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What you need to know before MPPs return to Queen's Park Tuesday

Ontario Members of Provincial Parliament will return to Queen’s Park Tuesday after a two-month winter break.

Residents can likely expect a bit of a rocky start to the spring session. Here’s what you need to know:


The first order of business at Queen’s Park will likely be healthcare.

The Progressive Conservatives are expected to push forward their new health-care plan, which focuses on reducing surgical backlogs by allowing private clinics to conduct certain operations.

Among the operations that private clinics will be able to perform under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan are cataract surgeries, as well as diagnostic procedures such as MRI and CT scans, ophthalmic surgeries, minimally invasive gynecological surgeries and plastic surgeries.

This will be further expanded to include “non-urgent, low-risk and minimally invasive” procedures, although what this entails has not been released.

As early as 2024, these clinics will also be allowed to perform hip and knee replacements.

Experts have told CTV News Toronto the provincial plan has the potential to reduce Ontario’s surgical backlog, but it will depend on the details. Unions and opposition parties, meanwhile, argued the investment would steal staff from hospitals where they are most needed and lead to potential upselling to patients.

The PCs have said they hope to roll out its new private clinic partnerships by March, meaning it will be one of the first pieces of legislation tabled by the government.


Those tuning into Question Period should expect a variety of questioning around Premier Doug Ford’s alleged cozy ties with developers–some of whom attended his daughter’s $150-entry stag and doe party.

The revelation that some developers who may have benefited from provincial housing legislation may have attended the event and financially contributed to Ford’s daughter’s wedding has stirred quite the controversy; despite the fact the province’s integrity commissioner said there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

The evidence was provided by the Ford government after questions from the media in January and has not been made public.

The premier has repeatedly said the invite list for the party was a personal matter, and that “no one can influence the Fords.”

Meanwhile both the auditor general and the integrity commissioner have launched separate investigations into the Ford government’s decisions to develop parts of the Greenbelt.

The auditor general has said they will conduct a value-for-money audit into the financial and environmental impacts of more than 7,000 acres of previously protected land for development. Meanwhile the integrity commissioner is looking into whether Housing Minister Steve Clark tipped developers off as to what land was being carved up.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement at a Magna International production facility, in Brampton, Ont., on Wednesday, February 15, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

It’s unclear if either of these investigations will be completed during the spring session, but opposition parties will likely continue to use it as an opportunity to take aim at the PCs.


The province’s spring budget will be presented on or before March 31. When asked about what residents can expect, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said “more of the same.”

“In other words, that we have a plan to build Ontario,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“It's going to be a plan that updates how we're doing on those priorities, the government's priorities to attract investment and good jobs and bigger paychecks in the province, how we're advancing on our plan to build that infrastructure. And it’s going to talk about the workers.”

At the same time, Bethlenfalvy said it's also time for governments to “show restraint” with their spending.

As of February, the province is reporting a $6.5-billion deficit for the 2022-23 fiscal year.


This will be the first session in which Marit Stiles is firmly at the helm of the New Democratic Party.

Stiles was confirmed as party leader in early February after running unopposed to replace Andrea Horwath, who resigned from her seat after the June elections.

The Toronto-area MPP was first elected in 2018 and has been a prominent voice in the legislature as a former education critic. This, however, will be her first chance to stand across the aisle from the premier as leader of the Official Opposition.

Marit Stiles speaks to supporters after her Ontario NDP leadership is confirmed in Toronto on Saturday February 4, 2023. Stiles has been confirmed after a majority of party members voted in favour of the lone candidate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

A by-election in Hamilton will also test the NDPs resolve. On March 16 voters will head to the polls to elect a replacement for Horwath, who has served as a representative for the riding since 2004.


The Ford government lost an ally last week with John Tory’s resignation.

Tory resigned as mayor of Toronto last week after it was revealed he was having an affair with a younger staffer.

Ford and Tory have supported most of each other’s agendas over the last few years, including the use of strong mayor powers to amend bylaws and pass a budget.

The premier spoke candidly about his election concerns last week, saying that a left wing mayor would be a “disaster” for Toronto.

“If a lefty mayor gets in there, God help the people at Toronto,” he said.

A byelection to replace Tory is likely to occur sometime in the spring or early summer. Ford has said he will work with whoever gets elected, but it’s unclear how this new relationship will impact the rest of his term.


Will Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner cross the floor and run to be leader of the Ontario Liberals?

The Ontario Liberal Party has been without a permanent leader since its devastating loss during the June 2022 elections. They will be holding their annual general meeting this spring in which rules for the leadership contest will be established.

In late January, Schreiner–after getting a letter from 40 liberals in support of him taking the top job–said he would consider running in the race.

“As you know, I have always said that I have no ambition to lead any party other than the Ontario Green Party. Yesterday I received a serious letter from people who expressed concerns I share about the current government and the need for urgent action on the climate crisis,” Schreiner said at the time.

“So, I’m going to ask people to give me time to think about their arguments.”

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner smiles as supporters clap during a press conference at Bloor-Bedford Parkette in Toronto as part of his campaign tour, on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

After this, a group of Ontario Greens put together a counteroffer for Liberals trying to poach their leader. In their letter, the members say the Liberals can have Schreiner, if they join their party.

Schreiner may face questions as the Liberal annual general meeting occurs over whether he actually intends to run–or if his consideration was simply a way to garner more media attention as the sole Green MPP at the legislature.


A protest is expected to be held on Feb. 25 by those “united against the Ford government’s anti-democratic, anti-environment, anti-worker and pro-sprawl agenda.”

The event is titled “Welcome Back Doug” and has been organized by a coalition including the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, Ontario Health Coalition, Binjibaaying Indigenous Youth Agency, Greenbelt Guardians and Stop Sprawl Halton.

This group is set to hold a news conference on Tuesday–the first day MPPs return to the legislature.

The protest is being held amid an ongoing fight over Bill 124, with the Ford government appealing a court decision that struck down the legislation.

It also comes as tens of thousands of hospital nurses try to negotiate a new contract with higher wages.


Ford will likely also be tasked with defending his actions during the 2022 Freedom Convoy protests amid a report that found it "troubling" that his government didn't engage with the issue earlier.

The report, which was published by the Public Order Emergency Commission on Friday, found a lack of collaboration by the Ontario government impacted jurisdictional and resourcing issues in the early days of the occupation.

It also left Ottawa feeling abandoned by its provincial government, the report found.

“It was not until Prime Minister Trudeau spoke to Premier Doug Ford on February 9, after the Ambassador Bridge blockade, that collaboration became the name of the game. It is unfortunate that such collaboration did not take place days earlier," it said.

Opposition parties will likely use this report as a reason to attack the Progressive Conservatives during Question Period. Top Stories

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