LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L'ONTARIO

Thursday 8 October 2009 Jeudi 8 octobre 2009

ORDERS OF THE DAY

INTERPROVINCIAL POLICING
ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009
SUR LES SERVICES POLICIERS
INTERPROVINCIAUX

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

LEGISLATIVE PAGES

ORAL QUESTIONS

PREMIER'S RECORD

MINISTER'S RECORD

CANCER CARE ONTARIO

CANCER CARE ONTARIO

MINISTER'S RECORD

ELECTRONIC HEALTH INFORMATION

TAXATION

AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT

LOW-INCOME ONTARIANS

FAIR ACCESS TO PROFESSIONS

MINISTER'S RECORD

PATIENT TRANSFERS

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

HOG INDUSTRY

DRIVER EXAMINATION CENTRES

PUBLIC TRANSIT

VISITORS

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

CHILD DEVELOPMENT
RESOURCE CONNECTION PEEL

HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION

JEAN COCHRANE

BLACK CREEK PIONEER VILLAGE

CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETIES

FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

DIWALI

INSURANCE INDUSTRY

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
GENERAL GOVERNMENT

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
JUSTICE POLICY

MOTIONS

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS

GOOD GOVERNANCE WEEK

PETITIONS

PENSION PLANS

DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES

FERTILITY TREATMENT

TAXATION

SERVICES DIAGNOSTIQUES

PROTECTION FOR MINERS

TAXATION

HOSPITAL SERVICES

PRIVATE MEMBERS'
PUBLIC BUSINESS

LABOUR RELATIONS
AMENDMENT ACT
(REPLACEMENT WORKERS), 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 MODIFIANT LA LOI
SUR LES RELATIONS DE TRAVAIL
(TRAVAILLEURS SUPPLÉANTS)

FINANCIAL LITERACY

FOREST INDUSTRY

LABOUR RELATIONS
AMENDMENT ACT
(REPLACEMENT WORKERS), 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 MODIFIANT LA LOI
SUR LES RELATIONS DE TRAVAIL
(TRAVAILLEURS SUPPLÉANTS)

FINANCIAL LITERACY

FOREST INDUSTRY

LABOUR RELATIONS
AMENDMENT ACT
(REPLACEMENT WORKERS), 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 MODIFIANT LA LOI
SUR LES RELATIONS DE TRAVAIL
(TRAVAILLEURS SUPPLÉANTS)


   

The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Good morning. Please remain standing for the Lord's Prayer, followed by a moment of silence for personal thought and inner reflection.

Prayers.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

INTERPROVINCIAL POLICING
ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009
SUR LES SERVICES POLICIERS
INTERPROVINCIAUX

Resuming the debate adjourned on October 7, 2009, on the motion for second reading of Bill 203, An Act to allow for better cross-border policing co-operation with other Canadian provinces and territories and to make consequential amendments to the Police Services Act / Projet de loi 203, Loi visant à permettre une meilleure coopération avec les autres provinces et les territoires du Canada en ce qui concerne les services policiers transfrontaliers et à apporter des modifications corrélatives à la Loi sur les services policiers.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Further debate? The member for Eglintonâ€"Lawrence.

Mr. Mike Colle: By default? Okay.

Good morning, Mr. Speaker and members of the House. We had a very interesting debate on this bill yesterday, and there was some good interchange. It was very informative, as members from all three parties spoke about Bill 203. I think we all learned something from the presentations by the member from Durham, the member from Brant and the member from Torontoâ€"Danforth.

Sometimes in this House, we forget that in a very quick hour or two you can get a great deal of information about an area that may not be your area of expertise. It is at times refreshing to listen to some very productive debate. I think yesterday afternoon had a very productive tone to it, and I was glad to be here. I can't say that all the time, but yesterday afternoon was extremely informative.

Bill 203, I'll explain to those who haven't been here before and people watching, is, An Act to allow for better cross-border policing co-operation with other Canadian provinces and territories and to make consequential amendments to the Police Services Act. It's legislation that is being replicated in other provinces. Certainly Quebec, the largest province right next door to us, has introduced similar legislation.

It's going to essentially facilitate the work of our police services, which right now face a lot of obstacles that are sometimes very bureaucratic. It was mentioned yesterday by the member from Brant that criminals and organized crime certainly never recognize any kind of boundaries, especially interprovincial boundaries, yet our police forces do, and sometimes they're really hamstrung by all the bureaucracy that restricts our police forces.

I guess the best illustration of how complicated or how obtuse this can get is a very peculiar situation near Hawkesbury that the member from Glengarryâ€"Prescottâ€"Russell talked about in his riding. Hawkesbury is just at the Quebec-Ontario border. One time when I was there, he showed me this house whose living room and kitchen are in Ontario and the bedroom is in Quebec. It would be quite impossible for a police officer from either province to engage in any kind of arrest of a fugitive in that house. In other words, if the fugitive saw police officers coming from Ontario, he would go from the Ontario kitchen into the Quebec bedroom and couldn't be touched and, vice versa, if Quebec police officers came into the Quebec bedroom, they could not pursue that criminal into the Ontario kitchen.

In fact, that's where the famous headstone is laid of one of our great explorers, Mackenzie, who came out of Quebec and mapped that area. I know they had a special ceremony putting in the headstone at the Quebec-Ontario border. Mackenzie went out west and discovered the Mackenzie River and the Mackenzie River valley. It was incredible. I'm just looking at the pages here. If you ever want to study a great Canadian, he was a great Scotsman and helped keep British Columbia within Canada. Sad to say, he died penniless in Montreal after essentially being one of Canada's greatest explorers. Anyway, that's where he started his explorations and mapping. He was a phenomenal mapper. He mapped the Quebec-Ontario border.

In terms of the background of this bill, right now, police face obstacles when they are unable to retain their authority across provincial borders, and the bill proposes to address that. The bill proposes to make it easier for police to investigate crimes that occur across other Canadian jurisdictions, providing greater accountability and oversight for police officers from other jurisdictions alsoâ€"so it gives formalized oversight when officers come into different provincesâ€"and it creates a streamlined and efficient system for police to continue investigations outside their home province.

The legislation also provides for the minister to designate officers to grant police powers to other provinces' police officers when circumstances require that they conduct police business in Ontario. Again, the ministry officials have worked with their counterparts in Quebec, and last month they signed an agreement with them in this respect. As I said, Quebec is introducing similar legislation. Police in Ontario already work across jurisdictional lines in the fight against crime. This legislation seeks to allow police to work across borders in a more streamlined fashion.

The work this bill would allow would be for a term of three years. As you know, some police investigations take a great deal of time and are very complex. So if a police officer from Ontario has to undertake a continued investigation in Quebec, this will allow the Ontario police officer, with the approval of authorities in Quebec, to work in Quebec on a case for up to three years, and that could be extended. But again, it would be formalized with the police service on the Quebec side and vice versa.

Just to let you know, extra-provincial police officers currently operating in Ontarioâ€"extra-provincial meaning police officers from other provinces operating in Ontarioâ€"must be appointed as special constables by a municipal police services board with the approval of the minister. Special constables are not automatically granted the same powers held by Ontario police officers.

0910

The process that exists right now is not really effective, nor does it address oversight, discipline and indemnification for civil liability. In other words, if something happens that the police officer, in the line of duty, ends up in a lawsuit, they're not protected. According to our police forces across Ontario and across the country, the present situation as it exists really does not work to the benefit of carrying out efficient police services. They've asked for this legislation. They've been asking for it, I think, forâ€"the member from Brant is certainly correctâ€"the last 10 years at least, that I can recall.

The Interprovincial Policing Act, 2009, here is intended to create a streamlined and simple process for an extra-provincial police officer to obtain police officer status and obtain powers in our province. Ontario and Quebec have been working together for a number of years to develop reciprocal cross-border policing legislation, and I'm sure the same thing will apply for Manitoba later on and, you know, our neighbouring provinces. Police stakeholders such as the Police Association of Ontario, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ontario Provincial Police Association support this initiative because it provides a mechanism for their members to deal with the increasing incidence of interprovincial crime and enhances coordinating investigations. So it's about coordination, and it's about streamlining. It's about being more effective in the pursuit of, again, criminal activity, which readily crosses boundaries.

The interesting thing there is that you could find a case where perhaps the person is apprehended in Alberta or in Manitoba by the police in that province, and that individual may have had all kinds of charges laid against him in another provinceâ€"let's say in Ontario. In many cases, that police officer is never even made aware of the outstanding warrants that person has in another province. So many fugitives, or people who have been alleged to have committed crimes, will go to another province and carry on their activities, because they know there isn't enough co-operation between provinces, that there are jurisdictional walls that are very difficult for police officers right now to overcome.

That is not conducive to good law and order, because of the knowledge of the criminal element in society; they know that if they commit multiple frauds in one province, it might be very difficult for the police to apprehend them when they go to the neighbouring province. This is not conducive to controlling criminal activity, and these are the types of things that are not directly within the purview of this bill, but are some of the obstacles that police associations and the association of police chiefs want to get rid of.

So Bill 203, this bill that's before us, would provide a mechanism whereby Ontario can grant police officer status. They would get official status, and they can perform their duties right here in Ontario. There would be oversight, so they wouldn't be just freelancing. There would be a direct connection with the services here.

It's also a law that is in effect, in fact, in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Notice here that Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland are not included in this, and I hope that they would be too. You can imagine the difficulty the police forces have in the Maritimes, where you've got agreements between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, yet Newfoundland and PEI don't give this support to police services and police officers who have to go from province to province. Certainly you know how easy it is to get from New Brunswick to PEI, or Nova Scotia to PEI, yet they can't really have that kind of protection.

"An appointee"â€"which is a police officerâ€""is required to notify the local police force or Ontario Provincial Police detachment before he or she performs any police duties." The local police officers, police force or police services would know that this officer is engaged in his or her work in an Ontario jurisdiction. It would be known to them, which is important.

"An appointing official may terminate an appointment if the appointee fails to comply with the act, the Police Services Act...." Therefore, there are restrictions and there are oversights on this police officer from another jurisdiction. The police officer is certainly under supervision. But the appointee has all the rights and protections of a police officer in Ontario for the duration of the contract. That is very important to the police officer in this extra-provincial jurisdictionâ€"that they have their rights and protections.

There's also a complaint process if a police officer is engaging in activities that go beyond their scope. They're also subject to discipline where he or she is employed. An Ontario police officer who is appointed in another province or territory is required to co-operate with any investigation, inquest or hearing in that province or territory. As you know, that is very germane, given the recent British Columbia inquiry into the tasering incident at the Vancouver airport, where, as you know, they don't have a provincial police force, they have a federal force; the RCMP does the work of our OPP .

At that inquiry, ironically enough, the federal government is arguing that the inquiry has no jurisdiction over the RCMP officers who are being questioned and who are the subject of the inquiry of the tasering that resulted in the unfortunate death of a Polish immigrant. The federal government, and I think the defence counsel for the RCMP, is saying that the provincial inquiry has no jurisdiction over the RCMP officers and their actions, which is quite difficult for us here in Ontario to understand. In fact, some members of the legal community and some members of the BC Legislature are saying that maybe it's time for British Columbia to look at having a provincial police force, because in essence, it's a question of whether or not the RCMP is answerable to the provincial Legislature and the laws of the province of British Columbia.

This is a very contentious issue in British Columbia right now, because they don't have a provincial police force. And that's why in this legislation here, there is a very interesting proviso in it that, "An Ontario police officer appointed in another province or a territory is required to co-operate with any investigation, inquest or hearing in that province."

"The complaints and discipline provisions of the Police Services Act continue to apply to an Ontario police officer who is appointed as a police officer in another province or a territory." The same rules apply to their conduct as would apply if he or she was doing work in an Ontario jurisdiction. There are oversights. There are very strict protocols in place by this legislation. It is legislation that, again, facilitates modern-day policing and essentially gets rid of the bureaucratic hurdles that exist right now.

0920

We have enough problems with jurisdictional disputes between police officers in Ontario and the United States, for instance. I know that the member from Chathamâ€"Kent has been trying for years to get action on Americans who race through his riding every day at high speeds. If I recall correctly, police officers in Chathamâ€"Kent can ticket them but can't collect the fine, so Americans coming across the borderâ€"not all Americans; Chathamâ€"Kent, you know, is a wide-open jurisdiction with the 401 going through it, and they feel they can break the laws of Ontario because the tickets that are issued to them by the Ontario Provincial Police are not going to be collected. The odd thing is that I know the opposite occurs when we go to the United States. They make sure they collect money from you right on the spot. I think you have to give your credit card. It's almost impossible for a Canadian to avoid any tickets that come from the United States.

This bill does not deal with the international enforcement of police activities across foreign borders, but it facilitates the work and enforcement of our police forces within Canada. I think it's a bill that is helpful. It has been called for by our police services. It certainly makes their work a little less bureaucratic and, I think, more effective. I think it will help protect Ontarians and also send a signal to marginalized nefarious people across the country that they can't hide behind the bureaucracy of interprovincial boundaries to avoid incarceration, just because of the bureaucracy.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Questions and comments?

Mr. Norm Miller: It's my pleasure to add some comments to the speech by the member from Eglintonâ€"Lawrence. I suspect he wasn't really planning on giving a speech; I think we were expecting the third party to be doing their lead on this bill this morning.

I think the bill, in theory, looks like it makes a lot of sense. It's about allowing police forces to follow their cases across provincial and territorial borders. As was pointed out, there are many complex investigations, and criminals don't necessarily respect provincial or territorial borders, so it seems to me to make some sense. I expect that we will be supporting the bill, and I may get an opportunity to add some more comments on this bill in a few minutes.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further questions and comments?

Mr. Howard Hampton: I actually have a question that I want to raise. One of the difficult issues in policing is that of holding police services responsible. We often hear the complaint that police should not be investigating police. This act, at least on the face of it, would seem to provide for the eventuality that police officers from another jurisdiction could come to Ontario and possibly conduct investigations of police services or police officers in Ontario. So I want to ask the government if they are prepared to state at this time if it is one of the intentions of this legislation that it would facilitate situations where police officers come from Quebec, from Manitoba, from British Columbiaâ€"presumably they may not be as well-known here as they are in the province they originate fromâ€"and those officers might, from time to time, be charged with investigating police officers in Ontario or, indeed, possibly individual police services in Ontario.

I think this is an important issue to get at, so I'm asking if that is, in fact, one of the intentions of the government in putting forward this legislation. I'd be very pleased if we could hear from the government on this issue; otherwise, this will be one of the issues, of course, that would have to be raised at committee.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further questions and comments?

Mr. Dave Levac: First, let me assure the member from Kenoraâ€"Rainy River that I'll get to him in a second, but I'd like to compliment the member from Eglintonâ€"Lawrence for his overview of the bill. He covered off most of the key points as to why we've gotten here.

Getting back to the member from Kenoraâ€"Rainy River, inside of the legislation, what we're attempting to doâ€"there isn't an attempt to specifically talk about oversight. The idea of the bill was originally created in 2003 by the law enforcement organization that came to us back in 2003 and had previously looked at the cross-border issue. Specifically, it was to try to get in front of or at least keep up with the criminal element that's going across the border.

The analysis of the bill required us to deal with what you're talking about. Police officers who are given police constable status in Ontario will be subject to the very same rules and regulations that apply in Ontario, meaning that oversight, liabilities and all of the rules and regulations that exist in Ontario would be applied, which means SIU investigations as well. So if any activities involving a police officer result in the injury of any civilian or any person in Ontario, they would be evaluated and investigated. The SIU would still be part and parcel of the investigation.

Any rule and regulation that exists within Ontario is applied to those constables entering, with the understanding of the area which he's coming from. In terms of a reciprocal agreement, for example, Quebec and Ontario have signed off on a similar agreement. That means that anyone leaving Ontario to perform duties in Quebec would be subject to the same rules and regulations.

I hope that starts to answer that, but we will go to committee and we will go further in depth on that.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further questions and comments?

Mr. Jean-Marc Lalonde: I have to say that I fully support the issue that was brought to our attention by the member for Eglintonâ€"Lawrence. Let me tell you, bordering the province of Quebec, we do experience negative effects because of the fact that we don't have the right to pursue or complete our investigations. First of all, it's costing the Ontario Provincial Police a lot of additional money when they have to pursue their investigation and they are not able to go to the Quebec side.

But at this point, I would like to congratulate the Premier. Really, he's the first one who sat down with all the Premiers of this beautiful country and discussed those border issues. This is a very, very important one. They refer to Chute-à-Blondeau, where you pursue an investigation, you get to the house and you speak to the peopleâ€"you're in Ontario, but the person just has to go to his bedroom and we cannot do anything because the house is built right on the border and half the house is in Quebec and the other half is on the Ontario side.

Also, this bill would have a positive effect for not only Ontario and Quebec but also the other provinces surrounding Ontario. So it is a bill that all parties should support for the benefit of all our police forces in Ontario.

0930

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): The honourable member for Eglintonâ€"Lawrence has up to two minutes for his response.

Mr. Mike Colle: The member from Kenoraâ€"Rainy River raised a good question there, and I think the parliamentary assistant from Brant mentioned that those issues will be looked at and there will be committee hearings for more input. I thank the member from Parry Soundâ€"Muskoka for his input and also the member from Glengarryâ€"Prescottâ€"Russell, who again, I think, most pragmatically illustrates the complexities of interprovincial policing, especially if you live on the Quebec border.

I can remember one of the funniest things that was ever reported in the Ottawa newspapers back in the 1970s was that there was a driver who was apprehended in Ontario for speeding, and the individual was found to have a Quebec plate in the front and an Ontario plate in the back of the car. It was quite hilarious. I can't remember all the details, but it was a convoluted way of trying to avoid the speeding charge because of the licensing of the vehicle. It seemed that the owner and operator of the vehicle would argue on both sides of the Ottawa-Gatineau border that he was licensed in the other province and could avoid the speeding charge. You can imagine that happening on a regular basis with police officers who are seeing people engaged in nefarious activities going back and forth across the borders of Quebec and Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Norm Miller: I'm pleased to have the unexpected opportunity to speak to Bill 203 this morning, which is An Act to allow for better cross-border policing co-operation with other Canadian provinces and territories and to make consequential amendments to the Police Services Act. As the member from Eglintonâ€"Lawrence pointed out in his speech, criminals don't necessarily respect provincial borders or territorial borders, so this bill is about assisting police officers in their work.

Many of the cases that police officers are investigating are quite complex and go on for many years. It might be a fraud investigation, it might be drug cases, it could be white-collar crimeâ€"and we're reading more and more in the news these days about Ponzi schemes going on. This bill would allow, for example, an Ontario Provincial Police officer to be appointed in one of the other provinces or one of the other territories for up to three years so that they could follow their case where the case leads them. I think that makes sense, so I would expect that we will be supporting this legislation.

The bill establishes a system for temporarily appointing police officers from other Canadian provinces and territories, except the Royal Canadian Mounted Police officersâ€"and I suspect that's because they're federal, so a higher level of jurisdiction, although that creates some big gaps across the countryâ€"as police officers in Ontario. It also recognizes the possibility that Ontario police officers may be temporarily appointed as police officers in other Canadian provinces and territories under similar legislation. That's essentially what it does. The police associations support this and I think it just makes sense.

Parts II and III of the bill deal with the appointments. Part II of the bill sets out the standard procedure for appointing a police officer from another Canadian jurisdiction: "Under this part, a request may be made by a commanding officer or other head of a police force in another Canadian jurisdiction ... that a police officer under his or her command be appointed as an Ontario police officer." The process for doing that is, "Before deciding to make the appointment, the appointing official is required to consult with any Ontario police force that will be primarily affected by the appointment and may consult with any other police force that will or might be affected. The appointment can be for a maximum of three years and an extra-provincial police officer may be reappointed in Ontario" for an additional three years. So you could have an actual six-year period where that police officer is appointed as an extra-provincial police officer.

"Part III of the bill sets out the procedure for appointing an extra-provincial police officer.... If the extra-provincial police officer's proposed operation or investigation in Ontario would be compromised by the delay of applying under the standard procedure, the request for appointment may be made to the commander of an Ontario police force or of an Ontario Provincial Police detachment ... who may appoint an extra-provincial police officer as an Ontario police officer for a maximum of 72 hours." This is where we're getting into a case where it's quite urgent, and if you went through the standard procedure there might be delay which would affect the investigation of the police officer.

I would just relate this to some of the current goings-on in the province right now, where we've seen situations where there's been urgency placed on endeavours of the government, and it's really backfired and created a lot of waste. We just need to look at the case of eHealth, the Ontario electronic health records, where the Premier personally appointed Alan Hudson, the chair of eHealth, who personally appointed Sarah Kramer, the CEO of eHealth, whoâ€"

Mr. Mike Colle: What's that got to do with the bill?

Mr. Norm Miller: It's dealing with the section to do with haste and urgency and the special requirements in this bill. I'm pointing out how, in the current actions of the government, when they've tried to have a sense of urgency, it's really backfired. In the case of eHealth, let's say, the Premier appointed Alan Hudson, who personally appointed Sarah Kramer. As we saw from the Auditor General's report yesterday, there was a real sense of urgency impressed on them, and they basically got into all kinds of consultant deals. We've seen a billion dollars wasted with very little to show for it because of that sense of urgency that came directly from the top, from the Premier to the chair of eHealth and to the CEO of eHealth. Then the board didn't feel like they needed to do their job, and, as a result, we had consultants hiring consultants and unbelievable waste, as documented yesterday in theâ€"

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Order. I just would remind the honourable member to try and keep your comments within the context of this legislation, please.

Mr. Norm Miller: As I say, I was relating that to the section in this bill, the urgency section, where a police officer can go do this faster process and be appointed for only 72 hours, and pointing out the pitfalls if you rush and don't follow the normal procedures.

Also there is a section here, part V of the bill, that deals with oversight. Again, we've seen a lot of lack of oversight. There was the problem again at eHealth, at OLG and now at Cancer Care Ontario, we hear, so obviously oversight is really important. There's another section of the bill dealing with indemnification and then general provisions as well.

I would certainly like to note that in the riding of Parry Soundâ€"Muskoka, we have Ontario Provincial Police who, I think, cover all the districts of Parry Soundâ€"Muskoka, and they are doing a fine job. They're a very professional police force. Of course, this year is the 100th anniversary of the Ontario Provincial Police in the province, and I had an opportunity to attend a few different functions celebrating those 100 years. I note that when I was up at the International Plowing Match in Earlton, there was a display in the parade there put on by the Ontario Provincial Police celebrating their 100 years of service to the province of Ontario.

But getting back to the specifics of this bill, it's dealing with cross-jurisdiction policing, appointing extra-provincial police officers. One of the questions I would have is, why does it not deal with the United States? Obviously that's a very significant border for our country and for our province, and I would suggest that in terms of crime, in terms of guns coming into the provinceâ€"for example, illegal handguns come from the States more than any other place. It would seem to me there's a lot of crime that crosses that border as well, so I wonder, to the government, why this bill doesn't also deal with some sort of arrangement with the United States and the states that border the province of Ontario so that our police officers could also follow the crime across the American border. Maybe someone in the government can respond to that when they get an opportunity.

0940

I know the member from Eglintonâ€"Lawrence has had various handgun-related private member's bills. I would simply argue that in my personal opinion, those are more about politics. In Ontario and Canada we have very strict handgun rules. You have to go to courses. In my opinion, a huge majority of the people who are licensed to operate a handgun are probably the safest people around. They have to have a permit to take them to the place where they're allowed to shoot them, usually at a range or a club, and they're very responsible people.

The problem we have is all these illegal handguns that are coming in from the United States. So I wonder why this bill doesn't also deal with the situation of cross-border arrangements for police officers into the United States.

With that, I think the bill is fairly straightforward. I think it will be important that it goes to committee because there are other aspectsâ€"in this short time I have had to speak to itâ€"that need to have the input of professsionals and those stakeholders who might be affected by it. Give them a chance to look at the bill. So I think it will be important that it goes to committee, but I think that our party will be supporting this bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Questions and comments?

Mr. Howard Hampton: I listened with interest to my colleague from the Conservative Party, and I think a couple of points he made deserve some elaboration so I want to just reference them again.

When the minister announced this legislation, he said it was going to result in seamless policing. As I read the bill, that statement is quite a lot of hyperbole. This is not going to result in seamless policing. For example, I note that Quebec does not have legislation at this time permitting what is described here. I would think that one of our biggest cross-border policing issues would be with the province of Quebec. I think particularly of the issues of smuggling cigarettes, car theftâ€"because we have a number of car theft ringsâ€"and other issues along those lines.

I would also think that one of our biggest issues, as my colleague from the Conservative Party acknowledged, would be the issue of cross-border policing with respect to the United States. We have a number of issues with the American states. One of the biggest issues is, of course, the smuggling of handguns across the border. One of the other issues is the whole drug trade across the border.

When the minister responsible for the government describes this bill as seamless policing, I don't see any provisions in this bill that would address those issues. So I wonder if my Conservative colleague would agree with me that there has been a bit of hyperbole on the part of the government in trying to describe this bill as resulting in seamless policing.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further questions and comments?

Mr. Dave Levac: Forgive our enthusiasm for trying to improve the system.

Quite frankly, what we need to talk about specifically, to the request, was on the two issues that were debated yesterday. My responses were, I thought, genuine and an attempt to try to explain why certain sections were there or weren't there.

The RCMP is the national level. They already have jurisdiction in Ontario, and contrary to what some people might want to try to pinpoint, they do co-operate with the types of crime that we're talking about and they have started to share information that at one time was not shared. The "seamless" comment we're trying to talk about is to improve the circumstances by which the criminal does not get the edge.

The discussion is not based on whether or not any regulatory stream is designed to infringe on anyone's civil liberties; it's to help us fight the bad guy. The bad guy relies on us not to make it as seamless as possible to cross the border. The very issue that the member from Kenoraâ€"Rainy River brought up was in terms of where people use the trafficking circumstances inside our own nation.

And now we're talking about the other reason why it's difficult, which is that there is ongoing dialogue and discussion about contraband and travel of car parts and cars, international and national in scope. Those discussions are going on with officials in the United States. This bill is to deal with our nation's flow between provinces. Contrary to what the characterization is, there is an ongoing discussion, as a matter of fact a signed agreement with Quebec, in order for us to get to this point, and they will be introducing legislation very soon to complement the type of bill that Bill 203 is talking about.

So, yes, maybe the enthusiastic words of "seamless" can be challenged or questioned, but the enthusiasm is buoyed with the reality of making it a lot easier for our police officers to get the bad guy. That's the purpose of this bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further questions and comments?

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: I'm pleased to rise and make a few comments on my colleague's comments earlier.

This bill is nothing but a disguise bill; you know that. Police officers from across this country have worked in each other's provinces for decades. I know a number of police officers, particularly with the Ontario Provincial Police, who work right across the country today. They're working on different cases.

I have listened to the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police; I've listened to the Police Association of Ontario. Never has this become a topic or a major concern that they have.

I consider this to be a disguise to take attention away from all the different corruption and mismanagement of the economy by the McGuinty Liberals. That's what this is really all about.

We've watched an $18.5-billion deficit come before our eyes. We see a billion dollars wasted at eHealth. It goes over and over and over. And you know what? They want to talk about law and order, suddenly. They care about law and order at a time when we just gave away a billion dollars. Finally, someone on that side of the House actually resigned over it, and many more heads should roll as a result of that.

If anything, we should be starting to look at police investigations into what's happening with this government. When you start wasting a billion dollars, taxpayers' dollars, something is seriously at stake. It's going to be a long time before people will forget this.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further questions and comments?

Mr. Mike Colle: Unlike the previous speaker, I'm going to comment on what the member from Parry Soundâ€"Muskoka talked about.

He talked about the smuggling of guns. I've had a private member's bill which calls for the confiscation of the licence of a person who is caught smuggling or in possession of an illegal handgun, an unregistered handgun, in their vehicle. That bill of mine is supported by Police Chief Blair of Toronto, the Toronto Police Association, the Ontario Provincial Police Association and Chief Fantino because, as the police will tell you, it's virtually impossible to convict anyone who has a gun in their vehicle of illegal gun possession. Many Americansâ€"not many, but a number of Americansâ€"in trucks and cars come across the border with guns underneath their seats, guns in their trunksâ€"illegal handguns, I'm talking about, unregistered, sometimes with the numbers marked offâ€"and the police can't do anything about it.

That's why the police forces have asked for legislation which says that if you're caught with an illegal handgun in your car, you should lose your licence for seven days and should have that car impounded. What are you doing with an illegal handgunâ€"or six or seven illegal handguns in some cases, police have told meâ€" in your car? And they get off every time. They get off because the people smuggling in the guns say, "Well, I leased the car. I borrowed the car. I didn't know Canadian laws."

So the Tories can talk about being tough on crime, but they're never tough on illegal handguns. Why do they not stand up and say it's wrong to have illegal handguns in this province? Why do they not stand up with the police to stop these illegal handguns? They're talking out of both sides of their mouth.

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): The honourable member for Parry Soundâ€"Muskoka, you have up to two minutes for your response.

Mr. Norm Miller: Thank you to the member from Kenoraâ€"Rainy River, who certainly brought up some very valid questions about whether Quebec is part of the process in signing a similar agreement.

He also brought up good issues. He mentioned cigarettes. We have a situation in Ontario where 50% of cigarettes sold in the province are illegal cigarettes. That's the worst in Canada. I know I met with the Ontario Korean Businessmen's Association recently. We have small convenience stores going out of business because this government is not enforcing the rules and is allowing 50% of the cigarettes to be sold illegally.

He talked about car theftâ€"I know we have a big problem with cars being shipped internationally in containers and not being inspectedâ€"and the drug trade across the US border. We should have an agreement with the States as well.

Thank you to the member from Brant, who talked about the RCMP, and the member from Simcoe North, who feels this bill is really a diversionary bill to get away from the big problems of the billion dollars wasted at eHealth and an $18.5-billion deficit the government is now facing. Certainly I would agree that this government has lost all credibility when it comes to managing the economy when you look at the recent public accounts, where the deficit just went from $14 billion to $18.5 billion.

To the member from Eglintonâ€"Lawrence, I'm sorry, but I think your private member's bill is all about optics. It's fluff. An illegal handgun is an illegal handgun. There are federal rules that deal with it. Give me a break. That's unbelievable. Your bill is fluff, and that is the truth of it.

With that, Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to comment.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Howard Hampton: First of all, let me ask for unanimous consent to stand down the lead for the NDP caucus. I do wish to contribute to the debate, but Mr. Kormos, who was to do our lead, as I understand it, is at the chiropractor this morning.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): I just remind the honourable member that it's stood down indefinitely. Thank you.

Mr. Howard Hampton: I do want to make a few comments about this legislation. First of all, I want to make the comment that this is certainly not earth-shattering legislation. This legislation is already in place as law in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and as I understand it, Nova Scotia. Legislation was first put in place in 2004 by Manitoba, Nova Scotia in 2006, Saskatchewan in 2006 and New Brunswick in 2008.

When you talk to those provinces, they're very clear. They say, "Look, we have no difficulty in having officers, say, from Winnipeg go to British Columbia, to Vancouver, and have them recognizedâ€"that can be doneâ€"but there's always the issue of, can it be done in a timely way?" That's really what this legislation is about. It's about ensuring that if you're in a drug investigation, if you're in a car-theft investigation and a car has been stolen, let us say, in Winnipeg, and you think the car-theft ring is operating in Vancouver, and that's the destination of the car, an officer from Winnipeg can be recognized as, and act as, a police officer in British Columbia in a timely fashion. That's what this legislation does.

To that extent, New Democrats support this legislation. We think there should be a timely mechanism whereby a police officer investigating an alleged crime that may have happened in Toronto should be able to go to Winnipeg, if that's where the investigation leads him or her, and should be able to go there in a timely fashion and act with all of the capacity, but also all of the responsibilities, of a police officer in that province for the purposes of furthering their investigation. We support that. To that extent, we think that this will move in a positive direction. When we talked with Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, they were very clear. That's really what the legislation accomplishes.

I mentioned a minute ago the hyperbole of the minister when he announced the bill. He said that this was going to lead to seamless policing. I just want to discuss that in the context of a number of things that I think a majority of Ontarians would consider our major criminal activity problems. As I said earlier, one of our major problems in Ontario is the importation of illegal handguns from the United States. Witness only a few years ago the number of people shot on the streets of Toronto, and I think the results of the police investigation were that the majority of the firearms were handguns that had come from the United States in a completely illegal process: guns that were not registered in Canada; guns that had arrived over the border illegally. I think people at home would want to know: Is this legislation going to do anything either in terms of process or substance to deal with that issue? The fact of the matter is, this legislation will do absolutely nothing to address that, because this legislation doesn't address issues which might arise with American states or the government of the United States. So when the ministerâ€"and I know that this minister is often given to hyperboleâ€"says that this is going to result in seamless policing: It's not going to result in seamless policing at all with respect to the very large problem of illegal handguns entering Ontario from the United States. It's not going to do a thing about that.

Let's talk about the issue of the drug trade. I live in a border community. I live in a community where, on average, a million Americans cross the border every spring, summer and fall, most of them for the purpose of going fishing or hunting or engaging in a wilderness canoe trip, that sort of thing, but some of them come with other motives, other ideas in mind. I know many of the people who work at Canadian border services in my hometown and yes, they have confiscated handguns. They have called the police to make arrests with respect to the drug trade. They have even, in some cases, found evidence of abduction, people who were abducted in a city in the United States. They attempt to bring them across the border. They've done excellent work in terms of the apprehension of those sorts of things. But the drug trade is a big problem, and I think people would agree with that if you look at the some of the information that's out there about the size and the value of drug shipments that are sometimes apprehended. I think people would want to ask: Is this legislation going to do anything about that cross-border drug trade? Most of the cross-border drug trade is back and forth out of the United States. Is it going to result in seamless policing with respect to that issue? The answerâ€"and I think the government would be wise to admit this up frontâ€"is that it's not going to do anything about that, because this legislation doesn't pertain to US states or US federal policing officials. It has nothing to do with that, so it's not going to result in seamless policing there.

The next issue which I think people need to think about is this: We have a big problem with the smuggling and sale of illegal cigarettes in Ontario. Some of those illegal cigarettes come from the United States, and there have been various television and other documentaries which illustrate how that happens. I think we also need to acknowledge that a great number of those illegal cigarettes come from Quebec. As it stands now, will this legislation have any immediate effect on that? With respect to the smuggling of cigarettes from the United States, no. Again, this legislation doesn't deal with matters pertaining to US states or the US federal government insofar as "seamless policing" applies.

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Will it have anything to do with the issue in terms of the smuggling of illegal cigarettes from Quebec? What we're told is, the government says, "Well, Quebec is working on similar legislation." But as I understand it, unless and until Quebec does have similar legislation, this is not going to provide for seamless policing on that issue at this time either. We need to have similar legislation from Quebec before this will really be effective or potentially be effective on that issue. Even there, it's not going to be particularly effective unless and until the government of the day in Ontario decides that the smuggling, the trans-border shipment, the sale of illegal cigarettes is an important public issue. So far, I don't think we've seen any indication of that.

At best, this legislation might result in more effective policing on that issue vis-à-vis the province of Quebecâ€"it might. We don't know yet, because we aren't certain what Quebec's going to do. The government says that Quebec intends to bring forward legislation like this. We have not seen it at this time, and until we see it, I think we're dealing with hopes and wishes.

Having said that, it's the intention of New Democrats to support this legislation, but we think the government needs to be very clear on what it's going to do and what it's not going to do. To say that it's going to result in seamless policing is way beyond the pale and is a bit of hyperbole, I would say, in the extreme. I think this government needs to level with the people of Ontario. I think that was the real import of what the Auditor General had to say yesterday: The government has got to be open and transparent and drop the hyperbole, because the hyperbole, as the Auditor General pointed out yesterday, is not matched by reality. In fact, there's a $1-billion gap on that particular issue with this government at this time.

We will be supporting the legislation, but we want the legislation to go to committee because we think there needs to be some discussion at committee. We hope we can bring forward people who have particular expertise in this area so that at the end of the process, people in Ontario will know what it is they're getting and what it is they're not getting. I would say as well that when dealing with these issues, we need to pay particular attention to the dots and the dashes, the commas and the exclamation marks, because whenever you have policing issues, you have police oversight issues. Whenever you have policing issues, you have issues of rights and issues of capacity, but you also have issues of responsibility, limitation and, as I say, oversight. We think these are questions that need to be examined in greater detail in committee so that the people of Ontario will have a better idea of exactly what they're getting.

I just say again, the government's efforts to sell this as seamless policing is hyperbole compared to what we heard from the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They said, "Look, this bill, this legislation is really all about allowing police services to do something in a timely way rather than having to wait five months, six months or seven months for police services to get through what sometimes is a cumbersome process." That's the real import of the bill and that, New Democrats can support.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Questions and comments?

Mr. Dave Levac: The member from Kenoraâ€"Rainy River entertains us with some extremely impressiveâ€"and I know he has the reputation of the lawyer's understanding of the argument. In his understanding of the argument, he tries to say that the characterization of the bill is to correct all the ills and the problems of policing in Ontario. Does the bill take care of jaywalking? No, it doesn't, and that's not what this bill's going to do. But what I would respectfully suggest to the member is that if he reads Hansard, to take a look at my speech and understand that I did give some response to the concerns that were being raised by the members regarding the United States and regarding Quebec.

The one piece that I will advise him on is that with this legislation, Quebec officers will still be able to come into Ontario and do that work, which is an important aspect in, as I said, the fluid movement of crime prevention and crime work that our police officers need to do. I can give him my assurances that the discussion and the signed agreement between Quebec and Ontario was with the intent of having legislation. So, yes, you are right to ask at this moment, "Let's see that legislation," and yes, we are going to committee. Our intention is to take it to the committee and to bring those experts there to answer some of the more lawyerly questions that do come up in that debate; to ensure that that's done.

I don't agree with the characterization of this being fluff. We have had endorsements. You didn't make thatâ€"others have, and unfortunately they're missing the point. The point is that we have endorsement from law agencies across Ontario that believe that this is another good, solid step. And yes, your characterization of this particular piece is as one of the pieces of the puzzle that needs improvement, because the bad guys are using it. Not only do they not respect borders, they actually count on our present way of doing things to delay things for them to get the job done. We plug this hole, weâ€"

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Thank you. Further questions and comments?

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: I'm pleased to rise and make a few comments on the member from Kenoraâ€"Rainy River. I agree with him. I think what's important here right now is that if the government is so adamant that this is such important policing legislation, that we do take it to committee and listen to all the experts who are demanding that this legislation be passed.

As I mentioned earlier, as critic for community safety, I talk to a fair number of policing partners throughout the course of a year. It just hasn't been on their radar as far as any of their comments to me. I haven't had a letter from any of the police associations, from the OACP or any of the police service boards. It just hasn't been out there. But if it's important that we deal with this, fine. We'll listen to those comments and in all likelihood we will support this legislation. But I just didn't think it was something that, at a time when we're running huge deficits here in the province of Ontario, when we see all these scandals happening, the summer of scandalâ€"I didn't think it was the type of legislation that was predominantly that important to bring forward at this time.

However, we will deal with it, we'll listen to it and in all likelihood we will support it. But in the end, let's have some committee hearings and see what the general public has to say. We'll get all these policing partners in to support the legislation and give us the reasons why it's so important to pass today.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Thank you. Questions and comments? The honourable member forâ€"I want to get it right hereâ€"Glengarryâ€"Prescottâ€"Russell.

Mr. Pat Hoy: Chathamâ€"Kentâ€"Essex, Mr. Speaker. You were close, there.

I'm pleased to rise and make some comments on Bill 203. I should say, although I am the member for Chathamâ€"Kentâ€"Essex, I have a private member's bill to change it to Chathamâ€"Kentâ€"Leamington, which would be much more appropriate to the folks back home in the designation of that riding that I'm proud to represent.

It seems, after being here for a couple of sessions now, that we have general agreement on Bill 203 amongst the three parties. There is a desire amongst all three parties to have this bill go to committee and have those folks who have a keen interest and knowledge of this bill come forward and make their views known. The parliamentary assistant has made that undertaking, that this bill would go to committee, so we can do exactly that.

I had the opportunity to attend a seminar put on by the police; this happened to be the Ontario Provincial Police and not the municipal force that we have. They talk about "the bad guys." That's a term, a catch-all phrase that they use about criminal activities that go on. One thing they emphasized during that seminar on how to protect your home, your auto, for example, and your personal belongings, a person's purse or something of that nature: They said that the criminal element has all day to think about what they're going to do next. They're not working; they're involved in criminal activities, so they have all day to plan what they might do in the future. If it isn't tomorrow, they plan again tomorrow for what they may do on the third day, and if it isn't that day, they plan what they might do on the fourth day. It's not too far-fetched to understand that they've figured this out, that if they can get to the border, under the current system that we have, they could escape apprehension by our various police forces. We need to give them the tools to capture those bad guys.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Thank you.

I apologize for not getting your riding name right. Further questions and comments? Seeing none, the honourable member for Kenoraâ€"Rainy River, you have up to two minutes for your response.

Mr. Howard Hampton: I do have to respond to some of the comments. The comment that if you commit a criminal offence all you have to do is get to the border with Quebec or get to the border with Manitoba and you're scot-free just doesn't hold water. A criminal offence committed in Ontarioâ€"once you get to the Manitoba border or the Quebec border, you're not scot-free. Criminal law is the law of Canada. This has nothing to do with, "Oh man, today, if you murder somebody in Toronto, as long as you get to Montreal, you're scot-free." That's nonsense, complete nonsense, and I wish government members would stop making those kinds of speeches.

This legislation does not change the criminal law, and it doesn't make any amendments to the criminal law. This simply facilitates things for police services that are conducting an investigation, for example, an investigation of, let's say, electronic gambling, since electronic issues seem to be the flavour of the day. This would simply allow police who maybe want to begin an investigation in Toronto and continue the investigation in Winnipeg, because that's where they think it originatesâ€"police officers from Toronto would be allowed to go to Manitoba and do their work in a more timely fashion. That's what it would do. But it's not going to change the criminal law, as some members of the government would have us believe, and it's certainly not true that, as it stands now, you could commit a criminal offence in Toronto and as long as you get to Montreal, you're scot-free.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): It being just about 10:15 of the clock, this House stands in recess until 10:30, at which time we will have question period.

The House recessed from 1012 to 1030.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Mr. Ted Chudleigh: I would like to introduce page Chantelle Colangelo's parents and her grandmother: Fiona Colangelo, her mom; her sister, Alayna Colangelo; and her nana, Fiona Swain, in the members' gallery. Thank you for joining us.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I would like to introduce some friends of mine and relatives of one of our wonderful pages here today: Paola Pianegonda, Tullion Pianegonda and Mary Lachapelle. Glad to see you here.

Mrs. Linda Jeffrey: I'd like to introduce the family of David Hemphrey, one of our pages, here today: his mother, Claire Peters, and his brother, Will Hemphrey. Welcome.

Mr. Reza Moridi: I would like to welcome my friends from my riding of Richmond Hill: Mr. Rupi Jeji and Mr. Carmine Perrelli.

Hon. George Smitherman: I hope members of the House will join with me in welcoming guests of page Mauricie Summers. We want to welcome her mom, Anita Whyte and her brother, Everett Summers. Welcome to the Legislature.

Mrs. Carol Mitchell: It's my pleasure to introduce Amy Cronin; she is the mother of Alyssa Cronin.

I would be remiss if I didn't recognize my daughter Jasmine Mitchell who's in the House today as well.

Mr. Mario Sergio: Visiting our Legislative Assembly from England and Barbados is author Andre Thomas. I hope he's going to have a wonderful day and enjoy his stay in Toronto visiting us in the Leg here today.

Mr. Robert Bailey: It's my pleasure to introduce and welcome Charles Mooney in the opposition gallery today.

Hon. James J. Bradley: I would like to introduce to members of the Legislature Bob McKessock, who was a member from the Legislature from 1975 to 1987. He's in your gallery, Speaker, along with his wife, Mary; children Jeff, Steve, Lisa and Lorie and their respective spouses; grandchildren Mark, Luke and Dylonâ€"13 of them altogether.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Welcome back to Queen's Park.

On behalf of the member from Guelph and page Kaitlin Wagner, we'd like to welcome her mother, Johanna Wagner and her father, Glen Wagner to Queen's Park today.

I'd like to welcome Grant Hopcroft, director of intergovernmental and community liaison at the city of London, who is seated in the Speaker's gallery this morning. Welcome, Grant.

We have with us in the Speaker's gallery Toronto's new Consul General of Germany, Mrs. Sabine Sparwasser. Please join me in warmly welcoming our guest to the Legislature today. Madame Consul General.

I want to just take this opportunity to thank pages Beth Stulen and Helen Lee for the wonderful Converse shoe that graces my desk nowâ€"inside joke. Thank you.

LEGISLATIVE PAGES

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I would also ask all members to join me in saying thank you to this group of pages. Today is their last day of serving us in the Legislature. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Applause.

ORAL QUESTIONS

PREMIER'S RECORD

Mr. Tim Hudak: A question to the Premier on what kind of leader he has become after six years in office. Premier, we saw, for five months, you stonewall all of our questions about the scandal at eHealth. Two weeks ago, you waited until a Friday afternoon to release a public account that revealed a record provincial deficit of $18.5 billion. Yesterday, behind the storm of the Auditor General's report into your $1-billion eHealth boondoggle, you tried to hide details of a growing scandal at Cancer Care Ontario. What kind of leader tries to hide one scandal in the shadow of another scandal?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Not that long ago, my honourable colleague was complaining that we weren't making information available and now he's complaining that we're making too much information available.

We will continue to do what we think serves the interests of the people of Ontario. We'll continue to work hard to be responsible, accountable and transparent and we will continue to provide information that serves the purposes not only of the opposition but, as I say, the people of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: What the Premier seems to want to do is continue to do what's in the interests of the Liberal Party of Ontario and well-connected Liberal friends. It's clear from your dump of some 10,000 pages of records yesterday, including Cancer Care Ontario, that more sweetheart deals were handed out to the Premier's friends at the Liberal-friendly Courtyard Group. What isn't clear from the internal audit is just how much money was going to which friends in particular.

After all this dodging and delaying, after all this handing out of sweetheart deals to Liberal friends, at a time when people are waiting to get a loved one into a long-term-care home or get their kid to the doctor, this Premier is more concerned about untendered contracts and sweetheart deals to his Liberal friends. This is not the Dalton McGuinty he claims that he is. Why is this Premier more interested in protecting his own hide than helpingâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: A couple of things on this score: Number one, we are determined to create even more transparency. That's why we've committed to making Cancer Care Ontario the subject of freedom-of-information legislation.

They went the other way. They took OPG and Hydro One out from under FOI. We brought it back in.

Secondly, again, objectively speaking, there has been some real progress made in Ontario when it comes to wait times for cancer treatments. Whether you're talking about surgeries, radiation or chemotherapy, we continue to make real progress on behalf of Ontario families.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Final supplementary.

Mr. Tim Hudak: Premier, you have had two scandals at the Lottery and Gaming Corp. You've had a scandal of expenses at the WSIB. You had a $1-billion boondoggle at eHealth Ontario and now an emerging scandal at Cancer Care Ontarioâ€"a Premier beset, on all sides, with scandals that see money diverted to Liberal-friendly consultants. Yesterday, in response to this $1-billion boondoggle, the Premier said, "We will do better. We must do better." Liberal-friendly firms are doing better while families are waiting to get their children in to see doctors in the province of Ontario.

Premier, quite frankly, spare me those crocodile tears. If you are truly sincere, here is your chance to do it. If you want to get to the bottom of the rot at Cancer Care Ontario, will you send in the Auditor General to do a report today?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: A couple of things in response: My honourable colleague should know that the reason that there was an audit that went ahead at Cancer Care Ontario is because the folks there asked for that audit. They asked for that and they made that information public. They've asked for the auditor to return again in the not-too-distant future to guarantee their continuing progress.

I also want to recall to the attention of my colleague the finding of the auditor yesterday when he said that, "[W]e were aware of the allegations that 'party politics' may have entered into the awarding of contracts and that those awarding the contracts may have obtained a personal benefit from the firms getting work, but we saw no evidence of this during our work." I think it's important to accept the report in its entirety.

1040

MINISTER'S RECORD

Mr. Tim Hudak: One of the conclusions of the Auditor General was that the Premier was directly responsible for what happened at eHealth Ontario because of his untendered contract with Sarah Kramer that got that ball rolling. The Auditor General's report indicated that favouritism was played in the handing out of untendered contracts that then benefited Liberal-friendly firms.

I want to talk a bit about favouritism as well. We know that 70% of spending on electronic health records happened in fact under Minister Smitherman's watch. I ask the Premier: What percentage of untendered contracts that forced David Caplan to resign actually occurred when George Smitherman was the minister responsible?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: This takes us into the area of gamesmanship on the part of the opposition. We're going to try to stay focused on what we think Ontarians want us to do. They want us to own up to the fact that there have been some real challenges over eHealth. They want us to own up to the fact that in part those challenges arose because we put in place insufficient oversight. I acknowledge that, and I accept that. They also want us to take steps to ensure that this does not happen again. We're doing all that. By way of a specific admission of responsibility, the Minister of Health tendered his resignation; I accepted that.

Now we're into political gamesmanship. The opposition wants to do more than that, not because it serves the greater public interest, but because it serves their short-term political interests. I won't play those games.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: Do you want to talk about games, Mr. Premier? You should have forced that minister to resign five months ago, when the facts came forward about Liberal-friendly firms benefiting from these contracts. Instead we saw a Premier that stonewalled, and only when you were backed into a corner by the Auditor General's report did you finally actâ€"a Premier more concerned about protecting his own hide than delivering quality health care services to taxpayers in the province of Ontario.

The auditor speaks to details about bid-rigging, price-fixing and favouritism in handing out sole-source and untendered contracts at inflated cost to taxpayers. One of the regular winners in this bonanza was Minister Smitherman's former chief of staff Karli Farrow and the Liberal-friendly Courtyard Group.

Why is the Premier protecting the minister most responsible for this $1 billion boondoggle?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: The honourable leader of the official opposition keeps making my case for me. This is a matter of gamesmanship for him and for his party. He said that we should have the auditor go in; we did that. We waited for the auditor to come out with his report because we thought that was both courteous and the appropriate thing to do. The auditor has made some very specific findings, one of those being that there was no political connection withâ€"

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Order. The member from Renfrew. Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Notwithstanding the auditor's specific finding that he saw no evidence of party politics, my honourable colleague is not prepared to accept that. He wants to continue to maintain the fiction and to play the game. We won't be involved in that. We will not be party to that. We will continue to do what we think is in the interests of the people of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Final supplementary.

Mr. Tim Hudak: What the auditor's report clearly shows is that it was Minister Smitherman who created the culture of entitlement at the Ministry of Health and that David Caplan did nothing to try to fix it. On Minister Smitherman's watch, Cancer Care Ontario handed out to his former chief of staff contracts worth $18.7 million. Over the past five years, Liberal-friendly Courtyard receivedâ€"

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The Minister of Energy will withdraw the comment he just made.

Hon. George Smitherman: I withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you.

Mr. Tim Hudak: Over the past five years, Premier, Liberal-friendly Courtyard Group received $39.5 million, most of which came from ministries you gave Minister Smitherman to manage. You said David Caplan took the fall because he was the one at the bat, but Minister Smitherman hit it out of the park when it came to untendered contracts.

Premier, when will you ask for that second resignation?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: The fundamental difference here, I think you will have come to understand, is that I accept the auditor's report and I accept its findings; my honourable colleague does not.

What we will do is move ahead with every single one of the recommendations put forward by the auditor. Beyond that, we've already taken steps to ensure that the kinds of sole-source contracts which were permitted under the Conservative government and NDP government will no longer be permitted. We've also taken other steps to increase accountability and transparency. I think that's what we're supposed to do, and those are the kinds of things that we'll continue doing

CANCER CARE ONTARIO

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Premier. The health care scandal beat goes on in this province: 94% of out-of-pocket consultant expenses reimbursed without any proof; untendered consulting contracts; the value of consulting contracts tripling, from $6 million to $8 million; and no performance evaluation for 75% of consulting contracts. It's all in yesterday's auditor's report on the reckless waste of precious health care dollars. But I'm not talking about the Auditor General's report on eHealth; I'm talking about the audit of Cancer Care Ontario.

Why did the Cancer Care Ontario board call in the auditors, and what were they worried about?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I want to congratulate the leadership of Cancer Care Ontario for calling in the auditor and for producing all of the documentation necessary for the audit to be conducted in a thorough manner.

Ontarians will understand that Cancer Care Ontario has existed in one iteration or another for over 50 years and they have, ultimately, responsibility for our 14 regional cancer centres. They take responsibility for delivering important treatments, whether it's radiation, chemotherapy, surgeries and the like. They thought it was important to bring in the auditor to take a look at their practices. They discovered that there are some shortcomings. They've undertaken to address those, and furthermore, they're calling upon the auditor to return in the not-too-distant future to guarantee their continuing progress. I think they behaved in a responsible manner.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: This mysterious audit started in June. The Ministry of Finance staffers were there for most of the summer. FOI requests were made on the matter, and they were stonewalled right up until yesterday. Cancer Care Ontario is a provincial agency that receives 676 million public dollars. Ontarians have every right to know when and where their taxpayers' dollars are being squandered. Why didn't the Ministry of Finance alert the public of this audit?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Again, let me say what the head of Cancer Care Ontario has put out in a release yesterday. I want to quote; he says "As president and CEO" of Cancer Care "Ontario, I accept the findings and recommendations and I take full responsibility for the areas identified in the report requiring improvement.... We take the findings and the need to improve very seriously." He goes on to say, "Cancer Care Ontario management has already taken concrete steps to address the audit's recommendations to improve our processes and practices."

I think, clearly, the leadership at Cancer Care Ontario is to be commended for inviting the auditor to come in and for adopting and accepting wholeheartedly his advice and recommendations.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Final Supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Ontarians deserve clarity and transparency on this matter. It's their money, and if it's being squandered, they have the right to know at the very earliest of opportunities. The Ministry of Health received the Cancer Care Ontario audit on October 5. It was released publicly yesterday, the same day that the Auditor General released his scathing report on eHealth and its debacle. Is that a mere coincidence? Or is it another example of the shell-shocked McGuinty government's ham-fisted attempt at damage control at yet another rogue agency?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I'm not sure how you put "ham-fisted" and the "full disclosure audit" in the same sentence.

It's a matter of being transparent, it's a matter of ensuring that Ontarians understand what's happening over at Cancer Care Ontario, and they need to understand that this came about because the leadership there invited the auditor to come in and take a look. They need to understand that the leadership there has now said, "We will accept every recommendation. Furthermore, we want you to come back in the not-too-distant future and tell us how we are doing." That's what they need to understand. They need to see the big picture.

CANCER CARE ONTARIO

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is again to the Premier. People expect their government to know about and to stop the wasting of millions of precious health care dollars. But in the case of Cancer Care Ontario, it seems that the McGuinty government was again caught asleep at the switch, because it wasn't the health minister, of course, who called in the auditor, it was Cancer Care's board, and only after the scandalous waste at eHealth had already come to light. Shouldn't one of the former health ministers have known about the trouble at Cancer Care before the auditors were called in?

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Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I think what we ultimately try to do when it comes to these agencies is put in place the kind of leadership that will act in a responsible way all the time. With Cancer Care Ontario, clearly they have done that. They have invited the auditor in. They have welcomed his recommendations. They have said that they will move ahead on thoseâ€"they've already made some considerable progress. As I've said, they want him to come back and make sure that they're on the right track. I think those are exactly the kinds of things that we look for in the management of our agencies.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: This government has been on autopilot for six years, and the Premier seems to live by the old proverb, "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." Well, it's high time that this Premier accepts responsibility.

The Premier even met with Ms. Kramer before she took the eHealth job. We know very well from the auditor's report that it was this Premier who directly foisted Sarah Kramer on eHealthâ€"the same Sarah Kramer who left a trail of questionable decisions behind at Cancer Care Ontario. Will the Premier now admit that it was his meddling and it was his direct involvement that created this huge scandal at eHealth?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: That is completely without foundation, and my honourable colleague knows that. What she is effectively saying is that, at my one and only meeting with Ms. Kramer, I directed her to break the rules. She knows that's not true, and I think she would want to reconsider making that kind of an allegation.

It is no secret either that I'm impatient when it comes to getting smart meters up in Ontario homes. I'm impatient when it comes to getting our coal-fired plants shut down. I'm impatient when it comes to getting our test scores up and our graduation rates up. I'm impatient when it comes to getting our court wait times down. But on each and every occasion, I expect everybody to follow the rules and to do what is in keeping with the legitimate expectations of the people of Ontario, and my colleague knows that.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: What we've seen is a lot of talk but very little action from this Premier. The buck stops with the Premier of this province. He's either in charge or he is not. The Minister of Health, absolutely, is gone. A billion dollars that should have been spent on people's health has been flushed down the toilet in this province. Will the Premier now own up to his own failings or will he continue to make excuses?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I know it makes for a good sound bite to say that a billion's gone, but that's not true. Here are some of the things that they've done at eHealth so far: Since 2005, more than four million Ontarians are already participating in the electronic medical records program; more than one million children now have an electronic health record; and since 2008, 80,000 Ontarians are in a pilot project for ePrescribing, which will help save lives.

We have built a strong foundation. There is more work to be doneâ€"clearly that is the case. But what we will not do, as we have been invited to do by the opposition, is set aside that work; then it will be a complete waste. There's a good foundation, we'll continue to build on that, and we will put in place an electronic health record that will meet the needs of doctors and Ontario families.

MINISTER'S RECORD

Mr. John Yakabuski: My question is for the Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy. The Auditor General confirmed that in 2003, the Management Board called him in for a briefing about the Smart Systems for Health Agency and how to manage sole-source and untendered contracts. That was six years ago. It took getting caught in a massive spending scandal before you and the Premier changed a thing. Was the briefing for you to learn about how to fix the problems or so that you could stay one step ahead in how you handed out untendered contracts?

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I'm going to give the honourable member an opportunity. I'm going to give him 10 seconds to rephrase that question. Stop the clock for a second, please. The question needs to refer to the member's current portfolio, and he knows that. I'm going to give him a few seconds to rephrase that question so that it relates to his current portfolio.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Because there are untendered contracts in the energy field, we're trying to set a pattern here, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Minister?

Hon. George Smitherman: I didn't hear a question. But I will say to the honourable member that as a member of the government, I take very seriously the responsibilities that ensue from being in such important positions. I've sought at every moment of my public service to bring everything that I had to it. As Minister of Health, I was vigorous in seeking to enhance access for patients in the province of Ontario.

In response to yesterday's report, as a minister, I have even greater responsibilities and duties to operate with greater foresight, to reach deeper, to ask harder questions of all of those people in my ministry who have important responsibilities and in all of those agencies that report to me that have important responsibilities.

I give you, Mr. Speaker, all members of this House and the people of the province of Ontario my assurance that I will do my utmost to fulfill these high obligations.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. John Yakabuski: Again for the Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy: You were the minister responsible for OLG during the worst days of the OLG scandal. You were the Minister of Health during the worst days of the eHealth scandal. Even after leaving the Ministry of Health, you still maintained an active involvement in the eHealth file. Now, as Minister of Energy, you have a role in the Windsor Energy Centre scandal. Will the minister of scandals tell us how he's going to top this?

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I would ask the honourable member to withdraw that comment, please.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Withdrawn.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Minister.

Hon. George Smitherman: I do confess that for four and three quarter years I had the privilege of being the Minister of Health in the province of Ontario, and during that time, I know that I contributed to 900,000 people gaining access to family physicians and community care that they didn't have before. I know I was part of a government that dramatically expanded access to cancer drugs for people in the province of Ontario. I know that alongside my Premier, I participated in an expansion of regional cancer centres in places all across the province of Ontario, from St. Catharines to Sault Ste. Marie. And I know that in the course of the time that I had the privilege of serving in that role, we advanced every single day on the most important and essential point: clinical access to services for patients, which is the fundamental obligation ofâ€"

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member fromâ€"

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Minister of Transportation.

Mr. Ted Chudleigh: You make it so easy.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): And the member from Halton.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): And the member from Renfrew.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): And the Minister of Tourism. Enough.

Hon. James J. Bradley: Throw him out.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): No, I don't want to start throwing anybody out, but if we're going to persist with some of the language and the heckling that is going on, we're going to get to that point. But that is not my intent. I think these are important questions that are being answered. I want to hear the answers and the questions.

ELECTRONIC HEALTH INFORMATION

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour le premier ministre. Yesterday, the Auditor General's report noted that Ontario is now the last province in Canada when it comes to building an electronic health records system. We are last. Thanks to his report, we can see how your government has allowed a billion dollars to be spent, and yet we're still very far away from an electronic health records system. The Premier has agreed that it was because of his government's mismanagement and lack of oversight.

My question is as follows: Does the Premier understand what is at stake here, or will he allow more years to pass without ensuring that Ontarians have the electronic health system they need?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I appreciate the question. I think we clearly have more work to do to restore Ontarians' confidence in their electronic health records system.

But I would draw my colleague's attention to a couple of comments offered by the auditor. For one thing, he says, "The value of this investment, at least to date, has not been realized." He then goes on to say on page 19, "One aspect of the strategic plan that we particularly welcomed was the robust and detailed description of activities to be conducted from 2009 through 2012. To its credit, the plan sets out a number of concrete targets and deliverables on each of the key EHR components. It thus represents a major step forward in crystallizing the government's eHealth priorities and plans."

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We have, in large measure, been successful in laying the foundation. It's now important that we put in place the superstructure so that we have, in fact, a fully operational electronic health record system. We're much of the way there. There's more work to be done, and we will keep going.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: Six years later, $1 billion later, and a foundation is not enough. We don't have electronic health records, but we know they reduce prescription errors by 84% and they reduce inappropriate drug combinations. If we had one, we would save $350 million in useless drugs alone, and for every 1,000 admissions, 75 people wouldn't suffer adverse drug events. If we had an electronic health record, we would decrease duplication of tests, increase coordination of care, reduce wait times and shorten patient wait-lists. We don't have one, so 15% of our lab tests are done unnecessarily, and a full third of emergency room visits take 1.2 hours longer because we don't have electronic health records.

Electronic health records are life-saving tools. Does the Premier realize what the slowdown in electronic health records has done to patients' health, to Ontarians' health?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: My honourable colleague makes an excellent case for us to continue to move forward. But I do want to draw her attention again to some of the successes that we have enjoyed. She made reference to some of the prescription errors and costs and pain associated with those kinds of things. That's why we have in place now, involving 80,000 Ontarians, a pilot project for ePrescribing, which will help save livesâ€"not only money but, more importantly, lives. Since 2005, we've had more than four million Ontarians already participating in electronic medical records, and more than one million children have an electronic health record now. Again, that's the foundation. There is more to do, and I fully agree with my colleague's enthusiasm and support for our continuing progress.

TAXATION

Ms. Helena Jaczek: My question is to the Minister of Revenue. Minister, people in my community and around the province have been hearing from the opposition that the HST is going to be applied to recreational fees. In my riding of Oak Ridgesâ€"Markham, people understand the value of sports and physical activity to promote their health and that of their children. However, in these tough economic times, many people are finding it difficult to pay even the basic fee for these valuable programs.

Will you clarify: Will the HST be charged on recreational programs such as hockey and soccer?

Hon. John Wilkinson: I want to thank my friend for the question and give a response as Minister of Revenue and as a hockey dad. What I can share with the members of the House is that children's recreational memberships, such as hockey and soccer fees, which are offered by non-profit organizations and municipalities, will generally be exempt from the HST because they're exempt from the GST. Hockey rinks, for example, will be able to claim input tax credits for many of their costs. These items include heaters, Zambonis, refrigerants, scoreboards, equipment and energy.

We recognize that for some our sales tax reform will result in some higher prices. That's why, as part of our comprehensive package, we're dramatically reducing income taxes. I want to share with the member that, because of that reform, some 93% of Ontarians will be receiving a permanent cut in their income taxes.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Helena Jaczek: Certainly the opposition likes to portray the HST as having a negative effect on people when they talk of increasing hockey fees. However, Minister, I've heard you say that the HST is about creating jobs and improving the economy so that, at the end of the day, more kids can play hockey and other sports. Business also says the HST is going to make Ontario more competitive and create jobs. I know our government has supporters from the business community, including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Toronto Dominion Bank.

But how about low-income earners faced with these increased fees and prices? Are there any benefits for them in the short term? In summary, Minister, how will the HST help create jobs and help low-income earners?

Hon. John Wilkinson: I say to people, "You're not able to play hockey if your mom and dad don't have a job." It's just that simple. What our tax reform is aboutâ€"the biggest tax reform in some 40 yearsâ€"is to get people back to work. That's in everybody's best interest, to get high unemployment down. That's why we're reforming our system.

But we do understand that it is so important for people of low income that we have taken particular concern to enhance the tax credits that people will receive. I can share with the House that that new tax credit of some $260 is for every adult and child in a family. We've taken special careâ€"$260 is the 8% tax on over $3,000 worth of purchases. We've taken great care to ensure that we're able to do this in a fair way. But the most important thing for a hockey kid is that their mom and dad have a job.

AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT

Mr. Norman W. Sterling: My question is to the Premier. The Auditor General, in his report on the spending at eHealth, says, "Normally we receive the full co-operation of" the ministry. "Unfortunately, this was not the case for this audit." He goes on to say that he first wrote the deputy minister in the summer of 2008 and was not granted access until he phoned the deputy minister himself sometime in February 2009â€"six months later.

What actions, Premier, have you taken against those responsible for this stonewalling?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: My honourable colleague raises a very important issue that was first brought to my attention when I saw the auditor's report. I think the auditor noted that this is an exception. Certainly the attitude that we have as ministersâ€"and one that we demand that the bureaucracy adoptâ€"is that if the auditor is coming in, we welcome the presence of himself and his team to get their work done. So the first thing I want to make clear is that that attitude demonstrated by some within the ministry is completely unacceptable, and I undertake to speak to the secretary of cabinet to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Norman W. Sterling: The Auditor General gained easy access and co-operation from both the eHealth agency and from the people involved with the former Smart Systems for Health Agency, but he did not get the co-operation and access from your Ministry of Health.

When the auditor did gain access six months after he asked for it, invoices were missing. Given that there was a six-month period between when he asked and when he was let in, will you ask the Attorney General to undertake a forensic audit into all contracts and payments made by either the Ministry of Healthâ€"your Ministry of Healthâ€"or the eHealth agency?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I understand where my colleague is coming from on this, but no, I decline his request. If there is a legitimate concern, I would have expected the auditor to raise that and to have made specific reference to it and to have made specific demands of us, with which we would have readily complied. He did not do that, and I think that ends the matter.

But my colleague does make an important point, which I would invite those in the bureaucracy to pay close attention to. Our responsibility is to co-operate fully with the auditor. He works in the greater public interest. That's our job. We're doing that in governmentâ€"the elected arm of the governmentâ€"but the bureaucracy has a corresponding responsibility to co-operate as well.

LOW-INCOME ONTARIANS

Mr. Michael Prue: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Can the minister live on $572 a month?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I think that's a very important question. That's why this government, since we have been in power, has increased social assistance. This November and December, it will be 11% in total. We have done a lot to improve the quality of life of people.

Moreover, we have the Ontario child benefit that we're supposed to get up to $1,100 or $1,200â€"

Interjection.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: â€"$1,100 by 2013, and we have advanced this investment this year so they are receiving $1,100.

Is there more to do? Yes, there is, and this government, as long as there are people in poverty, will continue to invest to make sure that we improve their quality of life.

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The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Michael Prue: The minister didn't answer the question because, of course, she knows she can't live on $572 a month. She's never even in her life had to try to do it. The fact is, she can't live on $572 a month, but she expects 137,000 Ontarians to do exactly that. This $572 a month is 40% less than a single person received in 1994 and half of what The Stop Community Food Centre's new survey says a single person needs to survive. Toronto's medical officer of health says inadequate social assistance rates are making people sick.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, will this minister stop punishing social assistance recipients with poverty and sickness and increase ODSP rates by $100 a month so that they can eat properly?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I appreciate the comments presented by my friend on the other side, but this government is very proud of what we have done, not only on the poverty side but also on what has a great impact on those in poverty.

For instance, the Minister of Housing has increased support for housing. We're creating more, because we know that the number-one problem that people in poverty have is to find affordable housing, so my colleague has invested $1.2 billion to help build affordable housing. My colleague in the education sector has improved the school breakfast program and all types of supports within the school system which will help those in need. As I said, we need to do more for those in need, and that's what this governmentâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.

FAIR ACCESS TO PROFESSIONS

Mr. Jean-Marc Lalonde: My question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. I had the opportunity to attend Dr. Jean Augustine's presentation to the members of the Legislature and their staff on the progress her office is making in regard to breaking barriers and supporting newcomers to get their qualifications recognized. Her office published a study of each profession, guidelines for regulatory bodies and a study on the agencies that assess each newcomer's qualifications.

We live in a province where diversity and equality are not only embraced through our values, they are enshrined in our laws, such as the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act passed in 2005. Could the minister inform the House of the achievements we have made so far and about the steps we need to take to ensure that fair accessâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Minister?

Hon. Michael Chan: I want to thank the honourable member from Glengarryâ€"Prescottâ€"Russell for his question. More than 100,000 individuals make Ontario their home every year. Many of these individuals travel long distances and face many hardships to make Ontario home. Once in Ontario, many newcomers face challenges such as finding a job in their field. This is why we are working hard with the Fairness Commissioner, Dr. Jean Augustine, to eliminate the systemic barriers that newcomers face. As well, we are investing in bridge training, language training, credential assessment and settlement services. We are committed to helping newcomers, and we are committed to the continued success of our program.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Jean-Marc Lalonde: The minister has outlined the success made so far, and all members can appreciate that we serve a province as diverse as ours. I have heard stories of those who immigrated to Ontario to realize that their years of education, work experience and qualifications were not recognized as they should be.

We have the right legislation in place, and we have initiated systemic change, but investing in our skilled workers should also be a priority. We must ensure that there are clear results by this government. Minister, how much are we investing and how are we measuring the success of these investments?

Hon. Michael Chan: Individuals are getting jobs and there are tremendous results: 70% of graduates from our bridge training program, aimed at employment, are successful in getting jobs.

I've taken the opportunity to attend some graduation ceremonies for the bridge training programs. Some graduates approach me and say, "It is because of the bridge training program that I have found employment in my field."

Successful graduates are the result of more than $120 million in over 180 bridge training programs, helping 30,000 individuals to get a job in their related field of study.

Is there more to be done? Yes. But I'm proud to say that this government is on the right track.

MINISTER'S RECORD

Mr. John Yakabuski: My question is for the Deputy Premier and the Minister of Infrastructure. Minister, you've been quick to let David Caplan carry your dirty laundry for the billion-dollar scandal at eHealth, but it is clear you still had a hand on the eHealth file after you moved to your new portfolio.

Through a freedom-of-information request, the Ontario PC caucus obtained minutes for a January 28, 2009, meeting of the eHealth board of directors at the posh Royal Canadian Yacht Club. Guess what we learned from these minutes? Your new ministry was directing eHealth's creation of a new diabetes registry.

Why have you been hiding the fact that you maintained a managerial role in eHealth even after you changed portfolios?

Hon. George Smitherman: Well, I know that fishing is a very popular pursuit in the honourable member's riding, and it's nice to see that he has brought his skills here to the Legislature.

A couple of things that I think might be helpful in discussion: First is that, on the dayâ€"

Mr. Howard Hampton: I think he's found a whale.

Hon. George Smitherman: Oh, that was a very niceâ€"Howard, I've been working to try and slim down.

Interjections.

Hon. George Smitherman: Oh, thanks. Those are in order, right? Yeah.

Well, first and foremost, when I had the privilege of leaving the Ministry of Health and enjoying the privilege of going on to another ministry, eHealth Ontario had exactly no employees when I left the Ministry of Health. I had spent a lot of time trying to clean up Smart Systems for Health and to reduce the number of consultants that were there.

By way of supplementary, I'll be happy to speak to the role that Infrastructure Ontario is playing in procurements related to eHealthâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. John Yakabuski: I thank the former leader of the third party for stealing my next proposed line about, "We've landed one big one and we're going after another one."

On page 34 of the auditor's reportâ€"

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock. I understand this is a very intense place that we work in, and sometimes heated things are said within this chamber. But I would just remind all the honourable members of the importance of using proper parliamentary language and not using language that, in any way, directly or indirectly, is derogatory towards another member. I think we all need to continue, to the best of our ability, to treat everybody with respect.

The member from Renfrew.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I will scale down my rhetoric.

On page 34 of the auditor's report, he criticizes the lack of progress on eHealth records on your watch. The auditor goes further to reveal that "the agency has decideed to involve Infrastructure Ontario in the procurement process...." He adds that the plan isn't working.

The diabetes registry has missed its delivery targets, is having its expected functions diminished and is losing the confidence of family doctors. Why is your infrastructure agency wrecking this important health file?

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Hon. George Smitherman: Well, first off, I do want to say to the honourable member on that other point that he was raising that since the beginning of August, I have taken more seriously my diet, and I am down two shirt sizesâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): No, just please let's stick to the issue. I'm going to start the clock and I'm just going to continue to let the clock run if we're going to continue with this. And I would say to all sides that any references to personal appearance or whatever are not acceptable on all sides, whether it is in a question or whether it is in an answer. Minister of Energy and Infrastructure.

Hon. George Smitherman: I didn't consider a reference to my own self as petty. I was acknowledging that I'm a work in progress. My husband works for a chocolate company. It has its challenges; I have to admit it.

I think that on the matter at hand, in the circumstances where big pieces of infrastructure are required to be constructed, this government, through its agency Infrastructure Ontario, has gotten more of that done than any government in the history of the province of Ontario. It was decided therefore that it might be appropriate that Infrastructure Ontario, with its expertise at procurement and involvement in these kinds of situations and the construction of big pieces of infrastructure, could play a role. I believe they're playing a constructive role, and we're all very motivated to deliver the electronic health record that everybody wants and needs in the province of Ontario because we've invested so heavily in building the foundation of it that makes it possible.

PATIENT TRANSFERS

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Premier. Emergency department physicians at Sault area hospitals have taken the extraordinary step of alerting the media to a very serious situation there. The doctors are demanding that the Ministry of Health provide timely evacuation of critically ill patients to specialty centres when local expertise is not available. They are very concerned that long delays to get air ambulances to transfer critical patients are happening. Yesterday, the auditor pointed out $1 billion in wasted eHealth money. My question: Are critically injured patients in Sault Ste. Marie paying for the $1-billion boondoggle?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Health.

Applause.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Thank you, and thank you to the member for her question. I do confess that this is not an issue that I have yet been briefed on. I think I am in hour 26 of my job. But I can assure you that I will look into this and get back to the member as soon as I can, when I have information that relates to this issue.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Perhaps I'll take a moment to enlighten the minister. In Sault Ste. Marie, the nearest centre for specialty care is across the border in Michigan. When it's necessary, emergency room physicians will refer patients to specialist hospitals in Michigan to save precious time because, in the case of critical injuries, minutes and seconds do matter. But when a patient needs to be transported over to the US for treatment, the Ministry of Health has refused to pay for the cost of that transportation. Why is the McGuinty government willing to pay $1 billion for eHealth insiders with little to show for it while abandoning critically-ill patients in Sault Ste. Marie?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I think when it comes to delivering improved health care for the residents of Sault Ste. Marie, it's really important to acknowledge that we're building a brand new hospital for the people of Sault Ste. Marie. I think it's also important to take a moment to acknowledge the extraordinarily fine work of our health care professionals.

It's my job to make sure that every dollar we spend on health care goes to support people with better health care in this province. We're moving forward on that agenda. We're making great progress. There is more to be done, and as I said, I will look into this specific situation and get back to the member.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Mr. Reza Moridi: My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It is no secret that many Ontario families have had a hard time making ends meet over the last year due to the economic downturn. Whether they're trying to pay for warm clothes for the winter, nutritious meals or rent and hydro, household budgets have been stretched. I believe that it's our duty to ensure that no Ontarian has to struggle to give their family these necessities. Many people I speak to in this situation just need a little extra help to get back on their feet.

Minister, we have heard about your consultations to develop a long-term affordable housing strategy for Ontario, but what are you doing to help these people today? How is the minister making the fundamental needs of safe and secure shelter more accessible to Ontarians who needâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Minister?

Hon. Jim Watson: The member is correct; we are conducting the long-term affordable housing strategy consultations, but we're not waiting for the results of those consultations. We are investing a significant amount of money today in communities like Richmond Hill: for instance, in York region alone, $2.6 million in funding for social housing repair. On top of that, York region will benefit from another $14.4 million over the next two years from our social housing repair and retrofit program. In fact, an example: I know the honourable member knows well that the Richmond Hill co-op on Bayview Avenue will see 59 units renovated under this particular program.

These investments are important to individuals to ensure that they live in a clean, safe and affordable home. We're committed to making sure the money flows as quickly as possible, because this is a joint federal-provincial program. We want all that money to be invested in Ontario and stay here, repairing and building new homes.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Reza Moridi: I'm sure the minister saw first-hand during his province-wide long-term affordable housing strategy consultation sessions that these struggles are not limited to geographic areas or urban and rural boundaries. People across the province have voiced their concerns and suggestions about affordable housing. I'm happy to hear that the citizens of York region and of my riding of Richmond Hill have access to housing assistance. However, I know that I'm not the only member of this House advocating for affordable housing in their region. What other help is the ministry offering to social housing providers, their tenants and other Ontarians looking to secure decent housing in the province?

Hon. Jim Watson: There are a number of initiatives that we're undertaking. One is, of course, the $622 million that the McGuinty government has committed in its recent budget, that will be matched by the federal government's contribution to bring the total over the next two years to $1.2 billion. This will create an opportunity for us to retrofit and renovate 50,000 housing units province-wide, as well as build 4,500 housing unitsâ€"in the interim, creating 23,000 jobs.

We also have the very successful rent bank program. That is now a permanent program within the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Since 2004, 981 families in York region have been able to stay in their homes and stave off eviction. York region has received $1.37 million for this project. It's a very sensible, thoughtful program that works well to ensure those individuals and their families are not upset with the turmoil of eviction. We're proud that it's now a permanent program of the McGuinty government.

HOG INDUSTRY

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture. Minister, hog farmers in Ontario have been hit with one thing after another: rising costs, low market prices, flawed programs from the McGuinty government, and now the H1N1. All they get from the minister is to be told, "Be quiet and wait for a long-term solution." The federal government has announced a program to help these farmers, but still no sound from the provincial minister. Minister, why haven't you stepped up to the plate with at least your 40% of the federal program?

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: I appreciate the opportunity to share with the members of the Legislatureâ€"and to reiterate for the members of the hog communityâ€"that this government has been working with our provincial colleagues in understanding what the best way is to support the industry. In July, when we were in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the provincial ministers recognized this as a national issueâ€"and it does require a national response. The Canadian Pork Council put their requests to the federal government, and on August 15 the federal minister of agriculture did respond.

All of the provinces in Canada are pleased that the federal government has recognized why it is so important that we have a national response to this issue that provides hog producers with options in terms of what they canâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

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Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I want to thank the minister for being so complimentary about the federal Conservative government at least stepping forward to help our farmers. But, Minister, hog farmers in Ontario are losing their farms today. They came to Niagara-on-the-Lake this summer to tell you, but you wouldn't talk to them. We now find out that while were you in Niagara, you could afford to drink $3,300 worth of wine, hire a band to play music for $3,500 and even find $110 to buy mosquito repellent. This is all on the taxpayer's dime, and you couldn't find a nickel for our hog farmers. You couldn't even find any time to talk to them. Minister, do you think that's appropriate that you wouldn't even talk to them?

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: This summer in July, the province of Ontario hosted the provincial ministers' conference. This was the first time we had hosted the conference in 10 years. What I can say to the honourable member is that we did our very best, given the economic times in which we are, to reduce expenses. We have had the very generous support of our stakeholders.

At the end of this event, what I can say is that the cost of hosting this eventâ€"we did it for less money than was spent 10 years ago when the member's party had the privilege of hosting it. We did it for less money. So we have been trying to be responsible with the dollars, and we certainlyâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.

DRIVER EXAMINATION CENTRES

Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. On August 21, workers at DriveTest Serco went on strike over matters directly related to road safety in this province. Since Serco acquired the right to provide driver examination services from the MTO in September 2003, there has been a significant reduction in the quality of driving examinations, threatening road safety in this province. Will this government immediately commit to reviewing the delegation agreement between MTO and DriveTest to ensure that public safety is not compromised in this province?

Hon. James J. Bradley: I would say to the member: First of all, that is done on an ongoing basis. He would recognize that there is a strike on at the present time, and there are two sides who, I understand, are back at the negotiating table, trying to resolve their differences.

He will know that the previous Conservative government in the year 2003 signed a 10-year contract with Serco to deliver these services. It is our hope, and I know the Minister of Labour is being helpful in this regard, that with mediation efforts, once again, the two sides can be brought together and resolve what are some difficult differences that they've had. Ultimately, of course, we want to ensure that the people of Ontario are best served by the services that are provided. I'm looking forward with anticipation to the two sides engaging in meaningful negotiations and coming up with a collective agreement.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: I appreciate the concern of the Minister of Transportation, but if in fact you've been reviewing that agreement, then the reduction in the quality of testing for school bus drivers is something that must have been brought to your attention. Are you in fact reviewing that agreement, and will you take steps to bring driver testing back into the public sector?

Hon. James J. Bradley: You're with a party that is always interested in collective agreements being reached and in collective bargaining, and I think you know that in the midst of collective bargaining, to introduce situations such as this does not militate in favour of a resolution of it. For instance, if the company were to bring in replacement workers, I think you would be justifiably concerned about that. If there's any interference that takes place during the negotiations, unfortunately what that does is, it means that an agreement isn't reached.

I know that your party has been interested in collective agreements over the years, even though you tore up every public sector collective agreement back when you were in power with the social contract. I know that basically you understand the importance of collective agreements, and I don't wantâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you, Minister. New question.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Mrs. Laura Albanese: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. As you are aware, the Minister of the Environment has approved the environmental projects report for the Georgetown South service expansion and the Union-Pearson air-rail link submitted by Metrolinx and has attached 18 strict conditions to his approval. One of the conditions is that the trains that travel to, from and through Georgetown along the Georgetown South corridor shall be tier-4 compliant when the service begins in 2015 or as soon as the tier-4-compliant technology becomes commercially available.

Some of my constituents still worry about diesel-powered trains. Can the minister describe how tier-4 compliance reduces harmful emissions to minimal levels?

Hon. John Gerretsen: First of all, I want to say that the advocacy of this member on behalf of her community has just been outstanding on this and many other issues as well. She is quite correct that we have implemented 18 tough conditions with respect to the approval process. Tier-4 engine technology has been designated by the EPA in the USAâ€"standards that we have adopted here in Canadaâ€"to be available by the year 2015, when we expect these engines to be available here in Canada as well.

They expect to be in production at that point in time, and we expect that those diesel engines will be utilized here. What it will mean is that the emissions, over current engines, will be approximately 90% less with respect to particulate matter and 80% less with respect to nitrogen oxides. That is good for the environment. It's good to get people out of their cars, off the roads and into transit. Everybody benefits, including the people of York Southâ€"Weston.

VISITORS

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The time for question period has ended.

I just want to take this opportunity to welcome a couple of our colleagues from the federal House: Claude Gravelle, the MP from Nickel Belt; and Glenn Thibeault, the MP from Sudbury. I hope you enjoyed our question period today. Welcome, gentlemen.

I just want to take this opportunity to wish all members a happy Thanksgiving. Make sure that when you're out buying your turkey and food, buy local, buy Ontario, buy Canadian. Please do it.

This House stands recessed until 1 p.m. this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1137 to 1300.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Mme France Gélinas: There are a few guests with me today. They're in the gallery; some of them are upstairs. I'll start in alphabetical order:

Mark Bradley; Bill Belowos; Jim Rollo; Dan Neilsen; Shawn Smith; Joe Guido; Chris True; Ray Hammond; Bernie Arsenault; Mike O'Brian; Ned McDonald; Cam Duncan; Derek Craig; Todd Guthrie; Brent Laaskonen; J.P. Mrochek; Alex Patterson; Denis Therrieau; Lyle Young; John Laundry; Ryan Chabot; Guy Lamarche; Jim Levac; Norm Black; Mark Desjardins; Denis Barbeau; Jamie West; Carol Mulligan; Charlie Sullivan; Eric McNeil; Steve Saari; Pascal Boucher; Gord Courville; Guy Shank; John Vandenhouvel; Kevin Morley; Denis Robichaud; Eric Delparte; Nick Larochelle; Jacek Zantarski; Eric Gagne; Brian Hailey; Tim Smith; Jerzy Sredniawski; Rob Morano; Mike Prevost; Claude Laliberte; Bob Boileau; Kelly Kydd; and Al Michaud.

Welcome to Queen's Park. Those are people from my riding and from the Sudbury riding.

Interruption.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I think the honourable member from Nickel Belt has just set the new record for the longest introduction. We congratulate her on that.

We welcome our guests. We just remind our guests that you are allowed to observe but not participate, as much as you may wish, in any of the debate. Enjoy your visit to Queen's Park today.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: I'm pleased to say that this is Fire Prevention Week in the province of Ontario. Last weekend I pointed out that we had a huge display of fire prevention equipment, and the fire prevention officers worked with the local police chiefs and the police associations to bring awareness to Fire Prevention Week at the Home Depot mall in Orillia. There's an opportunity for people to donate to the fundraising campaign for MS. They had depots all around the community for that. They're trying to make an overall impression on fire prevention.

Also, I attended the firefighters' memorial here at Queen's Park. Of course, that all ties into this week as well.

But one thing I wanted to point out is that the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs pointed out very, very clearly that presumptive legislation is not extended to volunteer firefighters right now. Even in the speech at the memorial, he asked that the province of Ontario move forward with this. I know my colleague Mr. Arnott has introduced a private member's bill that was turned down by this House.

As we move forward and we want to protect our firefighters and have them take preventive measures in our communities, we must provide for them the same benefits that are applied to our professional firefighters across the province. We know that the professional firefighters agree with this and we ask the minister to move forward quickly with this presumptive legislation.

CHILD DEVELOPMENT
RESOURCE CONNECTION PEEL

Mrs. Amrit Mangat: On June 24, I had the pleasure of attending the annual general meeting of Child Development Resource Connection Peel. The meeting was held at the CDRCP's new office, which I'm very proud to say is located in my riding of Mississaugaâ€"Brampton South.

CDRCP is a non-profit organization that connects community and practitioners with information, resources, training and services that promote quality family life. CDRCP connects families to child care information, respite services and Early Years programs, to name a few. They also recently launched a new community services database that will further bring together much-needed information for families.

One of the keys to CDRCP's success is the support of its countless volunteers who sit on its board, committees and task groups. I commend the CDRCP and its volunteers for helping families in Peel.

I look forward to seeing this organization continue to grow and continue to provide excellent service to families in Peel.

HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION

Mr. Ted Arnott: Thirty yearsâ€"that's how long the people of Puslinch township have been waiting. Thirty years ago, plans were initiated to bypass the two-lane section of Highway 6 south of the 401 around Morriston, where traffic is literally backed up for more than a mile from time to time. For thousands of daily commuters, it's a critical part of Ontario's highway system, yet for the people of Morriston, it's also their main street. Waiting 30 years is "ridiculous," says Puslinch councillor Susan Fielding, who has been tireless in reminding government of this urgent priority.

A week ago today, I stood at the edge of the highway with Councillor Fielding and Mayor Brad Whitcombe of the township of Puslinch.

The community is saying to us, "We want this highway bypass built." They're asking, "What's taking this government so long?" They are asking, "When will it finally focus on this bottleneck in our backyard?"

On page 10 of the 2009 budget papers, we see it's possible. In the next fiscal year, this government plans to spend over $2 billion on highway construction, up from $1.7 billion this year. They plan to spend $300 million more next year. These numbers leave no room for excuses.

Surely after 30 years, it's time to give us a firm date for construction. Surely it's time to fix Highway 6.

JEAN COCHRANE

Mr. Michael Prue: Each and every year, the people of the Beach nominate someone to be their Citizen of the Year. This year, on September 26 at Millennium Park, they inscribed the name of the new Beaches Citizen of the Year, and I'm proud to announce that citizen is Jean Cochrane. Jean is a shy, some would say unassuming, person. Some would even wonder whether she had the wherewithal to be this winner, but they don't know her very well, because she is a volunteer extraordinaire in our community.

She has volunteered and is part of Senior Link, Neighbourhood Link. She was a member of the Toronto Historical Board, fighting to save important structures in the Beach and in Kensington Market here in Toronto. She was a member of Heritage Toronto. She was part of Heritage Toronto's book awards short list in 2000 for her book on Kensington. She's a fundraiser for the Leuty lighthouseâ€"which saved one of the great little architectural gems of the Beachâ€"and also for Maple Cottage.

She's a volunteer with the Beaches Synagogue lunch program, Friends of Toronto Public Library, Beach Metro news, and the Balmy Beach Residents Association.

She is an extraordinary woman, and all of us in Beachesâ€"East York are proud of the contributions she has made, and proud of the work that she and her husband, Glenn, have done in the Beaches over these many years.

BLACK CREEK PIONEER VILLAGE

Mr. Mario Sergio: Recently, Black Creek Pioneer Village opened its doors to the public for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Schmidt Dalziel Barn. This barn carries great historical significance. It is Ontario's oldest and largest barn and one of the oldest in North Americaâ€"I believe it is second.

This barn demonstrates the craftsmanship of the early German settlers without the use of modern machinery. Built in 1809, the Schmidt Dalziel barn is an architectural wonder, built entirely by the hands of Ontario's earliest settlers. It stood the test of time and functioned as part of a working farm for 154 remarkable years before it was turned into Canada's first architectural museum. I would like to acknowledge all the volunteers and staff who care for this Ontario landmark as they continue restoring it to its original glory.

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I encourage all Ontarians, particularly those who live in the Toronto area, to come and visit Black Creek Pioneer Village. There is nothing like it in Toronto, and it is an easy commute by transit and car. I assure you, when Torontonians visit the village they will be amazed by how much it has to offer: 40 heritage homes to explore, Thanksgiving dinner to share, and the brand new, one-of-a-kind Black Creek historic brewery. All visitors will be pleasantly surprised with what Toronto's own Black Creek Pioneer Village as to offer. Come, see, enjoy and explore Pioneer Village.

CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETIES

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: Throughout the province, the lives of vulnerable children are being put at risk because the McGuinty government has cut the budgets of children's aid societies while at the same time not allowing them to run a deficit. Locally, this means that the budget of my Family and Children's Services of the Waterloo Region has been cut while their operating costs have risen by 2%. This leaves them with a projected deficit of $1.5 million.

Why are the costs rising? Peter Ringrose, executive director of Family and Children's Services of the Waterloo Region, states, "In the last three months, we have a seen a significant increase in the children coming into our care." Mr. Ringrose points to family stress caused by the recession as the main culprit.

These agencies have a legislated mandate and responsibility to provide front-line care and protection to at-risk children, but the McGuinty government is not providing the support to allow the children's aid societies to do so. Today, I call upon the McGuinty government to provide support to these children. There are 550 children in the care of the Waterloo agency alone, and they receive 5,000 complaints a year about children being abandoned or abused. We cannot abandon these children. I applaud Mr. Ringrose and his staff for their difficult job and call on the Premier to help our vulnerable children.

FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

Mrs. Linda Jeffrey: I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Fire Prevention Week in Ontario and the men and women who serve as firefighters in our communities. This year's theme is "Stay Fire Smartâ€"Don't Get Burned," which focuses on burn awareness and prevention as well as keeping homes safe from the leading causes of home fires.

Firefighters are a vital part in keeping our communities safe. Daily, these brave men and women put themselves directly into harm's way to protect our families and our communities from the ravages of fire.

Just this past Sunday, as was mentioned earlier, a ceremony was held just south of Queen's Park to unveil a new memorial in honour of those who have died in the line of duty as well as those who died from illnesses related to years of working around fire-related smoke and flames. This year saw the addition of 28 names to the new monument, which now lists 500 names of men and women who have lost their lives.

A successful Fire Prevention Week campaign can help change people's behaviours and save lives, which will benefit all of our communities. Please join me in thanking our firefighters for their commitment to life safety.

DIWALI

Mr. Khalil Ramal: Once again, South Asians the world over are preparing to celebrate with friends and loved ones the festival of Diwali, the festival of lights. It is an auspicious time that is observed by people of many backgrounds, including Sikhs, Hindus, Jains and also secular South Asians. For the Sikhs, we recall Bandi Chhor, the liberator of 52 princes held as political prisoners in Gwalior Fort.

Diwali is also a time of thanksgiving, something which Ontarians at this time of the year can appreciate. We celebrate a successful harvest season and the many blessings we enjoy as the residents of this great province of Ontario. We welcome our families and friends into homes decorated with lights to share our festive hospitality.

On this occasion of Diwali, I invite my colleagues to join in the spirit of the season by offering their constituents best wishes for peace, prosperity and joy. Happy Diwali.

INSURANCE INDUSTRY

Mr. Tony Ruprecht: I'd like to raise the issue of credit scoring by insurers and the negative impact it's having on our constituents. This is about protecting consumers from the unfair practice of jacking up rates or denying coverage entirely, based on criteria which have nothing to do with their risk as a customer.

Despite a ban on the use of credit scoring in auto insurance, credit scoring is still allowed to be used in other lines of property insurance, including home insurance. Some companies are threatening to increase premiums or, worse, cancel home insurance if consumers do not provide consent to access their credit reports. As the result of a property policy being cancelled, their auto premiums automatically increase since they no longer qualify for a multi-policy discount. This practice discriminates against those who can't afford itâ€"newcomers, the unemployed and small business owners who have taken significant personal loans to start or grow their business.

There is a solution. The only way to protect the interests of the public is to ban the use of credit scoring for all personal lines of property and casualty insurance, not just auto insurance. I'm delighted that work has been done in that line, and we can all be happy that the government, in fact, is now producing a new policy.

At this stage, I would like to introduce to the Legislature some very special guests who are working on this issue, Dr. Huseyin and Mr. Soyler, who are in the gallery here. Congratulations.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I beg to inform the House that, pursuant to standing order 98(c), a change has been made to the order of precedence on the ballot list for private members' public business, such that Mr. Murdoch assumes ballot item 42 and Mr. O'Toole assumes ballot item 48.

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
GENERAL GOVERNMENT

Ms. Helena Jaczek: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on General Government and move its adoption.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Lisa Freedman): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 173, An Act to amend the Mining Act / Loi modifiant la Loi sur les mines.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed?

All those in favour will say "aye."

All those opposed will say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it. Carried.

Report adopted.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Pursuant to the order of the House dated October 6, 2009, the bill is therefore ordered for third reading.

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
JUSTICE POLICY

Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Justice Policy and move its adoption.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Lisa Freedman): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 183, An Act to revise and modernize the law related to apprenticeship training and trades qualifications and to establish the Ontario College of Trades / Loi visant à réviser et à moderniser le droit relatif à la formation en apprentissage et aux qualifications professionnelles et à créer l'Ordre des métiers de l'Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Agreed.

Report adopted.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Pursuant to the order of the House dated October 7, 2009, the bill is therefore ordered for third reading.

MOTIONS

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I believe we have unanimous consent to move the following motion: I seek unanimous consent to share the 12 minutes allocated to move the motion for second reading of Bill 86, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act, 1995, between the member from Welland, Mr. Kormos, and the member for Nickel Belt, Madame Gélinas.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Is there unanimous consent? Agreed.

You've all heard the motion. All those in favour will say "aye." Opposed? The motion is carried.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Brad Duguid: I believe we have unanimous consent that up to five minutes be allotted to each party to speak about Good Governance Week.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? Agreed.

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GOOD GOVERNANCE WEEK

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: This year marks the 200th anniversary of the first modern parliamentary Ombudsman, established in Sweden in 1809. To commemorate this occasion and to raise awareness of the contribution that provincial and territorial ombudsmen make to good governance, we wanted to acknowledge and speak to their declaration of October 12 to 16, 2009, as Good Governance Week.

The Ontario Ombudsman's office sent every MPP and constituency office an information package to advise them of Good Governance Week and to highlight the important role that MPPs play in referring complaints to the Ombudsman's office. Throughout this Good Governance Week, various provinces are hosting speakers, holding open houses and discussion groups, issuing new publications and even having a mini film festival to highlight issues of government oversight, human rights and fairness.

The idea of Good Governance Week is also an important time to look at what this government has done to increase transparency and accountability, and to truly embody the spirit of the term "good government." I would like to outline the steps we have taken since we have come to office in 2003 to renew Ontarians' confidence in government to make the changes they expect and deserve.

Our government passed groundbreaking legislation banning partisan government advertising. We have also expanded the powers of the Auditor General. The Auditor General must approve our financial books before an election so that no government can hide a deficit.

In response to a recommendation from the Information and Privacy Commissioner, we established the position of Chief Information and Privacy Officer. This position will provide leadership for the protection of privacy of personal information used by the government, within a broader mandate of strengthening information management practices government-wide.

This government has also introduced legislation to extend the Freedom of Information and Personal Privacy Act to publicly assisted universities. Hydro One and OPG were also brought back under FOI legislation.

Our government introduced legislation that makes Ontario a world leader in transparency by making real-time disclosures of political donations law.

In July this year, our government introduced new consulting rules banning sole sourcing of consulting contracts. All new Ontario government consulting contracts must follow a competitive hiring process, regardless of dollar value. Consultants will no longer be entitled to bill for hospitality, food, expenses or incidental costs.

In September of this year, we announced that expenses for cabinet ministers, political staff, OPS senior management and senior executives of Ontario's 22 largest agencies will be posted online beginning no later than April 1, 2010. We have also given the Integrity Commissioner the power to review the expenses of 22 of the largest agencies.

These measures we have taken since 2003 are the changes that Ontarians deserve and expect and have been lacking for too many years.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Office of the Ombudsman for their work in helping to promote awareness around the importance of oversight, accountability and the ways in which our government can keep improving, to better serve the needs of the people of this great province. The Ombudsman's role is a very important role. As Premier McGuinty put it in a letter to the Ombudsman on October 22, 2008, "You play a vital role in making sure the provincial government, at all times and in every way, works in the best interest of Ontarians and delivers services of the highest quality." This is what the Premier said.

I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak on this issue.

Mr. John Yakabuski: It's my pleasure to also speak to the motion. As the minister said, this is to mark the 200th anniversary of the first parliamentary Ombudsman, established in Sweden. You might recall, if you were around in 1975, our first Ombudsman was Arthur Maloney, who had long been regarded as one of the best lawyers in this country. But what you might not know is that Arthur Maloney came from Eganville, Ontario, which is in my riding of Renfrewâ€"Nipissingâ€"Pembroke, and the Maloney family and my family knew each other wellâ€"not myself, personally, but in the days of my father. They were, in fact, good friends. Arthur Maloney was a wonderful Ombudsman to set the table from 1975 to 1979.

We all are aware of the work of the Ombudsman and how important it is. In the last Parliament, the Ombudsman was instrumental in intervening when the Ministry of Children and Youth Services at that time was denying responsibility for funding to the Phoenix Centre for Children and Families with respect to military families. The Ombudsman's ruling in fact forced them to reverse their position. It's an example of how the Ombudsman's office can work to help people in the province of Ontario.

But I'm not losing the irony of the fact that the Ombudsman chose the week of a constituency break to declare good governance. He probably realized that, with the way things are going on in Ontario these days, that's likely the only week that there was hope we'd get some good governance in the province of Ontario, because these folks won't actually be here; the Premier won't be here sitting.

The minister wanted to talk about examples of good governance. I'm going to ask him: Is it good governance when you close down service centres on the 401 corridor so that truckers have no place to safely stop their trucks and motorists have no place to safely take a break? Is it good governance when you close those down? Is it good governance when you shut down drivers' licence bureaus here in the province of Ontario and take them out of the hands of private providers, who have been providing the best kind of service for 100 years in this province? Is that good governance? Is it good governance when you have millions of dollars in untendered contracts at eHealth that are beneficial to well-placed, known Liberal fundraisers and Liberal Party friends? Is that good governance? I ask you folks over there to reflect on this during the week of the break.

Is it good governance when you have bloated expenditures at the WSIB, where the chair has to pay back around $15,000 that he had previously billed to the taxpayers of the province of Ontario, and the only reaction from the Minister of Labour is, "Ho-hum. Too bad, so sad"? Where were the walking papers there? Is that good governance? Is it good governance when the Premier's DNA is all over his hand-picked CEO for eHealth, Sarah Kramer? Is it good governance when he makes the call and then wants to duck behind the ministers and duck behind PricewaterhouseCoopers, which they never actually even contracted? Is it good governance when they come before this House and tell us they're signing a contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers and don't do anything about it? Is that good governance?

When the Premier says, "The buck stops here," the passing of the buck that has gone on in this government, I'm reminded of that nursery rhyme. You know the nursery rhyme:

Georgie Porgie, quite a guy.

He said, "You take it, David," then waved good-bye.

He said to his boss, "'I can't pay,

"I'd like to be the mayor someday."

That's how the buck has been passed around here at eHealth so that the minister who is really responsible, George Smitherman, is getting a free ride here and Minister Caplan was thrown under the bus. Seventy per cent of those contracts were under George Smitherman's watch. Where is the oversight of that? Why is he not being brought to task for that good governance, I say with tongue in cheek?

My colleague from Simcoe North talked about Fire Prevention Week. That's exactly what has been going on in this House this week: fire prevention on the part of the government. But every time they try to hide one scandal behind another, all they're doing is fanning the flames of their own misfortune, and they're making it worse. It's time for this government to come clean; it's time for this government to admit that it is wrong. As the Premier said, those who were at the bat should be made to pay.

I'm going to ask all members of this House, particularly those on the government side, to have a very, very happy Thanksgiving but reflect on what good governance really is when you take that break next week. When you come back a week later, let's get on with some good government here in the province of Ontario.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: It is ironic: Here we are, at the request of the Ombudsman, celebrating Good Governance Week, and I only wish we could have good governance in the province of Ontario. If we take a look at what has been happening over the last little while, we have quite the situation. We have $1 billion of expenditures that have been basically misspent in the province of Ontario. Imagine, if you will, $1 billion. I want you to think about, in your budget, what that would mean for you back homeâ€"$1 billion. You couldn't spend it all in a lifetime if you tried, but these people managed to spend it in pretty short order by giving untendered contracts to all kinds of people without any real RFP process.

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The government says, "Oh, we're going to tighten up the process. We're going to fix this by putting in place systems, processes and policies to prevent that from happening." I want to remind people that those processes and policies were already there. Do you think that the government of Ontario, and the agencies that are funded by this province, don't already have policies that say, "You're supposed to have an RFP, a request for proposal, whenever you spend public dollars"? Of course there is. It's there. The problem is, people have been going around it.

So I find it really ironic that we're here today to talk about good governance, when what you've got is good policies in place that say, "Yes, there must be RFPs, there must be requests for proposals for any expenditures over a certain amount of money," and what you've got is people within those particular agencies or the civil service orâ€"who knows?â€"within the realm of the government itself, as far as the political part of it, going around the rules and saying, "Well, we can hide a deputy minister's salary at the Ministry of Health by showing some of the money in her expenditures at the ministry and in the estimates of the ministry, but we'll just go around this rule that already exists that says that we can't do that and we'll go hide it in a hospital budget somewhere in Hamilton." Or somebody says, "It's okay to tender a $12-million contract to some firm, and we can give it to somebody we know that we feel very comfortable with, and where we say, 'We're pretty cozy. They showed up at my last fundraiser. They must be nice guys'"â€"and to give out that particular contract as a result of what is, in my view, some patronage. So for the government and the Premier to stand, as I've been seeing over the last week, and say, "We will put in place the processes to prevent this from ever happening in the future," I say to you that the processes are already there; the problem is, people have been going around them.

If we were serious about having good governance, we would be listening to what the Ombudsman has been asking us for, and that is to give him oversight over hospitals. Imagine if you had oversight over hospitals: You might have been able to detect some of the stuff that we're seen as of late a heck of a lot earlier.

When a person has a complaintâ€"and we have them in our constituencies; there's not a member in this House, on either side of the aisle, who has not had a complaint from a constituent in regards to something that has happened in their hospital. Is it because the hospitals are bad? No. They're large organizations and at times things go amok, and you have to have the knowledge to know that somebody is able to take a look at what is going on when it comes to the governance of that hospital, the decisions as to what happens as far as patient care, so that we can take a look and learn from mistakes that have been made in the past. The Ombudsman has been asking us for many years to give the Ombudsman the ability to have oversight over hospitals, and the government has refused.

Not to speak of children's aid: How many of you get a call on a weekly basis in your constituency offices on children's aid issues? Now, it's not to say that the children's aid organizations are crooked; I don't argue that for a second. They work really hard. I'm not saying that they're maliciously going out and trying to do something wrongâ€"that is not my point. But again, they're very large organizations that have large budgets, and they have to make decisions about children's and families' lives. Does the Ombudsman have the ability to go back and take a look at what is going on within those agencies when it comes to a specific complaint? No. They come to your office and mine and say, "MPP, can you please call and help me with this issue and try to resolve this issue with the children's aid?" I don't mind doing it and I know you don't mind doing it. That's why you were elected. But, God, we need to have some sort of oversight so that people understand that whatever they do is done in a way that is clear and transparent, so that at the end, we know that we have some confidence in the system.

So I say again, it's very ironic that today we celebrate Good Governance Week, because if you take a look at what's happened over the last while, with whoever the Minister of Health was yesterday and whoever it might be tomorrow, we certainly know that good governance is something that we should get and that should happen. Even though the systems are there, this government decides to go around the rules that exist.

PETITIONS

PENSION PLANS

Mr. Jim Wilson: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas several paramedics in Simcoe county had their pensions affected when paramedic services were transferred to the county of Simcoe, as their pensions were not transferred with them from HOOPP and OPTrust to OMERS, meaning they will receive significantly reduced pensions because their transfer did not recognize their years of continuous service; and

"Whereas when these paramedics started with their new employer, the county of Simcoe, their past pensionable years were not recognized because of existing pension legislation; and

"Whereas the government's own Expert Commission on Pensions has recommended that the government move swiftly to address this issue; and

"Whereas the government should recognize this issue as a technicality and not penalize hard-working paramedics;

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

"That the Minister of Finance support Simcoeâ€"Grey MPP Jim Wilson's resolution that calls upon the government to address this issue immediately and ensure that any legislation or regulation allows paramedics in Simcoe county who were affected by the divestment of paramedic services in the 1990s and beyond to transfer their pensions to OMERS from HOOPP or OPTrust."

I agree with this petition and I've signed it.

DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES

Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition from the good people of Sudbury: 200 names to be added to the 2,000 already presented. It's for PET scans in Sudbury.

"Whereas the Ontario government is making ... PET scanning, a publicly insured health service available to cancer and cardiac patients under conditions where PET scans have been proven to be clinically effective; and

"Whereas by October 2009, insured PET scans will be performed in Ottawa, London, Toronto, Hamilton and Thunder Bay; and

"Whereas the city of Greater Sudbury is a hub for health care in northeastern Ontario, with the Sudbury Regional Hospital, its regional cancer program and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to make PET scans available through the Sudbury Regional Hospital, thereby serving and providing equitable access to the citizens of northeastern Ontario."

I fully support this petition, will affix my name to it and send it to the table with Carlos.

FERTILITY TREATMENT

Mr. Tony Ruprecht: I have a petition for full funding of in vitro fertilization. It's addressed to the Parliament of Ontario and to the Minister of Health. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the prevalence and growing incidence of infertility in our population is a medical issue that demands the attention of our public health care system and should be placed on the agenda for funding;

"Whereas fertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization, is a proven medical solution that is unfairly limited to those with the financial means to pursue it and it should receive significant coverage through the Ontario health care system as soon as possible;

"Whereas in vitro fertilization should be fully funded when deemed medically necessary, without discrimination based on cause or gender; and

"Whereas it is long overdue that financial assistance for fertility treatment be offered to Ontarians. We are residents of the province of Ontario and request that the Ontario provincial government address this important issue.

"We, the undersigned, strongly support the inclusion of financial assistance by the Ontario Ministry of Health under the Ontario health care program for all fertility treatment for Ontarians, male and female."

Since I agree, I'm delighted to sign my signature to it.

TAXATION

Mr. John Yakabuski: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas residents in Renfrewâ€"Nipissingâ€"Pembroke do not want the McGuinty Liberals' new sales tax, which will raise the cost of goods and services they use every day; and

"Whereas the McGuinty Liberals' new sales tax of 13% will cause everyone to pay more for gasoline, for their hydro, cars, heat, telephone, cable and Internet services for their homes, and will be applied to home sales over $400,000; and

"Whereas the McGuinty Liberals' new sales tax of 13% will cause everyone to pay more for meals under $4, haircuts, funeral services, gym memberships, newspapers, and lawyer and accountant fees; and

"Whereas the McGuinty Liberals' new sales tax grab will affect everyone in the province: seniors, students, families and low-income Ontarians;

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

"That the McGuinty Liberal government not increase taxes for Ontario families."

I support this petition, I affix my name to it and send it downâ€"which will probably be the last interaction I haveâ€"with page Nicole.

SERVICES DIAGNOSTIQUES

M. Gilles Bisson: « Attendu que l'Ontario fait de la tomographie par émission de positons (TEP), un service de santé assuré par le régime public pour les patients atteints du cancer et de maladies cardiaques, lorsque les données cliniques indiquent que cette technique est efficace dans leur cas; et

« Attendu que d'ici octobre 2009, des TEP assurées seront effectuées à Ottawa, à London, à Toronto, à Hamilton ainsi qu'à Thunder Bay; et

« Attendu que la ville du Grand Sudbury est une plaque tournante pour la santé dans le nord-est, qui compte l'Hôpital régional de Sudbury et son programme régional de cancer, de même que l'École de médecine du Nord de l'Ontario;

« Nous, soussignés, demandons à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario d'offrir de la TEP par le biais de l'Hôpital régional de Sudbury, donnant ainsi un accès équitable aux résidents du nord-est de l'Ontario. »

Je signe cette pétition.

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PROTECTION FOR MINERS

Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition from the people of Kapuskasing.

"Whereas current legislation contained in the Ontario health and safety act and regulations for mines and mining plants does not adequately protect the lives of miners, we request revisions to the act;

"Lyle Everett Defoe and the scoop tram he was operating fell 150 feet down an open stope (July 23, 2007). Lyle was 25 years and 15 days old when he was killed at Xstrata Kidd Creek mine site, Timmins.

"Section R-60 (page 60 of Mining Regulations)" ... states that, "A shaft, raise or other opening in an underground mine shall be securely fenced, covered or otherwise guarded'.... The stope where Lyle was killed was protected by a length of orange plastic snow fence and a rope with a warning sign. These barriers would not have been visible if the bucket of the scoop tram was raised. Lyle's body was recovered from behind the scoop tram.

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

"Concrete berms must be mandatory to protect all open stopes and raises;

"All miners and contractors working underground must have working communication devices and personal locators;

"All equipment involved in injuries and fatalities must be recovered and examined unless such recovery would endanger the lives of others; and

"The entire act must be reviewed and amended to better protect underground workers."

I support this petition, will affix my name to it and send it with page Jacob.

TAXATION

Mr. Norm Miller: I have a petition to do with McGuinty's new sales tax. It reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the McGuinty government is planning to merge the 8% provincial sales tax and the 5% federal sales tax; and

"Whereas the new 13% sales tax will be applied to products and services not previously subject to provincial sales tax such as gasoline, home heating fuels, home renovations, haircuts, hamburgers, television service, Internet service, telephone and cell services, taxi fees, bus, train and airplane tickets, and dry cleaning services; and

"Whereas rural and northern Ontarians will be particularly hard hit by Mr. McGuinty's new sales tax, as will seniors and families;

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

"That the McGuinty government should remove the new sales tax from its 2009-10 budget."

I support this petition.

HOSPITAL SERVICES

Mr. Ted Chudleigh: I have over 10,000 names on this petition from the good people of Milton.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the town of Milton is the fastest-growing community in Canada, with a population that is expected to surpass 100,000 by 2014; and

"Whereas the Milton District Hospital is designed to serve a population of 30,000" people; and

"Whereas young families, seniors and all residents of Milton are currently unable to access quick and reliable health care; and

"Whereas the excellent doctors and nurses at Milton District Hospital are constrained by unacceptable conditions and a lack of resources;

"We, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to immediately approve and initiate the process to expand Milton District Hospital and to provide adequate interim measures to prevent further suffering for the people of Milton."

I'm pleased to sign this petition and pass it to page Alyssa on her last day.

PRIVATE MEMBERS'
PUBLIC BUSINESS

LABOUR RELATIONS
AMENDMENT ACT
(REPLACEMENT WORKERS), 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 MODIFIANT LA LOI
SUR LES RELATIONS DE TRAVAIL
(TRAVAILLEURS SUPPLÉANTS)

Mr. Kormos moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 86, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act, 1995 / Projet de loi 86, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1995 sur les relations de travail.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.

Mr. Peter Kormos: I seek unanimous consent to share those 12 minutes with my colleague from Nickel Belt.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? It has been agreed to.

Mr. Peter Kormos: A well-known comment that has been around with us for approximately a century, and I'm quoting now:

"After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab.

"A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumour of rotten principles.

"When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.

"No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

"Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British army. The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellow men for an unfulfilled promise from his employer.

"Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and his class."

That's what Jack London had to say back in 1905. Almost a century has gone by now, and those words, those comments and those observations are as relevant as they ever could be. The greatest single impediment to fair collective bargaining is scab labour. The largest single source of injuries on a picket line is scab labour.

Here in Ontario we had a brief period of time after 1990 where the New Democrats were in power and scabs were outlawed, like they are in some other jurisdictions in this country. The absence of labour unrest during that time when anti-scab legislation was in effect was remarkable. When there were strikes, they were shorterâ€"or, even worse, lockouts. I believe sincerely, the New Democrats believe sincerely and working women and men believe sincerely that scabs are an abomination.

No worker ever joins the picket line willingly. Let's make that very, very clear, because when you're on a picket line, you're out there day in, day out. If it's wintertime, when winter's approaching, you're out there in the coldest of winter days and in the slush and the snow where you never get warm and your feet never get dry.

Collective bargaining takes place at the bargaining table. To allow corporate bosses to circumvent, to avoid, collective bargaining at the table by importing scabs is once again an outrage. I believe, New Democrats believe, that as long as scabs are allowed in the province of Ontario, strikes will be longer and lockouts will be longer.

Why, for the life of me, would anyone want to be a scab? Well, in the type of economy that we've developed, where there are more and more unemployed and people are earning lower and lower wages, sometimes family heads, women or men, feel compelled to take any job at any price. But they're very short-sighted, because the effect of scabbing, especially now, when the theme in labour relations by the corporate world is to end defined benefitsâ€"pension plansâ€"and when the agenda of the corporate world is to reduce wages and when the agenda is to reduce workforcesâ€"scabs simply join with that agenda. They endorse it and they support it and they advocate for it and they make that agenda possible.

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I call on my colleagues here to support this legislation. Ohâ€"dare I say it?â€"I'm quoting a number of Ministers of Labour. This one truly will bring labour relations into the 21st century. It's about time, Speaker, and I appreciate your patience with me.

Interruption.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Order. I'd just remind members of the gallery that we welcome you here to Queen's Park, but we'd ask you to refrain from participating in the debate.

Mme France Gélinas: It is also an honour for me to be part of second reading of Bill 86, an act designed to amend the Labour Relations Act in order to ban the use of replacement workers during a strike or a lockout.

What exactly will be banned is that the employer could not use any of the following persons to perform the work done by the bargaining unit members who are on strike or lockout. They could not use an employee or a volunteer who ordinarily works at another of the employer's places of operations; they could not use "a person who exercises managerial functions, whether paid or not, who ordinarily works at a place of operations other than" the workplace where the strike or lockout is taking place; they could not use "an employee or other person, whether paid or not, who is transferred to a place of operations" where the strike or lockout is taking place; they could not use a person, whether paid or not, who is "supplied to the employer by another person or employer." Basically that's all the bill does. It ensures that there is no replacement worker.

We did a little bit of research on strikes in Ontario. Let me tell you that there have been 219 strikes or lockouts in Ontario in the last couple of years. I have looked through, and it has affected all 107 ridings. I'll name a few: in the city of Guelph, the Toronto Humane Society, Community Living Mississauga, Rainy River District School Board secondary, Thames Valley District School Board, Toronto Transit Commission, Durham Region Transit Commission, Lanark County Interval House, Cornwall city paramedics, University of Toronto, Durham District School Boardâ€"I'm not flipping fast enoughâ€"Community Living Chatham-Kent, Elgin Association for Community Living, Middlesex Community Living, Community Living Prince Edward, York Region Children's Aid Society, Carleton University, Hearst Power Distribution Co. Ltd., Chateau Ottawa hotelâ€"that's the Sheraton Hotel in Ottawa, the city of Kawartha Lakes, Algoma Community Legal Clinic, Sudbury Community Legal Clinic, the town of Marathon, Waterloo region women's crisis centre, Mississauga Toyota, InnVest Hotel in Etobicoke, Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries, University of Sudbury, Timiskaming health unit, University of Windsor, York services, Falconbridgeâ€"also in Sudburyâ€"Estrada Nickel, York University, Burlington Technologies, the city of Welland, Stock corp. in Kingston, University of Toronto, Mike Doyle in Sudbury. The list goes on and on. I have pages of them. I want to show you that strikes happen in each and every one of our communities.

Those strikes affected 200,195 workers. In the last two years, 200,195 families have been affected by a strike. Those strikes range in length from half a day to thousands of days. On average, a strike in Ontario lasts 46 days. They have led to 3,165,000 lost productivity days.

What the bill is trying to do is bring fairness. It is trying to bring the parties back to the table sooner, because only at the negotiation table will you get a fair deal, a fair agreement.

The bill we have in front of us will affect people in each and every one of your ridings. I'll give you the pages if you're interested. I guarantee you we've checked already and 107 ridings are represented. You've all had strikes. You've all had people in your ridings walk the picket line, who could come to their MPP and ask for help. Well, we are very fortunate to be in a position that we can afford those people some help. We are very fortunate to be in a position, as MPPs, that we can pass a bill that will help bring both parties back to the table so that they negotiate a fair settlement quicker. All of those 219 strikes I've talked to you aboutâ€"all of those 200,195 workers have all gone back to work; they have all found a settlement. But that period of time when a strike goes on and on, where there is risk of escalation of the conflict between the two parties, is not good for the workers and their families, is not good for the employer and the supporting businesses, is not good for your communities.

Today you have an opportunity to help all of those people here who stand in the gallery. You have an opportunity to help your constituents, because you've all been affected by a strike. All you have to do is vote in support of Bill 86. Voting in support of Bill 86 won't mean that people can't go on strike; it won't mean that the right to strike will be taken away. All it would mean is that the length of the strike will be shorter so that Ontario will be more productive and the escalation won't take place. I hope you will support it in second reading, and I count on you on third reading also.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate? The honourable member for Brampton West.

Mr. Vic Dhillon: Thanks to the member from Welland and the member from Nickel Belt for their advocacy for workers. We all share a common goal in advancing fair labour relations in Ontario.

I know that labour disputes can sometimes be difficult and that they have a great impact, not only on the parties at the table, but on the families and friends of the impacted workers. That is why my focus and the focus of our government is to make sure that we get the parties to the bargaining table. Our Ministry of Labour mediators, who are some of the best in the world, have been working with the parties in trying to assist them in their efforts to reach an agreement.

The province of Ontario has one of the strongest labour relations records in Canada. Last year, over 95% of Ontario's negotiations resulted in a deal without a strike or lockout. The most recent of these studies examined over 4,000 contracts negotiated at large private sector companies in Canada from January 1967 to March 1993. The results, heavily influenced by Quebec's experience, reveal that the average duration of a strike is 86 days if the hiring of replacement workers is forbidden, and 54 days in the absence of such measures. I believe that the best agreement is one that is made at the collective bargaining table.

This bill not only prevents the hiring of new workers to perform work of the unionized workers involved in a work stoppage, it also prevents the use of current employees, whether unionized or non-unionized, from a different location being transferred to work at the location impacted by the work stoppage. For example, an employer could not transfer workers from its Brampton store to work at its striking store in Etobicoke.

It's important to note that although the Premier has committed that the government will not hire replacement workers to perform the tasks of unionized employees involved in a work stoppage, there has never been a commitment to not use other government employees to perform the work of striking employees.

This private member's bill will also prevent striking employees from being able to cross the picket lines and return to work during the strike. More recently, we saw several hundred city of Toronto workers return to work during the strike. This bill would take away a striking employee's right to decide whether to continue striking or return to work.

1400

Another difficulty I have with this bill is how it would relate to municipalities that are in the midst of a strike. For example, last summer the city of Toronto workers went on strike. Under this proposed bill, managers who normally perform at a particular location would be allowed to perform the work of the striking workers. However, the city could not be prevented from reassigning managers to other locations to work there. Therefore, temporary dumps not located at established dump areas could only be staffed by managers who normally perform work on the property where the temporary dump is located. For example, a recreation manager at Christie Pits who normally manages the baseball diamond and the pool and skating operations would be the only manager able to work at the temporary dump. Managers from other locations would not be able to work there under the conditions outlined in this private member's bill.

For these reasons, I cannot support this bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill 86, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act, 1995, which basically prevents an employer from replacing striking or locked-out employees with replacement workers.

This issue is one we have been debating for some time. In fact, I can remember standing in this House on November 5, 1992, when we were debating Bill 40, which had been introduced by the Bob Rae NDP government. One of the provisions at that time was to ban replacement workers during a strike or lockout. That was when this initiative was first introduced. At that time, it appeared that the objective of Bob Rae's NDP government was to shut down any company that was on strike as completely as they possibly could. Obviously, if they were able to do so, it would render the employer quite helpless.

At that time, Bob Rae and his government said that the ban on replacement workers was working well in Quebec, and that there had been no adverse consequences. We subsequently discovered that that wasn't quite the case. They talked about less violence, and a lot of the information they brought forward was not quite as factually accurate as they portrayed it.

But at the time the legislation was introduced by Bob Rae's government, we heard from a lot of employers who were very concerned about the impact of this ban on replacement workers. It was also a time in the history of this province when we were seeing, I guess, similar slowdowns in the economy. We were seeing the loss of a lot of jobs, just as we're seeing under the McGuinty government today. It became abundantly clear that if we were going to introduce this ban on replacement workers, employers were telling us that they were not likely to expand their operations in Ontario. People were telling us that they were not likely to move new companies and businesses into Ontario. So it certainly appeared at that time that the introduction of that particular section on replacement workers was going to have a very negative impact on the economy. In fact, a study at that time by Ernst and Young indicated jobs would be lost. It also indicated that billions of dollars in investment could be lost over the next five years as well.

Despite this, the Bob Rae government did move ahead with that initiative at that time, and that was the end of the first round. Then came 1995, and that was when the Conservative government took over in the province of Ontario. Certainly, all of the, I guess, messages that had been communicated when Bill 40 was introduced regarding the possible impact of the replacement worker ban had come true. The economy had further deteriorated. We were continuing to see the loss of jobs from the province of Ontario. All hope was gone for many young people because there weren't jobs and people were not locating in Ontario, just as had been promised in studies that had been undertaken, that if we were going to have this ban, Ontario was not the jurisdiction of choice.

Our government, in 1995, when we were electedâ€"our very first piece of legislation was Bill 7. What we were attempting to do was to make this province, once again, open for business. In other words, we wanted to make sure that the employers who already had businesses in the province of Ontario would be encouraged to expand their businesses and create new jobs. We were looking forward to seeing people from outside of Ontario, whether the United States or elsewhere in the world or another province, move into this provinceâ€"again, to create new jobs in the province of Ontarioâ€"so we introduced Bill 40. I would say to you thatâ€"we introduced Bill 7, sorry; we were trying to do away with the consequences of Bill 40.

Bill 7 was a bill that was introduced in November 1995 and passed. It was our very first piece of legislation, and it had the intended consequence in that it did open the province of Ontario to job creation by the private sector. There was a tremendous amount of job growth, and there was new hope and opportunity for many of the laid-off workers and certainly for our students who were graduating, whether from high school, training programs, colleges or universities. There was opportunity. So it was a good initiative in order to help with job creation.

We all know that we need job creation. As we did then, we need it today, because what we're seeing today is that if you don't have job creation, if people don't have jobs, you see that taxes that are paid to the government, whether personal or corporate, decrease, and we don't have the necessary funding that we need for health care or for education or for social services. We also know that if you don't have jobs being created and see only job loss, as we're seeing today in the province of Ontario, there's greater pressure put on these social services in the province. We're certainly seeing that today.

In fact, I referred to an example earlier this afternoon. The government has reduced the amount of funding for our children's aid societies, but they've done so at a time when there are more children at risk than ever before because their parents have lost their jobs. There's more stress within families, and so we have more children at risk, we have more children, unfortunately, who are suffering abuse and neglect, and we have more children in care.

This bill that we have before us todayâ€"as I say, it's old ground. We covered it in Bill 40, Bob Rae's bill. We covered it in Bill 7, the bill that was introduced by the Harris government in 1995. I know that the member is well-intentioned; however, this bill, if it was moved forward and was supported and passed, would certainly have the potential of tipping the balance of power towards labour. The scale would not be as equal as it is today in any labour negotiation.

I would say to you that, despite the fact that the bill is well-intentioned, I think we need to recognize that employers in Ontario have already suffered greatly. There's a lot of red tape. There are many, many challenges, and we need to make sure that employers in the private sector can continue to create jobs. Because when you think about the 330,000 jobs that have been lost under this McGuinty government; when you take a look at all the young people who are graduating from our colleges, our universities our high schools, our training programs who don't have a full-time job, we certainly need to ensure that we provide an environment for job creation.

1410

I would not support moving back to the past; I think we need to move forward. I hope that both employers and employees can continue to work in co-operation together. Certainly, we need to make sure that there are opportunities for all people in this province, and so I cannot support this bill as it's currently structured.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: It's with great pride and pleasure that I rise today to speak in favour of the bill that was introduced by my colleagues Mr. Kormos and Ms. Gélinas.

There is no doubt in my mind that the necessity for anti-scab legislation in this province is greater now than it has been in quite a long time. I say that because we see the attack on workers that's happening in this province by multinational corporations, many of which are employers of the workers who are in the galleries today. What is happening is a tragedy, because the companies are coming into this province, and they're telling these workers that they want to change the culture of the workplace.

What does that culture look like in Ontario? That culture is a culture where workers have dignity, where workers are treated with respect, where workers are able to earn wages that provide a decent standard of living for them and their families. It's a culture where workers are able to bargain at the negotiating table with their employers for things like pensions and health benefits for their families. That is the culture that we have in this province, a culture where workers can go to work in the morning and come home and be safe in the evening because we have health and safety standards in this province.

Granted, there's always room for improvement, and every worker knows that there's room for improvement, particularly when it comes to health and safety.

Nonetheless, what we see right now in this province is these companies that are coming in and telling workers, "You are no longer able to expect to receive the very things that you have negotiated after decades and decades of bargaining at the negotiating table. Not only can you not expect that anymore, but we'll put you on a picket line, and we'll have other workers come in and do your jobs until we break the backs of you and your union sisters and brothers." That is a shame in this provinceâ€"an absolute shame.

Interruption.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): I don't want to have to continually interrupt the honourable member who has the floor. I again ask the visitors in the gallery to refrain from clapping. We welcome you here, but the honourable member does have the floor, and we need to listen to her.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: This is why we have brought this legislation forward. This is why New Democrats believe that now is the time, more than ever, to bring back to the province of Ontario a scenario where we provide that fairness, if you will, in the collective bargaining process, that fairness that levels out the power relationship between the employer and the workers.

Why do I say that? Because we know very well where the employer has the utmost piece of power, and that is the fact that they pay the wages of those workers. They pay the benefits, oftentimes copayments with workers. But they have that power in terms of the livelihood of the worker.

What does the worker have? The worker has their labour. When the workers are in that negotiating relationship, the only power they have is the ability to withdraw that labour, to bring the employer to the bargaining table and make sure that that employer has an interest in settling that dispute. Without that dispute being settled, the employer will no longer be able to undertake business and will therefore suffer financially as a result, the same way that workers suffer financially.

I think the member from Brampton West said in his initial remarks that sometimes labour disputes can be difficult. Labour disputes are always difficult. They are always difficult for workersâ€"absolutely alwaysâ€"no doubt about it. There are workers on the line right now. There were workers on the line months ago and years ago, and there are going to be workers on the line in the future. What we want to say to these workers and what we believe needs to happen in this province is that scabs should not be able to cross the picket line and do your work while you are trying to fairly negotiate a collective agreement with your employer. That's what this legislation is about, and that's why we support it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Wayne Arthurs: I'm pleased to be able to join in the debate this afternoon during our private members' time on Bill 86, introduced by the member from Welland. The bill, as we're well aware of at this point, is An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act, 1995. A couple of things: First to say that I think everyone in this place understands and those in the workplace understand that a decision made either by a union to take a strike action or by an employer to take an action to lock employees out is always a difficult decision for all those involved, those in the workplace or their families, employees, management, suppliers, customers. It's never an easy decision to make, regardless of which direction one would take.

We heard the parliamentary assistant for the Minister of Labour acknowledging earlier that this is private members' hour; it's a time for private members' debate but also an opportunity, obviously, to bring forward matters that have broader Legislative Assembly appeal as well. But the parliamentary assistant, I think, was pretty clear in his comments that at this point in time the government does not have any intention to bring forward legislation of this nature as a government matter; thus this opportunity to debate it in this format.

The member for Kitchenerâ€"Waterloo provided, in my view, a good historyâ€"I wasn't here during all of that time, obviously; I arrived in 2003â€"a history, some of which obviously I was not privy to at that point, but I think an articulate history of what has transpired. Among the points she made is that it was only during one time of government that legislation of this nature has been in place; that prior to that government, the government of the day, whether at that point it was a Liberal government, a Tory government or a coalition government for a short period of time, didn't have legislation of this nature in place nor did they bring it forward at that time. Subsequent to the time when the legislation was in place, during the Bob Rae NDP government of the early 1990s, the next government took it out of play, and the current government has retained that particular position.

There have obviously been strikes, as the member from Nickel Belt pointed out, probably affecting in some fashion each and every one of our constituencies during any given period of time. The broader reality is, though, that for the vast majority of time, strikes are settled, lockouts are settled by negotiation at the table.

History shows that over the past few years labour-employee relationships, with the support of the Ministry of Labour and mediation, as the case might be, have resulted in negotiated contracts rather than strike action. I would note some of the references she made to those strikes. A fair number of those were public sector strikes. For whatever reason, those were ones that occurred.

Time is always shortâ€"the bit of time we have. I'm not going to be supporting this piece of legislation, this private member's bill that has been brought forward at this point in time. I think we have established and continue to work with employers and employees to find settlements, that they work together to find settlements in their contractual disputes as opposed to having legislation of this particular nature in place.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Paul Miller: I'll start off by saying that I've been a proud Steelworker for over 30 years with 1005, and I'm standing beside my brothers and sisters; I'm standing behind the people who are the backbone of this province.

I want to tell you what happened when I lobbied for the United Steelworkers in Ottawa a couple of years ago. They brought anti-scab legislation across federally to the people of this country. The NDP presented it. They had meetings with the federal Liberal Party. I was there. The Liberal Party ministers promised to support it; when the vote came to the Legislature, they would support it. In the House of Commons, they would support the anti-scab legislation. I was there that day. Half the Liberals didn't show up; half of them left. They back-doored us. They did not support us. They stabbed us in the back.

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Now you, as provincial Liberals, have an opportunity to support the people of this province. We're giving you that opportunity today. Don't turn your backs on the workers of this province. And I'll tell youâ€"

Interruption.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Again, I don't want to interrupt the honourable member, but please refrain from clapping.

Mr. Paul Miller: I'll continue. I'll just tell you that I, from Hamilton, have been through strikes. My parents went through the 1946 strike, and I'll tell you, it pitted families against families. It pitted brothers against sisters, cousins against cousins and towns against towns when they brought in scab labour. They even had houses burned, people threatened, damage to property. These are the types of things that scabs bring to a community. It breaks the back of the community. When I started in that plant in 1972, there were still guys in that plant that people were calling scabs and wouldn't talk to, 25 years later. That's what it does to the social fabric of our communities. You're ruining us, and you'd better start standing behind the people of this province, because they're going to tell you in 2011 who they're behind.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: It's awfully interesting that we have a lot of silence on the other side of the House and within the opposition to even speak to this debate. We've listened now to the government give us the reasons why they can't support it, and we've listened to the reasons why the Tories don't support it, and the conclusion I make: They're two peas in the same pod. It's no different, a Conservative or a Liberal; when it comes to standing up for workers, they've clearly chosen what side they want to be on, and I think that's wrong.

I'm proud to say, both as a New Democrat and a proud Steelworker, that I stand with the workers all the way, because I believe "justice" means to say that you have to have an ability to make sure that there is settlement at the bargaining table. To make that happen, we have to ensure that we allow no scab labour on the picket line, because when that scab labour is there, it really keeps people away from the bargaining table.

Je veux seulement dire très vite, parce que je n'ai que 30 secondes, qu'on a souffert, nous autres, dans notre région de Kap à cause de ce qui est appelée la tragédie de Reesor Siding. Il y a eu une grève dans les années 1950 ou 1960 quand les travailleurs remplaçants sont entrés sous la « picket line ». À cause de ce qui est arrivé à Reesor Siding, il y a du monde aujourd'hui, comme dit mon ami M. Miller, qui ne se parlent plus, et il y a eu du monde sur qui on a tiré et qui ont été assassinés sous cette « picket line ». C'est quelque chose qui est très difficile. Il faut avoir des lois dans cette province qui disent qu'à la fin de la journée tous les travailleurs ont du respect et le droit d'utiliser leurs droits démocratiques.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: This act gives me hope, because working people in this province for decades have fought for decent lives, and it is their sacrifice on picket lines, in the heat of the summer and the frigid dark of the winter, that has made it possible for working people to buy a decent home and to send their kid to university. My father is a proud member of CUPE in Hamilton. As a kid, he told me he always voted for a strike mandate, because only if you were able to strike could you talk to the employer with any leverage.

What's happening in this province is a rollback of working people and the gains they've made over a century. And working people, people who work at Cadillac Fairview, members of CEP, people who work at Vale Inco, members of the Steelworkers, are on the front lines in Ontario trying to make sure that we have a future, that our children have a future, that this province has a middle class that can live a decent life.

I want to say: That's the larger picture, but there's a very close picture at hand right now, and that's that replacement workers will be going into the mines in Sudbury. They will be doing work that they do not have the training for, and only with extraordinary luck will death and maiming of people be avoided. The people who are here today are fighting for themselves and to make sure that no one is killed in a stupid incident on the job. We need this legislation.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Michael Prue: There's an old union song. It goes: "Which side are you on, boy?" And I'll tell you which side I'm on: I'm on the side of the workers. And I'm on the side of the workers because the workers and the unions that represent them got together more than 100 years ago to help the vulnerable. Today they help women and immigrants and the young and the poor to get and maintain a decent job, a decent standard of living. The whole question of this bill is one of power and fairness. The boss is always the boss, and the boss is always going to be the boss, but the only time that the workers and the union are able to do anything about it is at the time of collective bargaining. If they cannot sit down as equals, then they cannot bargain successfully. If we want change in this society, if we want the vulnerable and the poor to have an opportunity, then we have to change the legislation that was brought in by Mike Harris.

We can, as a government, as a Legislature, continue in the deepest darkest days of Mike Harris and continue with this legislationâ€"or the new Harris-like regime of Dalton McGuinty that doesn't seem to want to change it. But I will tell you, we need to make that change. Right today, people are going to the Supreme Court of Canada to fight for farm workers so that they have decency where they work. This government, the government opposite, is opposing them at the Supreme Court of Canada, and it's just what you do. I'm telling you, find a spine over there, vote for this legislation and tell Dalton he's wrong.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): The honourable member for Willowdale.

Mr. David Zimmer: I want to make two points. First of all, this province has worked very, very hard to achieve and maintain labour peace. In a strike situation, this province does everything it can to resolve that strike. You know, there's this idea that replacement workers can just be brought in, holus-bolus, without any safety requirements or anything and replace striking workers. In fact, if an employer takes on a replacement worker, there are very strict requirements that that replacement worker has to meet. It's the employer that has to make sure that the replacement worker meets those standards. There are occupationalâ€"

Interruption.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Order. I just remind people that we could clear the galleries, but we only have a couple of more minutes of debate and then Mr. Kormos's windupâ€"

Interruption.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Stop the clock. Remove the offending member from the gallery.

Interruption.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): We'll take a two-minute recess.

The House recessed from 1428 to 1431.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): The honourable member for Willowdale has the floor.

Mr. David Zimmer: Anyway, my main point was what we were doing and the great things that we've done to have healthy, meaningful and very workable labour management relationships, with the assistance of the Ministry of Labour and all of the other resources that the province can bring to bear. I want to point out two facts just because I think it's important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

In 2008, 97% of collective bargaining arrangements were resolved without a work stoppage. We're talking about 3% of bargaining arrangements that end up in a strike situation. That's a very, very small number. The officials from the Ministry of Labour have got tremendous resources available to them to assist to resolve these disputes.

The second point I want to make is the economic effect of a ban on replacement workers. John Budd, department of human resources at the University of Minnesota, refers to a March 2000 study that made the point that there is a significant reduction overall in the gross employment numbers in a jurisdiction that has banned replacement workers.

John Budd and Yijiang Wang, in a textbook, point out that "replacement worker measures also have adverse effects on investment levels." Using provincial data from 1967 to 1999, it has been proven that the investment rate in provinces with replacement worker bans is 25% lower than in provinces without such legislation. That lack of investment, that reduced investment, translates directly into fewer overall jobs. That's the bigger picture.

Peter Cramton, and Morley Gunderson and Joseph Tracy, in a text on strike replacement bans in Canada, looked at 4,300 contracts negotiated in private sector companies in Canada from 1967 to 1993. They showed that the average duration of a strike is 86 days where there is a replacement worker ban; it's only 54 days where there is not a replacement worker ban.

Finally, a December 2008 study by Morley Gunderson, who is CIBC chair in youth employment at the University of Toronto, concluded that where there's a legislative ban on using temporary replacement workers, three things have occurred: double the likelihood that the strike will last longerâ€"in fact, the strike will usually last 50% longer than in those jurisdictions where there is no banâ€"

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Thank you.

The honourable member from Welland has up to two minutes for his response.

Mr. Peter Kormos: Needless to say, I appreciate the participation in this debate by the members who did.

Mr. Zimmer tells us that approximately 3% of labour disputes result in strikesâ€"I presume that's strikes or lockouts. I want to make it clear: No worker has ever wanted to go on strike; they don't get paid. Also, take a look at the numbers that came out of the city of Toronto after a reasonable, although unnecessarily [inaudible] period of picket lines. The mayor is now faced with the conundrum of what to do with all that extra money he hasn't paid out in salaries.

Let's also take a look at company histories. There are companies that are 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years old that have never had a strike, and then there are other companies that seem to have work stoppages every single contract. That, Mr. Zimmer, is far more telling than Minnesota-based statistics.

The right to withdraw one's labour is a fundamental right in a democratic societyâ€"it's fundamentalâ€"otherwise we return to the antebellum period in the South where plantation owners owned their workers; now, I suppose, bosses merely rent them. But that concept, as I say, is one that defies democratic principles, undermines the right of workers to collectively bargain and has not served this province well. Disputes have to be resolved through the course of negotiation, and I put to you that negotiated resolutions are far healthier ones and the ones that are going to survive. I support this legislation, of course, and I'm confident that a whole lot of Ontarians do as well.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): We will vote on this ballot item in about 100 minutes time.

FINANCIAL LITERACY

Mr. Charles Sousa: I move that, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario recognize the importance of financial literacy education, and that the Ministry of Education undertake steps to include financial literacy in our elementary and secondary school curriculum.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Mr. Sousa has moved private member's notice of motion number 109. Pursuant to standing order 98, the honourable member has up to 12 minutes for his presentation.

Mr. Charles Sousa: It's a pleasure to rise today to talk about my resolution regarding financial literacy. The purpose of my resolution is to help prepare our young people to make informed financial decisions.

I dare say that not enough is being done to teach kids about financial basics. More and more, people are becoming aware of the need for financial literacy education. Personal finances are high stakes. They affect everything we do. People require knowledge to make good decisions. As such, we in government need to do a better job of preparing young people.

Financial literacy skills are a crucial tool for that success. I would envision them to cover things like student loans; mortgages; budgetingâ€"just managing cash when they get out of school; setting goalsâ€"let them start planning for retirement now, enable them to start early; even doing tax returns at school, so that they can understand after-tax planning and deductible interest costs when making their financial decisions.

People often learn financial basics anecdotally. Sometimes that teaching can be predatory. We're fortunate in our school system. We have great teachers, and we have great volunteers as well, organizations like Junior Achievement where students and others come to help them with company programs and even class programs. We have the Investor Education Fund, which runs an excellent program in schools and is well-received. Social and Enterprise Development Innovations, SEDI, has also started the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy, which is working to educate all Canadians, young and old. As such, and with that in mind, government needs to play a role as well.

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In the end, the goal I see is to minimize the intimidation of finance. There's a growing consensus that financial literacy education is the right thing to do. On June 26, the federal government announced a task force on financial literacy. That task force is there "to help create a cohesive national strategy to support initiatives across Canada aimed at improving financial education." Manitoba is working toward financial literacy in schools as well, and they've already started. It was announced in September 2007.

Financial literacy education has a number of benefits. Our government has put forward an aggressive poverty reduction strategy. I believe financial literacy plays a role in reducing poverty in Ontario. We want consumers and those most vulnerable to have better choices so that there will be fewer people in financial difficulty. Without an understanding of compound interest, for example, people may get caught in a spiral of debt. Oftentimes, people overlook things like planning for retirement, as I've said. People should be given the tools necessary to make better financial decisions so as to prevent possible bankruptcies and/or foreclosures.

During the poverty reduction round table meetingsâ€"I hosted a number of them in my riding and in my community. The issue that came about was one that suggestedâ€"and I heard this many times from a number of stakeholders. They told me that better knowledge of financial basics can go a long way toward helping people improve their financial circumstances.

Governments can also benefit from people making better and more informed financial decisions. Fewer people in financial difficulty means more people working more productively, and it reduces demand on social services, which means we have more money available to invest in Ontario's future. The Premier has a term for this: He calls it "enlightened self-interest." We want everyone to be at their best. We want everyone to enjoy the same opportunities. A better understanding of financial basics is good for economic growth and it benefits all Ontarians. It means increasing our investments. It means increasing consumer activity.

Financial literacy also plays a role in our government's consumer protection mandate. If financial literacy is adopted, people may be able to make better decisions and avoid exploitation. Often, many consumers learn from someone who is trying to sell them something. When people lack that information, they may make poor decisions. For example, what, indeed, are the total costs embedded in a leasing instrument or a no-payment sales event? Education can prevent people from using predatory lenders and help them understand the present value of their money.

I had the honour of serving as parliamentary assistant to the Honourable Ted McMeekin in his former role as Minister of Government and Consumer Services. As part of my responsibilities, I worked on Bill 48, the Payday Loans Act. I became very aware of the concerns facing the more vulnerable in our society during those deliberations, and the greatest concern involved lack of information and understanding. So included in those provisions was the requirement for a consumers' education fund.

Financial literacy leads to greater understanding of the available resources that are there in the marketplace. It helps to enhance personal wealth and, ultimately, our prosperity. It also helps to prepare for estate planning and even insurance as forms of financial instruments that people should understand.

This also has a direct benefit to our economy. Informed choices will lead to fewer excesses. We've just experienced, over the last year and a half, a global financial crisis. Subprime deals and a number of highly leveraged situations created havoc around the world and here at home. It's important that people understand the degree of leverage that they assume so that they can lessen that risk or assume it if they wish, but provided they have an educated amount of understanding as to what they are assuming so that they can understand their respective level of risk tolerance.

Financial literacy is a big issue and it covers a wide array of topics. Topics that I see that could be included in a financial education course would include, first and foremost, attitudes and values, so people have a sense of comfort in dealing with the issues of finance. It's a very complicated term, it seems, but it doesn't have to be. People should understand how they can use financial planning and budgeting to their advantage and how they can invest effectively through savings and having those investment basics understood, and again, how to file their taxes. Let these students in high school establish themselves in our society by filing their taxes, and even balancing their books and understanding their banking basics, so they can reconcile their cheques and understand and manage their cash and their money.

Then you go on to understanding fringe and alternative financial services such as leasing and even payday loans. Ultimately, our goal is to have consumers with informed choices who understand their issues, and having our young people immediately understand the issues around credit ratings and scores. Their credit scores will have a profound impact on their entire lives. So we want them to avoid the financial woes of the global marketplace while protecting their own particular instances.

Credit cards could easily be one topic in a financial literacy course, and it should be. People should understand at a young age the positive and negative aspects of credit. They should understand the importance, as I mentioned, of building a credit score and their credit rating for their future opportunities. They should also understand the difference between a credit card and a charge card. Enable them to pay off, or suggest to them that they should be paying off, their credit balances in full at the end of the month for the amounts that they use and avoid getting caught in the spiral of debt.

Don't be afraid of a credit card. Understand its merits and benefits and understand that you need access to credit and funds for future years. I recognize and appreciate that Ontario teachers are supportive of the principle of teaching financial literacy in our school. I have a number of quotes of support already and I'll go through them in a moment. I also understand and support their desire to be included in the curriculum development process. It's important to clarify that I'm not advocating a particular method for introducing financial literacy in the classroom. I encourage education workers and the Ministry of Education to work together to determine a strategy that works best for education workers and students.

Some examples that could be included in the elementary programs would be in the math classes. In the secondary programs it would be in accounting, economics and, of course, in math classes. But it's important to note that it's not a one-time lesson. Financial literacy education should be an ongoing process. This is about building a foundation for lifelong learning.

As students leave school and enter the financial marketplace, they will be faced with a number of important and complex decisions. The goal of this resolution is to better prepare Ontario students to make those decisions. Along the way it's crucial that we continue to engage education workers to develop programming that works for teachers and students. What we all want is to prepare and protect our youth and lay the foundation for a lifetime of effective personal financial management.

I have with me a few visitors: Vivian McCaffrey from the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, Craig Brockwell from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and Tom Hamza, president of the Investor Education Fund, and his associate, Chris Allum.

Just to reinforce, here's a quote from the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario: "Recent economic problems related to our overextension of credit underlie the importance of promoting financial literacy throughout the population. At the elementary level, ETFO believes that age appropriate lessons can be developed and integrated into the existing curriculum of kindergarten to grade 8."

Tom Hamza, the president of the Investor Education Fund, says, "We strongly support changing the curriculum to include financial literacy education. We support motion 109. It moves us closer to the goal of ensuring that future generations of Ontarians are better equipped to financially protect themselves and will help citizens to become more confident and effective when managing their finances."

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I have one more quote from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation: "OSSTF approves Mr. Sousa's resolution in principle, if as it states, financial literacy is included in the existing elementary and secondary curriculum.

"We believe that our students should understand how to manage their money effectively."

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: It's a privilege to be able to speak here today on this motion. Obviously, it's a useful thing in this society for our young people to develop financial literacy. Certainly at the elementary to secondary levels, that kind of education is something that would keep them in good stead for the rest of their lives. It would help students protect themselves, and as adults, hopefully, it would allow them to spot a Bernie Madoff when one walks down the street.

Students need skills to manage their personal finances. They need to learn the skills to manage a household, to budget properly, to make sense out of the numbers they deal with on an everyday basis and to deal with their household budget so they're able to actually meet their commitments, ensure that their mortgages are paid, that their rent is paid, that there are groceries on the shelves and, frankly, that they are to keep themselves afloat without having to deal with payday loans.

As you may know, Speaker, in the past, in grades 7 and 8 the family studies program used to teach children about buying, budgeting and preparing food. That was cut by the Harris government and, inexplicably, has not been restored by the current government. I see the initiative by this private member as perhaps part of a recognition that there's a legacy there that needs to be rolled back in a variety of fields, and this is one of them. Restoring the program that existed previously for grade 7 and 8 students would be a good start to increased financial literacy.

Children need to learn about comparison shopping. They need to go out there and figure out which cellphone plan works best for them, and they need the education to do the numbers so they do, in fact, get a good deal. For those who have dealt with younger people and their cellphone bills, I am sure that my words of wisdom are particularly resonant because they too have leafed through the 10 to 20 pages of bills, and their hair has whitened to an even greater degree than it had been before.

Children need consumer skills and information because they're being targeted by advertisers at an earlier and earlier age. Young people have to make decisions about immediate purchases as well as long-term purchases. Young people need to understand tax rates, how taxes are calculated. For instance, an understanding of the tax system will enable young people to better understand the implication of events such as those which occurred at OLG and with eHealth. If they understand what those numbers mean, they understand the implications of spending $30 billion without tendering a contract. They realize that it isn't just a distant issue that they don't fully understand, but one that they can comprehend number by number by number.

We would encourage programs which would allow young people to calculate and understand the implications of the harmonized sales tax and determine exactly how much the HST is going to cost them. Clearly, if they have financial literacy, they'll be able to go out there, look at prices and understand where those prices are going to jump substantially. They're going to be able to track the claims that have been made that producers will actually pass on the savings they have in their reduced taxes.

My sense, Speaker, and you may well be aware of this, is that the experience in other jurisdictionsâ€"and I would cite the VAT that was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the UKâ€"it that very clearly there was no reduction in prices that was passed on to the public. People just saw another level of cost.

Young people have to be warned about the danger of credit card fees. They need to understand the implications of interest compounding at 12%, 14% and 19% a year. They need to be aware of the dangers posed by payday lenders. Again, we're talking about interest rates compounding at very, very high levels. If they're not familiar with numbers, if they don't know how to calculate interest, if they don't know what paying back 20% and 30% on a loan really means, then frankly their budget can run away from them.

Students need to be able to work out the long-term costs of student loans to realize that increasing the limits on OSAP is not the answer to rising tuition. I have to say, even without programs of financial literacy, most students understand that simply giving them bigger loans is not the solution to the affordability of education. They may not be able to calculate it to the penny, but they know that they're being stuck with an incredibly large burden, one that will be very difficult to pay off if there are not the well-paying jobs that one needs to actually carry such debt loads.

Students must learn about mortgages, rates of amortization and the impact that even a small increase in interest rates can have. Students need to master basic banking skills: writing cheques, managing a bank account, maintaining different types of bank accounts, online bankingâ€"all of those things that you need in daily life in this province. They also need to be aware of debt management options that are available if they do get into trouble.

Financial literacy should include some career planning and the establishment of realistic financial expectations. Grade 7 and 8 guidance teachers need to provide many of these things. Certainly, increasing the number of guidance teachers who can sit down with students on a one-to-one basis and go through these things that I've talked aboutâ€"student loans, credit cards, setting up your first household when you leave homeâ€"all of those things would be to our advantage. And having more guidance teachers in our schools would be part of a program to actually deliver on this resolution.

The priorities that we see are: In elementary grades, the emphasis should be on the calculation of financial costs and outcomes; in secondary grades, there should be more analysis. The goal, clearly, is not to turn all of our students into investment bankers. In fact, I think given what has been going on on Wall Street and Bay Street in the last year, there may not be as many investment banker positions as there have been in the past. But our goal has to be to teach our students, our young people, how to protect themselves and make sound financial decisions. It's important because, clearly, a lot of parents have not been in a position to pass on those skills to their children, have not been in a position to actually go through the details. We need to have an education system that actually does make sure that people can run their lives responsibly, without putting themselves at risk with extraordinarily high levels of debt.

We hope that such programs would encourage students to ask questions about our economic system and, particularly at the secondary level, ask questions like, how sustainable is this system and what's the impact of our economic system on the environment? Financial literacy is not just a question of calculating rates of interest, rates of return, rates of profit, but also comparing cost implications. You may or may not know, but many years ago the city of New York had to make decisions about providing itself with fresh water. They had a choice to invest in a large and complex system of pipes and reservoirs or buy a large section of forested land north of the city which acts as the headwaters for streams and groundwater flowing into New York used for their water supply system. They calculated that it was cheaper to buy the forest and hold it in trust so that it could capture and filter and provide water to the city of New York. Understanding finances, understanding numbers, can be as important to protecting our natural environment as any other sector of knowledge, as important as biological knowledge.

Young people need to know the social implications of our financial system. When large numbers of people are trying to live on a few hundred dollars a month, on Ontario Works or ODSP, there are consequences to that. There are health care cost implications. There are implications with regard to addictions, mental health. There are implications with regard to criminal activity. Frankly, there are implications with regard to people getting extraordinarily ill, and in some cases dying in bus shelters in this city. An understanding of the numbers and an understanding that making investments in social services can have huge beneficial effects on society as a whole is something that our students need to have.

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They should be taught how financial institutions can be regulated to protect investors. Clearly, if you look at the realities in the post-financial crash world, the regulation system in Canada, which was constantly fought by bankers, did a lot better job in protecting investors than theâ€"what can I call it?â€"free-for-all in the United States and the UK.

In order to implement such a system, the first step would be to see which of the areas that we're interested in are being covered in the curriculum now and assess the degree to which additional topics could be integrated into existing curriculum. The current elementary curriculum does not have any roomâ€"no, it has limited room for additional demands, so what's needed to implement such a resolution is to look at existing courses and see how, within the context of teaching math, teaching people how to set up their households, they can also be taught the financial realities of life. And secondary school lessons about finance can be incorporated into math, business or computer courses.

We know that the curricula in schools now are already carrying a heavy load. So to do what's suggested, there's going to have to be a fairly intelligent analysis of how that integration can take place without driving other worthwhile material off the table.

In the end, if this resolution is to go forward and do something that's useful, there's going to have to be collaboration with parents, with teachers and with boards of education, and there has to be an acknowledgment that there's already considerable demand being placed on our education system. When we ask that more work be done by the education system, simple math tells you that there has to be greater investment. The investment is not there now. Far too often, schools are stripped down to the basicsâ€"losing librarians, music teachers, art teachers, phys ed. That has to change, that has to be reversed, and it's my hope that a generation of young people who know how to calculate the numbers will be in a better position to fight for decent schools in this province.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: I'm very pleased to respond to the resolution that has been put forward. I would indicate to you that I certainly support this resolution put forward by the member from Mississauga South. Basically, the resolution is calling on the Ministry of Education to include financial literacy education in Ontario's elementary and secondary school curricula. It doesn't prescribe how it will be included. Rather, it is encouraging the Ministry of Education to work with all of the education stakeholders to determine how we would best move forward. I would agree that that's the best way to achieve the goal.

The member also says that not enough is currently being done to familiarize Ontario students with financial concepts. Having just listened to the member who spoke, I would certainly agree. Our young people today face many more challenges, and unfortunately they are not familiar with financial concepts. As a result, we're seeing a lot of young people with debts who face some real challenges in their lives and also don't quite understand the financial system.

This issue of financial literacy was one that I had identified myself when I recently became the education critic for the official opposition, and I know it has the support of my leader as well. So we need to consider it for inclusion into our curriculum, as the member has suggested. The stakeholders need to be involved in working with the ministry, and I would agree that it is absolutely critical that our students have a solid foundation and a complete understanding of finances. In fact, there are currently personal financial literacy courses in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere. If we take a look at how we can embark upon our course of action, we could take a look at these other jurisdictions and we could incorporate some of the best practices.

There's also a growing interest in Canada in supporting the development of financial literacy. For instance, we have the Department of Finance, Industry Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, and the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, who have all recommended that we should be focusing more attention on financial literacy. There's a recommendation that we need to upgrade our knowledge of financial literacy.

Indeed, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's improving financial literacy survey concluded that financial understanding is low among consumers across the OECD countries, especially among those individuals who have less education and those at the lower end of income distribution, and so financial literacy is becoming an issue of very increasing of importance for people throughout the world and in Canada.

Part of the reason that financial literacy is important in Canada today is because Canadians are living longer. People are going to have to be able to save their money and they're going to have to understand their finances. As well, employment practices are changing in Canada. Financial products are becoming more complex and much more difficult for ordinary Canadians to understand. Regrettably, the personal savings of Canadians are decreasing while their level of personal indebtedness is increasing. So there is a need for all of us to become financially literate.

Our demographics are changing. We have an aging population in Ontario, and the life expectancy of Ontarians is increasing, so everyone is going to have to save more in order to be able to cover their living costs as they live longer into their retirement. Very few people today have pensions, so people are going to be required to save for their own years of retirement.

Now, the one good thing I can say is that up until recently the savings rate in Canada was better than it was in the United States. But regrettably, at the same time, savings rates in both countries have been declining. According to Statistics Canada, rates peaked at 20% in Canada in 1982. However, by 2005, the personal savings rate of Canadians had plummeted to only 1.2% of disposable income.

As I said before, this is all happening at the same time as Canadians are accumulating more debt. Indeed, consumer debt today is at an all-time high. Statistics Canada says the per capita debt of Canadians has risen more than five times over the last 25 years, from $5,470 in 1980 to $28,390 in 2005. Also, employment trends are changing, and as I've already pointed out, fewer people have pensions, fewer people have benefits and fewer people have access to long-term employment.

The experts are now telling us that Canadians are probably going to suffer from a lack of funds into their retirement years, so I think it becomes more important than ever that our students become financially literate as early as possible, capable of understanding all that goes on in the world of financial literacy and able to ensure that they can save for themselves into their retirement.

Earlier this year, the Canada Pension Plan said that Canadians are not saving enough for retirement. CPP CEO David Denison says that action is urgently needed, because unfortunately people aren't going to be able to maintain their current standard of living. Of course, CPP only provides a maximum of $11,000 a year per recipient, and Denison tells us that that's only about a quarter of what is needed during retirement. A 2007 study by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries indicated that 11 million Canadians don't have a company pension.

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Another trend that is taking place is that financial products are more complex. Just as today's world is complex, so is the financial world when compared to that of a generation ago. Forty years ago, a simple understanding of how you could look after your savings and chequing account was all that you needed. Now you have to differentiate between a wide range of consumer products and services and providers of those products and services. You have to understand credit as well as the impact of compounding interest, and also the implications if you mismanage your credit accounts. We are seeing the increase of financial products, and at the same time consumers are being given more choice with respect to fees, interest rates and maturities. It's very difficult for the average consumer to be able to assess the complexity and the choice of the financial products available to them.

For instance, let's take a look at the asset-backed commercial paper and the risk behind that. Very, very few people understood that. That, of course, is the financial product that enabled lenders to peddle their toxic mortgages to Americans. This is the same financial product that led to the downfall of the Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers and the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Let's hope that's behind us, but it certainly demonstrates what happens when not everybody is financially literate.

Financial literacy is a priority. It is a priority for us in the province of Ontario, and it's certainly a priority, as I've already indicated, because other governments, such as in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, are taking steps to make the consumer, make the student, more financially literate. We need to follow suit.

In Australia, they have an Understanding Money website that reflects a concerted attempt to support educators by developing curriculum materials, by establishing standards for quality materials and by adopting curriculum guidelines. It says, "Financial literacy is important for all young people to help them manage their personal finances in their increasingly complex, consumer-driven worlds."

The Commonwealth Bank Foundation commissioned research to find out how informed Australians were, and obviously they did come up with some findings that indicated more needed to be done.

I want to conclude my thoughts by simply saying that financial surveys from several countries show that the majority of children and adults learn how to handle their personal finances through trial and error. That is unacceptable in this day and age when you consider that 72% of Canadian youth today have a credit card, and many of these young people, who are freely given a credit card and receive it in the mail even before they begin their adult lives, also start to accumulate debt and are never, ever able to get out from under it.

If we want to ensure that our children will have a bright and a prosperous financial future, then we, as a government, must ensure that our children, at all levels, are given the opportunity to learn about finances and also how to plan their personal finances throughout their lives.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate? The honourable member for Willowdale.

Mr. David Zimmer: I am very pleased to support this resolution.

In our schools, when a student graduates at the end of their program in grade 12, they have studied social studies; they have studied gender studies; they have had courses in sex education; they have had courses in diversity studies; they have had courses in conflict resolution; they have had courses in family life. But one of the things they don't get is some training in what makes the real world go round, and one of the things that makes the real world go round is the use of money, of currency.

Why is that important? Because by the time the student graduatesâ€"and they might be 17 or 18 or 19, getting into their early 20sâ€"they're in the adult world, they have jobs, they have some money, and now they have to deal with things like getting a credit card. If they get a credit card, then they should know things about what happens if you have a late payment on your credit card, how that triggers interest. That interest can be compounded. It can be simple interest. There are various other penalties. They get into the whole issue of making their first purchase, which might be an automobile, and they purchase the automobile on credit. Then they have to know all the things about credit and lease payments. As they get a little older and they startâ€"hopefully, they'll want to get married and they'll want to buy a house. They've got to know something about mortgages and the affect of savings. Then they're starting to plan for their retirement, and they should know all of those things.

The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people who graduate in our high school systems have no degree of sophistication, not even a minimal degree of sophistication, about how to manage their money. You know, there were children that grew up in families many, many years ago where there was kind of an etiquette around the family table and in the family that one did not discuss money matters. Typically, that was left to the father in the family. He dealt with the money issues. That's the sort of environment that I grew up in. Frankly, when I graduated from high school, I went on to university; I got a degree. I went on to law school; I got a law degree; I started practising law. And I still did not have the rudimentary knowledge of how to manage financial affairs.

There were some cases when I found out the hard way, when I had my first experience dealing with interest and mortgage payments and so on. When I reflect back, one thing that I would have dearly loved, in addition to all of the other studies that I had, was some training, some education, in financial literacy.

I think the ability to deal competently with money matters is one of the significant aspects of citizenship. When we look in the paper, when we follow the news, when we read novels, when we see plays, how often do we see or how often have we heard stories where the family conflict or the relationship conflict is triggered by money matters? Really, a lot of that conflict could be eliminated, we'd have better citizens, if everyone had some core grounding in financial matters.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jeff Leal): Further debate?

Mr. Rick Johnson: I'm pleased to stand in support of this motion. I would like to thank the members from Mississauga South, Torontoâ€"Danforth, Kitchenerâ€"Waterloo and Willowdale for the insights that they provided this afternoon.

As most of you know, I spent many years on school boards. I've talked to many parents and many trustees over the years who have recognized this as an issue that should be part of our curriculum, and I commend the member for Mississauga South for bringing this forward.

I have two children who are now in college, and it's remarkable to seeâ€"I guess, as parents, we tend to do too much for themâ€"now that they're in college, the constant questions, e-mails: "What do I do here? What do I do there?" But they're getting it. It's coming around now.

There are big problems, as was mentioned earlier, with credit cards, where many of the young people who have credit cards, as they approach their limits, suddenly get their limits bumped up, which can lead to tremendous financial issues.

I urge with this, if we're developing curriculum, to take advantage of the knowledge that our teachers have in this area. It's one thing to say, "Let's do this"; it's another thing to actually do it. I trust that the teachers that the member for Mississauga South mentioned are supportive of this. I know that they will be able to do this. I have worked on many committees over the past few years with various teachers' federations. I know that Vivian McCaffrey from ETFO is here. We served on a violence-in-the-media committee, which had great coverage and great support across the province.

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Regarding what we can teach students, and the financial knowledge that will be out there, imagine a situation where we have a government introducing a new tax reform. Students will have the knowledge to be able to stand up and weed through the information that's coming at them and will be able to look when they hear someone saying that it could be a massive tax grab. They'll actually have the knowledge to go in, look at the tax reform that is being proposed, analyze it and see that it is good for the province. And do you know what? Knowledge is power for those people who have that knowledge of financial wherewithal to deal with it, because young people are the ones who are going to be successful in life.

Teaching children and our students about financial planning is crucial to their overall success in life. If you have that knowledge, the world is going to open up to you. Also, teaching them to make decisions, and how decisions can affect their livesâ€"Barbara Coloroso, the author, had this great line that I heard years ago: "Make sure you teach your children to make intelligent decisions, because someday they're going to have to make a decision about you, and you want to know that they're going to make that right decision."

Because credit is so easily available today, having that knowledge in the hands of the students I think is crucial. It will be tremendous for our ongoing society if the children have that knowledge of taxes and the ability to say, "You know what? These policies that are coming forward, in issues like the HST and other issues coming forward"â€"having that knowledge and the ability to stand up and say, "This is good," rather than having to rely upon what the media tells them I think will be good for our country and good for the future of our students. I'm very pleased to stand here today and support this motion.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Tony Ruprecht: I'm really delighted that the member for Mississauga South introduced this motion, because it affects every one of us. Financial statements are like an albatross around the neck of each one of us, and now certainly students. I thought, sitting here, how does this bill affect me personally and you personally? In fact, how does it affect every student personally in the schools? That's why it's important to introduce literacy that has a base in finances.

Two students from two different families go to the car lot and try to buy a car. One student is told, "The car you want to buy is going to cost you, in the end, $12,500, including interest." The other student buys a similar car and he only has to pay $9,800. They say to each other, "Wait a second. We're two students; one has to pay so much more, roughly $3,000 more, than the other. Something is wrong. What is it?"

What we find out is that almost 45% of adults found an error on their credit report, from the spelling of their names to making an inquiry, which means they then have to pay much more interest. We're being very directly affected by this, and I think it's terrible that this one student had to pay almost $3,000 more simply because of an error or because of the mother's financial history.

I have some other statistics that are of great interest. Guess what: 43.4% of the people of Canada have received a phishing contact, which means that someone is sitting out there on a computer trying to get your numbers, whether it is a birth certificate, whether it's a passport number, whether it's a credit card number or these kinds of private individual numbers to cheat you out of your money, to take your money away. Imagine that. That's 43.4%, and 6.8% have been victimized. In fact, they found on their credit card another item that they hadn't even purchased and they had to pay for it. In fact, I was victimized about six years ago. I found that someone in Texas had bought a computer. It wasn't my computer and I had nothing to do with it. If we don't even check, if we don't have the financial rudiments and ability to even check our credit cards and see what charges are on the credit card, we're going to be in big trouble. So I'm delighted, of course, to support this bill.

I want to tell you something else. What's important here is that we and the students understand the difference between a credit report and a credit score. The credit report is available to each one of us for free; it costs nothing. But if you wish to know your credit score, you have to pay $21.95. Why is that? Why shouldn't that be free to us? So I make another recommendation to the member for Mississauga South: Let's also ensure that the credit score is open to everybody so we can know without having to pay the money for it.

It's terrible that we don't know our credit score. Why? Because whatever my credit score is, high or low, that will determine whether my loan for a car or my mortgage for a house is going to be thousands of dollars more on my credit card.

This is a really important motion. The financial rudiments, I say today to the member from Mississauga South, must be taught in an interesting fashion in the schools, and I thank him for introducing this legislation.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Mr. Sousa, you have up to two minutes for your response.

Mr. Charles Sousa: I'd like to thank my colleagues from around this Legislatureâ€"the honourable member for Torontoâ€"Danforth, who rightly said that we have to collaborate with teachers in putting forward an implementation of such a motion.

I'd also like to thank the honourable member for Kitchenerâ€"Waterloo for her recognition of the global and the macro implications that we're facing and how important such a motion would be in that respect, and that it is in fact a priority going forward.

Thank you also to the member for Willowdale for talking about preparation for our young students. I have three wonderful children going to school now, one in elementary, one in high school and one in post-secondary. We all want our children to be prepared and armed for success. And like the member for Haliburtonâ€"Kawartha Lakesâ€"Brock said, knowledge is indeed power.

The member for Davenport, in talking about comparative shopping and the concerns about identity theftâ€"again, education plays a role in enabling people to understand those issues. More importantly, the member spoke about credit scoring and students establishing a strong credit rating to prepare themselves for the future and understanding the implications of that credit score as they go forward.

I'd like to also thank the visitors to the gallery: Vivian McCaffrey, who is here representing the president, Sam Hammond, from the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontarioâ€"I thank them for their support in this motion; as well as Tom Hamza, the president of the Investor Education Fund, who has also provided support for the motion. I thank them both for being here.

As students leave school and enter the financial marketplace, they will be faced with a number of important and complex decisions. The goal of this resolution is to better prepare Ontarian students to make those decisions.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): We will vote on this ballot item in approximately 50 minutes.

FOREST INDUSTRY

Mr. Wayne Arthurs: I move that, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should aggressively promote the use of Ontario wood products in residential and commercial construction throughout Ontario in order to support the more than 63,000 direct jobs and the 130,000 people who owe their livelihood to Ontario's forest industry.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Mr. Arthurs moves private member's notice of motion number 110. Pursuant to standing order 98, the honourable member has up to 12 minutes for his presentation.

Mr. Wayne Arthurs: One might wonder, I guess, why a member who sits in the Toronto caucus and has one foot firmly planted in Toronto on one side of the Rouge Valley and the other foot firmly planted in Durham region and Pickering on the other side of the Rouge Valley would bring forward a resolution in regard to Ontario's forest industry.

I'm going to explain why that is in just a moment, but just prior to doing that, there are a few people I would like to introduce who have taken the time to join us here this afternoon: from Ontario Wood WORKS!, Marianne Bérubé, the executive director; Steven Street and Max Torossi, both technical directors. In addition, we're joined by Craig Marshall, the president and principal of Marshall Homes; and from my office, Bill Hepburn, who has been assisting in bringing the resolution together and bringing the folks here. Thank you for joining us.

Last month, in mid-summer, I had the opportunity to attend in Oshawa an event displaying a home that was being built by Mr. Marshall and Marshall Homes, one which was highlighting the fact that this particular home was being built with only Ontario wood products. That didn't seem to be overly significant to me at that point. I've known Mr. Marshall for some time. He does very good work in our communities. I understand the minister was going to be there, so I figured it would certainly be an opportunity to continue to show my support for work going on in our communities.

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Minister Gravelle was there, our newly minted Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry in this case, along with other leaders with respect to the forest industry and related industries, including Jamie Lim, who's the president and CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association, and Stephen Dupuis, who's the president and CEO of BILD, the Building Industry and Land Development Association, as well as the folks from Wood WORKS!. They all took the time to be there.

One would say, "Why be at an event for a home being built in the greater Toronto area? What's so terribly significant about that?" During the event, the announcement really was about the fact that this particular home was a home being built with all Ontario wood. In Ontario, surprisingly, a large amount of the product that goes into homes and into commercial construction is from outside of the province. We have an industry in Ontario that's second only to the auto industry in significance in the form of employment and generating revenue and activity in the forest industry, and yet the vast amount of materials that are being used in Ontario in homes and commercial construction come from somewhere other than here.

Today close to 200 families rely on the forest industry for their livelihoods. The forest industry remains second only to the automotive industry for its impact upon the province. There are some 300 Canadian communities that can be described as heavily forest-dependent, having at least 50% of their employment based in the forest-related industries, in the forest sector. Only about 30% of the product going into Ontario homes comes from Ontario, and it makes eminent sense that we should look and see what we can do to improve that situation.

In the GTA alone, home builders purchase some $800 million of lumber annually to frame wood homes. If we move the figure of 30% of product to something closer to 100%, that could be a shot in the arm in this province for that industry, just from GTA building alone, of over $500 million.

The residential sector is really only one part of the equation, because the non-residential or the commercial sector is significantly important. Ontario's non-residential construction represents about 42% of the national total of the non-residential and multi-storey permit value. That's a huge amount of construction here in the province of Ontario, and we're not using home-grown products for that purpose.

In 2007, the total non-residential market in Ontario was valued at some $11 billion. The quantums in the scale are really very, very significant. For the most part in those sectors, both the residential and the commercial sector, we probably take it for granted that we're gaining an awful lot of that activity within Ontario industries. In fact, we're not. In fact, the majority of this is coming from somewhere else.

Some market research that was done only three or four years ago, in 2006, revealed that there's a potential to increase wood consumption by four times the current level here in Ontario for these particular kinds of functions we're talking about. Through some urban intensification and through the use of stick or wood construction for buildings at four, five and six storeys, if it were allowed, we could dramatically increase the amount of product that they would be using locally.

Currently, the Ontario rules, as I understand them, allow for wood frame construction to a maximum of four storeys. It was only a few years ago in my own riding of Pickeringâ€"Scarborough East that the Parkway Retirement Residence was built as a four-storey wood frame construction building, and I recall the discussion that we were having at that time within the municipality about building even at that height in wood construction. But now it's more the norm and certainly far more accepted.

There are other jurisdictions: Recently in BC, the building code made some changes that allow for frame construction of up to six storeys. You can see the dramatic impact that those kinds of changes can have on the opportunity to grow our industry.

We all know that wood is a renewable and recyclable type of product. It certainly adds value in the overall stream of activity.

Let me tell you a little more about Mr. Marshall if I can, just for a second. Mr. Marshall is known in the industry for his interest in sustainable building and for being on the leading edge of a number of types of initiatives. I want to speak just very briefly about a project in Oshawa a little bit distinct from wood, but which he undertook a couple of years back. That was probably the first residential subdivision in which there was an option to put geothermal in each house. I remember Minister Cansfieldâ€"who at the time was the minister, I thinkâ€"was out to see what he was doing. He's looking for innovative ways, new ways to make both the building of and the use of housing more sustainable. He's probably the first builder who did a green driveway, which garnered a lot of attention as well. I understand the purchaser after a while wasn't really happy with all the grass that he was tracking in across his carpeting, as the case might be.

But Mr. Marshall doesn't miss an opportunity to promote the idea of sustainability in building. I think this is a particularly important opportunity that he has presented us with, with the support of the ministerâ€"who was there and who was very excited about what was being proposedâ€"and with the industries: the Ontario forestry industry, Wood WORKS! and BILD, with their interest in working together to find out how they can do more at the industry level to get builders and purchasers aware of opportunities to use Ontario products.

I think there is an opportunity for us, through this process, this resolution here in this House, to encourage the government, to encourage the minister through his policy structure to be far more aggressive, to take a very aggressive approach, in promoting Ontario wood products in the building of residential and commercial construction. It really is an opportunity that we're being presented with.

During the course of the presentation on that particular dayâ€"it was a very warm summer afternoon, as I recallâ€"not only did I have the opportunity to attend along with the minister, but one of our generically local Durham-area MPs joined us, as well as the mayor of the city of Oshawa, John Gray, and a couple of his councillors. There's certainly a lot of political interest federally, municipally, and I would suggest as well here, provincially, in trying to encourage the use of Ontario wood products, particularly at a time when we need to support the forest industry in all possible ways that we can, at a time when we all know one of our primary mandates as government and in the Legislature is to do all the work necessary to build job opportunities here in the province of Ontario. This is one of those opportunities. This is one of those opportunities to do things closer to home than we might otherwise, so no one has to question why we're going to be importing wood products, whether it's from a neighbouring province, across the country or from outside the country, when we have such a rich resource here in the province of Ontario.

I know during my time here in the past six years, there have been a number of government-related initiatives to support the forest industry, everything from matters around stumpage fees, as an example, to some direct loan provisions when companies were finding difficulty. We know the forest industry is having difficulty worldwide, in paper and pulp and elsewhere. We should be taking the opportunity when it gets presented to us to reinforce and support local industry here in the province of Ontario.

Mr. Marshall in particular, through this initiative with the support of the building industry and those who work in the wood industry, has put before us an opportunity to say to government and encourage government to promote the use of our own products, to work with the industry to make sure they're producing the product that builders can use.

I understand one of the challenges that was faced when Mr. Marshall went out and wanted to build this home at first was finding that he couldn't source the product he needed because some of the product that was being made didn't quite fit the standard, didn't fit the length size. They were not producing in a format that was really conducive to a larger scale for residential construction or even commercial construction. So there's a lot of work to be done between the industry, the builders and the forest industry to make things work, but I think we can play a big part in that. If people start asking the right questions in purchasing a home or doing commercial construction, if they start asking the questions about whether or not this particular home has a lot of, if not all, wood product from the province of Ontario, their home province, where they raise their families and where they have their jobsâ€"it's one of those things where people start asking those questions. It's an incentive, then, for the industry, obviously, to do what it needs to do to make sure they meet that demand.

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I'm pleased to be able to bring this resolution forward this afternoon. I'm hoping, during the course of the debate, that we'll see support for the resolution and have an opportunity to encourage government to be more aggressive in its promotion of that product.

I want to again thank those who have taken the time to join us here this afternoon, not just for being here but for this particular initiative and the work they're already doing behind the scenes, away from this place, in their responsibility, in their work framework to be able to support an initiative like this.

If government can lend its hand to the process, all the better. I know the minister is keenly interested in this type of initiative. I don't think this is something that would necessarily engender legislative time for the minister, but it's something, through a resolution of this House, that could certainly encourage him and his policy folks to look seriously at the aggressive promotion of wood products for residential and commercial building in Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Norm Miller: It's my pleasure to speak to this resolution, which supports the use of Ontario wood products in residential and commercial construction. I will say right off the top that I support the motion. I'm pleased to see Wood WORKS! here today, taking part in the afternoon. I've had the pleasure in the past of attending their annual big gala event where they recognize buildings that have been built primarily out of wood, and I'm happy to say thatâ€"I think the event I went to, the Stockey Centre in Parry Sound was recognized, the year that I had the pleasure of attending their big event to help promote Wood WORKS!.

It does give me an opportunity to talk about some of the failings of the government as well, however, because as a past MNR critic I've been calling on the McGuinty government to do more for the forestry sector for many years now. This is certainly an example of something that the government could have been doing but has failed to do. We only need to look at what has happened to the sector since this government took office. Northern forest communities have lost 32,000 direct and indirect jobs since the McGuinty Liberals took over in 2003, and northern Ontario jobs and communities have fallen prey to the government's inaction to take corrective measures.

As the member mentioned, I too have heard of builder Craig Marshall and am pleased and particularly happy to read about his actions, where he has built a home using only Ontario wood products as a way to show support for the province's forestry industry and to encourage builders in the greater Toronto area and elsewhere in the province to do the same. If all the GTA builders did it, it would be a $500-million boost to the Ontario forestry sector for wood framing material. GTA home builders purchase about $800 million of lumber annually to frame wood homes, and it is estimated that 70% of that lumber comes from outside of Ontario. Obviously, if we can encourage them to build from Ontario wood, it would be a real boost to the economy of Ontario, particularly northern Ontario.

The Ontario Forest Industries Association says that the industry directly or indirectly affects over 275,000 families and also generates over $14 billion in revenue from manufactured goods. That was from 2007. While some log and timber frame home builders in the province use only Ontario wood, very few, if any, subdivision builders use wood sourced within the province. So I commend Mr. Marshall for leading the way in the industry.

I'm sharing my time with the member for Simcoe North. I've got more notes than I have time to get on the record but I would like to get on the record because it's so relevant to what's going on in the forestry sector.

The most recent version of The Working Forest, the fall edition that just came out, points out that industry recommendations are ignored in forestry realignment. What they're talking about is that the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines is now the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry. Unfortunately, the government has not listened to the industry's recommendations on how that should be done. As it points out, the Ontario Forest Industry Association is questioning how the new Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry can enhance the forest economy when the guiding legislation still rests with the Ministry of Natural Resources; that is, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act is staying with MNR. So it just won't work.

Jamie Lim, who is with OFIA, "pointed out that just three years ago, the Ontario government acknowledged a need to 'reduce red tape' which was one of the recommendations in the Ministers Council on Forest Sector Competitiveness.

"The division of responsibilities for forestry between MNR and MNDMF laid out by the Ontario government is inconsistent with that objective, she added.

"It's a piecemeal approach filtered through two ministers and two ministries. This just got more complex for the forestry industry, said Lim.

"The OFIA also expressed uneasiness about a quote Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield made as part of the government's announcement.

"'This realignment allows us to focus even more on our role of ensuring that our forests remain healthy,' Cansfield said in a government release."

The OFIA took exception to that.

"Scott Jackson, the OFIA's manager of forest policy questioned this remark.

"'It suggests to us that the MNR and people who work in the industry have not been looking after the health and sustainability,' he said. 'Managing our forests for long-term ecological health has been the law under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act for over 15 years and has been a primary focus for our sector long before then…. The suggestion that somehow sustainability wasn't being achieved in the past is an insult to those within government and industry, including our professional foresters, who have spent their careers developing the best forest management system in the world.'

"Lim also viewed Cansfield's remark as ominous.

"'Clearly we believe there is a reason for this realignment and it's because there is a "green" culture in the MNR and they'd be very pleased to carry on their role without industry being a filter they have to work through.'"

Lim added that "all these pending initiatives have contributed to an environment of uncertainty."

That's what is happening on the ground. That's from this month's The Working Forest. There's a climate of uncertainty out there. This realignment of ministries is not helping on the ground.

To get back to this resolution, obviously we support the use of Ontario wood products within the economy of Ontario. It is a very important industry, not only to northern Ontario but to the whole provinceâ€"as was mentioned, some $14 billion. I look forward to supporting the resolution and, as I said, I will leave half the time to my colleague. Thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Mr. Arthurs has put forward a motion: "That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should aggressively promote the use of Ontario wood products in residential and commercial construction throughout Ontario in order to support the more than 63,000 direct jobs and the other 130,000 people who owe their livelihood to Ontario's forest industry."

I want to start by saying the reality is that forestry is not a thing of the past. In our economyâ€"I don't just mean Ontario's economy but the global economyâ€"forestry properly done on a sustainable basis that respects biological limits and also respects the need of communities to have good-paying income, is something that should be and could be with us for a very long period of time.

You should be aware, Speaker, that there is a substantial problem with the state of the forestry industry here in Canada, and I assume that's the reason Mr. Arthurs has brought forward this resolution. In January 2009, after Ontario had lost over half of its pulp and paper and board mills, there were 396 mills operating in the United States. In 2005, there were 438 pulp and paper and board mills in the United States. We have had a precipitous decline in the number of facilities in operation in Ontario. We had seen huge drops in income, in good-paying jobs.

The reality is that in the United States they have had a much smaller hit. Pulp and paper mills accounted for 126,000 direct jobs in 2009. Things are far worse here than they are in the United States. It appears that the forest sector is leaving Ontario, because substantial mistakes have been made around government policies, around investment and around commitment to having a sustainable forest industry in Ontario.

I don't have a problem with Mr. Arthurs and his suggestion of a promotional strategy when it comes to wood products, but you need more than a promotional strategy. You need an effective, coherent policy for ensuring that sustainable forestry remains part of the economy of this province.

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First of all, there's no question that we need more value-added jobs in the forestry sector. Years ago, I had an opportunity to attend a conference in the United States talking about the sustainable use of forestry and the maintenance of jobs in the forest sector. In the United States, there is a very large industry that takes Canadian lumber, or has taken Canadian lumber, and used it to make prefabricated walls, roofs and housing components. What they have in that operation is an extraordinarily small amount of waste and a very large amount of labour. An investment in that kind of value-added industry, using our raw materials, would put Ontarians to work. We need a commitment on the part of the government to make those investments, so that those factories are here, the products are made here and the jobs are created here.

In forestry, value-added wood manufacturing is the process of adding value to commodity wood products. Instead of shipping raw lumber to export markets, wood is manufactured into valuable itemsâ€"as I've said, prefabricated homes, roof joists, office furniture. Value-added wood products can include remanufactured goods, hardwood flooring, doors, engineered wood products, cabinets, furniture, pallets, containers, plywood and a wide variety of other wood products. There's tremendous opportunity for us if we have a coherent policy as a province to look at how we can take raw materials that have to be treated sustainablyâ€"you can't over-harvest or you undercut your future. Raw materials treated properly can give us an awful lot of work in Ontario.

Increasingly, commodity harvesting of wood in Ontario is automated and mechanized. I understand the logic of that, but it means there is far less work now in the actual harvesting. If we're going to retain jobs in Ontario's woodlands, then the work is not going to be at the harvesting end; it's going to be at the processing end; it's going to be at the manufacturing end. If we have the thought, the skill, the commitment in Ontario to actually create those employment opportunities, we can keep people working, and we can do it without harvesting more wood. We can do it by making sure that every piece of wood that's harvested is processed here in Ontario using Ontario labour.

In Europe, their experience shows that value-added manufacturing doesn't have to take place close to consumer markets to be successful. If you look at northern Ontario, it has many similarities to Norway, Sweden and Finlandâ€"similar forest types, similar commodity products, similar distance from major marketsâ€"and yet Scandinavian countries have a thriving value-added sector.

Denmarkâ€"not exactly a forested placeâ€"has a very strong wood manufacturing sector. It's part of the Nordic region. It takes advantage of that raw material, adds labour and makes products that can be sold around the world. That strategic approachâ€"a willingness to invest, a willingness to understand that the jobs have to move from harvest to processing and manufacturingâ€"has got to be the centre of how we deal with the wood industry and the logging industry in Ontario.

We also need an industrial hydro rate that will make it economically attractive for large-scale processing to take place in this province. Energy costs are a big part of what companies see as their overall cost structure. I have to say to this government and to others who look at the energy question that when you make a deal, when you make an offer to have lower energy costs, then you have to be prepared, if you're responsible, if you're looking to the future, to ask for contributions and say to a company, "We will give you a hydro cost that will make your operations far more economically viable and make Ontario far more attractive. On the other side, what we want from you is investment in the community, stability when it comes to job creation and investment in energy efficiency, so that what we're getting from you are direct benefits to the community and a reduction in power demand, even though you're getting a better price."

Ultimately, for this province, we're going to have to make that deal.

Some people want to make a deal with business where we simply cut taxes and say, "Come in here. You don't have to contribute to building the social infrastructure of this province." I think it makes a lot more sense to say, "We will make a vital input available to you at a cost that will make you competitive if you are willing to make investments in community and in energy efficiency. Those things will help us have an energy system and an electricity system that are sustainable in the long run and help you avoid volatile and difficult energy costs in the future."

Many European countries and some US states have an industrial rate. In Denmark and Germany, industrial rates are generally half of residential rates. We will see what happens with the new coalition government, but Germany has had a history of pioneering on energy efficiency and renewable energy. They have very high social service costs, they have very high wage costs, but their provision of a lower-cost industrial rate means that that country is one of the leading exporting centres in Europe. For this province, we should take advantage of the fact that we have large volumes of low-cost hydraulic power in the north that could make our industrial development far more attractive. Make that deal with companies, a quid pro quo, and develop a thriving high-wage sector in this province.

I understand why Mr. Arthurs is moving the idea of promoting Ontario wood products, but I say to you, it isn't just a question of promoting; it's also a question of having a strategy in terms of value-added manufacturing and a strategy with regard to electricity costs.

I'll throw in a third component, and that is that, in the course of the hearings on the Green Energy Act, we heard very credible testimony that the energy efficiency standards in the building code are not being enforced in this province. If you are concerned about energy efficiency, if you want to make sure that buildings have the labour and the materials in them that, over the long run, will cut their operating costs, then this government should in fact start enforcing the laws that are on the books.

I raised this issue in the committee hearings; I raised this issue with the minister. What I got was, "It's another ministry's responsibility." I'll say to you right now, if you are not making sure that those laws are enforced, then (a) you're undermining the sustainability of this province, and (b) you're undermining the potential for job creation because energy efficiency and conservation is simply the application of labour power and materials to substitute for fuel.

I think building with wood makes a lot of sense. It's a good material; it's an excellent material. Let's build with it. Let's use provincial purchasing power when we're building public buildings, social housing, to make sure that we intelligently use wood components in those buildings and use them in a design and a construction that cuts our energy use. We grow wood here; we don't make oil. If we use the wood we have here to build buildings that are energy-efficient, we keep money in Ontario and we don't import oil from Nigeria, Algeria, the North Sea or Alberta. That makes sense to me. If you're going to promote wood use in this province, I want you to think in a bigger way about all the opportunities for using our labour and materials to substitute for what we import from other places.

I'm running out of time. I want to say that I think it makes sense for us to promote use of Ontario wood products. It makes sense for us to use our purchasing power to do that. It makes sense for us shape policies to ensure that northern Ontario continues to have a viable growing economy. I look forward to the rest of the debate.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Khalil Ramal: I'm pleased and honoured to stand in my place to speak in support of the resolution which was introduced a few minutes ago by my colleague the member for Pickeringâ€"Scarborough East, who asks the government to aggressively promote the use of Ontario wood, because this issue is very important, not just for certain communities but for the whole province. Almost 130,000 people rely heavily for their livelihoods on these products, and more than 63,000 direct jobs will be affected by this industry. So it's important for all of us.

1600

I've been here for the last six years. On a regular basis, my colleague Bill Mauro and many other colleagues from both sides of the House talk about the industry in the north and how much this industry was affectedâ€"especially after the economic situation in the United States, because we used to export a lot of products to the United States. I was reading some notes I was given by my colleague Mr. Arthurs about how important it is for our economy: we consume almost $11 billion of wood products in the province of Ontario on a yearly basis, and 70% from the $11 billion comes from outside of Ontario. Can you imagine if we were using $11 billion from wood products we have in Ontario? It would be amazing for the forest industry. It would be amazing for our economy.

I was shocked when I learned that Toronto uses, on a yearly basis, almost $800 million of wood, and the majority of that percentage comes from outside of Ontario. Of course, my colleague outlined the importance of these issues and outlined how much importance they have for industry and creating or maintaining jobs in the north, because almost 300 communities in the north of Ontario depend heavily on the forest industry.

So, most importantly, I think it's how we can protect our forests, our communities and our economy in this province. He indicated in his speechâ€"I think it was a very important speechâ€"that this industry is a renewable industry. We have the biggest stock in the world: we have almost 42% of the national total, and 10% to be used for the housing industry or the commercial industry in this province.

We have good-quality wood, but most importantly, how can we promote this industry? How can we aggressively go and convince the construction companiesâ€"like the honourable gentleman who came to witness the debate in the Houseâ€"to purchase products from Ontario? Maybe, as the member from Pickeringâ€"Scarborough East said, the building code will be changed to allow builders to go from a four-storey to a six-storey level, and this will consume more wood.

I want to tell the member from Pickeringâ€"Scarborough East that I renovated my house in the last two weeks. I have tried as much as possible, when I go to buy the woodâ€"frame wood and subfloor and everythingâ€"to make sure this is made in Ontario, because it is important to me. Because I live in Ontario, it's my duty and obligation to support the people who live in this province, who work very hard to provide food for their families.

Since we have an almost huge forestry space in the province of Ontario, I think this forest industry can be renewable and also can protect the environment, because whatever we use from this forest is better than plastic, better than metal, better than any other material being used right now in this industry.

So I want to congratulate the member. I want to tell him I'm going to support this bill, and I hope all the members from both sides stand up in their places and speak in support, because it very important to protect our forests in Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: I certainly hope every member in this House would want to support this resolution: "That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should aggressively promote the use of Ontario wood products in residential and commercial construction throughout Ontario in order to support the more than 63,000 direct jobs and the other 130,000 people who owe their livelihood to Ontario's forest industry."

I think we tend to forget just how important things like mining and forestry are to the economy of our province, the same as I think we quite often forget about how important agriculture and tourism are to the economy of our province.

I'd like to first of all just welcome all the folks who are here today to witness this debate. I know you've probably come from distances just to see this type of a debate, but really, in the end, I hope what we're saying to you is that there should be a better strategy. There has to be more done as far as I'm concerned and as far as I think our critic is concerned.

Maybe we can start right with some of the government projects. If we wanted to play out a strategyâ€"obviously the government has put forward a lot of infrastructure money, along with the federal government; there is a lot of social housing moneyâ€"perhaps in the future we can make the criteria around the approval of those projects by using lumber that has been grown here and processed here in the province of Ontario.

You only have to travel through northern Ontarioâ€"in fact, you don't even have to travel through northern Ontario. Mr. Speaker, right here in our countyâ€"the Speaker and I share the same county, Simcoeâ€"we have 31,000 acres of county forest. The county has a fairly aggressive campaign each year to tender out X number of acres of forestry. I don't know if they call it acreage or it's the number of tonnes or how many logsâ€"truckloads of lumber, anyhow. In the end, a lot of the lumber companies that purchased that lumber in the past have been from northern Ontarioâ€"the Tembecs and the Grants. But we also have, in Simcoe county, companies like Robert Richie Forest Products and Green's forest products. These are all companies that rely on that forestry industry. Each and every one of them buys a lot of equipment and employs a lot of people. These are even the small companies. So it's very important, as we move forward, that we put out a stronger strategy than ever to promote forestry products in the province of Ontario.

As I mentioned a few moments ago, I was in estimates yesterday, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was mentioning how many housing units we're planning on building here in the province of Ontario. Something like 10,000 units are being built in the next couple of years. I don't think there are any project requirements that would suggest we might have to use lumber that came from Ontario. That could go even further: We could look at things like kitchen cabinets, the doors that are built for housing in our homes, and maybe we can put that in our government projects as well.

Overall, though, we have to look at things like the cost of hydro. I've got a list here of all the different companies that have gone out of business or have lost jobs. They have just basically devastated many communities in northern Ontario. I was up to northern Ontario earlier in the spring. I went on a three-day fishing trip into a little community near Earlton. I was talking to the owner of the fishing and hunting camp, and he said, "Our business is down so bad, and no one seems to care about northern Ontario." He said, "We hear about all these tourism strategies but nothing concrete ever seems to happen." Many people, not only in the tourism sector but in the forestry sector, are being affected as well.

I think you've got a big challenge ahead of you. Basically the people around you are the people who are going to have to support you on this resolution, Mr. Arthurs. I think it's a positive resolution because I think in the end we have to support northern Ontario; we have to support the possible jobs that can be created there. Whether it means a new strategy around hydro, a new strategy around marketing our wood products, or new strategies around how we support the forestry industry in economic development, I think we have to take a serious look at that. Without that leadership from the province of Ontario, I think that the industry is only going to have a further decline.

I wish you well in your resolution. I think that the government should adopt something. Perhaps it's not too late to save this industry. In the next provincial budget maybe there could be a new strategy laid out that would indicate that we could strengthen the forestry industry in Ontario. That leadership would come right from Queen's Park, right from the provincial government and from all the folks that would support it.

I look forward to that debate in the House and I look forward to seeing some of your ideas and some of your strategy in the provincial budget next spring.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Pat Hoy: I'm pleased to rise in support of this motion put forward by the member from Pickeringâ€"Scarborough East. In part, it reads "that, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should aggressively promote the use of Ontario wood products in residential and commercial construction," and it goes on from there.

I really wonder how many people in Ontario have given this thought, that this is not the fact. I've learned from the member that few, if any, subdivision builders are just building with wood sourced from within the province. I suspect that most people who purchase a home or have additions put on their home, or do renovations, believe that the wood came from Ontario. We are a great producer of wood products here in our province. I find it disconcerting that this isn't the case, and I'm glad that the member has brought this forward.

1610

Some of the statistics going with this thought would be that the GTA home builders purchase about $800 million of lumber annually to frame wooden homes, and of that it is estimated that 70% comes from outside of Ontario.

So I think we have an excellent motion put forward, that we should support this industry which employs some 63,000 direct persons, and of course the spinoffs from primary industries like forestry are huge: 130,000 people owe their living to the forest industry itself, and I suspect there are more spinoffs than that.

I'm from a primary industry, agriculture, and we try to promote that, much the same as what the member is asking for here. As a matter of fact, the government has taken up that challenge, and we help with the promotion of our own farm market stands, farm markets, Buy Ontario in our grocery stores and restaurants. So it's something the government has initiated in the agricultural sector, and I think it's only wise that we would do that here in the forest industry.

We need not worry about using up all of our wood products, should this come to be. We are rich in our forestry industry. Research has revealed that there is a potential to increase our wood consumption by four times its current level. We are going to have plenty of forest and trees into the future. I know that forest management is something the industry takes very seriously. The government does as well, via regulation and support to them, to maintain and keep those forests in good health.

Wood, of course, is a renewable and recyclable resource, something that is very positive to our whole culture here, to our environment. Increasing the percentage that is used in our homes here in Ontarioâ€"I applaud the member for bringing this forward and ensuring that in the future. Ontario has forest over 50% of our land mass, so we have lots of room to promote and to build, to provide for jobs and to support this very vital primary industry here in Ontario.

I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this primary industry and to support the motion that is put forward today.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Jeff Leal: It is indeed a pleasure to have the opportunity this afternoon to say a few words in support of the resolution that has been brought forward by my good friend the member from Pickeringâ€"Scarborough East.

It's interesting to get on the record. In Peterborough we have some exceptional home builders I've gotten to know over the years. We have Pat Cleary of Cleary Homes, Paul Dietrich of Parkview Homes and Brian Fenton of Peterborough Homes, and I think by and large, when people buy new homes from those very distinguished and reputable builders in Peterborough, they often think that all that lumber, or a large percentage of that lumber, comes from the province of Ontario, and indeed that is not the case.

I think it's incumbent upon us all. There has been lots of renovation work going on because of the federal government's home renovation tax credit, which I think was a very good measure, and of course that was seen as a way to stimulate a particular sector of the economy. I've been in northwestern Ontarioâ€"in Dryden, Kenora and other communitiesâ€"and we've seen first-hand the decline in the forestry industry for a variety of factors. We watched the dollar go from 63 cents to par, and of course that had a dramatic impact on the forestry industry. And frankly, the decline of people reading newspapers, the major newspapers of the world now. We think of the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, major newspapers here in Canada. Canwest: Part of their financial problem is they went out and acquired a number of major newspapers from Conrad Black, and because people are now reading online, there's the decline of that particular market.

So we're looking at ways to enhance the forestry industry in the province of Ontario, and one of the ways we can do so is to make sure that we buy Ontario wood products.

I'll give you a good example right in my neighbourhood. My neighbour on Maniece Avenue, a fellow by the name of James Murphy, a very distinguished and reputable hardwood construction person in my ridingâ€"he owns Classic Hardwoodâ€"was telling me about people who go to auctions to purchase hardwood. They think they're getting a bargain. They buy this hardwood at a very cheap cost, and they put the hardwood in their homes themselves. But this hardwood that's purchased through these auctions often comes from foreign sources. Much of it is warped by the time it gets to the auction sale. Mr. Murphy, in his business, often goes around to these homes in my riding to replace these hardwood floors that people have bought, this rather inexpensive hardwood. His case in point when he's talking to these individuals is that they could have saved themselves a lot of cost and a lot of grief if they had just gone out in the first place and bought Ontario hardwood, which is in abundance in the province of Ontarioâ€"and I shouldn't be promoting his business over others in Peterboroughâ€"but to give Jim Murphy a call at Classic Hardwood to put their hardwood into their stores. That's a good example of how local decisions can have a tremendous impact on an industry and local lumber.

When you go into Rona and Home Hardware and Home Depotâ€"their slogan, "You can do it. We can help"â€"we should really take the opportunity to look at those stickers that appear on plywood and two-by-fours and other basic building products to make sure it's made in Canada but, better, that it's produced in the province of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Mr. Arthurs, you have up to two minutes for your response.

Mr. Wayne Arthurs: First, I certainly want to thank all the members who spoke to the resolution, not only for indicating their support but particularly where they explored beyond the specifics of the resolution as to how Ontario can do better in promoting the use of wood products in those fashions, and the other opportunities, whether it's on the energy conservation side, whether it's expanding that context as it relates to the industry.

I particularly want to thank again those who are here this afternoon for the partnership they've already built to make this a reality. I think our opportunity here in the province with this resolution is to say to government that we need to be a partner with the industry. We need to partner with the forest industry, with woodworks, with the building industry, on this type of initiative so that the public can become more aware of the choices they make and bring to bear the consumer initiatives that will help the industry, will help the builders, use Ontario products as a preferred option.

I think some comments about opportunities through infrastructure and the like where, if that presents itself, governments should be showing leadership in that regard by using Ontario wood productsâ€"I think that's something that we should be seriously looking at. I hope that the minister will look at that. I know he's keen on this as an initiative.

There were comments made about the opportunities that exist within the building codeâ€"maybe to follow BC's lead in the context of raising the bar, so to speak, allowing for increased heights in stick building, as it's called. I hope that's something that the minister, through this resolution and the comments here, would want to look at as well.

I believe there are a lot of opportunities. In the final analysis, though, the leadership that has been shown by those already doing the job on the ground, and to the extent that we can offer our support in that regard, through government, to support their initiatives by promoting what they're doing, promoting those opportunities, I think is a good thing for us to do, is a good thing for jobs in Ontario, and is good for the Ontario economy.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Thank you. The time provided for private members' public business has now expired. It's now time to vote.

LABOUR RELATIONS
AMENDMENT ACT
(REPLACEMENT WORKERS), 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 MODIFIANT LA LOI
SUR LES RELATIONS DE TRAVAIL
(TRAVAILLEURS SUPPLÉANTS)

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): We will deal first with ballot item number 34, standing in the name of Mr. Kormos.

Mr. Kormos has moved second reading of Bill 86, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act, 1995. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

This will be a recorded vote, and we'll call in the members after we deal with the next two ballot items.

FINANCIAL LITERACY

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): We'll now deal with ballot item number 35.

Mr. Sousa has moved private member's notice of motion number 109. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

FOREST INDUSTRY

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): We'll now deal with ballot item number 36.

Mr. Arthurs has moved private member's notice of motion number 110. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? So carried.

Motion agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1621 to 1626.

LABOUR RELATIONS
AMENDMENT ACT
(REPLACEMENT WORKERS), 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 MODIFIANT LA LOI
SUR LES RELATIONS DE TRAVAIL
(TRAVAILLEURS SUPPLÉANTS)

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Mr. Kormos has moved second reading of Bill 86. All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

Bisson, Gilles

Gélinas, France

Hampton, Howard

Horwath, Andrea

Kormos, Peter

Levac, Dave

Marchese, Rosario

Miller, Paul

Prue, Michael

Tabuns, Peter

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): All those opposed to the motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

Arthurs, Wayne

Balkissoon, Bas

Berardinetti, Lorenzo

Best, Margarett

Cansfield, Donna H.

Colle, Mike

Dhillon, Vic

Duguid, Brad

Fonseca, Peter

Jaczek, Helena

Jeffrey, Linda

Johnson, Rick

Klees, Frank

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Mangat, Amrit

Miller, Norm

Moridi, Reza

Phillips, Gerry

Rinaldi, Lou

Ruprecht, Tony

Sergio, Mario

Sousa, Charles

Takhar, Harinder S.

Wynne, Kathleen O.

Zimmer, David

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 10; the nays are 25.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): I declare the motion lost.

Second reading negatived.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Just before I call orders of the day, I take this opportunity on behalf of all of us to once again thank the pages for their weeks of service hereâ€"

Applause.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): â€"and to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.

Orders of the day?

Hon. Brad Duguid: I move adjournment of the House.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Mr. Duguid has moved adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

This House stands adjourned until Monday, October 19, at 10:30 a.m.

The House adjourned at 1628.