STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES BUDGETS DES DÉPENSES
Tuesday 21 October 2014 Mardi 21 octobre 2014
The committee met at 0900 in room 151.
Ministry of Transportation
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Good morning, members. Good morning, Minister. The committee is about to begin consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation for a total of 10 hours. As we have some new members, a new ministry and a new minister before the committee, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the purpose of the estimates committee is for members of the Legislature to determine if the government is spending money appropriately, wisely and effectively in the delivery of services intended.
I would also like to remind everyone that the estimates process has always worked well with a give-and-take approach. On the one hand, members of the committee take care to keep their questions relevant to the estimates of the ministry, and the ministry, for its part, demonstrates openness in providing information requested by the committee.
As Chair, I tend to allow members to ask a wide range of questions pertaining to the estimates before the committee to ensure they are confident the ministry will spend those dollars appropriately.
In the past, members have asked questions about the delivery of similar programs in previous fiscal years, about the policy framework that supports a ministry approach to a problem or to service delivery, or about the competence of a ministry to spend the money wisely and efficiently. However, it must be noted that the onus is on the member asking the question to make the questioning relevant to the estimates under consideration.
The ministry is required to monitor the proceedings for any questions or issues that the ministry undertakes to address. I trust that the deputy minister, who is here today, has made arrangements to have the hearings closely monitored with respect to questions raised so the ministry can respond accordingly. If you wish, you may at the end of your appearance verify the questions and issues being tracked by the research officer who is here today.
Are there any questions for members before we start? No.
I am now required to call vote 2701, which sets the review process in motion. We will begin with a statement of not more than 30 minutes by the minister, followed by statements of up to 30 minutes by the official opposition and then 30 minutes by the third party. The minister will then have 30 minutes for reply and the remaining time will be apportioned equally amongst the three parties.
Minister, the floor is yours.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thank you very much, Chair. Good morning, members of this committee. It’s a pleasure for me to be here with all of you this morning. I appreciate the opportunity, having been called, having been asked to be here. I certainly look forward to the discussion that we’re going to have over the next 10 hours, as the Chair mentioned.
I would, right at the outset, ask for your indulgence, because I’m fighting a tiny bit of a cold, so if my voice happens to be lost at any point, that’s the reason.
I’m really happy, as a relatively new Minister of Transportation—as the Chair mentioned in her remarks—having served now for roughly four months, to be given this opportunity and to be joined here at this committee by all of you. I’m also very delighted to be sitting alongside the Deputy Minister of Transportation. Here, as you will all know, I’m sure, in this room, there are a number of officials who have joined us from the Ministry of Transportation. We will, as a team here on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation, do our very best to respond to the discussion, to respond to the questions that are asked by members of this committee, and I think it’s entirely fitting and appropriate that the Chair, in her opening, talked about the back-and-forth dialogue and the discussion that will take place here. It’s certainly in that spirit that I appear here. It’s my very first time appearing before a committee as a minister and I do look forward to the discussion.
I was giving some consideration to my opening statement as I commuted down from my own home in my riding of Vaughan, which sits, as many of you know, just on the edge of Toronto—not unlike some members of this committee representing a GTA riding. It’s a community that I’ve lived in now for the last 25 or 26 years. I thought back to a time about a decade ago, long before I became an MPP, when I actually had the privilege of working in this building for my predecessor, Greg Sorbara. I worked for Greg for a couple of years. Thinking about the challenge that lies ahead of us, not just as a government but as a Legislature and as a province, I considered that a decade ago when I would leave my house in the morning, my commute to Queen’s Park would run somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50 to 55 minutes.
I now live with my wife in a part of Woodbridge that’s a little bit closer, physically, to Queen’s Park, than where I lived with my parents a decade ago. My commute this morning, my commute most days, is somewhere in the neighbourhood of an hour and 10 minutes or an hour and 15 minutes, each way. When you start to add those numbers up—and I know I’m talking about my community and my particular riding, but whether you’re representing or live in a GTA community, whether you’re from Kitchener-Waterloo, whether you’re from parts of eastern Ontario, the north, whatever it is, I know that we face significant challenges with respect to our transit and transportation infrastructure. There hasn’t been a place to which I’ve gone as Minister of Transportation over the last four months, there hasn’t been a community that I’ve visited, where the appetite, the demand, the interest, the excitement about our government’s ambitious 10-year plan for transit and transportation infrastructure investments hasn’t been considerable.
Thinking about those last 10 years, as I referenced a second ago, we have made extraordinary investments as a government since 2003 in transportation and in public transit infrastructure, but a combination of explosive population growth across this region and in other centres around Ontario, I think, combined with a variety of other unique factors, has put us in a position now where we really do need to get on with the job at hand. We really do need to act.
It’s a message that I’ve conveyed wherever I’ve gone since June 24, since being sworn in as the Minister of Transportation, that we really do have a responsibility. Understanding completely how important it is to do the analysis, to make sure that we have the discussions, to make sure that in communities there is some very healthy debate and dialogue but at the same time recognizing that we all have a responsibility, regardless of which party we represent, regardless of which community we happen to represent, we all have a responsibility to work together, roll up our sleeves and deal with the implementation.
When I look at my mandate letter and in the conversations that we’ve had, again, since becoming the minister, the one thing that is the most crucial to me, as someone who, like all of you, grapples with these challenges on a regular basis, is that we really do have to move towards the implementation of the ambitious plan that we talked about, that we referenced, that was the cornerstone, in fact, of the last provincial budget.
I take that responsibility very seriously. I don’t mind saying to all of you that I don’t pretend to be an individual who believes that he knows everything about everything. Being the Minister of Transportation is certainly an ongoing, fun learning experience and I learn something new every single day, every single week.
I’m blessed. I think we’re all blessed because of the extraordinary talent of the women and men who work in the Ministry of Transportation and across all ministries. We truly do have an extraordinary Ontario public service on which we all rely.
But I’m also the father of two young children. My older daughter will be turning seven in a couple of weeks and our younger daughter is just about three. I think about where they’re going to be when they’re my age, where I want them to be, where I think we all want them to be. I know other members of this committee and certainly other members of the Legislature also have young children. When I think about the investments and the way forward for our government around transit and transportation and around, certainly as well, road user safety, I know that I want my daughters to be in a position, in a decade or two or three, where they have a wide variety of options in front of them. If they decide to study or live or work in a different part of the greater Toronto and Hamilton area or in a different part of the province of Ontario—and I certainly hope they will, because I think our province offers the best opportunities when it comes to learning, when it comes to living, when it comes to working—I want them to be in a position where they’ll have a variety of options—accessible, affordable, reliable options—when it comes to moving themselves. I want them to be able to work in an economy where goods can flow, where economic development and job creation can be unlocked, where that potential certainly exists.
And so when I look at our plan—again, the plan that was contained in budget 2014—I realize that we’re making a commitment and we have a mandate to make sure that we are moving the province forward. As the Premier says often, we’re building the province up.
It is an ambitious plan, it’s a thoughtful plan, and it is a plan that certainly will help make sure that we have that next generation of transit and transportation infrastructure in place so that our quality of life can be strong, so that my daughters’ quality of life can be strong, so that our economy can be vibrant and prosperous, so that we can lure that foreign direct investment, so that we can create those jobs to give them and children like them, as they grow up in Ontario, the best of all the opportunities they deserve to have.
There’s something else that’s important for me to talk a little bit about this morning, because the plan is ambitious—and I will get into some of the details in a second, and I’m quite confident that over the course of our discussion here at estimates committee we will have lots of back-and-forth about elements of the plan, and I look forward to that.
But I think it’s important for me to explain, as best I can not only here at committee but elsewhere—when I’m talking about our plan, I think it’s important for me to recognize and to acknowledge and to explain to people that while the plan is ambitious, while the numbers are large, while the need and the demand and the excitement is considerable, that the work is going to be—I use the word “challenging,” but I use that in a positive way.
When you are working as hard as you can, as a government, as a society—at all levels of government, by the way; municipal partners and federal partners at the table, hopefully. When you’re working hard to build infrastructure—I use the phrase “after the fact” from time to time—of course there are significant disruptions that will take place.
When I’ve had the opportunity to be in different parts of this wonderful province, I’ve had conversations with mayors and people in the communities. I hear it from time to time: People are excited about what’s being built, they’re certainly thrilled about the prospects of what will be built. But there’s a recognition that there will be—and I say this in the interests of trying to manage expectations as well—disruptions at a community level. People will see the evidence of the extraordinary work that’s taking place. As they see increased service, as they have more options ahead of them, they’ll get a better sense of the progress that’s being made; it will make their lives easier.
But there will be a period of time—as you know, our plan calls for $29 billion worth of investments over 10 years. When you’re talking about that amount of investment, when you’re talking about that amount of physical work that needs to take place in many if not all of our communities, there will certainly be times in which residents that we all represent will feel some degree of inconvenience. I think that’s a natural by-product of the extraordinary work that’s going to take place.
I say that because I believe it’s important to convey that message, not only as Minister of Transportation, but back through all of you and all the other members of this Legislature, to our communities. We can’t successfully build Ontario up without making these investments, and there will be times along the way in which people in all of our communities feel a certain degree of disruption because of the investments we’re making.
I guess for an individual who has used the term “ambitious” many times in my opening statement so far, I think it’s also important for me to make sure that there’s a balance in terms of managing expectations.
As we go forward with the plan, as we talk about how this plan will be implemented in terms of the phasing and staging—because there are tons of both literal and figurative moving parts in this plan. I, alongside many of you from all three parties, had the opportunity to be at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference over the course of the summer. And one of the funny stories I tell—and I tell it in the most respectful way possible—is that throughout the meetings with the various delegations that came to see me, representing small communities from eastern and northern Ontario, southwestern Ontario, large urban centres, collections of mayors, regional chairs from all over the province—fantastic discussions back and forth in those 15-minute windows that we had before there was a knock on the door telling us that it’s time for the next group to come through. In those conversations, what I found remarkable, in a good way, was that excitement people have about the investments we want to make and that desire they have to lure investments, not only from the provincial government, but, of course, from the federal government, in terms of building up that crucial public infrastructure.
My little joke to most municipal folks, as the AMO conference proceeded over the course of a few days, was that there was no doubt in my mind that every single municipal representative I met with had a very clear sense of our $29-billion plan, but there was certainly less acknowledgement of the fact that it’s a 10-year horizon. I don’t say that disrespectfully. I have an enormous amount of respect for people who work with local government, of course—the 444 municipalities across the province of Ontario.
This coming Monday, we will have new councils elected across all of these municipalities. I think it’s our responsibility, as a provincial government, and my responsibility, certainly, as the Minister of Transportation, to work as closely as I can with all of our municipal partners because they are the women and men who are dealing with concerns from their local communities at that closest level, that most granular level.
I mentioned my experience at the AMO conference simply to illustrate that there is a ton of excitement about the plans that we have on a go-forward basis. I also mention it because when you are dealing with a little bit of catch-up—because the investments that are required are required in a significant way, and because you’re talking about, frankly, a large breadth and scope of investment that’s required—there will inevitably be communities that will see significant changes in the first few years versus those who will see changes perhaps in outer years. That’s all part of the discussion and dialogue that will be taking place, and I wanted to make sure that we clearly understood how those things might unfold.
As I mentioned a second ago, in the spring of 2014 Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a plan called Moving Ontario Forward. This is a plan that will, when fully implemented, help build an integrated transportation network across the province. The strategy, as I mentioned earlier, will invest $29 billion in transit and transportation and other critical infrastructure projects through two new dedicated funds. The funds will provide up to $15 billion toward priority transit projects in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area and nearly $14 billion toward projects elsewhere in our province. It will be funded through new revenue measures, repurposed revenues and a responsible level of debt financing where necessary. Just as important, it will leverage collaboration among communities, government ministries and agencies as well as input from citizens.
As a priority in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area, we will work to transform existing GO commuter rail into what we call regional express rail, an RER network, over those next 10 years. RER will provide fast and frequent electrified GO rail service in both directions during both peak and off-peak time periods.
As an individual who proudly represents the community of Vaughan—as many of you, similarly, as I look around this committee room, have GO service—the Barrie line, as it’s known, runs right through my community. Over the last two years since first being elected to represent Vaughan here at the Legislature, I’ve had the opportunity, on a number of occasions, to be at the two GO stations—one sits directly in my riding, and one sits on the edge of my riding. I’ve had the chance to spend the morning commutes with literally thousands of people from my community who use that service every single day, standing there and taking the opportunity to talk to them about some of the increases in service and some of the infrastructure improvements that we’ve made—the hundreds and hundreds of additional parking spaces, for example, that we brought to those two stations since 2003.
But more importantly than me as an MPP and now Minister of Transportation being there to convey a message to them, I found it extraordinarily useful for me to be there to hear back from them. This is why it’s very exciting for them to have heard about our plans over the next 10 years with respect to regional express rail. If there’s one thing that I’ve heard time and time again from those residents who use the GO service in my community—and I don’t believe it’s unique; I do certainly hear this from other members of the Legislature—it’s that the respect for the service is tremendous. People have seen those increases in service. People are aware not only about the long-term plan to fully implement two-way, all-day service at up to 15-minute intervals throughout the existing network; people are also excited to learn that in an incremental way over the next number of years, they will see increases in service.
Of course, the commitment that the Premier has made and that I have repeated about additional trains that will be running to Kitchener, for example, in 2016, just as one example—to know that in my own community over the last couple of years we have seen additional cars added to the trains themselves, platforms being extended. I mentioned a second ago additional parking spaces being brought to bear. The experience of commuters and residents in my riding is, I think, not unlike and is very much held in common with commuters. When you look at the numbers for GO itself and you track back over the last couple of years, you see that the usage rates are actually growing significantly, and I think that’s a positive sign, but it does help to underscore why it is so crucial that we continue to move forward with investments, that we continue to transform the services I referenced a second ago, because it’s a service that will provide real travel choices for residents and will significantly increase transit ridership, cut journey times and help manage congestion across the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
In addition to RER, dedicated funding will be used to build priority rapid transit projects connecting to GO Transit and other transit systems across this region. These projects will largely be drawn from the next wave of projects in the Big Move, along with other potential projects that support economic development and improve mobility. Projects will be selected based on rigorous business-case analyses in an evidence-based prioritization framework.
Moving Ontario Forward will also make historic investments in important infrastructure projects outside of the greater Toronto and Hamilton area. Projects that enhance economic growth and address critical local, regional and provincial needs will be identified, again, through an evidence-based process, which will include input from Ontario regions and communities. Initiatives that could be eligible for funding outside of the greater Toronto and Hamilton area include infrastructure development in the Ring of Fire, funding for bus and rail infrastructure delivered by the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, and, of course, strategic highway improvements.
We will also begin advancing an environmental assessment for high-speed rail in southern Ontario, particularly to link Toronto Pearson airport and Toronto with Waterloo region, London and Windsor.
Our plan, Moving Ontario Forward, will build on progress made to date. I think it’s very much worth noting that since 2003, our government has invested more than $19.3 billion in public transit in Ontario. This includes $9.1 billion specifically in GO Transit. Our investments are paying off. In 2012, there was an increase of more than 193 million passenger trips on municipal transit systems compared to 2003. To put that in perspective, because of those investments, because of those increases, we have removed approximately 161 million car trips from our roads.
We are encouraging people to use transit by making it a better option. Commuters choosing GO, for example, as I mentioned earlier, from those that I’ve spoken to in my own community, are experiencing a positive difference. There are service guarantees. Two-way, all-day service along the Lakeshore line is making life a little bit easier. There is improved service on bus routes as well, with Metrolinx recently rolling out its 500th GO bus.
We’re also helping more people move around on the TTC. Since 2003, our government has committed nearly $4.3 billion to help improve and expand transit in Toronto. One of the more highly visible results are the new streetcars, and I had the very sincere privilege of being there on that Sunday morning not that many weeks ago for the official launch of the new streetcars. I have to tell you that the excitement at the station as the new streetcar was rolling in was palpable. It wasn’t just elected officials; it wasn’t just representatives from the TTC and Metrolinx. There were literally hundreds of commuters, people who have a great deal of affection for the service that they’ve come to rely on in the city of Toronto, people who have a great deal of hope for what our future investments will bring to them and to their families and neighbours. To be there that day and feel that palpable excitement was something that I know I will never forget.
Already, those new streetcars are going into service on the 510 Spadina line route. They can comfortably accommodate twice as many passengers as the standard streetcar. The low-floor vehicle is larger. On that particular day of the launch it was fairly muggy outside, and I know that everyone appreciated the fact that they are air-conditioned—and that they’re fully accessible.
They are the first new generation of streetcars in Toronto in 30 years, and as I said a second ago, it was extremely encouraging not only to feel the excitement on the platform that day, but to also know that people were taking to social media to tweet their excitement, to tweet their enthusiasm, when they saw the streetcars that day and when they’ve seen them since. It confirms to me how much people care about transit and want to use, as we call it, “The Better Way.”
In total, Ontario is investing up to $416 million in this new generation of streetcars. By 2019, 204 new streetcars will replace all streetcars in the TTC’s current fleet.
Of course, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is another highly anticipated project. It is the province’s largest public transit construction project in more than half a century. It will help manage congestion in the city and create thousands of jobs. Tunnelling is well under way from the west launch site, and workers are building the future tunnel-boring east launch site. Head walls, which will form the future underground station boxes, are complete at Keele and Caledonia. Work has begun on the future Dufferin and Oakwood Stations.
Also, a little bit closer to home for me in York region, the Viva bus rapid transit project is making steady, incremental, yet noticeable progress. It’s building dedicated lanes in the centre of the road, known as rapidways. The first of the projects broke ground in winter 2009 and they are all scheduled to be completed by 2019.
The Union Pearson Express is on track to be operational for the Toronto 2015 Pan and Parapan Games. The exciting revitalization of Union Station is also making steady progress.
These improvements are all encouraging, but they are only the beginning. The future of transit in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area, the Big Move, is being led by Metrolinx. It will make a big and positive difference in the lives of people.
There are over $16 billion worth of transit expansion and improvement projects already under way across the greater Toronto and Hamilton area, and all of this supports our goal of managing congestion to keep people and goods moving throughout the region. As part of this effort, we’re continuing to work towards fare integration and expanding Presto. More than 1.2 million cards have been activated across the greater Toronto and Hamilton area and Ottawa. There have been more than 240 million taps.
Looking ahead, Presto fare card readers will be operating on all streetcar lines once the new fleet is in full service. This will allow commuters to travel seamlessly—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —and I see the member from Mississauga is demonstrating to the committee that he is also a Presto card user. I’m not going to ask him how many of those 240 million taps are his, but I’m sure it’s a significant number.
Another project that will make commuters’ lives easier is the recently announced GO bus terminal for downtown Toronto. It’s very exciting because it will bring bus and train services to one central location, meaning that commuters will have a better, more integrated travel experience. They will have intercity bus carriers, GO Transit, Via Rail, the TTC and the Union Pearson Express in one location, essentially making it a one-stop shop for commuters.
A commercial space above the terminal aligns perfectly with our government’s plan to create transit hubs integrated with sustainable employment developments. Construction of this new GO bus terminal at 45 Bay Street is expected to start in the spring of 2015, and will take three years to complete.
We need to continue engaging in this kind of visionary thinking that meets practical needs. We will keep making investments in transportation infrastructure so it keeps pace with the dreams and expectations Ontarians have for our shared future.
This is true, of course, across the rest of the province as well. For example, construction is now under way for 36 kilometres of rapid transit that will link Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. The project will connect commuters to two-way, all-day GO train service between the region of Waterloo and the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
In addition, our government has committed up to $600 million towards building rapid transit in Ottawa. This is the largest single provincial investment ever made to that city’s public transit system. Ottawa expects the project to create approximately—
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): You have about three minutes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —20,000 jobs. In total, since 2003, we have committed approximately 20,000 jobs.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): You have about three minutes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: In total, since 2003, we have committed approximately $1.09 billion to public transit in Ottawa.
I recognize, of course, as the Chair mentioned a second ago, I have roughly three minutes—and probably a little bit less than that now.
This list does go on. As I said at the outset of my remarks this morning, the plan is ambitious; it’s bold. It is something that will help us achieve the goals and objectives that the people of Ontario have with respect to making sure that our province’s infrastructure, both transportation and transit infrastructure, is built up in the most sensible way possible.
I said this earlier, and it does bear repeating: It doesn’t matter where I go in the province of Ontario, whether I’m in Kingston or I’m in downtown Toronto, certainly out in eastern Ontario, Kitchener-Waterloo, the north, wherever the case is; people are excited about the plan. But people want us to roll up our sleeves and get on with it. They want us to get shovels in the ground. They want to see meaningful and positive results delivered.
They want us, as a government, to continue on the track that we’ve been on for the last number of years, making sure that they have those options available to them, making sure that our economy will continue to grow, making sure that people will have that prosperous future, making sure that their quality of life—that opportunity to spend more time with their families, with their neighbours, doing the things that matter to them most—will be present for them.
I look forward to the discussion that we’re going to have today. I mentioned, as well, at the outset that I am sitting alongside the Deputy Minister of Transportation and the extraordinary team that’s here with us today. All of us will do our very best to answer any questions. I look forward to the back-and-forth and dialogue.
Again, I’ll repeat that I am a relatively new Minister of Transportation. I don’t pretend to know everything, but we will certainly do our best to respond in the most professional way possible to any questions that any member of this committee might have. So with that, Chair, I’ll conclude.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): The official opposition for 30 minutes: Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Good morning, Minister, Deputy, staff. Welcome to committee.
Minister, you have had the summer, obviously, to settle into your job and had the time to become fully briefed on the expenditures of your ministry and the fact it undertakes those expenditures on behalf of the Ontario taxpayers. I know that you’ve been busy in your first four months, and I hope you have had the time to get up to speed while you have criss-crossed the province making funding and project announcements. In fact, over the past couple of months, you have announced close to half a billion dollars to fund a series of transit and transportation projects. That’s not to mention the Green Bonds revenue tool you’ve announced for the Eglinton Crosstown nor the twin tower terminal down at Union. I’m hoping that in between those announcements, you have had the time to be briefed on your ministry’s planned expenditures—to provide fulsome answers for the questions we are going to be proposing over the next 10 hours.
It’s with that in mind that we look for your co-operation, Minister, to help us sort through the ministry’s estimates, in order that we can ensure openness and accountability when it comes to spending the Ontario taxpayers’ dollars on provincial transportation needs. As well, we look to you, Minister, to keep those priorities in mind as we pursue the simple truths behind the numbers and, as your mandate letter states, help us “move forward ... to grow the economy and create jobs ... through the lens of fiscal prudence.” I look forward to working with you and your staff to ensure that your ministry lives up to that mandate.
I will also say to you, the experience of some of the ministers throughout the estimates is that they can become long in the tooth in some of the answers, and I will give you a little bit of leeway. However, if there are times where I feel you are perhaps ragging the puck, we will interject and move on, so I thought I’d make that clear now. With that, I will begin, Minister.
With regard to the estimates, we notice there is actually a reduction in the capital expenses; in fact, it’s about $210 million less than in 2013-14. Now, you mentioned in your opening remarks the government’s ambitious investments in transportation infrastructure over the next little while and that you have pledged $3.3 billion in new transit and transportation infrastructure this year alone. I’m wondering if you can please explain to us where that $3.3 billion can be found in the ministry’s estimates.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I definitely appreciate your opening remarks. Again, I’m relatively new in this role; it’s my first time appearing at estimates committee as a minister. So I’ll do my best to keep my answers on point, and if I don’t, members of the committee or the Chair can let me know how to sharpen those messages and keep them closer to the point so that we can get through as much material as possible.
I have no doubt that the deputy will, in just a moment or two, help provide some additional elaboration with respect to the question that was asked by the member from Kitchener–Conestoga.
I have had the opportunity to be through a wide variety of very crucial briefings, as the member mentioned in his opening remarks with respect to the opportunity that I’ve had to be in a number of communities across the province.
I said this in my opening remarks: There’s no doubt that the appetite for additional investments in a wide variety of communities is quite significant.
The member is asking an interesting question about what has taken place before, and the deputy will allude to that in a second. But with respect to going forward, I do want it to be clear, and I believe that I made it clear in my opening remarks, that we have a very clear responsibility, whether we’re talking about people who reside in your community or any of the other communities that make up the 107 ridings reflected in this Legislature—we have that clear mandate and responsibility to get on with the task at hand, to provide those additional investments, but, at the same time, to do it in a way that balances out the fiscal prudency that’s mentioned in my mandate letter. From time to time, that will mean that there are efficiencies that are found within a system, and those efficiencies will from time to time be reflected in reports like the one that the member references.
Perhaps I can ask the deputy to respond to some of the specifics that you raised.
Ms. Carol Layton: Are you referring to page 34 of 86 of our estimates briefing book? I want to be sure that I understand where you’re—
Mr. Michael Harris: You’ve pledged, in the budget, $3.3 billion in new transit and transportation infrastructure this year alone. I just want you to explain to us where that $3.3 billion can be found in the ministry’s estimates.
Ms. Carol Layton: The ministry’s estimates, which you can appreciate is a combination of, especially when it comes to capital—it’s a combination of capital expense and capital assets. Because we are on an amortized basis, we have to deal with our capital in terms of a life cycle. So there’s a combination of, in a sense, the depreciation of our capital as well as the actual investments that we’re doing. Our estimates, right now, in terms of capital: all in, the actual amount of capital to be voted is about $1.7 billion. Then the amount of capital that is actually an increase to the asset base of the government—we have about $80 billion in capital assets right now, and we’re going to be increasing that by about $1.4 billion. So the total capital and investments would be that combination of about $2.6 billion. On top of that, of course, there’s the reference in the budget to the investments that are going to be happening in Metrolinx as well as through other initiatives to support transportation and transit spending.
Mr. Michael Harris: You said $2.6 billion, but the government has announced $3.3 billion, so there’s a difference there. Does that mean that money won’t be spent this year on—
Ms. Carol Layton: No. Actually, I’ll get Linda to come up. Linda McAusland, who is the CAO for the ministry, has the detail on the $3.3 billion.
Ms. Linda McAusland: Good morning.
Mr. Michael Harris: Hi.
Ms. Linda McAusland: Thank you for the question.
It is on page 34, and there is a pie chart on page 35 that gives a breakdown of exactly where the capital is allocated.
The deputy spoke to the capital assets of $2.6 billion. That’s split between our provincial highways management division and our money for Metrolinx. There’s also some money there for road user safety and for some of our IT programs.
Mr. Michael Harris: I’m specifically asking about the new investments of $3.3 billion that the government has talked about and has pledged in the budget—if it’s $3.3 billion in new spending, where that sits. Where is that exactly? Is that amount fully accounted for in this—
Ms. Linda McAusland: It is fully accounted for. If you look on page 35, the chart: the $3.3 billion and the provincial highways management.
Mr. Michael Harris: So that’s new funding?
Ms. Linda McAusland: That’s the total funding.
Mr. Michael Harris: But in the budget, it talks about—you’d be investing an additional, over 10 years, $28.9 billion, so $3.3 billion, $3.3 billion, $3.0 billion. That’s included, you’re saying, in that.
Ms. Linda McAusland: That’s right.
Mr. Michael Harris: All right. So—
Mr. Michael Harris: Yes, go ahead, Randy.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Hillier.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Thank you. Just to follow up on that, I’m looking at that pie chart on page 35, and you’ve got $2.6 billion under the tag line “Policy and Planning.” “Policy and Planning” doesn’t sound like an asset or—maybe fill me in a little bit on that. Policy and planning: How is that a capital expense?
Ms. Linda McAusland: Sure. Policy and planning promotes our public transit program. The bulk of that is under capital expense. Those would be our transfer payments to municipalities, so transfers to Metrolinx for the Toronto LRT, GO Transit expansion and rehab, and also to some municipal transfer payments, like the Ottawa LRT or the Waterloo RT and the TTC streetcar. So that number is all-encompassing and it is captured in that division.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Okay. So that might be better suited to be referred to as transfer payments. You’re not actually—
Ms. Linda McAusland: It is under our accounting rules—
Mr. Randy Hillier: You’re not doing any planning, or you’re funding somebody else’s policy or—
Ms. Linda McAusland: We’re funding other people’s capital, and that’s why it’s called capital expense. It is separated from our capital appropriation in that it’s money that’s operating that’s used to support our capital program.
Ms. Carol Layton: And when you refer to subsequent pages in that printed estimates book, you will see that sort of detail, the detail as it relates to public transit investments, like the Ottawa and the Waterloo LRT that Linda mentioned, as well as the Metrolinx expenditures.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Okay.
Mr. Michael Harris: I’m wondering, Minister, if you can be clear, or add some clarity, with regard to the $3.3 billion, because we hear that number quite a bit—“$3.3 billion in infrastructure and transportation spending this year alone.” I’m wondering if you can go into detail as to—perhaps even just the 10 top projects or the projects coming from that $3.3 billion, if you can list those projects for us.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Over the course of the last four months, since I’ve had the opportunity to serve as the Minister of Transportation—and you referenced this in your prefacing comments before you asked the first question today—there had been a wide variety of projects that I’ve had the opportunity to speak to, to either announce or to be part of.
If I can just drill down for a quick second with respect to your question, if you can perhaps provide some clarification. You had asked about whether the $3.3 billion—that’s what you’re talking about—was actually contained, and you’ve received the answer from the folks here. But what exactly is it you’re asking of me now? You want a list of the projects that make up the $3.3 billion?
Mr. Michael Harris: Yes. You’ve got in the budget you’ve talked about, “Available for Investment in the GTHA—$1.7 billion; Available for Investment Outside the GTHA—$1.6 billion,” for a total of $3.3 billion. I’m just wondering if you can list or provide to the committee at a later time the list of projects that would add to the $3.3 billion in those two buckets.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I can give a list to you right now of projects that would have—I guess I’ll use the phrase “participated” or would have drawn against some of the monies that you were referencing a second ago. Toronto rapid transit program, York Viva phases 1 and 2—I referenced the York Viva plan, of course, in my opening comments—the Union Pearson Express project, Georgetown South project, GO Transit state of good repair, GO Transit expansions, Presto fare card, municipal transit—I mean, this is a list. Then we’re also talking about southern highways rehabilitation, southern highways expansion/high occupancy vehicle lanes, ferries, AFP projects and highway municipal projects. So this is a list that hopefully would provide you with some clarification with respect to the $3.3 billion that you’re asking about.
Mr. Michael Harris: We’ll perhaps come back to that later.
In your opening remarks, you did mention high-speed rail.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I did.
Mr. Michael Harris: Prior to the 2014 provincial election, former Transportation Minister Glen Murray announced that the Liberal government would build a high-speed rail line connecting London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Pearson and downtown Toronto. This rail line was pledged by the Liberal Party in the 2014 election platform, but Windsor and southwestern Ontario were also added to the rail line. However, this project was not in the budget as a transit priority in the list of projects that will get funding.
Minister, why was the high-speed rail project left out of this year’s budget?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: When we had the first occasion, immediately following the election campaign, to be back in the Legislature, if memory serves me correctly, I believe you actually asked a question of me on this exact same topic in the House.
Mr. Michael Harris: Possibly, yes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: And I understand why it’s of tremendous importance to you, of course, representing a riding in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
I just had the opportunity the other day, along with a number of my colleagues, to be in Windsor, for example, and had the chance to speak to some individuals down there—not individuals aligned with government or politics. I was pleasantly surprised that there was an awareness in Windsor, for example, in talking to a couple of those individuals, about this pledge that we had made to take a serious look at and move forward with planning around high-speed rail to connect all of the communities you referenced a second ago. You know, I’m sure, because I’m pretty sure that I answered in the House back in the summer and certainly the Premier repeatedly has said—in fact, I believe she said it as recently as last Friday or the Friday before when she was in Kitchener-Waterloo for a conference—that we remain committed to dealing with high-speed rail, that we remain committed and are committed to moving forward with the Ministry of Transportation launching the environmental assessment process, which I know will happen in fairly short order.
That’s a process, as you would know, as with all environmental assessments, that will certainly take some time, but it’s the kind of process that (a) we’re required to do, and (b) will help us deal with questions and consultations involving the communities.
Mr. Michael Harris: Has that environmental assessment commenced?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: No, it has not commenced, but I suspect that it will in fairly short order.
Mr. Michael Harris: Minister Murray announced in April 2014 that environmental assessments would begin in the fall of 2014—I’d consider this being now the fall—yet just after the election, Premier Wynne contradicted that statement when she announced that environmental assessments for high-speed rail were actually already under way. However, my own city of Kitchener staff reported in August that the assessments had not begun, which you’ve just verified.
I’m just curious: Which is it? The Premier said that they have, in fact, commenced; you’re saying that they have not. I guess we’ll go with you and the fact that they’re not under way?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: With the greatest of respect, it’s a little bit difficult for me to deal with quotes, citations, whatever it is, in isolation. What I can tell you, as I said to you in the House when you first posed this question to me—and I’m hoping I can be as clear as possible so there’s no confusion, either for members of this committee or for those, perhaps from your community, who are watching—is that we are committed to high-speed rail. We’re committed to launching the EA process. We have not launched the EA process yet, but we—
Mr. Michael Harris: When do you plan on doing that?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I suspect that will take place before the end of the year, but I’m not here to make an announcement and I’m not here to actually finalize that date with the committee.
Mr. Michael Harris: I’m just wondering why your predecessor, Minister Murray, said in April that it would happen in the fall. How come that process hasn’t started?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m not here to comment on what perhaps was committed to previously by one of my colleagues. I think you do understand that the opportunity to embark on a project that’s as large and as exciting as high-speed rail is something that we want to make sure, whether it’s for the people of your community or for Windsor, London or Toronto—frankly, for people right across Ontario we want to make sure that we get it right.
Of course, the pre-feasibility study work has been done. MTO is in the stages of dealing with planning for the EA. I suspect it will be launched before the end of this year. I look forward to the work that MTO will undertake with respect to the EA process and I look forward to that work wrapping up so that we can get on with that project at some point in the future.
Mr. Michael Harris: Windsor was recently added. Is that something that’s still in the mix that—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Windsor will be included in the EA, yes.
Mr. Michael Harris: Windsor will be included in this.
Premier Wynne indicated that engineers and experts have said that it is possible to build the rail line within the decade. I’m just wondering if you can tell me if that is still the plan. Is it feasible to build a high-speed rail line within 10 years?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: There is no doubt in my mind that when you look at the scope, the breadth and the ambitiousness of the plan that we have before the people of Ontario, the $29 billion that I have talked about repeatedly, that our government has mentioned repeatedly, there is a tremendous potential there. I’m not in a position today to give specific timelines around exactly how long it will take because, as I’m sure you know and understand, when you launch an EA process, when that work takes place over the short- to mid-term, there is a considerable amount of ongoing analysis that will take place as part of that EA process. Whether it’s the route specifically, whether it’s where a station should be located, whether it’s the consultation with First Nations or consultations with communities themselves, there is a tremendous amount of work that is, by definition, embedded in that EA process. I’ll be in a much stronger position, as that process is undertaken and as it rolls out, to provide more specific timelines.
Most importantly—and I did stress this in my opening remarks—all of the decisions we make as it relates to not only high-speed rail but to the rest of the pieces of this transit and transportation puzzle need to be done in conjunction with one another.
One of the reasons that my commute is 20 minutes longer each way every single day is at least in part because perhaps for too long many of our transportation and transit decisions were made in isolation from one another. I don’t want us to be in that world in 10 years.
When I look at my mandate, when I have conversations with people—we need to make sure that these decisions are knitted together, that they are seamless in how they roll out. Whether it’s the two-way, all-day RER or the GO stuff that I talked about, whether it’s high-speed rail, supporting municipal transit services, it needs to link together so that people have those options.
Mr. Michael Harris: Minister, you mentioned that there’s immense potential for high-speed rail. What evidence do you have to actually back that up?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Evidence to back up the fact that there’s tremendous potential?
Mr. Michael Harris: Yes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I spent a few days on a personal vacation just a couple of weeks ago in Spain, and I had the opportunity to be in Barcelona and the area around Barcelona. My wife and I were there. She was there for work. I was there to get a couple of days of relaxation before I had to come to estimates, which I’m enjoying, by the way. I had the opportunity—we were staying in a community about 40 minutes outside of Barcelona—to use the transit systems that exist there, while my wife was working. I had the opportunity to see first-hand the high-speed train that runs from Barcelona to Madrid. I had the chance to be on Barcelona’s LRTs. I also had the chance to use their version of what I would call the commuter rail or regional express rail, which is electrified in their case. It gave me the chance to see that stuff first-hand.
I had the chance, as well, to speak to individuals who have lived in Spain over the last 20 years and witnessed first-hand the tremendous growth in infrastructure investments for projects like high-speed rail, and to see what the subscription rates are like, to see the uptake and to see the economic upside to them being able to successfully deliver on their high-speed rail.
It gives me a great deal of hope and confidence that, as we embark on the EA process for the project that we’ve committed to here in Ontario, we’ll be able to develop routes, we’ll be able to develop a plan that will position us well to deliver on this over the next decade for the people who reside in those communities.
There’s a huge economic upside here as well. As a member who represents part of southwestern Ontario, you would appreciate that we have a very clear responsibility and mandate, as a government, to make sure—and we heard this loud and clear from the Deputy Premier and others in our ranks—that we keep investing in those communities that need a bit of a boost. When you look at southern Ontario, you see that there have been some very-good-news stories lately. By making these kinds of investments in projects like high-speed rail to connect cities like London, Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto, I think you’re going to see tremendous economic activity that’s spurred because of those investments.
Mr. Michael Harris: Have there been any research reports or a business plan that has been put together to evaluate the business case that would allow the government to make better decisions pertaining to high-speed rail? Has any investigation been done, any reports been given to you to validate the business case for making such an investment in high-speed rail?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I appreciate that question.
I think you’re probably alluding to that report that you’ve asked for in the past. I believe you asked it of me in the Legislature shortly after we came back following the election campaign—the pre-feasibility study done by an entity known as FCP. I think that’s probably the report that you’re alluding to. It’s clear to me that you’re aware of the fact that some work has been done within that realm and it’s work that at least in part has helped form the basis for the decision to go forward with the EA process.
Mr. Michael Harris: Minister, your predecessor, Minister Murray, did talk a lot about that feasibility study. He was extremely excited to come back to the House and share that with his colleagues. Will you be willing to provide that report to this committee?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I know, in particular, and I do respect this, that you’ve had a great deal of interest in this. You asked the question of me—it might have been my second or third question period, literally, as a rookie Minister of Transportation when you—
Mr. Michael Harris: So you just had some time to think about that—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —very eloquently asked me specifically about this report. Then, in your prefacing comments today, you gave the appearance of not knowing that there was a report, but that’s okay. I understand that that’s the case.
As I said to you, I think, back then—and certainly you’ve heard from others that there are some commercial sensitivities with respect to the report and the documents you’re talking about here. I respect the fact that you have a particular interest in this, knowing, as I do and as we all do, that you represent a community in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, so I will take back that request and we’ll get back to you.
Mr. Michael Harris: It’s confusing how Minister Murray at the time touted the report and now, in the spirit of the Premier wanting to be more transparent with Ontarians—that if this is something that sounds so good, why wouldn’t they release that report to the public to show them just exactly the things that you’re touting? I’m just not sure why, in the spirit of transparency, you wouldn’t want to table that report to the committee.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I said this a second ago: I do respect the perspective that you’re bringing to bear on this particular item. I know that you’ve spoken about it locally. I know that you’ve communicated to your own media, as you should, about the importance of some of the questions that you’re raising. I do understand and I respect that.
When I looked at the responsibility that the Premier has given me when I read through my mandate letter and the conversations I’ve had with her, but perhaps as importantly when I’ve spoken to people who live right across the province of Ontario—I did my best to stress this in my opening remarks—the perspective that I bring to all of this is that we sometimes in government, regardless of partisan stripe or level of government, fall into the trap of endless debate, dialogue and discussion.
There’s nothing wrong with healthy dialogue. There’s nothing wrong with back-and-forth. We all thrive on that. That’s one of the reasons that we all do so well—
Mr. Michael Harris: So, Minister—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: If I can just clarify, though, really quickly—I promise I’ll wrap up quickly on this one. What is very clear to me is that whether I’m standing in Kitchener-Waterloo in my own riding or in any other community in this province—is that people want us to look forward with respect to how we will actually deliver. My mandate from the Premier, as it relates to high-speed rail, is to make sure that that EA process gets launched, to make sure that we define routes and that we define where, for example, other infrastructure, like stations, may be located along that route. But most importantly, kind of embedded throughout my mandate letter, is the notion that we can’t end up in a world where we are constantly chasing our tails, whether it’s RER or high-speed rail, supporting all of the other transportation and transit work that we need to do as a province and as a region. We have to roll up our sleeves. We have to implement. We have to get on with it. I take that mandate very, very seriously. It’s why the EA will be launched in relatively short order.
Mr. Michael Harris: What, roughly, would the cost be of an EA for such a project?
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): You have three minutes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sorry, could you just repeat the question again?
Mr. Michael Harris: Roughly what would be the cost to perform an EA and is that budgeted as well?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I don’t have an exact dollar figure for you for the cost of the EA, but I will get back to you with that as well.
Mr. Michael Harris: Is it included in this year’s estimates?
Ms. Carol Layton: Actually, if I can circle back on one other thing, and that’s the $3.3 billion you talked about, because there are actually two different $3.3 billions. I realize now you were looking at the 2014 budget, probably page 45 or around that. That shows you—because this also relates to your answer about how we’re going to be funding the cost of the high-speed rail. In that budget there’s a table there that talks about and breaks out that $29 billion. It breaks it out over 10 years and it estimates for 2014-15, the current fiscal year, which we’re just about halfway through. It shows you what would be spent in the GTHA versus what’s outside of the GTHA.
The point that I’d make about that is that those of course are—this is the new announcement. This is $29 billion over the next 10 years. That money is coming from a number of different sources. It will be in the context of the investment outside of the GTHA, that $14 billion over 10, and you see here an estimate of $1.6 billion of that $3.3 billion—it would be in that context that we would see the funding for the high-speed rail. In itself the environmental assessment part of it, in particular, is long-term. It doesn’t happen in a year. It’s going to take some time. It would be funded through that sort of allocation.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): One minute, Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: So the business case, or the report or study done by First Class Partnerships—would there be anything in that report that would raise questions as to why an EA shouldn’t be done to begin with? Wouldn’t you think that taxpayers would want to know the business case of pursuing high-speed rail prior to doing an EA? Or are you confident that with this report, the information there provides you the business case of proceeding with an EA?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Just so I can understand it clearly, because at the beginning of your question it wasn’t clear to me, you’re asking me if the—actually, if you don’t mind clarifying the question, it would be helpful.
Mr. Michael Harris: The study done by First Class Partnerships—the report is housed at the ministry, so I’m sure you’ve seen the report—does it provide a business case to actually proceed with an EA?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I see, okay. It is important to recognize that the work that FCP did is what we call a pre-feasibility study. It’s actually not a business case analysis in the traditional sense, but what it has done is provided confidence on the part of, as you mentioned, my predecessor and the Premier, that this is the right direction for us to take. As you know as well, part of being a government, part of being a Premier, and part of being a Minister of Transportation is setting out public policy objectives and setting out a platform and setting out a budget. That’s a budget, a platform and a discussion that we all had a chance to have in that broad consultation with the people of Ontario that finished on June 12. It was a plan that was endorsed by the people then and passed by the Legislature a little bit later in the year, so we will be moving forward with the EA in fairly short order.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): We move on to the third party. Ms. DiNovo, you have about 12 minutes, and then we’ll resume this afternoon.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s not nearly enough time, Chair, but thank you.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It’s okay. There are lots more chances.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Welcome, Minister, and welcome to your role, and all your staff as well for the work that they do.
First of all, I just want to say some general things. I’ve been here at Queen’s Park—I’m going into my ninth year now, and I think I’ve been through almost a transportation minister a year in that period of time, which I think might be part of the problem. The overarching concern, I’ll just say, is about specifics. If we look at the TTC, for example, and we look at a 10-year capital financing plan or a plan for a rollout of projects, we see exactly what they’re going to be doing, exactly what it’s going to cost. I’m not seeing that from Metrolinx, and quite frankly, I’m not seeing it from your ministry.
When we met together, and thank you for that, I asked you, what is the rollout, year by year, of the projects? What is the rollout of the spending? When will construction start? It’s basically the kind of questions that are pretty obvious. You said you would be able to get me that information by the end of the year. Now, your party has been in power for 11 years. We’ve been through the Big Move. We’ve been through Transit City. We’ve been through a whole lot of different plans. For the experience of folks in downtown Toronto, and I’ll speak as one of them, the only difference we’ve seen in the reality of transit in our lives is the new streetcars, which is great—thank you—but that’s it.
The other difference that we’ve seen, and this we expect to see very shortly, in 2015, will be the air-rail link, which will be running through our neighbourhoods with diesel trains at the rates of hundreds. They will be three-quarters empty, from what we can gather. The price will be exorbitant, so it won’t actually be a transportation system for the people who live and work in the GTA. That’s what we see.
That’s the backdrop to what I’m going to be talking about. I’m very concerned about specifics, so if we could start with that.
Let’s start with Adrian Morrow, because he wrote an excellent column in the Globe, so I’ll start with him. Dedicated transit funds amount to only $713 million in permanent revenues. The budget, on your page 46, says that these dedicated funds will be supplemented by asset sales—I’m almost quoting from his article—borrowing and federal funding which, of course, is maybe never. You seem to be missing about half the permanent revenues you would need in order to sustain average spending of $1.5 billion per year. So you’ve got next year covered thanks to debt and asset sales, but how will you make up the shortfall year after year after that?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I appreciate that question. If I can just, as quickly as I possibly can, say that I also enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with you over the summer. I know that you’re someone who, as a member of your caucus, is very passionate about the issues that involve public transit and transportation infrastructure, of course, representing a community in downtown Toronto. I wouldn’t agree—not surprisingly, I suppose—with every one of your opening comments with respect to improvements that people living not only in Toronto but across this entire region have seen as a result of the billions of dollars of investments that have taken place since 2003. I think you would probably—I hope, anyway—agree with me that when you are—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Sir, could I just interject—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Of course.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: —and remind you of something that my colleague reminded you of. Could you just get to the point?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’ll get to the point, but you made an assertion—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Sure.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —in your opening comments as it relates to the work that our government has done over the last 10 years, and as quickly as I—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: As it’s experienced in downtown Toronto.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: But I have friends, family, relatives and lots of other folks who live in downtown Toronto who would tell me that while they recognize the enormity of the challenge that we all face, they also recognize that there is no magic wand; there is no easy solution. You can’t simply flick a switch and say you’re going to improve service across the board at the drop of a hat. These are infrastructure investments that by definition take time.
We are trying to come back and do work, whether it’s the Eglinton Crosstown LRT or a variety of others, through built-up communities, through areas that have existed. It will by definition take time; it will be disruptive. But in my mind there’s no doubt that it will provide the positive benefits to the people who are looking for it.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So, the shortfall.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m not entirely sure that I—in fact, I’m not at all in agreement with the assertion made by the reporter that you referenced a second ago. When I look at the budget that our finance minister put forward, which was approved by this Legislature over the summer, there is a very clear list of revenue-generating tools that exist in that budget that will put us in a position to provide the $29 billion, the $15 billion or so for the GTHA and the $14 billion or so for the rest of the province. I’m happy to go through the entire list of each of those revenue-generating tools if you’d like me to.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: What I would like, and I would ask this of your deputy and the folk in your ministry, is a rollout of project, expense, timelines going forward.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Okay, that’s a different—and I don’t mind having that conversation right now. That’s a bit of a different question from the stat that you threw at me from Adrian Morrow’s piece.
What I said to you over the summer was, when you take into account—what I said earlier in my response to one of the other questions coming from one of the other members was that we have to make sure, and part of my core responsibility is to make sure, that whether you’re in downtown Toronto or in Hamilton or in some other part of the GTHA, the decisions we’re making around implementation of RER, the decisions around which of and how those projects that are in the next wave get funded and what sequencing takes place—that we are doing it in a way that makes sense based on very thorough, very considerable business case analysis.
The team at Metrolinx, which I believe is doing an extraordinary job and has been doing an extraordinary job, is working very hard to make sure that we’re in a position—they do have a board meeting coming up in December. I think when you and I met, it was before their September board meeting where they started to flesh out some of the details around what phasing might look like with respect to the services that will be provided along GO RER. I expect more details will be provided at their December board meeting.
Whether we’re in a position exactly at that December board meeting at Metrolinx, shortly before, shortly after or perhaps a month or two later—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So how can—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —what’s really important to me is to make sure that we actually get all of this right. So when we’re looking at two-way, all-day GO, when we’re looking at how that will be electrified and in what phasing and what lines, when we’re talking about the possibilities around rail rationalization, dealing with CN and CP—of course, we had a great announcement not that many days ago about purchasing an additional 53 kilometres.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: We’ve had lots of great announcements.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: But these are all steps, and I’m sure you would acknowledge that you don’t provide, when you talk about a 10-year horizon to make this—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So why can the TTC do this and Metrolinx not do it—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Well, I’m not here to comment on how the TTC runs itself.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: —or your ministry, for that matter.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I think there are lots of individuals who have very strong feelings about the extent to which the TTC does its work. That’s for someone else to comment on.
What I can say, looking at my mandate letter and looking at the responsibility I have—and you’ve heard me stress this in our one-on-one meeting; I’ve said it earlier today already—is that when implementation, when getting shovels in the ground and getting on with that work, is so important, we do want to make sure that residents, whether from Parkdale–High Park or any other part of this region, have a sense of how it will flow, why it will flow, why the implementation will look the way that it will look and what they can expect to see. I share your desire to have a clearer sense of exactly what the implementation will look like, and we will get there, but I’m not interested in necessarily rushing it.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Is there a date that we can look forward to actually knowing the plans?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Again, I’m not here to make announcements regarding dates. I can tell you that we will release those details, working closely—the Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx—together on this, as we’ve done the work, that business case analysis that needs to be at the foundation of how we make evidence-based decisions. We will get there. As soon as we have those, we will release them publicly.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay, so just flowing from that, we were looking at gas-tax revenue, we thought flowing into the Trillium Trust, but we now know that proceeds from gas tax revenue aren’t. We also know that proceeds from asset sales aren’t flowing into the Trillium Trust either, so we don’t actually have dedicated funding for infrastructure, do we?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m going to ask the deputy to provide—
Ms. Carol Layton: If you look at pages 45 and 46 of the budget, you’ll see the different sources of revenue that will absolutely populate the two funds, the GTHA and the non-GTHA. It’s pretty transparent—dedicating proceeds from 7.5% of the existing provincial gas tax are going into the funds.
There are some new revenue sources as well there; for example, restricting the fuel tax exemption for road-building machines and actually phasing in an increase of four cents per litre to the tax on aviation fuel. All that is being worked through, and actually, in the details of the budget, you even see more of that.
Of course, it does talk about allocating some of those gains from the asset sales, and it does talk about the leveraging of borrowing. It talks also about working with our federal partners around funding from the Building Canada Fund. It also talks about revenue, if it becomes available, through high-occupancy toll laning as well. So there are sources—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So you’re planning on doing toll lanes?
Ms. Carol Layton: Pardon?
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Are you planning on doing toll lanes?
Ms. Carol Layton: No, what this is saying there is that dedicating them when they become available—I think the key thing there, in the very public mandate letter of the minister also, is that we’re certainly looking at the concept of toll lanes. That’s a very thorough analysis that you have to do.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Ms. DiNovo, two minutes left in this round.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So just very generally, the federal government is a big question mark, and asset sales are a big question mark. A lot of these categories are not what I’d call real revenue tools in the sense that you can count on them. That is, I think, what the concern is here, that we’re not looking at money that’s actually there, that you can count on, that is going to go into this. This is kind of a hope and a prayer at this stage. Obviously, you don’t agree with that, but I would love to see actual figures attached to those. For example, the federal government: How much have they promised you?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: One of the things that I’ve been very fortunate about so far in my time as Minister of Transportation is that at virtually all of the announcements, particularly the large ones that I’ve been at, whether it was in Waterloo around their ION LRT, the streetcars themselves in the city of Toronto—I’ve been lucky so far because at many of those occasions, I’ve actually been able to stand alongside a federal representative because the federal government has had money.
I’ve had the opportunity at a meeting of my federal and provincial and territorial counterparts not that many weeks ago in Montreal to talk very directly to the federal Minister of Transport about the importance—I think we’re a little bit lucky here in Ontario: The federal Minister of Transport happens to be an Ontario MP who represents the community of Milton, the community of Halton, in the federal House—obviously, a very fast-growing community in the province of Ontario. I think she gets the importance of making sure that there is continued federal support. But I would call on members of the Legislature, all 107 of us, to make sure over the next number of months that the federal government understands that this is not about electoral politics, this is certainly not about partisanship, and we need—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So they haven’t promised you anything.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: No, but my point is that at these things that I’ve done so far—again, Waterloo’s ION LRT, in the case of the Ottawa LRT, in the case of the streetcars—the feds, to their credit, have been at the table. Can they do more, can it be sustained, and can it be predictable? It should be not just for Ontario but for every province across the country. That’s a work in progress; there is no doubt about that. I think Premier Wynne has shown extraordinary leadership as the chair of the Council of the Federation to bring this issue to the fore, to make sure that her federal counterpart, the Prime Minister, and her provincial counterparts understand the importance of making sure that we have that. I’m an optimistic person by nature, so I believe we’ll get there.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I hope you are.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thank you, Ms. DiNovo.
We’re going to recess until after routine proceedings, so if you can make your way back here as soon are routine proceedings are finished this afternoon.
The committee recessed from 1015 to 1603.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Welcome back. When the committee recessed this morning, the third party was up and had 18 minutes left in rotation. Ms. DiNovo.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Thank you, Chair. Thank you, Minister and staff, for being here and answering questions—well, not so much answering questions as giving us estimates of answers to questions. That’s why it’s called the “estimates” committee, I guess.
I’m going to follow up on the Adrian Morrow question, as I call it, because I thought that was a very insightful Globe article, and talk about the Trillium Trust again and the fact that it really isn’t a dedicated transit fund. We learned that asset sales even could be—there’s no promised money there.
So I just want to ask you a yes or no question about the Trillium fund; that is, will you make dedicated funding a legally binding commitment? Unless you answer yes to that question, how is Metrolinx ever to know what money they have to work with? So the question, yes or no: Why won’t you make the so-called dedicated funding a legally binding commitment?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m going to begin by answering that question, and then I’m going to ask the deputy to actually provide a little bit more information with respect to some of the stuff that you had referenced earlier today because we’ve had a chance to go back and come up with more relevant data around some of the questions you asked.
I think everyone here, and everyone watching, would be aware of the fact that over the course of the summer—I don’t remember the specific day now—here in the Legislature the Minister of Finance was successful in passing Ontario’s 2014 budget. That’s a budget that contains a broad explanation of a number of the revenue-generating tools that will be the basis of providing our government with the $29 billion over the next 10 years, as I said this morning—the $15 billion or so for the GTHA and the up to $14 billion that will be invested outside of the greater Toronto and Hamilton area for transportation and transit infrastructure.
There’s a long list that was contained in budget 2014 that helps to explain exactly how we intend to generate the revenue that’s needed. We at the Ministry of Transportation and, of course, the team at Metrolinx are working very hard, as I said this morning, on the business case analysis so that we can make these decisions around implementation, which you referenced in one of your questions earlier today, in a way that’s evidence-based so that we can provide a seamless transportation and transit network across the greater Toronto and Hamilton area. For example, the dedicated funds that were in budget 2014 for public transit and for transportation infrastructure would be supported by dedicating proceeds from seven and a half cents of the existing provincial gas tax to public transit. I mean—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Could I interrupt you there, Minister? Because clearly, this isn’t dedicated funding if you can move assets away from transit. The question again—I come back to it—is, will you make this a legally binding commitment; in other words, a really dedicated fund? What makes it dedicated, other than just a promise?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I think when you pass a budget in the Legislature in the province of Ontario that contains all of these elements, when you begin—for example, not that many days ago I had the opportunity to stand beside my colleague the Minister of Finance when we launched the first issue for the Green Bonds initiative as it relates to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. I know the deputy will also be able to speak to the success that we’ve had so far in terms of what I would call the interest or almost the subscription interest, let’s call it, for those folks who have wanted to come forward and make those investments.
But from my perspective, when you pass that budget, which we did, and the budget contains very specific measures around how these revenues will be generated, when the Premier has made the commitment, when the Ministry of Transportation is also working towards providing the transparency through an online portal that will demonstrate, at the click of a mouse, to residents of Parkdale–High Park and people living across the province of Ontario—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: This goes back to my earlier question that says, in fact, you haven’t been very specific about those revenues, and you certainly haven’t been very specific about the dedicated funding in the Trillium fund. That’s my question. If it is in fact there, if it’s binding, as you seem to imply that it is, because you’re saying it’s part of the budget, then why not make it legally binding so that Metrolinx can do some real planning? Why not say yes to the question?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Because Metrolinx is doing its planning. Metrolinx is working very hard alongside the people from the Ministry of Transportation, some of whom are here in the room today, to bring forward the business case analysis that is required. People out there, in your community and mine, expect that we won’t make these decisions, so to speak, on the back of a napkin and that there will be evidence-based decisions that are taking place. That’s the work that’s being undertaken right now. So the planning is happening. We have a budget in place that’s been approved in the Legislature, which contains a wide variety of revenue-generating measures. We’ve had some very early success with the Green Bonds issue that I referenced a second ago, which the deputy would be happy to provide more information on right now. I actually do find it interesting, so—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It doesn’t sound like I’m going to get a yes or no answer to that, “legally binding.”
Hon. Steven Del Duca: What we’re going to get here in the province of Ontario is a plan that moves us forward, that invests the $29 billion in transit and transportation and other crucial infrastructure over the next decade. What people will see at the end of that process is, for example, regional express rail and two-way, all-day GO, which you will see in communities from—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: And why is this not just a promise? How can we count on this if we don’t know that there’s actual money there and how much that money is?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: This is an ideal time for the deputy to weigh in and explain to the committee, for example, on the one piece, which is green bonds—exactly what the situation is with that first issue.
Ms. Carol Layton: First of all, I would also acknowledge that the actual notion of dedicated funds came right through in the investment strategy that Metrolinx released, as well as in the Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel report that was chaired by Anne Golden. In the 2014 budget—and I wouldn’t underestimate a commitment made in a budget—it was acknowledged that those were the two sources that the Ministry of Finance took some guidance from, so first of all, I acknowledge that.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: But the gas tax? Let’s say the gas tax, for example: There’s no guarantee that that’s going to go towards transit. There’s no guarantee that the sale of assets is going to go towards transit. Why will you not just say to this committee, “We guarantee that they will”?
Ms. Carol Layton: I guess the point that I’d make on that front is that, first of all, the principle that has been established in the 2014 budget is indeed that—that the repurposed, as they call it, revenue from gasoline tax, as well as from the HST on gasoline tax, as well as three new tax sources, as well as from asset sales, have all been committed to the funds. Those are commitments.
The other point too is, the commitment to accountability and transparency through, once those funds are established—and that’s the work that’s under way right now with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Finance, to work through all of that. Once those funds are established, it’s a commitment to both an online portal, which would be looking at the source of the funds, as well as how those funds are being used by project, as well as through the documents like the fall economic statement and through public accounts—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay. So the Trillium Trust has not been established, then? It’s not established yet?
Ms. Carol Layton: The Trillium Trust was an earlier trust that has been established. So the dedicated funds, in a sense, take their lead from that one. So exactly how the Trillium Trust itself will blend in with that one is one that is being worked out right now.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So it’s being worked out.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: What I had said a second ago, which I think is really important to illustrate—the very strong and early signal and success that we’ve had with a fairly significant component of this plan.
Deputy, if you could share with the committee exactly what has taken place with that first Green Bonds issue—
Ms. Carol Layton: Sure. Back in mid-September, Minister Sousa and Minister Del Duca actually talked about the launch of that first green bond, and that was just to test the market. It was the inaugural issue of a green bond. Just on October 9, what was reported there was that that first green bond made by any government in the country, actually, was oversubscribed, in a sense. There was a strong demand for it—orders approaching $2.4 billion against a $500-million bond issue. Also on that, that bond itself has been committed for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project, but that just shows you the demand for Green Bonds. So that borrowing is part of—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay. That’s the only shovel in the ground that I’m aware of right now—the Eglinton project. So if—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sorry. When you say “the only shovel in the ground,” I’m not sure that I understand. If I could ask for a clarification.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Well, in the GTA, in Toronto.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Well, that’s actually not entirely true. We have a number of projects for which there are shovels in the ground. I referenced this morning when I was talking about what has taken place in my own home region of York region with the Viva BRT, which is opening up—pieces of that are opening up on a regular basis. There’s construction in my own community.
The Spadina subway extension, which of course runs up to York University and up into York region as well, will create an extraordinary opportunity for students at York University and those living in York region to be able to commute—there’s a wide variety of projects that are currently under way.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I guess I’ll segue into the question, then. When Transit City was discussed and when Rob Ford was still mayor and wanted to shelve Transit City and your government went along with that, even though council hadn’t approved it, then later, when council reopened it—we’re talking about a span now of—we’re into three years of that span, I suppose, the only thing that I can see in the city of Toronto that’s changed—and you mentioned the streetcars. Yes, the streetcars are there. That’s relatively recent, but is that tunneling—it almost looks like Rob Ford got his way.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: In response to that, I would say that you have to take into account—and I say this with the greatest of respect, but I also say it as a 905 MPP, I think and I would advise, recommend, encourage all committee members to take a holistic look at exactly what’s taking place across the entire system.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Oh, we will. We’ll get to that.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: But we should right now, because this morning when I spoke, I referenced the fact that earlier this summer I was in Waterloo, where we did the groundbreaking on phase 1 of the ION LRT, something that I know the provincial government has committed roughly $300 million towards; the Ottawa LRT project, which I referenced earlier today as well—this list goes on. But in the GTHA alone, we are talking about GO stations that are being constructed, additional parking spots that are being brought to bear, more service on the Lakeshore west and east lines. When you put it in the entire context—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: We’ll talk about the parking spots later, too.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —Presto that we can talk about, moving towards fare integration—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay. Fair enough, but let’s focus in, then. I asked you a yes-or-no question. If there are actually funds that are dedicated—and I’m going to ask you in a minute what those funds are and how much is in each one of them that is dedicated towards transit—why won’t you make a legally binding commitment that the Trillium Trust be dedicated funds for transit? I don’t understand what the hesitation is.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It’s not a question of hesitation; it’s a question of: Nobody in the community that I represent is looking for us to engage in what I would term administrative redundancy, which is what seems to be at the heart of the question you’re asking. When the deputy said, as she did a second ago, that we are actually oversubscribed with our first Green Bonds issue, which means that we are potentially generating certainly what we are hoping to for that particular issue when we—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So Adrian Morrow is incorrect.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Well, I haven’t had the opportunity to read, at least that I can recall, the specific piece that you were referencing a second ago. But what I can tell you is that at the Ministry of Transportation—working, again, very closely with the team at Metrolinx—we are building a plan that will make sure that we have evidence-based analysis, that we have the business case analysis required so that we can, over the next number of months, explain to the people of all of our communities exactly how we’re going to implement and deal with the phasing, in particular of items like the RER, which I talked about a second ago, which will be transformative for the whole region, but also a number of other projects. So I’m not—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Let’s get into the specifics then. In the next year, from the gas tax, how much do you project you’ll raise?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: In the next—if I can just clarify, you’re talking about—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: The dedicated funds for the gas tax. How much in the next year from the gas tax will go towards transit?
Ms. Carol Layton: What was announced—I’m going to go back to the budget, because I always go back to what’s actually in the public domain.
On one comment that you made about the Eglinton Crosstown, if I may, Ms. DiNovo: You talked about how Rob Ford got his way because of the tunnelling of the Eglinton Crosstown. I have been in the job at MTO for four years, so before Mr. Ford was mayor, and I can assure you that 10 kilometres of that 19-kilometre-or-so stretch was always to be tunnelled, and in fact that tunnelling is well under way. I just wanted to make sure—I think you know that. It’s right in your neighbourhood.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Yes, I do know that, but in four years, people in the downtown core—we see the new streetcars, but that’s all we’ve seen of what seemed to be a pretty reasonable plan, which was Transit City.
But let’s get back to the gas tax next year.
Ms. Carol Layton: Sure. Back to the gas tax: In terms of the actual math, I would defer to my colleagues in finance, but the proceeds of the 7.5 cents of the existing provincial gas tax will be dedicated to public transit and transportation infrastructure priorities. That’s 7.5 cents. You may know that the tax on gasoline, which is out there in the public domain, is 14.7 cents, so it’s a very material—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Sure. So the dedicated funds you project to get from that in the next year—what will they be?
Ms. Carol Layton: The only public document that I can refer to, actually, is the one that’s on page 45 of the budget, and that’s the one that Mr. Harris also referenced. It’s the one that does show you, going out three years, but on a 10-year basis as well, how you break out the $15 billion and the $13.9 billion. I know that it’s easy just to say it will be about $1.5 billion a year. It’s a little bit variable.
For example, in the 2014 budget it estimated, for the GTHA, $1.7 billion, and outside the GTA, $1.6 billion, using Statistics Canada per capita census information.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So that’s next year’s spending.
Ms. Carol Layton: That’s an estimate of the amount of funds that would be available in the current fiscal year—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: From the gas tax alone?
Ms. Carol Layton: No, from all the different sources that will go in.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay, so that’s what I’m trying to break down here. What do you estimate, from the gas tax alone, you’ll make in the next year that will go towards—
Ms. Carol Layton: It’s actually something we’d have to defer to the Ministry of Finance.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Yes.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay, so can I get that figure? There has got to be some projection based on experience and history. Could I have that figure forwarded to my office?
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Ms. DiNovo, you have about two minutes.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay, fine. We’re going to go along that track.
The next one: I’ll give you a heads-up—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Perhaps I can make it easier for you. All of the revenue-generating measures that are contained in budget 2014—if you’re looking for an estimate as to what they would earn on a go-forward basis, then those are, as the deputy said and I would repeat as well, questions that are best placed, I think, with the Ministry of Finance.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Well, actually, similar questions were asked of the Ministry of Infrastructure, and they sent us back to you. It’s fair enough—you’re dealing with transportation and you’re trying to build it—that you know where the revenue is coming from and what it is. I agree with them, so I’m asking, I think, at the appropriate place. You’re saying that you’re going to get money from these revenue streams. What amount of money is that and from which streams?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I think, in terms of this being the appropriate place, when you review my mandate letter—which, of course, for the first time in Ontario’s history is publicly disclosed; the first government ever in this province’s history to make sure that those mandate letters have gone public so that everyone can see—you’ll see that my responsibility is to implement a transportation and transit plan, and that’s an implementation plan that will be based on the revenues that will be generated: $29 billion over the next 10 years. If you have questions—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So you’re going to see what you get and then spend it. Is that the plan?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: No. We will invest, over the next decade, $29 billion, as I’ve laid out, in transportation and transit infrastructure. But I think the specifics that you’re looking for on a go-forward basis—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: How do you know it’s going to be $29 billion if you don’t know what the revenue is?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —bearing in mind that you’re looking for a go-forward projection.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I think those are questions that are best put to finance.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Minister, we are going to go forward on this one, that’s for sure.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thirty seconds, Cheri. You’re done?
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Yes.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Okay. We will now go back to the minister. You have 30 minutes to perhaps respond to some of the questions that came out in the last hour.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sure. I appreciate that very much, Chair. As I said this morning when I began my introductory remarks, this has been a wonderful opportunity for me and the team here at the Ministry of Transportation to engage in what I think has been a lively discussion so far. I’ve genuinely appreciated the questions. It’s clear to me that here in this room and also across the province, as I mentioned this morning when I spoke, there is a great deal of passion and interest about the plan that our government has to make sure that we move Ontario forward. I know that there is, as I said, a great deal of energy and passion here in this room. It’s clearly on display by the members, and I appreciate that.
I think that we should—or at least, I will continue to remain focused on talking to this committee in my answers about the plan that we have to go forward to make sure that the province is sufficiently built up as it relates specifically to the mandate that I talked about in my opening, the mandate that appears in my ministerial mandate letter.
We talked a little bit near the end of the questioning from the member from Parkdale–High Park about the gas tax. I think it’s important to remember that our government has actually made the gas tax program permanent, which means that since 2004 we have committed more than $2.7 billion in gas tax funding. Today, the Dedicated Funding for Public Transportation Act is providing eligible municipalities with a guaranteed source of funding for expanding transit.
To continue progress, we’ll engage other provinces in encouraging the federal government to support a strong economy by partnering on transportation. And as I said earlier today when I was speaking to this committee, I think I’ve been fortunate so far in my time as minister because I’ve been able to participate in a number of public events, announcements and ground breakings where the federal government has actually been standing alongside the province and the particular municipality in which we have been located for those announcements. That’s good news, I think, whether for the people of Waterloo or Toronto or Ottawa or elsewhere, because they see that all three levels of government are working together.
I’ve also had the chance to speak directly to the federal Minister of Transport when I was in Montreal a few weeks ago at that meeting, that I referenced this morning, with my provincial partners and the federal partner to talk about the transit and transportation strategy we have in Ontario and to make sure that the federal minister is very clearly understanding of the fact that we do need in Ontario a committed, stable federal partner to be at the table with us.
I wanted to spend just a minute, as well, to talk about some of what’s taken place earlier today in my own ministry. Of course, Ontario, I think you would all know, has among the safest roads in North America. Earlier today in the Legislature I was very, very proud to introduce my first bill as Minister of Transportation, which deals largely with making sure that Ontario’s road safety remains a priority for this government and a priority for all of us. This is legislation that in many respects had been previously introduced but had died on the order paper on May 2 when the Legislature was dissolved and an election was triggered. The former bill, 173, dealing with road safety, dealing with distracted driving, for example, and making some improvements to dealing with issues around alcohol-related—or individuals who have—
Mr. Randy Hillier: Point of order.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Point of order, Mr. Hillier?
Mr. Randy Hillier: Just for clarification, this is the estimates committee; it’s not ministerial statements time. Unless the bill that you introduced today has some significant relevance to or impact on the estimates that you’ve tabled with this committee, it would be out of order.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thank you, Mr. Hillier. Actually, it’s the minister’s 30 minutes and his right of reply.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): For estimates.
Mr. Randy Hillier: For estimates.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): For transportation.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I appreciate the member’s question and, of course, his ongoing, abiding commitment to making sure he works with all of us, not just in eastern Ontario but right across this province, to make sure that our roads and highways remain safe.
As I mentioned a second ago, this is legislation that in many respects had been previously introduced in the Legislature. We have added a couple of pieces that I think are very important. I was excited to see so many of our road safety partners in the room for the announcement that we made earlier today, and I know that because there was such broad support—and frankly, even earlier today I heard from a number of members of the opposition in the hallways, in the corridors of this building, about how they have in the past provided strong support for this kind of legislation, that they look forward to the discussion and they look forward to our getting on with this legislation specifically so that we can move forward and tackle items like drug-impaired driving, distracted driving and a wide variety of others.
When I was talking to the federal Minister of Transportation, I also wanted to bring to her attention that the safety of our rails here in Ontario is equally important, so I took that opportunity to express to the federal minister and to my provincial colleagues that any federal rail safety changes must not dilute the standards that are currently in place provincially here in the province of Ontario. As I said earlier, I also reinforced that there is a very clear need for a stable, predictable federal funding partner to be at the table in discussions with us as we go forward to help build Ontario up.
Of course, I also want to stress—I didn’t get this chance this morning quite as much because most of my opening remarks dealt pretty clearly with transit and public transit. I think it’s also important to note it’s not just about transit, of course. We do need to provide alternatives and make significant investments in our roads, in our bridges and in our highways.
Since 2003, our government has committed more than $22 billion to design, repair and expand provincial highways and bridges across Ontario. In 2014-15 alone, Ontario is investing $2.5 billion in highway rehabilitation and expansion projects across the province. Our government is committed to completing Highway 407 east through to Highway 35/115. We know how important Highway 407 east is to the communities in Durham region and in Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes. It’s essential to local job creation, it’s essential to economic growth and, frankly, it’s essential in terms of dealing with reducing congestion.
At the Detroit-Windsor border, the $1.4 billion invested in the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway is part of a long-term solution to the movement of both people and goods. Our private sector partners anticipate that the overall project will be completed by summer 2015. And in northern Ontario, our government remains firmly committed to completing the four-lane expansion of Highway 69 to Sudbury. To date, 50 kilometres are complete and an additional 20 kilometres are under construction.
Recently, I was very proud to stand as Minister of Transportation in York region and East Gwillimbury when we opened a 13-kilometre extension of Highway 404—and the new member from Newmarket–Aurora was there with me that day. This is an extension that will take 22,000 vehicles a day off local roads, making those communities safer; and it will help reduce travel times for commuters and commercial vehicles. This is more proof of our government’s commitment to making the daily commute, and therefore quality of life, better for Ontario’s families.
As part of that commitment, we are also, as we discussed a little bit this morning, considering options for introducing high-occupancy toll lanes in the GTHA. By allowing carpoolers to use these lanes for free, we’ll continue offering people an incentive to change the way they travel. Individual drivers would be able to choose to drive in the lanes for a toll, while open lanes would still exist on all highways.
Highways are valuable infrastructure. It’s vital to our economy to keep these arteries moving. To reinforce this point, it is useful to consider the role of roads in getting goods to our most important trading partner. In 2011, Ontario-US trade was $281 billion. This represents 65% of Ontario’s total international trade; 74% of that trade with the United States travels by road. Keeping those goods moving smoothly creates and maintains good jobs for all Ontarians, and just as important, keeping all traffic moving safely ensures that everyone reaches their destination.
I’ve talked at length already about the legislation I introduced in the Legislature earlier today, in the public event that I did just before introducing that legislation. One of the items that I didn’t reference a second ago was how we plan to encourage, build upon and enable Ontario’s cycling strategy. Our government is very proud to have introduced #CycleON, which is this province’s first cycling strategy. Wherever Ontarians live, cycling should be and must be a safe and healthy option, either for necessary trips or just so that folks can enjoy the outdoors. Our #CycleON strategy will provide a $25-million cycling infrastructure investment, including $15 million for provincial infrastructure and $10 million for municipal infrastructure. The strategy is being implemented through a series of action plans. The first is now available and outlines our priorities for 2014 and beyond.
The province will continue to play a leadership role to make Ontario a more cycling-friendly province. But we are inviting municipalities, the public, road users, businesses and non-governmental organizations to partner with us.
As I said earlier today when I was joined by the member from Cambridge and a number of others at the public event around this legislation, the excitement around this particular piece of the legislation dealing with our cycling strategy and helping to enable it was every tangible in that room.
It’s interesting because we often talk, as I did in my remarks a second ago, about the importance of cycling from the standpoint of making sure that people remain safe and healthy on the roads and have the chance to see some fantastic parts of Ontario. But one of the things that came up in remarks made by others at the podium today was the fact that you can’t underestimate—or you can’t overestimate, I guess I should say—the positive impact from an economic development standpoint of dealing with the cycling community and having a strong cycling strategy in place in terms of how it will pay dividends, in terms of job creation and economic productivity. That’s something that is also part of the foundation that underpins the work that we’re doing around our cycling strategy.
To ensure that all Ontarians benefit from our plans, generally speaking, there needs to be a range of transportation options. Part of the Ministry of Transportation’s efforts in the year ahead will focus on developing a transportation framework that makes best use of all modes of transport. For example, intercity bus should remain an attractive, affordable option for Ontarians. Intercity bus helps students get home for a visit. It helps seniors stay connected to family, and it helps job seekers get an interview and get to an interview. It allows Ontarians to explore their province, which supports jobs and tourism.
I want to thank the former parliamentary assistant at the Ministry of Transportation for reviewing the economic regulatory regime governing the intercity bus industry. I want the committee to know that I’ve asked one of my current parliamentary assistants, Kathryn McGarry, the member from Cambridge, to build on this work and explore options for modernizing the economic regulatory regime governing the intercity bus industry, to ensure that intercity bus travel remains an attractive option for Ontarians.
In all of our activities, the Ministry of Transportation will continue to take a holistic approach to transportation planning to ensure that it achieves maximum benefit for all Ontarians. As minister, I will also work with the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure to examine how short-line rail could support the needs of industry.
MTO will align its planning with the province’s growth plan and other provincial plans. This will include working closely with Metrolinx and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. My ministry will also work with northern development and mines to implement the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario. We are working to develop a Northern Ontario Multi-Modal Transportation Strategy to support economic growth in that region.
We will choose to invest wisely in initiatives that strengthen Ontario’s competitive advantage, create jobs and provide vital public services to our families.
Our 2014 budget reinforces our commitment to balancing the budget by 2017-18. Transportation, like every area, must adhere to the program spending objectives.
Ontario’s economy, culture, education, services and quality of life rely on the movement of people and goods. Ontario has highly educated, creative, hard-working people. They build businesses, launch start-ups, generate ideas, create art and invest in their communities. It is hard to do these things when stuck in traffic or limited in mobility.
I talked about some of my own experiences over the last 10 or 11 years as a resident in the GTHA. Congestion leads to questions that we don’t want Ontarians to have to ask:
“Should I expand my business and hire? Is it getting harder to make deliveries now?”
“Should I bid on that construction job? Will my workers be able to get to the site on time?”
“Should I study at a particular college or university, because getting there for morning classes may be tough?”
Seamless, reliable and effective transportation allows Ontarians to answer “yes” to these and other important questions. They are free to pursue opportunities anywhere they find them. They have access to museums, festivals and parks that interest them. Every job, every client, every opportunity is within reach.
It’s not only Ontarians who want certainty. Businesses choose our province for its highly skilled workforce, its strong communities and its beautiful environment. Continued investment in infrastructure, including transportation, builds confidence in our province’s long-term success.
Our government’s most recent speech from the throne made clear that creating good jobs will be fundamental to building more opportunity and more security, now and in the future. This critical priority is supported by strategic investments in the talent and the skills of our people from childhood to retirement. That’s why our government is committed to building Ontario up, to creating new opportunities and to championing a secure future for people across our province.
Our plan, Moving Ontario Forward, will support the building of that modern infrastructure, that transit and that seamless transportation network. This, in turn, will support a dynamic business climate that thrives on innovation, creativity and the partnerships needed to foster greater prosperity.
I talked at length this morning about my own two daughters, my soon-to-be-seven-year-old and three-year-old, and as I was going through these rhetorical questions a second ago, I thought about them again, Chair, and I thought about their future. I know, again, as I reference the work that’s outlined for me in my mandate letter from the Premier—and I say this looking at committee members who also, as I said this morning, have young children or perhaps children who are a little bit older now and have had to wrestle with some of these questions themselves—that we will have achieved what we need to over the next decade as we seek to invest wisely, based on evidence and based on sound business case analysis, the $29 billion that is at the foundation of our Moving Ontario Forward plan.
We will have achieved success if we can provide the yeses that I talked about a second ago in response to those rhetorical questions. I know that the extraordinary team at the Ministry of Transportation, working closely with the women and men at Metrolinx, will put us in a position over the next number of months, as we discussed earlier today at this committee, to explain more about what the implementation of that 10-year plan will look like. I know that as I continue to spend time away from this building in regions, cities and communities across the greater Toronto and Hamilton area and, frankly, right across Ontario, I’ll be in a position to make sure that a number of communities have a clear sense of exactly how the investments will flow to them. I’m very excited about continuing to have the opportunity to work on projects that will truly transform how we move individuals across this entire region, like the regional express rail.
I know, as I mentioned a little bit this morning as well, that we are in the process of dealing with or experiencing what I’ll call municipal election season. There is, regardless of where I travel in this province, a ton of excitement about investments in roads and bridges and highways. There is a ton of energy out there in the discussions that are taking place around public transit in those communities for which that’s crucial, not just here in Toronto but elsewhere as well. There’s a lot of excitement about the fact that the Ministry of Transportation has taken concrete steps to improve and prepare our responsiveness in advance of this coming winter season with some of the announcements we made just a few days ago around winter maintenance and how it will positively impact the experience that people have on our roads and highways for this upcoming winter season.
There is a lot of work that has already taken place. I have spent a fair bit of time so far today talking about the considerable investments that have been made since 2003. There is a lot more work to be done.
I know that even here in this room, here in this building, there is a ton of interest in these topics. I know I will continue to be here for the balance of my time at estimates, but I do look forward as well—and this is one of the brilliant parts of being involved in this particular ministry. There isn’t a day that goes by that a member from some other part of the province—not only from my own party, but from the two opposition parties as well—will not come to talk to me about specific issues that relate to transportation or transit for their communities. I’ve had the chance to learn a lot about what is taking place and what impacts those communities across the province. I look forward to learning more.
But the one answer I give to every MPP who comes to see me is that we at the Ministry of Transportation will continue to work hard. From the deputy on down, everyone who is behind me here today and everyone else who is doing such an exemplary job at the ministry understands very clearly the importance of providing top-notch customer service. It’s something they’ve certainly heard me talk about.
The team at Metrolinx understands that as well, not only dealing with MPPs of all three parties and municipal officeholders, but the community at large. It doesn’t mean that our work is done on any of these issues that I’ve been talking about today and I know I’ll continue to talk about for this afternoon and beyond today. It doesn’t mean that our work is done. It doesn’t mean that it’s mission accomplished here today. There is much more work for us to do. But I am resolute with respect to making sure that the work does get done, and I am extremely optimistic and confident because I know that we have that clear plan. It is an ambitious plan.
I did spend some time this morning talking a little about the fact that there will be disruptions, that there will be expectations to manage. There’s no other way to deal with this, because again, when you talk about the size, the scope and the breadth of what we are going to accomplish over the next decade—but it’s an exciting time for me to be in this role. It’s an exciting time for me to have the chance to work with all of you. Long after my time at estimates is done, I think it’s important for me to also convey to all the members of this committee and the other members of the Legislature—I want to make sure that at the Ministry of Transportation I am held accountable and we’re held accountable, because people are depending upon us. The stakes, as the cliché goes, are very, very high.
That’s why I talked a little bit earlier today about the importance of the fact that we have, for the first time ever—or the Premier has—made our mandate letters publicly available. This means that anybody, at the click of a mouse, can determine exactly whether or not this minister or that minister is doing everything that’s within their mandate letter. I think that’s actually not just an important step; I think it’s a revolutionary step in terms of transparency and in terms of our commitment to being an open government. I look forward, over the next four years, or at least for as long as I have the honour of serving in this particular role on behalf of the Premier and the people of Ontario, to being held accountable for delivering on the contents of my mandate letter. That’s not a partisan comment; I think that’s what the people of my own community of Vaughan and the people of our entire province have by way of an expectation for all of us who have the privilege of serving.
Over the course of the balance of my time here at estimates, I look forward to great discussions and great questions. I do understand very clearly how passionate you all are. I know what the role of this committee is. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to dig a little bit deeper into some of the facts and figures and data that are there to help make sure that everyone has a clear sense of how we plan to go forward. I know, in my own community, I know in communities right across the province of Ontario, as I said earlier—tons of excitement about where we plan to take this province in terms of building it up over that next decade—billions of dollars in investments. It’s a very exciting time to be in this role. I do look forward—Chair, I’m not sure how much time I have left.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): About five minutes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: About five minutes. I think it’s really important to note as well, and I did want to say this earlier in my 30-minute response time, that I didn’t want to give the impression when I was speaking earlier today—it’s because I had lost track of time, so I had spent most of my time focused on issues relating to what I guess would be perceived as public transit. I said it this afternoon. I want to make sure people understand: As important as public transit is—and it is—and as crucial as the investments are that we’re making, it’s not exclusively about public transit. There are a lot of communities, many of which I had the chance to meet when I was at, for example, the AMO conference over the summer, that will come to me, whether they’re from ridings like Glengarry–Prescott–Russell or others, and will say to me, “Look, we understand that in some of your larger urban centres, you have very sophisticated public transit. But in our communities, we have roads, we have bridges, we have highways. That’s our public transit.” It’s a very compelling message because it’s not wrong.
That’s why it’s important to recognize that we have invested billions of dollars already over the last decade in projects that will support those communities. It’s why we continue to invest. It’s why we have the $2.5 billion that I referenced a few minutes ago for 2014-15 as it relates to rehabilitating and expanding roads, bridges and highways across the province of Ontario. But it’s also why the Premier of Ontario, during that AMO conference, announced the $100 million in funding that will be designed to specifically support communities that feel that we need to be there, and we understand why we need to be there. So, very exciting news at the AMO conference around exactly that particular piece as well.
I didn’t get a chance this morning to, I believe, adequately convey that aspect of my message. I wanted to be in a position this afternoon to make sure that for those who may be watching, living in communities that don’t have public transit systems, you are equally a partner in making sure that Ontario has the brightest future possible. It means that you have to experience the same degree of prosperity, opportunity, stability and security that a person living in a large community like Vaughan or Toronto does as well. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the north or southwest or in the east; you will have that same opportunity.
Of course, many in this room and outside of this room would have heard over the last number of months the Premier talk extensively about the notion of one Ontario. I can’t think of another ministry where that notion of one Ontario is more clearly demonstrated than the Ministry of Transportation because, when you look at that $29 billion to be invested over the next decade, it is essentially roughly split 50-50 between communities in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area and communities that fall outside. I think that’s very much in keeping with one of the Premier’s foundational philosophical notions of one Ontario.
I do look forward, Chair, over the course of this afternoon, to having the chance to answer more questions. I’ve referenced already today that the Deputy Minister of Transportation and the rest of the team behind us are here in case there’s a specifically technical question that can be answered for a member of this committee.
With that, I think I’ll end my remarks and I’ll throw it back to the Chair. I’m happy to take the next round of questions.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thank you. We move to the official opposition. Mr. Hillier, 20 minutes.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Thank you very much, Chair, and thank you for being here on this lovely day, Minister.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thank you.
Mr. Randy Hillier: I found it interesting, in your comments and your reply, where you said that the mandate letters were revolutionary. I found the choice of words interesting because with the previous two ministers that we’ve had in estimates, clearly their statements have been circular—not so much revolutionary—when it came to explaining their mandate letters and their refusal to be open and transparent. I trust that you, Minister, will be far more forthright and less circular than what we’ve seen with the other two ministries.
Earlier today my colleague from Kitchener–Conestoga asked about the feasibility study that had been referenced by the previous minister and also by the Premier. The commitment was made that that feasibility study would be forthcoming after the election, but this morning—and clarify if I’m incorrect here—you indicated that it was not a feasibility study but a pre-feasibility study. Is that correct?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: To my recollection, I, as Minister of Transportation, have only ever referenced that report as a pre-feasibility study.
Mr. Randy Hillier: And it is a pre-feasibility study.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sure. But the important thing, I think, to recognize, for members of the committee, is that, semantics aside, whatever label you want to put on that particular report, I think what’s important for us to remember, as I said earlier today, is that the Ministry of Transportation, over the next short while, will be launching the EA process for the high-speed rail project.
Mr. Randy Hillier: I just want to stick to this, because words are important.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Where I come from, action is actually more important, but that’s okay; I take your point.
Mr. Randy Hillier: It’s not just semantics; I want to be clear that it is a pre-feasibility study that you have. You have not done a feasibility study on that rail link.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Again, I refer you back to the mandate letter that I have—I have a copy of it here; I’m happy to share it.
Mr. Randy Hillier: So do I.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m not sure if you’ve had the chance to read through it.
Mr. Randy Hillier: I have.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It’s a few pages. You’ll see very clearly, both in word and in tone—it’s very clear in this letter that my responsibility, on a go-forward basis, is to make sure that we are moving forward with a wide variety of very important projects. When I said to your colleague this morning, to his questioning, that we would be launching the EA process, that’s the commitment that I’ve made since becoming the Minister of Transportation. It’s the commitment that the Premier of Ontario made, to my recollection in the Legislature, when she was in Kitchener-Waterloo just a few days ago. It’s something that we’re—
Mr. Randy Hillier: I didn’t ask anything about the EA. I just wanted clarification that you have a pre-feasibility study—you do not have a feasibility study—and the pre-feasibility study will be tabled at some point. There has been confirmation that it would be tabled by the past minister and by the Premier, and we’re expecting that to be tabled shortly, I would expect.
But I do want to ask this. This pre-feasibility study: Is this something that would have been undertaken by ministry staff, employees of the public service, or would that have been done by an outside consultant?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: When I referenced it this morning, I referred to it as the FCP pre-feasibility study. That’s—remind me what the acronym stands for.
Ms. Carol Layton: First Class Partnerships.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: First Class Partnerships.
Mr. Randy Hillier: I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same—“pre-feasibility study” is a term that we don’t often come across. I’ve read many feasibility studies, but a pre-feasibility study is something that—a feasibility study is when you evaluate and analyze and look at what the best way is to get to what you’ve decided you’re going to do.
I’m not sure what a pre-feasibility study is. But I was wondering: Could you make that criteria that the ministry undertook—and you went out looking for a consultant to do a pre-feasibility study—could you provide this committee with the parameters that were requested by the MTO to develop this pre-feasibility study?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Because I think it’s important—because we both had a bit of a back-and-forth on this, and I think it’s important for every member of the committee to hear exactly what my mandate letter says with respect to high-speed rail—I think it’s important for clarification.
Mr. Randy Hillier: But my question is—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I understood your question. I’ll get to that in a second.
Mr. Randy Hillier: No, no. You had your 30-minute reply; you’ve had your 30-minute introduction; you’ve done your ministerial statements. Now it’s time to answer the questions. The parameters for hiring that consultant to do that pre-feasibility study: Would you make those parameters available to this committee?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’ll take that request back, yes.
Mr. Randy Hillier: That’s not a yes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: You’re right; that’s not, at this point, a yes, so I’ll take that back—
Mr. Randy Hillier: So it’s not quite being open and transparent.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I think one of the things—
Mr. Randy Hillier: Is it commercially sensitive?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: There are elements that are commercially sensitive. But one of the things that I said to your colleague earlier today—and it’s something that has been echoed in comments that I’ve made publicly on this since becoming the Minister of Transportation—one of the things that you have to understand—and this is not just as it relates to high-speed rail but as it relates to a lot of the work that we do around making these kinds of investments in crucial public infrastructure: The EA process—
Mr. Randy Hillier: I’m not asking about the EA process.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: No, but you’re asking about feasibility studies. So I just want to help you understand a little bit more clearly about the work that actually takes place to produce results for your community and Kitchener-Waterloo and others. So if you could just bear with me for one second—
Mr. Randy Hillier: Listen, I don’t want a long, rambling response here.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It’s not long and rambling. It will actually be very much to the point on this.
Mr. Randy Hillier: I asked: Can you provide the criteria—you went out to the marketplace looking for a consultant to develop a pre-feasibility study: if you’d provide that to this committee. And the answer has been: Maybe so, maybe no.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: My response was, I will take that back and we will get back to you.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Okay. And my response to that is, that is somewhat less than forthcoming and somewhat less than open or transparent. Unless there was some commercially sensitive information, I don’t believe how you set the criteria for a pre-feasibility study.
But let me go on to the next question, because words are important. Minister, you’ll know that on April 30 your government came out with a commitment to do high-speed rail between London, Kitchener and Toronto. Then it was further expanded to include Windsor. You’ve also told us, and it’s also in the mandate letters, that you’re going to make decisions to invest wisely, that you’re going to do it through the lens of fiscal prudence, and that you’re going to be open and transparent and you’re going to make sound business decisions. On April 30 you made a commitment to do high-speed rail. There is not a feasibility study done; there is possibly—well, not possibly; I understand there is this pre-feasibility study. How can you make a commitment for high-speed rail when you haven’t even done a feasibility study for it first? Is that wise?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: What I’ve done since becoming the Minister of Transportation—which, as I said a second ago, was echoed and repeated by the Premier; I’ve said it in the Legislature; she has said it in the Legislature; she said it in Kitchener-Waterloo last Friday or the Friday before, and it’s consistent with what’s in my mandate letter on page 3, which is that I’m responsible for advancing environmental assessments for high-speed rail, building on the greater Toronto and Hamilton area’s forthcoming regional express rail network, which will link, as we’ve talked about, Toronto, Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Waterloo region and London as well as London and Windsor.
The commitment that I’ve made since becoming the Minister of Transportation—which the Premier has also talked about extensively, and I said it this morning in response to questions from your colleague: In the not-too-distant future, possibly before the end of this year, the Ministry of Transportation will launch an environmental assessment for the high-speed rail project that will run from Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo to London to Windsor. In that work, generally speaking, around environmental assessments, there is a ton of the kind of analysis that—
Mr. Randy Hillier: Listen, I’m well aware of what environmental assessments are.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m not sure if you are because based on your questions it would seem otherwise.
Mr. Randy Hillier: I’ve been involved in project management for a long time.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: A layperson would ordinarily expect a lot of the work that takes place in any EA to be around this notion of what the layperson will call feasibility. I just wanted to make sure that was clearly understood.
Mr. Randy Hillier: So you’ve made the announcement. You made the commitment, or your ministry has, and the Premier has, without having a feasibility study done. I guess we’re waiting for your prerogative whether or not the pre-feasibility will be shared with the estimates committee. I am disappointed, Minister. I do think a mandate letter is important. I think it’s important that people abide by the expectations—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I agree.
Mr. Randy Hillier: —and we ought not to take our responsibilities lightly or shirk them in any fashion. So when the Premier of this province says to the public that we are going to be open and transparent and accountable, I take her at her word. You cannot be accountable if we cannot see what you’re doing or what you have done. If there is no measure, then there can be no accountability, and that pre-feasibility study and the lack of a feasibility study makes those words less than truthful, less than genuine, I think, in anybody’s measure.
I’m going to turn it over to my colleague from Kitchener–Conestoga. But there are two other things that would help me in my questions for tomorrow. They’re lists I’m going to ask you for; if you could provide this committee with two lists. I did see the significant increase in the estimates for your fleet acquisition on page 46 of the results-based book, and I was wondering if you could provide the committee with a list of the fleet acquisitions.
Also, something that I could not find in the estimates and I’m hoping that you’d be able to share with us is the expenditures estimated for your ministry on expropriations this year.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Would you like an answer to one of those—
Mr. Randy Hillier: If those are available now, sure, but—
Ms. Carol Layton: Sure. Just on the fleet acquisition, that in particular I’d like to answer right now. Expropriation is another one that we could get back to you on.
On the fleet acquisition, it’s been over the last few years that we’ve been centralizing the fleets that were existing in all the different ministries into MTO. So now in this year’s printed estimates, 2014-15, you are seeing—with the exception of things like the OPP and the MNR planes—that we have now consolidated the fleets. So it’s not an increase in cars and fleet—
Mr. Randy Hillier: So we should see a corresponding reduction in the—
Ms. Carol Layton: —in the other ministries. They would be smaller numbers, but you’re talking 20-plus ministries.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Sure. Okay. If you could provide a basic outline of those acquisitions—
Ms. Carol Layton: We’ll get back to you on that. On both those questions, we’ll get back to you.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Okay.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Harris, you have about six minutes.
Mr. Michael Harris: Sure. Minister, the budget prioritized the electrification of the GO lines, focusing on UP Express, the Lakeshore and the Kitchener line. However, there’s been a variable increase in the budget to Metrolinx. I’m just wondering if you could let the committee know how much money is being allocated this year for the electrification of those lines.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Again, the commitment around electrification, which is a fundamental part and parcel of the regional express rail initiative that our government has committed to undertaking—is that this kind of goes to the point that I raised this morning when I was discussing the notion around communities knowing that we plan to make significant investments, communities understanding that electrification will be an important part of the regional express rail transformation.
But everyone does have to remember that this is a very large undertaking. We have seven GO rail lines or GO train lines in the province of Ontario, and Metrolinx is currently undertaking, along with the ministry, as I’ve said earlier, the business case analysis about how that implementation will look, which includes implementation dealing with issues relating to the electrification. So—
Mr. Michael Harris: So how much money is being allocated this year for electrification? A simple question.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It’s not really a question that’s, with the greatest of respect, going to give you what you’re looking for, if you don’t mind me saying, and I say this very respectfully. Electrification is, again, at the heart of what that transformation will look like when it is completely and fully rolled out. But there is a ton of work that needs to take place. The deputy can speak to this in a quick second if she’d like to, but there’s not necessarily a breakout to say, “Within all of the work that’s taken place around getting us from where we are today to the full rollout of regional express rail, this is a specific amount around electrification.” It’s embedded in the work that’s taking place generally around taking our—
Mr. Michael Harris: Metrolinx, when they’re project-managing or budgeting as to all the projects that they’ve got ongoing—you would think they would want to know roughly how much they have to spend for this year on electrification, since it is a priority—you’ve listed this as a priority in the budget. So I’m just asking a simple question on how much you’ve allocated in the budget, be it that you’ve identified this as being a priority for Metrolinx to actually allocate directly for electrification.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: The deputy will speak in a quick second on this, but I just want to make sure we do understand that the lines you referenced a second ago, or I think you referenced—it was hard for me to hear, but I think there were three out of the seven—
Mr. Michael Harris: Yes, UP Express, Lakeshore and Kitchener.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Those were along with the other four lines that we currently have. The plan is to make sure that, over the decade, we have that two-way, all-day, the RER that we did talk about, and electrification is a very important part of that. But it is a 10-year horizon. With that, I’m going to ask the deputy to speak specifically as to how that might be broken out—in the shortest term possible.
Ms. Carol Layton: First on the Union Pearson Express: It’s the environmental assessment process that we’re working our way through. It’s complete for the 25-kilometre corridor, but the power supply environmental assessment is the one that is subject to approvals right now. So that’s the first piece of EA work that has been done.
As the minister said, in the GO Transit system there are seven major corridors all radiating out from Union Station, with different complexities along each one of those corridors. But if you went onto the Metrolinx website itself and looked at their board reports, you’d see, for the September 5 meeting, you’d get a sense of the scope and scale of what it means to move towards regional express rail and to the electrification that we’re talking about, which is over the 10-year period; things like, for example, 500 kilometres of overhead catenary system that has to be developed; extensive renovations to over 60 rail stations—it’s right here in the deck that’s available on the Metrolinx website; around 340 new track installations. As the minister said earlier this morning, 80% of the GO network is owned by GO, but the majority of that, maybe about 50%, is single-track. To move to the types of systems we’re talking about—high-speed, limited-stop, all-stop, different things like that—there’s going to have to be more track work.
In all of that, the first two steps: one is the business case analysis that the minister spoke about, because we’re talking about evidence-based; and the second is the environmental assessment work. All of that work, as each public board meeting comes and goes—and the next one will be in mid-December, with Metrolinx—you’ll see progress. They will report out again. It will be in subsequent meetings that we will start to get the clarity that we need. But I can assure you that the work is extensive with the agency, and I can also assure you that there are many, many working groups that are involved with it.
The other point I’d like to just make, if I may—and this relates also to Ms. DiNovo and her comment about the expectation of certainty of what you have in terms of budgets and all that—is to not also forget Bill 6, which has been tabled by the new administration, which is the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, which, once passed, will look to, in legislation, 10-year infrastructure plans. There are many elements to that piece of legislation. I don’t have that in front of me—
Mr. Michael Harris: I just asked—
Ms Carol Layton: That’s an important component.
Mr. Michael Harris: Be it that Metrolinx is in charge of actually getting the work done and there’s a very limited increase to Metrolinx’s budget, yet you’re talking about electrification: How is this going to happen if you’ve not put the money in the bucket? The Liberal election platform stated that all GO Transit lines would have upgrades for electrification within 10 years. However, the CEO of Metrolinx, Bruce McCuaig, noted that the new objective for electrification is to try and deliver as much as possible over a 10-year horizon.
I’ll ask you, because you’re tasked with actually implementing this: Do you believe your government can actually fulfill its goal for electrification of the entire system in 10 years? Yes or no?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I know that the team at Metrolinx is working very, very closely. I’ve said this a few times today, so I do apologize for repeating myself. I also referenced the fact, in terms of making sure that expectations are managed about the time horizon—10 years is a long time period during which we have to deal with this—that I am very, very confident, I have a very high expectation, that Metrolinx, working with MTO, will be able to come back over the next few months—the deputy mentioned that they have a—
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Time is up, Minister.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Okay. Next round.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Ms. DiNovo, 20 minutes.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Thank you, Chair.
To follow up, I asked you about a commitment of dedicated funding. I asked for a yes-or-no answer. I did not get that, and now I’m increasingly seeing why I didn’t get it, because the very question of funding is a question indeed. Minister, to be fair, there’s nothing rhetorical about it. No one could be sadder for the fact that there seems to be no real plan and no real funding principle in place for even next year. So we’re going to go through that again, because I, quite frankly, can’t believe what I’m not hearing.
You have said you’re going to spend $1.7 billion in the GTHA on transit next year. I asked you about the gas tax. You don’t have a projection as to how much you will get from that, although that’s one of the revenue tools. I’m going to ask about other things, too, that are in those revenue tool boxes. Clearly, we don’t know what the feds are going to do. They’re interested; they turn up at ribbon cuttings. That’s good to know, but that’s not money. Anybody in this room who plans on building anything, be it a house or a doghouse in their backyard, usually plans ahead. They know not only the timetable; they know what the revenue tools are going to be.
This is not asking for something esoteric or rhetorical. This is asking for how you’re going to pay for something you’ve promised: $1.7 billion.
So, gas tax: We don’t know. Now I’m going to ask you about—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: If I could, Ms. DiNovo—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I didn’t say we don’t know. I said that was a question that was better posed to the Ministry of Finance. And to save you a bit of your time—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay, but it’s not a Ministry of Finance question.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It is.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: You’re the Minister of Transportation.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: But I’m not the minister of revenue generation; I’m the minister of dealing with the implementation. So to save you a bit of time on your 20 minutes, if you’d like, respectfully, my answer to the rest of the questions, if they are exactly analogous to what you’ve asked on the gas tax, would be that those are better posed to the Ministry of Finance. It’s up to you to ask them, but my answer will likely be the same if they’re exactly the same question.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Okay. Here’s the question, then: What has the Ministry of Finance promised you in the way of gas tax revenue for transportation? Because how can you plan a transportation system if you don’t know what money is coming in? The ministry of revenue has said, “We will give you $1.7 billion,” but they haven’t broken it down at all?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: The deputy can respond to some of this as well, if she’d like. I am very clearly focused on the fact that we have in front of us that very clear and ambitious plan. We have, between the Ministry of Finance—yes, there are always conversations that exist between ministries dealing somewhat in common with something that they are planning to go forward with. We talked to you already today about how well, at the earliest instance, the Green Bonds initiative has—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Is all that money going to go for transit?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —the kind of success that it—as far as I know, yes, it’s going specifically to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
Ms. Carol Layton: The first issue.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: The first issue, yes. That’s the commitment that we made the day that myself and Minister Sousa participated in that announcement.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Is it going to the $1.7 billion for next year, too?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: You’re asking me if it’s being specifically dedicated to next year’s $1.7 billion?
Ms. Carol Layton: The point that I’d make on this is that $29 billion over 10 years, $15 billion for the greater Toronto and Hamilton area—order of magnitude; that’s pretty simple, isn’t it—$1.5 billion in each of the next 10 years. We know, though—and it’s public, again, on page 45 of the budget—that it’s going to be up and down a little bit. It might be $1.7 billion one year and $1.6 billion another year. We are comfortable working with the Ministry of Finance and with that degree of certainty to do the detailed work that we’re doing, as we are with Metrolinx—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So you don’t know how much the Ministry of Finance is getting from these revenue tools, but you’re comfortable that somehow they’re going to get $1.7 billion to you with no guarantee of where it’s coming from in terms of revenue tools or what the specific amounts are? You’re just tasked with—
Ms. Carol Layton: The gasoline tax, for example, is a well-over-$2-billion tax, and—
Mr. Han Dong: Point of order, Chair.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): On a point of order, Mr. Dong.
Mr. Han Dong: Thank you, Madam Chair. I think that for the past five minutes the honourable member of the committee has been asking the same question.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): So what is your point of order?
Mr. Han Dong: The question relating to finance—I believe we have five hours of committee time allocated for the Ministry of Finance. So may I respectfully suggest that we could defer these questions to the Minister of Finance?
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Dong, it’s actually Ms. DiNovo’s 20 minutes.
Mr. Han Dong: I understand that.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): She gets to ask the questions. If the minister chooses not to answer them, for whatever reason, it’s appropriate.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s okay, actually, Chair. I’m going to move on anyway. I’m going to move on to the air-rail link and the Union Pearson Express because the minister has mentioned his children on a number of occasions.
There are dozens of schools along that track. The Toronto Board of Health has always said, from the beginning of this project, that that rail should be electrified and not diesel for the sake of our children’s health. Let’s talk children.
They’re running through Mr. Dong’s riding. They’re running through Ms. Albanese’s riding. They’re running through Davenport and through my riding. When I had a meeting with Mr. Murray, when he had your job—that was a meeting where there was a deputy minister involved, and a Clean Train Coalition spokesperson was there. Mr. Murray at that meeting said—to be fair, he said, “I can’t promise you, but we are planning on electrifying that air-rail link by 2017.”
Ms. Albanese put that out to her constituents. I put that out to my constituents. Then we hear from Bruce McCuaig at Metrolinx, whom I’ve had many meetings with over the years—and many transportation ministers later—that this is virtually impossible.
Who is right—Mr. Murray and your ministry or Mr. McCuaig and Metrolinx?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I appreciate that question. I would hope that the member from Parkdale–High Park, who is asking that question—I do recognize we’ve had this conversation one-on-one when you came to see me. I do recognize how passionate you are about this issue. I know that it impacts your riding. It certainly does impact the members from Davenport and Trinity–Spadina. You mentioned York South–Weston. I talk to my caucus colleagues on a regular basis about this.
I’m at a disadvantage to answer a question about what you may or may not have heard from the previous Minister of Transportation in an informal meeting. I’m sorry, I’m not in a position to make a comment on that.
What I know from everything that I understand about the plan going forward dealing with the commitments that we’ve made around electrification for the Union Pearson Express is that they would be subject to the EAs being completed and subject as well to having the financing in place to proceed with that.
I know that Metrolinx is well aware of elements of the communities’ desires around the future for that air-rail link. I think the deputy mentioned this already once at committee today. I think you might know this too. There are two separate EAs around the Union Pearson Express that have been undertaken. I think I know what you’re looking for, but it’s hard for me to make a comment about what might have taken place under a previous Minister of Transportation in the meeting that you were referencing a second ago.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It was also said in the House in Hansard. It’s in Hansard.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m sorry to say I don’t have a copy of Hansard in front of me. I’m not saying that you’re wrong; I’m just saying I don’t have that here in front of me at this particular moment.
What I know is that we have heard loud and clear about the need to go forward, generally speaking, with the notion around electrification. The Union Pearson Express, of course, is one of those projects that’s on the list, part and parcel, of the work that Metrolinx will continue to do. Once the environmental assessments are fully completed and dealt with and financing is in place, I would expect that we would move forward with that. I’m not in a position today to give you a hard date or timeframe around that, but we will move as expeditiously as we can, based on those parameters—the EAs being completed and accepted and financing being in place to proceed with it.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So you don’t know when the EA is going to be completed and you don’t know when the financing will be in place?
Ms. Carol Layton: The first EA, the one that relates to the overall route, the transit EA, has been completed. In fact, on Metrolinx’s website they acknowledge that it’s done. The other one has been submitted, so it’s a question of approval. That’s the one that relates to the power supply. That is one that actually also has to involve Hydro One. So it’s one that is just waiting in the queue for approvals.
Back to the financing: That all relates to the greater Toronto and Hamilton area $15-billion fund. With the assurance of the passing of the 2014 budget—one of the most accountable documents that we have in any administration is the annual budget. So the assurance of that money there is there as well. So now it’s a question of that final approval and then get going with the planning. It’s a complicated corridor, a 25-kilometre stretch. I talked about the catenary systems, the power supply, everything else that you are talking about, protecting that corridor, because of the fact that you’re going to have live wires.
I checked in with Bruce McCuaig today on this, and he confirmed with me that certainly what was always the statement out there, that 2017 was always in the context of—and I’m recalling this many times as well—EA approvals as well as in the context of the funding, and those are the things that are falling into place, actually with the passing of the 2014 budget.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Sort of, except we’re not sure about it because we’re not sure of those revenue tools. But that, again, is not yours; it’s finance.
Ms. Carol Layton: If I could just—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: We’re going in a circle here, there’s no question.
So let’s get down, again, to some other questions I have about the air-rail link. If it costs roughly $65 million to operate the Union Pearson Express and you’re only expecting about 2.46 million—I’m using your figures here—by 2020, each paying a $20 fare, that’s about $50 million in revenue, leaving a $15-million-a-year gap. So that means you’ll need a subsidy of more than $6 per business traveller. Is this correct?
So the question is, what is the projected deficit for the Union Pearson Express in 2020, and what is the per rider subsidy you calculate for the Union Pearson Express? How much are you going to be subsidizing each rider on that?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I think you’re aware of the fact, Ms. DiNovo, that Metrolinx hasn’t finalized the work that it’s undertaking to land on a final fare—a fare for what it will cost to ride the Union Pearson Express. When you take into account that they’re still doing their work and their—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I expect it will be—yes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: And when you also take into account that there is more to supporting the operation of a line like the Union Pearson Express than simply just the fare, I’m sure there are other opportunities for revenue-generating support to be brought to bear. I think it’s premature for me to make a comment on where we will land around any kind of potential operational subsidy until we know exactly what that fare is going to be.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: One of the questions I get asked, and I’m sure Mr. Dong gets asked and people in our ridings get asked all the time, is why in the world was this not part of our transportation, our TTC system? Why weren’t there more stops? Why wasn’t it seen as a system that could somehow be contiguous with a transportation system for people—in a sense, a relief line of sorts? Was that never even considered by you or Metrolinx?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Well, I think you would understand, of course, coming into this role as Minister of Transportation on June 24 this year, that from my perspective, my responsibility is to make sure that the project is completed and launched on time. It is a project that is scheduled to be, let’s call it, delivered on time and on budget, which I think is something that we should stress and we should recognize and be happy about.
This is a project, to my knowledge, that has a fairly long history in terms of how it came to be, how it evolved. I am in a world now, as the current Minister of Transportation, to make sure, working with Metrolinx, that it is operating in time for the 2015 Pan/Parapan Games. It will be. I know the team at Metrolinx is working very hard to land on a fare that makes sense, a sophisticated fare that makes sense—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So it’s going to be more than $20?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I can’t comment right now, because Metrolinx is still doing its work.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So an unaffordable air-rail link hurried together for a two-week sporting event that will not carry anybody from place of residence to work affordably in any way, shape or form, designed to carry business travellers who, quite frankly, as we all know, will probably take a cab from the airport and not the air-rail link. Does this make sense to you? And, by the way, it’s diesel, so that our children’s health all up and down the line will be put at risk, not to mention the property values of people who live in Liberty Village, who live in my riding, who live in York South–Weston, who live in Trinity–Spadina and who live in Davenport. Does this make sense to you?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Well, you know, from the conversations we’ve had, I do understand and respect the passion that you bring to this topic. I don’t share your pessimism around what the future outlook is for the Union Pearson Express. When we’re in a position to deliver these large, important, crucial public infrastructure projects, I think we should celebrate the fact that this one is being delivered on time and on budget. I think this will provide Torontonians, GTHA residents—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: We’re not sure it’s going to be delivered on budget, because you haven’t really answered my question about the subsidy per fare.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m talking about the delivery of the project itself in terms of building it and starting to operate it. I think that people who live in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area and beyond, tourists coming to our region—I’ve lived in this community, this region, all 41 years I’ve been alive, and this will be the first opportunity to have that direct link, which of course exists in many other cities that have international airports around the world. There are a number of those truly analogous air-rail links that exist in other communities that do well. That’s the work that Metrolinx continues to undertake. I’m sure—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Could you name a city where the air-rail link is diesel?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m in a position right now, as I said a second ago, to talk about the fact that we are looking at, and Metrolinx continues to look at, the fare, which we were talking about a second ago. I said, at the outset of my answer to this question, that I don’t share the pessimism. I understand where you’re coming from. We’ve talked about this; I’m sure we’re going to talk about it more, and I look forward to those conversations. But I’m not a person who shares your pessimism on this one—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: But you do an analogy. You talked about other cities with air-rail links, but I would like to know what other air-rail links run on diesel.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Okay, so we’ll take that back and we’ll—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Could you? Because my understanding is that the only one is Bangladesh. But I’ll leave that with you.
I want to move on to some other projects—the Sheppard line, for example. This project was supposed to be running by 2013. That was last year.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: This is the LRT?
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Yes. But now, after successive delays, we understand that construction won’t begin until at least 2017. I guess the simple question I have for you and others is: Is this a pipe dream too, or will this ever be built?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Not that many weeks ago, I had the chance to be in Scarborough at a public town hall meeting that was organized by two of my caucus colleagues, the member from Scarborough–Agincourt and the member from Scarborough–Rouge River. There were a couple of hundred people, including Deputy Mayor Kelly from the city of Toronto and a wide variety of municipal candidates there—trustees, council candidates etc. I had a really great conversation with people in the room. There was lots of emotion, lots of passion in that room. There were some people who were very eager to see us break ground soon on the LRT and some who suggested the province should move in a different direction.
When I talked earlier about the work that is being undertaken by Metrolinx, working with the Ministry of Transportation around not only RER, but also around the entire transit network and where we go next with respect to our investments, I think that’s a conversation that is taking place.
One of the things—and I’m pretty sure I referenced this this morning—that’s been a little bit difficult for all of us to deal with over the course of, frankly, a generation in this region, is that a lot of the decisions are made in isolation from one another. This is a message I stressed that night in Scarborough. I also said it in Hamilton and I’ve said it elsewhere.
In order for all of this to work as fluidly as I believe it needs to so that at the end of at least this next 10-year phase, when we’ve made these investments and we’ve pumped these billions of dollars into the system and we’re providing more service, it has to make sense in terms of how we stage it, it has to make sense in terms of connecting people with a variety of modes of transportation to give them those options so—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So we don’t know whether it will ever be built.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: No, that’s not at all what I was going to say.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So it might be built.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: What I said a second ago, and what I’ve said on the record many, many times, is that this is a project that continues to reside in the Big Move, in the next wave of the Big Move, and that Metrolinx is continuing to do its work, again with the Ministry of Transportation, to make sure that we have an implementation plan that makes sense, especially when you overlay it with the regional express rail.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: So when will it be built, then?
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): One minute, Ms. DiNovo, to wrap up.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m not in a position—
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: And I didn’t even get the chance to talk about Niagara, which isn’t even mentioned anywhere—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: That’s okay. There’s more time.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: —but we’ll get into that perhaps in the next section.
Minister, just to sum up: What I’m hearing, and what anybody here watching would be hearing, is a lot of “conversation,” a lot of “mandate,” a lot of “next year,” a lot of “it’s another ministry’s responsibility,” a lot of “we’re still looking at that,” a lot of “we’re still waiting for reports,” and still we sit in Toronto waiting for the bus. That’s all I’m going to say. We still, four years later—well, actually, I’m in my ninth year here—have seen new streetcars and a tunnel-boring machine on Eglinton; that’s it. I’ll leave it at that. Thank you.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thanks, Ms. DiNovo.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thank you, Ms. DiNovo.
Government members: Ms. McGarry.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you very much. Minister, you spoke in your opening statement about our ambitious $29-billion plan to provide transit and much-needed transportation infrastructure across our province. It certainly affects myself in my riding of Cambridge as well as my family.
Interestingly, this morning in your opening statement you talked about your commute times. I used to commute from my great riding of Cambridge to Mount Sinai Hospital, just down the road here in the mid-to-late 1990s, actually. I left there in 2001. In those days, my commute time was an hour and 25 minutes in the morning, and my home time was an hour and 15 minutes at night. It has easily doubled, if not gone from two and a half to three hours now in the morning and two and a half hours at night. So it’s easily doubled. So this really affects me directly.
I was also interested in looking at this as a 10-year project affecting our families and our children. I have this saying that “I have a son for all occasions.” My children range over 24 years, so my oldest has actually lived and worked in Europe for the last eight years, and until very recently he did not own a car. Transit in European cities is certainly more developed—and we’re aspiring to do that. He regularly takes the train to and from airports because he travels for his work, and he’s very much looking forward to that Union-Pearson line for when he arrives in Toronto for his business trips, and then he’s looking at taking a bus out here because now he’s learned to drive on the wrong side of the road.
Interestingly, my youngest is 10 and my middle two are 17 and 20. So they really depend on coming to see me now by taking a bus line both from Cambridge and from other areas where they’re visiting for their work. This really affects us directly, so I’m really pleased that we’re moving forward. But it’s not just my family.
Interestingly, when I was first elected, the Cambridge mayor was very excited to see that I was appointed as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation because—and I think our member across the way here from Kitchener–Conestoga would agree—transit in our area in the region of Waterloo has been a significant issue in the last few years, and we’re very excited to see some of these projects under way right now, including the LRT in KW and the bus rapid transit line that’s dedicated in Cambridge. So we’re looking forward to seeing some of the rollout over the next few years.
It’s been a discussion, from all the politicians and a lot of my constituents, about this next 10 years’ worth of projects and how we’re going to move forward in incorporating Cambridge and the region of Waterloo with transit projects across our province.
I’m just really curious if you’ve decided exactly how the $29 billion will roll out, the $15 billion that’s dedicated for the GTHA as well as the $14 billion that has been dedicated outside the GTHA. Do we have specifics laid out in terms of how this money will be spent?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thanks very much for that question. Your mayor wasn’t the only person who was excited when he learned that you had been appointed to serve as the parliamentary assistant to myself, the Minister of Transportation. Of course, having known you for a number of years, I know exactly what kind of a staunch, strong advocate you are for your community—and someone who brings a wide range of experiences to your role, serving as the relatively new MPP for Cambridge and parliamentary assistant here at transportation. I know that, working together alongside all of our colleagues from the government caucus but all members of the Legislature, we’ll be able to produce a plan and then implement a plan that gets us to where we need to be.
You’re 100% right: When I had the chance to be in Waterloo over the summer for the groundbreaking on phase 1 of the Kitchener-Waterloo ION LRT, an exciting plan that has a couple of different aspects to it, the first portion being the LRT and then, as you mentioned, the BRT that will take folks out to Cambridge—very, very exciting.
That was one of the first public transit groundbreakings or announcements that I participated in as Minister of Transportation, and what I won’t ever forget is, first of all, the sheer number of individuals who showed up from the community to be there to express such clear, unreserved joy and excitement about the fact that this very significant project—which I want to stress again, because I think it’s important to make sure the record clearly reflects this, has support from all three levels of government. There was a very clear sense of excitement in that community, in your community or in the general area, the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area, for the fact that we were there, alongside our colleague from Kitchener Centre, to break ground on this very important project.
Not surprisingly, there were a number of individuals, some of whom I’d seen at AMO just a few days before, who took the opportunity to come to talk to me, as local officials often do—and I don’t blame them for doing it; I’d be doing the same thing if I was in their shoes—to have this exact conversation with me: “When is two-way, all-day GO going to be coming to our community? What will electrification look like? When will the investments roll out? Will we get increased this or increased that, another station, more parking?”
I said this in my comments earlier this morning: When I talk to commuters in my own riding about what they’re looking for with respect to that GO train service that they rely on on a daily basis, I understand exactly how attached people are and how thrilled people are with any incremental increase in service that they get, whether it means that they can get on an earlier or later train, get a seat versus not getting a seat, park their car so that they don’t feel compelled to have to park off-site somewhere, or better linkage between their home and the GO station itself on some version of either local or other public transit.
There are literally and figuratively a lot of moving parts when it comes to these things. There is a significant amount of work that has already taken place within Metrolinx and within the Ministry of Transportation. The deputy, earlier, in response to a question from one of the opposition members on this committee, talked about the fact that at the September board meeting that Metrolinx had—these are board meetings, by the way, which are public—there was a great discussion around what some of the various service concepts might look like around GO RER.
The next board meeting for Metrolinx is coming up in the earlier part of December, so we’re not that far away now. I have every expectation that the team at Metrolinx will be able to produce more details around how some of these pieces start to fit together in a cohesive way. I don’t know that we’re going to be able to say, necessarily, at the December board meeting or in advance of that or shorter after that, “This is exactly when you can expect to get exactly this service on every single line.” I want to make sure, and I know everyone at the Ministry of Transportation wants to make sure, that we have solutions going forward, we have a sense, we have a schedule, we have phasing that will ultimately make the most sense based on the evidence, based on the business case analysis and also based on some other circumstances and factors that we do have to take into account. For example, it’s been discussed already in my appearance so far at estimates that Metrolinx owns 80% of the rail corridors on which our GO trains run. We don’t own 100%. There are some factors that need to be taken into account relating to implementation with respect to who owns these corridors.
So these are the issues, these are the opportunities, and to some extent these are the challenges that still exist in that work. I would expect that towards the end of this year, we’ll certainly see more detail, and likely into early next year, we’ll definitely be in a position to be able to provide far greater clarification about how, for example, GO RER will look in terms of its implementation and its phasing.
I’ve had the opportunity to talk on this on a number of occasions. Because I’m someone who very, very clearly believes in the importance of implementation—I want to roll up the sleeves, I want to get shovels in the ground. I want to provide people in Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan and right across this region with more service—Richmond Hill, Oshawa, whatever the case is, Hamilton, Milton, the list goes on—because I know the demand is there. It’s one of those things where I find myself sometimes looking in the mirror to say, “We want to get it done, but we need to get it done right,” so that when my seven-year-old and my three-year-old and your 10-year-old and others are looking back, when they’re in their 30s, 40s and older, they’ll say, “There was a moment in time in Ontario’s evolution when a government finally managed to bring all of these pieces that very often had been floating around in isolation into a very consistent alignment and framework that delivered exceptional results.” That’s the moment in time that I think we find ourselves in right now, so I want to make sure that we get it right over the next few months. It’s my way of saying, we are working on it. We will come forward with a plan. I ask everyone to stay tuned and to work with us to make it a reality.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you.
The Acting Chair (Ms. Cheri DiNovo): Mr. Dong?
Mr. Han Dong: Thank you, Madam Chair.
Minister, I have the privilege of representing a very unique riding of this great province. My riding houses perhaps the country’s biggest financial district, as well as one of the biggest creative industries, the entertainment district, the ACC, the Rogers Centre, two universities, the University Health Network, part of the Ontario government and also the Toronto municipal government. My point is that perhaps we employ thousands of people across the province, across the region.
You mentioned that you met quite a few commuters in your riding that are using the GO system, and I bet that quite a few of them are travelling into Trinity–Spadina to work. If anyone takes the time to go down to the financial district and to stand on the street during the day, they can feel how much traffic there is. I bet if they go back at 9 o’clock at night, they can tell the difference in traffic.
My point is, to move these people, these great Ontarians, between their home and their workplace, is a big job, and how to do it efficiently is a great challenge to you, and you have the privilege to execute some of this government’s plan.
I noticed that you mentioned that in the recent past, we have put $19.3 billion into transit, and as part of that, $9.1 billion into GO Transit. The Premier has committed to more frequent, electrified, all-day, two-way service on all corridors of the GO railway network. This is something that I, again and again, communicated with my constituents three months ago during the campaign period, and many residents expressed their excitement and their support for this plan. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we were given this privilege to serve Ontarians and now, as a government, it has a lot to do with our plan and our platform.
I’ve heard the opposition members asking questions about these plans that we have and the details, how we’re going to finance this and all of that, and I can tell that they’re kind of interested. I assume that they’re supportive of these great plans that we have for the next 10 years. But I want to point to the fact that it’s only been three months since we passed the budget, so a lot of these things—I’m quite optimistic and I share your optimism on our plan to create a great transit network for Ontario.
My particular interest is in the regional express rail, and I want to ask you to tell us a bit more about the regional express rail and if you can help to give us some examples of the things we’ve already begun to invest in, especially the GO regional express rail.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thanks very much. That’s a great question, and I definitely understand where you’re coming from, representing a community like Trinity–Spadina, which sits, literally and physically, at the centre of this entire region.
You’re not wrong: I know for a fact that there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people who live in my own community who take GO trains down the Barrie line and end up at Union Station before they go to somewhere else across the Toronto area, but many of them do work in areas close to your own community.
There are a couple of things I’ll highlight. In response to the first question I received from the member from Cambridge, I talked about how we are doing that work now between MTO and Metrolinx, around making sure we have a very clear sense, based on business case analysis, based on evidence-based decision-making, that we’ll be in a world over the next few months where we can talk more about what the phasing will look like around regional express rail. But there are a number of other initiatives that have already taken place, some prior to me becoming the Minister of Transportation and some opportunities that I’ve had to participate in groundbreakings or announcements, or highlight some other achievements that will enhance GO service, generally speaking, which I’ll come back to in just a quick second.
As we’ve talked about earlier, there are seven main corridors or seven main lines that run on the GO system, and one—the one that is the most heavily used, I suppose—is the Lakeshore line, Lakeshore West and Lakeshore East.
Just to point out to the committee, as of June 2013, GO trains began running every 30 minutes along the Lakeshore line seven days a week. This has added 263 new train trips every week to that particular line. Again, it is the busiest and most heavily used line that we have within the GO network.If you look at the comparison between peak and off-peak in the usage and how that’s actually shifted a little bit in terms of being able to positively impact commuters’ behaviour, I think that gives us a sense of exactly what we can accomplish over the next decade when we make those investments and we have that implementation plan so that the rest of our lines are in position to provide that regular, all-day service at up to 15-minute intervals. When you factor in the notion of electrification, which has come up earlier today at committee, there are even more exciting opportunities around what can be accomplished.
You’ll know, of course, that I was in a position to stand alongside the chair of Metrolinx, Rob Prichard, and representatives from the private sector to, for example, announce that we were going to be building a new GO bus terminal at 45 Bay Street, and that we’re going to take that opportunity to partner with the private sector so that they can add a significant amount of commercial space in your community, in your riding. That demonstrates that we have this unique ability and unique opportunity to leverage public sector investments in crucial infrastructure that will help expand the amount of bus service generally—GO bus and potentially other bus service coming into that new terminal—that will open it up, that will significantly increase its capacity to take in buses. That will also put us in a position where we are on the south side of the train tracks, essentially—the rail corridor—which means that our unique iconic double-decker GO buses will, for the first time, be able to access the downtown Toronto GO bus terminal. For those who don’t know, while the GO bus terminal sat where it does today at 141 Bay Street, those double-decker buses couldn’t come to the downtown bus terminal because of the height clearance on the rail corridor itself. By positioning the new GO bus terminal south of tracks, at 45 Bay Street, there’s a whole new world that’s opened up to us in terms of maximizing customer service and that customer experience for people who are going to use that terminal.
Private sector partners, in addition to building those two 40-plus story commercial towers at both 45 Bay and 141 Bay, will also be working to build a park bridge—I’m not sure exactly what the right terminology is for the bridge; I’m forgetting it right now. But I saw, the day of the announcement, what some of the conceptual look is for that really incredible piece of engineering and architecture. The two commercial towers sitting on either side of the rail corridor will be joined together by a bridge that will be running over top of the rail corridor. It will be linking individuals, not only between the GO bus terminal and the two commercial towers, but also linking individuals from the GO bus terminal to the PATH system. So to your point about being the MPP that represents this downtown Toronto riding where you find the financial district situated, it will make it that much easier for customers, patrons, whatever the case is, using that GO bus terminal to be able to access their jobs, should they work in the financial district or somewhere nearby.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Excuse me, Minister, you have about one minute to wrap up.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thank you very much, Chair.
So that’s just a very quick example of some of the significant investments or some of the significant opportunities that have taken place. There is a great deal of other work that will need to be accomplished or achieved over the next decade for us to deliver on RER, not just on the Lakeshore lines but across the other lines as well, significant infrastructure work around grade separations—this list goes on—and dealing with, as the deputy said earlier, the catenaries. I always have trouble pronouncing that word, but that’s essentially what it is to run the lines for electrification. A lot of the EA work—I mean, there’s a significant amount of work that needs to take place, but we are on track, as the saying goes, to deliver this over the next decade, and look forward to continuing to partner with you so that all of Vaughan’s residents who travel to Trinity–Spadina have the best experience possible.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thank you, Minister.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Thank you.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Official opposition: Mr. Harris, you have about 14 minutes.
Mr. Michael Harris: All right. Well, I’ll make the most of the 14 that I have.
Minister, we’re going to back to electrification, because I do believe it’s important across all lines. I’m wondering if you can explain why Metrolinx made the recommendation that stated that the government should spend about $1.8 billion over 20 years to electrify GO Transit’s busiest corridors—Kitchener, Lakeshore and the UP Express line. That recommendation was made in the Metrolinx electrification study that was completed in December 2010. I guess I’d like some clarification for the committee on this recommendation, because it was actually given to then-Transportation Minister, and now Premier, Kathleen Wynne, who believes that we can now electrify the system in 10 years instead of 20—to electrify only the three lines. I really want to know: Why do you think now that we can electrify in just 10 years?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I was going to ask you where that quote came from, because I didn’t know it off the top of my head. It’s interesting to note that it comes from a Metrolinx report that’s now—you said 2010?
Mr. Michael Harris: Yes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —that’s now four years old. I think there are a number of factors to take into account. One is, I think Metrolinx has a very clear sense—certainly from the conversations they’ve had with the Premier, with my predecessor at the Ministry of Transportation and certainly with myself—they have a very clear sense of exactly why we are coming at this particular proposal around RER. They understand the enormous upside in terms of delivering this two-way, all-day GO at up to 15-minute intervals across all lines over the next decade—electrified across all lines. They understand that this has become—I mean, it was always part of the mix, but this has become a very clear priority for how we want to unlock the potential of the entire greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
You also have to take into account that this notion of having $15 billion in dedicated funding available to invest in projects like RER, and the $14 billion that fall outside the GTHA, wasn’t part of the debate and the discussion that took place in 2010. So I think when you take into account all of these factors, Metrolinx is now in a much stronger position to work closely with the Ministry of Transportation to deliver on this commitment.
Mr. Michael Harris: So what will the cost be to electrify within 10 years?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It’s impossible for me at this point in time to put an exact dollar figure on it, because—
Mr. Michael Harris: Why?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Because Metrolinx hasn’t completed the work that I talked about a second ago. All of the work around the business case analysis, the EAs themselves—
Mr. Michael Harris: They’re doing a pre-feasibility study.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —they haven’t completed that work. And I want to make sure we’re under no illusions about that. That’s a considerable amount of work that a team of very hard-working experts are working on, both inside the ministry and at Metrolinx itself.
Mr. Michael Harris: So your government and your party have made a commitment to electrify within 10 years and yet you have no idea how much it’s going to cost.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: What I know is that we have, combined, between the GTHA and the rest of the province, close to $30 billion—$29 billion—available to make these investments to deliver on these results. I have—
Mr. Michael Harris: How much have you dedicated of that $29 billion to electrify?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Well, that’s, with the greatest of respect, asking me the same question over again. I’m not in a position—
Mr. Michael Harris: Because I haven’t got an answer to the first one.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: That’s because I’m not in a position to provide an answer. I’m not keeping it from you; I’m actually legitimately not in a position. Metrolinx hasn’t completed its work on this. They will continue to do their technical analysis on this. We will be in a position, I’m hoping—and I said it this morning and I’ll repeat it this afternoon, I’m an optimistic person—we’ll be in a position relatively soon, over the next few months to put more of those details out into the public. But we’re not there yet.
Mr. Michael Harris: Mr. McCuaig stipulated that Metrolinx does not know what actually will be the priorities for electrification to be completed in the 10-year horizon. What do you see those priorities as being?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: What’s really important to me—and I say this as a person, and I said this earlier, who has a GO line running through his community, serving his constituents, like you do, like others in this Legislature do. These are decisions that need to be made by this government in partnership with Metrolinx, based on the evidence as to where it makes sense, based on sound business case analysis. We’re really now at a point where, yes, we have to implement, but we have to implement in a way that makes sense.
Mr. Michael Harris: So what analysis has been done? Can you table to the committee those business analyses that would provide, perhaps, more clarity?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It’s what I said earlier, Mr. Harris: It’s still a work in progress that Metrolinx is focused on right now, partnering with MTO and the officials in my ministry to produce. I expect over the next few months, once we have landed in a place where it’s clear that we know what the implementation will look like—and what kind of analysis has helped inform those decisions—we’ll be able to release those details publicly.
Mr. Michael Harris: Have you set a clear timeline to Metrolinx that you expect electrification to be done within 10 years?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: You’re asking me if I’ve—sorry, if I’ve set a clear—
Mr. Michael Harris: Have you instructed Metrolinx, or asked them, to fulfill a mandate that your Liberal Party had made to voters prior to the election to electrify the system within 10 years?
Mr. Michael Harris: Metrolinx is very, very well aware of what our commitment is to the people of Ontario and what’s in my mandate letter, and they are working very hard with the Ministry of Transportation to deliver positively and successfully on that commitment.
Mr. Michael Harris: There’s just a lot going back and forth, and it’s perhaps a lofty goal to electrify at this rate. That really hinges on this 15-minute train service on all GO lines that was outlined in your infrastructure platform.
We hope that it wasn’t simply just another election promise that won’t come to fruition. But does the inability to electrify the system reinforce the fact that you will not be able to commit to introducing 15-minute train service on all GO transit lines within 10 years?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: It was hard for me to hear the first part of your question. I apologize. If you could just repeat the first part again. Sorry.
Mr. Michael Harris: You’ve not been able to clarify or give me a clear answer on the fact that you’ll be able to commit to 10 years on electrification on all lines. There was another election promise that you’re going to introduce 15-minute train service on all GO lines within 10 years. Can you commit to doing that?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: The work that we are undertaking right now, which I thought I said a second ago, so I’m apologizing if I didn’t say it clearly—the work that the Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx are very focused on right now, which will include, at some point over the next—I’ll call it short term—few months will result in us coming forward publicly with information around what the implementation will look like. We’ll specifically tie it back to the commitment that we made, both in our election platform as a party and in our government’s budget, which is that regional express rail, that transformation we’ve talked about: two-way, all-day GO service at up to 15-minute intervals on the existing GO network. That’s the commitment that’s in my mandate letter. It’s something that we are working on.
I might, just really quickly—in my answer back to the member from Trinity–Spadina, you can already see—
Mr. Michael Harris: You can answer him when it comes back around.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: No, but it’s important because you’re—I understand how important it is to make sure that we achieve our goals, and we are working hard on that. But we already see, for example, on the Lakeshore lines east and west, that we have trains currently running at 30-minute intervals, and that wasn’t a decision or an implementation I was responsible for, but we have already seen that kind of tremendous, positive progress on our busiest line. To me, that stands as a very clear indicator of the fact that we have the capacity to get this right, and we will.
Mr. Michael Harris: I guess it’s easy for the Liberal Party and the government to come out during an election and say, “We’re going to electrify within 10 years, and we’re also going to provide a 15-minute train service on all GO lines.” Now to tell me, “We’re not sure if we can actually make that”—to make that commitment or the promise, you’d think you’d have the information to back that up: the business plan, the timelines etc. Wouldn’t that have been at your disposal then, and why isn’t it available to the committee now?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I think that’s the second or third time that you’ve—
Mr. Michael Harris: All right, then I’ll move on, because I think I’ve made my point.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: —perhaps, respectfully, tried to put words in my mouth, but I—
Mr. Michael Harris: I want to get to the electrification of Union Station. Does it actually have to occur first before individual rail corridors can actually start seeing faster service?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: There is a tremendous amount of work that will, over the next decade, have to take place, in terms of upgrading and modernizing—let’s call it—Union Station. But again, as I said a second ago, the Lakeshore West and East line currently has trains running seven days a week, at 30-minute intervals—
Mr. Michael Harris: Right, but does Union Station have to be electrified first before any of this can happen? Is that where you’re going to start with electrification?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Again, I’m not in a position today, because the work hasn’t been completed, to tell the committee that I know exactly what the phase-in will look like, but—
Mr. Michael Harris: Has the process started for electrification of Union Station?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Has the process started for the—
Ms. Carol Layton: To map it out.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: As the deputy said a second ago, the mapping out of that is something that involves work that has been undertaken. Metrolinx is aware—
Mr. Michael Harris: How long will the electrification of Union Station take?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Again, I’m not in a position to answer that question because Metrolinx hasn’t completed that work. That is part and parcel of the discussion and part and parcel of the work they are doing right now, working with the Ministry of Transportation.
Mr. Michael Harris: Bruce McCuaig noted that the construction alone on the project could take three or four years.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Sorry, is this Union Station?
Mr. Michael Harris: Yes, to electrify it. Then he stated that he was unclear how soon that might start. But you’re saying it hasn’t started.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: No, I’m sorry. Again, maybe I’m not being clear enough. I said that Metrolinx has already undertaken the work to begin the planning for this. The work itself? Are you asking me if there are actually workers on the site working on electrifying Union Station today?
Mr. Michael Harris: Sure, yes.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I believe the answer is no, because this is part—
Mr. Michael Harris: When do you expect that to start?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I expect that I’ll be in a position over the next few months, as I come back to talk publicly about what the entire implementation plan will look like, to include that in that information. But again, when you’re dealing with a 10-year horizon and you’re dealing with a significant—we’re talking about an enormous infrastructure project across the entire GO network and a significant transformation. I think everyone on this committee and elsewhere would agree that we want to get it right, we want to make sure that the evidence is there, and we want to make sure that the business case and the technical analysis are done by the experts so that we can jointly come back and say, “This is what the phasing will look like. Be it at Union Station or the seven corridors themselves, this is how it will roll out. This is the timing we anticipate. These are the challenges that are still there.”
By the way, in many of these communities—I said this this morning—there will continue to be, as we build out this infrastructure and increase the service, disruptions.
Mr. Michael Harris: We’re not doubting that fact, but I guess what I was asking was, because electrification, especially of Union Station—the construction phase alone could take up to four years. You’re talking about 10 years across the system providing 15 minutes. You’d think you’d have a bit of a timeline as to when you’ll actually start the construction. Do you have any idea when you’ll actually start the construction? If you look back, if you take 10 minus four, you’ve got six.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I understand, sure.
Mr. Michael Harris: My colleague from the NDP said there will be very little built within 10 years. We have to get moving on this.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m not sure—
Mr. Michael Harris: If you don’t know and Metrolinx doesn’t know, then—
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I’m not sure when Mr. McCuaig might have made that comment. I don’t know if you have a date for that. But I’m guessing that if it took place at any point in the last couple of months—although he’s doing a phenomenal job running Metrolinx, I think that’s at a point in time—I’m guessing because I don’t have the date in front of me—that that would have obviously been prior to Metrolinx completing its technical work. I don’t know the context in which he made that comment. I respect Mr. McCuaig’s opinion a great deal, but until we get to a place where the work has been completed—the work that’s being done in partnership by the experts at the Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx—I think it would be unwise for me to speculate on exactly what the implementation timing will look like. But that’s not to suggest that the work that lies ahead for all of us is not considerable or is not enormous. It’s also not to suggest that there won’t be challenges.
I don’t want anyone to come back to me later and say, “Hey, Del Duca, you made it sound like it was going to be easy to get all this done.” It won’t be. It won’t be at all.
Mr. Michael Harris: But you’ve told voters in a campaign commitment that you would do it in 10 years. So I’m asking you if you can provide the committee—perhaps within reports, studies or memos that the Liberal government used actually to defend the idea that they could electrify all GO Transit lines within 10 years. There had to have been some information that you were provided that would give you confidence in saying, “We can do this in 10 years.”
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Mr. Harris, you have about two minutes to wrap up.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: What I can comment on, as the Minister of Transportation who was sworn in to this responsibility on June 24, is exactly where I found myself with respect to being on that day and every day since. In that regard what I can tell you is that the commitment that we made to the people of Ontario by way of introducing and passing the budget over the course of the summer was that we would, over the next decade, transform the GO service so that it is a regional express rail, which includes having trains running two ways all day at up to 15-minute intervals.
That’s what I’m focused on. That’s what the team at Metrolinx and MTO are also focused on. I have every expectation that, over the next few months, we’ll be able to come back, whether it’s in a setting like a committee room or in the Legislature or perhaps at some other public event—it could be a Metrolinx board meeting; I don’t know at this point in time. When we have it right, when we have that evidence-based analysis and the technical analysis done to support the decision-making in a way that makes sense for the entire network, I’ll be happy to share that information.
Mr. Michael Harris: We look forward to seeing that. I just think today we’ve talked about high-speed—
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thirty seconds, Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: —high-speed rail from Windsor to Toronto without perhaps a business case. Telling voters you’re going to provide this within 10 years and now a 15-minute train service with electrification, again within 10 years, with very little information: It’s just hard for us to tell voters that it’s going to happen when you don’t even really know yourself. I’ll leave it there. I’m sure we’ll have more time tomorrow.
The Chair (Ms. Cindy Forster): Thank you. We are adjourned until tomorrow after routine proceedings. The official opposition has six minutes left in their rotation.
The committee adjourned at 1800.
Tuesday 21 October 2014
Ministry of Transportation E-155
Hon. Steven Del Duca
Ms. Carol Layton
Ms. Linda McAusland
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
Chair / Présidente
Ms. Cindy Forster (Welland ND)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente
Miss Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain ND)
Mr. Bas Balkissoon (Scarborough–Rouge River L)
Mr. Chris Ballard (Newmarket–Aurora L)
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry–Prescott–Russell L)
Mr. Han Dong (Trinity–Spadina L)
Ms. Cindy Forster (Welland ND)
Mr. Michael Harris (Kitchener–Conestoga PC)
Mr. Randy Hillier (Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington PC)
Ms. Sophie Kiwala (Kingston and the Islands / Kingston et les Îles L)
Miss Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain ND)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Bob Delaney (Mississauga–Streetsville L)
Ms. Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale–High Park ND)
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry (Cambridge L)
Clerk / Greffier
Mr. Katch Koch
Staff / Personnel
Mr. Jerry Richmond, research officer,