The Liberal government’s critics are complaining that the Grits aren’t giving them enough time to criticize.
The legislature is currently scheduled to rise for the summer on June 1, and the Liberals have either time-allocated or plan to time-allocate legislation that will enact their sweeping budget and hydro plans.
“This is just jamming this through at the end of the session,” said NDP MPP Peter Tabuns on Thursday.
The Liberals passed a time-allocation motion Thursday morning that could pass Bill 127, the government’s 33-schedule budget bill, just five days from now.
The schedule, which was opposed by the Progressive Conservatives and NDP, would allow for six hours of public hearings at the committee stage. It would also see the bill debated for a total of 30 minutes at third reading. Third reading of the bill could happen as early as next Wednesday.
Government House Leader Yasir Naqvi said it was a “very important bill” because of the Liberals’ plan for free prescription medication for Ontarians under 25, as well as the added funding contained in the budget for schools and hospitals. He told QP Briefing it was the government’s intention to pass the bill before the summer recess.
"I think we know everybody’s views on this bill,” Naqvi said. “We feel that 30 minutes are sufficient in terms of third reading, if there are any changes made to the bill.”
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault then said Thursday afternoon that the government intends to move quickly with Bill 132, the Fair Hydro Act, which outlines the Liberals’ plan to reduce electricity bills by an average of 25 per cent. Thibeault said that the government wanted the bill passed so that Ontarians would be enjoying their savings by Canada Day, which would entail passing it by June 1.
The minister said “there’s plenty of time” for the opposition to review the bill, given the briefings the government intends to provide.
“As we’ve recently seen in the house, the opposition can seek to delay or undermine passage of important pieces of legislation, but I think it’s important to say our government isn’t playing games with this one,” Thibeault told reporters.
This didn’t sit well with the opposition. PC energy critic Todd Smith said both the issue and the government were “desperate.”
“Clearly the government has rushed this legislation,” Smith said.