36th Parliament, 1st Session

L098 - Wed 25 Sep 1996 / Mer 25 Sep 1996















































The House met at 1334.



The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I would like to inform the members that the Clerk of the House has received a letter from the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Honourable Allan K. McLean, which I would ask him to read to the House.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers):

"September 25, 1996

"Mr Claude DesRosiers

"Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

"Room 104

"Legislative Building

"Toronto, Ontario

"M7A 1A2

"Dear Mr DesRosiers:

"Today, I have requested the Clerk, Mr Claude DesRosiers, to convey my alarm and concern for the wellbeing of my colleagues on both sides of the House. They collectively represent the wishes of the people of Ontario and they should not be prevented nor distracted from carrying out their duties.

"Unfortunately, the allegations made against my person are still far from reaching a proper hearing. I am convinced, after this matter has received proper arbitration, the presumption of wrongdoing will have been eliminated.

"Because of my deep respect for the responsibilities of the office I hold and the absolute necessity that the affairs of the Legislature not be delayed, I have reluctantly concluded my resignation is the only reasonable alternative.

"I regret to inform the members of the provincial Legislature of my decision to step down as your Speaker. My resignation becomes effective Thursday, September 26, 1996.


"Al McLean


"Ontario Legislature."



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Contrary to what the Minister of Northern Development and Mines said on Focus Ontario, Sudburians and northerners do not want a ribbon-cutting minister who hands out $100 cheques.

Minister, what we need is for this government to give us a health services restructuring plan that meets the needs of Sudburians and northeastern Ontarians, not the Thunder Bay blunt-axe approach.

We need the province to share in the funding for the Centre for Life project. We need funding for the regional cancer centres throughout northern Ontario. We need funding for the simulator for Science North. We need the northern support grant to be entrenched in provincial legislation.

We need a minister who relocates his deputy minister to Sudbury to operate this northern ministry out of the north by a northerner. We need a minister who protects and fights for Sudburians and northerners around the cabinet table. We need a minister who knows that Sudbury isn't a town, as he referred to it on Focus Ontario, that it was incorporated in 1930 and became a part of the region in 1973.

Keep your ribbon-cutting ceremonies, Mr Minister. Keep your $100 cheques. Give Sudburians and northerners what we need, what we deserve and what we're paying for.

Give us a minister who knows and cares about the north. Give us a minister who is a leader, not a follower. Give us a minister who is a voice for the north. Give us a minister who will fight for fair representation for northern Ontario within the newly defined Tory Ontario. Give us hope.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): The family support plan is in crisis and the Attorney General and the minister responsible for women's issues should admit it.

As a direct result of this Conservative government's decision to close eight regional FSP offices and lay off 290 staff, women and children who did receive support payments on a regular basis are now not. The problem is not long-standing, nor is it the fault of a computer. The fact that families are not receiving moneys they are legally entitled to has everything to do with the conscious decision made by the Attorney General to finance the tax cut on the backs of these women and children.

There are now 50 FSP cases in my office. Beginning on August 20, we faxed inquiries on these to Michael Pengelly, MPP contact in the minister's office, at his request. Of the 18 inquiries sent to him, we never received one response. On September 6, we were told by the director of FSP to fax inquiries to FSP directly. Since then, we've received eight responses and still have 42 constituents on whose behalf we can't get an answer.

If the Attorney General was truly concerned with finding a positive solution to the crisis that he's created, he'd do the following: Firstly, he'd reopen the eight regional FSP offices and restore the direct access women and children had to FSP staff; secondly, he'd rehire the 290 staff he laid off who had the knowledge and experience to deal with these cases; and finally, he'd admit that it's his fault, and no one else's, that women and children who were receiving cheques on a regular basis are now not.



Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): The Renfrew Victoria Hospital will serve as one of only 13 sites chosen by the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation to participate in the national performance indicator project. In this pilot, Renfrew Victoria Hospital will help establish methods of developing and monitoring standards for hospitals. They will do this by evaluating six generic quality indicators.

Where quality is concerned, the Renfrew Victoria Hospital has earned its stripes. It was awarded a four-year accreditation by the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation, something only three rural hospitals in Canada have managed to accomplish.

In another rare feat, Renfrew Victoria was recognized by the Canadian College of Health Service Executives and 3M Canada for significant achievement in the delivery of health care. Thanks to the haemodialysis team, which has received strong support from our Ministry of Health, Renfrew was the first rural hospital to every receive that accolade.

The fact that we have one of the best acute care hospitals is due in no small part to Renfrew Victoria's executive director, Randy Penney, and the health care professionals who have worked to establish standards of service. I congratulate them all.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): We all know that northern Ontario is about to face even a smaller number of MPPs. The number of MPPs in northern Ontario will yet be reduced. I have a copy of what Mr Harris called A Voice for the North, where he indicated a number of things that he was going to do for northern Ontario. But not anywhere in that document can I find that he was going to reduce the northerners' voice at Queen's Park.

The number one issue raised as I travelled the riding over the summer was that of unemployment in northern Ontario, which has reached 10.6%. Northerners are looking to this government to provide some leadership, something we've seen lacking in northern Ontario since this government took power over a year ago. Instead of Premier Harris reducing the northern representation here at Queen's Park, which he is planning to do, we are looking for him to deal with problems in the areas where we are affected in the north, in terms of health care, education, natural resources and the environment. We want to know what his plans are to reduce the unemployment rate. We want to see results from his commitment, the commitment he gave northerners during the last campaign.

Mr Premier, northern Ontario does have the potential to be one of the most prosperous regions in Canada and we are looking to you to ensure that we get what we deserve in northern Ontario for that to happen.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): The recent announcement of this government to build its superjails is the most foolhardy venture we've heard of yet. Mark my words, at the end of the day it's going to mean higher costs for taxpayers in this province. It's going to mean putting prisoners and inmates and workers in those correctional centres, correctional officers, at risk. There is going to be bloodshed as a result of this proposal.

It's not about saving money; it's about this government's obsession with Toronto and its complete ignorance about the realities of Ontario outside the city of Toronto. Nothing could be more illustrative than its proposal to shut down the Niagara Detention Centre, one of the newest detention centres in the province and one of the most efficient. The Niagara Detention Centre, which services the two judicial districts in Niagara region, Niagara North and Niagara South, at a cost of $88 per day per offender, among the most efficient in the province, among the newest, among the most modern and best staffed, is scheduled to be shut down and turned into some sort of warehousing the upkeep of which no municipality down there can afford to take up.

This government doesn't understand that the Niagara Detention Centre provides community-based rehabilitation and counselling and support for the inmates and prisoners being detained there. This government has lumped the Niagara Detention Centre in with a number of facilities which may well require addressing, but which have nothing in common with the NDC. I am calling upon the four Tory members, along with my colleague from St Catharines, Mr Bradley, to join me in persuading this minister that he's wrong -- dead wrong -- and he's going to have a price to pay.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): I would like to extend my congratulations to the Italian community in Scarborough for hosting its fifth annual Scarborough Italfest. The 1996 Italfest also coincides with the West Scarborough Neighbourhood Centre's 40th birthday and the city of Scarborough's 200th anniversary. I would like to extend my congratulations and best wishes to them all.

The Italian community in Scarborough has worked hard to put together another full schedule of activities. I would like to recognize their efforts and wish them much success as this week's events unfold.

Italian residents in Scarborough are an important part of our community. They, along with many other immigrants, make up our very diverse Scarborough community. All of these ethnic groups contribute through their art, culture and food to the diversity of the city and our everyday lives. This Italian festival in particular gives the entire Scarborough community an opportunity to experience them as people, artists and athletes.

Immigrants to the province of Ontario are one of the most valuable resources. I come from a family of immigrants. My wife is an immigrant, and so was my father. I would like to extend my thanks to all of the immigrants of Ontario, especially those of Italian heritage who reside in Scarborough and whose tremendous efforts make the Scarborough Italfest as popular as it is.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): May I begin today with a question to the House: Is there anyone in the House who is not aware of the significant doctor shortage in Windsor? You absolutely must be, because it's been going on for months now.

We have a particular problem with obstetrics. We are having a great deal of difficulty finding OBs for women who are having babies. This is a very serious problem. I understand that the minister cannot have a baby. I do expect the women in the Tory caucus to make their Minister of Health aware of how significant an issue this is. We have women who are at risk -- heart problems; now they're having babies. These women need prenatal care and we're having a terrible time organizing OBs for these women.

Let me tell you that we have now turned to our American friends to see if they can somehow take our patients on. Is the minister prepared to deal with this? Apparently so. Does he realize that women, Canadians with landed immigrant status, need to access a visitor's visa in order to go across the border to deliver a baby? Is he aware that once the babies are born -- are they Americans? Are they Canadians? The US immigration officials do not want to hear from us, because I can tell you it is simply going to be a wrangled mess. Let me tell you the difficulty in having these babies obtain OHIP numbers once they're born over there, again something that will take months. And who is going to pick up all the various costs associated with these delays?

Apparently, the minister is prepared to pay US$6,000 to have a baby delivered there, compared to our $1,200. He's also prepared to pay $12,000 if it happens to be a C-section.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member's time has expired.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I see that the new Minister of the Environment is in the House today. I want to welcome him to his new position and let him know that he can count on the support of the NDP caucus should he take any actions that actually improve Ontario's environmental protection.

After hearing the former minister go on about how she wasn't going to do anything about vehicle emissions and smog because people wanted government out of their face, we now hear some positive rumblings from the new minister about vehicle emissions testing. We'll need to wait and see what kind of shape the program takes, but I can assure the minister that we expect action.

I'll say this: No one with any concern for our environment will spend any time bemoaning the loss of the last minister, whose record for decimating environmental protection is without parallel. But only a fool would believe that is the reason the Premier replaced her. Let's be frank. The Premier put the new minister in place in the mistaken belief that he can do a better job of defending this government's environmental agenda, which as far as I and an increasing number of Ontarians can tell, consists purely of appeasing their big business friends.

I believe the reason the previous minister had such a hard time defending the government record is because the record is indefensible. If the role of the new minister doesn't involve some positive action and continues to be to carry out the agenda of the Premier's office to destroy what protective framework we have left, let me assure the minister that he will have every bit as tough a time as the last one. That's a promise, Norm.



Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I am very happy to tell everyone in the House about some very exciting developments that took place in Sarnia over the summer. Despite being a major player in the Ontario economy and the petrochemical centre of Canada, with five refineries and 17 chemical plants in the Chemical Valley, we have experienced many years of downsizing. But that's changing somewhat. Now construction and chemical industry employees have something to cheer about.

Nova Chemicals and Bayer, two world-class petrochemical companies, have shown their confidence in the Sarnia area by launching major expansions. Nova has begun a $25-million expansion leading to more ethylene production, and Bayer is constructing two new production units worth $15 million; these will produce 2,000 tonnes of nickel hydroxide and 1,200 tonnes of tungsten carbide per year.

This means jobs, increased prosperity and the real hope of further expansion and investment in this important industry in Ontario and in my riding. This means a better future for Ontario and for the families in the Sarnia area. I couldn't be happier than that.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is to the minister who is responsible for creating an obstetrical crisis in the province of Ontario. Minister, in the past few months, 1,365 expectant mothers, many of whom are classified as high-risk pregnancies, have been forced to call the emergency number of the College of Physicians and Surgeons because they could not find a local doctor willing to deliver their babies -- 1,365 pregnant women, Minister, who are anxious and fearful because they can't find a doctor, and that number is growing literally every hour. Something that is supposed to be a blessed event is turning into a nightmare in the lives of these women.

Minister, I ask you today, where have you been and what have you been doing while this crisis is building? How is it possible that you didn't even get around to appointing a negotiating team until yesterday?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I thank the honourable member for the question on behalf of the women and children of this province. We're very concerned about this situation, and this government took the only action that's been taken in the last 10 years on the fee schedule when we gave obstetricians a 30% raise on April 1. Today, obstetricians in this province, if they do an average of 165 births per year, which is the average, are $14,000 per obstetrician better off than they were when this government took office a year ago, and we have the highest-paid in Canada. So we're doing everything we can on the money side. I can't think of any other group out there in any sector that's received a raise in the last year, especially a significant raise to that extent.

Second, delivery of births, whether done by obstetricians or any other physician in this province, is exempt from the threshold. You would think, if you wanted to make more money, you would actually double up the number of births you were doing; they're exempt from any threshold, which is much different than the thresholds and caps that exist in other provinces.

I must admit that I understand the frustration of many of the physicians, who have been frustrated for 10 to 15 years in this province, over three governments. I do not understand the obstetricians' frustration and why they're threatening to withdraw services in this province. I fully admit that given that we have addressed the fact that they were historically underpaid -- we raised their pay for a delivery based on a 10-year-old OMA report that we acted on in April -- and yet we still seem to find disgruntled obstetricians in this province. I'm doing everything I can. If the honourable member has further suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, I don't think you can bully doctors into delivering babies. We have a crisis for 1,365 pregnant women, at last count, who don't know who is going to deliver their babies and their deliveries are imminent.

There have been two constants about your handling of this crisis. The first constant is that you tend to give your reassurance that everything's going to be okay. The difference with your answer just now is that I didn't even hear that reassurance to the women who are out there. The second is that the list of pregnant women who don't know where they're going to get their babies delivered gets longer and longer by the hour.

Minister, you have created the crisis. You can give us all the historical statements you want to, but this crisis began to emerge when you made your power grab with Bill 26, when you opened up this Pandora's box while you grabbed for the power that you thought you needed to be able to manage the health care system.

When you were warned that this problem was going to develop, you could have rolled up your sleeves, you could have been working over the last months to find a solution to the crisis. You have done nothing but give glib answers to the women of this province, like going to the United States to get their babies delivered if they can't get their babies delivered in the province of Ontario. You may think that's an answer, Minister, but it is not an acceptable answer. It's not an acceptable answer for families in Windsor; it's not an acceptable answer for families in St Catharines; it is certainly not acceptable for people who are in Sudbury who certainly can't get to the United States to deliver their babies. I can tell you, it is an absolutely horrifying answer to give to women who may face early labour.

You said last spring that you didn't even think you were going to have a crisis for nine months. The months are ticking off. I ask you again what you are going to do to give some reassurance to women that there will be somebody here in Ontario who can deliver their babies. What are you telling women about who is going to deliver their babies this fall?

Hon Mr Wilson: I think what is wrong with this question is the attempt to unnecessarily worry pregnant women in this province.

I am not aware today, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons is not aware today, of women who after they've called the referral service that's been set up by the College of Physicians and Surgeons at the end of the day aren't able to get an obstetrician. If there are women, this government wants to know, the College of Physicians and Surgeons wants to know, and we want to help with all the resources available at our disposal to make sure women who are about to have a difficult birth and need an obstetrician receive an obstetrician.

But as I stand in my place, I am not aware of individual cases. If they've called the College of Physicians and Surgeons, or my office or any responsible MPP's office, they've been referred to the College of Physicians and Surgeons and so far they've been finding obstetricians, given that just over half of the obstetricians in the province are still receiving patients and providing services.

Again, if the honourable member knows of specific cases, I want to know of those specific cases and I want to help those women.

Mrs McLeod: What's wrong with your answer is that you don't seem to understand the reality of what these women are facing. Do I know a specific case? At last count I know 1,365 specific cases. Their names are available to you. They've been desperate enough to phone an emergency line to ask who is going to deliver their baby. Do they know whether or not they're going to be having a difficult labour? Not until they get into the labour rooms, Minister. What they need to know now, at this point in their pregnancy, is who is going to be there to deliver their babies.

We asked this question of you last spring, Minister. Since last spring we have now found that only 140 of Ontario's 500 obstetricians are taking on new patients. That's half the number that there were when we raised this question with you last spring. When we asked this question of you four months ago, you gave us essentially the same answer. Let me quote it, because you glibly said, "Let's not unnecessarily keep worrying the women of this province, who I'm sure have enough to think about during their pregnancy...." That was four months ago and those mothers that you didn't want to unnecessarily worry, and that the Premier still doesn't want to unnecessarily worry, are frightened, they are panicked, because they have no answers from you.

Minister, you might be on some kind of an infinite timetable, but I can tell you that those babies are not going to wait for you to get your act together.


I want you to give the women of this province, those pregnant women, the 1,365 women who don't know who's going to deliver their babies, an absolute guarantee that you will stand in your place today and tell them that they will get obstetrical care in their home communities in Ontario at the moment when they need it.

Hon Mr Wilson: I have made the commitment many times, and I'm very pleased to reiterate it today, that this government will do everything it can, and we'll be calling upon the federal government. If access is denied under the Canada Health Act, the federal government also has a responsibility to ensure that that clause of the Canada Health Act is upheld.

We are doing everything we can. We have, contrary to the tone of the honourable member's question, excellent goodwill on both sides --


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Excuse me. This is question period. I'd like to hear the questions and I'd like to hear the answers. Please allow it.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Tell them to give it back.

The Deputy Speaker: I will warn the member for Windsor-Sandwich only once, and I've done it.

Hon Mr Wilson: I would remind members of the statements made by the Ontario Medical Association and the Premier and myself just a couple of weeks ago when we indicated goodwill on both sides to try to come to some solutions with the concerns that the obstetricians have and the other specialists and the general and family practitioners in this province.

We'll be sitting down next week to begin a very serious round of negotiations, and I am very confident that we'll be able to address a number of these concerns and that women will receive the services that they need to receive, and that doctors will be pleased, I hope, with the progress we make at the negotiating table with the Ontario Medical Association.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is for the minister responsible for consumer protection. I'm sure you're aware of the practice of negative option billing. Can you assure this House that you're willing to take all the action necessary to put an end to this unfair and deceitful practice in the province of Ontario?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Obviously the member knows full well that the federal government has just dealt with this particular matter. What we have been looking at, to be honest, just recently I co-chaired a conference of the interprovincial ministers, along with the federal government, and we looked at a number of initiatives to increase consumer protection. I think part of what we're looking at is to get some sort of harmonization of consumer protection work across the country. This is the direction we're taking. We have looked at a lot of cooperation, and I think many measures, including this one, are things that we should look at to make sure the consumer is protected.

Mr Crozier: The minister should know that the action taken by the federal government involves only cable television. Just last week I, like tens of thousands of people in the province of Ontario, received a notice from my auto insurance company. I was told that unless I call my broker and cancel my existing insurance policy, I will automatically be put on an enhanced plan. Here's the notice. I assume that perhaps even you got one. Of course, nowhere in this notice does it tell me that this enhanced plan is going to cost $250 to $300 more than I would pay otherwise.

Thousands of consumers across the province are being forced to take this enhanced insurance automobile coverage without their consent. Do you think it's fair that they're going to be forced to pay for something they didn't ask for, do you condone this negative option billing, and what are you going to do about it?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Clearly the matter of negative billing is something we should be looking at in terms of consumer protection, but I might suggest that the member contact his broker and discuss the issue with him. Clearly the federal government, their cousins, have looked at this matter already, and they have also indicated federally that this is a matter that has actually sorted itself out with the consumer already.

They have taken some measures, and once again I can only say to the member that it's very important for us to work hand in hand with some sort of harmonized policy across this country to deal with these issues. Clearly we're moving in this direction, with the cooperation we've received from the other provinces, to make sure we do have better consumer protection across this country.

Mr Crozier: That answer isn't good enough. November 1 of this year, it says right here --


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. Please refrain from heckling.

Mr Crozier: Minister, I repeat, that answer isn't good enough, because we're five weeks away from your insurance policy premium going up. It says here in option 1, "Do nothing until your next policy renewal date." That's the first option they give. They don't give you the cheaper option first. They simply say don't do anything until your policy renews next year. You know what's going to happen, Minister, if you don't do anything? You're going to pay more. You're going to pay $250 or $300 more. The tactics used by the auto insurance companies as a direct result of your recent insurance reforms are so unfair that they make the cable companies blush because of the amount of money we're talking about.

I'm going to give you one more opportunity. I don't want to pay, nor does anyone else want to pay, $200 or $300 more beginning November 1. Are you going to do anything about it in the next five weeks to stop this negative option billing?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I think the member should perhaps refer to the transition rules and regulations with respect to the insurance changes, but certainly we are trying to make sure we bolster consumer protection in this province. Perhaps the member would refer to the insurance provisions. I think it might be very educational for him. Certainly we will look at any types of --


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The question has been asked. Please give the minister a chance to answer, and listen to the answer, please.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Perhaps, once again, the member can refer himself to the transition rules and procedures under the new insurance changes. I think it would be very enlightening for him. Certainly we will look at any type of means to look at consumer protection in this province. I think this is something we're very keen on.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Premier. Yesterday the Premier brushed off my questions about reports that Tory insiders were involved in the attempt to smear the complainant in the sexual harassment allegations against Speaker McLean.

Is the Premier aware that the media package distributed by Speaker McLean's lawyer and used to smear the complainant cites a senior adviser in your office, Scott Munnoch, as a reference? Did you approve in advance the involvement of a senior adviser to you in this effort by Speaker McLean to smear the reputation of the complainant in this case?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): No, and he was not involved.

Mr Hampton: I will send across to the Premier part of the smear package that was distributed around here. It very clearly identifies Scott Munnoch as an adviser in the Premier's office, as someone who can be relied upon to challenge the résumé. Would you take that over to the Premier?


I ask the Premier, have you or anyone else in your office discussed this with Scott Munnoch to determine whether his involvement in the smear campaign was improper or might tarnish the reputation of the Premier's office in the province of Ontario?

Hon Mr Harris: Yes, and he wasn't involved.

Mr Hampton: This is becoming characteristic of the Premier. He goes to England and tells everyone that Ontario has an excellent education system, then comes here and says it's not.

This is a publication put out by Speaker McLean's lawyer. It identifies someone in your office as someone who can be contacted to discredit the résumé of the complainant. How, Mr Premier, could that happen? How is it that someone who is a senior adviser in your office could have their name put down as a reference, "You can call this reference; this person will dispute the integrity of the résumé"? How is it that person's name could be put down on this smear campaign sheet without him knowing about it? Someone must have contacted him and he must have said, "Yes, you can rely upon me to dispute the integrity of this complainant." How could that happen?

Hon Mr Harris: You know not of what you speak.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. Just a minute. Please take your seat.

I'd like the House to recognize, in the Speaker's gallery, Mr Thomas G. Weston, chargé d'affaires of the Embassy of the United States of America; Mr Gregory Johnson, consul general of the United States Consulate General; and Frank Ostrander, economic and political officer, United States Consulate General.

Mr Hampton: Speaker, I'm asking you to stop the clock. This is the opposition's time, and it is quite unfair of you to use the opposition's time in this way.

The Acting Speaker: The question period is 60 minutes and we'll abide by that. Questions?

Mr Hampton: All right, we'll go at it again. I wonder if the Premier then can provide an explanation. This is a very detailed smear campaign. Several people are listed as people who can be relied upon to discredit Sandi Thompson. It was very carefully put together. Can the Premier explain how such a document, which was very carefully put together by the lawyer for Speaker McLean, could reference someone in your office without him knowing about it? Can you explain that?

Hon Mr Harris: I've told you everything I know. First of all, you're talking about a smear campaign about which I asked when I came back, and you brought it to my attention as well yesterday. I asked the staff why this wasn't brought to my attention. They said, "Because we've asked all the staff and there's absolutely no knowledge by any of our staff of any smear campaign."

I asked about it with specific reference to Mr Scott Munnoch. I understand he was contacted by an investigator, I'm not sure for which party, and told the investigator, as truthfully as he could, any information he had on previous working experience, I believe in Ottawa -- before he worked for me or in fact, I don't think he was involved in the provincial government -- with one of the parties involved.

To the best of my knowledge, that is all that I know, all that my staff know, and I would assure you -- and they all assure me -- that nobody's involved in any smear campaign. But they are available to respond to anyone, any investigator, including the Legislative Assembly, that wishes to talk to them about any knowledge they have. That is conducted to them under the rules that were set down, which I assure you, to the best of my knowledge have been followed by me, by all of our party, by all the members and indeed the members of the Legislature. If you are implying something other than that, you are 180 degrees in the wrong direction, you are off base, and your allegations not only are false, they are actually quite insulting.

Mr Hampton: Mr Munnoch may have come in contact with the complainant at some time in the past in some other job. The fact is that Mr Munnoch works in your office now. The fact is that a lawyer with the kind of experience of Mr Teplitsky would not put out this kind of document without phoning around and asking people: "Can we rely upon you to discredit Sandi Thompson? Can we rely upon you to discredit her résumé?" It is a fact -- it is here in writing -- that Scott Munnoch is listed as someone who can be relied upon to discredit Sandi Thompson and it is a fact that Scott Munnoch works in your office.

If you think someone just dreamt up this document, if you think someone just dreamt up Scott Munnoch's name, I don't think Mr Teplitsky believes that; I don't think anybody else believes that. How is it that someone in your office who works for you, a senior adviser, would put his name down as being a reference that could be relied upon to discredit Sandi Thompson? How is it that that could happen, Mr Premier?

Hon Mr Harris: Quite frankly, it did not happen. It could not happen and it did not happen. Mr Munnoch did not put his name down to be used as a reference. I can tell you this, that Mr Munnoch can be counted upon do this: to tell the truth.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Oriole.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Minister of Health.

Mr Hampton: I have another supplementary, I believe.

The Acting Speaker: Yes, you do. I apologize for that.

Mr Hampton: Can you tell us this then, Premier? Why did Mr Munnoch, when this was being circulated around Queen's Park, not right away call Mr Teplitsky? Why did he not publicly disavow this? Why did he not publicly dissociate himself from this immediately? There were, as I said, reports in the media that this was being done. We checked with the journalist yesterday and he insists his story is factual. When this was in the public press, when this smear campaign was being conducted, why did Mr Munnoch not immediately disavow any relationship with this? Why did he not come forward publicly and say: "I have no relationship with this. I am not associated with this. I want my name taken off of this"?

Hon Mr Harris: I think Mr Munnoch has done everything that is appropriate. He has responded to any questions that were directed his way by anyone involved in this, will continue to do so, will continue to tell the truth. Quite frankly, if you understand the procedures involved around the whole case, that is what we are all obligated to do, as I understand it, I believe in as non-public a way as is possible. Mr Munnoch has fulfilled that commitment, as I am told, in an honest, upfront and truthful way, which you may want to question -- I think the Speaker did you a favour by bypassing the last supplementary -- you might want to question in yourself.



Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Minister of Health. I had the opportunity to watch W5 on CTV news. I'm sure you're aware that the W5 story focused on the American firm National Medical Care Enterprises and, as Texas lawyer James Moriarty called it, "The best example of fraud in health care that there ever is going to be."

It's been estimated that the Ontario health insurance plan has paid close to $100 million to send Ontarians to the United States for unsatisfactory drug and alcohol abuse treatment. Almost $600 million has been recovered by the government of the United States and others in their actions against National Medical Care Enterprises and other American companies, and yet last night I witnessed you, our Minister of Health, say that you'd been advised that it would not make fiscal sense to launch an action against these American companies to recover OHIP funds for fraudulent claims.

Notwithstanding the fact that I believe it makes sense to spend $1 million to retrieve $100 million, I understand that Mr Moriarty and other American lawyers would be willing to represent OHIP on a contingency fee basis. He said, "It won't cost you a nickel." Will you swallow your pride? The statute of limitations runs out the end of November. Will you call up Mr Moriarty and take action against the fraudulent companies and save Ontario taxpayers the dollars they deserve to have saved?


Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): That member does not deserve applause. In 1989, when she and her government were in office and she was health minister, thousands of people were going to the United States to these illegitimate clinics and taxpayers were being ripped off. I will take the occasion to commend the NDP. When they were in government, they finally turned the tap off, in 1993. Neither of you bothered to sue for any money back.

I'm the only one on the public record who's taken three stabs at this. I've got three legal opinions here, two on contingency -- I'm sorry, two stabs at it, one in 1992 -- the same advice given to the previous ministers. Let me read you from the world's largest international law firm located in the United States, the very last lines:

"It is therefore our opinion it would not be worthwhile to pursue these claims. For these reasons, Baker and McKenzie" -- the name of the law firm -- "must decline to accept representation of OHIP on a contingency fee basis, but is ready and willing to represent OHIP on a standard hourly fee and expense basis."

Having said all this, because I too saw W5, I too was very disappointed in the Texas lawyer, Mr Moriarty and his comments about three different governments, frankly, so I challenged Mr Moriarty today to get up here next week on a plane and take this case on a contingency basis. He has accepted that challenge finally and he will be up here next week at his own expense.

Of course, if some major law firm wants to upfront the money to get back $85 million on behalf of Ontario taxpayers, as I told W5 in a 20-minute interview, I'd be happy to have any law firm in the world take on this case. Unfortunately, the three firms we've asked to date, which are the world's best at this, have said no.

Mrs Caplan: The fact is that this minister was told that he had a case and that it would cost him $1 million for the potential recovery of $100 million. He didn't think that made fiscal sense. I will tell him that the W5 story raised some serious questions regarding the management of OHIP and the minister's competence.

I've heard this Minister of Health and this government, over and over again, talk about fighting fraud in health care. I agree that we must attack fraud vigorously. We now have an example of clear-cut fraud and proof that we can recover millions of dollars. I have a copy of the letter from Mr Moriarty, the fact that he is coming and has said that there are many US law firms that would have worked on a contingency basis. I say to the minister his answer has been nonsense.

There's something else he should do. He should conduct an investigation into the management of OHIP practices because there are two important questions: First, was OHIP aware of the fraudulent claims against these firms and, if so, why did it keep paying? Secondly, according to W5, there was a $900-million increase in drug and alcohol treatment programs over a four-year period. Why did no one at OHIP investigate this? Will you begin action that will launch this investigation to make sure that the administration and management practices at OHIP are appropriate?

Hon Mr Wilson: I'll make one clarification to my previous comment. Mr Moriarty would only commit to come up here and consider taking the case on a contingency basis. He wouldn't even say yes, in spite of what he said to W5.

Secondly, I would be happy to release all the OHIP records approved by the Liberal government for the thousands of people who went down to these unreputable treatment centres and can assure you that beginning in 1993 the NDP turned the tap off on this. We have sent no one under this government, and no one since the NDP turned the tap off, down to any of these firms. One of our reinvestments is some several millions of dollars to repatriate 76 acquired-brain-injury people so they can get that service here with the experts in Ontario and not have to rely on US firms whose credibility is called into question. But if you'd like me to release your records, you give me written permission and I'd be happy to do that.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Attorney General. Yesterday we talked to you in this House, both opposition parties, about the destruction that you've wrought in the family support plan. Let us be very clear: We are talking about the problems of people who have never had problems receiving their support payments before, until you closed the regional offices, lost their records and set up a phone system no one can reach.

Having said that, I want to pursue the suggestion of the minister responsible for women's issues, who suggested that we bring cases to you here. I will do exactly that. The case I have is a woman named Lisa Wood-Gover, who lives in London, Ontario. She has two children. She's been on the family support plan for the last two years. She has never had a problem or a delay in receipt of her money. The last payment she had was made in August. She normally receives $550 a month. She's working really hard to stay off family allowance, but she's right at the line. She has not received a cent since the first of August. She has already incurred a $100 charge for an NSF cheque, which was for her mortgage payment. She couldn't make that mortgage payment, she has $80 in related legal fees because of that and she's afraid she's going to lose her house. What do you say to Lisa Wood-Gover?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I am not going to respond to any individual case. If the member wants to provide me with the details, I will look into it so that we can ensure the problem is solved. What I will say is that in today's Globe and Mail Robert Sheppard described the family support plan as a plan that has been "a total dog's breakfast from well before the Tories took over." I am determined that we will restructure the plan, that we will provide proper enforcement techniques and that we will make this plan, once and for all, the best family support plan in this country. I am not prepared, as other parties have been, to ignore these problems. They will be corrected and we will ensure that women and children are going to get a much fairer shake than they ever got before.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Sudbury East.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): To the minister, as I recall in your own business plan, you already said that this plan is the best anywhere in this country. All you've done by shutting down the offices and cutting off the staff is to ensure that women and children who regularly used to receive a cheque now don't. That's a fact. You may not want to hear about the cases, but I have 50 in my office and I'm going to give one to you today. So far, of the 18 we've sent to your MPP liaison, Mr Pengelly, we have received no response, and of the other, remaining cases, we have only received eight responses; 42 people still don't have a response in my office.


Here's one for you today: Louise Brunette. Last payment received: $486.22, on July 23, 1996. Her arrears now stand at $972.44. She usually receives a cheque once a month, by the 20th of every month. The employer of the payor garnished $486.22 from his paycheque on August 15, 1996. Louise Brunette has not received the August cheque, nor the September cheque. She's been with the family support plan for three years and has never had a payment problem until the cuts you made to the FSP. How do you explain to Louise Brunette today why it is she can't receive moneys that she's legally entitled to?

Hon Mr Harnick: Again, I am not going to respond to an individual case. I say to the member, if you provide me with the details, we will look into that case.

What I will say again is that you can criticize all you want what we are trying to do, but we will create a plan that will solve the problems that have been inherent in this plan for a long period of time, and we will create a plan where people have phone access, where people receive their cheques much more quickly than they've ever received them before, and we will correct the problems that have existed with this plan during the past --


The Acting Speaker: Order. Order, please. I ask for your cooperation. Order. You've asked a question. Listen to the answer, please.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): We were. We were listening.

The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Fort York, order. Minister?

The member for Scarborough West.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Under the standing orders, I understood us to be in question period. I have in my hand a fax from the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism in which he asks me to ask this question:

"Minister, it has been over a year since this government took office" --

The Acting Speaker: It's not a point of order. There's no point of order.

The member for Scarborough West.


The Acting Speaker: Order. You're losing some time on your question period. You're losing time.


The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough West.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): I can ask the question better, Mike.

My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. The member for Sudbury, order. Order. It's your time. I'll wait.

The member for Scarborough West.

Mr Jim Brown: In the past year, Minister, the --


The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough West.

Mr Jim Brown: In the past year, Minister, the --


The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough West.

Mr Jim Brown: We've only got 16 minutes left.

This government has implemented economic development policies to create jobs, Minister -- quite different from the grant-based giveaways of the two previous governments. How well have these policies of fiscal restraint and ending of giveaways to business succeeded to date?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I would first of all, like the --


The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Hon Mr Saunderson: I first of all would like to say that I think it does all of our hearts good to laugh a little bit and obviously it's the first time any laughing's been done in this House for quite a long time. So I'd like to thank the member for Scarborough West for his question and introducing a little humour into this House today, or into this new session.

I'm happy to report that our policies over the last year have been exceedingly well-received by the business community. As we heard yesterday -- I see the leader of the third party leaving right now because I think he does not like to hear good news, because we've had 150,000 jobs created over the last year since our election. That means there are 150,000 people working now who were not working a year ago. That is a big achievement and business is very glad about that. In fact, 89,000 net new jobs have been created since the beginning of this year; up to August 31. These are very good statistics.

So our policies are working very well and even the member -- I want you to hear this -- for Scarborough-Agincourt recently complimented this government and called the job numbers very solid.

Youth employment right now is 2.8% higher than it was two years ago. That is a big achievement. Yesterday, the member for Wilson Heights said that there were no greenfield developments occurring in this province, just add-ons. Well, I'd like to inform this House that just on Monday there were two greenfield openings that I was able to attend. One was a German company in Agincourt. Another was a Japanese company in Listowel. These are creating about 100 new jobs.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have the supplementary. Could I put the supplementary? On the point of order, the numbers are indeed solid, Minister.


The Acting Speaker: Order. Please take your seat. The member for Scarborough West.

Mr Jim Brown: Some of my private sector constituents are delighted with our course and intend to hire more and create jobs. What, in your opinion, is driving the recovery, and what businesses, the ones doing the hiring -- what are they saying, Minister?


Hon Mr Saunderson: In response to the supplementary question, first of all, I think the main thing for the member for Scarborough West is that the business climate that we have created is the business climate that business wants. I think the numbers I just quoted to you are proving the fact that our policies are indeed working.

Recently I had a chance to take a trade mission to Texas from the petrochemical industry sponsored by the member for Sarnia and myself. We also took high-tech companies from the Ottawa region out to California. I'd like to respond to the question by reading a comment from a letter that we received from the Canadian consul general in Dallas, Texas, about our trip to Texas. It reads as follows:

"We have had extremely positive reactions from those who attended the seminar, which did much to provide answers to questions that evidently persist among the business community about Canadian conditions. I think your messages as well as the outstanding presentations made by your private sector colleagues did much to set the record straight."


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): My question is to the Minister of Health. Minister, it's truly disturbing to learn of what your ministry is doing to the veterans and some of the seniors in the Ottawa-Carleton area. I would really like to know what could possibly be the rationale for your ministry for breaking binding agreements and commitments with the Perley and the Rideau Veterans health care centre.

You must be aware that most of the patients who are referred to the Perley are referred by nursing homes because they need more care. The Perley in fact has a per patient, per day per diem of $195. This is the lowest of all the hospitals in all of the Ottawa-Carleton area. Changing its status to a home for the aged under the Charitable Institutions Act would necessitate referrals back to the acute care hospitals at $500 a day or to the chronic care hospitals at $350 a day. It doesn't seem to make good sense to me.

Minister, why has your ministry and why have you forced the board to take the unusual step of proceeding with legal action against the ministry, which is not an easy track for them to take? How can you justify having your parliamentary assistant attend the opening less than a year ago of the Perley, a $65-million facility, and celebrate the opening and then, a year later, condemn it to be a graveyard?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): This deal was made, including the $65 million, in 1989 under that member's government. In 1992 the NDP government and the federal government signed an agreement with the Perley. It is that agreement that the Perley is now trying to get out of. I do not know the legal basis that they feel they will bring forward at this time.

I will say, though, that I have letters. We had immediate reaction from the Ontario Nursing Home Association. I can't find the letter right now but -- oh, here it is. It says, "Fifty-six thousand persons in the province of Ontario would be insulted by the statement that their long-term-care facility home is a graveyard." That's what the Perley called our 56,000 top-quality, world-class nursing home beds.

We also had a letter the same day of their press conference from the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors, which expressed a similar degree of outrage that the Perley would criticize the almost 500 nursing homes that we have in this province.

The Perley signed an agreement that, beginning on October 1 of this year, they would have seven years to convert to a long-term-care facility. I've checked with two similar conversions that took place under previous governments. Today the patients are very happy in those long-term-care facilities. One was in Windsor and one was in St Marys. Secondly, the communities indicate in those conversions that people are very, very happy.

I suggest you talk to your federal counterparts who are signatory to this agreement. I say to the Perley that over the next seven years they will get the attention of this government in living up to the previous commitment. I think it's good for the residents of that facility to receive the type of care they will receive under the new multilevel care funding scheme.

I also want to tell the veterans, because I think it's morally reprehensible frankly, that the administration -- and by the way, nursing homes don't have presidents, vice-presidents, huge administrations, department heads, so a lot of money to be saved that can be given to those veterans in terms of their care, and to those patients, is currently tied up in hospital administration.

My understanding of the talks held by my predecessor is that Perley, up to this point, was in full agreement and in fact signed that agreement, and I have a copy of that agreement in the back room.

I hope we can work out the concerns the Perley has, but at this point, they've signed an agreement. I think it's a good agreement for the veterans and the 250 priority beds are secure under this trilateral agreement also and nobody is going to deny veterans the service they deserve for having preserved our freedoms and given us the life that we have today.

Mr Patten: So, Minister, what you're saying is that you won't honour an agreement that was signed, a legal document, with the ministry; that's what you're saying. You and your officials were less than honest with those people. They didn't know. They were dropped a letter informing them. They've been contacting your office and you've been incommunicado. You haven't responded, except one letter where you said, "I am pleased to be part of a unique" --


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. The member for Ottawa Centre.

Mr Patten: You said, and I quote your letter, "I am pleased to be part of this unique three-way partnership." When your recent actions delisted the Perley -- it was to their surprise, by the way, that's not the original agreement -- as a public hospital, what did it do? It severely limited the level of care and services; now they'll have to move veterans out of that facility. You'll have eliminated special treatment for many of the patients; you'll create a second-class veterans service in the Ottawa-Carleton area not compared at all to those in cities such as Toronto or London. You've downgraded the services, and most seriously and fundamentally, breached agreements entered into with the Perley Hospital and veterans' affairs, all prior to the restructuring commission that's in Ottawa at the moment. What's going on?

Hon Mr Wilson: It's a good question. Nobody's violated any agreement. That's not the accusation that they made at their press conference that I understand. They just want out of an agreement that they signed is the way I understand it. They weren't accusing me or anyone else. I haven't done anything to violate any agreement. I know that local MPPs have met with our assistant deputy ministers and expressed Perley's concerns. The legal action takes me completely by surprise, as it should take you completely by surprise, because you guys signed all this.

I think it's a good deal. I've looked at it in my heart of hearts and my conscience and I've said, "Jeez, with hospital restructuring going on, why would they want to take an 18% reduction over the next three years?" I don't understand, when the object of all of our health care decisions has to be the patients, and the patients, according to 56,000 other patients in this province, are receiving top-quality care in our long-term-care facilities. I think it's an excellent opportunity for the Perley to redevelop and become one of the best long-term-care facilities in the province. Having said that, we'll have to see what the basis of their future challenge is.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. On page 8 of the so-called Common Sense Revolution it says, "Classroom funding for education will be guaranteed." Since that document was published and this government came into power, we've seen over $400 million in cuts in grants, which the minister has acknowledged on an annualized basis works out to $1 billion in cuts. Last week the minister announced further cuts of somewhere between $600 million and $900 million in grants, a total of $1.8 billion in education cuts.

We now have a crisis that the minister promised to all of the people in the province in education. We've seen class sizes increased across the province, yet at the same time the Premier of the province, speaking to foreign investors, says, according to the 1996 world competitiveness report, business leaders rank Canada's education system, a large part of which is the Ontario system, ahead of the US in terms of its ability to meet the needs of a competitive economy.

The Premier doesn't say the system isn't working, the system is broken. Why don't you at least for once in Ontario pretend you're talking to foreign investors and admit that we have a good education system in this province? We should celebrate its successes and we should fund it properly so it can continue to serve the students of this province.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I'm surprised the member opposite would be so wrong about the one salient point in his question, which is that this minister and this government have not announced any targets for further reductions in education. That may be forthcoming later on in this calendar year, but he's just plain wrong on that subject.

I am very proud of some of the excellent programs in our school system in Ontario. I think it's a good school system in Ontario. I've said that across this province over the last year. Unlike some of the members opposite, I and my colleagues are not content to leave the system as merely a good system. We want the best system of education in the world for our young people, and we won't rest until we have it.

Mr Wildman: Is the minister now denying the position he's taken almost immediately upon being appointed, and since, that the education system in this province is broken? Most recently he said that we're locked in a situation where educators in this province are determined to provide a 1950s classroom for students. Is he denying that he said that? If he isn't denying that, if he can confirm that has been his position, how does that square with the position the Premier takes in talking to foreign investors about how good our education system is and how well it serves the students of the province and the economy of this province?

Hon Mr Snobelen: As I said a moment ago, I'm very pleased with some of the excellent programs we have in Ontario, and I believe that some of those excellent programs should be available to all the students in Ontario instead of just some of the students in Ontario.

I stood here a year ago and I said that we would have a more affordable, more accountable, higher quality education system in the province of Ontario. Over the last year we have helped to make the system more affordable by providing school boards with the opportunity to lower the cost of administration. We've added to the accountability to the public by having the College of Teachers, by releasing relevant data to the public so they can know what's going on about the cost and the quality of the education system.

We're very proud of our record on quality. We've introduced a relevant secondary school program. We've doubled our commitment to the technology incentives. We've announced the EQAO, an independent, quality body. We've got the College of Teachers I already referred to, which I think will help the quality of education in Ontario.

The member opposite can count on our government to continue to work to have a more affordable, a more accountable and, most importantly, a higher quality system of education for our young people in Ontario. He can count on that.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: During his answer to my question, the Minister of Health referred to legal opinions. I'd ask that he table those legal opinions. I have a legal opinion dated 1992. If the minister doesn't have that, I'd be pleased to table it so that he can have a copy of it as well.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): That is not a point of order.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Health had started to charge seniors and social assistance recipients a $2 user fee for each prescription filled on July 15, 1996; and

"Whereas seniors on a fixed income do not significantly benefit from the income tax savings created by this user fee or from other non-health user fees; and

"Whereas the perceived savings to health care from the $2 co-payment fee will not compensate for the suffering and misery caused by this user fee, or the painstaking task involved to fill out the application forms; and

"Whereas the current Ontario Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, promised as an opposition MPP in a July 5, 1993, letter to Ontario pharmacists that his party would not endorse legislation that will punish patients to the detriment of health care in Ontario,

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, strongly urge this government to repeal this user fee plan because the tax-saving user fee concept is not fair, sensitive or accessible to low-income or fixed-income seniors; and lest we forget, our province's seniors have paid their dues by collectively contributing to the social, economic, moral and political fabric of Canada."

I have signed my name to this petition.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition on the possible sell-off of Ontario Hydro. It says:

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the matter of selling Ontario Hydro is likely to come before the Legislature in the near future;

"Whereas we, the undersigned residents of Ontario, who have, through the payment of electricity rates, paid for Ontario Hydro, are concerned about privatization of Ontario Hydro, leading to higher rates, lower reliability and compromised nuclear safety;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

"Please preserve the public ownership of Ontario Hydro and refuse to sell this important public asset."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I have a petition here signed by a number of Niagara residents, a petition to end the spring bear hunt.

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring, after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of bears killed in the spring are female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas 80% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only large mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring bear hunt;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear hunting activities."


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I'd like to recognize Mr Clarence Soule, a very dedicated senior who champions the right of seniors, for his hard work in collecting hundreds of names for this petition.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario health plan is designed to give all taxpayers, including seniors, equal medical care; and

"Whereas many premiers at the premiers' conference recently held are recommending changing to a two-tier system; and

"Whereas we know that under the two-tier Americanized system they have 30 to 40 million of their citizens without health care;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"Be it resolved that we retain our present one-tier system of health where we have the Canada Health Act and Ontarians' health needs are assured in a fair and equitable manner."

I affix my name to it and thank Mr Soule very much for it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition signed by approximately 640 residents of the township of Plummer Additional, and it reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned residents and seasonal residents of the township of Plummer Additional, are opposed to amalgamation with the town of Bruce Mines at this time."


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I'm presenting a petition on behalf of my honourable colleague from Victoria-Haliburton. The petition reads:

"We are concerned, as permanent and seasonal residents of the county of Haliburton, that in the interests of cost-cutting our county will be the only county in Ontario without a full-fledged police service.

"Whereas the Minden detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police has been the only police service in the county of Haliburton;

"Whereas in times of recession the crime rate usually increases, calling for more police service;

"Whereas the closure of the Minden detachment will make it increasingly difficult for our officers to police the county of Haliburton;

"Whereas the present system of calling a communications centre makes the process of obtaining proper police protection, service and advice more and more difficult;

"Whereas the closure of the Minden detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police will have serious financial repercussions for the county of Haliburton and will have a detrimental effect on property values in the county of Haliburton;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"Take whatever measures are necessary to retain a full-fledged Ontario Provincial Police detachment in its present location on Highway 35 in Minden, Ontario."

It's signed by 3,100 residents of that county.



Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly from the community of Song Meadoway, York Condominium Corp No 148, a townhouse development at Steeles and 404 in North York.

"Whereas on Monday, August 26, 1996, a runaway gravel truck crossed Steeles Avenue at the exit ramp from the 404, hitting a van and seriously injuring the driver before smashing through a townhouse, killing Kim Wong and injuring her two young sons;

"We, the undersigned, as owners, residents of York Condominium Corp No 148 and other concerned citizens, request that the issue of truck safety inspections be taken more seriously. This would include both better legislation and enforcement practices."

I add my name to this important petition. I also have a letter that I will be sending along with the petition to Minister Al Palladini.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : J'ai une pétition de la part des citoyens de Timmins et des environs faisant affaire avec la chasse aux ours en printemps. It is a petition to end the spring bear hunt and it's addressed to us, the legislators of this province. It reads:

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of bears killed in the spring are females, some with cubs; and

"Whereas 70% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only large mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring bear hunt;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear hunting activities."

It's signed by some 100 people from the city of Timmins and I affix my signature to the petition.


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): I have a petition that reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned, petition that the government of Ontario and the Ministry of Transportation should not close the driver examination centre at the Manor House in Sutton."

This petition is signed by more than 1,500 constituents of Durham-York who are 16 years of age or older. I agree with this petition and have affixed by name to it.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have before me quite literally thousands of petitions, faxes and letters sent by our constituents in Port Arthur and Thunder Bay in northwestern Ontario responding to the initial report of the Health Services Restructuring Commission, a report that shocked and upset all of us in Thunder Bay. The people of Thunder Bay responded by acting and calling on the commission to change their mind, to prove to them that they were wrong about their decisions.

I'm going to read just one of the petitions and I will be putting more on the record as the days go on while we wait for the results of the final report.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We do not believe that you have made the best choice for the health care system in northwestern Ontario. We are deeply concerned with the speed and amount of bed reductions you have dictated. We are also concerned with your intention to close three hospitals out of the five currently operating in Thunder Bay. These hospitals, all seeming to be concentrated, are in fact providing a central regional service. By reducing the total number of beds from 954 to 526, and in the process eliminating psychiatric and chronic care hospitals, the 428-bed reduction will leave the lives of our families, our friends and ourselves at risk.

"If it was your intention to act on behalf of the interests of the public, we as members of the public ask you to reflect upon your conscience for you will be ultimately responsible for the error in your decision."


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud): J'ai ici une autre pétition signée par des centaines de résidents de la ville de Timmins et des environs, cette fois sur la question du contrôle des loyers.

"To Premier Mike Harris, Minister Al Leach and members of the Ontario Legislature:

"Whereas Mike Harris's Conservative government of Ontario is planning to destroy the present system of rent control;

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservative Party made no mention of scrapping rent control during the election campaign of 1995 or in the Common Sense Revolution;" -- I do remember that, Mr Speaker --

"Whereas a number of Conservative candidates in ridings with high tenant populations campaigned during the 1995 election on a platform of protecting the current rent control system;" -- I remember that as well --

"Whereas the government has consulted with special-interest groups representing landlords and developers while cutting funding to organizations representing the 3.5 million tenants of Ontario;

"Whereas, although all renters will suffer, seniors and others on fixed income will suffer particular hardship if rent controls are abolished;

"Whereas eliminating rent control will result in skyrocketing rents in Ontario,

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislature of Ontario to stop the attack on the 3.5 million tenants in this province and to stop this crazy attack on rent control."

I've signed that petition.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition concerning the spring bear hunt which has been signed by approximately 283 persons, most of whom are resident in my riding and I'd like to file that today.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have the following petition:

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario promised to cut not one cent from health care; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has proceeded to cut over $1 billion of much-needed dollars from the community hospitals; and

"Whereas the broken health care promise means that St Catharines General Hospital can no longer afford to employ 20% of its workforce resulting in 220 people paying the price for the funding shortfall from the provincial government; and

"Whereas the people of St Catharines have come to rely upon the caring professional service provided by health caregivers at the general hospital, the Shaver Hospital and the Hotel Dieu Hospital and who view this betrayal by the Mike Harris government as an attack on quality health care services in the Niagara region; and

"Whereas the only area where the government has experienced any success in the field of health has been in its ability to threaten institutions and organizations who have been cut off at the knees by drastic cuts that they will be cut even further or closed should they not cooperate;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

"That the Ontario government keep their election promise and restore health care spending to the level at which they promised during the last election campaign so that the general hospital and other hospitals in St Catharines are able to keep the valuable services of all of their employees."

I affix my signature as I'm in complete agreement with this petition.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : J'ai encore des pétitions, cette fois-ci de la communauté de Schumacher, faisant affaire avec la chasse aux ours.

It reads as follows:

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of the bears killed in the spring are females, some of which have cubs;

"Whereas over 70% of the orphan cubs do not survive the first year;

"Whereas 95.3% of the bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait;

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only large mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait;

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring bear hunt,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear-hunting activities."

Again it is signed by a number of people from Schumacher and I will present that petition on their behalf.




Pursuant to the order of the House of June 27, 1996, Mr Laughren from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's 15th report.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Does the Chair wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Yes, Mr Speaker. I have a number of reports.

The Acting Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 106(g)11, the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.

Pursuant to the order of the House of June 27, 1996, Mr Laughren from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's 16th, 17th and 18th reports.

The Acting Speaker: Does the Chair wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Laughren: No, not on these. They are deemed to have been adopted, I believe.

The Acting Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 106(g)11, the reports are deemed to be adopted by the House.

Pursuant to the order of the House of June 27, 1996, Mr Laughren presented the committee's report on agencies, boards and commissions, number 22, and moved the adoption of its recommendations.

Mr Laughren: This is simply a report on the Social Assistance Review Board, which the committee reviewed as a regular part of its duties.

I move the adjournment of the debate on that report.

The Acting Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Pursuant to the order of the House of June 27, 1996, Mr Laughren presented the committee's report on agencies, boards and commissions, number 23, and moved the adoption of its recommendations.

Mr Laughren: The final report deals with the issue of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Health Council. As you know, there was some controversy surrounding appointments to that board, and the committee dealt with that issue and interviewed people from the health council.

I move the adjournment of the debate.

The Acting Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Pursuant to the order of the House of June 27, 1996, Mr Colle from the standing committee on public accounts presented the committee's report on the Ontario Board of Parole and moved the adoption of its recommendations.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Does the Vice-Chairman wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): No, Mr Speaker.

I move the adjournment of the debate.

The Acting Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Mr Carroll from the standing committee on general government presented a report on the tenant protection package.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): No, Mr Speaker.



Ms Bassett moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr66, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Mr Cleary moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr67, An Act respecting the Ontario Plumbing Inspectors Association Inc.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



Mr Sterling moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 57, An Act to improve the Efficiency of the Environmental Approvals Process and Certain Other Matters / Projet de loi 57, Loi visant à améliorer l'efficience du processus d'autorisation environnementale et concernant certaines autres questions.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): It's my pleasure today to speak to my colleagues about the Environmental Approvals Improvement Act, Bill 57, which was introduced by my predecessor the member for Guelph, the Honourable Brenda Elliott. I want to thank her for doing all of the work in putting this particular bill together and thank her for her leadership in bringing this particular approach to the Legislature.

I am in the fortunate position of picking up many of the initiatives which were put forward by my predecessor and carrying them forward. I believe, as I have learned over the past four weeks, that she has taken some great initiatives on behalf of the people of Ontario to enhance our environment. These kinds of moves will make us become less conscious of the processes that we were going through but more focused on the actual results and getting down to solving the real problems of the environment in the province of Ontario. I guess that's what this government is about and that's what I'm about.

As the new Minister of Environment, I plan to take the lead from my predecessor in facing the problems that we are faced with here in the province of Ontario and solving them, unlike previous governments and previous ministers in previous governments with regard to the environment. For far too long we have watched problems accumulate in the Ministry of Environment and in the environment in Ontario, and we have paid more attention to talking about them than actually solving them.

Mr Speaker, as you know, I am extremely fortunate in having not only a legal background but also an engineering background, and I am most heartened by the fact that the technical community who have talked to me in the recent past have said to me: "Let's get down, let's roll up our sleeves, let's solve the problems we have in the province of Ontario and make this place the cleanest place. Let's have the cleanest water, let's have the cleanest air, and let's get together. Both of us can work together to achieve this." Some of the initiatives that are on the table now, quite frankly, are going to allow us to do that.

One of the key factors with regard to the Environmental Approvals Improvement Act is that we have recognized that our current systems just aren't working as well as they could. As a government, we've come to focus, as I mentioned before, too strongly on the process as opposed to the results we achieve. Protecting our environment is the truly important result which I want to speak about today.

In the past, the province has enjoyed a fairly high standard of environmental protection. As the new minister, I want to tell the members that I am very deeply committed to maintaining this standard and actually improving it. We can do better. We can do better by using better methodologies, better tools and more efficient means to improve upon the environmental protection my ministry delivers.


While I am a new minister with my own ideas on many of the issues, I am in complete agreement with the shift in direction that has been taken by this ministry. It's a direction that we can characterize as steering and not rowing. It means that the ministry's primary, overriding role is to set tough standards and then see that they are enforced.

In the past the ministry, and not only the ministry in this government over the past year but the ministry over its lifetime, has had difficulty managing because we failed to focus on the more important risks to our environment and the more important problems to our environment. We've spread ourselves too thin, in other words. I'm sure you are aware of the term "ministry of everything" which has come to be applied to energy and environment. This term tells you that somewhere along the line the ministry's mandate has become obscured, impairing its effectiveness.

This government has for the first time developed business plans for each of the ministries, identifying the core businesses that we should be involved in. At my ministry we have identified five core businesses which are our primary focus: pollution prevention, remediation, conservation, energy planning and environmental stewardship. The reforms we now propose, whether in the area of approvals, environmental assessment or regulatory reform, will enable us to concentrate our efforts in these areas. These are the areas that we believe will provide the greatest environmental benefit and protection for the people of Ontario.

We are looking for ways to go beyond the command and control approach traditionally taken by this ministry. Take the example of voluntary programs, something, quite frankly, which was introduced some five or six years ago and was participated in by the previous government. Some would have you believe that these programs eliminate the requirement for dischargers to meet our standards. That simply is not true. Voluntary programs are a creative way of recognizing those industries that are going beyond their legal requirements for pollution reduction. They are geared towards those companies that have repeatedly gone one better than the government has required of them. The more they reduce, the better it is for the environment. If they're doing better than the legal requirements that remain in place, then we should support them and encourage them to do even more.

We are also removing unnecessary barriers which serve no benefit to the environment. Our regulatory reforms include proposals to remove several obsolete regulations such as the regulation for setting efficiency standards for types of heaters which are now banned in the province of Ontario. We've also called for the repeal of regulations that require companies to report on substances they can't and don't produce. These regulations do not contribute to the protection or the improvement of the environment, they contribute only to an empty process. Common sense tells us they should be eliminated.

The people of Ontario want an environmental protection system that produces tangible results, and that's what we're going to do. Today I have the pleasure of bringing forward this bill that will help us meet that goal.

I want to cover the four major amendment areas that are included in Bill 57, the Environmental Approvals Improvement Act. First, Bill 57 proposes improvements to the approval processes with regard to certificates of approval. We propose additional, more workable procedures for activities that have predictable and controllable effects on the environment. As it now stands, you need a different, unique certificate of approval for each and every project. This form of approval demands individual intense scrutiny of every aspect of a proposal. You might say, "That's good," but this involves considerable cost and expense which could be better put forward to meeting the problem of environmental protection. In some cases the cost and the time, quite frankly, aren't justified; in some they are. That's what we're trying to divide here in this bill.

We propose the establishment of standardized regulations containing rules customized to certain classes of common activities. As a result, an activity carried out under a regulation would no longer need an individual certificate of approval. If it's something that's done every day in the province of Ontario, it's common, then we can in fact make that a regulated process rather than asking that person or that particular company to get a certificate.

The types of activities and the standards to be imposed will be decided through full consultation. For all other activities, the existing approvals process will remain. So we're going to try to divide between those processes which are different in each and every case and those which are repetitive over and over again.

An example of the kind of activity which goes on over and over again and will have a standardized regulation is the installation of exhaust fans in restaurants. At the present time, if a restaurant wants to put in the restaurant an exhaust fan, it must get a certificate of approval. I believe there are over 15,000 restaurants in the province of Ontario. This has been done over and over again. Quite frankly, we don't need to go through the process of getting a certificate of approval for each and every one of those restaurants, because the process is common and we can form a regulation or rules which define how that should be done and done in a fashion which will exhaust the fumes from that particular restaurant in a standardized form.

I guess you could compare that kind of example to our building code. In our building code we have many, many requirements which we put into a code, a regulation. We don't require, when you build a house, that you go and get a certificate of approval for the trusswork that you put in the house. We don't require that you get a certificate of approval for the plumbing. We don't require a certificate of approval for a lot of the different activities which are put into that house, but we require that the tradespeople who are putting forward that work follow the code. We will require, of course, that the people who are putting in the exhaust fans in the restaurants follow the code of the environment, the regulations which we are putting forward, and if they are broken, that particular exhaust fan would have to be removed.

This benefits us in a twofold manner. Firstly, it allows the ministry to treat every application for the simple, common, predictable activities in exactly the same way each time, rather than reinventing the wheel in every single case.

As well, it will allow us to communicate to the public exactly what the requirements are for this kind of activity. There will be certainty as to how to meet the requirements to put in the exhaust fan in the restaurant. They will, in turn, find it easier to understand what is required of them, and there will no longer be the necessity of waiting for some period of time while somebody processes a useless piece of paper for the certificate of approval.

Our improved approval process will maintain top-quality protection for the environment at a lower cost to the Ontario taxpayers. It will also provide clarity and certainty for industry, municipalities and the small business owner. This is consistent with our goal of making services relevant and responsive to all Ontarians.

The second portion of the bill deals with the Environmental Compensation Corp. This corporation was set up under the Liberal government in 1985 for the sole purpose of managing compensation claims involving spills of environmental contaminants. This corporation, over its 10-year life, has given out about $680,000 to $700,000, but it has cost $3 million to manage that amount of money. In other words, in order to give out $700,000, we've had to spend four times as much on the administration to give that money out. Notwithstanding that ridiculous fact, of the $700,000 we gave out, about half of that was to another level of government. The benefits of this particular plan have not been to the benefit of the environment. It would have been much better had we spent that money on remedying some of the problems we have in the province of Ontario.


The court system remains there for people to gain compensation from those responsible for the spill, and under our present law they remain responsible for that spill as well. That is clear and that is not changing.

The third part of the bill repeals the Ontario Waste Management Corporation Act. This ends the final chapter of the 15-year, $145-million boondoggle that has ended in a failure to find a hazardous waste facility. This was invented by our previous government, was carried on by the Liberals during their mandate, and then it was carried on by the NDP during its mandate as well. Finally, we have come to the conclusion that the Ontario Waste Management Corp was indeed a waste of Ontario taxpayers' money, and we're putting an end to it in this bill.

Lastly, we propose amendments that would give the Ministry of Environment and Energy the authority to recover administrative costs for some specific services. The ministry already has some of this authority to charge fees in a number of areas, including certificates of approval, examinations, licences and permits. The amendments we propose will consolidate these authorities and provide a general fee-making capability. We are expanding the authority of my ministry and myself to set these fees for any registration or record required by regulation or legislation, and we may charge fees under this regulation whenever we provide information, services or recording.

Two key issues where we will introduce fees are generator registration and waste manifests. By imposing fees, my ministry will ensure that the costs of administering these services are paid by those who produce and handle waste. In other words, it's user-pay. We're not in any way going to have fees which exceed the cost of providing those services or producing those certificates or whatever else. I think it's fair to the taxpayer that we ask these people to pay up, because they are the major benefactors of these particular processes. Right now, we as Ontario taxpayers are subsidizing these particular industries to the tune of $1 million a year. I think cost recovery is a reasonable goal and will be supported by all members of the Legislature.

I want to thank the members of the Legislature for looking into this legislation. I want to indicate to you, Mr Speaker, and to the members of the Legislature that as the Minister of Environment, particularly as the new Minister of Environment, I do not profess to have anywhere near all the answers. I will listen with a keen ear to constructive suggestions. I have always maintained that position as a minister of the crown and will continue to do that in this post as the Minister of Environment.

The changes I have just outlined I believe will contribute to a more effective system of environmental protection in our province. They will help us make a more workable system that focuses on the results, on getting a cleaner environment, on doing something about our environment, and not focusing on an empty process. In short, we are creating a system governed by common sense and balance.

But I remind members that in the balance between the environment and the economy, when it comes down to the choices I must make as the environment minister, I will do my utmost to see that environment wins. Thank you very much.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I've listened carefully to the new Minister of Environment and wish to congratulate him on his new post. I found especially encouraging his remark that he is going to listen with an open ear.

I find it, however, somewhat ironic that in his new portfolio he is saying the municipalities should have the right to control odour, noise and dust. In his previous portfolio, as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, as we all know, he extended the drinking hours one extra hour, yet when Toronto residents wanted the right to stop some bars from keeping open an extra hour, he suggested that right could not be given to municipalities, simply because if one municipality opens another hour, all the traffic and movement would go into that municipality.

Now we ask him, the new Minister of Environment, what is more important? Is the environment not just as important as the decision he made under his previous portfolio? I would submit to you that giving the municipalities the right to control noise, odour and dust is of great and utmost importance to the residents of Ontario because, as he well knows, splitting up this responsibility will do not much for the environment. One municipality will say, "We don't have an odour problem here," and the other municipality will say, "We have an odour problem there," and consequently, where is the traffic going to flow? Where are the decisions going to be made? Where are the new companies going to open up their businesses? I submit that the minister should listen with an open ear.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I will be speaking later, after the table is set by my colleague from St Catharines on this bill, more substantively. What I would like to say to the minister in this two minutes is that I hope he is sincere when he says he is willing to listen and work with the opposition.

I want to tell him today that I don't know, and I'd like to hear him define, who these people are he's talking to who are saying, "Let's roll up our sleeves and get down and actually protect the environment." Every environmentalist and people involved in that area whom I know -- and I know a lot -- many of whom have come down to speak at hearings on various bills which dismantle environmental protection, are saying, and I agree with them, that it's unprecedented environmental protection dismantlement going on here.

I also want to say to you, Minister, that what you're doing is not going to work. The people will not be fooled by it forever. You stand there and say, "We're essentially doing more with less." You are doing less with a lot less, a whole lot less. You have laid off so many people in that ministry and cut so deeply that even if you weren't gutting a lot of the regulations and rules, even if they were still all there, there'd be nobody there to enforce them. This is the reality that thinkers in this field out there are trying to tell you, tried to tell the previous minister, and I'm shocked today to hear you just picking up where the previous minister left off and trying to defend the deregulation that's going on.

Your government has set back environmental protection to pre-Liberal, pre-NDP and, in some cases, pre the previous Tory government. Minister, I urge you to listen carefully to the suggestions we have to make about this bill.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): First, I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to my colleague the Honourable Brenda Elliott for her foresight to see the need and recognize the need for a bill such as Bill 57, a bill which will be tidying up a couple of acts and particularly will be looking at standardized approvals.

The public are genuinely concerned about the environment and really want to see it improved, but I can tell you they're sincerely frustrated over the kinds of legislation that the previous governments had been bringing in and the kind of regulations they'd been bringing in, which actually do harm to the environment.

The previous government thought it was very important to get us all hung up in process and red tape. Ms Churley will recall one presenter on Bill 76 who went into great detail to explain to us how important it is to have process very complicated when you're trying to site landfills, so complicated that you wouldn't be able to site a landfill. Where are we going to end up if we cannot get a place to put the garbage? I would suggest maybe they should leave it right in their apartments if they don't want to have sound regulations to work with to bring them in.

I don't believe the previous governments really had a sincere interest in the environment. Their interest was in politics. They were out trying to sell the sizzle instead of the steak, and not trying to protect the environment as they should have been.

Ms Churley makes reference to dismantling a whole lot of regulations. Maybe a lot of them should be dismantled, with the kind of complicated red tape they brought in and put in when it wasn't protecting the environment. It may be a logical place for it to go. It seems the previous government believed that throwing money at every problem was the only answer. There are many answers you can come about with other than just throwing money at it, as you people were doing.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I was very interested in the minister's comments as we began this debate. One of the things I think we've all recognized over the past number of years, certainly in my constituency, is that approvals are a real problem and that there is a need for a streamlined system. We've all seen in our own constituencies hangups, things not happen that I think most people would have thought should have and that maybe caused some difficulties in the environment.

The problem, however, is that streamlining sounds well and good. The proof of whether it will work or not is in the regulations and what the government intends. What the government can't intend is not to have a full and complete airing of any potential concerns with an environmental problem. I say this also from the standpoint of the business community. Often the business community says: "Gee, I don't want to get all those approvals. I don't want to do this. I don't want to do that. We're good guys and we'll protect the environment." But I have at least two occasions in my constituency right now where people cannot do business, cannot develop property, cannot do what they need to do because the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Environment -- and the municipality, for that matter -- will not guarantee that they will enforce the environmental rules that exist. Because they can't enforce the environmental rules, they will not let the project go ahead, even though they believe it to be environmentally sound, provided it lives within those guidelines.

We're all concerned with the environment, but what you do has to be both environmentally sound and good for the economy, and I'm very concerned that may not happen.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes the Minister of Environment.

Hon Mr Sterling: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I might add that I think you've done an excellent job in the last two days under extreme circumstances. I congratulate you on what you have done for us all. I'd vote for Bert any day.

I want to thank the members who participated in the brief response to my remarks. They pointed out a number of problems and a number of challenges we face in dealing with the issue of protecting our environment. What I will try to bring to the ministry and to the regulation role and to the approvals role and to the administration role is a degree of pragmatism and common sense as to how we deal with the balancing of the environmental and the economic interests of communities.

I will of course, as I mentioned in the last remarks, always be there in my role as the environment minister, and having to push that button will be the last button I will push in terms of the stance I might take.

I only say that as well it's difficult to divide up who should do what with regard to environmental regulation. The member for Parkdale mentioned the differing decisions we make in that regard, and that's a judgement call as to whether municipalities are better to make rules in certain circumstances or Ontario governments are willing to make rules, and we have our reasons for doing that.

I will try to put the decision-making down to whatever level of government makes the most sense. I will endeavour to reach those decisions, I would say, not deregulating but reforming the regulations which have grown in a topsy-turvy fashion in this province for the last 30 years. We are attempting to put them back in some cohesive form of order.

The Deputy Speaker: The minister's time has expired. Further debate?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I would first of all like to take the opportunity to congratulate the new Minister of Environment, a long-term friend of mine. Both Mr Sterling and I were elected in 1977 in a very famous election, I think. His government was restored to minority status on that occasion. He and I have served and been interested in a number of issues where our views have coincided. Today is probably not one of those.

By the way, I should say this before I start, if I can get the indulgence of the House and the permission of the Progressive Conservative Party, may I split my time with Mr Ruprecht? Would you put that, Mr Speaker?

The Deputy Speaker: Is it the wish of the House? Agreed? It's agreed.

Mr Bradley: Thank you kindly. I wanted to make sure that I got on the record first of all some of the hope I might have that the new minister may have some considerable clout in the government, also being a long-time friend of the Treasurer and the Premier of this province, and that he will be able to convert them to the ways of environmentalism, because he says when it comes down to fighting between the economy and the environment, as Minister of Environment he wishes to come down on the side of the environment. That's as it should be, and the opposition critic, the member for Ottawa South, who is now engaged in a leadership process and that's why I'm pinch-hitting today, will be watching carefully to see that the member for Carleton, the new Minister of Environment and Energy, will indeed be coming down on the side of the environment rather than the economy when the crunch comes.

I want to note that there was reference made to the previous Minister of Environment. I recall speaking in this House previously, saying that I could see a circumstance arising where the position of the previous Minister of Environment, the member for Guelph, would be a position that would be untenable. I could see that a substantial portion of the budget of the Ministry of Environment was being removed at the behest of the Premier and those who advise the Premier and the provincial Treasurer, now called the Minister of Finance. I knew that the previous minister, seeing her budget drastically reduced, the staffing levels reduced significantly and the clout of the ministry being eroded, would not be able to sustain the position as a result of that lack of support by her colleagues in cabinet and by those in the Office of the Premier and those who advise the government.

I hope that is not the case of the next minister, the new Minister of Environment. I hope the minister is provided with the appropriate resources that the previous minister did not have in terms of staffing levels, in terms of funds that are provided to him and in terms of the clout he might have in cabinet.

If you look at the legislation before us, Bill 57, the Ministry of Environment's Environmental Approvals Improvement Act -- I think the government always disguises it with a name that makes it sound favourable to the people they want it to sound favourable to -- you will find some areas where there are improvements that everybody will agree with. There are certain streamlining processes that are minor in nature but make some sense, upon reflection and upon new circumstances. Nobody in a reasonable sense is going to dig in his or her heels over some of those measures. However, taken in the context of this government's, I believe, lack of commitment to the environment, I think the environmentalists and others who have expressed concern about this legislation have a justified worry when they look at the general thrust of this government.


If you recall the other day, some of us were paying tribute to John White, who was minister of many different portfolios in another government, and there he was as a Progressive Conservative -- I can say progressive in this case, I guess -- recommending land banking, that the government would purchase land and bank it for future purposes. Certainly that would be considered to be on the left of the Conservative Party today, if one were to advocate that. He also advocated a tax on energy to ensure that there would be energy conservation. He was ridiculed by some on that occasion, but if he were in the late 1980s, early 1990s, perhaps even today, some people might think that's progressive. Mr White did that in his position as the provincial Treasurer of the day. There were other measures he had advocated that were considered to be rather progressive.

Today this minister has the opportunity of having served in both the Progressive Conservative government and, if I may use the term, a regressive Conservative government, the present Reform Party of which he is now a part. I must say I preferred the previous one. I didn't say so during those days and I should have. I apologize today to those who sat -- the member for Burlington South is here; the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, who has a riding that has several names in it, is here. I apologize to them for, in those days, not paying tribute to the Progressive Conservative government of the day which, upon reflection, did not do a bad job, particularly compared to today. In some areas it did not do a bad job.

I want to be honest up front and say to the members of the government today that wasn't a bad government. If you were to emulate it in many ways, I think you would get more praise from the opposition. I know you crave that on a daily basis. I do express that. I wish the new minister well. I don't wish any minister ill will; I simply will be here to criticize when I feel they're doing an inappropriate job and be complimentary when they're doing an appropriate job.

I want to compliment the minister again in the early part of the remarks. He was the minister in charge, he was the minister who was Provincial Secretary for Resources Development, when the Niagara Escarpment Commission was established. Some members even on the government benches are quite supportive of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Not my friend the member for Lincoln, I don't think -- I've heard some of his comments about it -- but certainly other members. The member for Dufferin-Peel -- I think it is the correct riding -- has certainly been supportive over the years and I want to compliment him on that.

If there's one thing that I can say bodes well -- there are a lot of things that don't bode well -- it is the history of the member for Carleton in the field of the Niagara Escarpment. I know this gets into approvals, because approvals will be needed in various areas, even those which might concern the Niagara Escarpment.

I must say I was worried the other day when I noted in that wonderful newspaper, the St Catharines Standard, unfortunately now owned by Conrad Black, who owns most major newspapers in Canada, that the government had fired out the door many people who had served on the Niagara Escarpment Commission whose philosophy was to preserve the escarpment. There was a member, for instance, Joan Little from Burlington, who I think was highly recommended by members of all parties at one time. The member for Burlington South nods no.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): No. She supported our NDP mayor.

Mr Bradley: She apparently lost the confidence of the member for Burlington South, who may or may not have influenced her turfing as the chair of the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

Hon Mr Sterling: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With regard to the Niagara Escarpment Commission, no one was turfed. Some members' terms came to an end. I just wanted to correct the --

The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order.

Mr Bradley: I appreciate, nevertheless, the minister's information. When a term comes to an end and a person has performed in an exemplary fashion, one usually expects that, regardless of the government in power, the person will be returned to that position, particularly if that person were dedicated to preserving the Niagara Escarpment, as I know the minister used to be in his previous incarnation.

I was a bit encouraged. People asked me, "What do you think of the member for Carleton" -- Norm Sterling, as we know him in this House -- "becoming the Minister of Environment?" I said: "At least I know he is committed to the Niagara Escarpment Commission. I am confident he will not appoint developers to the Niagara Escarpment Commission, and those who would destroy its present structure." I still believe that to be the case. I'm looking for the people who are appointed to replace those who have been not reappointed, as he would prefer that I say, rather than turfed, but that remains to be seen. We have the government agencies committee where we will call those people forward to ask them their views.

That will be one measure. One measure of a minister is, who gets appointed to the agencies, boards and commissions under the jurisdiction of that ministry? We will watch carefully. I hope the minister chooses those with an environmental bent as opposed to those who would bend the environment, because that would certainly be advantageous to us.

The minister made reference to the OWMC and other things in this bill. It makes me recall some history of the spills bill that was passed in 1979 in this House with the support of all parties. The Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the NDP all supported the spills bill. Now, there were some who would contend that the government was dragged into it kicking and screaming. I'll be generous and say that perhaps it was in the progressive days of the Progressive Conservatives that they brought this about.

An interesting thing happened. You may remember, Mr Speaker, yourself, as the people of Mitchell and Stratford will remember, that the government did not proclaim the bill. They passed it in 1979 and refused to proclaim it. They were returned to a majority position in 1981 and the bill almost died somewhere. One of the first things I had to do when I was the minister was proclaim a bill passed by the Davis government that it had refused to proclaim. I hope the minister doesn't fall into that trap with some of the legislation he brings forward that I hope will be progressive.

Hon Cameron Jackson: What bills have you got that you want him to proclaim that were yours?

Mr Bradley: The member for Burlington South asks a question. Even though it's out of order, I will say that all the bills we wanted passed were passed because the House was very supportive of that legislation in the 1985 and 1987 regimes.

I want to go as well to the approvals process. If you ask the developer, the person who will show up at your fund-raiser, whether or not the process is streamlined enough, the developer will say no to you. If you ask some municipal politicians, some who believe that until every last piece of land is paved and every last development has taken place there's not progress, if you ask some of those individuals, they will say to you, "I think we need the changes you're contemplating." But if you talk to people who believe that it's wise to take some time to make these decisions -- and that's, to me, what the word "conservative" means: to pause, to look first of all at what we have that's best and try to retain it, to pause and take our time when moving forward with decisions that will have ramifications for the whole province.

I have to note that I see the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing here. I don't want to misquote him, but I was quite alarmed when I read a report of a speech he had made in Ottawa where he said something such as, "We need more building cranes and fewer whooping cranes in Ontario." I think that's what you said; you were reported to have said that. If the minister indeed said that, and I didn't hear him say it and I have no way of knowing that he did say it, I would be alarmed. I hope if he was misreported that he will immediately call the newspaper and suggest that he was misquoted, because that would cause great consternation on this side of the House.


I look at this bill in the context of the entire government attitude toward the environment. If I look on the government benches, I see no raving environmentalists, I can say that. I see some people who have expressed concern about the environment over the years and I take at face value that they are concerned about it. But I see a lot of people who have dismissed the Ministry of Environment and Energy as a nuisance over the years, and that's most unfortunate.

I know there are people in all regimes, I will tell you, who aren't as supportive of Ministry of the Environment as they should be. I know the present minister, who carries considerable clout with the Premier, having been a long-time friend of his, and is indeed the dean of the government caucus, will surely have the influence to make positive environmental decisions.

But I look at this bill in the context of the entire attitude of the government caucus towards the environment and I find many members who have expressed annoyance and have indeed fought with the Ministry of the Environment over the years, over lack of approvals given or the time taken for approvals, and over the environmental assessment process and so on.

I want to say that when the minister looks through the legislation -- I want to give him another compliment, by the way. He wanted to delay certain of his legislation -- it wasn't this bill, it was the other bill, I think -- until such time as he could deal with it. I think that was a wise move on his part that he delay that, not simply accept what had been there, but he wanted to look at it himself. I hope again that is a style we will see in the future.

I look at this bill in the context of the overall attitude to the government. You gave the member for Lincoln the opportunity -- your government -- to deregulate. The member for Lincoln and I agree on some issues, we disagree on some issues. I don't think that the kind of deregulation which was contemplated by the member for Lincoln and my view of what needs to be deregulated are necessarily coincidental; in fact I know them not to be. When I hear people who live along the escarpment or represent areas along the escarpment say we should get rid of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, for instance, and turn it over to the municipalities, I become very much alarmed, and I know the minister will resist that.

I know as well that members of the farming community have an interest in the approvals process. I'm glad that my friend Mr Villeneuve, the member for S-D-G & East Grenville, is a person who's looking carefully, for instance, at the issue of severances and has, to this point in time, I must say, decided he will be restrictive in this regard to protect valuable farmland. I know he will face considerable pressure from some of his colleagues, some of whom have been known over the years to grant severances in great numbers.

I know that he will be resistant to those suggestions by his colleagues, because that's an important part of the approvals process. I consider that as part of approvals. That's how I work it into this speech. I know you will want to do that, because there are people, as I say, in all political parties and at the municipal level and some in the industry who would want to see severance after severance after severance.

I think the minister is wise to resist that. I know he will annoy some people, as I've annoyed some people, over that issue, but I think it's important for the preservation of agricultural land, and I urge him to continue to take a stance which is small-c Conservative, that is, which will retain those valuable farm areas for farming well into the future, because environment suggests that we look into the future and not simply at the quick bucks that can be made with some fast development somewhere in the province.

When I think of some of the speeches I've heard in the past by the members of the government, I don't think we'll be seeing much in the way of legislation which is going to be annoying to business, because the Premier has said one of his primary concerns is to open Ontario to business. I think it's important, however, whether it's in the approvals or the assessment process, to know that there are businesses that want to see a good environment. My concern is that those businesses that have spent the time, effort and energy on training their employees appropriately, on making expenditures which will improve their operations, on avoiding producing contaminants for the air, the soil and the water, are going to be highly annoyed at a government that changes the rules so that their competitors who have not been environmentally responsible will be able to get away with rules and regulations and legislation of a less onerous nature. I know the minister will share my view on that, that this should not happen.

I'm not one of those people who looks out at the industrial sector or the business sector and says, "All of those people automatically want all the regulations and legislation removed and the enforcement reduced." They don't. The good people, the good operators, want tough and fair laws and tough and fair enforcement of the legislation and regulations. They can function well there; they can function with pride. It's those who are the sleazy operators or who want to make an easy buck who are the ones who are going to resist reasonable legislation and regulations on the part of the government.

I think you can make a judgement about a government as much by the resources and the clout it's prepared to devote to a ministry, whether it's so it can deal with the approvals process or not. When I look at the hundreds of millions of dollars which have been chopped from environmental endeavours in this government, I become extremely alarmed. In an earlier session I expressed concern for my friend the Minister of Agriculture when I saw his budget being reduced. Though he must in the House defend that, and appropriately as a member of the government he will, I know how difficult it would be for him to deal with reduced resources, just as I know the Minister of Environment will have difficulty doing that. I urge his colleagues in cabinet and caucus to ensure that the Minister of Environment has the appropriate staff to deal with this.

The Ministry of Environment was part of the gang, if I can put it that way, in the government that transferred to municipalities considerable powers under the planning process, and unfortunately did so at a time when municipalities, because of cutbacks in transfers to those municipalities, were cutting staff who would be designated to deal with various developments and proposals. The member for Middlesex, who sat on the committee with us -- and I've said in the House before that I find this most unfortunate -- is a professional planner, and he was either silenced by his caucus or the cat had his tongue, one of the two, because he did not speak on these matters, and I thought he was the most appropriate person; I'd be very interested in what he had to say. I hope that kind of restraint has been taken off the government backbenchers so we can get that input, because I saw a transfer of a considerable number of powers that the Ministry of Environment and other ministries at the provincial level had to the local level, where they did not have the resources to deal with it, did not have the resources to turn over the proposals in a timely fashion without doing so in a shoddy fashion.

The member for Etobicoke West was a member of a municipal council, strongly supportive, I'm sure, of the Ministry of Environment in those days. I know he would want to see this approvals process not in a state where a nod and a wink was given to the proposals brought forward.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): No way, Jim.

Mr Bradley: He says, "No way," at this time. I understand, Mr Speaker, just as you are a candidate for Speaker -- I hope I'm not announcing anything, but I think you will be a candidate for Speaker -- I understand the member for Etobicoke West is, and I know all those who are candidates for Speaker are strong supporters of the environment.


I want to deal with the tax cut and how it affects this legislation. If you ask, "How possibly, member for St Catharines, could you tie in the tax cut to this bill?" I can explain it very readily. The Ministry of Environment and other ministries of the government will not be able to do their jobs appropriately because they've had staff removed and resources removed. Why have they had them removed? Because the government, while it's running a huge deficit, is insisting upon having a tax cut.

We're paying for this tax cut in the quality of life in this province. It will be popular. When we get our cheques and we see we have to pay less tax, that's initially something we're enthusiastic about. But the Ministry of Environment is just one area where we're seeing the effect of that tax cut, in the reduction of the ability of the ministry to do its job. I contend that's one of the reasons we see this legislation before us, which would water down the approvals process, just as we see a companion bill that will be before the House again dealing with the environmental assessment process.

The certificate of approval process provided an important educational component for small businesses such as paint shops. We as a caucus are concerned that small businesses will not be adequately informed of the new environmental standards they are expected to meet. In addition, the Ministry of Environment and Energy claims they will have to rely on already overstretched municipalities to educate industries and help monitor compliance.

That's where we get to the point, and I think the member for Parkdale made this point, that when you turn things over to municipalities you have to ensure they have the resources to deal with them. I'm convinced that when the Minister of Municipal Affairs is finished with them, they won't have any money left, because the poor Minister of Municipal Affairs is being cut back drastically by the Minister of Finance. I know the municipal affairs minister, because he knows municipalities, would like to be able to transfer adequate funds to municipalities, but the Treasurer of the province has said that shall not be the case and Tom Long has given the orders to the staff of the Premier that that not be the case. So they have to now -- how do the farmers say it? -- make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

I wonder what approval process will take place in Temagami. I think I'm safe to talk about Temagami right now; the member for Timiskaming is not here. The approval process there is rather interesting. We see in Temagami now huge chunks of old-growth pine forest that will be cut and new mining activities that will take place. I understand that some of the people who reside there and some in political office there are perhaps acquiescent to this. I don't know if the Ministry of Environment, with its chopped budget and chopped resources, will be able to deal with the approvals process there. I would love to see this retained as one of the real benefits we have in this province, and not simply get out the saws and start cutting down some of the nicest forests we have, the lungs of the earth, so to speak, an area envied by other countries. We have tourists come internationally to enjoy very passive recreational activities involved in that forested area.

I know a general philosophy has permeated this government that says enforcement isn't the way to go, that we should try the voluntary way of dealing with industries, with municipalities and with others who carry on activities that might in some way impact the environment in an adverse fashion. My experience has been that only tough laws that are fairly constructed -- that is, with full consultation with everyone involved -- and tough and fair enforcement is acceptable.

I remember, when we established the investigation and enforcement branch, that it was not particularly popular with some industries. In fact, I would arrive to visit an industry, and if the investigation and enforcement branch had been there at a previous time, particularly if it were recently, I would be told -- they used an unfortunate name -- "I see the Gestapo was here the other day." That's the way some of the industries reacted to the Ministry of the Environment investigations branch, because they thought they were so tough.

I thought that an unfortunate choice, but the point they were trying to make was that these people were there only to enforce the law; not to counsel us, not to suggest how we should be behaving, but to go in to investigate. If the necessary evidence was found, they would enforce. Let me tell you, that was very effective. The law that was brought about that said members of the board of directors of companies could be personally liable for environmental degradation caused by their companies ensured that they made certain that their companies were behaving in an environmentally desirable fashion. When you get into this approvals process, some of the people who were resistant to that have won the day.

I recall, even within the government of which I was a part, that there were some heated discussions over how long the approvals process took. I pointed out to those who thought it was an uncommonly long time that I could point to several examples of where approvals were obtained quickly in years gone by and you could see the environmental results of that. I heard it mentioned by one of the members about landfills and how hard it is to site landfills, and indeed it is.

If there are ways which can be found to make the process better, maybe move along faster while at the same time being as stringent, there's nothing wrong with that. But I become suspicious, because I remember there are a lot of powder kegs out there, old landfill sites. The rural people can tell you. They're the people who have often been the victims, because their groundwater has been spoiled by old dump sites. You see, you don't go and put the dump site in the middle of somebody's city; you take it out in the middle of the agricultural land. That's what people do. They put it out there. The city garbage goes out in the agricultural land.

We want to ensure that when those sites are found there is an appropriate assessment of the site before it is approved. If you ease the approval process, you increase the chance that we're going to have some disastrous results many years down the line. That's my concern, because city folk have always felt that the countryside was the place they would like to see the dump site, and agricultural members here -- who will, by the way, be fewer in number after the redistribution -- will know the problems with fast approvals for landfill sites.

That's a concern I have, because those people will have less of a voice in this House after the redistribution takes place. This House will be reduced from 130 members to 103 members. Where will they come from? Why does it affect this bill? It affects this bill because those who represent agricultural areas will have less clout in this House, will have fewer opportunities to make known the concerns of the agricultural community. For that reason, we're liable to see more landfill sites approved that are detrimental to those in the farming community.

I looked at some of the approvals they talked about. When you're talking about a fan for a restaurant, if you said, "This restaurant can't open till it's got a fan, and by the way, you're on a waiting list of 200 days," or something, that would be unreasonable. There isn't anybody I talk to, environmentalists or non-environmentalists, who wouldn't say: "Look, make sense. Why not reduce that amount of time? Why don't we change that approval process?" No problem. You may have problems with neighbours once it's installed, because not everybody likes the odour of the food that's being cooked being blown out the door at their next-door residence, but that is of less significance to the environment than an approvals process which would allow for something that would be detrimental to an entire neighbourhood or an entire community.


I know it sounds good. It's good talk when you get out there to the fund-raiser and all the developers are gathered around and they talk about the Ministry of Environment and so on. I know it's great talking points with them, to nod and say: "Yes, isn't it awful it takes this long? We'll fix it." But in the long run, you have to talk to the families of the developers -- the spouses, the children, particularly those who've gone through education and have become aware of the environmental consequences of some actions -- before you think that speeding up the process in all cases is what should be done.

I saw another situation, speaking of approvals -- and this directly affects approvals -- written about by Mr Bob Hunter, who works for CITY-TV on the environmental beat and writes in a local newspaper as well. It says the following, and I think it's worth quoting into the record because it talks about approvals, which this House is going to be dealing with through this legislation. It's entitled "Eating Niagara."

"Well, new anti-environment minister Norm Sterling" -- that's his comment, not mine -- "hadn't even moved his furniture into the hapless Brenda Elliott's vacated office when the" -- oh, I can't say this -- "when the fur hit" -- I'm just putting my own words in there, because it isn't exactly what it says in the article -- "and it was the pits. Literally.

"Specifically, gravel pits. Gravel pits on the Niagara Escarpment. The sacred Niagara Escarpment itself.

"The Niagara Escarpment is one of only six places in all of Canada to be designated as a world biosphere reserve. The escarpment, home to 1,600-year-old dwarf trees, is a sweeping corridor of green space, vital among other things to the area's tourism industry. In its heart, however, several companies have been blasting away with heavy machinery at the otherwise bucolic plateau top.

"You really have to see these gravel pits to appreciate their scale. Not only are you looking down into a man-made Grand Canyon, but as the ground begins to shake and you hear the roar of a gigantic engine coming up from the depths, you suddenly remember what `heavy machinery' means. It is called a `quarry,' an innocuous enough word. Romantic, almost. But what it should rightfully be called is an open pit strip mine.

"Upon hearing that their business buddies in the aggregates industry were losing their battle to expand operations, the Tory government quietly posted a little regulatory change over the Environmental Bill of Rights electronic registry, an amendment under the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act that would basically tear the guts out of the escarpment protection laws.

"The regulation would exempt aggregate companies licensed before 1975 from having to obtain permits from the escarpment commission, the legal defender of the zone. If it is successfully rammed through, more than 40 different aggregate companies will be able to go ahead, wreaking havoc.

"Did I mention that, after losing the two court cases, one of the big operators, United Aggregates, wrote to Brenda Elliott's office complaining about how hard life was? We don't know the exact contents because the minister's office won't release it. We do know that after receipt of the letter, the deregulation amendment was posted.

"The really cute plot point in all this turns on Elliott's vow, in the dying days of her ministry, that new province-wide deregulation measures would not, repeat NOT, apply to the Niagara Escarpment, an admission that the area was just too sensitive.

"Yet the truth is, while she was still at the helm, the decision was made to hand the aggregates industry a licence to do virtually what it wants.

"Which is where the new anti-environment minister comes in."

I repeat that I'm quoting Bob Hunter, not myself. I suspect, if I may editorialize, that it wasn't the decision of the minister but rather those who advise the Premier and others in the cabinet, who said, "This shall be it," and the minister simply had to comply.

"Which is where the new anti-environment minister comes in," it continues.

"The awkwardness for Norm Sterling is that, in a previous political incarnation as an MPP, he berated the Liberal government of David Peterson for cutting funding for the protection of the escarpment.

"Is he now going to give the aggregate industry carte blanche to chew its way farther into the tortured back of the plateau?

"He could, on the other hand, give the thumbs-down to this outrageous rollback of escarpment protection. He has the power.

"Or he can go the Brenda Elliott route: play ball according to whims of the Tory deal-makers; forget that his real job is to protect the environment, not set it up for a ripoff."

Now, that's Bob Hunter, and he is an ecology specialist for CITY-TV, writing.

I know that individual ministers don't make these decisions, which is why is have a lament for the previous minister and a concern for the present minister. I know they will face, despite the fact that they may try to protect the environment, undue pressure from their colleagues to make changes. But who has to take the flak for it when those changes are made? The minister who is the minister of the day. A person gets blamed by all and sundry, some in the news media, when in fact it is cabinet as a whole and the Premier's office who make those decisions and one can't attribute that to an individual minister.

This is talking about approvals. This is saying that in the Niagara Escarpment, where you had to get a licence from the Niagara Escarpment Commission, now you don't have to -- that's the proposal -- if you have grandfathered rights. I don't think that's good. I'm not saying that the government cannot entertain proposals; it's not what's said. I'm simply suggesting that it would be appropriate for everyone, regardless of whether they're already there or not, to obtain the licence that is required, to go through the process. If, after going through the process, it is approved, at least we'll know they've had to go through that process. I see, with this lessening of the approvals process by this government, that that's not going to happen.

Now it's environmentalists who will make the case, but down the line you're going to find that people are badly impacted. As I look at approvals taking place, I look at the Niagara Peninsula, represented now by six members and, after redistribution, by four and a half members -- the clout of the Niagara Peninsula will have been reduced by one and a half members as a result of redistribution.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Who's that?

Mr Bradley: Well, the Hamilton-Wentworth municipality will take a large portion of one of the ridings, so it won't all be Niagara Peninsula ridings, to the Minister of Agriculture, who asked.

I look at the farm land that's there. Approvals deal a lot with farm land, and I mentioned severances already. One of the reasons the Niagara Peninsula is so pleasant an area is because it has a lot of agricultural area, has a lot of rural area that people can enjoy. But there are some people who believe progress will have been attained only when Metropolitan Toronto extends from its present borders right through to Fort Erie, and then they will nod and say, "Isn't that great progress?"

That's not a view I share. I think we have a unique resource there, both for agriculture and for tourism, which is enhanced by a large amount of rural land, and that we are not looking at progress when we develop every last inch of the Niagara Peninsula or any other part of this province.

But once it's developed, you don't undevelop it. Once the subdivisions are built where they shouldn't be built, you don't dig them up and take them away. Once factories that would most appropriately be put somewhere else are put on prime agricultural land, they're there forever and you can't recover that.

That's why it takes a forward-looking minister. The minister mentions to the House that he's both a lawyer and an engineer, and I congratulate him on that. That's a considerable accomplishment on his part, to be qualified both as a lawyer and as an engineer, and, I might say, as a parliamentarian as well. But that does not mean we're necessarily going to see environmentally positive decisions as a result of that. Indeed, some engineers see progress only when we're building, only when we're constructing, only when we're developing, and some lawyers act for people who want to develop. I'm not suggesting that's true of the present minister, but since he mentioned it in his initial remarks, I thought it important to note that that isn't necessarily a positive attribute for a Minister of Environment.


I mentioned companion bills. If you want to look at the thrust in the environment so far, outside of one my friend the Minister of Agriculture has been involved in -- that is, ethanol, which I think many people would consider to be a positive one, in combination with the federal government establishing an ethanol plan -- if you look at most of what the government has done, it's stepping backwards. It's back to the 1950s that we're heading. In the environmental approvals process, we're stepping backwards on the environment. In the environmental assessment process, we're going back to the 1950s again, or at least to the 1960s if not to the 1950s. In the famous bully bill, as we called it in the opposition, Bill 26, which gave so many powers to the cabinet, to unelected people, we allowed changes to mining operations which I don't think were conducive for the environment. We threw that in with several other things, I might add, at that time. With the aggregates act changes -- I think that bill is coming back to the House as well -- we made changes which I thought were not in the interests of the environment.

The Minister of Environment has a lot of backfilling to do, and he's good at that in this House. I've watched him over the years. But what he is really good at -- and I want you, Mr Speaker, and members of the House to know what he is good at -- is that if he can find one scintilla of evidence that the federal government might be somehow responsible in some remote way for something, the federal government will immediately get the blame when he believes it's appropriate, and he will be sure to take the credit when it's appropriate. I want to lay that out for people. When we're questioning him in the House later on, watch him as he blames the federal government for everything -- well, virtually everything.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: You never did that.

Mr Bradley: No. I remember the Mulroney federal government well, and your predecessors, and I know some of them are now part of your caucus. I know that will permeate this government. Sometimes I can't recall these things, but I cannot recall that as a minister I would ever blame the federal government, or that our government did. But it may have happened; I don't want to preclude that possibility.

What I'm looking at is a situation where a minister has seen his government erode the environment and environmental progress since his time in office, and I want to see a reversal of that. I will be the first to commend him when he is successful in reversing that, but I suspect, with all the colleagues he has -- outside of the Minister of Agriculture; he'd be sympathetic -- who want to elbow aside the Ministry of Environment, the clout that ministry once had will certainly not be returned. The minister will have to nod acquiescently to his colleagues -- or nod off, one of the two -- in cabinet meetings when we are dealing with matters of great importance to the environment.

Paul Muldoon, an impartial voice on the environment, wrote this, upon finding out about this bill. "Tories Waging War on the Environment" is the title. I don't know who wrote the headline. I don't know if it's accurate. But I know it contained many concerns he wanted to express -- and he's an impartial individual -- about what the government was doing, and it was triggered by this bill. That's why I make reference to it. I'll read parts of it. It says:

"The government wants Ontarians to believe it wants to `simplify' environmental laws and regulations, but in reality it is in the midst of an unprecedented campaign to dismantle them. The latest chapter of the campaign unfolded when the environment ministry recently issued a report called Responsive Environmental Protection.

"This document outlines the government's proposals to consolidate, amend or repeal the existing 80 regulations that control air and water pollution, waste management and pesticide controls.

"Some of the proposals may weed out obsolete provisions. But these gains are overshadowed by blatant and not-so-blatant attempts to reduce Ontario's environmental protection."

By they way, I should say that when you use titles such as you have in this bill, and a report called Responsive Environmental Protection, it reminds me that everybody who's anti-environment has always used terms like "the Coalition for Environmental Responsibility." The Coalition for Environmental Responsibility was the chief lobbying group against the spills bill. It portrayed farmers as being totally opposed to the spills bill and portrayed itself as a rural coalition. Unfortunately, I found out that its headquarters was in downtown Toronto, in one of the tall buildings, and that those responsible were really those from the petrochemical industry who were annoyed with the potential of the spills bill. And so there we were, those individuals.

Now, I'm not talking about Gord Perks in this case. I'm sure he will offer an evaluation of your government at an appropriate time. Perhaps he's in Temagami at this time trying to save the old-growth forests that you're allowing to be cut.

Anyway, it says: "The document must be seen" -- I'm continuing to quote from Paul Muldoon -- "in the context of the government's environmental record. In a study released last June, the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy documented the Tories' first year in office and concluded that efforts `to amend or repeal environmental laws, regulations or policies...have affected virtually every aspect of environmental protection and natural resources management in the province.' The study lists more than 30 governmental changes affecting environmental protection." This again is a very objective group, the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy.

"The now infamous omnibus bill amended a number of environmental statutes to relax cleanup requirements for mining, set the stage for the dismantling of conservation authorities and made it easier to overdevelop the province's lands and waterways.

"A new planning act stripped the environmental protection from land use controls. Changes to the province's basic Environmental Protection Act, in Bill 57, may exempt thousands of companies from going through approval proceedings. Proposed amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act would give the environment minister the discretion to relax requirements for full environmental assessment of new projects, even significant ones like landfills and incinerators.

"Apart from legislative changes," they go on to say, "the environment ministry's budget has been reduced by 35%, eliminating more than 750 jobs. Some of the most innovative and effective environmental programs in the province have been cut.

"The government says the Responsive Environmental Protection document merely seeks to further some of these legislative changes and to `tidy up' regulations without lowering environmental standards. In fact, the `tidying-up' will result in rollbacks of existing rules and put up additional hurdles to the development of new environmental regulations.

"The effect of the proposals includes:

"Removing reporting requirements for industrial polluters that may indicate whether their discharges might cause long-term harm.

"Removing requirements for pulp and paper makers to plan to eliminate certain toxic water emissions.

"Handing over responsibility for the control of odour, noise and dust to municipalities.

"Reducing requirements for companies to conduct audits and set goals for reducing packaging and other wastes.

"Removing requirements to obtain approvals for scrapyards, since rules governing them would be `standardized,' and exempting other waste activities.

"Removing some permit requirements for pesticide applications and possibly requiring less public notification.

"In addition, the document would make it more difficult to enact new environmental regulations by proposing a `regulatory code of practice.' The code will require a vague economic analysis of new regulations throwing into question whether, and how, the long-term benefits of environmental protection compare to short-term regulatory costs.


"Further, the code will require an examination of `non-regulatory' or voluntary measures. Voluntary measures can be considered the flip side of deregulation. As regulatory requirements are stripped away, they are replaced with voluntary commitments on the part of industry. Voluntary measures lack the vital protections found in regulatory measures to ensure that both governments and industry are accountable for their actions. It is difficult to enforce a voluntary agreement since compliance depends more on the goodwill of industry than the rule of law.

"Verification of results is always a problem and voluntary measures often operate without the benefit of direct input of the public.

"The people of Ontario should note what is happening to the green laws that protect them and their environment, and inform Mike Harris that his government actions lack common sense regarding both the environment and the economy."

Paul Muldoon is a lawyer with the Canadian Environmental Law Association. These are his objective evaluations of government activity, and part of the article was prompted by the movement of this bill before the Legislative Assembly by this minister.

I'm waiting to see the government come forward with positive environmental regulations, legislation and policies. I hear word that they're thinking of moving in the area of auto emissions. I await that, because I know British Columbia has been considerably ahead of us in this regard. Some of these matters are of a federal nature. The minister will certainly tell us which ones are at the appropriate time and will point fingers when he feels it is politically necessary to do so. But I want to encourage him in that regard to work with the other provinces and the federal government to ensure that emissions standards for automobiles are improved considerably. I know he will want to ensure that the vehicles on the road today perform in an environmentally positive manner, or at least not so negatively as many would see fit.

Part of this is impacting on another ministry. Your job, Mr Minister, is made more difficult because the Premier wants to cut back on grants to public transportation. As municipalities cut back in their public transportation services, we find a need for more individual vehicles on the road at all times. That is most unfortunate because it will make the minister's job much more difficult.

The government has made a decision in Niagara with which I disagree. The government has given approval for Niagara College to locate outside of the city of St Catharines, what's called the St Catharines campus. I approved when the previous government of Bob Rae suggested the funding would be forthcoming to Niagara College; I support that adequate funding for the college. But I don't support -- I didn't when Premier Rae announced it outside of St Catharines and I didn't agree with the latest announcement on the location.

The reason I mention that environmentally is that it means now services are going to have to be put out from one of the municipalities, probably St Catharines, to service it, and because of its location it will not have easy access from public transportation. Instead, individual vehicles will be heading out there and the Ministry of Environment's job becomes tougher, the Minister of Agriculture's job becomes tougher, because as people see development out there, they will want to see further development on adjacent land which is of agricultural benefit: good soils, great climatic conditions, particularly for the growing of tender fruit.

So when the minister is making his decisions, we have to understand it's not just the Minister of Environment. It's the Minister of Transportation and how he sees public transportation. It's the provincial Treasurer, the Minister of Finance, and how he's prepared to allocate funds; that's probably the most important position. And of course it's the commitment of the Premier to the environment. If those people are not supportive, I'll tell you, the Minister of Environment has a tough time, and there are other ministries as well that impact his ministry.

On the approvals process, I want to tell the minister there are some of these approvals with which we would agree. Some make some good sense. Many of them I'm very worried about.

If there's one issue that used to -- and I think it will in the future -- bring together people of all political backgrounds, it's the environment. I'm not talking about those with a vested interest in development; I'm talking about rank-and-file members of the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party. I think they want to see a good environment out there. The government has to resist the temptation to bow to the powerful interests, those who have a lot of money -- I don't want to overemphasize this -- those who attend fund-raisers because they have lots of money to attend fund-raisers, who have the ear of the government. Keep in mind the rank-and-file Conservative members, some of whom are good friends of mine in my part of the province and other parts of the province, who I think have a genuine concern about the environment. When you bring forward legislation of this kind -- and Paul Muldoon mentioned five or six instances which are not good for the environment -- it sends the wrong signal.

I'm not blaming the last minister. First of all, I don't like attacking people personally, and I didn't. I simply felt that minister was not going to get the support from the necessary people in the Premier's office, the cabinet and other significant places. The present minister, because of his experience and stature in this House, will have more clout. He's a combative individual when he feels a strong passion about an issue. He has demonstrated that in this House and I'm sure within the confines of cabinet. I'm urging him, encouraging him and supporting him in any efforts he would make to resist further legislation of this kind, which I think is not good, in total, for the environment. To make some of the changes, yes; go out there and consult.

What the government can do, what the government does to make a case is it picks very isolated and extreme instances of silliness in the approvals process and says, "See, we need some substantial changes." I would agree with getting rid of some of the silly stuff, if it exists, but not with -- to use a worn-out phrase -- throwing the baby out with the bathwater when you do it. I become apprehensive when I see my friend the member for Lincoln rubbing his hands and hear him extolling the virtues of deregulation, which his committee was involved in. Regulations were established over the years not to be a nuisance to people; they were established to protect consumers, to protect people in our province.

There are people out there who will say, "Buyer beware." I think the lawyers use the term "caveat emptor" -- I think that's the word that is used -- buyer beware. Yet we brought in consumer legislation which helped protect consumers from unscrupulous business people. You know who supported that? The consumers supported it, but more importantly, good, honest business people supported that, because they would have none of that and yet they were faced with competitors who would do unscrupulous things to gain a better profit.

That's certainly true of the environment. As I mentioned previously, we have some good, sound, responsible environmental companies in this province. When I see the money they've spent, when I see the resources they've put in to protect the environment, when I see the training they've done of their employees, I'll tell you they deserve protection from those who aren't prepared to do the same, who aren't prepared to be strong and good corporate citizens.

So I say to all the members of the government caucus who are assembled in the House listening to this speech this afternoon, because I know they are all concerned -- their concern is demonstrated by their attendance in the House today -- that this bill, in total, is not a positive move. It's not a move in the right direction. There are certain aspects of it that are worthy of support, but many aspects that are not worthy of support.

In conclusion -- and I did not want to take the full 90 minutes because I've saved some of the time for my colleague the member for Parkdale, who wishes to address some issues. The Minister of Environment, on behalf of the government, kindly consented along with the NDP to allow us to split the time.


I say to the minister that I heard pragmatism and common sense mentioned, and I hope those words are not misused. I hope the words "responsible environment," "common-sense environment" and "reasonable environment" are not translated into actions which are detrimental to the protection of something that is not only for this generation but for the next and the next and the next generations.

We have some considerable power, particularly those who are in the cabinet and in the Premier's office, but all members of the Legislature have certain power and responsibility, and that is to protect not only those of us who are here today but to protect the future for those who are to come, the youngsters who are out there today and their children and grandchildren.

Legislation of this kind and companion bills do not advance that cause, and so we in the Liberal Party will be opposing this legislation, because we believe it goes too far in watering down the approvals process. In fairness, we want to indicate some support, but in other ways not be prepared to give support. As the government members flock back into -- sorry, are back into the House, many of them, some who are listening on their television sets acutely, others who are in committee, I urge them, particularly those who are not in the cabinet, to urge the Minister of Environment and other members of the cabinet to not come forward with pieces of legislation of this kind in the future, but rather to embark upon a course of progressive legislation and regulation which will protect our province and its environment now and well into the future.

Mr Ruprecht: I want to pay tribute to the member for St Catharines, because his words were very much thought out, and as he's been the former Minister of Environment, he knows full well of what he speaks. Of course, we appreciate that the present minister was in the House taking his time to listen carefully to what our colleague had to say previously. It would pay him well to heed some of his comments.

It will take the Minister of Environment a long time, obviously, to realize the full impact of his ministry. Of course, today we know that it will also take all the courage he can muster. Why is that? He will soon find out that many of his own colleagues will be influenced by other kinds of considerations and, I might even add, by some persons who have in their minds the whole development process to be changed, but it will take courage on his part because he stands up not only for the environment and for those who care deeply about the environment, but also for Mother Nature.

The air and the water and the animals don't have a voice. All combined will count on this minister to speak on their behalf. That's why it will take a great deal of courage, because he will represent not only those of us who care deeply about the environment -- I know he will share some of these concerns -- but also he has on his shoulders a great responsibility. That responsibility is obvious, because future generations will look upon this minister and will judge him on what he's done today. I know that the Premier -- the member for St Catharines has already alluded to it -- has chosen him because he believes he is a person of fair means and of a just mind. Our confidence today goes with him, and we hope he will abide by the trust that has been given him.

Now to the point: The environment ministry has recently issued a report called Responsive Environmental Protection. This report outlines the proposals to amend or repeal existing regulations which control, of course, air and water pollution, waste management, pesticide controls and a whole number of other issues. Changes to the province's basic Environmental Protection Act in Bill 57, which is before us today, will exempt thousands of companies from going through approval proceedings. Proposed amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act would give the environment minister the discretion to relax requirements for full environmental assessment of new projects -- even significant ones like landfill sites and incinerators.

Apart from these changes, the environment ministry's budget has been cut. The question we want to ask to the minister today is, is it true that the Ministry of Environment has lost over 750 jobs in the last year? Is that true? We expect from him today, in his response, to stand up and say what numbers have been decimated. What are they? Are there 1,000 employees who have lost their jobs, all of them committed to ensure that our environment is in good stead? Is it true that the budget of the Ministry of Environment has been reduced by over 35%, or is that simply a figure that someone drew out of the air?

The impact of a 35% cut and the impact of over 750 employees losing their jobs within the ministry must be great. What we expect today from the minister is not perhaps to justify the reductions of 750 people and a budget cut of 35%, but what does that mean? Does it mean we will do more with less, as part of the Common Sense Revolution proclaims? Is it true, and I'm asking the minister directly, that there are enough inspectors out there to ensure that toxic chemicals are not going into Lake Ontario and, for that matter, into the Great Lakes? If there are not enough inspectors out there, how is he considering to manage a ministry that has as its first preoccupation, and must have as its first preoccupation, to ensure that our environment is protected? Can he protect the environment of Ontario with a cut of 35%? Is that doing more with less? Less with more? That is a significant question the minister will have to answer.

We're here to help him. He must not think that all our actions here will be confrontational.

Hon Mr Sterling: You're here to help?

Mr Ruprecht: We're here to help you. We're here to help you simply because we have a certain amount of trust in you. We've known you for a long time. We know sometimes he stands up and ensures that the minority is being heard. This is a minority report. He has to represent the minority, but he's got this responsibility to ensure this province is protected.

Is this today a better province by this reduction? The Common Sense Revolution will tell us that yes, it's going to be better. Bill 57 is saying, "We'll do away with much of the overregulation." Obviously all of us here, as politicians, have various constituencies that all speak to us, but one of the most important constituencies of this minister will be those without a voice. As the member for St Catharines pointed out, that voice will not be in this House. That voice will not be at various meetings where we will raise funds. That voice will only be within the conscience of this minister. That voice will only be when he leaves this chamber and exposes himself to some of the decisions he will have to make.


It is clear to us today that upon this minister, on his shoulders, rests a great responsibility indeed, and we do not want to mitigate that. He will have to understand that.

We say today that the rollbacks of existing rules he is proposing under Bill 57 -- what are they? What is the significance of some of them? Of course, the favourite tactic has always been to set up a straw man, meaning you put up there some ridiculous notion of overregulation, you start shooting at that, and everyone will say, "Yes, sure, that is the case; we're being overregulated." But at the same time, when you talk about rollbacks, when you talk about cuts, when you talk about kicking people out from the environment ministry, you must also then look at what is being rolled back specifically.

What we're looking at here is that these proposals include removing reporting requirements for industrial polluters that may indicate whether their discharges might cause long-term harm. Another one is to remove the requirements for pulp and paper makers to plan to eliminate certain toxic water emissions -- very serious charges, very serious rollbacks. Or handing over responsibility for the control of odour, noise and dust to municipalities, as I outlined earlier in my question to the minister. He is somewhat agreeable to the fact that there will be a great change.

Will the municipalities have the power to increase enforcement mechanisms? Will the municipalities have the will to ensure, with the budget cuts that have come from this government -- and now we're loading even more responsibilities on the municipalities -- that our environment is protected or, as in this case, will they simply throw up their hands and say, "We have not enough money, not enough funds to ensure our environment is being protected"?

Another rollback is reducing requirements for companies to conduct audits and set goals for reducing packaging and other wastes; or removing requirements to obtain approvals for scrapyards, since rules governing them would be standardized, and exempting other waste activities; or removing some permit requirements for pesticide applicants, and possibly requiring less public notification. If some of these are not rollbacks, then what are rollbacks? What are we talking about here? People have to look at these specifically.

In addition, the minister proposed what's called a regulatory code of practice which will require an examination of non-regulatory or voluntary measures, and we know what that means. In a Toronto Star article by Paul Muldoon, which we referred to previously, he says very aptly that if we leave voluntary measures to industry alone, can they be trusted?

We know what happened in Parkdale a few years ago. I go back to 1981 when the now minister was in this House. In 1981, in an area called the Junction Triangle, we saw first hand what some of these voluntary measures were and we saw first hand how some of these companies can be trusted.

We know full well, for example, that if you say to a company, "We expect of you to fully comply with voluntary measures," what will they do? Will they instruct their employees to say: "We've got a toxic chemical here. We've got three or four litres left over. What do we do with the waste? Do we dump it down the sewer or do we call a contractor who will charge us hundreds of dollars, in fact thousands of dollars, to get rid of this toxic waste?" What's the decision going to be of the president of that company? We know what some of the decisions were. They were, "Dump it down the sewers." That was the decision made. We saw it first hand.

I went into a company in the Junction Triangle and I saw first hand the crates that were being washed with toxic chemicals, then the water that was applied later went right down the sewer. That toxic chemical ends up where, when it goes through the sewer? It ends up in Lake Ontario, where we take our drinking water from. In fact, we're being affected by it every day.

So when we talk about voluntary compliance, we know that is not going to work for all the companies. Some companies which may be on the brink of bankruptcy are not going to call in a special service to get rid of chemicals or process them. We know that's not the case. I was very, very happy when in 1982 the then Minister of the Environment said, "We're going to listen to the residents of Metro Toronto and not burn PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, within the city of Toronto." That was after the decision was made, in fact, to start to consider burning PCBs within the cities of Ontario. Can you imagine that? We didn't have the right technology for burning PCBs, and yet that was under active consideration by the Ministry of the Environment, to give permits for burning PCBs.

We know PCBs are indeed very, very dangerous chemicals, and the whole burning process has been placed on hold simply because we don't know what the consequences of that burning will be. But in those days it was considered to burn it right within the city boundaries of Metropolitan Toronto. At that time too, the Minister of the Environment listened to some of the residents and said: "No, we're going to be looking at the burning process in much more detail. We're going to decide to hold off on the burning." Today, of course, we're happy that this process was not taking place. Today, of course, there's burning in Swan Hills in the province of Alberta and they're looking at new burning technologies, but we know what some of the consequences were. On Friday afternoons, when some of the workers wanted to go home, what was primarily in their minds? Their minds were made up what they were going to do on the weekends, so "Push some more PCBs into the incinerators and to hell with some of the regulations."

But we don't wish to dwell on these specific items, because today we're looking at Bill 57 and the rollbacks in some of the regulations. "Voluntary measures lack the vital protections" that we find today in the regulatory measures "to ensure that both governments and industry are accountable for their actions." That's the conclusion that Paul Muldoon comes to. When we look at all the specifics and we look at the whole bill, that's the conclusion we come to as well.

So what this minister and this government must look at is the social cost of environmental degradation. That's specific. What is the social cost of air pollutants? We know what happens in the city of Toronto. Some days the radio will say, "Hold on, residents of Toronto. Don't go out today. Don't breathe the air today," because if you do breathe the air in the city of Toronto on special days, you're going to have a dire consequence. "Warning, warning, warning. Don't breathe today. Don't go out today, because our pollutants are in the air."

You've heard the warning, I've heard the warning, and sometimes the consequence of that is death to some of our residents simply because they went out on those smoggy days and had to take a breath. The social cost of environmental deregulation, of environmental degradation, must be included in the decisions that are being made.

It's the same with smoking. We know there are great social costs attached. We know that many smokers end up in hospitals and that consequently the cost to the taxpayer is great.


Should we then not consequently look as well to the social cost of environmental degradation? I, for one, would not like to see another warning in the city of Toronto that says: "Hold off. Don't go outside today, because if you do you're going to have dire consequences to your health." That, to me as a Canadian, is unacceptable. I know that wherever you come from, whatever city you represent, whatever town you come from in Ontario, it's obvious that you would not wish that kind of a warning to come through your town council or have that on the radio waves.

Today, we're playing with fire. Are we giving Mother Nature a chance to replenish itself? Are we doing that? We know when we look at the Great Lakes that literally there are millions of tonnes of toxic waste spewed into the Great Lakes. We know that today. All the governments surrounding the Great Lakes know there's a crisis. The governors in the United States from the states surrounding the Great Lakes are calling a special meeting. The committee studying the Great Lakes, which obviously is part Canadian and part American, is calling this an environmental crisis.

Ontario, which has more border along the Great Lakes shoreline than any state in the United States, has a special responsibility as well. Our responsibility is to ensure that we will have the waters clean, and yet where are the alarm bells in this House? Where is the government on this issue? Where are the members who stand up and say, "Look, we've got to maintain a pure, clean environment, especially within the Great Lakes region, in the Great Lakes basin." We know there's a crisis, and yet who speaks out? A minority. That's why this minister has a special task to perform. He's the Minister of Environment and, as I said earlier, upon his shoulders rests this responsibility.

Finally, as my time will expire shortly, let me simply ask this question: What legacy are we leaving our children? Are they going to be able to swim in Lake Ontario? Think about it. In the west end of Toronto we had a wonderful beach called Sunnyside. Sunnyside Beach, for the last few years, has not been swimmable, never mind drinkable; you can't get in there and drink the water because you'll get sick and might die. Can our children go to Sunnyside Beach and swim today? No, the bacterial count would be too high. Why wouldn't that be a good, clean beach? Because we in this government, in this Legislature, have not called this a crisis and have not funded it especially or specifically.

Does Mother Nature have time to replenish itself? If we look at those beaches within the city of Toronto, we can see environmental degradation at its worst. The question then should be: What are you and what are we prepared to do about it? Are we here simply to say to some of our industry, "There's nothing we can do," or are we able to go and look at the lake ourselves? Are we living in a cocoon here?

Obviously we can't get out there and see every environmental problem people are calling us on, but certainly we should get out to the lakes and see at first hand what's happening to (1) our drinking water, (2) the fish we catch in Lake Ontario and (3) the blue heron, the different animals that call Lake Ontario their home. What's happening? We take the fish out and we see chemical changes in the fish. Fish being at the end of the cycle, we see that their mouths or their tails are deformed, and consequently, because of chemical intake, they will never be able to reproduce correctly.

We're playing with fire today and we have a responsibility. That's why we're here today to support this minister, because we believe, all politics aside, that there's got to be some cooperation, because this is a crisis. It is a crisis of politics because there isn't enough funding.

That's why today I'd like to ask this minister, has he sent his inspectors out to the polluted beaches of Lake Ontario -- or wherever you come from? Each one of us, every one of us, has a crisis of the environment in our own riding. If you look hard enough, you'll find it. In fact you don't even have to look hard enough. I can just walk down to Sunnyside Beach and I can see the crisis in my own area. I can walk up to the Junction Triangle and see another crisis staring me in the eye. I just walk down here out of this building and I see it occasionally. So all of us have to cooperate and work together.

Finally, let me simply say this. Those who speak for the environment -- and you say, "There are some radicals and they're demonstrating occasionally, and we don't know what Greenpeace is doing here and there, and there are some other people who seem to be crazy," but in the end we only have one environment. That's it. If we screw it up, and we're in the process of doing it, we're never going to be able to get it back. It's not a question of saying, "Today we're going to have some more salmon in there, the salmon are going to come back, and we can see the fish are going back to Lake Ontario." No, it isn't quite like that, because there are millions of species that are in danger today.

Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for being indulgent, and I wish the new minister well.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Questions or comments?

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): It is with interest that I listened to the comments made by both of the members from the opposition party, and I've got to concur.

The point that I think is interesting and telling is that the government is saying, when it comes to gutting environmental regulation, what they're really doing here is cutting red tape, what they're really doing is trying to make it easier for businesses to operate in this province -- not small businesses, I would add, but large multinational corporations in this province. They're going to make it easier for them, they're going to cut red tape. Boy, it's going to be a lot easier to get through that approvals process. Just you wait. The benefits will reel into the province of Ontario and we're just going to be so well off it's going to be unbelievable.

Then at the same time the government has the gall to say: "Don't worry. The environment will be protected. We're going to do this economic development and at the same time that we reap the benefits of the economic side of this, the environment is going to be okay. Everything will be fine. Don't worry. Trust us." But why is it that in this legislation the government is exempting itself from any liability for its actions? That's what they're doing in this legislation if you take a look at the fine print.

The government can't have it both ways. They can't say, "We're going to exempt ourselves from liability against environmental disasters in our bill to make sure that we don't get sued in the event that that happens," and at the same time turn around and say to the people of this province: "We're doing this. This is good stuff economically. It's only readjusting. It's only red tape issues and the environment's going to be good."

If you thought, as a government, that the environment was not going to be affected, that the environment was going to be protected, that in the end we were sure we weren't going to have some wholesale destruction within the environment of this province of Ontario, you would have not put in a clause that says you're exempting yourself from any financial or other liabilities in regard to this matter.

I say to you it is fairly cynical what you're doing. Come clean. What you're doing is you're giving the power to the large corporations to do what the heck they want at the expense of the environment.

Hon Mr Sterling: I would like to thank the speakers for taking the time and effort to put forward their views with regard to Bill 57 on a whole number and range of issues on the environment, including the odd comment about the Niagara Escarpment Commission and myself, which the member for St Catharines has mentioned a few times before in this House.

I want to say with regard to the last speaker, he's way off base in terms of his interpretation of the liability clause. This kind of clause is quite common in legislation, has been there in previous legislations by previous governments, and quite frankly is put there to prevent interests from wasting taxpayers' money in defending useless lawsuits. That exactly happens.

Mr Bisson: Imagine them standing up for the environment. What a waste of taxpayers' dollars.

Hon Mr Sterling: Well, we'll be able to discuss the details of the bill in the committee.

I'd like to indicate to the members that I've listened to all the debate so far and I will continue to listen to the debate in trying to improve this bill. I do hope they will offer particular constructive suggestions as to how this legislation can be altered and can be improved, because that's what they're here for. I get a little bit less comfortable as people harp about old problems and old biases and those kinds of things.


I'm glad to see the member for Algoma-Manitoulin agree with me, at least in a nod, that we have had these regulations growing topsy-turvy over 30 years. We have to look at revamping them, and that's what this whole process is about; we have to improve this process. I invite the members to join me in doing that.

Mr Michael A. Brown: I'm certainly glad that the Minister of Environment has chosen to talk about 30 years of regulation. I think that's fair. There have been 30 years of regulation and they do need to be reviewed. The problem I have, of course, is do we get the result that we really need to get? We need to have a proper review of the regulations, one of the things this government has not permitted to be happening. Those things happen behind closed cabinet doors, and it seems to me that for the minister to have some credibility on these issues the regulations have to be put out into the public domain so the public can be assured that what the minister is saying is in fact the truth.

As I look at the honourable member for Carleton's past quotes -- June 27, 1990: "The Liberal government is spending something like 112% more in its Ministry of Environment budget than it did in 1985. I have no problem with the Minister of Environment asking for two or three times that budget if that is what he needs to address the issue." And just so you know, in 1990-91 the budget was $537 million. Now we have the minister working with a budget of $373 million.

The minister was rather selective in quoting me, but what he didn't seem to understand is that no regulation and no process is worth anything if you cannot enforce it. The enforcement capacity of this ministry has got to the point that I think Ontario should be concerned about its water quality, Ontario should be concerned about its air quality, and certainly Ontarians should be very concerned about the future of their children in this province.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to comment on the speech by my Liberal colleagues, because they have tried to name very clearly what some of the problems are in this bill. It's fine for the government to try yet again to portray itself as solving problems that have been there, cutting red tape, making it more easy for citizens to understand and for businesses to operate; that's the line they're using on this and many of the other changes they're making.

But the reality is that they are fundamentally, as the member suggested, changing the whole relationship of the ability of the government of Ontario to ensure for its citizens that the environment is safe. They are basically writing a blank cheque to those who are would-be polluters. They are saying in this bill that once they've notified the public -- and the public has 30 days to make comment -- they can exempt any class of businesses.

I live right next door to a dry cleaner, all right? And I can see the day, because I know that dry cleaners have been very reluctant to follow the environmental rules that have been put in place -- I can well see the day that dry cleaners will apply for an exemption as a class of businesses under this act. I can assure the member that my experience is not much different from other members of this House. We will be watching all of those circumstances over time, and if, as we suggest, what you are doing here is giving polluters the right to make the rules, to write their own rules and enforce their own rules, it will be a very, very serious matter for the future of Ontario and, I would suggest, for the future of your government.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Bradley: I appreciate the remarks that have been made by members of all parties.

I think an interesting dwelling point of the minister was on liability and who may have access to the courts and to the opportunity to take environmental action. You see, as the government withdraws, as the government reduces its staff, as you go into the local offices of the ministry and find fewer people who are able to enforce the laws of the province in terms of the mandate of the Ministry of Environment, the more you're going to need individuals to take up that action and afford opportunities for individuals to take up that action. If that is restricted by any new legislation, we'll have a reduced action on the part of both the public and the government in terms of the ability to deal with tough environmental issues.

I also believe some of the tough measures that were put into effect in terms of the fine levels and the jail sentences and other penalties that are available for people who pollute were put in to protect the general public and to protect industries.

The minister asks for us to make suggestions on how the legislation can be improved, and that is where the role and responsibility of individuals come in in committee. I know our party will want to make those suggestions on what parts of the bill should be withdrawn, which should be amended, and perhaps some additions to the bill to strengthen it, because ultimately the government, with its 82 members, is going to be able to pass this legislation. I certainly respect that. That's a decision of the electorate of this province, and I will be the first one to say the government is entitled to do that. I simply hope the minister will listen to our representations and those of many others who have appeared before committees and who have expressed views in writing.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): Mr Speaker, I ask for the indulgence of the House --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Would the member take his seat for a moment. Is there unanimous consent for the minister to make a statement? Agreed.

Hon David Johnson: -- to inform the members how it's proposed to deal with the procedural issues raised by the pending resignation of Speaker McLean on September 26. I would note that the following has been discussed with and endorsed by the House leaders of the other parties.

Tomorrow morning, during the time normally used for private members' public business, we propose holding an election of the Speaker under the following terms and conditions:

(1) The parties have agreed to put forward only one candidate for the position. That candidate shall be installed as Speaker pursuant to standing order 3(c).

(2) The candidate will indicate at the time he or she takes office that they're assuming the office for a period of one week only and will not be campaigning for the position of Speaker on a permanent basis.

(3) The election of a permanent Speaker will be held next Thursday morning, October 3, during the time normally used for private members' public business.

It is the view of the House leaders that this process will allow those members interested in seeking the Speaker position sufficient time to consult with their fellow members and, I might add, their families and other interested parties, while ensuring that the business of the House proceeds in an orderly manner consistent with the provisions of the standing orders and the Legislative Assembly Act.

I believe this process has the support of all parties.



The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will now continue on the debate. Further debate on Bill 57?

Ms Churley: I will speak briefly today and continue tomorrow. I appreciate the Minister of Environment coming to tell me that he does have to leave soon but has agreed to stay for a few minutes. I'm sure he will carefully read Hansard or watch my speech on TV late tonight in the rerun.

I want, first of all, to say to the member for Carleton East, who is in the Chair now, and to the member for Perth that I appreciate the fact this is a difficult time because we're short a Speaker, and that they have very kindly allowed me, because I'm the critic in this area, to not take the Chair today. I recognize the sacrifice that's been made by both of you, given that we should all be taking a shift, and I am sure you will make me pay you back for that. Anyway, thank you very much.

I would say to the Minister of Environment, I said earlier today in a statement that I congratulated you, and I sincerely do and I wish you well. I listened carefully to what you said in your speech today and I mentioned in a two-minute rebuttal that I was disappointed because I was hoping we would see in you, the new Minister of Environment, a new direction, and that's not what came out today. You opened your speech with, "Congratulations to the previous minister, good job, good leadership, and I'm going to just keep going where you left off."

That to me is problematic because what I have been saying and what many environmentalists, in fact all the environmentalists across the province -- and not just environmentalists, but many in the media and others -- have been saying for some time now is that the deregulation and cuts that are happening in your ministry are unprecedented in the history of environmental protection in Ontario, which started with a Conservative government.

There are a couple of things that have already happened that have got me worried. One is your statement today about this bill. I hope, and I will be requesting through the House leaders, that you will agree to hearings on this bill because at first, given the other very fundamentally important bills that are out there, as you know -- I forget the numbers -- like the EA, the changes to the environmental assessment and the so-called responsive environmental protection, which I have another name for that you'll hear later -- this one, at first blush, until you read between the lines, seems like it might be innocuous.

There are those who say that if taken out of context, if all of these other serious deregulation steps had not already been taken, it would still be a problem. There are many elements within this bill we're debating today, Bill 57, that are problematic, but when you put it together with the litany of other cuts and deregulation that already have happened or are about to happen, we have a very serious problem indeed. I'm disappointed that the minister did not say today, because this was an opportunity, that he too would like to see some changes made. I would say to the minister that there are some changes that needed to be made. I'm not going to dwell too much on those because those are the ones, the innocuous ones that the minister seems to dwell on most and not so much on the more serious ones.

Another issue that concerns me greatly is the Niagara Escarpment. The member from St Catharines talked at great length about that. The minister may recall on August 19, just before he became the minister, I believe, that much to people's amazement there appeared on the environmental registry that there was going to be a regulation removed protecting the Niagara Escarpment.

This was two weeks after the government announced its blueprint for environmental deregulation and the gutting of environmental protection in Ontario, but there was no mention of significant regulatory change here. What's happened is that -- I know with your long-standing commitment to the Niagara Escarpment you must have concerns about this -- your government changed a regulation to accommodate apparently the request of United Aggregates that recently lost not one but two court decisions requiring it to obtain a development permit from the Niagara Escarpment Commission for the new activity. That has implications as well for all of those who were producers before 1975. They will no longer require the NEC's permission to expand their activity.

We talked briefly on the phone when the minister called me -- which I much appreciated, I might add -- to discuss the delay of the clause-by-clause on the EA bill. I'm looking forward to having some discussions about changes that need to be made there, but I'm surprised that we have not heard anything from the minister yet, particularly with his background, on the Niagara Escarpment and this very dangerous backward step in terms of moving this regulation. I think it will bode very badly for the new minister, a very bad start, if he doesn't convince his cabinet caucus that his reputation is on the line if this is not changed.

There can be no justification. It is not just red tape. It is not just regulatory. This kind of activity in the Niagara Escarpment, which as you know has been designated by the United Nations as a world biosphere reserve -- it is not just an insignificant piece of land. With a few exceptions in this House --

Mr Galt: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, under section 23(b)(i): We are debating Bill 57, and we're discussing the Niagara Escarpment Commission. I wonder if we could get on topic.

The Acting Speaker: I cannot rule that you're right because I was not listening. I trust your word; you're an honourable gentleman. I promise you that I will pay more attention.

Ms Churley: I reject the parliamentary assistant's position on this. It goes to show in other debates, and we've had this little kerfuffle before, that he doesn't understand the environmental issues. These are all connected, as I said. Mr Bradley from St Catharines stood up and spoke at length about the whole breadth of environmental issues, and for some reason the member didn't stand on his feet then. I would argue that perhaps a precedent has already been set today by the member for St Catharines speaking about the whole picture, which I'm sure the Minister of Environment would not object to. In fact, one cannot talk about this bill without talking about the other aspects, because they are all interconnected. There are no boundaries to the environment, and that's both literally and figuratively.

Coming back to my point that this is about deregulation, that is what we're talking about in regard to Bill 57, that is what we're talking about when I talk about the Niagara Escarpment, that is what I'm talking about when I talk about the Responsive Environmental Protection document and others. It's all deregulation; you cannot isolate this small bill out.

Having said that, I very much hope to hear an announcement from the minister. As I said, his reputation is very much on the line; a very bad start if he doesn't repeal that regulation.

I'd like to thank the minister for staying for that part and I look forward to discussing some of these issues with him later.

I want to put into perspective today, and later tomorrow I'm going to go into more comprehensive details about the bill -- and it's not just my perspective; it's the perspective of environmentalists, environmental lawyers, experts in environmental policy and law and regulation, who have grave fears about this bill and are worried about its implications. I want to put this whole issue in context, and we must not forget this: Remember Bill 26 and remember that this government wants to give a 30% tax cut. May I add again that we all know by now that the richest in our society are going to benefit from that tax cut.


How does this government find the money to give this kind of massive tax cut when they're also trying to reduce the deficit? They do it by making cuts across the board. Now we all know that the major savings to be found are in education, in health and in social services. We have seen and are seeing very serious cuts in education that are going to have massive impacts on the classroom, despite what it said in the Common Sense Revolution document.

However, coming back to the Ministry of Environment, because I admit I got a little bit off topic there for a second, the government needs to find every single penny it can wring out of every ministry, and as the member for St Catharines said earlier today, there is not a huge commitment to environmental protection from this government.

I believe the member for Northumberland, the parliamentary assistant, means well. We have sat on committees together and we have had serious discussions about the environmental deregulation going on. I guess what's a little scary to me, because he is an honourable man, is that he actually does believe it. It amazes me, but he actually believes it. I think there are some of them over there who know better. I mean, give me a break. It's about time that you start at least telling people the reality of what's going on here.

They have cut from the Ministry of Environment almost 800 staff, in a very small ministry, and cut more than $200 million, with more to come. They're starting to look foolish. They're starting to look very foolish and ridiculous to keep repeating -- I mean nobody is going to keep on believing this -- that they're actually improving environmental protection.

I think more and more -- I'm trying to speak to you, Mr Speaker -- they're going to start finding that the polls show people want their government to protect the environment. I know that's what the spin doctors who helped write these wonderful titles -- I have to admit I congratulate them on their titles. They're better at titles than the New Democratic Party was, I think, but we were honest about our titles. These titles do not, and I'm speaking carefully, describe the contents of these bills.

It's important that people be told what is really happening. Why won't the Minister of Environment stand up -- instead of saying: "Oh, we're not hurting the environment. Au contraire, we're improving environmental protection." Who is going to believe that after a while? I think it has been taking a while for people to catch on, but daily there are more and more stories in the press about the lack of environmental protection and the deregulation and the cuts that are going on and that people want their environment protected. I think it would serve everybody well for the government just to be up front about that, to say: "We can't afford to protect the environment the way other governments have. We have to do our tax cut. We were elected on our tax cut. Therefore, we have to save money, so we're going to cut environmental protection. Sorry, but that's part of it." Just be honest. That way at least people know where they stand.

There's a lot of spin-doctoring going on here. There's a lot of very -- how should I put it? -- not quite correct titles to these documents, and some of them are very technical. The document before us today can get very technical in places, but once you read through it, it's not that difficult to understand the implication. It doesn't matter what the Minister of Environment says today and what the previous Minister of Environment said; there is serious environmental deregulation going on, and that's happening for a number of reasons.

You've got to ask who's benefiting from this deregulation? Who is benefiting? It's not the people of Ontario, who want a clean environment. It's not our children and our grandchildren and other generations who are going to have to pay with their health and the cleanup of the mess that's going to be left behind. It's not just the general population. It's the corporate polluters. They were asked, "If you could wave a magic wand, what regulations would you like removed?" That's a statement in itself, and the government listened to a lot of requests from the polluters. It is big corporations that are benefiting from this deregulation and the cuts, and that's saying to people, "You can now write your own rules."

Nobody is objecting to cutting red tape when it's unnecessary and to tightening up the process and making it more efficient. I get angry when I keep hearing those words over and over again that have nothing to do with cutting red tape, and it is fooling the people to say, "Oh, don't worry, cutting this regulation is actually going to help protect the environment." That's ridiculous.

The government will be able to tell whole categories of businesses, "Do anything you like," and that comes through this bill and this bill and all the other bills and changes in regulation that have either come before us or that we don't even know about. It's basically saying, "You won't get caught; we don't have the staff to catch you any more with the few regulations that are left." This bill and the practice it represents is a threat to our communities, to our health and to our jobs.

The government members protest and say: "We're only cutting red tape. We're letting business do what it does well, create jobs, create wealth without all the bureaucracy. Let's get government out of our face so we can just keep creating all these jobs and helping the economy." They're doing that by slashing the ministry by a third so they can save the money to help pay for the tax cut. I can give you just one example, and I'll be giving you more.

It is not safe with a government that has already told mining companies that they don't have to get approval of mine closure plans from the ministry any more. That happened way back with Bill 26. It's not safe with a government that is gutting the Environmental Assessment Act, tearing the very heart out of the Environmental Assessment Act. That's what's happening, and we'll be having further debates on the EA. We did have hearings and we'll be coming back before the House, and I hope very much that the minister will listen to the environmentalists and others out there who are very concerned about these changes.

The legislation must be taken in the context of all that's happened to date in the environment and deregulation. If you don't look at this bill in the context of all the other deregulation and cuts, if you take one piece over here, you've got a problem because you have to look at the cumulative effects of these cuts and changes because they all interact with each other. For instance, a large part of the bill we're debating today is talked about in this document as well, Responsive Environmental Protection. I'll wait and get into that tomorrow, when I have more time. What I'm going to do now is talk a bit about putting into context why this bill is in some cases almost catastrophic if it goes ahead.

The government to date, and I'm going to name some, has withdrawn Ontario's ban on the construction of new garbage incinerators. Some people think that's fair, that's the way it should be, "Let EAs take care of whether or not it's the best and most viable solution." Now, on top of that, the EA act is threatened to be gutted and there could very well not be a proper EA to site an incinerator or the ability to look at alternatives to that. The problems, with the ban on incinerators, have been doubled now.

The government killed the successful green communities program. This created all kinds of jobs, I'd like to add. Not only did it help immensely with energy conservation, and people save money by getting energy conservation devices in their homes, but it created jobs in communities. Of course, as we well know, this program as well was put in partly to combat greenhouse gases, which is a very serious problem. But the cancellation of this initiative will cost thousands of direct and indirect jobs across Ontario; that's cutting off your nose to spite your face.

It terminated funding for the popular blue box program and it also eliminated funding for other waste, 3Rs, the reduction, reuse and recycling initiatives.

It slashed the funding to the Niagara Escarpment Commission, and I am going to be counting on the minister to put back that funding, given his commitment, or his previous commitment, to the Niagara Escarpment. Of course, we're very concerned now, as is the member for St Catharines, who talked about, who is going to replace the environmentally conscious people who were on the board and are now gone? We'll be looking at that with interest.


It eliminated funding for municipal household hazardous waste programs. This program was designed to keep toxic materials out of landfills. Again, I'll be talking more about this government getting rid of the hazardous waste programs that our government started to put in place, after the cancellation of the OWMC. That's all gone and that's a very serious problem.

It killed the CURB, the Clean Up Rural Beaches program. We know what happened in Collingwood recently. There are other -- I had a list, I forget how many, but a series of communities across Ontario in rural areas that could be threatened, and this was part of a program to keep our lakes and rivers and streams free of pollution.

It also weakened numerous clean water regulations under the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement program. That means more pollution in our lakes and rivers. That's what it means. There's already too much going in, and this government has moved in the opposite direction; it's going to let them put more in. It began the dismantlement of the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights. Again, coming back directly to this bill before us today, it is moving even further away with the new regime under the class acts, with people not having to apply for any kind of certificate of approval, and means that there will even be less involvement. So that's being dismantled even more.

The government dismantled environmental safeguards under the Planning Act. Believe me, I sat through the hearings on that, and we've talked about this in the House. I urge people to go back and read the Hansard and read that bill again and see how serious the environmental deregulation in that bill is. The effect it's going to have, long term, on our land use planning is going to be just devastating. The only hope we have, and I believe it's quite possible, is that we will have the Tories turfed out of here in four years and not a lot of development will have happened on some of those lands that have had the very important environmental protections relaxed or taken away, and it can be saved. Of course, developers don't like uncertainty and I think that's a danger this government took when it decided to go so far. Even pre-NDP and pre-Sewell commission stuff, it went back pre-Bill Davis, some of it. It's ridiculous.

It also killed the Ontario Waste Management Corp -- I talked about that -- and the province's hazardous waste reduction strategy, eliminated grants for environmental research. That creates jobs. It puts us in the leading edge of environmental technology.

It slashed funding to the Environmental Appeal Board and to the Ontario conservation authorities by 70%. They're going to be threatened now. They may end up having to sell valuable land that's actually been donated to conserve. It slashed funding to the Ontario Energy Board, fired the environmentalists from the Ontario Hydro board -- they did get back through a court order -- disbanded the Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee, eliminated the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy, killed the Municipal-Industrial Strategy for Abatement Advisory Committee and then immediately after saying, "We don't need them any more, we have reached our objectives in MISA." It's just like the Niagara Escarpment thing: Get rid of the committee, announce they're not needed, "We've reached our goals," and then, as soon as they're gone, actually, after killing the committee, lower the standards. That's what happened here.

It terminated the Advisory Committee on Environmental Standards, refused the local option to protect local air quality. That had a huge impact on me and my riding. Remember that? The government actually refused to enable the city of Toronto to implement a clean air bylaw. I couldn't believe that, because in that case it was just a municipality, the city of Toronto, which has a very serious smog problem, which is why I agitated day after day to the previous environment minister to bring in a car exhaust testing program. And this government, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who is here, said no. It's absurd. It wasn't going to cost them anything. It couldn't hurt them.

Who told the Minister of Municipal Affairs to say no? Why would they care about that? Ah, he's perked up. He's listening now. The Minister of Municipal Affairs is here, I'm happy to see. To the minister, I'm talking about the fact that you refused to pass legislation to enable the city of Toronto to implement a clean air bylaw. Why would you do that? What's the big problem? You wouldn't have to pay for it, enforce it or do anything. Who in the world would have asked this minister and this government to not allow that clean air bill to be passed?

It also conducted a regulatory review of environmental regulations with a view of dismantling them. I've got a story to tell, and maybe I'll take a few minutes to tell this now, because it's very telling.

We kept hearing for months and months and months that all departments in all the ministries were being asked to look at ways to cut red tape. I asked the previous Minister of Environment one day in the House what role she played in the setting of the terms of reference for that, and she said none. It really shows, in this package right here, who had the upper hand in where they cut. This is not smart environmental deregulation. This is not about cutting red tape.

The story to tell is that Paul Muldoon, who's been mentioned frequently here in the House today by several members, is a respected environmental lawyer who knows environmental regulation inside out and seriously under stands the implications and the broad connections and cumulative effects, the kinds of things we're talking about here. He tried to get the technical background papers for this document for months before it came out. They wouldn't give it to him. Finally, he filed through freedom of information, and it took quite a long time. Finally, through his persistence -- and I congratulate him on that. I think it was 600 pages or so of background technical documents.

Well, guess what he found? He found that in many of the recommendations from the staff at the Ministry of Environment in certain areas -- and I believe MISA was one of them -- the technical staff who deal with these issues daily, yearly, said: "We think this program is working well; no need to change it. In fact, we recommend not changing it." But this government chose to ignore the advice of some of its very experienced staff.

What does that tell us? Who are they listening to? Not to the general public, not even to some of their very experienced technical staff. You have to ask who they are listening to and why they would go ahead with certain regulations which they believe, in my view, from what I saw, could actually harm the environment. Or it's a regulation that's working well -- why change it?

I will stop at that point today and will continue tomorrow debating this bill.

It being almost 6 of the clock, I move that the House be adjourned.

The Acting Speaker: It being close to 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1759.