36th Parliament, 1st Session

L193 - Mon 26 May 1997 / Lun 26 Mai 1997

















































The House met at 1335.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): Educators and multicultural groups and concerned individuals are dismayed by the disbanding of the anti-racism branch of the Ministry of Education. The branch was at first downsized; now it has been removed altogether. This fits with the pattern for this government. The Ministry of Citizenship eliminated its Anti-Racism Secretariat as well. The anti-discrimination and equal opportunity branch of the Ministry of Education was doing important work in developing anti-hate crime initiatives and education proposals to reduce racism and sexism in the schools, and now it is gone.

Clearly, this government does not consider anti-discrimination and anti-hate crime initiatives to be important or it would not be disbanding the section of the ministry that is working on these issues. But what is equally disturbing is that one of the most important efforts of the branch appears to have been shelved. For some time now, work has been done on developing a guide for principals and teachers to use in confronting the recruiting by hate groups being done in our high schools. The guide is ready to be released, but it appears to have disappeared.

The ministry insists that the expertise of the anti-racism branch will remain within the ministry, but these individuals will be scattered; they will no longer have a focus for their work; they will no longer serve as advocates. If the government wants to send a clear message that it opposes discrimination and the activities of hate groups, let them reinstate this branch and release the work that has been done so some concrete action is taken.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Last Wednesday I went to Ridgetown in the county of Kent to confirm that the Minister of Municipal Affairs was wrong in the statements he made here in the House a couple of weeks ago.

James Brown, who delivered this statement at the meeting of many municipal councillors of the area, had this to say, and I think it makes it very clear: "I wish to address some of the claims by Mr Leach. It would appear by the statements made that he has not been informed of, or has chosen to overlook, many of the facts in this government-dictated agenda here in Kent....

"As to the understanding of the process, perhaps it is Mr Leach that should come up from the bottom, or down from the pedestal he has placed himself on as saviour of fair cities. This process he talks about is where one man comes into a community for a few weeks" -- that's Dr Meyboom -- "then makes a decision that cannot be appealed or questioned: a process that has never before been seen in Canada, or North America. It is certainly not democracy. I will refrain from using the term `Tory jackboot' even if it is closer to what is taking place here in Kent. What then do you call this process that removes my right to choose how I wish to be governed locally here in Kent? While they may not like these terms bestowed upon them, they are much more in tune with their actions."

He continues at length with many other misstatements the minister has made.

I will end with a statement made by Roy Wilkinson, deputy reeve of the town of Ridgetown, who says --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. The member for Northumberland.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Today I'd like to take a moment to congratulate Major Angus Read on his appointment as head of the Ontario Municipal Water Association.

The Ontario Municipal Water Association is comprised of elected and appointed officials who represent the municipal public water authorities in Ontario on matters related to the quality and supply of drinking water. It works to obtain uniform policies for rates, accounting and operations for all provincial and municipal water supplies.

Major Read brings a wealth of experience, strength and sincere commitment to his new role. His previous positions as first vice-president of the Ontario Municipal Water Association and as a former mayor of the town of Cobourg, when combined with 40 years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces and his current involvement with the Public Utilities Commission of Cobourg, speak to how well prepared Angus Read is for the challenges which his term of office with the Ontario Municipal Water Association will undoubtedly present. The coming year is sure to be a successful one for the association with this gentleman at the helm.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): The Liberal caucus pleads with the Minister of Education to call the School Class Sizes Act. They want you, Minister, to call my bill, Bill 110.

You have appointed four expert panels to ensure that the fundamentals of high-quality education are maintained. The social development committee wants to help you do the job right. They want to be the fifth expert panel. They want you to call Bill 110 before their committee so that they and I can travel all across Ontario to find out what the real stakeholders in education want when it comes to class sizes. They want to hear from the students; they want to hear from the teachers; they want to hear from the parents. They want to hear from all the stakeholders in education because they want to ensure that you, Minister, ensure there is a quality in class size.

Maintaining class sizes as they are now is just unacceptable. Class sizes now are too large. We on this side of the House want to ensure that when you send out your expert panel, you will be hearing from the right people. That's why we challenge you, Minister: Call Bill 110. Call the School Class Sizes Act. If you have the courage to be a true Minister of Education, call it before the people of Ontario so that you can hear from them.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Toronto Bike Week blasted off on Thursday, May 22, and continues throughout this week. There have been many activities around the city, including today's Bike to Work Day.

I joined with Jack Layton, Don River's Metro councillor, on the Danforth, where we met up with East Enders on Bikes. We proceeded on to Bloor and Yonge, where we joined with hundreds of other cyclists, including none other than the Minister of Environment himself. He was riding a pretty spiffy bike too, I must say. We all rode into Nathan Phillips Square and were treated to pancakes and coffee and the wit of CBC's Ralph Benmergui.

This is a great week to put your car away and take out the old bike. I've been cycling for years, and I highly recommend it. But please ride safely. Always be alert and obey the rules of the road. Do wear a helmet at all times.

To drivers out there: Keep an eye out at all times for cyclists, especially when making right turns and opening car doors. As someone who drives as well as cycles, I am attuned at all times to watch for bikes. But if you don't cycle yourself, you might forget. There have been some very tragic deaths in Toronto over the past few years, so I urge all drivers to be very, very careful.

Let's hear it for Bike Week in Toronto. Sometimes people on bikes are a bit late for important dates, so I take it you must have been riding your bike to work today, Mr Speaker.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): A great honour has been bestowed upon the riding of Perth. Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, will tour through the city of Stratford in my riding of Perth next month.

Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh will officially open the newly renovated Stratford Festival Theatre. This is most appropriate when we consider that our Queen's illustrious ancestor, Elizabeth I, was the patron of William Shakespeare.

This stop marks the third occasion the city of Stratford has hosted the royal couple. In 1959 the Queen and Prince Philip attended the royal command performance of As You Like It in the Festival Theatre. In June 1973 thousands of people lined the platform of the CNR station in Stratford as the royal couple passed through on their way from Kitchener to London.

This is a momentous occasion for the people of the area. The riding of Perth and the city of Stratford are truly beautiful places and stand as shining examples of what it means to live in Ontario. The royal progress will provide the world with an opportunity to see this.

I'd like to invite all members of the House to come out to the riding of Perth and share in the royal excitement in June. God save the Queen.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): When is the government of Ontario going to pay its full share of property taxes to our local municipalities? In some communities such as mine, where one third of the properties are tax-exempt, a large number of properties -- those owned by the province, the federal government and government-funded agencies and organizations -- are not paying their fair share of local taxes.

For years the government's grant-in-lieu payments have been greatly deficient in the grants paid to local municipalities. Bill 106 was a perfect opportunity for the government to rectify this injustice. Not only did the government not do so, they also failed to support our Liberal amendment that would at least have kept the current payments in lieu of taxes in place.

The province should be paying its fair share of tax to our local municipalities. Instead, more tax exemptions are added for airport lands and conservation lands. The province will continue to pay no local taxes, and the greatest fear those affected municipalities have is that the payments in lieu will be cancelled as well.

When will the downloading and the dumping of services and costs on our local municipalities by the province stop? Property taxpayers beware. The government will be funding its tax cut on your backs.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): "Sault Ste Marie residents may pay more to ride the bus, swim in the municipal pool and take trash to the dump if city council gives the go-ahead Monday." That's tonight.

"The increased user fees are recommended by city staff to help generate revenue for the municipality in the wake of reduced provincial government funding." We shouldn't be surprised. This is out of the Saturday edition of the Sault Star, an article written by Linda Richardson.

This government's agenda of tax breaks for the rich, with municipal tax increases and increased user fees for the middle class, is the order of the day. But it doesn't end there. The next shoe to fall will be the contracting out or the privatizing of these services and, ultimately, those jobs.

Tonight at city council, members of CUPE in my community will be appealing to that august body not to contract out their jobs. They know, as I do, that the only job creation program of this government is to take their jobs and turn them into two or three jobs; turn jobs that are well-paying, secure, long-term jobs into part-time, minimum-wage, no-benefits opportunities for people. That's no way to deal with communities, that's no way to treat people and it's no way to deliver services in this province, which is so rich and has such an excellent tradition of doing the right thing.

Speaker, will you appeal to the government with me to stop this terrible --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.



Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to announce that May has been proclaimed Huntington Disease Awareness Month by the Huntington Society of Canada.

Huntington's disease is a hereditary brain disorder which touches the life of one in 1,000 Canadians. Symptoms, which can include involuntary jerking, slurred speech and mental and emotional difficulties, usually begin between the ages of 30 and 45 and gradually worsen over the 10- to 25-year course of the disease, leading to death.

The Huntington Society is dedicated to the fight against Huntington disease through its three main programs of education, individual/family services and research. These goals are supported in communities throughout Canada by volunteer chapters and area representatives. In Ontario there are 18 volunteer chapters and area representatives of the society as well as three professionally staffed resource centres and eight support workers to help HD families.

The theme for Huntington Disease Awareness Month is "What is a champion?" The society's public awareness spokespersons, Olympic skier Edi Podivinsky and Linda, a person with Huntington disease, represent the champions in the fight against Huntington disease, those coping with the illness and supporting the cause.

I would ask each of the members to join me today in showing their support for the fight against Huntington disease.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Please join me in welcoming the 11th group of pages to serve in the 36th Parliament: Katherine Ball from Lake Nipigon; Lauren Consky from St Catharines-Brock; Kerry Dark from York East; Erin de Vreez from London Centre; Theresa Enright from Scarborough East; Katherine Fyfe from Middlesex; Marc-André Gougeon from Cochrane South; Mary Ann Guiao from Mississauga North; Andrew Hamer from Durham Centre; Meghan Martin from Huron; Nicholas Martin from Fort York; Paul McGrath from Wilson Heights; Dalton James McGuinty Jr from Ottawa South --


The Speaker: You could be jumping to conclusions, so just hang on.

Samir Murji from Scarborough Centre; Olayinka Owolabi from Brampton North; Tina Saxon from Welland-Thorold; Timothy Sayle from Simcoe East; Sean Simpson from Kitchener-Wilmot; Christie Thomson from Essex South; and Tobin Waterworth from Hastings-Peterborough. Please join me in welcoming them.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Minister, I want to talk to you about an issue which you have talked about for some time now. That, of course, is the issue of truck safety in Ontario. I want to quote back to you some of the things that you've said during the past several months.

Back in January of this year you said if safety was not your business, you would be out of business. "We are committed. I'm telling you, I'm going to get the job done." In February of this year you said, "Wheels separating from trucks is a very serious problem, one that shows no signs of improving and one that can't wait any longer." The following day you said, "We can't continue to accept this. It is a very serious problem."

It has now been almost two and a half years since Angela Worona was killed on Highway 401 by a flying truck tire. In March of this year Target '97 made its report to you and provided you with a number of recommendations.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question, please.

Mr McGuinty: Minister, can we count on you to introduce truck safety legislation that will be law in this province before the summer?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I want to answer the honourable member that you can certainly count on this government's commitment to truck safety. We have been saying all along that truck safety is a priority.

I believe it was our intent, and the best of intent, to introduce the wheel separation bill sooner, because we felt we could get it through. Through some unfortunate situations that developed in the Legislature, we weren't able to do that, but I have every intention of introducing the comprehensive safety bill in the very near future.

Mr McGuinty: I will take that answer to mean that you will not have as law in this province before the summer, before the time when hundreds of thousands of Ontario families are going to take to our highways -- that you will not have in place truck safety legislation.

What we've done to facilitate things for you, you will now be well aware, is that we are today introducing a bill. We're calling it the Worona, Tyrrell, Campbell and Jessiman Truck Safety Act. That's going to be introduced this afternoon and it's going to offer you the chance to support this bill in place of any other legislation you may be considering. That bill surely will be subject to some improvements; it could go to committee. I am offering you here and now to deal with it in the most expeditious manner possible, because I feel we have an obligation to do whatever we reasonably can to make sure that our highways in Ontario are safe before the summer begins. Understanding that, will you support the bill we are going to be introducing this afternoon?

Hon Mr Palladini: Certainly the Legislature will make that decision on whether or not your bill gets supported. But I want to reinforce our commitment on truck safety, and I believe our record speaks for itself. When you take a look at the amount of vehicles we have stopped over the course of the year -- 37,000 -- that is nearly double the amount your party ever did when it was in government. When you take a look at what we have implemented in terms of the Worona -- we've implemented 25 of the recommendations and some of the other recommendations are partially implemented. We are acting in the best interests of Ontarians, and we're going to prove that within the next few weeks.

I want to thank the honourable member for all the support he said he would give our bill. We're going to put you to the test very shortly. Hopefully, you won't change your mind and will support our bill as a whole.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): This answer is an answer of delay and stall, with incomplete responses. It was you, Minister, who said: "I ain't going away. The bad operators, they're going away." Rambo Palladini. "We will not stop until Ontario's roads are the safest in North America. If safety is not your business, you'll be out of business. We are committed. I'm telling you, I'm going to get the job done in the next 90 days."

That was 120-some-odd days ago. Tell me, what has changed? What has happened since February when you came out with your Bill 125? Was it a flawed bill? What circumstances led the Premier of Ontario to cut the legs right out from under you and leave you dangling in the wind on this issue? What has changed? Will you deal with our bill or bring in meaningful truck safety legislation to ensure that the roads of this province are safer for the summer driving seasons?

Hon Mr Palladini: The honourable member would want you to believe it was this government that has failed in introduction of that wheel separation bill. I believe the people of Ontario know where the fault lies. The fault lies with you; the fault lies with the NDP.

It was our intent to introduce this as part of our comprehensive safety bill. I would like to tell the honourable member that as far as the wheel separation bill is concerned, it will be reintroduced as part of the comprehensive safety bill as it was introduced: no changes. Absolute liability will remain as part of the comprehensive bill. We are going to do what we said we would do and we're going to continue to make sure that safety on Ontario roads is achieved.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I have a question about gambling in the province in Ontario, particularly in so far as it relates to our young people.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Ottawa and there was a story on the news. They were interviewing a 13-year-old boy, complete with bubble gum, baseball cap and running shoes. He was telling the interviewer how on a regular basis he would visit the racetrack to gamble. I also learned -- in fact, this morning we had a staffer visit a laundromat nearby, and there he picked up, from a vending machine, lottery tickets. That machine doesn't discriminate between an eight-year-old and an 38-year-old when it comes to the purchase of lottery tickets.

Minister, do you think it's right to make money from gambling off the backs of our young people in Ontario?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): In short, through Bill 75 we're trying to buttress up the provisions to make sure we don't have minors gambling. If you look at Bill 75, the penalties for anyone who is underage gambling with respect to the VLs, for example, are immense. We've doubled the penalties, in fact. An individual can get severe penalties, and corporations as well can have a penalty of up to $250,000. I certainly agree that it's not good to have minors gambling.

Mr McGuinty: I want to drive this point home to make sure you understand its seriousness. Today in Ontario there are 13-year-olds who are visiting racetracks and gambling. There are 13-year-olds who are buying lottery tickets from unsupervised lottery vending machines in Ontario. The question is very simple: Do you think that's right? If you don't, what are you going to do to make sure it stops happening?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: First of all, it's my understanding that the Ontario Racing Commission's policy is that minors are not permitted to gamble. Second, I can only reiterate that under Bill 75 we have increased the penalties for anyone gambling underage. If the Leader of the Opposition recollects, Bill 75 makes it an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to have access to the VLs. The fines are up to $50,000 for an individual to allow this to happen, and corporate fines are up to $250,000.

Mr McGuinty: This year your government is going to make $1.5 billion in profits from gambling. Because your government is relying so much on gambling for its revenues, people in this province are getting hurt. I'm sure you are familiar with the story that played recently in the Ottawa Citizen that said there are people in this province who are sitting in front of gambling machines and actually soiling themselves because they cannot escape the grip of the powerful addiction of gambling.

What we're doing right now, whether you recognize it or not, is that we are targeting young people in Ontario. They are now being allowed, without penalty, to attend at racetracks and to gamble, and they're allowed to plop twonies and loonies into vending machines. You're telling me that you're not going to do anything about it. Is that right, or are you going to act immediately to ensure that this can't happen?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I guess there are two parts to that. First of all, with respect to people who have gambling problems, we'll be increasing the amount that goes towards treatment and education and research into these areas, up to about $9 million. When we looked at the three-day roving casinos, which the Peterson government brought in -- I'm sure the Liberals are familiar with them -- they addressed zero money towards problem gambling. At least the NDP brought in about $1 million towards that when they brought in the casinos.

Under Bill 75, to sell a lottery product to anyone under the age of 18 is an offence. There are huge monetary penalties for doing this. Under previous governments of opposition parties, the most that would happen to someone who sold a ticket to a minor --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: -- was that they would lose their authorization as a ticket agent. When you bring in stronger penalties it's going to help us enforce this against selling lottery products to minors.


M. Gilles Pouliot (Lac Nipigon): Aujourd'hui, ma question s'adresse au ministre responsable des Affaires municipales. Within a few hours after routine proceedings today, we shall be voting on market value assessment, on Bill 106. Presently there are some 3,800,000 units across the province being reassessed. It's the largest undertaking ever in North America.

Minister, you've conducted some impact studies, because people will be severely and negatively impacted at the residential level and especially at the commercial level. Because we shall be voting in a few hours, why don't you release the impact studies that you have commissioned?

The people and the members of this House have the right to know what those impact studies demonstrate. Why don't you come clean, Minister, so that we will know exactly what we will be voting on in a few hours' time?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): In response to the member of the third party, it's called the Ontario fair assessment system and I think everybody would agree that it's a system that has to be put in place, that the system we currently have in Ontario is in shambles and the opposition parties, when they were in power, refused to do anything about it. So I think everybody would recognize that we have to deal with the outdated, outmoded assessment system in Ontario. This government is doing that.

I can tell you that it is going to bring fairness back into the system and those people who have been paying more than their fair share for many, many years are finally going to get justice. That's something that, for some reason, neither party across the floor had the courage to do when they were in power.

Mr Pouliot: Minister, it doesn't work any more. With respect, your old-style of pointing fingers at both the Liberals and the New Democratic Party -- you've been the government for nearly two years now. You're the government, get it? People are asking questions. Get it again, Minister? Their municipal taxes are about to skyrocket. Those reeves and councils and mayors are under a state of seige, and yet you must have something to hide.

What about honesty? Try it. It may just work. You've proposed more than 30 amendments; it's clear that you don't know what you're doing. But the revolution is on track and that light at the end of the tunnel is that of the Common Sense Revolution which will devastate people.

Why don't you release, as a last chance, as a last resort, the impact study so that people can put a few dollars aside in their pocket to face the bill that you will directly send them within a year's time? When will you come clean, Minister? You have an opportunity to do it. Do it now.

Hon Mr Leach: To the member from the third party, he's absolutely right. We are the government and we are the government that's taking action, action that you didn't have the courage to do. We're bringing in a fair assessment process that will untangle just a terrible situation that is in place right now.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Hey, Al, remember this in the election? Remember this, Al? No market value.

Hon Mr Leach: We're not bringing in market value as the member for Oakwood indicates. We said that we wouldn't bring in market value. We're not bringing in market value. We're bringing in the Ontario fair assessment system, which is considerably different, and if the member for Oakwood knew what he was talking about, he would --

Mr Colle: "No market value," you said in the election.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Oakwood, I ask that you come to order, please. Thank you.

Hon Mr Leach: To the member from Nipigin, Nipigon, Nipi-something: The assessment system that we are bringing in will resolve the problems that have faced this province for the last 40 years.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to one of the most beleaguered ministers of this House, Minister Leach, and it's on the same topic. What the member for Nipigon was saying is, you have impact studies that you have done and you are not releasing them. That was his question. Twice he asked you, and you don't answer them. I don't understand why you don't answer simple questions.

My supplementary, again on the same topic, is this: You say you are a friend of small business, yet you are about to whack them with a tax increase. Small business is going to be whacked by this fairness bill with a 20% or so increase. Do you think the best way to inform small business people of this gift you are about to give them is to send the tax bill in the mail? Is that the way you propose to let them know about this, Minister?

Hon Mr Leach: About the only thing the member opposite said that was correct is that it was a fairness bill. It is a fairness bill and it's going to be fair not only to people who live in the residential areas but to people who live in apartments, who are charged four times the amount of tax now as somebody in a single-family dwelling.

It's going to be fair to small businesses. Fairness is something that small business hasn't seen in the last decade.

We are going to bring in a system that will ensure that those individuals and those property owners and those business owners who have been paying more than their fair share for decades are finally going to get justice. Justice is something that this government is going to ensure takes place when we bring in the Ontario fair assessment system.



Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. Today marks the start of National Disabilities Access Week and we already have seen how your government has shamefully dragged its heels on the introduction of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. But now you are weakening the already tenuous accessibility that people with disabilities have to post-secondary education.

The changes to the Ontario student assistance program are making it harder for all part-time students to continue their studies, but many students with disabilities will also have an even more difficult time. These students with disabilities must now carry 40% of a full course load in order to be eligible for assistance under OSAP. That's up from 20% under the previous rules. You've said before that this is just a simple matter of harmonization with the federal rules, but you had some choices that you could make through this process of discussion and harmonization with the federal government. I'd like to know why you increased that requirement at all. Why not leave it at 20% to ensure that students with disabilities have access, despite the limitations that their disabilities may place on them?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I would think that for the member opposite this would be a rather easy question to answer, because what we have done as a government is put into place the agreement that your government made with the federal government as it relates to all part-time students in Ontario. So I'm surprised that you're surprised. This is your agreement, not ours.

Ms Lankin: In fact, Minister, you're wrong. The aspect with respect to part-time students -- and this is one of the reasons why that agreement had never been signed, why Ontario is the last province to enter into the agreement -- came as a complete surprise to people. People from the Council of Ontario Universities were shocked and they've asked you to delay that.

You must know that your answer that part-time students, for example, can apply to the Canada student loan program just isn't good enough. What you haven't told people when you've given that answer is that students under that program can only receive a maximum of $4,000. They can't carry an outstanding balance more than $4,000, so if they borrowed $2,000 last year and $2,000 this year, they have to pay it back before they can borrow for their third year of education. Interest starts to accrue the day the loan is negotiated, not six months after graduation like under OSAP. This is a double burden that you're placing on part-time students and particularly students with disabilities.

The Council of Ontario Universities has asked you to delay implementing these changes for part-time students for one year. They want to do consultation and impact studies. Will you do that for part-time students in general and students with disabilities in particular?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Again, I'm a little surprised by this approach from the member opposite. This is an agreement that was made to coordinate the student assistance in Ontario with the federal plan that has come down. We've been doing that coordination since 1984, and despite what the member opposite has said, let's be clear: This agreement was negotiated by your government.

As far as the disabled in Ontario are concerned, I can tell you that every ministry in this government has a stellar record in protecting the rights and the futures of the people who are disabled in this province, including the Ministry of Education. As a matter of fact, as you may remember, in the budget we just started a new program for those who have learning disabilities in the post-secondary sector. This is a brand-new program, $30 million to help those people.

We will continue to look for places to invest to make sure that the disabled in Ontario have every opportunity to succeed and to excel in education and everywhere else in our society. That's the record of this government.

Ms Lankin: Minister, that is nonsense. You have choices that you could make with respect to the treatment of part-time students. You already have a differentiation between the 60% rule and the 40% rule. What I'm saying to you is that's still too high a threshold for part-time students, in particular students with disabilities. You should return it to the 20%. The Ontario Council of Universities is asking you to delay implementation for a year to look at an impact study here. They're worried about what this means.

Your reference to the $30 million in the budget for new programs, that's for development of programming. That is not money to students. We're talking about students with disabilities and their access to post-secondary education. Your government made a commitment in the Common Sense Revolution that you would do nothing to hurt persons with disabilities. This change hurts persons with disabilities. Will you delay implementation for one year? Do the impact studies. Do the right thing and ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Hon Mr Snobelen: In all honesty, the member opposite understands, I hope, that we are coordinating our programs with the federal programs. We have done that since 1984 with all different governments. Your government negotiated this particular approach with the federal government. We have already delayed implementation by one year. Because of difficulties we had last year, it was impossible to implement it. This announcement is made with all sorts of notification to the university community, some three years' worth, and consultations with the university community in Ontario and other universities across Canada. So I am surprised that the member opposite would rise on this question today.

This government has an enviable record in helping people with disabilities. We want to make sure that we are of every assistance. I will continue to talk to the universities in Ontario about making sure that disadvantaged and disabled people in Ontario have access to excellent, quality programs in our universities and colleges. That's an objective of this government and we will meet it. But this is an agreement your government put together.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a question for the minister for seniors. I'd like to ask you to tell this House how many months you think there are in a year.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): I think the member is a graduate of a post-secondary institution in this province. He knows the answer to that quite well.

Mr Kennedy: Well, seniors in this province are confirmed in their belief that they can't get a straight answer from the minister.

We're asking you about the drug ripoff, the amount of money you're taking from seniors this year. On July 15 last year you sent a notification out that said they would pay a deductible of $100 that would last for one year. Instead, you have given them an eight-and-a-half-month year, and you've taken $30 million from seniors' limited incomes.

Try to answer this question straightforwardly as possible, because seniors are depending on you to look after their interests. Will you advocate, will you get your government to refund to the seniors the $30 million in excess fees that your government ripped off from them by charging them on April 1 of this year instead of July 15? Minister, will you stand in your place and do that for us today for seniors?

Hon Mr Jackson: This government will continue to advocate for seniors by providing additional drugs to the drug plan, in which for years both the Liberals and the NDP reduced the total number of drugs available to seniors. Seniors were paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars for individual drugs on the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary.

I appreciate the Treasurer, the Premier and this entire government freeing up the additional dollars to ensure that we can put 400 new and expanded drugs on the Ontario drug benefit plan in this province for seniors and for persons with low incomes and disabilities in this province. It's a record we're very proud of.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the Minister of Environment. Minister, you have an enormous environmental problem at the Pickering nuclear plant. Over the last 25 years, Hydro has been dumping more than 1,000 tonnes of toxic copper and zinc into Lake Ontario.

Normally, you would expect the environment ministry to spring into action upon hearing such news. But I have information that your ministry knew about this for at least a year. My question is, why did you not immediately inform the public and take action at once, once you became aware of this monumental, gross abuse of the environment?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): Actually, my ministry, as I found out recently, was aware of this in 1989. For the last five years when your government was in place, the ministry was aware of this particular problem which exists out at Pickering.

We are concerned about this matter. As you know, Ontario Hydro is reviewing the emissions occurring at Pickering station with a view to replacing the condenser tubing, which is copper at the present time, which is of course present in many of our homes where water goes through. We're concerned about the loading of Lake Ontario with regard to this. But I want to assure you and every member of the public that the levels of copper and zinc in the cooling water discharged are 100 times lower than the Ontario drinking water quality standards.


Ms Churley: I think that's a lousy answer. We've got information in front of us that these are toxic, persistent chemicals going into our water, which is well above an acceptable level.

In response to what you said about this being known since 1989, I've looked into this. It's clear that there was some information at that time; certainly our government didn't know anything about it.


Ms Churley: Certainly not. It's very clear from the quotes I have here from a memo of April 1996. It says, "We're comfortably down the list for total copper releases." It goes on to say, "Pickering is probably third in Canada in releases to water." But then it says, "This would not be apparent in the Environment Canada database and unlikely to receive any media play."

Minister, it is very clear that there are certain people at Hydro who have been very carefully covering up this loading. That is very clear. I would like to ask you today what you are going to do about it.

Hon Mr Sterling: First of all, I want to make it clear to the people of Ontario that copper is not deemed a toxic pollutant in water. In fact, in terms of the commercial fishery, for instance, they add copper and zinc to supplement their diet. It's needed by those particular habitats.

As I mentioned before, Ontario Hydro is reviewing their emissions with regard to these plants, is looking at what is being discharged and is going to come forward within a month with their findings on that. I think it's only prudent for me to wait for that particular report and then take appropriate action at that time.


Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. As part of the 1997 Ontario budget, Finance Minister Eves announced on May 6 the creation of a 10-year, $3-billion research and development fund. This fund, which will create a synergy with the public sector, encouraging them to partner with our top-notch universities and other research institutions, was very well received in my riding of Halton Centre. Minister, would you please outline for this House the objectives of the research and development fund?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to say that one of the major objectives of the new R&D challenge fund is to put R&D on a very fast track period for the next 10 years. The challenge fund represents a total of $3 billion of research and development money for Ontario universities over this period. In fact, seven new tax measures in support of research and development and leading-edge innovation in Ontario were included in the budget. The budget R&D priority is going to result in the promotion of business and university partnerships, which are going to lead to more long-term economic growth and jobs.

I'm happy to say that I will be conducting an investment seminar to Boston tomorrow on the biotechnology industry, which wants to go down and spread the good word and say that Ontario indeed is open for R&D business in Ontario.

Mr Young: As a supplementary, I'd like to ask the minister to outline --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Welland-Thorold, you're out of order. Please come to order.

Interjection: He's not in his seat.

The Speaker: The member from Mississauga is right. You're also not in your seat.

Mr Young: As a supplementary, I'd like to ask the minister to outline the overall benefits of this exciting project.

Hon Mr Saunderson: I'd like to give a short list of the benefits, if I could.

First of all, what we are going to do with this R&D encouragement is to keep our world-class research individuals in Ontario. That's very, very important. The second thing is that we will now be on the leading edge of various research projects in comparison to the rest of the world. Third, we're going to create state-of-the-art equipment and facilities in our province.

I think it's important to note that Ontario is the largest R&D participant in Canada, spending about 52% of all R&D expenditures, and the Ontario government currently supports research and development through the centres of excellence, major tax incentives, the R&D superallowance and the Ontario innovation tax credit. This government is doing a great deal so that our research and development will be paramount in the world.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. It has to do with the bill we're dealing with this afternoon, the property tax bill.

A close examination of this bill shows that the definition of "market value" is identical to the definition of "current value." The reason I raise this is because you've said they are different, but your own act says this about current value: "current value" means the amount of money land would realize "if sold at arm's length by a willing seller to a willing buyer." Your definition of market value is exactly the same thing, Minister. The market value is the amount that land may be expected to realize if sold by a willing seller to a willing buyer. In other words, current value and market value, according to your own laws, are identical. If they're identical, defined identically, isn't it reasonable that the public should expect that in fact they are identical, Minister?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'll refer the question to the Management Board chairman.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): The reason why I apparently am standing in this place at the present time is that this particular bill comes under the responsibility of the Minister of Finance. It's very disappointing that the official opposition doesn't understand that this is not a Ministry of Municipal Affairs bill; it's a Ministry of Finance bill. It's also disappointing to know that the official opposition doesn't understand that it's not market value assessment involved, that it's not actual value assessment involved, but it indeed is the Ontario fair assessment system.

The Ontario fair assessment system uses a component of actual value assessment but then it tailors that; it adds a number of other criteria. It adds the criteria of regular updates, three-year rolling average, property tax rates for farmers and woodlot owners that are considerably reduced, and it adds protection for low-income seniors and the disabled.

Mr Phillips: It's rather embarrassing that the government doesn't understand that according to your own laws, the definition of market value is identical to the definition of current value. The reason I raise all of this is because we are being asked to approval a bill in about an hour's time. I would go on to say I can understand why they have tried to weasel this, because Al Leach said, when the election was going on, "My party and I will never support the imposition of market value.

We have a law before us today; the definition of current value is identical to the definition of market value. I would say to the Minister again, can you tell the public why the definition of actual value and the definition of current value is identical in your law?


Hon David Johnson: I'll say again that the assessment system that's going to be introduced is neither market value nor assessment value.

The member opposite misses the point. The point is that across the province of Ontario we have had different assessment systems. Indeed, here in Metropolitan Toronto there's an assessment system that was based on market value from the 1940s -- considerably out of date, unfair, various residential property owners paying way more than they should pay, seniors paying more than they should pay, businesses paying more than they should pay.

What the Ministry of Finance is bringing in and we will be voting on this afternoon is a system which will be fair to all the municipal taxpayers across Ontario. It will allow the municipalities to phase it in. It will protect the low-income elderly, it will protect the disabled --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.

Hon David Johnson: -- and it's what the municipalities have been asking for for years and years.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the Minister of Environment. People living along the St Clair River from Sarnia down to Windsor are outraged by this government's plans to allow the discharge into the river of 3.4 billion litres of waste water from fertilizer manufacturing. The residents of the Walpole Island First Nation are among the most directly affected and they have opposed this discharge every step of the way. Now we learn that your cabinet minister has given approval to ICI, a multinational chemical corporation, to dump this waste water directly into the river.

Will you tell the people who live near the St Clair River why you are allowing the discharge of billions of litres of fertilizer waste into their water? Minister, please don't tell them that it's good for them, just like you told people that copper in their water is good for them to drink.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): Of course we're concerned with the people in the area of the ICI reservoir which is holding this waste. ICI, the company that was responsible for this particular waste, went through a long environmental process in order to deal with this particular waste. There was a hearing and there was an appeal. In both cases, the hearing and the appeal board upheld the plan to discharge this waste, as is being done, and there was an appeal to cabinet. Cabinet upheld the board which made the decision on the technical data, and I think that cabinet made the right decision in upholding the board.

Ms Churley: I don't think that the people who live near the St Clair River and the people who live on Walpole Island, in Windsor and around Lake Ontario are going to be satisfied with that answer. They're very worried about this.

Minister, I believe from both your answers today that your disdain for environmental protection is, if anything, getting worse. You've slashed all this money, over $200 million, from your ministry. You don't even have enough enforcement officers left any more to tell us what kind of damage is being done.

I'm going to ask you again: Will you review this situation, will you find another way to deal with these billions of tons of fertilizer waste and give some assurances to the people who have to drink this water that you will find another way to deal with this process?

Hon Mr Sterling: My ministry officials are there testing the water as it is being discharged. This process is going to take some four and a half years to complete. It's unfortunate that this situation arose. It's unfortunate that the waste is there. But if I have a disdain for anything, my disdain is for not meeting the problem, dealing with the problem and disposing of the problem. That's what this government is about. We have gone through the proper environmental process. The engineers, the scientists have said, "This is the way to do it," and I prefer to follow their advice than a politician's advice.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member for Riverdale kept referring to ICI releasing water. ICI no longer owns the plant; it is now owned by Terra International. I would like to have the member for Riverdale check her facts.

Ms Churley: How much is it dumping now?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Riverdale.


The Speaker: I agree it wasn't a point of order.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. I was in my riding during constituency week and had many inquiries about funding for training. I'm told that the federal government has offered the province $860 per unemployed worker in Ontario, while the province of Quebec will receive $1,060 per worker. I'd like to know if you've heard anything from the federal government about treating Ontario fairly when it comes to the allocation of training dollars.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Mr Speaker, normally it's procedure here to say, "Minister," and then the minister rises, but we'll just dispense with that formality now if that's all right with you.

The question the member asks is a serious question for the unemployed people in Ontario. We have written to the federal government on several occasions and had conversations about redressing this very serious situation. It is true that right now federally there's about $860 available for an unemployed person for training in Ontario, while there's about $1,060 available for a person who's unemployed to receive training in the province of Quebec.

It's simply unfair to the unemployed people in Ontario. We have been unwilling to enter into an agreement with the federal government until the federal government is willing to give the same opportunities to the unemployed people of Ontario that they've given to the unemployed in other provinces. It's something we've been firm about and something we'll continue to be firm about in negotiating with the federal government.

Mr Grimmett: It seems that the federal Liberal government is targeting the provinces for their budget reductions, instead of attacking duplication and overlap right in Ottawa. I understand that if we passed on Ottawa's cuts to our post-secondary students, they would have suffered a 34% reduction per student in Ontario. Could you comment on this situation and what the government has done to address this inequity?


Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm surprised that at this point in time there's not more quiet from the Liberal benches across, because the federal Liberal government has produced cuts that reduce the amount available for university students by about $1,400 per student, for college students by about $900 per student. While that has been going on, the province has increased the amount of money available through OSAP by $150 million and we've recently announced the success of the student opportunity trust fund: half a billion dollars for the students of the future in Ontario.

We understand the need to reduce spending by government. I think people right across Ontario understand that. But while the federal Liberals have reduced spending by 40% to Ontario's health care and education, they have only cut 2% from their own bureaucracy. We think that's wrong. We think their priorities are wrong and it's time to address that.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Point of order, Mr Speaker: ICI sold the plant in 1996, but they're the ones who are still responsible for the cleanup. I thought the member for Lambton might like to know that.



Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Last week you advised the public, through the press, that you will be bringing forward your own school bus safety bill before the end of June. You say that you will double the existing levels of fines on the first offence, up to $2,000, and provide for possible jail terms on second and third offences.

Your staff briefed me just last week and indicated that no first offence should be higher than $400 because it would be a disincentive to the police. You're playing the same game here as you did with the truck safety legislation. Why are you giving the impression to the public that offenders will be paying $2,000 on a first offence when you have no intention of ticketing more than $400?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I want to say to the member that I commended him for introducing his private member's bill, and I supported it. But I have difficulty understanding something. Members of his party, including the honourable member, have encouraged this government that the fines are too low and that we must increase the fines; that's the first thing I heard when I was appointed Minister of Transportation. Now the member is saying the fines are too high.

Mr Hoy: No, I didn't.

Hon Mr Palladini: Indirectly, the member is saying the fines are not going to be implemented by the police because they're too high. That's really what you're saying.

We have every intention of making sure that bus safety in Ontario is not going to be compromised. We are putting together strategies that will help ensure we get to that point. Just as I said to the honourable member last week, it is not acceptable to this government for one child to lose its life, not five in the last five years. We are going to do everything we can --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary, the member for Essex-Kent.

Mr Hoy: It was your staff, Minister, who said that fines higher than $400 would be a disincentive to police. It was not my comment.

The public wants a bill strong enough that there will be no second and third offences. Your bill does not include vehicle liability, and we know from drivers and police that it's next to impossible to identify the driver and therefore get a conviction. It doesn't matter if you raise the fine levels to $10,000. If you can't get the conviction, you can't get a fine or a jail term.

Whatever you do, I will continue to push for Bill 78. I don't believe you will even pass your own bill to impose jail terms. I am asking you directly: Will you give this House your guarantee today that your bill imposing automatic jail sentences will be passed by next month, as you promised?

Hon Mr Palladini: It's very disappointing that sometimes you can't do what you really would like to do, and how difficult it is to implement certain things that possibly are going to make a better contribution to safety. But I want to say to the member that we have every intention of making sure our kids are protected. We will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. Unfortunately, it takes time.

I have also said that fines alone are not going to do it. I believe we have to have some education implemented and certainly other remedies that are going to be implemented with this government, because we are committed to safety. But we are going to do what it takes to make sure our roads are safe.

I agree with the honourable member. One life is too many. It's not right. It should not happen. We will work with the member to make sure that safety is not compromised on our highways.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. It's nice to see you back in the province. Let me bring you up to date on an issue of some pressing concern.

There is a meat-packing plant in Etobicoke, Principal Marques, where about 300 workers could lose their jobs because the plant may be sold to a new owner who simply wants to close the plant down. There is another option: another buyer who would keep the plant open with the help of the workers and save those jobs. As it happens, the fate of those workers is in the hands of the federal Liberal government because the deal involves transfer of a cheese quota, which the federal government must approve.

The workers, however, are concerned that the Liberal concern for their jobs may be empty election rhetoric that will evaporate after June 2. What action will you take to demand that the Liberal government protect the jobs of these 300 workers in Etobicoke?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to say to the member for Sault Ste Marie that we are never happy to hear of a plant changing or closing or whatever, but things do change in the business community and from time to time changes have to be made. They're usually made for economic reasons; nobody likes to do these things. I'm quite convinced that this is part of the ups and downs, but I'm happy to say that most of the things we've been hearing about are very much part of the ups.

I'd like, if I could, to note a few changes that have happened in this province recently. AlliedSignal Aerospace Canada in Etobicoke is now going to do renovations to create 75 direct engineering jobs, very high-skilled jobs, and there will be 270 new manufacturing jobs created over the life of the project out there. Across the way they should know --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr Martin: These workers need a government willing to support them and work with them to save their jobs. If this government had been in power a few years ago, my community of Sault Ste Marie could never have saved the jobs at Algoma Steel or Provincial Papers. It was an NDP government that got involved and helped the workers save their jobs. Now it's the workers at Principal Marques who are looking to the Ontario government and to the federal Liberals. Are you willing to see those 300 jobs vanish while your government's target of creating 725,000 jobs seems farther and farther from reality? What will you do to help these workers?

Hon Mr Saunderson: I don't recall that the member for Sault Ste Marie's government created a great deal of new job creation in this province. As a matter of fact, after they had been in power there were 10,000 fewer people employed in this province than when they started.

Since we've been elected there have been 140,000 net new jobs created; in the last two months reporting, there have been 60,000 net new jobs. What we're doing in this province is creating the right climate. We are letting the business community know they can come here with lots of confidence so they will not suffer from surprises to their five-year plans. We have cut the income tax rate for individuals, as an example. For this member over there to stand up -- I think we should just turn the clock back five years to see what they were doing during this period of time.

One last comment, if I may, Mr Speaker. The economist for the Royal Bank said --

The Speaker: Thank you. New question.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I rise in the House today with a question for the minister without portfolio with responsibility for privatization regarding the privatization adviser's registry.

I read an article in the newspaper recently which questioned the purpose of the privatization adviser's registry. Could the minister please explain for me and the constituents of Scarborough Centre the function of the registry?

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): The adviser's registry provides an opportunity whereby individuals can register with us in terms of assistance they may want to provide the privatization secretariat as it relates to potential privatization initiatives.

Those who are interested in providing advice to us in assessing the options and the relative merits of the privatization options for each candidate are indeed encouraged to register with the privatization secretariat so they can have a chance to participate in the advisory roles and be aware of information as it becomes available from the secretariat.

You should be aware that these advisory roles will continue to be awarded on the basis of a fully competitive and open process, and the registry is just one part of that process.

Mr Newman: The minister mentioned that there will be a competitive process for engaging advisers to review the options related to the candidates referred to the office of privatization. Has the competitive process of engaging advisers to review the candidates actually begun?

Hon Mr Sampson: The requests for proposals were in fact issued last week as it relates to two of the candidates I announced earlier this month. Those requests for proposals, or RFPs as they're called in the advisory world, relate to Ortech and the Province of Ontario Savings Office, and we intend to request from individuals, companies who are interested in helping us assess the options as it relates to various privatization options -- we want their help; we need their help.

As I said in our framework rollout, part of the important process is to make sure we get the expert advice from the people who have helped governments deal with the costs of government bureaucracy and deal with assessing whether government businesses -- and there are numerous government businesses -- are more willing and more able to take advantage of private sector experience and expertise. So, as I said, the format has --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. New question.



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of the Environment. Minister, later today we're going to have final reading of Bill 107, the bill that you introduced. The bill has extensive public hearings. Consistently through the public hearings, group after group after group came forward and expressed great concern about the possibility of municipalities selling their water and sewer assets to the private sector.

As a result of the massive downloading, as a result of the huge tax increases that municipalities may face, the only real assets that the private sector is interested in are their water and sewer assets. As a result of ownership of those assets, it also then completely allows the private sector to set the water rates and sewer rates. We introduced an amendment at committee that your government members turned down that would prohibit municipalities from selling the water and sewer assets.

You, Minister, have said it's a bad idea. If you think it's such a bad idea, will you support an amendment that stops municipalities from selling their water and sewer assets to the private sector?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): As you know, the bill is now in third reading; it has passed the amendment stage. We took our particular stance because there was no evidence that municipalities were going to do this. There's no evidence to mistrust municipalities to do this. They have managed our water and sewage services over the past 100 years with the trust of the public, with the interest of the public at heart. I don't think that a provincial government should bear down on municipalities which have demonstrated in the past a responsibility to govern, a responsibility to be accountable to their electors and hold the sewer and water services in the public hands.

Mr Agostino: Simply, that's not good enough. I can't understand why you continue to allow the possibility. The reason it can occur, Minister, is that first of all, under Bill 26, you took away the option of referendum. The municipalities previous to that would have had to hold a public referendum to sell their water assets. We're not talking about a service that people have a choice in. We are clearly talking about an essential necessity of life here, Minister, and you through Bill 107 and your lack of action and your lack of guts in making the proper changes are opening the door to the private sector to own the water services in this province.

We have seen the experience in Britain. We have seen the disaster. We have seen what has happened in that country. Minister, again, why will you not do the right thing? Why do you continue to insist it's a bad idea but refuse to act and simply allow the possibility of homeowners, senior citizens, the disabled and Ontarians to be at the mercy of the private sector as a result of your downloading and as a result of your actions that will force municipalities to sell this essential service?

Do the right thing --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Sterling: I don't think a provincial government should react to any kind of notions that are put out into the public sphere that something in the future is going to happen, that something is going to happen in the future which hasn't happened over the last 100 years, that something is going to happen with regard to municipal government, that municipal councillors are not going to have any responsibility to the people any more.

I guess there's a big difference between my party and the two opposition parties. We trust the electorate. We trust the municipal governments to do the right thing. We believe that trust should be maintained. Every time there's an outrageous argument put forward, as the member opposite has, that we should react -- we don't react like that. We are acting in a logical, competent manner to what the situation is.


The Speaker: Member for Hamilton East, come to order. Minister.

Hon Mr Sterling: I believe that this government is putting forward in Bill 107 a very competent package, a package which in fact just returns to the remaining 25% of the municipalities their sewage and water services which they have already paid for. This is a logical step.


Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 106, An Act respecting the financing of local government / Projet de loi 106, Loi concernant le financement des administrations locales.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Call in the members; it will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1455 to 1500.

The Speaker: All those in favour, please stand one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Baird, John R.

Jackson, Cameron

Sampson, Rob

Bassett, Isabel

Johnson, Bert

Saunderson, William

Beaubien, Marcel

Johnson, David

Sheehan, Frank

Boushy, Dave

Jordan, W. Leo

Smith, Bruce

Brown, Jim

Kells, Morley

Snobelen, John

Carroll, Jack

Klees, Frank

Spina, Joseph

Chudleigh, Ted

Leach, Al

Sterling, Norman W.

Clement, Tony

Leadston, Gary L.

Stewart, R. Gary

Danford, Harry

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tascona, Joseph N.

Doyle, Ed

McLean, Allan K.

Tilson, David

Ecker, Janet

Munro, Julia

Tsubouchi, David H.

Flaherty, Jim

Murdoch, Bill

Turnbull, David

Fox, Gary

Mushinski, Marilyn

Vankoughnet, Bill

Froese, Tom

Newman, Dan

Villeneuve, Noble

Galt, Doug

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Grimmett, Bill

Palladini, Al

Witmer, Elizabeth

Guzzo, Garry J.

Parker, John L.

Wood, Bob

Hardeman, Ernie

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Young, Terence H.

Harnick, Charles

Ross, Lillian


Hastings, John

Runciman, Robert W.


The Speaker: All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Kennedy, Gerard

Morin, Gilles E.

Bartolucci, Rick

Kormos, Peter

North, Peter

Bradley, James J.

Kwinter, Monte

Patten, Richard

Churley, Marilyn

Lankin, Frances

Phillips, Gerry

Colle, Mike

Laughren, Floyd

Pouliot, Gilles

Conway, Sean G.

Marchese, Rosario

Pupatello, Sandra

Duncan, Dwight

Martin, Tony

Ramsay, David

Gerretsen, John

McGuinty, Dalton

Sergio, Mario

Gravelle, Michael

McLeod, Lyn

Silipo, Tony

Hoy, Pat

Miclash, Frank


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 58; the nays are 29.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.



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 to it.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I have a petition to the Parliament of Ontario. I'd just like to read it for the record.

"Whereas there is much well-documented evidence that the social and economic disadvantages of gambling far outweigh any apparent benefits;

"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, declare our opposition to the expansion of casinos and the installation of electronic gambling devices. Therefore, we petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to delay the implementation of Bill 75 and request that the province hold a binding referendum (in conjunction with the 1997 municipal elections) to determine the will of the people regarding the expansion of casinos and the installation of electronic gambling devices in Ontario."

It's signed by more than 15 constituents of Simcoe Centre.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): This is a petition against fingerprinting by Mike Harris.

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the Premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, has proposed the fingerprinting of all Ontario citizens; and

"Whereas fingerprinting Ontarians was never promised in the Common Sense Revolution, or in his election campaign; and

"Whereas universal fingerprinting of Ontario citizens is a direct violation of basic civil rights and fundamental rights of privacy; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government is intervening and intruding into all aspects of daily life, from megacities, user fees, rent controls, and market value taxes, which he never promised in the election campaign;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to oppose Mike Harris's plan to fingerprint Ontario citizens, and to respect their privacy and to stop creating a mega-government that does not respect the basic freedom and individuality of the citizens of Ontario."

I affix my fingerprint to this petition.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I have a petition from Yvonne Korince from OPSEU Local 253 and Keppel-Sarawak school. It's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to restructure completely the provincial-municipal relationship without having consulted the people of Ontario; and

"This restructuring proposes to download to municipalities the cost of transportation and such critical social services as welfare and long-term care for the elderly and the chronically ill; and

"Removes school boards' ability to tax, eliminating any effective local control over schools and school programs; and

"The government's actions fail to guarantee existing levels of funding and failure to recognize the unequal ability of local communities to bear the cost of these new burdens, thus producing inequitable access to essential services; and

"Whereas the government's goal is to privatize necessary support services; and

"Whereas the government's lack of meaningful public consultation and disregard for public response pose a serious threat to democracy;

"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, because we care about the quality of life in our province and the wellbeing of our children, neighbours and communities, register a vote of non-confidence to the government in the province of Ontario."


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

"To the government of Ontario:

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has brought forth Bill 96, legislation which will effectively kill rent control in the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris Conservative campaign literature during the York South by-election stated that rent control will continue; and

"Whereas tenant groups, students and seniors have pointed out that this legislation will hurt those who can least afford it, as it will cause higher rents across most markets in Ontario; and

"Whereas this Conservative proposal will reduce the stock of affordable housing and encourage landlords to harass long-term residents, pushing them to move out so new tenants paying higher rents can be brought in; and

"Whereas this Conservative proposal will make it easier for residents to be evicted from retirement care homes; and

"Whereas the Liberal caucus continues to believe that all tenants, and particularly the vulnerable in our society who live on fixed incomes, deserve the assurance of a maximum rent cap;

"We, the undersigned, demand that the Mike Harris Conservative government scrap its proposal to abandon and eliminate rent control and introduce legislation which will protect tenants in the province of Ontario."

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



Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:

"Whereas we, the undersigned" -- and I must point out there are 500 names on this petition -- "support our OPP and especially Sergeant Dean in their testimony and action taken at the Ipperwash park;

"We believe all of the OPP acted properly in their line of duty."


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is signed by people from all over Ontario. It's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the private member's bill introduced by Rick Bartolucci, MPP for Sudbury, which promotes smaller class sizes passed second reading; and

"Whereas this bill, called Bill 110, was referred to the social development committee; and

"Whereas we, the stakeholders in education, want the government committee to hear what we have to say about smaller class sizes; and

"Whereas we want to hear what the government committee has to say regarding smaller class sizes; and

"Whereas all people in Ontario have a right to speak to the social development committee about smaller class sizes;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to support the recommendation that the social development committee travel across Ontario to find out what the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Ontario are saying about smaller class sizes and Bill 110, the smaller class sizes act."

Of course, I affix my signature to the petition, as I am in full agreement with it.


Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Health Services Restructuring Commission appointed by the health minister has recommended closure of the London and St Thomas psychiatric hospitals; and

"Whereas psychiatric patients are being displaced without adequate support systems; and

"Whereas article 34(1) of the Mental Health Act states, `A patient shall be discharged from a psychiatric facility when he is no longer in need of the observation, care and treatment provided therein'; and

"Whereas article 34(2) of the Mental Health Act states, `Subsection (1) does not authorize the discharge into the community of a patient who is subject to detention otherwise under this act';

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to retain psychiatric facilities separate from schedule 1 hospitals and managed by the Ministry of Health to ensure that no person will go untreated or will be placed at risk or cause another to be placed at risk."

I affix my signature thereto.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Windsor-Essex county was the first community to undergo hospital restructuring; and

"Whereas the community supported the recommendations of the Win-Win report based on a funding model that included the expansion of community-based care; and

"Whereas recent reports estimate that Windsor-Essex hospital expenditure is underfunded by approximately $122 per person; and

"Whereas this represents the lowest funding per capita for hospital services of any community in Ontario with a population of over 200,000; and

"Whereas hospitals across the province have been forced to further reduce expenditures 18%; and

"Whereas these cuts have forced hospitals to eliminate emergency services in the west end of Windsor and other desperately needed services; and

"Whereas the minister acknowledged that additional funding was necessary in high-growth areas;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to call on the Minister of Health to provide the appropriate level of health care funding to hospitals in Windsor-Essex which would allow Windsor Regional Hospital to provide urgent care services for the west-end community and to restore equitable health care funding across Windsor and Essex county."

I add my signature.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition brought forward by PUSH Northwest, People United for Self-Help, a group that had a press conference the week before last, trying to push for an Ontarians with Disabilities Act to be brought forward. I was proud to be part of that. I read this petition on behalf of Morgan Atkinson, Sandy Solamon and Marilyn Warf.

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario made a pre-election promise to pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act if elected; and

"Whereas the resolution introduced by Marion Boyd, MPP, on May 16, 1996, calling on the government to keep its election promise to pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act was unanimously supported; and

"Whereas no actions have been taken by the government in the direction of creating or passing an Ontarians with Disabilities Act; and

"Whereas persons with a disability in Ontario are not allowed equal rights or equal citizenship due to lack of access in areas including but not restricted to communication, transportation, housing, employment, education, and the cost of disability is all but ignored by the Ontario government;

"We, the undersigned, demand that Mike Harris and the Conservative government take measures to ensure the introduction and passage of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which is in accordance with the needs of persons with a disability in Ontario."

I have about 600 signatures and there are more to come.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a very timely petition here, especially in light of the downloading by the government of the social housing portfolio to local municipalities.

"A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario government has clearly indicated that it `wants to get out of the housing business'; and

"Whereas the Ontario government is reviewing the legal contracts and budgets of every co-op housing project in the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has announced plans to make huge cuts to co-op and non-profit housing funding; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to replace affordable housing with subsidies to private landlords; and

"Whereas co-op housing is a proven success in providing affordable homes owned and managed by the people who live in them; and

"Whereas the actions of the Ontario government threaten to destroy stable, well-maintained communities which have been built over the last quarter of a century and the investment all Ontarians have made in this type of affordable social housing;

"We request that the Ontario government sit down with the co-op housing sector to negotiate a deal which will ensure the long-term financial viability of housing co-ops and the continuance of rent-geared-to-income assistance upon which thousands of co-op members depend and which will promote greater responsibility for administration by the co-op housing sector and less interference by the government in the day-to-day operations of housing co-ops."

I have signed the petition.


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

"To the government of Ontario:

"Whereas non-instructional staff of boards of education provide an important and essential service to schools in Ontario;

"Whereas the school system functions best, in the interest of its students, when all of its employees work in harmony and coordination and with the kind of expertise that comes with continuity, coordination and experience;

"Whereas Bill 104 encourages the privatization and outsourcing of non-instructional positions and the resulting loss of jobs, cutting of wages and salaries, and removal of employment benefits for people with comparatively moderate incomes;

"Whereas dedicated educational employees are having their lives severely disrupted so that the Conservative government of Mike Harris can finance an income tax cut that benefits the wealthiest people the most;

"We, the undersigned, request that Bill 104 be withdrawn and any future legislation not call for the outsourcing and privatization of educational jobs."

I affix my signature to this petition, as I'm in full agreement with it.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition sent to me by Diane Thompson with the Castlegreen cooperative in Thunder Bay, the model for all cooperatives in Canada, in fact. They are very concerned about the downloading of non-profit housing on to the municipalities. It reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the government has announced their intention to download non-profit cooperative and other forms of public housing on to municipalities; and

"Whereas all Ontarians have a basic right to fair and affordable shelter; and

"Whereas the government's downloading will result in municipalities being forced to privatize public housing, which will cause financial hardship and insecurity for the residents of these housing communities; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario has an obligation to the tenants of these housing communities in Thunder Bay and across the province;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to disallow the downloading of public housing to municipalities without a full guarantee that such actions will not result in the loss or privatization of one single public housing unit in our community."

I am very proud to sign this petition.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have another petition here. It's actually signed on a number of different cards by people like Vivian Hodge and C.A. Pearce and Joe Gallivan, and it's addressed to Michael D. Harris, Premier of Ontario, and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"The citizens of Ontario and your Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation agree that this province has one of the great library systems in the world. This system has been built by citizens like me in every Ontario community serving on local library boards with the decision-making power to promote, protect and create libraries that respond to our own communities.

"I request that you guarantee in your new legislation citizen-majority library boards and free access to all library information resources, the foundation of lifelong education."

I have about 15 of these cards that I'd like to file right now.




Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on general government and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 109, An Act to amend the Public Libraries Act to put authority, responsibility and accountability for providing and effectively managing local library services at the local level / Projet de loi 109, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les bibliothèques publiques de façon à situer à l'échelon local les pouvoirs, la responsabilité et l'obligation de rendre compte concernant la fourniture et la gestion efficace des services locaux de bibliothèque.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed. Shall Bill 109 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.



Mr Duncan moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 133, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act to improve truck safety / Projet de loi 133, Loi modifiant le Code de la route de manière à améliorer la sécurité des camions.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): This bill acts on the government's recommendations of Target '97, a government task force that was approved by the government, so I call on the government for swift passage to this bill, which will help ensure that Ontario's roads are safer for this coming summer.



Mr Galt, on behalf of Mr Sterling, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 107, An Act to enact the Municipal Water and Sewage Transfer Act, 1997 and to amend other Acts with respect to water and sewage / Projet de loi 107, Loi visant à édicter la Loi de 1997 sur le transfert des installations d'eau et d'égout aux municipalités et modifiant d'autres lois en ce qui a trait à l'eau et aux eaux d'égout.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): This government is committed to finding the most efficient way to run our water and sewage systems, to ensure that Ontario's water and sewage infrastructure continues --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the member. I just wanted to remind him that there was unanimous consent in the House for the time to be split as follows: Following the parliamentary assistant's introductory comments, the remaining time would be split between the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, with the bell to begin at five to 6, the vote to take place at 6 o'clock.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): I need clarification. The agreement is that following the remarks by the parliamentary assistant the remaining time will be split between the opposition parties until five minutes to 6 for the vote. Are you deeming there be a recorded division required?

Ms Lankin: Yes.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed. The member for Northumberland.

Mr Galt: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, and it won't be necessary to set the clock back. We'll have lots of time.

This government is committed to finding the most efficient way to run our water and sewage systems, to ensure that Ontario's water and sewage infrastructure continues to deliver the high- quality services its people expect.

Today I am pleased to introduce for third reading the Water and Sewage Services Improvement Act. The act, known as Bill 107, received its first reading in January and has since been through second reading and the standing committee on resources development.

This new act has been developed in response to recommendations in December of last year by David Crombie's Who Does What panel. Its amendments will both clarify the role of government and improve accountability. It will give Ontario municipalities full title to provincially owned water and sewage treatment plants serving their communities and it will transfer responsibility to municipalities for septic system inspections and approvals.

It's worth noting that the legislation has been amended so that municipal responsibility for septic systems will not take effect before January 1, 1998. This will indeed give municipalities the time they need to gear up for these changes. That means that the installers and inspectors will be able to prepare for new, tougher guidelines and training requirements over the winter, which is the off season for septic systems installations.

This bill also introduces provisions to protect the taxpayers' best interests and investment and encourage continued public control of water and sewage works. Currently, there are no such measures to encourage continued public ownership. In the unlikely event that a municipality proposes to sell part or all of its waterworks to the private sector, it will be required under this legislation to repay all provincial capital grants received since 1978. Again, there is currently no such protection.

Also, once the act is in effect municipalities, which already own three quarters of the treatment facilities in Ontario, will be the sole level of government that holds title to water and sewage plants in Ontario. As a result, the province will no longer be in the ambiguous and sometimes conflicting position of being the operator, regulator, owner and funder of these essential services. It will be able to focus on its most important role, that of setting and enforcing tough performance standards.

It is also important to note that all plants transferred to municipalities will be in compliance with their existing certificates of approval. Furthermore, this bill will not affect operating contracts between municipalities and the Ontario Clean Water Agency.

As I have said earlier, under this legislation municipalities will now become formally responsible for septic system inspections and approvals. We intend to ensure that public health and the environment are protected through tough rules for septic systems installation and their operation. Those who will do this work will have to meet stringent competency requirements that will be set through provincial regulation.


We will use the transition period between now and January, when the Water and Sewage Services Improvement Act will take effect, to make sure that municipalities have the mechanisms in place to deliver this local service. It will also provide sufficient time for training so that inspectors will be able to meet the new higher standards of professionalism that we are putting in place.

Higher-quality work will mean better protection for the environment, which is of course the most important goal of this act. I am confident that the Water and Sewage Services Improvement Act meets this goal and at the same time improves service delivery to the people of Ontario.

Through the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act, we will continue to protect public health and the environment. We will do this by setting and enforcing sound environmental and health standards for the operation of water and sewage treatment plants as well as for septic system installation and operation. In addition, the government is exploring ways to help smaller municipalities that have specific needs or challenges to meet Ontario's environmental protection and public health standards. My colleague the Minister of Finance has committed some $200 million from this year's budget to help achieve this.

In closing, I would like to thank the members of the resources development committee and its Chair, Brenda Elliott, as well as those individuals and organizations which made the time to appear before the committee to submit their thoughts. Their comments were indeed informative and most helpful in formulating amendments for Bill 107 following second reading and developing it for third reading.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): In responding to my colleague from Northumberland, first of all, in his speech he didn't talk about the government's inadequate record on the overall environment and how this fits into that. He didn't talk about the necessity of protecting the selloff of these valuable assets from municipalities to the private sector. We've seen that happen in other jurisdictions. He didn't talk about the fact that Bill 107 is part of the government's giant megacity announcements that occurred in January, nor did he mention the fact that this is one of the pieces of legislation that unfortunately has survived the subsequent reaction to those announcements.

It's the view of the official opposition that this bill is seriously flawed for a variety of reasons. First, you did not prohibit municipalities from selling off their water assets. The second point is that given all of the other responsibilities you've downloaded on to municipalities, you didn't note the high cost of assuming the debt and maintaining and repairing the water and sewage treatment plants. Municipalities may be forced to sell these plants to the highest bidder. Finally, the member did not mention that their government has cut one third of the staff and one third of the budget from the Ministry of Environment, so even if those plants are in compliance with their certificates at the time they're disposed of to the municipality, there's absolutely no guarantee that this will continue on in the future.

In summation, while there are many points of contention in the bill, we think those four are the most important and we welcome the opportunity to hear the government address them directly.

Ms Lankin: I think the thing that troubles me the most with respect to this piece of legislation is the intent which we believe is behind the government's legislation, the intent to allow municipalities to sell off the supply and control and monitoring and all the safety checks with respect to water and sewer management in the province.

I can think of no aspect of our environmental life that is more important than the water that we drink, the air that we breathe, the contaminations, through the way in which water is treated and sewer is treated, which can get into both of those things. As we look for the maintenance of a healthy community, a healthy province, we must be most concerned with the quality of our province's drinking water.

We only have to look at jurisdictions which have moved to the privatization of water resources to see the disaster that has occurred, and I want to believe that every member of this Legislature would do everything they could to prohibit that from occurring here in Ontario. The most simple thing would be to put that kind of guarantee in the legislation, but the government has refused to do that.

While they say that this bill is not about privatization, their refusal to put that kind of protection in the legislation leaves one with the only possible answer to them that if you're not prepared to put protection in to stop it, you must be prepared to let it go forward. I think we all must worry about that; we all must be concerned. At a time of the downloading of costs to municipalities, which are going to be forced to look at selling off assets, this is just a gold mine sitting there waiting for them, and I urge the government to reconsider that aspect.

Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I support this bill. After 20 years of experience in municipal politics, I see a time when we can transfer the responsibility to the municipalities to be more cost-effective and do a better job of handling the procedure. For example, with septic approvals, I think it's a one-window effect where we can have a municipality have a person qualified and there will be proper training for this person to handle the septic approvals along with the building approvals and the plumbing approvals that have to be done. That way we can have someone who is affected follow up and follow the needs of what has to be done at the time of building.

The other thing is with the water, I think it's very important that municipalities should be making the decisions as to where they want effective water lines and how they're installed, and they have a better indication of where they're going with it to make it more effective for the people of the community. On that account, I would like to say that I put my full support behind this bill for the purpose of the betterment of the community.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): It was very interesting listening to the last speaker, because he and I are from the same part of Ontario and he makes it sound as if this bill just talks about who can install or who controls the inspection of septic systems. I may agree with him. There may be certain situations in certain municipalities where the expertise that a local building inspector has may very well also be in a position to inspect the septic tank system, and that can be done by one person, no problem at all. But that isn't what this bill is about. What this bill is about is it allows municipalities to sell off their systems.

It's very interesting. The Minister of Environment refuses to put a section in the act that clearly states that a municipality cannot sell a municipal service. The minister says, "Municipalities are telling us they won't do it anyway." That's not the point. The point is we want a protection, we want a guarantee that municipalities will not be able to do that. The mere fact that you're not willing to put that kind of guarantee in the legislation can only lead people to one conclusion: there will be certain situations and certain circumstances in which municipalities will be selling off their water plants. That will be to the detriment, in my opinion, of the people of Ontario.

The other thing that's very interesting is that these transfers of the 25% of the systems that are still owned by the province are not negotiable. Municipalities have to take them whether they like it or not. You've got to remember that in most of these situations these plants have been built, where the province completely funded them, in situations where the local municipalities simply could never have afforded to build those kinds of systems with their own resources. In other words, we're basically talking about smaller systems in municipalities that can least afford to buy the systems and so they are most likely to be privatized as soon as possible. That's the real situation we're dealing with in this bill.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Northumberland.


Mr Galt: As I listen to the various members responding, particularly from the opposition benches, they're developing a pseudo-enemy; they're out there trying to find something to fight when in fact there is no enemy out there, but they're managing to create one.

They often refer to the British system and they talk about privatizing when in fact their governments had an opportunity to do something to ensure that these plants wouldn't be privatized but didn't do anything. We come along with Bill 107 and we are doing something. We're putting in place that all grants since 1978 must be returned. That's a pretty big deterrent, particularly if that grant amounted to some 85% of the actual plant. I think that is a real deterrent and those plants won't be privatized.

I can assure the members opposite that we looked at the British system. We saw what happened, that it ended up being privatized wholesale. Let me tell you that the step the previous government took to move some 25% of the plants here in Ontario out to OCWA was the first step to massive privatization. That's where it was headed through an organization like OCWA, very simply one more step.

What we're doing is taking the step to prevent that from happening. It's all going to the municipalities, and then it's in the hands of the government that is closest to the people.

I appreciate the comments of the member for Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings about the one-window approach to handling building and building lots and homes, particularly in the country. That's really what this was all about, to streamline and to ensure that those people installing and inspecting were properly trained. As a matter of fact, the amendments we brought in ensure that there has to be a trained installer onsite when they're actually installing a septic tank.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I rise to address Bill 107, what I see as probably more flawed for what it doesn't contain than what it actually does contain. When you look at Bill 107 in isolation, it seems harmless. All the bill itself does is simply transfer ownership of the other 25% to the municipalities and allow some other provisions for septic tanks. On its own the bill, when you look at it in isolation, doesn't seem that bad.

The reality is that you can't look at this bill simply in isolation. You have to look at this bill with the full picture of what has happened in the past two years since this government has taken office. You have to look at this bill and what happened through Bill 26. Previous to the introduction of Bill 26 by this government, there was a provision in legislation that forced municipalities to hold public referendums if they were considering selling any of their water or sewer services. Previous to this government bringing in Bill 26, the taxpayers had some protection.

The Tory government, the great believers in referendums, the great believers in public input -- if you look at the Common Sense Revolution, it keeps talking about referendums, it talks about the taxpayers and the impact and so on -- this is the same government that through Bill 26 took away that one tool municipalities had.

I find it so ironic that you run on a question of public referendums for everything. If you look, tax increases, referendums; balanced budget, referendums; on and on. The Preston Mannings of the provincial government here keep talking about referendums, and then through Bill 26 you took that provision away.

You then followed with the most massive dumping and downloading in the history of this province. Not only did you take away that one tool taxpayers had, public referendums, on this particular issue; you then turned around and downloaded on to municipalities like no government in the history of this province ever has. You've put municipalities in a position they have never faced in their history before. You've put municipalities in a position where they're going to be forced to look at 20%, 30% and 40% tax increases as a result of your dumping.

You look at the big picture and you look at Bill 26, what you did there, you look at the dumping, and then you question why the opposition raises the spectre of private ownership of water and sewer services. It is very clear: because you have put municipalities in a position where their only real asset of value to the private sector is water and sewer services.

Nobody is going to want to buy a transit system that loses money. What are they going to charge, $10 or $15 a ride so they can make money? You won't have any riders. Who is going to take over the social services system? Who is going to want to take over a health department? No one in the private sector. But there will be a lineup miles long if you put water and sewer services up for sale. It is an essential service; everyone must use the service. It is a monopoly. Very clearly it is the only asset municipalities can use to leverage and sell against the massive tax increases you're going to force them into.

When my colleagues across the floor question why it has never happened and why previous governments didn't act, it is very simple: because previous governments, including the Tory government of Bill Davis and so on, never ever brought that type of massive downloading on to municipalities, and the protection was always there through public referendums. You took both of those options away. You very clearly took away the possibility that taxpayers have some control over whether they want the private sector or the government to control water and sewer.

We saw the experience in Great Britain. We saw the disaster. That started innocently enough as well. The Margaret Thatchers of this world thought it was wonderful: better service, competition, all those wonderful buzzwords you use when you talk about privatizing services. But we are talking about an essential service here; we're not talking about something people can choose to do without. We are talking about something every single citizen in Ontario is going to need every single day, every single hour of the day.

You are opening the door to this being turned over to the private sector. You have refused to bring in legislation along with Bill 107 that will prohibit municipalities. I find it ironic that the minister himself says, "I do not think any municipality would be foolish enough to privatize, because I do not think that's where the general public is at on those kinds of assets." Very clearly the minister believes it's a bad idea. However, the same minister refuses to take action that would prohibit it.

All it would have taken through the public hearings and the amendment process was one very simple amendment to the legislation, an amendment that would have prohibited municipalities from selling their water and sewer assets to the private sector. It's very simple -- end of debate, end of discussion. It would have made it very difficult for anyone to oppose this bill.

Every single group that came forward to public hearings -- which were frankly a sham, because you didn't listen -- including your business friends, including the private sector, people involved in this business, said, "We don't think it's in the best interests of the taxpayers to privatize water and sewer services." But you ignored every single group that came to the public hearings that told you to amend the legislation. You chose not to do that, because obviously the lobby, the business interests, your corporate friends, want this opportunity.

One can only imagine how much money can be made by the private sector if you allow water and sewer to be privatized. We saw what happened in Great Britain. People say, "It can't happen here." Why can it not happen here? You have nothing in legislation to prohibit it from happening here. We saw massive increases in water and sewer rates. We saw massive increases in bad water, contaminated water, and illness as a result of that water. The experience was an absolute disaster and everything you have done here has allowed the possibility for that same disaster to be repeated here in Ontario. I cannot imagine a government that would be irresponsible enough to allow that to happen and simply leave it on good faith, to hope that a municipality doesn't do that. I just cannot imagine why you would not have taken the steps that every single group that came to the public hearings wanted you to take, and that was to prohibit this.


If it is such a bad idea, and every single member of the committee -- what's also interesting is that through all of the public hearings, all of the debate at committee level, not one Conservative member said it was a good idea to privatize water and sewer, not one member on the government side of the House. But not one member had the guts to support opposition amendments that would prohibit that, because the whiz kids in the Premier's office were pulling their strings. They said, "You can't do that; the marching orders are this and to hell with the public interest," because the private interest is more important to this government than the public interest.

If that was not the case, you would have taken the steps to eliminate that possibility. Why would you leave it open? Why would you take that gamble? Why would you take that risk? The biggest joke in all of this is the provision you've put in there. You said the protection we have is that if municipalities sell the assets -- and let's remember, when you're talking about selling the assets of water and sewer services, you're also talking about losing control of the rates, and that is the key in all of this. They said the protection is there. The protection is that all of the grants that have been paid to that municipality to build those services since the mid-1970s have to be paid back; no interest on it, but they have to pay it back.

That's a joke because there's so much money to be made that the private sector will simply put that into the cost. If you have given a municipality a $50-million grant to build a facility over the years, simply the cost of selling that facility to the private sector will be added to by $50 million. And you know what? The private sector will pay that, because as we saw from the British example, there's money to be made hand over fist if you're willing to exploit the public and put the public at the mercy of the private sector.

You can't look at this legislation in isolation from this government's lack of commitment to the environment. Since this government has taken office it has continued, by every single step it has taken, to put environmental protection on the back burner. You have cut the ministry budget by $121 million. You have cut $10 million out of next year's budget. You have cut by 30% the staff of your ministry. When it comes to monitoring environmental impacts across Ontario, you have cut monitoring stations by 39%. We have 13 communities today in Ontario without air monitoring stations. Odour and dust complaints have been reduced to nuisance complaints by your government.

Enforcement and prosecutions are an absolute joke. Since your government has taken office, we have had a massive decrease in the number of charges laid to environmental polluters in this province and we have had a massive decrease in the number of prosecutions. Is it because all of a sudden the private sector have become wonderful corporate citizens and no longer pollute the air and the water in this province, or is it because you don't have the staff to enforce that any more? Is it because you no longer have the inspectors? Is it because you don't have the monitoring stations? Very clearly, this government likes to talk the talk when it comes to environmental protection but it has not been able to walk the walk.

A clear example: A few days ago the Minister of Environment was in Hamilton announcing standards for PM10, which is a dust particle that causes approximately 25 deaths a year in my own community and hundreds of deaths across Ontario. The government has now brought in a standard for that. They've said you can't exceed the standard, but they have not brought in one mechanism for monitoring those standards. They have not brought in one single new enforcement officer to help those standards.

They've brought standards in but there's no mechanism enforcing them. It's like putting a speed limit on a highway and saying: "Here's the speed limit for this road, but you know what? We have taken the OPP officers off that road and we have taken the radar mechanism off that road. There's a speed limit there but we have no way of enforcing it." That's exactly what is going to happen here if water and sewer services are turned over to the private sector. You're going to lose control --

The Acting Speaker: Could I ask the member for Hamilton East to take his seat just for a second. Could you stop the clock, please. I'd like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today the Honourable Dr Denzil L. Douglas, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis. Please join me in welcoming our guest. Welcome.

Thank you, member for Hamilton East. You may continue.

Mr Agostino: I add my welcome as well.

As I said earlier, your lack of commitment to the environment leads us to mistrust greatly what you're doing here with this bill today. You have absolutely no commitment to environmental protection in this province. You have absolutely no commitment to environmental standards and your track record has said that. You're allowing the possibility of the privatization of water and sewer services. You're allowing the possibility of decisions being made on water rates across Ontario to be decided not by local councils in the public interest but by the private sector.

Decisions are then to be made in a boardroom somewhere on Bay Street or Wall Street and decisions are to be made on what you charge for drinking water based on the bottom line and based on the will of the investors in that particular private corporation. That takes over the public interest. There is something fundamentally wrong in government when you bring in legislation that allows the private interest to override the public interest. We have seen the experiences.

I talked about the British example. Let me tell you what happened in case government members are not quite aware of what happened when the British brainwave decided that they were going to privatize water services there. They had a 600% increase in the outbreaks of dysentery illnesses as a result of contaminated water. Hepatitis A increased by 200%. Average residential rates went from $96 a year to $460 a year. This was the great British experience that you are opening the door to today by allowing this piece of legislation to go through the way it is.

Let me tell you what some of the speakers said, because some of the members were not at the committee; the members who were at the committee obviously didn't listen or pay any attention to the individuals who came forward and spoke, because if you had listened to any of the groups, it was unanimous. It was something everybody agreed on. That was so ironic. Every single group, as I said earlier, suggested that it was a bad idea to allow the possibility of private ownership of water and services -- every single group. But you didn't listen to them. So let me remind you of some of the things they said.

From the executive director of the Ontario Municipal Water Association, Don Black: "We believe the future of Ontario's water is in jeopardy. The government is opening the floodgate to the irreversible deterioration of public waterworks in Ontario."

The Canadian Environmental Law Association: "It is the conclusion of the Canadian Environmental Law Association and Great Lakes United that Bill 107 is fundamentally flawed and is unsupportable in principle and in practice.

CUPE's submission: "CUPE represents thousands of employees in the water industry throughout Ontario. Our members work as technical and clerical workers in dozens of water and sewage treatment plants throughout Ontario. As workers, we fear" what will happen "as a result of privatization. As ratepayers, we fear" what will happen as a result of "the increased costs of water and the decreased quality resulting from privatization."

In poll after poll -- and you like polls. You ran the whole election on polls. You hit all the hot buttons. You went after welfare because the polls told you it was a good idea. You went after employment equity because the polls told you it was a good idea. You like pushing those hot buttons. You like governing by opinion polls. I wish in this case you would listen, because opinion polls have told us time after time that up to 85% of taxpayers in Ontario are opposed to the privatization of water.

Why don't you do what is right, why don't you do what is honourable, why don't you do what is in the public interest today? That is, vote against this bill and reject this flawed piece of legislation so we're not haunted and have to look back years from now at the British experience and ask: "Why didn't we learn from that? Why did we allow ourselves to get caught in such a situation that has caused so must damage to the people of Ontario whom we represent?"

In closing, I ask the government members to have the courage to do what is in the best interests of your taxpayers. By voting in favour of this bill today, you're going to say, "We agree to privatizing water in Ontario." By voting in favour of this bill, you're telling your constituents that the Tory government believes that the private sector can have control of what we pay for water services; that the private sector can determine whether senior citizens on a fixed income can afford to continue to have water running into their home; that Wall Street or Bay Street will set our water rates.

If you support this bill, you're telling your constituents that you think it's okay and acceptable for the private sector to own the water services in Ontario. I think that is wrong, I think that is disgraceful, and I would ask the government members to have the courage today to stand up on behalf of the people they represent, say no to this bill and protect the public interest and not the private interest, for a change.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I want to spend a few moments on Bill 107, which is grotesquely named the Water and Sewage Services Improvement Act. I say "grotesquely" because at no point during the hearings did government members ever indicate how this would improve water and sewage services.

I'm also somewhat puzzled that the parliamentary assistant, the member for Northumberland, is not here for the debate this afternoon. I find that very strange, because he attended the committee hearings and listened to what people had to say. I am somewhat taken aback that he isn't here.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I don't think it's appropriate to comment on the absence of a member from the House.

Mr Laughren: I don't care what you think is appropriate. The fact is that the member for Northumberland is not here this afternoon, and he should be, to take part in this debate. You can take your precious opinion and put it where the sun doesn't shine, because it's got nothing to do with --

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Member for Nickel Belt, you are one of the oldest pros in the House. We just don't refer to someone when they're not in the House. I think you know that.

Mr Duncan: A point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't believe we have a quorum.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there a quorum?

Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Nickel Belt.

Mr Laughren: Speaker, I would wish to withdraw my earlier comment about the sun shining -- or not, whichever the case may be -- but I must say I was provoked and I was taken aback.

Ms Lankin: Mr Galt was in a meeting with me.

Mr Laughren: His responsibility is in this chamber. That doesn't alter the fact that I'm still unhappy that he's not here.

I wanted to take part in this debate on Bill 107 because I sat on the committee that held hearings on this in London and in Toronto and there was a great deal of interest expressed in this bill. When you look at the wording in the bill, you have to understand that a lot of people who are not used to reading legislation such as this nevertheless realized that something was going on here that could affect something that's very important to them.

We heard from people in London and Toronto who expressed a great deal of concern about what the government was up to here. Deputant after deputant came before the committee and expressed a concern about what happened in other jurisdictions when water and sewer services were privatized. We asked the government members of the committee, "Could you please tell us some examples of where it was a very good thing, that when water and sewer were privatized the people got better service, higher quality and lower costs?" Not one single example was offered, despite the fact that people came before the committee and gave us many examples of how service had deteriorated and costs had skyrocketed when the service was privatized.

I thought there was an obligation on the part of government to bring forward some examples of why they were doing this, some examples of jurisdictions where it worked so well. We didn't get one example, as I recall. Why not? Don't you think the people of this province deserve that? You owe that much to them, for heaven's sake, but they got absolutely nothing.

What was also very clear is that nobody was being kidded by what the real agenda here is, which is to download sewer and water services on to the municipalities, then put the squeeze on the municipalities, which will be looking for every penny they can achieve; then they'll be selling off these services because you put the squeeze on them and you've given them ownership of these services. That was very clear to most people who appeared before the committee.

Also, people who came before the committee -- I know how we get information here as MPPs, but I often wonder how the average citizen out there is able to get hold of so much information. They had information on the polls that were done that showed that 76% of the people in this province are opposed to the privatization of our sewer and water services. It's amazing how they get information, amazing how many of them were aware of the critical situation in Great Britain, where it was a disaster and continues to be a disaster as a result of the privatization of sewer and water services -- an absolute disaster. There is all sorts of documented evidence of what happened in Great Britain. You say to yourself, "What's going on here?" And people were saying, "Why are you doing this when the evidence is that it doesn't work well?"

That is why I think in this debate this afternoon -- and third reading debates are really supposed to be about why this bill should not be now read for a third time, as opposed to a substantial debate.


Mr Laughren: Yes, that's technically the reason we have third reading debates. I think this bill should not receive third reading now, because the government hasn't answered very many of the questions that were put to them by people who came before the committee or by the members of the committee. I thought the member for Hamilton East did a good job on that committee; he raised a lot of important questions but didn't get the answers. It seems to me that for that reason alone, this bill should not now be read a third time.

One of the issues people were concerned about was the whole issue of a referendum. Why not, since this government is very big on referenda? At least they were at one time, but they ignored the one in Metro Toronto on amalgamation. They would not put into this bill a requirement that before a municipality is allowed to privatize its services, they must hold a local referendum to see what the people want. Did the government accept that? No. It wouldn't accept any of these amendments. Why? What are you afraid of? You're big on grass roots and local control and local responsibility. Why don't you give the people at the local level the right to have a referendum on whether their local services should be or could be privatized? But you wouldn't do that, any more than you'd listen to the results of the referendum in Metro Toronto on amalgamation.


You're talking out of both sides of your mouth when it comes to referenda. You're saying, "We like referenda; we'll bring in legislation for a referendum." But then when it comes time to test you on it, to call you on it, you run and hide. You don't have the courage of your rhetoric. You say you want referenda, but then you won't put it in the bill that says, "No municipality can privatize their sewer and water services until a local referendum has been held." You won't do that. Why not? We didn't get any answers to that question in the committee. It seems to me that's not an unreasonable request that was put to the committee.

People who came before the committee were concerned about the whole issue of public health if sewer and water are privatized. They were concerned as well about conservation. I'd like to speak for a moment about conservation. If the government allows a sewer and water service to be privatized and a company now owns the sewer and water service in that particular municipality, what is the incentive for that particular company to engage in water conservation? The more they sell, the more they make. So tell me, what's the incentive for conservation?

When it's non-profit at a municipal or provincial level, there's no incentive to sell more, because it's non-profit. If you turn it over to the private sector, what kind of entrepreneur worth his or her salt is not going to try and sell more water? Why wouldn't they? What kind of entrepreneur are they if they don't want to sell more of their product? They're not an entrepreneur worthy of calling themselves such. I can't understand why the Tories, the party of entrepreneurs, can stand up and say they are not concerned about conservation of water at the same time they're selling it off to the private sector. They cannot make that argument, and they didn't in committee.

The parliamentary assistant had all sorts of opportunities to answer the question on a referendum and to accept an amendment on a referendum, to answer the question on conservation. There were no answers. They just sat there like trained seals and obeyed the orders from on top that no amendments were going to be accepted in the committee. Why did you waste the taxpayers' money holding public hearings, if you weren't going to accept amendments? Can you answer that question? You wasted taxpayers' money.

You're supposed to be the people who are guardians of the taxpayers. You try and sell yourself that way. But what do you do? You hold public hearings to get input from the public and then have clause-by-clause debate and ignore every suggestion that came from the public and ignore and reject virtually every meaningful amendment that was put by the opposition. So why did you waste money by holding public hearings when you had absolutely no intention of accepting any amendments?

That is something that puzzles me and it seems to me that you owe an explanation to the taxpayers of this province as to why you would spend the money on holding public -- because it costs money to travel to London and take the entourage of the committee to London. Back here in Toronto it costs money to run these things. As a matter of fact, when the filibuster on amalgamation was going on, you were ranting and raving about how much money it costs to run these kinds of affairs.

Suddenly, when it suits your purpose, you don't bother; it doesn't worry you at all. You just sit there and stonewall and say: "No, we've got our marching orders. We're not accepting amendments." That's what you said: "We're not accepting amendments." That seems to me not to be the way this place should work, and I don't think it's the way the citizens of this province expect this place to work.

There is, in this province, an association -- the member for Hamilton East referred to it -- called the Ontario Municipal Water Association. That association speaks for 237 member water authorities all across the province on matters related to treatment and supply of drinking water in Ontario. They're not normally a very rangy group. They don't normally get very upset about matters and they're usually very cautious in their language. I'll repeat some of what the member for Hamilton East said, I think most appropriately.

The Ontario Municipal Water Association said, "We believe the government is opening the floodgates to the irreversible deterioration of water services in Ontario." That's a pretty damning statement. That's a serious statement. "It's a situation that is transforming Ontario's reliable and safe water service into one marked by chaos and fragmentation." Those are serious charges. "The government clearly has no plan to safeguard our drinking water and to ensure the high-quality, low-cost and reliable water system we enjoy today." Guess what? We never did get those assurances on the committee. When we tried to bring in amendments that would make some of that possible, we were stonewalled by the committee because the members on that committee had their marching orders.

"Instead, the Ontario government is paving the way for privatization. While private operators have profit, not customers, as their prime concern, municipalities will be further squeezed by reduced transfer payments so they may be forced to cross-subsidize other services with water revenues. This can create an incentive for municipalities to make up lost revenues through hidden taxes in water rates." Certainly, that's what happened in other jurisdictions.

Speaking of other jurisdictions, I shouldn't move on until I mention this. This comes from Great Britain, which I referred to earlier. I quote from the Sunday Times: "Water companies, which have almost doubled charges in five years and made a combined profit of more than £1.5 billion" -- so we're talking about $3 billion -- "in 1992-93, admit to operating nearly 200 sewage works illegally. They say it will be another three years before the problem -- first highlighted by the Sunday Times `Water Rats' campaign in 1989 -- is under control.

"The National Rivers Authority, which monitors the waterways, said it had detected a substantial increase in reports of pollution incidents relating to sewage and the water industry. The number rose from 4,578 in 1988, the year before privatization, to 6,420 in 1992."

You can see that people were not simply blowing smoke at the committee or at the government when they expressed concern about what happened elsewhere. These are real concerns and at no point did the government, the parliamentary assistant, the minister, deny any of this. They couldn't. They couldn't use examples from jurisdictions where this was seen to be a good solution.

I must say that when we got into the clause-by-clause debate, we basically had two major amendments we wanted to put, and there were other amendments as well. One of the amendments was to build in a clause in the bill that simply said, "No municipality may privatize a sewer and water system." Or sub to that, if you will, would be, "If they do decide to do it, they must hold a referendum before it's allowed to take place." The second major one was to require a referendum on whether or not privatization could occur, as I said, and the other had to do with money.

The government says: "We're not going to simply allow the municipalities to sell these off at the price they determine. We're going to require that any provincial government grants since 1978 -- was it, member for Riverdale? I think 1978.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Yes, 1978.


Mr Laughren: Going back to that date, any provincial grants given to the municipality for that sewer or water system would have to be repaid to the province. Isn't that nice? How would you like an interest-free grant for 20 years? That's not a bad deal. That would simply be built into the purchase price between the purchaser and the municipality.

That's a lot of nonsense. We tried to say, if you go that far, then for heaven's sake at least allow an interest charge to be made on that grant for whatever number of years since the grant had been granted. But no, the government wasn't hearing any of that either.

Finally -- I want to leave time for my colleagues -- near the end of the public hearings we had come before the committee a distinguished former mayor of the city of Toronto, Mr John Sewell. Mr Sewell had looked at the bill and he came before the committee and said that he thought the bill didn't have an honest title. It doesn't have an honest title; I said that when I started my remarks. The bill is entitled the Water and Sewage Services Improvement Act, 1997. Well, that's not the purpose of this bill. So Mr Sewell said the title should be changed to read An Act to permit bad drinking water and poorly treated sewage in Ontario. The government voted against it. I can understand you'd be a little embarrassed to have a bill entitled that, but that at least would be an honest title. Or, Mr Sewell said, alternatively it could be called A Devious Act to privatize water and sewage facilities in Ontario. Once again, that's exactly what the purpose of this bill is.

Then Mr Sewell said he was concerned about testing, as there would be a lack of adequate testing given the record of this government when it comes to environmental protection. So Mr Sewell proposed a new section that would state as follows: "To test the quality of the product of those facilities transferred pursuant to this act, all Conservative MPPs who supported this legislation and its passage are required to (a) publicly consume two glasses of water produced by these facilities once every six months for the next 10 years, and (b) swim in the effluent of the sewage treatment plants once every July and August for the next 10 years."

On the issue of privatization, Mr Sewell said that he knew what was going on here and he thought the following amendment should be put into the bill as well: "No facility may be sold by a municipality, or a contract for its management made, except to a company which has made substantial contributions to the Conservative Party of Ontario or is friendly with individual Conservative MPPs and their families."

Mr Sewell, while he may have had his tongue in his cheek a bit on these proposed amendments, nevertheless knew what was going on and put it quite effectively.

In conclusion, because I want to allow time for my colleagues to speak, I would simply say that I'm disappointed in the way the government handled this bill. They went out to committee in London and Toronto, heard presentations by the public, and ignored every single substantial recommendation -- completely ignored by the government. No serious question was given a serious answer by the parliamentary assistant who served on the committee, the member for Northumberland.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): Oh, no, you're exaggerating.

Mr Laughren: I'm not exaggerating. It's reflected by the fact that no amendments were accepted. You tell me what the purpose of clause-by-clause debate is in committee if it's not to put amendments and have some of them accepted at least. The amendments were not radical amendments, they were not frivolous amendments; they were serious amendments that people had thought long and hard about, yet the government completely ignored them. I've seldom served on a committee where the government completely ignored every one. They had their marching orders and did absolutely nothing, changed nothing except the odd amendment that they themselves wanted to put.

It was a waste of money. Taxpayers should be phoning their Conservative MPP and saying: "Don't give us any more of your hogwash. Don't give us any more of your sanctimonious claptrap." You're not interested in saving money. If you were, you wouldn't have taken this committee out on the road knowing ahead of time that you were not going to make any changes whatsoever to it. Don't try and sell yourselves as some kind of fiscal guardians in this province, because you're making a joke of that by holding committees and public hearings knowing ahead of time that you've got your marching orders. The members on the committee sat there like a row of sphinxes and said nothing during the debate on the bill, basically, accepted no amendments from the opposition, accepted no suggestions from the public, and didn't give any answers worthy of being called an answer during the entire debate.

I'm very unhappy with the way the government has handled this bill. I think if it doesn't raise cynicism among the electorate, if they're not already cynical enough, then they need only take a closer look at the way this bill was handled by the government.

They had to agree to public hearings, I guess, to facilitate the order of business in this assembly, but it would have been a much more honest approach if they had said: "No, we will not hold public hearings because we don't intend to do anything as a result of those hearings. We don't intend to change anything." Why not be honest and say, "We'll take our knocks here in the Legislature, but we're not going to pretend to have public hearings to hear from the public when we're not going to listen"? Why won't you do that? Don't you have the courage of your convictions? If you're going to simply say, "This bill is going to be dealt with as it now is before you, and holding public hearings would be meaningless," then have the courage to say that. Have the courage to say it and take your knocks in this assembly, but stop trying to kid the folks out there that you're going to hold public hearings and actually listen to people and accept some reasonable amendments, because that never, ever, ever was the intention of the government members.

Mr Duncan: I'm glad to have the opportunity to speak to this bill today and follow my colleague from Nickel Belt. In the time I have allotted to me I want to address four points.

The first is to go on more about the notion of the privatization of water and sewage treatment plants in Ontario. As my colleague from Nickel Belt pointed out, and my colleague from Hamilton East before him, the government missed an opportunity. They didn't heed the advice of all those who spoke to them to include in the bill a section that will prohibit the privatization of water and sewage treatment plants in Ontario. I suppose we really ought not to be surprised. This government has been a great advocate of privatization, with a full-steam-ahead attitude towards privatization, a government that sees very little role for the public sector in the provision of many goods and services.

I must say that I don't disagree with the notions around privatization of certain government functions or crown corporations. I do not, however, believe the government's approach on the privatization issue has been the best approach. The government has ignored very basic tenets of the notions around the public provision of certain goods and services, and water and sewage is one of those that ought to rest in public hands. Why? The members for Nickel Belt and Hamilton East painted a very compelling picture of what happens when government privatizes the provision of drinking water, essential to life itself: the safety of supply, the adequacy of supply.

The government forgets that we in Ontario are blessed with an abundance of fresh water, that we are blessed with an environment that allows us to provide for our own needs. Historically, government after government after government in this province has worked to ensure that we can continue to provide a safe source of drinking water and have security of drinking water in all of our communities right across this great province.


We had urged in committee, and before we vote on third reading we urge the government again, to bring forward an amendment that would prohibit the privatization, prohibit municipalities from privatizing sewer and water services in this province. That is the first fundamental problem we have with the bill.

The second has to do with the long-term maintenance of sewer and water infrastructure in Ontario. This bill was brought in in the context of the government's offloading, downloading, disentanglement exercise. The government acted on the recommendations of Crombie in some cases, and in other cases completely ignored those recommendations. Indeed what we are faced with today is most of what was brought forward in those mega-week announcements. Much of the downloading has been changed. Why? Because the government has recognized that it was creating an impossible financial burden on property taxpayers in this province. Indeed, to this day, even with their announced changes, even with the backtracking we've seen on certain items, taxpayers in this province are going to be faced with a further $1.6-billion debt -- tax liability, if you will.

What this bill, Bill 107, does not take into account is the cost associated with the maintenance and improvement on an ongoing basis of our sewer and water infrastructure. In some of our municipalities, the underground services, the pipes, in our downtown core are in excess of 90 to 100 years old and they're still functioning. Now we're putting the treatment plants in the same domain and at the same time we are adding more cost to that domain, the domain of Ontario's property taxpayers.

Over time, municipalities will be compelled to do one of two things: raise rates for water -- and sewage rates in many municipalities are segregated out of property tax bills today. We in Windsor did that some years ago. They will be forced to raise rates or, alternatively, allow the infrastructure to further deteriorate. Why? Because if they privatize, there will be a profit motive built in, and in order to meet their obligations, municipalities will be forced to make these tough choices. This after all is a government that time and time again has offloaded tough decisions, has talked a tough game of its own, but is forcing our municipalities into the position of having to do things that quite frankly won't be very palatable. Those municipalities will not have the moral suasion, the financial wherewithal or the general ability of a large government or a large state such as the province of Ontario to protect that public interest.

We cannot consider this bill outside of the context of the government's overall environmental agenda, or should I say lack of environmental agenda? We have seen literally millions of dollars cut from the Ministry of Environment's budget. It is the Ministry of Environment that has had probably among the greatest hits of any department of the provincial government, any ministry of the provincial government. Fully a third of the staff and a third of the budget of that ministry have been cut. We think of the environmental hot spots in this province. We think of issues ranging from water control, water quality, to air quality, land and soil use, conservation, and we have a government that has not only not acted, but has been irresponsible in its cuts and its approach to our natural heritage. It is a price that all of us will pay time and time again. In my own community, our local Ministry of Environment office has been closed. We have tremendous problems with air and water quality and pollution control, and now we don't even have the mechanisms whereby we can enforce our own environmental standards.

So it is with sorrow that we look at Bill 107 in that greater context, a context that will sell off the preservation of the Niagara Escarpment, a context that says measuring pollution in our environment is no longer important; it's not as important as ensuring that development, no matter what that development is, can go forward, forgetting that development can be positive in terms of the environment provided it's properly regulated and monitored by the government. This government has abandoned its responsibility in that area.

Finally, I'd like to take the last few moments I have to address the notion that these systems will be turned over to municipalities in compliance with their existing certificate standards. That may well be the case, but we say to the government members that it doesn't take long to fall out of compliance. We have concerns, quite frankly, that municipalities will not be able to have the properly trained staff to ensure those certificates are being honoured. Indeed, the government of Ontario, the Harris government, has left itself in the unenviable position of not being able in the future to enforce these very same standards.

We are left with a bill that will permit municipalities to privatize water and sewage. We are seeing a government yet again dumping its responsibility without concern for property taxpayers in this province. We see across the aisle in this House a government that has a shameful record on the environment, a government that has cut its budget, cut its staff, and has never had any commitment to ensuring that our environment and the heritage that we have will be protected into the future.

Finally, this bill reflects a government that is prepared to download to municipalities a responsibility that they have neither the technical nor the financial wherewithal to execute in a proper fashion. We urge the government to withdraw this bill before third reading or amend it so that we can address these very fundamental questions.

Ms Churley: It's my pleasure to have the opportunity to speak on third reading of this bill. I've spoken in the House on second reading and I sat for some of the committee hearings. I have to agree with my colleagues who spoke earlier today and said that the committees were a farce, a waste of time, because the government refused to listen to any of the presenters and did not accept one amendment. There were some very good presentations from experts in the field who offered amendments, as did the Liberal and the NDP parties. The request from most people who are opposed to this was to withdraw the bill, it's so flawed, but short of that, failing that, that certain amendments be carried out. This government absolutely refused to accept any of them.

I want to take this opportunity to thank -- I can't thank them all -- some of the key people with particular expertise in sewer and water and environmental matters. These are the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Great Lakes United, the Public Committee for Safe Sewage Treatment in Metropolitan Toronto, Greenpeace, Save Ontario Water, the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, the Ontario Municipal Water Association, and then there was Citizens for Local Democracy.


I want to thank all of those people for taking on this issue. This was announced as part of the downloading bundle that was suddenly dumped on people right after the announcement of Bill 103, and it almost got lost in the shuffle, because when people hear "sewer and water" I believe most people just generally feel they get clean water out of their tap and it's been taken care of. To a lot of people it's a fairly boring subject to talk about sewer and water. I want to thank those people.

Citizens for Local Democracy: John Sewell came down and spoke to the committee, a bit tongue in cheek. I think he's learned the hard way that this government doesn't listen, but certainly made it very clear, representing citizens, thousands of people in Metro Toronto, how they felt about this downloading of the responsibilities of water and sewer to the municipalities.

The other groups that came -- and as I said, I haven't mentioned them all -- gave very good, very thorough, well-researched presentations. They were not, as usual, listened to -- not once.

My colleagues today talked about some aspects of this bill which are truly frightening. When I listen to some of the members of the opposition talk about this bill, it is very clear that they don't know the implications of it. They talk about it almost as though it's some kind of systems maintenance as opposed to the real agenda here, and that is the downloading of these services to municipalities, many of whom have already had transfer payments by the province cut by up to 40%.

On top of that, the municipal assistance plan, money that governments in the past, all decent governments in the past, would set aside and give to particularly the poorer municipalities to help them make sure that their sewer and water systems were updated and provided clean, safe water and systems to their constituents, this government already took that away.

Then on top of that, earlier on they set the stage by, as my colleagues pointed out today, bringing in the omnibus -- ominous -- Bill 26. Surprisingly, given this government's so-called commitment to referendum, that opportunity and ability for people in their own ridings, in their own towns, to have a say, to really look carefully, to ask a lot of questions of their municipal councillors and this government about what this really means, has all been taken away. Those citizens once again have lost rights to a pretty fundamental aspect of our lives, and that is clean water.

If a municipality is determined to privatize -- we don't know of any for sure yet. I don't think any municipality at the outset is going to actually want to sell its water. We all know what happened in England, although there were a couple of people, one in particular, a private company which when I asked -- and almost everybody else agreed that the privatization of water services in Britain was a disaster. One of the companies that came forward, which I presume would like to get in on this, when I asked, said no, they didn't think there was a problem in England, that the press was just giving one side of this issue.

I was quite astounded by that, because I believe I've heard every member of the government who's talked to this issue say, "Yes, it was a disaster in England and we're going to make sure that doesn't happen here." But they will not make sure that doesn't happen here because some of those poorer municipalities, when the results of all of the cuts start to click in, are going to look at the assets that the private sector out there knows they can buy and make money off.

That is why it is such a farce to tell people repeatedly, over and over again, in public, "Don't worry, because we're the first government ever to include some kind of measures in a bill that will not prevent but will discourage municipalities from selling off their water supplies because they would have to pay back any grants." That would be interest-free, of course. We all know that there have been companies -- we read it in the paper last year; it was in the media -- there are huge multinational corporations which are dying to buy our water, because they know from experiences in Europe that there are millions and millions of dollars to be made.

Municipalities -- they won't have to hold a referendum; they won't have to talk to their public about it -- may be forced into selling off the assets, let's face it, that the private sector will buy because they know they can make money. This one is proven; we know that.

That's why it's so worrisome and that is why it is so hard to believe when we hear the Minister of Environment and the parliamentary assistant, the member for Northumberland, stand and piously say: "You guys are scaremongering over there. We don't want this to happen. We think it's a dreadful idea and we've written into the bill something that will prevent them from doing it." But there are no guarantees.

What they have done is create a situation within the province whereby some municipalities will be forced to consider doing so. It may not be this year, it may not be next year, but God forbid, it is going to happen one of these days. You may have seen in the news again recently more publicity about what's happening in Britain, another drought, and more evidence that the private sector companies that own these water plants are making huge profits. The rates have gone up horrendously. Poor children are going to school without water in parts of Britain because their water is automatically cut off if they can't pay their bill. With the rates gone up so much, poor people often can't afford to pay. It's horrendous. We don't want that happening in Ontario, in Canada.

This government is setting the stage for it to happen. It's really dismal when we have a government which turns a blind eye to the realities of what may happen here, and that is the legacy these people are going to leave. They don't know it now, they don't see it, but unfortunately down the road they won't be here any more. Many of us won't be here any more when it starts to happen. I hope that all of these people aren't here any more because of the damage they do day after day. We stand up in this House, the public comes to speak to them, and they don't listen. They think they have all the answers, and it repeatedly happens on every one of these bills. They are fundamentally wrong about this one.

The government of the day, the Tory Harris government, likes to try as much as possible when under siege to blame the opposition parties when they were in government, to say, "You guys started it," or "It's your fault; you didn't do anything about it," or whatever. That's happening again in terms of Bill 107. The parliamentary assistant likes to say that our government, the NDP government, started it with OCWA, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, and that opened the door to privatization. It did not. This government could have proceeded, would have proceeded towards privatization -- no problem. They've done it in other areas without OCWA being in place.

I can tell you that although they had some concerns, in general most of the environmental groups, because they helped in determining the frame of reference and the terms of reference for OCWA, were supportive of the assigned roles and responsibilities. OCWA was clearly targeting the environment and public health risks associated with bad drinking water. They were targeted to deal with inefficient and obsolete sewage treatment plants.

They were targeted towards the continuing deterioration of Ontario's aging infrastructure. They dealt with the urban sprawl issues, the scattered rural development and all kinds of undesirable land use issues. Moreover -- and I've pointed this out before -- OCWA had a very strong policy in terms of promoting water conservation, which was strongly endorsed by groups like CELA and GLU and others that I've mentioned today.


That's all gone. None of these terms of reference, none of those assigned roles and responsibilities I spoke about which were a part of OCWA are within this bill. Some of them were wiped out some time ago; the rest have been wiped out with Bill 107. None of that has been left.

For this government to stand up and say about the NDP government, "It's your fault really; you did it. You support this because you formed OCWA," I think our government was clear that we supported it. I'll let the Liberals speak for themselves, but I believe that in many cases public-private partnerships, if they're worked out with the community and with the workers, can be good things. It's happening more and more on many levels of government.

It has to be done very carefully. In a situation like sewer and water, Bill 107, if you're looking at privatization of the operations, and this government says that's all they're interested in doing -- and we know that some privatization of operations has happened out there already -- that is not what we're talking about here. We're talking about what happened in Britain, and that is the wholesale sale of our water to profit-making companies whose sole goal in life is to make money. That's what happened in England. There are no two ways about it, it is a disaster.

If the government were truly committed to avoiding that, they could prove it by accepting this amendment. Clearly they want to leave that door open for their corporate friends, there are no two ways about it. Otherwise, why wouldn't they do it? Which of their corporate friends -- behind closed doors, in private, in secret, the way they do everything -- have they told, "Wait, boys, down the road. Just give us a little time and let us get Bill 107 through. Let things sort themselves out. Then come to us" or go to whatever municipality. That is what's happening here, there are no two ways about it. If any of the members from that government over there don't believe it, you just wait and see what's going to happen to water and sewer in your municipalities.

I want to speak specifically about something that the government and in fact most members in opposition are not talking about very much. On the whole, it's much more problematic than people tend to think -- people talk about it in terms of motherhood -- and that is the Municipal Water and Sewage Transfer Act. This is attached to the bill as schedule A, and it gives the minister broad discretion to make orders transferring OCWA's waterworks, sewage works, assets, rights and obligations to a municipality. However, subsection 2(5) prohibits the transfer of certain OCWA liabilities to a municipality. I know that CELA and GLU, Great Lakes United, express great concerns about this, because this liability limitation provides further evidence of how the Ontario government hopes to make transfer orders more palatable to municipalities.

Having said that, the sewage system reform is one I am personally very concerned about, and I'll tell you why. When we talk about part VIII, the sewage systems, what we're talking about here are septic tanks, small private sewage works and other systems. Those are systems that don't discharge directly into the watercourses. We don't know how many of those systems are across Ontario, nobody knows, but there may be a million or more of those systems. The problem is that without the proper soil conditions, proper separation distances or proper design, construction and maintenance, this can really severely affect groundwater and surface water and can result in very serious problems for people living next door to this.

I know that the Commission on Planning and Development Reform in Ontario found, "There is increasing evidence of contamination of both ground and surface water from septic systems." They found that about a third are below standards, and another third were classified as a public health nuisance.

It seems to me, given the kind of evidence we have, that septic tanks can seriously contaminate groundwater, water people drink and use. It is very important that the government of Ontario, the MOEE, continue to be responsible for the inspection and giving out permits and setting the standards and the licensing and all of that. They should be responsible for regular inspection.

No such safeguard exists in subsection 3(4) of Bill 107; it simply imposes the regulatory responsibilities upon all local municipalities, whether they want to, are capable of, are willing to or are equipped to actually carry out these new duties. I know that CELA and GLU and other people who came to talk to the committee said that was totally unacceptable to them and they believe it is going to cause great harm down the road.

Again, this government would not accept any amendments whatsoever that were put before them time and time again, because they kept saying: "Don't worry, it will all be taken care of. Motherhood. Don't you trust the municipalities to take care of their own municipal septic systems? Don't you trust them?" They tried to indicate that for those of us in opposition who are opposed to this it's nothing to do with a concern about the water quality, to smear us by trying to infer that we don't trust the municipalities.

This is not about trust. This is about municipalities having the money, the expertise, the inspectors, the ability to carry out this job. Many of them don't have that. With the downloading and the cuts to MAP and the general cuts and more to come, many of the poorer municipalities are not going to have this option to take proper care with their sewage systems. It's very worrisome. People should be concerned about that. We're talking about environmental protection and, literally, human health; it is not just one of those airy-fairy, tree-hugger environmental issues that some of us get accused of from time to time. I know I myself from time to time have been accused of being one of those.

This is very serious. We're talking about the water we drink and the water we use on a daily basis. If we can't be guaranteed that water is safe, then we're really in trouble. We know this bill is going to create tremendous problems for municipalities to make sure the health of their communities is maintained.

Speaking of water safety and health-related issues, I asked a question to the Minister of Environment today. You may recall this. It was about the Pickering nuclear plant and the revelation that over the past 25 years Hydro has been dumping more than 1,000 tonnes of toxic copper and zinc into Lake Ontario. This has been going on for 25 years under various governments' noses, including mine. There was some indication that back in 1989, I believe, there was some concern expressed to the government of the day, but it appears from all the evidence we have that there was a conscious coverup going on, which I think is scandalous.

I think it's a breach of trust for Hydro to have done this, and I believe a breach of trust for the Minister of Environment, who is assigned to protect the environment and the health of the people of Ontario, to give such an answer as he did today. What the minister said, essentially, was this:

"We are concerned about this matter. As you know, Ontario Hydro is reviewing the emissions that are occurring at Pickering station with a view to replacing the condenser tubing" -- "with a view," he said, "to replacing the condenser tubing" -- "which is copper at the present time, which is of course present in many of our homes when water goes through. We're concerned about the loading of Lake Ontario with regard to this, but I want to assure you and every member of the public that the levels of copper and zinc in the cooling water discharge are 100 times lower than the Ontario drinking water...standards."


Later I said, "I think that's a lousy answer," and I stand by that. "We've got information in front of us that these are toxic, persistent chemicals going into our water," and it's predicted it could take up to 100 years for cleanup, and some say longer. These are the kinds of toxic chemicals that get into the food chain. They don't break down and go away; they are there to stay.

Then in my supplementary the minister said: "First of all, I want to make it clear to the people of Ontario that copper is not deemed as a toxic pollutant in water. In fact, in terms of the commercial fishery, for instance, they add copper and zinc to supplement their diet. It's needed by those particular habitat.

"As I mentioned before, Ontario Hydro is reviewing their emissions with regard to these plants, is looking at what is being discharged and is going to come forward within a month with regard to putting forward their findings with regard to that. I think it's only prudent for me to wait for that particular report and then take appropriate action at that time."

I don't know what happened to the minister today. I asked him who wrote the answer for him, because I knew he'd be prepared today but I was really surprised at his answer. I thought at least he'd stand up and say, "I have grave concerns about this." From the information I have, it appears that there may have been a coverup, certainly from everything we've seen to date. I have various quotes and memos supplied to me that certainly indicate that.

I know our government didn't know about it. The Liberals before me -- I hope the member for St Catharines, the previous environment minister, is going to stand up later and speak. I don't know if he knew about it, but it appears to me that for a very long time, and according to reports in the paper, some of the workers, the employees, were talking to the managers at Hydro, trying to get them to deal with this, and for many, many years they didn't. To me that is scandalous. This is a public utility.

The minister should at the very least stand up today and say: "Yes, I take it seriously. Yes, our ministry found out about it a year ago and we should have dealt with it then." Because I also have information that it was about a year ago that the management at Hydro came forward and let the ministry know formally about this, and they did nothing. They didn't inform the public, the people around the area who are drinking the water, and took no action. Even now, today, the minister is saying, "Let's just wait for a report; let's just wait and see what happens."

But the most astounding thing the minister said today is that copper is good for you. He said, "Copper is good for you." He said that. This is the Minister of Environment.

Mr Galt: He said that?

Ms Churley: He said that and I have the transcript right here. We are talking about 1,000 tonnes here, we aren't talking about minuscule amounts, and he had the nerve to stand up and say: "It's not a serious problem. Copper is good for you."

Coming back to the bill we're talking about today, this is an indication of where the Minister of Environment is at in terms of protecting our water.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): And public health.

Ms Churley: And public health. If we had any doubts whatsoever before we came in here today about Bill 107, that perhaps the minister didn't quite understand what was really going on here, that he really does care about public health, there are none left. He completely blew it today. If there's anybody in this Legislature who believes otherwise, I don't know where your heads are at. You all heard the minister say this today. It is absolutely astounding. That minister is there to protect your health, your family's health, the people of Ontario's health.

We have a minister who is quite willingly downloading the responsibilities for public health in terms of water to municipalities, many of which cannot afford to pay for it. What are they going to do? They are going to be forced in many cases or some cases -- we'll see, unfortunately -- to sell off their water to the vultures out there who are waiting to make a ton of money. I'll tell you, if we end up in Ontario in a situation a few years down the road from now that is happening in England, you will pay for it, because it is an absolute disgrace and it shouldn't be happening in this day and age.

When you are in a country where water has been privatized -- there are actually little pamphlets put out. I don't have a copy with me. I wish I could show it to you. I guess I wouldn't be allowed to anyway, so I'll just talk about it. The title of it is something like Save Our Children. What is it exactly? Something about providing water for our poor children. I couldn't believe it when I saw it in Britain. This is happening. Poor children are going to school without any water, for weeks at a time. They're having to do fund-raising to help children --

Mr Bradley: The legacy of Maggie Thatcher.

Ms Churley: Under Maggie Thatcher -- which this government says it's not going to do.

I also looked at some Hansards, some of the comments which were made in the British Parliament at the time they were talking about privatizing. It is uncanny in some cases the answers from the then Minister of Environment under the Thatcher government and from the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Environment. They're uncanny in terms of how close those assurances were. "Don't worry; be happy. The government cares. We won't let this stuff happen." Well, it happened.

In order to prevent it from happening, the government has the responsibility to put in place within this bill a very clear prohibition against privatizing the water, and they won't do that. That is absolutely clear. They have been told time after time after time. I think out of all the amendments which were presented by our caucus, the Liberal caucus and the many groups that came forward, that was the most important one.

There are many other problems with the bill as well. It should be withdrawn. We know why the government is doing this. They say it's all motherhood. "We're just giving municipalities more responsibility to take care of their own affairs." Motherhood. It sounds great. The title of the bill sounds great. But that isn't the reality.

I've spelled out, as have other of my colleagues today and the many groups that came forward, the real problems with this bill and what's really happening here, and that is, opening the door to full-scale privatization down the road for big corporations to make a lot of money. That's wrong. It is fundamentally wrong. I wish at the very least the government had chosen to support that amendment. It would take such heat off you, it really would, if you would do that, because that is the main concern.

This is going to grow. Because of all the other issues out there, there hasn't been a whole lot of attention paid to it, but there's growing concern about it. Once it's done people in local municipalities will start to figure out that because of Bill 26, if their council feels they're forced to sell off the water because they have no money, they won't have any say in it. So it's a double whammy. I guess it's a triple whammy, because as I said earlier, they have had so much of their transfer payments in the MAP program and the farm runoff program, which I didn't mention earlier. This is a disaster.

Let's not pretend now that this bill isn't going to pass today as it is before us without any of those amendments. We know it's going to do that. One of the first things that struck me when I looked at the bill -- and I did read the bill carefully and analysed it with other experts who certainly understand some aspects of it better than I -- is that what this government is doing in the process of coming forward with this bill is fooling people. It's got a beautiful title, as do all the bills. I've said before, I give the government a lot of credit for their titles. Let's face it, if you're sitting at home watching TV some time or the public hearings and stuff and that beautiful title comes across, the Water and Sewage Services Improvement Act -- well, yes. It isn't an improvement act.

Mr Galt: It is.

Ms Churley: The parliamentary assistant still sits there and continues to say that this is actually an improvement.

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): It is.


Ms Churley: They're all saying, "That's right." The junior minister for privatization is sitting over there saying, "That's right." Read the bill. I'm sorry, folks, but this is not an improvement. It's going to be a disaster.


Did you listen to the Ontario Municipal Water Association? I know you don't listen to environmental groups, no matter how much expertise they have, no matter how much experience. I know you've written them off, like you've written me off and the opposition in general. But I think you should have listened to the Ontario Municipal Water Association. They called for some more amendments. They're very unhappy with this bill for some of the same reasons.

But once again this government, every last one of them, believes they have all the answers. Nobody else has a clue. Everybody else is a fool. We don't read the bill, we don't understand the bill, we don't know what we're talking about, we're in it for some kind of self-interest. That's not the case. These are special interest groups, I suppose you could say, in that they care about the environment, they care about public health. They don't make a lot of money off what they do, so there's no personal gain in it, and they should be listened to.

The tragedy with this bill is that it is going to go through today. The opposition has tried, as did the groups that came forward, to point out the really basic flaws in this bill and asked to have it withdrawn and to start all over again. All of the aspects of OCWA, the environmental justifications, the environmental role, are all out the window. In fact, I looked really carefully through this bill to find some kind of environmental justification for it. There isn't any.

Don't you think, Speaker, with an independent mind, and I know at the moment with a neutral mind because you're in the chair, and I understand that from being there myself --

Ms Lankin: Did she say your mind was in neutral?

Ms Churley: No, I didn't say that. The member for Beaches-Woodbine suggested that maybe I said your mind was in neutral and I just want to be clear that's not what I said. I understand that in the chair we are all neutral when we listen to debates and that's very important.

But I would say to you, Speaker, wouldn't you think it makes sense when you're changing such fundamental aspects of how we deliver services like water and sewage in our communities that you listen to the experts, that you look at it with an open mind? You are elected to represent not only your constituents but all of the people of Ontario. It is the duty of each and every one of us to not just proceed with our own government agenda -- because we know that this stuff is all lumped in together and that's what gets really scary about it. That's why we know why they don't listen.

I had some people come to me from the Metro police force to lobby me on changes to the police services bill. Which one is that? I forget now. Bill 105. They're feeling pretty discouraged and they know that this government doesn't really want to piss them off but they also understand --


Ms Churley: Angry, I should say. Let me change that. They know that you want to work with them.

Mr Bradley: What did she just say?

Ms Churley: I just said "pissed off," and I withdraw it if it's not parliamentary and say "angry." They know that the government would like to work with them. All of us in this House know how important the police role is in our communities and how important that balance between community and accessibility -- it's all so very important and a very delicate balance. But what one of them said to me is that the problem here is this is part of that downloading package. It's got to be done because municipalities want it.

That is the problem with all of these downloading bills. It's all part of a package. Because of the cuts in transfers and the downloading on top of that, certain promises had to be given to municipalities in terms of raising revenues and the ability to have more autonomy and control over all kinds of services in their communities. But it isn't necessarily for the good of the people in those communities and that's what has been avoided when we have those debates. The government members don't want to hear the truth about the realities that are going to come down the pipe with some of these changes -- and I mean down the pipe literally in this case.

They don't want to hear it, and that was very clear in the committee hearings on Bill 107: "Don't tell us the facts because there's nothing we can do about it. We were sent into this committee like good little soldiers to do our job."

Ms Lankin: Lambs to the slaughter.

Ms Churley: Like lambs to the slaughter. The member for Beaches-Woodbine continues to help me out here. Yes, like lambs to the slaughter. I have seen members uncomfortable with some of this stuff as they start to learn more about it, but on the whole, they don't want to hear it because it's too painful. They've got to, at the end of the day, make all the justifications, their little lines that they've been given, out of context of what's been talked about by all the groups that came in to talk to the committee.

Sometimes it's bizarre. We're sitting there and we have these amazing presentations, for instance, in the resources development committee from some of the groups I mentioned, with amazing expertise, like the Ontario Municipal Water Association or the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Save Ontario Water. Amazing presentations with all kinds of facts and information. It's great, and then the questions and the comments that come from the government members are totally bizarre. It often has nothing to do with the information that's been presented to us. It's so out of context because that's what they've been told to say, and that is one of the very great problems we have. I think most of the government members aren't even aware of the implications of this bill.

I know people get really busy and you can't pay attention to everything that happens. They have to trust that the minister, the people on the committee and the parliamentary assistant will tell them what's going on. They have to trust that they're getting the correct information and then they have to go along with that. That's what happens. I believe that if government members paid more attention, as did some of the members in the House when we got more and more information on the downloading and Bill 104 -- we had a few members from the Tory back bench, like the member for Grey-Owen Sound, and I forget the other two, who said some pretty interesting things about their own government. They're giving a very clear message. We know that there are some terrible things going on. One or two of the members said it was a dictatorship. That isn't John Sewell talking or our caucus talking. That's some of their own members.

Mr Gerretsen: No kidding?

Ms Churley: No kidding. I suppose in one way we could find it funny, but I also think it should be a wake-up call to the government when some of their own backbenchers are saying that about them.

This bill today really is a mistake. I know it's going to pass today, we all know that, and we will all do our best over the next few years, while this government continues to be in power, to make sure that privatization doesn't happen. Perhaps we'll have some time to reverse it when these people are thrown out in the next election. I can absolutely assure you that this is one area, whoever is elected, that is going to have to be reversed. Perhaps there will be an opportunity in a few years' time, before full-scale privatization starts to happen, to reverse this decision.

I have to say honestly, to folks who may be out there listening today who have concerns about that, that this bill is going to pass today and that there is a likelihood, the opening for privatization of their water to happen, and therefore very serious health concerns, environmental concerns, rate increases, but that there is some hope that privatization might be held off. If our party gets into government, I want to assure everybody that we will make sure that doesn't happen and that it will be reversed.

I thank you for the opportunity so speak about this extremely important bill today, Speaker.


Mr Bradley: The critic for the third party has outlined many of the problems that have existed with this bill, as have the critic for the Liberal Party, Dominic Agostino from Hamilton East, and Dwight Duncan, the member for Windsor-Walkerville.

Ms Churley has again established some of the real concerns that the opposition has about Bill 107. It's one of those bills that's not going to attract a great deal of attention in the provincial news media or the national news media, because it is presented as rather innocuous; it is presented as something that will not have great ramifications for the province. When you consider it, it's part of a package of this government of de-investing in the public sector by turning certain portions of government operations over to the private sector. As I think everybody has said, all governments look at their operations and endeavour to determine which are best carried out by the government itself through ministries, by crown corporations, or by a combination of private sector/public sector alliances or the private sector itself. So there are about four different options one can look at.

My concern is that this government does not look at it on a practical basis but rather on an ideological basis. In other words, there are many members of the government caucus who believe that the public sector and everything associated with it is evil and that the private sector should be allowed to do virtually everything in the province. They are the idealogues, they are the disciples of Guy Giorno and Tom Long and other advisers to the Premier who are not elected but have far more power than even members of the cabinet and certainly members of the government caucus who are not in the cabinet.

I become concerned when I see this kind of legislation being brought forward. It's part of a package in the environment of downgrading the importance of the Ministry of Environment, the influence of the Ministry of Environment and the resources of the Ministry of Environment.

We had achieved in this province a Ministry of the Environment which was the envy of many jurisdictions in this country and around the world. During the late 1980s, when there were funds available to do so, we were able to build a very strong team in the Ministry of the Environment to be able to carry out those responsibilities necessary to protect the environment in this province.

There were members in the Conservative benches in those days -- not all of them; some of them -- who thought the government was too intrusive, that it had adopted a confrontational stance with polluters as opposed to a cooperative stance, that it was interested in prosecution rather than persuasion. I simply say to those who do not like that course of action that it is the fairest course of action to everybody in the province. Indeed, the good corporate citizens were never afraid of the Ministry of the Environment, and seldom saw the Ministry of the Environment as a nuisance but rather as a potential ally. They were the people who were prepared to invest the money and the resources in their own operations to ensure they were environmentally benign at the very least and, to repeat a word used often, were proactive -- I don't know if that word actually exists -- in trying to find solutions to problems.

I think we have to remember that there were a number of corporate citizens in the late 1980s and perhaps the early 1990s who were trying to find those solutions to problems, who were cooperative, and who said, "As long as the laws are fair, as long as we've had consultation previous to the laws being enacted" -- and they meant meaningful consultation -- "and as long as you'll let us know enough ahead of time what you plan to do, we think we can make progress in meeting environmental obligations."

This government has taken a new approach. Part of the reason is that the public interest is not as acute as it was in the 1980s and perhaps the very early 1990s in environmental issues. That is certainly reflected in the coverage that the news media give to environmental issues. When somebody spilled ink on the floor in the late 1980s, it seemed, there were five cameras running to whoever the Minister of the Environment was of the day, demanding how the ink could possibly be spilled, who was going to clean it up, and what the long-term consequences for the environment were. Today there are some very significant problems out there that are simply not being addressed and not being paid attention to by the news media, who have gone on to some other issues.

The privatization of water and sewer in this province is not a positive step. There are certain areas where the private sector does the job. One of the members, I think from the Oshawa area, one of the Durham members, has said to those of us in the opposition, sometimes in derision, "Well, should the government build cars?" No, they shouldn't. That's for the major car companies to do, and they do as good a job as they can. They produce some excellent vehicles in our province.

I notice, and some of my colleagues may be aware of this, that in the budget it talked about an auto worker making $84,000 a year. I've talked to many auto workers since that time, because St Catharines has a lot of auto workers, and I can't find any of them who made $84,000. I talked to my next-door neighbour. He said he made about $45,000 a year, and if he worked seven days a week and I guess 12 hours a day, he might get up to over $60,000, but he didn't know anybody who had made $84,000 a year. And yet in the budget it gave the impression that an auto worker was a person who made $84,000 a year and therefore would benefit rather immensely from the ill-conceived tax cut this government is implementing at the expense of many government services. So I know my friends in St Catharines who work in the auto industry will certainly be unhappy with the members of the government who say or imply that they make $84,000 a year. If none of the government members are prepared to mention that, I will be happy to remind my friends who work in the auto plants in St Catharines, auto parts manufacturing, that indeed that was in the budget. In fact, I may even send them this Hansard so they will be aware of that.

There is a concern throughout the government about this obsession with privatization. The Minister without Portfolio for privatization is in the House this afternoon. The very fact that they have a minister with specific responsibility for privatization in itself should be rather frightening, rather than simply having the government as a whole look at all of the options it has available.

I met with some representatives of the Ministry of Transportation employees in St Catharines in my constituency office this week to discuss their concerns. People will recall that when the Peterson government announced that the Ministry of Transportation was moving to St Catharines, some 1,400 employees were supposed to go with that move. Subsequently, under the NDP, there were some cuts in the civil service and the number of people turned out to be 1,000. Now we have 600-odd people working in that office, and many of those people are concerned that privatization is going to wipe out their jobs.

These are people who upon review by the NDP and then review by the Conservatives were still told they were moving to St Catharines, so they made a lot of commitments, and I'll tell you, some of those were difficult. I think in some families it may have even resulted in a marital breakup because of decisions made for one to move to one area and one didn't want to move. That potential was certainly there. There were people who were commuting; there were people who sold houses and bought new houses. Now these people are concerned that the ministry is going to privatize virtually everything within the Ministry of Transportation. I don't think that's positive, because what we're doing is putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.


That's what I'm afraid of with this bill, that what we're going to see is an easing of the regulatory framework in which these small plants and small municipalities work. There's nothing I can think of that is of more concern environmentally on a firsthand, front-line basis, than the quality of water one is drinking and the quality of water that is there for recreational purposes. It seems to me that if the government proceeds in this direction, there is a danger that we will see a deterioration of the quality of that water.

This government likes to portray itself as tough on crime. There's a lot of talk about that. When you look at the funding, it's really not there. An example in my area would be when Preston Manning came to St Catharines and exploited a certain circumstance, a very tragic crime that happened in our area. There were people there who discussed problems; we had one person there with a problem. There's a Ministry of the Attorney General office set up in St Catharines supposedly to notify victims about court cases and the whereabouts of convicted criminals and so on. There was a big announcement, but there wasn't the money to go with it. One of the individuals who attended the Manning extravaganza in St Catharines had a problem with the provincial government, because they had not funded a specific program. I'm not going to call a press conference and have that person there; that's not the way I operate. I just want to say that there's a lot of talk about the law and order on that side, but when you talk about it, that means an investment in funds.

"How does that relate to this bill?" the Speaker is wondering. I can tell him that. That relates to this bill because the Ministry of Environment investigations and enforcement branch, as a result of cutbacks, has fewer staff and fewer resources. They would certainly be needed to look at problems that might exist within the provision of water and the treatment of water services in this province.

The money is available there. The government, instead of giving its tax cut, could provide the resources to the Ministry of Environment. They wouldn't have to dump this responsibility on to municipalities and eventually, I believe, into the private sector; that is, the responsibility for the provision of water and sewer services in Ontario.

The government gets block transfers from the federal government. A lot of people don't know this or a lot of people like to forget it. Nowadays, the government gets block transfers from the federal government. That was at the insistence of the provinces. They can do whatever they want with those funds. They can put it into health care and they wouldn't have to close hospitals. They could put it into education and they wouldn't have the problems they have with education these days. They could put it in the environment and solve that.

This government instead has chosen to take those federal transfer payments and give them away in the tax cut, the tax cut which benefits the wealthiest people in our society, because if you're making $300,000 a year, you're going to get more dollars in an income tax cut provincially than if you're making $40,000 a year or $30,000 a year.

I believe the government would be better to invest in the environment. Instead of cutting the ministry budget by one third, instead of cutting the staff by one third, instead of removing the regulations which have protected our environment over the years, the government should be moving in the opposite direction. This bill does not do so. Despite the representations made to the committee, there were very few amendments made to this legislation of any significance to reflect those representations made on that occasion.

I express my concern about this bill. Our hospitals, for instance, in various communities will need good, clean water and will have to have the water they use serviced appropriately, in other words treated appropriately, for sewer purposes. The people at the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines, which this government wishes to close, will be very concerned about that, or the Port Colborne hospital or the Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie or the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital at Grimsby or the Niagara-on-the-Lake hospital. All those people are going to be extremely concerned, concerned that they're on the chopping block from this government, but in other communities they're going to be concerned that the quality of water being provided to all citizens, including the hospitals, could be in jeopardy if the government proceeds with this bill and if we get into privatization and less inspection.

I'm saying the government should be investing in these areas. I think the public wants that. Today, I'm listening to people say, "We thought at one time that tax cuts were a good thing. We thought it sounded attractive: Let's get some money back." Now they're saying to me, "I would prefer to have the Attorney General have this money so he can carry out his responsibilities." I support the Attorney General in that regard because --

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): You can't keep a straight face.

Mr Bradley: He says I'm smiling. I smile at the Attorney General because he is looking for more funds. He has had his budget depleted, and he would like to have more money.

Mr Gerretsen: Yes, $61 million.

Mr Bradley: The member for Kingston and The Islands tells me his budget is cut $61 million. I think in their heart of hearts a number of members on the government side are now saying the tax cut was a mistake. Gary Carr was right, Morley Kells was right, Chris Stockwell was right -- who else? -- Ted Arnott was right, and the others who weren't perhaps so publicly vocal but behind closed doors of the caucus probably said that it doesn't make sense. When you're running a deficit it does not make sense to be giving tax cuts, particularly those which benefit the richest people the most and particularly those which mean you're going to have to make drastic cuts in government services.

I know that the government members aren't saying anything about other levels of government because they are indeed dumping on the local level of government. I know the Premier said to them, certainly back in 1994, "Don't start whining about somebody else. It's our own problems that we deal with." Here's what the Premier said in May 1994, right here in this House: "It is actually a disgrace when the Premier of the province spends his time whining, pointing fingers, blaming others. That is not the legacy, that is not the history of this province that I grew up in, and that will not be the legacy and history of this province when we bring common sense back to it."

I have many more quotes in here, but I won't necessarily repeat them to members of the House. I know that members of the House on the other side will be following the advice of the Premier, advice he gave freely and eloquently in this House not to be whining about other levels of government.

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Bradley: Oh, I have annoyed the member for St Catharines-Brock.

Mr Froese: Mr Speaker, while I always appreciate the comments from the member for St Catharines, I think we're debating Bill 107, the Water and Sewage Service Improvement Act, 1997, and I haven't heard anything in the last number of minutes about --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I appreciate the member's concern. I was listening very carefully to the member, and his remarks are within the general context of the bill. I'd like to have him continue.

Mr Bradley: May I take this opportunity, Mr Speaker, when you say that, to commend you. I have found you, when I have been speaking in this House, to be a person who understands that. There are a lot of people in the House over the years who have not understood that we must look at everything in the general context, and you have been one individual, when sitting in that chair, who has consistently recognized that. I hope the people watching back in Stratford and Moncton and other places close to that will recognize that you are a person who understands that when we're speaking in this House we must look at things in a general context.

I know what the Premier said and I know what Gary Carr said in opposition. He was talking about another Premier, but he said: "Here we have a Premier who is now setting up a strategy for the next election. What did you do to the municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals? It was not only bad, Premier, it was worse over the last few years. The public don't want partisanship or gamesmanship. They want results." You know, Gary Carr was right. Mike Harris was right. I know we're not going to hear from the government members on the other side when they're taking the block transfers from the federal government, that they can use any way they want, and giving them away in a tax break instead of spending them on health care, spending them on education, spending them on the Ministry of Environment.


If I wanted to stray from this bill, I would talk about the fact that the Conservative Party is ending rent controls in this province. The Speaker would then be justified in calling me to order, saying, "You cannot include in your speech on this bill the fact that the Conservative government is removing rent controls," which are most important to the most vulnerable people in our society, including senior citizens.

I will go on to one other aspect of this bill, and that is that we even have concerns from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario about this bill. Their concern is the high cost of servicing plant debts. AMO's main concern is: "Given the huge fiscal pressures dumped on municipalities during the so-called mega-week, municipalities may not now have the resources to assume the costs of operating these plants. Municipalities may have to reduce services and allow plants to deteriorate, or dramatically raise the cost of water and sewer services." I think AMO is right in that regard, and I know that the municipal affairs critic for the Ontario Liberal caucus, the member for Kingston and The Islands, an individual who had a distinguished association with AMO and was at one time the mayor of the city of Kingston, will want to elaborate on that.

I will, in my final conclusion, ask that the government withdraw this bill this afternoon, that it take it back, that it rework the bill, that it reflect some of the representations which were made to the committee, representations referred to by my friend the member for Nickel Belt, who said that while excellent representations were made, there was very little reflecting those arguments in the final bill we see before us.

Withdraw the bill. Start again. Slow down, do it right, and you will be doing a favour to the people of this province.

Mr Gerretsen: I'm very pleased to join this debate today and to start where the previous member, the always eloquent member for St Catharines, left off, and that is the position that AMO has taken in this regard.

It's very interesting that here we have an organization that views itself as a full partner with the province in governing the province, the municipalities within the municipal sphere and the province within the provincial sphere. At least that's what this government has said: They want to be full partners and they want to negotiate with the municipalities and do the right thing.

The position that the province has taken with respect to this bill is that it is forcing municipalities to take over the ownership of those plants, about 25% of them in the province, currently owned by the province. They're forcing municipalities to take over the operation of these plants and the ownership of these plants and all the debt that may be associated with it whether the municipalities want to or not.

That, to me, is one of the great inconsistencies in this bill. If it's such a good deal for municipalities, why wouldn't they take it over freely? Why wouldn't the province just say to those that don't want to: "Okay. You don't want to take it over. It's a good deal for you. You don't have to." But that's not the approach this government has taken. This government is saying: "We want to get rid of these plants. Municipalities, you've got to own and operate them and look after the outstanding debt that's still against these plants whether you like it or not." You've got to remember that many of these plants were built in the 1950s and 1960s and are going to require major outlays of capital moneys to upgrade them and update them.

I've had an opportunity to speak on this issue on a couple of occasions, both at second reading and this time, and I keep coming back to this point, for the simple reason that we've got to remember that a lot of these plants were provincially owned and operated, and as a matter of fact the province constructed a lot of these plants, because smaller municipalities simply were not in a position financially to do so back in the 1950s and 1960s. In the case of larger municipalities, the plants have always been owned and operated and built by those municipalities. They had the taxing capacity to build these plants. The smaller municipalities couldn't do it, so the province, in more enlightened days of former Conservative governments, before the Reform group we have there right now, said: "Look, we've got to be fair to all Ontarians, and the only way to be fair to them is that in those areas where the financial capacity isn't there, we are going to build these plants, we are going to run them, and then we're going to charge the users and the municipalities the cost it will take to maintain them."

Under the present circumstances, with the attitude this government is taking, a plant like this could never, ever be built again in smaller municipalities that don't have the taxing capacity to build them. That is the great inconsistency, that these plants are going to be forced to be taken over by municipalities whether they like it or not.

Another inconsistency in one section of the act is very interesting. This is the government, you may recall, that during the last election campaign and even today, before the Legislative Assembly committee, continually talks about having binding referendums in Ontario, for all sorts of different issues. I don't want to get involved in a whole discussion of whether referendums are good, bad or indifferent, but it's certainly the case that this government wants to see more referendums being conducted at the province-wide level.

Well, isn't it interesting that in this particular bill they have eliminated the need for municipalities to hold referendums before they can sell off these water and other utility plants? To me, that is a totally inconsistent position. How on one hand can you say referendums are basically a good thing, that they allow the people of Ontario the right to show how they feel about a particular issue, and then in an act to take that away where it has always been a requirement before one of these plants could be sold off by a municipality? Why would you take that away? Why would you take away that referendum right if you really and truly believe in the notion of a referendum?

It is a little bit like the megacity referendums that were held here in the city of Metropolitan Toronto back in the first week of March this year, when the province said, "Yes, we're in favour of referendums, but we don't like what was decided in these municipal referendums," where 75% of the people voted against the megacity, "so we're not going to adhere to them or we're not even going to listen to what they had to say."

I'm one of these people who believes an awful lot can be said about how a particular government feels about a particular situation, whether they're in favour of one kind of endeavour or another, by the amount of money it makes available to allow that particular service to be delivered to the taxpayers and to the citizens of Ontario. It's very interesting that in a matter of two years, the budget for the Ministry of Environment and Energy has been reduced by a total of 38.5%.

These are the government's own figures, out of its own budget. This isn't some kind of Liberal propaganda or propaganda put together by other people. This is from the government's own documentation. The budget in the Ministry of Environment and Energy has been reduced from $244 million a year, which is where it was two years ago, to $150 million a year today, for a reduction of 38.5%.

What that means to the average Ontarian is that you will not have the same inspection services, you will not have the same enforcement services. Whether we're talking about air pollution, water pollution -- there's been an awful lot of talk about making sure the water we drink is safe -- in all those areas it could be said that this government truly believes there should be a lessening of not only rules and regulations but also of enforcement and of the total environmental concerns that most people in Ontario still have.

Perhaps the environment nowadays doesn't have the same kind of appeal to people, with all the other problems we have, such as unemployment, such as the huge deficits the provinces and the federal government choose to run etc, but it's still certainly a concern. It's a concern to me, when I'm in Toronto here three or four days a week, as we all are, and I look out my apartment window and I see a film of -- well, I don't know what it is -- across the city. I say to myself, "With all the modern technology we have available, do we really have to live under those kinds of circumstances?" with that kind of pollution that most of us, unfortunately, have already started to accept.


What kind of an environment are we going to leave behind for our children and our children's children? Surely it is time we did something about it. Surely what we should not be doing is cutting by 38.5% the amount of money we're spending in Ontario to make sure that the environment we all live in, that we all want to enjoy, that we all want to make sure is safe for ourselves and our children isn't affected in a harmful way. Why are we cutting these funds? Why are we making these transfers to the municipal sector? For one reason and one reason only: so government can get out of this kind of endeavour.

As was raised earlier today, there may be certain municipalities where indeed it makes sense for septic systems, for example, to be approved and inspected by local inspectors. I'm not for a moment suggesting that for those municipalities which have that capacity and have the expertise on their staff that's a function that can't be handed over to them so that when you've got the building inspector or the electrical inspector going into a new house construction situation, perhaps these other things can be looked at as well. Certainly there are areas in which we can save money and we can save our energies, but there are also many situations that you and I know about, Mr Speaker, where that simply will not happen if we do not have a provincial inspection or enforcement body like we currently have. That is going to largely disappear.

It's also very interesting to know that the Ontario Municipal Water Association, a group which represents 220 drinking-water plants which are already owned by municipalities, is very concerned that municipalities will either want to sell off their plants or be forced to sell them to cover the additional responsibilities that have come to the local taxpayer as a result of the downloading. It's interesting that they took a survey back in October 1996 which showed that 75% of the people of Ontario wanted to make sure that the water systems we have in this province were retained in public ownership.

As the member for St Catharines has already stated, the government has a choice. Yes, there has been some down-cutting of transfer payments from the federal government. But what has really happened to this money? It's interesting that the amount of money that has actually been lessened in federal transfers is about $1.8 billion over the last five years. What has happened to that?

We all know the government has a choice to utilize that federal money that's being transferred by way of block grants and put it towards health care, put it towards education, put it towards social services, put it towards the environment, and this government has decided it wants to give people a tax cut, one of the most ridiculous notions ever advanced, in my opinion. How can you have a tax cut when you still have an annual deficit; when the interest on the public debt, according to the government's own figures, is going up from $7.1 billion -- this is just the public debt interest that we paid in 1993-94 -- to $9.1 billion currently?

I know our finances are starting to look better, but we are still running an annual deficit situation. It's projected that it's going to be $6.5 billion. It's a vast improvement over the $10-billion or $11-billion deficit they used to run two or three years ago, but there's still a deficit there. To start handing money back to people at this stage just doesn't make any sense at all, since you're still building up the public debt. Again, the budget document clearly indicates that the public debt in this province is going from $100 billion to $120 billion in a matter of five years.

I see now that the same kind of notion is being advanced by Mr Charest. He thinks the people of Ontario and the people of Canada will bite twice, that again we can have it both ways: We can have our tax cut and at the same time put more money in for health care and education and also balance the budget a lot sooner than is anticipated. It just doesn't make any sense. It's certainly my hope that the people of Ontario and the people of Canada will not go for that same nonsense twice in a row.

I suggest to the government, as I wind up this debate on Bill 107, that this is the wrong way to go. What the people of Ontario are interested in is public ownership of our water plant system. They do not want especially those plants that are in smaller municipalities privatized. Remember, these plants were built originally to ensure that the same water quality was available in the smaller municipalities that couldn't afford to build their own plants. That's why the province got involved. Those are the communities that will suffer more and more as a result of the consequences of Bill 107.

The Acting Speaker: There are no other honourable members who wish to participate in the debate.

Mr Sterling has moved third reading of Bill 107. Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour say "aye."

All those opposed say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; there will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1758 to 1803.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Sterling has moved third reading of Bill 107. All those in favour will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Baird, John R.

Johnson, David

Sheehan, Frank

Beaubien, Marcel

Jordan, W. Leo

Smith, Bruce

Boushy, Dave

Kells, Morley

Snobelen, John

Brown, Jim

Klees, Frank

Spina, Joseph

Chudleigh, Ted

Leach, Al

Sterling, Norman W.

Clement, Tony

Leadston, Gary L.

Stewart, R. Gary

Danford, Harry

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tascona, Joseph N.

DeFaria, Carl

McLean, Allan K.

Tilson, David

Doyle, Ed

Munro, Julia

Tsubouchi, David H.

Ecker, Janet

Murdoch, Bill

Turnbull, David

Flaherty, Jim

Mushinski, Marilyn

Vankoughnet, Bill

Fox, Gary

Newman, Dan

Villeneuve, Noble

Froese, Tom

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Galt, Doug

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Witmer, Elizabeth

Grimmett, Bill

Ross, Lillian

Wood, Bob

Guzzo, Garry J.

Runciman, Robert W.

Young, Terence H.

Harnick, Charles

Sampson, Rob


Johnson, Bert

Saunderson, William


The Speaker: All those opposed will please rise and be recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Hoy, Pat

McLeod, Lyn

Bradley, James J.

Kennedy, Gerard

Miclash, Frank

Brown, Michael A.

Kormos, Peter

Morin, Gilles E.

Churley, Marilyn

Kwinter, Monte

Pouliot, Gilles

Conway, Sean G.

Lankin, Frances

Pupatello, Sandra

Duncan, Dwight

Laughren, Floyd

Ramsay, David

Gerretsen, John

Marchese, Rosario

Sergio, Mario

Gravelle, Michael

Martin, Tony


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 52; the nays are 23.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

It now being past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1805.