The House met at 0900.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
STRONG MAYORS, BUILDING HOMES ACT, 2022 / LOI DE 2022 POUR DES MAIRES FORTS ET POUR LA CONSTRUCTION DE LOGEMENTS
Resuming the debate adjourned on September 6, 2022, on the motion for third reading of the following bill:
Bill 3, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to special powers and duties of heads of council / Projet de loi 3, Loi modifiant diverses lois en ce qui concerne les pouvoirs et fonctions spéciaux des présidents du conseil.
I want to mention, Speaker, though you, to the government, to my other colleagues in this chamber this morning, something that has been said at committee, I said it at committee; other people said it at committee—I’ll pull up my reading glasses here, because my 50-year-old eyes sometimes fail me: No one asked anybody in our city, in Ottawa, about this bill.
I just want to say rhetorically, off the top, for our collective benefit, would we ever think a piece of legislation is adequate for third reading in this place—a place built by our grandparents, by generations of people who wanted to build a better life for people in this province—if we didn’t actually take a piece of legislation that directly impacted a community for review first?
The mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, has said publicly that he found out about this bill in the media—in the media, Speaker.
I’ve asked business improvement associations at home; I’ve asked community groups at home; I’ve asked advocates of all different kinds at home, all of whom are concerned with issues I hear this government is concerned about: affordable housing; the need to make sure our transit systems work well; the need to make sure that, in particular, our neighbours who are suffering right now in mental health crisis and the opioid crisis—which is ripping a hole through many aspects of our community right now. I hear the government talk about these issues a lot; I commend them for doing so. They’re talking about this bill, in particular, around housing as being important.
But I would ask the government, through you, Speaker, would we ever want to introduce a piece of legislation that would impact a particular municipality or community without talking to them first? I would hope we could get across our party lines and agree that, no, of course we wouldn’t. But that is happening right now. We are at third reading. A bill is being pushed quickly through this chamber—within the rules, I’ll acknowledge, but very quickly compared to how previous Parliaments in this place have worked—and the community I represent has not been consulted.
What is the model for this bill? As I understand it from my friends in government, when I heard this bill being debated in committee with MPP Burch and others, the idea is the mayoralty model in Chicago, the strong-mayor model, which would basically empower a mayor to create their own staff infrastructure to be able to implement budgets. Decisions which have previously been collective hiring decisions—for the head of transit, for the head of auditing processes and budgets—would now solely rest within the mayor’s office. If someone was contacted from Ottawa—the mayor, myself, any of our business or community leaders, labour organizations—if they were asked about this bill, the Chicago bill, which would rest these powers in the office of the mayor, I think the first thing we might have told the government is why this particular model did not work with our light rail transit system in our city, a $2-billion investment in a train that has not worked—not worked through our northern climate; wheels that appeared correct flattened over time; stations that smell of sewer gas; doors that jam and don’t open.
How did we get to this particular issue, and what’s the link to Bill 3 and this particular situation? Non-consultation. A sole-source contract with the Rideau Transit Group. I see a government member shaking their head. Perhaps in debate you can enlighten me as to how I’m wrong.
We worked with you. I say, from my perspective, standing here, from my community, as the MPP for Ottawa Centre, I encouraged you for two years to declare a public inquiry into this failed light rail transit system—failed and failing. After two years of advocacy, not just from me but from people back home, the government agreed to a public inquiry into the system, something we could not convince the mayor of our city to do. The mayor of our city would not declare a judicial inquiry into the light rail transit system despite repeated advocacy locally, but we got this government to agree to it. I congratulated the government at the time for doing it, and we are going to see the fruits of that work relatively soon. But why did we have to do that in the first place? We had to do it in the first place—and this is what I’m learning through disclosure in that inquiry process—because some people, apparently very close to the current mayor’s office, were creating a transit system, the details of which were not disclosed to the public.
Let me tell you about the gravity of that situation. Councillor Catherine McKenney, who represents the Somerset ward—if you’ve been to our beautiful city of Ottawa, that is the downtown core of our city—asked to see a copy of the $5-million-a-month maintenance contract for our LRT system—just the maintenance contract. Under the current public-private partnership agreement signed between the city of Ottawa, the province and the federal government and the Rideau Transit Group, the only way Councillor McKenney could review that contract was in the city solicitor’s office, with the city solicitor looking over her shoulder, without the right to take written notes, without the right to use any digital device to record what was being read. That’s the level of non-transparency we got with stage 1 of the LRT in Ottawa, under a procurement model that, I’m going to tell you, Speaker, and tell my friends in government this morning, resembles very closely what you’re doing with this legislation and how you’ve proposed it and rolled it out.
We desperately need transit in our city. I’m going to talk about housing in my 20 minutes; I’m going to talk about adequate incomes, too; but we desperately need transit in our city that works. There was so much hope and promise when people saw the LRT coming. People in our city were excited to get out of their cars and get on the train. We have a fantastic—as you know, Speaker; I know you’ve been to our city many times—bus system, a dedicated bus-lane system that works well in our city. This was meant to complement that and to do our part in climate action, but we have a system that time and again has often failed to operate.
Thanks to the inquiry we worked really hard for, we’re going to find out exactly what has gone wrong. Given what has been disclosed to date—and I hope the government will agree with me on this—the way in which this LRT system was rolled out was a major problem. Any time you have a non-transparent situation in which elected representatives cannot scrutinize a major infrastructure project to make sure it works correctly, you’re bound for trouble.
Let’s go back to the city of Chicago model that’s inspiring Bill 3. What are people in Chicago saying right now about their experience with this model? I’m hearing a lot of criticism. I’m hearing a lot of people who would actually much rather a collaborative approach to leadership, which is probably why, interestingly enough, our current mayor, Jim Watson, has asked all candidates presenting themselves for office for mayor of the city of Ottawa to promise not to use the powers presented in this bill—not to use veto powers, not to use single-capacity hiring contracts for key positions in our city, either financial or otherwise.
Why would the mayor do that? I think the mayor is doing that, quite frankly—and Mayor Watson has been outspoken on this himself. He and I haven’t always agreed on everything. That’s politics. That’s life. He’s saying very clearly that Ottawa, our city, is at a crossroads right now. We have to make huge investments in major infrastructure to make sure we actually have a city that we are proud of, that we leave to our children and our grandchildren, that will work for our small businesses, that will help people live good and dignified lives. He’s actually bypassing the government at this point. He’s asking the people running for office—presumably because no one in the government has picked up the phone to call him about this—“Please don’t use this legislation.” So, colleagues, if you weren’t inspired to shop this piece of legislation by people in the city of Ottawa, I hope that alarming fact gives you pause for not wanting to rush this through.
Why don’t we take Bill 3—I’ll help you. I know how to do town halls. We have a fantastic community in Ottawa that loves to do community organizing. We’ll go across the city—urban, suburban, rural—and talk to people about whether this strong-mayor model will actually help the city, and, as I said off the top, what did our experience with light rail transit teach us about what happens when you have a process that is not transparent, that is not consultative enough?
Let’s talk about housing, because I know the government believes this piece of legislation is going to help build more housing. If you go across Ottawa Centre right now and look at the cranes that are up and look at the projects that are being built, they generally have one thing in common: They are beautiful, tall, glass buildings that are going to be great housing for people who want to downsize from a family home they might have had for 30 or 40 years, to live downtown, to live on transit. It sounds good, right? It checks all the boxes—except we need to look at the price, except when you look at the price of some of the offerings by developers like Claridge or Minto or Trinity Group, highly successful developers who are working very quickly to get projects up and out to market. None of these projects have affordable housing components to them, and that is what we desperately need. In our city, we desperately need more affordable housing—just as I’ve heard the government say everywhere. But, Speaker, I ask the government, through you, if it continues that kind of construction—because I don’t see anything in Bill 3 around inclusionary zoning to ensure that structures that get built—a percentage, as other jurisdictions have done—will be affordable.
What kind of housing are we going to see moved more expeditiously through the mayor’s office after Bill 3? I suspect it will be more of the same, which is great for my parents; it’s great for other people who have a family home that they want to—believe me, my partner and I would love to have our parents move to Ottawa to help us with the kids, have a condo downtown. Sure, it works for me, but will it work for my friend Candyrose?
Let me tell you about Candyrose, Speaker. Candyrose is someone I’ve known in Ottawa’s urban Indigenous community for a long time. She’s a fantastic person. She’s active in the arts in our city and has been part of many theatre performances, many different cultural outreach efforts to try to bring people who come to our city from many contexts of trauma into a new community so they can feel part of our city. That’s Candyrose’s contribution to our city.
Candyrose lives on the Ontario Disability Support Program. Her income is $841 a month. On that $841 a month, Candyrose has to find housing, has to feed herself, has to get around the city. I think we can all agree that that is an undignified situation—not solely responsible by this government, but generations of governments in this place that have set up a situation of legislated poverty.
What has Candyrose done? Just like thousands of social assistance recipients in our city, despite that challenging context, she goes out every day to contribute. It may not show up in gross domestic product, but every day Candyrose goes out there to contribute.
I’m not sure what other members in this House are experiencing, but I recently saw Candyrose at the Labour Day march. She walked up to me—and it had been about a year since I’d seen her in person, pandemic conditions being what they are. I think my friend Candyrose may have lost about 25% of her body weight, for real. I was shocked at the optics of seeing my friend marching with me, talking to me about how much she’s suffering, how much more food costs, how difficult it is to live a dignified life, how she’s even potentially going to lose her own assisted housing through mental health supports, because she just can’t survive. Then I think about what Bill 3 would do for her. Maybe the government would tell me, “What it would do, Joel, is centralize in the office of the mayor immediate payments to people like Candyrose.” It’s kind of the philosopher-king approach to politics: We rest all hope in the office of one person to break up NIMBYism, to break up political gridlocks, and the money will flow straight from the office of the mayor to people like Candyrose, people who are suffering in our city right now. But I suspect that’s not going to happen.
What I think would make it more likely to happen is if I could work with this government to set up actual community conversations back home about this bill, so they could hear directly from Candyrose—not through me—and directly from people who are suffering right now on our streets.
If anybody in this chamber went to the AMO conference recently, you would have walked in our streets and you would have seen people living out in the open and suffering.
At the moment, in the city of Ottawa, we spend $25 million on police calls with respect to homelessness issues—$25 million. And our budget for affordable housing in the city of Ottawa is just over $15 million.
If you talk to any police officer in our city, they will tell you the same thing: There’s one reality for people who are housed, there’s one reality for people who can safely work during the pandemic from home, and there’s another reality for people who live with any kind of trauma, who’ve had any manner of bad luck, who find themselves on the streets with limited to no support.
And here’s the big irony—and former Senator Hugh Segal has spoken about this very eloquently: The big irony is that it costs Ontario a lot more for these folks to suffer in front of our eyes than it would for us to marshal the courage to go in the direction of Scandinavian countries that have said, “There will be a minimum income in this country. We are not prepared to watch people suffer any longer.” Do you know the great thing, Speaker? Every time we have tried it in this great country in which we both live, it has worked.
Almost 50 years ago, in the town of Dauphin, Manitoba, an experiment called Mincome was tried, where every family in that province was guaranteed an income, in those days, of $19,000 a year. There’s a terrific book—I’m not allowed to use props, so I’ll just talk about it—called Utopia for Realists, written by Rutger Bregman, a major intellectual coming out of the Netherlands. Mr. Bregman has documented, from Professor Forget, who has looked at the boxes of documents from that experiment, that spousal abuse dropped, hospital visits dropped, birth rates increased, prosperity reigned. It was more affordable for the province of Manitoba to guarantee a basic income than to watch people suffer.
Feed Ontario, the organization that comes here to lobby us on behalf of food banks in the province, has told us that the cost of poverty in Ontario is $33 billion a year. That’s approaching what we spend on education in the province—if you look at costs to the health care system, the costs to policing and incarceration.
So what I would ask us to consider with this bill, if you were take it on the road—take me up on my offer. Bring it back home. Let me help you. I’m here to help, not just to criticize. Take it on the road.
Take this bill on the road through the community, and they will tell you why a mayor-driven model is not going to build you more homes. It’s not going to help feed people who are suffering, help them recover and get a decent life. It’s not going to help a small business that is going to close right now.
I think of a place like the Ottawa Bike Café on Sparks Street, which is a fantastic enterprise. If you’re ever in our city, I encourage you to patronize it. Just like every Sparks Street business right now, they have been hammered by the pandemic, because they’re in the red zone. As we figured out, from a security perspective, what to do going forward after the convoy, we forced a lot of these businesses to close, or we forced them to open up, because they needed the revenue, without a lot of traffic, because now we have federal government workers who used to work in that area of the city working from home. I think about the owners of that place, Jason and Maria, and I think about what their future is going to be. What is Bill 3 going to do for them?
If the government would allow us to take this bill on the road and not rush it through this House, I think they would hear from those voices directly, not just the carping socialist on Wednesday morning.
So where are we at, Speaker? We’re in a situation where my friends in government are telling us that the only way to build housing in the province of Ontario is to put more power in the office of the mayor. The mayor of our city, who was not consulted on this piece of legislation, is telling this government, “Put on the brakes. You never talked to me about this.” But we’re marching forward nonetheless.
But the good news is this: I’ve worked with these folks before to get a public inquiry declared into our LRT system. I’m happy to work with them again to make sure this bill actually does what it’s intended to do. Because we have elections coming up province-wide for municipal elected officials, every single one of those aspiring municipal elected officials are going to have to try to prove to our neighbours how they’re going to help people get housed, how they’re going to help small businesses be successful, how they’re going to help deal with our mental health crisis everywhere in our city. They share an ambition for urgent change.
I’ve often found, as I’ve listened to my friends in government talk about legislation over the last four years, that we share a commonality of urgency. They want to get things done, to time-allocate, to move fast. If I was in government, I would probably be sitting at the table and saying the same thing—“Enough talk. Enough studying things to death.” I like that.
What I absolutely don’t like and what I would never consider adequate for me, for people working with me, is to march ahead with proposals that have never been presented to those they will directly impact first. I can’t do that; that’s a red line.
So let’s back up a bit. Let’s think about how we can build housing, how we can make municipal decisions co-operatively. Let’s involve all stakeholders at the table, and let’s actually build the Ontario that we’ve dreamed about. We never do that. We hit each other with partisan gloves in this place all the time. We never stop for a second to think about what we agree on and how we can build the Ontario we dream about. Bill 3, in my opinion, is falling short on that right now, and we need a piece of legislation that will make that happen.
We understand that something like two million to six million people will be coming to Ontario over the next little while. The reality is, one third of Ontario’s growth over that decade is expected to come to Toronto and Ottawa. We’re really counting on the mayors to cut through red tape and to get housing built faster so that more families can realize the dream of attainable home ownership.
The Liberals and the NDP had 15 years to plan for growth and build the housing that we require—unfortunately, with the support of the NDP, they stood idly by, allowing the problem to get out of hand.
Now our government is working diligently with our large municipal partners to try to make this housing get built as quickly as possible.
Does the opposition not recognize that the province has a role to play in ensuring that we plan for growth?
Straight talk, Speaker: I’ve heard this record from the government for a long time. “Fifteen years—terrible. Everything is awful. We’re going to solve things.” I’m going to urge us, in this debate, this back-and-forth and throughout the session, to climb out of that communication silo, if we can—those notes we’re given in this place. Let’s actually talk about real issues.
How are we actually going to help people like Candyrose who are living in poverty right now? How are we going to make our transit system work? Who are the people we’re going to empower at a local level so this bill could actually work, and why not open it up to real consultation? That’s what I’m asking my friend to consider.
Well, they did ask—not this government, but the local media asked the three biggest mayors in Niagara what they thought of the bill. They do not support Bill 3, Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act. Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati said no. St. Catharines mayor Walter Sendzik said no. Welland mayor Frank Campion said no. They do not support the bill.
Why do you think the Conservative government is bullying your mayor with no consultation and forcing this bill on the citizens of Ottawa?
I don’t know the answer to that question. I hope it comes up in the debate on this bill. I’ve yet to see it.
What I’ve seen my friends in government do as they prepare for debate is basically state the gravity of the problems—and on that there can be some agreement. People need housing. People need opportunities.
As I said before, I don’t disagree with the urgency thing either, the need to move quickly, to move beyond analysis paralysis. I can find some agreement on that too. But why take a piece of legislation through three readings as quickly as we’ve seen here in this House and do it to the detriment? Why I mentioned the LRT story is because that’s what we did with the LRT and now we’re fixing a mess. Do we really want to create more messes?
Let me just say, by way of humour, there are plenty of albatrosses for all of us that will hang around our necks in this place. We’ll deal with that over the next four years.
Call me naive, Speaker, but I actually have worked with members of this government on things in the past. We’ll fight 90% of the time, but we might agree on 10%. On issues like housing, income, jobs and climate change, my socialist heart wants to believe that things can be collaborative; this bill is not. Yes, we need the province to act, but it needs to be done collaboratively with the city. We can’t force-feed change.
Early on, the member talked about the mayor from Ottawa not being aware of this bill and finding out in the media. He also talked about the upcoming elections.
We just went through an election, so congratulations to all colleagues who have joined us here.
All of us have knocked on many doors. I didn’t hear a single word about this. It wasn’t even on the radar.
You talked about your friend Candyrose.
I just wonder, as municipal councillors and mayors are out knocking on doors, or as we politicians are out knocking on doors, what are things that we have actually heard about that we really should be here in the summertime debating and speaking about instead of this bill, which nobody called for?
If I was in their position, I might be thinking, “I’m tired of obstacle after obstacle, a person saying ‘I can’t do things.’ I’m going to defy the public service advice I’m getting and the opposition advice I’m getting, and I’m just going to do it.” The danger of that, as I’ve tried to explain with the LRT situation, is that you can make a bigger mess than you started off with. Nobody wants to use the money given to us by the people of Ontario to waste it, regardless of our political perspectives.
Again, last call through you, Speaker: Work with me. Take this to the city of Ottawa. Take it across Ontario. Let’s make this law work.
Now, of course, we have a shortage of housing. There is no disagreement on any side of this House that we need more homes—and that’s homes of all different types.
It’s interesting listening to the member rely on what Mayor Watson has said and his opinions on this bill, even though everyone knows Mayor Watson is not seeking re-election. So his opinion, arguably, is irrelevant.
Madam Speaker, my question to the member is, why does the opposition oppose giving municipalities the tools they need in order to cut red tape and plan for the efficient building of new housing? And why are they relying on the opinion of someone who is not seeking re-election?
What would a strong mayor actually do? If I was the mayor of the city of Ottawa right now and I looked at how I’m spending money—and we’re spending $25 million on police-related calls for homelessness, and $17 million on affordable housing. What would a strong mayor do?
We would build more housing through non-market housing—repurposing federal office buildings that are currently vacant because people aren’t working in them, and creating housing out of them.
That’s the kind of mayor we need. That’s the kind of leadership we need.
Folks in Ottawa are ready to work with you.
The member for Algoma–Manitoulin.
There is a group of individuals we’re not talking about—that is not being raised on the floor: our public servants. Public servants go to work with the hearts and minds of their communities, going in each and every day, making the best decisions for their community. This bill will politicize their actions. It will politicize public servants.
I’ve yet to hear from this government about the engagement that they’ve done with public servants.
To the member for Ottawa Centre, do you think it would have been very key to talk to our public servants?
One needs to have mapped out the next steps of how we make affordable housing happen in Ottawa, how we help small businesses, how we help people who are suffering in the mental health crisis, how we fix our hospitals and schools.
One needs a plan, and hope is not a plan. Railroading is not a plan.
I’m honoured to rise to speak on Bill 3 today.
Regardless of what you think about whether we should concentrate more power in a mayor’s office or not, this bill will not solve the housing crisis. I share the concerns of people from across the political spectrum about the disturbing trend we’ve seen of concentrating power in the Prime Minister’s office, in Premiers’ offices across the country—and now, this government is suggesting, in the mayor’s office. I believe democracy is weakened when you concentrate power in a single office, and I contend that concentrating power in the mayor’s office will not solve the housing crisis. But don’t take my word for it. Take the government’s own housing task force’s word for it. I did not agree with everything this task force put forward, but they put forward 55 recommendations to help solve the housing crisis, and not one of those recommendations was to concentrate power in the mayor’s office.
As a matter of fact, the most important solution the government’s own hand-picked task force put forward was to end exclusionary zoning, and the province has the power to do that. So if the Premier and the minister wanted to act urgently to address the housing crisis and increase supply and get rid of red tape, they would get rid of exclusionary zoning and bring in across the province as-of-right zoning to build duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes. That is the fastest way to increase supply without paving over the farmland that feeds us and the wetlands that protect us.
The province also has the power to reform the Ontario Land Tribunal, which has become a huge hindrance and a huge cost to municipalities and to citizens due to the appeals process that is happening on a number of developments.
The government could, in the trend that started in the 1990s when the province got out of investing in deeply affordable and permanent supportive housing, reverse that trend and invest in housing that’s affordable for people.
They could address the rampant speculation that’s happening in the housing market by bringing in a speculation tax, something Bill Davis did back in the 1980s.
They could bring in inclusionary zoning rules.
They could bring in a province-wide, yes-in-my-backyard campaign.
The province has multiple tools to address this challenge, the housing affordability crisis, and yet the government has refused to implement those tools.
As I’m looking and listening and thinking about the crisis that we’re in and hearing about all these potential options that you’ve suggested, I’m curious about how any of those are actually going to solve the crisis we currently find ourselves in—a crisis which requires us to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. If you look at the CMHC reports, we’re looking at another three million homes by 2030, just to reach affordability—and I know how important it is to this member to find affordability.
My question is, why will you not support this measure as a means of achieving those goals?
Respectfully, to the member across the aisle, it’s because nothing in this bill is actually going to deliver the solutions we need to increase housing supply. As a matter of fact, you could even have a strong mayor who would oppose housing development and support NIMBYism.
I want to quote from the government’s own hand-picked housing task force—and again, I did not agree with all 55 recommendations: “We heard from planners, municipal councillors, and developers that ‘as of right’ zoning—the ability to bypass long, drawn-out consultations and zoning bylaw amendments—is the most effective tool in the provincial tool kit. We agree.” That’s what their task force said.
I don’t understand why the government isn’t implementing the provincial tools they have that were recommended by their own task force.
Are there any other recommendations that you would like to share?
One that I want to highlight a bit more—and I put forward a number of solutions. I can tell you, sometimes the government says, “The opposition only opposes.” Well, I gave you a whole list of solutions. And I would encourage you to look at your own housing task force. But one that I think is really important is that—in the 1990s, both the federal and provincial governments got out of housing. They stopped investing in housing. Most of the deeply affordable housing built in this country was built in the 1970s and 1980s.
I would encourage both the federal and provincial governments to get back to investing in deeply affordable and permanent supportive housing so that we build housing that low-income people can actually afford to live in.
We constantly see development stagnated in Waterloo region. We have developments that are 10 or 12 years on the books, and they’re often being blocked by certain members of our either local or regional councils. It is unfortunate, because these are not just monstrous single-family homes or estate lots; these are affordable houses as well.
This bill gives a mayor tools to be able to move those developments forward. Why won’t he support that?
I’m going to take some time to give an example in Kitchener—not your Kitchener riding, but another Kitchener riding.
I want to begin by saying that there is nothing in this bill that says more housing will be built. That is why using planning tools like as-of-right zoning is so important. An example of that is a home I toured in Kitchener. Because they have brought in as-of-right zoning, somebody took a single-family bungalow, built two apartments out of it and a tiny home. Now there is housing for three families on the same footprint.
Those are the kinds of solutions—
It’s always interesting listening to my friend from Ottawa Centre. I always find him interesting to listen to, but I don’t think we would make good roommates. There could be some discussions that would never end. However, I appreciate the fact that he holds a different viewpoint than myself from time to time. I do believe at some point there’s going to actually be an issue that we absolutely agree on; we just haven’t found it yet—well, maybe there is one, about how beautiful the Ottawa valley is. I think we’ll all agree on that one.
Speaker, I want to tell you—not tell you; you know—that from day one our government has been seized on the importance and our absolute commitment to build more housing here in the province of Ontario. I don’t think there’s anybody here who wouldn’t have heard in their campaign about the reality of the lack of housing here in Ontario and the lack of housing with the population that we have and the population that we expect to have—1.5 million homes over 10 years to service basically six million increased population. Put those numbers into perspective, and you have to ask yourself how we are going to get this done if we don’t have a number of tools in the tool box.
The opposition goes on and on and on because they haven’t got a lot to criticize the bill on, so they talk about what is not in the bill. I’ve been here long enough to know that when you bring in a piece of legislation that is not specific, they’ll go apoplectic and talk about the omnibus bill, and why you’re trying to sneak something in on this bill that some people might like, but you want the poison pill that exists on this side of the bill—so they preach incessantly against bills that cover too many topics and cover too many issues. But now, on this one, they want to talk about all the things that are not in the bill. They’re right; the bill doesn’t talk about the bold climate change action we’re doing with regard to EV vehicles in the province of Ontario, critical minerals, electric arc furnaces in our steel mills, which are going to take the equivalent of 600,000 cars off the road. Of course, that’s not in the bill. This bill is one of the tools that we’ve instituted and brought forward, as government, to follow through on that commitment to build, build, build here in Ontario.
The Premier, right upfront—“We’re going to build Ontario.” You heard that every single day during the campaign. So when they say that we didn’t campaign on this—it is 28 days, and 24 hours in a day, and presumably there has to be some time for sleeping and driving and moving. You can’t try—
You can’t cover every single thought that comes into your head, but what you do is put on the table the big picture of where you see Ontario.
Ontario’s housing situation—let’s face it—is problematic, and it’s because of NIMBYism and people like the folks in the NDP, who have stood against every single initiative that we’ve put forward, such as the More Homes, More Choice Act and the More Homes for Everyone Act. They say we need to build housing, but when some group or some special interest they want to represent says, “We don’t want that housing there,” well, then they’re coming to the Legislature telling us what a terrible idea it is to approve that. “It’s a terrible idea to build that. You can’t do that there, and you can’t do it now.”
The NDP is like a braid in the hair—they’re twisting themselves and twisting themselves—or a pretzel, but only a half-baked pretzel, because they’re not really sure where they are on the issue of housing.
They say, “Build, build, build. We need affordable housing.”
Do you know what drives up the price of anything?
They talk about how nobody can afford a home, and they’re not entirely wrong. It’s pretty scary.
We have four children. One of our daughters just bought a home—they live up in the Northwest Territories. They paid—I have to be careful here—way more than 10 times what my wife and I paid for our first home. In fact, the last truck I bought cost me twice as much as our first home—maybe not quite, but close. So we know that those prices are terribly high, and that’s in the Northwest Territories. Just think about what they are here in Ontario.
So the average person is struggling to be able to afford to buy a home or build a home.
But if there’s more supply of built homes, then there’s more supply of homes.
The NDP keeps talking about what’s not in the bill. We put together the entire suite of bills, the entire package of bills aimed at increasing housing supply, and that’s what you’ve got to look at. And we’re not done, because we are absolutely committed to taking the necessary steps to increase the housing supply. If we increase the housing supply, it’s going to mean more homes for you, and more homes for you, and more homes for you, and more homes for everyone. Well, look at that. My goodness gracious, it’s right in one of our bills—More Homes for Everyone Act. So, yes, there are homes that gazillionaires are going to be buying. We understand that. It won’t be me. But we’re going to make sure that there are homes for everyone, and that’s why we want to remove the barriers to building homes.
I know my friends in the opposition feel trapped, for example, about their opposition to the Bradford Bypass and the 413. They know the people need it. They know the people want it. But they feel their constituencies don’t want it, so they’re going to argue against it. They have to argue against some of things that we propose, because otherwise they’d be admitting they were wrong all along, which is not a bad thing; sometimes you just have to do it. And they’ve been wrong on housing, because they have tried to stand in the way of what we’ve been doing.
In Bill 3, essentially what we’re trying to do, as the minister said—and I have to shout out to my friend Minister Clark. Talk about somebody who is laser-focused on getting the job done—he has taken a great deal of criticism over four years because of that laser focus, but he has withstood the salvos of the opposition and those opponents out there because he understands what the problem is. The first thing you’ve got to do if you’re going to fix something is, you’ve got to know what the problem is. Well, Mr. Clark knows what the problem is, and he’s staying focused on it, because Ontario needs him to be focused. So when the opposition criticizes him, one of the tools—how many times, even characterizing him in ways that are not even kind, on the issue of MZOs, ministerial zoning orders. But he has made it clear that we have a goal: 1.5 million homes within 10 years.
We need our municipalities to be partners with us, and that’s where the strong-mayors act really comes in. Oh, yes, there are mayors and former mayors—let’s talk about the reality of politics, folks. Someone who is not going to be mayor after October but was never a mayor under the strong-mayors legislation—what do you think they’re going to say? “No, it’s a bad idea. I wasn’t a strong mayor. I don’t want him to be a strong mayor. No strong mayor for me.”
And then you get mayors in the past who actually wanted to be a strong mayor, like Mayor David Miller from Toronto.
Dalton McGuinty, I say to my friends in the Liberal Party, actually proposed bringing in strong-mayor legislation, because he believed that a city like Toronto—at that time it was the City of Toronto Act he wanted to make changes to—absolutely needed a strong mayor.
And to his credit, even though he is running for re-election, John Tory has been lukewarm, but he has at least said that this is not a bad idea; there is merit to the strong mayor.
My friend from Niagara Falls is talking about the regional mayors over there. Of course, they’re running for re-election. They don’t want this to be an issue in the election, so they want to neutralize it. “Let’s just go back to what it was before, and we’ll run on whether or not the garbage is being picked up on time or something like that.” Great.
But let’s understand the reality of politics and how it gets played, not just in here, but everywhere. Particularly now, with the municipal election cycle in full swing, everybody is making sure that they do what they think is going to benefit them the most in the upcoming campaign.
Speaker, I really want to talk about what is in the bill. Of course, these folks on the other side are—quite frankly, I don’t know if I can say it, but they’re inventing voodoo circumstances or bogeymen or something that are in the bill or that the bill is going to lead to, which don’t exist. They’re creating this idea that the mayor is going to be some kind of a dictator, that council is going to be rendered irrelevant, but it’s not so. The mayor will be a strong mayor, and he or she will have limited new powers to get through the gridlock at city hall.
We’re building 413 and the Bradford Bypass, and I know, deep down, a lot of you support it; I really believe you do. We’re going to do that to tackle gridlock, which is taking days, weeks, months of people’s lives, if you travel long enough in those areas. We’re going to save you two hours—56 minutes twice a day. It’s almost two hours a day. I’d like to find somebody to tell me in this world we live in today—being polite, you say it moves too fast; being maybe less polite, you say it’s crazy. But who wouldn’t like to get two hours back to spend with their family or their loved ones, or just relaxing?
Does anybody here find it relaxing to be stuck in gridlock? Let me know.
I know that my friend from Ottawa Centre likes to read books. Maybe we could write one together on gridlock and my lost two hours today, and my lost two hours yesterday, and my lost two hours tomorrow. Some would just say I’m lost, but that’s another story entirely as well.
Who would not want to get that time back? I’d love to have it back.
We have gridlock at city hall. A strong mayor, supporting the housing priorities of this government, will be able to get through some of that gridlock that we’re experiencing at city hall which is preventing us from getting things done in a timely fashion.
The clock is ticking, folks. We don’t have the luxury of time. We don’t have the luxury of spinning our wheels and saying, “Well, we didn’t get anywhere today on that one, but maybe we’ll try again.”
As Premier Ford said in the campaign, we need to get it done, and we’re going to get it done. One of the tools in the tool box is the strong-mayors act.
What’s so problematic about the mayor being able to veto a bylaw by council? If it was only that, I might have concerns myself, but there’s a safeguard in there; there’s protection: If the other members of council don’t agree, they require only two thirds—not unanimous, two thirds. Two thirds of the members of council can reverse or nullify the veto of the mayor. I would put it to you that if something the mayor wants to do is so egregious, is so wrong—if I am a member of council, I would like to believe that I am convincing enough that I can get two thirds of my colleagues to say, as my mother-in-law would say, “Not so fast.” Then the mayor has the opportunity to revise his or her position, the bylaw itself might go through some iterations where some changes get made, but council would still function as the body it was designed to be. That is what gets you through gridlock.
What we’ve seen at city hall is a polarization, where the two sides are opposing one another. Essentially, there’s some equality there in the numbers, and then neither wants to give an inch, because if you start to go, then all of a sudden you think you’re going to lose the battle to those other folks.
This would actually encourage people to come up with a workable solution. This would actually encourage people, because they have a strong mayor, a person who was elected a leader, to give some direction and to focus on the goal of getting housing built in the respective cities, Ottawa or Toronto.
I think the clock is malfunctioning, Speaker.
I want to refer to a column that was written by Martin Regg Cohn. Martin Regg Cohn would be widely known as the loudest supporter of Premier Ford in the history of journalism—not. But what did Martin Regg Cohn write about the strong mayor? He wrote things like, “We need a strong mayor.”
Using the reference in the city of Toronto, Mayor Tory received over 500,000 votes directly from the people of Toronto. Councillors received somewhere between a high of maybe around 25,000 and, in some cases, only about 5,000 votes. So the people got to vote directly for their choice for mayor. It’s important to have that reflected in some of the powers—and I don’t have time. Maybe I can get another 20 minutes to go through some of the other things that are in the bill that are so important.
I really believe that the folks in the opposition might take a look at this and actually change their mind and realize that if they want more housing, if the NDP are actually being straight about their desire to get more housing built in the province of Ontario, they will support the suite of bills that we have before them. The strong-mayors act is one of them.
What I’d inspire the member to think about is—we can all hold forth in this place as much as we want about housing, but you’re missing an adjective that I’d like the member to reflect upon. We need affordable housing. And how will we have affordable housing? That’s the question. I almost want to have the member’s mother-in-law come in here and say, “Not so fast. You’re proposing a piece of legislation you haven’t talked to the people in Ottawa about.” Member, not so fast. How are you going to build affordable housing, member? That’s the question.
We don’t have 30 years to build 1.5 million homes. It doesn’t matter whether they’re affordable or not. If we don’t get them built, they don’t exist. We have to get them built, and we’ve got to move some things out of the way to ensure that we don’t lose sight of that goal. We can’t get caught up on NIMBYism or BANANAism or whatever. We need to make sure we get the homes built, and we’re going to get it done.
One of the things about my community of Peterborough is that it has been a test community for all of Canada for a long time, more than 50 years. We’re a microcosm of what goes on. In our city, we had a number of developments that were put forward that were blocked by council because of NIMBYism. They went to LPAT and, lo and behold, the developers were given approval. They added three and a half years to it. I’m being told by developers that it takes 12 years to get something done. We know we’ve got 1.5 million people coming in in 10 years, so we cannot have status quo.
How is this bill going to speed up that process so that it doesn’t take us 12 years to start the construction on the 1.5 million houses we must have over the next 10 years?
Getting things built is the key. I didn’t reference it in my speech, but I know sometimes that my friends from the NDP—when you mention the word “developers,” I see smoke coming out of their ears because they get so upset with the word. They attach the word “developers” with some kind of evil. But it’s developers who are going to build those homes.
We have to work with developers. We have to work with builders. We have to work with planners. We have to work with municipalities. We have to work with the people. Everybody has a role to play in ensuring that when we hit the 10-year mark, we actually have 1.5 million—maybe even more. If we’re going to accommodate the growth in this province, if we’re going to be able to accommodate the needed people to keep this economy rolling along like it is, keeping us the engine of Canada, we’re going to need those houses built for those folks.
You made a statement around your bill with mayors. We’ve got a problem in Niagara that—I don’t believe we have anybody who supports your bill. If it was a good bill and they’re out campaigning, I would think they’d be out there saying, “Hey, we need this bill done.” I’m not getting that. They’re not calling me.
But what I do know is, Niagara Falls, which you guys know—a lot of you guys visited my riding during the campaign, because it’s so lovely down there. Mayor Jim Diodati said no to the bill. The Welland mayor said no to the bill. You said, “Well, they’re running campaigns.” I have a mayor in St. Catharines—a very talented, very young mayor. I’m actually disappointed he’s not running again. He’s not running for the position, but he was very clear, on his way out—he’s saying he doesn’t support the bill.
The mayor from Ottawa doesn’t support the bill.
My question is pretty easy, I know, for you, but some of your members might not know the answer. Can you give me a list of all the mayors who were consulted on this bill before it was brought to this House?
This bill, like every bill that this government brings forward—its genesis is based on where we know Ontario needs to be, where Ontario needs to go, and building more homes to accommodate the people, as I began to say in the last response, to be able to support the people who are going to provide the economic activity of the future, to fill the vacant jobs. We have about 400,000 jobs today already that aren’t being filled. We have to be able to fill them, and we have to be able to build those homes so the people will have them.
I am quite comfortable that our government did what it always—we know we did. Most of the homes that are going to be built are going to be in Ottawa and Toronto. We know that—the biggest number. We reached out to the people and said, “What can we do to help remove the gridlock in these two cities?” For a start—a strong mayor. A strong mayor will help us get those homes built. That’s what we need to do.
During the election, when I was knocking on doors, many of my residents were saying that their sons, their daughters, who are still living at home in their thirties, need to buy a home. They feel that it is out of reach for them.
When we look at the majority that our government received from the voters, not only in my riding but across this province, the people did vote for our plan to build 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years.
My question is, how will these changes in the strong-mayors act build off the previous success that our government has had in addressing the housing supply crisis?
As I said—and what the minister has said repeatedly, because we have to reinforce this so people understand—it’s the combination of the steps that we have taken and are taking. The More Homes for Everyone Act, the More Homes, More Choice Act, and the combination of changes with regard to zoning—all of these kinds of things that we are doing as a government, when you put them all together, are creating the environment that is necessary so that we can meet those goals of building those homes over the next 10 years, so that people like your children will be able to afford a home. If there is more supply, the prices will be more commensurate with people’s incomes of the day.
So a little bit of history here: I remember a Premier—Premier Ford—who said that when it came to children with developmental disabilities in his community, he didn’t know they were going to go outside, and he was going to buy their home and throw them out of his neighbourhood. He said that poor people should not be living in affordable homes—
The people of Ontario absolutely supported our view on June 2. We talked about building more homes, and we are going to build more homes, with or without you.
Third reading debate deemed adjourned.
OTTAWA CARLETON PLOWING MATCH
Plowing matches have been a part of Carleton’s agricultural history for well over a century. They’re a great opportunity for farmers to put on display their plowing skills and teach the importance of soil conservation.
It was a pleasure to once again attend the VIP plowing match, and although I didn’t win, hopefully in future years my furrows will be straight enough to win first prize at the Ottawa Carleton plowing match.
In just a couple of weeks, Kemptville will be hosting the International Plowing Match and rural expo. It is the biggest plowing match of its kind in North America, and it’s a wonderful celebration of agriculture and rural living.
I am proud to be part of a government that supports our agricultural industry—especially when the pandemic first hit us. In fact, back in March, the Richmond Agricultural Society received a grant of $55,500 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to ensure that they were able to pay the utilities, rent, salaries, insurance and more, as well as renovate and remodel their fairground office.
I encourage all MPPs to attend the International Plowing Match in support of Ontario’s agricultural sector this month. I’ll be cheering for all contestants, especially those from Carleton. I know you’ll do us all proud.
I want to thank principals Judith Kramer and Jaime DiGirolamo and all of the staff at those schools and all the schools across Spadina–Fort York for all of the work you’ve done over the summer to get our schools ready for our students.
Parents, I encourage you to get involved in your school council. I was the co-chair of Dewson Street Junior Public School when my kids were there. Together, we organized fun fairs, arts and music and tech activities for the kids. We helped with sports teams, and we advocated for the funding that our schools need.
I was speaking with a teacher this morning who says he’s really looking forward to the extracurriculars, but they need some funding. They need funding for sports uniforms, for equipment, for transportation, and for supply teachers to take over when the teachers go out to coach a team.
The CCPA shows that when you take inflation into account, school funding in Ontario has fallen an average of $800 per student per year during this government’s first term in office. In order for students to have the kind of school year they need, we need the government to restore that funding that has been lost, and we need them to make a fair deal with education workers.
I urge the provincial government to work with the teachers and parents to ensure that our students have a great and full school year.
Today in Canada, 10 people will end their lives and up to 200 others will attempt suicide. For each death by suicide, it is estimated that 100 people are deeply affected by their loss. Today in Canada, 10 deaths by suicide will leave up to 1,000 people in a state of bereavement. In 2017, I was one of those people—twice.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911 or visit an emergency department. For non-emergencies, call 211 to connect with local services. You can also visit Ontario.ca/mentalhealth to learn about the free virtual call and walk-in resources that are available to all Ontarians.
For Indigenous people across Canada, the Hope for Wellness helpline is a mental health counselling and crisis intervention service.
We must educate all Canadians on the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, just as we have done with physical illnesses like cancer and heart disease.
There is no health without mental health.
OJIBWAY NATIONAL URBAN PARK
The people of my community want to protect local endangered species and natural heritage areas, aid flood mitigation efforts, create publicly accessible green space, and encourage ecotourism in Windsor-Essex.
Tomorrow, motion 1 will be up for debate which, if passed, would begin the process of negotiation leading to the transfer of ownership of the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve to Parks Canada, a necessary process in the creation of Ojibway National Urban Park, something my community wants to happen.
Windsor Port Authority has signed an MOU to transfer lands to Parks Canada, and the city of Windsor is in the process of transferring municipally owned land as well. The land for the proposed urban park is home to hundreds of endangered species that rely on migration through surrounding local parks for survival. It serves not only as a home and larger ecosystem to these species, but it also provides mitigation of flooding due to climate change in natural heritage areas that our community and visitors can enjoy.
Ojibway National Urban Park has broad support at all levels of government—including a bill by my federal colleague Brian Masse, which passed second reading in the House of Commons and is supported by MPs across party lines.
There’s significant support from local Indigenous and environmental groups, including Caldwell First Nation, Walpole Island First Nation, and the Wildlands League.
I ask that all members of this House support motion 1, respect the wishes of the people in my community, truly work towards reconciliation by honouring the wishes of Caldwell First Nation, and protect green spaces in Windsor-Essex.
AGAWA CANYON TOUR TRAIN
But back to the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, Mr. Speaker: The train leaves the station bright and early and heads north for a four-hour, 114-mile excursion showcasing the rugged beauty that is exclusive to the eastern shores of Lake Superior. The northern Ontario wilderness begins to unfold, with mixed forests of the Canadian Shield popping with autumn colours, and the beauty of many northern lakes and rivers. These are the same rugged landscapes and majestic views that inspired the Group of Seven to create some of Canada’s most notable artwork. The Agawa Canyon Tour Train begins to descend into the canyon at mile 102. The rail line hugs the top of the canyon wall, and you descend 500 feet over the next 10 miles to the floor of the Agawa Canyon. Upon arrival at the park, riders have the opportunity to have a picnic or climb some steps to watch the panoramic views on the lookout trail and randomly be able to go through all these different trails—through Black Beaver Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
It is an incredible, incredible excursion, and I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the fall colours on the tour train. All aboard, Mr. Speaker.
When I heard the Premier say this week that a 5% increase is fantastic and unprecedented and adequate—I ask any one of us to follow what we’re doing, to join us in what we’re doing, and ask if $57 extra a month is actually going to help someone living in legislated poverty.
I’m going to ask us also to consider, as we do this two-week journey together, that there are countries in this world that actually say there’s a minimum level of income, and those countries that have basic income in their communities have healthier communities. They spend less on health care and correctional and police services. People have a dignified opportunity to live and be their fullest self.
That’s what we’re asking for in this place. We’re asking for an awareness that compassion is not only an ethical consideration; it’s an economic consideration, it’s a respect consideration.
I will not go into this House for one more day without making at least an attempt to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I welcome the Premier and the minister responsible to do it with us.
ÉLECTION MUNICIPALE / DÉCÈS DE MARC CLERMONT ET RAYMOND FREDETTE
On a commencé à voir aussi beaucoup d’enseignes de candidats pour les élections municipales à travers la province. J’aimerais féliciter les candidats d’avoir posé leurs candidatures. On sait tous que c’est important d’avoir des gens pour représenter les citoyens, et le gouvernement municipal est celui le plus proche des gens. Je profite de l’occasion pour leur souhaiter une bonne campagne électorale, et bonne chance à tous les candidats et candidates le 24 octobre prochain.
Sur une autre note, nous avons perdu quelques collègues qui ont été impliqués dans le secteur municipal récemment. Je voudrais souhaiter mes condoléances à la famille et les amis de M. Marc Clermont, qui est décédé le jeudi 1er septembre à l’âge de 56 ans. Marc était directeur des travaux publics des comtés unis de Prescott et Russell durant les 27 dernières années. Il avait plus de 30 ans d’expérience dans le domaine municipal. C’était non seulement un collègue mais aussi un ami.
Mes condoléances aussi à la famille de M. Raymond Fredette, de la municipalité d’Alfred et Plantagenet, qui nous a quitté le 30 août à l’âge de 80 ans. M. Fredette a été au service des résidents de la municipalité d’Alfred et Plantagenet. Il a servi pendant plusieurs années en tant que conseiller municipal.
En terminant, j’aimerais remercier tous ces gens qui ont travaillé et ceux qui travaillent encore pour nos citoyens.
At the same time, I listened to the Premier muse about $1,800 a day not being right, not being fair.
Respectfully, to the Premier: Saying that you think something is not right and not fair when you have the power to change things doesn’t amount to very much.
The threat of the huge hospital bill that coerced Deanna Henry of Ottawa to go to a place where she didn’t want to go, a place where she didn’t feel safe, is just not right.
What the Premier needs to do is make his words match his actions, or make his actions match his words.
Motion number 14 is on the order paper, and it calls on the government, essentially, to ensure that no patient waiting for transfer would be charged more than their co-pay in Ontario’s long-term-care homes. The Premier has the power to do this. It’s the fair and reasonable thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. I call on this government to do this.
Speaker, displaying empathy and telling people you feel for them, but not taking the action necessary to mitigate their pain, their suffering—that’s just not right.
I want to recognize a constituent of mine who I also consider a friend. Jason King works tirelessly as a member of the Council for Persons with Disabilities to educate others. He runs the program called Time in My Shoes. Jason and his guide dog, Zauny—yes, that’s from the Blue Jays—visited my office last year and put my staff through the TIMS program. We briefly experienced what it was like to navigate our world without eyesight, hearing or speech. To paraphrase Jason, it’s an eye-opener to see the world from the perspective of a blind man and his guide dog.
Guide Dog Awareness Month is more than just a reminder; it’s a call to action for all of us to learn more, to listen with compassion, and to build a more accessible and inclusive Ontario for generations to come.
I encourage everyone to reach out to the Council for Persons with Disabilities and experience Time in My Shoes so we can build on the good work of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and our great Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, Raymond Cho.
WORLD OF JAZZ FESTIVAL
The festival overcame the obstacles of COVID-19 and was able to pivot to both live and virtual performances over the last two years without cancelling.
The World of Jazz Festival is hosted by B-Jazzed, a not-for-profit organization in the city of Brampton curating performances, education, and philanthropy of jazz music and its musicians. Annually, B-Jazzed curates over 100 performances, compensating nearly 300 musicians, with over 70% of those residing in Brampton. They’ve created a scene and an ecosystem for music and musicians that has simply never existed before in Brampton, and their visibility in our community has allowed their stylistic programming vision to expand beyond the jazz genre, hence the World of Jazz title.
The World of Jazz received a Reconnect Ontario grant in 2022, and I thank the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport for this honour.
Please visit worldofjazz.ca for the schedule—September 10 and 11. I know the minister of women’s economic and social development will be there. I’ll be there as well. Come on down to Brampton. Let’s have a good time.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
I’d also like to introduce some special guests who are here in the visitors’ gallery. This year’s cohort of the Ontario Legislative Internship Programme, or OLIP, as we know it: Lucas Fisher, Sharon Lee, Alia Mufti, Teah U-Ming, Leah Wilson, Karissa Singh, Sky Shi, Esma Boztas and Sophie Williams. They are joined by Dr. C—the OLIP academic director, Dr. Peter Constantinou—and program manager, Munnka Vajpai.
We in the Speaker’s office strongly support the OLIP program. For members who may not know, OLIP is a 10-month, non-partisan opportunity for recent university grads to gain practical experience in the daily workings of the Ontario Legislature. The interns complete two placements over the course of their time at Queen’s Park, one with a government member and one with an opposition member. It is non-partisan. I would encourage all members to apply to have one of these enthusiastic, dependable, brilliant and hard-working interns in their office this year.
Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Specifically, I would like to welcome Craig McLaughlin; Jason Leblond; Charlene Yungblut; Thomas Brandstetter; Jack Chaffe, president of BFO, and his son Evan; Richard Horne, executive director; Jason Reid; Rob Lipsett; Darby Wheeler; Barb’s husband, Don Badour; Don Hargrave; Darrell Russett; Joe Dickenson; and David Millsap.
Again, I would like to remind everyone that they’re hosting lunch right after question period today, so please go to the front lawn and enjoy amazing, good-quality beef grown here at home in Ontario.
That the bill should be ordered for third reading; and
That the order for third reading shall be immediately called and the Speaker shall immediately put the question on the motion for third reading without debate or amendment.
That the bill should be ordered for third reading; and
That the order for third reading shall be immediately called and the Speaker shall immediately put the question on the motion for third reading without debate or amendment. Agreed? I heard a no.
It is now time for oral questions.
Over the last month, seniors, their families, physicians, nurses and health experts have all warned that government Bill 7 will do nothing to stop emergency room closures, nothing to hire or retrain more nurses or to end the crisis in our health care system. An opinion poll in today’s Globe and Mail confirms that a majority of Ontario families agree.
Why is the government plowing ahead with this dangerous plan?
In our budget that we just passed, a billion dollars was set aside for community home care services in the province of Ontario. We are building the capacity to ensure that people are able to be in their homes in community, whether that is in their own homes with appropriate home care support or, in fact, with long-term-care-home facilities. We have invested so much, as a province, to make sure that the capacity is there, the staffing is there, the oversight is there. We’ve done that work.
Now we have to make sure that those individuals who are languishing in alternate-level-of-care beds in our hospitals are actually in community, where they deserve to be.
Patients are already feeling this pressure from hospitals. Vulnerable people are being told their best option is to move into an expensive retirement home or a long-term-care home that they don’t want to go to.
The government should be supporting people in their own homes. That’s what they want. They should be fixing our home care system, which was privatized by the previous Conservative government, by strengthening the home and community care system.
Why is the government pushing frail, elderly people into long-term-care homes against their will and without their consent?
I have to remind the member opposite that in March 2019 you said, “One out of every seven hospital beds is used by somebody that we call ALC, alternate level of care. It’s a fancy word that means that you really would like to be supported at home, you really would like to be supported someplace else....” What has changed, respectfully, from March 2019 to today? We have built the capacity in our long-term-care homes. We’ve built the capacity within community. So why does the member now change her tune and suggest that alternate-level-of-care patients need to be in hospitals when where they really want to be is in community?
The crisis in the health care system will not be solved by pushing our elderly away from their families into for-profit, long-term-care homes that nobody wants to live in.
The health care system needs permanent solutions to recruit and retain valued health care workers, like permanent paid sick days, like repealing Bill 124, like giving nurses a chance to negotiate a fair wage after two and a half years of hell.
Will the government stop pushing risky plans that are opposed by the majority of Ontarians and commit to solutions that actually address the crisis in our health care system?
The Minister of Colleges and Universities.
But what we’re seeing is a record number of applications to be nurses in colleges and universities across Ontario—25,000 applications right here, post-secondary education in Ontario. And why is that? That’s because of the investments we’re making in long-term care and the Ministry of Health—58,000 new and upgraded beds in long-term care; $40-billion capital investments over 52 projects that will add 3,000 new beds over the next 10 years; new hospitals in Brampton, in Windsor, in Niagara Falls.
Students want to become nurses, and the post-secondary education opportunities right here in Ontario are driving those students to those opportunities.
Parents know that this government and our Premier will stand up for kids so they have stability, normalcy, and the enjoyable experience that they deserve in this province.
Will the Premier commit today to working respectfully with education workers and not causing the disruption we all want to avoid?
Restart the clock.
Will the Premier—and I ask again, please—commit to recognizing the incredibly important job our educators do and work with them, not against them, to improve our schools?
Mr. Speaker, since 2002, we have literally 40,000 more workers in the province—and there are not more students in the province over that period of time. There are literally 10,000 more early childhood educators. There are 19,000 more education workers. There are 17,000 more teachers and 440 more principals and VPs. All this could only be achieved by increasing investment.
This September, for this school year, kids are going back to a more normal, stable and enjoyable school year, with 650 million more dollars of publicly funded investment to ensure education quality is retained for these children. We want it to be positive, and we want them to be safe. That’s why we put in place an investment that is historic—another 5,000 more staff, additional investments for custodians and cleaning and ventilation, to help make sure these kids are safe and get back on track in the province of Ontario.
Does the Premier believe that a 45-minute drive for patients in an emergency is good health care?
Will the Premier address the crisis in emergency care before someone dies because of it?
Speaker, $90 million in the emergency department Pay-for-Results Program provides funding incentives for 74 high-volume emergency departments to make improvements in areas such as length of stay.
We have, in the province of Ontario, 49 municipalities using a 911 model of care pilot, which allows for palliative and mental health and addictions patients to be treated or referred to or cared for in community, instead of immediately—and only having the option of taking them to an emergency department.
These innovative solutions—we’re working with partners to make sure that the pilots we are doing are working, and are expanding them. That was why we were able to—during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario—announce that we’re going to continue expanding these successful models that communities want, patients expect. It is making a difference in reducing wait times and delays in our emergency departments.
For decades, the housing supply has not kept up with the ever-increasing demand. Even for fast-growing major urban centres like Toronto, there appear to be very limited options available.
Under the leadership of this government, housing starts have started to increase, but they’re still not where they need to be.
Speaker, through you to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: What is our government doing to help increase housing supply across the province?
I’m proud of what our government has been able to accomplish over the last four years, under the leadership of Premier Ford. Together, we’ve introduced the province’s first-ever housing supply action plan, which really laid the foundation for the high housing starts we’re seeing over the past year.
As the member knows, last year, we had the highest number of housing starts—over 100,000—that we’ve seen in over 30 years. But we recognize and I think we can all agree that that’s not enough in terms of meeting our goal that we promised Ontarians during the election that just passed—that we would build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years.
Together, with our all-hands-on-deck approach, we want to ensure that home ownership is in reach of more Ontarians.
The people of my riding are worried that housing prices will rise and affordability will worsen without an increase in housing supply to match this demand.
With threats of economic slowdown and rising interest rates, home prices have started to cool off. This could make it even more challenging for builders to bring new housing supply options online.
Speaker, what additional measures is the government taking to ensure that we build on our progress and bring more housing options online for the people of my riding and for all Ontarians?
As I said, this past election, we committed to introducing a housing supply action plan every year during our mandate. We’ve been clear that these plans will be based on the province’s Housing Affordability Task Force, which made recommendations around increasing density and bringing more missing middle housing online.
We also know that the availability of labour and skilled trades is critical to increasing housing supply. That’s why our Minister of Labour is investing in skilled trades and is out there every single day encouraging more Ontarians to consider being involved in the building trades.
We’re also having an ongoing conversation with the federal government. We need them to work with us to deal with this ongoing labour shortage.
Our government—and I want to stress this—is committed to our plan to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. We’re going to get it done.
Amanda Molnar’s 20-year-old son is blind and non-verbal and has complex medical needs. He has had serious pneumonia three times since June. About a week ago, Amanda had to call an ambulance for him and was told that a backlog at the ER would mean at least a 15-hour wait at the hospital.
Does the Premier believe that a 15-hour wait for emergency health care is acceptable?
I would love for the member opposite to have some conversations with paramedics, with the organizations that are doing these innovative pieces—and saying, “Do you see value in expanding them beyond the current 49 pilots?” I see the value. We have made those changes and we’re expanding those programs, because we see it making a difference in the lives of patients.
Does the Premier believe that his government’s failure to deal with ER wait times is risking the health of patients like Amanda’s son?
We’re not going to keep doing the status quo and expect a different result. We’re having this innovation, we’re seeing results, and we’re continuing to expand it across Ontario.
CRIME PREVENTION / PRÉVENTION DU CRIME
My constituents in Don Valley North are concerned about the increase in auto theft and carjacking in our local community. We have all heard the news about Mitch Marner, star hockey player for the Toronto Maple Leafs, being the victim of a carjacking back in May, but it is happening to people all over Ontario, no matter who they may be. Over 5,300 vehicles have been stolen in Toronto so far this year. This figure represents an increase of 50% from last year.
My constituents know our government is fighting crime and supporting our front-line police officers.
Could the Solicitor General please explain to this House how our government is taking action on carjackings and auto theft?
Public safety remains our inherent right—to live in our community safely, and to walk our streets and to play in our parks and to go to school and to work safely together.
To the member’s question—and I thank him for it: Having your vehicle stolen at gunpoint is a traumatic event.
To be clear, many of these thefts are, in fact, related to gun and gang crimes. That’s why our government, together with our federal partners, has invested over $200 million to fight gang violence fuelled by smuggled guns.
Mr. Speaker, we also provided additional funding to the Toronto Police Service for more than $72 million through the Community Safety and Policing Grant program.
Monsieur le Président, je suis fier de soutenir nos policiers, agents correctionnels et pompiers tous les jours, et tous ceux qui assurent la sécurité de l’Ontario.
Toronto police officers have stated that when it comes to auto thefts, “there’s definitely greater sophistication, and it leads us to believe organized crime is involved. We can attribute a big chunk of these robberies to the same persons or groups of people.”
Speaker, as a member of this government, I am proud to stand here today and know that our government is getting it done by tackling gun and gang violence across Ontario and kicking criminals off the streets.
Could the Solicitor General please share more about our government’s strategy to tackle the problem of car thefts?
Our government is ensuring that our front-line officers have the technology they need to fight crime in our modern environment. We’re investing over $60 million for police services across the province to purchase the latest technology needed to identify stolen vehicles, outstanding warrants, and to track down Amber Alert targets faster. This technology will allow police officers to be alerted to stolen vehicles within their view faster than they could run the plates themselves.
Monsieur le Président, je suis fier de soutenir nos policiers et agents correctionnels et pompiers tous les jours, et tous ceux qui assurent la sécurité de l’Ontario.
When Michal Kaliszan, a resident of Waterloo region, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, doctors told him he had the life expectancy of 16 years, but he’s now 39 years old. Michal has beaten the odds, thanks to round-the-clock care from his parents. But with no family left to care for him and the lightning-fast passage of Bill 7, Michal says, without funding for a comprehensive home care program, the province will likely place him in a long-term-care home, which he says will be his “death sentence.” He is desperately trying to preserve his autonomy and his self-determination. This is a serious gap in our health care system.
Can the government explain why they think it’s appropriate for a 39-year-old man to be forced to live in a facility that primarily serves seniors?
But I have to ask, have you told Michal that you voted against a billion-dollar investment in home care—a billion dollars that we’re putting into community care?
We’re making sure that individuals like Michal who want to live in their home with support have that option available to them.
With the greatest of respect, when you vote against those kinds of investments, it sends a very different message to your constituents—that you do not believe in community care, that you do not believe that we need, as a province, to expand home care services in the province of Ontario. Clearly, we do.
Our government has made that commitment. We’ve made that investment.
Why isn’t the member opposite lauding that and talking about how that is going to make a difference in the lives of her constituents, including—
Michal’s mother is now in palliative care, and he says the GoFundMe program to raise money for his home care is “the only way that I can help my mom find peace as she’s more worried about me than her own death.”
Michal is semi-independent. He can work and has a life that is not defined by his disability. The care he receives should be reflective of that. But with no serious investment in a comprehensive home care program—because the gap is there, and the minister knows that—institutional care is looking more and more like the warehousing of vulnerable people like Michal. That is the system that you are overseeing, Minister.
Does this minister believe that this is the right care at the right time at the right place, like the long-term-care minister said yesterday—because Michal doesn’t, and neither do we.
This is how we are going to get a health care system that ensures that no matter where you are—in hospital, in long-term care, in your own home, in palliative care—we will have the supports available to support you through that journey.
I would first like to correct the record from yesterday. The claim that my amendments to Bill 3 were five hours late is completely false. The minister, as a seasoned veteran at Queen’s Park, should know that there is no hard deadline at committee. Please correct accordingly.
Mr. Speaker, on to my question: For a bill entitled Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, I find it unusual that the text of the bill fails to mention housing even once. The aforementioned proposed amendments I provided that focused on housing were deemed out of scope and principle at committee, yet the government continues to insist this bill is going to aid our housing crisis.
Can the minister please provide a concrete example of how this bill will be putting shovels in the ground and be specific about what types of housing will be built as a result?
The Associate Minister of Housing.
Speaker, 34 out of 35—that’s where Canada ranks when it comes to getting approvals to build more homes. The opposition might be okay with that. They were okay with it for 15 years. They let the people of this province down—we’re not. We campaigned on building 1.5 million homes so that we don’t let down the people of this province. They have continuously said no to housing. They have supported them.
We have said to every single Ontarian that we will do whatever it takes—we will use every tool and work with our municipal partners and our federal partners to make sure that we do not carry on the tradition of the previous government to let Ontarians down. We will build 1.5 million homes. We will work with every partner to make sure that happens, with or without their support.
My first amendment asked that the amount of new housing built within each city every year is proportionally sufficient to meet the goal of building 1.5 million new units of housing in Ontario by 2031. It also included the need for a progress report by the head of council to assess how well they have met that goal, including reasoning for why they have or have not met it and a plan for subsequent years. This amendment was deemed out of scope and principle.
Will the government be tracking and regularly reporting back about the building of new home units in these cities, in alignment with the 1.5 million homes? And if so, what system will you use?
One third of Ontario’s population in the next 10 years is going to be in Ottawa and in Toronto—so you absolutely are correct.
We are going to do everything we can to make sure that we increase the supply, because there’s a challenge here that some of my colleagues in the chamber don’t seem to understand—that we don’t have the supply to meet the demand. We haven’t—because they failed the people of Ontario. We’re not going to continue on that path.
We told Ontarians; I told Ontarians; every single person in this caucus, when we were campaigning, told the people of this province, “We’re not going to let you down.” We’re going to make sure we build homes. We’ll work with municipal partners, we’ll work with all our community partners to make sure that we not only build homes, but we build all types of homes for all Ontarians.
Mr. Speaker, 15 million people are depending on us. The next generation is looking at us to not let them down—and unlike them, we’re not going to do it.
Over a decade of Liberal government ignored rural Ontario. They closed over 600 schools, including schools in Essex county—and I can name a few, including Harrow High School and Western Secondary School.
School infrastructure should be updated continuously so that our students have top-quality facilities and an experience that prepares them for the jobs of tomorrow. Parents in Essex county want good, modern schools for their children.
So my question to the Minister of Education is this: What is the minister doing to make sure that kids in Essex county and across Ontario get good, modern schools?
Indeed, the people of Essex are very happy this morning because, under the member’s leadership—a $26-million investment—the North Star High School finally opened, under our government. We’re so excited for the 800 students who are going to benefit from this modern, state-of-the-art school.
What’s happening in Essex is taking place across our province. We have a $14-billion, 10-year commitment to rebuild and renew our schools. after the billions of dollars of deferred maintenance backlog that rose under the former Liberals. Under our Premier’s leadership, we have a hundred new schools that have been built, 88 additions and renovations are complete, $2 billion in active capital projects—working with my friend and colleague the Minister of Infrastructure, as we build modern schools with Internet and ventilation and accessibility, which every student in this province deserves.
Mr. Speaker, there are 200 school construction projects that have been approved since 2018.
We’re getting shovels in the ground. We’re moving mountains to ensure the next generation of kids have modern schools to learn—
But schools also need staff. They need teachers and assistants and custodians. And after two difficult years with COVID-19, more mental health supports are needed by our students. They need it the most. Some test scores are down. Various topics have suffered, especially math, due to the disruptions.
I know this minister is on the side of students and parents.
Specifically, what investments is the government making to make sure that the students in Essex county and across Ontario have a successful academic year?
With respect to staffing, we join others in celebrating the staff within our schools, and we’re proud that since—
When compared to the former Liberals, we are investing and getting the job done for students right across our province.
A public inquiry into the use of the federal Emergencies Act during recent convoy protests starts within weeks—the occupation that hit our city last February and March and that also impacted the good people of Windsor.
The deadline has passed to seek standing in this inquiry, and Ontario is not participating. Simple question: Why?
Back to the Premier: Our downtown streets, as the government knows, were choked with diesel fumes and trucks and horns blaring for weeks, and it took three weeks for this government to do anything declared by this federal Emergencies Act.
I know that participating in this inquiry requires disclosure of documents. Is that why the government is a no-show? Three other provinces are participating. Does it have something to hide, and is it prepared to tell the people of Ottawa and Windsor why it is refusing to participate in this disclosure process? Why are you not showing up?
The government House leader.
Of course, what he is talking about is the federal government’s enacting of a federal emergency. It is the federal Parliament and the House of Commons that are undertaking a review of the federal act, and it is incumbent—and I certainly trust that the federal government and our federal representatives across all three parties will undertake a thorough review on behalf of the people of Canada.
It’s no secret that previous Liberal governments delayed, dithered and abdicated responsibility instead of building critical infrastructure when they had the chance.
I speak with people in my riding of Brampton North daily, and one of the top concerns I hear is that gridlock is becoming unbearable for drivers.
Speaker, through you to the Minister of Transportation: Can she please reassure the members of this House that this government will get it done and build Highway 413?
As the member rightfully points out, drivers have waited long enough for relief from gridlock, and our government is delivering.
This highway will cut commute times in the GTA by up to 30 minutes each way—not 30 seconds, as the opposition incorrectly claims. This could be the difference between sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic or sitting down for dinner at home with your family.
But, Speaker, this highway offers so much more than just relief from gridlock. It will also support more than 3,500 jobs each year of construction, and it will generate up to $350 million in real annual GDP.
It is a pivotal time to build the infrastructure for Ontarians that will cut gridlock, create good jobs and provide opportunity for Ontarians.
Our government is paving the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future for Ontario by building Highway 413.
I drove in from Brampton this morning. It took me about an hour and a half. I was going left and right dodging trucks. We need to get this traffic under control.
Speaker, we know the opposition parties are against building new highways. When the Liberals were in power, they even convened a committee to cancel Highway 413. The demand for more transport infrastructure is already here, and gridlock will only worsen if governments don’t act. Instead of solutions from members on the other side, all we continue to hear is “no.”
Back to the Minister of Transportation: Can she please tell the House what our government is doing to right the wrongs of the previous Liberal and NDP governments and build Highway 413?
Speaker, drivers are paying the price every day for Liberal inaction. Successive Liberal governments refused to build, and the NDP supported this inaction year after year. All of us in this House can relate to the frustrations of sitting in idling traffic on our major highways, and that’s when you just want to get home or to work faster.
I want to reassure everyone in this House that under our PC government, led by this Premier, things are different. The days of endless studies and debates are over.
I am so proud that our government is answering the calls of countless Ontarians and is moving ahead with infrastructure projects like Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass.
I was glad to stand with workers on Labour Day, but I was even more glad to stand alongside workers on strike yesterday who are having a pretty tough go right now in their workplaces in Durham region. These Unifor 222 workers are cleaners at the college who work for GDI Services, a private, contracted company. This appears to be anything but a clean fight. When the pandemic hit, these workers rose to the challenge and went to work to protect the safety of everyone on campus. Now that these workers are in bargaining for fair wages, fair workloads and appropriate staffing levels, so they can actually do their jobs properly, GDI Services has rewarded their honest work by bringing in scab labour to take their jobs.
I’ve heard the Minister of Labour say that workers should be respected.
Does the Premier believe that scab labour is an appropriate way for this company to respect its workers?
I am aware of the labour disruption at Durham College. The Unifor activity outside of campus transitioned from a demonstration to traditional picketing on Monday, August 29. Ontario Tech was advised of this over the weekend and on Sunday sent out a campus-wide announcement reminding everyone about picketing protocols and best practices.
The agreement between GDI and their Unifor employees does allow for replacement workers, so GDI has had a full complement of people fulfilling the cleaning services on campus since the beginning of the strike.
The university is open, and all academic activities will continue as scheduled.
Cleaners on the picket line told me that the scabs have to use Google Translate to communicate, don’t have their WHMIS training, and don’t have the proper supplies or protections. Does this sound like a good idea or a safe idea for anyone involved?
When the NDP were in government, they brought in anti-scab legislation. The Harris regime got rid of that real quick.
So my question to the Premier is this: Will the Ford PCs support workers and support anti-scab legislation?
I’m happy to report that this situation does not impact student learning, which is a priority for myself, as the minister. The university is open, and all activities will remain and continue as scheduled. Ontario Tech is encouraging both GDI and the Unifor group to be at the table, getting this figured out as quickly as possible, and Ontario Tech expects to receive another update soon as to how talks are progressing between the two parties. But this is not affecting student learning at this time.
SERVICES EN FRANÇAIS
Il est important que les francophones aient accès à des services de qualité dans la langue de leur choix. Est-ce que la ministre peut expliquer comment notre gouvernement progresse en matière de désignation des régions?
En effet, l’accès à des services en français de qualité est au coeur de mes décisions. Plus de 80 % des francophones vivent dans l’une des régions désignées en vertu de la Loi sur les services en français. Grâce au leadership du Centre communautaire francophone de Sarnia-Lambton, Sarnia est en processus de devenir la 27e région désignée de la province. D’ailleurs, un comité a été formé pour veiller à la mise en oeuvre par novembre 2024.
Monsieur le Président, nous reconnaissons à quel point il est important pour les francophones d’avoir accès à des services en français de qualité afin de contribuer à l’essor social, culturel et économique de l’Ontario.
Monsieur le Président, autre que la désignation des régions, il y a aussi la désignation des organismes. Les organismes sont parfois confrontés à d’importants fardeaux administratifs. Est-ce que la ministre des Affaires francophones peut expliquer comment le gouvernement améliore les outils et le processus pour la désignation des organismes?
Afin de réduire le fardeau administratif et de faciliter les nouvelles demandes de désignation, nous avons transitionné d’un processus papier à une plateforme numérique. En plus de simplifier le processus pour les demandeurs, la plateforme permet aussi aux agences et ministère de suivre l’état des demandes en cours. On améliore ainsi, monsieur le Président, le temps de traitement tout en maintenant la rigueur qui assure des services en français de qualité.
Les services en français sont une priorité pour notre gouvernement, et on s’outille pour assurer la vitalité et le bien-être de nos communautés francophones.
In St. Paul’s, over 60% of our residents are renters and are struggling with rising rent and no real rent control.
Sandra is a constituent of mine who just received notice of another above-guideline rent increase of 4.2% over the next two years, which they say is to cover the cost of building repairs. Meanwhile, the corporate landlord that owns the building raked in $5.4 million in profit last year.
Why are tenants like Sandra expected to cover the cost of these repairs through an above-guideline rent increase—and not the millions of dollars in profit raked in by these corporate landlords?
During the pandemic, we were very clear. We looked at the formula for 2023, with inflation. We invoked the cap—it would have been 5.3%. We invoked the cap of 2.5%. We followed up with rolling back what could have been a 1.5% increase in the middle of the pandemic in 2021, and we froze rents, which was unprecedented in many of the provinces and territories.
We want to build upon our success. My response to the member for Eglinton–Lawrence talked about the fact that, over the last term of this government, we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of increase in rental construction. We want to build upon that, but at the same time—
Back to the Premier: AGIs were supposed to help small landlords cover unforeseen costs to keep tenants safely in place. However, reports show that it’s not small landlords benefiting. In fact, 84% of units impacted were owned by wealthy, profitable, corporate landlords, like those that own 440 Winona—another building in our riding that was just hit with another outrageous AGI. This misuse is why I put forward the motion asking to ban above-guideline rent increases and help struggling tenants catch up during and after the pandemic. This government said no to me, but most importantly, they said no to St. Paul’s and Ontario.
So I’ll ask again of this Premier and his caucus: Will this government stand up to corporate greed and ban abusive above-guideline rent increases—
Speaker, our government has provided more protection for tenants than any government in the past 70 years. The minister has alluded to the decision—the measures we put in throughout the pandemic, now, and even to protect tenants next year.
It’s important to talk about the fact that when we talk about housing and protection for tenants, supply is very important.
I’m really interested now to see that the opposition is finally talking about housing again.
We have continuously been there for tenants. When we were putting protections in Bill 184 through this ministry, we raised the fines to $50,000 for individuals who were breaking the law, $250,000 if it was a corporation—various measures to protect tenants.
What did the opposition do? They have continuously voted against every measure that protects tenants in this province. So while they vote against it, we will continue to be there for every single tenant in—
Farmers in Perth–Wellington are responsible stewards of the land, implementing best practices like sustainable crop rotations. Governments must partner with them, rather than impose targets that could impact crop yields.
To the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: Can she please explain how our government is working with farmers in my riding and across Ontario who are adopting the best management practices and supporting sustainable growth for our agriculture sector?
Over the decades, Ontario farmers have been embracing best practices. They have environmental farm plans. They have nutrient management plans. They’re embracing the 4R principle for fertilizer use, using the right fertilizer source—the proper source, and they’re using it at the right rate, and they’re using it at the right time, and in the right place. The former practices of broad application aren’t employed any longer.
Our government has also invested $21 million to assist farmers in completing over 2,000 cost-shared programs and an additional $2.5 million to ensure that the Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability program succeeds.
I know that farmers in Perth–Wellington are concerned about the negative impacts of the federal government’s approach to reducing emissions through imposed targets. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, farmers are already facing complex challenges, including a federal carbon tax that will cost farmers $25 million this year alone and, by 2030, $108 million per year.
The Wellington Federation of Agriculture president has said that producers have already cut back on fertilizer use because of costs and better application strategies.
When food security and stable supply chains are top of mind, we need to support our farm families so they can be competitive in the global market, rather than imposing punitive targets that could impact our food production.
Again, to the minister: What is our government doing to support our farmers through these challenging times?
Earlier this spring, I hosted a food summit, and again, we listened and valued the input from hundreds of participants. As a result, we are now working on a food security and stable supply chain strategy, in addition to an innovation strategy to propel our entire sector forward. We also have a soil action group that is working on a made-in-Ontario soil strategy.
Over and above that, Speaker, I have to share with you that I’m very proud to say that in the very near future, we will be supporting timely and thoughtful initiatives that will be geared towards fertilizer use and solutions.
Our government is working with farmers like never before and—
Donna is frustrated with this government, and she’s frustrated with me, as her MPP, as well. She’s frustrated with this government for not helping her.
Donna is on ODSP. Donna felt like it was a slap in her face when she was notified that she would be receiving $58 per month extra on her ODSP payment. That was an absolute insult to her. Donna expressed her frustration to me with passion and anger, because Donna was speaking to me on behalf of many individuals across northern Ontario. She is trying to voice her views and their views.
My question is, will the Premier commit to doubling the ODSP rates?
Our government has been committed to making sure that people who are experiencing vulnerabilities in their lives are getting the supports they need, whether it’s people who have lost their job and need to be reskilled and retrained, or whether it’s people who cannot work. That’s exactly why we began, when we came into government, with an increase in ODSP, after the previous government failed to do so until right before an election that they knew they would lose.
We also created a historic increase in ODSP—and the numbers do not speak to the entire whole-of-government effort. What we have done is to create an across-government approach, looking at the LIFT credit, the CARE credit, the jobs training credit, the energy and property tax credit, making sure that we provide the supports to people that they need, across government. And we’ve been working across levels of government—
Here’s a statement from Donna: “If any of them had a single ethical bone in their body or even the slightest hint of common decency, they would do what is right. Does” the Premier “not realize some people on ODSP are fighting mental illness? People with cancer, people that had strokes, people that had multiple sclerosis—the list goes on and on. He needs to stop painting everyone with the same paintbrush. The Premier and prior governments always target the poor. You can’t make healthy people by destroying them. They will never be fit to hold a job. But what it will do is push more people to seek out MAID.”
My question is, do you agree with Donna?
I understand the situation that Donna is in. As a family physician, I was very aware of the difficulties people experienced.
I’m very proud of this government’s track record: increasing ODSP at the beginning; then supporting people during COVID with the social services relief fund of $1 billion; then a historic increase in the ODSP rates aligned to inflation; and all of my colleagues working continuously, across the board, to create programs that help people—the LIFT, the CARE, the Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit, the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, the Roadmap to Wellness, the micro-credentialing strategy, the child care programs, the Ontario Child Benefit, the dental care programs, the minimum wage. This is an across-government approach.
We’ll continue to support those who need it, despite the opposition voting no to every measure we put forward.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
NOTICES OF DISSATISFACTION
Also, pursuant to standing 36(a), the member for Beaches–East York has given notice of her dissatisfaction to the answer given to her question by the Associate Minister of Housing concerning Bill 3, the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act. This matter will also be debated today, following private members’ private business.
Call in the members. This is a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1144 to 1149.
All those in favour will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.
Motion agreed to.
The House recessed from 1153 to 1500.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
AUDITOR GENERAL AMENDMENT ACT, 2022 / LOI DE 2022 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LE VÉRIFICATEUR GÉNÉRAL
Madame Gélinas moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 19, An Act to amend the Auditor General Act / Projet de loi 19, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le vérificateur général.
First reading agreed to.
This is an act that exists in Nova Scotia, and most provinces are moving ahead with amendments to the Auditor General Act because of what happened at Laurentian University.
ACCESS TO SEXUAL ASSAULT EVIDENCE KITS AND PROVISION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT EDUCATION ACT, 2022 / LOI DE 2022 SUR L’ACCÈS AUX TROUSSES MÉDICO-LÉGALES EN CAS D’AGRESSION SEXUELLE ET LA FOURNITURE DE FORMATION SUR LES AGRESSIONS SEXUELLES
Madame Collard moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 20, An Act to amend two Acts with respect to sexual assault evidence kits at hospitals and education about sexual assault in nursing programs / Projet de loi 20, Loi modifiant deux lois en ce qui concerne les trousses médico-légales en cas d’agression sexuelle dans les hôpitaux et la formation sur les agressions sexuelles dans les programmes en sciences infirmières.
First reading agreed to.
La Loi de 2000 favorisant le choix et l’excellence au niveau postsecondaire est modifiée pour exiger que les personnes qui attribuent des grades en sciences infirmières en vertu de cette loi offrent gratuitement une formation d’infirmières.
Ça amende aussi la Loi sur les hôpitaux publics pour exiger que les hôpitaux aient en tout temps au moins 10 trousses médico-légales en cas d’agression sexuelle à la disposition des patients.
FIXING LONG-TERM CARE AMENDMENT ACT (TILL DEATH DO US PART), 2022 / LOI DE 2022 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LE REDRESSEMENT DES SOINS DE LONGUE DURÉE (JUSQU’À CE QUE LA MORT NOUS SÉPARE)
Ms. Fife moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 21, An Act to amend the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021 to provide spouses with the right to live together in a home / Projet de loi 21, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2021 sur le redressement des soins de longue durée afin d’accorder aux conjoints le droit de vivre ensemble dans un foyer.
First reading agreed to.
I introduce this bill in honour of Jim and Joan MacLeod, who’ve been separated for four and a half years. The third time’s the charm.
POET LAUREATE OF ONTARIO AMENDMENT ACT (FRENCH- LANGUAGE POET LAUREATE OF ONTARIO), 2022 / LOI DE 2022 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LE POÈTE OFFICIEL DE L’ONTARIO (POÈTE OFFICIEL DE L’ONTARIO DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE)
Madame Collard moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 22, An Act to amend the Poet Laureate of Ontario Act (In Memory of Gord Downie), 2019 with respect to the establishment of a French-language Poet Laureate / Projet de loi 22, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2019 sur le poète officiel de l’Ontario (à la mémoire de Gord Downie) concernant la création de la charge de poète officiel de langue française.
First reading agreed to.
La loi est également modifiée pour exiger qu’au moins deux des membres du comité de sélection d’un poète officiel de l’Ontario de langue française soient en mesure d’évaluer les oeuvres originales en français des candidats à la charge.
“I Support Small Ice Cream Shops in Ontario.
“Whereas small ice cream shops offer customers a delicious treat, dairy producers valuable clients, and offer staff jobs;
“Whereas the Milk Act prevents small ice cream shops from local wholesaling, even if the source of their dairy ingredients comes from a certified dairy plant. In fact, the Milk Act currently restricts the wholesale of any products made with dairy ingredients, not just ice cream;
“Whereas small ice cream shops that wholesale without their own certified dairy plants are subject to thousands of dollars in fines...;
“Whereas consumers have the right to choose from a variety of safe dairy products, and not just those made by large suppliers;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to allow small ice cream shops access to local markets for wholesaling, provided all ingredients are fully traceable, and all dairy ingredients come from certified dairy plants in Ontario.”
Once again, I’m happy to sign this petition and send it with page Apollo to the Clerks’ table.
HEALTH CARE FUNDING
“Whereas our government was elected with a plan to stay open by investing in hospitals, long-term-care homes and home care and Ontario’s health care workforce; and
“Whereas to accomplish this our government is:
“—investing $40 billion in capital over 10 years for hospitals and other health infrastructure to meet the challenges that may lie ahead;
“—spending $764 million over two years to provide nurses with up to $5,000 retention bonuses;
“—investing $42.5 million over two years, beginning in 2023-24, to support the expansion of 160 undergraduate and 295 post-graduate positions, including at the new medical schools in Brampton and Scarborough;
“—investing an additional $1 billion in home care over three years;
“—shoring up domestic production of critical supplies and ensuring Ontario is prepared for future emergencies by committing, as of April 2022, more than $77 million of the Ontario Together Fund to leverage almost $230 million in investments to support manufacturing of Ontario-made personal protective equipment;
“—investing $3.5 billion over three years to support the continuation of over 3,000 hospital beds put in place during the pandemic, and $1.1 billion over three years to support the continuation of hundreds of new adult, pediatric and neonatal critical care beds added during COVID-19;
“—a new refundable Ontario Seniors Care at Home Tax Credit to help seniors aged 70 and older with eligible home care medical expenses to help people stay in their homes longer; and
“—a province-wide expansion to the community paramedicine program, enabling community paramedics to provide key non-emergent health care services within homes for eligible seniors;
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly”—and I’m happy to affix my signature to this.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas Ontario’s social assistance rates are well below Canada’s official Market Basket Measure poverty line and woefully inadequate to cover the basic costs of food and rent;
“Whereas individuals on the Ontario Works program receive just $733 per month and individuals on the Ontario Disability Support Program receive just $1,169 per month, only 41% and 65% of the poverty line;
“Whereas the Ontario government has not increased social assistance rates since 2018, and Canada’s inflation rate in January 2022 was 5.1%, the highest rate in 30 years;
“Whereas the government of Canada recognized through the CERB program that a ‘basic income’ of $2,000 per month was the standard support required by individuals who lost their employment during the pandemic;
“We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly to increase social assistance rates to a base of $2,000 per month for those on Ontario Works, and to increase other programs accordingly.”
I wholeheartedly support this petition, thank the folks who are continuing to sign them and send them in to me, and give it to page Arushi to bring to the Clerk.
“Whereas our government made a promise to hard-working Ontarians in each and every region of the province that we would have their backs and never stop working for workers; and
“Whereas under the leadership of Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton, we have brought in unprecedented reforms and support to deliver for the working people of this province; and
“Whereas our government has raised the minimum wage to $15.50 an hour to help workers and their families with the cost of living, earn bigger paycheques and save for their future; and
“Whereas we have committed to completely eliminating the provincial income tax for anyone making $50,000 or less, keeping money where it belongs, in the pockets of hard-working Ontarian workers; and
“Whereas new changes to the Employment Standards Act require employers with 25 or more employees to have a written policy about employees disconnecting from their jobs at the end of the workday to help employees spend more time with their families; and
“Whereas the government is now investing $1 billion annually in employment and training programs so that unemployed or underemployed workers can train for high-paying, in-demand, family-supporting careers; and
“Whereas we are spending an additional $114 million over three years for the skilled trades strategy, addressing the shortage of workers in the skilled trades by modernizing the system and giving Ontarians the tools they need to join this lucrative workforce; and
“Whereas we are introducing protection for digital platform workers, the first in Canada, to support workers in this economy bring home better, bigger paycheques while improving job security;
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To urge all members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to deliver on the commitment made to the people of Ontario by working for workers.”
I thoroughly endorse this petition, will sign it and give it to page Lucas to bring to the table.
“Whereas safety inspectors at the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) help ensure the safety of Ontarians by inspecting amusement park rides, food trucks, elevators, fuel-burning equipment, propane-dispensing stations, boilers and pressure vessels in our schools, hospitals, long-term-care homes, nuclear power plants and more...;
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to:
“—intervene to ensure that the TSSA stop its stonewalling, return to the bargaining table and negotiate fairly with OPSEU/SEFPO Local 546 TSSA members to reach a deal;
“—ensure that newly unionized employees have automatic access to first contract arbitration should they want it when bargaining reaches an impasse; and
“—commit to labour policies and legislation that are actually working for workers and advance a decent work agenda for all working people in Ontario.”
I’d like to affix my signature to this and then pass this to Norah to return to the table.
“Whereas today Ontario is facing the largest labour shortage in a generation with over 300,000 jobs going unfilled, 300,000 paycheques and opportunities for families across the province; and
“Whereas our previous work in expanding the employment services transformation builds on the success of the first three integrated regions in Peel, Hamilton-Niagara and Muskoka-Kawarthas, where 87% of clients completing their employment plans have found jobs and 81% are working more than 20 hours a week; and
“Whereas the second career program has traditionally helped laid-off unemployed workers access the training they need to become qualified for in-demand, well-paying jobs; and
“Whereas in Ontario’s 2022 budget, Ontario’s Plan to Build, we introduced the Better Jobs Ontario program; and
“Whereas the Better Jobs Ontario program is another major step in our mission to work for workers by:
“—providing access to the program for people with limited or non-traditional work experience, including gig workers, newcomers and the self-employed who need training to get a job;
“—investing $5 million in new funding in 2022-23, in addition to the nearly $200 million invested over the last three years, paying up to 28,000 for short-duration, job-specific training, including those on social assistance, those who are self-employed, gig workers, youth and newcomers;
“—expanding on the current second career program, more applicants will be eligible for up to $500 per week in financial support for basic living expenses, improving client experiences, supporting short-duration training, increasing funding for wraparound supports and prioritizing supports for laid-off and unemployed workers in sectors most impacted by COVID-19.
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To urge all members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to support the progress being made in support of workers through transformative programs such as the Better Jobs Ontario program.”
I’m very happy to sign this petition and provide it to Juliet.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas Ontarians should get health care based on need—not the size” of their wallets;
“Whereas” the Premier and Health Minister “say they’re planning to privatize parts of health care;
“Whereas privatization will bleed nurses, doctors and PSWs out of our public hospitals, making the health care crisis worse;
“Whereas privatization always ends with patients getting a bill;
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately stop all plans to further privatize Ontario’s health care system, and fix the crisis in health care by:
“—repealing Bill 124 and recruiting, retaining and respecting doctors, nurses and PSWs with better pay and better working conditions;
“—licensing tens of thousands of internationally educated nurses and other health care professionals already in Ontario, who wait years and pay thousands to have their credentials certified;
“—making education and training free or low-cost for nurses, doctors and other health care professionals;
“—incentivizing doctors and nurses to choose to live and work in northern Ontario;
“—funding hospitals to have enough nurses on every shift, on every ward.”
I couldn’t agree more with this petition. I will affix my signature and send it to the table with page Arushi.
“Whereas the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs should continue to develop agricultural policy with an emphasis on food security and consideration of the entire agri-food supply chain; and
“Whereas the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs advocates to the federal government to adopt similar policies related to agriculture and food processing, in the spirit of ensuring Ontario farmers remain productive and competitive;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario adopt a motion calling on the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to continue to develop agricultural policy with an emphasis on food security and consideration of the entire agri-food supply chain, and advocate to the federal government to adopt similar policies related to agriculture and food processing, in the spirit of ensuring that Ontario farmers remain productive and competitive.”
Speaker, I fully endorse this petition. I will sign it and hand it to page Lucas.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas Ontarians should get health care based on need—not the size of your wallet;
“Whereas” the Premier and health minister “say they’re planning to privatize parts of health care;
“Whereas privatization will bleed nurses, doctors and PSWs out of our public hospitals, making the health care crisis worse;
“Whereas privatization always ends with patients getting a bill;
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately stop all plans to further privatize Ontario’s health care system, and fix the crisis in health care by:
“—repealing Bill 124...;
“—licensing tens of thousands of internationally educated nurses and other health care professionals...;
“—making education and training free or low-cost for nurses, doctors and other health care professionals....”
I fully support this petition. I will affix my signature and pass it to page Norah.
“Whereas we know that building critical infrastructure is crucial to delivering better services, moving people faster and generating long-term sustainable economic growth; and
“Whereas under the leadership of Premier Ford our government is making historic investments to build and repair infrastructure in every region of Ontario; and
“Whereas at the heart of the plan is a capital investment of $158.8 billion over the next 10 years, with $20 billion in 2022 and 2023 alone, and includes plans to invest in trains, roads and subways; and
“Whereas our plan includes $25.1 billion in capital over 10 years to support planning, building and improving highways, including Highway 413, the Bradford Bypass, the 401 and Highway 7; and
“Whereas part of this capital investment includes $61.6 billion in capital over 10 years for public transit, including expanding GO rail services to London and Bowmanville...;
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To urge all members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to support Ontario’s historic program to build highways and key infrastructure.”
I would like to thank George for submitting this petition. I proudly affix my signature to it and will provide it to Ying Ying.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
STRONG MAYORS, BUILDING HOMES ACT, 2022 / LOI DE 2022 POUR DES MAIRES FORTS ET POUR LA CONSTRUCTION DE LOGEMENTS
Resuming the debate adjourned on September 7, 2022, on the motion for third reading of the following bill:
Bill 3, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to special powers and duties of heads of council / Projet de loi 3, Loi modifiant diverses lois en ce qui concerne les pouvoirs et fonctions spéciaux des présidents du conseil.
It should be no surprise to those in the House that, given my history of championing local government, urbanism and my love for the city of Toronto, I have many thoughts to share about this bill. I want to start by calling a spade a spade. This bill has nothing to do with housing and everything to do with a revenge plot. The Premier has clearly not gotten over his anger at Torontonians for refusing to make him their mayor in 2014. The counsel I would suggest that the Premier seek to process his residual anger is that from a therapist and not legislative counsel. This bill again demonstrates the Premier’s disregard for Toronto’s democracy and Toronto’s city council. It’s simply a power grab.
We can have a conversation about the merits of a strong-mayor system—that I would welcome—but that is not what the government is proposing through Bill 3. But the Premier doesn’t want to hear from Torontonians; or, even worse, he’ll do exactly the opposite of what they want. Case in point: After a multi-year consultation with Toronto residents, in 2016 Toronto city council adopted an independent report to amend the ward boundary review to achieve voter parity. Even the Ontario Municipal Board sided with city council. In 2018, the Premier ignored Toronto residents to collapse our democratically determined districts into double-sized mega wards. Now a city of nearly three million residents has 25 councillors, which is nearly the same number of councillors as the city of Ottawa, which only has one million residents.
Toronto is the fourth-largest government in North America, with an annual operating budget of $15 billion, the most diverse city on the planet, where nearly three million residents speak over 200 languages, and the Premier wants to centralize power into the hands of one man.
The Premier is not interested in making life better for people in Toronto; he is, however, interested in perpetuating a political system that only allows people who are almost always rich, almost always white, almost always male and almost always incumbents to run and win political office. When 52% of Torontonians belong to a visible minority group and yet only 20% of city councillors do, there is something tragically wrong with that. I’m going to dig into this flaw a little bit further in the legislation, as someone who has had the experience of running both in a municipal city election as well as now running for a political party in the provincial system.
Running for municipal office, as many of the colleagues here will know, is an individual endeavour. It is not going to be accessible to all residents. There are many systemic barriers to overcome, and this discourages diverse voices who deserve to see themselves represented from running because they are not able to. As a councillor, you have to build an organization team from scratch. You have to network and strategize your path to victory almost by yourself. And then you better have the financial means to be able to put your life on hold for the next five to eight months, let alone to fundraise for a political campaign.
Nothing about the demands I describe are structurally favourable for the leaders our city truly and honestly needs. Our city is full of these leaders who are Black, Indigenous, women, people of colour, queer, two-spirited, trans, low income, people living with disabilities and working-class people. They should have a chance to run for political office. A strong-mayor system will actually deter that.
If we were discussing a bill that actually did anything to strengthen Toronto’s democracy, it would actually allow cities to implement ranked ballots, repeal Bill 5 and empower Toronto’s democratically elected government to have a say in the size of their council and the size of their municipal wards. It should enact proportional representation provincially so that cities could also have predictability and long-term plans that persist through changes in government through their provincial counterparts. It should also limit this government’s ability to enact MZOs that undermine public faith in the planning process.
But if this government was actually proposing a bill to get more housing built, I can offer you some advice on that. After all, I was appointed by Mayor Tory and I served eight years on the planning and growth management committee and another additional four—eight altogether—on the planning and housing committee, when I only resigned on May 3 to run in the provincial election.
During those eight years on the planning and growth management and planning and housing committees, I sat directly across from Toronto’s chief planner, the housing secretariat, the director of urban design, the general manager of heritage planning, the director of transportation planning, the director of strategic initiatives, policy and planning, and others. This was led by our chief planner with our professional planning division of 477 full-time employees, staff who oversaw one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing likes to patronize Toronto from his town seat in Brockville. He often boasts that Toronto’s mired in red tape and repeatedly insults city council for their inefficiency. The minister seems to conveniently ignore that in the first quarter of 2022, Toronto had 252 cranes working on construction projects, far outdistancing even the second-place city in the crane index, Los Angeles, which had 51. Seattle was next with 37 cranes; Calgary had 31; and Washington, DC, had 26. Toronto has led in the crane index count every year since 2015.
Meeting provincial growth targets has not been a challenge for the planning and housing committee; nor has it been a challenge for city council. I was constantly, and we were constantly, reminded of this by Toronto’s chief planner, whom I had the distinct honour of working with. Toronto’s chief planner, Gregg Lintern, wrote in his recent Development Pipeline 2021 report:
“The city continues to be an exceptionally attractive” place “for development in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). There are more residential units and more non-residential GFA proposed in the current Development Pipeline than in any other Pipeline over the last five years. Given the scale of this proposed development, comprehensive planning frameworks that link infrastructure” to comprehensive planning that allows us to manage the city’s growth is what we need to determine how we improve the quality of life. The pandemic has not deterred development activity in Toronto.
The city of Toronto’s population growth is firmly on track with the forecast supporting A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. As the city’s urban growth centres develop, they are progressing towards or exceeding the province’s density targets set out in the 2020 growth plan as amended by this House.
In Toronto, our professional city planners know this government’s strong mayors bill posing as a housing bill is an absolute farce. Councillors and city planners representing avenues, urban growth centres, especially in midtown, North York and downtown have individually approved more housing than all the MPPs in this House combined together—mathematical fact.
Here’s the receipt from the 2021 housing report from our chief planner: In total, over 503,000 residential units were proposed in projects with development activity from 2016 to 2020. Of this, only 93,000 were actually built. There are more than 162 residential units that have been approved but not built. Again, 246,000 units still under active review, which means that there are about 409,000 residential units that are either under review or active, indicating a continuation of strong development activity in Toronto. In the coming years, what we will see is that the residential units, if all realized over time, will increase the total number of dwellings in the city by over one third.
The next point I have to share with this chamber, Speaker, is that having a strong-mayor system sounds vaguely like a positive thing. What this bill’s title and framing are is fundamentally misleading and unfair. So allow me to frame it more simply based on the recent experience that we’ve had in the city.
What happens when your strong mayor refuses to take basic steps—
Allow me to reframe this debate for you since we’re talking about the strong mayor. I want to share with you a recent experience that the cities have. You can call it any city.
What happens when your strong mayor refuses to take basic steps to march in the Pride parade to support the 2SLGBTQ community? What happens when your strong mayor has a history of police having to investigate domestic violence, including pressing charges? What happens when your strong mayor was documented handing out $20 bills in social housing to win favour? What happens when your mayor is the kind of person who says, “If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you won’t get AIDS probably”? What happens when your strong mayor always votes against funding HIV/AIDS programs? What happens when your strong mayor rips out bike lanes and blames cyclists for cars hitting them? What happens when your strong mayor promotes digging a private toll tunnel under the Toronto Gardiner Expressway to avoid hitting cyclists?
What happens when your strong mayor charges into his own deputy mayor during a city council meeting, causing her to live with chronic pain until the day she died? What happens when your strong mayor tries to buy and privatize the abutting public parkland next to his house to enlarge his backyard? What happens when your strong mayor tries to take over the waterfront by dropping a mega mall and Ferris wheel without support from the local residents or city council? What happens when your mayor says a home for the developmentally disabled youth in Etobicoke had ruined the community? What happens when your mayor calls women reporters “bitches”?
This Premier wants to impose a strong-mayor system in Toronto to support his provincial priorities—
This Premier wants to impose a strong-mayor system in Toronto to support his provincial priorities, yet we have no idea what the provincial priorities are. The mandate letters aren’t even made public, and you expect us to just accept this carte blanche. But given our recent experience in Toronto, I would say no thanks.
Speaker, mayors are human, and everyone makes mistakes. I know that we can expand ourselves and go beyond that. But some are corrupt and some are incompetent.
City councils as a whole are far more accountable because we can allow the checks and balances to take place. There will be far more accountability with a strong local government when we deliver good and open government for the residents of Toronto and for Ottawa. A strong-mayor system opens the door for corruption and costly mistakes. These are not my words or my assumption; this was already said by the integrity commissioner. That is a price that I don’t think Torontonians are ready to make. It’s certainly a price that’s too expensive; we can’t afford it.
Recently, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing mocked me for promoting a red-light development system to stop development. What he conveniently omitted was that it was a red-light system to hinder bad development and a green-light system to advance good development. He forgot to say that.
He conveniently forgot to tell the whole story, which was widely reported in the Toronto media at that time. But the Toronto city planners will remember this story because in 2019, after this government first took office, the minister unilaterally tore up the city of Toronto’s downtown secondary plan. We had been working on this document for a number of years and it was going to guide our urban growth for the next 25 years.
The planning document was clearly studied and consultations took place with residents and home builders alike. This government’s 224 changes, surgical changes to Toronto’s downtown secondary plan, included eliminating and reducing infrastructure such as daycares and other community facilities as a condition of development. With a stroke of their pen, they enriched developer donors without binding them to building sustainable, responsible buildings in complete neighbourhoods—what every urbanist is asking for.
As a response to this ripping up of our secondary plan, downtown councillors, with the support of our city planners, created a “red light, green light” system to evaluate which development proposals got prioritized, which ones were going to be advanced. We were determined to make sure that even if you tore up, even if this House tore up our secondary plan, we were going to do everything we could to hang on to it because we worked so darn hard at it.
In Ontario, land use planning has always been an important part of the work expected from the local representative. In 2012, I worked with city council to free Toronto from the Ontario Municipal Board in getting the Liberal government to reform and modernize the quasi-judicial, unelected, unaccountable board.
The very next year, after this government was elected, they tossed all those consultations and all that work out the window, into the garbage bin, and then they brought back the OMB, bigger, stronger and uglier than ever before, with a brand new name: the Ontario Land Tribunal.
This government does not stand for good planning or even good development. They don’t even hide the fact that they reward their wealthy developers and land speculator donors. This government prints MZOs like it’s money for rich donors, paves over wetlands for developers, and illegally tears down heritage buildings, like the foundry buildings in the west Donlands, for mystery buyers. They stopped the construction of North York housing for the homeless. The government doesn’t care about housing, but only about those who are enriched and who can keep them in power.
If the Premier truly cared about housing—I want to make this case—he would:
—meet with the co-op housing federation’s requests for seed grant funding;
—empower cities to investigate rule-breaking Airbnbs so that we can actually get our bylaws back under order. We could put 6,500 family homes right into the market today with a stroke of your pen;
—investigate and crack down on money laundering in the housing sector and land speculation;
—introduce rent control and vacancy decontrol legislation to rein in spiraling rental costs;
—fund the construction of new affordable housing so that the most precariously housed among us will be stabilized;
—create incentives to build the right kind of housing, not small bachelors for speculators but the right kind of housing that’s large, family sized, with three, four, five bedrooms. This House would even invest in creating rent-to-own programs for communities like mine in Regent Park, and family-sized and rent-geared-to-income units; and
—mandate universal design and accessible housing standards so that people who use mobility devices will have access to every single unit without being asked to languish on a wait-list.
If this government truly supported housing, you would actually support Mayor Tory’s HousingTO, a $24-billion plan to build 40,000 homes over the next 10 years, which requires a financial commitment from three orders of government, approximately $7.1 billion each—that’s billion with a B.
If this government actually wants to build housing, then you need to spend the money that you’ve been hoarding and not the millions that you sprinkle around, that you re-announce and re-announce and re-announce. We’ve all heard those stories before and we’ve seen those press releases at the city of Toronto.
In fact, every three to six months, city council will reiterate its request to this government for the outstanding $7 billion of capital and operating funding that we need in order for the mayor to meet his housing targets.
If this government was serious about housing, then they would issue the city-initiated MZO that the city council has been asking for for two years at 175 Cummer Avenue in North York, but instead the MPP and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has put the brakes on that, asking for more consultation. So we now have 69 units of new, prefabricated housing that could be homes, sitting in a parking lot while people are sleeping in encampments, while we carry out bogus consultation.
Residents know that talk is cheap. This government talks a good deal about housing, but when it comes to building housing and paying the bill for housing, to get shovels in the ground, very little is taking place. Residents are expected to pay their rent on time; we expect the government to pay their bills on time.
For all those reasons—and I could go on, but I’m not going to because I’m getting a little worked up. And to be quite honest, so are the residents of Toronto and so are the members of city council and so is our planning department, because we have all worked so hard to build one of the most globally competitive and dynamic cities in Canada, if not around the world, where we’re world leaders on innovation, green tech and sustainable technology. We are a major employment cluster, a major producer of the GDP, yet we get treated like this. Torontonians deserve better. City council deserves better.
We are looking for a partnership in this government to build housing for Ontarians. This bill doesn’t do any of that, and that is why I cannot support it.
During my time at city council, we saw record development applications come in and record approvals. Are we on track? Absolutely. But is everybody else on track in every community where people want to live? That question has yet to be seen.
Thank you very much for that really passionate and informative speech. Thank you so much to the member from Toronto Centre. It’s a real honour to serve in this House with you.
You’ve mentioned to me in conversation that in July alone, the city council of the city of Toronto passed approvals for 24,000 housing units. I want to make sure that that the number is correct. If the city is meeting all of its growth targets, if they are approving the housing that needs to be built, why is this government trying to undermine city council? Why do you believe?
I have seen that there is an expansion of casinos. I have seen that there is, perhaps, the ability to take over city council. There is probably even some conversation, based on the bill, that perhaps you’d give up the powers from the elected mayor, that somehow you could usurp that and give it to a politically appointed mayor and the regional chairs. All of that is in the bill. What’s not in the bill is any language that speaks about housing.
What the developers are looking for, what they’re really, really looking for, is help to reduce the costs of borrowing. They’re looking for some stability in the supply chain, and they’re looking for help with the labour shortage.
I was at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference and heard from various big city mayors, who shared with us that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing didn’t have the answers to the questions that they had. Apparently, they asked questions like, “What if municipal priorities are at odds with provincial priorities?” or “Do they need a population threshold?” or “What will the consultation process with the mayors be?” And they kept being told that there would be a portal and an email.
So my question is: Is that good enough? Does the member know of the answers to those questions? Because the mayors that we heard from didn’t ask for this and had a lot of questions.
Speaker, my question is, why does the member opposite oppose our government’s plan to build more homes, and more affordable homes, for all Ontarians? Talk is cheap. Will the member finally support our plan to build more homes here in Ontario and grow our province?
However, you do ask a good question about whether or not I would support the bill. I told you I would if it had anything to do with housing, and there’s not a stitch of language in here that actually produces more housing, and definitely nothing on deeply affordable housing.
Who stands to lose is literally everyone else, including the three million residents of Toronto, who now have to go to the one mayor as opposed to working with their city councillor, who becomes a little bit rudderless, and perhaps disempowered. But you’re not disempowering city councillors, you’re actually disenfranchising the voters. So who is this bill disadvantaging? It’s Torontonians.
My first proposed amendment to the bill was a duty to ensure housing is built. It read: “The head of council has the duty of ensuring that the amount of new housing built within the city in each year is proportionately sufficient to meet the goal of building 1.5 million new units of housing in Ontario by 2031.” It went on to require the government to assess the number of new homes being built and provide a progress report to ensure transparency in order to reach measurable goals. As they say, that which gets measured gets done.
But my amendment was deemed out of scope. How will the government be held accountable without a system in place to track their lofty goal of building 1.5 million homes in 2031? With the way that this bill is written, the government has zero obligation to report back about how many homes are actually being built. That will let Ontarians down and continue to accelerate the housing crisis we are in. This bill will do nothing concrete to build 1.5 million homes by 2031.
I am also concerned about the types of housing we are talking about. Nowhere does this bill mention any details of this. Do we intend to build more co-op housing, affordable rental housing, laneway and garden suites, duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, stacked townhomes, supportive housing, missing-middle options? Or are we just intending to build single-family detached homes, taking up a huge environmental footprint and housing one single family? We know full well—or we had better know—that the latter, single-family detached homes, will never, ever solve this housing crisis. So are we including a plethora of housing options anywhere and everywhere, and are we making them as of right?
What is this bill actually doing to address the serious problem of vacant homes? My second amendment to the bill would require the government to take inventory of vacant homes and have a duty to reduce this list by 50% every four years. This amendment was obviously deemed out of scope and principle again. We need creative solutions to this affordability crisis, and the government has a responsibility to look at all options, including how we can fill these vacant homes. There is a four-bedroom home in my neighbourhood that has been vacant for close to 30 years. We cannot have homes sit empty in a housing crisis. Why not utilize all the housing that we already have available?
The government claims this bill is meant to remove barriers in order to build more homes. Why not simply use the provincial powers we have to do this? Why do we need this strong-mayors bill? As a former Toronto city councillor, I know first-hand the effects that the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act will have on our municipal governments in Toronto and Ottawa, should the mayors choose to use the powers outlined in the text. Allowing a mayor to have the power to choose the chairs of all committees and boards is a slippery slope. These chairs should represent the needs of the city as a whole, not be appointed because they’re friends with the mayor—not to mention allowing them to veto bylaws when they so choose. This threatens municipal democracy. People vote for a city council to represent them and the needs of their riding. We need to keep this sanctity. We owe it to voters in these cities.
In Toronto, we have also seen the strong-powers idea isn’t needed to advance housing projects. Just this past June, the Toronto city council unanimously approved the result of the 2021 Open Door Affordable Rental Housing call for applications. A total of 17 affordable rental housing projects, representing approximately 920 affordable rental homes, were approved. Furthermore, in July of this year, Toronto city council approved more than 24,000 new homes, including 2,060 affordable and 2,413 purpose-built rental units, and 775 rental replacement units. Once again, this bill is not needed and is absolutely not about advancing housing projects.
When I was city councillor in Beaches–East York, I spearheaded laneway suites, a game-changing planning policy that allows people to age in place and adds to the Toronto rental stock. It was an effort to address the housing crisis. I worked tirelessly with fellow councillor Ana Bailão, city staff, local architect and planning experts, community groups, facilitators and Toronto residents. Evergreen Brick Works and Lanescape were instrumental in the creation of our plan.
Our public engagement was over the top. We reached out all across the city to engage with everyone, to hear their thoughts and to learn their ideas. We hosted walks and talks, both ward-specific community consultations and city-wide events, surveys, local canvasses—you name it, we did it. The highlight of our outreach was actually hearing from people who had never participated, ever, in a democratic forum and were now chomping at the bit to have their say in this outside-of-the-box housing idea.
By and large, residents were supportive of laneway suites, especially families eager to promote intergenerational living. City staff had many concerns and questions initially, but we looked at examples from other municipalities across Canada already successfully providing laneway housing options, and we found answers and solutions to their inquiries. We came up with a solid plan and reached out to all members of city council repeatedly to ensure they were in the loop and to garner support.
Thanks to our creative and collaborative approach, the city of Toronto’s first-ever laneway housing policy passed unanimously at city council, a rare feat indeed. Laneway suites were just phase one of the plan to offer more housing options in Toronto. Now the garden suites policy has just passed through city council too.
And I did all of this without a strong-mayors bill. It can be done, it has been done, and it can continue to be done. Housing can be built with current council configuration, and housing can be expedited with existing provincial policies. We simply have to utilize them.
Sure, this bill works for our current government, but what does the government expect to happen if a NIMBY mayor were to be elected, one who isn’t interested in advancing housing projects? Where do the shovels in the ground go then, Mr. Speaker—Madam Speaker; sorry. It’s so great to see a woman in that chair.
If this bill included my proposed amendments, we would have a way to hold any and every mayor accountable for building more homes.
The public too is confused by the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act. I was in committee when the government brought many stakeholders down to Queen’s Park to discuss this bill. These stakeholders were from various building associations, municipal associations, planning associations and more. People took time out of their busy schedules to have their voices heard on a bill they thought was aimed at building homes. But why, Madam Speaker, did the government waste the time of stakeholders and government resources if housing is outside the scope of the bill?
We’re in a housing crisis in this province. There are simply not enough homes for those who need housing and want to live here, especially in the biggest and busiest cities, Toronto and Ottawa. The Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act fails to address the actual housing problem. This was made clear when my amendments were deemed out of scope and principle by the committee on heritage, infrastructure and cultural policy. They claimed housing was out of scope for this bill after using the time of stakeholder and government resources to create the illusion they want to build more homes. That is not their intention. This bill is meant for the provincial government to have a strong hold on municipal affairs, and it affects our democracy. I oppose this bill. I will be voting against it.
Madam Speaker, I urge the government to put forth a housing bill with real, tangible goals that will actually aid the housing crisis in this province and truly get shovels in the ground.
But more importantly, I was really intrigued by the laneway—her approval for laneway suites. I think that was recently, if I’m not mistaken; I’m not sure when she said it, but I know in Markham we actually approved laneway suites in 1995, and they have been going—
Laneway suites versus garden suites: I think what you mean is that garden suites were just recently passed by the city of Toronto. It was phase 2 of our plan, and my plan was laneway suites. Laneway suites happened in my time. I ran for city council on term limits, so I was only there for two terms, eight years. I knew that going in. That was my pledge to level the playing field for democracy and bring gender equity, youth and more women to Toronto city hall. I knew I only had eight years to get things done, and laneway suites happened under my time, under me, because I was there. I can’t attest to why it didn’t happen prior to that. Kudos to you for it already existing in your neighbourhood, but it happened in my second term of office, and garden suites now.
We are in a housing crisis, and people want to see housing built—all types of housing, not just single-family homes, because single-family detached homes will never solve our housing crisis; it will take all types of housing, and we need people to understand that.
People it would hurt? Well, I think it hurts democracy, because it’s not actually about building homes, which we found out at committee when my amendments were viewed as out of scope in principle. I really hope that we can build housing in our time, in the next four years here.
Madame la Présidente, les Ontariens nous ont réélus à un moment où ils étaient confrontés à des hausses historiques du coût de la vie et à une pénurie de logements sans précédent. Ils nous ont élus en tant que gouvernement majoritaire parce qu’ils savent que notre gouvernement travaille et continuera à travailler pour améliorer la situation du logement dans la province.
Nous voulons faire construire plus de logements plus rapidement, car nous savons que l’Ontario, comme plusieurs provinces au Canada, est au milieu d’une crise de logement. Les gens cherchent désespérément un logement qui répond à leurs besoins et leur budget, mais malheureusement trop de familles ne peuvent pas qualifier ni se permettre de se procurer une résidence à cause des prix exorbitants.
Les jeunes familles sont à la recherche de leur première maison, une maison où ils auront l’opportunité d’élever leur famille, tout en étant à proximité du travail, des écoles et des services essentiels.
Les personnes âgées, elles, pensent à réduire leurs effectifs et veulent des logements qui répondent à leurs besoins à mesure qu’ils vieillissent sans avoir à s’éloigner de leur famille et de leurs amis.
Tout le monde cherche quelque chose de différent pour pallier à leurs besoins, et nous savons que nous devons mettre en place une politique pour stimuler la construction de plus de logements, et ça, le plus rapidement possible.
J’ai siégé en tant que maire d’une municipalité rurale dans l’Est ontarien et, en tant que président des comtés, je peux vous assurer que je connais bien les défis de faire avancer des projets de construction en milieu rural. Nous avons une croissance incroyable dans certains de nos villages ruraux, mais les promoteurs ou les développeurs mentionnent que c’est difficile et que ça prend beaucoup de temps avant que certains projets ne se concrétisent.
En tant que maire, vous ne savez pas combien de fois j’ai reçu des appels et des courriels de promoteurs, de développeurs et de constructeurs me demandant de faire avancer les dossiers quand ça vient à des projets de construction. J’ai continuellement travaillé à essayer de faire avancer les dossiers, et j’ai été chanceux, pour ma part, d’avoir un directeur général qui faisait partie de mon administration, qui m’aidait à pousser les différents départements pour mettre de la pression pour faire avancer les dossiers.
Plusieurs députés ici ont siégé en tant que membres de conseil municipal, et certains en tant que maires. Je suis certain qu’ils ont eu leur lot de défis avec les départements d’urbanisme et de construction, et nous devons travailler à faciliter l’obtention de permis et d’autres mesures pour rendre les choses plus faciles.
Vous savez, madame la Présidente, il était un temps où les jeunes familles partaient des grosses villes et conduisaient quelques kilomètres—parfois plusieurs kilomètres—jusqu’à ce qu’ils trouvent une maison à un prix abordable. Donc, les gens sortaient de la grande ville et allaient en campagne pour essayer de trouver une maison qui pouvait être abordable pour leur famille. Ils réussissaient à trouver quelque chose d’abordable en banlieue ou parfois même à plus de 100 kilomètres des grandes villes. Malheureusement, les jeunes familles ont beau parcourir d’un coin à l’autre de la province, mais il n’y a pas beaucoup d’options quand ça vient à trouver des logements abordables.
Notre gouvernement a créé un groupe de travail pour attaquer le dossier du logement abordable avec des chefs de l’industrie et des experts pour développer des mesures supplémentaires afin de stimuler l’industrie de la construction pour faire face à la crise du logement. Comme le groupe de travail a constaté, pendant de nombreuses années la province n’a pas construit suffisamment de logements pour répondre aux besoins de notre population croissante. Nous réalisons que pas assez d’efforts ont été faits pour bâtir des logements, et c’est pour cette raison que nous sommes dans cette situation aujourd’hui, avec ce problème du manque de logement. La tendance à long terme est claire : les prix des logements augmentent beaucoup plus rapidement que les revenus, et le temps d’agir est maintenant.
Le groupe de travail a également souligné qu’après avoir rencontré divers partenaires du secteur de la construction résidentielle, ils se sont entendus sur cinq solutions :
(1) Accroître la densité dans toute la province.
(2) Mettre fin aux règles municipales d’exclusion qui bloquent ou retardent la construction de nouveaux logements.
(3) Dépolitiser le processus d’approbation des logements.
(4) Empêcher les abus du système d’appel en matière de logement.
(5) Offrir un soutien financier aux municipalités qui construisent plus de logements.
L’objectif de notre gouvernement est de faire en sorte que 1,5 million de maisons soient bâties au cours des 10 prochaines années. Je sais que c’est un objectif ambitieux, mais je crois qu’on va y arriver. Nous continuerons à explorer des moyens pour aider les municipalités à obtenir plus de logements et faire en sorte d’être capables de les construire plus vite.
Comme l’a souligné le groupe de travail, il existe plusieurs étapes longues et exigeantes avant de donner la première pelletée de terre d’un projet de construction de maison. Les approbations de développement et de zonage approprié sont souvent retardées ou obstruées en raison de l’opposition de certains membres des conseils municipaux locaux ou de l’administration. Certains projets sont parfois tout simplement abandonnés. Même si le projet obtient finalement le feu vert, beaucoup de promoteurs et de constructeurs sont découragés.
Certains indiquent que ces restrictions font augmenter les coûts de construction de nouveaux logements considérablement, sans compter les retards des projets. On constate que ces obstacles ajoutent parfois 20 % au coût moyen d’une maison à certains endroits. Il est clair que nous devons faire tout ce qui est en notre pouvoir pour garantir la construction de nouvelles maisons.
Une bonne mesure serait de s’attaquer à l’impasse politique dans l’obtention des approbations. Comme le groupe de travail l’a constaté dans ses consultations, les intervenants conviennent que mettre fin à certaines règles municipales et dépolitiser le processus d’approbation est une bonne première étape.
Le prix des logements est un enjeu principal pour les électeurs, et c’est un dossier chaud pour les candidats municipaux qui sont présentement en campagne électorale et qui cognent aux portes des voteurs. Les personnes ayant des emplois bien rémunérés sont incapables de trouver un logement dans nos centres-villes urbains et dans les communautés à travers la province en raison de la rapidité avec laquelle les coûts augmentent.
Dans notre système électoral, les résidents votent pour un maire pour les représenter au sein de leur conseil municipal, et ils s’attendent à ce que le maire s’occupe de l’ensemble des défis auxquels leur communauté est confrontée, y compris le besoin d’avoir des logements. Cependant, c’est souvent irréaliste pour les maires de répondre à ces demandes dans le cadre de notre système actuel. Comme l’a dit notre premier ministre, les maires sont responsables de tout, mais ils ont le même vote qu’un autre membre du conseil.
En Ontario, un maire dispose d’un vote à la table du conseil municipal comme tous les autres membres. Ça signifie qu’un maire qui dirige une ville de trois millions d’habitants—on en a déjà parlé—n’a pas plus de pouvoir qu’un membre du conseil qui, lui, représente 50 000 personnes dans son quartier. Et pourtant, malgré ça, les électeurs s’attendent à ce que leur maire soit responsable de tous les grands projets de la ville et des priorités. Les citoyens comptent sur leur maire pour faire avancer les choses et trouver des solutions aux problèmes qui leur tiennent à coeur, y compris le problème du manque de logement.
Aujourd’hui, les projets prioritaires prennent tout simplement trop de temps par l’intermédiaire des conseils municipaux, des comités et des membres de certains départements. Pour être vraiment efficaces pour leurs communautés, les maires doivent avoir notre soutien, le soutien du gouvernement provincial.
C’est pour cette raison que nous supportons le projet de loi 3, Loi de 2022 pour des maires forts et pour la construction de logements, proposé par notre gouvernement, soit, encore, le Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act. Les changements inclus ici donneraient aux maires de Toronto et d’Ottawa la capacité de diriger les politiques, sélectionner les chefs de service municipaux et présenter les budgets. Ils aideraient nos partenaires municipaux à livrer sur des priorités communes, telles que le logement.
Notre gouvernement veut réduire les coûts et faciliter la construction de 1,5 million de logements pour faire face à la crise de l’offre du logement. Nous savons que des maires avec les pouvoirs nécessaires peuvent mieux aider la province et les municipalités en travaillant ensemble sur le dossier du logement et d’autres initiatives essentielles à leurs communautés. C’est quelque chose que nous devons garder en tête car nous nous attendons à une croissance record dans la province dans les années à venir, dans la prochaine décennie.
La construction de logements doit aller au même rythme que la croissance de la population de la province. La réalité est que Toronto et Ottawa seront les deux villes qui compteront pour plus du tiers de la croissance de l’Ontario au cours de la prochaine décennie. Ces villes nous ont montré qu’elles sont prêtes à démarrer, à s’engager dans la croissance et s’engager à couper la bureaucratie, plus communément connu sous le nom du « red tape ». Le ministre Steve Clark, le ministre des Affaires municipales et du Logement, nous a expliqué plus précisément comment notre proposition aiderait à soutenir cette croissance à Toronto et à Ottawa.
Notre projet de loi propose des modifications à la Loi sur les municipalités, la Loi sur la cité de Toronto et autres lois. S’ils sont adoptés, ces changements fourniront aux maires de la ville de Toronto et de la ville d’Ottawa des outils de gouvernance supplémentaires et des pouvoirs accrus pour aligner la prise de décision municipale pour faire avancer les priorités.
Ces pouvoirs exécutifs accrus leur permettraient de mieux organiser la mairie. Ces maires pourraient embaucher et licencier leur directeur général, agent administratif, ainsi que d’autres chefs de départements. Ils pourraient également créer ou réorganiser des départements et ils auraient également le pouvoir de nommer des présidents ou des vice-présidents des comités et conseils locaux identifiés dans la réglementation, ainsi que d’établir d’autres comités.
Ces maires pourraient aussi avoir une voix plus forte à la table du conseil. S’ils sont adoptés, ces changements permettraient aux maires d’Ottawa et de Toronto de diriger leur conseil pour être en ligne avec les priorités de la province sous l’examen du conseil. Ça pourrait également inclure la direction du personnel pour être impliqué dans la préparation des appels d’offres et de différents contrats.
Les maires seraient également en mesure de soutenir les éléments prioritaires ainsi que leur vision pour leurs communautés. Ils pourraient aussi travailler avec l’administration à l’élaboration du budget pour ensuite le déposer à la table du conseil pour un examen, et le conseil serait en mesure de proposer des modifications au budget. Nous estimons que les changements proposés maintiendraient également un cadre décisionnel municipal solide. Le conseil aurait toujours un rôle à jouer dans la modification du budget et pourrait annuler le veto du maire avec un vote de deux tiers.
Nous proposons également des changements au règlement municipal sur les conflits d’intérêts qui obligerait un maire à déclarer tous les conflits financiers liés à l’utilisation de ces nouveaux pouvoirs. Les changements empêcheraient également un maire d’utiliser les pouvoirs où ils ont un conflit financier.
En raison de cette autorité accrue que nous proposons pour les maires, nous voulons également garantir aux électeurs qu’ils ont leur mot à dire si un maire quitte ses fonctions avant la fin de son terme. C’est pourquoi nous aurions besoin d’une élection partielle pour remplacer un maire avec ces pouvoirs accrus si leur poste devient vacant plutôt que d’avoir le choix actuel d’une élection ou d’une nomination.
Madame la Présidente, nous avons examiné d’autres villes qui offrent aux maires des pouvoirs exécutifs—on l’a mentionné à plusieurs reprises—d’autres villes comme Chicago, Londres, Los Angeles et Paris où fonctionne le système de « maire fort ». Nous avons eu des exemples. Le maire de la ville de New York peut nommer et révoquer les postes du directeur général, chefs de départements, tous les commissionnaires et tout autre dirigeant non élu, sauf disposition contraire dans la loi. Essentiellement, le maire de New York a le pouvoir de créer ou supprimer des départements ou des postes à l’hôtel de ville. En ce qui concerne les budgets, le maire de New York élabore le budget et le plan financier qui l’accompagne, et les soumet au conseil pour examen et approbation.
On peut donner d’autres exemples. Si on prend Chicago comme autre exemple, tout comme à New York, le maire est le chef exécutif de la ville et ne siège pas au conseil. Cependant, contrairement à New York, le maire de Chicago doit obtenir le consentement du conseil pour nommer et révoquer les chefs de tous les départements, les officiers de la municipalité et tous les membres des comités. Comme à New York et tel que proposé dans notre projet de loi, le maire de Chicago dirige le processus budgétaire de la ville et soumet le budget annuel de la ville au conseil municipal pour considération et approbation.
Un autre exemple, madame la Présidente: le maire de la ville de Los Angeles—on en a déjà discuté avant—est officier de la ville, et ne siège pas au conseil. Le maire de Los Angeles a le pouvoir de créer ou abolir des postes, des divisions ou des comités au sein du bureau du maire, y compris avoir le pouvoir de destitution de certains fonctionnaires de la ville.
Comme vous pouvez constater, un projet de loi semblable au nôtre existe déjà ailleurs. Les maires de ces villes ont des rôles renforcés et des pouvoirs administratifs et exécutifs supplémentaires. Ces systèmes de maire fort répondent aux besoins de ces communautés grandissantes, tout comme il peut répondre aux besoins des communautés en croissance de la ville de Toronto et de la ville d’Ottawa. Nous faisons confiance au leadership local dans ces deux villes en donnant à leurs maires plus de responsabilité d’aider à réaliser nos priorités municipales et provinciales communes.
Notre gouvernement croit qu’un système de maire fort aidera à résoudre la crise du logement. Notre gouvernement fait confiance aux Ontariens pour élire de bons dirigeants locaux pour faire en sorte qu’à mesure que la population de l’Ontario augmente, les besoins en logement suivront au même rythme. Nous recherchons des endroits prêts à démarrer, lesquels sont prêts à s’engager dans la croissance et la réduction des formalités administratives.
Cette loi nous permettra de travailler plus efficacement avec nos partenaires municipaux. Ça nous aidera à atteindre nos objectifs communs, qui sont d’aider plus de familles à atteindre leur rêve en devenant propriétaire d’une résidence familiale.
Il n’y a tout simplement pas assez de maisons accessibles à toutes les familles qui veulent s’installer en Ontario, et c’est notre devoir en tant que membres du Parlement provincial de travailler avec les municipalités pour faire en sorte que tous ces gens aient des logements à des prix abordables à travers la province.
Ce dont le membre a parlé, que c’est important d’avoir plus de logement : parfaitement d’accord, mais le projet de loi n’a rien à faire avec ça. Je lui pose la question : sur quelle page, quel paragraphe, quelle annexe est-ce qu’on parle de construction ou de logement?
Mais je dois dire que, oui, c’est quelque chose qui est difficile pour nos promoteurs. Ils sont là. Ils sont prêts à s’engager dans la construction. Ils veulent participer à faire en sorte qu’il y ait plus de logement abordable à travers la province, mais grâce à nos maires, qui peuvent mettre en place certaines—comment dirais-je—facilités pour obtenir les permis en travaillant avec leur bureau d’urbanisme et leur bureau de construction de différents départements au sein de la municipalité—je l’ai vécu moi-même. Je sais que souvent les gens essayent d’obtenir des permis et ont de la difficulté. Puis, je crois que si les maires avaient un peu plus de pouvoir, ça pourrait—
So if the member could elaborate and maybe help the opposition understand what our plan is—that it is not simply one silver bullet, as the minister said; it is a combination of a number of steps that we have taken and continue to take. If the member could elaborate on that, I’d appreciate it.
Je veux vous poser la question : écoutez, quand on regarde le projet de loi—puis j’aimerais que vous m’expliquiez pourquoi, dans le projet de loi 3, on dit « des maires forts et pour la construction de logements »? Ma collègue vous a posé la question—vous êtes un bon joueur de hockey, c’est sûr et certain, puisque vous êtes capable de patiner avec une « puck ». C’est sûr que la seule place où on voit qu’on parle de logement, c’est dans les titres.
Je comprends la question que votre collègue vous a posée, mais c’est seulement dans le titre qu’on parle de développement et c’est nulle part qu’on entend « le logement abordable ou adapté » ou même « logement ». Il me semble que si on dit que les maires forts sont pour la construction des logements, il y aurait beaucoup plus d’explications dans un projet de loi qui dit qu’on est là pour les logements. J’aimerais—
Ce que je veux dire c’est que les maires sont élus par les gens et ils sont redevables aux gens. Puis souvent, on a à répondre à des questions en tant que maire, et la raison que je dis ça, c’est parce que j’étais maire auparavant. C’est notre job en tant qu’élu de travailler à faire en sorte que les projets de construction se concrétisent. On sait qu’à travers la province, les problèmes de logement sont là, et on croit que c’est avec les municipalités qu’on viendra à bout de résoudre ces problèmes-là.
Le gouvernement donne l’exemple et encourage ces autres partenaires à faire front commun en prenant des mesures concrètes pour aider toutes les Ontariennes et tous les Ontariens à trouver un logement répondant à leurs besoins.
Je voudrais poser la question au député de la circonscription de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell : comment ce projet de loi va-t-il aider leur communauté et les personnes qui habitent à Glengarry–Prescott–Russell?
Madame la Présidente, la réponse est claire. Les maires sont bien positionnés pour travailler à faire en sorte que les départements de construction, les départements d’urbanisme livrent la marchandise dans leurs municipalités.
Je peux vous dire, moi-même, encore une fois, en tant que maire—j’étais maire à l’époque, et souvent les gens me disaient : « J’ai de la misère à décoller mon projet. J’ai de la misère à obtenir un permis de construction. » Puis aussitôt que le maire intervenait, on avait soudainement un permis de construction, on avait soudainement un projet qui allait de l’avant. Donc, pour cette raison, je sais que ce ne sont pas tous les maires qui ont l’opportunité d’avoir des directeurs généraux et des chefs de départements qui travaillent avec eux, mais je crois qu’avec ce projet de loi-là, ça donnera l’opportunité aux maires d’avoir du pouvoir et de faire concrétiser les projets et de stimuler le secteur du logement à travers la province.
Nous sommes d’accord que, vraiment, il y a une crise du logement, surtout une crise avec les sans-abri. Mais la seule chose que ce projet de loi fait c’est d’enlever les pouvoirs des conseillers et donner le pouvoir au maire. C’est vraiment seulement un projet de loi vraiment antidémocratique.
Est-ce que vous pouvez nous montrer dans ce projet de loi où sont mentionnées les maisons, sauf dans le titre?
Présentement, il y a certains projets qui existent en conjonction avec le gouvernement fédéral et le provincial pour financer des projets de logement abordable à travers la province et même à travers du pays.
Ce que les gens trouvent difficile souvent c’est quand ils arrivent à la municipalité locale pour lever le permis, pour entreprendre le projet—
I’ve got to say, it’s been interesting this afternoon listening to some of the debate in here. I really appreciated the comments from the member from Toronto Centre about their experience as a city councillor in some really difficult times, I would say, for the city of Toronto, and the reality of actually how planning changes are made, where the real issues are and of course about the need for truly affordable housing.
Madam Speaker, the last time I spoke in second reading, I covered a lot of areas and I want to go back to some of them today. I think that the overall theme of my comments last time is something I want to reiterate here today: We have a government that continues consistently to show absolute disdain for local democracy by unilaterally interfering with municipal politics, in both cases, in the middle of municipal elections with absolutely zero consultation, and this will, in fact, have the impact of disenfranchising voters.
I also want to reflect for a moment on the fact that this government said nothing about this idea, this legislation, this policy, during the last provincial election, so that all of us who were elected here would have had an opportunity, had that been in the platform to at least have the conversation with voters about whether this is something they really wanted to adopt, that they thought was necessary, but that never could happen because this government didn’t even run on it. They just secreted it away. In fact, there was nothing from this government that was spoken about during the Housing Affordability Task Force that this government actually brought about—nothing along the lines of this need or this necessity or this policy being reviewed.
I want to say that that really is extraordinary because there were some ideas that came forward that were good ideas that came out of that task force—not everything I would agree with, but there were some things there. The government had an opportunity, surely, to come out of that and put forward some real solutions that would work for Ontario in our cities, for so many people in this province, and they chose not to. Instead they chose this bill that only mentions housing once in the title. It doesn’t actually address housing at all. Once again, Ontarians are left thinking, “What is this legislation really about? Why would this government want to hand over such enormous and extraordinary powers to mayors in at least two of our largest cities and potentially more?”
Before I get into some of my comments, I want to take a moment to appeal, as some of my colleagues have done previously, to the members of this Legislature who were elected to the government side in this last election in June. Some of this will be new to you, but it ain’t new to us. I think some of you have perhaps heard already from some of your constituents with concerns about how the government lacks transparency and accountability, how they refuse to share their mandate letters again. Maybe you thought to yourself, “This wasn’t exactly what I signed up for. I would like to have to be able to respond to my constituents. I would like to be more beholden to my constituents and less beholden to a Premier who just wants to dictate the way everything has to be”—based on what I think are just generally—I’m just saying; I don’t know—maybe past personal issues with their successes as a municipal representative. I don’t know. But why are we all being weighted down with that?
I’ve got to say that when I was elected in 2018, I really thought this was an opportunity to make Ontario better, and, at the end of the day, that’s what we all want. I think we were all elected to try to make life better for people. That’s what this is about, and I really do believe that that better is possible, but we don’t get there unless we listen to each other. Majorities come and majorities go, and many would say that our political system does not actually serve the people of this province very effectively because it’s this first-past-the-post system that so many people would love to see changed; there are much more effective ways to run government and elections. But the way that it operates right now even, there still should be opportunity to try to make things better, and one of the ways we do that as legislators is to actually look carefully at legislation, listen to each other, listen to critiques of legislation, make that legislation stronger, amend that legislation—learn. That’s what we were elected to do: to pass good laws.
So I would ask again, because I know that the government put this piece of legislation through some committee hearings—very limited, unfortunately, again—and there really was no prior consultation at all. Let’s be clear. But there’s other legislation we haven’t seen any consultation around, like the budget or the very egregious Bill 7 that just passed in this House. And again, just because you may not like what you’re going to hear, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen and hear it and, hopefully, take into consideration what people, especially experts in these fields, have to say.
That’s one of the things I want to talk about today, Speaker. I want to talk a little bit about some of the comments that came up in the committee hearings. I wasn’t there, but I’ve been reading through Hansard and looking at some of the comments that came from committee from many of the experts who appeared—experts from academics to elected officials to planners. There were a lot of experts there. One thing that really struck me is a comment that a lot of the municipal associations said, which is—basically, I’ll sum up it with, “Why isn’t the government exercising powers they already have? What is this really about?”
In fact, I want to also mention that the five living past mayors of the city of Toronto—there are Tories, there are Liberals, there are New Democrats, there are independents—have all said they’re opposed to this legislation and to this idea of a strong-mayor system, and I think that should say something, because they’ve all been in these boots and they don’t think it’s a healthy approach to governing.
I wanted to go through a few of the things that other people said, because one of the comments that I thought was particularly interesting was from Mayor Sendzik of St. Catharines, who had written in some really interesting comments, especially about the official planning process. One of the things that he said is: “The idea that giving more powers to mayors will magically lead to more housing is too simplistic. If this is all it takes to address the housing crisis, why not give mayors more powers to end homelessness and tackle mental health issues and addictions? Add in more powers to end climate change and mayors will become superheroes.”
I think he said that sarcastically.
“But that is what Ontario Premier Doug Ford is attempting to do as a means to solve the housing crisis through his government’s new sweeping legislation.... In essence it follows this line of thinking: We have a housing crisis, therefore if mayors had more powers, the housing crisis would be solved. The press release announcing the legislation even proclaimed it as ‘empowering mayors to build housing faster.’”
Then he goes on to say, “The sweeping set of new powers for mayors includes the abilities to hire ... chief administrative officers and senior staff positions.” It goes on to say that the point here is, there would be the ability, then, as well—let’s just consider it—if a very NIMBY mayor was elected, they could hire people to support that position.
He said, “After eight years as mayor of St. Catharines, I can confidently state I didn’t need special powers to build more housing. In St. Catharines we have approved more housing developments, of all types, over the last eight years than any time in the last 30 years. We achieved this because of a progressive city official plan, approved in 2012.”
Now, Speaker, I want to point out that, as my colleague from Toronto Centre mentioned, this government’s approach to official plans—official plans which are developed after a great deal of consideration and consultation, with experts and planning coming to the table, much discussion and debate. Cities end up with these plans. This government came in in 2018 and immediately tore up one of the official plans of the city of Toronto, and the city of Ottawa has yet to receive, as I understand it, approval for their official plan. So who’s holding up the processes? It’s this government. It’s this government that sets us back every single time. So it’s not about improving the efficiency of the process or moving forward to build more affordable housing quicker. It’s just simply not about that; it can’t be, because if that was the case, this would not be the route you would take.
I want to also mention—just because I’m going to run out of time mentioning everybody who did provide written comments on this—the Association of Municipalities of Ontario was not consulted at all on this legislation. It’s unbelievable. And when they appeared before the committee, they were pretty careful—not everybody is opposed or in favour. There’s a variety of opinions there. But they did ask the government to please engage in a broad consultation with the public and with the professional and political municipal associations. They were obviously very, very frustrated by this decision because they’ve put a lot of time and work into engaging with us as elected representatives, into engaging with this government over really important issues. And to have this kind of thing, then, just come in, have this government just roll right over everything they consider to be a priority has got to be pretty frustrating. I would ask the government to consider, certainly, the concerns that have been raised and what a difference it would have made if they had consulted properly.
I want to talk a little bit about housing and what would fix our housing crisis. Speaker, it’s true that there will be bad mayors. We’ve seen a few. There will be bad mayors. There will be inept mayors. There will be corrupt mayors. There will be mayors who just want to give a green light to their favourite developers.
We do need to fix things. We need to fix democracy, but that’s a whole other conversation. I’d love to get into it. But here are some things that I think this government, if they were interested in really building more homes and tackling the affordable housing crisis, would do. First, move forward to end exclusionary zoning. This, I have to tell you, is an issue that aligns just about everyone: right, left, centre, academics, politicians, planners. To build more affordable housing, we could be building more affordable townhouses, more duplexes, more triplexes in existing neighbourhoods in order to meet the existing housing demand. It’s a win-win. The government’s own Housing Affordability Task Force recommended this. End exclusionary zoning. This is something we could work across party lines to get done. Let’s do it.
We could also—we could and we should—move forward on addressing the issue of what kind of homes we are building, because right now, what we’re seeing are mostly condos, purpose-built rentals and multi-million-dollar single-family homes. The average condo being built today is 600 square feet. We need 1,400- to 2,000-square-foot townhomes and condos, purpose-built rentals at the three-bedroom, four-bedroom range. You heard the member from Toronto Centre already say that. We need truly affordable housing with space for families. If you go into these apartment buildings in my riding, these condo towers that are mostly rental now, they are young families. They’re living there and they want to raise their families there. I’ve had people who don’t live around here say to me, “Well, you know what? When they have families, they’re going to try to find a house to buy somewhere else.” Really? Where?
Also, is that what we really need? Is that what we want our cities to become, just places where people live up to a certain point and then they leave? No. We want people to raise their families there. But to do that, we have to make sure we’re also investing in the things that will make their quality of life good. That means that in a family of four, maybe those kids share a bedroom. I shared a bedroom most of my life, of course. My family just had one bathroom. We survived. But we’re talking about 600 square feet. We’re talking about families crammed into a one-bedroom—many, many, many families. We can do better than that. We can do better for those children. We can do better for families that can’t afford to buy a $1.5-million home right now.
What about the young people? I was just talking to some folks in my community today who work in affordable housing, particularly in supportive housing, and one of the things they were really highlighting for me was the need for more supports for youth, but also for young people. So when you’re talking about whether you’re a student or young person just starting out, you cannot see anything beyond living in a 500-square-foot unit at $2,500 rent. It’s outrageous. How can you afford to do that?
People in our communities are saying very clearly—folks who do own their own homes are saying, “My gosh, I never imagined a world in this province, in this wealthy place, this province of Ontario that I came to because it was a land of plenty—I can’t imagine that now my grandchildren will never be able to have the kind of status of living that I have, the quality of living that I have.” That’s so tragic to me. That’s a real shift. That’s the first generation in many, many, many generations that are feeling that way. It’s not a good sign.
We could—and this is the third thing I want to mention—introduce legislation that focuses on inclusionary zoning so that when there is a new development built, there are community benefits. That’s parks. What is a community benefit? Parks, daycares, as well as supportive and truly affordable housing incorporated into developments. We have seen some of these things emerge, but they only come about when developers are pushed to include them, because they won’t unless they’re pushed. We’ve seen it over and over and over again; communities have very little power.
We saw what the government did to the OMB and, I would say, the very late-in-the-day attempts by the previous government to make some changes to that. This government scrapped it and made it even worse, and now we as community-members have very little say in anything.
People in my community—I want you to know—they’re not NIMBY at all. They’re not saying, “We don’t want towers.” They’re saying, “More towers, and also more of that kind of mid-level rise—and we’d like to see, by the way, that our already crowded park that we have to all cram into doesn’t get more and more crowded. And if it’s going to, build us a new community centre. Build us some child care so kids don’t have to go somewhere else.” These are things that are community benefits.
Make sure there’s some truly affordable units in there. Move to properly invest in community and supportive housing. I cannot stress that enough. In Ontario’s worst homelessness crisis in decades, right now, people are still sleeping in parks and they’re still unable to find supportive housing that they desperately need. Hotels are being contracted long-term. Those contracts are running out. Where are those people going to go? And this government chose instead to cut $246 million from municipal affairs and housing, at this time.
Finally, I would wrap up and say, Speaker, the other thing this government could do is to actually put in place a plan to build affordable and non-market housing on public land, on land that the public already owns, instead of always selling it off to the highest bidder. Properly fund school boards so school boards—instead of having to tear them down like they had to do in my community and sell them off to condo developers, at a massive loss in the end, give them the okay to lease out that land. Build affordable housing in those properties. Build the things that our communities need, that people really need and that are really going to solve the homelessness crisis, and stop playing games with the people of this province.
What this legislation is really about is taking away power from Ontarians. It’s shameful, and this government can be assured I will not be supporting this legislation. I hope that they make a decision to repeal it before it’s too late.
And so, given your concerns about that development and the potential abuse of that power, I’m wondering why New Democrats are supporting a NIMBY city councillor who’s anti-growth and anti-development in the mayor’s race in the city of Ottawa.
You know what? We in our communities are looking for a different kind of development, right? Development that is dense—we know that density has to be built. I haven’t met one person who I’ve spoken to—who I’m supporting, certainly, in this election—who doesn’t support greater density. But we need, as I said very clearly, to make sure that that density includes affordable housing, truly affordable housing, community benefits. That is not NIMBYism. That’s not NIMBYism. That’s the bare minimum that we should be expecting in every development that takes place in every part of our province.
On this side of the House, we’re saying that this is an attack on our democracy, because in the city of Toronto, for example, where this is going to take effect, we only have one city councillor for 130,000 representatives, and now, this bill is going to strip that councillor of almost all of their power. So we will not have any representation. But in the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark—I’ll withdraw the name. In his riding, there are 10 municipalities, 10 mayors and 59 municipally elected representatives in each riding. We have one for 130,000—in the minister’s riding, there are 59 municipal representatives—and our city councillors are being stripped of their power. Do you think that this bill is an attack on our local democracy?
I will add, Speaker, our mayor actually goes along with a lot of what they say, so maybe not the best example. But what does it take? What’s coming next? Are they going to be attacking the people of Newmarket–Aurora? Are they going to be attacking the people of Brampton, who are now represented by a Conservative, because they suddenly don’t like what their mayor is saying? What’s next?
The opposition and the member from Davenport want to talk about building more homes, and that’s fine. But they have consistently voted against the measures that our government has introduced to do that.
So colleagues, let’s go back. The More Homes, More Choice Act: How did they vote? No. The More Homes for Everyone Act: How did they vote? No. And then now they’re saying, with the strong-mayors bill that we have before us, that they’re going to vote no again.
I would like to know from the member opposite why they consistently vote against bills that have actually been proven and shown to build more homes. We’ve had more purpose-built rental housing starts, we’ve had more housing starts, period, in 30 years. Why do the opposition and that member consistently vote no against—
I didn’t even get a chance to talk about it: This government has done nothing to support all of those families across this province that rely on renting. We have rental rates going through the roof, along with inflation, and this government has done absolutely nothing to support tenants. You want to talk to me about supporting legislation? Come talk to us. Come talk to us about bringing in inclusionary zoning or ending exclusionary zoning or building more affordable units. Come talk to us then, and we’ll support you.
Who is harmed when we’re not actually working together? We’re all harmed. We need to work together. But at the same time, communities themselves have priorities. They have things that they know about their own communities and cities and stuff, and that’s why it’s really disturbing when you hear that the government is holding up or tearing up official plans, because that kind of work takes years.
I would say that one of the things that’s most concerning about this legislation is that the government is going to allow a mayor to unilaterally hire—
We all know that Ontario is in a housing crisis. We all acknowledge that, but I don’t know why we do not have that urgency to make sure that this is resolved. Even the members opposite acknowledge that there is a need, but let’s face it, this is not only a need, it is a crisis, yet we are not doing it urgently enough.
Just now, I heard the member mentioning that we can have not only just the mayor, we can have the councillors involved. That is what we have been doing for years. If we just maintain the status quo, it will not achieve what we need. I will share with you a little bit more how these created a lot of delays. Not only does it make us having this crisis even worse, it also increased the price of housing.
I really feel for the next generation as they struggle to own their first home. It is difficult to get the house they need within the budget they have. They’re basically locked out of this market, and the prices keep rising and rising every year to the point that they cannot afford it.
I have four children, and I’m happy that they all do their best, save their money and get their house. My eldest one also got a house, but then after she got their second child, she was thinking of moving from the condo to find a bigger house so that she can accommodate the growing family. But the market kept on rising. Now she has lost the chance with the money that she got from the condo to even buy a home. She is the only one without a home to call herself having a home. So there is a lot of crisis.
The price of housing is partially because of the delays that we created in getting the houses built. More importantly, a number of immigrants came to Ontario over the past 10 years or even more. There is a need for housing to meet their needs, but more importantly, as I say, we need affordable, co-op housing for low-income families. The members opposite have already mentioned the need many times, and we agree. That’s why we want to use this special, innovative way in order to pass and make sure things go faster.
One of our commitments in our election campaign was to build more affordable housing. In fact, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has committed to building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. Well, it is our government that has traditionally been doing promises made, promises kept. That is why our minister wasted no time in making way to ensure that we get all the things done. That is why our minister, even before this term, had already passed the housing supply action plan to prepare for this new bill that we’re presenting in order to be very innovative to deal with this housing crisis that we’re facing.
To achieve our goal of 1.5 million houses in 10 years, we have to ensure that the construction of new houses can be done effectively, especially reducing the red tape from the municipal governments that has held up the progress, and that’s where the problem is. We have a group of municipal governments, each one having their own way, and they have been stalling everything for years. Every red tape that we have to face caused that housing crisis.
To remove these roadblocks, our minister had met with mayors and various municipal governments to find ways to accomplish our goals. It does not just come out of the air that we want to do this. This has been in the making for a while, discussing with different mayors, discussing with different municipalities.
We need to empower mayors so that they can and will have the power to move things along faster, making decisions for executions instead of being delayed by many internal meetings and analyses. The crisis we are facing just cannot wait. We’re always looking at different ways we can to ensure mayors have the tools they need to support Ontarians. We need to deliver the results. We know that urgent action is needed to address the Ontario housing crisis, as too many families are already struggling with housing and rising costs of daily living. This timely legislation would also allow regulations to be made and the proposed changes to be in place at the beginning of the next council term. It would help to ensure that these mayors are able to drive priorities. They can go through and have these projects go ahead. Not only that: The people who are voting in the mayors will know who is the mayor that can deliver for them and resolve this housing crisis.
These changes, if passed, would help empower mayors to bring forward budgets that could reallocate funding to priority items in Toronto and Ottawa and add to our government’s track record of support for and co-operation with municipalities. We have done wide consultations and evaluations confirming that cutting red tape will speed up the local planning process by giving municipal leaders new tools and powers to help reduce timelines for development, standardize processes and address local barriers, and will directly lead to increasing housing supply. This is the most practical way that we need.
At present, there is very glaring evidence that municipal planning approvals, including approval of zoning and a lot of other things that they have been arguing about, can delay and hinder the building of the plan that is presented to them. The delays, as I mentioned before, not only affect the housing supply, but they also get housing prices higher and higher. It is making it so unaffordable for the next generation. Analysis shows that these barriers add approximately $168,000—or 22%—to the average cost of a single detached home in Toronto. This is not fair. Our younger generation has to bear this cost because of the delay. While taking a 100-unit condominium building in Toronto as an example, the association concluded that the delay in approvals cost home builders almost $2,000 per unit per month. The delay is really costing us a lot.
We have selected Toronto and Ottawa to start this program because forecasts show that more than one third of Ontario’s growth over the next decade will occur in Toronto and Ottawa. More importantly, these cities have shown us that they have shovels all ready. We are going to work hand in hand with our municipal partners and ensure that things get done. We are using practical ways to make sure things get done. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the success in development and gradually apply it to other cities across the province.
While we are empowering the mayors, we are also careful that we have all the checks and balances in place. Mayors, like all members of council, are subject to local codes of conduct, rules and regulations. All municipalities are required to provide access to integrity commissioners. We are doing this in a very careful way.
I’m sure my colleague will have a lot more to add to what I’ve just said, and I hope by now you are convinced that we need to move on this very quickly.
It’s really great to be able to be back. I think I’ve spoken to every bill that’s come through the House so far in our first session through the Legislature this summer, which is great to be able to do.
As we get started, Madam Speaker, I think there’s one thing that I want to do, and that’s thank our Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I want to, of course, congratulate him on his re-election and his reappointment to a very important role here in the province of Ontario. Quite honestly, I’m glad that he’s back in the driver’s seat with the ministry and bringing positive change that will impact millions of people right out of the gate. And while I’m up here, I want to, of course, express my gratitude to the minister and his staff for their excellent work and diligence on delivering certain projects in my neck of the woods. I want to take a moment just to highlight a couple of those, if you will indulge me.
Back in January, I was extremely pleased to announce that the government of Ontario was providing House of Friendship with $8.5 million in capital funding—a big shout-out to the member from Brampton North, who played an important role in making sure that we were able to deliver that for Waterloo region. House of Friendship, for those who don’t know, has been a Waterloo region institution since 1939. It started as a storefront mission to feed the hungry on King Street downtown and has grown to provide support to thousands of vulnerable residents across our communities in Waterloo region. House of Friendship is a charitable social service agency that delivers addiction treatment, food, housing and community resources throughout Waterloo region. Through the Social Services Relief Fund, House of Friendship was able to purchase and convert a former hotel into a 100-bed emergency housing centre. Their ShelterCare program offers overnight, wrap-around care and accommodations for individuals struggling with homelessness and has a proven track record of getting people assistance when they need it the most.
Madam Speaker, also this year through the social services relief fund, again delivered through the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, our government granted an additional $3.5 million in funding for a total of almost $7 million to help build a 44-unit modular supportive housing complex operated by oneROOF Youth Services for youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Kitchener. Residents of this complex will have access to counselling, employment services, educational opportunities and life-training skills. The minister said, “We are supporting local innovative housing solutions to keep vulnerable youth in our communities safe and housed, which is critical as Ontario enters a period of economic recovery.”
Madam Speaker, I highlight these projects to underscore that the minister responsible for Bill 3, which we’re here talking about today, has always been a steadfast advocate for our growing communities and has never hesitated to prioritize areas of concern like those that I’ve outlined here today. And the minister is not hesitating with Bill 3 either. It is no secret that our major cities are growing all across the province. I’m confident we have all heard that Ontario has been facing a housing crisis for quite some time. So I’m glad to be here today to speak in support of Bill 3, which addresses this central area of concern.
Bill 3 is one such piece of legislation that speaks to significantly and positively impacting millions of people and families all across Ontario. Earlier this summer, our government introduced legislation that would give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa more responsibility to deliver on shared provincial-municipal priorities, including building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years here in the province of Ontario; 1.5 million homes is ambitious, but extremely necessary, given the kind of growth we have seen in the province over the last few years. If passed, the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act intends to give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa the ability to get shovels in the ground on housing projects that otherwise are taking too long—too long, Madam Speaker—to keep up with demand.
Some of those proposed changes, of course, we’ve heard about include the hiring of a chief administrative officer and municipal department heads, and to create and reorganize departments that will streamline these activities and cut red tape; the ability to appoint chairs and vice-chairs for identified committees and local boards and establish newly identified committees that are tasked with bringing matters for council consideration related to provincial priorities. They will be able to veto bylaws approved by the council if they so choose, and I think that’s an important part. This is one tool out of many tools in the toolbox that this government has introduced that relate to matters of provincial priority and proposing pieces of their municipal budgets.
So, to clarify, Madam Speaker, these proposed measures would still permit city council to propose amendments to the municipal budgets, or, should they feel the need, be able to override a mayor’s veto with a two-thirds majority vote. So there will be checks and balances in place—I think this is very important to understand—which I believe are reasonable and fair and require consensus and co-operation, which is something we should all strive for. I know that’s come up quite a bit over the last few weeks here in the Legislature. I think it’s important we all work together. If passed, these proposed changes in Bill 3 are intended to take effect on November 15, 2022, which would coincide with the start of the new municipal council term.
Bill 3 is a critical tool to get more homes built faster and is one of several initiatives being taken by our government to address the housing shortages in Ontario’s major cities like Toronto and Ottawa. For those wondering what that has to do with me, a member from Waterloo region, this legislation also intends to help communities across Ontario build more attainable homes.
We all know that we need to get more homes built across the province. Ontario is launching a Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team to get that done. This team will advise on market housing initiatives, including building on the vision from the Housing Affordability Task Force, the More Homes for Everyone Act and other consultations our government undertook over the last term. We are building on what we have accomplished so far.
I’m very pleased to learn that the government intends to appoint Drew Dilkens, the mayor of Windsor, as chair and Cheryl Fort, the mayor of the township of Hornepayne, in northern Ontario—which I think is also very important, especially for the member from Sault Ste. Marie, who has probably worked very closely with her over the years—as vice-chair of the Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team, with more qualified candidates being added to the team prior to their first meeting scheduled for early this fall.
Bill 3 clearly outlines how much Ontario is committed to supporting municipalities and focuses on improving planning policies and cutting red tape to build homes faster. The government is leading by example and encourages other government partners to join us by taking concrete steps to help all Ontarians find a home that meets their needs.
I think that’s really important. We’ve heard a lot about affordable housing here today. Of course, we want to see more affordable housing built here in the province, more attainable homes, more of that missing middle, but it’s also about choice. Madam Speaker, and I can tell you, my team and I knocked on over 25,000 doors during the election, and housing affordability was a major piece that came up, but people wanted to be able to have an option. It wasn’t just about being stuck in a condo or apartment in the city; it was also about building townhomes or building single-family homes, which is very important. There are a lot of young families that want to be able to live in a single-family home, especially in our townships, and pursue that “Canadian dream.”
I’m looking forward to, hopefully, seeing this bill pass third reading very shortly. With that, I move that the question now be put.
All those in favour of the motion that the question now be put, say “aye.”
All those opposed to the motion that the question now be put, say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
A recorded vote being required, it will be deferred to the next instance of deferred votes.
CONSIDERATION OF BILL PR2
Orders of the day?
The House recessed from 1729 to 1800.
Report continues in volume B.
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