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Ontario legislature takes summer break, with PCs pushing back return to Sept. 25

MPPs' postponed return to sitting will allow them to attend September's International Plowing Match while still preserving committees' reviews of the government's 2023-24 spending plans
A man walks in front of Queen's Park in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023.

MPPs are out for summer.

The Ontario legislature's spring sitting was completed on Thursday, with the governing Progressive Conservatives moving just before it wrapped up to push back its resumption in the fall by two weeks.

Barring emergency summer sittings, MPPs will return to their typical legislative business on Sept. 25, rather than on Sept. 11, as previously set.

Their postponed return makes room in their schedules for the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo.

The plowing match is one of the hottest events on the Ontario politics calendar, with dozens of MPPs and the leaders of the major parties usually attending each annual outing. Each year's event tends to expect to attract around 100,000 attendees. 

For MPPs, the plowing match serves as an opportunity to flex their rugged and rural bona fides, including by competing against one another to see who can plow the straightest furrow.

The 2023 plowing match is being held in Bowling Green in Health Minister Sylvia Jones' largely rural riding of Dufferin—Caledon.

Although the chamber won't return until Sept. 25, MPPs on certain committees are still scheduled to meet during the week of Sept. 11 to finish up their review of the government's 2023-24 spending plans for some ministries. Opposition MPPs can consider this a victory, as these committee meetings offer them a rare opportunity to question government ministers for a few minutes at a time in a less theatrical setting than question period tends to give. 

Nevertheless, the PCs' motion to adjourn house sittings for two extra weeks passed on division with NDP MPPs voicing their opposition in a verbal vote. John Vanthof, house leader for the official Opposition New Democrats, expressed during the short debate on the motion that his party's caucus opposed it because they're against losing out on two weeks-worth of question periods.

"Question period is one of the most important parts of our democracy," Vanthof said.

Ministries whose spending estimates are still before committees include: Long-Term Care; Colleges and Universities; Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development; Treasury Board Secretariat; Northern Development; Natural Resources and Forestry; Seniors and Accessibility; Tourism, Culture and Sport; Citizenship and Multiculturalism; Solicitor General; Public Service and Business Delivery; the Office of the Premier; and the Cabinet Office.

The summer break from sitting allows the government time to craft its agenda and plan for future sittings. During lengthy adjournments, MPPs typically spend their time in their ridings, on vacation, or doing some mixture of both.


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Charlie Pinkerton

About the Author: Charlie Pinkerton

Charlie has covered politics since 2018, covering Queen's Park since 2021. Instead of running for mayor of Toronto, he helped launch the Trillium in 2023.
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