Queen’s Park Notes for the week of October 19-23, 2020

From the Provincial Office of OSSTF


PC MPP Daryl Kramp’s (Hastings—Lennox and Addington) private member’s bill would require that the Education Act be amended to provide that curriculum guidelines shall require that courses of study be developed in experiential food literacy education and healthy eating for every grade from grade 1 through grade 12. The courses of study must ensure that students are given opportunities to grow food, prepare food and learn about local foods. As well, Kramp’s bill would make every school board provide instruction in the courses of study and to provide training and support for teachers and other staff of the board. Finally, completion of the courses of study are a requirement for obtaining the Ontario secondary school diploma, the secondary school graduation diploma and the secondary school honour graduation diploma.

In advocating for his bill, Kramp said, “The reality is, we are alive and we thrive because of food, but the wrong choices can lead to pain-filled and shortened lives. That’s why doctors, dentists and nurses are strong, strong proponents of food literacy: They know only too well about diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dental disease, osteoporosis and obesity, and the lives affected. Indeed, studies have shown that a full third of cancer-related deaths—a full third—can be linked to diet.”

Kramp added, “Admittedly, curriculum development will take some time and not be as easy as just passing this bill, but the end result will be Ontario students province-wide who graduate with knowledge about food that will serve them well for their entire lives. They will learn one of life’s greatest lessons, and that is, health is wealth.”

With opposition MPPs supporting Kramp’s bill, it received quick 1st and 2nd Reading approval and was referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly.

NDP MPP Doly Begum (Scarborough Southwest) introduced her private member’s bill that would proclaim the month of June in each year as Filipino Heritage Month.

Attorney-General Doug Downey (Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte) introduced his government bill that would protect certain organizations from getting sued for spreading COVID-19 if they had acted in good faith. Downey’s bill would give liability protection to certain health-care workers and institutions; long-term care homes; businesses; non-profits; and front-line workers including grocery store clerks and restaurant servers. The bill came under immediate attack particularly for the protection to long-term homes. In Question Period, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath (Hamilton Centre) said, “Now we can see that these are the folks that the Premier is getting prepared to protect, to defend. Why is he rewriting the law to protect himself and the for-profit chains that are making millions in profit and not ensuring justice for families? Why?”

Downey replied, “What we are doing is making space in the system so those bad actors can be held to account. We do not want people who are doing their honest best in good faith to be put in harm’s way when they’re, every day, going into those facilities as PSWs; they’re going into their communities to do the work at food banks, through charities, through non-profits.”

Downey’s bill also includes a provision to eliminate ranked-ballots for municipal elections even though some municipalities had already begun moving towards this system of voting. In Question Period, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner (Guelph) condemned the change by saying, “Speaker, I find the parliamentary assistant’s answer shocking. That the government actually thinks that they’re going to impose on municipalities and take away their democratic right to determine how they’re going to elect their local councils is just wrong. I’m also quite offended, Speaker, that the government keeps putting a price tag on democracy. It cheapens democracy to do that.

The fixed cost for the ranked-ballot elections in London was 10 cents an elector. Through you, Speaker, can the parliamentary assistant explain to the people of Ontario how 10 cents is too much to spend on improving democracy?”

In response, the Parliamentary-Secretary to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Parm Gill (Milton), replied, “For the member’s benefit, let me translate what 10 cents per elector looks like in real dollars. That works out to $515,000 in additional costs. That is 40 per cent higher, literally to receive the exact same results that they would have received under the previous process.

What we’re trying to do on this side of the House is make the process consistent. This is exactly how we vote in our federal elections. This is the same way we vote in our provincial elections. And it will be the same way that voters in Ontario can vote in a municipal election, while respecting the taxpayers’ dollars.”

In response to a reporter’s question on the elimination of ranked-ballots, Premier Doug Ford (Etobicoke North) added,“Well first of all, we’ve been voting this way since 1867. We don’t need any more complications on ranked ballots and we’re just gonna do the same way as we’ve been doing since 1867, first past the post.”

PC MPP Rudy Cuzzetto’s (Mississauga—Lakeshore) private member’ bill seeks to make changes in the current provision in section 115 of the Insurance Act that prohibits any person, other than an insurer or its duly authorized agent, from trafficking or trading in life insurance policies. The bill amends the prohibition so that it does not apply if the life insurance policy is sold or assigned by the original policyholder or a transferee, used as collateral security or donated to a charity.

The bill provides for a 10-day cooling-off period, during which time an agreement to sell, assign, use as collateral security or donate a life insurance policy may be cancelled. The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario is required to provide oversight in respect of the transactions.

PC MPP Dave Smith (Peterborough—Kawartha) introduced his private member’s bill that would direct the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries to provide for an award to be given each year to a cadet in each local Royal Canadian Air Cadet corps, Royal Canadian Army Cadet corps and Royal Canadian Sea Cadet corps who is selected by their corps for demonstrating exceptional citizenship and volunteerism within their community and their corps.

PC MPP Donna Skelly’s (Flamborough—Glanbrook) private member’s bill would provide that an individual may request to be identified as a veteran on his or her driver’s licence or photo card.

The Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney (York—Simcoe), introduced this government bill that would expand earlier measures to speed up the government’s transit projects and spur highway and infrastructure construction.


NDP MPP Laura Mae Lindo’s (Kitchener Centre) private member’s bill passed 2nd Reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly. Lindo’s bill would establish an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly to oversee seniors’ care.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner’s (Guelph) private member’s bill would eliminate the need for a doctor’s note for employees who call in sick to their employer. The bill passed 2nd Reading and was referred to Standing Committee on General Government.

Please see above in “New Bills Introduced.”

No bills passed this week.


As 2nd Reading debate began on Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Prabmeet Sarkaria’s (Brampton South) bill that promises to slash red tape for businesses, the Progressive Conservative government found itself on the defensive over a little noticed inclusion in the bill that read, “The Schedule amends the Canada Christian College and School of Graduate Theological Studies Act, 1999 to continue Canada Christian College and School of Graduate Theological Studies as a corporation without share capital under the name Canada University and School of Graduate Theological Studies and makes other related amendments.

Section 6 of the Act is amended to include Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science as additional degrees the board may grant.”

The ability of the Canada Christian College to now be able to grant university-level degrees created a firestorm with opposition parties. In Question Period, former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne (Don Valley North) said, “But now, I ask that the minister explain to the Legislature and to the people of Ontario, particularly to people in the LGBTQ+ community, young people who are questioning their sexuality, children who are raised in loving gay and lesbian families, why this government would extend the mandate of the most publicly and vocally homophobic man in Ontario. Why, in the name of all that is decent, would this minister validate the hateful, vicious, racist and homophobic rhetoric of Charles McVety by extending the reach of his Canada Christian College?

As Reverend Michael Coren wrote yesterday in iPolitics, ‘For many people, Charles McVety is Canada Christian College.’ Why, then, would this government grant that such an organization, run by a man who rejects science and evidence and is on the record espousing hate, grant university degrees in science and in arts?

Is this actually happening because of McVety’s support during the 2018 election campaign? If so, how will the Conservative members explain their actions to the young people living in fear of homophobia in their constituencies?”

NDP MPP Catherine Fife (Waterloo) added, “McVety has a well-documented record of crossing the line into hate speech. In 2006, he was kicked off of a Christian broadcast channel for suggesting that LGBTQ people prey on children and that Haitians practise Satanism. On Twitter, McVety has called the Islamic faith “a war machine,” and even invited Geert Wilders, a notorious anti-Islamic political leader to speak at Canada Christian College, saying that Canadians should come to the campus to learn about “the threat of demographic jihad.” This is the school that the Ford government wants to make into a university.

Will the Premier admit today, will anybody on that side of this House admit today that this was not the result of an independent process, but an attempt to do a favour for a political ally? Will you stop this reckless plan today?”

Fife also challenged Premier Ford’s assertion that the school had completed the review process. She said,“My question is to the Premier. A growing chorus of anti-hate experts and concerned citizens are raising serious concerns about the Premier’s decision to quietly sneak provisions giving Ford ally Charles McVety the power to grant university degrees at Canada Christian College.

Yesterday, the Premier said, ‘He went through the process like every other college, and the process is independent.’ However, CBC News today reports that Canada Christian College has not actually completed this process at all. Why would the Premier of Ontario make such a completely untrue claim?”

In defending their action, PC MPP Dave Piccini (Northumberland—Peterborough South), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Colleges and Universities replied, “All private post-secondary institutions in Ontario require a thorough and rigorous organizational review in order to change names and expand degree-granting authority. This review is undertaken by the independent Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board, and we’ll look forward for the review.”

In trying to sneak through this provision of the bill to grant McVety’s institution degree-granting powers, Premier Ford has allowed concerns about his commitment to equity to resurface. Whether he was trying to placate social conservatives for not following through on earlier commitments or not, Ford has endangered any notions that he had left behind any social conservative ideas.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party may have a right-wing party challenge it for its conservative votes in the next election scheduled for June, 2022. The leader of the “Axe the Carbon Tax” movement, Jim Karahalios, and his MPP spouse, Belinda Karahalios (Cambridge), who was expelled from the PC caucus, are seeking to create a new political party in Ontario entitled “New Blue Party of Ontario.” On its website, the fledgling party is seeking to gain the 1,000 signatures required to be registered as a party by Elections Ontario. At this point, it looks like they have reached their goal of 1,000 signatures and will now have those vetted by Elections Ontario. Should the New Blue Party of Ontario field candidates in the next election, they may imperil some PC MPPs in marginal PC seats. As well, it will be interesting to see if other PC-expelled MPPs, like long-time MPP Randy Hillier (Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston), join the new party. With some right-wing Ontarians rejecting Premier Ford’s COVID-19 policies, the New Blue Party of Ontario might cause some angst for Ford and his party.

Former Liberal Premier and MPP, Kathleen Wynne (Don Valley West), announced that she will not seek re-election in 2022. Wynne said that she will retire and concentrate on other matters including helping her daughter raise another generation of family members. Wynne was Ontario’s first woman and openly lesbian Premier. She led a tired Ontario Liberal Party to a stunning majority government victory in 2014 but also led the party to its worst showing ever with seven seats in the 124-seat Ontario Legislature in 2018. Wynne was able to hold onto her seat in the election.