41st Parliament, 1st Session

L061 - Thu 26 Mar 2015 / Jeu 26 mar 2015



Thursday 26 March 2015 Jeudi 26 mars 2015


Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur la protection des Grands Lacs

Introduction of Visitors

Wearing of ribbons

Oral Questions

Ontario Retirement Pension Plan

Social Assistance Management System

Privatization of public assets

Education funding

Government’s agenda

By-election in Sudbury

Senior citizens

Health care funding

Social assistance

Sexual violence and harassment


LGBT conversion therapy

Hydro rates

Air ambulance service

Natural gas extraction


Introduction of Visitors

Members’ Statements

Hospital funding

Book publishing industry



London Youth Advisory Council


Kawartha Downs

Fort York Food Bank

Cuisine in western Mississauga

Private members’ public business

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on Public Accounts


Committee sittings

Order of business

Private members’ public business

Statements by the Ministry and Responses

La Francophonie

Ontario Volunteer Service Awards

La Francophonie

Ontario Volunteer Service Awards

Ontario Volunteer Service Awards

La Francophonie



Hospital funding

Student safety

Diagnostic services

Legal aid

Health care

Gasoline prices

Water fluoridation


Home care

Water fluoridation


Private Members’ Public Business

Terry Fox Day Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur le Jour de Terry Fox

Transparent and Accountable Health Care Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur le financement transparent et responsable des soins de santé

Natural Gas Superhighway Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur l’autoroute du gaz naturel

Terry Fox Day Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur le Jour de Terry Fox

Transparent and Accountable Health Care Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur le financement transparent et responsable des soins de santé

Natural Gas Superhighway Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur l’autoroute du gaz naturel

Orders of the Day

Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur l’abandon du charbon pour un air plus propre

The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Good morning. Please join me in prayer.



Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur la protection des Grands Lacs

Mr. Murray moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 66, An Act to protect and restore the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin / Projet de loi 66, Loi visant la protection et le rétablissement du bassin des Grands Lacs et du fleuve Saint-Laurent.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’m pleased to bring forward second reading of Bill 66, the new proposed Great Lakes Protection Act. I will be sharing my time with my parliamentary assistant, the member from Mississauga–Brampton South, and I want to start by thanking her for her leadership and her hard work on this file. Mr. Speaker, you may know that the member is also a teacher and an educator—quite well respected in that profession—and a big part of this piece of legislation is education and engagement. So we have benefited greatly by her expertise in that area and by her particular concern for young people, because this is really a legacy project for our children.

This has been a work of some considerable effort. It is a rather unique piece of legislation, because this is not a piece of legislation focused just on enabling the government of Ontario, on behalf of the people of Ontario, to protect the Great Lakes and their watershed. It is actually a piece of legislation that will enable a whole array of civil society and community organizations.

This is something that municipal governments on the Great Lakes have been wanting for a long time. It enables their efforts to develop tourism and protect water quality. It works with both our source water protection committees and our conservation authorities, which play critical roles in protecting the watershed and our source water supply. We are very aware of that, after events like Gogama. Whether it’s tanker cars that are leaking or catching on fire, whether it’s the problems we saw with blue-green algae in Lake Erie last summer that actually shut down the water system in the city of Toledo, Ohio, for several days—even boiling water does not get that out—we know that for municipal governments and for municipal utilities, and for our source water protection groups and our conservation authorities, this is a critically important issue.

It’s also important to farmers. I know the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Education, and the members for Newmarket–Aurora and Durham and I were with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, listening, just moments ago, enjoying a great breakfast with them and getting back in touch with a very important community of folks and a very important part of our economy, Mr. Speaker.

The OFA raised four issues with us. I’m happy to say two of them were environmental issues, but one of the issues that they raised was the Great Lakes Protection Act. Mr. McCabe, the president of the OFA, talked quite eloquently about the incredible responsibilities that farmers feel towards protecting the lake, and the decisions and complexity that adds to farm managers to both be good stewards of their land, to provide a secure, nutritious, healthful supply of food to all of us—which we often, sadly, take for granted these days, many of us who are city folk—and also the importance of exports. But he spent a long time talking about the importance of our water, our water supply, the quality of lake water, how interdependent farmers are for clean drinking water, why they need clean water and their role in protecting it. So this will bring our farmers, our farm communities, and agricultural and producer organizations into the discussion about it.

One of the things we’re also very proud of is that this was worked on very well with First Nations communities. We are in the traditional lands of many First Nations. The council of Ontario chiefs and others have recently put out a series of papers on the role of First Nations and water stewardship. We worked very closely with them to ensure that, in our bilateral agreements with the federal government around the Great Lakes and in this legislation, we well recognize the millennia of great leadership and stewardship by First Nations and we build that role of traditional knowledge about our lakes—folks who have been observing our lakes and using our lakes and protecting our lakes for generations, Mr. Speaker.

I want to take a moment—because I know my parliamentary assistant is going to talk a lot about what’s in the act, I’m not going to go into that at great length. This is really her role, and the member will be stewarding this, thankfully, through the committee process. And we look forward to her engagement with her colleagues in the House as this goes through committee. I’m going to ask all members to please work very closely with the member from Brampton-Springdale-Mississauga South in that effort. We have—


Hon. Glen R. Murray: Did I screw it up? No it’s not okay.

Mr. John Yakabuski: What? What was that?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Pardon me? I think I got the member’s constituency wrong.

Hon. Liz Sandals: Mississauga–Brampton South.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mississauga–Brampton South. My apologies.

Hon. Liz Sandals: You said “Springdale” where you should have said “South.” You got two out of three.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I got two out of three, says the Minister of Education. I think two out of three, if I remember, is a C grade.

Hon. Michael Chan: Passing grade: 66%. You’re still okay.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: That was usually a week’s grounding if I came home with Cs on my report card.

Hon. Michael Chan: B minus; how about that?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: B minus. The member from Markham has just given me a lift.

So what are some of the challenges that we’re trying to deal with? We’re trying to deal with invasive species. That includes everything from zebra mussels, which have dramatically changed the character of the lake. The turbidity that was in our waters, the cloudiness, is gone, which, if you’re a diver like me, might be an exciting thing, but it’s not a great thing for the lake and it has changed the character of the waters. Asian carp are at the gate of our lakes, and that’s a critical, critical issue. We have grasses growing on our beaches that are destroying the biodiversity and natural habitats of our beaches, which are critical to our pollinators, and diminishing the enjoyment that Ontarians have of the Great Lakes waterfront. I know that my critic, the member for Huron–Bruce—

Mr. John Yakabuski: You got that right.


Hon. Glen R. Murray: I got that one right.

The member for Huron–Bruce has raised the issue about the invasive species that are affecting the grasses and that, and I credit her for it. This is one of those non-partisan issues that I think—I hope—we can work on, because invasive species, whether they’re fauna or flora, are very, very challenging for us. We, as Ontarians, share—hopefully, we can be Ontarians before we’re partisans more often than not. This is something that I think all members of this House would like to see as a legacy, and this is a good vehicle, after it’s passed, for MPPs, local mayors, community leaders and businesses. This is important to our outfitters, to tourism, to fishing guides, to hunting, to our anglers. This is important to a whole bunch of urban, rural and suburban folk who have the great privilege of living on the most beautiful and largest freshwater supply in the world.

We’re also affected by carbon dioxide emissions. We often talk about them in terms of climate change, but there is a less talked about but, I think many people would say, equally challenging problem with the high level of carbon dioxide emissions that this government—we hope with the co-operation of the parties opposite—is trying to bring down. We’re very proud, as a government, that we are 6% under our 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels. We just met, and hopefully will exceed, our 2014 targets and are now working very hard with new initiatives to get to our 2015 targets.

One of the reasons that we’re bringing carbon dioxide down, and why that links to the Great Lakes Protection Act, and why this act is so important in that family of legislation—our Invasive Species Act, the Great Lakes Protection Act and the work we’ve done on climate change and green energy—is because carbon dioxide is being absorbed into our lakes and oceans, and it’s causing acidification.

There’s something that we don’t see but will certainly notice when they’re gone—they’re little creatures called daphnia. They’re a phytoplankton. You don’t often think of creatures that small as crustaceans—as having shells—but they do. Daphnia are the very foundation—if you’re an angler or a fisher or an outfitter, you’ll know a lot about these things, because these creatures are the very basis of the food chain for all of our fish populations in all of our Great Lakes. We know that we have a crisis there—a rather invisible one unless you have a microscope—because these little crustaceans can no longer form their shells. We’re already at a point where the level of acidification in the Great Lakes is interfering with—is reducing—the ability of the very base of the food supply for all the higher-order species. They’re also being impacted by microscopic invasive species of different types that do not provide the nutrition or the stable food supply.

This act requires us to better measure and record water conditions. I’ll be working very closely with our parliamentary assistants and with the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, our sister ministry which is responsible for the creatures in the lake. I am responsible for water, soil and air. Bad weather: You can blame that on me, I guess.

Hon. Ted McMeekin: It’s all your fault.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: It’s all my fault, says the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, who is close to godliness and has a ministry above all of this clutter and clatter.

But for those of us who toil in these more base ministries, Mr. Speaker, we have to deal with these things. The Minister of Natural Resources is working very closely with us, and we will soon have a much clearer picture of the conditions of these micro-organisms, and we will be able to work much more effectively at intervening in the acidification of our lakes.

Then we have climate change—we talked a little bit about blue-green algae and about the horrible experiences we’ve had in Burlington. Burlington, we all know, is a pretty modern suburban community, right next door to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. He would be one of the first people, as would Minister Duguid, the Minister of Infrastructure, who would tell you that we have some problems with our stormwater sewer system. We listened to engineers, and for the last 200 years, we have built our stormwater sewer systems to hundred-year flood events. Well, we’ve had two hundred-year flood events in Burlington in the last two years. They’re now annual events. They’ve done everything from overwhelming our stormwater system to causing mass flooding in people’s basements, causing huge costs to working Ontario families who live in those communities. We’ve now lost our operating rooms twice at the Burlington hospital, a brand new hospital. That’s not the kind of place that people want to see their tax dollars going: replacing operating rooms, having to pay exorbitant insurance rates and risking not being able to be insured.

We know that part of what we’ll do with Great Lakes protection is to start working with municipalities; we’ll be working with my colleague and dear friend Ted McMeekin, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and my friend Brad Duguid, the Minister of Infrastructure, and members opposite who represent those communities, as well. This has to be a Team Ontario approach to our lakes, because no one ministry and none of us on our own can solve these problems.

We need to figure out ways to start dealing with infrastructure that is climate-change-resilient, that’s flood-resilient. We need to look at the issues of stormwater, whether it’s the water running off our streets that is causing nutrients and pollution in our lake or whether it’s these very abrupt rain events that are now happening to farmers, whose farm practices for 100 or 200 years have been more than sufficient to keep those nutrients out of our lakes, where the change in rain patterns is now meaning even previously very, very viable farm practices that kept nutrients out of lakes are no longer working; we need to work with our farm community and municipalities, whether it’s an urban system or a rural system, to keep those nutrients out.

Most of Canada’s industry, I think about 70% of our industrial production, is along the Great Lakes right now, Mr. Speaker, so working with the industrial producers, making sure that they have economically viable businesses—but that they’re ones that live in harmony with our lakes and contribute to the net health.

We’re also losing a lot of our farmland in this area. We have all kinds of compounding problems that make lake management so difficult.

We have more substances out there than we ever had before going into our lakes—pharmaceuticals. I remember when I was chairing the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, a woman well known to our friends in the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, a former federal member, Pauline Browes, who many of you will remember was a federal MP from Scarborough, a dear friend of mine—a little politically misguided, but still a dear friend. I say that only humorously. Pauline and I worked very closely together in Ottawa on trying to keep pharmaceuticals out of our lakes and out of our toilets; the kinds of things that we do with hamsters, goldfish, and pharmaceuticals are not good things to do. Please don’t flush them down the toilet, because we now have levels of pharmaceuticals that were never intended and are having some very severe consequences on fish populations and amphibians and on the health of many species which we eat. We don’t need to be taking medication when we have fish from our lakes as a by-product of that.

All of these issues are being addressed in the Great Lakes Protection Act. We are measuring, we are identifying, a host of problems—we’re doing that.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, Premier Wynne and Premier Couillard have worked very closely. I worked with my colleague the Minister of the Environment from Quebec. We spent two days together during the March break. We spent a lot of time talking about the St. Lawrence River. I’m very happy to report to the House that the government of Quebec will be working with us with complementary legislation. So Quebec is now—


Hon. Glen R. Murray: They have some additional problems, because a part of the issue of climate change is that Quebec City, as you know, the capital of our sister province to the east, is very close to the ocean. What’s happening is that the saltwater/freshwater line is moving back inland, which is compromising Quebec’s water supply. They have a big challenge now with the changing climate and the changing nature of where fresh water begins and ends. So flows on the St. Lawrence River are very, very important to our sister province in the federation, and we’re very happy to have Quebec as an ally and a collaborator on looking at the entire ecosystem of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River watersheds. I think it’s a great step forward for the protection of biodiversity that we are able to work as two federalists governments committed to seeing the benefits to the environment and to our quality of life on that issue.

I want to take a little time and just thank people. In the aftermath of Walkerton, one of the initiatives that came out was source water protection. If you’re a member just about anywhere in this province—there’s only a few parts in the north—I would highly recommend that whatever party you’re in, you meet with your source water protection folks. I think we’re now at about 14 of 21 source water protection plans approved. This is an amazing process. These are farmers, businesspeople, community activists, there are local mayors. These have been much more complex plans than we expected them to be.


It’s interesting—we were talking about Gogama the other day, and I know many members in all parties who represent that area. Do you know that we did not have anything for oil spills or rails in the source water protection plan? And when we started doing that, we went down the road and—you know, you trust local knowledge here and you think all of us know our communities really well. I think one of the things I like about the source water protection—but we’re now going back to some of those plans in partnership with those communities and now assessing rail risk to water supplies. Because when that ice melts, we’re going to have to be out there quite aggressively looking at the fresh water and the freshwater supplies.

The member for Huron–Bruce points out, as I said earlier, when we talked about invasive species, many of these things can have significant impacts on our water supply. I think it’s good when we downplay the partisanship in here on these things that we share a passion on and tap the local knowledge of members of Parliament who bring forward ideas.

I’m looking forward to working both with the member from Huron–Bruce and the member for Toronto–Danforth, who is my critic in the third party and who I also want to compliment as well, because Mr. Tabuns, the member from Toronto–Danforth, has a long and very well-respected record as an environmental activist. I know the member for Huron–Bruce has deep roots in the farm community and in the concerns of rural communities, and she has already been outspoken, and very credibly so, on these issues.

I’m hoping that the three of us can work with my parliamentary assistant, again, the member from Mississauga–Brampton South—I don’t want to mess that up—on this issue. I’m actually very blessed, Mr. Speaker: I only have one grandchild but have I two parliamentary assistants, who are like my family. They seem to like me a lot better than my kids and my grandkid.

The member from Sudbury, as well, is particularly interested in this. Sudbury has had issues with their water supply, with blue-green algae. Fortunately, it didn’t go toxic. I know, from having the benefit of having a team of the three of us at the ministry, I get some pretty interesting perspectives from both suburban and northern and rural Ontario on that, and I think you’ll see, as this bill goes forward, that thoughtfulness brought to bear.

I’m going to try and leave—are you okay if you have 40 minutes? Can you do 40 minutes?


Hon. Glen R. Murray: You can do anything. You’re a teacher. I’m going to wrap up in a minute, Speaker.

I just want to say, I want to thank all of the Ontarians—rural, urban, suburban, from all walks of life—who took a lead in this. I want to thank ministers past, Minister Wilkinson, Minister Gerretsen, Minister Bradley—all who had a hand in this.

I’m hoping this is three times the charm. This is the third time we have discussed this bill. I think a lot of people who have put so much time into this over the years outside of government, who were volunteers and who see their fingerprints on this bill and rightly lay claim to its authorship, would be quite happy and I think would feel that their time was respected and their energy was respected if we could pass this bill.

Again, I want to thank the member for Huron–Bruce in advance, I’m looking forward to her comments, and the member for Toronto–Danforth. I think this is a great piece of legislation that many people in all our communities worked on, friends of ours, so that we can get this through and we can make it a better bill through the committee process. I look forward to the end.

I will now turn it over to that most remarkable of teachers, my parliamentary assistant. Thank you and God bless.

Mrs. Amrit Mangat: It’s an honour to join Mr. Murray in supporting the government’s proposed Great Lakes Protection Act. Mr. Murray is working very hard, day in and day out—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I would just like to remind the member we refer to titles and not names.

Mrs. Amrit Mangat: Okay. My minister, the Minister of the Environment, is working very hard, day in, day out, so that he can leave a legacy of clean air and clean water for generations to come.

As we all know, the Great Lakes are an essential part of our heritage. They’re also indispensable to our future. As the Minister of the Environment said in his statement, this is a unique piece of legislation. Yes, this is a unique piece of legislation. The question arises, why is this unique and important piece of legislation necessary?

The Great Lakes are truly a global treasure. More than 13 million people in the province of Ontario rely on the Great Lakes in one way or another, for such things as drinking water, food, electricity, employment and enjoyment. Healthy Great Lakes are vital to the success of our province. In fact, the Great Lakes regional economy is the fourth-largest in the world.

The Great Lakes contain 20% of the world’s fresh surface water and contribute billions of dollars every year to our economy through agriculture, shipping, clean hydro power, fisheries and tourism, to name a few. Fortunately, this government has made water protection and the protection of our aquatic ecosystems a top priority.

As we heard from our minister, the proposed act, if passed, would help to ensure our Great Lakes are restored, protected and made more resilient to the effects of climate change here in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, the memories of the December 2013 ice storm are still fresh in our minds, when thick ice knocked down trees and electricity cables and made our roads impassable. People were without electricity and without food for days and days. This is how climate change is impacting our lives.

We have seen it this past winter. I have heard people saying in the greater Toronto area that they have never seen that cold a winter, with minus 30, minus 37, minus 40 degrees consecutively for two months. This is all as a result of climate change.

We can see the impact of climate change in Ontario even today, as severe weather phenomena become more common, such as heavy downpours, which are now twice as common as they were a century ago. Rainfall and snowfall events are more extreme. Flooding and droughts are more common.

The proposed act also builds on actions we are taking to reduce harmful algal blooms, promote environmental stewardship and help local communities and partners to take action.

Ontario, as an ecosystem—a system that includes its people—is dominated by the Great Lakes and the rivers and water systems that feed them. The proposed Great Lakes Protection Act is an important piece of legislation that will focus solely on our largest source of fresh water and home to thousands of fish and wildlife species.

The Minister of the Environment outlined the challenges and pressures facing the Great Lakes and the types of problems we need to address. We work with many dedicated partners across the province who have told us how important this proposed act would be for the health of our Great Lakes. These partners have important environmental concerns, such as protecting valuable wetlands around the lakes and restoring natural shorelines.

But they also recognize that a healthy economy requires a healthy environment. Without the Great Lakes, Ontario simply would not be the great province that it is today. Almost 75% of Canada’s manufacturing, along with 80% of Ontario’s power generation and 95% of our agricultural lands, depends on the Great Lakes. Throughout Ontario, and in my own community of Mississauga–Brampton South, a centre of manufacturing and population growth, the importance of this essential relationship may not be widely enough understood.


This government intends to work with all of our Great Lakes partners when it comes to doing what needs to be done. One important feature of the proposed act is the formation of the Great Lakes Guardians’ Council. It would be a forum for collaboration and co-operation, and a place for sharing knowledge and resources. The council’s members would include provincial ministers that have responsibilities related to the Great Lakes. It would also include, as our minister said, municipal representatives and partners from First Nations and Métis communities. Other invited contributors would include partners from environmental groups, industry, farmers, recreation and tourism, and the science community.

This sort of collaboration would allow the Ontario government or other public bodies, such as municipalities or conservation authorities, to develop and implement a plan to address priority issues in a specific location.

The council is also empowered by the proposed legislation to discuss targets and developing local and/or regional initiatives to support the people who want to restore and protect their corner of the Great Lakes.

The council could have input into implementing inter-jurisdictional agreements seeking to protect the lakes, such as the recently signed Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement that was strengthened in 2012 by the governments of Canada and the US. In amending the agreement, Canada and the US addressed the spread of invasive species and the loss of habitat and indigenous species within the Great Lakes.

Both of these new agreements outline commitments for considering climate change impacts on the Great Lakes, which is also a very real and important aspect of Bill 66. Commitments that Ontario made under the new Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health will support provincial Great Lakes goals and targets, and Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy.

The proposed act would advance the implementation of existing agreements, enable the province to take action quickly in acute situations, and focus on preventing conditions in the Great Lakes from deteriorating.

In addition, the proposed act requires the regular review, reporting on and maintenance of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy. The strategy is the road map that sets out our vision, goals and priorities to help restore, protect and conserve the Great Lakes. The strategy focuses government resources across ministries, and benefits from the ideas and advice of other government and non-government partners.

Regular reviews of the strategy, as this act would require, would allow us to respond to emerging issues and new science and establish new milestones on our way to restoring and protecting the Great Lakes.

Good science, research and monitoring partnerships will also help support the Great Lakes work by providing the knowledge and data to help identify issues, set priorities, establish Great Lakes targets, and guide effective restoration and protection initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of the Environment said, First Nations and Métis communities that have a historic relationship with the Great Lakes may wish to contribute traditional ecological knowledge for the purposes of assisting in actions done under this proposed act. It’s very, very important that we must take action—if we don’t take action now, then when?

We want all Ontarians to renew their own connection to our Great Lakes. Together, we can help to ensure clean, healthy and resilient Great Lakes.

In closing, I would encourage all members of this House to support the vision of healthy Great Lakes for a stronger Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I’m pleased to rise today to share comments on the opening comments on Bill 66. Thank you, Minister, for your comments, and to the PA; I appreciate it.

One thing that stuck with me, that I feel I have to reflect upon, is how the minister talked of the importance of trying to work together and downplay partisanship. He may not even know this happened, but I feel I need this opportunity to demonstrate it—and I really hope he encourages his partners, in terms of his PAs, as well as his staff, to walk that talk as well—because on March 11 there was a Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence given in my riding, in the town where my constituency office is. The award was given to Murray and Wilma Scott. Their farm, literally, is two concessions south of where I grew up. I grew up knowing the Scott family very well; I hung out with their twin daughters; Murray served on the council my mom was clerk-treasurer-administrator for, for 35 years. I was really, really disappointed that I did not know about the award, nor did I receive an invitation to be there when it was somebody from home. Murray was my 4-H Calf Club leader for the entire time I was involved in 4-H. I found it very, very disappointing.

I would just like to use this moment to share with the minister that I do want to work together on this, but I need to see it going both ways. The environment is very, very important. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to what Wilma and Murray were recognized for. It’s an amazing initiative—a farmer initiative—whereby they built berms, they developed a new channel, a new wetlands, on their farm. It’s just indicative of how Ontario farmers across this province are good environmental stewards, and they want to do right.

I thank you for this opportunity to share this message.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’m pleased to add some comments to the debate and to second reading of Bill 66. I listened intently to the minister; I hope he could tell that I was interested in what he was saying and appreciated some of his comments. He hit on the more pressing, poignant issues that I think our communities around the Great Lakes basin face, particularly around invasive species.

Minister, Bythotrephes longimanus, the spiny water flea, is invading, certainly, our Great Lakes, but it is a real problem for commercial and sport fishing in Lake Erie. It’s something we definitely have to do.

We support the intent of the bill; it is an incarnation of a previous bill. We see it as setting some—it’s enabling legislation, but it sets targets. It’s a plan to set a plan, which is not necessarily a plan, but not something we can necessarily disagree with, but we would like to see some hard targets. We’d like to see some initiatives that, I think, the state of Ohio has even recently taken to address algal blooms. We know that they’ve suffered—and the minister referenced Toledo, Ohio, where my brother lives, where there was a period of time where they couldn’t drink their water in the municipal system in Toledo, last year, I believe. The Republican-led chamber, the Ohio Senate, and I believe the House has just passed a bill, Bill 1, from the Senate, which will prohibit farms from fertilizing fields when fields are frozen or saturated or if weather calls for rain. This is something that’s really proactive, something that they’re addressing head-on.


My hope is that this legislation gives the ministry and the minister the ability to set those types of regulations into force and to address those issues head-on. We certainly do need to study them but we most definitely need action on the most pressing issues.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: On the way in this morning, there was an old Elvis song on the radio. It kind of caught my attention. I was thinking of the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change as well as my old friend Elvis. Elvis famously said, “You don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it. You gave me all your love, but I abused it. And now I’m sorry for the things I didn’t say”—and you could add “or do”—to protect the Great Lakes, the greatest freshwater system in the world.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Where’s Elvis when we need him?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: That’s right. He’d be 84 now if he were still out there somewhere.

We have about one fifth of the entire world’s freshwater supply. It has the potential to continue to be clean and beautiful and bountiful and fresh and drinkable. It continues to have the potential to be the key ingredient, the key puzzle piece, to strategic, keen and green economic growth. We don’t want to lose that or abuse it. We want to respect it and nurture it and make sure that we do everything we can do to protect it.

The United Nations, about two weeks ago, came out with a report which talked about the water shortage worldwide. About one fifth of the world right now does not have adequate access to potable, drinkable, water. The UN predicts that, within 20 years, that will be half the world and that the world will be going literally to war over water. I’ve spent time in the Middle East; I know how that has worked out historically there. So we need to take care of it.

This act is a great step, and I support it. I hope all members of the Legislative Assembly in their cumulative wisdom will—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you. Question and comments?

Mrs. Gila Martow: I’m very happy to rise today to speak on this very important bill. It’s funny, because as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing just said, I was thinking, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” and he said something very similar.

Last week I was over in Taiwan. We really don’t appreciate, I think, what we have here. We live in probably the best country in the world in terms of freshwater supply, in terms of available land, even in terms of clean air—it was quite smoggy over there near China—and in terms of natural resources: minerals, natural gas, and oil.

I hope that we’re not going to be going to war over water, but maybe we have to consider that when we’re training our troops: what could be lying ahead in terms of not just fighting overseas but also protecting what we have on our own land. We need to protect it by keeping the water clean, and we need to protect it in terms of not being attacked for our water supply in future generations.

I love to go up to lakes. I think that a lot of people from Toronto like to spend time on our many lakes. My dad is up just north of Peterborough. I don’t recall as a kid having to put on water shoes to protect our feet from zebra mussels, but soon after he moved in, we learned, about 15 years ago, that you do have to wear water shoes because of the zebra mussels on all the rocks. They’re nasty little creatures. But when the carp, I believe it was, were killed because of a bacterial infection in the lakes, we noticed that the zebra mussels were gone. I think that that really teaches us a little bit about the cycle and that everything we do affects so many other things. That’s what we have to be cognizant of.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): We now have two minutes for the minister’s response.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Thank you very much. I just want to address a couple of issues.

I was concerned about some of the comments by my friend from Huron–Bruce. I apologize. We invite all MPPs—we had a reception here for those. The Scott family wasn’t able to come for the reception. There were MPPs there, and they usually wait until the folks confirm. I didn’t realize that was the ministry policy. I don’t think it makes sense, so my apologies, and we’ll change that.

But we should find a proper place and time to present it formally to Wilma and Murray—great folks—and I would love to do that with you. I wasn’t even aware of it until after, so that’s a bureaucratic process which you and I can change, because I share your concern. It certainly was not a partisan slight.

To my friend from Windsor-Essex: Thank you very much. We share that concern. I think the Ohio legislation is very complementary. We’re enabling some of it in our structure, through municipalities, because our things are a little different. We’re enabling that, and I think we can work to get that.

To my favourite Elvis fan, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: Thank you very much for that wonderful display of support for the bill.

To my parliamentary assistant: As always, thanks very much.

That gives me about 52 seconds.

I just want to be clear: I don’t want to leave people with the impression that we were co-drafting legislation with Quebec. That’s not actually what we’re doing. We actually worked with Quebec on the input. We’ve been reviewing it, and we’re working on our implementation plans with them down the St. Lawrence River.

I just got one of those panic notes you get from political staff sometimes, saying, “Minister, I hope you didn’t mean to say something you didn’t mean to say.” We all have political staff who start conversations by saying things like, “What the minister meant to say was,” so I will correct my record right there, Mr. Speaker.

This is a very exciting opportunity. My friend from Windsor-Essex talked about the things that we’re doing now with microbeads, which is something that has now caught the imagination of both our parties.

I think there’s a huge opportunity to advance, because I don’t think this is the last word in Great Lakes protection. I think this is the beginning of what will hopefully be many efforts in the future.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I’m happy to have the opportunity to address the House today with regard to Bill 6, Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015.

I just want to revisit the purpose of Bill 66, which is:

“(a) to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin; and

“(b) to create opportunities for individuals and communities to become involved in the protection and restoration of the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin.”

I’m curious to know, Speaker, in this House, how many members know the total number of ridings that are affected by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Forty.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: It’s all but four. Yes, the member from Essex is very, very close—no, you said 40. All but four ridings are affected by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin, so it should be of interest to us all in this House.

Before I get started, I thought it was very timely that in Better Farming magazine, March 2015, there’s a significant article: “An Ontario Phosphorus Reduction Strategy”—“Farm organizations seek a ‘farmer-driven, science-based blueprint.’”

I want to share the call-out at the start of this article, because it puts everything in perspective.

I might say, just before I share the call-out, Speaker, that a number of conservation and environmental initiatives mentioned in this article actually come from my great riding of Huron–Bruce.

The call-out reads as such: “With the Ontario government just beginning to develop its approach and many questions unanswered, regulation is the elephant in the room for the farming community. If it comes, says one farmer, ’it had better be based on good science.’”

Speaker, that’s what I really want to lay down as the premise of my one-hour leadoff. Ideology does not lead to good policy. We have to make sure that what we’re doing is not redundant and what we’re doing is feasible, workable and embraced by the community.

With that, I would like to continue on with some very specific comments.

It goes without saying that the PC Party of Ontario is supportive of improving and protecting the environment and our Great Lakes ecosystems. Bill 66 has raised some serious questions with regard to the duplication of governance, the absence of funding, the passing reference to consideration of economic or social impacts, the appointment of guardians’ councils with the power to set fees and the potential for further erosion in the power of local planning authorities.


The protection of our province’s natural heritage is important to all Ontarians, and the Great Lakes are an integral economic driver for tourism, transportation, agriculture and fishing industries. They provide fresh water for communities, recreational opportunities and habitat for wildlife.

For many lakeshore communities, like I have in my riding of Huron–Bruce, the Great Lakes are also an important part of their historical and cultural heritage. Protecting the health and vibrancy of the Great Lakes is essential for stimulating economic development, providing jobs and ensuring continued prosperity for lakeshore communities. It is our duty, Speaker, to restore and preserve these resources for the enjoyment and benefit of future generations.

As I said earlier, my riding of Huron–Bruce is blessed to border the shoreline of Lake Huron, and the lake plays a crucial role in the day-to-day life of residents. The shoreline communities are a beehive of activity during the warmer months, and they take a great deal of pride—people who live on the shoreline, that is—in welcoming visitors to their beaches and establishments.

Local municipal councils are keenly aware of their responsibility to be good stewards of the environment, as local residents are proactive in protecting and enhancing the beaches, harbours and lakeshore region.

Generations of Ontarians—and I’m sure everyone sitting in the House today can appreciate or know of or have enjoyed growing up spending vacation time on the shores—


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Can I ask those who are having conversations to kind of lower the tone?

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I appreciate that, Speaker

What I want to say is that Ontarians across this province know people or have experienced growing up spending vacation time themselves on the shores of our Great Lakes. I imagine many people here today, as I said, have fond memories.

I, myself, have been very, very fortunate that when we went to the beach, we went to Bruce Beach. It’s just south of Kincardine. My aunt and uncle always welcomed all of us in my family to use their beach in front of their cottage.

There’s so much history. There are so many connections and families that come together in the spirit of their beach community. Everyone—the farmers—the farmland leading into the shoreline—the towns and, as I said, municipal councils—they all want to work together to do what’s right to protect our Great Lakes, because not only do they have natural beauty, but there are fish habitats and the tourism industry.

When I talk about fish habitats—if I can find it quickly—I just want to note that there are so many initiatives in my riding to protect what we’ve come to enjoy in our Great Lakes. Just this past Saturday, I attended a ceremony hosted by the Kincardine and District Chamber of Commerce. They gave out their 2015 Community Achievement Awards. In the environmental category, which was presented to a “business, organization or individual that is guided by a sense of responsibility and respect for the environment, which manifests it through initiatives designed to preserve, conserve or improve the local environment,” I’m really pleased to say that the Kincardine Fish Hatchery was the recipient of the award this year.

I share that with you, because one of the things that Lake Huron offers to so many people is wonderful fishing. This past year, I participated in the local chinook chantry. While I caught trout, a colleague of mine from the area caught a beautiful 12-pound chinook. I can tell the difference now between a chinook and a coho. It was a very good day and time well spent.

Fish habitats: Our local communities are working so hard to ensure that people have fishing to enjoy on our Great Lakes. We have to do and be cognizant of so much in order to maintain the health of our lakeshores and our ecological systems in the waters.

I just want to lay it down right now and get the elephant out of the room: Protecting our Great Lakes, especially given the documentary that was debuted on TVO last night called Big Wind—we have to agree in this House today that part of protecting the Great Lakes should include not putting industrial wind turbines in the water.

Mr. Bob Delaney: I knew that was coming.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Well, it has to be. If we’re dedicated to protecting our Great Lakes, we have to keep the industrial wind turbines out of them. We don’t know. We don’t have the local freshwater science to substantiate the pros and cons, so let’s just stay away from it, especially when, here in Ontario, we don’t need any energy, as we continue to pay jurisdictions to take our surplus off our hands. With that said and parked—and it was an important message to say—we cannot have industrial wind turbines in our water. The Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Innovation certainly would echo that, as he did ahead of the 2011 election. I’m sure, as all three caucuses in this House, we will agree to maintain that promise to protect our Great Lakes.

In saying that, there are other challenges to our Great Lakes, just not the threat of industrial wind turbines. Other challenges facing the Great Lakes that are crucial to be identified and addressed are the direct resources to front-line programs to address problems, such as algal blooms; invasive species like Asian carp and phragmites; agricultural runoff; chemical contamination; and sewage overflows. Targets and remedial measures must be based on expert science advice.

The government should work with the First Nations and Métis communities, to understand their perspective and how traditional ecological knowledge can help identify and address challenges. I appreciate the fact that the minister actually said earlier today that it is a priority to engage with First Nations and Métis, and I thank him for that.

I would also like to revisit the Premier’s opening statement at ROMA about the value of a provincial government applying a rural lens on its decision-making, and challenges created when the lens is overlooked.

Speaker, I want to share with you that the rural lens is very important, and I’ll be addressing it later in my comments, and I’m thrilled that ROMA has adopted the rural lens. A driver behind the rural lens is a professor from the University of Guelph, Wayne Caldwell. He was a planner at the county of Huron as well, so he has vast experience in understanding the impact of legislation on rural communities and urban communities.

I hope the Premier stands tall to her commitment that the rural lens is very important, because during her speech at ROMA, the Premier acknowledged that the success of Ontario’s agri-food sector and that of the province are inseparable, and that reducing regulation needs to be an ongoing effort. I’ll repeat that: The Premier, during ROMA, said specifically that the success of Ontario’s agri-food sector and that of the province are inseparable, and that reducing regulation needs to be an ongoing effort.

That’s where I raise a flag, Speaker, because I’m not sure whether Bill 66 will do that. Bill 66 has raised concerns with Ontario agricultural stakeholders, much like I said, in the March issue of Better Farming. It’s the front cover story.

Hon. Jeff Leal: Great stories.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: There are great stories in there. That’s right, Minister.

We’re concerned that Bill 66 could conflict with or override other legislation that farmers must work under, like the Nutrient Management Act, the Clean Water Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act, and the Environmental Protection Act, as well as local municipal bylaws.

Ontario farmers have played a significant role in environmental stewardship programs since 2005, and agricultural leaders are calling for the government to ensure that Bill 66 does not result in potential conflicts, leading to confusion, delay and more restrictive regulations governing agricultural operating practices.

I heard that very same concern expressed just this past week at the AGM for Grain Farmers of Ontario, but we’ll touch on that a little bit later.

Agriculture is a major economic driver, not only in my riding of Huron–Bruce but right across this province. As Bill 66 has the power to supersede nutrient management and other legislation pertaining to agriculture, we need to proceed carefully and work with stakeholders to balance environmental concerns with economic ones.

One nutrient that has a significant impact on the health of the Great Lakes is phosphorus. We all know that. Some areas of the Great Lakes have more phosphorus than they should, and intervention is indeed required to reduce phosphorus to more appropriate levels. Excessive levels of phosphorus contribute, as you may guess, to algal growth and certain types of blue-green algae, and other species may produce toxins that are harmful to both humans and wildlife. We all want to do our part in correcting this, and ongoing efforts to upgrade municipal waste water treatment plants and limit phosphorus levels have been successful in reducing phosphorus levels, particularly in Lakes Ontario and Huron.


The Nutrient Management Act has done a good job of dealing with phosphorus coming from farms, but we also need to recognize that a considerable portion of the pollution originates in the United States. I ask the minister this: Can the Liberal government realistically set targets for transboundary pollution issues? We know where the greatest source of phosphorus is coming from in Lake Erie. So I repeat that question: Can the Liberal government realistically set targets for transboundary pollution issues?

A retired forester and MNR employee recently contacted my office with some excellent suggestions on environmental stewardship, and I feel it would be worthwhile to share them with you today. He advised that the government should continue to work with the agricultural sector to address erosion and runoff by encouraging practices like Murray and Wilma Scott have embraced, like grassed waterways, buffer strips of grass and trees, plowdown crops, contour plowing, restricting livestock access to water and reduced tillage.

Speaker, again I suggest to you that we are very, very fortunate that a lot of these initiatives have been voluntarily embraced because farmers above all else want to be good stewards of our land.

This former employee of MNR also recommended protecting wetlands, which filter water and contribute to improved water quality. He pointed out that forests are only protected if they are provincially significant areas of natural and scientific interest, although the province allows municipalities to designate forest as significant for planning purposes. He identified toxic sewage sludge, which is removed from waste water and spread on agricultural lands, as a source of Great Lakes pollution that should be addressed as well.

Here in this House, as legislators, we have discussed the threat aquatic invasive species pose to biodiversity in the Great Lakes. My colleague from Haldimand–Norfolk has warned us of the damage that Asian carp could do if allowed to enter the waterways. We’ve also described, on both sides of the House and including the third party, how phragmites are spreading along the shoreline and choking out wetlands.

He also pointed out—my colleague from Haldimand, that is—that these invasive species have not only posed an ecological threat, they also have an estimated $7.5-billion impact on forestry and farming, and that impact is in the negative sense.

In Huron–Bruce, a group of concerned citizens approached authorities for assistance with phragmites, which are growing out of control along our shoreline. Where cottages and homeowners once had a lovely beach, there are only phragmites, and the remaining beach was unable and unsafe to be walked on due to phragmite roots. Everybody is doing their part. I’ve talked to people who, when phragmites come in to seed, they painstakingly cut off the heads of the phragmite and very carefully drop them into little baggies so the seeds do not hit the ground.

Everyone in my riding is cognizant of the negative impact of phragmites. In my riding, residents have approached local municipal councils and officials, and together they began the long and difficult task of having the problem assessed. Through filling out of the paperwork, they hope that they can work toward a treatment that will address this issue. But unfortunately, this is a time-consuming and trying procedure that it should not have been. Phragmites are a recognized threat and spread quickly, so it should not be a convoluted procedure to report and control them.

In terms of improving Bill 66, that is an area in terms of amendments that our party is going to be addressing. I would also like to suggest that this is one area in which the government should increase engagement with municipal officials and local conservation authorities and streamline the remediation process.

Another ongoing threat to the Great Lakes has been the invasion of zebra mussels. My colleague and friend from Thornhill very adeptly addressed the issue in the lake that she calls home with her father, and I thank her for that. Zebra mussels have led to water quality concerns and they too encourage the growth of algae.

In saying that, I want to get into more detail about some of the problems with Bill 66 in areas that we hope we can work together on to improve.

A number one issue in this bill is the duplication of governance. While recognizing the importance of a healthy and prosperous Great Lakes region, there are still elements of Bill 66 which warrant sober second thought. The PC Party has certainly been supportive of the existing framework to protect water quality and to establish meaningful partnerships with the private sector to develop new technologies to remediate areas of concern.

There have been Great Lakes governance agreements between Canada and the United States, and between the federal and provincial governments, for more than 40 years. If there was a pressing need for more legislation, I question why the Liberal government has waited so long to act. We also need to examine if the areas of concern and challenges facing the Great Lakes should be addressed under Bill 66, or could they not be better dealt with under existing agreements?

Is more legislation really needed to protect the Great Lakes? We need to be mindful of this. To my mind, the Liberals have not provided a clear explanation as to why Bill 66 is necessary when we have extensive regulatory frameworks already in place. If they cannot demonstrate areas of concern that are not being adequately addressed, then why are they proposing a comprehensive piece of legislation that may well create conflicts and confusion, burden municipalities and development with increased costs and red tape, and reduce local planning authority? Speaker, I have to remind you again that we saw a documentary on TVO last night that saw the results of the loss of local municipal autonomy. Do we want to create another burden and another threat that further reduces local decision-making? I so hope not. Stewardship programs do not need another layer of bureaucracy; they need adequate funding, which Bill 66 does not appear to provide.

Unfortunately, the introduction of Bill 66 reminds me, as I mentioned earlier, of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act. I have to ask once more if this government is again proposing far-reaching legislation simply to appease special interest groups and to create the illusion of protecting the environment. Ontario cannot afford another ill-advised policy which does nothing but download costs to municipal governments and complicate and confuse the environmental processes that we already have in place.

Given the province’s skyrocketing debt and deficit situation, one also has to consider that Bill 66 may just be another revenue tool to satisfy the finance minister and an opportunity to further download costs and to raise money through the levy of fees and penalties. Again, Ontario has a huge burden because of the last decade of Liberal mismanagement. We cannot afford another ill-advised and misplaced piece of legislation.

To continue, I would now like to outline some of the existing agreements which provide protection to the Great Lakes.

Canada and the United States have established the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. Under this agreement, the US and Canadian governments have identified—I’m going to go through the whole list, because we do not want Bill 66 to provide unnecessary, redundant pieces of legislation. The US and Canadian governments, under the Great Lakes water agreement, have identified the need to:

—develop water quality and ecosystem health objectives and report progress to the public regularly;

—clean up areas of concern in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin;

—develop a comprehensive lake-wide management plan to protect and remediate near-shore waters;

—reduce toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes, like mercury and PCBs;

—reduce nutrients like phosphorus that lead to the growth of algal blooms that degrade drinking water quality, impair fish spawning and adversely impact commercial and recreational fishing, swimming, tourism and the overall enjoyment of the Great Lakes;

—prevent discharges from shipping vessels, such as garbage, sewage, invasive species and other pollutants;


—stop the spread of invasive species by developing and implementing early detection and rapid response programs;

—complete the development of and begin implementing lake-wide habitat and species protection, restoration and conservation strategies within two years;

—identify contaminants in groundwater discharged into the Great Lakes;

—develop plans to protect and restore near-shore areas, the primary source of drinking water for Great Lakes communities;

—reaffirm actions necessary to restore and delist areas of concern;

—identify new toxic substances and implement pollution prevention and control strategies; and, lastly,

—develop conservation strategies to protect native species and restore habitat.

This comprehensive agreement also requires Canada and the United States to address the use of toxic substances in the basin and to develop action plans for areas of concern, which are regions that have significant environmental challenges.

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement has an oversight body called the International Joint Commission to oversee the development and implementation of these goals. So again, I caution: Is Bill 66 going to set up a redundant layer of bureaucracy and Liberal-friendly appointments that Ontario can’t afford at this time?

Speaker, to go back to the International Joint Commission, I would like to share with you that this particular commission oversees the remediation of 15 areas of concern by ensuring that parties have action plans in place. Ontario is responsible for addressing challenges in seven of Canada’s 10 areas of concern, including Nipigon Bay, Jackfish Bay, Peninsula Harbour, Spanish Harbour, Wheatley Harbour, the Niagara River and the Bay of Quinte.

Over and above the International Joint Commission, Ontario is also a member of the Great Lakes Charter, an agreement signed by Ontario, Quebec and eight of the Great Lakes states in 1985 to address concerns related to water diversion in the Great Lakes basin.

The governments of Canada and Ontario also signed a draft Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health—COA—in 2014. Are we seeing a pattern here? There are already a lot of initiatives taking place. Again, I caution: Does Bill 66 just introduce another layer of redundancy that this province can’t afford?

Going back to the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, which was founded in 2014, I want to share that the COA, as it’s known, establishes a domestic action plan to guide co-operation and the coordination of efforts to restore, protect and conserve Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health over five years.

I’d like to point out to you, as we wind down to the break, what the COA deals with: nutrients; harmful pollutants; discharges from vessels; areas of concern; lake-wide management; aquatic invasive species; habitat and species; groundwater quality; climate change impacts; science; promoting innovation; engaging communities; engaging First Nations; and engaging Métis.

Speaker, I worry, and again I caution, that Ontario cannot afford another layer of redundant legislation that does nothing more than download more costs to Ontarians throughout this province.

At that, I think you may want me to take a break.


Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Keep going? Okay. Speaker, I would love to keep going because I have so much to say on this particular bill.

Let me talk about the Conservation Authorities Act. This particular act gives the government the power to regulate the development of shorelines for watershed management, and the Planning Act provides municipalities with the authority to regulate shoreline development. As well, the government has the Toxics Reduction Act and the Environmental Protection Act to deal with harmful pollutants.

As you can see, numerous pieces of legislation offer a framework for the protection of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Again, I question why Ontario does not simply fulfill its commitments under these existing agreements. There is no need to overlap and duplicate governance. Where is this particular gap that necessitates Bill 66? Speaker, I ask: What steps will the government take to prevent overlap and to ensure all new regulations will be coordinated with Ontario’s existing water legislation?

Bill 66 could potentially affect a number of acts; for example, the Planning Act; the Condominium Act, 1998; the Greenbelt Act, 2005; the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act; and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001. It’s very much a concern.

I come back to the title article from Better Farming March 2015. I want to revisit the call-out that kicks off this article: “With the Ontario government just beginning to develop its approach and many questions unanswered, regulation is the elephant in the room for the farming community” and across Ontario, I might add—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Now we’ll let you end.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): This House stands recessed until 10:30 a.m.

The House recessed from 1015 to 1030.

Introduction of Visitors

Mrs. Julia Munro: It’s my pleasure to welcome to the chamber today two young constituents of mine, Liza Kanopatykaia and Louis Vatrt. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Michael Mantha: I’d like to introduce the family of page Demily Bello Thibodeau, with her father being Richard Thibodeau; Havana Thibodeau; Joanne Thibodeau; and also the very beautiful and young Betsabel Thibodeau.

Hon. Jeff Leal: In the west members’ gallery today I believe I see Don McCabe, the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and Keith Currie, the vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. Members of the executive of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture had the opportunity to meet with these wonderful folks earlier this morning. We welcome them to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Steve Clark: It’s a great pleasure for me to introduce the zone 11 director on behalf of the member for Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington and the member for Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry. I want to introduce our director, Eleanor Renaud, from the OFA.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’d like to introduce a few people who are all the way from Timmins. First of all, our school board trustee and the president of the professional firefighters association, Peter Osterberg. He is here with both Bill and Caroline, his parents, who are visiting along with him.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: I want to issue a very warm welcome to some of my constituency office staff from the riding of Pickering–Scarborough East. We have Helen Walker, Kassandra Cruciano and Farah Khan. These great team members are here at Queen’s Park and we’re going to have lunch together, which we never get to do in the constit office. We’re going to do that today.

Mrs. Gila Martow: I want to recognize Farhana Haji and Hanif Haji; they are in the members’ gallery. They are the parents of our page captain today, Alysa. Thank you very much for joining us.

Hon. Michael Coteau: Joining us in the Legislature today are recipients of the IGNITE program funding, which supports Pan Am community outreach programs. We’ll be having a reception at 6 o’clock this evening in committee rooms 228 and 230. I invite all members to join us.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I’d like to welcome to the House today Debra Pretty-Straathof, a constituent of mine and also the OFA’s zone 8 director for the counties of Arnprior, Lanark, Ottawa and Renfrew.

Mr. John Vanthof: I would also like to welcome the members of the OFA here today, specifically my director for northern Ontario, Peggy Brekveld.

Mr. John Fraser: I would like to introduce Eleanor Fast, who is the mother of page Joe Fast from Ottawa South. I’d like to welcome her; she’s in the east gallery today.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I’d like to introduce Priya Pandya. She is the mom of another page captain today, Rahul. It’s great to have her here all the way from Huron–Bruce.

I have two other introductions. I’d also like to warmly welcome Heather Copeland from Grober—I worked with her in my capacity as general manager with the Ontario Dairy Goat Co-operative; she represents Grober—and a dear friend of mine, who goes way back, is also with her today coming to the House: Crystal Mackay, executive director of Farm and Food Care Ontario.

Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: It’s my pleasure to introduce some special guests today, they’re the family of legislative page Max Ciuffetelli-Parker, who is our page captain today. In the House today are his mother, Dr. Darlene Ciuffetelli-Parker; his father, Mr. Craig Parker; and his sister—who is a former page, as well—Madeline Ciuffetelli-Parker. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Bill Walker: It’s my pleasure to welcome Pat Jilesen, a lamb and crop producer from Bruce county, a great volunteer and an OFA director at large—and all the members of the OFA.

Mme Marie-France Lalonde: Il me fait plaisir d’introduire aujourd’hui et présenter notre page, Jade Proulx, at the Legislative Assembly on behalf of Ottawa–Orléans. We’re very proud to have you with us.

Wearing of ribbons

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): A point of order from the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find that we have unanimous consent that all members be permitted to wear purple ribbons in recognition of epilepsy awareness day.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care is seeking unanimous consent to wear ribbons for an epilepsy day. Do we agree? Agreed.

Oral Questions

Ontario Retirement Pension Plan

Mrs. Julia Munro: My question is to the Premier. Premier, you have said that the mandatory Ontario pension plan will be good for the province, yet your government has not released any evidence to support these claims. In fact, the only information you have released is an internal document warning your minister that the pension plan will cost Ontario 54,000 jobs a year.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has even said that your government, at a minimum, must conduct and publicly release an analysis of the impact of the new pension plan. So, Premier, will you include a cost-benefit analysis of the ORPP in the 2015 budget?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I appreciate the question from the member opposite. I know the associate minister is going to want to speak to this very important issue.

As the member knows, we made this commitment as a part of our budget and as a part of our platform, Mr. Speaker. It’s a fundamental part of our plan for the economy, because we know that there are many, many people in Ontario who are not able to save enough, who are worried about retirement security. We believe that it is important that government take action to make sure that they have the ability to retire in security after a life of work. I’m surprised, actually, that anyone in this House would not think that it’s a good idea for the people of Ontario to have retirement security.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mrs. Julia Munro: Back to the Premier: Premier, you may not have evidence, but I do. The CFIB has said that over half its members will have to lay off workers—lay off workers. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has said that 44% of its members will have to reduce staff. We all—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order, please. On both sides—on both sides—I’m having difficulty hearing the question being put, so please.

Finish, please.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I don’t need extra comments.

Mrs. Julia Munro: We all know that it’s impossible to save for retirement if you have no job. So, Premier, will you commit to help save jobs in Ontario by walking away from the ORPP?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Speaker, it’s very interesting, because people who have studied this issue and who understand the way people are able to prepare for their retirement pretty much—there’s a lot of agreement among those experts that there are not enough people in this province, and in this country, quite frankly, saving for retirement.

Organizations like CARP, the organization of seniors across the country—they have no stake in this, because they’re past the point where such a pension plan would benefit them—are one of the strongest advocates for us doing this. They believe that this is an important thing.

I believe that it is responsible for us to implement what we ran on. We were very clear with the people of Ontario, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Mrs. Julia Munro: Premier, we will lose more than just jobs if the ORPP goes through. The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association found that 78% of workplaces will reduce or eliminate their existing pension plans if they are forced to take part in the ORPP.

Premier, over the next week, the PC caucus will be laying out five key commitments we need to see from your government in order to support your budget. This is the first.

Will you commit in your 2015 budget to saving jobs and walking away from the ORPP?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.


Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Associate Minister of Finance.

Hon. Mitzie Hunter: I appreciate her raising the question in the House this morning, because Ontarians are concerned about their retirement. In fact, just this week, a study from RBC was released, and 34% of people have contributed to their—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I don’t anticipate shouting people down for the sake of not hearing them.

Hon. Mitzie Hunter: From that RBC study, only 39% of respondents have put away money in 2014 for retirement through their RRSP, and 30% said that they have not begun to save for their retirement. Ontarians expect their government to take action to ensure a secure retirement future. In fact, 77% of Ontarians support an increase in pension benefits.

It is for this reason that our government has put forward the implementation of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan: so that when people retire, they can retire with dignity and have a secure savings floor in their retirement.

Social Assistance Management System

Mr. Bill Walker: My question is for the Premier. Your government has caused a great deal of angst and hardship to our most vulnerable people by launching a messed-up social assistance computer system that you were warned was not ready for implementation. SAMS continues to be an unmitigated disaster.

Earlier this month, I raised concerns with problems that SAMS is going to cause with people’s tax returns and related benefits, impacting as many as 700,000 adults and children dependent on ODSP and Ontario Works. We recently found out that you were forced to shred over a half a million T5 tax forms because of errors by your supposedly improved computer system.

Premier, are you prepared to continue to assert that your government’s $240-million—and climbing—social assistance system is experiencing a mere glitch?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I know that the Minister of Community and Social Services is going to want to have more to say on this, but we’ve acknowledged that the implementation of the improved system has posed challenges. We understand that.

We also know that SAMS, which is the system that the member opposite is talking about, is a key component of the transformation of Ontario’s social assistance program. It’s very important that we have updated technology. There have been concerns and problems. The minister has visited offices. There is front-line support for people who are going through this transition. We have worked to make sure that cheques were put in people’s hands so that they had the benefits that they were entitled to, but we need to implement a system that is going to improve service. That’s exactly what we’re doing.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Why did you implement one that didn’t work?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Renfrew, come to order.


Mr. Bill Walker: Back to the Premier: You suggested SAMS would be a better, more efficient system. Recently your government hired PricewaterhouseCoopers consultants to cover up your government’s incompetence over SAMS implementation and issued not one but two rounds of so-called one-time—and, I might add, unbudgeted—funding to municipalities to mitigate the ongoing cost overruns with SAMS.

Premier, can you assure us that you will not download the cost of your SAMS mess on the backs of local taxpayers and guarantee a full 100% short- and long-term reimbursement to municipalities?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: As I said, this SAMS system is being implemented because it will improve service to people. There’s no question that there have been challenges—as, I would say, there were challenges when the party opposite instituted changes in terms of social assistance.

The implementation has to be improved; there’s no question about that. I’m pleased that we’ve hired a third-party adviser to advise us, to improve the system.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Member from Nepean–Carleton, come to order.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: That’s as it should be. We have to make these changes, as parties before us have made changes. We have to address the challenges as they come along. It’s important that we have expert advice on how to do that, and that’s exactly what we’ve sought out.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Prince Edward–Hastings will come to order so I can acknowledge his colleague.

Final supplementary.

Mr. Bill Walker: Back to the Premier: I think you should talk to the front-line people and the recipients who aren’t receiving these, because it isn’t an improved system.

People on social assistance deserve stability, peace of mind and the supports they rely on. They need to know you’ll put a stop to this waste and start putting money where it belongs: into helping our 700,000 vulnerable adults and children who depend on this support.

As per my open letter—and I’m going to send you another copy here by page—Premier, I ask you again: How many more SAMS stumbles can we expect in the future, and how much will it cost the recipients and the taxpayers?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. Helena Jaczek: I’m pleased to have the opportunity to update the House on a number of the steps that we’ve been taking over the last few months to address the challenges in SAMS.

I have spent the last few months visiting many offices—both OW municipal partner offices as well as ODSP—and I have certainly seen the frustration of the caseworkers on the front line. This is why we’ve taken a number of steps. Our project team has instituted many fixes in order to make the system function much more smoothly. We’re listening to front-line staff. I actually met with a number of CUPE and OPSEU representatives yesterday. I understand the stress that they have been through, but at the end of the day, we have been extremely successful. We have now processed four successful pay runs for both ODSP and OW monthly payments, payments to 570,000 families each month—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.

Privatization of public assets

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Premier. Can the Premier provide any guarantees that hydro rates will not go up as part of the Liberal plan to privatize Hydro One and local utilities?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I thought when the leader of the third party stood up that she was going to say how important she thought it was to give people in this province who are struggling, the lowest-income people, a break on hydro rates. I would have thought that would have been the kind of policy the NDP would support. In fact, it’s the kind of policy that has been advocated for by poverty advocates.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Everybody’s struggling under your hydro policy—everybody.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke is warned.

Carry on.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: That’s not what this NDP is interested in.

To the question that the leader of the third party has brought forward, I’ve been very clear, and we were very clear in the election and in our budget, that we were going to have a review of assets, and that that review of assets was about investing in transportation infrastructure and transit. That is why we are doing it. At the same time, we recognize that price controls and regulation need to be very much in place and there needs to be continued ownership of those assets. All of those pieces are principles upon which we’re making our decisions.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I don’t think I heard the assurance I was looking for, because privatizing hydro means Ontarians are going to be paying higher hydro rates in this province. Mike Harris started down the hydro road and the Liberals are doubling down on that road.

If the Premier is so sure that privatizing Hydro One—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Minister of Economic Development, come to order.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: —is such a great deal, why won’t she provide a simple guarantee to Ontarians that hydro rates will not go up under this privatization scheme?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, it’s so interesting that the member opposite is talking about an issue that, of course, is decided by the Ontario Energy Board, and that regulation that I have said must stay in place will stay in place.

But on a day when the leader of the third party has the opportunity to talk about a policy that is going to lower electricity prices for the lowest-income people in this province, she’s not interested in talking about that. She’s not interested in talking about a policy that actually is part of a poverty reduction strategy, that actually supports people with the lowest income. That’s a policy I would have thought the NDP would have been interested in.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.

Final supplementary.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, since 2002, hydro rates have gone up by more than 325%, and all the Premier has for Ontarians is another—another—privatization scheme. She’ll sell off our hydro companies, put them in private hands that just want to make more profit, but still somehow it’s supposed to be better for Ontarians? So I’m going to ask one more time: Are hydro bills going up under the Premier’s new, current privatization scheme?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Let me just talk about what the Ontario Electricity Support Program will do, because I think it is very relevant. I’ve already addressed the issue of price regulation and the protections that need to be in place, whatever we do with assets. The OESP is going to provide targeted support based on household income and size, Mr. Speaker, so it’s a very strategic and surgical, I would say, benefit that will help people who are most in need.

As an example: A family of four with an income of less than $28,000 would have a combined savings of about $525 annually. That’s a significant reduction. And as I say, on top of the other programs that we have in place to protect people who are struggling with their overall costs, this new program will help the lowest-income Ontarians. That’s something that I think the NDP should be cheering.

Education funding

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Anybody who thinks the OEB is a price control agency is in la-la land, I’ve got to say.

My next question is to the Premier, Speaker. How many schools have been targeted for closure since the Premier introduced the 2014 budget?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Again, let me repeat what both the Minister of Education and I have said many times, and that is that we continue to invest in the education of the children of this province. The minister is going to be talking with school boards today, letting them know that the education funding is remaining stable and in fact in certain areas, like maintenance, increasing, Mr. Speaker.

The fact is that school boards have to make decisions about delivering programs that make the most sense in their communities. I believe in the school boards’ ability to do that on a local basis. Sometimes that means consolidating schools; sometimes that means renovating one school and moving kids into a newly renovated school; sometimes it does mean closing the school; sometimes it means building a new school. Those are decisions that local school boards need to make, working with the ministry.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: From 2011 until the 2014 election, at least 88 schools closed across this province, but the Premier won’t say how many more schools are being targeted for closure after the 2014 budget was first introduced. Today, school boards are learning how deep the Liberals will cut, and how much pressure they’re going to have to close even more schools. How many more schools does the Premier think should be shut down in neighbourhoods across this province?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Education.

Hon. Liz Sandals: I would have thought that the member opposite, the leader, would have been interested in the announcement that we made this morning, that in fact school board funding will be remaining stable this year. Speaker, last year the transfers to school boards amounted to $22.5 billion. This year they’ll amount to $22.5 billion, despite the fact that enrolment is declining in Ontario, which means that there’s actually a slight per pupil increase. But what I will say, Speaker, is that we think that it’s more important to fund children and make sure they get good programs and good supports and good resources, rather than empty seats. That’s exactly what we’re doing in this year’s funding model.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Well, Speaker, everybody in this chamber and everybody around Ontario knows very well that a freeze is actually a cut. So the minister can talk about it all she wants, but freezing education funding is actually cutting education funding—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order. Start the clock, please.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: —and that means cuts to classroom support and layoffs for teachers and layoffs for education workers. The Toronto District School Board is already cutting 50 special education staff. Those are the staff who work with our most vulnerable children. Parents in the Toronto Catholic board are trying to protect their intensive special education support programs, which their children need.

Parents want the Premier to answer a simple question: Why are students being forced to pay for Liberal mistakes?

Hon. Liz Sandals: Actually, I think it’s also important for the member opposite to know that, if you look at the special education funding pot this year for schools across Ontario, you’ll find that it actually goes up slightly even though the number of students is going down.

The member knows that the enrolment in Ontario schools has been going down and down and down and down. So you really need to look at how much we’re spending per pupil. The spending per pupil has gone up 59% since 2003. The overall funding has gone up $8 billion since 2003. So I absolutely disagree with the member opposite. We are funding the schools of Ontario absolutely adequately.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Be seated, please. Thank you.

New question.

Government’s agenda

Ms. Christine Elliott: My question is to the Premier. Premier, you’ve promised to protect the social programs that Ontarians need and deserve, but evidence is clearly mounting that your failed economic policies are having serious consequences on Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens. Your failed policies have forced the Toronto District School Board to cut 50 special education assistants and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario to eliminate 50 positions. But even more disturbing than that is the fact that there are over 21,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities who are languishing on wait-lists, waiting desperately for the supports and services that they desperately need.

I have a very simple question for the Premier: Will she admit that her failed economic policies have consequences and are hurting Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: It’s a broad-ranging question, but what I will say to the member opposite is that I absolutely reject the premise of the question.

We’ve just had a conversation in this House about education funding, which is remaining stable in the face of declining enrolment and, in terms of special education, is actually going up. We’ve had a conversation in the past days about health funding, the 24,000 more nurses in the system than there were in 2003; 5,000 more doctors—and we’re going through a transition. In terms of disabilities, in terms of funding for disabilities and developmental services, the fact is there is $810 million going into that sector.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Prince Edward–Hastings will come to order.

Please finish.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the programs that have long wait-lists, the money that is going into the system is going to reduce those wait-lists for developmental services. I already talked about special ed in education. Special education funding in schools is going up across the province overall, even though enrolment is declining.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Christine Elliott: I asked a really simple question, but it’s one that the Premier clearly wishes to avoid. The truth is obvious: In order to be socially compassionate, you first need to be fiscally responsible. Mr. Speaker, good economic policy enables good social policy.

Premier, your failed economic policies are having serious consequences. Just ask the students at the Toronto District School Board, ask the young patients at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and ask the 21,000 children and adults, and their families, with intellectual disabilities why they’re not getting the programs and services that they need and deserve.

Premier, will you finally recognize that your failed economic policies are having serious consequences and seriously affecting the lives of Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens?


Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I would say to the member opposite that she really can’t have it both ways. Outside of this House, in her leadership campaign—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I’m asking for us to have a little bit of civility here. As soon as somebody stands up to answer, I hear shouting, and it’s not appropriate.

So I’ll ask the member from Nepean–Carleton to come to order.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Me?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m obviously not in the mood for joking.

Finish, please.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: In her leadership campaign, she has promised that she will cut $1 billion by way of a tax cut from the very services that she’s talking about. The hundreds of millions of dollars that we’re putting into education, that we’re putting into health care and that we’re putting into developmental services would be gone, because she’s going to find $1 billion according to her platform.

So I would ask the member opposite to make some consistent statements about what her plan would be, because what she’s saying now does not make sense.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please.

New question.

By-election in Sudbury

Mr. Gilles Bisson: My question is to the Premier. Both Pat Sorbara, your deputy chief of staff—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Let me repeat again. I think they didn’t like that.

Both Pat Sorbara, your deputy chief of staff and campaign director; and Mr. Sorbara, your Liberal operative in Ottawa—

Mr. Steve Clark: Lougheed.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Mr. Lougheed, I should say—had a discussion with Mr. Olivier about his—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. I demand the same courtesy on both sides. Thank you.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Again, Pat Sorbara, your deputy chief of staff; and Mr. Lougheed, the local operator in Sudbury, had direct conversations with Mr. Olivier about standing down. My question to you is, were you aware that those conversations were going to take place?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Government House leader.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I take it that the member from Timmins–James Bay has taken on the responsibility of having at least having one question about an issue that we’ve discussed on several occasions in this House. The Premier has been absolutely clear that this matter is being dealt with by way of an investigation which is done by independent authorities outside this Legislature, and we should respect that process. Speaker, the notion of procedural fairness and natural justice in our system of democracy requires that we let arm’s-length investigative bodies undertake their responsibilities. We should not be using this Legislature to be quarterback investigators. So I urge the member opposite to respect the process, understand the notion of presumption of innocence and let the authorities complete the investigation.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Back to the Premier: I would urge you to answer the question. This Legislature has certain rights. Those rights were given to us by the Canadian Constitution and allow members to stand in this House to ask relevant questions having to do with issues that are important to Ontarians.

Your deputy chief of staff and your Liberal operator in Sudbury continually talked to Mr. Olivier about not running and standing down. So I’m going to ask the question again: Were you aware that these conversations were going to take place—yes or no?

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Speaker, we fully respect the right of the opposition to ask questions. We hope that they ask questions on issues that are important to Ontarians, like how we are giving a break to low-income Ontarians on their electricity rates or how we are making sure that we are investing in education.

Speaker, this is an investigation that is going on outside this Legislature. We have important issues to deal with as we build Ontario up. I ask the member opposite to let the authorities do their work. The Chief Electoral Officer was very clear when he said that he has not made any determination of innocence or of guilt because that is up to the prosecutors and judges to decide. We should respect his opinion. The member opposite himself has said on occasions that the Premier should not interfere in the investigation. He is absolutely right. This is exactly what she is doing.

While she’s doing this, she will continue to focus on making sure that we’re building Ontario up.

Senior citizens

Mrs. Cristina Martins: My question this morning is for the minister responsible for seniors’ affairs. Ontario has a proud history of having one of the most culturally and socially diverse populations in the world. It’s important to recognize that this remarkable diversity also extends to our significant and growing senior population. In fact, more than 55% of all Canadian immigrant seniors live in the province of Ontario. As well, a larger portion of our two million seniors are female, and this difference increases greatly in the oldest age groups, where over 70% of persons aged 90 or older are female.

In my own riding of Davenport, there is a sizable and very diverse older adult community, and my senior constituents represent many different cultural, ethnic and social groups. Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister: Could you please provide us with details regarding the programs and services our government is investing in to support seniors from diverse communities?

Hon. Mario Sergio: Thank you to the member from Davenport for the question.

Speaker, we recognized this incredible diversity when we established, first in 2010, Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors. I have to say that the member is quite right: 55%-plus of Canada’s seniors’ population lives in our province of Ontario. Nearly one third of those seniors report a mother tongue other than English and French, and 7%, especially new immigrants, don’t speak any of our official languages.

Facing the reality of this diversity, our government long ago started to invest in a number of important programs addressing this diversity. We produce, for example, a seniors’ guide to programs and services in 16 languages. We deliver information fairs in northern and remote communities to reach our francophone and aboriginal seniors. We fund the seniors’ infoline in 30 languages—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mrs. Cristina Martins: Thank you to the minister for his response.

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the pleasure of hosting the minister in Davenport for an event which truly highlights our government’s continued commitment to serving the needs of seniors in my community and celebrating their diversity. On this occasion, seniors from the Vietnamese Association, Toronto, joined us for an impressive tai chi demonstration. With funding provided by seniors community grants, seniors learned tai chi exercises and in turn became volunteers, teaching other seniors their skills.

Another great example from my riding of an organization that was financed through the grant program was a symposium for immigrant senior women. This educational symposium brought together senior women of diverse backgrounds to participate in workshops and obtain essential resource information.

It’s clear these investments have been extremely well received in Ontario. Mr. Speaker, can the minister please provide further information on how we’re supporting these seniors?

Hon. Mario Sergio: I want to thank the member again for the question.

Let me say that the priorities of the Seniors Community Grant Program include a focus on aboriginal communities and projects embracing our cultural diversity.

Speaker, back in 2010, when we introduced and passed the Retirement Homes Act, we ensured that important provisions were put in place to protect diversity. It is now a requirement by law that retirement homes, all 700 of them, must prominently display a bill of rights which entitles the residents to have their lifestyles and choices respected, and to freely pursue their social, cultural, religious, spiritual and other interests.

We launched the groundbreaking multicultural Finding Your Way program for people with dementia, and we do that in 12 languages. On top of that, we have a very successful and helpful guide which provides seniors with information on active living, transportation and housing.

Health care funding

Mr. Jeff Yurek: My question is to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Minister, on Monday you told this House that there would be more family physicians and specialists practising in the province. Contrary to this, the Ontario Medical Association, the people who represent Ontario’s doctors, released a statement saying that your government’s imposed cuts will drive new physicians out of Ontario and hurt patient care. How can you stand in this House and say there will be increases when the opposite is true? Are you calling Ontario’s doctors liars?


Hon. Eric Hoskins: Being a member of the OMA myself, I would certainly not do that. I hold the OMA and our physicians, the more than 30,000 physicians around this province, in extremely high regard. But what I will say to the member opposite is that the OMA negotiations were about one thing and one thing only: They were about physician remuneration. They were about the amount of dollars that physicians in this province earn. Historically, and certainly in the current situation, doctors in this province—as they should be—are among the highest-paid in this country, Mr. Speaker. They’re also among the highest-talented in this country, and in North America. But this is not about care to patients. This has nothing to do with access to health care for individual Ontarians. Unfortunately, despite our umpire, retired Justice Warren Winkler, asking the OMA to accept our offer, the OMA did not. Unfortunately, we’ve had to move ahead without them.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jeff Yurek: Back to the minister: Minister, in the South West LHIN, there are over 38,000 people without a family physician. These imposed cuts on these doctors are not going to help that situation one bit whatsoever. Minister, you have failed to define what a high-needs area is and, by doing so, these new doctors will not be able to practise in a family health team throughout southwestern Ontario.

You’ve told this House, “Doctors are entitled to practise wherever they want in this province.” However, again, the OMA has said that your government has limited new graduates from practising in family health teams. Medical students are trained to work in team-based family practice models. Why won’t your government work with the front-line health care workers to find solutions to protect Ontario’s health care system? Why do you find this so difficult?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: In fact, many parts of southwestern Ontario will benefit from the changes that we’re making, because we are continuing our commitment to create new family health team positions and family health team entities in those parts of the province that require them. For example, in the northern part of this province, there are roughly 40 family health teams there currently. I’d like to see more of them. In the small towns and rural parts of this province, where there are, I think, about 70 or 80 family health teams currently operating, I’d like to see more, as well. We’re continuing to allocate positions to those parts of the province. We’re going to be able to define exactly what parts of the province we’re talking about within the next several weeks.

But, certainly, Mr. Speaker, we’ve added 5,000 physicians to this province’s health care services in the past decade. We’re continuing to add more. We’re providing opportunity, and those family doctors can and will practise in whatever part of the province they choose to.

Social assistance

Miss Monique Taylor: My question is for the Premier. Thousands of persons with disabilities are proud to be part of the workforce, but they count on a $100 top-up each month to help pay for the costs of that work. Now the same Premier who promised to protect social assistance is cutting this crucial funding. She promised one thing and she’s doing the exact opposite, and 34,000 ODSP recipients are at risk of suffering a huge cut this October. Speaker, I want to give the Premier a chance to fix this mistake. Will she abandon her plan to eliminate the Work-Related Benefit, or will she steamroll ahead with the cuts to social assistance?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. Helena Jaczek: Of course, the work of my ministry is to look after those most vulnerable in our society, both those on OW and those on ODSP, and we really are looking very carefully at ways that we can assist this population. We are looking at ways to improve employment opportunities for those with disabilities, and we’ve introduced a number of measures to encourage those who are able to, in fact, seek employment.

As I think everyone in this House knows, we’ve put an earnings exemption in now, so that the first $200 worth of employment income—those individuals do keep that. Over and above the $200 they earn, 50% is kept in their hands. We are very conscious of doing everything we can to encourage these individuals to be part of our society and take part in every aspect.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Miss Monique Taylor: Back to the Premier: I understand what those changes are supposed to do, but it’s actually going to work in the negative if you don’t do something to fix it. The Liberals are ignoring the real problems of some of our most vulnerable people. Cutting the Work-Related Benefit means no bus tickets to get to work. It means cutting back on food. It means scrambling to get another shift or being forced out of the workforce altogether.

There is nothing more cynical than a poverty reduction strategy based on cutting $100 per month from social assistance. Speaker, what will it take for the Premier to stop these cuts to social assistance?

Hon. Helena Jaczek: I think, as the member knows, we are looking to streamline various employment benefits for those with disabilities so that, in fact, we will be creating a far more flexible benefit so that those individuals who do require some assistance in terms of obtaining additional training or other skills that they may need in order to enter the labour market will be able to do so and, in fact, will see increased amounts and increased funding for those purposes.

The specific area of the Work-Related Benefit has been put on hold as of this date, as the member mentioned. We continue to ensure, as we move on with social assistance reform, that we look at all opportunities to protect and encourage those Ontarians to take their full place and be included in our society.

Sexual violence and harassment

Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Good morning, Speaker. My question, through you to the minister responsible for women’s issues: We recently began public hearings for the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment. Committee work has been progressing very well in examining sexual violence and harassment in the workplace and beyond. It is an example of positive, non-partisan collaboration that we can have if we work together as parties.

It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment helps to contextualize the work that the committee is doing. I know the purpose of the plan is to engage everyone in communities, classrooms and workplaces across Ontario in the conversation about how to stop sexual violence and harassment.

Speaker, through you to the minister: Can you say that we have begun to see an impact?

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: I want to thank the member from Barrie for asking this very pertinent and timely question. Indeed, our approach is having an impact. Our government’s ads that have been out there in the public domain have been viewed by more than seven million people. On the Ontario government’s YouTube page alone, over one million views. It has become a viral sensation around the world, with 2.5 million Facebook views in Turkey, where local activists added Turkish subtitles, and it has been viewed 1.7 million times in Brazil.

Given the number of people around the world who have seen this ad in English and French and international translations we have posted, we know it is resonating. Other nations where the ad has been widely seen on YouTube include the United States, the Philippines, India and France. By having this discussion as a society, we can do a much better job of increasing awareness and having an open discussion about sexual violence.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Ann Hoggarth: My next question also is for the minister responsible for women’s issues. It is wonderful that the campaign is beginning to resonate so much in just the first few weeks of its launch. It makes me very proud to be a member of this government to see such wide interest receptivity to our ad, not just in Ontario or Canada, but internationally as well. It seems like a step in the right direction towards changing attitudes and creating more public awareness of this issue.

I understand, as part of the work on the action plan, that you are convening a multi-sector round table through the Ontario Women’s Directorate on this issue. How will the round table help to improve the experiences of survivors who come forward about abuse and make workplaces and campuses safer and more responsive to complaints about sexual violence and harassment? Through you, Speaker, to the minister.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: The permanent round table on sexual violence and harassment is a forum of experts that will advise government on our initiatives and all the issues and opportunities around sexual violence and harassment.

There are many diverse voices around that table, Speaker. We have representatives that have significant front-line support who work with different communities. The round table includes experts on issues affecting specific populations as well, such as aboriginal persons, francophones, LGBT, newcomers, persons with disabilities, youth, older women as well as boys and men. It also has experts who can speak to violence and harassment in the workplace, and at our colleges and universities, which is a big issue right now, Speaker.

I am very pleased that the select committee is moving ahead, and the round table will be kept informed of the work of the committee and coordinate the efforts.



Mr. Toby Barrett: Speaker, to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: Minister, on March 23 you released a draft regulation for an 80% neonic ban on Ontario’s corn and soybean acreage. This is exactly what you proposed before Christmas, and, in spite of feedback—no change. Also on March 23, the USDA released its study concluding neonics are not driving bee deaths. The evidence for your ban is at best circumstantial and has not been proven in controlled scientific studies—certainly not from Health Canada’s pest management agency, where the true expertise lies. Your approach is derived from ideology. It’s irresponsible. It’s intimidating.

Minister, why did you allow emotion to trump science?

Hon. Jeff Leal: I appreciate the question from the honourable gentleman from Haldimand–Norfolk. We do know that a healthy pollinator strategy is very important to the agricultural community in the province of Ontario. We do know that there’s a number of contributing factors to bee health. We’ve gone through two very severe winters in the province of Ontario. We do know that there’s a mite, the Varroa mite, that can impact the health of beehives. We do know that appropriate management of beehives in the province of Ontario is very important, and we do know that the use of some pesticides is a contributing factor to bee health. Indeed, working with my colleague, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, we listened—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order.

Hon. Jeff Leal: —we listened, we had public consultations right across the province of Ontario, we had consultations through the EBR; we have taken all that information into consideration and—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary, please?

Mr. Toby Barrett: Minister, we do know the crucial role of pollinators, and I have on my desk the Ontario Pollinator Health Blueprint; you would as well. It comes from a task force of certified crop advisers, ag retailers, the seed trade, farmers, beekeepers, with recommendations for increased communication between farmers and beekeepers; work on bee nutrition and habitat; and manageable and reasonable limits on insecticide use.

You asked for feedback, as you said. You asked the cash crop and the beekeeper community to meet you halfway. They have, and yet, despite all of this, you’re adamant on your neonic ban.

Minister, your proposed regs, in my view, are anti-agriculture. You’re supposed to be the minister for agriculture, to represent farmers. You’re at the table in cabinet. Why will you not speak up for farmers?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Be seated, please. Thank you.

Hon. Jeff Leal: Mr. Speaker, since I’m in a very—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): You don’t start until I acknowledge—

Hon. Jeff Leal: Sorry, I’m just so anxious.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Yes, I know.

Minister of Agriculture.

Hon. Jeff Leal: Well, Mr. Speaker, I heard the supplementary from my good friend the member for Haldimand–Norfolk.

So let’s look at the facts. The agriculture sector of the province of Ontario: $34 billion in GDP; employs 760,000 Ontarians each and every day; represents 23%—23% of our manufacturing sector in Ontario is in the agri-food sector.

You know, I spend my time on the back concessions in Ontario and at kitchen tables. I know, this government knows, that the agri-food sector has a tremendous potential for growth, not the negativity shown by the official opposition.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.

New question.

LGBT conversion therapy

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: My question is to the Premier. There are currently doctors practising in Ontario, paid by OHIP, who believe that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans is a form of mental illness. Instead of offering support to LGBTQ kids, these doctors tell them that they are broken and need to be fixed. Instead of helping, they use abusive conversion therapies that try to turn these kids straight.

I recently introduced a bill that would prevent Ontario’s doctors from abusing LGBTQ kids with such so-called therapies. California and New Jersey have already passed similar laws.

Premier, I ask, on behalf of survivors like Erika Muse, and the victims who did not survive, like Leelah Alcorn: Will you ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ children?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.


Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I too want to applaud the member opposite. I think this is a very important issue. I personally find this type of alleged treatment abhorrent.

Interjection: Alleged?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Alleged in the eyes of those who actually perpetrate this misconduct. This isn’t treatment. Our Ontario Human Rights Code is very specific on issues such as this.

I welcome the private member’s bill from the member opposite, and I look forward to working with her. I know it’s going to be debated this afternoon.

I want to emphasize that no current medical guidelines anywhere that I’ve found, certainly not in this province, support or endorse this kind of alleged treatment that would aim to change or convert someone away from being LGBT.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Back to the Premier: The health minister recently denied that OHIP was paying for conversion therapy for LGBT kids. The fact is, there are doctors, including very influential doctors, who are still trying to “fix” LGBTQ kids with abusive so-called conversion therapies. These doctors can and do bill OHIP for these abusive counselling sessions.

Just last week, as a result of my bill and the hard work of LGBTQ activists, CAMH launched a complete review of their treatment of trans youth, treatment the minister has denied is even happening.

Again, to the Premier: Do you agree that such conversion therapy for LGBTQ children should be banned in Ontario?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I take great offence to the accusation that I have somehow, at any point in time, said that this treatment isn’t occurring or doesn’t exist.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s on the public record.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I challenge you to find that public record, but Mr. Speaker—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Excuse me. Stop the clock, please.

We’d best do our debating through the Chair. That way, we don’t change the debate tenure.

I would ask the minister to address me, and keep the heckling to a minimum.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: The member opposite does know that there is no billing code in the schedule of benefits for OHIP for conversion therapy or anything like it.

As well, I will be asking the relevant colleges, because there are a number that potentially could be involved in addressing this important situation, to explore amending the regulations to ban this practice, as it should be banned.

I believe if a particular incident were to be brought forward—I would encourage anyone who is aware of such alleged treatments taking place anywhere in this province to go forward to the appropriate regulatory body. I’m asking them to review their regulations, and certainly this is not something this government would ever support or endorse.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Start the clock.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Do I have to go to members?

New question.

Hydro rates

Ms. Daiene Vernile: My question is for the Minister of Energy. Minister, the investments our government has made to take a dirty and unreliable electricity system and make it clean and reliable have been putting cost pressures on Ontario families.

For many low-income Ontarians, paying their monthly electricity bill is a challenge. I have heard this from some constituents in my riding of Kitchener Centre. In comparison to other residential users in the province, low-income Ontarians spend a disproportionately higher percentage of their income on paying the monthly power bill.

While we recognize that our government is working hard to keep electricity affordable for all Ontarians, could the minister please tell this House what our government is doing to help low-income households with their electricity bills?


Hon. Bob Chiarelli: Firstly, thank you to the member from Kitchener Centre for the question.

The issue of helping low-income Ontarians with the cost of their electricity bill is one that we have been working hard to alleviate for some time now. While there are already emergency assistance programs and conservation programs in place to reduce electricity costs for Ontarians, we recognize the need to establish an ongoing support program for those most in need.

Just this morning, with members of the Low-Income Energy Network, I announced that our government is taking action to make electricity more affordable for Ontarians through the proposed implementation of the Ontario Electricity Support Program. The program would provide ongoing assistance directly on the bills of eligible low-income electricity consumers starting January 1, 2016. I want to thank the members from the network for their collaboration with the Ontario Energy Board.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Daiene Vernile: Thank you, Minister, for informing us about this proposed rollout of the Ontario Electricity Support Program. It is encouraging to hear that this program would provide targeted help to those who need it the most, making sure that all Ontarians, especially low-income Ontarians, have continued access to clean and reliable electricity.

The proposed creation of this Ontario Electricity Support Program would also support the government’s commitment to reducing poverty in Ontario, given that energy costs are a significant part of housing costs for many households. As the rollout of this program coincides with the end of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, could the minister give us some more details on how the Ontario Electricity Support Program is going to help low-income Ontarians, how much financial assistance it will provide, and if there are other programs that they might qualify for?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: Mr. Speaker, the program would provide targeted support. It would be based on a sliding scale that provides support based on a household’s income and size. The OESP would work together with the Ontario government’s decision to remove the debt retirement charge from all residential consumers’ bills at the end of this year. For example, for a family of four with an annual income of less than $28,000, the combined savings from the OESP and the removal of the debt retirement charge will be about $525 annually.

There are also existing programs available to help Ontarians with their electricity costs. These include the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, the Northern Ontario Energy Credit and the saveONenergy Home Assistance program. Ontario is committed to assisting those people most in need.

Air ambulance service

Mr. Norm Miller: My question is to the Minister of Health. Minister, over the past several months, Ornge air ambulance has refused calls to land at helipads at night in Parry Sound district.

In August 2014, a 16-year-old girl was seriously injured in an ATV accident just seven minutes from the Ardbeg helipad. Despite solar lights having been installed, fine flying weather and a letter from Ornge saying that night restrictions had been lifted, Ornge refused to land. They instead landed at the Parry Sound hospital, a 45-minute land ambulance drive one way.

Local first responders have no certainty if an Ornge helicopter will land when needed. As minister, what can you do to provide some certainty as to the availability of air ambulance services in Parry Sound district and across the north?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I appreciate the member opposite bringing this issue to our attention. It is an issue that I’m aware of. I have asked my officials to look into the particular circumstances surrounding this.

The member opposite has commented somewhat on the sorts of parameters that we need to look at, but there are many conditions that determine whether or not an air ambulance, an Ornge helicopter or a fixed-wing aircraft, can or cannot land at a particular locality. They obviously make every effort, subject to the safety of the individuals who are piloting or are on that craft itself, to ensure they can provide the highest quality of care on an urgent basis to those who need it.

Again, I’ve already asked my officials, with Ornge, to look at the details of this and how we might, on a go-forward basis, provide a higher level of certainty.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Norm Miller: Thank you, Minister. I’m glad you recognize there is a problem and that you understand that in an emergency, time is of the essence. Local first responders and municipal officials have tried to get answers from Ornge and have been in contact with your office.

I’ve spoken with the mayor of Whitestone, Chris Armstrong, and with the fire chief, Bob Whitman. They feel like they’re getting the runaround from Ornge. They say that air ambulance is a vital link, that the current situation is not an acceptable situation. It’s not just Ardbeg. Ornge won’t land at night at the South River or Britt helipads, and many across the north as well.

Minister, when can the people of Parry Sound district expect to get certainty on whether Ornge will land at their helipads before tragedy happens?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, I’ve committed to following up on this, as I already am, in fact, through our officials and with Ornge. I have no doubt that the member opposite appreciates as well that it’s not just the safety and well-being for the patient or the potential patient, but it’s also the safety and well-being of the pilots, the paramedics, those who are on these craft doing this important service every single day.

We make every effort, and I know Ornge does as well, to provide the highest quality of service. In fact, 90% of patient transports from emergency scenes were actually confirmed within 10 minutes. They do remarkable work every day around this province. There are specific circumstances that may lead to a positive or negative decision in terms of their ability to land at a specific location. As I mentioned to the member opposite, I’m looking into this specific case.

Natural gas extraction

Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Premier. Last year an EKOS poll revealed that 75% of Ontarians support a ban on hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking. Yesterday, I tabled a bill that would do just that. The bill follows the lead of other jurisdictions like New York, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

The Minister of the Environment expressed an interest in meeting with me about the bill, but then the Minister of Natural Resources said that this bill was not on—the government wouldn’t support it. Why was the Minister of the Environment left out of the loop when this government decided not to support a ban on fracking?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Hon. Bill Mauro: I thank the member for the question, and I appreciate his private member’s bill. I think it’s an issue with serious potential consequences and it has merit. I thank him for putting it forward.

You asked, I understand, as you’ve just said, the Minister of the Environment for a meeting on this. You didn’t ask the minister responsible for the legislation for a meeting on this. Had you done that, I would have been more than happy to accommodate the request.

Speaker, as I said in the Legislature, I think before Christmas, maybe back at the beginning of December—I thought I was pretty clear. There was a question from the member from Windsor–Tecumseh on the issue about fracking back in December or earlier than that. I’m sure you’ve had an opportunity to talk to him. I think at that point I was pretty clear in terms of our position on it, and that is that it would have required legislative change before we would have gone forward with anything in this particular regard. That’s on the record.

I’m surprised you didn’t have an opportunity to check with the minister responsible for the legislation, but I’m still happy to do that and happy and thankful that the member has brought forward an issue that I think is very serious, and one we need to—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Back to the Premier: While no fracking is taking place at the moment in Ontario, several energy firms have previously bought land rights in southwestern Ontario and have expressed interest in shale gas fracking. In 2012, the Environmental Commissioner warned that fracking was essentially unregulated in Ontario, and without rules, Ontario’s water supply would be at grave risk.

Despite the lack of environmental regulations, the government has rushed ahead to declare that a ban is unnecessary—no debate. It makes no sense for the government to impose a ban simply on the grounds that fracking is not happening at the moment. After all, coal-fired electricity plants are not in operation at the moment, but that has not stopped the government from tabling a bill to ban them.

Will the government take the issue of fracking seriously and formally ban the practice?

Hon. Bill Mauro: I thank the member for the question, and I guess his private member’s bill—I haven’t seen it yet; I haven’t read it. But the Legislative Assembly will determine how his particular bill is dealt with in due course.

Speaker, as he mentioned in his opening comments, fracking is not occurring anywhere in the province of Ontario right now, and it does, should it be requested, require a licence from my particular ministry under the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act.

Listen: I want to stress that protecting our environment and water is a top priority for our government. I thought I spoke pretty clearly to this issue many months ago. I welcome the legislation. I look forward to the debate. We’ll see how the Legislative Assembly deals with the member’s particular private member’s bill.

No fracking is occurring now; no applications are in front of me for a decision at this time. A legislative change would be required before we would consider moving forward with fracking in the province of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Children and Youth Services on a point of order.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: After question period, in room 213, the White Ribbon Campaign is holding a prelaunch photo shoot for its upcoming public education campaign called “I’m a Male Model” that seeks to recognize men from all walks of life who are positive role models for men and boys. I want to welcome all MPPs to join, especially our male MPPs. You are fantastic role models and I’d love to have your participation in this campaign. Come by and have your photo taken in one of the T-shirts called “I’m a Male Model” and it will go on the campaign website, and—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): That’s actually not a point of order but I am assuming that every single man in this room would like to be a male model, so we’ll remind everybody about the room.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): A point of order from the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Hon. Michael Coteau: Please join me in welcoming the Janssen Pharma team. Joining us today are Vice-President Julia Brown, Katherine Law, Charlene Lee, and other members of the government affairs and market access team at Janssen, which is located in the beautiful riding of Don Valley East. Welcome.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Jim Wilson: A point of order, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to welcome to the Legislature, on behalf of page Aiden Campbell from the great riding of Simcoe–Grey, his grandmother Sharon Inkster; grandfather Doug Inkster; and his great uncle Phil Sled. I’ll just note that Mr. Sled was the mayor of Severn township for many, many years. Welcome.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We always love welcoming our guests to the Legislature.

There are no deferred votes. This House stands recessed until 1 p.m.

The House recessed from 1141 to 1300.

Introduction of Visitors

Ms. Soo Wong: I have a lot of guests here this afternoon, Mr. Speaker. Let me begin with Alisa Van Der Toorn, who’s a teacher and the primary chairperson of Terry Fox Public School; former principal of Terry Fox Public School Ron Lowe; Glemena Bettencourt, who ran with Terry Fox for 21 days and organized the Oak Ridges Terry Fox run—welcome; Marta Ecsedi; Oakville city councillor Pam Damoff; Chris Henry, a volunteer with the Terry Fox Foundation for 24 years; Paula Trossman, a Terry Fox Team Deloitte leader; Eddie Yu, Terry Fox Team Toronto Go-Getters leader; and Jordan Hill, who is the Terry Fox Toronto Island community run leader.

Also, there’s my staff: Blair Ostrom, my legislative assistant; and Kristy May, the intern. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Harinder Malhi: I have two guests here today. My cousins are here to visit me at Queen’s Park and see what we do every day. They are also my constituents: Amanjot Gill and Harminder Deol.

Members’ Statements

Hospital funding

Mr. Norm Miller: I rise in the House today to recognize the local efforts to raise awareness on the need for hospital services in Muskoka. This past weekend, over 1,000 people braved the cold to attend rallies in support of continued funding for the two hospital sites overseen by the board of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare.

On March 21, I was pleased to participate in both the Hands Up for Our Hospitals rally in Bracebridge in the morning and the Save Our Services rally in Huntsville in the afternoon. Residents in Muskoka and east Parry Sound are concerned that due to changes in the health care funding model, the current budget shortfall may lead to decreased services at either South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge or Huntsville District Memorial Hospital. The single-siting of emergency services or surgical procedures are two of the biggest fears.

Muskoka is unique. Its large seasonal population and year-round tourism, coupled with the challenges of serving a large geographic area, including east Parry Sound and Algonquin Park, make continued investment in health care services a must. The mayors and councils of Bracebridge and Huntsville, as well as the district of Muskoka council, are all working together and speaking with one voice to maintain sustainable quality health care.

On Monday, as the Legislature resumed, I tabled in this House and presented to the Minister of Health a petition containing thousands of signatures to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the board of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare. I will continue to advocate for the continued quality of health care services and would encourage concerned residents to be active participants in the ongoing review process.

Book publishing industry

Mr. Paul Miller: I recently met with a delegation from the Ontario Book Publishers Organization, which represents 39 independent, Canadian-owned, Ontario-based publishers.

The Ontario book industry makes a substantial contribution to the province’s economy. An estimated 15,000 books are published in Ontario annually. Ontario-based, Canadian-owned book publishers generate more than 2,500 jobs. In 2012, Ontario publishers paid $256 million in salaries and benefits.

The OPBO wishes to express its appreciation and gratitude for the support it has received and continues to receive. However, more can always be done to ensure the viability of Ontario book publishers.

To that end, Ontario book publishers have requested:

—more support for the use of Canadian resources in Ontario schools. Students should learn about the world around them through Canadian content rather than imported material, thus providing a sense of shared cultures and values;

—the respecting of copyright in our schools to ensure that all parties—content users, Ontario education publishers, and the creators of the content—are treated fairly, and to stem the loss of revenue, leading to cutbacks, layoffs and closures; and

—an expansion of the Ontario Book Publishing Tax Credit to include the translation of Canadian authors by Canadian translators into French, English or aboriginal languages so as to encourage greater understanding among the language groups.

I am proud that Ontarians maintain a vibrant and independent book industry. We must look to sustain Ontario authors and publishers as a foundational plank for our culture.


Ms. Sophie Kiwala: It gives me great pleasure today to tell this House about a Canadian first for my great riding of Kingston and the Islands. PulsePoint is the name of a new smartphone app that alerts trained bystanders about a nearby cardiac arrest so that they can help out.

Here’s how it works: In the vast majority of cases when there has been a cardiac arrest, someone will call 911. The telephone operator identifies the location and enters that into the computer, as you’d expect. At the same time, however, the computer alerts community members trained to give CPR who have the PulsePoint app on their phone and who are within 500 metres of the emergency. The app shows them a map of how to reach the location and also shows any nearby public-access automated external defibrillators, AEDs.

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of preventable death; there are 40,000 in Canada each year. That’s one every 13 minutes.

Calling 911, starting CPR and using an AED doubles someone’s chances of survival. There are many, many examples of people whose lives have been saved in this way. Quite simply, Mr. Speaker, this app saves lives.

PulsePoint was launched in Kingston and the Islands on Monday through the collaborative efforts of Queen’s University, the city of Kingston, Kingston Fire and Rescue, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Kingston General Hospital and Bell Canada.

I’m so proud of my community. Kingston and the Islands will be leading the way for the rollout of this app all across the country, saving hundreds of lives each year.


Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: It’s my absolute pleasure to stand today to celebrate the 100th anniversary of 4-H in Ontario: 2015 marks 100 years of leadership programs for youth across rural Ontario. We celebrate not just the program itself but also the successes that this program has achieved over the years.

A grassroots organization, 4-H engages youth in their community, environment and society as a whole; 4-H allows for its members to learn about topics, life skills and agriculture through hands-on activities and mentorship. And 4-H is close to my heart. I spoke about having my first calf when I was 11 years of age.

It offers lasting impacts, of which one is here today joining me: The executive director for Farm and Food Care Ontario, Crystal Mackay, is downstairs. I met her through 4-H. It has just inspired so many amazing leaders across our province for the agri-food sector.

None of this, I must say, Speaker, would be possible without the dedicated staff and volunteers of 4-H and the many local associations across this province.

This weekend, I’ll be attending the 100th anniversary celebration in Waterloo, where 4-H, incidentally, got its start 100 years ago.


Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Yes, very good; I almost called you “Daiene”—by your first name.

Yes, 4-H got its start in Waterloo 100 years ago. I would dare say that anyone who has come through this program always contributes their head, heart, health and hands to anything they do.

London Youth Advisory Council

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I’d like to say a few words today about an exceptional group of politically engaged young people in London. The London Youth Advisory Council is a group of 14 elected youth councillors between the ages of 15 and 25.

Serving one-year terms, they gain experience in networking, leadership and municipal politics. Furthermore, as councillors, they get to represent other youth across London’s 14 wards by working on and speaking on behalf of issues that affect youth in their wards.

Similar to a provincial campaign, these applicants go through three main phases: a candidate application process, campaigning and debating, and then finally an election. Throughout the process, selected candidates are required to partake in training sessions and debates. These sessions help candidates formulate their strategies and platforms, as well as giving them real-world experience in canvassing, door-knocking, speaking with constituents and rallying a support base behind them.

Recently, in fact, the candidates have been selected, and throughout these next few weeks the candidates will be campaigning, debating and reaching out to constituents until the election, which takes place May 3 and runs through May 8.

I look forward to meeting with this group of bright young folks in June to participate as their honorary councillor at one of their round-table discussions. It truly will be an honour to speak with the up-and-coming generation of politicians in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, it is so important for brilliant, forward-minded and enthusiastic young people like them to be involved in politics. I’m excited for what the future brings for all of them.



Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: March is Epilepsy Awareness Month. Today is Purple Day, a global day to raise awareness for epilepsy. As a newly minted pediatric nurse years ago, I realized that watching a child having a seizure is pretty scary. Epilepsy is a disorder where seizures can happen suddenly. I was trained to know how to manage a seizure, but lack of awareness and understanding can make it hard and scary for others to know how to respond.

I encourage people to visit the Epilepsy Ontario website to learn how to help someone having a seizure. Raising awareness about epilepsy will help reduce the existing stigma.

There’s no cure for epilepsy. However, proper treatment can help control seizures, assisting the person to live their life to the fullest.

I have two close family members with epilepsy, and I know that resources such as the Epilepsy Waterloo-Wellington agency go a long way to supporting families. It has a team of caring volunteers and staff who are dedicated to improving the quality of life for those with epilepsy and their support network through support, education, advocacy and public awareness.

Thanks to Cambridge neurologists Dr. Kathy Giles and Dr. Dwight Stewart, the staff at Cambridge Memorial Hospital and other caring health professionals who provide care in my Cambridge and North Dumfries community, giving hope to those who are living with epilepsy.

Kawartha Downs

Ms. Laurie Scott: Yesterday I asked the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the member from Peterborough, to make a commitment to Kawartha Downs racetrack and finalize a long-term transfer payment agreement. The track is a vital asset to not just our ridings, but the whole of eastern Ontario.

I was disappointed when the minister did not address my request for a commitment for a long-term deal for Kawartha Downs and instead chose to discuss the steps the Liberal government took to address the issues in the horse racing industry, which they created when they cancelled the Slots at Racetracks Program. It really is a shame, what they’ve done to this once world-class industry in Ontario.

Kawartha Downs is the only track in the province without a five-year deal, and year after year it is forced to just hope and wait and see how many race dates it will receive.

Last year, they did the eleventh hour deal, with only 18 racing dates, down from their usual 90-to-100-date season. Despite this setback, Kawartha Downs went on to host a very successful season, with attendance and wagering second only to Woodbine Racetrack in the province. Despite this success, the request for more dates was denied.

They’re still waiting to hear from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on their purse pools. To ensure that they have enough horses to race, you need to have good pools.

For the future of racing, we are down to the wire. Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, it is time to give Kawartha Downs hope.

Fort York Food Bank

Mr. Han Dong: It’s my pleasure to rise today to recognize and celebrate the achievements of the Fort York Food Bank. The Fort York Food Bank is an important community partner that provides much-needed programs and services for the most vulnerable of my riding of Trinity–Spadina.

Recently, the Fort York Food Bank held their third annual Lucky Ball fundraiser, raising approximately $30,000, and 100% of the donations received went directly to programs and services at the food bank to help the community’s hungry and vulnerable.

The Fort York Food Bank originally focused on providing emergency food supplies, but having witnessed a substantial change in the needs of the community, they evolved from a food program into a community organization that provides an integrated set of services. Over the last 10 years, the food bank has served approximately 100,000 meals through their community kitchen, provided more than $3 million worth of food, and assisted more than 10,000 people through their counselling and advocacy services.

I’m extremely proud of the Fort York Food Bank and the work they do for the vulnerable of our community. I stand today inviting all Ontarians to recognize and celebrate the Fort York Food Bank’s recent achievement and to emphasize the importance of supporting your local food bank and the work they do in your community.

Cuisine in western Mississauga

Mr. Bob Delaney: Speaker, with the gradual warming of the weather and people coming out of hibernation, I think what people are really looking for is a good place to go for a very nice dinner. I just want to invite members and all Ontarians to consider historic downtown Streetsville. In historic downtown Streetsville we’ve got some of the most wonderful restaurants in northwest Mississauga. Not only that, you’re going to get the traditional Streetsville welcome, that western Mississauga welcome, that makes Streetsville such a wonderful place to live, to do business, to raise a family, to start something.

We’ve got some fantastic new restaurants and, in particular, within the span of about three blocks, we’ve got three grade A Italian restaurants. You must come out and try Goodfellas, Gabriel’s and Mondello, wonderful places to come, and make sure you try Saucy. Our Streetsville cuisine also includes some of the finest of South Asian cuisine. When it comes to going out for dinner, not only in Streetsville but in Meadowvale as well—and in Lisgar, we’ve got the Lionheart pub with its traditional Irish and English fare.

This is a place to go for people who like to dine out in Mississauga, and I would encourage more people to come out now that the weather is good and to enjoy our cuisine in western Mississauga.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank all members for their statements.

Private members’ public business

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I beg to inform the House that, pursuant to standing order 98(c), a change has been made to the order of precedence on the ballot list for private members’ public business such that Mr. Yakabuski assumes ballot item number 47 and Mr. McNaughton assumes ballot item number 71.

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on Public Accounts

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I beg leave to present a report on violence against women from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and move the adoption of its recommendations.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Mr. Hardeman presents the committee’s report and moves the adoption of its recommendations.

Does the member wish to make a short statement?

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I’d like to recognize the Auditor General and the committee for their work on this important issue and thank all those who took time to present to the committee.

With that, I move adjournment of the debate.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Mr. Hardeman moves adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Debate adjourned.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: No.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): You’re too late.


Committee sittings

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Speaker, I believe you will find that we have unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The government House leader wishes to put forward a motion without notice. Do we agree? Agreed.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I move that the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs be authorized to meet on Tuesday April 7, 2015, in order to consider Bill 40, An Act to amend the Crop Insurance Act (Ontario), 1996 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Dispense.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’ve got to say the first word.

Mr. Naqvi moves that the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs be authorized to meet on Tuesday, April 7, 2015—

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Dispense.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Dispense? Agreed? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

Order of business

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Speaker, I believe you will find that we have unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding this afternoon’s business.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The government House leader is looking for unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice. Do we agree? Agreed.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I move that the member for Toronto–Danforth assume the time remaining in the third party leadoff speech for Bill 9, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act to require the cessation of coal use to generate electricity at generation facilities.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The government House leader moves that the member from Toronto–Danforth assume the time remaining in the third party leadoff speech for Bill 9—

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Dispense.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Dispense? Do we agree? Agreed. Carried.

Motion agreed to.

Private members’ public business

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find that we have unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding private members’ public business.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The government House leader wishes to put forward a motion without notice. Do we agree? Agreed.


Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I move that, notwithstanding standing order 98(g), notice of ballot item number 45 be waived.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Mr. Naqvi moves that, notwithstanding standing order 98(g), notice of ballot item number 45 be waived.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Dispense.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m not dispensing; I’m done.

Agreed? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: You wanted to read one.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m not going to let you stop me.

It is now time for ministerial statements. The Attorney General.

Statements by the Ministry and Responses

La Francophonie

L’hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Monsieur le Président, 2015 est une année formidable pour tous les Ontariens et Ontariennes et particulièrement pour les francophones et francophiles, les Premières Nations et la Nation métisse qui célèbrent le 400e anniversaire de la présence française en Ontario.

Together, we have the honour of witnessing and participating in the progress of la Francophonie in Ontario.

This year, the International Day and Week of la Francophonie take on a new character which calls us to celebrate in style.

En 2015, l’Ontario commémore les explorations de Samuel de Champlain dans les Pays d’en Haut ainsi que son séjour dans ce qu’est maintenant l’Ontario.

Toutefois, la commémoration des 400 ans de présence française est surtout l’occasion d’exprimer notre fierté, celle de constater que la francophonie ontarienne a des racines bien solides depuis quatre siècles, qu’elle est bien ancrée dans le présent et que son avenir est plus prometteur que jamais.

J’en profite pour souligner que la semaine dernière, la communauté francophone a célébré le 18e anniversaire de SOS Montfort, la mobilisation à l’appui de l’Hôpital Montfort du 22 mars 1997, où plus de 10 000 personnes avaient manifesté au centre municipal d’Ottawa. J’entends toujours l’écho, monsieur le Président : « Montfort fermé—jamais. »

Aujourd’hui, la francophonie ontarienne s’ouvre sur le monde et grandit chaque jour, grâce à sa diversité culturelle et à l’apport de tous ceux et celles qui l’ont choisi comme terre d’accueil. Cette ouverture a trouvé récemment l’une de ses plus belles expressions au sein de l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. En effet, le Canada a maintenant le grand honneur de compter, pour la première fois, l’une des siennes comme secrétaire générale de l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Mes collègues de l’Assemblée législative se souviendront sûrement que l’Ontario a ouvertement appuyé la candidature de Mme Michaëlle Jean à la direction de l’OIF. La candidature fut couronnée de succès lorsque Mme Jean fut désignée secrétaire générale de la Francophonie, l’automne dernier, par la communauté francophone internationale.

The International Organization of la Francophonie is now headed by a great Canadian who also served as chancellor of the University of Ottawa and Governor General of Canada. We should all rejoice in the new direction that Michaëlle Jean wishes to give the international Francophonie.

Permettez-moi de citer le message de Mme Jean à l’occasion de la Journée internationale de la Francophonie :

« Ce que nous fêtons...ce n’est pas seulement le partage d’une langue...

« Ce que nous fêtons, ce sont les missions, les valeurs et les revendications dont nous avons investi cette langue, année après année, à travers la Francophonie.

« Ce que nous fêtons, c’est notre obstination à dire NON, en paroles et en actions, à l’inacceptable et à l’intolérable, au nom de la dignité de la personne humaine, de la dignité et de la liberté.

« Ce que nous fêtons, c’est aussi cette conviction que rien ne peut se construire dans la violence, que rien ne peut se construire dans le rejet ou la haine de l’autre, que rien ne peut se construire dans l’indifférence ou l’égoïsme, que rien ne peut se construire sans l’engagement de tous les citoyens et citoyennes, sans l’engagement des entrepreneurs, des créateurs, des organisations de la société civile, sans la participation effective de la jeunesse et de cette moitié de l’humanité que constituent les femmes. »

Mr. Speaker, these values, this vision of la Francophonie that Ms. Jean speaks of, are shared by the government of Ontario and all of our fellow citizens.

La Francophonie means claiming the right to develop one’s linguistic, cultural, ethnic or generational identity, with full equality of opportunity and full respect for the rights of all.

C’est pour cette raison que nous demandons, avec votre appui, chers collègues, que le financement et le mandat linguistique de la Société Radio-Canada soient pleinement respectés. Radio-Canada est une institution culturelle essentielle pour les communautés francophones en milieu minoritaire en Ontario et au Canada. Ce diffuseur public a besoin de notre appui afin qu’il puisse continuer à jouer un rôle fondamental dans le renforcement et le développement identitaire.

En Ontario, la francophonie est également un espace idéal pour accueillir les immigrants provenant de tous les pays du monde. C’est pourquoi le gouvernement de l’Ontario favorise une cible de 5 % de francophones dans sa stratégie en matière d’immigration, et j’en suis très fière. En accueillant ces nouveaux arrivants à bras ouverts, l’Ontario envoie un message clair aux pays et aux gouvernements que la diversité linguistique est un atout pour une société moderne.

Et notre province s’est jointe au grand mouvement des Rendez-vous de la Francophonie en célébrant notre communauté francophone, comme l’ont fait plus de 270 millions de francophones répartis sur cinq continents.

Dear colleagues, Ontarians will celebrate the 400th anniversary of French presence in Ontario throughout the year. During these province-wide celebrations, government initiatives will take place along with cultural projects planned by organizations and community partners.

La Télévision française de l’Ontario diffuse actuellement la superbe série télé Le Rêve de Champlain. Les Jeux panaméricains sont sur le point de débuter. Les organismes communautaires sont à finaliser leurs projets du 400e anniversaire et les écoles françaises se préparent à mettre en valeur le parcours des francophones de l’Ontario.

Monsieur le Président, on va partager notre belle histoire ici en Ontario, partout au Canada, en France et dans les pays de la Francophonie.

I invite all of you to partake in the 400th-anniversary activities to celebrate this commemorative event, which is a way to promote Ontario as a province that openly welcomes and values the French language and culture.

Together, here at the Legislative Assembly, we have demonstrated unanimity on several occasions on significant issues and challenges for the development of la Francophonie in Ontario, and I thank you very sincerely for your support on behalf of all Canadians.

Je vous invite également à multiplier les efforts pour que l’Ontario maintienne son image de société multiculturelle, tolérante et ouverte sur le monde, un exemple pour l’humanité toute entière.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Merci beaucoup. I should have acknowledged that the Attorney General is also the minister responsible for francophone affairs, so my apologies. Thank you.

Ontario Volunteer Service Awards

Hon. Michael Chan: Speaker, I rise today to support and promote the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards program. Each year in Ontario, more than six million people give their time and skills to improve their communities. That is a lot of generous and kind hearts. The Ontario Volunteer Service Awards celebrate their contribution and their impact on this province.

We are not always aware of the volunteers working around us. They tend to shy away from the spotlight. But they are the ones driving seniors to medical appointments, baking bread at the homeless shelter, translating documents for our newcomers and teaching children the joy of music. They make a lot of things into reality that would not otherwise be possible.

Each year, we travel to communities across the province to give volunteers the thanks they deserve. We began in Guelph last week, and we will conclude in Kingston on June 25. We will visit 39 communities and host 54 ceremonies. Well over 9,000 volunteers will be recognized.

Some have contributed 50, 60 or even more years of service to local organizations. These are incredible numbers. Others are young people just learning the rewards of volunteering.


I know many of my colleagues will celebrate with their constituents at local Volunteer Service Award ceremonies. For those of you who have never attended a ceremony, or have not done so in a little while, I encourage you to do so this year.

Volunteers are truly unsung heroes. They represent active citizenship and what it means to be Ontarians. Let us recognize, celebrate and support our volunteers. Let’s continue to nurture the rich tradition of volunteerism in Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It is now time for responses.

La Francophonie

Mme Gila Martow: Le 20 mars dernier était une journée très importante pour les Ontariens et Ontariennes. En effet, c’est cette date que, chaque année, nous fêtons la Journée internationale de la Francophonie.

Cette journée de célébration mondiale fut créée en 1988 comme un moyen pour 70 états et gouvernements de l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie de célébrer leur lien commun : la langue française.

Je tiens à rappeler à l’Assemblée que la langue française unit 220 millions de locuteurs dans le monde et rassemble 870 millions de francophones, dont plus de 500 000 ici en Ontario. De plus, les Franco-Ontariens représentent la plus grande communauté francophone au Canada, hors Québec. Le 20 mars dernier était donc l’occasion pour les Franco-Ontariens, les francophones du monde entier et les francophiles de l’Ontario d’exprimer leur solidarité et leur désir de vivre ensemble en partageant l’héritage de la langue de Molière.

Je tiens aussi à rappeler que cette année marquera le 400e anniversaire de l’établissement des premiers colons français en Ontario. Je compte bien célébrer cet anniversaire important avec les francophones et francophiles de mon comté de Thornhill et de partout à travers l’Ontario.

Permettez-moi aussi de souligner qu’en juillet de cette année, j’aurai l’honneur de participer à la conférence de l’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, à Berne en Suisse, avec mon collègue parlementaire le député du comté d’Elgin–Middlesex–London.

Finalement, monsieur le Président, je suis bien au fait de la réalité du fait français ici en Ontario, et je tiens à exprimer mon profond désir que la Journée internationale de la Francophonie soit pour nous, Ontariens et Ontariennes, l’occasion de célébrer cette langue qui fait partie intégrante de notre patrimoine provincial.

Je vous remercie.

Le Président (L’hon. Dave Levac): Merci beaucoup.

Ontario Volunteer Service Awards

Ms. Laurie Scott: It’s an honour to rise today on behalf of the PC caucus to respond to the minister’s statement on the Volunteer Service Awards.

When we think of volunteers, we often think of Rotary, Lions, Optimists, Kinsmen, Shriners, agriculture societies, 4-H leaders, churches and schools. Volunteers truly form the bedrock of our communities. They are the lifeblood of literally every town, city, village and rural area of this province.

The men and women who give their time to volunteer in my riding of Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock do so to improve the lives of their neighbours and make their communities better places for everyone to call home. They give of themselves and they give of their talents. They do so in a way without ever expecting to be rewarded, and certainly many of them without ever expecting to be recognized.

This year, more than 9,000 volunteers will be celebrated at 54 Ontario Volunteer Service Awards ceremonies across the province between March and June. I’m looking forward to attending the ceremonies in Lindsay, in the county of Peterborough.

The awards recognize individual volunteers for continuous service to an organization for from five to 60 or more years of service. Youth will also be recognized for two or more years of volunteer service.

The Volunteer Service Awards recognize our volunteers for their hard work, but we also, as legislators, can do more by making it easier to allow them to do what they love. That’s why I was happy to support the resolution of our leader, Jim Wilson, calling on the government to strike a special committee to investigate the regulatory hurdles facing service clubs in the province. From red tape and rules making it difficult to recruit new members or hold fundraisers, to the increasing taxes and fees they pay, government regulations are jeopardizing the future of many service clubs across Ontario. I was pleased to see that that important resolution got the support of all three parties in this Legislature, and hopefully we’ll move this issue forward so that we can get more volunteers to join our many, many associations.

On behalf of, certainly, all the volunteers and residents of my riding, I’d like to say congratulations to all the Volunteer Service Awards recipients. We cannot thank them enough.

Ontario Volunteer Service Awards

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: As the NDP critic for seniors’ affairs, as well as the critic for citizenship, immigration and international trade, I am honoured to rise today to speak about the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards. Celebrated since 1986, 2015 marks the 29th anniversary of this time-honoured tradition. Since its inception, it has awarded over 150,000 volunteers in communities across the province. Taking place from March to June, each year these award ceremonies recognize thousands of men, women and youth for their volunteerism.

The Ontario Volunteer Service Awards recognize adults who have given continuous service to an organization. Volunteers are awarded based on service of five years or more. Sometimes seniors have been awarded for more than 60 years of volunteer service.

Recently, I was honoured to meet two exceptional senior volunteers from London–Fanshawe: Bob Shiell; and Bella Leach, whose community dedication I have spoken about in the House before. Bella, in fact, received a Volunteer Service Award in 2014. Bob was recognized for having served in the London East Lions Club for 50 years, and Bella Leach for her 50 years of service to St. Joseph’s Health Care in London. Both of these lifelong volunteers are truly inspirational.

I love my critic role, I love seniors, and I love seeing seniors volunteer their time in their retirement to causes they have long been committed to or causes they only now have the time to become involved in. It’s a great way for seniors to stay active and engaged as they age. Volunteering can be a source of continuous learning for seniors. They can develop new skills and obtain new knowledge. They can keep their networks active and expand their horizons and gain a real sense of self-fulfillment from donating their time to charity work, church groups, not-for-profits and community centres.

In my community office, I recently met with a steering group for seniors’ issues. They are part of a community organization called Northeast Community Conversations, which tries to create dialogue and awareness around social issues affecting all sorts of groups and demographics in the London community. They grow larger each year, and our recent meeting focused on the issues that are important to seniors and the issues that will become more relevant as our population ages. This steering group takes time out of their busy schedules to volunteer for the betterment of seniors in our community. It was a pleasure to meet with them and see their level of dedication to the volunteer work they do.

I’d like to thank Ontario’s Volunteer Service Award winners, as well as all the unsung volunteers, for the gift of their time for the betterment of our province’s communities.

La Francophonie

Mme France Gélinas: Ça me fait extrêmement plaisir d’avoir quelques minutes pour parler de la Journée internationale de la Francophonie. Comme on le sait tous, la journée, c’était vendredi dernier, le 20 mars. Moi, j’ai certainement profité de l’occasion pour célébrer dans mon comté et cela a été toute une célébration.

Comme tout le monde, on est très fier de savoir que c’est maintenant une Canadienne, Mme Michaëlle Jean, qui est la secrétaire générale de l’OIF, l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. J’étais surprise et très contente de voir que cette année elle a proclamé l’année sous le thème de « J’ai à coeur ma planète! » pour vraiment essayer de mettre le focus sur l’environnement, sur les changements climatiques. C’était très bien de voir le lancement. Elle l’a fait avec plein de jeunes gens.

Il faut dire que dans la Francophonie on est 870 millions de francophones, mais 245 millions d’eux—donc, quasiment un tiers—sont des jeunes. Ce sont des jeunes francophones pour qui, certainement, la planète et l’environnement sont des mots qui résonnent.


Je ne peux pas m’empêcher d’en parler un peu : moi, j’ai un village très, très francophone dans mon comté qui s’appelle Gogama. Pour eux, certainement, l’environnement est quelque chose qui les rend très, très nerveux ces temps-ci. On va se souvenir que, le 7 mars dernier, un train du CN a déraillé, plusieurs wagons ont explosé, et on parle de plus de 37 wagons contenant du pétrole brut qui ont explosé et brûlé juste à l’orée du village. Donc, quand on parle de la francophonie et de l’environnement, certainement, pour plusieurs membres de mon comté, ça résonne très près du coeur.

J’en profite également, étant donné qu’on est dans la célébration des quatre siècles de la présence française en Ontario, pour encourager tout le monde à syntoniser la Télévision française de l’Ontario, TFO. Ils sont en train de diffuser une série en ce moment qui s’appelle Le Rêve de Champlain. Vous pouvez la regarder à la télé, sur vos iPads ou à l’ordinateur. Il y a des petites vignettes avec ça. C’est super bien fait. Je vous garantis que vous allez apprendre quelque chose face à la francophonie en Ontario.

Bonne fête de la Francophonie, monsieur le Président.

Le Président (L’hon. Dave Levac): Merci beaucoup. I thank all members for their statements.



Ms. Sylvia Jones: My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas when private property is damaged it is left to property owners to repair these damages, and the costs can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has asked for a minimum fine for trespassing and an increase on the maximum limit on compensation for damages;

“Whereas Sylvia Jones’s private member’s Bill 36, the Respecting Private Property Act, will amend the current Trespass to Property Act by creating a minimum fine of $500 for trespassing and increasing the maximum compensation for damages to $25,000; and

“Whereas the Respecting Private Property Act will allow property owners to be fairly compensated for destruction to their property, and will also send a message that trespassing is a serious issue by creating a minimum fine;

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

“To support Sylvia Jones’s private member’s Bill 36, the Respecting Private Property Act, and schedule public hearings so that Bill 36 can be passed without further delay.”

For obvious reasons, I support this petition and give it to page Jade to take to the table.

Hospital funding

Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition that contains hundreds of names that were collected by the Ontario Health Coalition. It reads as follows:

“Whereas Health Sciences North is facing major direct cuts to care, including: the closure of beds on the surgical unit, cuts to vital patient support services including hospital cleaning, and more than 87,000 nursing and direct patient care hours per year to be cut from departments across the hospital, including in-patient psychiatry, day surgery, the surgical units, obstetrics, mental health services, oncology, critical care, and the emergency department; and

“Whereas Ontario’s provincial government has cut hospital funding in real dollar terms for the last eight years in a row; and

“Whereas these cuts will risk higher medical accident rates as nursing and direct patient care hours are dramatically cut and will reduce levels of care all across our hospital;

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

“(1) Stop the proposed cuts to Health Sciences North and protect the beds and services.

“(2) Improve overall hospital funding in Ontario with a plan to increase funding at least to the average of other provinces.”

I fully support this petition, Speaker, will affix my name and ask page Alysa to bring it to the Clerk.

Student safety

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I have a petition that is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas there are no mandatory requirements for teachers and school volunteers to have completed CPR training in Ontario;

“Whereas the primary responsibility for the care and safety of students rests with each school board and its employees;

“Whereas the safety of children in elementary schools in Ontario should be paramount;

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

“To work in conjunction with all Ontario school boards to ensure that adequate CPR training is available to school employees and volunteers.”

Speaker, I agree with this, affix my signature to it and give it to page Thomas.

Diagnostic services

Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition that comes from people all across the northeast. It reads as follows:

“Whereas the Ontario government has made ... PET scanning a publicly insured health service available to cancer and cardiac patients” under certain conditions;

“Whereas, since October 2009, insured PET scans are performed in Ottawa, London, Toronto, Hamilton and Thunder Bay; and

“Whereas the city of Greater Sudbury is a hub for health care in northeastern Ontario, with Health Sciences North, its regional cancer program and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to make PET scans available through Health Sciences North, thereby serving and providing equitable access to the citizens” of the northeast.

This is something we’ve been waiting for for a long time, Speaker, so I’ll give it to Connor to bring to the Clerk.

Legal aid

Mr. Bob Delaney: I have a petition addressed to the Ontario Legislative Assembly from our good friends at Mississauga Community Legal Services. It’s entitled “Population-based legal services funding,” and it reads as follows:

“Whereas Mississauga Community Legal Services provides free legal services to legal aid clients within a community of nearly 800,000 population; and

“Whereas legal services in communities like Toronto and Hamilton serve, per capita, fewer people living in poverty, are better staffed and better funded; and

“Whereas Mississauga and Brampton have made progress in having Ontario provide funding for human services on a fair and equitable, population-based model;

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

“That the Ministry of the Attorney General revise the current distribution of allocated funds ... and adopt a population-based model, factoring in population growth rates to ensure Ontario funds are allocated in an efficient, fair and effective manner.”

I’m pleased to sign and to support this petition, and to send it down with page Ranen.

Health care

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s lack of priority funding is causing the closure of the South Bruce Grey Health Centre restorative care Chesley site as of May 1st, 2015; and

“Whereas in three years, the 10 beds dedicated to this program have seen over 300 patients utilize the program and at this time there is a waiting list for this successful program; and

“Whereas currently over 83% of patients are discharged from the restorative care program to home after a two- to eight-week program which has prepared them to confidently return home, recognizing this program increases their quality of life through the regaining of strength, balance and independence; and

“Whereas the closure of this program will deprive seniors and other eligible clients from the many health and mobility benefits that the restorative care program offers; and

“Whereas the alternative to the restorative care program will see patients staying in active medical beds longer, while they wait for long-term care; and

“Whereas the return of investment on the restorative care program far exceeds conventional approaches when considering the value of quality of life in the patients’ own home as compared to a long-term-care facility; and

“Whereas it is our understanding that the CCAC has cut back its services enabling patients to remain confidently in their home;

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

“That the South Bruce Grey Health Centre restorative care Chesley site be recognized for its success; and for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to showcase this program as a model to be followed across the province; and

“That the closing of the South Bruce Grey Health Centre restorative care Chesley site on May 1st, 2015, not proceed and the provincial government support this health care model with base funding as an investment in the health and welfare of patients so they can confidently remain in their home.”

I agree with this long petition. I’ll affix my name to it and send it to the table with our page Danielle.

Gasoline prices

Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition that was collected by Mr. Juergen Kirchmann. He lives on Rockwood Avenue North in Thunder Bay. It reads as follows:

“Whereas northern Ontario motorists continue to be subject to wild fluctuations in the price of gasoline; and

“Whereas the province could eliminate opportunistic price gouging and deliver fair, stable and predictable fuel prices; and

“Whereas five provinces and many US states already have some sort of gas-price regulation; and

“Whereas jurisdictions with gas-price regulation have seen an end to wild price fluctuations, a shrinking of price discrepancies between urban and rural communities and lower annualized gas prices;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Mandate the Ontario Energy Board to monitor the price of gasoline across Ontario in order to reduce price volatility and unfair regional price differences while encouraging competition.”

I fully support this petition. I will affix my name to it and ask Jade to bring it to the Clerk.


Water fluoridation

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I have a petition addressed to the Ontario Legislative Assembly:

“Fluoridate All Ontario Drinking Water.

“Whereas fluoride is a mineral that exists naturally in virtually all water supplies, even the ocean; and

“Whereas scientific studies conducted during the past 70 years have consistently shown that the fluoridation of community water supplies is a safe and effective means of preventing dental decay, and is a public health measure endorsed by more than 90 national and international health organizations; and

“Whereas dental decay is the second-most frequent condition suffered by children, and is one of the leading causes of absences from school; and

“Whereas Health Canada has determined that the optimal concentration of fluoride in municipal drinking water for dental health is 0.7 mg/L, providing optimal dental health benefits, and well below the maximum acceptable concentrations; and

“Whereas the decision to add fluoride to municipal drinking water is a patchwork of individual choices across Ontario, with municipal councils often vulnerable to the influence of misinformation, and studies of questionable or no scientific merit;

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

“That the ministries of the government of Ontario adopt the number one recommendation made by the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health in a 2012 report on oral health in Ontario, and amend all applicable legislation and regulations to make the fluoridation of municipal drinking water mandatory in all municipal water systems across the province of Ontario.”

I agree with the petition, affix my name, and give it to page Marin to bring forward.


Ms. Laurie Scott: “Stop the Carbon Tax Petition.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Liberal government has indicated they plan on introducing a new carbon tax in 2015; and

“Whereas Ontario taxpayers have already been burdened with a health tax of $300 to $900 per person that doesn’t necessarily go into health care, a $2-billion smart meter program that failed to conserve energy, and households are paying almost $700 more annually for unaffordable subsidies under the Green Energy Act; and

“Whereas a carbon tax scheme would increase the cost of everyday goods including gasoline and home heating; and

“Whereas the government continues to run unaffordable deficits without a plan to reduce spending while collecting $30 billion more annually in tax revenues than 11 years ago; and

“Whereas the aforementioned points lead to the conclusion that the government is seeking justification to raise taxes to pay for their excessive spending, without accomplishing any concrete targets;

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

“To abandon the idea of introducing yet another unaffordable and ineffective tax on Ontario families and businesses.”

It is signed by hundreds of people from my riding and I will hand it over to page Sarah.

Home care

Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition that comes from Allen Wood in Peterborough. It goes as follows:

“Five day home care guarantee for seniors.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas many Ontarians need health care services at home and 6,100 people are currently on wait-lists for” home “care;

“Whereas waiting for over 200 days for home care is unacceptable;

“Whereas eliminating the wait-lists won’t require any new funding if the government caps hospital CEO salaries, finds administrative efficiencies in the local health integration networks (LHINs) and community care access centres (CCACs), standardizes procurement policies and streamlines administration costs;”

They “petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:

“That a five-day home care guarantee is established and existing wait-lists eliminated so that Ontarians receive the care they need within a reasonable time frame.”

I fully support this petition, will affix my name to it, and ask Rahul to bring it to the Clerk.

Water fluoridation

Ms. Daiene Vernile: I have a petition to the Ontario Legislative Assembly. It is titled “Fluoridate All Ontario Drinking Water.”

“Whereas fluoride is a mineral that exists naturally in virtually all water supplies, even the ocean; and

“Whereas scientific studies conducted during the past 70 years have consistently shown that the fluoridation of community water supplies is a safe and effective means of preventing dental decay, and is a public health measure endorsed by more than 90 national and international health organizations; and

“Whereas dental decay is the second-most frequent condition suffered by children, and is one of the leading causes of absences from school; and

“Whereas Health Canada has determined that the optimal concentration of fluoride in municipal drinking water for dental health is 0.7 mg/L, providing optimal dental health benefits, and well below the maximum acceptable concentrations; and

“Whereas the decision to add fluoride to municipal drinking water is a patchwork of individual choices across Ontario, with municipal councils often vulnerable to the influence of misinformation, and studies of questionable or no scientific merit;

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

“That the ministries of the government of Ontario adopt the ... recommendation made by the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health in a 2012 report on oral health in Ontario, and amend all applicable legislation and regulations to make the fluoridation of municipal drinking water mandatory in all municipal water systems across the province of Ontario.”

I will add my name to this and give this to page Thomas.


Ms. Sylvia Jones: My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas when private property is damaged it is left to property owners to repair these damages, and the costs can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has asked for a minimum fine for trespassing and an increase on the maximum limit on compensation for damages;

“Whereas Sylvia Jones’s private member’s Bill 36, the Respecting Private Property Act, will amend the current Trespass to Property Act by creating a minimum fine of $500 for trespassing and increasing the maximum compensation for damages to $25,000; and

“Whereas the Respecting Private Property Act will allow property owners to be fairly compensated for destruction to their property, and will also send a message that trespassing is a serious issue by creating a minimum fine;

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

“To support Sylvia Jones’s private member’s Bill 36, the Respecting Private Property Act, and schedule public hearings so that Bill 36 can be passed without further delay.”

For obvious reasons, I support this petition and give it to page Ranen, from the beautiful riding of Dufferin–Caledon, to take to the table.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The time for petitions has expired.

Orders of the day.

Private Members’ Public Business

Terry Fox Day Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur le Jour de Terry Fox

Ms. Wong moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 61, An Act to proclaim Terry Fox Day / Projet de loi 61, Loi proclamant le Jour de Terry Fox.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for her presentation.

The member for Scarborough–Agincourt.

Ms. Soo Wong: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is an honour to rise in the House today to speak on second reading of my private member’s bill, Bill 61, An Act to proclaim Terry Fox Day.

If passed, this bill would proclaim the second Sunday after Labour Day of each year as Terry Fox Day.

To begin our discussion on this bill, I think it is only fitting to start with the story of Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope, a journey that has inspired millions of people to take action in the fight against cancer.

Born in Manitoba and raised in British Columbia, Terry was an active teenager who loved sports. A star athlete in high school, Terry is often remembered as competitive and determined never to let anything hold him back.

Tragically, at the age of 18, he was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right leg. Due to the lack of treatment options available at the time, doctors were forced to amputate his leg six inches above the knee.

Overcome by the suffering he saw in the hospital of other cancer patients, many of whom were young children, Terry decided to take action. He decided that he would run across Canada to raise money for cancer research and awareness. Terry would call his journey the Marathon of Hope. Pledging to raise $1 million, he began his journey on April 12, 1980, setting out from St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Ontario was the tipping point where Terry’s dedication to find a cure caught on. While he was running through Ontario, word of his journey and enthusiasm spread across the country. He was greeted at every stop by crowds of well-wishers and supporters. It was in this province that Terry’s dream became a national dream. It was here that led to his new goal: to raise $1 for every Canadian for cancer research.


When Terry reached Toronto, he was greeted by over 10,000 supporters. I remember back then being part of the crowd—I was in my last year of high school; I took a day off, I think—greeting him at city hall. Thousands of supporters across the city came to join him on University Avenue as well as at city hall, as I said.

On July 10, 1980, Terry arrived in Scarborough, where he was greeted in a welcoming ceremony at Scarborough Civic Centre, just outside my riding of Scarborough–Agincourt.

Initially, organizers of the ceremony were worried that no one would be there to welcome him. Well, were they ever wrong. Thousands of Scarborough residents greeted him as he arrived at Albert Campbell Square. People filled the rotunda to hear him speak. When he arrived, Terry was appointed the honorary mayor of Scarborough for the day, and the city made a $5,000 contribution towards the Marathon of Hope.

As Terry’s brother Fred Fox shared with me, it was in Scarborough that Terry gave one of the most passionate speeches of his journey. Terry told thousands of people who came to Scarborough that he did not want to be famous for the run. He said he was just a guy running across the country to collect money for cancer research. He then urged the crowd that if he didn’t finish, others needed to continue. “It’s got to keep going without me,” Terry said.

Terry Fox’s journey lasted a total of 143 days and 5,373 kilometres. Unfortunately, Terry’s journey came to an end outside of Thunder Bay. Even though Terry’s time running was over, he succeeded in creating a lasting legacy that has continued to live on through the annual Terry Fox Run. The first Terry Fox Run was held in his memory in September 1981, one year after his journey ended, on a day chosen by Terry himself before he passed away.

Named one of the greatest Canadians, Terry Fox was not just a guy. Since his journey began in 1980, Terry Fox has been a vital symbol of hope for Canadians. His dedication to devoting his life to finding a cure for cancer through the Marathon of Hope has inspired us all. That is why, every year, on the second Sunday after Labour Day, thousands of Ontarians do their part to ensure that his memory lives on by running or walking in one of the many Terry Fox Runs—or National School Run Days —across this province. In fact, last year, every member in this House had at least one Terry Fox Run take place in their riding. I know that some of you, including our Premier, take part in this annual run each year.

It is clear that Terry Fox’s visit to Scarborough has had a lasting impression on my riding of Scarborough–Agincourt, and I’m honoured to bring this bill forward on behalf of my constituents.

We are joined in the House today by current and former staff at Terry Fox Public School, an elementary school in my riding. Named in honour of Terry, the school opened in 1981, the same year as the first Terry Fox Run. Since 1984, the school has honoured the memory of Terry and his Marathon of Hope by organizing the annual Terry Fox Run, with all proceeds going to the Terry Fox Foundation. To date, the school has raised $83,000.

I’d like to thank teacher Alisa Van Der Toorn, who’s here with us today, for organizing the annual run and keeping Terry’s legacy alive at the school. Thank you, Alisa.


Ms. Soo Wong: Speaking with the current and former staff, it is clear that Terry Fox Public School continues to embody the values of Terry Fox, operating under the motto “Living and learning with courage.” No more clearly is this illustrated than by one former student who, after beating childhood cancer, continues to come back to the school to share her experience with other students. In doing so, she’s raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with this disease.

I also want to take this time, Mr. Speaker, to recognize the talented teachers and staff who work at Terry Fox Public School—truly living and teaching with courage. One dynamic teacher and vice-principal I would like to recognize is Scott Gardner—and I know he’s watching right now—who has influenced the lives of many Terry Fox students academically, athletically and emotionally. In 2009, Scott was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. Despite this, he continues to impart his courage, strength of character, perseverance and determination as he battles his illness.

Speaker, I share these stories today because they motivate us to carry on Terry’s dream: to find an end to cancer.

Today, Terry Fox’s dream to raise money for cancer research and awareness has had a profound effect on millions of lives around the world. When Terry lost his leg to cancer in 1977, he was told that he only had a 50% chance of survival. Now Ontarians with the same cancer have survival rates of nearly 80%, and a similar diagnosis no longer risks the loss of limbs. Such scientific and medical advancements have been made possible by money raised in Terry Fox’s name each year.

This September, millions of people around the world will take part in their own Marathons of Hope. The Terry Fox Run has become the world’s largest one-day cancer fundraiser. These runs have now contributed to raising over $650 million for cancer research through the Terry Fox Foundation.

In 2013, the Terry Fox Foundation directed $23.5 million to cancer research programs. Such funds support hospitals in Toronto like SickKids and Sunnybrook, as well as universities and research institutes across this country, who are working towards early diagnoses, advances in treatment and the eventual cure for cancer.

Some of the achievements as a result of the Terry Fox Run include: early lung cancer diagnosis and detection, better understanding of the genetics behind childhood brain cancer and better management of prostate cancer through the use of biomarkers. It is clear that we have made amazing advancements in cancer detection and treatments since Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope. But the journey is not over, and I’m sure that everyone here, and those who are watching today, knows somebody whose life has been affected by cancer. We still have many hurdles to face, and we must continue to support the researchers, medical staff, front-line workers, patients and families to beat cancer.

Proclaiming the second Sunday after Labour Day as Terry Fox Day in Ontario not only contributes to the preservation of Terry’s dream to find a cure for cancer, but it will also serve as a yearly reminder that we must spread his message of courage, hope and determination. Proclaiming Terry Fox Day also gives us the opportunity to recognize the important work being done by the Terry Fox Foundation and the hard work and dedication of many of the volunteers who organize and participate in the run each year.

Last year, Terry Fox’s home province of British Columbia proclaimed the same day as Terry Fox Day. It is only appropriate that Ontario join BC in recognizing the significance of what Terry Fox tried to accomplish. At each stop he made, his words of courage and hope captured the hearts of so many Ontarians, inspiring them to keep his dream alive.

I would like to thank all our guests who are here today at Queen’s Park to hear us speak to the bill and my colleagues in the House for being here to take part in the debate on second reading of Bill 61. I hope I can count on your support, so that we can pass this bill before the House rises for the summer. In doing so, we will honour the 35th anniversary of the Terry Fox Run this September by proclaiming the second Sunday after Labour Day as Terry Fox Day in Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Bill Walker: I’d like to start off by commending my colleague Soo for bringing this bill forward. On behalf of my constituents in Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, I am pleased to rise in the House today and voice our support for the Terry Fox Day Act.

It has been 35 years since I watched Terry run halfway across this vast country on one leg. Terry Fox is my hero. To me, proclaiming Terry Fox Day is important in two ways: so we can keep going with our efforts in outrunning cancer, and so we can keep exemplifying Terry and his role in shaping our Canadian identity. The Marathon of Hope ingrained in me the most sincere respect for Terry and everything this young man from Port Coquitlam, B.C., stood for: strength through adversity, being the best person you can be, and never giving up.

To that end, I offer this quote by Terry: “I don’t feel that this is unfair. That’s the thing about cancer. I’m not the only one, it happens all the time to people. I’m not special. This just intensifies what I did. It gives it more meaning. It’ll inspire more people. I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made possible if you try.”

I am proud that we continue to carry Terry’s torch with the Terry Fox Run, and I am proud to say that I started and organized the Wiarton Terry Fox Run for 10 years with colleagues Marcy McGill, Suzy Richardson, Susan Given, and Cris and Richard Bouillon, and that run still continues today due to the efforts of a lot of those volunteers.


Today almost every community and a majority of schools celebrate this great Canadian hero by hitting the streets or schoolyards to raise money for cancer research and to keep Terry’s hope alive. In fact, it pleases me to know that people across the world, from students in the United Arab Emirates and Morocco to Singapore and China continue to be inspired by Terry and hold their own Terry Fox Runs in support of cancer research.

I myself am a runner and have always been a strong proponent of engaging people to lead healthier and more active lives. That is why you often hear me advocating in this House for more mandatory daily activities for our children and adults alike. I’m concerned with our obesity numbers and the fact that despite the advice we are getting, some of our kids continue to go without the daily needed physical activity.

As cancer continues to claim the lives of 7.6 million people every year, four million of whom die prematurely, aged between 30 and 69 years, I think it is absolutely important that we do more.

On a personal note, I lost my sister Marj and my late mother, Jean; and my sister Bonnie and sister-in-law Joanne are breast cancer survivors. It’s definitely very personal to a lot of us, and something we always have to be cognizant of.

I think that we, as legislators, can facilitate getting more of our young people—all people, in fact—to embrace wellness and fitness, and I think we can be giving them the tools to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Thank you to all of those who have supported Terry’s cause. Without you there would be no run, no resources for cancer research and, most importantly, no recognition of people and their families who battle this terrible disease.

Courage, hope and determination are the epitome of Terry Fox. Thank you, Terry Fox. One day we will find a cure.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Wayne Gates: First, I’d like to welcome the guests here today to listen to the debate.

Thank you for allowing me to speak today on the Terry Fox Day Act. I don’t think I need to explain to anyone in this House who Terry Fox was. His compassion, his courage and his inspirational life story have made Terry Fox a household name right across Canada.

Terry was born in Winnipeg on July 28, 1958. It was at the age of 18, as a first-year university student and a very good athlete, when Terry was first diagnosed with bone cancer. That cancer would result in the amputation of his right leg, six inches above the knee. While many others would have seen defeat, Terry saw hope. Inspired by those he witnessed suffering from cancer, children in particular, Terry began his Marathon of Hope in 1980, beginning in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Think about this: He ran 26 miles per day, seven days a week with a goal of running across Canada to raise money to fight cancer.

As many of you know, Terry didn’t get to see that goal. He was forced to stop his incredible marathon in Thunder Bay, after running 5,373 kilometres in 143 days. He was forced to stop because of a recurrence of cancer that took his life in 1981.

Inspired by his determination and his incredible journey to bring hope to those fighting against cancer, millions of people from across 25 countries run in Terry Fox’s name every year and carry on his legacy.

Named as one of the greatest Canadians, his story continues to inspire the world. Every year, I participate in the Terry Fox Run in Niagara Falls. I’m happy to say that there are Terry Fox Runs in almost every community in Niagara.

I’m also proud to say that Terry Fox ran through Niagara Falls during his Marathon of Hope in 1980. At that time, he was greeted by the mayor, Wayne Thomson. It was incredible that there were only 30 to 40 people to greet Terry that day and to see the Falls and go down the parkway. The former mayor, Wayne Thomson, actually continues to represent Niagara Falls as a city councillor today.

As you can imagine, our city is incredibly supportive of the Terry Fox Run. Every year, local MPs, the mayor, his family, city councillors and local high schools all support the run. My daughter, who goes to St. Mike’s, is a cheerleader, and they’re there, cheering on the runners.

Our city has a proud history of supporting the run. The chair of the first Terry Fox Run committee in 1985 was Dan D’Addio, a man with a big heart who himself has also been recognized by the city of Niagara Falls.

I’d also like to take a moment and recognize Les—I’m going to try to get this name right—Potapczyk, for being the chair of the Terry Fox Run committee in Niagara Falls. Because of his incredible hard work, and the volunteers, the event is an amazing success every year.

It’s so great to see our community come together and support such a worthy cause.

Thanks to Terry’s work and his incredible life, millions of dollars have been raised to fight cancer. Every year, treatments are advancing, and people who Terry never met get to live full and wonderful lives because of the work he started. Terry Fox makes us all proud to be Canadian.

Mr. Speaker, as we celebrate 35 years of the Marathon of Hope, I encourage everyone to consider participating in this year’s Terry Fox Run in their own community. By continuing on Terry’s Marathon of Hope, we become an example of all the great things this country stands for: compassion and the ability to work together.

Working together, we can recognize Terry’s dream of curing cancer. I think that’s all our dream because we’ve all been touched by cancer in some way or another with our family members. Working together—I like using those words, “working together”—we can make sure that Terry Fox lives on in all of us. We can commemorate a true hero and pay homage to his incredible spirit.

I’m happy to support any motion that gives recognition to Terry Fox. There are very few people who are more deserving. I’d like to commend the member for taking the time to make sure that Terry receives the recognition he deserves. It may not be much, but it is the least we can do for such a great man.

Mr. Speaker, I’m happy to stand in this House today and pay tribute to one of this country’s greatest heroes, a man whose story inspires not only us here in Ontario but people from around the world.

I want to finish this by pointing out one fact: When Terry began his Marathon of Hope, he was running to raise one dollar for every Canadian in the name of fighting cancer. At that time, we had 23 million people living in Canada. Though people admired Terry, they thought it couldn’t be done. They thought he’d never be able to raise that amount of money in 1980. As this story illustrates, Terry was never afraid of hope. To this day—now think about this—over $650 million has been raised in Terry’s name to fight cancer. That’s why I talked about the Niagara Falls story earlier in this: because people didn’t realize the courage that had happened in 1980. They didn’t realize what was going on but they certainly do today.

I want to finish by saying that although Terry is no longer with us, make no mistake about it, his marathon and his life continue to give us hope.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate.

Hon. Bill Mauro: I want to begin by thanking the member from Scarborough–Agincourt, Soo Wong, for bringing this forward. It’s such an incredibly simple, obvious and good idea that I’m a little disappointed I didn’t think about it myself, actually, to tell you the truth, Soo. It’s obviously a great idea, and I have no doubt this will be roundly supported by all in the House.

Speaker, the word “hero” is a word perhaps that gets used a little bit too loosely in our society today; at least that’s something that I’ve always felt. I try not to assign the term too easily. I have two in my life who I have always thought of and who have inspired me. The first one: I can remember growing up as a young man, being inspired by Martin Luther King and listening to him speak and seeing what he was doing, understanding probably that he was putting his life at risk and on the line for what he was doing. The other hero for me, without a doubt, was Terry Fox. I have two pictures hanging on the wall of my constituency office. One is of Martin Luther King, and the other one is of Terry Fox.

Clearly what this young man at the time has managed to accomplish is quite remarkable, and I think there’s nobody who would dispute that in the chamber here today.

I’ve had the pleasure of being a political representative for going on 19 years now, six on Thunder Bay city council and into my 13th year here in the provincial Legislature. In all of that time, I’ve had the good fortune to meet a lot of interesting people, like all of us do, but I can tell you, in my going on 19 years, I’ve asked for the opportunity to have my picture taken only once with somebody. I felt like I was intruding in their space. It was when Terry Fox’s parents were in Thunder Bay for the dedication of the monument to mark the end of Terry’s run. Rolly and Betty Fox were in Thunder Bay to mark the moving of the monument from one side of the highway to the other—a really incredible monument and a great testament to what Terry did. I would encourage you, if you’re driving through Thunder Bay, to stop and take a look and visit that site.


They were there for the re-dedication. I can remember going up to them and saying, “Listen, would you mind if I had a photograph taken with you?”—such was the impact of their son on me and many others. It’s a photograph that, to this day, I very much cherish.

We think of him and what he has done, obviously, for cancer research—as we’ve heard, $650 million and counting—but I can’t help but focus at least just a little bit on the fact that this young man ran the equivalent of a marathon a day, for 142 consecutive days, on one leg.

Now, if anybody else—and I heard my colleague across the way say he’s a runner, as am I. I’ve run a handful of marathons. I know what it feels like. I know the training that goes into running one. Terry Fox ran 142 of them, on consecutive days, on one leg. The athletic achievement of what he managed to accomplish just is hard to compare. It may be one of the greatest athletic achievements of all time. We tend not to think about it, necessarily, in that regard.

I think that this idea is so obvious, so good, so strong and so powerful, to continue supporting this young man. We were all drawn in to his aura. I think when we saw him interviewed, he was so humble. He was so easily able to connect with all of us. He had an aura about him, I think, that to this day is perpetuated and is maintained, and it’s one of the reasons why his run every September is still so successful.

I participate—not every year, but as many years as I can. I thank my good buddy Donny Morrison, in Thunder Bay, and the Rotarians and all the other volunteers who get together to continue to help to perpetuate Terry’s memory through fundraising events like that one—a truly remarkable story, a great Canadian hero, if I could close by saying that. He truly fits the bill. It was a great pleasure for me to meet with his family very briefly.

Again, I want to close by thanking our member for bringing this forward. It’s long overdue and an absolutely fantastic idea.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Jim McDonell: I’m humbled today to rise to speak to the creation of a day in September to commemorate the memory of Terry Fox. I would be hard-pressed to think of a more deserving Canadian than Terry Fox—his unselfish determination to bring attention to the impact that cancer is having on our society today and the need to make the search for a cure such a public priority.

Let’s, for a moment, think of what this young man accomplished. Through his determination, this young man organized a walk across this great country of ours, literally on one leg, getting halfway, to Thunder Bay, before he was stopped by the cancer that eventually took his life.

I’m sure there were many days, especially at the start and through the province of Quebec, when he thought he was wasting the short time that he had left—days of bad weather, rain and snow, and through a great amount of pain; days where very few people bothered to show up or even acknowledge that the venture was under way. But he endured and never gave up.

This single act of endurance acted like a lightning rod to bring Canadians together to make cancer fundraising and research the number one priority of Canadians over the last 35 years. This research has allowed great strides to be made in the development of the treatment and cures of many of the different types of cancer. In fact, if Terry was alive today, he would likely have survived the cancer that took his life.

But we have so much more to do. Canadians have rallied to continue his fight. I am proud to say that although I haven’t participated in every one of the Marathon of Hope events, I have been able to walk, run or bike through most.

Our community, like most communities in our country, continues to host this terrific annual event. Volunteers work hard, spending weeks and months planning and hosting this wonderful event. What results is the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research—raising more than $650 million to combat this terrible disease.

Everyone knows so many people who have succumbed to cancer. Both my wife and I lost our dads to cancer, watching helplessly as they suffered through their final days. Back then, cancer took no prisoners. Over the years, many people have suffered the same fate with this terrible disease. So many people in our community—I can think of Joan P. MacDonald, Bev Schaefer, Sylvia Thomson, Ray “Gill” McDonell and many others who have left a mark in the community—all left us far too young because of this terrible disease.

But there is good news. Because of the work Terry Fox started, and continued by so many others, many types of cancer are curable today, and many other people are living longer and more comfortably than those who suffered not so long ago.

But there is much more to do. It is our duty to keep Terry’s memory alive by continuing the fight he started 35 years ago to find the cure for all these many different types of cancer. I trust this bill will pull all parties together to support this worthwhile endeavour to honour this young Canadian who, through great personal sacrifice, took up the fight against this terrible disease and whose initiative has brought us so far along in this terrible battle.

I thank the member for Scarborough–Agincourt for bringing this bill up. I trust and hope it has more success than Ted Chudleigh did on this side, who twice put this bill through and never was able to actually see it finally put into law.

I think all members of the House are supporting this bill and would like to see it not only pass today, but move through, so we can finally acknowledge this great Canadian. Thank you.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Paul Miller: This bill honours Terry Fox, one of our true national heroes. Terry Fox may not have been from Ontario, but he was, without question, a great Canadian.

He was born in Manitoba and grew up in British Columbia. He prepared for his Marathon of Hope by running a marathon in Prince George, BC. His run began in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and he ran through Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Quebec before reaching Ontario.

Think about that achievement, Speaker. After battling cancer and losing a leg, Terry Fox had the energy and determination to run long distance in seven of our 10 provinces.

Terry crossed into Ontario at the town of Hawkesbury on the last Saturday in June. He was met by hundreds of residents, a brass band playing and thousands of balloons. The OPP gave him an escort through the province.

It was perfectly timed and fitting that Terry Fox, one of our greatest Canadians, entered Canada’s capital city on July 1, 1980. It is now called Canada Day, but back then it was still known as Dominion Day. In Ottawa, he met the Governor General and the Prime Minister. In front of 16,000 fans he performed the ceremonial kickoff at the CFL game between the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. There’s another historical fact: Back in the day, we had two CFL teams called the Roughriders.

On July 11, Terry Fox reached Toronto, where he was greeted by a crowd of 10,000 people. On July 14, Terry reached my home city of Hamilton. He spoke in front of an enthralled crowd at the Royal Botanical Gardens. In Hamilton, 1960 Canadian marathon champion Gord Dickson gave Terry his gold medal. Gord Dickson’s words were that “the young fellow was running the greatest race of all” time.

Over the next two months, Terry continued his run through our great province of Ontario. He made it just as far as Thunder Bay, where he was forced to halt his run on September 1.

It’s fitting that Terry Fox was a sporting star before he became a national hero. When he was growing up, Terry played soccer, rugby and baseball. Initially, he only took up cross-country running to impress his junior high school basketball coach. Even though he wasn’t the tallest, his real passion for basketball and his sheer perseverance earned him a starting position on his high school team. In grade 12, he shared his high school athlete of the year award with his best friend.

The ordeal of cancer treatment, chemotherapy and a leg amputation didn’t hold this young man back. It fired his determination to succeed, to live his life as he wished and to help others find courage to fight this terrible disease.

He won three national titles in wheelchair basketball and he was named an all-star by the North American Wheelchair Basketball Association—quite a feat.

The story of Terry Fox has been a source of inspiration to those battling cancer for 35 years now. It’s incredible to think how time has flown. Most Ontarians weren’t even born when Terry was making his monumental run, but the memory and inspiration of Terry Fox lives on among our young people. They don’t need to see him on live TV or read about him in the daily newspapers to be inspired by his story and his message. Each September, schools throughout Canada organize their own Terry Fox Runs in support of cancer research. This year, Terry Fox National School Run Day will be held on September 30. This bill before us proclaims the second Sunday after Labour Day in each year to be Terry Fox Day. I can think of no more perfect day, as that is the day each year on which tens of thousands of Ontarians and Canadians take part in the annual Terry Fox Run.


The Terry Fox Run is the largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research, not only in Canada, but the world. Over $650 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry’s name. Speaker, that’s incredible: a solid, concrete achievement by this young man. We should recognize that it’s an achievement shared by all those who take part in the Terry Fox Run and help organize it. We can only estimate how many lives have been saved by this research and because of the flame that Terry lit. He shone light on the poor state of cancer research funding at the time, and he was an inspiration to millions.

Terry Fox has been honoured in cities, towns and villages across Canada. There are 14 schools and 15 roads in Canada named after Terry. He was the youngest person ever named as a Companion of the Order of Canada. Back in 2004, the CBC produced a television series and held public votes to determine who were the greatest Canadians. At the top of that list, who did we find? Tommy Douglas and Terry Fox: two true heroes of Canada who, in very different ways, contributed so much to the health care of Canadians.

Canadians truly value their health, and it shows. British Columbia has recently enacted a law proclaiming the second Sunday after Labour Day in each year to be Terry Fox Day. Their first Terry Fox Day will be held this September, and in fact, if we can quickly manage to get this bill through reading and royal assent, Ontario can match BC in having its first Terry Fox Day this September too.

I support this bill, and I hope it has better sailing than the average private member’s bill does. Let’s get this bill passed so that Ontario will have a Terry Fox Day in September. Let’s not allow BC to have the only gold medal; we want a share in that gold medal.

I also, in closing, would like to congratulate the member from Scarborough–Agincourt for this fine endeavour. We certainly are 100% behind you.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I am honoured to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Cambridge in support of Bill 61, An Act to proclaim Terry Fox Day. In my wholehearted support, I would like to share some of my experiences with this young man.

When Terry Fox ended his Marathon of Hope outside Thunder Bay in 1980, I was working as a pediatric nurse just down the street here at SickKids in Toronto. Terry’s courageous journey touched us all. It was particularly meaningful to many of us working in pediatric oncology at SickKids at the time. We were surrounded each day by children and young adults engaged in their own difficult, and sometimes unsuccessful, battles with cancer.

Children and their parents were glued to the television set, not only watching Terry run a marathon every day, but running a marathon on a right-leg prosthesis. It was incredible. They watched him struggle and persevere in order to raise awareness and to raise funds in support of cancer research. These patients and their parents told me about how inspired they were in their own struggles—their own journeys—by Terry’s Marathon of Hope. His run was about raising money, but for these folks it was also about the strength and the courage to fight, despite incredibly difficult circumstances. Terry helped patients all over Canada and all over the world to find the strength within themselves to fight on.

Terry’s run brought to the forefront of people’s minds the terrible impacts of cancer. It caused all of us to stand up and take notice, and motivated us to work for change. We were inspired by the Marathon of Hope, not only as Canadians, but people all over the world as well.

I was speaking to my intern Clare about Terry’s legacy the other day and she told me about her experiences moving from British Columbia, Terry’s home, to Hong Kong as a young child. She was nervous to move to an unfamiliar city, but arriving in the fall, she was surprised to find she could participate in a Terry Fox Run in her new city. This demonstrates how universal the story and spirit of Terry Fox is. We can participate here in Canada or halfway around the world, but the message remains the same: We must work to support the research that continues to find cures and treatments for cancer.

Many of the children who I met in the pediatric oncology unit at SickKids were suffering from leukemia. Leukemia disproportionately affects children and accounts for one third of childhood cancers. Most of the children had ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which makes up about 80% of all cases of leukemia.

In the 35 years since Terry’s run, the survival rate for ALL has risen steadily and is now around 85%. Children with ALL are now much more likely to live long and happy lives, and the $650 million raised by Terry Fox Runs across the world has been instrumental in funding the research that has gotten us to this point.

There are two annual runs in my riding, one in Ayr and one in Cambridge. Members of our community come together to walk, jog and run with their families and friends to remember Terry and to raise money. I’m proud to participate each year, and to contribute to a global movement that has meant so much to so many.

Again, I am honoured to rise today to speak in support of this bill to institute a day to officially honour Terry Fox. We Ontarians can take this day each year to look back on what Terry Fox has meant to us.

Congratulations to the member for Scarborough–Agincourt for bringing this worthy bill forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Laurie Scott: I’m proud to speak to Bill 61, the Terry Fox Day Act, and to commend the member for Scarborough–Agincourt for bringing this bill forward again, and to also welcome the Terry Fox guests we have in the gallery with us.

Thirty-five years ago, on April 12, Terry Fox began what was to be known as the Marathon of Hope. Terry, who lost his leg in 1977 as a result of bone cancer, wanted to run across Canada and raise money for cancer research and awareness. After a fairly quiet beginning in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the Marathon of Hope quickly gained momentum, and Terry Fox became a household hero and star as he worked his way across our country over the next four and a half months.

His fierce determination and remarkable personal courage captured the hearts of Canadians and raised awareness of the need to find a cure for cancer. As has been said here in the Legislature today, he ran 40 kilometres every day for 143 days before his disease forced him to stop halfway across the country. It came to an end on September 1 of that year in Thunder Bay, when they discovered that the cancer had returned to his body, and he died the following June 28.

But since that day, a remarkable $650 million has been raised in his name worldwide through the Terry Fox Foundation, and he truly inspired many Canadians to carry on where he left off. Now, over 800 communities across Canada have Terry Fox Runs one Sunday each year in September, when participants walk, jog and bike in memory of Terry Fox, and run his historic Marathon of Hope. I believe it is the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research.

Certainly in my riding, the Terry Fox Run is held in communities including Beaverton, Bobcaygeon, Haliburton, Lindsay and Minden, and I usually participate in one of them. There are thousands of volunteers, like Diane Peacock, the chair of the Minden Terry Fox Run, who emailed me right away to say, “Terry Fox Day: We need it.” I knew that the member for Scarborough–Agincourt was already on it, and I said, “We are going to be debating it.” I asked Diane to come down today—she couldn’t make it—but I’m sure she’s already planning next year’s Terry Fox Run.

I just want to say to the member for Scarborough–Agincourt: Well done. Let’s get it through, and let’s get it proclaimed.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: It’s great to be able to rise in the House today. I think the member from Scarborough–Agincourt has given us all an incredible opportunity here today to do something that, in hindsight, probably should have been done a long time ago.

I really want to applaud the initiative of the member from Scarborough–Agincourt for grabbing this one, taking it by the bit and bringing it into the House, so that we’re able to do this, because I think that in so many communities—internationally, across our country and across Ontario—Terry Fox has been a symbol of hope. He has been something we all aspire to as individuals, and certainly, for those who are suffering with the challenges of cancer, he has done something that simply nobody else in the world has been able to do.


He’s impacted other people in a variety of ways. I want to tell you about somebody who lives in Oakville. Her name is Lisa Moody. She was 13 years old when she drew inspiration from Terry Fox. She joined her first run in a wheelchair. She’s done every single run since, for the past 25 years, and now she participates with her own daughter in the annual walk we have in Coronation Park in Oakville.

There was a gentleman named Darrell Atherley. He was a power walker. He participated in more than 25 races and events before bladder cancer took his life. Atherley founded Team Darrell, and his family has continued the tradition since then. They have raised about $130,000 over about a five-year period.

Every year the Oakville community really comes out for the Terry Fox Run and two individuals have made that possible. I know that this takes place in a number of other communities across the country and throughout the world, but there are two individuals in particular who worked tirelessly to make this really the number one event in my community of Oakville.

The first is Ralph Robinson, the ward 1 councillor in Oakville. He started the Terry Fox Run in Oakville and he organized the event himself for 25 years. There’s a quote from Darrell Fox about Ralph. He says, “I have had the opportunity and the pleasure to meet Ralph on numerous occasions over the 25 years he has been the Terry Fox Run organizer in Oakville. He has served Terry and his dream of eradicating cancer....”

Today we’re joined in the members’ gallery by my friend and colleague, Pam Damoff, the Ward 2 councillor in Oakville. She took on the role of event organizer and she’s been breaking records with the participation and the funds that are raised every year. Last year’s run was a record in the relatively small community of Oakville. We, alone, raised $125,000 in one, single run. I’m really happy that Pam’s able to be here today to watch this debate because I know how much it means to her. She’s taken the run in Oakville and made it an even bigger event. She plans a kickoff breakfast every year; this year it’s April 17. She’s going to be seeking support from her own colleagues on Oakville council for a Terry Fox Day in her own community.

Today we have been able to move ahead so far in cancer research. I think other people have spoken about the progress we’ve made.

I would note also that the Thunder Bay monument that was spoken about so eloquently by the Minister of Natural Resources, the member for Thunder Bay—there’s an Oakville connection there as well. That monument was sculpted by Manfred, who is an artist in Oakville.

I’m so pleased to see this before us today. The tone of the debate today has been spectacular. As I said, it gives us in the House an opportunity to do something together to honour this great man, Terry Fox.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Sylvia Jones: I just want, in the short time left, to talk about the other monument at the other end: Mile Zero in St. John’s, Newfoundland. A number of years ago when my family went, it was one of the first places that we had to find.

In the debate today we talk a lot about Terry Fox’s passion and his vision, but I want, particularly, the pages to understand that when he began that run in St. John’s, Newfoundland, he was 22 years old. At that moment he said that if his Marathon of Hope could raise $1 from every Canadian, he would be so pleased. That was his goal at 22 years old: $24 million. Of course now we talk about how annually that same Marathon of Hope is raising $30 million a year across the world. If that isn’t an example of passion and vision and someone who we should be honouring with the Terry Fox Day then I don’t know who else we would choose. The young man—he was a man but he was a young man—had already had so many obstacles put in his place and yet at 22 years old he said, “My goal is to raise $24 million for cancer research; $1 for every Canadian.” Has he not achieved that in spades?

Well done to you, Soo—sorry, Scarborough–Agincourt, for bringing forward this great initiative. I hope we can see it come to fruition because he really has empowered and made people passionate that they really can deal with this dastardly thing that we call cancer. At a time when people thought there was no hope if your physician told you you had cancer, he gave us that hope.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I just want to thank all of you for your comments.

I’ll now return to the member for Scarborough–Agincourt. You have two minutes.

Ms. Soo Wong: I’m very pleased that the members from Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, Niagara Falls, Cambridge, Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry, Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock and Dufferin–Caledon, and the Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Labour were speaking in support of my proposed Bill 61. Let me close the remarks today in honour of Terry, but also remind each one of us of his message in Scarborough, when he said that if he cannot continue, we’ve got to keep going: “It’s got to keep going without me.”

Through recognition through this great province called Ontario, we have the ability in this House to recognize a national hero, and a hero that all of us share, because every day there are Ontarians fighting cancer. There are even survivors amongst us in this chamber. But more importantly, we need to continue to spread the message of courage, hope and determination.

Before I end, I also want to recognize my own colleague MP Arnold Chan. I know he may be watching. Some of you may know that my colleague Arnold Chan, the MP for Scarborough–Agincourt, is right now fighting cancer. Arnold, if you’re watching, I’m thinking about you, and I know we will do this together. Thank you for your courage and determination, most of all. We know that Terry’s spirit continues with you.

I want to thank all members today, because at the end of the day this is what the bill is about: bringing together all Ontarians. The message is that cancer can be beaten. In my culture, the Asian culture, cancer is not a disease that ends your life. This is what cancer means: There’s hope, there’s determination. That’s what carries this message to each one of us. I hope we can pass this bill before the House rises this summer.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): We will deal with the vote at the end of private members’ business.

Transparent and Accountable Health Care Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur le financement transparent et responsable des soins de santé

Madame Gélinas moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 78, An Act to promote transparency and accountability in the funding of health care services in Ontario / Projet de loi 78, Loi visant à promouvoir le financement transparent et responsable des services de soins de santé en Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for her presentation.

The member for Nickel Belt.

Mme France Gélinas: Let me start by explaining a little bit what the bill is about. Basically, the bill was based on my experience. I spent two years working on Ornge and about half a year working on diluted chemo drugs. Throw in there a little bit of study about out-of-hospital premises, private clinics, infections and everything else, and that is the basis for Bill 78: to bring transparency and accountability on the money side of all of those new health care agencies that exist out there.

The bill does five things, and I’ll go through them one by one.

The first thing that the bill does is that it extends the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act to every agency who receives more than $1 million. For some of us who deal with this stuff all the time, we know what the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act is. It is the act that makes an agency FOI-able, so that you can file for freedom of access to information. It is the act that makes it the responsibility of an agency to report on their finances: their use of consultants and how they spend their money. They have to report to the government on this information yearly. This is the first part of the bill: The Broader Public Sector Accountability Act will now apply to a large amount of health agencies that presently are not covered.


That act already applies to our hospitals, but as soon as you take a service or a program from our hospitals and put it into the community, then the act doesn’t apply anymore.

With this bill, it doesn’t matter if programs and services are not offered by our hospitals anymore, and that they are offered in the community. We will be able to make sure that the same accountability and transparency will apply to them. Whether they’re called out-of-hospital premises, independent health facilities, private clinics, the LHINs, the CCACs, the long-term-care agencies, the home care agencies—you name it—if they get more than a million dollars, all put together, in health care money, they are covered.

The second part of the bill is what is called the sunshine list. The sunshine list, here again, is a measure of transparency and accountability. The sunshine list: For anybody who makes more than $100,000 a year, their salary is reported for everybody to see.

What will that mean? The sunshine list already applies to a big part of the health care system. You look right now, and everybody who works for a hospital or works for a community health centre—we already see who makes over $100,000 a year. With this new bill, all of the other health care agencies that are big enough to make over a million dollars a year will have to report.

Here again, if you look at things like out-of-hospital premises—this is, I think, the Herzig Eye Institute, the Kensington institutes; the people who do the colonoscopies; some of the physiotherapy clinics that bill OHIP. Think of independent health facilities. Those are the labs, the technical aspects of health care, that sometimes happen outside of our hospitals. They will be covered. If they receive more than a million dollars, they will be covered. They will have to submit to the sunshine list, and we will see.

The third part of the bill is to give the Auditor General the powers to audit those agencies. The Auditor General right now has the power to audit a lot of health care agencies. We call them transfer payment agencies. The Auditor General can go into our hospitals, our community health centres. She can go into our mental health agencies and children’s mental health agencies. But as soon as they become private, she’s not allowed to go in. Now the bill will extend the power of the Auditor General so that if there is something going on—and she has good ways of keeping an eye on things—she will be allowed to go and do an audit.

This is taxpayers’ money. This is the Ministry of Health’s money. Out of the $52 billion that we spend on health care, a very small part right now is covered by the Auditor General. I want to make that part bigger.

The fourth one, something that we have been working on for a long time, is Ombudsman oversight. For all of those private entities out there, all of those independent health facilities, out-of-hospital premises etc., if a person has a complaint about the care that they receive, they will be able to put their complaints to the Ombudsman.

The fifth part of the bill is that we will have disclosure of the OHIP billings of everybody who bills over $100,000.

I have here in front of me a Medical Services Commission financial statement for the year-end, ending March 31, 2004, from British Columbia. Many other provinces already do this. I can read to you all of the people in British Columbia who received money from their OHIP—it’s not called OHIP, because it’s British Columbia, but it’s the same thing—and how much they bill. They’ve been doing this for decades. It’s a good tool for transparency and accountability.

Those are the five big steps of the bill.

Why am I doing this? I’m doing this because, after having spent two years looking at Ornge, it became clear that between Dr. Mazza, the CEO of Ornge, his board chair, Mr. Rainer Beltzner, as well as their lawyer, Mr. Alfred Apps, they had decided to privatize pretty well every single action and program of Ornge, or air ambulance services. They had decided to privatize them. Their goal was that they were supposed to make money in the private system to invest back into the not-for-profit Ornge. The reality was completely different. The reality is that hundreds of millions of dollars that were supposed to provide care to people who needed air ambulance services got diverted.

When the Auditor General went in, he had a very tough time because they were quick to show, “Oh, no, our HR is privatized; you cannot have a look. Oh, no, our airplane maintenance has been privatized; you are not allowed to look into those books.” The list went on and on, to the point where it seems like the only purpose of privatizing part of their operations was to be shielded from the oversight and shielded from the accountability that exist in other parts of our health care system.

To this point, our Minister of Health is on record dozens of times saying that when she found out—it was a woman at the time, Minister Matthews—that the CEO of Ornge was making $1.4 million, that rang the alarm bell for her. She called the board into her office, and things changed quite quickly at Ornge.

I’m telling you, Speaker, had we had the sunshine list apply to the private entity of Ornge, we would never have been in this mess to start out with. We would have known. Had we had Ombudsman oversight of Ornge, we would have known for a long time, because the Ombudsman had received many, many complaints against Ornge for the poor services they were providing. But all he could do was say, “I’m sorry; I don’t have oversight of Ornge.”

Had we had those pieces in place, I am convinced that we would not have witnessed the demolition of our air ambulance services the way we did for so many years. We would not be in the situation we are now in where we see them basically trying to be reborn from their ashes, because Ornge was pretty much destroyed for those years when they went on with their private enterprise.

A very telling part came when we received the review of Ornge air ambulance transport by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario reviewed hundreds of deaths that had happened within the air ambulance system; 40 of them were worthy of investigation. Out of the 40, there are eight that are suspicious. One of my colleagues will go into further detail as to what had happened to those people. Needless to say, he found five cases where it was a possible impact, one case where there was a probable impact and two cases where it was a definite impact on the death of the person. For these eight people, their family, their friends and their loved ones, I think we owe it to them to pass this bill.

That was only one part of the motivation. The second part of the motivation comes from the diluted chemo drugs. I and eight of my colleagues from all sides of the House reviewed what had happened. Again, one of my colleagues who was also on the committee with me will go into more detail as to what exactly went wrong. Needless to say, from all sides of the House, we all agree that we want the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act to be expanded to include people. We want the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act—this is the sunshine list—to be more inclusive, to be extended. We also want extension to the role of the Office of the Auditor General. That was a report that all parties agreed to and all parties want to happen.

What I brought forward in this bill is, I took the recommendations from Ornge and the recommendations from the diluted chemo drugs, I put them together, and I put them in a bill. This is Bill 78, which is in front of you right now.


We have some oversight when it comes to the quality of the services that are offered in private clinics through the CPSO, but we have no oversight whatsoever as to what happens to the money. Bill 78 is really a way to create oversight, accountability and transparency so that the billions of dollars that are spent in health care—we have a way to look as to where they went and if they’re providing good care to us. Thank you, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. John Fraser: I’m very pleased to be speaking to Bill 78, An Act to promote transparency and accountability in the funding of health care services in Ontario. I’d like to congratulate the member from Nickel Belt and thank her for bringing it forward.

I support, as we all do in this House, the principles of greater accountability and transparency in government. Last year, I put forward a private member’s bill that dealt with disclosure of expenses, which became part of government legislation. I’m very proud of that.

I also know that the member has had success as well with putting forward ideas that have gone into bills that have gone forward in government. We have such a bill before the House right now, Bill 45.

As I said, I support the bill and the principles of the bill. I do have some concerns.

I want to touch on the diluted chemo, because I did have the opportunity last year to join the committee for a few sessions. I understand the concern that she expressed, specifically with corporations that are created with the public as a shareholder, that operate outside our oversight. I think there was a case of a purchasing organization that was actually totally a public shareholder. I not only have concerns about how the function of that company is, but how the money flows from those companies back and forth.

When I look at the bill—and I think it’s important that we debate it—I do think there are challenges when we start to talk about oversight and accountability inside a private company. That could be problematic. I think there may be ways of doing that that may be as effective and a little bit more workable. I’d like to look a bit more at the bill in terms of what its interplay is with Bill 8, which was passed in December, because there are a number of measures in there, and also in Bill 10, that I believe are similar.

I would like to speak to the oversight of the Auditor General, again for private companies. That’s something, I think, that is somewhat problematic, but there’s probably a way of achieving what you need to achieve, because we do want to know. Perhaps any company that is accepting public funds has to be an open and transparent company in terms of providing yearly statements.

When we talk about the sunshine list, which is essentially a good thing—there was a perverse effect from it, because it became an uncapped salary grid. What happened was, because we didn’t have caps in place for salaries, it actually drove salaries up. That’s a concern that I’ve always had with that. I think it’s the right thing to do. I just don’t think that the consequences of it were fully thought out or that we prepared for what might happen, which would again be looking at salary caps.

It’s the same kind of concern over the OHIP billing. Obviously, they do it in other jurisdictions. The member’s bill does express a concern about people comparing apples and oranges. My concern would be the same, of that happening inside that profession and creating some of the problems that we’ve had with the sunshine list.

Again, I’m going to support this bill. I support it. I think it’s important that we debate this. I will look forward to, hopefully, getting it to committee and having further discussion about it.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Laurie Scott: I’m pleased to speak today on Bill 78, Transparent and Accountable Health Care Act, 2015, brought forward by the member from Nickel Belt, who is an excellent member and speaks very well on health care issues; we were both health care professionals before our lives at Queen’s Park. But she told you of her long experience both in looking into Ornge and into the chemotherapy drug dilution problem. So she comes forward with a very—it’s a very complex bill probably for those listening at home to try to decipher. We just have a few minutes in debate, but I’ll hit on some of the topics.

Basically, it extends aspects of the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act and the Ombudsman Act. I won’t be able to touch on all of them in the few minutes that I have—but she mentioned Ornge. It’s a huge issue. It dominated the news. It should never have happened. It could have had more Ministry of Health oversight, really. As the ministry, they could have watched Ornge, which provides our air ambulance service for the province of Ontario.

There is a lot of accountability that does lie with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, that they had to watch what was going on. I believe they would have and should have known that Dr. Chris Mazza’s salary was absolutely outrageous, out of control. It was an organization that had grown beyond what it was supposed to do but, again, did not have the oversight from the Ministry of Health to keep it in check, which is what needs to happen with the ministries.

The member from Nickel Belt has addressed aspects she’d like to see changed to watch that oversight and that that does not happen again. It was just a situation in Ornge that we will not want to see occur again.

The diluted chemotherapy scandals that came forward: I know that the member who is my seatmate—the member from Elgin–Middlesex–London, just to make sure I’ve got his riding right—sat on that. He is a health care professional also, being a pharmacist. We certainly relied on his expertise. I just want to note that it was the Peterborough Regional Health Centre, which is a regional health centre for my riding, that was the first to pick up on the labelling—with the dilution problem with the chemotherapy drugs.

When that was brought up, there was a group purchasing organization, which is GPO, which is really partly owned, if not fully owned, by hospitals. It is under the Medbuy group.

There is some accountability in respect to that, in the fact that Medbuy, owned by the hospitals, receives rebates from drug companies—for bulk companies. That money is then to go back to hospitals. We don’t know where that money is spent once it goes back into the hospitals, how it’s put into the health care system.

Again, this is part of what the member from Nickel Belt is trying to address in this bill, about accountability of where the monies all go—who makes what, whose property, especially when it’s the taxpayers’ OHIP paying a lot of the bills. I commend her for wanting that oversight.

I just want to say that one more part from the committee that was looking into the diluted chemotherapy drug scandal was that hospital pharmacies now have to be licensed and basically regulated by the Ontario College of Pharmacists. I want to, again, commend the member from Elgin–Middlesex–London, who was on that, who brought that forward. That didn’t exist, and most of us would not know that did not exist.

Those are a few parts that this bill will help address.

I know other members of my caucus want to speak to this bill.

I commend the member from Nickel Belt for bringing this through. She has had many years of trying to decipher what is wrong in this system. Thank you, again, for bringing it forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Cindy Forster: I rise today to support my friend and colleague France Gélinas and her Bill 78, the Transparent and Accountable Health Care Act. This bill, if and when passed, will have a remarkable impact on improving the transparency and the accountability of our health system by extending the oversight of our publicly funded health care to the Auditor General and the Ombudsman, something we have been trying to do for years. This will ensure that the scandals that have plagued our health care system over the years, like Ornge and the diluted chemotherapy drug catastrophe, will never happen again.


I need not remind you that chemotherapy—the drug scandal that took place only this time last year was one that caused 1,200 hospital patients to accidentally be given diluted chemotherapy drugs. Medbuy was the purchasing agent, a company at the time that arranged tendering of contracts for drugs.

Actually, the Speaker was involved in the committee.

Unfortunately, when all was said and done, they didn’t specify the concentration level that the finished products were required to have. It took over a year before anyone realized what had happened. By then, the diluted chemotherapy drugs had already been in use by over 1,200 people in Ontario hospitals: 290 affected at the Windsor Regional Hospital, 691 at London Health Sciences Centre, 37 at Lakeridge Health and one person at Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

I took part in the legislative committee that was assigned to review this case. The committee prepared a report that Ms. Gélinas spoke about in her remarks: a series of recommendations to prevent those scandals from happening again.

I’m proud to see my colleague and NDP member France Gélinas take these recommendations one step further—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): A gentle reminder to the member: We refer to ridings.

Ms. Cindy Forster: Yes—and put them into binding legislation to ensure that Ontario patients are protected and that health care scandals like Ornge and the diluted chemotherapy drugs never happen again.

Bill 78 includes three recommendations that were included in the report. The member from Nickel Belt has already spoken to those today.

As a former registered nurse and as someone who witnessed this case unfold in committee, I understand the hardship, the pain, the anguish that were suffered by these patients who were accidentally given these diluted chemotherapy drugs. It’s impossible, I’m sure, for them to relay in words.

As a former cancer patient who received chemotherapy a number of years ago now, I understand the fear that patients experience through the normal process of a cancer diagnosis. First and foremost: potential chemo, radiation, possibly surgery, only to be compounded by finding out at the end of your process that in fact, “Maybe I didn’t receive enough drugs to save my life.”

The NDP bill that is before us will close those gaps. It will protect our patients. It will provide the necessary accountability and transparency that the public health care system needs. It will make sure that these scandals never happen again.

This is something that was totally avoidable if, in fact, we had had appropriate oversight in place.

I’m happy to have had the opportunity to speak to this. I hope we get all-party support on this bill today.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Han Dong: It’s my pleasure to speak to the private member’s bill introduced by the member from Nickel Belt, Bill 78.

I share the same concern as my colleague from Ottawa South. I think, in essence, it’s a good bill. It speaks to transparency—asks for more transparency in our broader health system.

I was just paying attention to the part of this bill where it says that a publicly funded supplier is a person or entity that receives, directly or indirectly, at least $1 million in public funds in a year from major health sector organizations, or from other publicly funded suppliers. The word that I’m concerned about is “indirectly.” How broad are we going to go in terms of coverage on the supplier? There is a cost. I’m completely supportive of transparency and accountability, but if that means that we’ve got to go far—a supplier of a sub-supplier of a sub-supplier—there is a cost to report all this information back into the system. That cost eventually, we all know, is going to add on to the client. It would be passed on to the client, which is the public sector. So I’m a little concerned about that.

Ms. Cindy Forster: So cost is more important than lives?

Mr. Han Dong: I said that I’m supportive of the bill. It’s my chance to express my concern. I will probably talk to the member in private to clarify that.

The member also mentioned that the act provides for disclosure of payments made by the OHIP plan. I just want to cite that the Information and Privacy Commissioner previously has held the position that disclosure of any identified physician’s billings would invade a physician’s personal privacy under the current FIPPA.

I would like to learn a bit more about this bill. In essence, it’s a good bill.

When we talk about transparency, I just want to remind the House that this government, in the past 10 years, has done quite a bit. If you remember—I think it was in 2004—as soon as we came into government, we introduced a bill that eventually got proclaimed to ban advertising using public funds. I think that was good public policy. We expanded the scope of the Auditor General and the Integrity Commissioner, and that’s good practice. I think there should be more accountability brought to the broader public sector because ultimately they have to be responsible, they have to be accountable to the taxpayers.

I appreciate this opportunity to speak to the bill, and I’ll learn a bit more from the member from Nickel Belt.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Bill Walker: It’s a pleasure to speak to Bill 78, the Transparent and Accountable Health Care Act, 2015.

This bill has been prompted by recent examples of inefficiencies and waste and resulting cuts in our health care system. From eHealth to Ornge, we have seen this Liberal government continue to waste precious health care dollars while some essential services, such as home care hours and surgeries, continue to be cut and nurses laid off.

In my great riding of Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, in fact, potentially we face the elimination of a program called the restorative care unit at the Chesley hospital. So any claim by the government that they have strengthened the rules on transparency and accountability is far from reality.

We know that patient care will be safe from cuts only when this government stops wasting. To that end, we welcome measures to improve these measures so that Ontario patients can receive the front-line services they need. I commend my colleague France Gélinas from Nickel Belt for bringing this forward and certainly wish to support it.

Bill 78 aims to achieve better outcomes by requiring annual reporting on payments made by OHIP to major health care organizations and by ensuring that those who receive public funds of $1 million and over are accountable for every dollar they spend.

This means that groups such as boards of health, community care access centres—by the way, there are over 230 CCAC employees on the sunshine list currently—air ambulance service providers, hospitals, independent health facilities, local health integration networks, long-term-care homes and out-of-hospital premises will all be governed by this.

As everyone here is aware, this legislation is in response to the spending problems that have plagued this government: $1 billion on eHealth consultants; the diluted chemotherapy drug scandal—I think it was already acknowledged that my colleague from Elgin–Middlesex–London, Jeff Yurek, brought this to the attention of the Legislature. Certainly critic Christine Elliott from Whitby–Oshawa and I, as deputy critic for health care, have followed this very closely.

We have also had millions of dollars wasted on corrupt practices at Ornge air ambulance. To put it into context, this is money that could have provided beds for 25,000 senior citizens on the long-term-care wait-list or not forced the cuts of some 1,600 nursing positions across Ontario or bed closures across small community hospitals.

This bill should give us the ability to track expenditures and ensure that funds make their way from the treasury office down to service providers at the local level—most importantly, front-line care.

The Ontario public needs to know what funds make it to local agencies and what services are being delivered in their communities. This bill will allow us to actually look at any group, whether an indirect or a direct provider, that spends significant amounts of money or has the ability to have significant amounts of money from the provincial government given to them to provide health care in our great province. This, again, is critical. We need to have transparency and accountability at every level, particularly when we’re talking about health care for the citizens of Ontario.

I’m pleased—and my PC Party caucus colleagues welcome any measure that’s going to improve accountability over how health care dollars are spent.

With an aging population, the demand for health care resources will only increase and we need to ensure that every dollar spent on the sector enhances value and provides front-line care to those in need.


In order to build a patient-centred health care system that emphasizes front-line care, we need the right tools to ensure that every dollar—every single dollar that’s brought in—is spent wisely. I believe that Bill 78 is a step in the right direction. I look forward to being a part of the process, and at the end of the day hopefully we’ll truly have an accountable and transparent process to ensure that every single dollar is spent wisely and the people of Ontario get the health care delivered that they deserve.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I’m very honoured today to speak to this bill, because I know the critic has worked extremely hard on committee. It says here that she spent over two years investigating Ornge ambulance as a member of public accounts, and another five months investigation the diluted-drugs scandal in 2013. I know that our member from Welland was also on that committee.

With their background in the health care field, this is a great bill. This is a bill that’s going to help oversight and accountability. It’s been far too long that these kinds of things have occurred without those steps in place. When we’re talking about the public purse, we need to make sure that those dollars are spent in health care in the way they were intended, to serve patients, because health care dollars are very precious. To see them go into private companies and for people’s self-interest is extremely upsetting to both myself and my colleagues, and to the public, who rely on health care.

I was extremely proud this morning to be in attendance in the media studio with the health critic and to talk about this bill. We know that many of the cases that occurred with regard to this underdosing of chemotherapy actually were—a major percentage—in my hometown of London. We’re talking about 690 patients who were exposed in London out of the over 1,200 patients who were affected.

While we still don’t know if their treatments were compromised, Speaker, I would like to share with you a statement from one of the people who were affected. It may not have affected this person physically, but I can promise you that the emotional price is simply too high when it comes to this situation of underdosing chemotherapy drugs in the health care system. This statement is by Virginia Offen:

“This statement is about diluted chemo. This kind of scandal should never happen again.

“Anything having to do with chemo should be regulated and overseen so that mistakes are not made.

“These are easy declarations for anyone to make, simple common sense really.

“But for those of us on chemo these declarations have to do with whether or not we die today or sooner than we might have.

“I don’t believe the diluted chemo affected me physically because the amount of dilution was minute. That time.

“Who knows what could happen another time? The devastating part for me was the emotional price I paid. I had just finished six rounds of chemo on March 27.

“On the 11 o’clock news, April 2, 2013, I heard about the diluted chemo and was well aware that one of the diluted drugs was part of the three-drug cocktail I was on for all six of those rounds.

“I wondered if it was all for nothing because the chemo hadn’t been full-strength. I didn’t sleep at all that night.

“The next morning I called the hospital’s ‘info line’ and was told they could not confirm whether or not my chemo had been affected.

“They told me I would be notified and eventually I was.

“I wish I had not heard about the dilution through the media but then I also wondered if I ever would have known had the media not reported on it.

“The journey with cancer is like a roller coaster ride, first you are up and then you are down, etc., etc.

“It isn’t a journey for the faint of heart. None of us on this journey deserved this but I believe we all hope that a scandal like this never happens again.”

Here’s a personal story that I’m reading from a constituent in London, Virginia Offen. As I read that, my hair is standing up on my forearms, because it’s a very emotional thing to talk about, somebody having a compromised health treatment in our health care system. Because we have 100% trust when we obtain some kind of treatment for cancer—we’re using that example—and for that trust to be broken shakes people to their core. So I commend the health critic in the NDP for making sure that there’s going to be a gap that’s closed. They’re going to close that loophole so that oversight is actually going to be actionable and this kind of thing hopefully never happens again. This is a preventative so that this won’t occur, so that people won’t be questioning their health care system and the treatment they get.

So I just want to say thank you to the health critic and the member from Welland for doing all that hard work on the committee. It sounds like people believe in this bill, and I’m looking forward to it continuing through the House and going to committee and coming back for third reading.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Indira Naidoo-Harris: I would like to thank the member from Nickel Belt for putting forward this bill and for her dedication to advancing health care in this province.

Here in Ontario, we are fortunate enough to have access to the greatest health care system in the world. This is a system that millions of people can rely on daily and that we’re very proud of. This government is proud of the way this system is able to respond to the health care needs of the residents living in this province.

As great as our system is, we have to realize, of course, that there’s always room for improvement and we always have to work at being better. We realize that effectiveness and efficiency aren’t the only two requirements of a great health care system. Along with these two requirements we need a system that is transparent and that holds administrators accountable.

We need to hold ourselves to an even higher standard. Our priority is to ensure that Ontarians feel that their health care system is not only working effectively for them but is also accountable to them.

Being open and transparent about the way health care is administered in this province creates peace of mind for the people of Ontario and for all of us who are using the system. This is particularly important when considering the heightened stress and vulnerability that accompany many patients. As we evolve to become more accountable to patients and their families, we need to take the necessary steps to be transparent. This will help patients and their families to make well-informed decisions about their health and their health care needs.

A focus on transparency in our health care system was outlined in our Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care. It was noted in the action plan that we recognize that Ontarians want their health care system to be transparent and accountable, and they want to know that it will deliver results for patients now and in the future.

The action plan also noted that “Giving Ontarians more information about how health care works and opportunities to provide their perspectives on their care will help identify how the system can work better.”

Our Patients First action plan will support Ontarians to make healthier choices, help prevent disease and illness, engage Ontarians on health care so we can fully understand their needs and concerns, focus on people and not just their illness, and, finally, help us be more transparent in health care so Ontarians can make more informed decisions.

While our government’s commitment to openness and transparency is unwavering, we must also be mindful of the significant privacy concerns that exist for our patients.

There are concerns that I have about Bill 78. Examples of such concerns are prevalent throughout the health care system, but when it comes to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the commissioner has issued several orders on the issue of making doctors’ billings public. The Information and Privacy Commissioner has consistently held that the disclosure of an identified physician’s billings would invade a physician’s personal privacy under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. These are clearly delicate matters, and we need to remember that transparency needs to work hand in hand with Ontarians’ right to privacy. We need to continue to work on striking that balance.

Another area of Bill 78 that I have concerns about, similar to my colleagues who spoke about this earlier, has to do with the parts referring to direct or indirect disclosure. On these items, being careful and moving forward sensitively are key, because we could be infringing on people’s personal rights.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud that Minister Hoskins announced the first patient ombudsman. The patient ombudsman will be appointed to help people who have an unresolved complaint about their care at a hospital or long-term-care facility.

I fully support increasing government’s accountability and transparency. We are dedicated to making our health care system more patient-focused, allowing people to work with their health care partners in making the best possible decisions about their health and health care. I support this bill.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mrs. Gila Martow: I’m very happy to speak on Bill 78, the Transparent and Accountable Health Care Act, 2015.

I want to start by mentioning the comment of the member from Halton. She said, “holds administrators accountable.” Well, I think that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about our health care system. The administrators are running the health care system right now, and running the hospitals. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it wasn’t that long ago—when I was a kid—that it was more doctors who were the administrators making the tough decisions in the hospitals. I’m sure that doctors, being people, sometimes wanted to advance their own career, have more operating room time and things like that, but I really believe that the doctors put the patients first. I think that’s what it has to be all about.

The reason for transparency and accountability: We have to realize that it’s not just about fairness, and it’s not just about making sure there is no corruption, such as the Ornge scandal and the electronic eHealth scandal; it’s also about how we put patients first, how we ensure that the tax dollars we collect, which are given in trust to us, are going for front-line health care where they are supposed to be going.

The fact that at CCACs, where many of the front-line workers are earning fairly low salaries for home care, there are so many administrators on the sunshine list should cause some alarm. Maybe there should be a ratio between administrators’ salaries and front-line workers’ salaries. We shouldn’t see administrators earning salaries that much higher than front-line workers. Maybe there could be a system where front-line workers are doing a bit of the administrative work and it’s not so separate the way it is right now.

In terms of physicians’ privacy, we all know that physicians sort of have the worst of both worlds: They’re government employees when it suits the government, and they’re self-employed business people the rest of the time. I think it behooves the members from the NDP and the Liberal party, and even some of the members from my own PC caucus, to make the tough decision in their minds: Which is it? We can’t expect doctors to pay rent, renovate offices, buy equipment, buy furnishings, pay staff salary, pay for staff training and pay for their own training—they have to do continuing education all the time—and then treat them as employees and say, “Well, we want to know what your billing is.”

For the most part, they’re self-employed business people right now, in terms of their salaries and billing. Obviously, the doctors who do earn salaries—it’s fully disclosed when they are on salary. The reason we’re not putting more doctors on salaries is because we’re not finding it very cost-effective, or we would be doing more of it. The reality is that as soon as doctors are put on salaries, all of a sudden they’re not working to the same degree they now are.

I would suggest that people here who are so anxious to have doctors’ salaries and billings disclosed should maybe spend some time in a specialist’s office and see how they take 10 minutes for lunch and maybe a five-minute break once in the morning and once in the afternoon, and most of them are there till way past when we’re all home.

I think we’re getting our value out of our physicians in this province, and I think we have to ensure that health care dollars are going where they’re meant to go, and stop focusing on what the negative impacts are from that.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. John Vanthof: It’s an honour to be able to stand in support of my colleague, the member for Nickel Belt, regarding Bill 78, to increase transparency and accountability; specifically, in the health care system.

I would like to bring this debate back: It’s not about dollars and cents; it’s about people. If you recall, on June 6, 2012, we gave a standing ovation to a man named Trevor Kidd. He was in the members’ gallery, and he made a deposition in front of the committee looking into air Ornge about the problems he had identified. He deserved that standing ovation—Trevor Kidd comes from my riding—because he quit his job as a paramedic at Ornge in disgust in 2009, after having knocked on so many doors and trying to find someone who would listen to him regarding the problems at air Ornge—the patient problems—and no one listened. He quit in disgust after no one listened, and eventually he ended up back at that committee as one of the witnesses who actually opened people’s eyes.

So it’s not about dollars and cents. Some of the things that maybe could have been prevented if someone had listened to Trevor—and I’m going to read one of them from the Review of Ornge Air Ambulance Transport Related Deaths, from the coroner:

“Case #1–Possible Impact

“This 55-year-old man had a past medical history of heart disease. He presented to a community hospital in northern Ontario at 0620h with right-sided paralysis and severe weakness that he noted upon waking up that day. At 1500h he experienced a seizure lasting approximately 10 minutes. Medical imaging showed a blood clot in an artery in his brain. This was treated with appropriate medications, and arrangements were made for him to be transferred to a definitive care hospital in south-central Ontario.

“The air ambulance was requested at 1752h. Ornge requested that the patient’s medication be changed prior to transport, which was done and confirmed with Ornge by 1840h. The air ambulance arrived at the patient at 2245h”—four hours—“and the patient arrived at the receiving hospital at 0315h. He died two days later.”

That’s what this bill is about, because this didn’t happen 20 years ago; this happened a few years ago. There are all kinds of other organizations in the health care sector that need this oversight. There’s no guarantee right now that they’re getting it, just like there was no guarantee when this happened.

That’s why this bill is so important today, and why I’m so happy that the member from Nickel Belt brought it forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you for all your comments. I now return to the member for Nickel Belt. You have two minutes.

Mme France Gélinas: Thank you, Speaker. I thank everybody who has participated in the debate today. It was much appreciated.

Bill 78 is really quite simple. We bring oversight, transparency and accountability that already exist—we already have these bills in Ontario, and we make them cover all of the new ways that we are providing health care in our province, things like Ombudsman oversight, things like the Auditor General having a look, things like the public sector accountability act or the sunshine list. We take tools that already exist and we make sure that the new way of providing health care is transparent and accountable.

After spending two years looking at Ornge and six months looking at the diluted chemo drugs, I am certain that there are other Ornges out there. With a budget of $52 billion—an annual budget of $52 billion—that’s a lot of money. I am convinced that what happened at Ornge, as we speak right now, could be happening in a number of other health care agencies.

It is high time that we take the tools we have in this House, the bills that we have, and bring them up to speed as to how health care is delivered right now. We know that more and more programs and services are taken out of our hospitals—that have all of those transparency and oversight mechanisms—and those services are being provided in the community with no oversight.

All we’re saying is that if the program and the service moves into the community, moves into the private sector, then the oversight, the transparency, has to follow. It’s as simple as this.

I thank all the members for their support.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you all. We’ll take the vote at the end of private members’ business.

Natural Gas Superhighway Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur l’autoroute du gaz naturel

Mr. Bailey moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 76, An Act to encourage the purchase of vehicles that use natural gas as a fuel / Projet de loi 76, Loi visant à encourager l’achat de véhicules utilisant du gaz naturel comme carburant.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.

Mr. Robert Bailey: It is a pleasure to be here today and to raise this bill. I think it’s an important bill. I’m honoured to rise in the House today to discuss Bill 76, An Act to encourage the purchase of vehicles that use natural gas as a fuel, or as I call it, the Natural Gas Superhighway Act, 2015.

The reasoning behind the introduction of this bill is simple: natural gas, or LNG, as a transportation fuel is an opportunity to do what is right both for our natural environment and our business environment.

In his 2012 report, A Question of Commitment: Review of the Ontario Government’s Climate Change Action Plan Results, the Ontario environmental commissioner reported that because of the sheer volume of cars and trucks on Ontario’s roads today, Ontario’s transportation sector continues to be the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the province. Over nine million vehicles on the road were registered in the province in 2010, and because of increased trade, the development of supply chain management systems and just-in-time delivery models, the number of large freight vehicles on the road has actually doubled in the last 25 years. Not surprisingly, this sector has witnessed a significant increase in its emissions.

Today, of the nearly nine million vehicles on the road in Ontario, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles make up just 3% of the traffic, yet they contribute to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions.

If the government of Ontario is really serious—and all of us should be—about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, then it’s time we look at offering a real alternative to those who operate medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in our province. One way to do that is by leveraging the ongoing development of Ontario’s vast gas deposits.

Interest in natural gas as a transportation fuel isn’t new. Past support from federal, provincial and private-sector initiatives has led to over 35,000 light-duty natural gas vehicles, like buses, being put on the road in Canada. Unfortunately, because of previous market conditions, the critical market uptake needed to grow the NGV market did not occur, but as we are all well aware, in the last five years the access to a supply of readily available natural gas in North America has changed that story dramatically.

New opportunities are being created across the continent. Canada and the United States have been given the opportunity to dramatically shift the current energy supply makeup and at the same time stimulate their slow-growth economies.

In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama stated just that: “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America” and North America over 100 years for sure. Experts believe this will support “more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”

Don’t let this message be misconstrued. Natural gas is not the be-all and end-all of the energy supply; rather, it is a very significant piece of that puzzle, an extremely abundant, safe and affordable piece which is yet to be recognized for its full potential.

Research and product development in the area of natural gas procurement and use is leading to innovative new technologies and product design that have the potential to reshape conventional thinking in many areas, most locally, as a reliable, heavy-duty transportation fuel. In fact, in its assessment of the resource, Natural Resources Canada identified medium- and heavy-duty on-road transportation as the greatest value proposition for natural gas transportation fuels moving forward.

New, reliable truck engine technology that utilizes natural gas is giving America’s hard-hit cargo transportation sector a shot in the arm, reducing emissions, lowering transportation costs and delivering critical cost savings to industry’s bottom line. Heavy-duty truck manufacturers like Freightliner, Kenworth, Peterbilt and Volvo have all recently developed product lines to utilize liquefied natural gas.

The Natural Gas Superhighway Act, 2015, aims to promote the use of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, as a freight transportation fuel in Ontario by accommodating its advanced engine technology and providing an incentive designed to stimulate private investment in its proven lower-carbon-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

Specifically, the Natural Gas Superhighway Act, 2015, calls upon this Legislative Assembly of Ontario to enable a Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations prescribing higher weight limits for vehicles that use LNG as a transportation fuel. Just as a little example: Current road limits restrict vehicles to a gross weight of 63,500 kilograms. The equipment required to run the cleaner, cheaper liquefied natural gas can add as much as 1,500 kilograms to the weight of a truck tractor using the fuel versus trucks using more traditional fuel.

In a day and age when transportation companies must maximize the use of their equipment to stay competitive, this small variance in weight allowance is enough to keep companies from taking advantage of the lower-greenhouse-gas-producing natural gas transportation fuels in Ontario.

Moreover, the Natural Gas Superhighway Act requires the Ministry of Transportation to table a progress report to this Legislative Assembly annually until the regulations are made that support the use of liquefied natural gas.

We ask for this because we understand that not everything can be done overnight, but what industry is asking for is that this government recognize the importance of natural gas as a transportation fuel. With that show of support from this government and all of the opposition parties, I have heard from many private operators who believe that heavy-duty LNG vehicles are the logical choice for their company. These same companies tell me that they are eager to make investments in Ontario by building infrastructure like refineries, refueling stations and maintenance facilities needed to support this next generation in transportation fuel.

For an example, one needs to look no further than my riding of Sarnia–Lambton, where Royal Dutch Shell has plans in place to build one of Canada’s largest LNG plants to support the use of liquefied natural gas as a transportation fuel for Ontario’s hard-working Great Lakes freighters. Many companies are making those conversions to LNG as they buy new ships. Anyone looking at this should be able to recognize the incredible opportunity that exists for the on-the-road transportation fuel sector.

My natural gas bill would also provide for a non-refundable tax credit—half of the Ontario portion of the HST, or 4%—for seven years to taxpayers who purchase these vehicles: trucks, ships and trains. I didn’t mention that this is also being looked at by the rail transportation companies that use LNG or natural gas or CNG as a fuel. This credit is intended as a small incentive to help truck owners and fleet operators transition their fuel over time from the traditional fuels to the new, cleaner-burning natural gas, building that critical mass in industry and speeding the reduction of greenhouse gases from traditional sources.

Thanks to similar incentives and with an expected fuel cost savings of between 20% and 30%, many major American trucking companies are already taking the important first steps to transition to natural gas as a fuel source. Moreover, our neighbours, the province of Quebec, have taken early action by offering fiscal incentives to encourage commercial fleets to also make these adjustments—tax measures such as accelerated capital cost allowance on new trucks; instituting something called PEET, which is the program for improving energy efficiency in road, rail and marine, which funds up to $15,000 per truck for alternative fuels—this is in Quebec; and investing in infrastructure for what they call the “blue corridor,” which is essentially the Quebec portion of the MacDonald-Cartier or the Windsor-Quebec City transportation and manufacturing corridor.

In addition, Alberta has also updated their highway regulations to allow for increased weight allowances for LNG trucks on their roads, and they’ve opened three heavy-duty natural gas refueling stations along the Calgary to Edmonton route.

British Columbia has created a $104-million natural gas for transportation incentive program which reimburses up to 80% of the price differential between a natural gas vehicle and a diesel vehicle.

All of this activity is driving investment in the private sector across Canada. Robert transport of Quebec has invested in over 180 LNG trucks over three years. Many of those trucks run into Toronto every day. Vedder Transport of Abbotsford has invested in 50 LNG trucks. Waste Management both here in Ontario and in BC have invested in over 40 CNG trucks. Gaz Métro, which is in Quebec, has invested in five private LNG stations along the “blue corridor.” Shell, Encana and Ferus Inc. are also investing in LNG facilities. All told, these private companies are representing a more than $350-million investment in the private sector.

Yet the main artery of Ontario’s once-proud manufacturing economy, the Windsor-Quebec corridor, has virtually no share of that investment, despite having the largest marketplace and the greatest number of industry players ready to take advantage. The only LNG refueling station along the 401 corridor opened last year in Woodstock, Ontario.

If Ontario doesn’t take steps soon to open its borders to the same type of innovation and investment, we risk being left behind and our businesses will fall further behind in their ability to get their products to market at competitive prices. The time is right for the province of Ontario to seriously look at the promotion of natural gas as a transportation fuel.

I ask that all the members support the Natural Gas Superhighways Act 2015, today. By doing this, we can move this important piece of legislation to committee, where we can hear from many of the industry stakeholders about the importance of opening the Ontario Market to the investment opportunities that come with this clean, abundant and North American energy resource.


To reiterate, the intent of the Natural Gas Superhighway Act is to enable the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations prescribing those weight limits for vehicles that use LNG, as well as to require the Minister of Transportation to table that progress report on an annual basis, and also to provide for that non-refundable tax credit of the Ontario portion of the HST for up to seven years for those business owners and taxpayers who purchase these commercial vehicles, trucks, ships and trains that would use this new liquefied natural gas as fuel.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you and all my colleagues in the House from all three parties for taking the time to be here today and to listen to this bill, which I think is of critical importance to the province of Ontario as we go forward and rebuild the great economy of Ontario. I look forward to the rest of the debate.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Ms. Cindy Forster: I’m pleased to rise on behalf of New Democrats today to speak to the Natural Gas Superhighway Act. This is a bill that essentially enables regulations prescribing higher weight limits for vehicles that use liquefied natural gas as a transportation fuel. It would also require the Minister of Transportation to table a progress report to the Legislative Assembly annually until these regulations were made. And it would provide for a non-refundable tax credit in the amount of half of the Ontario portion of the HST, which is 4%, for seven years to taxpayers who purchase vehicles that use natural gas as fuel.

Before getting into any other specifics about the bill, I’d like to raise the issue that typically, as we know, private members’ bills do not have financial incentives. This one in particular looks like it has a lot of revenue generation attached to it, so I don’t know where that goes. There are certainly other considerations that would need to be addressed as well.

We know that in 2010, the transportation sector was responsible for the largest volume of greenhouse gas emissions province-wide, and the sector has also witnessed a significant increase in emissions since 1990 while other sectors—electricity and industry—have seen a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles make up only 3% of vehicles on the road today, but they contribute 27% of the greenhouse gas emissions from on-road sources. Providing an incentive for transport operators to convert to natural gas certainly makes sense on the surface from both an environmental and a cost-saving perspective. As a transportation fuel, however, natural gas certainly represents a cleaner alternative to traditional fuels, particularly diesel, for medium and heavy trucks, trains and ships. This would result in a decrease of greenhouse gas emissions from on-road sources.

But there are certainly more considerations I’d like to see explored in committee, when this actually gets to committee. I’d like to see the environmental considerations explored much more extensively. Natural gas certainly produces lower greenhouse gas emissions than traditional sources like diesel fuel, but it still produces them. It’s a fact that can’t be ignored, Speaker, and it is worth noting.

I see the Speakers have changed.

Technology used to obtain natural gas is primarily responsible for the current low prices in natural gas, and there are some concerns about the use of this technology. Our caucus had the pleasure of meeting the Environmental Commissioner today, and we discussed this issue at some length. What arose from that meeting is that there’s still much to be defined, explored and researched.

This issue has come up in my riding of Welland and in the Niagara region over the last few years. Concerns were raised by Great Lakes United and by the St. Catharines and District Council of Women. More concerns came up from the public when the Niagara Falls Water Board in New York was looking at possibly processing waste water from the fracking technology. Given the proximity of the Niagara River and the unconfirmed environmental and health impacts, residents certainly raised some concerns when that was talked about.

A moratorium on technology has been passed by the region of Niagara until further environmental studies and proper assessment are done. The Council of Canadians and others who are campaigning for a moratorium across Canada have concerns about water, about increased greenhouse gas emissions and about dangers to wildlife, and there are some financial considerations, as well.

In addition to these concerns, it’s not clear if the bill uses an appropriate financial mechanism. In BC, for example, they’ve taken another route. That government, in British Columbia, passed a regulation that allows utility companies to deliver natural gas transportation programs until March 2017. Quebec, too, has taken a different approach than this bill.

Speaker, the non-refundable tax credit of half of the Ontario portion of the HST would require federal amendments to the tax act to make it operational. Given the level of co-operation between the current provincial Liberal government and the current federal PC government, there is no guarantee that in fact it would be possible without the federal government on board.

Lastly, we’ve seen the price of diesel fuel skyrocket by 165% since 1990. This is basic supply-and-demand economics. The current supply of natural gas is much higher than it will be 20 years from now, and as that supply begins to decrease, it will mean that the price of natural gas may not stay at its present low price level forever. What impact will that actually have on home heating with natural gas down the road? We have many people in this province who are heating with electricity who would like to move to natural gas because they can’t afford the freight of electricity bills in this province, which have increased 325% since 2003.

That said, I think it’s worth getting this private member’s bill to committee. We definitely want to hear from the experts and the delegations on how the details of this natural gas conversion financial incentive might work and should work. We also want to hear about the concerns of the public. Unfortunately, we have a Liberal government whose clean energy policies largely mirror those of our federal Conservative counterparts, so it will be interesting to hear what the Liberals have to say on this bill.

There may be benefits to the environment and to our economy in converting from diesel to natural gas, and I look forward to having more discussion about this bill in committee in the upcoming future. Thanks for the opportunity to speak.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate.

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Speaker, I’m happy to stand today on behalf of the constituents in my riding of Cambridge to add to this discussion, and I’m happy to be able to discuss private member’s Bill 76, the Natural Gas Superhighway Act, introduced by my colleague across the aisle. I want to thank the member from Sarnia–Lambton for introducing the bill and drawing attention to a very important issue, the use of natural gas in vehicles across the province.

As the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation, I’m happy that the member opposite is discussing the use of natural gas in this province. I also wanted to let the member know that at recent ROMA and AMO conferences I’ve met with several delegations from his riding of Sarnia–Lambton on transportation issues, and it’s always a pleasure to talk to those officials in his riding.

Bill 76 seeks to promote the purchase of vehicles that run on natural gas through the amendment of both the Highway Traffic Act and the Taxation Act. It would amend these existing acts together to alter weight requirements such that tax credits or subsidies could be provided for people who move away from vehicles running on petroleum and towards vehicles that run on natural gas.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for helping to bring light to the benefits of natural-gas-operating vehicles. I don’t think that all members of the public are aware that that could be a possibility in the future. Natural gas, as we know, burns cleaner and safer than petroleum, and it’s an excellent alternative that we should certainly be encouraging.

Natural gas releases significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum because it has a lower carbon content and higher energy mass than regular fossil fuels. It can produce around 25% less CO2, or carbon dioxide, emissions than petroleum, as well, and so the increased use of natural gas can help us in our efforts to reduce emissions and fight climate change in our province, our country and on this planet.


Natural gas is also cheaper than petroleum and, as such, can help us to solve some of the issues relating to transportation costs in Ontario. As the PA for transportation, I know how important this is for Ontarians. In some ways, the use of natural gas can bring us closer to our goals, and it’s great that the member from Sarnia–Lambton has brought this forward.

I’m also pleased to see that a member of the official opposition introduces a bill that seeks to address carbon emissions and combat climate change. This is especially wonderful, given the official opposition’s precarious record on climate change and their frequent hesitation to support this government’s initiatives to work towards environmental protection.

For instance, the member from Carleton–Mississauga Mills and the member from Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington have made statements in the recent past indicating they don’t believe that climate change is a legitimate and important issue. Given how serious climate change is, it’s concerning that some members of the official opposition disagree. In light of it, I am again glad that the member opposite is bringing this bill forward. It’s encouraging to see him rise above partisan politics to help combat climate change. It shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and I thank the member opposite for agreeing.

A few weeks ago, the member from Glengarry–Prescott–Russell introduced a motion urging MPPs to come together, recognize the science behind climate change and move towards solutions to this pressing problem. Discussion of climate change is really important, and I’m happy to engage in the discussion today.

While Bill 76 does include some notable benefits in terms of encouraging drivers to switch from vehicles running on petroleum to those using natural gas, there are some issues with natural gas that warrant further discussion. More consultation is needed to ensure that all bases are covered.

Again, thank you, and I look forward to more discussion into increased use of natural gas in vehicles. More consultation is needed, and I look forward to seeing that move forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Ted Arnott: It really gives me great pleasure to speak in support of Bill 76 today, An Act to encourage the purchase of vehicles that use natural gas as a fuel.

I want to begin by commending the member for Sarnia–Lambton for bringing this bill forward. It’s actually a bill that he introduced in the previous provincial Parliament. It was known as Bill 97. It had second reading debate at that time. I believe it was endorsed by the House and went to committee, but unfortunately, because of the untimely 2014 election, it wasn’t given the opportunity for extensive committee discussions and then, in turn, third reading.

The member for Sarnia–Lambton has a great record of bringing forward sensible private member’s bills that have enjoyed the confidence of the House and been passed into law. I think of the One Call bill that he introduced a few years ago, to ensure that you’d only have to make one call to get all the locates for the underground utilities. It was something that he had pushed for some time. It was strongly endorsed by many groups in Ontario, and eventually the provincial government saw fit to support it as well.

The tax credit for farmers who make donations of surplus produce to food banks is something that our caucus strongly supported and, as I said, eventually the government came onside as well.

The member was first elected to the Ontario Legislature in 2007, so he has been here now for eight years and three elections. He has certainly enjoyed the confidence of his constituents through three elections, and he has done an outstanding job here.

Prior to that, he was a councillor in Enniskillen township, which is around the Petrolia community. He served for many years on the hospital board and local council, as I said. He was actually the returning officer in a couple of provincial elections, where I’m sure he ensured that the ballots were properly counted.

Mr. Robert Bailey: Yes.

Mr. Ted Arnott: He did well in that responsibility as well.

Again, this is a great bill. I don’t have too much time, and there are other members who want to speak to the bill. We’re certainly encouraged by the comments by the member for Cambridge, who serves as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation. Although she took a few shots at members of our caucus for statements they may have made—I’m not sure if they’ve made them or not. Certainly for my part, I would say, and acknowledge again, that the vast majority of climate scientists would say that the earth is warming. Global warming is a fact. In fact, the preponderance of scientific opinion would suggest that human activity is a significant contributing factor, and we all have to be concerned about that.

I know that we’re debating a bill this afternoon—actually, a government bill will be called for debate after private members’ business, where we discuss the bill that the government has brought forward with respect to the closure of the coal plants. We’ll have a lot to say on that.

Again, the member for Sarnia–Lambton deserves enormous credit for bringing this forward again. The bill is intended to support the greater use of liquefied natural gas as a transportation fuel.

The bill would ensure that there are regulations prescribing higher weight limits for vehicles that use liquefied natural gas as a transportation fuel; that the Minister of Transportation would have to table a progress report to the Legislative Assembly annually until those regulations are made; and to provide for a non-refundable tax credit, which would be half of the Ontario portion of the HST, or 4%, for seven years to taxpayers who purchase vehicles, whether they be trucks, ships or trains, using natural gas as their fuel.

This is a very sensible suggestion. I think it’s a very important economic initiative that the member is bringing forward—one of the most important bills that we’ll be discussing today.

I would encourage all members to support this bill at second reading. Let’s get it to committee, let’s hear from the people and let’s get it passed into law.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: I appreciate the opportunity to rise today to discuss Bill 76, An Act to encourage the purchase of vehicles that use natural gas as a fuel.

I understand the logic put forward by the member from Sarnia. There has been a history here in Ontario of exploring for oil and gas. There has been a history of oil and gas production. We’re also a province that manufactures. We still manufacture, so we need the ability to move goods from here to there.

But I have to say that I do not support this bill. I think we have to recognize—and I’ve heard people here speaking about climate change—that if we’re actually going to take on climate change we have to substantially reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. In fact, we have to leave most of the fossil fuels we’ve discovered in the ground.

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has reported on that realization. He says that two thirds of the fossil fuels that are recognized in oil and gas company reserves have to stay in the ground if we’re to avoid a rise in global temperature greater than two degrees.

I was here for the debate—I guess it was two weeks ago—impassioned statements by Liberals and by Conservatives about the need to take on climate change, the need to avoid catastrophic rises in world temperature.

If we’re going to do that, we have to recognize that as we transition out of fossil fuels, we need to literally transition out of them. If we’re going to make transportation more environmentally sustainable, we need to move to electrification of the rail system; we need to invest where it’s going to make the biggest difference and not simply perpetuate the burning of fossil fuels.

That’s one argument that concerns me about this bill. The other is that there is not an infinite amount of gas at a price that people can afford. People in this province use gas for cooking; they use it for heating; they use it for making electricity; and they use it in industrial processes. Every time you add a new significant market for natural gas, you drive up the price of that gas.

Everyone in this House can talk about the experience they’ve had talking to constituents, or personally when they’ve opened their own gas bill, of the cost of energy. Are we really saying that we want prices for home heating to be substantially higher? Are we saying that we want things to be more difficult for manufacturing in this province?

I would say: If we have to make a choice in a finite world, it makes more sense to use natural gas where its use is critical. It is not critical in transportation.

This bill will allow much heavier trucks on the road, leading to faster degradation of roadbeds and more expense in maintaining them. If we adopt this bill, we will lose revenue that could be used in other ways, that could be used to invest in sustainable and renewable forms of energy and in sustainable forms of transportation.

If we are going to reduce our revenue, if we’re going to give incentives for transformation of transportation infrastructure, then we need to do it in ways that give us the greatest possible payback in terms of greenhouse gas emission reduction and in ways that don’t expand demand for fossil fuels—fossil fuels that we shouldn’t be burning, that we do not have the room to burn ecologically on this planet.


Speaker, I also want to talk about the stability of price and availability. A few decades ago, we had a glut of electricity in Ontario and we had a vast program of electric heating that was sold to the people of Ontario. Tons of people in rural Ontario got electric baseboard heating and electric forced-air heating, and now they are paying through the nose for that.

A number of years ago, propane was cheap. Propane suppliers were beating the bushes to get people to dump their oil and go to propane. Well, last winter, they paid a fortune to get that propane.

We have an industry—the natural gas industry—that currently has a glut on its hands and wants to vastly expand its market.

Bloomberg reported in the last few months that a lot of the shale gas revolution in the United States is financed by junk bonds. That easy credit has made this revolution in shale gas possible, but one can’t rely on that in the long term. Many of those firms don’t actually make money. Many of those firms live on those junk bonds and, given the glut in the market right now, many of them will have difficulty surviving. That will dramatically change the numbers on availability of gas.

For a number of reasons, we need to keep gas in the ground, where we can. Let’s not drive up prices for homeowners. And because there is uncertainty about the availability of this gas, I don’t support this bill.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Eleanor McMahon: I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill 76, the Natural Gas Superhighway Act, 2015, and in doing so, to join my colleagues from Welland, Cambridge, Wellington–Halton Hills and Toronto–Danforth.

I want to congratulate the member from Sarnia–Lambton for putting forward this legislation. I know, from my previous life, prior to being elected, that the member opposite appreciates the contribution of alternative transportation modes. Cycling is an issue that I know he supports. Having been in his riding with him in a previous context, I know he appreciates that.

It’s very encouraging to see a member of the party opposite bring forth legislation that attempts to deal with real problems associated with climate change. These are issues that we must address quickly, as they will only get worse the longer we wait—something we must all take seriously and work together to solve.

As we all know, Ontario currently relies on fossil fuels for the overwhelming majority of its transportation needs. Burning fossil fuel, especially petroleum, puts a great amount of carbon into our atmosphere and damages our environment, something that so far has been an unavoidable result of our need to get around. Not only is petroleum harmful in some ways, but it is becoming increasingly expensive, as I know the member opposite appreciates—something that I think we all have seen at the pump in the recent past.

Natural gas has the potential to be a much more affordable alternative to traditional fossil fuels in our province. Not only is it cheaper, but it is also safer and cleaner burning. Natural gas generates significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than regular fossil fuels, including 25% less CO2, and it has lower carbon content and higher energy mass. These qualities make natural gas an appealing alternative to the current fuels we use, and a potential tool in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions in this province. Lowering the amount of carbon we release into the environment while simultaneously lowering the cost of transportation seems at first glance like a win-win situation.

Interest in the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel stems largely from the fact that there is an abundance of supply here in North America. There have been major developments of shale gas deposits in the northeastern United States recently that have led to a boost in available natural gas at a lower cost. We cannot, however, take this at face value. We must take every precaution to ensure that there are no unintended negative impacts on our environment. Our government is fully committed to the protection of Ontario’s natural heritage, and currently more information must be gathered before we can say for sure that natural gas will be an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional fuel sources.

There is also an infrastructure component to the discussion around natural gas. Fueling stations that allow for the use of natural gas will need to be built across major transportation routes for commercial use, and more broadly if the citizens of Ontario, and the citizens in my riding of Burlington, in point of fact, are to be able to take advantage. There will also need to be storage and distribution facilities created, and access to the vehicles and technology that use natural gas as a fuel source.

All of this will come with an associated monetary cost, which at this point has not been determined. This is not to say that the infrastructure cannot, or should not, be invested in. It is simply something that must be included in the broader conversation surrounding the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel. We cannot simply say that natural gas should become a relied-upon fuel source because it has worked elsewhere; we need to look at how this will impact the unique landscape of Ontario.

Ultimately, I’ll be supporting this bill, Mr. Speaker, and I encourage all my colleagues in the House to do the same. This is an important step in the right direction, although I feel that much more must be done if we are to ensure that Ontario’s environment is protected to the best of our abilities. Natural gas definitely has the potential to be a more environmentally friendly alternative to other fossil fuels, but we must make sure that this is in fact the case. I look forward to discussing the matter further with the member in committee and to working together to find solutions to the many environmental issues we face here in Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Bill Walker: I want to acknowledge the work of my colleague and MPP for Sarnia–Lambton—Ontario’s proud gas community—Bobby Bailey, in putting this bill before the Legislature two times. The only way I think he could have presented it better, Mr. Speaker, is if he had sung his 12 minutes instead of just talking about it, because he’s a heck of a singer. Bob deserves much recognition for his efforts in championing the expansion of natural gas in the transportation sector. As I mentioned earlier, this is the second time he has brought this; before, it was Bill 97. Sadly, it died on the order paper.

This bill aims to do two things: one, lower economic barriers to market entry and encourage the purchase of vehicles that use natural gas as a fuel through a tax credit; two, reduce regulatory barriers and amend regulations to prescribe higher weight limits for natural-gas-powered vehicles.

Using this fuel system is a good choice, not only because it would reduce our reliance on crude-oil-based fuels, but also because, first, it’s domestically available. Recent growth in our natural gas supply gives us confidence that our deposits in North America could meet our demand for another century. It’s also cheap, safe and cleaner than other fuel systems. Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner warns that cars continue to be the biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, and this factor will continue to rise as energy demand for transportation rises.

Imagine if we powered all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles with liquefied natural gas. That’s about 3% of the vehicles on the road today, not a significant share of road users; however, if we did, we would potentially reduce as much as one quarter, 25%, of greenhouse gas emissions from on-road sources.

A poll by Nanos from a few years ago found that Canadians were highly motivated about surpassing the United States in green transportation. Today, natural gas powers about 150,000 vehicles in the US and roughly 12 million vehicles worldwide. It’s clearly a viable option for a lot of different countries.

Moreover, liquefied natural gas fueling stations are growing across the US, linking manufacturing regions and transportation corridors. In Canada, we only have about 12,000 vehicles, a mix of urban transit buses, some school buses, light-duty cars and trucks, and forklifts and ice resurfacers. I believe Bob also mentioned that there is an opportunity for rail to be involved in this as well, Mr. Speaker, so a huge opportunity if we just grab the opportunity.

I believe we can’t afford to be left behind much longer. I encourage everyone to support this bill so we can overcome regulatory barriers and expand the use of natural gas across our transportation sector and reduce greenhouse gases.

There was a public opinion poll taken, and the question asked, “Which one of the following benefits from natural gas powered trucks and buses is the most important to you?” The key finding was that “more than half of Canadians (54.2%) thought that lowering emissions of trucks and buses by 25% by using natural gas instead of diesel powered vehicles was the most important benefit to them.”

So, Mr. Speaker, we have the opportunity here in front of us. I think we just want to ensure that we move forward. A key message I want to leave with the people listening at home, and certainly here in the House today, is that natural gas is an affordable and safe fuel.

New engine technology is allowing North America’s cargo transportation sector—medium- and heavy-duty trucks, trains, and ships—to use natural gas as a cheaper fuel. Lower transportation costs have the potential for Ontario’s manufacturing sector to get their products to market at more competitive prices.

Estimates of the North American gas fields suggest accessible deposits of low-cost natural gas that could meet North American demand for the next 100 years. This would ease reliance on foreign fuel and certainly help our economy and our environment at the same time.

As a transportation fuel, natural gas represents a cleaner alternative to traditional fuels, especially diesel, for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, trains, and ships.

It’s approximately 20% to 30% cheaper and 20% to 30% cleaner in regard to greenhouse gases.

British Columbia and Quebec have already adopted legislation to promote natural gas as a transportation fuel, as well as American jurisdictions such as New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, California, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

According to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the transportation sector in 2010 was responsible for the largest volume of greenhouse gas emissions province-wide. Also, the sector has witnessed a significant increase in emissions since 1990, while some sectors, such as the electricity industry, have seen a decrease.


As I mentioned earlier, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles make up 3% of vehicles on the road today but contribute 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions. It is my hope that if we adopt this bill—a three-peat for Bob Bailey, my great colleague. He has already been successful in introducing the One Call act along with Paul Miller, the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, and his farm tax credit in the Local Food Act.

Mr. Speaker, I hope everyone in the House will endorse it, get it to second reading, to committee and get this bill approved.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: I want to thank the members from Cambridge, Wellington–Halton Hills, Welland, Toronto–Danforth, Burlington and Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound for their comments so far this afternoon. I do want to thank the member from Sarnia–Lambton—the hard-working member from Sarnia–Lambton—for introducing a very good bill, a bill that I will be supporting.

Mr. Speaker, we know that in order to meet the demand for affordable, clean and safe sources of fuel for future generations, businesses and governments are exploring the transformative potential of natural gas as a transportation fuel for North America’s energy-dependent trucking and manufacturing sectors. We know that natural gas is a considerably less expensive, safer, cleaner-burning fuel than petroleum. NG vehicles do offer comparable or superior performance to conventional vehicles, incur lower maintenance costs, and therefore improve the economic competitiveness of the companies that use them.

The recent development of vast shale gas deposits in North America has driven demand for what is becoming a readily available domestic fuel source that has historically been priced lower than oil, and it is a made-in-Ontario fuel source as well, I might add.

I’m very excited to see a member from the party opposite bring forward a private member’s bill that could help reduce our carbon emissions in the province of Ontario, an initiative to which I know this government is intensely committed. Natural gas can produce 25% less CO2 emissions than regular fossil fuels. To see the Progressive Conservative Party take up the issue of climate change is a positive sign.

A few weeks ago, my colleague from Glengarry–Prescott–Russell introduced a motion calling on members of the Ontario Legislature to come together and recognize the science of climate change and the urgent need for Ontario to act immediately. While that motion passed, the caucus of the party opposite doesn’t seem to be unanimous in their views on climate change.

The member for Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington stated at an all-candidates meeting in June 2014 that he is very skeptical about climate change, that we have problems today, that we can’t worry about what may happen in 50 years and we need to address the problems that are now and factual.

So I’m happy that the member from Sarnia–Lambton does think that these things should be thought about today and in the future as well. I applaud the member’s commitment to the environment and climate change by putting forward this private member’s bill, especially given that perhaps his seatmate doesn’t share his views on these matters.

Climate change is a great challenge, an issue that should be above partisan politics, and this is an issue that I’m happy we’re debating in this House. I will be supporting this legislation, and I encourage all members of the House to do so as well.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Laurie Scott: I’m pleased to rise again today to speak to yet another bill before the Legislature. The member from Sarnia–Lambton, who is an outstanding member of our caucus—I know that was mentioned several times by the government members over there. I think they like the member from Sarnia–Lambton a little bit more than some of our other members. I won’t mention any of their ridings.

The member always does things in very good conscience. He comes from the birthplace of natural gas and oil and gas: Sarnia–Lambton, we all know it well. He listens to what people are saying and he cares about the province of Ontario. So by introducing this piece of legislation, it encourages the purchase of vehicles that use natural gas as a fuel.

Things are evolving. Natural gas as a transportation fuel is certainly an opportunity where we can do what is right not only for our business environment but also for our natural environment.

This will enable the Lieutenant Governor to make regulations prescribing higher weight limits for vehicles that use liquefied natural gas as a transportation fuel. It also would report annually to the Legislative Assembly. We’re all about more transparency and accountability, and if things are working right or not working right—we’ve discussed that earlier in the Legislature also.

It’s an affordable and safe fuel. You see that other provinces are certainly moving forward. The member talked about—what’s that? The 401 corridor between—

Mr. Robert Bailey: The blue ribbon corridor.

Ms. Laurie Scott: The blue ribbon corridor from Quebec, but also the fact that hopefully we still have some manufacturing that may come to this province. We keep trying to make that happen. We have to be competitive.

Interjection: Three more years.

Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes, three more years, and we might have a change in government that would actually do something to help manufacturing in the province of Ontario.

We’ve seen other provinces move on that. We’ve seen other states move on that. It makes sense, sure. Does it need to be debated? Do we need to hear in committee from the people who know, the experts? We do, for sure.

But we also know that Natural Resources Canada identified medium and heavy-duty on-road transportation as the greatest value proposition for natural gas transportation fuels moving forward. We’ve got reliable truck technology that utilizes natural gas, giving North America’s cargo transportation sector a shot in the arm, reducing emissions and lowering their transportation costs, delivering critical savings to the bottom line.

The Environmental Commissioner, who, I want to say, is planning his retirement in the next few months, has commented on the transportation sector in 2010, that it was responsible for the largest volume of greenhouse gas emissions province-wide. This is a win-win situation for both business and for our natural environment.

The member for Sarnia–Lambton has done an excellent job of bringing this bill forward, and I think we may get support from the Legislature today.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you all for your comments.

The House is a little noisy, so I ask everybody to tone it down.

I now return to the member for Sarnia–Lambton. You have two minutes.

Mr. Robert Bailey: I’d like to thank all the members from all sides of the House. I’ll name them: the members for Welland, Cambridge, Wellington–Halton Hills, Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, Toronto–Danforth, Burlington, Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound and Etobicoke–Lakeshore—


Mr. Robert Bailey: Yes, and the member from Willowdale, who had lots of comments and interjections all the way through; I’ll deal with him later. Anyway, they were all meant in that jocular tone that we all expect here.

Yes, there’s lots of debate to have. I look forward to it if the Legislature sees the wisdom of passing this at second reading and we take it to committee: bring in some experts, bring in people from all sides—those opposed and those in favour—and hear from them. It’s well known that there’s a great supply of natural gas through different procedures in North America.

As the member from Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock said, I come from the birthplace of the oil industry, the Oil Springs and Petrolia area, where it was first discovered. We’re still pumping oil and still pumping gas. They’re storing gas that’s used here in Toronto and eastern Ontario at the Dawn hub. I know a number of people have had the opportunity to visit the Dawn gas plant; we call that the hub. We pump gas in there all summer long, and then it goes out to Toronto and all over the eastern parts of Ontario to heat during the winter, and we’ve had some cold winters.

Because of the environmental reasons and the cost for our manufacturers to get goods to market, there’s all the right reasons to vote for this bill, to make this fuel available.

I was thinking: At the oil museum in Oil Springs, there’s a quote on the wall from the Bible. It says, “Then the Lord said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.... and the rock poured me out rivers of oil.” It’s the same with natural gas today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak here today. I look forward to the rest of the debate and the vote.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.


Terry Fox Day Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur le Jour de Terry Fox

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): We will deal first with ballot item number 37, standing in the name of Ms. Wong.

Ms. Wong has moved second reading of Bill 61, An Act to proclaim Terry Fox Day.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98(j)—Ms. Wong?

Ms. Soo Wong: Mr. Speaker, I would like the bill to go to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member has requested that the bill be referred to the committee on private regulations. Agreed? Agreed.

Transparent and Accountable Health Care Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur le financement transparent et responsable des soins de santé

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Madame Gélinas has moved second reading of Bill 78, An Act to promote transparency and accountability in the funding of health care services in Ontario.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98(j), the bill is being referred to the committee—Madame Gélinas?

Mme France Gélinas: I’d like to send it to the Standing Committee on Social Policy.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member has requested that the item be sent to social policy. Agreed? Agreed. So referred.

Natural Gas Superhighway Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur l’autoroute du gaz naturel

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Mr. Bailey has moved second reading of Bill 76, An Act to encourage the purchase of vehicles that use natural gas as a fuel.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98(j), the bill is being referred to—Mr. Bailey?

Mr. Robert Bailey: The committee on regulations and private members’ bills.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member has requested that it go to the committee on regulations and private bills. Agreed? Agreed.

Orders of the Day

Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, 2015 / Loi de 2015 sur l’abandon du charbon pour un air plus propre

Resuming the debate adjourned on December 2, 2014, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 9, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act to require the cessation of coal use to generate electricity at generation facilities / Projet de loi 9, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la protection de l’environnement pour exiger la cessation de l’utilisation du charbon pour produire de l’électricité dans les installations de production.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): When this item of business was last debated, the member from Windsor–Tecumseh had the floor with time remaining. Pursuant to the order of the House of earlier today, I recognize the member from Toronto–Danforth.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Thank you, Speaker. I appreciate that. It’s a pleasure to rise in my new role—or, might I say, my recycled role—as critic for the environment and climate change. I want to thank my colleague Percy Hatfield, the member for Windsor–Tecumseh, who did able work as environment critic. As you have said, he was only able to get five minutes into his speech, so there’s a little time left for me on the clock. I hope to be able to finish this commentary this afternoon.

The bill itself is pretty simple. As I said to the Sergeant-at-Arms the other day, when you hold it up to the light, you can see through it. It is not one of those great thick, complex bills, but it does carry out a particular task. It effectively bans the use of coal at four facilities in Ontario. It exempts the use of coal where it’s not used to make electricity for the grid, or primarily for the grid. If you’re burning coal at a car plant to make electricity and steam, then you carry on tomorrow as you carried on the day before.

I support this bill, Speaker. As my predecessor said, the plants in question are already closed, and this bill will make it more difficult for a future government to burn coal. No government will be able to start burning coal in those plants at the simple whim of cabinet. They won’t be able to make a decision late at night in a boardroom somewhere here at Queen’s Park, or simply at the end of an excellently catered meal around the cabinet table. They’ll have to come down into this chamber and they will have to fight for it if they want to resume burning coal to make electricity. They will have to fight for the right to start choking people again, to start sending children with asthma to emergency and to make our whole landscape hazy again. Memories of smog: Let’s put them behind us.

I see this bill as a firebreak against the return of coal. It’s not a steel wall. If you want something far more permanent, you actually have to dramatically reshape the energy system. But it is a firebreak, one that would slow down any government that decided it wanted to use coal in this province, which is why it’s intriguing to me that, both yesterday and today, the Minister of Natural Resources made it clear that he didn’t support my bill to ban fracking.

I had said yesterday that, “There’s no need for Ontario to risk environmental damage and lawsuits by leaving the door open to this controversial practice,” and that we have the opportunity to learn from the hard experience of others—in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and New York state—and we could act now. But the Minister of Natural Resources said, “‘We’re internally reviewing what our plans will be and we’ll go forward on that basis,’ Mr. Mauro told reporters.”

Speaker, I had a chance to talk to the Environmental Commissioner today, and that internal review has been going on since 2012. Somebody’s talking to somebody, hopefully. I would say that it is time for the minister to move that internal review forward and decide that, in Ontario, our future is not with fossil fuels. It is not with fracked gas. It is with conservation and renewables.

I’m very curious to know if the minister is having conversations with the gas industry. He said in a comment to reporters that there are no fracking applications to the ministry, no one is seeking a licence and there’s no exploration going on for fracking in Ontario right now. He didn’t say if they’d been going on two or three days ago or if a meeting was scheduled for next week. He didn’t say whether they were having general discussions in bars around town. He was fairly categorical in the items that were excluded. It intrigues me that, given the experience in other jurisdictions, given the concern that the governing party has expressed about climate change, he hasn’t come forward and been very direct that this is not a road we’re going down—not at all.

I’ve said that, here in Ontario, we need to be clear we’re not going to allow fracking to go forward, because the experience in the United States is that the companies that drill for this shale gas that fracture the rock go through those gas deposits very rapidly—an 80% decline in productivity in the first year. So they’re constantly having to drill for new sites and constantly having to look for new ground to explore. There’s no reason for us to be part of that new ground. As you may well be aware, Speaker, the Marcellus Shale, one of the most prolific gas formations for fracking, based in Pennsylvania, continues under Lake Erie and up to the North Shore of Lake Erie.

We need to act now, act proactively, so that we don’t have to deal with the lawsuits, the local fights, the local water contamination and the local noise problems years from now.

Mr. Mauro referred to my suggestion of natural gas deposits in Ontario as something that was “hypothetical.” Speaker, if it’s hypothetical, if there’s no skin off anyone’s nose, if we can avoid the sorts of lawsuits that Quebec is having to deal with now because they acted after the industry got involved, then it would make sense for the minister to support this bill.

The Minister of Natural Resources says that we don’t need a bill to ban fracking because fracking isn’t happening. By that same logic, the Minister of Natural Resources should vote against this bill because, in fact, we’re not burning coal in our electricity generation plants today. It’s not going on.

I have to ask: Will the Minister of Natural Resources speak for or vote in favour of this bill as we go forward? If he applies the same criteria that he has in dealing with the fracking of shale gas, then by rights he shouldn’t be supporting the government on this bill.


We need to go to the bigger picture, the context within which all three parties in this Legislature said they would stop burning coal in electricity plants in Ontario.

Two weeks ago, when we were debating the climate change resolution brought forward by the member from Glengarry–Prescott–Russell, I read a quote from Lord Stern, a former head economist at the World Bank, directed by the British government to write a report on the financial impacts of climate change. In 2006, Lord Stern reported back and talked about the necessity for action. He said this in 2006: “The investment that takes place in the next 10-20 years will have a profound effect on the climate in the second half of this century and in the next. Our actions now and over the coming decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.”

We’re talking about disruption of human society on an extraordinary scale, and those among us who may have lived through those events or talked to their parents or grandparents about those events know that in human terms that means we are engaged in a very high-stakes adventure, a very risky adventure.

Sometimes, Speaker, when you talk about that scale, it’s outside of many people’s experience, and it’s hard for them to envision. So I want to talk briefly about some of the day-to-day impacts I have seen from climate change from global warming in this city. Last week, I was going door to door on Gerrard Street in my riding. I talked to a woman, a grandmother, whose hydro bill had come in at over $1,200. That was about equal to her pension cheque.

Ms. Cindy Forster: For two months?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Two months.

I had a constituent last winter—all electric heating in his home—whose bill for two months was $1,500. That is a tremendous hit to any person’s pocketbook.

This February was the coldest we’ve seen on record in Toronto and the coldest in many parts of Ontario that has ever been seen on record. People felt that chill slam through them every time they went outside, and they felt that chill slam through their pocketbooks when they got their hydro bill.

I won’t underplay the impact of privatization on the cost of electricity in Ontario or talk about the impact of bad Liberal policies on our prices. But we’re going to have to recognize that more and more extreme weather is going to drive up our energy bills—because when it’s very cold we’re going to need more energy—and it’s going to make the cost of running the system higher.

As world weather patterns change, we will see extreme weather in ways that we haven’t seen before. While we were going through minus 20 degree days here in Toronto, in Fairbanks, Alaska, it was plus 5 degrees. It was one of the warmest Februarys they had ever seen. Weather patterns are changing. It isn’t just that the world gets warmer like a bath slowly getting warmer as you put more hot water in. No. You get very disruptive, very chaotic events that people notice when hurricanes go through places like Goderich, and when you have Superstorm Sandy going through New York City or Hurricane Katrina going through New Orleans—more and more disruptive events that have a huge impact in human terms and a huge impact financially.

In the summer of 2013, Toronto was hit with some of the worst flooding ever. I want to just read a bit about what the Toronto Star reported: “The storm and flash flooding that hit the GTA on July 8 has set a record for the province’s most expensive natural disaster, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.”

We’re all going to be stuck with those bills, either through higher insurance bills or by incidental costs that aren’t covered by insurance. I’ve already had constituents in my riding say that insurance companies have declined to renew insurance because they felt that their homes were vulnerable to flooding, that the sewer lines in their neighbourhoods weren’t adequate to protect them, and so parts of their coverage would be cancelled.

In that Star article, the Insurance Bureau of Canada Ontario vice-president, Ralph Palumbo, made a statement about the storm, saying that, “While these preliminary estimates are staggering, we do expect them to go even higher.”

He’s right. We do see very high costs.

I have to tell you, there’s more to global warming than just the costs; there’s also a smell. That smell is sewage in your basement. In Ontario, our sewer systems, our waste water systems, are built for a climate that no longer exists. Rainfall patterns are not the ones we had last century. They’re not the ones that engineers based the sewer and water systems on. They’re becoming more and more different. Storms that used to happen once a century now happen twice a decade. That speaks to significant property damage and significant insurance costs. People are going to spend more time shovelling sewage out of their basements, and they’re going to be spending more money. Global warming is hard on the nose, and it’s hard on the pocketbook.

We can understand those particular risks, of extreme weather causing physical difficulty and of extreme weather causing expense—expense for energy and expense for repairs. But there’s another level of concern that we need to start thinking about in this chamber and in this province, and that relates to financial stability.

I want to go back to talk about another event of financial instability that we need to take recognition of and incorporate into our thinking. That’s the 2008 financial collapse related to subprime mortgages.

If you ever have the chance, Speaker, there was a fabulous book called The Big Short, by a writer called Michael Lewis. He followed the growth of understanding amongst a number of investors that the international financial system had a very big chunk of rotten, dangerous assets that were rated as highly creditworthy: subprime mortgages.

A number of analysts followed the records, looked at subdivisions in Phoenix, in Orange County, in San Diego and all over the United States where mortgages had been given to people so that mortgage companies could make a profit—given to people who couldn’t afford to pay those mortgages. Then those mortgages were bundled together and sold to institutional investors, pension funds, banks and people who felt that they were investing in a grade A creditworthy asset. Unfortunately, all that came apart in 2008. There were staggering losses globally. Governments spent fortunes and went into deficit to shore up the financial system so we wouldn’t have another Great Depression.

I wanted to give you that background because we are facing a similar investment risk with oil and gas and coal. For those who have not followed the literature on this, I’ll just note a report provided by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario a few months ago.

He talked about the need for a planetary carbon diet, or call it a carbon budget. In 2009 the global community through the United Nations adopted a ceiling that we would not go past in terms of global warming: two degrees centigrade. When you go past that, you start getting very dangerous, very unpredictable climatic events—possibly irreparable—so there’s an awful lot of concern globally, in government circles and in scientific circles, that action needs to be taken to stay within that two-degree boundary.


Now, as the Environmental Commissioner wrote, we’re already about halfway to that threshold. So the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released calculations regarding a global carbon budget: How much can we burn before we go over the red line? How much can we burn before very unpredictable and dangerous events start happening? Their calculation was that, to have a reasonable chance of staying within that two-degree-centigrade increase, the global economy could only generate 1,000 gigatonnes—a gigatonne is a billion tonnes—of CO2 for future use.

At the current worldwide rate of CO2 release, this global budget will be exhausted in about 28 years. That’s a very short time frame in the life of a society; 28 years is a very short time. I’ll give you an example: The Wright brothers flew their first powered flight in the early 1900s—1903 is roughly my recollection—and 30 years later in 1933 or 1935, you had airline companies that were providing service across oceans. It’s not a long time, Speaker, 30 years.

There is a big disparity between that budget—what we can emit while staying within that two-degree-centigrade ceiling—and the amount of greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuels that are on the books with global coal, oil and gas companies.

In 2012, the World Energy Outlook, published by the International Energy Agency—a well-respected, well-regarded international institution—estimated that the remaining global reserves of all fossil fuels in the ground—that’s coal, oil and natural gas—would emit 2,900 gigatonnes of CO2 if burned.

So if the threshold is 1,000 and what people have on the books is 2,900, then about two thirds of what’s in the ground has to stay in the ground if you’re going to stabilize the world’s climate, if things are going to be safe or, if not safe, at least relatively stable in the future. But that raises huge questions, Speaker, because, as you may well imagine, if an oil company says, “The value of all my reserves has to be cut by two thirds,” then their stock value plummets. Anyone who has issued bonds to them realizes that those bonds may not be paid back.

Within Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index is one of the most carbon-intensive stock indices in the world. In 2013, the TSX had over 400 companies listed in the oil and gas sector, representing a market capitalization of their total value or worth—and here I’m quoting the Environmental Commissioner—of around $400 billion to $500 billion. The Environmental Commissioner stressed in his report that investors, pension plans and insurance companies had to start looking at these areas of investment through a climate lens, because they were putting their funds at risk by investing in these companies.

Several authoritative international organizations, including the International Energy Agency, Carbon Tracker, the United Nations and HSBC—a bank you may be familiar with, one that operates in this country and in this town—are warning investors to focus this lens quickly and act accordingly to avoid another kind of catastrophe, an economic one.

We saw in 2008 that investors sank billions—hundreds of billions—into assets that weren’t worth what the vendors said they were.

We’re in a situation now where oil, gas and coal companies are making a bet that the world will never act on climate change. If they’re right on that bet, that’s disastrous for us. If they’re wrong on that bet, it’s disastrous for their bottom lines, for their financial statements and for everyone whose investment portfolio is built on that edifice.

So this is not a minor or tangential issue. This is a huge risk area for us. The Bank of England is now seriously turning to the question of stranded assets and unburnable carbon given the major role that London financial markets have in financing fossil fuel investment around the world.

Last October, the British paper the Guardian reported: “The governor of the Bank of England has reiterated his warning that fossil fuel companies cannot burn all of their reserves if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate ... impacts of their decisions.

“According to reports, Carney told a World Bank seminar on integrated reporting on Friday that the ‘vast majority of reserves are unburnable’ if global temperature rises are to be limited to ... 2” degrees centigrade.

The governor of the Bank of England understands the kinds of risks that oil, gas and coal companies pose to the international financial system, just as subprime mortgages posed less than a decade ago. A decade ago, a number of people very smartly understood the risk and they got out of that market. There are a whole bunch of banks and investors—Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers—who got hit profoundly, and many countries took a profound hit from those unstable and risky assets.

So, Speaker, we have to understand and protect ourselves against risk in terms of our physical experience of the world. We have to understand it in terms of controlling our cost of living and cost of energy, and we have to understand it in terms of risk, financially. At this point, I don’t believe that this government understands those risks, and I am confident they are not preparing for those risks.

This bill, the one before us, is a small firewall against a bad practice, but if we’re actually going to take on the challenges before us, we need continuous, substantial steps towards changing our energy system. We have to move beyond oil, gas and coal.

The good thing for us is that already the cost of conservation is far less than the cost of electricity, for example. You can effectively reduce your need for electricity services at a cost of three to six cents a kilowatt hour.

You’re well aware of what it costs now when you pay your hydro bill. I got mine the other day. I did some simple arithmetic and figured out that although I had only been charged about $40 for the actual electricity, with service delivery etc., my average price per kilowatt hour was 21 cents. To the extent that I drive down my electricity use by making my house more energy-efficient, I can spend six cents a kilowatt hour or 21 or 22 cents a kilowatt hour. It’s far cheaper to invest in conservation.

But at the same time that that is true, the market for energy is changing in a profound way. In the United States, renewable energy prices are dropping dramatically. In the United States, the cost of solar power is competitive with or lower than electrical power from the grid in Hawaii and on track to be competitive in Arizona and California within the next few years.

Within five years, solar power is projected to be cheaper than grid power in about 20 American states, and banks are noticing. Banks are noticing the potential for disruption—technological disruption, economic disruption—of the existing energy systems.

Speaker, my bet is that at one point in your life you rented a video from Blockbuster Video. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think there’s a very good chance that you and a lot of people in this room at one time went to Blockbuster Video and rented a movie for an evening. My bet is that you can’t find one of them anywhere now because they’re gone. They met Netflix—game over.


We’ve seen disruptive technologies before. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when there was talk about bringing mobile phones to Ontario, I remember articles in the business press with people writing, “Is there really a market for this? Will people actually buy these things? Will they haul them around?” That was a valid question because I remember a guy in the early 1980s coming to a meeting that I was in, bringing his mobile phone and he was sort of tipped over because the battery on the phone was about the same size as a car battery, and it had this Bell rotary-phone-sized phone attached to it. But time moves on, and the mobile phone is clearly in command and landlines have lost out. Big telephone and communication companies lost out.

We have to understand that that is happening in the energy area as well with regard to renewable energy, with new technologies and with micro-grids that are going to change the way people use energy in North America.

Earlier in 2014, Barclays bank downgraded the whole electricity sector in the United States. They looked at that sector and said, “Hmm, Blockbuster Video, we’ve been there. We’re not going to put as much money in it as we have before.”

John Spears wrote a very good article in the Toronto Star business section. He quoted Barclays, saying, “‘In the 100-plus-year history of the electric utility industry, there has never before been a truly cost-competitive substitute available for grid power,’ Barclays wrote.

“‘We believe that solar plus storage could reconfigure the organization and regulation of the electric power business over the coming decade.’

“A combination of solar and storage is already competitive with grid power in Hawaii, Barclays said, and the trend will only grow.

“‘California could follow in 2017, New York and Arizona in 2018, and many other states soon after.’

“Barclays sees near-term credit risk for utilities where solar power is gaining traction. And it sees long-term risks ‘from a comprehensive reimagining of the role utilities play in providing electric power.’”

Barclays bank understands the potential scale of disruption of the electricity industry, understands the potential for solar power and other renewable technologies to make nuclear, coal, oil and gas electricity production uncompetitive.

Already in Germany, a country where there is not a lot of sunshine, solar power is producing power on houses at a cost of between nine euro cents and 12 euro cents per kilowatt hour. Remember, on our bills, we pay between seven cents and 13 cents a kilowatt hour.

Already in Abu Dhabi, which is looking at vast investment in solar power to provide electricity and to provide power for desalinization, they are signing contracts for electricity provided by solar panels at less than six cents a kilowatt hour. That was in a recent report from the National Bank of Abu Dhabi done by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cambridge University.

The reality of electricity production globally, of electricity technologies, is changing dramatically. We here in Ontario need to take advantage of that Netflix versus Blockbuster shift to redo our energy system. We need to be thinking on those terms.

It’s a good thing to stop burning coal. It’s a good thing to have a law prohibiting that. But, Speaker, we need to go substantially farther down the road not only to stop climate change but also to ensure that our energy system in Ontario is stable, that it is not a financial drag on the province but a financial asset, an asset that will give us an opportunity to get into global markets reckoned in the trillions, in the years to come.

One last point there: Lazard Brothers, the investment firm, did a report last year showing that the price of power from solar generation had dropped 78% over the last five years and that the levellized costs, the average costs, from new installations in North America was seven to nine cents a kilowatt hour. There is a radical change coming in the provision of electricity, in the provision of energy, and we have to be part of that change. We have to think further and we have to think bigger if we’re going to deal with climate change and if we’re going to deal with economic development in this province.

I want to look for a moment at some historical parallels. I think it was roughly 1928 when Herbert Hoover was elected President of the United States. The year following, 1929, was the great stock market crash. That crash was followed by years of unemployment in the 20%-plus range across the United States. Hoover’s approach was that the fundamentals were sound. He was going to tinker here or there and really just leave things the way they are and hope that it would turn out all right, which I think largely is the approach that the Canadian government is taking to climate change. I would say, with a few exceptions, it’s largely the approach that the Liberal government has taken to climate change.

If my memory is correct, in roughly 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in the United States on a program of addressing substantial market failures. I just note that Lord Stern, whom I referenced earlier in my speech, refers to climate change as one of the greatest market failures in history. Well, we are faced with another market failure.

FDR looked at that market failure and mobilized the power of the American government to do a number of things. He realized that the deregulation, the conversion of the financial system in the United States to effectively a casino, where buying stocks was like playing roulette—he recognized that that had destabilized the American financial system. He recognized that not having a framework of rules to protect savers and investors was poisonous for the economy. So he brought forward legislation that changed the whole framework of finance in the United States.

He was resisted mightily. He was vilified. He was popular because he was stabilizing the economy. People could see the potential for their savings to be protected and for people to be put back to work. But he acted in a way that revamped that whole regulatory system. He invested across the United States in job creation; he invested in infrastructure. He didn’t take the standstill approach of the Republicans before him.

When you have a profound failure of the market to address the issues that we face, when there is great peril to society and its structures, then you have to think much more like Roosevelt than Hoover. You have to start thinking about how systems need to be repaired so that the great issues of the day can be addressed.

I think that this government needs that with its climate thinking. I’ve heard the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change talk about the economic development, the business potential of developing renewable energy, and he’s entirely correct. There is a huge opportunity there. But it is going to take more than closing the coal plants to realize that opportunity. It’s going to need investment in technology, in structures that go beyond oil, gas and coal.

We’ve had this debate in the Legislature before—frankly, since climate change was a big issue in this Legislature—back in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. I will apologize to any who had to sit through this little bit of speech before.


But if you’re going to have a strategy that works, if you’re going to have a strategy that brings people onboard, the first thing you have to do is invest in those things that help contain or reduce the cost of living and put people to work. That says to me that this province needs to invest in the conservation of energy in a very substantial way. We need to be looking at cutting our use of gas, oil and coal by about 30% a decade. So 10 years from now, we should have reduced the use of those energy inputs by a third, and a third in the decade thereafter, and a third in the decade after that.

We should be assisting people to insulate their homes so they can dramatically cut their need for heating and cooling. We need to help people who are now on electric heating to move electric heating out of their lives.

You can insulate a building to the point where it needs very little energy input. Increasingly, that’s a goal in Japan, where they are looking at bringing in regulations so that within the next 12 to 15 years, all new homes have to be so highly insulated, and equipped with solar panels, that they are net zero energy, that they create as much energy from their solar panels as they take from the grid, that they use very little for heating and cooling. Germany has gone a fair distance down that road, requiring net zero energy as well.

People across Ontario would benefit from a program to retrofit homes to dramatically reduce their energy consumption. Mayor David Miller, a number of years ago, put forward his tower renewal project to refurbish apartment buildings across Toronto to dramatically cut their energy use and contain costs—contain costs so that people have the money they need for food, for transportation, for clothing, for education.

We import our energy. One per cent of Ontario’s oil and gas is produced in Ontario and 99% comes from outside the province. We spend somewhere, depending on the price of oil, between $35 billion and $50 billion a year on energy. We spend a huge amount on energy. To the extent that we replace those imports with investments we make here in Ontario, we create work in Ontario and we keep money in Ontario.

Renewable energy and conservation are capital-intensive, and we are the banking capital of Canada. We have the people who know how to do the financing. We have to stop putting all our eggs into gas, oil and coal, and put them into our construction companies here in Ontario. We need to put them into our tradespeople, we need to put them into our manufacturers, so that we here in Ontario displace the need for getting energy from Pennsylvania or Alberta or Algeria or the North Sea—it doesn’t matter. We need to make the investments in Ontario that will contain costs, that will drive costs down and that will put people to work.

A climate strategy that’s based around those principles is one that can mobilize people. Just as FDR’s New Deal mobilized Americans to take on the Great Depression—

Ms. Cindy Forster: You’re still talking.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: I’m still talking—we here in Ontario could mobilize the businesses, the working people and the institutions that would benefit from cleaner air, more work and stable prices. That is how we need to think about it; that is where we have to go.

In Germany, they have been engaged for about a decade—no, longer, two decades—in trying to reshape their energy system. You may or may not know this, Speaker, but we here in Ontario at the beginning of the 20th century benefited from the huge investment that Germany had made in engineering and innovation, because it was their work on long-distance transmission of power that made the transmission of power from Niagara to Toronto possible. German engineers were brought in to Ontario at the beginning of the 20th century to help make Ontario Hydro a reality.

Now today, again, globally they are the innovators. Their two largest companies, E.ON and RWE, suffered very substantial financial losses over the last few years because the market for the nuclear and coal power that they provided has been profoundly undermined. The spread of solar technology in Germany has allowed, in the middle of the day, a drop in power demand instead of the situation we have in Ontario, where we have a peak. That’s been a tremendous boon to German consumers. It’s been great in terms of their economic prospects but it’s really changed the picture—the world—for German utilities.

What they’ve had to do is recognize that the world is changing around them and those two very large companies recognize that they have to become solar providers, they have to become wind power providers, so they are moving big chunks of their business into leasing solar on people’s roofs. That’s comparable to what SolarCity is doing in Arizona, where they are leasing solar systems and competing head to head with utilities by putting those solar panels on people’s roofs. It’s a big shift in the business model; it’s a big shift in the energy model but it makes a huge difference in terms of your economic and ecological prospects.

I think that I’ve said most of what I want to say today; I know that I still have a bit of time on the clock. My hope is the government will bring this bill forward to committee relatively soon. I think that most of us agree that burning coal to make electricity has had its day and is gone.

What I hope as well is that we will soon see legislation in this chamber that not simply puts a firewall against the return of past practices but actually puts on the table initiatives that will substantially reshape our economy both for economic opportunity and for environmental opportunity.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Hon. Helena Jaczek: I’m delighted to rise in support of the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, and to respond to the comments made by our colleague from Toronto–Danforth. I was parliamentary assistant to three Ministers of the Environment and I think, as we just heard from the member, he is someone who is extremely knowledgeable about the effects of climate change. I must say, during the time that he was our critic and I was the parliamentary assistant, I found his comments particularly enlightening. I have done so this this afternoon as well.

Of course, why we’ve introduced this particular bill is to ensure that we never see coal used to generate electricity here in Ontario ever again.

As a former medical officer of health, I well remember when the Ontario Medical Association started compiling statistics on asthma in children and COPD—in other words, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The incidence rates in Ontario were increasing and were directly related to the type of pollution that was present here in Ontario due to coal-fired electricity generation. Of course, when our government did decide to eliminate these particular generating plants, we saw the rates come down. Fewer children, in fact, are suffering from asthma; we’re seeing less lung disease than we did. Clearly, this is something that we want to preserve.

We want to ensure, should there ever be a change in government, a change in policy—heaven forbid—around this, that we have this type of legislation that ensures that we will never see coal used to generate electricity again in Ontario. I clearly support this important bill and I certainly appreciate the comments from the member for Toronto–Danforth.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mrs. Gila Martow: I’m very happy to speak on the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act. The comments so far have been all about how we’re frustrated here in Canada that global warming and climate change are still needing to be discussed, and I think that part of the problem is that there was a lot of misleading marketing in terms of trying to sell global warming and climate change, so people are a little bit jaded in the discussion. I think that the focus really should be on what resonates with people: clean air and clean water. I think that’s why it’s so important that we’ve been talking about clean air and clean water for the last couple of weeks, in a lot of different bills. Maybe some of these bills should even be combined, because there seem to be a lot of similar discussions of an environmental nature on saving our air and water.

I just came back from visiting and learning about Taiwan. You realize just how serious the problem is when you’re in Taiwan and you can’t see the ocean until your feet are practically in it, because of the smog. The smog is in part because of things going on in Taiwan, but a big part of it is because of the coal plants in China, where one coal plant is being built pretty much every week. We’re here talking about ensuring that no coal plants get built here in Ontario, and hopefully in the near future we can stop coal plants in North America, but in the meantime we’re purchasing goods from China, where they’re being created cheaply using energy from coal plants. I think that we need to look a lot broader.

Of course, I’m happy to support this bill, and I look forward to hearing many more discussions on the topic.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Kitchener–Waterloo.

Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s always really interesting as a relatively new member to get the history from the member from Toronto–Danforth. He has the institutional memory of this place and how far we’ve come—or how far we haven’t come, in some instances. I do appreciate that. I think that he’s right on the money. Experts, international and national, know that the smart money is on conservation, but I think that the conversation around conservation, if you will, is also very strategically placed next to the economy.

Just a quick example: We used to have an energy retrofit program in the province of Ontario, and it addressed so many issues, like creating good jobs. It flushed out the underground economy, which has been a Groundhog Day theme in this place for a long time. But if we had such a policy in place, a citizen who knew that they were going to get a tax credit for using the certified services of an electrician to retrofit their home—that creates a good job locally. It’s good for the economy. It’s good for the environment, because there’s conservation. It’s also around consumer protection, because that’s a certified worker in that home, therefore protecting the consumer. Of course, there’s also the issue of safety and making sure that people know what they’re doing when they are retrofitting homes.

There are progressive ideas out there. It’s pushing the envelope, and pushing this government to try to actually have them embrace those ideas in a very holistic way. I think that the member from Toronto–Danforth did an excellent job of speaking to Bill 9, the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, but also connecting it to the need to actually accelerate the agenda on climate change and the environment. Our job as the opposition is to push that envelope, and I think that he did an excellent job today, as well.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments.

Mr. Monte Kwinter: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, 2014. The act, if passed, would ensure that the health and environmental benefits of prohibiting coal use for electricity generation in Ontario are protected by legislation.

Ontario’s elimination of coal-fired electricity is the single largest greenhouse gas reduction initiative in North America. Becoming the first jurisdiction in North America to close coal for electricity generation is the equivalent of taking up to seven million cars off the road. Ontario’s coal-fired power plants cost the people of Ontario an estimated $4.4 billion per year in health, environmental and financial impacts.

Protecting the environment while providing clean, reliable and affordable power is part of the government’s plan to invest in people, build strong infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate here in Ontario.

The proposed act reinforces a commitment to end the use of coal at existing generating facilities, and ensures that any new stand-alone generating station will not use coal. Coal-fired electricity generating facilities are major sources of air pollution. These harmful emissions are associated with major health impacts like premature death and increased hospital admissions for patients with asthma and chronic lung disease, as well as environmental damage to buildings, crops and ecosystems. Coal-fired electricity generating facilities are also large emitters of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global climate change.

Ontario’s elimination of its coal-fired electricity facilities is the single largest greenhouse gas reduction initiative in North America, and is a signature initiative under Ontario’s climate change action plan. Ontario’s coal-fired power plants cost the people of Ontario an estimated $4.4 billion per year in health, environmental and financial impacts.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you all for your comments.

I now return to the member for Toronto–Danforth. You have two minutes for a response.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Thank you, Speaker. My thanks to the Minister of Community and Social Services for her kind words, and to the member from Thornhill, the member from Kitchener–Waterloo and the member from York Centre.

I agree with the Minister of Community and Social Services that it’s very important that we prevent the return of coal-burning in Ontario as a source of electricity. I think that any law is going to be a firebreak, but it’s beyond laws when you need to make sure that something doesn’t come back at all. If there is no vacuum, if we have an energy system that provides all our energy needs, then there will never be an opening for coal. There will be no government that will try to force an opening for coal.

So I think the law is useful, just as I think a law banning fracking would be useful. But if this government, or any future government, wants to make sure that coal never makes a comeback, it needs to profoundly reshape the energy system.

I also want to pick up on the note from the member from Kitchener–Waterloo. It’s quite correct: When we were running programs where we gave grants and loans to homeowners to do home retrofits, and they had to provide invoices from contractors, it surfaced people, and it locked the underground economy. We need more of that. There is a huge underground economy out there, and to the extent that we can, through incentives or otherwise, put people into the above ground economy, the whole of society benefits. People get paid better wages, government collects taxes and those taxes can be used to provide services.

Speaker, I can see that there are multiple uses to an electricity or energy strategy that can benefit this society. I thank all those for their comments.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Hon. Michael Coteau: It is a pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill 9. I’ll be sharing my time with the members from Beaches–East York, Scarborough Southwest and our great member from Durham.

It’s been a real pleasure listening to the debate on Bill 9 in the Legislature. I think that most people who have spoken actually agree that the elimination of coal is a good thing for Ontario, and that our government, taking leadership on this position, has done a great job moving forward to eliminate coal here in the province of Ontario.

Speaker, I’m not an expert on environmental issues. I consider myself pretty well versed, but I’m not an expert. I would say that I would credit most of my education around this issue to two things. One, when I’m at the door talking to people in my community during campaigns or when I’m out there knocking on doors and talking to people, it’s an issue that comes up all the time. People are so concerned about the environment. They want to make sure, as we go forward here in Ontario, that we have an Ontario that is built in such a way that the air remains clean, farmland remains fertile and healthy, where young people with asthma don’t have to worry about these smog days that happened in the past and things like that.


The other place that I have this conversation is in schools. When I actually get into the schools and I talk to young people about the issues that matter to them, they talk about, of course, jobs and the economy; they talk about education, of course. As young people, education seems to be an issue they always bring up because they understand the importance of this issue.

I’ve had the opportunity to talk to people in my community. In fact, six, seven months ago I met with a group in my community, some community-based advocates on climate change, led by Tom Cullen. He came in to see me. The group was called Citizens Climate Lobby, Canada. They talked about issues around the environment.

I know we’ve made some massive progress here in Ontario over the last decade. There was a report published back in 2011—the same year I was elected. It was the Air Quality in Ontario report. There were some incredible numbers that came forward. The report said that air quality has improved significantly in Ontario over the past decade. They went through some of the numbers: a 35% reduction in carbon dioxide, 41% reduction in nitrogen dioxide and a 52% reduction in sulphur dioxide. I remember talking about these issues during the campaign. I would say that Ontarians are on board with the agenda that our government had to eliminate coal plants here in the province of Ontario.

I know that during the Progressive Conservatives’ time in power coal plant use went up 50% in this province. I was a young man who suffered from asthma. I know that there were smog days back then, prior to the elimination of coal plants, that would hit Toronto; you’d see this yellow mist over the city. Those days are behind us. I remember the Asthma Society of Canada coming to see me and saying that the number of asthma cases have dropped over the last decade here in this province.

I think this piece of legislation is so important to protect our efforts over the last decade, through legislation, to prevent any form of coal plant use for energy production here in this province from going forward in the future. We need to make sure that we amend this great piece of legislation, the Environmental Protection Act, so that we can protect the citizens, the young people here in this province.

The member from York Centre talked about some of the accomplishments. What have we done over the last decade? The fact that we’ve eliminated the equivalent of seven million cars being on the road here in Ontario—they say that this one accomplishment by our government to eliminate the coal production here in this province is the largest reduction in any type of emissions in North America; the best thing we could have done in North America to date to reverse the effects of coal on our society.

I’ll stop there, Mr. Speaker. I just want to say: I’m proud of being a Liberal, proud of our accomplishments and proud of the fact that we’ll continue to go forward and protect the citizens of this province.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Beaches–East York.

Mr. Arthur Potts: It’s a great pleasure to follow the very erudite reasoning of the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. I know this is not an area of immediate expertise for him but he handles himself so beautifully in this House, and it’s a pleasure to follow him—


Mr. Arthur Potts: I’m trying to get some legacy material out of the Pan Am Games.

I am very happy to speak to this bill. Number one for me is that this bill reinforces what a great decision it was when we closed the coal-fired plants in this province. We spoke about the health impacts, how important that is and how important it has been to Ontarians. I would like to now find a way that we can go and maybe get compensation from the other coal plants on the other side of the border that continue to send smog over this way. The benefit in asthma case reduction to people who suffer, by having fewer smog days, has been tremendous.

But also it reinforces what a great decision it was as a greenhouse gas elimination measure. Closing these plants, as was said—it’s one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas reduction in Ontario. Another large one was, of course, the flaring of landfill gas out of Keele Valley which went a long way to reducing greenhouse gas in Ontario, and it’s very important.

But this bill, in its current form, stands as a pre-emptive strike against others maybe later down the road—a new government coming in—reopening these plants for coal purposes. Now it’s a little odd for us to be doing a pre-emptive strike. It sort of suggests that we feel some insecurity, that maybe we won’t be here next government—because this government clearly would never put coal back in these facilities—but it does not allow any future government to, and we think that’s very important.

More to the point, it stops others from thinking they can come into our province to maybe refurbish these old plants with coal. It just gives them a very strong signal that we are a no-coal-electricity-generation jurisdiction, so stay away. Other investors won’t be coming here and trying to—and it won’t even be different technologies like clean coal. We hear a lot about clean coal technologies. We didn’t run on the premise of getting on to clean coal; we said no coal. That was the direction to go because you can maybe burn coal cleaner, but you’re still going to have these very, very atrocious GHG impacts, and that’s just not appropriate.

What we also have done is, we’ve opened up these four facilities as an opportunity to do different biomass electrical generation in these facilities. I believe at the Thunder Bay Generating Station, in 2015, they will start up with biomass, with wood waste from the northern communities and with straw from agricultural production. They’ll be able to generate electricity, which is much needed up in that community, with very low GHGs, very low health impacts, and that’s very, very important.

Other technologies associated with use of coal, like gasification and pyrolysis—we’re saying no. You can’t be generating electricity with it, because we’re still not comfortable with the impact it will have with NOx and SOx. But what we do encourage and continue to allow is to use coal in manufacturing purposes and to take the spill-off heat from manufacturing, to repurpose it in electricity, steam or some other process.

So we recognize, unlike maybe the member from Toronto–Danforth, that as important as solar power and wind power are, you cannot fire cement using solar power and you cannot make steel using solar power. We still have a need in Ontario for these very important industries—the cement and the foundry industries—to have coal as a source of energy in order to produce these products. I wish we didn’t, but there is no other significant alternative available. As a result, we will continue to allow coal use. We allow coal use in those facilities in a very productive way if you can actually get waste heat from them. We have two very specific exceptions in this bill—first, if you are the primary manufacturer of a product other than electricity to use waste heat in order to produce electricity both for your own use and for the grid use as a waste product. Secondly, as a different facility, if you are taking that off-heat, that off-waste steam and such, from a primary facility that uses coal, you will be able to put that into production use as well.

So this is a pre-emptive strike. It’s a very important one which sends signals on how important this issue is to Ontario and to this government. I’m delighted to have a chance to speak to it today. I’ll turn over my time to, I think, the member from Scarborough Southwest.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Scarborough Southwest.

Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti: It’s a pleasure to have a few minutes to discuss the bill that’s in front of us here today, Bill 9, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act to require the cessation of coal use to generate electricity at generation facilities.

I only have five minutes to speak, and I could go on for an hour here, Mr. Speaker. The gist of it for me is that less coal days, now that coal is gone actually, means less smog days. I remember years ago, we’d have a lot of smog days in the summertime, in Toronto especially. They would say, “Okay, today’s a smog day. If you have asthma or if you’re a senior citizen, stay indoors.” Those are gone now; very few happen during the summertime. It’s obvious that coal has that effect. I had a lot of people who have asthma telling me that they don’t have to worry about staying indoors during the summertime.

I also want to touch on something else that coal-firing does. It really damages our atmosphere. As the previous member spoke, he touched on this issue. I think it’s really important to see that climate change is a big issue.


What’s interesting is, we’re taking it seriously in this government. We have a minister who deals with that, and the federal government, at some point, hopefully will become more attuned to it. But in the United States, the Republicans say there’s no climate change. I read an article today in the Washington Post. There’s a senator running for president. His name is Ted Cruz. He was born in Calgary, actually, and he’s running for President. He came out today and basically said, “I rely on the science, and the science says there’s no climate change.” I guess he doesn’t read articles about what’s happening at the North Pole with the ice melting, and also in Antarctica, where there’s a lot of ice melting. Around the world, most countries realize that there is climate change and we had better do something about it now or our children and our grandchildren are going to be suffering the consequences of what we in this generation do in our lifetime.

I also listened carefully to the member from Toronto–Danforth. In part of his speech, he spoke about how our infrastructure nowadays cannot handle all the changes that have occurred in the last 50 years, the last 20 years.

I know that I personally experienced that myself. In 2012, I was home in my basement and it started to rain. It came down really strong in Scarborough Southwest. It was almost as if the clouds decided to go into my riding and just flood my riding. In a matter of half an hour, so much rain fell that my basement was knee-high in rainwater. It wasn’t very clean, either. To make a long story short, we had to redo our basement. There were several people in the area who got hit by this same effect, and all it took was a freak rainstorm.

The year after that, we had a windstorm that knocked out a lot of trees. We also had the ice storm, which caused electricity to go out all over Toronto. I can’t remember in my childhood that ever happening. A lot of people were left in the dark. On Christmas Eve, I drove through the riding with my wife, and almost all the neighbourhoods were totally black, blacked out. It was the strangest thing of all.

I think we have to do something. As has been said earlier, unfortunately, our American friends don’t see it that way. They’d better see it. I mean, the President, Mr. Obama, is aware of it and he takes it seriously, but it’s unfortunate that the Republicans there don’t take it seriously. God forbid they elect a Republican. I won’t think who will get elected—Jeb Bush—but whoever it is, they’re not going to deal with this problem. It’s going to get worse and worse.

I’d like to talk a lot more, but I’ve only got 30 seconds to wrap up here. I also wanted to say that, around the world, some countries, some islands, are starting to disappear. Some small islands in the Pacific Ocean and other places are disappearing because we have more water and it’s covering them up. So I don’t know what kind of science the Republicans are looking at in the United States, but the truth is that there’s a lot of climate change.

This government is acting responsibly with what we’re doing right now, and hopefully this will help a little bit to prevent worse climate change, which is probably going to happen in the years to come.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Durham.

Mr. Granville Anderson: Speaker, it’s a pleasure for me to be able to speak to Bill 9 this afternoon. Bill 9 is an important bit of legislation.

I was asked, “Why is there a need for Bill 9, since coal-fired generators have been eliminated, or coal-fired plants?” And I said, “This is in place to protect future generations, to protect our young people and to make sure that this never happens and we never revert back to times as they were prior to 2003.”

The purpose of this act, Mr. Speaker, reinforces the commitment to end the use of coal at existing generating facilities and to ensure that any new stand-alone generation stations will not use coal. Coal-fired electricity generation facilities are major sources of air pollution. These harmful emissions are associated with major health impacts like premature death and increased hospital admissions for patients with asthma and chronic lung disease, as well as environmental damage to buildings, crops and our ecosystem.

I come from a workers’ compensation background and I have seen what COPD can do to patients, to people and families that are exposed to emissions of coal and other chemicals in the workplace that affect our environment. I am speaking from some first-hand knowledge, seeing the detriment, devastation and associated costs that this adds to our economy. I wonder sometimes how our friends on the right, especially Republicans—how do you put a cost on the health of humans and on human life? That baffles me. I’m always at a loss to see how anybody could support that.

This government has taken steps to eliminate coal from our economy and from our province. In 2012, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from coal electricity were 93% and 88% lower, respectively, than they were in 2003, so I commend our government for taking steps to eliminate coal in this province. In 2003, coal accounted for 25% of our generation; in 2012, coal-fired generation made up less than 3% of Ontario’s total electricity generation.

The last of Ontario’s coal plants, the Thunder Bay Generating Station, stopped burning coal ahead of schedule in 2014. This station is being converted to use advanced biomass as a fuel for electricity generation.

This government is concerned about the potential health, environmental and financial costs associated with the use of coal at a stand-alone generating station. Under the Environmental Protection Act, the maximum fine for a corporation for a specified offence is $6 million, and $250,000 for an additional offence.

Clean coal technology research has been under way in the US, Canada and Europe for many years. However, these technologies do not eliminate the harmful pollutants of coal, and they are not commercially viable. You may hear, “Oh yes, technology has advanced and we can use that.” No, Mr. Speaker. It eliminates some, but there is still potential harm to our society as a whole.

Again, our government has taken steps to ban this, and we are one of the only jurisdictions that has done so. I am so proud to stand here and be a part of a government that put the health of Ontarians first, ahead of profits.

Again, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for this opportunity to speak to this bill.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments.

Mrs. Julia Munro: I’m pleased to offer a few comments in today’s debate. I recall probably 20 or 25 years ago, when the aforementioned smog days that people have referred to were quite common. One of the most compelling issues about that was that, at the time, 50% of the particulates making up our air quality came from the US. So there was a recognition by the government of the day, which was the Progressive Conservative government, that there was a role for us to play, despite the 50% problem that we faced.

At that time, we made the decisions to decommission coal-fired generating stations. The first one of those decommissionings was that of Lakeview in—I don’t know whether it’s Etobicoke or Mississauga, but—

Mr. Ted Arnott: Etobicoke.

Mrs. Julia Munro: Etobicoke? Thank you. In the election of 2003, the announcement had been made and the decommissioning process had been recognized and had begun. I found myself, as a candidate in that election, having a Liberal candidate oppose me with the fact that they were going to have the coal-fired furnaces closed by 2007. I went to the then Minister of the Environment and I said, “How am I supposed to say that it will be by 2014 and my opponent is saying 2007? Why is there such a discrepancy?” Well, it was explained to me very easily that the experts had told us 2014. When the government of the day became the Liberals—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you.

Mrs. Julia Munro: —they kept the 2007 date for a while—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you.

The member for—oh, now you hit me. You got up to—

Interjection: Timmins–James Bay.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Timmins–James Bay.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: It’s okay, Speaker. I can’t remember names. So if you don’t remember a riding, we’re doing okay.

I just want to say a couple of things in this rotation in the two minutes. First of all, each political party has taken pretty well the same position over a number of years when it comes to coal. All of us had a goal to get rid of coal by 2017, I think was the original date, or 2014. I can’t remember the exact date. So when I hear members across the way saying, “I’m so glad that my government did it”—well, excuse me, I was here before you guys were government, and I remember some coal plants being closed down by the nasty Mike Harris government, and certainly it was a direction that the nasty NDP government was doing before that.

Everybody in this House, on all sides, understood that coal was an issue and that we had to have as a goal the reduction of coal. The real question was, when we do that, how are we going to replace the power that coal generates, which is pretty inexpensive compared to a whole bunch of other forms of energy out there? I just want to say that this is something that we’ve all done.

The other thing is, it’s interesting that we’re bringing legislation now. After we’ve closed down all the coal plants, we’re passing legislation in this House preventing the use of coal, which seems to be kind of backwards in the sense that I’m sure the government’s got a whole bunch of stuff on the order paper that they’d like to talk about, that they could be talking about. Instead, we’re debating a bill that, quite frankly, is a bit moot. We got rid of the coal plants. I think we can all take a bow on that. We found new means of energy to replace it, although be it more expensive; there’s no question about that. But we’re doing legislation that, quite frankly, is not going to change the outcome of anything other than make us feel good, that we ban coal after we got rid of coal.

I just say to the government across the way, I would hope that we would be able to use our time in debate on something a little bit more pressing.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Hon. Mario Sergio: I didn’t think late on a Thursday afternoon that I would have the pleasure of standing and doing two minutes on something that has been talked about for many, many, many years—at least since I have been here—about coal generation stations and clean air, one versus the other.

I have enjoyed, I have to say, the various comments made by the various speakers, especially Toronto–Danforth, who is well conversant with the issue; and my friend here, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport; Beaches–East York; Scarborough Southwest; and Durham as well; and of course, the member from the north—sorry. That’s not fair.

Mr. Arthur Potts: Timmins–James Bay.

Hon. Mario Sergio: Timmins–James Bay.

Speaker, let me say that I remember when we said we were going to start to close all coal-fired generation stations, and we did that. Some things that the member from Timmins–James Bay said: “You have already eliminated it. What do you need this for?” Well, we want to make sure that never again are we going to be subject or put our people to be subject to what they were subjected to years ago. We want clean air now. So those stations are closed. Keep them closed so never again will we have to inhale dirty air. It may cost a few dollars more, but let me say that it’s doing wonderful things for our people, especially our young people, and it is the right thing to do.

So whatever it takes, if this is going to take some other time to do it, well, let’s do it, but at least we’re sending a clear message that in the future we are going to have clean air.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mrs. Gila Martow: I’m happy to give some comments on the bill, the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act.

We just heard from the minister responsible for seniors. I would just remind everybody that in 2003 he was part of the Liberal team during that election campaign that promised to close coal plants in 2007, while the PCs said they would close them in 2014 and that it couldn’t be done so quickly. Here we are in 2015, and we all know that the plants were closed in 2014, so we know who has the crystal ball: It’s on this side of the House.

As a fairly new member—I guess I’m still one of the rookies here—I’ve done quite a bit of research. Everybody keeps giving me more research, piling it on my desk. I’ve looked at some pretty big portfolios and projects—Ornge, eHealth, MaRS, gas plants—and everything doesn’t seem to be managed very well. I feel that there are much more important things that we could be discussing, since the coal plants are already closed. I don’t know that we really need a separate bill—maybe an addendum to an existing bill—to say that we shouldn’t open new coal plants, which we know we wouldn’t open anyhow. Maybe this is considered kind of a distraction. Maybe this is a feel-good bill.

But of course we in the PC caucus support not reopening coal plants, and we support initiatives to help people lower their energy bills, because the green energy policy was another big mismanaged portfolio. Mr. Speaker, I can recall working up in Keswick, where people were living in trailers that they thought were homes because they were fixed up. We all know how fast our car gets cold when we turn off the engine, and these people—what their energy bills must be for tiny little houses that are really trailers. So we have a lot more to do in this province.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): We now return to the member for Beaches–East York. You have two minutes to wrap up.

Mr. Arthur Potts: It’s a pleasure to respond on behalf of the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport and the MPPs from Durham and Scarborough Southwest.

Let me thank the member from York–Simcoe for remembering about the smog days that once were and how those are now behind us and for a bit more of the history of the Lakeview, Mississauga, plant and its closing.

Also, the member from Timmins–James Bay—I appreciate his great leadership. He has reminded us how all parties have come forward, and it’s fantastic that we’re now at a stage where we can all celebrate that together.

But this is hardly a moot bill, and I think the minister responsible for seniors made it absolutely crystal clear for us why it is not moot for us to be discussing this here today. That’s because the minister of senior services has been here a long time. He’s seen the flip-flops. He knows how governments change and how a policy that was here, with a new government, can be there. I think we should appreciate that sage guidance and advice that we’re getting from him about how important it is to move forward with this bill.

I further would like to say to the member from Thornhill: It’s wonderful in hindsight to be able to look into a crystal ball. I’m sure it was the same crystal ball that was used during the campaign to create a million jobs in Ontario—a million jobs, and there were only 450,000 unemployed at the time. We all wondered, “How are they going to do it?” She must have looked into the crystal ball and said, “Well, we’ll just fire 100,000; that’s a start. We’ll get closer to it.”

Hon. Steven Del Duca: They were standing in a hall of mirrors.

Mr. Arthur Potts: The hall of mirrors—there’s many crystal balls.

This has been an excellent debate. I much appreciate the opportunity to participate in it. This is a pre-emptive strike, absolutely, but it’s also a reminder to all investors that if you want to do business in generating power in Ontario, good distributed energy is the way to go. That’s why we are building responsible gas-powered plants, which are cleaner than coal, all around the province to replace it. Distributed generation is important to a good, healthy smart grid system, and this bill reminds everyone about that.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Seeing the time on the clock, this House stands adjourned until next Monday at 10:30 a.m.

The House adjourned at 1759.