The House met at 1330.
Mr Kormos: On 8 November, Mark Coons, the president of Coons Heating and Sheet Metal Ltd, sent a letter to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Sorbara) and it warrants reading some excerpts.
Mr Coons indicates that he uses “the services of inspectors from the pressure vessels safety branch of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations on an ongoing basis.” Mr Coons tells the minister and myself he was advised by his industry association, the Mechanical Contractors Association of Ontario, that the ministry is proposing to privatize these services. Mr Coons wishes to clearly convey his objections to such a move.
Mr Coons writes to the minister that he is “in full concurrence with the position taken by” the association “which clearly notes that our industry is prepared to pay the cost of maintaining these services within the ministry and is firmly opposed to having private insurance companies and/or others provide the inspection and testing services currently under the responsibility of the pressure vessels safety brunch.” He notes that “direct conflicts of interest, lowering of product and safety standards and fluctuations in costs that would result from this transfer, far outweigh any advantage.”
Mr Coons, the president of Coons Heating and Sheet Metal Ltd down in Welland knows, like thousands and millions of other people in Ontario do, that privatization is a bad way to go. He knows that what is wrong with it is that it results in substandard service, lack of accountability, waste and inefficiency, loss of jobs and increased tax burdens on communities.
Let’s just hope the government listens to people like Mr Coons.
Mrs Marland: It was with much concern and sadness that I received the news on 15 November that the St Lawrence Starch Co would be phasing out its manufacturing operations in Mississauga. St Lawrence Starch is a private, family-owned company that has been at the heart of Port Credit since 1889, 100 years.
I know from discussions with the company’s owners that it was an extremely difficult decision to close the plant. A circumstance beyond the company’s control, and that is the countervailing duty on imported corn, has made it uncompetitive for St Lawrence Starch to manufacture in Canada.
The company will maintain its corporate offices in Mississauga and will change its focus from manufacturing to sales and distribution. The Port Credit plant will be used in the short run as a distribution facility until a new distribution centre is constructed.
I want the approximately 230 employees who will lose their jobs to know that, as their MPP, I will do everything possible to help them retrain and find new positions.
I have just written a letter to the Minister of Skills Development (Mr Conway) asking him to provide me with advice on what options are available under provincial government assistance programs such as Transitions, which provides older, unemployed workers with access to training. I will also co-ordinate my efforts with those of my counterpart in the federal government, Don Blenkarn, MP for Mississauga South. Finally, I want to offer my sincere condolences to both the workers who are losing their jobs and to the St Lawrence Starch Company which had to make this difficult decision.
SERVICES EN FRANÇAIS / FRENCH-LANGUAGE SERVICES
M. Grandmaître: Cette fin de semaine était une occasion de réjouissance pour les francophones de la province de l’Ontario. En effet, on célébrait l’entrée en vigueur de la Loi sur les services en français, trois ans après avoir voté, dans cette même Chambre, son adoption à l’unanimité. Après le rassemblement de l’Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario, il y a eu le Grand Gala, la tournée de l’Association des centres culturels de l’Ontario, et j’en passe ; partout on célébrait. L’Ontario, par cette Loi, reconnaît le droit des francophones a des services gouvernementaux dans leur langue, là où ils se trouvent en grand nombre.
En ces mois si cruciaux, alors que se jouera l’avenir de notre pays, je suis fier de notre province, qui respecte les droits de ses minorités francophones, non seulement en offrant des services en français mais en légiférant. Je rends hommage aux Franco-Ontariens et aux Franco-Ontariennes qui ont travaillé avec acharnement au développement des services en français. Je suis heureux d’être justement le député d’une de ces circonscriptions où les francophones sont nombreux et convaincus que chez nous, le français, on s’en sert.
This weekend, the rights established under the French Language Services Act came into effect. It was a weekend of celebrations. Thanks to the co-operation of everyone, Ontario takes pride in being the leader in francophone rights. May we all work together in harmony at improving these services to our francophone community in a true expression of the spirit of Canadianism.
PROPOSED HOSPITAL MERGER
Mr Reville: I have in my hand, as we often say in this place, a document that starts off by posing this question: “Did you know that Women’s College Hospital has approved the establishment of a joint board of directors with the Toronto Hospitals (Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital)?” Of course, the answer I would give is yes, I do know that, because over these many months my office and other offices of my colleagues have been receiving concerned calls from the many constituencies around the Women’s College Hospital, a hospital which was designed for a particular purpose and which has in fact delivered on its promises to its constituency over many years.
The paper that I refer to is a flyer advertising a public meeting for Wednesday 22 November at which the key players will be asked to discuss the rationale and the details of this merger. Members would probably think that this meeting was being put on by the Ministry of Health, which is in charge of public hospitals in the province, but if members thought that they would be wrong, because this is a meeting put on by the local board of health and the city of Toronto, not by the Ministry of Health. I think it is shocking that the Ministry of Health has allowed these concerns to develop without taking charge, without giving us details and without publishing a review.
Mr Harris: Developers, municipalities and housing officials have repeatedly identified taxes, red tape, bureaucratic delays and the cost of servicing land as the main obstacles to affordable housing in Ontario today. It is difficult to understand, then, why this government insists on adding to each of these burdens with the imposition of a lot levy charge on new housing. There is no doubt this new Liberal tax will add significantly to the cost of housing in this province.
When I first exposed their plans earlier in the year, the Peterson Liberals admitted they had not conducted any impact studies. Industry estimates pegged the cost at $5,000 to $10,000. The assertion of the Premier (Mr Peterson) that builders might eat these costs indicated they had not even considered the implications. The legislation the Peterson Liberals will pass this week is even worse than originally proposed. Not only do they want louse development charges for schools, but now they want to expand the list to include everything from fire trucks to coffee machines.
In the meantime, the Liberals have cut capital education funding from 75 to 60 per cent. They have frozen municipal payments. They have mandated all kinds of municipal and educational services without funding, so even with lot levies we are no further ahead. They are not impressed at Ricci’s Corners.
It all adds up to a massive transfer of the financial burden for essential provincial services on to the backs of home owners. One new estimate is up to $20,000 per lot: it could be higher. So much for the promise by the Premier to make housing more affordable.
Mrs E. J. Smith: It is with pleasure and pride that I rise today in order to congratulate the University of Western Ontario Mustangs for their spectacular Vanier Cup win in Toronto last Saturday. Before more than 30,000 spectators, many of whom were University of Western Ontario alumni or people visiting Toronto from London, they proudly won the 25th-anniversary cup of this big event.
Other Ontario teams, such as the team from Guelph, aspired to bring this honour to our province, but Saturday’s decisive 35-to-10 victory proved that London’s Mustangs were the appropriate people to do so.
Teddy Roosevelt once said that in life as well as in football, you should hit the line hard. The University of Western Ontario did and proved how well they could do it.
I am sure the House, including the member for Guelph (Mr Ferraro), joins me in congratulating the University of Western Ontario Mustangs and their coach, Larry Haylor, for their spectacular win.
Mr Hampton: Often we read of tragedies such as earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes happening in other countries and other places. They seem so far from home, but tragedies also happen in Ontario. Let me give members an example that happens in northern Ontario too often.
Within the last year, the northwestern Ontario community of Ignace has experienced suicide rates in epidemic proportions. Since 5 December last year, five young people have taken their lives and two have failed in attempts to take their lives. All of this comes from a community of only 2,000 people.
It is imperative that steps be taken to reverse this tragic trend. The Minister of Northern Development (Mr Fontaine) has instructed north-ern development councils to study the problems of youth in northern Ontario. I would suggest that maybe he should have the northern development councils look very carefully at the community of lgnace.
The Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Beer) will say that a variety of support networks have been established in the north. However, it must be obvious that some-thing is very seriously wrong when a community of this size has this rate of suicide.
People in the community of lgnace are asking for a crisis line to be established to help individuals in a state of despair. Concerned individuals want training in crisis intervention. I hope both ministers will listen.
Mr Pollock: Last spring I presented the root and stalk of a dead apple tree to the then Minister of Natural Resources. The reason for this presentation was to make the minister aware of the damage being done to apple orchards by deer in Prince Edward county and across the province.
In areas where deer populations are excessive, deer not only feed on the buds and leaves, but bucks break the branches off of seedling apple trees with their horns. The cost of setting up a new apple orchard runs in the neighbourhood of $10,000 an acre. Not only is there a problem with the seedling apple trees, but also there have been numerous motor vehicle accidents involving deer.
I am pleased to know that my lobbying has achieved some results because there is going to be a controlled deer hunt in December in Prince Edward county. Let us hope this will bring the deer population into perspective.
There is a report of overpopulation of deer in the Peterborough crown game preserve as well. I believe that it is recommended by the ministry officials in Bancroft that there be a controlled hunt in that area also.
Let us hope the Minister of Natural Resources (Mrs McLeod) will look into this before the next hunting season and take the necessary steps to resolve these concerns.
FAMILIES AGAINST A TOXIC ENVIRONMENT
Miss Nicholas: FATE, Families Against a Toxic Environment, is a neighbourhood action group founded by two mothers in Scarborough Centre. Nancy Angevine-Sands and Karin Fox perceived a need to inform their friends and neighbours of the dangers of pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables in general, and in particular on apples, which our children consume in great volume.
When discovering that acceptable levels of pesticide residue on foods sold in Canada are based on adult consumption patterns and adult physiology, they became aware that they may be harming their own children by the very food they feed them due to the much larger volumes of fruit and vegetables that a child consumes in comparison to an adult.
Over the past six months, the group has grown and on 14 October, FATE held its first community awareness event. Many people attended. They raised $1,200 and a substantial mailing list was created.
FATE wants to encourage local grocers to stock organic produce and to discourage chemical lawn spraying. In the long-term, they seek to have pesticide usage reduced.
FATE’s actions already demonstrate that a small neighbourhood group can make a difference, that each and every one of us can do something to improve the environment. I congratulate them for their efforts and hope that they continue to be successful with their actions.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for members’ statements.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr Black: Illegal use of drugs in our province is a serious problem, one that defies easy answers or quick solutions and one that cannot be solved in the short term or by government alone.
This is Drug Awareness Week, which started 19 November and continues to 26 November. This special week is dedicated to the issue of drug abuse and is an ideal time for me to announce Ontario’s comprehensive anti-drug strategy to reduce the illegal use of drugs and to achieve healthy and safe communities.
Illegal use of drugs affects all ages, income brackets and neighbourhoods. The senseless waste of human life, the strain on individuals and families, the rising costs for health care and law enforcement, the reduced industrial efficiency and the escalation of related crime and violence in our neighbourhoods are just a few of the results of drug abuse.
The problem of drug abuse demands a comprehensive approach that builds upon the involvement and commitment of all sectors of the community. Everyone in Ontario -- our teachers, our religious leaders, our police, our corporate leaders, our front-line health and social workers, our media and our youth -- has a vital role to play if we are to have any impact and change the behaviour of Ontario society.
Today to reinforce this government’s commitment to help communities rally collectively to reduce the illegal use of drugs, l am unveiling the first step of a community strategy, a community-based anti-drug strategy, to deal with the issues and reduce the problem where it originates and where it can best be handled.
Members will recall that in the speech from the throne in April of this year, the government announced a commitment to introduce a comprehensive anti-drug strategy involving three elements: the introduction of education and prevention programs, a wider range of treatment programs, and an expansion of Ontario’s drug enforcement capacity.
Within this framework, there is a central underlying principle which forms the foundation of the government’s anti-drug strategy. This fundamental principle is an emphasis on prevention achieved through education, counselling, and most importantly, the active involvement of all sectors of the local community.
Over the next two years, the government will spend $9.2 million to work with communities to reduce the illegal use of drugs in three ways: first, by providing assistance with planning, operating and evaluating local solutions in several test sites: second, by providing grants to help organize and carry out community prevention and promotion projects, and finally, by providing training and technical support.
The government will begin by joining with communities to identify several locations that are considered particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of illegal drug use. These focused communities will be selected as pilot test projects to work in collaboration with the government to reduce the incidence and impact of drug abuse on the local front.
Once focused communities have been select-ed, the government will provide concentrated support to aid En organization and planning for action. Working together, local community members at the pilot test sites will help identify areas of vulnerability, evaluate existing support programs, and develop solutions that are reflective of the special needs and circumstances of each community.
To support local solutions in these pilot sites, the government has allocated $4.5 million over the next two years for the planning, operation and evaluation of local solutions through this innovative program. The ongoing funding needed to operate these projects will be approved on a community-by-community basis.
While these solutions will vary according to the distinct problems and personality of each community, emphasis will be given to primary prevention and early intervention programs, including community-based self-help support groups, Street programs to reach high-risk youth and specific prevention education initiatives.
The second part of the $9.2 million will establish the community grants program to help all communities work together to strengthen their capacity to address problems at the local level and to develop unique solutions. Beginning this January, a total of $3 million has been allocated to support the community grants program. These onetime grants will be provided by the government for projects that demonstrate initiative and innovation and focus on prevention.
For communities that want additional planning and technical training to reduce the illegal use of drugs, the government has allocated a $1.7-million two-year fund. Community coalition groups from across the province will have access to this support, primarily to train community groups to understand the issues of illegal drug use and to help them plan innovative activities to minimize the problem.
This three-faceted approach, combined with the evaluation of various community approaches, will help Ontario identify what does and what does not work. This guidance is vital, since limited research exists and little evaluation has been done to help us maintain healthy communities.
To help ensure the success of these components, the government has established the Provincial Anti-Drug Secretariat. The secretariat will play a vital role in co-ordinating, strengthening and supporting our communities to address the problem of illegal drug use at all levels of community life. Equally important, it will co-ordinate interministerial initiatives, policy development, the allocation of resources and program evaluation.
In addition, the Ministry of Health under the leadership of my colleague the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) has developed guidelines for the funding and formation of community action groups. Community action groups will be grass-roots organizations composed of a variety of community members, which may include parents, youth, police officers, educators and health and social service providers. They will work to initiate drug awareness in education programs.
Over the next three years, $1.2 million will be spent to support community action groups. These groups will be developed in co-operation with district health councils to plan and operate local prevention projects. Based on the recommendations from the health councils, the Ministry of Health will provide assistance for projects that encourage healthy lifestyles through parent education and public awareness and promote the non-use of illicit drugs and the responsible use of legal substances. Grants of up to $10,000 each will assist community action groups in planning and carrying out projects to address the prevention of addiction.
This government believes that drug education must be an important element in our strategy. Drug education addresses the urgent need to change public attitudes about drugs and to present alternatives by promoting healthy life-styles. My colleague the Minister of Education (Mr Conway) will elaborate on the role education continues to play through activities aimed at increasing knowledge, changing attitudes and supporting positive behaviour.
Treatment and rehabilitation are also important to our strategy. Working together with our communities, we will continue to promote and support a wide range of comprehensive intervention, counselling and treatment programs for residents by building on our existing systems. This support is necessary to help individuals and families reduce the physical and social impact of illegal drug use and prevent its recurrence.
One area where such programs are particularly important is the workplace. Some employers have established employee assistance programs to deal with drug abuse and other personal problems. Today. I am announcing an allocation of $85,000 to support an advisory group com-prised of representatives from the labour and management communities to examine what is being done and to find creative ways to fill the gaps. The advisory groups will report back to my colleague the Minister of Labour (Mr Phillips) during the winter of 1990.
The community action groups and the work-place advisory committee are just two examples of the new partnerships that are being forged to successfully address the serious problems of illegal drug use. The government cannot and should not operate in isolation. The solution lies in a partnership, the collective efforts of government, other key stakeholders and communities across the province.
In order for us to keep our streets and schools safe from illegal drugs, we must continue to ensure sound and effective law enforcement practices. My colleague the Solicitor General (Mr Offer) will be providing more details on how we intend to strengthen our existing drug enforcement program.
The strategy I am introducing today represents the first of many steps to be taken as part of the government’s overall commitment of $37 mil-lion to reduce illegal use of drugs in Ontario. Over the next few months, we will continue to build on what we learn. The strategy’s emphasis on the promotion of healthy living is another reflection of the vision of the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy. I believe this strategy will contribute to the achievement of healthy life-styles. quality health care and safe and secure communities.
The success of our strategy is dependent on time, public awareness and the concerted efforts of every person in Ontario. Together we can harness and mobilize our energies to give new vitality to the struggle against the illegal use of drugs. There is much work to be done. By working together and with the leadership of this government, we can make significant progress towards realizing the goal of healthy communities by minimizing the illegal use of drugs in Ontario.
The strategy represents a first stage, a new beginning, that builds on our existing programs to protect the future of all Ontarians.
Hon Mr Offer: As my honourable colleague has emphasized in his statement to the House, the tragic problem of the illegal use of drugs is complex and multifaceted. It is a problem that threatens the social and economic wellbeing of our citizens and communities. It is a problem that presents major challenges to all of us.
Furthermore, the problem is one that demands action on several fronts. As the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay, the minister responsible for the provincial anti-drug strategy has clearly stated, any effective long-term strategy must include initiatives that will drastically reduce the demand for illegal substances. This is the ultimate objective of all members of this government. The member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay has already informed you of some of the initiatives that will be taken by other ministries to reduce demand.
Let me assure members of the House that my ministry is also engaged in efforts to reduce demand through drug awareness and education.
The Ontario Provincial Police has assigned 139 officers to community relations. All of them provide drug education in the schools. Last year, our officers took this program to approximately 650 schools in Ontario. We anticipate that they will reach nearly 29,000 students by the end of this academic year.
In addition, we are taking steps to raise the level of drug awareness among police personnel. Last year, about 2,500 peace officers were enrolled in courses at the police college and another 166 OPP personnel took similar courses at the OPP academy. We will continue these efforts.
At the same time, we must be realistic and acknowledge that reducing the demand for drugs will not be achieved overnight. We must continue to commit resources to reducing the supply of illegal drugs as well as the serious level of other criminal activity that is associated with drug trafficking.
Recognizing the serious impact of illegal drug use, the OPP set up a special drug enforcement unit in 1973. The focus of this unit is to provide expert assistance in drug-related investigations to OPP detachments and to 119 municipal police forces throughout the province.
Today, I am pleased to announce the addition of 32 officers and four civilian support staff to the OPP. Fourteen of the new officers will be assigned to existing drug units, eight to the Toronto unit and two will be assigned to the units in London, Kingston, and North Bay. Another 18 officers will be assigned to new permanent units. The new units will be located in Thunder Bay with an additional two permanent officers; Sault Ste Marie with four new officers; and Windsor and Ottawa, each with six new officers. This expansion will allow the Ontario Provincial Police to intensify its drug enforcement efforts. It will mean an enhanced ability to stem the flow of illicit drugs into our province.
In summary, I believe this expansion will contribute greatly to the government’s anti-drug strategy and maintain Ontario as a safe and secure place to live.
Hon Mr Conway: I would like to join my colleagues the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay and the Solicitor General in indicating and outlining the Ministry of Education’s initiative in this important area.
The schools of Ontario have a crucial role to play in the province’s anti-drug strategy. Drug education, which is now mandatory in grades 4 to 10, must help students acquire both knowledge about drugs and the values and skills they need to use this knowledge. I am pleased to announce today that school boards will also be required to offer drug education in grades 1 through 3, beginning no later than September 1991. The purpose of drug education in these grades will be to help children develop a basic understanding of healthy practices and healthy living.
Effective drug education, of course, requires more than a commitment to action by our schools. It also requires the building of local partnerships between these schools and the communities they serve, and the participation of parents, health and social service agencies and the police.
The Ministry of Education has therefore undertaken a number of initiatives to support and strengthen local action against drugs.
These initiatives complement the province’s two-year $5.2-million teacher training program for drug education. This program will provide teachers with the expertise and guidance required to respond to the sensitive issue of drug abuse. All school boards that establish ministry-approved teacher training plans for drug education will receive funding. Each school board’s training plan will focus on preparing teachers and administrators to help students make the right choices about drugs.
The Ministry of Education has also strongly encouraged all school boards to develop a drug education policy at the local level. Earlier this year an advisory committee chaired by Karl Kinzinger, former director of education for the North York Board of Education, was given the task of creating a policy framework to guide school boards in the development of such a policy.
The advisory committee includes representatives from teachers’ organizations, trustees’ and supervisory officers’ organizations, home and school associations, the Addiction Research Foundation and the Ontario Provincial Police. It is expected this report will be made available to school boards by spring of next year.
The ministry is also helping educators access important information materials for drug education, which are being developed by concerned agencies and organizations across the province. The ministry will distribute the ARF Drug Education Resources Directory, prepared of course by the Addiction Research Foundation, to the public and separate schools of Ontario early in December. The directory lists films, video-tapes, books, pamphlets and other printed material that may be used to teach students about drugs. It consists of six parts: resources for each of the primary, junior, intermediate and senior levels, films and videotapes for all grades and French-language resources for all grades.
In co-operation with another partner in drug education, the Ontario Federation of Student Athletic Associations, the ministry will distribute a pamphlet on performance enhancing drugs, such as steroids, to school boards in the new year.
In addition, the ministry is preparing a guide to teaching materials specifically for grades 4 through 6. It is expected this guide will be available in January of next year.
The Ministry of Education will continue to work with its partners in education to ensure that our young people approach the issue of drug abuse with a sense of personal and social responsibility. The measures I have outlined here will strengthen our common front against drugs and will encourage the local action that is the keystone of any effective anti-drug strategy.
Mr Reville: I would like to respond to all three ministerial statements today on behalf of the New Democratic Party. I want to say at the outset that I am extremely disappointed that this is the best the Liberal government can come up with.
There is no question that in order to deal with illegal drug use you must have education programs, prevention programs, treatment programs and enforcement programs. Basically, what we have here is not enough of any of those things and a lot of public relations. Basically, what is contemplated by the strategy outlined by the government’s drug czar is a lot of local action committees which will do a good job, I think, of informing people who are unlikely to abuse drugs that there is a drug problem.
What is not clear at all and does not appear to be present in the strategy outlined by the government today is a realization that the treatment programs in Ontario and the network of services that deal with people who are addicted to drugs is woefully inadequate and, in spite of the efforts of those who work on the front lines, is a ramshackle hodgepodge of several hundred programs, many of which are chronically under-funded, many of which have to operate on less than $30 per day per person and many of which the users will describe as absolutely inadequate.
At the end of the program when they are dried out, they go out and get some more drugs again because in fact nothing has been done to provide healthy alternatives for people in the province.
That is why we should have heard today from the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) as well and from the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Beer) about why it is people do drugs and sell drugs. A lot of that has to do with despair and poverty, and I suggest those important issues are skipped over in this report.
I congratulate the government on moving somewhat from the enforcement approach that is more common south of the border, where people are told to say no and are then arrested when they say yes, but we did not hear today from the Attorney General (Mr Scott), perhaps because he had nothing to say about what is missing on the enforcement side.
We have plenty of cops out there looking for drug offences and we have no judges to listen to the story about the accused persons. Every day, we see accused persons walking away, or as my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) would put it more properly, driving away from the courthouse because the judicial system cannot react to the overcrowding it faces.
I have had an opportunity to speak with the alcohol and drug addiction workers of the province, who are in desperate need to be involved in the process that has been described today, and who are of course being ignored because that is the typical way to do these things.
I think the other thing that has lobe recognized as a societal problem is that the biggest pushers of drugs in this province, across this country and in North America are physicians who write out prescriptions. We wait and wait to hear what the Lowy commission has to say about the fact that it is accepted in our society to take a pill for what ails you. There are a lot of things that ail us and will continue to ail us as we try and find a government that will help us cope with the changes that are facing our society every day.
It has not been mentioned, and it has to be mentioned, that the most serious drug problem in the province, in Canada, in the United States, in the western world is alcohol. There is more lost time from work, more sickness and more death from the abuse of alcohol than from all the drugs combined.
Perhaps it is because we as legislators are accustomed to taking the odd drink after a tough meeting that we will not pinpoint alcohol as the real problem. It is much more attractive to go after some scurvy drug pusher stereotype we have created, when often that stereotype is a person who does not have another alternative and when often the user is a person who started off for a lark and got stuck some place where he sure as hell wishes he was not.
Until this government realizes all those facts, all this is just another mess of paper.
Mr Harris: I have a few things to say as well about all the statements that were made today.
For the amount of time this government has had, for the size of the problem and for the amount of information that has been made available to this government, the announcement today is an absolute embarrassment. It is embarrassing to this House and it is embarrassing to the people of this province when we think that the government has had this report for over a year and a half and has had the information, even without the report, for many years. This is the first time we have heard anything from this government by way of response.
We are talking about $12 billion of drug profits in this province alone and we are talking, according to the Addiction Research Foundation, about social costs alone to Ontario of $9 billion per year, and the minister is talking about a $37-million program, maybe, over two, three or four years. A quick addition as I looked at his programs identified $22 million, so I am assuming that $15 million of the $37 million is to set up this drug secretariat.
I find it ironic, as with so many areas this government has been involved in. that the largest single ticket item, $15 million, appears to be for the centrepiece of this program. to hire a whole whack of new civil servants for another layer of bureaucracy, another secretariat. That seems to be the centrepiece of this whole program that the minister has announced today. The Metropolitan Toronto Police Force, in spite of the fact this government has sloughed courtroom security on to them, in spite of the additional costs this government has put on the municipality, on their own went ahead immediately and hired 97 new officers. The minister is talking about hiring some 30.
Second, the minister is not giving any support services to those officers. The Solicitor General (Mr Offer) will know that without the support services to go along with the officers, it is meaningless to put more officers out on the street.
As my colleague from the New Democratic Party has mentioned, there is nothing in the way of support for reducing the court backlog. Just recently, we recall, in Peel three were set free, three who were charged with drug offences. because they had not been able to be brought to court for over a two-year period. What is the point in charging more if the court system is going to whip them out faster than you can lay the charges and let them go free because of the lack of facilities from the Attorney General (Mr Scott)?
There is no money for the Ministry of Correctional Services. Can members imagine? We had correction officers on strike just within the last month because jails are overcrowded, their facilities are overcrowded because of the increase in the numbers of drug charges. Today we have no announcement, nothing for support for Correctional Services. We have nothing in the way of rehabilitation for those who have been through the system, who do not get set free, who actually get brought to justice and actually get sentenced.
Finally, not only is there nothing in the way of speeding up the court system, but there is nothing in the way of deterrent. There is little or no deterrent for the drug crimes, for those crimes associated with drugs. When you talk to the people who have been involved, talk to the counsellors, they know they have got two or three cracks before they ever have to go to jail. There is no deterrent to begin experimenting with drugs. There is no deterrent to rob the corner store to get the money to do it. We do not get to these young people nearly soon enough. The minister is not providing any of those resources that should be provided there.
This is a government that has no money to solve the real problems, and now, as in so many other areas, we see the centrepiece of its program, a new bureaucracy. $15 million for civil servants instead of putting the money where it will do some good.
The Speaker: That completes ministerial statements and responses.
Mr B. Rae: In the absence of the Premier (Mr Peterson), I have a question for the Deputy Premier and the Treasurer of the province. The years since 1987 are beginning more and more to look like wasted years as we head now into what appears to be a time of much slower growth. Some economists are even talking about a recession. We have had much news in the last while of plant closures, of workers being laid off.
I wonder if the Treasurer can explain why in the years of expansion and prosperity which we have had since 1985, why since 1987, since the Liberals got the largest majority in Ontario history, we have had no action yet on pensions. we have had no action yet on plant closures, we have had no action yet on training and retraining, we have had no action on those critical areas which will allow workers to cope with the extraordinary change which everyone in this room knows are coming down the pipe.
Hon R. F. Nixon: It is true that in the last six years we have had real growth averaging six per cent, but we have to understand that is based on a very low level of growth back in the 1980-82 period of the decade. It is also true, as the honourable member was making an allusion to. that real growth now is expected to be about 2.8 per cent, although I see the Conference Board of Canada is projecting for Ontario 2.9 per cent the year we are presently in and expecting a reduction of growth next year to about two per cent. I do not think people should construe that as some sort of catastrophic projection. It is real growth and, to use the current parlance, we consider it sustainable.
Mr B. Rae: Like a cloud no larger than a man’s hand, we just now have the figures in terms of automobile sales in the first 10 days and two weeks of November. We face 25 per cent less in this period than last year.
I can point the Treasurer to the signs in the American economy, the growing consensus among American economists that we are headed into times, we may even be headed into quarters in early 1990. where there is going to be actual reduction in the level of economic activity. We are talking about a possible recession.
The question I have for the Treasurer, and he may disagree with those assessments or he may agree, but I can tell him, if you talk to workers in the furniture business who are losing their jobs –
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr B. Rae: -- if you talk to the workers at St Lawrence Starch who are losing their jobs, they know what is happening out there.
I want to ask the Treasurer, why has this government taken no steps since 1987 in terms of the law on employment standards, the law on plant closures, on labour relations, on pensions, anything that would provide them with some protection –
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr B. Rae: -- as they head into this period of change? Nothing has happened at all.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member would certainly be aware that we are spending, on average, $100 million a year to improve the competitive position of the workforce of this province, which must compete with other nations and other working groups around the world. Everyone who has any knowledge of this matter has come to the conclusion that the Premier’s Council, which is directing this special expenditure, is doing good work on behalf of all of us who work in this province.
It is true that the rate of real growth is coming down, and it is coming down rather rapidly, and that I hear economists talking about whether or not we are going to have a soft landing. But frankly, I do not share the honourable member’s dark view of the future. We feel in this province that our levels of unemployment right now are, if not at a historic low, as low as they have been in the last 15 years and lower than in any other jurisdiction. I would say that may not be good enough in the honourable member’s view, but we have made very careful plans for seeing that our workforce remains competitive in the future.
Mr B. Rae: There is no greater optimist about life in general than I when it comes to looking at the future. But what I am asking the Treasurer is, how can he justify those wasted years since 1987? Any wise, prudent administration would have spent the time -- the good years -- in building the programs that will allow workers to go through times that are not going lobe as good. If we believe what the Premier said about free trade and what would happen with free trade, the minister knows the impact it is going to have on workers. It has had it already at lnglis, it has had it at Burlington Carpet, it has had it at Collingwood. it has had it at St Lawrence Starch –
The Speaker: The question?
Mr B. Rae: -- and the companies add up every day. That is reality. That is the reality that is staring him in the face. Why has the Treasurer been wasting time since 1987? Why have the years since 1987 been wasted when it comes to building up those programs?
The Speaker: Order.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I do not feel that the time has been wasted and I believe that the thoughtful electorate in this province believes that it has not been wasted. We have in fact concentrated our efforts towards the improvement of our education system at all levels, at the very earliest levels and also at the post-secondary level. We have improved the infrastructure that makes this a competitive place in which world capital wants to locate. We feel that the record stands by itself. Far from being wasted years, we have experienced the greatest real growth in our economy of any time in our history.
Mr B. Rae: That is the point. That is when you do these things. That is when you plan these things.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Are we at a new question? Is this the coda?
Mr B. Rae: Yes, we are. Mr Speaker, I have a new question.
The Speaker: To which minister?
Mr B. Rae: For the same individual, Mr Speaker.
GOODS AND SERVICES TAX
Mr B. Rae: I want to try to get a handle on exactly what the Treasurer’s position is on the sales tax, because I have tried for a couple of days here, and I want to keep on endeavouring, to explore the depths of the Treasurer’s position on the goods and services tax. These are some headlines from the Toronto Star, which is a normally reliable journal with respect to the opinion of the Liberal Party.
On 15 January 1989, it says. “Ontario Likely to Roll Sales Tax into National Plan, Nixon Says.” Here is the Toronto Star, 1 November 1988. “Nixon Admits Liking Tory Sales Tax Plan.” Here is the Toronto Star for 27 May 1988, “Nixon Sees Merit in Wilson Plan to Introduce the National Sales Tax.”
The Treasurer has talked a great deal about the desirability of amalgamating the two sales taxes, Ontario’s sales tax and the projected GST. I wonder if the Treasurer can tell us what precisely is his position. Is he in favour of amalgamating the two plans eventually, one day, or is he opposed to the notion of there being an amalgamated. one-clobber tax for the Ontario consumer?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member knows that we are going to have a chance to review this in more detail at an early date because of the initiative of his budget critic, whom we could do without, but the discussion will be a very useful one. The honourable member knows the position of the government. We find the tax, in its present plan, unacceptable.
Mr B. Rae: That is not what I asked.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Nixon wants it lowered by one or two points.
Mr B. Rae: The Treasurer wants it lowered by a couple of points or some little fiddle here on the side or a little thing on this side. What is it?
My question for the Treasurer is this: He has stated this on a number of occasions, going back to 1988, going back to 1989 and again just last week in the Globe and Mail, in a headline from the Globe. Outside the House, when I asked a question on Wednesday on the sales tax, he came out and told the Globe and Mail that he was in favour of an amalgamated tax. Is he in favour of an amalgamated tax or is he opposed to an amalgamated tax?
Hon R. F. Nixon: Frankly, we have no consideration for amalgamating with any tax. We hope there will not be a new federal tax in the present form.
However, we are concerned at the level of the federal debt. The honourable member will know that, even though the projections from the last budget federally were for reductions in this debt, we now find, on the basis of most recent reports, that their deficit is going to go up. They have got to do something to set their house in order, the way frankly that we have here.
The honourable member, joined by the leader of the third party who has finally come in from lunch, has been indicating that we are spending too much money and they want us to reduce taxes, except that in their individual questions they are always urging us to spend more money and to pay for it some other way.
We have a pay-as-you-go policy. We have regularly reduced our deficit until it is now to the point that five days’ revenue would pay it off. We think that is very commendable and we expect the honourable member to commend it.
Mr B. Rae: Every taxpayer in Ontario knows what pay-as-you-go means. It means they pay and the government goes. That is what it means. So the minister should not play games.
I just want to remind the Treasurer of this little headline here. It says. “Nixon Sees GST, Sales Tax Amalgamation.” This is not from 1988 or 1987: this is a headline from 16 November 1989. from the Globe and Mail.
I want to ask the Treasurer, because I think the people of Ontario are really getting a very mixed message, is he in favour of an amalgamated sales tax or does he predict that there will be an amalgamated sales tax? Precisely what is his position?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The precise position that has been enunciated by myself regularly and by the head of the government is that we find the federal goods and services tax unacceptable.
The Speaker: New question.
Mr B. Rae: You’re answering a different question than the one I was asking.
Hon R. F. Nixon: How could you amalgamate with something that isn’t here?
Mr Wildman: Hansard. get that, please.
Mr B. Rae: Make sure you get that. The Treasurer said, ‘How can you amalgamate with something that isn’t there?”
Hon R. F. Nixon: Actually, if you didn’t hear, the Treasurer said. “How can you amalgamate with something that isn’t here?”
The Speaker: The first two questions have been completed. We will now go to the next question.
Mr Harris: I do not know if the Treasurer wants time to explain exactly where he does stand. The House would be glad to give it to him if he does.
Mr Harris: I have a question for the minister responsible for the drug strategy for Ontario. I wonder if the minister can tell us why Metro Toronto police could add 97 new officers in six months to combat drug use, yet it is going to take Ontario three years to add 32 police officers to the OPP to fight illegal drugs.
Hon Mr Black: I am not in a position to comment on the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force and the decisions made there. However, I can share with the member the view that has been shared with me by law enforcement officers from across Ontario. and indeed from the United States as well, from agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration. All of them give me the same message, and that is that law enforcement alone is not the solution to this problem. Law enforcement alone is not the answer.
What we do need is a combined effort, of law enforcement combined with education prevention, combined with treatment and counselling programs to try and bring about an integrated approach. I know he may be disappointed in the number of police officers, and he and his party would undoubtedly like to see more, but we have to recognize that this is a view that is not commonly held by people who are expert in this field.
Mr Harris: Those who are expert in the field will be interested in that particular answer. The one part I do agree with is that it cannot be fought on that front alone. We just thought the minister might like to do more than drop a little drop of water into the bucket on that particular front. But since he says it needs a co-ordinated effort, by way of supplementary. I wonder if the minister could tell me why his announcement today is silent about three other aspects that the experts say is important.
One is the court backlog, which has seen suspected drug dealers freed because of the delay in seeing their cases come to court. Why is the minister silent on that, why is he silent on the overcrowding of the corrections system and why is he silent on the lack of drug rehab centres and programs here in Ontario while we are still spending millions to send Ontarians outside of this province and outside of this country for rehab?
Hon Mr Black: The member raises three good points, and I would like to address those three if I may. He perhaps did not hear me when I pointed out that the announcement we were making today was a first step and what we were announcing today was the first in a series of initiatives that this government will be taking. I would like to correct one thing that the member said in his response to my statement, and that is he suggested that $15 million was being spent on the administration of the provincial anti-drug strategy. I want to correct that and to correct that very clearly. No such amount is being spent, nor is it contemplated. What we are doing is planning to respond with further initiatives, with further programs, and among the issues he raises will be some of the initiatives that will follow.
Mr Harris: Why is the minister silent on the court backlog? Not one cent there. Why is he silent on the overcrowding of the corrections system? Not one cent there. Why is he silent on drug rehab centres and programs in Ontario? Not one cent there.
By way of final supplementary, in addition to those I would ask the minister this: In view of the fact that the social cost for Ontario is estimated at $9 billion per year, can he tell me why as a means of cost-avoidance of $9 billion, this administration over the number of years is prepared to spend only $10 million, or $1 for every man, woman and child, according to his own estimates, to help us avoid $9 billion a year in the social cost to this province?
Hon Mr Black: I can tell the member for Nipissing that money alone is not going to solve this problem. I can point out to him the example of our neighbours to the south. In 1972, the first war on drugs was declared by the President of the United States. In the 17-year period literally billions and billions of dollars have been spent in fighting the drug problem in the US. I tell the member, and I would like to help him understand this, that the problem in the US has not decreased one little bit during that 17-year period. Although he and his party always look to spending great quantities of money to solve problems, that is not our approach. We believe that we need to assist and to support the communities of this province, we need to address the problem, but money alone is not the answer.
The Speaker: New question.
Mr Harris: There’s some $160 million for the insurance industry, subsidized big insurance, and $10 million to fight the war on drugs.
The Speaker: Your question is to the same minister?
Mr Harris: To the Minister of Housing: The minister will be aware that on numerous occasions during the last session I asked his predecessor, the member for Oakwood (Ms Hošek), if she had done an impact study on the effect of the government’s lot levy legislation on house prices. After considerable waffling, it became apparent that neither she nor anybody in the government had done a study, until we finally uncovered an internal report in May from David Goyette, special adviser to the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon). who had done half a study and recommended against the imposition of the educational lot levy.
In light of the fact that Bill 20, An Act to provide for the Payment of Development Charges, is scheduled for third reading this week, I would like to ask the minister, as the new minister, has he. either as Minister of Housing or as Minister of Municipal Affairs, done any kind of a study to give us the impact of this bill on house prices here in the province of Ontario?
Hon Mr Sweeney: My honourable friend is well aware of the fact that the reference in Bill 20 to the education lot levy is an optional one. In other words, we are saying to the school boards of this province that despite the fact that the province has increased its annual capital budget for schools from roughly $75 million to $300 million, a quadrupling, it appears still not to be enough to meet the need and therefore this other option is available to school boards.
At the same time we have indicated to school boards that there are a number of other things they can do instead of extending the lot levy. They can work out arrangements with builders/ developers to actually build a school and lease it back or to provide the cost of the land at a lower rate than would otherwise be the case. They can work out those kinds of arrangements.
Until we have some sense as to what the school boards are actually going to do, whether they are going to take the option, whether they are going to use builder leasebacks or whether they are going to get lower cost lands, it is extremely difficult for us to indicate or to determine what the impact would be.
Mr Harris: The minister says it is an option. It is no option for the school board when the number of portables has doubled. It is no option when the minister reduces his capital funding front 75 per cent to 60 per cent. Clearly, they do not have an option. They are going to have to raise the funds because he will not give the funds to them to build the schools they require.
I would ask the minister very simply, as difficult as it may be, given the fact that they do not have an option and that they are going to have to get the funds because they cannot get them from him, had he done any kind of an impact study before he proceeded with this legislation?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I would not agree with my honourable friend that it is not an option because we have received notice from a number of school boards that they do not plan to introduce the lot levy. They have said that very clearly to us and I gather they have said the same thing to my colleague the Minister of Education (Mr Conway).
They recognize two things. The first one is that the amount of money which is being allocated on an annual basis quadrupled from the time when the member was a member of a former cabinet. This is a clear understanding by the school boards of this province. The second thing they are looking at is the impact of new housing coming into their various areas.
I have to repeat what I said before: until we know what they are going to do and how they are going to react, it is not possible to do an impact study. We could do a mythical one. We could make all kinds of hypotheses, but until we know what people are going to do, when there is such a range of what their options are, we simply cannot make that study.
Clearly, I can indicate to the member, as I have said to my colleagues, that we in the Ministry of Housing are going to be --
The Speaker: Thank you. It seemed like a fairly lengthy answer.
Mr Harris: The only school boards that do not plan to are those that are not growth boards. The city of Toronto does not need to build new schools: we know that. Clearly, those that need to build new schools have no option under the legislation.
During clause-by-clause review the government amended the definition of capital cost to not just include new schools, but rolling stock. furniture, equipment and library books. Prior to this expansion the home builders had estimated that $10,000 could be added to the price of a new home.
Now municipalities have the authority to impose levies to meet the cost of fire trucks. police cars, transit vehicles, heavy equipment. waste collection vehicles, desks, carpeting. computers -- you name it.
In committee the Liberal majority opened this legislation so wide open that now we would like to know what the new impact will be if it was $10,000 before, and maybe the minister could comment on York where they estimate it will now be as high as $20,000 for every single family home that is going to be built there. Could the minister comment on their estimate since he will not do one of his own?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I am reasonably certain that my honourable friend is aware of the fact that prior to Bill 20 -- as a matter of fact, it is still not legislation in this province -- there were no limits whatsoever on what a municipality could charge through its lot levy; it could charge anything -- all of the things the member named, plus anything else it wanted to.
As a matter of fact. A number of municipalities were even putting levies on for hospital growth. The purpose of Bill 20 was to stabilize and regularize what in fact they could charge. As a result of Bill 20, the actual amount of lot levies is going to be lower than what it was before. It will not be higher: it will be lower. A clearer recognition of that is that some municipalities -- two or three in the Ottawa area just in the past week or two -- had increased their lot levies prior to Bill 20 being implemented because they knew that Bill 20 was going to restrict what they could raise, reduce what they could raise, and therefore make a greater positive impact on house prices, not a negative impact.
INTERVAL AND TRANSITION HOUSES
Mr Allen: I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. In June 1988, the federal government announced under Project Haven $40 million for victims of family abuse and violence against women. Of that amount, $22 million was to be allocated to CMHC for construction of housing. Apparently, only 20 units have been built all across this country. A study has been commissioned nationally to ask why in fact that has been case, but the initial evidence appears to indicate that the provincial governments are not accessing the funding which requires also matching operating grants from the province. Why is there a delay in using money that is available when the need to provide shelter is so great in terms of shelters and staff support?
Hon Mr Beer: As my honourable colleague points out, the federal government has announced some funds that are available for the construction of shelters. When those funds were announced, both this government and a number of the major associations involved with shelters. including the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses, with which a number of us met this morning. had said the key problem we faced in the province at that time was to stabilize the existing shelters. The amount of money which we were then and have been up to this point putting into the shelter program was towards stabilizing that system in terms of grants and moneys for salaries and the like.
We have said to the federal government that we would like it to consider looking at the funds it has made available not only in terms of capital but also in terms of operating costs. We are meeting with them and discussing projects that could conic on line next year. At the present time, they have said their funding would be for capital only and the operating cost would have to come from the province. It is our hope that we will be able to work out something for the next fiscal year.
Mr Allen: I just do not think that is good enough. The Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses has this morning been telling this government till it is quite literally blue in the face that there are incredible numbers of women who are suffering family abuse and violence. possibly reaching upwards of 300,000 to 500,000 in this province alone if they were all reported, that it is still true, as it has been for some years, that only one woman and child out of every two who try to get into such a shelter actually can find shelter, that in Metro, for example, the ratio is only one out of 10 that requests that actually gets there and when they cannot get there they go back into a family scenario situation which is described by the following statistic.
In Toronto, domestic violence accounted for 21 of the 60 murders in 1988. The urgent need clearly is for an immediate doubling of the shelters and the bed spaces available. There is simply no excuse for this province not providing the wherewithal itself, but what is incomprehensible is the real failure to access federal dollars to provide interval and transition house accommodation services and second-stage housing for every woman who needs it in this province.
The Speaker: I guess he is asking. “Do you agree?”
Hon Mr Beer: I think it is important to underline that over the last several years the funding which the province has provided to shelters and to the whole issue of violence has gone up by 137 per cent. I think those working in the shelters do recognize that has been of significant support. There is no disagreement between those working in the shelters and ourselves that we would like to see the provision of some more shelter facilities.
By the same token, we also recognize that more funding has been going into counselling and into outreach. As my colleague the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues (Mrs Wilson) has pointed out on several occasions during this month, we have, through an interministerial committee, been trying to ad-dress a number of issues that deal with this particular matter that go beyond the shelters themselves, so that it has lobe a broad approach.
As I mentioned to the honourable member, we are talking specifically and directly with the federal government. We would like to see more of those funds coming into Ontario, but we want to make sure that those capital funds will also have the operating dollars needed so that those shelters will continue more than one or two years.
Mr Cureatz: My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. I want to remind the minister that on 26 October he indicated to this House that he had come up with a partial understanding with correctional officers concerning their walkout that had taken place for a few days prior to that day.
Would the minister be so kind as to now bring this House up to date in terms of the success or unsuccess of the negotiations that have taken place since 26 October?
Hon Mr Patten: I believe at this very time discussions are continuing to take place. To refresh the memory of the members of the House. they will recall that there was an agreement signed with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and with our ministry to set up mechanisms -- essentially meetings -- with the various ministries that were concerned with the concerns of the correctional officers.
This has been done. All the meetings that we had identified to take place have taken place. Some of those meetings in fact have led to the scheduling of other meetings. I would not wish to be evasive, Mr Speaker. but at this particular point it would be somewhat premature to tell you the details of that, but my perception of it at the moment is that things are going fairly well.
Mr Cureatz: With the highest respect to the minister, his response only indicates to me that I do not think he really knows what is going on and what has been resolved.
It is my understanding that negotiations with regard to early retirement were held on 1 November. Meetings to deal with overcrowding, understaffing and pension were held on 2. 9 and 16 November.
Could the minister tell the House if he has any understanding or if he has been involved in terms of that issue that I had approached the previous minister with concerning what I had found in terms of my investigations at the Don Jail, which I feel very comfortable has taken place across our institutions across the province, and that is overcrowding, the heavy workload of staff and the working conditions?
I want to emphasize to the minister that I want something specific, if not today in the very near future, so that the correctional officers can feel comfortable that this government will be allocating some resources to ensure that in the long run those problems that we have been after the minister for about a year will be --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Patten: I would like to say to the member that indeed, let me repeat, meetings are taking place at this very moment. There are meetings with my ministry. There are meetings with other ministries because other ministries have the responsibility for such things as some of the labour issues and some of the pension issues that are of concern.
In terms of the overcrowding, the member makes the statement that this is a province-wide issue. It is not a province-wide issue. I have clearly said that essentially it is around the Metropolitan Toronto area where we have a growth in charges and apprehensions that has placed enormous pressure on our system. We are addressing that within each institution. I expect to make some announcements in the near future on this. We have not yet completed some of those discussions and we also have some of our proposals in the cabinet committee process.
However, lam optimistic and I believe we will manage this situation for all concerned in terms of safety for the community as well as for a well-run institution.
Mr Neumann: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. An incident in our community sparked my interest in the regulation of retirement homes. A lady of the age of 88 wandered through a door in the middle of the night and was injured. In checking around, in trying to identify responsibility for regulation of retirement homes. I am finding I am getting quite confusing answers from different sources.
In our community, the municipality does have a bylaw, but I am wondering whether the minister could help clarify, from the perspective of his ministry, what he is doing in his ministry to help clarify the role in this issue.
Hon Mr Beer: As the honourable member has set it out, the only authority, if you like, at the present time with respect to those homes has been through certain municipal powers related to health and safety and fire. There have been problems -- and different honourable members have brought these to our attention -- with respect to a number of people in these facilities.
One of the things that I think we have identified as we have looked into these various problems that have arisen is that people may he in a rest home or rooming house and are inappropriately there: they have a level of need or care which perhaps ought to be handled in some other fashion.
In terms of the long-term care study that we have been undertaking. which the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) and I will be reporting back to the House on in the near future, we believe that some of the initiatives we can take in that regard are going to ensure that those people who need certain levels of care will be in the appropriate facility where that care can be undertaken.
Mr Neumann: In investigating this issue, it seems to me I have come across a number of different agencies and ministries which have some relationship to this issue. Recently, locally, a subcommittee of the district health council recommended to the health council that it investigate the whole issue locally and the health council turned down the recommendation from its subcommittee. There seems to be a case of people wanting to walk away from the issue rather than coming to grips with it.
I am wondering if we can expect some leadership out of this ministry. What is happening in the government to try to identify, not necessarily to run these agencies. but to identify a clearer level of responsibility so that incidents such as the one that happened in Brantford can be prevented in the future and citizens can be assured of good quality service?
Hon Mr Beer: I think the member has underlined a key element of the problem. I can say that my colleague the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mr Morin) has been bringing together, both at the cabinet level and through an interministerial working group, a number of us to look specifically at that issue and to look at how we can go forward so that this kind (if situation will not arise.
Clearly it is tied in with the broad area of long-term care in terms of how we look at our homes for the aged and nursing homes and simply with the increase in the number of elderly in our society. I think we recognize that we want to enable people to still have choice, seniors as well, in terms of where they will go and live but none the less to ensure that there is protection for them when they are in different kinds of settings. As the member says. whether that is going to be a municipal or provincial responsibility, these are things we are going to have to work out in the near future.
Mr Reville: My question is for the Minister of Health. A lot of us celebrated on 1 July 1987 when we got the Nursing Homes Amendment Act. We thought that would make the situation a whole lot better. Yet what we see is that the situation has become worse. In fact, if members would look at the new strategy of the government of Ontario. it is called “compliance enforcement,” and since 1987 the number of nursing homes charged for violations has dropped to zero.
Why is the nursing homes branch playing pat-a-cake with the nursing home industry?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to say to my critic opposite that in fact when I arrived at the ministry.1 was informed that in 1986 a report had been undertaken that recommended some significant changes in the approach to the regulation of nursing homes. I also had the new Nursing Homes Act. My priority always being to improve the quality of care and to focus on people, I then said, “What would be the very best approach to make sure that we had a continuous improvement environment?” That report told us that the old adversarial approach of the former government was clearly not working.
I want to tell the member that while we still have a way to go to make improvements and there is much that can be done each day, we are making progress to make sure that we work co-operatively with all of those who have the same interest that we have, and that is to make sure that the people who are in our nursing homes are receiving better care, that they have a greater quality of life and in fact are treated with dignity.
Mr Reville: One of the things that was very specific about the Nursing Homes Amendment Act was that we all, as taxpayers, had a right to see what happened to the $400 million we gave each year to nursing homes, and in fact, very detailed requirements for financial disclosure were put into that legislation.
I did a research -- Mr Speaker, you will find this hard to believe, bull did; mostly, it was looking for my own name in Hansard. I found my name appeared three times and the name of my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke) appeared twice since June 1988 asking the minister. “Whatever has happened to these regulations regarding financial disclosure?” She said as recently as 29 June:
“Well, you know, it’s very complex, but we’re reviewing it. They should be available soon.
What does the minister have to say now? This is the sixth time. We do not usually give her six chances.
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, this is not a partisan issue, and I believe we all have the same goal, which is to ensure that quality of care improves. I want to say to the member that in fact the regulations that he speaks of. I expect to see in force and passed through the cabinet process. Since they are now complete. we expect to have them in force by the end of this year. within six weeks.
Mr Jackson: I have a question for the Solicitor General. The minister would be aware that the Metropolitan Toronto Police force investigated 3,179 cases of domestic disputes last year, but its own records indicate that the actual total number of calls that it received was 10 times greater. This statistic is quite unacceptable to the victims of domestic violence.
Since the minister has stood in the House today to articulate his government’s policy priorities in the area of combating drug abuse with support for police funding and for police support, when is the minister going to be making similar statements about funding support and program support so that there are meaningful directives to the police forces in this province so that the victims of assault, whether it is domestic or otherwise -- there should not be that distinction -- can get the same kind of attention and support that the minister knows he is capable of giving them?
Hon Mr Offer: In response to the honourable member’s question, I think it is important to indicate at the outset that police forces have been instructed to lay charges in all spousal assault occurrences where they believe that such reason-able and probable grounds do exist. I think it is important to also indicate that, as the Solicitor General, I am continuing the efforts in making certain that where such reasonable and probable grounds do exist, charges are in fact laid.
The third point which I want to make in this matter is that there has been a directive from the commissioner of the OPP and from the assistant deputy minister of policing services in my ministry stating that it is inappropriate in these circumstances to inquire of the victim whether charges should be laid.
Mr Jackson: The minister’s directives are not working. He can enforce speeding tickets in this province, but he cannot do anything to change these statistics that are being demonstrated. For example, in 1988 and 1987. charges were laid in only 46 per cent of the reported cases for this form of assault. Last year there was an inquest into the shooting death of Constance Johnston by her estranged husband in front of an East York supermarket. During that inquest it was revealed that she had made approximately 20 phone calls to the police force for support, to inform them of what was going on in her life. In fact, over several months, there was no response at all from the police in this case, is what the inquest came to understand, yet there was a court order in this case, allegedly to protect the victim. Again. the police did not respond. Her calls were unheeded and she paid with her life.
The Speaker: Question?
Mr Jackson: My question is, again, what specific programs and funding, what priorities, is the minister prepared to put in place to ensure that police respond quickly and effectively to these desperate calls to help victims of abuse?
Hon Mr Offer: Let me reiterate that we have had procedures and we do have directives that state clearly and categorically that it is inappropriate to ask a victim whether he or she wants a charge laid against his or her spouse or partner. It is important to note that research has shown that when police do make charges, the likelihood of further abuse is reduced. This is a message that we have been and will continue to carry forward to all police forces in this province.
Mrs O’Neill: My question is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues. The minister and many of her colleagues met with a large delegation from the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses this morning. Many issues were raised by the delegates from right across this province. Would the minister please apprise the House of those issues which she believes she will be able to address during the immediate future or the near future?
Hon Mrs Wilson: There was a very positive meeting held this morning between members of the government and OAITH. I should acknowledge the importance of these people as the front-line workers in shelters which are providing accommodation and safety for women and their children who are abused in family situations.
The group this morning acknowledged that the government has made a very positive commitment towards eradicating violence, particularly wife assault. They also acknowledge that we have made excellent progress. They particularly mentioned the dollars that have gone towards
enhancing wages of front-line shelter workers through the stabilizing dollars to shelters.
They stressed the importance of the police laying charges where reasonable grounds to do so exist. In addition to the very direct instructions of the Solicitor General. I should also indicate that we have a training program for police officers and senior police management, as well as information sessions to the judiciary.
Second-stage housing was brought up today as well, and the government’s commitment towards providing priority housing for women who have been abused in nonprofit and Ontario government housing units. The number of beds through the federal program has also been addressed.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mrs O’Neill: The throne speech of April 1989 made a commitment to reduce violence against women and children. Would the minister please indicate to this House those items that she has been able to accomplish in implementing that promise of this government?
Hon Mrs Wilson: My ministry, the Ontario Women’s Directorate, is chairing and co-ordinating activities of an interministerial steering committee consisting of 15 different ministries across government which have 23 different initiatives we are implementing to reduce and eradicate wife assault. We are in the fourth year of a five-year strategy. We are taking a three-pronged approach, first in the area of prevention and education, second in the area of enhanced criminalization, justice services, and third, in the area of shelter and counselling services.
This year. $41 million of provincial government money will go towards wife assault prevention initiatives. This is a 20 per cent increase over the funds allocated last year and two and a half times the dollars that were spent just four years ago in this area.
There is a very strong throne speech commitment to eradicating wife assault. Broadly, IS different ministries then are working together toward that particular approach. We will be asking groups. such as OAITH, the front-line workers, to assist us with recommendations.
The Speaker: Thank you. That seems like a fairly comprehensive reply.
Mr Mackenzie: To the Minister of Labour: On Friday 17 November, I had the privilege of joining a gutsy group of 16 women and five men on the bitterly cold picket line of the Koolatron Corp plant in Brantford. I should, for the record. say they were joined also by a large number of their fellow workers in other plants in Brantford.
What I saw there was far from a reflection of Ontario the beautiful -- men and women who are eager to work and are putting their health at risk by working with isocyanates. cellusolve solvent and methyl ethyl ketone are being rewarded by their employers with an hourly wage of $5.88 an hour.
Is the Minister of Labour satisfied that this is a sufficient wage to allow the workers to enjoy the benefits if living in Ontario?
Hon Mr Phillips: I am aware of the situation. and certainly the member for Brantford (Mr Neumann) has kept me up to date with it. I can say that I understand that later this week mediation will once again begin. We have one of our senior mediators who is going to be involved in working with both parties. My hope is that the collective bargaining process will work here, that the two sides will reach a fair and equitable agreement. Certainly our ministry is doing what it can to help those two sides to reach that by the use of a senior mediator in this case.
Mr Mackenzie: Assuming that the Minister of Labour shares my vision of labour relations in the province. I would like to ask him why it has been necessary for the men and women at Koolatron to walk that picket line for the past nine weeks in an effort to assure a decent minimum wage in this province’? Does the minister not recognize the connection between these starvation wages and the need, identified by so many. the Thomson report included, of substantially increased mini-mum wages in the province of Ontario? They are very little above the minimum wage, working with dangerous substances in that plant.
Hon Mr Phillips: I think we all share the vision of a fair and equitable workplace, one where individuals are not required to work in an unsafe environment, where they do get the just rewards for their efforts. Certainly in an earlier question. I think that some of the things we are looking at -- the continued implementation of our pay equity bill, which as I say, is one of the most progressive bills in North America. the most progressive bill in North America in terms of helping to achieve fairness and equity in the workplace.
I think also Bill 208. which we will debate and which I recognize there are strong opinions on, will advance the cause of occupational health and safety. Those two things, among others. I hope. will make a substantial step forward and are making a substantial step forward, both in occupational health and safety and in fairness to workers in the workplace.
Mr Pollock: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. I know the minister is aware of the zebra mussel problem that is in Lake St Clair and Lake Erie and also that we both agree there is no way we are going to keep these zebra mussels out of the whole Great Lakes system. I feel sure that these mussels are going to muscle their way into our inland lake system. There is a conference coming up in Rochester on 28 and 29 November. Does the minister think that any elected officials should attend that conference on zebra mussels?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I do appreciate the efforts of the honourable member to keep us all very much aware of this very great problem. The specific conference that he refers to is a conference in Rochester which I understand is a conference sponsored by the New York sea grant, and it is one in which participants had been invited to attend to present papers.
One of the members of the staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources has in fact been asked to present a paper at that conference, but it is a highly technical conference and it is my under-standing that it is not possible for that invitation to be extended to members of the Legislature. Certainly we can share with any interested members any information that we have from that particular conference.
Mr Pollock: Then the minister would keep the members of this House informed on what is going to take place in that particular conference. It is technical. No elected officials are going to be there at all. Is that a fact?
Hon Mrs McLeod: At this particular conference there would not be elected official present. to my understanding. Again, it would he a technical conference with the participants being those who have been invited to present technical papers, but certainly there will be other conference opportunities. As well. following through on the meeting that was attended by the honourable member opposite, as well as by a number of other interested members in the House. we will be continuing to discuss the question of zebra mussels and to provide any information which comes to us on the subject of how we can best control this problem.
Mr Tatham: My question is for the Minister (if Municipal Affairs. Last year. a committee went out around the province of Ontario and visited 26 counties to see the diversity of each county and to find out what we could do to strengthen these counties. We brought forth a report with 41 recommendations. I am wondering if the minister could tell us what progress has taken place between the counties and the government.
Hon Mr Sweeney: I want to congratulate my honourable colleague the member for Oxford for the leadership role that he took in this study, along with a number of his colleagues, and to point out to him that as the result of that activity. we now have five counties that are part of a review going on at the current time. There are five more that will be coming into a review situation, more than likely over the next five or six months. I must tell him that it had not been anticipated that they would react so quickly and so positively to be in a review, and I can only assume that the activities of the honourable member and his colleagues certainly stirred things up out there.
Mr Tatham: We have 10 and we have 16 left. How long will it take the minister to encourage the rest to take part? What time frame is the minister thinking of’?
Hon Mr Sweeney: If the honourable member had asked me that question a year ago or even less, I would have told him we are probably looking at five or six, maybe seven years. But given the fact that there is such a heightened level of interest. I think it is going to be less than that.
The other point I would draw to his attention is that my ministry is currently responsible for putting together a proposal for cabinet to streamline the planning approvals process and to get provincial policy statements out there to get the upper-tier levels of government. whether they be regions or counties, to reflect those in their official plans. It seems reasonable to us that we want a strong county structure out there ready to pick up these proposals and to go with then and to be the agent of the society and of our growth out there. So. if anything, we will be encouraging them to move along more quickly than perhaps we would otherwise.
PROGRAM FOR OLDER WORKER ADJUSTMENT
Mr Farnan: ‘[o the Minister of Labour: It is my belief that the ministry has negotiated the betrayal of older workers in the province of Ontario. The program for older worker adjustment identifies textile. shoe and tanning employees as the beneficiaries of that program quite specifically.
Is it true that among the clarifying clauses now, if a community has a low unemployment rate. those workers will not be eligible’? If this is the case. does this not eliminate all southern Ontario’s older workers in these industries that have suffered major layoffs, and in fact for them, are there no benefits under this program?
Hon Mr Phillips: I am glad to reassure the member, because I can understand his concern. There are a number of guidelines that have been put in place for the program for older worker adjustment, POWA. as it is called, but they are guidelines only. Certainly we will look at each individual case.
For example, one of the guidelines was that it have a significant impact on the community that it is located in. Well, we were concerned that therefore would mean that in Metropolitan Toronto the program might not apply, and we were assured that it would. There are several guidelines, but I think that each case will be judged on its own merits and that it is not true that the program will not work in southwestern Ontario.
As a matter of fact. some of the very first areas where we expect it to work will be. I think. in the case of the Massey situation in Brantford where we said to those workers that it will be one of the very first cases that will he looked at. So it does apply throughout the province, and certainly in southwestern Ontario. we would expect they will be some of the first communities that should benefit from the program.
Mr Farnan: I am talking to the minister now. specifically, about the textile and shoe workers in Cambridge. lam talking about the workers let go from Savage Shoes, from Artex Woollens Ltd. from Andrew McNiece. I could name a host of industries, older workers, many of whom speak English as a second language. many of them in their 50s and 60s.
Is the minister saying to this group of people that his ministry has negotiated a package with the federal government that under any circumstance these workers will be excluded because these workers will not be able to get another job. in all likelihood?
The reality of the matter is this, the vagueness of these clarifying clauses --
The Speaker: I listened.
Mr Farnan: I ask the minister --
The Speaker: I thought you did ask the minister.
Mr Farnan: I ask the minister, will he give an assurance to the workers in Cambridge in the textile and shoe industry that the workers are going to receive benefits under the program for older worker adjustment? Yes or no?
Hon Mr Phillips: As I said, each case is evaluated and I will assure the member that we will evaluate those cases, but there are several guidelines in POWA. Each case is looked at. As I mentioned before, we have instituted this pro-gram, we have recruited the staff, we are now moving forward.
Mr Farnan: You sold out the workers, that is what you have done. You have sold out the older workers.
Hon Mr Phillips: On the contrary, no one has been sold out. We have put in place the program that will recognize the genuine, very real needs of workers this member is talking about. Each case will be evaluated on its own merits and my hope is that we will be able to address the needs of older workers. As I said before, the Massey situation is the first and classic example.
ORILLIA SOLDIERS’ MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
Mr McLean: My question is to the Minister of Health. Would the minister provide me with an update on the status of the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, the redevelopment proposal that community has shown its supersupport for?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, I am pleased the member raised this issue because it gives me a chance, once again, to talk about the recommendations of the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy that have been very clear. What they said to us was that over the course of the last two years we have gathered much new information. that we should share that information with the community and we should make sure, as we are doing our planning, that we plan to meet the real and the changing needs of our communities not only for today but for the future as well.
We know that we are in times when we are seeing rapidly changing technology, when the demographics are changing and the economic reality that we have the best funded national health system in the world. In fact, Ontario has one of the highest per capita amounts of spending on health care of any of the other provinces in this country. I want the member to know that as we plan for the future, whether it is for capital or for operating expenditures, we are determined to do the right thing in our communities and we are using this opportunity to make sure that we take that approach in our capital plans.
ANIMALS FOR RESEARCH
Mr Wildman: I have a petition which is signed by approximately 1,000 residents of Ontario. These signatures were gathered at the Royal Winter Fair between 11 November and 14 November by Dr Kenneth Easton of Mississauga, a doctor of veterinary medicine. The petition requests that Bill 190 be passed in the Ontario Legislature without further delay. These 1,000 names raise the total to approximately 72.000 and my name is attached to the petition.
Mrs E. J. Smith: I wish to present a petition on behalf of the member for Wentworth North (Mr Ward). The petition objects to the French Language Services Act in Ontario and represents the opinion of approximately 20 people, but not the opinion of myself, although I have signed it on their behalf.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mrs Marland moved opposition day motion 3:
That given the need to preserve green space in the greater Toronto area, given the unique character of the Rouge Valley, given the financial commitment of the federal government in support of the save the Rouge efforts, given the threat to the Rouge of the province’s plans for highway construction, and given that approximately 90 per cent of the Rouge Valley lands are presently owned by the provincial government. this House is of the view that the provincial government should immediately take all steps to designate the Rouge Valley as a provincial park.
The Speaker: We have all heard the motion placed by the member for Mississauga South. I would remind members that the time will be allocated equally among the three parties and if the mover wishes to reserve any for the end, that will be included in that one third of the time.
Mrs Marland: Mr Speaker. of course this is an opposition day motion in my name, as environment spokesperson for the Progressive Conservative Party. However, as the Coalition of Scarborough Community Associations pointed out in a presentation to the Progressive Conservative caucus earlier this month, the preservation of the Rouge Valley system should be a nonpartisan issue and should be the subject of decision, not of rhetoric. I agree with the coalition completely. It is my hope that the motion before us today will receive the support of all members and will result in the creation of the Rouge Provincial Park.
Indeed, all three parties in this House have expressed a desire to save the Rouge. As I will discuss in further detail later in my remarks, there is also near unanimous support from the municipal governments involved as well as a promise of $10 million from the federal government to create a Rouge provincial park or ecological reserve.
Unfortunately, the Liberal government has failed to take the action the motion proposes, that is to immediately take all appropriate steps to designate the Rouge Valley as a provincial park. For despite the Liberal government’s promises in this House to save the Rouge; despite the Liberals’ support for a motion by my colleague the member for Markham (Mr Cousens), that an east Metro transportation strategy must respect the environment; despite a motion by the Ontario Liberal Party to urge the government of Ontario to set an example by preserving the Rouge Valley as a wildlife area; despite all these promises and statements of intention, the Liberal government has failed to come forward with a proposal to designate the Rouge Valley lands as a provincial park.
This is not only a debate about saving the treasure that is the Rouge Valley, it is also a debate about all talk and no action. It is about failing to put one’s money where one’s mouth is. The challenge I put to the government and the official opposition today is to demonstrate our joint commitment to the preservation of the Rouge Valley lands through unanimous support of this motion.
The Liberal government’s excuse for stalling on the creation of a Rouge Valley park has been that it must determine which parts of the Rouge Valley system should be preserved. We in the Progressive Conservative Party have the answer to the government’s question. It is the answer that has also been put forward by the many concerned citizens who have banded together in such groups as Save the Rouge Valley System and the Coalition of Scarborough Community Associations.
On behalf of everyone who is fighting to save the Rouge. I will tell the Premier and his cabinet colleagues what lands should be included in the park. This definition of the Rouge Valley lands is central to today’s debate and it must be clear before we can address the main thrust and the preceding components of my motion.
Earlier today, during a joint press conference I held with representatives of the Save the Rouge Valley System and the Coalition of Scarborough Community Associations we displayed a map of the proposed park area. Of course, I would be happy to provide a copy of this map to any members who require one.
The park we have in mind is approximately 10,700 acres and represents one of the areas that the Rouge Valley system drains. Surely, Mr Speaker, asking for 12 per cent of the Rouge River system as a park is not asking too much, and yet is my understanding that one option the cabinet is considering is to create a much smaller park in the lower Rouge Valley which would be surrounded by development such as a highway, a dump site, and a state housing subdivision. Such a park simply would not do. As I will show, it would neither provide sufficient environmental protection nor preserve the uniqueness of the Rouge Valley system.
I want to stress that the area we propose for a Rouge provincial park includes not only the valley, but also many of the tablelands. Although we tend to use the words “Rouge Valley” to describe the whole area in question, we are including the tablelands as shown in the shaded area on our map.
There are important reasons for including these lands. First, we want to preserve an ecosystem. The proposed park is the only continuously vegetated ravine, tableland and marsh complex of its size in the Metropolitan Toronto area. Moreover, the tablelands that we propose including in the park contain eight environmentally sensitive areas, as well as 03 identified archeological sites.
Having defined the area in question, I will move on to the various components of my motion. First, I will address the need to preserve green space in the greater Toronto area. Nobody in this House can dispute this need. Just look around us. Housing and commercial developments are mushrooming. We are facing a garbage crisis which requires that we make room for new landfill sites in most regions of the greater Toronto area, and we are consuming land for traffic corridors. There can be no doubt that in the name of economic development we are losing more and more of what precious little green space is left. This erosion of our green space endangers the quality of life for all residents of our area and life itself for many other creatures.
In the case of the Rouge which has been eyed for all sorts of development that I have just mentioned, the time has come to say, “Enough is enough.’ The Rouge is Toronto’s last significant tract of green space. It has been called its last green door. We must protect the Rouge’s genetic diversity. We must provide the citizens of greater Toronto with the outdoor educational and recreational opportunities that only the Rouge can provide, and we must recognize that the only suitable development for the Rouge lands is that which can be accomplished with a carefully planned multiple-use park that meets the objectives I have just outlined.
I would like to consider the second phrase of my motion, “the unique character of the Rouge Valley.” I could talk for the rest of the afternoon on this subject alone, hut for this debate I will keep my remarks brief. The Save the Rouge Valley System has prepared an excellent fact sheet called What Will a Rouge Valley System Provincial Park Protect’? It notes that the Rouge contains 16 designated environmentally sensitive areas and it describes a natural wealth which makes the Rouge unique within the greater Toronto area. I would like to share with the House the highlights of this fact sheet.
The Rouge River system is home to over 40 species of fish including two nationally rare species: the central stoneroller and the redside dace. It is a valuable spawning area. There are 78 species of birds living in the Rouge. including two nationally rare species: the red-shouldered hawk and the Cooper’s hawk, as well 18 regionally rare bird species. The area is vital for feeding and for migration through the city’s harsh environment.
There are 21 mammal species that inhabit the Rouge, including white-tailed deer, beaver. coyote, red fox, weasel, otter, flying squirrel, deer mouse, mole and vole.
As for flora, there are over 400 species. representing more than one quarter of Ontario’s native plants in the Rouge system. ‘[hey include 92 regionally rare species. There are also II provincially rare species and 12 nationally rare species.
The Rouge Valley system is the site of Metro Toronto’s last provincially significant class 2 wetland as well as the regionally significant Towline Swamp. which is home to wood ducks and osprey.
The Rouge also contains Metro Toronto’s largest continuous forest. The Rouge forest includes over 70 native tree species representing 80 per cent of all tree species found in Ontario.
Some of the Rouge trees are hundreds of years old. Three areas of Carolinian forest have been designated as critical, unprotected natural areas and one of the white pine stands rates among the six most significant stands south of the Canadian Shield.
I have already mentioned the 63 archeological sites in the Rouge tablelands. Some of these sites are of international significance dating back some 9,000 years. There are also 15 historical structures and the only known, undisturbed Seneca indian village site in Canada. Several facilities for recreation. education and tourism have developed around the Rouge including the Metro Toronto Zoo, the Hillside Outdoor Education Centre, three conservation areas and many kilometres of nature and hiking trails. The area includes Metro’s cleanest river system and beach and its most productive fishing location.
The natural and cultural richness I have outlined combines to form the area of the greatest potential for passive recreation in the greater Toronto area. Nowhere else can match the opportunities for hiking, canoeing. bird watching, fishing, swimming, picnicking, photography or simply relaxing in a natural environment.
I must turn now to the next part of my motion, the financial commitment of the federal government in support of the save the Rouge efforts. As I noted earlier, this amounts to $10 million towards the cost of establishing a provincial park or ecological reserve. On IS September 1988 the then Minister of the Environment. Tom McMillan, announced this generous financial commitment as well as the federal government’s willingness to co-operate with Ontario. at its request. in a provincial initiative to protect the Rouge. The offer still stands 14 months after it was made.
I want to devote considerable time to the next component of my motion, the threat to the Rouge of the province’s plans for highway construction.
The development of a highway is the moist immediate and serious threat to the Rouge. The ever-increasing pressure of traffic among and between Metro. York and Durham regions has led many people to believe that a north-south highway through or crossing the Rouge Valley lands is necessary and inevitable.
We do not deny that there is a transportation crisis in the eastern and northern regions of the greater Toronto area, but there is no reason why the proposed east Metro transportation corridor needs to be built across and along the edge of the Rouge River Valley. There are alternatives to this proposed north-south multiple lane highway that would link Highway 401 with an easterly extension of Highway 407.
Let’s consider for a moment what the impact of such a highway would be on the Rouge system. Even if the highway simply crossed the Rouge Valley. polluted highway runoff would degrade the water quality, not only of the Rouge River but also of Lake Ontario into which the Rouge River drains.
I would like to add that only last week we had a perfect demonstration of what this can mean when a tanker truck overturned on the Queen Elizabeth Way at Mississauga Road and dumped thousands of gallons of fuel oil into the storm sewers, which ultimately ended up in the Credit River and out into Lake Ontario. That is an example of the risk when you have highways in environmentally sensitive areas.
As David Crombie’s Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront noted, such pollution would turn Metro’s cleanest river system into another polluted Humber River or Don River. Consider too how this water pollution would harm the fish that are still bountiful in the Rouge. Think about the disruption of wildlife and about the number of animals that would be killed trying to cross the highway.
Think about the effects of salt spray and automobile emissions on the significant Carolinian forests and white pine stands through which the highway would be cut. Think about how the air pollution would harm the flora and fauna. how the noise pollution would ruin the peaceful and relaxing natural environment of the Rouge. how the bright headlights would endanger sensitive breeding areas. how the highway construction would lead to the loss of rare native wildflower communities. Finally. consider the aesthetics of the highway. How can two massive concrete bridges compare with the beautiful treed skylines of the Rouge in its natural state?
You may say. “Yes, a highway would degrade the Rouge but we badly need that highway.” No, we do not. There are alternatives for improving the transportation infrastructure in cast Metro. Durham and York. The details of what I am about to propose are available in a brief just released this month by the group Save the Rouge Valley System. also known as SRVS. This brief is entitled Saving the Rouge and Satisfying Future lnterregional Transportation Demands.
SRVS proposes a combination oil improved arterial roads and rail transit service. Let me quote for a few moments front page 7 of their brief:
“The Ministry of Transport wants to build a six- to eight-lane highway through the proposed Rouge provincial park to handle 40.000 north-south trips per day. However, just to the west. the extension off Morningside Avenue to link with the Markham bypass and the widening of Highway 48 could handle an additional 70.000 trips per day at the east Metro-York boundary. Utilizing just these two arterial road options alone would provide 30,000 more north-south trips per day than the designed capacity of the proposed east Metro highway.”
Another option that has been identified for handling north-south traffic flow would be to expand Regional Road 23, which runs north-south between Ajax and Whitby from Highway 401 to the proposed Highway 407.
The Save the Rouge Valley System also discusses expanding and improving subway and GO train service, notably “the integration of an expanded subway system with surface rail transit will create an environmentally sustainable urban transportation network and provide increased opportunities for meeting Metro’s affordable housing requirements.”
It is time the Ministry of Transportation updated its 17-year-old plan for the east Metro transportation corridor. Toronto today is not the Toronto of 1972. There can be no doubt that a sustainable eastern transportation network must include improvements to public transit as well as highways. Most important to this debate, there is no doubt that the Rouge. our last significant green space. can and must be spared from highway construction.
A highway is not the only threat to the Rouge. as I have stated. The Rouge has also been eyed for a landfill site and for estate housing. I emphasize it is not affordable housing here; we are talking about estate housing. Although these threats are less imminent than a highway. we do not want to discount the importance of preventing garbage dumping and estate housing on the Rouge lands. Both are incompatible with the preservation of the Rouge’s great natural and cultural resources.
The creation of a landfill site would destroy or displace many living creatures, resulting in a loss of the Rouge’s precious diversity of species and habitats. There would be regular heavy truck traffic to and from the site. with all the air, ground and noise pollution that accompanies such traffic. As well, leachate from the site could contaminate the river system. In short, a landfill site would he devastating to the Rouge.
Estate housing would not be much better. Picture the bulldozers uprooting trees and other vegetation, and the further damage from installing water and sewer mains, paved streets and electrical lines, not to mention the houses themselves. Consider the loss of wildlife habitats, and after the construction the increased automobile pollution. It is not a pretty picture.
I have arrived at that part of my motion “that approximately 90 per cent of the Rouge Valley lands are presently owned by the provincial government.”
The province originally acquired the Rouge lands in 1975 under then Premier Bill Davis for the purpose of creating a regional park. It is worth noting that the Conservative government developed plans for the Rouge park prior to the change of government in 1985. Since 1985, the Liberal government has not come forward with any concrete plans, only with vague promises to save the Rouge. I guess “concrete plans” is a bit of a pun, not intended but unfortunately nevertheless there.
The fact that this was a Conservative government plan for a regional park, the fact that the people of Ontario have owned this property for almost 15 years speaks for itself of the intention for the use and preservation of these lands.
To come back to the provincial ownership of the Rouge Valley lands, the government owns 89 per cent of the lands which are in the municipality of Scarborough. These Scarborough lands are the contentious Rouge areas that have been eyed for development Even when one includes the lands that are further north in York region, the government still owns 75 percent of the total area we propose for the Rouge provincial park. The remaining privately owned lands in the Rouge area have for the most part been identified as flood prone. They could therefore be acquired by the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority under its mandate for flood control.
Obviously the province, through co-operation with other levels of government, has the power to save the Rouge. As principal land owner, it holds the key.
This brings me to the main thrust of my motion that this House is of the view that the provincial government should immediately take all appropriate steps to designate the Rouge Valley as a provincial park.
The government’s game plan would obviously have to include the following steps:
1. Definition of the lands to be preserved: The government has had plenty of time to do this and we have proposed a definition of the park area for it.
2. Consultation and joint planning with the appropriate municipal and regional governments: This should not pose a problem. Scarborough. Markham and Pickering councils have already voted unanimously in favour of preserving the Rouge. Metro council has expressed support for Scarborough council’s decision to amend its official plan to change the designation of the Rouge area from agricultural and open space to open space and recreational. However, Metro has deferred voting until the provincial government makes up its mind on the intended use of the provincially owned lands.
3. Acquisition of privately owned lands to be included in the park area: As we have mentioned. privately owned lands constitute only II per cent of the total land we propose for the park. Their acquisition will require the co-operation of municipal authorities since some lands are best acquired through mechanisms such as the flood control mandate of the conservation authorities.
4. Development of a park plan: This will obviously have to be a consultative process involving representatives from all levels of government as well as business, interest groups, private citizens, planners and environmental experts.
Some parts of the park are best left free from human interference. Others are appropriate for such recreational uses as nature trails, bicycle paths and picnic sites. Still other areas can accommodate attractions such as a reconstructed Indian village, a fish hatchery and fish ladders, and an interpretative centre. The Rouge is appropriate for a multiple use provincial park.
If this Liberal government is serious about saving the Rouge. it will support this motion and take these steps as soon as possible to designate the Rouge Valley as a provincial park. It has stalled long enough. There can no longer be any excuses for using the Rouge lands for a highway, for estate housing or for a landfill site. All such uses are incompatible with preservation of the Rouge Valley and tableland ecosystem.
It is my fervent hope that the Premier (Mr Peterson), the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley), the Minister of Transportation (Mr Wrye) and their colleagues will see fit to put aside our partisan differences and support my motion, thereby initiating the process of creating the Rouge provincial park.
Our friends in the gallery, representatives from the Save the Rouge Valley System and the Coalition of Scarborough Community Associations join in requesting your support for our motion.
May I just say in closing that the people who have been involved in the Save the Rouge program for the past number of years number in the hundreds, and the membership and support for this cause is growing every year. For the key people who have spearheaded all the work, all the planning, all the attendance at meetings and all the hundreds of briefs and presentations that have been made to government members of this Legislature and to government staff, all of that work has been volunteer.
I think it is terribly important once and for all for this government to recognize what it is the people of Ontario are saying and once and for all for it to listen. Please save the Rouge Valley and tablelands.
The Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to participate in the debate?
Hon Mr Bradley: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for permission to participate in this debate.
It is wonderful to see others joining the movement to retain the Rouge, as all of us in this House would like to see it retained. I welcome the last speaker and the third party to this particular issue and believe that it is nice to have them finally on our side on this issue.
Certainly, anyone who has at all paid attention to the debate would recognize that on a number of occasions, both in this House and beyond the boundaries of this House, the Premier of this province, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Government Services, and certainly the members from Scarborough and others, have recognized publicly the value of the Rouge area, particularly the Rouge Valley but the Rouge area as a whole, and have been clear that it is the intention of this government to retain that area as a green area in this part of the province.
I need not go into great detail in extolling the virtues of the Rouge, except to say again that any objective observer who looks at the land in that area and who has had the opportunity as I have had, thanks to the representatives front the Save the Rouge group. to walk through those lands could not help hut be impressed with the wildness of it. I use that because I think it is significant. particularly in an urban setting, that there be wildlife both in terms of plant life and animal life in the area.
Certainly, I was extremely impressed as I was given a good deal of detail on it as I went through the area. As I recall, on that day the mosquitoes were a little on the heavy side, but we bore with it. You could see the different forms of life that were there, particularly the plant life that was there, which was unique. You really did not expect probably to find that within the confines of a major urban municipality.
The beauty of the area is quite obvious. The fact that you are in an urban setting yet get the feeling you are miles and miles away from that urban setting in a very peaceful place where wildlife is allowed to exist, all of that certainly cannot help but leave a lasting impression on anyone who has had the opportunity to go through the Rouge. as I have some time ago and as I know many of my colleagues have.
In that regard, I would like to pay tribute to those who have presented the case to us as legislators and to others in the decision-making process because it has been presented in a very rational way with plenty of backup material, good scientific material that has been extremely helpful in defining the potential uses of that area. When you have that from people who are obviously very committed, it is very helpful in terms of making decisions at the government level.
I think we all recognize the need for green areas in large urban centres, indeed all over the province of Ontario, but particularly when we see the urban life that takes place now, when we see the expansion of population and everything that comes with it. I think there is a recognition to retain Toronto and the areas beyond Toronto as sane areas, as areas which are desirable to live in. It is essential that we have appropriate green space. I think particularly passive green space. in that area.
There are many who believe that as long as you have recreational areas, tennis courts, golf courses and so on. you have served the purpose, and they are useful as a recreational component in a community. But equally important, in my view, are the areas which are passive in nature, which allow us to enjoy a natural setting without any human-made facilities in place. We may be able to enhance it a bit here and there, but very often retaining it in its state of existence is most important.
I remember talking to Senator George Mitchell. who is the Senate majority leader now in the Senate in the United States, about how he was impressed with how Canadians, in many instances, had retained a number oil green areas within their urban setting. I discussed with him at that time, very briefly, one of the areas that we were looking at and assessing for that use. It was in fact the Rouge area of Toronto.
The Premier has appointed the member for St Andrew-St Patrick (Mr Kanter) to look at all of these areas, to assess them and to determine the best ways of maintaining that green space right up the river valleys, and I guess you could say the creek valleys as well of Metropolitan Toronto and beyond that because there is a recognition of how important that is to our future.
As I say, I welcome the interest of all of those who have joined us in this. The former Minister of Natural Resources, who is the member for Niagara Falls (Mr Kerrio), was a person very interested in this specific area. I recall his certain support of the acquisition of land by the Ministry of Natural Resources, and of course by the conservation authority in this area, pointing out how much land had been acquired and preserved and his desire to see even more in that category.
This is why I welcome the support of the member for Mississauga South for the position we have taken over this period of time. With that kind of support, which I did not find in great volume previous to the change of government. I know that we will have consensus in this Legislature.
Mrs Marland: The Conservatives bought the land.
Hon Mr Bradley: Now she intervenes, as she does from time to time, and how nice it would have been if the alternative corridors to the east Metro transportation corridor had been preserved years ago when the Progressive Conservative Party was in power. How nice it would have been. Again, we are in a situation of having to pick up the pieces. That does not mean it cannot be done, and that is what the government is looking at, all of those alternatives to the east Metro transportation corridor.
But when you see shopping centres in there. when you see housing developments and so on. you know that will be a difficult process but not an impossible process. I just say how nice it would have been had that been retained, had there been some foresight in the past in this regard. That is why it makes it more difficult to actually make a specific announcement until such time as you have those alternatives particularly determined.
I also wonder why the lands that the member made reference to in her initial remarks were not acquired a number of years ago when land was substantially cheaper. Some lands were purchased. It would have been nice to see those purchased in the past. Again, this is not a roadblock to it. but certainly it presents us with a little more difficulty.
I heard reference made to the $10 million. Of course, the former Minister of Natural Resources burst out laughing when he heard about the $10 million that came just before the last federal election. The obvious purpose of the $10 million was to attempt to rescue Tory seats in Scar-borough. It did not work entirely, but that was certainly a political ploy with many conditions placed on it.
The member for Niagara Falls will well recall the national park that he initiated in the Bruce Peninsula. While the federal government was busy giving about $125 million to British Columbia. the member for Niagara Falls, as the Minister of Natural Resources, was investing $10 million of our own money and turning over the whole land free of charge. I believe, to the federal government.
We are quite pleased to see that down payment of $10 million. No doubt that was only a down payment and they would want to add at least one zero to that to be relevant in this play instead of simply trying to get in on the act.
What we have to determine, what we are in the process of doing now as a government, as the Premier has said on many occasions, and as the Minister of Natural Resources (Mrs McLeod) and the Minister of Government Services (Mr Ward), who have carriage of this particular issue. have said, what they were all saying is. “Let’s look at which specific lands should be retained and what uses should be retained on those lands.”
I think that is going to be an exceedingly important decision. That is why we are gathering the input, this is why we are doing the appropriate studies, all under the commitment the Premier has made to save the Rouge and to preserve this area, but we want to be very specific in these announcements and determine the very best use for those lands.
I also remind those in the House who may not be aware of it that when we talk about park land. we well remember the previous government’s whole policy on park land, what it was going to allow to happen in parks across the province of Ontario and how that policy was halted in its tracks by the member for Niagara Falls when he was the Minister of Natural Resources and how as a result we have purer uses of those lands.
We do not have mining that is going to be allowed in those parks. we do not have logging that is going to be allowed within the boundaries of those parks, we do not have some of the multiple uses within park land that were entertained and allowed by the previous government. This is why we want to be sure that, as much as possible, we retain this land in its pristine state, as it is in a pristine state in many cases now.
I was a teacher in my previous incarnation and one of the great advantages I saw of this. particularly when I was taken through the lands by those who are in the forefront of the campaign to retain these lands, was the opportunity to utilize these lands for educational purposes. outdoor education where somebody did not have to drive a few hundred miles but simply less than 100 miles, and probably less than 50 miles for most people in the greater Toronto area, to see an area of this kind, to expose the children in the education system, and indeed adults in education systems and adults as part of clubs, to what wildlife is all about, what green space is all about and the value of retaining it.
We in this party, we in the government of Ontario have given our commitment to preserve the Rouge area. We commend the member for Mississauga South for running quickly to jump on the bandwagon and we are always happy to have other people on the bandwagon, especially my friend the minister for Mississauga South -- let me correct that; she smiles as I say “minister” -- the member for Mississauga South, who has made a good speech today on this.
I guess I leave members pondering how many people in this House believe that, if the Progressive Conservative Party were in power. that resolution would be coming from a Progressive Conservative government. I leave members of the House with that particular thought and also with the thought that this --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon Mr Bradley: -- government is committed to preserving the Rouge area as the green space. as the wildlife area that all of us want to sec in the Metropolitan Toronto area and for the province of Ontario.
Mr Curling: This is a very special day for me. First, I should commend the member for Mississauga South for bringing forward this motion. But as members know, politics is the art of trying to convince people. especially the government of the day, of the right thing to do. So I want to commend the honourable member, as my colleague has previously said, for coming inside and seeing the light that we should preserve the Rouge Valley.
It is not a profound statement because we have been saying that for a very long time. We know the usefulness of the Rouge Valley, but somehow again, in its own indirect way, this government has allowed and made available an opposition day in order to give the opportunity for those to bring forward resolutions like these, even in a direction in which we ourselves can see some way that her direction is going in the right way. But we must be very, very careful in regard to this. because in this hurried fashion we are not quite sure if the honourable member for Mississauga South understands the entire implications or the entire complexity of preserving the Rouge.
I want to commend those who have carried that issue for a very long time, and two members are in the gallery who have carried this cause along. I am glad. I am hoping that some of that education is passed on to the members on the opposite side. I see that today some people feel that by putting on a T-shirt they are converted.
Interjection: A sweatshirt.
Mr Curling: Or a sweatshirt. They feel they have arrived.
It is almost like some I have seen -- and we welcome you in the Rouge Valley -- visiting there for about 15 minutes and saying, “I am convinced. I fully understand the Rouge Valley. I am completely” --
Mrs Marland: Oh no, I spent three hours in the rain.
Mr Curling: She corrected me. She said, “Three hours,” and then she is fully convinced of how they can resolve the Rouge Valley.
That brings me to the point of the $10 million. which members are quite familiar with. Again, here comes an election and the federal Progressive Conservative Party feels that it could, in a sense, with an idea of putting in $10 million, convince those there to vote for the Conservative Party. It did not work. As a matter of fact, we in Scarborough North maybe felt that we should have done more. It is quite possible Tom McMillan felt that this was a last deathbed repentance in regard to the environment, that he could have done this. However, we know where Tommy McMillan is today. That did not work at all.
I want to get hack to the point of commending those two individuals, especially in Scarborough North, who have fought very actively to bring forward the issue of the Rouge Valley. As members know. Jim Robb and Glenn DeBearemaeker have done a tremendous job in educating us there.
There is also the Save the Rouge Valley System, which members know was created in 1975 by a group of really concerned citizens. They continued to be concerned about the fear that the Rouge would be in danger of being lost through a not really planned and thought-through process. They have brought the issue so forward that we today are able to deal with it in a very intelligent manner. The Rouge Valley Foundation too was established in 1984 to create and operate a fund to support projects aimed at enhancing the Rouge’s natural environment.
We should not play politics with this issue. I do not have a long history of polities in this place and I am glad for that because this issue is an emotional issue. It is an issue that concerns us all. It is an issue that our children will be dealing with if we have dealt with it in a bad way or if we have dealt with it in a good way. I know that this government is committed to preserving the Rouge Valley.
Mrs Marland: We’ll see at a quarter to six.
Mr Curling: We will not be pushed in any way to address the Rouge Valley without making sure that all the other issues are looked at very seriously. I spoke to the honourable member who, I can tell members, has been converted and I think she is very much on side. I am very impressed with the quick knowledge and the quick briefing that she has shown, that commitment to the environment now. I am not quite whether she was there at the time when her government, her party, was in power. I just would have hoped that when they acquired these lands -- in 1976, as my colleague told me -- that they would have had the foresight to develop the preservation there. Now we are, I would say, burdened with the aspect of acquiring and doing things at a much more expensive rate. The democratic process has its way of resolving things and I am so happy that people saw fit in 1985 to put a government in place that can address these issues.
Nature has always been referred to as Mother Nature, and we know we do not abuse our mother, but somehow in the years that have passed by the abuse to nature, to this universe has been done by governments and individuals. We think we must put a stop to that. We must put a stop to it and first educate ourselves about what we are doing wrong. How can we redirect our purpose in making sure that this environment is clean? Again, I refer to the fact that as we bring the converted and convert more on side, we have a great hope of redeeming back this global, this wonderful place that God has given.
As the member for Scarborough North, I have, as I have indicated, a very strong interest in the future of the Rouge Valley. I have discussed the Rouge Valley with many individuals in my constituency and outside of the constituency.
As a matter of fact, the Rouge Valley is being debated as an international issue. I have read in many magazines where people have known about the Rouge Valley. It is an issue which touches everyone very deeply. Many want to see the Rouge continue to be preserved as a green space area. Many enjoy the area for walks and recreational activity. I am sympathetic to those who advocate the preservation of the Rouge. I too, as I have said, support the need to preserve this unique area.
The Premier, on many, many occasions, as members can recall, has stated emphatically that he is committed to the preservation of the Rouge and its importance to the future generation. Each day questions are asked in the House, “Are you committed, Premier, to the preservation of the Rouge?” He has said over and over, that yes, he is committed. And this government is committed to preserving the Rouge.
This government also recognizes there is a need to consult with the surrounding municipalities and the public on this issue. Many of my colleagues would like to go right ahead and then live with the regrets of an unplanned and not carefully thought through process.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Why don’t you say what you mean? You haven’t said anything in the whole 10 minutes you’ve been up.
Mr Curling: My colleague from the official opposition would like us to jump ahead without thinking it through properly.
I note the significance, of course, of Scarborough council in the planning of the Rouge lands. The member for Mississauga South spoke about executive housing -- I think that is what she said –
Mrs Marland: Estate housing, three-acre lots probably.
Mr Curling: -- estate housing that, if I recall, the mayor at the time was advocating very strongly be placed there. When it was not politically feasible for her, the tone changed. I am glad. I am very impressed and very glad of that.
When we spoke about affordable housing, the members of the New Democratic Party talked so strongly about building affordable housing and asked what we were doing with those lands up there. We said we would take a very serious look at that area. Today the member is saying we want to build affordable housing. We are an open government. We put the issues out there for debate and discussion and because we said that area would be looked at. they are all jumping up and down asking whether we are going to put in affordable housing and are we going to put in roads. All these things are being discussed and being studied.
The Rouge area is a valuable recreation resource for Scarborough residents. There are people who would like to see large recreational complexes in certain areas of the Rouge; others seek to minimize active recreational facilities in the Rouge. Most agree that a system of recreation and hiking trails is desirable. You heard my colleague the Minister of the Environment state that. The Metro Toronto and Region Conservation Authority has already provided numerous trails in the lower Rouge and there are pressures for recreational development on the Rouge which will require very careful consultation with municipalities and the residents in the area. A recreational master plan could be developed for consultation. This recreational plan would recognize the current uses of the Rouge area, such as the Metro Toronto Zoo. This facility attracts large numbers of students, parents and children every year. All uses of the Rouge will have to take into account and balance these current and future needs.
I stand today proud to know, as I said before, that the Rouge Valley is in the hands of a very responsible government and very responsible ministers who are looking at it from all aspects. Mr Speaker, you realize the credentials and the track record of our Minister of the Environment. We know he will look at it very seriously. We also see the concerns that we have about building roads. At one stage, on many, many days and oftentimes in this House I hear members talking about transportation and the roads that are being clogged up. Again, their memories slip very quickly as soon as we bring it to light that we need to study where to put roads in order to move the people? The concern about putting a highway through the Rouge Valley is of concern to me also, a very serious concern, because we have to make sure that we do not damage the ecosystem within the Rouge.
We are not afraid to say that openly, we are not afraid to talk about the concerns we have about transportation and where we would like to put it.
We have to consider all options. But the members on the opposite side, in both the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party, think it is politically expedient to speak against anything we say and just to act quickly and to be on side or quickly put a sweatshirt on and say. “I am now converted and go right ahead and do that.”
Sometimes the honourable members feel they have complete ownership of the environment or the ecosystem and we, who have taken, as I said, careful consideration of what direction we want logo, are considered as dragging our feet. We are not at all. If the Conservative Party, which, as I said, acquired these lands in 1976. was thinking about the environment, it would have done so. I cannot recall the New Democratic Party putting any great pressure on the government of the day to preserve the Rouge. Maybe they paid lip-service to it all, but we are moving; we are acting, we have done studies, we have looked at differ-ent alternatives about what should be done about the Rouge. We do not want to make mistakes to the point that they are irreversible, because much of the damage done by previous governments is irreversible or it would take a considerable amount of money to correct those faults.
I will not go through the various aspects of the Rouge and the richness it offers, because we have heard it many times, but I want to say to the honourable member for Mississauga South, who is not in the House now, that her motion is quite sensitive. Her motion has concerns. There are parts of it, of course, that I would say to myself are a little bit too hurried, because today we have to have alternatives and we have to have plans and directions in which we would like to go. Just to say save the Rouge, we wanted to know what we are saving, what will we be doing with it, before we decided that this itself is just more or less a political statement. We will not do things as have been previously done by other governments; we will do it in a way that is sensitive and will preserve the Rouge.
I want to say in ending, again, that those people who have continually fought the battle to bring the issue to the forefront, to educate our colleagues on the other side and also those of us on the side of the government, should continue their struggle. I think it is in good hands, because we are on the road, as we said, as the Premier said, to preserve the Rouge.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): I take it the member has something he would like to say to the House.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I thought I would get up and respond to the two Liberal members and to the member who initiated the discussion.
How can the member say that having deer on my sweater could possibly be a demonstration; especially a pregnant deer? I think this is unseemly of him.
I just want to say this is obviously the day for euphemism. This is the day for praising mother-hood and apple pie. The member for Scarborough North (Mr Curling) is now leaving before I can express my tirade against him. The vacuous pomposity which has issued forth from his mouth today is a bit timid if he is going to run out of the House at this stage.
I cannot believe what we have had here today so far. We have had a badly worded resolution, regrettably, because the intent was right, but the resolution has been badly worded, so it allows the Liberals to talk as if they are in favour of saving the Rouge. The member for Mississauga South has brought in a resolution, hopefully to try to put these guys on the block and find out exactly whether they are in favour of saving the Rouge or not, and what does she put down? She puts down language which basically makes it possible for the government to say, “We will save the valley, we will save the flood plains.” They are obligated to do so anyhow under law. Even they could not take away the valley.
The key issue about the surrounding acres of tableland, which will make the valley a good place ecologically in the future, that issue is being obfuscated. So they actually can get an ex-minister who has been put out to passive use, the member for Scarborough North, to getup and say that they are in favour of saving the Rouge Valley at the same time that he talks about a transportation corridor, the Ed Fulton memorial expressway, because if they put it through, that is what it will be. And not just the Ed Fulton memorial expressway, it will be the last Liberal they will elect in Scarborough, it will be the last Liberal they will elect in Pickering, if they put through that kind of desecration of this Carolinian forest. It is that simple.
For people who have been fighting this battle, who are in this House today, to hear the kind of vacuous pomposity we have had to suffer and making it sound as if this government is actually looking at solutions that are going to preserve the 10,700 acres that need to be preserved if we are going to keep that water fresh, if we are going to be able to preserve the various kinds of life that is in there at this point, must be insufferable for them.
The government may think that today has given it the opportunity, through euphemism, to blur the lines because of a badly worded resolution. but the real question that is being put very clearly and that it cannot avoid is. is it willing to save that Carolinian forest or not? Is it willing to save 10.700 and some acres as a minimum to saving that ecosystem? That is the real question that is there and that is this government’s problem.
Let’s just be frank about it. I think the Minister of Natural Resources past, now also out to passive use as his reward for his position on this, was very much in favour of preserving this entire area. I think the same probably goes for the Minister of the Environment, but I believe that the past Minister of Transportation and the past Minister of Housing are very much co-conspirators in trying to stop the preservation of any of the tablelands.
I think it is really interesting that Mr Lebovic. a well-known developer, can get access to the full cabinet, can come and make a pitch for using all these lands for development purposes. and that the government will not provide the save the Rouge group the opportunity to come and pitch its case. Mr Lebovic said that if he and others are not allowed to use the tablelands, he is going to put up signs saying. “This extra time it is taking you to get home is caused by the white-tailed deer.” Mr Lebovic -- and others, and I will come to this -- has extreme financial interest in having the government put through that E Fulton expressway for his development concerns north of the Rouge.
That is who the government is listening to. That is why the member for Scarborough North is able to getup in this House and make it sound like you can preserve the needed lands in the Rouge and have a transportation corridor going up through the edge of the Carolinian forest and perhaps even have a dump on the other side and have estate housing. It cannot be done. The members must first commit themselves to preserving that last refuge of Carolinian forest in this part of North America. That is what must be done first. and then the other issues dealt with afterwards.
The save the Rouge group has brought forward to this government and to the members in Scarborough long before now a plan for other arterial routes that could he used for the expansion of Highway 48 up through Markham, roads on the other side servicing the new community of Seaton that it decided will be developed on the old airport lands; they have provided some other alternatives that are safer ecologically than this one.
All of the members know that the plan for this expressway will destroy some wonderful. 300-year-old walnut trees, sycamore trees that we do not see growing any more. We have one example out here in our park north of this building, but the basic trees of the old Carolinian forest will be gone. Some of the best stand that is in this area is right in the way of Mr Fulton’s roadway. What is this roadway for? I do not know how many Liberal members have actually looked at the map and seen where this arterial road goes. it goes north to a supposed extension of Highway 407. which at this stage is not even planned to go that far.
There are many other routes that could be used to come down through that area. One has to then ask, ‘Well, what is the deal here?” I get pretty suspicious when I know that Mr Lebovic and Mr Muzzo and some others have access to cabinet members on a regular basis and Save the Rouge members do not. Then I start to hear that both of those gentlemen and other major developers have already bought up major portions of land above the supposed extension of Highway 407 and that is really what that arterial road is all about. That is what the Fulton expressway is really all about, and for that connection to those developers, on whom this Liberal Party is so reliant, they are willing to sacrifice this last major refuge of Carolinian forest.
Let me put this in perspective, because I have heard some gobbledegook today about how pristine these Liberals are in comparison with the Tories in the past. I am not one who is going to say the Tories did much to save our environment in the province of Ontario beforehand, but all we have to do today is to fly into Toronto from the north, from the southwest, from the east, it does not matter, and what we see is the rape of some of the best agricultural land in the province of Ontario, an issue which we joined in 1975 to try to get some kind of sane legislation to control that development.
Instead, what do we see now? We just see uncontrolled development. And what is the development of? Is it of affordable housing? Mr Lebovic’s idea of affordable housing is $500,000 homes. If members think I am kidding, they should go and look at his last development that is right next to. backing up to. the area that we want to preserve in the Rouge. All those homes are in the $400,000 kind of range. That is not affordable housing.
These are huge lots, totally inefficient kind of lots for any kind of servicing that we would want in terms of schools or other kind of infrastructure. We are serving a new acquisitional elite in this province that wants megahomes. monster homes, to prove their status in society. We are willing to do it at the expense of some of the best farm land and now to even destroy an amazing little enclave of ecological purity.
Any members who have not visited the Rouge yet and gone down to look at the river will be stunned. You will be stunned. You can see the bottom and not see rubber tires. You see fish. You can actually see fish. You can see blue herons. You can see endangered species of hawks on a regular basis and then you can see developments which have been pushed back.
God knows how they got this agreement through the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. I am beginning to wonder about that conservation authority a great deal. As I understand it. they are selling off land in the Rouge itself these days.
We see them pushing back over the edge of the valley these developments, not preserving the kind of barrier of greenery that we would want between any kind of housing development nearby and this kind of very precious area. We see holding areas for storm water being used, which is a useful thing. We can all agree with this new technology, but it is being used at the expense of existing wetlands. Existing wetlands are being gutted. Wonderful areas for all sorts of plant life and animals and the whole food-chain support system, a glorious kind of region is just ripped up. somehow getting approvals by minis-tries, by the conservation authority and desecrating this area in an impossible fashion.
I say to the Liberals that if they do not understand at this point three vital symbols of their greenery, if they are really a green party in the sense of being interested in the environment, if they do not understand that Temagami, the Rouge and disappearing farm land are the three issues symbolic of whether a party is actually green or not green, they are in real problems, and even their massive majority will in the next election if they do not come to. grips with that soon.
There is no simple compromise between housing and the Rouge or a highway going through the edge of the Rouge, as it is planned at this point. That does not exist and allow them to still say they are environmentalists. They have to understand that. If they think the kind of battle that is being fought around Temagami is something, they should just wait until they try to put through Mr Fulton’s road.
Let me tell them, they have not yet seen in this province the kind of civil disobedience, if necessary, that this will engender. People feel passionately about this. They may not have felt it so far in the speeches because although it was a well-documented speech by the member for Mississauga South, it was a read speech; and then we get the pompous responses that we have had from the other side blurring the issue about what they are really in favour of. But the people feel passionate about this.
Mrs Marland: What is a read speech?
Mr R. F. Johnston: A read speech is one that was read, one that was written down and read. Because of that, because the honourable member wanted to cover all the good points, which was important for her to get on, it did not come through with the kind of passion that people feel and I am sure the member feels.
All I am saying to them is, if they do not think the millions of people who live in the Toronto area at this point, do not feel passionately about saving this important symbol for us and that’ we want access, but through public transit, to that kind of facility --
Mr Kerrio: You have stretched the truth out of all proportion.
Mr R. F. Johnston: What is stretching the truth? I am sure if the member wishes --
Mr Mahoney: It’s in his job description.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Now I understand why the member has been put out to pasture. He does not understand that this area has been recognized as one of the few areas which are in danger. It has been recognized internationally.
Mr Kerrio: Not the last? You said it was the last.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I am not talking about
that which the government has in a park at the moment and the small vestiges, but this area absolutely needs to be preserved. Where else is there around Metropolitan Toronto. where else is there in the greater Toronto area, the government’s greater tax area, that needs to be preserved in that kind of fashion?
That is exactly the point. This is the last place we have anything like this kind of greenery around here. and we have as much right to access to that as does somebody down in Point Pelee. People in our school systems have as much right to go out and see that living ecosystem as do people in southwestern Ontario. They have as much right to expect that outside of a museum as do other people in the province of Ontario.
If the member does not understand how important that is to us, let me tell him, the government will face the political consequences.
This area has in it an enormous number of archaeological sites, 63 are identified, a number of them highly important. As we know, this area was a major gathering place for Indians right from the post-glacial period in this area, and there are some very old sites that have been found. And yet, is this government playing with a dump site not too far from some of these existing archaeological finds? Is it actually talking about putting a dump site in this area?
We already know about the kind of soil that is in that area. We know about how quickly leachate would move down into this water system, and the government is playing around with a notion that should not even be considered.
Mr Faubert: No, that’s Metro.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The government is, absolutely. I know the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is going to say, “We’re not likely to do that.” In point of fact, the evidence is now so overwhelming that they probably will not do it; but that it was an intention and that it was something the government was thinking about is exactly the case and the member knows it.
Mr Faubert: Nonsense.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The member is going to want to try perhaps to play a political game and deflect people’s attention away from this by saying, “Oh well, see, we did not put the dump site there, but the highway itself isn’t going to cause a problem, and that needs to go through there.”
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere says that the highway of the member for Scarborough East (Mr Fulton) is not going to go through. Well, I am pleased to hear that, and I hope when the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere gets to the floor he will be a lot more precise than was the Minister of the Environment or the member for Scarborough North about how many hectares, how many acres the government is going to preserve and what he thinks should be the park land.
Mr Curling: How much are you going tot
Mr R. F. Johnston: We would preserve 10,740.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Minimum.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Minimum.
If the member wants to argue that case, then I think he is arguing with the preservation of the Rouge. It is that simple. For those people who want to make the argument to the Minister of Housing (Mr Sweeney) who has been sitting here throughout this tirade, I am amazed to see that this is necessary in terms of affordable housing. Then the only way they can make that argument is on the tradeoff argument, which is one I would hope this minister would not accept. That is to say, for a major development of estate housing on the tablelands, these developers will free up land in other places for the government to build affordable housing.
I think we are seeing example after example in the province now of just how that quid pro quo does not work out evenly for people who need assisted housing in the province of Ontario.
I would say to the minister that we should not get tricked into the thought that this is the sole way to preserve housing in the province of Ontario and to play a game which makes it sound like if we do not do it there on the tablelands, we will not do it anywhere. The government has its great Seaton up there. If they want to make it full of affordable housing, they can do it. But they will not do it in this area and they know that, when they know who the developer-players are in this particular issue.
I want to remind members of the Liberal Party that the Crombie commission was absolutely clear about what it said had to be done. The Crombie commission said specifically that this minimum amount of 10,700 or so acres must be preserved.
The members must also know, whether it is Mr Caccia, Mr Kaplan, Mr MacLaren, Mr Flis, Mr Nunziata, Mr Marchi, Mr Bevilacqua, or Miss Cools, Mr Davey and Mr Haidasz in terms of the Senate, that there is a list of their own federal Liberal colleagues, a large number of their federal colleagues, who have written a- letter saying that this minimum amount must be preserved. They are not equivocating on it. They understand that the tablelands are significant in this area and this government is not going to get away with pretending that they are not any longer.
The government of Ontario needs to under-stand that a resource such as this. Mr Speaker, accessible to a huge population area, including Metropolitan Toronto. areas far past your own riding in Oshawa -- that access to this kind of resource by public transit is what we should be aiming for. Development of alternatives to this kind of highway development is what we have to look at in terms of making sure we do not interrupt the viability of this ecosystem.
This government is no longer going to be able to pretend that it can do things both ways. I regret today it got a resolution which allows it to flim-flam a little bit on this, but the government should know that those people who are watching, not just in the gallery but all across Metropolitan Toronto, understand that this a vote-determining issue, that clarity is vital and that no messing around with this vital resource is going to be acceptable to any of us.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): The chair has been made aware, because it is a little hard to miss, that there are several members in the chamber this afternoon who are wearing what has been construed in the past as something that might be called a demonstration. I would ask you to look around the chamber and I think you will note, as I do, that there are members on all sides who are wearing buttons, T-shirts, sweatshirts or whatever.
This chair, in particular, feels a little self-conscious about ruling that someone cannot wear such religious garb as an Oshawa Generals hockey shirt in this chamber, but I am coming to the conclusion that it is getting just a touch out of hand. It would be unfair to interfere with this afternoon’s debate, and I certainly would not want to do that, but I do think the matter has been raised in such a proportion now that we will have to take it under consideration and give a ruling at a subsequent date. As gently as I could say that, it has now been said and members should be forewarned.
Mrs Cunningham: I am very pleased to support the motion put forth by my colleague the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) this afternoon and I welcome the opportunity to speak out on the issue of the Rouge Valley. It is a great concern to myself personally, my Progressive Conservative colleagues and to those throughout the province who wonder what kind of a world we are leaving for future generations.
I do not intend, however, to stand up and be totally negative around this issue or over-reactionary to some of the remarks that have been made in this House this afternoon. I realize, of course, that we need to say yes to progress and we also know there is a need to allocate land for a variety of uses. There is a need for affordable housing. There is a need for an expanded transportation corridor, and anyone who com-mutes to this city can attest to that.
However, with respect to the motion of my colleague the member for Mississauga South. I should say that given that approximately 90 per cent of the Rouge Valley lands are presently owned by the provincial government, I therefore think the vast decision-making on behalf of the protection of this wonderful piece of property is in the hands of this provincial government. I am just wondering if this afternoon government members will take an opportunity to stand and be counted with regard to this environmental issue. which it has become, and to speak out in favour of preserving their environment and supporting my colleague’s motion which says that, immediately, all appropriate steps must be taken to designate the Rouge Valley as a provincial park.
Given the comments that have been made already this afternoon, I am wondering where some of the members will be making a stand, and I am specifically speaking of the Minister of the Environment and the member for Scarborough North. I am certainly expecting they will be supporting this motion.
Toronto needs a location for a landfill site, and we recognize that. One of the city’s two waste disposal sites is closing soon, and the other will be at capacity by 1992. I know that at present no replacement site has been found and this city is headed towards a waste disposal crisis. We should be looking vigorously for answers. Metro needs a new waste disposal site and it needs an expansion to its eastern transportation corridor, and we know that it needs land for new affordable housing. So, naturally, the Rouge Valley table-lands look attractive.
The Metro council says that it does not want to vote on the proposed uses of the Rouge until the provincial government makes up its mind about just what it wants to do with almost 90 per cent of the Rouge which it owns. The provincial government, including the Premier, of course, has previously pledged to save the Rouge. People on Save the Rouge Valley System and those who are members of the Coalition of Scarborough Community Associations, plus citizens across this province and across this country ask the question, when’? When will this government replace these platitudes with policy? “I am committed to the Rouge.” What does that really mean? When will action replace rhetoric? The citizens of Ontario are fed up with rhetoric, especially the rhetoric of this Liberal government.
They are moaning today that the feds have committed $l0 million to park land. They are moaning about it. Can members imagine that’? They should forget it. The truth of the matter is. what has this government committed? They are making fun of an election promise. Which promise has this government kept? I mean, it is the last government that should be talking about election promises. The whole election next time out will be based on the broken promises of this government, so the government should not raise election promises with regard to the federal government in this House. They have committed $10 million to a park based on the action of the Liberal government of the province of Ontario, and right now it is all rhetoric and no action.
The member for Scarborough North, whom I admire greatly and have great affection for, and I will say that publicly, said. “We’re moving.” Then he said something that just about made me fall over: “We’re studying.” Boy, do I know about studying. We study everything. The Liberal government in Ontario studies and studies and never makes up its mind about anything, but it is committed to the environment. What environment? Certainly not the environment in the Rouge Valley; certainly not, or they would have spoken up already.
What is there to study? We already know what happens out there. We know we do not have enough green space. We know that we are so fortunate in this province to have some green space and some spaces that we should be preserving for certain, and especially this small piece of land in Scarborough.
There is nothing to study. Everybody knows we are short of green space. The government has an opportunity. I tell them: “Jump on it. Forget the studies. Do something about it. Put forth your $10 million, but for Heaven’s sake, do not tell people you are studying it.” Everybody knows there are deer and water and plants and trees and the whole bit. Study’? Boy, this Liberal government can certainly study.
Then, “the way of the past.” That was the best line of the day. I get sick of it. The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario built the provincial park system in this province. For 42 years they have supported provincial parks, and now they are saying. “Let’s have another one where it’s really needed, in a big area of Metropolitan Toronto which has very little left for our young people.”
I grew up in this city. I know all about the parks anti the green space that used to be here. I know about parks that were turned into housing and other things that were felt very necessary. and maybe they were. But boy, we have run out of green space. I tell the government, do something about it.
“The past; the Progressive Conservative government did not do anything.” Do you know what, Mr Speaker? No government, no federal government and no provincial government in the history of this country has done enough to save the environment. Nobody has; not just the Progressive Conservatives; not just the federal Liberals, by the way. We have not done enough to preserve the environment. Now we have a chance to do something. And what are we doing? We are going to study it.
The young people of this province must be fed up with the leaders they have chosen. There will be a nice switch next time, thank goodness. and yes, we will put our money where our mouth is and we will seriously consider preserving our environment. “Way of the past;” why do we not talk about the future?
Why do we not talk about the future? This government breaks its promises and then blames the governments of the past for its inaction. All of us have the responsibility. We were all part of this decision-making. This is a democracy, and the Liberals, the New Democratic Party and the Conservatives were all in this House and we all worked towards good decision-making. You win a few, you lose a few, but what we should be talking about is the future. Where is the vision for planning in the greater Metropolitan Toronto area? Where is it’? Where is the vision?
If there were any vision, the government members would not be wasting their money on studies. They would be putting their money towards preserving the environment, making it cleaner, making the air safer, saving the deer, saving our rivers, looking at the chemicals that we put on our grass. I do not know the answer to that, the overflow in the grasses in Scarborough, where the members live. They should take a look at it and tell us how we can improve upon it. They should put money into that. How can we have nice lawns without ruining our environment? Those are the issues we should be talking about.
Mr Curling: That’s a study.
Mr Miller: Don’t study it.
Mrs Cunningham: Do not study it? That is exactly what we should be studying, not a green space that is environmentally sound and safe now, but we are ruining it. That is exactly what we should be studying, the chemicals we use on our grass. not an environmental area like the Rouge. We already know it is safe, it is beautiful and we have to keep it that way.
We are always talking in this House too much about the past and not enough about the future. I know that one of my colleagues would have loved to have been here today. He so much wanted to put a statement on the Rouge Valley as part of the record. I would like to read the statement from my colleague the member for Markham (Mr Cousens).
He says that the Rouge Valley system is the last natural wildlife habitat in Metropolitan Toronto and it grieves him to know that the Liberal government has entertained thoughts of destroying this ecological system. He is not here, but he put his words to print so that all of the people of Ontario. if they want to, can read them. He put a lot of thought into this statement and I would appreciate the members listening to it. because it is from the bottom of his heart.
“Current plans for housing, waste disposal sites and/or a transportation corridor are truly unacceptable. All members of this Legislature should realize that the preservation of the Rouge Valley system is not simply a Metro Toronto issue; it is a matter that has national, and indeed international, ramifications. The federal government has made clear its commitment to the Rouge and has hacked up that commitment with financial resources, an election promise which it will keep.
“Members of our party have consistently argued that the system be deemed a natural heritage park. On 22 June of this year. the Ontario Legislature gave unanimous approval to my resolution.” that is, the resolution of the member for Markham. “calling on the Ministry of Transportation to revise its plans for an east Metro transportation corridor in a manner that would ensure environmental protection of the Rouge. This government can no longer remain silent on its plans for the Rouge Valley. It can no longer deny the overwhelming support for the preservation of the Rouge Valley.
“I take pride in continuing the fight, along with my caucus colleagues, to ensure that the Rouge Valley remains a testament to the province, the nation and the world of our respect for the last vestige of nature in the heart of a world-class urban centre.”
We have a wonderful opportunity today to make a statement to our young people about the preservation of our environment. I hope every-body in this House does it.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): We are continuing the business for Monday 20 November on opposition day, Mrs Marland’s resolution.
Continuing in rotation, the honourable member for Peterborough.
Mr Adams: Like my colleagues the member for Scarborough North and the Minister of the Environment, I am very pleased that the member for Mississauga South has chosen to use this opposition day to draw attention to the Rouge and what it means in this province.
As many of my colleagues on this side of the House would like to speak on this important issue, one of the more useful things that I can do, as the parliamentary assistant to the the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley), is to try and put on the record some facts about the importance of the Rouge in this province, in this continent and in the global system, and also to try to lower the tone of the rhetoric which we are hearing here this afternoon in order that we can consider the real situation, not these flights of words that we have been hearing from some members of the opposition.
I appreciate their concern and emotion for this issue, but there are some facts which should be before us. As at least one of the members has said, the Rouge has been designated as being environmentally significant for a variety of reasons. In fact, it has been so designated by a variety of agencies, including the province of Ontario. It has been said to be significant for 75 species of breedings birds, 35 species of fish, 16 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles, 37 species of invertebrates and over 440 native species of plants. We are aware of those designations on this side of the House, we are very conscious of them and of their importance.
This has been mentioned, but not in this tone: We are also aware of the fact that many hundreds and thousands of the acres that we are talking about are already in fact protected. The Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority has already been mentioned. It currently owns more than 2,200 acres in the Rouge. Those acres are already protected. In addition to those which are owned in Metro itself, the province owns 507 acres of the Little Rouge and another 905 acres of the Little Rouge are in private hands.
The much larger Rouge Valley itself is owned by a combination of the Metro Toronto conservation authority and private owners. For example, the conservation authority owns the Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area, which is in that valley, that is 267 acres, and the Milne Conservation Area, which is another 392 acres, and the Lake St George Conservation Area, which is another 319 acres. These are acres, and you can add those together, many thousands of acres, which are already protected.
For example, the Lake St George Conservation Area has been used these many years by students of all ages, from the youngest elementary school students to PhD students for study within easy reach of Toronto and year-round, winter and summer alike. This is a highly important area and many parts of this area are already protected.
Let me, Mr Speaker, give you some examples of these designated important natural areas which are within the area which is already protected. An example is the lower Rouge marshes. This contains the largest marsh and a noteworthy white oak and red oak valley slope area, the most noteworthy in Metro, which is already protected. The significant biology there includes a provincially-rare species, the shy bullrush. You did not realize, Mr Speaker, that a bullrush could be shy. This particular species apparently is. There are 27 regionally-rare species in this particular area, a number of birds and also a number of fish. So that is one area, the lower Rouge marshes.
The central Rouge River and the Little Rouge Creek, another of the areas which has been recognized as being important, is already protected. Here again we have the shy bullrush, which I mentioned before, and 26 regionally-rare species. One of the members mentioned a rare hawk. The hawk concerned, the provincially-rare hawk, is the red-shouldered hawk and what is rare about it is not the fact that it exists in the province, but that it only breeds in certain areas. This protected area that I am mentioning is one of the areas in which it does breed, in which it is already protected. Large parts of the Rouge are on the standard migratory routes for hawks of all sorts, so they pass through, but this particular rare one already nests and it should be protected and is being protected in this particular area.
Not only do birds migrate through this area, but so of course do fish, and this particular one, the central Rouge River and the Little Rouge Creek, already protected. are existing and potential migratory Salmonidae net fishery areas, so fish pass through there too.
Also protected we have, in that same area, the Whitby formation, with the fossils associated with it. I know, Mr Speaker, how interested you are in geology, and these particular shales are very important, of very high significance in the province, and they are already protected.
I could say similar things about the Rouge River-Finch meander and Morningside creek area. Similarly for deer, again for the red-shouldered hawk and for fish migrations, already protected, and we know how important they are environmentally.
Someone said: “Why more study? Why not make this a provincial park?” In fact, the member for Mississauga South said, “Make it a provincial park.” You know, Mr Speaker, as do I, that there is a variety of provincial parks. In fact, there are six major types, and each of those types, like the conservation authorities, is a special way of protecting a part of our environment.
We have, for example, wilderness parks, like Quetico Provincial Park or Polar Bear Provincial Park. They are special parks without trails, specially designated so that people can truly get into the wilderness. Is that what we want here? Do we want trails and do we want people to see these rare species?
We have nature reserve parks for people who want to view natural land forms. ljust mentioned these important shales. People actually want to see them. There are 68 nature reserve parks for the very special purpose of preserving natural features; not so much for tourists, but for preserving them.
One of the members mentioned archaeological sites. We have historical provincial parks. They are specially designated for historical purposes. Is this what we want here?
We have also natural environment parks and waterway parks.
The study is necessary in order that when we do preserve these features which the member for Mississauga South is so rightly interested in, we do it properly and we have a plan which will last not just for a few years, facing up to the development that is going on around these areas, but which will last truly for generations and centuries.
I would say this: (1) large amounts of these lands are already protected; (2) the government is examining a number of management options -- and so it should -- including options of the provincial park nature; and (3) as my colleagues have said, this government is committed to preserve the Rouge.
Ms Bryden: I am very pleased to join in this debate. It is a historic debate on our most unique natural resource and wilderness area in the province, I would say, and is certainly very important to the people of Metropolitan Toronto and beyond.
I have visited the Rouge Valley and the lands around it on many occasions and I know what an important place it is for the conservation and
protection of our wildlife, our migratory bird routes, our fish-spawning streams, our opportunities to see deer close to the city of Toronto. It is also a very rich archeological and cultural heritage part of our area, having many remnants of early settlers in this area and many remnants of the native people who moved into the area.
It is absolutely incredible to think that any government would consider building six- to eight-lane speedways through this area or even close to it. You have to think what that kind of traffic would do to the natural wildlife and the uses of people who want to get into a wilderness area and all the flora and fauna that have developed there. It would absolutely make it impossible for most of those things to continue to exist because the streams would be polluted, the roads would be noisy, the salt from the roads would be flowing into the streams and there would be a great disruption of the area.
So I think any government that is looking at marrying this kind of an area with eight-lane or six-lane highways needs its head examined. You just cannot do it. I am afraid that one of the problems in this area is that the former Minister of Transportation, the member for Scarborough East has been promoting outdated highway plans for providing road access to this area. I understand that when he was a member of the Scarborough council, before he was elected to this House, he opposed any highway development through the area. He was aware that it would destroy this beautiful wilderness area and that it would destroy the famous stand of Carolinian trees there, and that stand is one of the really unique things in Ontario. There are only a few of them left in the whole of Canada. I have seen a video which shows that not only the Carolinian forests are being cut down there by developers, but also 100-year-old oak trees, which are worth thousands of dollars per square foot. are being cut down. For what are they being cut down? For luxury homes and for space around those luxury homes.
Any government that considers that it can match and marry its mandate to preserve this priceless wilderness area with letting developers build huge estates and homes with an acre, an acre and a half, or two acres of land surrounding them, is really asking for criticism. A government which allows this is forfeiting the support of the people who believe that a government has a mandate to preserve forests of this sort for future generations. It has a mandate to preserve areas of this sort for the present recreational needs of the thousands of people in this area, particularly with all the new people moving into Toronto and region.
It has a mandate to preserve both the tablelands and the valley. As my colleague mentioned, I think the motion should have included the words. preservation of the tablelands” because the tablelands are where you can put the recreational developments. The tablelands are where you can put a multiple-use park which will provide for both active and passive recreation, and the tablelands are what will form the barrier to intrusion in this wilderness area.
So I am really surprised that during the three years when I was the critic for Transportation that the Minister of Transportation never changed his plans to try and put a road through part of the tableland and adjacent to the valley, a road which would link Highway 404 and the proposed Highway 407. Highway 407 is still one of the gleams in the eye of the government, but to try to connect those two right through the sensitive area that comprises this tableland and valley land would be extremely disadvantageous to the area and would really reduce its opportunity to serve the people and the future generations of this province.
As Mr Crombie, the royal commissioner on planning for the future of the Metropolitan area summed it up so well, this area has 16 environmentally sensitive areas. Let me just read to members a little of what he said in his report. David Crombie in his interim report of August 1989 said:
“Protection of the Rouge Valley and adjacent tablelands would be the benchmark to guide restoration of other river valleys such as the Don or the Humber. Conversely, if strong action is not taken now to remove threats to the Rouge, it could deteriorate to the state of the other two.
“The Rouge Valley has an impressive environmental profile: it contains many rare species, valuable fish spawning grounds, a major bird migratory route, a provincially significant wet-land, Metro’s largest remaining continuous forest, 16 environmentally significant areas,” as I mentioned.
For those reasons, the Rouge Valley should be considered very important politically to any government that recognizes that the majority of the population of this province puts pollution control and environmental conservation as its first priorities.
The government must recognize that it is not just a minor issue. Last May. the support group that is trying to mobilize public opinion in favour of the Rouge Valley system and in favour of protecting it had literally thousands of people come out to its May moveathon. These people indicated their support for preserving and protecting the Rouge Valley and its tablelands.
In fact, governments at all levels -- federal, provincial, municipal and regional -- have all expressed support for what appears to be the only solution, and the only solution to this problem of protecting unique areas such as this appears to be the establishment of a federal-provincial national heritage park.
Even the Premier has given lipservice to such an idea. The federal government has given not much more than lipservice with a very small grant. All levels in this region, all the provincial governments, the regional governments and various ratepayers associations such as the Coalition of Scarborough Community Associations have all said this is the only answer to protecting this area.
Why is the Minister of Transportation still sticking to his outdated plans and not planning a new and alternative route for that link between Highway 404 and Highway 407?
It looks to me as if he has done what too many of the members of the government opposite are doing. They are getting into bed with the developers. They are finding that they can accommodate or think they can accommodate developers in this priceless land and still keep their transportation systems available to permit the developers to expand even further.
In the last two or three years, under this Liberal government, some developers have obtained land in the tablelands around the valley. They are building $1-million and $1.5-million homes and estates. Once they have the land under their control they can do what they want with it. They never should have been let in in the first place.
There must be a stop to this kind of alienation of the tablelands. but we do not see any signs of it from the Liberal government. Mr Crombie put a stop on the waterfront lands and I think he would go along with a stop on the development of the tablelands in the valley.
If we are going to have any sort of proper land use development in this area, the province has to take its responsibility and help to develop a plan that will suit all the groups that are concerned. but we do not see any sign of that planning from the government and we certainly did not see it from the former Minister of Transportation.
The new Minister of Transportation. the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr Wrye). Also has not indicated any desire or willingness to sit down and do this kind of planning for the area in the transportation field. That is what he should be doing in his new portfolio.
He should be trying to find an alternative route for that connecting link and he should be looking very closely at that connecting link that the member for Scarborough East (Mr Fulton) was promoting, because it was not just to be a connecting link between 404 and 407; it was planned as a possible northern development beyond the Rouge Valley for further development, to make it more profitable for developers to buy up land there -- many of them have already bought up land there -- and to provide them with road access to their developments when they get them completed.
Again, it indicates very clearly to us on this side that the Liberal government is tied in with developers and gives them first priority on our very precious, environmentally sensitive land and our very precious agricultural land.
We in the city of Toronto and in Metropolitan Toronto feel that our heritage is being eroded by this kind of policy. We do not see any overall provincial plan or joint plan of all the governments in the area. This is what is making people very concerned about the kind of government we seem to have got since the Liberals took over. We had hoped there would be a new look at the planning process and a new look at seeing needs are met for recreation, for affordable housing and for the development of our unique resources.
Time is running out and we hope that by the conclusion of this debate, we will have convinced all the ministers who are concerned with this plan that they should go back to the drawing board and start to provide us with a plan that will enable all the users of this land to enjoy its benefits. This is what we hope the result of this debate will be.
I would like to congratulate the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) for bringing the motion forward to get us talking about it again, but we do think we should put in the tablelands as well as the valley lands.
I hope we will get the message across to the Liberal government that it has a long way to go if it is going to get any reputation for preserving the environment and for protecting our valuable forest and resource land in this province.
Mr Faubert: I am delighted to again rise to speak on the importance of preserving the Rouge W lands. I believe the member for Mississauga South has performed a service by bringing forward this resolution today, and in spite of its weaknesses and some of its errors in wording, I think it is worthy of support.
I believe that the issue is of such importance –
Hon Mr Bradley: She is supporting our position.
Mr Faubert: Okay, she is supporting our position; we will put that forth.
I believe this issue is of such importance that it transcends partisan views and interests. I person-ally will continue to support every effort to ensure that the Rouge is preserved for future generations.
Last June, on the resolution by the member for Markham, people have asked, “What was your position on that?” I clearly put forward my very clear position and said, “I can assure the member for Markham” -- I am reading from Hansard of that date – “and all members of the Legislature that I would be opposed to any proposal, be it a dump, housing or a freeway,” that would violate directly this government’s direction and its direct commitment to preserve the Rouge Valley.”
The interesting thing is that when I consider the environmental, historical, cultural and archaelogical significance of these lands. I do not hesitate to advise the House, as I pointed out, that I would not support any such initiative. Fortunately, my views are supported by the Minister of the Environment and indeed by the Premier, who time and time again have assured this House and the people of Ontario of their commitment to save the Rouge.
In response to a question that was raised in the Legislature the Premier responded: “We have said from the beginning and will continue to say that the Rouge will be preserved. Lest there be any misunderstanding, the Rouge will be preserved.”
That being said, I would like to turn to the resolution before us. It is unfortunate, because amendments should be made but under standing order 42(d) obviously you cannot amend a motion that is put forward on this. The motion must stand on its own merits.
Mr Curling: We cannot even improve it.
Mr Faubert: We cannot even improve it. I know there are flaws. Perhaps they come from a lack of knowledge or just a quick drafting of it or a combination of the two, but I think they are significant.
Hon Mr Bradley: It is hard to draft it and run to catch the bandwagon.
Mr Faubert: That is right.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Faubert: On many occasions I have met with the Save the Rouge Valley representatives and I have had the pleasure of presenting resolutions and petitions that they have put together on their behalf. As well, they have a reasonable position that has been supported by the Coalition of Scarborugh Community Associations. Their goal is to preserve the Rouge lands and to ensure they are preserved and protected. They are to be commended for that goal.
It is a goal that I know is shared by our Premier and endorsed by this government and I believe it is a goal that this resolution is attempting to achieve. However, the resolution as it is worded falls somewhat short of the goal because I know that anyone who has ever stepped foot in the Rouge will know that you cannot just declare the Rouge Valley to be a provincial park, for that would be disastrous to the long-term survival of the Rouge tablelands. if the sensitive areas of the tablelands, and indeed the full upstream water-shed, are destroyed or left unprotected. then the Rouge Valley itself would surely be threatened and clearly this would be unacceptable.
I believe the proposal put forward by the Save the Rouge Valley System representatives is a valid one and my personal position is to preserve as large a park area as is being proposed and as large a park area as is feasible.
Once again, I would point out, in response to the member for Scarborough West (Mr R. F. Johnston), and indeed the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden), who just love to bring the conspiracy of the development interests into this argument, where I stand on this issue. I would point out, as I also pointed out in the Hansard of 22 June, that there are clear alternatives being proposed to the east Metro transportation corridor and I think those are the options that are under examination now and those are the options that indeed should be supported.
Mr Villeneuve: Those were Ed Fulton’s. were they’?
Mr Faubert: They were not the former minister’s.
Mr Mahoney: Be nice.
Mr Faubert: I am trying to be nice. Okay.
As outlined by the member for Peterborough (Mr Adams), one of the great difficulties we have here is whether this resolution locks the provincial government into a provincial park when there are many other alternatives that could be put forward. There could be a joint national-provincial park. which warrants consideration. There could be some form of joint provincial-Metro park. There could be such thing as a park trust. All these not only have to be examined; these very clearly have to be negotiated.
The member for Mississauga South, in her press conference this morning, claimed that the provincial government can unilaterally create a park without any further consultation with the affected municipalities. I would like to point out one of the great problems that we have, in spite of the statement of the member for Mississauga South. She said that Metro has spoken on it. There is an official plan amendment from the city of Scarborough, of November 1988, and there is a clear statement opposed to the Metro transportation corridor, of 1987, and on those there is no action yet by the Metropolitan government. I am quite surprised that someone would say that we should move ahead unilaterally without hearing from the region that is most affected by this. Clearly the planning authorities lie with the local councils, which have made their position very clear, but also with the regional governments.
What about the regions of Durham and York’? They have not yet commented, in spite of the proposal put forward. Markham has put forward a resolution, but its resolution clearly leaves a lot to be desired because it is only talking about a very minor buffer zone related to this.
Mr D. S. Cooke: What is your position. Frank?
Mr Curling: He told you.
Mr Faubert: I told the member; unfortunately, he was not in the House at the time.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I heard you, but I didn’t --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Faubert: I said that this decision is too important and should be removed from the arena of partisan gamesmanship. lean agree with some of the statements put forward on the necessity of preserving the Rouge, and even on some of the positions put forward by the member for Scarborough West, but I would point out that we must understand that there are many options lobe examined within this.
One thing I want to put on the record while I have a chance is the comment related to the $10 million from the federal government. Actually, the value of the lands in the Rouge is estimated. and I will say this, conservatively at $2.4 billion. and when you put it in that perspective, one can see that the $10 million offered by the federal government makes a nice down payment on some form of intergovernmental co-operation on the development of a park. But they keep telling us, “The cheque is in the mail.”
Mr D. S. Cooke: How is that relevant?
Mr Faubert: I think it is very relevant because everyone keeps talking about the aspect of how the federal government has already encouraged this.
In closing -- I would like to leave a little time for the member for Mississauga West (Mr Mahoney) -- I would like to encourage members of this House to support the resolution.
Mr Breaugh: A long time ago, before I came to this place, I served on the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority. At that time, we were just beginning to have a thing called a region of Durham. Much of what was presented to us was to try to establish, from a planning point of view, a distinct region, not one that was part of Metropolitan Toronto but one that would stand by itself, where people could see a distinct difference in reality, not in theory, not in plan but in reality, as you left the region known as Metropolitan Toronto and entered a region called Durham. Much pressure in fact was put on the region at that time to try to establish those things which would make it clearly a different planning area.
I recall that on the conservation authority and the regional council we did an inventory of the number of projects that were being proposed at that time by different levels of government that would have an impact on that concept. At that time, our list ran to about 95 different proposals by different levels of government that would make it very difficult to create a separate entity called the region of Durham, but in our cataloguing of what was happening there were also several things that stood out as being clearly worth preserving. One of those was the Rouge Valley.
There was not a need to examine or determine precisely what kind of acreage was involved in that, there was not a need to establish what kind of wildlife would be preserved, there was not a need to establish whether there was a crying need to have a provincial park, but there were several things that became very obvious to all of us who were concerned. We had at that time reached a critical stage. It is now almost two decades later, so the crisis is perhaps a little more pronounced.
We still have, and this is the amazing thing that I find, a chance. The question is whether governments at all levels are prepared to do what they know ought to be done. It is not really apparent yet that they are. That is the tragedy of it all.
I have listened to the debate this afternoon and it has been an interesting one. Here is my version of who did what. I think that the previous government. to give it some credit, did some things, got it started in a way that was critical at the time. It set up a notion of conservation authorities, which I thought, having served on one, was a good idea. I was impressed with the work that Metro did, that the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority did and that several others have done since then. I am chagrined at some of the work that is being done by conservation authorities these days.
I would like to know why a number of conservation authorities are selling off land that they bought with public funds -- and they made the argument at the time -- because they were lands that were critical to the preservation of conservation in Ontario. That is why they purchased those properties. They did so with public funds and I supported that motion. Now I find conservation authorities, including the one on which I served, proposing to sell off land for development. That does not work, in my view.
If a conservation authority decided some years ago that it was a reasonable thing to do to spend public money to acquire property because of its sensitive nature, its nature is still as sensitive now. Of all the things that we set out to do with conservation authorities, and there are a lot of valid jobs put on their backs and I know the financial problem they have got, it was not to address other needs in our community. The reason for a special purpose agency is clear: to conserve and to protect those things that, if we lose them now, we cannot get back. That is what this process is about.
Two decades ago, in my mind it was clear that the Rouge Valley -- all of it, almost 11.000 acres near one of our largest urban centres in Canada -- needed to be preserved in total. No weaseling around the edges, no consideration of it for other purposes -- in total. It was clear tome then, as it is clear to me now. This is not the place to talk about building roads, not here. This is not a place to talk about solving other problems that we have, not here. This is not a place that we can ever get back. If it goes, it is gone for ever and there are no replacements available.
There are some, I know, who will argue that, “We’ll build land spits out into Lake Ontario and if people want to see fish they can go out there,” or “We’ll conduct guided tours along the lake,” or, “We’ll show them photographs of different birds and animals and trees, so they can see that,” or I suppose we are not tar now from somebody actually suggesting that the province of Ontario pave the Rouge Valley one day and then build a Rouge Valley the next day. It is almost technically possible to do that these days, that someone will come up with a domed-stadium concept for the environment and in that huge domed stadium will be preserved all of the animals that are living free now in the Rouge Valley. We are about a step away from that kind of stupidity.
The reason I say we are a step away -- I hope we are not there yet -- is that I see that in other jurisdictions which have unilaterally and stupidly destroyed their environment and now perhaps feel guilty about it and are trying to re-create the environment, someplace where the little kiddies can go to actually see what a bird looks like. someplace where they can see what other tropical animals look like, some laboratory where they can go and see what a tree is like. It might be a matter of necessity in some other jurisdictions to do that. They do not have the options that we have.
It is remarkable -- this is something that strikes me a lot -- that adjacent to a city like Metropolitan Toronto there is a site like the Rouge Valley. I find it absolutely remarkable that through every-thing mankind has tried to do to our environment, it resists. It has fought off pollution of all kinds, it has fought off governments of all kinds, it has fought off every stupid proposal that people could ever think of. It is still there.
If you want to see what might be there, do not go all the way to the Rouge Valley. just go to the Don Valley. Take a look at that valley, which is not dissimilar to the Rouge, and see what mankind has done for it. Take a look at the water that is there. For God’s sake, do not try to drink it, do not try to have anything live in it, but just smell the stink of that water and you will see what people are talking about here. See what it is like to build an expressway up a valley system, see what happens with it. See what happens when you permit the encroachment of housing on to a valley system. It is all there. If you want to compare the two things, you do not even have to leave the boundaries of Metropolitan Toronto. You can look at the Don Valley. you can look over at the Humber River site and you can gee what a big city environment does to nature. It cripples it, it kills it.
We are now beginning to think about trying to recover things like the Don Valley. It would be a great asset. I admit, it would be an invaluable thing for our society if we could use all of this technology that for years and years has destroyed the environment around us to recover it. But I have no illusions that anybody is going to save the Don River system without spending billions of tax dollars to do so. I am one of those who would say that is a worthwhile expenditure. but it sure is expensive. Why, in God’s name, would you move a few miles further cast and allow the destruction of the kind of site that is there in the Rouge River system. now when it will not cost a dime to say no? it will simply take political will to say no.
I have been in politics long enough to listen to the discussions that make building a road system through this kind of site eminently reasonable. All I am saying and others are saying now is fine. people have a right to their opinion, but it is our responsibility to ourselves and to the people we represent to protect those things around us that are worth protecting, like this site. Now is the only time in the history of the world when we can protect that site for absolutely no dollars. All it takes is brains and the political fortitude to say no. If people talk to the government about the need for a transportation system. as I do regularly, I do not mean build a road through this valley or intruding on the valley or intruding on the tablelands, because it does not have to do that. This government and the previous government ought to know those things. That is why they are governments.
I harangued this government, as I did the previous government, about the need for afford-able housing. It is a crime that people are living this winter in this city in cardboard boxes, but they are. But the government is not going to help them out by destroying the Rouge River system. and it should not confuse the two. There is a crying need for affordable housing, but do not anybody be so stupid as to think that the kind of mansions that are built near the Rouge system now are affordable housing. They are not by anybody’s standards. Nor should the Rouge be the private preserve of those who happen to be fortunate enough to live near it. It should be -- and it is now -- in public hands.
Here is the tragedy of what is being discussed in this chamber this afternoon. We are not talking about some big ogre of a private company destroying a system. We are not talking about spending billions of tax dollars to reclaim this land system. We are not even talking this afternoon of having to spend millions and millions of dollars to buy the land and put it in public hands. ‘[hose things are all not up for consideration. We own, by and large, the site now, it has withstood the purge of development for a long time. All we have to do is say: “That is because that is exactly what we wanted to happen there. That is because that is exactly the kind of site we wanted to keep. That is because we understand the fragile nature of our environment.” If we do. let’s just stop a little of the advertising program about the environment. If you need money somewhere else, take it out of there. Let’s take our children out to the Rouge and let them see what is already there. Let’s not build them a domed stadium about the environment. Let’s use the one that is already there.
So for 20 years many of us on all sides of the chamber, I hope, have been concerned about this valley system and have been aware of the value of it. It is in public ownership now. The irony, of course, is that it is not being threatened by some evil conglomerate from Philadelphia; it is being threatened by us at all levels.
All it takes to stop this nonsense is for us in politics at the municipal, regional, provincial and federal levels to say: “Hold it. We have made a lot of really stupid errors in our lifetime over things that have been done that should not have happened, and we have learned from the Don Valley, we have learned from our past political mistakes not to make them again.” Let’s go and make some new political mistakes. Let’s at least be creative about it, and let us do what this motion calls for us to do this afternoon. Stop haggling around the edges. Stop complaining about whether it is 4,000, 5,000, 10,000 or how many acres. We know that. Stop arguing about the value of it, stop arguing about who has influence over what.
This is something that ought to transcend the differences in all of the political parties and it ought to transcend the differences at all levels of politics, because it is a basic thing. It is about the survival of this planet. It can be done and it should be done. The tragedy is that it remains to be seen whether it will be done. That is part of our decision.
Mr Mahoney: I am very pleased, in the short time I have, to tell the member for Mississauga South that this is the first time, I think, since about 1984 that we will wind up on the same side of an issue.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Now she knows for sure she has worded the motion wrongly.
Mr Mahoney: That was actually my point. The fact that it allows some members on this side of the House to vote for it probably means that it was not worded in the fashion of condemning the government for doing something that would forte us not to support it.
I have a concern though. Mr Speaker, you will know that the member for Mississauga South is wearing this T-shirt which is very nice and says, “Save the Rouge Valley System.” but I am concerned about what it says on the back. I think she has a new image: “Wild in the City.” I am a little concerned, and it is a little scary.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I guess you do not know her then.
Mr Mahoney: Oh. I know her quite well, but “Wild in the City” would not be my description.
I would like to say I am supportive of the resolution. It is funny, actually, how I find that the opposition cannot take yes for an answer. We have had people standing up here saying that they support the intent, saying they support the motion. We have government saying that it is prepared to save the Rouge, and yet we hear all these protests. I mean, they simply cannot take yes for an answer, and I do not quite understand that.
I would like to put a few comments on the record in the short time that I have. The Premier announced recently four steps that this govern-ment will take. The first, the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Sweeney) has declared a provincial interest under the Planning Act in the lands and water lots in the area bounded by Yonge Street, Lakeshore Boulevard, Ashbridges Bay and the lake, not including the Tommy Thompson Park, which is already the subject of an environmental assessment. This declaration will allow the province to prevent any major development in the area until it can be deter-mined what is appropriate for the people and for the environment.
The government has endorsed the interim report of the Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront. We have given David Crombie a mandate to report to the province on waterfront development issues along the entire western basin of Lake Ontario from the eastern boundary of Durham region to the western boundary of Halton. The province agrees with the royal commission’s recommendation to undertake an environmental evaluation of lands owned by the Toronto Harbour Commission and adjacent provincial lands in the area between Yonge Street and Ashbridges Bay.
The government has asked the commission to recommend ways of linking and integrating the waterfront to the upstream watershed through the greater Toronto area, and Mr Crombie has said on numerous occasions and I quote: “I have said on numerous occasions that no one level of government alone can solve all the issues related to the development of the waterfront in the public interest. This new provincial mandate added to the federal mandate is a very strong signal of federal-provincial co-operation on these matters.”
People are saying it is not the Rouge. Clearly it is government policy. We have said it about the Rouge, and we are going further than that in trying to identify concerns of waterfront issues. In fact, the member for St Andrew-St Patrick has been appointed by the Premier to develop greater Toronto greenlands strategy. He will identify plans to protect in perpetuity the river valleys, the headwaters of Lake Ontario in the GTA, and he will make recommendations in co-operation with the royal commission.
The Premier has said he expects him to recommend a greening strategy to protect the natural landscape along the waterways from Oak Ridges Marine to the lake. I have heard the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr Faubert) very eloquently and clearly put his position on the record. I think the government’s position is clear and I am in support of the member’s motion.
Mr Brandt: I welcome this opportunity to make some comments with respect to the motion put forward by my colleague the member for Mississauga South and I want to say without any equivocation whatever that this motion is, in fact, supported 100 per cent by every member of our party and hopefully will be supported by all of the members of the Legislative Assembly.
Let me make the point at the outset in response to the member for Mississauga West (Mr Mahoney), who says that the members of our party, and in particular my colleague the member for Mississauga South, cannot take yes for an answer. The reality is we want to make sure that when the members opposite say yes, they say yes in fact to the preservation of the Rouge Valley lands as we want to preserve them: in a pristine state and without the type of development that may encroach or may be negotiated or may in fact be part and parcel of the thinking of some members over there who would want to perhaps alter, amend or change this resolution to satisfy their own needs or the direction in which they may wish to go at some future point.
We want to be very specific about the fact that the Rouge lands, all 10.700 acres, should be preserved against the kind of development that has been spoken about so eloquently by many other speakers.
Let me say that when we discussed this whole question of why this particular sensitive parcel of land should be retained in perpetuity as a provincial park. it really in fact centres on a key point that I want every member of this Legislature to think about for just a few moments, and that is: What kind of a legacy do we as members of the provincial Legislature of Ontario want to leave for our children? Do we in fact want to leave another road? Do we want to leave another municipal landfill site? Do we want to leave a few dozen homes that someone can point to as having encroached on this particular parcel of land? Is that in fact the legacy that we are talking about? I think not.
Quite frankly, I think if you were to look into the heart of hearts of the members who sit around this assembly, they would say that this very critically sensitive piece of land should be preserved for the future generations of not only the people of Metropolitan Toronto but the people of all of Ontario, and, I might say, people from across Canada as well.
Certainly the members of my party believe in the need for, and the requirement of. the government to be involved in the development of low-cost housing. But that is not what is going to occur if the Rouge is allowed to be developed on these particular lands. We know full well that low-cost housing will not be in fact part of those developments. They will be very large and very expensive homes. We know as well that our transportation problems, which are in fact very severe in the Metro area, are not going to be solved by plowing another roadway through these particular lands, and we know as well that the solution to the garbage crisis in the Metro Toronto area is in fact not going to be solved by using the Rouge as a dump site.
So I want to say that the reason I want to speak as forcefully as I can in connection with this particular question is that the Rouge lands are in fact unique. If we accept that in our own minds, if we understand that to be the case, then we realize that the fight is to not allow development in that particular area.
The Rouge lands are in fact an oasis of wilderness in the city that cannot be duplicated or replaced. We cannot simply shift this particular parcel of land somewhere else as we might be able to a building lot or we might be able to in terms of a municipal landfill site or in fact a road. Those things can be shifted. The Rouge lands cannot be shifted.
Once we build either houses or roads or a transportation system in any way that will be disruptive to the Rouge, I tell members, we can never ever reclaim those lands again. That is the problem. Once gone, they are lost for ever.
In the limited time that is available to me, let me ask the members of this assembly to go back in their own minds to the year 1975. In 1975, the government of the day made a commitment to the environment of tomorrow. They made a commitment to the ecosystem of this province and particularly in the most populated area of the province with the greatest growth pressures. They said by the purchase of these lands at this particular time we will in fact preserve a piece of our environment for the future of our citizens of today and our children of tomorrow.
If members look back at the climate of 1975, and as one who has served in the capacity of Minister of the Environment for the province of Ontario for two years, I want to say to them that with each passing year that I have been associated with this question of environmental issues, there has been a better understanding; there has been a clear appreciation and a more sensitive feeling, if you will, for environmental questions because we frankly know more about it today.
We know the destruction that has been brought about by various societies in the past and we understand full well that we cannot simply rewind the clock and turn it back. It cannot happen that way. That is why we have landfill sites today that have to be dealt with, that is why we have rivers that are polluted and that is why we have various environmental problems that have to be dealt with, I say to the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr Elston), by jurisdictions right across North America and, frankly, right across the world.
The minister should not point his finger. because in 1975 the most progressive environmental step perhaps ever taken by the province of Ontario was taken by a Conservative government, and it was taken at that time, I say to my friends, in an attempt to put us in a position where we could make today, in 1989, a very intelligent decision, an intelligent decision which is based not on the cost, I might add, of purchasing these lands but simply on the cost of preserving these lands.
The government at least has an issue here that it can deal with in a fundamentally sound way which is also a way in which the environment is truly and completely and fully recognized.
It is easy to point fingers, as members of the government are wont to do on occasion. It is easy to condemn others and perhaps to take what may be the easy way out, but I say to the members that the government today has an opportunity to act. The government has a responsibility to act, to fulfil the commitment made by a previous government in 1975.
There was no intention in 1975. as the members know full well, to allow for the development of that 10,700 acres. There was no intention at that time to simply watch the Rouge Valley paced off for various types of other activities.
David Suzuki said with respect to the Rouge that areas like the Rouge are beyond price, and I agree. To purchase those lands today on the part of this provincial government would be an absolutely overwhelming amount of money. The decision, in fact, would be extremely difficult.
But has this government acted? Has it in fact picked up the gauntlet from those who came before it? Has it moved forward environmentally to recognize the very sensitive nature of these particular lands? No. it has not. I say to the members very directly, supporting this resolution is only the first step. The next step is the commitment.
Where do we stand with respect to the federal government on this issue? I am going to be somewhat critical of my federal colleagues with respect to the commitment made to date of $10 million, because I have been asked by those who recognize that a commitment to preserve the Rouge is a commitment to spend dollars on the environment of the future if the $10 million is sufficient. I say to my friends opposite a resounding no, it is not enough.
I will go to bat with the federal government and I will fight on this government’s side to get more money to be put into the Rouge because we, collectively, have to have a commitment to that particular parcel of land.
Mr South: Andy for leader.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Brandt: But if the government is going to use the inadequacy of the $10 million as a means of ducking the principal issue before us. then I have to say that is the coward’s way out. If I were in the government at this particular point in time, there would be no question whatever in my mind about the preservation of the Rouge.
Hon Mr Elston: Can this be 13 May 1990? It looks like he’s warming up for 13 May 1990.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Brandt: There would be no question that I would join hands with the federal government and march forward at this point with $10 million today and hopefully another $10 million tomorrow, or whatever it takes.
Hon Mr Elston: They are going backwards. Every time you turn around, those guys are cutting off another program.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr Brandt: It must be feeding time over there. I notice the hour is getting close to six o’clock and some of the members are agitated.
Maybe they are agitated because they do not like hearing the truth. The truth is, I have to tell members, the government has made no commitment. It has done nothing other than give lipservice to the preservation of the most environmentally sensitive and important piece of land in the entire Metro area, if not in the entire province of Ontario.
Now is the time to act, not just talk.
Hon Mr Elston: That’s leadership talk if I’ve ever heard it.
Mr Curling: I hope you’re running.
Hon Mr Bradley: Andy. I’m going to send a cheque after that.
Mr Brandt: I happen to have one right here. The Deputy Speaker: Order. Order. This completes the debate on Mrs Marland’s opposition day resolution.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 1757.