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Ontario Hansard - 01-November2018

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS

ENDING AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE DISCRIMINATION IN THE GREATER TORONTO AREA ACT, 2018 / LOI DE 2018 METTANT FIN À LA DISCRIMINATION EN MATIÈRE D’ASSURANCE-AUTOMOBILE DANS LE GRAND TORONTO

Mr. Singh moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 44, An Act to amend the Insurance Act to prevent discrimination with respect to automobile insurance rates in the Greater Toronto Area / Projet de loi 44, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les assurances pour empêcher la discrimination en ce qui concerne les taux d’assurance-automobile dans le Grand Toronto.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.

Mr. Gurratan Singh: The NDP has a long-standing history working on finally bringing more fairness to auto insurance rates. The member before me, Jagmeet Singh, my brother, the MPP for Bramalea–Gore–Malton, on numerous occasions put forward legislation to address this incredibly important issue of auto insurance discrimination.

Let’s be clear, Mr. Speaker: Auto insurance is broken in Ontario. We need a complete overhaul of the auto insurance system. There have been systematic cuts to the benefits of Ontario drivers across the board. We pay some of the highest car insurance rates in this country, despite having some of the lowest accident rates. On top of it all, insurance companies are making record profits. A report came out earlier this year stating that insurance companies have overcharged Ontario drivers as much as $4.5 billion.

Today’s bill is to address but one of these many, many important issues—postal code discrimination in auto insurance—and I am hopeful that today all members will rise in support of this legislation.

Auto insurance discrimination is one of the most important issues in Brampton. It is there alongside the issue of the university and the hospital. Over the past 10 years, as I have been communicating, meeting and talking to people in Brampton, it has been very clear: Auto insurance rates make it very tough for people to get by. They’re feeling the pinch.

To understand how much of an impact auto insurance premiums have on Bramptonians, we have to understand the situation of Brampton. We don’t have a robust system of transit in Brampton. If you can’t get around without a car, you’re not left with many other alternatives. If you want to get to work, to school or to university, a car is often the only means of transportation. People’s lives and their livelihoods depend on their ability to use a car. That’s why this issue of auto insurance is so pressing in Brampton: because if people can’t afford to drive, in many circumstances they can’t afford to put food on the table. They can’t afford to get to work.

Further, when we look at what we are actually arguing for, what we are looking into in regard to this bill, we’re looking at the fact that if you live in Brampton right now, you pay a higher rate of car insurance just by living in Brampton. You could have no tickets, you could have a clean record, and you could be one individual who lives in Brampton and your rate will be higher. If you live in another city—if you live in Caledon—your rates could be as much as 50% less.

If you look at it, it’s just one road. Take Mayfield Road, for example. It divides Brampton and Caledon, and just by living on the other side of that road, despite the fact that you might work in Brampton, your friends might be in Brampton and all your areas of involvement might bring you to Brampton, just by crossing over the road, all of a sudden your rate for car insurance will drop as much as 50%.

That’s problematic, because people should not be penalized for living in Brampton. It should not be a punishment to live in Brampton. That’s why this bill is effectively looking forward to change the system, to say that your car insurance premium should be based on your record, not based on where you live.

It’s also important to understand that this is not just a Brampton issue. This issue of postal code discrimination impacts communities across the GTA, including Scarborough, Jane and Finch, and Weston. It makes no sense that these communities, along with Brampton, are paying this higher rate, because if we look at the GTA, I reject this premise by the auto insurance companies that we are not in a regional integrated community. I reject this premise that because you live in one aspect of the GTA and not in another aspect, you pay higher or lower rates, because the GTA is an integrated area. The GTA is a place where people live in Brampton, they work in Toronto and they go to see friends in Scarborough.

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It does not make sense. When we look at the GTA, there are so many similarities: similarities in terms of density, similarities in terms of demographics, similarities across the board. In a region that’s so integrated, in a region that has so much in common, and in a region where we are promoted to travel amongst these different municipalities, it doesn’t make sense that there is such a disparity in regard to our car insurance rates. That’s why I put forward this private member’s bill. I put it forward to address the root cause of the issue.

Now, we wrote this legislation with a very focused intention. It’s to ensure that within the GTA, you are paying a premium based on your record, not based on where you live. How do we do that? When we look at Brampton and the different areas within the GTA, we will see that in some areas, like Don Valley North, if you compare it to Brampton, you will have a difference of as much as $1,000 a year, despite the fact that someone could actually be living in Brampton and working in Don Valley. Despite that fact, just because you come home at night and you lay your head to rest on a bed in Brampton, and despite the fact you might even spend more time where you work, you are going to be spending and paying more. You will be penalized for that.

How does our legislation work? How does the legislation I put forward work? It’s very, very simple. There are two ways that it tackles the issue of postal code discrimination.

The first is that it prevents the superintendent from approving an application made by any auto insurance company that is based on a risk classification system that considers someone’s geographic region. What does that mean? The superintendent who approves any increases to car insurance rates will say no to an auto insurance company if their policy assesses that individual based on where they live.

Because we understand that the Insurance Act is complicated, we understand that there are a lot of different factors, we wanted to keep this legislation very focused, with a very, very clean cut into how to fix the situation. So we said, “Let’s even go further. Let’s prohibit insurance companies from offering or even offering to renew contracts or policies that consider one’s geographic region.” I’m emphasizing this language because legislation lives and dies based on language. As a lawyer by background, I know that the language we use is purposeful, that the language we use has impact.

That’s why we also wanted to ensure that this legislation has teeth. If insurance companies are breaking this law, if insurance companies are providing policies based on geographic location, they can be fined as much as $250,000 to up to $500,000 for these infractions.

Now, we know that the Conservatives have put forth their own legislation. I want to point out how problematic their legislation is.

First and foremost, I’m going to point out the fact that I think it is incredibly problematic that they chose to put this matter forward by way of a private member’s bill. For the watchers, the people who are watching us right now on television, to explain this: As a member of the opposition, we have one path to put forward legislation, and that is private members’ bills. But for the government, they can put forward government bills. They can put forward something that demonstrates that this has severity and importance, that it has the whole government behind it.

That’s why it’s problematic that they chose this manner, because auto insurance is something that affects millions of Ontarians and it should be given the priority of a government bill. By relegating it to a private member’s bill, they’re demonstrating that this government doesn’t really care about this issue. That’s why numerous times the Minister of Finance has stated—as early as October 18, when referencing this bill, he said “if passed.” Why is there doubt on the side of the government? They have a majority government. They could pass this legislation tomorrow if they wanted to. They could pass this legislation immediately. Instead, though, we have equivocal language coming forth from the minister.

Continuing on this path of uncertain language, let’s look at the language put forth by the member in this bill. The language in this bill states that—and I’ve read this bill numerous times; I’ve looked at it multiple times—it will prohibit insurance policies that primarily consider postal code. It will look to prohibit insurers from using factors primarily related to the postal code or telephone area code of an individual who is trying to get an insurance policy. Well, as a lawyer, when I look at that word “primarily,” I see one thing. I see a loophole. “Primarily” is not defined in the legislation. There are no areas in the legislation that say “primarily” means this much or that much. That means that the insurance company can very easily say, “Do you know what? This is not our primary factor. Postal codes are a secondary factor,” or “It’s our tertiary factor,” or “It’s our fourth factor.” The Conservatives’ bill does not eliminate postal codes from the table. Instead, if people look at this legislation, if auto insurance companies look at this legislation, they’re going to see that it provides a gigantic loophole.

This is not just my opinion. This is the opinion of dozens of lawyers who signed on to an open letter that states that the Conservatives’ bill will not stop auto insurance discrimination. They write in their letter:

“Bill 42, Mr. Gill’s bill, is based on the premise of banning rating factors ‘primarily related’ to where a driver lives. That sort of wording is not the specific language that will protect people. Bill 44, Mr. Singh’s bill, is specific that GTA drivers will not be rated differently based on where they live and a safe driver in Brampton will be treated the same as a safe driver from Lawrence and Yonge. One bill is clear. One has language that insurance companies will use to their advantage.”

Further, they write, “Lawyers know that insurance companies will take advantage of every loophole, no matter how minor it appears. It means that at the most basic level Bill 42 won’t stop so-called postal code discrimination. Bill 44 will.”

Mr. Speaker, it’s clear. Other lawyers have looked at it. This letter was signed on by law firms across the GTA. This letter was signed on by lawyers across the GTA. Just around 30 lawyers have signed on to this letter looking at both pieces of legislation. Both pieces of legislation were put before these lawyers, but they’ve shown very clearly that the Conservatives’ bill does not address an issue.

If the government is serious about fixing this issue of postal code discrimination, then they will vote yes in support of my private member’s bill today.

I want to wrap up my comments by saying as follows: If the government was serious about fixing rates of auto insurance in Ontario, then they would never have approved an 11% increase in auto insurance rates. If they were serious, they would have shown from the beginning that this is a priority of this government. Instead, we see a piece of legislation that, in my opinion and those of other lawyers, does not go far enough. It was put together haphazardly. It will not fix this very, very important issue.

My final comments are to please support this piece of legislation. Let’s put it forward to ensure that we are really advocating for the people of Brampton, Ontario, and all drivers.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate.

Mr. Michael Parsa: I just want to start off before I go any further: We don’t just consult lawyers when we put it forward. We do work for all Ontarians, so we consult all Ontarians, not just lawyers.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against Bill 44 and to elaborate on why I’ll be voting against it.

Bill 44, An Act to amend the Insurance Act to prevent discrimination with respect to automobile insurance rates in the Greater Toronto Area, put forward by the honourable member from Brampton East, seeks to amend the Insurance Act to require the superintendent of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to refuse auto insurance risk classification systems if the system does not consider the greater Toronto area as a single geographic area. I’m standing here today to tell you, members of this House, that if this bill passes, there will be unintended consequences for the residents of this province, the same residents that it seeks to help.

Mr. Speaker, our government has committed, and is committed, to ensuring fairness in rate setting, ending discriminatory practices and working towards a system that puts the drivers first.

By tabling this bill, Bill 44, my colleague across the aisle is hoping to lower rates in places like Brampton by requiring the GTA to be considered as a single geographic area by all insurers. However, I’m here to tell you, this will not work. By implementing a law that will allow auto insurers to consider the GTA as a single geographic area, the high costs of auto insurance will ultimately be spread across all the zones that currently make up the GTA. This will raise insurance rates for many, and it will only serve to increase costs for drivers all across the GTA.

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In fact, if this bill passes, many of the member’s own NDP colleagues would see rates increase in their own ridings. As the Minister of Finance indicated earlier today, the members from Toronto–Danforth, Beaches–East York, Toronto–St. Paul’s and Parkdale–High Park would all see rates increase in their ridings. I ask, what benefit would this serve to the residents of these ridings or the greater Toronto area?

As the Insurance Act and its regulations currently stand, insurance companies are able to charge rates based on geographic zones. Certain zones, such as Brampton, see higher rates than neighbouring areas based on this geographic distinction.

Mr. Speaker, as the representatives of the people, we are here to make life more affordable for all residents of this province. Therefore, instead of voting to increase auto insurance rates for their own constituents, I encourage all members to support my colleague the member for Milton’s proposed legislation, Bill 42.

Interjections.


Mr. Michael Parsa: That’s my honour.

My colleague the member for Milton has taken the time to get this right. His proposed initiative is a great way to combat rate discrimination right across our province, by proposing to make fundamental changes to the auto insurance system which will ultimately benefit drivers in the GTA and across this province.

Our government and our Premier have made it crystal clear that we are committed to ensuring fairness in rate setting and ending discriminatory practices. Bill 44, as it stands, will not make auto insurance fairer and will not end discrimination. While both Bill 42 and Bill 44 attempt to end rate discrimination in the auto insurance system, only the member for Milton’s bill is positioned to achieve positive results for drivers. My colleague’s bill, Bill 42, will ensure fairness in rate setting, it will ensure the ending of discriminatory practices, and it will work toward a system that puts the drivers and the residents of this province first.

It is for these reasons that I’ll be voting against Bill 44, and I urge everyone in this House to do the same.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I’m proud to rise during this time of remembrance. My thoughts are with the souls of the veterans.

I want to sincerely thank the member for Brampton East for this important bill to end postal code discrimination in the GTA. I want to thank Brampton members for an excellent town hall meeting, where we heard with one voice that people want a change on this matter. Thank you.

I’ve been fighting this issue of auto insurance postal code discrimination for years. I’ve hosted town hall meetings—including one coming up in my riding on November 13. I’ve done research and written about the matter extensively.

The people of my riding of Humber River–Black Creek are sick and tired of getting gouged by auto insurance companies. Years ago, I found that the Jane and Finch community within my riding paid the highest rates in Toronto, but we were neither first in accidents nor in vehicular crime.

What’s the rationale here? Well, these companies look at the amount that they’re paying out in claims and what they’re collecting. It has nothing to do with whether you’re going to have a crash in the area or not. That means, if you live in a working-class neighbourhood where people do not have jobs with benefits—and that’s only going to get worse under this government—if a person suffers a crash, the insurance company pays out.

Let’s say your neighbour decides to go on a road trip to Ottawa, has an accident, heaven forbid, but does not have decent workplace coverage or benefits. They draw money from the insurance company. Your rate will go up, too. Yes, you have a clean driving record, but if your neighbour has a crash, your rate goes up. That’s the system.

I met a tenant in my community who suffered a life-changing accident, lost his home in the 905 and became a tenant in my community. With him came his claim, so the premiums of his neighbours were now affected. What did they have to do with the crash?

Is this fair? No. This is a flawed risk factor.

This government is more interested in golfing with auto insurance execs than helping working-class people in the GTA. The PCs are absolute experts at kicking the little guy in the teeth and handing over more and more power to wealthy elites and rich corporate execs, like in the auto insurance industry.

Quarter after quarter, auto insurance companies jack up rates and are given a rubber stamp by FSCO. Ontarians pay the highest rates in the country but have the lowest claims per capita. Research has shown that Ontario drivers have overpaid by billions, yet still, quarter after quarter, rates go up. If you need to drive a car in Ontario, you have to do business with these companies, but do we know where they’re spending their money; what they’re making? Nope. Where’s the transparency?

This morning, an important press conference here at Queen’s Park shone a light on the practices of auto insurance companies that are withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to accident victims. In describing these companies, Paul Harte, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said that these auto insurers are placing profit ahead of accident victims and that, “Anyone buying insurance from these companies is being gouged.” He went on to say that, “They’re paying for coverage that the companies have no intention of paying.”

Sadly, this government takes direction from the auto insurance industry. This government should do the right thing and stand up to these auto insurance companies, but of course they won’t. That’s why they’re talking about private members’ bills instead of bills from the government.

The people of Humber River–Black Creek, Scarborough, Brampton and many others deserve a fair system of auto insurance. All Ontarians deserve a fair system of auto insurance.

To the government: Please stop playing games. Do the right thing. Support this bill or face the wrath of drivers who are tired of this injustice.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Miss Christina Maria Mitas: Today I will be speaking to Bill 44, a bill to end automobile insurance discrimination in the greater Toronto area.

Bill 44 amends the Insurance Act to prevent residents from paying different rates for automobile insurance based on the municipality they currently live in. Sounds great, right? But there is a “but.” Bill 44 requires the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to refuse auto insurance risk classification systems to determine the rates of drivers if the system does not consider the GTA as a single geographic area.

While the member from Brampton East’s bill does have good intentions—namely, to confront rate discrimination in his Brampton community—this bill would mean financial consequences to the rest of the GTA. The bill would only spread the issue of discrimination across a broader scale.

I am very concerned that Bill 44 would negatively affect my constituents in Scarborough Centre by increasing their auto insurance rates unfairly. Most of the residents of Scarborough Centre already pay higher-than-average car insurance rates. According to a 2017 report on the most expensive rates in Toronto, Scarborough tops the list with nine neighbourhoods paying over $2,000 a year, making it one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in this city. The cost of car insurance in Scarborough is already prohibitive for many of our residents, is what this tells us, and we cannot afford our rates to go higher.

This is not the first time that this House has tried to address auto insurance problems in Ontario. The previous Liberal government introduced the Fair Auto Insurance Plan. According to a 2017 report titled “Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered,” this benefit system did not effectively provide assistance to people injured in vehicle accidents because too much money was spent on lawyers and competing medical opinions. This clearly highlights the need to get any further insurance changes right. We cannot afford to bungle this.

Unlike the previous Liberal government, our Conservative government is committed to ensuring fairness in setting rates and ending discriminatory practices as we work towards a system that puts Ontario’s drivers first.

Bill 44 unfortunately fails to achieve its stated goal, but luckily there is a way forward. The bill introduced by the member from Milton, the Ending Discrimination in Automobile Insurance Act, tangibly moves us towards the goal of ending discriminatory rates based on postal codes. This is exactly what the member from Brampton East says he wants to achieve, and I hope he shows his sincerity by voting in favour of it.

Bill 42 seeks to end discrimination related to a driver’s postal code or telephone area code. The member from Milton’s initiative is not only a great way to fight discrimination in the GTA but across all of Ontario.

Bill 42 seeks to evaluate drivers based on their driving record and not where they currently reside, full stop. I think the majority of the House agrees that if you’re a good driver, you should be paying less in auto insurance rates.

The existence of rate discrimination based on postal code was also previously mentioned by my colleague from Flamborough–Glanbrook, who noted in the Flamborough Review that one woman at Rockton World’s Fair addressed her regarding rate discrimination and noted that she was paying $150 more a month based only on her postal code. This is shameful.

While Bill 44 fails to address the root cause of rate discrimination, Bill 42 seeks to provide a province-wide remedy that fundamentally changes the auto insurance system to deliver benefits to all of our drivers.

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Although the bills mutually address concerns regarding automobile insurance rate discrimination, Bill 44 does not address the unfair reasons used to justify rate discrimination affecting Ontarians. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has stated that existing regulations are outdated and don’t reflect the realities faced by today’s drivers in Ontario. It is time to modernize the system.

Since Bill 44 does not effectively address and tackle discriminatory automobile insurance rates, and since it would have a negative financial impact on many drivers across the GTA—including the good people of Scarborough—I suggest that my colleagues in the House vote against Bill 44 and instead opt to support Bill 42, to bring a real end to province-wide auto insurance rate discrimination. Thank you.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Ms. Sara Singh: It is a pleasure to rise here in the House today and speak on the bill from my colleague the member from Brampton East. I’d like to begin by congratulating him for his efforts in bringing this forward. I’d go over and shake his hand, but we’ll do that after.

This week we had a very well attended town hall on the issue of auto insurance in my riding. People from across Brampton had the opportunity to attend this town hall and raise concerns about the lack of action from this government to reduce the sky-high auto insurance rates that they’ve been paying. They were thrilled—thrilled—to hear that our member is serious about addressing the issue through his private member’s bill. I am so happy to be speaking in support of this piece of legislation, and congratulate him again for bringing this forward.

This is not a new issue. This is something that the members of this House are very well acquainted with. As I was out door-knocking, this issue came up time and time again. When we would ask folks what concerns they had about their community, issues of hospital wait times would come up. But by far the most pressing issue for them was the auto insurance rates that they were paying. Because many of them may not have needed to visit a hospital, but without access to a vehicle, they could not do basic things like get to work, buy groceries or take their kids to school. It was a necessity to them.

Continuously we hear about these concerns on auto insurance rates. Every day, actually, I get calls in my office from constituents who are letting us know that their rates have increased over the last couple of months and they are very, very worried that no tangible action is being taken by this government to help reduce the cost for them. It’s concerning to a lot of us that this government has dropped the ball on an issue that they—and we all, collectively, together—can work on to ensure that we lower those rates.

I think of one constituent in particular who contacted us to say that she is a senior citizen who is having trouble affording her auto insurance rates. They are a staggering $2,300 a year for a senior citizen.

Interjection.


Ms. Sara Singh: Well, maybe if she lived in Milton she’d be paying lower auto insurance rates, but unfortunately she’s in Brampton, so that’s the rate she’s paying. She can come over and talk to Mr. Gill but unfortunately that’s not going to help her unless she moves across the border into Milton. I’d like to thank the member for his comments, but perhaps you should look at how the auto insurance rates are distributed for you to understand where the rates actually increase.

She needs a car to get to her doctor’s appointments. She can’t take transit because of the chronic pain in her knees. If she can’t afford to keep her car, both her health and quality of life will take a steep decline.

As the critic for the Attorney General, I also want to highlight that legal professionals with expertise in auto insurance have come together to back this piece of legislation. Industry professionals continue to signal that there is a serious, serious concern that inequalities within the auto insurance system exist, and that good drivers are being forced to pay the price. This is simply unfair, Speaker, and something tangible needs to be done.

These legal experts noted that Bill 42, the Ending Discrimination in Automobile Insurance Act, brought forward by the member for Milton, contains very vague language, with many loopholes, which creates opportunities for consumers to continue to be exploited by insurance companies. I wonder why, instead of protecting drivers, it looks like this government is more concerned with protecting the interests of those large companies and allowing them to continue, month after month, making profit off of Ontario’s drivers.

Another concern that came up at our town hall the other day was the fact that these drivers are paying the highest auto insurance rates in the country, and yet, if they have an accident and they are not at fault and they go to seek accident benefits, they are actually being denied those benefits—another aspect of how this auto insurance industry is ripping our consumers off. This government hasn’t addressed that concern either.

I’d like to close my remarks by just highlighting again how happy we are to support the bill being put forward by our member. We encourage members of the government to also stand up, work with us and support this bill to actually end postal code discrimination for communities like mine, and many others across this province. This is an issue that New Democrats have a long history of fighting for, and the bill that comes from our member from Brampton East is coming after years of hard work; it’s not rushed-through legislation to try to get there first.

Other than that, I’d like to urge this government to think carefully—there were some things I was going to say; I’m not going to say them. In the spirit of being collegial, I’ll stop there. I’d like to urge this government to think carefully about the next steps you’re about to take. Think about how we’re tangibly going to solve the problem, and the fact that we need to work together to ensure that communities across this province are not being discriminated against because of where they live.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mrs. Nina Tangri: Today we are talking about Bill 44, which attempts to amend the Insurance Act. Having come from the insurance sector prior to having the privilege of being elected, I know there are many reasons why this bill will do nothing to improve rates in most areas. MPP Singh’s bill does nothing to address the cause of rate discrimination. Should the GTA be considered as a single geographic area, costs will increase for the entire GTA.

Our government remains committed to ensuring fairness in rate-setting, ending discriminatory practices and working towards a system that puts drivers first. I intend to work very hard to address the inconsistencies we currently face in the auto insurance sector.

I can tell you for a fact that many of MPP Singh’s own caucus colleagues would see rate increases in their own NDP-held ridings if this bill were to pass. I’m not sure they would be very happy about that. We did the math. Members from Toronto–Danforth, Beaches–East York, Toronto–St. Paul’s and Parkdale–High Park would all see rates rise in their ridings if the bill passes.

I would just like to point out—the member from Brampton East may not know this, but the finance minister has to say “if passed.” He can’t presume the will of this House.

It is understandable that we all want lower insurance rates, Mr. Speaker. Me too. However, there are realities that exist. Claim payments can be significant, whether it is for damages to the vehicle, accident benefits if you’re hurt, or if litigation is involved.

There are many factors involved in determining premium rates: your age, gender, years licensed in Canada, commuting distance. Do you have a driver’s training certificate? How does your motor vehicle record look? Do you have speeding tickets, seat belt tickets? How about careless driving? Impaired driving? Where do you live? How many accidents have you had which you’re at fault for? How many years have you owned your own vehicle? These are amongst many others. This is what we call individually rated premiums, which most companies use today.

As you can see, geographical location is just one factor in determining your insurance premium. That’s the problem with MPP Singh’s bill. Having all of us in the GTA pooled together, perhaps there may be a small savings for me, but I doubt very much that the MPP from Beaches–East York over there will be happy to pay more for me.

Also, there are serious issues of fraudulent claims, high payments, accident benefits and litigation where lawyers take a lot of the payout.

The poorly-thought-out Liberal-NDP 15% stretch-goal insurance act in 2012 has done nothing to help Ontario drivers. The initial savings were soon lost. MPP Gill got it right: His proposed initiative is a great way to combat rate discrimination.

I recommend that all members of this House vote against Bill 44. I look forward to working to provide Ontario drivers with real solutions—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you. Further debate?

Mr. Faisal Hassan: I am happy to rise in support of Bill 44, put forward by my colleague from Brampton East.

Auto insurance is a big issue in my riding of York South–Weston and across the GTA. The decent and hard-working people in my riding are being hit hard by high auto insurance rates simply because of their postal code. My constituents pay higher premiums because of where they reside. This is unfair. It is time to end community discrimination. If this bill is passed, it will end the practice of auto insurance based on postal code discrimination.

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For many in York South–Weston, owning a car is a necessity. Fifteen years of neglect under the previous Liberal government resulted in fewer and fewer job opportunities in York South–Weston, forcing people to look far from home for work. Moreover, that same neglect has left York South–Weston with inadequate public transportation options to reach those jobs. The only way to get to work is to drive, because the jobs are outside of the community, and the long commutes are time spent away from family. For those people facing a two-hour commute by bus, driving to work is the only way they will have enough time to see their children off to school in the morning and tuck them into bed at night.

Nevertheless, owning a car is extremely expensive for my constituents, and it is becoming more and more expensive every year. I hear from people in my riding every week who have good driving records but who are paying upwards of $500 every month for car insurance. Postal code discrimination means that insurance companies are punishing people who made all the right choices—they bought safe cars and maintain good driving records—because of where they live. It means that working families in my neighbourhood do not have the same opportunities to send their children to extracurricular activities or save for retirement as others across the province because they are spending their money on auto insurance.

Many experts support Bill 44, including—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you. We’ll return now to the member from Brampton East for his response.

Mr. Gurratan Singh: I’m going to say a comment right now, and I’ll let the government—please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe any of the lawyers of their caucus actually spoke to this issue in debate today. I’ll let them correct me if I’m wrong. If any of their lawyers had actually spoken to this issue, they would have read this legislation and understood that the opinion that I hold, and that of 30 other lawyers, rings true: that they have a glaring issue in their legislation. They have yet to address or speak to this issue of “primarily.” Their legislation is written in a fashion that leaves a glaring loophole. I have yet to hear any response to say if they will address this issue or what their response is to the fact that they have a glaring loophole.

We know that this issue of auto insurance is a very, very big issue. We know that families across the board are feeling the pinch.

I implore the government side, I implore members across the aisle, to vote for their communities. Take this opportunity to put partisan politics aside and finally vote for the communities that put you here and ensure that they who are paying more money, they who are paying exorbitantly high car insurance rates, can finally have a degree of fairness in their lives.

We have a piece of legislation which is before you today. You can show them that this issue is something that matters to them. You can show them that this is a priority to them and that their voices and their everyday, effectively, pocket matters to you.

Ultimately, we have two pieces of legislation—the language is clear. You can choose to vote to stop postal code discrimination with Bill 44 and you can choose to vote for Ontarians, or you can once again leave them in a situation where they will be facing discrimination for years to come.

BRUNT AND KENDALL ACT (ENSURING SAFE FIREFIGHTER AND TRAINEE RESCUE TRAINING), 2018 / LOI BRUNT ET KENDALL DE 2018 (FORMATION SÉCURITAIRE DES POMPIERS ET DES ÉLÈVES POMPIERS EN SAUVETAGE)

Ms. French moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 10, An Act to amend the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 and the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 in relation to rescue and emergency services training for firefighters and firefighter trainees / Projet de loi 10, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1997 sur la prévention et la protection contre l’incendie et la Loi de 2005 sur les collèges privés d’enseignement professionnel en ce qui concerne la formation des pompiers et des élèves pompiers en services de sauvetage et d’urgence.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for her presentation.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: Today, together with the families and friends of two men who tragically died, I am calling on this government to support and pass my private member’s bill, Bill 10, the Brunt and Kendall Act, to ensure the safety of future Ontario firefighters and trainees. I’ve been working with these families and firefighter safety advocates for three and a half years now. It has been an emotional journey, but it is my honour to welcome many of them back to Queen’s Park today.

I’d like to welcome the Brunt family, Adam’s parents, Al and Christy Brunt; and family and friends Debbie and Larry Brunt; Brent Pearce; Tracey Pearce; Derek Reynolds; and Terry Smith and Mary Smith.

We welcome the friends and family of Gary Kendall and recognize his family who are watching from home today.

From the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, we are joined by OPFFA Executive Vice-President Mark Train and Oshawa Professional Firefighters Local 465 President Peter Dyson and Vice-President Nathan Langille.

T.J. Thompson was a student with Adam in the course, and joins us along with Alex Van Kralingen, a lawyer involved for over eight years, who spoke today at our press conference. Welcome.

Speaker, my bill seeks to keep firefighter trainees safe in an unregulated, private training environment. They are not firefighters. They are not protected. This bill is comprehensive legislation that creates an entire framework to approve, regulate, register, levy penalties, license and oversee private safety training in Ontario.

I asked the Minister of Community Safety this morning if this government would support my bill, and he said that he rejected the premise of the question. I want to make the case very clearly to this government in hopes of changing their mind. This bill has nothing to do with regulating or certifying firefighters. This is about protecting those who one day want to become firefighters and are vulnerable to a rogue, unregulated private training landscape.

Speaker, three and a half years ago, I learned of the death of Adam Brunt, a young man who wanted to be a firefighter and who tragically died during a private rescue training course. I felt heartsick and was compelled to know what had gone wrong. We then found out that another family, the family of Gary Kendall, had lost a loved one the same way five years before. It has been a long and emotional journey for everyone involved. It has been my privilege to know these families and to struggle through this exhausting and frustrating process with them. It has taken a long time to get here, but hopefully today we can finally move forward.

Before we do, though, I would like to take us back a bit. The reason we are here is because two men died, and I want us to know who they were. Gary’s daughter Myrissa wrote this for me to share: “Gary was 51 when he was involved in the ice water training exercise.... Everything he did in life was for his family.... When he joined the Point Edward fire department he was beyond happy because it was something he could do to not only help protect his community, but it was something he could do to give back.”

Adam Brunt’s father, Al, shared this on behalf of their family: “Adam was our second child, born on January 31, 1985. He touched many lives in his 30 years.... He was unique, with his own style sense.... He was daring and fun-loving, always looking for new challenges....

“Adam ... wanted to be a firefighter,” like his uncle, “a career in which he could dedicate his life to helping others. He had never been happier in school than when he was doing the firefighting program at Durham College. Adam had found his calling....

“We can only imagine the things he would have done if he was still with us.”

Both men died under similar tragic circumstances five years apart. Gary Kendall’s family called for an inquest after his death in 2010 but there wasn’t one. Instead, there was another death five years later and another family grieving.

Like many firefighter hopefuls, Adam wanted to gain experience and pad his resumé to compete for a job with a fire service. There are many private safety and private rescue courses marketed to firefighter hopefuls, and Adam found a Herschel Rescue course on Facebook and assumed it was legit because others had taken it; however, it was an overnight weekend course with 12 students. On the last run of the second day, all 12 students and the instructor jumped in the Saugeen River and floated down one after another through a narrow, swift-moving section of river between two sides of ice. One by one they emerged through the narrow rapids, bobbing out the other side downriver, but Adam didn’t. When he went through the narrows, he was forced under the water and his exposed strap got caught on underwater metal. The young students had neither the skills nor the equipment to reach or save him. They desperately tried, but it was many minutes before actual firefighters arrived, and then it was not a rescue but a recovery.

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T.J. Thompson was one of the other students on that course, and joins us today. She worked with the other students to try to reach him. She even ran up to the road to flag down passing cars to beg for an ice scraper or an axe or a rope or anything to use to reach him. They had no rescue equipment there. So many things went wrong that day, and nothing has been made right.

Adam was a firefighter trainee; however, he was unprotected, and others continued to be, and here is why. These private companies are unregulated. They do not have to adhere to safety standards or industry best practices. Their homemade certificates mean nothing. Their only value is what the fire services give them at job interviews. It is a “buyer beware” situation. Trainees unfortunately assume that private courses must be legitimate since they are allowed to operate in the province.

Adam was a college student, but he took a private course that was not affiliated with his or any other college. Adam was unprotected by any laws or regulations under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Adam was not yet an actual firefighter, so he was not protected by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. If he had been employed by a fire service, their training would have had to have met safety requirements.

The Ministry of Labour does not have any jurisdiction because these training environments are not technically workplaces and these trainees are not employees.

While these firefighter trainees are learning to keep us safe, we still haven’t figured out how to keep them safe. None of these ministries is technically responsible for these trainees or their safety. This is an area that doesn’t fall under any ministry’s jurisdiction, which makes it, in my way of thinking, all our responsibility, and we can fix this today.

Alex Van Kralingen spoke earlier at our press conference. He was the lawyer for the Kendall family in 2010 and again during this inquest. He has invested much time into pursuing justice and solutions. He has said:

“It is crazy, given everything that we regulate in our everyday lives, that this sort of high-risk and technical firefighting training is not regulated.... The government has the power to fix this problem, and this matter needs to be dealt with now. This is not a partisan issue. Keeping firefighters and pre-service students safe is not controversial.”

Mr. Van Kralingen had the opportunity to speak with the current labour minister when she was the PC critic for the Ministry of Community Safety. In fact, there’s a part of her letter that I would like to share now:

“I am writing to you as the PC critic for community safety to express my support for the jury recommendations arising out of the inquest into the deaths of volunteer firefighter Gary Kendall, and pre-service firefighting student Adam Brunt, both of whom tragically lost their lives during separate training exercises operated by the same unlicensed private company....

“It is clear that establishing clear training standards and regulations along with proper mechanisms of oversight and regulation would prevent further deaths and/or injuries.”

Speaker, I hope that this government will decide to stand up for safety and standards and will pass this bill through to committee.

I would also like to share a part of a letter from Miss Thompson, who, as I mentioned earlier, has been a relentless advocate since Adam’s traumatizing death. She testified for hours at the inquest, and I thank her for her perseverance. She has said:

“I was one of the 12 students training on the swift, icy Saugeen River on February 8 when Adam Brunt was killed. Adam’s death was preventable in many ways and completely unnecessary. Firefighters take risks when there is life and property to be saved and protected. This was training. There was no reason for unnecessary risks. Reasonable precautions for safety were not taken. It was not a sacrifice for another life....

“I call on this government to protect this vulnerable group of inexperienced trainees from unregulated training providers who choose to operate below the best industry practice. They need to be protected.”

Speaker, I have written four letters to government ministers. I have given two members’ statements. I have asked a direct question to the former Premier about regulating this industry. I held a press conference with the families and firefighters to call for an inquest. There has been a police investigation and a Ministry of Labour investigation. I have met with former ministers and their policy folks. We had a two-week inquest in May 2017. My motion to adopt all of the recommendations of the coroner’s inquest jury passed through this House last year with unanimous support. I have introduced this bill twice. I asked another question of this government today and, this afternoon, held another press conference. Now, here we are, deciding finally whether or not to regulate this rogue industry.

When I spoke to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services after question period, he said that I should have told him about it. He had been briefed that it was about an unrelated issue. Well, how can that be possible? I have not surprised anyone. I am not playing “gotcha” with this government. I have sincerely worked to ensure that this bill will pass and become law so that people don’t die.

For the government and the government members who also were not clear about what was in this bill that I tabled back in July: Most private members’ bills require a few lines to solve a specific issue. This bill is unlike any that I have undertaken. I want to thank legislative counsel, Lord love them, and the experts who worked with me line by line for months to get this right.

It is seven pages; it’s essentially government legislation. It is comprehensive framework legislation that gives the responsibility for development and design of courses, their regulation and oversight to the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, where it belongs. It amends various acts and brings all of the pieces relevant to safety and rescue training under their jurisdiction, where it belongs.

Right now, the Minister of Community Safety and I could decide to make a few thousand dollars on a weekend and advertise and offer a course on ropes, swift-water rescue, high-angle rescue—or bungee-jumping rescue, if we want to invent that—and offer it to students, make up what we want to teach, charge whatever we want, cross our fingers that no one is injured, and print off a homemade certificate for them to show a fire chief at a job interview, because all of that is allowed.

This bill changes that. Instructors would need to be licensed, satisfy the fire marshal that they would be teaching a standardized course that is needed in the province, meet basic safety standards during training, and appropriately assess and certify participants through the Office of the Fire Marshal upon completion.

The bill lays out a penalty structure, should something go wrong or if the course instructors do not comply with the rules and standards.

Students would be learning something of identified value and getting something measurable out of it.

All of the students at the inquest said that if there was a legit course offered by the fire marshal, something like what they found on Facebook through this private company, they all would have taken it because they would have known that it was legit. Every safety or rescue training course offered in the province should be registered, regulated and overseen by the province. We should know what we’re teaching and where—in this case, appropriately through the Office of the Fire Marshal, who is already responsible for training curriculum for firefighters. It is the right solution.

Any fine-tuning that the government would suggest, they are welcome to do, and it should happen at committee, to ensure that future trainees are protected.

Gary and Adam are remembered as being men who wanted to keep others safe and protected, and I challenge all of us in this House to endeavour to do the same. We must pass this bill that establishes the framework for licensing, curriculum, regulation, penalties and oversight of the private safety training industry, and keep firefighter trainees safe. We must keep them safe, Speaker, because they would do it for us.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate? I recognize the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Hon. Michael A. Tibollo: I want to thank the member from Oshawa for bringing forward this bill today and giving us this opportunity to debate it.

I’d like to first begin by thanking our brave and hard-working front-line officers, including the many dedicated firefighters across this province, for the tremendous and dangerous work they do to keep our communities safe.

Thank you also to the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their community, their province and their country. Words cannot express how truly grateful all of us are for their service. Our thoughts are with the families and their loved ones today and this month of November and always.

Mr. Speaker, we must do more to protect the hard-working and dedicated men and women of our fire services within this great province. However, there are some serious concerns that may emerge, should the bill be passed in this Legislature in its present form.

During the election campaign, we stated that the status quo had failed. We committed to providing the necessary tools and resources to our dedicated front-line officers, so they would be able to perform their duties safely and effectively.

Our government for the people recently acted to repeal a regulation under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act which would require all firefighters in this province—be it full-time firefighters or volunteer firefighters. We took action to repeal this regulation, based on our consultations with municipalities and their respective fire services. An extraordinary number of these municipalities and fire services voiced their concerns regarding the mandatory certification that was to be implemented in 2019.

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Our government for the people is hard at work to develop the best policy interventions and solutions to help keep our first responders and the many people of this province safe.

As I’ve said before in this Legislature—I believe in July, as reported in Hansard—I welcome any and all members to work with me and discuss how we can best address public safety across the province. Unfortunately, the member from Oshawa did not approach me at any time to discuss how we could work together to address public safety in the province. I hope that in the future this will change. I truly believe that we are all here to make a difference and ensure our communities are safe.

Speaker, I stand here today and support this bill. However, there are some unintended consequences posed to the public safety of the people of this great province. It also places a tremendous burden and pressure on the province’s Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management. This bill that we are debating here today would force the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management to develop minimum safety standards for rescue training courses based on the National Fire Protection Association standards. While the National Fire Protection Association standards are utilized throughout the world, requiring the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management to have the ability to create or adopt minimum safety standards is duplicative of the work that already is provided by National Fire Protection Association standard number 1670.

In addition, there are significant consequences presented within the bill. The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management does not have the authority to accredit training delivery providers to provide certified courses. Furthermore, the number of providers of courses will see an increase, though we will not know to what extent this increase will be. In other words, the Office of the Fire Marshal does not currently have the resources to implement the proposed certification contained within the bill.

I’d like to thank the member for bringing this bill up for debate here in the Legislature this afternoon. As Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, I must do what is right to ensure the safety and security of the great people of this province as well as our hard-working and dedicated emergency responders and front-line officers. Notwithstanding the consequences associated with this bill, I support this piece of legislation here today. I hope that in committee it can be streamlined to fulfill its intent in not creating any unwarranted consequences.

Our government for the people is continuing to ensure public safety across the province. As I’ve stated many times before in this Legislature, public safety is of paramount concern to our government.

At the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference, our government heard, loud and clear, about how many of the province’s fire services were being unfairly burdened by the previous government’s legislation. We’re working hard to correct these pieces of legislation so that we continue to ensure public safety across the province. Ontarians deserve to feel confident in the safety of themselves and their families. I can assure all members of the Legislature that we will continue to work hard to keep all Ontarians safe.

Again, I’d like to thank the member for bringing this bill before the Legislature this afternoon. I truly hope that in the spirit of working for the best interests of the people of this province, we can collaborate and speak about these things early on as opposed to waiting for the last minute.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mr. John Vanthof: It’s an honour to be able to rise today, on behalf of the NDP caucus on the Brunt and Kendall Act.

First of all, I’d like to express our condolences to their families and to their friends, and our respect for the work you have done since to help protect others.

Everyone in this House has been elected because they want to represent people. They want to do good things for people, regardless of party. Having been in this House since 2011, I fully realize that. This is a partisan place. We disagree with each other on a lot of issues.

There’s a habit in this place of saying, “the magnificent work done by member such-and-such.” I’m not always in that habit, but you could not have a better member to drive an issue forward than the member for Oshawa. She listed the things that she has done to push this issue forward.

I commend the minister and his members for, compared to what we heard this morning, recognizing and changing the direction. But to say that the member for Oshawa—that this was a last-minute thing, is incorrect. Since the election, you’ve been very busy—I can understand that—with the change of government. But this issue has been before this House for a long time. And because of the severity of this issue, it has tugged at our heartstrings for a long time. It’s one of those where you wonder why it wasn’t acted on before.

As with any legislation, will there be problems to try to get it done? I have full faith that the member for Oshawa has gone above and beyond what any opposition member would do to make sure that this legislation would work, knowing the member. I don’t always agree with the member for Oshawa, but having been on the other side of the table sometimes from the member of Oshawa, I know she does her homework.

So this isn’t a last-minute issue.

One of the things the minister said was that the fire marshal would be forced to create minimum safety standards and that would cause grief for the fire marshal’s office, maybe because the fire marshal’s office needs more support. But right now, for people who aren’t firefighters yet and who want to be trained to do the best job they can to save other people’s lives—these are the people who run toward danger while we are running away, and the people are looking for that training because they want to do that. I commend firefighters and anyone who wants to be a firefighter, whether they’re professional or volunteer. They’re the people who want to do that. The fact that there is no minimum safety standard at all currently in this province for someone who wants to take that training—that is not something that we can, in all good conscience, leave on the table. We cannot leave that on the table. The fact that that has been left on the table is a travesty. The fact that we lost one—one is one too many—but the fact that we lost two, that two families had to lose precious lives because we have no minimum standard, no standard at all.

We’ve just had a change of government. This is an issue that—I thank the minister for his support. I’m hoping that the government does support this bill. This bill has to go to committee, and this has to get done. It is fully within your power to get this done.

I know it’s often said, “Oh, this is a partisan issue”; this one isn’t. For the families who might not know, there are lots of political issues in firefighting. We know that. The minister described some of them. This one really isn’t. We know that people who take that training currently—and there might be good training spots and bad training spots, but there’s no minimum standard. When you have no minimum, you have a problem.

Can you imagine, Speaker, if at some point a third family has to go through what those two families have gone through because we are worried that the fire marshal might not have the resources to do minimum standards? We have got to do better than that. You have the chance to do better than that. We will fully support your efforts to do better than that in this bill.

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This bill needs to not just pass here today. It needs to go to committee, where it will be fully studied and amended, to make sure it can work and be passed so that for families like that—no one should have to die in vain, but so that their family members didn’t die in vain. We can do this together.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mr. Will Bouma: It’s an honour to rise today in the House to talk about this important private member’s bill, and I want to thank the member from Oshawa for bringing it forward.

I do have to respond on behalf of the minister. It is unfortunate that there wasn’t a lot of direct communication between the member and the ministry regarding this, and I think that’s where these miscommunications come from.

As many of you know, I am a volunteer firefighter in the county of Brant and have been one for the last 10 years.

Bill 10, Brunt and Kendall Act (Ensuring Safe Firefighter and Trainee Rescue Training), 2018, makes amendments to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, and the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005, to implement important measures to provide for the safe training of firefighters and firefighter trainees in rescue and emergency services.

There are thousands of young men and women in Ontario who want to become firefighters. Many of these people seeking employment have to compete with thousands of other candidates vying for the few positions that become available. It’s not easy, and the best way to stand out above the others is to have an impressive resumé with a lot of rescue training. The issue before us today is that we do not have minimum safety standards for these rescue training courses taken by or offered to firefighters or firefighter trainees.

The Brunt and Kendall inquest of 2017 has put the spotlight on this issue. Mr. Adam Brunt, 30, died on February 8, 2015, and Mr. Gary Kendall, 51, died on January 31, 2010, during activities involved in firefighter cold water rescue training. The 30-year-old Adam Brunt drowned in Hanover, Ontario, when his survival suit got caught on a piece of metal underwater, as we heard.

Terri Jo Thompson, one of the five others in the river with Brunt on February 8, 2015, testified that she only learned that their instructor had a knife during the inquest. It’s a piece of equipment that all of the students should have been given, she said, alleging that Brunt might have used it to be able to cut himself free.

“We had nothing in that first five minutes,” she told CBC Toronto. “We had nothing to work with until Hanover Fire [department] brought us tools.”

Speaker, according to the testimony of several witnesses, Brunt was underwater for roughly 15 minutes.

The events leading up to his death and that of firefighter Gary Kendall, who died in a course given by the same company five years earlier, were the subject of the coroner’s inquest.

One of the questions that came up repeatedly throughout the inquest was why private companies offering the arduous ice and water rescue courses are not regulated by the province.

That’s why I will be supporting this private member’s bill, and I encourage every member in the House to do so today.

I want to mention a couple of key items that this bill will do.

The fire marshal will be required to develop and maintain minimum safety standards for rescue training courses taken by or offered to firefighters or firefighter trainees. The bill sets out requirements respecting the development of the minimum safety standards that the fire marshal is required to meet.

The fire marshal must publish the minimum safety standards on the website of the Office of the Fire Marshal. It requires that a committee of subject matter experts be established to conduct reviews of the minimum safety standards, and to make recommendations respecting any necessary changes.

The fire marshal is required to respond to recommendations and make any necessary changes to the minimum safety standards.

The bill also provides for the certification by the fire marshal of rescue training courses to meet minimum safety standards.

All of this is good. These changes are needed and will protect firefighter trainees and firefighters down the road from potential accidents.

Again, thank you to the member from Oshawa for bringing this important bill forward today.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to be a firefighter all my life. When I was 18, our hoof trimmer on the dairy farm was going to get me into London full-time. He said, “You’re a big guy and you’re strong.” My brother said I had the brains to go to university and I needed to do that instead. Look where it brought me.


Mr. Gilles Bisson: Boy, you’re really slumming it now.

Mr. Will Bouma: Absolutely. Bad company corrupts good morals.

But I still get such a thrill out of riding in the red trucks, and I know exactly what those young men wanted to do. And I understand: I’ve been to the testing—2,000 guys out in a place in Hamilton, and they’re taking 10 to 20 people. It’s so competitive, and you’ll do anything to get that edge.

I know how these companies are able to stay in business. That’s not painting them all with the same brush; I don’t mean to do that at all. But I think it’s time that we stood up for these young men and women who are so driven to protect our people. I think we need to pass this legislation today.

To the families who have come: Thank you so much for being here. I offer my sincerest condolences for your loss. I know what drove them, and it is the greatest feeling in the world to be running towards something that other people are running away from. Thank you for being here today. I really appreciate it.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’m glad to be able to speak to this motion. I just want to echo something my colleague from Timiskaming–Cochrane said, and I think it needs to be said, which is that the member did her homework on this. It’s not as if this is something that came out of nowhere. She has been working on this issue for years. She has been dealing with the families and firefighters in order to be able to rectify what is a really tragic situation that was allowed to happen. It’s something that we can do to fix it.

I want to draw members’ attention: We’re all wearing poppies here. We’re wearing poppies because we are respecting and saluting those who served in our Canadian Armed Forces over the years, some of whom gave their lives, some of whom served and came back. Imagine if we were in a situation today where we were talking about an initiative in order to support our veterans when it comes to the equipment that they need to do their job in the field.

I was a soldier; I was a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment. I was a very fortunate individual because I lived in a country called Canada that had the Canadian Armed Forces that provided the equipment and the training to the soldiers that we trained. It was known at the time, and it’s probably still known today, that the Canadian Armed Forces were the best-trained forces in the world. Alexander Haig—I remember listening to him at a parade I was at one year—said, “Give me the Canadian soldier and give me the American equipment, and I can take it all over”—as a joke.

But the point was, we provided the supports to our soldiers so that they could be trained, go in harm’s way on behalf of their nation and do their job. We not only trained them; we provided them with the equipment.

Why would we, as a Legislature, not do the same thing for the people who rush into fires in order to take us out of harm’s way? Why don’t we provide the training and the support to those who are putting their lives on the line, to make sure that if a tragedy happens to us, we’re made safe?

I never wanted to be a firefighter, because I’m a bit of a coward, to be honest. I don’t want to run into a burning building. Don’t ask me why I went into the Armed Forces—that doesn’t make any sense. But my point is, I chose not to. But to those men and women who decide to go, we owe them everything.

For the Solicitor General to say that maybe the fire marshal can’t do it right now because of circumstance or whatever—poppycock. We can do anything we want in this Legislature. We’re not talking about billions of dollars here. We’re talking about setting up a regulatory standard that is enforceable, so that those who are being trained to run into situations to save us when we’re in harm’s way have the training and the support they need to be able to do their jobs and not unnecessarily put their lives at risk in that training. If we can’t do that, as a minimum, I think it reflects badly on all of us.

I get a sense that there’s a bit of a change of mood here in the House today. We started the day and it didn’t look as if the government was going to support this initiative. It looks as if it’s going the other way, and I’m glad that’s the case.

We owe it to those people who are out there every day, who never know, when the bell rings, what they’re going to run into. That might be their last day. If it is their last day, for those of us who survive and for the colleagues they work with—they’re prepared to make the sacrifice, but let it not be a sacrifice in vain because we did not train them well, we did not support them well and we did not do the things that had to be done in order to make sure that they have everything they need when it comes to being able to do their job.

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With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for this time in debate.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate? Further debate? Then I turn to the member from Oshawa for her—

Interjections.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Then I assume you have two minutes plus two minutes.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: I’d like to thank my colleagues around the Legislature, the members who spoke during this debate and discussion. I, again, would like to thank the families and safety advocates who have been to Queen’s Park, now, a lot of times for three and a half years. So thank you very much for your support and your guidance.

I think it’s important for this government and this House to do the right thing, because it is about basic safety and creating a system to ensure that rogue enterprise can’t operate in this province and endanger our future first responders and our future firefighters. This bill has been a labour of love born out of loss. There was a lot of emotional and expert input that went into its creation, and the solutions are the right fit in order to pass the bill to committee.

I appreciate the comments from the Minister of Community Safety. He is not wrong in his comments about the capacity of the Office of the Fire Marshal and emergency management. As it stands now, they do not have the capacity or the resources to enact all that is in this piece of legislation.

But that’s where it will come out in committee because, I’ll be honest, what happened—taking us back in history—with the last government is, we were beating our heads against the wall, trying to get somewhere and having meetings with assurances that this would move forward and it was a priority of the government. It got to the end of the session and I realized I was going to have to do it myself.

So along with legislative counsel, the families and experts, we drafted that legislation on behalf of the government. We literally wrote what could have been government legislation, creating a structure and hoping for that capacity and the resources, to the minister’s point, for the Office of the Fire Marshal—because it didn’t belong. These individuals didn’t belong to any ministry. We came up with a solution that could work.

So it is a really strong piece of legislation, but I will absolutely admit that should this bill go to committee, it’s going to take a fair bit of time, because someone has to be responsible, someone does have to take this on. We felt that the Office of the Fire Marshal was the right place, but it is very involved. It is sticky and tricky, and that is why it took us so darn long to come up with that piece of legislation. But it deserves a fair shake in committee. By the way, a heads-up, it won’t be one to time-allocate; it’s going to take the time.

This bill really has been my privilege to work on. I am sorry that the government felt surprised by it, but at the same time, as I outlined, this has been a long time coming. It has been on the order paper. I gave a full heads-up that it was coming; I haven’t been hiding it. Maybe that’s an internal look for folks who are watching our bill.

Some of them are going to be worthwhile and worth embracing and considering, so thank you for giving the opportunity to me and to the families today to have this bill move forward. I thank the minister for his support on this initiative. I hear him and believe him when he talks about prioritizing public safety. This is the perfect opportunity to bring all of those minds to the table and ensure that it happens.

Again, thank you to the family, and thank you, Speaker.

CHILD CARE AND EARLY YEARS AMENDMENT ACT (NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATIONS), 2018 / LOI DE 2018 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LA GARDE D’ENFANTS ET LA PETITE ENFANCE (ORGANISATIONS SANS BUT LUCRATIF)

Ms. Begum moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 45, An Act to amend the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 to limit funding of child care and early years programs and services to not-for-profit corporations / Projet de loi 45, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2014 sur la garde d’enfants et la petite enfance pour limiter aux organisations sans but lucratif le financement des programmes et des services pour la garde d’enfants et la petite enfance.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for her presentation.

Ms. Doly Begum: Speaker, I’m pleased to rise today to debate Bill 45, an act to provide quality child care for Ontario families. Although this is the first time I have introduced this bill, I must recognize two fierce women leaders for inequality of child care who have introduced this bill, or a version of this bill, before me. First it was our leader, the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, Andrea Horwath. Later it was introduced by my colleague and our former critic for child care, the member for Waterloo, Catherine Fife. Today, as we debate this bill once again, with new members in the House and a new government, I truly hope that this government will be on the side of the parents and Ontario families and support this bill.

Mr. Speaker, our children are our future. Providing quality child care is not only an investment for our future but it is a necessity for the growth of Ontario, strengthening our province. Quality child care is an economic priority to strengthen our families and build this great province for the better.

Child care is an economic issue that is at the core of this province’s ability to allow for a strong workforce. If you want to talk about jobs: Without quality child care, working parents will not be able to go back to their jobs. If you want to talk about helping families: Without affordable child care, parents are forced to compare how much they earn versus the cost of child care spaces, and sometimes the cost of a child care space is higher than the parents’ income.

Parents in Ontario pay the highest child care fees in this nation. A 2017 report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that the average monthly cost of full-day child care for infants in Toronto can be as high as $1,758; in Mississauga, $1,452 per month; in Vaughan, $1,415 per month. How is a family supposed to pay for that? Are they going to pay for their rent or for child care? Speaker, as far as I know, it’s hard enough to pay for one mortgage. This is like a second mortgage for families.

The cost of child care is not the only issue. The wait time to get a space is the longest in Ontario for subsidized child care. There are only enough licensed child care spaces in Ontario for one in five children. This bill would mean the opportunity for many non-profit child care centres to be able to be equipped to serve more Ontario families.

I also want to point out that helping non-profit child care providers means creating good jobs for many early childhood educators. Earlier this year, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association shared their research and opinions. I want to highlight some key points from their submission because they really touched the right chords with this argument in terms of quality as well as the workers in this important profession:

“The government must ... ensure that the early childhood educators (ECEs) who are tasked with supporting young learners are compensated fairly.

“The benefits of investing in integrated early childhood development are many, and have proven to increase equity in learning outcomes, reduce poverty, and create a strong foundation for lifelong learning.... In fact, educators, academics, and business leaders agree that targeted investments in early childhood education and care (ECEC) are one of the most effective uses of” our tax dollars. “These investments yield both short- and long-term returns for children and society as a whole.”

The teachers’ association also noted, “It is critical to remember that ECEC must not be driven by ‘bottom-line’ economics—doing so shifts the focus toward profitability, and away from optimizing children’s development. Currently, roughly 26% of licensed ECEC spaces are run by for-profit enterprises.” The association marks this as a concern.

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Research indicates that in both Canada and abroad—for example, in Australia—for-profit child care models are consistently associated with a lower quality of early childhood educators, education, and care due to lower staff-to-child ratios, lower wages for staff, and lower levels of specialized training for caregivers. I want to emphasize to all the members in this House that this conclusion has been drawn from years of research from various parts of the world and from various experts in child care.

Mr. Speaker, any move towards privatized child care is extremely dangerous. We cannot and should not be making money off the backs of our children, and we cannot and should not allow big-box corporations, Walmart-like corporations, to make money off the backs of our children.

Child care advocates have argued for years and years that for-profit providers offer lower-quality child care services, fail to provide specialized care, and do not serve low-income families. Then why should we give government funding to big-box, for-profit child care providers who are there for the money and not for our children?

There is plenty of evidence to show that we need to help our child care providers. It’s time to act for better and more affordable child care spaces for our children.

Speaker, this morning I was pleased to invite parents and children—some adorable children—to this House, as well as some child care advocates and some ECEs and ECE students, all of whom support this bill. They talked with me about the quality of care that’s provided in non-profit child care, as well as the job quality for ECEs in those child care spaces.

Given the social and economic benefits for our families, for ECEs and, most importantly, for our children, the government has an obligation to help provide affordable child care for our children.

Mr. Speaker, for any parent, leaving their most precious one, even for a few hours a day, can be daunting. But for thousands of moms and dads in Ontario who are working hard to put food on the table, a safe, quality space with the best care and best standards for our children can be the only hope to go back to work and continue to provide for their families.

It’s quite clear. For years, we have heard from parents, caregivers, early years and child care providers, employers, municipalities, school boards, experts and the public about the need for and importance of quality care for our young ones.

Ontario families want access to quality child care spaces, and we as policy makers should be able to do just that. We should be able to take bold steps so that parents in this province can feel at peace leaving their children in a child care space that’s safe.

The former Liberal government had failed to recognize this for about 14 years, until it was election time. Just a year before, pushed by the Ontario NDP, they finally listened to experts and parents and to prioritize affordable child care. But it was too late for them.

I hope that this government will recognize this sooner. The Conservative government’s quiet cancellation of the for-profit maximum threshold is a step backward that puts Ontario at risk and our children’s future in the dark. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Parents have suffered for far too long. We can make quality child care more available and more affordable for families in Ontario now. We can do better; I know we can.

If you care for our families, if you care for our workers and if you care for our children, then every member in this House should support Bill 45, which will provide quality child care for Ontario families.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Miss Christina Maria Mitas: It is my pleasure to stand before you today to speak against Bill 45. This act aims to ensure that government funding is not provided for child care and early years programs unless they are not-for-profit corporations. This move comes as hundreds of child care spots are sitting unfilled in Toronto’s privately-owned day cares and as thousands are sitting on their waiting lists because they are parents on subsidy who cannot afford to place their children in the programs they want without assistance from the government.

The NDP claim to be about helping people thrive, but the member from Scarborough Southwest is moving to block parents from choosing the best child care options for their individual children.

Education is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking. A holistic education approach is one that takes the whole learner into consideration and tailors their education according to their individual needs. Limiting the choices available to Ontario’s parents is prescriptive and pushes families to make difficult decisions regarding juggling their family resources—which are already in short supply for many of our province’s families—in order to make the right decisions for their children.

In addition to the negative effects on parents and children, small business owners, who are overwhelmingly female in this sector, are being hurt by these changes as they simply try to provide high-quality child care options to the people of Ontario.

To wrap this up, I’m going to address a question that I received from the member for Toronto–St. Paul’s when she asked me if I was a lawyer, as she questioned whether I was qualified to speak on a private member’s bill regarding the auto insurance rates earlier. While I find her question and her premise to be offensive and inappropriate, I’m going to speak to it and say that I’m not a lawyer. I’m a teacher. I’ve studied leadership and policy in education as a graduate student at Canada’s number one education institution, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and I’m an expecting mother. This is my background, and I’m here to tell the members opposite—


Ms. Jill Andrew: I’m a teacher of—

Miss Christina Maria Mitas: Great, but that’s your background—I am no more qualified than any Ontarian who cares about educating our children to speak on this matter. This government is here for all people, and we will ensure that no voice is left out of a conversation because someone like the NDP—which is now apparently the arbiters of qualification—thinks that their point of view is not valuable.

As an Ontarian, full stop, I know that this bill would disadvantage our children, our parents and our small business owners. I firmly stand against it.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: I want to start by thanking my colleague the member from Scarborough Southwest for introducing this bill, and for her excellent explanation of why this bill is important.

Speaker, I had the opportunity a few years ago to be the education critic for the Ontario NDP, which I have to say was a learning experience all on its own. I had an opportunity to talk at length with those who worked in the child care sector, people who had studied child care around the world, people who were familiar with those policy directions that actually made a difference in the lives of children and a difference in the lives of families.

I also have to say that, as an MPP in an area that has gone through substantial demographic change in the last 12 years, I’ve seen a community that increasingly is home to young families for whom the affordability of, availability of and quality of child care is a major issue. So this bill that’s been brought forward by my colleague from Scarborough Southwest is really critical.

There is no doubt that when you look at the literature assessing the quality of the child care that is provided, non-profit care is overwhelmingly superior to private care. It is very simple: If you have to take a chunk of operating costs and move it over into profit, less is available for the children, for the child care workers, for the operation overall. There is just no two ways about it. To the extent that we set things up so that big-box child care centres can come in and operate in a way that provides care at a lower level of quality, we are putting forward a disservice to the children and families of this province.

Interestingly, a few years ago, the Auditor General of Ontario—not looking at child care quality at the time—looked at the quality of education in private schools in Ontario. Uniformly across this province, our public school system produced higher-quality education outcomes than private schools, because the money in the schools goes into the children, goes into the education, and not into somebody’s pocket.

If you look at the United States, where you see a proliferation of private and charter schools, where, again, the money is drawn out of the system and goes to those private operators who are making a buck off of it, the quality of education in that system is not the same as we have here, in a fully publicly funded education system.

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I urge the government to rethink the position they’ve taken, because the position they’ve taken opposing this bill is one that will guarantee great trouble for parents and children in the years to come.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mr. Mike Harris: There has been a lot of talk just in the last couple of minutes about qualification for people to be able to speak to bills. Well, Mr. Speaker, I have five children—one of them happens to be here today—so I think I’m in a pretty good position to be able to speak to this.

It has been a top priority of our government to make life more affordable for everyday Ontarians. That is why this past summer, our government opened up new child care spaces for working Ontario families by removing the for-profit threshold. This was a Liberal government measure which limited the ability of for-profit providers to access public child care funding. As a father of five, I know how important it is to access quality child care for working families across this province.

The Waterloo region includes a vibrant tech sector and world-class universities and colleges. These have attracted many young families with children who need affordable and high-quality child care. Above all, these parents want choice. They want what is best for their kids.

Allow me to break this down further for those who may be listening at home: Under current regulations, based on income level, parents can receive partial or full fee subsidies for child care. Two years ago, the Liberal government put in place restrictions through the for-profit threshold, which capped for-profit funding at a previous year’s level and prioritized funding for the not-for-profit centres.

Why was this the wrong move? For starters, the government should not be dictating to parents where their child care dollars are best spent. Such a policy robs Ontario’s hard-working parents of the opportunity to find the best child care for their kids, and it robs the market of the opportunity to provide the best possible child care for Ontario families.

Our government’s policy is a win-win for Ontario families and child care providers. What the member representing Scarborough Southwest is proposing is not a step forward; it is a step backwards. It seems that the opposition member wants the previous government’s trend of reducing child care access to continue.

Bill 45 amends the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 so that corporations are not eligible to receive funding for child care and early years programs unless they are a not-for-profit corporation. Why the favouritism, Mr. Speaker? Why the restriction? By removing the Liberal for-profit threshold on fee subsidies, our government is opening up more child care spaces for low-income families. And what does the opposition want to do? They want to take these additional spaces away from low-income families.

During question period on September 19, the member representing Scarborough Southwest stated: “We know that the biggest issue in the child care sector is the lack of affordable, high-quality, safe child care spaces.” Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? I agree with the member. But my question is, why does the opposition member contradict her own position by introducing this bill?

Interjection.


Mr. Mike Harris: Mr. Speaker, it’s not out of context.

I am not going to be supporting this bill. As a father of five, I know what it’s like to bring children up in this current economy. I want to see more spaces open for children, and I want to see more choice for parents.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you. I did have the privilege of meeting your young son at lunch. Welcome to the chamber this afternoon.

Further debate?


Ms. Marit Stiles: First of all, I want to start by thanking the member for Scarborough Southwest for bringing forward this really important legislation.

Also, as the critic for the official opposition of education, I want to reiterate what many others among my colleagues have already said about the amount of research and study that is being done in this area that speaks to the importance of the non-profit sector providing that child care. I’m going to speak more about that now.

If there’s one thing that I think we can all agree on, it is that there is nothing more important than ensuring the safety and well-being of our children. As we all know, Ontario faces many issues around the child care sector, especially though with the lack of affordability and the lack of availability of safe, quality child care spaces. Ontarians pay the highest child care fees in Canada, with Toronto, where my riding is, having the highest fees in the country at almost $1,800 a month. Ontarians also wait the longest for subsidized child care, and there are only enough licensed child care spaces for one in five children.

Sadly, too many cities in our province are seeing child care fees increase faster than the rate of inflation, by a long shot. Speaker, I can tell you, both as a former school board trustee and as a parent myself who was a working parent for my children’s entire lives and relied very much on child care, which I’ll speak about more—but also from speaking to people in my community, canvassing and talking to constituents—that in my riding, access to quality, affordable child care is one of the number one issues facing parents and grandparents; I want to add grandparents and other guardians, as well. As of 2017, Toronto had approximately 37,000 child care spaces licensed, and that’s only enough for 31% of Toronto children. Parents in my riding are left waiting on long waiting lists for years in order to access spaces, and then pay a huge part of their monthly income on skyrocketing fees.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to speak very briefly about my own experience as a working parent of two children. My partner and I both moved from Newfoundland to Toronto many years ago. We had no family here. Like so many people who come to this city, we had no family. When we had our children, we both had to work to afford to live and to provide them with even the most basic things. I’ll tell you, we were on waiting lists for both of our children for well over a year, which is nothing compared to what people now have to wait to get into those same spaces. But if it had not been for the fact that we had a safe, accessible—I’m not going to call it affordable, because it wasn’t—child care space for our kids, we could not have done what we did. We could not have raised our children here. What made it work every single day was the quality care provided by those early childhood educators, and that’s because they were unionized, they were paid decently and they were in a non-profit environment. It was excellent.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Ms. Christine Hogarth: I’d like to thank the member from Scarborough Southwest for providing us the opportunity to discuss this important issue of child care. I know that it’s an issue that was top of mind for many families in Etobicoke–Lakeshore when I was knocking on doors during the campaign.

Our government was elected because we listened to families across the province telling us they could not afford more of the same types of policies that were put forward by the previous government, and they certainly could not afford the policies put forward by the NDP. Our government has been working since day one when we were elected to help reduce the burden on Ontario’s families. One way we are doing so is to provide greater access to a provincial child care subsidy.

Mr. Speaker, I’m sure many members in this Legislature know the difficulty of trying to find child care space for their children. Many families have to wait a year. They actually put their names on a list when they become pregnant, although there are hundreds of spaces available right here in Toronto.

Under the previous Liberal government, families who needed the provincial subsidy had the additional stress of needing to ensure that the child care option they chose would be covered by the subsidy. That’s right: The previous Liberal government placed a cap on the amount of money that families would receive through the provincial subsidy if the family’s child was attending a daycare outside the not-for-profit sector. Even if someone’s income may have qualified for support, the previous government decided that they were deserving of less support than others.

Our government took quick action to help alleviate this unfair burden by removing that cap on subsidies. This means that as long as your income meets the requirement for provincial support, it doesn’t matter what kind of licensed child care you enrol your child in. Removing the cap has allowed more families in need of provincial funding support to get access to child care.

The bill proposed by the member opposite would reduce the number of child care spaces available to the public most in need of those spaces. Mr. Speaker, through you I would ask: What is the point of a government subsidy for child care if the people who need to use it are not able to find child care to use it on? This bill would not just return Ontario back to the days of the previous government; this bill would go further than even the Liberals wanted to go by eliminating any subsidy for any child care that is outside the not-for-profit sector.

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Mr. Speaker, Ontario parents deserve to have a subsidy that they can actually use. There are many reasons why a family may not be able to rely on not-for-profit child care, such as a lack of available child care spaces through the non-profit sector or because the non-profit options do not allow them to make the choice that fits the needs of their family. I strongly believe, and the people of my community believe, that parents deserve that choice and that flexibility.

Our government stands by parents. Our government respects the right for parents to choose their form of child care.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: It is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to this bill from the MPP for Scarborough Southwest. Thank you for bringing the debate around child care onto the floor of this Legislature. I think it is extremely important that we talk about our children and how the decisions that we’re making here affect them.

There’s nothing that is more important than the decisions that we make around children and the future of this province. They’re just absolutely fundamental and important. When we think about the debate around child care, it reminds me of a time that I was Minister of Education and really looking at Ontario’s education system and recognizing that it is a world-regarded system of education. Thousands of people from around the world, in fact, come to Ontario to learn from our systems, our educators and our boards.

But I have to tell you that there is one area, even amongst the OECD countries and comparators, even in the US, where we can and need to do better in Ontario, and that is in the area of early childhood education. Looking at how we can make those improvements was something that the former government made a priority because it was one of those things that we knew we wanted to tackle. We had already done full-day kindergarten, where all four- and five-year-olds had the opportunity to enter school at the same time, regardless of socio-economic background or experience. We saw the benefits of that early learning. We wanted to take it a step further and look at child care early learning as the next opportunity.

That is exactly what we did. In our budget in March 2018, we put a policy in the budget that would begin as of September 2020, where all preschoolers would have access to free public child care; and that would be consistent across the province, regardless of background.

I remember a young mother—she was actually going to be having twins. She said, “My goodness.” Looking forward to her two-year-old becoming part of this public system was something that she welcomed, because it would allow her family to make choices.

We know that when we invest in child care, we’re actually unlocking the economic potential of our province. Some of the benefits that would ensue to the children themselves:

—their own readiness for learning, giving them the best chance and the best start at life. The academic outcomes are better;

—reducing income inequality. That is a big area. If I had more time, I would talk about my own experience in Scarborough–Guildwood, where I work with families that struggle with income inequality; also

—boosting women’s economic opportunity and choice, their choice to participate in the labour market. We know that the bulk of the responsibility for child care often rests on the woman.

It is important as we have this debate to look at the full range of opportunities, access, quality, choice and affordability. I want to say to my colleagues who are here that one size does not always fit all. Oftentimes, when we table, allow room for this bill to go forward to committee to explore deeper, to hear from experts and others about this policy and how it will have an impact across the board.

To my colleagues opposite: Make sure you give the space to hear the other side, because you don’t have all the answers. Giving this bill some consideration, even if you think it needs to be changed, is an opportunity.

I just want to say in closing, Speaker, that there is no greater investment that we can make than in our early years learning for children, early childhood education. We can’t forget about those who work in the system as well, who need this investment, who need this improvement.

I just want to thank the member from Scarborough Southwest for giving us a chance to talk about early learning—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you. Further debate?

Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you to the member for Scarborough Southwest for introducing this important bill.

The child care system in University–Rosedale and in Toronto and Ontario is not working, in so many ways. I have many women friends who have given up their careers because it’s hard to go to work just to pay someone else to raise your kids. I have a neighbour, a working mom, a single mom, who shares a room with her seven-year-old son because she can’t afford to move out and rent her own apartment, because she has to pay the bills and the rent and the child care costs so that she can continue to work as a secretary.

I know many parents who cannot find a daycare spot exactly where they need it and when they need it, so they spend upwards of three hours a day doing multiple drop-offs to get to the daycare spot that’s available for them.

I also find it so heartbreaking that the child care workers whom I know cannot afford, on their chronically underpaid wages, to access the child care that they provide to other parents.

In our child care system, there is a lot to fix. But instead of making child care more affordable, the Conservatives are taking us from bad to worse by opening the door to permit more big businesses to take over our child care sector and take on the job of raising our children.

This government wants to increase the amount of government funding that goes to companies that are traded on the stock exchange, that create low-wage jobs and that have high staff turnover so they can cut costs so that shareholders can profit more.

Letting big-box child care businesses take over child care will not make child care more affordable and will not help those parents that I talked about earlier.

We believe that companies shouldn’t profit off the job of raising our children. That’s why there are better solutions that you should look towards, such as increasing the number of affordable and public and non-profit child care spots available, increasing government funding so child care can be cheaper for parents, and increasing the wages of child care workers so they can also have a chance of putting their kids in quality child care.

That is the way to fix child care. I encourage you to look at those options.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mrs. Gila Martow: The member from Scarborough Southwest is putting forward a private member’s bill today to amend the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, to limit funding of child care and early years programs and services to not-for-profit corporations.

Obviously, “profit” is a very dirty word to the New Democratic Party. That’s what is very clear today.


Interjection: Shame.

Mrs. Gila Martow: It is quite shameful, actually.

We’ve talked here about the nanny state. I think that they really give new meaning to that today in the debate: that the state knows better, that parents should have no choice and no say, and that parents actually don’t even have the ability and the intellectual capability to decide what’s best for their child.

The Liberals actually put restrictions on daycares. We removed restrictions. Now the NDP want to put on restrictions, multiplied.

We see that there is a crisis across Ontario. We see the affordability issues in Toronto. In rural Ontario, they have another added problem, which is that they have distances to travel. The Liberals made it very difficult for people to operate home daycares, with all of their restrictions. There often aren’t large daycare centres in rural Ontario, for obvious reasons, and people have to travel far distances. It makes it impossible.

We know that it’s the women who often have the difficulties when they can’t find child care. We know that a lot of people like co-ops and different types of choices in daycare. In my riding of Thornhill, we have a lot of for-profit, faith-based early childhood programs and daycares as well. They complain about all the restrictions and the rules. They had to spend thousands of dollars putting in bigger windows, they were told, because of some new rules that the Liberals brought in. Then they were told that because of privacy issues, they have to put blinds on those windows. They’re really quite frustrated.

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I just want to say, Mr. Speaker, that we keep hearing from the NDP that daycares should not be profiting off of our children. Well, we have long-term-care facilities that are for-profit that are fantastic. We have businesses. We have food providers. Somehow, that’s all—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you.

Further debate?


Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: I rise today on behalf of my constituents in Parkdale–High Park and as a parent to speak in favour of Bill 45, An Act to amend the Child Care and Early Years Act, brought forward by my friend and colleague the member from Scarborough Southwest.

Speaker, we must say no to further privatization of child care and yes to putting children first, ahead of profits and ahead of big business.

There’s a child care desert in our province, certainly in my riding of Parkdale–High Park. What do I mean by “a desert”? I mean that in my riding there are three children for every licensed child care spot. Parents are being placed on impossible wait lists. Some 95% of all child care locations in Toronto have wait lists, some of which take years, by which time children may be too old for organizations to want them.

Even when a spot does open up, it is expensive and unaffordable. It costs an average family $20,000 a year to put an infant in child care. Most families don’t even come close to being able to afford this. Other provinces have made child care affordable and accessible, so why can’t we? Child care costs $17 a day in Manitoba and $7 a day in Quebec. Here in Ontario, we are forcing Ontarians to pay over $100 a day—10 times what Quebec pays per child. This is wrong.

Privatization—putting profits before children’s well-being—is not the answer. Recently, the Ford government removed the for-profit threshold. Now there is no longer a limit on how much of our public money is channelled into corporatized child care spaces. The Ontario government should be moving towards universal child care; instead, they’re moving backwards.

This bill calls for an end to the government putting money into big-box child care and instead to invest in non-profit spaces. Parents are asking for more affordable child care, and yet this government chooses corporate profit over Ontario’s families.

Studies have shown that non-profit spots provide better care for our children and better wages for our workers. When corporations aren’t chasing profits, they also put more money into training their workers. Over half of all child care workers in Ontario are being paid less than $15 an hour. We are trusting people with our kids, and yet we can’t pay them a living wage.

In my riding of Parkdale–High Park, mothers have chosen to stay home with their children. I say “mothers” because we know women carry most of the caregiving work. Why? Because the math doesn’t add up. They are being forced to spend their entire paycheque on child care.

Right now in Ontario, one in four child care spots are for-profit. This number is too high. Child care should not be a means for profit. It should be provided safely and accessibly by the government.

I urge my colleagues in the House to rethink their position. We owe it to our constituents to make sure their kids are in safe places. Women shouldn’t be—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you.

We’ll return to the member from Scarborough Southwest for her two-minute response.


Ms. Doly Begum: I want to thank all the members for speaking. I should have taken all my time and read the whole bill to the members, because I think some of the members opposite disregarded it, in terms of reading the actual bill itself.

I want to thank the members for speaking to it, because it looks like you do care about providing good child care spaces for our families. But it’s unfortunate that many of the members did not read the subsection of this bill.

The member from Scarborough Centre spoke about the bill and how it’s going to close down a lot of these centres. That is really unfortunate, because in the subsection it clearly states that this bill does not affect any funding that has been entered into before this section comes into force. I just wanted to make that very clear.

Speaker, it’s no secret that all Ontario needs more affordable—

Interjection.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The member for Scarborough Centre is warned.

Ms. Doly Begum: —child care, and yes, that includes rural and urban Ontario, and yes, some of those communities have for-profit providers. Do you know what? I like those too, because those are small businesses. But do you know what will happen to those when you allow big-box child care to open up and take over? Those will be wiped out when the big guys come and bulldoze through, taking over. Big-box child cares only care for the money, and they won’t be letting those home-owned child care and those businesses stay. They will wipe them out. This government cannot be complacent.

During the first years of our kids, their brains develop. It’s the most important time of development for our children. When you buy something, at Walmart for example, there is a return policy. But if something happens to our children, Speaker, there is no return policy on that.

More than anything, if there is one thing we should all invest in, it’s proper care for our children, and quality child care is the only way—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you.

ENDING AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE DISCRIMINATION IN THE GREATER TORONTO AREA ACT, 2018 / LOI DE 2018 METTANT FIN À LA DISCRIMINATION EN MATIÈRE D’ASSURANCE-AUTOMOBILE DANS LE GRAND TORONTO


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): We will deal first with ballot item number 28, standing in the name of Mr. Singh, Brampton East.

Mr. Singh, Brampton East, has moved second reading of Bill 44, An Act to amend the Insurance Act to prevent discrimination with respect to automobile insurance rates in the Greater Toronto Area. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”

All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the nays have it.

I think I went the wrong direction there.


Interjection: You did.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: We’re going to have to vote anyway.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): All right. I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s not the first time.

We will deal with this vote after we have finished the other business.

BRUNT AND KENDALL ACT (ENSURING SAFE FIREFIGHTER AND TRAINEE RESCUE TRAINING), 2018 / LOI BRUNT ET KENDALL DE 2018 (FORMATION SÉCURITAIRE DES POMPIERS ET DES ÉLÈVES POMPIERS EN SAUVETAGE)


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Ms. French has moved second reading of Bill 10, An Act to amend the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 and the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 in relation to rescue and emergency services training for firefighters and firefighter trainees.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Second reading agreed to.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The member from Oshawa will state the committee she wishes this referred to.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: To justice policy, thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Justice policy: Is that agreed? Agreed.

CHILD CARE AND EARLY YEARS AMENDMENT ACT (NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATIONS), 2018 / LOI DE 2018 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LA GARDE D’ENFANTS ET LA PETITE ENFANCE (ORGANISATIONS SANS BUT LUCRATIF)


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Ms. Begum has ordered second reading of Bill 45, An Act to amend the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 to limit funding of child care and early years programs and services to not-for-profit corporations. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I believe I heard a no.

All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”

All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1600 to 1605.

ENDING AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE DISCRIMINATION IN THE GREATER TORONTO AREA ACT, 2018 / LOI DE 2018 METTANT FIN À LA DISCRIMINATION EN MATIÈRE D’ASSURANCE-AUTOMOBILE DANS LE GRAND TORONTO


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Mr. Singh, Brampton East, has moved second reading of Bill 44, An Act to amend the Insurance Act to prevent discrimination with respect to automobile insurance rates in the Greater Toronto Area. All those in favour, please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

Andrew, Jill

Armstrong, Teresa J.

Begum, Doly

Bell, Jessica

Berns-McGown, Rima

Bisson, Gilles

Burch, Jeff

French, Jennifer K.

Glover, Chris

Hassan, Faisal

Hunter, Mitzie

Karpoche, Bhutila

Mantha, Michael

Miller, Paul

Morrison, Suze

Natyshak, Taras

Rakocevic, Tom

Shaw, Sandy

Singh, Gurratan

Singh, Sara

Stiles, Marit

Tabuns, Peter

Vanthof, John

Yarde, Kevin


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): All those opposed, please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

Anand, Deepak

Baber, Roman

Babikian, Aris

Bailey, Robert

Barrett, Toby

Bouma, Will

Calandra, Paul

Cho, Raymond Sung Joon

Cho, Stan

Clark, Steve

Coe, Lorne

Crawford, Stephen

Cuzzetto, Rudy

Downey, Doug

Dunlop, Jill

Fee, Amy

Fullerton, Merrilee

Gill, Parm

Hardeman, Ernie

Harris, Mike

Hogarth, Christine

Kanapathi, Logan

Karahalios, Belinda

Ke, Vincent

Khanjin, Andrea

Kusendova, Natalia

Lecce, Stephen

Martin, Robin

Martow, Gila

McDonell, Jim

Mitas, Christina Maria

Mulroney, Caroline

Oosterhoff, Sam

Pang, Billy

Parsa, Michael

Phillips, Rod

Piccini, David

Rasheed, Kaleed

Roberts, Jeremy

Romano, Ross

Sabawy, Sheref

Sandhu, Amarjot

Sarkaria, Prabmeet Singh

Scott, Laurie

Simard, Amanda

Skelly, Donna

Smith, Dave

Smith, Todd

Surma, Kinga

Tangri, Nina

Tibollo, Michael A.

Triantafilopoulos, Effie J.

Wai, Daisy

Walker, Bill

Yakabuski, John


The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 24; the nays are 55.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I declare the motion lost.

Second reading negatived.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): There will be 30 seconds, and then we’ll do another vote.

CHILD CARE AND EARLY YEARS AMENDMENT ACT (NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATIONS), 2018 / LOI DE 2018 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LA GARDE D’ENFANTS ET LA PETITE ENFANCE (ORGANISATIONS SANS BUT LUCRATIF)


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Ms. Begum has moved second reading of Bill 45, An Act to amend the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 to limit funding of child care and early years programs and services to not-for-profit corporations. All those in favour, please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

Andrew, Jill

Armstrong, Teresa J.

Begum, Doly

Bell, Jessica

Berns-McGown, Rima

Bisson, Gilles

Burch, Jeff

French, Jennifer K.

Glover, Chris

Hassan, Faisal

Hunter, Mitzie

Karpoche, Bhutila

Mantha, Michael

Miller, Paul

Morrison, Suze

Natyshak, Taras

Rakocevic, Tom

Shaw, Sandy

Singh, Gurratan

Singh, Sara

Stiles, Marit

Tabuns, Peter

Vanthof, John

Yarde, Kevin


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): All those opposed, please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

Anand, Deepak

Baber, Roman

Babikian, Aris

Bailey, Robert

Barrett, Toby

Bouma, Will

Calandra, Paul

Cho, Raymond Sung Joon

Cho, Stan

Clark, Steve

Coe, Lorne

Crawford, Stephen

Cuzzetto, Rudy

Downey, Doug

Dunlop, Jill

Fee, Amy

Fullerton, Merrilee

Gill, Parm

Hardeman, Ernie

Harris, Mike

Hogarth, Christine

Kanapathi, Logan

Karahalios, Belinda

Ke, Vincent

Khanjin, Andrea

Kusendova, Natalia

Lecce, Stephen

Martin, Robin

Martow, Gila

McDonell, Jim

Mitas, Christina Maria

Mulroney, Caroline

Oosterhoff, Sam

Pang, Billy

Parsa, Michael

Phillips, Rod

Piccini, David

Rasheed, Kaleed

Roberts, Jeremy

Romano, Ross

Sabawy, Sheref

Sandhu, Amarjot

Sarkaria, Prabmeet Singh

Scott, Laurie

Simard, Amanda

Skelly, Donna

Smith, Dave

Smith, Todd

Surma, Kinga

Tangri, Nina

Tibollo, Michael A.

Triantafilopoulos, Effie J.

Wai, Daisy

Walker, Bill

Yakabuski, John


The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 24; the nays are 55.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I declare the motion lost.

Second reading negatived.

1610

REPORT, INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I beg to inform the House that the following document was tabled: a report concerning the review of cabinet ministers’ and opposition leaders’ expense claims, complete as of October 31, 2018, from the Office of the Integrity Commissioner.
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