LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L'ONTARIO
Wednesday 31 October 2001 Mercredi 31 octobre 2001
Wednesday 31 October 2001 Mercredi 31 octobre 2001
The House met at 1330.
ACCESS TO PROFESSIONS
Mr Tony Ruprecht (Davenport): Did you know that 40% of the people of the greater Toronto area are foreign-born? Did you know that over 52% of the residents of the city of Toronto were not born in Toronto? This is the largest concentration of foreign-born Canadians found anywhere in the country. In fact it's the largest concentration anywhere in the world. That, of course, means that we in Toronto are very proud of this diversity.
On October 16, I had invited some of our residents to celebrate this diversity. I would have expected that only a few would come, but instead close to 1,000 came to the Legislature. Why? Did they come to see me? No, they didn't come to see me. They came to see a government in action. They came to see a government free of fear. They came to see a government of democracy.
But above all else, they came to ensure that they are treated with fairness and respect. That would mean that fairness and respect equals equal opportunity. When we're thinking about access to trades and professions, we know the door is shut. We're asking this government today to open the doors to those who are foreign-trained so they can get a job and work in Canada.
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): There are few things in this world that are scary. All Hallows Eve is one of them. The pumpkins downstairs in the foyer are another. Bert Johnson wearing a wig and carving pumpkins in Nathan Phillips Square is truly scary.
But the scariest things at Queen's Park are the ghosts of politicians past. They stare down at us from their gilded frames. Their eyes follow us late at night. Some of them have terrible frowns, like the portrait of Thomas Kennedy outside the Premier's office. Do they know too much?
To those members unfortunate enough to have House duty tonight, surrounded by empty offices, lonely staircases and haunted corridors, I have a warning, a premonition: something strange is going to happen on this night. I can feel it.
So let me forewarn you. If you're on call tonight and find yourself alone, keep your eyes peeled for the ghosts of Queen's Park. They come to light on this devilish night. Perhaps you will see a soldier in full regimental dress or a former inmate of the insane asylum that stood on this site or the ghost of a long-dead Premier from a bygone era. Any one of them might pay you a visit. No one knows why they are here or what they want, but don't say you haven't been warned. Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I'll see you tomorrow if, of course, you survive the night.
NORTHERN MEDICAL SCHOOL
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Thunder Bay-Atikokan): People across northwestern Ontario were dismayed last week when the Premier and the Minister of Health announced an implementation team for the new northern medical school. Part of the concern is that there are three representatives from the northeast on this committee and only one from the northwest. Clearly the government is still looking at a medical school based in Sudbury rather than the two-campus model that communities across the north had called for.
Clearly too, the government has not understood why the proposal to base the school in Sudbury and provide only a two-year clinical program in Thunder Bay just can't work. It can't work because it won't bring new doctors to Thunder Bay as teachers, and without these new doctors it will be impossible to provide those two years of clinical training. Thunder Bay doctors have been pioneers in developing the northern medical clinical program and the family practice residency program, but the overworked Thunder Bay physicians simply can't take on any more clinical students. The two-year program will never get off the ground.
We do need to train more doctors in the north -- in the northeast and in the northwest. The northwest has a chronic doctor shortage. It existed long before there was a shortage across the province and will exist long after the provincial shortage problem has been solved, unless we can provide more training to doctors in our communities so they will stay and practise in our communities.
This isn't about who gets what, and it shouldn't be about partisan politics. This is about making sure that people in every part of the province have an equal chance to get health care in their home communities. In northwestern Ontario, if you can't get to see a doctor at home, you have a long way to go to get care.
This is an urgent, desperate situation. Anyone who truly understands it will also understand why the new medical school with equal campuses in Thunder Bay and Sudbury is an essential part of the solution.
Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre): Wow, fantastic, wonderful, spectacular: these were all the wonderful words and more that described the Business Excellence Awards gala hosted by the Scarborough Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, October 25. The evening was a huge success full of entertainment, special features, awards and a lot of glitter. The black-tie event had a huge turnout with everyone leaving with a smile and praise for a night well planned.
Several people were honoured throughout the night. Highlighting their efforts and contribution to the event, the Mirror and the Guardian newspapers and Toronto Business Times received a plaque for their long-standing support for the Business Excellence Awards. Centennial College was recognized for their involvement in producing many of the videos, and of course the winners and nominees. Winners included Cyril Woods, a truly inspirational winner; Golden Valley's Food Outlet Inc; BK Sethi Marketing Ltd; USE Hickson Products Ltd; and Delta Toronto East.
Back in the early 1990s, people told Mike Harris what to focus on: tax cuts and smaller government. We listened to them -- the wealth creators, the entrepreneurs, the risk takers -- and what did they say? "Cut taxes and eliminate job-killing red tape."
Congratulations to the Scarborough Chamber of Commerce for such a wonderful event.
Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex): The Harris government has starved funding, in my community and across Ontario, for vital services to Ontario's most vulnerable citizens: the sick, elderly, disabled, developmentally challenged, and the vulnerable children in our foster homes. For months we have pleaded with the government to increase funding for home care, children's aid societies and residential services such as those available at the Southwestern Regional Centre.
This government must adequately fund community care access centres. Their role in maintaining health and preventing illness makes home care services an essential part of a cost-effective health system. This government's cuts are putting our most vulnerable citizens at risk.
Last Friday I went on a guided tour with members of the Chatham and District Association for Community Living. In a wheelchair, I experienced first hand some of the challenges faced by 1.5 million disabled Ontario residents, things we take for granted but which limit the disabled from full access to their community. Ontario must have a strong Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the funding necessary to eliminate the barriers faced by our disabled community.
I also attended a rally Friday demanding increased funding for children's aid societies. They protect Ontario's vulnerable children. CAS workers are stretched to the limit. This government must do the right thing and provide the funding needed to protect Ontario's most vulnerable citizens.
Mr Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay): The black bear story continues in northern Ontario. Ever since the provincial government decided to download that service on to municipalities, municipalities across the north -- as other members for northern Ontario know -- have been inundated by nuisance bears coming into municipalities, much to their chagrin, and with the safety issue it poses to the residents and communities across northern Ontario.
We learned last night by way of a report on MCTV prepared in Timmins that there is a duplicitous policy on the part of the provincial government in how it treats municipalities when it comes to funding the removal of nuisance bears in municipalities across the north. I know that in the city of Timmins, our council paid some $80,000 in order to remove bears from the municipality, something that used to be paid by the MNR. I now find out through MCTV that there is a duplicitous policy, because in the city of Sudbury the MNR has engaged in a partnership with a post-secondary school whereby the students remove the bears, with no cost to the municipality.
I say good for the city of Sudbury; I don't believe the city of Sudbury should have to pay. But I ask the Minister of Natural Resources to look into this issue and, if it is so, to redress it so that municipalities across the north are treated equally and we don't have a duplicitous policy by a duplicitous minister who says the municipality of Sudbury gets treated differently than everybody else across the province. What's good for Sudbury is good for everybody else. We think that's good for Sudbury, so do it for us as well.
Mr Bert Johnson (Perth-Middlesex): Since September 11, our society has been reminded of the number of real-life heroes who live among us and how rarely we take time to thank them. I rise today to honour and thank a local hero from Stratford in my riding of Perth-Middlesex.
May Dodds has given more than 60 years of service to the Canadian Red Cross society and, in recognition of that, has been given the highest award in that organization, the Order of the Red Cross. May, now 84 years of age, has been involved with the local Red Cross since 1938. Over those many years, May has worked on fundraising, public education initiatives and administration. While none of those activities are dramatic enough to grab international headlines, those heroes we see delivering food to Afghan refugees and consoling families of victims of terrorist acts in the United States wouldn't be there without the behind-the-scenes support of people like May.
May spent 28 years, from 1960 to 1988, as a volunteer administrator of the Stratford-Perth branch of the Red Cross. Later, May was instrumental in the effort to build a new branch office, constructed in 1994. Many people in my riding, around Canada, and undoubtedly around the world owe thanks to May and others like her. I want to offer my appreciation, as well as that of all members of this House, to May on the occasion of her award.
PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP
Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): Today is Halloween, but the Tory leadership candidates appeared to be trying out their costumes last weekend in London.
Was that Elizabeth Witmer we saw dressed as the wolf in sheep's clothing? It certainly suits her, trying to be a moderate after what she's done to health and labour.
Was that Janet Ecker dressed as a chameleon, trying to be a red Tory again, switching her colours back and forth? That's not going to fly in light of her position on charter schools.
Was that Tony Clement dressed as the Grim Reaper, the one who wants to kill public health care in this country?
And was that Ernie Eves dressed as the Invisible Man, with Bob Runciman desperately trying to bring him out into the light? Bob, we've got news for you: even Ernie can't save your party now.
That Dracula costume Jim Flaherty had on was really something. He sank his teeth into squeegee kids, he sank his fangs into private school tax credits, but how far can he get with the Minister of Education trying to put the stake through his heart? We ask you that.
Chris Hodgson, that Frankenstein costume was great but, Minister, it's going to take a lot more than a couple of bolts of lightning to reanimate your campaign after what the Premier did to you last winter.
And of course the Minister of Labour dressed as the court jester: a quick wit, a good sense of humour, but after what he's done to the king in the past, the comments about anybody being able to become Premier, how much life does he have?
The sad thing is, when you take away the masks, they all look like Mike Harris, and that's really scary.
ST JOSEPH'S FRENCH
Mr John O'Toole (Durham): That's going to be hard to follow.
I rise today to draw to the attention of the House a visit I received from two distinguished guests from Bowmanville. My guests stopped at my office here at Queen's Park during the last week of September and went on to meet with the Premier.
I should add that Curly and Chestnut are two teddy bears that will travel the world as part of an innovative project that a grade 5 class in Bowmanville launched last year. Donna Paquette's class at St Joseph's French Immersion Centre is sending two teddy bears around the world via mail. This is a project that will help them study languages, geography, math and cultures.
The bears have an itinerary that includes British Columbia, Hawaii, Texas, Switzerland and Mexico. The idea is that the students will track the bears' progress and receive information and mementos of the trip. Each bear also carries a passport that will be signed and stamped by the people they meet.
Before embarking on their journey, Curly and Chestnut spent some time with local politicians, including His Worship the mayor of Clarington, John Mutton, before visiting with me and Premier Harris. In fact, the bears were so impressed with their visit to Queen's Park that they are considering running for office at some time in the future, but certainly not in Durham riding.
In all seriousness, I would like to commend principal Liz Ferguson and the grade 5 students at St Joseph's French Immersion Centre for travelling with the teddy bears. This is a very creative learning opportunity for Mrs Paquette's class. Best of all, it looks like a lot of fun for the students. On behalf of Ontario, I want each of the students to know that we wish Curly and Chestnut bon voyage.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS
Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on regulations and private bills and move its adoption.
Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:
Bill Pr10, An Act to revive 237661 Builders Limited.
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill Pr23, An Act to revive 1205458 Ontario Ltd.
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Shall the report be received and adopted?
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it. The report is therefore adopted.
Mr Mario Sergio (York West): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I would like to introduce to the House a number of students from my wonderful region of Calabria who are on an exchange visit here and I would like to acknowledge them in the members' gallery.
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): We welcome our honoured guests.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CELEBRATION OF PORTUGUESE
HERITAGE ACT, 2001 /
LOI DE 2001 SUR LA FÊTE
DU PATRIMOINE PORTUGAIS
Mr DeFaria moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 120, An Act to proclaim a day and a month to celebrate Portuguese heritage in Ontario / Projet de loi 120, Loi proclamant un jour et un mois de fête du patrimoine portugais en Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
The member for a short statement.
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): The month of June, and in particular June 10, has been celebrated as Portugal Day in Ontario and Canada. The Portuguese community is a vibrant community in Ontario and continues to make contributions, with its rich history, language, culture and work ethic, to our fabric.
The month of June has always been a great time of celebration in the Portuguese community. I hope all members of the House will support this bill, the Celebration of Portuguese Heritage Act.
Hon David Turnbull (Solicitor General): I'd like to recognize the presence in the gallery of Chief Glenn Stannard, the president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police; along with Chief Tom Kaye of Owen Sound; Bill Malpass, executive director of OACP; and Adrian Gordon of the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness. Welcome.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon David Turnbull (Solicitor General): Premier Harris rose in the House yesterday and outlined some of the government's counterterrorism and emergency management initiatives. Today, I'm pleased to announce further steps the province is taking to ensure that Ontario is better protected from terrorism. In total, these initiatives to ensure the safety and security of Ontario will amount to more than $20 million.
I want to remind the Legislature of the commitments made by the Premier. The Ontario Provincial Police will receive $4.5 million annually to establish a special provincial emergency response team. This unit will be composed of 32 highly trained and specially equipped OPP officers. As well, a new anti-terrorism unit with 24 officers will work in partnership with municipal police services and federal law enforcement agencies. This unit will receive $3.5 million a year and conduct multi-jurisdictional intelligence operations that target individuals and organized groups involved in terrorism.
We are also providing $1 million to make sure our front-line emergency workers have the necessary equipment to respond to chemical, biological and other kinds of attack.
Finally, the Premier announced that the Ministry of the Solicitor General will host a counterterrorism summit to discuss the best ways to combat terrorism.
Now I'd like to outline the further measures our government is taking to ensure Ontario remains one of the safest places in the world.
Our security advisers tell us that 90% of counterterrorism is intelligence. Working closely with law enforcement agencies across the country and around the world, it is critical to identify potential security threats. Today I am announcing that the province is investing $2.5 million in the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, CISO. This agency has been a key part of the province's efforts to target organized crime. With this additional funding, we're enhancing its capacity to conduct counterterrorism intelligence and enforcement activities. Under this expanded mandate, CISO will work closely with other law enforcement agencies and with the anti-terrorist unit announced by the Premier yesterday.
In recent weeks, our government has said it will take steps to help federal law enforcement officials track down individuals who are illegally in the province. Today we are fulfilling that commitment. We will invest $1 million annually to expand the mandate of the repeat offender parole enforcement, or ROPE, squad. The squad will now include a fugitive apprehension team. This new eight-member team will provide targeted enforcement acting on Immigration Act warrants.
In the wake of the September 11 attack, there have been a number of unacceptable incidents where threats and acts of violence have been directed at Ontario's Muslim population. Let me make this perfectly clear: the Ontario government and the police who patrol our streets will not tolerate these acts. Criminal behaviour such as this will be investigated thoroughly and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. To enhance our capacity to target hate crimes, we will provide additional officers and an additional $400,000 to the OPP's hate crimes squad.
We will continue to enhance our emergency management system to ensure Ontario is prepared to handle a potential terrorist attack. To achieve this, our government will invest more than $7 million annually to ensure Ontario is prepared for emergencies and to assist municipalities with emergency planning and training. This increased funding will assist ongoing efforts to coordinate our existing emergency management measures.
Our government will double Emergency Measures Ontario's budget, with a $3-million increase in annual funding. An important element of our plan will be 28 new staff who will work on Ontario's preparedness, supporting municipalities with emergency planning and training.
My ministry is currently drafting legislation which, if passed by the Legislature, would require Ontario municipalities to have emergency programs in place, including plans and training exercises, as well as public education initiatives. This investment will also enable Emergency Measures Ontario to purchase a new mobile provincial operations centre. A mobile unit will not only provide a backup system to the provincial operations centre, but also could be deployed during a localized emergency.
We will also assist municipalities by providing enhanced specialized training for front-line emergency workers. These emergency workers are the people who put their lives on the line every time they respond to a call. By investing in specialized training, we will help ensure that first responders can manage large-scale, complex emergencies, threats and hazards. To accomplish this, the province will invest $1 million a year on heavy, urban search-and-rescue training, training on how to respond to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear emergencies, and training on how to deal with hazardous materials.
Today we are also committing $600,000 to enhance Ontario's capability to test explosives, to test toxic or chemical agents, and to conduct larger-scale testing of DNA. We will do this by developing more specialized forensic capacity at the province's internationally recognized Centre of Forensic Sciences.
We all know the important role volunteers play in communities across Ontario. When tragedies strike and our communities face adversity, we frequently turn to our neighbours for assistance, but this is still a relatively untapped resource when it comes to emergency preparedness in Ontario. That's why we will invest $1 million to assist municipalities that choose to participate in a community emergency volunteer program. Similar initiatives are currently running in other jurisdictions. For example, in British Columbia, about 13,000 volunteers offer their time and expertise. Under this program, Ontarians will be invited to volunteer to assist in preparing for and responding to emergency situations. The province will be there to help train volunteers. We will provide them with the skills to assist their neighbours in times of need.
We've all been told of the life-saving value of building evacuation plans when it comes to safety. The need for these plans was driven home by the attack on the World Trade Center. Today I'm announcing $600,000 to assist the Ontario fire marshal's office as it works with the owners and operators of large buildings and public places. In partnership with the private sector, we will be preparing best-practices guidelines for emergency evacuation procedures of these facilities.
In closing, let me say that we must be vigilant, but we must continue to live our lives and to do our work. Terrorists seek to destroy, and they also seek to spread fear. We cannot and we will not allow this to happen. Today's announcements, combined with the initiatives the Premier announced yesterday, will improve the province's counterterrorism capability and emergency preparedness. They will ensure that Ontario is better protected from those who seek to harm us and our families. With the ongoing advice of our security advisers, former RCMP Commissioner Norman Inkster and retired Major Major General Lewis MacKenzie, we will continue to seek out ways to further strengthen Ontario's security and we will continue to work with other levels of government and other jurisdictions to protect our citizens.
Hon Robert W. Runciman (Minister of Economic Development and Trade): Yesterday, the Premier and Ministers Young and Hudak provided a report back to the Legislature on action this government has taken since the tragic events of September 11. Today, I will continue that report back on steps we are taking to safeguard our province's economy in light of increasing US concerns about the safety of the US-Canada border.
I believe there is an increased understanding of the importance of our trading relationship with the United States and a growing awareness of the threat posed to our economy if our American friends do not have confidence in Canada's ability to protect our border from undesirables.
Once more, for the record, I will outline the significance of our trading relationship with the United States, the largest such relationship in the world: 93% of our exports; 1.5 million jobs; $210 billion in US export business, representing 48% of Ontario's economy. Access to this market is critical to the future economic success of our great province.
Improved traffic flow across international border crossings was an issue recognized and addressed by the Harris government well before September 11. The New York-Ontario summit held in June of this year considered this issue at length, and the report from that gathering will be released in November.
September 11, however, cast US-Canada border crossings in a different light. We were no longer focusing solely on issues like infrastructure and pre-clearance. Instead, those issues, those concerns, those priorities fell to the sidelines. The American people and their governments shifted their focus, understandably, to security: the security of their people, their institutions, their way of life and their borders.
Our leader, Mike Harris, recognized immediately the new reality that flowed from the horrific events of September 11, and along with US Ambassador Paul Cellucci called for a North American security perimeter in order to protect Canadian access to the US market. Our Premier, Mike Harris, and Ambassador Cellucci have since been joined by Premiers across Canada, business leaders and everyday Canadians in the call for this critical security measure. Regrettably, to date, our federal government has been reticent in embracing this proposal.
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. Would the minister take his seat. Sorry, Minister.
Hon Mr Runciman: Once again, regrettably, to date, our federal government has been reticent in embracing this proposal, and the public explanation for that reticence is the supposed or perceived loss of sovereignty that such an initiative would bring.
This is not a concern our government shares. The reality is that sovereignty without security is meaningless.
Our government is not prepared to adopt a wait-and-see approach, a head-in-the-sand hope that with time all will be well. We are moving, and moving on a range of fronts.
On October 16, Premier Harris and I met with New York Governor George Pataki and his officials to discuss transborder issues, and we agreed to adopt a joint report which we will share with our respective federal governments.
We have requested a meeting with Great Lakes governors to discuss ways of dealing with our respective and shared economic concerns. We've kept in regular touch with key Ontario stakeholders to monitor significant economic and security issues. We have listened to and addressed stakeholder issues, concerns and suggestions. I have written federal ministers Manley, Tobin and Pettigrew, underscoring in the strongest possible terms the need for action.
The Speaker: It's too noisy. Member, come to order. The member for Windsor-St Clair, please come to order.
I've said this on a couple of occasions. The opposition wonders why the statements aren't made in the House. I've asked and made inquiries of the government and they say, "When we do, all that happens is the opposition yells at us." It's little wonder that statements don't happen in this House when all you do is shout and yell. You'll have an opportunity for a five-minute reply in which the media can have your leader making a reply, or you can stand and shout. Quite frankly, that's why a lot of the statements don't get made in this House, because the opposition just stand and yell constantly at the other side. I've said this before. There is going to be some heckling, but when you yell constantly it's little wonder the government doesn't make statements in this House.
Hon Mr Runciman: Thank you, Mr Speaker. This Friday, November 2, Premier Harris and I will host an industry leaders round table. Invited participants include CEOs of leading Ontario industries, businesses dependent on cross-border commerce. Our purpose is to discuss how best to approach the wide range of economic cross-border trade and security issues that must be addressed.
This forum will help us develop an action plan to guide future decision-making, decisions that will ensure Ontario's cross-border trade and commerce remain vital and competitive.
Business leaders will also discuss how they are dealing with unprecedented impacts on their organizations. We will look to them to help us determine how business and government can work together to develop a concrete set of actions, and those suggestions will be captured in a round table report.
I used the term "action plan" because that's just what the product of the round table will be. We cannot afford to be inactive. We cannot afford to be complacent. We cannot put in jeopardy our access to American markets and the jobs and investment decisions that are clearly linked to that access.
I want to assure members of the assembly and the people of Ontario that our government has been, and will continue to be, in the forefront of activities that will ensure that trade between Canada and the United States, and Ontario's economy, do not become victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Mr Dave Levac (Brant): I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the Solicitor General on behalf of my caucus and my leader, Dalton McGuinty. I want to make it very clear from the outset that we welcome the announcement about funding for emergency measures and emergency responses. We absolutely do. We think it's an appropriate thing to do. But it's unfortunate that it's 48 days after September 11 and you've finally decided to take actions you could have taken before.
To the Solicitor General, I want to say that perhaps this was an indication the minister has finally reread the report that's been on his desk since June, from his already-hired six security experts. It's amazing to think that he's had a report on his desk since June that deals specifically with emergency response. Or perhaps this is an acknowledgement that the minister has finally read the 1998 report from Queen's University, which stated the following: "EMO was not prepared to handle such a large-scale emergency," particularly in cases where people lose their lives.
So after four years and two reports, we're now finally getting action from this minister. Funding for the special unit dealing with terrorism is a good step. I wait to see if this actually means new police officers or a shuffling of other officers already on the beat.
Dalton McGuinty's plan, the Ontario security plan, would put $100 million into the coffers now. You're taking a lot of credit for $20 million in spending. That's $20 million in spending for our security versus $100 million for our security. I think the leader's plan puts that one to shame. Why? Because it deals with $50 million worth of funding from the provincial level, which is already over your $20 million, but more importantly it puts $50 million in municipal people's hands to decide how they want to secure their communities.
Just yesterday, from a press release, we find out there are municipalities across the province that are having difficulty keeping the proper number of firefighters in service since September 11. You know as well as I do that it was firefighters who were the first on the scene, and the largest number of people to lose their lives in the profession were firefighters. Guess what? The word "firefighter" was never mentioned once in this report. Shame on the government for not addressing the specifics about what you're going to do for our firefighters across Ontario.
I want to say to you, Minister: it's time to put up or shut up.
Mr Monte Kwinter (York Centre): I want to respond to the minister's statement. In it he says the whole report back is "to safeguard our province's economy," and then goes on to talk about anything but the economy. When we take a look at what is happening and you talk about the concerns of safety, surely your role is to co-operate with the federal officials in Canada and the federal officials in the United States. It is not your role to usurp their responsibility. The free flow of goods and services with our major customer is what you should be concerned with.
You say this is "critical to the future economic success of our great province." What I suggest is that continued economic success is important, not just the future. You've got to look after what's happening today.
You had a conference with the New York-Ontario summit. It was held in June of this year to look into these exact same issues. The report is coming out in November, six months after it was initiated. Not only that, but by the time you start responding to that report --
Hon Robert W. Runciman (Minister of Economic Development and Trade): Look at what happened in New York City. That's totally unfair.
Mr Kwinter: You said it. You said it in your report.
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. The member take his seat. Stop the clock. You'll have some time.
The Speaker: Order. Minister, come to order, please.
The Speaker: Last time. Order. This is the last warning. We'll start throwing people out, starting right now.
Sorry for the interruption. You have 32 seconds left.
Mr Kwinter: He says infrastructure and pre-clearance have fallen by the wayside. I don't believe that should fall to the sidelines or by the wayside. This is something we have to be concerned with. Auto plants are shutting down production because they can't get parts. There's trouble at the border. We have a road, the Huron Church Road, going into Detroit from Windsor. You had lots of time to do that.
The last thing I want to talk about is the sovereignty issue. These are not mutually exclusive issues. You can protect our sovereignty and protect our security. One is not dependent on the other, and you can't give up one for the other.
Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): I find the comments today of the minister responsible for trade to be really quite incredible. What it amounts to is this: he is essentially saying that we should adopt American standards. He's essentially saying we should turn over the independence of decision-making and the independence of standards to the United States. I say to the minister, think carefully about what you're saying.
The United States does not have, in any of these matters, exactly a leading-edge strategy. Their strategy along the Mexican border for 20 years has been incredibly expensive in terms of resources and money and has been a dismal failure. The United States, in terms of its border with Canada, has for many years had much looser enforcement than Canada Customs has. I know it. I live on the border; you live on the border. I know about people trying to access Canada carrying a rifle or a shotgun. And customs officers cannot for the life of them figure out how this person, who's in fact a fleeing felon, was ever able to carry a firearm. But that goes on routinely in the United States.
I ask the minister to think this through carefully. The reality in the United States is that this agenda -- for us to adopt their customs rules, their immigration rules, their forestry practices, their system of privatized health care -- existed before September 11. It is a long-standing position of the United States on trade policy. Don't use the horrific events of September 11 as an excuse to start folding on all of those issues, because I can tell you that at the end of the day -- and this too is part of American policy -- after we've adopted their processes for immigration, their processes for customs and many other processes, they will still reserve the right to say no, just as they've done with softwood lumber -- and you know it. We have been before softwood lumber panels for 20 years, and every time we've proven that the American position is wrong, yet they still come back and harass us outside of the rules of the NAFTA agreement, outside of the rules of the free trade agreement.
Don't give in to an agenda which was there before September 11. It is not an agenda that is good for the people of Ontario, and it is not an agenda that will stand up to any test of analysis. Stand up for Ontario. Don't adopt a 51st state agenda.
Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): I respond to the statement made by the Solicitor General. Look, everyone understands the need this government has, political and otherwise, to respond to the crisis, the tragedy of September 11, but I want the Solicitor General and his government to understand that the crisis in our front-line emergency services didn't begin on September 11.
The fact is, there are fewer cops per capita today than there were in 1995. Reality is that firefighting services across this province, municipality after municipality, find themselves understaffed and underresourced. Reality is that paramedics, those brave women and men on the front lines along with police officers, along with firefighters, find themselves condemned and, quite frankly, abused by this government that treats them with disdain.
I say to you, Solicitor General, that the crisis is one of chronic downloading on to municipalities across this province and a denial of the real resources that those municipalities need to maintain adequate staffing levels when it comes to policing for, yes, those day-to-day policing responsibilities, because at the end of the day it's those police forces that are going to be called upon. There may well be a crack team of OPP officers, but a crisis by its very nature is going to be something that is imminent and critical and cannot accommodate the travel of your crack OPP team to whatever municipality finds itself confronting that crisis.
I ask this Solicitor General to reflect on the abandonment by this government of native policing services across northern Ontario. I've visited communities like Fort Albany, Peawanuk and Attawapiskat with the member from Timmins-James Bay, Gilles Bisson. I saw those native policing services abandoned by this government, oftentimes one-person police services, boats without motors, snowmobiles without tracks. There is a crisis. That crisis pre-existed September 11 with native policing services and indeed it dates back to 1995.
This government should be addressing the chronic crisis in underfunding and underresourcing of front-line emergency services across this province.
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Just before we begin with question period, I want to draw to the members' attention the presence of a special guest seated at the table. Please join me in welcoming Don Forestell, the Clerk Assistant of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly, who is here for two weeks on an attachment in the Clerk's office.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS LEGISLATION
Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My first question of the day is for the Solicitor General, who I understand was here just a moment ago.
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Stop the clock, please. Maybe we can just start it all over. He's visiting with some of the guests.
The leader of the official opposition.
Mr McGuinty: Minister, it has been some 49 days since September 11, and I think we could describe your government's response as, at best, lethargic and uninspired.
Mr McGuinty: I understand that there is some sensitivity on this aspect.
The Speaker: The member from London-Fanshawe, come to order. This is his last warning, last warning for the member from London-Fanshawe. We're not going to start off like that with the first question.
Leader of the official opposition. Sorry for the interruption.
Mr McGuinty: I can understand why there is some sensitivity on the part of government members, because if you look at the record, what have we had? We've had a full-page newspaper ad, corporate tax cuts, some very skimpy support offered to our police, and the usual expressions of concern and condemnation of all things related to terrorism.
I can tell you, Minister, that I have had the opportunity to visit ground zero and I have personally witnessed the destruction. I have talked to New Yorkers and I have talked to many people who are expert in the matters of emergency preparedness. One of the things they keep driving home is that one of the most important things we have to do is have in place, in all of our cities and towns, an emergency preparedness plan. Why is it that 49 days after September 11, you have yet to introduce in this House a bill that will require all of our cities and towns to have in place an emergency preparedness plan?
Hon David Turnbull (Solicitor General): In a general sense, I have to say that I am very sad that the Liberals in this province try to make a political football out of something as serious as this. Our government has worked co-operatively with the federal government and with municipalities --
The Speaker: Order. Solicitor General, take your seat.
The member for Ottawa, this is his last warning as well. We'll start taking names.
The Speaker: Order. Don't be smart-alecky like that or I'll throw you out right now. Is that what you want? Because you're not going to yell at me like that. You can yell at the other side, but you're not going to yell at me. You want out? I'll send you out right now, if that's what you want. It doesn't matter to me.
Sorry, Solicitor General.
Hon Mr Turnbull: We have worked very carefully with both the federal and municipal levels of government in developing plans. We appointed two advisers who have great expertise, Major General Lew MacKenzie and Norman Inkster. As we've worked through our plans, in co-operation with the commissioner of the OPP and in conference with emergency preparedness people from all across the province, there has been one common strain: what are the important things we must do to make sure that Ontario remains one of the safest places in the world?
With the announcements that both the Premier and I have made to date, we are making major steps forward. But we are not trying to make it into a political football.
Mr McGuinty: I say again, Minister: lethargic and uninspired. One of the most important things I have learned that you must do is make every effort to coordinate activities and efforts when it comes to emergency preparedness. You have to keep people informed. You have to be working together.
That's why we were all so very surprised by Toronto police chief Julian Fantino's comments when he said, "I don't know what's planned for the city of Toronto. It would be nice for us to hear. As for being police chief of the largest city force in Canada, I'm certainly not in the loop."
Minister, our American neighbours are on red alert, and our own advisers have said that we have to get ready for an emergency. How is it that 49 days later, the chief of police for the largest city in the country, arguably the city which would be the most susceptible to an attack by terrorists, is telling us he's not in the loop?
Hon Mr Turnbull: Since we became the government of Ontario, we have made safety and protection of our citizens the top priority. The amendments to the Emergency Plans Act that I have announced are important. We will make sure that municipalities have emergency plans and that indeed training and public initiatives are undertaken. In the announcements I have made today --
Mr Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence): What about Chief Fantino?
The Speaker: Minister, take a seat. Member for Eglinton-Lawrence, this is your last warning too.
Mr Colle: I want to know why he didn't consult Chief Fantino, the chief of the city of Toronto, why he won't answer that question.
The Speaker: Now you're out. I name Michael Colle and ask you to leave the chamber, please.
Mr Colle was escorted from the chamber.
The Speaker: Sorry again for the interruption. Solicitor General.
Hon Mr Turnbull: I would say that Chief Fantino, along with the chiefs of Ontario, has been broadly consulted, as have all people involved in emergency services. You would have to ask Chief Fantino the answer to that, but I can tell you that I have personally met with him and ministry officials have met with him on an ongoing basis.
Additionally, we are announcing today significant amounts of money, which will help the city of Toronto specifically with some of their concerns.
Mr McGuinty: I hope you begin at some point along the way to understand that safety and security have to be more than just a slogan. I want to offer my assistance to you, Minister, when it comes to expediting the passage of an emergency preparedness law here in Ontario, but I also want to tell you --
Mr McGuinty: Thank you, Mini-Mike, for your comments.
Minister, I also want to tell you that we're going to have to help our cities and towns get ready for a potential emergency, and that's going to cost money in terms of preparing the plan, training the staff and practising the plan. Once you have a plan in place, you also begin to understand that there are other places where you may be coming up short in terms of beefing up your security. That's why we put forward our Ontario security fund, to help our municipalities prepare in case of an emergency. The question I have for you, Minister, is, why won't you support our Ontario security fund and emergency preparedness in Ontario?
Hon Mr Turnbull: Let me tell you, my first suggestion to you, sir, would be to get a new gag writer, because it ain't too funny to most of the people of Ontario. This is a serious matter.
I can tell you that in speaking with the officials, as I have done, they approve of what we're moving forward with. When I spoke to Chief Speed today, he was very supportive of the actions we are taking that will help the Toronto fire services. So I think you'd better get some better research than one of the local newspapers.
Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Education. Minister, the policy manifesto adopted by the Ontario PC Campus Association outlines the following plan for education: "Phase 1 is to introduce charter schools into Ontario. The second phase is to implement vouchers in Ontario's public education system." They go on to say under this very radical education plan, "Any school, public, charter or private, will receive the same amount of money."
We are very interested in your opinions on this, because in addition to your responsibilities as Minister of Education, you are now vying for the leadership of the government. So can you tell us, Madam Minister, where do you stand on these fundamental issues related to education?
Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Education, Government House Leader): I appreciate the honourable member trying to make an announcement for me, but I don't need help in that regard, thank you very much.
First of all, the policies of this government are very, very clear. We respect parental choice. We make new investments into the public education system. We've supported, through a tax credit, parental choice and independent schools. We're setting standards for higher, improved student learning and are putting in supports to make sure that we can get that improved student learning. Those are the commitments of this government. Those are the plans that we're working on. Those are the plans that the public of Ontario has voted for in 1995 and again in 1999 and will do so again.
Mr McGuinty: I'll tell you why it's so very interesting to us. Of course, it's interesting to those whose support you are trying to gain in your bid for the leadership. We are very concerned about whether or not you support vouchers, whether or not you support charter schools and whether or not you support private school funding.
Now, you can become positively schizophrenic about this, Madam Minister, and give one message to the PC youth associations and another message to Ontarians at large. But I think your first responsibility is to Ontarians at large, so I'll give you the opportunity once more to renounce once and for all anything to do with charter schools and vouchers and private school funding. Will you now do that?
Hon Mrs Ecker: First of all, perhaps in the Liberal Party having a wing of young people who wish to express their views is not tolerated, but in this party we have young people who have views. You know what, Mr Speaker? We allow them to express those views, whether we agree with them or not. So I encourage the young Tories. I would encourage the young Liberals to join the young Tories, because obviously they don't have any room to have a view or a debate or a discussion about important issues like education in the Liberal Party.
The record of this government, the record of this minister and the commitments we've made to the people of Ontario for our education plan to improve student learning speak for themselves.
Mr McGuinty: I fully support the right of the PC youth associations to put forward their positions, but I think you also have a responsibility to put forward your position. That's what we're interested in hearing. I know where they stand; what I want to know today is where you stand.
I'll come back to the same issues again. When it comes to charter schools, Madam Minister, where do you stand? When it comes to vouchers, where do you stand? When it comes to funding for private schools, where do you stand? I know where the Ontario PC Youth Association stands. What I want to know here and now today is, where do you stand?
Hon Mrs Ecker: To the honourable member, his party went out with great fanfare and talked about parental choice. They said they supported parental choice. We have yet to hear how the Liberal Party would defend or define or put in place parental choice for the parents of Ontario.
On this side of the House, the record of this government, the commitments I have made as Minister of Education are to higher standards in our public education system, to helping our students meet those standards, to a more improved curriculum, to improved investments in our public education system, to parental choice within the public education system. You know what, Mr Speaker? We also on this side of the House respect parental choice when they go to independent schools, and the tax credit is doing that as well.
With the commitment on this side of the House, we don't need to explain ourselves to the Liberal Party, because we've been out --
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. The minister's time is up.
Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): I have a question for the Minister of Finance. Minister, if Ontario's economy today were a movie, it would be Nightmare on Main Street. Bay Street will do fine; you've had lots of treats for them. But for ordinary people across this province, every new day brings more job cuts and more small businesses in trouble.
CIBC is now laying off 2,000 people. Sam the Record Man is calling it quits. Algoma Steel, your government admits -- 70,000 jobs are involved -- hangs by a thread. You've had lots of treats for your corporate friends on Bay Street. What is your government's answer to all of those people across Ontario who are worried about losing their job or who have already lost their job?
Hon Jim Flaherty (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The decisions that have been taken in the course of the past six years have been of vital importance in re-creating in Ontario a solid foundation, a diversified economy, an economy with strength and an economy with breadth. That's the best protection we can have in Ontario during a time of economic slowdown, that is, inherent strength in our economy because of the difficult decisions that were made in the past six years. We've continued those decisions. The tax reductions that were planned for January 1, 2002, have been accelerated. The capital tax, the personal income tax, the corporate income tax: all of that is moving again toward long-term sustainable growth in Ontario, which is always our best protection in a time of economic slowdown.
Mr Hampton: Since you've become Minister of Finance, all we've heard is more rhetoric about how corporations need more tax cuts and the well-off need more tax cuts. But in your time as Minister of Finance, 26,000 jobs in this province have gone down the drain. Clearly, your old trick isn't working. Clearly, every day more companies are laying off and more companies are saying they intend to lay off.
Municipalities are asking you to put some of the SuperBuild money out the door so that they can take care of needed infrastructure projects. Communities out there, where workers have been laid off, need some help.
Don't give them more rhetoric about how you're going to be kind to corporations or how the well-off are going to get another personal income tax cut. What are you doing for the people in this province who are really hurting?
Hon Mr Flaherty: We have removed thousands and thousands of relatively low income earners totally from the tax rolls in Ontario. That's important. That means significant savings for individuals.
The job creation in the course of the past six years has been unprecedented in Ontario, all of this because of good, sound fiscal policy in the province.
I can tell you that view of fiscal restraint and prudent management is shared by the other finance ministers in Canada with whom I met on Sunday. Certainly the principle of tax cuts is accepted broadly in Canada, including by the federal Liberal government. Certainly there is a view that is shared broadly in Canada among those of us responsible for finance that now is not the time for imprudent spending, now is not the time for deficits; now is the time for continued sound financial management in Canada.
Mr Hampton: What has become obvious is that as Ontario's economy has gotten into trouble, rigor mortis has set in for your government.
Minister, communities out there need the SuperBuild money so that they can get busy taking care of the infrastructure projects which will create jobs in their communities. People who work pay taxes, and they go to the shopping mall and contribute to the economy.
Other communities out there need some signal from your government that there's going to be a solidarity fund or some kind of economic strategy to help industries that are in trouble, to help them reposition themselves. Algoma Steel and A.G. Simpson are good examples.
Consumers out there -- it is so bizarre. Your government defends tax cuts for corporations, you defend tax cuts for the well-off, but in terms of the average consumer out there, you absolutely refuse to institute a reduction in the sales tax, something that would be of benefit to 11 million people across this province, and get them back participating in the economy.
Don't give us more tired rhetoric. When are you going to respond to the municipalities? When are you going to respond to consumers with a sales tax reduction? How are you going to respond to those laid-off workers who won't get a cent of benefit from corporate tax cuts?
Hon Mr Flaherty: With respect to reductions in provincial sales tax, or for that matter federally, reductions in the GST, I think the general consensus is that those types of programs result in what they call in the auto industry, for example, "pulling-ahead sales." So, yes, there's a temporary acceleration of sales, but all you're doing is bringing forward sales that would happen in January and February, which then don't happen in January and February. So it's a very temporary kind of initiative with no long-term benefit for the economy.
I say to the member opposite that we need to be calm, that we need to look forward. We need to look at the medium and the long term, what's good for the people of the province of Ontario not just next week but next year and over the course of the next five to 10 years.
If he wants to be helpful in the short term with respect to a very important issue for the auto sector in Ontario and for other industries in Ontario, he can help support our demand for a common North American customs perimeter, which is of utmost importance --
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): The Minister of Finance's time is up.
COMPETITIVE ELECTRICITY MARKET
Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): Again to the Minister of Finance. Yesterday the US ambassador came here to the Toronto area to deliver a speech wherein he said that it's time "to speed up the approval process for pipelines and electricity transmission lines between Canada and the US." He was very clear that the United States wants an open market in electricity so that they can in effect purchase as much of Ontario's electricity as they want.
What we all know that means, when the market opens, is that our electricity prices will rise to the price that prevails in places like New York: 100% higher. This is going to be very good for investors who own the generation plants. It's going to be very bad for Ontario consumers. Yet your government continues to deny this. Can you tell us, are you simply out of the loop or do you ignore everything that the US ambassador is saying about how much they want our electricity and how much the price will increase?
Hon Jim Flaherty (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I think the Minister of Energy wants to answer.
Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Energy, Science and Technology): It may come as a shock to the honourable member that the former Treasurer of his party, the Honourable Floyd Laughren, as head of the Ontario Energy Board has ordered that companies must increase the capacity of the inter-ties between Ontario and the United States. Why? Not because we're going to favour the United States but because we have very successful electricity companies here.
The honourable member is wrong. Our price today is very favourable to the United States, and for decades power has gone back and forth across the border. In fact, it was with great pride that last year there was a ceremony to recognize Ontario's contribution -- this was before the September 11 tragedy -- of power to New York City at noon and dinnertime, peak hours, on many, many days during an average year.
Mr Hampton: Minister, you try very hard to avoid the reality of this. In an open market you will no longer be able to tell generators in Ontario that they must supply the power to Ontario consumers at a lower price. Whatever consumers in New York are prepared to pay, and right now they're paying 123% more, that is what Ontario consumers will pay, and the ambassador, Mr Cellucci, admits it. He's very clear about it.
Since you're so busy opening the market and since he's saying to you, "Open the market quickly. Open it completely," will you acknowledge what he acknowledges? The reality of an open market in electricity, the reality of selling off Ontario's electricity system, is that the price of electricity here will rise and be the same as the price of electricity in New York or Boston or Michigan; ie, our prices are very quickly going to rise substantially, perhaps double. He admits it. Why won't you?
Hon Mr Wilson: I went through this with the honourable member in the estimates committee yesterday but I will try again. I don't know why the honourable member wants Ontario not to have electricity jobs -- good jobs like power worker union jobs, some of the best-paid jobs here in Ontario.
Quebec's utility is considered a jewel of French Canada and a jewel around the world with French-speaking peoples. They take great pride. They make billions of dollars a year selling into the United States, and the lights don't go out in Quebec.
We all know how much money BC Hydro made and how many jobs were created when California was in an energy crisis.
Alberta -- thank God Alberta doesn't have the same views you have. There'd be no natural gas in the United States, no oil. There aren't enough people in Alberta to use all the natural gas and oil they dig up every day.
You need to have international markets but you need the head offices here, you need the jobs here and you need those good-quality jobs. You just asked a question about jobs, and now we're trying to create some, and you're trying to throw it out with your conspiracies.
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES LEGISLATION
Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Citizenship. You will recognize that the Premier made a very specific promise to enact an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. You will also know how long ago he made that promise. You will also know how long it has been that the one and a half million Ontarians with disabilities have waited for him to deliver on that promise. It's been nearly seven years.
Minister, we understand now that you could be introducing a bill on this subject as soon as tomorrow. Three years ago, on a resolution proposed by our party, this House unanimously adopted 11 principles to be incorporated in this new piece of legislation. Will you commit today that your bill will abide by the 11 principles unanimously supported by this House?
Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister of Citizenship, minister responsible for seniors): I'm sure the honourable member is aware that I have responded to this and several other questions about the ODA in the last few weeks. He would also be aware that we have consulted quite widely with disabled groups and individuals and stakeholders across the province. The principles he suggests have been widely discussed.
It would appear, perhaps, that the member opposite has not had much of a consultation with municipalities. I cite one example that I have cited in the House before, that if the Liberal Party fully supports complete, overriding provisions in the Municipal Act, as one example, that is not an issue municipalities are encouraged about.
When the honourable member sees the legislation, when it's tabled, he will see very clearly that these principles have been strongly considered and that there are opportunities in this legislation to move forward for persons with disabilities unlike any other government has done in Canada.
Mr McGuinty: Minister, I distinguish between something that is strongly considered and something that is unequivocally endorsed. I'm sure the Ontarians with disabilities will listen with great interest to your response.
Our party has been fighting for nearly seven years to get a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act, but that's not nearly as long as David Lepofsky and his committee have been fighting for this. It's one thing to keep the one and a half million Ontarians with disabilities waiting this long and it's quite another to shut them out of the process to lend shape to the actual legislation. That would be to add insult to injury.
I'm asking on their behalf that the committee that will be assigned the responsibility to deal with this new piece of legislation will travel immediately after first reading, that it won't just stay here in Toronto but will go to Thunder Bay and Windsor and Ottawa and points in between. Minister, do I have your commitment that this legislation will go to committee after first reading and that the committee will travel?
Hon Mr Jackson: This question has already been raised and it has already been responded to.
I want to go back to what the member has asked about the 11 principles. If there is anything the disability community has waited for over the last seven years, it has also been a commitment from the Liberal Party and the Liberal opposition. Just in your own report of your assessment of the situation confronting disabled persons in this province, you indicate that after you publish a reiteration of the principles -- are you prepared to fund them, are you prepared to cost them and are you prepared to commit to them? No, you are not.
What the Liberals will do is that they feel -- I quote directly from their report -- this is a good starting point for any discussions regarding any future legislation. That's the problem. You would sit and discuss it for six years, like you did when you were the government. This government is going to table disability legislation that all disabled persons can be proud of in this province.
Mrs Julia Munro (York North): This question is for the Minister of Energy, Science and Technology. As this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is fitting to remind ourselves that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, an average of 53 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day and 15 will die of it. The good news is that breast cancer death rates have declined by 25% among women aged 50 to 69, and almost 14% overall since 1985.
Minister Wilson, last year you announced the government's commitment of $50 million to fund the Ontario Cancer Research Network. When can we expect to see this network up and running?
Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Energy, Science and Technology): The fight against cancer must continue and Ontario must continue to take a leadership role. I think members will have noted in the newspaper last week that Ontario is the place of residence for the best researchers in the world. There was a wonderful media clip on that last week. The Ontario Cancer Research Network is what the honourable Ernie Eves challenged us to set up, to look into new therapies and to make sure patients have access to new therapies, treatments and prescription drugs sooner than they would if we didn't have that network here.
Dr Cal Stiller, chair of the Ontario research and development challenge fund, was asked to go out and consult with the cancer community, with researchers and other health care experts, and he came back and recommended we establish the $50-million Ontario Cancer Research Network to better serve the people of Ontario and the world, but more importantly to try and find a cure for this devastating disease.
Mrs Munro: That's extremely good news. Dr Phillips' expertise will be an invaluable asset to the Ontario Cancer Research Network and I am pleased to hear he has agreed to take on this important task. It is apparent the government has made significant progress toward setting up the network, which I understand will provide an innovative, new approach to conducting cancer research. Would the minister tell the House what the Ontario Cancer Research Network will achieve and how it will achieve it?
Hon Mr Wilson: The $50 million is to be spent over three years. The network will be a non-profit organization. It will be headed by Dr Robert Phillips, who is world renowned in the field of cancer and cancer research.
The network will invest in three key areas. Part of the $50 million will be used to double Ontario's capacity to conduct clinical research and will advance existing research projects that are on the verge of yielding promising results. Second, the network will establish a network of provincial tumour banks. These will be used to support laboratory-based research on why and how cancer tissues respond to various treatments. Finally, an on-line information network will be built that provides access to information on the status of current clinical accessible research.
My brother died of cancer about a year and a half ago. His wife, a public health nurse, spent hours on the Internet, at hospital site after hospital site, trying to find a clinical research program, some cure out there, some treatment out there. This will put it all into one site and link researchers around the world. If you have a loved one you want to try a new therapy on that isn't quite approved by Ottawa yet, but they're looking for people to go into those clinical trials, into those research projects, you'll be able to go to one site and get the best advice and access available in the world today.
Mrs Marie Bountrogianni (Hamilton Mountain): My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Business Services, and is on behalf of the 40,000 franchise owners in Ontario who are vulnerable to the arbitrary termination of their franchise agreements.
Small businesses, the engine of this economy, entrepreneurs like my constituent Janis Snyder and 25 other Grand and Toy franchisees across the province will lose their businesses with no reason given or compensation offered. All but two Grand and Toys will be closed this December. A specialist in the field brought these loopholes and potential disasters to your attention during the hearings for the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure). This government chose to ignore the fact that the majority of problems in franchising occur after signing the contract.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. I'm also hearing from other franchisees in the restaurant sector as well who are losing their lifelong investments. Will the minister bring forward amendments to this franchise act that would require fair commercial standards in the termination, renewal and performance of franchise agreements?
Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Business Services): I am aware of this problem, and it has been raised with me by several members of the government caucus.
Mr Speaker, as you may know, there is a class action underway by the franchisees against the franchisor in this case. As such, it would be somewhat inappropriate for me to comment on the merits of the case. But I will say this: I have read the statement of claim of the franchisees, and the basis of their statement of claim is in fact the Arthur Wishart Act.
Mrs Bountrogianni: Minister, the Arthur Wishart Act doesn't help them in this case. Disclosure is only if the contract is open. The franchisor is closing the contracts, ending the contracts; therefore, they don't have to disclose.
There's a loophole here. You were warned about this loophole; check the Hansard. You must understand that the parties in franchise agreements are not on an equal footing. Ontario's franchisees are looking to this government to level the playing field and extend the franchise act to include fair commercial practices in the performance and termination of franchise agreements.
Without your commitment, these entrepreneurs remain vulnerable to the arbitrary actions of franchisors. My constituent Janis is a single mother with two daughters. She employs 30 people and has invested everything into her business. Think of the ripple effect. Hundreds of people will lose their jobs and many small businesses will lose all their investments.
Two things need to be done. First, the Arthur Wishart Act needs to be reopened and amended. Second, and in the meantime, will the minister take action and protect these Grand and Toy franchisee victims in Ontario and avert the loss of hundreds of jobs?
Hon Mr Sterling: First of all, there was a private contract between the franchisees and the franchisors which allowed certain things to be done or not done within the framework of those agreements. So a contract was signed. Presumably these people had legal advice with regard to the contract they were signing. If in fact the franchisor is outside of those agreements within the contract, the franchisees will be able to sue for damages.
I must say to the member opposite that disclosure is not part of the lawsuit which the franchisees have put forward in this case. Again, the franchisees are in fact relying on the very act that she is criticizing, the Arthur Wishart Act. Read the statement of claim.
Mr Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka): My question today is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, this summer you visited a number of communities in northern Ontario, including some stops to highlight some of the local successes in meeting the workfare targets. I know that in my community of Parry Sound-Muskoka we more than doubled our targets, and this was an opportunity for people to gain some valuable work experience, but it also earned the local government $280,000 in workfare placement rewards through the workfare placement reward program.
At the same time, though, I know that many of my northern Ontario colleagues from the opposition benches have said that workfare hasn't been the success that we like to claim. When I hear the doom and gloom coming from the opposition members from northern Ontario, I wonder if workfare is as unpopular there as they like to make it out to be. What evidence can you point to that can convince me that workfare is successful in northern Ontario?
Hon John R. Baird (Minister of Community and Social Services, minister responsible for children, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Back in 1995, we set out to transform a welfare system that wasn't working for people. It wasn't providing that important hand up and that transition from welfare to work.
One of the exciting things I've seen in my travels around Ontario is that while workfare is a tremendous success in southern Ontario, the success is not the same in the north. In fact, northern municipalities aren't just making the targets; they're doing tremendously well. They're doing much better than southern Ontario. Five of the top 10 municipalities with workfare targets around the province are in northern Ontario. In Kenora-Rainy River, both districts there, they had almost 400% of people participating in work for welfare above their target. In Thunder Bay, the number was 371%. In Algoma and in Sault Ste Marie, they did tremendously well as well.
But let's look at what people on the ground are saying: "We do have a lot of people going off [welfare] who are finding employment, and considering that we haven't had any major employers move into the area, that lump sum is very impressive." Who said that? Eddie Alton, the CAO of the Timiskaming DSSAB.
Mr Miller: I think it's fair to say that getting people off welfare and back into the workforce is not an easy job. Every person faces unique challenges and barriers to getting back into the workforce. Within the workfare program, there need to be different kinds of supports to meet these needs. One of the most important goals is to help put people on a track to a better and more prosperous future.
Minister, what actions have you taken to make sure that work for welfare does more than just put people into placements, that in fact it makes a meaningful difference to them in the long term?
Hon Mr Baird: We set about to reform the welfare system and turn it from a handout to a hand up. We've seen some pretty impressive results over the past six years, and with workfare, earnfare and learnfare, we've seen some really outstanding successes. We have about 97.5% of people with mandatory requirements on welfare participating in one or more of our work-for-welfare activities. We had 183,000 people with mandatory requirements last year; 4,400 were terminated for non-compliance, but we saw about 68,000 people participate in Ontario Works placements, which is an unbelievable accomplishment.
We have 3,600 people participating in self-employment activities; 104,000 taking basic education or job skills training; 134,000 participating in a structured job search; 52,000 people in our work-for-welfare program getting a part-time job and participating in earnfare; and 3,300 people participating in our Learning, Earning and Parenting program. This is undoubtedly part of the big success, seeing 600,000 people break free from a cycle of dependency.
FEDERAL COUNTERTERRORISM LEGISLATION
Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): My question is for the Deputy Premier. I listened to the speech of the Attorney General yesterday, when he said that he was going to Ottawa to lobby the federal justice minister for tougher anti-terrorism responses. Disturbingly, in his two-page speech, not once did he mention the civil liberties of Ontario citizens.
As you know, the federal anti-terrorism legislation has drawn a great deal of criticism, one, because it does not contain a sunset clause. After the immediate threat of terrorism passes, we do not and should not be suspending people's civil liberties. As well, it has drawn criticism because it is so broadly worded that merely holding a demonstration, a protest or a strike could be included within the term "terrorism."
I want a commitment from you, Deputy Premier, that when you go to Ottawa, you will also lobby the federal government for a sunset clause, and you will stand up for the civil liberties of Ontario people, not just the anti-terrorism measures.
Hon Jim Flaherty (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Of course we support the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- I think most Canadians do -- as part of our bundle of constitutional protections we enjoy as citizens of Canada. Having said that, these are extraordinary times. We are dealing with an extraordinary enemy in terrorists living around the world.
We will continue to support the federal government's efforts to fight terrorism and terrorist activities. We are heartened that the proposed federal legislation also intends to take steps to address hate propaganda on the Internet and hate crimes, including crimes targeting places of religious worship. In addition, when I was Attorney General, we introduced our organized crime bill; it has been reintroduced as Bill 30. As you know, it will be a very useful tool, if passed, in addressing the issue of money laundering, which it is well known, I believe, is --
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. I'm afraid the Minister of Finance's time is up.
Mr Hampton: Minister, the question was, will you insist that this legislation have a sunset clause so that the civil liberties of Ontario citizens, and Canadians generally, will not be sacrificed? Will you insist that the definition of terrorism be narrowed so that someone holding a political protest, someone exercising their right to free speech, is not then locked up?
I want to point out that the RCMP spokespersons, the CSIS spokespersons and even Julian Fantino, chief of the Toronto Police Service, have said that the issue is not so much new legislation; the issue is a matter of resources. So he's asking why you haven't provided the resources for the Toronto Police Service. Even the heads of our police and security organizations are saying, "We don't need a broader definition of terrorism. We don't need to clamp down on the civil liberties of our citizens. What we need is the resourcing." Would you helpfully respond to that, ensure that we're not going to sacrifice our civil liberties, and respond to those police services that are saying that the real issue is resourcing, not taking away people's civil liberties?
Hon Mr Flaherty: There are two questions there. One relates to trying to maintain a balance between the competing demands of privacy and civil liberties and the security of our nation, the security of our families, the security of our communities, the security of our province, the security of Canada.
I'm sure the honourable member opposite is as concerned as we are on this side that we need to co-operate with federal law enforcement officials, with CSIS, with the RCMP. We have the OPP. We're establishing our own anti-terrorism unit in Ontario. I'm sure the member opposite is as concerned as we are about the fundamental issue of security for our families in Ontario at a time of unprecedented attack by terrorists. We need to try to maintain that balance. We have the benefit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We also have the benefit of the steps we've taken.
I can tell you that discussions continue with law enforcement agencies around Ontario and federally to take every step that reasonably can be taken to protect Canadians.
Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell): My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. I would like to ask you a question about your OSTAR program, or maybe it should be called the no-star program. There is certainly no money filtering down to rural municipalities, certainly not to eastern Ontario and certainly not to Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.
On August 10, 2000, you made a big announcement indicating that there was $600 million available to rural municipalities for rural development; $240 million was to upgrade municipal water and sewer systems to comply with your MOE regulations. Minister, 189 municipalities submitted over 600 applications, and municipalities have met with your staff on several occasions.
On August 20, all the mayors from my riding met with you and your staff, and you told them at that time that they should expect an announcement within the next two weeks. Ten weeks have gone by, and still no news. Minister, can you tell the mayors of rural Ontario when they can expect this announcement?
Hon Brian Coburn (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs): I thank the member for the question. As the member knows, the OSTAR project helps us to address some of the things that are a priority for this government, and certainly health and safety and water quality is one of them. As a result of that we announced that $240-million program.
We have approved a number of preliminary engineering projects, as the member knows, and $3 million has been committed and expensed out to the municipalities for their preliminary engineering projects. When that comes in, as the member knows, it goes to the Ministry of the Environment to be evaluated, to refine their parameters and take advantage of some of the new technologies. That then permits the approval of the C of A. That's the process we've been going through now and, as we speak, those announcements will be happening shortly.
Mr Lalonde: Minister, the people are no fools. I know it goes to the Ministry of the Environment and then to OMAFRA. The purpose of the August 20 meeting with you was that I was told by senior officials that municipalities should not expect any announcement before late fall. I think that official was right. But is it fall 2001 or 2002?
The mayor of Casselman told you at that meeting that their problem was urgent, that their water system, which was built under MOE supervision, was being held together with chicken wire. On September 27 you made a statement in this House that money was currently being directed to high-priority projects. The rural municipalities are just getting tired of your government games.
Minister, can you tell me when rural Ontario municipalities can expect answers, or have you been told by your finance minister not to approve any OSTAR projects? Or maybe the real reason is that you have been told to wait until an election is called to make these announcements to make your government look good.
Hon Mr Coburn: Our government doesn't play games when it comes to the health and safety of the residents of Ontario. The $3 million that we had approved for the preliminary engineering projects were an indication to all those municipalities whose projects were being considered. There's a rigorous process that is involved here so that we can take advantage of some new technologies, so that we don't have piecework installations across the province, that we have installations that will be long-lasting and meet the new, rigid drinking water regulations that we have. Some of this stuff is in the country.
Those projects are going through a process now and, as I indicated, no, there are no games being played here. We have the dough and we're working with the municipalities. That will be coming forward shortly and we'll be able to provide infrastructure for healthy and safe communities long into the future.
COLLEGE STANDARDS AND ACCREDITATION
Mr John O'Toole (Durham): My question is to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. I've heard you speak passionately about training our workforce for the future and the important role that our colleges of applied arts and technologies play in this post-secondary educational system. Certainly I'm familiar first-hand with the role of Durham College in my riding of Durham.
College provides, as you know, technical and applied education in communities across Ontario. College programs are unique because they focus directly on the needs of communities and local industry. College grads go on to succeed in rewarding careers and are vital to ensure the skilled workforce we need to support innovation and new industry across our province.
As we work to secure long-term prosperity as a government in this province, we have to count on the support of our colleges. Minister, what is our government doing to ensure that Ontario's colleges are ready to play an important role in the economic prosperity of this province?
Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, minister responsible for women's issues): These are exciting times for our college system. I appreciate the ongoing support and interest from our member from Durham.
As everyone knows, one of the most exciting times in the history of Ontario is the new students we will be getting in our colleges and universities. Our colleges and universities are working together more than ever before. Because of our government's economic policies, we are in a position where we can plan for the future.
I think we have already told this House about the increased numbers in the money that went into our SuperBuild projects. We've got 25 projects at our universities; 25 new projects at our colleges; we've got nine joint projects for 59 new buildings, to the tune of $1.9 billion, both with the private sector supporting us.
Never before have our colleges, our universities and our schools worked together in the interests of our young people so we can fill those skills gaps and help them be trained for meaningful jobs.
Mr O'Toole: I'll tell you I'm confident of your support for the college and university system, most recently in the funding of operating funds and certainly on the capital side under SuperBuild. But really it's a matter today of the type of education so that they have the minimum level of skills required to not only find skilled jobs but to keep them. That demand is increasing.
Minister, we must teach our Ontario students to higher standards to ensure they are relevant and competitive in a skilled workforce. In addition to increasing funding, what steps will you take to ensure that Ontario's colleges have the administrative and academic tools necessary to teach and train Ontario's workforce to the standards they will require in the future?
Hon Mrs Cunningham: The member is quite correct: our colleges' operating fund is increasing by $23.6 million this year as part of a three-year plan of $293 million. As he's already said -- very important -- we are increasing our funding for apprenticeship training by $33 million. We have promised to double the number of apprentices.
We are investing $50 million over five years into our colleges to upgrade their facilities so that young people will be attracted, and we can work with our unions and with our communities to get more people into apprenticeship training.
The applied degree project, for which I will give a significant amount of credit to my colleague from Durham and to my other colleague representing Conestoga College, is extremely important. This is where young people will be part of an applied degree program. The colleges will be applying very shortly, and we're looking at 24 new projects over three years, and maybe more. This is all about apprenticeship training and getting ready for this big market where we must have skilled workers.
HEALTH CARE FUNDING
Mr Ted McMeekin (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot): My question was for the Minister of Health, but in his absence I'll go to the Deputy Premier.
Last November I asked the Minister of Health's predecessor --
Interjection: There he is now, coming in late.
Mr McMeekin: He's out selling memberships.
My question is for the Minister of Health. Last November I asked your predecessor to give assurances to the people of Hamilton that they would not see the capital costs of upgrading the Hamilton Health Sciences Corp slapped on to their property taxes. She acknowledged it was a good question and promised to review the situation and report back.
Now, almost a year later, we read today in the Hamilton Spectator that the HSC board chair, Marvin Ryder, wants another $75 million of health care capital costs downloaded on to our already beleaguered property taxpayers. This would mean, according to the mayor, a total downloading of $126.5 million and at least a 7.5% tax increase every year for the next decade for every single Hamilton taxpayer. Mr Ryder believes a special tax levy is needed. He states, "I understand the Hamilton tax situation, but if people see something marked Special on their tax bill, they might feel better about it." Well, it certainly made me feel better. Why, it warmed me from head to toe.
Minister, do you agree with Mr Ryder? Do you think municipalities like the new city of Hamilton should see millions of dollars downloaded and a new special health tax levy identified on their property tax bills?
Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): As the member is aware, it's nothing new. There has always been community participation in new capital projects in Ontario. We have had dozens and dozens of examples of private fundraising, philanthropic gifts, community participation willingly in the capital drives of our hospitals. This is no different than all these other examples that have happened in the decades since we have been attempting to rebuild our hospitals in Ontario.
So if the honourable member is asking me whether there's a requirement that the city of Hamilton or the city of Hamilton taxpayers through their property taxes participate, there is no requirement, but there is and always has been an expectation of community participation; 70% comes through taxpayers' funds from the province of Ontario and 30% comes locally.
Mr McMeekin: Minister, you're going to have to do better than that to convince the people I represent that they're not getting shafted once again.
It's also reported in today's Spectator that your own provincial audit has concluded that the city's public health department has received a failing grade in two thirds of its mandatory programs. It appears they can't even afford the staffing to meet current needs. This is an incredibly frustrating situation for our mayor and council. Today they're struggling just to make ends meet and respond to the service areas your government has already offloaded. This has got to stop. Dumping more costs on to the city of Hamilton is not a realistic option. It just can't happen without other important services being slashed throughout the entire new city.
Minister, the people I represent are sick and tired of all the game-playing. They want your government's assurance that they will not have to pay through their property taxes for the provision of provincially mandated health care services. Will you give that assurance today?
Hon Mr Clement: No, because I'm not the mayor of Hamilton and neither is the member. The question is, is there an expectation of community participation? In many other regions and cities in Ontario -- Kitchener-Waterloo comes to mind; Peterborough comes to mind -- there have been examples where municipalities and individuals, the taxpayers, have willingly come to the table to further advance better health care for the citizenry in their region or city. This is no different. If this is the way Hamilton wishes to have the community participate, it has my blessing. If they want to use another way, through philanthropic gifts or private gifts, that's fine too.
We only say that it is important for the process to continue, for the work to be done, for the community to have a stake in whatever revamping or renovation or rebuilding is done, that the community participate as well as the province. This is no different from many other cities and regions across the province.
Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener Centre): I have a question for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. Earlier this month, Kitchener celebrated its 33rd successful year of Oktoberfest.
Mr Wettlaufer: Thank you. Minister, this is North America's largest Bavarian festival. Not only is it North America's largest Bavarian festival, but it is one of the largest festivals of any kind in North America. It is the largest cultural festival in North America. It attracted over 700,000 people this year. There are over 40 family and cultural events at Oktoberfest, including Canada's largest Thanksgiving Day parade, which is the only parade outside of the United States to be televised on an American television network on Thanksgiving Day in the United States.
Oktoberfest is an important contributor to the economy in Kitchener-Waterloo, generating $18 million annually. More than 450 volunteers, charitable groups and local service clubs work hard every year to make this event a success. Given the importance of Oktoberfest in attracting tourists, can you tell the House what your ministry is doing to support Oktoberfest?
Hon Tim Hudak (Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation): I appreciate the member from Kitchener Centre's question and his ongoing strong support for Oktoberfest as an economic and tourism generator in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Certainly there are other members from the K-W area participating annually in that event.
That is one of the 74 events the province of Ontario supports to increase tourism, to have them come into the area, spend more dollars on hotels, restaurants and attractions, and ideally to come back again and visit other attractions in the province. We're very pleased that this year, for the fifth year in a row, the Mike Harris government has sponsored Oktoberfest, about $15,000. It has been named the top event in Canada on several occasions by the American Bus Association, so I'm confident of a great future ahead.
The program tries to advertise the Ontario logo at the American Thanksgiving parade, for example, with television, radio and print ads. There's no doubt that we believe Oktoberfest is wunderbar and we also believe: Ontario: Yours to Discover.
IPPERWASH PROVINCIAL PARK
Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas there remain many unanswered questions about the role of the Ontario Provincial Police in dealing with the occupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park in September 1995 during which a native protester, Dudley George, was killed; ...
"Whereas there is evidence seeming to implicate the Premier's office in these events in the form of inter-ministerial notes and direct communications by the local member of the provincial Parliament to the Premier's office;
"Whereas all criminal proceedings related to the events at Ipperwash have concluded and outstanding civil litigation is not a prohibitive factor;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that a full public inquiry be held as soon as possible into the events surrounding the fatal shooting of Dudley George in order to eliminate all misconceptions held by and about the government, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Stoney Point First Nations people."
I affix my signature.
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that reads as follows:
"Whereas the Criminal Code of Canada considers animal cruelty to be a property offence; and
"Whereas those who commit crimes against animals currently face light sentences upon conviction; and
"Whereas those who operate puppy mills should, upon conviction, face sentences that are appropriate for the torture and inhumane treatment they have inflicted on puppies under their so-called care;
"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ontario provincial government petition the federal government to move forward with amendments to the cruelty of animal provisions in the Criminal Code as soon as possible."
COMMUNITY CARE ACCESS CENTRES
Mr Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the Mike Harris government promised to institute `patient-based budgeting' for health care services in the 1995 Common Sense Revolution; and
"Whereas community care access centres now face a collective shortfall of $175 million due to a funding rollback by the provincial government; and
"Whereas due to this funding rollback, CCACs have cut back on home care services affecting many sick and elderly Ontarians; and
"Whereas these cuts in services are forcing Ontarians into more expensive long-term-care facilities or back into hospital;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately lift the funding freeze for home care services, so as to ensure that community care access centres can provide the services that Ontario's working families need."
I'm pleased to add my signature to this.
Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a number of petitions to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
"Whereas the need for home care services is rapidly growing in Ontario due to the aging of the population and hospital restructuring; and
"Whereas the prices paid by community care access centres to purchase home care services for their clients are rising due to factors beyond the control of CCACs; and
"Whereas the funding provided by the Ontario government, through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, is inadequate to meet the growing need for home care services; and
"Whereas the funding shortfall, coupled with the implications of Bill 46, the Public Sector Accountability Act currently before the Legislature, are forcing CCACs to make deep cuts in home care services without any policy direction from the provincial government;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"(1) That the Legislative Assembly direct the provincial government to take control of policy-setting for home care services through rational, population-based health planning rather than simply by underfunding the system; and
"(2) That the Legislative Assembly direct the provincial government to provide sufficient funding to CCACs to support the home care services that are the mandate of CCACs in the volumes needed to meet their communities' rapidly growing needs; and
"(3) That the Legislative Assembly make it necessary for the provincial government to notify the agencies it funds of the amount of funding they will be given by the government in a fiscal year at least three months before the commencement of the fiscal year."
I agree with this petition. I am pleased to sign it, and I'm pleased to give it to my page, Tim Armstrong from the town of Gore Bay.
Mr Tony Ruprecht (Davenport): I keep getting petitions regarding the problems in education. This petition is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and reads as follows:
"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take an additional billion dollars out of the education system this year and every year; and
"Whereas the Ontario government has decided to hire uncertified teachers in kindergartens, libraries, for guidance, physical education, the arts, and technology; and
"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate working conditions; and
"Whereas the Ontario government will remove at least 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; and
"Whereas the Ontario government has become the sole decision-maker on class size, preparation time and the length of the school day; and
"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to take decision-making powers out of the hands of locally-elected community-minded trustees;
"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, strongly urge the government to repeal the education bill and create an accessible public consultative process for students, parents, teachers, and school board administrators to study alternate solutions that have universal appeal and will lead to an improved educational system."
Since I agree, I am signing this document with my signature.
LONDON HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE
Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the London Health Sciences Centre is a world-class academic health sciences centre serving people throughout southwestern Ontario; and
"Whereas the Ministry of Health has forced the London Health Sciences Centre to find $17 million in annual savings by 2005; and
"Whereas the London Health Sciences Centre has agreed to cut 18 programs in order to satisfy directions from the provincial Ministry of Health; and
"Whereas these cuts will put the health of the people of southwestern Ontario, and particularly children, at risk; and
"Whereas these cuts will diminish the London Health Sciences Centre's standing as a regional health care resource; and
"Whereas these cuts will worsen the continuing physician shortages in the region;
"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Ontario Legislature to demand the Mike Harris government take immediate action to ensure these important health services are maintained so that the health and safety of people throughout southwestern Ontario are not put at risk."
I sign this petition.
Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the London Health Sciences Centre is a world-class academic health sciences centre serving people throughout southwestern Ontario; and
"Whereas the Ministry of Health has forced the London Health Sciences Centre to find $17 million in annual savings by 2005; and
"Whereas the London Health Sciences Centre has agreed to cut 18 programs in order to satisfy directions from the provincial Ministry of Health; and
"Whereas these cuts will put the health of the people of southwestern Ontario, and particularly children, at risk; and
"Whereas these cuts will diminish the London Health Sciences Centre's standing as a regional health care resource; and
"Whereas these cuts will worsen the continuing physician shortages in the region;
"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Ontario Legislature to demand the Mike Harris government take immediate action to ensure these important health services are maintained so that the health and safety of people throughout southwestern Ontario are not put at risk."
I'm in full agreement and will assign my signature hereto.
MEDICAL SCHOOL TUITION
Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas medical school tuition was deregulated by the Ontario government in 1998; and medical school tuition has and continues to increase in excess of 300% such that at some universities tuition is now $14,000;
"Whereas the combination of excessive tuition and frozen student assistance have impaired students' accessibility to a medical education;
"Whereas the physicians most likely to practise in a rural area are originally from rural areas themselves; and
"Whereas unaffordable tuition disproportionately excludes medical students from rural communities;
"Be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Ontario government and the universities of Ontario to ensure that medical education be made financially accessible to all qualified students; and
"Be it further resolved that we, the undersigned, request that medical tuition be capped and re-regulated at a level accessible to all Ontarians, and that the Ontario student assistance plan/Canada student loan program be adjusted, in order to ensure that Ontarians from all communities are able to afford a medical school education."
I agree with this petition and have signed it as well.
SALE OF SCHOOLS
Mr Tony Ruprecht (Davenport): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and it reads as follows:
"Whereas the Hughes Public School at 17 Innes Ave in the city of Toronto closed down, and its premises have been declared surplus by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB);
"Whereas the city of Toronto has issued a building permit to the Toronto District School Board permitting the reconstruction of Hughes Public School for an entity called Beatrice House, for the purpose of a private academic school;
"Whereas Beatrice House is not a private school registered with the Ministry of Education ... ; and
"Whereas within the context of the zoning bylaw (438-86), the subject lands have been designated as R2 Z0.6 and permits a `private academic, philanthropic or religious school'; and
"Whereas the Toronto District School Board has chosen not to lease the subject premises to a computer training company for $1.25 million annually. Instead, the board has chosen to lease it to the Beatrice House for a fraction of the current market value;
"Whereas local taxpayers' concerns have been ignored by the Toronto District School Board;
"Whereas other locations, such as the Brother Edmund Rice School ... or the Earlscourt Public School ... which are being closed down, have been offered to Beatrice House to no avail;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
"That the Honourable Minister of Education investigate the leasing arrangement between the Toronto District School Board and Beatrice House inasmuch as:
"(1) Boards are to seek fair market value when selling, leasing or otherwise disposing of schools except that the price for the property not to exceed the value of the ministry's grant for the new pupil places when the purchaser is a coterminous board, a provincial school, or a publicly funded care and treatment facility offering programs leading to a diploma;
"(2) Boards are to offer the property to coterminous boards and other public agencies operating in the area in accordance with the priority order currently specified in regulation 444/98;
"(3) Toronto District School Board has not dealt in good faith with our neighbourhood residents;
"Therefore, we respectfully ask you to consider our plea for justice. The Toronto District School Board has ignored our concerns and due diligence. We as a community tried everything within our power to fight the glaring and obvious wrong done to us, to no avail."
Since I agree with this petition, I'm delighted to sign it.
LONDON HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE
Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the London Health Sciences Centre is a world-class academic health sciences centre serving people throughout southwestern Ontario; and
"Whereas the Ministry of Health has forced the London Health Sciences Centre to find $17 million in annual savings by 2005; and
"Whereas the London Health Sciences Centre has agreed to cut 18 programs in order to satisfy directions from the provincial Ministry of Health; and
"Whereas these cuts will put the health of the people of southwestern Ontario, and particularly the children ... at risk; and
"Whereas these cuts will diminish the London Health Sciences Centre's standing as a regional health care resource; and
"Whereas these cuts will worsen the continuing physician shortages in the region;
"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Ontario Legislature to demand that the Mike Harris government take immediate action to ensure that these important health services are maintained so that the health and safety of people throughout southwestern Ontario" in such places as Forest, Sarnia, Port Franks, London and Corunna, "are not put at risk."
I'm in full agreement and sign my signature hereto.
Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas 13 people died during the first seven months of 1999 on Highway 401 between London and Windsor; and
"Whereas traffic levels on all sections of Highway 401 continue to increase; and
"Whereas Canada's number one trade and travel route was designed in the 1950s for fewer vehicles and lighter trucks; and
"Whereas road funding is almost completely paid through vehicle permit and driving licence fees; and
"Whereas Ontario road users pay 28 cents per litre of tax on gasoline, adding up to over $2.7 billion in provincial gas taxes and over $2.3 billion in federal gas taxes;
"We, the undersigned members of the Canadian Automobile Association and other residents of Ontario, respectfully request the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately upgrade Highway 401 to at least a six-lane highway with fully paved shoulders and rumble strips; and
"We respectfully request that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario place firm pressure on the federal government to invest its gasoline tax revenue in road safety improvements in Ontario."
I, too, have signed this petition.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
BROWNFIELDS STATUTE LAW
AMENDMENT ACT, 2001 /
LOI DE 2001 MODIFIANT DES LOIS
EN CE QUI CONCERNE
LES FRICHES CONTAMINÉES
Resuming the debate adjourned on October 29, 2001, on the motion for third reading of Bill 56, An Act to encourage the revitalization of contaminated land and to make other amendments relating to environmental matters / Projet de loi 56, Loi visant à encourager la revitalisation des terrains contaminés et apportant d'autres modifications se rapportant à des questions environnementales.
Hon John R. Baird (Minister of Community and Social Services, minister responsible for children, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Because I want to hear the member for Trinity-Spadina speak, I'd like to call order G56.
Mr Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay): If you remember, the last time we were debating this bill, I actually just had the opportunity to get the floor, and I am now, with pleasure, going to go through and explain what I feel are the strengths of this bill, what I think are some of the weaknesses of the bill and why I generally support the intent of this legislation because I think it goes in the right direction, but where I think this bill, quite frankly, has got to be strengthened.
First of all, let me say straight out to the Minister of Community and Social Services, my friend Rosario Marchese will be coming back to speak, so you will have an opportunity this afternoon. But I'm the first act, so you have to put up with it, all right?
Mr Michael Prue (Beaches-East York): And I'm the second act.
Mr Bisson: Michael is the second act and Rosie will be the third.
Hon Mr Baird: The teaser.
Mr Bisson: There you go. That's just the way we set it up.
Anyway, I just want to say to the government members across the way that I generally support what the government is doing in this legislation. I, along with the other New Democrats and, I would imagine, most members of this House, have had experiences where there have been brownfields in the middle of our communities that have gone undeveloped for a number of years because of the waste, contaminated soils by way of all kinds of activities, everything from mining to lumber to steel mills to petrochemical plants, you name it. There are those types of environmental disasters all over.
How we got into that situation is that in the bad old days, when there was a real zeal to build plants, there was not the type of environmental legislation we have now to make sure we protect our lands, to prevent them from being contaminated in the future. For example, where I come from -- I'll just give you one story -- the Kamiskotia Mine, developed in the 1940s, was developed as a copper mine out at Kamiskotia Lake to assist the Canadian government in its war efforts, to supply the much-needed copper that we needed at the time to support the Allies and our own armed forces when it came to copper production. That mine was brought on line so fast that a whole bunch of environmental issues that should have been dealt with when the mine was built weren't. Tailings dams were not constructed. The mine effluent from the mill process was discharged directly out into the environment. We now have, some 60 years later, a huge environmental disaster out at Kamiskotia Lake. In fact, my own cottage, the family cottage we have, is but a stone's throw from what I would say is probably one of the largest mining disasters in Ontario when it comes to contamination.
I've worked very hard, along with others -- councillor Rick Bisson, former mayor Vic Power and current mayor Jamie Lim -- in order to bring much-needed money from the provincial government so we're able to do the remedial work we need to bring that site back to a situation where it's a lot greener and not as polluted as we see it now. I'm happy to say that we've been very successful in getting money from the provincial government, first from the former Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Tim Hudak, and now from the current Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Dan Newman. I've been successful, along with others, in being able to attract almost $10 million this year alone to do remedial work on that site. I give the government kudos on that.
I've always said it is my job as a member of this Legislature and as an advocate for my community that if the government does something wrong, I'm going to be there and I'll be pushing you to do what I think is right, but if you've done something right it's my responsibility to say you've done it. So I give full credit to Dan Newman and to Tim Hudak, the former Minister of Northern Development and Mines, for first of all understanding the issue, listening to what I had to say, and going through the process of meeting people like Rick Bisson, the community residents and the former mayor and the current mayor of the city of Timmins to get that much-needed money.
But now let's get specific to this bill. We have other environmental disasters in the community. One of the other ones we have is another mining project. This case is the old MacIntyre mine. I'll show you how this relates directly to the brownfields bill we have right now. At one point years ago, the MacIntyre mine was producing gold in the Schumacher area. The tailings dam constructed way back when -- I believe it dates back to the 1930s -- eventually was filled with water and they made a sort of reclamation lake in the area that eventually became a park. If people have driven to the city of Timmins onwards from the 1940s and 1950s, there was a really beautiful area that was called the Pearl Lake Park, situated directly between the city of Timmins and the town of Schumacher. What you had there was a park in the centre of the city of Timmins, a wonderful area that people used for enjoyment, for going out for a picnic with their families. If you wanted to go out and play a game of baseball or you just generally wanted to go with the children for a day in the park, it was a wonderful park. The MacIntyre mine and the Lions Club used to maintain part of it and the city of Timmins maintained the other part.
What happened was that a company known as ERG Resources eventually came along, and that particular company said, "We want to reclaim the tailings under that park." It had been reclaimed as a park; they had managed to backfill it again and basically have grass and baseball diamonds and trees and such. This particular company said, "We want to reclaim the tailings. We believe we can make lots of money and create many jobs in the city of Timmins." The time that originally came up was in the 1980s, actually under the former Liberal government; Mr Bradley was the Minister of the Environment at the time.
The government of the day, both the municipal and provincial governments, allowed that project to go ahead without the necessary bonds to secure that, if that company went bankrupt, there would be sufficient money there to reclaim the environmental damage they would cause by re-mining the tailings. Well, history has shown -- that company came cap in hand to both the municipal and the provincial government and said, "We need these jobs. They're important to the community. Trust us, we'll be there. We're going to be here for a long time. We're making a substantial investment in the city of Timmins. We're not going to leave you stuck," they said. "We're going to make sure that when we finish reclaiming the tailings at Pearl Lake Park, we're going to restore that park to a better condition" than at the time ERG wanted to come and do the reclamation. I remember saying as a citizen at the time, "This is wrong. We know these people are going to run with the money and we'll never see them again. You should not allow this company to go ahead and do this development."
The provincial government gave approval. The municipality gave approval. The company went out and took the gold out of the tailings at the old Pearl Lake Park, and guess what happened?
Mr Bisson: The member for Trinity-Spadina is perfectly right. The company basically went under, and now we have a huge environmental disaster in the centre of the city of Timmins.
What do you do with those types of disasters? One of the things was already done. Under the NDP government we passed the mine reclamation act that basically said any mine that conducts activities in the province has to secure the money upfront for the environmental disaster they may cause when they are finished their operations. A set-aside fund was set, mine closure plans had to be drawn up, and any mine that has started up since the time we were in government and passed the legislation in 1991 had to post a mine reclamation plan and must post money in a set-aside fund so that if they're not there with the money to fix the problem at the end, it's not us, the taxpayers, who are stuck.
For example, when mines are now closed throughout the province as the mine life cycle ends -- that's not something we like to see where I come from, but when it happens, there is now legislation that ensures, for example in the case of Detour Lake, because of the legislation passed by Shelley Martel, that when that mine is shut down, a full reclamation is done. I invite members to come with me in about three years' time. I will be able to fly over that mine and you will never know there was a mine at that location. Why? Because the NDP government put in place the mine closure act that put set-aside funds in place, as well as putting mine closure plans in place.
Mr Bisson: Here's where I'm going. That's exactly my point. This is what you can do by way of legislation if you decide to really do the things that need to be done. The government wants to go on the issue of what we're going to do now with brownfields such as Pearl Lake that is a situation we're stuck with. The government says, "We're giving you all the tools by way of this legislation." What they're doing is a fairly good idea in a legislative process, but there are some difficulties when it comes to the financing and what may happen in the regulation. Basically what the bill provides for is a site-specific risk assessment. Instead of matching up a set of contaminations and level of contaminations with fixed requirements for specific kinds of cleanups, landowners will be given the flexibility to recommend a program of remediation specifically tailored to the risk posed by that site for the particular land use proposed. The activity will most likely be driven by the proponents and the key rules will be in regulation. So there's going to be a very phased-step process by which people will be more easily able get through the environmental process of reclaiming those sites.
I say to the government, that's a good thing. Again I'll give you kudos for that. I don't have a difficulty with what you're doing here. But here's where I think the legislation is weak. First, much is left to the regulations. We again find ourselves in the situation that the government comes in with legislation that generally we can support, but they don't give us the detail. Most of it is in regulations, and it will be the minister in the end who will decide how this will or will not work. You can have the legislation be a fairly permissive thing, but if the regulations are done improperly or inadequately or in a contrary way, we could end up with virtually nothing. I really wonder what is going to be in the regulations and I would encourage the government to please table them so we can see what that's going to be.
But here is the bigger issue. I want to ask anybody who is watching here today, who is going to be the first one to run to the city of Timmins to reclaim what used to be Pearl Lake with this bill? I don't hear the phone ringing. OK, you can call. The number here is 325-8300, area code 416. Anybody who is watching, please call right now. We're going to read your number on air as we speak, the first proponent who, by way of this bill, is actually going to go out and develop some type of use for what used to be Pearl Lake. I don't hear the phone ringing and I'll tell you why, and I suspect it's the situation we're going to find. You need to put some dollars in place to have this work.
Here's what I suggest we can do. We can do, for example, what the NDP government had done when it was in power between 1990 and 1995 when we had the Canada infrastructure program. Our model was a very simple and a very successful one. If the municipality, or the proponent in this case -- and I would argue a private sector developer is prepared to put up a substantial share of the project. Both the federal and provincial governments would kick some in to assist, because the problem we're going to have is, it's not worth their while, for a developer, to reclaim an area like the Pearl Lake Park to land that could be used. Even if we give them the land for free, the amount of money they're going to have to spend to reclaim that land for industrial use, recreational use or residential use will far outweigh the cost benefit of being able to do that. In other words, it would be cheaper, for example, if I needed five acres in the city of Timmins as a private developer, to go around the highway, along the 610 highway out to Texas Gulf, and build my plant or whatever it is I want to build, my recreational facility or my residential complex, on that five acres than it would be to do it there. Why? Because it's going to cost a whack of money to reclaim that land. I would think --
Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): It ain't gonna happen.
Mr Bisson: It ain't gonna happen. My friend from Welland-Thorold is perfectly right. Who's going to be the one --
Mr Gregory S. Sorbara (Vaughan-King-Aurora): Stop interrupting.
Mr Bisson: I was going to interrupt you, my friend Greg Sorbara, but that was another story.
Anyway, who is going to develop the land if the cost is far higher than the amount of money necessary for you to do it on another piece of land? I look at my good friend Mr Sorbara --
The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member from Vaughan-King-Aurora, come to order.
Mr Bisson: -- who, I know, has a lot of money, who is a developer himself. I'll be very surprised if Greg Sorbara comes running to the city of Timmins to develop land that used to be known as the Pearl Lake Park, because he's a sound business person.
The Acting Speaker: The minister from Orléans, come to order.
Mr Bisson: He might be a politician that I wouldn't vote for, but from a business point of view I understand when he says, "How much is it going to cost me to develop this land to the state that I want?" "X amount of dollars." "How much would it cost to go somewhere else where I don't have to deal with the environmental issues?" "Oh, a lot cheaper. I'm going over there."
So who's going to develop this land? It's probably going to come down to us, the taxpayers. The city of Timmins, the Mattagami Regional Conservation Authority or somebody in the end, I would figure, in a period of 15 to 20 years are going to be the ones who will be stuck footing the bill to reclaim that area to some sort of recreational use in years to come. I know the city of Timmins doesn't like the idea of having this eyesore in the middle of the city. All we've got now is this great big fence that you can't see behind at times, when they put the little slats through it, and it gives an appearance that maybe there's nothing behind the fence. At some point, we want to be able to reuse that land. My suggestion to the government is, you've given the city of Timmins or the Mattagami Regional Conservation Authority the tools by way of this legislation to make it happen, but they're not going to do it because the cost will be far more prohibitive than you would lead them to believe by way of this legislation.
My positive, good idea to you -- what was the line again? "Practical, good ideas" -- would be basically this: the government should put in place the kinds of dollars it needs to assist municipalities to redevelop this land or, in some cases, private sector developers, if need be.
I see some people squinting at that one, but there's no reason you cannot develop public sector-private sector partnerships to develop some of this land. I don't see why we shouldn't be able to do that. If it's public sector, I would argue you can mirror what the Rae government had done with the Canada-Ontario infrastructure program and say, "Everybody pays a third." Let's negotiate an agreement with the federal government. If the municipality is willing to put up a third of the cost of redeveloping the old Pearl Lake Park in the city of Timmins, the province and the federal government will kick in a third. If there is a private sector component to this, then we negotiate some way that the private sector person doesn't get in cheap or for nothing, they pay their fair share, but the various levels of government can participate if they want.
I think that would be a good way to redevelop a brownfield such as we have in the city of Timmins when it comes to the old Pearl Lake Park. I see that as a positive, good idea that we, the NDP, are putting forward that would be a good way to augment what you have in the legislation.
Ce n'est pas la seule place où vous allez voir une telle sorte de situation. Je regarde, par exemple, les communautés à travers la route 11 dans mon comté de Timmins-Baie James, où Smooth Rock Falls, Kapuskasking, certainement Hearst et d'autres municipalités ont les mêmes sortes de situation, où les entreprises qui ont été là dans le passé ont fait des développements et, à la fin de la journée, la municipalité est rendue dans la situation où le coût de rétablir et reprendre ces terrains pour le développement municipal ou le développement pour les entreprises privées est trop dispendieux.
Je dis à mes collègues dans l'Assemblée, je dis à mes collègues aux conseils municipaux à travers ces municipalités de Smooth Rock Falls à Hearst et aussi la communauté de Constance Lake, que la législation qu'on débat aujourd'hui va vous donner des outils pour être capables d'au moins avancer sur le point légal de redévelopper ces terrains. Mais quand ça vient aux vrais outils de développement -- et on sait ce que c'est, monsieur Prue : c'est l'argent. Les outils de développement, monsieur Rosario Marchese, c'est quoi ? C'est l'argent. Il n'y a personne dans le secteur privé qui va développer quelque chose parce qu'eux autres veulent être seulement de bons citoyens. La raison pour laquelle ils vont dépenser l'argent, c'est parce qu'ils figurent qu'ils vont être capables de faire un profit avec l'investissement qu'ils ont fait.
C'est pour cette raison que je dis qu'on a besoin d'avoir, comme partie de cette stratégie -- on a la stratégie législative que je pense être une bonne idée. Au Nouveau Parti démocratique, on propose une idée où on peut mettre en place une entente entre la municipalité, la province et le fédéral, une entente qui dit que si c'est une municipalité qui veut reprendre ces terrains et les redevelopper, on va chacun payer un tiers du coût. Ça fait du bon sens, parce que les communautés comme Smooth Rock Falls, par exemple, n'ont pas les moyens pour tout redévelopper elles-mêmes avec l'argent de leurs contribuables parce que, à la fin de la journée, elles n'en ont pas assez.
Si la province et le fédéral peuvent faire un engagement avec la municipalité, ça fait beaucoup plus de bon sens, et il y a plus de chances, dans mon opinion, que ces municipalités se trouvent dans une situation où elles vont être capables de redévelopper ces terrains. Je dis que si quelqu'un dit, « Oui, je suis un entrepreneur du secteur privé et je veux être capable de redévelopper ces terrains qui ont été des sites, qui ont eu des désastres environnementaux dans ces municipalités », oui, cette personne, cet individu comme entreprise privée va avoir des outils à travers le processus législatif, mais encore ça devient la question de dollars. C'est pour cette raison que nous suggérons une idée pratique de la part du NPD qu'on a besoin de mettre en place une sorte de programme pour assister les municipalités à elles-mêmes développer les partenariats entre les secteurs privés et publics pour être capables de redévelopper ces terrains.
I note that I'm coming to the end of my time in this speech. I just want to say I haven't heard the phone ring yet. I'm still waiting for somebody to call us at 325-8300 to let us know who's ready to develop the Pearl Lake Park. I don't hear the phone ringing, it hasn't rung in a while and I suspect it won't for a long time unless we as a province say we're prepared not only to give the legislative authority for developers and municipalities to redevelop what are brownfields, such as the old Pearl Lake Park in the city of Timmins, but we need to put in place the dollars so that at the end of the day they have the financial means to be able to go ahead and do what is the right thing: redevelop some of those areas in our communities that are brownfields that, quite frankly, are long overdue to be redeveloped into useful land in communities across Ontario.
The Acting Speaker: Just to be fair, I think for those watching, they should know that there are no phones in this chamber.
The time after debate is for comments and questions.
Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton Centre): We're pleased that there are elements of this bill that the members of the opposition are supporting. I think it's an important element that when we talk about redevelopment for our communities, a lot of people go to the easiest route, the simplest route, and that's to greenfield development. But the real challenge is to make sure that the inner cores of our cities and towns that have had problems, that have had industrial pockets, have the opportunity to be developed and to be able to redevelop with the government's support.
The Acting Speaker: Would you stop the clock, please. The Chair recognizes the member for Niagara Centre.
Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm inquiring whether or not there is a quorum present.
The Acting Speaker: Would you check for a quorum, please?
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: The member for Brampton Centre has about a minute and a half to complete comments and questions.
Mr Spina: I just wanted to conclude by saying we're pleased to have the opportunity to have government be the incentive to redevelop brownfield sites in our communities across Ontario.
Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): I'd like to take this opportunity to compliment the member from Timmins-James Bay. He raises, I think, one of the most important and fundamental points of this legislation that's in front of us today, and that's the question of dollars.
I witnessed first hand the closing of the Canada Iron foundry in St Thomas in 1988. Finally, here we are: in the year 2001, the site is being redeveloped. For 13 years this site of eight acres of land sat as a blight in downtown St Thomas. But unfortunately the dollars just weren't available to justify the expense of the cleanup of that site if it wasn't for the fact that the price had been lowered so much on the value of that land that it finally came to the point where it was feasible to clean up the site.
I think we look at the legacy of the Industrial Revolution in this country, and everywhere you go, no matter which municipality you visit in this province, you can see the legacy of the industrial age, be it an abandoned building or an abandoned site.
As government, we need to do everything we possibly can to help encourage the redevelopment of these sites, because at the same time as we've witnessed the redevelopment of a former iron foundry site in St Thomas, we also saw 40 acres of a golf course, a beautiful greenfield of mature trees and a wonderful nine-hole golf course, destroyed, and destroyed for what? A Wal-Mart.
The investment is great to see in the community, but we need to see government play a role in helping to encourage the redevelopment and coming to the table with dollars to encourage the redevelopment of these brownfield sites.
Mr Kormos: I know exactly what parts of the north, what parts around Timmins the member from Timmins-James Bay speaks of; I've seen them. It's not unique to Timmins. Down where I come from, down in Welland and Thorold and Pelham and south St Catharines, especially Welland-Thorold and south St Catharines, those communities are burdened with huge tracts of land, many of them because of the development of those communities from the inner core outward and from where industry used to be a part of the core of the community, huge tracts of land that are the brownfields contemplated in this legislation.
For instance, when Mayor Cindy Forster of Welland and when Mayor Robin Davidson of Thorold learned that this legislation was before the House, they were somewhat enthused. They were optimistic, because both these mayors have been aggressively working within their respective communities to develop their communities, to bring some vitality and life back to their downtowns, to the older sections of the community. But their enthusiasm was soon dampened, indeed thoroughly soused, when they read --
The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Trinity-Spadina.
Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): You can't recognize two people at once. He's on the floor.
The Acting Speaker: I thought you had a point of order. The Chair recognizes the member for Niagara Centre.
Mr Kormos: The member from Trinity-Spadina has no point of order.
The mayors of these communities, similar to older industrial-based communities across the province, are dismayed, because although the bill purports to provide them some new opportunities, in the absence of any assistance -- not a penny, not a nickel, not a dime -- to develop those properties, to effectively clean them up, to remediate them, they are doomed to live with them and the status quo.
The Acting Speaker: My apologies. When somebody is standing and talking, I just thought that --
Comments and questions?
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): There is no question that each one of us has, within the boundaries of our communities, lands which could be appropriately developed and, unfortunately, to this point in time, have not been.
The member has pointed out that there are both positive and negative aspects to this legislation. While we would like to support legislation which has some positive initiatives for the province, we often find a fatal flaw within that legislation that does not allow those of us in the opposition to give enthusiastic and unfettered support to that legislation. That is the case with this piece of legislation.
We have seen urban sprawl taking place, and members have made reference to big-box stores around our communities. That development seems to take place at the periphery of the city. It starts tugging at the edges of the city, and soon there is a person on council who will be calling for expansion on to adjacent agricultural lands. The part we would like in this bill is the part which would assist in promoting development within the city core and the older parts of the city, where you wouldn't have to put the new pipes out there, where you wouldn't have to gobble up agricultural land.
I know whether it's in Timmins or St Catharines or anywhere in the Niagara region, we would like to see a bill that provides the financial wherewithal to be able to develop this, because very often it's going to be the municipality that's going to have to provide assistance. They are already strapped for funds because of downloading, and I think that's the important ingredient missing in this bill.
The Acting Speaker: The member for Timmins-James Bay has two minutes to respond.
Mr Bisson: I want to thank the member for Welland-Thorold, the member for St Catharines, the member for Elgin and -- I'm missing somebody; I forget who it was -- I think my friend Mr Spina, who spoke for a short time.
Essentially the issue I am raising in this debate is that I support this legislation, I'm OK with voting for the legislation and I think the legislation itself is OK. The problem is that I want the government to put forward the money necessary to assist municipalities to do the redevelopments and, yes, the public-private sector partnerships that should be and can be organized to reclaim some of these brownfields.
The comment to the Speaker that there are no phones around here: I just want people outside to know there are all kinds of phones at Queen's Park and we have staff answering the phones. I just went and checked 325-8300. Nobody has called yet to redevelop Pearl Lake Park.
Hon Mr Baird: What's the number again?
Mr Bisson: It's 325-8300. I'm sure Minister Baird is going to call and say that he's now going to redevelop it. I'm expecting a phone call real quick. But up to now we haven't had a call, and that's my point.
At the end, when it comes to redeveloping a brownfield, a private sector developer looks at the issue of dollars and cents. If the private sector developer cannot make a profit because it's uneconomical, they are not going to redevelop the brownfield.
As far as the public sector, being a municipality or a conservation authority, if the cost is prohibitive, they are not going to come and reclaim that area from a brownfield to a greenfield development.
That's why I'm proposing a good idea, like many of the ideas the NDP is proposing. We're the party of ideas, and we're saying that one of the ideas you could use is to put in place a type of program that is cost-shared between the federal, provincial and municipal governments to help reclaim these brownfields. That would have been a good idea. That would have been a positive step.
We're hoping the government will listen to us, as they will listen to us on the PST rebate. I'm sure at one point they're going to agree with us and reduce the PST in order to assist the retailers of this province in getting back to the place they deserve in the economy.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Bradley: Some of us did not anticipate we would be debating this this afternoon, not that that often makes a difference as to the content of the debate, but it really does with this particular piece of legislation. When this bill came forward -- and I sat in some of the committee hearings on it -- I was hoping to be able to support the bill, to give it wholehearted support. Indeed, initially, I thought it had good possibilities; and it did, because there are some of what I consider to be positive elements in this legislation. We had people who came before the committee and made some good presentations. I had anticipated that the government, having heard those presentations, would then make the necessary amendments to the bill which would allow me to give my wholehearted support for it. So let me say my support is half-hearted. That doesn't mean it's going to get my vote, but I want to be positive enough to say that there are elements in this legislation worthy of support. I think there's a consensus among the three parties on the advisability of proceeding with many of the elements of this legislation.
One of the problems I foresee -- and I heard this from some of the developers who came forward to the committee. They were eager to see some fairly rapid approvals of their proposals for development on the brownfield sites. We recognize that we want to ensure that the kind of development that takes place is not going to be detrimental to the area and that, indeed, there's an appropriate cleanup of the site. What they were afraid of, those making representations on behalf of potential developers, was that the Ministry of the Environment, with its severely reduced staff and financial funding from the provincial government, would not be able to provide the kind of timely approvals which would allow this kind of development to take place, because indeed development of this kind should take place.
The reason I say that is that if you look at virtually any community in Ontario, we see urban sprawl taking place. I'm talking now about the larger urban areas in the province. Instead of redeveloping that which is contained within the present boundaries -- and I might add there is a debate in Guelph over this, where one of the city councillors is fighting Wal-Mart in that particular case -- instead of the redevelopment of those areas of the city where people already exist, where they're already living, where there are already services, whether they are hard services such as sewer and water and garbage services, things of that nature, or softer services such as parklands, there simply is not development taking place there, and there's a reason: the land is contaminated.
In the olden days it was considered appropriate for development to take place adjacent to the factory in which people worked, for instance. It made all kinds of sense, people believed, because they could walk there. They didn't need a vehicle; they could walk to the factory. It was close to home. They could leave five or 10 minutes from starting time and be there quite easily. On inclement days it was very convenient. So in most of our communities we see these old factory sites that are in existence, or sometimes it's what I used to call as a kid junkyards that you would see, where you had old vehicles and drums and things of that nature stored in the area. They are good places for development, but you can't develop unless the land is appropriately cleaned up. Developers looking at it began to say, "This is impossible. The cost and obligations I will have of developing this land are going to be too great to make any sense out of it." They would not even make a purchase because the banks would not finance it.
When the legislation was brought forward, when the committee had its hearings, I think a lot of good things came out of those hearings and I think there's much in this legislation, I say again, that will militate in favour of the kind of development we want to see, because heaven knows, this government has permitted urban sprawl to take place to such an extent that we have some genuine problems.
I was listening to James Kunstler the other day making a speech at the University of Toronto. I've heard him speak before. He's a well-known author of books such as A Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere. He's a critic of the kind of urban sprawl that we've seen take place in North America and is very much in favour of communities that make sense, livable communities that make use of existing services and that have architectural merit to them. He's given many examples over the years of those communities.
Again, I look at my own area of the province, and other areas of the province, where we see an expansion of boundaries being asked for. When I was on city council from 1970 to 1977, many years ago, this was indeed an issue that was emerging. I remember fighting at that time against the forces of development and those who couldn't wait to pave that good farmland around the city, against a major expansion of our boundaries. A compromise was reached, not one --
Mr Bradley: Sorry, what was that?
Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa West-Nepean): Where will the grapes come from?
Mr Bradley: Well, that remains to be seen. I think it will come from this brownfield redevelopment.
So I held out against that. I fought --
Hon Mr Baird: I won't even eat those grapes. I don't want --
Mr Bradley: The member makes a very good point because the question starting out from the two Ottawa members is: where will we get the good grapes if we keep paving those lands? That's a good point. We need that for grape land. We need it for peaches and pears, cherries and plums, apricots and apples, vegetables. We need it for all of those products.
You see, in the Niagara Peninsula you have a unique circumstance. You have soils which are conducive to the growing of those crops and, as important, you have a micro-climate which allows for the growing of those products for many more days than would be possible in other areas. It is known in our area, for instance, that on average there are about 27 more growing days on top of the escarpment than below the escarpment. The point I make is that it's important not to allow the sprawl out onto that farmland.
Now, there are members of municipal councils down there who can't wait to pave everything, and when they've got everything paved -- from the edge of Metropolitan Toronto to Fort Erie, and from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie -- they will have reached paradise, because we have to grow and have new jobs, as they always tell us. The farmland will be gone if they get their way.
The people who come from Toronto to visit and to buy the wine and other products in the area, don't come to see acre after acre of paved land. What's attractive about the Niagara Peninsula is that within our boundaries we have large tracts of agricultural and rural land. That's why the people from the big city come down to the Niagara region, to enjoy that.
Brownfield development, in my view, militates in favour of the kind of development, "smart growth" if you will, that we want to see. Now, this government, after allowing the paving of much of our farmland, after allowing urban sprawl, likes to use the terminology "smart growth." Well, we've had anything but that within the last half-dozen years in Ontario.
What is needed as well, to go complementary with this particular piece of legislation, is a strong provincial Planning Act. You weakened it. The previous government brought in some amendments which were positive in terms of trying to have the province guide development appropriately right across Ontario. This government weakened that legislation and the developers couldn't wait. They were applauding. I think if you were to go to the Tory fundraisers -- I don't go there -- those developers would be there giving a standing ovation to the Premier and other ministers for being kind enough to allow this urban sprawl that allows them to gobble up farmland and environmentally sensitive areas.
My view is that our communities should be looking back to their cores, to their downtown areas, trying to redevelop them to get people to live in our downtown areas, to buy in our downtown areas so that we can have a combination of service, of retail, of professional offices and of lovely new developments, particularly for seniors who want to be near those sites in a downtown area, with restaurants and taverns and things of that nature. That's what can revitalize our cities. Unfortunately, what we're seeing instead is a constant pressure to move out.
My own city council passed a resolution last summer saying that they wanted the province to bring in legislation or guidelines to ensure farmland was protected. The real test of that is when the local developer comes in and says, "Can't I just have three more acres of land out in the area that is not within the city boundaries?" Of course when councils capitulate to that, then that means all the resolutions passed, whether in this House or at municipal councils, mean nothing if we're allowing them to convert to golf courses or to either residential or commercial or industrial development on lands already designated for farmland. The argument that's always made is the argument we've all heard, and that is, "Well, they're not farming the land now." Of course not. The developer buys up the land, lets it lie there or allows an obnoxious use, and then the council says, "Well, if it's not farmland, I guess we better convert it to some commercial or industrial land."
This legislation gives a different option for them. I wish it were more complete. I wish there were the kind of funding options in this legislation that would allow me to support it.
I know the bill is going to go through in any event, and I'm not going to be one who's going to be going across this province denouncing the government for this legislation, because there's enough in it, compared to much of the legislation this government passes, that I think is relatively benign. Besides, as some members have noted, heaven knows there's far more to talk about with this government than this piece of legislation. I would not stray into those areas because I would be straying outside of the contents of this bill.
Dianne Saxe, who is a former Ministry of the Environment lawyer and works for a law firm in Toronto today, I thought made a compelling argument in a Toronto Star column. She appeared with some other people before the committee of the Legislature. This is where I wish committees could be more effective; in other words, I wish the whip were off the committee, meaning, for the people who might be watching, people in various political parties weren't obligated, in the opposition, to automatically oppose the government, or with the government members, to automatically support whatever the government wants, because I think some of the suggestions made were good suggestions. I suspect we've seen the government adopt some of those, but not enough of those.
I heard some reference to SuperBuild. I know my friend from Scarborough-Rouge River, after I've completed my remarks and we come around again, will want to make a good comment or two on this legislation, because he would recognize that. There was talk of SuperBuild funding. SuperBuild is essentially the packaging of every other grant the government used to provide into something called SuperBuild.
As a former Minister of the Environment, I well recall that we used to have, to invest in Ontario, somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200 million a year for water and sewer projects alone. An application would be made to the ministry, ministry officials would make a recommendation and the funding would proceed. There was no political component to it, because I used to listen to my own members in my own caucus say, "Why is so much money going into some of those opposition ridings and not into our ridings?"
The answer would be because this was a totally objective exercise. A person I remember was Noble Villeneuve, a former government member. Mr Villeneuve used to have a number of applications coming from his area, and those applications would, if they merited it, get approval. The same was true of various ministries.
Now we've got one individual or a small group of individuals in charge who will decide, I suspect on a political basis, to allocate those funds. So you've got municipalities fuming and competing with one another. You've got some people saying you can't use it for arenas and others saying you can. I see in Peterborough -- because one of my own councillors asked if you could use it for an arena -- it mentions a $5.6-million SuperBuild grant from the province toward the proposed $14-million sport facility. Mind you, the proposal for that was located at the community college. They're afraid they're going to lose that.
But the point I'm making is that if municipalities are going to have to look at all of their priorities, few of them are going to be getting funding for brownfield development. Sometimes, as I think the member for Timmins-James Bay said appropriately, it's going to be the municipality that's going to redevelop that property, and sometimes it can be done successfully.
What I want to say about this legislation is that I think it has engendered a lot of interest and a lot of support. It falls short of what we would like to see. Again, for emphasis, I will say we need a lot more staff and financial resources in the Ministry of the Environment. One reason we will need those resources is to look at and evaluate these lands and then process approvals in a timely but thorough fashion. We don't have that today. We will need some money for grants to municipalities or partnering with municipalities for some of these developments. We don't see those funds coming at the present time.
So I look at the government, instead, wanting to give away over $2 billion in a tax gift to the corporations of this province. I know you would have watched with interest, Mr Speaker, while we're talking about financing, the finance ministers heading to Ottawa last week and whining to the federal government. I thought two of the worst cases were Ontario's Mr Flaherty and British Columbia's Mr Collins, both saying to the federal government they wanted more money for health care. If I were a reporter -- and I didn't hear any reporters ask this question in Ottawa -- I would have said, "This is odd. Ontario and British Columbia are giving away hundreds of millions of dollars -- in Ontario's case, billions of dollars -- in tax cuts, but you want more money for health care." So the question is, don't you really want that money to finance your tax cuts because you know you're going to lose that revenue? Unfortunately, nobody seemed to ask that question or, if they did, it didn't appear in the paper or you couldn't hear it on the electronic media.
That's where we can find these funds to invest. I think instead of giving the money to the corporations, we can invest in our communities, because whether it's Stratford, St Catharines, Toronto, Scarborough or any one of the communities we represent -- I was down in Lambton and I recall seeing some older sites in Lambton that I think people would like to see cleaned up and redeveloped --
Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): Be careful. Easy.
Mr Bradley: -- I think the member would agree with me -- that would be eligible for this kind of development, and he'd want to see it happen. But it won't happen under the provisions of this legislation. It'll be moved along a bit. I'm happy about that. But if we're going to do the job, we should do it thoroughly and comprehensively, and in my view, this legislation falls just short of that mark.
I hope that the government, when it brings this legislation back again, because it has the power through its majority to pass it in whatever form it wishes, will make sure that it makes the changes advanced at committee, which were recommended by the opposition. Then I would think we would have a complete package that could genuinely move along the kind of brownfield development we'd like to see.
The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?
Mr Marchese: I want to congratulate the member from St Catharines for finding the time to speak, making the time to speak and taking the time to speak on bills that are important to the members of the opposition, but particularly to him. He and I have this ongoing struggle for finding time in this House to debate bills. We need the time and the fullness of it to be able to properly respond to bills. Often, these opportunities are taken away from us, aren't they? They are, for a variety of different reasons -- nothing you need to concern yourselves with, people of Ontario, but it's something we understand, that we need to respond to bills on a regular basis.
What he said about this bill is that it's a benign bill, something that he and his party can support, and similarly, something that we, as a party, can and will support as well because it's a bill that is relatively good. There are some shortcomings. I've got to say, member from St Catharines, that the government did accept some of your amendments in committee, which, by the way, were similar to some of the Conservative amendments. So they did agree to make some amendments, which helps make some of those aspects of the bill a little bit better. I wanted to say that.
But one of the things the member from St Catharines said as well was that without the pecunia that goes with the development and cleanup of these sites, without the money, there is only so much you can redevelop. While the cities have some money, they are certainly not full of it to be able to do the kind of redevelopment that is required. So unless you have the government enter into this field with some level of support, without simply saying to the cities, "You can do it," there is only so much redevelopment that can be done.
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I'm really surprised that we're still here debating this particular bill, an excellent environmental bill, with the foot-dragging that's going on, particularly with the third party. After extensive debate, I would think they would be very anxious to get on with this environmental legislation.
It's obvious that most environmental legislation has to be brought forward by a Conservative government. You can look at various countries and various provinces, and it ends up that it's Conservative governments that implement environmental legislation.
I was interested in the member from St Catharines's comments about the need for more staff and the need for more grants. I can understand where he is coming from, the Liberal view. I follow the philosophy. I also follow his concerns about giving away money for tax cuts, as he says. But you know, some $15 billion more in revenue has been coming in as a result of stimulation of the economy in the province of Ontario. I suggest the reason for that stimulation of the economy has been, indeed, those tax cuts.
The member was referring to how no one asked this question. I would suggest the press now understands economics and how you stimulate the economy, how you turn it around and how when you do, more revenue comes in. I would suggest maybe that's why the press didn't ask any questions at that time.
Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough-Rouge River): I could spend my time commenting on what the others on the Conservative side said, but I won't do that. I want to take the two minutes to make them appreciate what we have here in the House, especially a former Minister of the Environment who has a sterling record. I think at this moment they should listen carefully to what he said, because when I speak, I will go more extensively into the fact of the rigid and proper way that you settle a process to make sure you have environmental assessments and good land to build on.
These individuals on the Conservative side have almost said, "Sometimes money gets in the way of safety, so what we should do is forget all of that. Just give them the contaminated land and let them develop it. So what?" Because of course many of their friends are waiting to develop all these contaminated lands. Later on, we are going to look back and say to ourselves, "Who allowed all this to happen when we had people being sick?" The fact is that people are unhealthy on these lands because they decided not to spend enough money for a proper environmental assessment, proper checking and what have you. When I was Minister of Housing and had to go through my Minister of the Environment, I had to be very rigid to make sure that I passed all those tests. Now they're throwing that out the door.
I want to say to them, if they are listening to the former minister -- and I hope he becomes the next Minister of the Environment also -- we could learn a lot. I think what he has pointed out here is that you can't compromise a situation by pulling away funds and taking away inspectors. What is going to happen is you're going to have one hell of a situation where later on we may be paying for it in deaths. We have looked at Walkerton and have seen what happened when we pull back the resources that are necessary to do so.
I'm trying to say that enough time is not being spent, and of course no funds have been there. Forget about SuperBuild.
Mr Bisson: I want to say to the member from St Catharines that I appreciate him getting up and speaking in the House, because I too, like my friend the member from Trinity-Spadina, believe that this legislative process is important and that members must participate. Far too often in this place we have seen where there's been a reluctance on the part of the government to debate certain bills, for whatever reason. They want to get out of here fast or they don't think their bill is important enough to speak to; I don't know. But I think it's important that we get up, and I want to commend the member from St Catharines for, yes, having decided to speak but, more important, for having taken the time to speak. I always enjoy his comments.
The other thing I want to say -- and I don't want to see this show up in any of your campaign literature, because if it does, I'm going to be somewhat upset -- is that I do recognize the member from St Catharines as being one of those members in this House, like Marilyn Churley, who gets up on numbers of occasions and speaks with some authority on environmental issues. I know that's been one of his passions in this Legislature. So I always appreciate the comments that the member from St Catharines makes on those particular issues, because I know that's a passion of his and he knows of what he speaks.
I know that he agrees with me, because he said it in a speech today, on the issue that you've got to put the dollars into this whole process, because otherwise brownfields in St Catharines, Toronto, Timmins, Hearst, Kapuskasing, Constance Lake or even Fort Albany, where we have such problems with the old air force base that left PCB contaminations -- those things don't get cleaned up on their own.
I give you another example. We're doing some brownfield work up in Fort Albany. It wasn't until we got involved in getting the federal government to cough up the dollars from the Department of National Defence in order to clean up the PCB sites so that they can redevelop that for their school area that we've been able to get that done. How? It's when we were able to get the dollars. So if you don't tie the dollars to these kinds of pieces of legislation, at the end of the day you're not going to do a heck of a lot.
The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines has two minutes to respond.
Mr Bradley: All of the members have made appropriate comments and have touched on a lot of the issues that are necessary in dealing with this legislation. What I think a lot of us would like to see, and we've had it in Ontario in years gone by, is an environmental security fund. That is a superfund which is not SuperBuild. In the United States, the contributions were made from the polluting companies. It was used for environmental cleanup. In many cases, we can't identify the people who are responsible for the contamination, or it's a matter of not being able to get blood out of a stone. So somebody has to assume the cost. In many cases, a developer will say, "It will be entirely prohibitive to proceed with the project if I have to assume the entire cost." That is where we can help to make sure that development takes place in the older parts of the city.
We now pay for services -- the province makes contributions, or has in the past -- for highways and for other hard services such as water and sewer that go out into rural areas that become suburban areas. So I think it is appropriate that financial investment be made in the older areas of the city where contamination takes place.
I know the member for Scarborough-Rouge River, who has had some experience as Minister of Housing and some experience in his own constituency with contaminated lands, would know that you have to ensure that those lands are completely cleaned up before, for instance, a residential development takes place, otherwise the long-term consequences can be difficult, both in terms of health and finances.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Trinity-Spadina.
Mr Marchese: I've got something to say, Jim. I want to take that opportunity as well, like Jim Bradley, because when you are here in this place and there's a bill that needs some member to speak to it, here I am.
The Acting Speaker: My apology to the member for Trinity-Spadina. It's not your turn.
The Acting Speaker: There are two of us standing. One of us is out of order and it's not me.
The rotation would go from the Liberal caucus to the Conservative caucus and then to the Liberal caucus, so after I check the Conservative caucus, then I'll continue the proper rotation. I apologize for my mix-up.
Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Scarborough-Rouge River.
Mr Curling: I appreciate the opportunity to speak on Bill 56, the brownfield legislation. I think of course it's the appropriate direction in which the government would like to go, but like any legislation or effort, we must put in the resources, and I'll get to that sooner or later.
The fact is that there are many lands lying around that we could develop, in view of the shortage of affordable housing that we have in this province, especially in the major cities of Ontario. One of the things we could do is look at some of those lands that may have some sort of contamination and been sitting idle for a long time.
I want to applaud the government for looking at these lands and making sure that we can have a clean environment and a clean piece of land on which to build, but the fact is that one of the problems of this legislation is that there are not sufficient funds coming from the province itself to do so. I thought legislation like this would raise the interest of the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Community and Social Services, who have been quite short in delivering affordable housing and accommodation to those who are in great need. When I looked at this I realized that what is really missing from all this is adequate and sufficient funding with which to do so.
They talk about SuperBuild and that we have to have matching funds. They have passed housing over to the municipalities, so therefore the municipality is the one that has to come up with the money before it can get money from the smart fund or whatever they want to call it. So what is it going to do? It's going to lie idle. Or they will ask the private sector to clean this land up. You know what's going to happen when you do that? First the private sector -- and I don't blame them -- will look where they can maximize profit on any sort of purchase or any endeavours they make in business. So they will not make the real effort to make sure that these lands are clean.
I want to just leave that alone and come back to an experience I had as Minister of Housing in the great riding of Scarborough-Rouge River. Years ago, as you know, the federal and provincial governments owned a lot of land in that area and they built affordable housing there for individuals. But what happened was that it was built on contaminated land. There was radioactive soil there. It was built by a Conservative government years ago. The people appealed when they found out that the land was contaminated, but they would never even try to address those individuals who were found to be living on radioactive soil, high radioactive soil, although I should say to those individuals that when we tested it, it was at a level that was considered not dangerous to cause any health hazard in the short term, but somehow dangerous enough not to be lived on, and that the soil should be moved.
It took us years when we were in opposition to even get the attention of the Conservative government. When I became the member of Parliament in Scarborough North, as at the time it was called, and then also assumed the position of Minister of Housing, I had indicated to my cabinet that what we should do if we couldn't move the people was to move the soil. That cost was enormous, but we were committed that safety was first and the health of our citizens was primary in this endeavour. This government doesn't think that way. You would be extremely concerned about it, Mr Speaker, and I know the kind of motivation of which you come from about individuals.
When I approached the cabinet about moving these individuals and buying those properties from those individuals, because we were the government -- and the Conservative government of the time was the one who built those homes on contaminated soil -- that Minister of the Environment of whom I spoke earlier on, Mr Bradley from St Catharines, was very rigid about -- even when we moved those individuals and bought those homes, he was insistent that that land should be clean before we built anything on it again. We had removed the soil, and of course the government of the day -- that's the Liberal government, the David Peterson government -- came forward that day and put enough money in place not only to buy the homes from those people, not only to pay for the removal fees anywhere in Ontario that they would like to go -- anywhere in Canada, we said, that they would move, we would pay for that -- but for any incidentals that had caused that inconvenience. We also paid for that, but also to remove that contaminated soil. To do that, of course, cost a lot of money, but the Liberal government of the day did not concern itself with what were the costs monetary-wise. We were more concerned about the health of the citizens, and we did move that soil.
Here is where we had full co-operation. We then went to the federal government, because they also were in charge of moving that kind of soil, and with their co-operation we did move the soil. What happens today -- we have in my riding a safe area in which people can live, in the McClure Crescent area, and people are quite happy. Those who have moved are happy about their new accommodation. Those who have moved in are also happy with the uncontaminated soil on which they are now living.
But that is not all. My riding also finds itself right now in another situation where fly ash is evident in an area where some development is going to happen. I wrote to the Minister of the Environment to indicate to me if this is a safe area on which to build and for an assessment of what the seriousness of the fly ash would be. I got a response from the minister that it was going to go through the normal process to make an assessment. But what concerns me is that I got the feeling that the private sector which is going to build there is responsible for moving that fly ash. Although I am not at all questioning the motive of the private sector that he or she would like to do a good job, I would like to see some sort of responsibility, some monitoring of how this would be done. But from this legislation, it seems to me this will not take place.
I'm not at all impressed with the record of this government in environment. You have seen, of course, the Walkerton situation where the disaster, as a matter of fact, led to deaths there, where of course they have not had enough inspectors to carry out the routine proceedings of checking the water.
Maybe that is only in some places or that place alone. But there are many other places where the cutbacks are happening with this government, all in the interests of saying they want to balance a budget on the backs of the poor. Who suffered in all this? Families who have been mourning and will continue to mourn the loss of family and friends who have died in that process.
So this government's record of environment doesn't really come up to match at all. It's of great concern to the Liberals here who have put forward many times to this government how we should deal with environmental concerns. Our advocate, Mr Bradley from St Catharines, and many of our other colleagues here have pointed out to this government some of their concerns. How do they respond? They would respond by shortening the debates, with cutbacks of money and by saying, "We want to get on with development at all costs." I'm extremely concerned that this is the wrong way to go. Long after we are gone, you see, long after the Bradleys, the Conways and the Curlings and all will have gone out of this Parliament, maybe in 20 or 30 years from now there will be a debate in here about people who are living on contaminated soil who are sick from that. They will be wondering who the Speaker in the House was that day who allowed the shortening of debates on the full weight and the responsibility of legislation like this. Who was the Premier of that day? Who was the minister of that day? And they will say, "They are long gone and maybe dead." Who'll be paying for that? Those new parliamentarians, 30 years from now. And who'll be paying worse for that? Some family sick from the contaminated soil or from an area in which they were allowed, or for which this government has allowed the private sector to take responsibility for what governments should do.
Sometimes I think this government doesn't understand that they have a role in this province. They feel they should be out of any role of managing anything at all and hand it over to the private sector. As the Premier of the day said, his role is to make sure that government comes out of everything. He doesn't want to have the government around. I can't remember; I'm just paraphrasing at the moment. That was his intention. But what that does is allow the private sector, whose motivation solely is profit -- at the end of the day they are not in there for their health; they're in there to make money. We're not in there to make money; we're making sure that our nation, our children, tomorrow have a safe environment in which to live, a place that is not contaminated and that they can say there was a responsible government that went along here.
As a matter of fact, the pages who are here today may recall this, because one or two of them may be here as members of Parliament and say, "I recall that there were members and individuals inside this House who were telling this government to slow down a bit to make sure we have adequate money and resources available to have clean water, to make sure we have good land, uncontaminated lands to build on." Maybe some of them will be governors of banks, accountants, doctors or members of Parliament and they will say, "Here we are today. I heard that debate. But my golly, you mean they did push it through, with all that emotional talk by Mr Bradley from St Catharines," and then the members of the Liberal Party wanted to appeal, who not only wanted to but who appealed, to this government and said, "Listen, there are more resources than we need here," and it passed.
Maybe I'm not speaking to any of the members here at all. I'm going to speak to those young people who are here today to recall that in the stakes of today you will be the ones who will be paying for that maybe through bad health, bad education, because they put bad legislation into place. You must hold us accountable, as young as you are, and you are now representatives of millions of young people outside because you had the opportunity to listen to all of this first-hand. These young people will have heard first-hand the appeal to this government and the way it's going. They will hear how a government treated people who are disabled, discouraged, hungry and without funds and see in what rigid, morbid ways this government went about its legislation, how they saw money before they saw health; how they believe, why put inspectors in place, because it costs too much; how they were saying that the Liberals over here were saying, "Spend, spend, spend," and we said, "Yes, spend it on those to protect our young people, spend it on those to protect our fathers and mothers and everyone, because that's what we're there for." That is why they collect taxes, and they abdicate their responsibility.
They see it this way: "Let's give it back to them. Let's give them back their taxes and say, `You go out and find ways to make sure your land is safe, to make sure your water is safe to drink. You do that.'" This government over here, my young citizens, has abdicated its responsibility, has refused to do the job that it is due to do. Furthermore, not only that, for us to speak on their behalf and to point out those concerns, what have they done? They have cut us off from speaking and said, "You only have a limited time in which to speak, because you know what? They may just about convince us," just like when you hear the Minister of Community and Social Services at times talk about how many people are not working and how many he got off welfare and how much we have saved and what have you, because we have to save money, not to save the lives and the welfare of individuals but to save money.
That is why individuals like those in this government will take millions of dollars and give it to one company and say, "Tell us what to do." We were telling them exactly what to do. As you heard, my friends, they give consulting fees to that one company to tell them what to do. We are telling them what to do, because each day every one of us is facing thousands of people. Those are our constituents. Your mother, your father, your uncle, your brother -- everyone -- is saying, "We have concerns about where we live and how we live and we want government to put proper regulations in place." Putting regulations in place and making laws can be good. That's only half the battle. Putting enough resources in place with which to carry out those laws is important. In other words, put inspectors in place to make sure the land that we are going to assess or inspect is done to the level where we can call it safe.
I appeal to this government in their last few days of rule, that as they go out a couple of months from now, they can still do something good. They can bring about good legislation, and not only in words but in all sorts of financial resources that are required to carry all this through. That is reflected all across what they do. It's no use to bring that in place and find out that what is happening is a lack of resources to do that.
One of the creative ways in which they try to abdicate their responsibilities is the SuperBuild they talk about. They put big lumps of money over on this side and said, "You may get it if you can match it over here," and then they pass the responsibility down to another area, to the municipality, and say, "Now you're responsible for housing, now you're responsible for water, and the only way you can get money to help yourself is to find enough money on this side," and in the meantime, they restrict those municipalities from acquiring funds from taxes. So it will never be done.
There you are. The money is sitting over there, big photo ops each day. Mike Harris and many of the ministers are standing for these kinds of photo ops and saying, "Look what a good job I have done. Look at this big cheque I have."
One of the things I want to point out to you is that you see these ministers each day going out with big, huge cardboard cheques. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. They would say, "We just gave the police $2 million," or, "We gave this individual $2 million." The bottom of the cheque will be signed "David Turnbull" or whoever the minister would be. You know what? None of those ministers can sign a cheque. It's no good. If you put that cardboard in place, it would be thrown out. It is not a cheque. Won't you wake up and find that out? People have seen you already. You've got no clothes on; the emperor has no clothes. They know that those cheques are no good, but it's a great photo op. I have never received a cheque in the mail from the government with one of the minister's names on it -- never.
What do they do? Why is it the other ministers are signing those cheques, that cardboard stuff that is no good? It's a photo op. So I'm saying to you that what you put in place must be real. Stop this mockery about it all. People are seeing through you. I'm giving you the opportunity; we're giving you the opportunity; Ontario is giving you this opportunity. You've got a couple of more months in which to do something good. You've got a couple of more months in which, especially in this legislation, to see that in many of the areas in which we can have affordable housing built on some of those lands that are contaminated, you put the resources there.
Put the resources in that and spend the money. Don't ask the private sector to do that, because what they will do is limit the resources to make sure they can have access to build on these lands, or as my colleague from St Catharines said, they will sit on that land until they think you've forgotten, and then build it anyhow and say it has reached an equivalent of being able to be built on.
We will not support this legislation. The fact is that although it may look like you have been going in the right direction, we saw you coming way down the road, and you've meant no good with this. It's only a show. There's still a little time, because you've got all that money. Stop giving it away to consulting companies. Do something with it. Do something good about it. Don't let the McClure Crescent and the radioactive soil happen again, as you did years ago, your government, and then we, the Liberal Party, had to come and clean that up. That's why we talk about good environmental laws. That's what you should do.
The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?
Mr Kormos: I regret that I may not have a chance to speak to this bill today, but I want to tell you that --
Mr Kormos: Well, Mr Marchese from Trinity-Spadina will have an opportunity to speak to the bill. He brings to it, I suppose, a big-city perspective. In comparison or in contrast --
Mr Kormos: Look, we know this has more than a little bit to do with the waterfront development, for instance, the Harbourfront development down here in Toronto. I've got to tell you, though, that the folks where I come from understand that Ontario does not begin and end at the intersection of Yonge and Bloor. People down in Welland, Thorold, Pelham and St Catharines live in what we like to call "the real Ontario." It's small-town Ontario.
I want to tell you, those people fought when this government was going to try to create a megacity and they won that fight. Every week that passes since that victory, the residents of the communities down in Niagara recall with pride their resistance to this government's agenda. This government wanted to turn them into another big parking lot for Toronto, another big suburb, the Scarborough of the south. Scarborough is a great community, but the folks who have to commute to and from Scarborough to downtown Toronto and have to pay some pretty outrageous rents, especially now with the abandonment of rent control, know exactly what I'm talking about.
Communities like Welland, Thorold, Pelham and St Catharines are eager to truly have partners with the government that will help them meaningfully deal with the brownfields situations they endure.
The Acting Speaker: The member for Nepean-Carleton, come to order.
Mr Kormos: This bill will provide them some modest avenues, but at the end of the day, it continues to deny them the resources they need to remediate tainted land and turn it back into productive land.
Mr Beaubien: It's a pleasure to rise and speak on Bill 110, and I'll repeat, Bill 110, for the people who are watching at home, because I'm sure that if they're listening or at home and watching, they're probably wondering what we are talking about. We're speaking on Bill 110, which is the Quality in the Classroom Act, 2001. I hear the member from Scarborough-Rouge talk about clean land, clean water --
Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Could you make sure that we understand. Have we changed the order all of a sudden, because I just heard the government member switch the order very quickly here?
The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order.
The Chair recognizes the member for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex. He has about a minute and a half left.
Mr Beaubien: Anyway, for those who are listening, people are probably somewhat confused. I think when we look at the things you talked about today -- and you talk about being cut off in debate in the past. When we talk about the issues that you were talking about, as opposed to the issues that we should be talking about, there's no wonder that sometimes you are cut off debating in the House.
Mr Bradley: I thought the member brought forward the issues related to this legislation extremely well. I didn't know we had switched to Bill 110. I know originally on the order paper, for people who may be watching at home, the government suggested it was going to be dealing with an education bill.
Of course, the member for Scarborough-Rouge River was speaking about the bill we are dealing with, which deals with brownfields. He knows from his experience what the problems are, what you're going to confront. It takes an investment of funds -- and I think it's a good investment; I would applaud the government to make this kind of investment -- to ensure that these properties are cleaned up so that they can be used for municipal purposes, perhaps provincial purposes in some cases or for private purposes. Sometimes there is going to be a component where the provincial government may have an opportunity to make part of that investment, probably in a partnership in many cases, probably not on its own, and this government has been encouraging partnerships. So the member makes a valid point there.
He also knows that within his riding, and he mentioned McClure Crescent, for instance, that there is sometimes a need for a special cleanup. In this case, it was radioactive material; in other cases, it may be other contaminants. If we're to have development on any of this land, we want to ensure that there's nothing left on the property that might impact upon the health of the people who reside there. The most obvious case you and I would know, Mr Speaker, would be if there were an old municipal dump and you built on top of that. We know there's methane gas that comes out of that. We want to have the Ministry of the Environment with a full staff and a full complement and all of its instruments down evaluating the land and then processing an approval. You need the staff to do that, you need the financial resources, and the member is right when he contends that.
Mr Bisson: I kind of heard the debate. I heard the member who was speaking from the opposition party, Scarborough, speak to what is Bill 56, brownfields. I guess if you add 56 and 56 together it's close enough to 110 to allow the member from Lambton to say we were speaking to Bill 110. It's a new sort of math that the Tories have. So I thought that was kind of an interesting comment.
Mr Kormos: Was the member for Lambton embarrassed?
Mr Bisson: I don't know. I can't quite figure out what happened there. Anyway, that was kind of interesting. He was speaking to Bill 56.
I just want to repeat for the record, it is important to say that we, as New Democrats, support generally where the legislation is going and we will vote for the legislation. But --
Mr Bisson: It's my two minutes, House leader. Just wait a second, all right?
I was just going to say, we generally are in support of the legislation and we will vote in favour because we think the legislation itself is workable; there are a few problems we have to work on. But we say, as the New Democratic Party, the party with ideas, one of the ideas that you can do to add to this particular bill would be to put in place a financial vehicle to assist municipalities and, yes, private sector-public sector development of brownfield developments. As an example, you could set up a program that would be cost-shared by way of the federal, provincial and municipal governments in order to assist in spreading the cost over a greater number of partners when it comes to redeveloping brownfields. We think that would make it interesting for municipalities. The federal and provincial governments would get something.
There's a point that needs to be made: those industries that caused the brownfields paid taxes to both the federal and provincial governments for years. So we also have a responsibility to put some money back. We're saying, as the party with ideas, the New Democratic Party, you should at this point have the province pay up its part because we certainly profited by those companies polluting. We should assist --
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member for Scarborough-Rouge River has two minutes to respond.
Mr Curling: That's why I enjoy this place, as a place of democracy, where one can really speak one's mind. At one time the third party was rigidly for protecting the environment and we, the Liberals, were saying that this is completely inadequate legislation. I understand now that the NDP will be voting with the government for this kind of legislation.
We got a bit tough on this government, because it's the only language they understand. We will not vote for this legislation because it's inadequate, completely inadequate to bring about safe and clean, uncontaminated soil and a good cleanup, because the resources are not there. We've got to send a clear message to the government. We will not support that kind of legislation.
However, in this democracy, one has the right to do so. As the third party wishes to do so, it is their right. But let us emphasize again -- I just want to make this emphasis: even when I was a minister within the cabinet, I could not easily push anything through, although we wanted to build housing, because we had a tough Minister of the Environment. So even within the cabinet, they were saying, "No. We cannot proceed unless we meet these kinds of requirements."
It seems to me there's a difference over there. They just ram it through, of course, all in the interest of passing on their responsibility to the private sector and then let them do it. Of course, it is a government responsibility to make sure that this happened. Even if they're not putting a lot of money into it to do the actual cleanup and have the developers doing that, I think what we should be doing is having enough inspectors -- and, of course, legislation that is tough enough that it cannot be bypassed in any way. I don't think this has done it. It says it, but it isn't going to do it because you haven't got the resources to do.
So we will not be voting for this. I want to thank you all for your comments.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Marchese: Thank you, Jim. I appreciate the applause and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill. I've got a mere 10 minutes, I'm told. Imagine, limiting the time that members have to speak on bills. It's insane.
Hon Mr Baird: I think the public would support us on this.
Mr Marchese: No, the public likes to see us speak. They do. I know that.
Hon Mr Baird: You.
Mr Marchese: They like to see us all speak, not just me.
Mr Kormos: They'd like to know what the government members have to say.
Mr Marchese: They would love the members of this government to speak on these bills so they could say, "Yeah, we like it for the following reasons." But have you seen anyone -- quite right, Peter -- have you seen any member stand up today to say that they support this bill and why? Not one.
Mr Kormos: Maybe the government members don't support this bill.
Mr Marchese: And they have to silence them, you mean.
Mr Kormos: Yes.
Mr Marchese: I don't know. But I have a mere nine minutes to say what I need to say.
I want to say to the Minister of Social Services, why is it that you've called this bill the Brownfields Statute Law Amendment Act? I've got to tell you, John, the majority of Ontarians don't have a clue what brownfields are. You know that. Why wouldn't you help the good citizens of Ontario to demystify this brownfield label that is before us? It makes no sense, because normally you guys are very good at manufacturing good titles. Normally you wouldn't call it something that the majority of people find too abstract and couldn't understand. Normally you would help them to say, "Hah! We can call this the Clean Up Former Industrial Sites Statute Law." That's what I expect from you guys, but you're failing the public. You're confusing the Ontario public. I don't get it. I want to see this Conservative government continue to demystify these bills as you have done for six years.
Hon Mr Baird: You wasted two minutes on this.
Mr Marchese: I think it's important.
I do want to say -- because so far John doesn't like what he's heard, so I need to move on. We've got to please the minister; otherwise he won't stay in this place. I say to him that the majority of people who came to committee were supportive. They were, and for good reasons.
Municipalities and other associations came to support the bill because better this measure than no measure at all to deal with the issues of contaminated sites that, in some cases, are very dangerous to our health, to our communities. Better that they be redeveloped for good public use and public purposes than not to be developed. So I can appreciate the fact that the majority of people who came in front of our committee would support the bill, and obviously they do so for good reasons.
We see this as key to revitalizing downtowns throughout the province. We see it as a way to make sure that potentially dangerous sites are cleaned up and redeveloped in ways that we hope can be appropriate developments, if not progressive redevelopments, of these sites. But we wait with good anticipation to see what some of the people who are willing to buy up these sites, including municipalities, will do with them.
We support the bill. It's not often the opposition parties say that we support a bill. I believe this is the second time in six years that I've said I support a bill that this government has introduced. The other one was the Student Protection Act. So there aren't too many times. When the government introduces a bill that is somewhat modestly good, we have to say it's OK, and that's what I obviously wanted to do with this particular bill.
There are some difficulties with the bill, some problems that I would state for the benefit of those of you who are watching. There is a provision in this bill that allows municipalities to give tax relief connected to a remediation of brownfields. The problem with this is that it enables municipalities to provide tax relief. The justification given by the government is that any site that is redeveloped, or at least developed, provides future revenues to the city. Therefore they indirectly can give tax relief because they benefit through future taxation of those sites and those buildings. In this way they justify why provincial governments are not providing any measure fiscally to help the redevelopment of these sites but rather leave that sorry job to the municipalities that are so bankrupt because of the policies of this government.
Those poor municipalities are going to have to find a way, poor as they are. Because of the downloading of so many responsibilities to the city, in order to redevelop these sites, these brownfields, they will have to provide tax relief, because there may not be any other way to entice the private sector to come in and do the job that properly belongs to the provincial level of government, which has greater fiscal policies to work with and which could provide the tax relief to those who would want to redevelop the sites. But they leave the job to the cities, and the cities, sadly I say, say, "OK, better this than nothing."
It surprises me that the cities didn't say, "This is not going to be good. We're not sure we're going to have it within our means to assist the private sector to redevelop their sites." I was a bit surprised. In Hamilton, I hear, some of them are complaining about this not oversight but measure that leaves it solely to the city to finance some of these developments.
Mr Kormos: In Niagara too.
Mr Marchese: In Niagara they protested as well?
Mr Kormos: They're concerned. They've been downloaded.
Mr Marchese: That's my point. In Niagara they're concerned, and they ought to be -- that is precisely my point -- because they don't have any money to provide tax relief.
Mr Kormos: Not with this government.
Mr Marchese: I already pointed out that this government downloaded housing 100% to the property taxpayer and the tenants who pay taxes, as you know.
They have downloaded transit. Now, through their generosity, they have decided to put back some money into transit because they realize cities are bankrupt. They've taken back GO Transit because they knew the cities couldn't pay. We asked the government pointedly, "Are you taking it back to privatize?" and they wouldn't say no, which leads us to believe that perhaps they're taking GO back to privatize it, but that's another story for another time.
But they've downloaded housing completely. They've got --
Mr Marchese: What is it, Mr Guzzo?
Mr Guzzo: That's a good story. Stay on it.
Mr Marchese: I'd like to but I only have two more minutes. I can't take all the time simply to devote myself to this issue, except to make reference to it.
My point is that cities cannot, on the backs of the property taxpayer, continue to finance things that properly belong to you, the province; you who have the fiscal powers to raise money through the keeping of the PST at the high level of 8%, through the income tax system. And you're not even doing a good job of that because you are giving it all away to the corporate sector and to the rich Ontarians who really don't need your money, while hundreds of thousands of people are falling lower and lower in their socio-economic status. Wealthy people are getting wealthier and the people at the bottom, working people, the 50% of working people who earn only 30,000 bucks, are descending, going down, in their socio-economic status under you people when you've had such a great economy.
The point is that cities are broke. They're bankrupt because you put them in that state. So you've given them the ability to be able to provide tax relief if they develop their brownfield sites. I am surprised that there weren't that many politicians across Ontario who would come to decry these measures as being insufficient, that it goes on the backs of the cities again to provide relief for the redevelopment of these sites. I marvelled at it.
All I can say is, let's see how this legislation works. Hopefully, sites will be redeveloped in our cities as a way of intensifying development so we don't have further urban sprawl such as the like of this government, which loves urban sprawl and loves the fact that people are just building outside of our cities where they don't have the infrastructure. The point of intensification and of developing these sites is so we have the infrastructure and they can build in our cities where we can accommodate them because the services are there. Let's just hope these measures are adequate. I believe they won't be adequate. I believe we are going to need the provincial government to step in and provide the relief for the private sector to come in jointly or to come in on their own and redevelop their sites.
I wait to see that day. But in the meantime, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt and support this bill.
The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?
Mr Bradley: Certainly from the point of view of somebody from Toronto -- I used to call it "Metropolitan Toronto," but now the city of Toronto -- the member from Trinity-Spadina has identified many of the problems with this legislation. We hate to harp on it, and I know he hated to harp on it when he spoke about it, but it takes an investment of funds to ensure this kind of development takes place. Should it all be government money? Absolutely not. But this government, wisely or unwisely -- and I think there is some wisdom in it -- has looked toward some partnerships out there between various sectors within the public sector and between the public and private sectors.
If you've got property within the city of Toronto, for instance, which has to be redeveloped, and developers, private people, look at it and say, "There's no way we're going to touch this with a 10-foot pole," then it seems to me that perhaps some of the investments the city can put in to make it a more attractive development are going to be worthwhile. You'll say, "Aren't you assisting those who want to develop land?" Well, you do that now in the following ways: we build roads, sewers and highways which now take us out into a huge suburbia that's called urban sprawl. You can also encourage development often within the confines of the older areas of the city by a public investment. Municipalities are often able to make this investment but they need some financial assistance from the province. The member for Trinity-Spadina has pointed out most appropriately the importance of having that investment -- not of throwing it away in a $2-billion tax gift to corporations, but rather investing it where it will really create jobs directly.
Mr Galt: I appreciate the comments made by the member from Trinity-Spadina. It was an interesting presentation. I appreciate the fact that this is indeed an excellent act and we should get on with it. I can follow where we might have a bit of criticism over the fact that it's long overdue. It probably should have come in long before we even came to government in 1995. It's something that has been happening in many other countries and states.
This is really about getting on with using land that's already serviced and is not really serving much use in a lot of communities. By getting these kinds of legislation in, we can get on with doing that. It's the kind of thing that is really going to be helpful in the province of Ontario to create jobs. So I think the sooner we get on with voting on this and encourage the support -- I'm sure the opposition can see the real advantage in this bill.
The Acting Speaker: The member for Trinity-Spadina has two minutes to respond.
Mr Marchese: I appreciate the comments made by the member from St Catharines. I don't know about the member from Northumberland because I'm not sure what he was saying by way of my comments.
The point is that there have been a number of measures taken in this bill to make sure that redevelopment of these contaminated sites happens. There have been some liability protections built in. We hope they will be adequate to get the private sector to come and redevelop these sites. We don't know yet. But you have built in some liability protections which you have amended in the clause-by-clause, and we say, and we worry, that it may not be sufficient, but we don't know. We hope it will be. But the other measures that we've talked about have to do with provincial involvement in the redevelopment of these contaminated sites or the cleanup of these sites.
My point is that the Americans have invested millions and millions of dollars in their cities to deal with issues of transit, to deal with issues of housing, to deal with general infrastructural kinds of programs -- millions of dollars spent by the federal and state governments and the city levels. This government is doing so very little that it amazes me nobody has screamed against the lack of activity by this government.
The Americans have what's called a Community Reinvestment Act, which obliges banks to invest a certain percentage of their money in those communities so they can revitalize their neighbourhoods, and it's not just for brownfields but everything in those low-income and modest-income areas. We don't even have such measures. The point of these measures is, you need state involvement, provincial and federal involvement, and we have so very little of it. We hope your bill will be adequate. We'll wait and see.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell): I too appreciate speaking on this bill today. There are times that you prefer speaking on some bills more than others, and this one is really close to my heart. The reason I say it's close to my heart is because I want to see if this government is going to take its own responsibility.
We are going to oppose the bill. For sure, the Liberal Party will not support this bill, neither Dalton McGuinty nor the rest of the caucus. The reason for that is because at the present time we're trying to download to the municipalities a responsibility without any financial support. It's like transferring an empty toolbox.
The reason I'm saying that this one is close to my heart and I want to know if this government is going to take responsibility is because I'm going to refer to a report that I have right here that I received today from Louis Veilleux from the town of Hawkesbury about a property that is owned by this government, MNR, contaminated land of which is diverted to the Ottawa River. The intake of the Hawkesbury filtration plant is right next to this outfall.
The report was prepared by Neil A. Levac Engineering. It goes back to May 20, 1999. It advised the government of the amount of contaminated land that we have there. It also refers to the cost. It would cost the owner of the land $80 million to clean up that pond. At the present time, the ministry is fully aware of the contaminated land, but it seems to be that it is too costly for the government to go ahead with the cleaning. True, there's only a certain part of it, 25 acres within this 220 acres of land, but this wet lagoon contains 350,000 cubic metres of contaminated sludge, which is transferred to another lagoon and then the second time it goes to the Ottawa River. It's been proven.
Right in the centre of the town of Hawkesbury, CIP was opened up way back in 1890 by a company called Reardon Co and then operated by Canadian International Paper from 1921 to 1982. Then why is it MNR turned around and bought this piece of property? I don't know why. I think it is the responsibility of this government to make sure that within the city limits of the town of Hawkesbury we clean up our mess. If the mess was caused by CIP at the time, why is it that MNR has gone ahead to purchase that piece of land? Now it is the responsibility of this government to make sure that this piece of land right in the centre of the town of Hawkesbury is cleaned up. Is it because it is going to cost $80 million to this government? I'm sure that the town of Hawkesbury cannot afford having this land cleaned up. But I wonder, with this bill, are we going to take our own responsibility and decide to clean it up? We could have a nice housing development in there; we could have a nice golf course in there. Anything could be built within the city limits of the beautiful town of Hawkesbury, which has the nicest centre-of-town commercial area within the whole of eastern Ontario. I just wonder why this government is trying to pass this on to the municipality.
I'm going to give you a good example, Mr Speaker. According to this bill, if I own a piece of land or a property large enough that I could sever, I apply for a severance. The severance is accepted, approved and then I turn around and I find that part of that land, that property, is contaminated. I will decide not to pay my taxes. After three years it's going to go to an auction, whoever wants to buy it. But the municipality will have a responsibility to tell the future buyer that this land is contaminated. So nobody will buy it, but it's going to be left to the municipality to clean up that mess, and that mess will be caused by this government by having Bill 56 pass.
I'm going to tell you, in the rural sector at the present time, in the area of Glengarry, I have a poor family, Mme Sauvé from Glen Robertson, who bought this property about 20 years ago. All of a sudden we discover the land around the home is contaminated. So she decides to hire a company, $48,000 for this poor young family that they had to pay for. Now the MOE is saying the contaminated land is over their property to the next property to the next street. This young family is responsible for the cleaning up of all this surrounding area. Will this government come up with some financial support for those people?
I have a place in Plantagenet the same way, in Alexandria. This poor lady, 91 years of age, was advised a couple of months ago that her property is contaminated and the next-door property is contaminated. Now they're trying to blame this lady of 91 years of age. What are we going to do to try and help out this poor lady? The family lives in Cornwall. They're after me, they're after the government, to see if there's any help that could come up to help this poor lady. There isn't any.
In this bill at the present time I just can't see how we would solve this problem. It is going to be left to all the municipalities or the poor families to say, "Yes, you are stuck here. You bought the property. Even though you didn't know that the land was contaminated, it becomes your responsibility." You could rest assured, there will be a lot of municipalities stuck with pieces of land.
This poor gentleman, going back to 1995, prior to my coming in as an MPP for this area, came to me one day and said, "The ditch in my backyard is contaminated. It's full of diesel oil." I went over to see him and I said, "You have a major problem, sir." When I told him that he had a major problem and to contact a certain person, the guy died of a heart attack immediately. My recommendation would have been to apply for a severance as soon as possible, detach that piece of land off his property and let it go to the government or to the municipality because he could not afford it. This poor man today is about six feet below the surface of the ground.
This is what is going to happen with this bill. Municipalities have to go and proceed with the cleaning of contaminated land. Who's going to pay for it? There's only one taxpayer, and this time it's going to be the local taxpayer who will be paying for this beautiful mess that will be created by this province.
When I look at this, the amount of this contaminated land in Hawkesbury is unbelievable. I remember operating the Ottawa River committee as president, and the vice-president was and still is the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Brian Coburn. We were both involved in the Ottawa River, and people were calling us because the river was being contaminated by cottages and in this case by the Ontario government because of this lagoon diverting the water to the Ottawa River.
The ministry had asked us at the time, since we had cleaned up the whole Ottawa River, if we would take over this project. They would give us the money, hire some consultants, hire some engineers to remove all this contaminated land. I'm not an expert in that field, and none of my people working for me at that time -- there were 107 of them -- were experts. But why has this government not taken its responsibility in cleaning up that piece of land which the MNR bought in 1965? That was 1965. We're going back 36 years, and today we are coming out with this bill, telling people that the responsibility will be left to the municipalities. Shame on you. It's you people, the government of Ontario, who should be taking care of it.
The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?
Mr Bob Wood (London West): I want to respond only very briefly to what the member said. I think he quite correctly set out some of the problems that exist in this area. But what I would like to invite him to consider is that this bill does move us toward better solutions than we've had in the past.
It is quite true that there are sites which were contaminated without people realizing the extent to which they were contaminating, and in some cases they may not have even understood they were contaminating at all. That's a fact of life here in this province and across the world. I think, however, while he well described some of the problems, he perhaps understated the solutions this bill offers. I would invite him and other members of the House to see this bill as a significant step forward.
Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): I'm pleased to respond to my colleague's statement. I do so, recognizing that I believe he is the last speaker for our party, to say that this is one of those situations where I know opposition parties are often in a dilemma. There is no doubt that there are important steps forward in this bill. We have looked at it carefully. We proposed a number of amendments to the legislation that the government rejected in committee. Accordingly, we will vote against this. We do not support this bill on third reading. It was our hope that there would have been other changes brought to the legislation; there weren't.
The kind of situation my colleague from Prescott raised is one of a number of situations that the bill falls short on. A number of my other colleagues have raised other issues in their communities. My community of Windsor has many of these so-called brownfield sites, and we recognize that this legislation is a step, but it's not a big enough step. We think it would have been better for the government to have brought forward a more comprehensive piece of legislation to deal with an obviously serious problem. It has plagued and will continue to plague most municipalities in this great province of ours.
Accordingly, the type of example he cited, the types of examples that have been mentioned by my colleagues and my own experience in the city of Windsor with these sites have led us to decide that we cannot support this bill because, number one, it doesn't go far enough. Number two, in order for this to be given practical significance -- that is, applicability, a way of enforcement, if you will -- there has to be a commitment by this government to make sure that will happen. We don't believe that's there.
We look forward two years from now when we can amend this legislation, when we'll be the government, with more teeth, more meaning and something that will really do the job the way the government doesn't want to do it.
Mr Kormos: I, in short order before 6 o'clock, will be the last speaker for this caucus. Folks down where I live are watching this on Cogeco cable right now, or at least the ones whose cable is working are watching it, where the cable hasn't cut out, as it does from time to time, or the ones whose cable reception is clear enough, where it isn't all staticky from Congeco and, quite frankly, from cable companies in other parts of the province too, where there is so much bleeding from one channel to the other that the channel is indecipherable.
I should tell you, to that end, I have been investigating low-tech antennas. Down where we live in Niagara region, with a low-tech antenna, for a one-time-only payment, you can pick up all of Toronto, all of Hamilton, you can pick up Peterborough, you can pick up all of Buffalo, all the US networks, and never pay a penny again for the rest of your life. It's called an antenna.
For the life of me, I don't understand why people are continuing to pay outrageous cable charges for bad-quality reception, intermittent service and hour-long waits on the telephone when you've got a problem, only to be told that somebody can't come out this week or this month. You're calling some call centre in who knows where in Canada or the Caribbean. I don't understand why more folks aren't doing what I'm doing, and that's looking at an old-fashioned antenna as an option. You never pay again.
If you really want to pay every month, Bell ExpressVu has incredible 18-inch satellites, an incredible quality signal and monthly fees that are far lower than what cable provides, as well as the opportunity to install more than one television set. I'll speak to that in about two more minutes.
The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. The member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell has two minutes to respond.
Mr Lalonde: I appreciate the comments of the members for London West, Windsor-St Clair and Niagara Centre, but I really appreciate the comments of the member for London West. He mentioned, "This time we will be coming up with a better solution than we ever had before or that we had in the past." But why has this government not taken responsibility since 1965?
I know this government has been saying all along, "A promise made, a promise kept." I remember in the 1999 election we said we would clean up the environment. We would become one of the best provinces in Canada on the environment side. We are still at the bottom of the list.
Definitely, I would be pleased to give a copy of this report, prepared by Neil A. Levac Engineering. This report would probably open up the eyes of every one of you to see how this government has done with a report like this. They haven't done anything.
The Acting Speaker: Order. The members for Simcoe North and Windsor-St Clair, come to order. I will not have this yelling back and forth. I will not warn the member for Windsor-St Clair again.
Mr Lalonde: Sometimes when we tell the truth, some people don't like us to tell the truth, but as I always tell my constituents, if I were to tell a lie, I wouldn't be sitting here.
Again, let's hope this government -- I know it is going to pass, even though we'll vote against it, but let's see if this government is going to take its own responsibility over the cleanup of this site in Hawkesbury, CIP, the former pulp and paper mill.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
The Acting Speaker: The members for Huron-Bruce and Scarborough Centre, come to order.
Mr Kormos: Are the government backbenchers getting a little tired or just a little cranky? They seem to be a little squawky. They've occupied so much of the Speaker's time this afternoon having to admonish them to tone down their conduct. I'll apologize in advance to them, because they seem to be so hypersensitive about something.
Was in fact another poll commissioned by your party? Is there something you'd like to share with us that maybe we could help you cope with or get through, rather than you people sitting there miserable and cranky and squawky? My goodness.
I want to tell you about Thorold. Just a couple of weekends ago I was down in Thorold with the mayor, Robin Davidson, as she, along with some people from an operation called Keefer Developments, unveiled the proposed project for the old Gallaher Paper mill site. That's right in downtown Thorold. It's a historic factory site. Keefer Developments, a local consortium of developers, have embarked on a very ambitious and, at the same time, a very clever proposal for the Gallaher Paper site.
One of the neat things about it is that the people who run the Book Depot -- the Book Depot is an operation that sells remaindered books -- are going to use the actual factory site. They're going to be the cornerstone retailer in that site. It is going to be the largest book retail store in all of North America and, for that matter, probably all of the world. If you've ever been to the Book Depot down in St Catharines, you know that you're buying new books. The really incredible thing is the lithographed books with the colour plates, art books, photography books, those sorts of specialty books which can retail for $75, $80, $100. Book Depot sells brand new -- they're pristine; they're mint -- except they're remaindered. They're no longer on the bestseller list of the Globe and Mail book review. You pick up an $80 book for $10, for instance.
The project in Thorold at Gallaher Paper is going to be an incredibly exciting thing. The biggest single challenge that those developers have is that they're developing on a historic and very old industrial site. The cleanup, the remediation, of that land -- if there's any stumbling block at all, it's going to be the remediation of that land. The problem is that even in terms of their planning and budgeting, they can project what they expect it'll cost, but of course once they start digging, once they start testing, they may come up with some remarkable surprises.
Thorold is struggling in a climate where, obviously, Gallaher Paper -- it's gone. I remember being here in this Legislature, standing on how many occasions, and how many meetings and how many bits of correspondence with this government, who weren't prepared, weren't interested in intervening at all in an effort to maintain Gallaher Paper and the quality jobs that it provided, as it had for decades for hard-working women and men in Thorold. This government hasn't done any particular favours for small-town Ontario, small industrial town Ontario, places like Thorold that have seen major industries wiped off the face of their maps, with this government showing no interest whatsoever in providing any assistance to maintain those good-quality jobs.
Oh, there have been new jobs in Niagara over the course of the last several years. The problem is that they all end in the fall when the tourists stop coming to Niagara Falls. They are $6.85-an-hour jobs in the service industry and the hospitality industry, the sort of jobs that people used to do as students. Unfortunately, now those students can't do those jobs because their parents are working at those jobs because their parents have lost their jobs at places like Gallaher, or Union Carbide in Welland.
You remember this government's absolute refusal, this government's inability to even show any interest in the loss of those jobs, never mind the loss of jobs in the engineering company down in Port Colborne, in the shipping-engineering company down in Port Colborne. Again, good-quality jobs, skilled tradespeople, women and men, wiped off the face of Mike Harris's Ontario, and this government showing nothing but disdain and shrugging its shoulders and saying, "Oh well, too bad, so sad" for those workers and their families and the communities that relied upon those jobs to sustain local economies.
What those job losses have done is left behind huge tracts of land about which the label "brownfields" is entirely appropriate. Cities like Welland, Thorold and St Catharines are eager. I can take you on a tour of Welland. I'll take you on a little tour of Welland right now. I can take you down to the old Reliance Electric site on Denistoun Street. I could take you up to the old foundry site. You know where I mean? Right there on Niagara Street, just beside the Welland River, the one that burned down around 10 or 15 years ago. I could take you to the Welmet site. I can take you, yes, to the huge, large acreage Union Carbide site on the old canal.
All those lands require extensive remediation before they can be put to any productive use, even the lowest level of use. Communities down in Niagara, just like communities across Ontario, have been beaten up on too badly for too long by this government to be able to afford the incredibly expensive undertaking in the remediation of this land. When there is the potential for private sector investment, the remediation and the uncertainty about what could be considerable costs, well beyond most projected or well beyond those considered to be appropriate to make the project feasible, are what will derail these projects, not any lack of will on the part of local leadership in those communities, not any lack of interest on the part of, yes, private sector developers. That's why.
Welland doesn't have the big tax base Toronto does. Thorold doesn't have the sort of commercial assessment Toronto does. This is small-town Ontario that's been gutted by this government's downloading, small-town Ontario that's been gutted by this government's promotion -- I say it has been a promotion of the deindustrialization of Ontario and the transfer of jobs from the value-added manufacturing-industrial sector over to the service sector.
The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Brampton Centre come to order.
Mr Kormos: This government's maintenance of minimum wage at $6.85 for the last seven years --
The Acting Speaker: I'll not warn the member for Brampton Centre again.
Mr Kormos: These MPPs in this Legislature were prepared to give themselves huge raises with the stroke of a pen, with not a peep of debate --
The Acting Speaker: The member for London-Fanshawe, come to order.
Mr Kormos: -- yet minimum-wage workers have been beaten up by this government, have been shrugged off --
The Acting Speaker: I'll not warn the members for Huron-Bruce or London-Fanshawe again.
Mr Kormos: -- and treated with disdain and disregard by this government and by every one of its backbenchers who refuses to stand up and say they're going to stand with hard-working women and men, the women and men who have been forced to subsist on minimum wages for seven years as a result of this government's abandonment of them.
The fact is that this government's tax breaks don't apply to those folks who are making $6.85 an hour because they're not multi-million-dollar-a-year bank CEOs. They're not the president of Rogers Cable company, John --
Mr Bradley: Tory?
Mr Kormos: Oh, Tory, that's right. John Tory is very pleased with this government's tax cuts, because he makes a huge salary, even though his customers have to wait hours when they try to phone in after there's a cable breakdown to get the cable fixed, or angry customers have to wait hours when they phone. Have you noticed that with cable TV, how the channels bleed together? Cable has got to be the rottenest technology any resident of this province has ever had to endure. The problem is that the cable companies, be it Rogers, be it Cogeco, charge you a fortune. The rip-off is incredible. When we talk about organized crime tomorrow, we should be talking about the cable companies in Ontario. The rip-off by cable companies is incredible, yet it's the president of Rogers who got the huge tax cut, and the minimum-wage workers, and yes, some of those workers who work for those same cable companies are darn close to minimum wage, didn't see a penny of relief because their incomes are too low to even pay income tax, but they still have to pay sales tax, that flat tax, that regressive tax.
That's what's happening down in the communities where I come from. Those communities want to remediate land, they want to address the brownfield acreage within their boundaries, but without any assistance from this government, the sort of assistance that people in those communities deserve is not going to happen. The bill fails them and every other Ontarian in that regard.
The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I want to commend the member for Niagara Centre and assure the people out there that he knows of what he speaks. He comes from a part of the province where there are lots of brownfield sites that need to be cleaned up and put back into productive use in communities. But he knows, like I know, because I come from northern Ontario where we have lots of small communities which would like the support of government in cleaning up spots that have environmental problems attached to them, but alas, they just don't have the money. This government has not attached to this particular piece of legislation the resources that are necessary to actually help those communities do that.
I'm here to commend and support and present to the people out there for their further reading the Hansard where this speech is concerned.
Mr Bradley: I would be remiss if I didn't comment on my local member's -- because he represents the other side of the city of St Catharines -- comments today.
Mr Spina: You come from the same stripe.
Mr Bradley: He says we come from the same stripe. Certainly, we have had some degree of success at the polls; I would agree with that. It's strictly coincidental, I suppose.
I was interested in the comments the member made near the end of his speech today about the cable companies. I think that the local cable company made a major error when they took his program off the air, and they're paying the price now for taking that program off the air. It was one of the most entertaining programs I've ever witnessed. Some of the guests were people you would never expect to find on an MPP's cable show. I found it highly entertaining, very informative, to say the least; and they closed it down. Now they want you to come on and get interviewed for two minutes or something, and try to say in two minutes what of course would take half an hour to say.
What was good about those old programs -- and I happened to have one as well at one time -- was that you could have some interesting guests come on. I even had members of different political parties who came on my program. I was very fair to them. They got their point of view out. It was very ecumenical.
There's no question that the member has drawn to the attention of the public of Ontario some serious deficiencies in cable television, but I think the greatest deficiency was the removal of the Peter Kormos show from Cogeco TV, previously Rogers TV, in Niagara region.
The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?
The member for Niagara Centre has two minutes to respond.
Mr Kormos: No, thank you.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Hodgson has moved third reading of Bill 56, An Act to encourage the revitalization of contaminated land and to make other amendments relating to environmental matters. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour say "aye."
All those opposed say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
I declare the motion carried.
Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.
It being 6 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until 6:45.
The House adjourned at 1759.
Evening meeting reported in volume B.