36th Parliament, 1st Session

L257b - Mon 8 Dec 1997 / Lun 8 Déc 1997





The House met at 1831.


Hon David Turnbull (Minister without Portfolio): I seek unanimous consent to call second reading of An Act to amalgamate the Toronto Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute and to amend the Cancer Act, which stands in the name of Mr Gilchrist.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is there unanimous consent to proceed? It is agreed.


Mr Gilchrist moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 172, An Act to amalgamate the Toronto Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute and to amend the Cancer Act / Loi visant à fusionner l'hôpital de Toronto et l'Institut ontarien du cancer et à modifier la Loi sur le cancer.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member would like to make a statement?

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I would indeed. It gives me great honour to have been asked to be the sponsor of this important piece of legislation, not just for the technical changes that it does make to two different acts, but for the symbolism behind the bill as well.

First, I'd like to draw to the attention of my colleagues on both sides of the House that we're joined today by four individuals from the two merging hospitals. We have Dr Alan Hudson, who of course is the president and CEO of Toronto Hospital and Princess Margaret as well; we have Mr David Allen, the vice-president of public and community affairs; we have Dr John Wright, who's the chair of the medical advisory committee; and we have Ms Bella Martin, who is the legal counsel and director of medical affairs. I appreciate their joining us here in the chamber today.

I would like to first dispose of some of the technical issues that are dealt with in this bill. They're very important, and it sends a tremendous message to the people of Ontario that hospitals across this province have recognized the importance of finding new and better ways of delivering services, that it's not just how many dollars we spend but how they are spent.

As the title of the bill would suggest, the purpose of this bill is to amalgamate two hospitals under one governance structure. Those two hospitals are the Toronto Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute, which is otherwise known as the Princess Margaret Hospital. They'll be amalgamated under one name, the Toronto Hospital.

The bill makes these two hospitals into one corporation and also makes consequential changes to the Cancer Act itself. The Ministry of Health is very supportive of this change. It's my understanding that we'll be hearing from the other two parties later on, and I believe I can say that this bill will find unanimous favour on both sides of the House.

The reason the ministry is as supportive as it is, first off, is that the move is consistent with the recommendation made by our colleague Mr Wood and his agencies, boards and commissions task force, which recommended that all oncology services be moved under one roof in one governance structure. It's consistent with the ministry's direction to integrate radiation treatment services with chemotherapy and surgery wherever possible. The merger is also consistent with the final direction of the Health Services Restructuring Commission, which was issued earlier this year on July 23.

The bill itself will allow a very long-standing series of discussions between these two hospitals to finally come to a conclusion - a very successful conclusion, I might note. It will create one fully integrated cancer treatment centre, one of only five integrated service providers of this kind in all of North America. Surgery, medicine, radiation and chemotherapy will all be provided in one state-of-the-art facility.

There's no doubt that the Ontario Cancer Institute already has a tremendous reputation, not just here in Ontario but across Canada and indeed internationally. Now, once joined with the services that are currently provided at the Toronto Hospital, it can only improve in terms of its stature and the range of services it provides.

As I mentioned earlier, this merger is the culmination of a lot of hard work. This is just the final stage in a long-standing process that dates back five years, five years of quite selfless determination on the part of the two existing boards at the two hospitals to find some common ground and, at the end of the day, to move to in effect eliminate their own positions and create a joint board. All that remains now is for us to pass this statutory effort to ensure that the good works they accomplished in their negotiations are brought to final fruition.

The merger has also been staff-driven. It needed no government direction. It was truly accomplished through the good works of the people who are committed first and foremost to the patients they serve in both those two hospitals. Quite frankly, the focus and the end result of our passing of this bill will be better patient care.

The Princess Margaret Hospital, just to remind everyone, was opened on University Avenue just about two years ago and replaced a much older facility that used to be situated on Sherbourne Street. Giving credit where it's due, I know that former Premier Rae, who lost his brother to leukaemia at the old Princess Margaret facility, was integrally involved or certainly keen to see the sort of direction taken that we are now reflecting in this bill before us here today.

Currently, 40% of the facility at Princess Margaret is sitting empty. The goal of the two hospitals is to move all of the other oncology services across the street and create, in effect, one centre of excellence. Right now, there's no doubt that tremendous patient care is being provided, but when you go to one hospital perhaps for the chemotherapy, you go through the process of signing up as a new patient, filling out all those forms and collecting the information, and then when you go to another facility to have a different service provided, that process is repeated again. So not just in terms of combining the medicine itself but of combining the bureaucratic issues and providing better patient care and a more efficient use of our resources, those too will be inevitable results of this bill.

One of the reasons I was asked to sponsor this bill, as some of my colleagues know, is that I lost someone very special to me to leukaemia nine years ago, and I know the effect this devastating disease has on people, and not just the family; no doubt they were devastated, and certainly my life was changed. But Natalie Munn was also a very fine citizen in her community, recognized for her work coaching figure skating students. In fact, this year one of her former students has reached fourth spot in all of Canada, and it's indeed a bit of a legacy to the work she performed.

While it's sobering to reflect back on those sorts of things, and every one of us in this chamber and most people in Ontario have been touched by the tragedy of cancer, we can't dwell on the past. There is no doubt that no matter where one stands on the issue of hospital restructuring in general, and I would hope that this forum here tonight does not become grist for that mill, we recognize that there will continue to be 25-year-olds struck down by leukaemia, there will continue to be more Natalie Munns.

Until we recognize the importance of dedicating as many dollars as we can to the actual care of patients, to cutting the administrative costs, to focusing dollars on the ailments that are afflicting us today - and, quite frankly, as we've seen health care needs change in this province, in large measure they're a reflection of the fact that the ailments themselves have changed. We're treating diseases that were unheard of 15 and 20 years ago. At the same time, new technologies have come forward, and we have to be certain that at all times this province has the resources to invest in those new technologies so that there is never an argument that can be made that we stand second to anyone else in this world in terms of the care we offer to patients, particularly patients facing the terror and the devastating consequences of something like cancer.


Again, the bill itself, while fairly technical, has to at the same time represent to us through its symbolism one of the main reasons why we're serving in this chamber. I don't think it's too great a stretch to suggest to people on both sides of this House that our goal in seeking office, whether it was motivated by what we saw in the education system, what we saw on our roads or what we saw in health care around us, that our motivation first and foremost is to take a great province and make it better; to find those areas where we're not quite the world's best and make sure that we've dedicated the dollars and the resources to achieve that premier position.

I have no doubt that this bill will serve not just as the legislative vehicle to allow tremendous improvements in patient care offered by the new merger and the merged hospital, but will also serve as a model to other hospitals and other government agencies that their staff, working with the government, can achieve these kinds of innovative approaches to the administration and governance of the issues that we are charged with in this chamber.

At the end of the day, we will have arguably the second or third-best cancer treatment facility in all of North America, and maybe beyond this continent as well. The fact of the matter is, we can look for similar successes in other areas of this province and in other treatment issues as well.

I would call on all of our colleagues to put aside any partisanship as we approach the concept of health restructuring and recognize that the true heroes who are to be applauded for what is before us here today are the doctors and other staff at the Toronto Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute who have invested so much of themselves in this initiative, who have committed their lives to serving patients in Ontario and who have now turned to us to give that one last push to allow this great initiative to come to fruition.

With that, I know my colleagues on the other side of the House are eager to add their comments. I would simply close by encouraging all members to support this important bill on second and third reading this evening.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments? Further debate?

Mr David Caplan (Oriole): I'm pleased to join the debate. I will say at the outset that I and our caucus will support this piece of legislation. We understand and appreciate that this merger is the result of a voluntary and cooperative effort on behalf of both hospitals. These two organizations are already functionally merged and this bill only seeks to make that arrangement legal.

We are helping this bill to pass in order to make sure that patients are not further disadvantaged by cutbacks which are making this merger necessary. In fact, it is important that we put on the record the scale of cuts that these hospitals have endured over the past two years. I'll just summarize very quickly. By the fiscal year 1996-97, Princess Margaret Hospital saw a cut of over $3 million; the Toronto Hospital almost $21 million. In fiscal year 1997-98, this government imposed another cut of $4.25 million on Princess Margaret Hospital and another almost $22.5 million on the Toronto Hospital; $50.5 million in two years out of hospitals here in Metropolitan Toronto, out of cancer care, out of general care. It is important that we remember the context in which this merger is happening.

But again, we are helping this bill to pass in order to make sure that patients are not further disadvantaged by the $50.5 million already withdrawn from these two hospitals. Unlike the government, we will put patients first when we're given an opportunity to do so and that is why we will be supporting this bill.

We are concerned, however, with the loss of the Ontario Cancer Institute from provincial control. Previously the province appointed all 15 directors, including members from several hospitals. With this legislation, the government is moving control to one private, non-profit hospital, and that's the Toronto Hospital.

We're also concerned about the closed nature of governance of this new corporation. The governance only permits a minority of publicly elected members as opposed to ex officio and appointed members, and these are elected from companies and individuals who donate $1,000 or more. We recognize that other new merged institutions, such as Humber River Regional Hospital, which has no public membership at all, are even more closed, but an opportunity to create a community connection and better accountability has been missed.

I would also acknowledge that the Toronto Hospital board at least meets in public. I would encourage other hospitals to adopt this same practice, a practice that the Toronto Hospital has pledged to continue. I think that public accountability is well served when the doors are open and community members are allowed to know what's happening in their institutions.

While I understand the logistical reasons for supporting this bill, it should be in no way misconstrued or taken that I or my caucus accept the government's general direction where health care restructuring is concerned. We believe fundamentally that Mike Harris and the Conservative government are on the wrong track as far as health care in the province of Ontario is concerned, that closing hospitals is not good for patient care.

In fact, this government believes or seems to believe that bigger is somehow better. I certainly don't subscribe to that notion. I know when I read the documentation that was put forward by Mr Harris and the Conservative government during the election, they didn't seem to subscribe to that notion either. It's funny how times have changed and how actions certainly have not lived up to the words during that election period in 1995.

This new Toronto Hospital Corp will have a budget of approximately $640 million per year, nearly one tenth of the whole hospital budget for the province. It is an immense corporation. It is an immense responsibility and I certainly trust that the parties to this agreement, mainly the Toronto Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, the provincial government and the Minister of Health will accept the responsibility to provide world-class patient care, research and cancer treatment.

We here in the Liberal Party will continue to monitor the situation and will hold the government accountable should these goals not be met under the proposed arrangement. That is our role. We take it very seriously and I hope the government members too would hold their front bench - the Premier, their Minister of Health - accountable should the goals of providing patient care, research and cancer treatment not be met.

Mike Harris's government has wreaked havoc on health care and on the health care community since it took office. Cuts to hospital budgets and ordered closures have indeed put patient care at risk. In fact, I would say that with the undue haste we've seen, with the lack of vision, as the current Minister of Health has said exists or does not exist within this government, I believe that this government has botched health care reform from the outset. They had no plan; they still have no plan. They had no vision; they still have no vision.

We hope that the appropriate supports will be put in place to allow this merger to be successful. I don't think anyone would disagree that it is important to have the appropriate community and province-wide supports in order to have a health care system which meets the needs of patients.


There are numerous examples across the province of orders to close, merge or amalgamate local hospitals which have gone awry. This government sent in Dr Sinclair and his commission to drop the bombs, to leave communities to make sense of what's left. That is a real shame, because it is the responsibility of this government, of this Premier, of this Minister of Health to make decisions, to have a vision, to have a plan for patient care, not to tear it all apart and leave it to local communities to try to fit those pieces back together like a jigsaw puzzle, without having the cover and without having the box.

They've left no plan, aside from taking dollars out, because that is in fact the true agenda of this government: to take dollars out, not to put patient care first. I implore the government, I implore the members opposite, I implore the Minister of Health and I implore the Premier, please put patients first. You can enhance services. If that is truly your goal, you can provide those services to people who desperately need them.

We will be following the ramifications of this merger. What this bill does is legalize the creation of possibly the largest mega-hospital in the country. With the support of the University of Toronto, this new corporation can wield great power, and it can be wielded for good or for ill. It is the responsibility of the board of the hospital, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that it is directed towards patients. I issue a caution to be wary of this reality. I hope this merger turns out to be in the patients' best interests. I know that we on the opposition side in the Liberal caucus will do what we can to ensure that patients' interests come first, but we will follow this bill with great interest and ensure that patients and patient care is protected, not only in Metropolitan Toronto but in Ontario.

I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity of joining in tonight's debate.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions? Further debate?

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): It's a pleasure for me to be able to rise this evening in support of this bill brought in by the member for Scarborough East, which has long been looked forward to as the legal way in which to make real a process that has gone on for a very long time and for which many people have worked and hoped for a long time. I too welcome those from both Princess Margaret and the Toronto General Hospital and congratulate them for the work they've done in voluntarily bringing these two organizations together.

It is indeed an important task they have undertaken. I think most of us wish that hospital mergers could be accomplished with this kind of cooperation and this kind of focus on the purpose of the two organizations that are joining. It's very much to the credit of all those who have worked so hard on the staff and on the boards of these two organizations that we're here doing the sort of penultimate legal action that makes real what you have attempted do.

When our government funded the change of location of Princess Margaret Hospital, it was an investment on the part of the people of Ontario into the kind of care program that we knew would be important for the new century, that the increasing numbers of people who require the kind of intensive expertise in cancer care that has long been recognized at Princess Margaret Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute was something that needed to be a focus of attention. The kind of facilities that were able to be built through that investment, the closeness to the other university hospitals, was an extremely important part of trying to ensure that that investment would result in concentrated care, research and teaching around cancer.

Today we see that dream becoming a reality in a very real way, and it is important for all of us to recognize that.

The member for Oriele remarked that this will become a mega-hospital, a huge corporation. Certainly reading the bill, it focuses of course on the legal entity, the corporation. It will be a large corporation. I think it is only fair to say that there are many people in this province who have some qualms about the growing corporatization of health care and will be looking very hard at the way in which this merger works for the benefit of patients and for the benefit of all of Ontario, I would say even Canada, as a result of the teaching and research that will happen.

I think it's important, given that the issue of corporatization has been raised, to read out the objectives of this corporation as they are laid out in the bill. The objects of the corporation, under section 4 of the bill, are:

Most primary, "(a) to establish and provide programs of patient care and community health, and to equip, maintain, operate and conduct hospital teaching and research facilities;

"(b) to maintain and operate, among other priority programs, facilities known as the Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital for cancer research, diagnosis and treatment;

"(c) to conduct programs of education and research in fields of health in association with the University of Toronto or with other persons;

"(d) to accept donations, gifts, legacies and bequests for use in promoting the objects of and carrying on the work of the corporation."

I'm very pleased that patient care is there first and foremost as the object of the corporation. I think those of us who have had reason to experience the care at Princess Margaret Hospital or at the Toronto General Hospital have no doubt about the focus of the desire of the medical staff, the other health care professionals and workers at those two institutions to make sure that patient care is of a level that all of us can look to for excellence. I have no doubt that that will happen.

I think those of us who know how important it is to consolidate expertise and to ensure that we are conducting the work that is done in facilities that are going to add to the efficiency and the effectiveness of work know that this amalgamation is a good thing. It is going to result in the maximum use of space, the maximum use of staff, the maximum use of dollars, and all of us ought to be proud of that.

I have some concerns in that when we see mergers, we do of course see changes in the human resource picture. Although the staff continuation in section 14 of this bill guarantees that each person who is a member of the medical staff of the Ontario Cancer Institute, including the Princess Margaret Hospital or the Toronto Hospital, continues as a member of the medical staff of the corporation for the term of his or her appointment, there is no such guarantee for other staff members at the hospital. I think we have seen a growing concern about the plight of health care professionals, in particular nurses, as the changes in health care have happened. I sincerely hope that the human resource plan which goes along with this amalgamation will ensure that the talents of those health care professionals, particularly nurses, are honoured and are seen to be an important function of that patient care picture.

I would say that we of course will be supporting the passage of this bill. It is indeed a unique occasion. I can only think of one other occasion on which a bill has been introduced and has gone through second and third reading all in one day. I think that those who have worked so hard for this merger should see this as a mark of the support of all parties for the work they are doing, and I hope that we will be confirmed in our faith in the new amalgamated corporation as it moves forward.


The Acting Speaker: Mr Gilchrist has moved second reading of Bill 172. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? It is carried.

The Chair recognizes the member for Scarborough East.

Mr Gilchrist: I seek unanimous consent to move third reading of An Act to amalgamate the Toronto Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute and to amend the Cancer Act.

The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed? It is agreed.

Mr Gilchrist moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 172, An Act to amalgamate the Toronto Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute and to amend the Cancer Act / Loi visant à fusionner l'hôpital de Toronto et l'Institut ontarien du cancer et à modifier la Loi sur le cancer.

The Acting Speaker: Does the member have a statement?

Mr Gilchrist: Simply to reiterate the comments that have been made all around. I appreciate the support from the other two parties. The member for London Centre has in fact indicated the significance of this bill: Very rarely has a bill made first, second and third reading the same day. I thank both the other two parties for their comments.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Gilchrist has moved third reading of Bill 172, An Act to amalgamate the Toronto Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute and to amend the Cancer Act. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? It is carried.

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


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 139, An Act to promote the conservation of fish and wildlife through the revision of the Game and Fish Act / Projet de loi 139, Loi visant à promouvoir la protection du poisson et de la faune en révisant la Loi sur la chasse et la pêche.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Sudbury East had the floor when we left off the day before, so I recognize the member.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): When I was finishing up on the last day that we debated this bill, I had indicated that the final concern I wanted to raise had to do with whether or not I thought the Ministry of Natural Resources actually had the ability to enforce the legislation that it is putting forward. But before I get to that, I want to return to one section which upon review of the bill I continue to find very worrisome and have not had a good indication from the ministry as to why so much of the power authorized to the minister is permitted through this particular legislation. There are any number of sections in this bill where the minister has quite overwhelming ability and capability to either provide authorization to other individuals or to do any number of things in regulation which I just don't think are necessary.

If I can look at the particular section that I have the specific concern with, it is subsection 62(6), which reads as follows: "The minister may, in an authorization given under this act, permit for the purpose of the authorization any act or omission that would otherwise contravene this act or the regulations."

The power that is provided to the minister under this particular section is fairly wide-sweeping. You might as well not even have a bill. The minister might as well on his own in regulation determine whatever it is he wants to do or doesn't want to do, whether it's in agreement with this act or whether it isn't.

In looking at a synopsis that was done of the bill, I find that other people are concerned about that as well. There is greatly increased use of ministerial authorizations throughout the proposed act. There can be no rational explanation or excuse for providing this degree of authority in this wide myriad of situations. This approach is simply irresponsible. At the very least, ministry staff will be delegated the authority of exercising the majority of the ministerial authorizations, and this means that a great number of people will be in a position to potentially abuse the very broad powers afforded to the minister.

The related concern is not just that the minister, through the authorization, can either move things that are completely contrary to the act or opposed to the act, but the minister also has the authority to delegate the responsibility to do that to other people.

I was part of another bill brought forward by this same ministry earlier in the fall, the Aggregate Resources Act, where again in regulation the minister granted himself the ability to delegate his responsibility to any number of people, and for the purposes of that act they did not have to be ministerial staff. They could be members of the public, members of interest groups attached to the ministry. I don't think the public is interested in having that kind of responsibility passed on to members of the general public who are not accountable back to this assembly, and that's what happened under the Aggregate Resources Act. That's what I see happening under this act.

People in this province believe that resources, like fish and wildlife, like aggregates, like timber, belong to all of the people of the province and the crown must continue to have responsibility for that and jurisdiction over that, and when there is an abuse of that, be responsible and accountable as well.

I continue to be very concerned that any number of sections in this bill allow the minister sweeping powers to operate directly in contravention of the bill as it's set out, but also allows the minister to delegate that authority to other people to do the same. I see absolutely no good reason for that to happen. The minister and ministry staff should continue to be responsible for protection of resources in this province and the public should be guaranteed that the protection will remain in place and not be delegated to people outside the ministry who have no accountability back to this assembly.

My final concern is that of the ability of the ministry to actually enforce this act. I listened to the minister talk about any number of new enforcement tools listed in the act, particularly in the area of fines, the level of those fines, and with respect to the statute of limitations, which will now be extended from six months to two years.

I think it's fine and dandy that we would have a piece of legislation that talks about new enforcement measures, but the fact of the matter is this ministry is in no position to enforce its act. This is a ministry that during 1996-97 cut its annual budget by $90 million and reduced its staff by over 2,100 people. Many of those 2,100 people are the same people who used to be on the ground in our communities protecting fish and wildlife, protecting forests, protecting aggregate resources. They are no longer employed. They are no longer in the business of doing that. I think it's irresponsible of the ministry to put forward a bill where they try to promote increased protection, at the same time not telling the public that, due to the fact that half of the staff of MNR have been laid off, they will be unable to enforce this bill.

I understand that the government will be moving a motion here this evening to have some public hearings on Thursday morning. I look forward to those public hearings Thursday morning and the clause-by-clause Thursday afternoon because I believe that while there is general and good support for the principles of this bill, there are several groups who continue to have legitimate concerns which this assembly should address.

The ministry should look at this bill as an opportunity to put in place a very good act that will serve us well for a long period of time. I hope that the minister's staff is open to some amendments on Thursday morning so we can be guaranteed that the legislation we put in place will be good and serve the purpose for a long time to come.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): Throughout the debate on Bill 139 I'm pleased to see that there's a fair degree of consensus from across the floor, from the opposition and the third party. I'm also pleased to suggest that the bill will proceed to committee and it will have a half-day of public hearings and a half-day of clause-by-clause discussion. It has lots of all-party support for that process.


The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

The member for Sudbury East has two minutes to respond.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I was waiting for the Liberals to get up.

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry. No one got up, and so the member for Sudbury East has two minutes to respond.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would ask for unanimous consent to allow the rotation to continue on questions or comments.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Cochrane South requests unanimous consent. Agreed? It's agreed.

Mr Bisson: Here I am trying to help my colleague and he doesn't get up.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: Sometimes you lead these fights and you find out you're alone.

I want to take this opportunity to comment on the member for Sudbury East and the work that she has put into understanding this bill. I just want for the record to clarify that there has been a lot of work done on this particular issue over the past number of years. Our government, as you know, had introduced a bill to the House, and unfortunately with the election coming on, as it will come on for you, we never got an opportunity to get to second reading on the bill.

I want to say about the member for Sudbury East as well that she always does a lot of work in looking at the detail of a bill. I thought she did a really good job of getting up and taking a look at the various aspects of the bill as they apply to the issues that we are trying to deal with. However, I want a bit of clarification from the member for Sudbury East, and that is to go through again technically so that we understand the powers that the minister is taking for himself through this bill. I'm getting more and more concerned as I look at legislation go through this House that ministers fairly often tend to put clauses into the bills that give them powers to do all kinds of things outside of the norm.

I understand as a legislator that it's normal to give ministers the power to do regulation, but if I understood what the member for Sudbury East had to say, what the minister is doing by way of this bill is not only giving himself power to enact and to design regulations around this bill but is going far past what is normally accepted practice when it comes to drafting bills and when it comes to the ability of the minister to deal with what's going on with regulation. Iit almost sounds as if the minister is taking power to be able to supersede legislation in this case. I'd like to have those clarifications.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions? The Chair recognizes the member for Thunder Bay.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): Fort William, Mr Speaker, at least until the next election.

The Acting Speaker: My apologies.

Mrs McLeod: I was a little bit surprised to hear the member for Halton North comment on all-party agreement on the bill going forward, which I suspect will be seen to be true, at least on second reading. We're all glad to see that after literally many years of discussion of this Game and Fish Act and the need for amendments, the need for updating the Game and Fish Act, the government is bringing this forward. But when the member for Halton North speaks about all-party agreement, I think he should recognize that the reason there is some degree of consensus finally, after all these years, is that some of the major areas in which there was no consensus over a 15- to 20-year period have simply been left out of the bill. The government has chosen not to address them rather than trying to resolve those issues.

I think, for example, of one of the very contentious issues that I know of as a former Minister of Natural Resources, and I'm sure the member for Algoma will identify with this as another former Minister of Natural Resources: the whole issue about commercial farming of deer, for example, and the concern about the importation of species which are not native to the area, how that might potentially conflict with farming, but which is clearly from an agricultural perspective something which people would like to get into to diversify our agricultural base. That whole issue has simply not been addressed in this bill. It has been set aside.

The whole area of fish farming - I think that's another area, the aqua industry, which has become an increasingly significant part of our economic development - again raises a number of questions in relationship to the conservation of our fishery resources, recreational fishing as well as commercial fishing, apart from fish farming. The whole question of the conflict and some of the concerns that have been raised by the aqua industry about this bill are simply unaddressed. That's why we need to go to committee.

I guess the other thing that surprised me in the comments of the member for Halton North is saying we only have half a day. I don't know how those long-standing controversies can be resolved in half a day of committee hearings.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions? The Chair recognizes the member for Sudbury East, who has two minutes to respond.

Ms Martel: I would like to thank the members for Halton North, Cochrane South and Fort William for participating in the debate. Very briefly with respect to each, if I might:

With respect to the member for Halton North, I am pleased to see that the government has agreed to some hearings on this. They will be limited, but by the same token there has been general widespread support, so I would hope the ministry staff who will be in attendance will be prepared to accept some amendments, particularly with respect to fish farmers, because they have raised the most concerns, and that we can use this as a really good opportunity for a good piece of legislation.

Secondly, to the member for Cochrane South, I still have a very specific concern which has not been dealt with. It has to do with the quite extraordinary powers of the Minister of Natural Resources under the bill. If I go back to the specific section, under subsection 62(6) it says, "The minister may, in an authorization given under this act, permit for the purpose of the authorization any act or omission that would otherwise contravene this act or its regulations."

So the minister has the power to agree with the act or not, to agree with the regulations or not, to step outside and be actually quite contradictory to everything that appears in the bill we're trying to bring forward here tonight. Not only can the minister do all that, but the minister can also assign authorization to other people to do the same. As I said in my remarks earlier, I do not believe the public gets any comfort from knowing that the minister, with such sweeping powers in the bill, can then turn around and allow that authorization to continue to extend to people who are outside of the ministry. There is no accountability in that respect, there is no protection for the natural resources of the province, and I think people should be extremely concerned about the magnitude, the very sweeping powers that we're granting, and the minister's ability to do that.

One final comment: Again I raise with the ministry that I remain very concerned that despite the support for this act, we will not be in a position to enforce this bill in this province because of the huge cuts to MNR staff done completely by this government.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Chudleigh: I'm going to make just one brief comment on the point the member for Sudbury East raises regarding the ministerial authorizations. This is a very similar situation to that -

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I seem to remember the member having debated at second reading this particular bill. Has he already debated?

The Acting Speaker: Not according to our records, no.

Mr Chudleigh: No, I haven't. I've done two-minute hits on it, but I haven't debated.

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. The Chair recognizes the member for Halton North.

Mr Chudleigh: This is not a point of order, but it's a very brief comment. This new section 6 is very similar to section 52 in the current act, and it deals in a clarified way with the way in which a lot of those authorizations are applied currently. It allows scientists to go in and take samples. It allows academics to go in and take samples in certain cases and in certain locations. That was the purpose of that clause being rewritten that way. If indeed there is clarity to it, we'd be glad to talk about those clarities in committee on Thursday.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I'd like to take up on a point that was made a little bit earlier. It deals with the fact that we all know that within the Ministry of Natural Resources there have been a tremendous number of budget cuts, and about 20% of the conservation officers throughout Ontario, in my understanding, have been relieved of their duties. Within the MNR offices in many localities -


The Acting Speaker: I hate to interrupt, but you do realize that your questions and comments are confined to the member's debate in front of you?

Mr Gerretsen: My questions and comments surely can relate to the bill itself, a bill that has taken many years and many different governments to actually bring to fruition. As has already been pointed out, the more controversial aspects of the issues that relate to the matters raised in this bill aren't even in this bill.

Surely, Mr Speaker, you will agree with me that it is somewhat - I don't want to say "hypocritical" because I know I cannot say that, but it is somewhat unrealistic for a government to bring a bill like this forward, yet at the same time get rid of 20% of the conservation officers throughout the province and also get rid of an awful lot of the MNR positions throughout Ontario. They've closed many of the offices in the county I'm from, the county of Frontenac. In the northern part of the county, many people rely on the services that are available through the Ministry of Natural Resources, and they are no longer available. Offices are being closed and positions are being eliminated, all because of the tremendous budget cuts that have taken place within the ministry.

It may be all right to pass this kind of bill, but if we're not going to enforce it, we really haven't done anybody any favours at all. I say to the ministry representative, be sure to do the work and do it properly with the manpower you need to do the job.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Comments and questions?

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I just wanted to briefly point out that this government can bring forth all kinds of legislation, but in the case of the MNR they don't have the manpower to enforce any rules and regulations or new fines or whatever. As the member for Sudbury East pointed out, they've cut close to $100 million out of the MNR and they've fired over 2,000 employees. The last count we have is 2,100 employees that they have eliminated from MNR.

This is a piece of legislation that we don't have any problem supporting, because of the amendments we're going to be dealing with on Thursday morning, but when you're talking about what they've gone through over the last two and a half years with the reductions and the closing of offices, the firing of staff - it's not only the MNR, but the MNR is the one that got hit the hardest in northern Ontario. A lot of the communities depended on these employees, their families, the volunteer work they were doing in the communities. They've taken all the control and brought it down to Mike Harris's office. Now you've got a Minister of Natural Resources from Mississauga, Mr Snobelen. He's going to bring all the control down to Toronto and probably close more offices as a result.

We can have all kinds of legislation, but when you've got nobody to enforce the rules and regulations, what happens to our game and fish and all the wildlife that's out there when they start decimating the offices that were scattered all throughout Ontario?

The Acting Speaker: I hardly know how to do this without it sounding like a lecture, but in this House we debate and then we have comments and questions, and those comments and questions are supposed to relate to the debate of the speaker prior.

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Right on, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Order.

If a person wants to make general comments about a bill, that is properly done with his turn in debate. That is arranged usually with your House leader.

Mr Bisson: We can keep debating all night if you want.

The Acting Speaker: Order, or you may not be here all night.

What I'm suggesting is that that kind of debate is done with your turn at debate. That is arranged by your leader.

Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: According to our rules, after the first opening speech has been given by each party - according to the rules 60 minutes is allowed for that - each other speech may be up to 20 minutes. If a member gets up and basically makes a statement that takes 20 to 30 seconds, that member in effect leaves himself or herself open to having whatever is being said about the bill in general open to debate. That's exactly what questions and answers are all about. This member did that.

The Acting Speaker: Please take your seat. That is a point of order, but in this case I'm saying that you're completely wrong.

The Chair recognizes the member for Fort William.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I was prepared to participate in questions and comments; I was on my feet earlier. But if you're still taking points of order, I'll defer to that.

The Acting Speaker: No, comments and questions.

Mrs McLeod: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I had risen earlier, before your comments, to respond to the contribution of the member for Halton North to the debate, although it was a somewhat narrowly defined contribution that the member for Halton North made; it was very brief.

In respect of your ruling, what I had risen to my feet to address was the absence of participation of Conservative members in discussing the potential merits of this Fish and Game Act which is before us. It's in that context that I wanted to comment on what is not addressed in the bill. Why I think it's difficult for the Conservative members to do more than make a five-minute contribution to the debate is because this is a very small piece of the government's overall agenda as it relates to the whole area of the management of our natural resources, in particular our forestry resources, and clearly the management of our forestry resources has a direct bearing on the management of our fish and game resources.

It's very difficult for any of us to participate in this debate on the Fish and Game Act outside of the context of this government's dealing with our forestry resource. I know other members have already commented on the cuts; that will certainly be something the member for Timiskaming wants to discuss when he gets on his feet to make his contribution to this debate.

I just want to highlight a couple of things that I wish the Tory members would speak to when they have a chance to debate. That's the question of where their government is on implementation of the class environmental assessment on timber management - again, a somewhat narrow although very significant part of the forest management, but something where the government cut back on the implementation of the recommendations from that class environmental assessment on timber management by something like $19 million, almost half the budget. So when the members talk about the inability of the ministry to enforce the current act, we also have to talk about the refusal of the ministry to even implement the recommendations on timber management that came from the class environmental assessment.

I'd also like the members to talk about the Lands for Life program and where that is going and how that impacts the very management of efficient game resources.

Mr Bisson: To the member for Halton North, I listened intently to his very brief comments. The reason I raised this concern initially around the power the minister is taking is that I know, as you do, the kind of changes that the ministry has made and that your government has made to this ministry.

I refer back to Hansard, page E-948, from the debates at the committee on August 20, 1997, where the Minister of Natural Resources said, "For example, during the 1996-97 fiscal year we helped to reduce the cost and size of government by reducing the ministry's operating budget by $89.8 million and reducing staff by 2,100 positions." That's half the staff at MNR.

Our concern, and the reason I made the comments originally, is how in heck can the MNR enforce this bill, even if we agree with it - there is all-party agreement on the bill - when you don't have people in the field to enforce what we're putting in place in this bill? That's the point we're making. When we take a look at the bill, where you're giving yourselves power - and it might very well be power that was in the previous act; I'll have to go back and check that - the point is, it's sort of a weasel clause to allow the minister to say: "This act is not going to apply to me. I don't have to do what's in this act because, quite frankly, I haven't got the staff to enforce it in the first place."


That's why we raise this particular issue. We think the bill goes in the right direction. There's all-party agreement for a good part of what's in this bill, but when we see sections like that in the bill and we couple that with the kinds of cuts you've made at MNR, where you've taken 50% of the staff away, you know, I know and, more important, the public of Ontario knows the MNR is not going to be in any position to enforce this act. That's why we raise the question of the ministerial powers.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Halton North has two minutes to respond.

Mr Chudleigh: No comment.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I am pleased to be able to speak on this bill. It has been mentioned previously by the member for Fort William that this bill was started years and years ago and had revisions over the last two governments in order to reach some sort of consensus on some of the less contentious issues contained in the fish and game debate.

As the member for Fort William has stated, the most contentious issues have not been dealt with in this bill. They really need to be, and I would encourage the government to do further study and further consultation on key areas that I think would really help economic activity in the province as a whole, and especially northern Ontario, and that would be in the whole area of aquaculture and domestic farming of wildlife species such as the European domestic deer.

These are areas that, yes, are highly controversial because wildlife officials feel that if some of these domestic animals escape, there could be a detrimental impact upon our native species. That is certainly a valid concern and really would have to be addressed. If such authorization were to go ahead in northern Ontario for this expansion of agricultural activity, very strict requirements would have to be put in place and strictly adhered to in order to safeguard our natural resources in northern Ontario. There are two areas for sure that have not been touched upon that really have to be dealt with.

But I mentioned in earlier debate, just as, I guess, a friendly heckle across the way to the government members, what a difference a week makes. What I was referring to is the highly contentious issues the government, of course, was bringing before the House last week with the education amendment act and with municipal download.

The big difference between those areas and this week is that this is an act that has had a lot of consultation with all the different people who are out there, who have varying points of views on this, but it has been widely consulted. Maybe it has been consulted for too long. I'm not saying you need to consult over a period of a couple of governments, but the idea is that you bring in, when you've got contentious issues, all the various interest groups and really start to consult with those people on the most important issues that pertain to the subject matter.

People should understand that this is quite a large bill, maybe not quite as large as the bill we dealt with last week in Bill 160, but we're still talking about a 60-page act here that deals with all sorts of regulations in regard to the management of wildlife and hunting. It goes on from general restrictions of hunting and dealing with species to protecting nests and eggs and also protecting dens and beaver dams. It really goes beyond the protection that we used to have in our Fish and Game Act in the past, really brings it up to the modern day. I think internally what most people would say is that a lot of this is housekeeping. It is renewing an act that protects our wildlife in Ontario and brings it up to the standards and quality that we would consider today.

Safety in methods: It refers to things like unsafe areas for hunting and hunter clothing and the careless use of firearms and new penalties for that, which is very important, bringing that up to today; ways that I suppose in the old days we used to accept in hunting animals, such as that you could shoot a bear while it was swimming. This would be prohibited in this bill, which is right. It talks about birds of prey and hunting with dogs and all the different aspects of dealing with wildlife in Ontario and bringing this up to the modern day, and this is very important.

We have an act before us today that all three parties accept. We understand, as our predecessors did in this House many years ago who first brought in the Game and Fish Act, that it is of paramount importance to our environment and to our economy to protect all our wildlife species. We have more sensitivity to the importance of that, both for the environment and our economy today, with the great help of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, who have worked very closely with all three parties in the House and this government in bringing this forward.

They have contributed tremendous amounts of energy and good ideas about how to protect the natural resources. They understand that while for the environment it's important to protect our natural resources, it's also very important to protect our natural resources because of the tremendous recreational opportunity that fish and game present to the people of Ontario and to visitors whom we allow to harvest wildlife in our province. They are very important and the anglers and hunters respect that.

One of the things this act does is add to the protected list different species in this province. It is very important that we continually take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of certain species and make sure we update our endangered species list from time to time to ensure we are doing the very best to protect our endangered species. Unfortunately, we tend to have to add species from time to time. I wish it was going the other way and we were able to take species off the list, but sad to say that is not the case.

Not only are more species added to the list, but greater protections are put on in more specific ways to protect certain species. One example of that is that there are greater protections granted to black bears in this act. For instance, the possession of black bear gall bladders separate from the carcass is now prohibited. This is to prevent the poaching of black bears solely for parts such as gall bladders that are highly sought after in certain parts of this world, so we prevent the wholesale slaughter of those animals just for certain parts and the rest of that animal is wasted. It also will be illegal to interfere with bears in their dens in any way and that is an important change in this. As I mentioned earlier, bears are no longer even to be hunted while they are swimming.

In most species there are new protections put forward that should protect our wildlife species in the province. To enforce that there are new, stiffer penalties, longer periods of potential incarceration and greater amounts of fines, to bring them up into the modern day. In fact commercial penalties under the act are increased up to $100,000 or imprisonment up to two years. There are some very stiff penalties that are now being brought forward into this act to protect our wildlife. The prohibition of possession of animals that were legally taken from another jurisdiction is now there, so even if you cross the Ontario border and can show that you may have procured these carcasses in another jurisdiction, that still would be illegal in Ontario and our MNR enforcement officers could act.

As mentioned earlier, there are some very good increased protections in this act for our wildlife that we all agree with. The big concern that many of us have is the lack of enforcement ability of our Ministry of Natural Resources because of the sustained cuts that this ministry has taken. In fact, this ministry on a per capita basis has sustained more cuts than any other ministry in the government. Forty-three per cent of the workforce of MNR has been let go. That's 2,170 positions and that is a very great concern.

The previous minister had promised us that the enforcement officers of natural resources who are charged with the responsibility of protecting our wildlife would not be touched, but we understand that there are up to 20% fewer conservation officers out there. I would say to the government it is important that we keep our person power resources in the ministry for sure in conservation efforts. If the word were to get out to people that there is a lack of enforcement of this new bill that provides better enforcement for all concerned with our wildlife, we would be putting our wildlife in jeopardy, and that is something in Ontario we do not want to do.

It's very important that we make sure we protect our wildlife and make sure we have proper enforcement. I think the proper penalties are here and the proper enforcement mechanisms are here. That's important. We have to make sure now that we have the ability to carry them out. I see the parliamentary assistant is paying very close attention and I'm very pleased about that and hope he'll pass that on to the minister.


There are some other concerns I want to bring up. With these 2,170 positions that have been reduced in the Ministry of Natural Resources, as a northerner who comes from a big riding in northeastern Ontario and soon by the next election to be much, much larger, there has been a significant economic impact on our region, on northern Ontario as a whole especially, with this loss of 2,170 people. This is a region with 10% of the population of Ontario and the vast majority of these 2,170 people coming from the north. These people have been very well paid, have good benefits and have a tremendous economic impact on our communities.

Every time the government announces these layoffs I try to explain to the business community in our towns and villages, many of whom are supportive of obviously a greater private sector as I am, if that's what we could do, to have a greater contribution by the private sector of the economy and maybe not so great by the public sector. When you make these moves so quickly in northern Ontario, a region of the province that is so dependent whether you like that or not on these public sector jobs, it has a severe impact on our economy. It's our main streets that get hurt and it's our professionals who get hurt, because, as I've said, many of these people have great benefits and so they've got the plans to be able to go to the dentist and the optometrist. So everybody in our community, from the smallest business person right up to all our professionals, gets hurt.

It has a snowball effect on our economy and I ask that the government take a second look at a cost-benefit study, the economic impact that you have when you do this downloading in northern Ontario. It has a horrendous impact and we're starting to feel that now from the previous downloading and reducing of the size of the bureaucracy in the north. This will be exacerbated after the passage of Bill 160. Starting next September, we will see the loss of another group of professionals, teachers, across northern Ontario. Again, it's going to have a compounding impact on our economy when those people with good salaries and wages leave our communities to seek jobs elsewhere. That is going to really hurt the north, so I ask the government to take a look at that.

It's important to point out that while the government's philosophy is that if there's somehow less public sector involvement in the economy it will allow an opportunity for the private sector to expand, that correlation doesn't necessarily happen in the north. When you have a fairly closed economy that is by and large dependent upon resource-extractive industries, that correlation of, say, getting rid of some government jobs doesn't necessarily mean, and it sure hasn't meant and I'm sure it won't mean, an expansion of private sector jobs.

In fact, right now is unfortunately a very sad example that with the international price of gold dropping well below US$300, we are seeing miners being laid off, mines being shut down. There are private sector jobs, but while the public sector is diminishing those jobs are also diminishing. Northern Ontario right now is being hit, if you will, by a double whammy. We are in a low cycle of commodity demand, so the price of copper is down, nickel is down. That affects all of northern Ontario. As I've mentioned, gold is down. We're not getting in the north the private sector picking up as I know the government thinks and hopes it will and it does to some degree in southern Ontario.

You have to take a look at northern Ontario before you make those cuts, because we are so dependent on the natural resources. It's always been the thinking actually, I think of all governments up until now in this province, that there was an understanding that the public sector work by ministries like the MNR, the Ministry of Northern Development and all the other industries that are there to support the people in northern Ontario, form an underpinning to the economy that really helps us weather the cyclical swings of the boom-and-bust cycle that we have in northern Ontario. But as you start to drastically reduce the number of people who participate in public sector jobs in the north, you leave us extremely vulnerable to those cyclical changes in our economy. As we enter this downturn of the lack of demand for raw materials, raw commodities, that we're in right now, we are becoming extremely vulnerable to severe dislocation in northern Ontario.

I will predict, and I don't like to predict this, that you are about to see an incredible downturn in the economy of northern Ontario, and it's important for this government to rethink the reduction of the jobs in the north because we cannot sustain any more, especially at this particular time of downloading.

I'd like to mention, just before I finish my remarks, the Lands for Life process that this government has embarked upon. It certainly worries me that there's a lack of public understanding about what this exercise concerns. The idea of granting kind of a permanent tenure to the various interest groups, in a sense carving up the north and all the crown land in Ontario between the various user groups for a life tenure, is a bit disconcerting, while it's important to give some certainty to people who are in the forest industry that they've got the use of those lands for sure and they've also got the responsibility of sustainability in protecting those lands and replanting and generating.

It's very important to understand that for over 90% of the land base, it may be near impossible to try to superimpose an official plan and zoning bylaw on that region, and I think that's what Lands for Life is attempting to do. It's going to be a great challenge and I think what it's doing is again bringing everybody who is in conflict with each other to the table. I hope that it's going to be possible for this process to work and that people are fair in how they decide what is going to happen.

Mr Speaker, if you'll allow me, I wouldn't mind sharing the last few minutes, if that's okay, with the -


Mr Ramsay: Okay. I understand it's all right, Mr Speaker, that we're going to do a second rotation. That's fine. I will take my time and speak to the end.

I would say to the government that while they are going to get support for this bill, I believe from all three parties, we've got to address these other contentious issues. I know the parliamentary assistant has a good interest in agriculture, as I do, and I think it's important that we find some sort of balance - I will state my position on this - so that we do not deprive our agricultural industry of expanding into these new niche markets that are out there.

In fact, it is the trend in the world that as we lessen our dependency on wild or natural resources, we find domestic ways to produce food, protein sources, etc. Aquaculture is a prime example of that where the nations, our nation included, that have shoreline on the oceans have started to take great advantage and have invested many dollars in research and development in finding new ways of growing protein in the oceans.

I think we have to make sure that we who have a vast freshwater resource explore to the utmost safe and sustainable ways of growing protein in our freshwater resources and also that we look at our tremendous land base across Ontario that is not suitable for all commodities and that we are able to free our agricultural industry to exploit to the very best and most sustainable way those commodities that are best suited for that particular land base. I think that might include some of these domesticated breeds of formerly wild animals that have come from other jurisdictions. The spotted European deer that you see in different restaurants is a very popular commodity and something we could farm. It would take some of the pressure off our wild species.

I would encourage the government to look at that. I think you'd get a lot of encouragement in this House to find some compromise on that and to allow some of that to go forward. I think that's very important. If I may, I'd enter that as a challenge to the government, to the parliamentary assistant and to the new minister. We've come this far on Bill 139, and there are still some other challenges ahead. We should move ahead, and I think you'd find that you'd get a lot of cooperation from the other parties in this House.


The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Ms Martel: I'd like to reinforce some of the points made by the member for Timiskaming, two in particular. The first has to do with the enormous staff cuts that have been made at the Ministry of Natural Resources, about half the total ministry staff. That certainly puts at risk the natural resources in the province, and it makes it clear to all of us that the ability of this ministry to enforce this new act is pretty sketchy.

The real concern, though, has to do with the disproportionate hit to northern Ontario with respect to those layoffs. The member for Timiskaming was quite right to point out that in many of the communities we represent, those of us who are here from northern Ontario, that hit, both to MNR and MTO, has been very, very difficult. In a community like Temagami, for example, some 50 MNR jobs were cut in 1996. That would have represented the bulk of the employment in that particular community. It's the same again and again, community to community, right across northern Ontario. In fact, in terms of the proportion in the staff cuts in 1996, 55% of the cuts occurred in the south; 45% occurred in northern Ontario, with a little less than 10% of the overall population of the province. In terms of public sector job cuts and devastation to our communities, that has been very apparent in the part of the province we represent, northern Ontario. The government has to come to terms with how it has played that out and how it is very much responsible for the devastation in many of those communities.

With respect to fish farmers and the aquaculture industry, a topic I raised in my remarks, it is an area that had $14 million worth of value at the farm gate in 1995. The folks would like to be considered as an agricultural activity, and they should be, because under two other ministries they already are. I hope the government is open to change when we get to committee on Thursday.

Mr Chudleigh: I appreciate the comments from the member for Timiskaming, particularly his comments about the consultation the bill has received. We received not long ago a letter from a group that asked our government to schedule Bill 139 for second reading and provide for its timely passage, a letter signed by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, the Animal Alliance of Canada, Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters, World Wildlife Fund and the Bear Alliance, certainly a diverse group of clientele, all supporting the bill and all asking for its timely passage.

I would also point out to the member that for some years now there have been 281 badges issued to conservation officers in the Ministry of Natural Resources. That number has remained constant and those positions are, I believe, at this time - at least they were last month, in November - completely filled, so the ability to look after the consequences of this act is in place.

You also mentioned the number of species we have under protection in Ontario and those we're putting on the special protection list, which includes: the elk, which are being reintroduced - I believe 50 head are coming in in February of this year in a reintroduction just to the south of Sudbury; the peregrine falcon, which was reintroduced into Ontario from stock that was available through the hawking clubs in Ontario and elsewhere in North America; the bald eagle, which is again being sighted in Ontario over time; and the wild turkey. The wild turkey has been reintroduced and has been so successful that it actually has a short hunting season in some areas of Ontario because of that extremely successful reintroduction.

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I certainly want to compliment the member for Timiskaming for his remarks, as always, wise and thoughtful with some good suggestions for the government members. I'm glad the member for Halton North was at least listening to his remarks.

It truly is ironic, when you think about this particular bill, Bill 139. It has taken a number of years to get to this particular act together, and we know now that there is potentially support from all three parties and also from a number of the organizations out there, support one really needs to have the bill go forward, but the irony simply is that there will not be the staff to do the job.

I appreciate that this has been a refrain you have heard a lot tonight, but that's because it's such an important point that needs to be made. What ultimately is the point of putting forward a piece of legislation which we agree will improve the process, will make for a better Game and Fish Act, if the manpower, the person power, the staff is not there to be able to look after it?

Talking further about the impact that problem has on the north, we've made the point more than once that over 2,000 jobs within the Ministry of Natural Resources have been lost in the last two years, and 20% of the conservation officers, despite the fact that the government said they wouldn't do it, have also faded away, at the very least.

The fact is that the 2,000 MNR jobs reflect one fifth of all the cuts made in that particular grab. There were 10,000 jobs cut from the Ontario civil service, and 2,000 came from the Ministry of Natural Resources, so a full one fifth, with a very large percentage of those coming from northern Ontario. Many of us as northern members talk and will talk in the future about the impact these cuts have had on the economy in northern Ontario and on the way northern Ontario people are able to do their jobs.

I want to compliment the member for Timiskaming and look forward to another opportunity to speak.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I want to rise to comment on the comments of the member for Timiskaming. I was provoked into doing this because I was in my office working and watching the TV, and the member for Halton North got up and repeated one of those silly briefing notes that members of this Legislature are given by members of the ministry who think they're giving it to someone who knows nothing and therefore will be able to get it by them.

He said that there are 281 conservation officers' badges and that hasn't changed. That's quite true. But the thing he doesn't know, or at least if he does he isn't telling us, is that half those people may be sitting behind desks in Toronto. They aren't in the field. The COs are not out in the field doing the job because of the cuts this ministry has experienced. To say that there are 281 conservation officers' badges now, as there were last year, is to ignore the fact that many people who are in positions other than conservation officers in the field hold CO badges in the Ministry of Natural Resources. As a matter of fact, some of them have been transferred to other ministries.

The fact is that there are fewer people in the field. There have been enormous cuts in the Ministry of Natural Resources. They have decimated many offices in my riding and across other parts of northern Ontario. The fact is simple: the Ministry of Natural Resources does not have the staff to do the job any more. They have been cut by 40% to 45% and they do not have the staff to do the job. To pass new regulations is fine, but if they can't be enforced it's very hollow.

I guess the member for Halton North has been treated like a mushroom, as bureaucrats are wont to do with politicians from time to time: You keep them in the dark, and I won't say what he's been fed.


The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Timiskaming for two minutes to respond.

Mr Ramsay: I'm pleased that my remarks provoked comment from all around the House. I'm glad the member for Algoma called the member for Halton North on his figures, because my anecdotal evidence is that I just don't see the conservation officer around as much. I live out in the country, with a river in the back and a river in the front, so there's lots for the MNR conservation officers to watch over, but they're just not around as much out there protecting our wildlife. It's not their fault. Their numbers have been diminished, their working hours have been diminished. They are important.

The other loss that happens within the ministry is that you lose what I like to call the institutional memory of the ministry. The ministry becomes a repository for all the knowledge and expertise that has developed over the years, and when you cut 45% of its employees, you really cut a lot of the expertise, knowledge and experience those experts had in the field, in this case of wildlife management, forestry management and the protection of our aquatic reserves in Ontario. That's very important, and we're losing that expertise in the north. We're losing that from our communities. That's going to be very hard to replenish.

Also, when you look at the civil service, it is very hard to find people under the age of 35 years now. We're not renewing. It's very important that we get on to renewing our civil service, so we make sure we develop a new repository of knowledge, that we invigorate and rejuvenate our civil service. That's very important for this ministry.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further debate?

Mrs McLeod: Since it seems there is no one for the third party or for the government left to participate in this debate, it falls again to the turn of the Liberal caucus to participate in what I think is an important bill, certainly in terms of its effect on resource management in northern Ontario. It's with pleasure that I have an opportunity, as a northerner, to participate in this debate.

I was very pleased that my colleague, the member for Timiskaming, focused in his remarks on the bill on the importance of resource management issues to northern Ontario. He talked about the fact that the northern Ontario economy is still very resource-based. In fact, given our geography, the reality is that the northern Ontario economies are going to continue to be resource-based into the foreseeable future. That's why the resource management issues are important to us. That's why each of us, as northerners, welcomes an opportunity to participate in one of the few debates we're going to have in the House on resource management, because this is one of the few bills which the government is likely to bring forward that deals with at least one segment of the many important issues of resource management that have such an incredibly important effect on northern Ontario economies.

There's another reason I'm quite pleased, maybe intrigued, to be participating in the debate tonight, and that's because this bill stands in the name of Mr Snobelen, who of course has recently come to the post as Minister of Natural Resources. There's an intriguing fact in that for me, because I am the education critic for our caucus and have just finished dealing with Mr Snobelen's bill that was brought forward when he was education minister, the now infamous Bill 160. Mr Snobelen switched posts to become Minister of Natural Resources before that particular bill was passed, leaving us in a situation where Mr Snobelen will no longer be there to be held accountable for the damage being inflicted on the educational system that will continue to be inflicted on the educational system because of his previous bill.

That leads me to the comments he made in introducing the revision of the Game and Fish Act, Bill 139, which we're debating tonight. I was wondering whether the minister, prior to giving his public address on the revision of the Game and Fish Act, had made his "create a crisis" speech in the Ministry of Natural Resources, as he did when he became Minister of Education, or brought forward his change management approach. His change management approach of course is one in which, by preference, you bankrupt a system so that you can bring about change. But I know that when the minister came into the Ministry of Natural Resources, the system had already been bankrupted, so that particular approach to change is not going to work in the Ministry of Natural Resources.

My colleagues have addressed the issue of the cuts that have been brought about by the Harris government to the Ministry of Natural Resources. If you want to talk about bankrupting a system, look at the cuts that take 22% of the budget away from a ministry which is so fundamentally responsible for the management of so many resource issues in this province. My colleagues have talked about the impact of that 22% cut on staff cuts. As my colleague from Timiskaming has said, those staff cuts have fallen primarily in northern Ontario and have been devastating to the economies of northern Ontario just in the job losses. Over 2,000 people, 43%, of the Ministry of Natural Resources have lost their jobs because of the budget cuts brought in by this government.

It's not that those jobs were unneeded. It wasn't that there had been an analysis done by the previous Minister of Natural Resources or by anybody in the Harris government in terms of what kind of staffing and dollars were needed to ensure that there would be effective resource management through the Ministry of Natural Resources. It was just a straight budget cut; it was a big ministry, so a big ministry could take that kind of hit. So we saw a reduction of 43% in the staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

It was devastating for northern Ontario economies, where those staff cuts were felt disproportionately, but also devastating for the management of our natural resources. It is in that context that Bill 139, the Game and Fish Act, is brought forward. It's being brought forward into a system, a natural resources ministry, which is expected to monitor and to enforce the new act when they do not have the personnel left to carry out effective enforcement. That too is an issue which a number of my colleagues have already raised.

There is an irony in this bill, which will be welcomed, as the member for Halton North has said, by many of the groups who have wanted to see changes and amendments to the Game and Fish Act brought forward for many years. There's not one of us in this House who has served as a Minister of Natural Resources who hasn't attempted to reach the kind of consensus on many of these controversial issues that would allow this act to be brought forward. It's with a measure of pleasure that many of the constituent groups see this act brought forward today, but there is an irony in a bill that presents new powers of enforcement, new penalties for any violation of the rules and regulations, when there are very few people left to enforce even this act.

The member for Algoma, who is himself a former Minister of Natural Resources, corrected the member for Halton North when the member for Halton North said there has been no reduction in conservation officers. I think there was a reduction contemplated. I think somebody reminded the government that it had promised that there would be no reduction in the number of conservation officers. Indeed, as the member for Algoma says, the number of conservation officer badges has remained constant, but those conservation officers to a very large extent are sitting behind desks doing administrative work. Anybody who knows about the work of conservation officers knows that you cannot enforce the regulations around hunting and fishing, cannot enforce the gaming laws of this province, if you're sitting behind a desk doing administrative work.

I'm not surprised that this bill now allows two years instead of six months for prosecutions of offences under the Game and Fish Act, because I think there is going to be such a backlog in prosecutions that it is indeed going to take two years rather than six months to bring about any kind of enforcement at all.

Nevertheless, I'm one of the people who is pleased to see the bill coming forward. I'm pleased that it is going to go for second reading, and there may even be some reason to be optimistic that it may come back for third reading, but we do have some period for public consultation. Brief as it is, half a day, there'll be some period for public consultation. I think we have to recognize that one of the reasons the government has been able to bring the Game and Fish Act forward to this point is that it has simply refused to deal with some of those controversial issues which prevented previous ministers and indeed previous governments from reaching consensus that would allow us to bring forward a thorough review in amending the Game and Fish Act.

We've already touched this evening on a number of those areas. We've touched on the issue of the farming, for domestic purposes, of wildlife species. I well remember from my days as the Minister of Natural Resources some very real concerns, obviously an important agricultural opportunity in the domestic farming of wildlife species, but some very real concerns about the importation of species not native to Ontario, how the importation of species not native to Ontario for farming purposes may potentially conflict with the conservation of native wildlife and in fact with our ban on the commercial use of native wildlife. Those are questions which people struggle to find reasonable answers to and which this government has simply not dealt with in presenting the Game and Fish Act tonight.

My colleagues have touched on the aquaculture industry, a growing industry, the fish-farming industry, one which I think has considerable economic potential for development in this province, yet some very real concerns have been expressed about the changes to the Game and Fish Act on the part of the aquaculture industry. It's important that those concerns be heard. It's important that they be responded to so that industry can grow in Ontario without coming into conflict with either our recreational fisheries or with our commercial fisheries. But these questions are not going to be addressed in half a day's public hearings. Those are just two of the controversial issues very specifically related to amendments to the Game and Fish Act, controversial issues which previous ministers and governments have attempted to deal with and which this government has felt it should just ignore in bringing forward this act at this point.


I turn back to the Minister of Natural Resources and his comments in introducing Bill 139, the revision of the Game and Fish Act, because I found it interesting that he wanted to cite some important acts, some positive acts, that have been carried out by the Harris government as they relate to the Ministry of Natural Resources. One of the issues he addressed in making his opening comments on this bill was that the fishing and hunting revenues from wildlife licences are going to be targeted directly into the fish and wildlife programs. I think that's positive. It's hardly a new idea, because the first fund that was targeted within general revenues was in fact the fisheries licence money, which was targeted by the Liberal government, I believe in 1986, to go into fisheries renewal and fisheries conservation. Ten years later, it's still a good idea but it's hardly a new idea.

The minister also quoted the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board which was put in place in 1996; again, I'm sure, a valuable addition to the management of our resources. It's to advise on the use of that targeted fund that the government has put in place. I think that idea may be almost as good as the idea of the community fisheries advisory bodies, which for some time have asked to have some of that targeted money allocated directly to the community advisory bodies so that the community advisory bodies could deal with the fisheries conservation and renewal in their own communities.

I'm still a believer that the people who know best how to manage the particular resource in their own area are the people who form those community advisory bodies. I trust that the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board is not going to become a centralized bureau which makes all these decisions in lieu of the work that can be done by local advisory bodies dealing with local conditions, because obviously resource management has to be varied from one area to another.

I do want to stress the fact that bringing forward Bill 139, the Game and Fish act, particularly with some of the very key areas which are not addressed by the act, but even the positive parts that are advanced in bringing forward some amendments, is not going to make up for the damage that has been done by the Harris government to natural resources.

I point to the fact, and it was strangely missing from the minister's comments in presenting Bill 139 and summarizing the positive things which the Harris government has done for natural resources - I notice he mentioned the fact that in 1996, Ontario earned an F from the World Wildlife Fund for its failure to protect our ecologically significant areas. I contrast that to Alberta, which in 1996 got a B. The Harris government likes to compare itself to and take its leadership from Alberta. Perhaps it could look to Alberta in the area of protection of ecologically significant areas. I certainly am not going to contrast that to 1989, when Ontario rated an A for its efforts in protecting ecologically significant areas.

I'm sure that if the minister had seen fit to comment on that F, he would also have wanted to go on and say, "We have learned from that. We have taken some positive steps and we are addressing some of the concerns we have about ecologically significant areas, or at least some of the areas that earned us our F on the last report card," and that they have identified some additional areas for preservation through the parks system.

If he had seen fit to address that and to say that this is one of the positive steps the Harris government has taken in the last little while, I would certainly have wanted to ask him about the funding that is there to ensure that the parks in Ontario are well managed. I'd have been interested in having an opportunity to discuss the government's plans for our parks system and whether or not it is still the plan, which was put forward by Mr Hodgson when he was the Minister of Natural Resources, that our parks would have to be put on a pay-as-you-go system and that if any park didn't break even, it would then have to be closed or privatized. Of course, as a result of that policy we have indeed seen some closures of some of our parks. It's ironic that a government can talk about making some steps forward on the basis of preservation of ecologically significant parklands on one hand at the same time that it is forcing the closure or the outright privatization of many of our parklands on the other hand.

I would have been interested in having an opportunity to talk with the minister in public hearings about how the preservation of ecologically significant parklands has an effect on our ability to ensure the conservation of our game and fish species. Obviously, these issues are related. That's the frustration that those of us who are really concerned about resource management have in dealing with Bill 139, the Game and Fish act, in isolation from any discussion of this government's initiatives or lack of initiatives or giant steps backwards in so many other areas of resource management.

I would have liked to have an opportunity to talk about crown lands. Lands for Life was mentioned by my colleague from Timiskaming, and I know it was mentioned by my colleague from Algoma-Manitoulin in his original speech on second reading of this bill. Lands for Life causes some concerns for northerners. Lands for Life is looking at how you can take the crown lands, which as my colleague from Algoma-Manitoulin said are about 45% of the land mass of this province - I don't know if members opposite who don't have an opportunity to travel widely across northern Ontario understand how massive this area is or how significant it is both ecologically and also to the economy of northern Ontario. We're talking about 45% of the land mass of the entire province, clearly a significant portion of the land mass of northern Ontario. The Lands for Life program is looking at how you can divide up that land and turn over, if not the ownership, at least the management of that land mass.

It is a logical question to ask, "How can you talk about the Game and Fish Act and the conservation of certain species if you're not prepared to talk about Lands for Life, if you're not prepared to talk about the management of crown land, if you're not prepared to talk about the overall management of our forests?" Surely you can't talk about conservation of one small part of our resource, as important as it is, outside of the context of the management of our overall natural resources.

I would like to have an opportunity to talk to this government about the class environmental assessment on timber management. Again, timber management is one part, a very large part, of the management of our forest resources. I happen to have been the minister who launched the class environmental assessment on timber management. There would be a lot of people who might want to say, "Would you go back and do it differently?" I don't know. It was a lengthy process, it was a costly process, and at the end of the day it did deal with timber management and not overall forest management. I think all of us would recognize that even with the cost and the time the class environmental assessment took, that was a limitation, we weren't dealing with the full range of forestry issues.

Nevertheless, a lot of the forest management issues were discussed. There was considerable consideration of the issues related to timber management: the wildlife conservation issues, the fisheries issues, the tourism issues. There were a number of recommendations that came from that class environmental assessment on timber management. It should have been useful. It would be much more useful for conservation if the government hadn't cut $19 million out of the budget that was put in place in order to implement the recommendations that came from the class environmental assessment.

You've got to ask, is this government that brings forward Bill 139, the Game and Fish Act revisions, and says, "This is one of our positive steps," really serious about conservation and the management of our resources when they cut the budget for the implementation of the environmental assessment in half so that there is not a chance that it can begin to take the positive steps forward that came from that timber management environmental assessment?

I can see that time is running out, and I only wish that in the half-day of hearings there was going to be an opportunity to address some of the very specific game and fish issues that have not been addressed by Bill 139, let alone issues like the Lands for Life program or the class environmental assessment and timber management or all the issues related to the management of our natural resources, our parkland as well as our fisheries and our wildlife.


I think it's fair to come back to the issue of budget and staff cuts and the lack of resources not only to enforce Bill 139, the Game and Fish act, but to do the ongoing monitoring of our natural resources that allows conservation to be truly effective. I don't think it is possible - in fact, I know it's not possible - to provide adequate management of our forestry resource if you don't have the resources to do ongoing audits.

Mr Wildman: That's right.

Mrs McLeod: The member for Algoma will know how challenging it is to come up with accurate audits of our forestry resources for timber purposes. I don't see that kind of ongoing audit being carried forward. You cannot manage the wildlife resource, which is what the Game and Fish Act is all about, in part, if you're not doing ongoing audits of our wildlife population, an area in which there is constant controversy and debate about whether or not we are doing an adequate job today. With the cutbacks in staff resources and budgeting, it is impossible to do a real, ongoing audit assessment of our wildlife population.

Then there's the whole question of the assessment of our fisheries. How can you have fisheries conservation if you're not doing an adequate assessment of the fisheries resource?

I know how inadequate our efforts have been seen to be in the past. I've talked to people in fisheries who have said, "Unless you have somebody actually out in the boat on the water, you cannot know whether or not you're getting an accurate assessment of your fisheries resource." You can't do it sitting behind a desk. You can't do it by number-crunching in Queen's Park. You can't do it with theories. You've got to have people out there in the field, working with other people who are in the field, who have an understanding of how you actually do the assessment. Once you've done the assessment, then you can put in place the steps that are needed in order to conserve the resource.

I don't think there are adequate resources for enforcement. I don't think there are adequate resources in place to deal with the assessment. I don't think there are adequate resources in place for this government to have any idea of what has to be done in order to preserve and conserve the natural resources that are so critical to this province: important, I stress again, as my colleagues have, from an ecological perspective but also important from an economic perspective to forestry, to tourism and to the sustainable development of our province.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Marion Boyd): Questions and comments?

Mr Wildman: I want to commend my friend from Fort William on her remarks and I want to home in on the issue of how hollow it is to pass legislation like this unless we have the staff to do the ongoing audits and to do the enforcement.

I'll just give you an example of to what abysmal depths the Ministry of Natural Resources has fallen. Earlier this spring I had on my deck at my home a yearling bear cub. I called the Ministry of Natural Resources, because in the past the Ministry of Natural Resources would come and they would put out a live trap and they'd trap the bear and then they'd transport it way off into the wilderness so that it would not be a nuisance to the human population.

I was informed by the Ministry of Natural Resources that they don't have the staff to do that any more. I asked them, "What should I do?" They said, "Well, you could shoot it." I didn't particularly want to shoot a yearling, and for that matter I pointed out to them that if someone were to shoot the bear and only wound it, the neighbourhood would have a worse problem on its hands than simply leaving the bear as it was.

Then the ministry staff said, "You could call the OPP and they might come and shoot it." Of course, this would really be high on the priorities of the Ontario Provincial Police. Then they said, "Of course, if you don't want to do that or you don't think that will work, you could hire a private contractor who might come and trap the bear." I said, "All right, but do you have any idea how much that would cost?" They said, "No, we don't." I said, "This will not just benefit me as a homeowner and protect my family, it will protect the whole neighbourhood, so shouldn't the whole neighbourhood contribute to the cost?" They said, "Yes, but that's up to you to figure that out."

I point out that we've already paid the cost in our taxes, and the ministry can't do the job.

Mr Chudleigh: I'd like to thank the member for Fort Frances for her comments. Again she pointed out the widespread support this bill does have and the number of people who are affected by the Ministry of Natural Resources and their bill in this province.

I pointed out again the aquaculture industry in Ontario, which has great potential in this province and is the subject of ongoing consultations with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Hopefully in the very near future our province will begin to see the benefits of that industry and its growth.

I also pointed out that in 1989 the World Wildlife Fund I think gave Ontario an A for its handling, and in 1996 that had fallen to an F. I believe that last spring, in April 1997, they had given the Ministry of Natural Resources a C+. We're halfway back to the A that I'm sure everyone will agree we deserve for the richness of our wildlife and the respect with which we hold it.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Certainly I want to compliment the member for Fort William and correct the member for Halton North. He misnamed the member's riding. It's Fort William, not Fort Frances.

Mr Wildman: Halton North.

Mr Gravelle: Halton North. My apologies. I didn't mean to misname yours, but I guess I was so upset about your misnaming the member for Fort William's, I wanted to get going.

As always, her remarks were well thought out and managed to bring in some points that I don't think had been brought out in this discussion of Bill 139. It think it is the point that this bill itself really cannot be brought in simply in the isolation in which it has.

The fact is, the Lands for Life process which is going on across this province is going to have an enormous impact on the whole use of our crown land. The fact that crown land is such a large proportion of the land mass of our province, it needs to be understood better by the government members.

Another problem with the Lands for Life process is that there is a very tight time frame that the former minister set in terms of a report coming down. I would hope that the new minister might be more flexible in that regard. Certainly a lot of meetings have taken place and there's been an effort by the people who are running the process to try to inform the public, and it has been an interesting process to follow it. But the impact is going to be so enormous that I think it's incredibly important that the government members know more about it. The minister himself actually discussed this in the Legislature.

There's a variety of other aspects of our whole land mass use that are going on but again are not being discussed. In fact, there is a national conservation authority being set up, being discussed, in terms of changing the whole parks system in our own region up near Thunder Bay and up through Lake Nipigon. This is something else that a lot of people are very concerned about and there's a great need to discuss it. The Minister of Natural Resources is involved in this process, although he has made absolutely no comment about it publicly. That needs to be discussed as well.

Ms Martel: The member for Fort William rightly pointed out that during the debate on this bill, especially on the government side, there was absolutely no relationship between this particular bill and how it deals with conservation and management of an important resource in the Lands for Life process.

I suspect that was done purposely. My view on the Lands for Life process is that at the end of the day, although the government has three round tables out and a number of people who are trying to do some good work with respect to very controversial land issues and how resources will be allocated, it will end up being the government which will allocate those resources. The time frame for the Lands for Life process is so short that at the end of the day, the members on the panels are going to end up bowing to the demands and the direction and the determination of the Ministry of Natural Resources because dealing with very controversial land use issues cannot be done in a matter of months, as the government wishes to happen.

So why there is no mention with respect to this bill and the issues raised here and the process is because the government will in the end make the final decision. Some people will do a whole lot of work, very good work. They will put a lot of time and a lot of effort into it, but by default, because of a lack of time to resolve some very difficult issues about how to allocate fish and wildlife, how to allocate timber, how to allocate remote tourism, for example, those folks will not be able to do that work. The government at the end of the day, the ministry bureaucrats, will be the ones who will provide that direction, and the government will move forward. I think that's a shame because some people are doing some very good work, but at the end of the day they won't be able to resolve the issue.

One final point with respect to the aquaculture industry. It is true that OMAFRA is working with this industry to try to promote it. They give the industry $1 million a year. The problem is, the Ministry of Natural Resources, even in this bill, doesn't recognize aquaculture as a farming activity. We are calling on the government to in fact do that, to protect their interests and to protect this industry and to promote it through this bill as well.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Fort William has two minutes to respond.

Mrs McLeod: I'd like to thank my colleagues from Algoma-Manitoulin, Halton North, Port Arthur and Sudbury East for their comments. I appreciate the member for Port Arthur correcting the fact that I am the member for Fort William and not Fort Frances.

Mr Wildman: Aw, it's somewhere up there.

Mrs McLeod: There's always a certain sense among northerners, some might say almost a paranoia, that nobody knows where we actually come from.

But I think the real frustration that we tend to express as northerners is that not many people understand how important these issues of resource management are to us and how important they are to our economy.

I noted that the member for Halton North acknowledged that they had moved from an F to a C+. I suggested that had the minister spoken to this, he would have made some comment about the fact that they have taken some steps forward in addressing the issue of parkland and the preservation of more ecologically significant lands through setting aside more park reserves.

That's why I would like an opportunity to talk about whether or not there's actually going to be management of those parklands or whether or not they're going to continue with an earlier policy of saying that if a park can't pay for itself, it's going to be closed down or privatized. It seems to me that this is something the World Wildlife Fund would be very concerned about, and if we see the impact of that policy, I think we will well be back to an F before very long. That worries me as a northerner, because our parks are an important part of our tourism potential as well as an important part of our ecological preservation. I think it's so important that we have comprehensive policy that addresses all of the issues of resource management.

In my last 30 seconds, I want to address one that is so important to us as northerners and plead with this government to address it more fully, and that's the issue of fire management. We have seen significant cuts in fire management, a $4-million cut, the closure of firefighting bases. We saw a situation last spring where they couldn't get a training program for new people to come and fight fires going in time and they couldn't bring back the people who had been severed because that would interfere with their severance agreements, so we went without the capacity to fight forest fires. You cannot manage our resources - I mean, it might be that moose habitat thrives in a burned-out area, but it's not the policy of the government to create the burned-out areas to protect our moose population. You've got to deal with that as one of many important resource issues.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Seeing none, Mr Snobelen has moved Bill 139, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Is it the pleasure of this House that the motion carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I suggest that it be moved to the standing committee on general government.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I seek unanimous consent to move a motion with respect to committee consideration of Bill 139.

Interjections: Agreed.

Hon Mr Harnick: I move that Bill 139, An Act to promote the conservation of fish and wildlife through the revision of the Game and Fish Act, be considered by the standing committee on general government for one day only at its regularly scheduled meeting times on Thursday, December 11, 1997, and that the committee be authorized to meet beyond its normal adjournment time to complete clause-by-clause consideration of the bill on that day.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.


Mr Spina, on behalf of Mr Hodgson, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 120, An Act to reduce red tape by amending the Mining Act / Projet de loi 120, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives au ministère du Développement du Nord et des Mines.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I'm pleased to say a few words about Bill 120, which is the red tape reduction act of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

Bill 120 proposes amendments to the Mining Act to improve the business climate for Ontario's mining industry by standardizing mining claims, by clarifying definitions and by simplifying mining fees. I would add that this particular act is one of a series of red tape acts that we have been attempting to get cleared through the House to try to achieve the objectives of this government of simplifying the government processes and trying to reach objectives of creating more jobs in this province.

This legislation would also protect environmentally sensitive areas during claim-staking, and in doing so it reflects our continued commitment to protect the environment.

This bill further reduces red tape, which will allow for improved customer service and reduced administrative costs for both the taxpayers and the mining industry. The mining industry in Ontario generates between $4 billion and $7 billion of new wealth annually and employs about 72,000 Ontarians.

Some of the elements of the bill that we are looking at accomplishing here include, firstly, that the bill amends the definition of "minerals" to include precious minerals such as diamonds. What that is does is harmonize Ontario's Mining Act with the growing interest in diamond exploration in the north.

Second, we're eliminating the requirement to stake out and record placer mining claims. That removes the expense and the confusion that this particular requirement has caused in the past.

Third, we are allowing the director of mine rehabilitation to allow alternatives to prescribed methods of mine rehabilitation if, and only if, environmental standards are met or exceeded.

Fourth, the Lieutenant Governor is being authorized to prescribe special environmentally sensitive guidelines for mineral staking to address specific environmental concerns in certain parts of this province.

Finally, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines is being authorized to set the amount of mining fees to avoid the cost, time and effort of developing new regulations each time fees are changed.

To give evidence of the importance of the need for this bill to proceed as quickly as possible, in particular to have second and third readings accomplished as soon as possible, I'd like to read a couple of paragraphs from some letters that were sent to the minister by a couple of very important individuals in the industry. The first is from Mr John Heslop, the president of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, dated December 4, just this past week. Mr Heslop says:

"In order that clarity and certainty can be created, we ask that Bill 120 now take priority so that it can move forward to royal assent.

"The explorationists active in the Temagami area need your support so that special regulations can be finalized which will allow environmentally responsible exploration work to be undertaken in this sensitive area.

"We would also urge the quick passage of Bill 68, which has been stalled at second reading....

"In general, we support actions which will simplify government and, at the same time, improve efficiency for the mining industry."

The second letter is from Wayne Adair, who is the reeve of Temagami township, and it also has gone to Minister Hodgson. It was dated November 25, and again I take excerpts from the letter in the interests of time:

"I am very concerned that Bill 120 seems to be stalled. It is a very important piece of legislation that has direct implications not only for Temagami but for most of northern Ontario. I am speaking primarily about the sections of Bill 120 dealing with amendments to the Mining Act that will provide the mechanism to allow for staking in sensitive areas.

"Some of the richest mineralization sites here are currently under a staking prohibition order. Our area only needs the legislative okay to amend the Mining Act. I know you are familiar with our land use dilemma over the years in the Temagami region. It was under your watch that the lifting of the cautions in most of Temagami occurred, thus sparking a significant staking rush. The final steps in the process are the enacting of Bill 120, the creation of special regulations for exploration in sensitive areas and the formal adoption of the Temagami comprehensive land use plan.

"Bill 120 not only promotes extra protective measures for exploration in the Temagami region, but it also gives the Lands for Life round table the necessary flexibility for making recommendations on staking in sensitive areas throughout Ontario. Without this ability, the round table will be pressured to leave sensitive lands out of the land base altogether.

"If the same percentage of the land base is taken out of northern Ontario that has been taken out of the Temagami region it will mean the decimation of the resource industry as we know it.

"For the Lands for Life process for northern Ontario and for the Temagami region, the timely passing of this legislation is essential."

That's Wayne Adair, the reeve of Temagami township.


It is clear that it is important that this legislation go through. There are some concerns, and we understand and appreciate the concerns that have been expressed by the opposition members, and I'm sure we will hear some of them in a few moments. However, we want to stress that it is critical that we are able to get this through as soon as we possibly can, so that we can accomplish good economic development.

These changes will go a long way to stimulating jobs and prosperity in the communities in northern Ontario that constantly depend on a thriving mining industry, and we would hate that the holdup of this bill would further delay any prosperity economically that can be realized by these communities, in particular in places like Temagami.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Marion Boyd): Questions and comments?

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I am pleased to participate in this Bill 120 discussion tonight. I'm always curious and anxious to speak to the bills that the government puts out as red tape bills or the illusion by government to show the world that they are in fact cutting red tape. To this end, I decided to look at exactly what they had done so far.

We remember very clearly during the election campaign what the government said they were going to do and in fact what they have done, and one area that is specifically important to, say, employers is the WCB. What we realized when they talked about the streamlining of the system, knowing there needed to be reforms in the WCB, what they did immediately was cut the premiums. They took 5% off what individuals were going to be receiving, so those injured workers ended up paying for what the government continues to call the streamlining of the WCB system, as an example, more elimination of red tape.

Let's see what they said in their Common Sense Revolution: that this premium being cut by 5% will save Ontario employers an estimated $98.5 million. What we got the other day off our fax machine is interesting; you would think this was a Liberal publication. It's entitled "1998 WCB Rate Shocker." I know this is of interest to the former parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour. This is the COCA bulletin, and COCA stands for the Council of Ontario Construction Associations. When Ontario is in a booming economy and doing quite well, the construction industry likewise is doing very well, and aren't they paying for it too? I was very surprised to see this come through from COCA, which you would assume would be thanking the government for their streamlining of the WCB. What they've done instead was say, "Despite projected savings following implementation of Bill 99 and ever-decreasing accident rates in the construction industry, the WCB hammered the industry with massive increases to 1998 assessment rates."

Mr Spina: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: This is a debate on Bill 120. We're off in WCB - land here and red tape. I'm not sure where she is.

The Acting Speaker: That is a point of order. I would remind the member for Windsor-Sandwich to confine her comments to the bill that's being discussed.

Mrs Pupatello: The relevancy for all of the Conservative members - I understand that you don't want to hear about all these other areas of supposed streamlining, supposed changes the government is bringing into the system to help Ontario move and be bountiful.

What we're finding time and time again, despite Bill 120 and what it may or may not do, we understand that Bill 120 deals with mines. We understand that it's the government's attempt to allow the minister to set new fees. We spoke with a lawyer in Windsor the other day and he said, "Has anyone taken a look at the new fees in the court system these days?" These all came through, these various bills on streamlining. They've calculated - and not the cost for the lawyer, as you know - the cost ultimately for the business people out there, a 300% increase that this one firm calculated because of new user fees in the court system. Who's paying for that? You and I, the business people, the business community.

What does the Mining Act do, Bill 120? It allows the minister to set new user fees in the mining industry. So while the mining industry may say, "Oh, look at this, we've got some streamlining in the system, we're going to be doing better business here," I caution the mining industry to have a good look at what the minister is now allowed to do once Bill 120 is passed. It allows the minister to set new fees, and in my view that's like that little hostage in the bill. You don't see it and you really want to get it out but you can't. There are going to be allowances of new fees.

Just like lawyers who operate around Ontario have now discovered, after months of all of this new fee allowance in the court system - they've gone through another year to look at what those fees are - they're calculating massive increases in the cost of doing business. This WCB rate shocker is one more example where the government promised to streamline the system, just like you promised in your red tape bills. Where you said you were going to cut costs in your Common Sense Revolution, what they got instead was hammered by this government.

I find it shocking because this was the gang that was supposed to be good for business. This was the gang that was supposed to reduce your costs. They purport to bring forward red tape bills, like this mining bill, supposedly to cut red tape, but what we get in the end is more user fees in the business community. Ultimately, they either transfer those costs down to the consumers like you and me or they absorb those costs and it results in less profit for that company at the end of the year. When the members want to know why we would talk about other streamlining that isn't really streamlining, is in fact more cost to the system, that's exactly why.

I have to read just a brief paragraph of an editorial that was done about the government. What was more surprising is that it came from Canadian Business magazine. Again, I find it astounding. This is the gang that was supposed to be good for business, but what we're seeing now after two and a half years, you're at your mid-point, I think the bloom is off the rose here with this gang. "Lots of common sense," it says, "no common decency."

The reason I point out this particular editor's note by Arthur Johnson at Canadian Business magazine is because he speaks specifically about what they've just done to Jack Geller, a 67-year-old widely respected securities lawyer, named a Queen's counsel by a previous Conservative government of Ontario, on and on, who served as acting chair of the Ontario Securities Commission, which plays a critical role in ensuring fairness and confidence in Canada's capital market. But on October 20 Geller suddenly announced that he would be stepping down because Ontario Finance Minister Ernie Eves did not want him running the agency.

I would ask all members of the House - I know you probably get this mag in your own office - to just read the editorial note, because it's quite interesting. It refers to the article in the magazine, "Front and Centre," with a picture of the minister, Ernie Eves. What they talk about here is the poor treatment that Jack Geller received at the hands of Eves and when we ask why, it says: "Inside Tory headquarters Geller's outburst obviously set off an alarm. Within two weeks he was reappointed, but the muddle persists."

What they found at the Ontario Securities Commission - and now we're talking about regulation. Don't forget, a government bent on streamlining, supposedly, with the introduction of bills such as 120 on the Mining Act. This one talks about regulation of the securities industry.

"Just last month, for example, 23 fund dealers were audited by the OSC. The results were less than exemplary. About 25% of the dealers investigated were commingling investors' money with their own instead of keeping the funds in separate trust accounts. Also, more companies cared little about how their staff operate, turning a blind eye when dealers steered clients into unsuitable investments. These are hardly the actions worthy of an industry that wants to police itself."

It goes on in the article to suggest, "Canadian investors can only hope that Eves is merely trying to save face and is not bowing to pressure from the mutual fund lobby. For, without responsible regulation, how are fund investors ever to know whether they are getting a fair shake or a shakedown?"

I find it very ironic that you would think once again a government that is supposed to be there for business and there for the people, protecting industries worthy of protection, regulations where regulation is truly needed, now we see Eves all over the map where this Jack Geller is concerned, an individual quite well known in the industry, who has frankly been manhandled by the minister.

"`In the 38 years of my practice of law, I've never been treated like this,'" he told the Toronto Star. Geller also alleged that Eves had been influenced by those in the mutual fund industry who resented his attempts to regulate their operations more closely.


How very interesting. Why are we not talking about that kind of regulation? Where it's required in an industry that deals with billions upon billions of dollars, consumer protection, why aren't we talking about those kinds of regulations in this House? Because, I would submit, those aren't the kinds of things we want to talk about in the House.

For Minister of Finance Ernie Eves, this is the last thing he wants to see come up on the House, that there is actually some suspicion around what he is doing in his selection of who may eventually be the chair of the Ontario Securities Commission. These are the kinds of regulations I would like to see being handled properly. It seems we had someone who was prepared to do that job and you're finding a very clever way to move him out of that position.

I would suggest that we may be discussing Bill 120 and the Mining Act, but what it's about is the introduction of new user fees, which is new cost to business. The business community, as we see all over the place - rate shockers to business - their costs are going up and you're not going to get away with it.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I am pleased to join the debate here this evening. I have been provoked by the comments that were made by the parliamentary assistant. We had a discussion about this earlier, and it is true that while we have concerns about the bill, we will at the end of the day probably end up supporting it. But I am provoked because of the repeated reference, at least four or five if not six times, that we need to proceed with this bill as soon as possible. He went on to read into the record letters from two sources to reinforce why this bill has to be done as soon as possible, and why, he said, if we are concerned about the economic prosperity of communities, we would get on with the business of dealing with this right away.

I have to make this point. This bill was introduced on February 3, 1997. Some 10 months later, at five to 9 on the night of December 8, the government has finally decided that Bill 120 is a priority. I know my good friend from Brampton North, the parliamentary assistant, has had to come in here tonight and deliver the speech on behalf of the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, so without doubt he is a little bit embarrassed about having that contradiction pointed out. I don't blame him because he was given a speech to read and he came in and he did that. But for goodness' sake, it is worth pointing out to the members of the assembly and to the public what other pieces of legislation were so important that the government had to deal with those before they dealt with this one.

Let me just list a few of them for the edification of my colleague from Brampton North. What was the priority in the last 10 months for this government? If people look back, they will recognize that we sat for almost all of that time, except from the period between the end of June and mid-August and then again from the middle of October to the middle of November, but during the rest of that time we sat. What was a priority for the government were things like Bill 99, which cut benefits from injured workers; rent control, which effectively ended rent control in this province; Bill 152, which allows the download of not only new services but a whole host of associated costs on to any number of communities, the same communities that I assume my colleague from Brampton North is so worried about with respect to economic prosperity.

The government had a big priority around the cuts to education through Bill 160. The megacity legislation was a priority. Bill 106 and the son of Bill 106, Bill 147, which will lead to increased local property taxes both for residential homeowners and for any number of businesses, that was a priority for the government.

I have to say to my colleague, even though he repeated it four or five times tonight, this bill hasn't been a priority for the government. It was introduced by the Minister of Northern Development and Mines on February 3 and we haven't seen hide nor hair of it since and we haven't heard anything about it until last week it mysteriously appeared on the agenda of the government House leader when he wanted it through as soon as possible. There has been no end of pressure to have this thing dealt with, second, third reading, the whole nine yards, as soon as we can and before we leave this place next week. But please, don't try and tell the good folks that this was a priority. It hasn't been for 10 months.

While it might lead to some new development opportunities in some communities, in northern Ontario in particular, that have good mineral potential, the fact of the matter is, if you want to talk about economic prosperity and the impact on communities, you'd better look at everything else the government is doing, because, if anything, the impact in those communities, especially in northern Ontario, is going to be very negative, from the download legislation all the way through.

With respect to the bill itself, we support the bill but we have asked the Minister of Northern Development and the PA tonight to deal with a specific amendment which would give us a whole lot more comfort about the intent of the bill than we get now in reading through it.

The intention of the bill that was described to me by ministerial staff, whom I trust, is that the purpose is to deal with claim staking in a different way. Right now under the Mining Act mining claims can only be staked in one way. What the bill purports to do is to allow for a new mechanism that would allow for special rules in special areas in the province so that staking can occur in those areas. Those areas will be environmentally sensitive. The aim of the act as described to me was to provide a new mechanism for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines to develop regulations to permit claim staking in sensitive areas across the province.

I agree with that aim and with that purpose. Right now we know that staking occurs under the Mining Act. The rules are set under that act with respect to exploration. The rules around that, particularly in sensitive areas, are dealt with under the Public Lands Act. The Ministry of Natural Resources has a specific mechanism now to deal with sensitive areas. But under the Mining Act and through the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, there is no similar mechanism to use to develop those special rules.

I don't have a problem with what the intent of the act is as it has been described to me. The reference point that was given to me was to allow for claim staking in a particularly sensitive area in Temagami. I know a little bit about this issue because our government spent a great deal of time in two areas: to try and find a settlement over a couple of years with the first nations and other communities with respect to land use in Temagami. We were also responsible for continuing in place the comprehensive planning council which was established very specifically to deal with a new land use plan in Temagami so that the various interests with respect to people who want to protect the environment, people who have a tourism interest, people who wanted logging to occur, people who wanted claim staking and mining to occur could all be represented and we could come up with a particular plan for a sensitive area, an area that has been the source of controversy for some 20 years now, and hopefully find some agreement to adopt it to allow for some development to occur, but to protect those areas that also needed to be protected.

When I was told that the purpose of the bill was to deal with Temagami in particular and very specifically the skyline reserve, to open that up for staking, I went back to the recommendations from the comprehensive planning council. The council, in its report to the government dated April 10, 1996, said the following:

"One of the key issues that council sought to resolve is mineral management in the skyline reserve of Lake Temagami. The reserve contains a number of sensitive values that require protection. At the same time, there are areas within the reserve that have been assessed as having significant mineral potential, and council believes that there are sufficient planning and regulatory mechanisms in place to warrant maintaining this area as part of the mineral management land base.

"A special management area prescription has been prepared for Lake Temagami which specifies the conditions under which mineral exploration would occur. Council recognizes that there is also a need for a structure to address potential conflicts between mining-related activities and other values beyond Lake Temagami."


The council members issued a very specific recommendation to this government, recommendation 22, which reads as follows:

"Council recommends that the special management area prescription prepared for management area 39" - and that is the skyline reserve on Lake Temagami - "which appears in the supporting documentation be adopted. Council also recommends that the ministries of Natural Resources and Northern Development and Mines work to identify additional significant tourism and recreational values and develop appropriate mitigative measures for mining-related activities in relation to these values."

The impression I was left with after dealing with ministry staff was that the whole thrust around Bill 120 was indeed to deal with the adoption of recommendation 22 as per the report that had been presented to this government in April 1996 by the comprehensive planning council and that clearly, through the mechanism in Bill 120, we would be in a position to develop a special set of rules for staking in that area and get on with that business.

The problem I see, and it is a problem I have conveyed to both the parliamentary assistant and to the minister's staff, is that the actual wording in Bill 120 doesn't reference Temagami at all or the reserve or anything about the community or anything about the comprehensive planning council report or recommendation 22. The bill nowhere, in any way, shape or form, references the intent of the government to use the legislation to put in special rules to protect sensitive areas. That doesn't appear anywhere.

While the staff has certainly said to me, "This is what the bill purports to do," the actual wording in the bill is far too vague and far too broad to give me any comfort that at a certain point in time this same minister or another minister could not abuse his or her privileges and put in place a set of rules that would not protect the environment but would degrade environmentally sensitive areas.

I think it's important to read the relevant amendment so you can understand just how open-ended and unclear it is. It says, in an amendment under section 5:

"(2.2) A regulation made under subsection (1) or (2) may be general or particular in application, may be limited as to the time or place or both and may provide that it applies only to the area or areas designated by the minister."

As I read that, it does not indicate in any way, shape or form any intention of the ministry to protect special areas. There is no indication that the purpose is to develop some special rules for staking in these environmentally sensitive areas, much as MNR has done under the Public Lands Act for other portions of mining. There is no indication at all that the government is going to take some special care in these areas. It's not referenced in the bill. I am not comfortable with the very broad interpretation that could come which could lead a minister or ministry staff to do just the opposite. A minister or ministry staff could use this same section, not to protect sensitive areas, not to ensure special rules for staking in those areas, but to lessen some of the standards we have around staking and do harm in environmentally sensitive areas.

I think there is a way around this. In a section of the bill just above the subsection I just read, the ministry puts in a mechanism to ensure that there will be at least the same protection in place in the Mining Act now, or additional protection. In a section already dealt with by my colleague from Brampton North when he spoke about additional responsibilities of the director of mine rehabilitation, some of those protections apply, specifically under subsection 5(2), paragraph 13. Under this section, which deals with mine closures, it says: "authorizing a person specified in the regulations to exempt a proponent from complying with any standard, procedure or requirement in a regulation respecting closure plans if the specified person determines that the closure plan meets or exceeds the objectives of the provision." So the director of mine rehabilitation will be in a position to make decisions about closure plans and how they will be adopted if he or she believes that the plan, as presented by the mining company, meets or exceeds the provision.

I have asked the ministry staff to give me some additional guarantee by way of further amendment to this act to clarify what it is that the government intends to do. I have no doubt, since I have heard it from very reliable staff, that what they want to do is to be sure that there are special rules for claim staking in sensitive areas. I support that, but the bill does not provide for that in its current wording. I am extremely reluctant to proceed to provide any additional support on third reading without having that intent clarified, without having that protection in place.

What we have said very clearly to the government is that we are prepared to proceed with this on second reading tonight, and we will deal with second reading and finish with it. We are also prepared, before the House ends, given that it is such a priority for this government - although it hasn't been for the last 10 months - if the government can come up with the appropriate wording that will mitigate some of my fears, to deal with this in committee of the whole and third reading before this session ends.

I hope the government can go away now and deal with the legal drafters and come back with a provision that will do that, make it clear what the intent is and make it clear that the same minister at another time or a different minister cannot abuse this particular section by putting in place rules which will not protect but will in fact destroy or impact negatively other sensitive areas when it comes to claim staking. I hope the government can do that.

We appreciate the opportunity to debate here this evening. We look forward to getting a draft of a new amendment or amendments which will deal with the particular concerns I have. If we can get that and be comfortable with it, I give an undertaking on behalf of our party that we will go ahead, pass it at committee of the whole, pass it at third reading before the House recesses next week.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments and questions?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'd like to congratulate my friend from Sudbury East for her presentation with regard to the Mining Act. I would refer the government House leader to the need to get some clarification about protection as the aim of this bill and its relationship with a protected area such as the horizon zones in Temagami. This is a very important issue and one we must get some clarity on.

I hope arrangements can be made for amendment to the bill in such a way that it will allow us to proceed to third reading as soon as possible. If the minister had been present this evening - and I'm not being critical of him for not being - we might have been able to do it tonight. But since he isn't here, we need to get an amendment that makes clear the purpose of the act and how it will ensure protection of areas.

If that happens, I'm sure the bill can pass third reading prior to the Christmas break, keeping in mind that as of now the Christmas break begins after this Thursday, because we do not have any new House calendar motion before the House that has been passed. Of course, the problem with a House calendar motion giving us more time to pass this bill, Bill 120, is that there is no limit on the debate on the House calendar motion; we could debate for a week in order to sit for a week. That really wouldn't benefit anyone, the opposition or government.

We're at a point that requires cooperation among the House leaders. I'm trying to be cooperative in suggesting this move on Bill 120. I hope we can make some accommodation with regard to other priorities of the government.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments? Further debate?

Mr Spina has moved second reading of Bill 120. Is it the pleasure 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.

I have received a request from the chief government whip: "Pursuant to standing order 28(h), I would like to request that the vote on Bill 120 be deferred until Tuesday, December 9, 1997." According to the standing orders, that will be done.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.

The Acting Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? It is carried.

This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 2112.