Premier Kathleen Wynne visited the Lieutenant Governor General and revealed her government’s intention to prorogue the Ontario Legislature, ending this legislative session at 1:30 p.m today. This is a measure used to take all legislation off the table that the governing Liberal Party does not want to deal with prior to the election. It means that all Bills (pieces of legislation), motions, and petitions before the Legislature die and will have to be reintroduced in the next session. As MPPs are limited in the times and ways by which they can introduce legislation and motions, proroguing the Legislature clears the decks for the governing Liberals to try to control the agenda leading into the election, scheduled for June 7.
In so doing, Wynne has killed Bill 33, the long-term care homes legislation. This vital legislation, which would have brought in a 4-hour minimum care standard for long-term care homes’ (nursing homes) residents, had passed 2nd Reading in the Legislature and could have been passed in 3rd Reading prior to the election, if the Liberals truly supported it. (The Liberals supported the Bill through 1st and 2nd Reading, then sat on it and did not move it forward and have now killed it. Now, it will have to go back and start from the beginning again.)
NDP MPP France Gelinas has committed to re-introducing the Bill at the earliest opportunity. As the government will continue to sit, likely until mid-April, there will likely be a chance to get the new bill through 1st Reading and perhaps 2nd Reading, forcing the Liberals to have to debate the issue in the Legislature and to be accountable for it.
For background info on Bill 33 click here: http://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/index.php/call-to-action-take-these-actions-to-win-improved-long-term-care-in-ontario-asap-pass-bill-33/
Former Health Minister Eric Hoskins, prior to leaving his position, committed to bringing in minimum care standards but the measures he was considering were not spelled out. We will be holding Kathleen Wynne to this commitment throughout the election. Eric Hoskins has now been replaced with Helena Jazcek as Health Minister.
The Conservatives supported Bill 33 through 1st and 2nd Reading. This was great news, but we are concerned because their platform currently includes a frightening $6 billion in public service cuts (and would almost certainly impact health care badly). New PC Leader Doug Ford says he is writing a new platform. We will push to see that it includes a better plan for funding health care, including public hospitals, long-term care and home care.