. Infrastructure Ontario is doing what is necessary with regard to perfecting the security, and that’s exactly what is happening. They are getting resolutions moving forward. We are talking about some minor amendments that are required.

But more importantly—

Interjections.

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

Please finish.

Hon. Charles Sousa: What’s important is that the stadium was ready for the games and it’s going to be ready for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats—as a brand new home for the champion Ticats. That’s proceeding without delay.

Dock and boathouse permits

Mr. Chris Ballard: Mr. Speaker, through you, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. I know that the Public Lands Act is administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and governs activities on crown land and shore lands. Minister, there may be some confusion for waterside property owners because of an Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision that has changed the permitting requirements under the Public Lands Act for docks and boathouses in Ontario. As a result, I understand some dock and boathouse construction and rebuilding will require a permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in situations where a permit was not required before.

Residents of my riding of Newmarket–Aurora who own waterside properties want to know about the changes and why they were made before they head to their cottages this May long weekend. Would the minister please explain how permit requirements have changed and what people interested in replacing, expanding or building a new dock or boathouse should know?

Hon. Bill Mauro: I want to thank the member from Newmarket–Aurora for the question. I believe that, probably, there are many members in the Legislature who have heard about this issue in their constituency offices. If they haven’t heard about it yet, I would expect they will be hearing about it soon. I’ve had an opportunity to talk to at least three members of the official opposition, Conservative members. We committed in those discussions and advised them that we were working on this and that there would be more information forthcoming in the near term.

Yesterday, my office sent out a letter to all MPPs. If you haven’t received that already, you should be receiving that soon. As the summer season approaches, we believe that this issue is going to receive a higher profile in your constituency offices.

This is a result of an Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision relative to the Public Lands Act. In the supplemental, I’m going to provide a bit more information—which may not be contained in the letter that they will be receiving soon—to try to explain in a bit more detail about what we can expect.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Chris Ballard: Thank you to the minister for his answer.

I understand that, historically, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry permits were only required for docks and boathouses that rested on or were attached to more than 15 square metres of shore lands, usually lakebeds. However, in its decision, the court held that a dock or boathouse floating above shore lands is considered to be occupying the lands beneath the structure, regardless of whether it’s resting on or attached to the shore lands.

I also understand that because of this change from previous procedures, your ministry is working to simplify the process for individuals who want to build, replace or expand docks or boathouses that are larger than 15 square metres.

Would the minister explain how the ministry is working to address the issue and what individuals thinking of building, replacing or expanding a dock or boathouse should know?

Hon. Bill Mauro: Again I want to thank the member from Newmarket–Aurora.

To restate, this action is the result of a ruling from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Some docks and boathouses will now require permits in situations where authorization was not required before. Going forward, new docks or boathouses, seasonal docks or boathouses, and expansions to existing docks or boathouses will require a permit if they are larger than 15 square metres. Smaller docks or boathouses that occupy 15 square metres or less of shore lands do not require Public Lands Act authorizations at this time. We’ll continue to communicate this information as best as we’re able.

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I want to state very clearly that there will be no fees associated with obtaining these dock and boathouse permits. It’s important that people are aware of that. I’ve also directed officials to explore options to address this situation. Hopefully by the fall, we will be in a position to make announcements to all of the members who have been affected by this so that in the years going forward, we won’t have to—

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

New question.

Children’s mental health services

Mr. Randy Hillier: My question is to the Minister of Education. Last week, during Children’s Mental Health Week, the Upper Canada District School Board director of education, Stephen Sliwa, announced his arbitrary decision to terminate the board’s long-term partnership with the Cordick treatment program. For 20 years, this program successfully treated and provided therapy so hundreds of children with behavioural problems could graduate back into their schools.

Is the minister aware that the Upper Canada District School Board is placing children with behavioural and mental health issues at a significant disadvantage and making it impossible to deliver quality services obligated under the Education Act?

Hon. Liz Sandals: My understanding is that the facility in question is a privately operated group home. There is something, as you would know, Speaker, under the Education Act, which we refer to as section 23 schools. There are teachers that are provided to go into care and treatment facilities. Those could be correctional facilities, hospitals, mental health facilities—as I take it is—but some sort of a facility where the children aren’t able to leave each day.

It isn’t the board that provides the care or the treatment—in this case, you said of mental health. It isn’t the board that provides mental health. The board simply provides the teaching for—sends a few EAs for special education.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Randy Hillier: Back to the Minister of Education: It’s unfortunate that she’s not more knowledgeable and briefed on section 23 programs. But unlike the callous actions of the director of the school board, I do recognize the professional staff that I’ve dealt with at the Ministries of Community and Social Services and of Children and Youth.

However, we know that the Cordick treatment program was contracted for 36 children. I understand that the new service will be reduced to just 24. Also, these treatments will no longer be provided to children in grades 7 and 8. Furthermore, unlike the Cordick treatment program, the new service will not provide professsional clinicians and psychiatrists to diagnose and treat the children.

Will the minister confirm that these reductions are indeed factual, and if so, why the minister is allowing the school board to shirk their responsibilities and eliminate these much-needed services?

Hon. Liz Sandals: Minister of Children and Youth Services.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: I was glad to have a conversation with the member from Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington last week about the Cordick education centre. As he knows, it’s a privately operated residence but it is licensed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. A number of meetings have actually taken place earlier this year with the school board, with my regional staff, the local children’s aid society and the local mental health agency to discuss how to maintain the program at least till the end of the school year and allow for the proper transition of youth.

It was Children’s Mental Health Week last week. We didn’t have a huge opportunity to talk about that in the House, so I’ll say now, as the minister responsible for children’s mental health: We want to make sure that children who need mental health services get that at the right time, at the right place and in a way that suits their needs. That’s why we’ve made substantial investments in children’s mental health. I’ll be happy to talk to the member—

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

New question.

Hospital funding

Mr. Michael Mantha: My question is to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Minister, my office has been overwhelmed this spring by constituents calling, worried about potential cuts to Matthews Memorial Hospital and their emergency department located on St. Joseph Island. The possibility of reducing the current 24-hour emergency care to just 12 hours is deeply troubling to community members. I’ve heard from St. Joseph Island, Desbarats, Bruce Mines and along the North Shore and other surrounding areas about how devastating this would be to our communities.

Minister, patients and families deserve to know what’s happening to our local hospital. Will the minister tell us exactly what cuts are on the table for Matthews Memorial Hospital?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate this question. Our hospitals, on a regular basis, as they look to maintain and often improve services and to provide a sustainable health care environment, look to different options and recommendations in terms of how they can modify services. But they are required to do it in a context where there is an expectation that the level of care is maintained or improved, that those important services to communities, particularly those that are served by Matthews, are maintained.

They do this work in concert with the LHIN, and the ministry as well. Any decisions, any ideas that the administration or the board of that hospital might have, have to be then shared with the LHIN. The LHIN shares them with the ministry so that all three parties, together with the community, are involved in the decisions. No decisions that I am aware of have been made with regard to this particular hospital.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Mr. Michael Mantha: Again to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care: Funding for hospitals in northern Ontario is simply inadequate, Minister. To make matters worse, small hospitals such as Blind River, Thessalon and Matthews Memorial, which joined together with the goal of providing real rural patient care, do not have the funding to offer outpatient lab work. We have seen time and time again that northern patients are taking a back seat when it comes to proper health care.

Minister, why is the government refusing to deliver stable, predictable funding that hospitals need to protect patient care for the people of northern Ontario?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, it’s just not true that we’re not supporting and investing in our hospitals in the northern part of this province. In fact, because many of them—not all of them, but many of them—are small and rural, we have a dedicated fund of $20 million annually that goes to those hospitals.

Actually, the small, rural hospitals are not part of the funding reform that we made several years ago, so they continue to be treated in a separate fashion, understanding the unique challenges that they might face. Across the north, whether it’s Thunder Bay hospital or Health Sciences North or that cluster of small, rural hospitals, we make sure that we’re investing in them.

Importantly, I’d like to speak to the member opposite. He hasn’t, to my knowledge, brought this to my attention or that of my staff or the ministry about Matthews hospital. Again, I would simply implore all members of this Legislature, if they have a specific concern about a health care service in their riding, to come to me. I’m happy to work with them.

Celebrate Ontario

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: My question is to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Minister, a few weeks ago, I was proud to join you and Minister Leal at the Art Gallery of Peterborough to announce the recipients of this year’s Celebrate Ontario grants.

Celebrate supports local organizations by allowing festivals and events to build capacity, and I was pleased to hear that Peterborough Musicfest received funding. This year marks the 30th year that Peterborough Musicfest has run on the picturesque shores of Little Lake. To this day it remains a barrier-free festival with no social barriers and free attendance. Last year’s Celebrate Ontario supported an increased performance schedule which resulted in a 28% increase in tourism.

Through you, Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to tell the members of this House more about events supported as a result of Celebrate Ontario.

Hon. Michael Coteau: I’d like to thank the member for the question. It’s true: I was in Peterborough with the Minister of Agriculture at the art gallery. What a beautiful part of Ontario.

Our government’s Celebrate Ontario fund supported 200 festivals and events across Ontario, increasing attendance and maximizing their economic impact. A great example of the effect of Celebrate Ontario is our support for the Victoria Playhouse. Last year, the funding helped the Victoria Playhouse surpass its attendance goals and attract more than $4.3 million in visitor spending for the southwest Ontario region.

Mr. Speaker, that’s a story that has been repeated right across this province, from the Stratford Summer Music festival to Timmins’s Great Canadian Kayak Challenge and Festival to the Ottawa Bluesfest and Niagara’s Winter Festival of Lights. All across this great province, our government is supporting local organizations and building capacities for our festivals and events.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: Thank you, Minister. It is fantastic to hear how wide-reaching and how successful our government’s Celebrate Ontario fund is.

My riding is home to other successful festivals and events like the Westben Arts Festival Theatre and Cultivate: a Festival of Food and Drink, along with Float Your Fanny Down the Ganny.

In all, 200 festivals and events received funding: events in northern Ontario, in rural communities in the southwest, and events all along the waterfront; in Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Leeds–Grenville and Timiskaming–Cochrane. The members of this House know that Celebrate Ontario is wide-reaching and improves tourism.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister: Can you tell the members of this House about how Celebrate Ontario supports tourism and provides platforms for Ontario travellers?

Hon. Michael Coteau: Again, I’d like to thank the member for the question.

Each year, we know that our festivals and events here in Ontario, through the Celebrate Ontario fund, help to create jobs. In fact, since 2009, we’ve been able to create tens of thousands of jobs through this fund. Our targeted support has led to an estimated 6.2 million in additional tourists coming back here to the province in Ontario.

The tourism sector here in the province of Ontario is a $28-billion sector that employs over 350,000 people, many of them young people.

We’re so proud of tourism. We’re so proud of our festivals and events. We’ll continue to make that investment through our Celebrate Ontario fund, so we can continue to ensure that we can tell our story, share our heritage and, of course, add to the economic impact here in the province of Ontario.

Mining industry

Mr. Norm Miller: My question is to the Premier. In a recent speech to the Timmins Chamber of Commerce, the CEO of Gowest Gold, a junior mining company, called out your government for uncertainty in the current permitting process. Gowest has been waiting since 2009 for all of their permits to be reviewed and either approved or denied by this government. I believe the Premier would agree that seven years is a very long time to wait for a project that will create jobs and contribute to Ontario’s economy.

Will the Premier explain why the permitting and approval process in Ontario is being allowed to stifle investment and prevent new mines from opening?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

Hon. David Orazietti: We certainly appreciate the question from the member opposite. As the member knows full well, Ontario is a leading jurisdiction in mining and mining development. There are millions of dollars that are generated from the industry and jobs created as a result of the investments made in the sector.

Our ministry and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines are working very hard with First Nations and mining companies to ensure that the permitting process is streamlined and is one that incents development and supports economic growth in Ontario when it comes to mining.

We’re pleased with the progress that we’ve made. We know that there’s more work to do, and I know the Minister of Northern Development and Mines is committed to doing that work.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): There being no deferred votes, this House stands recessed until 3 p.m.

The House recessed from 1204 to 1500.

Introduction of Visitors

Mr. Joe Dickson: I believe that I’m introducing some guests. I just can’t find them at the moment. I’d like to welcome—

Hon. James J. Bradley: They’re there.

Mr. Joe Dickson: Are they there? They’re there—the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario, the MEAO, represented by Denise Magi, the vice-president and secretary; Keith Deviney, the president; and other colleagues and officials: Ted Ball and John Doherty.

Mme France Gélinas: I, too, would like to welcome members from the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario, as well as the Association of Ontario Health Centres, who are here today. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Soo Wong: I just realized that my former colleague, a trustee with the old Toronto Board of Education, arrived in the east visitors’ gallery: John Doherty. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Members’ Statements

Invictus Games

Mr. Michael Harris: It was just a week ago that we were honoured to host Prince Harry in this House and welcomed his proclamation that the home for the 2017 Invictus Games will be right here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As we cheer on our servicemen and women as they compete in Orlando, Florida, this week in this year’s edition of the games, we look forward to bringing them back home, where they will compete in 12 sports along with 600 others from 16 different countries next year.

As Bronwen Evans of the True Patriot Love Foundation noted, the games “will enable all Canadians to honour the men and women who have come face-to-face with the reality of sacrificing for their country.”

When Prince Harry launched his first Invictus Games in London in 2014, he began a movement that has grown into the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured and ill active duty and veteran service members. Now that it has moved across the pond to Florida and, next year, here in Toronto, it continues to grow, drawing spectators and fans across our nations, as we cheer on our heroes who have sacrificed so much.

By using the power of sport to inspire, Invictus opens doors to awareness of the physical and psychological hurdles faced by those who serve our country.

The word “invictus” is Latin for “unconquerable” or “undefeated.” Today, I join with those here in Ontario, those in the stands in Florida and those watching on across the world in cheering on these undefeated military athletes as they conquer their own hurdles on the road to the Toronto Invictus Games in 2017.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Mme France Gélinas: Today, members of the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario are at Queen’s Park. Why? Well, it’s because on May 12, it is official awareness day for myalgic encephalomyelitis—sometimes called chronic fatigue syndrome—fibromyalgia and environmental sensitivities, also known as multiple chemical sensitivity.

In late 2013, MEAO—it’s shorter—together with the Association of Ontario Health Centres, submitted a proposal for an Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health. From the proposal, we learned that over 580,000 people in Ontario have been diagnosed with chronic, complex, environmentally linked illnesses. That’s 5% of the population of Ontario.

We also learned that people suffering from these conditions experience systemic barriers to getting the health care that they need because diagnosis and treatment of these serious conditions are not currently available in Ontario.

I believe this has to change, Speaker. A year and a half ago, the Minister of Health agreed and announced the creation of a task force. But it’s been a year and a half and nothing has changed. These people are counting on the minister to keep his promise and finally take action to provide effective health services to them.

The time has come to support the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health. Today would be a good day to start.

Sadiq Khan

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I rise on behalf of all members of the Legislature to recognize the election of Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has just been elected as the mayor of the city of London, England. This is an extraordinary event and, of course, a sign of the embrace of diversity and pluralism.

We would like to commend Mayor Khan not only on an extraordinary campaign as he reached out to Londoners and beyond, but also for, I think, embodying the wishes of his family. As you know, Speaker, he is of Pakistani Muslim descent. He comes from a very modest household. He grew up in what I understand is social housing, and he served as a councillor, as a member of Parliament federally there, and now as the mayor of the city of London.

I’ve composed a letter to him which I’ll be sending on behalf of all members of the Legislature. I’ll actually sign that letter here in Parliament.

Of course, this election was not without its controversy. The usual suspects did speak in the usual way, but Londoners withstood that.

I would like to commend him as, obviously, someone who supports diversity, pluralism, multiculturalism and the embrace of all humanity. We congratulate you, Mayor Khan. I officially invite you to the Legislature of Ontario and look forward to hosting you here.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Mr. Jeff Yurek: I, too, am pleased to rise and recognize the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario. They’re here today because, as mentioned earlier, May 12 is the official awareness day for myalgic encephalomyelitis, fibromyalgia and environmental sensitivities. These are three chronic, complex, environmentally linked illnesses that are afflicting over 580,000 Ontarians.

Unfortunately, back in October 2013, a business case proposal was given for the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health and was presented to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in order to provide the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians afflicted with these illnesses with the appropriate care and treatment they deserve. To date, approval has not been given to the business case proposal. Although the ministry has recognized the business case proposal and has announced that a task force would be created, the ministry has failed to do so over the last one and a half years. The task force has not been implemented and work cannot begin.

The Progressive Conservative Party urges the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to get moving on the task force that will deliver a system of care to ensure that effective and appropriate health and social services are given to the hundreds of thousands of Ontario patients who suffer from these chronic, complex, environmentally linked illnesses.

Aboriginal children and youth

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yesterday, I had the occasion, along with my federal counterpart, Charlie Angus, to visit Attawapiskat as a follow-up to the ongoing crisis in that community. Let me just first of all say that, unfortunately, this crisis is happening in other communities as well and may not be reported as much.

But what is really clear coming out of the discussions that we had yesterday with the chief and the various members of the community and those people that work at WAHA, which is our hospital, and others is that there is a real, chronic underfunding of staffing that’s needed to be able to deliver services in those communities. In all of our communities where we come from, there’s a functioning children’s aid; a functioning children’s treatment centre, normally; a functioning hospital; and a mental health association who all provide services in our communities to deal with people who are in crisis.

If you live in Attawapiskat, there is not one single mental health worker to deal with kids under 18 out of Payukotayno—no money to do that. When it comes to WAHA, we have one worker who is a mental health worker to service the entire community.

Now I want to thank—we have EMAT there, and the government has seen fit to extend that for 30 days in order to provide respite to the WAHA staff so that we can provide some services during this immediate crisis. But what is becoming more and more clear is that we need to make sure that we provide the resources, the training and support necessary to build up the services in that community so community members themselves can staff those positions and be part of their community and be part of functional agencies that are able to deal with those issues in the community on an ongoing basis.

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Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Mr. Joe Dickson: I’m pleased once again to co-sponsor the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario, a registered Ontario charity, which is here today, May 10, because Thursday, May 12, of course, is the official awareness day for myalgic encephalomyelitis, sometimes known as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and environmental sensitivities, also known as multiple chemical sensitivity, which are three chronic, complex, environmentally linked illnesses that affect almost 600,000 people in Ontario.

MEAO supports the hundreds of thousands of patients in Ontario who have complex, chronic, environmentally linked illnesses. As pointed out numerous times over the years, these patients experience systemic barriers to getting the health care they need because diagnosis and treatment of these very serious conditions are seriously lacking in some sections of Ontario. Indeed, in most areas of Ontario, health care for these illnesses is non-existent.

I would like to just also mention, if I could, Mr. Speaker, that a lot of us will urge the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to implement that task force that was mentioned earlier and that has patients at the centre of the process and leads to a health system that meets the needs of these patients so that hundreds of thousands of Ontarians suffering from chronic, complex, environmentally linked illnesses can at long last receive the diagnosis and treatment they really need.

Don’t forget: We’ll see everyone today over in rooms 228 and 230 at 4:30 p.m. You’re also invited to continue wearing the MEAO’s ribbons, which we put on this morning.

Riding of Oxford

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the survey in my recent newsletter. I genuinely enjoyed reading each response and sharing the concerns of my constituents with the Legislature.

The biggest concerns for my constituents are the economy and jobs, government spending, seniors’ issues and taxes.

People continue to tell me that the cost of living is rising in Wynne’s Ontario. Some 94% of the people who responded said that their family has been impacted by the increasing cost of hydro, and 67% of the respondents said that impact has been significant. In fact, one constituent enclosed their hydro bill: $700 for a single month.

They told me they can’t afford the mandatory pension plan; 78% of the people oppose it. And while costs are going up, services aren’t improving. Some 87% said that health care hasn’t improved over the last 10 years.

They told me about loved ones who are waiting for cataract surgeries, knee surgeries, hip replacements and occupational therapy. Many of them said they are still having trouble finding a family doctor. People see huge government spending, but not enough of that money is going to the services that they need.

Again, I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the survey and share their concerns. I will continue to share their stories to show the real impact of this government’s policies and I will continue to push for the things that matter to the people of Oxford: keeping the cost of living affordable, creating jobs, and health care that we can depend on.

St. Maria Goretti Church

Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti: I’m pleased to stand and share a few words about the 60th jubilee of St. Maria Goretti Church that took place in my riding of Scarborough Southwest this past April 16.

The mass was presided over by Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto and a notable figure in the Catholic Church.

The church, which takes its name from one of the youngest canonized saints, has long been a spiritual and inspirational pillar in the Scarborough community.

I was fortunate enough to attend the service and I could tell from the reaction on parishioners’ faces just how much it meant to have Cardinal Collins and other members of the Catholic clergy present and involved in this very special mass.

I have personally attended mass at this church for more than a decade and have witnessed the incredible growth of the church community and the way it has brought the people of Scarborough Southwest together for their spiritual fulfillment.

Celebrating the 60th jubilee is an exceptional accomplishment. I’d like to extend my warmest wishes to the clergy—Father Edwin Galea, Father Elias Chachati and Reverend Ramon Villardo—as well as all church members, and to thank the church for its 60 years of contributions to Scarborough Southwest and the surrounding area.

South Asian Heritage Month

Ms. Indira Naidoo-Harris: I’m pleased to rise today to recognize May as South Asian Heritage Month. Across our diverse province, Ontarians everywhere are celebrating South Asian culture and history, and there’s certainly a lot to celebrate.

Ontario is home to more than one million South Asians. In fact, our province boasts the largest South Asian population in all of Canada. This dynamic community has contributed immeasurably to the fabric of Ontario in business, science, arts, medicine and more, and we are all stronger for it.

South Asian Heritage Month is a time to celebrate our diversity and our community’s rich traditions. There are festivals, exhibits and ceremonies happening throughout the month of May. In fact, just this weekend, I attended a South Asian festival in Halton. There were games and contests for the kids, entertainment for the adults and, of course, amazing food for everyone. It was a fantastic and colourful celebration of South Asian culture and traditions.

South Asians come from many countries and speak many languages. These events are a shining example of Ontario’s multicultural society. I want to encourage everyone here and across the province to go out and celebrate this community’s cultures and backgrounds, and enjoy the many events happening this month. I want to wish all South Asians a happy and meaningful South Asian Heritage Month.

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on Government Agencies

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I beg to inform the House that today the Clerk received the report on intended appointments dated May 10, 2016, of the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. Pursuant to standing order 108(f)(9), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.

Report deemed adopted.

Standing Committee on Social Policy

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Social Policy and move its adoption.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Tonia Grannum): Mr. Singh from the Standing Committee on Social Policy presents the committee’s report as follows and moves its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 151, An Act to enact the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 and the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016 and to repeal the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 / Projet de loi 151, Loi édictant la Loi de 2016 sur la récupération des ressources et l’économie circulaire et la Loi transitoire de 2016 sur le réacheminement des déchets et abrogeant la Loi de 2002 sur le réacheminement des déchets.

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

Report adopted.

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

Introduction of Bills

Boys and Girls Club of Niagara Act (Tax Relief), 2016

Mr. Gates moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr45, An Act respecting the Boys and Girls Club of Niagara.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Pursuant to standing order 86, this bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills.

Petitions

Environmental protection

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas the purpose of Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA) is to ‘provide for the protection and conservation of the natural environment.’ RSO 1990, c. E.19, s. 3.; and

“Whereas ‘all landfills will eventually release leachate to the surrounding environment and therefore all landfills will have some impact on the water quality of the local ecosystem.’—Threats to Sources of Drinking Water and Aquatic Health in Canada;

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

“That section 27 of the EPA should be reviewed and amended immediately to prohibit the establishment of new or expanded landfills at fractured bedrock sites and other hydrogeologically unsuitable locations within the province of Ontario.”

I thank you very much for allowing me time to present this petition. I will sign it, as I agree with it, and I’ll give it to Emma.

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Workplace safety

Mr. Percy Hatfield: I have about 300 names collected from all across Ontario.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the day of mourning is a day to remember and honour those who have been killed, injured or who suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents and to honour their families. It also serves as a day to protect the living by strengthening our commitment to health and safety in all workplaces in Ontario for the common goal of preventing further deaths and injuries from occurring in the workplace;

“Whereas a workers day of mourning is recognized in more than 100 countries around the world;

“Whereas 1,000 Canadian workers are killed on the job each year and hundreds of thousands more are injured or permanently disabled;

“Whereas it is expected that more than 90% of workplace deaths are preventable and raised awareness of this fact is necessary. Every worker is entitled to a safe work environment, free of preventable accidents, and that we, as a province, are committed to reaching such a goal;

“Whereas our MUSH sector (municipal, universities, schools and hospitals) as leaders in their communities are not doing enough to recognize and raise awareness of the seriousness of workplace injury and death;

“Whereas the flag symbolizes us as a province, and the lowered flag is a powerful symbol of our shared loss and respect, brings focus to the issues and symbolizes we are united on this front as a province at all levels, not divided;

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

“To support the workers of Ontario with swift passage of Bill 180, Workers Day of Mourning Act, 2016, that would require all publicly funded provincial and municipal buildings to lower their Canadian and Ontario flags on April 28 each year.”

I agree and will give it to Grace. I’ll sign my name and send it to the desk.

Lung health

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I have a petition that’s addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It’s worth noting that I’ve had these petitions come in from all over Ontario. This one comes from folks from Drummond and Cambridge.

“Whereas lung disease affects more than 2.4 million people in the province of Ontario, more than 570,000 of whom are children and youth living with asthma;

“Of the four chronic diseases responsible for 79% of deaths (cancers, cardiovascular diseases, lung disease and diabetes) lung disease is the only one without a dedicated province-wide strategy;

“In the Ontario Lung Association report, Your Lungs, Your Life, it is estimated that lung disease currently costs the Ontario taxpayers more than $4 billion a year in direct and indirect health care costs, and that this figure is estimated to rise to more than $80 billion seven short years from now;

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

“To allow for deputations on ... private member’s bill, Bill 41, Lung Health Act, 2014, which establishes a Lung Health Advisory Council to make recommendations to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on lung health issues and requires the minister to develop and implement an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan with respect to research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung disease; and

“Once debated at committee, to expedite Bill 41” through to “third and final reading; and to immediately call for a vote ... and to seek royal assent ... upon its passage.”

Speaker, I agree with the petition, sign my name and give it to Aadil to bring down.

Apraxia

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas all children in the province of Ontario deserve every opportunity to reach their full potential; and

“Whereas speech and language pathologists in Ontario are afforded the capabilities to provide a diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech and receive specialized mandated training; and

“Whereas intensive and frequent individualized professional speech therapy, multiple times weekly, is needed to facilitate verbal speech; and

“Whereas school-aged children with severe and significant speech and language disorders like childhood apraxia of speech are not receiving the quality or quantity of speech therapy outlined as essential by current evidence and research, by either CCACs or school boards;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the government of Ontario to declare that May 14 is Apraxia Awareness Day.”

I agree with this petition. I will affix my signature and send it to the table with Preston.

Ontario Northland Transportation Commission

Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition that comes from Mrs. Valerie Hawkins from Long Lake Road in Sudbury in my riding. It reads as follows:

“Whereas the residents of northern Ontario, particularly people who are sick or elderly, depend on public transportation for appointments in southern Ontario;

“Whereas intercity bus routes have been eliminated by Greyhound, for example, all daytime routes between Sudbury and Ottawa” have been eliminated; and

“Whereas there have been serious reductions at Ontario Northland, including the elimination of Northland’s train services;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to: Ensure that Ontario Northland offers adequate and equitable intercity transportation service from northern to southern Ontario.”

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

Water fluoridation

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I have a petition here addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas fluoride is a mineral that exists naturally in virtually all water supplies, even the ocean; and

“Whereas scientific studies conducted during the past 70 years have consistently shown that the fluoridation of community water supplies is a safe and effective means of preventing dental decay, and is a public health measure endorsed by more than 90 national and international health organizations; and

“Whereas dental decay is the second most frequent condition suffered by children, and is one of the leading causes of absences from school; and

“Whereas Health Canada has determined that the optimal concentration of fluoride in municipal drinking water for dental health is 0.7 mg/L, a concentration providing optimal dental health benefits, and well below the maximum acceptable concentration to protect against adverse health effects; and

“Whereas the decision to add fluoride to municipal drinking water is a patchwork of individual choices across Ontario, with municipal councils often vulnerable to the influence of misinformation, and studies of questionable or no scientific merit;

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

“That the ministries of the government of Ontario amend all applicable legislation and regulations to make the fluoridation of municipal drinking water mandatory in all municipal water systems across the province of Ontario.”

I agree with the petition, affix my signature and give it to William to bring to the desk.

Health care funding

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: “Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario’s growing and aging population is putting an increasing strain on our publicly funded health care system; and

“Whereas since February 2015, the Ontario government has made an almost 7% unilateral cut to physician services expenditures which cover all the care doctors provide to patients; and

“Whereas the decisions Ontario makes today will impact patients’ access to quality care in the years to come and these cuts will threaten access to the quality, patient-focused care Ontarians need and expect;

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

“The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care return to the table with Ontario’s doctors and work together through mediation-arbitration to reach a fair deal that protects the quality, patient-focused care Ontario’s families deserve.”

I totally agree with this petition. I’ll affix my signature and send it to the table with Alfred.

Ontario Northland Transportation Commission

Mr. John Vanthof: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the provincial government has cancelled the Northlander passenger train which served the residents of northeastern Ontario; and

“Whereas the provincial government has closed bus stations and is cancelling bus routes despite promising enhanced bus services to replace the train; and

“Whereas the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) has been given a mandate that its motor coach division must be self-sustaining; and

“Whereas Metrolinx, the crown corporation that provides train and bus service in the GTA ... is subsidized by more than $100 million annually; and

“Whereas the subsidy to Metrolinx has increased annually for the last seven years;

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

“To direct the Minister of Northern Development and Mines to reverse the decision to cancel bus routes immediately and to treat northerners equitably in decisions regarding public transportation.”

I wholeheartedly agree and send it down with page Faiz.

Lung health

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I have another petition here from Joan and Bruce Berry from Paris. It’s addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas lung disease affects more than 2.4 million people in the province of Ontario, more than 570,000 of whom are children and youth living with asthma;

“Of the four chronic diseases responsible for 79% of deaths (cancers, cardiovascular diseases, lung disease and diabetes) lung disease is the only one without a dedicated province-wide strategy;

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“In the Ontario Lung Association report, Your Lungs, Your Life, it is estimated that lung disease currently costs the Ontario taxpayers more than $4 billion a year in direct and indirect health care costs, and that this figure is estimated to rise to more than $80 billion seven short years from now;

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

“To allow for deputations on ... private member’s bill, Bill 41, Lung Health Act, 2014, which establishes a Lung Health Advisory Council to make recommendations to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on lung health issues and requires the minister to develop and implement an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan with respect to research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung disease; and

“Once debated at committee,” to speed its passage through to third and final reading.

I agree with the petition, sign my name and give it to Brendan to bring to the table.

Hospital funding

Mr. Jim Wilson: “Whereas Stevenson Memorial Hospital is challenged to support the growing needs of the community within its existing space as it was built for a mere 7,000” emergency room visits per year and “experiences in excess of 33,000 visits annually; and

“Whereas the government-implemented Places to Grow Act forecasts massive population growth in New Tecumseth, which along with the aging population will only intensify the need for the redevelopment of the hospital; and

“Whereas all other hospital emergency facilities are more than 45 minutes away with no public transit available between those communities; and

“Whereas Stevenson Memorial Hospital deserves equitable servicing comparable to other Ontario hospitals;

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

“That the Kathleen Wynne Liberal government immediately provide the necessary funding to Stevenson Memorial Hospital for the redevelopment of their emergency department, operating rooms, diagnostic imaging and laboratory to ensure that they can continue to provide stable and ongoing service to residents in our area.”

I agree with the petition and I certainly will sign it.

Employment standards

Ms. Jennifer K. French: I have a petition here to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas a growing number of Ontarians are concerned about the growth in low-wage, part-time, casual, temporary and insecure employment; and

“Whereas too many workers are not protected by the minimum standards outlined in existing employment and labour laws; and

“Whereas the Ontario government is currently engaging in a public consultation to review and improve employment and labour laws in the province;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to implement a decent work agenda by making sure that Ontario’s labour and employment laws:

“—require all workers be paid a uniform, provincial minimum wage regardless of a worker’s age, job or sector of employment;

“—promote full-time, permanent work with adequate hours for all those who choose it;

“—ensure part-time, temporary, casual and contract workers receive the same pay and benefits as their full-time, permanent counterparts;

“—provide at least seven (7) days of paid sick leave each year;

“—support job security for workers when companies or contracts change ownership;

“—prevent employers from downloading their responsibilities for minimum standards onto temp agencies, subcontractors or workers themselves;

“—extend minimum protections to all workers by eliminating exemptions to the laws;

“—protect workers who stand up for their rights;

“—offer proactive enforcement of laws, supported by adequate public staffing and meaningful penalties for employers who violate the law;

“—make it easier for workers to join unions; and

“—require a $15 minimum wage for all workers.”

I support this petition, and I send it to the Clerk with page Samantha.

Caregivers

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I have a petition here addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario entitled “Family Caregivers Petition.”

“Whereas there are over 2.6 million caregivers to a family member, a friend or a neighbour in Ontario;

“Whereas these caregivers work hard to provide care to those that are most in need even though their efforts are often overlooked;

“Whereas one third of informal caregivers are distressed, which is twice as many as four years ago;

“Whereas without these caregivers, the health care system and patients would greatly suffer in Ontario;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to support MPP Gélinas’s bill to proclaim the first Tuesday of every April as Family Caregiver Day to increase recognition and awareness of family caregivers in Ontario.”

I agree with it, affix my name and send it down to the table with Benjamin.

Health care funding

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: “Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario’s growing and aging population is putting an increasing strain on our publicly funded health care system; and

“Whereas since February 2015, the Ontario government has made an almost 7% unilateral cut to physician services expenditures which cover all the care doctors provide to patients; and

“Whereas the decisions Ontario makes today will impact patients’ access to quality care in the years to come and these cuts will threaten access to the quality, patient-focused care Ontarians need and expect;

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

“The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care return to the table with Ontario’s doctors and work together through mediation-arbitration to reach a fair deal that protects the quality, patient-focused care Ontario’s families deserve.”

I’ll affix my signature and send it to the table with William.

Correction of record

Ms. Andrea Horwath: A point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Point of order. I recognize the leader of the third party.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I rise to correct my record. Earlier this morning I misspoke and I said that when the Premier was the Minister of Education, she had promised IBI in schools. What I had meant to say is she had promised ABA in schools. I need to correct my record because either way, students are not getting the services and support they need from the school system.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. There is a point of opportunity for the member to correct her record.

The time for petitions has expired.

Opposition Day

Government contracts / Marchés publics

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I move the following:

Whereas Ontarians are concerned that energy policy in Ontario is set according to what benefits the Liberal Party of Ontario rather than achieving affordable, green and reliable energy for families or businesses; and

Whereas there are deeply concerning questions about the conduct of the Liberal government in respect of energy contracts; and

Whereas the government cancelled wind power contracts in Liberal-held ridings and is now being investigated by the OPP for allegedly destroying records around these decisions; and

Whereas the government decided to sell Hydro One in spite of evidence from the Financial Accountability Officer that this sale will not build infrastructure and will increase the deficit; and

Whereas questions remain around the government’s use of the Hydro One IPO for fundraising purposes with the revelation of ministerial quotas for party fundraising; and

Whereas the government’s decision to cancel the Mississauga and Oakville gas plants in Liberal-held seats at a cost of $1.1 billion along with the government’s decision to delete records regarding the gas plant scandal; and

Whereas the Liberal government faces five OPP anti-rackets squad investigations; and

Whereas the Liberal government of Quebec established a Commission of Inquiry on the Awarding and Management of Public Contracts in the Construction Industry—the Charbonneau Commission—to examine the inappropriate awarding of government construction contracts;

Therefore, in the opinion of this House, Ontario should establish a public inquiry on the awarding and management of public contracts in the energy industry.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Ms. Horwath has moved opposition day motion number 4. Back to the leader of the third party opposition, Ms. Horwath.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I wish I could say it is my pleasure to rise and speak to the motion that we filed the other day, but it is no pleasure to have to have this kind of discussion in the chamber because of the behaviour of the governing party here in Ontario. The member for Don Valley West—you may recall, Speaker—got her job as Premier because energy mismanagement pushed Dalton McGuinty out the door, as well as a number of other cabinet ministers. Three years later, sadly, nothing has changed.

Three years ago, the government was reeling from a scandal. Energy contracts had been ripped up at a huge public expense, and government records had been wiped clean, all so that the Liberals could cling to power. Three years later, not a lot has changed. Now, like then, the government broke contracts it signed to save its political bacon. Now, like then, they’re alleged to have covered up the evidence, and sadly, now, like then, the OPP are investigating.

But it’s not just one OPP investigation; it’s five OPP investigations currently underway into the actions of this Liberal government. It’s not just these two energy scandals; it’s Hydro One. It’s paying the USA, US states, paying them to take our excess power off our hands, and it’s using the energy file to fill the Liberal Party war chest. Every time the Liberal Party looks at the energy file, they should be asking, “How can we ensure that Ontarians have affordable, clean, reliable electricity?” Instead, they’re asking, “What can the energy system do for the Ontario Liberal Party?”

People were so hopeful that this Premier would change things. She said she understood the mistakes that had been made. But instead of changing things, Speaker, it’s clear that the Liberals simply have the wrong priorities. Ontarians are using less when it comes to electricity. When it comes to energy, they are using less and paying more.

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Liberal MPPs are going to stand up this afternoon—maybe the energy minister will stand up, and maybe even the Premier will stand up—and they’ll say that everything is fine. If that’s the case, if everything is so fine, then there’s no reason to say no to a public inquiry on the awarding and management of contracts in Ontario’s electricity sector; it’s pretty simple.

Of course, we all know that everything isn’t fine, and that’s why people are worried. That’s why we are all worried, Speaker. It’s why we need an inquiry in the first place. Let’s go through some of the reasons why it isn’t fine.

Things aren’t fine because five years after the Liberals cancelled the gas plants, five years after this Premier signed the cabinet minute making the decision official that turned this from a scandal into a $1.1-billion scandal, the scandal hasn’t gone away. Ontarians are still paying that billion-dollar bill. The police are still investigating senior Liberals. The Liberals are being investigated for the gas plants scandal, the Ornge air ambulance scandal, for violations of the Election Act, for criminal bribery and now for deleting emails that were essential to an energy lawsuit.

People deserve to know that their government is not corrupt, Speaker. But when they’re facing five police investigations, people start to worry. Things aren’t fine when we’re actually paying New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Manitoba and Quebec to take power off our hands that Ontario ratepayers have paid for. When the Hydro-Electric Power Commission was established in 1906, Sir Adam Beck’s call to action was that Ontarians should have “Power at Cost.” Affordable electricity is what built our forestry industry, our mineral refineries and our manufacturing industry, and was essential to making Ontario an economic powerhouse in our nation.

Now, instead of power at cost, we’re getting power that costs. Today, according to Manitoba Hydro, a consumer in Ontario, whether they are a household or a business, will pay a bill that’s nearly two times as high as Manitoba or Quebec. The result is that mills that have left northern Ontario and smelters that have been relocated are looking to those other two provinces to set up shop. Instead of looking for the best deal for Ontario businesses and families, we regularly pay other provinces and states to take power off our hands. We pay for it, and then we pay our competitors to use it. I’d like to see the Premier explain that to a family who can barely afford to pay their hydro bill.

Things aren’t fine, Speaker, when the Liberal Party is facing a lawsuit for cancelling contracts for political reasons and hiding the information. After five years of cancelling and uncancelling offshore wind projects, the government, on the eve of an election, announced on a Friday that it would impose a ban on offshore wind projects. That sparked a lawsuit—not unexpectedly—by Trillium Power Wind Corp. One legal analysis phrases Trillium’s complaint this way: The government was “acting out of political motivation to win seats in an upcoming election with the knowledge that their actions would harm Trillium....”

The further this case went, the stranger things became, because Trillium says now that key documents that they’re looking for to build their lawsuit are unexplainably missing—key documents, can you believe that? Key Liberal government documents are somehow missing. Well, my goodness. They say these documents could actually prove their case, and they also say that these documents specifically have been destroyed, that they have been told those documents have been destroyed. That was enough for the OPP to start this fifth investigation into the Liberal government—the fifth investigation. Of course, the Premier has denied knowing anything about this latest police investigation, but to quote the Ottawa Citizen, “Premier Kathleen Wynne should have known about the new police investigation into the government’s energy-contract dealings, the lawyer for the wind-power company that touched the investigation off alleges, because he told the government about it.” So the Premier doesn’t know anything about it, even though the lawyer told the government about it.

Around the same time that Trillium launched its lawsuit, Windstream Energy and Mesa Power launched suits with NAFTA. In April 2014, Mesa said that records relating to their claim had been deleted by the government. They said in their statements to NAFTA that this was “a provincial government which has been repeatedly found to have engaged in political manipulation and interference in regulatory processes when it suited its own partisan interest.”

Now, that’s not the NDP saying that and that’s not the PCs saying that, Speaker. These are lawyers for companies that have had to deal with the wrongdoings of this government through legislative or quasi-judicial processes. That’s who is making these accusations against the Liberal government here in Ontario. It is disgraceful, it is embarrassing and it is shameful what this government has been up to over the last number of years.

In August 2014, Windstream submitted to NAFTA “that relevant documents from the Premier’s office and the minister’s chief of staff have been deleted....” Senior Liberals wiped out records in the gas plant scandal. It is alleged that they wiped out records in the Trillium case, the Mesa Power case and in the Windstream Energy case.

Once is just a bad decision, Speaker. Doing something like that once is just a bad decision. But four separate allegations that records are being destroyed? That’s a pattern. It’s an ugly pattern, but that’s the pattern of our Liberal government here in Ontario.

Things are not fine with Hydro One. The Premier didn’t run on a plan to sell off Hydro One, and for months she stood in this House and denied that she was going to sell off our revenue-generating assets. The finance minister said, “We have made it clear that we are not going to sell off our assets.” The Premier mocked Ontarians when she said, “We’re not selling off the assets.” She stood there in her place and spoke those words. They’re on the Hansard. They’re on the public record.

Then, lo and behold, she’s selling Hydro One, doing exactly the opposite of what she promised here in the House and doing something she was not upfront with the people of this province about during the election campaign that she had run just a year earlier.

She waited until she had the majority under her belt, and then she made a decision that over 80% of Ontarians say is the wrong decision and that hundreds of municipalities say is wrong for their communities.

According to the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario, AMPCO, “The labouring industrial electricity customer is not the winner in a plan by the Ontario government to sell off a large stake in Hydro One....”

So it’s not just New Democrats, it’s not just 80% of Ontarians and it’s not just the Progressive Conservative Party that kind of doesn’t think the way they’re doing it is the right way to do it.

Major power consumers, just so people know, are those big, big companies that employ lots of workers and draw a lot of power off the grid to sustain their manufacturing and processing concerns, their businesses, their companies and their manufacturing. These are the people who are saying that the sell-off of Hydro One was the wrong thing to do.

Newspaper editorial boards from across Ontario and across the left and right spectrum agree that the selling of Hydro One is a bad decision.

The cooler heads, like the CEO of Hydro-Québec, say that the plan just doesn’t make sense. He said, “There’s a better chance that the Egyptians would privatize the pyramids than we would privatize the dams of James Bay.” Now, that’s somebody who knows what he’s talking about, unlike the Premier of this province.

The Premier claims that this is about infrastructure? Give me a break. It’s not about infrastructure, because it doesn’t raise any money. It doesn’t raise money, Speaker. It actually costs money.

Again, it’s not only me saying that. Ontario’s non-partisan Financial Accountability Officer conducted an assessment of what the Hydro One sell-off would mean for the province. He wrote, “In years following the sale of 60% of Hydro One, the province’s budget balance would be worse than it would have been without the sale.” That means it costs Ontario money. Ontario will be worse off. And while the Liberals issue press release after press release saying it pays off debt, the FAO is crystal clear: He says, “The province’s net debt would initially be reduced, but will eventually be higher than it would have been without the sale.”

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Shame on them, Speaker. Shame on them. Our debt isn’t going down as much as they claim; it’s going up. But they’re going to let some other government in the future have to deal with that. It’s so irresponsible. It’s so wilfully ignorant of the will of the people. It’s going up. It’s not going down.

The sale is bad for Ontario businesses, who already say that the high cost of electricity is one of their biggest concerns. It’s bad for our environment because the public is losing control of an asset which we could be leveraging to reduce consumption and ensure that we have green energy. And it’s bad for families, Speaker, who watch their hydro bills go up faster than their paycheques. They do all the right things—they use less power, they do their laundry in the dead of the night, they turn down the thermostat—and they still pay more.

But while it’s bad for business, it’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for families, it’s great for the Liberal Party, Speaker. It’s great for the Liberal Party. The decision to sell off Hydro One created a boon for bankers. As one of the largest IPOs in recent memory, it meant a big payday for the firms underwriting the sale. So after the firms were selected, the Liberals called them up and said, “We’ve helped you. Now you can help us,” leading to a huge payday for the Premier’s political party, a lucrative fundraiser with those very bankers and firms.

In fact, just today, the Globe and Mail reported that the Premier hosted 90 private—

Mr. Arthur Potts: A point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Excuse me. Point of order: I recognize the member from Beaches–East York.

Mr. Arthur Potts: I think, quite clearly, in those previous remarks the member is violating section 23(i), which says, “Imputes false or unavowed motives to another member.” Totally unavowed—she should withdraw, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much for raising a point of order. However, I’ve been listening very carefully, and I believe that she is using parliamentary language and not invoking any motive.

I return it back to the leader of the third party.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Thank you, Speaker.

In fact, just today, the Globe reported that the Premier hosted 90 private “cash-for-access fundraisers” in a two-year period. That’s one a week. She probably had more meetings with donors than she had with her own caucus, Speaker. It has been reported that some events used the Hydro One IPO in their solicitations of donors.

Speaker, we’ve got a problem here in Ontario. People are working harder. Everyday folks are working harder and harder. They’re often, these days, juggling multiple jobs. They’re commuting longer, and that means spending less time with their families or enjoying life. And it’s because the costs of the basics, like their hydro bill, are out of control. People feel like they’re left to fend for themselves against a system that’s only getting tougher. Instead of helping them, instead of getting hydro bills under control, the Premier keeps putting the interests of her political party first.

The government is still trying to cover up its energy scandals by wiping out documents. It’s still paying our competitors to take energy while people and businesses pay more. It’s still selling Hydro One—which is bad for just about everyone—just because it helps the Liberal Party fill the war chest.

People deserve to have faith that their government is making decisions that are in the best interests of the province, not just the best interests of their political party. But Ontarians look at the energy industry and what they see is decision after decision after decision after decision that’s bad for Ontario, bad for the people of this province, but good for the Liberal Party. It is a shameful disgrace. It should not happen in this province, it should not happen in this country, and that’s why there needs to be a commission of inquiry into the way that the Liberals are behaving.

In Quebec, a Liberal government faced serious questions like the ones we’re asking today about the awarding of construction contracts. They saw that government decisions were being made to benefit the party. So after a growing scandal, that Liberal Premier established a public inquiry on the awarding and management of public contracts in the construction industry, or, as others would call it, as it has come to be known, the Charbonneau commission. That Charbonneau commission made 60 recommendations to do things like protect whistle-blowers, reform political donations and increase the penalties for corruption.

Most importantly, it cleared the air. It showed people that the deck had in fact been stacked and provided a path forward to right the wrongs that had been perpetrated against the people of Quebec. The people of Ontario deserve for the wrongs to be righted here in this province as well. It’s time for a Charbonneau-type commission here in Ontario. It’s why the New Democrats believe that Ontario should establish a public inquiry on the awarding and management of public contracts in the energy industry.

The Premier got her job because of energy scandals here in this province. She said that she would clean things up, but three years later, not a single thing has changed. Ontarians in every corner of our province should be able to feel secure in their future. They should be confident that the government is actually on their side, that when the government makes a decision, that choice is based on what’s best for Ontarians, not just what’s best for their own political party.

Ontarians deserve answers, Speaker. That’s the very least they deserve from this Liberal government, which has behaved in such a despicable manner. That’s why we need that inquiry today. I ask all members of the House to do the right thing, to stand up for what happened in Quebec, where a Liberal Premier did the right thing and held a commission because of the questions and the concerns that were swirling around their misbehaviour in a particular file. That’s happening here in Ontario, and Ontarians deserve the same kind of response.

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

Mr. Arthur Potts: Thank you, Speaker. I’ve got to tell you, what’s despicable and what’s very disappointing is the behaviour we’re hearing—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I would ask that the third party listen intently to the next speaker and please keep it down.

Back to the member.

Mr. Arthur Potts: What we find here is an opposition party, the third party, which is completely bereft of new ideas on policy development and policy making. I know the people in Beaches–East York are asking important questions about what happened to their NDP. What happened to the party that used to represent them in Beaches–East York? I can tell you, as I go door to door in the community that I represent, in the community that I live in now, they wonder what has happened to the NDP of old. They had represented that riding since the early 1950s as the CCF, with a four-year break with the Tories. They no longer represent it, because they’ve lost their way.

It is so incredible that this leader of a third party that’s going nowhere needs to revert to ancient history two years after an election to be concerned about the behaviours of a government that we have now replaced. I wasn’t here in the period that she’s referring to, and almost everything she speaks about here—the Ornge scandal, the gas plants, all these things—those are in the past.

I was elected in June 2014 into a new government under a new leader, a leader who has integrity and is working very hard to demonstrate, working very hard to bring the accountability, the transparency that we promised, which I signed up for, to run in an election.

We only need to look as far as the Hydro One sale to see how lame this third party has become. I remember in the debate during the course of the election on Rogers TV, I held up the budget book and said to Mr. Prue, the previous member from Beaches–East York, “Mr. Prue, why would you vote against such a progressive budget? This was the campaign—why would vote against it?” He made it very clear that he voted against it because he could see right there in the preface that we were going to be selling off the assets of the province and he would have nothing to do with it. He knew. If Michael Prue, who sat on the financial committees and toured the province with our members, with SCOFEA, and got the input—if he knew it was happening, why didn’t the leader of the third party know it was happening?

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Mr. Lou Rinaldi: She wasn’t there.

Mr. Arthur Potts: She should have been there. She should have been listening. And her members should have been telling her. And he suffered the indomitable fate of a member who doesn’t listen to the people: He lost his seat.

And I liked Michael Prue. I did. I thought he was a good representative. This was never personal about him. He was a good representative. I liked him. But he lost his job because he had to follow blindly along with the misguided policies of this leader and her caucus, who had no plan going into election when they called an early election, no plan at all except to sort of dovetail on some of the most popular progressive things that we were doing. So it became clear during the course of that campaign that we were the new progressive Liberal Party of Ontario.

So when she goes on—

Mr. John Yakabuski: Point of order, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Stop the clock, please. I recognize the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke on a point of order.

Mr. John Yakabuski: With all due respect, I’m not a member of the third party but I do look at their motion, and all the gentleman from Beaches–East York wants to talk about is the former member. For goodness’ sakes, could he at least speak to the motion that is before this House today?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I’ll throw that as a caution to the member to keep referring to the motion being debated this afternoon.

Mr. Arthur Potts: Thank you, Speaker. I’d be happy to do so. Of course, as part of the motion, we have to refer to the debate that’s associated with it.

I will continue to talk to the motion because, as the leader of the third party was very clear to point out in her motion, there are these things that she calls the “investigations.” If you look at the record, those are investigations into events that happened prior to the election. I’m not standing in judgment. It’s under the courts. They will take a look, but there haven’t been any convictions under this at the moment. There haven’t been formal charges laid in the last one. We’ll let them do their job. We’re not going to supersede them; we’ll let them do their job.

In her remarks, the leader of the third party talks about emails that “are being destroyed.” How misleading is the statement that they “are being”—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I would ask the member to withdraw, please.

Mr. Arthur Potts: I’ll withdraw.

So the leader of the third party said that these e-mails “are being destroyed” when, in fact, the investigation is to events that happened before June 2014. How you have a continuance into an event that happened in the past, I’ll leave it up to the [inaudible].

She also mentioned very clearly in her motion about the privatization—she quotes Quebec. They wouldn’t privatize power coming from dams in Quebec. We’re not privatizing power generation. Does she even know what Hydro One does? It doesn’t generate power; it transmits power. We were very clear, or Ed Clark was very clear that he didn’t recommend closing the generation of power. He’s recommending the partial sale—the leveraging of assets, if you will—of Hydro One, the transmission part of the utility.

I’ve been disappointed, and I know that people in Beaches–East York are disappointed, that when the leader of the third party comes into my riding with the member from Toronto–Danforth next door and tries to stir up opposition to the Hydro One sale—they get nada. People aren’t out there concerned about it. Even in their own—

Interjection.

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

Mr. Arthur Potts: —because in Beaches–East York they know they’ve lost their way, and for the betterment of the party, I hope they can find it. But for now, we’re happy to take over the—

Mr. Paul Miller: A point of order, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Stop the clock. Point of order. I recognize the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek.

Mr. Paul Miller: I would like to thank the Conservative member for standing up and trying to get the person back on track. It seems he’s slipping away from the bill again and attacking people personally. I think he might want to go back to what we’ve been discussing here. Our leader discussed the pitfalls of the bill—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. I would ask again, for a second time, that the member refer to the bill, and I would appreciate if the member would not make personal attacks on members, whether they be present or former.

Back to the member once again.

Mr. Arthur Potts: Thank you, Speaker. As my remarks were coming to a conclusion—in any event, I would be happy to finish my remarks by saying it’s not going to happen that we’re going to support a motion from the leader of the third party that’s dealing predominantly with ancient history.

We’re moving forward. We’re building Ontario up.

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

Mr. John Yakabuski: I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this motion. Let me begin by saying that I don’t think it would come as a great surprise if I was to say that I and the members of the third party don’t always agree, but, substantially, there are some issues that we have some like views on. In the case of today, I will be wholeheartedly supporting their motion.

I don’t want to waste too much of my time commenting on what the member from Beaches–East York said, but he was completely off the mark and out of line. For him to call this motion that the leader of the third party has put forward—he characterized it as dealing with ancient history. Speaker, nothing in this motion goes beyond the election of this government in 2003. This is their regime: 2003—and particularly, the energy contracts they have signed that have become the most lucrative and the ones that have driven up the price of power the most have been signed by this government under the Green Energy Act since 2009.

This is not a debate about renewable power. We understand the need for clean, green, renewable power. This is a debate about what has gone on within the context of signing the contracts to procure that and other power, and whether or not the Liberal Party should be investigated in an inquiry to determine if there’s a connection between the signing of these contracts, the decisions to sign these contracts and the support from those developers to the Liberal Party. It’s not complicated. Maybe it’s too complicated for the member from Beaches–East York, but it’s not that difficult to understand why they brought forward a motion such as this today.

When we start to read the reports and start to get the documentation on the number of fundraisers that have happened in this province, held by the Liberal Party, with energy contractors—

Hon. James J. Bradley: Didn’t you have one the other night, John?

Mr. John Yakabuski: The member for St. Catharines, I won’t spend too much time debating it. Of course, I had a fundraiser in my riding on Friday night, and I thank the people who attended it.

Hon. James J. Bradley: Did you sing?

Mr. John Yakabuski: I did sing the national anthem; I most certainly did.

We had about 180 people there. It was a hundred dollars a plate. Ullrich’s catering did a marvelous job. It was an absolutely delicious meal. People enjoyed it. But I must say, not a single energy developer looking for a contract managed to make it to my fundraiser, perhaps, I say to the member for St. Catharines, because it was just too darn cheap. We’re giving them value: a hundred bucks and you’re getting fed by Ullrich’s. Come on; you can’t beat it. But I say to the member, had I held a fundraiser for the princely sum of perhaps just under $10,000, I might have had some of those people at my dinner.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: No, you’re not the Minister of Energy.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I’m not the minister; you’re right. I can’t do anything to sign those contracts. I’m opposition. You’ve got to be the minister. But if I was the minister—

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Excuse me.

Stop the clock, please. I have a point of order from the Associate Minister of Health.

Hon. Dipika Damerla: Speaker, I would just ask the member to speak to the motion. I don’t know what fundraising has to do with the motion.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. Back to the member.

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Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you very much, Speaker.

I say to the associate minister that I am speaking to the motion. The motion specifically talks about energy contracts and the connection to the contracts and fundraising by the Liberal Party. The third party is calling for an inquiry to look into that. It’s not enough that we’ve got five OPP investigations into this government; we actually need an inquiry to determine what has gone on with their fundraising activities.

I want to thank Adrian Morrow at the Globe and Mail for exposing some of this. I want you to listen carefully to this, Speaker: The “Liberals Held More Than 90 Cash-for-Access Fundraisers in Two-Year Span.” Ninety.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: How much money did they raise?

Mr. John Yakabuski: They raised $12.5 million. It is no wonder that the Premier is so anxious now to put on the plastic halo and say, “Look at me. I’m going to tighten up all the rules around fundraising for political parties in this province. My bags are full. I can’t carry any more. The bank is sending money back because they haven’t got a vault big enough for it. We’ve just got to somehow hold back; the waterfall is overflowing. We’ve got to build another dam to hold back the money.” And don’t worry: They’ll find an energy contractor to build it. Don’t worry.

Here we are in this kind of environment. Let’s be serious, Speaker. When you think about these energy contracts, the Auditor General said we’ve spent $37 billion more on energy contracts in Ontario than we should have since 2006 under this government. Maybe if I say it slower: $37 billion.

Interjection: With a “B.”

Mr. John Yakabuski: Billion with a “B”, $37 billion; $9.2 billion more just on renewable energy contracts.

It’s not hard to see why. They’ve taken away the autonomy of a municipality that used to be able to decide whether or not somebody could build a development in their community, but they can’t do that anymore. Under the Green Energy Act, the Kathleen Wynne Liberal government is going to make that decision. How much money are they making on these contracts when they’re now able, under the new rules, to get a community to sign on as what you call being supportive of that project—a “willing host,” as they call it? These companies are actually offering those communities, those municipalities, significant financial inducements that, over the term of a contract, will add up to millions of dollars.

I listened intently to every word the leader of the third party was saying, and she was hearkening back to Adam Beck, when he talked about electricity at cost for the people of Ontario. If electricity was at cost, could you be offering inducements of millions of dollars to a municipality to say, “Hey, we’re a welcoming host for your big wind turbines. Come on. Build them here, because we want the cash”? You wouldn’t be able to do that, because you wouldn’t have that kind of profit.

So who signs the contracts with you that allow you to have that kind of profit?

Mr. Paul Miller: The Liberals.

Mr. John Yakabuski: The Liberal government through their agencies the IESO and the OPA, now all rolled into one. The Liberal government, by extension, signs the contract. The developer—yes, I’m looking right at you, Speaker—makes the money, hundreds of millions of dollars; $9.2 billion more on renewables alone than they should have made here in the province of Ontario.

What we have is a government that has said, “We’ll pay you whatever the heck you want.”

Mr. Gilles Bisson: As long as you give us some back.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Well, I’m not saying that. I wouldn’t make that kind of accusation, but I’ll let people connect the dots. I’ll let people connect the dots. “We’ll sign a contract with you for an exorbitant amount of money. Oh, by the way, why don’t you drop by the old club next week? We’ve got a little shindig with the Premier—a nice little intimate get together, probably 20, 25 people.” “Oh, yes, I’d love that. How much is it? A couple of hundred bucks?” “Well, no. It’s $10,000. But what should that matter to you? Look at all the money you’re going to make on this contract.” “Well, I might just be able to make it,” they say. “Well, if you can make it, don’t forget to bring a few of your friends, too.”

So that’s how you get to $9.2 billion and $37 billion. Of course, if none of that is the case, if none of that is true, then I’m quite certain the Premier would have no problem with an inquiry to open the books on every contract, because that’s what I’d like to do. What I’d like to do is open the books. I say this to the Minister of Energy, who is going around the province now saying, “Oh, but the new deals we’re signing, they’re quite competitive. They’re competitive with other forms of generation.” Well, if you look at just one little bit of that contract, it might look so good. But you know the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”? You’ve got to flip open that thing and start to read the pages. Well, it’s the same thing with the contract. You going to have to get into the nitty-gritty, get into the details. When you get into those details on those contracts, I contend that you’re going to find that they’re not any better than the old ones. They’re going to be just as expensive, but they’re just a little bit more cagey, the way they were put together.

But why take my word for it? What would I know? I’ll tell you who does know, or who will know. If we’re able to get together and put together an inquiry—an inquiry that has the power to call witnesses, that has the power to demand documentation, that has the power to do an investigation—they will come back to this chamber with their findings. If it shows that the Liberals have done nothing wrong, I’ll be the first—well, maybe the second—to get up and apologize. But if I’m right, then we’ve got a big problem on our hands.

I’ll tell you what: The Premier is pretty confident; she’s got nothing to risk. I have a feeling that, because of that—she says her hands are as white as the driven snow, that everything is clean over there—they will just support this motion today, we’ll have this public inquiry, and we’ll get to the bottom of it. And when we tour our ridings all across this province, we’ll be able to say to the people, “The Ontario energy contractual system is aboveboard, just like the Liberals said it was.” Right.

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

Mme France Gélinas: Cet après-midi, c’est assez simple : on est en train de débattre pour savoir si on a besoin d’une commission d’enquête pour la façon dont le Parti libéral donne les contrats qui ont lieu avec l’énergie.

Tout a commencé avec les centrales au gaz. Vous vous souvenez : Mississauga, Oakville, il y avait des centrales au gaz qui auraient dû être là et un contrat avait été signé. On a cancellé tout ça et on a refilé la facture à tout le monde en Ontario, une facture de 1,1 milliards de dollars. Donc, cela a mené à la première enquête de la Police provinciale de l’Ontario. Je vous dis « première » parce que vous allez voir qu’il va y en avoir bien d’autres.

En deuxième, ce qui arrive c’est qu’on devait avoir des moulins à vent sur la rive des Grands Lacs. Ça aussi, ça ne plaisait pas trop aux riverains. Une autre élection se passe, le Parti libéral dit : « Ça a bien marché quand on a annulé les centrales au gaz à Mississauga. On a été capable de garder nos sièges. Pourquoi qu’on n’annule pas ces contrats-là? On va être capable de garder nos sièges encore une fois. »

La stratégie a très bien marché. Ils ont cancellé ça et ils ont gardé leur siège. Mais, malheureusement, on est rendu à la deuxième enquête de la police provinciale, parce que les avocats ont dit clairement que le contrat a été annulé pour des raisons politiques—pas pour des raisons qui avaient à faire avec les politiques énergétiques, mais pour des raisons politiques. C’est en cours, et c’est notre deuxième enquête de la police provinciale.

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Arrive après ça la vente d’Hydro One. La vente d’Hydro One, il faut vraiment que les gens comprennent que 85 % des Ontariens et Ontariennes sont contre ça. Il faut également comprendre que dans la plateforme électorale, la première ministre n’en avait jamais parlé. Ils gagnent l’élection et voilà qu’ils ont tellement besoin d’argent pour financer les bévues d’avant qu’ils ont décidé de vendre quelque chose qui ne leur appartient pas. Ça, ce n’est pas correct et c’est ce qui est en train de se passer malgré l’opposition de tous les Ontariens et Ontariennes.

On arrive maintenant aux levées de fonds. Avec les levées de fonds, tout le monde peut le lire dans le Globe and Mail, on voit que 90 levées de fonds ont été faites en 2013 et 2014. On ne sait pas encore combien en 2015, mais j’imagine que ça va être encore beaucoup plus haut que ça. Quatre-vingt-dix levées de fonds en 2013 et on ramasse 12,5 millions de dollars pour le Parti libéral. Mais là, c’est de regarder qui a participé et à quel genre de levée de fonds. Des levées de fonds où on demande 10 000 $ pour avoir accès à un ministre, c’est inconcevable. Il n’y a pas un morceau de poulet qui vaut 10 000 piastres, peu importe comment on vous le présente puis la grosseur de l’assiette. C’est inconcevable.

M. Gilles Bisson: Peut-être que c’est de la dinde.

Mme France Gélinas: Peut-être que c’est de la dinde? Non, il n’y a pas de dinde à 10 000 piastres non plus. C’est évident que ce que les gens achètent avec leur 10 000 $ est l’accès au ministre. Dans une démocratie, ça ne peut pas être. Ça, et je pourrais continuer avec beaucoup d’autres exemples, c’est la raison pour laquelle on demande une commission d’enquête : parce que les gens en Ontario sont au courant de tout ça. Ils sont au courant des centrales au gaz. Ils sont au courant de la vente d’Hydro One. Ils sont au courant des contrats qui ont été annulés et ils sont au courant également des levées de fonds. Ça leur pose de sérieux problèmes.

Mettons les pendules à l’heure, votons en faveur d’une commission d’enquête et comme ça on va mettre tout le monde au courant de ce qui s’est passé. Si tout est beau, on continue. S’il y a eu des bévues, s’il y a eu des sorties de piste, on se reprend et on change les règles.

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

Ms. Ann Hoggarth: I’m very pleased to stand and speak to this motion. I’m proud to provide further clarification on the process for procuring energy in Ontario.

It must be made very clear that neither the Minister of Energy nor the Ministry of Energy or the minister’s office have the ability to influence or decide which contracts get selected. When procuring energy in Ontario, the Independent Electricity System Operator is solely responsible for evaluating proposals and selecting the contract. Again, the ministry, the minister and the minister’s office have zero influence on the selection process. In fact, the Minister of Energy’s office is informed by the IESO which contracts are successful after the proponents are told.

Here in Ontario, our government has made it a priority to ensure that the procurement of energy was done in a fair manner and in the best interests of Ontarians. Our government set a new standard: Energy procurements in Ontario have been run by a third party and overseen by a fairness adviser for many years, beginning with the Ontario Power Authority and continuing with the IESO. Standard offer procurements, including the Feed-In Tariff contract, used an evaluation monitor who provided this same oversight role.

What this means is that when our province decides to procure energy, it is based on the needs and criteria outlined in the widely consulted and publicly available long-term energy plan. This ensures that energy contracts are decided in a completely arm’s-length and non-political way. To ensure fair and objective evaluation, the IESO employs a fairness adviser to provide even further oversight. Look at the latest renewable procurement process administered by the Independent Electricity System Operator, which is completely arm’s-length and non-political.

This process was also overseen by an external fairness adviser. The fairness adviser, whose role it is to act “as a neutral, disinterested and independent ... adviser of the procurement process,” published a report on March 10, 2016, following the announcement of the contracts. This report is available at the IESO website.

In this report, the fairness adviser said, “We are satisfied that the evaluation of the proposals was conducted strictly in accordance with the process set out in the ... RFP. We detected no bias or favouritism towards or against any particular proponent.”

The adviser’s 28-page report was very thorough and the adviser’s conclusion is: “Overall, we are satisfied that the ... RFP procurement process was conducted in a fair, open and transparent manner and that the IESO took all steps necessary to meet all procurement practices related to fairness, openness and transparency.”

When speaking about energy contracts, I think that beyond the process it is important to highlight what has been achieved. The latest announcement of the IESO’s renewable energy procurement is a significant achievement for Ontario’s energy system. It is the result of years of hard work to develop a process that could enable renewable energy generation at competitive prices across this province. By putting emphasis on price and support of host communities, these results put further downward pressure on the electricity price projections in Ontario’s long-term energy plan.

I don’t find any fault with any of this process and I do believe that fair process is the way it should be. But the opposition, I’d have to say—it’s just like saying that the opposition who put forth a motion to stop the raising of cigarette prices were influenced by the fact that they got a donation from a tobacco company. Is that true? Thank you.

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

Mr. Robert Bailey: It’s a pleasure to rise today in the Legislature and speak to the opposition day motion put forward by the member from Hamilton Centre. The member is asking for this Legislature to put its support behind calling for a public inquiry on the awarding and management of public contracts in the energy industry. This is something that I know the residents in my riding of Sarnia–Lambton will support. I believe that, in fact, most residents in Ontario would support a public inquiry into how this government has conducted business and managed the energy file in Ontario.

It will, of course, be very interesting to see how the members of the government will decide to vote on this motion. If the Premier and her ministers have nothing to hide, they won’t run from a public inquiry. For the sake of restoring the public’s trust in government, the Premier should do the right thing and throw her support behind a public inquiry. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening because, as the motion says, “there are deeply concerning questions about the conduct of the Liberal government in respect of energy contracts.” That is putting it nicely, Mr. Speaker.

I support this motion and the call for a public inquiry on the rewarding of energy contracts because the province’s energy file and the management of the energy file by the government continues, to this day, to be the biggest source of calls, emails and complaints to my office in Sarnia–Lambton. Hardly a day goes by without a constituent commenting to me or my staff that they can’t understand what this government is doing with the Ontario energy sector or why they continue to make decisions that make energy more expensive for them.

We are hearing from more and more people who are being cut off by their power company because they have fallen so far behind on their payments. There is nothing else that can be done to keep their accounts active. As the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke said, there is $9.4 million more just in renewables, and they take pride in this.

It irritates me to no end. I drive the 403 and the 402 to get to Queen’s Park every week, and I have to drive through these monstrosities, these monoliths on the skyline. I think about it every day. That’s not in my notes but irritates me to no end. I think if the Liberal backbenchers in rural Ontario—some of them are not here now, but if they just stood up and spoke to the McGuinty government and to this government that’s here today and said, “We don’t want these. We’ll sit as independents, or we’ll cross the floor.” If they had had the intestinal fortitude to do that, I don’t think that we’d have seen those windmills in Ontario. That’s just a personal rant of mine, because I have to drive by them all the time.

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A perfect example of this paradox occurred just a few days ago on May 1. I’m upset now. That was the day that the Ontario Energy Board said that energy rates would have to increase in Ontario because, during the past winter, Ontario residents managed to conserve too much energy. The average consumer’s energy bill will increase approximately $37.56. Since November 2015, hydro bills have increased an average of $186.96 a year. That means more money from families and seniors going to pay for basic necessities like light and heat for no reason other than that this government has managed—actually, mismanaged—the energy file and has put its own political agenda, and possibly its party’s agenda, ahead of what is best for the people of Ontario.

What we are left with is an Ontario energy system that can be summed up like this: If you use too much energy, you pay more; if you conserve energy, you pay more. People are justifiably confused. Are people in Ontario supposed to conserve energy or are they supposed to use more energy so their hydro rates won’t go up?

At the same time that my office is taking calls from seniors and families who can no longer afford the cost of energy to heat their homes, we’re reading reports in the media of lavish $5,000- and $10,000-per-plate fundraising dinners being hosted by the Premier and the Minister of Energy. My Liberal colleagues say, “Oh, there’s no connection.” Well, why the heck would someone pay $5,000 to $10,000 per person in the energy business if there was no connection between the minister and the Premier being there? I don’t know. I come from small-town Ontario, and that’s not the way we think down there.

Interjection: That’s why they’ve got a quota.

Mr. Robert Bailey: Yes, they’ve got a quota; that’s right.

Serious allegations have been raised in the media as to the conduct of this government, and the perception is growing that it may have turned doing government business into money-making for the Ontario Liberal Party. I know that people in Sarnia–Lambton feel as if they can no longer trust this government to act with integrity.

The sale of Hydro One is a good example of the government putting its short-term gain ahead of the long-term interests of the people of Sarnia–Lambton. The Premier and the Minister of Finance have proceeded with the fire sale of Hydro One despite opposition from 185 municipalities, including the city of Sarnia and Lambton county, and nearly 80% of Ontarians.

The Financial Accountability Officer projects that selling Hydro One will make the province’s fiscal situation worse than if they didn’t sell. People in Sarnia–Lambton are wondering: Why, then, is this government pushing ahead with such an unpopular idea?

Why does this government think that they know best? I’ve been here almost 10 years now, and there’s no end to it. I can’t believe the hypocrisy of this government every day.

Interjections.

Mr. Robert Bailey: No, I mean this. I see it. I’ll be honest; I don’t see why—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I ask the member to withdraw.

Mr. Robert Bailey: What did I say? All right, I withdraw whatever I said.

Anyway, I’ll get back to my script. I’d better stick to my script here. Was this an idea that was put forward or discussed at one of the incredibly pricey dinners—maybe you won’t want to hear this—hosted by the Premier or the Minister of Finance? Was it a move to show a short-term reduction in deficit numbers at the expense of a predictable $700 million a year in annual revenue in future years?

We had a meeting with someone earlier this week, and they said that they’re going to have to earn two and a half times the revenue to make up for this sale. This individual, who’s a lot more intelligent than most of us in this room, said that they can’t do it.

Similar questions come to mind—how much time do I have?

Mr. Bill Walker: Two minutes.

Mr. Robert Bailey: Oh, okay. Similar questions come to mind when I read the news that seven renewable energy companies that donated more than a quarter of a million dollars to the Ontario Liberal Party over the last few years all received contracts from this government during the last round of renewable procurement.

In Lambton county, which is an unwilling host—unwilling, to all of you over there—for industrial wind turbines, people have serious questions about if the procurement is fair and transparent. Does local input actually matter to the Minister of Energy when awarding contracts?

All of these questions reinforce the need for a public inquiry into the awarding and management of public contracts that fall within the energy portfolio. I support this motion and will be voting in favour.

I hope that the members on the other side of the House will listen for once. Don’t listen to the talking points from the corner office on the second floor in the Premier’s office; represent your own constituents for once. They’re getting these high hydro bills. You know it’s not right. Go out and do the right thing when you get the opportunity.

If they support the motion and the Premier calls a public inquiry into the handling and management of public energy contracts, it will go a long way to restoring a sense of trust in this government. Right now, too many people who contact my office don’t trust this government. I hear it every day. Honest to God, every day when I go to a public event back home, I hear more complaints about this government and this Premier than the former government and the former Premier. I’m not exaggerating. They don’t trust that what’s happening in Ontario right now is going to help the province and the people who live here to succeed and thrive in years to come. This is a major concern for me.

I hope that the members can demonstrate, by supporting this motion, that the future of this great province is a concern of theirs as well.

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

Ms. Catherine Fife: I’m very pleased to be speaking to our opposition day motion today. The reason that this motion is before you is because the people of this province deserve some justice, and they will only get justice when they get answers. Going forward, we need to make sure that there aren’t further scandals associated with the energy file.

I want to quote from a couple of recent articles. This one is Kelly McParland: “Smart Meters, Another Botched Program on Ontario’s Long List of Power Boondoggles.” The author writes that Ontarians “ran out of patience and trust in a government that has thoroughly botched the energy file since the day it took office more than 11 years ago.

“There really are too many disasters to recount them all....

“The result of these and so many other boondoggles and fiascos is that the Liberals’ credibility when it comes to energy is less than zero. Take just one example, the ‘smart meter’ program that is at the heart” of the problem here. “The government told Ontarians it would cost $1 billion to introduce the meters”—you remember that, Mr. Speaker—“but they would eventually pay for themselves by making it possible to adjust rates and encourage conservation. Instead, as Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported in December, the meters cost $2 billion and have had little if any impact. Only 5% of utilities reported savings, and only 2% to 5% of use has been shifted to cheaper times.

“Not only are they a failure, but the roll-out was a comedy act,” this author writes, “with one bungle after another. The benefits, estimated at $600 million over 15 years, were off by about $510 million (or 85%)....

“Ontarians thus have every right to assume the people in charge at Queen’s Park haven’t the remotest clue how to deal with energy policy. Indeed, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli responded to Ms. Lysyk’s report by suggesting she wasn’t smart enough to understand the energy business, despite having spent a decade at Manitoba Hydro.”

That was the response. It is this flippant response to very serious issues that has prompted our party to come forward and bring this motion to the floor of the Legislature. When you read this motion and it contains the five OPP anti-rackets squad investigations—it boggles the mind that this government has run this province in this manner, and has wilfully done so.

Once again, I must quote, because the numbers keep me up at night: the “Auditor General announced that, between 2006 and 2014, thanks to incompetence and mismanagement on the part of the province’s Liberal government, Ontarians overpaid for electricity to the tune of $37 billion. And over the next 18 years, consumers will be overpaying to the tune of another $133 billion.”

When are the people going to see justice? How are we ever going to recover from the direction that the energy file has gone in this province?

There is no doubt that the Liberal Party has put their interests first and the people’s second. The only way that they will get justice is if this motion passes on the floor of this Legislature and we have a public inquiry on the awarding and management of public contracts in the energy industry. Every Liberal should vote for it if they have nothing to be ashamed of. Vote for this today.

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

Mr. John Fraser: Mr. Speaker, it’s a—I’m not going to say it’s a pleasure to speak to this motion today. I took a look at the motion before it was read out and then I listened to it. I describe it as a kitchen sink motion: everything but the kitchen sink. In the Catholic church, I think we call it a litany.

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Interjections.

Mr. John Fraser: I see I’ve excited a few members on the other side. Maybe I’d be kinder if I said it was a spaghetti motion—not the same kind of spaghetti at Barberian’s tonight, but another kind of spaghetti that you throw up against the wall and you see what sticks.

I did listen very closely to the leader of the third party’s remarks, which were not unlike what I would expect the remarks from the leader of the third party to be. I listened very closely to the line of her argument and what the cornerstone of her debate was all about. What it really was—

Laughter.

Mr. John Fraser: No, I mean it.

The cornerstone was that Liberals are corrupt. That’s what she’s saying. I disagree with that. I think it’s wrong. I think we are having some—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I’d ask the member to withdraw.

Mr. John Fraser: I withdraw.

Interjection: What are you withdrawing?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: You called the Liberals corrupt. How dare you?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I would ask the member from Timmins–James Bay to withdraw.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I certainly do, Speaker. I withdraw.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Back to the member from Ottawa South.

Mr. John Fraser: I’m going to try to avoid the duelling withdrawals here.

I’m hopeful that the leader of the third party will see the light and work with us on election fundraising reform. We’ve had the co-operation of all the other parties in the House. I think that’s a very important point to make in this debate, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to say a few words about some of the things the leader of the third party spoke about in her opening speech on the motion, in terms of hydro.

It was interesting this morning. We got to pay tribute to a great parliamentarian from the other side, Leo Jordan. When we were going through some of the things to talk about in his tribute, I pulled out that quote about 1994 this morning. The profit for Hydro One was—

Interjection.

Mr. John Fraser: I don’t think it’s inappropriate, thank you very much.

The member said, “Do you know what? They haven’t addressed the debt issue.” So if we want to roll back a little bit on hydro, let’s remember where we came from. Where we came from was a massive debt, a massive infrastructure debt, insufficient supply—

Interjection.

Mr. John Fraser: Bear with me. It’s not bigger right now; trust me. Where we’re at right now is less debt, a greater supply of power.

The challenge is that when you’re building a power system, you’re building a complex, big system, and you’re basing that on your economic output. You just don’t build something three weeks later. After you decide to build it, it takes years, sometimes decades. So you try to plan your power that way. It’s a complex system that exists inside North America. What you have to be able to do is balance your output so that your system works. The member opposite would know that the requirement of Hydro to off-load power at times is as a result of trying to balance that system. I would rather be in the situation of an oversupply than an undersupply, which is where we were at.

I would also like to remind the member opposite that the province of Manitoba and the province of Quebec both have significant, enormous hydroelectric power possibilities. We don’t have those same things in Ontario. We rely, for 50%—

Interjections.

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

Mr. John Fraser: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

We rely on nuclear power for clean, green energy. That’s a major difference in terms of our price structure and our costing, and we need to have that, and we need to have energy security and to produce our own energy and not rely on competing jurisdictions.

I want to say that I think the motion is not one I would not expect coming from the opposition. I’m disappointed in it. I think it’s wrong-headed, and I won’t be supporting it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate? I recognize the member from—

Mr. Bill Walker: Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound.

Mr. Bill Walker: That will cost you some day, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you very much—a pleasure to speak to this opposition day motion by the NDP.

In summary, what they are asking for is: “In the opinion of this House, Ontario should establish a public inquiry on the awarding and management of public contracts in the energy industry.” I certainly support that.

Former MPP and Liberal Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan said, “As Minister of Finance you are in a portfolio where people want to see you, and they’ll pay for it.” Former MPP and Liberal finance minister Greg Sorbara admits there is a perception in Ontario that the campaign financing system is flawed: “I think the model is old, it’s time for a change,” he told the CBC.

I just want to get it on record here that, back in October 2015, I presented a private member’s bill to actually change third-party advertising, and the entire caucus of the Liberal Party voted against it, including the Premier. Yet today they want to fix the supposed issue that isn’t there. They’re saying there is no issue, but yet they want to bring legislation forward.

Today, I’m going to talk about the energy policy by the Liberal Party for the Liberal Party. Simply put, it’s unaffordable for families and businesses. A $1,400 average hike in annual bills—we have the fastest bill increases of any electricity customers in North America since this Liberal regime took power. The high rates are also hurting public institutions, schools, hospitals and long-term-care homes, all of whom are reporting that hydro rates are eating up their budgets and forcing them to make cuts to services at the front line. The public is starting to hear this, at the end of the day.

Massive subsidies were promised in 2009 by the Liberals for new green economy jobs and a wide range of economic opportunities. Instead, the Green Energy Act has sucked $2 billion out of the treasury by way of subsidies, has eliminated some 300,000 manufacturing jobs and, sadly, has tripled energy rates. Subsidies to wind could hit $8 billion over the next decade and $13 billion over the next 20 years. Samsung, which posted $217 billion in revenue last year, is expected to triple its wind capacity in Ontario, and the subsidies that go along with it, in the next couple of years. Thank you, George Smitherman.

The global adjustment is now over $1 billion. Damage to the ratepayers for such policies has been significant, and even, I think, from the Liberals, if they’re honest, undeniable.

It saddens me when I talk to my constituents back in Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound and really get into this file, and they learn through us that, actually, we pay other jurisdictions—that there’s still this anomaly out there that people believe we give our power away. No, it’s even worse: We actually pay jurisdictions in the United States and Quebec to take our surplus power, which makes them doubly competitive against our manufacturing industry. It’s no doubt why those manufacturers are leaving Ontario for other jurisdictions.

The demand has fallen by 10% as businesses flee the province’s high rates. We’re paying generators to sit idle in an effort to limit the power. Spilled power, if you will, has increased by 88% between 2013 and 2015—enough to power 330,000 homes last year. Yet the Liberal government in our great province has signed up for another 2,700 megawatts of wind on top of the 3,065 megawatts already in commercial operation. Let’s not forget: Both wind and solar are intermittent sources of power. There’s not one person over there—although I trust, perhaps, that the Minister of the Environment may tell us he can control the wind and the sun. But, Mr. Speaker, we all know that is not the truth. Half a billion dollars a year that we actually pay others to take our surplus, and yet we’re putting more onto the grid.

It’s a bonanza for the energy companies, but a loss for the ratepayers. Sixty households in my riding of Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound had their hydro shut off in the fall of 2014. Soaring prices also saw the local United Way bail out families for $300,000 in hydro bills. This is not a good situation, and it’s getting worse all the time.

The Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce’s most recent report warned that one in 20 businesses expect to shut down in the next five years due to electricity prices—sorry, that’s chambers across Ontario.

The Auditor General suggests that we are going to overpay. We, as the taxpayers, will overpay—not the Liberal government; we, as taxpayers, who actually pay the freight—by $133 billion over the term of the FIT program. They’ve overcharged already by $37 billion, and the Liberal mistakes will actually cost us, as I’ve just said, $133 billion by 2023.

She also said that we’ve been bilked out of $9.2 billion for the Liberal government’s green energy program. This is in stark contrast to the Liberal government’s promise that industrial scale wind and solar power would come at minimal cost to Ontarians and would increase their bills by about 1%. This was the actual quote and promise used by both former Premier Dalton McGuinty and his then energy minister, George Smitherman.

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Mr. Speaker, to put a little more flavour in here—because we’ve talked about this ad nauseam, although the Liberals won’t listen to us—I’m going to put a little bit of a spin on it. This is almost 50 shades of green. Liberals have the whip in their hand. The only buy-in required to set up a wind project anywhere in Ontario is one from the Liberal Party. A municipality has no way to stop an industrial wind project even if they declare their community an “unwilling host.”

My colleague from Elgin–Middlesex–London—Dutton Dunwich didn’t want it and ended up with them, and down the road where they actually had a willing host community, they didn’t end up with theirs. One hundred municipalities, mostly rural and in our PC ridings, passed motions to declare their communities as non-willing hosts, but again were snubbed by this government.

Wind power projects are cancelled only at the whim of the Liberal Party’s secret circle of advisers—Mike Crawley, a former Liberal Party president, was also chief of International Power Canada, a wind development—and have been cancelled in Liberal-held ridings. In your riding, I believe, Mr. Speaker, if I’m not mistaken. One such is now being investigated by the OPP for allegedly destroying records around these decisions.

Mr. Speaker, it’s shades of greed. The government has provided renewable energy contracts to seven wind companies who had donated a quarter of a million to Liberal Party coffers. Three wind companies who hadn’t donated to the Liberal Party did not receive a single contract.

The point is, the average taxpayer can’t win with the Liberals unless you have $6,000 to spare, or $10,000 for a ticket for one-to-one access to the Premier and her Minister of Energy. In the words of one of my constituents, Jeffrey Sicard, “In two years, under the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne, our family has reduced daily average hydro consumption by as much as 37%, yet our bill has increased by as much as 38% and we pay as much as 56% in fees and taxes. I ask, when will this insanity end?”

The Liberals have forgotten to respect the opinions of Ontarians after 13 years in government. That much is clear from the way they treat the good people of this province. A prime example is that 85% of the people of Ontario, when polled, say they don’t want them to sell off Hydro One. And guess what, Mr. Speaker? They continue down that road.

It’s short-term gain for long-term pain, in spite of evidence from the Financial Accountability Officer—their officer—that this sale will not build infrastructure and will increase the deficit, and in spite of opposition from 185 municipalities, including my great riding of Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, and this includes municipalities of Owen Sound, Meaford, Hanover, Grey Highlands, West Grey, Chatsworth, Georgian Bluffs and Southgate, all who voted against the sale of Hydro One. The Ontario public did not support the fire sale and still does not support the sale.

My constituent Richard Lip writes, “The Liberals must reconsider its plans. They did not campaign on a platform to privatize hydro and need to be held accountable for their decision to act against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Ontarians.”

Another constituent, Helen King of Owen Sound, said, “Rate increases discourage any new industry from coming to Ontario and will likely be the cause of higher unemployment due to industry relocating out of this province. This is equivalent to me selling my car so that I can pay my hydro bill, and then having no means of getting to work to earn a living. Once the money is gone, there is no way to generate more. Wynne should be replaced with someone that has common sense.”

Steven Cole concluded, “They need that hydro sale money desperately to pay the debt and avoid public embarrassment and financial complication of a long, looming debt payment default.”

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, we’ve got so many things that I could still talk about, but we want to have a call for an inquiry. I support the NDP’s opposition day motion, and I will turn it over to my colleague to finish my debate.

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

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I have a couple of minutes to talk about this very important motion. Really, Speaker, what this motion does is that it gives this Liberal government an opportunity.

If you look at it like an opportunity, it gives them and the Premier an opportunity to actually clear their conscience. It gives this Liberal government an opportunity to be accountable and transparent. It gives you a way out, because we are asking for this public inquiry on behalf of Ontarians who have questions about these energy contracts. It’s extremely reasonable, what we’re asking, and we’re giving you a way to clear your conscience, to clear the air.

The Premier had promised to do things differently, Speaker. Here’s your opportunity. Let’s have some transparency and accountability. That’s what people are looking for from a government. I hate to say this, but you have failed on that mark. You have let people down. If you’re listening to the people in your riding, they are telling you—I know they’re telling all of us here, Speaker. They’re calling us and they’re saying, “We want this government to be accountable for their actions.”

This is a way out. Here’s the motion from our leader. It’s a very reasonable motion. It’s laid out very clearly. It gives you a step-by-step, reasonable argument as to why a public inquiry is needed. Being an MPP in this Legislature, this would actually restore my faith in government and in democracy. That’s what this motion is trying to do: It’s trying to restore the faith of the people of Ontario in this government. We’re doing you a favour.

Vote for this motion. Help yourselves. Help the people of Ontario. Put faith back into this government and put democracy back in this Legislature.

I hope that this government will support this motion. Thank you to the leader of the New Democrats for bringing this forward.

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

Hon. Glen R. Murray: When you look at global rankings of democracies for integrity and honesty, the government of Canada and its provinces rank about the highest in the world.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Your government is at the bottom of the barrel.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: This is what the NDP have become: the denigration of democracy.

We have accountability. We have parliamentary budgetary officers. We have Environmental Commissioners. We have—

Interjections.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: They don’t listen much. They like democracy because they like to talk. They just don’t like to listen. Mr. Speaker, you will notice that these great socialists—people who are not arrogant and who love to listen—can’t stop talking when a Liberal gets up. You’ll notice that when they spoke, we listened carefully to what they said. So I think they’ve just skewered their own credibility on that.

Let’s look at what has happened here. We have—and you talk to your parents or your grandparents—a democracy here that is the envy of the world, human rights legislation that’s the envy of the world. We hold the confidence and trust of the people of Ontario, because we have to earn it in an election. It’s a little special—

Mr. John Yakabuski: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Can we stop the clock?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Stop the clock, please.

Excuse me.

Point of order: I recognize the member from Renfrew.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Speaker, I read this motion very carefully. It doesn’t say anything about the history of democracy, which the Minister of the Environment seems to want to talk about. Maybe he’d like to respond.

The member for London–Fanshawe said there are very good reasons to restore faith in this democracy—

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

Mr. John Yakabuski: Perhaps he could speak to it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you. I listened intently.

Back to the Minister of the Environment, please.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Thanks very much, Mr. Speaker. The entire premise of the last speaker was that, somehow, this is really to restore faith in democracy. I’m challenging the basic premise.

When I worked at the Canadian Urban Institute, I worked around the world and I worked in places where democracy is broken, corrupt. To actually make the outrageous statements that these folks make about a democracy that people have died for for generations, and a very strong election, is just the level of hyperbole and nonsense that often goes on around here—

Mr. Paul Miller: Speaker, a point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Excuse me.

It’s not a point of order. Back to the minister, please.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I guess I’ve struck a nerve, Mr. Speaker.

Let’s look at what has happened. We have rebuilt the transmission system with $8 billion. When I was mayor of Winnipeg, and to be fair—

Mr. Paul Miller: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Excuse me. We have a point of order now that the member is in his chair.

I recognize the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek.

Mr. Paul Miller: With all due respect to the minister, for him to say that people fought and died for democracy—I’m offended. My father and his two brothers were in World War II—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. That’s not a point of order.

Minister, before you stand and before we start the clock, I recognize that this can be somewhat of a contentious motion. I appreciate healthy debate. There are certain individuals, I know, who can perhaps—I’ll use my own term—incite a riot in here. I’m going to ask that we exercise caution in not so much what we say, but how we say it, so that we don’t infuriate emotions within members of the opposition. I don’t want to have to go ahead and say, “Go ahead and make my day.”

Minister, back to you.

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Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, it’s very, very helpful that you’re reminding us this isn’t a race to the bottom. I have never in my remarks suggested a motive or any misdoings by any of the members opposite. I have fundamentally disagreed with their position and have been very tolerant when motives have been ascribed to some of us in cabinet here that are rather unfair.

The $8 billion we’ve invested in transmission lines was historic. To be fair to the NDP, they have some integrity on this, in the following sense: If you look at how your party in government—which I supported when I lived in Manitoba—invested in transmission and maintained the hydroelectric system, they did a very good job, and they’re to be credited for it. We unfortunately took over from a party that had massively disinvested. As a matter of fact, we’re spending $13 billion a year now on infrastructure. Under the last government, it was as little as $1 billion or $2 billion. How was that reflected? One of the largest areas in which that was reflected was in the fact that our transmission lines—as someone has said, if they were apples, they would have been rotting on the tree.

I remember the reports because when we were rebuilding our municipal hydro utility and dams and transmission, I remember the studies coming onto my desk as mayor of Winnipeg, pointing out the grave level of underinvestment in Ontario and the infrastructure deficit that was happening year after year.

One of the big things that has driven costs has been the massive investment—over $8 billion—just to repair our transmission lines. That was not adding one kilometre of power connection.

The second thing is that we were going through a restructuring of hydro, when I was mayor in Winnipeg, at the same time that there was a restructuring going on here in Ontario. They were very different. We were working on the consolidation of a public utility, which I know my friends in the third party would also agree with. There was a massive deregulation, privatization, and stranded assets being created here which involved well over $20 billion—

Hon. Ted McMeekin: It’s $23 billion.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: —$23 billion, my experienced friend from Ancaster–Dundas–Flamborough–Westdale reminds me. We inherited that problem.

I remember my friend Ann Mulvale in Oakville, who was the president of AMO. She and I went for lunch, and she was just going through what she called the rate crisis at that time of what was going to have to happen to rates in Ontario over the next 20 years as a result of those kinds of things.

I think there are a lot of things that we agree on with the third party. I just think that this extended hyperbole is a bit problematic.

The other thing is, our big priority on this side of the House was to decarbonize the electricity system, which we’ve largely done, and that was the biggest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions: closing coal plants and introducing into this aged transmission system the challenge of bringing solar on and bringing wind on—

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Stop the clock. A point of order: I recognize the member from Windsor–Tecumseh.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: I have great respect for the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. I listened to him talk about being the former mayor of Winnipeg 10 times, and getting rid of the coal-burning plants. It has got absolutely nothing to do with the motion that is supposed to be under debate on the floor this afternoon.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. Back to you, Minister.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

The suggestion that somehow all of that work, all of those contracts were mishandled is really problematic to me. I don’t agree with that.

It was interesting. We hear about gas plants. I don’t think I’ve heard a speech in this House from an opposition member that hasn’t had the words “gas plant” in it. It’s so incredibly tiresome. Mr. Speaker, do you know what? One of the reasons I think this is problematic is because in that election, both opposition parties committed to cancelling gas plants.

Mr. Vic Dhillon: “Done, done, done.”

Hon. Glen R. Murray: “Done, done, done.” I remember the videos. I remember them because I was a candidate in that election.

I’m amazed. I don’t know what they were going to do—have a bake sale to pay for it? Use Monopoly money? I don’t know. But we were the only people who had numbers out there, and they criticized our numbers but they produced nothing. During the election campaign, it was a free lunch—but it’s the sense of the difference about maybe why we win some of these elections and they don’t is that we’re prepared to take responsibility for our decisions and we’re not obsessed with process.

If you recognize that in the world right now, having the complexity of an energy system that was reliant on nuclear power, which is a challenging area right now with refurbishment—that’s a very expensive path to go down. With redistributive energy, we’re looking at a very challenging future in that area and closing coal plants. We did this during the worst recession in the history of this country since the Great Depression. The complexity of this was extraordinarily difficult.

I think my friends in the third party remember being in power when we had a huge economic downturn, not of their fault. It was Bob Rae and many of my friends over there—Frances Lankin and others. That was a hard time to be in government, and we have some empathy, I think, with each other about what it’s like when the global economy flips and puts Ontario’s industrial base at risk. We provide a philosophy of hopefulness in that. When I was at the World Bank, everyone I talked to looked to Ontario. They said, “It’s amazing what you’re doing right now. You’ve closed coal plants. You’ve introduced green energy. You’ve played a leadership role in this. You’re conducting yourself in an amazing way on the international stage.”

Now, on the carbon-pricing issue, which is another area where we have worked well with the third party—I try to be as kind as I can to my friends over there, because generally I think they’re a very likable bunch of people with good intentions and good principles, and I actually enjoy working with them. I think there is a lot less that separates us. But I always find that when we get into these process things where we can’t seem to deal with actually working towards a powerful vision of the future and implementing something bigger, I find it quite disappointing. I won’t use any stronger language than that.

We do disagree on some things. The inclusion of a broadened-ownership group with Hydro One is a solution of taking capital from an asset which has less public utility, pardon the pun, and putting it into things like transit which are in great demand. At a time when the limitations to raise revenues are limited and the ability to borrow money is limited, you need to do these kinds of things. We can have an honest disagreement about that, but to my friend from Windsor–Tecumseh, who I also respect, who has brought an elevated debate here and I hold in quite high regard: It’s not necessary to ascribe terrible things to people’s motives.

I’m not a wealthy person. I’ve never made a penny in politics outside of my paycheque, and my character is important to me. I work with 107 very honest people in here and I hold all members of the third party in that group. I don’t think people come here untoward, but this idea of suggesting that somehow when you meet with someone, or take a meeting with them or have a fundraiser, which all of us do, that somehow you’ve compromised your integrity and your character—well, I’ve had a lot of careers and I’ve been accused of making mistakes, and I’ve made some in my life, but I have always conducted myself in a way that would make my family proud, and lived that.

What bothers me most is that when you can’t just disagree on something like Hydro One, you have to attack people’s motives and assassinate their character. I find that most disappointing. I haven’t heard the member for Windsor–Tecumseh do that, and I hope that becomes infectious because there are a number of people, including the member from Toronto–Danforth, who actually don’t have to get in the mud to make a point.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate? I recognize the member from—it’s just one of those days.

Interjection: Prince Edward–Hastings.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Prince Edward–Hastings. Thank you.

Mr. Todd Smith: It’s a pleasure to join the debate this afternoon on this NDP opposition day motion, which really strikes at the heart of the problem with the Liberal government in Ontario these days: Nobody trusts this government. There are a lot of reasons why nobody trusts this government, but the biggest reason right now is there are five—count them, five—OPP investigations into this government, many of them dealing with the subject matter that is in the opposition day motion put forward by the leader of third party.

Let’s walk back to June 2011. There was an election that was in the offing. There were a number of seats that were possibly in a precarious position in the Scarborough area. There was an offshore wind project that was being proposed by Trillium wind power, which is one of the scandals that we’re dealing with in the Legislature and that the OPP are investigating this government on now: the deletion of documents related to the cancellation of that offshore wind project in Lake Ontario.

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June 2011: The Minister of Energy comes from Scarborough. A decision is made, just before the election, to cancel these offshore wind projects. Not one red cent came from Trillium wind power, so they had no problem cutting ties with this company to save Liberal seats in Scarborough.

Let’s fast-forward to the election campaign, Mr. Speaker. There were a couple of very controversial gas plants that were planned just to the west of Toronto, in Oakville and Mississauga. In the middle of the election campaign—not even before—the Premier announced he was cancelling the Mississauga plant to save not one, not two, not three, but five Liberal seats. It was only going to cost $40 million, though, according to members of the Liberal government. It ended up costing the taxpayers of Ontario over $1 billion to cancel the gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville.

People in Prince Edward–Hastings are saying to me every day, “Mr. Smith, why is my electricity bill going through the roof?” Do you want to know why? It’s because these Liberals are more worried about their own hides than they are about the people of Ontario, and that’s a fact. The $1 billion-plus used to cancel the gas plants in Mississauga—and when Trillium power is successful in its lawsuit, that’s going to go on your hydro bill as well. The people of Ontario are footing the bill so that these Liberals can save their own hides—their own seats—in election campaigns.

But more than that—let’s go on; there’s more—they decide to sell off Hydro One. They didn’t run on that in any election, but they decide to sell off Hydro One. The syndicate that put together the Hydro One initial public offering, the IPO, made $29 million on that deal. Then we learned about these little soirees with the finance minister and the Minister of Energy that rake in $165,000 for the Liberal Party, and you wonder why people continue to wonder if this government is on the up and up? It’s because of stories like that, or because of the story that was front-page in the Globe and Mail today, where we learned there wasn’t just a handful of these private soirees; there have been 98 of these private soirees raking in $13.5 million between when this Premier took office and the end of 2014. That doesn’t even count the gold rush that’s been going on in 2015-16. They’ve been raking in millions and millions of dollars in these pay-to-play soirees, and they’ve been exposed by the members of the media. That’s why people are skeptical about the intentions of this government. The people of Ontario are paying the soaring electricity bills, not these guys. Meanwhile, the Liberal Party is benefiting to the tune of millions of dollars.

Earlier this the year, we learned about a special little soiree with the Minister of Energy where he had eight people. Eight people showed up and paid almost $7,000 apiece for this little dinner, Mr. Speaker. And do you know what? I’m just going to bet that every one of those companies has a power project somewhere in Ontario that’s bringing them in millions of dollars. That’s why we need a public inquiry in Ontario. That’s why we need to support this motion today. And if these guys actually believe they are snow white, that they’ve done nothing wrong, then they will agree with this motion put forward by the third party today. If they believe they’ve done nothing wrong, then they’ll agree to this.

I had to laugh when the member from Barrie was speaking earlier. She said, “All these decisions, when it comes to power, aren’t made by the Liberal Party. They’re made by what used to be the OPA or the IESO. Those decisions are made by them.”

She wasn’t here during the gas plant scandal, when it became very clear that the Liberal government is the one making these decisions. They’re the ones who admitted—the Premier herself—her Premier—admitted that these decisions were being made for political reasons. So if she thinks that we’re naive enough to think that they’re not the ones making the decisions—we’re not falling for it. The evidence is out there. It needs to come out in a public inquiry.

I had to laugh because the Minister of the Environment was speaking just a few minutes ago and contradicted everything that the member from Barrie had said earlier when it comes to who is making these decisions. They’re not on the same page at all when it comes to the various scandals that are going on.

Do you know what? At the end of the day, I’m going to put it to them like this: The NDP and the Progressive Conservatives believe that there should be an inquiry. Why doesn’t the Liberal government believe that there should be an inquiry? All evidence is pointing to a public inquiry into how this has all taken place.

I’ll leave the rest of the time for my friend from Kitchener–Conestoga.

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

Ms. Jennifer K. French: I’m pleased to be able to weigh in on the NDP opposition day motion calling for the establishment of a public inquiry on the awarding and management of public contracts in the energy industry. We’ve certainly had a very enthusiastic debate so far today, which is great.

I’m going to take us back in time a little bit and remind us about Sir Adam Beck and how this conversation first started. It was about power at cost. It was about power for the people. It was about power for the public and power for business.

But this is a government that doesn’t actually want the public to have any power. And I would say that it’s not just about electricity and that kind of power; it’s about democratic voice and involvement in committees, anything—any kind of public power, this government wants to keep for themselves.

Also, Sir Adam Beck wanted to keep hydro safe. He wanted to keep it from the politicians. He wanted to keep it safe from the politicians. In fact, even on his deathbed, he talked about wishing that he could have built a fence to keep it safe and protected from partisan politics. And yet, here we are. We watched this government doing away with all of that good, solid work for power and for the people—for their own political purposes, it would seem.

We’ve heard today that the government is ignorant of the will of the people, but I would say that it isn’t ignorant, Mr. Speaker, in their defence. I’d say it is blatant disregard. I would say that there isn’t anyone in this Legislature who is ignorant of the will of the people, but I would say that they are burying their heads in the sand when it comes to this. They’re not answering their constituency phones. They’re not lifting the lid off and looking around.

I’ll leave us with this: We had heard earlier about the fundraisers at $10,000 a plate. Imagine the chicken that that must—imagine that dinner. I’d say that this about the goose that laid the golden egg, Speaker.

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

Hon. Steven Del Duca: It’s always a pleasure to have a chance to stand in my place and speak to—actually, Speaker, let me rephrase, if I may. Most of the time, it’s a pleasure to have the chance to stand and speak on behalf of the good people of Vaughan. Today, though, I have to say that the sheer bizarreness of the particular motion put forward by the leader of Ontario’s NDP makes it difficult to have reasonable debate.

Earlier, the member from Oshawa talked about looking back into history and talking about what might have occurred at some point in Ontario’s history. Speaker, I’ve got to tell you, it’s disappointing but not terribly shocking, I suppose, that when I listen to the NDP speaking both on this motion and so many other bizarre motions that their leader, Andrea Horwath, has put forward since her epic disastrous electoral result in June 2014, it’s very similar to what I hear from the Conservative Party on this and other matters. Again, it’s not shocking that they would be joining forces on this, because when you think about it, particularly over the last few months, it’s motions like this, it’s the questions that we hear in the House day after day, it’s the debate that they would rather engage in which I think speaks to the evasive nature of where they stand as political parties and as MPPs at this point in Ontario’s juncture.

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Interjection.

Hon. Steven Del Duca: It’s interesting that the member from Hamilton would talk about elections, Speaker. Of course, I’m proud to stand in a caucus that has now been successful in four out of the four last election campaigns, and he’s sitting in a caucus that has been relegated to that status now consistently since 2003, and for good reason. That good reason is embedded in this actual motion itself.

At no point in the last number of months has either Patrick Brown or Andrea Horwath chosen to explain to Ontarians what they would do if they had the chance to lead this province. They haven’t talked about how they would build transit or transportation infrastructure. They have not talked about how they would build stronger publicly funded education. They have refused to acknowledge that it’s important to have strong publicly funded health care.

They have spent all of their time and all their energy coming up with mythological motions like the one that we are debating here today, throwing mud at the wall and casting aspersions at every turn. It’s not shocking to me, Speaker; it’s disappointing. I say “not shocking” because I can only surmise that if I had no agenda and I had no plan, and I had no shame, I would be doing what Andrea Horwath and Patrick Brown do on a daily basis in this Legislature.

Interjections.

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

I’ll just remind the minister that we refer to members in the Legislature by their riding or by their title, but not by first or last names. Thank you very much.

Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. You’re 100% right.

Just to make sure that I emphasize this point: If I was somebody who had no plan, no agenda, no way of understanding how to build up Ontario, if I was one of those individuals, then I would fit quite nicely into the Conservative caucus and the NDP caucus.

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, come to order.

Hon. Steven Del Duca: And just so we’re clear about this: The people of Ontario consistently, since 2003, have not been fooled by these games, whether we’re talking about the point at which the former leader of the Conservative Party, Mr. Hudak, standing alongside the current leader of the official opposition in Barrie during the last election campaign when they jointly promised, almost giddily, that they were going to fire 100,000 Ontarians, or whether we’re talking about the leader of Ontario’s NDP, the leader of the third party, who has put forward today’s farcical motion.

At the end of the day, during that last election campaign—they’re calling for a public inquiry. Well, where I come from, an election campaign represents the single most effective inquiry that the public can ever engage in. Not surprisingly, in 2014, when the people of Ontario had a chance, over the course of nearly 30 days, to review the Ontario NDP’s nine-page platform—11 pages if you include both covers—they found it wanting. On health care, on education, on transit, on the environment, on minimum wage and on all of the things that they refuse to talk about to this very day, they found that leader and that party wanting. That’s why that party sits where it does in today’s Legislature.

I should say, as a result of all that, as a result of both the Conservatives’ and the NDP’s unwillingness to talk about where they want to take the province, it’s not surprising, but it’s terribly disappointing.

Mr. Paul Miller: Five investigations.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): The member for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, second time.

Hon. Steven Del Duca: It’s terribly disappointing that they would put forward motions like this because we all know, on this side of the House, and 13 million Ontarians know, Speaker—

Mr. Paul Miller: Five investigations: honourable, honest? Five investigations against your party. Wow.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Stop the clock, please.

I will give the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek the benefit of the doubt because I doubt if you heard my warning the second time. There was a reason why you didn’t hear. So I would ask now that you listen intently, and I’ll turn it back to the minister.

Continue, please.

Hon. Steven Del Duca: As I was saying, it’s not surprising, although it is terribly disappointing. I can only imagine, as I was listening and reviewing the opposition day motion put forward by the leader of the third party today, what it must be like to sit in one of their strategy meetings and have a discussion about how they’re going to go forward on a daily basis.

I can only imagine. It must be a conversation that goes something like, “Oh my goodness. Today, what can we throw at the wall to make sure that nobody in Ontario understands how bankrupt we are when it comes to progressive ideas? What can we throw at the wall to suggest, by way of insult, by way of suggestion, by way of doing all kinds of zany things? What can we do? What can we do today to make sure that nobody in the province understands that we have no plan, that we have no clue and that we have no idea or concept about how we will take Ontario forward?” It’s a result of that kind of strategy session, if I can call it that, that results in this kind of motion being put forward.

I’m not in the habit of giving my opponents advice, but I will try just this one time. Do yourselves a favour: Dig down a little bit deeper, and try to do better. The people of Ontario need functioning parties to debate the issues that matter. You should be able to do better. Try to move forward. Try to have a departure from what you put forward, because this government is progressive. We’re moving the province forward. This motion deserves to be defeated.

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

Interjections.

Mr. Michael Harris: Steven for leader.

Thank you, Speaker, for that opportunity to bring the temperature down just slightly and join in today’s energized discussion calling for a public inquiry on the awarding and management of public contracts in the energy industry, a call that follows the recent launch of the fifth OPP anti-rackets squad investigation into this government’s dealings. That’s right, Speaker. I know we’ve heard it over and over again this afternoon, but no matter how many times you say it, the fact that this government has somehow managed—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Member from Hamilton Mountain, I know you have a conversation going on with perhaps the member from Barrie. I would ask that you keep it down so that I can hear the member from Kitchener–Conestoga debate your motion.

I would encourage the member now to continue, and I would encourage participation and co-operation amongst the legislators. Thank you.

Mr. Michael Harris: The fact that this government has somehow managed to muddy itself with a record five OPP investigations bears repeating.

Of course, the recent developments that have led to an OPP probe into the Wynne Liberals’ handling of Trillium Power energy corporation provides the basis for the latest investigation. They follow a long, winding road of scandal and unaccountability that runs completely counter to the principles of openness and transparency, those same items that this Liberal government was in fact elected on.

Speaker, I would like to take us back, of course, in time and remind folks where it all began, because as we are speaking to the call for a public inquiry today, there is no doubt that the lack of accountability and transparency we are addressing has roots dating back many years, back, in fact, to the granddaddy of the Liberal OPP scandal trail—so to speak—better known as the Ontario Liberal gas plant cancellations.

Who knew back in 2010 that the seeds for the scandal-ridden ride this government has taken us on were in fact being planted? In fact, it was on October 7, 2010, that those first seeds took root as the Liberals positioned themselves ahead of the 2011 election in announcing the cancellation of the proposed Oakville gas-fired power plant. Eleven months later, in the middle of the Ontario election campaign, the other shoe dropped as our current finance minister announced plans to scrap a partially built gas plant in Mississauga, a move that would inevitably save his seat. Once election victory was secured—and I remind you that I remember hearing how President Obama spent a billion dollars to get elected, a billion dollars of money in the US, privately raised, to get elected the leader of the free world. We spent a billion dollars to get Charles Sousa elected.

Once that election victory was secured, the unravelling of months and years of work to prevent damning emails charting the course of the scandal led to criminal charges for two former senior Liberal staff and a prorogation by a former Premier as he headed for the exits.

Further, years of opposition work in committee eventually revealed the fact that, in the end, taxpayers spent $1.1 billion to cancel the gas plants that would save Liberal seats simply to keep them in power. The price of power, Speaker? It’s $1.1 billion and counting. Imagine the health care, the education or the IBI therapy $1.1 billion could buy.

So it was in 2013 that we were told to expect a new era from the new Premier who promised accountability, who promised transparency and told us, “Social justice is what drives me; it’s why I’m here.” Close to three years later, we’re left to wonder what happened to that Premier. Where did she go? In fact, soon after she took power, we were sent back down that same hole into the repeated cycle that has seen the Wynne Liberal government use taxpayers’ money to fit their political ends, rejecting those principles of accountability and transparency they had so recently spoken to and then spinning like a top until the police step in.

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Five times now, five OPP investigations, and yet still we see the same old song and dance from this government, who instead of living up to the Premier’s commitment to transparency took steps to ensure the fulfillment of her own other statement: “My plan is to govern as long as I can.” Indeed, we see it today as Liberals jump up to reject calls for a public inquiry into their lake-bound wind energy decision-making, just as we saw it only a few weeks ago with the rejection of our calls for an inquiry into political financing reform.

Here’s a party that was voted in on openness and transparency working to ensure their cabinet ministers have specific monetary targets to raise in donations for the benefit of the Ontario Liberal Party and the Ontario Liberal fund. While the Premier and her energy minister are meeting with energy sector companies for one-on-one access at a cost of $6,000 per ticket on the one hand, they’re turning around and making energy policy decisions meeting their own ends on the other. And so we have one of the banks that ran the lucrative privatization of Hydro One—a privatization that most Ontarians are staunchly set against—promoting a $7,500-per-person fundraiser for the two Ontario provincial cabinet ministers who are in fact in charge of the sale.

Speaker, the fire sale of Hydro One has seen opposition from 185 municipalities and nearly 80% of Ontarians, and yet they move ahead anyway, while feeding the Liberal coffers at every step. The event on December 7, which featured Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, may have raised about $165,000 for the Liberals, but the fact is that we will continue to pay for the Hydro One fire sale as the province loses out on approximately $700 million in revenue every year.

We have families that have children with autism on our doorstep. We have those with rare diseases calling out for the government’s help. We have people in need in so many sectors, and yet we continue to see the Wynne Liberal government looking at their own needs first.

It’s for these reasons that you continue to hear calls for public inquiries, because quite frankly, OPP investigations and public inquiries are about the only things that seem to get this government’s attention.

Here again, we saw many of the same Liberal players alleged to be involved in program cancellations to meet their own partisan needs cancelling provincial agreements to Trillium’s offshore wind development in a Liberal riding to boost party support, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the bill. Once again, we see discoveries of emails that may have been wiped out during the infamous gas plants deletion. Once again, we see allegations of deliberate destruction of evidence to cover tracks. Did you notice a theme here, Speaker?

We all continue to wonder how a Premier and a government that said they would be so different have turned out to be so much the same old same old, choosing their party over the people of Ontario, political gain over needed programs and program enhancements. Again and again, we see the Wynne Liberals looking out not for the best interests of Ontario, but for their own political survival, while leaving Ontario taxpayers to foot the bill.

As they say, the truth will set you free. For the sake of restoring the public’s trust, of living up to the repeated commitments to openness and transparency, the Premier should do the right thing, call an inquiry and let the system work to ensure the truth really gets out there.

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

Mr. Percy Hatfield: I’d like to put my two cents in here, if I could. We’re talking about energy policy, we’re talking about the destruction of records and we’re talking about five anti-rackets squad OPP investigations. We’re talking about the deletion of emails. We’re talking about the wiping of the hard drives. We’re talking about a committee that was looking into that, and on the eve of the appearance of the two main witnesses, the government prorogued and the witnesses never got to testify.

We’ve got five OPP investigations—five that we know of. What we’re asking for is a public inquiry, the same as they held in Quebec on the construction industry. If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t be blocking this call. Clear the air. Let’s get it out there, and then we can all move on. The media is out there every day coming up with more and more stories about the secrecy of the fundraising, who attended and how that led to changes in policy. Well, if you have nothing to hide, then open it up.

I know your party coffers are full. Nobody on this side of the House has suggested for a moment that anyone over there padded their own personal pockets. That hasn’t come up from this side of the House. The party coffers are full. Nobody suggested that you pocketed the money yourself.

You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover, but you can judge a cover-up by opening the books. Open the books. Let’s lift the veil. Let’s let the light shine in. Come on: Hold a public inquiry and convince the people of Ontario you have nothing to hide.

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

Hon. James J. Bradley: I’ve been in the House long enough to remember when the New Democratic Party used to deal with issues. When Stephen Lewis was the leader, for instance, it was the preservation of agricultural land and important issues like that. They’ve now been reduced to drive-by smears and scandalmongering, which is most unfortunate because, even though I didn’t always agree, I always liked the issues that the NDP raised in this House.

I remember that the member for Windsor–Tecumseh used to cover politics in Ontario, and he provided a good balance of coverage at that time. I’ve got to give him credit for that. He would remember when his New Democratic Party used to be a party of issues instead of dealing with smears day after day, which this essentially is.

I don’t mind the fundraising. Tonight my friend Gilles Bisson is holding a fundraiser at Barberian’s at $700 a person. I don’t mind that. The NDP has had $10,000-a-person small gatherings at places like the Palais Royale and the Gardiner Museum and the art gallery. I don’t mind that.

What I do mind is you saying that it’s okay for you to do it but not for others. There’s a word I can’t use because it’s unparliamentary and I wouldn’t use it. I wouldn’t even want to say what it is.

Interjection: Does it start with “H”?

Hon. James J. Bradley: It starts with “H”.

As for getting lectures from the Conservative Party, they had a fundraiser at the Albany Club at $10,000 a person—intimate. They had one for $5,000 at Barberian’s. At the Toronto Leader’s Dinner, donors were encouraged to pay $25,000 for a victory table—$10,000 more than a normal table. By donating $30,000 or more, attendees could score an invite to the private reception with their leader, Patrick Brown.

Mr. Paul Miller: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): A point of order: I recognize the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek.

Mr. Paul Miller: I’m a little concerned that the minister is way off track about talking about the motion. He’s talking about all these dinners. That really doesn’t have anything to do with the motion. So if he could get back to it, we’d appreciate it.

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

Member, I’ll turn it back to you.

Hon. James J. Bradley: Thank you. The Speaker understands that’s exactly what it does because that’s what you’ve been implying. Other speakers on this side have described how contracts are awarded, independent of any political considerations. That’s the way they are done in Ontario. It’s totally independent.

They donate to you. I have a list of the people who donated to the NDP. You might be surprised at some of them. I don’t think that because the Canadian Labour Congress donated close to $10,000, it influenced your policy. They simply supported you.

The Canadian Media Producers Association; Bombardier Canada, $2,300. I’m sure that had no influence on your policy. Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc., $9,975. Box Grove Hill Developments, almost $10,000. Bruce Power, $9,975. Central 1 Credit Union, $9,313. CUPE National Office—all of these.

The point I’m making is that the opposition suggested that somehow that has an influence on the government, on government contracts and so on. I don’t accuse the opposition of asking questions because they happen to get a donation from another party. I think that would be inappropriate. Even though that did happen in Great Britain, I don’t think it happens here. I would never accuse them of that.

The Egg Farmers of Ontario, $7,000 to the NDP. The Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario, $9,313; 407 ETR Concession Co., $2,300.

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Now, my good friend—I have the greatest respect for the integrity of my friend from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek. I see here a donation from ACTRA Toronto performers of $2,300. If I wanted to be mischievous, I’d say that that had something to do with the bill. It didn’t; he’s a man of integrity. That does not affect whether he’s going to bring forward a bill or ask questions in that regard—not at all. But that is, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, what they are suggesting.

Cisco Systems, $2,300; CIBC head office, $4,656; and Coach Canada—the point I’m making is that they have their fundraising operations that take place, and they have their individual fundraisers. When they were in the majority in this Legislature—remember, they could either stop legislation or, in some cases, through private members’ bills, initiate legislation—I did not get up in this House, nor did Adrian Morrow write about the fact that you’re getting all kinds of money in your fundraisers. You had the opportunity to stop legislation. Now, did I say that you’re stopping legislation because you’re getting donations from these people? I did not.

The leader of the party raised $1.5 million during his leadership campaign, and I did not get up in this House at the time and say that, for instance, Ontario Incorporated 2407553, which donated $25,000, had any influence on Conservative policy. I did not say that, but that is the implication of this resolution and the speakers on the opposite side. Or that the Barrie Colts junior hockey team, which donated $5,000 to the leader of the party—by the way, he was down in Las Vegas at the fantasy camp; it cost $15,000. That has nothing to do with this, though, so I’ll leave that alone. It has nothing to do with the Barrie Colts.

The point I’m making is, there’s a word that starts with an “H”—it’s unparliamentary—that I can’t use, and that’s when somebody says, “You shouldn’t do this, but we’re allowed to do that.” So I’m not condemning you. I’m not accusing you. All I’m asking is that you give the same consideration to those on this side of the House, because it’s been explained, very clearly, that all these contracts are done totally independent of any political influence.

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

Mr. John Vanthof: In this debate, what really matters to the people at home, Speaker, is that a lot of people at home can’t pay their hydro bills. When they hear that contracts are given and then taken away and then there’s police investigations—not one, not two, but five—people at home think, “Well, if police are investigating me, something happened. But in this case, it doesn’t seem like anything is happening.” And each time they hear more, and it costs more.

Then they heard, during the election, that this Premier was going to be the most open and transparent there was, and they believed that. But nothing has changed. Some of the members say, “This is a totally new regime,” but the Premier was a minister in the regime. She actually signed some of those documents. So nothing has changed.

If the government would like to clear the air, the best way to clear the air would be to have a simple, open and transparent investigation of what went wrong with these contracts, because, Speaker, for people at home, when the taxman comes calling, the people at home can’t say, “Well, I’m sorry, but I deleted records and I’m going to take a course in how not to do it next time.” That doesn’t work for the people at home, and it shouldn’t work for the government either.

We have to look into how that happened. The people at home have no confidence that that does not continue to happen now. That’s why we need to support this motion and why the government needs to institute an investigation on why these things are happening.

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

Hon. Jeff Leal: I have been following this debate on and off this afternoon, but let me tell you a little story.

I dropped by the East City Coffee Shop in Peterborough last Friday. Of course, anybody that knows Peterborough—it’s on Hunter Street East. A great deal: For five bucks, you get a western sandwich and a cup of coffee. It’s really quite fabulous.

But, you know, all my good friends, as I was eating my lunch, came up to me and said, “We want to know about Cornerstone.”

I said, “Cornerstone? Well, that’s kind of an interesting topic.”

They said, “Yes, we read it in the Toronto Star. We read about shares A and shares B and shares C and who owns shares A and who was voting on shares C.”

So I said, “Look, this is more secretive than the Panama Papers. I could look at the Panama Papers and get more information on the Panama Papers than I could about Cornerstone.”

Interjections.

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

Hon. Jeff Leal: So I said to my good friends in the East City Coffee Shop who wanted to get more information from me, “Look, the only way we could probably shed more light on Cornerstone is perhaps if we sent it to a legislative committee. We could call some witnesses, and then we could really find what’s going on at Cornerstone.”

Interjection: A public inquiry.

Hon. Jeff Leal: A public inquiry—and then, Mr. Speaker, I look at my good friends opposite. I just happen to have this list here: We have things like 1077867 Ontario. I don’t know who that is. Then we have—

Hon. James J. Bradley: How much?

Hon. Jeff Leal: Well, they were—

Interjection.

Hon. Jeff Leal: Well, now, Mr. Speaker, I said to my good friend from St. Catharines that that company was in for $10,000. Who the devil is Ontario 1021862?

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of comments this afternoon about transparency, but I’ve always believed you’ve got to walk the talk. If you want to have more transparency, let’s investigate Cornerstone and let’s investigate all these different companies.

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

M. Michael Mantha: C’est extrêmement désolant quand tu te lèves debout, que tu écoutes les commentaires qui sont donnés, puis, quand tu regardes les gens, ils sont en train de parler à la caméra qui est en arrière à la place de parler aux Ontariens. C’est ça qui est désolant.

Quand je vais prendre un café avec les ainés de mes communautés, les gens le savent, ça. Parce que tu t’assois avec eux autres, tu leur parles et ils te demandent : Comment est-ce que ça se fait que vous répondiez ou que vous agissiez d’une telle façon? Pourquoi n’êtes-vous pas capables de répondre à nos questions et aux besoins qu’on a à travers la province? Pourquoi n’êtes-vous pas capables de nous prendre au sérieux, d’écouter nos besoins et puis d’en discuter?

Pourquoi? La réponse est bien simple : parce que ce fameux outil-là que j’ai en arrière de moi, c’est une caméra. Puis les gens se comportent d’une telle façon en parlant aux caméras, et ne parlent pas des nécessités et des « concernes » que les gens ont dans ma circonscription. C’est ça qui est le problème, monsieur le Président.

Quand tu regardes les scandales dont le gouvernement est en train de passer au travers, ils ne sont vraiment pas en train de répondre aux questions nécessaires. Les gens ont besoin de réponses pour donner une franche opinion du gouvernement qui se passe présentement. Ils sont en train de regarder ce qui est en train de se passer ici, et puis ils sont complètement en gros dégueulasse. C’est ça qui se passe, monsieur le Président. C’est la franche vérité de ce qui se passe.

Continuer à parler. Continuer à crier. Vous êtes en train de sécuriser le besoin de—ce que les gens sont en train de demander dans cette province, c’est une honnêteté de leur gouvernement.

Vous avez la chance, sous la motion aujourd’hui, d’apporter cette honnêteté-là. Nettoyez vos tiroirs. Nettoyez vos idées, et puis donnez-leur les réponses dont ils ont besoin.

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

M. Gilles Bisson: Je suis complètement d’accord avec les commentaires que mon collègue d’Algoma–Manitoulin vient juste de faire.

Écoute, avec ce gouvernement, ce n’est pas une enquête de la PPO; ce n’est pas deux enquêtes; ce n’est pas trois enquêtes; ce n’est pas quatre enquêtes. C’est cinq enquêtes.

À quel point est-ce que le gouvernement va dire : « OK, c’est assez. On a besoin de tirer au clair ce qui se passe. »

Ce que le député est en train de dire c’est que le gouvernement a une chance, avec cette motion, de mettre au clair et de mettre en vue de tout le monde exactement ce qui se passe.

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Ma chef a dit, une couple de minutes passées, quand elle a fait son discours, que si vous n’avez rien à cacher, votez pour la motion. C’est bien simple. Mais non, ce gouvernement dit : « Non, on aimerait mieux être capable d’utiliser notre majorité pour nier une enquête publique sur quelque chose qui est de base quand ça vient à l’honnêteté sur ce que le gouvernement fait ou ne fait pas. »

Moi, je supporte cette motion parce que je pense que c’est important que le public ait la chance de tirer au clair exactement ce qui se passe. Ce gouvernement-là doit être capable d’accepter les conséquences de leurs actions.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: It’s my pleasure to use these last few minutes to take my right of reply.

I have to say that I was quite interested in the discussion on this motion. There are some unassailable facts that are true here in the province of Ontario these days, and I think it’s important that everyone in this chamber acknowledges it. We have an unprecedented situation when it comes to the way the government has been fundraising. We have a situation where it’s being reported in the newspaper, so it’s not just the opposition that’s upset with this, it’s not just the people at home.

When I go home, I certainly hear about it. I’m sure other MPPs, regardless of which side of the House they’re on, hear about it. There is a real problem here. One of the speakers on the government side talked about the fact that he thinks that it’s all about protecting democracy, that we should be more protective of democracy. I think it was the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change that talked about that with a straight face. That’s what this motion is all about: It’s about trying to protect our democracy from the kinds of implications that have been raised around the way that the government has sold access to people who have interests in the energy file. But that’s only one part of it. The pay-for-access fundraisers that the Liberal government has had with the finance minister and with the Premier and with the Minister of Energy—this is something that was reported in the papers, Speaker. We’re not making it up.

The fact that we have the same people that benefited from the sale of Hydro One also bellying up to big fundraisers with the governing party—that’s problematic; that’s very worrisome. At the same time, we have five OPP investigations into the actions of this government, particularly a number of them when it comes to the energy file. We have just found that there’s a number of lawsuits that are under way because of the way that the government dealt with information around the energy file.

This motion speaks particularly to the way that this Liberal government has handled the energy file. We know that we’ve had a sell-off of Hydro One without the permission of the people who own it, 80% of whom do not want to see Hydro One sold off. We also see, of course, as I’ve mentioned, the lucrative fundraising that was done by the Liberals in the wake of that decision, in the wake of the IPO, when all of those stakeholders happened to be able to have big, deep pockets where they funded the Liberal Party.

We know that Ontarians need, want and deserve affordable, clean energy in this province, but instead, that’s not what’s happening. It seems like every decision that this Liberal government has made when it comes to the energy file is more about doing better or improving the coffers of the Liberal Party as opposed to doing what’s right for the people of Ontario.

It’s a very, very worrisome situation, Speaker. It is a situation that begs some scrutiny. When this same kind of situation was occurring in Quebec, where there was a Liberal Premier at the time, a Liberal government, and the accusations and the worry were swirling, and people were concerned, and the media stories were damning, that Premier had the courage of his convictions and actually called a commission of inquiry into scandalous reports about what was happening in the construction industry in his province. And guess what? The Charbonneau commission looked at the situation and, lo and behold, where the smoke was seen, the fire became apparent as a result of that work.

The people of Ontario deserve no less than what the people of Quebec got. We deserve no less in this province than having an independent commission of inquiry look into what this Liberal government has been doing in the energy file. Whether that is the deletion of documents, whether that is the selling off of a utility and then making lucrative dollars or fundraising in a lucrative way from those very same stakeholders, whether it is OPP investigations, the bottom line is this: The people of Ontario deserve to know what’s really going on here. The newspaper articles have been frightening.

I do say, I was surprised to hear a number of the members on the government bench try to muddy the waters and pretend that somehow this debate is about anything else than what it is, and that is about this Liberal government’s decisions and who benefited from this Liberal government’s decisions when it comes to the decisions they’ve made on the energy file. I think every Ontarian would agree that the only people who are benefiting, apparently, are the Liberal Party of Ontario. The people of Ontario deserve to be disabused of that suggestion.

Call the public inquiry. Clear the air. Do the right thing. Be open and transparent and give the people of Ontario the answers they deserve.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Ms. Horwath has moved opposition day number 4. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

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

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

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members. There will be a maximum 10-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1756 to 1806.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I would ask all members to take their seats, please.

Ms. Horwath has moved opposition day number 4.

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

Ayes

  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Campbell, Sarah
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Fife, Catherine
  • French, Jennifer K.
  • Gates, Wayne
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gretzky, Lisa
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Hudak, Tim
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • Miller, Norm
  • Miller, Paul
  • Munro, Julia
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Singh, Jagmeet
  • Smith, Todd
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Vanthof, John
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): All those opposed to the motion will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Albanese, Laura
  • Anderson, Granville
  • Baker, Yvan
  • Ballard, Chris
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Del Duca, Steven
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dickson, Joe
  • Dong, Han
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Fraser, John
  • Hoggarth, Ann
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Lalonde, Marie-France
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Malhi, Harinder
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Martins, Cristina
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGarry, Kathryn
  • McMahon, Eleanor
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • Milczyn, Peter Z.
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naidoo-Harris, Indira
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Orazietti, David
  • Potts, Arthur
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Sergio, Mario
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Thibeault, Glenn
  • Vernile, Daiene
  • Wong, Soo
  • Wynne, Kathleen O.

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 36; the nays are 50.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I declare the motion lost.

Motion negatived.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I recognize the member from Ajax–Pickering on a point of order.

Mr. Joe Dickson: Just on a point of order: I’d like to mention that the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario is staying extra time because it was delayed here today. They’re still there till 7 o’clock, and they welcome you all.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Pursuant to standing order 38, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.

Adjournment Debate

Member’s conduct / Conduite d’un député

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): The member from Kitchener–Waterloo has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by the Premier. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and the Premier or her parliamentary assistant will have up to five minutes to reply.

The member from Kitchener–Waterloo.

Ms. Catherine Fife: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When I stood up late last week to ask the Premier about the conduct of her Minister of Energy, the last thing I expected to hear was an excuse.

You’ll remember that earlier in the week, our leader, Andrea Horwath, asked a question about energy policy, the awarding of contracts by this government and police investigations into the awarding of those contracts. This was a legitimate question that the Minister of Energy chose to respond to with dismissive, casual sexism.

Why was the question legitimate? Recently, it was revealed in the pages of the Ottawa Citizen that the OPP is investigating the destruction of documents related to a $500-million lawsuit by Trillium Power Wind Corp. over cancelled offshore projects.

Now, this isn’t the first investigation by the OPP into this government; it’s the fifth. This isn’t even the first OPP investigation into this government on the awarding of energy contracts; it’s the second. Speaker, that’s only the start of the concerns that Ontarians have with this government’s so-called energy policy. Every day, we find out some new detail about how thoroughly this government has mismanaged the energy file.

Given all of that, our leader asked the question, “Will this Premier do the right thing by the people of this province and call a commission of inquiry?” By now, everyone is familiar with how the minister chose to respond, and I think that’s an important point to make. The minister made a choice to respond in a manner of casual sexism, dismissing our leader’s question. Rather than answer the question, he decided to demean the member.

This is part of a pattern, Mr. Speaker. In 2011, to MPP McKenna, he told her to do “her big-girl job.” In 2014, he said to the Auditor General that the energy file was too complex for her. Later that day, he said to our leader, “I won’t take lessons from that woman.” I asked him about that comment. In response, he said that he was not being sexist because he has daughters.

I received a letter later that day from a constituent who said:

“I saw your exchange with the Minister of Energy yesterday and wanted to share my thoughts with you as someone who hopes to never have my competence or intellect questioned on the basis of my gender....

“I found it absolutely deplorable that the” Minister of Energy “thinks he can equate his daughters with the Auditor General simply because they have being female in common. He would never compare a male AG’s report to dinner conversation with his daughters if this kind of ‘minor professional disagreement’ developed, so the presumption that his daughters have a comparable or equal amount of insight into the issues at hand simply because they are women is horrifying to say the least. In my opinion, it’s worse than his original insinuation that the situation is too complex for a woman to properly understand.

“Basically, what he is saying is that having an MBA, a highly coveted accounting designation that is difficult to obtain, and decades of experience in a ... male-dominated industry amounts to the same thing as being someone’s daughter.”

Valerie goes on to say, “I hope you won’t let those kinds of remarks go unchecked. For the men and women of this province who believe intelligence is located in people’s heads rather than their pants, it needs to be said.

“Thank you for your time; keep fighting the good fight.”

This is about challenging a behaviour in this House, Mr. Speaker, and it needs to be challenged, because there’s a level of hypocrisy we are seeing from that side of the House.

To get back to my original—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I would ask the member to withdraw.

Ms. Catherine Fife: Withdraw.

This behaviour needs to be challenged. In fact, when the Premier defended the Minister of Energy, she said that he apologized; in fact, he did not. What the minister said is, “If my pronunciation was unclear and it appeared ... I said something I did not”—he did not own up for his behaviour, Mr. Speaker.

But what is clear is that what the minister offered is a non-apology. This much is true: The Minister of Energy, in this chamber, used sexist language to dismiss a legitimate question on public policy from the leader of Ontario’s NDP. I know Ontarians expect far, far better from this Premier. As she herself has said, sexism and harassment are never okay. Well, if they are never okay, why is she allowing her minister to continue on in his job, having never shown any remorse for his repeated public behaviour?

Premier Wynne used to talk about working from the activist centre. What does that phrase even mean anymore? By allowing such conduct to continue unchecked—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Please stop the clock. Look, because of the sensitivity of this particular question that is being brought forth, I would ask that all members would demonstrate professionalism, listen attentively and allow the question to be asked so that a reply can then be given. Please. Thank you.

Ms. Catherine Fife: Premier Wynne used to talk about working from an activist centre. What does that phrase even mean anymore? By allowing such conduct to continue unchecked, the Premier has thrown out any pretense of activism or leadership. If it really is never okay, then fire the Minister of Energy and prove it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you. Please be seated. The Premier now has up to five minutes to reply.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Sexual harassment is not a partisan issue, and I really don’t think that it should be turned into one. This is a case of the minister stumbling over some words, something we have all done in this House, every one of us. I don’t believe there was any malice behind it. I suspect that, despite the attempt to score political points, deep down the member opposite knows that as well.

The member opposite also knows that the minister came into the House the same day to apologize and clarify his remarks. The minister explained what happened, and then he came into the House to apologize. He made it clear that offensive language has no place in this Legislature.

Le ministre a expliqué ce qui s’est passé et a clairement indiqué que les remarques offensantes n’ont pas leur place à l’Assemblée législative.

That was the right thing to do, and I’m very glad that he took that step.

But since the member wants to talk about sexual harassment, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell her and the House what our government has been doing on this issue, because this is a much broader issue. The issue of sexual harassment, which the member opposite has raised, is a much larger issue.

I’ve been clear that sexual harassment in the workplace is not a partisan issue. It’s a societal problem that, unfortunately, remains in workplaces across Ontario. It’s an issue that I take seriously and an issue on which our government has taken significant action.

When I have been faced with the issue of sexual harassment, I have led by example, and I will continue to do so. Any instance that is brought to my attention is handled in accordance with the Liberal caucus workplace discrimination and harassment policy. That policy recognizes how hard it can be for someone to step forward.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, I’m broadening this issue, because we can’t, in isolation, talk about these things; we have to talk about them in the broader societal context. Because of that, our policy says that “individuals making a complaint of discrimination or harassment are assured that during investigation and consideration of a complaint, and following its resolution, all information relating to the complaint will remain confidential.” If I receive a complaint, we take it very seriously. We undertake an investigation led by an external independent investigator. This includes giving the caucus member the opportunity to respond. When we receive the investigator’s report, we take action commensurate with the findings.

Now, I’m going to refer to the issue surrounding the member for Niagara Falls, because as I say, I’m talking about the broader issue. My action in regard to that member is an example of how I deal with these issues within my own caucus. I’ve also demonstrated ongoing leadership throughout our government’s sexual violence and harassment action plan. Through our sexual violence and harassment action plan, we are investing $41 million over the next three years. This includes launching our advertising campaign, which has tangibly improved attitudes and has been viewed over 84 million times.

I’m proud that our government has introduced legislation to strengthen provisions related to sexual violence and harassment in the workplace, on campus, in housing and through the civil claims process, and I’m glad that what we are doing has prompted a conversation that is broader than within this Legislature. This is a conversation that has to happen across society. I believe it is important and that we must continue to make sure we’re protecting Ontarians and creating a safe environment in which to live and work.

We’ve also increased funding for all 42 sexual assault centres by $1.75 million and increased funding for hospital-based sexual assault and domestic violence treatment centres by $1.1 million.

The member opposite should know that sexual harassment is not an issue that I shy away from as Premier. Instead, it’s an issue that I have dealt with head-on. I believe it is my responsibility to take action when required. It’s my responsibility to respect issues of confidentiality, and it’s also my responsibility to create an environment where people do feel safe to come forward. If we can create an environment where people feel safe to come forward, where they know that they are going to be treated appropriately, then they will come forward. Then, I believe, the culture can start to change.

That’s why I wrote to the Speaker a few weeks ago about this issue. I’m aware that the leader of the third party has told media that the NDP also has anti-harassment policies, so it’s my hope, given the question of this member, that the member opposite and her party will work with us to bring in a code to cover the conduct of MPPs from all three parties. I think that would be appropriate, because this is not an issue that is isolated to one party or another.

Situations like these are sensitive, and we owe it to those who have come forward with an expectation of confidentiality not to provide further details. The survivors in any situation like this deserve to be treated with respect. The opposition parties should be respectful of survivors and not play politics with their experience.

I know that the member opposite was talking about a particular situation for which the minister has apologized. I have chosen to put that conversation in the context of the broader issue around sexual assault and violence—and that we deal with harassment issues together; we find a way to come up with a code that all parties can agree to. I hope that the opposition parties will work with us on that. We’ve put forward our code as an example.

I look forward to this ongoing discussion. It’s important to the people of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): There being no further matter to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to be carried.

This House stands adjourned until 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1823.

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