STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES BUDGETS DES DÉPENSES
Wednesday 29 October 2014 Mercredi 29 octobre 2014
The committee met at 1600 in room 151.
Ministry of Transportation
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Good afternoon, members. We’re here to resume consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation. There is a total of one hour and 43 minutes remaining.
Before we resume consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation, if there are any inquiries from the previous meeting that the ministry or minister has responses to, perhaps the information can be distributed by the Clerk at the beginning in order to assist the members with any further questions. Are there any items?
Ms. Carol Layton: Not today, no.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Not today. Okay.
When the committee adjourned yesterday, the official opposition had the floor with 10 minutes remaining in its rotation. I will turn the floor over. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Great, thank you. Good afternoon, Minister.
Minister, I want to start off today—we did leave Highway 7 questions, but I’ll just submit an order paper question and get a written answer, so I’m going to move on. So expect those and I’ll allow you to answer it there.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thank you.
Mr. Michael Harris: Minister, your ministry partnered with the Canada Border Services Agency for safety roadside blitzes. How long, up until you recently asked them not to participate, were they participating in roadside blitzes?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: We’ll get you the answer on exactly—so you’re asking when those—
Mr. Michael Harris: No; how long had they partnered up until you asked them to no longer partner with you? How long had they done so? Any idea, roughly?
Ms. Carol Layton: We have been partnering with various enforcement agencies for a number of years. With the CBSA, this was a fairly unique one, and so I can’t tell you how long. We do, for example, use the Canada Border Services Agency at the border—
Mr. Michael Harris: Right, right.
Ms. Carol Layton: —where we just use their parking lot.
Mr. Michael Harris: Specifically this—perhaps you’ll get back to me—
Ms. Carol Layton: This was a unique one. In my recollection, I’m not aware of one like what this one was.
Mr. Michael Harris: I’m wondering what the duration—as to if it had been six months, a year, two years, so if you could get back to me on that one, that would be great.
Ms. Carol Layton: We’ll get back to you. Yes.
Mr. Michael Harris: Minister, you did write the federal Minister of Public Safety, but you had commented on the fact that they were no longer going to participate in these roadside safety blitzes with the varying law enforcement agencies because you had said you had ordered a review. What did that review produce?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: You’re 100% right in that, when I learned, over—I’m trying to remember the exact date now; I don’t. I believe it was sometime in August—
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sometime in August, I learned that this had taken place. What I had asked internally at MTO was that we conduct a review, essentially, from my perspective, to determine what potential alignment there is between the Ministry of Transportation and not just the Canadian Border Services Agency, but what kind of alignment there is with respect to whatever law enforcement agencies—for example, other ministries, agencies etc.—that we may partner with on, say, commercial vehicle road safety blitzes in order to determine what the objective is, to make sure that the objective is in alignment, that there’s a shared objective that’s in keeping with the Ministry of Transportation’s primary responsibility as it relates to these activities, which from my perspective is making sure that Ontario’s roads and highways remain amongst the safest in North America. That was the request that I had made with respect to the review.
Mr. Michael Harris: Right. What did that review produce, pertaining specifically to the CBSA that you decided to ask them to no longer be a participant?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It was a fairly quick turnaround because it was a matter that was of some importance to me—that we have a clear sense of exactly what direction we had been taking and would be taking in the future by way of a recommendation. The recommendation coming forward, amongst other things, was that there was a less clear alignment, I suppose I would say, between the Ministry of Transportation’s objectives and those of the Canadian Border Services Agency. Based on that aspect of the report’s findings and the recommendation flowing from that portion of the findings, I decided to send the letter that you had referenced in your opening to Steven Blaney, where I confirmed that, going forward, the Ministry of Transportation wouldn’t be partnering directly in terms of sharing the resources for commercial—
Mr. Michael Harris: Right. Could you table that report to this committee?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’ll take that back.
Mr. Michael Harris: We would ask that that report be tabled to the committee. I guess I’m specifically asking: What from the review specifically said to you, “This doesn’t match our alignment”? I guess you said here that this does not align with the ministry’s mandate, so what is the mandate?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: The mandate was, broadly speaking, what I talked about a second ago, which is making sure that Ontario’s roads and highways remain amongst the safest or the safest in North America. That’s something that I think you know. I say it all the time because it’s a very, very important foundational kind of element of my mandate as the Minister of Transportation. It’s one of the reasons we introduced Bill 31 last week, which we talked a bit about yesterday. Taking into account that primary responsibility, one of my primary responsibilities, I wanted to make sure that when we were partnering that we were doing so with organizations, entities, levels of government—that’s a broad way of describing whoever we’re partnering with—that there is a clear alignment between those two.
Mr. Michael Harris: In mid-August, there was an actual safety blitz. I’m not exactly sure where it was. I believe it was in Toronto somewhere. There were 21 undocumented workers who were arrested as part of that safety blitz. Do you know if any of them, or all of them, actually possessed a valid Ontario driver’s licence? Are you aware of the charges that were laid?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I know that there were a number, and I’m sorry that I don’t have it off the top of my head right now, because MTO is there in its capacity to determine whether or not the vehicle itself and the driver are adhering to the rules of the road essentially. That’s my layperson’s way of explaining it.
Mr. Michael Harris: Would a driver’s licence be a part of adhering to—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: There is a request for documentation, including drivers’ licences, whenever these individuals are stopped. I know there were a number of vehicles that actually had issues. When I say “vehicles,” I’m talking about the physical—
Ms. Carol Layton: Mechanical fitness.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Mechanical fitness. Thank you, Deputy.
There were a number. I just forget the number off the top of my head. Deputy, I’m not sure if you know.
Ms. Carol Layton: I don’t recall.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: But there were a number involved in that particular blitz that MTO officials felt didn’t meet the standards that are required for, as the deputy said, mechanical fitness, and so—
Mr. Michael Harris: I guess I’m kind of focusing in on the 21 undocumented workers who were arrested. You would likely have had some information on those charges, being that you teamed with those folks. I’m just wondering if—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I had been aware in the past as it relates specifically to the MTO component, so the number of vehicles themselves that would have had some issue with respect to their mechanical fitness, you know—
Mr. Michael Harris: So you don’t know if any of the 21 who were arrested by the CBSA—you weren’t aware that any of them may or may not have had a valid Ontario driver’s licence?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I have not been specifically made aware of that. It’s possible that through that process we, as a ministry, were made aware, but I was not specifically made aware of that.
Mr. Michael Harris: I’m just wondering. You know what? I like the safety blitzes; in fact, I stopped in at one in Kitchener recently and I saw the CBSA there. I thought it was good that partners across lines—including the OPP, the MTO, others—were ensuring that our highways are safe, and that includes vehicles that operate properly but, as well, the folks who are behind the wheel themselves, because at times they’re driving down the road with 40 tonnes of cargo, and I did read a comment that these could be considered killing machines. We want to ensure that we’ve got the best people possible at the wheel.
I guess I’m concerned, and others are concerned, that perhaps you’re turning a blind eye by asking the CBSA not to participate in these roadside safety blitzes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Just so we’re clear on this, I think what people have to remember is that this in no way, shape or form limits, stops, in any way impedes the fact that MTO, which has been doing commercial vehicle safety blitzes, as the deputy said, since the 1980s and has a stellar record with respect to performing these—
Mr. Michael Harris: No. I get that.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —nothing will stop as it relates to the Ministry of Transportation continuing to do roadside commercial vehicle safety blitzes. That work will still occur. It will occur, and I suspect—and I have a tonne of respect for the work that all government agencies at all levels have to do. The Canadian Border Services Agency will, I’m sure, continue to do its work as its mandate requires it to do at our borders and elsewhere, and I respect the fact that they need to do their work.
This is just a case in which my decision was based on what I had seen in the report, that I felt there wasn’t a clear public policy alignment with respect to road safety and the work that particular agency was undertaking.
Mr. Michael Harris: How long did the review take to complete?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: The review took—I want to say it was about a month, but—
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes, about three or four weeks.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Three or four weeks to conduct the review.
You asked a question a second ago, and I actually have the information now. There were 25 commercial vehicles that were inspected at that particular blitz that you were talking about, which occurred on August 14; 14 of those vehicles were placed what we call “out of service” by the Ministry of Transportation officials or staff that were there at that blitz.
The blitzes are ongoing. They occur from time to time in all parts of the province. You mentioned one in Kitchener. They happen all over Ontario. The work is great. It’s a very, very fundamental part of the work that we do to make sure that our roads are safe—
Mr. Michael Harris: No, and I get that—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —and that’s not going to stop. I just want to make sure that’s clear.
Mr. Michael Harris: I think there’s value in having the CBSA partner with those other agencies, and I’d ask you if during one of the safety blitzes which happened in the past, they were pulled over and the driver was an actual illegal immigrant operating a vehicle on our roads, wouldn’t you see the benefit of having the CBSA there to ensure that if we want to keep our highways safe, we remove that individual from the highway?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: My understanding of the situation—and this is based on what I have come to understand—is that, prior to the review, during the review and now following the review, if an individual is operating a commercial vehicle and is pulled over and is asked for their driver’s licence, and any information relating to an arrest warrant—I’m going to use that term broadly—any kind of arrest warrant is flagged when the driver’s licence is produced, there is still an internal informing of the agency or the authority that has issued or has put forward that arrest warrant. That could include something relating to immigration. It could relate to something involving the RCMP or the OPP—I’m speaking very hypothetically here—that that information is still flagged on the system and the responsible authority is still notified.
Mr. Michael Harris: Right away?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: As I understand it, it is fairly instantaneous. So if the—
Mr. Michael Harris: So are you saying that if there is an illegal immigrant operating a motor vehicle who’s pulled over as part of a safety blitz which the CBSA is no longer part of and the licence is run, it’s flagged that there is an outstanding warrant due to an immigration issue, the OPP or the appropriate official would immediately call—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: As I understand it, yes.
Mr. Michael Harris: So they would not be able to continue down the road? They would be—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: That is correct.
Mr. Michael Harris: —on the spot—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: That is correct.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Harris, you have two minutes.
Mr. Michael Harris: What about any other—obviously MTO and CBSA are at the border, but if something—in terms of carrying a lot of workers or smuggling of people in the back of a truck, for instance—I’m just giving you an example—is pulled over in a safety blitz, what would happen then if the OPP or the MTO pull this individual over and find human smuggling perhaps going on? What would be the policy set out then?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Again, my understanding is, at that point the OPP, who do traditionally and normally partner with MTO in these kinds of blitzes, would be engaged at that point.
Ms. Carol Layton: If I could just add as well—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sure, please.
Ms. Carol Layton: If I just could add: We do partner with the OPP but also other police service agencies. If it was the metropolitan police and it’s happening in Toronto, for example, it would be the relevant police authority. The MTO officers certainly do not have that jurisdiction.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Minister, I’d like to just bring to your attention that I was in contact with your staff earlier this summer regarding the CVOR branch. I’m not sure if you were made aware of my inquiries. When I contacted the CVOR branch, I phoned six different people on the website who were listed as contact points. I only got through to one person who was no longer in the CVOR branch but was in some other part of the ministry. I raise that question just for your knowledge, and maybe we’ll get more into this afterwards. The administration and management of that CVOR branch, I’ve heard many, many complaints of. From my own interaction with them, those complaints are very justified when you cannot contact anybody. Everybody was either on holidays or no longer worked there or was working in other areas of the ministry—not one valid contact point on the—
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Hillier, your time is up.
Mr. Randy Hillier: We’ll get back to that. Thank you.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thank you. Mr. Cimino, you have 20 minutes.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Thank you, Chair. Good afternoon, staff, colleagues and Minister. I was going to ask this later on if I had time, but this is a good segue into something I was thinking about as I was reading the new legislation, Bill 31, Making Ontario’s Roads Safer, which is our goal as all members. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in there it talked about a new system maybe for the vehicle inspection centre system. It was talking about perhaps a third party operator. Could you describe—if it’s a new model of service delivery for those centres?
Ms. Carol Layton: Sure, I’ll take that. We did talk a little bit about this as well yesterday. It is an outsourced function now. It is actually private sector-operated garages that provide those inspections for those used vehicles that are sold. We’ve had that model for a number of years, and, within the ministry, we then provide the oversight of those many, many garages all around the province.
What we’ve sought through that legislation, if approved, would be the scope to think about modernizing that more, improving on it, because there’s always room for improvement—
Mr. Joe Cimino: In what ways?
Ms. Carol Layton: Making it more efficient, and is there better use of technology? What are those different things and how much does MTO actually have to be in the business of doing the oversight as opposed to having more of a sector oversight? You might be familiar with some of the delegated administrative authorities, for example, you would have with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, the Electrical Safety Authority. That’s one model to think about but there are other models there to think about as well. Is there, for example, another type of entity, another body—it could be a non-profit organization, whatever—that actually is the overseer of that program as opposed to MTO doing that deliberately?
I think the point there is that it’s allowing, in the scope of that legislation, for us to explore all of that in the context of thinking it through, the pros and the cons, the implications, the cost, all of that sort of thing, and then put it through the formal decision-making process, including potentially Treasury Board, the relevant committee of cabinet, all of that.
It’s not a fait accompli. It’s being permissive and thinking it through.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Have you given thought—or I guess we’re too much in the infancy stage of this. Who would—this entity, as you quoted—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: No, the legislation hasn’t passed yet. It was just introduced last week, so we’re going to deal with passing the legislation. We’re going through the committee process, like we normally would, with the legislation, if passed. Then we will deal with—
Mr. Joe Cimino: Yes, because the question I had is, who would control this entity?
Ms. Carol Layton: It would be premature for us to say that. I think the key thing is to do some consultation on it, think that through and determine whether indeed it’s—we’re only going to do it if it’s going to be done and it’s going to be a better performance and better outcomes—
Mr. Joe Cimino: Would the user fees pay for this, as it is now?
Ms. Carol Layton: The other point I wanted to make is that—and I did say it as well yesterday—we are bound by the Eurig rules, which was a Supreme Court decision a long time ago, a number of years ago. All ministries are bound by the Eurig rules in that we can only cost recover our programs, so when we do administer a program, we have to cost recover. We could be below cost recovery in many—and in some programs it was pointed out that there might be above-cost recovery. That list of programs is well known, certainly, to our colleagues in the Ministry of Finance, who follow all non-tax-revenue generating programs, all with the intent of bringing them into cost recovery.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Thank you for that. The last comment on this topic is that there is language in Bill 31 that says these new centres are not agents of the crown. This is not in the traffic act now, so I’m just wondering why the placement of that phrase in there.
Ms. Carol Layton: What that is actually—thinking through, in a sense, it would continue to think through the divestment of it. It would not be creating another agency. We’re thinking about it in the context more of the private sector or the non-profit, but not another agency of government.
Mr. Joe Cimino: So just trying to think this through, if it’s not a—what is the word again? So if that’s the case, is it under the purview of government agencies—the Auditor General and the Ombudsman—for oversight? Would those bodies still have oversight over this new agency, if it’s created?
Ms. Carol Layton: The program itself right now can certainly be looked at by the Auditor General, because right now it is a program that is funded by the province. If it’s a program where we spend money for a service—so therefore, there would potentially still be a line in our printed estimates—again, if it is in that context, I could see that being an AG-reviewed program. But if it’s completely divested—I think there’s a spectrum that we have to think through, everything from contracting out right through to ultimately a complete divestment. We’re not there yet. As to what that would be and therefore what the implications are for that legislative oversight that we’re talking about right now, it’s early days for us to think through those models.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Okay. Thank you. I’ll move on to trucks, transport trailers. Under the new proposed legislation, Bill 31, it talks about possibly, if the legislation is passed as is, allowing trucks to be 2.5 metres longer. In Sudbury and, I’m sure, in other municipalities, we have a major issue with—I see it as two issues: one with transports driving through residential streets that are not truck routes, and a big part of it is, it’s through no fault of their own; GPS sends them through the shortest route. We don’t have a complete bypass system around Greater Sudbury. From south to west, for example, it’s easier to go down Southview Drive, and you pick up the bypass. Southview Drive opens up into the bypass. We’ll talk about that later on.
Has your ministry given thought to the trucks as they are now, at the length they are now—and I’ve witnessed it myself, with tractor-trailers with cars on the back trying to go through these residential streets and holding up traffic literally for 15, 20, 25, 30 minutes as they’re trying to manoeuvre through these new bulbouts that are part of traffic calming measures and the damage that that weight of trucks do on our residential roads that aren’t designed at a highway standard in terms of holding that traffic. Has any thought been given about the length and what impact it might have residentially?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: There has been a lot of work that has taken place now over a number of months between the Ministry of Transportation here in Ontario and the trucking industry. This is a request that has come forward not just here in Ontario. In fact, not that long ago I was at a meeting of all transport and transportation ministers from across the country, including our federal counterpart. At a national level, this was part of the discussion in terms of taking a look at ways of modernizing, improving and enhancing some of the standards around the maximum length, as you mention in this legislation, proposing to take it from 25 to 27.5 metres with the additional length.
There are a number of reasons for wanting to provide the additional length. Some relate to how this will help us in our fight against climate change, for example. Some are also as it relates to providing the truck drivers themselves with more comfortable sleeping berths. There are other reasons.
Specifically as it relates to whether or not there are potential implications for residential roads, it’s hard for me to answer that question because I’m not familiar with exactly what kind of road you’re talking about in the Sudbury area, but I would argue or I would suggest anyway very respectfully that, depending on the type of residential road that we’re discussing, there probably are a number of measures that the local municipality could bring to bear in order to deal with traffic calming or perhaps diverting some of that heavy traffic, but then again I don’t know the specific roads you’re talking about.
Mr. Joe Cimino: The issue is that municipalities are so strained financially that even if they had measures to put in place, it’s difficult for them. A lot of the time, we have bylaws in place. City bylaws derive from the fact that it’s a non-truck route, and yet our bylaw officers don’t have the authority to stop a truck. That’s the issue. I’m not saying that the whole industry is not following the rules. It’s obviously always a few that paint the bad picture for everyone, and it’s unfortunate.
I don’t know if MTO, through maybe the traffic act in terms of fines—I don’t know if you ever gave thought to how else we can ensure that those trucks stay on the highways.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Right.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Unless they’re doing a delivery, obviously.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I appreciate that feedback.
Ms. Carol Layton: If I may, it also does link back to the role of our police authorities, for example, and the OPP, as well as the commercial vehicle inspection program, to make sure that at least those trucks that are on the highways are actually ones that are mechanically fit and the drivers are respecting things like hours of operating the truck, and speed limiters are on those trucks to restrict the speed of them as well, to 105 kilometres. There’s also that connection too, to make sure that they’re safe and operating well.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Okay. Minister, maybe since we’re on trucks—we talked about this in the House in terms of the media outlet and their investigation with truckers not being trained properly, I suppose: allowing them to drive the 400 series as part of their assessment. You said that you were meeting with stakeholders over the issue. Can you elaborate?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Yes, sure; absolutely. As I had said in my response to that question when I think you asked me the question in the House—
Mr. Joe Cimino: It might have been me or someone else.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Yes. I think it was you—a great question and a great answer, from what I recall. Essentially, obviously concerns had been raised with respect to two things: One is that there is currently no mandatory training for someone who hopes to hold what we call an “AZ licence” to drive a truck. There had been a number of improvements brought to the system, both the training and the testing systems, over the last number of years. We’ve had some great success. From my perspective, we’ve seen that since 2010, for example, the last time that there were some changes, some enhancements made to the standards, we have seen the number of fatal collisions involving large trucks has actually reached a five-year low. It doesn’t mean that our work is complete; we do have more work to do. What I’ve said publicly, what I’ve said in the Legislature, is that I am committed to helping Ontario move towards having a system in place to require mandatory training for those who hope to acquire that particular licence.
It does require that we work with the industry itself. To their credit, the Ontario Trucking Association has been talking to government for quite some time about the possibility of introducing a program that will provide that kind of mandatory training. We want to make sure we get it right. Also, of course, our colleagues at the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities—we have to work closely with them, because as is evident from the title of the ministry itself, there’s obviously an important responsibility there with respect to training. That work is now being undertaken in a more urgent way to make sure that we can come back over the next number of months with a training program that makes sense.
The other part of the story related to what was taking place at one testing centre—
Mr. Joe Cimino: In terms of the tuition fees being under $1,000—$999 and below—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Right.
Mr. Joe Cimino: —is that loophole being addressed?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: That’s back to the training issue for a quick second. Everything is being discussed at this point. No final decisions have been made. That’s the reason we’re going to do the outreach. We’re going to make sure that we get it right.
I was going to shift gears quickly for a second to go over to the testing aspect of it. That was one of the other portions of the story that you referenced in your opening. The Toronto Star had a story suggesting that one of the test centres in the GTA was perhaps not doing its work properly as it relates to whether or not a person who was being tested was taken on a 400-series highway, whether they were meeting guidelines etc. What I said—and again, this is work that’s ongoing—was of course, the Ministry of Transportation does conduct audits of our testing centres on a regular basis. I did say that we would send out resources, send out staff to take a look at that particular testing centre and at the same time move forward with the industry and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities so that at some point over the next few months, following that consultation, we’ll be in a place where we can introduce new mandatory training standards for all truck drivers.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Okay. Thank you.
I’m not sure, Minister, if this falls under your portfolio, but funding for Maley Drive in Sudbury?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Right.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Obviously—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Just double-checking.
Ms. Carol Layton: It’s a local road. It did receive funding—I’m going to forget. I wonder if Gerry can remember—
Mr. Joe Cimino: It was promised funding.
Ms. Carol Layton: No funding. Okay. It’s a local project in Sudbury.
Mr. Joe Cimino: My question is to that, in fact. Just quickly—I’m sure you know the file—Maley Drive is a road which will run parallel to Lasalle, so we have an issue with Lasalle Boulevard, a commercial road heavily used by residents. Slurry trucks going from source to smelter are really doing—that’s the only route. It’s really damaging the roads. I think $9 million was just spent on some road repairs and road reconstructions in the past couple of years.
The question is, from being on council, I know that the total cost of that road, the Maley extension, is $120 million. That’s the last figure I saw, $110 million to $120 million. In the budget—and the money has not been given to the city of Greater Sudbury, or it’s not put away; it’s promised, if you will, pending matching federal dollars. The city has a third put aside. What’s been promised is $26.7 million; $120 million divided by three is $40 million.
Can there be any comment in terms of—and it says “up to” $26.7 million. I’m just wondering where that figure came from.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: The language around “up to”: We include that in almost all of our public statements because at the outset, when we begin to fund large infrastructure projects, be they roads, transit or whatever it is, until the work is completed, you never know exactly what the final dollar figure will be. Of course, we always do our very best to make sure that we’re spending tax dollars in the most effective, efficient and fiscally prudent way possible. Sometimes projects will come in at less than what would be originally announced. That’s why we use the language “up to.”
As it relates to the precise dollar figure that will be invested on the Maley Drive project, I wasn’t the Minister of Transportation when this project was approved, let’s call it, so I’m not sure whether or not there was a specific request made by the municipality with respect to what they were hoping the province would fund, or if there was some other formula that was brought to bear on this particular project.
I know that I’ve heard the Premier speak directly about the importance of making sure that we provide this infrastructure support for the community of Sudbury. I know that the now former mayor, or soon-to-be former, because the election just took place, was obviously a very strong advocate and was successful in her advocacy to make us understand about the importance of providing this investment to that community, to your community, and I’m sure that that work will take place. I would also hope that yourself and others in your area are doing your best to communicate with your federal representatives—
Mr. Joe Cimino: Well, that was my next question: Is the province participating in any discussions with the federal government in terms of—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: This kind of work doesn’t normally unfold in that way, unless there is some sort of formal negotiation or formal arrangement. But really—and this isn’t the only project where we see this is the case—it’s one of reasons that as chair of the Council of the Federation, the Premier has repeatedly said that we, Ontario, and every province and territory, needs a reliable, stable funding partner from the federal government or a federal partner at the table to provide sustained support for these projects. It’s extremely important to the Premier. It’s important to our government. A number of provincial Premiers and territorial leaders have also expressed that same desire.
In my conversations directly, whether I was at the federal, provincial or territorial meeting of all transport and transportation ministers or in individual conversations I’ve had, I’ve tried to relay that same sentiment to the federal Minister of Transport. I’m an optimistic person by nature, so I hope that we will have federal government support for not only the project in Sudbury—for example, the Ring of Fire—but for a variety of other transit and transportation initiatives that we hope to build out here in Ontario over the next decade.
Mr. Joe Cimino: I’m sure we’ll talk about those, too.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Cimino, you have two minutes to wrap up.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Two minutes? Okay.
Moving on to Highway 7, Kitchener to Guelph, really quick: Mr. Harris, yesterday, I believe, asked for clarification on the Highway 7 Kitchener to Guelph project. So one of my questions was when was it going to get started, and we now know that it will start in 2015.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Early works will begin—
Mr. Joe Cimino: In fall—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Yes. So design work and property acquisition is actually in the process of being carried out right now, and in the fall of 2015 we’ll start the early work construction.
Mr. Joe Cimino: So my question is, in the last minute that I have here: “Highway 7 Moving Forward”—this is a news release that was sent out on August 8, 2012—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Can I ask who it was sent out by? The Ministry of Transportation or—
Mr. Joe Cimino: The Ministry of Transportation.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thank you.
Mr. Joe Cimino: The title is, “Highway 7 Moving Forward; McGuinty Government Building Jobs, Building a Stronger Economy.”
Hon. Steven Del Duca: This would have been August of some other year?
Mr. Joe Cimino: In 2012.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thank you. Sorry, I didn’t hear that part.
Mr. Joe Cimino: In there it states, “Ontario continues to press the federal government for contribution to this important regional transportation corridor and has applied to the P3 Canada Fund.” Is the project a P3 project? Is the MTO still looking for this type of partnership?
Ms. Carol Layton: What usually happens there is that the P3 funding is—whenever we have to deal with alternative finance and procurement type initiatives under Infrastructure Ontario, the partner agency also looks for the scope for there also to be some support for P3 Canada funding. It’s not a large fund that—
Mr. Joe Cimino: Has that replaced the Infrastructure Canada fund of a time?
Ms. Carol Layton: So Transport Canada is one source of funding, right? There’s the Building Canada Fund, and under the Building Canada Fund there’s the national infrastructure component, there’s something called the provincial-territorial infrastructure component, and there’s also the P3 fund. It’s our colleague ministry, the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, that actually does the work with Ottawa, does the negotiation and helps to do the program design.
It’s through, though, our colleague agency, or the agency that they’re overseen by, Infrastructure Ontario, that they then think through which of those candidate projects to put forward for the P3 Canada Fund.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Is this one?
Ms. Carol Layton: That might have happened back then. I’m not sure of the status now.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Can you let me know?
Ms. Carol Layton: We can certainly get back to you.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Your time is up.
Mr. Joe Cimino: I knew that was coming. So if you can let us know?
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): We’ll move over to the government. Mrs. McGarry, you have 20 minutes.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you very much. Minister, I know that during the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer launch a little while ago—last week, in fact—one of the exciting things for myself, not only as the member for Cambridge in order to protect my own citizens and riding, but also as a nurse, what I’m really anxious to see happen is charges that could come forward to those who are driving impaired from drugs, not just alcohol.
Interestingly, my background, as you know, is as an emergency room nurse. I recall one evening I was working the night shift. I had only just started, and we had a call from our local police and our EMS that they were bringing in a motor vehicle crash victim who was in his early 20s and appeared to be impaired.
Eventually, he arrived in the emergency department and they were unable to stand this gentleman up to get him into the stretcher. They actually had to carry him across to the stretcher, and, indeed, to all of us present, he did appear very impaired. During the course of his treatment, he ended up with injuries, but he was able to be assessed, treated and released.
Interestingly, the police investigation which happens during the time that he’s in the emergency department involved a breathalyzer. When they did the breathalyzer, this young man had no evidence of alcohol in his bloodstream. As a matter of fact, it was within normal readings. He hadn’t had any alcohol, but he was obviously very impaired, unable to stand, really unable to recount what events had happened in the accident. He had been seatbelted. He had rolled his car over, but didn’t appear to have any head injuries.
I think it was apparent to all of us working in the emergency room that night that we really needed to address some of the drug-impaired people out there. He was obviously in trouble. Apparently, according to the police, one of the witnesses had actually been on the highway—it was a two-lane regional road, so speeds of 80 kilometres an hour on this particular road. He had apparently suddenly just veered across the yellow line and almost into the path of an oncoming car, had hit a ditch and rolled over and they were able to get him out.
What worried me almost more than anything else was that later that evening, my husband called me at work and he was the one this driver almost hit. He had been carrying my young son home from one of his lessons. So it hit me not only as a nurse involved in public safety and looking out for our fellow citizens, but this young fellow almost hit my family.
So it became crystal clear to me that we need to move forward at looking at some kind of way of not only being able to screen either at the roadside or have some measure of whether somebody has been using drugs or not and move forward on legislation, probably similar to the way that we manage with folks who are driving impaired under the influence of alcohol.
I do know that at the end of this one particular case that I’ve been talking about, when the officers searched the car, they were able to take a couple of baggies of unidentified pills out of his car. They had found a substance that they thought was marijuana. In the end, they were only able to convict him over a violation of the Highway Traffic Act. They were not able to charge him with impaired.
Interestingly, over the course of my next few years in the emergency room department, what was evident to myself—and I think we discussed the percentage of how many folks are not only driving impaired through alcohol, but the combination of drugs and alcohol is certainly significant. That worried me too, because we were in the emerg department always having to work with our police officers as partners, to be able to allow them the time and the room to take a breathalyzer and respecting the patient’s privacy. We weren’t able to give them information that way, but usually those folks then dealt with the police after.
I was concerned about that, and I think just a follow-up on that is that both of my sons are just starting out on their drivers’ training. I have a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old who are just about to do that. They know for sure that they’re not allowed to get into a car with their friends with an impaired driver.
Interestingly, my 17-year-old just told me recently that one of his friends was actually driving and had had no alcohol—he’s on the graduated licensing program—but the scary thing to me was that this student was driving under the influence of marijuana, and his comment was that he felt that because he knew he was smoking marijuana, he was able to manage the car better because he was much more alert and sensitive of the fact that he was stoned. I kind of chuckled, because I remember hearing those arguments when, many decades ago, I was a teenager and people used to think that if they were driving impaired, they were better drivers because they were just at heightened alertness. So I was concerned about the education part of the whole idea of not just distracted driving and not just impaired driving from alcohol but impaired from drugs as well.
My final comment is that I do know, as an emerg nurse, that in order to get a full drug profile to see if a patient has actually had drugs in their system, it was a fairly complicated way of being able to measure that, with two samples needing to be provided to be able to do a full drug panel screen. I was interested , when we were launching the new legislation, that Australia seems to be ahead of us in terms of developing a way of being able to do a drug test at the roadside that’s not as invasive as what we do in the emerg department, but that may be able to sort of be our roadside test, like a breathalyzer is.
After the long preamble, I guess really what I’m asking is that perhaps you could provide this committee and myself with a few more details about looking forward to being able to deal with drug-impaired drivers at the roadside, the education that we can roll out to ensure that the people and the drivers of Ontario recognize that driving impaired from drugs is the same as driving impaired from alcohol, and how these new rules might make our roads a little bit safer.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sure. Thanks very much for that question. This did come up, as you know, a little bit yesterday here at committee, but I’m very, very happy to have the chance to speak a little bit more about the importance of that component. Obviously, the legislation, Bill 31, is a very large piece of legislation, very comprehensive, as I’ve mentioned, the consolidation of two former bills that died on the order paper. But this component is one of those items, as you know, that is new; this was not part of the old Bill 173 or the old Bill 34.
As I said yesterday, Ontario remains one of only three jurisdictions in Canada that has no sanction for drug-impaired driving. So we wanted to, through the ministry—I know there’s been discussion about this for quite some time. I felt it was important to move forward to provide some kind of penalty or sanction for those who, unfortunately, would still choose to become drug impaired before driving. I always say this: It’s really important, I think, for all of us to remember that driving in Ontario is not a right, it’s a privilege. One of my fundamental responsibilities, working with the fantastic team at the Ministry of Transportation and all of our road safety partners, is to make sure that our roads remain safe for people who are using them. So as I said, I wanted to include in this legislation something that would ensure that Ontario remained right at the leading edge or at the forefront of what’s taking place. What we’ve done in this legislation is include escalating sanctions for people who, within a five-year time frame, have first, second or third offences with respect to driving under the influence of drugs.
You mentioned statistics in your opening to the question, and I’ve talked about this as well. The numbers are a little bit scary. In 2011, 45% of the individuals involved in vehicle-related collisions that led to deaths had a combination of either alcohol or alcohol and drugs in their systems, so it’s a fairly substantial number. There are some of our road safety partners who talk about the fact that many people in Ontario, particularly younger people, over many years of education, have gotten the message about the dangers of alcohol-impaired driving, but perhaps there hasn’t been the same emphasis placed on drug-impaired driving, and therefore they don’t realize that it’s as dangerous, if not potentially more dangerous because they’re unaware, because there hasn’t been the same robust education—
Mr. Randy Hillier: Chair, point of order.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): What is your point of order, Mr. Hillier?
Mr. Randy Hillier: I’ve not heard any financial question here or anything to do with the estimates whatsoever, except for a bill that was recently introduced and has no bearing on the estimates committee whatsoever.
Mr. Han Dong: Madam Chair, they just talked about border services for like 20 minutes.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Excuse me, Mr. Dong. The questions can be about policy issues as well, and so it is—
Mr. Randy Hillier: That are contained in the estimates.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): That are contained in the estimates.
Mr. Randy Hillier: This is not in the—
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): We’re talking about the administration of the ministry.
It is Mrs. McGarry’s time and we’ll turn it back to her.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you. I might just indicate that as a nurse, I know that any motor vehicle crash has a huge amount of influence on the health care dollars that we spend to tidy up people after a motor vehicle crash. So, indeed, it does cost us as taxpayers to have these crashes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: As I was saying, the statistics are there. They are something that definitely was of great importance to us as the Ministry of Transportation and as a government with respect to making sure that we brought forward these sanctions.
You’re right, in that we don’t currently have in Ontario the technology that would be analogous to the breathalyzer for alcohol-impaired driving. What we see in the legislation is providing police officers across Ontario—those who are trained in something called the standard field sobriety test. There are roughly 1,300 or so women and men in law enforcement across the province who have this specific training.
I’ve had the chance, anecdotally, to speak to officers, for example, from York Regional Police. There was a representative that day at the media announcement before we introduced the legislation who let me know that from what she understands, York Regional Police plans to actually expand the training so that even more officers would have that specific training in the standard field sobriety test.
This legislation would provide, in the short term, those officers who have that training with the ability to make the judgment call at the side of the road if they suspected an individual or had a reasonable belief that an individual was drug-impaired driving to conduct the test, make a determination and then apply a sanction, a licence suspension, at the roadside. That, as I said earlier, would escalate depending on the number of occurrences within a five-year period. There’s also a fourth sanction that’s a little bit more serious that would require yet again a differently trained officer, a DRE, as they’re called, to do some work there.
But this is all at the same time that the Ministry of Transportation is working with the RCMP and working with others so that we can develop and have in place, hopefully in the relatively short term, the technology that would put us—you mentioned other jurisdictions like Australia that have this kind of technology—so that we’d be in a place around drug-impaired driving that would be very similar to the test that we can apply or that we do apply with respect to a breathalyzer.
It’s important that it’s in this legislation. It’s very important, and I was very encouraged to see the number of our road safety partners that were there that day that will help us spread the message. They’ve been doing a lot of great work, as has the ministry, but by including it in the legislation, making it very clear that it’s of significant concern and very dangerous and escalating—the public awareness raising messaging and also including those sanctions—I think we’ve got a healthy mix with respect to how we can improve on the situation.
The work will be ongoing. We’re going to continue to work on the technology itself, but I do want to stress—and I would encourage all members on all sides of the House to keep spreading the message as well to their constituencies. It’s not acceptable to be drug-impaired, to be under the influence of drugs while driving. It’s dangerous not only to the person driving, but to others in the car and others on our roads or on our sidewalks, pedestrians etc. Hopefully we’ll be able to work to pass this legislation as quickly as the process will permit, get it to receive royal assent, get it enacted and provide our law enforcement officers/agencies with another tool to make sure that Ontario’s roads remain as safe as they have been for the last 13 years.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you. As a nurse, I’m all about prevention because I always look at some of the monetary costs of either an illness or a motor vehicle crash or an accident of some kind, and it’s not really just the human cost. It’s really the cost to us as taxpayers in a number of different jurisdictions. Whether it’s the health care field, our justice or our police costs, I think that accidents, motor vehicle crashes, these kinds of things really cost us all as taxpayers, and I do know that road safety is part of that.
Just as a further follow-up, in terms of the education piece—and I know we have a number of different partners that would assist us with that, the CAA and some of the other partners that we have. Just a quick question, really a follow-up about education, which would really prevent some of these tragedies from occurring: Can you give me any more details about a rollout of that kind of program?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sure. We know that we’ve had some tremendous success in Ontario. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a variety of others that have what I would call a very strong brand around communicating about the dangers of being under the influence of alcohol while driving—very, very happy to see that MADD and other organizations, Parachute and law enforcement and CAA who are all there, among others. The Ontario School Bus Association—delighted to hear the great news about the requirement for chrome yellow, which certainly seized the agenda yesterday afternoon here at estimates committee. I’m glad we were able to clear that up. But I know that a number of our road safety partners were very happy to be there to help us spread that message.
The Ministry of Transportation will continue to do the work that’s required, as we always do, around educating the public. But I think it’s important for us to continue to partner with these external organizations to leverage their brand, and for them to leverage our brand as well. I have no doubt that over the next number of months, we will see a robust communications/public relations campaign launched and continue on an ongoing basis to be out there in the public domain to help make sure that people are made aware of the dangers of drug-impaired driving and all the other elements in the legislation: distracted driving, pedestrian safety. There’s so much that’s involved in this process. Cycling: We could do another 10 hours here at estimates on cycling alone. I’d love to be able to talk about how fantastic it is that we’ve included some additional measures around cycling in our legislation.
Ms. Soo Wong: Madam Chair, do we have time for more questions from this side?
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): You have two minutes.
Ms. Soo Wong: Two minutes? Okay, quickly.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Question and answer.
Ms. Soo Wong: Minister, I know that you recently introduced legislation not just focused on drivers but also on pedestrian safety. Can you share with the committee what our government is doing to protect pedestrian safety, particularly on roads and sidewalks? Just before I walked in here this afternoon, a third pedestrian in Scarborough was killed in the same intersection. So your proposed legislation—if you can share that with us, that would be great.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: That’s a great question and obviously a very timely question. It’s certainly tragic news, hearing today about what’s taken place in Scarborough, and whenever there’s a pedestrian who’s unfortunately injured or killed on our roads. The day I spoke about the legislation at the media event, I talked about how the statistics demonstrate that we’ve had some tremendous success around pedestrian safety, that the numbers are looking better today than they have for quite some time. However, there still remain far too many accidents, collisions, occurrences, tragic situations on roads across Ontario involving pedestrians.
This legislation, among a lot of other things, would require that a vehicle wait until a pedestrian has cleared the entire crosswalk before it can proceed across or through that particular intersection or crosswalk, which I think is important. You see some who wait voluntarily until a person has crossed the entire crosswalk, but many will wait until a pedestrian, especially a group of pedestrians, has gotten just beyond their vehicle, and then off they go.
This legislation, through that element and through a number of other components in it, will help provide pedestrians with that extra measure of safety. But it also requires education and awareness-raising. Like the other elements—the drug-impaired driving and distracted driving pieces—we have to make sure the message gets out. If you’re a pedestrian and you’re walking on the roads, you don’t have the protection of all that steel and everything else around you that you may have in a vehicle. So we definitely have additional work to do.
Ms. Soo Wong: Thank you.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): We’re going to move into the last round, and we have a vote in the House at some point, so 16 minutes for each party.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Minister, I’m just going to ask you a couple of brief questions here. First off, Metrolinx falls under regulation 440/09, which compels them to post their expenses online quarterly. For the last year they have not posted any expenses online. Are you aware of that?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Have I specifically looked at the online expense report? I have not, no.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Can you tell me: Are they an agency of your ministry?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: They are.
Mr. Randy Hillier: They are also obligated by the Metrolinx Act, 2006, to table their financial report by July 31 each year. Have you received their financial report for this year?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: We have.
Ms. Carol Layton: It’s being reviewed.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I understand from the deputy that we have and it’s being reviewed.
Mr. Randy Hillier: It’s being reviewed. It’s to be received by July 31 each year, and it is to be tabled with the Legislature within 60 days of your receiving it before July 31. It hasn’t been tabled with the Legislature yet.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sorry. Your question was confusing. You said it needs to be tabled by July 31, but 60 days before it’s been tabled—
Mr. Randy Hillier: Sixty days after. So it ought to have been tabled on September 30. We weren’t in session on the 30th, so that would be the next sessional day, which was October 20. It still hasn’t been tabled. Why have you not met those statutory obligations, and why has Metrolinx not met their statutory obligations under regulation 440/09?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Is the second part the portion relating to its expenses?
Mr. Randy Hillier: Yes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I haven’t checked to see on the website, I guess, or wherever it is that you’re talking about. I will gladly take a look at that, with respect to the tabling of the—
Ms. Carol Layton: They’ve tabled a financial document as well as the annual—they haven’t tabled it yet, but they’ve submitted it to the ministry. I think we received it last week. And so that review is—
Mr. Randy Hillier: It does concern me that they haven’t tabled any expenses for the last calendar year even though they have a statutory obligation to publicly disclose.
I want to just say one more thing on the CVORs that I was going to previously. Minister, I’ve been receiving many, many calls from constituents regarding the CVORs, and it appears that the CVOR threshold has been changing over the years, but there is no mechanism employed by the ministry to identify to people when those changes happen and when their vehicles now become subject to the CVOR regulations. This goes with vehicle weight—different things. I have a number of cases where people have been caught under this new threshold.
My question to you—well, more of a statement—before I put it off to my colleagues is, I’m beginning to have some doubt and some suspicion about just how much oversight there is on your administration after hearing your deputy last week regarding the medical reviews and the DriveABLE and the stories there; the stories on the CVORs; seeing what’s going on here with Metrolinx not being in compliance with their statutory obligations. I think, Minister, it’s time we be a little bit more open, a little bit more transparent and a little bit more diligent about what’s actually going on in your ministry.
With that, I’ll pass it over to my colleague, Laurie Scott, from Haliburton.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Ms. Scott.
Ms. Laurie Scott: I had a couple of questions—if you can’t answer today, it’s okay, just to get the reports back. This is to do with the Brock township part of my area. In 2008 the province started work on—and I’ll give you the names of the bridges—the White’s Creek and Beaverton River bridges along Highway 12. The project involved the widening of the bridges to accommodate a hoped for four-lane expansion. That’s been done—the bridge widening. The question is, when are the projected dates that you’re looking at for the four-laning of Highway 12 and 48?
I believe it was in Planning for the Future—the minister’s southern highways program—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Right.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Oh, okay, so you guys probably know more detail—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: In last year’s version? Do you know the date for the southern Ontario—
Ms. Laurie Scott: I might have it here. Just let me check.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: No date’s been set for the starting of that work.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes. The southern highways program is 2013 to 2017, so it’s got a range.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: That’s what I thought. No date’s been set for the starting of the construction.
Ms. Laurie Scott: So I guess we’re just wondering, is it on the radar screen, is it on some—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: The ministry is aware of that project, but no date’s been set for the commencement of construction.
Ms. Laurie Scott: So can you comment that—everything as in environmental assessments and everything technical is probably done since you already did the four-lane widening of the bridges—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sorry, do you want to know if the environmental assessment work has been completed or—
Ms. Laurie Scott: I’m just asking—including that, but anything technical that needed to be done is probably done because the four-lane widening for the bridges has already occurred. Right? So the rest of the highway, I’m sure, they did it all at the same time—maybe?
Ms. Carol Layton: Can we get back to you on that?
Ms. Laurie Scott: You bet. That’s fine.
Ms. Carol Layton: If it’s in the category of Planning for the Future, which was last year’s plan, then definitely it’s on the radar screen, because you did ask that. By definition it is, if it’s in the category of Planning for the Future. But in terms of the environmental assessment and all that, I just don’t have the update on that specific project.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Okay. How do you guys prioritize projects? Because, obviously, I’ve talked about it. In 2008, the work was started for the bridges. It was talked about for a while. How do you that? Is it a year to year kind of—
Ms. Carol Layton: I could actually—sure, we can bring up Gerry Chaput as well, but I think we certainly prioritize our projects in many areas, whether it’s a new project or an expansion project or a rehabilitation project, it all depends on the category, first, that it falls into. If we’re talking about, for example, an expansion of a bridge or a rehabilitation, you are talking about the condition of the highway and the roadwork, and what has to occur, so maybe Gerry could elaborate on that.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Actually, before you do, if I could say—for example, I was very happy to stand in your colleague’s riding, in the riding of York–Simcoe, not that many days ago to announce the 13-kilometre extension of Highway 404—
Ms. Laurie Scott: Right—we’d like that to go to 48, which was the plan we’d set in place.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sure, but as a York region MPP myself, I know how happy the community was to learn about the fact that in the riding of York–Simcoe, held by one of your colleagues, that we were able to invest that $100 million—very, very crucial—to extend that 13 kilometres north. But to your point about, specifically, what kind of criteria we use, as the deputy said—
Ms. Laurie Scott: I mean, that is all connected. When the minister—if I can—just mentioned that, that’s kind of all connected to open up that part of the riding. Right?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It is, yes.
Ms. Laurie Scott: So originally, before 2003, we were set to expand it to—at some point the plans were in place to expand it to Ravenshoe Road from where it’s extended—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: For 404?
Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: And it is now, right? It’s gone from Green Lane to Ravenshoe.
Ms. Laurie Scott: To Ravenshoe and then to Highway 48. So Highway 48 and Highway 12 run together, and that’s, again, a connector for four-laning to open up that area of the riding just to more traffic and business etc. It’s a good economic stimulus. So that’s where we’re kind of looking for that region.
Gerry, if you don’t take too long in your answer, because I only have a few minutes.
Mr. Gerry Chaput: Sure. In terms of prioritization of our projects, we use asset management principles or basis to determine what projects we would do next. What we look at is if we’re making the right investment at the right place at the right time. So we assess pavements and bridges on their conditions. We have a bridge priority tool that sets out when bridges should be rehabbed, when highways should be resurfaced. A lot of it is based on the type of traffic that’s on the highway, the volume, whether it’s expected to increase, what the condition of the pavement is today and what its life cycle is, so how far along it is in its life cycle.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes, I understand all of that.
Mr. Gerry Chaput: So those are all accumulated. We have pavement management systems and a bridge management system that allow us to select priorities for the rehabilitation projects.
In terms of expansion, again, we look at the development of major corridors. We look at the development of major areas. We do multimodal studies to determine where we think the connection between growth points needs to be. We have planning studies that go on and environmental assessments to select a corridor and then another assessment that goes on after that to select, within that corridor, where the actual route would follow.
In a nutshell, those are how we select our priorities and determine which projects we’re going to do. We also combine projects. We bring bridges up forward sometimes if we can accommodate that within a highway project just to get some economy of scale to avoid disrupting the traffic twice on the same section of highway. Likewise, we can sometimes defer a project so that we can combine or bundle it to get better value for the taxpayer.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Okay. So maybe, Gerry, could I contact you afterwards?
Mr. Gerry Chaput: Absolutely, yes. We can get you—
Ms. Laurie Scott: Just so I don’t take minutes away from the committee.
My other—I’ll just put it on the record and you don’t have to answer now: Is the four-laning of Highway 35, from the 35/115 junction and 35 then comes into the Lindsay and Kawartha Lakes part of the area—it was talked about for a long time. I believe everything technical has been done. Again, it just says Highway 35 on the future planning. So I can talk details with you later, but that’s what I just wanted to ask, because we know the 407 is coming to a certain point, at another point—2020, I think, was the last date—the 407 goes to 35/115. So we’re just kind of looking at the four-laning of 35 to again open up that area of Kawartha Lakes.
Mr. Gerry Chaput: Sure. We’ll have to take that back as well.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Maybe we’ll talk offline, Gerry, to give you more details. Thanks.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Arnott, five and a half minutes.
Mr. Ted Arnott: Thank you, Madam Chair. One of the projects that is aspirational in nature to the constituents of Wellington–Halton Hills is the Highway 6 Morriston bypass. The very day after the provincial election, on June 13, I went into my constituency office and I wrote a letter to the Premier. I said this to her:
“As you know from your tenure as Minister of Transportation, Highway 6 serves as a vital link between the 401 and the Hamilton/Niagara region and the US border. However, drivers travelling this route encounter a severe bottleneck in the community of Morriston, in Puslinch township, just south of the 401. Oftentimes traffic is backed up for kilometres in both directions.
“By constructing the Highway 6 Morriston bypass, this bottleneck would be eliminated, and traffic and goods could flow back and forth from Hamilton to the 401 more” easily and “quickly and safely. There would also be a” huge “positive economic benefit for a large region of the province. There is a huge economic cost related to the current congestion at Morriston.
“As you know, I’ve been raising this issue in the Legislature for years.
“Working with the township of Puslinch and the county of Wellington, I have repeatedly written and spoken to successive Ministers of Transportation urging that the Highway 6 Morriston bypass project be placed on the Ministry of Transportation’s southern highways program, MTO’s five-year plan for new highway construction. I have also raised the issue many times in speeches in the Legislature.
“During the most recent provincial Parliament, after you became Premier,” I said to the Premier, “I introduced a private member’s resolution again calling on the Minister of Transportation to put the Highway 6 Morriston bypass on the ministry’s five-year plan for highway construction. My resolution was the very first item on the order paper, as I tabled it the same day as your government’s throne speech on February 19, 2013.
“This project has been talked about for a generation. It is time for this project to proceed.
“Once more, I urge you to prioritize this project and ensure that it is placed on the Ministry of Transportation’s five-year plan for highway construction.”
Of course, we were called back into session in July, shortly after the election, and I again tabled my private member’s resolution. And I believe—yes, it is the very first item on the Legislature’s order paper at present.
On October 6, a group that has formed, called the Morriston Bypass Coalition, met with many ministry staff, including staff of the Premier. Here are some of the key messages that they wanted to leave with the government:
“Intersected by Highway 6, the village of Morriston” in the township of Puslinch “has become a bottleneck at the centre of a main transportation and trade corridor. The two-lane stretch of road on an otherwise four-lane highway is impeding the movement of people and goods between Wellington county, the GTHA and the US.
“The Morriston bypass project would alleviate ever-worsening traffic issues in the area, saving local businesses and commuters more than $15 million a year today, and more than $30 million per year by 2031.
“Despite the long-acknowledged need for this essential infrastructure by the government, construction of the Morriston bypass project is now decades overdue.
“Businesses have made significant investments in the region on the understanding that the government was moving forward with the Morriston bypass. With every passing year of inaction, the success of those investments, and the jobs they generated, are put in jeopardy.”
They talked about the Tim Hortons Guelph facility employing 500 employees; Maple Leaf’s new 282,000-square-foot distribution centre in Puslinch township; Canada Bread investing in a $100-million plant in Hamilton; Nestle Waters Canada, Canada’s largest bottled-water manufacturer and distributor, 300 employees, with $10-million to $15-million worth of goods annually shipped through Morriston.
And they concluded with: “With their local main street serving double duty as a major transportation artery, local residents in Morriston have legitimate concerns about the safety and well-being of their families.”
Now, I know you’re aware of the need for this project, and I’ve raised it, as you know, many, many times in the Legislature. We have an outstanding group that’s been put together, in response to the request from one of your predecessors, Bob Chiarelli, that the township council go back and put together a group of advocates for this project. They have an outstanding group, representing industry, municipalities, chambers of commerce, and—
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Arnott you have one minute.
Mr. Ted Arnott: And my question is—
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): That’s quite a statement. Question and answer, one minute.
Mr. Ted Arnott: —when will you place this project on the southern highways program, your five-year plan for new construction?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I don’t have much time. I know how passionate you are and how consistent you have been on this issue. You’ve come to talk to me about it; I know you have raised it with others; you’ve sent correspondence. I get all that. I would like to see that document, for whatever it’s worth, after we’re done, because I haven’t personally had a chance to review that one.
Mr. Ted Arnott: Your chief of staff has it.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: That’s fantastic. That’s good. I know how important this is to you and to your community.
As you’re probably aware, the next version of the southern Ontario highways plan has not been released yet. That’ll be forthcoming in the near future. From what I understand, the environmental assessment work is completed. I’m not in a position today to make any formal announcements, but I do understand where you’re coming from. We should keep talking about this. I appreciate your patience on this item.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thank you. Mr. Cimino, 16 minutes.
Mr. Joe Cimino: This question is going to come later on, but this is a good segue again—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Stop using their segues. I’m just teasing you.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Yes, they keep setting me up perfectly. It’s perfect. And maybe Gerry would like to give a comment.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Don’t leave yet, Gerry.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Yes, don’t leave, Gerry.
Talking about bypasses, the southwest bypass in Sudbury: Again, Greater Sudbury doesn’t really have a complete ring road around it, but as you enter Sudbury, as you come from the south and head to the west—we have the southwest bypass—you can exit off into the former town of Walden. Anyhow, we talk about process, and in fact—it must be at least five years now—the environmental studies have been done, the consultant has met with the community several times and looked at various options, and the preferred option was chosen. We’re talking five years ago.
At that time, I remember as a councillor being told—I said, “When is this project going to begin?” “Well, the length of time it takes for us to design it, and five years is the length of time it would take us to complete it. So once we start, it’s five years to complete the project.”
The southwest bypass—I discussed this when we were talking about service levels in terms of winter maintenance. My belief—and it’s my belief; I’m not an engineer, I’m a layperson—is that taking a look at volumes only as a criterion for which roads get plowed first doesn’t make sense, because we have roads like the southwest bypass which have been deemed dangerous through the fact that it was built 30, 40 years ago, probably 40 years ago, two lanes only and very narrow. We have two residential roads and an industrial road, Fielding, that intersects with it, and Southview Drive that intersects with it. It’s the same bypass, by the way: The transports come down Southview and enter the bypass that way. There are countless accidents. We had an off-duty police officer last year. We had a young gentleman coming back from hockey practice this year. It’s a construction that has to happen.
The preferred plan is four-laning, an access road and two flyovers, one on Southview and one over Fielding—so you bypass the bypass. The question is, where are we with that? We heard all these priorities over the last couple of days that I’ve been here. Everybody wants road work done, everybody wants environmental studies begun and everybody wants preferred options done. We’re at that stage with the southwest bypass. Is it on the radar? Where are we?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Between the deputy and Gerry, they can perhaps respond to some of the specifics.
One thing that I forgot to mention in my response to Mr. Arnott, but it’s somewhat consistent with what I should be saying and part of my response to you as well: I think what we’re witnessing here at committee with these last two questions and some of the others is that no doubt, as I’ve said repeatedly, there is an enormous appetite in communities, from the north to the southwest to the east, for significant infrastructure investments. That, at its essence, is exactly why we came forward with a plan to invest $29 billion over the next decade. Up to $14 billion of that will be dedicated to transportation, transit and other crucial infrastructure in parts of Ontario outside of the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
What I’m happy to hear, if anything else—and I’ll ask Gerry or the deputy to speak specifically to your request—is that it seems, somewhat belatedly, particularly from the official opposition, a recognition that we can’t cut our way to growth, that we can’t slash and burn our way to a more prosperous Ontario, that we need to find a way to invest in crucial infrastructure.
I will tell you, in my two years serving as an MPP in this place, but also serving historically or acting as someone who observes Ontario politics fairly closely—as a former staff person in this very building a little bit more than a decade ago—it’s encouraging to hear members of the official opposition actually talk about or demand and request that we provide infrastructure support for communities in their neck of the woods, but also communities across Ontario. I hope this newfound, recently revealed attitude with respect to the official opposition’s desire to see infrastructure investments will find its way onto the floor of the Legislature tomorrow and in days to come, when their interim leader and others and their leadership candidates across this province are fanned out. I hope that they will applaud the fact that we will be investing this $29 billion over the next 10 years.
I know that the third party’s election platform contained some elements for the need for infrastructure investment, but again, going forward, I hope this sort of signals a new direction or a new day for both opposition parties, that they will work closely with us on making sure that we move Ontario forward by building it up.
With that, I’ll ask Gerry to speak a little more specifically.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Gerry, just really quick on the southwest bypass, and then I’ve got a quick question.
Mr. Gerry Chaput: Sure. I’m familiar with the southwest bypass. I used to live in Sault Ste. Marie so I used to travel it a few times.
I don’t have the details on the specifics of the project you’re talking about. I know that the EA has been completed or was approved a few years ago. I also failed to mention, when I talked about prioritization, that we do look at safety. Obviously, safety is a key priority that we try to address or that we do address through our highway improvements.
On the sections of the southwest bypass, you’re correct: We have not yet done the four-laning, but we have implemented other measures. We have done some improvements in terms of the clearing around those intersections. We did some rock removal a few years ago as well. We enhanced some of the signage by either providing oversized or higher-reflective sheeting as well. Those measures have been quite successful in reducing the number of incidents and collisions we’ve had at those locations as well as improving the overall safety of the bypass.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Those are great, and it would take away some negligence on the government’s part in terms of that action has been taken. But we’re looking forward to the whole project being done. I’ll leave it at that.
Mr. Gerry Chaput: And we’re more than happy to continue to monitor the situation.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Thank you.
In terms of the Highway 407 East Act, the proposed legislation, Bill 31—excuse me; my throat’s very scratchy today for some reason. There are two things in there that I read that raise questions. One is, if somebody has unpaid tolls, their plates can be pulled when they re-register or when they go to renew their plates. At present, there’s a notification period that the registrar has to give that person prior to them renewing their plates. This, and correct me if I’m wrong, has been moved from legislative to a regulation, so it could be changed at will, I guess, by the MTO. But my bigger concern is, why is that notification period being removed?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: My understanding is, and the deputy can correct me if I’m wrong—I don’t think I am, though—the notification period is not being removed. What we are doing with that particular item in the legislation is moving to a situation whereby the plate denial opportunity, let’s call it, for failure to pay someone’s toll or someone’s bill after using the 407 east would be consistent in terms of timing with the same period of time that is required or that exists under the 407 ETR.
So, of course, 407 east, the portion that’s currently under construction—there’s phase 1 and phase 2. The 407 east is a project that will remain in public hands. There is no plan by our government to sell or privatize the 407 east, unlike the 407 ETR, the existing highway, which, of course, every Ontarian knows was sold off many, many years ago in a fire sale attempt to prematurely balance a budget back somewhere around 1998 or 1999, to perhaps, some would argue, crassly win a few election seats or ridings in the 1999 election campaign. Having said all of that, the 407 east, the new portion that’s under construction, will be publicly owned. The revenues generated will, of course, flow back to government. We wanted to make sure that the notification period around potential plate denial for having not paid one’s tolls for using the 407 east was aligned or matches the plate denial period, or the notification period, for plate denial on the 407 ETR. So it’s a question of making sure it’s consistent.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Is there a notification period, then?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: On the 407 ETR, I believe it’s 30 days.
Ms. Carol Layton: Absolutely, yes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thirty days?
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes. What happened was that during the reading of the 2013 budget, there were an additional 30 days added, which took it completely out of sync with the 407 ETR. So what you would have—the 407 ETR, the private highway, is about a 108-kilometre highway. The 407 east is a 45-kilometre extension further east, as well as two north-south lanes, the 10 kilometres. So what you would have is, had we not made this, in a sense, a housekeeping amendment, which was brought in by the third party last round, you would have a complete—for somebody who’s driving that stretch of highway, potentially you would have two different, in a sense, administrative regimes then not at all synchronized. So the key thing was to treat that driver on the 407 east exactly as they are on the 407 ETR.
Mr. Joe Cimino: What would the notification period be, then?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I believe it’s 30 days.
Ms. Carol Layton: It’s 30 days.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Thank you.
Ms. Carol Layton: And not make it 60 on one and 30 on the other.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Thank you for that.
Back to the 407 east: In the legislation, there will be a regulation, I guess, that each year the tolls would be increased with CPI. Correct? Does that also allow the freedom to increase beyond CPI?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: My understanding of what’s contained in the legislation is that any increase over and above the CPI would require some kind of public consultation process. If there was a desire or an interest in increasing the tolls beyond inflation, there is a requirement, or would be a requirement, to do public consultation around why we want to exceed CPI with the toll—
Mr. Joe Cimino: What would the public consultation entail? I’m not envisioning public meetings. Is it a mail-out?
Ms. Carol Layton: It could be a posting. We have to talk that through. We have yet to set the tolls, as you can imagine, as well right now. It’s a highway that’s yet to be opened.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Thank you.
Something that’s in the proposed legislation, and I hear a lot from the user groups, cyclist groups in my city, the cyclist union Rainbow Routes—there are really progressive people in the community looking at that transportation as what it is: alternate transportation, besides just recreation, which it also is. So there are some really good things that are in there, hoping to make it safer for cyclists, obviously, across Ontario.
In terms for dooring—somebody opens a door, a cyclist hits the door and gets injured and whatnot, or doesn’t get injured. The way I understand it, it used to be listed, when the police would come and investigate, as a collision, and therefore there would be a method to document the amount of incidents. I understand that that’s not happening now, that it’s not listed as a collision. Is there any appetite to have it listed under the traffic act as a collision again so it’s therefore documented by police services?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: In the legislation around dooring, what we are seeking to do—the legislation, if passed, will increase the sanctions, essentially, for dooring of a cyclist. The fine range will increase and there will be an extra, from what I recall, demerit point, so it will go from currently two demerit points up to three demerit points. It’s an increased penalty around those who were maybe found guilty of, as it is called, dooring. The legislation is focused on increasing the sanction, increasing the fine range, adding in a demerit point so that drivers understand exactly how serious it is and make sure that they’re aware of any cyclists who may be coming down the road before they open their doors.
Mr. Joe Cimino: And how are those documented?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: How are they documented?
Mr. Joe Cimino: Yes. It would be just an interesting fact to know that dooring happens—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I think that’s the kind of information that would normally be kept, I would think, anyway, by law enforcement, which is probably—
Ms. Carol Layton: Actually, we have Teepu here, who was here yesterday and who could possibly address that a little bit more in terms of how that’s documented.
Mr. Joe Cimino: How much time left, Chair?
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Three minutes.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Okay. A really quick answer.
Mr. Teepu Khawja: I’ll try to be quick. This came up a lot in the media as well a couple of summers ago in conversations with the police. What you’re referring to is that right now under the HTA, if any collision results in an injury it needs to be reported. When we hear that the police are no longer tracking it, it’s because when a collision occurs, they have to fill out a collision form. So this isn’t in regulation or legislation. There is a change in the coding in terms of whether or not a collision reporting form would identify dooring per se, but it doesn’t mean police don’t track it. It’s just not tracked through this one vehicle, which is the collision reporting form that MTO receives.
It was raised, for example, by the Toronto Police Services Board, and the chief came back and said that they were able to track it and provide that information; it’s just more manually intensified with the police services. It’s just not tracked through the vehicle collision form that MTO receives for its reporting services, but it doesn’t mean that police don’t track dooring incidents. They’re able to; it’s just through a different type of incident report.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Thank you for that. You just reminded me of the comments that were made to me by several people. It just makes sense that if it was listed as a collision on the form, it would be a lot easier to extract that information. I leave that with you.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Two minutes. You’ve got two minutes left.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Two minutes? The last two questions together, then.
The coroner’s report in 2012 had two recommendations, I guess. One is truck safeguards along tractor trailers—
Ms. Carol Layton: The side guards, yes.
Mr. Joe Cimino: The side guards, correct. So cyclists again, for example, don’t end up under a truck if they get side-swiped. We’ve seen that in our community, unfortunately—a very sad day.
The second part is the suggestion of complete streets. One of the things that I need to say about some of the projects that happen in Sudbury is that they are geared for cars. The groups come out and suggestions are made for cycling infrastructure, either on- or off-road etc., and it seems that we need a little bit more bite to the legislation in looking at complete streets.
So really quick comments—I guess we only have about a minute—for complete streets and the guards.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: With respect to the guards, I understand where you’re coming from and I know that information has been out in the public domain.
Mr. Joe Cimino: But I understand it is expensive.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: There are, from what I understand, from what the ministry understands—I guess I would call it mixed reviews around whether or not they’re completely effective. So we don’t anticipate proceeding with that measure at this particular point in time. It is permissible, of course, for a truck company to provide that extra measure, should they choose.
On the complete streets item, in fact, I’ve had the opportunity to read some media reports in which you’ve talked about this. I represent a community that sits right on the edge of Toronto, and I would say historically, through the more than quarter century that I’ve lived in a suburban Toronto riding, for far too long a lot of our municipal partners—and provincial and other—have contemplated the building of communities in a way that is focused on the car and, historically, hasn’t taken into account active transportation and other opportunities. I think what we’ve seen over the last decade with some of the provincial legislation—the Greenbelt legislation, Places to Grow—and the evolution of those pieces of legislation, many of which are up for review over the next year or two, in addition to the measures that the Ministry of Transportation has brought forward, including some contained in Bill 31, the new legislation, I think you see that it is an evolutionary process. But we are making significant headway, and I’m delighted to know that you’re a staunch advocate—
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thank you, Minister.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —for making sure we have that outcome. Thank you.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Government members, you have 16 minutes. Ms. Kiwala.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: I’m glad the member from Sudbury began to talk about cycling. I would like to pick up that conversation. The Ontario cycling strategy was launched in August of this year, which I’m delighted to see. I do use my bicycle to get to work, and there’s one thing that I’ve noticed since I’ve come back to Toronto after so many years—in fact, 17 years—is that obviously there’s a huge difference between the cycling infrastructure that we had at that time in Toronto and what we have now.
But there’s also a huge variation—in all of our communities, I’m sure—in terms of what we have available. For example, in most areas of Kingston and the Islands now, we’ve moved to some sections of the roadway that we have—a painted section that’s separated out. In some cases, the road has been expanded to accommodate that. In Toronto, I’ve been very impressed to see that in some areas you have posts on the road, and in other areas you actually have a little bit of a curb that delineates the cycling pathway.
What I’m interested in finding out about is if you can provide us with an update on the status of the implementation for the cycle strategy.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thanks very much for that question. That’s a great question.
Over the course of the summer and into the fall, I had the chance to be in two different jurisdictions: one for family vacation time and one because my wife was away on business and I decided to tag along. The first trip took me to San Francisco and the surrounding area and the second trip took me to Barcelona and the surrounding area in Spain. I had the chance to see first-hand exactly how both of those cities, regions, areas deal with some of their active transportation, some of their cycling. As a person who has lived here his entire life, it does kind of open your eyes up to what some of the possibilities are. I know that starting a couple of years ago, there’s been some considerable work done here in Ontario by my predecessor and a number of others in our government.
We are, of course, with Bill 31 moving forward with some additional measures, which will be hopefully passed in the soonest time frame that the legislative process permits, so that we can have, for example, that one-metre rule around cyclists for drivers who are passing, where practical, and we talked just a second ago about the increased penalties for dooring. Even when you take into account items like distracted driving, as important as those are, that also has a positive impact. As more and more people learn, particularly our youngest drivers, about the dangers of distracted driving, more and more of our drivers will hopefully be able to keep their eyes off their smart phones, their BlackBerrys, their iPhones, whatever it is, and on the road, which of course will also enhance road safety for everybody on the road, including cyclists.
You would probably know—in fact, I’m sure you know—that we are specifically, as part of the #CycleON action plan, implementing a $25-million, three-year program which will help support the build out of municipal and provincial cycling infrastructure. Over that three-year span, this program will invest $10 million in municipal cycling infrastructure and $15 million in provincial cycling infrastructure.
It’s interesting, as you were asking your question, I was giving some consideration to some of the recent work that we see right here in this neighbourhood. Just outside of this building itself, on the north side along Wellesley, we see significant infrastructure work taking place to provide cyclists with a specifically designated lane that is physically separated by a curb from the lanes that other vehicles—cars, trucks, buses etc.—will use. That’s a very good example right here on our, let’s call it, northern doorstep in this building, the main legislative building, Queen’s Park, to see evidence of how much of an evolution has already taken place.
You referenced how over the last 17 years or so you’ve seen a difference. In my community, there are organizations and clubs that are popping up all over the place that are talking extensively about public awareness raising around sharing the road, something that our colleague from Burlington is very passionate about, of course, as somebody who helped found and was the original executive director for the organization Share the Road.
So we’re moving in the right direction. We’re playing a bit of catch-up, there’s no doubt about that fact, but this is a very ambitious plan that we have. It’s going to make life better for those who do want to share the road properly. Part of it’s infrastructure and investments, part of it’s legislative and regulatory, and part of it’s also awareness raising. I think we have a comprehensive strategy. Of course, the Premier is very dedicated to making sure this happens. It’s also an important part of my own mandate letter.
I know that my parliamentary assistant, the member from Cambridge sitting beside you, is also going to be working very closely with me and the team at MTO to make sure that we roll out our cycling strategy in the way that will most benefit those on the road.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: That’s great. I really appreciate that, and I will be talking to you both afterwards about hopefully some of the strategies that we can implement in Kingston and the Islands, because there are certainly some areas there that are still in need of attention. Our cyclists, myself included, are very much going to appreciate that.
The other item that I wanted to talk to you about is, at the AMO conference—I wasn’t there; I didn’t have the privilege of attending the bear pit for the first time. I’m sorry about that and I hope to attend that the next time. The Provincial Offences Act with respect to the fines: I know that our mayor of Kingston and the Islands—and I’m sure that the new mayor is going to be talking to me about it, and I know that you’ve had some issues as well in Cambridge. Can you talk to me a little bit about what action you are going to be taking to help municipalities collect the fines? Considering that these fines amount to almost $1 billion, it’s of very large importance to our municipalities. I look forward to learning that.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: That’s also a great question. Of course, in this past year at the AMO conference, the only question that I received—actually, that’s not true; there were two questions. But the one that actually created a tiny bit of buzz in the room was around whether or not we would be reintroducing legislation updating or reforming or enhancing the Provincial Offences Act, because of course Bill 34 died on the order paper when the election was triggered back on May 2.
As I have talked about, Bill 31, the legislation that I introduced last week, is a consolidation of two former pieces of legislation, one being Bill 173 and the other being Bill 34. So the great news for municipalities—and I was delighted to see representation from AMO at the media event we did when we announced the legislation last week—because I know when I said at AMO that we had a plan to reintroduce this legislation in the fall session, in the winter session, there was great deal of encouragement and happiness and applause in the room.
Of course, AMO’s been very, very supportive of the fact that Bill 31 has been introduced. They, like many other road safety partners and others, sincerely hope that all members of this Legislature will work as quickly and as hard as we all can to pass this legislation so that the roughly $1 billion—in fact, from what I understand, the number has now crept up to over $1 billion—that is there in terms of outstanding fines, in many cases stretching back many, many years, that our municipal partners will now have additional tools, including plate denial etc., being able to deal with out-of-province individuals for whom fines haven’t been collected, and being able to deal with, in some cases, vehicle owners who have multiple plates, so it will impact all plates as opposed to individual plates. There are a number of additional tools that we put into that tool box to help our municipal partners collect these outstanding fines, which will go a long way towards helping them, and ultimately will only penalize those who, in the first instance, did something that was a violation of some kind of rule, regulation or law.
So I’m very happy that it’s included in Bill 31, and I sincerely hope that bill will pass and become the law of the land sooner rather than later.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: How much time do we have?
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): You have six minutes left.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: Can you tell me a little bit more about what tools you’ll have to obtain the out-of-province fees?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: This is something that’s come up on more than one occasion. It’s something that I mentioned the day that we did the media event, and that was contained, actually, as one of the recommendations in the Drummond report, the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, which talked about how important it is for municipalities to have the authority to issue notices to what we call out-of-province owners of vehicles involved specifically in red light camera and fail to stop for school bus offences here in the province of Ontario. Up until this point they haven’t had the ability to actually issue those notices.
When our colleague the member from Scarborough–Agincourt asked a question earlier about pedestrian safety, we also see that for those who are failing to stop for school buses, a very, very important consideration when taking into account road safety generally, pedestrian safety specifically, and pedestrian safety for some of the youngest that we have—of course, our school kids—living across the province of Ontario, if you were out of province and you had been found guilty of this kind of violation, municipalities couldn’t necessarily issue the offence notice. But now, under this legislation, once it’s passed, they’ll be able to. It will also help ensure that Ontario courts can accept certified documents from other jurisdictions from the prosecution of what we call owner liability offences and also for parking infractions.
This is all part of the list that not only was recommended in the Drummond report, but we’ve heard loud and clear from our municipal partners about the need to move forward with this. It’s why I’m really happy it is in Bill 31. In the conversations I’ve had informally with members from the opposition parties, I suspect that they will be very happy to stand with us and support this legislation so that we can collectively help our municipal partners collect these outstanding fines.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: Thank you.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Dong. Yes, there’s a few minutes left, maybe four.
Mr. Han Dong: Four minutes? All right.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Just a short story.
Mr. Han Dong: Yes. You know what, Minister? I appreciate the last 10 and a half hours that you’ve spent with us. I really appreciate the time. We’ve had a lot of fun, I believe. You see Randy is smiling and laughing right now.
I just want to take this opportunity and ask you if you could spend the last little bit and just kind of wrap this estimates session and tell us how you feel about the past 10 hours.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thanks very much for that question. I’m really happy to have these two or three minutes to try and wrap up, from my perspective. As my very first opportunity to come before estimates committee as a minister, I’m very happy to have done my very best, I think. I want to thank the deputy and the rest of the team from MTO with respect to trying to provide as much clarity around all of the questions that have been asked by members on all three sides.
I’ve talked extensively about how ambitious our plan is over the next decade. If there’s one thing that gives me a great deal of optimism, aside from the fact that I understand very clearly how dedicated and committed the Premier and all of us are in the government caucus with respect to delivering positive results on transit and transportation infrastructure, on those issues that are so important to so many of our communities, whether we’re from the north, southwest, rural, urban, whatever it is, the east—I understand how committed we are. If there’s one thing I’m really happy about, and I kind of referenced this a little bit earlier today, it’s to hear that not all but many of the questions flowing from members of both opposition parties were in fact questions that very clearly, to me, anyway, made me understand that they also now—in some cases, somewhat belatedly—accept the importance of investing.
We talk about Moving Ontario Forward as the name of our plan, but for us it’s more than just the name of a plan; it’s actually a philosophy. We understand that you need to invest to grow, and if you want the province to move forward, if you want the province to literally be built up, you need to generate those revenues and invest them in a transparent way—not to the detriment of any one particular region, because we do believe, also, in one Ontario, but to make sure that if you’re going to generate $29 billion over a decade for these crucial investments, you split that as evenly as the statistics and the population will permit you to do, and that’s also something that’s very fundamental.
But I’m very happy to hear from a number of the members who’ve been here from both opposition parties that they seem, somewhat belatedly, as I said a second ago, to support the desire for increased infrastructure investments in many of their communities. I said this earlier and not every member was here to hear me say it, but I’ll repeat it now; I think it bears repeating: I hope that this newfound attitude will in fact be infectious for members of the opposition parties, that as we go forward in question period and talking to the media and elsewhere, they will stand with us and say, “We actually understand the importance.” Whether we’re talking about the Morriston bypass or we’re talking about roads like Maley Drive around Sudbury and in Sudbury or any of the other projects, they’ll be standing with us, so that collectively, the 107 women and men who are so privileged to represent their communities in this building will, together, help all of us build Ontario up.
I’m so delighted and so privileged to be serving at this particular juncture in history as Ontario’s Minister of Transportation. I look forward to working with all of you, and I suspect, if I’m still privileged in a year’s time to be back at estimates committee, to talk for another 10 years about all that we have accomplished together.
With that, Chair, I’ll conclude.
Interjection: Ten years? Ten hours.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I meant 10 hours. Sorry. It just felt like 10 years at different moments.
Mr. Ted Arnott: Point of order, Madam Chair: Very briefly, I want to thank the minister. I’d be delighted to welcome him to my riding. Together, we could cut the ribbon on the Morriston bypass project. I’d be absolutely delighted.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Good to know. Thank you.
Mr. Ted Arnott: You asked for documents relating to the proposal. I’m pleased to walk them over to you right now.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Cimino.
Mr. Joe Cimino: Chair, just a point of order or information: When I mentioned the wonderful groups in Sudbury that are working on complete streets strategies, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury, Naomi Grant and Lilly Noble. I just wanted to make sure that was on the record.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thank you.
This concludes the committee’s consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation. Standing order 66(b) requires that the Chair put, without further amendment or debate, every question necessary to dispose of the estimates.
Are the members ready to vote?
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Yes. Okay. All right, shall vote 2701 carry? All in favour? Opposed? It’s carried.
Shall vote 2702 carry? All in favour? Opposed? Carried.
Shall vote 2703 carry? All in favour? Opposed? Carried.
Shall vote 2704 carry? All in favour? Opposed? Carried.
Shall vote 2705 carry? All in favour? Opposed? Carried.
Shall the 2014-15 estimates of the Ministry of Transportation carry? All in favour? Opposed? Carried.
Shall I report the 2014-15 estimates of the Ministry of Transportation to the House? All in favour? Opposed? Carried.
Thank you, everyone. It’s been a blast.
The committee adjourned at 1742.
Wednesday 29 October 2014
Ministry of Transportation E-243
Hon. Steven Del Duca
Ms. Carol Layton
Mr. Gerry Chaput
Mr. Teepu Khawja
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
Chair / Présidente
Ms. Cindy Forster (Welland ND)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente
Miss Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain ND)
Mr. Bas Balkissoon (Scarborough–Rouge River L)
Mr. Chris Ballard (Newmarket–Aurora L)
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry–Prescott–Russell L)
Mr. Han Dong (Trinity–Spadina L)
Ms. Cindy Forster (Welland ND)
Mr. Michael Harris (Kitchener–Conestoga PC)
Mr. Randy Hillier (Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington PC)
Ms. Sophie Kiwala (Kingston and the Islands / Kingston et les Îles L)
Miss Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain ND)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Joe Cimino (Sudbury ND)
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry (Cambridge L)
Ms. Soo Wong (Scarborough–Agincourt L)
Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes
Mr. Ted Arnott (Wellington–Halton Hills PC)
Ms. Laurie Scott (Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock PC)
Clerk / Greffier
Mr. Katch Koch
Staff / Personnel
Mr. Jerry Richmond, research officer,