Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question to the Premier. The investment by this Premier and his minister to their buddies at Facedrive just stinks. The products the Premier and his minister proclaimed would help Ontarians aren’t even in use anymore, and no one can find any actual jobs created by the millions in grants. Some have said that the millions the company received may have contributed to helping the company drive up its stock, only to see it come crashing down while company executives sold off shares for millions of dollars. But that’s not all. Facedrive’s executive vice-president kicked thousands of dollars into the PC coffers last year just after the government gave the company millions in public dollars.
To the Premier: What jobs in Ontario did this multi-million investment create, and how many of the Facedrive products were actually made in Ontario to date?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
Hon. Victor Fedeli: In the depths of the pandemic, when Ontario had almost no PPE capacity, our government launched the $50-million Ontario Together Fund. This helped local companies retool their operations to produce PPE, critical supplies and develop technology-driven solutions and services.
Like all submissions to the Ontario Together Fund, this proposal was assessed by ministry officials using internal experts as well as external, independent and third-party institutions. Additionally, in this case, this also included two university professors who provided their expertise.
In order to ensure value for money, the ministry has safeguards against a company’s performance, and that includes a holdback of funding, covenants around project completion and a requirement to have an independent auditor confirm that the investment was made in accordance with the funding agreement. If the company falls short, the ministry can take appropriate action.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Again to the Premier: It’s not just us raising concerns about this investment, Speaker. On the government’s promo video for Facedrive, which the company posted on social media, the Ottawa Centre Progressive Conservatives weighed in. They wrote on February 24 of this year, “What is supposed to be the return on the government’s ‘investment’?” Investment is in air quotes because no one believes that this was a good investment to create jobs and keep Ontarians safe, and even the government’s own party members are wondering what return on investment taxpayers got for the millions that the Premier dumped into their coffers.
So what did Ontarians get out of this cash to the Premier’s corporate buddies, besides a bunch of trackers, no longer in use, that the company bought off the shelf in China?
Hon. Victor Fedeli: From day one, our government has been focused on keeping the people of Ontario safe. That’s why we introduced programs like the Ontario Together Fund. The intention is to lower the hurdle for domestic companies to begin to support Ontario’s ongoing response to the pandemic.
The program supported 45 projects and leveraged more than $187 million in private sector investments. That has allowed us to reduce our dependence on unreliable supply chains. In fact, before the pandemic, very little PPE was made here in the province of Ontario, and as of today, 74% of our PPE is purchased domestically and most of it here in the province of Ontario.
Now, it’s unfortunate that the member and his party voted against the second round of $50 million for essential goods that are made in Kanata. They said no to supporting critical manufacturers in places like Hamilton and Scarborough. It’s only our government—
Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/bzZJqj45O1M