36th Parliament, 1st Session

L099 - Thu 26 Sep 1996 / Jeu 26 Sep 1996












































The House met at 1001.


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): Members of the assembly, it is my duty to inform you of a vacancy in the office of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario due to resignation. It is therefore my duty to call upon you to elect one of your numbers to preside over your deliberations as Speaker. Therefore, I ask for nominations for the office of Speaker.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I, Jim Bradley, move, seconded by Bud Wildman, that Ed Doyle, member for the electoral district of Wentworth East, do take the chair of the House as Speaker.

Clerk of the House: Is there a seconder for this motion?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I second the motion.

Clerk of the House: Does the member accept the nomination?

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): I do; reluctantly, but I do.

Clerk of the House: Are there any further nominations?

I therefore declare Mr Ed Doyle, member for the electoral district of Wentworth East, elected as your Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): I just want to say this is an incredible honour and I thank you all. It will be short, but I will do my best. I really thank you very much. You're all so kind.

His Honour the Lieutenant Governor entered the chamber and took his seat upon the throne.

Hon Henry N.R. Jackman (Lieutenant Governor): Pray be seated.

The Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly has elected me as their Speaker, though I am but little able to fulfil the important duties thus assigned to me. If, in the performance of those duties, I should at any time fall into error, I pray that the fault may be imputed to me and not to the assembly, whose servant I am.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I am commanded by His Honour the Lieutenant Governor to declare to you that he freely confides in the duty and attachment of the assembly to Her Majesty's person and government and is confident that the proceedings will be conducted with wisdom, temperance and prudence.


Hon David Johnson: I move that this House now adjourn until 1:30 pm.

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of this House that we adjourn until 1:30? Agreed.

The House recessed from 1010 to 1331.



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Mr Speaker, I'd like to welcome you to the chair.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Mr Agostino: Yesterday evening, the Hamilton District Injured Workers Group held a forum attended by about 200 injured workers. The forum invitation was issued to all six Hamilton area MPPs as well as the minister, the former minister in charge of the WCB and other government members. Unfortunately, the only two who chose to attend and speak to the injured workers were myself and the member for Hamilton Centre. None of the four Tory members in the Hamilton area, the minister's office, the former minister involved or any of their parliamentary assistants saw fit to come and face the injured workers who are going to be affected by the draconian changes to the Workers' Compensation Act and health and safety across Ontario.

Many of these individuals were concerned about the benefits being cut; the deindexing of pensions for workers; the wait period, which has been changed; and the ongoing attack against injured workers by this government, day in and day out. These individuals last night were truly concerned and were looking for answers from the government members. Unfortunately, what we saw was an empty chair and no one from the government side of the House having the guts or the courage to face those injured workers.

I issue a challenge again to the local MPPs, the minister and the former minister: Next time you're invited, have the guts and the courage to come and face those injured workers in Hamilton-Wentworth whom your decisions are brutalizing and injuring more every single day of the week.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Mr Speaker, let me add my voice to those who congratulate you on your short but none the less accelerated ascension to the Speaker's chair. I'm sure you'll do an honourable job there. I particularly welcome you as a fellow Hamilton-Wentworth resident.

The Speaker: I appreciate it.

Mr Christopherson: I rise also to comment on the meeting last night that I attended along with my colleague the member for Hamilton East regarding the changes to the WCB. If any of the Tories had been there or if the minister or the former junior minister had been there, they would have recognized that this nonsense they talk about the fact they're going to improve workers' compensation is just that -- a lot of nonsense. The only people who are going to gain are their corporate friends.

They intend to cut the benefits to disabled workers, and somehow workers who are injured on the job don't qualify as fully disabled. This government promised not to hurt disabled citizens, but somehow workers injured on the job don't count. They're fair game; you can go after them. You're going to cut their benefits by 5% and give that 5% as a break in premiums to your corporate friends, and that's disgusting. You're going to privatize parts of the WCB. You're going to put employers in charge of deciding in the first instance whether or not these are bona fide claims.

This government needs to be on notice: When you bring out that legislation, you'd better get out there into public hearings. If you're listening, perhaps you'll do the right thing and withdraw, really make changes that help workers and stop attacking workers.


Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): Mr Speaker, again, congratulations on your election to the Speaker's chair.

I rose in my place about one year ago, and in fact you may remember, to tell this Legislature and the people of Ontario that my community, the city of Brantford, had won the national Communities in Bloom competition.

Since then we have moved on. We have moved on to compete against the world and as recently as about a week ago, my community, the city of Brantford, was awarded the international competition championship for Communities in Bloom competition.

I want to say that there are a number of people in my community who deserve a great deal of thanks for making us world champions and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their contributions, whether they be organizers of the event locally or the individual residents who came together to make us world champions. Of course, they deserve a great deal of congratulations.

I also want to tell the people of this Legislature and the people of Ontario that when you come to Brantford and when you come to visit our community, you are visiting what is now considered to be, and is recognized as, the most beautiful community in the world.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Mr Speaker, welcome to the chair.

Yesterday I stood to speak about the issue of the doctor shortage in my community. It's becoming worse as we go day by day, in particular, the issue with obstetricians. We have many women who are pregnant, who are in need of prenatal care, who are in need of delivery services in the very next few short months.

When we brought this to the attention of the House -- and we've been doing this for several months -- we have yet to have any reasonable attempt by the Minister of Health to address this most significant problem. Yesterday, in fact, the minister spoke with reporters from the Windsor Star and today on the front page of my paper in my community the minister says that he's prepared to declare a state of emergency in Essex county.

May I please suggest to the minister that we already have a state of emergency. What does a state of emergency mean? Does he call in the army? Does he call in the navy? Are these people going to be the ones who are helping with the delivery of babies and the provision of prenatal care?

Let me tell you what else the minister said to our reporters from the Windsor Star, "But if it is an absolute emergency, they can pop across the river." I've got to say to the minister, have you ever been to the city of Windsor? Do you know what it's like to pop across the river? Was he being facetious?

He's also said that he's prepared. "We are supplying cell phones, pagers and fax machines to the officials." Is this going to help in the delivery of babies? I think not.

Mr Minister, please take this issue seriously. He must address and find a solution.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I would like to bring to the attention of the Legislature an event which is taking place this Sunday in Toronto. It is the seventh annual AIDS Walk Toronto.

AIDS Walk Toronto is part of AIDS Walk Canada, a national fund-raising and awareness project for the Canadian AIDS Society. All funds raised in this Toronto walk will go to benefit AIDS service groups in Metropolitan Toronto.

Last year, over 18,000 people participated in the walk. At that time, the walk was called "From All Walks of Life." It's a fitting name because the walk brings together people from all walks of life to fight this terrible disease which affects people from all walks of life.

Registration for the walk begins at 10 o'clock at the Toronto city hall in my riding and passes through the neighbouring ridings of St Andrew-St Patrick and St George-St David. I hope to see the members of those particular ridings come that day.

As in previous years, I will be participating in this year's walk and I would like to invite other members of this House to join me as part of my team, to support the cause by a pledge or to participate in the walks in their own ridings.

I want to congratulate the AIDS Committee of Toronto and all of the volunteers who have helped to organize this year's walk. It's a good cause and one which I hope you will all support.



Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): It's a pleasure to see you in the chair, Mr Speaker.

Auto theft has become a major problem across this province and it's costing millions of dollars to insurance companies and ultimately to the consumer. Last year in the region of Hamilton-Wentworth alone, over 5,000 vehicles were stolen. Some 76% of these thefts were committed by youths aged 12 to 17 for the purpose of joyriding.

I rise today to bring to the attention of the House a new initiative launched by the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police. The Community Auto Theft Reduction project, or CAR project, has launched a major public service announcement aimed at youths aged 12 to 17, containing a very strong message called "Scared you straight."

The CAR project has received funding for the public service announcement campaign from the General Accident Insurance Co of Canada. The campaign will consist of public service announcements, both video and audio, and will be aired on both radio and television throughout southern Ontario for a period of 13 weeks.

I would like to congratulate everyone involved with this very worthwhile campaign. It's another prime example of private and public sector working in partnership to accomplish very worthwhile objectives. I encourage other municipalities to follow the lead of the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police and look forward to similar projects to combat car theft.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Mr Speaker, welcome to the chair.

The people of Sudbury were surprised to learn they had received a one-week reprieve from Mike Harris's health care budget axe. Last Tuesday was supposed to have been the day Mike Harris's handpicked Health Services Restructuring Commission announced which of Sudbury's hospitals would have their doors locked forever. But to everyone's surprise, the announcement was abruptly cancelled, delayed for one week. People hoped the delay was a sign that Mike Harris had had second thoughts on breaking his promise not to close hospitals. They hoped Mike Harris had realized his cuts were jeopardizing quality health care in Sudbury and across northern Ontario.

Unfortunately, the reason for the delay was only because Mike Harris was coming to Sudbury -- not to save our hospitals, but to attend a Conservative Party fund-raiser tomorrow at $150 a plate. The hospital closing announcement was delayed simply because Mike Harris didn't have the courage to face the people of Sudbury and defend his decision to close our hospitals.

The Premier can try to avoid facing the damage by delaying the announcement, but the damage he is causing will be with us for a long time and the people of Sudbury have long memories. They will remember Mike Harris as the person who came to dinner, closed their hospitals, and didn't have the courage to take responsibility for it. Bon appétit, Mr Premier.


The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): The member for London -- my apologies. I knew it was London, but I wasn't sure which one. The Chair recognizes the member for London Centre.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Thank you, Mr Speaker, and thank you for agreeing to take the Chair.

Last winter, as the justice committee travelled around the province looking at health consent issues and substitute decision-making legislation, we heard from many in the disabled community that they feel they are subjected to prejudicial views on the part of health care professionals around the issue of "do not resuscitate" orders, whether those are in terms of emergency rooms, in expected surgeries or medical conditions which we would not normally consider to be life-threatening.

Given the recent issues that were raised in the Tracey Latimer case, where a parent of a disabled person killed her because of his assumptions concerning the quality of her life, this matter is of urgent concern to disabled people in this community. Indeed, we heard in an article in the Toronto Star on Monday of this week that these concerns have not yet been allayed.

In my community, I'm meeting with the hospital CEOs and with the ethics committees at our hospitals to ensure that "do not resuscitate" orders are not inappropriately applied to disabled people. I would urge other members of this Legislature to work with the disabled community in their own locales and ensure that their hospitals and health care professionals are responding appropriately to this concern.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I'd like to extend an open invitation to all Ontarians to this weekend's Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour in my Muskoka-Georgian Bay riding. Our part of central Ontario has become home for a diverse community of artists, artisans and crafts people who have set up small businesses and become entrepreneurs selling their own works.

The studio tour provides an opportunity for visitors to get inside crafts people's studios and homes and watch them at work. The tour gives visitors the freedom to choose the artisans they're interested in. By starting in Huntsville in the north or Gravenhurst in the south, a number of different routes can be taken to visit any of the 23 participating crafts people, who include painters, canoe makers, sculptors and cabinetmakers.

This annual event also gives local artists an opportunity to have contact with the people who enjoy and admire their work. The visitors are always interested in watching and sometimes participating in the artist's creative process.

The studio tour is a big boost for the local economy, as it allows vacationers the opportunity to spend the weekend at a number of world-class resorts in the area and experience Muskoka-Georgian Bay's many wonderful attractions.

So, this weekend, visit cottage country and experience Muskoka-Georgian Bay's rugged landscape, beautiful scenery and fine artistry.


The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today a Cuban delegation attending the Canada-Cuba Solidarity Conference of 1996. I would ask that you please join us in welcoming them here today.


The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): I have also been advised by the table that they would like the members to retain the election-of-the-Speaker kits that were placed in their desks this morning so that they may be used next Thursday in the election process. We all understand why we need that election process, don't we? I think we found that out rather quickly.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The point of order relates to the number of ministers who are available to answer questions in the House today. The chief government whip was kind enough to inform me in a timely fashion that a number of ministers would be absent and would not be here to answer questions. We look forward to the opportunity to have those questions answered, and so I would like to register with you my complaint about the lack of ministers.

The Speaker: I hate to get difficult on my first day, but it is not a point of order.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Mr Speaker, I'm not trying to be difficult but pose you with the same point of order. I am in the position of expecting both the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education and Training to be present; neither is in their chair as question period begins. I'm wondering if you could ascertain whether they will be here shortly. In their absence, I assume, unfortunately, I may have to stand down my lead questions.

The Speaker: I will see if I can get the answer to that question. Shall we stand down the leadoff questions for the time being? If you would be patient for another moment or two, the minister will be here.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): As I indicated, my first question will be for the Minister of Education or of educational destruction, which is more likely the case. I have a question for you that a Thunder Bay constituent would like you to answer today.

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: There is no such minister. I would request that the speaker on the other side address the cabinet ministers in a proper manner.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): I wonder if the member for Port Arthur could address the minister by his proper ministry, please.

Mrs McLeod: It is the member for Fort William. I did in fact address the minister as the Minister of Education; quite clearly, he is not a minister for education. I'll use the correct terminology.

I come back to the fact that I have a constituent who wants a very direct answer from him on behalf of her child. The constituent is Mrs Rizzi. Mrs Rizzi has a child with a learning disability. Her child is receiving some special education support, but for a good part of the day this child is in a grade 8 classroom with 41 students. Mrs Rizzi has spoken out today about what she thinks of your education cuts. She doesn't believe that classrooms with 40 students are manageable, period. They are certainly not good places for students with learning disabilities, and there are three special-needs students in this class of 41. Do you agree with Mrs Rizzi that this is completely unacceptable and do you understand that this is indeed the state of education in Mike Harris's Ontario today?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for clarifying the title of the ministry and the minister. I think that's appropriate and I'm sure her example will be used by all members of the House.

I'm sure the honourable member knows I cannot and will not talk about an individual case in this chamber. However, if she has information about an individual case or concern about some person's treatment in a school system in Ontario, I'd be more than happy to entertain it, if she'd send it over, and we will make a response.

I can again assure the Leader of the Opposition that our reductions last year, our request to school boards to reduce the expenditures to have a more affordable education system in Ontario, amount to 1.8% of the grants for education in the province. It's a system that spends almost $14 billion, and so I'm sure, as I'm sure most people in the province are sure, that a 1.8% reduction in expenditures should not result in a lack of services in the classroom. I would find any lack of services in the classroom certainly repugnant to myself and all of my colleagues.

Mrs McLeod: I don't think Mrs Rizzi is going to accept that answer. I think she'll realize it isn't going to help her son much. Knowing the details of her case is obviously not going to get much of a response from you. I think Mrs Rizzi knows very well that the cuts you have made in education are hurting children in the classroom. They are most certainly hurting her son. It's important for you to understand that children who have special needs are in classrooms, and when children with special needs can't get the support they need to learn, your cuts have hurt the classroom. Mrs Rizzi is just one example. We can flood you with others.

I have another constituent, Mrs Gliddon. Her son is in a wheelchair and needs special education support. She's afraid there will not be enough special education support for her son to stay in the classroom at all this year. She would like you to know that the cuts are hurting her son. It's not just situations in the Lakehead Board of Education or in Thunder Bay. Those happen to be two that have been in my office recently. If you want to go to Brant county, they have cut 12.5% from the special education in their secondary schools, so there are going to be students in Brant county facing the same kinds of impossible situations that Mrs Gliddon's son and Mrs Rizzi's son are facing in Thunder Bay. How can you possibly continue to deny that your cuts have hurt classroom education and are hurting kids?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I want to again inform the Leader of the Opposition that I, of course, can't comment on individual cases in this chamber. I would be more than happy to entertain those individual cases if she would send them over to me.

I can also again assure her that we have every reason to believe that the requests we have to find savings amounting to 1.8% should not have an effect on the classroom and most certainly should not have an effect on the services provided to those young people in Ontario who are most in need. If those circumstances are happening, it points to very poor choice-making at the level of service delivery, and we would certainly address that.

I also want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that we have said over the course of the last 15 months that we recognize that the general legislative grant system in the province of Ontario is not fair, and that we intend to change it, and that we intend to have funding for education that's designed to meet the identifiable student needs. We believe in funding students and not in funding systems, and that is why we are undergoing the redress of problems in our funding of education that have existed in this province for a very long period of time, including the time the Leader of the Opposition's government was in power. We are finally redressing those very serious concerns.

Mrs McLeod: It is not a question of poor choice-making on the part of school boards, and I say again it is not just the Lakehead board, it is every board in this province that is facing absolutely impossible choices because of the cuts this minister and this government have made to education. If he wants to take the specifics of the case -- Mrs Rizzi has already phoned his office today to make him aware of the specifics of the case -- he might also want to look at the realities of the budget of the Lakehead Board of Education. He might want to find that the administrative costs of the Lakehead board are well under any targets he has set for reasonable administrative costs for a board of education. They have nowhere else to go.

That's what's happening in the real world, not only in the Lakehead board but right across this province, and parents like Mrs Rizzi and Mrs Gliddon and hundreds of other parents of special-needs kids know that's what's happening in the real world. The only one who doesn't understand is this minister who lives in an Alice in Wonderland world where $400 million in cuts somehow makes things look better.

On Tuesday, I asked whether or not you were seriously contemplating even further cuts, millions of dollars in more cuts to education this year, as much as $600 million. You did not deny that when I asked you that question directly on Tuesday. You apparently did deny it yesterday. I think it's time for you to stop playing your Alice in Wonderland games with children's education. I want you to tell us today, to give us a guarantee, that you are going to abandon your plans to cut millions of dollars more out of education when your cuts have already devastated classrooms and are hurting kids.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that her words today have been heard. I think she has made a great case for what we have been saying for over the last year, and that is that the funding system for education in Ontario must be reformed, must be changed, and we are up to that change, although the previous two governments were not up to making that substantive fundamental change to our education system in Ontario.

I want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that my efforts and the efforts of my colleagues over the next 12 months will be the same as they have been over the past 12 months, and that is to make sure the people of Ontario have a more affordable, a more accountable, and most importantly, a higher quality system of education than they had before this government took office, and I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that in fact will be the case.

Mrs McLeod: I can only wish the Minister of Education would stop talking nonsense and visit a classroom where these kids are really feeling the effect of his cuts.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I will place my second question to the minister in charge of closing hospitals. A few days ago you were quoted as saying that hospital restructuring in Winnipeg was giving better service, more surgeries and greater access. Well, that may be Winnipeg, but I can tell you that here in the province of Ontario under your direction the results of your so-called restructuring is chaos and confusion and fear and anger and less access to health care and poorer quality health care in communities across the province.

You will surely be aware now that yesterday the entire town of Wiarton virtually shut down as 3,000 people gathered to protest the impact that your $1.3-billion cuts to hospitals is going to have on their community. They are desperately afraid that your cuts are going to result in the closing of several hospitals, including Wiarton Hospital, and you will know that Wiarton Hospital was built just two years ago after the community raised $4 million.

Minister, as the sole person with the power to sign death warrants for Ontario's hospitals, a power that you asked for and that you now have, will you today assure the people of Wiarton that you will not close their community hospital?


The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): The Minister of Health.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I don't think it was to the Minister of Health, Mr Speaker.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, we have no minister on this side of the floor as titled by the Leader of the Opposition.

The Speaker: I wonder if you could readdress the question to the --

Mrs McLeod: I certainly will, Mr Speaker. If there is no minister by that title, there is certainly a minister responsible for closing hospitals. I will place my question to the Minister of Health, who holds that responsibility.

Hon Mr Wilson: Mr Speaker, I didn't pay a lot of attention to the question because I didn't think it was to me.


The Speaker: Order, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: I have no comment, as is the policy of this government, with respect to the development or the contents of a district health council report while that report is being produced by the local community. As I've said in this House and outside of this chamber, not only during my entire time as Minister of Health but during my entire time as health critic, it is improper for politicians at this level to interfere in the development of local communities' plans for their health care systems, and I will not budge from that position.

Mrs McLeod: When this minister isn't trying to bully his way through health care, he is denying any responsibility for what he is directly responsible for. That includes the closing of hospitals and it includes the $1.3-billion cut that's forcing communities like Wiarton to be looking at the closure of their community hospitals.

Minister, I want you to keep looking at the reality, because you can't deny your responsibility for it. I want you to look at what you're doing in Kitchener -- just one more example, Kitchener -- where your funding cuts have so starved St Mary's hospital that the board is now considering closing their hospital within three years. They simply don't believe that your cuts will allow them to offer quality health care and allow them to stay open and provide health care to people in their community. The closure of this hospital has nothing to do with delivering better care or creating more access. The closure of this hospital, like the potential closure of the Wiarton Hospital, has everything to do with your $1.3-billion cut to hospitals. You know it and the public knows it, and even members of your own caucus know it.

I have here a letter written by one of your colleagues, a letter written by Mr Wettlaufer, the MPP for Kitchener. This is a letter he wrote to you yesterday. In talking about the closure of St Mary's General Hospital, he says:

"The argument justifying this decision was that it was a `win-win' decision, mutually agreed upon and supported by the district health council. However" -- and I hope you are paying attention at this point, Minister -- "I am advised that it was prompted by the threat of an $18-million cutback in funding to the hospitals in our region."

Will you admit that your colleague Mr Wettlaufer, the MPP for Kitchener, concerned about health care in his area, is right, and that the closure of his hospital is being driven by your $1.3-billion funding cut to hospitals?

Hon Mr Wilson: Let me quote from Murray Elston, Minister of Health, Hansard, October 12, 1986: "The object of the amalgamation is to streamline their administration and produce savings, which the hospital plans to use to improve" --


The Speaker: Order. A little more decorum, please, and if there isn't going to be decorum, please try to do it from your own seats. Thank you.

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, I won't comment on the development of local plans by local communities. People deserve our respect with respect to their autonomy to make those decisions. The government made it very clear when Mr Eves made the announcement last year that $1.3 billion will come out of the hospital side of the ledger and be reinvested in community savings. Our first reinvestment of that money, without actually having seen the money yet from hospitals, was $170 million into new community services, to service 80,000 to 100,000 more seniors and people who need community services and create 4,400 new jobs for nurses, homemakers and other health care providers in community settings.

Is the honourable member suggesting that we freeze the hospital budgets, allow them all to drive to mediocrity so there's no excellence any more but 219 hospitals that can't operate properly? Or should we set up an arm's-length commission to take the politics out of this, create centres of excellence in each community and make sure that the people of that community, the patients, can receive the full range of services they're entitled to, including community services?

The member's party announced the $647 million for community services. The NDP announced the $647 million for community services. You forgot to flow a lot of that money. We found that money. We fronted it with a $300-million increase in the budget to health care this year. We're putting the services in place where they ought to be: in the community. If the member is suggesting that we should reverse this entire plan, which is agreed to by health experts and, up to this point, by all three parties, I'd like to hear the honourable member be very clear about what exactly she's driving at.

Mrs McLeod: I trust the minister is not even attempting to suggest that taking $1.3 billion out of the budgets of our hospitals is somehow going to prevent mediocrity and lead them to excellence. That is the fundamental stupidity of what he has done to hospitals and to hospital planning. You can't take $1.3 billion out of the hospitals, starve them into closure and expect to be able to provide access to health care in communities. That is the starting point for quality health care in this province: reasonable budgets and planning that allows us to get the best health care we can.

Listen to local people. Listen to your own colleague, Mr Wettlaufer. Listen to what he says when he says that if it were not for St Mary's hospital in his community, he would be dead today. That's a quote, Minister. He says, "I would be dead today."

People are worried. They think your restructuring process is a sham. They know it is driven by the bottom line, the dollars you have taken out of hospital budgets and the fact that hospitals can't provide quality care any more.

Just ask the people of Kitchener what they think is going to happen. It has nothing to do with future needs. Ask the people of Wiarton as they look at the closure of their community hospital. Ask whether your cuts have anything to do with saving lives; it is jeopardizing them, and your own member has said that.

Minister, will you not understand, will you not admit that because you have cut $1.3 billion from hospital budgets, there is only one bottom line driving the direction of your restructuring, and that is: "Cut, and cut quickly, and damn the consequences for health. Full speed ahead."

Hon Mr Wilson: There is only one party that has cut health care in the province of Ontario, and that is the federal Liberal government, which cut health care by $2.1 billion. That is a fact of life. Go talk to Ottawa. If you think of $2.1 billion, we wouldn't have a problem with physicians today, who want $500 million, a small portion of the $2.1 billion. In fact, although I think it would be the wrong thing for the system -- because it is right to restructure, it is right to create centres of excellence, it is right to get the waste and duplication of administration out of the system -- the status quo isn't even possible because of the $2.1-billion cuts.

Rather than throw up our arms, we are taking a very responsible approach. Restructuring is being led by health experts and people who know of what they speak. The honourable member should point fingers at the federal government. The only party in this province cutting health care is the Liberal Party of Canada.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): It's very interesting that the Minister of Health can afford a $5-billion tax break for wealthy people in Ontario but can't afford enough money for health care and says it's someone else's fault.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also for the Minister of Health. The minister says he has a contingency plan in the event that doctors take no further patients or doctors go on strike. His contingency plan is to send patients to the United States, so I want to ask the minister about that contingency plan. In Ontario an obstetrician currently receives $290 for each normal delivery. The cost of the hospital stay averages $900. Now in Detroit at Hutzel Hospital the average cost for delivery and hospital stay is $10,000. This is not a complicated issue, Minister, and we checked with Ministry of Health staff. So we're dealing with $10,000 in a Detroit hospital as opposed to $1,190 in an Ontario hospital.

All of this doesn't take into account the administrative costs and the concurrent nightmares in processing all those American claims through Ontario's health care system. In addition, it does not take into account the prenatal and post-partum care of the patient. We know that doctors' fees in the US vary quite a bit. In Ontario, if an obstetrician sees a patient from conception through birth and post-partum, that doctor would receive another $540. So we're comparing now about $1,500 in Ontario with $10,000 at a Detroit hospital. Suggesting that you can deal with the problem you've created by sending women to the United States doesn't provide any comfort to the 1,300 women without a doctor.

Minister, can you tell us, if it costs seven times as much in the United States to pay for these health care problems, how are you going to do this?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The naysayers and fearmongers on the other side of the House do a great disservice to the patients and people of Ontario. Only 40 of the 219 hospitals in this province expect any disruption in a worst-case scenario. So we expect to have enough capacity in Ontario to deal with any foreseen consequences of any job actions by any health care providers.

Having said that, I don't expect we will ever have to use the contingency plans, which are not my contingency plans. I am not at the table developing these contingency plans. Officials from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Ontario Hospital Association and, yes, Ministry of Health officials are jointly developing these plans.

I will not speculate today because I believe with the goodwill that we've seen from the Ontario Medical Association and this government that over the next month during our rounds of serious negotiations we will go a long way towards solving the frustrations that physicians have today in this province, had in the extreme when you were in government for five years and were out on the front lawn in 1986 when the Liberals were in government.

This is not a new phenomenon. Unhappy physicians are a North American phenomenon and we will deal with it in the forum that has been set up with the Ontario Medical Association in the serious negotiations that we're about to enter into next Tuesday.

Mr Hampton: Once again, the Minister of Health doesn't answer the question. The question is, and we all know this, that when patients are sent to the United States, the costs go up astronomically. The minister, earlier this week, said to people all across Ontario that his contingency plan was to send patients to the United States. I simply asked him how he's going to pay for it, and once again he doesn't have an answer. So let me try again.

We met with the OMA last night, and I have to say that there is not a lot of goodwill at the OMA for you, Minister. As far as they're concerned, they're tired of hearing about your contingency plans that amount to nothing. But let's have another go at it.

It has been reported that you have $700 million to pay for this so-called contingency plan. It has been reported that's how much you have. If that's what you have, why don't you use it and get down to tackling the real structural problem that exists in Ontario. The real structural problem with obstetricians is that 40% of them are over 50 years old. They're going to leave the system at some point in the next few years anyway, so why don't you sit down now with your $700 million instead of blowing it in the United States and getting nothing for it? Why don't you sit down now and start to tackle the real structural problem?

Hon Mr Wilson: The issue the honourable member raises is a good issue that narrows down to the appropriate supply of specialists in this province. It's an issue that all governments have struggled with. We certainly have some of the best education programs here. We are still a very good place to practise medicine in North America. We are having ongoing discussions through the entire time that I've been minister with the OMA about trying to attract medical students and stream them into specialties where they know they're very much needed by the people of Ontario. That's an ongoing problem and there are solutions to that; from time to time the two parties work out and we are able to attract students into the proper stream. So this is a physician resource management question, a legitimate question, and one that all governments have had to deal with.

Secondly, I watched last night the OMA's video sent out to all the doctors in the province and I can tell you absolutely that Dr Gerry Rowland, the president of the OMA, said on many occasions in that video that was just sent out to all the doctors that there's a lot of goodwill between the government and the OMA and said nothing negative about the government to his membership in the recent video.

Mr Hampton: It's nice to know the Minister of Health spends his time watching videos. I'd like to say to the minister, we met with the real people last night at the OMA and I don't know what you're watching in your videos, but we came away from the meeting with quite a different view of what's happening and quite a different view of how people are feeling about how you've handled the health care system in Ontario.

They're very clear: It's your mishandling of the health care system, it's your resort to Bill 26, which essentially took the OMA out of the picture and that has created many of these problems. Now you have to go across the province and talk to literally dozens of physician groups. You've got no way of managing the problem. And they're very clear about that: You created your own problem; you created your own unmanageable situation.

I want to go back to the original question because I still don't have an answer. The minister is proposing to send 1,300 women to the United States for childbirth and he's proposing to pay $13 million in the United States, when delivery in Ontario would cost $2 million. And then he has the gall to tell people this is all about saving money in the health care system.

I want to ask the minister again -- that is your contingency plan; it's the one you told people in Ontario all about -- how is it that refusing to tackle the real structural problem, how is it that sending 1,300 women to the United States to have their children born there and spending $13 million there rather than $2 million at home, how is it that this gets us anywhere, Minister?

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member across the way has a lot of gall. The doctors began to really get upset with government when you signed an agreement with them in 1991 and 1993, and didn't live up to eight of the 12 aspects, which ended up before the courts. We come into office; we inherit legal bills of millions of dollars, with both sides before the umpires in this quasi-judicial arbitrated system that you set up, and nothing -- everything at a stalemate, people fighting across the table.

The doctors walked out on you in February 1995 and we've got them back to the table. We should be congratulated for taking a proper approach to negotiations. They walked out on you, something you will wear and that party will wear for the rest of your existence here in the province of Ontario, and we're having a constructive relationship. I watched the video because the president of the OMA sent it to me and I had the courtesy to watch it. Maybe you should watch it and show some courtesy to the president of the OMA.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I would ask the next question of the Minister of Community and Social Services, but she is not here, so I'll go back to the Minister of Health. He's the only minister who could ever have most physicians in the province ready to refuse new patients and say that he's creating a good relationship. How absurd.

What can the minister tell us about the Ministry of Health benefit allowance? Has the Ministry of Health benefit allowance commenced? If so, when did it commence or when is it going to commence? What does the Ministry of Health benefit allowance deal with?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I do not know the answer to what the Ministry of Health benefit allowance is. Perhaps the honourable member could tell me whether it's referred to by a different name or what program he's referring to.

Mr Hampton: For some time we have been aware that the government is trying to move some people who are the responsibility of the Ministry of Community and Social Services over into the Ministry of Health, into the health budget, and then say: "The Ministry of Health budget is still $17.4 billion. Don't worry, the health budget hasn't changed, but please ignore the fact that all these new people are now the responsibility of the Ministry of Health." So you have more claims for the $17.4 billion than you ever had before.

Does the Minister of Health admit that the government is planning to move responsibility for seniors and disabled people out of the Ministry of Community and Social Services and into the Ministry of Health with no budget increase? Does the minister acknowledge that?

Hon Mr Wilson: Seniors has already moved to the Ministry of Health, and we have a minister for seniors, in case somebody missed the cabinet shuffle. The program dollars are fully protected. There weren't really many program dollars over at culture for that. With respect to whatever other thing you're concocting over there, I have no idea what you're talking about.

Mr Hampton: I want to read the Minister of Health this memorandum that a client at Comsoc received. It's a computer-printed one and it says:

"I wish to advise that your allowance under the Family Benefits Act has been adjusted, effective July 1, 1996, in light of the following changes in circumstances: Ministry of Health benefit allowance has commenced. Basic allowance has ceased. Shelter allowance has ceased. Medical transit allowance has ceased."

The person who received this is just an ordinary citizen, someone who received an allowance from the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Imagine their surprise when they're now told that the Ministry of Health benefit allowance has commenced.

Let me tell you what I think the government is up to. Not only have they transferred responsibility for senior citizens to the Ministry of Health, with no commensurate budget increase in the Ministry of Health, they are also transferring responsibility for up to 170,000 people with disabilities into the Ministry of Health, about $2 billion worth of budget. But there has been no commensurate increase in the Ministry of Health budget. In other words, it's a shell game.

Yes, the Ministry of Health budget may be $17.4 billion or $17.5 billion, but the fact is that the government is loading more and more responsibility in there and therefore there are more claims for that $17 billion, which means in effect the Ministry of Health budget has been cut and has been cut more than this minister was prepared to let on.

Minister, will you admit that your government is in the process of transferring some of the responsibility for disabled people from the Ministry of Community and Social Services into the Ministry of Health, that you're not increasing the budget at the same time, which constitutes either a budget cut for disabled people or for health care services in the province? Which is it?

Hon Mr Wilson: I don't know what the honourable member is talking about, other than that if the honourable member would like to read the Common Sense Revolution document, it did say we would be setting up a guaranteed income plan for seniors and disabled, because we think it is wrong that people who are on prolonged disability and have no hope of working again -- seniors had to go on welfare to get certain benefits. We said that was against the dignity of human beings like seniors, who don't deserve to have to go on social assistance, and that they should have their own guaranteed income plan.

If the Minister of Community and Social Services were here, they could probably get a fuller explanation, but there currently are discussions going on with consumers, seniors, external groups and the federal Liberal government about how we might structure that plan and fully live up to that part of the Common Sense Revolution and all the Common Sense Revolution.

That is all that is going on. If the honourable member wants to send me across this alleged piece of paper, I'd be happy to look at it. It doesn't seem like very much from here. It's a little scribble on a corner of a page. I'd be happy to try to be more informative, but I can tell you that his speculation is way out of line and way off the mark.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My question also is to the Minister of Health. Minister, on January 17, 1996, you wrote to several health service providers in Sudbury, indicating: "My ministry has already accepted the district health council's recommendations regarding clinical programs, support services and sitings as identified in the hospital services review report. Consideration of other siting models is not acceptable."

Minister, are you still supportive of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Health Council's HSR report and siting designations?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member will know that the Health Services Restructuring Commission, which is at arm's length from the government, will very soon be rendering a decision on Sudbury, and I do not know what that decision will be.

Mr Bartolucci: So much for the response that the minister gave to our leader. He certainly avoided the question, and I don't appreciate it.

But let me follow up by saying that the report is going to come down on Monday -- you're right -- a week later than it should have. We all know the reason why; certainly you do. You all know that the so-called $1.3-billion savings is not to improve service and is not to enhance health care. It's simply to achieve a 30% tax cut.

Having said that -- and I'd like an answer to this question, Minister -- is it your intention to support the health services commission's recommendation to close the Memorial Hospital, the Sudbury General Hospital and the Algoma Hospital if the commission hands down a one-site model for Sudbury and district?

Hon Mr Wilson: The process is very clear to everyone. The commission will render its interim decision, there'll be a 30-day period in which the public and the ministry are invited to make comment, and we will avail ourselves of that period as we expect the honourable member and others to do. At the end of the day, the decision is that of the Health Services Restructuring Commission.

I would again remind honourable members that health care has not been cut one penny in this province; in fact, it's up significantly this year over last year.



Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): My question is to the Minister of Health. The minister will be aware that the condition of the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre is very poor. It was recommended for improvements, was approved for a $20-million capital project by our government and you said you were going to confirm that. Can the minister now confirm to the House that he has changed the $20-million confirmation and 100% provincial funding to two-thirds provincial funding, which means you've cut it back to $18 million total, only $12 million of provincial money, and that's leaving the community $6 million they're going to have to raise for this regional cancer centre? Can you confirm that?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): It is true that we made the announcement publicly that the funding formula for cancer centres has changed from 100% -- this is the capital portion -- to 75%, as has the funding formula for public hospitals. We believe very strongly -- and we're told by the cancer experts, the OCTRF, Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, and others -- that local communities would be very happy to raise a small portion of dollars towards capital projects.

I would ask the indulgence of the honourable member to check exactly the status of that project, because some projects that had been announced were grandparented. Others where we're still waiting for recommendations as to which centres should be built next -- and the OCTRF is getting back to us on that -- would fall under the new formula. I will endeavour to get the answer back to the honourable member as quickly as possible.

Mr Cooke: I can assure the minister that unless his ministry changes the policy and does exempt the Windsor centre, they've already been told they're going to have to raise $6 million. While the minister can say that the cancer associations say they can raise the money, let me tell you the situation we're facing in Windsor right now. With a population in Windsor-Essex of 350,000 people, your ministry is now asking us to raise $30 million for the reconfiguration or reform of the local hospitals that's part of that whole process, $2 million for a new MRI and now $6 million for the cancer centre. We're close to $40 million we're going to have to raise among 350,000 people. That works out to $566 per family to be raised for health care reform in Windsor-Essex. But of course you've been good enough -- your government has been -- to give us a $172 tax break. How can you be serious about health care reform and reconfiguring the hospitals in Windsor-Essex and expect that a community of our size can raise that kind of capital money? Something's got to go.

Hon Mr Wilson: I take the concerns expressed by the honourable member quite seriously and I'd be happy to sit down with him and representatives of his community, the district health council and that, to see how we can work through this. You've done a great job. You're the first area of the province to undergo significant restructuring. You've received a 106% increase in your home care budget. We're waiting for customers in your riding right now. We have more dollars available for that side of the ledger. We've taken that money out of the new dollars in health care. You're in pretty good shape, but you make a good point on the capital side and I'll see what we can do. I'll be happy to have those discussions with you on behalf of your community.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): My question today is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for privatization. First, I'd like to congratulate the minister on his new appointment, which I think is in recognition of his excellent work so far on automobile insurance reforms. So my congratulations to the minister.

Some consumers in Niagara South have been receiving details on changes to their automobile insurance due to the implementation of Bill 59, the Automobile Insurance Rate Stability Act. My understanding was that Bill 59 maximizes choice for consumers and for drivers.

My question to the minister is, how will consumers in Port Colborne and Fort Erie benefit from this?

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): I thank my colleague the member for Niagara South for the kind introduction and the welcome to this portfolio.


Hon Mr Sampson: I also thank the honourable members opposite for that round of applause. I suspect that might be the last time they do that.

My colleague the member for Niagara South is correct: We decided to reform auto insurance because we felt it was important for consumers to finally have some choice in automobile insurance purchasing in this province. That's something they haven't had for years and years. The last two reforms withdrew choice from consumers in auto insurance. So we were happy to deliver a plan that allowed consumers to choose between income protection levels, to choose between disability protection levels, to choose various levels of death benefits etc. We think it's important.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It's my understanding that the Minister of Finance is the minister responsible for financial institutions. It's also my information that an order in council hasn't been signed that would give the authority to answer with regard to financial institutions to the minister for privatization. I wonder if you might take that point of order into consideration.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): I'll take that under advisement for just a few seconds.

To the member, I wonder if, sir, you are in charge of auto insurance under your portfolio?

Hon Mr Sampson: Yes, I am taking responsibility for auto insurance.

The Speaker: The question, in that case, would be in order, and the answer would be in order.

Mr Crozier: Can the minister clarify, then, whether that responsibility has been given by order in council.

The Speaker: Minister, if you could clarify that.

Hon Mr Sampson: I was carrying the auto insurance legislation. It's a matter of record in Hansard. At this point in time I'm not aware of the fact that an order in council is required, sir.

The Speaker: I believe that is not a point of order.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, I recognize this is your first day, and we are not attempting to be difficult, and I realize this is the first question for the minister. But the minister is responding that he has responsibility for something that he had responsibility for when he was a parliamentary assistant, not as minister for privatization. How can he carry on the responsibilities of parliamentary assistant when someone else has the role now?

The Speaker: I'll check to see if I can get a response from the House leader to that question.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Stop the clock.

The Speaker: It is not the procedure, I don't believe, to stop the clock at these moments.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I can only advise that Mr Sampson has had carriage of this issue in the past. My understanding is that Mr Sampson is still involved at this point.



The Speaker: I believe the member for Niagara South was next on the point of order.

Mr Hudak: I have a very simple question on behalf of my constituents from Port Colborne, Fort Erie, Wainfleet and Niagara Falls, a lot of questions in my office on this topic, and I'd like to address the question and continue with my supplemental if I could.

The Speaker: After having heard all that, I rule that the point of order is not a point of order and we will continue with the response.

Hon Mr Sampson: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I guess if you'd ruled in their favour, they would have had to applaud again the next time I answered a question.

Clearly, as I was saying, we delivered on our promise to the electorate to provide the consumers of this province with some choice in their automobile insurance. That's what the Automobile Insurance Rate Stability Act did do, and I'm proud of it.

Mr Hudak: I'm relaying this question on behalf of my constituents. It's a very important issue in my riding and I appreciate the opportunity to ask and get an answer on these issues.

Again to the minister without portfolio responsible for privatization, there are a number of detailed questions I received at the Wainfleet Fair, and also to my office in Stevensville, Ontario. How can we ensure that consumers receive clear answers and understand the benefits they are going to receive from Bill 59?

Hon Mr Sampson: I want to inform my colleague from Niagara South that consumer choice in the delivery of that information has been very important to us. Auto insurance has been a complex subject for consumers to understand and we have tried to simplify that process. The industry has provided a brochure and has sent that to their various insureds. There will be an extensive advertising program to help consumers finally understand what options they have under this plan. I will be today writing the industry, instructing them to ensure they provide maximum consumer choice to consumers in the delivery of this new plan when it becomes effective on November 1, because our plan was about more choice for auto insurance, a much better product at today's price.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Speaker, welcome to the chair.

My question is for the minister responsible for consumer protection. Yesterday when I asked you, as the consumer minister, if you were going to end the practice of negative option billing in Ontario, you said, "Clearly the matter of negative billing is something we should be looking at in terms of consumer protection." Minister, you've had a day to think about it. Can you tell this House today what exactly you're going to do to protect consumers from negative option billing?

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): Minister of consumer and corporate affairs.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Mr Speaker, as I understand it, that was not the way I was addressed by the honourable member across the way.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Quit being so stupid over there. Answer the question.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: There is no desire to waste time. I believe that the people of Ontario expect decorum in the House. A part of that decorum which you have explained today involves addressing the ministers by their proper title. It's a simple issue. He was not addressed by his proper title. The members opposite surely know the proper title.

The Speaker: I believe he called him the minister of consumer protection. I think his intent was correct, so we won't allow a point of order on that. If the minister would continue with his response, please.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It's just that I was taking things in the context of the rest of the titles that were being thrown over from across the floor today.

It was my understanding yesterday that the question asked by the member for Essex South was an isolated instance. I have investigated the matter further and consulted with the Minister of Finance and found that perhaps this issue is a little wider spread than originally thought. The intent, of course, of Bill 59 was to ensure consumer options. Certainly that's something that this government wants to ensure, consumer options.

I want this House to know that this government will not tolerate these types of practices, and I wish to thank the honourable member for drawing this to our attention. I think it's important, and I want to assure the House that this government will rectify this situation whether it's by regulation, by legislation or by other measures. I would also like to advise that my colleague the Minister of Finance, who is not here right now, will be sending a letter today to the insurance industry indicating to them that this practice will not be tolerated.

Mr Crozier: I appreciate the fact, having raised the question in the Legislature yesterday, that it has apparently moved the government to take some action, because if anything came out of yesterday's discussion, and I'm sure there has been some clarification since that time, it's that any time any service -- and the insurance industry was an example -- any time that doing nothing is given as an option, in any reasonable thinking person's mind would be negative option. I'm pleased to hear that the minister today has advised us that he will in fact do that.

Might I suggest, Minister, that the Consumer Protection Act merely needs to be amended, and we would support an amendment to that effect.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services, and it's returning to the issue of young offenders and the treatment of young offenders under his care. Minister, you've assured the public time and time again that no youth would be put in adult settings and that no youth would be put in adult segregation. In fact when, after the tragic death of James Lonnee, this issue was addressed by you in a press scrum on September 11, a reporter said to you, following the riots and events at Elgin-Middlesex, "You assured the public that there would be no youth put in adult settings and no youth would be put in adult segregation," and you responded, "That's right."

On Tuesday you gave me reassurances again in response to the questions that I put to you about this. That very day a young offender, a 16-year-old, was being housed in adult segregation at Vanier, with adult offenders in cells on either side of her. I don't know what good your directives are if nobody is following them. I don't know when you're going to get control of your ministry, Minister, but were you aware of this particular youth at Vanier? Is this kind of contravention routine? Did you approve this? Did your deputy minister or your assistant deputy minister approve this? When are you going to put a stop to this practice, as you promised the people of Ontario?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): It's interesting that the member tries to take this tack time and time again, as do members of her party, with respect to challenges and problems within the corrections systems in Ontario, both the youth and adult sides.

I have indicated that we're making the most wide-ranging changes in the corrections system of any government in memory, and certainly problem after problem came before that government when they were in power. I have a list of incidents that could choke a cow, from 1987 till we took power in 1995, many of them on the young offenders side.

We're moving, as I said, on a wide range of fronts to deal with this issue in a substantive way, and I'm very confident that we're doing the appropriate things, the right things, to deal with young offenders.

I have no doubt when incidents like this arise, Mr Speaker --

Ms Lankin: Mr Speaker, he's just running the clock. Wind him down.

Hon Mr Runciman: This member, we know, has had experience in the corrections system. She certainly is very much aware of the challenges of the corrections culture, and no doubt we're going to have incidents of this nature, any kinds of problems or allegations, raised on a daily basis --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Come on, Mr Speaker. He's running the clock.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): If the minister will answer the question, please.

Hon Mr Runciman: -- in an effort to try and suggest that this is some new kind of challenge for the Ontario government and we aren't dealing with this in an effective way when in fact these problems have been around for years and years and years, and those governments, both of them, failed to deal with it in an effective way. We are going to deal with it in an effective way.

The Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.

Ms Lankin: You let it run out, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: I believe this has happened in the past.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, if I could, I wish to advise the House of the weekly business statement.

Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of September 30, 1996.

On Monday, September 30, we hope to complete second reading of Bill 57, an act to improve the environmental approvals process. On Tuesday, October 1, we will be in the opposition day, standing in the name of the leader of the official opposition. On Wednesday, October 2, we hope to complete third reading of Bill 70, the Tax Credits and Economic Stimulation Act. On Thursday, October 3, we will begin second reading of Bill 79, the Courts Improvement Act, although, as we all note, there could be other activities on Thursday that I'm sure every member of the House is aware of at this point.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I move that the following substitutions be made to the membership of the standing committees:

On the standing committee on administration of justice, Mr Wildman be substituted for Mr Hampton; on the standing committee on estimates, Mr Kormos be substituted for Mr Martin; on the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, Mr Pouliot be substituted for Ms Lankin and Mr Martin be substituted for Mr Silipo; on the standing committee on government agencies, Mr Silipo be substituted for Mr Martin; on the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, Mr Wildman be substituted for Mr Cooke; on the standing committee on regulations and private bills, Mr Martin be substituted for Mr Pouliot; and on the standing committee on social development, Mr Cooke be substituted for Mr Wildman and Ms Lankin be substituted for Mr Laughren.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I move that notwithstanding standing order 96(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot items 39, 40, 41 and 42 and that Mr Ouellette and Mrs Marland exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have this petition that is signed by hundreds of residents of Parkdale and beyond. It's addressed to the assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Tory government has decided to replace our current child care system with one that lacks compassion and common sense and is fraught with many dangerous consequences; and

"Whereas the concept of affordable, accessible and quality child care is a basic, important, fundamental right for many members of our community who are either unemployed and enrolled into a training program or are working single parents or where both parents are working; and

"Whereas if our present provincial government is sincere in getting people back to work, they should recognize the value of the child care component of the Jobs Ontario program and acknowledge the validity of the wage subsidy to the child care workers,

"We, therefore, the undersigned residents, business owners and child care workers of our Parkdale and High Park communities urge the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario to immediately suspend their plans to implement cuts to our present child care programs across our province, and restore funding to their previous levels."

I've affixed my signature to this document.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Mr Speaker, I must congratulate you on your position, which I'm sure you'll find interesting and hard at times in controlling the members of the House. You're doing very well.

I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which comes from a number of residents in my particular area and in which they show some concern with respect to the proposed legislation on rent control. I take the pleasure of reading it to the House.

"Whereas the government of Ontario has announced its intention to remove rent control from apartments that become vacant so that landlords can charge whatever rent they want; and

"Whereas the government's proposal will eliminate rent control on new buildings, and allow landlords to pass on repair bills and other costs to tenants; and

"Whereas the government's proposal will make it easier for landlords to demolish buildings and easier to convert apartments to condominiums; and

"Whereas due to the zero vacancy rate in Metro Toronto the removal of rent control will cause extreme hardship for seniors and tenants on fixed incomes and others who cannot afford homes;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to keep the existing rent control system."

I agree with the content of the petition and I will affix my signature to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I rise to present a petition on behalf of John Martin and John Balloch of Local 1005, United Steelworkers of America. The petition reads as follows:

"Whereas it is vital that occupational health and safety services provided to workers be conducted by organizations in which workers have faith; and

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers have provided such services on behalf of workers for many years; and

"Whereas the centre and clinics have made a significant contribution to improvements in workplace health and safety and the reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers.

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that the education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers."

I support this petition and show that support by signing my name along with theirs.


Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): Once again, I present to the Parliament of Ontario today my third petition on condominium overcrowding, containing several hundred names.

"Whereas the present Condominium Act of Ontario does not give the condominium corporations the legal right to limit the number of people who occupy each unit in the complex, thus causing overcrowding situations in many buildings; and

"Whereas this overcrowding creates excessive demand on services and facilities of the condominiums, leading to tensions, violence, fire and health problems, increased maintenance expenses, and depreciation of values;

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

"We strongly recommend that the Condominium Act of Ontario be amended to give the condominium corporations, through their own rules and regulations, the legal right to limit the number of persons per unit and a right of entry to ensure adherence to the rules. The rights of condominium owners and taxpayers must be considered and supported in order to alleviate the inequitable situation."

I have the petition here and there are several hundred names on it.



Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the final report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee has recommended that North York Branson Hospital merge with York-Finch hospital; and

"Whereas this recommendation will remove emergency and inpatient services currently provided by North York Branson Hospital, which will seriously jeopardize medical care and the quality of health for the growing population which the hospital serves, many being elderly people who in numerous cases require treatment for life-threatening medical conditions;

"We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the recommendation contained within the final report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee as it pertains to North York Branson Hospital, so that it retains, at minimum, emergency and inpatient services."

I have affixed my signature.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition signed by thousands of auto workers and forwarded to me by the health and safety department of the Canadian Auto Workers union and their national office. The petition reads as follows:

"To Premier Harris:

"We, the undersigned, oppose any attempts to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers.

"We demand that education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre, and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers."

I affix my name in support of this petition.


The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): The Chair recognizes the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay.

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think you're doing a fine job.

I have a petition here signed by many people from my riding regarding St Marys school in Victoria Harbour in my riding, and I'd like to file it today.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Mr Speaker, as you know, a week tomorrow, Friday, October 4, the final verdict of the Health Services Restructuring Commission will be coming down in Thunder Bay. Certainly, I want to give an enormous amount of credit to all the people who've responded to the initial report in June and have written thousands of letters and petitions and faxes. I would like to read at least one of the petitions today.

"To the Legislative Assembly:

"We do not believe you have made the best choice for the health care system in northwestern Ontario. We are deeply concerned with the speed and the 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, although seeming to be concentrated, are in fact providing essential 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, friends and ourselves at risk.

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

I sign my name to this petition.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a petition signed by several workers, members of labour councils throughout the province -- London and district, Durham Regional Labour Council, Guelph and district, and Brampton-Mississauga -- and it reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

"Whereas it is vital that occupational health and safety services provided to workers be conducted by organizations in which workers have faith,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers.

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre, and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers."

I've attached my signature to it as well.


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I have a petition from 54 people from the Niagara region. In the petition, they request that the Ontario government negotiate with the co-op housing sector to ensure the long-term financial viability of housing co-ops.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition that reads as follows:

"To the government of Ontario:

"Since video lottery terminals will contribute to gambling addiction in Ontario and the resulting breakup of families, spousal and child abuse and crimes such as embezzlement and robbery;

"Since the introduction of video lottery terminals across Ontario will provide those addicted to gambling with widespread temptation, will attract young people to a vice which will adversely affect their lives for many years to come;

"Since the introduction of these gambling machines across our province is designed to gain revenue for the government at the expense of the poor, the vulnerable and the desperate in order that the government can cut income taxes, to the greatest benefit of those with the highest income;

"Since the placement of VLTs in bars in Ontario and in permanent casinos in various locations across the province represents an escalation of gambling opportunities; and

"Since Premier Harris and Finance Minister Eves were so critical of the provincial government becoming involved in further gambling ventures and making the government more dependent on gambling revenues to maintain government operations;

"We, the undersigned, call upon Premier Harris and the government of Ontario to reconsider its announced decision to introduce the most insidious form of gambling, video lottery terminals, to restaurants and bars in the province."

I affix my signature to this petition, which has a number of signatures on it, because I'm in agreement with it.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): Mr Speaker, congratulations to you in your new position.

I'm presenting this petition on behalf of the member for Waterloo North, and it reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas induced abortion is the intentional medical killing of a pre-born human being before birth, and evidence that pre-born human beings of five to six weeks' gestation have the ability to experience pain has been reported as long ago as 1941 and corroborated as recently as 1994;

"Whereas a recent study reviewing all available research on the reasons for abortion in Canada concluded that, `As the procedure (abortion) is not therapeutic, and as there is mounting evidence that it is harmful to women's health, funding by the government under health care cannot be justified';

"Whereas US studies have shown that where public funding for abortion has been removed, both the pregnancy rate and the abortion rate have dropped significantly;

"Whereas the Canada Health Act does not require that `elective procedures' be funded, nor has any Canadian court ever found a constitutional right to publicly fund abortion;

"Whereas it is the responsibility and the authority of the province exclusively to determine what services will be insured;

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

"That the Ontario government remove induced abortion from its medically insured services;

"That the Ontario government, through the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services, endeavour to encourage an alliance between all groups offering crisis pregnancy support across the province."


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I have a petition here signed by a large number of Ontario residents, most of whom are young people who live in my community of East York and east Toronto. It is a petition to the end the spring bear hunt. It is addressed to the Parliament of Ontario and 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 female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas over 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 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 Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Ontario government has a duty and responsibility to provide driver examination centres across the province;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, demand that the MTO explore every option of retaining driver examinations in the Leamington area, and that the MTO postpone the closing of the present DEC site" in Leamington "until a new solution is formulated."

I affix my signature in support of these 520 petitioners.




Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of 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.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I will continue today where I left off in talking about this bill. I was giving a rundown of some of the gutting and deregulation that's been taken on to date, which fills pages and pages, unfortunately.

I'm going to talk now very specifically about some of the content of the bill. There are several aspects to this bill that are extremely problematic. However, the most catastrophic portion of this bill relates to something called "permit by rule." Here's how that essentially will work. I'll try to describe it in simple terms so everybody will understand the implications, because as I said yesterday, sometimes if you don't have a background in this area it can get highly technical and it can, on first blush, look like it isn't a problem. Why not cut red tape here? Why not make it easier in some cases? I agree; in some cases this could make sense.

What it means is that the government will give the public 30 days of notice of which class of businesses it wants to exempt from approvals. Essentially, what they want to do is allow permit by rule, and what it means in certain situations -- it's kind of like a cookbook; I think that's the best way to describe it. It's a cookbook for industry to follow. It says that if you follow those rules just like a recipe, you no longer need approval for your specific undertaking. The ministry, given that, won't be able to keep track of which companies and industries are setting themselves up in a specific area.

This plan limits public input and public consultation. I would say it flies in the face of the Environmental Bill of Rights, which has already been downgraded under Bill 26 and other moves. This actually flies in the face of more public consultation and involvement in the environmental protection process. It does not give our communities or the public the opportunity to have any say in whether a polluting company is given approval to proceed with an undertaking.

I see that the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment is here today and I hope he will listen carefully to my remarks. I don't know if he's listening to me, but I believe that there are environmentalists and some of the critics here in the House who actually have some good ideas as to the kinds of changes that need to be made. It needs to be pointed out that this is not innocuous and that this is yet again another example of this government hurting communities. To tell communities, "You're going to have even less say in environmental protection, that we're going to give you less say than you have now on what might be in your backyard," that is against communities, against families and against environmental protection.

I recall that when we were in government the bureaucrats did bring this forward, but we rejected it because we decided that the public should have a right to participate in discussions that affect their environment and their community. One of the major problems with this aspect of the bill is that the government hasn't even bothered to come clean with the public as to which industrial sectors will be exempt from approvals with this legislation. This is unbelievable. The government is saying to us, and saying to people who happen to have picked this up on the environmental registry and got the information, achieved it: "We want to do this, but don't worry. It'll be just little, insignificant things." But when we ask for a list, they don't have it.

When this bill was tabled we asked for a list of industrial sectors. We were told they couldn't provide such a list. We were told, however, that the first phase can be found in the responsive environmental deregulation package. But this is not good enough; there is not a complete list of sectors that will be affected. I find it interesting that the new minister and the previous minister, when asked, when pressed to give us a list, said, "We don't have it yet, but use things like restaurants," which in most people's minds -- well, they could agree that permit by rule might be okay for restaurants because they're generally in a business section anyway; you don't find a lot of restaurants plunked down in communities. However, in my riding there are a lot of restaurants abutting residential areas, so even restaurants in some cases can be a problem. However, when pressed, we were told that it could involve paint shops or dry-cleaners. These particular industries can cause severe problems in neighbourhoods, and those are to be considered as innocuous, as easy ones, ones that should be given permit by rule.

But we don't have a complete list, so we want the government to come forward today and I'm hoping the parliamentary assistant by now has been given a complete list so we at least know what we're talking about today. We don't want these kinds of environmental deregulation happening in secret and asking us to vote for it, asking the community to trust them, given the record to date. We don't even know what industries they're talking about here.

The former minister, as I said, told us that the bill could apply to dry-cleaners, who do use a variety of dangerous cancer-causing chemicals and other substances that create smog and polluted air, and I don't need again to go into detail about the problems we have in Metro Toronto with smog. I presume Hamilton has such problems, and all the other urban areas. It's a major problem and yet that's one of the ones that the government is saying easily can fit under this permit by rule.

She also said it could apply to autobody paint shops. These paint shops emit in some cases very dangerous chemicals.

I think the major concern for me is that permit by rule does not take into account the cumulative effect of a number of industries locating in a specific area. When you've got permit by rule, the cookbook, and you can show to the ministry that you've got the recipe all down, that's all you have to do. You can set up your paint shop or whatever it may be in a community without anybody knowing about it. I come back again to the point I made earlier about the fact that therefore the community won't know about it, will have no information, will have no opportunity to come forward and say: "Okay, maybe in a certain location this paint shop would not be a problem. However, we've got five others because we live close to an industrial area. The cumulative effect is too much." There will be no opportunity to do that.

Those are some examples, and just a very few examples, the ones that the previous minister said would be included under this permit by rule thing. We don't know about the others.

Let's face it: The ministry needs this legislation because the government is getting out of the business of environmental protection. Day after day after day we see yet again, and sometimes very quietly, regulations being changed and removed -- not part of these bills that we at least get some chance to participate in and speak to. Day after day there's something else being taken off the books, being deregulated.

The massive cuts brought on by this government to finance the tax cut, which I talked about yesterday, mean that there are fewer ministry employees in the field. There simply are not the numbers any more to monitor and give the approvals, and I don't care how many times the government says it, people will not be fooled by this.

In my neighbourhood of Riverdale alone, in the south Riverdale part, over the years, because it's in an industrial area, there have been numerous problems, noise and odour. Under another bill, this government has got out of that business altogether and has shifted over to municipalities. People in my neighbourhood have relied for years and years on the Ministry of Environment to deal with severe problems around noise and odour, particularly odour. There have been numerous other problems in the community as well, and over the years, working with the Ministry of Environment -- not always easy; sometimes it's taken years to get things closed down, if necessary, or relocated -- we have had people there to come out and measure the odour and help us out.

The problem with downloading that on to municipalities, especially with the transfer cuts this government has also inflicted, is that this is not going to be a priority for most municipalities given the fact that they gave to make some tough choices with their limited budget.

What this is about -- let's be honest about it, as I said yesterday -- is simply about doing less. The government often repeated the mantra, "Doing better with less," but let's be clear, let's be really clear: It simply is about doing less. That means that children will feel the effects for generations to come, and that's what we have to bear in mind here.


I see the Minister of Health is with us today, which makes me very happy, because the Minister of Health should pay attention to what is happening. I know he's busy now fighting with the doctors and posturing with the doctors, but he should be aware that these environmental decisions that are being made by one other arm of his government are actually doing things that are going to affect the health of the people of Ontario, which just in pure economic terms means that the cost of health care is going to go up.

We already know there's more asthma and lung-related, respiratory-related illnesses as a result of smog. Has this government done anything? No. But the Minister of Health should listen carefully and be a champion. If nobody else in that government, including the Minister of Environment, will be a champion and speak up for environmental protection at the cabinet table, the Minister of Health has a vested interest in doing that.

I will say that this legislation is good news to the polluters of the province. I guess that's one of the reasons they've contributed to the Tory election campaign, in great numbers I may add. The only way polluters can get into trouble is if they're caught breaking the rules. But how is it going to happen when the government doesn't even know that the activity is taking place? More important, how will the ministry have the staff to police everything that's going on? They won't. With the 35% cuts that are already in place, and we suspect more to come, I can guarantee you that the polluters have figured that out.

The government continues to protest and say, "Oh, we just need to cut red tape and make it more efficient," but many of the permits that were issued before weren't needed. That's what they say, that they weren't needed. The problems were covered by municipal property standards or health regulations or whatever. In some cases they're right, there's no doubt about that. It's no problem trying to find those, consulting with the community, all who have concerns about this and really carefully weeding out the ones that did need to be taken off the books or changed.

But why, then, is the government exempting itself from any liability that may arise from this deregulation? If they're so confident that these measures will not be harmful, will not hurt the environment, will not hurt our communities, why are they doing that? That is a very good question, which has not been answered. Why are they saying, "We won't be responsible for the consequences of our actions"? If the government is so sure that the regulations that it's gutting aren't needed, why won't it prove that and put its money where its mouth is? Why won't it at least let the poor citizen who may suffer because of its negligence get some justice through the courts? They have said no.

If some catastrophe or even small event takes place because of this deregulation, this permit by rule, the poor citizen who is affected by this has no recourse. I find this passing strange for a government that says it cares about individual property rights to say to people: "If our actions hurt you in any way, too bad, go away. We're not going to let you take us to court. We're not going to compensate you in any way."

I've talked a bit about the fact that the government has failed to tell us which categories of businesses will get the exemptions. It assures us that the exemptions will be minor and won't involve any serious polluting activity. But they've left the exemption so wide open that, according to Rick Lindgren of the Canadian Environmental Law Association -- and get this, Mr Speaker, because it is very important -- as the bill is now written, the bill will let the government exempt virtually anyone or anything from any legislative or regulatory requirements under the Environmental Protection Act or the Ontario Water Resources Act. This is indeed very scary and, I would say, arrogant.

We obviously need public hearings on this bill. If the government did not mean in its legislation to allow itself to let anyone or anything be exempted, then surely the public needs to have a say about what they think should be on that list, if anything, and make sure that the legislation is amended to make sure that this indeed cannot happen, that a garbage incinerator, or a dump -- and some of you here in this room today may live in an area which could be affected. I would like to think that's not the government's intention, but the way the bill is written now, that is indeed the situation.

We need public hearings and we need the government to come clean and tell the people of this province which businesses they're going to exempt and which activities they're going to exempt. Will it be incinerators? I hope the answer is no. Will it be chemical plants? I hope the answer is no. But we don't know. They haven't said. They won't give us a list. So you've got wide-open legislation and we haven't been provided with a list.

This government cannot be trusted when it comes to environmental protection, and that's part of the problem with the bill as it's now worded. We have to make sure, if the government does not intend the way this bill is worded, we need to know that this government does not have the legislative authority under certain circumstances to exempt some major environmental undertaking which could have a huge impact on the community.

I am going to talk a minute about the aspect that the government can't be trusted when it comes to environmental protection. I talked yesterday about much of the anti-environment deregulation cutting that's already happened within the Ministry of the Environment but also in the Ministry of Natural Resources. When you put the two together, it truly is catastrophic in the long run.

I have some documents here. Some environmental groups and lawyers and policy analysts have responded to this bill and the other deregulation bill -- and let me add again, they are part and parcel of the same package, so you have to deal with them at the same time. In fact this bill we're discussing today refers -- we were told to refer to the other bill about deregulation to see the list of some of the things which might come under permit by rule.

I have a document here that was written in response by a group called Stop Environmental Deregulation in Canada. This is a group mainly of students who have become extremely alarmed about this government's anti-environment agenda. They head their submission -- I believe they did a press conference on this -- the heading of their document is, and I'm reading this: "Gutting Environmental Protection: The Harris Government is Lying about its Deregulatory Agenda."

Their table of contents is: "(1) Harris government lies; (2) A missed opportunity; (3) What industry wants...industry gets; (4) Proposed deregulation in Responsive Environmental Protection; (5) SEDIC Recommendations; (6) About Stop Environmental Deregulation in Canada."

In their summary they make "the following comments on the regulatory `reform' consultation paper":

"(1) The Harris government says it wants to protect the environment but has taken a large number of fiscal and legislative actions which weaken environmental protection.

"(2) As a result, Ontario citizens must be suspicious when the consultation paper says the proposed regulatory changes will only improve efficiency and not lower standards. It is impossible for them to participate in good faith in a genuine regulatory reform exercise.

"(3) In fact, the objective of the consultation process is not genuine regulatory reform. Instead, the proposals add up to three forms of deregulation: defunding environmental protection (on which the paper is silent); replacing law with volunteerism; lower standards."


A little later on this group talks about, and again I am reading this from their paper under the heading, "(1) Harris Government Lies":

"Premier Harris, as noted in the letter to the editor reproduced above" -- which I'm going to read in a minute because I think it's of great interest to the members in this House today -- "has been quoted as saying, `Protecting the environment for the future generations ranks equally with us as the fiscal situation for future generations.'"

It was Mike Harris who said that. Similarly the consultation paper states, "The fundamental objective of MOEE's regulatory reform is to ensure continued human health and safety and environmental protection while eliminating red tape, obsolete regulations and simplifying the system in order to promote economic growth and jobs.

"Unfortunately neither statement is true."

Another very important aspect of the document by this group deals with what they call "A missed opportunity," and I think this is very important because this group is saying that they have no objections to true regulatory reform. I quote again briefly:

"Because the Harris government will not admit to what it is doing, Ontario citizens cannot work with it in good faith to improve regulatory efficiency. The 1996 consultation paper, Responsive Environmental Protection, therefore represents a missed opportunity. All stakeholders -- industry, environmentalists, government officials and members of the interested public -- agree that environmental regulation should be as efficient as possible. We should protect the environment at the lowest possible cost to industry, government and the taxpayer. Updating and amending environmental regulations to improve efficiency without lowering the standards they set is a worthwhile exercise.... Because of the record of the Harris government, they must be suspicious that what is presented as regulatory reform is in fact environmental deregulation."

The point they're trying to make is that there is goodwill out there with the so-called special-interest groups, the environmentalists. To me it's very weird to refer to environmental groups as special-interest. Their special interest is protecting our health in the community, the population at large, yet somehow the bankers and big businesses that want to make more and more money are not referred to as special-interest by this government.

I'm just going to read one more portion of this document because I think it's a very important element of what is in this government document that we're debating today, which is truly work going in the wrong direction. This is moving from law to self-regulation. I'll read again from the document:

"Many of the industry submissions called for the move from command and control regulation to voluntary and self-regulation, as advocated by the consultation paper. To do so is to put the fox to guard the chicken coop. To achieve its goal of competitiveness and profit maximization, any given business firm must operate at the lowest possible cost. One way it does that is to `externalize' costs of waste and pollution so they are paid by the larger society and not the firm. Prior to the establishment of the modern regulatory system, firms in Ontario spent almost nothing on pollution prevention or proper waste disposal. Because we now have laws which are enforced, that is no longer the case."

What is being said here is that going in this direction to volunteerism means we're going back to the bad old days when polluters, big businesses that polluted, could externalize the cost so the taxpayers ended up paying for it. It's a very dangerous direction to be going in. I regret that there's talk also of the federal Liberal government going in the same direction.

To carry on with my concerns and reasons -- and this government has given us so many ample reasons to know it can't be trusted with the environment -- I'm going to give you some more examples of situations that have happened recently which I think all members of this House should be concerned about, because it could happen to them in their communities.

The government has allowed Philip Environmental to go ahead with its Taro landfill without an environmental assessment hearing. Despite major community concern, they have funded the Red Hill Creek Expressway, plowing through vital green space in east Hamilton. They have fired progressive appointees. They have cut the budget of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. They have put forward new proposals to eliminate packaging reduction requirements for businesses. They've watered down sulphur content rules and allowed pulp and paper companies to keep pouring chlorine into our water. The list goes on and on.

I spoke about some of them yesterday. They removed the ban on new municipal garbage incinerators. They've stopped funding the blue box. Of course, they've ended the Intervenor Funding Project Act, which means that the public will not have the same kind of consultation and ability to participate in a meaningful way in hearings. It's always nice to muzzle your opponents by taking away their funding, and this government is very good at that. The major thrust throughout all of this deregulation is to let the polluters run the show.

I'm going to talk about a few other aspects of the bill that I find problematic. Another thing the bill does is to get rid of the Environmental Compensation Corp. The ECC is a payor of last resort when spills happen and the culprit can't be found. It's true that the ECC has paid out very little money in recent years. I find it a little strange in a way for that to be a reason to get rid of a corporation that's actually not having to pay out that much money. It's true, therefore, that maybe some restructuring would be important to do, but to get rid of it means that some people will be left holding the bag. They will have damage happen to them or their property and nobody will compensate them. Given the other changes the government has made, given its gutting of the rules and the ability of the ministry to enforce them, it is likely that more and more people will be found in the lurch.

I have to wonder if that is the real reason why they have abandoned this program, because right now it has been putting out so very little money, but for the same reason within this bill they're taking away the ability for people to sue as a result of other deregulation, the permit by rule. This is the same thing. They expect that there will be more claims for compensation, because when you look at that in the context of the limited staff and the permit by rule, the government will have far less ability to keep track of who's where in what community. If something does happen, if a spill does happen, I expect it will be harder to find the culprits to pay, and therefore the cost to government could go way up. I think that's the real reason this has been taken away.

The ECC, though, also played an important role in advising the public about spills and about their rights. Many of the people they've helped are people who've tried to clean up or contain spills and been left with liability. The corporation acted in other ways, not just to compensate, but to help track down the culprits and to help people, to steer them in the right direction.


On the repeal of the Ontario Waste Management Corp, that's an interesting one because we support the repeal, obviously, in view of the fact that the corporation no longer exists anyway. It's gone. The government cancelled it a while ago. There was a hearing for many years which we all know about under the OWMC; that's why it was created, to determine how to deal with hazardous waste. At the end of the day -- the proposal before them was a very complex one that took years -- it was determined that this was not the right direction to go. So it makes sense to repeal this corporation. However, after our government decided not to proceed with the OWMC, which was rejected by the joint board, we made a decision to maintain the OWMC as a vehicle to promote our hazardous waste reduction strategy. OWMC was used to research and promote hazardous waste 3Rs and research into new technologies.

One of the first things this government did was to axe the OWMC and the hazardous waste reduction strategy. Now the government has no plans whatsoever to deal with hazardous waste. All the funding has been pulled out for hazardous waste reduction and disposal. But we should be very clear about this, and the government should be aware if it isn't: We own, the Ontario government owns, part of the problem on the issue.

Take the issue of PCBs. There are approximately 100,000 tonnes of PCBs in storage around the province. Two thirds of this total are owned by the Ontario government. There are PCBs across the street in the Whitney Block, by the way. I don't know if the parliamentary assistant was aware of that.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I know all about it.

Ms Churley: He knows all about it, he says. There may even be PCBs stored here in this building. I don't know. But we know there are across the street.

Our government had committed several million dollars to begin to take care of this problem. We were going to commercially demonstrate non-incineration technologies to dispose of provincially owned PCB waste. In fact, members here might not be aware -- I'm sure the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment would know this, but maybe others don't -- that the province is a signatory to the Canada-Ontario agreement. You know about that? Under this agreement, the province has a responsibility to decommission 90% of the high-level PCBs, destroy 50% of the high-level PCB waste now in storage and accelerate the destruction of low-level PCB waste by the year 2000. That's a pretty tall order.

All the programs that were in place -- I think he's saying, "No problem" -- are gone. All the funding which was in place is gone. I don't see how the government can keep its commitment under this Canada-Ontario agreement. You don't have a plan. They don't have a plan on how to meet their international commitment and they don't have the money set aside to meet their international commitment.

Members might know that there is an Ontario company in Rockwood, Ontario, near the former minister's riding that has produced a non-incineration technology to destroy PCBs and other hazardous waste. The company, which you may have heard of, Eco Logic, has contacts in several countries around the world. I believe it was just yesterday -- at least it was in the last couple of days -- the federal cabinet approved a plan to open the border to PCB export. This is very bad news. This is the federal Liberals. I must say that I'm not right now talking about the Tory government here. The federal Liberals have agreed to allow PCBs to go across the border. But this is very bad news for companies like Eco Logic. It's very bad news for jobs in the environmental protection sector.

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): Did you mention they're from Wellington?

Ms Churley: They're from Wellington. The member for Wellington is here and he says they're from Wellington, so you should start lobbying your federal member, who I presume is a Liberal.

Mr Arnott: She is.

Ms Churley: She is a Liberal. We should all lobby, but particularly the member for Wellington. This is extremely innovative technology which we need to be promoting in Ontario and indeed in Canada. But what this means is that there will be no incentive, if you're just going to ship the stuff across the border, for companies like Eco Logic to work in this country and I think it's a shame. I'm not sure why the decision was made, but it's a bad decision.

I come back to the government here because we're talking about your bill today and a very serious problem. You do not have plans to deal with hazardous waste. You've cancelled all of the funding, the 3Rs program through the OWMC household hazardous waste programs and product stewardship agreement. All of that is gone. This government has also cancelled funding to the Ontario Waste Exchange, a program where companies could at least exchange their waste; the waste of one company, as it turned out, may in fact be the feedstock for another company. That program is gone.

In fact, when the government took office, the OWMC was working on a consultation to bring all stakeholders together to find a way to meet nationally accepted reduction targets of 50% by the year 2000. Yet when the OWMC was cancelled, they failed to bring in a mechanism to fully implement a hazardous waste strategy.

The government also has cut off grants to businesses in the green industry sector, which were part of the solution. Over a five-year period our government provided $5 million in support of new hazardous waste treatment technologies. In 1995-96 and 1996-97, we had committed $5 million per year in loans and, in some cases, grants which were directed to hazardous waste treatment.

But again this is gone. It's not a priority to this government. What is going to happen to all this hazardous waste being produced in our environment? The bottom line is you've dismantled the province's waste reduction strategy. You have nothing in place, you've cancelled the OWMC and all the work they were doing on calling on an amendment to be made in this bill that if not reinstating the OWMC, to build some kind of program that helps with the reduction of hazardous waste in Ontario -- very important.

In the long run if the government doesn't invest some money into finding ways to deal with hazardous waste in our communities, again this comes back to the fact that our children, your children and grandkids will be paying a lot more than we'd pay for it today as we try to develop new technologies and try to find ways to deal with the existing hazardous waste.

Bill 57 also expands the ministry's authority to require fees for permit approvals applications, record registration information requests and other matters. Making the polluter pay is a good idea, although I just had a very interesting experience in my community in south Riverdale. You may have read about it. I sent a letter to the Minister of Environment inviting him to come to a meeting in our community about the Canada Metal plant which had been sued by the government for, I think, the $8 million clean-up cost in south Riverdale because the Canada Metal plant had contributed in a large part to serious high levels of lead in the soil which actually affected the health of the kids who lived in that area.

An interesting development lately: The new government just very recently decided that they were going to let the company off the hook for $8 million, which means the taxpayers who've already paid for the cleanup because it had to be done -- but now they've been let off the hook, the polluter in that case is not paying for that cleanup. That's setting a very bad precedent and seems to go against the grain of what this government has said, that the taxpayer should not pick up the tab.

Making the polluter pay is good, but what is more worrisome is that fees may become a barrier to those legitimately seeking information from the government. The government has already drawn the criticism of the information commissioner for the imposition of often hefty fees for requests under the freedom of information and privacy act.


The whole idea of making the polluter pay, and the government having the ability to require fees for these permits and approval applications and all those things related to information requests and other matters, in some areas is a very good idea, but there are some problems with it. I think it would be a good idea here for me to refer to an extremely well-written analysis of this bill, Bill 57, by Rick Lindgren from the Canadian Environmental Law Association. He goes through the bill and analyses each section, and he has something to say about the fees and permits. What he would like to see is that these funds should be designated to an environmental fund. In other words, "Revenue generated under the new fee regime may help reduce the provincial deficit, but there is no guarantee that any of the revenue will be used to maintain the MOEE's environmental protection program."

I know, from having been in government and hearing many people say so over time, that there can be a real problem in designating funds to a specific area. I think finance ministers from all governments, from all parties, generally don't like to see that happen for a variety of reasons, and I'm sure it's the case with Mr Eves, the Tory finance minister. But this would not be precedent-setting in terms of a designated environmental fee. As Rick Lindgren says in his document, "On this point, it is noteworthy that other jurisdictions have passed or proposed reforms that establish special environmental funds from revenue received under environmental laws."

This gets very interesting, because there's an Alberta model -- in Ralph Klein's Alberta. Based on the Alberta model, the federal standing committee on environment and sustainable development recommended that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act be amended to establish a fund to be administered by Environment Canada and financed through penalties, fines, fees and levies imposed under the act. It's already in Alberta, under their Environmental Protection and Enforcement Act. It's established in Alberta -- a special fund -- and now the Canadian government is looking at doing the same.

What is even more interesting is that the Ontario government actually did recently introduce reforms that establish special funds, so it wouldn't even be setting a precedent for this government. You may not be aware of it, but the current Minister of Natural Resources recently tabled reforms that will permit provincial parks to retain and use revenue generated through park fees. Similarly, under Bill 26, the Ontario government recently changed the Game and Fish Act to expressly earmark fines, fees and royalties received under the act for fish and wildlife management purposes.

The recommendation from CELA is: "Bill 57 should be amended to expressly require that any fees paid under the EPA or OWRA shall go into a specific fund or account administered solely by the MOEE and used exclusively for environmental protection purposes. In particular, Bill 57 should include the following provisions," and he provides that information.

I think it's useful to refer to this document in a bit more detail, because the analysis, as I said, is quite good. At the end of the day, after all of the recommendations from CELA, it recommends that there be public hearings on this bill. They are very alarmed by the fact that there are 30 days for public comment. Indeed, many environmentalists and other interested groups, including respected organizations like CELA, had a lot of trouble getting the document in the early days. But because of some of the vital and important changes that are being made here that could add to serious environmental problems, they are requesting that the government require, will agree to, public hearings on this bill.

Another area of concern that this organization expresses quite strongly is the power of the government to charge fees to the public for all kinds of information, including maps, diagrams, studies and reports. The concern is that it yet again shuts out public participation which, as I outlined earlier, has already become a major problem through deregulation under Bill 26 and all kinds of other bills. In fact, it's interesting because it's pointed out in this document by Rick Lindgren that it may not be necessary to do some of this, it may be redundant, because the freedom of information act already applies to many documents that this bill seems to be talking about.

They say: "Similarly, CELA submits that it would be inappropriate to charge fees for public requests for information that the MOEE is obliged to keep or maintain in any event under the EPA or OWRA. Ontario residents have a fundamental right to know particulars about the contaminant sources that the ministry has licensed or has proposed to license within their communities, and this community right to know should not be rendered meaningless through excessive or unreasonable fee requirements. Moreover, financial constraints under Bill 57 could significantly diminish the ability of the public to participate in the environmental decision-making process by impeding full and timely access to all relevant documents."

The government got a lot of money from garbage companies and other polluters during the election campaign. We all know what's happening now: It's payback time. We know about the letter the ministry put out asking the question, "If you could wave a magic wand and get rid of regulations, what would they be?" We also know, from analysing the documents, the bills that have come forward, it's very clear that the environmental groups, environmental lawyers and people engaged in environmental protection in the communities have not been listened to on the whole. What this means in the long run is that people are going to be less involved in the process and they're going to know less about their local environment and how it's going to affect their health or the health of those around them.

It would be very shameful indeed if this government's zeal to pass on costs to those who can least afford them led to health problems because high fees deterred people from finding out basic information about local activities.


I see the parliamentary assistant is listening attentively to that. In all seriousness I hope that he will take a look, because I believe, at least the way it's worded now -- and perhaps this is not the government's intent -- the costs could be so high that ordinary citizens and environmental groups trying to protect something in their community may not be able to afford access to important documents to find out what's going on. I hope you will commit to take a look at that. I should say here too to the parliamentary assistant that I hope he will use his influence with the minister to make sure that we have public hearings on this bill.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Doug Galt's running for Speaker, so for you, Dr Speaker.

Ms Churley: You're not running for Speaker, are you? I will say in all seriousness to the parliamentary assistant --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Please address the Chair.

Ms Churley: I will say, through you, Mr Speaker, to the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment and Energy that people will catch on. I talked about this yesterday. They will catch on. Protecting the environment is part of the culture of Ontario now. It may be easy to hit welfare recipients because there's unfortunately perhaps not the same level of concern throughout all aspects of society. But, Mr Speaker, through you, I do want to warn the government that even Tories in their ridings care about the environment and environmental protection.

It may not be showing up on the top of the list of people's concerns right now for a variety of reasons. I think, number one, people are so bombarded with so many changes and cuts and deregulation across the board that people aren't aware of what's going on. But I think another reason is that they aren't aware specifically because there's so much going on in the area of the environment. Fortunately, to date, partially because it's too soon, nothing really big has happened to point directly to how this deregulation and cuts affect them in their own neighbourhood. It will happen. Unfortunately, it will happen.

I suppose the closest we have at this point right now is what's happening in Temagami and the fact that the government is being taken to court right now. The government is allowing the loggers to go in and cut trees without adhering, which, under the law, through the long class action hearing on that particular subject, timber management -- very long hearing, took a long, long time. It brought everybody together and they sat down and worked very hard to reach a compromise. Believe me, it was very difficult.

Out of those hearings came a direction. It was a compromise. People say, "Oh, these environmentalists, they don't care about jobs and the economy and all of that." But they're talking about the fact that there's only 2% of those old-growth forests left and there are rules laid down under the law under those hearings that this government is ignoring and telling loggers that they can go in and log. I think it's going to be very interesting to see what happens in the court case around that.

I am going to read you a letter in closing that I referred to earlier. It's taken from the Globe and Mail and it was dated August 27. The title of this letter is "The Harris Axe." It says:

"One can measure the degeneration of a civil society by the culture of lying its political office holders develop.

"In his latest public announcement on the direction of Ontario's government, Premier Mike Harris says that `We want to send an important message to Ontarians that protecting the environment for the future generations ranks equally with us as the fiscal situation for future generations.' (Cabinet Shuffle a Tune-Up, Harris Says -- Aug 17).

"Yet the Harris government has, in fact, already systematically stripped the province of half a century of environmental protections and programs. It has gutted the monitoring and scientific staffs of the province's developed forest management, and opened Ontario's last old-growth forests to industrial logging. It has abolished government inspections and procedures that ensured mine industry cleanups of their wastes and prevention of environmental hazards. It has axed funding to conservation authorities by 70% and lakes research and cleanup projects by a planned 50%. It has begun wholesale reduction of Ontario's 80 regulations on toxic pollution. It has clawed back $100 million from government financial support of municipal water and sewage projects and beach cleanups. It has instituted mechanisms for selloff of public conservation areas and natural habitats to replace the funding it cut off to municipalities and conservation authorities. It has slashed all budgets for enforcement of still existing environmental laws. It has abandoned funding for blue box and other recycling programs. It has repealed Planning Act regulations on commercial development of rural lands and proposes to deregulate commercial shoreline development. And it has, finally, announced in recent days this government's intention to, in the words of environmental experts, `gut Ontario's environmental review process' by changes to the Environmental Assessment Act (Ontario Pushing New Environmental Law -- August 8).

"In short, while promising to `protect the environment of Ontario for future generations,' the Harris regime is in fact taking a broad-axe to the entire system of environmental protection and preservation in the province with a blindness to consequences. This is a government driven by a lapsed ideological program to which environmental responsibility is alien. While its leader seems perfectly willing to lie to the public to conceal this life-destructive agenda, neither he nor most Ontarians appear to have wakened up to what the track record already clearly tells us."

That letter is by John McMurtry, Guelph, Ontario. That letter sums up, I think, a great deal, very succinctly, what I think more and more people in the province of Ontario are seeing from this government.

I will end by saying once again, and I believe I began with this yesterday, that the government is starting to look very foolish indeed telling people over and over again what the spin doctors write for them, that, "Oh, no, We are actually furthering, enhancing environmental protection while we cut this here and deregulate that there, while we take all the major environmental protection bills," like the Environmental Assessment Act, the new regulatory changes, the land planning act -- and those are just a few. You add them all up and people -- that's just a partial list that I read out here. People are going to get wise, and I believe they are getting wise now, to what is really going on.

I would say to the new minister, who was here yesterday to hear some of my speech, and we will be talking later, we need hearings on this Bill 57, we demand hearings on this Bill 57, and if there aren't hearings on this Bill 57, there are going to be a lot of difficulties created for the minister and this government.

They like to say to people that this is just about cutting red tape and being more efficient. It is far more than that, as I outlined in my speech today. I spent more time yesterday talking about the overall agenda. Today I got into more detail. It might have sounded boring at times, but I think it's important to put on the record what is really happening in this bill.

I will say to the minister again what I said yesterday. When he stood up and introduced this bill for second reading yesterday, he made a point of saying that he was following in the same direction as the previous minister. That bodes badly for the new minister. He had an opportunity to say yesterday: "I see that this is a chance to set some new directions, that we're very serious about protecting the environment. I'm going to let this bill go out for public hearings, or I will even withdraw it so I will have more time to review it."

We're going into clause-by-clause I believe starting next week on the EA bill, and it is my understanding, even though the minister asked for more time to review it, that there are no substantive changes in that bill. I'm very disappointed to see that and I say to the minister today that the people of Ontario are going to catch on and the time has come now to tell the people of Ontario that there's going to be a new direction from this government.

The Acting Speaker: Time has expired. Questions or comments?

Mr Galt: My compliments to the NDP critic for her 90-minute-plus speech, which really didn't contain too much. But I was disappointed that she would make reference to the Premier in the way that she did. I think she could have had more respect for the office and for the House in making reference in that way.


I was particularly pleased that she made reference to the PCB issue. That particular one she mentioned being in Whitney Block -- she might be interested to know it's in some 1,500 more locations around Ontario, thousands of tonnes of PCBs that we'd like to have destroyed. There is an excellent new system, process, going on -- it's in St Catharines -- Eco Logic is carrying it out, but it's because of the complicated hearings and process that are in place from previous governments that are impeding organizations like this from doing good research and from getting it out and using it.

It's a simple reduction process that's all enclosed. You add a little bit of heat. Things like methane come off that can be burned to add more heat, hydrochloric acid that can be sold, along with water. There is no smokestack. You should be very happy about it, and I would have thought your government, concerned about PCBs, would have gotten on changing all these regulations so it could have done something about an issue that you were very, very concerned about. Just there in PCBs alone -- and there are so many other points in your speech that I could respond to, but I think that one really sums up the whole thing.

It's got so complicated from your government that to come in with certificates of approval and to apply for them, you had to develop guidance manuals, first on how to apply and how to review. That's how absurd the certificate of approval circumstance became with your government.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I would like to commend the member for Riverdale for her essential defence of environmental issues that really are threatened by this government, and it's basically being threatened in part by this bill. I know the member for Riverdale has been in the front lines in her own community of Riverdale about face-to-face environmental issues in downtown Toronto, and I know as a member of city of Toronto council she was involved very much. So it's not an issue she's come to by accident. She's been, as I say, there right from day one. I think a lot of her comments certainly deserve some attention.

A lot of you have never had to face serious environmental impacts in your own neighbourhoods; you've had that luxury. But if you do have a serious environmental problem in your neighbourhood like they've had in Riverdale, because of the mistakes of the past, because governments didn't take a role in the government in the 1940s and 1950s, then it becomes a very serious issue.

That's why I think the member is right on when she says this government is going in the wrong direction. It's trying to bring back the attitudes of the 1940s and 1950s and that is not going to help the economy, it's not going to help the environment and it's not going to make this province one of the leading provinces in terms of environmental protection, in terms of economic prosperity, in terms of a good place to live. I certainly support many of her comments and I hope she continues to vigorously support environmental initiatives, environmental protection, no matter what this government tries to do in terms of dismantling these protections.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I also want to rise and compliment my colleague the member for Riverdale for her detailed understanding of the damage that this bill will do. I can recall when we were first elected government in 1990, the member for Riverdale was appointed the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour --

Ms Churley: I wanted to be the minister, but --

Mr Christopherson: She says she wants to be the Minister of Environment. That's the next time around. I'm sure that will yet happen.

The member for Riverdale could never, ever live in the cabinet of Mike Harris as they attack and dismantle communities through the kinds of legislation you have here. I assure you of that. You don't have enough to entice her over there. The fact of the matter is that you ought to be paying a lot more attention, rather than just heckling and rolling your eyes and being stuck over on your hard-line ideology. The fact of the matter is, this is a member who has great experience in this area, not only as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment but also as a cabinet minister after that, in the other part of our term in office. I can recall her debate and involvement and engagement at the cabinet table, fighting for the right of our environment to be protected.

You want to talk about communities? Again, opposition members roll their eyes and talk about 10-speed tree huggers and all kinds of phrases. The fact of the matter is --


Mr Christopherson: Well, that's the kind of phrases some of you like to use. The fact of the matter is that the member was also a former member of Toronto council who understands very clearly the planning process and the impact of not protecting the environment and the impact on the lives and quality of families. She called on the Minister of Health to pay attention, that this is a public health issue. All those things are reasons why government members ought to listen to the member for Riverdale. She knows a heck of a lot more about this stuff than you ever will.

Mr John L. Parker (York East): What we have listened to for the last several minutes today, and what we finished the day with yesterday, has been the usual litany of accusations and posturing in this case on the part of my friend the member for Riverdale on the subject of the environment and the government's environmental policies, putting forward the basic proposition which we're accustomed to hearing about in this place these days that more money spent by the government equates to more concern on the part of the person doing the spending and the more complex the regulations the greater the control and the greater the effectiveness of the policy that's being implemented.

I hear my friend from Hamilton comment on the tree huggers. I wonder if my fellow tree huggers would agree with me that we would do better to save the trees in our environment if we would cut down on the paperwork that's required in compliance with the regulations that are currently in place to comply with the laws that this government inherited from the previous government and the complex regulations that we are all ensnared in in order to comply with the requirements we faced when we took office.

We hear the stories about the draconian cuts and we hear the stories about how this government doesn't care and we are eradicating this and showing no concern for the environment. That's not what this bill is about. What this bill is about is streamlining and focusing the regulatory process so we can more appropriately be stewards of the public's resources and put those resources more effectively to work doing the job we want them to do. We hardly do anybody any favours when we spend a lot of money spinning our wheels simply regulating ourselves. The name of the game here is to focus the regulatory efforts on doing the job that has to be done, and that's the effect of this bill.

The Acting Speaker: You have two minutes to reply.

Ms Churley: I want to thank my colleagues from Northumberland, Oakwood, Hamilton Centre and York East. The member for York East just repeated the mantra that I talked about earlier. He's read the material; he knows what to say. I don't think, unfortunately, that anybody from that side of the House really listened to what I had to say. I suppose they don't believe that what I have to say is of any value. Okay, I accept that, I guess. I'm the opposition. According to you, what do I know about environmental protection?

My colleague from Hamilton Centre I think gave a fair analysis of some of my background. I feel I've got something relevant to say about this. I feel the members aren't listening and are not accepting the fact that there are problems in this bill and that you need -- because the cabinet isn't going to do it, and you as the backbenchers and the parliamentary assistants have to fight for environmental protection. You shouldn't be up there just repeating the mantra that you've been given by the ministry. I'm really surprised at you, because the member for York East should know better. He knows that this is not just about cutting regulation.

When I hear the member for Northumberland talk about picking out one specific area on Eco Logic, which I support very much, but missing the whole point of my argument that environmentalists and others across the province make time and time again -- this government is the first government from all three parties, since the early days of environmental protection, that is actually going backwards. You can pick and choose areas where we failed and should have done better, and the Liberals and Bill Davis's Tories before us. The fact is you guys are going backwards.


The Acting Speaker: Any further debate?

Mr Galt: I've picked up a new line here this afternoon and that's to have a 10-speed tree hugger. I didn't know they had got up to that many speeds. I'm sure if the NDP had stayed in government we'd have had a 24-speed tree hugger before long, but now I know there are 10-speeders out there.

It's interesting the comments about the new minister, and I think it's interesting his comments the other day and the position he has been taking with the environment. A man who is very well educated as an engineer and as a lawyer, he recognizes the importance of the environment, has said it on many occasions, and he also recognizes the needs for the environment and what has been going on with this government with the environment and recognizes what the previous minister has been doing to enhance environmental protection.

I note with interest that in the previous 90-minute speech, most of the time we were off topic, so it was a little hard just to follow all the time, but I did pay attention most of the time and noticing the fact that it was off topic most of the time would indicate there wasn't too much wrong with this bill, and therefore, I interpret being off topic most of the time as a vote of confidence for Bill 57.

I'm actually surprised the opposition is concerned about it, because if you analyse this bill -- now please listen -- we're actually going to increase the number of regulations, and I thought that would make you very excited. We hope they're very clear, the certainty within those, and we'll try our very best to make sure they are. But to get the standardized approval, we will need definitive regulations to accomplish that rather than in the past, the willy-nilly, whatever the interpretation is of the bureaucrat who happens to be looking at it, laying down the regulations for the time.

I'm certainly pleased to have this opportunity to be able to discuss Bill 57 in the House with the members of this Legislature. The Environmental Approvals Improvement Act, you will recall, received its first reading on June 3, 1996. I know that my honourable colleagues share this government's desire to ensure the protection of the environment for generations to come. We all recognize the need to be able to live, work and raise families in healthy communities. We need to be able to sustain a good standard of living without sacrificing the quality of our air, water and land.

I also believe that Bill 57 will help us to achieve our environmental goals by making Ontario's approvals system more workable. When the system is more workable, we'll be a more effective protector of our environment. Effective protection, after all, is what approvals are all about. If they are not workable and if red tape overwhelms the process, then projects get delayed. At worst, this can lead to situations where people try to circumvent the process entirely at the expense of the environment, which is most unfortunate and which we want to prevent.

These delays, of course, do nothing to further the cause of environmental protection. This is the situation that we want to put an end to. That is why we have introduced Bill 57 and especially its provision for standardized approval for certain classes of projects.

In introducing Bill 57 today, I would like to take you through in some detail the provisions laid out in Bill 57. The bill contains amendments to legislative acts administered by the Ministry of Environment and Energy, primarily the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.

These amendments will do four things:

First, they will close a government agency, the Environmental Compensation Corp, and get the ministry out of the spills compensation business, maybe something they never should have been in in the first place.

Second, the amendments cut red tape in the approvals process without compromising in any way on the high standards of environmental protection currently enjoyed by Ontarians.

Third, the Ministry of Environment and Energy is being given the ability to recover the costs of administering some of its permits and record-keeping programs.

Fourth, the amendments lower the final curtain on a 15-year epic that cost taxpayers $145 million. I'm speaking here, of course, of the Ontario Waste Management Corp and the futile yet costly search for hazardous waste solutions.

Just a quick overview of this bill: The initiatives I have just referred to are organized under four parts in Bill 57.

Part I contains amendments to the Environmental Protection Act: puts spills compensation into the exclusive domain of the court system, where it really belongs; the expansion of standardized approvals regulation will cut red tape and impose commonality on the approvals system; gives the ministry the ability to recover costs.

Part II amends the Ontario Water Resources Act to make similar provisions for standardized approvals, cost recovery and greater clarity in regulatory framework.

Part III repeals the Ontario Waste Management Corp Act.

Part IV addresses some transitional matters.

I will now take you through each of the above parts of the bill. I apologize if this material is a bit on the dry side, but everyone here understands the importance of taking a fine-tooth comb to legislation affecting the environment and human health in Ontario, and I can assure you that I will stay on topic.

In Part I, the amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, section 1 contains a series of amendments that will remove from the Environmental Protection Act all existing sections that are related to the provision of crown compensation for loss or damage incurred as a result of spills to the environment.

When it was proclaimed in 1985, part X of the Environmental Protection Act made the owners and controllers of spilled substances responsible for cleanup, restoration and compensation, regardless of who was actually responsible for causing the spill. Part X also required the reporting of spills to the Ministry of Environment and Energy and to other relevant authorities.

This was indeed an important development for environmental protection in Ontario. It is intended to avoid situations where various parties involved in a spill stand around arguing about who is to blame, rather than taking the necessary action to get it cleaned up. These provisions are working. I want to emphasize here that we're not proposing to change them or to remove the responsibilities put on owners and controllers. We feel, however, that these are key parts to the legislation that make an important contribution to environmental protection.

The act also established an agency to administer a crown compensation program, the Environmental Compensation Corp. The Environmental Compensation Corp is a very small agency. However small, though, it has cost the taxpayers of this province some $2.8 million to operate the corporation during the past 10 years. During all of that time, the corporation has only authorized compensation of about $688,000, to a total of 89 applicants. As the minister pointed out earlier, the operation costs of the corporation have amounted to over four times the amount of compensation funds that have been meted out. This does not really add up to common sense. This government does not consider it appropriate to use tax dollars for providing compensation in this way.

We are therefore proposing to get the business of compensation back into the courts by removing the provisions that enable individuals, businesses and municipalities to apply for crown compensation as a last resort, that is, where they have been unable to get the owner and/or the controller to compensate them or where the liable party cannot be traced. These amendments will terminate the Environmental Compensation Corp. The actual windup of the corporation is covered in part IV of the bill.


However, part I deals with several transitional matters related to the closing down of the ECC. For example, it will transfer to the crown the corporation's powers to recover the compensation already paid out, for instance, from a liable party who should have paid but refused to do so. It will require the repayment of compensation to the crown where appropriate. An example of this is a situation where the corporation awarded an applicant a portion of their claim so that he or she could use it to take court action against the liable party. If the court action is successful and the claimant receives a full settlement, it is only fair to the taxpayer that the compensation received through the corporation is returned. Part I will also continue certain confidentiality provisions for corporation members and staff when they become former members and staff.

Again I want to emphasize here that these amendments will have no adverse environmental impact. The responsibilities imposed on owners and controllers by part X to clean up, to restore and to compensate remain firmly in place; they will not change in any way. But the ministry itself is getting out of the business of providing compensation. We believe that the best interests of the environment will be served by devoting our energies and resources to other, more crucial areas.

Turning now to the second section of part I, section 2 provides the Ministry of Environment and Energy with regulation-making authority for standardized approvals and for the charging of fees to recover costs. Standardized approval is an important concept and one which this government believes will help modernize approvals and make them do the job they are supposed to do: Protect the environment and the health of our communities. Standardized approvals represent an updated approach to the certificate-of-approval process which the ministry administers under the province's two main pieces of legislation protecting the environment: the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.

As I mentioned just a few moments ago, part I of Bill 57 covers the necessary amendments to the Environmental Protection Act. Part II contains the amendments to the Ontario Water Resources Act, which we will come to in just a few moments; they will be very much the same as those I'm about to describe.

Currently under the Environmental Protection Act, any activity which could potentially result in emissions or discharge of any kind being released into the natural environment requires a certificate of approval. But the current legislation does not allow us to differentiate between the approvals required to operate a little restaurant exhaust fan and a giant smelter. This means that sometimes we need to go through costly and lengthy approvals processes for fairly common and mundane kinds of activities. It is the equivalent of trying to use a sledgehammer to kill a fly. We need processes which are adapted towards achieving appropriate and efficient results. The current legislation is unwieldy and inflexible in the extreme.

Taken in its true legal sense, the current Environmental Protection Act could arguably be interpreted to mean that you require a certificate of approval to install bathroom vents in your homes. Consequently, just before you left home this morning, running your bathroom fan without a certificate of approval was really breaking the law. Farmers: Technically, if you look at the Environmental Protection Act, every livestock barn they have with a fan on it should have a certificate of approval, according to present legislation, which really doesn't make too much sense. This would, of course, be an absurd way of using up and taking up ministry resources. The definitions in the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act are so broad that they capture virtually any individual or activity.

What we are doing here is developing a legislative approach that sets out the appropriate process and the level of direct government review for different classes of activities. Each standardized approval regulation would be customized to the activity it regulates. The amendments proposed will enable classes of activities, people or things to be exempted from the certificate of approvals process. Of course, the amendments will also enable conditions or rules to be attached to the exemption to ensure that all aspects of a project are covered off in terms of their potential to adversely affect the environment.

Under this approach, the proponents of specific classes of activities will be able to proceed in accordance with environmental rules established by regulation. They will not need to apply for a specific certificate of approval and tie up horrendous quantities of the ministry's resources.

I'll give you an example of this principle under the Ontario Water Resources Act. In governing the municipal sewage system, individual certificates of approval have to date been required when a new home is built that is connected to the existing infrastructure. As you can imagine, this is a very common kind of activity. Furthermore, the municipalities all currently review the design and the specific applications of every pipe and are ultimately responsible for the operation and its maintenance. The province's involvement is therefore totally redundant but still required by the law. This regulation-making power will provide us with the flexibility to deal with that situation by providing an exemption with appropriate conditions attached.

I want to underline here the fact that the amendments will provide the necessary regulation-making authority. They will not specify the types or classes of activities to be covered. The regulations themselves will be developed later, in consultation with appropriate stakeholders. Consultation is an important concept for this government because we believe in listening to those who know best: those stakeholders who are involved in the environment.

We reject the view that government always knows best, something like the previous government that was in this House. We will hold consultations with both industrial and environmental groups. This process will examine the classes of activities to be covered by standardized approvals and the rules to be imposed on each class.

Broad public consultation will be conducted by means of an electronic registry created through the Environmental Bill of Rights. Any citizen of Ontario can call in at 1-800-667-9979, or by accessing the government of Ontario site on the World Wide Web.

An important consideration in the development of the proposed amendments we are discussing today was making sure that they do not lower our standards of environmental protection. The environment must not and will not be compromised in any way. The Minister of Environment and Energy, the Honourable Norm Sterling, has gone on record to state that the Ontario government is firmly committed to maintaining and, wherever possible, improving upon the high standard of environmental protection enjoyed by the citizens of this province.

As Mr Sterling has said: "We need a balance between the environment and the economy. But if it comes to a choice, the environment must be protected. The Minister of Environment and Energy will be the province's chief environmental guardian." I do not think he could have made this point any clearer.

Returning to standardized approvals, they will allow the same standard of environmental protection to be applied via regulation rather than be imposed on each individual certificate of approval. Cutting red tape also helps us achieve another governmental goal: getting out of the job of micromanaging, which the previous government seemed to have great expertise in. The ministry cannot be efficient when it is busy dealing with fine details, with telling industry not only what standards to meet but also how to meet them. The proper role of the Ministry of Environment and Energy is setting and enforcing strong environmental standards.


Standardized approvals also are good news for the public. They do not affect the ability of the Ministry of Environment and Energy to obtain compliance from dischargers or prosecute those who do not comply with provincial environmental requirements.

For the ministry, this more workable system of approvals will lessen the workload in non-essential areas and allow us to focus on our core businesses.

We are calling this approach "standardized approvals" because we believe that to be a better name than "permit by rule," as it has commonly been known in the past.

This approach will not be used for all classes of activities requiring a ministry certificate of approval. It is appropriate only for activities where the environmental implications are well understood and predictable and the impacts can be mitigated through the application of standardized rules or conditions. All other classes of activities will continue to require a certificate of approval.

The rules imposed via regulation may include notification to the ministry of the activity and a requirement to pay a fee associated with this notification. The amount of these fees has not yet been determined.

I should point out here that the use of standardized approvals is not new. We are not reinventing the wheel with these amendments. The legislative authority for standardized approvals already exists with respect to part V of the Environmental Protection Act, which governs waste sites and systems. This authority was introduced by the previous government. Our predecessors obviously recognized it as a sound concept for appropriate activities, and I understand that's why they're quite supportive of this bill. We do not always agree with our predecessors, but in this case, we do. It is a case of the exception proving the rule.

Two such regulations have been enacted by the previous government: regulation 101/94, recycling and composting of municipal waste; and regulation 501/92, selected waste depots. I'd recommend that to their reading.

This approach is working very well. That is why we are expanding it to other approvals required under the Environmental Protection Act, primarily with respect to air emissions. We are looking out for what is in the best interests of the environment. This, again, is part of our government's commitment to taking a commonsense approach to all aspects of environmental protection.

Looking at cost recovery, earlier I mentioned a possible requirement to provide notification and to pay a fee associated with a standardized approval. The ministry already has a variety of legislative authorities to charge fees relating to certificates of approval, examination, licences, permits and the provision of copies of documents, plans or drawings.

Amendments are proposed to consolidate these existing legislative authorities and provide the Ministry of Environment and Energy with a broad general fee-making capability. Specifically, these amendments would expand the existing fee-making authority to allow fees for any registration or record required by the legislation or regulations, and fees for the provision of information, services or recordings by the ministry.

With this authority, we will be able to introduce fees to recover administrative costs in areas such as generator registration and waste manifests. These two systems track hazardous and liquid industrial waste from generation to disposal. By imposing fees, we will ensure that the costs of administering the systems are paid by those who produce and handle the waste. This is only fair.

The principle at work here is consistent with the government policy; namely, that the ministries operate as far as possible on a cost recovery basis. Only those who use the programs will be required to pay for them.

Under part II, amendments to the Ontario Water Resources Act: As I mentioned earlier, this part of the bill essentially does for the Ontario Water Resources Act what part I does for the Environmental Protection Act in terms of providing the regulation-making authority for standardized approval and cost recovery. Standardized approvals, under the Ontario Water Resources Act, will apply to things such as water and sewage works, as I referenced in my earlier example.

We are also looking into the concept of charging fees for the recovery of administrative costs for obtaining water well records and permits to take water. These do not represent any kind of levy on the general public. Fees will be paid only by those who benefit from the services provided.

An amendment also clarifies an existing provision whereby drainage or sewage works carried out under the Drainage Act are exempt from the requirement for an approval under the Ontario Water Resources Act. The current exemption was originally intended to deal with strictly agricultural activities. We have found, however, that it is being used for subdivision development on former agricultural lands.

It was never intended that stormwater drainage for land development purposes be exempted. An amendment is proposed to clarify this.

Once this exemption is clarified, the standardized approval approach can be implemented for stormwater drainage. In this way we will be able to distinguish between agricultural, and development for residential, commercial or industrial purposes.

Many of the amendments are a simple matter of housekeeping. The introduction of our proposed amendments requires some tidying up of existing regulation-making authorities under both the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.

The housekeeping amendments pertain to consolidating existing authorities for fee-making, the classification of activities, people or things and the exemption of activities, people or things. These changes are meant to improve the organization of the acts so that the legislation will be easier to use in the future. Again it gets back to the ideas of making everything to do with environmental protection more workable.

Repeal of the Ontario Waste Management Corporation Act: The ministry is proposing to repeal the Ontario Waste Management Corporation Act to lower the final curtain on this corporation, which cost $145 million over 15 years. As everyone here is aware, the Ontario Waste Management Corp was given a mandate to find solutions for hazardous waste management issues within the province. A site in West Lincoln was selected and a lengthy environmental assessment hearing was undertaken.

Unfortunately, with the vagaries and uncertainty of our EA process in full view, the corporation's efforts ultimately failed. The corporation ceased operations in October 1995, following an announcement in July 1995 that it was being terminated.

Repeal of the act is a final formality. It simply ties up some loose ends. The experience with the Ontario Waste Management Corp was also one of the key motivations behind the long-overdue environmental assessment reforms that we have introduced.

Part IV contains the transitional items I referred to earlier. With the exception of section 1 of the bill, these amendments will come into force on the day the bill receives royal assent. Section 1 removes government compensation for spills and terminates the Environmental Compensation Corp. We can assure members that all claims received by the date the bill was introduced will be considered. However, the bill cuts off any new corporation business by providing that claims received after the day this bill is introduced will not be considered. Part IV also provides that section I comes into force when it is proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor.

The final section of Bill 57 is the short title of the act, Environmental Approvals Improvement Act, 1996.

I believe this act is good news for the people of Ontario because it shows that our government is serious about delivering the maximum environmental benefit for the taxpayers' dollars. Bill 57 will help ensure that the public receives this environmental protection benefit through a modernized approvals process that is more workable and better able to serve its intended purpose: Protecting the environment and keeping the communities of this province clean and healthy.


I would like to thank the honourable members for bearing with me. I know we are dealing with rather dry material here, but my colleagues understand the need to go through it and to understand this bill. Thank you very much for the 30 minutes.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions or comments?

Mr Colle: I want to say to the member for Northumberland that he obviously has done a lot of work in making his presentation. It is certainly a very thorough analysis of, as he said, a very complex piece of legislation and I want to commend him for that. I know he is sincere in what he's saying and what he's trying to explain in the bill.

I just have a couple of comments that I think have to be put in perspective. I know you talk about the fact that the government believes in wide consultation and public input, yet my understanding of it is that the minister has not agreed to public hearings and that, to me, is astonishing. Maybe there's a mistake here. Perhaps I haven't received the information, but my understanding is that to this point the minister's refusing any public hearings. Maybe the member could explain that to me; why, if they're so anxious for broad public consultation, they wouldn't allow for public hearings.

I'm also very concerned about the fact that the minister is talking about setting up another one of these 1-800 numbers. I don't think that's going to do it for public consultation. You just can't replace people talking to people face to face with these 1-800 numbers that may satisfy the mandarins in the environmental office there at St Clair and Avenue Road, but you need more than these electronic numbers and, as you said, electronic registries. I think you need a formalized process where people can give their concerns and their concerns, I think, are going to come up because you are making some pretty dramatic changes.

Again, I thank the member for his remarks, but I certainly hope he pushes for public hearings on this bill.

Ms Churley: I appreciate the comments made by the parliamentary assistant. I don't have time to argue all the points and I believe we had a bit of an opportunity to hear each other out and we have major disagreements about the implications of this bill, but I'm going to concentrate on his comments about public participation and consultation and say to him that if he's serious about that, he will announce today or Monday that there will be public hearings on this bill. It is vital. People are calling for it and want it.

I want to comment though and say that he is wrong to give the impression that this government wants more public participation and consultation. They are taking those rights away more and more. The intervenor funding program is gone. They haven't replaced it with anything. That's a huge impediment to people trying to participate in major EA hearings.

But having said that, if the government goes through and guts EA the way it's written now, if they don't make a major amendment which, to date, we haven't seen, it means there might not even be hearings on things like garbage dumps or full EA hearings which, I might add, the Premier once promised and now he has backed down. That will be a problem.

They have been limiting the use of the Environmental Bill of Rights which started with Bill 26. In fact, even Eva Ligeti, the Environmental Commissioner, was so alarmed that she did an unprecedented thing and presented a special report to the Speaker at the time outlining her concern. Also now on this bill the government is imposing economic barriers to public access, to MOEE and the services. Their fee regime is giving them vague new powers to charge for anything, so overall this government is limiting substantively access to information and consultation and participation.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the member's speech. I was watching it carefully on the monitor, and I tried to be reassured that the government wasn't moving in the direction of watering down its environmental protection in the province. The member did a credible job of attempting to alleviate those concerns, but I still have them, because I think this bill cannot be looked at as a bill by itself but in the context of everything the government is doing in the field in the environment, and every piece of legislation, every regulation and every policy so far has been designed to weaken the environment.

I understand it, because when you go to your fund-raisers, the people who are there are people who have a vested interest, at least for their business, in shoving aside the environment because it gets in their way. There's no question. I know it gets in the way of people. I used to listen to people who would make complaints about the environment on many occasions and it's most unfortunate because this bill, the speeding up of approvals -- in certain circumstances some of the impediments you removed are reasonable and we've said that, but in many of the circumstances, we're going to find they're not reasonable and that by not following the small-c conservative way of taking extra time, being extra cautious, we're going to find that governments are making mistakes.

I know the NDP will be next in responding to this, and they may say some of the same things, because I know the member for Etobicoke wishes to respond as well, and I know the NDP is going to get up and respond to his speech.

What I want to ensure is that the government isn't moving in the opposite direction, and my great fear, with all the goodwill of the parliamentary assistant, with all the goodwill of the minister, those in the Premier's office and the Premier himself want to move towards making it more business-friendly, and that means, of course, weakening environmental protection.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I noticed the member for St Catharines did his best to ensure that I didn't get up to respond. I'm quite happy I did, and I thank the members opposite in the NDP caucus.

It is curious though, isn't it, when the member for St Catharines stands in his place and says, "Look, I understand why these people are moving forward on their environmental issues this way, because the people who fill up their coffers are the ones who want to see the environment pushed aside"?

The argument could be made by some cynical sort out there -- not by myself, but by some cynical sort -- that maybe when the Minister of the Environment was the member for St Catharines he was pushing forward these environmental concerns and his particular political coffers were being filled by those people who wanted to see the environmental protection and agencies beefed up to levels that were virtually unreasonable; unreasonable.

Mr Colle: They don't have any money, they're all on bicycles.

Mr Stockwell: I'm not so sure if they didn't have any money or if maybe it was politically a stunt, because I recall in that election of 1990, when the member for St Catharines had his government turfed out, that the environment people turned on the minister, turned on the Premier. They went down to his initial launch, and they claimed he didn't do anything for the environment, that he was wrecking the environment, that it was a terrible administration.

I know first hand from my friend the member for St Catharines that his record in the environment ministry was probably exemplary, but let's be clear: Those people who this member speaks for today, they're never satisfied. They weren't satisfied when the Liberals spent billions and billions of tax dollars building up regulations, building up red tape, slowing down development and grinding this province to a halt. They weren't satisfied when the NDP were in power, for heaven's sake. They spoke loud and long against the government.

Now we're in power, they're not satisfied, and we hear on the opposition benches how irresponsible we are. Let's be clear: We've all had a kick at this can, and they've all decided that we're all apparently irresponsible and you were no better seen in their eyes than us.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the member wish to respond?


Mr Galt: Thank you for the responses that I've been listening to. Certainly this government has been a government of consultation. It went on for many years prior to the election. It's been going on ever since.

They were making reference to the reg reform that I've been guiding through the Ministry of Environment and Energy. We approached some 200 organizations, particular stakeholders -- we may have missed a few; that's possible -- inviting them to contribute to what we were doing. I actually sat and listened to some 25 groups, some for up to three hours. I believe that's consultation and listening. After we listened, we put it to paper, we wrote some of their ideas down, and they're jumping all over us because we wrote down some of these ideas that people presented to us. We now have it out for some 75 days for a response. Then we'll further look at it and come up with ideas and ways to protect the environment and to work with it.

As far as public hearings on this bill, there's been no discussion -- I don't know where you're getting the idea that there won't be any public hearings on this particular bill.

Economic concerns: Yes, there are all kinds of economic concerns. There have to be with the way that money has been spent in this province over the past 10 years. This is a government that has real concerns about social programs. If you only look at them today, we're going to be out of money. There won't be any money for environment, there won't be any money for welfare, there won't be any money for education, there won't be any money for health if we keep spending at the rate that you guys have been spending for the last 10 years. It just won't be there.

With health and the interest on the debt today, that's over 50%. There's only 48% left for anything else. Very quickly we're going to be over $10 billion a year in interest payments alone. That's where the previous two governments have put us and that's why we have some economic concerns, so there will be some social programs down the road.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Colle: Unlike the member for Northumberland, I'm going to speak about Bill 57. I noticed he started talking in defence of his tax cut giveaway and how that's going to solve all the problems and that's going to create a good social net for everyone, but the problem is that people see that it's destructive more than anything else.

In terms of Bill 57, the general thrust of the bill in terms of the original intention is one that deserves some merit. In other words, I can see where the ministry looked at certainly the vast volumes of let's say regulation and bureaucratic machinations dealing with the environmental regulation and realized perhaps there should be some focus to it. I think that was the original motive perhaps, but the original motive got tied in with the government's ideological bent and the way they've treated the environment as a government since they've been here for the last year. So I think you've got sort of a Hekyll and --

Mr Christopherson: Jekyll and Hyde.

Mr Colle: Jekyll and Hyde. It's been a long time.

It's a bit of a schizophrenic attempt to try to deal with the problem. On the one hand, there is some attempt to essentially make things more manageable. On the other hand, it also fits into this government's belief that the environment and people who want to protect it are somehow an encumbrance to economic vitality in terms of governing this province. I think that's where the flaws are in Bill 57.

In looking at some of the analysis done of this bill by, I would think, people who have expertise in this complex area of environmental management, I want to refer to Paul Muldoon, who's a lawyer with the Canadian Environmental Law Association. In looking at this bill, what he's most concerned about is that in the area of housekeeping, as the member said, there are some pretty significant changes taking place.

First of all, the effect of some of these proposals would be to remove reporting requirements for industrial polluters that may indicate whether their discharges might cause long-term harm. I'm just concerned whether that is in the long run going to be to the benefit of the people of Ontario. Also, if you get into the requirements for pulp and paper makers to plant, they may be allowed to eliminate reporting certain toxic water emissions.

Also, they're going to be handing over responsibility for control of odour, noise and dust to municipalities. I'm sure the members opposite know that the more downloading you do to municipalities, the more of a checkerboard-type effect you have in enforcement, because every municipality in Ontario has different abilities to follow through on certain initiatives. Some municipalities may have the tax dollars to have more inspectors and more staff people to follow through. Other municipalities that are severely hit by cutbacks by this government, by certainly lower assessment, are not going to be able to have this type of enforcement.

You're going to have a real lack of uniformity and it's going to vary from municipality to municipality in their ability to control things that to most people may seem to be innocuous -- I don't want to use the term "innocuous," but seem to be minor in nature, like odour, noise or dust. But those of you who have been on local council, and I think to a certain extent as MPPs, know these occurrences in neighbourhoods can be most dreadful for the residents.

I know I've got a case in my own constituency of a restaurant, for instance, that doesn't have proper ventilation. Subsequently the whole neighbourhood is suffering from the odours that constantly permeate out of this restaurant. Will that municipality have the wherewithal to enforce proper ventilation regulations with all the cutbacks that are going to municipalities? As you download some of these responsibilities, I really wonder how many municipalities are going to have the ability and the wherewithal to enforce this type of regulation.

They are also, under Bill 57, handing over responsibility for the control -- reducing requirements for companies to conduct audits and set goals for reducing packaging and other waste. As you know, I think in the last decade there has been some progress, some significant achievements in reducing packaging. You can remember back in the 1960s and 1970s you might end up with some small container that you required that was in a box the size of a room almost. There have been some gains made. Now with this bill it looks like that may be watered down because companies will not be setting goals to reduce packaging or even conducting an accounting of it.

Also, there's the possibility of removing requirements to obtain approval for scrapyards. Those of you who have dealt with scrapyards in your own constituencies will know the impact that a scrapyard -- I guess now they call them "recycling centres" or they've got some other sort of more topical name for them. But I just wonder what effect that's going to have on a site-by-site approval basis of scrapyards going into constituencies and cities and municipalities, whether they'll be able to control that with these changes.

Also what might be jeopardized, according to Mr Muldoon, is removing some permanent requirements for pesticide applications and possibly requiring less public notification. That's something that again is most serious as far as people living in close proximity to each other, in terms of spraying that is done to trees or spraying that is done to lawns or agricultural areas. I'm not sure if Bill 57 safeguards that type of protection for people who may suffer the consequences from spraying of pesticides.

Mr Muldoon, who I think is a very credible lawyer with the Canadian Environmental Law Association, does not support this initiative because he says it's part of a government that is relaxing environmental protection. He's most concerned. He refers to the fact that this is the same government that brought about Bill 26, for instance, which relaxed all kinds of environmental statutes and relaxed cleanup requirements, even relaxed cleanup requirements for mining. In fact, I was at the committee meeting when he came to speak to that. He was very concerned of what would happen as a result of Bill 26 relaxing those cleanup requirements for mining companies. I know the mining companies are happy, but I wonder what the long-term effects of those relaxations were with Bill 26.


Mr Muldoon also is very concerned that this ministry perhaps is trying to cover up for the fact that it is a gutted ministry. It's a ministry that has been cut by 35%, up to 50% perhaps by next year, in staffing. Sure, some of those people who were cut out of the Ministry of the Environment perhaps weren't essential, but out of the 800 or 750 people who are gone, who have been eliminated, I'm sure some of them were very valuable in terms of ensuring environmental protection.

So you've got a ministry that's been ravaged by this government's cuts. How can this ministry now be in charge of protecting the environment with so few resources? Our own environment critic says this ministry will lose about $200 million. So there's a bit of a contradiction here. How can these regulations be enforced? How can they be watched over when the watchdog has lost all its teeth? The Ministry of Environment is the people's watchdog to ensure that the environment is taken as a priority in this province, yet this ministry again has really been essentially dismantled in many areas. I don't know how you can keep a ministry intact to do a job that is very demanding when you cut $200 million from its budget.

It has certainly not been a priority of this government. The environment has not been on the top of its agenda. We certainly know from what happened in Bill 20, for instance. If you put Bill 57 in context of Bill 20, you'll see that there is a very real and I think a tangible fear by the Ontario population that this government is taking a laissez-faire attitude towards the environment.

That is part of this government's attitude. It doesn't believe in government regulation, in government interference, and that's your philosophy. But I think when it comes to the environment, it's got to be a bit different. You cannot walk away from that responsibility of regulating and protecting, really is what it is, the province's health and the health of its citizens.

If our waterways and our air quality cannot be protected -- and the private sector is not going to do that. In their benevolence, they have other priorities. Their priority, their job one, is the bottom line, and that's their prerogative. But you as a government, your priority, your ministry's job one should be pure and simple protection of this province's air, this province's land, this province's people and watercourses. That's not an easy task and you can't do it if you gut a ministry. You can't do it by putting down some vague, general pronouncements and relying on possibilities of enforcement.

If you look at what's happening in terms of the environment of this province, you'll see these are almost -- I was going to call it déjà vu, or going back to a different era. If you see the horror that is taking place by many people -- I know people have called me up about Temagami and what's happening there, the mining that's about to begin in Temagami, the cutting down of the old forests, the red pine, white pine. They really wonder what's going on in Temagami and they say, "Is that the right thing to do after 20 years, to allow the old-growth forests to be cut down?" Those are not people who are the eco-terrorists, they're not the radicals, they're ordinary citizens in Ontario who really are beginning to doubt and question what this government's long-range motive is in allowing things that are happening in Temagami to continue to happen.

You also hear and see this government's attitude towards the Niagara Escarpment. I know that the Niagara Escarpment has long been a real jewel in the crown of this province in its wonderful open spaces. I know that one of the long-term defenders of the escarpment is Michael Valpy from the Globe and Mail, and he is very, very frightened about what's happening. He mentions in the Globe and Mail on September 24 that this government is misreading the Ontario electorate, misreading the taxpayers of Ontario. Even though they may not jump up and down about environmental issues, deep down in their hearts the environment is just as important as the economy, and it's not to be underestimated.

He goes on to say:

"In their 15 months in office, the Ontario Conservatives have dismantled development controls in the Niagara region, proposed the exemption of the aggregate...industry from regulations on the fragile Niagara Escarpment, and wiped out 20 years of work on land use planning, and have embarked on one of the most aggressive programs of tearing down environmental regulations in Canada.

"More recently, they have let go more than one third of the staff of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, and last week they jettisoned the chairwoman and four commissioners of the NEC without announcing plans to replace them."

I know some of you may say that Michael Valpy is an alarmist or an extremist or one of these eco-terrorists; I don't know what you're going to say about him. But I think he has a legitimate faith and belief in the future, in the protection of the fragile character of the escarpment. You cannot argue that. There are a lot of Ontarians who feel the same way about not only the escarpment but this whole province, that it is a very fragile province that cannot be taken for granted and you can't leave it up to chance.

Perhaps some of us should remind ourselves how important it is to have people who are extra-cautious about what we do to the environment. That's why with Bill 57 I don't see that change in this government's attitude, where they go back to the small-c conservative attitude of really conserving the open spaces and the fragile waterways of this province. This bill continues on the path of Bill 20, Bill 26 and the slash-and-burn regimen of this government towards the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

If you look at this government's attitude towards air quality, that's related obviously, because this summer you saw certain days where there were warnings in Metro Toronto to be careful if you have asthma or emphysema or any respiratory problems, that the air quality might be dangerous to your health, and this government is not taking a proactive role in dealing with that other critical part of the environment, the air quality.

If you look at what's happening in the GTA, on a daily basis now there's almost gridlock, there's sort of a meltdown that takes place because of the growing number of people using their automobiles to get around, because the government has made massive cuts to public transportation, so there aren't the buses out there, there aren't the facilities. You've got more people in cars, you've got more congestion, you've got more noxious, toxic emissions in the air.

This is what this government is really setting the stage for, air quality problems, water quality problems and a threat to our farm lands, if they continue on this road of looking at the environment as some kind of third-tier issue, a third-tier ministry. Sure there had to be cuts, but not so fast and so deep, and not so fast and so deep in the Ministry of Environment. I think that sent a very clear and concrete signal to all of us in Ontario that the environment was not one of the priorities of this government.


If you talk to the rank-and-file people who work in the Ministry of Environment, they will tell you that ministry is in a state of paranoia. They don't feel that the cabinet, this government, has this ministry as one that is to be protected and that is to go out there and really do its job. Ask any backbenchers to talk to people who work in the ministry and if they feel the ministry can adequately protect our water, our land, our air. They can't, because there are massive layoffs and cutbacks that have basically left a ghost of a ministry.

Look at what has happened to intervenor funding. When I was at Metro the cost of finding out, first of all, the complications dealing with environmental issues was prohibitive. Ordinary citizens cannot afford to pay the legal fees required to get up to speed on environmental issues. You need resources to have equal footing with the private sector in terms of having good public input on environmental issues, but this government abolished intervenor funding. Certainly that sends a very strong message to people that they can't get involved in changing and protecting some of the issues that perhaps come to their community.

In total, if you look at this bill and at what is happening across this province, in Temagami, in the Niagara Escarpment, what's happening to all the environmental advocacy groups, they don't have the resources. There is no funding for them to even be advocates for environmental issues. I think on a wing and a prayer the Canadian Environmental Law Association is still able to perhaps get involved, but there are not enough citizens' groups out there that can be a sober second thought for government.

It's very difficult, and I don't see that this government has done anything to give citizens' groups and taxpayers the ability to plead their case before this government. Corporate Ontario will have no problem in pleading their case. They will be on a 1-800 number, they'll be on the electronic registry, they'll be plugged in, but ordinary citizens in rural Ontario, in northern Ontario, in cities and towns will not have the resources to plead their case if there's an environmental issue in their community. They will not have the wherewithal to defend themselves and defend their interests in terms of the environment. Bill 57 does nothing in terms of further enhancing and protecting ordinary citizens and their right to protect what is a finite resource: our environment.

As I mentioned to the member for Northumberland, I know there has been a positive initiative in terms of trying to streamline, and I think you should be commended for that, but I don't agree with the blending of some of that initiative with this hell-bent-for-leather attitude that just because you get rid of regulation, it's a good thing; just because you anger environmental groups, it's a good thing. I think you should try to get the environmental groups on side, get olive branches out to them. As the member for Etobicoke West said, they're never happy; some of them are never happy. That's something that goes part and parcel with the political milieu we're in. In all areas of politics, in the economic area, you can't always satisfy everybody, but at least they are our conscience.

These people who have a strong belief in the protection of wilderness areas and our watercourses and wildlife, sometimes they may be extreme to us, but we need those people with that kind of commitment. They are not tolerable sometimes, because they are perhaps abrasive and overbearing, but their intentions are good for the most part. They want to make this a province that we can hand over to our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

If you look at what's happening in southern Ontario, if you look from Windsor to Cornwall, you'll see that there is an encroachment of paved driveways, of parking lots, of strip malls, of monster stores -- these subdivisions covering over wonderful farm land in every nook and corner of Ontario. Sure, we need growth and development, but there have got to be restraints. We've got to protect some of our agricultural lands, not for today, but let's look 100 or 200 years down the road when our great-grandchildren will say: "Why did you give up all that farm land in the Niagara area? Why is all that beautiful lake front gone? Why are there so many paved-over areas?"

That's what the ministry should be doing: Looking 100 years down the road. I shouldn't say "the road"; hopefully into the green fields of 100 years from now. What you should have maybe is a 100-year plan to see where you'll be at.

Again, I want to say that the environment may not be the number one topic on talk radio, but deep in the heart of most Ontarians they are proud of this beautiful green and arable province that they want to pass on to the next generation. Really, I think it's true. For those of us who have travelled, there's no place better than Ontario. We've got beautiful diversity in terms of our land, everything from mountain streams to our lakes and rivers and forests, our northland. We've got a beautiful province, a province that we are proud of, but let's make sure that at this crossroads, this turning point we're at, let's not go down that route that takes us to no return. In other words, once you've paved over areas, you've built cities on them and you've polluted the waterways, there's no coming back. I think we should learn from what happened in eastern Europe. We should learn about what not to do.

Let's look 100 years into the future and build an Ontario that is almost going back to our forefathers, the pioneers, and the way they found it. Maybe we can learn a lesson from our pioneers, who made this such a wonderful province.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Christopherson: I want to compliment the member for Oakwood on his very effective speech in defence of the environment and pointing out where Bill 57 does anything but protect the environment.

I want to pick up on one of the issues he mentioned in terms of environmental advocacy groups. He talked of their inability to play the vital role they have. In addition to the intervenor funding that was cut by this government, we also know that it has disbanded the Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee, eliminated the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy and terminated the Advisory Committee on Environmental Standards. They've replaced those important watchdog, public, participating groups with their infamous 1-800 number. You don't need to bring all the community experts, you don't need to bring environmental and medical and legal experts together, and business experts -- you don't need to bring them all together and talk about these problems and identify long-range goals that allow us to have sustainable development but still to preserve and enhance our environment -- "No, no, we don't need to do all that. All we need is a 1-800 number."


You expect that somehow people watching and studying this are going to believe that you really care what anybody thinks about the environment or about your legislation beyond the cronies and pals you meet with quite regularly in the boardrooms and smoke-filled backrooms of the deal-making, because that's the only answer to all of this. You've obviously got to be addressing someone's agenda. It certainly isn't those who know and care about the environment and have a proven track record. I think you ought to listen to members like the member for Oakwood and my colleague from Riverdale.

Mr Galt: Compliments to the member for Oakwood for a compassionate speech, very concerned about the environment. However, I am rather disappointed that he would read from the popular press and quote from them. I would have preferred if he'd sat down and taken the time to read Bill 57 and the responsive regulatory review and the technical annex so that he would understand some of the things this government is putting through.

The popular press, as I read it recently, is not really concerned about reporting facts; it's more sensationalism. That's what you were referring to and claiming is in this bill. If you'd looked at the idea about noise, dust and odour, it's been suggested in the consultation paper by some people who came to us that maybe we should try a pilot project in a municipality. There's nothing in there saying that's what we're going to do. It's pen to paper as a suggestion of some things that have come to our attention. If you'd read that, you wouldn't have embarrassed yourself here in the House with those comments.

You were talking about the Temagami area and the cutting of trees having nothing to do with the Minister of Environment specifically, that's natural resources, but I bring to your attention that this is in an area where there was 40% unemployment, responsible cutting of trees, and I don't hear anybody up there complaining about what's going on in Temagami. You should notice or observe, and I'm sure the member concerned about labour would notice, that for every job created in the north, some seven others are created in the south with those raw materials. That's what makes Ontario what it is, working together where the resources are, using those raw materials to add value for the province. When it's handled in a responsible way, as this one will be, I don't know what your concern is all about.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'm delighted to rise and applaud my colleague the member for Oakwood on his presentation.

In essence my colleague Mr Colle was saying that you cannot do more with less, especially when it comes to the environment. Unfortunately I have to disagree with the member for Northumberland that anyone who speaks in defending the environment embarrasses the House. My goodness, if we can't speak in this House defending the environment, if we don't do it, the government certainly doesn't seem to be doing it.

Let me say in essence what my colleague the member for Oakwood said: You cannot cut your staff support by 50% by next year and turn it over to municipalities to safeguard the environment. It just doesn't work that way. We told you that the cuts you're doing in some areas are quite appropriate, but there is one area that does not multiply by itself: the environment. I think my colleague from Oakwood has put on the floor in this House all the best possible scenarios to safeguard the environment.

I'm pleased to see a couple of ministers in the House today and I hope they are listening like the members of the opposition. I hope the government will give us the due public hearings so they will hear from the people in Ontario, so they can really say, "The environment is not an area where we can cut and still obtain more." If there is one area that doesn't multiply, where we can't do any more, it's the environment. When it's gone, it's gone, and it's affecting you and it's affecting everybody.

Ms Churley: I'd like to thank the member for Oakwood for his comments. I think he would find it interesting to hear from the parliamentary assistant that he shouldn't be quoting from the popular press. I think it's important that he quote from the popular press, because the press is doing more and more of a very good job of reporting what is happening in the environment and the deregulation that's going on.

They're very happy to quote from the so-called popular press when the press agrees with them. There was a minister on his feet today quoting from the popular press because he liked something it said. We should be environmentalists and communities should be very happy to see the press is finally picking up on the kinds of environmental deregulation that's going on and telling people about it.

I want to refer to the Temagami issue, which the member for Oakwood spoke about, and the fact that it's interesting the parliamentary assistant said, "That's natural resources, it's nothing to do with the Ministry of Environment." Cutting trees, old-growth forest, only 2% left of the species, is not the job of the Ministry of Environment? I think that says it all, and I'm glad the member for Oakwood raised the Temagami issue because it's one that I believe the Ministry of Environment needs to get involved in; it's a very important environmental issue.

There is 2% of these species left and there are people taking the Ministry of Natural Resources to court for breaking the law, for cutting down trees which are going to disappear as a species if something isn't done about it. Since the Ministry of Natural Resources refuses to take any action, it is up to the Minister of Environment to do something to save some of these trees.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Oakwood has two minutes to respond.

Mr Colle: I have to admit that I received this fax from my daughter yesterday, saying, "Why aren't you people raising a stink about what's happening in Temagami?" She says, "Why is the House so quiet about this critical issue?" My daughter, I think, represents a lot of young Ontarians who are again asking questions about this government's commitment to our natural forests and our natural environment, and I think that's what the debate is all about.

I want to thank the members for Hamilton Centre and Riverdale for their comments, and my colleague from Yorkview, and also the member for Northumberland, who perhaps may have a bit of a different perspective. But I really challenge him to perhaps go to Temagami -- I've never been there; we'll go there together -- to see if that's not part of really what our future's all about. That's the point I'm trying to make, that what we want to ensure is what we do today with our bills and with our laws is that we're doing what's right for our great-grandchildren. None of us is perfect and I just hope we have the resolve to sometimes do the tough thing.

I know the member for Northumberland mentioned the popular press. Actually, the popular press reluctantly talks about the environment; it's not page 1 or 2 or 3. I think the popular press is more interested in other issues of the day; it is not on the front burner. But perhaps we can bring it to the front burner and literally get people reminded of how critical it is to think about the environment as our health and as our future; not in a way that's sanctimonious, but in a way that's practical and pragmatic and for the good of Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Christopherson: I appreciate the opportunity to provide some thoughts and comments on Bill 57. The first thing I want to do is to emphasize the importance to the public that this government be forced -- because that's the only way it usually happens -- to have public hearings on this bill. We've seen a government that tried to ram through the bully bill, omnibus Bill 26, and we know what happened here in the Legislature as we had to literally hijack the place to force the government to have some kind of public hearings. Even that was inadequate, but it was certainly more than the railroad job they were trying to pull.


We know that the brand-new Ontario Labour Relations Act, the anti-worker Bill 7, was rammed through with no public hearings at all. The government likes to laugh. It's too bad the cameras can't show the laughing and joking because they think public hearings are a joke.


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Christopherson: They do, and on Bill 49, the Employment Standards Act, we had to force this government --


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Christopherson: Thank you, Speaker. Bill 49 is a bill that guts rights that workers have in the Employment Standards Act and this government had the audacity to say it was just housekeeping and that it didn't need any public hearings and they were going to ram that through with no hearings. We forced them. Our party, with the support of the Liberals, forced this government to hold public hearings and as a result, they pulled back major pieces of that legislation. They've offered up their own government amendments. When I asked them the question yesterday, "What would have happened if these amendments hadn't been made?" the evidence was that the bill would have created more confusion, in fact, confusion where it didn't lie before.

That's the sort of thing that happens when you ram through legislation and don't give the people an opportunity to be heard. So I caution the government and urge anyone listening or who's following these proceedings to urge their local member, particularly if it's a Tory, to fight for the fact that you as the public are entitled to public hearings on this bill because if even half of the criticism that's being heaped on this government is true, then we owe it to the future generations to at least, if nothing else, take the time to look at this bill and give the people of Ontario, all of Ontario, an opportunity to be heard and to offer up their evidence.

Don't suggest to us somehow that a 1-800 number is the same as going into communities with the media there and affording everyone an opportunity, not just to make a submission, but to hear the submissions made by others. That's the point I want to begin with because hopefully, this isn't the end of the debate on Bill 57, it's merely a part of it and the public participation part has yet to come.

Secondly, I thought it passing strange that the member for Northumberland thought that the current minister was qualified -- and I'm not suggesting he isn't, by any stretch -- but this member thought the new environment minister was qualified to be the minister. Why? Because he's a lawyer and an engineer, and that was in response to me commenting on the credentials that my colleague the member for Riverdale has -- and I won't repeat them again, they're in today's Hansard, I've said them already -- but all of the credentials that she has. The answer to that from the government member for Northumberland was that the new minister obviously is the right person for the job because he's a lawyer and an engineer.

Now, that may come from the fact that it's someone, I'm told by his own colleagues, who insists on being called "Doctor." Maybe titles mean a heck of a lot more than experience and knowledge, or if you don't have a title, you don't count in his world, but I would suggest that's symbolic of a lot of the problems we have in terms of whom this government listens to, why they listen to them and why they refuse to listen to other people.

I want to comment on the name of this bill because there's quite a trend being developed with this government. This is Bill 57 and it's called An Act to improve the Efficiency of the Environmental Approvals Process and Certain Other Matters. The evidence that we've heard so far from expert environmentalists in the field is that this does anything but improve protection. Yet that's what this government talks about and basically -- and I'm going to show other examples -- they've got a pattern that every time -- and I've used the term before. It's Orwellian doublespeak when they're taking something away, rather than first of all admitting it, or secondly, at least stating, "This is an act to" and then be very frank about it, they go way to the other extreme and say, "This is an act to improve...."

Bill 20, the predecessor environmental bill to this one, what's this called? This one, Bill 20, is one that's going to haunt this government. A lot of us said so at the time, and I'm convinced that at the end of the day Bill 20 will come back to haunt a lot of members, because this has to do with land-use planning.

Those of us who have sat on municipal and regional councils know that the issue of land-use planning, zoning, the whole idea of what you can do and where, is a critical component of how you determine what your community looks like. You've made major changes, and when people find out what is foisted upon them because the checks and balances aren't there any more and the people in your neighbourhoods begin to say, "How did that happen, because somebody in the NDP told me there used to be a law that prevented that and you changed it and allowed it?" I predict these government members are going to have a heck of a time explaining how that made for better government, better community and a better Ontario.

What was Bill 20 called? "An Act to promote economic growth and protect the environment by streamlining the land use planning and development system" -- they like "streamlining" too; it's like "efficiency" and "focusing" and a few other buzzwords that show up over and over again -- "through amendments related to planning, development, municipal and heritage matters." Basically, what they did was they gutted the most effective parts of land-use protection and the checks and balances, that delicate balance between wanting to ensure there's job creation and economic growth, which we all want, but in a way that protects communities, that should promote the people aspect of communities and should protect the environment. Bill 20 did exactly the opposite, and it has that same word in there, "improve." I suggest to you that once again it's the opposite.

Is there any more? Oh, yeah. We did Bill 49. As I just commented recently, this is the one that we had to force them to go out in the public with, and they've pulled back some of the parts already. They were going to make that law in June. They had to pull back parts of this law. They had to make their own amendments to fix the mistakes that were in there, which is not unusual except that this government said: "It's only housekeeping. Don't worry about it. It doesn't matter. Let it go."

We forced them out into four weeks of public hearings and they got creamed out there, because Bill 49 takes away significant rights that workers have. If you don't have a contract and the benefit of a union, all you've got is the Employment Standards Act. What do they call this? "An Act to improve the Employment Standards Act." How insulting to anybody who knows anything about the Employment Standards Act and the protection of workers.

The Deputy Speaker: I think we're discussing a different bill and I would ask that the speaker get on with the business that is in front of us.

Mr Christopherson: Speaker, I'm pointing out as part of debate on Bill 57 that the title itself is misleading, and I'm proving that point by showing other evidence that supports the argument that I'm making about the name of Bill 57. So with great respect, sir, I suggest that my comments are very directly related to the arguments I want to make about Bill 57 and what it is not.

We saw with Bill 7 the same thing. This was the one that was rammed through with no public hearings: "An Act to restore balance and stability to labour relations and to promote economic prosperity and to make consequential changes to statutes concerning labour relations." What did this do? This legalized scabs in the province, took away rights that workers have had for 50 years that they didn't talk about in the campaign, and they had the audacity to put the title in there suggesting that it's some kind of benefit. I'm saying to you that's exactly the same thing they're doing with Bill 57 when they talk about it as "An Act to improve the Efficiency of the Environment Approvals Process...." It's nothing of the sort. It's a further attack on the ability of this government -- because that's the vehicle that people have to protect the environment, the government. This is gutting and hobbling the ability of that ministry to do the job on behalf of the people of Ontario.

The government says that it's cutting red tape, it's all about just cutting red tape. When we talk about the Ministry of Environment as it relates to Bill 57 and Bill 20 and the regulation cuts that you've made under the rubric of "We've got to get government off the backs of people," what is it they're really cutting when they say, "We're just cutting red tape"? Because if that's all it were, why would anybody argue the point? If you can cut down a process and make it simpler and cut red tape, who would be opposed to that? But what is it they're really cutting?


Behind that little phrase is the fact that when they've cut red tape they've also cut and killed the successful green communities program -- that's gone. They've terminated funding for the popular blue box program. That is one of the most effective, straightforward, pragmatic means we have of dealing with waste generated in our communities. This government cut the funding to that and has left municipalities to find money, although how they're going to do that I don't know since you've cut your transfer payments to them, or we're going to see the slow deterioration and eventual elimination of the blue box program. I'd like to know how that improves the environment or the economy or our communities.

They've slashed funding to the Niagara Escarpment Commission. They've eliminated funding to the municipal household hazardous waste programs. They killed CURB, the Clean Up Rural Beaches program. They've already begun to dismantle the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights, which shouldn't be surprising since they're also dismantling the rights that workers have under their bill of rights, which is called the Employment Standards Act. This is all consistent. They've killed the province's hazardous waste reduction strategy. They don't have one; they're just going to leave us out there floundering around and wait for some crisis.

They've cut by 70% the funding to the Ontario conservation authorities. In my community of Hamilton-Wentworth the conservation authority is a leading player in the issue of the environment. They're a very responsible, credible, active, important part of our community, and they're a part of this 70% cut. We have four Tory backbenchers in our region. Where are they on this issue? Why aren't they standing on their feet defending the people of Hamilton-Wentworth and saying that it's wrong to cut the funding to the conservation authority? Either that or stand on your hind feet and say that you don't want to defend the conservation authority because you don't think it's worth surviving -- one of the two, but don't just sit there.

You've eliminated new funding for the municipal assistance program. It goes on and on.

As we talk about Bill 57 and its impact on the environment and on communities, my point in raising this is that, first of all, this government will say that cuts like this are absolutely necessary no matter what -- and I don't think people would agree with that if you told them, "It's either your environment or taking a few years longer to deal with the debt" -- but more importantly, they'll point to the tax cut. They always talk about the tax cut. It's everything. It's the side benefit that people get for all the cuts they're doing. It's going to be the job creator because it's going to put all that money in people's pockets.

We said most of that money was going to go to the very well-to-do in this province. Anybody watching this program, ask yourself, how much more money have you got now in your pocket than you had before? Bear in mind the things I've mentioned here that have been cut. Are they worth the few bucks you've got? Are you able to buy what's been lost through what this government has cut? Are you able to provide a better future for your children with the $5 or $10 or $20, if you're lucky to get that, in your paycheque? Are you able to provide these services? Can you protect the environment? Can you make sure that we've got clean water, that we've got sewage systems that work, that we keep green spaces, that we have areas where you can enjoy life?

In Hamilton over the summer, on August 15, there was a headline in the Hamilton Spectator that said, "Asthma Rate is Scary."

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): You should close down Stelco.

Mr Christopherson: Maybe the backbenchers might want to listen to this; it does involve kids and their health. "One in Five Bayfront Kids Suffer from Breathing Woes: Study." It's an article by Mark McNeil. It's the lead story in that day's paper:

"One in five children in a neighbourhood on the edge of Hamilton's Bayfront industrial area has asthma or other breathing problems -- close to double the norm, a new study has found. The Hamilton-Wentworth health department study is being viewed by residents as proof that pollution is causing or worsening respiratory problems among children in the northeast part of the city."

Some of those kids are constituents of mine and some of them are kids represented by other members of this House. Where is your concern for that? What are you doing in Bill 57 or Bill 20 and everything you've done with the environment? Where have you taken one step that helps those kids?

Another headline: "Fine Dust in Air is Deadly." These articles appeared within 48 hours of each other.

"Twenty to 25 people die in Hamilton-Wentworth each year as a result of fine-particle air pollution, says the provincial environment ministry.... Dr Dennis Corr, chief of air quality assessment of the Ministry of Environment and Energy in Hamilton, made the local mortality calculation as part of research for an air quality study being conducted in the region.... Dr Corr said the calculation is `very, very solid and based on many studies.'"

What did the Hamilton Spectator have to say about that as an editorial? I know that members here would probably recognize that the Hamilton Spectator is not necessarily known in the editorial room as a hotbed of socialism. They tend to be rather supportive of this government, much to the chagrin of many of us, but there you are. That's the free press and that's their opinion, and they certainly are entitled to it. But what do they have to say? Because the government doesn't seem to think that what we have to say is credible, and they won't listen to other environmental experts, what do some of their supporters say? It says:

"A reduction in air pollution monitoring by the province calls into question the commitment of the government to protect its citizens from pollution in the environment.

"The provincial government appears to be on a dangerous course with major cuts to environmental spending that are cause for concern in heavily industrialized Hamilton. A 30% reduction in air pollution monitoring in the area, including the closure of the East Hamilton air monitoring station, could well prove to be false economy if it has an adverse affect on public health."

You will recall that it was my colleague from Riverdale who commented when the Minister of Health was here that this is a health issue, that environmental issues are health issues.

The editorial goes on to say:

"It is less than reassuring that the ministry is making cuts in budgets and staff that could well weaken its ability to keep tabs on the situation and take action to deal with it. Although the provincial debt must be brought down with responsible spending cuts, the government is at risk of going too far when the cutbacks begin to hurt in services that help to protect public health." There's ample evidence.

On Bill 57 itself, I want to bring forward also the Canadian Environmental Law Association point about the ability to exempt from the approvals process whoever they choose. But we don't know at this point, we don't know what that's going to be. The government won't say. That's where the 1-800 number comes in. They're asking the public to go ahead and comment on what they think those regulations ought to be. Come on, Speaker. It doesn't take an environmentalist or a rocket scientist, or anybody else of any great --

Ms Churley: Or an engineer.

Mr Christopherson: -- or an engineer for that matter; thank you -- to understand that the government's hiding its real agenda behind things like this. They've done this in other pieces of legislation, and I could quote those but I don't have the time as I'm quickly running out of time. But the fact of the matter is that Bill 57 has a group like the Canadian Environmental Law Association and other experts in the field extremely concerned that this is yet another piece of attacking the environment and taking away rights and abdicating responsibilities that this government has.

We know this is a government that believes the smaller the government the better. In fact, if they could eliminate government entirely they would. While that has some appeal, when mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers think about their kids and their grandchildren and say to themselves, "Was all this worth a few bucks in tax cuts?" I don't think they would agree. I think at the end of the day the people of Ontario will reject this Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, hard right-wing ideology that just completely disregards the legitimate role that government has in protecting the citizens of this province; not just the wealthy, because they can look after themselves, they don't need you folks, but the rest of the people who have to live in this province and work day to day are worried about the future. Those are the people, and it's the majority, who need a ministry like the Ministry of Environment, and not after you've cut $200 million and fired over a third of the staff.

How can you say you're doing your job with the environment? How can any of you stand up and know that it's in the history books forever that you defended things like Bill 57? I say to you that you sold out. You sold out to your Common Sense Revolution; you sold out to the interests of those who already have, and everybody else gets the back of your hand. This is just one more piece of that evidence. Unfortunately that evidence continues to grow. We will continue, no matter how much you heckle us, to stand here and expose you and your agenda and the damage it does to ordinary working middle-class families in this province every chance we get.

The Deputy Speaker: It being 6 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 o'clock on Monday.

The House adjourned at 1801.