Transcript: Question Period: Thursday, May 20, 2021 | May 21, 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.

He says 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 blue blazer over a white shirt, and a silver pendant necklace.

She says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. MY FIRST QUESTION IS FOR THE PREMIER, EARLIER THIS WEEK THE PREMIER AND HIS MPPS AGAINST ALL SCIENCE AND HEALTH ADVICE VOTED AGAINST THEIR MOTIONS TO RE-OPEN OUTDOOR AMENITIES SAFELY. ACCOUNT PREMIER CONFIRM THAT HE IS NOW GOING BACK ON HIS DECISION, LIFT RESTRICTIONS THAT HE IMPOSED ON OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT EVERY CREDIBLE EXPERT BEGGED HIM NOT TO DO SO?

The Speaker says ORDER. TO REPLY THE 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 black blazer over a black and white dress.

She says THANK THANK YOU, SPEAKER. I WOULD SAY TO THE LEADER OF THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION THAT WE HAVE ENCOURAGED PEOPLE TO BE OUTDOORS, THE WEATHER IS GREAT NOW. WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO GO TO THE PARKS, THEY'RE ALL OPEN, GO FOR A WALK, A BIKE RIDE, A RUN AND GET OUT AND GET SOME EXERCISE. THAT'S IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE'S PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELLBEING. WE HAVE NOT STRAYED FROM THAT. WE HAVE ALWAYS ENCOURAGED PEOPLE TO BE OUTDOORS THIS TIME OF THE YEAR.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTAL.

Horwath says BACK TO THE PREMIER. THIS GOVERNMENT HAS A TERRIBLE RECORD ON RE-OPENING. BACK IN THE FALL THEY BROUGHT FORWARD THEIR COLOUR-CODED FRAMEWORK IN WHICH THE METRICS THAT THEY USE WERE FOUR TIMES HIGHER THAN WHAT THE EXPERTS RECOMMENDED. BACK IN FEBRUARY THE SCIENCE TABLE PREDICTED IF THE GOVERNMENT RUSHED THE RE-OPENING AND DIDN'T PUT IN EXTRA PUBLIC HEALTH PRECAUTIONS THAT WE WOULD BE IN A VERY TERRIBLE SITUATION. THEY PREDICTED DISASTER AND LOW AND BEHOLD, THE PREMIER IGNORED THEIR ADVICE AND WALKED US INTO THE BRUTAL THIRD WAVE. IN APRIL THE PREMIER DECIDED TO CLOSE PLAYGROUNDS AND BRING A POLICE STATE INTO ONTARIO INSTEAD OF GIVING US PAID SICK DAYS FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS. THAT'S NOT WHAT THE SCIENCE TABLE RECOMMENDED AND NOW APPARENTLY THERE'S BEEN ANOTHER MARATHON CABINET BATTLE UNDERWAY. WILL THIS PREMIER COMMIT THIS TIME TO NOT RELYING ON BUDDIES AND LOBBYISTS AND STAKEHOLDERS AND ACTUALLY LISTEN TO THE SCIENCE?

The Speaker says ORDER.

Elliott says SPEAKER, SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC THE GOVERNMENT'S TOP PRIORITY HAS BEEN THE HEALTH AND WELLBEING OF THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO. SINCE THE ARRIVAL OF THE MORE TRANSMISSIBLE VARIANT TO THE PROVINCE WHICH IS WHAT DID LEAD TO THE THIRD WAVE WE'VE CONTINUED TO TAKE THE NECESSARY ACTIONS TO CONTROL THE SPREAD. BUT WE CONTINUE TO RELY ON THE ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF OUR CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH. OUR PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES TABLE AND MANY OTHER MEDICAL EXPERTS TO REVIEW THE SCIENCE AND THE DATA AND THE CLINIC EVIDENCE TO PROVIDE US WITH ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON WHEN WE CAN SAFELY START TO RE-OPEN THE PROVINCE. WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT. BECAUSE THERE ARE MANY FACTORS THAT NEED TO BE CONSIDERED INCLUDING THE NUMBERS OF THE CASES THAT WE'RE SEEING IN THE PROVINCE. WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH HOSPITALIZATIONS, NEW HOSPITALIZATIONS AS WELL AS ICU RATES, THE R RATE, THE PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM CAPACITY AND THE RATE OF VACCINATIONS WHICH ARE GOING EXTREMELY WELL. WE'VE NOW VACATED OVER 7.5... VACCINATED OVER 7.5 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. THAT'S VERY GOOD NEWS.

The Speaker says FINAL SUPPLEMENTARY.

Horwath says THE PROBLEM IS THEY DON'T TAKE THE EXPERT'S ADVICE, THEY DON'T TAKE THE ADVICE. WE CANNOT GET THIS WRONG AGAIN. IT IS IMPORTANT TO GET IT RIGHT. PARENTS WANT KIDS BACK IN SCHOOL. WORKING PEOPLE WANT TO BE SAFELY BACK ON THE JOB. FRONTLINE HEALTH-CARE WORKERS NEED RELIEF NOT A FOURTH WAVE TO DEAL WITH BUSINESSES... DEAL WITH IT, BUSINESSES NEED CERTAINTY SO THEY CAN RE-OPEN FOR GOOD AND HIRE PEOPLE AGAIN. EVERYBODY WANTS TO SEE PUBLIC HEALTH AHEAD OF POLITICS. THE PREMIER HAS MESSED IT UP THREE TIMES. COSTING US JOBS, COSTING LIVES, COSTING BUSINESSES. WE DON'T TRUST THEM. NOBODY TRUST THIS IS GOVERNMENT TO GET IT RIGHT. WILL HE COMMIT TODAY TO BASE HIS PLAN ON THE EXPERT ADVICE, MAKE SURE THAT HE MAKES THAT ADVICE PUBLIC BECAUSE NOBODY TRUSTS THIS PREMIER AND NOBODY HAS CONFIDENCE THAT HE'LL GET IT RIGHT THIS TIME.

The Speaker says REPLY, THE MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says I WOULD SAY, OF COURSE, WE ARE RELYING ON THE MEDICAL ADVICE AND THE SCIENTIFIC ADVICE THAT WE'RE RECEIVING FROM THE EXPERTS. THEY WILL BE THE ONES THAT WILL ADVISE US WHEN IT WILL BE SAFE TO START GRADUALLY RE-OPENING THINGS. WE KNOW THAT HAS TO BE DONE ON A GRADUAL BASIS BECAUSE OF THE VARIANTS OF CONCERN IN PARTICULAR. MORE INFORMATION WILL BE COMING FORWARD ON THAT VERY, VERY SOON.

The Speaker says NEXT QUESTION. THE LEADER THE OPPOSITION.

Horwath says MY NEXT QUESTION IS TO THE PREMIER. I HAVE TO SAY THAT PEOPLE ARE RELIEVED THAT THE ANNOUNCEMENT CAME THAT THE SURGERIES ARE GOING TO START BEING BOOKED AGAIN. THAT IS REALLY GREAT. IT CAN'T HAPPEN SOON ENOUGH AS WE ALL KNOW. IN FACT, IN THE "NATIONAL POST" THERE WAS A REPORT THAT SAYS THIS, SOON TO BE PUBLISHED DATA AND I QUOTE "INDICATES THAT TWICE AS MANY ONTARIANS WITH HEART AILMENTS PASSED AWAY WAITING FOR SURGERY DURING THE PANDEMIC THAN BEFORE COVID-19 HIT." MY QUESTION TO THE PREMIER IS CAN HE TELL US HOW LONG HE EXPECTS PEOPLE TO HAVE TO WAIT AND HOW MANY ONTARIANS HAVE PASSED AWAY WHILE WAITING FOR SYSTEMIC RACISM?

The Speaker says THE MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says OUR GOVERNMENT IS AWARE THAT MANY PEOPLE ARE ANXIOUS WANTING TO HAVE SURGERIES POSTPONED DONE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND TO HAVE THEIR DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES DONE AS WELL. WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD THEIR LIVES PUT ON HOLD FOR A PERIOD OF TIME BECAUSE OF THE VARIANTS AND PC BECAUSE OF THE SURGE IN CASES THAT WE'VE SEEN THAT REQUIRED HOSPITALIZATIONS OF MANY, MANY PEOPLE WITH THE COVID VARIANTS. WE HAVE PUT SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF MONEY INTO DEALING WITH THE BACKLOG. 500 MILLION DOLLARS FROM LAST FALL TO THE MOST RECENT BUDGET, 500 MILLION DOLLARS WILL CERTAINLY HELP BUT IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT IN 2020-2021 THE AVERAGE ONTARIO HOSPITAL COMPLETED 88 percent OF THEIR TOTAL SURGICAL ALLOCATION AND THAT SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THIS PANDEMIC THERE HAS BEEN ALREADY 430,000 SCHEDULED SURGERIES DONE AND MORE TO BE DONE NOW WITH AT REASSURANCE OF THE AMENDMENT TO DIRECTIVE NUMBER 2.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY.

Horwath says SPEAKER, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT PEOPLE HAVEN'T ONLY PUT THEIR LIVES ON HOLD, PEOPLE HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES WHILE THEY'VE BEEN ON HOLD. THE FAO ESTIMATES AS EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT THERE WILL BE 419,000 SURGERIES AND PROCEDURES BACKLOGGED BY SEPTEMBER AND IT WILL TAKE THREE AND A HALF YEARS TO CLEAR THAT BACKLOG. IT DIDN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, THEY STARTED LAST SUMMER TO TRY AND REDUCE BACKLONG GET SURGERIES AND PROCEDURES DEALT WITH AND ENTERED THE THIRD WAVE OF THE PANDEMIC WITH 95 percent OF THE BACKLOG CLEARED. THAT WON'T HAPPEN IN ONTARIO. ONTARIO DID NOTHING IN THAT REGARD AND NOW WE'RE FURTHER BEHIND THAN EVER. EVEN WORSE, THE GOVERNMENT TABLED A BUDGET WITH LESS THAN HALF OF THE NECESSARY FUNDING TO CLEAR THE BACKLOG. MY QUESTION IS WHEN WILL WE SEE A PLAN THAT HAS CLEAR BENCHMARKS AND THE APPROPRIATE FUNDING TO CLEAR THE SURGICAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKLOG.

The Speaker says MINISTER.

Elliott says THE SITUATION IN BC CAN'T BE COMPARED TO ONTARIO BECAUSE IT'S IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT THAT THE PERCENTAGE OF PROCEDURES COMPLETED IN BC REPRESENTS THE PATIENTS WHO ARE ON SURGICAL WAITLISTS WHEN THE RAMP DOWN IN MARCH 2020 BEGAN AND HAD SURGERIES DELAYED. IT DOES NOT ACCOUNT FOR PATIENTS ADDED TO WAITLISTS IN THAT TIME PERIOD IF THERE HAD NOT BEEN A RAMPDOWN. IT'S NOT APPLICABLE TO ONTARIO. BUT WITH RESPECT TO WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ONTARIO WE HAVE INVESTED OVER 28 3 MILLION DOLLARS TO SUPPORT ADDITIONAL PRIORITY SURGERIES, CARDIAC, CANCER, ORTHOPEDIC AND CATARACT SURGERIES. WE EXTENDED IMAGING HOURS AT HEALTH CARE FACILITIES FOR MRI POLICE DEPARTMENTS, ABOUT PC DISTANCE AND OTHERS. WE HAVE INVESTED MORE THAN 3 351000 FOR 257 NEW BEDS IN HOSPITALS. WE HAVE A SURGICAL WAITLIST AND SMOOTHING PROGRAM TO HELP PEOPLE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE AND INVESTED THE MONEY IN ORDER TO DO THAT.

The Speaker says THE FINAL SUPPLEMENTARY.

Horwath says WELL, SPEAKER, PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING AND CAN'T WAIT INDEFINITELY FOR THIS GOVERNMENT TO PUT A PLAN TOGETHER. A SUNNYBROOK CARDIOLOGIST SAYS AND THIS I QUOTE, I HAVE LOST A LOT OF PATIENTS ON THE WAITLIST. THOSE PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES DESERVE RECOGNITION THAT THEY ARE VICTIMS OF THIS PANDEMIC TOO. PATIENTS ARE LITERALLY LOSING THEIR LIVES WHILE WAITING FOR DELAYED SURGERIES. SPEAKER, MY QUESTION TO THE PREMIER IS THIS, WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT AND A SERIOUS PLAN TO ELIMINATE THE BACKLOG, PATIENTS DESPERATE FOR SURGERY ARE GOING TO BE LEFT SUFFERING AND AT INCREASING RISK. WHEN WILL WE SEE THE PLAN AND THE FUNDING?
[SOME APPLAUSE]

The Speaker says MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says WELL, THERE IS A PLAN AND THERE IS THE FUNDING. AS I'VE JUST INDICATED TO YOU. 500 MILLION DOLLARS TO START IN ORDER TO BE AIN'T MOVE FORWARD WITH THE DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES AS WELL AS THE SURGERIES. THIS HAS BEEN ORGANIZED FOR SOME TIME. WE'VE BEEN WORKING THROUGH THIS WE WERE ABLE TO DO MANY SURGERIES AND PROCEDURES BEFORE THE THIRD WAVE HIT US AND WE ARE LOOKING FOOD THAT AS MUCH AS WE CAN NOW. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT DR. WILLIAM AND THE MEDICAL EXPERTS AS WELL AS PEOPLE IN OUR GOVERNMENT HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT THE LISTS ON A DAILY BASIS TO SEE WHEN WE CAN AMEND DIRECTIVE NUMBER 2. YOU'RE RIGHT, IT'S GREAT THAT IT'S HAPPENED, WE'LL BE ABLE TO START WITH THE AMBULATORY PROCEDURES AND DAY PROCEDURES AS SOON AS NOW IN SOME HOSPITALS AS LONG AS THEY'RE ABLE TO FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES AND THE RULES SET OUT BY ONTARIO HEALTH. THAT IS VERY GOOD NEWS AND WE KNOW THAT PEOPLE ARE ANXIOUS TO HAVE PROCEDURES DONE AND WE'RE GOING TO MOVE THROUGH THEM AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

The Speaker says THE NEXT question. The member for Brampton Centre.

The caption changes to "Sara Singh. NDP. Brampton Centre."

Singh is in her thirties, with long curly black hair. She wears a black blazer and shirt, and a stone necklace.

She says TURK SPEAKERS. MY QUESTION IS FOR THE PREMIER. THIS MORNING, THE CANADIAN CENTRE FOR POLICY ALTERNATIVES RELEASED A NEW REPORT THAT CALLS ON THIS GOVERNMENT TO COMMIT TO ENDING PRIVATE FOR-PROFIT LONG-TERM CARE IN ONTARIO. THE REPORT NOTES THAT THE MAIN FOCUS FOR PRIVATE OPERATORS IS MAKING A PROFIT. FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR SHAREHOLDERS. THEY'RE WILLING TO CUT CORNERS IF THAT MEANS BIGGER PROFITS FOR THEM. WE'VE SEEN THIS CLEARLY THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC WITH MANY MOMENTS WITH HOLDING PPE AND NOT PAYING FRONTLINE WORKERS AND PSWS A LIVEABLE WAGE. THE MAIN FOCUS ANYONE IN SENIORS' CARE SHOULD BE MAKING SURE THAT SENIORS ARE SAFE AND HEALTHY BUT THAT'S NOT HAPPENING IN ONTARIO. THAT'S WHY THE COVID-19 DEATH RATE IN FOR PROFIT HOMES WAS TWICE THE RATE OF NONPROFIT HOMES AND FIVE TIMES THE RATE OF PUBLICLY OWNED HOMES, SPEAKER. MY QUESTION THROUGH YOU TO THE PREMIER WILL THE CONSERVATIVES LET THIS REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION SIT ON THE SHELF YET AGAIN LIKE ALL THE OTHER ADVICE THEY'VE BEEN GIVEN OR WILL THEY TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND TAKE ACTION AND TAKE THE PROFIT OUT OF LONG-TERM CARE?

The Speaker says THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER.

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 black suit, white shirt and blue tie.

He says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. WE STARTED TAKING ACTION FROM DAY ONE WHEN WE WERE ELECTED, MR. SPEAKER, WE DIDN'T NEED REPORTS TO TELL US THAT WE NEEDED TO MAKE SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENTS INTO LONG-TERM CARE. THAT'S WHY WE STARTED IMMEDIATELY BACK IN 2018 TO BUILD LONG-TERM CARE BEDS. LOOK I SAID IT ON A NUMBER OF OCCASIONS, MR. SPEAKER, THE FACT THAT THE PREVIOUS LIBERAL ADMINISTRATION ONLY BUILT 600 BEDS OVER THE TIME THAT THEY WERE IN OFFICE IS UNACCEPTABLE. THERE WERE FOUR PREVIOUS LIBERAL ADMINISTRATIONS THAT DID NOTHING TO BUILD OUT LONG-TERM CARE, DID NOTHING REFURBISH OLDER HOMES, DID NOTHING FOR STAFFING STRATEGY. WE'RE PUTTING 2,000 NEW NURSES ON STREAM. 27,000 NEW PSWS. 30,000 ADDITIONAL SPACES. THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE STEP ON OUR WAY TO ENSURING THAT EVERY RESIDENT OF LONG-TERM CARE GETS FOUR HOURS OF CARE. NORTH AMERICAN LEADING LEVEL OF CARE. WE'RE WELL ON OUR WAY TO THE BEST SYSTEM IN NORTH AMERICA AND I HOPE THAT THE MEMBERS OPPOSITE WILL SUPPORT IT.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION.

Singh says SPEAKER, IT'S NOT JUST NEW DEMOCRATS AND EVERYDAY ONTARIANS CALLING FOR AN END TO FOR-PROFIT BIG CORPORATE LONG-TERM CARE. A CLEAR LEGACY OF THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT AND CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT AS WELL. IT'S SENATORS, LAWYERS, PUBLIC HEALTH AND POLICY EXPERTS, ECONOMISTS JUST TO NAME A FEW. THEY ALL AGREE THAT PHASING OUT FOR-PROFIT LONG-TERM CARE ISN'T JUST THE RIGHT THING TO DO, IT'S ESSENTIAL TO THE WELLBEING OF OUR SENIORS AND THE HEALTH OF OUR LONG-TERM CARE SYSTEM HERE IN ONTARIO. AGAIN ARE FOR THE PREMIER, WILL YOU TAKE THE ADVICE OF THE EXPERTS AND LISTEN TO THEM AND THE DATA AND COMMIT TO TAKING THE PROFIT OUT OF LONG-TERM CARE.

The Speaker says GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER.

Calandra says CERTAINLY, MR. SPEAKER, I'M GOT GOING TO TAKE THE ADVICE OF THE MEMBERS OPPOSITE WHO ARE SUGGEST THAT GO WE REMOVE THOUSANDS OF BEDS FROM THE SYSTEM. THAT'S JUST NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. I'M NOT CERTAIN WHAT THE MEMBERS DON'T UNDERSTAND. WE'RE NOT GOING TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF LONG-TERM CARE AVAILABLE TO THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO LIKE THE MEMBER IS SUGGESTING, WE'RE GOING TO INCREASE OVER 30,000 SPACES BECAUSE WE KNOW WE NEED TO. WE'RE NOT GOING TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF CARE IN LONG-TERM CARE HOMES WE'RE INCREASING IT. FOUR HOURS OF CARE AND HIRING 27,000 ADDITIONAL PSWS. THAT'S WHY WE'RE BRINGING ON 2,000 ADDITIONAL NURSES. CLEARLY DID THE MEMBER OPPOSITE, NO, I'M NOT GOING TO LISTEN TO YOU. I'M NOT GOING TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF LONG-TERM CARE BEDS AND I'M NOT GOING TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF NURSES, PSWS AND CARE, I'M DOING JUST THE OPPOSITE AS ALL MEMBERS ON THIS SIDE OF THE HOUSE ARE COMMITTED TOO DOING. IT'S BEEN TOO LONG AND IGNORED...

The Speaker says THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION WILL COME TO ORDER. THE NEXT question. The member for Flamborough-Glanbrook.

The caption changes to "Donna Skelly. PC. Flamborough-Glanbrook."

Skelly is in her forties, with long straight chestnut hair. She wears a white blazer and a black shirt.

She says THANK YOU, GOOD MORNING. A PRIORITY FOR OUR PREMIER AND FOR YOUR OUR HEALTH MINISTER AND FOR THIS GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN GETTING NEEDLES INTO ARMS. AS OF TODAY AS THE MINISTER JUST MENTIONED OVER 7.5 MILLION ONTARIO ADULTS HAVE RECEIVED THEIR FIRST DOSE. ENSURING THAT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE CAN GET THEIR VACCINES, IT'S SIMPLY NO SMALL FEAT. THIS GOVERNMENT HAS WORKED DILIGENTLY TO CREATE A ROBUST ONLINE PLATFORM AND CALL CENTRE TO MANAGE THE DEMAND FOR VACCINES. MR. SPEAKER, ACCOUNT MINISTER OF GOVERNMENT AND CONSUMER SERVICES PROVIDE SOME INSIGHT INTO THE WORK THAT HAS GONE ON BEHIND THE SCENES TO ENABLE MORE THAN 7.5 MILLION ONTARIANS RECEIVE A VACCINE?

The Speaker says TO REPLY, THE MINISTER OF GOVERNMENT AND CONSUMER SERVICES.

The caption changes to "Honourable Lisa M. Thompson. PC. Minister of Government and Consumer Services."

Thompson is in her forties, with chin-length wavy blond hair. She wears a pale blue blazer and a white shirt.

She says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. I THANK THE HARD WORKING MEMBER FROM FLAMBOROUGH-GLANBROOK FOR THAT IMPORTANT QUESTION. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE IN THE HOUSE THAT I REFER TO THE MINISTRY OF GOVERNMENT AND CONSUMER SERVICES AS THE MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT. THEY'VE NOT FAILED US WHEN IT COMES TO MAKING APPOINTMENTS FOR VACCINE BOOKINGS. WHEN YOU COUPLE OUR CALL CENTRES WITH THE ONLINE BOOKING STOOD UP BY THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH OF WE HAVE AN AMAZING 1-2 PUNCH WHEN IT COMES TO ACCESSING VACCINE. WHEN THE 18 AND OLDER COHORTS IN HOT SPOTS WERE ALLOWED TO START MAKING THEIR APPOINTMENTS WE HAD A RECORD BREAKING DAY. AT THAT TIME WE ACCOMMODATED THROUGH THE ONLINE PORTAL AND OUR CALL CENTRE 420,000 APPOINTMENTS.

The Speaker says RESPONSE.

Thompson says THE VERY NEXT DAY WE ACCOMMODATED ALMOST 300,000 APPOINTMENTS AGAIN. SO WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE WHEN YOU PULL OUR CALL CENTRES TOGETHER WITH ONLINE BOOKING WE HAVE ONE OF THE BEST SYSTEMS IN NORTH AMERICA.

The Speaker says THE SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION.

Skelly says THANK YOU, MINISTER. I KNOW ONTARIANS ARE REASSURED TO HEAR THAT THE CALL CONTRIBUTE IS HERE TO HELP ALL THOSE ELIGIBLE AND WHO WANT A VACCINE TO GET ONE. OUR CALL CENTRE OFFERS SUPPORT IN OVER 300 LANGUAGES. I'M NOT SURE IF YOU KNOW THIS, BUT ONTARIO IS AMONG THE FIRST IF NOT THE FIRST JURISDICTION TO OFFER LIVE TRANSLATION SERVICES FOR VACCINES... YES, THAT'S CORRECT. YES. WITH A TREMENDOUS INTEREST IN VOLUME OUR CALL CENTRES HAVE EXPERIENCED KEY DAYS WHEN WAIT TIMES CANNOT BE AVOIDED. ACCOUNT MINISTER OF GOVERNMENT AND CONSUMER SERVICES SHED LIGHT ON THE PATTERNS SHE IS SEEING AND WHAT ONTARIANS CAN EXPECT WHEN THEY CALL FOR SUPPORT.

The Speaker says MINISTER OF CONSUMER SERVICES.

Thompson says THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I'M PROUD TO SHARE WHEN YOU TAKE INTO CULTIVATOR THE LIVE TRANSLATION INTO 300 LANGUAGES AND THE HUNDREDS OF AGENTS AVAILABLE TO BOOK APPOINTMENTS THROUGH OR CALL CENTRE AND WHEN YOU MARRY THAT WITH OUR EFFECTIVE ONLINE PORTAL WE ARE ONE OF THE BEST IN NORTH AMERICA WHEN IT COMES BOOKING VACCINES. I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT WHILE SOMETIMES THERE IS A WAIT TIME THAT'S GOOD NEWS BECAUSE IT SHOWS THAT THERE'S HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE THAT WANT TO HELP ONTARIO MOVE FORWARD BY GETTING THEIR VACCINES. SPEAKER, I'M PLEASED TO SHARE THAT THE AVERAGE TIME IN BOOKING AN APPOINTMENT IS PLEASANT 7 MINUTES. EARLIER THIS WEEK MY MOM SENT ME A NOTE ON MONDAY AND GOT NOTIFICATION FROM THE HURON-PERTH HEALTH UNIT THAT SHE COULD BOOK A SECOND APPOINTMENT.

The Speaker says RESPONSE.

Thompson says I HEARD FROM OTHER INDIVIDUALS THAT HAD 2299 AHEAD OF THEM ON TUESDAY MORNING. HE BOOKED FOR SUNDAY. WE HAVE ONE OF THE BEST APPOINTMENT BOOKING SYSTEMS IN NORTH AMERICA...

The Speaker says THANK YOU VERY MUCH. MEMBER FOR DAVENPORT.

The caption changes to "Marit Stiles. NDP. Davenport."

Stiles is in her forties, with feathered, shoulder-length blond hair. She wears a brown blazer and a black dress.

She says THANK YOU, THIS QUESTION IS FOR THE SPEAKER. STUDENTS AND FAMILIES ARE WORN DOWN AFTER FIVE MORE WEEKS OF REMOTE LEARNING, THEY'RE MISSING FRIENDS AND TEACHERS AND THEY'RE WATCHING AS THE END OF THE YEAR APPROACHES AND THERE'S A POSSIBILITY THAT THEY'LL HAVE ANOTHER ZOOM CHAT REPLACE THEIR GRADUATION THIS. GOVERNMENT REFUSED TO DO WHAT WAS NECESSARY TO KEEP SCHOOLS SAFELY OPEN BECAUSE THEY JUST DIDN'T WANT TO SPEND THE MONEY, THEY REFUSED TO LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS WHEN THEY CLOSED THE PLAYGROUNDS AND THE SOCCER FIELDS. WE DON'T KNOW AT THIS MOMENT HOW MANY EDUCATION WORKERS ARE VACCINATED WHICH IS A KEY PART OF RE-OPENING SCHOOLS. IS THE PREMIER COMING FORWARD WITH ANY KIND OF PLAN TO SALVAGE THE SCHOOL YEAR OR IS THE PLAN TO KEEP KIDS IN ONLINE LEARNING PERMANENTLY.

The Speaker says THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION.

The caption changes to "Honourable Stephen Lecce. PC. Minister of Education."

Lecce is in his thirties, with short dark hair and a stubble. He wears a gray suit, white shirt, and blue floral print tie.

He says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. WE'RE GOING CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THE BEST EXPERT ADVICE OF THE CHIEF MEDICAL HEALTH OFFICER AS WE HAVE DONE THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC. I KNOW THE MEMBERS OPPOSITE DID NOT VOTE FOR HIS CONTINUATION TO GIVE CONFIDENCE TO OUR LEAD MEDICAL OFFICER. WE BELIEVE IN FOLLOWING HIS ADVICE AND THAT'S WHY WE'VE DONE SO SINCE THE BEGINNING AND WHY ONTARIO HAS ONE OF THE LOWEST CASE RATES FOR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 20 IN THE NATION BECAUSE WE INVESTED 1.6 MILLION DOLLARS TO PUT EVERY INTERVENTION POSSIBLE WITHIN OUR SCHOOLS FOR IMPROVING AIR VENTILATION AND TO THE SUPPLYING OF THE THREE QUALITY MASK PPE TO COHORTING STUDENTS, INCREASE SCREENING AND ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING, THE ONLY PROBLEM THAT HAS THAT CAPACITY WITHIN ALL REGIONS OF THE PROVINCE. WE'VE TOP NO FOLLOWING THE ADVICE AND WE'LL CONTINUE. WE KNOW HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO KEEP SCHOOLS OPEN. WHILE WE HAVE DONE SO THROUGHOUT THE YEAR OUR AIM IS TO FOLLOW...

The Speaker says RESPONSE.

Lecce says BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT TO RISK THE RECOVERY ON THE HORIZON.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION.

Stiles says SPEAKER, WHAT'S CLEAR I THINK FROM A RESPONSE LIKE THAT IS THAT THIS GOVERNMENT IS WIPING ITS HANDS OF THE SCHOOL YEAR AND OF OUR STUDENTS ACROSS THIS PROVINCE. THIS PREMIER ISN'T SERIOUS ABOUT SAFELY RE-OPENING SCHOOLS BECAUSE HE'S TOO FOCUSSED ON SAVING MONEY BY KEEPING OUR KIDS PERMANENTLY ONLINE. THAT IS THEIR PLAN. THEY'VE MADE IT CLEAR. TEACHERS, EDUCATION WORKERS, SCHOOL BOARDS, PEDIATRICIANS, PARENTS, MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATES ARE ALL SAYING THE SAME THING, ONLINE LEARNING IS HANDLERRING OUR KIDS... HARMING OUR KIDS. WE SHOULD BE INVESTING NOW IN RE-OPENING OUR SCHOOLS. THE PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD ASSOCIATION SAYS THE GOVERNMENT'S PLAN AND I WANT TO QUOTE THIS, MR. SPEAKER, MAY BE PROMOTING THE ONLINE LEARNING OPTIONS TO THE DETRIMENT OF WELLBEING AND INTEGRITY OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM. WHY WITH THE MOUNTING EVIDENCE AND GROWING BACKLASH WHY WOULD THE GOVERNMENT DROP THIS TERRIBLE PLAN.

The Speaker says MINISTER OF EDUCATION.

Lecce says IT IS IRONIC, COMING FROM THE MEMBERS OPPOSITE WHO STOOD WITH THE UNIONS TO KEEP THE SCHOOLS CLOSED. THE MEMBER OPPOSITE SAID THAT THE SCHOOLS SHOULD REMAIN CLOSED SO LONG AS THE ORDER WAS IN PLACE. THEY WOULD HAVE KEPT SCHOOLS CLOSED...

The Speaker says ORDER!

Lecce says AND THE LEARNING QUALITY THAT THE KIDS SERVE DESERVE THE PREMIER PROVIDED MORE THAN ANY PROVINCE AND MORE THAN NEW DEMOCRATS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA. MORE FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH THAN ANY PROVINCE. 400 INCREASE AND THE PORT MANNER LIBERALS WERE IN POWER. WE FOLLOWED THE ADVICE AND THE STRICTER SCREENING OF KIDS AND WE HAVE ENSURED BUSING AND TRANSPORTATION HAS BEEN IMPROVED. AND ENSURED THAT CLEANING IS ENHANCED IN THE SCHOOLS. WE DID ALL OF THAT LEADING US TO THE LOWEST RATES OF CASES...

The Speaker says LET THE MINISTER COMPLETE HIS ANSWER.

Lecce says WE HAVE PUT DOLLARS IN PLACE THAT LED US TO ONE OF THE LOWEST CASE RATES OF YOUTH UNDER 20 IN CANADA BECAUSE WE FOLLOWED THE ADVICE. WE WANT TO KEEP SCHOOLS OPEN AND WE WANT KIDS IN SCHOOL AND IT MUST BE SAFE. WE'RE FOLLOWING THE BEST ADVICE OF THE CHIEF MEDICAL HEALTH OFFICER AS WE HAVE DONE THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC AND IN THE INTEREST OF STUDENTS...

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 gray suit, white shirt, and striped green tie.

He says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS FOR THE PREMIER. ON NOVEMBER 3 LAST YEAR THE PREMIER RELEASED THE COLOUR-CODED RE-OPENING PLAN THAT WAS IMMEDIATELY REJECTED BY SCIENTISTS AND PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS. ON FEBRUARY 11TH THE PREMIER WAS ADVISED THAT IF HE REOPENED TOO EARLY WE WOULD HAVE A DISASTER. WELL THE PREMIER REOPENED TOO EARLY AND WE HAD A CATASTROPHIC THIRD WAVE. ON APRIL 16 THE PREMIER BROUGHT IN CARDING IN CLOSED PLAYGROUNDS. SCIENTIST IMMEDIATELY SAID THIS IS NOT WHAT WE ARE RECOMMENDING. BUT, SPEAKER, WILL THE PREMIER COMMIT TODAY TO A RE-OPENING PLAN, SUPPORTED BY THE SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE WAS CLEAR AND TRANSPARENT, KEY INDICATORS BUT WHEN IT IS SAFE TO RE-OPEN SCHOOLS, COMMUNITIES AND BUSINESSES FOR OUTDOOR AND INDOOR SERVICE.

The Speaker says MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says FIRST I'LL BE CLEAR. IT'S THE ARRIVAL OF THE MORE TRANSMISSIBLE VARIANTS THAT LED TO THE THIRD WAVE. IT'S A HIGHER RATE AND...

The Speaker says ORDER!

Elliott says BECAUSE THAT'S HOW THE VARIANTS CAME IN. HOWEVER, SINCE WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED THE STAY-AT-HOME ORDER WE'RE LOOKING AT HOW WE MAY SAFELY EXIT WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT BECAUSE YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT WE NEED TO DO THIS SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY AND THERE NEEDS TO BE A PLAN WHICH IS BEING DEVELOPED AND WHICH IS BASED ON THE SCIENTIFIC ADVICE AND THE MEDICAL ADVICE THAT WE RECEIVED FROM THE CHIEF MEDICAL HEALTH OFFICER AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH TABLE AS WELL AS OTHER MEDICAL EXPERTS. IT IS SAFE ON LOOKING AT OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES, FIRST INDOOR ACTIVITY LATER BUT THERE WILL MORE INFORMATION THAT WILL BE COMING FORWARD WITH RESPECT TO THIS IMMINENTLY.

Schreiner says SPEAKER, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO THE MINISTER AND I HAVE THE UTMOST RESPECT TO THIS MINISTER. THE GOVERNMENT HAS NOT FOLLOWED THE ADVICE OF THE CYPRUS ADVISORY TABLE TIME AND TIME AGAIN. P SPEAKER, THIS IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC CONFIDENCE AND TRUST. THE ONLY WAY WE ARE GOING TO COMBAT COVID AND GET THIS PANDEMIC BEHIND US IS...

The Speaker says THE MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT COME TO ORDER!

Schreiner says IF THE PUBLIC IS ONSIDE SO I AM PLEADING WITH THE GOVERNMENT TODAY SPEAKER, FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF THE SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE. HAVE CLEAR INDICATORS, BE TRANSPARENT WITH THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO, WHAT THE SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE IS TELLING THEM. AND GIVE BUSINESSES TIME TO PLAN. NO MORE FLIP-FLOPPING. WILL THE GOVERNMENT DO THAT TODAY, SPEAKER?

The Speaker says QUESTION. THE MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says THANK YOU, I APPRECIATE THE QUESTION FROM THE MEMBER AND I I CAN CERTAINLY ADVISE THE MEMBER OPPOSITE THAT WE ARE RELYING ON THE MEDICAL ADVICE WE WERE RECEIVING FROM THE SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE. THAT'S ONE GROUP. THE PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES TABLE, THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER'S ADVICE AND OTHER MEDICAL EXPERTS. THEY ARE CERTAINLY PROVIDING US WITH GUIDANCE ON WHEN AND HOW THINGS CAN BE OPEN WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT BECAUSE THERE ARE MANY FACTORS OF COURSE, THE NEED TO BE CONSIDERED. THE RATES OF VACCINATION WHICH ARE GOING VERY WELL WITH OVER 7.5 MILLION VACCINES ALREADY ADMINISTERED BUT IT'S ALSO DEALING WITH THE NUMBERS OF NEW HOSPITALIZATIONS AND THE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE IN INTENSIVE CARE UNITS AND THE R RATE AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM CAPACITY. THERE ARE A VARIETY OF FACTORS THAT MUST BE CONSIDERED BUT I CAN ASSURE THE MEMBERS, MR. SPEAKER, THAT WE ARE LISTENING TO THE EXPERTS AND FOLLOWING THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS THAT THERE WILL BE A PLAN THAT WILL BE RELEASED IMMINENTLY.

The Speaker says THE NEXT question. The member for Peterborough-Kawartha.

The caption changes to "Dave Smith. PC. Peterborough-Kawartha."

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

He says THANK YOU, MR. SPE. MY QUESTION FOR THE MINISTER OF FINANCE. WE HEAD INTO THE SECOND SUMMER OF THE PANDEMIC ALL MEMBERS OF THE CHAMBER HAVE SEEN AND HEARD HOW HARD THE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 HAS BEEN ON ONTARIO SMALL BUSINESSES. WE KNOW HOW THE RECOVERY OF THESE SMALL BUSINESSES IS CRITICAL TO THE RECOVERY OF COMMUNITIES AS WE LAY THE GROUND WORK TO REBUILD ONTARIO BETTER IN THE WAKE OF THIS PANDEMIC. THAT'S WHY, MR. SPEAKER, I WAS HAPPY TO HEAR FROM A NUMBER OF SMALL BUSINESSES IN MY COMMUNITY WHO WERE IN DIRE NEED OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT THAT THEY RECEIVED THE SECOND INSTALLMENT OF THE ONTARIO SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT GRANT. COULD THE MINISTER TELL US MORE ABOUT HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS SUPPORTING ONTARIO SMALL BUSINESSES AT THIS TIME AND ELABORATE ON THE NEW SUPPORT HAVE BEEN MADE AVAILABLE TO SMALL BUSINESS.

The Speaker says THE MEMBER FOR WILLOWDALE.

The caption changes to "Stan Cho. PC. Willowdale."

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

He says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. THANK YOU THE MEMBER. I KNOW HE CARES ABOUT SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19. OUR GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN WORKING WITH THOSE BUSINESS IN THE LAST 14 MONTHS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC PROVIDING OVER 23 BILLION DOLLARS TO PROTECT OUR JOBS AND OUR ECONOMY. IN OUR MOST RECENT BUDGET 2021 OUR BUDGET SET ASIDE 100 MILLION DOLLARS TO ONTARIO TOURISM AND TRAVEL SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT GRANT TO HELP THE TOURISM INDUSTRY RECLAIM ITS PLACE AS AN ECONOMIC POWER HOUSE JOB CREATOR IN OUR PROVINCE. APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN FOR THE ONTARIO TOURISM AND TRAVEL SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT GRANT TO PROVIDE ONE-TIME PAYMENTS OF 10 TO 20,000 dollars TO ELIGIBLE SMALL BUSINESSES IN THE TOURISM AND TRAVEL SECTOR. EACH SMALL BUSINESS OWNER CAN USE THAT MONEY TO SUPPORT WHATEVER THEY FEEL IS BEST. PAYING THE WAGES OR KEEPING THE DOORS OPEN. AGAIN BUSINESS OWNERS UNDERSTAND THEIR NEEDS THE BEST. I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO VISIT ONTARIO.CA/COVIDSUPPORT. PLEASE REPLY, ALL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO HELP BUSINESSES APPLY AND THAT DEADLINE WILL BE OPEN UNTIL JUN.

The Speaker says THE SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION.

Smith says THANK YOU, SPEAKER, THANK YOU TO THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT FOR THAT ANSWER. IT'S GREAT NEWS THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES IN SO MANY WAYS. THE MINISTRY KNOWS THAT THE HARDEST HIT SMALL BUSINESSES IN THIS PANDEMIC ARE IN ONTARIO'S VITAL TOURISM SEARCH AND RESCUE. SPECIFICALLY IN MY RIDING WE HAVE HAD 33 YEARS OF SUMMER MUSIC FEST AND WE'RE IN JEOPARDY OF NOT GOING ON. THE REVENUE THAT THAT GOES FOR OUR COMMUNITY... AGAIN RATES FOR OUR COMMUNITY IS FANTASTIC. CAN THE MINISTER TELL US HOW THE ONTARIO TOURISM AND TRAVEL SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT GRANT FITS INTO THE GOVERNMENT'S PLAN TO REBUILD A HEALTHY ECONOMY.

Cho says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. I WOULD LIKE TO CORRECT MY RECORD THE GRANT APPLICATION PROGRAM IS OPEN UNTIL JUNE 25, 2021. OUR GOVERNMENT WILL DO OUR BEST TO SUPPORT THIS SEARCH AND RESCUE. WE'VE BEEN... SECTOR. WE'VE BEEN DOING THAT FROM THE BEGINNING. THE MINISTER HOSTED 15 TOWN HALLS SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC. ADVOCATED AT THE JOBS RECOVERY COMMITTEE, CREATED THE TOURISM TASK FORCE AND ON THURSDAY, MAY 13 THE MINISTER ANNOUNCED THE ONTARIO TOURISM AND TRAVEL SMALL BUSINESS GRANT THE PROGRAM AND HOSTED THREE BRIEFINGS THROUGHOUT THE DAY. ONE FOR THESE STAKEHOLDERS IN THE TOURISM AND TRAVEL INDUSTRY WITH CLOSE TO 1,000 STAKEHOLDERS PROVIDED. HUNDREDS SHOWED UP. ONE FOR THE GOVERNMENT AND ONE FOR THE OPPOSITION. TO THE TWO MEMBERS WHO ACTUALLY SHOWED UP FOR THAT TOWN HALL I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR PUTTING POLITICS BELOW...

The Speaker says ORDER! RESPONSE.

Cho says ON A PERSONAL NOTE I THANK YOU AND YOU KNOW I HAVE DEEP RESPECT FOR NEW THIS CHAMBER. THANK YOU FOR SMALL BUSINESSES, SPEAKER...

The Speaker says NEXT question. The member for Toronto Centre.

The caption changes to "Suze Morrison. NDP. Toronto Centre."

Morrison is in her late thirties, with straight brown hair in a bob. She wears a white shirt and a silver pendant necklace.

She says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. THE HARD WORKING SUPPORT WORKERS IN THE PROVINCE ARE EXPLOITED, UNDERPAID AND OVERWORKED. ARE IMMIGRANT AND RACIALIZED WOMEN. FOR OVER YEARS THEY'VE WORKED ON THE FRONTLINE OF THE PANDEMIC PUTTING LIVES AT RISK TO CARE FOR THE SENIORS OF THE PROVINCE. I RECENTLY SPOKE WITH CONNIE, A PSW IN TORONTO CENTRE. SHE WORKED THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC CARING FOR SENIORS IN THEIR HOMES. HER HOURS FLUCTUATE SIGNIFICANTLY AND SHE DOESN'T HAVE BENEFITS. AS SHE RECEIVES THE PAY IT'S ONLY FOR THE TIME SHE'S SCHEDULED TO CARE FOR THE RESIDENTS AS LITTLE AS THREE HOURS A DAY. WAGE ENHANCEMENTS FOR PSWS ARE SET TO EXPIRE AT THE END OF JUNE. PSWS ARE DEMANDING A PERMANENT PAY RAISE. WILL THE GOVERNMENT LISTEN AND GIVE PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKERS THE PAY INCREASE AND FULL-TIME JOBS THAT THEY DESERVE?

The Speaker says TO REPLY THE MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. THANK YOU FOR THE QUESTION. WE CERTAINLY ALSO VALUE THE INCREDIBLE WORK THAT PERSONAL SPORE WORKERS HAVE DONE THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC. THEY'VE BEEN THERE IN HOSPITAL AND HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE. WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE ISSUES RELATED TO THE WAGES. THAT'S WHY WE PROVIDED THE TEMPORARY SUPPORT RUNNING TO THE END OF JUNE BUT DURING THAT TIME WE'RE ALSO LOOKING AT SOME OF THE ISSUES... OTHER ISSUES, THE PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKERS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT, NOT HAVING A FULL-TIME JOB IN SOME SITUATIONS, NOT HAVING BENEFITS AND NOT BEING PAID FOR THE ADDITIONAL WORK THEY DO, THE TRAVELLING TIME AND ALL THE OTHER ISSUES THAT WE'RE CONCERNED ABOUT. WE WANT THE PSWS IN THE SYSTEM. MANY LEAVE AFTER THEIR FIRST YEAR BECAUSE IT'S NOT THE JOB THEY EXPECTED IT TO BE. SO THEY WANT TO WORK THAT INTO TRAINING AND EDUCATION AS WELL. SO IN SHORT THERE ARE MANY ISSUES THAT NEED TO BE DEALT WITH TO KEEP OUR PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKERS AND RETAIN THEM IN OUR SYSTEM. AND WE WERE WORKING ON THAT IN ADDITION TO THE PAY REQUIREMENTS.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTAL QUESTION.

Morrison says THANK YOU. RESPECTFULLY, BACK TO THE MINISTER IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THE PSWS IN OUR SYSTEM THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE, YOU NEED TO PAY THEM MORE AND GIVE THEM PERMANENT FULL-TIME WORK. SPEAKER, PSWS ARE ESSENTIAL AND THEY DESERVE RESPECT. CONNIE, THE PSWS IN MY RIDING TOLD ME THAT THE SENIORS SHE VISITS DEPEND ON HER. SHE'S PAID FOR ONE HOUR EACH VISIT TO PROVIDE THE BASIC CARE, HELPING THEM GO TO THE WASHROOM AND BATHING THEM, PREPARING FOOD. IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO RUSH THIS KIND OF CARE IN AN HOUR. ULTIMATELY SHE ENDS UP VOLUNTEERING HER TIME BECAUSE SHE CAN'T STAND TO LEAVE THESE SENIORS WITHOUT THE HELP THAT THEY NEED. OUR SENIORS DESERVE THE HIGHEST QUALITY CARE AND THE WORKERS WHO CARE FOR THEM DESERVE A LIVEABLE WAGE AND FULL-TIME CAREERS. WHEN IS THIS GOVERNMENT GOING TO STEP UP AND DOT RIGHTS THING AND PROPERLY PAY PSWS IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO.

The Speaker says MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says THE QUESTION THAT THE MEMBER ASKED YOU, SHE INDICATED, SPEAKER, THROUGH YOU TO THE MEMBER, THAT THERE ARE OTHER ISSUES IN ADDITION TO THE PAY ISSUES. OF THE TIMING ISSUE. THE TRAVELLING ISSUE. THERE'S THE TRYING TO PUT PEOPLE TOGETHER SO THERE'S NOT HUGE TRAVEL TIME INVOLVED IN IT AND MAKING SURE THAT THE PEOPLE ARE PAID FOR THE WORK THAT THEY DO AND THEY DON'T HAVE TO VOLUNTEER BUT WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE OTHER ISSUES. WE ARE LOOKING AT THE BILL JUST PUT FORWARD IN THE LEGISLATURE TO REGULATE PERSONAL HEALTH WORKERS TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY HAVE STANDARDS THAT THEY NEED TO CONFORM TO. THEY WANT THAT. WE ARE DOING THAT. WE ALSO RECOGNIZE THAT'S IMPORTANT FOR THEM. THIS IS ALSO IMPORTANT FOR THE VULNERABLE PEOPLE THAT THE PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKERS CARE FORM. CHILDREN, SENIORS, PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, WE'RE LAG AT ALL OF THESE ISSUES TO MAKE SURE THAT WHEN SOMEONE GOES THROUGH AND IS TRAINED AS A PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKER THAT THEY WANT TO STAY AND CONTINUE TO DO THIS WORK. THEY ARE REALLY THE LYNCH PINS IN HOME CARE. I CERTAINLY WOULD AGREE WITH THE MEMBER. THEY ARE THE ONES THAT KNOW THE FAMILIES, THEY KNOW ALL THE ISSUES RELATED TO WHAT'S GOING ON. SO WE WANTED TO ENCOURAGE THEM. WE WANT THEM TO STAY...

The Speaker says THANK YOU. THE NEXT question. 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 striped black coat over a black shirt, and a choker necklace.

She says THANK YOU Speaker. MY QUESTION IS FOR THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION. LAST NIGHT WE HAD AN IMPORTANT CONVERSATION IN THIS HOUSE IN MAKING THE EDUCATION SYSTEM PORE CREDIBLE THROUGH BILL 287. I THANK MY COLLEAGUES IN THE OPPOSITION WHO SHARE THE IMPORTANCE IN MOVING PERSONAL STORIES AND ALSO FOR THEIR CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK. IT WAS EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTING IS THAT THE GOVERNMENT... THAT THE GOVERNMENT CAME TO THE DEBATE WITH THEIR MINDS MADE UP BELIEVING THIS THEY ARE ALREADY DOING ENOUGH TO FIGHT RACISM IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM. IT IS UNACCEPTABLE TO REFER TO ANY ACTION ON SYSTEMIC DISCRIMINATION AS COUNTER PRODUCTIVE. THERE CAN NEVER BE ENOUGH DONE AS LONG AS SYSTEMIC BARRIERS EXIST. TO THE MINISTER WHEN WILL THE GOVERNMENT WORK WITH ALL MEMBERS OF THIS HOUSE TO IMPLEMENT BILL 287 WHEN IT HAS POTENTIAL TO IMPROVE THE EDUCATION SYSTEM EVEN FURTHER?

The Speaker says THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION.

Lecce says MR. SPEAKER, WE ARE VERY MUCH COMMITTED TO BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS THAT IMPEDE THE SUCCESS OF STUDENTS, IN PARTICULAR RACIALIZED, INDIGENOUS AND UNDER-REPRESENTED YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. THE FORMER LIBERAL GOVERNMENT HAD 15 YEARS TO ADVANCE EQUITY IN EDUCATION AND THEY DO NOT. TODAY THEY BRING FORTH A PRIVATE MEMBERS BILL WHEREAS THIS GOVERNMENT SINCE DAY ONE FOUGHT FOR TRANSFORMATION. WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT UNLIKE THE FORMER LIBERALS WHO ARE DESTREAMING THE GRADE 9 MATH CURRICULUM AND FOLLOWING THE BEST ADVICE BY HE MEANTING THE THINGS THAT ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY DISCRIMINATING AGAINST THE CHILDREN. WE HAVE ALL SCHOOL BOARDS ADMINISTRATORS HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS TRAINING. WE'RE THE GOVERNMENT THAT ENSURE THAT THE STUDENTS SEE THEMSELVES REFLECTED THAT THEIR EDUCATORS BY ABOLISHING THE REGULATION THAT...

The Speaker says RESPONSE.

Lecce says BASED ON EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND MERIT IN ONTARIO.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTAL question. The member for Orléans.

The caption changes to "Stephen Blais. Liberal. Orléans."

Blais is in his early forties, with short brown hair. He wears glasses, a gray suit, pink shirt, and gray plaid tie.

He says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. MR. SPEAKER, GROWING UP IN ORLÉANS MY COMMUNITY WAS NOT THE MOST DIVERSE PLACE. IN A HIGH SCHOOL OF 1600 STUDENTS I CAN COUNT ON TWO HANDS THE FAMILIES OF CHILDREN WHO COME FROM NONWHITE BACKGROUNDS. BUT WE DIDN'T TALK ABOUT. IT WASN'T SOMETHING THAT WAS DISCUSSED IN SCHOOL, WE DIDN'T TALK ABOUT IT AS FRIENDS AND AS A RESULT THAT LACK OF UNDERSTANDING, THAT LACK OF VOW HAVE BEEN LARRY TO TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES REMAINS WITH ME TO THIS DAY, MR. SPEAKER, WE NEED TO ENSURE THAT OUR CHILDREN ARE EXPOSED TO MORE UNDERSTANDING OF WHERE WE ARE AS A SOCIETY TODAY AND HOW WE GOT HERE. SOMETIMES UNDERSTANDING THAT HISTORY IS GOING TO BE DIFFICULT, IT'S GOING TO BE HARD AND UNCOMFORTABLE BUT IT IS IMPORTANT TO DO. IF WE DON'T DO IT WE'RE LEADING OUR CHILDREN TO A GREAT DISSERVICE. MR. SPEAKER, I'LL ASK THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION AGAIN, WHY WON'T HIS GOVERNMENT SUPPORT BILL 287 AND ENSURE THAT OUR CHILDREN GET THE UNDERSTANDING, EDUCATION AND CONVERSATION THEY NEED AND DESERVE?

The Speaker says THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION.

Lecce says IF THE MEMBER OPPOSITE THOUGHTS TO THE HOW THE HOUSE IS THAT... HOUSE IS THAT WE NEED TO BETTER REFLECT DIVERSITY HOW CAN THE MEMBER OPPOSITE BEING ASSOCIATED WITH A POLITICAL PARTY THAT ALLOWED HIRING OF EDUCATORS IN ONTARIO. SINGLY ON THEIR SENIORITY, NOT BASED ON CULTURAL BACKGROUNDS...

The Speaker says ORDER.

Lecce says IN PEEL REGION I HAD TO CALL FOR THE FIRST TIME IT CANADIAN HISTORY THE GOVERNMENT... DID NOT HAPPEN UNDER YOUR WATCH RESPECTFULLY AND YOU HAD A CHANCE TO TAKE ACTION IN PEEL AND YOU FAILED THEM. WE ACTED BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE TO FIGHT DISCRIMINATION IN ALL OF ITS FORMS. IF WE BELIEVE IN THE PRINCIPLE OF MAKING SURE THAT THE PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE OUR KIDS AND REFLECT THE COMMUNITIES THAT OUR SCHOOLS ARE IN THEN WE SHOULD BE SUPPORTING EFFORTS LIKE THE ELIMINATION OF REGULATION 274 THAT ENSURES THE BEST CANDIDATE, DIVERSE CANDIDATES ARE THE ONES WHO LEAD INSTRUCTION IN OUR CLASSROOMS.

The Speaker says NEXT QUESTION. QUESTION... THE MEMBER FOR NORTHUMBERLAND-PETERBOROUGH SOUTH.

The caption changes to "David Piccini. PC. Northumberland-Peterborough South."

Piccini is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short blond hair. He wears a blue suit, white shirt, and patterned blue tie.

He says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. AND MY...

The Speaker says THE LEADER THE OPPOSITION WILL COME TO ORDER. MEMBER FOR THE LIBERAL PARTY.

Piccini says I APOLOGIZE, IT WAS AN URGENT E-MAIL FROM A CONSTITUENTS I APOLOGIZE IF I OFFENDED THE LEADER OPPOSITE. SPEAKER, WE KNOW THAT DURING THESE DIFFICULT TIMES A PERMEABLE BORDER IS IN ORDER WHEN IT COMES TO THE SPREAD OF THE COVID-19 VARIANTS. THE VARIANTS OF CONCERN ARE REAL AND THEY'VE ENTERED ONTARIO. SPEAKER, THIS GOVERNMENT MADE ADDITIONAL INVESTMENTS TO CONTACT TRACING, ADDITIONAL INVESTMENTS TO THE HOSPITALS AND IPAC MEASURES AND OUR SCHOOLS. WE CONTINUE THIS VERY REAL FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19 TO PUT IT BEYOND US AND GET BACK OUR LIVES. OUR COUSINS NATIONS AROUND THE WORLD IN PART OF THEIR COVID-19 RESPONSE HAVE IMPLEMENTED STRICT BORDER MEASURES. I RECENTLY LEARNED THAT THE PRIME MINISTER OF THE UK YOU CAN HAS COME UNDER... UNITED KINGDOM HAS COME UNDER FIRE FOR NOT RESTRICTING TRAVEL TO THE UNITED KINGDOM FROM INTERNATIONAL HOT SPOTS SOONER. ACCOUNT SOLICITOR GENERAL UPDATE THE HOUSE ON LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE UK EXPERIENCE AND WHAT WOULD BE RELEVANT?

The Speaker says THE SOLICITOR GENERAL.

The caption changes to "Honourable Sylvia Jones. PC. Solicitor General."

Jones is in her sixties, with straight blond hair in a short bob. She wears a white blazer over a blue shirt.

She says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER FOR NORTHUMBERLAND-PETERBOROUGH SOUTH. HE'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. DANGEROUS COVID VARIANTS CAME TO ONTARIO FROM OUTSIDE OF THE BOTHERED OF THE B.1.1.7 IDENTIFIED IN THE UK. THE B.1.351 FROM SOUTH AFRICA AND THE VARIANT FROM BRAZIL ILL AND THE VARIANT FROM INDIA. THEY'RE ACTIVE AND MORE WILL APPEAR IN THE FUTURE IF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO ACT QUICKLY. WE DON'T WANT DANGEROUS VARIANTS TO RUN RAMPANT IN ONTARIO AND CREATE A FOURTH WAVE. THAT IS WHY WE WANT TO ENSURE THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES THEIR JOB, LOCKS DOWN THE BORDERS AND PROTECTS OUR COMMUNITIES AND MAKES SURE THAT WE AREN'T FACING A FOURTH WAVE BECAUSE OF VARIANTS OF CONCERN.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY.

Piccini says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. MY SUPPLEMENTAL BACK TO THE MINISTER, I KNOW THAT VACCINES PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN STOPPING THE SPREAD AND AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN RETURNING OUR LIVES BACK TO NORMAL. WE CONTINUE TO SET DAILY RECORDS IN THE NUMBER OF VACCINES ADMINISTERED AND DOSES IN ARMS. GIVEN THE SUCCESS OF OUR VACCINE CAMPAIGN TO DATE NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT EFFORT GO TO WASTE DUE TO EMERGENT VARIANTS THAT SLIPPED THROUGH OUR BORDERS. ALL EVERYONE WANTS IS A SAFE AND NORMAL SUMMER, MR. SPEAKER, I THINK OF THE MANY ACTIVITIES THAT I LOOK FORWARD TO GETTING INTO IN MY RIDING OF NORTHUMBERLAND-PETERBOROUGH SOUTH. WE KNOW THAT ONTARIANS HAVE DONE THEIR PART IN HELPING TO STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 AND THEY EXPECT THEIR GOVERNMENTS TO DO SO THE SAME. THE QUESTION IS BACK TO THE SOLICITOR GENERAL, THE CONCRETE EXAMPLE OF HOW ONTARIO RANCE HAVE REDUCED MOBILITY DURING THIS PANDEMIC AND WHAT MORE CAN WE DO TO STOP THE EXPRESSED COVID-19?

The Speaker says RESPONSE.

Jones says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. THANK YOU TO THE MEMBER FOR NORTHUMBERLAND-PETERBOROUGH SOUTH. I'M GLAD THAT WE ARE ENGAGING IN THIS CONVERSATION BECAUSE PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT THEY'VE BEEN DOING IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE. FOR EXAMPLE, HIGHWAY 401 BETWEEN 400 AND PEEL STREET AN IMPORTANT ARTERY FOR SUPPLY CHAIN HAS NONETHELESS SEEN TRAFFIC INCREASE BY 25 percent WHEN IMPAIRED TO PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS. GIVEN THE SACRIFICES THAT ONTARIANS HAVE MADE OVER THE MANY MONTHS, IT'S TIME FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO MATCH THAT EFFORT WITH ACTION OF THEIR OWN. AFTER ALL WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. WE NEED TO COOPERATE AND UNFORTUNATELY THAT IS CONTINUED TO BE IGNORED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. IT IS DEEPLY DISTURBING TO SEE HOW MANY PATHWAYS...

The Speaker says RESPONSE.

Jones says WE'RE DEALING WITH HIGH ICU RACE AND HOSPITALIZATION RATES... RATES.

The Speaker says THE NEXT QUESTION FROM LONDON-FANSHAWE.

The caption changes to "Teresa J. Armstrong. NDP. London-Fanshawe."

Armstrong is in her early fifties, with shoulder-length brown hair in a bob and bangs. She wears a black blazer over a yellow shirt.

She says MY QUESTION TO THE MINISTER OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES. ON BEHALF OF MY CONSTITUENTS I PUT FORWARD A SERIES OF QUESTIONS TO THE MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES AND WE ASK SPECIFIC QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER THERE WOULD BE AN APPEALING PROCESS. WHAT THE SUCCESS MARKERS OF A PILOT PROGRAM, WHETHER CLINICIANS WILL GET THE FINAL SAY. OR WHETHER IT WOULD AB CARE COORDINATOR WHO HAS NO CLINICAL EXPERTISE. WHAT CRITERIA THE MINISTRY USED TO DETERMINE INVITATIONS TO THE PILOT OAP PROGRAM, VERY SPECIFIC QUESTIONS, SPEAKER. OF COURSE THESE FAMILIES FEEL IT WAS A SLAP IN THE FACE WHEN THE MINISTRY COPY AND PASTED THE SAME NONE ANSWER IN RESPONSE. WILL THE GOVERNMENT COMMIT TO TRANSPARENCY TO THESE FAMILIES AND ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS?

The Speaker says FOR REPLY TO THE MINISTER OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES.

The caption changes to "Honourable Todd Smith. PC. Minister of Children, Community and Social Services."

Smith is in his late forties, balding, with a gray goatee. He wears glasses, a gray suit, white shirt, and gray plaid tie.

He says THANKS VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. I'M PROUD OF THE JOB THAT OUR GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN DOING ON THE NEW ONTARIO AUTISM PROGRAM AND ALL THE WORK THAT'S BEEN PUT INTO IT BY THE VOLUNTEERS, CLINICIANS AND RESEARCHERS AND COMMUNITY ADVOCATES AND THOSE WITH LIVED EXPERIENCE OVER THE LAST YEAR. THE WORK ON THAT ONTARIO AUTISM PROGRAM IS WELL UNDERWAY AND I'M PLEASED TO SAY THAT THE FIRST 600 CHILDREN HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED IN THE NEW NEEDS BASED PROGRAM, MR. SPEAKER, AND WE'LL BE WORKING WITH THOSE CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES OVER THE NEXT MONTH OR SO BEFORE EXPANDING TO A FAR GREATER NUMBER OF CHILDREN ACROSS THE PROVINCE BUT I THINK IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO ADD THAT WHEN WE MADE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT EARLIER THIS SPRING OR BACK IN THE WINTER, MR. SPEAKER, WE TALKED ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE'VE INVESTED TWICE THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT WAS IN THE PREVIOUS PROGRAM FROM THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT 300 MILLION DOLLARS MORE. SO 600 MILLION DOLLARS WE'LL BE SPENDING THAT AND EVERY CHILD IN THE PROVINCE IS CONTINUING TO RECEIVE FUNDING FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND FAR MORE THAN THE NUMBERS FROM THE PREVIOUS LIBERAL GOVERNMENT.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY.

Armstrong says SPEAKER, I APPRECIATE THE RESPONSE BUT THAT HASN'T ANSWERED THE QUESTIONS THAT THE FAMILIES ARE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS TO. I'LL ASK AGAIN, FOR YEARS... FOR OVER TWO YEARS SHE'S KIDS HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR SERVICE. FOR OVER TWO YEARS THESE FAMILIES HAVE BEEN GIVEN NO INFORMATION, NO STABLE FUNDING OR PROGRAM, IN FACT, UNDER THIS GOVERNMENT CAPACITY HAS INCREASED. KIDS HAVE BEEN DENIED MUCH NEEDED THERAPIES AND FAMILIES HAVE BEEN FORCED TO GO FURTHER INTO DEBT TO SUPPORT THEIR KIDS. FAMILIES TELL ME THAT THE ELASTIC TRANSPARENCY AND THE BLIND DISREGARD IS UNCONSCIONABLE ELEMENT OF THEY CONFIRM WHETHER THE CLINICIANS HAVE A FINAL SAY WHETHER THERE WILL BE AN APPEALS PRONES THE CRITERIA USED TO INVITE FAMILIES INTO THE OAP PILOT PROGRAM...

The Speaker says QUESTION.

Armstrong says AND THE SUCCESS MARKERS. MINISTER, PLEASE BE CLEAR AND ANSWER THE QUESTIONS I ASKED OF THE MINISTRY.

The Speaker says RESPONSE.

Smith says THANK YOU, SPEAKER, THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS. 34,000 FAMILIES ARE RECEIVING SUPPORT THROUGH THEIR EXISTING BEHAVIOUR PLANS, CHILDHOOD BUDGETS AND INTERIM ONE-TIME FUNDING AS WE CONTINUE TO IMPLEMENT THE NEW NEEDS BASED PROGRAM. FOR THOSE FAMILIES THEY'VE BEEN ASSESSED BY A CARE COORDINATOR, MR. SPEAKER, AND CLINICIANS ARE WORKING WITH THOSE FAMILIES ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE PROCESS, MR. SPEAKER. THAT'S WHY WE STARTED WITH 600 FAMILIES IN THE ONTARIO AUTISM PROGRAM, NEEDS BASED TO ENSURE THAT WE GET THIS RIGHT BEFORE EXPANDING THE PROGRAM. MR. SPEAKER, I DON'T HAVE TO TELL ANYONE IN THE LEGISLATURE THAT MISTAKES HAVE BEEN MADE ON THIS FILE DATING BACK TO THE EARLY 2000S. WE'VE TAKEN THE TIME TO WORK WITH CLINICIANS, RESEARCHERS, EXPERTS, FAMILY MEMBERS AND THOSE WITH LIVED EXPERIENCE TO GET THIS RIGHT ONCE AND FOR ALL. WE'RE ON OUR WAY AND WE'LL HAVE THE BEST PROGRAM IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

The Speaker says NEXT question. The member for OTTAWA-Vanier.

Collard says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. MY QUESTION IS FOR THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. ESSENTIAL WORKERS IN RETAIL ARE NOW ELIGIBLE FOR VACCINES IF THEY'RE 18 OR OLDER. THAT IS SOME IMPORTANT PEOPLE ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE GROUP. MANY WORKERS IN THE RETAIL SECTOR ESPECIALLY SUPERMARKETS ARE ADOLESCENTS AGED 16 OR 17. I'VE GOT A 16-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WHO WORKS IN A HOT ZONE IN A SUPERMARKET AND SHE SAYS THE OTHER CASHIERS ARE HER AGE. JEAN FRANCOISE, A PARENT OF FIVE IN TORONTO TOLD ME THAT THINKS ENTIRE FAMILY GOT COVID. HIS 16-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WORKS IN A SUPERMARKET. THESE PEOPLE ARE ESSENTIAL WORKERS. JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE BUT THEY'RE STILL NOT PRIORITIZED FOR VACCINATION. HERE IS MY QUESTION. WHAT SHOULD I TELL ALL OF THESE ADOLESCENTS THAT NEED TO DEAL WITH FRUSTRATED CLIENTS. BUT CONTINUE TO WORK AND SERVE. US... SERVE US.

The Speaker says THANK YOU. THE MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says THANK YOU, SPEAKER, THANK YOU FOR THE QUESTION. WE DO HAVE A VACCINE ROLLOUT PLANS DIVIDED INTO THREE-PHASES, WE'RE INTO PHASE 2 AND WE ARE LOOKING AT THE FIRST ESSENTIAL WORKERS, PEOPLE THAT ARE NOT ABLE WORK FROM HOME. MANY PEOPLE FALL INTO THAT CATEGORY. NOW WE'RE INTO THE CATEGORY OF PEOPLE THAT ARE DOING WORK LIKE GROCERY STORE CLERKS, FRONTLINE CLERKS AND PEOPLE DOING CUSTOMER SERVICE. ALL OF THOSE ISSUES ARE BEING TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE CAN CONTINUE WITH THIS ROLLOUT. WE NOW CAN VACCINATE 12 TO 17 YEAR OLDS AS YOU'RE AWARE. THIS IS STARTING VIA OUR BOOKING AGENCY AS OF MAY 31 BUT PEOPLE CAN GO AND MAKE APPOINTMENTS TO BE VACCINATED OTHERWISE. SO THIS IS SOMETHING WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE IN ONTARIO THAT WANTS TO RECEIVE A VACCINE WILL BE ABLE TO RECEIVE A VACCINE. WE ARE WORKING WITH A LIST OF ESSENTIAL WORKERS NOW.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY question. The member for Orléans.

Blais says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. SPEAKER. SUPPLEMENTAL FOR THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT FRONTLINE WORKERS THIS PAST YEAR, HOW UNVALUED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED THEY ARE. AND THE PANDEMIC OPENED OUR EYES TO THE ROLE THEY PLAY IN OUR COMMUNITIES. WHAT SEEMS TO HAVE GONE UNNOTICED, SPEAKER, IS THE CRITICAL ROLE THAT TEENAGERS PLAY IN THIS WORK FORCE. STUDENTS WHO POUR THE PREMIER'S COFFEE IN THE MORNING AND MAKE HIS REAL EGG SANDWICH AT TIM HORTONS NEED AND DESERVE TO BE EXPANDED BUT THE STUDENTS IN ORLÉANS AT THE GROCERY STORE POURING COFFEE AT TIM HORTONS OR WORKING IN A PHARMACY DESERVE AND NEED TO BE PRIORITIZED FOR THE VACCINES, SPEAKER. I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE DONE IT WHEN VACCINES WERE AUTHORIZED FOR CHILDREN RECENTLY BUT THAT HASN'T HAPPENED. MY QUESTION IS TO THE MINISTER, WHEN ARE THE TEENAGERS WORKING ON THE FRONTLINES POURING COFFEE AND STOCKING SHELVES AND WORKING IN GROCERY STORES GOING TO BE PRIOR TIDES FOR VACCINES.

The Speaker says MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says THEY HAVE BEEN PRIORITIZED FOR VACCINES. WE'VE MADE THE VACCINES AVAILABLE, THE PFIZER VACCINES WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR 12 TO 17 YEAR OLDS INCLUDING THE TEENAGERS THAT YOU'RE SPEAKING ABOUT. THEY'RE NOT ABLE TO WORK FROM HOME OBVIOUSLY. THEY CAN BOOK ONLINE VERSUS OUR BOOKING TOOL AS OF MAY 31 AND THEY CAN RECEIVE THE VACCINE IF THEY BOOK THROUGH A PHARMACY. WE ARE PRIORITIZING THEM. WE KNOW THAT THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO WORK FROM HOME AND WE'RE PRIORITIZING THAT GROUP OF WORK AS WELL AS THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE.

The Speaker says THE MEMBER FOR KITCHENER CENTRE.

The caption changes to "Laura Mae Lindo. NDP. Kitchener Centre."

Lindo is in her thirties, with long dark hair in thin dreads. She wears a black blazer over a white shirt.

She says THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. MY QUESTION TO THE PREMIER. MR. SPEAKER, THE GOVERNMENT'S PLAN TO USE COVID-19 AS A COVER TO MAKE REMOTE LEARNING PERMANENT IN ONTARIO HAS COMMUNITIES REELING. THE WATERLOO REGION DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD WROTE TO THE PREMIER ABOUT THE CHANGES AND I QUOTE, THE LETTER REQUESTS THAT HE HALT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TVO BASED INCIDENT LEARNING PROPOSAL UNTIL FURTHER RESIN IS COMPLETED AND ALL KEY STAKEHOLDERS ARE CONSULTED. SCHOOL BOARDS ARE NOT ALONE. ANDREA BROWN A WATERLOO REGION PARENT OF TWO WROTE TO THE MP OF WATERLOO AND I QUOTE... WE STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND THE FULL IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC ON OUR KIDS. AFTER A YEAR OF UNCERTAINTY AND DISRUPTED LEARNING THE LAST THING OUR KIDS NEED IS A BACK DOOR MOVE TO PERMANENTLY CUT FUNDING FOR IN-PERSON LEARNING. MR. SPEAKER, MY QUESTION IS SIMPLE, CAN THE PREMIER GUARANTEE THAT FUNDING FOR IN-PERSON LEARNING WILL NOT BE AFFECTED FOR SEPTEMBER.

Lecce says THE GOVERNMENT CAN GUARANTEE THAT EVERY PARENT IN ONTARIO HAS THE CHOICE OF IN-CLASS OR ONLINE LEARNING, A CHOICE DEPARTMENT IF THE MEMBERS OPPOSITE HAD THEIR WAY. IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE APPRECIATE THIS PANDEMIC WHILE WE ALL LOOK FORWARD TO A WORLD WITH VACCINE THAT WILL REDUCE RISK WE BELIEVE PARENTS ARE BEST POSITIONED TO MAKE THE DECISION FOR THEIR CHILD. RECOGNIZING OVERWHELMINGLY MOST KIDS WILL BE IN SCHOOL AND THAT IS GOOD FOR DEVELOPMENT AND MENTAL HEALTH. WE PUT A PLAN IN PLACE 1.6 BILLION DOLLARS OF INVESTMENT TO PROTECT IN-CLASS LEARNING. TO PROTECT PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE PROVINCE. MORE THAN ANY PROVINCE IN THE COUNTRY FOLLOWING THE BEST ADVICE OF THE CHIEF MEDICAL HEALTH OFFICER, 200 MILLION DOLLARS ADDITIONAL DOLLARS FOR REMOTE LEARNING TO STRENGTHEN THAT CAPACITY. THERE'S LITERALLY OVER 150,000 MORE TABLETS PROVIDED TO FAMILIES OVER 10,000 INTERNET CONNECTIONS. WE EXPANDED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TO MAKE THE ONLINE REMOTE LEARNING EXPERIENCE BETTER FOR FAMILIES AND FOR CHILDREN AND EDUCATORS THEMSELVES. IN SPITE OF THE OPPOSITION. IN SPITE OF THE LIBERALS AND THEIR TEACHINGS BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT IT'S CRITICAL THAT CHILDREN CONTINUE TO LEARN IRRESPECTIVE OF THE CHALLENGES WE FACE AT HOME AND ABROAD.

The Speaker says RESPONSE. THANK YOU.

Lindo says FAMILIES AND STUDENTS WILL SUFFER. ONE FAMILY HAS AN OLDEST CHILD ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM AND HAS SEVERE ANXIETY AND INSISTS THAT THE IMPACT OF REMOTE LEARNING MUST BE UNDERSTOOD. I QUOTE "FOR BOTH OF MY CHILDREN THE QUALITY OF THEIR EDUCATION IS DRAMATICALLY REDUCED." LIKE ANDREA, ARE THE TRUSTEES ARE DEMANDING THAT GOVERNMENT DECISIONS BE BASED ON RESEARCH. THEY WRITE AND I QUOTE. WE'RE CONCERNED THAT THE LACK OF THIS PROPOSAL WILL REDUCE STUDENT ACHIEVING AND WELLBEING. AND I RAISE THEIR EMPATHETIC OBJECTION TO THE RUSH AND RADICAL CHANGES TO REMOTE LEARNING PROPOSED BY THE MINISTRY. AS MY DADDY SAYS, HURRY BRINGS WORRY AND WORRY WEARS YOU OUT. MY QUESTION THROUGH YOU TO THE PREMIER, WILL THE GOVERNMENT COMMIT TO... IMPACT OF REMOTE LEARNING DURING THE PANDEMIC AND HALT ALL STEPS TO MAKE THIS PERMANENT IN ONTARIO.

The Speaker says THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION.

Lecce says A RADICAL CONCEPT IS THE IDEA THAT A POLITICIAN KNOWS BETTER THAN A MOTHER OR FATHER IN THE PROVINCE. I FIND THAT OFFENSIVE FOR PARENTS WHO WANT TO RETAIN THE IN-CLASS OR ONLINE LEARNING. WE BELIEVE IN FUNDING THEM AND DELIVERING IT THROUGH PUBLIC EDUCATION AND WE BELIEVE THAT OUR ONLINE LEARNING SYSTEM HAS IMPROVED OVER TIME BECAUSE WE'VE MADE THE INVESTMENT TO ENSURE THAT IT IS THERE WHEN WE NEED IT. FOR A SNOW DAY IN THIS PROVINCE ALL THE WAY TO A GLOBAL PANDEMIC THIS PROVINCE IS UNIQUELY READY TO KEEP OUR KIDS LEARNING WHICH IS CRITICAL FOR DEVELOPMENT AND, OF COURSE, FOR THEIR OWN MENTAL HEALTH. MR. SPEAKER, WE PROVIDED IN OUR BUDGET AN ADDITIONAL ENHANCEMENT AND REMOTE SYSTEM BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY THE PRIORITY REMAINS ON KEEPING OUR IN-CLASS LEARNING SAFE AND WE INVESTED 1.6 BILLION DOLLARS AND MOVE STAFFING, CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE OF PUBLIC HEALTH NURSES AND TESTING TO ENSURE THAT KIDS AND STAFF ARE SAFE IN THE PROVINCE.

The Speaker says NEXT question. The member for York Centre.

The caption changes to "Roman Baber. Independent. York Centre."

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

He says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. TO THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. JANUARY 15 I WARNED THAT LOCKDOWN IS DEADLIER THAN COVID. I SAID THAT OPIOID OVERDOSE WAS TRENDING 50 percent HIGHER. I WAS ACCUSED OF MISINFORMATION AND REMOVED FROM CAUCUS. THIS WEEK THE NUMBERS CAME IN. FATAL OVERDOSE ROSE 75 percent IN ONTARIO FROM MARCH TO DECEMBER 2020 COMPARED TO 2019. ALMOST DOUBLE THE PEOPLE AGED 25 TO 44 LOST THEIR LIVES AND INCREASED ON THE 501 COMPARED TO 159 PEOPLE WHO LOST THEIR LIFE TO COVID BETWEEN 20 TO 50. EVERY LOSS OF LIFE IS TRAGIC. THE INCREASED IN DEATHS FROM OVERDOSE IS MORE THAN TRIPLE COMPARED TO ALL DEATH FROM COVID-19 20 TO 50. AND THE LATE SURGERIES AND CANCER SCREENINGS AND THESE DEATHS ARE ON THE GOVERNMENT. I'VE BEEN WARNING THEM ABOUT THIS FOR A YEAR. I ASK THE MINISTER TO TURN OFF THE ANSWERING MACHINE, SHOW COMPASSION AND BEFORE MORE PEOPLE DIE FROM EVERYTHING FROM COVID, END THE LOCKDOWN.

The Speaker says THE MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says WELL, THANK YOU, SPEAKER. WELL THERE'S A LOT OF... I'M AWARE THAT THE REPORT CAME OUT AND I'LL GRATEFUL TO THE TEAM AND INDIVIDUALS THAT PUT THIS REPORT TOGETHER. WE TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY. AND THAT IS WHY WE ARE WORKING WITH THEM ON THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS WHICH MAKE EMINENT SENSE. HOWEVER, WITH RESPECT TO THE LOCKDOWN THAT WE ENTERED INTO THE LOCKDOWN BECAUSE OF THESE VARIANTS OF CONCERN THAT HAVE CAUSED VERY HIGH TRANSMISSION IN OUR COMMUNITIES THAT ARE THREATENING THE LIVES OF MANY, MANY PEOPLE. THAT'S WHY WE IMPLEMENTED THE LOCKDOWN TO SAVE THOSE LIVES. THAT'S THE PURPOSE OF IT. ANY LIFE LOST IS TRAGIC. BUT WE NEED TO CONTINUE WITH THIS UNTIL THE TIME IS RIGHT AND THE LEVELS ARE LOWER BEFORE WE CAN START EXITING THIS LOCKDOWN...

The Speaker says RESPONSE.

Elliott says THE HEALTH AND WELLBEING OF THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO IS OUR UTMOST PRIORITY AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE.

The Speaker says SUPPLEMENTARY.

Baber says SPEAKER, I DON'T UNDERSTAND, WE ALL WANT TO SAVE LIVES, THE ARGUMENT IS THAT OUR MEASURES ARE TAKING MORE LIVES THAN THEY'RE SAVING. THE EVIDENCE IS IN. BY EVERY MEMBER HERE I'LL BUY THEM A COPY OF THE STAR THAT OUTLINES THE NUMBERS. THE INCREASE AND PEOPLE DYING FROM OVERDOSE IS TRIPLE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE DYING FROM COVID. ENOUGH WITH THIS COVID POLITICAL THEATRE ALREADY. ALL LIFE IS PRECIOUS AND THESE MINISTERS KNOW THEIR POLICIES IS RESULTING IN MORE HARM AND MORE LIVES LOST THAN SAVED. THEY WERE ELECTED TO SERVE PEOPLE. NOT HARM THEM. THE MILLIONS OF CANCER SCREENINGS LOST ALONE WILL RENDER MORE DEATHS THAN COVID WILL EVER BE. THIS IS THE NDP AND THE LIBERALS AS WELL. WHY DO YOU PRETEND WHEN THE EVIDENCE IS IN FRONT OF YOU. SPEAKER, I'M ASKING THE MINISTER AND TO COLLEAGUES, A MORE THAN A HUMAN BEING WILL SHE PLEASE END THIS HUMAN CATASTROPHE.

The Speaker says THE MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Elliott says THANK YOU, SPEAKER. ANY LIFE LOST IS A TRAGEDY WE KNOW THIS OVER 4,000 PEOPLE HAVE TO DIED FROM COVID-19 IN ONTARIO. THERE HAVE BEEN LOSSES DUE TO THE OPIOID CRISIS AS WELL. THAT'S WHY WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON IT AND THAT'S WHY WE HAVE SINCE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC STARTED WE STARTED WITH A CONSUMPTION AND TREATMENT SERVICES SITE AND THERE ARE 16 APPROVED AND WE'RE STILL RECEIVING APPLICATIONS FROM COMMUNITIES. WE'RE WORKING THROUGH OUR ROAD MAP TO WELLNESS AND MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION PLAN THAT CAME OUT JUST BEFORE THE PANDEMIC STRUCK TO MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE GOING TO INVEST 3.8 BILLION DOLLARS OVER TEN YEARS IN OUR MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION SYSTEM. IT'S VITALLY IMPORTANT WE...

The Speaker says RESPONSE.

Elliott says WE PUT IN 175 MILLION DOLLARS EXTRA AND 176 MILLION DOLLARS THIS YEAR AND WE'LL CONTINUE TO DO THAT TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM THE OPIOID CRISIS AND HELP WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. IN IS SOMETHING THAT WILL LAST LONGER THAN THE PANDEMIC WILL LAST AND WE'RE PREPARED TO HELP.

Watch: Question Period: Thursday, May 20, 2021