The House met at 1330.
LANDLORDS’ RESTRICTIONS ON PETS
Ms Bryden: The Attorney General’s deathbed repentance of yesterday, when he announced long-overdue amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Act relating to evictions of responsible pet owners, does little for the peace of mind of the thousands of apartment dwellers who have been harassed by landlords because they signed a no-pets clause in their leases or were unsuccessful in countering landlords’ claims that their pets were a nuisance.
The Attorney General is still insensitive to the need of seniors, disabled persons and other apartment dwellers for the companionship of a pet. Studies indicate that pet ownership greatly contributes to the health and wellbeing of their lives.
The Attorney General brings in legislation at the 11th hour which may not be passed by the Legislature before the appeals of three senior apartment dwellers against eviction notices based on pet ownership will be heard in July. If the appeals fail because the amendments are not in place, the pet owners will have to get rid of their pets or move.
The Attorney General should recognize that most apartment dwellers do not have the means to pursue these questions in court. What is needed is a simple statement that tenants have a right to own pets, like the other half of the population. Other provisions in the Landlord and Tenant Act can deal with problems caused by irresponsible tenants.
BURLINGTON SOUND OF MUSIC FESTIVAL
Mr Jackson: It is with great pleasure that I rise to inform all members about Burlington’s 1990 Sound of Music Festival, which begins tomorrow, 20 June, and will run until Sunday 24 June.
This year’s festival highlight will be the Itabashi Friendship Fireworks display on Saturday night at 10:30. In January of this year the Japanese city of Itabashi was twinned with Burlington during a ceremony in which the Burlington Teen Tour Band was privileged to take part.
Notwithstanding the great physical distance between our two cities, our mutual relationship of deepened understanding and appreciation of one another has, ever since, greatly grown and developed. As a token of that appreciation the citizens of Itabashi, Japan, presented Burlington with a most generous gift of world-famous Japanese fireworks worth $250,000. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the mayor and the great people of Itabashi for their kindness and generosity.
Among many other events there will be the Grand Festival Parade, which will march through downtown Burlington on Saturday morning. Special guests participating in the parade include the Canadian Forces Vimy Band from Kingston, the Regimental Band of the Governor General’s Horse Guards and the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas’ Post 264.
This year’s Grand Marshal is well-known radio personality Paul Hanover, who will be on hand with Gloria Burgess, our Miss Teen Burlington, and Burlington’s Teen Tour Band. Finally, the Ukrainian Tyrsa Dancers will engage everyone with their colourful dancing during the Evening in Kiev performances on Friday and Saturday at St Mary’s Hall.
I invite all members of the House to attend.
Mr Tatham: Two views from America on Japan:
James Fallows: “Japanese society manages to outdo American society in some of the things America cares about. So it is the first serious intellectual challenge to the American model of organizing human energy. They have a system for organizing democracy and capitalism that is so different and yet works, it makes you re-evaluate your own system.”
Steven Schlosstein: “Today it is human resources, not natural resources, that dictate a nation’s competitive advantage in the information or knowledge-intensive age we are entering. It is no secret that Japan and, close behind them, the little dragons of Korea, Taiwan and Singapore have the best educated and most keenly trained human resources in the world.”
If we cannot give our children the emotional stability and self-confidence they need, they cannot compete successfully in school and achieve their academic potential. If they cannot compete successfully in school, they will be unable to compete for the more technical, better-paying, higher-productivity jobs that are on the front lines of the trade and investment wars between Japan and the United States. That is food for thought.
Mr Laughren: The motto of the Workers’ Compensation Board is “Justice Speedily and Humanely Rendered.”
Ervin Cadeau had surgery on his right elbow on 20 April 1989; he returned to work on 17 May, which means he lost approximately four weeks’ work. My office got involved in the case in October 1989. At that time the claim had been investigated and the file was sent to the regional medical adviser for a medical opinion. The file was then sent to head office for a further medical opinion. He was told it should take two and a half weeks.
A more detailed job description was required by orthopaedic consultants. Then further medical information was required. In January the file was referred back to the orthopaedic consultant at head office. In March the file was sent back to the orthopaedic consultant at head office again. At the end of April 1990 the file was still with the orthopaedic consultant in Toronto. Finally, in May of this year, the file was sent back to the Sudbury regional office. We thought, “Eureka, decision time.” We were wrong again. The file was then returned to the medical adviser in Toronto to review medical information from a prior claim.
It is now over a year since this person’s injury and still no decision has been made on his compensation claim. What ever happened to the motto of the compensation board, namely, that justice would be speedily and humanely rendered? It is long overdue that we had a universal sickness and accident system in this province.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mr Brandt: It cannot be disputed that one measure of government is how it treats its children. I would also argue that this is the most important measure of government.
This Liberal government has been made aware time and time again in this Legislature that over 10,000 children are waiting for mental health treatment in Ontario. In response to this crisis the Minister of Community and Social Services has claimed that he is waiting for the report expected in June by the special Advisory Committee on Children’s Services, chaired by Colin Maloney, the committee that has spent a total of some two hours with the children’s mental health professionals.
This report has still not been released and at least 10,000 children remain on waiting lists for children’s mental health services. On 7 June the Minister of Education did not know if the Maloney committee had even met with his ministry.
This is a problem that has to be addressed by this government immediately. Children’s mental health services must be made accessible. It is inexcusable that this government has known for over eight months that 10,000 children are waiting for and being denied those needed services.
Mrs Fawcett: It was my pleasure recently to visit Loyalist College in Belleville and learn of the many and varied programs that are being provided to students attending that college. One such program that deserves particular praise and attention is Loyalist’s Centre for Enterprise Development.
The centre provides training programs, seminars and workshops for clients in both the private and public sectors. In the past year, under a program known as Training Innovations, over 140 programs were delivered to 90 clients.
Useful programs, which range from the skills area such as saw-sharpening to the very sophisticated technological programs in the computer area, are in constant demand and that demand continues to grow. There are also numerous programs being made available to the handicapped and in particular the hearing impaired to accommodate and assist their entry into the workforce.
As its mandate indicates, the centre ensures that the workforce in the four-county area served by the college is being educated and trained to meet the challenges of the 1990s and beyond.
I applaud Loyalist College’s innovative approach in conjunction with the opportunities provided from the Ministry of Skills Development and the private and public sector to help train or retrain workers to meet the needs of today’s rapidly changing technologies, as well as providing the basic skills much needed for ordinary day-to-day living.
Mr Allen: I have the next episode from the Mount Hope tire dump in the saga known as As the Tire Burns. Just recently, despite the presence of Joey, the guard dog, there was discovered a couple of young men a few feet from the tires, barbecuing with boards that came from a burned-out house just a few feet in turn from the Mount Hope dump.
Recently, at sunset, there was a delivery of new tires to this unlicensed salvage depot, which is not licensed to receive tires.
Most interesting of all -- members will be interested in this -- it was months ago that the Minister of the Environment said we could take no action with regard to this fire dump because we had to make amendments to the fire code. The amendments to the fire code have not yet been tabled and apparently they are not coming.
Despite that, the fire marshal has now tabled a number of orders which will require that there be safety plans, that there be no burning on site, that there be fire extinguishers, that by certain dates there has to be the provision of adequate water to douse any fires that develop and that there must be a layout of the dump in such a fashion as to limit the number of tires in a stack, in laneways and all the rest of it.
This opens up a number of interesting questions about the future. Will Mr Musitano walk away from the dump and leave everything as it is? Will he ship these tires to a Third World country? Will the minister in fact back up these orders, having failed to do so in the past? And so the tire saga unfolds.
Mr Eves: In 1976 the first group of Ontario legislative interns arrived here at Queen’s Park. Now in its 14th year, the internship program was designed to provide university graduates with experience in the day-to-day operations of the Legislature and to provide members with assistance in their duties as members of the assembly.
Each September some eight or nine interns arrive at the Legislature for a unique learning experience. During the 10 months they spend here, interns function as additional staff, doing research, writing statements, questions, speeches, press releases and news columns. They prepare newsletters. They attend committee meetings. They respond to constituency requests and visit ridings. Interns work five months each for both a member of the government and a member of the opposition.
As a result of the good reputation that the internship program has earned over the years, MPPs remain eager to have interns assigned to them. Members such as myself this term who have had interns are very positive about the work they perform, and regardless of partisan affiliation, I think it is safe to say that members work hard to ensure that their experience is mutually beneficial to both the intern and the member.
This year’s interns include Shaun Cody, Janice Duggan, Marianne Goodwin, Chris Happle, Deirdre Hilary, Chris Jones, Jackie Lines, Suzanne Schwenger and Catherine Steele.
Upon completion of the internship program, interns will go on to their work in both the public and private sector, increasing their knowledge of the political process through firsthand experience. I think we should all congratulate them and ensure the program continues.
Mr Campbell: I rise today to pay tribute to the late Fred Sheridan, one of Sudbury’s extraordinary citizens.
Fred Sheridan devoted over 50 years of his life to the education of young people in Sudbury, northern Ontario and Canada. He served for 40 years on the Sudbury high school board and the Sudbury Board of Education.
Fred’s commitment to post-secondary education is well known, through his 14 years on the board of Laurentian University and as a founding governor of Cambrian College. He was also a founding member of the Northern Ontario School Trustees’ Association. He also served as president of the Canadian School Trustees’ Association.
Mr Sheridan’s outstanding contributions were recognized with the awarding of a provincial citation for excellence in education and the renaming of the Sudbury Mining and Technical School in his honour.
All of us who knew and worked with Fred Sheridan admired and respected his dedication, compassion and sense of humour. None of us will ever forget the parting shot at the end of every conversation, when Fred would say, “Keep your powder dry.” Fred Sheridan will be truly missed in the Sudbury community.
MEMBER FOR HURON
Hon R. F. Nixon: Mr Speaker, before we begin the next order of business, I ask for unanimous consent so that the members of the House may make some comments on the announcement from our friend the member for Huron on his retirement.
Hon R. F. Nixon: We heard with a great deal of interest the statement made by Jack Riddell, the member for Huron, that he would not be contesting the next election.
I am not sure as to his timing of this because many people think there will probably be another two years while we are still continuing business, but he thought it was appropriate. I felt it was also appropriate that we express our regret at his announcement and also recall some of the great days since he was first elected in 1973.
Before that, I should perhaps refer to the fact that he is a graduate of the Ontario Agricultural College, has been active in farm circles all his life and is still an active farmer, which gives an individual a certain degree of independence when it comes to politics. You can always say, “To heck with it,” or words to that effect, “I’m going back to the farm.”
Jack, of course, was elected under interesting circumstances as far as I was concerned in 1973. My own leadership was faltering a bit, if members can imagine it. I was Leader of the Opposition, and Jack came forward as a candidate in a constituency which had been held by the Progressive Conservative Party rather solidly and for many years, as a matter of fact at that time by the late Charles MacNaughton, a good friend of many people here, who had even been Treasurer. Members know how invincible that makes a member of the Legislature.
That Jack would come out of his teaching career and his farming career to accept a nomination for the Liberal Party showed remarkably good judgement, I felt at the time, and even now it has been borne out by his great success. Believe it or not, I was even contemplating leaving the leadership of the party myself at that time. I was not getting anywhere very quickly, although that is not usually a good reason to leave the leadership; at least I guess it is not. Jack’s coming, along with Margaret Campbell, the member for Sudbury’s sainted mother, put new fire in my belly, if that is not too big a conflagration to contemplate.
In any event, I contested the leadership convention to succeed myself and was successful, although there was another, let us say, fairly strongly held opinion at that time. But Jack and I have always been, of course, close friends and my own political career was directly affected by his decision to enter provincial politics.
I think we had a good time in opposition and many, many good times in government. His impact on the Legislature, of course, has been extremely important. He was an outstanding Minister of Agriculture and Food, bringing forward innovations which were remarkably well received by the farmers and effective in their impact.
Just on a personal note, the honourable members know from their own experience that when he joins in the debate the need for amplification in this room becomes redundant. We may have the opportunity to find out in a few minutes just how effective he is on these occasions.
I want to say to Jack and Anita and their family how much we have appreciated his friendship, which of course will continue, and to congratulate him on his years of effective representation of the people of Huron and in Bruce, at least in part at one time, and wish him well in all of his endeavours in the future.
Mr Laughren: I want to say a few words too about the departure of Jack Riddell, another relative newcomer leaving the chamber. I must say that I recall too when Jack Riddell first got elected. In my first recollection, we were sitting down there and the Liberals were sitting up here. I do recall that, and I remember the thing that struck me first was, as the Treasurer said, his booming voice from this corner of the chamber.
I remember hearing as well that he had been a teacher, a farmer, an auctioneer and now a parliamentarian. The mind boggles at what he could be going on to next. We can only let our minds wonder on that. I enjoyed the Treasurer’s meanderings through history, as he recalled the career of the member for Huron, and I would be less than honest if I did not say that I and the member for Huron have probably disagreed more on issues over the years than we have agreed on them. I sat with the member for Huron when he was in opposition, when he was in government and when he was in cabinet. I chaired a committee when the member for Huron appeared before that committee as Minister of Agriculture and Food, and now, of course, again as he does his thing for government on committees as well.
The one thing that always struck me was that I could never imagine the member for Huron believing in something and voting the other way; or vice versa, not believing in it and voting for it. I will not say that is why the member for Huron is leaving government at this point, but one cannot help but wonder about these things.
I am sure I speak for his constituents and for all members in the chamber when I say that we do recognize the contribution that he has made to public life in Ontario. In particular, aside from the committee work with the member, I have enjoyed listening to him provide a very public and community-minded function when he acted as the auctioneer for the United Way auctions we have from time to time here in the Legislature. I think all of us enjoyed that very much.
Jack, we wish you extremely well as you move on to new challenges and a new career.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I am honoured to have been chosen by my caucus to pay tribute to the honourable member for Huron. I guess I am the closest Conservative you have, Jack; possibly the only one in southwestern rural Ontario. I do have one question, though.
Before I pay too many complimentary remarks, I would ask if you really are not intending to come back again. The member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, our Agriculture and Food critic, said, “Make sure before you give him too many pluses.” I do wonder, Mr Speaker, because as you were announcing prayers, Jack was sitting in the Premier’s chair.
Jack, if indeed you are not running again, on behalf of our caucus and on a personal note I would like to pay tribute to a very fine colleague, a friend of many years and certainly an extremely capable and deserving Minister of Agriculture of Food for a period of time; in fact, we on this side thought for a little too long. You are well respected in rural Ontario, even in Wellington, and I congratulate you for your efforts on behalf of all the farmers of this province.
Jack walked where many men have feared to walk and spent countless hours cleaning it off his shoes. I served for many years with Jack on the standing committee on resources development and I remember that on many occasions the rural members, regardless of party, seemed to vote against the urban members on many issues. We truly represented our constituents. I think we should do that in the House.
I remember in 1981, I think it was in January, that Dr Harry Parrott asked the resources committee to travel to Europe to look at the problems related to the industrial liquid waste disposal issue that was a very important issue at that day. We travelled to England; Munich, Germany; and Denmark. I believe when we returned that Jack said that the process in, I think, Ebenhausen, was extremely competent and he would not mind one in his riding. So I have passed that information on to Dr Chant.
In Copenhagen one night, and it was an extremely stormy night, Jim Taylor and you and I were walking along the streets of Copenhagen trying to stay out of trouble. I think at that time you announced that when you returned you intended to become Minister of Agriculture and Food in the very near future. Jack, you have achieved that goal.
Again, on behalf of my caucus and on a personal note, I would like to extend all the best to you in the future.
Mr Riddell: First let me say that I have come completely unprepared for a response because, being the humble person I am, I tried to avoid this tribute in the Legislature by making my intentions known from my home in the great riding of Huron. I felt that I owed it to the people in Huron to first indicate my intentions to them, because they have been very loyal to me over the 17 years that I have been here in the Legislature.
I must say that I had absolutely no aspirations whatsoever to jump into the political arena prior to 1973, although I will say that after my father served the agricultural community very well for 42 years as an agricultural representative for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, he was soon approached by the federal Liberal Party to run for it, I believe, in the 1967 or 1968 federal election. Prior to that time I had no idea what our politics were, because back at that time if you worked for the government, you did not dare reveal what your politics were. I can honestly say that my father never discussed around the table what our political stripes might be. So I really had no idea what our politics were until my father ran on the federal Liberal ticket in 1967 or 1968. Unfortunately, he took a heart attack and was not able to carry through with that election.
In 1973, I well recall a former member of this Legislature, Murray Gaunt, coming into my home and saying: “Jack, there are two by-elections. There’s one here in Huron due to the retirement of Charlie MacNaughton, and there’s one in a Toronto riding that will be contested by Maggie Campbell.” Murray Gaunt said that if we could win these two by-elections, it would be the inspiration that Bob Nixon needed to carry on with the leadership of the party.
I have to say in all honesty that was probably the main reason I got into politics. I was quite happy with my lot in life. I owned a livestock sales business, I was teaching school, I had my farm and I really had no reason to get into politics. But I am glad I did, because I think over the 17 years, along with all my colleagues and all members of the House, I have been able to make some kind of contribution for the betterment of the lives of our fellow citizens. In that respect, I have thoroughly enjoyed the friendship, the camaraderie, the collegiality of all the people in the Legislature, all those people with whom I have served.
I guess the highlight of my political career would be the four years that I was the Minister of Agriculture and Food, and I certainly appreciate the opportunity to have been able to serve in that capacity for four years. I am proud of the record the government established over that period of time, the fact that we -- and when I talk about “we,” I am talking about the ministry staff, my own personal staff and my colleagues -- were able to introduce over 100 programs for the farmers in that period of time, and we practically doubled the agricultural budget. I think that was quite a feat and I sincerely hope my successor will be able to do the same because, dear knows, the agricultural community in rural Ontario needs some assistance. They are going through a tremendous transition, as most members well know, being that agriculture does not form the same economic base for a lot of these small communities that it once did, and now of course rural Ontario is looking for other ways of being able to keep its people at home and to see that they do have jobs.
With those few remarks, let me thank Bob Nixon, a person under whose leadership I have been extremely proud of serving. I am more than pleased that Bob has decided to take another run at it, because the place just would not be the same, as far as I am concerned, without Bob Nixon.
I do want to thank Floyd Laughren and Jack Johnson for their very kind words.
I do not know when the next election will be called, but I do want to take this opportunity to bid you all farewell, to wish you all the very best and to hope that our paths may cross many times as we continue our efforts for a better province and country.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr Wrye: I am pleased to present to the House the capital construction program for highways in Ontario for the 1990-91 fiscal year.
As my colleague the Minister of Northern Development has already detailed the northern Ontario highway construction projects, I will concentrate my remarks on southern Ontario.
We will invest $587 million in capital construction projects on southern highways in this fiscal year. These expenditures will have a positive effect on Ontario’s economy, generating an estimated 10,000 person-years of employment for the Ontario workforce. They will also contribute an estimated $373 million to the economy in the form of increased personal and business incomes.
The 1990-91 program includes 169 new projects and 70 that are being carried over from previous construction years. All are detailed in this red-covered book, which I am sending to all members.
The expenditure on all of these projects will come from a 1990-91provincial highways construction and maintenance budget of almost $889 million, up about $100 million over last year. Much of this new investment comes from the five-year transportation capital program, which allocated an additional $1.2 billion to provincial highways commencing last year.
Safety is paramount throughout our highway system. We are now programming the construction of 10 to 20 kilometres per year of median safety barriers to prevent crossover accidents on divided highways with narrow medians. At $2 million for every five kilometres, this is a very costly investment but, as I stated, the safety of the people who use our highways is paramount.
Combined with the northern highway capital funds already referred to, we will be expending over $1 billion in provincial highways improvements and maintenance this year. That is a prudent and necessary allocation of fiscal resources. This investment will maintain and build on the highway system which keeps Ontario’s economy strong, its quality of life high and its citizens free to move in comfort and safety.
I therefore take pride in tabling for the House the provincial highway capital construction program for this year.
Hon Mr Scott: Today I will be introducing for first reading the Arbitration Act, 1990. This act will replace the present Arbitrations Act, which dates from the last century.
For many kinds of disputes, and increasingly, arbitration offers advantages over traditional litigation. It can be quicker and less costly than the courts, the parties can design their own procedures and the parties can pick arbitrators with the expertise and background they wish. They can resolve the dispute with less publicity than in a court proceeding.
The purpose of the new statute is to make it easier for people to submit private disputes to resolution by arbitration. It does so in several ways, many of which are modelled on arbitrations under the Labour Relations Act.
First, when people have agreed to go to arbitration, the act will help ensure that all parties abide by the agreement.
Second, the ability of the courts to intervene in an arbitration is spelled out precisely and narrowly, so their role will be entirely constructive.
Third, the parties are given broad freedom to design the procedures that suit them best. However, the act sets out procedures to be followed if the parties do not choose others, and gives the arbitrator power to help carry the arbitration through to its conclusion.
Fourth, the enforcement of the arbitral award is made more certain and less dependent on the discretion of the court. Enforcement of awards from other provinces is enhanced as well.
The Arbitration Act, 1990, reflects many of the provisions of our International Commercial Arbitration Act, which this House passed in 1988. The new act also adheres closely to most of the principles approved in 1989 by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, which will be adopting this summer a uniform arbitration act based very much on the one now before the House.
By passing this act, Ontario will be promoting consistent legislation across the country on the subject, as urged by the Canadian Bar Association and the Arbitrators’ Institute of Canada.
Mr Kormos: First, we welcome the legislation, the new Arbitration Act. Second, we are going to do everything we can to facilitate an appropriate passage, and by that I mean, of course, passage after there has been effective consultation with groups here in the province that might have an interest in helping this Attorney General fine-tune legislation which may well have been prepared in some haste or with some disregard to some of the finer points, points which could be pointed out to him by people who would be inevitable participants in this type of process.
We go from that point to the next point, and that is, why will this government not take some of its own advice? Here we have got some truisms. Arbitration? Well, this is very consistent with what the government has been doing lately, especially the Attorney General, in terms of alternative dispute resolution. Why, this government gave half a million bucks to a program here in the city of Toronto to facilitate and encourage alternative dispute resolution.
We made our position quite clear. Once again, we support investigating and promoting and effecting alternatives to courtroom litigation. We have some real concerns. I talked about those before, as other people have, about the imposition of those alternative dispute resolution mechanisms on, let’s say, family litigation, where they can create some real dangers for the weaker party. As this Attorney General inevitably knows, the weaker party in most family litigation means a wife and, as often as not, children. It may well mean and oftentimes does mean a wife and/or children who are victims.
When I talk about this government taking its own advice, listen to this, Mr Speaker. Down in Niagara north, we have got a whole bunch of grape farmers who have been betrayed by this government more than once. First, we had the Premier promising that he was going to fight free trade to the bitter end. Well, he threw in the towel long before the end. So we see a whole bunch of grape farmers in Niagara being put out of the farming business because free trade is destroying their future. The complicity of this government in the federal Tories’ conduct vis-à-vis free trade is incredible.
This government said that it was going to participate in a grape acreage reduction program. In the first instance, it appeared to, but in the final analysis, in excess of 20 farmers, including people like Patricia Glochen and her family and 19 or 20 others have been betrayed by this government because this government would not fulfil its commitments in terms of the grape acreage reduction program.
Why does the Attorney General not take his little Minister of Agriculture and Food into the members’ lounge when he is here and read his proposed Arbitration Act to him? The Minister of Agriculture and Food in this Liberal government tells those same victims of this government’s inability to apply effectively the grape acreage reduction program, those same grape growers: “Sue us. Take us to court.” The grape growers are saying, “No, please, let us participate in arbitration. Let us participate in an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.”
The grape growers are prepared to submit themselves to an arbitration process. Even the federal government is prepared to submit itself to an arbitration process to resolve these disputes about who is and who is not going to get relief under the grape acreage reduction program. Do these Liberals agree to submit to an arbitration process? No. Their attitude, their position, their line with these same grape growers, these same farmers in Niagara Peninsula is, “See you in court.”
The option to that is not to participate in arbitration. This Liberal government wants other people to participate in arbitration, but it does not want to participate in arbitration itself. The alternative to that is for the Minister of Agriculture and Food, the Attorney General’s buddy in cabinet, to tell these same grape growers, “Go to the Ombudsman,” knowing full well that the Ombudsman is going to be not just one year, not just two years, not just three years, but perhaps as long as four or five years in the workings. By that time those vineyards are going to be paved over. There is not going to be a grape or a vine to be seen.
We support the legislation. The Attorney General should talk to his Minister of Agriculture and Food and tell him to smarten up, to listen to his government’s own policy, to wise up and to start participating in the very same sort of programs that he is spending big bucks of taxpayers’ money on, specifically, arbitration, when it comes to the grape growers down in Niagara.
Mr Sterling: It is ironic, as we are heading into the last two weeks of this Legislature, that the Attorney General is bringing forward a number of pieces of legislation. In that vein, I commented yesterday with regard to his bringing in an act dealing with the keeping of pets in apartments. I want to apologize to my daughter, Sarah, as evidently I impugned the reputation of our cat back home by calling the AG a pussycat yesterday.
But in another vein, this piece of legislation is a progressive piece of legislation. The Attorney General brought in last week another piece of legislation dealing with class actions. It is only unfortunate that we do not have an opportunity to discuss these pieces of legislation at length, to put them out to committees so that the public can have input into them.
It really is unfortunate that we are only two years and nine months into a Parliament which can run a period of five years, yet this government seems bent to call an election in September, even though there are many important initiatives which we would like to have on the floor of this Legislature discussed at length.
Really what is going to happen on 28 June of this year when this Legislature prorogues is that this legislation is going to die and it is going to be nothing more than a piece of paper.
We seem to see government initiatives by the Attorney General come forward only when we are facing an election. We would like to see legislation like this thoroughly discussed and put in place in law. We are quite willing to deal with this kind of legislation over the summer months and into the fall of next year.
We will be supporting this piece of legislation when ii is called for second reading next fall. We will be looking forward to participating in a very constructive manner on it.
Mr Wiseman: I have a response to the Minister of Transportation’s announcement here this afternoon. I think all of us welcome the 10,000 man-years in jobs that this almost $900 million will create. However, when I look at the booklet at first glance, I see that 3,452 kilometres of road were built by the previous government, and this year under expansion for eastern Ontario -- one always looks at one’s own area first to see what has been done -- we find: highway widening, two kilometres; new highways, one kilometre; new bridges and widening, five; new interchanges, one; intersection improvements, one.
With all the members they have from eastern Ontario sitting on the Liberal side, you would think they would have a little more impact on the money that goes into eastern Ontario. The people from eastern Ontario depend on the Tory party and us members to highlight their concerns here and let the people know that we are sure not getting our fair share of the dollars that this government is dishing out.
Mr Cousens: The minister uses the word “paramount” twice in his brief, saying that safety is paramount. If it really were paramount, he would be spending an awful lot more in protecting people with the safety barriers than he is now. He is going to have $8 million --
Mr Laughren: Spend, spend, spend.
Mr Cousens: Spend, spend. If you are going to say the words the way they do, you would start putting some money into safety. It just gets us sick after a while because they are not putting anything into the roads.
We are talking about safety on our highways and the minister comes out here and says, “I’m putting safety up front.” The fact of the matter is that these safety medians are essential on our highways. We are having accidents every weekend with vehicles crossing the medians and we are seeing lives destroyed.
If the minister is going to say these words and really mean them, he is going to spend more than just $8 million on those medians. It is less than 0.01% of the government’s total budget. That is what we are talking about. If the minister means it, he should do it. He should not just come along in this House with the rich, happy words that do not mean a cotton-picking thing.
The Speaker: Order. That completes ministerial statements and responses. Even though there were only three responses, I want to thank many, many members for participating.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions. Over the last month, the leader of our party, the member for York South, and I have come in here and, time after time, we have asked the minister where his reforms to pension legislation in Ontario are and when he is going to do something about pension indexing in particular.
Now we find out last Friday that the minister made an announcement at a business luncheon at the Hilton hotel that he is going to go ahead with two amendments to the Pension Benefits Act and that he intends to give the go-ahead to contribution holidays and to ease solvency requirements for pension funds. Both of these changes give employers greater access to pension funds and jeopardize workers’ rights to secure and adequate pension benefits.
When is the minister going to make his announcements about pension benefits and the changes and reforms we need in pension legislation here in the Legislature and do something for the workers of this province?
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman is very liberal in straying from what his questions have been. He has asked me on occasion where our indexing legislation is. I have told him very specifically, as I said in that speech, which he of course did not repeat for the benefit of everybody here, that we are taking our time to review the material that has come in to us from the communities that we have consulted with and we are still considering the best means by which to move forward with indexing legislation. That is what I said about the indexing issue. Those types of replies were made consistently to his questions about indexing and his leader’s question about indexing. That individual knows this is what they are asking.
These other items are dealing with particular issues which have caused problems in the calculation of amounts of money to be paid into plans. They have been seen to have provided difficulties in meeting funding obligations while carrying on the ongoing concerns of a business, particularly with respect to the solvency issue, where there were regulations which required a company to fund the pension plan as though it were going to close down all of its operations at one time on one day. That required a type of --
The Speaker: Order. Supplementary.
Mr Morin-Strom: This minister finds it very easy to go to his corporate friends and hand over millions of dollars that pensioners have put into those funds. At the same time, he will do nothing to assist the pensioners of this province, the retirees of this province, those workers who are looking forward to retirement and know that their incomes on retirement are going to be eaten away because this minister has refused over the last five years to live up to his commitment to provide indexing for pension funds in this province.
The minister knows the contribution holidays are nothing more than a way for corporations to skim off funds that workers have put into their retirement funds. At the same time, the minister does nothing with respect to the problem of plant closures. He leaves workers even more vulnerable today because he is not going to insist that corporations adequately fund those pension funds, and employees are going to be the ones who are going to have to bear the cost when those pension funds are not in place.
When is this minister going to come forward with some real, progressive pension reforms as were committed to by this government five years ago today?
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman does not understand the issue at all. He would understand that you cannot have anyone taking a contribution holiday if a pension plan is not funded properly. A contribution holiday can occur only if in fact you are more than fully funded on a pension plan. The honourable member knows that, and he is trying to confuse the rest of the people by availing himself of wording which is leading to confusing the people of the province.
First of all, the changes which have been made by regulation are the types of things which allow people to focus on funding events which are realistically to happen. They are still required to have a solvent pension plan, but they are not required to fund their pension plan -- every plan which they have a share in, that is, if they have a plant in several locations -- as though they were going to close down their entire operation. For companies that have multiplant operations, it becomes a very remote possibility which requires the funding at a level which is unrealistic and prevents them from being flexible in the way they apply their capital.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Morin-Strom: The minister is willing to go to the Hilton hotel and tell the corporate sector that he is going to give it millions and millions of dollars of pension funds that have been put in there by the employees of this province. This government made a commitment five years ago to pension reform based on the recommendations of the Ontario select committee on pensions. Those recommendations have never been put in place by this government.
Just over a year ago, in March 1989, the minister made another commitment that over the coming 60 days the government would be consulting interested parties throughout the province on proposed pension reforms. We are more than a year past that consultation period and those pension reforms have not come forward. The only two changes this minister has come forward with are ones that put more dollars into the pockets of the corporate sector and take them out of the pockets of workers of this province.
When is this minister going to come clean with the workers of this province, come into the Legislature and say what he is going to do about pension reform, rather than hiding at the Hilton hotel, making his announcements on pension reform?
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Elston: I was hiding at the Hilton hotel with Bob Nickerson and other members of the Canadian Auto Workers, people who are actuaries on behalf of the beneficiaries of many plans, and other people. Yes, there were people there from the business community, but let me be very clear that there was a broad representation of people with interests, people who advise trustees of pension plans, people who represent members in the pension plans, a whole group of people.
The announcements were designed to ensure that pension plans were funded adequately. In fact, part of the speech which the honourable gentleman refuses to acknowledge here indicates that where there is difficulty seen in funding levels with respect to pension plans, it will no longer be necessary for a three-year filing of information, but an annual filing of information about the stability of the pension plan will be required so that we can ensure that each individual beneficiary of the plan will know the status of his or her stake in the pension plan.
Hon Mr Elston: The people over there in the New Democratic Party, by their continual heckling and jeering and whatever, are trying to cover up the fact that they do not understand that this is a reasonable step forward to ensure that the long-term stability of the solvency of benefits --
The Speaker: Order. We will just let the clock tick away, if that is what you want.
The Speaker: Order. I think that is enough.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question for the government as well to do with protection of workers and the fact that the government has made commitments over the years and has not fulfilled them. I will direct this question to the Treasurer.
When I went to my home community last week, I went back to an announcement of another plant closure, Toledo Scale, and another major layoff at the General Motors trim plant of 255 jobs. That announcement means that in the last 11 months there have been 19 plant closures in the city of Windsor, affecting over 3,000 jobs. That would be equivalent to over 30,000 jobs in Metropolitan Toronto.
Many of those lost jobs and plant closures can be related to the free trade agreement which the government got a mandate to stop in 1987. We have free trade, thanks to this government and Mulroney. What adjustment programs is the Treasurer going to give to communities like Windsor that are going through major adjustments because of the free trade deal?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member might also add to his list of information from his home town the decision made by Ford Motor Co to establish a new engine plant with about $60 million of new investment. I would hasten to say that does not balance the situation, because many communities, including a city near where I live, Brantford, are experiencing something similar to what the honourable member has described.
I can only tell him that, as far as the office of economic policy in the Treasury is concerned, we are still looking forward to real economic growth of something less than 2%. Naturally, this is less than we have experienced over the last six years, when the average has been closer to 5%. I wish that could continue, but unfortunately it will not.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I do not need an explanation from the Treasurer of what he thinks the problems are. The fact of the matter is we have had 19 plant closures. We have a rising unemployment rate, but at the same time, most of the plant closures have given us advance notice. The government has advance notice to avoid an economic disaster in the community of Windsor.
I have specific proposals for a community adjustment program which would include such things as the re-establishment of an industrial labour adjustment program similar to the program that was put in place in the early 1980s, and the Treasurer is very aware of that program.
The Treasurer imposed a free trade agreement on us, and Windsor is experiencing the ramifications of that free trade agreement.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Is the Treasurer prepared or is he not prepared to bring in an adjustment program to avoid the kind of human tragedy that we experienced in the community of Windsor in the early 1980s?
Hon R. F. Nixon: For the honourable member to blame the free trade agreement on this government must mean that his political situation is even more tenuous than I had expected. I do not think there is any rationale or reason for such a charge.
The honourable member will know that unemployment went up last night by about 0.08% but that Ontario still has the lowest unemployment level of Canada and that our economy still continues to grow.
When it comes to adjustment requirements, as well as the federal programs of unemployment insurance, I am sure he is aware, since he has participated in these debates over a number of years, that we have some of the most effective legislation in North America, but we are still relying on economic growth to maintain employment.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I would certainly like to see the Treasurer come down to Windsor and flog that garbage to the people of my community.
I am quoting from a newspaper article dated 11 August 1987: “The Premier, campaigning for the 10 September provincial election, said here in Windsor yesterday that Ontario will reject any agreement that guts the auto pact.”
The Treasurer knows as well as I do that the free trade agreement moved from 60% Canadian content to 50% North American content. That has had dramatic effects on Windsor’s economy, specifically the auto parts sector. Why is it good enough for the Premier to go into Windsor during a provincial election in 1987 and lie to the people of Windsor in order to get their votes and then do nothing to help them out in the economic struggles?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I had forgotten that election date was so long ago, but in that connection, I feel that the honourable member is not serving the cause of Windsor or his own career when he accuses the Premier to the people of Windsor, because that is not so. The honourable member should know from his own experience that comments like that are counterproductive, both for a sensible discussion of important issues and for a person’s own political welfare.
Mr D. S. Cooke: The Premier came to Windsor and lied to the community of Windsor and the Treasurer knows it.
Hon Mr Scott: Oh, get off it.
Mr D. S. Cooke: That is exactly what he did in order to get votes, and four out of five seats is what he got.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Windsor-Riverside accused another member of uttering a deliberate falsehood. Would you withdraw?
Mr D. S. Cooke: No, Mr Speaker, I will not withdraw. When the Premier went to my community in the last election and lied —
The Speaker: Order.
The Speaker: It is just hard to believe. Was that a no?
Mr D. S. Cooke: That is right, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Order, please. I have no choice but to ask Mr Cooke to remove himself from the House for the balance of the sitting day.
Mr D. S. Cooke left the chamber.
The Speaker: We will recess for 10 minutes.
The House recessed at 1437.
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Minister of Health concerning the gap between what this government promises and what it delivers. It has been four long years since this minister’s government promised the people of this province 4,400 additional acute and chronic care hospital beds. In view of the critical shortage of hospital bed space in this province, how can the minister justify, over this four-year period, her government’s failure to deliver on even one tenth of its promise and its commitment to the people of Ontario?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am very pleased to answer the question from the leader of the third party. We made a commitment to meet the needs of the people of this province. We established the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy, which pointed out to us that Ontario has one of the highest rates of institutionalization in the western world and that there were many opportunities to provide services in alternative ways.
They recommended the development of a capital strategy -- we have done that; it has four points, which I will be happy to go over in my supplementary -- as well as a partnership planning approach. Through this new strategy, we are responding on a regional basis to live up to our capital commitments and ensure that we have a strong hospital sector as well as the ability to meet the needs appropriately, whether they are inpatient, outpatient or in the community, for the people of this province.
Mr Harris: The minister promised 4,400 beds, and she has responded with 10 things she did not promise in the way of studies, looking at, reviewing, sitting back and talking about for the last four years. That is not what she promised. She did not promise to look at or to study or to set up a council; she promised 4,400 beds.
This morning the Hospital Council of Metropolitan Toronto told us that at least 2,092 beds are closed in Metro Toronto today. How can the minister sit back and watch medical care being denied to seriously ill people on 2,092 beds when she has already fallen short of her 4,400? Two thousand of the existing beds are now shut down because she has failed to live up to her promise to make sure that we had an adequate supply of nurses to staff those existing beds, inadequate though that number is.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I will say to the leader of the third party that in fact he is so out of touch with health policy and an understanding of the opportunity to focus on services. By shifting from inpatient to outpatient services, we are able to provide alternative services -- more services in alternative ways. We are doing that. Where inpatient services are required, we are doing that. Where outpatient and ambulatory services can provide the same or improved services, we are doing that. We are shifting to community-based and home support services in one of the most progressive health reform agendas in this country.
He simply does not understand that beds are no longer the benchmark but that what is important is to focus on people. We have followed the advice of the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy and the experts who are telling us that we have the opportunity now to focus on services, and that is what we are doing.
Mr Harris: The minister has been busy these last few months and is busy again today making a whole bunch of new promises. I do not know how we can believe the new ones when we are still asking about the promises she has made in the past, both on 4,400 new beds which she promised and on the shortage of nurses. She promised she was going to solve this problem.
I do not know why it is that the minister is the only one in the province who seems unwilling to admit that without enough nurses to go around, the quality of the health care in this province is suffering. Toronto East General Hospital is going to close 28 beds at the beginning of July because of a nursing shortage. If the minister does not answer the 10 other things she is talking about promising, can she keep a straight face and simply answer the question, how can closing the few existing beds we have possibly improve health care at the Toronto East General Hospital?
Hon Mrs Caplan: Each year at this time we know that hospitals around the province close beds for a number of reasons, whether it is maintenance or staff vacation time. These are normal and regular; they have been for years. I would tell the member that if he focuses on the experience of the hospitals of this province, he will find, for example, hospitals that have maintained and enhanced services by shifting to outpatient and ambulatory services as opposed to forcing people to have services on an inpatient basis when they can be provided in a better way on an outpatient basis.
I want to say to him that in fact the situation in Metropolitan Toronto with regard to nurses is unique in the province; the vacancy rates are higher within Metropolitan Toronto. I want him to know that, excluding Metropolitan Toronto, the provincial vacancy rate in nursing is now about 1.7%; it is higher in Metro and it varies from hospital to hospital. By shifting the focus, I want him to know as well, nurses like working in outpatient and ambulatory areas, and many hospitals are finding that is a very good way, because nurses can self-schedule and have a better quality of worklife in those environments.
Mr Harris: I wonder if the Minister of Health is suggesting that heart surgery take place in these outpatient --
The Speaker: Is that your question?
Mr Harris: I have a question about health risks associated with swimming in Ontario waters. For five years this government has been promising to improve water quality in Ontario lakes. After five years of empty promises, the problem is not only still there, the problem is getting worse in beach after beach all across this province. This year, three Metro Toronto beaches have already been declared unfit for swimming because of faecal and bacterial pollution. My question for the minister is, how much longer is this government going to force people to be exposed to serious health risks before honouring its promise to clean up Ontario beaches?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In the absence of my colleague the Minister of the Environment, I want to say to the member opposite that the record of this government in enhancements in the Ministry of the Environment is spectacular. We have the most outstanding policies, programs and enhancements of budget. I am very proud of the job. To say that is sufficient is certainly --
Hon Mrs Caplan: The reason I am pointing this out is that when that party had the opportunity, it cut the budget of the Ministry of the Environment. Problems that have been experienced across this province are not new today, and there are no quick fixes; but we are approaching that in a very systematic way and the Ministry of Health is providing advice to the Ministry of the Environment from the public health aspect. There is much to be done, but the record of this government is clear, and we are moving forward to do what those guys never even started.
Mr Harris: The only thing spectacular in this government is the amount of promises it makes, which keep increasing, and its failures.
The minister talks about the amount of money spent, but the people of Ontario are interested in results. It really does not matter how much money the government spent if the problem is getting worse each and every day. What matters is that the Liberals campaigned in election after election and said: “Elect us and we’ll clean up the beaches. Vote for us and we’ll end the health risk in our lakes.” That is what they said. Today the problem is still there. The problem is getting worse each and every day. The government has not done what it promised and what it said it would do.
My question is simple. I assume the government had a plan or must have known the costs involved when it made these promises at election time. When is the Liberal government going to live up to the promise to clean up the beaches in this province?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The Treasurer has just informed me that the budget for the Ministry of the Environment last year alone went up some 21%. I will say to the member opposite that even the United Nations has acknowledged the leadership of our Ministry of the Environment in an award recently given. While there is much to be done, I would just say there is not a government that has the record of proactive legislation, policy and programs that this government has.
Mr Harris: I am astounded that minister after minister in this administration measures success in terms of how many civil servants they hire or how many dollars they spend. Budget up 21 %; problem worse. We and the people measure success in terms of results and in terms of living up to promises.
The problem I am talking about is not unique to Metropolitan Toronto. Four beaches in North Bay have already been declared unfit for swimming at various times this spring. One beach on Lake Nipissing last year tested at 20 times the safe limit. The problem is spreading, the problem is festering, not because we do not know what to do but because the Liberals will not do it.
Surely this government knew the costs involved or had a plan when it made the promise that it would clean up the beaches. What is it? Is it a one-year plan? Is it a five-year plan? Is it a 10-year plan? How much money is it going to cost? Or do government members just travel the province making promises and have no plan at all? If it does --
The Speaker: Order. That is about four supplementaries.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I cannot stand here today and speak on behalf of the Minister of the Environment except to say that his job would be that much easier if that party had done something -- anything -- when it was in power.
Hon Mr Scott: And that is going to haunt them all through the next six months.
Mr Brandt: You dump on the beaches and you dump on the people of Ontario.
Mr Eves: How many beaches are closed today compared to 1980? Answer that question.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Kormos: My question is to the Deputy Premier. Last week we learned that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology was ashamed of his expensive, foreign-built Mercedes-Benz, as well he should be, being the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. The minister drives a foreign-made car, and an expensive one to boot. So his campaign officials get charged under the provincial election spending law. The Premier does nothing. The Premier seems to be desensitized to the corruption that has permeated the Liberal Party in Ontario. Now we find out that the Liberal Party of Ontario itself, its former chief financial officer and a senior organizer of its 1987 election campaign have similarly been charged with corrupt election funding practices.
The question to the Deputy Premier is, in view of the level of corruption and the stench of corruption that comes and increases on a daily basis from this Liberal government and its caucus, what is this government going to do to investigate and root out the corruption that has clearly permeated it down to its very roots?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the matters the honourable member is referring to now resulted in charges. Some judge or some jury is going to deal with those things. The honourable member knows a good deal more about that than I do, thank God.
I would also say that the system, from my point of view, is working reasonably well. The honourable member recalls the history of the circumstances. The Commission on Election Finances, chaired by his former leader, a person in whom we all have a good deal of confidence, has taken these particular actions. I would not dare to pass a personal judgement on them; they are there to be reported and to be dealt with by the courts in the normal way.
Mr Kormos: These Liberals were overjoyed when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down their Starr inquiry. The same Liberals here refused to reinstate a properly formed inquiry which fitted within the guidelines.
The government prefers to cover up the impact and the involvement of Patti Starr with so many of its cabinet ministers past and present. It refuses to investigate the extent of the corrupt association between itself and Starr and others who are similarly involved.
Why will this government not investigate itself with a view to seeing how completely and thoroughly corrupted it has become, or has it merely become desensitized to corruption and is prepared to live with it?
Hon R. F. Nixon: Mr Speaker, perhaps I should ask you in advance if “claptrap” is an appropriate word to use in describing the honourable member’s effusions. Until you let me know, I am going to use the word, because surely he is not adding anything to the reasonable and rational discussion of the matters we are referring to. If he feels somehow that he knows what pleases us and what does not please us, I would say that his sensitivity has become corroded by long hours of listening to his own voice.
The honourable member will be aware that the Attorney General himself assisted and established the terms of reference in the royal commission; these were objected to but they were supported by the Supreme Court of Ontario. We are very proud of these efforts. Whether we were pleased or not when the Supreme Court of Canada passed judgement on these matters is irrelevant. We obey the law, and I suggest the honourable member show a higher degree of respect for the same view.
Mr Kormos: I didn’t take the money; you guys did.
An hon member: Make sure you file a tax return.
Mr Pouliot: The minister said to make sure you file a tax return.
Mr Kormos: How does he know I haven’t?
The Speaker: Order. It is just hard to believe.
Mr Cousens: My question is to the Minister of Transportation and it does concern highway safety, something that the minister mentioned twice in his news release today as being paramount.
Last Friday, after studying the whole problem of accidents for some 28 months, a jury came out with a review. They had been looking at a series of some 40 accidents that took place between Gananoque and Trenton; we are talking about some 64 people who were killed and 50 others who were injured on that very dangerous stretch of highway. The jury put forward a number of key recommendations including compulsory re-examination of drivers who acquire nine or more demerit points. I would like to ask the minister what he is prepared to do about that recommendation and the other 16 recommendations that were made by this jury.
Hon Mr Wrye: I am aware of the recommendations of the coroner’s jury on the latest fatality in that area and, like the honourable member, we are all troubled by the number of fatalities we have had. I guess one of the troubling things about this is what came out, as the honourable member will know, at the coroner’s inquest, that at least half of the fatalities occurred in good road and weather conditions and were single-fatality incidents attributable to driver error. That is a very troubling number because it causes us to try to begin to look at other factors.
I want to say I am very pleased that the coroner’s jury, in making a very large series of recommendations, 16 in total, has given us a lot of options to look at. I can say to the honourable member, we are going to be examining the recommendations of the coroner’s jury very carefully as soon as we get the full jury report.
Mr Sterling: There were 17 recommendations, and certainly the one I just mentioned is an important one. I guess the studying could go on and on. They have done some research for the ministry which hopefully the minister can take very seriously. They also identified the need for wider paved shoulders along Highway 401 and barriers to prevent head-on crashes in areas where the median is narrow. These two recommendations are very important.
Given the fact that the government is committed to increasing the size of trucks on the highway, I just have a sense that we really have to give this a much higher priority. The minister made some reaction to the London-Woodstock corridor, but there are just so many other areas that are dangerous when you look at the median problem.
In his press release today, the minister has said they are going to program 10 to 20 of these median safety barriers per year. That is very much a small number. Is that what the minister asked for? Is that what he got after he went for an awful lot more? How serious was he in fighting for more than just a few kilometres of barriers?
Hon Mr Wrye: I regret -- and the honourable member will know -- that the amount of money that is available in the budget is never unlimited. I do believe, though, that proposing to put in median barriers for up to 20 kilometres a year is a very substantial amount of mileage. I note that is a recommendation of the coroner’s jury and that indeed it is already being acted on. As my good friend the Minister of Mines, the member for Quinte, reminds me, some work is planned or under way already between Belleville and Trenton.
I notice that the coroner’s jury has also spoken about graduated drivers’ licences, and the honourable member will know that we are doing some work in that regard.
As I said, I have the list of recommendations in front of me, including the mandatory retesting for nine points or more, and I think the coroner’s jury has made an admirable effort at giving us a number of issues that we can take a very close look at.
RETAIL SALES TAX
Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of Revenue. I ask this question on behalf of vendors at farmers’ markets around the province such as the one in Peterborough. As members know, these vendors work in a relatively unsophisticated environment. They do not have access to cash registers and things of that sort. Most of their items are non-taxable, but some items such as plants are and often they have to make the calculation of the tax in a very hurried environment with crowds of people around them.
My question to the minister on behalf of these people is, is there a practical means that farmers and other vendors can use to collect retail sales tax on taxable items such as plants? Can they, for instance, build the tax into the pricing of such items?
Hon Mr Mancini: The member asks a very important question for people who conduct their business in this type of farmers’ market. The member should know that the vendors in a farmers’ market can post a price list in a prominent place in or around their stalls that would show the selling price of the product before the tax, the tax and the selling price with the tax. Therefore, the total tax would be displayed and the total price would be displayed.
By posting this price list, the vendors would avoid doing the calculation, as the honourable member has suggested, in a very hurried way in an environment that may not be the most expeditious way of figuring out what the sales tax would be. In fact, this would enable the vendors to keep a good record of their sales and their sales of products which are taxable.
Mr Adams: One of the concerns my constituents have is the matter of unfair competition from those who simply get around this problem by not charging the tax. Can we ensure that unfair competition does not result from those who would undercut their competitors by simply not charging the sales tax? What sort of enforcement measures are there in place to prevent this sort of unfair competition?
Hon Mr Mancini: I am informed by my ministry officials that we do spot checks of these farmers’ markets, and I would hasten to add that the penalties for tax avoidance can be severe in some cases. That in itself should be reason enough for complying with our tax laws. I would also add to the answer to my honourable friend that we do investigate individual complaints. If there are farmers with stalls in these farmers’ markets who are witnessing a neighbouring business not conducting its business within the confines of the law, we do investigate individual complaints and would be happy to do so.
Mr Pouliot: My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Energy. What steps is her government willing to take to recognize and respect through the referendum process a decision taken by the Severn River coalition, a group of first Canadians, a group of first people, who have voted under the democratic process to have their river declared a dam-free zone? Is her government willing to make a commitment to sit down at the table through the memorandum of agreement process and arrive at a solution so that a dam-free concept can be developed with our first Canadians?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would indicate to the honourable member that although there was a preliminary inquiry from a potential developer of hydroelectric sites along the Severn River, the ministry has not actually received any formal proposal for such a development. Consequently we have not been undertaking any formal response or any development of our consideration of the implications of such a proposal.
I understand that at the time the original inquiry was received, it was suggested to the potential developer that a meeting be held with people in the area who would be concerned, primarily members of native bands in the area. I think the native bands have expressed their concern quite clearly, and I would reiterate that at this point we have not had a formal proposal for development on the Severn.
Mr Pouliot: On the eve of self-government, I am asking that the minister take leadership on behalf of the 3,100 people who are affected on their own base, on their own land. She has not received it, but she is aware of what is going on. The people in the spirit of self-government -- their understanding of the treaties signed in 1905 and 1929 differs in interpretation from the present government’s -- are asking that she set the tone for negotiations and that she say: “Yes, our first Canadians will have a say at the table. They will be treated as equal partners. For as long as the sun shines and the rivers flow they will have a say in governing their own affairs.” That is all we are asking for. Will she or will she not make a commitment?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I think we are providing leadership through our government in discussions with the aboriginal peoples of Ontario, both in relationship to land claims -- the Ministry of Natural Resources fully supports the minister responsible for native affairs in carrying out those land claim discussions and negotiations -- and also clearly in discussions about self-governance. In addition to, as part of that, in supplement to, are those discussions the Ministry of Natural Resources is more than willing to enter into, discussions about co-management.
I would give an absolute assurance that in any discussions of any proposals for development we would certainly be consulting with concerned peoples of the area, including our native peoples, about any concerns they would have about the impact of development in environmental terms and also potential economic benefits that people of an area might achieve.
ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE
Mr Villeneuve: My question is to the Solicitor General. Many Ontario municipalities do not have sufficient population to have their own police forces and therefore they have to depend on the Ontario Provincial Police. As he well knows, this has put a strain on the OPP. Over and above this, in the last five years there has been an increase of about 35% in the crime rate. Does he feel that the OPP has sufficient personnel and equipment at present, particularly in eastern Ontario, to meet the requirements and the demands of the public?
Hon Mr Offer: In response to the member’s questions, I am quite confident about the capabilities of the OPP to provide that degree of policing which the people of Ontario not only need but deserve. I think we recognize it is an ongoing matter that constantly requires evaluation and assessment. Indeed, as I speak here, that type of evaluation and assessment is now being undertaken by the OPP across the province to see where it is that services can or should be enhanced.
That is a matter of ongoing consultation, not only with members of the OPP but with the community. It is a matter that I believe is absolutely necessary, not only for a time specific but rather on an ongoing basis, so that we can ensure that the people of this province, on a constant basis, receive that degree of service that the OPP is so proud to have provided in the past and present.
Mr Villeneuve: We all agree the OPP has done an excellent job, but there is a peculiar situation occurring in parts of eastern Ontario in certain detachments where officers go to work and do not have a cruiser to go patrolling in. That creates a major problem. If an OPP officer does not have a cruiser, what does he or she do? Would the Solicitor General commit his ministry to at least provide enough vehicles so that the OPP officers on site have the vehicles to do their work in patrolling?
Hon Mr Offer: In response to the question, I think the member will be aware that it was just last September or October that this government committed to an increased complement of OPP officers, together with increased equipment in the form of vehicles that are best equipped to meet the needs of the OPP and to serve the people of the province.
Certainly my ministry is constantly assessing, in co-ordination and consultation with the commissioner of the OPP as well as the local community, the needs of the OPP to service all areas of the province. We will continue to do that. This government has shown in the past and will continue to show its commitment in the future to meet the needs of the OPP.
Mr Callahan: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Highway 410 in my riding is moving along rather nicely, except that as you approach the entrance to Highway 401, about a mile away from the 401 it narrows down considerably and causes considerable backup and delay for people of my riding leaving and heading east into Toronto. It appears as though that narrowing down is caused by the blocking off of the bridge that will now give us westbound access to the 401. I would like to inquire of the minister when we could anticipate that situation will be alleviated to assist people in my riding getting on to the 401.
Hon Mr Wrye: I am pleased that the honourable member has raised this issue on the day when we tabled in the House the capital construction program. The honourable member and members in general would want to know that under the accelerated program for 410, we have let a total of 14 contracts and that the plan has been to have a six-lane roadway south of Highway 7 and a four-lane divided highway north from Highway 7 to Bovaird Drive.
The honourable member will want to know that there is a contract now under way for work on Courtney Park Road for a partial interchange there and for full interchanges between 410 and 401, which will allow full access to both the eastbound and westbound lanes of the 401. The good news that I want the honourable member to be able to take back to his riding is that work will be completed this fall.
Mr Callahan: I would also like to inquire of the minister whether or not there will be any linkage between Highways 410 and 403.
Hon Mr Wrye: Very briefly, the intention of the ministry right now is that as soon as the linkage I spoke of being completed this fall is done, we will put out a further contract for a north-south connection between Highways 410 and 403, and work on that will proceed immediately.
ONTARIO WASTE MANAGEMENT CORP
Mrs Grier: My question is for the Treasurer. It concerns the Ontario Waste Management Corp, which is currently undergoing a long, complicated and expensive environmental assessment hearing into its proposed industrial waste disposal facility in the Niagara Peninsula.
OWMC has always made it clear that the viability of its project depended on one of two conditions being met, either a change in the law to require generators of certain industrial wastes to use the OWMC facility or an ongoing operating subsidy that would enable OWMC to offer its services at a competitive price. The Minister of the Environment has consistently and quite properly rejected the course of requiring industries to use OWMC, preferring to encourage them to reduce and re-use their waste.
Can the Treasurer tell the House whether he has agreed to the other necessary condition of OWMC. Has he given them a commitment that they will receive the necessary operating subsidies?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I have not.
Mrs Grier: That is very interesting and quite disturbing. OWMC has spent a lot of money over a lot of years preparing for the environmental assessment hearing, and in a letter to the government last year it made it very plain, if I may quote:
“Absent a competitive tariff, OWMC’s facilities will not be utilized, its advantages to the environment of Ontario cannot be demonstrated and its acceptance” by the Environmental Assessment Board “therefore is unlikely. OWMC, if it is to have its facilities approved, must be prepared to demonstrate that its pricing structure will be competitive. It needs a firm commitment which it can rely on in a hearing, supported by an appropriate witness, that the government will provide whatever funding is necessary to keep OWMC’s treatment prices competitive.”
In the light of the government’s refusal to give that commitment to OWMC, how can the Treasurer justify the continuance of the hearing?
Hon R. F. Nixon: We have not refused to give the commitment, but we have not given it. It has not been put to me as Treasurer that this is a requirement.
However, the honourable member will know that this matter has been going on for a decade, that Dr Chant’s leadership in this regard has meant there has been an exhaustive review of all possibilities and every conceivable alternative and that the hearing now is focused on one specific property. In the event the hearing might some time come to an end with a decision that might allow it to go forward, it seems to me that the government and the Treasurer of the day might very well give the matter the honourable member raises some additional consideration. She asked me if I had given that commitment and I say again that I have not.
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister knows that wetlands preservation is a pressing issue. Seventy-five per cent of Ontario’s original wetlands south of the Canadian Shield have disappeared and in some parts of southern Ontario the loss is 90%. More than a year has passed since the deadline for public comment on the government’s draft policy statement on wetlands planning. Can the minister tell us why she still has not produced a final wetlands policy?
Hon Mrs McLeod: As minister, I received the results of the public consultation late last fall. There was considerable support for the draft wetlands policy presented as a result of that consultation, but there were also some concerns raised about details of the wetlands policy statement as we had presented it.
We take that consultation process very seriously and we have been undertaking a review of those concerns since they were presented to us. We are now preparing a final draft policy but, because we are considering some further amendments to the policy, we are undertaking some further consultation with groups that had expressed concerns. We do anticipate that policy will be reaching its final stages in a very short period of time.
Mrs Marland: I know the minister is aware that Lockyer Brothers wants to expand its gravel pit next to a class 1 wetland on the Nottawasaga River. The draft wetlands policy statement says, “New land use permitted on or adjacent to a provincially significant wetland should be compatible with the wetland so that wetland values are maintained or improved.”
We also understand that the minister’s office now is going to issue the licence to Lockyer. It is impossible to believe that the gravel pit’s noise, dust and traffic could maintain or improve the wetland which is a nesting area for blue herons. Why is the minister allowing this gravel pit expansion next to one of the province’s most significant wetlands?
Hon Mrs McLeod: Specifically in relation to the proposal of Lockyer Brothers related to their excavation, the particular concern with the wetland, as I understand it, related to the older licensed site and has required us to look at amalgamating two licences that previously existed, so that we can attach some conditions to that operation and ensure that there is protection of the wetland which is on one border of the existing site.
One of the conditions under which we would reissue that licence is that there be a sediment pond constructed within two months to prevent sediment and surface water from entering the wetland area. That is a condition we would attach and we believe that would protect the wetland that is adjacent to the excavation site.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mr D. R. Cooke: My question is to the Minister of Health. The minister will recall that she announced last September a $5.6-million allocation for new community mental health projects in response to the Graham report. Waterloo region’s share of that allocation was $209,000. District health councils were asked to recommend worthy projects by December 1989.
I know that the Kitchener mental health care community was very excited by the prospect of this new money, and as such, a number of excellent proposals were submitted to the district health council for consideration. Three were chosen for recommendation to the minister in plenty of time to meet the deadline. It is now the middle of June and we are still waiting for a response from the minister. The need identified by the minister in her announcement last fall has not diminished; it may indeed have increased. At the very least, the service providers have been put on hold for more than six months anticipating an answer. This affects the whole planning process.
The Speaker: And your question?
Mr D. R. Cooke: Can the minister explain why the district health council recommendations have not been responded to yet and when she anticipates making these very important announcements?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to thank my colleague the member for Kitchener for his question and acknowledge his interest in this very important matter and also his commitment to the expansion of community mental health programs. He knows that the process was quite an important one. We established a province-wide strategy for the expansion of community mental health services. He is quite correct; the allocation was $5.6 million and all DHCs and non-DHCs were asked to submit proposals, rank them, review them and then submit them.
For the very first time, all district health council proposals were reviewed by a committee consisting of a number of representatives from the community mental health branch and the health planning branch, as well as the Graham report implementation committee. The member will know that the Graham report for expansion of community mental health formed the blueprint for this important initiative.
I feel that Waterloo region district health council has done an excellent job in this important provincial community mental health initiative. I am pleased that they have responded so quickly to recommendations for both new and expanded community mental health programs in the Waterloo region. After a series of lengthy discussions, an announcement on this successful project is anticipated very shortly.
Mr McLean: I have a petition that reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“We, the undersigned, do hereby totally oppose the decision by the Simcoe county school board to segregate students due to ethnic origin.”
This petition has about 1,500 names. It was gathered by Dr Charron of Penetanguishene and he asked me to present it on his behalf.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Mr Pelissero from the standing committee on general government presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill 114, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
ARBITRATION ACT, 1990 / LOI DE 1990 SUR L’ARBITRAGE
Mr Scott moved first reading of Bill 226, An Act to revise the Arbitrations Act.
M. Scott propose la première lecture du projet de loi 226, Loi portant révision de la Loi sur l’arbitrage.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
CITY OF ETOBICOKE ACT, 1990
Mr Henderson moved first reading of Bill Pr83, An Act respecting the City of Etobicoke.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF WINDSOR ACT, 1990
Mr M. C. Ray moved first reading of Bill Pr94, An Act respecting the city of Windsor.
Motion agreed to.
FLORAL EMBLEM AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Sterling moved first reading of Bill 227, An Act to amend the Floral Emblem Act.
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker: Does the member have a brief explanation?
Mr Sterling: Yes. It seems, as pointed out by Patrick Boyer, MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, that it has been a wives tale that it is illegal to pick a white trillium here in Ontario. The white trillium was declared Ontario’s official flower in 1937. It was a private member’s bill by William Gardhouse, a Liberal, at that time.
I want to emphasize that the white trillium and the white trillium alone is identified --
The Speaker: Order. An explanation is fine, but we are not here to debate it.
CITY OF SCARBOROUGH ACT, 1990
Mr Faubert moved first reading of Bill Pr9l, An Act respecting the City of Scarborough.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT
Mr Phillips moved third reading of Bill 208, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Some hon members: No.
Mr Mackenzie: I want to point out what is probably obvious to most members of the House now, and that is that New Democrats will be voting against the Liberal changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. New Democrats are voting against the Liberal changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Bill 208, because they simply do not give all workers all the rights they need to prevent accident, illness and death in the workplace in the province of Ontario.
We believe that all workers should have the individual right to refuse unsafe work, their representatives should have the right to shut down an unsafe area and all workers should be paid if they refuse unsafe work or their work area is shut down for health and safety reasons. The Liberal changes do not meet these standards. The Liberals in this house voted against every New Democratic Party amendment that would give these rights to all workers in Ontario.
Under Bill 208 farm workers are excluded from all coverage, many public sector workers can only refuse unsafe work in very limited circumstances, worker representatives can only shut down an unsafe area in a workplace with management’s consent or in the case of an employer with a terrible health and safety record and workers are not guaranteed payment under the law in the case of health and safety stoppages. Repetitive strain situations, a serious concern in many assembly lines and other workplaces in Ontario, are not adequately covered in this new bill.
A worker is killed almost every working day in Ontario and 500,000 workers are injured on the job in Ontario every year. Thousands more are suffering from industrial diseases which all too often do prove fatal.
Working people need and deserve better protection, but it is obvious that the Liberals have not delivered in terms of this particular piece of legislation. It is equally obvious from the process we went through and the letters we have been able to read into the record, from the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association and others, that the Liberals listen to their friends in big business.
The result of that is that Bill 208 falls far short of the rights of working people in this province that New Democrats have fought for for a long time and, I might say, far short of the rights we thought maybe we had achieved in the bill that my colleague Elie Martel brought in, Bill 149, two or three years back.
We simply have not achieved that kind of protection for workers in the workplace in Ontario. For what gains there may be in Bill 208, as far as this party is concerned, it falls far short of the fight we have made for a better and safer workplace in Ontario. For this reason, our caucus will not be supporting the government Bill 208.
Mr Laughren: As someone who was involved with the committee process, I wanted to say a few words. First of all, I endorse totally what my colleague the member for Hamilton East said, and I would like to pay tribute to the work he did in extracting from the government some of the amendments that went partway to improving the bill. Without his insistence that these things happen and without the co-operation of the labour movement, I can assure members the bill would be even worse than it is now in its present form.
It bothered me a great deal that farm workers are not covered, for example. I do not know how government can justify not covering farm workers. I can understand some of the reasons that other things are left out in the bill -- I may not agree with it, but at least I understand why -- but when it comes to farm workers it is beyond my comprehension. If we look at the accident record on our farms in this province, it seems to me that there is a moral obligation on this government to include farm workers under this act, and I think it is fundamentally incorrect and wrong not to include farm workers under this bill. The day is going to come when the government will have to.
I do not have a legal mind, but I often wonder how it is, under our legal system and our Charter of Rights, that the government gets away with that, how it can justify excluding a group of people like farm workers, very vulnerable people. Farm labouring people tend not to be well educated. A lot of people are from --
Mr Miller: No, no, that’s not true.
Mr Laughren: I can tell members that is statistically correct. If members do not believe me, they should go and check the statistics. Anyway, that is not the point.
Mr Miller: That is a point.
Mr Laughren: The point is that these people are vulnerable and they should be protected under this legislation. When the minister responds on this third reading debate, I hope that he will deal with that question because I think he has made a very serious error in not including farm workers. I can tell him, the last time I saw the statistics on farm workers, they were very, very serious. If we were talking about a group of workers who did not have accidents, then the government could say, “You know, it’s not worth all the fuss of covering them.” But in this case, that is not true. There is a serious problem of accidents and fatalities on our farms, and the minister should cover those people. I just do not know how he justifies not covering them.
The other point is that when the minister was moving towards coverage for public sector workers, I do not understand why he did not take the next step and provide them with more complete coverage. It seems to me that he has gone some way, in the example the minister used in his statement to the House when he was talking about amendments, in allowing an ambulance driver to refuse to drive an unsafe ambulance or a fire worker to go on an unsafe fire truck. He could have gone further in support of our public sector workers.
Also, on the whole question of paying people when an unsafe workplace is shut down, it seems to me that the logical extension of that is to allow those people to be paid so that there is no impediment to the shutting down if there is a safety problem. I think what he has done there is unfair.
I do not want to delay the bill, but I do wish, in those two particular cases especially, that the government had taken action that it obviously has not taken. I regret that very much. The evidence before the committee indicated that there is still a gap out there if we are going to make the internal responsibility system work. A lot of us -- and by us, I mean in this party and the labour movement -- have gone a long way to saying that working people should work with management to make health and safety on the job a responsibility internally. The alternative to that, it always seemed to us, was to have an army of inspectors, which none of us really wanted.
If you are going to do that, then you have got to have more trust in that system than there is now. I am sure that other members would agree that during the committee hearings there was a lot of evidence of a lack of trust. Some of the statements made by the construction industry, for example, concerning their attitude towards workers and their role in health and safety were truly appalling. I regretted that very much too. So we still have some way to go, if we are going to make the internal responsibility system work well, towards building up that trust.
But the government is not going to get that if it does not go further, when it brings in legislation, to recognize that working people are responsible and have more at stake than any other party in terms of improving working conditions. I do not expect the minister to make any changes now -- we are past that stage of the bill -- but perhaps it goes some way to explaining, after these remarks from myself and the member for Hamilton East, why we intend to vote against this bill on third reading.
Miss Martel: I will be very brief. There is only one particular comment that I want to make outside of agreeing with both my colleagues the members for Hamilton East and Nickel Belt. Given the reasons that we are not supporting the bill, I agree with everything they have said. If we had done it, if it had been our party putting it together, it would have been a very different bill and had very much a different face.
What I do want to say at this point is to express my appreciation and my gratitude to the trade union movement in this province. I was never so impressed by their commitment to health and safety and to helping their brothers and sisters in the workplaces of this province as when I watched the trade union movement at the public hearings.
There were numerous examples brought forward by many representatives from many unions, from many workplaces, of people who would not have been hurt, would not have been killed in this province, had decent and adequate health and safety legislation been in place. Unfortunately, I think that we are still going to see those kinds of deaths because this bill does not go as far as we would have liked and put in place some of those protections we think are so vital.
I certainly think that had it not been for those people bringing those cases forward, we would not even have moved the small way that we did to make the bill a little bit better than it was before. I say again, it is not what we would have done, but it is a little bit better than what we started out with in October when we went through second reading and started into the public hearings.
I say to a couple of people -- I am going to name them, although I know I should not -- to Paul Forder, to Linda Jolley, who was in the gallery just a moment ago, to Ross McClellan, who is in the gallery, and to Gord Wilson, that I was never so impressed as with the work that they put together to show all of us really what the problems are at first hand, witnesses bringing people who had been hurt from the workplaces to the public hearings to say why health and safety changes were so badly needed. I think it is to their credit that we moved a little bit. Certainly it will be with a lot of hard work on their part if this bill works; it will be because of them.
I hope that in three years’ time, when we go through the review, some of the changes which we feel now are so badly needed will be recognized and that the Ministry of Labour at that time will make the changes we think should have been included now. Certainly I think that if this thing is going to work, if the agency is going to work, if we are going to train workers across the province, it is going to be very much because of the work that these people did and those other working people in this province who feel that people have a right to go to work every day and come home safely at night to their families.
On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I want to thank those people in the trade union movement for the fine performance and work that they provided around this issue.
Mr Riddell: I will be very brief. As a member of the committee that travelled the province, I would like to pay tribute to the member for Nickel Belt, who was the chairman of that committee.
I know the member was very supportive of the labour union representatives when they came into the meeting with all the sincerity that they did approach the meetings with and in their presentations. The chairman approached all our meetings with neutrality. He was completely unbiased, and I know many times he had to bite his tongue because he probably wanted to join in the debates that were taking place. I think we got through our meetings extremely well, and much of the credit has to go to the member for Nickel Belt.
As the member for Nickel Belt indicated, we have a way to go yet, but I think if he was being completely honest, he, along with his colleagues, would say that we probably have the most progressive occupational health and safety legislation you will find in any jurisdiction in Canada and, perhaps for that matter, on the North American continent.
I think we have to have a look in due time, and probably the sooner the better, at including farm workers in occupational health and safety. I think likely we will, and the reason I do not think we have to this point in time is that we did not have a chance to have consultation with the farm industry prior to passing this bill into legislation. I think the step we have to take now is to go out into the farm community and get its input into how farm workers can be included in the occupational health and safety bill.
I well recall sitting on the occupational health and safety committee when the Conservatives were in power and the Minister of Agriculture and Food was Bill Newman. We had to admit that the farming industry is unique. It is different from any other industry. I well recall at that time that they were saying that some of the guidelines they were laying were that you could not drop a heavy object from one level to another, which really meant that a farm worker or a farmer could not go up into the haymow and drop a bale of hay from that level down to the bottom level, where he was going to feed the livestock.
This is where the farming industry is unique and is so different from many other industries, and the reason at that time that we did not feel we could include farmers and farm workers in the occupational health and safety bill. Granted, we did have farm safety associations, which I believe the farmers and the farm workers would say have been doing a reasonably good job. But now that many of our farms have become so commercialized -- and I am thinking now, say, of some of our mushroom farms where they employ many, many people -- I firmly believe that workers in these large commercial establishments should be included under the occupational health and safety bill.
I firmly believe that this government will be taking a careful look at this and I fully expect that whenever amendments are made to this bill, we will likely see in due time -- as I say, probably the sooner the better -- farm workers included in the occupational health and safety bill. If I were going to be here, I personally would be supporting that particular endeavour.
It has been a pleasure working on the committee. I think we have a good occupational health and safety legislation for the workers of this province, not that it cannot be made better. Again, it has been a pleasure working under the very capable chairmanship of the member for Nickel Belt.
Mrs Marland: I actually had not intended to speak at third reading, but since we are paying tribute to the Chairman of the committee and since, if the Chairman of the committee were to decide to retire, I would not have an opportunity to speak, I think that I too would like to take one or two moments to endorse the comments of the member for Huron, sitting in that committee and travelling to as many centres as we did with the kinds of receptions that we had at many of those locations.
We had a lot of demonstrations last year when our standing committee on resources development travelled on Bill 162, but we did not have anything like the receptions and demonstrations that welcomed us in many centres on Bill 208. I think that a great deal of credit for the fact that nothing got out of hand during the process of those hearings goes solely and totally to the Chairman, the member for Nickel Belt.
As the member for Huron has said, it must have been difficult for him at times because of his own personal interest and his own personal commitment, but I have not seen, in the 16 years in politics, a Chairman who could so well control the delicate balance of fairness between offending those of us on the committee who either wanted to have more to say or more opportunities for questions and the experience of those people who came very impassioned with their causes as deputations.
I feel that that credit and recognition should be expressed and I am happy to express it on behalf of our Progressive Conservative caucus to the member for Nickel Belt, because without that kind of leadership, I think there were times when that committee perhaps could have gotten out of hand and any number of people could have been upset and offended. It is a job well done.
Hon Mr Phillips: I am pleased to bring my comments to the third reading. I think the first thing I would like do is to remind ourselves of the importance of what we are doing, and the member for Hamilton East in his opening remarks did that.
There are indeed 400,000 accidents each year in Ontario workplaces. Indeed there are 300 people who die as a result of either an accident or occupational disease. I guess in economic terms as well seven million person-days are lost each year to accidents. Of course, there is the whole human tragedy involved with each of those accidents. I think it is constantly important that we remind ourselves of the importance of the occupational health and safety bill.
The second thing I would like to say is that this is my first opportunity to work with a significant piece of legislation. I personally found the process well served by the standing committee on resources development. I would echo what the member for Huron and the member for Mississauga South said, and that is that we were fortunate to have a Chair, in the member for Nickel Belt, who really did a first-class job of chairing what was a very difficult committee.
In addition, I might say that I think all the members on that committee served with the best of intentions. I think we will see in the bill that there were meaningful amendments that have come about as a direct result of those committee hearings, amendments proposed, I might say, by members from all three parties. I believe the bill is substantially better for having gone through the resources development committee process, having had the input of people from right across the province. In the end I think the people of Ontario are much better served because of that process and because of the amendments in the bill.
I would just like to remind ourselves of some of the important aspects of the bill. For me at least, perhaps the most important aspect is the agency itself. I think it was the member for Nickel Belt who said that what is very important in health and safety is trust by both workplace parties. I happen to believe the agency we are establishing here, which is a bipartite agency, will be a model over the haul of how the two workplace parties can work together. I believe it is central to the bill, I believe it will work and I believe we will look back and use this model in other areas of the workplace.
In addition, as you are aware, Mr Speaker, the safety associations -- and we have nine safety associations -- will be required to have their directors made up of 50% from the employer side and 50% from the employee side. So the nine safety associations that will come under the agency will also be bipartite.
We have seen that something that works well in the workplace is what is called the internal responsibility system, for those members who know, and this bill will result in an additional 30,000 joint health and safety committees in the workplace. Currently we estimate we have 20,000. We will move to 50,000.
On the construction sites we see one of the highest accident rates, as all members know. Currently I believe in the province we have four or five joint health and safety committees and this bill will result, we believe, in 5,000 joint health and safety committees.
In terms of accelerating this partnership development that the member for Nickel Belt talked about, we think the combination of the establishment of the agency, the bipartite nature of the safety associations and the establishment of 30,000 additional joint health and safety committees, in particular on the construction sites -- as I said, we will move to 5,000 joint health and safety committees.
The second principle in the bill is to substantially upgrade education and training. Again, I think if members look at what works in the workplace, it is people in the workplace being knowledgeable about health and safety issues. That is why members have heard the term “certification” throughout the bill. That is why for each of those health and safety committees we will require a certified worker representative and a certified management representative, “certified” meaning that they are trained and knowledgeable in health and safety. They will have to meet standards that will be established by that agency.
The third principle of the bill is what we would call rights and responsibilities. In terms of some of those things, the agency, as I said before, will set the standards for certification and will ensure that we have established standards that certified worker and certified management representatives must meet.
We are going to give rights to the joint health and safety committees to ensure that they have the right, indeed the duty, to inspect the workplace, that they have the right to insist that management respond to recommendations that they develop and respond to them in a timely manner. Again, this was one of the amendments that came out of the hearings.
In terms of the right to refuse, which is also something that came out of the hearings, we have expanded the right to refuse to ensure that if some other worker is asked to step in for an individual who has refused to do a job, the individual who is asked to step in be informed of the reasons for the refusal and be informed in the presence of another worker representative.
The public sector right to refuse was another thing that came out of our hearings. We have now in the bill a right for individuals to refuse to do unnecessarily dangerous work. We believe it continues to provide the public with what they would perceive as assurance, and what is assurance, that police and fire and correctional officers will indeed fulfil their fundamental responsibilities, but they should not be placed in unnecessary danger. The right to refuse we think is structured in the bill that provides that balance.
In terms of holding the employer accountable, you will see in the bill, Mr Speaker, a substantial increase in fines. Currently the maximum is $25,000. The maximum under the bill will be $500,000, and we think that we have responsibly, but none the less effectively, improved the employer accountability.
Another important aspect of the bill is the establishment of the adjudicator. It has been our experience that some people feel that the appeal mechanisms for some of our inspectors’ orders were not perhaps as independent as people would like, so we are establishing the adjudicator.
The adjudicator will have responsibilities for reviewing appeals to our inspectors’ orders, but also importantly, for dealing with the certification issues and for ensuring, as one of the members said earlier, for those employers that are not practising good health and safety that there will be the opportunity in those workplaces for the worker certified rep to stop production.
The three-year review has been mentioned by other members and is another important element of the bill. The two perhaps most, shall I say, contentious issues in the bill are, first, the agency -- as you will recall, Mr Speaker, we have a non-voting neutral chair. I think some feel that the agency might function better without even a non-voting neutral chair, but we have committed ourselves three years after the bill is proclaimed to review the agency. The second important element is in the area of the right to refuse. We obviously think that we have the most effective bill possible, but we are committed to reviewing that.
The member for Nickel Belt mentioned farm workers, and I believe, perhaps in the committee-of-the-whole debate, we talked about that. The bill, as it was originally designed, as I think members realize, was not designed to broaden the scope for farm workers. We have, however, a committee report that is coming forward in July, I believe. As the member for Huron said, all of us recognize that farm work is dangerous work and there should be opportunities to improve health and safety on the farm. We look forward to a public debate of that report some time in the next few months.
If I might summarize on Bill 208, it has been, for me at least, a process that I have come to respect very much. I believe that the committee process was one that worked well. It gave people right across this province an opportunity to express their views on health and safety. I think we had an exceptional amount of participation in the whole area because it is important to people. We have a stronger bill now than we had going into that committee hearing.
In spite of the concerns that people might have on all sides of this bill, I think the fact of the matter is an analysis of it will indeed show what the member for Huron said, which is that it is the most progressive health and safety legislation we will find in North America. Now our goal, assuming the bill were to pass, is to make it work and to indeed see the results of it, which, after all, are designed to improve and correct those things I mentioned at the outset of my remarks, and those are the accidents and tragedies in the workplace as a result of injury or occupational disease.
I am very pleased to move third reading of Bill 208 and look forward to working with all of us as we make this bill in fact work in the workplace.
The House divided on third reading of Bill 208, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 70
Adams, Ballinger, Black, Bossy, Brown, Callahan, Campbell, Caplan, Chiarelli, Cleary, Collins, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Cordiano, Daigeler, Eakins, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Eves, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fleet, Fulton, Furlong, Grandmaître, Haggerty, Hart, Henderson, Johnson, J. M., Kanter, Kerrio, Kozyra, Lupusella, Mahoney, Matrundola, McCague, McClelland, Miller, Neumann, Nicholas, Nixon, J. B., Oddie Munro, Offer, O’Neil, H., O’Neill, Y., Owen, Patten, Pelissero, Phillips, G., Pollock, Polsinelli, Poole, Ramsay, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Ruprecht, Scott, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., South, Sterling, Stoner, Sweeney, Tatham, Villeneuve, Wrye.
Nays -- 17
Allen, Bryden, Charlton, Farnan, Grier, Johnston, R. F., Laughren, Mackenzie, Marland, Martel, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Rae, B., Reville, Runciman, Wildman, Wiseman.
OTTAWA ARTS CENTRE FOUNDATION ACT, 1990
Mr Grandmaître moved second reading of Bill Pr4l, An Act respecting Ottawa Arts Centre Foundation.
Mr Grandmaître: Bill Pr41 is a very simple bill. The Ottawa Arts Centre Foundation has been in business for a good number of years and is doing a good thing for the community arts people. They are asking this House to agree upon this bill to give them an opportunity to use some of their municipal and school taxes to do other arts things with them instead of paying municipal taxes. That is the bill.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF OTTAWA ACT, 1990
Mr Chiarelli moved second reading of Bill Pr60, An Act respecting the City of Ottawa.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TOWN OF SIMCOE ACT, 1990
Mr Miller moved second reading of Bill Pr66, An Act respecting the Town of Simcoe.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
AXA HOME INSURANCE COMPANY ACT, 1990
Ms Poole moved second reading of Bill Pr69, An Act respecting AXA Home Insurance Company.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ONTARIO KOREAN BUSINESSMEN’S ASSOCIATION ACT, 1990
Mr Ruprecht moved second reading of Bill Pr73, An Act to revive Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TOWNSHIP OF GUILFORD ACT, 1990
Mr Eakins moved second reading of Bill Pr79, An Act respecting the Township of Guilford.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
COUNTY OF SIMCOE ACT, 1990
Mr Ballinger, in the absence of Mr Sweeney, moved second reading of Bill 177, An Act respecting the Amalgamation of certain Municipalities in the County of Simcoe.
Mr Ballinger: I am presenting for second reading today the County of Simcoe Act, 1990. This legislation restructures eight local municipalities in the south part of Simcoe county into three larger municipalities. The restructuring will enable the new municipalities to respond to and manage the rapid growth being experienced in that area.
The first part of the legislation enacts amalgamations that bring about the new municipal units. The township of Innisfil and the village of Cookstown will amalgamate to become the town of Innisfil. The town of Bradford and the township of West Gwillimbury will amalgamate to become the town of Bradford West Gwillimbury. The town of Alliston, the township of Tecumseth and the villages of Beeton and Tottenham will amalgamate to form the town of the amalgamated municipalities of Alliston, Beeton, Tecumseth and Tottenham.
The first part of the legislation also provides for an effective date of amalgamation, 1 January 1991, composition of municipal councils following the 1991 municipal elections -- mayor, county councillor and seven additional members -- a vehicle for local determination of ward systems, transfer of assets and liabilities to new units without compensation, and security of employment for employees of existing municipalities and local boards.
The second part of the legislation establishes the representation of each municipality on county council. The mayor and county councillor of each town will sit on county council.
Part III establishes utility commissions for each town, membership on the commissions and authorizes Ontario Hydro to continue serving the areas that it presently serves: the townships of Innisfil, Tecumseth and West Gwillimbury. Each town is required to pass a bylaw setting out areas to be served beyond those currently served by municipal commissions and includes provisions for future expansion.
Part IV establishes police service arrangements for the new municipalities. They will have the option to contract for Ontario Provincial Police service in areas currently serviced by the OPP: Tecumseth, Cookstown, Beeton, Tottenham and West Gwillimbury. Similar to the Hydro service area expansion approach, this option will enable the towns to expand incrementally their local forces to meet the policing needs of their areas.
Part V of the legislation dissolves existing library boards and establishes new ones for each new municipality.
Part VI deals with municipal finance provisions. It provides for an equitable apportionment of tax levies, given that properties are not currently assessed on the same basis across the eight municipalities in south Simcoe. There are also provisions enabling the municipalities to phase in tax impacts if the municipalities wish to do this. This section also enables the municipalities to define special service areas. Only those areas which benefit from a defined special service will contribute municipal taxes towards service-related costs.
Part VI also enables the Minister of Municipal Affairs to provide special assistance to offset amalgamation-related financial impacts.
Part VII of the legislation includes a number of general implementation provisions. These items include a dispute resolution mechanism for asset and liability transfers and highway-related provisions for urban rebates and connecting link agreements.
Part VIII sets out a number of traditional provisions dealing with the period from the effective date of the amalgamations, 1 January 1991, and the 1991 municipal elections. During this time period, municipal councils will comprise all council members of the former municipalities. Existing representation on county council will remain unchanged. There will be interim compositions of hydroelectric commissions, boards of commissioners of police and public library boards.
It is important to note that this legislation was prepared with the advice and the assistance of locally elected and staff representatives of the municipalities that are affected by it.
Mr McCague: My thanks to the parliamentary assistant for his opening statement and for his co-operation on items that may have to be changed in this bill during committee of the whole.
This bill affects an area in which I have lived all my life and which I understand very well. The purpose of the bill is said to be because there were five annexation proposals in the amalgamated area and a couple in the other areas which the honourable member for Simcoe Centre represents.
I have somehow a suspicion that there is another hidden agenda here, not just the fact that I trust the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
Mr McCague: The honourable member for Durham-York might find it more advantageous if he did not interject from time to time, because I will be responding to those interjections if you allow me, Mr Speaker.
However, there may well be another agenda, and one of the agendas, of course, I think is that there is a great demand for development in the area. It is an area within easy reach of Metropolitan Toronto, where housing is cheaper and where land, of course, is cheaper. It is a good place for people to bring up their families. Also, I have done a little study on industrial development in the area. I note that the Honda manufacturing plant is in this area and that any place Honda has decided to locate has grown substantially in a fairly short time period.
The ministry had to consider the five annexation applications that existed. I am sure there was some commitment by the government, maybe the previous as well as the present, to provide infrastructure -- sewers, water, even housing -- for the development that may result because of the presence of a car manufacturer. The councils got themselves into a position of disagreeing on a few items and the minister took the bull by the horns and said, “We think there should be three municipalities made of this area instead of four.”
When the councils of the municipalities were at an impasse, they did urge the minister to proceed with whatever it was he thought was best for the area. I am sure the minister or his staff would be the first to agree that the elected officials as well as the appointed officials of the eight municipalities have co-operated to the utmost possible to proceed with this legislation even though there are differences of opinion on some aspects of it.
It is important, I think, that this legislation proceed so that the municipalities know where they are going. The member for Durham-York does not know and I do not know when the next election is going to be, but should an election intervene between now and the end of the year, the municipalities would certainly be in limbo. If we can pass this legislation this afternoon or get it to third reading this afternoon, I think it will serve the municipalities well.
It is too strong to say that this legislation was imposed upon the municipalities, but in order to accomplish what the government thought was proper for the area, there really was not much choice but to have some sort of an amalgamation and some sort of larger municipalities with, as the member for Oxford did, sort of a one-man tear around the country along with a few of his Liberal colleagues a few months ago, and then have the ministry staff write a report for him.
Mr Speaker, you will recall that at the time I raised the issue of whether or not that committee should have been an all-party committee of this Legislature. That question is not very hard to answer. It should have been. The member for Durham-York today is getting co-operation from all sides of this House because the ministry people, the local politicians, elected people, made us all part of the system. I think the member for Oxford will be the first one to admit, maybe not right here but I sure could persuade him to do it outside this House, that an all-party committee is much better than nine of his colleagues who, I mentioned at the time, were getting nothing more than a geography lesson of the province.
However, I am sure the parliamentary assistant will want to assure me today that along with this amalgamation, along with the people of the area going along with the wishes of the government of the day -- the government is using a good deal of foresight in this, I would be the first to admit -- that if this is to pass, there is quite a large commitment on behalf of the provincial government being made today, I suggest to members, that is assistance above and beyond when it comes to infrastructure. The people of the area just cannot afford to bank all the development that the government foresees for the area. I hope that the parliamentary assistant is prepared to commit the government to a high level of infrastructure assistance to the people of the new area.
The member for Simcoe Centre will be speaking about the municipalities he represents. The area I represent will be known very simply as the amalgamated area of Alliston, Beeton, Tottenham and Tecumseth. That is a fairly simple name, is it not? It looks good on a letterhead. However, according to the bill, there will be a selection of name which I understand will be on the ballot come next election -- Avalon or some name like that.
A couple of things have been pointed out by various municipalities. I might just say that it is unfortunate that the municipalities received these bills yesterday and there has not been a lot of time for them to peruse them. However, in section 6 of the bill there is reference to bylaws and resolutions of former municipalities. In subsection 6(1), in particular, it has been pointed out that to rescind the bylaws and re-register them is very time- and money-consuming. It might be said that the bylaws should be deemed to be bylaws of the new municipality. Having said that, I have not run into anybody yet who knows what it is that is better than this is. It does not seem there is any particular way around it, and I am sure the ministry could explain to us what the problems are in that particular respect.
The amalgamated municipality in particular has brought to the minister’s attention early today problems that there are in subsection 18(4) about the public utilities commission with the election, wards and so forth. The ministry has worked hard to come up with an amendment for that section, which I appreciate, and from an initial look seems fine.
Tecumseth township, which is losing some land to the township of West Gwillimbury, is disappointed that there was not some kind of compensation. While the parliamentary assistant’s remarks at the beginning would indicate there may be some way of working out some kind of assistance, it was my understanding that there was going to be none, that when the boundaries were changed that was a fait accompli. The parliamentary assistant may wish to comment on that.
Section 24 of the bill talks about the hydroelectric power and each town’s municipality having to pass a bylaw before 31 December 1991. All the municipalities would have liked to have seen that section changed so that the effective date would be 31 December 1992. I am persuaded by the Minister of Energy and by Mr Taylor of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that there is some problem with changing that date. However, in the goodness of their hearts, they may choose to voluntarily change it before the day is out.
There has been raised, I believe by each of the municipalities within the area that this bill affects, a request that the enactment of the Development Charges Act, 1989, be delayed a couple of years. I notice that this is not part of the bill. I can understand the difficulty that the ministry would have with putting that request in this bill; the problem would be the difficulty they might have with all of the municipalities in the province.
I am proud of the people in this part of the province who, having seen a need for something probably after some persuasion by the ministry people, were able to get together and work to bring about this legislation, which I hope and trust will serve the people of that area well for years and years to come. I hope too that the honourable member for Durham-York will ensure that the chequebook accompanies the passing of the bill.
Mr Owen: As has been referred to by the member for Simcoe West, my riding of Simcoe Centre is also involved in this bill. The township of Innisfil will be amalgamated with the village of Cookstown, forming the new town of Innisfil. The township of West Gwillimbury will be amalgamated with the town of Bradford, involving a name which is not yet resolved in its final form.
I would like to stress first of all that while there was considerable disagreement prior to the final decision being made on these amalgamations, there has been nothing but a willingness to co-operate and to succeed in what is going to take place by all of the parties involved.
I can recall the morning that the minister made the announcement to the players involved. As the various representatives of these municipalities sat around a table and had explained to them what the final outcome was going to be, to a man and to a woman they all indicated that the decision had been made and all of them were of one mind, to make it work and succeed in the best interests of the people involved, and that has happened.
I would also like to commend the member for Simcoe West, in that in every way his approach has set an example for all of the other parties involved. He has simply been trying to do what is in the best interests of the people whom he has represented. I would concur with the member for Simcoe West that everything be done to expedite the third reading of this particular bill.
I would also like to point out that the politicians at the local level represent various political stripes and, notwithstanding that, all of them have co-operated and participated, having forgotten those particular political colours. They have realized that the people would be best served if they simply got on with the job and did it well. So they have so-called buried their political differences and proceeded with the implementation of the tasks before them.
The townships of West Gwillimbury and Tecumseth were up until now divided by Highway 27. We have seen that this was not a workable boundary or solution. For example, Bond Head was growing equally in both directions, into both townships, and yet it was lacking the opportunity of a cohesive development, so somewhere a change in that boundary had to take place.
Tecumseth was hoping that Highway 400 could be made the boundary, but again we would have been facing the same difficulty we were facing with Highway 27. I hope and trust that they will look back and realize that there was really nowhere else to go but to move it to the west of Highway 27. In this way the new municipality of Bradford West Gwillimbury will be able to look to the growth opportunities that can be presented by the commercial and industrial expansion along Highway 400.
In the areas of Bradford and West Gwillimbury I have been told that the commuting adult population probably runs as high as 90%. That is not the best for the people who live there in terms of developing a sense of community and trying to get the congestion off of the traffic that is now heading into the greater Toronto area. I am committed, as is this government, to doing everything in my power once all of this is resolved to work towards creating opportunities for industry, commerce and jobs in these particular communities. I think that is the direction to go and what we are addressing by way of this bill is a step on the way.
My friend the member for Simcoe West will no doubt remember when Cookstown was not a separate, independent municipality, when in fact it consisted of four corners involving four different townships: Innisfil, West Gwillimbury, Tecumseth and Essa. They were having a difficulty with regard to fully developing their sense of community. Now that they are becoming one with the township of Innisfil, I think we will see a resolving of some of the difficulties they have experienced in their growth.
With regard to the boundary between Innisfil and West Gwillimbury townships, again, looking back, there really was nowhere else to go other than to locate that boundary south and parallel to Highway 89. Once Cookstown indicated that its future rested with the township of Innisfil, we had to co-ordinate and synchronize the southerly boundary of Cookstown and extend it across the boundary between the townships of West Gwillimbury and Innisfil. Again, there will be disruptions. Again, there is a lot involved, some of it complicated and complex. But because of the outlook and approach of the parties involved, I know it will eventually meet with success and the best interests of all the people served.
I would like to thank everyone involved. I would like to thank the co-operation of the ministry. I would like to thank the co-operation of the other member of this Legislature, who has been involved in this on a day-to-day basis. Above all, I would like to thank and commend the participants at all the municipal levels for their co-operation and their clear support for doing what is in the best interests of the people they are serving.
Mr Charlton: I will be very brief in my comments. I will start out by saying that we will be supporting Bill 177. I thought I would make a few comments about items which I just happened to notice in going through the bill this morning after having been asked to have a look at the bill on behalf of our caucus.
First of all I should say to the member for Simcoe West, who said in his remarks to the bill that this is the area where he has spent all his life, that as we see the amalgamation set out in this bill, presumably in preparation for the development that the member mentioned and that the government foresees moving out into the Simcoe county area, he should be vigilant and work carefully with all the local officials so that he does not find himself in the position some others of us have found ourselves in in the past of looking at development that has occurred around us much too quickly and without enough thought, saying to ourselves, “I wish we had taken the time to approach this question of development a little more carefully and thoughtfully.”
It is just a caution to those from the Simcoe county area that there is not necessarily anything wrong with development, but development in and of itself is not necessarily good either. They should be careful and thoughtful about how they approach that.
I raise that because in a very quick run through this piece of legislation and in some quick discussions with some local officials -- I will not name a particular local official -- we picked up some quotes like this one: “It’s been debated around the block and back again. An agreement has been reached, so pass it ASAP.” I understand that. The local officials have been through fairly lengthy discussions, as has been set out by the parliamentary assistant and both the previous speakers. But sometimes we get just a little too hungry for change, growth and development, not having had it in the past and not fully understanding the consequences, headaches and problems that can come with it.
I just happened to notice when I was going through part VI of the piece of legislation -- unfortunately I am not familiar with the assessment bases in each of the municipalities that are being amalgamated here -- that in section 38 there is a potential headache for both local officials and local residents. Unfortunately, I cannot define the extent to which that may be a headache, but what section 38 does is legislate what local councils have had the choice to make on their own in other areas of the province where section 63 reassessments have been done.
So the councils, as a result of this amalgamation, are going to lose a local choice which in other areas of the province they as councils would have had solely unto themselves, as a result of section 38 of this piece of legislation. It may not be a problem. The assessment bases in each of these smaller towns that are being amalgamated into larger towns may in fact be close enough not to create a problem, but it is something that locally it might be smart to look into as a potential consequence of passing this legislation.
Whenever you get into the kinds of changes and amalgamations that are set out in Bill 177, the potentials are not only complicated in some cases, but unforeseen in others. Although we will be supporting Bill 177, I just encourage those from the Simcoe county area, once this legislation is passed, to proceed carefully and not to get overrun with consequences of development that none of us ever expect until after they have happened.
Before we get development we only see the potential benefits of a greater assessment base for the local council, more jobs to keep people in the area and with that more housing, more families, more schools. As the member for Simcoe West said in his opening remarks, Simcoe county and the soon-to-be amalgamated municipalities we are dealing with in this piece of legislation just will not have the wherewithal on their own to deal with the infrastructure demands development will bring with it, at least in the initial stages.
The Deputy Speaker: Are there questions and comments on the member’s statement? If not, do other members wish to participate in the debate? If not, would the parliamentary assistant wish to wind up?
Mr Ballinger: I will, as well, keep my comments very brief. I want to echo the comments of the member for Simcoe Centre as they relate to the member for Simcoe West. It is always interesting when you are dealing with communities and you have two members from different parties. This is a classic example whereby both members, one on the government side and one on the opposition side, came to the table with the municipalities they represent in the interests of the citizens. I just want to pass that comment on to the member for Simcoe West. It would have been very easy for him to have seized an opportunity to beat the government up and forget what his role is here. He did not do that and we on our side congratulate him.
I know the member for Simcoe West was concerned about one part of section 6 as it related to the bylaws. I would just like to pass this comment on, that the intent of section 6 is to standardize, as anyone can imagine when you are amalgamating several communities together, all the different bylaws and different rules and regulations, and what the ministry is doing here is allowing those municipalities up until 1994 to standardize their bylaws. So in fact after 1994 they have to, if you will, sing out of the same hymn book.
I know that the member for Simcoe West was, as well, concerned about the finances as they relate to the cost of doing those things and the ministry recognizes that. If we could sum up the process that was involved here, I think we could sum it up by saying co-operation, co-operation obviously from the sitting members, as I mentioned, and co-operation between the ministry staff and the municipal staff of all the various municipalities that are affected by this bill.
On page 26, I would like to point out to the member for Simcoe West, section 41 says, “The minister may by order before 1 January 2000, on such conditions as the minister considers appropriate, make grants or loans to the town municipalities, the former municipalities and the county to achieve the purposes of this act.”
Now I know that the member for Simcoe West might say:
“It is all well and good for the parliamentary assistant of the minister to say that. All it is is words in the act.” I would like to remind the member for Simcoe West that we recently did a similar process with the county of Lambton and the city of Sarnia. I think that if any support came out of that particular proposed amalgamation, it was that both parties, both the county and the city, felt and believed they were well served by my ministry and the minister I represent. We had a lot of good comments come back that the ministry did in fact recognize that there were some transitional costs that related to that proposed amalgamation.
I want to assure the member for Simcoe West, as I stand here on behalf of the Minister of Municipal Affairs, that the staff of the ministry will take all of those considerations very seriously and I am sure will come to the table and make sure those municipalities that have supported this proposed amalgamation will be served by our ministry.
Motion agreed to.
House in committee of the whole.
COUNTY OF SIMCOE ACT, 1990
Consideration of Bill 177, An Act respecting the Amalgamation of certain Municipalities in the County of Simcoe.
The Chair: I have in front of me two proposed government amendments, one to section 18 and one to clause 18(4)(b). Do other members have any amendments they would like to bring forward at this moment?
Mr McCague: I presume that the parliamentary assistant is going to bring forth an amendment as discussed previously. If that is the case, there is none from me.
The Chair: Are the two proposed amendments that you are bringing forward giving consideration to what the member for Simcoe West is talking about?
Mr Ballinger: Yes.
Mr Kerrio: You got it, George.
Mr McLean: George drafted that legislation.
Mr McCague: No, I did not. Legal minds in the back row did it.
The Chair: Before we get to that, shall sections 1 to 17 carry?
Some hon members: Carried.
The Chair: I presume you will want to deal with clause 18(4)(b) first.
Mr McCague: I am sorry. I did not hear what you said. Would you repeat what you said?
The Chair: I was told by the parliamentary assistant that your concern was being addressed by one of these two proposed amendments. The parliamentary assistant answered yes, that your concern --
Mr McCague: Did I hear you pass all sections up to 18?
The Chair: That is right, sections 1 to 17.
Mr McCague: I objected. I could not hear you and you could not hear me.
The Chair: Pardon me. No, I did not hear you. You voted, I presume, not to carry sections 1 to 17. Is that correct?
Mr McCague: That is right.
The Chair: All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
Mr McCague: I think that there was nothing said for a long time as you looked over the bill. There were a few things that I raised in my opening comments on which I would just like to get a word at least from the minister. They did apply to certain sections. I think you moved rather quickly.
The Chair: Did you want to make some remarks? Is that what I am trying to get from you? If you want to make some remarks, do you want to make them on section 1?
Mr McCague: In the first instance, I raised a question regarding section 6, and the easy answer that was given to me by the parliamentary assistant was this was all to standardize the bylaws.
The Chair: Could I ask you, how many sections would you like to address? Which one of the sections would you like to address? Usually at the beginning what I do is list to which sections the members would like to make comments, ask questions, bring modifications and whatever. Would you have such a list to help me serve you better?
Mr Charlton: Section 6.
The Chair: There is at least section 6.
Mr McCague: Let’s say the first one, which is the name of the bill.
The Chair: That is at the end.
Mr McCague: Sections 1, 6 and 24. That will do.
The Chair: Fair enough. If you want to talk on section 1, let’s address section 1 right now and only section 1. Go ahead.
Mr McCague: That covers almost everything. I raised with the parliamentary assistant the issue of the Development Charges Act, which is not included in this bill. He did not comment on that.
The second question I would like to raise with him, just for my own clarification, is Tecumseth was wondering, or at least was concerned, whichever you choose to use, about the fact that there was no accounting of assets and liabilities with regard to the area that is going from Tecumseth into West Gwillimbury. I might be wrong in what I took from what I was told on that. Maybe the parliamentary assistant could straighten me out.
Mr Ballinger: Can I move down to the front, please, Mr Chairman?
The Chair: Please go ahead.
Mr Ballinger: May I bring the staff in to assist the member for Simcoe West and myself?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr Ballinger: I apologize, but I just had a chance to get together with the staff here to respond. We wanted to make sure that we respond to the member for Simcoe West.
My understanding, in discussing it with the staff, is that in all the discussions that took place between the amalgamation committee and our staff people of the ministry it was not a point of discussion at all. In fact, why the bill is silent is because there was no discussion or any concern expressed by those parties to the ministry staff.
Mr McCague: The information the parliamentary assistant is giving is no doubt correct. There are several municipalities around the province that are petitioning the ministry to delay the implementation of the Development Charges Act. That petition was endorsed by most if not all of the municipalities within the area we are referring to in this bill. It would have been an opportunity for the government, when we have legislation in front of us, to agree with the municipalities that said we should delay that for a couple of years. It is absent from here and I am sure that the staff are well aware of what the municipalities are trying to convey. I am not critical of the fact that it is not in this bill, but it is an opportunity to put it in, and we have that opportunity right now to put it in if the government would like to do that.
Mr Ballinger: I would love to accommodate the member for Simcoe West, but the problem that I find myself in, on behalf of my minister, is that there was not a request by the municipalities to do that. If I did not sort of reiterate anything in my closing comments, the point here is that this has been a really co-operative effort on behalf of all of the affected municipalities and the ministry. My understanding is that there is sort of a commonality here as far as they are concerned. Because that was not expressed, I see no reason at this time why we should consider making that an amendment to the bill.
Mr McCague: That is not one of the parliamentary assistant’s better explanations. If the glad hand is out today, why do we not keep it going.
Mr Ballinger: My mother thought I was pretty good.
Mr McCague: Yes, your mother would. My mother will be listening today too.
I think the staff will admit to him that the resolution to which I am referring has been circulated to the ministry by many, many municipalities. In talking to the ministry about four weeks ago, about mid-May, to see what might be done about this motion about delaying development charges, I feel certain that we got this information from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, in which it was said that the only opportunity to deal with this as far as the town of Alliston was concerned would have been through this bill. It is just not shown in the bill, and I can only presume that the government does not want to do it at this late date, or in fact at any other date. All the parliamentary assistant has to tell me is that the government does not want to do it.
Mr Ballinger: With the greatest respect to the member for Simcoe West, we do not want to do it.
Mr McCague: Just one other comment, Mr Chairman:
That is probably the most honest, best answer that has been given in this House in the year 1990.
Section 1 agreed to.
The Chair: The member for Simcoe West wants some discussion on section 6. Before he proceeds, shall sections 2 to 5, inclusive, carry?
Sections 2 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr McCague: Section 6, I am told, is a very expensive section.
Hon Mr Sorbara: What would he know about Simcoe county?
Mr McCague: A lot more than the member knows about York. On section 6, especially the first part, the parliamentary assistant gave the answer that the reason for this is to standardize. I suggested to him that this was a very expensive section, but that in fairness there probably was not a better way to write it. All I do is raise it for him because it was raised for me by a constituent municipality.
Mr Ballinger: We appreciate the comments of the member for Simcoe West. As members can well imagine, when you are amalgamating the number of local municipalities that it is being proposed to amalgamate within this bill, there are literally thousands and thousands of bylaws. The whole purpose of this section of the bill, as I said previously, is to standardize. I know that the member for Simcoe West is concerned about the related finances. Just think of the work that has to be done. Somebody is going to have to put together all of these different bylaws to have some reasonable standards, so that if you are one municipality --
Mr Haggerty: A lawyers’ field day.
Mr Ballinger: Lawyers or consultants. Many times, through amalgamation, municipalities will use a special consultant who will come in and take that heavy workload away from the staff to bring back recommendations that relate to standardized bylaws.
I just want to reiterate that our ministry co-operated tremendously with the county of Lambton and the city of Sarnia in that particular bill, that newly amalgamated county. I want to suggest to the member for Simcoe West -- I would tell him to trust us because we are the government, but I know that would not buy me very much time with him. But history, in the past couple of years, has proven that our ministry is co-operating with those amalgamated municipalities because it recognizes the financial needs of especially the smaller municipalities when it relates to standardizing bylaws. I cannot give the member a dollar figure; all I can tell him is that we have been recently co-operating with those municipalities.
Mr McCague: I am quite happy to get a comment of moderation out of the parliamentary assistant. That will serve well. The Hansard gets recorded, and if any problems come up, those words will be repeated to him time and time again. I thank him very much for them.
Mr Chairman, it might be slightly out of a particular section, but if you just allow me a couple more comments: In regard to the Tecumseth-West Gwillimbury change of properties, the moving of the line and the opportunity for rationalizing assets and liabilities, is that settled now or is there an opportunity to settle that yet?
Mr Ballinger: I apologize to the member for Simcoe West. Geographically he knows the area much better than I do and the boundaries that were moved. I am advised by the staff, and they are both on the hook if the information I am about to give the member for Simcoe West is not correct, that his point is well taken.
There will be an opportunity when the new county study is done for those boundaries -- again, there could be some additional shifting that would allow that particular area to grow in assessment growth that would help offset whatever may have been lost from this particular amalgamation.
Mr McCague: The member just reminded me of something I almost forgot.
Mr Ballinger: I am sorry about that.
Mr McCague: When the minister was making the announcements regarding this new area, he laid particular emphasis on the fact that one thing that was not accomplished through this exercise was including in this amalgamated area the area in the vicinity of Alliston, which was really the area which Alliston serves. Does he have the same commitment as the minister had to addressing that problem through the study of the rest of Simcoe county?
Mr Ballinger: I guess I am in an awkward position, being the parliamentary assistant. I am not the minister and I certainly cannot speak for him. If that is the commitment the minister gave, then I would like to reiterate to the member for Simcoe West, if my minister, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, gave that commitment, then that commitment still stands.
Mr McCague: I presume it would stand if at the time that happens the parliamentary assistant happens to be the minister.
Mr Ballinger: I thank the member very much for the promotion. I will gladly take it. The answer to the question is yes.
Mr McCague: Just a couple more. The honourable member, in answer to the question I raised about money, read me a fancy section -- I do not need to use the number, Mr Speaker, because you will say I am jumping ahead if I do -- which says the minister may give money. Can the parliamentary assistant tell me whether our chances are any better with this section written in the bill, or if it were not in the bill, of getting money?
Mr Ballinger: The member for Simcoe West is really trying to get a commitment out of me. I am just the assistant. I cannot give a financial commitment and he knows that full well. I would just like to reiterate the comment that I think the reputation of my minister speaks for itself.
The past experience of the ministry in working with tough amalgamations, where we understand the emotional trauma that takes place when you are amalgamating smaller municipalities -- the track record of the ministry is yes, in fact we have come to the table financially, and the member can rest assured that we will continue to do so.
Mr McCague: All I want to point out to the parliamentary assistant is that what he said does not satisfy the member for Simcoe Centre or myself. When I said we needed money, he very proudly read out a section that says that the minister may by order before 1 January 2000 on such conditions as he, and so and so forth, give us the money.
I understand that, but what I am telling the parliamentary assistant is he may give us some tomorrow if he wants and he does not need this bill passed or anything else. But we are going to need money and considerable sums of it. He felt that was a sop to me. I am telling him it is nonsense to have that section as his word to say that we are going to get some money. I want to know that we are going to get the money. It says “may”; if it said “will,” it would be great.
Mr Ballinger: I am surprised at the member for Simcoe West, who was a member of the cabinet for a number of years. Very seldom are pieces of legislation written with “will”; mostly they say “may.” They are at the will of the minister at the time.
Quite honestly, in this particular case that is written in that bill because, as the member knows full well, governments change from time to time and ministers change. That commitment by our ministry is there, that whoever is interpreting that bill in the future will realize that there was a 10-year commitment by the ministry to recognize that, in those affected municipalities that were amalgamated, there may be some undue costs.
Two, three, four or five years from now, whoever is here cannot say to those affected municipalities: “There was no commitment by us. We did not know anything about it.” It is specifically written in the bill for that reason, but the minister of the day will make the decision regarding the amount of money and where it is distributed.
Mr McCague: The honourable member might be getting a little excited so I guess we could proceed to the next area where I --
The Chair: The member for Simcoe West, are you finished with section 6?
Mr McCague: Certainly.
Section 6 agreed to.
The Chair: Your next topic is section 24. Is that not correct? Before we proceed, we have government amendments to section 18.
Sections 7 to 17, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Ballinger moves that clause 18(4)(b) of the bill be amended by striking out “general vote of the electors in the areas served by the commission” in the third and fourth lines and substituting “wards.”
Do you have an opening statement, parliamentary assistant?
Mr Ballinger: I was going to say it is a minor and simple amendment, but I am not going to do that because of the frame of mind the member for Simcoe West is in. I would just like to point out that there was some concern about this amendment in which the member for Simcoe West participated on behalf of the municipalities that he represents.
There was some genuine concern that without a ward system in the one newly proposed amalgamated area that the member for Simcoe West represents, quite innocently all of the members of the PUC could come out of one of the larger populated areas. So the purpose of the wards system is to protect that whole new geographic area regardless of the population size. There will be a geographically defined area that a representative could come from. Quite frankly, that will more effectively give better representation for the new municipality.
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Ballinger moves that section 18 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsections:
“(4a) For the purpose of clause (4)(b), the minister may, by order,
“(a) establish the number of wards, the boundaries of the wards, the number of members of the commission, up to a maximum of two members, to be elected from each ward, and;
“(b) provide additional qualifications for the members of the commission to be elected from each ward.
“(4b) An order under subsection (4a) may provide for a different number of members to be elected from different wards.
“(4c) An order under subsection (4a) shall come into effect on 1 December 1991, but the regular election held in 1991 shall be conducted as if the order was in effect.
“(4d) Section 5, except subsection (5), applies with necessary modifications to the matters set out in clause (4a)(a).
“(4e) The minister, after an order has been issued by the municipal board under subsection (4d), may, by order, provide additional qualifications for the members of the commission to be elected from each ward.”
Mr Ballinger: I think this particular amendment is quite self-explanatory.
Mr McCague: The parliamentary assistant might tell me what happens. There were two issues, the wards system, which is addressed here, and the other one, which may well be addressed here. As I understand it, the new amalgamated town will have five wards, and there are three public utilities commissions: Alliston, Tottenham and Beeton. It is going to be necessary for those three wards that encompass those municipalities to be the designated wards for voting, but the urban section may be only a very small part of the total ward. In other words, you have an area represented by Ontario Hydro and one by the local PUC, as it was known.
Through these amendments, can one of the qualifications for voting be that you are a user of the present public utilities commission system versus Ontario Hydro, which handles the rural area?
Mr Ballinger: Yes. I am advised by the staff that that is the intent of the proposed amendment.
Mr McCague: Does the parliamentary assistant have any particular comment he could make at this time as to whether it would be wise to have a section which allowed for a vote only by the public utilities users within a ward?
Mr Ballinger: To the member for Simcoe West, bearing with me on this, I just knew that I was not going to be able to get this particular amendment through quite as quickly as I had hoped. I am advised by the staff that the purpose of this, especially when they are starting out with a certain number of wards and, as the member knows, things happen -- population and size as well as the qualifications may change, and consequently the size and the makeup of those wards may change as well in the future.
Mr McCague: I guess I am not going to get an answer to my question. This is what the parliamentary assistant gets paid for. So what?
Mr Ballinger: This is why they brought me today. I was nice to the member all day.
Mr McCague: The parliamentary assistant cannot buy me.
If there was a ward made up of an area that was served by the Alliston public utilities commission and an equal-sized area which was represented by Ontario Hydro, does the parliamentary assistant then feel it is necessary to have everybody within the ward vote on the public utilities commission, or can it be split so that just those who are users of the former Alliston PUC services would get a vote?
Mr Ballinger: I want to advise the member for Simcoe West that the purpose of the amendment, of course, is that this is what they requested, and the ministry has responded by proposing the exact amendment that they requested, which recognizes exactly that.
Mr McCague: I think that means yes, the ministry is satisfied that those customers who are now being served by a public utilities commission other than Ontario Hydro could be the only ones to vote on a power commission. I think that is what it means.
Mr Ballinger: With the greatest respect, if it would help the member for Simcoe West to hear it from me so that it is recorded in Hansard, the answer is yes.
Mr McCague: I thank the parliamentary assistant.
The Chair: Any other comments? Any other questions? Are we ready for the vote?
Motion agreed to.
Section 18, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 19 to 23, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr McCague: Probably the parliamentary assistant would be good enough to tell me why the date could not be changed in subsection 24(2) to read 1992.
Mr Ballinger: I am advised, and I had the opportunity earlier to speak to the member for Simcoe West about this, originally the Ministry of Energy wanted 31 December 1990, and the committee had sort of made a counterproposal of 1992.
In discussion, as always in any negotiations, there was a saw-off or a tradeoff which brought it around to 31 December 1991.
I am advised by the staff that the Ministry of Energy could see no reason why all of that could not be done by 1991. It was certainly a year longer, or six or seven months longer, than they had originally anticipated.
Mr McCague: Just a short one. There is a reason why and it is something to do with some studies. If the parliamentary assistant would just find out what those studies are and put them on the record, I would appreciate it.
Mr Ballinger: I guess I could respond from personal experience -- I used to be chairman of the Uxbridge Hydro Electric Commission for a number of years. Because of regional government, we had an urbanized, local PUC but serviced in the rural area by Newmarket, which was the Newmarket office of Ontario Hydro.
We had undergone several studies to ascertain Ontario Hydro’s assets and all of the write-downs, and the capital equipment was there. This is precisely what has transpired here. It is the same sort of study. From now until that date, they will be able to bring forth some finalized figures, costs, so that in fact the members of the urbanized area, the serviced PUC area, will have some fiscal idea of what the cost would be to expand into the rural areas.
Mr McCague: I probably will not get another chance to thank the parliamentary assistant for his forthright answers. As far as I am concerned, he can zip right through the rest of the bill.
Mr Ballinger: I would not mind closing by thanking the member for Simcoe West, but I was assured by both him and the member for Simcoe Centre that they really did want very fast passage of this bill.
Section 24 agreed to.
Sections 25 to 57, inclusive, agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr Ballinger, the committee of the whole reported one bill with certain amendments.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Adams moved, on behalf of Mr Bradley, second reading of Bill 220, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.
Mr Adams: Today, I am pleased to introduce for second reading Bill 220, which provides amendments that improve and strengthen the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act in three ways: They allow a swifter, more effective way of dealing with environmental emergency situations that require immediate environmental abatement; they allow effective abatement and cleanup measures to pre-empt potential environmental emergencies, and they allow better approaches to cleanup, cost recovery and convicting and penalizing pollution offenders.
Our amendments complement a bill being introduced by the Solicitor General to strengthen the emergency provisions under the Ontario fire code. Under the revised legislation, the Ministry of the Environment can impose conditions in an approval or order which take effect immediately, even if the subject of the order decides to appeal.
The ministry could also apply and enforce orders against any prior owners of a property who may ultimately be accountable for an environmental hazard. In addition, the new order powers also allow the ministry to specify that the government will take charge of certain activities in response to an emergency to ensure that the best expertise and skills are applied to the problem.
The automatic stay provided for under the existing appeals mechanism will now be eliminated. If any persons do not wish to take action because of an appeal, they must apply to the appeal board for permission to stay action pending the appeal. This stay cannot be granted if any health or safety danger might result from delay. Even when a stay is granted, the ministry will have the authority to proceed with appropriate action and expect to recover costs.
The amendments allow the ministry to carry out any necessary work and then charge the costs back to the person or person in default of an order. This cost recovery can be made either by means of court judgement or through the land tax system against the property itself. In this way costs can be collected like property taxes and the ministry has a priority claim against property value. Certificates prohibiting dealing with specific real estate without notice can be registered on title for the protection of potential purchasers.
To minimize a dispute in an environmental emergency, we have reworded the legislation to remove any doubt of the ministry’s power to enter property to meet the demands of the emergency.
The revisions will also extend limitation periods. It now becomes explicit that the ministry may lay charges within two years of an offence occurring or within two years of the date the ministry first became aware of the offence.
The ministry can and intends to prosecute polluters who attempt to conceal their pollution by, for example, burying drums of hazardous waste.
Under these amendments maximum penalties are doubled in several areas. A corporation previously subject to penalties up to $100,000 for a first offence and $200,000 for subsequent offences involving damage to the environment will now face maximum penalties of $200,000 and $400,000 respectively.
In cases involving liquid industrial or hazardous wastes where damage occurs, the maximum penalties for individuals rises from $25,000 for a first offence and $50,000 for subsequent offences to $50,000 and $100,000. The maximum corporate penalties for first and subsequent convictions also rise from $500,000 and $1 million to the new range of $1 million and $2 million.
We expect these amendments to benefit the environment and the people of Ontario in three ways. They will provide for swift and effective response to existing and potential environmental emergencies, with a minimum of delay. They will ensure that the polluter pays the costs resulting from pollution, rather than the taxpayer. Third, they will provide stronger ground for prosecuting polluting offences, especially surreptitious ones, and they provide stiffer penalties for polluters.
The Deputy Speaker: Are there any questions and comments on the parliamentary assistant’s statement?
Mrs Grier: I have a question that I think would be helpful, if the parliamentary assistant might explain. At the time when these amendments were introduced, I am sure all members will remember the somewhat crisis situation after the Hagersville tire fire and the very strong commitment from the Ministry of the Environment and the Solicitor General that they would introduce the amendments, some of which we are addressing today, but also the amendments that the parliamentary assistant has mentioned that the Solicitor General was going to introduce to the fire code. I am wondering if perhaps we could hear from the representative of the government when we might expect to see tabled and have an opportunity to debate the companion legislation to this, the amendments to the fire code.
Mrs Marland: Just to enforce the same question from our party, we have a very real concern about the fact that the government is not bringing forth the Fire Marshals Act amendments at the same time it is introducing this bill. It just does not seem to make sense not to make the complete adjustments that it has already acknowledged are necessary, so we certainly share the same question of the parliamentary assistant.
Mr Adams: I am interested in the question posed by the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore and the member for Mississauga South. I regret to say I am the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of the Environment rather than the parliamentary assistant to the Solicitor General and I cannot at this time give a response to their question.
If I might, while I have the floor, add something to my remarks there. As members know, the Council of Ministers of the Environment, that is to say, the provincial and federal ministers of the environment, have developed a protocol to deal with the so-called orphan sites across the country. This is to deal with, as I understand it, the cleanup of certain sites under a joint provincial-federal cost-sharing arrangement. One of the advantages, we believe, of the legislation which is before us is that the amendments enhance the province’s ability to deal with these so-called orphan sites under the federal-provincial cost-sharing arrangements.
I have relatively little more to say, although I have my eye on the clock, but I might add that we do expect that the Solicitor General will be introducing his legislation in the relatively near future.
Mrs Grier: I welcome the information that the Solicitor General will be introducing his amendments in the relatively near future. I would merely point out to the member for Peterborough that the near future is very limited if we are in fact to have the amendments that were considered so essential in March in place before this place rises on 28 June.
However, I argued in March that the amendments that are before us today were not particularly necessary; the amendments to the Environmental Protection Act that the minister said would have prevented the Hagersville fire were not required for the Minister of the Environment to have prevented the fire that took place and the tragedy, in terms of the environment and the lives of the people of Hagersville, which occurred as a result of that fire.
I suspect it would be uncharitable of me, given the fact that the Minister of the Environment is indisposed, to reflect on his actions at that time, but I have to say that I think the speed with which he announced the introduction of amendments to the Environmental Protection Act was in large part an excuse to somehow hide his failure to act under the existing Environmental Protection Act in order to take strong action against the owner of the Hagersville tire dump.
Our reasons for believing that the minister already had the power to act under the Environmental Protection Act were clearly enunciated in the emergency debate that took place on a motion of mine declaring non-confidence in the government. That debate occurred on 21 March of this year. Had the minister been on top of the situation, had he used the existing legislation to its fullest, he would have been in a position to lift the stay on the control order that was used by the owner of the tire dump as an excuse not to get on with the cleanup. Let there be no doubt about that. It was this government’s failure to use the existing mechanisms that led to that dump, not any failure on the part of the Environmental Protection Act.
In fact, one of the excuses the Minister of the Environment gave in the days following the Hagersville tire fire, one of the excuses for his lack of action, was really quite a shocking excuse. He pointed out to us, to the leader of my party and myself, that we had never raised the question of tire dumps in the House, seeming to imply that the fact we had not raised the issue somehow let him off the hook for not acting strongly to prevent the fire or to ensure the cleanup of the dump.
I want to remind the parliamentary assistant today that since that time we have certainly raised on a number of occasions the issues to which he is today responding. In fact, I put a private member’s bill before the House on 22 March that reversed the onus for the staying of control orders, which is part of the amendments that are before us today. The member for Hamilton West raised questions in the House as to when we might expect to be dealing with the amendments that are before us today and particularly when we might expect to see the amendments from the Solicitor General, because he has a very real concern that the Musitano dump adjacent to his riding could cause us the same problems as did the Hagersville one.
Having raised the issues on numerous occasions, we are glad today to have an opportunity to participate in a debate about the specific amendments that the government has seen fit to introduce and that were introduced three months after the fire, on 13 June. Of course, we have no hesitation in supporting the bill that is before us today and, I hope, supporting the amendments to the fire code when they come in.
We welcome the fact that the Ministry of the Environment has used the opportunity not only to close what it felt were loopholes or elements in the Environmental Protection Act, that prevented it from acting as swiftly and as strongly as it alleges it would have liked to have acted, but also to expand and clarify the conditions under which it may step in, the conditions under which a control order can in fact be stayed, the conditions under which the ministry can move in and do the work and give itself the right of entry and increase the level of fines.
We welcome and will support all of those aspects of the bill that is before us today. Particularly, I am glad the ministry has moved to reverse the onus on the staying of a control order. I think it is entirely appropriate that the onus is now put on the applicant to justify why in fact operation of the control order ought to be stayed. I hope this will effectively prevent somebody on whom a control order is issued from using the legal process to stall action under that control order. I hope the ministry in its turn will be vigilant in making sure that the order given is carried out as expeditiously as possible.
I welcome the fact that the ministry can move in and do the work that is required even if there is a staying of the control order, and can submit an itemized bill which can then be put on the municipal taxes or enforced in the civil courts. This is entirely appropriate, in our opinion, and is long overdue. I am glad we are going to have a clarification of the conditions under which this action may be taken, because it is important that there be no doubt in anybody’s mind that if a control order from the Ministry of the Environment is not obeyed, very swift and very strong action will be taken to make sure that it is obeyed.
The powers of entry that the government is giving itself through this bill are very broad. I confess to being somewhat surprised that the government was prepared to ask for such broad powers of entry. I know that many municipalities have addressed that issue in their attempts to enforce zoning provisions under the Planning Act or even property standards elements. My own municipality, Etobicoke, has raised that with the Minister of Municipal Affairs on a number of occasions. Let me perhaps serve notice that the very broad powers of entry being given to this ministry, which are justified in an effort to protect the environment, may well be used as a model for other pieces of legislation that would give other elements the right to have similar powers of entry.
We also will support the increase in fines and penalties. In the happy days of minority government, I was able to have an amendment accepted by the Minister of the Environment to set that $1-million limit for deliberate pollution, and I am glad now to see that the ministry is moving legislation that would increase that even further. I look forward to another minority government in the not-too-distant future when perhaps my amendments will again be accepted and we can increase the minimum fines, an element that I see is unaddressed by the legislation that is before us today.
I find it interesting that some of the initiatives being taken by the ministry under the heading of this bill, in the need to fight the tire fire, are actions that I think deserve to have been taken in their own right and did not need to wait for the excuse provided by the tire fire to be put in place.
The element of the sale of contaminated land and providing that notice be given to a prospective purchaser is something that has been of particular interest to me because of the loss of industry in my own riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore. We have seen a number of occasions where industrial sites that were known to be contaminated are not required to be decommissioned in an environmentally sensitive way. This ministry only has guidelines to the decommissioning of industrial sites and has no provision generally, up to now, where a prospective purchaser had to be warned about contaminated land.
I suspect the ministry does not have an inventory of contaminated sites when industries do close down. It would be very nice to see that in place and to see some stricter rules with respect to decommissioning. In fact, I would like to see, as there is in some other jurisdictions, a law on decommissioning as opposed to the guidelines, and I regard the elements in this bill that go in a minuscule way in that direction as a positive step.
The cleanup fund is another item which has been of concern with us and which we have raised on many occasions. The government’s response has hitherto been totally inadequate. So I am pleased they are using this legislation as a way of clarifying that this government is eligible for the federal funds under the proposal by the Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers.
Another interesting element in the bill is the section in the amendment to the Ontario Water Resources Act that will make it correspond to the proposals under the Environmental Protection Act and will give the ministry the power to step in, should a utility or an industry not be living up to a control order with respect to discharges to the waterways. I suspect it was the intent of the ministry that this would be applied against industries such as pulp and paper mills, but I find it interesting it is giving itself this power at the same time as the Treasurer is suggesting that we ought to have a public utility to build sewage treatment plants and water control systems in the province, an element that we in this party will be opposing when it comes about.
I find it interesting that the Ministry of the Environment, perhaps in anticipation of that, is giving itself the power to step in should a privately run sewage treatment plant not be run in accordance with the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act. I find it interesting, and worrisome, if the ministry has contemplated that privately run utilities would not be run in an environmentally safe manner.
I have a couple of more points I would like to make, but I see the clock is running down.
On motion by Mrs Grier, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 1801.