L086B - Tue 10 Oct 2000 / Mar 10 oct 2000
The House met at 1845.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PROFESSIONAL FORESTERS ACT, 2000 / LOI DE 2000 SUR LES FORESTIERS PROFESSIONNELS
Mr Gilchrist moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 110, An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry / Projet de loi 110, Loi concernant la réglementation de l'exercice de la profession de forestier.
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I know this bill is very important, especially to the people in northern Ontario. Is there a quorum?
The Acting Speaker (Mr Tony Martin): Is there a quorum?
Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.
The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: Mr Gilchrist.
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I am indeed pleased to start debate on Bill 110 this evening. I would like to indicate up front that I'll be splitting my time with the members for Halton, Simcoe North, and Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford.
I'm particularly pleased tonight because this bill represents only the second time that a piece of legislation has been prepared in committee. As the members in the House will know, I guess about a year ago we changed the standing orders so that there is now a third mechanism through which legislation can be created. Traditionally, of course, there were government bills and there were private members' bills. But we have now given the committees themselves the powers to enact legislation. So I'm honoured, as the committee Chair, to have the bill stand in my name, but I certainly want to recognize the fact that it was unanimously supported by members from all three parties in the committee, and their names stand as secondary sponsors to the act. I want to thank them all for their participation in the debate and their support of the bill.
I'm not going to go on at great length today, particularly because there was such unanimous support during the hearings we've had so far on this bill and the fact that all three parties have signed off. It is a long-overdue recognition of the fact that forestry is an extremely important part of the economy of the province and that silviculture must be maintained, not just the traditions of silviculture but the application of the most up-to-date science in all aspects of forestry.
This bill continues the Ontario Professional Foresters Association as the professional body that regulates and governs the profession of professional forestry. It does not require that all persons practising forestry in Ontario become registered professional foresters, but what it does do is make a clear distinction and say that if you want to achieve a certain designation, you will have to have the skills, you will have to have the training and you will have to have been recognized by the OPFA in order to be designated.
It's important to us that foresters have that expertise. While those of us whose lives are not on a day-to-day basis involved in silviculture may not recognize the fact that you need to know about soil erosion and site degradation, you need to know about the impact of forestry in terms of how your tree plantings might be affected by forest fires and ways to mitigate against that, we do know that lower-quality forests lead to reduced employment, less community growth and reduced economic contribution, particularly in your part of the province, Speaker, where it is the cornerstone of our economy.
We have made it very clear in this bill that there is a group that we believe has the expertise to guarantee that all those people who want to be recognized as professional foresters have the necessary training and conform to the appropriate professional standards of practice.
We know that as a result of this bill there will be the application of professionally accepted methodologies and procedures in both the obtaining and the interpretation of information; in other words, how a professional forester actually goes about doing his work. The bill will require that the OPFA develop, and that foresters participate in, a mandatory continuing education program because in forestry, as in all aspects of our economy, there is improved technology, there is improved science that we hope would be applied to all aspects of this business.
The continuing education program will result in foresters maintaining a high level of professional competency and, in fact, we're confident the highest level of competency in the world. We know that the adherence to professional standards of practice will ensure that the intent of what are known as the silviculture standards and guidelines will be scrupulously followed.
Finally, we know that sustainability of Ontario's forests will ensure economic viability not just in the north but throughout Ontario. That in turn means less reliance on government support.
As I mentioned earlier, I don't want to belabour the specifics of the bill. I do, again, want to compliment members from all three parties. Mr Speaker, it's quite fortunate that you're in the chair tonight. We have seen this bill, which originally started out as a Liberal private member's bill and then became a Conservative initiative under Mr Chudleigh, inspire the committee to create a bill that has passed muster with all three parties.
Similarly, we know your idea for the franchise act has now become law. I'm heartened by the fact that with this new power, standing order 124, we have an ability for backbenchers, for members of all three parties, to make sure that their good ideas actually make their way on to the floor of this House and, I'm very confident, all the way to being passed into legislation.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Bartolucci: I stand and wish to comment just very briefly on the bill because we on the Liberal side here don't have a big problem with this bill. However, we do have a problem when it comes to various other things that impact on northern Ontario. I think Mr Gilchrist outlined it very well. We don't have any problem supporting it.
But I do have a problem when it comes to supporting items like health care apartheid, which I believe impacts incredibly on northern Ontario. I'm glad that the Minister of Health is in the chamber tonight. I'm glad that she's able to hear the comments that I echo on behalf of the people of northern Ontario. Certainly the Ontario foresters act is an important act. In fact, it clarifies roles. That's important. What is more important to the people of northern Ontario at this particular time is the health care apartheid that seems to be practised by this government.
This government will tell you that they're not embarking on health care apartheid. The reality is that when Janice Skinner comes down to Toronto she is only given 30.4 cents a kilometre one way to Toronto. Yet somebody who has to come to Sudbury to get cancer treatment-and my God, we hope that treatment is successful so that person is cured of cancer-that person receives full travel costs, full hotel costs and full meal costs. We're happy that person from Toronto is receiving those costs because that person has been re-referred to Sudbury.
The reality is that Janice Skinner doesn't have that luxury. There's no re-referral program for Janice Skinner. Janice Skinner is referred to Toronto for treatment. Here is the dilemma. Unlike the Ontario foresters act, where everyone seems to be treated as equal, Janice Skinner is not treated as an equal. Janice Skinner is discriminated against because Janice Skinner happens to be from the riding of Nickel Belt, Shelley Martel's riding. She happens to be from the Sudbury region and she is discriminated against. Then you wonder why people like Claudette Boyer, Leona Dombrowksy, John Cleary, myself, Dominic Agostino, Shelley Martel and the rest of us on this side of the House are opposed to that type of treatment. We see that as discrimination. Unlike the Ontario foresters act, where there isn't that discrimination, we see that there is clearly discrimination within the health ministry.
It surprises me, because I have to tell you, I have a lot of respect for the Minister of Health; I really do. I have talked to her on a personal basis. We've talked about issues, and she seems like a caring person. It's not her who is calling the shots. I want the people of northern Ontario and Ontario to know that it is clearly not Elizabeth Witmer who is calling the shots here; it is clearly Mike Harris. Mike Harris has decided, even though he's from North Bay, that there will be health care apartheid in this province, unlike the Ontario foresters act. I'm referring back to the act because I know it's important.
The Acting Speaker: I was just going to say, I'm convinced that the member is going to bring his thoughts back to the act that we're debating here tonight.
Mr Bartolucci: Absolutely. I think it's very important for us to understand that there is a great opportunity to look at the differences here. We have the Ontario foresters act, which in no way impedes democracy or equality, yet with regard to cancer treatment we are looking at discrimination, we are looking at health care apartheid, we are looking at favouritism-you can call it whatever you want. I don't like to refer to this particular practice by the government when it comes to the relationship to other acts, but the reality is, we cannot ignore that in Ontario today, because of the discrimination shown toward northern Ontario cancer patients, we are practising health care apartheid.
If only the government would learn from the Ontario foresters act, we would know that it is wrong to do what they're doing. I ask them to correct it. Mike Harris is in Sault Ste Marie tonight at a fundraiser, getting all kinds of money from Sault Ste Marie to take back to PC Ontario. I'm asking him to correct the injustice that he is perpetrating upon northern Ontario cancer patients.
Ms Shelley Martel (Nickel Belt): Before I deal with the bill in front of us, I just want to point out that Janice Skinner is not only from Nickel Belt, she's from my hometown, if people want to talk to Janice Skinner on a personal level about how much money she and her family have spent out of pocket to try to access cancer care here in Toronto. There is something clearly wrong with the government's discrimination.
Since the Minister of Health is here tonight, I only want to urge her in the strongest possible way, as she has now asked Cancer Care Ontario for a proposal to fund even more southern Ontario patients to go elsewhere for treatment, which needs to be done, that she use this opportunity to fund 100% of the costs for northern cancer patients too. Do not let this discrimination go on any longer.
It is my pleasure to participate this evening in the bill that is before us, which is Bill 118-sorry. We've had two bills in the last two years and I get them mixed up.
Ms Martel: Thank you very much, colleagues. It's Bill 110, which is An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry. I want to commend the standing committee on general government for the work the members did to deal with this particular bill, for the public presentations that occurred on June 22 for those six groups that came and made presentations, and for the work the committee did to accept some amendments, one of which I will speak to later, in order to bring the bill forward here tonight.
But it's worth making the following point. Almost two years ago in this House, on November 5, 1998, during private members' hour, this House debated a very similar bill which was moved by David Ramsay, and that was Bill 71, also called An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry. That bill did pass second reading in the House that morning, and I was pleased to speak in support of it on behalf of our caucus. That bill did make its way to committee and it was during the course of public hearings and the limited clause-by-clause that went on that, frankly, the government members nixed the bill-killed it, defeated it. It never saw the light of day after that public hearing process.
The people from the professional foresters association who are here tonight and who are going to be happy to see this bill pass second and third reading-I don't expect them to talk about that, because they're here to see this passed, but I'm going to talk about it because it's worth pointing out that that previous bill, Bill 71, had the unanimous consent of this House. The bill went to committee and in actual fact there is very little difference between that bill and the bill we're dealing with tonight-very little difference at all. There are some minor technical amendments, but the substance of the bill, the principles upon which it was first put forward, haven't changed one whit, one iota. We would have been much better served, the professional foresters would have been much better served and the public of Ontario would have been much better served if the government members had seen fit to pass that bill some two years ago.
The only reason I think the government didn't pass the bill in committee two years ago was because it was moved by an opposition member. I think that was the only reason the Conservatives didn't pass the bill-because it was moved by Mr Ramsay. God forbid that the Conservative Party was going to allow something good with respect to forestry to be passed by an opposition member. The fact of the matter is, and I say it again, and if you talk to members from the association they will confirm, there has been very little change from Bill 71 and the clauses and the principles to what we are dealing with today-very little change. The government would have served us all much better by having allowed that bill to pass two years ago. It is regrettable that the government was so short-sighted in wanting to ensure that an opposition member couldn't get a private member's bill passed that they deep-sixed it in the committee at that time.
So the professional foresters have had not only two years from that time to deal with this bill that is before us; frankly, they had two years before that, when their association was working toward licensing. If you go back and read any of their publications, which they send to all members on a regular basis-quarterly reports-you can see that as far back as February 1996, when they had their convention, the Ontario Professional Foresters Association began a serious and intensive discussion about licensing, which leads us here today. Certainly through that process over the last four years, they have done everything possible, everything necessary, to include all of their members in the discussion-and the vast majority of professional foresters in the province are members of the association-they have made every effort to deal with any of the concerns, questions and comments that came forward from that body. They had a number of public consultations in a number of communities across this province. They lobbied MPPs extensively at least two years ago about the former bill, Bill 71. They also contacted at least 70 other organizations-not professional foresters associations, but other associations which would have a concern about what goes on in Ontario forests-and got their comments, questions and concerns as well with respect to licensing of this body in this province.
There has been extensive consultation which has brought us here today, and it is incumbent, frankly, upon the members of this Legislature to now pass this bill, a bill which should, I repeat, have been passed two years ago. It's incumbent on us here tonight to pass second and third reading so that, finally, after four long years of working toward licensing and self-regulation, professional foresters will be in a position tomorrow that they will be just that: a self-regulating licensed body operating in the province of Ontario to ensure sustainability for the forests of Ontario.
Why is it important to have such a bill? I think it's important because the sustainability of our forests here in Ontario should be of paramount concern, not only to MPPs but to the public as well. Mr Speaker, you don't have as much forestry in your riding as I do in mine-
Hon Frank Klees (Minister without Portfolio): Hey, wait a minute.
Ms Martel: You have a fair bit, but probably not as much as in mine.
And you know full well, Mr Speaker, that many, many communities in our special part of the province, in northern Ontario, rely almost exclusively on this industry. If this industry has a black eye in international markets and we can't sell our products, then people we represent, workers in our communities, lose their jobs. It's as simple as that.
This bill works toward clearly ensuring that not only will the public interest be met when we deal with sustainability of our forests, but that a broader interest for all Ontarians will be met, which is that we can clearly convince the international community that buys from us that the goods we are selling are produced, are developed, are grown in a way that's sustainable in the long term.
The problem we have had is that the existing legislation in the province has not imposed either professional standards or academic standards on anyone who actually practises forestry in the province. That has been a very serious concern. Because the law is silent on these important issues and because, as a consequence, there is virtually no accountability for what goes on in the forest, by whom, and what happens when you have serious consequences, when we are not managing it in a sustainable manner then we put Ontario forests at risk. When we put our forests at risk, we put all of those communities and workers who depend on those things at risk as well.
There is a need for the long-term viability of our industry to ensure that we enshrine in law those protections, those standards, those disciplinary measures, those educational measures which will ensure that the people who practise forestry are of the highest quality, highest capability and are committed to ensuring that our forests are managed in a sustainable way.
If we look at what role the professional foresters have already played, it's safe to say that, in fact, we have already asked professional foresters to do a number of things in law in the past which lead us here today in a very logical sequence of events. The old Crown Timber Act, for example, did require that registered professional foresters had to sign off on forest management plans. Then, when that act was replaced by our Crown Forest Sustainability Act during the NDP government, registered professional foresters continued to be-and I think their role actually increased in this regard-important in the development of forest management plans and again, in law, there were enshrined sign-off conditions on those plans.
If you look as well at the work that was done by the class environmental assessment on timber management after six long years of work, you will recall that the board members, one of whom I know intimately, recommended that foresters be much more actively involved in the management of forests. If you look specifically at terms and conditions 2 and 3 in that particular EA, you will see that they direct professional foresters to prepare those forest management plans, so that in effect they become the plan authors. Again, they have to sign off on these things, and they become accountable.
So we have in the past asked professional foresters to do a number of things that have made them somewhat accountable, that have put their credibility as professionals on the line. That leads us today to the next logical step, which would be to enshrine in law the regulation of this body. That does a couple of things. It allows the professional association to support the government and private sector actions that pertain to sustainability. It ensures that the highest standards of practice and forest science are met. It strengthens the accountability of professional foresters as well.
Through the bill, we will for the first time impose in law, in the act and in regulations, the academic and the professional standards of foresters who manage our forests. We will as well impose in law and in regulation some of those disciplinary structures needed to ensure that professional foresters are accountable and what will happen when they do not work in the public interest. We will as well-and this is probably the most important thing-enshrine in law the need to have a licence to practise professional forestry in the province.
The key with respect to the licence is that it will send a very clear message to the public that foresters are serious about managing Ontario forests, they are serious about guaranteeing the sustainability of Ontario forests and they are willing to put their licence on the line to guarantee all of those things. If you think about it, if you don't act in a responsible manner, if you don't care about sustainability, if you sign off on forestry plans that are not sustainable, not manageable, then the risk you run is to lose your licence, and if you lose your licence, then you won't be able to work in Ontario. I think that will provide for a very effective deterrent for those who don't want to practise in a sustainable way. It will guarantee to the public that the people who are out there managing the forests on our behalf do indeed have a large role to play, are capable, are competent, are serious about their work and know full well that if they don't do a good job, then their livelihood is at risk.
I won't go through the details of the bill that impose all of the various structures. Frankly, those structures, the disciplinary measures, the continuing education standards etc are much the same as some of the other bills we have passed in this House when we have regulated other professions, for example, the health professions that we regulated when we were in government or the regulation of the geoscientists that was done by this government in the last sitting, so I won't go through those.
I will, however, make reference to an amendment that we did move, that I think was an important amendment. On June 22, our leader, Howard Hampton, attended the public hearings on behalf of the New Democratic Party. He has an interest in this matter, given he is a former Minister of Natural Resources and was responsible for the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, which changed some of the work that professional foresters did.
The change that was recommended and then accepted by the committee refers back to the scope of practice, which is subsection 3(1). The change reads as follows: "The practice of professional forestry is the provision of services in relation to the development, management, conservation and sustainability of forests and urban forests where those services require knowledge, training and experience equivalent to that required to become a member under this act," and includes a number of provisions as well. I think that was an important amendment and one that I am glad the professional foresters association accepted and the committee accepted because clearly the bill and the passage of it hinges on protecting our forests and ensuring they are sustainable.
It was one of the arguments that the association has consistently used in trying to advocate for the regulation of members of this industry, so it only makes sense that we would incorporate right into the scope of practice of professional foresters that key term "sustainability." That is what this bill is to be all about. That is what the public interest is all about in terms of what needs to be protected. Frankly, as I said earlier, that was at the core of the lobbying effort that was done by professional foresters, that they wanted to guarantee the sustainability of our forests. The way to do that most effectively was to regulate them and enshrine that in law.
I would look forward to one of the first acts of professional foresters being to perhaps comment on the government's proposal to clear-cut huge tracts of land in Ontario, which I think is the most ridiculous idea that's come out of the Ministry of Natural Resources in a long time. The level of clear-cuts that we have in the province now goes directly back to the work the Environmental Assessment Board did when they did the class timber environmental assessment. The level of the clear-cuts, the hectares of the clear-cuts go directly back to that class EA. After six years of work, after six years of hearing from all of the experts, I think the EA board knew what it was talking about when it said, "You shouldn't allow for huge clear-cuts in Ontario. They're not sustainable. They give us a black eye in international markets."
I heard the Minister of Natural Resources the other day on radio, on CBC in Sudbury, trying to say, "We're doing this because it's going to help us keep the caribou herd." He was immediately followed up by a wildlife biologist from Laurentian University, whose name I forget-I regret that-who essentially said the minister didn't know what he was talking about. There was no evidence whatsoever to show that a huge clear-cut would sustain caribou herds. In fact, he made the point that when you have a huge clear-cut, it's hard to sustain any wildlife at all, anywhere, when there is nothing for them to feed on.
I hope in terms of the work they do on sustainability and guaranteeing that, the Ontario Professional Foresters Association will make some public comments about this minister's harebrained scheme to allow huge clear-cuts in the province, a practice that every other jurisdiction that cares about forestry, particularly in Scandinavian countries, is moving away from. Why we are going down that road to cater to the big forestry companies is beyond me. I hope the minister will have some sober second thoughts about this silliness and actually go back to what we've had in place, which is in place because of six years of work done by the class environmental assessment for timber management. They canvassed all of the expertise with respect to clear-cuts and came to a decision about what the size should be, which is what we have in place now. It would be foolhardy of the minister now to move away from that merely to cater to some of the large forestry companies.
In conclusion, let me remind the government members that of course New Democrats will support the bill here this evening. We supported Bill 71 two years ago when it went through this House. My only regret is that the government didn't support it in committee, because we could have had this bill passed two years ago, and professional foresters regulated two years ago and, more importantly, the public interest much more protected two years ago if the government had seen fit to pass the bill. But here we are tonight, and we will agree to pass it on second and third reading.
I would certainly like to thank John Carey and Rick Monzon from the Ontario Professional Foresters Association, who are in the gallery today. They have worked long and hard, not only over the last two years but two years before that, to get us here. We thank you for all of your work and we look forward to meeting with you when you are professionals regulated under this act.
Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton): It gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise in the House today and speak to the Professional Foresters Act, Bill 110.
Ontario has some of the best forests in the world, we have some of the best managers in the world and we have some of the best planning in the world, and it gives me a great deal of pleasure to bring this bill in, which will reinforce those issues, although listening in the House today, you would wonder sometimes.
I want you to know that Mr Bartolucci, the member for Sudbury-I'm sorry, we're supposed to refer to him as the member from Sudbury-is celebrating his birthday this evening. We were planning on singing Happy Birthday to him until he entered into his tirade. So we've cancelled the Happy Birthday, but I can assure you that we're pleased that Mr Bartolucci is celebrating that most memorable event.
I realize we're not doing the two-minute comment-and-question periods around the House; however, the member from Nickel Belt was speaking about a bill that was before the House in the last session and seemed to suggest that the Conservative Party somehow killed that bill. She has rather a foggy memory on it. I think that's a polite way of pointing that out.
There was a piece of that bill that needed a check and a balance put in place. I was parliamentary assistant at natural resources at that time and we agreed that we would make that change. As the time came for that change to be reintroduced in committee-
Hon Chris Stockwell (Minister of Labour): What happened?
Mr Chudleigh: -the House prorogued. At the time of the House proroguing-
Mr Chudleigh: Actually, members, I don't mind handling their heckling; your heckling is a little distracting.
At the time the House prorogues, there is usually a bill or a motion that is put in place before the House that allows certain bills to be carried over. At that particular session, that bill, which was prepared and which had Bill 71 on it, didn't receive royal assent because a member of the opposition-
Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Name names.
Mr Chudleigh: -the member for Renfrew, as I recall, spoke out and killed the clock on the final day, therefore eliminating all of those sessions.
As parliamentary assistant to natural resources at that time, I thought it was a shame that a bill like that died, which is exactly why I reintroduced the bill into committee this spring, to bring it to this point.
I spoke to David Ramsay, the member from Timiskaming, about reintroducing the bill. He said his private member's issue was not coming up in time and he agreed that we should introduce it in this process through the bill. I would offer that to the member for Nickel Belt to perhaps correct her memory on this.
But again, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to stand before the House tonight and talk to this bill, because it is an important piece of legislation. I particularly want to thank John Carey and Rick Monzon from the professional foresters association for being with us this evening to share in this particular event.
As the member for Nickel Belt mentioned, forestry in the north equates to jobs. Forestry and jobs are synonymous in northern and central Ontario. In fact, it accounts for about 28,000 direct jobs and many, many more spinoffs. Forest products in this province generate about $3 billion, as far as taxes are concerned, to the various levels of government. That is indeed an important part of this province's financial viability.
Sustainability of forests is at risk because anyone in Ontario can practise forestry in Ontario. It means guidelines are not always met. Currently there is no commitment to ongoing education, no realistic penalties for malpractice nor an effective mechanism for discipline. This bill will change all that. This bill will require that practitioners of professional forestry be licensed and subject to peer review, public scrutiny and accountability, three things that are missing from the current practices.
Legislation will set in place the mechanisms for developing and enforcing professional standards. The Ontario Professional Foresters Association will become more active through stronger legislation, which will increase the degree of public scrutiny and involvement, both important parts of this act.
Foresters will be required to upgrade their knowledge and skills on a regular basis. The profession is reasonably well coordinated across Canada, so foresters should not be impeded from moving from one jurisdiction to another.
Licensing will not prevent owners of private woodlots from managing their own lands but, when seeking guidance, professional foresters will be there. It's important, when you're seeking guidance to manage your own forest, that you have confidence in the people who are delivering that advice.
Professional forestry is defined as "the provision of services in relation to the development, management, conservation and sustainability of forests and urban forests, including forest management, conservation, valuation of a forest, classification and mapping of forest areas, tree harvesting and renewal, forest transportation, protection of forest resources and maintenance of wildlife habitats."
It gives me a great deal of pleasure to be here tonight to see this bill passed into law.
Thank you very much. I think my time is complete.
Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Unlike the member for Halton who chose to refer to my colleague from Sudbury's birthday in a partisan manner, I just want to assure him that this side of the House does wish my colleague from Sudbury a very happy birthday today. I think it's his 40th birthday; that's what he tells me. But certainly we extend that. I'm sure the government members regret the comment made by the member from Halton and join all of us in wishing Mr Bartolucci a happy birthday.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mrs Leona Dombrowsky (Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington): I'm pleased to have the opportunity to stand in the House this evening and indicate that I will be able to support Bill 110, which is before us this evening. It's important, as a member of the Liberal caucus, that I share with you that certainly I have read and understand that my colleague the member from Timiskaming actually had, in the previous Legislature, introduced Bill 71, which for the most part is what we are dealing with this evening.
While the member for Halton would attempt to make the point that it was a member of the Liberal government who prolonged some debate that prevented that bill from becoming law, I think it's important for all of us this evening to understand that, first of all, the member from Renfrew, a gentleman who I know is a very principled individual-the purpose of his debate in that session was certainly not to arrest the passage of Bill 71 by his colleague at that time, but to address a very important issue before the House. I believe it had to do with the compensation this government decided it would offer on behalf of a government member who had a legal situation, which the member from Renfrew-Nipissing thought was absolutely inappropriate. So that the comments of the member from Halton might be put in some frame of reference, I think it's important to remind members this evening that it was not the intent of the member from Renfrew-Nipissing to stop passage of Bill 71, which for all intents and purposes is the bill we are discussing tonight. It was to discuss a very important and what he considered grievous breach of what was appropriately considered by this Legislative Assembly.
Also with regard to statements made by the member from Halton, who would present that this government is a real advocate for the forest industry in Ontario, I would simply like to remind the members of the government who are present this evening and remind, perhaps even inform, the people of Ontario who are watching this evening that the Tory government has cut $46 million and 320 jobs from the forest management program within the Ministry of Natural Resources. I come from a community-Tweed, Ontario-where we had a Ministry of Natural Resources office, so my community is certainly familiar with the significant and important role foresters play within the Ministry of Natural Resources management plan, and has been impacted in a most negative way, I would suggest, first of all by the closure of that office in my community, and certainly by what we've been given to understand since that time is a significant reduction of the services of foresters and forest technicians since the many Ministry of Natural Resources offices have been closed.
I think it is important that I place on the record this evening that as a member of the Liberal caucus I support Bill 110, which for all intents and purposes mirrors Bill 71, which my colleague introduced in the previous government. I would like to thank the members of the foresters profession who have contributed significantly to the background and shaping of this legislation. I think it's important that professionals who are trained and who understand effective management practices would be officially recognized to be the agents involved in the management of our forest resources. I recognize the foresters who are present this evening to understand this debate, and I offer to them that certainly the members of the Liberal caucus thank you, commend you and encourage you to continue the very fine work you do on behalf of the residents of Ontario to ensure we will have a sustainable forest resource for the generations to come.
That concludes the comments I would make on Bill 110, which is very similar to my colleague's Bill 71, and I certainly intend to support this piece of legislation this evening.
Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford): I am very pleased to join in the debate. The member for Sudbury has rejoined us, and I want to congratulate him on achieving another age milestone.
The bill, entitled An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry, is certainly an important one. Obviously the sustainability of Ontario's forests is not at risk. Professional foresters play an important part in protecting our natural heritage. The history of Ontario foresters has been long and revered in Ontario. It goes back to the Foresters Act of 1957, and there is a general sense that a licensed body of foresters would bring a better balance in the use of Ontario's forests. I guess this feeling is universal in the House, with all three parties supporting this bill, which I may say is unusual.
I just want to say, for the general public and for this government, that public confidence is increased with the establishment of an additional accountability mechanism to assure the sustainability of Ontario's forests, and it has increased public confidence in the government's management of the forest resource due to an additional level of public interest protection.
Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): I too am pleased to be here this evening to take part in the debate on second reading of Bill 110, the Professional Foresters Act. I'll be very brief.
I just want to make the point that I come from a part of rural Ontario. I represent part of Simcoe county, as does Mr Tascona. We happen to have, in Simcoe county, the largest municipally owned forestry acreage in the province. We have almost 30,000 acres. We in Simcoe county are very proud of that. The land was purchased over the last 75 or 80 years. A lot of the land in and around the Midhurst area of Simcoe county was sand fields in the early 1920s. They forested that and planted 3,000 or 4,000 acres at that time. But the county has historically purchased land throughout the county and now has about 30,000 acres. Each year they take revenue of about $1.5 million off that 30,000 acres, which they put into reserves.
I just wanted to make that point tonight, because I think it's been well managed in Simcoe county. I think it's been well managed across the province, but there's always room for improvement, and this act will make those improvements.
Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): If I could just intervene in this debate briefly to recognize the member for Timiskaming, who initially brought this matter before us some time ago, and indicate the support we in our caucus have for this legislation. I spoke to this some time ago, when Mr Ramsay brought this before the House, and we supported it then.
I would say that the issues confronting forestry in Ontario are always interesting, and tend to get more interesting-I look over there at some of my friends in the gallery. I want to point out, Mr Speaker, because I know you would be aware of this, that with the increased size of clear-cuts that are being permitted in the province, we now have additional wildlife management issues. That came to a head in Dubreuilville just this past weekend, when some of my constituents, going out in preparation for the moose hunt, went to scout out where they were going to hunt and found to their amazement that nine areas had been closed to hunting because of a need for evaluation of moose habitat with the increased size of clear-cutting in the province. The 900 folks I represent in Dubreuilville were less than impressed that they had no notice of this and that it happened with barely a week's notice before the season was to begin.
The role of professional foresters under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act and the various other acts, including management of private lands, is very important. It's good to know we will have professionals doing the assessments. The public needs the confidence this act will bring. I just want to indicate my support for this measure at this time.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Gilchrist has moved second reading of Bill 110, An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed.
Hon Mr Klees: Mr Speaker, pursuant to standing order 72(c), I now ask for unanimous consent to move third reading of Bill 110.
The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.
PROFESSIONAL FORESTERS ACT, 2000 / LOI DE 2000 SUR LES FORESTIERS PROFESSIONNELS
Mr Gilchrist moved third reading of the following bill:
Bill 110, An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry / Projet de loi 110, Loi concernant la réglementation de l'exercice de la profession de forestier.
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I'll restrict my comments to simply thanking members from all parties, not just for their comments here tonight, but for their work in committee, congratulating them all for, I think, the wisdom of supporting a standing order 124 initiative. I hope it is simply the second of a long, long stream of good ideas that come out of committee in the form of legislation.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Tony Martin): Mr Gilchrist has moved third reading of Bill 110, An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the bill do carry? Carried.
Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.
Hon Frank Klees (Minister without Portfolio): I move adjournment of the House.
The Acting Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that we adjourn? Agreed.
This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 1936.