36th Parliament, 3rd Session

L007B - Tue 4 May 1999 / Mar 4 Mai 1999









The House met at 1830.



Mr Guzzo moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr1, An Act respecting the City of Ottawa.

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

Mr Guzzo moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr1, An Act respecting the City of Ottawa.

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

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


Mr Guzzo, on behalf of Mr Klees, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr4, An Act respecting Canada Christian College and School of Graduate Theological Studies.

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

Mr Guzzo, on behalf of Mr Klees, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr4, An Act respecting Canada Christian College and School of Graduate Theological Studies.

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

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


Mr Gerretsen, on behalf of Mrs Pupatello, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr7, An Act respecting the City of Windsor.

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

Mr Gerretsen, on behalf of Mrs Pupatello, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr7, An Act respecting the City of Windsor.

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

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


Mr Cullen, on behalf of Mr Martin, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr8, An Act respecting the Columbus Club of Sault Ste. Marie Ltd.

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

Mr Cullen, on behalf of Mr Martin, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr8, An Act respecting the Columbus Club of Sault Ste. Marie Ltd.

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

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Orders of the day; government House leader.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Madam Speaker, the third order. Before Mr Flaherty, the minister, stands to deal with second reading of Bill 17, I seek unanimous consent to move a motion without notice with respect to this bill in order to set out the procedure for this evening.

The Acting Speaker: Is there consent? Yes.

Hon Mr Sterling: I move that:

(1) Notwithstanding any standing order relating to Bill 17, An Act respecting Labour Mobility in the Construction Industry aimed at Restricting Access to Those Taking Advantage of Ontario's Policy of Free Mobility, when Bill 17 is next called, three hours shall be allocated to the second reading stage of the bill;

(2) That the time available for the second reading stage of the bill be divided equally among the three recognized parties in the House;

(3) That at the end of three hours the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and put every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill and the bill shall then be referred to committee of the whole House for immediate consideration and that 25 minutes shall be allotted for consideration of the bill at that stage;

(4) That, at the end of that 25-minute period, the Chair of the committee shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto and report the bill to the House;

(5) That, upon receiving the report of the committee of the whole House, the Speaker shall put the question for adoption of the report forthwith, which question shall be decided without debate or amendment and at such time, the bill shall be ordered for third reading;

(6) That the order for the third reading of the bill shall then immediately be called and five minutes shall be allocated to the third reading stage of the bill;

(7) That the House be authorized to sit beyond its normal hour of adjournment to complete consideration of Bill 17;

(8) That, in the case of any divisions relating to any proceeding on the bill, the division bell shall be limited to five minutes and that there shall be no deferral of the vote pursuant to standing order 28(h).

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

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Madam Speaker, there is one clarification, just so there's no misunderstanding.

The Acting Speaker: Is it OK with the House that we have a clarification? OK, go ahead.

Mr Gerretsen: The different parties will go in rotation; in other words, the speakers will go in rotation and each party will not take an hour at one time.

Hon Mr Sterling: I think the agreement is that each party shall have an hour and that the first speaker shall lead off for the government. If they take 20 minutes, then there's 40 minutes left for the government party and it shall rotate around the Legislature.

The Acting Speaker: Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr Flaherty moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 17, An Act respecting Labour Mobility in the Construction Industry aimed at Restricting Access to Those Taking Advantage of Ontario's Policy of Free Mobility / Projet de loi 17, Loi sur la mobilité de la main-d'oeuvre dans l'industrie de la construction visant à restreindre l'accès de ceux qui profitent de la politique de libre mobilité de l'Ontario.

Hon Jim Flaherty (Minister of Labour): I propose to share our one hour with Mr Sterling, the member for Carleton; Mr Villeneuve, the member for Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry & East Grenville; Mr Guzzo, the member for Ottawa-Rideau; and Mr Baird, the member for Nepean.

I am pleased to begin this debate on second reading of the Fairness is a Two-Way Street Act (Construction Labour Mobility), 1999. The sole purpose of this act is to protect good jobs in Ontario and create more good jobs for the men and women of our construction industry.

Since our election in 1995, this government has carried forward a plan aimed at creating a positive environment for economic growth and job creation. As we heard in the throne speech, that plan is working. Since this government was elected, the number of jobs has increased by more than half a million. Unemployment is the lowest it has been in a decade. Predictions for Ontario's economic growth exceed those of all the G7 countries.


But as we also heard in the throne speech, we are by no means assured of maintaining that positive climate without some real growth in productivity. Our economic future is fragile without such growth.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the OECD, profiles Canada's economy every year. In December 1998 it said that our productivity remains a critical issue in Canada, especially as compared to productivity of US workers. The report said that barriers to internal trade were part of the problem. Indeed, the report said we could now make more gains as a country with freer internal trade than through exports.

That is why Ontario has steadfastly worked to bring down barriers to internal trade in Canada. That is why we have struggled for so long to make construction agreements with Quebec work. This issue has been going on for far too long.

Quebec and Ontario are the two largest internal trading partners in Canada. They are the economic leaders of this country. They need to set an example in internal trade, and yet, regrettably, Quebec has failed to seize the golden opportunity to do so when it comes to construction labour mobility.

Ontario does not want to erect barriers, and yet, having tried every reasonable alternative, we have no choice. A situation that began as unfair is now untenable. The people of Ontario prefer to resolve differences with their neighbours in a tolerant and co-operative manner. There is a limit, however, to the patience with which Ontario workers and contractors can be expected to endure unfair treatment. That limit has been reached and passed. If our workers face a brick wall, why should others have a free ride? If our men and women are denied an opportunity at a decent living and access to jobs across the border, why should we continue to roll out the welcome mat?

Our government is the only government to tackle this inequity seriously. We entered into discussions with Quebec early in our mandate in 1995 and signed the bilateral mobility agreement in 1996. As soon as we heard that the agreement was not working on the ground, wasn't working in fact in eastern Ontario we took action. We made a commitment in last year's throne speech and this past December we began discussions with Quebec. Now we are following through with our promise to working men and women by introducing this bill.

Madam Speaker, may I briefly remind you of a few of the barriers our hard-working men and women face. First of all, Quebec continues to shut out many experienced tradespeople. Also, Ontario truckers are still unable to haul sand and gravel between construction sites in Quebec. Ontario contractors are still required to use Quebec aggregate haulers to carry these loads between sites in Quebec. Also, Ontario contractors still cannot bid on contracts in Quebec until they have obtained a contractor's licence, even though Quebec contractors can bid in Ontario before registering here.

Quebec has repeatedly tried to reduce this problem to a collection of technical issues to be discussed. The problem is more than technical. It is the lack of open and unrestricted access generally and a seeming unwillingness to embrace the terms and spirit of signed agreements on this issue. To be meaningful, discussions must focus on this fundamental and overriding concern.

Add to this the fact that some Quebec firms have enjoyed an additional competitive advantage when bidding on Ontario projects over Ontario firms bidding on the same projects. The Quebec firms, some of them, fail to comply with Ontario's retail sales tax and workplace safety and insurance premium rules. For example, in the first few weeks of April, within the past month, Ministry of Finance staff carried out 156 inspections of Quebec contractors and discovered that 109 of them had not registered as required under the Ontario Retail Sales Tax Act.

After 20 years of barriers, after all the unfair competition, after watching three months of discussions deliver little, Ontario has had enough. Passing the Fairness is a Two-Way Street Act will level the playing field. It is not the kind of levelling we wanted, but it is the kind of levelling that is needed to ensure jobs for Ontario workers.

This bill has a broad base of support among the people of Ontario, both along the border with Quebec and far from it. In the last few weeks we have seen mayors from municipalities along the Quebec-Ontario border, in the Ottawa area in particular, tell us that they are prohibiting Quebec access to municipal construction bids. Many of the councils passed resolutions to that effect. The support from these municipal leaders and from the construction associations has been encouraging.

Last week the president of the Ontario Home Builders' Association, Murray Koebel, was here in the members' gallery, along with Mayor Brian Coburn of Cumberland and Dwayne Mosley, the head of the truckers' association in Ottawa-Carleton, who is also here tonight. They were here to show their support.

The mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, supports this bill. He recently said: "Successive Quebec governments have been stubborn and pigheaded. It is time to stand up for our workers."

The mayor of Kapuskasing, J.C. Caron, said, "Council has decided it will not hire any Quebec contractors for municipal work."

Rick Evans is the economic development manager for the city of North Bay, and he says: "In our view, the Premier has taken the right approach and put some closure to this issue. Action had to be taken."

While support for the move has been largely unanimous on the Ontario side of the border, voices within Quebec have also supported this action. The Montreal Gazette said: "Ontario is right to gripe about this. The wonder is that more Quebecers aren't complaining too."

What will the Fairness is a Two-Way Street Act achieve? As the Premier promised when he first launched the Fairness is a Two-Way Street program, which was back in December 1998, the legislation will "mirror the impact of Quebec's restrictive measures." Specifically, the bill will prevent companies from places that don't treat Ontario workers fairly from bidding on any publicly funded construction projects in Ontario, such as schools and hospitals. Also, the bill will require companies from places that don't treat Ontario workers fairly to register before bidding on private sector construction contracts in Ontario. The bill would also impose registration and other restrictions on construction workers from places that don't treat Ontario workers fairly. The bill would also prohibit truckers from these places from hauling aggregate in Ontario.


The proposed legislation would also establish a Jobs Protection Office to register companies and workers doing construction work, to coordinate information sharing and support enforcement, to maintain the hotline and support enforcement of existing and new requirements, and provide information and assistance to Ontario workers and contractors seeking opportunities in places that don't treat Ontario workers fairly.

Contractors from places that don't treat Ontario workers fairly would not be allowed to work on any construction job in this province unless they register with the Jobs Protection Office, post a $10,000 security and provide detailed financial statements. Construction workers from places that don't treat Ontario fairly would also have to register with the Jobs Protection Office, and they would have to meet the certification requirements of their home jurisdiction. If they work in a trade that has compulsory certification requirements in Ontario, they would also have to meet those requirements. Our workers face restrictions like these when they try to work in Quebec. It is only fair that Quebec workers and contractors abide by similar rules when working in Ontario.

This has been an interministerial effort to protect Ontario's jobs and Ontario's workers and our suppliers and our truckers. With this bill, we are acting to ensure that the citizens of this province have a fair crack at a good job and a decent living.

In conclusion, the glaring inequity that this bill addresses was driven home when the Premier and I visited Jacques Bedard Excavation in Navan on March 31, 1999. Three months earlier, in December 1998, the Premier had been at the same place to launch our renewed program to establish a level playing field. Behind the Premier were pegboards with hard hats on them: On one side there were 18 hard hats and on the other there were three hard hats. It was a graphic illustration of how little things had changed despite all our efforts. Quebec construction workers were still enjoying a six-to-one advantage in access to jobs over Ontario workers. Ontario cannot allow another construction season to pass without our construction workers and companies receiving the same access to Quebec that Quebec workers enjoy in Ontario. With this bill then, the balance in the hard hats on those pegboards is restored, the inequity is addressed.

I must thank those members who have assisted during the past more than a year in which we have been consulting with, listening to, meeting with people in the construction sector: workers, contractors, truckers, suppliers, throughout eastern Ontario, from the Ottawa Valley all the way down through Ottawa and Hawkesbury, Cornwall. The consultations have been of immeasurable assistance in making sure that we as a government were informed about what is actually happening now on the ground in that area of the province and indeed what has been happening for 30 years or so in that area of Ontario. Those consultations and the advice that came forward from those consultations have been invaluable with respect to the real world of what actually has been going on and, regrettably, continues to happen in eastern Ontario.

Certainly I thank my colleagues Gary Guzzo, the member for Ottawa-Rideau; John Baird, the member for Nepean; Norm Sterling, the member for Carleton; Leo Jordan, the member for Lanark-Renfrew; Bob Runciman, the member for Leeds-Grenville; the supporters we have had with us, the numerous associations, including the truckers' associations, home builders, contractors from all over Ontario, particularly eastern Ontario, the many individuals who have written, the unions that have supported this concern about fairness and a level playing field in their correspondence to me, and the more than 30 municipalities that have asked that we proceed with this bill, regrettably, because they too would like to see a negotiated solution to this important issue, this barrier to free trade, this barrier to job creation between Ontario and Quebec.

With this bill, fairness is a two-way street.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : C'est avec plaisir que je prends la parole sur un projet de loi sur lequel je travaille pour le bien des travailleurs de la construction depuis mon élection en 1995.

Laissez-moi vous dire, madame la Présidente, que j'étais à l'écoute, et puis lorsqu'on est à l'écoute des gens, c'est là qu'on s'aperçoit où il y avait des lacunes qui existaient.

Ce soir pourrait devenir une journée historique pour le secteur de la construction, qui est la pierre angulaire de l'industrie en Ontario. Ce soir, dans moins de trois heures, nous allons prendre une décision, une décision qui est une des plus importantes pour l'industrie de la construction, une décision sur laquelle beaucoup de travailleurs de la construction de l'Ontario vont crier victoire.

Je suis vraiment désolé de voir que le ministre du Travail n'a pas fait mention que depuis maintenant trois ans et quelques mois je travaille sur le dossier, et puis tout ce qu'il avait à faire dans le moment, c'est de prendre le dossier et de vraiment l'amener ici en Chambre. Ce soir nous allons débattre la deuxième et la troisième lecture sur un projet qui est identique à mon projet de loi 60 que j'ai présenté en Chambre le 4 juin 1996 et qui a été passé en deuxième lecture à l'unanimité dans cette Chambre.

C'est peut-être une victoire pour nous, mais c'est une journée sombre pour tous les travailleurs de la construction du Québec. Je dis bien «journée sombre» parce que, tout d'abord, si je regarde le préambule, les entrepreneurs, les travailleurs de l'industrie de la construction et les transporteurs agricoles de l'Ontario se heurtent à des obstacles lorsqu'il s'agit de travailler et de faire des affaires dans d'autres territoires en raison de pratiques injustes, discriminatoires ou restrictives tandis que ceux de ces autres territoires peuvent travailler en Ontario sans éprouver de telles difficultés.

Lorsqu'on parle d'autres territoires, il faut dire dans ce cas-ci que nous parlons spécialement de ceux du Québec qui viennent travailler en Ontario. Ceux du Québec qui viennent travailler en Ontario, on les comprend. Dernièrement, j'ai vu des programmes à la télévision et puis, avec la ligne ouverte, on s'est aperçu que les Ontariens et Ontariennes n'étaient pas au courant de pourquoi nous devons procéder de cette façon. On doit procéder de cette façon pour la simple raison que nous voulons la mobilité de la main-d'oeuvre, la mobilité de nos travailleurs de la construction.

Actuellement, c'est injuste. Nous savons qu'en Ontario, le taux de chômage dans l'industrie de la construction est plus élevé que le taux de chômage global. Je le dis depuis trois ans dans cette Chambre et puis rien, rien n'avait été fait. Statistique Canada nous avait donné l'information. Encore une fois, dû au fait que cela venait de l'opposition, nous avons décidé de fermer l'oreille. Alors que je suis député de l'opposition et qu'il est souvent de mon devoir de m'opposer, je vous assure que le Parti libéral reconnaît l'importance d'adopter ces mesures avant le déclenchement des élections.


Ça fait au-delà de 25 ans que les entrepreneurs et les travailleurs et travailleuses de la construction en Ontario s'attendent à ce que ce gouvernement conservateur s'intéresse à ce dossier - je dis un dossier - que j'ai pris en main. En 1995, encore une fois j'étais à l'écoute de nos travailleurs, et personne du gouvernement conservateur n'a voulu bouger. Je sais que le député de la circonscription de Rideau était au courant. Je lui a parlé souvent. Je crois qu'il hésitait puisqu'il savait que le projet de loi venait de l'opposition. Mais aujourd'hui, à la veille d'une élection, nous allons décider de le mettre d'avant. Je ne sais pas si les travailleurs de la construction sont tout au courant de ce que va venir après ce projet de loi. Je peux dire qu'en 1996, même si le ministre nous a dit tout à l'heure qu'il a eu l'appui des municipalités dans la région de l'est de l'Ontario, qui est Ottawa tout d'abord, l'ancien maire en place m'a fait parvenir une lettre en 1996 me disant qu'il fallait aller d'avant. J'ai aussi un document que je vais vous mentionner tout à l'heure disant que le conseil régional d'Ottawa-Carleton donnait des millions et des millions au secteur commercial du Québec, ce qui nous empêchait d'améliorer la situation économique en Ontario.

J'ai toutes les lettres de toutes les municipalités, des chambres de commerce, de Kapuskasing jusqu'à Cornwall, mais nous avons décidé de le laisser mourir. Pourquoi n'avons-nous pas procédé le 20 juin 1996 avec la troisième lecture ? Nous avons fait perdre à l'industrie de la construction de l'Ontario des heures et des heures de travail. Finalement, ce sont des personnes qui ont dû s'en aller vers le chômage. Après que le chômage échouait, n'était plus existant, nous avons dû nous joindre à l'assistance sociale. Est-ce que c'est juste - nous sommes dans l'opposition - pour le gouvernement conservateur de laisser ces personnes souffrir comme elles ont fait ?

J'ai ici une liste de personnes, mais avant de passer à la liste, j'aimerais dire que même si le gouvernement dit qu'il est sérieux dans son affaire, encore jusqu'aujourd'hui je me demandais si le gouvernement était pour procéder avec les deuxième et troisième lectures. Pourquoi n'avons-nous pas décidé de procéder la semaine dernière lorsque M. Moseley de la Greater Ottawa Trucking Association était présent ici toute la semaine ? Nous avons décidé de reporter et reporter le projet de loi.

Lors de la visite de notre premier ministre ainsi que de plusieurs ministres et tous les députés de la région d'Ottawa-Carleton, qui se sont rendus à un local dans ma circonscription à Navan, le premier ministre a dit qu'à compter du 1er avril, aucun autre contrat serait donné à une entreprise du Québec pour la construction soit de routes ou d'édifices gouvernementaux. Mais comment est-ce que ça se fait que huit jours après l'annonce, nous avons décidé de vendre la 407 et d'octroyer à cette firme du Québec la possibilité, ou on a donné notre permission, de prolonger la 407 pour au-delà de 900 $ millions ?

On dit que nous allons créer au-delà de 6000 emplois. Où vont-ils aller, ces 6000 emplois ? Est-ce que les deux entreprises du Québec vont faire la même chose que lorsque nous avions décidé de construire l'ambassade américaine d'Ottawa, en disant que nous allons faire venir nos travailleurs de la province de Québec et que les travailleurs de la construction de l'Ontario vont demeurer en chômage ? J'ai fait une enquête lorsque le contrat était octroyé pour la construction de l'ambassade américaine à Ottawa. Après notre enquête, nous nous sommes aperçus que l'entreprise du Québec avait omis, peut-être qu'elle l'avait oublié, d'inclure une taxe de 2 718 000 $. Nos entreprises de l'Ontario, PCL et Ellis-Don, qui étaient deuxième et troisième, avaient été obligées d'additionner la taxe. Nous en Ontario avons été obligés, mais le Québec n'était pas obligé.

Aujourd'hui on va nous dire que ce n'est peut-être pas juste, mais j'aimerais vous dire que le 11 décembre dernier j'ai fait le lancement d'un dépliant qui demandait au public d'appeler immédiatement le numéro 1-800. Le ministre a dit le lendemain que le numéro 1-800 existait depuis longtemps. Si le numéro 1-800 existait depuis longtemps, comment se fait-il que M. Bédard du bureau d'Oshawa nous a dit : «Maintenant c'est le numéro, et puis je peux vous dire qu'avec ce numéro, durant les heures d'ouverture de bureau, dans 20 secondes au maximum.» Je dis, «Pas 20 minutes comme le numéro 1-800 qui était donné par le premier ministre et le ministre du Travail du Parti conservateur. Dans 20 secondes vous avez la réponse.» Ce matin j'avais une entreprise du Québec qui avait été octroyée d'un contrat pour fermer une mine dans le nord de l'Ontario. Nous nous sommes aperçus que la firme n'était pas enregistrée en Ontario, qu'elle n'avait pas payé ces taxes en Ontario. Dans 20 secondes, même dans 10 secondes j'ai eu la réponse, immédiatement. Je crois que si le gouvernement est sérieux, nous allons l'avoir jusqu'à la dernière minute ce soir.

J'ai eu ici tout récemment, la semaine dernière, la construction d'une école à Stittsville, Ontario, Vitrerie Gauthier de Hawkesbury, un contrat de plus de 600 $ mille. La semaine dernière il vient d'être octroyé à une firme du Québec. Est-ce que nous étions sérieux le 31 mars dernier lorsque nous avons dit qu'aucune agence gouvernementale ne pourrait inviter ou donner un contrat à une entreprise du Québec ? Quelques semaines auparavant cette même entreprise, Vitrerie Gauthier de Hawkesbury, avait soumissionné un prix de 334 $ mille pour une autre école à Kemptville. Encore là, c'est une entreprise du Québec qui l'a eu.

Lorsqu'on dit que c'était injuste, la façon de laquelle le gouvernement a agi à date, est-ce que nous allons être sérieux plus tard, après la troisième lecture sera passée ?

Encore une fois ici, c'est un document que j'ai reçu le 24 avril dernier, une invitation de l'Hydro-Quebec aux entreprises de l'Ontario à soumissionner un prix de l'ordre de 400 $ mille. Remarquez bien, l'article est souligné : «admissibilité : le soumissionnaire doit avoir son principal établissement au Québec.» Voilà, chers collègues, la raison pourquoi on doit procéder le plus tôt possible. Nous voulons de la justice.

La semaine dernière j'attendais une entrevue à la radio. J'ai pris de la peine de rencontrer chacun des entrepreneurs principaux en construction du côté du Québec, et aussi d'assister à l'assemblée annuelle de l'Association des entrepreneurs en construction du Québec. Je leur ai dit, «Nous avons besoin de votre aide. Vous devez cogner à la porte de votre gouvernement et leur dire qu'un jour il serait trop tard.»

J'attendais l'entrevue la semaine dernière avec la firme Ed Brunet et Fils puis on disait, «Nous, on a aussi de la misère d'aller travailler en Ontario,» ce qui est complètement faux. On nous disait, «Les gens de l'Ontario peuvent venir construire au Québec à n'importe quel temps.» Mais pourquoi avons-nous pris la peine de faire parvenir ces documents-là ? Cela était parvenu a M. Massicotte Bros de Vanier.

J'en ai reçu plusieurs autres, depuis l'annonce du 31 mars dernier, dans la circonscription de mon collègue M. Gilles Morin - j'en ai une ici d'une entreprise, Toiture Raymond de Hull. «Nous avons décidé d'établir un bureau immédiatement en Ontario, mais lors de nos vérifications, l'un des bureaux est une maison en rangée à Kanata, dans la circonscription de notre ministre de l'Environnement. Ensuite, nous avons décidé d'avoir un casier postal. Est-ce que nous avons quelqu'un en place pour vérifier ?»

On nous dit que nous allons ouvrir un bureau dans un avenir rapproché à Ottawa, et puis que déjà nous avons procédé à l'embauche de personnes qui vont faire la vérification. J'en doute beaucoup. Même si j'ai eu une rencontre mercredi dernier avec le bureau du sous-ministre adjoint, on nous a dit que dans deux semaines environ, après qu'on aura passé la troisième lecture, nous allons nous assurer à ce que nous ayons des inspecteurs sur tous les chantiers de construction en Ontario, que toute entreprise du Québec doit venir s'inscrire, qu'une des personnes, un propriétaire de l'entreprise, doit être un résident de l'Ontario. Mais je me demande si nous allons avoir des amis dans cette entreprise.


Nous savons qu'actuellement, lorsque nous allons passer la troisième lecture, nous allons avoir un impact économique épouvantable dans la région d'Ottawa-Carleton. C'est que tous les chantiers de construction vont arrêter, puis qui sera blâmé ? Le gouvernement conservateur, parce qu'ils n'ont pas voulu mettre leurs culottes pendant trois ans. Nous aurions pu procéder étape par étape, et aujourd'hui nous allons mettre une barrière. Quand je dis «un impact économique», les agences d'immeubles, les maisons sont vendues. Nous avons promis qu'ils pourraient rentrer à telle date. Les commerces d'immeubles, dans tous les domaines, tout sera arrêté, et puis que vont devenir les autres personnes qui travaillent sur les chantiers de construction de l'Ontario ? Nous savons dans le moment qu'environ 80 % à 90 % des employés en construction dans le secteur résidentiel d'Ottawa-Carleton proviennent du Québec. On le sait.

Je vais continuer avec d'autres exemples.

En 1996, j'ai fait parvenir une lettre au ministre des Finances dont j'ai la réponse. Il m'a dit, «Nous allons y voir immédiatement.» Je lui ai fait parvenir une lettre que j'avais obtenue de la Commission des accidents du travail qui démontrait que nous avons payé, en prestations à nos accidentés, 50 412 736,44 $ pour 5703 accidents. C'est ça que nous, les entreprises de l'Ontario, avec la Commission des accidents du travail, avons dû payer. Pourquoi ? Parce que ce gouvernement-là a retiré tous les inspecteurs de la construction que nous avions sur les chantiers de construction.

J'ai mentionné tout à l'heure que même le conseil régional d'Ottawa-Carleton, à un certain temps, octroyait une quantité de contrats. J'en ai ici pour au-delà, je dirais, de huit millions de dollars dans un an qui étaient octroyés.

Je regarde ici mon collègue M. Grandmaître d'Ottawa-Vanier, qui avait déposé un projet de loi dans le passé, et qui a aussi émis un communiqué de presse le 13 mai 1993 qui avait demandé au gouvernement du temps, au NPD, de procéder le plus tôt possible. Mais nous avons fermé l'oreille.

J'en ai une bonne ici. Je regarde M. Roland Amyot, une personne de Vanier qui travaillait pour un conseil scolaire sur le côté du Québec depuis 14 ans. La personne a eu le malheur de dire, «Je veux rester au Canada, je veux demeurer au Canada, mais au lieu d'être au Québec, je vais m'en aller en Ontario.» Il a déménagé en Ontario, le pauvre gars, le 8 décembre 1995. Comme on dirait en anglais : "You are fired. Tu est congédié parce que tu as quitté la province de Québec." En voilà un bon exemple.

J'ai d'autres cas ici : Elevator Cab Renovations - injustice.

Bertrand Construction l'Original : c'est le meilleur que j'ai vu. Hydro-Québec empêche les compagnies de l'Ontario de soumettre un prix pour construction le long de la rivière Outaouais - le long de la rivière Outaouais, mais en Ontario. Mais si vous êtes une entreprise de l'Ontario, vous ne pouvez pas soumettre une quotation pour un contrat en Ontario. C'est de même, ça existe depuis longtemps.

J'ai Southam Construction, un autre bel exemple. Ce qui importe, c'est une compagnie qui installe des systèmes de sécurité dans les édifices. Il y avait des édifices du côté du Québec et des édifices du côté de l'Ontario. Cela procédait pendant quatre mois, mais le fait qu'elle n'a pas de bureau au Québec bannit leur soumission.

Robert Excavating : nous n'avons que se rappeler les inondations que nous avons eues au Saguenay. Encore une fois, si je vous raconte ces histoires, c'est parce que beaucoup de gens ne savent pas pourquoi on doit procéder de cette façon. Robert Excavating d'Embrun, Ontario : le Québec était pris. Il y avait des inondations. On cherchait de l'équipement. On appelle Robert Excavating : «On a besoin de ton équipement, mais tu ne peux pas emmener tes employés.» Donc, une autre fois, injustice.

Le Groupe Hogan a écrit à la ministre du temps, Mme Witmer, qui donnait sa façon de penser sur la façon dont nous avons procédé.

Frank Laverty ; Ron Taillefer d'Orléans ; P & G Roofing and Sheet Metal ; Coudriau et Fils d'Ottawa. La Commission de la construction du Québec, j'en avais une bonne ici. J'avais un collègue, M. Paul Chamberlain de Plantagenet, qui travaillait sur le pont Perley lors de la construction à Hawkesbury. Cette personne-là avait un camion avec ce qu'on appelle en anglais un «boom». C'était un bras mécanique pour soulever le matériel de construction. Son contremaître lui a demandé d'aller à l'autre côté du pont pour retirer ou enlever sur une flotte de l'équipement. Donc, immédiatement il a dû payer des amendes, et j'ai tous les montants ici.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): Do you like this bill or not?

M. Lalonde : C'est peut-être parce que je parle français. Si on prenait notre écouteur, on pourrait avoir la traduction.

Mr Murdoch: No, I just asked him if it was a good bill or not.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Grey-Owen Sound, come to order.

M. Lalonde: J'ai avec moi deux autres exemples pourquoi on doit procéder. J'ai un article du Ottawa Citizen : "Why Quebec Jailed a Man for Working."

This is the way it's going in Quebec at the present time. If you have an Ontario man working in Quebec - you just can't go over. If you are caught working in Quebec, either you pay a fine or you go to jail. This guy, because he didn't want to pay a fine, went to jail for 24 days.

There's another one here. This poor fellow's house burned down in a small village. His house burned down and everybody at the hotel - in a small place, everybody meets at the hotel - decided to chip in some money to help him build. So what did they do? On Saturday and Sunday, they got together and built a house. What happened to this poor man whose house burned down? It was $1,250 and $250 for every single man who helped him.

Je pourrais continuer avec des items qui pourraient faire jongler les personnes : «Pourquoi doit-on procéder de cette façon ?»

Je veux laisser la chance à un de mes collègues de continuer à parler sur ce projet de loi. Là encore je peux dire que nous, mes collègues et moi du Parti libéral, sommes prêts à supporter ce projet de loi. Les personnes qui voteront contre ce projet de loi vont pouvoir dire que nous avons encore nui à la construction pour une autre année.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): I'm pleased to join in this debate on Bill 17, An Act respecting Labour Mobility in the Construction Industry aimed at Restricting Access to Those Taking Advantage of Ontario's Policy of Free Mobility. The Minister of Labour has introduced this as the Fairness is a Two-Way Street Act, and I want to dwell on this because indeed fairness is a two-way street.

When the government introduced this bill last Wednesday, I stood in the House and I was able to say that I was pleased to support the legislation as an important first step to bring the Quebec government to the bargaining table to improve access for qualified Ontario workers at Quebec construction sites.

As a member coming from the Ottawa Valley, as the member for Ottawa West, someone who has long been involved in his community at the school board level, city level and regional level, living in my own community, I know too well the frustration of many qualified Ontario workers, particularly along the Ontario-Quebec border and particularly in Ottawa-Carleton, who are being prevented from working across the Ottawa River when no similar restriction exists on our side.

We do need to negotiate a better deal, and this legislation begins that process, but I also said in my response to the minister that it's important to remember that access is the key issue here, not relaxing standards that protect jobs and working men and women, like trade qualifications and occupational health and safety requirements. If we are to accept the slogan that fairness is a two-way street, we have to recognize that protecting workers and employers through better trade qualifications in Ontario will have to be part of the deal.

I have to look at the situation we find ourselves in tonight, where on the eve of an election call we find ourselves debating a bill and in essence rushing through a very important bill.


I was there back on December 14 when the Minister of Labour came into the shopping centre in Ottawa West where my constituency office is, Lincoln Heights Galleria, and announced his Fairness is a Two-Way Street campaign with lots of media, lots of handouts, lots of posters, a hotline and the whole of it. There was a very well-crafted media campaign with lots of glitz and glitter and people being brought in from all over the province to showcase this wonderful little initiative the province was doing.

As the member who spoke before me said, this is happening almost three years after this government took office, when so many people for so many years were having so much difficulty with this. But it was a good media event. I was there because I did believe that it was necessary to begin a process to start negotiations to level the playing field. We're dealing with access here.

Then we had the announcement that came out at the end of March, whereby the government said it was going to proceed with retaliatory measures to force people in the Quebec government to come to the table, retaliatory measures so that we would indeed have people in Quebec suffering from the same kind of system or some replication thereof similar to what our qualified tradespeople were facing going into Quebec. They made that announcement March 31.

I issued a press release at that time saying that it was important, indeed obligatory, for the government to recall the Legislature so we could bring in a bill and deal with this issue. We don't want to be in the context of creating a trade war. We don't want to be in the context of Quebec bashing in this country of ours. There are implications that go beyond simply trying to make sure that our qualified workers are able to work in Quebec, because there is the issue of other agendas seeking to drag down trade qualifications in the regulated industries, seeking to drag down those protections that are in place, that have been built to protect working men and women in this particular industry across this country.

I asked for this Legislature to be recalled. In fact, the calendar even said that we would have the Legislature back here on March 25. But we did not meet on March 25, nor did we meet on the 26th or 27th. We did not come back until late April, and then, not the first day this House was in session, not the second day, but the third day - in fact, we only saw the bill here in the New Democratic caucus the day before the Legislation was about to be introduced. In our calls around to the building trades council of Ottawa-Carleton and the building trades council of Ontario, lo and behold, we discovered, talking to those officials, that they had not even been consulted with respect to the wording of the bill.

I don't call this very good government. Here is a genuine issue that the minister is involved in, that members of the government caucus from the Ottawa Valley and from the other parties are involved in, that I'm involved in, yet we find ourselves in a situation where we're presented with a bill and we're being asked to waive printing of the first reading, wave it through second reading, wave it through committee consideration, right into third reading and out.

Why this indecent haste on a piece of legislation that is truly important? To fit another agenda. This government doesn't mind spending $1 million in advertising its hotline telephone number, billboards across my region - Fairness is a Two-Way Street. You see the whole issue here, but yet this government, when it comes down to bringing forward and putting through this important bill, all of a sudden is calling an election tomorrow. That's far more important.

I had people calling me saying: "Don't delay the bill. The government's going to call the election and all our years of work will go up in smoke." Who controls the business of this House? It's not the New Democratic Party that controls the business of this House. It's the government that comes in and sets the agenda and it's the government that calls the election.

This government has a mandate until June 2000. If this thing is so important, why don't we spend the extra week on it? I'm ready. That's what taxpayers are paying me to do. So don't all of a sudden land on our desks here a bill that's important for all our residents in Ottawa-Carleton, important for a whole host of reasons, and yet all of a sudden, bingo, it has to be done now, now, now. That's an insult to the working men and women of my community, that they only find out about this the day the government announces it. That was Wednesday and here we are, people can't even look at it and talk about the other implications. This issue has been around for a long time.

Mr Murdoch: We're trying to help you. Maybe we should cancel the bill.

The Acting Speaker: Order, order. Member for Grey-Owen Sound, come to order.

Mr Cullen: This issue has been around, as has been said before, for over 20 years. I was a member of Ottawa regional council when we took the example from New Brunswick. There was no activity happening until, in 1993, the government of New Brunswick, dealing with this very selfsame issue, decided to ban the use of construction workers coming across into New Brunswick, and they were successful in doing that. It was not until then that the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, the city of Ottawa, the city of Nepean and the city of Gloucester said, "If they can do this in New Brunswick, we can do this here." Indeed we began to pass motions, began to take unilateral action.

Our legal staff told us this would be dangerous territory, but we were very concerned. As a result, because of the activity that was happening at the grassroots level in 1993, which I'm pleased to say I was part of, the government of Ontario then came on board and introduced Bill 123. The Honourable Frances Lankin, who was then the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, brought in Bill 123 which gave the government of Ontario the ability to declare jurisdictions as not being able to provide workers into the construction industry.

That was a good bill. That was an excellent bill and had all-party support in this chamber, support from the third party, which was then the Conservative Party, and the support of the opposition, which was then the Liberal Party. That bill gave the government the ability to declare who could participate in the construction industry, that's it, that's all. Because that bill was introduced, that brought the Quebec government to the table. That bill brought the Quebec government to the table, not the motions passed by the regional council, the city of Ottawa or the other neighbouring municipalities, but the fact that that government, an NDP government, brought in a bill that had real teeth.

The government of Quebec came to the table and actually signed an Ontario-Quebec agreement on public procurement and construction labour mobility, setting out the principle of fair, non-discriminatory reciprocal access to employment and business opportunities. Both governments agreed to negotiate a system that would fully recognize and credit the qualifications, skills and experience of construction workers by the other province, and we on our side here agreed to suspend Bill 123 following second reading, and at the end of the day the bill was simply dropped.

There was more work done on this. In 1994, the NDP government was able to sign with the Quebec government a mutual recognition agreement which included qualification, skills and experience of journeypersons and apprentices in 22 trades and access for semi-skilled and unskilled workers. The second part of the agreement opened up the public sector procurement so that suppliers from each province could have access to both markets. We upheld our end of the deal. Unfortunately, in Quebec it fell down, which is a shame and a pity and brings us here today.

No wonder people in my community are frustrated after so many years of effort. My first case as an MPP dealt with a constituent of mine who came into my office, a pipefitter who found himself not able to get a job in Ontario because all the construction sites had been bid out to companies who brought in cheaper labour from Quebec. He could not employ his trade here in Ontario. He would go from job site to job site and there were no openings for him, there were so many Quebec licence plates there. People who clearly met our qualifications would offer cheaper labour and therefore basically outcompete him for the jobs, yet when he went across the river to try and work in the trade for which he was qualified, he kept on running into bureaucratic hassle after bureaucratic hassle, having to report to the occupational health and safety bureau to update his card, and he simply found he could not find employment. It was too much hassle, too much bother. That's simply not fair.

I understand completely the frustration when he came forward. I looked at this issue and I talked to my colleagues and we tried to bring forward ways and means to find some resolution. In that context, I am very pleased that indeed we have a bill here, but remember, this bill only sets the course towards a bargaining table.

We have to talk about worker standards, because I have here a letter from the building trades and construction department of the AFL-CIO, the national body of which Ontario is a part, Quebec is a part and all the other building and construction trades councils are a part. This is a letter that was written to Mike Harris, Premier of Ontario: "If you're looking for solutions to the interprovincial construction problem and to curb the underground economy, listen to what the construction industry is proposing."


This is why I have such a problem with the process, because the trades councils were not consulted. I spoke to the Building and Construction Trades Council of Ottawa-Carleton. I was there at their meeting where this issue came up and I was pleased to be able to tell them that we support creating better access but we also support ensuring that there are standards in place to support working men and women. In fact, if there's anything to learn in Quebec it is that they have better standards protecting their working men and women. There's still the issue of access, and we must resolve that, but no one in this chamber is going to say that we ought to water down our standards, which are there to protect working men and women, in order to make this work. Not at all.

I went there, but they weren't consulted. I spoke to the Ontario Building and Construction Trades Council and they weren't consulted.

Let's remember what the building and construction trades councils want to ensure. They want to ensure "that the provincial...government consider the widening of the certificate of qualifications system. (The implementation of this proposal would facilitate the development of a registry of qualified tradespersons.)"

We want to ensure, everybody wants to ensure, that when you work in a trade, you are qualified to do so. If you're not qualified, the danger of injury, the danger of shoddy workmanship comes about. We all want to make sure, whether you're a contractor on this side of the river or on that side of the river or a person who is building that school, that hospital, that extension to your home, that you have real qualified people doing the job. That's straightforward. Who can argue with that?

As well, the building and construction trades people say: "That consideration be given to establishing formal recognition systems for eventual linkage with certification programs, among other categories of residential contractors." That's straight up, that makes good sense and that's what we have to be talking about. If fairness is to be a two-way street, then this has to be on the table as well.

"That workers' compensation acts be amended where necessary to provide that businesses or owner-builders engaging individuals or firms with fewer than three employees not already registered with the board...be required to pay workers' compensation assessments on their behalf." This is a fundamental issue.

As a matter of fact, the government recognized this in its earlier commentary about what happens when people come over from Quebec and work here. If you're not covered by workers' compensation, if you're not paying into worker's compensation, you have an unfair competitive advantage. Not only do you put your employees at risk - because if there's an injury on the job site, how can they claim compensation? - but they come in and compete for bids not having to pay for what we believe should be paid for.

Here in Ontario, if you're on a construction site, we require contributions to workers' compensation because we've learned from sad experience that there are accidents and that these people must be compensated. This is how the system works. So we have to make sure this is a mutually recognized system among the provinces. That creates a more level playing field.

"That governments pursue...the feasibility of exchanging compatible data that can assist in the identification of unreported construction employment."

We know that the underground economy exists, but we do not wish to promote it or tolerate it because in that underground economy, non-regulation means that people aren't covered when it comes time for injury and that shoddy workmanship can come about because there is not the insurance that people who engage in that trade have the qualifications that give them the licence to engage in construction, whether it's carpentry, pipefitting, electrical or what have you.

These are very, very important things. Again, we're talking about protecting not only the worker but the builder, the construction contractor and that body, whether it's a public body, a school board, a municipality, the provincial government or a private person, whether it be a shopping centre developer or the individual private homebuilder or what have you and that indeed there is good quality workmanship, because you're hiring people who have gone through the trade certification program and know what they're doing. This is important.

These are important issues and ought not to be thrown out with all of this.

I spoke about my own history, my own background, and the frustration in my community. We are going to hear this from others, I'm sure, from other sides of the House, that this has been a long-standing problem. But let us remember - even though the government's running around like crazy because it wants to get everything done in time for an election call - this bill only puts forward some bureaucratic hassles. That's all it does. It tells people that if you're going to come over and work in the construction industry, you must register at a registry office and that if you're working for a construction contractor, they too must register at the office. And yes, there are going to be inspections to make sure that you pay your workers' compensation, workers' safety board assessment, and that you pay your retail sales tax.

But will that actually level the playing field? Will that actually bring the Quebec government to the table? I don't think so. I'm willing to give it a shot, but I don't think so. If this problem sits out there, then what? There are other players involved here. The truckers are involved hauling aggregate, and we're going to learn very quickly that there's also the problem of truckers hauling timber. But what is going to bring the Quebec government to the table if all that's going to happen is that people have to go register?

So they register, so they pay their workers' safety assessment and they pay their retail tax requirements. What then? Is that going to make it easier for our qualified men and women to get access to those jobs on the other side? I don't think so.

I think there needs to be more teeth to this legislation and that is why our party is prepared to introduce by amendment a trigger, a deadline. If indeed we do not have a negotiated settlement by April 1, 2000, then we ought to have the provisions that our government brought in back in 1993, which is stronger legislation which gives government the power to declare, "If you are in this jurisdiction and you haven't met our requirements, you don't work in Ontario," none of this business about just simply registering at an office.

Face it. What's going to happen? The construction companies in Quebec are going to register in Ontario and they're going to pay their retail sales tax and they'll pay their workers' compensation, and their bids will have to go up a little bit to reflect the cost of doing business. But is that going to make it any better for our men and women to get across there? No.

If the object of this bill is to bring Quebec to the table - we know what brought Quebec to the table, because we did it in 1993 - I don't think this is going to bring Quebec to the table. Quebec has seen this bill. They saw the government on the other side rattling its sabres back in December when the Minister of Labour came to Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre and did his little show and tell - all the cameras were there and he basically outlined the program - and then in March when again they rattled the swords and said: "Look, this is what we're going to do. We're going to make you register." Oh my. "We're going to make you come out and pay retail sales tax." Oh my. I know the minister in Quebec is shivering in her boots. "We're going to make you pay workers' assessment." Oh my.

Well, I'm sorry. If that's not going to cut it, we need something more. We're prepared - and I hope the government side will support this, because it's towards a mutually desirable goal, which is to create fairness between the two jurisdictions for people who are qualified to work in their area so they can go across. If we have a qualified tradesman or tradeswoman going across to do electrical wiring or putting in the plumbing or putting up the drywall or the sheet metal, they should be able to work there. Similarly, if their people are qualified, they should be able to work here, because we have to remember that we still are one nation and there ought to be an ability for people to move in this country of ours to where the jobs are. What, we are going to turn back people from the Maritimes who come to Toronto looking for work? Of course not. But we are talking about fairness and it is unfair what's happening in Quebec today to our qualified working tradesmen and tradeswomen.

We are going to offer, in the spirit - if you'll pardon the pun - of constructive contribution towards this debate an amendment that will give the government the ability to pull the trigger if it believes it's necessary to then move to the next step. If there's not an agreement at the table that they believe is going to work, then they are going to be able to declare a jurisdiction and say, "You, living in that jurisdiction, will not be able to work in the construction industry, no ifs, ands or buts."


I would say to the government on the other side, it worked in 1993 and it would be a good thing to have in your back pocket here in 1999, going into the year 2000. It's a back-pocket provision that had all-party support. Your party supported it, the Liberal Party supported it back then and I believe it deserves support today.

But we need to negotiate. Let's make this very clear: This is not a race to the bottom. People are talking about reducing costs, yet what does the government say when it looks at the kinds of issues it has to deal with for folks coming across here? They say that folks coming across here are not paying the retail sales tax requirements. Of course they should pay the retail sales tax requirements. They say the requirement to notify the Ministry of Labour on a project start is not being met; it should be. That occupational health and safety laws aren't being met; they should be. That workplace safety and insurance premium rules aren't being followed; they should be. We're not talking about undoing these things; we're making sure that these things are being met.

Similarly, the whole issue of trades regulation: Why do we regulate trades? Let's just think this one over. There was a time when trades were not regulated. So why in Ontario do we regulate trades? For two reasons: One is to protect the worker and the other is to protect the consumer, the person buying the service being provided by the tradespeople. We regulate trades to make sure you know how to operate equipment. With advances in technology we have more and more mechanization and with it the increased danger of risk of injury. So you need to know how to operate the equipment and you have to take that course, you have to do your hours, you have to pass that test to get that certificate. It's good for the consumer to know that he or she has a qualified tradesperson there and it's good for the worker because we know that person at least is familiar with the tools required to do the job. That's a protection for all of us.

Quite frankly, I think there is something to be learned from Quebec in this regard because there is more regulation with respect to trades qualifications. We're not talking about watering that down; all we're talking about is creating a level playing field, creating better access for our qualified workers. We do not wish to water down those things that protect workers, those things that protect consumers. I cannot believe this government would sign a deal that would water that down.

But I will tell you, in the context of all of this, as we go into an election, for those people who are concerned that the government may trade away those protections that we have built over the years in terms of protecting workers in the workplace, whether it is occupational health and safety, trades regulations or workplace safety, your best guarantee of working out a deal with Quebec that won't erode any of these things is to elect a New Democratic government. I have to tell you that it's to elect a New Democratic government.

What is the record of this government when it comes to workplace safety? We just have to go through the sorry list, the very sad list of everything they've put into place in terms of labour protection. This government has taken so much away in terms of labour protection, yet they're going to stand up and say, "We're going to protect workers." I'm sorry, this is the big, bad wolf coming to look after your children there if you're Ms Pig in this environment. Not at all.

We support this bill as the means to work out and negotiate at the table fair access to construction and trades workplaces in Quebec - absolutely - but let us remember the fundamental principle here: that we're not willing to support trading off those protections that people in Ontario have worked long and hard for, that people in Quebec have worked long and hard for. We cannot expect them to give up those things that protect them from injury in the workplace and those things that protect consumers and contractors from bad workmanship. These are the important things.

These things have not come about because of some benign government, whether it's this government or any other government. They came about because workers got together and said, "We must protect ourselves." This is how they did it and this is how trade unions came about: to protect themselves in the workplace through the use of regulation, co-operatively, hand-in-hand; as matter of fact, when you look at the past decades, working together to protect the workplace. Face it. If we have a worker who is injured on the job, there is a public liability as well as the private liability. There is a taxpayer liability on the health care system and on the support that's required to maintain this worker's family.

We are very concerned on our side that we do not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Yes, we have to have fair access. I've been part of that since 1993 and my record is clear. I'm pleased to say we will support it today, but I'm also pleased to say that this bill, if we are going to ensure that there's going to be an agreement at the table, requires more teeth. When we get to committee of the whole, I will be pleased to bring forward that amendment. I expect to have all-party support with respect to that amendment because it's a trigger designed, in April 2000, to grant the government the ability to declare a jurisdiction and it's a provision that had all-party support back in 1993 in this House.

So with this, we are prepared to facilitate the passage of this bill. We expect that this bill will carry second reading tonight. We'll go into committee of the whole. Unfortunately, we won't have hearings to hear from the very people who have vital interests in this, who only have heard about this bill, seen the wording of this bill for less than a week, due to the government's own timing. As well, we will facilitate this so it will receive royal assent before this government pulls the plug on its own destruction. I look forward to the election and I look forward to a better result, because I think Ontarians are sick and tired of seeing an income tax cut that has cost them in terms of services in their communities.

Mr Gerretsen: A Liberal government, right, Alex?

Mr Cullen: I have to say to my colleague from Kingston and The Islands that unfortunately his party does not have the wherewithal to correct the damage Mike Harris has done to our health care, our education and our community services. Only the NDP has, because only the NDP has the courage to deal with the engine that's driving all of this, the income tax cut which has benefited only the top 6% of the population yet has cost us $10 billion in additional debt here in Ontario. With that, I will now concede my seat to the next speaker.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): May I first of all just say that I express my appreciation to the minister, Mr Flaherty, for bringing this bill forward. This is something very dear to my heart that I've worked on over a period of almost 25 years. The matter first was discussed at the regional council table in the mid-1970s, at a time when the late Dennis Coolican was regional chairman, Andy Haydon was the mayor of the city of Nepean, Bob MacQuarrie, a former member of this House, was the reeve of the township of Gloucester and the member for Ottawa-Vanier was then the mayor of Eastview.

It's hard to believe that it takes a quarter of a century to get anything done in this province. It was 24 years ago that I sat at that council table and we discussed Highway 416, a four-lane highway from 401 into the city of Ottawa. It'll be finished next year, after 25 years.

Mr Gerretsen: Who started the job?

Mr Guzzo: I know who started it and I remember that the Rae government put two overpasses going the wrong way too. If Mr Pouliot was here I'd have more to say about that.

It was 23 years ago that I sat as a member of the bench and bar.

Mr Gerretsen: You guys had been in power for 22 of those years.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Kingston and The Islands, come to order.

Mr Guzzo: Let this man from Kingston and The Islands - do you want the floor? I never came to your council chamber when you were mayor and interrupted very often.

I think of the Unified Family Court that we introduced a few months ago; 22 years ago I sat in my first judicial bar meeting to deal with it. Today we have, what, still 40% or 45% of the province under the old system.

But nevertheless it is very gratifying to see this bill coming forward and to hear the comments of the parties that it will pass tonight, because 25 years ago we came up here. Mr Grandmaître, the mayor of Eastview at the time, was a member of the committee. We met with the Premier of the province, Bill Davis; the member for Gloucester, Bert Lawrence; and the member for Ottawa South, the Honourable Claude Bennett. We were assured in 1974 or early 1975 that this would be rectified.


Mr Gerretsen: What happened?

Mr Guzzo: I'll tell you what happened. It's a very interesting comment on history, what happened. He said, "I won't do it right now; I'm going to wait until after the Quebec election, which is only a few months away." A strange thing happened on the way to the polls in Quebec that year: René Lévesque came to power, and nothing happened. Nothing has really happened in 25 years in relationships between the federal government and the province of Quebec, and between our province and the province of Quebec, on this issue and many other issues. It's a sad commentary on -


The Acting Speaker: Member for Ottawa West, come to order.

Mr Guzzo: Yes, get control of him.

Here we sit today dealing with an issue. I don't want to be partisan about this. As a person who was relieved of my judicial duties and was back on the business side, the private sector, I watched with interest what the Rae government attempted to do. I commend the minister, Ms Lankin. I agree she moved the envelope forward in a very fine effort. Unfortunately, the Quebec government did not live up to its word. It's exactly the same thing that happened to Mrs Witmer two years ago when she took the thing: taking them at face value, believing what was said and then being sabotaged. I think it's a sad commentary on the intergovernmental relations we have had.

Mr Lalonde's private member's bill - I recognized the sincerity of his effort - mirrored the 1993 bill of Mr Sterling, the member for Carleton. Broken promises did not result in any benefit for the people of Ontario who were struggling to work on that side and in fact work in their own trades on the Ontario side.

The complaints I have heard, as a municipal councillor and as a lawyer representing contractors and workers, have been numerous, but probably the most serious one I remember was an Ontario electrical contractor on Merivale Road in the west end of Ottawa. He had been in business for 26 years and had an enviable record of running a very fine operation. He built himself a cottage on Blue-Sea-Lake, not 20 minutes from the Parliament Buildings, just into the province of Quebec. He did his own wiring, as one might expect he would do. He has no occupancy permit, six years later, for that cottage. He can't get one. There's nothing wrong with the wiring, but they will not inspect it. They won't inspect it because he's not licensed over there, working on his own cottage.

You might say, "That's fine," until you go to finance it or until you go to sell the building. It's impossible to do. On a matter of principle, he will not spend the $5,000 or $7,000, whatever, on the contractor with the qualifications - no better than his own, I assure you; a master electrician in Ontario. That master electrician or journeyman over there will charge him to come in and inspect his work on his own building, which was done six years ago.

I look back at Ontario contractors bidding on the Quebec side and being successful, the low bidder on federal government or private sector contracts. They wait, and they're told it's going to take somewhere between four and seven weeks before they can be certified in order to bid on the contract they've already won. What's the difference? Why should it take four, five, six weeks? How long it will take depends how long before the bid is closed and the contract is awarded. If it takes five weeks to close and award the bid, it takes six weeks to certify them, and if they're not certified at the time of the awarding of the contract, they can't assume their responsibilities and perform the contract. If it takes seven weeks until the contract can be awarded, it takes eight weeks for them to be certified. It's a continual process.

In the union halls of Quebec, every resident of Quebec is called before an Ontario tradesman registered over there is called. In Ontario, it's a far more democratic process, but sometimes it's not a 50-50 situation. When Quebec contractors bidding on Ontario contracts order materials, they have them billed to the province of Quebec. The materials are shipped to the site in Ontario, but because the bill of lading is sent to Quebec, they don't pay the sales tax. They are not obliged to pay our sales tax and they forget to pay their own sales tax. On schools - some of which have been built in our time, in the riding of John Baird - we've seen contracts where the cost of the goods, the materials alone, has been $4 million or $5 million. A 7.5% or 8% saving gives them a $400,000 or $500,000 jump on the Ontario contractor.

The member for Ottawa West makes a good point about bringing the Quebec government to the table. It's not going to be an easy situation. No one knows this situation better than a labour lawyer who practised labour law in Lac Saint-Jean. I've had occasion, when the present Premier of Quebec was the Minister of Justice, to discuss this matter with him ad nauseam. He understands it better than anyone in this House. He understands it better than any lawyer practising law in the city of Ottawa. He admitted at that time - certainly not thinking ahead to the time when he would be in the Premier's chair - how difficult it would be, because since the days of the Duplessis government, the labour unions have run the government in Quebec.

Mr Cullen: He wasn't a separatist, either. He was an NDP back then.

Mr Guzzo: You people will grab at any straw, won't you? You can have him.

Let me just suggest to you, after talking in the last six to 10 weeks with Quebec MLAs, with Quebec federal members, that there's a solution to this problem: It's a zone along that border of 30 miles or 30 kilometres that would be outside the limit. We don't have to change the labour laws of Quebec; we don't have to revert back to what it was earlier, but we have to have a competitive zone along there. That's a position that many of the MLAs and particularly many of the federal members would welcome and be prepared to support.

I, like my friend from Ottawa West, have some difficulty in believing that the Bouchard government is not going to come to the table, but it is a possibility; I'm prepared to admit that. I never thought we would have to go this far. It is not a pleasant situation. When this was discussed in our caucus, let me just assure you, two and three years ago, it looked like an extreme position. Today there are people who appreciate that it is not extreme. It is frustrating, and we may have to go further. The issue is one that has been kicking around. As I say, in my lifetime I have been dealing with it for 25 years, and it wasn't a new issue at that time. I simply say that I respect the position, and I was appreciative of the support I received from the member for Vanier, the former mayor of Eastview, Mr Grandmaître. I regret that when he was in a position to do something in the Peterson government, he did not have time to take it under his wing, but I understand the constraints that were placed on him.

This situation cannot continue. We have people, taxpaying individuals in Ontario, who are being treated as second-class citizens. They and their families are suffering. These are individual workers and contractors and employees of those contracting firms. It has to stop, and it has to stop now. I look forward to the passing of this bill, and I particularly commend the minister for having the foresight to bring it to the position it's at today.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): I know there are a number of members of my caucus who want to speak to this very important issue, so I will not speak at great length.

I want to say from the outset that we are very pleased to rise in support of this bill and to ensure its passage this evening before the election tomorrow. I want also to express my disappointment with the fact that this government has dragged its feet on this bill. Viewers should understand that Bill 17 is essentially the Jean-Marc Lalonde bill, which was introduced in this Legislature over three years ago and which received the unanimous support of all of the members present at the time.

It's insightful to understand that now, at the 11th hour, with this government staring into the face of an election, it decided first it was going to go through some kind of a billboard campaign, putting up billboards certainly in Ottawa-Carleton. Then they were going to have a 1-800 number. They were going to make very much of the fact that this was suddenly a most pressing issue for them to address.

A member of my caucus, Jean-Marc Lalonde, introduced a bill which would effectively have addressed this problem three years ago, a bill which was supported by all members present in the Legislature on the day it was debated. This government chose to deep-six the Lalonde bill. It chose not to bring it forward to committee and not to allow it to see the light of day. We find ourselves on the eve of a provincial election with a government anxious to ingratiate itself with those communities, particularly those along the Quebec border that have had to contend with this unfairness for the last several years. This government has now decided it's going to just get its act together.

You've got to wonder about its commitment to this legislation and to those workers who have been adversely affected for the past four years because of the unfairness that prevails. You've got to wonder about this government's commitment, when it chooses to pass this bill, likely the last piece of legislation passed by this government, at the 11th hour, relying entirely on the goodwill of the opposition parties to make this happen.

You'd think the government might want to ensure it allowed enough time for this to go out to committee, to provide for improvements along the way by those people who are affected directly by this legislation, people who work on the front lines. You'd think the government would have taken the time to ensure there was sufficient time to gain that kind of input. But again, the government chose to launch an expensive billboard campaign and to make it clear to the world at large that they were very concerned about this issue. Now we find ourselves, as I say, on the eve of an election.

It's important to understand too that for quite some time the Premier said that come April 1 there would be no more Mr Nice Guy when it came to dealing with this issue and that Quebec contractors ought to understand that come April 1 there would be no second chances, granted that this government meant business.

Then we find out, I think it was April 14, that this government entered into a contract for the sale of Highway 407 just north of Toronto. Part of that contract provides for construction of an extension on that highway, to the tune of $900 million. It's been a long time since we've had a $900-million construction contract signed like that in Ontario. Now we discover that this contract was entered into with a Quebec company. So it's quite obvious that Mr Harris has some very deeply held convictions when it comes to making sure the Quebec government understands fully the depth of his commitment to workers in Ontario; but on April 14 he enters into a contract, which, by the way, nets this government $1.6 billion in profit at the last hour. Either we're sending a signal to the province of Quebec and to the government of Quebec that we mean business when it comes to this issue, or we're not. If we are, then why is it that Mike Harris entered into a contract which is going to pay $900 million for a construction job to a Quebec construction company?

I would ask Ontario voters, particularly people who live in those communities that have been plagued by this problem for such an extended period of time now, to fully consider the fact that Mike Harris decided at the 11th hour to enter into a political propaganda campaign, to put up the billboards and the 1-800 number and now, relying entirely on the goodwill of the opposition parties, he chooses to make this law and then to run on this as part of his election platform, if he was truly committed to bringing about fairness.

The members opposite have made reference to the fact that we've been talking about this for a long time in this Legislature. If he was truly committed to resolving this problem, would he not have introduced legislation a long time ago? Would he not have adopted Jean-Marc Lalonde's legislation? Would he not have shied away from assuming all of the risks that he is this evening by relying entirely on the goodwill of the opposition parties? If he really meant business, would he not have taken all those things into consideration? Finally, would he not have said to the Quebec construction company to which he gave $900 million, "Sorry, I can't do business with you, because I'm trying to send a clear, unequivocal message to Quebec, making it clear that we mean business when it comes to this issue"?

Will this legislation come at some cost to Ontarians? Absolutely it will. The greatest heat, I predict, will come from within and not from without once the rubber hits the road when it comes to Bill 17. Again, I think the Premier's bona fides, the Premier's real commitment when it comes to addressing this issue, is certainly very suspect. The real tragedy here is that we weren't debating this legislation three years ago, at the time Jean-Marc Lalonde first introduced it.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I want to take some time to comment on this bill, but if you'll give me a little bit of latitude, I'd like to first of all wish well my colleague Bud Wildman, the member for Algoma, who everybody knows is going to be retiring. This is the opportunity I have to say just a few things, Mr Speaker, if you will allow.

I was first elected in 1990 and Bud, quite frankly, was one of the members of our caucus, along with Shelley and a few others, who took a number of northern members under his wing - people like Tony Martin, myself and Len Wood - and really gave us a good grounding in what our job was to be as politicians in northern Ontario. Bud, I think, instilled in most of us in northern Ontario, the new members of the class of 1990, a work ethic that is pretty hard to follow, considering the hours Bud keeps. He told us always to remember who we are, where we're from and who we work for, and basically work as a group in northern Ontario because it's so important that we stay together as northern politicians to lobby effectively for what is good for our part of the province.

I have all kinds of things I can say about Bud. Some of them were said today, but I just want to mention a couple of things very quickly. It can't go without being said that Bud played a very instrumental role in our government in being able to move certain pieces of legislation and concepts that eventually became legislation in our government. I can take great pride that Mr Wildman, the member for Algoma, was the minister responsible for starting up the first forest audit, which looked at the condition of our forests in northern Ontario and how much timber was available. Resulting from that, we have seen the expansion or creation of nine new mills in northern Ontario, which created thousands of jobs for northerners. I'm the benefactor in my communities of that particular work Bud started. It shows the work Bud has done over the years. When he became minister, he understood what the job was and set out to do that job.


The last point would be that you cannot talk about Bud Wildman and not recognize the contribution he has given to Ontario when it comes to First Nations people. My new riding of Timmins-James Bay encompasses all of James Bay, and there's hardly a person within the aboriginal community or leadership who doesn't know Bud Wildman and the work he has done for the First Nations people of this province. So on behalf of the First Nations people of my communities and across Ontario, Bud, we want to wish you well and we want to thank you for the contribution you've given to the people of Ontario and the First Nations people.

We are here tonight to debate Bill 17, which deals with the construction trades as they apply to workers coming from Quebec into Ontario.

I want to start off my comments by saying a couple of things. We understand what the issue is. The issue is that there are construction workers and contractors from Quebec who have an unfair advantage when they come into Ontario to do business in this province.

I don't think Ontario or the Conservative government of Ontario is saying, "We are anti-Quebec," or "We don't want Quebeckers to feel welcome in Ontario." Rather, I think a lot of us are feeling frustrated that there's an uneven advantage given to Quebec contractors and workers when they come to Ontario, because we tend to have no barriers in this province and we operate on the principle that if you come from anywhere across Canada or the United States and do business in Ontario, we'll treat you all the same and you will comply with the rules of Ontario.

Unfortunately, the rules in Quebec favour Quebec workers and Quebec contractors more so than any other province. In other words, Quebec tends to take care of their own, they tend to be fairly protective of their own industries and workers and they don't tolerate competition from outside quite as easily as we do here in Ontario.

In the Ottawa region, as we know, it has been a long-standing problem. The construction industry has had to compete against contractors from Quebec who are given this unfair advantage, and then those same contractors and workers don't have the same ability to compete back on the Quebec side of the border.

I want to remind this House, because it was mentioned a little bit earlier, but I think for the record we have to say that in 1992-93, the then Minister of Economic Development and Trade, which was Frances Lankin, introduced a bill that dealt with this particular issue at the time and negotiated a settlement with Quebec. Unfortunately, the government of the day eventually did not live up to that agreement, and we find ourselves back here again having to introduce legislation.

Before I get to what this means for northeastern Ontario, I want to say another couple of things very quickly.

There are three approaches you can take, either in government or in opposition, to this bill: You can do the politics of this bill, which is Quebec-bashing; you can deal with the issue, which is, how do we make sure that Ontario workers are treated the same as Quebec workers so that we compete on an equal footing; and the last thing is that we can do nothing. So there are basically three approaches we can take.

I just want to say I'm a little bit disturbed by the comments of the leader of the Liberal Party, Mr McGuinty, a little bit earlier when he decided to play with the politics of this bill. I think for nation-building, that is very, very dangerous. In his comments, he was alluding that somehow or other the Conservative government should not have allowed a Quebec company or conglomerate to bid and be successful in the purchase of an Ontario asset, in this particular case, Highway 407. Now, I'm against the privatization of 407. I think it should not have been sold to anybody. But all of a sudden for the Liberal leader of Ontario to say, "It should not have been sold to that company because they came from Quebec," I think stinks highly of politics.

We are not to discriminate, in my view, about investment in this province, no matter where it comes from. If somebody from the United States, British Columbia, Quebec, New England, England, France or Japan wants to invest, we should be trying to do all we can to get those dollars invested in Ontario, because in the end they will assist our ability to create the kind of employment we need in this province to sustain the programs and lifestyles we're used to in Ontario.

I distinctly heard the leader of the Liberal Party go on a tangent about how the Harris government had done a wrong thing to sell this thing to a Quebec organization. I think that's just politics. You stay away from that. I don't think the Ontario government should have sold 407, but if they're going to sell it, the highest bidder is who we should be selling it to. In this particular case, as I understand it from the facts, it was that particular company. I think that's playing politics.

Through the discussion you heard the Liberal Party going on a little bit about, "This bill didn't go fast enough and you didn't do this and you didn't do that." A little bit too warm, a little bit too cold, just right. It sounded almost like Goldilocks. The Liberal Party took a position that was a little bit on both sides of the fence and tried to say: "You didn't do this and you didn't do that. If we had been there we would have done it differently, but in the end we support it."

It's real simple. You either support what the government does, you oppose what the government does or you play the politics of the bill. Those are your three options. I don't think we should be playing the politics of this bill. I think we should be choosing either to support it or to oppose it. Personally, along with my party, I support what the government is trying to do. But I want to put on the record that I am not in it for Quebec-bashing and I have to believe, and I know, that the members of the government aren't in it for that reason either, because in this assembly we all understand that this is a nation made up of different provinces, of people from different cultural backgrounds and languages, and we live within this great nation as brothers and sisters across this great land.

As in every family, at times we have some disagreements, and in this particular case we have a disagreement when it comes to how our contractors and the construction trades and our workers within the construction trades are treated compared to Quebec workers and contractors. We're trying to address that.

The easiest way to deal with this thing, in my view, would be for the Quebec government to say, "Let's try to find a way so that Ontario contractors and workers are treated on a par with Quebec contractors and workers when they go to Quebec, and then there would be no need for this legislation." But if the Quebec government doesn't want to deal with it, I think it's incumbent upon this Legislature and members of all parties to try to find solutions for their communities.

This will bring me to the last 20 minutes of what I have to say here, and I want the government members to listen to this because I want to make an appeal to you.

We have the same problem, as you are well aware, in northeastern Ontario. In ridings like my new riding of Timmins-James Bay or Len Wood's new riding of Cochrane-Timiskaming, there is along the border not only the issue of Quebec contractors and the construction trades, but there's what's happening in the forest industry and in the exploration industry when it comes to mining. In our part of the world construction is a big business, but most of the people who are employed in the construction industry where I come from by and large are Ontarians. There are some Quebec contractors, there are some Quebec workers who work for those contractors, but by and large it's mainly people from Ontario.

This bill, yes, will address some of the inequities that we have in northeastern Ontario when it comes to the contractors' business in construction in northeastern Ontario, but most of the people where I come from and where Len Wood comes from and whom he's going to represent in Cochrane-Timiskaming, if the good voters in those ridings re-elect us, are people employed in forestry and mining.

I want to give you a couple of examples of why we need to have amendments in this legislation that deal with that, and I'll be proposing these amendments when we go to committee of the whole. The first one I'll deal with is mining.

Over the last six months to eight months, roughly, I have been, I would almost say deluged by people who are in the mining exploration business who have come to my office, given me a call, sent me e-mails, or sent me letters or faxes. There's a recurring theme in what they're telling me. They're saying two things: "The industry of exploration is going down the tubes in Ontario. We're not getting the kind of investment we need to sustain the kind of exploration activity we need to put the mining business on a secure footing."

The reasons for that are many, but partly it's because the government does not support the mining industry in the way it used to in Ontario, and certainly does not support it in the way the Quebec government supports it. Let me give you an example.

I'm a drilling contractor. Let's say my name is Barbara Courte and I'm from Courte Drilling and I'm doing work for an exploration outfit of some type, let's say Falconbridge. If I am operating my drill in Quebec, if I drill below 400 metres underground the Quebec government will pay 50% of my drilling cost. That's a huge incentive to attract investment to do drilling on Quebec properties.

When we do drilling in Ontario, there is no assistance by the province whatsoever. If I'm an investor and I have $500,000 to invest in a property to do exploration, my $500,000 in Ontario means a straight $500,000 investment in drilling below 400 metres. If I take my $500,000 and I put it in Quebec, my $500,000 will lever an additional $500,000 from the government, for a total drilling program of $1 million.

What that means is there are more drilling activities going on in exploration in Quebec and, because that's happening, they have a much better chance of finding a mine, because in mining it's not putting one hole in the ground that's going to find you a mine; it's by doing systematic work both at the geologist's level and at the exploration level when it comes to diamond drilling.


What we see in Ontario, a big part of it, is the Ontario government has to become much more proactive, in my mind, and support policies and enact policies that are going to give the Ontario drilling community a bit of an advantage. I wanted to put that on the record because a number of people from the mining community have come to me and have said that and I thought it was important to put it on the record. But I want to give you what's happening.

I was approached by a number of drilling contractors last year, people we call diamond drillers. They're people who have rigs that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. They go out and buy the rigs, they contract for a mining outfit and they go out and do drilling on properties in Ontario. What's been happening as of late, because there's not a lot of work out there, is some Quebec contractors have been coming into Ontario and have been undercutting the contractors from Ontario. As a result, Ontario drills are sitting idle while Quebec drills are drilling on Ontario properties.

The reason they're able to do that, as my friend Mr Cullen from Ottawa West has said, is that they come over into Ontario. In some cases they don't pay workers' compensation, depending on the size of the outfit, so that's a competitive advantage. They're not harassed as we are, as we go into Quebec, by the QPP. The OPP on this side doesn't harass them in any kind of way. The Ministry of Labour doesn't go in and harass them, as happens in Quebec. They're given a huge advantage when they come into Ontario.

As a result, we have Ontario firms and Ontario individuals who have their life savings in these drilling outfits who are basically sitting there not doing anything. I'll give you one example: Barb Courte of Courte Diamond Drilling. They were busy like gangbusters for a number of years based on some exploration work that had been going on since about 1993, 1994. As of late, we see people like Barbara Courte and Garry Courte who have seen their business dwindle to a shadow of what it was because what we're seeing are Quebec contractors coming across and bidding for whatever work is left in our area.

What will happen, quite frankly, if we're not able to try to resolve this issue is that people like Barbara and Garry will basically be forced to go out of business. I for one am not going to stand by - I would hope the Conservative government is not going to stand by - and watch Ontario contractors such as Barbara and Garry go out of business on the basis of unfair competitive advantages that people from the Quebec side of the border get when they come into Ontario.

We have an amendment we're going to be putting forward in my name a little bit later that basically is going to expand the scope of the bill to say that we're not only going to deal with this bill when it comes to contractors in the construction industry, but we need to deal with those contractors that are involved in the mining exploration industry.

I want to be clear. We're not talking about a fellow or woman who goes to work for a mining operator - Kidd Creek, Falconbridge, whoever it is. Those are mobility rights issues and we're not going to get into that tonight. What we're dealing with is the contractors. We're saying that if you're a Quebec contractor in the mining exploration business and you have a diamond drill or other type of equipment and come into Ontario to do business, you will be subject to the same parts of the bill that the construction workers have when it comes to coming into Ontario under this bill. I have that amendment that I want to put forward later.

The other issue we have to deal with is what's happening with the forest industry. I can tell you that in the last two weeks I've been approached by at least three, if not four, contractors who have come to my office. In one case a fellow stopped me on the street. He was driving his truck. I was at an official opening somewhere. A guy stops me at the official opening in the middle of the ceremony to come and tell me he had just lost his contract cutting for a firm - I won't say the area because he doesn't want his name public, but let's say in northeastern Ontario - because a Quebec contractor had come in and basically pushed him out of the job.

We're seeing a lot of guys and women who own equipment, $800,000 or $1 million worth of equipment, who are being pushed out of the forest in favour of Quebec contractors who own equipment and come into Ontario. The reason they're coming in in the forest industry is because they've not done the job we have when it comes to managing our forests more sustainably. They don't have the amount of timber on the Quebec side of the border to keep their industry going, so the contractors who have harvesters, trucks, whatever, are moving over to the Ontario side on contract and are taking whatever they can get as far as work in Ontario is concerned in order to keep the payments on their equipment so they don't lose it. For the big lumber company I guess it's a good deal, because you end up getting contractors for a bit less than you would pay normally. But it's unfair labour practices, in my view, because again, when they come over into Ontario they are competing with Ontario contractors on an uneven footing, and that's not right.

So the other amendment that we want to bring forward would say we want to be able to make sure that people who are employed or people who are engaged in the harvesting or the transportation of timber are recognized under this bill. I think it's important that we do that, because we can't look at what's happening when it comes to the trade issue just from the construction industry's point of view. We need to take a look at what's happening in northeastern Ontario, and I'd probably argue eastern Ontario as well. We know there are a lot of forest activities in the southeastern part of the province, where you have people who are coming over from Quebec and are competing on an uneven playing field.

Again, my preference would be that we do something to try to get Quebec to the table to negotiate a settlement. I'm used to bargaining; I've bargained on both sides of the table, both union and management. Sometimes you have to push in order to get them to the table to negotiate. Hopefully that's what this bill will do, that once we get this bill passed, the Quebec government will be forced to come to the table to try to come to some resolution on this issue so that we open up trade to Ontario contractors into the province of Quebec. I think that has to be the point.

Je pense que c'est très important qu'on reconnaît un couple de points dans ce débat.

Premièrement, laissez-moi dire aux Québécois qui regardent peut-être cette émission ce soir à la télévision : je ne veux pas que vous poigniez l'idée que les législateurs de l'Ontario passent cette loi afin de punir les Québécois, parce que ce n'est pas du tout le point.

Le point qu'on fait comme législateurs ontariens, c'est le même point que vos membres de l'Assemblée nationale font pour vous au Québec. C'est que vous, vous prenez une position de protéger vos travailleurs et vos industries pour la province de Québec, pour que l'économie de la province de Québec et votre économie puissent bénéficier de votre industrie.

Nous, en Ontario, on a toujours une attitude un peu plus libre quand ça vient à l'échange de travailleurs et à l'échange de contracteurs d'un bord ou l'autre de la frontière entre le Québec et l'Ontario, ou n'importe quelle autre juridiction. Ce qui arrive en Ontario, c'est qu'on a beaucoup de contracteurs et de travailleurs qui sont déplacés à l'ouvrage, parce que vos contracteurs, quand ils viennent chez nous, sont traités de la même manière que les Ontariens, et nous, on n'a pas la même chance, quand on retourne au Québec, d'être traités pareil aux travailleurs et aux contracteurs de la province de Québec.

Tous les législateurs ce cette Assemblée aimeraient mieux avoir une résolution qui a été négociée avec votre gouvernement. Justement, en 1992-93, le premier ministre du jour, M. Bob Rae, et sa ministre Mme Lankin, avaient essayé de négocier, avec votre premier ministre du jour, une entente qui aurait dit que, quoi qui arrive quand ça vient au Québec et à l'Ontario, les mêmes règles appliqueraient sur les deux bords de la frontière. Ça, c'est juste.

On dit : «On est un pays grand, un pays immense, et on a besoin de trouver des manières de travailler ensemble. Pour être capable de promouvoir le débloquement et l'échange est-ouest, on a besoin de règlements qui sont un peu pareils d'un bord ou l'autre, soit le Québec ou l'Ontario.»

M. Rae avait négocié ses ententes avec votre premier ministre, et il n'a pas été nécessaire dans le jour de mettre en place une législation telle qu'on voit aujourd'hui. Mais les temps ont changé, le gouvernement a changé, et le gouvernement du Québec a décidé de mieux protéger les Québécois, aux dépens des travailleurs de l'Ontario. Et nous, comme législateurs, on doit protéger les nôtres.

Ce qu'on dit aux travailleurs du Québec et ce qu'on dit à votre gouvernement est très simple : venez à table. Négociez avec les Ontariens. On est du monde chaleureux. On est préparé à négocier une entente qui fait du bon sens pour les Québécois comme les Ontariens. Mais nous, on ne peut pas s'asseoir à l'arrière regarder les travailleurs et les contracteurs de la province et les traiter d'une manière différente de celle pour les Québécois.

C'est pour cette raison qu'on amène aujourd'hui à cette Assemblée cette législation.

I want to say one other point that I think needs to be made in this particular debate. You couldn't get into this debate without raising some of the issues that some of the people within the construction trades have raised with me. I've talked with people like James Moffat and others who have raised this. I certainly want to be able to hear what they have to say, but I guess at some point you have to try to figure out what's best at the time that you find yourself at. That's the issue of how we deal with the construction trades.


Some people are of the view that what this does is basically force the Quebec government to weaken their labour laws. As I read through the legislation as it's written, I don't particularly see that. I want to say that if, reading this legislation, I would get the sense that this government is pressuring the Quebec government into - Mr Speaker, I wonder if there's a quorum in the House. Can you check?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Would you please check if there is a quorum.

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I just want to say that, as James Moffat in the construction trades had commented before, he was worried that this particular bill dealt with giving the province of Quebec added pressures by Mike Harris in order to weaken Quebec's labour legislation that they enjoy in that particular province. One of the things that I did when the bill was given to me today, I went through it and read it in great detail, conferenced it with a few other people in order to make sure that it does what I think it does, and from what I can see of the bill, it doesn't deal with trying to pressure the Quebec government into weakening labour standards. So from that particular perspective I'm comfortable that the bill is going to do what we ask it to do, and that is to make sure that we treat Quebec workers and Ontario workers the same. In Ontario and in Quebec, I think that's good for all.

I just say in closing, I am going to support this legislation. At committee of the whole I'll be bringing forward some amendments that deal with protecting and making sure that those people in the mining industry, precisely within the exploration industry, and those people engaged in forest activities are protected under this bill. With that, I'll leave the time on the clock for another of our caucus members to have a few words on this particular bill.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Further debate?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): It's a privilege and an honour for me to rise tonight on this very special bill. It's a bill that we've been looking at for quite some period of time.

I recall well having a discussion with my colleague from Prescott and Russell. I recall it very well because it was a very stormy day in the middle of winter and I was stuck on the 401, not able to go anywhere, and I was on my cell phone with my colleague discussing it with Radio-Canada. My colleague from Prescott and Russell kept telling me that Bill 17 was unconstitutional. He told me, and the public at that point, a number of reasons why it was unconstitutional, and his bill was going to form a kind of a soft doughnut in the area surrounding the city of Ottawa, a kind of no man's land, if you will, between the province of Quebec and the province of Ontario. I stood fast and supported - I had not seen Bill 17 at that point, however, I had discussed with my colleague the Minister of Labour what was coming, and I had no problem at all.

I appreciate that my colleague from Prescott and Russell has changed his mind and is now fully supportive of Bill 17. However, when I discussed it with him on Radio-Canada that particular afternoon, he was very adamant that Bill 17 was unconstitutional, it was attacking the construction people from the province of Quebec. Certainly I had a great deal of difficulty trying to convince him at that time that the bill was not only constitutional but indeed was what we needed.

What we need is exactly what's going to be enacted here tonight. It's a matter of bringing forth exactly the same rules that apply to our Ontario workers that now apply to Quebec workers. Certainly I feel it's important that the province of Ontario finally - and I say "finally" because it has taken a long time and I have heard this from many of my constituents on numerous occasions. Mr Speaker, I know you realize that I represent a border riding and we've had a number of discussions.

We have here tonight Dwayne Mosley, who represents the negotiator for the Greater Ottawa Truckers Association. I have met with a number of the people Dwayne represents. Certainly, he has done an excellent job over many years representing the Greater Ottawa Truckers Association. They have not only brought concerns they had regarding regulations within Ontario, but they've also brought major problems they had with the way Quebec truckers were treated in relation to the way Ontario truckers were treated by officials of Ontario.

That concerned me because we have quite a number of truckers in the Ottawa area who are making a living at moving materials, snow, whatever. They were being maligned to some degree. Somehow or other, the truckers from Quebec seemed to have almost a free ticket going and were not even being challenged as to whether their trucks were in acceptable, roadworthy condition, and a number of other areas. We've had a number of discussions regarding those particular areas, and I am very pleased to see that Dwayne is here with us this evening, finally seeing part of what he has lobbied for very strongly over a long period of time coming to fruition.

I had the opportunity of living close to the border of Ontario and Quebec. Jocelyn Dumais has been attempting to get the attention of his government for some period of time. Jocelyn Dumais is the president of LADAT, l'Association pour le droit au travail, in other words, a gentleman who wants the right to work. He has been attempting to get the attention of not only Mme Diane Lemieux, who is the minister responsible for labour in Quebec, but also of the Premier of Quebec, the Honourable Lucien Bouchard, and it has somehow or other been very elusive. For some reason the Honourable Diane Lemieux, the Minister of Labour, has been telling the people who will listen that she does not know what Ontario needs, what Ontario is asking for.

It's fairly simple, Mme Lemieux : Nous vous demandons tout simplement - nous allons appliquer les mêmes règlements, les mêmes exigences à vos Québécois qui veulent travailler en Ontario, que vous appliquez à nos Ontariens qui veulent aller travailler au Québec. C'est tout simplement la justice pur et simple. Si Mme Lemieux ne comprend pas exactement ce que le Québec exige des Ontariens, peut-être que nous pourrions lui envoyer les papiers qui lui expliqueraient exactement ce à quoi nos Ontariens doivent faire face quand ils visitent ou quand ils veulent aller travailler dans les chantiers du Québec.

The other area that is of considerable concern to me is the fact that Quebec contractors actually had an advantage by being out of province. They could come into Ontario and submit a bid on a contract, and if indeed they got the contract, because they were non-Ontarians, any supplies they bought in Ontario were subject to a rebate under Ontario retail sales tax. That was a distinct disadvantage to our Ontario contractors, and we discussed this on a number of occasions. If you lived in and operated out of the province of Quebec and you bought supplies in Ontario, the 8% sales tax, you obtained a rebate from Ontario. This Bill 17 will correct that very unjust situation that has existed for as long as we've had a sales tax in Ontario.


I simply wanted to get on the record the fact that I have been supportive of this type of legislation for as long as I've been around this particular Legislature, and that's over 15 years. I simply want to say that I am fully supportive of Bill 17 - the sooner the better. I gather it will come forth tonight, and if I as a member of this Assembly can assist Mme Lemieux or whomever in the province of Quebec to understand that we simply want reciprocity, we simply want exactly the same thing they're applying to us, then I'm quite prepared to make a trip to wherever in Quebec to explain to my colleagues exactly what we need.

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I want to speak in support of the bill also. After years of tireless work I just want to congratulate the member for Prescott and Russell on behalf of the Ontario construction workers for finally seeing it being acted upon by the government of the day.

Restrictions on Quebec construction companies and workers of Ontario have been needed for some time. I guess it takes an election to get the government working for the residents of Ontario.

For some time now, Ontario construction workers have faced barriers in working in Quebec, and while it is unfortunate that barriers are required, it is clear that restrictions must be established in order to ensure a level playing field for the construction workers.

The former bill has been supported by a resolution from the municipal councils in the Cornwall area. I really want to read one of the resolutions.

"And whereas the city of Cornwall, as recently as September 9, 1996, supported Bill 60 introduced by MPP Jean-Marc Lalonde to eliminate unfair practices in the construction industry;

"Therefore be it resolved that Cornwall city council prohibit Quebec companies from bidding on city of Cornwall capital projects until such time as the government of Quebec removes its barriers to out-of-province construction workers...."

I just want to thank my colleague again for his persistence in getting this legislation to where it is now and restricting the contractors, workers and haulers.

With the legislation, among others, it is clear that the government is very capable of pushing through legislation at the 11th hour. On behalf of the Cornwall riding area residents, I urge the government to act on cleaning up some other messes too in the name of health care and health care restructuring. Patients' lives are on the line and the government must be responsible.

I also want to mention the waste of over $100 million in government advertising paid for by taxpayers.

Again I extend my congratulations to the member for Prescott and Russell. He has worked long and hard to ensure that Ontario construction workers are treated fairly.

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I hope it's not presumptuous on my part to say that perhaps tomorrow an election will be announced. I want to take advantage of that, after 14 years of service in this House, to wish the best of luck to all of you for the upcoming election.

Ça a été un plaisir fantastique que de servir dans l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario. Ça m'a donné une expérience unique, une expérience que j'ai acquise avec vous tous.

Will I miss politics? Yes, I will. Do I feel sad about leaving politics? Yes, I do. It's the best example of democracy. But democracy cannot exist without freedom of expression, and this is what we have here. What disturbs me the most is when I see bickering, when I see fighting among Canadians. I accept the debates in the House. That is healthy, that's what I enjoy, because we all have a different opinion but at the end we're all here to serve Ontarians. That is our function, that is our role.

From 1985, when I was elected, only 20 are left here, so it shows that many come in and many go. There's an old saying in French, "Plusieurs sont appelés mais peu sont élus" - "Many are called but very few are elected."

But we have this opportunity to fight for a cause we believe in, and this is why I support Bill 17, because it may help achieve some fairness for construction workers in Ontario. We can understand that Quebec would try to protect the interests of its own workers, but Ontario is suffering because of the disparity in the regulations between Ontario and Quebec in this area.

Prescott and Russell MPP Jean-Marc Lalonde addressed the problem when he introduced Bill 60. It had the support of members of all parties but not that of the governing Tories. Finally, three years later, the coming election has spurred the government to seriously address the issue, which seems suspiciously more about politics than about the welfare of our construction workers. Mr Lalonde deserves our thanks for keeping the issue on the table. What bothers me is that the Premier made his long-overdue announcement in Prescott and Russell to overshadow the extraordinary ongoing efforts of its Liberal MPP.

Although I support this bill, my personal concern is that these measures not be taken or perceived as a stance against Quebec workers, businesses or indeed the province of Quebec. I have had the impression that some people see this act as a retaliation against Quebec itself, and this pains me greatly. The time for such division is over.

As a francophone and a Canadian, I have always felt passionately that our brightest future lies in our openness and goodwill towards one another. At the same time, I resist the idea of communities that work only to protect their narrow interests. In pursuing this measure we should understand that our common aspirations ultimately unite us, and as such, we should do everything we can to return the parties to the table and negotiate towards that goal.

All Canadians should feel free to move across this country and to pursue opportunities wherever they find them. That is the ideal. We must therefore resist the impulse towards the balkanization of Canada in the form of trade barriers. It is ironic that we should expand those barriers in our own country as we progressively drop them between ourselves and the United States, Mexico and the world. This bill should only be used as a wakeup call until a reasonable compromise serves to level the playing field.


Quebec is our biggest trading partner and in many respects our greatest ally. That's why it's a shame we have let this disagreement fester for so long. We can't let these measures raise the temperature of debate to the point where the situation escalates further. It is not unreasonable to predict further retaliation from Quebec in the form of even higher barriers between us. What about possible restrictions to our wine and beer, for example?

Our goal must be a true reconciliation of interests. While I regret the need for this measure, I take hope from the belief that it will help, as we invoke each day in this chair, Speaker, to establish and maintain a land of prosperity and righteousness where freedom prevails and where justice rules.

That is the end of my speech. Best of health to all of you. Best of luck. May you continue to serve this province and this country the best you can.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): At the outset, I'd congratulate my colleague the member for Carleton East for all his years of service to this place. I recall there was once a column written that said he had the most class of any member in the Legislature. That's certainly been my experience with him. He's served his constituents very ably and very well, and I congratulate him for all of his years of service.

I want to also thank all members of the House for agreeing to speedy debate of this important piece of legislation. I thank Liberal members and I thank New Democratic members for their important speed to get this bill through, because it's tremendously important to my colleagues. It's tremendously important to constituents in my riding of Nepean. It's important to people in our entire region, whether they be in Metcalfe or Stittsville or in Barrhaven or Bells Corners, and they feel very strongly about it.

I also want to thank on the record the Minister of Labour for his tireless efforts on this issue. He has worked exceptionally hard. He has been down to eastern Ontario on four or five occasions over the last number of months and has made extraordinary efforts to try and negotiate an agreement with our friends in the province of the Quebec, regrettably to no avail, and we were forced to proceed with this next step of legislation. But I do want to thank him for all his hard work, and his staff at the Ministry of Labour. I also want to thank Craig Rix for all his efforts working on this important piece of legislation.

This bill is important to a good number of constituents of mine. I'm joined in the House, in the gallery, by Dwayne Mosley from the Ottawa-Carleton truckers' association, who's worked exceptionally hard on this issue on behalf of his members, as have a good number of other tradespeople, as have a good number of contractors, working hard to try to achieve fairness, nothing more, nothing less.

But in all honesty, the people who have spoken up about this issue probably most passionately aren't those affected; it's the friends and neighbours of contractors, of tradespeople, of truckers who may haul aggregates, the friends and family of electricians, the neighbour of a carpenter who have so passionately spoken up in their defence. I can tell you, whether it's been at community events, whether it's been in constituency appointments in my office or phone calls or e-mails or out at the doors, I have heard a good number of people talk about this issue for some time.

All parties coming together to help pass this legislation speaks volumes about the unity within this House that can go forward, and hope that Quebec will come forward, with some reasonable accommodation to see this issue resolved.

What we want is free trade within Canada. The member for Carleton East spoke about Quebec being our largest trading partner, and indeed he is very correct. We do want to see fair trade between the provinces because that will lead to more jobs for our people and more jobs for people in the province of Quebec. That is incredibly important.

I was concerned with one proposal, one element of it, with respect to forced unionization. This bill doesn't go that far. I want to thank the Minister of Labour for making that one change. He said we will mirror but not replicate the Quebec legislation, which I thought was very aptly put.

Also, earlier in the debate there was some discussion about the whole issue of Highway 407 going to a company with indeed some Quebec businesses being involved with it. But it's a very different situation. I want to put my thoughts on that issue into the record. It's not Ontario tax dollars being given to a contractor from Quebec, rather it's investment from Quebec coming to Ontario. But I would be remiss if I didn't note that on the Highway 407 privatization and expansion the deal is 61% represented by Spanish interests and brings more investment into Ontario, which is something I know there's a substantial amount of support for.

This piece of legislation is really important because it deals with the most basic aspect of our economy, jobs and people's right to be able to earn a living, the ability of small businessmen and entrepreneurs, someone in free enterprise, to earn their keep for their families. Too often we've seen examples when this has not been the case.

When I look in my own constituency, we're building - the government is funding and the school boards locally are building - two high schools in Barrhaven. Both contracts went to firms from Quebec. That was very disconcerting for taxpayers, to say that our workers, who do an able job, can't have that same access across the other side of the river in Gatineau. That was a real concern, both with the construction of John McCrae school and Mother Teresa school.

I had the pleasure yesterday of attending, along with the member for Carleton, Mr Sterling, a groundbreaking of a new high school in Stittsville. I know that's an issue he has worked very hard on. We checked the licence plates on the construction site. This contract was awarded before the legislation went through, but already 90% of the plates were from Ontario. I know in Barrhaven just a year ago it was about 90% Quebec plates. That's something important.

This piece of legislation is important because there are a number of new schools. There are three new schools, in fact, in addition to that high school being built in the member for Carleton's riding and my constituency. We feel very strongly that there has got to be equity between the two provinces, that if their contractors can build schools in Nepean, Kanata or Stittsville, our contractors have got to have the same opportunity in Gatineau, Aylmer or Hull. It's a tremendously important issue.

It's also important with the expansion of the Queensway-Carleton Hospital. Again, an Ontario firm won that contract, but it could just as easily have gone to a Quebec firm. We certainly want to see a level playing field. We want to ensure that, whether it's meeting payroll taxes or respecting the obligations imposed by our health and safety laws. We want to ensure particularly that the Workers' Compensation Board remittances are made. That is something that's very important, because if a worker from Quebec is injured on the job and they haven't been paying the Workers' Compensation Board, all those honest, law-abiding firms have to pick up the slack. That's simply unacceptable, to ask any honest, law-abiding taxpayer to pick up the slack for someone who is less so. That's something I believe is incredibly important.

As a final thank you, I thank all members for agreeing to debate this issue expeditiously. I think it will be a win-win-win situation for all of us to ensure that there is equity and fairness between workers in Ontario and Quebec. It will be an important priority as we continue to try to work with our friends in Quebec to ensure that there is a level playing field and that indeed fairness is a two-way street.

If I could also at this time thank the constituents in Nepean for all their time, effort and support.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Before I address the bill before us, let me also give my very best wishes to those members who are voluntarily retiring at this time: the member for Carleton East, who has served with great distinction; also the member for Algoma, who has also served this Legislature for many years. I want to wish him and my friend from Ottawa East, who isn't here at the moment, all the very best. If I've missed anyone else, I pass on my very best.

I want to say at the outset that this bill is fairly close to one this House had an opportunity to debate a few years ago under the name of Jean-Marc Lalonde. I bring up his name because often his work and efforts are left out when we discuss the nature of this issue. I cannot find anyone - and I will include staff - who has worked harder on this single issue than the member for Prescott and Russell. He has spent weekends; he has spent nights. As you know, he had hearings to which both provincial governments sent staff, and they were set up in a non-partisan, non-biased manner to try to gather the information that was required to look at the fairness of the mobility of workers and on what basis we truly have a free trade arrangement in terms of construction.


I just want to underline a number of things the member for Prescott and Russell has said. He's very passionate about this. He has always brought this issue up in our caucus, many times, and I think in many ways this bill is a tribute to him.

Having said that, let's say we're all in agreement, by and large, on 95% of this, which does not happen very often, even though it is fairly late in the game and some people may accuse others of using this for electioneering purposes. But let's begin with the assumption that the need is there; it's quite obvious. In my particular riding, the northern boundary, which runs a couple of miles, is the Ottawa River. I have received numerous representations - Dwayne Mosley, who is with us this evening, being one of them - sharing the nature of the issue and what it means for Ontario workers and truckers to have a fair arrangement in working with the Quebec situation from an Ontario point of view. I want to say that this has been an ongoing irritant.

At the end of the day, the spirit of what the member for Carleton East said is: We truly want to bring out the very best, we want to look at fairness, we want to acknowledge that between Ontario and Quebec we do have probably the largest volume of trade in North America, probably in the world, and we want to make sure that is encouraged. But sometimes you need to send a shot over the bow, as it were, in order to have someone say, "Just a minute, this truly is not a fair arrangement."

While there are lots of sensitivities around this, we have to begin to work towards some fairness. That has to be taken by the provincial government and that has to be taken by the construction industry and other industries in Quebec if they're looking at the mutual opportunities of making a living in two jurisdictions where barriers in fact do not exist, there are no boundaries and we can freely give of our services and trade skills to help both jurisdictions, and ultimately Canada, grow and develop.

I don't wish to dwell too much further except to say that, like three years ago, this letter could have been written, say, five months ago. It's a letter addressed to my colleague Mr Lalonde. It says:

"Further to your request, the Ottawa-Carleton Home Builders' Association is pleased to have the opportunity to write to express our concerns with barriers that continue to keep Ontario construction workers out of Quebec. Despite the interprovincial agreement from May 1994, only about 90 people travel from Ottawa to the Outaouais each day to work in the Quebec construction industry. Meanwhile, thousands of Quebec construction workers continue to work in the Ottawa-Carleton region daily. Barriers and disincentives to working in Quebec do remain."

The date of this was July 1995. It could have been written two or three months ago. It was written by Richard Lee, the executive director of this particular association. He supported the direction in which Mr Lalonde's bill was moving. I know he would support this bill today.

There are some requests for modifications to it. I don't have too many. I had one that had to do with "ordinarily resident" in one jurisdiction or the other, but frankly I would leave that to the lawyers to fight over. It seems to me that the bill, as it stands, is supportable.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I would like to rise just for a moment to put two points on the record. The first point is to indicate that in terms of the bill that is before us tonight, I obviously hope there will be unanimous support from the House, or as much as we can possibly get. The bill represents equity, fairness and reciprocity. In fact, in a historic sense, it really is a true test of the Canadian federation, founded on the principle that all provinces, all territories are equal and should share equally in the benefits and the tribulations of this country. I hope that would be the gentle and appropriate message sent to our sister province.

In that regard, I'm sad we have not referred to the new territory of Nunavut. I wish well to all the people of that territory. It obviously is part of this equal federation that we call Canada.

I hope we will in fact support this bill and give it speedy passage tonight.

Final comments: I understand there is some rumour floating around the House tonight that there could well be a general provincial election sometime within the next 13 or 14 months. I understand that some members have started to place their signs up. I hope they are weather-proofed; I hope they do have significant amounts of wax on them to go through snow and a winter season yet before the election is called. I understand the NDP has its bus waiting at the front door, and I've seen that bus. I only hope it can last for another year. Nevertheless, we will wish all members of this House very good fortune.

I stand as one who is not returning; I am one of those who is voluntarily stepping down. I want to express my admiration for each and every person who serves in this House. For me, this has been like going back to graduate school. I say that as I look to the member for Renfrew North, whom I have watched with great interest over the period that I've been here, because I find he has an interesting style. He now becomes the dean, as we see the member for Algoma retire. I've watched that member read his books at night, so he's encouraged me to bring my books in, and we continue to read and exchange notes. To have served with him and many others on committees has, for me, been a great honour.

We've had moments of partisan bantering back and forth. There have been times when we have found ourselves sitting in this House day after day, literally, night after night, 24 hours a day, ad nauseam; we have found ourselves going on forever, yet that has been part of the democratic process. There has been very little rancour in that regard.

I share, and would enjoin myself to, some of the comments made by Mr Morin. I think he's right in terms of the bickering, that we'd like to see less of that. That is sometimes, sadly, the nature of the political process. But I have learned to have consummate respect and regard not only for this institution, but for the men and women who serve here. It has been a great honour for me to be here. I have learned to appreciate my province even more than I understood before I came in here - and I have more than just a passing interest in Ontario history - and in that regard have learned to understand the Canadian federation a great deal more as well.

I'd like to thank, as I conclude my comments, the people of High Park-Swansea for having posited their trust in me. I have been in one capacity or another holding office in this municipality for about 26 years, and it has been an exciting period for me to share. I'm looking forward to my return to parish life in a full-time capacity. Perhaps some of the experiences I've gained here I'll be able to take with me there.

I would like to say thank you and, as I conclude my comments, also wish my mother well, who is in serious difficulties at St Joseph's hospital. I wish her well and Godspeed on her journey.

To all of my colleagues in this House, I wish each and every one of you well. Let's support this bill.

The Speaker: Further debate.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Before I begin my comments on Bill 17, I'd like to thank my friend, that noted Anglican divine from the west end, for his too kind comments. To him, to my cottage mentor, the colonel from Papineau Lake, the member for Carleton East, to the Attorney General and to all those who will leave voluntarily, I wish you all the very best; and to some of us who, unbeknownst now, may be destined for an involuntary separation some days hence, let the fates act as they will.

I rise to support Bill 17. I want to say that I've enjoyed the debate tonight. I want to join my colleagues in paying tribute to Jean-Marc Lalonde, the member for Prescott and Russell, who, as I think all fair-minded members would know, has been aggressive and vigilant and very active on this account since his election to the assembly some four years ago this spring.


I want to also, in a fair-minded way, say that I appreciated the remarks of the Minister of Labour, which remarks I listened to with some care. He laid out in a very clear fashion the case for the bill that is now before the assembly. I want to say very clearly that I strongly support this bill, and I will perhaps add an emphasis that is a bit beyond that of some of my own colleagues. I have had some of these discussions before in an opposition caucus and in a government of which I was part, and we did not act in the period 1985 to 1990. In some ways I regret that, because I can tell you that the men and women who work in the economy of the Upper Ottawa Valley have laboured under this unfair situation for too long.

In our area, things like trucking have been particularly egregious and vexatious for as long as I have been the member of the Legislature for north Renfrew, and that is now almost 24 years. Trucking, interprovincial labour mobility, in the Pembroke and Rolphton areas - we have three interprovincial connections in Renfrew county with Quebec: one in the Cobden area at Chenaux, Portage-du-Fort, Quebec; another major interprovincial connection across the bridge just east of Pembroke; and another connection in the Rolphton and Rapides-des-Joachims area about 60 kilometres northeast of Pembroke. Those bridges have been the flashpoint for a long time.

I want to say that my constituents - truckers, electricians, labourers, small business people - would want me to stand here tonight and do as I am doing, supporting this legislation. The unfair practice and the irritating and frustrating attitude of the Quebec government, Quebec revenue officials, Quebec transport officials, Quebec trucking officials and others has been provocative, to say the least, for a long time - too long a time. They have sorely tested the patience of fair-minded Canadians living in counties like Renfrew and cities like Pembroke.

In the 1980s, when I was in government, my colleagues chose not to act for a couple of reasons. One was of course a very expanding economy, and we quite frankly needed as much labour as we could get for the time in which we found ourselves responsible for the government of Ontario. To be perfectly frank, we were involved at that time with some, as they turned out to be, unsuccessful negotiations around the Meech Lake accord. The leader of the government at the time, my friend and colleague David Peterson, did not feel it would be helpful beginning what could very well be seen to be a trade war with our major partner in the old empire of the St Lawrence, namely the province of Quebec, at that time. But that was then and this is now, and the irritation has gone on unabated.

The member for Ottawa-Rideau cited some very good examples that I think most of us, whether you're the member for Cornwall, the member for Nepean, the member for Ottawa South, Ottawa Centre, would be able to cite, and I could cite as well.

There is, as I mentioned a moment ago, a connection between Ontario and Quebec at a place called Rapides-des-Joachims. It's a small, wonderful community in Quebec that is almost landlocked - effectively landlocked - from the rest of that part of Quebec province. Most of the servicing of Rapides-des-Joachims is done through the Highway 17 corridor, with people coming up from Pembroke through Deep River and crossing at Rolphton. I'm telling you, business people from Ontario who have been serving that community over the time I've been here being harassed for delivering oil or petroleum products on winter days to people who are five and 10 miles away from an Ontario location and 60, 70 miles away from a Quebec location - it is just absolute nonsense. It's madness on stilts. As I said earlier, it has sorely tested the patience of fair-minded Canadians, not just in Ontario but in Quebec as well.

The other day, at the regional council in Pontiac county, hundreds of upset Quebecers were petitioning their local government to do something to make Quebec City respond to the pressures that are building in west Quebec, because there are tens of thousands of fair-minded Canadians living in west Quebec who understand the madness and the stupidity of this border dispute that's gone on, as I said, for as long as I've been here.

It strikes many of us as particularly irksome that there appears to be freer trade between Quebec and New England than there is between Quebec and Ontario. I repeat: it strikes many of us as especially irritating and irksome that there appears to be freer trade between Quebec province and New England than there is between Ontario and Quebec. That is simply unacceptable.

I agree with Dalton McGuinty who said - I believe it was my leader - that this is not going to be easy. We have, happily, a very active and expanding economy and there are thousands of non-unionized construction workers, many of them living in Quebec and working in Ontario, who are going to be badly hurt by this. There are going to be very real pressures in southeastern Ontario especially. I suspect my friend from Carleton would know better than I, but I read in the Ottawa Citizen, for example, that the residential construction activity in Ottawa-Carleton is pretty good right now.

I'm going to tell you, Bill 17, which I support, is not going to be without its consequences. There will be consequences, and those of us who support this bill are all going to have to be prepared to confront some pretty unhappy workers and businesses. I, for my part, am willing to do so and I expect all members who support this bill will do so as well.

I noted in the Ottawa Sun the other day a columnist whose name I can't remember chastizing the Harris government for not doing a great deal thus far.

Mr Cullen: It was the editor.

Mr Conway: Was it the editor?

Mr Cullen: Yes, it was the editor.

Mr Conway: I forget the columnist. It was a column.

Mr Cullen: It was Richard Gibbons.

Mr Conway: I think that sounds like the name, indeed.

The fact of the matter is, to apply the force of this bill is going to produce real consequences, but I don't know of any other way, quite frankly.

I noticed the editorial in the Globe and Mail of a couple of weeks ago, a thoughtful column by Andrew Coyne in the Black press which suggested - certainly the Globe suggested - that Ontario should avail itself of the dispute resolution mechanisms under the internal agreement on trade signed by several Canadian provinces.

The people I represent, and quite frankly I myself, come at it a bit more practically. Like the Minister of Labour, I have played sports. I didn't play as well as he did. I certainly didn't play on any ivy league hockey team, but I played a lot of hockey in my time. My rule always was, I will play by whatever rule my opponent chooses, but if my opponent chooses the rule that in this case Quebec has chosen around mobility issues, then, without much announcement, I am simply going to apply that very same rule to my opponent, and I'd probably want to add 5%.

And I'm not going to make any big announcement either, because my experience in these matters is that it's not what you say, it's what you do. I want action that is going to be more felt than seen or heard. If that makes me a hawk, so be it, because I am tired of trying to explain and defend evidently ridiculous and unfair practices applied throughout the Ottawa River corridor.

Seven score years ago our forebears met at Quebec City and Charlottetown to create the Canadian federation, and they did so in large measure because they wanted to create a free trade zone among the provinces of all British North America. That was a very key aspect of what they were about in the mid-19th century. Well, the time has come for this Legislature to show the people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec, northeastern Ontario and northwestern Quebec, that we still accept and support the economic union, the free trade zone that was established at Charlottetown, Quebec and London some 130 years ago. I am not happy that we are forced to this point, but we have been patient to a fault. The time for response has arrived.


Let me say again, and in conclusion, I am under no illusions that the passage of this legislation is going to have a serious impact, I suspect almost immediately, on the residential construction business, in the national capital area especially. I applaud the current government for the aggressive approach they've taken in the application of the several Ontario provincial tax policies that have been flirted with and flouted for lo too many years. I think, from what I'm hearing along the Ottawa River frontier, that that more aggressive application of tax collection and tax application is having the desired effect.

I hope and I pray that good sense and good judgment are going to bring people, particularly in Quebec City, to their senses and that we will find a way to negotiate a true and lasting peace on this matter. But I stand here tonight to say that I'm no longer prepared to accept the bland assurances offered me by previous governments that negotiation is going to be the be-all and end-all. It hasn't worked. It is now time to do what we ought to do tonight, which is give full and speedy passage of second and third reading to Bill 17, standing in the name of the Minister of Labour.

Hon Mr Sterling: I come to this debate after a long history of being involved in this because I introduced the first resolution dealing with this particular matter on May 6, 1993. This Legislature passed that particular resolution, and that resolution said we wanted to fight fire with fire. I was disappointed in the day because there was only one member from the Liberal Party from eastern Ontario who voted for that resolution, and that was Hans Daigeler, who is no longer with us here in the Legislature or on this earth. I was astounded, quite frankly, at that time that Liberal members didn't consider this issue that important to be here to support me and support Ontario workers in bringing this matter forward.

A week later the member for Ottawa East, Mr Grandmaître, brought forward a resolution that didn't say "fight fire with fire" but said "let's talk some more." In fact Mr Grandmaître, in referring to me, said he didn't believe in fighting fire with fire. But I believed even back then that we should progress very aggressively.

Then in September 1993, the NDP government brought forward Bill 123 and all members of this Legislature passed it on first and on second reading. It was referred to committee over the winter session. In and about February 1994, I got a call from the then Minister of Labour, Frances Lankin, who said that they had struck a deal with the province of Quebec to resolve the problems that we were having with regard to workers crossing the border. I was very happy that we didn't have to pass Bill 123 through third reading and into law because it appeared that we had a deal.

Then when we came to power, in 1995 or 1996 Elizabeth Witmer, who was then the Minister of Labour, brought forward another agreement with Quebec because the first agreement was failing. I was hopeful that that agreement would work as well, in terms of having some reciprocity between the two provinces.

In 1996, Mr Lalonde brought forward his bill. Unfortunately, his bill was fatally flawed in that it had obligatory unionization of our workers, it did not have retail sales tax enforcement and it didn't cover the aggregate haulers. The fact of the matter is that that bill didn't cover the areas where a lot of the aggravation was.

We also had an agreement in place at that time and we were hoping it would work, but it didn't. This was drawn to my attention when I was with Premier Harris on March 31 when he announced that we would go ahead with this bill and he produced that bill for all members of the public at that time. I talked to an electrical contractor who had talked with one of his friends from Pontiac county up in the west part of Quebec. Both being electrical contractors, they said to each other: "Why don't we both apply for a licence to do business in each other's province, because we don't do that now, and we'll try to do it. Let's see what kind of roadblocks would be put in our way in order to carry on business in the other province."

The fellow from Pontiac county in Quebec applied to get his licence in the province of Ontario. It took him 48 hours and cost him $200 to get a licence to do business in our province. When I talked to the fellow from Ontario trying to go across into Quebec and do electrical contracting work, he had been at it for four and a half weeks, had not yet got his licence approved and was continuing to come up against roadblocks. At that point in time he had spent over $2,000 to try to get a licence to do business in Quebec.

I was really pleased when the Minister of Labour came up to Ottawa-Carleton and eastern Ontario to talk to the contractors, to talk to the aggregate haulers, to talk to the carpenters and the workers from both sides of our border, the Ottawa River, and try to iron out disputes and deal with this issue.

I'm very proud that our Premier and our Minister of Labour have taken this tough stand. I sat at the table with the Premier and he was talking to some of the people who were going to be affected on the Ontario side by this legislation. I heard the Premier say to the contractors who are going to be affected by this legislation, "It's going to be tough on you for awhile." The Ottawa contractors, who had some Quebec workers working for them and understood that indeed there was going to be a problem, said: "Yes, we know there is going to be tough medicine for us to take when this legislation is put forward, but we know it must be done." Not only do we believe very strongly in this legislation, we also believe that our people are ready for it in terms of dealing with it even though it may disadvantage them in a financial way for a short period of time.

It's my hope that the Minister of Labour, with this piece of legislation, will be able to negotiate and enforce a lasting agreement which will actually work on the ground. As the member for Renfrew North, Mr Conway, has said, it's really important that it work on the ground.

A lot of politicians have worked on this problem over a long period of time: members of the NDP, members of the Liberal Party, members of the Conservative Party. We've all been involved. Some people say it didn't happen soon enough, it's too late, it's too little, and all the rest of it. But this is the first time that we have really come to the House and said as a Legislature: "We're going to pass this bill, we're going to make it law and we're going to enforce this law."

I just want to thank each and every member who has been involved in this, including the Minister of Labour and our Premier, for their tremendous contribution, their tremendous courage in bringing this bill forward. I believe that once it's passed we will start to see reciprocity, that our workers will have the opportunity to go across the bridge and do some work in Quebec like the Quebec workers have that right to come to our province.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Further debate? The member for Ottawa East.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): In listening to the member for Carleton -

The Speaker: You know what? The Liberals don't have any time left. Do you want to give him your time?

Hon Mr Sterling: No. He's going to criticize me.

The Speaker: All right.

Mr Grandmaître: Mr Speaker, on a point of order.

Mr Bisson: He can have our time.

Mr Cullen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: I heard you. Just hang on for a second. If you want the NDP time, then ask for consent.

Mr Grandmaître: I ask for unanimous consent to share the NDP time.

The Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Bisson: We want 5,000 votes in return from your riding.

Mr Grandmaître: Five thousand votes. It's a deal. It's sold because you're going to need a hell of a lot more than 5,000 votes.

I'm delighted to join in this debate at the late hour for the simple reason that we're all busy, it's getting close to election time, but I couldn't help listening to the member for Carleton reminding us of 1993. What the member for Carleton is forgetting is that back in 1992 I introduced a resolution that he voted for. He voted for it. Back on March 6, 1992, you voted for it. It was accepted unanimously. But it was a resolution, not a bill. I was in the opposition, Norm, and you voted for it.

Hon Mr Sterling: Yes.

Mr Grandmaître: You remember.

The debate at that time, Mr Speaker - I must be very honest with you - was not about labour issues, it was about linguistic issues. I remember the Minister of Agriculture and also the member for Carleton standing in their place and saying, "It's about time that we put Quebeckers where they belong." This was not the intention of my resolution. My resolution was a very simple move, and that was to find a decent resolution to solve the problem.

I had met with the Minister of Labour and with Frances Lankin, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, and we came to an agreement with the Minister of Labour, M. Tremblay, if I'm not mistaken. We had signed the agreement in the city of Hull.

At that time we were resolved to find a solution, except that the members in the opposition in those days didn't have the same intentions we did. It was a fight between Ontario and Quebec. It wasn't about labour. It wasn't about a friendly relationship. It was about a linguistic issue.

Hon Mr Sterling: Oh, get off it.

Mr Grandmaître: Maybe you don't like it, but I'm telling the truth.

They shied away. We had a number of occasions to meet with the Minister of Labour, Mrs Witmer, and M. Lalonde. I can tell you that they had all the answers. It was within weeks. Then what we found out two weeks after, when I was getting in touch with our Ontario office in the province of Quebec, in Quebec City, was they had closed the office. They had closed the office in Quebec City. We had nobody to talk to in Quebec City.

When I hear the member for Carleton talking about his 1993 exploitation, I feel sorry for him because with his great memory and his great experience in this House, he must be responsible for his previous actions. He's trying to run away from his past. He's trying to run away from it.

Interjection: He can't run away from his past.

Mr Grandmaître: Absolutely. Selective memory.

My colleague from Prescott and Russell took up the slack and introduced a private member's bill. I must congratulate him. It wasn't very popular at the time because, let's face it, the government and the opposition had different views on how to resolve it. Mr Lalonde had the fortitude to introduce his bill and again we had support from the opposition and also from the government members.

We are close to an election and this is why the government of Ontario, with a very bland agenda, waited until the 11th hour to introduce Bill 17 for second and third readings. I will be supporting Bill 17 in second and third readings but, to be very honest with you, I don't have the same gut feeling that I had back in 1992. I'm doing it today because I want to resolve the situation. I want to give Ontarians the opportunity to work in their province and also in the province of Quebec.

Depuis 1992 on parle de trouver une solution à nos problèmes qui concernent la mobilité de nos travailleurs dans le domaine de la construction. C'est peut-être ma dernière occasion d'adresser la parole dans cette Chambre, mais je veux être certain d'appuyer et de féliciter mon collègue de Prescott et Russell qui a présenté ce projet de loi d'intérêt privé.

Certains projets de loi sont laissés de côté, mais celui de M. Lalonde était un projet de loi de coeur qui voulait trouver une solution très précaire, entre deux provinces : le Québec et l'Ontario.

Monsieur le Président, je vais appuyer les deuxième et troisième lectures, mais par contre, laissez-moi vous dire que j'ai une petite tache, une petite tache au coeur, mais j'ai une bonne mémoire des actions du gouvernement.

The Speaker: Further debate? None.

Mr Flaherty has moved second reading of Bill 17. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Pursuant to the order of the House made earlier today, this bill is ordered referred to the committee of the whole House.

House in committee of the whole.


Consideration of Bill 17, An Act respecting Labour Mobility in the Construction Industry aimed at Restricting Access to Those Taking Advantage of Ontario's Policy of Free Mobility / Projet de loi 17, Loi sur la mobilité de la main-d'oeuvre dans l'industrie de la construction visant à restreindre l'accès de ceux qui profitent de la politique de libre mobilité de l'Ontario.

The Second Deputy Chair (Ms Marilyn Churley): Are there any amendments to this bill and, if so, to which section?

Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): The amendments to the bill are to section 10 and section 26.

The Second Deputy Chair: Questions or comments on sections 1 through 9? No? Shall sections 1 through 9 carry? Carried.

Section 10, Mr Bisson.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I move that subsection 10(1) of the bill be amended by inserting "harvesting or transporting timber or engaging in the exploration of minerals" after the word "work."

I've already submitted copies to both the other parties and the table.

The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Bisson has moved that subsection 10(1) of the bill be amended by inserting "harvesting or transporting timber or engaging in the exploration of minerals" after "work".


Mr Bisson: I want to take a couple of minutes to explain what this particular amendment does. If you take a look at section 10 of the bill, if you read section 10 under part II, the construction workers part of the act, it says:

"Every individual who is a person resident in a designated jurisdiction and who is or will be doing construction work in a designated area shall register with the office."

It goes through to explain that they have to register with the director. What we're asking for in this part of the bill is not to limit it just to people in the construction trades, namely, the construction industry, but to include in that scope of the bill people who are employed in harvesting and transporting timber, and also those people employed and those people operating what is considered to be equipment within the exploration of minerals definition.

Where we're getting at, as I said earlier in my comments, is that we understand the problem in the Ottawa area. We also have that problem to an extent in northeastern Ontario when it comes to Quebec contractors and Quebec construction workers coming to Ontario and having unequal access to our jobs and our contracts, and it's not vice versa when you go to the Quebec side of the border.

What we're asking the government to do is to accept this amendment as a friendly amendment to the bill. We're asking that we also look at the forest industry and at the mining industry so that those people who are contractors in those two industries in the harvesting of timber and the transportation - that would mean anybody who has a feller-buncher, anybody who is basically employed in the harvesting of timber, all those people who are transporting timber, in other words, truckers - would be treated the same in this law as they are in the construction industry so that you don't have unequal treatment of workers from Quebec to Ontario when it comes to the timber industry.

On the side of the mining industry, as I mentioned earlier, we have a growing problem where we have people with significant investments in equipment in the drilling field, in the drilling equipment such as diamond drill equipment, who are sitting idle and no work is being done with their equipment. At the same time you've got Quebec contractors in Ontario, working with their drills and displacing Ontario workers and contractors.

The big problem is, when the Ontario workers or the Ontario drilling contractors try to go into Quebec to get work that's there - in the case of the mining industry there's significant work in the diamond drill exploration community that cannot get to the Quebec side of the border because if they are successful, first of all, to get a bid, they are harassed once they go into Quebec by the QPP, the Ministry of Labour and others, in the province of Quebec and they are not able to stay there and complete the work they've done.

I was contacted just recently where somebody from Kapuskasing was telling me the other day that they had got a small contract in northern Quebec. They weren't on the job site for more than two days and basically they were starting to be harassed by the provincial Ministry of Labour and the QPP. They really felt that if they stayed things were only going to progressively get worse, so they just packed up their bags and came back to Ontario.

That is not fair because it's one thing for Quebec workers and companies to come to Ontario; we need to make sure that Ontario contractors and workers can also go to Quebec and do the same.

Our amendment, as I said, we view as a friendly amendment and we ask the government to support the amendment as it would do basically the same thing you're doing for the construction trades.

The Second Deputy Chair: Are there any other comments?

Hon Jim Flaherty (Minister of Labour): I appreciate the member's amendment, and we did have a chance to talk about it briefly. The draft bill has been available since March 31. I have not had an opportunity to see this amendment until tonight. I tell you, there may well be merit to the proposed amendment that the member opposite brings forward. I am concerned that the process we have followed with respect to Bill 17 has been a cautious consultation process in which we have made every effort to have open doors, to travel to eastern Ontario, to meet with union representatives, to meet with truckers, suppliers, contractors and workers, unionized and non-unionized, up and down the Ottawa Valley and in the Ottawa-Carleton area, Cumberland, Hawkesbury and so on.

I have not had that same opportunity with respect to the issues raised by the member opposite with respect to timber and mining. The member may well be right that these are areas in which there is a disparity in treatment between our neighbours in Quebec and Ontario. They may well be issues that the negotiators should explore. I will certainly instruct our negotiator to raise these issues also in the discussions that are taking place, because we do believe at the end of the day in a negotiated resolution of this issue.

At this stage, without that type of listening and that type of consultation within northeastern Ontario, I hesitate to move forward with respect to this idea, which may well be meritorious. It may well be necessary in the future to address them, after we have dealt with the construction mobility issue.

Mr Bisson: I don't want to debate this ad infinitum. We're time-allocated to 25 minutes in committee of the whole and we have another amendment to come forward. I just want to say to the Minister of Labour that the bill was printed on March 30, so I can't believe there has been all that much discussion within the construction trades and the contractors on this particular issue. I don't see how you should treat those people in the timber industry and the mining industry any differently. I would ask you again to reconsider and to support this amendment. I think it's important for not only the people in northeastern Ontario, but also people engaged in those industries in eastern Ontario.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I just want to refer to the comment that both Ministers Villeneuve and Sterling mentioned a little while ago. First of all I want to refer to the comment of Minister Villeneuve. He said that he heard a radio interview with Radio-Canada in March while he was driving on the 401, and that I said it was unconstitutional to come up with this bill. The bill was not produced at the time; we received a copy of the bill only last Wednesday. So there's no way at the time that he could have said that I said that, because at that time the minister was saying they would make sure all Quebec construction workers were going to get an Ontario competency card. It is unconstitutional when you decide to have outsiders get a card if you don't have a card system for your own employees.

On the other point that Minister Sterling just said a little while ago, about the taxation, you don't have to include this in the bill, because you have the sales tax guide 804 that is already in place that you people have never put in force. If this had been enforced in 1995, it would have been all over.

The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Lalonde, just one moment. You have to speak to the amendment.

Mr Lalonde: Thank you.

The Second Deputy Chair: Any other comments on the amendment?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Very briefly, there's no question that the timber trade is also an issue. I simply want to say on behalf of the people I represent in the upper Ottawa Valley that it does represent a concern. I'm quite happy to have the matter investigated further, but I would certainly support the amendment to the extent that it is an issue, it is an irritation and I would want some very serious consideration, if not now, at some appropriate and timely point in the not-too-distant future.

Hon Mr Flaherty: In response to my friend opposite in the New Democratic Party, the consultations, of course, have taken place for more than a year now with respect to the issues that have been debated in this House tonight. That's very important, and I'm sure my friend agrees that we should not act precipitously in these matters; we should ensure that we consult and listen to all sides before coming to this House with a proposed piece of legislation. Some consultation, some thought and some reflection have been given in developing the bill.

As I say, my friend may well be right that in the future other areas may need to be explored in a legislative way. I would hope they'd be successfully resolved in a negotiated way.


The Second Deputy Chair: Are there any other comments?

Shall Mr Bisson's amendment to section 10 carry? All those in favour, please say "aye." Those opposed, please say "nay." In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There will be a five-minute vote.

Interjections: Stacked.

The Second Deputy Chair: This vote is stacked.

Questions or comments on sections 11 through 26? No.

Shall sections 11 through 26 carry? Carried.

Mr Cullen, you were going to move an amendment.

Mr Cullen: I have an addition to section 26.

I move that the bill be amended by adding the following section:

"Firmer measures

"26.1(1) This section applies with respect to a designated jurisdiction if, by April 1, 2000, Ontario and that jurisdiction have not entered into an agreement with respect to barriers to working and doing business in that jurisdiction because of unfair, discriminatory or restrictive practices in that jurisdiction.

"Prohibition, individuals

"(2) No individual who is a person resident in a designated jurisdiction shall work in construction in Ontario or supply services relating to construction in Ontario.

"Same, employers

"(3) No person shall employ an individual who is a person resident in a designated jurisdiction to work in construction in Ontario or to supply services relating to construction in Ontario.

"Re-employment of injured worker

"(4) An employer who re-employs an individual in accordance with section 41 of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, and the individual who is re-employed under that section shall be deemed not to contravene subsection (2) or (3).

"Application for exemption

"(5) An individual and an employer may apply to a director for an exemption from subsections (2) and (3).


"(6) The director shall grant the exemption if the employer demonstrates,

"(a) that the individuals skills are necessary in the conduct of the employer's operations and

"(b) that, because of a shortage of those skills, no other resident of Canada is available to carry out the work.

"Shortage of skills

"(7) The employer shall use the prescribed criteria and methods to demonstrate the existence of a shortage of skills.

"Duration of exemption

"(8) The exemption applies for the lesser of one year and the period during which the employer needs the individual's skills.

"Renewal of exemption

"(9) An exemption may be renewed.


"(10) Every person who contravenes or fails to comply with subsection (2) or (3) is guilty of an offence and on conviction,

"(a) in the case of a corporation, is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000;

"(b) in the case of a person who is not a corporation, is liable to a fine of not more than $2,000.


"(11) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,

"(a) prescribing criteria and methods for the purpose of subsection (7); and

"(b) exempting from the application of subsections (2) and (3) such class of employer or employee, doing such type of construction, in such parts of Ontario and in such circumstances, as the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers appropriate, having regard to exemptions by a designated jurisdiction from the application or operation of its laws or practices to a class of employer or employee or a type of construction.


"(12) In this section,

"`designated jurisdiction' means a designated jurisdiction if the circumstances set out in subsection (1) apply to it; (`territoire désigné')

"`director' means an inspector who is appointed as a director for the purposes of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. (`directeur')"

The Second Deputy Chair: Are there any comments?

Mr Cullen: What I have moved is essentially Bill 123. Bill 123 was as short as I read it out. I have passed copies to both the government and the opposition. They have copies of this amendment.

What we are doing here is, Bill 17, as presented by the Minister of Labour, does provide for construction contractors from a designated jurisdiction to register with the Jobs Protection Office; it does require construction workers to register with the Jobs Protection Office; it does prohibit the government of Ontario from awarding construction contracts; it does deal with people hauling aggregate in Ontario etc.

However, these are just impediments to people conducting business in Ontario in the construction industry from a designated jurisdiction, ie, the province of Quebec. If this is not successful in bringing Quebec to the bargaining table, then I feel we need to have something in our pocket, and that something in our pocket is Bill 123, which this House passed unanimously on first and second reading back in 1993.

The amendment I have moved says that as of April 1, 2000, if there is not that agreement, the government can then move to the provisions of Bill 123, in other words, designate a jurisdiction, in this case Quebec, and simply say that no one from that jurisdiction can work in our construction industry. That is what Bill 123 said, and that is what this amendment does. If we have an agreement at the table, then this amendment is moot; if there is no agreement at the table, the government can choose to exercise this amendment. In the subsection, you will see that the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulation. So the government will have the ability to choose to pull that trigger. But without it, and no agreement, we have nothing. I believe we should have something.

I can tell you that back in 1993 Bill 123 did bring the government of Quebec to the table. So let's not set up something that may not work. We know Bill 123 did work. We're going to give the government a chance, assuming this government gets re-elected - the next government, any government coming in after the election - to make this work, and if it doesn't, then I believe this thing is perfectly in order and should be available to it.

The Acting Speaker: Any other comments?

Hon Mr Flaherty: I appreciate the comments of the member for Ottawa West.

The purpose of the legislation, as the Premier has made clear, is to mirror the impact of the Quebec situation in Ontario. What the member is proposing, what he is lifting from Bill 123, the NDP bill from 1993, I believe, is draconian. It would prohibit any person resident in a designated jurisdiction from working in construction in Ontario. Leaving aside for a moment the constitutionality of a provision like that, it would go beyond mirroring the impact of the Quebec situation, which as a policy question I would not propose.

Having said that, Bill 123 certainly was an effort by the New Democratic Party government of the day to address this issue back in 1993. Indeed, the Management Board directive the NDP cabinet put forward back in 1993 is similar to what we did earlier this spring with respect to public contracts.

The bill before the House is measured with respect to the steps that may be taken with respect to construction workers. It is intentionally measured. It also provides a degree of flexibility to Ontario contractors. It is intentional that there be a degree of flexibility so that hopefully we can ensure that our contractors in Ontario are affected minimally with respect to the legislation if it's passed.

Those are the reasons why I have some difficulty with the proposed amendment, allowing at the same time that if negotiations are unsuccessful it may be necessary at a later time to move further.

Mr Lalonde's private member's bill similarly was different from the government bill, Bill 17, in that it required forced unionization of Ontario workers. It did not deal with aggregates, and it did not deal with the retail sales tax issue, which is what we heard in our consultations. We certainly heard that the retail sales tax issue was a major issue. The Ministry of Finance inspectors, who have been taking significant action of late in eastern Ontario, are finding that what we heard on the ground is indeed so. So those are different aspects of the legislation.

I thank the member for his amendment.

Mr Conway: I would like to speak to the amendment. I agree with the minister basically, although I would take a slightly different posture on some of his collateral comments.

My own belief has to be, and would be, that on a number of issues, like the application of the Ontario retail sales tax regime, we have had for a long time the administrative possibility, and for whatever good reason or bad we did not apply those. They are now being applied and I strongly support the government in that connection.

Not all of the sanctions we need are legislative. We have simply over the years chosen not to apply a wide array of administrative applications and sanctions that I could imagine, like the rigorous application of trucking rules, for example; or the rigorous application of the provincial sales tax regime, or the even more rigorous application of workers' compensation rules and inspections. Oh, one would not have to be Irish or creative to imagine a number of non-legislative applications that we could apply.

On the amendment, I agree with the minister that we have before us a bill that, from what I can tell and from what I have read, seeks to do a number of very discrete things that mirror activities currently being applied in the province of Quebec against Ontario business and Ontario labour.

I think we should pass this bill. I'm quite prepared to consider the Bisson amendment because the lumber and timber issues are real in my area. But I would not favour this amendment, Mr Cullen's amendment, because I think it anticipates failure. It might be viewed as pre-emptive, provocative, premature, and for those reasons I would not favour it at this time, I say to my quizzical friend the Attorney General.

Mr Cullen: I understand people's hesitation, but people have to remember that this only comes into play April 1, 2000, and is at the government's discretion. In terms of it being pre-emptive, provocative, what have you, I wish whoever gets elected - certainly if we are elected we know that we are able to speak to this issue because of our concerns in terms of protecting people's jobs and livelihood, workplace safety and all those issue that are important to both provinces and to workers in both provinces.

I want to remind my colleagues here, did not members of all three parties support this unanimously in 1993? The record is very clear: The Liberal side did, yes; the Tory side did, yes. So here's a situation where it was successful in bringing Quebec to the table.

Where we're venturing with this bill we don't know. So far the government of Quebec has not responded to any of the government's initiatives, no matter how much the government has trumpeted these things. I don't want people sitting out there feeling their problems have been resolved when we have no reaction whatsoever. This is something that all parties agreed to and it's at the government's discretion to bring into play.

I don't know what you're afraid of, but my community wants to see some resolution. Don't back off. Don't back down. Do it right.

The Second Deputy Chair: Are there any other comments?

Shall Mr Cullen's amendment adding new section 26.1 carry?

All those in favour of the motion, please say "aye."

Those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinions, the nays have it.

The amendment is lost.

Shall sections 27 through 29 carry? Carried.

Shall the preamble carry? Carried.

Shall the title carry? Carried.

Call in the members; a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 2204 to 2207.

The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Bisson has moved an amendment to section 10.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise.

All those opposed, please rise.

Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): The ayes are 8; the nays are 32.

The Second Deputy Chair: I declare the amendment lost.

Shall section 10 carry? Carried.

Shall the bill carry? Carried.

Shall I report the bill to the House? Agreed.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): I move the committee rise and report.

The Second Deputy Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry? Carried.

The committee of the whole House begs to report one bill without amendment and asks for leave to sit again.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.


Mr Flaherty moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 17, An Act respecting Labour Mobility in the Construction Industry aimed at Restricting Access to Those Taking Advantage of Ontario's Policy of Free Mobility / Projet de loi 17, Loi sur la mobilité de la main-d'oeuvre dans l'industrie de la construction visant à restreindre l'accès de ceux qui profitent de la politique de libre mobilité de l'Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Flaherty?

Hon Jim Flaherty (Minister of Labour): No comment.

The Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I have just a very brief question.

The Speaker: Hold it, have we got an agreement? There's no agreement; OK.

Mr Conway: Trust me, I'm certainly not going to be long. I can tell you, a lot of people I represent would be very interested to hear from the minister tonight, as best he can tell the House and the people of eastern and northeastern Ontario, upon the passage of this bill - and it's being given royal assent, I suspect, some time between now and sunrise tomorrow morning - what will the implementation of the several provisions of Bill 17 be over the next, let us say, three to six months? Could the minister advise the House on the roll-out and the implementation of the bill that is now to be passed?

The Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): We're at the close of this, and I suspect we're at the close of the third session of the 36th Parliament. It is interesting how this bill is being moved through with the help and assistance of the different members of this House, the different parties of this House. Contrast that with the beginning of this Parliament.

I look forward to the election. I look forward to a chance for accountability on the record.

This particular bill had its antecedents earlier, where there was all-party support dealing with this issue that affects particularly my community. I just wanted to end this session on that note.

The Speaker: Further debate? No further debate.

Mr Flaherty has moved third reading of Bill 17. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

It now being marginally after 9:30 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 2212.