39th Parliament, 1st Session

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L'ONTARIO

Wednesday 28 January 2009 Mercredi 28 janvier 2009

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

BIRTH OF MEMBER'S GRANDCHILD

ORAL QUESTIONS

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

FEDERAL BUDGET

INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAM FUNDING

AIR-RAIL LINK

DOUGLAS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL

POVERTY

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES

CHILD CARE

AGRI-FOOD INDUSTRY

HIGHWAY 407

DEFERRED VOTES

YORK UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTES
RESOLUTION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR LE RÈGLEMENT
DES CONFLITS DE TRAVAIL
À L'UNIVERSITÉ YORK

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

CUPE RESOLUTION

CORRECTIONAL FACILITY EMPLOYEES

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

PETITIONS

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

ORDERS OF THE DAY

TIME ALLOCATION

ORDER OF BUSINESS


   

The House met at 1030.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): I will also read a non-denominational prayer.

Prayers.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I'd like to introduce Brian E. Brown, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, OCUFA.

Mr. Peter Shurman: In the west members' gallery today, I'd like to introduce members of yorknothostage, Catherine Divaris, Matthew Geigen-Miller, Lyndon Koopmans, Shahin Kazai, Malcolm Morum and Christina Chewchuk. Welcome.

BIRTH OF MEMBER'S GRANDCHILD

Hon. Dwight Duncan: On a point of order: I would be remiss if I did not point out that the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services became a "nonno" for the second time yesterday. Maggie was born yesterday morning. She is the daughter of Angie and Todd Robson and the big sister of Mia. Congratulations to everyone.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Further to that point of order, from one grandfather to another, congratulations.

ORAL QUESTIONS

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Peter Shurman: My question is for the Premier. I see him taking his desk.

Today, Premier, is the 83rd day of agony for 45,000 York University students, and some of them, as you've heard, are in the gallery today; more are outside demanding answers from this government.

Premier, can you tell these students why you have forgottenâ€"indeed, why you have refusedâ€"to answer their letters or meet with them for the past 12 weeks? Please tell them why you think they are less important than either the union or the administration at York University, because these students have had no voice at all.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I appreciate the question and welcome the opportunity not only to speak to my colleague opposite, but to welcome the students here today. I want to assure them that our government has not for one moment ever lost sight of our shared responsibility to ensure that we're doing everything we can to provide a quality post-secondary education to our young people. I know that the students present would also understand that we have a whole set of responsibilities, and one of those that collides with that particular one from time to time is collective bargaining. We have a responsibility to respect the collective bargaining process. In the overwhelming majority of instances, that works, and we don't end up in a predicament like this. This one failed us for reasons we don't fully understand.

Our responsibility now is to get the young people back to class. That's why we're here, that's why we've reconvened this emergency session, that's why we've introduced this bill, and that's why we're eager to get on with it as quickly as we can.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Shurman: I didn't hear a fulsome answer to my question, Premier. The facts that you've presented are either incomplete or wrong.

These students are here today precisely because they have been forgotten, when they should have been the sole focus of your government. You keep saying that post-secondary education is a huge priority for you. They have had to come here today, Premier, because you have refused to meet with them and with their parents, despite repeated requests to your office. I told them that they need only speak to the residents of Caledonia to know that the Premier excels in avoiding the hot potatoes and making himself scarce during a crisis. Now that they've come to you, Premier, will you agree to meet with these students, listen to their stories and explain to them why you've allowed them to be held hostageâ€"that's their wordâ€"for the last 12 weeks?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I know that my friend is sincere in the efforts that he's making to get these young people back to the classroom. Sometimes his words distract from that, but I think at heart he's very sincere in his efforts and I commend him for that.

Just to be clear, we have been working as hard as we can to support post-secondary education. Our five-year plan calls for $6.2 billion by way of new investment. I think we're in the fifth year of that now. We've enhanced student assistance by $1.5 billion. In fact, 150,000 more students are now receiving financial assistance and 120,000 students are getting grants. We brought grants back; those had been eliminated. We have 3,300 new faculty. We have 100,000 more young people in our colleges and universities today. We think that's real progress. There's always more work to be done. One of the most important things we need to do is make sure the kids are in the classroom, though.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Final supplementary?

Mr. Peter Shurman: Sorry, folks, I think he's running for cover again.

As if these students haven't been through enough during this strike, this Premier, and more recently the NDP, have put them on a five-day emotional rollercoaster ride. Last Saturday, the Premier promised that they would be back in class this past Monday. He did this with no dialogue between his party and the other two parties, knowing full well it would never happen because the NDP would never agree to pass the bill in one day. That's what has unfolded.

Premier, we in the PC Party are prepared in these exceptional circumstances to consent to the time allocation motion to ensure that this bill gets passed and these students are back in class by Monday.

Premier, meet with the students and, please, at the very least, promise them right here and now that come hell or high water, they'll be in class on Monday.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Again, I want to remind my colleague and all present that the reason that we are here, in the middle of this emergency session, which started up on a Sunday, is so that we can do everything we possibly can to get the young people back in the classrooms as soon as possible.

I hope and I believe that this matter will come to a conclusion tomorrow, and I see no reason whatsoever, although I am not the final arbiter of this matter, why these young people could not be back in their classrooms on Monday.

My strong expectation, both as Premier and in my higher responsibility as a parentâ€"and I say this to the administration at York Universityâ€"is that they do everything they can to guarantee that young people will be back in the classroom on Monday morning. We'll do our part here; they need to do their part there.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Jim Wilson: My question is also for the Premier. Premier, the students at York University have been suffering at the hands of your government. Because of your inaction, these 45,000 students are facing an extra month of rent and living expenses, less time for summer jobs and a whole month of lost classroom time which they've already paid for. So I ask you, what are you prepared to do to assist these students?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I've spoken to this in the past, and I believe the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities has done the same. What we can do, where I think our responsibility lies, is to provide additional student assistance in the event that some students need to call upon that. I think, practically speaking, if you're down here, particularly if you've come from some other part of the province or from elsewhere and you've signed on for an eight-month academic program and you've leased an apartment for a specific amount of time in that context, and you now discover you've got to stay on for a couple of more months, obviously you're going to incur additional financial expenses. There are going to be additional costs associated with food and transportation and the like. I understand that.

I think our responsibility is to ensure that OSAP is sufficiently flexible to meet those additional needs. I've made that commitment and we will find a way to make that happen.

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The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Jim Wilson: Premier, that's a sad answer; that's just a promise for more student debt under OSAP and that's not good enough. Students don't deserve to have more debt and more interest charges because you chose to ignore their plight for over 12 weeks and because you allowed this strike to get to these points. These students will likely lose the month of May for summer employment, meaning the estimated loss of summer earnings for these students will be at least $1,400 if they work full time for four weeks at minimum wage.

Premier, is more debt the best you can do for these students who were locked out of the classroom, who have been denied their education through no fault of their own? Have a heart. They've lost money and they need compensation. Will you do that?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I want to remind my colleague about some of the differences in terms of our approach here. We continue to increase the minimum wage, but my colleagues opposite have opposed that. I want to remind him as well that when the same unfortunate circumstances were visited upon the students at York in March 2001, the government of the day, in which my colleague opposite was a minister, then took the position, as we do today, because it was reasonable then and it's reasonable today, that the responsibility be found in extending OSAP funding for students affected by the strike. That's what they did then because they thought it was the right thing to do. I believe it's the right thing to do today, and that's why we're going to do it.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Final supplementary?

Mr. Jim Wilson: Premier, you know darn well that the situation was entirely different back in 2001, when York University last went on strike. The university was not shut down, students were not shut out of their classes, and many faculty crossed the picket line and taught. So they didn't lose classroom time and they weren't out of money, and they certainly didn't have to extend the school year by a month and pay extra rent and extra living expenses and all the other expensesâ€"plus the loss of employment.

My colleague from Thornhill has just encouraged you to meet with the students, and I encourage you to do that too. John Tory has done that, I've done that as critic, as well as my colleague from Thornhill. We've not only met with the students on many occasions throughout the 12 weeks, but we've also met with parents and our concerned constituents. So I ask you again, will you meet with the students? Will you hear first hand what they're out of pocket and what sort of compensation they may need? If the best you're going to do is OSAP student loans, will you at least make those loans interest-free?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: There are truly unfortunate circumstances which have culminated in our being here today. There's a collective bargaining process. I know some folks don't like to talk about that, but it's actually a really important process. In the overwhelming majority of instances it works, and it works well. This time it failed us and the students have paid the price. There comes a time when the government has to step in. We've done that. We're now moving as quickly as we can to get this behind us and get the students back in the classroom.

I want to remind the students, in terms of our government's approach, of our dramatic investment in post-secondary education and the positive results we've seen as a result of that. I want to remind them of the increases that we continue to make to the minimum wage. And I want to remind them that we've brought back grants as part of our OSAP program, which were eliminated under previous governments.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Howard Hampton: My question is to the Premier. Yesterday morning I asked the Premier to call the president of York University and ask him to go back to the bargaining table. I understand that the Premier did call the president of York University and asked him to go back to the bargaining table and engage in good-faith bargaining. Could the Premier tell the Legislature how much progress has been made as a result of his telephone call to the president of York University?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I did in fact speak with the president to make it clear to him that there was still the option open to him to sit down and continue to negotiate. I understand that the university put out a release and addressed that and said they were not prepared to do that.

I understand that my friend is very interested in pursuing the negotiating dimension of this: what one party said and what the other party said and how they responded to each other and so on and so forth. I just think we bring a different perspective here on this side of the House.

I think the general public is saying, "Look, we understand there's something called collective bargaining. But do you know what? This has gone on too long. It's failing our students. We've got to get them back in the classroom." So that's the position that we're taking. I'm just not going to get involved in the minutiae of trying to get people together and knocking heads together. It has failed us. I recognize that. What we're doing is what needs to be done. We've brought in a bill, we want to get it passed, and we want to get the students back in the classroom.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Howard Hampton: I ask the question because I think the response from the president of York University was pretty clear: It's "screw you," to studentsâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): I'd ask the member to just temper the language a bit.

Mr. Howard Hampton: I think this raises the question, how much evidence does the Premier need that the president of York University and the administration of York University never intended to engage in meaningful collective bargaining? They have used every dodge, every manoeuvre, every strategy, to avoid a negotiated collective agreement.

My question is this: Does the Premier really believe that the McGuinty government should reward this kind of conduct by the administration of York University?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I just bring an honestly different perspective to our responsibilities here. In particular, we don't enjoy the luxury of insinuating ourselves into the collective bargaining process, sizing the parties up, finding out who's at fault in which way. That's not where we are. That's not our responsibility as I see it. Our responsibility is to come to the conclusion, as we have, that this has failed. We're not sure why it has failedâ€"there will be time in the future for us to revisit these kinds of thingsâ€"but it has failed us. It's failing the students. That's why we're here. That's why a bill has been introduced in this House. That's why we'll stay here as long as we can, but hopefully this will come to an end tomorrow, in keeping with our expectations, so that students will be back to school on Monday.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Final supplementary?

Mr. Howard Hampton: The Premier says his government doesn't want to involve themselves in this. You're very clearly involved.

It seems to me that there's another fundamental question here. The government of Ontario represents the taxpayers of Ontario. York University is overwhelmingly a publicly funded institution, and you are supposed to represent the public of Ontario. When you call the president of York University and you suggest to him that he should get to the bargaining table and do what all good-faith employers do, and his response, Premier, is to blow you off as if it's totally insignificant, it says to me that there's an accountability problem here. It says to me that there's a real failure to understand the duty that York University has to its students, to its workers, and to the taxpayers and public of Ontario. And I say again, does the Premier really believe that that kind of conduct by a public institution should be rewarded by the McGuinty government?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Again, I just see our responsibility here as different than that. It's to give expression to the greater public interest. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the greater public interest demands that we respect and assert collective bargaining as being a priority. That serves us very well in the overwhelming majority of cases, but from time to time that fails us. It failed us here. Now we're doing what we need to do: We step in, we blow a whistle, and we say, "Folks, it didn't work out." I'm not going to get into the blame game and point fingers as to where I think folks came up short. All I know is the students need to get back in their classrooms, and that's why we're acting today, and that's why we introduced this bill.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Howard Hampton: Again to the Premier: This has led to a debacle at York University, but there are other universities that are also trying, at this point in time, to work through some issues.

The workers at the University of Toronto have now been without a contract for over 300 days, and they have been attempting to bargain a collective agreement with the University of Toronto. We called there to see what was happening and were told that the U of T administration has been engaging in some of the same behaviour that the York University president just showed you. They've been cancelling bargaining days, not bringing real offers to the table and stalling bargaining.

If these actions at the University of Toronto lead to another employer-worker conflict, is it the intention of the McGuinty government to do the same thing once again, to simply let stalling and avoidance of bargaining happen and then legislate people back to work?

1050

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I think if there's one thing upon which we can agree, the leader of the NDP and myself and Ontarians generally, it's that these circumstancesâ€"this failureâ€"have compromised York University's reputation. I don't think any other post-secondary institution is going to seek to emulate the result that happened at York University. There is a positive opportunity for other administrations and other bargaining units now to come together out of a sense of goodwill, keeping in mind that ultimately the reason that they're all there is to serve the interests of students and to do everything they can to ensure that we don't happen upon this kind of result again. So I remain necessarily optimistic, and I look forward to administrations and bargaining units everywhere doing everything they need to do to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Howard Hampton: Those are your words today, but yesterday, in a question to the Minister of Education about collective bargaining, the Minister of Education didn't respond by saying we should all encourage everyone to use their best efforts to engage in collective bargaining. Her response was that the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario should pay close attention to York University's back-to-work legislation.

So, Premier, I ask the question again, because there are really serious issues at play here. The president of York University basically just told you to blow off. They're not prepared to engage in any further collective bargaining. Is it the intention of the McGuinty government to, in every one of these broader public sector collective bargaining situations, threaten back-to-work legislation? If that's the case, what does that do to collective bargaining and workers' rights in Ontario?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I don't know if what the leader of the NDP is asking me to do is to interfere in the processes that are unfolding by way of collective bargaining through all of our universities at present. I don't think that is what he wants me to do, but I don't really understand how he wants me to intervene, because most times he would ask me to refrain from intervening. There's a painful lesson to be learned from the York University experience. I am certain that all the university administrations and the bargaining units are paying very close attention to what has happened in these circumstances, and I am asking them, in my capacity both as Premier and as a parent, to do everything they can to come to a successful resolution of their issues and to ensure that the universities are kept open for classes at all times.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Final supplementary?

Mr. Howard Hampton: Premier, I appreciate the sincerity in what you're saying, but that's what you said to the president of York University yesterday, and he basically told you to get lost. So here is the reality, here is what happened at York: York University's senate unilaterally cancelled classes, met only four times in the fall, refused to meet during the winter, required, as they can under labour relations legislation, a vote on their offer, and after that vote was turned down said, "Oh, we're not going to bargain anymore." You call them and say, "You should get back to the bargaining table and still try to get a collective agreement," and he tells you to get lost.

Premier, you are intervening. You are sending a message by your government's conduct that broader public sector employers can stall, can dodge, can deke, can avoid, can manoeuvre, anything to avoid bargaining a collectiveâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: The leader of the NDP, my colleague, appears to be very familiar with the goings-on in terms of the negotiations here.

Mr. Howard Hampton: As you should be.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I am not.

Mr. Howard Hampton: Well, you should be.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: And I'm notâ€"

Interjections.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, clearly he has taken a side. He's entitled to do that. He has taken a side. We don't enjoy that luxury over here. The side that we're trying to be on at all times is fairness, the vitality of our post-secondary sector, and unlimited opportunities for our young people to become the very best that they might be. That's the side that we're on.

We will continue to pay close attention to these negotiations as they unfold here and in our other universities. We'll be encouraging all sides, at all times, to keep in mind their highest responsibility: The reason they are there is to meet the needs of Ontario's youth. I am convinced, and I remain optimistic in this regard, that we'll do what is necessary.

FEDERAL BUDGET

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: My question is to the Premier. It's related to yesterday's federal budget. Many of the details of that budget have been known for several days now. Given that you now know how much in federal funds will be flowing to Ontario, Premier, will you commit to bringing down your budget in mid-February, when we're scheduled to return to this House? And if not, why not?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I will refer this to the Minister of Finance.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: We welcome the fact that the federal government is now joining us in investing in infrastructure; we welcome the fact that the federal government is joining us. We welcome the fact that the federal government recognizes that Ontarians expect us to work together.

We indicated yesterday that we estimate the cost associated with the infrastructure component of the federal budget, the incremental cost to Ontario, will be in the range of $5 billion to $5.4 billion over the next two years. There are a number of other initiatives that require a full provincial response.

We will acknowledge today that we intend to meet what they've asked us to do on infrastructure. We intend to meet the other challenges. We will bring in a budget to fully respond to that, in a timely fashion, in a way that allows the projects contemplated, that build on the $7 billion in projects we have on the ground today in Ontario, to move forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: That was all very nice, but I'm sure you noticed it had nothing to do with the question.

We know that 66,000 jobs were lost in this province in this past November. We have warnings that tens of thousands more will follow shortly. There's clearly a priority here. The economy is deteriorating. All other provinces took some degree of action months ago to cushion their provinces against this situation. You've done very little. We're now going to break this House tomorrow for another three weeks.

I think what we're asking here is reasonable: Given the gravity of the situation, which you have publicly admitted, why can you not stand up today in this House and commit that you will table a budget in this place, for this province, no later than February 19?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The member opposite wants to join the party now, in terms of responding.

I'd remind him: $9 billion over the last year in infrastructure, and he voted against every single penny of that money. I would remind him: $3 billion in corporate tax cuts targeted to manufacturing, targeted to forestry, targeted to get capital into the hands of our business community, and that member and his party voted against every single measure in the budget.

I would remind him that we have called on the federal government for a year and a half to build partnerships with us, and we congratulate Mr. Flaherty and the federal government for doing just that. I'd invite you to do the same thing and acknowledge that the efforts this province has taken on infrastructure, on innovation, on partnerships and on business costs started a year and a half ago. They're in the ground today.

We welcome the federal government. It's time for you to come along and work with usâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. New question.

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INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAM FUNDING

Mr. Gilles Bisson: The minister professes a bit too much.

My question is to the Premier. You will know that yesterday in the federal budget, $5.4 billion over the next two years is Ontario's share of infrastructure. You will also know that most municipalities are going to have a really tough time trying to come up with their one-third share because of the financial constraints they find themselves in. My question to you is, is your government prepared to offset some of the one-third share for those municipalities that can't afford to participate?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure.

Hon. George Smitherman: I'm pleased again to have a chance to address the same question that was raised yesterday by the same party.

The word that I used in the answer yesterday was to recognize the necessity of "flexibility." Various municipal projects have already been highlighted to our government and to the federal government, where municipalities have indicated most certainly their willingness to participate on a one-third basis. Indeed, some of the infrastructure programs, like the communities component of the building Canada fund, are structured on the notion of partnership amongst three levels of government. No doubt, substantial elements of the resources will be matched by municipalities.

In conversation with Minister Baird, we've both come to the understanding that municipalities will have difficulty participating in some projects, and it will be necessary for senior levels of government to offer flexibility around this, but let's not pretend that there isn't capacity for municipalities to match some of this funding. That's further leverage and more capacity for stimulative effect, and that's something that I think we could all celebrate.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Listen, nobody on this side of the House disagrees that the one-third share is not a bad idea. In fact, it was our government that was the first to do it in Ontario, along with the federal and municipal governments.

You know as well as I do that there are some municipalities that have a better capacity to meet that one-third share. The question becomes, what do we do with those that can't? Their municipal tax base is down because of the closure of their major industries in some cases. Others have to deal with the amount of infrastructure they're having to invest in now.

Simply put, will your government match the one-third share for municipalities that don't have the financial capacity to participate in this program, or is this money that we're again going to send back to the federal government because Ontario doesn't take it up?

Hon. George Smitherman: With respect, you're at serious risk of kind of missing the play here. Firstly, it's not established that every dollar is for a one-third, one-third, one-third program. A roads project, as an example, on a provincial highway is not a place where we have expectation of a matching share from municipalities. At the heart of the matter, though, are some of these programs built on the notion of one-third partnership. We recently sent $1.1 billion to municipalities, much of that for infrastructure, much of which remains unallocated and certainly would be a very, very good point of leverage.

The member makes a suggestion that Ontario take on a municipal share well in advance of knowing what that really looks like. We want to make sure that we're operating in equal partnership with the senior level of government, the government of Canada. That will be our goal. But I assure the member we recognize that municipalities are in differing circumstances, and we will seek to be flexible on all of these circumstances as we move forward.

AIR-RAIL LINK

Mrs. Laura Albanese: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Last Wednesday, the Premier announced that Metrolinx, the regional transportation authority, had submitted a new air-rail proposal to link Pearson airport to downtown Toronto. I have commented on this issue, which will affect the riding of York Southâ€"Weston, many times in this House. I was pleased to hear that the village of Weston will now be home to a stop for the air-rail link, which will be tunnelled together with the GO trains through Weston. The project would also include a GO station facility in Weston.

A transportation hub in Weston with a stop for the air-rail link and an expansion of GO service will mean significant change for York Southâ€"Weston. Over the course of the project, how will the ministry ensure that the residents of York Southâ€"Weston are consulted, have access to information on this major project and are able to give direct feedback on how it will affect them?

Hon. James J. Bradley: I'd like to thank the member for York Southâ€"Weston for her advocacy on this issue. The member has been involved, I think, throughout the process and she certainly has been vocal about the concerns of her constituents. The Georgetown line GO Transit improvements and the air-rail link between Union Station and Pearson airport are included as priority projects in Metrolinx's regional transportation plan.

There are currently five million trips annually between Pearson airport and Union Stationâ€"that's pretty astounding. These improvements are about the economy, the environment and the quality of life. This government recognizes the importance of hearing from the public. That is why we continue to build on previous community engagement as we move forward with another round of public consultations before beginning the transit EA. Throughout the EA, we will see a further four months of consultations with the public.

Community engagement is key to the implementation of an air-rail link and the Georgetown line improvements.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mrs. Laura Albanese: It's important to know that the residents of York Southâ€"Weston will continue to be involved through the Metrolinx consultation process. It is important that the work that has been done thus far will form a base during the coming phase.

As announced last week, the GO expansion includes an air-rail link component that will run diesel-engine trains. The corridor has been designated by Metrolinx to be electrified in the first phase of the regional transportation plan, but a timeline has not been set, and the residents are concerned about how the present diesel engines will affect the community.

To the minister: What measures are being taken to ensure stringent emission controls? Will Toronto be the sole jurisdiction to house a diesel rail link to the airport?

Hon. James J. Bradley: The member is correct: The Metrolinx regional transportation plan does call for the electrification of the Georgetown line, and ultimately that is our goal.

However, this cannot be done overnight; I think everybody recognizes that. Demand calls for us to deal with the needs of the Georgetown line immediately. We cannot wait to begin the necessary improvements which allow for increased service on the GO line and the implementation of an air-rail link. I want to assure the member and the constituents of York Southâ€"Weston that an air-rail link will use trains with modern, clean engines that meet the latest tier 3 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2010 emission control standards.

In fact, diesel technology is used in a number of cities around the world to link their downtown corridors with the airports; Montreal, Miami and Manchester are examples. There will be a significant net reduction of greenhouse gases as people switch from cars to rail. In the first year of operationâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you, Minister. New question.

DOUGLAS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL

Mr. Tim Hudak: A question to the Premier: Premier, yesterday, members of the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network voted to shut down the emergency room, operating rooms and in-patient medical beds at Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie. In short, the Liberal-appointed board rubber-stamped the plan to turn Douglas Memorial Hospital into nothing but a glorified walk-in clinic.

You have designated Fort Erie as a growth community. It's a robust, vibrant town of 30,000 people, and now Dalton McGuinty is closing down their hospital. Premier, you cannot leave the decision up to an unaccountable, unelected and largely anonymous LHIN board. Show some leadership; show some courage. Will you step in and set this decision aside and keep that hospital open?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Health.

Hon. David Caplan: Contrary to the bombast opposite, there's quite a different approach that members on this side of the House have taken, as we've seen previously.

Previously, under the member when he was a member of the executive council, there was the Health Services Restructuring Commission and there were a number of backroom political conversations about health care services. I want to contrast that approach with the approach that we have taken as a government, where we have local community members from the area who came together and reviewed a plan brought forward by a local hospital board and their senior management. They have come and asked an outside reviewer, Dr. Jack Kitts, to take a look at that plan. Dr. Kitts, in his opinion, has said, "In terms of improving quality of care, this plan delivers with the appropriate recommendations and changes."

This morning, I had an opportunity to meet with Mayor Doug Martin and former mayors as well in Fort Erie, and I would be happy to share the resultsâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: Back to the Premier: You're damned right there's a difference. We kept that hospital open. We put new money in there to make sure that ER stayed open. The McGuinty government is closing that hospital down.

It's almost like he thinks Fort Erie is part of Pennsylvania. You've set aside a lot of industrial land for the new definition of wetlands. The Fort Erie Race Track is about to close down and you're ignoring the issue, and now you're closing down their hospital for all intents and purposes.

Premier, if you've made that calculation and if you have decided that the people of Fort Erie don't matter, it doesn't matter what happens in the next election, at least have the guts to stand in your place and say that. But if you have any courage, if you have any guts, if you have any leadership, stand up right now and say this decision will not stand, that you'll set aside this decision and keep that essential hospital open for the people of Fort Erie.

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Hon. Dalton McGuinty: The Minister of Health.

Hon. David Caplan: In fact, the record of this member and his government: They closed 7,000 hospital beds right across the province; they fired 6,000 nurses and called them hula-hoop workers. It's worse than that because in the last election campaign, not one year ago, this member and his colleagues vowed to cut $3 billion from health care in the province of Ontario. That's a marked contrast from the record of this government and the actions we have taken.

I would quote for the member the recent editorial of the Niagara Falls Review, and they say, "For far too long, health care decisions have been made behind closed doors"â€"by this member and his colleaguesâ€""followed by directives issued from on high," from offices at Queen's Park. "Gledhill and her board have demonstrated they are not only capable of making tough decisions, but doing the much more difficult task of standing up publicly and taking responsibility for their actions." This is the kind of leadership that the people of Niagara and the area have been calling on for years. Theseâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you, Minister. New question.

POVERTY

Mr. Michael Prue: My question is to the Minister of Children and Youth Services. In its poverty plan, the government said it would reduce poverty by 25% within five years if the federal government was a willing partner and if the economy was growing. The federal budget is out and the economic forecasts are in. Will the minister finally confirm that her government will achieve a 25% reduction of poverty in five years, or is the McGuinty government going to continue to blame the federal government and the economy for its inaction?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I would like to thank the member opposite. We are committed to reducing the number of kids living in poverty by 25% over the next five years. It is an ambitious target; it is a target that requires all of us to work together. In our strategy, we laid out exactly what steps need to be taken to achieve that target.

One of the components, one of the asks of the federal government, was to increase the WITB, the working income tax benefit. I was very happy to see in the budget yesterday that that is an initiative that the federal government is moving toward. We are committed to reducing the number of kids living in poverty by 90,000 over the next five years. We know what we have to do to achieve it and I'm committed to doing that.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Response? Excuse me. Supplementary?

Mr. Michael Prue: Ontarians have waited more than five years for action on poverty from this government. That's too long for the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who can't make enough money to put food on their family table. The government finally has a plan, but it refuses to set a solid target for poverty reduction. The question: What use is a poverty plan that has no objective and no target?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I'm going to offer again to take some time to spend with the member opposite to explain to him exactly how this strategy will be implemented.

I take great exception to the comment that nothing has changed. Let me give you a little example: A single mom with two kids, aged five and seven, when we were elected in 2003, had an income of under $20,000. Once this plan is implemented, with no new federal investments, her income, working full-time at a minimum-wage job, will have gone up to over $30,000. That is well above the poverty line. Currently, we are about halfway there because of the investments we have already made, but it's still not enough; there's more to do. We are committed to doing it.On our own, we'll get there; with the federal government, we'll get there faster.

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

Mrs. Maria Van Bommel: My question is for the Attorney General. For a number of years now, this government has been charting a new course for a constructive, co-operative relationship with the aboriginal people of Ontario, a relationship that is strengthened by mutual respect. That approach has meant working with aboriginal people to collaborate on key initiatives and achieve real progress on shared goals.

In the context of the justice system, aboriginal leaders have expressed concerns regarding the specialized justice needs of their communities, particularly in the areas of prevention, intervention, reintegration and relapse prevention. They have also made it clear that of paramount importance will be the continued efforts to find aboriginal solutions to aboriginal concerns.

We have heard that this government is pursuing effective ways to reflect the diverse needs of rural and urban aboriginal communities with an emphasis on prevention for children and youth and promoting community safety. Could the Attorney General tell this House how our government is specializing, and specificallyâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you for the question. Attorney General?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: I'd like to thank the member for her question and, along with many other members of the House, her advocacy on ensuring that we have a justice system in particular that works for all Ontarians regardless of who they are, where they're situated or what their background is. It's extremely important in ensuring that aboriginal personsâ€"Metis, First Nations, Inuitâ€"have a justice system that meets their particular and special needs.

Unfortunately, and for a number of different reasons, our aboriginal persons are overrepresented in justice and in our jails. It has been clear to all for some period of time that we need a new approach. I know the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has been travelling the province and working very hard, as did his predecessor, and I have been travelling to communities in all parts of this province, to develop programs that will meet the needs of those in justice, those who are victims of justice and those who want to be part of it.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mrs. Maria Van Bommel: We know that the Ontario government recognizes the distinct culture of First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities in Ontario. That recognition is no doubt of great importance when it comes to the justice system. Ontarians will want to know that this government is helping to ensure that aboriginal people are treated with respect and dignity and in a culturally appropriate manner in their dealings with our justice system.

This government has been speaking about the importance of aboriginal community justice programs and how those contribute to a comprehensive justice system that works locally to address justice-related issues and challenges. I also know that the Attorney General was in Kitchenerâ€"Waterloo earlier this week supporting the expansion of a court program that will increase access to justice for aboriginal communities in that region.

Could the Attorney General tell this House how that investment will achieve those important goals?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: The member is quite right. I was in the Kitchenerâ€"Waterloo region just a couple of days ago with the member for Kitchenerâ€"Conestoga. We announced the expansion of a special court support program for aboriginal persons who become subjects of the justice system. There are court workers who provide what are called Gladue services. We want to make sure the court has all the background information necessary to make the appropriate decision when an aboriginal person is before the justice system. We announced a funding initiative there jointly, province and federal government, that will ensure that these services can be provided by a worker who resides in the region, not simply from Toronto.

We've also announced the expansion of what are called community justice initiatives, as well as the special court sentencing initiatives, in various parts of the province, including Manitoulin Island, Ottawa, Simcoe county, Sagamok, Kenora and Thunder Bay. It's all part of our determination to ensure the justice system works for the people it serves.

DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: My question is for the Minister of Health. Last year your government announced with great fanfare that you would be covering the cost of PSA testing. That announcement understandably generated a great deal of congratulatory reaction that you and your colleagues happily soaked up. But eventually the truth had to come out, and now we discover that the announcement was really a sham. The only change is that private labs can now do doctor-ordered testing and be covered by OHIP.

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Minister, why did you and your colleagues lead the public down the garden path on this announcement? Why didn't you tell them the truth about this very limited change at the outset?

Hon. David Caplan: When a patient needs a blood test or an X-ray or any kind of medical procedure, they see their doctor. If the doctor feels that test should be performed, essentially they check a box on a lab form, and if the doctor does so, it is paid for by OHIP. Previously in the province of Ontario, this was not the case for the PSA test. Currently, it is the case as of January 1 of this year, in keeping with the commitment that we made to Ontarians back in the fall of 2007.

The characterization by my friend opposite is completely false. In fact, we have lived up to the promise which we made to Ontarians that the cost of the PSA test would be covered, and it will be under the guidance and the advice of a medical practitioner.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: If the minister has been monitoring public reaction since the discovery of the truth behind the announcement, he has to acknowledge that many, many people were misled. He and his colleagues had to knowâ€"had to knowâ€"there was widespread misunderstanding of the scope of their commitment, but they keep silent. They were around the province patting themselves on the back. I quote a letter to the editor that appeared in last week's issue of the Ottawa Citizen. An individual asks, "Have we been duped? Have the media been duped? Has the Canadian Prostate Cancer Network and all the other organizations who cheered at the announcement of this promise been duped?"

Minister, was this just yet another broken Liberal promise?

Hon. David Caplan: It's promise made, promise kept. In fact, what was committed to was that the PSA test would be covered and as of January 1 of this year.

Now, I note for the member that you could not go and get any other kind of blood test or X-ray or any other kind of diagnostic simply by showing up and presenting yourself. It would be on the advice of a physician. Why the member would suggest that PSA testing would be any different is not in keeping with the standard and accepted norms of medical care that Ontarians would expect. In fact, we have made sure that the tests will continue to be available in hospital for men who meet the guidelines. They are expanding now to community labs. In fact, this is something that I know has been well-greeted because it will help and assist men to have better health outcomesâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you, Minister. New question.

CHILD CARE

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The question is to the Minister of Children and Youth Services. We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the federal budget contains no child care funding. New Democrats, in fact, warned the McGuinty government that it should not rely on federal money to prop up provincial child care programs, but make good on its own pledge of three hundred million new dollars for creating more child care in this province.

With more families than ever waiting for affordable licensed child careâ€"13,000 in Toronto aloneâ€"why did the McGuinty government put all its child care eggs in the federal basket instead of ensuring adequate provincial investments in the first place?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: The child care system in this province is at a historic crossroads, frankly. We have appointed Dr. Charles Pascal to advise us on the best way to make sure our kids get the very best start in their education possible. We are committed to implementing full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds. It will have an enormous impact on our child care sector. We are confident that Dr. Pascal has consulted widely and broadly, and we very much look forward to the recommendations he's going to be bringing in.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The minister is right: It's historic, all right. A whole 12% of the children in Ontario who should be in child care can access licensed child care in this province. If that's a crossroads, congratulations to you.

The McGuinty government is doing a great disservice to families by breaking its promise to invest in child care in this province. Had the promised provincial investment of $300 million occurred, the waiting list for child care would be shrinking at this point in time, Minister, not growing as it currently is.

How is it that the province of Quebec has an excellent provincially funded program, and Ontario lags so far behind that child care wasn't even a line item in the last budget?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I'd like to correct the error in the member's question. In fact, we committed another $25 million last year and another $50 million this year. That money is going, in large part, to subsidies so that more kids can access child care so their parents can go back to work.

The member opposite should embrace this turning point in early childhood education in this province, because what we are doing is moving forward aggressively. In the province of Quebec, when they brought in the child care system they have now, which I must say is funded by Ontarians as much as anyone else, one of the first things that they did was bring in full-day learning for five-year-olds. We are bringing in full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds. We welcome the report from Dr. Pascal and we'll move to implement that as quickly as we can.

AGRI-FOOD INDUSTRY

Mrs. Liz Sandals: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Much has been said about the challenges we are facing in our economy here in Ontario. One great way to help the economy in rural Ontario is for all Ontarians to choose Ontario when they make their trip to the grocery store.

Local food producers in my riding are working together with community organizations to get more fresh local Ontario foods into Ontario kitchens. We all know that Ontario farmers produce the safest and best-quality food in the world. Buying local is a great way to help local farmers promote the local economy and at the same time protect the environment, because when food travels smaller distances, fewer greenhouse gases are generated. We know that our strategy to promote Ontario food is helping to drive local sales.

Minister, could you please tell this House what our government is doing to promote Ontario foods and encourage Ontarians to buy locally?

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Order, please.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: Members of the House areâ€"

Interjections.

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: They don't want me to sing. What I will say, though, is that our government has been very focused on promoting the fine quality food that we have here in Ontario. We have listened very carefully to our farmers, so we have made investments in our Buy Ontario and Pick Ontario Freshness strategies.

I would just like to read for the member a letter that I have received from Kate, who said she wanted to commend this ministry and government for our Pick Ontario Freshness campaign: "The Pick Ontario Freshness marketing strategy does a tremendous job of communicating all that Ontario agriculture has to offer."

Also, I have a letter from Tamara, who says, "I fully support this initiative and think it is long overdue. I think it is essential that consumers buy locally."

We believe that this strategy has been successful. We are getting positive feedback. We continue to be committed to doing all that we can to promote Ontarioâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you, Minister. Supplementary?

Mrs. Liz Sandals: I know this minister has worked very hard to make the importance of buying local top of mind for Ontario consumers.

In my riding, I was pleased to announce four local projects under the Ontario market investment fund:

â€"$86,000 to the Canadian Mushroom Growers' Association for consumer research and education and promotion of fresh Ontario mushrooms;

â€"$73,000 for an Ontario's finest meat products consumer and retail campaign to generate support for Ontario's processed meat industry;

â€"$100,000 for FarmzOnWheelz. I love this project, because it will engage young people in exploring farming and food. FarmzOnWheelz will be a travelling exhibit moving across Ontario, educating the public about modern agri-food technology and its economic impact;

â€"$56,000 to Guelph Community Health in the Wellingtonâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. Response?

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: I'm happy to have the opportunity to speak about the Ontario market investment fund. What farmers and local producers have said is that they did need some support to market their products locally. So, under this program, we are offering to partner with agri-food industry groups and local food networks to help either jump-start or maintain a momentum that's within the community to promote local food products. We are providing $12 million over the next four years to projects like the one that my colleague the honourable member has identified. My ministry is very eager to accept applications to this fund; it has tremendous spin-off in our rural communities. Farmers, producers and customers are raving about the results of these types of initiatives. It all helps to build rural communities in Ontario and support Ontario farmers.

HIGHWAY 407

Mr. Ted Arnott: My question is for my friend the Minister of Transportation. Will the minister please confirm to this House this morning that the timing of his announcement yesterday on the 407 east extension was motivated by the pending by-election in Haliburtonâ€"Kawartha Lakesâ€"Brock?

Hon. James J. Bradley: Here's the logic of thatâ€"my good friend would say "logic." Why would you announce tolls in the middle of a by-election if you're trying to do something for the candidate?

As with all your members, I really liked Laurie Scott. She did an excellent job as a member, and I can't for the life of me understand why the leader of the Conservative Party sharpened his elbows and moved Laurie Scott out of the way in a riding like that. We want more women in the House. Laurie was a nice person; I found her very good to deal with. She was from the riding. She's a good person and here she gets shoved out of the way by John Tory. I just do not understand why that would happen, and perhaps in his supplementary, when it comes, the member can explain that to me.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Okay. Supplementary.

Mr. Ted Arnott: I didn't hear an answer to my specific question. I know that the voters of Haliburtonâ€"Kawartha Lakesâ€"Brock will see through this political game, the timing of which has been unquestionably and solely determined by the spin doctors in the Premier's office because they're nervous about the pending by-election. For over three years, our leader, John Tory, has been calling for an expedited process for getting the 407 east extension done. But now we're hearing the province doesn't even own the land on which the highway is to be constructed. Is this why the minister is unwilling to commit to a firm completion date for the extension of the 407?

Hon. James J. Bradley: I know that this party, the Conservative Party, is very concerned about the environment. Over the years, your record of being concerned about the environment is one to behold, so I know that you wouldn't want me to pre-empt the environmental assessment process that the Minister of the Environment runs.

I cannot determine how the environmental assessment will turn out, but I do know that the former member for Haliburtonâ€"Kawartha Lakesâ€"Brock, Laurie Scott, was doing a wonderful job and I just cannot understand why, in the midst of all these issues coming forward, your leader, John Tory, and his staff would sharpen their elbows and take our friend, your friend, everybody's friend Laurie Scott out of her seat. Perhaps the people of that riding will end up electing a local person when they go to the ballot box someday.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): The time for oral questions has been used.

DEFERRED VOTES

YORK UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTES
RESOLUTION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR LE RÈGLEMENT
DES CONFLITS DE TRAVAIL
À L'UNIVERSITÉ YORK

Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 145, An Act to resolve labour disputes between York University and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903 / Projet de loi 145, Loi visant à régler les conflits de travail entre l'Université York et la section locale 3903 du Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1134 to 1139.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Mr. Fonseca has moved second reading of Bill 145, An Act to resolve labour disputes between York University and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903. All those in favour, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

Aggelonitis, Sophia

Albanese, Laura

Arnott, Ted

Balkissoon, Bas

Bartolucci, Rick

Bentley, Christopher

Bradley, James J.

Brownell, Jim

Bryant, Michael

Cansfield, Donna H.

Caplan, David

Carroll, Aileen

Chan, Michael

Colle, Mike

Craitor, Kim

Dickson, Joe

Dombrowsky, Leona

Duguid, Brad

Duncan, Dwight

Fonseca, Peter

Gerretsen, John

Hardeman, Ernie

Hoy, Pat

Hudak, Tim

Jaczek, Helena

Jeffrey, Linda

Jones, Sylvia

Kwinter, Monte

Levac, Dave

MacLeod, Lisa

Mangat, Amrit

Matthews, Deborah

McGuinty, Dalton

McMeekin, Ted

McNeely, Phil

Meilleur, Madeleine

Milloy, John

Mitchell, Carol

Moridi, Reza

Pendergast, Leeanna

Phillips, Gerry

Pupatello, Sandra

Qaadri, Shafiq

Ramal, Khalil

Rinaldi, Lou

Runciman, Robert W.

Ruprecht, Tony

Sandals, Liz

Shurman, Peter

Smith, Monique

Smitherman, George

Sousa, Charles

Takhar, Harinder S.

Van Bommel, Maria

Watson, Jim

Wilkinson, John

Wynne, Kathleen O.

Zimmer, David

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

Bisson, Gilles

DiNovo, Cheri

Gélinas, France

Hampton, Howard

Horwath, Andrea

Kormos, Peter

Miller, Paul

Prue, Michael

Tabuns, Peter

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 58; the nays are 9.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Shall the bill be ordered for a third reading?

Hon. Peter Fonseca: I would ask that the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): So ordered.

This House is recessed until 3 of the clock.

The House recessed from 1142 to 1500.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I'm delighted to introduce members of CUPE 3903. We've got Vanessa, Maria, James, Julie and many, many others of striking workers. Welcome to Queen's Park yet again.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I'd like to introduce members of CUPE Local 3903: Michael Stacey, Hilary Martin, Nick Fenn and Antonia Fikkert.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Peter Shurman: I'd like to read an e-mail I received from my constituents last week with respect to the strike at York University. I will not name them, in order to protect their privacy, but I thought it was important that the House hear what they had to say.

"We are your constituents. We are also members of York's striking contract workers CUPE 3903. Two of our children, also your constituents, are students at York and are being harmed by the continuation of this strike. This is especially true of one of them who is in his final year at York.

"While we are opposed to the principle of back-to-work legislation, we believe the harm done by continuing this strike warrants such legislation should the next two or three days fail to produce an agreement. The education of so many students is being compromised."

This e-mail was sent to my office on January 22, 2009. This is an example of how my constituents feel about the protracted strike and about the abuse that 50,000 York University students have been made to suffer over the almost 12 weeks of striking.

CUPE RESOLUTION

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I'm rising today in disappointment of the hurtful and ignorant comments made by the head of CUPE Ontario about the state of Israel and a resolution he has advanced that has made thousands, if not millions, of Ontarians uncomfortable.

As a member of the Ontario Legislature, I condemn a proposed resolution by CUPE Ontario which would have banned Israeli professors from "doing speaking, teaching or research work at Ontario's universities." Ontario's universities are a place of higher learning, where our students are encouraged to seek the truth. Our Legislative Assembly, and by extension our government, should advance diversity and the exchange of ideas. Sid Ryan's so-called boycott of Israeli academics would limit that exchange and has the potential to damage diversity in Ontario's campuses. I also fear that his words, which have compared Israeli operations in Gaza to Nazi actions in World War II, were not only offensive but downright discriminatory.

I am pleased that he has apologized for those comments, but those words have left a lasting sting. Furthermore, with 50,000 students being forced out of one of Canada's largest universities right here in the province of Ontario, Mr. Ryan's comments cast a very sad reflection on his priorities as CUPE leader.

Finally, I call on the government of Ontario to condemn Mr. Ryan's statements, this proposed resolution, and to place a call for greater tolerance and reflection at this time.

CORRECTIONAL FACILITY EMPLOYEES

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The people who undertake some of the most dangerous and important work in Ontario aren't getting the respect they deserve. I'm talking about the correctional service workers, represented by OPSEU, who work in jails in an environment that is never without danger and hazards.

While these 5,500 workers continue to put their work ahead of their own health and safety, the government is forcing a confrontation that could push these workers to strike. A vote on a feeble government offer tabled on December 24 wraps up tomorrow, January 29; the old agreement expired on December 31.

Note that the McGuinty government is doing everything it can to ensure that negotiations fail. Rather than addressing the real issues confronting these workers, the government continues to ignore the brutal working conditions and daily risks to their health and safety. Stress, overcrowding and deteriorating working conditions take an extremely heavy toll on correctional service workers.

The failure of governments to take these issues seriously over the past decade has created a powder keg of problems. For one thing, it's making a lot of workers sick. I went to see first-hand what correctional service workers face on the job every day. On January 6, I visited the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre, accompanied by Steve Smith, president of OPSEU Local 248, and Mike Barton, manager of security. What I saw and heard was shocking. Workers have to go home because they are covered in feces, blood and other bodily fluids from inmates. They get sick after escorting inmates with infections and illnesses to hospital. They witness suicide attempts, particularly in secure isolation. There's sick building syndrome.

These workers go through a heck of a lot. They deserve a good deal. Let's hope the government gives it to them.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Members' statements? The member for Thornhill.

Mr. Peter Shurman: More e-mail, Mr. Speakerâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Excuse me one second. You can't make two statements; I'm sorry. My mistake.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Kim Craitor: I rise today in the House to give voice to all the students and their families who have called me, visited me or written to my office about the three-month-old strike at York University. After more than 80 days of honest and sustained bargaining, the labour impasse at York has students and parents, who come in to see me on a regular basis, worried that the school year, and with it their future employment opportunities, may be in jeopardy.

Many York students count on summer employment in my community to cover their university expenses. They are worried that if this strike continues, their summer employment opportunities will be limited or potentially unavailable.

I've also heard from numerous students about how hard they've worked and the numerous hours they have spent filling out their graduate school applications. Now that hangs in the balance, due to the current work stoppage.

We in the McGuinty government have the utmost respect for the fundamental right of collective bargaining, a right that countless generations have fought to achieve. The rights of workers and the bargaining process have been respected throughout this dispute. But after three months and countless hours of instruction lost, it's time for all parties in this Legislature to support this legislation so that we can get York's 50,000 students back to class. Their futures are at stake, and it is time that we intervened.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I too want to read an e-mail from a constituent, who writes:

"I am the parent of a York student and was at the rally today. I appreciate the part you have played in getting students (hopefully) back to classes. After listening to the stories of various students who have lost jobs and opportunities, I am hoping that there will be some kind of compensation offered for the loss parents and students have incurred. I have the feeling that once kids are back in school, it will be 'business as usual,' and all will be forgotten.

"In our case, my daughter is considering dropping out of second semester in order to work. She has been living in a townhouse on campus, paying rent, and will now have to extend her lease, should the year be extended into June. Her part-time job barely covers cost-of-living expenses, and having her year extended really limits opportunities for making enough money to cover costs for the next year. The university and government must consider ways of helping people like her. I would suggest a break on tuition, or a meaningful rebate.

"Please continue to urge the government and the university to remember the damage this strike has caused.

"Thank you."

To all the members on all sides of the House, this is precisely what we've been discussing all week and why it matters so much.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Mike Colle: I rise in the House today on behalf of the thousands of students who attend York University. I hear from these students and their families on a daily basis, each one of them calling and asking for an end to the labour disruption so they can resume classes, prepare for summer employment and complete applications for graduate programs and other academic opportunities.

York University is Canada's third-largest university, with 50,000 students. Each one of them has been negatively affected by the ongoing labour dispute. They are worried about their academic year: that it may be lost, that an extended summer session may result in fewer job opportunities and that the labour stoppage could result in the missing of deadlines for other academic programs.

The students are not alone in the suffering, as I've also heard from numerous parents, moms and dads who've made tremendous sacrifices to help keep their children in school by contributing to expenses and offering other financial help. These parents have also expressed their desire to see the strike ended as soon as possible.

The McGuinty government has made a concerted effort to respect the hard-won rights of workers by giving collective bargaining its due process, but the two sides have reached an obvious impasse. It is time that all three parties support this legislation and put the students first. Their academic futures are at stake and we must act now to end this dispute.

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PETITIONS

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: This petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I couldn't agree more and I will affix my signature to it and give it to Nick.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Mike Colle: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas negotiations to end the strike between York University and CUPE 3903 have reached a deadlock; and

"Whereas the strike has kept almost 50,000 students out of class for weeks; and

"Whereas the NDP is blocking attempts by the government to get the students back in class and learning again; and

"Whereas the NDP's actions are harming the education of York University students and are a slap in the face to parents and students; and

"Whereas students and parents are concerned the NDP's continuing opposition to resolving the strike could threaten the academic year" for these students;

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

"That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario pass Bill 145 without further delay and get York University students back" where they belong, "in class."

I fully support this petition and I affix my name to it.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Ms. Andrea Horwath: This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

"We, the students of York University, strongly recommend that you drop this back-to-work legislation and order the York administration back to the bargaining table in good faith.

"We believe that this legislation is a slippery slope for all university sector employees' right to collective bargaining. We have faith that you will pressure York to come up with a good agreement, and fast, because we want to get back to class. We request that not only will you intervene, but do so in a way that reflects good governance.

"Prove yourselves as rightly fit to govern, respectful of democracy and, most of all, respectful of the collective bargaining process by calling on a new, non-partisan mediator. It is not too late.

"We support the right of workers to collectively bargain, and see that the only enemy in this process has been the York administration and its board of governors, which include many cabinet members from the Harris years.

"We request that, if the government wants a quick end to this strike, two things happen:

"(1) That they appoint a non-partisan mediator to spend the next few days working out a contract that reflects a decent living wage and job security;

"(2) That they appoint a team of accountants to overview York's budget and see how York is mismanaging our tuition dollars by not putting our dollars toward the education of the students."

I've signed this petition and send it to the table via Nick. Thank you, Nick.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Bas Balkissoon: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas negotiations to end the strike between York University and CUPE 3903 have reached a deadlock; and

"Whereas the strike has kept almost 50,000 students out of class for weeks; and

"Whereas the NDP is blocking attempts by the government to get the students back in class and learning again; and

"Whereas the NDP's actions are harming the education of York University students and are a slap in the face to parents and students; and

"Whereas students and parents are concerned the NDP's continuing opposition to resolving the strike could threaten the academic year for York University students;

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

"That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario pass Bill 145 without further delay and get York University students back in class."

I agree with this petition and I affix my signature to it.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I have a number of petitions addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I've signed that petition.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mrs. Amrit Mangat: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas negotiations to end the strike between York University and CUPE 3903 have reached a deadlock; and

"Whereas the strike has kept almost 50,000 students out of class for weeks; and

"Whereas the NDP is blocking attempts by the government to get the students back in class and learning again; and

"Whereas the NDP's actions are harming the education of York University students and are a slap in the face to parents and students; and

"Whereas students and parents are concerned the NDP's continuing opposition to resolving the strike could threaten the academic year for York University students;

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

"That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario pass Bill 145 without further delay and get York University students back in class."

Mr. Speaker, I fully support the petition. I affix my signature to it and will send it to you.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I add my name to the hundreds of signatures on this petition and I give it to Nick, again.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. David Zimmer: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas negotiations to end the strike between York University and CUPE 3903 have reached a deadlock; and

"Whereas the strike has kept almost 50,000 students out of class for weeks; and

"Whereas the NDP is blocking attempts by the government to get the students back in class and learning again; and

"Whereas the NDP's actions are harming the education of York University students and are a slap in the face to parents and students; and

"Whereas students and parents are concerned the NDP's continuing opposition to resolving the strike could threaten the academic year for York University students;

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

"That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario pass Bill 145 without further delay and get York University students back in class."

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Ms. Andrea Horwath: "Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I agree with this petition. I have signed it and send it with Nick to the table.

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UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Ms. Helena Jaczek: I too have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas negotiations to end the strike between York University and CUPE 3903 have reached a deadlock; and

"Whereas the strike has kept almost 50,000 students out of class for weeks; and

"Whereas the NDP is blocking attempts by the government to get the students back in class and learning again; and

"Whereas the NDP's actions are harming the education of York University students and are a slap in the face to parents and students; and

"Whereas students and parents are concerned the NDP's continuing opposition to resolving the strike could threaten the academic year for York University students;

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

"That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario pass Bill 145 without further delay and get York University students back in class."

I agree with this petition, affix my signature thereto and give it to Wayne.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Peter Tabuns: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I affix my signature to this petition.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Ms. Andrea Horwath: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I have signed this petition, I agree with it and send it to the table via Nick.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I have another group of petitions here addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I have affixed my signature to that petition and give it to our team leader, Jordan, to bring it over.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Ms. Andrea Horwath: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I agree with this petition. With the help of my friend Gilles Bisson and his pen, I will affix my signature and send it to the table via Nick.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Gilles Bisson: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I will affix my signature to this petition.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Michael Prue: I have a petition that reads as follows:

"Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I'm in agreement and affix my signature thereto.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Peter Tabuns: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 sets a devastating precedent for the hard-won right to collectively bargain across this and other sectors; and

"Whereas workers have a right to collectively bargain and the employer has the duty to come to the table and negotiate in good faith;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to vote against back-to-work legislation and send a strong signal of this Legislature's commitment to the collective bargaining process and to reject back-to-work legislation as a bargaining strategy employed by the administration at York University."

I sign this petition.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): The time for petitions has expired.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

TIME ALLOCATION

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that, pursuant to standing order 47 and notwithstanding any other standing order or special order of the House relating to Bill 145, An Act to resolve labour disputes between York University and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903, that the order referring Bill 145 to the Standing Committee on Social Policy be discharged, and the bill be ordered for third reading; and

That, when the order for third reading is called, the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further debate or amendment; and

That there shall be no deferral of any vote allowed pursuant to standing order 28(h); and

That, in the case of any division relating to any proceedings on the bill, the division bell shall be limited to 10 minutes.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Ms. Smith has moved government notice of motion 111. Further debate?

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I think we all agree that the collective bargaining process is important, but in this case it was not successful. In this situation, failure to reach an agreement has a real impact. This is not a strike at an ordinary business where consumers can find the goods and services they need from other suppliers. Here, these students have no other choices in terms of post-secondary schooling for this year. Many, perhaps most of them, have already paid their tuition in advance and in full. As a government, we cannot stand by when, even after extensive attempts at negotiations and mediation and a strike that has continued for 12 weeks, there remains a clear deadlock between the parties, endangering the academic year for these 45,000 students. Under the legislation before the House, all outstanding issues that cannot be resolved would be referred to binding arbitration. However, nothing prevents the parties from continuing to negotiate.

This legislation, if passed, allows for York University and CUPE 3903 to intensify their efforts to resolve their differences and arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement, even as the arbitration proceeds. In the meantime, York students will be in class receiving the excellent post-secondary instruction that York offers and that our students need to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The greater public interest demands that, as legislators, we act. This should be put to a final vote so the students can get back to learning.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Shurman: I've spent the entire week here, along with the rest of you, not having expected or wanted to do that, and not having wanted to come back until February 17 to discuss broader business in Ontario. I also want to go on record, as far as my party is concerned, with the fact that a time allocation motion limiting debate is not necessarily something we would ordinarily accept, because we believe in stimulating debate as much as possible.

Interjection.

Mr. Peter Shurman: I've already heard enough, thank you.

Interjection.

Mr. Peter Shurman: You're agreeing with me? In that case, that's great. We wouldn't want to cut off debate. However, in this particular instance, as I have stressed time and time again, the important and the paramount issue here is getting students back into their classrooms as soon as possible. With luck and God's good grace and perhaps the help of some of the people in the gallery, we can do that on Monday morning. So in this instance, I have to say that debate has gone on far enough. We're prepared to agree and vote for this motion, and we hope to proceed with haste.

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The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Kormos: I will be joined this afternoon in the course of this debate by my colleagues the member for Timminsâ€"James Bay, Gilles Bisson, and the member for Parkdaleâ€"High Park, Cheri DiNovo.

In the brief period of time that's allowed to usâ€"this is a time allocation motion. It means that the government is not going to let this bill be submitted to the process of this Parliament. What's remarkable is that the government has introduced this time allocation motion after less than six and a half hours of debate, when there have been but 10, 11, 12 speakers, most of them 20-minute slots.

I understand time allocation. I don't agree with it; I don't support it; I've never voted for it.

Interjection: Never?

Mr. Peter Kormos: I understand time allocationâ€"

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Order.

Mr. Peter Kormos: â€"but I've never voted for it. I won't vote for it today. I understand time allocation when a matter is being debated with the purpose, let's say, of a filibuster, although I'm a fan of filibusters as a tactic in a Parliament. They can be a meaningful and useful tool in the democratic process. I understand them; I don't like them.

I was here at time when there weren't restrictions on lengths of speeches. The member for York Centre recalls that as well. He recalls that on issues of significant public interest and importance, we'd spend weeks and months debating a particular bill on second reading alone. On other matters, things could be resolved with first, second and third reading in a day and a half, because what we knew was that when you impose these rigid controls on the amount of debate that an individual member could engage in, you then often create a scenario where the minimum becomes the maximum and the maximum becomes the minimum.

This is very serious legislation. Look, nobody in this chamber has ever applauded an 11-week work stoppage. Nobody has failed to acknowledge and understand that when there's a labour dispute that results in a strike or a lockoutâ€"and, as said before, this strike looks far more like a lockout than a strikeâ€"no one attempts to say that people aren't hurt. The workers are hurt; they aren't earning money. Collective bargaining, dispute resolution, is hurt because people aren't negotiating to resolve a conflict. In the private sector, the consumersâ€"in this instance, a university, the students and their familiesâ€"are hurt. And the university is hurt. As I say, the longest-lasting blemish here will be the one that will be worn by York University, which has now acquired a well-deserved reputation for bad labour relations and for collaborating with the government to force workers back to work without negotiating a settlement but rather submitting them to an imposed settlement.

Look, they're right. This isn't a factory. People aren't building widgets, things. People are educating students, people are doing academic research, people are building the reputation of a place of learning, so the need to avoid acrimony is far greater here than it is in a nuts-and-bolts factory, where the nuts and the bolts can go through all the various quality controls and testing, and the bad ones can be discarded and the good ones will be shipped out. I guess they won't be shipped out, because there are no manufacturing places left in the province of Ontario to consume or purchase the nuts and bolts that those contractors have been making.

Look, I'm confident that the students over the course of the last 11 weeks, albeit frustrated, have worked hard. I'm confident that they've been going through the required reading lists and reading those texts. I'm confident that maybe for the first time, because I remember what it was like as a university student, they actually got to the supplementary reading list and have begun reading those texts. I'm confident that they have ensured they're not going to go back to the classroom unprepared. I'm confident that they've been working and they know what their course curriculum and requirements are and probably have been working on essay outlines and perhaps doing some of the initial research, because I know so many of these students, so many of these young people. There may be a handful who have simply sat out the last 11 weeks. I'm confident the vast majority of those students have worked hard doing the work that they would be doing outside of the classroom in any event.

Government has been referring to the students as "kids." I mentioned the other day that they're not kids; they're young adults and adults. They're people in post-secondary education. You don't take them by the hand to use the washroom. You don't put them in a classroom for six hours a day and guide them through the pages of a textbook. You give them reading lists, you give them course requirements, you give them outlines, you give them sources and then, as you develop this post-secondary skill and intellect, they become increasingly autodidactic.

New Democrats have made it clear that it isn't our goal to block legislation. We know it's going to pass; it's a majority government. Indeed, since the filing of time allocation motions, the timelines have been apparent. York University management knewâ€"heck, yesterdayâ€"that this bill was going to be voted on for third reading on Thursday morning. You don't gotta be a rocket scientist, as the guy from the cooking show says, to understand that. You look at the time allocation motion and look at the procedural rules.

It has been remarkable to have government members display a haughtiness, a sense of offence, that not everybody agrees with them on a particular controversial issue. I've been here since 1988. I've watched majority governments. I watched the one in 1987 get elected. I was part of that government, joining it a year later. I watched the one in 1990 get elected; 1995, remember that well; through to 2003. I've watched majority governments get elected. I've watched people elected to this assembly as first-time members being elected directly into governmentâ€"on sweeps. And do you know what? I'll say this about every one of those governments, the one that I was a member of as well: Governments elected on sweeps defeat good members of the Legislature who ought to have been re-elected and elect members of the Legislature, some of whom have no business being here. When you're elected directly into government, you acquire a sense of entitlement as majority government that leaves one incapable of understanding how this system, how this institution, is supposed to work.

When there's unanimity there will be, well, unanimity, but when there's not, there's going to be debate. There's going to be criticism, and there's going to be an effort to provide different perspectives. When you have conflicting interests at play, minority interests have as much right to be represented and spoken to in this chamber as do perhaps the more popular and majority interests.

1540

At a deep level, I'd argue that the interests of collective bargaining are everybody's interests; I would argue that strongly. The interests of negotiation, as compared to having an imposed settlement, are in everybody's interest. But on such an emotional issue as this, with consequences for everybody, people are disinclined at the moment to look at the deep, deep, deep analysis but, rather, look at it from a very personal perspective and what it means for them at the moment.

I do want to welcome some people here: Andrea Kormosova and her brother, Jan Kormos, from Bajerovce, a small village in eastern Slovakia; and Andrea's friend Martina Jancikova, from Kosice, a bigger city, close to Bajerovce.

When I told them what we were debating today, they found it, quite frankly, remarkable. They're too young to remember the old regime but they remember what their parents and grandparents had to say about it. Their perspective of this liberal, democratic Canadaâ€"Ontarioâ€"was that there was a right to strike which, in the place where they came from, didn't exist or existed in name only for a long, long time.

The right to withdraw one's labour is a fundamental democratic right. The right to collective bargaining is a constitutional right.

I'm not going to argue legal issues here. I'm going to concede that the university's failure to engage in good-faith bargaining has been a serious problem. That's why, when I sat beside Howard Hampton this morning during question period and he queried the Premier to the effect of, "How is it that you have so little influence over the president of York University? Or did you really want to exercise that much in the first place?"â€"it's remarkable. You have a Premier who last Friday agreed with collective bargaining and supported it, and who, in 24 hours, didn't believe in collective bargaining anymore and was advocating back-to-work legislation.

The bill will pass tomorrow morning. It will pass without any further debate; no further debate. It was forced into committee but the government took it out of committee by virtue of this time allocation motion. I showed my cousins Jan and Andrea and their friend Martinaâ€"Helen Brown was with them; she's their cousin as wellâ€"the committee room downstairs on the first floor as we toured Queen's Park after question period. I explained to them that the committee room is where the public has access to the parliamentary process. The committee room is where anybodyâ€"be they expert, scholar, academic, lawyer, teacher or homemaker or retireeâ€"can come and participate in discussion and debate around government legislation and the policy goals of that legislation. The response was that even to date, in the place where they come from, that is unheard of.

I find it tragic that this bill will not have even one day of public hearing. In the time allocation motion, there could have been a provision for one day of public hearing. It could have been rigidly controlled. There could have been but 10-minute slots available to people, so that at the very least those students and their families, the ones who want back-to-work legislation and the ones who, quite frankly, continue to support the workers and their struggle, along with those workers and other faculty, along with people who have a keen interest in the role of publicly funded post-secondary education in our provinceâ€"there would have been some modest chance for them to participate in the process and attempt to persuade decision-makersâ€"us. My cousins from Slovakia looked at that committee room, heard clearly what I was saying and said, "That never took place in the old days, not the way our parents told us, and it doesn't even take place now."

We tend to so frequently overlook the sensitivity, the fineness of what can take place here. When the government wants something rushed, well, they get it rushed, and when, for whatever reason, it wants it to sit on the back burner, this government can let an agenda, let a bill sit on the back burner for months and years. This government can not proclaim bills that it passes to get the spin of the day when it doesn't really want that legislative initiative. There's a reason why you have three readings to a bill. It's so that the process is controlled enough that it's a thoughtful process, and so that interests that are at odds with the goal of the legislation can be addressed and articulated.

I just find it incredibly sad that government membersâ€"well, I suppose the only thing they've demonstrated is that our petitions are bigger than theirs. We saw them fade promptly today in petition period. But it saddens me that there's almost this snottiness about, "How dare you not agree with our legislation? How dare you take a contrary view?" This isn't a one-party state, and let's hope it never becomes one. This forum is a forum of debate and, from time to time, consensus. That's why you're called the government and this is called the opposition. It's not necessarily a forum of unity, and there's nothing wrong with that. That's the very best of things. New Democrats know that there are only 10 of us. We know that we're unlikely to persuade government members to move away from the whipped position of the Premier's office. We'd like to hope that, from time to time, it would happen. But surely, government members have as much interest in ensuring that there's a thorough canvassing of the issues and facets of a matter before it gets passed. Surely, government members have that same interest as do opposition members.

We've got Brian Brown, the president of OCUFA, here today. I tell this governmentâ€"and look, Peter Shurman, before the Christmas breakâ€"for those who advocated back-to-work legislation, Peter Shurman was saying, "Call back-to-work legislation." We disagreed. Government knew that we weren't going to roll over on this. How could you possibly have thought otherwise? And then to play the game, the cynical, political, partisan game of spinning New Democrats blocking the billâ€"my foot. Your House leader will tell you full well that there are procedural tactics that are provided to be obstructive. We could have been obstructive. We made it clear from the outset. We were insistent that the matter of this important legislation, with such a significant impact on collective bargaining rights of workers, should be subjected to due processâ€"a modest due process.

We've also mentioned that, in view of how York University has mishandled this whole matter, the legislation should have been back-to-the-table legislation, forcing York U management to get back to the bargaining table, and that the Premier, Mr. McGuinty, should have been on the phone in a very, very forceful way, telling the president of York University to get his butt into that bargaining room and don't even think of leaving it until he has hammered out a deal.

1550

Paul Miller the other dayâ€"an experienced industrial trade unionistâ€"talked about how, quite frankly, sweaty and foul-mouthed and tiresome these 24-hour bargaining sessions can be. I don't know if any of you have seen the documentary about Buzz Hargrove and de Havilland. It's shown in any number of classrooms to demonstrate the behind the scenes of hard, down and dirty, tough, meanâ€"mind you, very, very testosteronicâ€"bargaining. Buzz's mother would wince. I'm sure he turns the volume down if and when she ever sees the film. But it was a wonderful example of deal-making, of being committed to resolving an issue and working at it until it was resolved. Look, I'm a fan of Buzz's negotiating skills, but when there is an out, when there is the clear messaging about an escape clauseâ€"the back-to-work legislationâ€"York University has no compulsion to go back to the table.

What I find remarkable is that the union recommitted to bargaining and York U management persisted in its pursuit of a third party imposed settlement. That, I say to you, all of you, does not bode well for York's future or for the future of other post-secondary facilitiesâ€"colleges and universitiesâ€"in this province.

I close by noting thisâ€"and perhaps it's the tactic. High-priced help sit in the backrooms of government officesâ€"the spinsters and the analysts and the pollstersâ€"and they figure out angles. They say, "How can we wedge this or wedge that?" Am I being oh, so cynical when I think that the Premier was utilizing this exercise to deflect focus away from the gross underfunding of post-secondary education in this province, somehow blaming the parties? Oh, and then wanting to be like Pontius Pilate, andâ€"I'm really mixing the metaphors now; a pox on both their housesâ€"washing his hands of it and saying, "Well, it doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong, just stop fighting, kids." It doesn't matter who's right or who's wrong; what matters is how you achieve effective resolutions to conflict and dispute. That's what the Premier has not shown any interest in.

What's wrong is when the Premier uses these observations on his part to move attention away from the chronic underfunding of post-secondary education in the province of Ontarioâ€"10 out of 10. Ten out of 10, not 9 out of 10, not 8 out of 10; 10 out of 10. Surely nobody in this chamber, visitors included, can have any pride in that whatsoever. Yet this back-to-work legislation and the prospect of more to come, or the threat of it for university and college workers in negotiations down the road, all but guarantees that we will be hard-pressed to move from that status of 10 out of 10 as long as Mr. McGuinty and the Liberals are at the helm.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Leeanna Pendergast): Further debate?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Well, interesting how silent the debate from the government and opposition side of the benches isâ€"from the government side, anyway, and the Tory side.

I've only got about eight minutes, and I know my colleague Cheri DiNovo wants to participate, but I want to make a couple of points. We talked about how the government, if they really wanted to get this negotiation settled, could have done so a long time ago. We know that the Premier, despite anything he might say in the Legislature and in the media, has a certain amount of say, because we as a province fund universities. If he had called the university and said, "Listen, we need you to get back to the table and find a settlement," York University probably would have said, "Well, Dalton, thank you for calling but put some money on the table," and then it would have been a decision on the part of the Premier to do so or not. I would suspect that's probably why he's not very eager to have that conversation with the York University president or the president of any other university.

For the government to argue that this is really pressingâ€""We need to do it because there's an impasse"â€"I think is really beyond the pale, because the union has been extremely clear that they have backed off on their demands; they have come close to a position where the employer should be able to accept what has been offered. What's happening here is the government is using the Legislature to do harm, quite frankly, to the collective bargaining process and to the workers.

I say this with experience, because I've negotiated on both sides of the table. I've negotiated as a trade unionist for the steelworkers in many collective agreements; I've also negotiated from the employer's side of the table. I understand it's all about give and take.

If an employer and a union are not able to come to an agreement and there is an imposed settlement on the part of the employer with back-to-work legislation, imagine what the atmosphere is going to be like at that university in the coming weeks, months and possibly the coming years. I think it's going to be very tough for the people who have been involved in this particular strike to go back to work and to feel as if they're valued by their employer, that their employer values the work they do.

I'm not saying there's going to be a work-to-ruleâ€"I don't know. But I do know that if I was an employee of a company that had treated me this way, when they called on me to go above and beyond, I don't think I'd be going beyond very much, because I would understand exactly where the employer is at. The employer is saying to me as an employee, "Listen, I don't think your requests are valid. I don't think what you put on the table merits discussion." I would feel hurt by that, and I think at the end of the day that would be a disservice to the university.

We know this is just the beginning of the road. This is the first unit to come up for negotiations. There are going to be others that come up.

I want to make the following point: If the government had put as much effort into finding a settlement as they did into putting back-to-work legislation through this Legislature, we would have found a resolution a long time ago. Just the amount of money that it took to run this Legislature for the four or five days that we've been here could have been diverted to the coffers of the university in order to find a settlementâ€"because we're not talking about a lot of money. The government says, "We're doing all that we can to get the people back to work so students can go back to school." Well, I argue that if you would have put as much effort into trying to find a solution to negotiations by sitting down and having a discussion or a phone call with the university president, I'm sure the university could have found a way back to the table and we could have got ourselves an agreement. Instead, this government tries to do what is easy. They come in here and they introduce legislation to order people back to work, and I think that's wrong.

The second thing I want to say: Imagine you're a private sector employerâ€"I see my good friends across the way and on this side who have run businesses. I've run a small business. I see my friend across the way who has run a much larger business than I did. Imagine if you went to employers in Ontario and said, "Listen, we've got a law and it says, 'If you can't negotiate a collective agreement, you get to do back-to-work legislation on your own, as the employer.'" Which employer would ever go to the bargaining table and negotiate? Can you imagine Xstrata, can you imagine Ford, can you imagine any business in Ontario that is unionized that would have the right of this government to say, "Well, you know what? I don't need to negotiate with my employees"? Yes, they've got the right to organize; yes, they're able to sign themselves into a union by signing a card and having a certification vote; and yes, they can get to the bargaining table, but at the end of the day the employer could say, "I've got a special law that says, 'I'm ordering you back to work'"â€"because that's what the employer is doing in this case. The employer is the province of Ontario. The argument that the government makes is, "Oh, the university is an independent, arm's-length agency. We've got nothing to say about them." Who cuts the cheque? That's the litmus test. It's the province of Ontario; it's the taxpayers, through this government, who fund our universities. In this case, they are the employer.

What you've got is the employer who's saying, "I don't want to pay the demands on the bargaining table, therefore I'm going to use the power that I've got by using the Legislature to order people back to work against their will."

Thank God 10 New Democrats are here, solid and strong, who have at least had an opportunity to use their democratic right to point out how wrong this is and why it shouldn't be done, and that we've exercised the responsibility to the degree that is reasonable in this particular situation.

1600

Can you imagine what would happen in Ontario if an employer like Xstrata, Tembec, Ford or any of these employers were to have this right? You would have labour strife in this provinceâ€"and the Minister of Labour across the way knows as well as I doâ€"like you've never seen before. Because the unions and the workers would be saying, "This is nuts. The employer can order me back to work. There's no sense negotiating. Let's just withhold our services or work to rule," or God knows what would happen. I would say that any fair-minded individual, be it a pro-union or an anti-union person, would say that's not right. We need to respect that in democracies there are checks and balances, and one of the systems that allows people to exercise their democratic rights as workers is the process of collective bargaining. So I say to the government across the way, shame on you for putting as much effort as you can in bringing back-to-work legislation into this House, taking away the rights of workers to free and collective bargaining, and then say, "That was what we needed to do."

It was a really telling sign a little earlier where one of the government members was repeating the words of Mike Harris. I thought, "My God." I sat through those eight years of Mike Harris here in the House, and I remember how he trampled over the rights of workers. I remember Liberals sitting in opposition with us being apoplectic about how workers in this province were being treated, specifically public sector workers. They said, "If we go to the other side of the House, we're going to be different." I see through the actions of this Liberal McGuinty government. You guys might have campaigned like New Democrats but, my friends, at the end of the day all you are is a bunch of Tories. I say to you, shame on you for trampling on the rights of workers. Shame on you for using this Legislature this way; it's a misuse of power and the trust that you asked for at the last election and the previous election. In the end you have done disservice, I believe, to democracy. I believe that the workers here involved, and not only the workers but those who are interested, will remember what you have done. When the next occasion arises, another public sector strike and a set of negotiationsâ€"and we're going to see it again in other universitiesâ€"this will be remembered. This will not be a shining moment in labour history in the province of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Leeanna Pendergast): Further debate?

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It certainly is an extremely sad day in this House. To pick up on the comments of the member from Timminsâ€"James Bay, I remember looking at this government channel when the Liberals were in opposition to the Tories and objected to closure motions. Now, of course, they're governing just like Mike Harris Conservatives and invoking closure and shutting down debate.

It's a very sad day when the tyranny of the majority runs like a steam shovel over the rights of minorities. I have to remind the House that it's always only a small group of people, historically, that stands up for the rights of minorities against the tyranny of majorities. Our job as opposition in this House, our duty, our requirement for being opposition in this House is to stand up against the tyranny of a majority government: That's our job. So when we get e-mails that cry out that we're blocking a legislation, we say this is simply nonsense. What we are doing is not blocking legislation; we're upholding democracy. That's what we're doing. We're upholding the legislative process. We are doing what we are required to do by duty for our constituents and for the rights of minorities, in this case the right of a minority, against the majority.

I used to be, before I was elected, a United Church minister. I'm still a United Church minister. I actually came into this place with some ideals intact. I actually thought that this place was about principles and ethics. I thought that everyone here was elected for a purpose, and that the purpose was to defend the rights of minorities, the rights of the marginalized, the rights of those who could not defend themselves, who would never be elected, who would never have a voice in this place. I thought that's what we were here for. We could debate what that looked like, we could debate what those rights should be, but that's why we're here.

I discovered very quickly in the political process that what many of us are here for is simply to get re-elected, that what many of us are here for in this House is not to stand on principle or for ethical causes but simplyâ€"dependent on what the polls sayâ€"to stand, as a sort of popularity contest, for whatever the majority wants at any given time. That's not leadership, my friends. That's not your role as those in elected capacities. That is not what this Legislature was designed for. It's not a game. It is not a popularity contest.

Quite frankly, history always shows that when the press and the majority are arrayed against the rights of the minority, they may not win then, but they will win eventually. So we may be 10 now, but we will not always be 10. And CUPE may stand alone nowâ€"it must feel like that some days, out in the coldâ€"but trust me, it's not going to always be that way. Basically, what they stand for and what we stand for in minority will one day be the historical record, will one day be history's judgment upon the tyranny of the majority. That's what we're doing here.

People have said that we're against the rights of students to go back to school and get an education. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Boy, do we live in Orwellian reality in this place; nothing could be farther from the truth. We actually stand with the studentsâ€"the students who are striking; the students who want to return to classesâ€"against an employer, a management, at York University that doesn't want to bargain, that doesn't want to see students back in the classroom, that simply wants to keep the status quo.

We stand for degrees that mean something, that have some value, so that when you get a master's or a Ph.D., it actually means something. It means you have attained something. You should be able to get benefits, security, a job in academia that actually pays a reasonable salary. We stand for a valued degree in a valued university. Clearly, the management at York University only stands for self-interest. Clearly, our friends in this House who side with themâ€"not on the side of the students. Come on. The Tories standing up for education? Give me a break. Do we have no history? Do we not know, even 10 years back, what went on in this province when Mike Harris was Premier and took a meat axe to education in this province? Come on. And when the Liberals act like Tories, do we not hear again the sounds of Harris echoing in this chamber? Absolutely.

We stand with the students. That's what we're doing. We've been declared to be 1970s ideologuesâ€"I love thatâ€"as if we're in a post-ideological age. I love that too. We stand for ethics. We do not live in a post-ethical age, I hope, and that's exactly what's going on in this chamber. We stand for ideology, absolutely; for principled ideology, things like this: that there is a right to collective bargaining. Yes, we stand for that ideology. What else do we stand for? Yes, we stand for democracy in the Legislature, that we have a right to debate every bill. We stand for that. We stand for students and the right to have a valuable education that they can afford. Yes, that's an ideological stance that we in the New Democratic Party stand for.

What else do we stand for? We stand for principles of fairness and justiceâ€"

Interjection.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: The Constitution; thank you. We stand for the Constitution, the charter, which says that workers have a right to organize. That's what we stand for. We stand for all of that ideology. That's what we stand for.

Do we really think that any of the rights and privileges that we experience in this province came without a minority standing against a tyranny of the majority to defend them? My friends, read your history books. You don't even have to go back that farâ€"10 years, 15 years. Read your history books, and then see yourselvesâ€"and I appeal to those across the aisle: You don't have to vote along with Dalton McGuinty. You can vote from principle, from a basis of ethics, from a basis of work, from a basis of principles, ethics and Charter rights and ideology that says, yes, everyone is equal; everyone has a chance to a reasonable life. Absolutely.

Here's to ideology, here's to the students, here's to the NDP and here's to democratic process.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Can I go again?

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): I don't think so. Further debate?

Ms. Smith has moved government notice of motion 111. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 10-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1611 to 1621.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): All those in favour, please stand one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

Aggelonitis, Sophia

Albanese, Laura

Bailey, Robert

Balkissoon, Bas

Bartolucci, Rick

Bentley, Christopher

Brownell, Jim

Bryant, Michael

Caplan, David

Chan, Michael

Colle, Mike

Craitor, Kim

Dhillon, Vic

Dickson, Joe

Dombrowsky, Leona

Fonseca, Peter

Hardeman, Ernie

Hoy, Pat

Jaczek, Helena

Kwinter, Monte

Mangat, Amrit

Matthews, Deborah

Mauro, Bill

Meilleur, Madeleine

Miller, Norm

Milloy, John

Mitchell, Carol

Moridi, Reza

Pendergast, Leeanna

Phillips, Gerry

Qaadri, Shafiq

Ramal, Khalil

Rinaldi, Lou

Runciman, Robert W.

Ruprecht, Tony

Sandals, Liz

Shurman, Peter

Smith, Monique

Sousa, Charles

Van Bommel, Maria

Wynne, Kathleen O.

Zimmer, David

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): All those opposed, please stand one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

Bisson, Gilles

DiNovo, Cheri

Gélinas, France

Hampton, Howard

Horwath, Andrea

Kormos, Peter

Prue, Michael

Tabuns, Peter

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 42; the nays are 8.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): I declare the motion carried.

Motion agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Orders of the day.

ORDER OF BUSINESS

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I believe we have unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice in regard to the House schedule.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Do we have consent? Agreed.

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that the House convene at 10:15 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. on Thursday, January 29, 2009, for the purpose of considering government business, following which the House will proceed to oral questions.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Orders of the day.

Hon. Monique M. Smith: There being no further business, I moveâ€"

Mr. Peter Kormos: Liberals don't want to work.

Hon. Monique M. Smith: With the help of my colleague, I move adjournment of the House.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

This House is adjourned until 10:15 a.m., Thursday, January 29.

The House adjourned at 1624.