LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO Monday 7 March 2016 Lundi 7 mars 2016 Introduction of Visitors Oral Questions Mental health services Climate change Ontario Drug Benefit Program Ontario Drug Benefit Program Privatization of public assets Special-needs students Ontario budget Mental health services Mental health services Child and youth services Ring of Fire Domestic violence Ontario budget Public transit Food safety Decorum in chamber Introduction of Visitors Members’ Statements Pharmacists Animal protection Member’s newsletter James Gillies Camp Eagle Nest Western Mississauga Maple syrup Royal Ottawa Inspiration Awards GO Transit Petitions Family Responsibility Office Leamington ketchup Lung health Hospital funding Ontario Northland Transportation Commission Water fluoridation Long-term care Health care funding Caregivers Special-needs students Privatization of public assets Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Health care funding Orders of the Day Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur le Plan d’action contre la violence et le harcèlement sexuels (en soutien aux survivants et en opposition à la violence et au harcèlement sexuels) Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur l’atténuation du changement climatique et une économie sobre en carbone The House met at 1030. The new NDP is just stuck on one issue that we’ve already said we will review. Section 3.2.1 states, “The LCBO’s main intention is to sell properties,” and 3.2.3 says the LCBO will consider leasing out properties that are deemed unsaleable or if they can generate high revenue from a tenant. Among them was continued support for your Ministry of Natural Resources. The NDP is saying they’re voting against free tuition for the kids in the lowest income—actually, income up to ,000 a year. The old NDP would have been standing up and cheering this news. It states that the LCBO is seeking a real estate vendor to sell 250 LCBO store locations right across the province. Minister, the 2016-17 budget contained many positive measures to grow our economy for Ontarians.We’re doing our best to represent the Ontario industry in that regard.We still have a very significant roads funding program in place to support the industry. John Fraser: I’d like to thank the minister for his response.Currently, we’re working very hard representing the interests of our industry on the international stage.As many will know, the softwood lumber agreement is currently being renegotiated.
They’re moving with us, in terms of reform to funding models, focusing more on outcomes and what truly benefits patients. We know that 70% of mental health issues emerging are in the teen years. They’re voting against 0 million to help people reduce their home energy bills. Speaker, I wonder: Is this more Liberal furniture-burning to heat the home? Speaker, will the minister guarantee today that neither Amethyst nor Robarts will be closed because of consultations—yes or no? Liz Sandals: If I could just talk a little bit about the Amethyst school, which, just to clarify, is for children with severe learning disabilities, many of the children who are at Amethyst are six or even eight grade levels behind, in terms of their reading skills.
Also here are her aunt Joyce Gutierrez and cousin Ava Aquino. At the same time, I’ve got to tell you that the full class from St. Lorne Given, a long-time friend and a member of my executive, and also a nephew of one of our long-time Conservative members here, Lorne Henderson. Peggy Sattler: I would like to welcome once again Cheryl Davies and Borden Craddock, who are the mother and grandmother of page Owen Davies from my riding of London West, and who have joined us today in the public gallery. Drug addiction services have an even longer waiting list. The outcome and the reality is the government’s not doing enough. Patrick Brown: The reality is, when you actually go and visit these centres—when I visited Ontario Shores, they said the cuts were too much. At the Royal last year, they had to cut 18 staff members who are needed on the front lines dealing with mental health in Ontario; 18 people were cut. They’re voting against lowering hospital parking fees. They’re voting against 170,000 more Ontario seniors getting zero deductible— The Speaker (Hon. And on top of making seniors pay more, the Liberals are planning to cut 0 million from the seniors’ drug benefit. Speaker, why is the minister trying to balance the budget on the backs of some of our most vulnerable students? Liz Sandals: I want to start out by assuring everyone that at the moment we are consulting on the future of the programs to make sure that we serve deaf children in Ontario and children with very severe learning needs in the best way possible. I’ve been visiting the demonstration schools, which deal with children with very severe learning disabilities. These are some of the most vulnerable kids in our province. This weekend we heard from Becca Haggit, a student who attends Amethyst and has benefited deeply from it.
I’d like to welcome to the members’ west galley Mr. She’s not quite in, but that was the end of introductions. Jeff is an activist around community energy solutions and community conservation, and a great citizen of Ontario. Patrick Brown: My question is for the Acting Premier. I would like to be able to provide all questioners and those giving answers with the appropriate attention that they deserve. The geriatric hospital wing at the Royal has a three-month waiting list. While I’m trying to speak and I’m standing, giving people instructions, the minute I sit down, I hear heckling. Number two, would the member please address the Chair. They’re voting against 8 million for affordable housing and homelessness initiatives. The Premier has given herself more than three weeks to figure out what everyone in Ontario already knows: that struggling seniors cannot afford to pay more for their medication. The closure of both schools leaves students in southwestern Ontario with nowhere else to turn. While we’re doing the consultation, we have put a pause on accepting enrolments because we need to figure out the best way to deliver the programs going forward. Speaker, back to the minister: Students who want to attend specialized schools like Robarts or Amethyst should have the right to do so. Thousands of parents have signed petitions online begging the minister and her government to keep these important schools open.
Patrick Brown: My question was on revenue neutrality. It can’t be like the business grant program that the Auditor General says was completely abused and not transparent. A revenue-neutral plan must be subject to independent oversight. I would hope that that’s something that the third party would appreciate. It’s true that the out-of-pocket expenses, on average, for a senior are approximately 7 in Ontario. That includes provinces like Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec, which are more than double the out-of-pocket expenses for seniors. We need to make some changes in order to ensure the sustainability of the program. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, not only are the Liberals planning to make seniors pay more for medication; their plan is to cut 0 million from the Ontario drug benefit. Why are the Liberals cutting 0 million and forcing seniors to pay more for their prescriptions instead of investing in expanding coverage so that more seniors have access to affordable medications? Eric Hoskins: While we are continuing to increase our funding for drug programs, including for our seniors, what we’re doing is we’re shifting somewhat the responsibility for those seniors who can most afford it to help 170,000 more seniors pay no annual deductible. We’re also increasing our funding by million for hospices and palliative and end-of-life care. Charles Sousa: There’s no secret that this side of the House supports the LCBO, supports the work that they’re doing.
The reality is this government’s proposal will cause the average family in Ontario to pay 7 more. This plan must include corresponding tax relief for individuals and businesses if you want to have the public’s buy-in. Speaker, the Liberals have to stop making life more expensive for everyone in Ontario. Will you commit that this will not be a Liberal slush fund and that you will give it back to the people of Ontario? Deborah Matthews: So, Speaker, on Saturday we— Interjections. Dave Levac): When I get the attention, it’s not the moment for you to then start interjecting. ” So, Speaker, it’s pretty hard to tell the flips from the flops, but we’re glad that you decided— Interjections. So let me say this very clearly: This plan can’t be another Collegate; it can’t be another Metrolinx slush fund. It will bring to that category almost 500,000 seniors who will not pay any annual deductible at all. Why doesn’t this government focus on expanding prescription drug coverage and protecting universal access to health care instead of cutting supports for seniors? Eric Hoskins: We continue to increase our drug program, including for seniors, year after year after year, and I think it’s important that Ontarians understand that we have the most generous drug program for seniors in the entire country.
A recent Forum poll had some interesting information. Speaker, if the government wants to get public buy-in for their environmental policies, it can’t simply be a cash grab. Will the government commit to making their cap-and-trade policy revenue-neutral? Deborah Matthews: I do want to start by sincerely congratulating the Leader of the Opposition for his change of heart on the environment. If it doesn’t lead to that—talk about government policy, please. Deborah Matthews: This is about policy, because Canada’s reputation was harmed— The Speaker (Hon. I’m not going to debate this: provincial government policy. That’s going to save an enormous amount of money in the reduced co-payment costs for our seniors— The Speaker (Hon. Now she’s giving herself until the end of March, Speaker, to figure out whether a senior making ,500 a year is affluent. What may occur in respect to a leased premise or an owned premise will be up to the LCBO to determine the best value for taxpayer money and the best value for our returns. Armstrong: My question is to the Minister of Education.