39th Parliament, 2nd Session

L064 - Tue 2 Nov 2010 / Mar 2 nov 2010



Tuesday 2 November 2010 Mardi 2 novembre 2010


























































The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Good morning. Please remain standing for the Lord’s Prayer, followed by the Islamic prayer.




Resuming the debate adjourned on November 1, 2010, on the motion for second reading of Bill 122, An Act to increase the financial accountability of organizations in the broader public sector / Projet de loi 122, Loi visant à accroître la responsabilisation financière des organismes du secteur parapublic.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Further debate?

Mr. Frank Klees: I am pleased to participate in this debate on Bill 122, entitled An Act to increase the financial accountability of organizations in the broader public sector.

The question that we really need to ask is, what prompted the government to bring this bill forward? Well, it wasn’t an initiative of the government; it was really an initiative of the Auditor General of the province of Ontario. The auditor, as we know, released a special report in October. The report is entitled Consultant Use in Selected Health Organizations. What is interesting is the timing of this legislation. It’s very clear to all of us in this House that this legislation before us today is strictly a forced admission of guilt on the part of the government: that it has failed in leadership and that it has failed the many organizations throughout this province charged with the responsibility of delivering public services.

The auditor’s report itself was in response to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. I want to commend the members of that committee for appealing to the Auditor General to look into the conduct of this government and the various organizations charged with responsibility in the health care sector. That was the focus of the auditor’s report.

It’s interesting that this special report was preceded by the Auditor General’s October 2009 special report on Ontario’s eHealth records. We all know what the result of that report was. It was a condemnation of this government and particularly the Ministry of Health, those individuals who were responsible for allowing literally more than a billion dollars of public funds to flow through the hands of consultants and lobbyists for the purpose of supposedly establishing an eHealth records system for the province of Ontario. But in the end, there is very little to show for it, to the point where we’re really now at ground zero in terms of attempting to develop an eHealth records system. No one denies the importance of having an effective eHealth records system to make our health care system more efficient, but it was the mismanagement and the outright abuse of public dollars that was condemned by the Auditor General in his 2009 report. So he took the next step.

What is it that the Auditor General found in this most recent report? I’d like to just point out some of the highlights. The auditor points out that “insufficient time was allowed for consultants to respond to tender requests, and we noted instances where the underlying documentation indicated that a competitive process had been followed but we believed that the process favoured a particular consultant.”

He goes on to say, specifically with respect to LHINs, the local health integration networks: “Procurements examined to mid-2009 indicated that processes and practices used by the LHINs we visited were inadequate to ensure that the use of consultants was planned for, acquired, and managed in accordance with the requirements of the directive then in effect....

“As many as two thirds of the consulting contracts we examined had follow-on agreements, and most were awarded without a separate competitive process or documented justification for the additional work. At the three LHINs we visited, we noted that consultants’ invoices did not provide sufficient information on work done or other billing details, including receipts for expenses, to support the amount paid.”

These are fundamental principles of business, and for the auditor to uncover this kind of mismanagement and lack of accountability is truly a condemnation of how business is being done in this province.

With regard to hospitals, again I quote from the auditor’s report: “Eight of the 16 hospitals we visited had engaged consultants to lobby the provincial government, and in some cases the federal government, using funding provided by the ministry for clinical and administrative activities.”

I suppose what is more offensive than anything else is that funds that were intended for clinical purposes were in fact used to pay consultants to lobby government for more money. He goes on to say: “While the more than $1.6 million spent by the eight hospitals was relatively small in comparison to these hospitals’ overall funding, we questioned the appropriateness of using government funds to pay lobbyists to help obtain more government funding.”


We couldn’t agree more with the Auditor General. Whether it is $1 million, whether it’s $500,000 or $1 billion, the reality is that there are people in our communities throughout this province who are on desperate waiting lists for procedures that can’t be afforded, supposedly. Monies are not flowing from the ministry to the LHINs to the CCACs, and yet there’s this abuse of public funds for the purpose of simply paying lobbyists and consultants.

The government’s response to all of this is this bill: predictably, not a solution but really more diversion from the real underlying issue, and that is, namely, a failure of this government to manage the affairs of this province and the resulting waste of public funds. That is the real issue: erosion of public services and, ultimately, an undermining of public confidence, not only in this government but in its various institutions and organizations charged with the responsibility of delivering public services.

So we now have two reports that call into question the competence of this government. We have seven years of evidence against which to assess the leadership of this administration, and when we get beyond the public announcements, when we get beyond the numerous announcements by various ministers throughout the 31 ministries of this government, we know one thing, and that is that this government has done one thing extremely well: making pronouncements, making announcements about dollars that are being spent, whether it’s in health care or education or infrastructure. But at the end of the day, there is an underlying problem that is undermining the credibility of this government and its ability to manage the affairs of this province.

These auditor reports shed light on only a very narrow aspect of the government’s mismanagement. As I indicated, there are 31 ministries in this government, and the evidence is overwhelming that there is a lack of leadership and direction at all levels of this government.

I believe that this government has reached the tipping point. As I speak to people, whether it’s in the business community, whether it’s in the health care community or the social service sector, whether it’s in agriculture, whether it’s in the forestry or the tourism industry, whether it is in the development or building industry, to the person, people are saying that they have had enough of this government and its mismanagement. There are pretences and pronouncements, but there is no competence in terms of actually delivering on those commitments. In fact, it’s now to the point where precious public dollars are being seen to be wasted and where our public services are being undermined, where seniors are now in a position where they are being overtaxed for the very essentials of life, whether that’s their electricity bills, their natural gas bills, their ability to put gasoline in their cars, or their ability to just simply make ends meet. Whether it’s students who have serious questions about whether, in fact, they’re going to find a job when they graduate, or young families whose dream of actually owning a home one day is being eroded—affordable housing is not only a dream for people who are trying to make ends meet at the very basic level of subsistence, but affordable housing is out of the question.

Why? Simply, if you look at how this government conducts its business in terms of adding layers and layers of regulatory tape, the burden of time that’s imposed on the entire development process and approvals process in this province makes it impossible for any housing to be delivered at an affordable rate. My point—and I don’t want to get diverted from this bill—is simply that the incompetence of this government and its inability to provide leadership is evident in every one of the 31 ministries of this government, and the consequences are real. It’s that lack of leadership that has allowed the abuse of public funds.

My question: Rather than the ministry or cabinet introducing another piece of legislation, why do we not see the Premier of this province holding accountable the ministers and the deputy ministers of those ministries under whose watch all of this abuse has taken place? But that, you see, is not the objective of the government. It’s not to get at the heart of the lack of accountability; it’s really to provide yet one more diversion from the real issue, and that is a lack of accountability and a lack of transparency in terms of how this government does its business.

I find it interesting, as I read through this bill—I took the time to go through this bill and highlight all of the references that are made in this document to reports. What I find amazing is that the answer to accountability for this government is to now lay the burden of yet more red tape and paperwork on all of those organizations that should be spending their time delivering essential public services on the front line. Line after line after line in this bill reads: “Every local health integration network shall prepare reports.” The next paragraph: “The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care may issue directives to local health integration networks respecting the reports ...

“the information that shall be included in the reports ...

“to whom the reports shall be submitted ...

“the form, manner and timing of the reports”—reports, reports, reports, and on and on and on. What we have here is a piece of legislation that is the answer provided by this government supposedly for more accountability in the public sector. And then we wonder why we are unable to get the services on the front lines when we have a government that’s intent on simply creating more bureaucracy, more red tape and basically hamstringing the very people who are charged with the responsibility of delivering front-line services.

The creation of the local health integration networks themselves was really the first major step on the part of this government to create the lack of accountability and to hide transparency. Why do I say that? Because we know that what is essentially happening now is that the local health integration network, with all of its bureaucrats, with all of the multi-millions of dollars that have gone into creating those offices and buying the furniture and hiring the employees—and, by the way, siphoning key front-line health care workers back into the bureaucracy of the LHINs by suggesting to them that their services are much more important to the local health integration network in providing them with consulting services, rather than allowing them to spend that additional time actually delivering health care services.


That local health integration network was created specifically for the purpose of creating a barrier between the Ministry of Health and the community. Why do I say that? I was present at a meeting with the Central LHIN administration—the president, the CEO—and there were members of the Liberal caucus. I was there. In fact, Speaker, you were there in your capacity as MPP from York region. The single largest complaint that we had for the LHIN, at that point in time during that meeting, was that we, as MPPs, were unable to get a response from the Ministry of Health when we began to advocate for needs within our local community. We were being told as MPPs, “That is no longer the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. Go and talk to the LHIN.” When we approached the LHIN, the LHIN of course says, “Well, that is not within our purview. It’s a funding issue. We don’t have enough funding; that’s the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.”

When we challenged the community care access centre as to why they weren’t delivering the important front-line services that are clearly necessary, the community care access centre would tell us, “The LHIN is not providing us with the resources to provide these services.”

When we, as members of provincial Parliament, challenge the LHIN, the LHIN simply states, “We don’t have the resources because the Ministry of Health is not providing them for us.”

What has happened? This government has intentionally created a structure within the province of Ontario that does anything but provide for transparency, does anything but provide for accountability, and has done everything systematically over the course of the last seven years to in fact put a distance between the decision-makers in this province—the Premier, the ministers, the deputy ministers—and the front line.

This bill before us today will do nothing to improve accountability. We will not have accountability in this province until such time as the Premier of this province accepts responsibility and demands accountability from his ministers, and until his ministers demand accountability from their deputy ministers for what is happening down the line in their ministry and in the various organizations throughout this province that are charged and entrusted with the responsibility to deliver public services.

This bill today is an insult and a diversion from the lack of accountability of a government that has failed the people of Ontario. I believe, as I said earlier today, that the people of Ontario have seen enough, that they have reached the tipping point, and they’re now saying to the government, “We will not accept any more of your pronouncements or your promises. From this point on, we want to see results.” It’s a sad day when the government can actually stand and pretend that a document such as this is to be accepted as an effort on the part of the government to provide accountability.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Comments and questions?

Mr. Michael Prue: I listened intently to the member from Newmarket–Aurora, and he delivered what I consider to be an excellent speech here in the House today. He spoke about ministerial responsibility, and that is something that has been sadly lacking in the past several years in this House—ministers actually standing up and taking responsibility for their departments and responsibility for the laws that affect them and for the bureaucrats who work for them.

In fact, what the member from Newmarket–Aurora had to say in terms of the LHINs was exactly right. The local health integration networks were set up—in my belief, and I concur with him—in order that the minister would then be able to shed that responsibility or any kind of semblance of having the responsibility. It’s not just the minister who is here today; it is the three past ministers of this government who were here and did much the same thing.

As a result, we have here a bill that does virtually nothing, a bill that is full of flaws. And really the answer is, as the member from Newmarket–Aurora says, for the Premier and the ministers to take responsibility. The answer is for them to look at their departments, to look at the laws that affect those departments, to look at the hiring of consultants and to say that the buck stops here, because it isn’t just enough to come in with a watered-down bill and expect that great changes are going to take place. Those changes will only take place when a government stands firm on its ground and says that they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. That’s what is going to be required here.

The member from Newmarket–Aurora is absolutely right in his analysis. I commend him for what he had to say today.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further comments and questions?

Mr. Pat Hoy: I’m pleased to rise—once again, actually—to make some comments on the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act. I believe that this bill, if passed, is really quite broad. For example, there would be a ban on lobbyists in the proposed legislation, and it would prohibit certain broader public sector organizations from using public funds to hire lobbyists. That includes Ontario’s 259 classified agencies. Examples of that could be and are the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and Cancer Care Ontario, hydro entities and large broader public service entities like the hospitals, our school boards, CCACs and universities. Very large organizations throughout Ontario are, in many cases, named in this bill.

Procurement is something that people have been wondering about here in the Legislature, and the government would have the authority to make procurement directives that large broader public sector entities would have to follow. That, once again, includes hospitals and school boards etc.

Expense claims have often been the brunt of questions in this Legislature, so the government would have the authority to make expense claim directives to require rules to be set and followed by the same named broader public sector entities; once again, hospitals and school boards, for example.

There will be increased oversight, something that the opposition is requesting, and rightfully so. The proposed legislation would authorize the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to implement new accountability measures for hospitals and LHINs which would require the public posting of expense claims, something that I think everyone would think is proper at this time.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further comments and questions?

Mr. Steve Clark: I’m pleased to provide a few comments on the address from the member from Newmarket–Aurora, and I want to, I guess, echo what the member for Beaches–East York said. The member for Newmarket–Aurora made a wonderful speech, and I think he touched on a number of very effective points regarding Bill 122 and what isn’t in the bill.

I want to go back to his comments about the LHINs, because certainly I’ve had a lot of discussions about the local health integration networks since my election earlier this year. I asked a question in the House last week about accountability of the LHINs, and it’s been an amazing response since that question. It speaks to some of the points that the member for Newmarket–Aurora talked about.

These organizations have caused tremendous grief in my riding and in some neighbouring ridings. In fact, the point that I brought to the House last week was that a group has even given money back to the LHINs: $52,000. It was Hospice North Hastings. They sent me an email after I brought it up in the House and they thanked me for bringing forward this point.

People have posted on blogs, on newspaper sites, talking about the political cover that these LHINs have provided. And when the member for Newmarket–Aurora talks about ministerial responsibility, he’s absolutely right when it comes to these LHINs. They’re providing a tremendous amount of administration to extremely small organizations to justify their own existence. That’s not accountability.


We need the ministers across and the government across to not just throw up a fancy name in a bill but actually mean something when they put legislation forward.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further comments and questions?

Mr. Bob Delaney: It’s a pleasure to rise to comment on some of the remarks made by my good friend and colleague from Newmarket–Aurora. On this day, I cannot agree with him.

I can’t agree with him on any part of it, particularly on his comments relating to the local health integration networks. He suggests that it would be better to recreate a Toronto-centric bureaucracy, which was taken apart because that very bloated Conservative bureaucracy wanted every single decision in health care to be made out of the minister’s office or by the minister’s staff.

I can’t agree with him on moving decision-making on health out of our community, particularly in an area like our Mississauga-Halton LHIN, where we have been a picture of success in that regard. We have been able to respond more quickly, whether it be getting urgently needed equipment and hardware in our hospitals, whether it be such things as linear accelerators or whether it be the moving of funds in order to save jobs as our hospitals balance the budget. This structure, in our area, in the 905 belt—which is where that member comes from—works, and it has been effective.

However, this bill deals with lobbying. Let me say this: In seven years representing people in the western Mississauga neighbourhoods of Lisgar, Meadowvale and Streetsville, not once has our hospital ever hired a lobbyist to come and see me. Not once has our community care access centre ever hired a lobbyist to come in and see me. Not once has our local health integration network ever hired a lobbyist to come in and see me, or our children’s treatment centre or our city.

The Mississauga-Halton LHIN works. It’s an example of best practices that need to be perpetuated, that need to be propagated across the other LHIN structures, not destroyed in an ideological rant predicated by the ramblings of Sarah Palin and the United States’s Tea Party.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The member has two minutes to respond.

Mr. Frank Klees: I want to thank the members from Beaches–East York, Chatham–Kent–Essex, Leeds–Grenville and Mississauga–Streetsville for their comments.

In closing, I just want to say this: My colleagues on the Liberal side could not be more wrong. They don’t get it. I do believe the people of Ontario do, and I believe they’ll be held accountable.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Michael Prue: It’s a pleasure for me to rise here. I looked at the bill and studied it, and it was obvious why the bill was in front of this House. The bill was in front of this House because horrendous things have been happening in Ontario because there was no oversight by the minister and no oversight by the ministry into the hiring of consultants. It took the auditor’s report to detail exactly what was going on in Ontario.

Just a couple of egregious examples from his report: The one that is cited most often and certainly the one that the Liberal government needs to hear is that a $275,000-a-year hospital consultant claimed $97,000 in fees for other consultants and $50,000 in administrative support services fees, neither of which was in his contract. The consultant billed the hospital twice for over $7,000 relating to a salary bonus, foreign exchange fees and a Christmas luncheon. The consultant then expensed the accommodation costs of $400 per night for three nights in Chicago, along with $500 in hotel phone charges, accommodations of $510 per night on a second four-night trip to Chicago, accommodations of $700 per night for five nights in Singapore and dinners in the greater Toronto area, one costing $300 for three people, including $140 for alcohol, and another costing $350 for three people, including $215 for alcohol.

That’s the first egregious example. This is something that the minister’s office, the ministry, did not catch, was not aware of, did not look at. This was a huge expense of public dollars, because after all, the ministry and the Ontario government are the chief funders for hospitals and, in turn, for consultants.

This was just wanton waste of taxpayers’ money. Is it any wonder that taxpayers are angry at what is going on in this ministry when they see hospital emergency rooms being shut down in Fort Erie and Port Colborne? Is it any wonder that they’re upset and angry when there continue to be waiting lists in some hospitals for emergency procedures? Is it any wonder that people sit in the emergency room waiting to be seen, and sometimes, if they’re not in a hugely serious condition and are triaged, they have to wait two and three and four hours? Then they turn around and they don’t blame the staff. They don’t blame the nurses and the doctors and the hospital administrators, because very often they love their local hospitals and the people who work in them. But they do blame the waste of money on this ministry.

So the minister comes forward with a bill that’s supposed to do something. But I want to relate a couple of other things that the auditor uncovered. Here’s another good one: One sole-sourced consultant CEO earned a per diem rate of $1,100 for eight hours’ work. “The consultant billed for 250 days worked each year, meaning that every weekday was billed for the last three years, excluding statutory holidays.... In May 2008, he received approval from the hospital for a one-week trip to Hong Kong to attend a business-related conference as an invited guest speaker. However, he added a personal one-week trip to Japan as part of the excursion. We noted that the hospital paid the consultant’s airfare claim of $7,800, which included the airfare for his personal trip to Japan, and also paid his fees billed for every work day during the month, which included the two-week trip to both Hong Kong and Japan.”

Or another one: One hospital sole-sourced a consultant for “$398 per hour—$2.6 million in total—and no fixed ceiling price or specific project deliverables were established.”

Or how about: “A hospital single-sourced a contract of over $170,000 to a consulting firm to provide Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims management services from June 2007 to May 2009. There was no documentation supporting the single-sourcing of the contract, and at the time of our audit the hospital could not locate a signed copy of the contract. We noted that the consulting firm continued to provide services to the hospital after the contract expired. As a result, total payments to date have amounted to $235,000, or $65,000 over the original contract price of $170,000, without any supporting documentation or proper contract renewals.”

The auditor uncovered horror stories like this in every one of the 19 hospitals and LHINs that were investigated. Efforts in this House to expand what the auditor was able to uncover, to look at the remaining hospitals and LHINs—because all of them potentially may have the same problems—were rebuffed at every stage by the minister, by the Premier and by the members opposite.

It is not surprising that people see the rot in this system. They don’t see a ministry standing up for them or a government standing up for them. What they see is this bill. And what is in this bill? They are looking—ordinary people, ordinary constituents, ordinary citizens—to see their taxpayers’ money used wisely. They do not begrudge money spent on hospitals or on medicare or on health. They do not begrudge that money at all. When I speak to my constituents, they are very proud of their hospital, Toronto East General. They are very proud of the services that are delivered there, the number of babies who continue to be born there and the entire effort that the men and women who work in that institution make to be a good part of our community and good citizens. They want more money to be spent there. They want excellent services. They want them when they need them. I have never heard anyone, not in my office, ever come and tell me that they want less money being spent on health, but they do come to my office and speak about waste. They come and talk about money not being spent where it should be spent and that really having a negative impact on the people of our community.


It is speaking of the public dollars that I ask the government opposite to look and turn your attention to. If this was a private institution, if this was something that people paid for privately, I’m sure there wouldn’t be the same kind of uproar because, although private companies can and do spend their monies in ways that they see fit, they are only responsible, generally, in the end, to a board of directors and to an annual meeting of the shareholders. This is not the same thing. This is public dollars.

The government needs to get that through their head: Public dollars have been squandered and have been squandered hugely in this province over the last seven years. They have been squandered by various ministers who have not taken control or rein over how the money is spent. They have allowed for a culture of entitlement. They have allowed for people to take advantage of the system knowing that there were no safeguards in place and that there was no time or effort made by ministry staff and by the minister, or various ministers, to look into what was needed.

It was my party, I’m proud to say, that revealed the cost of the insider lobbyists. We asked for the review of the auditor, and it was passed in committee.

That audit showed people across this province really what was wrong. It was a small audit. It was not an overarching audit. It did not look at every LHIN; it did not look at every hospital. It simply picked a few out. The auditor is a busy person, I would imagine, and was under some considerable time pressure, discovering what he and his staff discovered, to try to find out everything that they could. But it doesn’t mean that this is all there was. There was certainly a lot more going on than this. There was certainly a lot of monies being wasted, and people see that. People see that, and they complain about that. They don’t like it.

If you happen to live in Fort Erie or Port Colborne, especially, and you see the emergency departments shut down, and you see people dying—we’ve already had one or two deaths—being transferred to a hospital that is 10 or 15 minutes away, then you can understand the angst and the anger that they have when they read a report like this.

They want to know, what is the government doing? Well, the government has come forward with a minor bill that contains a few provisions that we can support.

But I’ll tell you, it doesn’t answer the whole problem. In this province, we need the Ombudsman to have control and to look at the expenditures taking place at the LHINs, the hospitals and long-term-care facilities. We are the only province—I think the only province—that hasn’t given that authority to the Ombudsman.

It was my privilege last night, along with some other MPPs that I saw present, to go over to Bay Street to the Ombudsman’s office. There was a celebration to mark 35 years since the Ombudsman’s office was established by the Davis government. Six Ombudsmen have held the position, each with continuing and growing authority to stand up for the people of this province. One can only be proud of what the Ombudsman’s office has been able to do over the last number of years, and one can only be proud of the current Ombudsman and of his staff for what they have uncovered in a great many fields. Their last report, or one of their last reports, was Between a Rock and a Hard Place. It talked about people having to give up their children to the care of children’s aid.

This is the kind of person, the kind of group, we need to look at our public institutions, to have some oversight. But this government has rebuffed all efforts to have the Ombudsman do what the Ombudsman and only the Ombudsman can do best. We think that if the government was serious about rooting out the rot, that would be one of the first places they would go. If they were serious about rooting out the rot, they would have let the auditor continue the investigation into the remaining hospitals and the remaining LHINs that hired these sole-sourced contracts and these consultants—and continue to do so to this very day.

Now the government has been caught, and ever so reluctantly, ever so reluctantly, they are granting freedom of information for hospitals. But in the body of the bill it’s very clear: They’re not willing to do it right away so that people can find out what’s happening. This will not even become the law in Ontario for freedom of information for 15 months. Lest anyone wonder about the time frame, anybody watching on television, 11 months pretty much to today is an election day. This government does not want to be embarrassed by freedom of information about hospitals, about consultants and about anything else in the time leading up to the election. The law is going to come into effect for the new government, whoever that might be, four months after the next election. It will be four months before people are going to be able to find out anything and either praise this government, which is highly doubtful, or condemn them, which is the likely outcome. This bill holds all of that off for 15 months.

Mr. Paul Miller: Timing is everything.

Mr. Michael Prue: My colleague behind me from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek says, “Timing is everything.” I think it is not coincidental at all. It is the reality of what this government is attempting through this legislation: to pretend they are doing something, but in reality hiding their very sad and sorry record. And even when that happens, even when the public gets to find out, the retroactivity clause will only allow the public to go back as far as 2007. It will not allow them to go back any further. It will only allow them to go back to the second mandate of the McGuinty government and not necessarily to the first. We remember that first mandate as well: the hospital waste, the ineptitude of various ministers, the eHealth scandal and everything else that happened.

One of the really sad and sorry and egregious things that happened in the body of this bill is that long-term care has been excluded. I’m very concerned about what’s happening with consultants and monies in hospitals and LHINs, but we need to be ever-vigilant and perhaps even more concerned with what is happening in our long-term-care facilities. We all know or have loved ones—parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, relatives, friends, former neighbours—who live in long-term-care facilities, and we know, those of us who have visited them, that the workers in those facilities try their utmost to befriend, to work with, to help those who are in their senior years who are unable to care for themselves. I take no umbrage against any of the workers. I take no umbrage against anyone who works in those facilities and who tries their best. But I do wonder why this government wants to hide from the public the freedom of information to find out what is happening in the facilities.

One need only open up a newspaper—and the Toronto Star has done a great deal on this recently—to see the sorry state of nursing homes, long-term-care facilities, homes for the aged and everything else. People sitting there in urine-soaked diapers, people sitting there who haven’t been toileted, people eating crummy food, people living a life that we would not wish upon them—and a life where we can do so much better.


Why does this government want to stop freedom-of-information requests on long-term-care facilities? Why are they excluded? Why is nobody talking about this on the government side? Of all the places that should be looked at, these surely are ones, because the people who live in those facilities often don’t have relatives or family that care for them. The only people who speak out on their behalf are the workers who work for and with them. They are the only friends, often, that they have.

They, too, are constrained and they, too, are fearful of speaking out on occasion, because they know if they speak out and if they tell people—if they tell politicians or the media or anyone else about the sorry state—they’re likely to find themselves unemployed. That, too, is the sad reality of what is out there.

If you really want to make sure that something is transparent, then it should be the transparency of our long-term-care facilities. I say that to the government. If this does end up in committee—I’m not sure if it will, but if it does go to committee—then I think one of the amendments that has to be made is to include long-term-care facilities, because these places where people live are going to continue to expand. The population of Ontario and the demographics are such that many, including many in this room, may find themselves, if they’re fortunate enough to live long enough, in one of those places. We need to make sure that those individuals who have worked so hard for this province, who have contributed so much to the life of the people of Ontario, are protected in a way that they are not now protected and will not be protected if this bill is passed as it is.

I ask the members opposite: Cast yourselves in one of those places. Think about who is being affected. Wonder if they are spending money frivolously on consultants and high-priced junkets and everything else, money that could and should be used for better food, better medication, better support, better toileting and better surroundings for our old and infirm. That’s the question that needs to be asked and that’s the question the government needs to act on. I ask all of you on the government side, if you think this is a good bill, go to committee and make it better.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Questions and comments?

Mr. Mario Sergio: I appreciate the comments from the member from Beaches–East York. I can understand that the opposition has a role to play, and sometimes they play their role better than other times. It’s easy to walk into the House, especially if you are in the opposition benches, and rant and rave, if you will. It is part of their job to criticize and it is fair to criticize the government when the government is wrong.

I do hope, as he said at the end of his debate, that indeed the bill will move on to a committee level where he, other members, members of the public and stakeholders can indeed come and make presentations and present suggestions that are really worthwhile to care about and improve the bill.

No bill is ever presented as foolproof, but let me say one particular thing. This is right at the beginning of the report itself. It’s not the opposition’s words, it’s not our words; it comes from the auditor himself, who states: “I am pleased to transmit my Special Report on Consultant Use in Selected Health Organizations, which the Standing Committee on Public Accounts requested pursuant to section 17 of the Auditor General Act.”

It wasn’t the opposition, it was not the government, but the committee did request it and the government acted. It is here because of that. If it wasn’t because of the committee’s recommendations, we wouldn’t be dealing with the report here today. And if it wasn’t because of their request and the action of the Auditor General and the actions of the government to bring Bill 122, we wouldn’t be debating this in the House. I hope that this will continue and make the bill better.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further comments?

Mr. John O’Toole: I’m certainly glad the member from York West spoke instead of the member from Mississauga–Streetsville, but I’m here to respond to the member from Beaches–East York. I have the greatest respect, having known him for quite a few years, and his comments summarized the universal feeling within Ontario: the cynical nature of how this happened.

Here’s what happened. Madam Speaker, you probably know as well that the auditor was doing due diligence on the job and they knew—in fact, through the Premier’s office, they manage when this thing gets launched. When they knew it was coming—and they knew. The member from Newmarket–Aurora said it most succinctly this morning: They knew it was coming and they knew it was a bombshell. So what they did is, they drafted, hastily, a bill—poorly drafted, I might add—and they tried to take it off the front page by saying, cynically, “We’ve responded to the report. We’ve solved the problem, and it’s all over.”

When I hear the member from Beaches–East York, who has found out, as the member from Newmarket–Aurora has as well—it’s just another example for the people of Ontario to keep their eye on how they’re trying to avoid responsibility. Usually they blame Sir John A. Macdonald or somebody for what’s happened in the past, but this time they’ve been caught by the auditor; just like the eHealth scandal, they’ve been caught red-handed.

This bill, Bill 122, that we’re debating this morning, if you look carefully at the language, it even grows the position of cynicism in the people of Ontario. If they wanted to solve the problem—here’s one section. It says, “The Management Board of Cabinet may issue directives and guidelines....” What’s this “may” all about? It should say clearly: “They shall,” and specify a date to file a report. But, no, they are allowing—and there are other sections that are just as neutralized. This is a disappointment.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further comments?

Mr. Paul Miller: I’d just like to commend my colleague from Beaches–East York for his well-thought-out submission.

I’d also like to bring forward to the public out there: Why did this happen? Why did this bill come forward? This bill came forward because there were complaints. This bill came forward because there was all kinds of money going out the door to consultants and other people that shouldn’t have been going out the door with public funds, and also lobbying with public funds and lobbying the government for their own money.

I hear the members over there stand up and take claim for this bill and how wonderful they are that they brought it out. The only reason they brought it out is because they got caught. I’ll tell you right now, this bill should have been out 25 years ago, and a lot stiffer than it is. I think there should be forensic audits of all ministries. I think that every board, every part of this government that has daily hands-on efforts should be audited every year. The public should know exactly where the dollars are going, and then let them be the judge of who is doing a good job and who isn’t. But that hasn’t been the case. Hundreds of millions of dollars go out of this place every year and people out there don’t have any idea where it’s going.

I’ll tell you, just on the eHealth scandal itself, over 60% of the money on eHealth was spent on consultants in five years—66%. They got $100 million out of $388 million worth of hardware and software out of that program. If you multiply that times the 21 other major ministries, plus the other 200-and-something agencies and commissions that this government controls, it would be mind-boggling how much money goes out there. I could do a lot with that money.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further comments?

Mr. Phil McNeely: I want to just read from the auditor’s report:

“More specifically, with respect to the ministry:

“Internal audit reported that for consulting services acquired during the 2008-09 fiscal year, many elements of the directive were being complied with, but there were still deficiencies that needed to be addressed.

“Our work indicated that the ministry was, for the most part, in compliance with the requirements of the revised directive that came into effect in July 2009....”

This, of course, came up in public accounts. That’s where the resolution to enable the auditor to go in and look at hospitals and LHINs came from. Of course, we brought in legislation in 2004 that enabled the auditor to do this type of investigation in the broader public sector. So we have been working to bring that openness here.


One of the major problems, I think, with bringing in consultants has to do with—a lot of those consultant contracts are now in information technology, and a lot of them have follow-through. A consultant gets in and then the contracts get extended because there’s a real learning process to change it. But compared to previous governments, this government has aggressively and successfully reduced its use of consultants. The government has reduced the use of consultants from $656 million in 2001-02 to $304 million in 2009-10. During our tenure, we’ve halved the use of consultants, and that’s very important.

We’ve also brought in something that’s important: IT Source. That came out of the public accounts committee to some extent. IT Source now has 160 full-time equivalents within government that know about information technology and can help our government make better decisions and hire consultants in a more open, transparent way. And we’ll—

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you. The member has two minutes to respond.

Mr. Michael Prue: I thank the members from York West, Durham, Hamilton East–Stoney Creek and Ottawa–Orléans for their comments.

To the member from York West, he is correct: The committee did vote for this. No one is denying that the committee voted for this. But it was upon the motion of the member from Nickel Belt. As I understand from the member from Nickel Belt, it was a motion that was hotly debated and did not appear likely to pass until some considerable pressure was brought to bear. I am proud of what she had to do, what she said and how she got that through committee, and I thank the Liberal members who supported it in the end.

To the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, he is correct in pointing out that the reason that people are angry about what is happening in the hospitals and the LHINs around the consultants—the high-priced flights, the trips to Singapore and Hong Kong and Japan and the lavish meals and alcohol—is that this is money being spent on public funds. That is why we have an obligation to go and look at this, because they are taxpayers’ dollars. Taxpayers do not begrudge money spent on health care facilities, doctors, nurses, home care workers, but they do begrudge money given to consultants for high-living lifestyles with very little to show for it at the end.

To my friend from Ottawa–Orléans, he talked about the reduction in the monies given to consultants. We all welcome that reduction. But could we not aim for zero? Could we not say that we have a bureaucracy that is second to none in the world? To be proud that $304 million is being spent, and we know much of it is being spent as detailed in the auditor’s report, is not something for which he should be proud in the first place.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Pursuant to standing order 47(c), I am now required to interrupt the proceedings to announce that there has been more than six and a half hours of debate on second reading of Bill 122.


Hon. Monique M. Smith: Unfortunately, Mr. O’Toole has no say on this. We have no further debate on this issue.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you. The debate is then deemed adjourned.

Orders of the day.


Resuming the debate adjourned on October 21, 2010, on the motion for second reading of Bill 172, An Act to amend the Ticket Speculation Act / Projet de loi 172, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le trafic des billets de spectacle.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Bill 172, that’s the diversion bill—the bill that came in at the time when the auditor’s report was introduced in the House. Of course, the government wanted to talk about something else, so they brought in Bill 172.

It was first introduced about 18 months ago, I think, and it sat on the shelf. Of course, people should understand, when talking about Bill 172, that this bill will not create one more seat at any venue and this bill will not save one thin dime for anyone buying a ticket to an event. I think that is the important part of keeping in mind what this bill is all about. It was brought in after a Bruce Springsteen concert where tickets were greatly inflated. I think that concert took place in New Jersey. There was also a concert, I believe, in Calgary at about the same time, when there were problems with greatly inflated ticket prices. Of course, this government reacted to public opinion with a piece of legislation that had not been very well thought out.

There are any number of companies who sell or resell tickets. The ones that are controversial of course are sold above the face value of the ticket; others are sold at greatly reduced prices because the venues aren’t full and the supply is outstripping the demand. But those tickets that sell for greatly inflated prices break the law as it now stands in Ontario. You can’t sell tickets above the face value. It’s called scalping, and the laws in Ontario prevent scalping, or are supposed to prevent scalping, from taking place. So if the government were serious about this, they would, of course, have some enforcement of the anti-scalping laws that exist in the province today. That may be an unpopular thing to do in the public. Quite often, the public who don’t have time to buy tickets or don’t know exactly what their availability is going to be tend to buy tickets at the last minute, and those are scalped tickets. It’s kind of a victimless crime. If someone wants to buy a ticket and they pay an inflated price for those tickets, they get what they want and the scalper gets what they want. It’s kind of a victimless crime. Be that as it may, if this government was serious about preventing scalping, they could enforce the law as it now stands.

Of course, this government doesn’t have a very good record on enforcing the law as it now stands. On fully 50%, or very close to 50%, of the cigarettes that are sold in this province, federal and provincial taxes are not collected. They are illegal cigarettes, yet these cigarettes come from a very few sources, perhaps two sources, in the province and are distributed across the province. Yet this government can’t find the smoke shacks that they are sold from and don’t seem to be able to find the tractor-trailer trucks that are carrying these cigarettes, and therefore don’t enforce that law, in the same way that they don’t enforce the scalping laws in the province of Ontario.

Mr. Bruce Crozier: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: Do you have to buy scalped tickets to get cigarettes?

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): That’s not a point of order.

Mr. Bruce Crozier: He’s not speaking on the bill; that’s my point.

Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Apparently the member from Essex isn’t able to comprehend the similarities between not enforcing the law when it deals with scalped tickets and of not enforcing the law when it deals with illegal cigarettes. What we’re talking about here is not enforcing the law of the land. This government has a terrible record when it comes to enforcing the law of the land. They don’t do it on illegal cigarettes and they don’t do it on scalped tickets either. When it comes to law and order, this government’s record is sadly, sadly lacking.


What does Bill 172 do? Bill 172 is a very thin bill; it’s a page and a half, and that includes the translation. It says that it’s “to provide that it is an offence for related primary and secondary sellers to make available for sale in Ontario tickets for admission to the same event.” What that does, of course—there’s only one company in Ontario that does that: Ticketmaster and TicketsNow.

Ticketmaster is a seller of tickets for an organization. Whether it be live plays or whether it be baseball games or hockey games, they will hire someone to sell and distribute their tickets for them. Ticketmaster is a company that does this and does it rather well. I think it’s the largest ticket distributor in North America. It also has a secondary company that will buy tickets that someone has purchased that they no longer need or they’ve purchased them on speculation, one or the other, and they will resell those tickets. That is done through TicketsNow, and there are any number of other companies that do this business as well; Stub Master is one, and there are half a dozen others.

What those secondary sellers do is to ensure that you get a viable ticket—in other words it is not a counterfeit ticket—and they ensure that this viable ticket will get you into the venue and will be accepted at the box office when you show up. That’s a very important thing in today’s environment because it’s so easy to counterfeit tickets and it’s so easy to distribute counterfeit tickets that as a buyer of those tickets, you want to ensure that you’re getting a viable ticket that will get you into the venue. That’s what TicketsNow does.

The rumour was—it was denied by Ticketmaster—that Ticketmaster diverts tickets to TicketsNow. In other words, before the tickets go on sale, TicketsNow gets a whole bunch of tickets from Ticketmaster and they are sold at a premium price.

Mr. John O’Toole: This is confusing.

Mr. Ted Chudleigh: It is somewhat confusing; apparently the government can’t figure it out. But it’s not all that confusing. Ticketmaster strenuously denies in their press releases, they deny in person, they’ve denied this to the government; they’ve had meetings with the Attorney General and they’ve denied that tickets are diverted to TicketsNow. This bill will not affect any other ticket seller in Ontario except for Ticketmaster and TicketsNow. So this bill is aimed at one private sector company, TicketsNow. That seems a little onerous, even for this government, which has not been business-friendly, to pick on one company that denies they’re doing what the government accuses them of doing. The government has not been able to show any proof whatsoever that this is taking place in Ontario.

Mr. Peter Kormos: Urban myths.

Mr. Ted Chudleigh: It’s a bunch of urban myth, as the member from Thorold-Welland talks about. An urban myth, and yet they’ve brought legislation into this House to try and deny this private sector company from carrying on its legal business in this province. Even for this government, I think they have perhaps struck a new low when picking on businesses and creating a playing field that is anything but level. It’s a sad day in Ontario when individual companies are targeted by legislation.

I think in the first part of my truncated speech I mentioned that I would be surprised if this bill ever saw the light of day again, but it’s back, and I don’t understand why the government keeps bringing this bill forward. I think that perhaps there’s a debate in the Liberal Party. I think there are those who would see this bill as being what it is: something that should not come forward. There’s another sector over there which sees this bill as something that should come forward.

I think the Premier is probably on the side of the naysayers, that this bill should not come forward. But I think it’s fair to say that the province is aware that the Premier is travelling to China on a trade mission. He’s out of the way for two weeks, and right away this bill comes before the House. I wonder if something isn’t amiss in the hierarchy—

Hon. Monique M. Smith: We’re running amok.

Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Running amok, is that what the official House leader of the government said? The government is running amok. Of course, without the guidance and the leadership of the Premier, that could very well be the case.

Thank you for that, House Leader. It’s always nice to have clarity.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The time being close to 10:15, this House will adjourn until 10:30.

The House recessed from 1016 to 1030.


Mr. Mike Colle: Today is Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario awareness day. We’ve got IBAO delegates from Fort Frances all the way to Fenelon Falls here today. I’d like to introduce the CEO, Randy Carroll; Bryan Yetman, who is the president; and Peter Burns, who is the incoming president. They’re going to be here at Queen’s Park today, and at 5 p.m. in the dining room IBAO is going to hold a reception. Everybody is welcome to come and meet your local brokers.

Hon. John Wilkinson: It’s my pleasure to introduce Rick Orr from Stratford, who’s visiting today with the IBAO. Welcome, Rick.

Mr. David Zimmer: It’s my great pleasure to introduce the parents and brother of a page from Willowdale. The page’s name is Anika Szabo. Her father, Frank Szabo, is here; her mother, Zsuzsa Alberti, is here; and her younger brother Markus is here. I know Markus wants to be a page someday, too. Welcome to the Legislature. Your daughter is doing a fine job.

Mr. Steve Clark: It’s a great pleasure. I know that there have been other introductions of the insurance brokers, but I’d just like to welcome Brenda Duffy from my riding of Leeds–Grenville, here with the insurance brokers group.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the member from Ajax–Pickering and page Olivia Kelly, to welcome family friend and former legislative page Matthew Kostuch, as well as Jessica Kostuch, Kristen Kostuch and Christine Kostuch, to the members’ gallery today. Welcome back to Matthew particularly.

Mr. Bill Mauro: I think I see, sitting over there in the west gallery, Patricia Krawec from Thunder Bay, with the insurance brokers association as well. I think that’s her. How are you doing; wave if it is. Yes, thank you. I welcome her to the Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Ted Arnott: Likewise, Mr. Speaker, I think I see Steve Wagler there from New Hamburg, who is here with the insurance brokers as well. Welcome.



Mrs. Christine Elliott: My question is for the Minister of Energy. Yesterday, the Minister of Energy denied that he’s planning to expand the $53-million hidden tax the McGuinty Liberals currently make Ontario families pay for hydro. He said, “We will not be applying those fees to the gas industry nor will we be applying those fees to the electricity industry.” But the minister has a track record of backtracking on what he has said about the long-term energy plan and forecast analyses, having them ready for hydro bills for Ontario families by mid-October.

So I have to ask the minister: Are the McGuinty Liberals planning a fee, tax, premium, levy, toll, bill, duty, compulsory contribution or, specifically—and I quote—a “special purpose charge” to hydro or natural gas?

Hon. Brad Duguid: No—


Hon. Brad Duguid: I’m trying to respond, Mr. Speaker, over the hubbub over there. I haven’t even started yet, and they’re already heckling.

As I said yesterday, no, we’re not planning on doing that. And I’ll tell you what else we’re not planning to do: We’re not planning to take us back to where you want to take us when it comes to energy. We’re not planning to put the use of coal up 127% like they did when they were in power. Indeed, instead, we’re going to be out of coal by 2014, making sure that we have cleaner air and healthier outcomes for our kids and grandkids.

I’ll tell you what else we’re not going to do. We’re not going to kill those 50,000 jobs we’re creating in clean energy, jobs that their leader wants to kill. The people of this province need those jobs. That party should come clean—

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

Mrs. Christine Elliott: That’s an interesting response and certainly contrary to past actions. In March, the Ontario PC caucus exposed the regulation to create a special purpose charge, also known as a hidden hydro tax. A month later, the C.D. Howe Institute published a report on the hidden tax on hydro and natural gas, which said, “On its face, the levy is a tax.” This summer, the Ontario Energy Board released a decision that showed the McGuinty Liberals plan to expand the hidden tax to natural gas next year and were ready to fight for the taxation power.

All these documents call it a tax and say it is coming next year. Suddenly, the minister says that it isn’t. What’s changed?

Hon. Brad Duguid: What probably should have changed is her supplementary, because she obviously didn’t hear my first answer. The answer is no. The answer was no yesterday, it was no last week and it’s no today. You can ask me another supplementary, and the answer is still going to be no.

But I can tell you what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to kill the 600 jobs that we’re creating in Windsor that your leader wants to kill. We’re not going to kill the 800 jobs we’re creating in Guelph through our Clean Energy Act that your leader wants to kill. We’re not going to kill the 1,200 jobs we’re creating in Kingston that their party wants to kill, through their lack of support for clean energy in this province. We’re not going to kill the 200 jobs in Oakville that we’re creating through our clean energy initiatives but that they want to kill. We’re not going to kill the 1,000 jobs in Welland.

We’re creating jobs in this province. We’re building a clean energy economy. It’s over their opposition that we’re doing it, but we’re—

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

Mrs. Christine Elliott: I certainly heard the minister’s response, and I’d like to know why the sudden change of heart, because in its April 22 report, the C.D. Howe Institute points out that the McGuinty Liberals ordered the Ontario Energy Board to collect this tax. It not only said that the OEB levy is likely unconstitutional, but said, “In the event of a successful constitutional challenge ... the province would be under a legal obligation to return the revenues.”

Ontario families have already paid the $53-million hidden hydro tax this year, before the minister suddenly let on that he has had a major change of heart here. When were the minister and the Premier planning to tell Ontario families that they’re refunding what they’ve already paid for this illegal tax?

Hon. Brad Duguid: Once again, the answer is no, and it will continue to be no. But I think maybe what the party opposite needs to start talking to Ontarians about is what their leader is suggesting they want to do. They’re talking about this optional time-of-use scheme, which they’ve been talking about now for a few weeks. We’ve looked into that, and I tell you what that scheme is going to do: It’s going to drive up consumer energy rates. They’re trying to put in place a duplicate system of billing that’s going to do nothing but increase administration for local distribution companies.


Guess where those administration costs come from. They come from the very ratepayers. They get up day in and day out and talk about the fact that they don’t support increases when it comes to energy rates, yet their policies would do just that.

You can’t have it both ways. You’re either going to support our efforts to build a strong, clean, reliable and affordable system of energy or you’re not—

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


Mrs. Christine Elliott: Again to the Minister of Energy and his sudden change of heart: The minister’s revelation yesterday that the hidden taxes won’t apply to hydro and natural gas is news to energy companies and consumers who are fighting against the taxes at the Ontario Energy Board.

How and when did the Minister of Energy notify them that the McGuinty Liberals are now scrapping the special purpose charges?

Hon. Brad Duguid: Once again, the answer stays no. It was no three questions ago, it’s no now, it will be no after her next supplementary, and it will be no after her following question.

We’re working very, very hard to ensure that we improve the system of energy that we inherited from them. That system of energy did not have enough supply to meet demand, so we’ve had to create 8,000 new megawatts of power to ensure that Ontario families would have an energy system they can count on. We’ve had to improve our transmission and distribution system. We’ve built over 3,000 kilometres of transmission and distribution. We’ve upgraded that to ensure our system is more reliable.

We’re working very, very hard to clean up our energy production and to get out of coal by 2014.

It would be nice to have the support of the members opposite, but they want to go back to where we were seven years ago. They want to go back—

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

Mrs. Christine Elliott: The minister shifted gears again. He’s saying that the charges won’t apply to gas and hydro, but the Ontario Energy Board says they will. So does the Consumers Council of Canada, which led a constitutional challenge of this $53-million charge that’s being placed on Ontario consumers. They argue that the hidden hydro tax “meets the classic definition of an indirect tax.... This is general revenue for general use.”

The board agreed with them and said, “There is a serious question to be tried” of whether the hidden taxes are constitutional.

As late as August, the energy minister was still fighting tooth and nail for Premier McGuinty’s hidden tax. Please tell us, Minister: What changed?

Hon. Brad Duguid: A lot has changed in the last seven years; I can tell you that.

That party, when they were in office, was steadfastly against any initiative that involved conservation. Since the McGuinty government came to office, we, with the people of Ontario, have saved 1,700 megawatts of power over the last seven years. That’s a phenomenal increase in terms of conservation initiatives.

We look forward to bringing forward our long-term energy plan, which is going to provide greater stability and certainty when it comes to energy in this province. Unlike those guys, we’re no longer planning hour to hour to keep the lights on. What we’re doing is we’re planning 20 years in advance. We’re planning well into the next generation to ensure that we pass on an energy system that’s strong, reliable and clean to that next generation—

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

Mrs. Christine Elliott: The case heard by the Ontario Energy Board just weeks ago wasn’t just about hydro receiving the $53-million tax. Consumers Council of Canada warned again that “Ontario will likely impose similar levies on customers of the province’s two biggest gas utilities, raising an additional $100 million or more in total.”

Natural gas companies and consumers are worried enough about the new hidden taxes that they took part in the OEB hearings, where the Attorney General fought for the power to keep collecting the taxes.

Now the McGuinty Liberals are backtracking once again. Is it because of the efforts of the PC caucus or because Premier McGuinty broke the law to collect these hidden taxes?

Hon. Brad Duguid: As I predicted, I guess for the sixth time, the answer is no, we’re not doing that.

But what I will say is this: We will not do what they did. We will not disinvest from the energy system. We will continue to invest in our energy infrastructure. We’re not going to leave the next generation in the lurch like you left our generation.

After their years in office, they had the use of coal going up 27%, polluting our air, impacting the health of ourselves and our kids. By 2014, we’ll be one of the first jurisdictions in the world—indeed, something that all Ontarians will take some pride in—to be completely out of coal.

We will continue to invest in building a strong system of energy. We’ll continue to ensure that Ontario families have a power system that they can count on. That stands in stark contrast to what they did seven years ago, and it still stands in stark contrast to where they want to go in the years ahead.

We’re going to stand by Ontario families to ensure they have—

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


Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Acting Premier. Yesterday, in response to questions about donations to the Ontario Liberal Party, CEOs of public utilities said that they gave because that is how they got access to this government. Does the minister think that families paying sky-high electricity rates want to see their money spent on political fundraisers?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The leader of the third party failed to disclose yesterday in her questioning in this House that she in fact had accepted contributions from fully regulated energy companies. The leader of the third party accepted a $1,000 contribution to her leadership campaign.

I had to be very careful, sir; I didn’t want to use language that would offend this House to describe the leader, but I did find a very interesting quote from Shakespeare, Mr. Speaker, where he says, “Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all.”

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Members will please come to order. I would like to hear the honourable member’s supplementary.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: Once again, we see a growing gap between what the government says and what the government does. People paying sky-high hydro rates—


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock. That was a grand total of 13 seconds from when I asked the members to come to order till I sat down and had to stand again.

Please continue.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: People paying sky-high hydro bills expect that the money that they pay to the utility company, that they own, covers the cost of electricity—it’s pretty simple—not the costs of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Will this government finally do the right thing and simply ban donations from public utilities today?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Again, Mr. Speaker, out of respect to you, I’d like to quote from Molière before I respond to that. He said, “One should examine oneself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others.” What made me think of that? That party accepted thousands of dollars from Enwave, whose shareholders are public entities: the city of Toronto and OMERS.

Mr. Speaker, you may want to caution the member opposite that she could seriously injury herself falling off of her high horse.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: It’s apparent that the real problem is that the finance minister and Acting Premier doesn’t know the difference between a public company and a private company. That’s obviously the problem that this government has. They’ve lost touch.

Public utilities are saying that this is simply—


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Please continue.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: Public utilities are saying this is simply the way Ontario works. Canadian Press reports, “The utility viewed the Liberal fundraisers as necessary networking events.” How can the minister claim that he’s running an open and accountable government, which is what this government claims all the time, when public utilities say they need to attend Liberal fundraisers just to do their jobs?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: You know, Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested that leaders like the leader of the third party ought to go put your creed into deed.

Let’s reveal a little bit more of what our friends in the party opposite did. They accepted $1,200 from Five Nations Energy and failed to disclose that yesterday or to disclose it as a public utility. That’s a non-profit utility owned by Attawapiskat, Fort Albany and Kashechewan First Nations. The tone of the question suggests that the member opposite hasn’t done any of this when, in fact, we have more examples to talk about. They’ve been doing it; they’ve been doing it for years. You know what? It’s just another example of how little credibility they have on issues of this nature.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also to the Acting Premier. The minister says his government is open and accountable. It’s a refrain we hear all the time. But at least four publicly owned hydro companies have recently hired lobbyists. Horizon Utilities Corp., a municipally owned corporation in the cities of Hamilton and St. Catharines, has paid Liberal insiders Andrew Steele and David MacNaughton to lobby the province. Why should Ontario families and ratepayers, who are already facing skyrocketing hydro bills, pay Liberal insiders to lobby for publicly owned corporations?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: What people do remember—and we’ll talk more about that member’s own record in the supplementaries. But I think what the people of Ontario will remember are some of the things this party has done to ensure openness and transparency. We protected northern representation, keeping them with 11 ridings. We have provided real-time disclosure to make democracy more transparent, with real disclosure political donations so the NDP could no longer hide $7,400 donations from Suncor. We banned taxpayer-funded partisan ads. We did the Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Act that made sure the Auditor General signs off on the books before an election. This party has a record of openness and transparency. It’s only after a little bit of scrutiny we find out—

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Toronto Hydro has a lobbyist, and until recently, Thunder Bay Hydro did, too. Lana Landry from Thunder Bay writes this: “In this past four months my hydro bill has increased by more than $100. My husband and I work hard.... Lately, it really feels like we will never get ahead in saving money.”

Why are Ms. Landry and her family paying for lobbyists when hydro CEOs should be able to pick up the phone and call the energy minister?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The honourable member opposite forgets to inform the people of Ontario that she was part of Hamilton city council when they hired Strategy Corp. to lobby for them. It didn’t stop there. The member for city council also hired a lobbyist named John Matheson to help her arrange meetings and make phone calls. The member for Toronto–Danforth failed to inform Ontarians that he was a registered lobbyist with Greenpeace and the Ontario Nurses’ Association. In fact, federal filings show that the member for Toronto–Danforth continued to be a lobbyist for nearly two months after he was elected an MPP.

There are always challenges in providing openness and accountability. No government has done more for openness and accountability than the McGuinty government. No government has done more to ensure taxpayers that they get good value for their money in all of the decisions we—


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

Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: No government has done more to ensure that public money goes into the pockets of their friends. That’s what’s happening in Ontario these days. Public money that’s meant for hospitals, that’s meant for universities, that’s meant for colleges, that’s meant for public utilities is being diverted to consultants, to lobbyists and to Liberal Party coffers, all with the McGuinty government’s approval. This is what’s happening in this province, and it’s simply wrong.

Why should Ontario families believe that this government will make life more affordable, will make hydro rates more affordable, when it only seems to be concerned with rewarding their friends, insiders and their own Liberal, partisan war chest?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The leader of the third party lost all of her credibility after a line of questions yesterday and when we revealed the fact that what she was accusing this party of they’ve been doing for many years, in fact.

We have moved on a number of fronts—


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Member from Hamilton East, please come to order.


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): And Trinity–Spadina.

Please continue.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: We have taken a number of steps to improve accountability, most recently the legislation that my colleague the Minister of Health introduced. Our hope is that the third party will support that legislation.

I would just remind you and the House that according to Charles Caleb Colton, “No sinners are so intolerant as those that have just turned saints.” They’ve got a track record, and we’ll continue to expose it for what it is: fallacy and phoniness all around.


Mr. John Yakabuski: My question is for the Minister of Energy. Yesterday, following question period, the Minister of Energy was asked by media about the special purposes charge, also known as your hidden tax on hydro and natural gas. He told the media, “We will not be applying those fees to the gas industry,” and no longer applying those to the electricity industry.

Are the hidden taxes on hydro and natural gas gone for good, or only for this, the election year?

Hon. Brad Duguid: For the seventh time, no, we’re not raising any fees when it comes to our efforts to continue to invest in conservation. But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to take their advice and not continue to work hard on conservation with Ontarians. We have a lot of work to do with Ontarians when it comes to working very hard to ensure that we’re conserving as much as we possibly can in this province. We’re going to continue with that work and we’re going to continue to ensure that Ontario is a global example when it comes to conservation.

We’ve saved over 1,700 megawatts of power. That’s billions of dollars when it comes to what we would have had to build in terms of plants. It’s very significant, and that saves, ultimately, ratepayers’ dollars in the long run.

We’re doing energy and we’re doing it smart. We’re going to continue to invest in conservation, unlike that party, who totally opposes conservation—

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

Mr. John Yakabuski: If the Minister of Energy wants Ontario families to take what he said about these hidden taxes seriously, he would scrap schedule D of the Green Energy Act, the part of the act that gives you this special secret taxing authority. You have yet to introduce legislation that would accomplish that, and you’ve backtracked so often you can’t even keep your own current policy straight.

When can Ontario families and industry expect legislation that will repeal this section of the Green Energy Act that gives you those secret taxing powers?

Hon. Brad Duguid: We know that the party opposite opposes the Green Energy Act and the 50,000 jobs that come with it. We know that because they stand in this place and oppose those investments day in and day out, while their members join us in cutting the ribbons when those jobs across this province are being announced.

Will the member opposite join me in Sarnia–Lambton, where 800 jobs have been created? Will he go eyeball to eyeball with me and those 800 families that are getting work out of this Green Energy Act, and tell them that he and his—


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): To the member from Renfrew, you just asked—

Mr. John Yakabuski: But he challenged the member.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): You’re challenging the Speaker. The member knows the rules. If he’s not satisfied with an answer that he receives from a minister, he can call for a late show.



Hon. Brad Duguid: That’s okay, Mr. Speaker. I’m taller on skates, I say to the member opposite.

Will the member go to Kingsville with me and meet those families in Kingsville, where they’re getting 300 jobs, and tell those families that he and his leader oppose their jobs? Will the member go up to Timmins–James Bay, where 800 jobs are being created in the north? Will he join me in the north and tell those northerners that their—

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


Mr. Peter Kormos: To the Deputy Premier: Every time Ontarians open another bill they get the shock of their lives. On Monday it’s the hydro bill, and then on Tuesday it’s the insurance bill. At a time when hard-pressed Ontarians can barely keep their heads above water, why won’t this government listen to the insurance brokers, to the consumers’ groups and to anti-poverty groups and ban the use of credit scores in the home insurance industry?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: We have in fact banned the use of it in those areas over which we have complete jurisdiction, most recently in auto insurance. We recognize the challenges associated with tied selling and have taken steps to correct that.

We will continue to work with the industry and stakeholders, as we did in the most recent process, to bring forward a balanced set of reforms that will ensure Ontarians have good protection; that we don’t protect those who abuse the system; and finally, ensure that rates grow at a very modest rate over time.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Kormos: Ontarians are hurting, and the last thing they need is to open their bills and find insurance premiums that jumped 50% or even 100% just because they were a little late on a credit card payment. The province has banned the use of credit scores on auto insurance and I just can’t understand, if it isn’t valid for auto insurance, why the government insists that it’s valid when it comes to home insurance.

Other provinces have already moved on this. There’s a solid front of brokers and consumers’ groups demanding the end to this profoundly unfair practice. Will this government ban the use of credit scores in determining home insurance premiums or, once again, is it going to cave in to powerful insurance lobbies and abandon Ontario homeowners?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Again, the member’s question draws into consideration the integrity of the NDP position on this. He suggested that insurance rates have gone up 50%; nothing could be further from the truth. Since 2003, they’ve gone up 5%. That’s not according to me, that’s according to the regulator, and that’s over seven years.

It’s passing fancy to see the member opposite, who wants to put insurance brokers out of business because he supports public auto insurance—it is passing fancy to see him doing that.

I say to the brokers from across Ontario, we’ll work with you and with your industry to ensure that our insurance products are comprehensive, they’re good products, the price increases are modest and they serve all Ontarians well, including the industry itself.


Ms. Helena Jaczek: My question is for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. The first week of November is marked by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute as Canadian Patient Safety Week. Since 2005, this has become a national annual campaign as part of the institute’s mandate to build and advance a safer health system for Canadians. I have heard that implementing electronic medical records is one of the ways that we can make our health care system safer for patients, so I would ask the Minister of Health: Are we making progress on this front, and how will electronic medical records help patient safety?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Thank you to the remarkable member from Oak Ridges–Markham for this question. The member opposite is absolutely right: Implementing electronic medical records helps us make Ontario’s health system safer.

Earlier this morning I stopped by Taddle Creek Family Health Team, just down the street, to announce that we have achieved a significant milestone when it comes to electronic medical records. More than five million Ontarians now have their care managed electronically. That’s an increase of more than 80% in just one year.

There is no doubt that building an electronic health system does improve patient safety. One way patient safety is enhanced is that e-records can help doctors prevent medication errors when writing and renewing prescriptions. Another way is that doctors have access to the entire patient history and can prompt tests when—

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

Ms. Helena Jaczek: I’m pleased to hear of the progress we’re making on e-records, and I understand that these records will help make the patient experience safer.

Minister, there are many aspects to patient safety. It is my understanding that your ministry is compiling information on outbreaks in hospitals that also put too many people at risk. Just a few years ago, there were outbreaks of Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, in hospitals across Ontario. In fact, my father was made very ill with this infection. There were even tragic deaths as a result of this outbreak.

I know that C. diff rates are one of the areas that we now report on. Can the minister please tell this House what is being done to promote patient safety in our hospitals, especially related to issues like C. diff rates?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Ontario’s hospitals have helped to make the province a leader in reporting patient safety indicator results and have created an unprecedented level of transparency.

Let me give you a couple of examples. C. difficile rates, as mentioned by the member, have steadily declined in this province since public reporting began, to the point where, in September 2010, the provincial rate was 0.23 cases per thousand patient days. That’s compared to 0.39 in August 2008. That’s almost half, and it’s the lowest rate since public reporting began. And it’s very promising to see that in this year’s annual report, Ontario hospitals have improved their rate of hand hygiene compliance over last year.

I’m very proud of the progress that we’re making, and I’m proud to recognize Patient Safety Week in Ontario.


Ms. Sylvia Jones: My question is for the Minister of Energy. The shift to time-of-use billing makes hydro most expensive from 7 to 11 a.m. Are you so out of touch that you don’t understand you’re hitting Ontario families when they have no choice but to use hydro when it is at its most expensive? Why is Premier McGuinty against Ontario families having a choice between time-of-use and flat-rate billing, as our leader Tim Hudak has suggested?

Hon. Brad Duguid: I’m delighted to respond to that. The reason why we oppose your leader’s silly scheme is that it’s going to drive costs up for consumers. It’s something we simply don’t want to do. It’s going to make local distribution companies have to set up duplicate billing systems. That doesn’t make sense. What it’s also going to do is drive down the incentives to encourage consumers to shift off of peak use. What that’s going to do is increase costs to the entire system.

Once again, the Tories come out with something that’s simplistic, that’s sloganistic, but at the same time just doesn’t make sense and is going to drive costs up for consumers. They did it to consumers seven years ago when they cost us billions of dollars through their messing around with deregulation. They just want to do it again, and Ontarians are too smart to give them a chance. They did it to us once before, and we’re not going to let them—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Sylvia Jones: Let me tell you what Ontario families are opposed to. They are opposed to you micromanaging every single decision. They are opposed to the Premier Dad, father-knows-best attitude, and they are so opposed to Ontario families being forced to pay more and more with every single asinine idea that you come up with in cabinet.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I’d ask the honourable member to withdraw the comment.

Ms. Sylvia Jones: I withdraw. What I meant to say was “random thought.” It’s just sometimes they match.

Premier McGuinty has said time-of-use pricing would save Ontario families, but people tell me they are paying more. The new time-of-use billing has hit families again at the end of the day when they come home from school and work. What do the McGuinty Liberals have—

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

Hon. Brad Duguid: I strongly suggest that the Tory party get their act together when it comes to what they want to do with time of use. They’re putting forward an initiative that would jack up rates for consumers, something that we adamantly oppose. We do not want to go there. We do not want to do what they want to do, and that’s to make consumers pay for a duplicate billing system. We simply don’t want to do that.

There was a time when they thought differently. I have a report here called “Energy for the Future.” This is a report that comes from February 2006 and it was written by their energy critic, the member for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke. This is what it said: We have to invest in conservation to offset demand. We have to invest in demand management—to shift peaks and consumption to off hours.

That’s exactly what we’re doing. Now, they’ve got their caucus standing up in opposition to that. We’re working hard with Ontarians to do all we can to try to shift usage—

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



Ms. Cheri DiNovo: My question is to the Minister of Labour. Mr. Robert Nagle from Hamilton Mountain wants to know why, after two years, he’s still waiting for employment standards to get him the $14,000 that his employer owes him. When you are unemployed, two weeks is too long to wait for money owed to you, but two years is simply a travesty. When will the minister finally fix the ridiculous and unacceptable delays at employment standards?

Hon. Peter Fonseca: I want to thank the member for the opportunity to discuss how we’ve changed the Employment Standards Act and allowed for a much quicker response when it comes to claims. That being said, I have to commend our employment standards officers. They are closing a record number of claims these days. They are closing 40% more claims than they were doing just two years ago.

But that being said, we’ve changed the Employment Standards Act to where we can now expedite claims by having those claimants either contact their employer through email, phone or mail, and they can, through that contact, be able to get their money in their hands a lot quicker.

I will say to the member that, under this specific case, the individual should contact the ministry again, look at the new process and how we’re expediting claims.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Mr. Nagle tells us that his MPP advised that when and if he ever gets his money, it will only be $10,000 because that’s the maximum employment standards can award.

Why hasn’t the McGuinty government changed this legislation to protect workers and ensure they get every cent that is owed to them? Under the current system, the employer is rewarded for delaying, denying and not paying workers what they are owed.

When will the Minister of Labour start protecting workers and change the ridiculous law?

Hon. Peter Fonseca: Our record speaks for itself. This party has been on the side of vulnerable workers. This party has been assisting and protecting workers with changes to legislation, and part of those changes has been through the Employment Standards Act.

We’re making it much easier for any employee who feels they’ve been mistreated or feels their rights have been violated when it comes to employment standards, so that they can make their claims a lot more easily.

We have added an additional $10 million to our employment standards officers to help claimants through the process, and we’ve done this in a number of ways. We understand there are vulnerable workers out there and they need more assistance. We provide services in 23 different languages. We want to eliminate those barriers and make it as easy as possible for those hard-working men and women to get the money they are owed—

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


Mrs. Maria Van Bommel: This question is for the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. As a member of the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, I had the opportunity to visit the James Bay area. I paid close attention, as I know all members of the select committee did, when earlier this year, Chief Solomon of the Mushkegowuk council that represents First Nations communities near the James Bay coast declared a state of emergency because of youth suicides. We continue to hear through the media about First Nations youth in crisis in other parts of the north, specifically at Fort Hope.

I know from personal experience that our government is working hard to build stronger relationships with our aboriginal peoples and communities. This is a serious issue and it requires both immediate, intermediate and long-term solutions.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, I know the federal government has responsibility for a large number of—

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

Hon. Christopher Bentley: An important question, and let me just say at the outset, I’d like to thank the member from Lambton–Kent–Middlesex, my colleague Kevin Flynn and colleagues all around the Legislature for the great work they did on the mental health report, the all-party legislative committee report.

The issue with respect to youth suicide in many northern communities—indeed, also southern communities—of First Nations is a very serious one. I did speak to Chief Solomon from Kashechewan about five months ago, and I know my colleagues the Minister of Children and Youth Services, the Minister of Health and others are working on a longer-term solution.

We said, “What can we do in the short term?” What we did was we worked with the Minister of Health Promotion. We’ve got four youth wellness workers in three different communities to start engaging young people in positive sports and related activities—

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

Mrs. Maria Van Bommel: It is important that our government is responding to the concerns brought forward by the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council and that we are listening to Fort Hope’s concerns, and I feel that partnering with a private and not-for-profit organization is an important part of helping First Nations communities.

In the 2010 speech from the throne, the government recognized “that in a time of more limited resources, we all need to work together to move our province forward.” It is important to recognize that private and not-for-profit organizations play a key role in government priorities such as poverty reduction. Can the minister tell us how the Ontario government used this advice to partner with other organizations to help address some of the challenges faced by aboriginal youth?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: The member is right.

We had four youth wellness workers in three different communities along the James Bay coast. Last week, with my colleague from Etobicoke–Lakeshore, the Minister of Children and Youth Services, we joined Canadian Tire Jumpstart. They’re investing in activity kits for seven communities along the coast and they’re also funding a community coach in an additional community. The goal is really to make sure that the young people in a community can see a brighter tomorrow than they saw yesterday.

In addition, with my colleague who is now the Minister of Energy, the previous minister in this post, Right to Play has worked with community donors such as the Tanenbaum foundation to fund a worker in Moosonee and Moose Factory. In addition to that, we are working with the Belinda Stronach Foundation.

We’ve provided money on behalf of the people of Ontario to provide five communities in the province of Ontario with one laptop per child—

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


Mr. Norm Miller: My question is for the Minister of Finance. Minister, RBC and the Insurance Bureau of Canada have both raised the alarm bell about growing fraud in the auto insurance sector. Their reports show fraud on the rise in Ontario, costing $1.3 billion annually. They say that unnecessary medical assessments are increasingly eating up premium dollars.

In FSCO’s five-year auto insurance review, recommendation 21 was: “Consider having treatment plans completed only after a referral is made by the health professional primarily responsible for the claimant’s rehabilitation (in most cases a family physician).” Minister, why did you fail to implement a recommendation that could have had a real impact on this type of fraud?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: In fact, we brought forward a range of changes to prevent specifically that kind of fraud, and that member’s party didn’t support it. But that shouldn’t be a surprise, because insurance rates went up 43% in the last two years of their administration.

We worked with the insurance industry. We worked with brokers. We worked with a range of others.


Hon. Dwight Duncan: I remind too, as well—they like to cackle over there, but they voted against lowering auto insurance rates by voting against Bill 5 in 2003. They voted against and didn’t support the range of changes we brought about to ensure greater competitiveness and to help wipe out the very abuse that the member opposite speaks of.

These are always difficult balances to find. We found the appropriate balance with the support of many in the industry and with the support of consumers, and we will continue to keep a lid on skyrocketing car insurance premiums.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Norm Miller: The minister gives a very partisan answer to a legitimate question.

The Globe and Mail reports that target-and-bullet schemes profit by involving questionable medical clinics and supposed victims billing insurers hundreds of thousands of dollars from a single car accident to cover assessments and treatments that in some cases don’t even take place.

Minister, American states put a concentrated effort into deterring fraud. As a result, Canadian investigators say they have tracked insurance fraudsters from other jurisdictions to Canada.


As the minister responsible, you need to get serious about fraud. Will you at least consider taking steps to protect consumers from unscrupulous toll operators who take kickbacks from fraudsters?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: We did, and they didn’t support that. In fact, here’s what one of their caucus members, Mr. Klees, had to say: “We have to get government out of that industry to the degree we can and allow the insurance companies to set their rates and to set policies.”

We think it’s about more than that. We think it is about ensuring a balance. No government has done more to take fraud out of the system than this government. No government has a better track record in keeping insurance premiums down. In fact, in the first four years of our administration, they went down 16%. Over the life of the administration they went up only 5%, well below the rate of inflation.

These are difficult balances to reach. I’m glad that, working with the consumers and with the industry, we found the proper balance to help ensure that the 43% increase in premiums they saw under that government, under the Conservative government, will never happen again.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Acting Premier. As winter comes to northwestern Ontario, families are being squeezed with sky-high hydro bills. Eliana Wittwer from Dryden writes this: “I just want to be very clear and state my point, that HST should definitely be taken off the hydro bill. It has made life so much more difficult, to make ends meet and to keep up with paying the bills.”

I think the minister needs to explain to Ms. Wittwer and others like her why this government voted yesterday against the NDP motion to do exactly that and take the HST off the hydro bills.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: We have provided personal tax cuts in the amount of $12 billion over four years, because we have the most generous harmonized sales tax tax credit in the country and because we are helping consumers with a special property and energy tax credit, which that member and her party voted against.

We are facing the challenges in our electricity system full on to ensure that we never have the problems we had before. By investing in transmission, by creating jobs, by investing in generation—all of these initiatives will help ensure a more reliable and cost-effective energy system.

The tax package we gave to all Ontarians, which that member voted against, was the most generous in Ontario history. We’ll continue to practise good public policy in the interest of all Ontarians.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Jim Irish, a Kenora senior on a fixed income, writes: “The vote on Monday regarding the removal of HST on home hydro is crucial to the quality of daily life for many seniors in northwestern Ontario....”

Mr. Irish needs a break on his hydro bill. Why have the McGuinty Liberals rejected our proposal to give seniors like him a break by taking the HST off of hydro?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: You know, I hope she’s writing back to all the correspondents she’s quoting and telling them that she wants to raise the provincial sales tax by 1%, because that’s what she and her party told this government.

The leader again—conveniently—only tells a part of the story. The leader doesn’t want all the facts out there because it will undermine her credibility. She doesn’t want to tell people that they had a huge $12-billion personal tax cut. She doesn’t want to tell those people that if we let the system go the way it was going under previous governments, we would have had deep, deep problems well into the future.

These are difficult choices, but they’re the right choices. We have chosen to cut personal taxes. We have given generous sales tax credits and have created energy credits for all Ontarians. That’s what good public policy is. That’s what credible public policy is.


Mr. Kuldip Kular: My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. In my riding of Bramalea–Gore–Malton, there has been a lot of talk regarding municipal funding and financial commitments by our government. In fact, the leader of the official opposition recently visited my community of Brampton and suggested that provincial funding has been slowed in my community and, in fact, in communities all across Ontario. He mentioned a lot of financial pressures and suggested that these were attributed to our government and its relationship with the municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, can he please outline for the House and the constituents in Bramalea–Gore–Malton exactly what this government is doing to help alleviate the burden of local taxpayers?

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: I want to thank the member from Bramalea–Gore–Malton for the question. It is truly unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition would suggest that we’re underfunding municipalities. When we came to power, we understood the pressures that municipalities were faced with, pressures imposed upon them by the previous Progressive Conservative government. The Harris government, of which the Leader of the Opposition was a cabinet minister, downloaded the cost of many services like public health, land ambulance, ODSP and social housing onto the backs of the municipal taxpayer and didn’t provide any extra cash.

When we formed government, we put an end to the Conservative record against municipalities. We are now in the process of uploading the costs of several services because we understand the burden placed on municipalities by that government when they were in power.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Kuldip Kular: While it’s unfortunate the leader of the official opposition would make such comments on our relationship with municipalities, I’m happy to hear that our government continues its commitment to upload the cost of services which were downloaded by the previous government.

My question is again to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I couldn’t help but notice that your answer did not make any mention of financial commitments. The minister did make mention of our government’s plan to upload the costs borne from a variety of circumstances but did not touch on what it will mean to my community. Constituents in my riding want to know what they will be saving and how their pocketbooks will be affected.

To the minister: Could he please tell this House what these uploads will mean for my community financially?

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: That, again, is a very fair and legitimate question. This year the taxpayers in Peel region will see an estimated savings of more than $27 million through these uploads. By 2018, we will have finished the uploading process and municipalities across Ontario will end up seeing a $1.5-billion-a-year benefit.

We all remember that when the official opposition was the government, PC stood for public cuts, public chaos, public confrontation. That’s them. That is what they’re all about. On this side of the House, the McGuinty government is about uploading services, uploading costs, uploading burden, because we understand what municipalities’ pressures are. We understand that we have to work together. It’s not about fighting. It’s about collaboration. It’s about getting along—

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


Mr. Ted Chudleigh: My question is to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Milton hospital was built to service a community of 30,000 people. Today we have a population of 90,000 and we’re expected to reach 180,000 within 10 years.

In 2007, Milton began a process to expand its hospital. For three years, the people of Milton have waited, with no answers and no movement from your ministry. Over the same time, this government’s health minister has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on consultants, enough to cover the cost of Milton hospital’s expansion.

Minister, please explain to my consultants—


Mr. Ted Chudleigh: —to my constituents; you can also explain to your consultants—why your priority has been hiring consultants, as opposed to front-line needs of the Milton hospital.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I am very proud of the investments that we have made in improving and rebuilding the infrastructure of our hospitals. Yes, the project in Milton is one of the ones that we are looking at, as you well know.

But let’s just look: 18 new hospitals built or under way since 2003. These are new hospitals: William Osler, Royal Ottawa Health Care, West Parry Sound Health Centre, Peterborough Regional Health Centre, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Mattawa General Hospital, Runnymede Healthcare Centre, Bloorview Kids Rehab, the regional hospital in Sudbury, the Pembroke Regional Hospital, Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre. These are all hospitals that are complete.

Under construction: Niagara Health System, North Bay Regional Health Centre, the Sault Area Hospital, the Woodstock General Hospital, Bridgepoint Health, Sarnia Bluewater Health, Cornwall—

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


Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Minister, you apologized for the eHealth 2.0 fiasco. You did it sincerely, and you did it with emotion. Yet that answer tells me—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I remind the member he should be speaking through the Chair.

Mr. Ted Chudleigh: While you spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past three years on consultants, you were delaying the essential expansion of the Milton hospital. We’re not talking about other hospitals or LHINs; we’re talking about money that was spent by your ministry. I think the message is very clear: My constituents mean a lot less than your Liberal consultants.

Minister, for the people of Milton, please explain why you believe it’s okay to spend their hard-earned tax dollars on consultants instead of the much-needed hospital.


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock. The members on the government side will please come to order.


Hon. Deborah Matthews: We are also expanding more cancer centres in Ontario than ever before in the province’s history. We’ve got 15 cancer projects: Eight are complete, and six are under construction.

Complete: the Ottawa Hospital Queensway Carleton site, the Hamilton Health Sciences Juravinski Cancer Centre, the Grand River Hospital, the Credit Valley Hospital Carlo Fidani Peel Regional Cancer Centre, Lakeridge Health R. S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre, Sudbury Regional Hospital, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and Southlake Regional Health Centre.

Under construction: the Ottawa Hospital at the Ottawa General Hospital site, the Royal Victoria Hospital of Barrie—I have to take a breath, there are so many—Hamilton Health Sciences Centre, the Kingston General Hospital Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario, Credit Valley Hospital and Niagara Health System.

We have 117 projects under way. We are very proud of the capital. When you—

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


Mr. Paul Miller: My question is to the Acting Premier. On November 6, US Steel will be in a legal position to lock out members of Local 1005, United Steelworkers, who are employed at the Hilton Works plant in Hamilton. US Steel has continually thumbed its nose at both the federal and provincial governments since, aided by this government’s money, it took ownership from Stelco in 2007.

When will this government take action to protect the steelworkers of Hamilton?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I’d remind the member opposite that the money he referred to, in fact, went into the pensions of those workers. He can torque up his language all he wants; that is the simple reality.

We have worked in a number of situations, including when this problem first emerged. We will continue to work with all the parties interested in the interests of protecting jobs and, by the way, pensions.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Paul Miller: These jobs, critical to Hamilton’s economy, support secondary industries and even some sole suppliers of steel-related products to these mills. They may all close. If this lockout, like the Lake Erie plant’s, lasts many months, we can anticipate foreclosures, bankruptcies and more pressure on Hamilton’s social safety net.

We don’t want the sympathy this government has stated—“We care about the workers”—or stories that they’ll retrain them.

They make $25 to $30 an hour. What jobs of equal—I repeat, equal—financial and economic value is this government planning for the steelworkers of the city of Hamilton?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: This is an incredibly difficult time for those workers, their families and the community of Hamilton.

I do need to inform the House, first of all, that Ministry of Labour mediators are available at all times. The Ministry of Economic Development remains in contact with the company.

I should also remind the member opposite, as he torques up his rhetoric, that US Steel plants in Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota have also been idled. That adds to the layoffs and closures at other plants.

This is a serious matter that ought to be taken seriously. We’ve invested $150 million to protect the pensions of those workers. All the services in the government of Ontario will be available to those workers and to that community, as they have been up until now, to help deal with these very difficult circumstances.


Mr. David Orazietti: My question is to the Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry. We’re all aware of the challenges the forestry sector continues to face, including rising operating costs and the high Canadian dollar, but our government has taken unprecedented steps to support Ontario’s forestry industry. Through the forest sector initiatives program, we’ve made available $500 million in combined grants and loan guarantees to stimulate manufacturing, equipment renewal and energy conservation. These commitments are getting results.

Recently, the minister informed us that a $25-million investment we’re making in Terrace Bay Pulp will assist in the restart of the mill and return to work roughly 300 employees.

This past Friday—more progress—we announced that St. Marys Paper is reopening in Sault Ste. Marie. Minister, could you please tell us how we made possible the reopening of St. Marys Paper?

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Just before the minister starts, to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, I don’t appreciate, and the members don’t appreciate, the interjections across the floor that are obviously directed at each other. Please take those discussions outside the chamber.


Hon. Michael Gravelle: This is indeed a very, very good-news story—another good-news story in the forestry sector with the reopening of St. Marys Paper. Certainly I want to commend the extraordinarily hard work by the member for Sault Ste. Marie. To have this mill reopen is great news.

Very specifically, our government has provided St. Marys Paper with an $8.8-million repayable loan, a loan that will mean that the operations at the mill will be resuming production very soon and that 170 workers are going back to work. We know this loan is going to help this mill move in a very different direction and help St. Marys take advantage of new opportunities in green energy and bio-economy opportunities. It is just simply a great good-news story.

More work: the Terrace Bay Pulp mill, 340 jobs; St. Marys Paper, 170 jobs. Great work by the member from Sault Ste. Marie.

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


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I just want to take this opportunity—earlier in introductions, I neglected, in introducing page Olivia Kelly’s friends, to introduce her mother, and I apologize. Welcome, Wendy Kelly, to Queen’s Park today.

There being no deferred votes, this House stands recessed until 3 p.m.

The House recessed from 1137 to 1500.


Mr. Jim Brownell: It’s my honour this afternoon to introduce some guests in the gallery to my right. We have Rick Hatt, who is a descendant of Major Richard Hatt, a veteran of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane and whose remains lie buried in the Cooley-Hatt Cemetery, now threatened with relocation; Rick Hatt’s wife, Catherine Hatt; Marjorie Stuart, cemetery volunteer and editor of Cemetery News with the Ontario Historical Society; Diane Clendenan, cemetery volunteer with the Ontario Genealogical Society; Steve Clendenan, vice-president, finance, the Ontario Genealogical Society; and Rob Leverty, executive director of the Ontario Historical Society. Probably joining them will be Bob Crawford, secretary of the Ontario Genealogical Society. I welcome you this afternoon.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I’d like to introduce le consul de la République du Congo, M. Jean-Michel Itoua, qui est le père de la page Priscile. Bienvenue à Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I too want to take this opportunity to welcome my good friend the consul general from Congo here today. It’s a real honour to have you here, and I’m sure it’s a proud moment for you to be here to watch your daughter, Priscile, serve as a page in this Legislature. Welcome, consul general.



Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Later today many Ontario wineries will be participating in a tasting to select the Ontario Legislative Assembly wine for 2011. It’s an important decision because that year is a significant milestone for the Ontario wine industry. It marks 200 years since Johann Schiller, the father of the Ontario wine industry, opened the first commercial winery in Ontario in what was known as Cooksville.

Since that time, Ontario’s wines have received recognition for their quality around the world, particularly for the VQA and ice wines. The Ontario wine industry has grown in economic importance into one that directly employs over 6,000 people and generates over $500 million in retail sales each year.

Ontario’s wine industry contributes significantly to our tourism and agricultural industries. With over 17 million grapevines, Ontario is the country’s leading grape producer, accounting for about 80% of all Canadian production.

Later today, I will be introducing a bill to mark this milestone by officially recognizing 2011 as the bicentennial of the Ontario wine industry. I hope that everyone will take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate and promote Ontario wines.

I want to congratulate all of our wineries and grape growers for being part of this milestone and for their hard work to make this industry such a great success. I wish them all the best in the upcoming bicentennial year.

I encourage all Ontarians to celebrate this accomplishment by trying new Ontario wines and visiting some of our beautiful wineries.


Mr. Jean-Marc Lalonde: Last Friday, October 29, I attended a ceremony to commemorate a new solar panel project on the late Jacques Beauchesne’s farm in St. Isidore in the Nation municipality of my riding. I would like to thank Minister Madeleine Meilleur for attending this event.

The St. Isidore solar panel project is a 10-megawatt project composed of 152,000 solar panels. The design, engineering and construction phases of this project have created more than 200 local jobs. This is one of the many projects that have been developed in my riding under our government’s renewable energy standard offer program.

There are numerous benefits for my riding resulting from solar panel projects. They help to promote green energy, they bring revenue to the local economy and they ensure that businesses and families have stable, reliable sources of power.

Our government has a plan to invest in a strong, reliable and clean energy system that both families and businesses can count on. I am proud to see ongoing evidence of this in my riding.


Mr. Ted Arnott: Last Friday, I attended the 70th annual banquet of the Wellington Federation of Agriculture.

In farming, as in so many industries, the future is always uncertain, but I have faith in the future. We should all have faith. We have good reason. Ontario has the best farmers in the world, and our farm families have held together with resilience and hope. We should be proud of the fact that their labour provides nourishment for a nation and a continent and for markets all over the world. Our farmers’ professionalism, strengthened by that well-deserved pride, enables them to overcome adversity no matter what its origin.

Together in Wellington–Halton Hills, we have always supported supply management, better safety net programs, sensible environmental protection, an emphasis on research, and bringing new methods and technology to the farm—working together, striving to speak with one voice, and articulating a vision of the future for our farm families that allows them not only to survive but to thrive and prosper.

Through the Ontario Agriculture Sustainability Coalition paper, we know that the farming sector supports over 164,000 jobs. We know that its economic activity generates $3.4 billion in revenue to the federal and provincial governments. Farming is big business, but it’s individual farmers and farm families who work hard to make it so.

I call on this government to support their work, to listen to the OASC and its recommendations and to act to strengthen the farm sector for generations to come.


Mr. Howard Hampton: In the last couple of days, the McGuinty Liberals have been trumpeting what they call a success in the pulp and paper industry in northern Ontario. Of course, what they’re talking about is the start-up of one paper machine at the St. Marys mill in Sault Ste. Marie.

This leads me to ask: Why don’t the McGuinty Liberals talk about the three paper machines that have been shut down in Kenora under their watch, or the two that have been shut down in Dryden under their watch, or the one that has been shut down in Fort Frances under their watch, or the eight paper machines that have been shut down in Thunder Bay under their watch, or the two that have been shut down in Red Rock under their watch, or the two that are still shut down in Sault Ste. Marie under their watch?


Also, I wonder how it is that if we look to Quebec, there are 20-plus paper machines still operating in that province, providing thousands of good jobs for people—14 paper machines shut down across northern Ontario, with thousands of jobs lost, and paper machines in Quebec are still operating, with thousands of jobs continuing.

Or I look across the border into northern Minnesota: In International Falls, Minnesota, there are two paper machines operating; in Grand Rapids, two machines operating; in Duluth, one machine operating.

Why are so many shut down across northwestern Ontario?


Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: As you will know, November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Today, more than nine million Canadians live with diabetes or pre-diabetes, a condition that, if left unchecked, puts more individuals at risk of developing the full diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

More than 20 people are diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day. In this province alone, 1.2 million Ontarians have been diagnosed with diabetes, and that number is expected to rise to two million by 2020. Left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can result in a number of serious complications, including kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, blindness and limb amputations. Some 80% of Canadians living with diabetes die from a heart attack or stroke, and 42% of kidney dialysis patients have diabetes.

The cost to our health care system, as you can imagine, is immense, something in the order of about $5 billion annually just to the province of Ontario. But there is good news: Diabetes can be prevented. With proper management, the complications can also be prevented or delayed and people can lead healthy lives.

This November, I encourage everyone to visit the government of Ontario’s Stand up to Diabetes website to learn more about how to prevent and manage diabetes and to find out more about health care services and resources available to the community.

I also encourage Canadians, and Ontarians particularly, to visit the Canadian Diabetes Association website, diabetes.ca, to learn more and to read about some of the incredible volunteers, professionals and researchers who are living healthy with diabetes and, of course, advocating for the cause and breaking ground towards a cure.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month.


Mr. Steve Clark: It’s a privilege to rise today to recognize Community and Primary Health Care, a remarkable agency that continues to do great work in my riding.

On Thursday, CPHC executive director Ruth Kitson and board chairman John Conley will be here at Queen’s Park to accept the 2010 Donner Canadian Foundation Award for excellence in the delivery of social services for seniors. They will receive the award from Lieutenant Governor David C. Onley, and they’ll find out that day if they are winners of the overall $20,000 William H. Donner Award for Excellence. I’m personally cheering for them, as are thousands of people in Leeds–Grenville and Lanark county who rely on CPHC’s dedicated staff for an incredible variety of health care services every day.

We all know that these are difficult times in Ontario’s health care sector, but thanks to the leadership and innovative approach of Ruth Kitson and her board, CPHC is ensuring that people are getting the care they so desperately need.

I congratulate CPHC on winning its third Donner award in the past five years. This award is more proof that CPHC is a role model for other health care agencies to follow, and it’s a vote of confidence in their work as they move forward with very ambitious plans to build a health and wellness centre of excellence.


Mr. Kuldip Kular: Over the weekend, I had the fortune to attend an event in my riding of Bramalea–Gore–Malton that recognized 300 student volunteers working to improve the quality of life in their community.

This year, students from Volunteering Peel participated in Peel Planet Day, a program of planting trees, cleaning park grounds, building birdhouses for wildlife and joining environmental workshops. Not only were they greening Brampton and Malton, but through Volunteering Peel, the students were discovering the road to active citizenship.

Since 2005, Volunteering Peel has been helping students to meet the Ontario secondary school requirement of 40 hours of community service, a practice that instills within young Ontarians the virtue of volunteerism in our society.

Each year, more than five million Ontarians act as volunteers in as many as 45,000 non-profit organizations. This is in addition to the countless acts of volunteerism and selflessness that community members give to each other.

I would like to thank Gary Nickerson and Jordan Wong for their work in making this event happen and for their tireless work in preparing Ontario’s youth for active citizenship.


Mrs. Maria Van Bommel: Today, I stand to recognize the week that is marked by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute as Canadian Patient Safety Week.

Quality and safety are major themes in Ontario’s health care system these days. Our government has been working very hard to advance a quality agenda in health care, to drive quality and value in every organization in every corner of this province. Our excellent care for all strategy is designed to ensure that Ontarians receive the best quality care anywhere and everywhere in this province today and in the years to come.

Safe care is but one aspect of quality care. When patients are protected from hospital-acquired infections, their health outcomes are better, their experience with the system is better, and the costs to the system are lower, all in keeping with the philosophy of the excellent care for all strategy.

In May 2008, this government launched our transparency in patient safety initiative. The hospital sector has worked closely with us to raise the bar and institute measures that help keep Ontario patients safe.

Between September 2008 and April 2009, hospitals began recording on eight patient safety indicators. We have been making significant progress in that time. One of the most significant indicators is C. difficile infection rates. They have steadily declined in Ontario since public recording began. The most recent numbers in September 2010 show that the provincial rate was 0.23 cases per thousand patient days compared to—

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


Mr. Mike Colle: I rise today in honour of Holocaust Education Week, which began yesterday and will continue until November 9. This year is a special year as we commemorate the 30th anniversary of Holocaust Education Week.

Throughout this week, the United Jewish Appeal and the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre will be holding the largest Holocaust education forum of its kind, featuring leading voices in Holocaust and human rights awareness at venues throughout the GTA and in the surrounding region.

I, myself, will be spending Friday morning visiting the members of Café Europa at Baycrest hospital with a number of Holocaust survivors who call Baycrest home.

I will also spend Friday afternoon at Forest Hill Collegiate with Canadian veteran and Flying Officer Ed Carter-Edwards as he tells his incredible and unique story to the students of Forest Hill Collegiate. Mr. Carter-Edwards was one of 168 Allied airmen who were incarcerated in Buchenwald in August 1944. Ed and his fellow airmen witnessed first-hand the horrors of Buchenwald, one of the many dreaded death camps built by the Nazi killing machine.

Let us honour those who survived this horrific period in history by keeping the memory of those innocent victims alive. Let us reaffirm our dedication to the six million victims who were slaughtered so that this absolutely deplorable chapter in history will never be forgotten and, hopefully, never happen again. Let’s remember them during Holocaust Education Week.


Mr. Jeff Leal: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I just want to wish a happy birthday to a remarkable little girl who’s my daughter. My daughter, Shanae, is celebrating her 11th birthday today in Peterborough. I know she’ll have a great day, and she certainly is the apple of her father’s eye.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): We wish her a happy birthday.

Mr. Jeff Leal: We’re having a big birthday party for her next Monday.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The Speaker will give you permission if you want to drive home right now.



The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I beg to inform the House that today the Clerk received the report on intended appointments dated November 2, 2010, of the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. Pursuant to standing order 108(f)(9), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.

Report deemed adopted.



Mr. Brownell moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 126, An Act to protect Ontario’s inactive cemeteries / Projet de loi 126, Loi visant à protéger les cimetières inactifs de l’Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Jim Brownell: By protecting our inactive cemeteries, this bill will help preserve the sanctity of our deceased, safeguard our history and heritage and provide clear guidelines to those looking to develop near or on the gravesites of Ontario.

As demonstrated by the Ontario Historical Society and the Ontario Genealogical Society in their work to stop the relocation of the Cooley-Hatt Cemetery where Major Richard Hatt, a veteran of the War of 1812, lies buried, it is of great public interest that our cemeteries be preserved and maintained in their original locations.


Mr. Hardeman moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 127, An Act to celebrate the success of the Ontario wine industry by recognizing the year 2011 as its bicentennial / Projet de loi 127, Loi célébrant la réussite de l’industrie viticole de l’Ontario en reconnaissant l’année 2011 comme le bicentenaire de cette industrie.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: This bill recognizes the year 2011 as the bicentennial of the Ontario wine industry. The first commercial winery in Ontario was founded in 1811 by Johann Schiller, father of the Ontario wine industry. Since that time, the Ontario wine industry has grown in economic importance into one that directly employs over 6,000 people and contributes significantly to the tourism and agriculture of the province of Ontario.



Hon. Eric Hoskins: I rise today in the Legislature to recognize Diwali, the annual festival of lights beginning this Friday, November 5. Diwali is celebrated around the world and here in Ontario by Hindus, by Sikhs and by Jains. During the five days of festivities, houses are lit up with small clay lamps known as diyas, to signify the triumph of good over evil.

For many people, Diwali is a time of great celebration. It’s a time to enjoy good food, fine clothes and to spend time with family and friends. In some rural areas around the world, people flock to melas, or fairs, in their villages and towns. For others, Diwali is a time of quiet contemplation and meditation.

But increasingly, Diwali is a global celebration, recognized and celebrated by people right around the world. This special celebration unites communities all over the world on both a religious and a social level. Although the festival of Diwali dates back centuries, its significance is still widely appreciated and celebrated in a variety of communities today.

The Diwali focus on light serves as a wonderful symbol of the truth and renewal of life, a symbol often present in many other religious traditions. In the face of today’s unique challenges and pressures, this celebration is an excellent occasion to promote mutual respect and understanding, and share in the common values of tradition and faith.

As a province, this celebration helps us to recognize the rich diversity of our culture, the cornerstone of Ontario’s success and prosperity. Celebrating Diwali also adds to the fabric of our nation and strengthens our social foundations by making our communities more dynamic, culturally rich and cohesive. With people from over 200 countries speaking more than 130 languages living in Ontario, our diversity brings us global connections, talents and skills. It is this diversity that enriches us socially, economically and culturally.

I think we can all be proud that the 7,000-year-old Diwali festival is being celebrated this week in communities across Ontario, such as Hamilton, Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto.

On behalf of the McGuinty government and all Ontarians, I wish all those observing Diwali a wonderful celebration. Happy Diwali to all. Namaste. Sat Sri Akal.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Statements by ministries?


Mr. Tim Hudak: As leader of the Ontario PC Party and on behalf of the PC caucus, I would like to invite all members of the House to join with the South Asian community in celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights.

Diwali is a festival and celebration that resonates with people of all faiths and backgrounds, and is an opportunity to reflect on the contributions made to our province by the South Asian community. It is one of the largest festivals in India and is celebrated with enthusiasm and happiness all over the world, including right here in Ontario in our South Asian community.

Diwali sees friends and family joining together in faith and prayers, exchanging gifts and sweets, and lighting candles to signify the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important holidays of the year, and it is a significant festival for Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.

One of the best parts of being the Ontario PC leader is that I get to experience Ontario’s diverse cultures first-hand. As I travel the province and meet families from all different backgrounds, I notice more and more that as diverse as we are, there is a common thread that binds all of us. We all share values such as taking care of and celebrating our family, celebrating our community, working hard to provide a better life for our children and grandchildren, and making contributions, all in our own way, to make Ontario such a great place to live. We share an entrepreneurial spirit that has seen newcomers continue to help to grow our province.

Diwali, like so many festivals we celebrate here in Ontario, means a chance to spend time together with family and friends and to learn each other’s cultural diversity. It is an opportunity for all Ontario to join together to celebrate and to say Diwali Mubarak.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Let me first start by extending to our South Asian citizens and neighbours greetings and best wishes for a happy and prosperous future from Ontario’s New Democrats, as we celebrate the arrival of Diwali.

Diwali is a significant celebration for Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains, as well as being a national holiday in India. In fact, I understand that where you live in India determines how you pronounce the very term, as “Divali” or “Diwali.” This holiday is renowned for its beautiful celebrations of light and colour, which symbolize the inner strength that each of us possesses, as well as expressing the need for each of us to light the path for a better future.

Diwali calls on us to vanquish ignorance and to drive away darkness, not only in our own lives but in the wider world as well: a laudable goal, particularly in this place, I would say. This is a message that holds meaning and truth for all Ontarians and it serves to underscore how lucky we are here in Ontario. The celebration of Diwali is one of the many gifts that have been brought to Ontario society and which have made our province a richer and more diverse place.

Ontarians everywhere can and do share in the joy and hope for the future that is expressed by everyone who celebrates Diwali. We pride ourselves in our multiculturalism, our inclusiveness and our openness. Ontarians, whatever their background or heritage, can benefit from paying heed to the message of Diwali and opening our hearts and minds to each other. We have not made it there yet, unfortunately, but I believe that we are building a province and a country where belief, language, race and colour are not barriers to understanding, but rather reasons to celebrate each other and a means to find strength and unity among our shared diversity.

On behalf of Ontario’s New Democrats, therefore, I wish to indicate to all, all of the people who celebrate Diwali and all Ontarians, Shubh Diwali. Have a very happy Diwali, and may peace, prosperity and happiness light your future and light your path forevermore.




Mr. Bill Murdoch: I have three to read today, and I had them all approved, Mr. Speaker. You’ll be happy to know that they’ve been approved by the table. This one is a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

“Whereas the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) recently and unilaterally announced that it would euthanize all animals in its care at its Newmarket shelter, citing a ringworm outbreak as justification;

“Whereas the euthanasia plan was stopped in the face of repeated calls for a stay in the Legislature and by the public, but not until 99 animals had been killed;

“Whereas the Premier and Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci refused to act, claiming the provincial government has no jurisdiction over the OSPCA;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to immediately implement the resolution tabled at Queen’s Park by Newmarket–Aurora MPP Frank Klees on June 1, 2010, which reads as follows:

“‘That, in the opinion of this House, the Ontario Legislature call on the government of Ontario to review the powers and authority granted to the OSPCA under the OSPCA Act and to make the necessary legislative changes to bring those powers under the authority of the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services to ensure that there is a clearly defined and effective provincial oversight of all animal shelter services in the province, and to separate the inspection and enforcement powers of the OSPCA from its functions as a charity providing animal shelter services.’”

I’ve signed this.


Mr. Yasir Naqvi: I’m tabling this petition, which was submitted by two of my constituents, June and Nick Kaethler.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas there are up to 40,000 Ontarians living with Parkinson’s disease, many of whom require speech-language therapy to retain essential verbal communications skills and life-saving swallowing skills; and

“Whereas speech-language therapy can make the difference between someone with Parkinson’s retaining their ability to speak or not, and their ability to swallow or not, yet most Ontarians with Parkinson’s are unable to access these services in a timely fashion, many remaining on waiting lists for years while their speaking and swallowing capacity diminishes; and

“Whereas Ontarians with Parkinson’s who lose their ability to communicate experience unnecessary social isolation and economic loss due to their inability to participate as full members of their communities; and

“Whereas it is the responsibility of the community care access centres to assign speech-language pathologists to provide therapy to people on the wait-lists, yet people are regularly advised to pay for private therapy if they want timely treatment, but many people living with Parkinson’s are already experiencing economic hardship and cannot afford the cost of private therapy;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to call on Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to intervene immediately to ensure that CCACs across Ontario develop a plan to ensure that all Ontarians living with Parkinson’s who need speech-language therapy and swallowing therapy receive the necessary treatment.”

I endorse this petition and send it to the table via page Kimberly.


Mr. Jim Wilson: A petition to restore medical laboratory services in Tottenham, Stayner and Elmvale and reduce line-ups throughout Simcoe–Grey:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the consolidation of medical laboratories in rural areas is causing people to travel further and wait longer for services; and

“Whereas it is the responsibility of the Ontario government to ensure that Ontarians have equal access to all health care services; and

“Whereas rural Ontario continues to get shortchanged when it comes to health care: doctor shortages, smaller hospitals, less pharmaceutical services, lack of transportation and now medical laboratory services; and

“Whereas the McGuinty government continues to increase taxes to make up for misspent tax dollars, collecting $15 billion over the last six years from the Liberal health tax, ultimately forcing Ontarians to pay more while receiving less;

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

“That the McGuinty government stop the erosion of public health care services and ensure equal access to medical laboratories” in Ontario.

I will sign this petition and endorse it.


Mr. Jim Brownell: I have a petition that is signed by Ontarians from St. Catharines up to Callander over to Kingston and many places in between. It reads as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario Historical Society, founded in 1888, is a not-for-profit corporation, incorporated by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario April 1, 1899, with a mandate to identify, protect, preserve and promote Ontario’s history; and

“Whereas protecting and preserving Ontario’s cemeteries is a shared responsibility and the foundation of a civilized society; and

“Whereas the Legislature failed to enact Bill 149, the Inactive Cemeteries Protection Act, 2009, which would have prohibited the relocation of inactive cemeteries in the province of Ontario; and

“Whereas the Cooley-Hatt Cemetery (circa 1786) is located in the Niagara Escarpment plan within Ontario’s greenbelt plan in Ancaster, city of Hamilton; and

“Whereas this is one of the earliest surviving pioneer cemeteries in Ontario, with approximately 99 burials, including at least one veteran of the War of 1812;

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

“The government of Ontario must take whatever action is necessary to prevent the desecration of any part of this sacred burial ground for real estate development.”

As I agree with this petition, I shall sign it and send it to the clerks’ table.


Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Last Thursday, when Bill 83 was debated in this Legislature, we had a group of people in the audience from People First Tillsonburg, who I neglected to introduce. They also gave me this petition. I want to read the petition into the record on behalf of Chair Mike Cerna.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the picketing of the homes of people with intellectual disabilities alienates people from their autonomy; security; privacy; relationships with staff, neighbours and community; and also causes discrimination and harm to citizens who should be free to enjoy their homes without harassment and intimidation;

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

“To support Bill 83 and prohibit the picketing of vulnerable people’s residences during a strike.”

This is signed by a group of people who were present here on Thursday afternoon when the bill was debated. On their behalf, I present this petition.


Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) regulations for ‘loss of sponsor’ of defined benefit pension plans only permit windup and annuity purchase; and

“Whereas in the present economic climate the cost of annuities is at a 25-year high with no relief in sight;

“Therefore the purchase of annuities exacerbates the punitive impact of windup on Nortel pension plan members and others in similar situations, and increases the costs passed on to the taxpayers of Ontario;

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

“To amend the PBA regulations to permit the administrator and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) to apply other options in the ‘loss of sponsor’ scenario which will provide more benefits to Nortel pension plan members and others in similar situations, such as the continuation of the pension plan under responsible financial management by a non-government institution.”

I’ve signed my name, and I will give it to page Priscile.


Mr. Norm Miller: I’m pleased to have an opportunity to support a petition that has come from my riding.

“Whereas the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) recently and unilaterally announced that it would euthanize all animals in its care at its Newmarket shelter, citing a ringworm outbreak as justification;

“Whereas the euthanasia plan was stopped in the face of repeated calls for a stay in the Legislature and by the public, but not until 99 animals had been killed;

“Whereas the Premier and Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci refused to act, claiming the provincial government has no jurisdiction over the OSPCA;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to immediately implement the resolution tabled at Queen’s Park by Newmarket–Aurora MPP Frank Klees on June 1, 2010, which reads as follows:

“‘That, in the opinion of this House, the Ontario Legislature call on the government of Ontario to review the powers and authority granted to the OSPCA under the OSPCA Act and to make the necessary legislative changes to bring those powers under the authority of the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services to ensure that there is a clearly defined and effective provincial oversight of all animal shelter services in the province, and to separate the inspection and enforcement powers of the OSPCA from its functions as a charity providing animal shelter services.’”

I’m pleased to support this petition.


Mr. Jeff Leal: I want to thank Karen Seto from Westridge Boulevard in Peterborough. I know her family very well. It’s a hard-working family. They’ve provided a petition to me that reads as follows:

“We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, Canada, draw the attention of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to the following:

“Whereas kidney disease is a huge and growing problem in Canada; and

“Whereas real progress is being made in various ways of preventing and coping with kidney disease, in particular the development of a bio-artificial kidney;


“We, the undersigned, call on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to make research funding available for the explicit purpose of conducting bio-artificial kidney research as an extension to the research being successfully conducted at several centres in the United States.”

I agree with this and give it to page Elle.


Mr. Frank Klees: I have a petition here submitted by a number of constituents in Newmarket and Aurora and throughout York region. It reads as follows:

“Petition in Support of Bill 100 (Paved Shoulders on Provincial Highways)

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas pedestrians and cyclists are increasingly using secondary highways to support healthy lifestyles and expand active transportation; and

“Whereas paved shoulders on highways enhance public safety for all highway users, expand tourism opportunities and support good health; and

“Whereas paved shoulders help to reduce the maintenance cost of repairs to highway surfaces; and

“Whereas Norm Miller’s private member’s Bill 100 provides for a minimum one-metre paved shoulder for the benefit of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“That Norm Miller’s private member’s Bill 100, which requires a minimum one-metre paved shoulder on designated highways, receive swift passage through the legislative process.”

I’m pleased to affix my signature in support of this petition and give the petition to page Emmett to present to the table.


Mr. Bruce Crozier: I have a petition from Port Hope, Picton, Lindsay, Norfolk, Wainfleet, Welland, Lowbanks, and many other communities. It reads as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario Historical Society, founded in 1888, is a not-for-profit corporation, incorporated by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario April 1, 1889, with a mandate to identify, protect, preserve and promote Ontario’s history; and

“Whereas protecting and preserving Ontario’s cemeteries is a shared responsibility and the foundation of a civilized society; and

“Whereas the Legislature failed to enact Bill 149, the Inactive Cemeteries Protection Act, 2009, which would have prohibited the relocation of inactive cemeteries in the province of Ontario; and

“Whereas the Cooley-Hatt Cemetery (circa 1786) is located in the Niagara Escarpment plan within Ontario’s greenbelt plan in Ancaster, city of Hamilton; and

“Whereas this is one of the earliest surviving pioneer cemeteries in Ontario, with approximately 99 burials, including at least one veteran of the War of 1812;

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

“The government of Ontario must take whatever action is necessary to prevent the desecration of any part of this sacred burial ground for real estate development.”

In support, I add my signature to this petition and give it to Soumiya.


Mr. Bill Murdoch: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas the picketing of the homes of people with intellectual disabilities alienates people from their autonomy; security; privacy; relationships with staff, neighbours and community; and also causes discrimination and harm to citizens who should be free to enjoy their homes without harassment and intimidation;

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

“To support Bill 83 and prohibit the picketing of vulnerable people’s residences during a strike.”

I’ve signed this.


Mr. Jim Brownell: I have a petition, and it reads as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas, between 1869 and 1939, more than 100,000 British home children arrived in Canada from group homes and orphanages in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland; and

“Whereas the story of the British home children is one of challenge, determination and perseverance; and

“Whereas due to their remarkable courage, strength and perseverance, Canada’s British home children endured and went on to lead healthy and productive lives and contributed immeasurably to the development of Ontario’s economy and prosperity; and

“Whereas the government of Canada has proclaimed 2010 as the Year of the British Home Child and Canada Post will recognize it with a commemorative stamp;

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

“Enact Bill 12, a private member’s bill introduced by MPP Jim Brownell on March 23, 2010, an act to proclaim September 28 of each year as Ontario home child day.”

As I agree with the petition, I shall sign it and send it to the clerks’ table.


Mr. Toby Barrett: A petition entitled “Haldimand-Norfolk Needs an OSPCA Chapter”:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the establishment of a local Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) could help deal with the brutality and neglect of horses and other large animals; and

“Whereas the Ontario government could provide training for the Ontario Provincial Police to deal with animal abuse issues;

“We, the undersigned, hereby petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that the Ontario government request the establishment of an OSPCA chapter in Haldimand–Norfolk to provide the two counties with support in cases of animal abuse and neglect.”

I hereby affix my signature to the petition.



Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that, pursuant to standing order 47 and notwithstanding any other standing order or special order of the House relating to Bill 120, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Act and the Pension Benefits Amendment Act, 2010, when Bill 120 is next called as a government order the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill without further debate or amendment and at such time the bill shall be ordered referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs; and

That the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs be authorized to meet on Wednesday, November 17, 2010, and Wednesday, November 24, 2010, from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. for the purpose of public hearings and on Wednesday, December 1, 2010, from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. for the purpose of clause-by-clause consideration of the bill; and

That the deadline for filing amendments to the bill with the clerk of the committee shall be 12 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30, 2010. On Wednesday, December 1, 2010, at no later than 1:30 p.m., those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved, and the Chair of the committee shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto. Any division required shall be deferred until all remaining questions have been put and taken in succession with one 20-minute waiting period allowed pursuant to standing order 129(a); and

That the committee shall report the bill to the House no later than Thursday, December 2, 2010. In the event that the committee fails to report the bill on that day, the bill shall be deemed to be passed by the committee and shall be deemed to be reported to and received by the House; and

That, upon receiving the report of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the Speaker shall put the question for adoption of the report forthwith, and at such time the bill shall be ordered for third reading, which order may be called that same day; and

That, when the order for third reading of the bill is called, one hour shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill, apportioned equally among the recognized parties. At the end of this time, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further debate or amendment; and

That the vote on third reading may be deferred pursuant to standing order 28(h); and

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

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Ms. Smith has moved government notice of motion number 31. Debate? Government House leader.

Hon. Monique M. Smith: Sorry, Mr. Speaker. I’m sharing my time with the member from Kitchener–Conestoga.

Ms. Leeanna Pendergast: It’s a pleasure to join in this debate on Bill 120 this afternoon. I believe I’ll be sharing my time with the member from Eglinton–Lawrence.

I thought what I would do today is explain that Bill 120 is part of a larger comprehensive package. The plan is to strengthen the retirement income system for the people of Ontario. I thought I’d talk about some background information, about the expert commission, about Bill 120 and the details and how it complements the whole Canada pension plan and where the Ontario government is in terms of CPP. Then, if I have time, I’ll talk about modernizing the funding rules.

Ontario is in the midst of a multi-phase reform of Ontario’s Pension Benefits Act, to modernize and strengthen regulation of workplace plans in Ontario. The Ontario government is committed to also strengthening the national retirement income system.

Just an interesting highlight: Over 60% of paid Ontarians do not have a workplace pension. In the private sector, the proportion of paid workers who are without a workplace pension is over 80%. So the McGuinty government has proposed a broad package of reforms, of course, to further strengthen Ontario’s pension system and address the concerns of workers, the concerns of retirees and, of course, the concerns of employers as well.


In 2006, the government established an Expert Commission on Pensions. The purpose of that expert commission was to conduct an independent review of the Pension Benefits Act and the Regulations Act as they pertain to the funding of the defined benefit pension plan and related issues. Of course, as we know, the commission was led by Harry Arthurs, who is a labour law expert and former president of York University.

The title of the report was A Fine Balance: Safe Pensions, Affordable Plans, Fair Rules. In that report, there were 142 recommendations that the committee made. As a result, the Minister of Finance invited stakeholders to provide focused comments on the report that was released in November 2008.

This act, the Securing Pension Benefits Now and for the Future Act, 2010, is part of a series of steps in pension reform in Ontario and it builds on the first step, Bill 236, which was passed unanimously in this House. This act, Bill 120, is the next step in pension reform in the province of Ontario.

Prior to Bill 236 passing unanimously in the House, it’s interesting to note that the pension rules as they were in the province of Ontario remained largely unchanged for over 20 years. This second stage, Bill 120, of the pension reform addresses 40 recommendations, which in total is over two thirds of the recommendations that were made in the Arthurs report.

What Bill 120 would do, if passed, is strengthen Ontario’s pension funding rules. It would do this by requiring more sustainable funding of promised benefits and stronger funding standards for benefit improvement. If passed, Bill 120 would also provide a framework to permit more flexible funding rules for certain multi-employer pension plans and for jointly sponsored pension plans.

It would clarify pension surplus rules and provide a dispute resolution process to allow members, retirees and sponsors to reach agreements on how surplus should be allocated on windup.

It would provide a more sustainable pension benefits guarantee fund by implementing a strategy to build reserves, to increase revenues, limit current exposure and reduce risk to taxpayers in the future.

Finally, it would further strengthen regulatory oversight and improve plan administration.

I thought it would be important to talk about the three pillars that make up our pension system. I think it’s interesting to note and it’s certainly important that we understand these three pillars, and as well that the people of Ontario understand those, because it is so crucial to us.

I remember—my goodness, I think I was in my first year of working. A gentleman who was an older fellow and had retired, and was a friend of the family—I remember him incessantly saying, over and over again, “If you ever have a pension, you must focus on your pension. A pension is so important.” He went into all the details of his pension and I thought at the time, “Oh my goodness, what is he talking about?”

But as you start to pay attention to the pension system and you realize its significance and how it affects the lives of the people of Ontario and ultimately, down the road, their retirement, it is so important to understand.

There are three pillars in the overview of the pension system. The first pillar is the publicly funded income security programs for seniors. That first pillar includes old age security, or OAS, and guaranteed income supplement, or GIS. These are intended to provide an income floor for seniors.

The second pillar is the Canada pension plan. We call it the Canada-Quebec pension plan, the CPP, or QPP in Quebec. These are mandatory pension programs for the employed and the self-employed and are intended to replace 25% of career average pensionable earnings. These programs are funded by employer and employee contributions and investment earnings. CPP is administered by the federal government.

The third pillar, of course, is tax-assisted voluntary private savings: private sources of tax-assisted retirement savings, including employment pension plans and RRSPs.

I wanted to refer to an article in the Toronto Star. It’s written by Richard Brennan. He quotes the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Dwight Duncan. He says, “Retired Canadian women aren’t getting their fair share of federal pension benefits compared to men....

“[Minister] Duncan told reporters following a speech to the Canadian Labour Congress that’s just another reason the entire system of retirement benefits needs to be overhauled with an eye to phased-in ‘modest’ benefits increases.

“‘Women aren’t collecting CPP the way men do. There tends to be greater challenges to women getting the maximum,’ Duncan said, noting that the maximum benefit under Canada pension plan is $11,000 a year while the average is $6,000....

“‘I have always felt this is going to be a long process,’ Duncan said. ‘We have to look at moving toward a better integrated national pension system, both private pensions as well as the public pensions.’”

In that same speech to the Canadian Labour Congress, later, the minister made some really crucial points to this whole debate on pensions and Bill 120. He said, “Our plan to lower corporate taxes also provides us with the room to ask the business community to do more in areas of high priority (for both labour and our government, whether it is investments in workers, premiums for workplace safety, or, perhaps) most importantly, down payments in our collective retirement security through an enhanced Canada pension plan.”

Minister Duncan goes on to say that the government has “become increasingly concerned, especially since the global economic downturn, that many Canadians are not saving adequately for retirement. Recent research, policy work and public consultations have confirmed that although our retirement income system has many strengths, a significant minority of Canadians in the future are likely to experience a material decrease in their standard of living upon retirement unless changes are made.”

The McGuinty government is committed to making these changes. Bill 120 is the second step in a package of pension reforms that looks towards improving the pension system in Ontario. “And while governments cannot replace investment losses or guarantee future returns, we do have the tools to make saving and planning for retirement easier, more affordable, and more secure,” for the people of Ontario.

I’m going to wrap up to give my colleague from Eglinton–Lawrence some time.

“That is why the Ontario government has been calling for a balanced approach to retirement income reform which would include a phased-in, fully funded, modest increase to the CPP, as well as measures to encourage pension innovation and to ensure more Canadians have adequate savings.”

There was an interesting recent report that I’d like to highlight as well: “In his recent report prepared for the Ontario government, pension expert Bob Baldwin stated that ‘the status quo is an option. However, it is an option that may leave a significant minority of people ... facing a decline in their standard of living in retirement....’”

Of course, the McGuinty government is committed to increasing that standard of living. Bill 120 is part of a comprehensive plan to strengthen the retirement income system for all Ontarians, and I highly and strongly encourage the members of this Legislature to support Bill 120.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?


Mr. Norm Miller: It’s my pleasure to have an opportunity to debate this time allocation motion that’s before us this afternoon, although I must admit I’m a little perplexed as to why the government feels it’s necessary to put forward a time allocation motion on Bill 120.

Just for those folks out there who don’t know what that means, it means that, through this time allocation motion, the government is being quite prescriptive in the road that Bill 120 will follow through the rest of its legislative journey. As was read out by the House leader, there would be, I think, two days of public hearings: Wednesday, November 17, and Wednesday, November 24, from just 12:30 to 3 o’clock. That’s a pretty tight time frame. Also, clause-by-clause would be on Wednesday, December 1, from just 12:30 to 3 again. It’s a pretty tight time period. Then the bill would be reported back to the House no later than December 2, a fairly tight, inscripted time frame for the route that this bill will take for the rest of its path through the Legislature. It also talks about third reading: There will be only one hour of debate for third reading, as well, on the bill.

Here’s the reason I ask, “Why do they have a time allocation motion?” I know that our party, the opposition, spoke to the bill. I spoke pretty much for an hour to the substance of the bill, as did some of our other members. They spoke to it. We’re supporting the bill, which is framework legislation.

Normally, what you would do then is pass second reading, refer it to a committee and let the subcommittee of whatever committee it’s referred to figure out when the appropriate public hearings would be and where they should be located. Then the committee would go about its work, and then it would come back for as much debate time as necessary for third reading.

When there is agreement, there seems to be no need for debate of a time allocation motion, which we will now spend a good part of the afternoon talking about instead of the actual substance of the bill.

As I pointed out in my comments to the bill, Bill 120 is largely framework legislation. Most of the details will be in regulations, so the regulations are the critical thing that I’m sure those who will be affected by it—mainly defined benefit pension plans—would want to see in detail and have time to be able to make comment on. In fact, if anything, there should be public hearings on the regulations once they are in place. The bill, of course, has to go through first, second and third reading, be passed and receive royal assent before the regulations would be written.

We’re still waiting for the regulations on the first pension bill, Bill 236, to come into effect. In fact, I know there are some people who are affected by that bill—the split pension folks, the MPAC workers, the paramedics—who are anxiously waiting for the government to get the regulations done on Bill 236.

I’m just not sure why the government feels that they need to time-allocate this bill this afternoon.

I note that the government just sent out a glossy publication, Securing Our Retirement Future: Consulting with Ontarians on Canada’s Retirement Income System. It seems to me that they want comment back by November 24. They’re talking about the three pillars of retirement income, as did the parliamentary assistant, being old age security and the guaranteed income supplement, the Canada pension plan, and registered pension accounts; that’s tax-assisted voluntary private savings.

I would say that third pillar is the one that we absolutely need to worry about. The majority of the provinces, the federal government and Ontario have supported the modest increase in the Canada pension plan, although there was a motion that we spent a morning debating here in the Legislature which I amended to take into account the economic realities of the current time as well.

But in this publication they bring up some reasonable topics. I would say it’s good to be talking about retirement income, because there are lots of people who just don’t think about it till it’s maybe too late, till they get near retirement age. The key, especially for the third pillar, with your RRSP savings, your own individual savings, is that the longer you save, the better. If you start in your 20s and you save for 30 or 40 years and put even a small amount aside, that will grow to be a fairly significant amount of money over a long period of time.

I agree that we need to do a much better job in Ontario of financial literacy, so I’m pleased to see that the Ministry of Education is working on plans to integrate financial literacy into the Ontario school curriculum. I’ve had constituents in the business who have been saying that that really needs to happen when they see the situations people get themselves into—when you see articles, like in the Globe and Mail, about “Canada’s Brewing Debt Storm” and how, for every $1 of disposable income, Canadians owe a record $1.47. It goes on to say:

“Canadian borrowers are fast approaching a day of reckoning....

“Household debt has surged three times faster than income in recent years and now stands at a record high of more than $1 trillion. Put another way, Canadians owe about $1.47 for every dollar of disposable income. Even more remarkably, they took on more debt during the slump—a first for a recession—because borrowing was so cheap.”

Obviously, there’s a great need for financial literacy. But it seems to me that this consultation process that the government is going through is more about busy-work, talking about a lot of things that are really outside of the purview of the Ontario government, especially changes to the Canada pension plan. The federal government has already said they want to have some modest and gradual increases to that Canada pension plan.

As the parliamentary assistant noted in one newspaper article, I think she said that there was a significant minority of middle-income earners who, at retirement, are facing a significant decline in their income levels. Those at the lower level of income, on retiring, do not do too badly in terms of a change of income level, but it’s those middle-income earners who face, in many cases, a situation where they face a fairly significant drop in retirement income.

We have a time allocation motion before us. It’s going to be debated for a couple of hours. It’s very prescriptive on what happens to the bill going forward. It only allows for two days—a few hours, in fact—of public hearings, and just in Toronto. I note that there are many other places around the province that are concerned about retirement income. In the Ottawa area, you have a lot of Nortel workers who have been greatly affected by this situation with Nortel, the bankruptcy of the company, the orphaning and wrapping up of their pension plan.

I’m going to move an amendment to the time allocation motion. At this time, I’ll read it, because I do believe that public hearings should occur not just here in Toronto but in other locations around the province. I will amend the motion, adding, to the start of the second paragraph, “That the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs be authorized to meet Monday, November 8, Tuesday, November 9, and Wednesday, November 10, for the purpose of holding public hearings in London, Ottawa and North Bay.”

If I could get a page to deliver it to the Speaker at this time, please.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The member has moved an amendment, “That the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs be authorized to meet Monday, November 8, Tuesday, November 9, and Wednesday, November 10, for the purpose of holding public hearings in London, Ottawa and North Bay.” You may continue.

Mr. Norm Miller: I’ve spoken for an hour to the bill already. I’d say that we really need public hearings on the regulation part of it. This time allocation motion is unnecessary in that the opposition is supporting the bill. We just want some reasonable public hearings on the bill. It’s a technical bill. There will be those involved in the industry who will want to have their say. We want the process to continue as it should so that we get the public input and make amendments if necessary, depending on the input we get, and send the bill back to the Legislature for third reading, modified by the committee, not compacting and shortening the process unnecessarily.

With that, Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak this afternoon.


The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Like the member before me, I’m surprised that there’s a time allocation motion before us today. I didn’t think that there was a particular need to clamp down on debate on an issue that is of increasing importance here in Ontario.

If this was a bill that was ringing out headlines across the province and people were in front of the Legislature going wild, and for some reason the government felt that it had to be disposed of, well, maybe I would understand their logic, but quite honestly, I can’t see any logic in this at all. Everyone in the House has been debating this bill. The people of Ontario expect us to thoroughly and soberly go through the issues before us and in fact ensure that we come forward with a proposal, a set of amendments to this bill that will make it more effective than it is. Like my colleague, I find it extraordinarily puzzling that the government has decided to do this.

On the substance of the bill itself, I note that Mr. Arthurs, Harry Arthurs, came up with a number of good suggestions regarding strengthening our existing pension system. Unfortunately, a number of the most important recommendations that he made when he was asked to look at our pension system and the sorts of changes that would have to be brought about were actually not incorporated into the legislation. There are three that absolutely should have been part of the package of this legislation before us.

First, at only $1,000, the level of monthly pension benefits eligible for protection by the pension benefits guarantee fund is completely inadequate. I talk to pensioners in my riding every day, and those pensioners find that they are hard-pressed. They find it difficult to cover their bills—no surprise to you, Madam Speaker, they find the HST an unwelcome further burden in their lives.

When we look at what people have contributed to these pension funds, when we think of the demands that will be made on their lives in their senior years, the idea that only $1,000 per month would actually be guaranteed is not adequate; it is completely inadequate. We believe that over time, the monthly guarantee covered by the pension benefits guarantee fund should be increased to a maximum of $2,500 per month—still not a princely sum, but given the prices that people have to deal with, given the demands for health care that one experiences as one gets older, as one retires, given the difficulties that people face, a maximum of $2,500 per month is an entirely reasonable amount. That’s something that Mr. Arthurs recommended, something that he felt—he calculated—and he said was needed to reflect the effect of inflation on the original maximum of $1,000, which has been in place since 1980. That’s 30 years ago—30 years without an adjustment for the impact of inflation—and $1,000 a month was of far greater consequence 30 years ago than it is today.

Not adjusting the maximum for inflation over those 30 years is a disservice to those who are depending on those pensions. It is a sign of disrespect for those who are trying to survive on a pension. It is an abandonment of the responsibility of government if it does not put in place the guarantees that are necessary to ensure that people can live with dignity, respect and a modicum of comfort when they retire.

We in the NDP agree that the basis on which the levy would be paid by plan sponsors is a complex matter. It would take a lot of discussion, analysis and consultation. There would have to be a phase-in period; no question. There are many forces and issues that would have to be sorted through and reconciled.

All that being said, we are very disappointed that this key recommendation from Mr. Arthurs is nowhere to be seen in this first package of pension reform legislation. That piece alone is something that this government should have addressed. A lot of other issues are on the table, but that one alone is key. When I talk to pensioners, when I go door to door in my riding, this question of inadequate income comes up time after time after time. When I look at emails that I receive from former Nortel employees trying to live on their pensions, people who face extreme hardship, people who worked for decades for a company and now find that what were essentially deferred wages are evaporating in front of them—that’s not just. That’s not proper. That is not the way we should be dealing with the people in this society who allow it to run.

This government likes to talk about the fact that just to allow for solvency under the present $1,000-per-month limit, the premium had to be raised by 500%. What isn’t made clear by the government is that that 500%, in real terms, is an increase from $1 per plan member per year to $5 per plan member per year—$5 per year.

People know that if you are buying insurance, if you are buying a pension, if you are buying a framework to keep your pension going, it isn’t going to be free. An increase of $5 per year to ensure that the $1,000-per-month guarantee is in place, solid and sustainable is entirely defensible.

The minister also says that to implement the full Arthurs recommendation of $2,500 per year would mean a 1,000% increase. That would mean $10 per member per year. If that was phased in, we think that that would be a reasonable commitment to make, to make sure that people had a pension guarantee of up to $2,500 per month. If the way to prevent future Nortel disasters is to phase in an increase of $5 per year per member over the new rates, then the government should just do it. No one in the future in Ontario should go through what the Nortel pensioners have gone through and are going through. They don’t deserve to be treated the way they’ve been treated, and other pensioners don’t deserve to be treated in that fashion.

Secondly, the NDP supports the Arthurs recommendation for establishing an Ontario pension agency. We believe that pooling, administering, investing and disbursing stranded pensions would be an important role for the agency. In our opinion, an Ontario pension agency would pretty much solve the problem that Nortel pensioners face. Nortel, AbitibiBowater, CanWest Global Communications: All could benefit from an Ontario pension agency.

The government seems to think that the pension agency, as conceived of by Arthurs, runs the risk of making the government responsible for any downside potential involved in managing pension assets. That’s simply not the case. And if that’s not the case, you have to wonder why the government won’t pursue this very solid idea.


Finally, Arthurs recommended the adoption of emergency indexation provisions. In the event of another surge in inflation, fixed pension benefits will, we know, be inadequate. At the same time, inflation may deliver high nominal returns to pension funds. High nominal returns due to inflation should not be permitted to produce high surpluses at the expense of fixed-income pensioners.

Now—right now—is the time to address this concern with limited indexing provisions, before inflation becomes a serious issue. We very much think the government needs to act on this.

To give the government credit—and as you’re well aware, I don’t do that often—there are a number of solid provisions in this legislation. Most of the constructive proposals follow closely the recommendations of Professor Arthurs, and to him should go most of the credit. It’s too bad that by ignoring three of his most important recommendations, the government threw away the opportunity to pass some really landmark pension legislation.

I want to talk about some of the specific provisions in the legislation. This is very technical stuff, and I look forward to going clause by clause—or my colleague, to be more accurate, Mr. Miller from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, looks forward to going clause by clause through the bill at committee.

Here are some of the NDP’s thoughts about this bill and the clauses in it. In terms of funding, in broad strokes, we think the government is on the right track because they’re basically following the Arthurs recommendations. We’re pleased to see that Ontario’s legislation will in the future treat different types of pension plans differently in regard to funding.

In general, pension plans that are jointly sponsored and governed by a board that is independent of the employer, at least half of whose members are appointed by a trade union, will be treated differently than pension plans that are sponsored and governed only by an employer. We applaud this step, and we believe that it marks an important transition to a more stable employment-based pension system. At the same time, we do have specific concerns in regard to the proposed funding rules of general application as well as those that are applicable specifically to multi-employer plans.

Plan improvements: With respect to the section on plan improvements, we note that the government proposes to limit the ability to improve plan benefits by requiring that any more improvements, or any improvements, be funded more quickly than is now the case. In particular, the government proposes eight-year, going-concern funding for benefit improvements in the normal course, and, where a plan’s funded ratio is 85% or less, an immediate lump sum payment followed by a five-year amortization period. While these rules have merit in cases where the cost of improvement is large in comparison to the underlying sponsor’s payroll or financial capacity, these rules are unnecessary in other cases and may indeed unduly restrict the ability of a plan to provide decent pension benefits to its members.

There are other members of my caucus who will be addressing this matter today. Mr. Miller is here from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek. Mr. Peter Kormos will be speaking to this bill as well.I will be leaving my remaining time to them to address the bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Mike Colle: Just in my remarks—although this is about time allocation, I think it’s another opportunity to talk about this very crucial issue, and that is pension reform. As you know, in the next 20 years the number of people over age 65 in Ontario will double. I don’t know if you heard that, Madam Speaker—double. Can you believe that? The number of people over 65 will double. You can imagine the impact that’s going to have on pensions and the demand for seniors’ services and supplemental income for our seniors, so we are really reaching the crunch time for our pension future, you might say. I think that’s why this bill that’s been put forward by Minister Duncan and his efforts to engage the federal government in these discussions about the pension future are crucial. It’s never really been done before. I know we have dealt with pensions on an ad hoc basis here when there’s been a serious crisis, as there has been with a couple of defined benefit pension plans when they’ve gotten into trouble. But I think it’s the first time there’s been a comprehensive approach to the future of pensions and where our citizens’ futures are in jeopardy.

As you know, over 70% of Ontarians do not have a defined benefit pension plan—70%. Many of them are women who, basically, have only that old age security to live on. Many of them worked on and off in the workforce—they stopped to have children and raise a family—so they have very little to show for it in their Canada pension plan.

These are the people, in all of our ridings, who are very fragile when it comes to the sustainability of their income. There’s very little money coming in and a lot of money going out the door. It’s especially acute for those pensioners who live in the GTA and in Toronto, because it is extremely expensive to hold on to any kind of residence in Toronto, whether it’s the rent you pay in an apartment or the cost of maintaining a home in Toronto. It is extremely exorbitant at times.

You can imagine: In Toronto, all of a sudden your home could be worth $500,000, $600,000, $700,000. You’ve lived in that home; it’s a very modest home. It’s not unusual, in the older parts of Toronto, to see a home that’s got 18-foot frontage by 110 feet—a very modest home, semi-detached—that has that value. You can imagine what you have to pay in taxes, what you have to pay to maintain that home. You have to fix the roof. Every year, it’s either the roof, it’s the eavestroughs, it’s water in the basement. It’s guaranteed, if you have a home, that you’re going to be putting out all kinds of money you never intended to put out to fix and maintain your home.

The seniors don’t want to leave that home. They want to stay in that home, because that’s where their church or their synagogue is, or that’s where their friends are, and they want to stay there. In fact, the government saves money if they stay in that home. In the long run, it’s much more effective to allow seniors to maintain that residence.

But you can imagine the costs of trying to hold on to that home: the heating bills and the maintenance, as I said. So when you’ve got a senior who’s basically bringing in $14,000 a year, it is almost impossible.

As you know, our seniors are exceptional savers. I saw it the other day. I was walking along Hopewell Avenue in my riding, and there was a senior with a pail, and she was on the curb, in the gutter, scooping up water. I said, “What are you doing with that water?” She said, “I’m trying to keep my water bill down, and I’m using that to water my flowers.” This is how effective they are as savers.

They want to stay in that home. They don’t consume—


Mr. Mike Colle: I know the member from Grey-Owen Sound doesn’t appreciate the hard-working seniors in my riding who came to Canada with nothing. These seniors came to Canada with nothing but the will to work. They’ve sacrificed, they’ve saved, they raised a family, and they paid their taxes. But the member from Grey-Owen Sound thinks it’s a joke. He thinks that these hard-working seniors are a joke. I can’t believe that. He’s heckling these seniors, who never spent one day on unemployment insurance, not one day on unemployment insurance, not one day on welfare.

Mr. Bill Murdoch: Shame on you.

Mr. Mike Colle: They paid their taxes, they worked two or three jobs, and he says, “Shame on them,” the member from Grey-Owen Sound. He says, “Shame on these seniors.” I say, shame on him for not respecting these seniors, who have sacrificed.


Mr. Mike Colle: And that’s the problem—

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Order.

You may continue.


Mr. Mike Colle: That’s the problem with the member from Grey-Owen Sound. He doesn’t appreciate the sacrifices made by these seniors and how much they saved, how much they care about their kids, their homes. They want to stay in their homes, and the member from Grey-Owen Sound wants them to leave their homes. I say, let them stay in their homes. They have a right to stay in their homes, but they can’t stay in their homes if they don’t have an adequate pension. They don’t have an adequate pension because they don’t have the luxury of a defined benefit pension plan. All they’ve got is the old age security plan. The member from Grey-Owen Sound thinks every senior is rich or something. Many seniors in Toronto are strapped because they are paying a lot of their money to help maintain their homes.


The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Order, order.


The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I ask the member from Grey-Owen Sound—you’ll have your turn shortly. The member for Eglinton–Lawrence, continue.

Mr. Mike Colle: It’s about time we stood up for these seniors and reminded everybody that not everybody has the Canada pension plan. All they have is the old age security, and they live very frugally. They’ve worked hard. They continue to ask nothing of the government but good health care, good police protection, good city services. That’s all they ask.

It’s ironic that the government in Ottawa talks about everything under the sun. They talk about the long-form census, and they talk about all these obscure things. They never talk about seniors and their pensions. I’ve never seen one federal election where they—

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Building jails.

Mr. Mike Colle: Oh, they talk about building jails, too. Build homes for seniors, not jails. That would be good.

Federal governments of all stripes in the past—you go to any federal election. I’ve never heard pensions discussed; never. Everything is discussed, from building jails to banning long rifles to long forms, yet they never talk about our seniors.

As a provincial government, our main mandate is to ensure our seniors have good health care in their declining years. That’s why we need to be there for them, whether it’s hip replacements, knee replacements, cataracts, long-term-care facilities. We’ve got the aging-at-home strategy. I think we are trying do our part.

And it’s not a laughing matter, Madam Speaker. These seniors deserve good health care, and they deserve a better pension. I think it’s our job here as legislators in Ontario to be the voice of our seniors, to ensure that whether it’s the federal government or whether it’s the provincial Legislature—we have to speak up on behalf of seniors who have sacrificed, who have saved, who have worked hard, who have never asked the government for anything. We have to be spokespersons for those seniors who want just to stay in their home and live in peace and tranquility in their golden years.

Right now, it is very difficult to do that because the federal pension—you look at it in the last 20 years. What did it go up? One dollar, $2 a year, something like that. It’s laughable. Those pensions should be increasing in a substantial way so that seniors can stay in their homes. I’m talking about the old age pension that most seniors rely upon. That’s got to be substantially increased. It can’t be done by the provincial government, but we can certainly pressure and partner with the federal government to ensure that these seniors who have very modest incomes, very modest demands, who have never asked for anything from government, can stay in their homes in dignity.

It’s ironic. You pick up the front page of any newspaper in Canada today and see what’s in the newspaper. There’s never anything about helping seniors and their pensions. It’s never in there. Every other group, every other special interest group, every other person who has a loud mouth gets all kinds of money from the government in Ottawa. They never talk about helping seniors in a substantial way. It’s about time that happened. It’s good for the government in Ottawa to talk about all of these incredible programs they have, but when are they going to have good programs that help seniors and pensioners stay in their homes?

I know there is one program that’s being discussed. That is a program that will help people who are relatives or friends of seniors who are sick and elderly, and that person might be able to get some kind of supplement to help care for that person at home. I know it’s a program that is used in Italy. It’s called accompaniment. It’s a very good program. It’s being looked at.

That’s the kind of substantive investment that has to be made in keeping our seniors safe and healthy in their homes. That’s what we should be doing as provincial legislators. We should be looking at ways of modernizing, making these pension plans viable, because they’re not, in many cases. Whether they’re the company pensions or the old-age security, we’ve got to be much more articulate on behalf of our seniors, because right now, they are feeling the pinch. As I said, it’s not even on the radar. I mean, if you turn on the parliamentary channel in Ottawa, when are they ever talking about seniors and their pensions? Never. They’ve walked away from the health care debate. Who is the Minister of Health in the federal government in Ottawa? I have no idea. At one time, the federal government in Ottawa played a role in health care. They play no role, hardly, in health care right now.

We can’t help people and their pension dilemma by ourselves, and that’s why I’m glad that Minister Duncan has taken this issue to Ottawa. All the provincial Premiers should do this, because this is a huge point of stress, of future indemnity for all of us. Unless there’s a concerted effort to put this on the agenda, to ensure that the best advice is given, from people like Professor Arthurs, and to ensure that this goes forward in a meaningful, substantive way—and I know that sometimes people say, “Well, you should do this, that or the other thing.” It’s never been done in a meaningful way. There’s never been any pension debate. You look at the Hansard of the provincial Legislature for the last 30 years: hardly any debate on pension reform. Its time has come, and the clock is ticking.

As I said, the number of people over 65 in the next 20 years will double in Ontario. We’ve seen the lack of concern that some of these corporate giants have had about their pensioners. We have seen them left out in the cold, because it’s always about some corporate shareholder’s perspective rather than the perspective of the workers. There needs to be more protection for workers, more protection for them when they retire to ensure that pension is there, because they paid into it.

These protections are very vulnerable right now, because as you know, in the United States and in Canada, the pension plans were quite buoyant and quite liquid because of the markets. As we know, the markets in New York and on Wall Street were essentially a balloon full of a lot of hot air. They were just speculative values that didn’t really have true values. So who has suffered with the speculation and the speculators on Wall Street? Ultimately, it’s the pensioners. In fact, in Canada, luckily, the other base for seniors’ equity in their declining years is their home. Thankfully, our home values have remained constant. But you can imagine, in the United States of America, where they’ve had the double whammy. Now you can buy a home in many jurisdictions in the United States for $40,000, $50,000. Homes in Detroit that used to cost $500,000 are going for $5,000. So they lose their home and the value of their home. Then on top of that, any money they had—and as you know, Americans were told to invest in Wall Street, and that was their future. I think they call it a “K.” I was going to say Y2K, but they—

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: A 401(k).

Mr. Mike Colle: A 401(k). So they invested in the stock market. The stock market collapses, real estate prices collapse, and you can see the double whammy for seniors in the United States.

In Canada, we have seen an impact of the meltdown of Wall Street, two years ago. It’s really impacted many of our seniors, and if they have money in the bank, money in GICs, you can see how low that return is. And who is to say what’s going to happen to the bubble in the real estate market? As was reported by the Conference Board of Canada, I think, last week, Canadian homes are overvalued by about 20%, 30%. That, for many seniors, is their pension. That’s what they have. All they have is that home that they paid off the mortgage on and kept up to date. That was their hope for the future: that they could live their last remaining years with a little bit of security.


This bill and the issue of where it’s going is critically important, and I’m glad that it is before us in the Ontario Legislature. I think we all need to come with a real focus on trying to remember that there are many people unable to fend for themselves financially, and we owe it to them to be their advocates. We should be their advocates here, provincially, and we should be their advocates with the federal government, which is basically missing in action. I don’t say that it’s just the present federal government, which is Conservative; it’s the same thing with the last federal Liberal government. The pension issue was never on the table, never discussed in any election. Can you recall one election where this was an issue? Never. It has never been a federal issue. It’s shameful that it has never been discussed as a federal issue when so many seniors have fought for this country and sacrificed to make this a great country.

Let’s go forward with this legislation and drive this issue for fairness, especially for our seniors, who need that pension, and for those workers who are retired who need the security of a pension they were promised.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The member for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound.

Mr. Bill Murdoch: I’m a little confused today. I thought we were here debating closure on a pension act, and what we’ve had for the last 20 minutes was a lecture on how bad Ottawa is and how bad it is to live in Ontario under the Liberal government. I can’t believe this gentleman across the way, who said it’s so bad in Ontario, and he’s the government. They’ve been here seven years and did nothing about it, and now all of a sudden he’s blaming it all on Ottawa. But I guess that’s what the Liberals want to do.

Here we are bringing a closure motion to a bill that I believe the opposition is in favour of—at least we are, anyway, on this side—and we’ve got to spend a whole day here debating closing the bill. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. What has this government come to? They have nothing, I guess, to bring forward to this House other than closure on a bill that people agree with, and then they get up and lecture us about Ottawa. That shows that this government over here has come to their last days. They are desperate to hang on to power, which won’t be here much longer, and they bring in a closure motion to a bill that people agree on. Boy, they must be desperate over there to show their power. Does this give you power, that, “We can close a bill whenever we want”? All they had to do was bring it back for third reading and it would have gotten passed. But no; they want to put on a whole lot of regulations, rules, and say, “We’re going to close the bill and have very little debate on it in third reading.”

I want to remind them that we have an amendment to their bill: “That the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs be authorized to meet Monday, November 8, Tuesday, November 9, and Wednesday, November 10, for the purpose of holding public hearings in London, Ottawa and North Bay.”

If they’re really serious about what they say and they want this bill passed and they want to listen to people—and the gentleman who spoke just before me went on and on about how nobody’s doing anything—here’s a chance. I’m sure he’ll be voting for this amendment. I don’t see how he couldn’t vote for it after the lecture he gave us in this House about how no one is doing anything for seniors. Here’s a chance to go out and hear from other people. Hopefully he’ll accept the amendment when it comes time to vote tonight. I’m sure he will; I don’t know how he couldn’t. There’s a name for that, but we won’t be able to say it in here. I’m sure he will certainly vote for it, because we’re going to have the chance to do that later on this afternoon.

Why couldn’t we, instead of having a closure motion to close Bill 120 when everybody is in favour of it—there may be changes to it, but we’re willing to grant passage of it—be working on one of the petitions that I brought into this House today? They’re doing nothing about people who picket in front of our vulnerable people. We’ve had people here at the Legislature talking about that. We have a bill, Bill 83, that would prohibit people picketing vulnerable people’s residences during a strike, which is terrible. There’s nothing wrong if people want to go on strike—and they have the right to do that—but when you get into Community Living and places like that, to go right to the residence and picket there is despicable, and it shouldn’t happen.

But this government obviously thinks it’s better to bring in a closure bill than do something like that, bring in something that we could actually have meaningful debate on. They’d rather have us come in here and listen to somebody bash the federal government. That is almost pathetic, when somebody stands up here and uses up his time to bash something in Ottawa, which he has no control over anyway, and to say that nobody is doing anything about it. But his own government hasn’t done anything about it. And now they have a bill that we want to pass, and they want to drag it out; they want to bring in a whole day of debate. We could be debating third reading right now and getting this bill passed, but no, they want to sit in here and bash the federal government.

There’s another petition that I read in today. It’s about what we had happen in the OSPCA. They don’t want to touch that. I think what happened—the minister said that they had no provincial jurisdiction over the OSPCA. If that’s true, then why aren’t you doing something about it? Because you all saw what happened when they got out of control. It says here that they killed over 90 animals—99 animals have been killed. This government says we can’t do anything about it, yet we’re going to bring in a motion that we’re going to talk about all day to bring in closure on a bill that people support.

Where’s the sense in that? What has this government come to? We’re sitting down here at Queen’s Park debating a closure bill when you could be debating something like this, something that could do some good, something that people want done out there. We’ve already agreed with this bill. We’ve heard from the member over there that it’s a federal fault anyway, and we’ve agreed on this one to try to help out with the seniors, and yet he goes on and on and his government brings in this closure bill, which we shouldn’t be standing here debating. If anything, this should be third reading debate.

The minister from Manitoulin Island—I’m surprised he’s here and he’s not out hunting, but he is here, and he likes to get in on the conversation, which is fine, if he would like to stand up and have a few words in here. But there’s no sense in your heckling because nobody listens to you when you heckle. You might as well get that through your head. And he’s been here long enough to know that it doesn’t do him any good to heckle, because all he does is get somebody else riled up.

Again, here we’re debating, as I say, a closure motion, which is very odd. I mean, we have no idea, and I’m sure he has no idea, why it’s brought in, or any of the rest of them over there. They have to come in, do their duty, and we’re glad to see them here doing their duty.

But now we have a nice new glossy book put out by the government, the Minister of Finance; it’s even got your three-men-in-a-tub logo on here. My good friend from Welland coined the name for that. Remember? The member from Welland is here.


Mr. Bill Murdoch: Three men in a tub. It has “Ontario” on it. It’s one of these nice glossy books. And I can remember—I’ve been here for a few years—when they were in opposition, standing up if we ever dared print something like this—“Huh?” They went on and on about all the money you spent.

Interjection: What’s inside? Is there anything worth—

Mr. Bill Murdoch: Well, we’re going to get into the inside. We’re going to do a bit of Masonic work on this, because I see they’re into the three pillars. Some people would be interested in this, and in their version, two of the pillars are from Ottawa. Why would they print something in here from Ottawa—who knows?—after the thrashing they just did on Ottawa? And then to come in and complain about Ottawa and put them right on the book, because they have pillars one, two and three. Pillars one and two are in Ottawa, and three is here. But I always thought pillars were something different. I remember pillars. There’s wisdom, strength and beauty.

Interjection: Beauty.

Mr. Bill Murdoch: Right. Somebody will understand that. Some people out in the world will understand that.

The trouble is they couldn’t put that down—wisdom, strength and beauty—because there’s not a lot of wisdom over there, coming in with this bill; strength—well, they try to have strength in numbers, but their numbers dwindle away, they dwindle away, and we can’t say too much about that; beauty—well, I hate to say too much. Some of them come up pretty good on that one, but we can’t even get into names, so what can I do with that?

But these temples look like they’re from King Solomon, and I know some of you will understand that. What do we call them? Ionic, Doric and what was that third one?


Mr. Robert Bailey: Corinthian.

Mr. Bill Murdoch: Corinthian. You would have made more sense, folks, in doing something like that, some Masonic work in this book, than in sending this out, trying to tell people that this is going to get you votes and putting the three men in the tub on the front of it.

Mr. Peter Kormos: Show us the handshake.

Mr. Bill Murdoch: They could have. They would have been better off, member from Welland. The member from Hamilton, he understands this whole thing. This is just sort of another one of their silly things that they come out with. But if they’d like some wisdom, I could give it to them, and some strength. The beauty may not be here, but I can’t help that one. But we can help them out, and I’m sure we can help them out with King Solomon’s temple, because they must have thought that would have caught somebody’s eye. That’s all I can see.

Mr. Toby Barrett: There’s a reason.

Mr. Bill Murdoch: There must be a reason but we can’t find it because most of it’s about federal stuff. CPP: Is that not federal? Old age security: Is that not federal?

Then we get into the tax-assessed voluntary private savings. I like that word because they really love it over there—“tax.” That’s their middle name. Liberal tax, or maybe it’s tax Liberal, I’m not sure, but they love that word, don’t they, over there?

Mr. Robert Bailey: Tax and spend.

Mr. Bill Murdoch: Tax and spend—and they proved that—

Mr. Paul Miller: Or crash and burn.

Mr. Bill Murdoch: “Crash and burn,” somebody says, and that could be it.

But maybe we could have talked about, rather than this bill that we’re talking about, this resolution to close off closure on this one—maybe we could talk about the $20 billion they spent that they didn’t have. Twenty billion dollars you spent last year that you didn’t have. Did any of it go to help the seniors? We heard the speaker before me—no, because they’re in bad shape and it’s because the Liberals have been in government for seven years. I’ve never heard a more scathing comment on this government than the one I heard from the Liberal member.

Mr. Robert Bailey: Their own member.

Mr. Bill Murdoch: Their own member. But he’s catching on. He says, “You know, there’s an election coming and I’m going to need some votes out there; I’d better start cutting my own government up pretty soon,” and he went on to do that.

Mr. Robert Bailey: It will only get worse.

Mr. Bill Murdoch: Well, anything else can’t get worse because here we are today, all these important issues that we have in Ontario, and one of them is seniors. That is so important. We’re debating a resolution to bring in a motion to bring down a bill, but we could be debating that bill; we could have it over today. The bill could be done. We could have talked about third reading and got it on, but no, we’re not doing that and we’re not going to listen to anybody. We’re going to have two days—I believe it’s two days, if I’m right—of hearings in Toronto.

We have an amendment, and I know the good people over there will listen to that amendment and they will vote for it, so this should pass today as amended, I would hope.


Mr. Bill Murdoch: What? There’s the racetrack man telling me, “No way.” He’s been run over a few times by some of those cars, I’m sure, obviously, but there he is telling me, “No way.” He’s telling me, “No way.”


Mr. Bill Murdoch: And then Etobicoke starts getting into the argument over there. That’s nice to hear, that they’re listening somewhere along the line, but why don’t you go to your caucus meeting and bring it up and say, “Why are we doing stupid things like this, folks? Why are we doing this?” Do you speak up in caucus? You like to talk here when it’s not your turn, which is fine. I don’t mind a bit of heckling over there, that’s fine. But do you speak up when it comes to caucus? Have you not gone and told them that these are silly things to do? I can’t believe it.


Mr. Bill Murdoch: And there he is, Mr. Race Car himself. Does he say anything in caucus? I don’t know, but obviously he let this get by.

Having a whole day wasted in here talking about bringing closure to a bill, just to give you power. Do you think that’s power over there? But folks, you could have had this bill. You know that. The opposition was agreeing with you on this. Let’s get it through and get on to the regulations. That’s where there will be trouble anyway, I’m sure, but we’d like to get to those at least and get something going. But no, you’ve got to bring in a closure motion and waste a whole day here when you could have been doing other things.

I have to leave some time, and that’s all right. I just hope the rest of them use up their time, too. I don’t mind leaving time, because I know other people would like to speak on this, Madam Speaker. I’m sure that if you could get out of that chair, you’d love to get out here and talk to these people.

I’m going to leave it at that: Why are we doing dumb things like this when we could be doing something more important?

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Paul Miller: Before I get into the notes, I’d just look to bring the viewers up to snuff on what’s going on here. The bottom line here is that the government will stand up and point at the opposition and say, “You didn’t support this bill.” There could be 50 things wrong with the bill and two things right, but we don’t want to stand in the way of progress. So, as good, collective, agreeable people, we’ll pass the bill even though it’s completely insufficient, although it is a terrible bill and all it does is a little housekeeping. But we’ll pass it because we don’t want them to stand up and say, “Your party voted against it.” That’s what they’ll do.

We get these bills that are one tenth of what they should be, and they get passed in the House because you don’t want to stand in the way of any little bit of progress. This bill is far from being a good bill, and the member from the opposition stood up and said that we agree on it. No, we don’t agree on it. It’ll pass because we don’t want to stand in the way of some of the things they implemented that aren’t so bad, but 90% of it is not there.

The other member got up and said, “Let’s pass it on to Ottawa and put all the financial burden on them.” I’ll reiterate that this government is responsible for 70% of the pension plans in this province, and they’ve got a hands-off approach. They blame it on Ottawa. They say that CPP will solve all the problems in Ottawa by increasing the CPP, but they’re running away from their commitment provincially.

We, in the NDP, brought forward a plan that would have helped the 65% of Ontarians who don’t have a plan at all, and it would be the Ontario pension plan. We brought it forward. It fell on deaf ears. They didn’t deal with it. They shot it down in committee and wouldn’t even entertain it because they did not want a financial commitment to the people of Ontario—the people who pay the taxes here.

Then they stood up and had the nerve to say, “Well, 65% of the people have to pay for the 30% of defined pension plans, and that’s not fair; they shouldn’t have to.” You’re right; they shouldn’t. They should be able to participate in a plan themselves, called the Ontario pension plan, but you’re not giving them the opportunity. They’ll probably go to their grave with no defined pension plan because you won’t implement the Ontario pension plan, which would help those 65% of Ontarians who need help, because, believe me, the members across the way know darn well that some people don’t even qualify for CPP. All they get is old age security. That doesn’t cut it. If you don’t have a private pension plan or another pension plan, you’re done. You’re not going to stay in your house on $700 or $800 a month. You know that. They’re going to be in a less-than-desirable location to spend their golden years. These people know that, but they won’t implement a plan for Ontario to help people.

This afternoon, we should be debating Bill 120, pension benefits, not rushing it through so people can’t have their say. We should be debating it. I’m going to remind the government, from my statement last week on our position on this bill—not only our position but that of all Ontarians: The benefits that Ontarians want are those that offer security, stability and options: options like those recommended in the Expert Commission on Pensions report—and the member stood up and said, “Dr. Arthurs did a great job.” He did do a good job, but they didn’t listen to him. They didn’t implement it. Security: like that recommended to raise the pension guarantee fund to $2,500 a month. This plan hasn’t been increased since 1980. Wake up, people. Thirty years? Do you think maybe costs went up? Do you think maybe prices went up for wherever you’re living, or your utilities? One thousand a month—same as it was in 1980. They did nothing to increase the pension guarantee fund.

Security: in this government establishing an Ontario pension agency which will grow up, not wind up, pensions left without proper management when a company goes bankrupt.

Options: Every working Ontarian deserves the chance to belong to a publicly managed defined-benefit pension plan like the NDP’s proposed Ontario retirement plan.

Every Ontarian could face retirement enjoying greater financial security, not begging the government to top up retirement income so that they can climb up closer to the minimum-income poverty level.


This afternoon, we could stand up for everyday Ontarians—we should be properly debating this bill—but we’re not. We’re suffering another government time allocation motion, an action ensuring that the voices of Ontarians are stifled; that the government can bully its way around and do exactly what Ontarians don’t want. I encourage each MPP to think about the positive impact they could have on their constituents—but they are not even being considered in this time allocation motion.

As a New Democrat, I’m outraged that this government is yet again shutting down debate in this Legislature. Why is this government yet again using the heavy hammer of time allocation to end debate? Why are they doing it?

The member stood up and said, “Everybody agrees on this.” Well, no, we don’t agree on it. We agree on maybe 20% or 15% of it, but we don’t want to stand in the way of progress, so, yes, we’ll probably vote for it because if we don’t, the finance minister will stand up and say, “Your party voted against it,” even though 80% of it is garbage. So you’ve got to vote for 20% and accept the 80% garbage. That’s not my idea of a good bill.

Time allocation only ensures that there are as few people as possible allowed to speak at public hearings. They’ve limited it to two half-days in Toronto. Don’t go to the pension centres, where people really know a lot about pension windup, like Hamilton or Windsor. Where are we going to do it? In Toronto.

Why are they afraid that Ontarians will start asking questions and get to the bottom, to the real impact of this legislation, the real truth behind this bill? If it’s such a good bill, let them talk about it. Let them have their day in court.

Let’s be clear for those who are watching this televised debate: We’re dealing with truncating, reducing, ending the time that we’re going to have to debate this bill in the House. This is probably the most important thing that has happened in this province in the last 30 years—pension reform—probably the most important bill, and they want to move it quickly because they really don’t want you to look at the fine points in this bill because you might find something you don’t like. In fact, I guarantee you would.

The government’s actions would lead one to believe that without time allocation the world is going to come to an end; that hearing from Ontarians will cause permanent damage to this bill. At best, this is quite a stretch. To suggest that somehow or other time allocation is about efficiency in the disposition of business—if we brought that argument forward to every democratic thing we do, I think we’d be in big trouble. There are sufficient rules within our Legislature to provide members an opportunity to express themselves on legislation that they have reservations about.

This time allocation is a sadly cursory way to deal with government business. To allow that to happen is a disservice to all of us, because we all, even the governing group, are diminished by it.

Rather than making time allocation motions, this government would better serve the people of Ontario by rewriting the rules so that we can divide a piece of legislation and vote on sections of it, especially the pain of omnibus bills. We never get to vote—example: a budget. The finance minister stands up there and says, “You voted against the budget.” Well, here we go again. There could be 10 things in the budget that are good and 70 that are wrong. Of course we’re going to vote against it. Of course we’re going to vote against the things we don’t like. We even have groups coming in here telling them it’s wrong, whom they don’t listen to. They don’t listen in committee; they don’t listen to all the large groups who come in here and say what they think about the legislation, and nothing happens. Municipal councils do this regularly, and good parts of legislation actually get enacted, and those without support get sent back to be rethought and rewritten. A significant advantage of this is that the public can actually see what is hidden in the bills as members ask to vote on individual sections that they agree with or want to ensure the members’ votes are recorded. It is a more transparent way to do business and allows our constituents to speak to specifics and have a real say in the laws that we pass in this House.

Time allocation is not the right way to go. This only serves the government’s agenda, not that of Ontarians.

To follow the lead of my learned colleagues across the floor, I’ve looked into their records, into how they have responded to time allocation motions when not in government. I repeat: when not in government. The Minister of Community Safety said:

“How I wish we didn’t have to debate this time allocation motion....

“I simply want to say that once again we see the government using its iron fist on the opposition....”

I agree with you, Minister. This government is using its iron fist to stop the basic right of the public to raise their concerns to ensure full, in-depth debate and consideration of their support of this legislation.

If the government really wants to hear from interested parties about this or any bill they decide to time-allocate, they should ensure that there are more days for each standing committee to meet and to hear deputations. Two half-days don’t cut it. There should be at least three full days, at minimum, or more, if necessary, depending on how many applications they get.

If the governing group really wanted to hear from Ontarians, they would not use their majority on standing committees to stifle debates. I sat on a committee for a seniors’ bill—and I think one member stood up here from Toronto and said how wonderful they are for seniors. We had 91 amendments to the seniors’ bill that the NDP put forward. They changed half of one because it was a housekeeping thing and they shot down 90. We had amendments from CARP. We had amendments from the nursing association. We had amendments from all the seniors’ associations in Ontario, even from some of the home care people and from the chain care. And what did they do? They shot down 90 of them. All the Liberal members didn’t even pay attention when we presented them. They were doing other things, looking at their BlackBerrys and doing other things, not paying attention. They just went through the motions, no pun intended. They went through the motions and sat there and just shot everything down. They had their marching orders. They didn’t think for themselves; they did what they were told to do. It happens day in and day out in this Legislature. I’ve been here three years and I’ve sat on these committees. It’s a joke. They’re a joke.

I want to be clear: Despite this time allocation motion, I’m pleased to have even a minor bit of movement on this bill—a minor bit of movement. They did a few housekeeping things on administration and windup that weren’t too bad. But you can’t shoot it down, because then you shoot the whole bill down, and they say, once again, “Your party shot the bill down. Your party didn’t support us,” even though 80% of it is wrong.

As I’ve said previously, the government has made some moves on administration changes, windup rule changes, and other things they’ve tinkered with as far as administration goes. However, I heard my colleague from the opposition say that he was concerned about the 65% of Ontarians contributing to the defined pension plan protection under the PBGF, and they don’t get anything out of it. Well, I can see why they’d be upset, having to donate to a defined pension plan system that they can’t even claim. But we had an answer for that: the Ontario pension plan. They could have been part of the system. They could have donated to the system, and they would have felt good about their donations because they’d get something at the end of the day. But this government shot it down, didn’t even want to deal with it, couldn’t even handle it. Maybe if we didn’t owe $21 billion, we might have been able to handle it. Who did that in seven years?

I remember when I first got here that the finance minister used to stand up and berate the official opposition. He’d stand up and criticize them: “When we took over seven years ago, we had a $5-billion deficit.” Well, you’ve got $21 billion now. I don’t see you mentioning that anymore. Why aren’t you talking about it? And why isn’t the official opposition going after them and saying, “Your deficit is four times more than we had.” Why don’t you guys go after them? You should. Don’t throw rocks when you live in a glass house. I can’t believe that the finance minister can stand up and say that. It’s unbelievable.

The consideration of this good plan fell on deaf ears. The ORP would have helped the 65% of Ontarians who don’t have workplace pension plans so that they wouldn’t feel left out of the process, and without the help that so many of them need for retirement.

We also proposed improvements to the PBGF for defined pension plans. The government’s own expert, Dr. Arthurs, recommended that you raise it from $1,000 to $2,500. They could have done it over a period of time. We didn’t expect it overnight. They could have amortized it. Not one penny—they did not increase it one penny, and they’ve got the nerve to stand up and say that they’re helping Ontarians. They pass it off to CPP in Ottawa, where we may get a very minimal increase. They’re not living up to their commitments, they’re not doing the job for the people of this province, and they’ll find out next year.


There was an influx of some money into the pension plan, but be very sure, if a major corporation—I won’t deny they put money into the PBGF; they did. But trust me, if Nortel pensioners start collecting on it, or Chrysler or somebody else goes under, within three years, your PBGF would be dead in the water. There would be nothing.

Why should people who pay into pension plans their whole life be put in a position to lose 30% or 40% of their hard-earned pension income—income they worked their whole life for, and for which they negotiated, by deferred wages, to provide retirement protection? Gone, almost all of it. Look at those poor Nortel workers and a lot of other people in this province. That was negotiated in contracts. They kept their end of the bargain. They worked all those years, hoping that they’d have something contributing to the end of the day, and then the company pulls the rug out from underneath them and says, “Sorry, we don’t have the funds. We’re going to have to wind up your pension plan. You’re out of luck.” The person is 68 or 70 years old, or even older—80 maybe—and they’re going to take two thirds or whatever away from their pension. Talk about a kick in the head. You might as well have rolled a steamroller over them. Half of them can’t bounce back because they’re too old to get jobs. They can’t bounce back, so are they going to live in poverty for the rest of their life? Yes, I think so.

And the government—it just boggles my mind. They get up and say, “Our minister has gone to two meetings.” Yeah, he’s gone to two meetings to pass the buck to the feds on CPP, but he’s not doing anything here in Ontario except administrative changes. Not one penny is going into the pockets of pensioners who need it now, today—not next week, not next month, not 10 years from now, but now. They need help now, and it’s not happening. It’s “Pass the buck to the feds.”

The NDP’s Ontario pension plan proposal is the only solution to this dilemma—the only solution. It will work, and we’ve shown them it will work. And it will cost almost nothing: $1 to $5 per plan member per year, five bucks a year, at the top end, per plan member to make that Ontario plan work. Wow, that’s not a lot of money. You probably spend that much at Tim Hortons. Well, think about it. Let’s make it 10 bucks a year, 100 bucks a year. Boy, that plan would be in good shape in 10 years. If each working Ontarian put $100 into that plan—wow. There are plans that have great track records, but plans would happily step in to use their already-in-place systems to quickly enable the ORP to get up and running and to manage the Ontario pension plan.

Over the last year, the Minister of Finance has gotten up in this House and avoided our Ontario pension plan, avoided some of our submissions on it. He seems to want to go only with the CPP enhancements and not to take responsibility provincially. He is betting the house on CPP enhancements. He attended a meeting out west, he attended a meeting in PEI, and he will attend more meetings. What has he learned? It’s hard to know and hard to quantify when we read Bill 120 and how scantily it addresses the real needs of Ontarians.

An article in the Globe and Mail stated, “The federal government is having a difficult time negotiating changes to the Canada pension plan with the provinces that would mean higher premiums for Canadians, but also increased benefits. Alberta, for example, is opposed to any increases and feels a private-sector option is preferable.” Wow, that sounds like another insurance company deal.

Even in light of statements like this, the McGuinty government doesn’t seem to get that a made-in-Ontario pension plan is the best option for everyone. How can they be that narrow? How can they not see it? We’ve even put the numbers in front of them.

It further stated that federal minister Flaherty “played down expectations of a wide-ranging deal on pension reform this fall.” He’s already playing it down. When the finance minister drives down to Ottawa or however he gets there, he might want to take some extra tires, because I think the tires are blowing out. It sounds like they’ve already started to backtrack federally. There goes his big promise.

But, of course, it probably won’t all happen, or nothing serious will happen, until after the election. They’ll stand up, if they’re fortunate enough to get in—I doubt it—and say, “We meant well. I’m sorry. You’re out of luck, but maybe four years from now, we can fix it up.” Pretty pathetic.

This is a warning bell, folks. This is a serious setback for pension reform in this country. This is a terrific opportunity for this government to finally get it right, to finally speak up on behalf of Ontarians, to finally work together with the opposition and start the process to implement the only real solution for Ontarians, the Ontario retirement plan submitted by the NDP.

What do they do instead? They call a time allocation motion on the puny bits that they’ve decided to include in Bill 120. “If we slip it through quick, maybe they won’t know what hit them and maybe they’ll realize, when they wake up the next day after the bill goes through, that, oops, there’s a few things missing here. It doesn’t sound like we’re going to get any money out of them.” It looks good on paper; it looks fancy. It’s pretty thick. It’s thick, all right.

Alberta opposes a public sector option—what a surprise. Alberta: There’s a stronghold for socialism. The federal finance minister suggested that things would be moving more quickly if we had co-operation from Alberta and Quebec. Interesting.

It’s my understanding that if two thirds of Canadians and two thirds of the provinces or territories endorse this, it goes through without Alberta and Quebec. It goes through without them. Ontario has one third or better of the population of Canada. They certainly would have the ability to push this through, but now we’re getting backtracks from both ends of it; the Liberals and the feds are both backtracking.

In the midst of all this talk we need to keep our minds open to how the workers and pensioners at Nortel and AbitibiBowater must be feeling, listening to this rhetoric. I tell you that I’ve talked with these folks, and they don’t need more pension education. They could likely give the seminar to most politicians. What they need is security for their current pension plans and security at current values for the pension benefits guarantee fund. They don’t need so much education; they need money in their pockets. Do the right thing. Help them out.

One of the most bothersome things is that our finance minister, by his antics and over-the-top rhetoric, appears to deliberately be diverting attention away from him and his inaction. I’ll reiterate: He is responsible for 70% of the pension plans in this province, so how do you avoid dealing directly with this problem? He’s directing his attention to the federal government and blaming it on CPP.

That’s easy to do. The other guy did it. Don’t vote for them; they did it. He’s not doing his job, and he’s not doing what he should do for the people of Ontario.

The NDP has maintained that we should supplement the CPP—we encourage improvements to CPP—and old age security with the Ontario pension plan for the 65% of Ontarians who don’t have a workplace pension plan.

I’m going to leave a couple of minutes for the member from Welland to discuss this and get his points in because he represents an area that’s been hard hit, also.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Jim Wilson: I’m pleased to have an opportunity to spend just under 15 minutes to talk about Bill 120, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Act and the Pension Benefits Amendment Act, 2010. What we’re really debating today, of course, is the time allocation motion on that legislation that Big Brother has brought in.

My complaint here this evening goes back to Bill 236, which was the compendium legislation to this Bill 120. That was called the Pension Benefits Amendment Act, and it received royal assent on May 18 of this year. I’m still waiting for the regulations to be passed.


I want to go through a chronology of what I’ve been doing and what thousands of paramedics, firefighters, municipal employees and MPAC employees have been trying to urge the government—we were happy that it received royal assent, Bill 236. My party voted for it, and we were happy to see the Pension Benefits Amendment Act, but we’re waiting too long for the regulations.

I can remember, before the act passed, when it was before Parliament, having a briefing with Ministry of Finance officials. We brought some paramedic representatives, Dave Coursey and some people from my area of the province. We were told that the regulations were almost written and that they would be available soon after the bill received royal assent, which it did in May.

Just to recap what I’ve been doing on behalf of paramedics and how Bill 236, the first part of this pension legislation, was to help them and hopefully will help them: Just over a year ago, a fellow named Dave Coursey came to see me in my Collingwood office. He’s a constituent of mine. He lives in Anten Mills. He’s a paramedic with the county of Simcoe. He came to see me about a problem he and a number of his colleagues had with their pensions.

When paramedic services were divested from the province to the county in the 1990s, Dave went from working at Royal Victoria Hospital, where he was enrolled in what, at that time, was called the hospitals of Ontario pension plan, or HOOPP, to working for the county of Simcoe, where he was then enrolled in the Ontario municipal employees retirement system, OMERS.

Nothing really changed. He had the same job the day after he was transferred, in the same area, only Dave’s paycheque and hundreds of paramedics’ cheques were coming from the county or other counties instead of RVH, the Royal Victoria Hospital, or their local hospitals, where they might have worked and their ambulance might have been based in the past and where they were an employee in the past.

The problem with their pensions was, Dave and many others who were transferred from one ambulance service to another were never told what was happening with their pensions. They assumed that all of their years of service from HOOPP, which is now called the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, and others who were in the OPSEU pension trust, would be transferred to OMERS. In fact, they were assured that, many times along the way.

That didn’t happen. While OMERS recognized his years of service, they were not able to transfer his pension assets over from HOOPP. That meant that he was destined to receive a significantly reduced pension through no fault of his own, and it’s well over $30,000 a year—no fault of the paramedics at all. We changed their employer. Their job stayed the same. I was a member of cabinet at the time, and I remember that it was never raised that this was a problem until they started to retire, I say to the member from Quinte–Northumberland West, in the last couple of years and realized they were going to get two pension cheques from two different streams, but combined, they wouldn’t get more. They were entitled to more if they were allowed to roll it into one pension plan.

The pension plans want to do this. The government wants to do it. Mr. Duncan has given his assurance. The member from Peterborough has spoken about it positively in this House. We just need all members to urge the Minister of Finance and the Premier and the bureaucrats at Finance to get the regulations out and to get them right so that we’re not stalled again.

I’ll just go on to say that a little-known section of the Pension Benefits Act prevented the transfer of pension assets when they changed employers. Again, even though HOOPP and OMERS both said they would be happy to do it, they couldn’t. So I made a commitment to Dave back then that I would do my best to try to get the government to change the act. We met with representatives of OMERS, who said that they’d be supportive and that they agreed the change needed to happen, because apparently they get thousands of inquiries a year from people who are now realizing that they need their pensions rolled into one plan to receive all the benefits which they had earned over their many years of public service in the province of Ontario. OMERS told us at the time that they had recommended the change to government in some of their published reports, and they provided me with copies of the reports. This issue has gone on for quite a long time under the guise of this government, I must say, since it came to light.

In May 2009 I introduced a private member’s bill to change the law and I tabled a resolution asking the government to fix it. When the resolution was debated in June of that year, the Liberals voted against it, as they normally do, and then brought in their own pension law to fix the problem later. It was called, as I said, Bill 236, the Pension Benefits Amendment Act. It seized upon my recommendation and that of the Expert Commission on Pensions, which said that the government should move to allow asset transfers for people affected by past divestment.

I voted in favour, as did my party, of Bill 236, and did what I could to see that it was passed quickly in the House, and it was. But now we have a problem: The government is dragging its feet when it comes to introducing the regulations to the bill to allow people like Dave Coursey to move forward and transfer their pension assets.

Everyone was excited when Bill 236 was passed. They were hopeful that relief would now come to put this stressful situation behind them. Unfortunately, they aren’t feeling all that good anymore. The Liberals have not proclaimed or introduced the regulations necessary for them to move forward.

Here’s a sample of what they’ve been hearing. When Dave contacted his pension provider, here’s what they said. This is just one of many emails that were exchanged dating back to June of this year:

“Hello Mr. Coursey,

“I am writing further to your email to Dev Tandon on September 5, 2010, and our subsequent telephone conversation.

“As we disused, OMERS is aware of your situation and shares in your frustration with respect to the pace at which Bill 236 is progressing.

“As you know, although the bill is now legislation, its divestment provisions cannot be applied until they are proclaimed and regulations filed. It will not be until this process is complete that OMERS will be in a position to interpret the legislation and any resulting regulations and determine what, if any, effect it will have on divested members who wish to consolidate their benefits under one pension plan.

“We are monitoring the situation and will act quickly when there is something” to act upon.

“In response to your inquiry about potentially reaching 35 years of combined service in November 2010, I can confirm that your contributions and accrual of credited service will cease upon attainment of 35 years credited service in OMERS. However, we do not include any service that has yet to be transferred in this calculation. Therefore, if no transfer has occurred by November your contributions and accrual will continue as normal. Should your benefit become transferable from HOOPP to OMERS after November, and your combined service exceeds 35 years service, we will do all we can to accommodate the transfer while not exceeding the maximum service allowable in OMERS.

“I trust this addresses your concerns for now. I assure you that this matter is foremost on our agenda and we will announce any progress publicly as we learn of it. Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions.


“Ron Laffin

“Senior pension policy analyst, pension services

“OMERS Administration Corporation.”

Back in June of this year, Dave got similar answers and so did all of his colleagues working at the county of Simcoe. Here’s another email that he received from HOOPP:

“Dear Mr. Coursey,

“Thank you for your email dated September 5, 2010 to the healthcare of Ontario pension plan (HOOPP) regarding Bill 236.

“Recently the government of Ontario released Bill 236 amending the Ontario Pension Benefits Act. However, it is important to note that although Bill 236 received royal assent ... on May 18, 2010, the provisions contained therein do not come into force until such time as the bill is proclaimed and the associated regulations have been finalized and published. HOOPP is closely monitoring the development of the new legislation, the effective date of the changes and will announce any changes as they occur. For this reason HOOPP cannot provide any commentary on the proposed changes and the effect they will have on HOOPP until such time as the required regulations have been released.

“If you have any questions” contact us.


“Yvonne Monjo

“Client services analyst

“HOOPP-healthcare of Ontario pension plan.”

Again, this is obviously very frustrating. There’s the two major pension plans saying that they, too, are waiting for the regulations. They’re not negative in any way; they’re just saying that they have to wait until they actually see the proclaimed regulations to see if they will do what the government promised they would do, and that was to help people like Dave Coursey and paramedics.

Since I went first, of course, and introduced in 2009 my private member’s bill and resolution, I’ve received thousands of emails from not only paramedics—some firefighters, some police were caught up in this, and many MPAC employees were caught up in this, and they didn’t know it. Again, it wasn’t until they started to retire in the last couple of years that some went to their financial advisers, and many, like Dave Coursey—a very smart fellow—figured it out themselves.

I want to read for the record, because I promised I would, one of Dave Coursey’s letters to the Premier:

“My name is Dave Coursey. I have been a paramedic in Simcoe county for 36 years, the last 10 as a platoon supervisor. In 2001 when we were downloaded to the upper tiered municipality (Simcoe) I had 25 years of pensionable service with the Royal Victoria Hospital service. These years were divested. I was transferred over to OMERS as a group not as an independent from HOOPP. According to the Ontario pension act, section 80, divested pensions are not able to be transferred into another pension.

“For the last 10 years I have been advocating to have this changed. I met with Mr. Jim Wilson, MPP for Simcoe Grey. With his assistance we introduced Bill 236 in the Legislature. As I am sure you are aware the bill was passed May 5, 2010, and is now awaiting proclamation.


“The bill will change the Ontario pension act, allowing me and some 20,000 others to combine our pensions into one, thus allowing us to retire comfortably. The issue here is a large number of us are closing in, or have surpassed what would be considered the maximum contribution date. Due to this bill being held up, none of us can plan for our retirement. Most of the 20,000 are either past 30 years of combined contributory service or close to it. Until the bill, as I understand it, completes proclamation, the various pension plans are unable to act.

“Could you explain to me approximately how much longer this will take to be put into effect? I’ve been in contact with both OMERS, OPTRUST and HOOPP They are just as anxious to have this implemented so they may proceed with the necessary transactions.

“I am sure you can appreciate how frustrating it is to contribute to a plan for over 36 years and not know when you can officially retire.

“I appreciate your attention to this matter and anxiously await your reply....

“David Coursey

“D Platoon North Supervisor

“Simcoe County Paramedic Services.”

Again, the issue is fairly simple. I don’t have much confidence that the bill that this time allocation motion applies to will get any faster attention. It’s a more complicated bill than the first bill that I’m talking about, Bill 236 that the government put through. If it’s taking them this long, especially when we were assured that the regulations were ready when the bill was going through the House prior to May and then it had royal assent, and it became law in May—we were assured that the regulations were pretty much done. Clearly, we had a good meeting with the Ministry of Finance, the senior bureaucrats and people who were drafting the bill while the bill was before the House. They understood very clearly what the 20,000 paramedics and others needed from the government, and I don’t understand why it’s held up.

I have probably one of the worst responses that I have ever received. It doesn’t say anything. I got a response—after I wrote the Premier on October 14, I got a backdated letter from Mr. Duncan, the finance minister, of October 8, saying, “Sorry I’ve taken so long to respond to you.” He goes on to say—he gives me a bunch of gobbledygook and says that business regulations come out January and July of each year, so I guess that means we have to wait until January.

I don’t know if this is a business regulation; it doesn’t seem like a business regulation to me. It doesn’t cost the government any money to combine these pension plans. The money has already been paid into the separate pension plans. The pension plans are willing to combine them together to give these paramedics and others—David Coursey and people who have given public service for, as he says, 36 years in his case—what they paid for, and again, there’s no new money coming from the government.

When we debated the first bill, Bill 236, the government admitted that money will simply be transferred between the plans and consolidated so that, again, they will be able to retire comfortably and not be ripped off, because currently, through no fault of their own, we ripped them off. We didn’t mean to, and we apologize for it; we’re trying to do everything we can. I know there are a lot of Liberals across the way nodding in the affirmative. They all agree. So when we’re done with this debate today, which is in about 15 minutes, please, if you see Mr. Duncan in the next 24 hours, ask him to get the regulations to Bill 236 out and to make sure they’re done right, as he has had a lot of time, and let’s move forward. Then we can properly look at Bill 120 and perhaps have some confidence that it will do what it says it’s going to do, because it deals with defined benefit contributions and a lot of really important matters quite more complicated than Bill 236.

Again, I don’t have much confidence in Bill 120, given that Bill 236 isn’t even wrapped up and it was supposed to be done before Bill 120 was even introduced.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Kormos: Thank you kindly, Speaker, and I have but a few moments to speak to this time allocation motion. The reason I only have a few moments is that this time allocation motion is in fact time-allocated. This Liberal government has a real penchant for curtailing debate, for imposing the guillotine motion, for ensuring that the public doesn’t have access to the committee process. This government has a real penchant for doing things increasingly behind closed doors and increasingly less so in public view, never mind public participation.

Let’s understand what this—look, this bill is the government’s bill two in response to the Arthurs report. The Arthurs report is comprehensive and contains some very valuable recommendations. Unfortunately, some of the most critical recommendations, like expanding the pension benefits guarantee fund benefit to $2,500 a month maximum from $1,000—the failure of this government to respond positively to that explains why they don’t want committee hearings. The committee’s going to meet for two days, from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Let’s see, that’s two and a half hours a day here in Toronto. I’m sure they don’t want to talk to Atlas Steel workers down in Welland, who lost not only their jobs when that plant shut down but lost their pensions, and for whom the maximum now is still $1,000 a month by way of pension benefits, because those workers would say that this government has not served them well by not accepting the recommendation of Arthurs to increase the pension benefits guarantee fund coverage to $2,500 a month. Not even to $1,500 or $2,000 a month; this government is capping that benefit fund at $1,000 a month, leaving huge numbers of families down where I come from, like Atlas Steel workers and their widows, and forcing them to live on sub-poverty incomes.

I’ve never voted for a time allocation motion in all the 22 years that I’ve been here.

Mr. David Zimmer: Not when you were in government?

Mr. Peter Kormos: I’ve never voted for a time allocation motion in all the time that I’ve been here. Time allocation motions aren’t new, but they’re far more frequent than they ever have been—that I’m aware of—the time allocation motion that not only cuts off debate, but then restricts access to committees and turns third reading into a sham, because third reading, by virtue of this motion, is one hour split equally three ways. The indignity—in the midst of this debate, I get served with yet another notice of time allocation, this time on Bill 122.

This government has a serious problem. It’s got an addiction. There should be a 12-step program for people who are hooked on time allocation motions, and these 70-plus Liberal members could participate. I can see it now: “Hi, my name is David and I’m addicted to time allocation”; “Hi, my name is Monique and I’m addicted to time allocation”; “Hi, my name is Dalton and I’m addicted to time allocation.” Because you can never deal with this until you confront it.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate? Seeing none, we will deal first with Mr. Miller’s amendment to government notice of motion number 31.

Mr. Miller has moved that the motion be amended by adding to the start of the second paragraph, “That the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs be authorized to meet Monday, November 8, Tuesday, November 9, and Wednesday, November 10, 2010, for the purpose of holding public hearings in London, Ottawa and North Bay.” Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”

All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the nays have it.

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

I have received a deferral motion. The vote is deferred until tomorrow after question period.

Vote deferred.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Orders of the day?

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move adjournment of the House.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

This House stands adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, November 3. Today’s late shows are rescheduled for tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1739.