Transcript: Question Period: Wednesday, April 28, 2021 | Apr 29, 2021

A still camera shows the Ontario Legislature. A caption on screen reads "Question Period."

Few members sit inside the chamber. They wear facemasks.

The Speaker stands. He's is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short light brown hair. He wears a black robe.

It is now time for oral questions i recognize the leader of her majesty's loyal opposition.

The caption changes to "Andrea Horwath. NDP. Leader of the official opposition."

Horwath is in her fifties, with straight blond hair in a bob. She wears a magenta leather jacket over a printed white blouse.

She says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. SPEAKER, BEFORE I START, I JUST WANT TO THANK THOSE FOLKS WHO HAVE ARRIVED FROM NEWFOUNDLAND YESTERDAY AND OTHER FOLKS THAT ARE ON THEIR WAY CANADIAN ARMED FORCES AND THE RED CROSS LEAVING THE SAFETY OF THEIR HOMES TO COME TO ONTARIO TO HELP US WITH THIS THIRD WAVE OF COVID-19. THE SEVERITY OF WHICH IS ABSOLUTE AVOIDABLE. WE KNOW THAT OUR ICUS ARE STILL OVERWHELMED. SPEAKER, THEY'RE STILL OVERFLOWING WITH PATIENCE AND WE KNOW WHAT THE EXPERTS HAVE RECOMMENDED FOR OVER A YEAR NOW. THE PREMIER, LAST WEEK... THIS IS THE QUESTION TO THE DEPUTY PREMIER, SPEAKER. THE PREMIER LAST WEEK PROMISED THE BEST PAID SICK DAYS PROGRAM IN NORTH AMERICA AND, OF COURSE, AS WE KNOW, THE PREMIER'S LATEST TEAM HAS BEEN ROUNDLY PANNED BY ALL OF THE EXPERTS. IN FACT, ONE OF THE DOCTORS, DR. ABDU CHARKAOUI SHARKAWY SAYS IT IS THE DEFINITION OF PASSING THE SCOMBUK MORE WILL DIE NEEDLESSLY. WHEN WILL THE GOVERNMENT STOP NONSENSE AND PUT IN PLACE A PAID SICK DAY TO SAVE THE WORLD OF WORKING PEOPLE. IT WILL BE BECAUSE OF ONTARIO THAT WE FIX THE OUTSTANDING GAPS. IF WE WERE THE FIRST IN CANADA TO PRO WORK WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO DEFEND BENEFITS TO 20 DAYS AND WE WERE THE FIRST TO PROACTIVELY WORK WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE PAYMENTS WERE BROUGHT FROM 12 TO 14 TO TREE TO FIVE DAYS AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO SUPPORT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ALL WORKERS IN ONTARIO, SPEAKER.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The caption changes to "Jane McKenna. PC. Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development."

McKenna is in her forties, with short chestnut hair. She wears glasses and a black blazer over a white shirt.

She says SPEAKER, IT IS VERY CLEAR THAT THIS PREMIER HAS DONE EVERYTHING HE POSSIBLY CAN TO AVOID BRINGING PAID SICK DAYS TO OUR PROVINCE. HE ELIMINATED THE TWO MEASLY PAID SICK DAYS WE HAD IN THIS PROVINCE BACK IN 2018. IN FACT, HE CALLED PAID SICK DAYS A WASTE OF TAXPAYERS' MONEY. HE ACCUSED CRITICS OF THE FEDERAL PROGRAM OF MISLEADING ONTARIO WORKERS. HE HAS IGNORED ALL OF THE EVIDENCE OF THE HELP THAT PAID SICK DAYS WOULD BRING TO ONTARIO WORKERS IN AVOIDING CATCHING COVID-19. IT HAS BEEN A WEEK SINCE OUR PREMIER PROMISED THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO THAT THAT PAID SICK DAY PLAN IN NORTH AMERICA. WHEN WILL THIS GOVERNMENT STOP PROTECTING THE PREMIER AND START PROTECTING ONTARIO WORKERS WITH PAID SICK DAYS?

Horwath says AT THIS SO MUCH, SPEAKER. LET ME BE CLEAR AGAIN. WE'RE VERY DISAPPOINTED THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DIDN'T IMPROVE THE PROGRAM AS THEY SAID THEY WOULD. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE. IT'S BECAUSE OF ONTARIO THAT THIS LEAD PROVISION HAS BEEN APPROVED FOR WHAT IT IS TODAY AND IT WILL BE BECAUSE OF ONTARIO THAT WE FIX THE OUTSTANDING GAPS. BUT AGAIN, WE WERE THE FIRST IN CANADA TO INTRODUCE JOB PROTECTED LEAVE. WE WERE THE FIRST TO PROACTIVELY WORK WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO EXPAND BENEFITS FROM TEN TO TWENTY DAYS AND WE WERE THE FIRST TO PROACTIVELY WORK TO MAKE SURE IT WAS A TWELVE TO FOURTEEN DAYS AND THREE TO FIVE DAYS THAT PEOPLE WERE GETTING THE DPREKTD DEPOSITS. WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO SUPPORT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ALL WORKERS IN ONTARIO, SPEAKER.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THANK YOU. THE FINAL SUPPLEMENTARY.

Horwath says IT'S BEEN A YEAR, AND THIS GOVERNMENT HASN'T DONE WHAT WAS NECESSARY TO PROTECT THE SAFETY OF ONTARIO WORKERS. THEY HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING THAT THE EXPERTS HAVE RECOMMENDED. THEY DID NOT FLOW ALL TRULY NONESSENTIAL BUSINESS AND IS SUPPORT THEM FINANCIALLY TO GET THIS THROUGH THIS NEXT WEEK WE'RE IN. THEY DID NOT BRING VACCINATIONS IN ANY URGENT WAY IN THE NUMBERS NECESSARY TO OUR HOT SPOT NEIGHBOURHOODS AS THE EXPERTS RECOMMENDED AND, OF COURSE, THEY DID NOT BRING PAID SICK DAYS IN PLACE HERE IN THIS PROVINCE AND THEY NEED TO DO IT. 25 TIMES THIS GOVERNMENT HAS VOTED IN THIS LEGISLATURE AGAINST PAID SICK DAYS, SPEAKER. TODAY, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER DEBATE BECAUSE... WE ARE NEVER GOING TO GIVE UP ON THE WORKERS OF THIS PROVINCE. THIS AFTERNOON, ANOTHER DEBATE ON PAID SICK DAYS IN THIS PROVINCE AND OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS THAT EXPERTS HAVE BROUGHT FORWARD. THE GOVERNMENT HAS A CHANCE TO TURN IT ALL AROUND THIS AFTERNOON, TO DO WHAT THE EXPERTS RECOMMEND. WILL THEY SUPPORT THAT MOTION THIS AFTERNOON? DO THE RIGHT THING AND SAVE LIVES.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says REPLY. PARLIAMENTARY assistant.

McKenna says LET ME BE CLEAR WE ARE VERY DISAPPOINTED THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT... AS THEY SAID THEY WOULD. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE. IT'S BECAUSE OF OUR PREMIER OF ONTARIO THAT THIS LEAD PROVISION HAS BEEN APPROVED TO WHAT IT IS TODAY AND IT WILL BE BECAUSE OF ONTARIO THAT WE FIX THE OUTSTANDING GAPS. WE WERE THE FIRST IN CANADA TO INTRODUCE CHILD PROBERTING ACTIVE LEAVE, THE FIRST TO PROACTIVELY WORK WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO EXTEND DAYS FROM TEN TO IT WASN'T FOR BENEFITS. THE FIRST TO PROACTIVELY WORK WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE PAYMENTS BROUGHT FORWARD FROM TWELVE TO FOURTEEN DAYS FROM THREE TO FIVE. AGAIN, SPEAKER, WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES NECESSARY TO SUPPORT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ALL ONTARIO WORKERS.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE NEXT QUESTION FOR THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION.

Horwath says MY NEXT QUESTION IS FOR THE DEPUTY PREMIER. THE AUDITOR-GENERAL'S RECORD TODAY CONFIRMS WHAT WE ALL KNEW, THAT SENIORS IN LONG-TERM CARE WERE LEFT VULNERABLE BY SUCCESSIVE LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENTS WHO DIDN'T INVEST IN LONG-TERM CARE IN ANY WAY THAT WAS NECESSARY TO GIVE PEOPLE DIGNITY AND QUALITY OF LIFE. THERE HAVE BEEN DECADES OF NEGLECT IN LONG-TERM CARE. THE GOVERNMENT KNEW THAT COVID-19 WAS COMING AND THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN MOVING HEAVEN AND EARTH TO PROTECT THOSE SENIORS. BUT WE ALL KNOW THAT THEY DIDN'T. INSTEAD, WHAT THIS GOVERNMENT DID WAS ELIMINATE COMPREHENSIVE INSPECTIONS. WHAT THEY DID WAS PRETEND THERE WAS GOING TO BE AN IRON RING AROUND LONG-TERM CARE THAT NEVER ARRIVED. THEY HAD NO PLANS TO SUPPORT THE RESIDENTS IN LONG-TERM CARE AND YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR, THIS GOVERNMENT AND THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT IGNORED ALL OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEMS IN LONG-TERM CARE. IN APRIL OF LAST YEAR, I MET WITH THE MINISTER OF HEALTH, A COUPLE OF MEMBERS OF THIS GOVERNMENT'S CABINET AND THEY TOLD ME AT THAT TIME, EVEN THOUGH THEY KNEW THE STATE OF LONG-TERM CARE THAT THEY HAD EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL, THAT EVERYTHING WAS PREPARED FOR. NO PROBLEM. THEY HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL WITH THE COVID-19. I GUESS THE QUESTION IS TO THE DEPUTY PREMIER, SPEAKER: ARE THEY NOW PREPARED TO ADMIT THAT THEY WEREN'T PREPARED IN LONG-TERM CARE FOR COVID-19?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says MINISTER OF LONG-TERM CARE.

The caption changes to "Honourable Merrilee Fullerton. PC. Minister of Long-Term Care."

Fullerton is in her forties, with long wavy blond hair and bangs. She wears a red blazer over a patterned red shirt.

She says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. AND, YOU KNOW, I APPRECIATE THE COMMENTS FROM THE MEMBER OPPOSITE. AND I WILL REMIND THE HOUSE HERE THAT THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT AND SOMETIMES SUPPORTED BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION OVER...

The Speaker says ORDER.

Fullerton says OVERYOU A THE CHALLENGES AND NEGLECTED...

The Speaker says OPPOSITION, COME TO ORDER.

Fullerton says I WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE AUDITOR-GENERAL AND HER OFFICE FOR THIS SPECIAL REPORT ON LONG-TERM CARE BECAUSE IT REALLY DOES NOTE THAT VERY FIRST COMMENT THAT I MADE, THAT THE MEMBER SEEMS TO FIND HUMOROUS. THE REPORT OF THE FINDINGS SUGGESTS THAT STAFFING AND THE LACK OF NEW DEVELOPMENT AND REDEVELOPMENT OF EXISTING LONG-TERM CARE SPACES CONTRIBUTED TO THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 AND TO DATE, IT'S OUR GOVERNMENT THAT HAS TAKEN EXTENSIVE AND ONGOING MEASURES TO PROTECT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF RESIDENT STAFF CAREGIVERS.

The Speaker says ORDER.

Fullerton says IT IS OUR GOVERNMENT THAT INHERITED THE SYSTEM THAT WAS AFFECTED BY COVID-19 AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO...

The Speaker says GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER WILL COME TO ORDER. THE MEMBER FOR OTTAWA SOUTH WILL COME TO ORDER. THE MINISTER FOR HERITAGE, SPORTS, AND CULTURE WILL COME TO ORDER. SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION.

Horwath says SPEAKER, THE GOVERNMENT KNEW THAT THE SITUATION IN LONG-TERM CARE WAS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN. IN FACT, THE MINISTER WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT THERE WERE MANY, MANY, MANY INFECTIOUS OUTBREAKS HAPPENING IN VIRTUALLY ALL OF THE LONG-TERM CARE HOMES BEFORE COVID-19 HIT ONTARIO. TWO-THIRDS OF THE HOMES WERE BREAKING INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL, RULES, CONSTANTLY. SHE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT. SHE DID KNOW THAT. AND YET, THIS GOVERNMENT CANCELLED COMPREHENSIVE INSPECTIONS. THIS GOVERNMENT REALLY IGNORED ALL PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLES. IN FACT, DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS, THEY STOPPED ALL IN-PERSON INSPECTIONS DURING THE WORK OF THE CRISIS. MEASURES TO CONTAIN COVID-19 WERE INITIALLY LEFT UP TO HOME OPERATORS IS WHAT THE AG'S REPORT SAYS. SO HOW CAN IT BE THAT AFTER EXPLICIT WARNINGS, AFTER KNOWING THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN LONG-TERM CARE, WE STILL HAD A GOVERNMENT THAT LET SO MANY SENIORS DIE?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says MINISTER OF LONG-TERM CARE.

Fullerton says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. AND, YOU KNOW, TODAY'S RECOMMENDATIONS COMING... THOSE THAT WILL COME FROM THE LONG-TERM CARE COMMISSION AS WELL, THEY INFORM THE WORK THAT IS ALREADY UNDERWAY TO REPAIR A BROKEN SYSTEM, BADLY NEGLECTED FOR MANY YEARS, AND THAT IT IS OUR GOVERNMENT THAT IS MODERNIZING AND FIXING A LONG-TERM CARE SECTOR. THE NEGLECT THAT'S HAPPENED OVER MANY, MANY YEARS LEFT A SYSTEM THAT COULD NOT RESPOND IMMEDIATELY TO THE COVID-19. AND WE USED THE EXPERTISE OF PUBLIC HEALTH, ONTARIO HEALTH, LOCAL MINISTRIES, TO ADDRESS THIS AS WE WENT AND WE STARTED EARLY WITH GUIDANCE IN JANUARY AND IN MARCH THERE WERE MORE MEASURES AND ALL THROUGHOUT, THERE WAS SO MANY MEASURES, SOMETIMES IT WAS HARD FOR THE HOMES TO KEEP UP BECAUSE THERE WAS SO MUCH WORK BEING DONE. THE AUDITOR-GENERAL SAYS, LONG STANDING SYSTEMIC PROBLEMS IN THE SECTOR WERE QUICKLY AND STARKLY AMPLIFIED AT THE ONSET AND DURING THE FIRST AND SECOND WAVE OF THE PANDEMIC ASK WERE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO THE OUTBREAK AND SPREAD OF COVID-19 IN THE LONG-TERM CARE HOMES. WHEN SHE SAYS THAT, SHE'S TALKING ABOUT WHAT WAS LEFT IN THE WAKE BY THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT.

The Speaker says THANK YOU.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE FINAL SUPPLEMENTARY.

Horwath says SPEAKER, SENIORS SUFFERED IN UNSPEAKABLE CONDITIONS THROUGHOUT COVID-19. IN FACT, THE SECOND WAVE WAS EVEN WORSE THAN THE FIRST. THIS GOVERNMENT CANNOT JUSTIFY HOW THEY NEGLECTED OUR SENIORS. LOOK AT THE CANADIAN ARMED FORCES REPORT TO SEE EXACTLY WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN LONG-TERM CARE. 4,000 PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES TO COVID-19. THOUSANDS OF FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE BEEN TRAUMATIZED BY THE EXPERIENCE. OTHERS, THOUSANDS OF OTHER SENIORS, WERE LEFT TO SUFFER ALONE WITH NO SUPPORT, WITH NO FAMILY. THIS SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED, SPEAKER, AND THE AG'S REPORT CLEARLY INDICATES THAT THIS GOVERNMENT KNEW THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN LONG-TERM CARE. THEY KNEW AND THEY WERE WARNED. THE LONG-TERM CARE SYSTEM, CONTRARY TO WHAT THIS MINISTER JUST SAID, IS STILL IN CRISIS. IT'S MASSIVELY UNDERSTAFFED, MASSIVE UNDERINVESTMENT AND THIS GOVERNMENT'S DRAGGING ITS FEET AND SAYING MAY BE IN 2025 WE MAY HAVE SOME KIND OF IMPROVEMENT IN LONG-TERM CARE CARE. NOT GOOD ENOUGH. NOT DRAG YOUR FEET. WHEN WILL LONG-TERM CARE BE FIXED BY THIS GOVERNMENT?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says TO REPLY. MINISTER OF LONG-TERM CARE.

Fullerton says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. I WILL POINT OUT WHEN THE AG SAYS MORE THAN TEN YEARS LATER, LITTLE PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE AND THE ISSUE REMAINS NOW AT GREATER RISK AND CONSEQUENCES FOR THE SAFETY OF RESIDENTS. THAT IS THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION. THAT IS...

The Speaker says MEMBER FOR NORTHUMBERLAND COME TO ORDER.

Fullerton says THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION SAT IN THIS CHAMBER AND HAD THE OPPORTUNITY FOR MANY YEARS TO ADDRESS WHAT SHE KNEW AND SHE DIDN'T. AND NEITHER DID THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY. IT IS OUR GOVERNMENT THAT HAS TAKEN RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS SECTOR SO BADLY NEGLECTED.

The Speaker says THE OPPOSITION COME TO ORDER.

Fullerton says FOR MANY YEARS, UNDER THE PEOPLE SITTING RIGHT THERE.
[SOME APPLAUSE]
AND I WILL TAKE NO LESSONS FROM YOU AS I WORK TO REPAIR LONG-TERM CARE AND SUPPORT STAFF, RESIDENTS AND FAMILIES WHILE YOU NEGLECTED IT.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says PLEASE MAKE YOUR COMMENTS THROUGH THE CHAIR. THE NEXT question. The member for Essex.

The caption changes to "Taras Natyshak. NDP. Essex."

Natyshak is in his late thirties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He wears a gray suit and a white shirt.

He says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SPEAKER. MY QUESTION TO THE DEPUTY PREMIER. THE GOVERNMENT KNEW THAT THERE WERE PROBLEMS IN LONG-TERM CARE LEFT BY YEARS OF NEGLECT BY THE PREVIOUS LIBERAL GOVERNMENT BUT THE AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORT SHOWS JUST LIKE THE LIBERALS, THE PC IGNORED ALL OF THEM. THE REPORT STATES THAT, QUOTE, ACTIONS TAKEN OVER THE YEARS HAVE BEEN INSUFFICIENT TO ENSURE THAT WE BE BETTER PREPARED AS A PROVINCE FOR THE NEXT TIME. THE AUDITOR-GENERAL SAYS THE CONCERNS RAISE BID EXPERTS IN REPORT AFTER REPORT FOR AFTER A DECADE HAVE BEEN LEFT. MY QUESTION IS HOW MUCH MORE SUFFERING AND DEATH IS IT GOING TO TAKE FOR THIS GOVERNMENT TO PREPARE LONG-TERM CARE FOR THE NEXT PANDEMIC?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE REPLY? MINISTER OF LONG-TERM CARE.

Fullerton says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. IT IS OUR GOVERNMENT THAT'S DOING THE WORK. IT IS OUR GOVERNMENT THAT HAS PUT IN A MONUMENTAL COMMITMENT TO FOUR HOURS OF DIRECT CARE FOR RESIDENTS TO HIRING 27,000 NEW HIRES INTO LONG-TERM CARE OVER THE NEXT FOUR YEARS, 4.9 BILLION DOLLAR COMMITMENT, NOT TO MAKE SURE TO MENTION THE 8,000... OVER 8,600 THAT WE WERE ABLE TO PUT IN WITH THE PANDEMIC AND THE HISTORIC LEVELS OF INVESTMENT FOR 1.75 BILLION DOLLARS. ALMOST ANOTHER BILLION DOLLARS OF RECENTLY ANNOUNCED FOR ANOTHER 80 PROJECTS. THE LANGUISHING SECTOR THAT WAS LEFT FOR SO MANY YEARS WITH ONLY A FEW HUNDRED BEDS BUILT UNDER THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT BETWEEN 2011 AND 2018 LEFT FOR THE SECTOR AT RISK. AND IT IS OUR GOVERNMENT THAT IS WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK TO REPAIR IT NOT ONLY FROM THE NEGLECT LEFT BEHIND BUT ALSO FROM A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. IT'S OUR GOVERNMENT THAT IS PUTTING IN THE WORK. AS THE MINISTER OF LONG-TERM CARE, I AM PROUD OF EVERYONE WHO'S WORKING ROUND THE CLOCK TO PROTECT THIS SECTOR AND DOT WORK THAT'S NEEDED.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

Natyshak says THE AUDITOR-GENERAL SAYS THERE ARE NO SURPRISES UNTIL REPORTS THAT'S BECAUSE WHAT THE PREMIER, THERE WAS NO IRON RING. LAST JANUARY, THEY DIDN'T PREPARE LONG-TERM CARE HOMES OR THE PANDEMIC AND DIDN'T PROPERLY TURN TO HANDLE OUTRAGE. THEY DIDN'T EVEN HAVE GLOVES AND TRAINING FOR THEIR OWN INSPECTORS UNTIL AFTER THE MILITARY ARRIVED. WITH TWO-THIRDS OF HOMES FAILING TO KEEP IN FACTS DOWN IN THE PANDEMIC, THERE'S ALWAYS A QUESTION OF WHEN, NOT IF, SPEAKER. SPEAKER, WHY DOES THIS PREMIER AND THIS MINISTER TREAT MEMBERS IN LONG-TERM CARE WITHOUT THE RESPECT THEY SO GREATLY DESERVE?

Fullerton says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. THAT IS PREPOSTEROUS. I SENT SPENT MY CAREER LOOKING AFTER SENIORS AND LOOKING AFTER THE MOST VULNERABLE AND THAT IS AN ABSOLUTE INSULT TO EVERY PHYSICIAN THAT LOOKS AFTER PHYSICIANS AND EVERY PSW THAT IS DOING THE HARD WORK. THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THIS SECTOR HAD CRACKED AND IT WAS LEFT OPEN TO COVID-19. WE WORKED WITH PUBLIC HELLO. WE WORKED WITH THE SCIENTISTS IN ONTARIO. THE BEST EXPERT ADVICE AND WE TOOK IT EARLY. I MEAN, WE WORKED WITH THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND WE WORKED ACROSS THE MINISTRY TO SHORE UP THIS. IT COULDN'T BE TURNED AROUND ON A DIME. THE YEARS OF NEGLECT WAS SO BAD. THE STAFFING CRISIS SO SEVERE. THE CROWDING IN OUR HOME SO SEVERE. AFTER SO MANY YEARS OF NEGLECT BY THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT, SUPPORTED BY THE OPPOSITION, WE COULD NOT TURN IT AROUND FAST ENOUGH. BOY, DID WE TRY. BOY, DID ALL THOSE THOUSANDS OF FRONT-LINE WORKERS...

The Speaker says THE OPPOSITION COME TO ORDER.

Fullerton says CONTINUE TO DO THE WORK.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The caption changes to "Honourable Ted Arnott. Speaker."

The Speaker says THE NEXT QUESTION. ORDER. THE NEXT QUESTION. THE MEMBER FOR.

The caption changes to "Stephen Crawford. PC. Oakville."

Crawford is in his forties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He wears a gray suit, blue shirt, and striped gray tie.

He says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS TO THE MINISTER OF FINANCE. I KNOW FOR MONTHS OUR GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN CALLING ON THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT TO IMPLEMENT CHANGES TO THE CANADA RECOVERY SICKNESS BENEFIT PROGRAM. IN ORDER TO ENSURE CANADIANS IN MY RIDING AND ACROSS THE PROVINCE CAN SELF-ISOLATE, CARE FOR AN AILING LOVED ONE OR GET VACCINATED WITHOUT LOSING THEIR INCOME. DESPITE REPEATED APPEALS FROM PREMIERS ACROSS CANADA, AND IN THE FACE OF ADVICE FROM MEDICAL EXPERTS, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED TO FILL THE GAPS IN THE PROGRAM AND MAKE SURE WORKERS CAN ACCESS FUNDS QUICKLY AND EASILY. GIVEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, IN THEIR BUDGET LAST WEEK, ONCE AGAIN, FAILED TO DELIVER THESE NEEDED CHANGES FOR ONTARIANS, ACCOUNT MINISTER OF FINANCE TELL THE HOUSE HOW WE INTEND TO FILL THESE GAPS?

The Speaker says THE MEMBER FOR WILLOWDALE AND PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT.

The caption changes to "Stan Cho. PC. Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance."

Cho is in his thirties, clean-shaven, with black hair gelled back. He wears a gray suit, white shirt, and blue tie.

He says THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER FOR OAKVILLE FOR RAISING THIS CRITICAL ISSUE. AS ONTARIO BATTLES THE BENEFIT STATING THIRD WAVE FORTUNATE GLOBAL PANDEMIC, DRINK BY DANGEROUS VARIANTS AND ACROSS OUR BORDERS, WE MUST DO EVERYTHING WE CAN. NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BUYING GROCERIES AND PROTECTING THE HEALTH OF THEIR FAMILY. THAT'S WHY ONTARIO WAS THE FIRST PROVINCE IN CANADA TO ENSURE NO WORKER SHOULD LOSE THEIR JOBS BECAUSE THEY WERE SELF-ISOLATING. THAT'S WHY PREMIER FORD WORKED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE 1.1 BILLION DOLLARS IN A PAID SICK LEAVE PROGRAM. AND THAT'S WHY, SPEAKER, AFTER A VERY DISAPPOINTING FEDERAL BUTTIGIEG, WHICH FAILED TO DELIVER DESPERATELY NEEDED CHANGES TO THE FEDERAL PROGRAM, OUR GOVERNMENT STEPPED UP TO THE PLATE AND OFFERED TO FILL THE GAPS BY IMMEDIATELY DOUBLING PAYMENTS FOR ALL ONTARIO WORKERS UP TO A THOUSAND DOLLARS PER WEEK. 25 DOLLARS PER HOUR FOR FOUR WEEKS. THIS GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR ONTARIANS AND WE NEED OUR FEDERAL PARTNERS AND ALL MEMBERS OF THIS LEGISLATURE TO PUT POLITICS ASIDE AND ENSURE EVERY WORKER IN ONTARIO HAS ACCESS TO ADEQUATE PAID SICK DAYS.

The Speaker says ORDER. THE SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION.

Crawford says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. I WANT TO THANK THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT FOR THE ANSWER AND COMMEND THE MINISTER FOR STEPPING UP TO SUPPLEMENT THE CANADA RECOVERY SICKNESS BENEFIT. I KNOW THERE'S A LOT OF INFORMATION OUT THERE, MISINFORMATION, ON THIS PROGRAM, SPEAKER. AND THE OPPOSITION FOR A YEAR NOW HAS BEEN TRYING TO CONVINCE ONTARIANS THAT THE PROGRAM DOESN'T EXIST. AND THAT ONTARIANS DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO PAID SICK DAYS THROUGH THE PROVINCIAL OR FEDERAL PROGRAM. I'M GLAD THAT OUR GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO WORK COLLABORATIVELY WITH OTTAWA TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO MAKE SURE THERE IS NO GAP IN PAY AND THAT WORKERS DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT LOSING THEIR PAY CHEQUES. BUT ACCOUNT MINISTER PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY IMPROVING THE FEDERAL PROGRAM IS THE BEST WAY TO DELIVER PAID SICK DAYS TO ONTARIANS THAT WE BADLY NEED IN THIS PANDEMIC.

The Speaker says PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT.

Cho says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. WORKING WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS THE FASTEST WAY TO GET MONEY IN POCKETS. WE NEED THEM TO CONTINUE PARTNERING WITH US TO GET THIS JOB DONE. UNFORTUNATELY, YESTERDAY, THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE FEDERAL MINISTER OF FINANCE SUGGESTED THAT INSTEAD OF DELIVERING MORE MONEY DIRECTLY TO WORKERS, THE PROVINCE SHOULD FORCE ALREADY STRUGGLING SMALL BUSINESSES TO PICK UP THE TAB. SPEAKER, OUR GOVERNMENT HAS SPARED NO EXPENSE AT PROTECTING HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ONTARIANS AND SUPPORTING STRUGGLING SMALL BUSINESSES BUT HAVE SACRIFICED THEIR LIVELIHOODS TO KEEP OUR COMMUNITY SAFE. OUR GOVERNMENT DOES NOT BELIEVE THAT BUSINESSES SHOULD BEAR THE INCREASED BURDEN OF A PAID SICK DAY PROGRAM AS MEMBERS OPPOSITE HAVE STRESSED. AND INSTEAD, OUR GOVERNMENT WILL REMAIN STEADFAST IN OUR COMMITMENT TO PROTECT WORKERS BY PROVIDING THIS SUPPORT DIRECTLY. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ALREADY HAS THE MEANS TO DELIVER THE PROGRAM AND WE ARE WILLING TO PAY THE BILL, SPEAKER. I HOPE THAT THEY WILL WORK WITH US.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE NEXT question. The member for Timiskaming-Cochrane.

The caption changes to "John Vanthof. NDP. Timiskaming-Cochrane."

Vanthof is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted gray hair. He wears a gray suit, white shirt, and checkered green tie.

He says MY QUESTION IS TO THE PREMIER. THE PREMIER'S FAST TRACK AGNEW 400 SERIES HIGHWAY THAT WILL CARVE THROUGH IRREPLACEABLE FARMLAND AND GREEN BELT. HIGHWAY 413 WILL COST AT LEAST 6 BILLION DOLLARS. BUT IT WILL SAVE DRIVERS ABOUT THIRTY TO SIXTY SECONDS PER TRIP. AND NOW RESEARCH FROM ENVIRONMENTAL SHOWS THAT THE HIGHWAY COULD LEAD TO 17.4 MILLION EXTRA TONS OF GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS FROM VEHICLES BY 2050. IT'S NOT GOING TO HELP DRIVERS. IT'S CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT. IT WILL MAKE MONEY FOR POWERFUL DEVELOPERS. IT WILL. THAT'S... BOTH OF THOSE THINGS. AT WHAT POINT IS THE PREMIER GOING TO PUT THE PUBLIC INTEREST AHEAD OF THE INTEREST OF ITS OWNERS AND CANCEL THIS WEIGHS WASTEFUL AND HARMFUL HIGHWAY PROJECT?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION.

The caption changes to "Honourable Caroline Mulroney. Minister of Transportation."

Mulroney is in her mid-forties, with long wavy brown hair. She wears a maroon tailored suit.

She says MR. SPEAKER, I THANK THE MEMBER OPPOSITE FOR THE QUESTION. MR. SPEAKER, THERE IS A STRONG CASE FOR MOVING FORWARD WITH THE HIGHWAY 413. BY 2051, THE POPULATION IS EXPECTED TO GROW TO ALMOST 15 MILLION DOLLARS. WE NEED OUR ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE TO KEEP UP. WE MUST ALLEVIATE CONGESTION WHICH IS ALREADY TERRIBLE IN THE GREATER GOLDEN HORSESHOE WERE IT GETS WORSE FOR COMMUTERS.

The Speaker says LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION WILL COME TO ORDER.

Mulroney says MR. SPEAKER, WE WANT TO GET THIS RIGHT. THAT IS WHY WE'RE CONTINUING THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS WHICH THE LIBERALS CANCELLED. WE BELIEVE THAT WORK ON THIS PROJECT ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ASPECT IS ESSENTIAL SO THAT WE CAN DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT WE MOVE FORWARD WITH HIGHWAY 413, WHICH IS IS A CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE PEOPLE OF YORK, CARLETON AND PEEL REGIONS.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

Vanthof says THANK YOU, PEEK SPEAKER. MINISTER JUST SAYS THREAD A STRONG CASE TO BE MADE FOR THE HIGHWAY. WE WOULD CONTEND THERE'S ALSO A VERY STRONG CASE TO BE MADE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. AND AS A FARMER, AN EVEN STRONGER CASE TO BE MADE FOR AGRICULTURAL LAND. WE LOSE 175 ACHE AREAS DAY NOW. THE 15 MILLION PEOPLE THAT ARE GOING TO BE LIVING IN THE GTA IN A FEW YEARS ARE GOING TO NEED HOPE AND FARMLAND AND YOU CAN'T BUILD IT. AND NOW WE HAVE THE CHANCE TO PLAN AHEAD TO PROTECT IT. SO AGAIN, WE NEED TO LOOK AT THESE PROJECTS FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL POINT OF VIEW AND FROM AGRICULTURE FROM FEEDING THE PEOPLE POINT OF VIEW. IS THAT GOING TO BE A MAJOR COMPONENT IN DETERMINING HOW YOU GO AHEAD WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS PROJECT?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION.

Mulroney says I THANK THE MEMBER OPPOSITE FOR HIS COMMENTS AND I AGREE. THAT IS WHY OUR GOVERNMENT RESUMED THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS SO THAT WE COULD CONSIDER WHETHER OR NOT TO PROCEED WITH THE HIGHWAY 413 WITH ALL OF THE FACTS AND EVIDENCE THAT ARE NECESSARY TO MAKE DECISIONS OF THIS MAGNITUDE. THE LIBERALS DIDN'T THINK THAT THAT WAS IMPORTANT. THEY THINK WE SHOULD JUST LET PEOPLE COME TO THE GREATER GOLD EN HORSESHOE AND NOT CONSIDER WHAT KIND OF INFRASTRUCTURE IS NECESSARY. BUT I AGREE WE NEED TO CONSIDER ALL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS, WHICH WE WILL GET. YOU WILL GET THE INFORMATION FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS. WE NEED TO CONSIDER IMPACT ON AGRICULTURE, ON FARMLAND, ON THE GREENBELT, MR. SPEAKER. BUT, MR. SPEAKER, WE'RE NOT THE ONLY ONES WHO THINK THAT IT'S IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER THIS INFRASTRUCTURE. SO DOES THE ONTARIO LIVESTOCK TRANSPORTERS' ALLIANCE AND SO DOES THE PEEL FEDERATION OF AGRICULTURE. SO IS THE MEMBER OPPOSITE SUGGESTING I IGNORE THEIR REQUEST TO SAY I MOVE FORWARD. THEY ARE SPEAKING FOR THEIR COMMUNITIES. THEY ARE SPEAKING THE TO NEEDS OF THEIR INDUSTRY. I BELIEVE IT'S IMPORTANT TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE NEEDS OF ALL OUR STAKE HOLDERS AS WE STUDY WHETHER OR NOT TO PROCEED WITH THIS HIGHWAY.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THERE'S WAY TOO MUCH HECKLING IN THE HOUSE THIS MORNING. PLEASE COME TO ORDER AND ALLOW THE MEMBER WHO HAS THE FLOOR TO MAKE THEIR PRESENTATION SO I CAN HEAR THAT PERSON. THE NEXT question. The member for Ottawa-South.

The caption changes to "John Fraser. Liberal. Ottawa South."

Fraser is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with wavy white hair. He wears a blue suit, white shirt, and purple tie.

He says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. MY QUESTION TO THE MINISTER OF LONG-TERM CARE: TODAY THE AUDITOR-GENERAL RELEASED A REPORT ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO COVID-19 IN ONTARIO'S LONG-TERM CARE HOMES. IN THE REPORT, IT DETAILS HOW PATIENTS WERE TRANSFERRED FROM HOSPITAL TO CROWDED HOMES DURING THE FIRST WAVE. HOMES STRUGGLED TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE SPACE AND STAFFING TO ADDRESS THE SURGE. SIMPLY PUT, THEY WERE NOT PREPARED FOR THE INFLUX OF PATIENTS. THIS MORNING, THE MINISTER OF HEALTH ANNOUNCED THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS NOW ISSUING AN EMERGENCY ORDER TO TRANSFER PATIENTS FROM HOSPITAL TO LONG-TERM CARE HOMES THAT ARE NOT THEIR CHOICE. THERE WAS SOME CONFUSION THIS MORNING, THE MINISTER SAYS THAT THEY WERE TRANSFERRED WITH THEIR CONSENT AND THE PRESS RELEASE CLEARLY SAYS WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT. SO ACCOUNT MINISTER OF LONG-TERM CARE CONFIRM THAT PATIENTS ARE BEING TRANSFERRED WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT?

The Speaker says MINISTER OF HEALTH.

The caption changes to "Honourable Christine Elliott. PC. Minister of Health."

Elliott is in her late fifties, with shoulder-length blond hair. She wears a green blazer over a black dress.

She says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SPEAKER. I AM VERY PLEASED TO CONFIRM THE STATEMENT THAT WAS MADE TODAY AND THE DECISION THAT HAS BEEN MADE. THERE IS A SITUATION WHERE BECAUSE OF THE CROWDING IN OUR HOSPITALS RIGHT NOW, WHERE THERE ARE SOME PATIENTS WHO ARE THERE WHO ARE ALTERNATE LEVEL OF CARE OR NO LONGER NEEDING HOSPITAL SERVICES THAT ARE WAITING FOR THEIR FIRST CHOICE OF TRANSFER TO A LONG-TERM CARE HOME. WHAT WE ARE SAYING TODAY IS IN THE SITUATION OF EXTREME OVERCROWDING AND IN PARTICULAR, HOSPITALS, WHERE THERE IS A SURGE, THERE WILL BE A DISCUSSION WITH SOME OF THOSE PATIENTS, THOSE PEOPLE, TO DETERMINE WHETHER THEY ARE WILLING TO MOVE TO A LONG-TERM CARE HOME THAT IS NOT THEIR FIRST CHOICE. THAT WOULD BE DISCUSSED IN ADVANCE AND IT WOULD BE VERY RESPECTFUL DISCUSSION THAT WAS TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION ALL OF THE ISSUES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO PEOPLE, INCLUDING CONSIDERATION AND IS NO CHARGE FOR THE CO-PAYMENT AND THAT WE WOULD ASK FOR THEIR CONSENT BUT THERE MAY BE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER EXTREME OVERCROWDING IN OUR HOSPITALS WHERE IT MIGHT BE NECESSARY TO TRANSFER SOMEONE WITHOUT.

The Speaker says THANK YOU.
[SOME APPLAUSE]
SUPPLEMENTARY.

Fraser says THE BOTTOM LINE IS, YOUR GOING TO TRANSFER, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO TRANSFER PEOPLE WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT. SO YOU MAY HAVE A CALL... I RAISE THIS ISSUE WITH THE MINISTER OF LONG-TERM CARE IN NOVEMBER ABOUT CAPACITY IN LONG-TERM CARE HOMES. IT'S FIVE MONTHS LATER. AND NOW WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS HAVING TO DO IS TAKE AN EXTREME MEASURE, AN EXTREME MEASURE, BECAUSE SHE FAILED TO PLAN ADEQUATELY FOR CAPACITY IN LONG-TERM CARE. SO THE GOVERNMENT'S GOING TO DO THIS, THERE'S A NUMBER OF THINGS THAT NEED TO BE IN PLACE.

The Speaker says MINISTER OF HERITAGE, ORDER.

Fraser says NEW RESIDENTS MUST BE FULLY VACCINATED SO THEY DON'T HAVE TO ISOLATE. SO SHOULD THEIR ESSENTIAL CAREGIVERS. THERE SHOULD BE SOME GEOGRAPHIC LID TO THIS AND THERE SHOULD BE A STRUCTURE IN PLACE, AN INCIDENT MANAGEMENT INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE, SOMETHING TO PREVENT THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST PLACE FROM HAPPENING IN THE THIRD WAVE. SO SPEAKER, CAN THE MINISTER CONFIRM THESE TYPES OF PROVISIONS, ALONG WITH OTHERS IN CONSULTATION WITH THE SECTOR, WILL TAKE PLACE TO ENSURE THAT WE... The Speaker says THANK YOU. MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says YES. ABSOLUTELY I CAN CONFIRM THAT. ALL OF THE ISSUES THAT HAVE BEEN MENTIONED BY THE MEMBER HAVE BEEN TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION AND ANY MOVEMENT THAT MIGHT HAVE TO TAKE PLACE WOULD ONLY BE UNDER A SITUATION WHERE THERE IS AN EXTREME SURGE IN A PARTICULAR HOSPITAL. ONE WE HOPE WE NEVER HAVE TO USE BUT WE HAVE TO BE PREPARED IN THE EVENT OF ANOTHER SURGE BECAUSE OF THIS THIRD WAVE BECAUSE OF THE VARIANTS. IT'S IMPORTANT TO PLAN AHEAD. THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DOING. WE REALLY DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO USE IT. WE HAVE TO, OF COURSE, WE WOULD DO THAT VERY RESPECTFULLY AND HAVE THAT CONVERSATION WITH THE FAMILY, WITH THE PERSON BEING TRANSFERRED. THEY WOULD STILL MAINTAIN THEIR PLACE ON THE LIST FOR THE FIRST CHOICE. THEY WOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY THE CO-PAYMENT. THEY WOULD BE VACCINATED BEFORE THEY WOULD LEAVE. AND IN ADDITION TO THAT, WE ARE SETTING UP A HOTLINE FOR PEOPLE TO CALL IF THEIR FAMILY MEMBER IS COMPENSATING IN A NEW SITUATION OR ALTERNATE ARRANGEMENTS TO BE MADE FOR THEM TO BE MOVED TO ANOTHER PLACE WHERE THEY WILL DO BETTER. BECAUSE WE ARE LOOKING FOR PERFECT MATCH. BUT THERE IS A...

The Speaker says THANK YOU.
[SOME APPLAUSE]
THANK YOU.

Crawford says MY QUESTION IS FOR THE MINISTER OF FINANCE. YESTERDAY ONTARIO'S 2021 BUDGET RECEIVED ROYAL ASSENT. IN THAT BUDGET, WHICH EVERY MEMBER OPPOSITE VOTED AGAINST, OUR GOVERNMENT INVESTED 16.3 BILLION DOLLARS IN ONTARIO'S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TO BUILD CAPACITY, HELP BATTLE THE THIRD WAVE OF THE PANDEMIC AND SUPPORT OUR HEROES ON THE FRONT LINE. ONTARIANS KNOW HOUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IS UNDER SERIOUS STRAIN AND IS BEING PUSHED PAST ITS BREAKING POINT AFTER YEARS OF UNDERFUNDING BY THE PREVIOUS LIBERAL GOVERNMENT THAT LEFT OUR HOSPITALS VULNERABLE. OUR GOVERNMENT HAS INVESTED HISTORIC AMOUNTS INTO ONTARIO'S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. AT THE SAME THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S SHARE OF HEALTH CARE HAS BEEN STEADILY SHRINKING. ACCOUNT MINISTER OF HEALTH TELL US WHY ONTARIO AND EVERY SINGLE PROVINCE AND TERRITORY HAS CALLED ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO HONOUR THEIR COMMITMENT TO THE LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY OF HEALTH CARE IN ONTARIO AND CANADA.

The Speaker says PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY.

Cho says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER FOR THE QUESTION. COLLABORATION AND TEMPORARY FUNDING HAS HELPED TO ADDRESS SOME CHALLENGES OVER THE COURSE OF THE PANDEMIC, COVID-19 HAS ALSO UNDERSCORED LONG STANDING CHALLENGES FACING THE HEALTH SYSTEM THAT REQUIRE URGENT ACTION ON THE PART OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. ENHANCING THE CANADA HEALTH TRANSFER REMAINS ONE OF OUR GOVERNMENT'S TOP PRIORITIES. EVERY PREMIER IN CANADA OF EVERY POLITICAL STRIPE HAS CALLED ON THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT TO INCREASE THE CANADA HEALTH TRANSFER TO COVER 35 percent OF HEALTH SPENDING, A FAR CRY FROM THE 50 percent THAT WAS THE ORIGINAL DEAL. WITH AN AGING POPULATION AND A RAPIDLY EXPANDING DEMAND FOR SERVICES, ONTARIO NEEDS A STRONGER FEDERAL PARTNER TO ENSURE WE CAN IMPROVE WAIT TIMES, REDUCE SURGERY BACKLOGS AND PROVIDE ACCESS TO MORE BEDS AND BETTER TREATMENT AND COME OUT OF THE PANDEMIC WITH A STRONGER, MORE RESILIENT WORLD CLASS HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE SUPPLEMENTARY question. The member for Oakville.

Crawford says THANK YOU FOR THE PARLIAMENT ASSISTANT FOR THE ANSWER. I KNOW THAT MY CONSTITUENTS ARE WORRIED ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM AND WANT EVERY LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT TO MAKE SURE IT'S PROTECTED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. FOR DECADES, PAST GOVERNMENTS FAILED TO FIX HALLWAY HEALTH CARE AND BUILD THE CAPACITY WE SO DESPERATELY NEED TODAY. HEALTH CARE SPENDING IS RISING RAPIDLY IN ONTARIO AND WE CAN SEE WITH THE SHRINKING CANADA HEALTH TRANSFER THAT THE COST IS GOING TO BE INCREASING FOR ONTARIO TAXPAYERS. WOULD THE MINISTER PLEASE TELL US WHAT THE MEMBERS OF THIS HOUSE CAN DO TO ENSURE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MEETS THEIR COMMITMENT AND DOES NOT ABDICATE THEIR RESPONSIBILITY BY CANADA'S PUBLIC HEALTH CARE SYSTEM?

The Speaker says PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT.

Cho says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. YOU KNOW THE ONTARIO NDP AND THE ONTARIO LIBERALS COULDN'T FIND A SINGLE ISSUE WITH WHAT WAS IN OUR GOVERNMENT'S LAST BUDGET. AND DESPITE RECORDS SET, HISTORIC SPENDING TO PROTECT THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, MEMBERS OPPOSITE REPEATEDLY CALLED ON THIS GOVERNMENT TO SPEND MORE. YET THE OPPOSITION IS ODDLY SILENT, MR. SPEAKER, AS THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT ALLOWS IT TO SHRINK EVERY SINGLE YEAR. OVER THE COMING YEARS, THE CHC WILL INCREASE FROM 22 TO JUST 18 percent, A GAP OF 30 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. SPEAKER, WHILE THIS GOVERNMENT IS MAKING UNPRECEDENTED INVESTMENTS IN HEALTH CARE, IT'S THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THAT WILL BE CUTTING HEALTH CARE FUNDING IN ONTARIO BY 30 BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY. SO I HOPE THAT ALL MEMBERS OF THIS HOUSE WILL STAND UP TO PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH CARE IN ONTARIO, JOIN THIS GOVERNMENT AND THE LEADERSHIP SHOWN BY PREMIER FORD, PUT POLITICS ASIDE. CALL ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. CALL ON THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT TO LIVE UP TO THEIR COMMITMENT AND PROTECT THE LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY OF ONTARIO'S WORLD CLASS HEALTH SYSTEM.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE NEXT question. The member for Waterloo.

The caption changes to "Catherine Fife. NDP. Waterloo."

Fife is in her late forties, with straight brown hair in a bob. She wears glasses and a blue blazer over a black shirt.

She says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS TO THE PREMIER. ON MONDAY, GOVERNMENT MEMBERS SHOT DOWN BILL 275, A DIVERSE PROCUREMENT STRATEGY SUPPORTED BY INFORMED STAKEHOLDERS TO FULLY UNDERSTAND HOW WOMEN AND BIPOC BUSINESS OWNERS HAVE BEEN DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED BY THE PANDEMIC. AT ONE POINT DURING THE DEBATE, A GOVERNMENT MEMBER SAID, WE CANNOT RUSH DIVERSITY. SPEAKER, THIS COMMENT COMING FROM A GOVERNMENT THAT GUTTED THE ANTI-RACISM DIRECTORATE AND CANCELLED INDIGENOUS RIDINGS IS IS A BIT RICH. IT SEEMS THAT WHEN IT COMES TO ACTUALLY DOING WORK TO SUPPORT BIPOC FOLKS AND ADDRESS THE SHECESSION THE GOVERNMENT IS ALL TALK AND NO ACTION. WE'RE STILL WAITING FOR THE MUCH TALKED ABOUT WOMEN'S TASK FORCE. BILL 275 CAN MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE TO ONTARIO'S DIVERSE BUSINESS AND IS YOU NEED ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET. WHY WOULD THE GOVERNMENT CHOOSE NOT TO SUPPORT ONTARIO'S DIVERSE SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS IN THE MIDDLE 6 A PANDEMIC?

The Speaker says TO REPLY ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT.

The caption changes to "Honourable Paul A. Calandra. PC. Government House Leader."

Calandra is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He wears a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie.

He says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. I DO APPRECIATE THE QUESTION FROM THE MEMBER OPPOSITE. WE HAVE SEEN A NUMBER OF BILLS MOVED FORWARD BY THE OPPOSITION THAT REALLY DON'T ADDRESS THE ISSUES AS THEY SUGGEST THAT THEY WOULD, MR. SPEAKER. WE HAVE PUT IN A NUMBER OF... WHEN IT COMES TO PROCUREMENT, OF COURSE, WE WERE LEFT WITH A SITUATION BY THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT WHERE THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS A CENTRALIZED PROCUREMENT, MR. SPEAKER. IT REALLY PUT US IN JEOPARDY WHEN WE STARTED TO RESPOND INITIALLY TO THE PANDEMIC. WE MOVED QUICKLY TO ENSURE THAT THAT WAS GOING FORWARD AS WELL, MR. SPEAKER, WHEN IT COMES TO SUPPORTS FOR OUR SMALL AND MEDIUM JOB CREATORS, WE SAW JUST THE OTHER DAY IN THIS PLACE, WHEN THE MEMBERS OF THE LIBERAL PARTY BROUGHT FORWARD A BILL THAT WOULD PUT SEVERE PUNISHMENTS ON OUR SMALL AND MEDIUM JOB CREATORS, MR. SPEAKER. WE TURNED THAT DOWN BECAUSE THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO PAY ANYMORE, MR. SPEAKER. THAT WAS SUPPORTED BY THE OPPOSITION, MR. SPEAKER. WHEN IT COMES TO MORE SUPPORTING OUR SMALL AND MEDIUM JOB CREATORS, MR. SPEAKER, WE WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE THEIR BACKS, MR. SPEAKER.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS.

Fife says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER, WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ENTIRELY AVOIDABLE THIRD WAVE. SMALL BUSINESS CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE TO EVEN ACCESS FUNDS THAT WERE PROMISED TO THEM AFTER THE BOXING DAY LOCKDOWN DURING THE SECOND WAVE. THEY'RE STILL WAITING FOR LEADERSHIP FROM THIS GOVERNMENT. THERE'S A LAUNDRY LIST OF COMPLAINTS FROM SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS ABOUT THE SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT GRANT. MY COLLEAGUES AND I HAVE REACHED OUT COUNTLESS TIMES ASKING FOR SUPPORT FOR OUR BUSINESS CONSTITUENTS WHO EMPLOY 80 percent OF THE WORKERS IN ONTARIO. IT'S GOTTEN TO THE PROBLEM WHERE THE PROBLEMS WITH THIS GRANT PROGRAM ARE JEOPARDIZING LIVELIHOODS AND WILL UNDERMINE ECONOMIC RECOVERY. SPEAKER, TO THE GOVERNMENT: WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE GRANT PROGRAM AND WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG TO FIX IT AND TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES ACROSS THE PROVINCE?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE ASSOCIATE MINISTER OF SMALL BUSINESS AND PRODUCTION.

The caption changes to "Honourable Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria. PC. Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction."

Singh Sarkaria is in his thirties, with a prominent full beard. He wears a black turban, gray plaid suit, white shirt and spotted gray tie.

He says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. AND I APPRECIATE THE QUESTION. FROM THE MEMBER OPPOSITE. WE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN FACED WITH INCREDIBLE PRESSURES THROUGHOUT THIS PANDEMIC, BUT THE SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT GRANT, AS OF TODAY, HAS PAID OUT 2.4 BILLION DOLLARS IN PAYMENTS TO SMALL BUSINESSES. 107,000 FIRST PAYMENTS AND A DOUBLING OF WHAT WAS SUBMITTED TO IN THE PREVIOUS BUDGET. OF THAT, 57,000 BUSINESSES HAVE ALSO RECEIVED THEIR AUTOMATIC SECOND PAYMENT IN THAT SUPPORT GRANT FOR OVER 873 dollars. IN TERMS OF SOME OF THE DELAYS, SOME BUSINESSES ARE EXPERIENCING, WE HAVE TRIPLED THE SUPPORT STAFF ON THE BACK END TO ENSURE THAT WE GIVE BACK TO THOSE BUSINESSES AND AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, AND ENSURE THAT THEY CAN GET THE SUPPORT AND MONEY INTO THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS. BECAUSE WE DO RECOGNIZE...

The Speaker says RESPONSE?

Singh Sarkaria says THE CHALLENGING TIME. OVER 107,000 FIRST PAYMENTS AND 57,000 SECOND PAYMENTS FOR OVER 2.5 BILLION DOLLARS IN DIRECT SUPPORT.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE NEXT question. The member for Guelph.

The caption changes to "Mike Schreiner. Green. Guelph."

Schreiner is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He wears glasses, a dark gray suit, white shirt, and striped green tie.

He says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS FOR THE PREMIER: COVID HAS TAUGHT US THAT FAILING TO FOLLOW THE SCIENTISTS HAS CATASTROPHIC CONSEQUENCES. PAID SICK DAYS BEING ONE EXAMPLE. SCIENTISTS ARE WARNING US THE URGENCY TO ACT ON ANOTHER PENDING CRISIS, THE CLIMATE CRISIS. A NEW REPORT TODAY SHOWS THAT HIGHWAY 413 WILL INCREASE HG CHL EMISSIONS BY 700,000 TONNES PER YEAR, 17.4 MILLION TONNES OF CLIMATE POLLUTION IN THE NEXT THREE DECADES. SO SPEAKER, WILL THE PREMIER LISTEN TO THE SCIENTISTS AND NOT THE LAND SPECULATORS AND CANCEL HIGHWAY 413?

The Speaker says ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT. MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION.

Mulroney says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. AS I INDICATED EARLIER TO THE MEMBER OPPOSITE, I THANK THE MEMBER FOR THE QUESTION... AS I INDICATED EARLIER, WE ARE DOING THE IMPORTANT WORK OF COMPLETING A COMPLETE AS FULLSOME ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS AS WE CONSIDER WHETHER OR NOT TO PROCEED WITH HIGHWAY 413. WE BELIEVE, UNLIKE THE LIBERALS, THAT IT'S IMPORTANT TO COLLECT ALL THE EVIDENCE. THE INFORMATION THAT WAS PUBLISHED TODAY IS, OF COURSE, OF GREAT INTEREST TO FEED INTO THE WORK WE'RE DOING. WE BELIEVE THAT THE DEMOGRAPHIC GROWTH IN THE GREATER GOLDEN HORSESHOE TO COME IN THE NEXT FEW DECADES WARRANTS OUR GOVERNMENT TAKING THE TIME TO CONSIDER WHAT THE TRANSPORTATION NEEDS ARE OF THE GREATER GOLDEN HORSESHOE AND THAT MEANS CONTINUING WITH THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS FOR HIGHWAY 413.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION.

Schreiner says SPEAKER, AN EXPERT PANEL HAS ALREADY CONCLUDED THAT THE COST OF HIGHWAY 413 FAR EXCEEDS ANY BENEFIT. THE REPORT TODAY SHOWS THAT THE COST OF AIR POLLUTION ALONE WILL BE 1.4 BILLION DOLLARS. THE HIGHWAY WILL PAVE OVER 2,000 ACRES OF PRIME FARMLAND AND UNLEASH SPRAWL ON OCCASIONAL FARMLAND NEEDED TO GROW FOOD. IT WILL PAVE OVER 400 ACRES OF THE GREENBELT, INCREASE CLIMATE POLLUTION TO A POINT WHERE WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO MEET OUR OBLIGATIONS, COST TAXPAYERS 6 TO 10 BILLION DOLLARS ALL TO SAVE COMMUTERS THIRTY SECONDS. I THINK THE EVIDENCE IS CLEAR: THE SCIENTISTS, THE EXPERTS NOW LOCAL MUNICIPAL COUNCILS, THE ONTARIO FEDERATION OF AGRICULTURE AND OTHERS ARE SAYING, LISTEN TO THE SCIENCE. CANCEL HIGHWAY 413 AND USE THAT MONEY FOR HIGHER PRIORITIES.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION.

Mulroney says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. WELL, THIS WEST HIGHWAY CORRIDOR IS SUBJECT TO AN INDIVIDUAL ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT WHICH IS AMONG THE MOST STRINGENT PROCESSES ON RECORD. AS I HAVE INDICATED, WE'RE TAKING THE TIME, THE NECESSARY TIME, TO STUDY THE HIGHWAY AND ALL OF ITS IMPACTS. THAT INCLUDES TAKING IN INFORMATION FROM STAKEHOLDERS WHO ARE LOOKING FOR ADDITIONAL TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE SO THAT THEY CAN GET THEIR GOODS TO MARKET. AND THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION, IT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO OVERSEE THE TRANSPORTATION NETWORKS TODAY AND TO CONSIDER WHAT ITS NEEDS ARE FOR TOMORROW SO WE ARE DOING THAT IMPORTANT WORK, MR. SPEAKER. WE BELIEVE IT'S ESSENTIAL FOR DRIVERS IN THE COMING YEARS, BUT ALSO IN THE COMING DECADES, AND WE WILL DO ALL THE WORK THAT'S NECESSARY AS WE STUDY THE PROJECT ITSELF.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THANK YOU. NEXT QUESTION. THE HONORABLE MEMBER FOR OAKVILLE.

Crawford says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS TO THE MINISTER OF FINANCE. IN THE PAST WEEK ALONE, THERE HAVE BEEN DOZENS OF FLIGHTS IN THE TORONTO-PEARSON AIRPORT CARRYING PASSENGERS WITH DANGEROUS COVID-19 VARIANTS. THERE HAVE BEEN OTHER POSSIBLE EXPOSURES AT AIRPORTS IN HAMILTON AND OTTAWA. WHILE ONTARIANS ARE LARGELY DOING THEIR PART TO STOP THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS IN THE COMMUNITY, VARIANTS COMING ACROSS OUR BORDERS ARE MAKING THE PANDEMIC HARDER TO CONTAIN. I KNOW OUR GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN ACTION BY ISSUING AN EMERGENCY ORDER RESTRICTING TRAVEL BETWEEN THE MANITOBA AND QUEBEC LAND AND WATER BORDERS, BUT AS CASE NUMBERS EXPLODE IN COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD, INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS CONTINUE TO LAND IN ONTARIO EVERY SINGLE DAY. MR. SPEAKER, WILL GOVERNMENT RENEW ITS CALL TO SECURE OUR AIRPORTS AS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD HAVE DONE MONTHS AGO?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE MINISTER.

Cho says THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER FOR OAKVILLE FOR THAT QUESTION. SPEAKER, EVERYONE KNEW THAT THESE VARIANTS OF CONCERN WERE A THREATED BUT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DID TOO LATE WAY TOO LATE TO PROTECT US FROM THAT. THE DIFFICULT BUT NECESSARY MEASURES ONTARIANS FOLLOWED TO CURB THE FIRST AND SECOND WAVE ARE STRUGGLING TO FLATTEN THE VARIANTS DURING THE THIRD WAVE OF THIS PANDEMIC. CANADA COULD HAVE AVOIDED THE DEVASTATING VARIANTS, WITH STRICTER BORDER MEASURES LIKE THOSE IN AUSTRALIA AND CUT VARIANTS OUT OR WITH A CONSISTENT VACCINES WHERE WE'VE SEEN IN ISRAEL OR THE U.K. SPEAKER, TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT FINALLY HALTED FLIGHTS FROM INDIA AFTER WEEKS OF WARNING BUT ALL TRAVELERS, REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY'RE COMING FROM, MAY HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO A VARIANT. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR AIRPORTS AND WE NEED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO SECURE OUR AIRPORTS NOW.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION.

Crawford says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. I WANT TO THANK THE PARLIAMENT ASSISTANT FOR THE ANSWER. AND I THANK THE PREMIER FOR HIS LEADERSHIP IN CALLING FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO SECURE OUR BORDERS. MY CONSTITUENTS ARE CONCERNED THAT DESPITE THE STEPS OUR GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN TO PREVENT LAND CROSSINGS AT THE BORDERS WITH MANITOBA AND QUEBEC, THERE ARE NO MEASURES IN PLACE TO PROTECT OUR PROVINCE FROM THE EXPANSION OF COVID VARIANTS THROUGH AIR TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY OR DOMESTICALLY. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S QUARANTINE HOTELS WERE SUPPOSED TO PREVENT CASES FROM ENTERING THE COUNTRY BUT AS WE REPORTED LAST WEEK BY THE CBC, THOUSANDS OF TRAVEL REMEMBERS SIMPLY WALKING ACROSS THE BORDER IN ORDER TO AVOID THIS FAILED MEASURE. OVER 70 percent OF THE DAILY CASES IN ONTARIO TODAY ARE CONFIRMED AS VARIANTS OF CONCERN. AS WE KNOW THESE VARIANTS DID NOT ORIGINATE IN ONTARIO. MR. SPEAKER, WHAT CAN THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT DO TO PREVENT MEASURES, CASE AND IS FUTURE VARIANTS FROM ENTERING THIS PROVINCE?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

Cho says THE MEMBER ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. OUR GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN DOING OUR PART BUT PROVINCES CANNOT BEAT THIS THIRD WAVE ALONE. WE NEED OUR FEDERAL PARTNERS TO STEP UP. WE NEED MORE VACCINES AND TIGHTER BORDER RESTRICTIONS TO PREVENT MORE VARIANTS. MINISTER JONES AND MINISTER ELLIOTT WROTE TO MINISTER HAJDU AND BLAIR ASKING FOR THE MANDATORY FOR ANYONE INTO A DOMESTIC FLIGHT INTO ONTARIO. WE WELCOME THE ACTIONS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN OF LATE, BUT THEY HAVE NOT GONE FAR ENOUGH TO PREVENT THE COVID-19 VARIANTS OF CONCERN FROM SUPERING CANADA. SPEAKER, TO ENSURE THAT WE'RE ABLE TO BEAT THIS THIRD WAVE, IF I DON'T GET PAST COVID-19, WE NEED THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT CLOSING THE BORDERS. MAKE TESTING MANDATORY FOR INTERPROVINCIAL TRAVELERS AT AIRPORTS. AND GET MORE VACCINES INTO ARMS, MORE ARMS IN ONTARIO AND ACROSS CANADA. THANK YOU.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE NEXT question. The member for TORONTO-ST. PAUL'S.

The caption changes to "Jill Andrew. NDP. Toronto-Saint Paul's."

Andrew is in her thirties, with black hair in a bun. She wears a striped white blazer.

She says SPEAKER, TO THE PREMIER, I RISE TODAY FOR GLORIA WHO LIVES ON VAUGHAN ROAD IN MY COMMUNITY. SHE HAS GIVEN OVER THIRTY YEARS OF HER LIFE TO ADVOCACY FIGHTING TIRELESSLY FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND CHILD CARE. GLORIA, A SENIOR, HAS SHOWN UP FOR MANY IN OUR COMMUNITY AND IN ONTARIO. SHE NEEDS THIS GOVERNMENT TO SHOW UP FOR HER TODAY. GLORIA'S HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY AND HER CT SCANS HAVE BEEN POSTPONED SEVERAL TIMES DURING COVID. HER OSTEOARTHRITIS IS GETTING WORSE. SHE'S TORMENTED PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY DAILY BY A PAIN THAT HAS LITERALLY STOLEN HER MOBILITY. SPEAKER TO, THE PREMIER: KNOWING FULLY WELL THAT OVER 700 MILLION DOLLARS IS NECESSARY TO TACKLE THE STILL GROWING SURGICAL BACKLOG, YOUR CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT, IN YOUR BUDGET, JUST PASSED, ONLY ALLOCATED 300 MILLION DOLLARS. NOT EVEN HALF OF WHAT'S NECESSARY. TO THE SPEAKER AM. WHEN WILL GLORIA BE ABLE TO GET HER SURGERY? WHAT WOULD YOU, CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT, LIKE ME TO TELL GLORIA TODAY ON BEHALF OF YOUR GOVERNMENT WHEN I LEAVE QUESTION PERIOD? BECAUSE I'M GIVING HER A CALL RIGHT AFTER. PLEASE ANSWER, PREMIER. THANK YOU.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says A COMMENT TO THE CHAIR. TO REPLY, THE DEPUTY PREMIER, MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. THE MEMBER HAS RAISED A VERY IMPORTANT POINT. WE HAVE INVESTED ACTUALLY OVER 500 MILLION DOLLARS IN ORDER TO PROCEED WITH THE BACKLOG OF SURGERIES AND DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES THAT WE HAVE HAD TO POSTPONE BECAUSE OF THE INCREASE AMID THE THIRD WAVE AND THE INCREASE IN OUR HOSPITALS. THIS HAS CREATED MORE SPACE FOR MORE COVID PATIENTS BUT I UNDERSTAND THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE WAITING FOR THEIR SURGERIES. NOTWITHSTANDING THAT, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PROVIDE OVER 430,000 SCHEDULED SURGERIES SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC AND WE ARE ABLE TO GET MORE PATIENTS INTO HOSPITALS. IT IS AN ABSOLUTE PRIORITY FOR US TO PROCEED WITH THOSE SURGERIES AND PROCEDURES BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT THOUGH... THEY'RE NOT REALLY... PEOPLE NEED THEM TO BE DONE. THAT IS A PRIORITY FOR US IS SOMETHING THAT...

The Speaker says MEMBER FOR TORONTO-ST. PAUL COME TO ORDER.

Elliott says AS SOON AS WE SEE...

The Speaker says THANK YOU.

Andrew says BACK TO THE PREMIER: NOW, LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ONTARIO SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT GRANT. THIS GOVERNMENT SAID LAST MONTH THEY DOUBLED THIS GRANT PROGRAM TO HELP OUT SMALL BUSINESS INSIDE FLY COMMUNITY AND ELIGIBLE RECIPIENTS WERE AUTOMATICALLY ENTITLED TO A SECOND PAYMENT. SPEAKER, THERE ARE COUNTLESS SMALL BUSINESS INSIDE ST. PAUL'S, THEY'VE APPLIED AND BEEN DENIED AND THEY ASK FOR QUESTIONS AND THEY GET NO RESPONSE FROM THE GOVERNMENT. OTHERS FLAT OUT ARE DENIED BECAUSE THEIR BUSINESSES ARE APPARENTLY TOO NEW TO QUALIFY. SOME ARE ELIGIBLE BUT ARE STILL DENIED. JOANNE, WHO OWNS WEDGEWOOD AND A BLACK-OWNED BUSINESS, BY THE WAY, SERVING VEGAN FOOD, A CROWD FAVOURITE IN OUR VILLAGE COMMUNITY, WAS TOLD BY THIS GOVERNMENT THAT MONEY WAS ON THE WAY IN TEN BUSINESS DAYS BUT SHE'S STILL WAITING. WHERE IS JOANNE'S FUNDING? WHEN IS THE GOVERNMENT GOING TO FIX THE ONTARIO SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM THAT IS FRAUGHT WITH ERRORS?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE MINISTER OF SMALL BUSINESS.

Singh Sarkaria says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. YOU R THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER OPPOSITE FOR THE QUESTION. WE RECOGNIZE THAT THIS IS A SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFICULT TIME. THERE'S NO SUGAR COATING IT. BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN IMPACTED. WE ARE PROCESSING SECOND PAYMENTS IN TERMS OF THE FIRST PAYMENTS, OVER 7,000 PAYMENTS DIRECT BUSINESSES TO PAYMENTS, OVER 873 MILLION DOLLARS HAVE BEEN PROCESSED. WE HAVE TRIPLED THE SUPPORT STAFF ON THE BACK END TO ENSURE BUSINESSES, LIKE THE ONES MENTIONED, ARE GETTING THE SUPPORT THAT ARE BEING ABLE TO BEING ATTENDED TO AND ENSURE THAT WE DO GET THAT PAYMENT TO THEM AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. ON TOP OF THAT, WE DO HAVE OTHER SUPPORT PROGRAMS LIKE DIGITAL MAIN STREET AT 2500 GRANT FOR BUSINESSES.

The Speaker says MEMBER FOR TORONTO-ST. PAUL, COME TO ORDER.

Singh Sarkaria says ACCESS UP TO 90 percent IN FEDERAL SUPPORTS FOR THE RENT PROGRAM AND WAGE SUBSIDIES AND ALSO A HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TAX-FREE ENERGY COSTS.

The Speaker says MINISTER OF HERITAGE COME TO ORDER. WHEN THE SPEAKER ASKS YOU TO COME TO ORDER, THAT MEANS STOP HECKLING. THE NEXT QUESTION FROM THE MEMBER FOR OTTAWA VANIER.

The caption changes to "Lucille Collard. Liberal. Ottawa-Vanier."

Collard is in her fifties, with long wavy blond hair and bangs. She wears glasses, a reptile skin jacket over a black blouse, and a silver pendant necklace.

She says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS FOR THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. IT'S BEEN A MONTH NOW SINCE THE FIRST TIME I VOICED THE URGENT CONCERNS OF MY RIDING IN THIS HOUSE REGARDING VACCINE ACCESSIBILITY. SINCE THEN, THE NUMBERS HAVE ONLY GOTTEN WORSE. OTTAWA PUBLIC HEALTH HAS IDENTIFIED VANIER, OVERBROOK AND LOWER TOWN AS HIGH-RISK NEIGHBOURHOODS. YET NOT A SINGLE ONE IS CONSIDERED TO BE A HOT SPOT AND EACH OF THOSE NEIGHBOURHOODS HAS ONLY ONE PHARMACY TO SERVE THEIR HIGH DENSITY POPULATIONS. SO WHY IS THE MINISTER NOT TRUSTING OTTAWA PUBLIC HEALTH NUMBERS TO DESIGNATE HOT SPOTS IN OTTAWA TO BETTER TARGET HIGH-RISK AREAS AND WHEN WILL ACTIONS BE TAKEN TO PROTECT OTTAWA HOT SPOTS THAT HAVE BEEN FORGOTTEN?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says MR. SPEAKER, THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER FOR THE QUESTION. PRIMARILY THE ISSUE HAS BEEN LIVE ACCESS UP UNTIL NOW. HOWEVER, WE ARE EXPECTING LARGE QUANTITIES OF THE PFIZER VACCINE TO COME IN STARTING NEXT WEEK AND THROUGHOUT THE EXPIRE MONTH OF MAY. WE'RE ALSO RECEIVING MODERNA VACCINES TODAY AS WELL. SO WE WILL BE ABLE TO EXPAND BOTH WITHIN HOT SPOTS AND TO REGIONS ACROSS THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. AS THE MEMBER KNOWS, THERE HAVE ALREADY BEEN 114 HOT SPOTS IDENTIFIED BY POSTAL CODES. THEY'RE BASED ON SITUATIONS RELATING TO HIGH HOSPITALIZATIONS IN THE PAST, HIGH ICUS UNFORTUNATELY, A LARGE NUMBER OF DEATHS AS WELL. WE ARE IDENTIFYING NEW HOT SPOTS AND WE ARE DEALING WITH THEM. WITH THESE VACCINES THAT ARE COMING IN. WE'RE ALSO EXPANDING THEM IN MORE PHARMACIES, INCLUDING PHARMACIES THAT WILL BE OPEN 24-7 IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO RESPOND TO PEOPLE WHO ARE COMING FROM WORK OR... TO HAVE THAT ADDITIONAL FLEXIBILITY.

The Speaker says THANK YOU. THE SUPPLEMENTARY.

Collard says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. MY FOLLOW-UP FOR THE MINISTER: THE SCIENCE TABLE REVEALED TRA FIVE HIGHER RISK POSTAL CODES, THEY RECOMMENDED WERE LEFT OFF THE GOVERNMENT'S LIST. MEANWHILE, EIGHT LOWER RISK AREAS WERE INCLUDED. I'M STILL WONDERING WHY. THE GOVERNMENT ALSO DIDN'T INITIALLY FOLLOW THE TABLED GUIDANCE ON HOW MANY HOT SPOTS SHOULD BE IDENTIFIED AND HOW THE VACCINE SHOULD BE ALLOCATED. MERELY THE CHOICES OF COMMUNITIES WERE NOT INFORMED BY ALL THE NECESSARY DATA. SINCE WE CAN'T TAKE VACCINES AWAY FROM ALREADY TARGETED, WE UNDERSTAND THAT BUT IT'S CRUCIAL THAT HIGH-RISK AREAS THAT HAVE BEEN LEFT OUT BE PRIORITY ICED AS WELL. IN ORDER TO SEND THEM THAT THAT'S ALWAYS A REDEMPTION. CAN THE MINISTER COMMIT TO THE LIST OF HOT SPOTS TO INCLUDE THE HIGH-RISK AREAS THAT HAVE BEEN INCLUDED AND WHEN WILL THAT BE DONE?

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. FIRST IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE ORIGINAL HOT SPOTS WAS MADE WITH CLIP CAL ADVICE OF MEDICAL EXPERTS. THE MEDICAL EXPERTS ON THIS SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE, OBTAINED THE INFORMATION FROM ONTARIO HEALTH THAT WAS PROVIDED TO THE VACCINE PASSPORTS, THE VACCINE PASSPORTS AND THE OTHER MEDICAL EXPERTS APPLIED OTHER CRITERIA INCLUDING SOME OF THE BARRIERS TO VACCINES AND THE SITUATION WHICH I DEALT WITH WHAT THEIR SITUATION WAS IN WAVE TWO, VACCINE HESITANCY, ETHNOCULTURAL FACTORS, SOCIODEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS, TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE FULL PICTURE TO IDENTIFY THOSE VACCINE HOT SPOTS. NOTWITHSTANDING THAT, THERE ARE OTHER HOT SPOTS THAT ARE BEING IDENTIFIED AND WE DO HAVE VACCINES AVAILABLE TO SEND TO THOSE AREAS AS WELL. THIS WILL BE MORE AVAILABLE WITH THE ADDITIONAL VACCINES THAT ARE COMING IN. STARTING NEXT WEEK. BUT WE WILL MAKE SURE THAT WE IDENTIFY THE ORIGINAL HOT SPOTS AND DEAL WITH THOSE AS WELL AS NEW HOT SPOTS COMING FORWARD.

The Speaker says THE NEXT question. The member for Niagara Falls.

The caption changes to "Wayne Gates. NDP. Niagara Falls."

Gates is in his fifties, with short black hair and a prominent moustache. He wears glasses, a black suit, white shirt and black tie.

He says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS TO THE PREMIER: EARLY THIS WEEK, BOTH TORONTO AND PEEL MOVED TO SHUT DOWN WORKPLACES BECAUSE OF COVID-19 OUTBREAKS. THEY'RE SHUTTING THEM THEMSELVES BECAUSE THE PROVINCE IS REFUSING THAT TO SAVE WORKERS' LIVES. THE GOVERNMENT'S OWN ADVISORY COMMITTEE, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH, UNIONS AND BUSINESSES ARE SAYING, WORKERS NEED PROVINCIAL PAID SICK DAYS TO BE SAFE IN THE WORKPLACE. YET EVERY DAY, WORKERS IN HOT SPOTS ARE FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN GOING TO WORK SICK AND FEEDING THEIR FAMILIES. THE CHOICE IS KILLING PEOPLE AND THIS GOVERNMENT'S TO BLAME. TODAY IS THE DAY OF MOURNING. IN THE LABOUR MOVEMENT, WE MOURN FOR THE DEAD AND PLEDGE TO FIGHT FOR THE LIVING. NEW DEMOCRATS ARE FIGHTING. WORKERS ARE FIGHTING. HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS ARE FIGHTING. WHY WON'T THIS GOVERNMENT JOIN THE FIGHT? LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS. PROVIDED PAID PROVINCIAL PAID SICK DAYS. WHY ARE THEY LETTING WORKERS GET SICK AND DIE?

Calandra says THE SUGGESTION THAT ANY MEMBER OF THIS HOUSE EITHER SIDE IS WANTING WORKERS NOT TO BE SAFE IS ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLY PREPOSTEROUS AND THE MEMBER OPPOSITE KNOWS THAT. HE DOES...

The Speaker says ORDER.

Calandra says HE DOES A DISSERVICE TO EVERY MEMBER WHEN HE USES LANGUAGE LIKE THAT. I CAN TELL THE MEMBER OPPOSITE THAT I CARE EVERY BIT ABOUT WORKERS IN HIS RIDING AS HE DOES IN HIS RIDING. I CERTAINLY WOULD NEVER... I WOULD NEVER RISE IN THIS CHAMBER AND SUGGEST THAT ANY OF THE MEMBERS OPPOSITE CARE ANY LESS ABOUT THE PEOPLE THAT THEY REPRESENT THAN I DO, MR. SPEAKER. IF THE MEMBER WANTS TO ASK A QUESTION, A PROPER QUESTION, WITHOUT SUCH INSIN SITUATION SITUATIONS, MR. SPEAKER, WITHOUT SUCH LANGUAGE, HE'LL GET A PROPER ANSWER.

The Speaker says ORDER. ORDER. ORDER. SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION.

Gates says I'LL RESPOND TO THAT, SIR. PEOPLE IN THIS PROVINCE ARE DYING EVERY DAY. AND THEY'RE DYING BECAUSE THEY CAN'T GET PAID SICK DAYS. THEY'RE DYING BECAUSE THEY CAN'T GO TO WORK AND PUT FOOD ON THEIR PLATE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. THERE'S A REASON WHY PAID SICK DAYS ARE IMPORTANT IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. AND I BELIEVE THAT EVERYBODY IN THIS HOUSE SHOULD SUPPORT PAID SICK DAYS TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO MAKE SURE THAT WORKER THAT IS GOING IN ESSENTIAL WORKERS, GOING TO WORK EVERY DAY TO PROVIDE FOOD ON THAT PLATE FOR THEIR FAMILY, PUT RENT, PAY THEIR MORTGAGE AND WE CAN FIX THAT RIGHT HERE IN THIS HOUSE, WE CAN FIX THAT. YOU KNOW HOW WE FIX IT? ON THE DAY OF MOURNING? WE PROVIDE PROVINCIAL PAID SICK DAYS TO THOSE WORKERS CAN TAKE THE DAY OFF!
[SOME APPLAUSE]
MAKE SURE THAT THEIR FAMILY IS TAKEN CARE OF. WE JUST HAD A 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL DIE BECAUSE A WORKER WAS... AN ESSENTIAL WORKER WAS GOING TO WORK AND BROUGHT COVID HOME. WHAT ARE WE DOING? WHEN YOU CAN TELL ME THAT YOU'RE UPSET WITH ME FOR SAYING THAT WHAT I DID, THAT'S HOW I FEEL. I DON'T WANT ANYBODY DYING BECAUSE THEY'RE A WORKER IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO BECAUSE THIS GOVERNMENT WON'T PROVIDE PAID SICK DAYS! THAT'S WHAT IT'S ABOUT, SIR! IT'S ABOUT SAVING LIVES, MAKING SURE THAT WORKERS GO TO WORK TO PERFORM FAIR DAY'S WORK SAFELY.

[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says THE HONORABLE MEMBER FOR MISSISSAUGA.

Calandra says THE MEMBER OPPOSITE IS EXACTLY RIGHT. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT'S ABOUT. THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE DOING HERE, MR. SPEAKER. PROTECTING WORKERS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING. I WOULD NEVER, FOR A SECOND, SUGGEST THAT THE MEMBER OPPOSITE'S PASSION ON THIS TOPIC IS ANYTHING BUT LEGITIMATE, AND I APPRECIATE THE PASSION THAT HE BRINGS TO THIS DEBATE. NOT ONLY TODAY, BUT EACH AND EVERY DAY. I APPRECIATE THE WORK THAT HE HAS DONE OVER HIS LIFETIME TO ADVANCE THE RIGHTS OF WORKERS. I KNOW THAT HE HAS WORKED IN A UNION FOR MANY, MANY YEARS, MR. SPEAKER. AND I UNDERSTAND FOR MANY, MANY YEARS OF LIVING IN THE HOUSE WITH A PARENT THAT WENT TO WORK, WITH FAMILY MEMBERS WHO WENT TO WORK, WE JUST TALKED ABOUT IT EARLIER THE MEMBER FOR EGLINGTON-LAWRENCE ABOUT THOSE ITALIAN WORKERS WHO CAME IN THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES AND WORKED SO HARD TO BUILD THIS COMMUNITY, MR. SPEAKER. I UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO PROTECT WORKERS AND THIS GOVERNMENT UNDERSTANDS THAT AND THAT'S WHY WE ARE GOING TO DO EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER TO CONTINUE TO MAKE THE LIVES OF WORKERS, ESSENTIAL WORKERS, ACROSS THIS PROVINCE SAFER, MR. SPEAKER. WE WILL HAVE THEIR BACKS AND I HOPE...

The Speaker says THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION WILL COME TO ORDER. THE NEXT question. The member for SCARBOROUGH-Guildwood.

The caption changes to "Mitzie Hunter. Liberal. Scarborough-Guildwood."

Hunter is in her forties, with long wavy black hair. She wears a maroon dress.

She says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS TO THE DEPUTY PREMIER. WITH THE VARIANTS OF CONCERN RIPPING THROUGH SCARBOROUGH, BRAMPTON AND THE HOTTEST OF HOT SPOTS, WE ARE NOT DOING US ENOUGH TO PROTECT OUR COMMUNITIES AND TO PROTECT ESSENTIAL WORKPLACES. AND, YOU KNOW, THE CLINICS IN SCARBOROUGH ARE STILL CLOSED, THE HOSPITAL CLINICS. SO YOU HAVE PROMISED A 50 percent INCREASE TO HOT SPOTS, AND WE ARE GOING TO LOOK FOR THAT. WORKERS AT FIAT-CHRYSLER AUTOMOTIVE REACHED OUT TO ME TO ASK WHAT WE ARE DOING TO PROTECT PEOPLE WORKING IN ONTARIO PLANTS. WHEN WILL THEY BE PRIORITY ICED? MANY OF THESE WORKERS LIVE IN NONHOT SPOT POSTAL CODES AND, THEREFORE, INELIGIBLE FOR A VACCINE IN THEIR HOME COMMUNITY. BUT EVERY DAY, THEY GO TO THE HOTTEST OF HOT SPOTS. SO MY QUESTION IS TO THE DEPUTY PREMIER IS: WHEN WILL THESE WORKERS, WHO WORK IN THE HOTTEST HOT SPOTS, PUTTING THEIR LIVES AND THEIR FAMILIES AT RISK, RECEIVE A VACCINE?

Elliott says I CAN CERTAINLY AGREE WITH THE MEMBER OPPOSITE THERE ARE MANY HOT SPOTS IN SCARBOROUGH RIGHT NOW. I BELIEVE THERE ARE FIFTEEN POSTAL CODES THAT HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED AS HAVING HOT SPOTS. THEY WILL BE RECEIVING PRESENTLY 25 percent OF THE VACCINES FROM THE TOP ARE GOING TO THE HOT SPOTS IN PEEL AND TORONTO AND WE ARE... I'VE BEEN LOOKING AT 50 percent BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT IF WE ADDRESS THE TRANSMISSION IN THE HOT SPOTS, INCLUDING IN PEEL, IN BRAMPTON AS WELL AS IN SCARBOROUGH, THAT WILL BE TO THE BENEFIT OF EVERYONE IN ONTARIO, BECAUSE 80 percent OF THE TRANSMISSION IS HAPPENING IN 20 percent OF THE LOCATIONS. SO WE ARE PRIORITIZING THAT. WE KNOW THAT WE NEED TO DEAL WITH GETTING MORE VACCINES INTO THOSE AREAS AND NOW WITH THE INCREASE IN VACCINES COMING, STARTING NEXT WEEK, WE WILL BE ABLE TO DO THAT WITHOUT, IN ANY WAY, TAKING AWAY ANY VACCINES THAT ARE GOING TO ANY OTHER PLACE. SO WITH THOSE ADDITIONAL VACCINES, WE WILL BE PRIORITIZING THOSE HOT SPOTS IN PEEL AS WELL AS IN SCARBOROUGH, and other parts of Toronto as well.

Watch: Question Period: Wednesday, April 28, 2021