2022-04-08 Question Period

INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS. IT IS NOW TIME FOR QUESTION PERIOD. I RECOGNIZE THE DEPUTY LEADER OF HER MAJESTY'S LOW LOYAL OPPOSITION. >> MY FIRST QUESTION IS FOR THE PREMIER. SPEAKER, DR. PETER JUNI, HEAD OF THE PREMIER'S OWN SCIENCE TABLE CALLS THIS A TIDAL WAVE. HE SAYS WASTEWATER MEASUREMENTS OF COVID MEAN THAT ONTARIO HAS NOW BETWEEN 100,000 AND 120,000 NEW COVID-19 CASES A DAY. THAT MEANS ABOUT 5% OF THE WHOLE PROVINCE IS INFECTED. WE HAVE MORE COVID CASES THAN EVER BEFORE, SPEAKER, AND THE PREMIER IS JUST CALLING THIS A LITTLE UPTICK. THE PREMIER BELIEVES THAT WE HAVE THE HOSPITAL BEDS TO HANDLE THIS, BUT THE REALITY HERE IN ONTARIO IS THAT WE DON'T HAVE THE STAFF FOR THOSE BEDS. AS MUCH AS THE PREMIER MIGHT WISH THAT THIS PANDEMIC IS OVER, IT ISN'T.

WHY IS THE PREMIER SIMPLY WAITING FOR HOSPITAL BEDS TO OVERFLOW WITH PATIENTS BEFORE TAKING ANY PROACTIVE ACTION. >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. >> THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SPEAKER, AND THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER OPPOSITE FOR THE QUESTION. IN FACT THE INCREASE IN CASES WE ARE SEEING NOW IS EXPECTED. THIS IS SOMETHING DR. MOORE COMMENTED ON SEVERAL TIMES WITH THE RELEASE OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES AS WELL AS THE INCREASED TRANSMISSIBILITY OF THE BA2 VARIANT WHICH IS NOW THE DOMINANT VARIANT.

BUT THE SITUATION HAS CHANGED VERY MUCH FROM THE BEGINNING OF THIS PANDEMIC. AND TO QUOTE DR. MOORE, HE HAS SAID THIS. WE HAVE TOOLS THAT WE DID NOT HAVE JUST TWO YEARS AGO INCLUDING HIGHLY EFFECTIVE VACCINES THAT HAVE CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE PANDEMIC, HIGH VACCINATION RATES THAT CONTINUE TO IMPROVE AS MORE AND MORE ONTARIANS SEE THE VALUE OF GETTING BOOSTED TO PROTECT THEMSELVES, THEIR FAMILIES, AND THEIR COMMUNITIES. WE ALSO HAVE THE ANTIVIRALS THAT ARE NOW BEING DISTRIBUTED MORE WIDELY ACROSS THE PROVINCE. AND WE DO HAVE THE CAPABILITY WITHIN OUR HOSPITALS. TODAY THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN ICUS WAS 157. YESTERDAY IT WAS 166. WE ARE HOLDING STEADY AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. SUPPLEMENTARY. THE DEPUTY LEADER. >> SPEAKER, IF THE RISING CASE COUNTS WERE EXPECTED, WHERE, THEN, IS THE URGENT ACTION FROM THIS GOVERNMENT TO IMPLEMENT THE TOOLS THAT THEY HAVE TO HELP US CURVE THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 IN OUR COMMUNITIES AND HELP DO THINGS LIKE MAKE SURE OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT KEPT OUT OF CLASSROOMS AND THAT WORKING PEOPLE DO NOT GO WITHOUT PAID SICK DAYS OR THAT SMALL BUSINESSES WON'T BE FURTHER MANAGING DISRUPTIONS BECAUSE OF COVID-19 SPREAD IN OUR COMMUNITIES.

PATIENTS ARE ALREADY HAVING THEIR CARE DELAYED. SURGERIES HAVE BEEN CANCELED. PILING UP MORE PEOPLE INTO HOSPITALS MEANS THOSE FOLKS WON'T GET THE SURGERIES THEY NEED. THE SCIENCE TABLE AND OTHER EXPERTS ARE CALLING FOR THE CONTINUED USE OF MASKS, PAID SICK DAYS, AND MORE TESTING IN ONTARIO. BUT ONTARIANS HAVEN'T ACTUALLY EVEN HEARD FROM THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH FOR WEEKS. WHAT THE IS THE PREMIER'S JUSTIFICATION FOR DROPPING MASKS IN HOSPITALS AND LONG-TERM CARE HOMES. >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. >> WELL, SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THIS PANDEMIC, WE HAVE ALWAYS TAKEN THE STEPS NECESSARY TO PROTECT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF THE PEOPLE OF THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. WE ARE FOLLOWING THE RECOMMENDATIONS FROM OUR CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH, DR.

MOORE AND HIS ADVISERS. DR. MOORE RECOMMENDED MASKS DON'T NEED TO BE WORN EXCEPT IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES IN HOSPITALS, LONG-TERM CARE HOMES, AND OTHER CONGREGANT SETTINGS WHERE IT IS NECESSARY FOR THE PROTECTION OF PEOPLE. SHOULD HE CHANGE HIS VIEWS IN THE COMING DAYS, WE WILL BE MAKING THOSE CHANGES AS NECESSARY. BUT AS FOR WEARING MASKS, IT IS SOMETHING THAT IS VOLUNTARY ALTHOUGH MOST PEOPLE ARE CHOOSING TO WEAR MASKS IN CROWDED PUBLIC SPACES. AND WE ANTICIPATE THAT WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. >> The Speaker: FINAL SUPPLEMENTARY, THE DEPUTY LEADER. >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. DR. JUNI IS WORRIED THAT WITHOUT THE USE OF MASKS, OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM WILL BE OVERWHELMED. HE ALSO SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT MOVED TOO QUICKLY TO DROP THE MANDATES IN ONTARIO. HE SAID AND I'LL QUOTE, HE'S VERY UNEASY AND WORRIED WRONG SIGNALS ARE BEING SENT TO ONTARIANS. SPEAKER, ONTARIANS DESERVE TO HEAR FROM THE BEST EXPERTS THAT WE HAVE. THAT INCLUDES BRINGING THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH OUT OF HIDING TO EXPLAIN WHAT IS GOING ON HERE IN ONTARIO.

WHY IS THE PREMIER IGNORING THE PROBLEM RATHER THAN TAKING PROACTIVE MEASURES TO HELP US GET THROUGH THE SIXTH WAVE? >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. >> OUR GOVERNMENT HAS ALWAYS TAKEN THE NECESSARY STEPS TO PROTECT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO. AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. WE ARE FOLLOWING THE ADVICE OF OUR CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH, DR. MOORE, AND HIS ADVISERS AND THE SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE AS WELL. THE VIEW OF ONE PHYSICIAN COMPARED TO THE VIEWS OF MANY IS SOMETHING THAT WE LISTENED TO BUT ARE FOLLOWING THE ADVICE OF DR.

MOORE. HIGHWAYS PROVIDED SOUND ADVICE THROUGHOUT. AND I KNOW HE WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. IT WAS DR. MOORE'S ADVICE HIMSELF SEVERAL WEEKS AGO TO SAY WE DIDN'T NEED TO HAVE REGULAR CONFERENCES WITH HIM BECAUSE WE NEED TO LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID. SADLY IT'S NOT GOING AWAY IMMEDIATELY. IT'S GOING TO CONTINUE WITHIN OUR SYSTEM. BUT WE HAVE THE MEASURES THAT WE NEED TO KEEP PEOPLE IN ONTARIO HEALTHY WITH INCREASED VACCINATIONS INCLUDING THE 4th VACCINATION THAT'S AVAILABLE AS OF TODAY.

>> The Speaker: ANSWER. >> THE ANTIVIRALS. AND WE DO HAVE THE CAPACITY IN OUR HOSPITAL TO MANAGE. [ Applause ] >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE DEPUTY LEADER FOR THE SECONDARY QUESTION. >> THANK YOU, LEADER. MY NEXT QUESTION IS TO THE PREMIER. WE KNOW ONE OF THE BIGGEST GAPS IN MENTAL HEALTHCARE IS FOR OUR CHILDREN. AS MORE AND MORE ONTARIANS SEEK MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS AND ARE OPENLY SHARING THEIR STRUGGLES, FAMILIES AND CHILDREN ARE CONCERNED THAT THE SPORTS THAT THEY NEED ARE OUT OF REACH AND COST TOO MUCH. THEY WANT THEIR CHILDREN TO THRIVE AND LEAD HAPPIER, HEALTHIER LIVES. BUT ALL TOO OFTEN THEY ARE OUT OF REACH BECAUSE OF HORRIBLY LONG WAIT LISTS AND HUGE FINANCIAL BARRIERS.

WHY WON'T THE GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZE THAT UNIVERSAL MENTAL HEALTH CARE WILL HELP FAMILIES AND KIDS ACCESS MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS IN ONTARIO. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. I RECOGNIZE THE ASSOCIATE MINISTER OF MENTAL HEALTH. >> THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. AND THANK YOU FOR THAT QUESTION. MR. SPEAKER, OUR GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZES THE IMPACT THIS PANDEMIC HAS HAD ON THE MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH ACROSS THE PROVINCE. BUILDING AN ONTARIO WHERE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE SAFE, HEALTHY, AND THRIVING ARE THE RIGHT THINGS TO BE DOING, AND OUR PLAN IMPACTS ON THOSE VERY ISSUES. AND THAT'S WHY WE MADE TARGETED INVESTMENTS AND INTENSIVE MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS AND SERVICES FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH THAT INCLUDE A $20 MILLION INVESTMENT ACROSS THE BOARD. 5% INCREASE TO ALL SUPPORTS AND SERVICES FOR YOUTH. IN ADDITION TO THAT $2.7 MILLION FOR YOUTH WELLNESS HUBS AND IN ADDITION TO THAT, ANOTHER 8 YOUTH WELLNESS HUBS. AGAIN TO BUILD ON THE SUPPORTS NECESSARY FOR YOUTH. IN ADDITION TO THAT, WE LOOKED AT SPECIFIC YOUTH WELLNESS HUBS FOR INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS TO ENSURE THAT THEY HAVE THE SUPPORT THEY NEED.

MR. SPEAKER, WE NEAD INVESTMENTS INCLUDING IN EATING DISORDERS. THEY ARE SOLID INVESTMENTS TO ENSURE THAT ALL CHILDREN AND YOUTH HAVE THE SUPPORTS THEY NEED WHEN AND WHEN THEY NEED THEM. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. SUPPLEMENTARY FOR THE DEPUTY LEADER. >> SPEAKER, CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH ONTARIO HAS CALLED ON ALL OF US TO TAKE THE KIDS CAN'T WAIT PLEDGE TO INVEST IN MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS FOR OUR YOUNGEST PEOPLE HERE IN THE PROVINCE. MARY KLUSTERMAN, THE CEO OF THE ORGANIZATION, SAYS AND I'LL QUOTE. SOME KIDS ARE CURRENTLY WAITING UP TO TWO AND A HALF YEARS TO SEE A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL, END QUOTE. I KNOW IN MY COMMUNITY OF BRAMPTON, THAT'S AN UNFORTUNATE REALITY FOR MANY YOUNG PEOPLE WHO NEED SUPPORT. SPEAKER, IT SHOULDN'T BE LIKE THIS IN ONTARIO. WE ARE LAGGING BEHIND IN THE COUNTRY. AND WE NEED TO DO BETTER FOR CHILDREN WITH IMMEDIATE INVESTMENTS TO CUT THE WASTE AND INVEST IN THE SERVICES THAT THEY NEED.

SPEAKER, WHY HASN'T THE PREMIER RECOGNIZED THAT CHILDREN IN IN PROVINCE CAN'T WAIT ANY LONGER FOR THE MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS THAT THEY NEED. AND THE WHEN WILL THEY MAKE THE INVESTMENT TO HELP US SAVE LIVES AND ENSURE CHILDREN HAVE ACCESS TO THE REPORT. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. I TURN TO THE MINISTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS. >> ONCE AGAIN I WOULD LIKE TO REITERATE OUR GOVERNMENT IS ACTIVELY INVESTING. OUR GOVERNMENT IS AT THE FOREFRONT ACROSS CANADA FROM THE STAND POINTS OF INVESTMENTS THAT ARE BEING MADE IN MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS. IN FACT NOT ONLY ARE WE INVESTING IN MENTAL HEALTH BUT EDUCATION. AND THE AMOUNT OF MONEY BEING INVESTED IS ABOVE AND BEYOND ANY MONEY THAT'S EVER BEEN INVESTED BY ANY GOVERNMENT, EVEN THE ONE THAT YOU, WHEN YOUR GOVERNMENT WAS IN POWER.

WE ARE MAKING A SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCE AND MAKING TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE IN A SYSTEM THAT WAS BROKEN LONG BEFORE WE CAME IN TO POWER. AND THE PANDEMIC WHICH EXACERBATED THE SITUATION IS BEING ADDRESSED AS WELL WITH THE INVESTMENTS BEING MADE WHICH NOW TOTAL OVER $525 MILLION ANNUALLY. IN FACT CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH ONTARIO SAID THE GOVERNMENT'S NEW MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS STRATEGY, THE ROADMAP TO WELLNESS IS A START TOWARDS MAKING THE TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGES TO ADDRESS THE GAPS FOR SERVICE AND WAIT TIMES FOR YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS. AND WE WILL CONTINUE MAKING THOSE INVESTMENTS. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. NEW QUESTION THE DEPUTY LEADER. >> I WOULD LIKE TO REMIND THE MINISTER OF MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS THAT IT WAS THIS GOVERNMENT THAT CUT PLANNED INCREASES IN 2018 THE MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET.

BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY FOR CHILDREN IN OUR PROVINCE, SPEAKER. WHEN EXPERTS LIKE CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH ONTARIO CALL ON US TO INVEST TO CUT THE WAIT LIST AND BUILD CAPACITY, THEY CAN COUNT ON NEW DEMOCRATS TO SUPPORT THAT CALL TO ACTION. BUT CHILDREN IN ONTARIO CAN'T COUNT ON THIS GOVERNMENT TO DO THE SAME. UNDER THE LIBERALS, THE WAIT LIST SHOULD HAVE NEVER REACHED 2 AND A HALF YEARS FOR CHILDREN TO SEE A MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL. AND THE WAIT LIST WAS MADE WORSE WHEN THIS PREMIER MADE CUTS. WILL HE RECOGNIZE NOW IS THE TIME FOR UNIVERSAL MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES TO BE A PART OF OHIP AND USE THE UPCOMING BUDGET TO BUILD A BETTER MENTAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM FOR OUR CHILDREN AND PEOPLE ACROSS ONTARIO. >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE ASSOCIATE MINISTER OF MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION. >> MR. SPEAKER, I THOUGHT THIS ISSUE WAS ADDRESSED THE LAST TIME I WAS ASKED. THE $325 MILLION THAT'S BEING REFERRED TO IS IN FACT A CAMPAIGN PROMISE BY A GOVERNMENT THAT GOT SEVEN SEATS IN THE LAST ELECTION. THIS GOVERNMENT INVESTED A 5% INCREASE OVER THE AMOUNT THAT WAS INVESTED PREVIOUSLY BY PREVIOUS GOVERNMENTS.

THIS GOVERNMENT IS MAKING TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE IN A SYSTEM THAT WAS BROKEN LONG BEFORE WE CAME TO POWER. IN 2010 WITH YOUR MEMBERS AS PART OF THAT STANDING COMMITTEE, TALKED ABOUT LACK OF ACCESS, FRAGMENTATION, A BROKEN SYSTEM. IT TOOK THIS GOVERNMENT TO BUILD A ROADMAP TO WELLNESS. [ Applause ] >> AND IT'S BACKED BY AN INVESTMENT OF $525 MILLION ANNUALIZED. $3.8 BILLION OVER TEN YEARS. WE WILL NOT TAKE LESSONS OR LISTEN TO THE ILLUSION THAT IS SOMEHOW WE REDUCED SPENDING ON HEALTH. THAT'S PREPOSTEROUS. I CAN'T EVEN COMMENT ON THAT. AND THIS IS NOT THE FIRST. IT'S THE 10th TIME I HAVE HEARD THE SAME NONSENSE. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. SUPPLEMENTARY, I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FOR LONDON-WEST. >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS TO THE PREMIER. THIS MORNING THE EQUAL PAY COALITION WAS AT QUEEN'S PARK TODAY WITH LEADERS OF THE ONTARIO FEDERATION OF LABOUR, THE ONTARIO NURSES ASSOCIATION, AND SEIU HEALTHCARE. THEY WERE HERE TO SOUND THE ALARM ON THE FORD GOVERNMENT'S ATTACK ON THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND PAY EQUITY RIGHTS OF NURSES, PSWS, AND MANY OTHER WOMEN WORKERS IN WOMEN,S HEALTHCARE, AND SOCIAL SERVICES.

THE COALITION AND LABOUR LEADERS ARE UNITED IN CALLING ON THIS GOVERNMENT TO REPEAL BILL 124 WITHDRAW BILL 106. PAY HEALTHCARE WORKERS WHAT THEY DESERVE AND STOP OVERRIDING WOMEN'S RIGHTS TO PAY EQUITY. WHY DID THIS GOVERNMENT DECIDE TO GUT BAY EQUITY IN BILL 106 INSTEAD OF SIMPLY PAYING PSWS, NURSES, AND OTHER PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS WHAT THEY SERVE. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. I RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SKILLS. >> WELL, MR. SPEAKER, THANK YOU SO MUCH AND I THANK THE MEMBER OPPOSITE FOR THIS QUESTION.

FIRST I WANT TO BEGIN BY THANKING ALL OF THOSE FRONTLINE HEALTHCARE WORKERS WHO WORKED EVERY DAY TO PROTECT OUR FAMILIES AND ALL OF OUR COMMUNITIES. BUT, MR. SPEAKER, I ALSO WANT TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO PERSONALLY PAY TRIBUTE TO A TRAILBLAZER IN THIS PROVINCE. AND THAT IS A FORMER PREMIER KATHLEEN WYNNE THE MEMBER FOR DON VALLEY WEST. SHE BLAZE AD TRAIL AND INSPIRED MANY PEOPLE ACROSS THIS PROVINCE. AND I JUST WANT TO SHARE A STORY. WE ALL KNOW THAT THE PREMIERS HAVE A HECTIC SCHEDULE, A BUSY SCHEDULE. BUT FOR ME, I REMEMBER THIS ONE MOMENT AT QUEEN'S PARK WHEN I WAS BACK IN OPPOSITION CRITICAL OF THE FORMER GOVERNMENT. BUT MY DAUGHTER WAS OUT FRONT OF THE LEGISLATURE, AND THE PREMIER TOOK TIME TO COME OVER AND TALK TO HER AS A YOUNG LADY.

SO. >> The Speaker: ANSWER. >> I WILL SAY TO THE FORMER PREMIER ON BEHALF OF THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO, ON BEHALF OF THIS GOVERNMENT, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. [ Applause ] >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FOR — OH, SORRY. MY APOLOGIES. MY APOLOGIES. SUPPLEMENTARY. THE MEMBER FOR LONDON-WEST. >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. THEY SAY THERE'S A REASON WHY THIS IS CALLED QUESTION PERIOD AND NOT ANSWER PERIOD. SPEAKER, BILL 106 OVERTURNS HARD-WON SUPREME COURT VICTORIES ON PAY EQUITY.

IT IS A DIRECT ATTACK ON THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES WHO HAVE CARRIED US THROUGH THIS PANDEMIC. IT IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL INTERFERENCE WITH COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS JUST LIKE THE FORD GOVERNMENT'S EARLIER ATTACK ON WORKERS WITH BILL 124. SPEAKER, A POLL COMMISSIONED BY THE EQUAL PAY COALITION WAS RELEASED THIS MORNING SHOWING THAT 85% OF ONTARIANS BELIEVE IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO DO MORE TO PROMOTE WOMEN'S ECONOMIC EQUALITY.

THAT MEANS DECENT WAGES AND WORKING CONDITIONS LIKE PERMANENT PAID SICK DAYS. SPEAKER, ONTARIO VOTERS CARE ABOUT WOMEN'S ECONOMIC EQUALITY. WHY DOESN'T THIS GOVERNMENT? >> The Speaker: I RETURN TO THE MINISTER OF MAYBOR AND SKILLS. >> WELL, MR. SPEAKER, IT IS A PRIORITY OF THIS GOVERNMENT. AND I WANT TO REMIND THE MEMBER OPPOSITE THAT EVERYONE DESERVES EQUAL PAY PARTICLES OF THEIR GENDER. AND, MR. SPEAKER, I WANT TO THANK THE PAY EQUITY COMMISSIONER KATIE WARD WHO I POINTED OUT A COUPLE YEARS AGO. SHE IS DOING GREAT WORK TO ENSURE WOMEN HAVE EQUAL PAY IN THIS PROVINCE. MR. SPEAKER, KATIE WARD, THE NEW PAY EQUITY COMMISSIONER COMES WITH A WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE. SHE'S WORKED IN THE UKRAINE. AND I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT MANY OF THE UKRAINIAN REFUGEES THAT ARE GOING TO BE COMING HERE ARE GOING TO BE WOMEN AND CHILDREN. AND WE ARE GOING TO BE THERE WITH SUPPORTS FOR THESE WOMEN AND CHILDREN THAT COME HERE. THAT'S WHY I WAS PROUD TO JOIN THE MINISTER OF HEALTH, THE PREMIER, THE MINISTER OF INFRASTRUCTURE YESTERDAY AND UKRAINIAN-CANADIAN LEADERS TO ANNOUNCE OVER $300 MILLION IN SUPPORTS FOR UKRAINIAN REFUGEES TO FIND SAFE HAVENS HERE IN ONTARIO.

[ Applause ] >> The Speaker: THAT WAS A TEST TO MAKE SURE THE HOUSE WAS PAYING ATTENTION TO HOLD THE SPEAKER ACCOUNTABLE, SO THANK YOU VERY MUCH. IT IS NOW TIME FOR A NEW QUESTION. THE MEMBER FOR MISSISSAUGA CENTRE HAS THE FLOOR. >> THANK YOU SO MUCH, SPEAKER. GOOD MORNING. MY QUESTION IS TO THE MINISTER OF FINANCE. MINISTER, I HEARD FROM SO MANY CONSTITUENTS IN MY RIDING OF MISSISSAUGA-CENTRE WHO ARE VERY CONCERNED AFTER THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RAISED THE PRICE OF THE CARBON TAX LAST FRIDAY. SPEAKER, THESE PEOPLE ARE HARD-WORKING ONTARIO FAMILIES. MOMS, DADS,ERS IS, AND OUR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD A VERY, VERY LONG TWO YEARS. AND AS THE COSTS CONTINUE TO RISE ESPECIALLY THE COST OF LIVING, THIS PATH INCREASE ALMOST COULDN'T COME AT A RIGHT TIME. HOW IS THE SPEAKER AND THE GOVERNMENT PLANNING TO ADDRESS THESE TAX HIKES IMPOSED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND CUT COSTS FOR ONTARIO FAMILIES? >> The Speaker: THANK YOU.

I RECOGNIZE THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT TO THE MINISTER OF FINANCE. >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. AND THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER FROM MISSISSAUGA CENTRE. AND IF I COULD JUST SAY HERE IN THE HOUSE, I WOULD LIKE TO PERSONALLY THANK HER FOR HER INCREDIBLE WORK NOT JUST ON THE FRONT LINES AS A NURSE AND RECOGNIZING HER PROFESSION, BUT ALSO HER INCREDIBLE ADVOCACY AND MARGINALIZED IN HER COMMUNITY. BUT MY COLLEAGUE IS COMPLETELY RIGHT. OUR GOVERNMENT UNDERSTANDS THAT TAXPAYERS ARE UNDER TREASURE. WE RECOGNIZE THE IMPACT THAT INFLATION AND CERTAINLY THE IMPACT OF RISING GLAN AND FUEL RISES IS HAVING ON BUSINESSES AND FAMILIES. AND OUR GOVERNMENT IS HERE FOR THEM. THAT'S WHY WE AS WE HAVE AS PART OF OUR PLAN TO PROVIDE RELIEF ACROSS THE BOARD, OUR GOVERNMENT HAS INTRODUCED A TAX RELIEF THAT WOULD IF PASSED TEMPORARILY CUT GAS TAX BY 5.7 CENTS PER LITRE AND THE FUEL TAX BY 5.3 CENTS PER LITRE FOR SIX MONTHS BEGINNING JULY 1st. THIS IS JUST ONE PART OF OUR PLAN TO CUT COSTS FOR EVERY ONTARIAN.

>> The Speaker: SUPPLEMENTARY. I REFER TO THE MEMBER FOR MISSISSAUGA-CENTRE. >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER, AND THANK YOU TO THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT FOR THAT RESPONSE. IT'S GREAT TO HEAR THAT OUR GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN THE INITIATIVE SO QUICKLY AFTER THIS INCREASE IN THE CARBON TAX BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ENSURING THAT ONTARIANS KEEP MORE MONEY IN THEIR POCKETS NOT THE GOVERNMENT POCKETS. AFTER 15 LONG YEARS OF LIBERAL MISMANAGEMENT, IT'S GREAT TO BE A PART OF A GOVERNMENT THAT IS WORKING FOR THE TEMPORARY, FOR R THE TAXPAYER, FOR THE PEOPLE IN SO MANY WAYS.

BUT WITH SO MUCH ONGOING ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY, THE PRESSURE THAT SO MANY ONTARIANS ARE UNDER DUE TO INFLATION AND RISING COSTS IS BECOMING VERY DIFFICULT TO BEAR. THROUGH YOU, WHAT IS THE MINISTER AND THE GOVERNMENT'S PLAN TO HELP BUILD ONTARIO AND CUT COSTS FOR ONTARIO'S HARD-WORKING FAMILIES. >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT. >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER, AND THANK YOU AGAIN TO THE MEMBER FOR THE GREAT QUESTION FROM THE MEMBER FROM MISSISSAUGA-CENTRE. AND SHE'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. ONTARIANS FACED A TOUGH TWO YEARS FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND ITS ECONOMIC IMPACTS. NO GOVERNMENT BETTER UNDERSTANDS THAT. AND THAT'S WHY WE ARE CONTINUING TO CALL ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND JOIN ONTARIO IN PROVIDING RELIEF FOR FAMILIES AND WORKERS BY CUTTING THE CARBON TAX.

THE TAX RELIEF AT THE PUMPS ACT IS JUST ONE PART OF OUR PLAN TO CONTINUE TO BUILD ONTARIO AND KEEP MORE MONEY FLOWING INTO THE POCKETS OF HARD-WORKING ONTARIANS. FROM THE WE ARE MOVING UNFAIR ROAD TOTS ON HIGHWAY 412 AND 418 IMPOSED BY THE DEL DUCA GOVERNMENT TO TAX RELIEF FOR SENIORS, WORKERS AND FAMILIES. THIS GOVERNMENT IS KEEPING COSTS DOWN FOR THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO. WE ARE THE ONLY PARTY THAT SAYS YES TO THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO AND A PLAN TO FIGHT FOR THEM. THANK YOU.

>> The Speaker: NEW QUESTION. I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FOR THUNDER BAY-ATIKOKAN. >> NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO HAS A DIRE SHORTAGE OF PHYSICIANS AND NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED NOW. FOR EXAMPLE THE CEO OF THE LAKE OF THE WOODS DISTRACT HOSPITAL TOLD CANORA ONLINE HE'S NEVER SEEN THIS MANY VACANCIES. BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF STAFF, THE ICU HAD TO CLOSE 14 TIMES SINCE SEPTEMBER. ONE OF THE BIGGEST BARRIERS TO SOLVING THIS PROBLEM IS THAT THE HOSPITAL HAS GREAT DIFFICULTY RECRUITING DOCTORS.

THE GOVERNMENT KNOWS THAT EVEN WITH THE EXPANSION, IT WILL TAKE MANY YEARS TO CLEAR THE CURRENT PHYSICIAN SHORTAGE OF 325 DOCTORS. AND THAT NUMBER WILL CONTINUE TO RISE. WHAT IS THIS GOVERNMENT GOING TO DO TO IMMEDIATELY ADDRESS THE PHYSICIAN SHORTAGE IN NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. I RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. >> THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SPEAKER. OUR GOVERNMENT DID MAKE A COMMITMENT TO END HALLWAY HEALTHCARE. AND THAT STARTS WITH IMPROVING ACCESS TO PRIMARY CARE SERVICES FOR THOSE LIVING IN RURAL AND NORTHERN ONTARIO. WE DO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS A PARTICULAR CONCERN IN NORTHERN ONTARIO WITH ATTRACTING AND RETAINING PHYSICIANS. BUT WE HAVE BOTH LONG-TERM AND SHORT-TERM SOLUTIONS TO THAT PROBLEM. WE ARE PROVIDING $6.2 MILLION ACROSS 32 PRIMARY CARE TEAMS TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO PRIMARY CARE ACROSS THE PROVINCE.

WE ALSO HAVE SHORT-TERM SOLUTIONS. I KNOW IT'S NOT IDEAL BUT WE HAVE LOCAL PLACEMENTS IN MANY NORTHERN COMMUNITIES. I THINK THE BIGGEST LONG-TERM SOLUTION THAT WE HAVE IS INCREASING THE NUMBER OF PLACEMENTS IN MEDICAL SCHOOLS ACROSS ONTARIO. BUT I CAN SPEAK TO THAT MORE SPECIFICALLY IN THE SUPPLEMENTAL. >> The Speaker: THE SUPPLEMENTAL. THE MEMBER FOR THUNDER BAY-ATIKOKAN. >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. AGAIN TO THE PLEEM, ALMOST EVERY DAY I HEAR FROM CONSTITUENTS WHO HAVE TROUBLE ACCESSING PRIMARY HEALTHCARE.

THIS HAS IMPACTS. WHEN WE TELL PEOPLE IN A PANDEMIC THAT YOU NEED TO CONSULT WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN AND THEY DON'T HAVE ONE, IT'S A TRB. AS THE PHYSICIAN WORKFORCE STRATEGY MAKES CLEAR, WE NEED SHORT, MEDIUM, AND LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS TO ENSURE THAT HEALTHCARE NEEDS OF NORTHERNERS ARE TAKEN CARE OF. EXPERTS SAY SOLUTIONS INVOLVE TRAINING NEW DOCTORS, RECRUITING DOCTORS FROM OTHER PLACES, AND RETAINING DOCTORS WE HAVE WORKING IN THE REGION NOW. PHYSICIANS ARE BURNING OUT. THEY'RE DESPERATE. THEY'RE LEAVING. THIS NEEDS TO BE SYSTEMIC, SYSTEMIC, COORDINATED APPROACH. WHAT IS THIS GOVERNMENT GOING TO DO TO ENSURE THAT — >> The Speaker: QUESTION. >> SYSTEMIC APPROACH TO THE POSITION SHORTAGE IN NORTHERN ONTARIO. THANK YOU. >> The Speaker: I RETURN TO THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. >> THANK YOU. WE ARE TAKING A SYSTEMIC APPROACH TO DEAL WITH THIS SITUATION WITH A VARIETY OF SOLUTIONS. ONE IS AS I PREVIOUSLY SAID INCREASING THE ALLOCATIONS TO OUR PRIMARY HEALTHCARE TEAM. BUT THERE'S ALSO VIRTUAL CARE WHICH IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE COMMON. MORE ONTARIANS WANT TO USE THAT.

WE ARE DIGITIZING OURMAKER RECORDS AND ALLOWING MORE PEOPLE IN NORTHERN ONTARIO TO OBTAIN PHYSICIANS FROM OTHER LOCATIONS. AND AS YOU MENTIONED, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE ARE DOING IS INCREASING THE NUMBER OF DOCTORS WE HAVE IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. WE ARE CRESTING THE NUMBER OF PLACEMENTS BY 160. UNDERGRADUATES AND 295 POST GRADUATE SEATS OF WHICH THE NORTHERN ONTARIO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE WILL BE RECEIVING 30 UNDERGRADUATE AND 41 POST GRADUATE SEATS. THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN NORTHERN ONTARIO TO BE ABLE TO TRAIN IN NORTHERN ONTARIO. AND IT'S MUCH MORE LIKELY THAT THEY WILL STAY IN NORTHERN ONTARIO. >> The Speaker: ANSWER. >> THAT IS A TRUE LONG-TERM SOLUTION TO THIS. >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FROM CHATHAM-KENT-LEAMINGTON. >> THANK YOU. THROUGH YOU TO THE MINISTER OF COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. THE OBJECTIVES OF DIRECTIVE 6 WERE TO SET OUT A CONSISTENT APPROACH TO COVID-19 IMMUNIZATION POLICY.

BUT DIRECTIVE 6 ALSO ALLOWED FOR UNVACCINATED STUDENTS TO CONTINUE TO LEARN ONLINE AND THAT SEEMED TO BE OKAY FOR STUDENTS WHOSE PERSONAL CHOICE WAS TO NOT GET VACCINATED. IT WAS IMMORAL THAT THE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES DECIDED ON THEIR OWN WHEN THEY IMPLEMENTED AN UNNECESSARY POLICY OF VACCINATE OR TERMINATE OR EVEN LOSE YOUR ACADEMIC YEAR. STUDENTS HAD PERSONAL REASONS FOR NOT WANTING THE VACCINE. AND WAS IT OBVIOUS THESE NONMEDICAL POWERS TO BE DISREGARDED PERSONAL CHOICE. YOUR GOVERNMENT CONTINUED TO ALLOW THESE INSTITUTIONS TO MOVE FAR BEYOND DIRECTIVE 6 INTO A HEAVY-HANDED AUTHORITARIAN APPROACH. SO, MINISTER, WILL YOU STEP IN AND STOP THESE NONMEDICAL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS FROM FORCING AN INVASIVE MEDICAL PROCEDURE ON STAFF AND STUDENTS? >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. I RECOGNIZE THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER. >> THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER.

OBVIOUSLY OUR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ARE INDEPENDENT INSTITUTIONS THAT MAKE INDEPENDENT DECISIONS. THE GOOD NEWS IS AS THE MINISTER OF HEALTH HAS HIGHLIGHTED WITH ME, HIGH VACCINATION RATES IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO AND REALLY THE GROUND BREAKING INVESTMENTS WE HAVE AHEAD IN HOSPITAL CAPACITY IN PREPARING THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO INVOLVING 15 YEARS OF FAILURE TO MAKE THESE TYPES OF INVESTMENTS. ONTARIO IS IN A VERY GOOD SPOT. AT THE SAME TIME IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT OUR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES REALLY PIVOTED VERY QUICKLY. IT TOOK A LOT O THAT OUR STUDENO CONDITION TO LEARN ONLINE WHEN O CONDITION TO LEARN ONLINE WHEN THE PIVOT WAS NECESSARY. THE MINISTER OF COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES DID SOME GREAT WORK ON THAT AS DID THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION FOR OUR ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL SIEWNTS.

>> The Speaker: ANSWER. >> DESPITE A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. OUR STUDENTS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CONTINUE WORKING AND CONTINUE TO GRADUATE. THEY CONTINUE TO PROVIDE EXCEPTIONAL PERFECT TO THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. >> The Speaker: SUPPLEMENTARY. I RETURN TO THE MEMBER FROM CHATHAM-KENT-LEAMINGTON. THESE INSTITUTIONS CONTINUE TO GO EVEN FURTHER BY MANDATING VACCINES FOR ALL STUDENTS AND LECTURERS REGARDLESS OF WHEN THEY TAKE THE COURSES ONLINE OR ON CAMPUS.

DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE? STUDENTS HAVE NO OPTION. THEY ARE BEING COERCED. COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ARE FORCING STUDENTS IF THEY WANT TO PASS TO ATTEND IN PERSON TO BE VACCINATED. IF NOT, THEY ARE DISENROLLED. STUDENTS WHO HAVE BEEN DISENROLLED CLAIM THEY ARE UNABLE TO CONFIRM IF THE STUDENT WILL BE RETURNING MUST REPAY SIX MONTHS AFTER DISENROLMENT. WHY? PERHAPS YOUR MINISTRY COULD RECONSIDER ITS STAND AND IMPLEMENT A NO VACCINE MANDATE AND TELL THESE INSTITUTIONS THEY CAN NO LONGER MANDATE VACCINES. IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT EDUCATION IS SOMETHING NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY FROM YOU.

MINISTER, DON'T TAKE STUDENTS' EDUCATION AWAY. SO, MINISTER, WHAT ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO TO PROTECT UNVACCINATED STUDENTS WHO ARE ENTITLED TO AN EDUCATION AND A GOOD JOB? >> The Speaker: RETURN TO THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER. >> AGAIN THANK THE MEMBER FORRH T . PEOF WE OVEN ARE PREPARED TO DO EVERYTHING IT TAKES TO KEEP THE PEOPLE OF THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO SAFE. THAT IS WHY THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION WHEN IT COMES TO ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY STUDENTS HAVE ENSURED WE HAVE ONE OF IF NOT THE SAFEST RETURN TO SCHOOL PROTOCOLS IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. THE MINISTER OF COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES WHEN THE PANDEMIC HIT, WE KNEW VERY WELL HOW IMPORTANT IT WAS TO ALLOW THESE STUDENTS TO CONTINUE THEIR EDUCATION SO THAT THEY COULD GRADUATE, SO THAT THEY COULD PROGRESS INTO THE CAREERS OF THEIR CHOICE, WHAT THEY HAD WORKED SO HARD TO.

THAT IS WHY WE PUT ENORMOUS INERONGEODI. A OW OOW I COES NDNIVESIES TO PIVOT VERY QUICKLY. SOMETHING THEY WERE GOING TO DO OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. WE ALLOWED IT TO HAPPEN SEAMLESSLY AND VERY QUICKLY SO THAT THEY COULD CONTINUE TO GET THE EDUCATION THAT THEY'RE PAYING FOR, MR. SPEAKER. AND THAT IS SO VITAL NOT ONLY FOR THEIR FUTURE BUT THE FUTURE OF THE PEOPLE OF THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. THE MINISTER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND TRADE HAS SO MANY JOBS IN THE DIFFERENT SECTORS OF THE ECONOMY. WE NEED THEM TO GRADUATE SO THEY CAN FILL THE THOUSANDS OF JOBS THAT ARE EMPTY AND KNEADING TO BE FILLED. THEY HAVE A GREAT FUTURE AS FMO ALLNTIA.

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>> The Speaker: THANK YOU. NEW QUESTION I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FROM PERTH-WELLINGTON. >> THANK YOU. MR. SPEAKER. ANY QUESTION IS FOR THE MINISTER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, JOB CREATION, AND TRADE. WE SAW THE MINISTER OF MAWMENT MAKE AN EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT AT MCMASTER INNOVATION PARK. ONTARIO'S LIFE SCIENCES SECT SR. A PEE CALF THE ECONOMY AND EMPLOYS THOUSANDS OF WORKERS ACROSS THE PROVINCE. NOW MORE THAN EVER, ONTARIANS VANY,EDE, O AOVERNMENT GROW THE LIFE SCIENCES SECTOR AND SECURE NEW INVESTMENTS IN NEXT GENERATION HEALTH TECHNOLOGY, MEDICINE, AND VACCINE MANUFACTURING. SPEAKER, THROUGH YOU, CAN THE MINISTER TELL US HOW HIS MINISTRY AND OUR GOVERNMENT PLANS TO GROW ONTARIO'S BIOMANUFACTURING AND LIFE SCIENCES SECTOR. >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, JOB CREATION, AND TRADE. >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. COMPANIES THAT MADE A STREAK OF GAME-CHANGING INVESTMENTS IN ONTARIO IN THE AUTO SECTOR RECENTLY IN THE PAST 17 MONTHS WE HAVE SEEN 12 MILLION IN INVESTMENTS ADDING THOUSANDS OF JOBS.

B A SHE PIOD MOFBIM INDUT OTHER SECTORS IN ONTARIO HAD BEEN SEEING SIMILAR SUCCESS. OVER THAT SAME PERIOD OF TIME, ONTARIO HAS WELCOMED INVESTMENTS OF ALMOST $2 BILLION BY LEADING LIFE SCIENCE COMPANIES INCLUDING CENOFEE AND ROCHE. LAST WEEK THEY ANNOUNCED $580 MILLION INVESTMENT TO BUILD A NEW CELL AND GENE THERAPY MATCHERRING FACILITY AT MCMASTER UNIVERSITY IN HAMILTON. AND INVEST ONTARIO MADE THEIR OA IRHA AIL INVESTMENT BY PROVIDING $40 MILLION. SO WHETHER IT'S A GAME-KANGING AUTO INVESTMENT ONE DAY OR A HALF A BILLION DOLLAR LIFE SCIENCE INVESTMENT THE OTHER DAY, IT'S CLEAR THAT ONTARIO IS GETTING STRONGER. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. SUPPLEMENTARY. I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FROM PERTH-WELLINGTON. >> THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER, FOR THAT ANSWER. WE HAVE SEEN A NUMBER OF INVESTMENTS OVER THE PAST YEAR WHICH CONTRIBUTED TO THE GROWTH OF ONTARIO'S LIFE SCIENCE SECTOR.

I AM SURE MY CONSTITUENTS AND ALL ONTARIANS ARE EXCITED TO HEAR ABOUT THE RECORD-BREAKING INVESTMENT WE HAVE ISR UHATTEDS OPPOSED TO THE MASS EXODUS OF JOBS CAUSED BY THE PREVIOUS LIBERAL GOVERNMENT. SPEAKER, THROUGH YOU, COULD THE MINISTER TELL US WHAT NEW INVESTMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE AND HOW HIS MINISTRY IS POSITIONING ONTARIO TO BE THE LIFE SCIENCES SECTOR OF CANADA. >> LAST WEEK WE ALSO ANNOUNCE AD NEW LIFE SCIENCES STRATEGY.

THE VERY FIRST PROVINCIAL STRATEGY FOR THAT SECTOR IN MORE THAN A DECADE. AND THIS ANNOUNCEMENT INCLUDED $15 MILLION FOR THE LIFE SCIENCES INNOVATION PROGRAM WHICH HELPED PITI HEBY 2 SECTOR FOR LONG-TERM GROWTH, INVESTMENT, AND JOB CREATION. WE SET A LOFTY GOAL OF 85,000 HIGH VALUE JOBS BY 2030 FOCUSING ON FOUR AREAS, GROWING OUR BUSINESS BIOMANUFACTURING, BUILDING DOMESTIC TPE, BOOSTING DMECIALIZATION, AND ADOPTING ADG INNOVATION. WE ARE ESTABLISHING ONTARIO AS A GLOBAL LEADER IN BIOMANUFACTURING AND LIFE SCIENCES. AND WE WILL CONTINUE MAKING THE RIGHT AND STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS TO SUPPORT TGHGH AN OP C ATICALNJUIESNTRGLNG OU LIFE SCIENCES SECTOR.

>> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FROM BRAMPTON EAST. >> MY QUESTION IS TO THE PREMIER. TIMES ARE REALLY TOUGH RIGHT NOW. AND PEOPLE ARE STRUGGLING WITH HOW EXPENSIVE LIFE IS BECOMING FROM THE COST OF GAS TO PROBERS TO AUTO INSURANCE. BUT INSTEAD OF HELPING PEOPLE, THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT IS ALLOWING BILLION DOLLAR CAR INSURANCE COMPANIES TO RIP OFF ONTARIO. DOES THE PREMIER THINK IT'S OKAY THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE IN ONTARIO WHO THINK IT'S OKAY TO PAY MORE ON CAN INSURANCE THAN THEIR OWN HOME. IS IT FAIR THIS WILL PEOPLE CHARGED WITH HIGHER RATES BECAUSE OF WHERE THEY LIVE. DOES THE PREMIER THINK IT'S OKAY THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET OFF THE CRUSHING COST OF CAR INSURANCE. IT'S NOT OKAY. BUT THE PREMIER IS ALLOWING IT TO HAPPEN. WILL THE PREMIER DO THE RIGHT THING AND VOTE YES TO OUR NDP BILL TO LOWER CAR INSURANCE RATES TO MAKE LIFE MORE AFFORDABLE.

>> The Speaker: QUESTION. I RECOGNIZE THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT TO THE MINISTER OF FINANCE. >> NO, AND I APPRECIATE THAT QUESTION BECAUSE THE MEMBER IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO WORK HARD AND OUR GOVERNMENT UNDERSTANDS THAT THE TAXPAYERS ARE UNDER PRESSURE. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THE AUTO INSURANCE SECTOR SO VERY, VERY CLOSELY. AND THAT'S ALSO WHY WE HAD A CLEAR MESSAGE TO INSURANCE COMPANIES AS WE WENT THROUGH THE COVID PANDEMIC. YOU SHOULD PROVIDE RELIEF THAT REFLECTS THE FAN HARDSHIPS YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE FACING BECAUSE OF COVID-19. AND BY PROMOTING TIMELY ACTION BY INSURERS, OUR GOVERNMENT ENABLED MORE THAN $1 BILLION IN CONSUMER SAVINGS AFFECTING 93% OF ONTARIO DRIVERS. AND, MR. SPEAKER, WE CONTINUE TO REMOVE BARRIERS TO RELIEF. AND BY DOING THAT, WE WILL BE ABLE TO PROVIDE OPTIONS AND CHOICE TO CONSUMERS IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO.

AND IN FACT DAVID MARSHAL'S NEW REPORT. >> The Speaker: ANSWER. >> STATED THAT SINCE 2019, HAS BEEN ACTIVE IN REDUCING REGULATORY BURDEN. WE SUPPORT THE WORK THE REGULATOR IS DOING AND TO CUT RED TAPE. I WILL SAY MORE IN THE SUPPLEMENTAL. >> The Speaker: I RETURN THE SUPPLEMENTARY THE MEMBER FOR BRAMPTON-EAST. >> BACK TO THE PREMIER. THE ONLY THING THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT IS FOLLOWING IS WHATEVER THEIR INSIDER FRIENDS AND BUDDIES WANT IN THE INSURANCE COMPANIES. IF WE LOOK AT THE TRACK RECORD OF THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT, IT'S VERY CLEAR. THEY HAVE ALLOWED RATES TO GO UP IN 2018 WHEN THEY FIRST GOT ELECTED. THEY ALLOWED RATES TO GO UP WHEN WE SAW TRAFFIC DROP TO SOME OF THE LOWEST DURING THE HEIGHTS OF THE PANDEMIC.

AND NOW AS PEOPLE STRUGGLE TO MAKE ENDS MEET, THEY CONTINUE TO LET RATES GO UP. AND IN CASE THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT WAS CONFUSED, LET ME MAKE IT CLEAR. THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE PREMIER. RATES ONLY GO UP WHEN THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT ALLOW THEM TO GO UP. PEOPLE DESERVE BETTER. THEY DESERVE TO LIVE AN AFFORDABLE LIFE WHERE THEY'RE NOT SUFFERING UNDER THESE CRUSHING AUTO INSURANCE PREMIUMS. SO WILL THE PREMIER DO THE RIGHT THING AND VOTE YES TO OUR NDP BILL AND MAKE LIFE MORE AFFORDABLE FOR ONTARIANS. >> The Speaker: I RETURN TO THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT. >> THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. YOU KNOW, DAVID MARSHALL'S NEW REPORT SAID THE FUTURE OF CONSUMER SERVICE LIES IN BEING RESPONSIVE TO RAPID CHANGES SUCH AS PRICING AND INVASION. WE IMPLEMENT AD NEW REGULATORY SANDBOX TO RESPOND TO CONSUMER NEEDS. SUCCESSFUL INNOVATIONS WOULD BE DELIVERED TO THE CONSUMER MARKET.

WE WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE CONSUMER CHOICE THROUGH ENABLING OUR AUTO INSURANCE TO OFFER PROPERTY DAMAGE SAVINGS FOR GOOD DRIVERS WITH TELEMETRICS AND STRONGER ANTIFRAUD MEASURES. MR. SPEAKER, THE KEY IS AVORDABILITY. WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO, THE PEOPLE OF THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO NEED RELIEF. THAT IS WHY WE ARE TAKING MEASURES IN THE AUTO INSURANCE INDUSTRY, AT THE GAS PUMPS, WITH YOUR VEHICLE LICENCE PLATE STICKERS IN ORDER TO PROVIDE THAT RELIEF TO THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO. THANK YOU, SPEAKER. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. NEW QUESTION. I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FROM ORLEANS. >> THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. IN FACT THE KEY IS AFFORDABILITY. IN 2018, THIS GOVERNMENT MADE A NUMBER OF BIG PROMISES THAT THEY FAILED TO DELIVER ON INCLUDING THEIR PROMISE NOT TO TOUCH RENT CONTROL. I BELIEVE THE QUOTE FROM THE PREMIER AT THE TIME WAS I HAVE LISTENED TO THE PEOPLE.

AND I WON'T TAKE RENT CONTROL AWAY FROM ANYONE PERIOD. WHEN IT COMES TO RENT CONTROL, WE ARE GOING TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO. THAT'S MAY 2018. LO AND BEHOLD, ONE OF THE VERY FIRST THINGS THIS PREMIER DID WAS TO TAKE RENT CONTROL AWAY FROM THOUSANDS OF ONTARIANS. AND A YEAR LATER, TENANTS WERE REPORTING DOUBLE DIGIT INCREASES. WITH SKY ROCKETING HOUSING COSTS RIGHT ACROSS THE PROVINCE, THESE RENT CONTROLS COULD HAVE PROVIDED MUCH NEEDED RELIEF TO THOUSANDS OF RENTERS STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET. THIS IS JUST ANOTHER BROKEN PROMISE IN THE LONG LIST OF BROKEN PROMISES FROM THE PREMIER. AFTER TWO YEARS OF TURMOIL, DOES THE GOVERNMENT REGRET BREAKING THEIR 2018 COMMITMENT TO MAINTAIN RENT CONTROL IN ONTARIO? >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. I RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER OF MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS AND HOUSING. >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. AND I WANT TO THANK THE HONOURABLE MEMBER FOR THE QUESTION. IT GIVES US THE OPPORTUNITY AS A GOVERNMENT TO TALK ABOUT WHAT WE PROMISED ONTARIANS. WE PROMISED ONTARIANS FROM THE FIRST DAY WE SAT IN THE LEGISLATURE THAT WE WERE GOING TO DO EVERYTHING WE COULD TO INCREASE HOUSING SUPPLY. WE ALSO KEPT OUR PROMISE TO PRESERVE RENT CONTROL FOR EXISTING TENANTS.

[ Please Stand By ] >> THEY PROMISED THE 20% INCOME TAX CUT. FAILED. THE GOVERNMENT CAN COME UP WITH ANY EXCUSE THEY WANT, BUT ONTARIANS KNOW THEIR RATE IS HIGHER TODAY THAN IT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO. THE COST OF A ONE-BEDROOM RENTAL IN OTTAWA IS OVER $1,600. IN TORONTO IT'S OVER $2,000. THIS MORNING I TOOK A LOOK IN BROCKVILLE. IT'S ALMOST $1,300 IN BROCKVILLE. RENTS ARE SKY HIGH, AND THIS GOVERNMENT HAS DONE NOTHING TO KEEP THEM UNDER CONTROL. WILL THE GOVERNMENT ADMIT THAT THEY BROKE THEIR 2018 PROMISE TO MAINTAIN RENT CONTROL IN ONTARIO AND IMMEDIATELY BRING IT BACK TO RELIEF FOR ONTARIO FAMILIES? >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. AND I RETURN TO THE MINISTER OF MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS >> WE'RE SEEING 30-YEAR HIGHS IN COMMUNITIES ALL ACROSS ONTARIO. AND WE WANT TO BUILD UPON THAT. WE WANT TO WORK WITH OUR MUNICIPAL PARTNERS. AND WE'RE ALL VERY EXCITED ABOUT THE MEASURES THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS PUTTING FORWARD. THE MONEY THAT THEY'RE SPENDING. AND I'VE SAID IT MANY TIMES HERE. DEALING WITH THE HOUSING SUPPLY CRISIS IS A LONG-TERM STRATEGY. WE NEED ALL THREE LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT TO WORK.

BUT I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE ANY LESSONS FROM THIS GUY ACROSS THE WAY AND HIS PARTY. FOR 15 YEARS, HYDRO RATES. SITTING IN THE CONSTITUENCY OFFICE LIKE I HAD, SIR, AND HAVE EVERY SINGLE CALL FOR WEEK AFTER WEEK AFTER WEEK. YOU KNOW, COMPLAINING ABOUT THIS GOVERNMENT'S INACTION. CLOSING RURAL SCHOOLS. MAKING LIFE UNAFFORDABLE. CHOKING OFF OUR MEDIUM AND SMALL HOSPITALS. I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE ANY LESSONS FROM THIS GUY AT ALL. [ Some Applause ] >> The Speaker: NEW QUESTION. MEMBER FROM PARRY SOUND–MUSKOKA. >> THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE TREASURY BOARD. FROM DAY ONE OF THIS PANDEMIC, OUR GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN COMMITTED TO PROTECTING THE HEALTH, WELLBEING, AND SAFETY OF PEOPLE IN ONTARIO. WHEN WE SAW THE PANDEMIC WAS DECLARED IN MARCH OF 2020, ONTARIO WAS NOT PREPARED. COVID-19 EXPOSED LONG-STANDING GAPS IN OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. UNUSED PPE HAD EXPIRED. ONTARIO WAS RELIANT ON OTHER JURISDICTIONS FOR SUPPLIES AND PROVINCIAL PANDEMIC PLANS HAD NOT BEEN UPDATED. I WAS PLEASED TO SEE OUR GOVERNMENT RELEASE A PLAN TO STAY OPEN TO ENSURE WE ARE NEVER CAUGHT FLAT-FOOTED IN ANOTHER EMERGENCY. CAN THE PRESIDENT OF THE TREASURY BOARD TELL US EXACTLY WHAT IS IN OUR GOVERNMENT'S PLAN TO STAY OPEN? >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE PRESIDENT OF THE TREASURY BOARD.

>> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. AND THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER FROM PARRY SOUND–MUSKOKA FOR THAT TIMELY QUESTION. THE MEMBER IS EXACTLY RIGHT. AT THE OUTBREAK OF THIS PANDEMIC, WE WERE NOT PREPARED. THIS GOVERNMENT HAS MADE HISTORIC INVESTMENTS TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO, BUT IT IS CLEAR MORE MUST BE DONE. THAT IS WHY WE HAVE RELEASED A PLAN TO STAY OPEN AND INTRODUCED THE PANDEMIC AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS ACT TO BUILD UP OUR CAPACITY TO RESPOND. THESE STEPS WILL EXPAND ONTARIO'S HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE, IMPROVE THE PRODUCTION OF CRITICAL SUPPLY, AND BUILD MORE HOSPITAL BEDS TO ENSURE WE HAVE THE CAPACITY TO MEET ANY FUTURE CHALLENGES.

UNLIKE THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT, WE UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF INVESTING IN ONTARIO'S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. SPEAKER, I WILL HAVE MORE TO STAY IN THE SUPPLEMENTARY ABOUT THIS PLAN AND HOW WE WILL CONTINUE TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO BY KEEPING ONTARIO OPEN. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. SUPPLEMENTARY. I RETURN TO THE MEMBER FROM PARRY SOUND–MUSKOKA. >> THANK YOU, PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT, FOR THAT RESPONSE. THE PANDEMIC BROUGHT TO LIGHT LONG-STANDING PANDEMIC CHALLENGES. HALLWAY HEALTH CARE HAS BEEN A PROBLEM IN ONTARIO FOR DECADES. IN MY RIDING, OUR HOSPITALS ARE FREQUENTLY WELL OVER 100% CAPACITY.

LARGELY BECAUSE OF THE NUMBER OF PATIENTS WHO CAN'T GET INTO A LONG-TERM CARE FACILITY OR CAN'T GET HOME CARE. WE HAVE BEEN SEEING 40% OF OUR BEDS OCCUPIED BY ALC PATIENTS. OUR GOVERNMENT HAS 27,148 NEW AND 23,504 UPGRADED BEDS IN THE DEVELOPMENT PIPELINE. BACK TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE TREASURY BOARD. HOW WOULD HIS LEGISLATION ON A PLAN TO STAY OPEN ADD TO OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM? >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT. >> I WANT TO THANK THE MINISTER OF LONG-TERM CARE FOR ALL THE EXCELLENT WORK HE IS DOING TO BUILD OUR LONG-TERM CARE HOMES ACROSS THIS PROVINCE. I ALSO WANT TO THANK THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. WE ARE INVESTING TO ADDRESS CHALLENGES AROUND THE SHORTAGE. THESE INVESTMENTS WILL INCREASE CAPACITY IN THE EXISTING HOSPITALS. THIS WILL ADD OVER 3,000 NEW BEDS OVER THE NEXT DECADE. THIS GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY ADDED MANY TO THE SYSTEM. LET ME BE CLEAR TO THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO. WE KNOW IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PREPARE THE PROVINCE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. AND AGAIN, THIS PREMIER IS GETTING THINGS DONE. >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FROM OSHAWA. >> THE BACK DOOR MISSION AND ITS MISSION UNITED SERVICE PARTNERS ESTABLISHED A MODEL OF CARE.

THE DOWNTOWN CLINIC HAS OPERATED WITH ONE NURSE PRACTITIONER, ONE RN, AND ROTATING DOCTORS PROVIDING SPECIALIST CARE. THE MISSION UNITED CLINIC PROVIDES PRIMARY CARE AND A FULL CLINIC TO ABOUT 600 CLIENTS. INDIVIDUALS WHO DID NOT RECEIVE PRIMARY CARE DUE TO SYSTEMIC BARRIERS AND OTHERWISE MIGHT NOT. UNBELIEVABLY, THE FUNDING FROM THE PROVINCE THROUGH ONTARIO HELP AS EVAPORATED WITHOUT WARNING. DAYS AGO, WE FOUND OUT FUNDING WOULD NOT CONTINUE BEYOND MARCH 31ST, AND WE NEED THIS FUNDING TO CONTINUE. LIVES ARE AT STAKE. I SENT THE MINISTER A LETTER OUTLINING THE SITUATION. WILL THE MINISTER OF HEALTH COMMIT TO THE FUNDING NEEDED IMMEDIATELY TO RUN THIS DESPERATELY NEEDED ACUTE CARE CLINIC? >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. THE MINISTER OF MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS. >> THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. AND THANK YOU FOR THAT QUESTION. CLEARLY WHEN IT COMES TO MENTAL HEALTH, ADDICTIONS, AND OF COURSE HEALTH, THEY ARE INTERRELATED. IT'S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT THE SUPPORTS AND SERVICES ARE IN PLACE TO HELP EVERYONE. ESPECIALLY OUR MOST VULNERABLE. I JUST LEARNED OF THE BACKDOOR MISSION.

I'M NOT FAMILIAR WITH IT, BUT I CERTAINLY WOULD LIKE TO SPEND A LIMB MORE TIME AND UNDERSTAND A LITTLE MORE ABOUT IT. I KNOW, FOR INSTANCE, THAT WE HAVE MADE INVESTMENTS IN ENSURING THAT THERE ARE BEDS THAT DEAL WITH MENTAL HEALTH AND PROVIDE SUPPORTS FOR INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE HOMELESS. AND THEY ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR POPULATION THAT NEEDS TO BE TAKEN CARE OF AS WELL. WE HAVE ADDED INVESTMENTS. OVER $77 MILLION IN HEALTH CARE IN DURHAM. I'LL FOLLOW UP WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE SUPPLEMENTAL. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. SUPPLEMENTAL. MINISTER OF OTTAWA. >> PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT MANY CLIENTS CANNOT ACCESS APPROPRIATE CARE ANYWHERE ELSE.

MORE THAN 50% OF THE CLIENTS STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH OR ADDICTION DON'T HAVE HEALTH CARDS OR IDENTIFICATION. THEY WILL NOT BE SERVED AT PRIVATE CLINICS. PATIENTS ARE NOT GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN ATTENDING AND SCHEDULING APPOINTMENTS. I'VE BEEN CONNECTING WITH THE MEDICAL TEAM AND NATHAN GARDENER, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT THE BACKBOOR MISSION. IT'S CLEAR WITHOUT THIS CLINIC, MANY PATIENTS WILL LAND IN AN EMERGENCY ROOM, IN AN AMBULANCE, AND IN MANY CASES WILL DIE. WE ARE DISTRAUGHT OVER THE FUTURE OF THE PEOPLE THEY CARE FOR AND SERVE. FOR TWO YEARS THIS MODEL — WILL THE MINISTER PLEASE ADDRESS THE SITUATION AND COMMIT THE FUNDS NEEDED TO KEEP THIS CLINIC OPEN? >> The Speaker: I RETURN TO THE MINISTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH. >> THANK YOU. WE ARE COMMITTED TO ENSURE THE CONTINUUM OF SERVICE FOR EVERY CITIZEN. THERE HAVE BEEN INCREASES YEAR OVER YEAR, AS WITH OUR GOVERNMENT IN POWER.

AND ONE OF THE THINGS, AS I SAID BEFORE, WHEN IT COMES TO THE ROADMAP TO WELLNESS AND ENSURING THAT THERE ARE APPROPRIATE SUPPORTS FOR ALL MEMBERS OF OUR COMMUNITIES, THOSE ARE IN PLACE AND THOSE ARE THINGS THAT WE ARE LOOKING AT AND WE DO SUPPORT. AS I SAID, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I'VE HEARD OF THE BACKDOOR MISSION. I'VE NEVER SEEN AN APPLICATION FROM THEM WITH RESPECT TO FUNDING.

>> The Speaker: ANSWER. >> BUT I'M CERTAINLY INTERESTED IN REVIEWING THE SITUATION AND SEEING WHAT WE CAN DO. BECAUSE EVERYONE IN THE PROVINCE, REGARDLESS OF WHO THEY ARE AND WHERE THEY ARE, DESERVE SUPPORTS FROM HEALTH. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. NEW QUESTION. I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FROM YORK CENTRE. >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS TO THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER. VOTERS ARE CONCERNED BY THE INCREASING FINANCIAL TIES BETWEEN THE MEDIA AND GOVERNMENT. FREE AND INDEPENDENT MEDIA IS A PILLAR OF DEMOCRACY, BUT WHEN THIS GOVERNMENT IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST ADVERTISERS ON ALL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS, TV, RADIO, PAPERS, INTERNET, BENCHES, BUS SHELTERS, HIGHWAY ADS, AND TELEVISION SCREENS PAID FOR BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO. I WOULD LIKE THE HOUSE LEADER TO TELL US HOW MUCH MONEY DID THE GOVERNMENT SPEND ON ADS PAID FOR BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO THROUGH ALL MEDIA PLATFORMS IN THE LAST TWO FISCAL YEARS, AND WILL THE HOUSE LEADER COMMIT TO COMING BACK WITH A DOLLAR FIGURE NEXT WEEK? >> The Speaker: THANK YOU.

I RECOGNIZE THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER. >> SPEAKER, THERE'S JUST SO MUCH TO COMMUNICATE. I MEAN, IT IS A CHALLENGE THAT WE FACE BECAUSE THERE IS JUST SO MUCH GOOD NEWS HAPPENING ACROSS THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. THERE IS RECORD-BREAKING INVESTMENTS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR. WE NEED TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT THAT. $5 MILLION INVESTMENT IN NEW TECHNOLOGY, MR. SPEAKER. WE WANT TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT THAT.

WE WANT TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT HOW WE'RE EMERGING FROM THE PANDEMIC STRONGER THAN ALMOST ANY OTHER JURISDICTION IN NORTH AMERICA. I THINK THAT'S GOOD NEWS. PEOPLE DESERVE TO KNOW ABOUT THAT, MR. SPEAKER. SO WE'RE NOT GOING TO APOLOGIZE FOR LETTING PEOPLE KNOW HOW THE HARD WORK OF THEIR GOVERNMENT IS HELPING ONTARIO SUCCEED TO BECOME THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD IN WHICH TO LIVE, WORK, INVEST, AND TO RAISE A FAMILY. YOU KNOW WHAT, MR. SPEAKER, A STRONG, STABLE, MAJORITY, PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE PARTY HAS DELIVERED. THAT'S GOOD NEWS, AND WE'RE GOING TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT. >> The Speaker: I RETURN TO THE MEMBER FROM YORK CENTRE. >> IF THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER IS PROUD, WHY WOULDN'T HE COME BACK WITH A DOLLAR FIGURE? SPEAKER, WE KNOW THAT THIS GOVERNMENT GOVERNS BY POLLS. IT'S ESTIMATED THAT THERE ARE 120,000 NEW DAILY CASES EACH DAY. THREE MONTHS AGO IN JANUARY, THE GOVERNMENT PUT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ONTARIANS FIRST, THEN TRULY THEY MUST LOCK US DOWN NOW. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THIS HEALTH MINISTER DOESN'T BELIEVE IN NATURAL IMMUNITY.

SO WHAT CHANGED? IS IT THE POLLS MONTHS BEFORE AN ELECTION OR THE REALIZATION THAT WE DID NOT NEED TO LOCK DOWN IN JANUARY OR LAST JANUARY? BUT THIS CABINET LOOKS AT POLLING EVERY TIME IT MEETS BECAUSE THE ONLY THING IT CARES ABOUT IS RE-ELECTION. SO HOW MUCH TAXPAYER DOLLARS WAS SPENT? >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. AND THE HOUSE WILL COME TO ORDER. THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER. >> HERE'S A DOLLAR FIGURE THAT THE PEOPLE OF THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO CAN COUNT ON. AFTER QUESTION PERIOD TODAY, WE WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO VOTE ON PUTTING MORE MONEY BACK INTO THE POCKETS OF ONTARIO.

[ Some Applause ] >> I HOPE THAT THE MEMBER OPPOSITE WILL JOIN US IN DOING THAT. THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK TO SUPPORT WORKERS, MR. SPEAKER. SOMETHING THAT HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BY THE PREVIOUS LIBERAL GOVERNMENT IN 15 YEARS. IT TOOK THIS GOVERNMENT TO GET IT DONE, MR. SPEAKER. AND WHY DO WE HAVE TO DO THIS? WHY ARE WE MAKING INVESTMENTS IN WORKERS? BECAUSE THIS MINISTER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, JOB CREATION, AND TRADE IS WORKING HARD. LET'S NOT FORGET, COLLEAGUES, WHEN WE CAME TO OFFICE, THE LIBERALS HAD SCHEDULED A 19% INCREASE IN HYDRO RATES. >> The Speaker: ANSWER. >> WE CANCELLED IT. AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT RESULTED IN? 500,000 PEOPLE WORKING THAT WEREN'T WORKING BEFORE. AND WE HAVE OVER 300,000 JOBS THAT NEED TO BE FILLED.

>> The Speaker: THANK YOU. [ Some Applause ] >> The Speaker: START THE CLOCK. THE RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER. >> Voice of Interpreter: THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS FOR THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. MADAM MINISTER, AS YOU KNOW, THE RESIDENTS IN THE NORTH HAVE TO GO OFTEN TO MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS. [ END OF INTERPRETATION ] >> THE FINANCIAL SUPPORT DOES NOT REFLECT THE CURRENT COST OF LIVING. LOOKING BACK AT A FEW YEARS AGO, THE TRAVEL GRANT COVERED SOME OF THE COST OF MEDICAL TRAVEL. BUT NOW WITH THE RISING COST OF GAS, TRAVELLING FOR MEDICAL REASONS HAS BECOME A FINANCIAL BURDEN. SPEAKER, WILL THIS GOVERNMENT COMMIT TO REVISING THEIR CALCULATION OF THE PAYMENT CONSIDERING THE FINANCIAL BURDEN TRAVELLING FOR MEDICAL REASONS PUTS ON NORTHERNERS? >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. I RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER OF HEALTH >> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. AND THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER OPPOSITE FOR THE QUESTION. OUR GOVERNMENT CERTAINLY RECOGNIZES THE UNIQUE CHALLENGES THAT PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY IN NORTH BAY, HAVE IN ACCESSING HEALTH CARE. SO WE ARE UNDERGOING IMPROVEMENTS TO ENSURE PEOPLE GET THE SUPPORT THEY NEED.

$48.2 MILLION WAS THE ALLOCATION. AND JUST A FEW EXTRA STATISTICS, SPEAKER. I CAN ADVISE THAT IN THE 2021 FISCAL YEAR, THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH RECEIVED 143,495 NORTHERN HEALTH TRAVEL GRANT APPLICATIONS AND 96.10 OF THOSE APPLICATIONS WERE APPROVED. AND 95 WERE APPROVED WITHIN 30 BUSINESS DAYS. SO OF COURSE WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THE PEOPLE CAN GO QUICKLY. WE'VE ALSO INTRODUCED A REVISED APPLICATION FORM THAT ALLOWS CLIENTS TO PROVIDE BANKING INFORMATION SO DEPOSITS CAN BE MADE QUICKLY INTO THEIR BANK ACCOUNT, BUT CHEQUES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE. >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER. >> Voice of Interpreter: THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. I UNDERSTAND THAT THE TRAVEL GRANT IS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WHO TRAVEL. BUT THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA DOES NOT RESPOND TO THE CONDITIONS OF THE TRAVEL.

MANY PEOPLE IN MY RIDING LIVING IN KAPUSKASING, FOR INSTANCE, HAVE TO GO ELSEWHERE. THEY HAVE TO SLEEP IN TIMMINS TO GO TO THEIR APPOINTMENTS UNLESS THEY TRAVEL THROUGH THE NIGHT. THE PROBLEM AT NIGHT IS THAT THE TRAVEL GRANT DOES NOT COVER BECAUSE THEY DON'T COVER 200 KILOMETERS. SO THERE'S NOT MONEY. WITH THE PRICE OF GAS BY KILOMETER, THAT'S NOT CHANGED. IT DOESN'T COVER THE TRAVEL. MADAM MINISTER, THIS SCENARIO HAPPENS EVERY DAY, TOO OFTEN, AND IT'S UNACCEPTABLE. WHEN YOUR GOVERNMENT UNDERSTAND THE ISSUES IN THE NORTH AND WILL REDEFINE THE ELIGIBILITY CONDITIONS AND PAYMENTS TO REFLECT THEIR REALITY ON THE GROUND RIGHT NOW? [ END OF INTERPRETATION ] >> The Speaker: THE RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. >> THANK YOU. AS I PREVIOUSLY INDICATED, WE ARE CONSTANTLY REVIEWING THE NORTHERN HEALTH TRAVEL GRANT. BUT WE ALSO KNOW THAT BECAUSE OF THE TRAVEL CONDITIONS THAT SOMETIMES PEOPLE ARE FACING IN NORTHERN ONTARIO THAT WE ALSO HAVE TO HAVE OTHER OPTIONS FOR PEOPLE SEEKING CARE.

SO IN ADDITION TO TRAVELLING, WE ALSO HAVE OUR DIGITAL FIRST FOR HEALTH STRATEGY, WHICH EXPANDS THE VIRTUAL CARE OPTIONS FOR ALL ONTARIANS. WE ANTICIPATE THAT WILL INCREASE OVER THE COMING YEARS AS WE INCREASE OUR DIGITALIZATIONS SO PEOPLE CAN SEE THEIR OWN HEALTH RECORDS, THEY'LL BE ABLE TO MAKE APPOINTMENTS ONLINE, AND THEY WILL BE ABLE TO SEE SPECIALISTS. THAT'S WHERE WE NEED TO CONCENTRATE ON BECAUSE IT'S MORE CONVENIENT, IT'S MORE ACCESSIBLE FOR ONTARIANS REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY LIVE IN THIS PROVINCE. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. NEW QUESTION. I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FROM OTTAWA SOUTH. >> THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SD AKERDD THEF EADEEP TS OF T YNTNDIOONTIECIENCE TABLE SAYS THAT ONTARIO IS SEEING 100,000 CASES OF COVID EACH DAY. EVERY DAY. AND HE ADDS IF WE KEEP ON THIS WAY AND CONTINUE NOT TO MASK, THERE WILL BE A GREAT STRAIN ON OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

A TIDAL WAVE, AS HE DESCRIBES IT. THE SIXTH WAVE IS GOING TO BE OUR BIGGEST WAVE YET. YET FOR ONE MONTH, WE HAVE NOT HEARD FROM THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH. TOTAL RADIO SILENCE. I FIND IT HARD TO BELIEVE THAT DR. MOORE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION DURING A PANDEMIC. ESPECIALLY GIVEN THE RISK THAT WE FACE RIGHT NOW. IT'S CLEAR THAT THE PREMIER DOESN'T WANT DR. MOORE TO APPEAR PUBLICLY. AND THAT DR. MOORE IS BEING MUZZLED. >> The Speaker: QUESTION. >> DID THE MINISTER PUT A GAG ORDER ON THE OFFICER OF HEALTH? >> The Speaker: PLEASE DO NOT USE DEROGATORY LANGUAGE. MINISTER OF HEALTH. >> I WANT TO FOCUS ON FACTS HERE. IN DR. MOORE'S LANGUAGE, WE NEED TO LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID. WE ARE SEEING AN INCREASE. THE INCREASE IS MANAGEABLE. DR.

MOORE IS FREE TO COME FORWARD AT ANY TIME AS HE SEES FIT TO CONTINUE WITH THOSE CONFERENCES, BUT HE IS THE ONE WHO CHOSE NOT TO DO SO ON THE BASIS THAT WE HAVE TO LIVE WITH COVID. SO WE ARE RESPECTING THAT. WE ARE PROVIDING DAILY UPDATES TO PEOPLE. THE INFORMATION IS READILY AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE. BUT AS DR. MOORE HIMSELF HAS SAID, WE SHOULDN'T BE SURPRISED TO SEE AN INCREASE BECAUSE WE HAVE RELEASED A NUMBER OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES AND WE HAVE A MORE TRANSMISSIBLE VARIANT.

BUT VACCINATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS. >> The Speaker: MEMBER FROM OTTAWA SOUTH. >> THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH WORKS FOR THE GOVERNMENT. SO IT'S CLEAR THEY DON'T BELIEVE THAT HE SHOULD BE COMMUNICATING EITHER. SO FOR TWO YEARS, ONTARIANS HAVE RELIED ON REGULAR CONVERSATION BOTH FROM DR. WILLIAMS AND DR. MOORE. THEY RELIED ON THOSE BRIEFINGS AND THOSE DOCTORS FOR INFORMATION AND TOOLS THEY NEEDED TO KEEP THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES SAFE. AND NOW WE'RE FACING WHAT LOOKS LIKE IS GOING TO BE THE BIGGEST WAVE, AND THERE IS A VACUUM OF LEADERSHIP. THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. IT'S SIMPLY NOT BELIEVABLE TO ME, AND I THINK ANYONE ELSE HERE, THAT DR. MOORE DOESN'T FEEL A RESPONSIBILITY TO DO WHAT HE'S BEEN DOING ALL ALONG. AND WHAT EVERY OTHER MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH IS DOING ACROSS ONTARIO. I KNOW THE PREMIER DOESN'T WANT COVID TO INTERFERE WITH HIS ELECTION PLAN, AND THAT'S WHY HE'S MUZZLING THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH.

ONCE AGAIN, WILL THE PREMIER RESCIND HIS GAG ORDER ON THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH? >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. I RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. >> WHAT THE MEMBER OPPOSITE IS SAYING IS RIDICULOUS AND IS NOT BASED ON FACT WHATSOEVER. IT'S ABSOLUTELY NOT THE CASE. >> The Speaker: THE MEMBER FROM OTTAWA SOUTH WILL COME TO ORDER. PLEASE RESUME. >> DR. MOORE IS INDEPENDENT. HE ALWAYS HAS BEEN. HE'S ALWAYS STATED WHAT HE'S BELIEVED TO BE IMPORTANT. >> The Speaker: MEMBER FROM OTTAWA SOUTH WILL COME TO ORDER. PLEASE CARRY ON. >> ANY SUGGESTION THAT DR. MOORE IS DOING ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT HE THINKS IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO IS ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE. DR. MOORE — >> The Speaker: THE MEMBER FROM OTTAWA SOUTH WILL COME TO ORDER.

>> — AS HE SEES FIT. HE KNOWS HE CAN DO SO. IN THE MEANTIME, INFORMATION IS READILY AVAILABLE TO THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO. THEY CAN FIND OUT WHAT THE CASE RATES ARE, WHAT THE HOSPITALIZATION RATES ARE, AND SO ON. >> The Speaker: THANK YOU. I RECOGNIZE THE MEMBER FROM LONDON. >> THANK YOU. A CONSTITUENT IN MY RIDING HAS BEEN LEFT IN THE DARK WAITING FOR A GRANT. ANOTHER SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, HE LIKE MICHAEL RECEIVED THE GRANT DURING THE FIRST ROUND LAST YEAR. PAUL CONTACTED ME AND ASKED WHY HIS BUSINESS WAS NO LONGER ELIGIBLE FOR THE GRANT DESPITE HAVING TO BE CLOSED IN JANUARY. MEANWHILE, DURING THE LAST ROUND, THIS GOVERNMENT GAVE GRANTS TO BUSINESSES WHO DIDN'T QUALIFY AND CORPORATIONS WHO WEREN'T EVEN IN ONTARIO. CAN THE MINISTER EXPLAIN WHAT THE DELAY IS IN DISTRIBUTING THE GRANTS TO BUSINESS OWNERS LIKE MICHAEL AND EXPLAIN TO PAUL WHY SOME BUSINESSES WHO WERE ELIGIBLE DURING THE LAST ROUND IS NO LONGER ELIGIBLE THIS ROUND AND WHY THERE'S NO APPEAL PROCESS FOR THAT DECISION? >> The Speaker: I RECOGNIZE THE MINISTER.

>> THANK YOU, SPEAKER. OUR GOVERNMENT'S TRACK RECORD PROVES THAT WE HAVE BEEN THERE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES DURING THE PANDEMIC. WE'VE PROVIDED $51 BILLION AS PART OF THE COVID-19 ACTION PLAN. AND THAT INCLUDES THE SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF GRANT. NOW, WE ARE WORKING WITH ALL BUSINESSES WHO HAVE SUBMITTED APPLICATIONS. IT'S OUR DUTY, SPEAKER, TO VERIFY THEIR ELIGIBILITY FOR THAT PROGRAM. AND BECAUSE WE NEED TO ENSURE THAT BUSINESSES WHO HAVE APPLIED ARE IN FACT ELIGIBLE, THEY NEED TO CONFIRM THAT ELIGIBILITY BY PROVIDING CORRECT DOCUMENTATION. WE WANT TO ENCOURAGE ALL BUSINESSES TO RESPOND TO OUR REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION, SUBMIT.

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