LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L'ONTARIO

Wednesday 31 May 2006 Mercredi 31 mai 2006

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

ARTS EDUCATION

PHARMACISTS

CANADIAN FEDERATION
OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS

STRATFORD FESTIVAL /
LE FESTIVAL DE STRATFORD

CANADIAN FEDERATION
OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS

GREENHOUSE INDUSTRY

CARASSAUGA

SMOKE-FREE ONTARIO

VISITORS

SPECIAL REPORT, OMBUDSMAN

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS
AMENDMENT ACT
(WAGE SECURITY), 2006 /
LOI DE 2006 MODIFIANT LA LOI
SUR LES NORMES D'EMPLOI
(SÉCURITÉ SALARIALE)

VISITORS

MOTIONS

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS

HOUSE SITTINGS

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY AND RESPONSES

SMOKE-FREE ONTARIO /
UN ONTARIO SANS FUMÉE

SENIORS' MONTH

SMOKE-FREE ONTARIO

SENIORS' MONTH

SMOKE-FREE ONTARIO

SENIORS' MONTH

VISITEURS /
VISITORS

FRED BURR

ORAL QUESTIONS

ELECTRICITY SUPPLY

ENERGY CONSERVATION

ONTARIO DISABILITY
SUPPORT PROGRAM

NATIVE LAND DISPUTE

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS

SMOKE-FREE ONTARIO

NATIVE LAND DISPUTE

EDUCATION FUNDING

EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

PHARMACISTS

ARTS AND CULTURAL FUNDING

SERVICES FOR THE
DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED

PETITIONS

FREDERICK BANTING HOMESTEAD

TRADE DEVELOPMENT

HIGHWAY 35

TRADE DEVELOPMENT

LONG-TERM CARE

CONVENIENCE STORES

TRADE DEVELOPMENT

HIGHWAY 26

OPPOSITION DAY

PROVINCIAL PURCHASING POLICY /
POLITIQUE D'ACHAT PROVINCIALE


The House met at 1330.

Prayers.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Mr. Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): While this provincial government allowed the dispute in Caledonia/Six Nations to spiral out of control, young athletes have become collateral damage. The Six Nations Minor Baseball Association reports that athletes as young as five are missing out on their summer pastime as opposing teams are unwilling to show up.

As well, in a letter sent to coaches in the Haldimand Erie League, we read, "I know many people from both Six Nations and Caledonia are very upset about the way that this is affecting the relationship we have built up over the years. I would hope that all coaches would encourage their teams to participate and show some good sportsmanship." I certainly agree with that.

I've been receiving e-mails from people on all sides of this dispute, and I quote: "Six Nations has produced a lot of elite native athletes.... This is a time when elite athletes, native and non-native, could take a stand to promote good sportsmanship."

Nearly four years ago, I reported in the House that 180 athletes from Six Nations joined 6,500 other aboriginal athletes and coaches from across North America for the Indigenous Games. Things aren't quite so rosy right now, and the lack of leadership from the McGuinty government is a fact. I do call on community leaders, coaches and parents from all sides to rise above, to take a lead in promoting good sportsmanship and healthy competition among all athletes.

ARTS EDUCATION

Mr. Mario G. Racco (Thornhill): The Ontario government, under the leadership of Premier Dalton McGuinty, has invested nearly $25 million to promote arts education. Arts education is beneficial to students, improving student motivation, better attendance and reduced dropout rates. Arts education fosters tolerance and respect for diversity and builds self-confidence. Furthermore, the outcomes of arts education -- creativity, imagination, innovation and originality -- are among the most important resources for economic prosperity in the 21st century.

Youth involvement in the arts is alive and well in my riding of Thornhill and Concord. The positive effects of arts education can be highlighted by the recent success of the St. Elizabeth Catholic High School band. They won first place at the Kiwanis Music Festival in February and qualified for MusicFest Canada, a national competition in Ottawa, and achieved silver standard at the intermediate level. Mr. John Lettieri, director of the school band, says that the members of the band couldn't be happier.

I commend the government of Ontario for investing in the arts so that organizations such as the St. Elizabeth Catholic High School band can continue to enrich the educational and life experience of all young Ontarians.

PHARMACISTS

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer (Kitchener-Waterloo): Today, a grassroots organization, the Coalition of Ontario Pharmacy, representing pharmacists, health groups and patients, held a rally attended by several hundred people from across Ontario to urge the Liberal McGuinty government to fix Bill 102, the Transparent Drug System for Patients Act. As currently drafted, the bill puts community pharmacy at risk and, as a result, the health and welfare of patients. Despite the fact that this group represents over 80% of pharmacy in Ontario, Minister Smitherman has refused to meet with them. So much for consultation or transparency.

People from across Ontario gathered today to express concern that if Bill 102 passes in its current form, some pharmacies will close, there will be a reduction in services, increased wait times for prescriptions and decreased accessibility to pharmacists. They gathered to urge the government to take the time to consult and understand the economics and the value of the important services that patients rely on every day and trust their pharmacist to deliver.

These pharmacists and patient and health groups came to Queen's Park today because they care about their patients, and they believe Bill 102 puts patient care at risk. Let's hope the McGuinty government also shows that they care about patients and brings in amendments to put patients first.

CANADIAN FEDERATION
OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS

Mr. Michael Prue (Beaches-East York): Today I rise to talk about the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which are here today in the Legislature to meet members of the provincial Legislature. Today is their 35th anniversary, and that's 35 years that they have been acting on behalf of their members and on behalf of the people of this country and this province.

It is a very diverse group that I met today, and in fact, the CFIB is a very diverse group in and of itself. They make up people from all walks of business. They can be restaurateurs, they can be manufacturers, they can be importers/exporters -- literally anywhere that business can take people, the members will find themselves in the CFIB.

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They do wonderful work on behalf of their members. They're constantly doing surveys to find what their members think. They do analysis and present that analysis to all levels of government, including this one. They lobby on behalf of their members to make sure that politicians at all levels understand the needs of small and independent business. They are instrumental to new opportunities for development and growth. They are champions, I believe with all my heart, of tax reform and of the important contribution their many members make to the everyday life of Canadian society. Without them, it would be very difficult to organize and to have new jobs and new opportunities for people to work.

I salute them, and on behalf of the New Democratic Party we guarantee that we'll continue to work with them in the good work they do in our province.

STRATFORD FESTIVAL /
LE FESTIVAL DE STRATFORD

Mr. John Wilkinson (Perth-Middlesex): Monday night, all the drama was on our world-famous Festival stage as the 54th season of the Stratford Festival launched with a wonderful production of Coriolanus, one of Shakespeare's great tragedies. I was delighted to be joined by Ontario's new Minister of Culture, the Honourable Caroline Di Cocco.

Coriolanus is an exciting production, featuring two of the finest Shakespearean actors in the world, Canada's own Colm Feore and Martha Henry.

Drawing audiences of more than 600,000 each year, the Stratford Festival, Ontario's third most popular tourist attraction, runs this season from April to November. This year's season features a wonderful array of 15 productions, including four by Shakespeare offered at four theatres.

Le gouvernement McGuinty soutient le tourisme culturel et les arts. J'ai eu beaucoup de plaisir à me joindre à la ministre Di Cocco pour annoncer que le gouvernement accordait un financement spécial de 105 000 $ à la production canadienne de Don Juan, de Molière, du Festival de Stratford.

C'est la même troupe d'acteurs qui jouera la pièce en anglais et en français, et ce sera la première production bilingue de ce genre en 50 ans. Ce financement sera également utilisé pour encourager un nouveau partenariat de créativité entre le Festival de Stratford et le Théâtre du Nouveau Monde de Montréal.

I invite all members and their constituents to visit the Stratford Festival of Canada this season, and I stand ready to assist them. Finally, I commend artistic director Richard Monette, executive director Antoni Cimolino and the entire festival family for creating yet another wonderful season.

CANADIAN FEDERATION
OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS

Mr. Ted Chudleigh (Halton): Since 1971, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has been a big voice for small business all across Canada, including the CFIB's 42,000 members here in Ontario.

This organization began in 1971, after the Benson budget came down and did a lot of disservice to independent business people. John Bullock, a son of a tailor in Toronto, organized the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and was involved with it for many years. It's now being run by Catherine Swift.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is a diverse organization speaking on behalf of its small business members from different sectors and communities across all of Ontario. I know that all members of this Legislature are aware of the tremendous work the CFIB staff undertake in keeping us aware of their members' concerns and interests through research and reports such as regular mandate surveys, the Quarterly Business Barometer and presentations to various standing committees, as well as the CFIB's comprehensive website.

Our leader, John Tory, and members of the Progressive Conservative caucus look forward to working with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business to ensure the continued growth and success of small business in Ontario. Congratulations on your 35th anniversary of providing a voice for Ontario's economic engine: small and medium-sized enterprises and the source of over 80% of jobs in this province. Congratulations on your history. Keep up the good work for the future.

GREENHOUSE INDUSTRY

Mr. Bruce Crozier (Essex): I would like to welcome members of the Ontario Greenhouse Alliance, who are visiting us at the Legislature today. Formed in 2003, the alliance represents the largest cluster of greenhouse production in North America, and it's located right here in Ontario.

The greenhouse industry contributes $4 billion per year to our province's economy. In Ontario there are over 1,200 greenhouse operations, most of which are concentrated in and around the ridings of Essex and Chatham-Kent Essex and the Niagara region.

Greenhouse operations in Ontario employ more than 19,000 people, with over 19 million square metres of greenhouses, bringing substantial benefit to rural economies.

The greenhouse industry is an export-driven industry, which contributes $1.2 billion a year to Ontario's exports. Their competitive efficiency takes on the world marketplace and brings millions of new dollars into the Ontario economy, evidenced by the fact that it's one of the few sectors of agriculture to experience consistent, positive growth over the past decade.

Again, I welcome the Ontario Greenhouse Alliance to Queen's Park today, and remind members to stop by the legislative dining room this afternoon to meet some of their members and pick up a sample of their delicious vegetables and beautiful plants.

CARASSAUGA

Mr. Peter Fonseca (Mississauga East): It is with great pride that I rise in the House today to speak about one of Mississauga's cultural institutions.

Every year, the city of Mississauga comes together to celebrate its diversity through Carassauga, Mississauga's festival of cultures. This event took place over the course of this past weekend, May 26 through 29.

This year there were 25 different countries represented at Carassauga, with cultural pavilions being held not only in my riding of Mississauga East, but across the fine city of Mississauga.

Pavilions feature a variety of activities to share the culture of their country of origin, including music, food, art, fashion shows, dance, storytelling, humorous skits and games. Visitors can purchase a Carassauga passport and visit the numerous pavilions, travelling through the world's cultures without ever leaving Mississauga.

This government recognizes that this province's rich strength is drawn from its rich diversity. Events such as Carassauga allow Ontarians of diverse backgrounds to celebrate their heritage and share it with others.

This year is Carassauga's 21st anniversary. I'd like to take a moment to commend and thank all the people that have volunteered or sponsored the event over the past two decades. Their tireless efforts and dedication have allowed generations of Mississaugans and Ontarians to learn about the culture and traditions of our global neighbours.

SMOKE-FREE ONTARIO

Ms. Deborah Matthews (London North Centre): I'm proud to speak in the House today on the first day of a smoke-free Ontario.

This past Monday, I had the honour of presenting smoke-free awards at a ceremony at the Middlesex-London Health Unit, a ceremony that reaffirmed this government's commitment to having healthier people in a healthier province.

At the health unit in my riding of London North Centre, I presented a team of volunteers with the Heather Crowe Award and the Smoke Free Champions Award.

It was a especially meaningful for me to present the awards one week after the award's namesake, Heather Crowe, passed away. Ms. Crowe was a trailblazing advocate for non-smoking and I'm sure she would be pleased to see her life's work continue today.

When I heard about the award nominations earlier in the year, my first thought was to nominate the technical implementation program for their work. I want to recognize the program's leadership and their tireless efforts that informed the city of London's anti-smoking bylaws. Thanks to the local-level and grassroots work of people like Heather Crowe Award winners Mary Lou Albanese, Patricia Coderre, Jon Coughlin, Dr. Stanley Hill, Harvey Katz, Don Lowry, Scott Mead, Frank Stilson, Rosemary Dickinson and Dr. Graham Pollett, we're breathing easier in a smoke-free Ontario today.

I'd also like to welcome a smoke-free champion, Janet McAlistair, to the Legislature today.

VISITORS

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar (Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: It is my pleasure to ask members of the Legislature to join me in congratulating the Canadian Federation of Independent Business on their 35th anniversary and to welcome Judith Andrew, Ontario vice-president, Catherine Swift, Canadian president, and their colleagues from all over Canada. I had the pleasure of joining them for lunch today and I want to congratulate them for their tremendous work.

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SPECIAL REPORT, OMBUDSMAN

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): I beg to inform the House that I have laid upon the table a report of the Ombudsman of Ontario made pursuant to section 21 of the Ombudsman Act relating to the Ontario disability support program's disability adjudication unit.

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): I beg to inform the House that today the Clerk received the report on intended appointments dated May 31, 2006, of the standing committee on government agencies. Pursuant to standing order 106(e)9, the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Mr. Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth): With the consent of the House, I would like to introduce a bill on behalf of the member for Niagara Centre, Mr. Kormos.

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Mr. Tabuns has asked for unanimous consent to present a bill to the House on behalf of the member for Niagara Centre. Agreed? Agreed.

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS
AMENDMENT ACT
(WAGE SECURITY), 2006 /
LOI DE 2006 MODIFIANT LA LOI
SUR LES NORMES D'EMPLOI
(SÉCURITÉ SALARIALE)

Mr. Tabuns, on behalf of Mr. Kormos, moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 119, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 to provide for an Employee Wage Security Program / Projet de loi 119, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2000 sur les normes d'emploi afin d'établir un programme de sécurité salariale des employés.

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

The member may wish to make a brief statement.

Mr. Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth): The intention of the bill is to provide replacement wages for those workers who have been denied their wages by an employer who has failed to live up to his commitments.

VISITORS

Ms. Judy Marsales (Hamilton West): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I'd like to welcome, in the members' gallery, Mr. David Shuttleworth, who is an advocate for Hamilton and a Hamiltonian as well as a radio personality with one of our local stations, K-Lite FM.

MOTIONS

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS

Hon. James J. Bradley (Minister of Tourism, minister responsible for seniors, Government House Leader): I seek unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding private members' public business.

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Mr. Bradley has asked for unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding private members' public business. Agreed? Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Bradley: I move that, notwithstanding standing order 96(d), the following change be made to the ballot list of private members' public business: Mr. Bisson and Mr. Prue exchange places in order of precedence such that Mr. Bisson assumes ballot item 57 and Mr. Prue assumes ballot item 42, and that, pursuant to standing order 96(g), notice be waived for ballot item 42.

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

HOUSE SITTINGS

Hon. James J. Bradley (Minister of Tourism, minister responsible for seniors, Government House Leader): I move that, pursuant to standing order 9(c)(i), the House shall meet from 6:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, 2006, for the purpose of considering government business.

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All in favour will say "aye."

All opposed will say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1355 to 1400.

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

Ayes

Arnott, Ted

Arthurs, Wayne

Balkissoon, Bas

Barrett, Toby

Bartolucci, Rick

Bentley, Christopher

Berardinetti, Lorenzo

Bountrogianni, Marie

Bradley, James J.

Broten, Laurel C.

Cansfield, Donna H.

Caplan, David

Chambers, Mary Anne V.

Colle, Mike

Crozier, Bruce

Delaney, Bob

Di Cocco, Caroline

Dombrowsky, Leona

Duguid, Brad

Elliott, Christine

Flynn, Kevin Daniel

Fonseca, Peter

Gerretsen, John

Gravelle, Michael

Hardeman, Ernie

Hoy, Pat

Jeffrey, Linda

Kwinter, Monte

Levac, Dave

MacLeod, Lisa

Marsales, Judy

Martiniuk, Gerry

Matthews, Deborah

McMeekin, Ted

McNeely, Phil

Milloy, John

Mitchell, Carol

Munro, Julia

O'Toole, John

Orazietti, David

Parsons, Ernie

Patten, Richard

Phillips, Gerry

Pupatello, Sandra

Qaadri, Shafiq

Racco, Mario G.

Ramal, Khalil

Ramsay, David

Runciman, Robert W.

Ruprecht, Tony

Sandals, Liz

Sergio, Mario

Smitherman, George

Sorbara, Gregory S.

Sterling, Norman W.

Takhar, Harinder S.

Van Bommel, Maria

Watson, Jim

Wilkinson, John

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wong, Tony C.

Wynne, Kathleen O.

Zimmer, David

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

Nays

Bisson, Gilles

Horwath, Andrea

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

Prue, Michael

Tabuns, Peter

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 63; the nays are 6.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY AND RESPONSES

SMOKE-FREE ONTARIO /
UN ONTARIO SANS FUMÉE

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): The Minister of Health Promotion.

Applause.

Hon. Jim Watson (Minister of Health Promotion): Thank you -- a one-man standing ovation.

Welcome to a smoke-free Ontario in the province of Ontario.

I rise in the House today to bring to the attention of all members that the Smoke-Free Ontario Act came into full effect at 12:01 a.m. this morning. It is very appropriate that this landmark piece of legislation should come into force today, the World Health Organization's World No Tobacco Day.

This legislation is the culmination of decades of work by volunteers and organizations who dedicated their efforts to raising awareness of the dangers relating to second-hand smoke.

Allow me to take a moment to thank the Honourable George Smitherman, who first introduced this piece of legislation a year and a half ago, and also Premier McGuinty, who ensured that this particular issue was raised in the last provincial election campaign. He was very clear, he stood on principle, he stood his ground, and we have the Smoke-Free Ontario Act because of Dalton McGuinty's leadership.

I also want to pay tribute to the many municipalities, municipal councillors, reeves, and mayors who over the years put forward their own no-smoking bylaws and ordinances in communities around the province.

Earlier today, on the lawn of the Legislature, our partners in a smoke-free Ontario brought their volunteers in from across the province, schoolchildren came to help us celebrate, and long-time advocates joined us to mark the day that their dedicated efforts brought about real change in Ontario.

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act is a landmark piece of legislation that protects workers and the public from the harmful effects of tobacco by banning smoking in enclosed public places and enclosed workplaces. It also strengthens laws on tobacco sales to minors and restricts the display of tobacco products in retail outlets.

We will see a complete ban on the retail display of tobacco products on May 31, 2008 -- the so-called power walls. I want to congratulate the honourable member from Ottawa-Orléans. It has now become the McNeely amendment as a result of making sure those power walls are going to be eliminated in 2008. This new law will make a positive and progressive difference in the health of all Ontarians.

Cette loi était nécessaire. La cigarette nuit à presque tous les organes corporels. L'usage du tabac --

Mr. Norman W. Sterling (Lanark-Carleton): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: From time to time, ministers wander from statements that they are required to provide members of the opposition. Members of the opposition allow that to happen if it doesn't happen on a very frequent basis. However, this minister insists on politicizing his minister's statement by glad-handing other members of his caucus and other ministers with regard to what they did. None of this is in the statement which the minister has provided to the opposition --

The Speaker: I want to thank the member for his point of order; it is a point of order. The Speaker does not have the benefit of knowing what is in a ministerial statement, but ministers need to follow the text that has been provided.

Minister.

Hon. Mr. Watson: I was about to get to the part where I congratulate Norm Sterling, so I'll have to leave that out.

Interjections.

The Speaker: Order. I just reminded the minister that he needs to keep to the text of the statement that has been provided to the opposition.

Minister.

L'hon. M. Watson: Monsieur le Président, l'usage du tabac est la première cause de décès évitables en Ontario. Chaque année, le tabac tue 16 000 personnes en Ontario. Il s'agit d'un décès toutes les 30 minutes.

Smoking also burdens the province economically. The cost to our local health care system is at least $1.7 billion annually, and lost productivity due to tobacco-related illness accounts for a further $2.6-billion loss for the economy.

When we ran for office in 2003, we made a commitment to Ontario that we would reduce tobacco consumption by 20% and make all workplaces and public places smoke-free. Our 20% target is within reach. Consumption rates, I'm pleased to report, have already dropped by about 10% since 2003.

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This act goes a long way to making Ontario a healthier place to live, work and raise a family, but it's only one part of our smoke-free strategy, which is amongst the toughest, most far-reaching and most comprehensive tobacco control strategies in North America. Like every jurisdiction that has taken this issue seriously, we have implemented the three pillars of an effective strategy: preventing youth from starting to smoke; protecting everyone from the negative effects of second-hand smoke; and helping smokers who wish to quit to achieve their goal.

Recently, our government increased funding for our smoke-free strategy for 2006-07 by $10 million, for an annual investment of $60 million. Since we took office, provincial support for tobacco control has increased sixfold. These investments will ensure that we have the capacity to enforce the smoke-free Ontario legislation. That is why we are increasing spending on enforcement to $15.2 million.

We continue to encourage young people to not smoke. Again, so far, we have seen encouraging figures. Fully 67% of high-school-age students report that they've never even tried a cigarette; that's up 10% from just a year ago. If you don't try it, you can't get addicted; it's as simple as that. So we are adding $3.3 million to our investment in local peer-based efforts by youth in their communities, bringing the total investment to $8.8 million.

In fact, I was in A.Y. Jackson school yesterday, in Mr. Sterling's riding, listening to some of those young people speak about the good work they're doing in that community. We are also maintaining those parts of our program -- public education, quitting support and other youth-based initiatives -- that have proven successful in reducing smoking.

Avec le ministère de la Promotion de la santé, ce gouvernement fournit un centre de référence pour le secteur des soins de santé, y compris nos partenaires du secteur privé, afin d'empêcher les jeunes de commencer à fumer, d'encourager les fumeurs à arrêter, et d'aider ceux qui essaient d'arrêter de fumer à réussir.

In conclusion, we all have a role to play in reducing smoking rates and improving the health of Ontarians, and I'm proud to say that this government is doing its part.

Finally, I'm sad to note that one of the driving forces behind the Smoke-Free Ontario Act will not have the satisfaction of seeing it come into effect. Heather Crowe, as many of you know, passed away a little over a week ago of lung cancer. Heather contracted her cancer as a result of working for 40 years in smoke-filled restaurants. Her courageous battle to educate people about the dangers of second-hand smoke inspired this government to take action.

I'd like to ask this House for unanimous consent -- and I believe discussions have taken place -- to declare today, May 31, 2006, Heather Crowe Day in the province of Ontario.

The Speaker: Mr. Watson has asked for unanimous consent to declare today, May 31, Heather Crowe Day. Agreed? Agreed.

SENIORS' MONTH

Hon. James J. Bradley (Minister of Tourism, minister responsible for seniors, Government House Leader): I rise in the House today to mark an annual month-long tradition here in Ontario: Seniors' Month. For more than 20 years now, June is known as Seniors' Month, and communities across the province have hosted award ceremonies, information fairs, seminars and socials to honour older Ontarians. Mayors and reeves draft proclamations. Seniors' organizations roll out the community welcome mat. Members host or attend seniors' events in their own communities. Seniors' Month is our collective way of giving back, of acknowledging and thanking seniors for their tremendous contributions to their families, their communities and our great province.

I also have a message for Ontario seniors. To them I say, embrace the theme of Seniors' Month: active living; healthy living. Keeping healthy and fit is the key to maintaining a high quality of life as we age. It's never too late to start. Take a fitness class; join a walking club; plant a garden; volunteer.

Staying active is what more people are doing in their senior years. In a recent 10-kilometre run in Toronto, 35 seniors participated. One of them crossed the finish line in 40 minutes, 40 seconds. What is inspiring is that this person's time was better than many of the other participants who were 20 years younger. Of course, seniors do not have to run to live a healthy life. What is important is to stay active and involved.

There are about 1.5 million seniors in Ontario today. That number is expected to double to 3.2 million in the next 20 years. While many Ontarians will remain strong, healthy and independent throughout their later years, others will need services to assist them. Our government is working on many levels to support seniors. We have increased the number of cataract surgeries by 16%, increased hip and knee replacement surgeries by 28%, passed legislation ending mandatory retirement, and invested an additional $155 million in new funding this year for long-term-care homes, bringing the overall budget to $2.84 billion for the fiscal year 2006-07.

To help communities promote Seniors' Month, each year we develop promotional materials, including a poster. To reach out to seniors from many cultural communities for the first time, the poster is available in 19 languages, including languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cree and Hindi.

In closing, I encourage all Ontarians to reach out to an older relative, neighbour, friend or colleague and thank them for making Ontario one of the best places in the world in which to live.

SMOKE-FREE ONTARIO

Mr. Norman W. Sterling (Lanark-Carleton): In response to the minister's statement regarding the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, I want to reiterate once again our caucus support for the goal of this legislation. I am proud to have been the first elected official in Canada to have presented a bill to protect workers and the public from second-hand smoke, in 1985, 21 years ago. Six other bills followed this particular act to push the then government to real action.

We do not, however, condone this government's treatment of people who are afflicted with this terrible addiction. We believe the same results could have been achieved without trying to make smokers social pariahs. We believe that some accommodation should have been made for our veterans and the elderly who cannot stop smoking. Retirement and long-term-care facilities that house our elderly should be given capital assistance to provide separately ventilated rooms for the residents who smoke.

We also believe that law-abiding business people who invested money in order to comply with the requirements of earlier municipal bylaws should be compensated for their losses.

We believe that as long as tobacco is a legal product, governments must be fair to those who produce, sell or use this terribly addictive substance. This government could have achieved the same results by being fair and accommodating to those who are affected by the decline and, hopefully, the demise of this product. This is the right result, but it has been done with little compassion or understanding for those who are affected.

On behalf of the PC caucus and our leader, John Tory, I also want to pay tribute to Heather Crowe for her efforts to protect workers from second-hand smoke in the workplace. As we all know, on May 22, Heather died of lung cancer that she got from breathing second-hand smoke in the restaurants where she worked. She was only 61 years old. Heather Crowe is a hero because she took a personal tragedy and used it to improve our society for everyone to follow. On behalf of our caucus, I want to express our condolences and sympathies to Heather's daughter, Patricia, her granddaughter, Jodie Ann, and her six brothers and sisters. I want to let them know just how proud they should be of their mother, grandmother and sister. She made a positive difference in the world. That is something that I believe we should all strive for in our lives.

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SENIORS' MONTH

Ms. Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton): Today I'm delighted to recognize Seniors' Month on behalf of the PC Party of Ontario and our leader, John Tory. As the youngest member of this Legislature, I think it is fitting that I'm able to speak to Ontario's many seniors today and thank them on behalf of my generation for building a strong and vibrant province that makes us proud to call home.

Last week, in my own community of Nepean-Carleton, I was honorary chair of the annual Nepean Seniors' Walk for Independence, where hundreds of seniors celebrated their contributions to our province while also creating awareness for their cause, which is to ensure that seniors are able to live as independently as possible, with the supports they need.

Throughout Ontario there are other organizations, like Nepean Seniors' Home Support, that strive to make life easier for our seniors. They offer programs like Meals on Wheels, grocery delivery, respite care, breakfast clubs and transportation to doctors' appointments, among others. These organizations value the great work seniors in Ontario have done, whether it was their work on the farm, their foresight in building our institutions or their ardent defence of our freedom during both world wars.

These institutions, like me and my caucus colleagues, believe our seniors deserve the respect they have so dutifully and rightfully earned; yet when it comes to seniors, the record of the McGuinty Liberals is absolutely shameful. Just two weeks ago, 21 members of the McGuinty Liberal caucus stood in this House and voted against my resolution calling for the elimination of the illegitimate health tax on seniors -- the Liberal broken-promise health tax. Not one of them had the courage of their convictions to stand with us on this side of the House to properly thank our seniors. That's how the Liberals thank seniors.

During the 2003 campaign, the McGuinty Liberals promised $6,000 in care for every resident in a long-term-care home. The result? We have a bunch of people running around these homes counting how many seniors are falling down, but there's nobody around to pick the seniors up off the floor. That's how the Liberal government thanks --

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Thank you.

Interjections.

The Speaker: Order. I can wait.

SMOKE-FREE ONTARIO

Ms. Shelley Martel (Nickel Belt): In response to the statement made by the Minister of Health Promotion, I'm reminded that, long before Bill 164 ever saw the light of day, the city of greater Sudbury, in conjunction with the Sudbury and District Health Unit, many health care professionals and many health-care-related organizations and agencies, passed the necessary bylaw to go 100% smoke-free in community workplaces and public spaces. I was pleased to be at Tom Davies Square on the day the bylaw was passed to demonstrate my support for all those who had worked so hard to get to this point and to congratulate them on their vision and determination.

The city of greater Sudbury wasn't the only municipality that did this kind of work. Many municipalities had a gold standard with respect to a smoke-free bylaw in place and passed long before Bill 164 was ever tabled. So, in many respects, it was those many municipalities in Ontario that really led the way in convincing their own public of the dangers of second-hand smoke and in passing the necessary bylaws to have 100% smoke-free workplaces and smoke-free public places, and I congratulate those many municipalities.

However, the government missed a golden opportunity in Bill 164 to really prevent youth from starting to smoke in the first place. We heard time and time again during the course of the public hearings from health care professionals, from health units, from health organizations, from young people themselves, that behind-the-counter displays of cigarettes had to be banned as soon as possible. Young people said that seeing row upon row of cigarettes behind the counter or on the counter in their local retail store made smoking seem normal, made smoking seem okay, and the retail displays had to be reduced because that was the single biggest factor in enticing them to smoke in the first place.

That's why, during the committee, I moved an amendment on behalf of the NDP to ban countertop and behind-the-counter retail displays of tobacco products by today, May 31, 2006. It is regrettable that the Liberal members on the committee voted against that amendment, because that would have put into place the very election promise they made. No one suspected, when the Liberals said they would ban countertop displays, that that meant in 2008. People believed that that would come as part of a package when the whole bill was passed.

The Liberals' delay in banning countertop displays of cigarettes in retail stores will mean that thousands and thousands of young people will start smoking in the next two years, will be addicted to cigarettes in the next two years and will become the cancer statistics in our province 20 years from now. The government missed a golden opportunity. The government should have done that. It would have been the single most important thing to do to stop young people from starting to smoke in the first place.

SENIORS' MONTH

Ms. Shelley Martel (Nickel Belt): With respect to the statement made by the minister responsible for seniors, on behalf of New Democrats we recognize the start of Seniors' Awareness Month. We salute those seniors whose past working lives and volunteer lives have made an enormous contribution to the social and cultural fabric of our province. We are in debt to these many seniors for their past accomplishments and for the current work they do in so many volunteer organizations, so that the province is richer as a result of their efforts.

But I would be remiss if I didn't put on the public record a presentation made to the government in October 2005 from the United Senior Citizens of Ontario Inc., a list of many recommendations for the government to follow with respect to seniors' concerns. I'll just deal with the health ones.

Delisting of services: "The United Senior Citizens of Ontario implore the Ontario government to re-examine these issues."

With respect to P3 hospitals: "The USCO calls on the Premier and his government to immediately put an end to all P3 hospitals in the province of Ontario."

With respect to the health care premium: "The government of Ontario must re-examine this tax. It is wrong, and the USCO strongly urges the government to withdraw this punitive tax."

With respect to standards of care in long-term-care facilities: "The UCSO speaks out forcefully to the government to set strict guidelines that long-term-care homes must follow, increasing the number of nursing care hours for each resident to a minimum of 3.5 hours per day and providing stable funding to ensure quality care for all Ontario residents of long-term-care homes."

I would encourage the government to live up to the election promise that was made -- here it is -- to ensure that residents get more personal care to invest in better nursing care and provide an additional $6,000 in care for every resident.

VISITEURS /
VISITORS

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): On a point of order, the member for Ottawa-Orléans.

M. Phil McNeely (Ottawa-Orléans): Monsieur le Président, je suis heureux de reconnaître en haut, dans la tribune du Président, deux hommes distingués de ma circonscription d'Ottawa-Orléans : premièrement M. Marc Godbout, ancien député fédéral, et M. Gérald Poulin, un homme qui a travaillé très fort depuis quelques années pour bâtir Orléans.

M. Gilles Bisson (Timmins-Baie James): Monsieur le Président, je voudrais reconnaître deux collègues de Timmins : M. Pierre Bélanger, qui est récipiendaire cette année, et M. Sylvain Lacroix, qui était récipiendaire en 2004. Bienvenue.

Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): I'd like to introduce to the members of the Legislature today, in the members' east gallery, a very dignified delegation from the town of Cobalt, which everybody knows is the silver capital of the world, and to extend an invitation to everyone to come to committee room 2 and join the historic mining camp celebration. We have André Bélanger, the mayor of the corporation of the town of Cobalt; Gino Chitaroni, chair of the Historic Cobalt Corp.; Doug Shearer, project manager of the Historic Cobalt Mining Camp project; Melissa Ruddy, marketing and outreach officer for the Historic Cobalt Mining Camp project; Helen Culhane, welcome centre manager; and Pat Anderson, committee member.

The Speaker: We have with us in the Speaker's gallery the 2006 recipients of the internationally recognized Ordre de la Pléiade. These men and women will be honoured today by the Ontario branch for Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie for their outstanding contributions to French-language communities in the province. The ceremony will be held in the Lieutenant Governor's suite later today.

The recipients are: Pierre Bélanger, Denyse Boulanger Culligan, Christine Dumitriu van Saanen, Gérald Poulin, Bernard Thibodeau and Marc Godbout. Please join me in welcoming our guests.

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FRED BURR

Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): I believe we have unanimous consent for a member from each party to speak for up to five minutes in tribute to Fred Burr, a former member of the Legislature.

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Hampton: I think I'm one of the fortunate members here who actually got to know Fred Burr. I was not elected when Fred Burr was a member of the Legislature, but at that time I used to come over and do some volunteer work for some other members. Fred Burr was, to be very plain about it, the kind of constituency politician that all of us wish we could be, and he was the kind of thoughtful spokesperson that all of us wish we could be.

It's not very often that a columnist like Norman Webster of the Globe and Mail would write a column just about the work of one backbencher. But in 1974, the Globe and Mail columnist Norman Webster did just that. It was entitled "An Unusual Politician."

He starts out by saying, "Fred Burr is good for the soul. Every House should have one. Quietly, patiently, with little obvious partisanship, the NDP member from Windsor pokes around in corners that the big political noses overlook, then asks a question in the Legislature.

"Sometimes the question makes such plain good sense that it seems far out in our damn-the-consequences society. A sampler of Mr. Burr's concerns:

"Why aren't we spending at least a small fraction of the enormous outlays on oil and gas for research into ways to use solar energy?" He asked that question in 1974.

Another sample of the questions he asked: "Experiments in Hong Kong indicate acupuncture can help cure heroin addicts. Has anybody here noticed?"

Another question: "Is anybody doing anything about Freon, the inert gas that powers aerosol cans? One million tons of the gas are being released annually and, rising slowly, may eventually destroy the earth's ozone layer." He was somebody who was probably 20 years ahead of his time.

I wonder how many members of the Legislature can speak Greek and Latin. In fact, Fred Burr spoke Greek and Latin, often spoke Greek and Latin in the Legislature, and was often quoted.

Sometimes he was a bit embarrassing to some other members. At one time, there was a committee called the land drainage committee. The land drainage committee decided they were going to hold their next meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida. Fred Burr said no. He couldn't see how the people of Ontario would derive any benefit out of a legislative committee holding its meetings in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Fred Burr has also established some interesting history. One of the things that he enjoyed doing in his spare time was cross-propagating iris flowers and creating new varieties. So today, if you go to Coventry garden in England, you'll find a Fred Burr iris; or if you go to the botanical gardens in Hamilton you'll find some of the irises that he experimented with, or if you go to Florence, Italy -- I wonder how many members of the Legislature had that kind of interest that is being remembered now, internationally around the world.

Fred Burr served in the Legislature from 1967 to 1977. He was noted as being a very quiet individual but, as you can tell from the questions he asked, a very thoughtful individual; an individual at least 20 years ahead of his time.

Another event he was responsibility for, to the embarrassment of some other members: He sat on a committee and insisted in the committee that smoking should not happen. When other members of the committee said to him, "Why do you take this approach?" he said that this is "the most intense form of air pollution" that we know of. By simply proposing the idea, he won the day, again, 30 years ahead of his time.

Members of the Burr family are here with us today, and on behalf of New Democrats, I can say we're very proud that Fred Burr was a member of the New Democratic caucus. We're very proud of the contribution that he made not only to this Legislature but to Ontario in general, and to some interesting things that are happening now around the world. Fred Burr was indeed ahead of his time. His thinking was indeed 20 years ahead of his time. We're very proud that someone like that has served in the Ontario Legislature.

Mr. Norman W. Sterling (Lanark-Carleton): On behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus and our leader John Tory, I'm pleased to rise to pay tribute to Fred Burr, who died January 17 of this year, just prior to his 95th birthday.

Jim Bradley and I were first elected here in 1977, I did have the pleasure of meeting Fred after the election and was impressed by just how easy he was to meet, how wonderful he was to talk to. I really did like Fred Burr.

Fred was the NDP MPP for Sandwich-Riverside and Windsor-Riverside from 1967 to 1977. While his tenure in the House wasn't that many years ago, we're still discussing today many of the issues Mr. Burr raised, as the leader of the third party has pointed out.

The fact that we are paying tribute to Mr. Burr today is very, very fitting, as the leader pointed out. Fred was very much interested in the second-hand-smoke issue.

Today, the Smoke-free Ontario Act came into force to protect workers from second-hand smoke. On November 24, 1975 -- this was the year the World Health Organization first recognized that smoking was such a peril to our health -- Fred Burr spoke about the dangers of second-hand smoke, although he referred to it at that time as side-stream smoke.

In this debate, Mr. Burr went on to describe the toxin levels of side-stream smoke. Then he pitched an idea for an anti-smoking poster. I quote, and this is from Hansard: "I should like to see a poster designed to show that children need protection. I visualize such a poster as showing a parent, male or female, with an infant in a high chair. Between them, balanced on the edge of an ashtray, would be a cigarette, burning at rest with its smoke drifting towards the child's face. The baby's thoughts would be shown in some such words as these: `I wish he would smoke it himself. How long before my cute, pink lungs turn ugly black? Do I need this carbon monoxide? Can my lungs tolerate this cadmium?'"

That's the kind of common sense that Fred Burr continued to put forward as a representative in this House. Mr. Burr brought to this House a great interest in public welfare. He expressed concerns with, as you heard, a great deal of imagination, and he supported his concerns with strong research. He did what the opposition is intended to do in our legislative tradition: He raised issues that he felt were important, and time has shown that his sense of what was important was right on target.

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Fred Burr came to this place after a long career as a high school teacher at Walkerville Collegiate, where he taught Latin and Greek for 34 years. He was obviously dedicated to his students because, after his obituary appeared in the Globe and Mail, a former student, now living in Saskatoon, wrote, "He was a teacher's teacher who made Latin and Greek easy to study and learn." He must have been a really good teacher, Mr. Speaker.

His dedication also extended to his public life. Fred ran in five provincial and federal elections before winning in 1967 by 799 votes. In the next provincial election, he won by 10,000 votes. According to a story in the Owen Sound Sun Times, Mr. Burr's dedication to our democratic process remained until the end. Before he died, he voted in the advance poll for the January federal election.

He also passed his dedication on to his late son, David, who served as mayor of Windsor from 1986 to 1988.

I believe that, as MPPs, we could all learn something from Fred Burr. In 1974, he was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying, "I don't believe in asking questions just to get publicity. The question should have some potential for correcting a situation or improving a situation or preventing a situation. A question in the House should have some social value, rather than a political or partisan motivation."

From what I have read, Mr. Burr lived by that and, as a result, he managed to correct or improve various different situations. He made Ontarians more aware of the environment. Ontario's first Minister of the Environment, the Honourable George Kerr from Burlington, credited Mr. Burr with forcing the creation of the new ministry in 1975.

In 1997, Fred's late wife, Dorothy, told the Toronto Star that her husband had three main accomplishments during his life at Queen's Park. They were persuading the government to start an organ and tissue donation program, leading the non-smokers' rights movement, and exposing environmental hazards such as mercury in the St. Clair River.

Fred Burr used polite, well-researched questions to raise important issues, and the changes that resulted from his questions are evidence that we don't have to be partisan or aggressive to succeed. Mr. Burr used his position in the House to improve Ontario, and he did it without compromising his integrity. If every one of us in this House today can have that said of us when our turn comes to be remembered here, we should be proud.

On behalf of our caucus, I want to extend our heartfelt sympathy to Fred's daughters, Maureen and Sheila. I want to thank them for sharing their dad with us and all Ontarians.

Hon. James J. Bradley (Minister of Tourism, minister responsible for seniors, Government House Leader): On behalf of the government and members of the Liberal caucus, I would like to join in paying tribute to Fred Burr for his many years of service to the people of the province of Ontario, particularly those in the ridings he represented in the Windsor area.

Much has been said, most appropriately and accurately, by our two previous speakers from the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party about the fact that Fred Burr was a man ahead of his time, a man who genuinely had an impact on issues confronting us over the years, confronting us even today. Mr. Sterling made reference to a few of those issues in his remarks.

You think of the fact that this year we've had at least three different bills in the Legislature talking about organ donation. That was not the topic of the day when Fred Burr was a member of the Ontario Legislature. He was a person ahead of his time on that particular issue.

Most appropriately today, being the day that smoking has ended in Ontario in public places, I remember the early crusaders for no smoking even in designated areas. They were often ridiculed. They were often dismissed as eccentrics and unrealistic people. Well, Fred Burr wasn't afraid in those days to raise those issues, because he recognized the terrible impact of tobacco smoking on people in the province and, I think, particularly younger people.

I notice that the police forces across Ontario mention that they were carrying out a crackdown on seat belts. If you said anything about seat belts back in those days -- it was an infringement upon your freedom to force somebody to wear a seat belt. Today we take it for granted, and I particularly admire young people today who automatically, when they get into a vehicle, pull on a seat belt. It's a little more difficult for those of us who didn't grow up with that; however, we do it. Again, that would have been considered on the far side in those days, and really came about as an important issue and something adopted by the government.

As Minister of the Environment, I can think of all the times that I relied upon, and governments relied upon, people who really cared about the environment and who were prepared to raise issues. Who talked about mercury in the fish in the St. Clair River? Well, it was none other than Fred Burr. I know, when I had the privilege of being environment minister from 1985 to 1990, what we were talking about: contaminants in the St. Clair River. Everybody has tried to address those issues, but it's because people such as Fred Burr were prepared to raise those issues -- and his advocacy of solar power and so on.

Whenever one of these days arises when we're paying tribute to somebody, I go to my favourite source, Eric Dowd, who is the dean in the press gallery. He sits above us, looking down upon us. I was reading one of his columns, and it said the following:

"The first MPP to suggest wind power could help solve Ontario's energy shortage was almost laughed out of the Legislature.

"This is hard to believe now, when turbines to harness wind are sprouting up faster than corn in many areas of the province and are generally acknowledged to be a useful part of future electricity resources."

He goes on to say that, at the time when he raised this in the Legislature, there was regaling of him, of course. There was laughter out there constantly, and a lot of ridicule and diminishing of his suggestions. He continued to pursue it, and that's not surprising because, remember, Fred Burr ran six times before he was elected. It reminds me of my good friend Mel Swart, who ran eight times in the Niagara Peninsula before he was elected. But Fred Burr ran for the CCF twice federally and for the NDP four different times for the Ontario Legislature. So he was persistent.

I think Mr. Dowd captured, probably most appropriately, what ultimately came about. He said:

"Burr had the last laugh, because he lived to see wind power gain acceptance by later governments of all parties.

"Ontario now has 200 wind turbines and eventually wind will supply at least 10% of its electricity.

"But Ontario still is behind some other jurisdictions, particularly Quebec, in using wind power.

"One lesson" from all of this "is that you shouldn't put all your trust in the smart, young, confident-sounding guys in government. They don't know everything."

Well, Fred wasn't classified as one of those individuals. He is as described. He was a wonderful member of this Legislature, a great constituency person. His family, represented here today and perhaps watching and receiving the Hansard from this House, can be justifiably proud of the contribution that he made not only to his own riding but to the people of this province and this country.

The Speaker: I'd like to thank all members for their kind remarks, and I undertake to see that the family receives copies of today's Hansard.

ORAL QUESTIONS

ELECTRICITY SUPPLY

Mr. Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): I have a question for the Acting Premier. Yesterday, it became glaringly obvious that the McGuinty government has broken yet another of its key election promises.

Minister, try as you and the Premier might to rid yourself of the promise-breaker label, you just can't seem to be straight with Ontarians when it comes to promises and commitments, even the new ones you made only a few months ago.

Knowing the electricity supply situation that exists, why did your minister and your Premier continue to promise and re-promise that the coal plants would be shut down, taking no action to reduce emissions, if you knew full well it was never going to happen?

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs): I think it is important and I'm happy to have the opportunity to clarify for the honourable member that our government is absolutely committed to replacing coal. That is a commitment we made and that is a commitment that remains in place. We inherited a mess from the government he was a part of; there's no question about that. In the last decade, let me remind the honourable member, demand for energy increased in the province by 8.5%, and on your watch, supply actually decreased by 6.5%. Our government has a plan to keep the lights on and a plan to replace coal.

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Mr. Runciman: That's getting to be a pretty tired refrain, your continuing efforts to play Ontarians for fools with one subterfuge after another. I've asked you a straight question. You refuse to answer. The truth is, Minister, you and your government have done absolutely nothing to clean up Ontario's coal plants. The last scrubbers to be installed were by the PC government in 2003. So again, you're refusing to be straight with Ontarians about the facts. We've asked your government repeatedly to invest in cleaning them up, and all we've gotten is pushback about how it would a waste of time and money to invest in plants that are going to be shut down.

Minister, will you commit here today to immediately take action and invest in cleaning up our coal plants with advanced scrubber technology?

Hon. Mrs. Dombrowsky: I would say to the honourable member that when he talks about cleaning up coal, that's like making cigarettes safe, and we know that's not possible. Our government is committed to replacing coal for the health of Ontarians.

I want to remind the honourable member too that with respect to the scrubbers he talks about, scrubbers don't do anything to remove these carcinogens. They don't remove arsenic, scrubbers don't remove beryllium, scrubbers don't remove chromium, they don't remove cadmium, and that is what is killing people in the province of Ontario. That is why we are committed to replacing coal. You're the party that wants to keep coal burning in the province. Our government is committed to the health and well-being of the people of this province, and that is why we remain committed to replacing coal here.

Mr. Runciman: It's interesting that you hear the minister with her response on probably the worst smog day we've seen in this city in years. What we really have here is Liberals breaking a promise that's already been broken.

The way Ontarians see it there are only two possible explanations for this promise being made and now being broken twice over. The first explanation is that your Premier was so out of touch that he never did his homework to find out what everyone else knew already: that this promise was completely unachievable. The second explanation and the most sinister -- but in light of other broken promises is probably the one that makes the most sense -- is that your Premier knew all along that the coal promise was unachievable, yet he made it anyway in order to score votes in the last election. That's also known as fraud. Minister, which is it?

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): I'd ask the member to withdraw the last phrase.

Mr. Runciman: I respect your request, Mr. Speaker, and withdraw it.

Hon. Mrs. Dombrowsky: Let me remind the honourable member about what we have done so far to keep our commitment to replace coal. We have already closed Lakeview. We have already reduced the reliance on coal in this province by 17%. We have already reduced mercury emissions by 28%. We've reduced SO2 emissions by 28%, NOx by 34% and CO2 by 15%. Those are real results for the people of Ontario. We have also brought new power online in Ontario, clean, renewable power: 3,000 megawatts of new power, and 11,000 are in the works. That's far beyond anything you did when you were sitting on this side of the House. We're doing it to save the lives of Ontarians. We're committed to doing that.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr. Runciman: To the Acting Premier: again, an energy issue. Apparently, the Minister of Energy doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to show up here today, given the --

The Speaker: We would know that you cannot refer to a member's absence or presence here in the Legislature. I'd ask you to withdraw that.

Mr. Runciman: I withdraw it, sir.

Minister, your coal plant promise is no different from your promise not to raise taxes. Less than two weeks before the 2004 budget, Dalton McGuinty was still promising that he was not going to raise taxes, knowing full well what his budget already looked like. Since you came to office, you've promised over and over again that you would close these plants, knowing full well that it couldn't be done on your timeline. There's a big difference between breaking promises, which we know you have no problem doing, and wilfully failing to be straight with Ontarians.

Minister, could you please explain why your government has continued to claim you were moving forward on this promise when you knew full well that it was not going to happen?

Hon. Mrs. Dombrowsky: I'm happy to have the opportunity to respond, but I think it's really unfortunate that, when our Minister of Energy is attending a funeral of a friend, there is a suggestion on the other side of the House that he's somehow not looking to do his job. That is really incredible.

With respect to the commitment of our government, we have been straight with the people of Ontario. I would remind the honourable member that we have told the people of Ontario, with respect to coal plants, that operating coal plants cost the people of Ontario $4.4 billion. Dollars notwithstanding, let me remind the honourable member as well, because we're straight with the people of Ontario, that when we keep coal plants open -- I know that the members of the opposition discount these numbers, but let me assure you that they are very real. Keeping our coal plants open costs 668 premature deaths, 928 hospital admissions, 1,100 emergency room visits and 333,000 minor --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. Supplementary?

Mr. Runciman: Taking lessons from the Liberals on appropriate behaviour in this assembly is laughable. We see it every day.

This is a question about trust and confidence. You promised to replace 25% of the province's energy supply in three years. Now you whine and cry about the legal hurdles and regulations that have gotten in your way. These are obstacles that everyone but you seemed to know you would eventually run into.

Minister, Ontarians expect you to be up front and honest about your promises and the reality they are based upon. Ontarians expect the truth about the energy plan, or lack thereof, and they expect it to be based on expert opinion, not partisan spin and irresponsible promises. When will you and Mr. McGuinty finally be forthcoming about your plan for electricity in Ontario? With a 55% increase to hydro bills under your watch, I think the people of Ontario deserve that.

Hon. Mrs. Dombrowsky: I think that it's very obvious that this government has taken the energy file very seriously, unlike what you did when you were in government. There was no new capacity, in spite of the fact that demand rose. What the people of Ontario need to remember is that when we came to government, we inherited a system that required the transmission to be upgraded; that comes at a significant cost. We inherited a system where there had been no investment in conservation; we are doing that. We inherited a system where there were no new renewables coming online; we have turned that around. We inherited a system where we are committed to implementing cleaner gas plants -- something the New Democrats have opposed every step of the way.

Those are the things we are doing, as a government, because we believe the people of Ontario need a sound plan that will enable us to replace coal-fired generation --

The Speaker: Thank you. Final supplementary.

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Mr. Runciman: Here's the reality behind your broken promises and phony plan. Consumption and demand records have been set and reset so many times under your government that no one can keep count anymore. Your conservation strategies are totally inadequate. The plants you hoped would help replace coal power are mired in legal battles and red tape, and are going to be nowhere near finished by the 2007 deadline. Your own people at the OPA have confirmed that. Your wind farms are operating at only 10% capacity, and, despite Ontarians paying roughly 55% more for electricity under your watch, they're still being asked to turn off their lights and toaster ovens or the province may plunge into darkness.

Minister, where is your plan? Where's your response to the OPA report after 173 days? When will we see an end to broken promises and incompetence and, finally, see a plan from you and Premier McGuinty?

Hon. Mrs. Dombrowsky: It's really rich that the member from Leeds-Grenville can stand in his place today and ask for a plan when for eight years you were on this side of the House and you had no plan. Now you're looking for a plan.

Well, let me tell you: Yes, the minister has received the OPA report. I also want to say that what we have been asked by the public and members of the opposition is that the minister consider that report very carefully. That report has been made public and, so far, we have received over 5,000 responses. The minister is in the process of reviewing them very carefully, and he will be announcing his response to that very soon.

ENERGY CONSERVATION

Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): My question is for the Acting Premier. Acting Premier, working families across Ontario -- southern and central Ontario for sure -- see a long summer of smog ahead, and they're deeply concerned because polluted air will cause the premature deaths of 5,800 people and send thousands more to the emergency room. Yesterday, unbelievable as it may sound, your energy minister refused to read out Dalton McGuinty's promise to shut coal plants -- a promise you have now broken not once but twice. Maybe you can do a little better today, Acting Premier.

Can you please read to us Dalton McGuinty's promise about reducing electricity consumption, and can you tell us, is this another promise you're going to break?

Hon. Mrs. Dombrowsky: Again, I can say to the leader of the third party and to the people of Ontario that our government is committed to cleaning our air by replacing coal generation, and we are committed to keeping the lights on. We have inherited a tremendous challenge; there's no question about it. The government before us did absolutely nothing to invest in new generation to meet our growing need, but our government is absolutely committed to doing what we need to do. We have brought 3,000 new megawatts online, 11,000 are in the works, and we are working very hard to ensure that in a safe and reliable way we continue to keep the lights on for the people of Ontario.

Mr. Hampton: What a surprise. I even highlighted the promise for her -- yet another promise that McGuinty Liberals made so prominently -- and now they won't repeat it.

Here's the promise: "We will help Ontario homes and businesses cut their electricity consumption at least by 5% by 2007." But, in fact, under the McGuinty government's watch, Ontario has recorded nine of the top 10 days in electricity consumption in the province's history, and just yesterday, Ontario set a new record for electricity consumption during the month of May: 25,000 megawatts.

Minister, can you tell me, how is Dalton McGuinty's promise to cut Ontario's electricity consumption by 5%, to reduce our reliance on coal and to turn to clean air anything more than another McGuinty broken promise?

Hon. Mrs. Dombrowsky: Well, isn't it interesting that the member of the third party has had an epiphany, because when they were in government, they cancelled every cent that was going to conservation in the province of Ontario. That's what you did, and now you're preaching conservation. I'm happy to remind you, through the Speaker, that this is what we are doing to build a conservation culture in the province of Ontario. We believe that every kilowatt hour that is saved is one we don't have to bill. We are providing a $500 rebate with every purchase of an Energy-Star-rated central air-conditioner, a $50 rebate for a tune-up of an existing air conditioner and a $75 rebate for the installation of programmable thermostats. Smart meters are being placed in over 800,000 homes, and $1.5 billion in conservation initiatives have been planned. This is in contrast to when you were in government, leader of the third party. You spent zero on conservation. That's what our government is --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary.

Mr. Hampton: It says a lot about the McGuinty government. They promised to reduce electricity consumption by 5%, electricity consumption is going through the roof, and they want to attack governments that were here 10 and 15 years ago and say they're somehow responsible.

I want to read, for the minister, the other promise that Dalton McGuinty made: "We will introduce effective programs to encourage residents to reduce their home energy consumption. At the same time, we will work with commercial and institutional customers, especially hospitals, schools, colleges and universities, to lower their electricity use."

Minister, your government has held all kinds of photo ops and we see your superficial ads on television, but electricity consumption isn't coming down. Under the McGuinty government, electricity consumption is going through the roof, just like hydro rates.

Minister, tell us how that's not a broken promise.

Hon. Mrs. Dombrowsky: I will explain the realities of economics. I know that it wasn't his experience when he was in government, but we happen to be governing at a time when the economy is booming. What happens when the economy is booming is that we have more industries and businesses coming to our province, and we have more people coming here to live. That puts a greater demand on our electricity system. This is something that we're very happy to have happen; there's no question about that. The previous government did not plan for this economic boom, so we are now working with Ontarians, providing them with information around how they can conserve and help us so we can keep the lights on for the people of Ontario.

ONTARIO DISABILITY
SUPPORT PROGRAM

Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): Acting Premier, I think the lesson we draw is: If the economy booms, the McGuinty government thinks they can break all their promises.

Today, the Ombudsman delivered another scathing report about how the McGuinty government is taking advantage of Ontario's most vulnerable citizens. The report, Losing the Waiting Game, reveals that Ontario's disabled citizens have not received $6 million in much-needed benefits because of bureaucratic bungling at the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The Ombudsman uses these words to describe the situation: "cruel," "insensitive," "shameful," "unjust," "no commitment to restitution," "morally repugnant."

Acting Premier, how could the McGuinty government take such cruel and shameful advantage of the disabled in Ontario?

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs): The Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur (Minister of Community and Social Services, minister responsible for francophone affairs): First of all, let me thank the Ombudsman for his work and for his acknowledgement that we, as a government, made some progress on this file.

This issue has existed almost since the legislation was first brought in, in 1997, under the Harris government. This government is committed to helping our most vulnerable citizens. We take this matter seriously, and we are already implementing most of the Ombudsman's recommendations.

I am proud to say that we have eliminated the four-month limit on retroactive payments. This means that people deemed eligible for ODSP will receive financial assistance as of the time they apply and we have received a complete application.

I'll continue my response in the supplementary.

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Mr. Hampton: There's a very troubling double standard here. This is the same government that awards its hydro executives half-million-dollar bonuses but, at the same time that you award the Tom Parkinsons half-million-dollar bonuses, 4,630 disabled Ontarians are denied $6 million in benefits they are legally entitled to.

I agree with the Ombudsman: What the McGuinty government has done over the last three years is cruel, it's shameful, and it is morally repugnant. My question is this: How does the McGuinty government justify your double standard of half-million-dollar bonuses for your hydro executives while you treat the disabled in such a shameful, repugnant way?

Hon. Mrs. Meilleur: The previous government broke the system, and this government is fixing it. We're going to do the fair and the right things for those who got caught in the broken system we inherited.

My staff is working right now with the Ministry of Finance, and we will report back on what we will be accomplishing. As the Ombudsman pointed out, the previous government set up a system that didn't work and didn't keep records. It will take some time to fix it. I have to say that out of the seven recommendations, we have four that we have already implemented. We are working on the other three and will be reporting back in six months, as the Ombudsman asked us to do.

Mr. Hampton: Gee, thank God the Ombudsman blew the whistle on the McGuinty government after three years; otherwise, I'm sure this would have continued.

But I want to ask you about a particular recommendation by the Ombudsman, because I believe that no disabled citizen of Ontario, no disabled citizen of this wealthy province, should be denied the much-needed benefits they're legally entitled to because of bureaucratic bungling by the McGuinty government. The Ombudsman has recommended that you pay restitution to those people who have been denied the $6 million in benefits they are legally entitled to. Will you commit today to enacting immediately the Ombudsman's recommendation not only to clean up the mess but to pay the restitution to these people who are legally entitled to that money?

Hon. Mrs. Meilleur: I said in my previous answer that we are working on reviewing the recommendations of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman gave us six months to report back to him on what we're going to do.

We are working with the Ministry of Finance. We have already eliminated the four-month rule. We are allowing people to keep more of what they've earned; we are extending the ODSP for employment until coverage is available for the employer; we have hired 12 new staff; and we have set up a database to allow the DAU to review applications more quickly. So we're well on our way. I'm working with the Minister of Finance. The Ombudsman is saying that we owe --

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Thank you. New question.

NATIVE LAND DISPUTE

Mr. Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): To the Acting Premier: Ontario Superior Court Justice David Marshall has ordered Attorney General Michael Bryant to appear in court tomorrow with respect to the ongoing dispute in Caledonia. Will Attorney General Michael Bryant personally appear before Justice Marshall in Cayuga court tomorrow?

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs): To the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs.

Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): Of course, the member knows that when a judge asks all parties, he refers to the government of Ontario through the Attorney General. There will be representatives from the Ontario government appearing before the judge tomorrow, as has been ordered, as we contemplate all the other parties that have been asked to attend.

Mr. Barrett: I didn't hear a clear answer. I'm assuming that that representative will not be the Attorney General -- an Attorney General who has been requested, at the express request of Justice Marshall, to ensure that peace in that community is maintained under the rule of law. I'm assuming from that answer that Mr. Bryant's name can be added to the list of no-shows, including you, Minister Ramsay, and including the Premier of Ontario, Minister Kwinter and Minister Takhar -- Caledonia no-shows.

I represent the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant, which includes Six Nations and New Credit. I predict that someone, somewhere, in my riding tomorrow is going to say, "Where the heck is Michael Bryant?" If it's not important enough to show up, then what is? I do point out that the commissioner of the OPP will be present before Justice David Marshall --

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): The question apparently has been asked. Minister.

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Of course, what the government intends to do is send representatives who are knowledgeable about the situation in Caledonia and who will be able to inform the judge, as he wants to hear the efforts of the provincial government. That's going to be an opportunity for the provincial government to put forward its actions over the last 60 days, as other parties are going to do. That's what we're going to do; the judge has asked that. All parties will attend, and all the information will be given.

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS

Mr. Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth): A question for the Acting Premier: Deadbeat bosses in Ontario are getting away with cheating workers out of their full wages because you are not enforcing your own employment standards. A case in point: workers from Amato Pizza, who came to this House in February because they had not received their full wages, even after the ministry investigated their situation. To this day, they're still waiting to get paid. Today we're joined by other workers who have faced similar employment violations. Why is your government not enforcing its own Employment Standards Act to protect the lowest-paid workers in Ontario? Why?

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs): I thank the honourable member for his question. This government certainly has been very proactive in terms of advocating and introducing legislation and regulations to protect workers in the province of Ontario. We have increased the number of inspectors in the province so that workplaces are safer for the people who work there.

With respect to the particular circumstance that he has brought to attention, I'm sure the minister would have more detail on that, but I thank him for the question. I can commit that I will bring this personally to the attention of the minister for him to respond to.

Mr. Tabuns: An extraordinary response. I've heard "proactive" redefined today in the House.

These are not isolated examples. They're just a few of the thousands of workers who are still waiting for this government to act so that those workers will get the wages that they're entitled to and that they have not been paid -- collectively, under your watch, over $40 million of unpaid wages, according to your own ministry's numbers. You are not taking this issue seriously; you're not acting on this issue.

Many of these workers -- newcomers and women working for temp agencies, for subcontractors -- have tried to meet with the Minister of Labour. Are you going to take action? Are you going to adopt the reforms that we've put forward in this House today to deal with the question of unpaid workers?

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Hon. Mrs. Dombrowsky: I would like to remind the honourable member that our government has initiated an employment standards crackdown. We have increased the number of inspections and we have increased the number of prosecutions. That is good news for members of the labour force in the province of Ontario.

We have prosecuted -- and the information that I have here today is exponentially higher than what was prosecuted by previous governments. So our commitment to providing sufficient supports to people in our workforce is absolutely there and can be demonstrated by the number of inspections that are carried out, the number of charges that are laid and the number of prosecutions that are successfully completed.

I have received information with respect to the issue that he identified in his original question. I have information that the ministry is investigating. The minister will get to you directly on that.

SMOKE-FREE ONTARIO

Mr. David Zimmer (Willowdale): My question is to the Minister of Health Promotion. Minister, today Ontario entered a new era, one where all Ontarians will be able to breathe easier. The laws prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places are now equal and strengthened throughout the province. All communities, from Willowdale here in Toronto, my riding, to the far north, are now protected from exposure to second-hand smoke by the same piece of legislation.

Today, the Toronto Star editorial praised the initiative, noting that in the last election, "Premier Dalton McGuinty pledged to ban workplace smoking within three years of taking office. Today he has delivered on that promise -- in full and ahead of his deadline."

Indeed, few government actions since the launch of medicare in the 1960s will do more to save lives and protect Ontarians than this province-wide measure. Now that the Smoke-Free Ontario Act is enforced, is the job done, Minister? What are the goals and the next steps --

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): The Minister of Health Promotion.

Hon. Jim Watson (Minister of Health Promotion): I want to thank the member for Willowdale. This is a very proud moment for me and for our government as we celebrate the launch of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. Above and beyond the rules and regulations with respect to enclosed public workplaces, we also have a prevention program and a cessation program.

Some 80% of Ontarians do not smoke, and this particular law will help protect 100% of the population, in particular hospitality workers like 24-year-old bartender Brad Robinson of Windsor, who said yesterday that his "shift will be much more comfortable."

Our critics, those supported and funded by the tobacco companies, ask why we're infringing on smokers' rights. I say that no one has the right to harm or endanger another fellow human being. This is not about smokers' rights; it's about the rights of all of our citizens to go freely into public, enclosed spaces and breathe the air freely.

Mr. Zimmer: Minister, there have been various comments from opponents of this legislation that indicate they have a lack of understanding regarding the new rules in place today. How do you respond to these complaints and concerns? Also, Minister, the economic effects of various jurisdictions going smoke-free still seem to be a point of contention with opponents of the legislation. Minister, can you provide this House with concrete examples of how this type of legislation will affect local communities?

Hon. Mr. Watson: In my own hometown of Ottawa, since the passage of the 100% smoke-free bylaw by city council, 181 new eateries have opened up. New York City saw an 8.7% increase in bar receipts. This legislation levels the playing field across the province.

What's most disappointing is the weak-kneed response from the Conservative Party on this particular piece of legislation. Exactly one half of the Tory caucus either didn't show up to vote for the legislation or, in fact, voted against it. One day John Tory supports the bill; another day he's attacking it. Today, we see the spectacle of my official opposition critic wanting us to water down the bill the very day it takes effect. The Leader of the Opposition also allows his caucus members to run all over the province, supporting big tobacco and anti-smoke-free Ontario rallies. I say to the Leader of the Opposition: Stop being a weeping willow on this issue; stop swaying back and forth; support the right of individuals to enjoy a smoke-free environment.

NATIVE LAND DISPUTE

Mr. Ted Chudleigh (Halton): My question is to the newly appointed Minister for Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Ontario, the only minister who in the history of Ontario has remained in cabinet after being found in breach of the Members' Integrity Act.

Interjections.

Mr. Chudleigh: Sorry, it's a fact.

Minister, under your watch, small businesses in Caledonia are dying a slow death. Some have already been forced to close their doors forever, and many others are struggling just to stay afloat. It has been three months, it's been 93 days, and small businesses have lost faith because of your government's delay in coming to terms with the economic reality on Main Street in Caledonia.

Your compensation announcement of earlier this week will not even pay the rent, and it certainly won't reopen those businesses that have been forced to close. Given the poor showing of leadership in Caledonia, I have to wonder then, Minister: Do small businesses mean anything to your government?

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar (Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship): Let me say that small businesses do mean a great deal to our government. That's why we created this new ministry to support them.

Our government is working very closely with local municipal officials, and we have already provided them with a $500,000 grant to invest in emergency issues. My colleague the Minister of Economic Development and Trade was there and actually has assured them that we will work very closely with them. Whatever assistance they need, we will provide it. This money is actually intended to provide very basic necessities to businesses that are currently suffering because of these issues that have happened in Caledonia.

Mr. Chudleigh: I point out that the Minister of Economic Development and Trade was not in Caledonia. He might have been in Brantford, but he certainly wasn't in Caledonia.

Your package is too little, too late, Minister. Some businesses have already had to close their doors for good. I wonder if the minister can answer me this: Why did it take three whole months -- 93 days -- of watching Caledonia's small businesses struggle before your government acknowledged the need for compensation? Why is that?

Hon. Mr. Takhar: Let me tell you this. First of all, we provided $100,000 to the municipality: $50,000 for communications, $50,000 to develop the economic recovery plan. We will continue to work closely with them to address the issue of small and medium-sized business or any business that suffers in that community. The Minister of Economic Development and Trade and the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs have shown quite the leadership, and I'm very proud of what our government has done, on this file.

EDUCATION FUNDING

Mr. Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): I have a question to the Minister of Education. The McGuinty government loves to brag about fixing our schools -- in fact, Dalton McGuinty even christened himself the education Premier -- but for thousands of students in Toronto schools, just being in class puts their health at risk. Take one high school, Parkdale Collegiate. Students there face exposed asbestos, loose ceiling tiles and vermin in the hallways and classrooms. Minister, do you think it's acceptable that our schools pose health risks to our students?

Hon. Sandra Pupatello (Minister of Education, minister responsible for women's issues): I appreciate this question. I am very interested to see this report, as I'm sure my education critic is as well. I too would have questions about what the priority projects are for all school boards, not just the Toronto school board but all of them. I don't think that this member opposite is suggesting that we would reach in and direct boards as to which projects are their priorities.

We have asked boards in particular -- the Toronto school board as well, which has received more than $300 million since we became the government; they certainly have had ample funding -- to look at their priority projects. We have many, many years to make up for neglect in the education sector. I will be the first to acknowledge that. But I can tell you that in the health and safety reports, on every single point this Toronto school board has improved and reduced the number of schools that are in desperate need of repair. I congratulate --

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Thank you, Minister. Supplementary.

Mr. Marchese: You can play "honest Iago" as much as you like, but the evidence from your own ministry, on a list of current capital expenditures on a school-by-school basis, reveals that you have spent but a pittance of what you had promised.

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Frank Haverkate is an air quality expert. In response to the parent network report, he said, "If these situations are going to be ignored ... there is a real potential that this could be impacting not only the health of the teachers and the staff working in the schools, but also the kids."

Despite your big promises, the problems are getting worse, not better. When will schools like Parkdale and Central Tech get the money they need to deal with asbestos, the mould and the vermin that are putting our kids at risk?

Hon. Ms. Pupatello: Let me say for starters that the Toronto District School Board has received increases in operating funding to provide more than 200 more caretakers in those schools in Toronto. This is a significant increase -- in operating overall, an 11% increase for the Toronto school board -- and this at a time, since 2003, that they have 10,000 fewer students. Clearly the funding is not the issue in this case.

I will tell you that on repairs, in our Good Places to Learn initiative, it is this government that is funding $124 million worth of repairs. Again, this is not a funding issue for the Toronto school board. Yes, the Toronto board has significant issues; yes, we are paying special attention to the operating processes at the Toronto board; but I will tell you that in almost every case we are working with every board --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.

EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

Mr. Jeff Leal (Peterborough): I'm not asking about pharmacists today. Today my question is to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. During my time as MPP for Peterborough, I've met with many employers from my riding who are concerned with the lack of skilled tradesmen in the province. The issue described to me is twofold: First, it's a challenge for an employer to locate skilled tradesmen, and second, there's a need for young people or those in career transition to be counselled in market-driven apprenticeship opportunities.

Minister, can you explain to me how the $1.8-million announcement you made in Peterborough last Thursday will deal with these two very important issues?

Hon. Christopher Bentley (Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities): I was pleased to be with my colleague from Peterborough in his community last week. We made the $1.8-million announcement to two good organizations that deliver the Job Connect program in his jurisdiction: the employment planning and counselling agency where we actually made the announcement, and also Fleming college.

To give you an example of what the money is used for: We saw an example of how one of the 1,500 people this year will be helped by this program. We met a young man who's now an apprentice with a horticultural employer. He'd received academic upgrading counselling, and now he's working in apprenticeship with an employer who needed a horticultural apprentice. This is a good example of how a young person gets a good skilled trade and an employer, such as this one in my colleague's fine community, finds the worker he needs to increase his business.

It's great news for Peterborough. It's great news for the 1,500 people who will benefit from this service.

Mr. Leal: Job Connect is an innovative and proactive grassroots program that will assist many individuals seeking job opportunities in Peterborough and the surrounding area. Finding that first job in their field of training is a daunting task for many graduates. How will this funding be used in schools and youth employment training centres to assist these young people to achieve their goals?

Hon. Mr. Bentley: The announcement we made was part of a $127-million, province-wide announcement. The Job Connect program is delivered at 129 sites, in more than 80 communities. Most importantly, 190,000 workers and thousands of employers will benefit.

We had two specific targets this year: first of all, how to make sure that new Canadians benefit from the type of bridge programming my colleague has introduced so that they get into the workforce faster; secondly, in the skilled trades, how we can improve and increase the number of apprenticeships and expand the number of opportunities for workers, such as the one we met in my colleague's riding, a benefit from apprenticeships. The types of services include job counselling, academic upgrading, work placements and help for employers in finding the skilled workers they need.

This is good news for Peterborough and good news for all communities in Ontario.

PHARMACISTS

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer (Kitchener-Waterloo): My question is for the Minister of Health. On the date of the introduction of Bill 102, in an attempt to demonize those who provide and those who receive professional allowances -- in fact you referred to them as "rebates" -- we now know there is a double standard because, as you and I know, Minister, the government itself collects rebates. So my question to you is, why is the government trying to eliminate allowances, or rebates, from local pharmacies while you collect rebates yourself? And you know what I'm talking about.

Hon. George Smitherman (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): With all due respect to the honourable member, first, they're widely known as rebates. There is an attempt, of course, to rename them, but this is what they've been referred to as for a long period of time. The honourable member says I know what she's referring to about collecting them ourselves, but I don't.

But I do think that what we seek to do in the province of Ontario is create a system where our pharmacists are being acknowledged --

Interjection.

Hon. Mr. Smitherman: You're not even in your seat.

Interjection.

Hon. Mr. Smitherman: You're not in your seat either -- for the work they do in supporting patients. That's why we've introduced a cognitive fee. That's why we've increased, by 7%, the dispensing fee. That's why we're going to create capacity in the markup so that they actually get a benefit from it. That's why we are going to work to develop a code of conduct that will allow some educational allowances to support important work that goes on.

There are elements of the rebates that continue to be murky. Even if you look at all the independent pharmacists who have presented -- some say that the figure is 40%, some say larger, and some say that rebates don't exist at all. This is why it continues to be important that we get to the heart --

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Supplementary?

Mrs. Witmer: Minister, let's call them rebates, because when you introduced your bill, in an attempt I think, as I said before, to demonize those who provide and those who collect them, you referred to them as rebates. Let's take a look at what the government does itself. They receive rebates. You prefer to call them supplier value-added programs. There are other individuals and groups, hospitals etc., who also receive rebates, or whatever you prefer to call them.

I guess my question to you is, are all of these rebates transparent, and are you going to ensure that they are transparent regardless of who receives them?

Hon. Mr. Smitherman: Now the honourable member has tried to introduce into the discussion some tricky language, but I don't get where she's coming from; I really don't. Where are you at on the issue of these rebates, I ask the honourable member? What I know for sure is that her record and her party's record with respect to pharmacy was that they increased by about 1%, seven cents, the amount of the dispensing fee increase they paid to pharmacists. That's the record of their government.

We want to increase that by 7%; that's worth $52 million. We want to introduce a cognitive fee -- that's worth $50 million -- to acknowledge the work that pharmacists do on the front line. We've proposed to re-create the capacity in the markup, $60 million worth of additional value for those independent pharmacies and others, and to develop with pharmacy, in partnership through the Ontario Pharmacists' Association and the pharmacy council, the capacity to move forward with a code of conduct that really does guide what is appropriate payment from generic companies. Right now it's very, very murky.

Mr. Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: When the member replied to his initial question, the Minister of Finance made a sexist comment and I ask you to ask him to withdraw and apologize.

The Speaker: I heard no such comment, but if it was made I'll give the opportunity to the minister to withdraw.

Interjection.

The Speaker: New question?

Ms. Shelley Martel (Nickel Belt): I have a question to the Minister of Health. I attended a rally today at Convocation Hall, where hundreds of community pharmacists came to express their serious concerns regarding Bill 102. They know, because they know their work better than anybody else, that the bill is not revenue-neutral and that many independent community pharmacists would close as a result. Pharmacists want to play a bigger role in the health care system. They want to provide increased important health care services, but they can't do that if they're forced out of work by Bill 102.

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When will you finally recognize that your bill has serious negative financial implications for community pharmacists, and when will you make the changes necessary to ensure that pharmacists and pharmacies will be able to offer high-quality services to the patients who depend on them?

Hon. Mr. Smitherman: I appreciate the question from the honourable member, because today she put her loving arms in wide embrace around the concept of rebates, but these remain to be very murky. There's nothing guiding them. There are no rules guiding them. We don't know what's involved in terms of trips, in terms of tickets to special events and the like. So I ask the honourable member, who's now cozied up with that group, to help to get to the bottom of the issue with respect to these rebates.

On point, to the question that the honourable member raises about alterations to our package: Like all of the bills that I've had the privilege of bringing forward and taking to committee, we do look for the opportunity, including supporting NDP amendments very often at committee, and we'll do that again. So next week, the committee will have the opportunity to consider some amendments, and I'm very open. My staff is meeting with the coalition. We've had 30 meetings with the Ontario Pharmacists' Association. This is very apt evidence that we're working closely, listening carefully and very willing to consider amendments that continue to advance good-quality care for patients, and if it can be of benefit to those parties, then we're --

The Speaker: Supplementary.

Ms. Martel: Isn't it strange that if the government gets a rebate for its purchase of flu vaccines, that's okay, but when generic producers give promotional allowances to pharmacists, somehow there's something hidden and wrong about that? Maybe the government needs to explain that contradiction to pharmacists in Ontario.

Here's the story of Rosanne Currie, who's a pharmacist and an owner of two rural pharmacies in Walkerton and Lucknow. Her pharmacy offers clinics to patients on diabetes, arthritis, heart health and osteoporosis. The pharmacy provided 400 flu shots last fall, even though she lost money because it cost her more to do than she got compensated from your government. She provides services to the nursing homes and residential lodges in the area, including being an active member in the infection control team, performing quality assurance audits for those same homes. She provides home visits to seniors, does pill splitting for the elderly, community seminars, and the list goes on and on. She made it clear yesterday that if this bill passes, the community pharmacy services will change drastically. The pharmacy retail business, especially in rural Ontario, will be --

The Speaker: Thank you. The question has been asked.

Hon. Mr. Smitherman: I have no doubt that the pharmacist spoken of is providing a fantastic service, but it really doesn't help to get at the heart of the matter if the honourable member is condoning all rebates and pretending that all of them are delivering direct patient services. We can't be certain of that. That's why we ask the honourable member, and other members of the committee, to work with us to get to the bottom of the matter, because we also know that our generic costs in the province are subsidizing a variety of these promotional allowances, which are not supporting the things we all agree are important for patients.

Of course, as we work towards bringing this bill back to the House, we're going to continue to work with people, to meet with them, to seek to address their concerns. I just think that there is an inconsistency there amongst the range of these rebates, promotional allowances, that are being paid. We think that it's murky and that it should be transparent. Accordingly, that's why it's so important that people continue to work to ask the hard and very direct question: "What is the nature of the rebates that you're receiving?" Because there is an inconsistent pattern across the province of Ontario.

ARTS AND CULTURAL FUNDING

Mr. Tony Ruprecht (Davenport): I have a question to the Minister of Culture. Toronto's cultural renaissance is creating a lot of excitement in Toronto, in our city and, in fact, beyond Toronto, in Ontario and beyond our borders. Great cities like Toronto need great cultural landmarks like the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Ballet School, the Canadian Opera Company, the Gardiner Museum, the Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Royal Ontario Museum.

These institutions represent a major engine for Ontario's cultural vitality, with important social and economic functions. They attract millions of people every year, making Toronto a preferred cultural tourism destination. Research indicates that many American tourists believe that because they've been in Toronto once, they've seen it all. But we know better. I believe that these cultural organizations are seven more reasons to visit Toronto and discover enlightening programs year after year.

What the people of Ontario want to know, and what we want to know, Madam Minister, is this: What is this government doing to help these seven institutions?

Hon. Caroline Di Cocco (Minister of Culture): This government, under the leadership of Dalton McGuinty, believes that it is important to invest in our cultural sector. I'm proud to say that our additional investment of $50.5 million, announced last March, will help the fundraising campaigns and help these hubs of excellence realize their visions of growth.

The province of Ontario's total investment for these seven projects is $152 million, plus land at $31 million. Our government has also recognized entertainment and creative clusters as one of the three Ontario economic sectors expected to experience the most rapid growth in the next 20 years.

We're on the side of the people of Ontario, because they understand the value of a vibrant and flourishing arts and cultural community. We support these projects because they enrich our quality of life and contribute to the economic prosperity of our province.

Mr. Ruprecht: I'm glad to see that the McGuinty government is doing something very substantive. One hundred and fifty-two million dollars and land valued at $31 million for these seven cultural projects is remarkable and a very good start, but these cultural institutions need support from the federal government as well. They are waiting and waiting for the federal government and their response, but that has not been forthcoming.

I'm concerned about this lack of response, since it places greater pressure on you to do even more. Are you able to find other innovative ways, or even other partners, to strengthen and support these seven projects and seven cultural institutions that we need here in Toronto and indeed in Ontario?

Hon. Ms. Di Cocco: I'm pleased to say that I've certainly contacted my federal counterpart and encouraged that they support these projects as well. Also, to capitalize on our assets and opportunities, our government is developing plans to foster an environment that is going to support even more growth and nurture our hubs of excellence.

Each year, millions of people across Ontario have the opportunity to experience these exhibits, performances and events in their own communities. These cultural renaissance projects are changing our province's cultural landscape and have generated an incredible amount of private sector support; it's estimated at more than $500 million. The collaboration among governments and the private sector, as well as individual and corporate donors, benefits our cultural institutions and helps shape who we are as a society.

SERVICES FOR THE
DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED

Mr. Norman W. Sterling (Lanark-Carleton): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. You have said that the residents of Rideau Regional Centre and its sister facilities will not be moved without the consent of their families. I have heard recently from the father of one resident, who is trying to work with your ministry to find an appropriate place for their 42-year-old son. He's six feet tall and very strong, but has the mental age of less than a three-year-old. He can't talk, doesn't understand directions and sometimes has to be restrained in order to prevent him from hurting himself and others. Staff at Rideau Regional Centre have been warned that no one person should try to restrain him on their own, for their own safety.

The father is worried his son won't have the services he requires if he moves out of the centre. At Rideau Regional Centre, he has a doctor, a dentist, psychologists, dietitians, nurses and physiotherapists, among others. He can move around the grounds with some degree of freedom. He has a swimming pool and a gym, and he has programs.

Madam Minister, how can you replicate this level of service at a group-home level?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur (Minister of Community and Social Services, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank the member of the opposition party for his question. I want to reassure him that no resident will be moved without the approval and co-operation of the family. I also want to reassure him -- I cannot speak to the case he is talking to me about, but I can say something. I have been visiting the Rideau Regional Centre and I have also visited the community where they receive these individuals. I can tell him that before they leave the institution, there is a program that is developed for them. They are connected with professionals in the community before they leave the institution.

I want to reassure you that the service he has been receiving will be available in the community where the person will be moved.

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PETITIONS

FREDERICK BANTING HOMESTEAD

Mr. Jim Wilson (Simcoe-Grey): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Sir Frederick Banting was the man who discovered insulin and was Canada's first Nobel Prize recipient; and

"Whereas this great Canadian's original homestead, located in the town of New Tecumseth, is deteriorating and in danger of destruction because of the inaction of the Ontario Historical Society; and

"Whereas the town of New Tecumseth, under the leadership of Mayor Mike MacEachern and former Mayor Larry Keogh, has been unsuccessful in reaching an agreement with the Ontario Historical Society to use part of the land to educate the public about the historical significance of the work of Sir Frederick Banting;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the Minister of Culture and the Liberal government step in to ensure that the Banting homestead is kept in good repair and preserved for generations to come."

I've signed that petition, and I want to thank Dr. R.W. Banting for sending it to me.

TRADE DEVELOPMENT

Mr. John Wilkinson (Perth-Middlesex): "Petition to the Ontario Legislative Assembly:

"Fair Auto Trade with South Korea

"Whereas more than 260,000 Ontarians make their living and support their families through their careers in the auto industry in Ontario, which has become the pre-eminent manufacturer of motor vehicles in North America; and

"Whereas Canada imports more than 130,000 vehicles annually from the Republic of Korea, which imports virtually no vehicles ... from Canada and does none of its manufacturing or assembly in Ontario or in any other Canadian jurisdiction, even though Canadian auto workers make the best-quality, most cost-effective vehicles in the world; and

"Whereas the government of Canada aims for a free trade agreement that would include the Republic of Korea in 2006, does not address the structural trade imbalance in the auto sector, and includes no measures to require Korea to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to Canadian-made vehicles, auto parts and other value-added services or components;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the government of Ontario insist that the government of Canada either cease free trade discussions with the Republic of Korea or make any proposed agreement contingent on fair and equal access by each country to the other's domestic markets in manufactured products such as motor vehicles and in value-added services, and ensure that Korea commits to manufacturing vehicles in Canada if Korea proposes to continue to sell vehicles in Canada."

I look forward to giving this to our new page Tyler.

HIGHWAY 35

Ms. Laurie Scott (Haliburton-Victoria-Brock): "Highway 35 Four-Laning

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas modern highways are economic lifelines to communities across Ontario and crucial to the growth of Ontario's economy; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation has been planning the expansion of Highway 35, and that expansion has been put on hold by the McGuinty government; and

"Whereas Highway 35 provides an important economic link in the overall transportation system -- carrying commuter, commercial and high tourist volumes to and from the Kawartha Lakes area and Haliburton; and

"Whereas the final round of public consultation has just been rescheduled;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the Liberal government move swiftly to complete the four-laning of Highway 35 after the completion of the final public consultation."

This was brought to me by many members from my riding of Haliburton-Victoria-Brock.

TRADE DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn (Oakville): "Whereas more than 260,000 Ontarians make their living and support their families through their careers in the auto industry in Ontario, which has become the pre-eminent manufacturer of motor vehicles in North America; and

"Whereas Canada imports more than 130,000 vehicles annually from the Republic of Korea, which imports virtually no vehicles or parts from Canada and does none of its manufacturing or assembly in Ontario or in any other Canadian jurisdiction, even though Canadian auto workers make the best-quality, most cost-effective vehicles in the world; and

"Whereas the government of Canada aims for a free trade agreement that would include the Republic of Korea in 2006, does not address the structural trade imbalance in the auto sector, and includes no measures to require Korea to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to Canadian-made vehicles, auto parts and other value-added services or components;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the government of Ontario insist that the government of Canada either cease free trade discussions with the Republic of Korea or make any proposed agreement contingent on fair and equal access by each country to the other's domestic markets in manufactured products such as motor vehicles and in value-added services, and ensure that Korea commits to manufacturing vehicles in Canada if Korea proposes to continue to sell vehicles in Canada."

LONG-TERM CARE

Mr. Ted Arnott (Waterloo-Wellington): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and it reads as follows:

"Whereas long-term-care funding levels are too low to enable homes to provide the care and services our aging seniors and parents who are residents of long-term-care homes need, with the respect and dignity that they deserve; and

"Whereas, even with recent funding increases and a dedicated staff who do more than their best, there is still not enough time available to provide the care residents need. For example, 10 minutes, and sometimes less, is simply not enough time to assist a resident to get up, dressed, to the bathroom and then to the dining room for breakfast; and

"Whereas those unacceptable care and service levels are now at risk of declining;

"We, the undersigned, who are members of family councils, residents' councils and/or supporters of long-term care in Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to increase operating funding to long-term-care homes by $306.6 million, which will allow the hiring of more staff to provide an additional 20 minutes of care per resident per day over the next two years (2006 and 2007)."

Of course, this petition enjoys my support, and it comes to me from families who support residents at the WestMount long-term-care residence in Kitchener.

Mrs. Carol Mitchell (Huron-Bruce): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas long-term-care funding levels are too low to enable homes to provide the care and services our aging seniors and parents who are residents of long-term-care homes need, with the respect and dignity that they deserve; and

"Whereas, even with recent funding increases and a dedicated staff who do more than their best, there is still not enough time available to provide the care residents need. For example, 10 minutes, and sometimes less, is simply not enough time to assist a resident to get up, dressed, to the bathroom and then to the dining room for breakfast; and

"Whereas those unacceptable care and service levels are now at risk of declining;

"We, the undersigned, who are members of family councils, residents' councils and/or supporters of long-term care in Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to increase operating funding to long-term-care homes by $306.6 million, which will allow the hiring of more staff to provide an additional 20 minutes of care per resident per day over the next two years...."

CONVENIENCE STORES

Mr. John O'Toole (Durham): It's a pleasure to present this petition on behalf of small business in Ontario. Because of CFIB, we're here today. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Korean Businessmen's Association (OKBA) represents 3,000 family-owned and -operated small convenience store businesses across Ontario who are being driven out of business by the McGuinty government; and

"Whereas the McGuinty government has hurt OKBA members by hiking WSIB rates, hiking commercial hydro rates, and dumping the high costs of implementing Bill 164 on these small family-run businesses;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"Convenience stores are the last family-run businesses in every neighbourhood throughout Ontario and are in urgent need of both compensation and help from the government to allow replacement categories" for products that have been banned, such as tobacco. The prohibitive practices of the McGuinty government are hurting small business.

I'm pleased to sign this in support of small businesses in Ontario.

TRADE DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Bob Delaney (Mississauga West): I'm pleased to join with my legislative colleagues this afternoon, and certainly with the management and labour force at DaimlerChrysler in Brampton, in this petition to the Ontario Legislative Assembly. It reads as follows:

"Whereas more than 260,000 Ontarians make their living and support their families through their careers in the auto industry in Ontario, which has become the pre-eminent manufacturer of motor vehicles in North America; and

"Whereas Canada imports more than 130,000 vehicles annually from the Republic of Korea, which imports virtually no vehicles or parts from Canada and does none of its manufacturing or assembly in Ontario or in any other Canadian jurisdiction, even though Canadian auto workers make the best-quality, most cost-effective vehicles in the world; and

"Whereas the government of Canada aims for a free trade agreement that would include the Republic of Korea in 2006, does not address the structural trade imbalance in the auto sector, and includes no measures to require Korea to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to Canadian-made vehicles, auto parts and other value-added services or components;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the government of Ontario insist that the government of Canada either cease free trade discussions with the Republic of Korea or make any proposed agreement contingent on fair and equal access by each country to the other's domestic markets in manufactured products such as motor vehicles and in value-added services, and ensure that Korea commits to manufacturing vehicles in Canada if Korea proposes to continue to sell vehicles in Canada."

This is an excellent petition. I'm pleased to sign it, to support it and to ask page Gregory to carry it for me.

HIGHWAY 26

Mr. Jim Wilson (Simcoe-Grey): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the redevelopment of Highway 26 was approved by MPP Jim Wilson and the previous PC government in 1999; and

"Whereas a number of horrific fatalities and accidents have occurred on the old stretch of Highway 26; and

"Whereas the redevelopment of Highway 26 is critical to economic development and job creation in Simcoe-Grey;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the Liberal government stop the delay of the Highway 26 redevelopment and act immediately to ensure that the project is finished on schedule, to improve safety for area residents and provide economic development opportunities and job creation in Simcoe-Grey."

Of course, I agree and have signed that petition.

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OPPOSITION DAY

PROVINCIAL PURCHASING POLICY /
POLITIQUE D'ACHAT PROVINCIALE

Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): This is the NDP opposition day motion:

That the Legislative Assembly calls on the government to sustain and encourage good-paying manufacturing jobs in Ontario, and in particular, to implement a "made in Ontario" policy that ensures that streetcars, subway cars, and rail transport cars for Ontario municipalities that are purchased with funds in whole or in part from the government of Ontario are manufactured in Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): I think I heard Mr. Hampton move opposition motion 3. Mr. Hampton.

Mr. Hampton: This is an important issue, for a number of reasons. I think all of us would acknowledge that the price of gasoline is sky-high and that, given the unwillingness of either the federal government or the provincial government to intervene to ensure more rational gasoline prices, the price of gasoline is probably going to continue to increase. So we're going to see more and more people in cities and even in towns across Ontario turning to urban transit as an affordable and reliable way to travel back and forth to work and to everything else that they must do. I think it's a fair assumption that urban transit is going to become more and more important, not just in Ontario but elsewhere in other provinces, in North America and indeed around the world.

This is a real opportunity for Ontario, at this time, to stake out a large and significant part in manufacturing urban transit equipment, whether it be subway cars, streetcars, light rail cars or other forms of urban transit cars. This is obviously going to be a growth industry. Not only is it a growth industry, but I think anyone who's familiar with the industry knows that there are a lot of spin-offs from this industry. It's not just a single, solitary, narrow manufacturing sector; there are all kinds of parts spin-offs, technology spin-offs, process spin-offs. I would think that Ontario, given the fact that we're a very urban province, and urban centres are growing all the time, would very much want to be part of, and in fact take a majority interest or a big interest in, the manufacture of urban transit equipment: subway cars, streetcars, light rail cars or, as I say, other forms of transit equipment.

In fact, if you look back over the last 20 years, it has been the policy of successive governments not only to make sure that we invest in this sector, but to make sure that where urban transit equipment -- urban transit rail cars, streetcars and so on -- is needed for Ontario cities, it is manufactured in Ontario, and to make sure that, as much as possible, we grow this sector of our manufacturing base. That has been the policy of successive governments. The government that I was part of, the NDP government, worked very hard, for example, to establish the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay as a major manufacturer of urban rail transportation equipment. The Conservative government following made every effort to ensure that the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay grew and continued to benefit from the growth and the development of urban transit systems in Ontario.

But what we're seeing now under the McGuinty government is almost a complete reversal of that policy, and it stands out in complete contrast to what's happening in other provinces and indeed what's happening even in the United States.

We saw just a few weeks ago the province of Quebec announce their financing of an over $1-billion contract for the building of new subway cars for the Montreal subway system, the Montreal metro: $1 billion. But part of that financing agreement by the government of Quebec was a requirement that the manufacture of those rail transit vehicles be done in Quebec to create and sustain this industry in Quebec, to create and sustain good-paying manufacturing jobs in Quebec.

In the United States, if an urban transit system, whether it be, for example, the Los Angeles transit or New York transit or Boston transit system, or any other transit system in the United States, receives any amount of American federal government funding for the manufacture of transit vehicles, half of the manufacturing work must be done within the United States. So obviously the United States has an urban rail transit/urban transit policy to ensure that that industry continues to have a base in the United States, that American suppliers, American manufacturers and American workers continue to play an important role in what is, by all accounts, a growth industry.

So that's what is happening in the province of Quebec, right next door to us; that's what is happening right next door to us across the United States. But what do we see here in Ontario? What we see here in Ontario under the McGuinty government is a policy that is headed in the opposite direction. The McGuinty government is going to put up $200 million of financing for the city of Ottawa to purchase rail transit equipment that will be manufactured in California while workers who have the experience, who have the knowledge, who have the ability to manufacture this rail transit equipment at the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay are laid off. It has become very clear that that is the McGuinty government's policy.

Now, there is an opportunity here. There's an opportunity here to not only sustain employment at that excellent manufacturing facility in Thunder Bay; there is actually an opportunity to position that manufacturing facility in Thunder Bay to be a leader not just in Ontario, not just in Canada, not just in North America, but a world leader in terms of the manufacture of urban transportation equipment: subway cars, streetcars, light rail cars, and other forms of urban transportation equipment. There's a real opportunity here to position that plant, to make Thunder Bay a world leader in terms of this kind of manufacture.

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I think we all know that the government of Ontario is going to have to make very big contributions to urban transit systems in this province over the years to come. So when opportunity is being lost here, it's not just those workers who are on layoff -- and many of them have been on layoff now for an extended period of time -- but an opportunity is being lost, an opportunity, to ensure that Ontario gets a major portion and an important portion of the manufacture of urban rail transit equipment now and going into the future. A positioning opportunity is being lost.

If this were just happening in isolation, that would be bad enough, but in fact within the city of Thunder Bay, the McGuinty government's policy of driving hydroelectricity rates through the roof has already eliminated over 1,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs in the pulp sector, the paper sector and in the manufacture of industrial chemicals.

This issue of positioning this manufacturing facility in Thunder Bay to be a world leader is, by itself, an important issue; ensuring that skilled, capable, knowledgeable workers don't continue on layoff and that more skilled, capable and competent workers at this manufacturing facility aren't laid off in the future. In addition to doing that, there's also the issue of the loss, as I say, already under the McGuinty government of 1,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs in the pulp sector, the paper sector and industrial chemical sector as a result of this government's policy of driving electricity rates through the roof.

We've seen over the last few months the McGuinty government's willingness to put hundreds of millions of dollars into the auto parts sector and into the auto assembly sector. We've seen this government boast about how much money it's willing to put into some areas of innovation and research. But here's a situation where the government is going to spend this $200 million and get no benefit, or virtually no benefit for it, in terms of a manufacturing sector that can grow, can develop and can be an important source of economic activity, not just for Thunder Bay but for all of Ontario, and an important source of good-paying, sustainable manufacturing jobs.

I call on the members of the McGuinty government to recognize how wrong-headed their policy is. The McGuinty government, if they're going to finance $200 million for the purchase of rail transit cars by the city of Ottawa for city of Ottawa transit, should step in and simply say: "Look, we're implementing a made-in-Ontario policy. We want to see the manufacturing plant in Thunder Bay continue to grow, continue to develop expertise and continue to be at the cutting edge of this kind of work."

If the McGuinty government can do it for the auto sector, if they can do it in terms of money for research and development in other sectors of the economy, why wouldn't they also do it in terms of the manufacture of urban rail transit equipment, especially in the context of the city of Thunder Bay?

McGuinty government members will always show up for photo ops and will always show up for this announcement or that announcement, so I'm going to be very interested today to see how they vote, because this does come down to an issue of positioning Ontario, particularly positioning Thunder Bay to be a market leader in terms of the manufacture of urban rail transportation equipment. It's got an especially important impact on an economy that has been hurt by the policies of the McGuinty government, an economy in the Thunder Bay region where thousands of hard-working people have been laid off. There's a real economic impact here, and a real jobs impact.

I just want to conclude by pointing out that if this policy is good enough for the United States -- and it is, the "Buy America" policy of the United States -- if this policy is good enough for the province of Quebec, then where is the McGuinty government? Why have they so seriously lost their way? If the McGuinty government sees this as an acceptable policy for the auto sector -- and they do; they attempt to boast about it every day -- if they see it as an acceptable policy in terms of some kinds of research and development, if it's an acceptable policy and a good policy in those areas, why have they forgotten Thunder Bay? Why have they forgotten the workers of Thunder Bay, the economy of Thunder Bay and the important manufacturing base of Thunder Bay?

I'm going to be very interested to see how the Liberal members of the government vote and if they're prepared to recognize that what's good for the auto sector is also good for the manufacturer of urban transit equipment. What is good in terms of creating jobs in southern Ontario ought to be good as well in terms of creating jobs in a northern Ontario city like Thunder Bay. When the McGuinty government has destroyed over 1,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs in the city of Thunder Bay through its policy of driving electricity rates through the roof, are they prepared now to take a positive step in terms of the economy and the workers of Thunder Bay and ensure that some benefits are put in place -- long-term, sustainable benefits -- in a manufacturing area that's going to grow?

That's the gist of the argument. That's the gist of this issue. The McGuinty government has let the workers of Thunder Bay down. They've let the economy of Thunder Day down. The McGuinty government is headed in totally the wrong direction, especially when you compare the McGuinty government's lack of policy in this area with what is happening very positively in Quebec and what has been the long-term policy objective of the "Buy America" strategy in the United States.

I'll be sharing my time with the member for Timmins-James Bay. Thank you, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Hon. Donna H. Cansfield (Minister of Transportation): I'm pleased to rise to speak to the motion before the House today. It is essential to keep our people and goods moving through Ontario. Our quality of life and our economy depend upon it. That is why our government is making record investments in our transportation infrastructure, both on our highways and in our public transit systems.

Congestion on our highways not only costs the economy but also means less time with our families and with our friends. That is why we are taking a balanced approach towards a better use of our existing infrastructure and plan and prioritize future expansion of our highway and transit network.

The McGuinty government is on the side of commuters. Our goal is to ensure that public transit is a viable alternative to people using their car. We need to ensure it's efficient so that we can get more people onto the buses, streetcars, trains and subways that will ease congestion on our roads, improve the air we breathe and, ultimately, our quality of life. That is why we are making a $1.2-billion investment in transit this year. That's the largest investment in over a decade.

The McGuinty government is showing our commitment to public transit by being the first government in Ontario to offer municipalities a reliable and stable source of transit funding through the hugely successful provincial gas tax program. Over the first five years of the program, we are investing $1 billion in transit across Ontario, providing municipalities with funding to purchase new buses and other transit equipment and to expand transit services. In this, the second year of the program, 110 municipalities will be receiving $232 million in gas tax funding, up from $156 million in the first year. These results are a clear success. Ridership is up 3.4% across the province. To put it in perspective, that is the equivalent of taking 18 million cars and trips off the roads every year.

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The McGuinty government is committed to getting public transit back on track after years of neglect from previous governments. In addition to our major investments in municipal transit systems, we are moving forward to take a region-wide approach to creating a seamless and integrated transit system, and prioritizing our transportation planning in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton.

That is why I would invite all members of the House to support our proposed legislation to create the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, the GTTA. If passed, our proposal will meet the growing number and growing needs of commuters in this region and lay the foundation to bring together the province, municipalities and local transit agencies.

Commuters do not see municipal boundaries. People want to ensure that they can get from Hamilton to Whitby, Richmond Hill to Toronto, quickly and efficiently.

If passed, the GTTA will create an integrated and more convenient transportation network. The GTTA's transportation plan will conform to our growth plan and our greenbelt objectives and municipal official plans. The growth plan for the greater Golden Horseshoe sees transit as the top priority for moving people.

Our government has made the safety and reliability of Ontario's transportation infrastructure, including public transit, a priority. In addition to our provincial investments, we are dedicating $838 million this year to expand and modernize public transit in the greater Toronto Area alone.

We've created Move Ontario, a new one-time, $1.2-billion investment in Ontario's public transit systems and municipal roads and bridges. Move Ontario means $670 million that can be used to extend the TTC subway to York region, $95 million that can be used for the Brampton AcceleRide program, and $65 million that can be used for the Mississauga Transitway.

We are proud of the investments we have made in public transit. When making transit investment, this government believes that people should get the best value for their money. That is why we believe that purchases of transit vehicles should be done in an open, fair and competitive bidding process. This will ensure the best outcome for transit riders and the best value for taxpayer dollars.

We continue to work with municipalities, our transit partners and industry to ensure that we are making the right investment in transit systems across this province. Our goal is to ensure that public transit is a viable alternative to taking the car. Our quality of life, our environment and our economy depend on it. That is why we're working to ensure that commuters are first and that we are getting the very best value for taxpayers' dollars.

Since 2003, 30 Bombardier bi-level railcars have been delivered to GO Transit in contracts worth $90 million. The province and GO Transit recently invested another $55 million to add 22 new bi-level railcars to the GO Transit fleet. They are currently being manufactured at Bombardier's Thunder Bay plant and delivery will start later this year.

The city of Ottawa has announced Siemens as its preferred partner on the O-Train LRT project.

Municipalities are free to make purchasing decisions that best meet the needs of their communities, and we encourage them to do so. That means better value for transit riders, better value for municipalities and better value for Ontario's economy by encouraging a strong and a competitive industry.

Ontario is part of a global economy, and we, as a government, must strive to balance between the technologies we have at our disposal here in Ontario and what is available throughout the world. Companies like Siemens and Bombardier have the ability to harness the benefits of global technology to provide sustainable transportation solutions while ensuring that they are creating jobs in Ontario. Our obligation is to support technology and employment growth while ensuring that technology adopted for Ontarians is the safest, most advanced and most sustainable for their tax dollars.

We are on the side of Ontario's businesses which help Ontario prosper. That's why we have created the Ministry of Research and Innovation, which invests in projects throughout Ontario, including the new medical and related sciences discovery district, MaRS, in Toronto and the Waterloo Research and Technology Park; and introduced a $500-million advanced manufacturing investment strategy that provides loans to help industry stay afloat. We've introduced a refundable apprenticeship training tax credit, and we've started to phase out the province's capital tax, which taxes investment instead of profit, by introducing a 5% tax rate cut in January 2007, a full two years earlier than originally planned. We have encouraged strong job creation, with almost 230,000 net new jobs since we were elected.

In conclusion, we believe in Ontario businesses and we believe in public transit. We are making public transit a priority by providing a stable source of funding through the provincial gas tax program, by introducing legislation to create the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, by opening the HOV lanes to help public transit users save time; by investing $1.2 billion this year in public transit and municipal roads and bridges through Move Ontario, by making record investments in GO Transit and transit across the province, and by our belief in a fair and open procurement process.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr. Ted Chudleigh (Halton): I suppose it's our turn.

It's an interesting motion: "That the Legislative Assembly calls on the government to sustain and encourage good-paying manufacturing jobs in Ontario, and in particular, to implement a `made in Ontario' policy that ensures streetcars, subway cars, and rail transport cars for Ontario municipalities that are purchased with funds in whole or in part from the government of Ontario, are manufactured in Ontario."

It's an interesting one because the Ontario government, which has put, I think, $200 million into the project of a light rail transit system for Ottawa, apparently put that money into that project with no strings attached. It's not surprising, I suppose, that they would do that, that they would put this money into that project with no strings attached, because it's quite obvious that this government does not have a policy regarding private sector investment of this nature.

You know, a policy like this, strictly speaking, may contravene NAFTA, for instance. However, in NAFTA there is a specific exclusion. When a municipality or a level of government wants to make a purchase and put certain strings on it, there is an exclusion. This is allowed under NAFTA when a municipality or a government is making these kinds of purchases.

That exclusion does not occur when you're dealing with the purchase of wines. If the Ontario government's own stores, the LCBO stores, want to make a special project or a special purchase of Ontario wines or promote Ontario wines in some way that isn't equal or fair to California wines or wines from other places in the world, that is not allowed under NAFTA. However, in the case of streetcars or rail cars or buses that are purchased by the municipality, it is allowed.

In the province of Quebec, they have a policy in this regard. That policy would talk to having, for instance, 70% Quebec content in the products. This is something that isn't unusual with provinces. It tends to develop or assist in industries being able to create or maintain industries within their jurisdictions. That's probably a good thing, providing the purchase price is still getting good value for taxpayers' money. I think that's one of the criteria.

Quebec has a policy that has three elements. First of all, there's price. Getting fair value or good value for taxpayers' money is always an important part of any policy. Secondly, the policy indicates that you have to honour trade agreements, and in the purchase of railcars or streetcars or buses for municipalities, that would honour either the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or the World Trade Organization or NAFTA agreement. Thirdly, there has to be an economic benefit to Quebec. That's their policy: an economic benefit to Quebec.

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I think those are good criteria to put in place when you are bringing in a program that is going to spend $200 million -- not an inconsiderable sum -- of Ontario taxpayers' money. It would be prudent for the government of Ontario to put some kind of criteria around that $200 million that would bring some benefit to the province of Ontario while protecting taxpayers' dollars and making sure that good value for the money was in fact received.

It is a clear and yet flexible policy that the province of Quebec has, which this government of Ontario, the McGuinty government, doesn't appear to have. They always start out their talks by saying, "We have a plan. We have a plan for prosperity in Ontario." But when you see things like this happening, that plan seems to be more vapour. It seems to be out there in cyberspace someplace. It's out there in somebody's imagination, perhaps. We don't see it in hard copy, on paper. We don't see it in this House.

Over the last year to year and a half, there have been over 80,000 manufacturing jobs lost. I could run down that list of manufacturing jobs that have been lost in Ontario: companies like the pottery manufacturers and Nacan Starch in Collingwood; companies in Milton; companies in Burlington; companies in southwestern Ontario; the Nestlé plant in Chesterville, Ontario, which used to be the largest instant coffee manufacturing plant in North America, is shut down now. Just last week the government made an announcement that it is putting a team in place to help with the transition of that plant. The announcement was made over a year ago, and they're just getting around now to putting a plan in place to help some of those people who are out of work.

It's interesting: The unemployment rate in this province is something like 6.2%, 6.1%; Perhaps it is 6.3%. But when you're unemployed, the unemployment rate is 100%. So for the unemployed people, the people who don't have gainful employment in this province, 6.2% or 6.1% doesn't mean anything to them. When they lose their job, that unemployment rate is at 100%. That's something that I don't think is clearly recognized by this government.

Some of the policies of this government really make me wonder whether or not it is not bent -- they seem to be working towards making Ontario into an economic wasteland. The economic engine of this great country, which has always been Ontario, seems to be deteriorating and not going forward with concrete policies that are building on the strength of this province; for instance, our energy costs. One of the criteria for any company operating or thinking of operating in Ontario or moving to Ontario or continuing to operate in Ontario has to be the cost of energy that they are going to use in their manufacturing or business pursuits. The cost of energy rates very high when finding a location where you are going to operate as a business.

Of course, when this government was getting elected, it promised to maintain the cap on electricity prices at 4.3 cents per kilowatt hour. It wasn't very long, I think two or three months after they got elected, that they decided the 4.3 wasn't feasible, and it went to 4.7. Then it went to 5.5, and it has gone up again May 1. Overall, there has been a 55% increase in the cost of energy. Well, if an industry looks at Ontario and says, "They said three years ago that they were going to maintain a cap, and now we're looking here at 55%, over half as much again in the cost of electricity." I mean, what's it going to be in the future?

This government doesn't seem to have a plan on how to hold down energy prices or at least move them up in concert with other jurisdictions with which we're competitive. But they've gone holus-bolus: a 55% increase. It has affected household bills. It has also very drastically affected the list of companies that have gone out of business in this province. In fact, every company in Ontario has been affected by this in a negative way.

They talked about closing the coal plants. It was talked about again in the House today, and we asked for a date and whether or not they're going to stand up and meet that date. I think everybody understands that you can't take 25% of the capacity of this province to produce electricity out of the system without replacing it. I think everybody outside of this House understands, anyway, and we understand over on this side of the House that there's no way you can replace 25% of the power of this province in the next year and a half.

The government's promise was to remove all coal generation capacity by 2007, and we cannot physically replace the energy that that would remove from Ontario in that period of time. If that can't be done, then obviously the coal plants aren't going to close; hopefully they're not going to close. Although we all want cleaner air, we all want the lights on as well. If those energy plants close, we're going to have brownouts and blackouts across this province, and companies are going to have to shut down because they don't have electricity to turn the wheels. It just doesn't make any sense at all.

So when a business looks at Ontario from the perspective of energy costs, and they look at the cost and the supply of energy, they say, "What is this province doing? What is this government doing? Why are they talking about these coal plants that they're going to take off-line?" Maybe, just maybe, this government is so nuts that they'll actually do it, and if they actually do it, that industry that is going to try to operate here would perhaps be operating two or three days a week, depending on the supply of power. Of course, you can't operate that way, not in today's environment. The company would be out of business. So why would they operate in Ontario, and if they were thinking of moving, why wouldn't they ramp that up and get out of the province in a planned and orderly way before that disaster hits Ontario?

In essence, this government is destroying the confidence of business, and destroying the confidence of business is something that is very expensive and very difficult to turn around. It's going to take many years to build that confidence up again.

You know, there are other promises this government made: promises about taxes. The Premier, then the Leader of the Opposition, stood in front of the television cameras during the last election and promised that there would be no tax increases: "We won't increase your taxes. We won't lower them either." That was the promise. Well, what did he do? In his first budget after being elected, he raised taxes in Ontario: the largest single tax increase in Ontario's history. He didn't just break it a little tiny bit; he broke it as much as he could possibly break it.

Interjection.

Mr. Chudleigh: The member from Stoney Creek is defending the promise-breaker, but that's all right. It's interesting that they are so enhanced in the rightness of breaking promises in order to sit on that side of the House. I think there's a moral compass that is missing when that kind of philosophy comes through.

You know, the health tax was brought in. The small business tax was headed for 4%; it was at 6%. It now sits at 8%. So the small business tax is basically twice what it should be. It's 100% more than it was when we left office. These are companies that hire almost 80% of the people in Ontario. They create a tremendous amount of prosperity in this province, and yet they have doubled the income tax rate on these small companies.

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Ontario also has the second-highest tax on the manufacturing industry in all of Canada. We've got the most manufacturing; it would stand to reason that we would be the most competitive in our taxes on this sector. But no, that's not the case; we are the second-highest in the manufacturing sector.

The capital equipment tax: We had a plan that it was to be eliminated, I believe in 2007 or 2006, this year. It was gradually being cut back. This is a tax where if a company wants to buy a new piece of equipment -- that's a good thing; that probably involves more jobs or making jobs more secure or making their production more secure -- if they purchase it, they then have to pay the government an additional tax on it. It's a non-productive tax. It is one of the worst taxes that a manufacturing or business-oriented province or jurisdiction could possibly have. So getting rid of that tax was a very good thing, and yet since this government has been elected, that capital tax has stayed exactly where it was.

The health care system: This government promised to provide more and better health care, when you need it, where you need it. What did they do? In the first part of their mandate, they delisted eye exams from OHIP; they delisted chiropractors and physiotherapists. All of those costs have come off the government and gone on to individuals within Ontario.

It's a sad day that this government doesn't seem to have the policies in place that allow industry to have confidence in where this province is headed.

The tax system that the Liberals seem to be in love with is more and more taxes. This goes back for many years. If you look back at the Peterson years -- 1984 was the last year that the Conservatives brought in a budget. Larry Grossman was the Treasurer then, and the budget that he brought in was for $24 billion. Well, in 1990, Bob Nixon brought in the last budget of the Peterson years, and that budget was for $48.8 billion -- more than double what Larry Grossman's last budget was. The Liberals were in power for about six and a half years, and they actually doubled the amount of taxes that they took from Ontarians. In this case, when Mr. McGuinty was elected Premier, the province of Ontario was collecting about $65 billion in taxes; this year we brought in a budget, I believe, for $82 billion. That's a 26% increase in just three years. This government is in love with taxes; it is in love with spending your taxes and your dollars.

In the procurement business, when we're procuring rail cars or procuring something that municipalities or provincial governments have a hand in, I would look back on the water bombers that the Ministry of Natural Resources purchased from Bombardier back in 1995, 1996, 1997. We made arrangements with Bombardier for those purchases that those water bombers would be assembled in Ontario. It was a large contract -- I think it was a little more than $200 million -- but Ontario got the assembly of those water bombers. That was a good thing for Ontario. There was a plant that was found in the near north, and those water bombers were assembled in that hanger. The result of that is that there's an industry still there today, with huge employment. They assemble water bombers, and they're being shipped all over the world. We have water bombers in Greece; we've sold water bombers to Turkey; we've sold water bombers in South America and Europe -- in Finland, I believe. It's a great business. That's the kind of policy that can drive an industry and create jobs in Ontario, and that kind of policy is absolutely absent from this government. It's absent from this $200-million project that's going into Ottawa. It is absent, which is the reason this motion came into being.

They always start by saying they have a plan, but their plan, such as it is, doesn't appear to be very comprehensive. That economic plan is not doing the pharmacists any good in this province. There are perhaps 3,500 pharmacists in this province, and 300 to 500 of them are going to go out of business with the policies that the Minister of Health is bringing in in Bill 102. He is going to eliminate $500 million of private money from the pharmacists' income, and he's going to replace it with $50 million from the public sector. How that makes sense, I can't figure out, and how the pharmacists are going to make up that drop from $500 million to $50 million in their incomes -- they're not all going to be able to do it. If they are small pharmacists or if they are in remote communities, they're going to be out of business. They're not going to be able to survive.

The CGAs: That's another thing, the certified general accountants in Ontario. There is a piece of paper coming through the Attorney General's office that, if he decides to put it into effect -- I think he has to make a decision by June 22, but if he decides to put that into effect, the certified general accountants in this province are going to have a very difficult time surviving, because they are going to take somewhere between 40% and 60% of their business and move it out of the certified general accountants' offices into the chartered accountants' offices. That's not fair, and that was never the intent of the legislation either. But this government seems to be sitting on its hands while these kinds of things take place in the province, and they are not working to the benefit of Ontario.

I see that my time is up, so I'm going to end there.

Hon. David Caplan (Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal, Deputy Government House Leader): Oh, take more time.

Mr. Chudleigh: I'm going to share my time with the member for Durham, and I know that he will do a terrific job. I know the member for Durham is very succinct when he talks about these kinds of things, I say to the minister of infrastructure, and perhaps he's a little more brutal than I am on the government and you would rather have me speaking than him. But be that as it may, I take that as a compliment, and I will now pass the torch to the next speaker.

Mr. Khalil Ramal (London-Fanshawe): I am always honoured and privileged to stand up to speak on many different occasions, different issues. Today we are speaking on an opposition day motion brought by the leader of the third party, Mr. Hampton.

We've been listening carefully to what he said. He talked about a lot of things. He talked about our record as a government. Many people across the province of Ontario will listen to him, but they are not going to agree with him, because our record and our results prove his accusations are wrong. We invest heavily in infrastructure in the province of Ontario, more than any government for the last 20 or 30 years. We have a great minister for infrastructure, and he pays a lot of attention to the infrastructure of this province, because for many different years no one paid attention to the important issue of infrastructure.

I had the privilege today to visit the Brampton DaimlerChrysler factory and listen to them, and they said that infrastructure is the most important element for their business, to keep their business competitive and give them the ability to compete on a national and international level. We have to invest in infrastructure to make Ontario and its cities accessible, whether it's from Canada to the United States or from city to city.

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This is our government listening and responding to the people who decided to invest a lot of money in our province. As a result of this investment, many great companies like Chrysler, Ford, GM, Bombardier, Siemens and many other companies come into Ontario to invest in this great province because they know that if they ask the government to do something for them, they will respond, because the government of Ontario knows how important infrastructure and manufacturing jobs are for the government and for Ontarians. That's why we invest heavily in supporting many different companies in the province to stay and remain open, to hire more Ontarians and make Ontario home for their factories. As a result of that, we have Toyota deciding to open in Woodstock, Hino in Woodstock, expansion in Brampton and Waterloo for Linamar, and many different companies, because they know they have a government that respects their business and honours the job they do.

I want to respond to the leader of the third party when he was talking about the contract between the city of Ottawa and Siemens. As you know, he was talking about a policy. When they were in government, why didn't they enforce this policy? We still found that same strategy and same policy being adopted through the years, from the NDP time to the Liberal time to the Conservative time to the present time. We respect the citizens of the province of Ontario. The municipalities have a right to do whatever they want, and we don't micromanage small governments and small issues in Ontario. We are the funder, the supporter for those municipalities, giving them the ability to strengthen their transit systems and their infrastructure, but we don't tell them what to do. We respect the people who put them in that position to make a decision on behalf of them. That's why Ottawa found the deal with Siemens more valuable; it saved taxpayers some money in order to make that deal with Siemens instead of Bombardier. We respect their decisions.

I also want to tell the member opposite that the Siemens factory has been in Ontario, has been in Canada, for more than 150 years. They employ in Canada alone 7,000 to 8,000 people in high-paying jobs. I think they deserve the chance to compete like other companies that exist in this province.

I want to tell the member opposite that he's wrong. Hopefully he can join the government and support our infrastructure funding and our strategy and vision for Ontario.

Mr. John O'Toole (Durham): It's a pleasure to have the opportunity to get on the record on the opposition day motion from Mr. Hampton and the NDP Party. It makes eminently good sense. When you listen to the motherhood aspect of this, the "made in Ontario," all of us here, I believe, would support the industries in their riding. Indeed, all of us collectively would support the industries in Ontario. I think that's what Howard Hampton is calling on Dalton McGuinty as the leader and the Premier of this great province -- I don't like to digress too far off, but I would say that this resolution is to draw attention to a very important issue, whether it's in the city of Ottawa or the city of Oshawa, part of which is in my riding. Transit is a huge issue, and who builds that infrastructure, both the rolling stock as well as the lines and roadways, is really what this is about. What's the government's position on this?

I would just say that there are some other signals in the economy right now that the government lacks a plan. That's where I'm going to broaden this discussion out about Ontario's competitiveness and the lack of leadership and the lack of a plan, whether it's in forestry -- we've seen the devastation in the forestry industry. Certainly there are questions in the mining industry, and the resource sector is in some peril as well. They are all talking about the shocking rate increases in energy. The resource sector is struggling, as most of the economists have stated publicly, explaining in a non-political, nonpartisan way that the two risks certainly affect the future outlook for Ontario, some of which is not really a direct responsibility of the province. It's the monetary policy issue, the rising Canadian dollar, and having a problem with that. We would recognize that, but the province then has to respond to that, as the head of the Bank of Canada did today in one of his remarks. David Dodge said that Ontario does have tools they can utilize to maintain competitiveness in Ontario, which is about jobs and about "made in Ontario." What he said -- I'm just reading an article here from the Toronto Star, which is usually quite friendly to the Liberal Party. In fact, we often refer to the Toronto Star as the briefing notes for the Liberals.

Mr. Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay): We call it Pravda.

Mr. O'Toole: Pravda. I understand that, and that's kind of inside humour. They would say the Sun is our reference point.

The article here is on page F3: "Bank Chief Dodge Urges Ontario to Reform Taxes to Help Business." That's what this article goes on with. In fact, he says, and I'm quoting, "Dodge suggested Ontario could help its troubled manufacturers by reforming its provincial sales tax on business inputs to something closer to the federal goods and services tax.

"`The structure of the GST, being a value-added tax, is actually a good structure as far as the manufacturing sector is concerned and it would actually be very helpful if ... the structure of the Ontario sales tax was the same as the structure of the federal (tax) -- very helpful for the manufacturing sector because it would relieve the sector of a number of taxes on its inputs'" side of the business.

So what it takes is good stewardship with a plan. It's good that Minister Sorbara is back. I think he's focused on the plan now that he has resolved his legal issues. I'd say it's good he's back. I have a lot of respect for the work he has done and is capable of doing to make sure it's tax-competitive. That's really what this comes down to, whether it's Bombardier or whoever it is that is bidding for business. We need to have a competitive tax structure in the broadest sense to be competitive.

It's not just that sector that troubles me about the "made in Ontario." We had questions here the other day in the House about farm products and rural fairs and rural markets and the government's intrusion there about food inspection. Of course, food safety is very important, but they were going to shut down most of these markets because of a regulation that was too much, too late; an intrusion into the workplace. But now I see the Liberals are at it again. This is in today's paper as well, so I'm not going to some obscure research source to make the argument about supporting Ontario and keeping it competitive.

This article is also from the Toronto Star. This article is today and it's called "Sausage Quandary." Here again we see the government, through regulation, through the long arm of government, through the McGuinty intrusion, if you will, into small business -- here it is, here's the story, and I'm going to read it so that I don't misrepresent this intrusion of poor policy of the McGuinty government and its impact on small business, not just large business like the one we're talking about, subway cars, in this opposition day motion.

It says, "For 28 years, Superior Sausage and Meat Products has quietly been going about its business on a residential strip of Dundas Street West near Ossington Avenue.

"It has been smoking bacon and handcrafting kielbasa and other sausages in the back of a house-turned-factory. It has been selling some of its products out of a small storefront shop to locals. But most of its products are sold wholesale, and behind the scenes, to small Toronto delis and street vendors.

"Superior Sausage has been passing its Toronto public health inspections, both as a food store and as a meat processing plant. But since it cuts, cooks, smokes and packages meat -- without actually slaughtering animals -- it was able to skirt tougher provincial rules."

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Now they've changed the regulations, which are going to force them to be inspected at a different level. This business -- that is, Superior Sausage -- is being threatened by government red tape and regulations with being put out of business. I think we would all assume and ensure that food quality and food safety is paramount. There should be measures to make sure that that intrusion doesn't put this company out of business. I'm sure that Superior Sausage, in 28 years, would have heard something in the media if they had not been conforming with that.

There's David Dodge from the Bank of Canada saying they've got to become tax-competitive. There's proof today in the media. Just today, we've all been visited by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business; they had a day here, with all parties invited. All parties attended. I saw Michael Prue of the NDP there, and I saw members of the government as well as members of the opposition -- John Tory.

What did they have to say to us? They're concerned about small businesses, not just the difficulty with no smoking and the hospitality industry. It's not just that. Most people agree. What's the transition plan for these businesses to move to other sorts of entertainment and hospitality activities?

What were they bringing to our attention? This is the federation of independent business. These are the small businesses of Ontario. This is what Catherine Swift and others had to say, and it's quite revealing. It's another intrusion. It's the long arm of the McGuinty government into your wallet -- actually, into the cash register. They're into the small business cash register, as far as I can see. This is what they said: "The Ontario government is `consulting' on the WSIB's" -- the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board's -- "long-standing proposal to extend so-called mandatory coverage" into including owners --

Interjections.

Mr. O'Toole: Are we listening here -- directors and executive officers of independent construction agencies.

Here's what we have -- I think of Durham, my riding. I can think of a couple of smaller homebuilders; they build mostly custom homes and that kind of thing. They're not large: father, son, a couple of relatives; skilled craftsmen, skilled tradesmen building wonderful homes. In one case -- I shouldn't really mention names because there are so many good ones; I'll just leave it at that. Here's what they're going to do: They're going to extend WSIB coverage to these mostly administrative people. Here's what the cost is, and this is a good example:

"The financial impact would devastate small firms (examples based on two additional people in the newly covered categories each earning the maximum insurable of $69,400 a year)." Here's the impact of two people on electricians: These are the two people who might be required to wire these homes, and they'd be making $69,000 a year. The employer tax -- this is a tax on payroll, 3.2% of gross -- comes out to $4,500 per year. On the other trades -- framers and those kinds of people -- it's between 9% and 15% tax on the gross payroll. This amounts to two people. It would cost around $20,000 per job. That's a tax on people who are doing the accounting or the purchasing or the scheduling, where they're not building and not at risk of falling off the house or falling into the basement while framing a house. This intrusion is another example where the CFIB came today to lobby all parties to stop this constant assault into your pocket to get more money. We're paying more and getting less.

Those are just a couple of examples today. Just recently, I came from the TOGA group -- the greenhouse operators of Ontario have a presentation here today. By the way, they were giving out plants and vegetables; samples of their products -- very good. I commend them for their lobbying effort; that's what it is. They're educating. But what were they saying to me when I went down? Not just about their operations. Let's think about it. They're greenhouse operators. How do they keep the temperature high in those greenhouses to grow the flowers and the vegetables and the hydroponic stuff? Here's what they said in Greenhouses Grow Ontario: "$3.9 billion in economic activity," and their concern is the rising cost of energy. Since McGuinty took over -- the Premier, right over there -- the cost of energy has gone up 55%. It's strangling small business and agriculture.

Interjections.

Mr. O'Toole: Mr. Speaker, they're upset now because I've touched -- small businesses are screaming; they're struggling. Agriculture is struggling. It is evident that under this lack of a plan, the stewardship of Dalton McGuinty -- it makes me almost have to stop here, I become so engaged and passionate about the lack of a plan and the impact on the economy. I think of the families.

What I think about most are the 75,000 people in the pulp and paper industry, the forestry industry, the agricultural sector and the manufacturing sector who are struggling under the weight of energy, the dollar and, as I said before, taxes -- the health tax and now the WSIB tax being increased. When is it going to end? Where is the money going?

Ask yourself -- I ask my constituents. I don't mind paying, but ask yourself, "Is it any better?" Are you waiting less time in the emergency room? Are you not paying for your optometry, chiropractic?

You're now going to pay with Bill 102. All the pharmacists of Ontario have appeared. McGuinty and George Smitherman are taking $500 million out of the pharmacists' pockets. I think of small pharmacists in my riding who have come to me; they have small businesses in Orono and Port Perry. They're saying, "We'll be out of business, John." I said, "Why?" Well, the rebate: They're taking $500 million out, and they're giving them $50 million back as a consult fee. I see that members on that committee -- the Chair, in fact -- are doctors. They know this; they work in partnership with pharmacies. Here they are -- another example. Small business: Dalton McGuinty intrudes, a hand in the pocket, and they're out of business. I'm shaken and quite concerned about the future of the economy.

When I get back to the opposition motion here about "made in Ontario," of course we support plans that would encourage and incent, in fact, jobs in Ontario, because these are the very people who will ultimately, through their payroll, pay the government back and will build great products in Ontario. I'm in support, to that extent, of having a competitive economy, but what's lacking is a government that has a plan and the determination to deliver on it.

Ms. Judy Marsales (Hamilton West): I'm pleased to stand to tell the people of Ontario that small business, entrepreneurship and manufacturing are in great shape in Ontario. The McGuinty government strongly supports the manufacturing sector of our economy.

As a member from Hamilton, where the legacy of leadership in manufacturing is continuing through the development of the McMaster Innovation Park -- Hamilton, with a long history of manufacturing, for decades. Manufacturing is important to Hamilton and is important to Ontario.

Do you know that in 2005 shipments totalled $312.6 billion, which is up 55.5% from 1995? According to Export Development Canada, strong global spending is helping Ontario's machinery and equipment sector see an increase of exports by 4% in both 2005 and 2006.

Ontario's productivity for 2005 increased 2.5%, which was led by the manufacturing sector. Ontario's productivity is higher than Canadian productivity, and manufacturing productivity increased by 5.7% in 2005. In April 2005 alone, 10,400 new manufacturing jobs were created, and between January 2005 and January 2006, there was an increase of 178,300 jobs in Ontario, which were being paid an average hourly wage of over $20.

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The McGuinty government has created two programs in order to improve the manufacturing sector in Ontario: the advanced manufacturing investment strategy and the Ontario auto investment strategy. Ontario's strategic investments have attracted more than $6 billion in overall announced investments so far.

In response to the member's statement about the O-Train expansion in the city of Ottawa, did you know that the government of Ontario has provided $200 million to the city of Ottawa for their O-Train expansion? As part of that agreement, procurement was handled by the city of Ottawa. The bidding resulted in the contract going to a consortium consisting of Siemens, PCL and Dufferin Construction. Siemens Canada employs a total of approximately 7,200 employees across Canada. Most are located in Ontario. I repeat: Most are located in Ontario. They produce automotive electric-electronic components at facilities in Tilbury, Chatham and London. Total employment is estimated in these three locations at approximately 1,200 people.

With respect to "made in Ontario," let's bring some facts to disturb the rhetoric. Our government is currently advocating on behalf of the manufacturing community at home and abroad. Did you know that made-in-Ontario government policy would be in violation of the agreement on internal trade? Internal trade rules between provinces prohibit the use of local preferences in procurement. These rules cover government ministries, municipalities, universities, colleges, schools and hospitals, and a few crown corporations.

We believe Ontario companies can successfully compete on the world stage. We have ingenuity, competency and capability, combined with a talented pool of skilled labour that does not want to be fenced in by narrow, parochial thinking.

Ontario's citizens appreciate the connections between prosperity in northern Ontario and in manufacturing located in southern Ontario. For example, Ontario's mineral sector is enjoying a boom the likes of which have not been seen since the 1980s. It's a tremendous success story which affects all of Ontario, but especially Hamilton, whose manufacturing and shipping industries rely on a strong commodities market. We're on the verge of witnessing the development of Ontario's first diamond mine on the coast of James Bay. These benefits flow to all communities.

Again, we come full circle. Ontario's strategic investments have attracted close to $7 billion announced so far, overall.

The McGuinty government has committed $10 million toward the McMaster Innovation Park project. The Innovation Park is a wonderful example of the evolution of Hamilton's vision for the future. The former site of Westinghouse Canada is now being turned into a vibrant centre for research and opportunities for the commercialization of these wonderful new ideas.

The manufacturing community is definitely strong, and Innovation Park will focus on materials and advanced manufacturing that will connect the communities of science, industry and business. There will be an estimated 1,500 long-term, well-paid, stable jobs, with an annual direct payroll impact of over $100 million annually. This will be the new home for the GM Centre for Corrosion Engineering Research and CANMET, a federal materials technology laboratory.

McMaster's Innovation Park has other major academic partnerships for global advancements as well, such as MDA -- medical robotics; Bell University Laboratories -- telemedicine; and GM. Some of the recent job creation announcements in the Hamilton area alone include John C. Munro International Airport -- $1.3 million; National Steel Car, making rail cars for freight transportation -- they're hiring 500 new employees in Hamilton; and Stackpole Ltd., which is creating 350 new jobs.

Ontario manufacturing is very important to our government. Ontario manufacturers are world leaders, and we're so proud of the many initiatives to build a strong economy. We look forward to the continued innovation and growth of our manufacturing sector for the jobs they provide and the communities they build. Advancements in science and technology in our manufacturing industry are creating a better Ontario, a better Canada and a better world.

Mr. Bill Mauro (Thunder Bay-Atikokan): It is my pleasure to rise and offer a few comments on the opposition day motion today. I'm not sure if it has been read into the record, but I'd like to do that because there are parts of it I'd like to come back to a little bit later on in my speech: "That the Legislative Assembly calls on the government to sustain and encourage good-paying manufacturing jobs in Ontario, and in particular, to implement a `made in Ontario' policy that ensures that streetcars, subway cars, and rail transport cars for Ontario municipalities that are purchased with funds in whole or in part from the government of Ontario are manufactured in Ontario." I want to come to back to that a little later in my speech.

I don't think anybody -- certainly not anybody in Thunder Bay -- needs to be told or reminded about the long and distinguished history this plant has in Thunder Bay. It has been around with three or four different names, going back to the Hawker Siddeley days when they were pushing out airplanes in the war effort -- the Rosie the Riveters; a long and distinguished history -- and has been a major employer in the community of Thunder Bay for a long, long time.

Their professionalism, their ability to produce quality manufactured goods from that plant for in excess of 60 or 80 years, is well known, not only in Thunder Bay and Ontario but worldwide. These people have a terrific record.

Recently, the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, under the direction of the president, Mary Long-Irwin, developed what they thought was a good idea for adoption by the government of Ontario, and that was a made-in-Ontario policy. They have been pursuing and pushing that idea, I would say, for the better part of six or eight months now.

Very recently, the policy they drafted was adopted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. I think it's interesting to make the point that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is endorsing a made-in-Ontario policy, given that these two organizations, which many of us would consider to be the voice of business, might perhaps view a made-in-Ontario policy as being something that's non-competitive. Business is oftentimes interested in a laissez-faire attitude and approach to business, and yet these two organizations, as the voice of business, are very much in support of a made-in-Ontario policy, and I think that's important for us to note. So even the voice of business can find occasions where they think it's important for government to have its hand in and play a role in the use of public funds in this sort of enterprise.

I'm not 100% sure, but I believe the province of Ontario already has a buy-Ontario policy as it applies to highway and bridge construction. I'm not 100% certain; I meant to have an opportunity to check that before today. But I believe there is some sort of buffer or built-in enhancement to try to encourage the success of Ontario companies when it comes to highway and bridge construction. So that is out there as well.

If we go back to the resolution, I want to especially point out the last line, where it says, "are manufactured in Ontario." The motion does not say that we want to develop a policy that will attempt to enhance the ability of Ontario firms to compete. It does not say that we want to encourage their success. It basically is trying to provide a guarantee that any time this government or any future government in the province of Ontario supplies funds in any proportion or percentage -- it doesn't say what -- to any municipal enterprise -- in this case, I think we're talking about the Ottawa rail contract -- that work should automatically be done in the province of Ontario.

The way I read this resolution, it's like giving a blank cheque to whatever company it may be, because that work has to be guaranteed. If we follow this logic to its conclusion, perhaps in Kenora-Rainy River, for example, or in Fort Frances, the area that the member represents, if his municipal council wanted to use municipal tax dollars for a capital purchase and they were going to buy buses for their public transit system, he is saying that their municipal tax dollars would be used to purchase those buses in Ontario no matter what -- no matter what the cost would be. I don't think any of us can support that; I don't think any of us would want that to be the intent.

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I think what we all would want to do is support a policy that attempts to encourage the success of Ontario companies, and that's what we've done. We've had some success very recently, and I'm happy to report that the TTC, the Toronto Transit Commission, is undertaking a very significant purchase of about 230 or 250 new subway cars and, through encouragement from myself, through others in Thunder Bay, has entered into a sole-source negotiation process with Bombardier Thunder Bay for the potential purchase of those cars -- not a guarantee that those cars are going to end up in Thunder Bay, but certainly the ability for Bombardier Thunder Bay to demonstrate their capability to provide a quality car at a fair, affordable price. I think that's a much smarter way. That's one that I can support. I think that's a way we can all support. But that's not what the resolution says. The resolution says that we should basically guarantee that this work is done in Ontario. I don't think that makes any sense. The previous MOU that existed for this work didn't do that, but the member doesn't mention that in his resolution. It didn't say in that MOU, drafted in 1992, that we guaranteed that the work would go to any particular enterprise. What that MOU said was, "Please go off and sole-source-negotiate," and if they couldn't come to a successful conclusion in that negotiation, then it would be understandable that they would go off and have a public tender process.

The city of Ottawa obviously feels very strong in what it's doing. This is a $700-million contract. The city of Ottawa is supplying $300 million of that $700 million. I've written letters to their mayor, asking him to enter into a sole-source negotiation process with Bombardier in Thunder Bay. They have their own purchasing policies, and they don't want to do that. I wish they would. I don't feel that the goals of the municipal council of Ottawa and my goals are mutually exclusive. I think both are attainable. The city of Ottawa doesn't see it that way.

Speaker, I'm told I have to wrap up. I want to highlight that I certainly agree with the intent of this resolution and I likely will support it, but it's important to make the distinction that I would never support giving a blank cheque to any enterprise anywhere that they should be able to go out and be guaranteed work. A sole-source negotiated process is the best way to go, and that's one that I can certainly support.

Mr. Jeff Leal (Peterborough): It's a pleasure to join the debate on this resolution this afternoon. Just to reiterate, it says: "That the Legislative Assembly calls on the government to sustain and encourage good-paying manufacturing jobs in Ontario, and in particular, to implement a `made in Ontario' policy that ensures that streetcars, subway cars, and rail transport cars for Ontario municipalities that are purchased with funds in whole or in part from the government of Ontario are manufactured in Ontario," and it is addressed to the Premier of this province.

About seven or eight years ago, municipalities across Ontario looked at the opportunities of what they called preferential procurement policies on a municipal level. It was a topic of great discussion. It involved large municipalities, small municipalities and in-between municipalities. At that particular time, when that discussion took place, some municipalities thought they would adjust their tendering policies and their proposal calls to perhaps give opportunities to local businesses and industries within the boundaries of their respective municipality.

After a lot of discussion and sober second thought, it was thought that such a policy would indeed be detrimental to business development in those respective communities, because what it would do in a place like my hometown of Peterborough is prevent businesses and industries, small manufacturers in Peterborough, from bidding on contracts in Thunder Bay, Cornwall, Cobourg, Hamilton, Chatham or Windsor, effectively putting a barrier around many of these business opportunities and frankly preventing them from getting expertise to bid on these business opportunities throughout Ontario. So municipalities abandoned that approach and thought it was best that indeed municipalities, through their tendering process and proposal calls, get the best value for their taxpaying citizens.

When you also look at that, as I understand internal trade policies within Canada, indeed agreements that have been discussed, debated and put in place by federal governments over a number of years have really worked to break down trade barriers within Canada. If we move forward with this made-in-Ontario policy, Ontario would be erecting barriers that have taken many years to try to break down to facilitate business and trade within Canada. Indeed, it's pretty difficult to talk about free trade with countries beyond our borders if we don't have relative free trade within the boundaries of Canada.

I want to comment: We talk about sustaining and encouraging good-paying manufacturing jobs within Ontario. I've always felt it's a bit of a contradiction, particularly for the NDP, because they're on record as saying that they want to wipe out the nuclear industry in Ontario. The nuclear industry in Ontario employs about 30,000 people. When you look at those industries, it's Canadian technology that has been developed that's sustaining those industries. In fact, it's CAW members --

Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest): Brothers and sisters.

Mr. Leal: -- our brothers and sisters, who work with our friend Buzz Hargrove, those CAW members at GE in Peterborough, my riding, those CAW members at Babcock and Wilcox in Cambridge, Ontario, those CAW members at Circuit Tech in Port Hope, Ontario. Those are good-paying jobs. The average wage for those individuals is probably between $25 and $30 with their benefits included.

Day in and day out, the leader of the third party stands up and says, "What are you doing to sustain good, high-paying manufacturing jobs in the province of Ontario?" If they ever had the opportunity to have the levers of power again in Ontario, with the stroke of a pen they would wipe out that whole industry, which is a Canadian-developed, Ontario-developed tech industry.

I want to talk about Siemens for a moment. They're a very good corporate citizen in Ontario. Siemens has an operation in Peterborough that has grown considerably over the last number of years. In fact, they have set up in the last six months a world-class training centre for technicians for waste and water treatment facilities. Indeed, in their Peterborough operation they actually make all the calibration instruments that would go into municipal waste water and water treatment facilities. Siemens has come to be known, as I said, as a very good corporate citizen, investing back into communities right across Ontario, again developing our manufacturing infrastructure to provide those high-paying jobs that sustain our economy and providing the tax dollars to fund health care, education and the other programs that we're involved in in Ontario.

Bombardier, as I understand it, through their operation in Thunder Bay, is going to get an opportunity to be involved in a fairly large contract that's going to be issued shortly, I believe, by the TTC here in Toronto and hopefully through that sole-sourcing procurement policy will provide sustainability to our friends in Thunder Bay over a long period of time. I think we have to be very cautious, for those who want to support this resolution, that indeed we'll be erecting those trade barriers that we don't want in Ontario today.

The Toronto Transit Commission is looking at opportunities to provide work through their procurement policies to Thunder Bay.

I just want to reiterate that this government has been very successful with the advanced manufacturing strategy here in Ontario. We've heard over the last little while major investments in auto manufacturing. Companies beyond Ontario's borders are making the determination to invest in Ontario, again to create those good-paying jobs: Toyota in Woodstock, Ontario; a major new investment with Honda. Why are they coming to Ontario? They see the advantage of being here with a strong labour force. They see the advantage of a public health care system that this government has gone to great lengths to sustain, to give Ontario businesses that competitive advantage that's so very important.

I think this resolution today has given an opportunity to highlight many of the positive things this government is doing to sustain manufacturing in Ontario.

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Mr. Bisson: I'm very glad to participate in this debate because I really do believe that it comes down to the nub, I would say, of one of the issues we have to deal with here in Ontario: the whole question of what the heck is going on with the economy, especially in places outside of major cities such as Toronto. A big part of the problem that we have is that the government has no policy provincially -- and, I would argue, federally -- to deal with how you spur economic development outside of the large urban centres. I think Thunder Bay is a good example of that. We have an opportunity in our debate today to deal with that.

First of all, there are a couple of points I would like to basically put on the record and correct right off, because there were some things said in the debate that I think need to be clarified. The member from Peterborough said that New Democrats, if elected, would abolish the entire nuclear industry. What hogwash. There is a nuclear industry there; the plants are running -- as if we would shut them off. We're not like Liberals, who would shut off coal plants when you don't have capacity to replace them. What a stupid comment.

Interjections.

Mr. Bisson: What we are saying is that we believe, quite frankly, that what we need to do in this province --

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Timmins-James Bay.

Mr. Bisson: "Stupid" is --

The Deputy Speaker: It may not be, but if we could temper our language, it would help.

Mr. Bisson: Anyway, it's not a very bright comment; let's just put it that way.

I just want to put on the record up front that what we're saying, as New Democrats, is that we think the government's direction, first of all, when it comes to energy, electricity prices and how electricity is organized in this province, is not a very good one. They in fact don't have a plan. We know that, and as a result, hydro prices have been rising and rising and rising, and it's killing thousands of jobs across this province, particularly in those areas where electricity is a big part of the manufacturing processes' cost of doing business. For example, in forestry, electricity is a big part of the cost, which is a huge problem when it comes to paper mills and others. We're saying that the policy the government has is killing jobs.

What we would do, first of all, is invest in conservation to reduce demand overall, and we would take a plan of looking at bringing in mixed generation. But we certainly would not be adding to the nuclear basket. We are dead opposed to doing another Darlington, because we do know how much that cost, what a fiasco that was and what it ended up doing to hydro bills in this province.

I also want to say a couple of things to the member from Thunder Bay-Atikokan, who raised a number of things here. I thought it was kind of interesting, because he was trying to have it both ways at the same time. He was doing what Liberals are really good at, which is telling people one thing on one side of the room, then going to the other side of the room and doing the opposite. That's basically what he did in this particular debate.

He doesn't agree with us. He was saying that the chamber of commerce in Thunder Bay agrees with the proposal put forward by Howard Hampton, our leader, that if the government of Ontario is going to grant money to a municipality to buy buses, streetcars, subway cars or whatever it might be, it would only make sense that there be a mechanism in place to have manufacturing done in Ontario for those dollars that we spend. That is a policy that we introduced back in 1992 as a government, because we thought it was nuts that you were out there spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars every year to help municipalities buy buses, streetcars in some cases or subways, as in the city of Toronto, and that we were not getting any economic spin from the manufacturing of those particular items being purchased with the taxpayers' dollars spent by the province of Ontario. The chamber of commerce in Thunder Bay understands, as my leader Howard Hampton understands, and the rest of the New Democrat caucus understands, and I would say the people of Thunder Bay understand, that that is a good policy.

For the government to argue, as I've heard unfold here in the afternoon, that somehow or other -- I've got to use the quote -- we would be giving a "blank cheque" to a manufacturer like Bombardier to gouge the public is beyond the pale. You only have to look at the history of Bombardier in Thunder Bay, as it relates to the goods that they have produced on behalf of their company for their customers who have gotten money from the province of Ontario, cities and towns across this province. That has never been the case. For the member from Thunder Bay to all of a sudden come in here and say, "I'm opposed, because that's like giving a blank cheque" -- tell that to the worker who's going to lose his or her job in Thunder Bay. Tell that to the kids who are going to see their father or mother come home because they're not going to have a job as a result of this government's failure to say to the city of Ottawa what should have been said, which is, "You give Bombardier the opportunity to be in the game in order to make those products in Thunder Bay," those being jobs that would stay here in this province and that we would get the net benefit of. I just say to the government across the way, shame on you for not standing up for the people of Thunder Bay and doing what was right by them.

I'll tell you, overall, people outside the major cities -- I would argue even people in the city of Toronto and major cities have problems with the Liberals, but when it comes to economic development, people who live outside the city of Toronto, people in rural and northern Ontario, are really feeling left out of the game. One only has to take a look at the thousands upon thousands of jobs that have been lost in the forest industry alone across this province. We again had an announcement about three weeks ago that Smooth Rock Falls is going to lose their only employer, the Tembec craft mill, putting all of those workers out of jobs as of July 31, and hoping that maybe Tembec can do something to revive that mill within a 12-month period. So far, the response by this government has been zero -- nothing to address the core, fundamental issues that affect the cost of operating a plant in northeastern or northwestern Ontario -- or southern Ontario, as was the case with Cornwall.

Cornwall is losing the major employer in that community.

People in Kenora have lost the major employer in their community. People in Hearst are faced with possible layoffs at the Columbia Forest Products mill, at the melamine and presswood mill. We are working towards a resolution, and I'll say in the House that Mr. Bartolucci has been good on that with us. We went to his office, we asked him to help us in Hearst, and his ministry at least has tried to respond, to give us a chance to put something together that we can propose to the company to keep that particular plant open. But other than that Hearst example, there has been nothing. There has not been a whimper by this government when it comes to assisting the communities of northeastern, northwestern and southern Ontario and the devastation that happened in the forest industry. We have layoff after layoff. Week after week, plants are announcing that they're going to be idle, that people are being laid off, or plants are shutting down entirely, and this government is doing absolutely nothing.

What we're saying by way of this motion in the House today is that at the very least here's an opportunity where we can do something for the people of northwestern Ontario, specifically the people of Thunder Bay, to say if Ottawa is going to get taxpayers' dollars from the province of Ontario to buy streetcars, buses and whatever it might be, surely to God we should give an opportunity to the people of Bombardier in Thunder Bay to produce those goods so that the dollars spent by Ontario -- and we're talking in the hundreds of millions of dollars -- could be to the benefit of the workers of this province. That is something that needs to be done. In fact, our government in 1992, the NDP, put that particular policy in place. This government is choosing to ignore it.

I also want to comment on a couple of things that were said by the Minister of Transportation, and I thought it was interesting. Personally, I like the person. I think Mrs. Cansfield is a good person. Her heart is in the right place, she tries hard, but I think she misses the point. I was listening to her as she spoke to this issue, and all she could talk about was gridlock and what they're trying to do to reduce gridlock in the city of Toronto. That's the basic problem that we're having outside of Toronto. We're saying, "Yes, fine and dandy; deal with what's happening in the city of Toronto because they have needs, and we support that as northerners. But why are you forgetting us? Why are you forgetting the people of northern Ontario and other places when it comes to the issue of economic development?"

I give the minister credit. She announced today that there are going to be three connecting-link applications in my riding, and I say thank you for that publicly. But my point is, you spent time talking about what happens in Toronto. This motion is all about what we're not doing and what we need to do for places outside of Toronto. We need to get it in our heads in this Legislature that we need to collectively work together at developing policies that would assist economic development outside of the large urban centres.

It is really a lot easier -- and I'll give you a good example. I was talking to someone a couple of years ago who has a major investment here in Toronto. I think he was telling me he spent something like $15 million to start up a plant that takes waferboard and makes a value-added product with it. When I went to meet with the individual, I asked him, "Why here in Toronto? Why not in Timmins or in other communities where there are waferboard plants?" He said, "Simply put, I can't raise the capital in northern Ontario. When I come to Toronto, there are people within a 10-mile radius who have lots of money in their pockets and it's much easier for me to raise money in Toronto because that's where the money is. And number two, the cost of transporting my finished goods is more expensive than transporting primary goods." It's cheaper for him to take trailer loads of waferboard produced in Timmins, ship it to Toronto, convert it into a finished product and then ship, because he's closer to market. The finished product is much more bulky and would have higher transportation costs associated with it if he were to remain at that plant in Timmins.

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The point I make is this: What have we done to respond to that? It's the same thing as what's going on in Thunder Bay. We have no policy when it comes to how we are going to deal with economic development outside of the major urban centres. I don't care if it's southwestern Ontario, if it's Cornwall, if it's northern Ontario; the issue is the same -- not to talk about what's not going on when it comes to economic development north of the 51 in the James Bay communities and in communities in northwestern Ontario and the First Nations communities. There is no economic development going on there. The only economic development that goes on there is, now and then the federal government says, "You can build four houses for the first time in five years," and there's a little bit of construction in the community. That's the only time there's economic development.

I've listened to this government on more than one occasion. I forget who it was; I think it was the member from -- I wrote down the riding -- Hamilton West, who basically was somehow trying to take some credit for the diamond mine that's opening up in Attawapiskat. Hang on, whoa. First of all, the diamonds were in the ground way before the Liberals ever came to power. Two, they were discovered way before the Liberals ever came to power. Three, the decision to develop that mine was announced way before the Liberals came to power. Don't come in here and all of a sudden say, "Because we're such wonderful government Liberals we're going to create a diamond mine up in Timmins-James Bay, in Attawapiskat." That decision was made way before you ever got here. Those diamonds are being exploited because there's a dollar to be made by De Beers to exploit them. It's as simple as that. It wasn't this government that did something to trigger De Beers to make this over $1-billion investment to build a mine and plant just west of Attawapiskat. They made that decision way before you came to office.

Which brings me to my other point when it comes to economic development and, again, to this motion, which is that we have done hardly anything -- and I would argue probably nothing, because with "hardly" I was trying to be fair -- when it comes to how we deal with economic development for First Nations communities and how we deal with basic issues. I go to communities -- and some of you have travelled into my riding. I'm always inviting people to come into the James Bay with me. In fact, I brought a number of members up on committee and other members at different times. Most of our schools are inadequate. There are a few communities in my riding where they have good schools, thank God. It was a lot of work to get those -- Peetabeck Academy in Fort Albany is a good example -- but they're not the norm.

Most communities north of the 51 have schools that are substandard. You would not send your children to them. My point is, how can you ever develop a local economy in those communities if the kids don't have a chance to get even the most basic education? You cannot operate an economy locally unless you have the capacity in that local economy to have people trained to do the various work that needs to be done. We have not invested a dime in those communities to make sure that those boys and girls who live in First Nations communities are able to stand next to any other boy or girl in this province and be at par when it comes to education. Instead, what do we get? We get kids that don't graduate. Most kids in First Nations communities don't graduate. The percentages are staggering. If you go into a grade 12 class, the number of kids who were in grade 9 who make it to 12 is hardly any. No wonder, having to live in a house with about 15 to 20 other people. How do you study in that environment? Somebody's watching TV, mum's cooking dinner, dad is doing whatever -- impossible. You cannot study in an environment like that when you've got 15 or 20 people living in a house.

You have schools that are inadequate. You have a federal government that is missing in action. The federal government should be brought to court and charged with I don't know what. They should be charged with the mishandling of the First Nations issues for this country. I think we as a province have to step in and we have to say to the feds, "If you can't do it properly, we're prepared as a province to create aboriginal school boards for First Nations across this province and fund them as we do any other child in this province." Why should we all of a sudden say that a child who lives on reserve is not as deserving of education as a child who's not living on reserve? It's ridiculous.

We can sign agreements with the federal government that would transfer the money they now pay over into the province so that it offsets -- because they do have a fiduciary responsibility, and First Nations would never allow us to do that transfer unless there was some responsibility by the federal government to live up to their fiduciary responsibilities as signed in treaty. But I remind members of this Legislature, we signed Treaty No. 9, all of the NAN territory. Don't pass it off on the federal government. The province signed that treaty as well. I look at, how are you able to develop an economy, as in the case of Attawapiskat, when you don't have the capacity, people trained to take those jobs?

So here's the example: We're going to be opening a mine in probably about a year and a half to two years. We're going to be hiring about 600 people in that operation after construction. I'm going to predict right now -- De Beers's stated goal is that they will hire any First Nation person who is capable of doing the job. Very great, but here's the problem: Who can they hire? How many environmental engineers do we have in Attawapiskat around James Bay; how many qualified electricians, mechanics, millwrights, operators of various types in those mines? We don't have any. De Beers is not in the training business; De Beers is in the mining business.

I argue that the province should say, first, "We are going to be there, fair and square, and we are going to support the training needs of the aboriginal people of James Bay so that two years from now, when that mine opens, they can qualify for those jobs." With that, we would be doing our job and we'd be doing something to create employment and break the cycle of poverty in that community and others. But we're not doing that. We're saying to De Beers, "Basically, you're on your own."

So I say, when it comes to economic development, that this provincial government, this McGuinty government --

Mr. Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): You're not on your own. They get training support for that.

Mr. Bisson: You have no idea what you talk of, sir. Go there, please. I invite you all. Come to Attawapiskat, spend a week. Talk to the local citizens. See what's going on. The reality is that it ain't happening. The De Beers operation, to give De Beers some credit, has put some money towards training. The province is playing a very minimal role when it comes to training. We are not doing what has to be done. Why? Because we're throwing the ball back and forth. The province says, "Well, it's a First Nations issue; it's the federal government's responsibility." The federal government stands on the other side and says, "We're not in the business of training; that's the province." So you're stuck in this quandary, and I'm saying we have to step up to the plate with those communities. If we're going to break the cycle of dependency and we're going to break the cycle of poverty, we have to step forward, we've got to be bold and we have to say, "We are going to invest in education. We are prepared as a province to look at the possibility of taking over education, creating aboriginal school boards, and giving those kids a chance to come out of school so they can compete with other boys and girls across this province."

Back to the motion, and I want to end on this particular point. In the case of the Thunder Bay Bombardier plant, I just have to remind members of a very simple thing. What we ended up with in this particular situation is that Ottawa basically has decided that they're going to go out and source the purchase of the infrastructure they need to buy vehicles for their new transit system, money that is being put forward by the province of Ontario, money that the province is giving to the city of Ottawa to purchase it, and we are doing nothing to make sure that those millions of dollars are spent in manufacturing jobs here in Ontario. I find it very sad and very regrettable that the provincial government does not have the courage to say to Ottawa, as they should, "You are going to step forward and you are going to work with Bombardier toward trying to find, as the city of Toronto did and is doing currently, a manufacturing contract for the goods you're going to need in order to build this particular transit system that you're trying to build in the city of Ottawa."

The motion that Howard Hampton puts forward is a very simple one and it says, "McGuinty, take your responsibility. Do what is right. Stop this in its tracks and basically admit that what we need to have in this province is a policy that says that if the province of Ontario is going to spend dollars to give municipalities or whomever money to buy infrastructure, we should, to the largest degree possible, say that that is going to result in manufacturing jobs here in Ontario." Why would you spend billions of dollars in infrastructure and allow it to be built offshore or allow it to be built out of our jurisdiction?

I stand here on this motion and I will vote for it because I believe that the people of Thunder Bay deserve no less, and what we need to do is to get this government to admit that they've made an error, and to take a step back and redo it so that those workers in Thunder Bay and their families and the local community businesses that rely on the salaries that are made from Bombardier are able to keep on going forward, because Thunder Bay has had it tough. We've had the announcements in regard to what has happened to those paper mills. I'll tell you, I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of the member for Thunder Bay-Atikokan in the next election. He's going to have a heck of a tough go. It's a difficult thing, because his government has failed miserably the people of Thunder Bay. Now we're asking this government once again to do what is right for the people of Thunder Bay, and we certainly hope that his colleagues on the Liberal government benches are going to support our motion to a larger degree.

J'aimerais finir sur ce dernier point : le manque, et le besoin que le gouvernement mette en place une politique de développement économique qui est vraiment visée pour le reste de la province de l'Ontario et non seulement pour les gros centres tels que la ville de Toronto.

Je veux vous donner un exemple. Il y avait les frères Duval dans les années passées qui ont dépensé au-dessus d'un million de dollars de leur argent pour être capables de bâtir une usine de valeur ajoutée dans la communauté de Mattice. C'était important. Cela a créé une trentaine ou une quarantaine d'emplois dans cette communauté-là. Mais finalement, la compagnie a fallu fermer ses portes et les frères Duval ont perdu beaucoup d'argent, et pour quelle raison? Parce que notre province, ce gouvernement de M. McGuinty, n'a pas en place une politique qui dit, à la fin de la journée, qu'on va faire ce qu'il faut faire pour supporter le développement économique dans les communautés en s'assurant, premièrement, qu'on peut avoir les emprunts nécessaires pour commencer nos entreprises. Il est très difficile d'emprunter de l'argent hors de Toronto. Numéro deux, c'est de mettre en place un programme pour assister les entrepreneurs à développer leurs plans d'affaires, ce qui fait du bon sens. Numéro trois, il faut mettre en place les ressources nécessaires pour supporter les entrepreneurs, une fois que le projet est en place, pour développer les marchés et autres.

Je dis à ce gouvernement que vous avez une chance. Vous avez encore un an. On va voir ce que vous allez faire, mais on vous demande au moins de voter pour cette motion aujourd'hui.

The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Hampton has moved opposition day 3. 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 nays have it.

The motion is defeated.

This House stands adjourned until 6:45 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1751.

Evening meeting reported in volume B.