Ted Arnott, MPP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2012
MPP Arnott asks Government to reconsider their position
on equine industry
(Queen’s Park) – Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott once again stood up for the equine
industry in the Ontario Legislature this week.
On May 31, while speaking to a bill about family caregiver leave, Mr. Arnott called upon the
Provincial Government to focus on the urgent priorities that really matter to Ontarians.
“We have a jobs crisis in the province of Ontario. We have huge issues with respect to energy-and,
of course, wind energy is a big issue in many ridings in the province of Ontario. We have the equine
industry,” said Mr. Arnott.
On May 29, Mr. Arnott and Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece attended a meeting hosted by
Wellington County Warden Chris White to discuss the McGuinty Government’s decision to end the
Slots at Racetracks program.
“Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity on Tuesday night to attend a big public meeting in Wellington
county that was organized by the warden of Wellington county, Chris White, and the county council,”
Mr. Arnott told the Legislature. “There were hundreds of people there who were very, very
concerned about the potential devastation of the equine industry because of the government’s
decision to end the slots-at-racetracks program.”
Mr. Arnott once again called upon the Government to reconsider its decision and to listen to the
concerns of rural Ontario.
“Clearly, the government is not listening, but we would urge particularly the members of cabinet,
who have an opportunity to speak in the inner sanctum, behind closed doors in the cabinet
meetings, to seriously re-evaluate this issue, because I believe it’s going to cost taxpayers more
than what it will save, if anything,” Mr. Arnott said.
Mr. Arnott has been supportive of the equine industry and has raised the issue in the Legislature in
the past. In April he also visited Woodlands Farm near Hillsburgh to see first hand the impact the
Government’s decision would have on the industry.
(Attached: Hansard record of Ted Arnott’s speech in the Ontario Legislature, May 31, 2012.)
– 30 –
Mr. Ted Arnott: I am very pleased this morning to have this opportunity to participate in the second
reading debate of Bill 30, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of family
caregiver leave. The short title of this bill, as the government has articulated it, is the Family Caregiver
Leave Act (Employment Standards Amendment), 2011.
Mr. Speaker, this bill was first introduced in this House on December 8. So it was almost six months ago.
It has been called for debate from time to time when the government is uncertain or unsure of what to do
to fill this Legislature’s time. It would appear to be sort of a place-keeping bill that the government calls
from time to time just to kind of fill in time and fill in airtime.
Our caucus has spoken to this bill extensively. This morning, we had participation from the members
from Prince Edward-Hastings and Barrie, both of whom come from constituencies that have many
concerns about many other issues that are facing the province, obviously, as well as this one. We have a
jobs crisis in the province of Ontario. We have huge issues with respect to energy-and, of course, wind
energy is a big issue in many ridings in the province of Ontario.
We have the equine industry. Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity on Tuesday night to attend a big public
meeting in Wellington county that was organized by the warden of Wellington county, Chris White, and
the county council. There were hundreds of people there who were very, very concerned about the
potential devastation of the equine industry because of the government’s decision to end the slots-at-
racetracks program. Randy Pettapiece, my colleague from Perth-Wellington, was also there. At the end of
the meeting we had the chance to address the crowd, to speak to them about what we’re going to do. I
indicated a willingness to continue to work on their behalf, to advocate their concerns.
Clearly, the government is not listening, but we would urge particularly the members of cabinet, who
have an opportunity to speak in the inner sanctum, behind closed doors in the cabinet meetings, to
seriously re-evaluate this issue, because I believe it’s going to cost taxpayers more than what it will save,
if anything. I think in fact it’s going be shown to be one of the big boondoggles of the provincial
government at the appropriate time when we see the books after the next government takes office.
I do digress, Mr. Speaker, and I must return to the discussion on Bill 30, and I recognize that. This bill, if
we were to listen to the government and believe them, would purport to create a family caregiver leave,
added to the Employment Standards Act. “Under section 49.3, an employee is entitled to a leave of
absence without pay to provide care or support to a family member who has a serious medical condition.
An employee may take up to eight weeks per calendar year with respect to each family member described
in the section or prescribed by regulation. Entitlement to family caregiver leave is in addition to any
entitlement to family medical leave under section 49.1 and personal emergency leave under section 50.”
Our caucus, again-as I said, we’ve discussed this bill now for 11 hours. It’s interesting that the government
seems to think this is an important priority, yet six months into it we still haven’t concluded the debate.
We’re down to 10-minute speeches, but at the same time, 11 hours of debate-the government hasn’t called
it on a consistent basis; just from time to time when it doesn’t know what else to call.
Obviously, if this place is to be relevant, we need to be responding to the day-to-day concerns of the
people of Ontario. Again, there are all kinds of concerns that are brought to my attention in my
constituency office on Fridays. My staff work on them through the week and I get back when I can,
obviously, to participate in those discussions with my constituents. I have to say that this doesn’t come up
very often in my riding office. From time to time I’ve heard concerns about this, and I think that most compassionate employers who
want to retain staff over time would take a compassionate approach. If staff need time off to deal with
urgent family matters, I think that most employers are probably already doing this sort of thing. But the
government seems to feel that it’s necessary to make some sort of value statement that it’s doing
something to ensure that this happens in every case, and I understand that.
I also recognize some of the points that were made by the members for Prince Edward-Hastings and
Barrie on the concerns that small businesses have. Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Federation of Independent
Business will tell you that coming out of a recession-we’re still in economic difficulty, obviously, with the
jobs situation, but coming out of a recession, it’s the small business sector that is the most dynamic in
terms of job creation, and up to 80% of new jobs tend to be in the small business sector. Surely, that being
the case, we want to encourage small business, we want to get behind small business, we want to evaluate
the level of regulation, red tape and the level of tax that small business is facing.
That has always been the focus of our caucus, and we’ve brought forward those concerns for years.
Obviously, when we were in government between 1995 and 2003, it was a big focus of ours. Small
business contributed to the creation of more than a million jobs in the province of Ontario, encouraged
and supported by the Harris and Eves governments.
Under the McGuinty government, I hear consistently from business people that the provincial government
is in no way supportive of small business. In fact, the level of regulation, red tape, and the level of tax has
never been worse. I even hear comments that it’s worse under the McGuinty Liberals than it was under the
Bob Rae government, the New Democrats, between 1990 and 1995. At that time, certainly when I was
here, we considered the level of tax, red tape and regulation to be killing jobs and small business, and
I think the government needs to obviously listen to the opposition in this regard. We have all kinds of
ideas to bring forward, and certainly in a minority Parliament, I would venture to suggest, we have an
obligation to bring forward constructive suggestions and ideas. It’s not good enough just to be
obstructionist and present the opposition. Although we do have an obligation to do that too, I would say
we also have a commensurate obligation to bring forward constructive, good ideas from our side of the
House. We’ve tried to do that.
Unfortunately, the McGuinty government has been more or less unwilling to co-operate with us. Of
course, they point the finger at us in terms of our perceived unwillingness to work with them, but I would
suggest that the latter is actually-we are prepared to work with them. We’re certainly making an effort.
We’re trying to bring forward ideas. We have a considerable number of ideas with respect to elimination
of red tape and regulation. Of course, this government is looking to solve the fiscal problem that they
face, that they created, largely, with higher taxes and higher regulation on small business. Again, we
would encourage the government to consider some of these ideas.
Certainly, our position on this bill has been brought forward, as I said, by a number of our colleagues. We
have pointed out the fact that the minister’s staff provided an initial briefing on the legislation to our
caucus and gave us this information. We were told that this bill is intended to introduce a proposed family
caregiver’s leave for up to eight unpaid weeks per year. To qualify for the leave, the employee must be
caring for an individual whom a physician has deemed to have a critical injury or illness and cannot care
for themselves. We are told the leave will mirror the family medical leave significantly, except it will not
include the provision of significant risk of death within a 26-week period. Currently, before this bill was introduced, we were told that there are only two leaves available to workers
in Ontario that are protected under the Employment Standards Act. Family medical leave is unpaid, job-
protected leave of up to eight weeks in a 26-week period, but for an employee to be eligible, a qualified
health practitioner must issue a certificate stating that the individual to be cared for has a serious medical
condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks.
Under the federal Employment Insurance Act, six weeks of employment insurance benefits may be paid
to EI-eligible employees under this leave. That, of course, has been discussed in the context of this debate:
whether or not the federal government has been adequately consulted in this regard; offloading the
responsibility for this provincial legislation onto the federal government, expecting them to pay for it.
Certainly, we would have to call attention to that and question whether or not that’s appropriate.
Personal emergency leave: Some employees have the right to take up to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected
leave each calendar year, due to illness, injury and certain other emergencies and urgent matters. This
leave is only eligible for individuals who work for a company that regularly employs more than 50
Again, we have concerns about this bill. During the initial briefing, the Ministry of Labour staff could not
cite any demand for this proposed leave, nor could they cite any circumstances or instances where
employees had asked for leave to care for a family member and were terminated as a result. The Ministry
of Labour also has not yet briefed any stakeholder groups whom this bill could significantly affect.
In short, our caucus has concerns. We’re not sure that this bill is the right way to go. We do encourage the
government to send this bill to committee so that we can have an opportunity to hear from many of the
interested groups and individuals. I think that’s appropriate and prudent, and I hope that can happen soon.
I know that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has a real interest in this and, I’m sure,
would want to participate in those discussions. They are the voice of small business. I think that to the
extent that we, as a minority Legislature, can work with small business and work with the people who
speak on their behalf through the CFIB, obviously we’re going to be acting in the public interest.
Again, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your indulgence this morning in listening to my comments, and I
encourage all members of this House to consider the comments of the official opposition with respect to