36e législature, 1re session

L047 - Tue 26 Mar 1996 / Mar 26 Mar 1996

















































The House met at 1332.




Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Never has a father's love been more apparent, and unless you have experienced -- as have the members for Parry Sound, Algoma and Brant-Haldimand -- the loss of a loved one, you cannot appreciate the love of a father.

I speak today on Mr Zenha's behalf. Joe's vigil is over. Mr Zenha doesn't know who changed their mind. Mr Zenha doesn't know why there was a change of mind. What Mr Zenha does know is that the decision made is a first major step in Andeana's recovery. She and her mother will fly to Texas immediately, where treatment will begin, providing the 17-year-old with a new lease on life.

Joe has asked that I thank publicly all those in this House who effected this decision. Joe wants me as well to thank the people of Sudbury and to thank the people of Ontario for their massive show of support through letters, prayers, money, faxes and in many, many different ways. Finally, Joe wants me to tell the House that often the best solutions are achieved when legislators drop their ideological differences and work together for what is right.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): On Monday morning of this week, I attended a meeting in Sault Ste Marie and a press conference of health professionals and consumers to defend the right of workers to have a say in how their workplace changes and how the services they deliver get restructured and to raise a red flag regarding the cuts to health care implemented and expected by this government.

Jobs and services are under attack in an unprecedented way across the province as the Harris agenda unfolds. Sault Ste Marie is very vulnerable and in double jeopardy in any exercise of major downsizing in the public sector. Jobs we lose are very difficult to replace, and it's not just a matter of a short drive down the road once we lose a service. As it relates to our health care and, most particularly, our hospitals in Sault Ste Marie, we have done the work, we have streamlined. Any further cuts will most certainly mean a reduction in both the amount and the quality of service.

I will not stand by and watch services move to Sudbury or Toronto, places experiencing their own cutbacks. I will not support contracting out that sees jobs and money leave my community. I understand the difficult challenge faced by the boards and administration of our now, for all intents and purposes, one hospital; however, I do not think we should simply be compliant. We have to fight back. Quality of services, indeed quality of life and the very viability of our community are at risk here.

I have people calling me and coming to my office telling me stories of their disappointment, frustration and pain as they and their loved ones try to access the medical --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member's time has expired.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I stand to mark the passing of a wonderful citizen, Mr Raymond T. Driscoll of Otonabee township near Peterborough. Ray served his country, his community and his family. He served in the navy during the Second World War, was elected as school trustee, hospital board member and reeve for many years. In his untimely death, Ray leaves behind his wife, Lillian, and children, Julie, Daniel, Richard, Jane, Jill and Joann. Raymond T. Driscoll was my uncle and a lifelong role model for me and others in the community. I trust all members of this Legislature will join with me and extend our thanks to people like Ray Driscoll who serve their community with distinction.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a lot of questions.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Oh, oh.

Mr Duncan: "Oh, oh" is right.

What do you call it when you adopt the failed policies of the Republican Party and Newt Gingrich? What do you call it when you brand all of those who disagree with you as special interests? What do you call it when you cry about a debt load and then proceed to borrow $5 billion for a tax cut? What do you call it when you bring in a tax cut and then introduce massive new user fees, cut public education and close hospitals? What do you call a job creation plan that involves getting rid of teachers and firing 20,000 civil servants? What do you call it when you label environmental safeguards as useless red tape? What do you call it when your idea of getting tough on crime means reducing the number of police officers?

The answer to all of these questions is one word: Mikeonomics. It's been tried in many places and many times. However, the lessons of history are something that Mikeonomics has chosen to ignore. This should come as no surprise because Mike Harris himself once said, "Too much knowledge is a dangerous thing." This statement is a good illustration of the intellectual roots of Mikeonomics, which are the same as those of weather forecasting: rarely accurate, devoid of memory and therefore cheerful about being wrong. As Ontario prepares itself for this bellyful of Mikeonomics, fasten your seatbelts; it won't be pleasant.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Yesterday we witnessed an unbelievable spectacle: the Premier of the province telling people that his cuts to hospitals, to schools, to communities and to law enforcement have nothing to do with the tax break he is giving to the wealthiest people of the province. The Premier obviously thinks that the people of Ontario can't add and subtract. Let me give the Premier a little arithmetic lesson so he will understand what people in community after community have already figured out.

The budget of the hospital corporation in my constituency has been cut by almost $600,000. The hospital corporation runs a hospital in the town of Fort Frances, one in the village of Emo and one in the village of Rainy River. The hospital corporation knows it will face further cuts of $600,000 next year and another $600,000 the year after that, for a total reduction of $1.8 million over three years. The two small rural hospitals have annual budgets of about $1.5 million per year each.

The board of directors of the hospital corporation is faced with the unsavoury option of closing one of the small rural hospitals because the Premier and the Minister of Health have cut the budgets. The Premier may not be able to figure it out, but the people who live in the small communities of Emo and Rainy River understand that their hospital will be closed and they understand at the same time that while their budget is being cut, the Premier is going to make money available for the wealthiest people in Ontario.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Last Thursday I had the opportunity to travel to Waterloo to discuss education with students from Waterloo Collegiate high school.

Organizers of the debate were disappointed to have to leave an empty chair on the stage for the length of the debate. That empty chair was set for none other than the invisible minister, Elizabeth Witmer, whose riding incidentally we were in that evening. Stranger still was that Minister Witmer couldn't get a Tory member to replace her. I ask, where was the member for the riding of Kitchener, where was the member for Kitchener-Wilmot? How disappointing, given that John Sweeney, also from Kitchener-Wilmot, has shown such leadership in the area of education reform.

When Minister Snobelen released his toolkit -- or as the director for the Waterloo region separate school board calls it, toy kit -- the former chairwoman of the Kitchener board of education, Elizabeth Witmer, was on the phone to her riding at 7 am, apologizing for the government. Yes, even the minister knew the toolkit was useless. She told her people she was trying to make Minister Snobelen understand, but she had failed. Yes, Minister Witmer knows those cuts will affect the classroom.

To the minister from Waterloo we say, "I'm sorry" isn't good enough. Those of us who looked at an empty chair all night think the Conservative members from the Waterloo region did an enormous disservice to their community.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I just came from a mock funeral attended by environmental and housing advocates from across Ontario. We were mourning the loss of affordable housing, apartments in houses, public transit, wetlands and woodlands, biological diversity, specialty crop lands, clean groundwater and public transportation in the planning process. Today, Bill 20, the Tories' new, regressive Planning Act comes a step closer to law.

Over 23,000 people from across Ontario were involved in a four-year process to reform planning in Ontario under the NDP government. A delicate, difficult balance was formed between development and environmental protection interests. Now, in just a few short months, years of reform and public consultation are out the window.

We now have a bill which was written for developers mostly by developers. Mike Harris is sacrificing the environment for profits for his pals. Bill 20 will mean open season for land developers on wetlands, ravines and significant natural features.

I say to this government, they are going to see down the road what a huge mistake they're making, because there are going to be more appeals to the OMB. The laws are now so unclear that people won't know which way is which, and I say, shame on the Minister of Environment and Energy for not getting more involved in this process and for signing off on such a regressive bill.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): Over the weekend, thousands of people across the country and around the world were glued to their television sets watching the 1996 World Figure Skating Championships from Edmonton.

I am pleased that my riding of Simcoe Centre was able to play a part in this spectacular sporting event. Barrie is very fortunate to be home to the Mariposa School of Skating, which has produced world champions Brian Orser and Elvis Stojko. This year, Mariposa sent six national seniors champions to compete for a world title.

Elvis Stojko, Jennifer Robinson and the pairs team of Michelle Menzies and Jean-Michel Bombardier did a fine job for Canada. Across the Atlantic, fans also cheered for Steven Cousins and Markus Leminen, the men's champions from Great Britain and Finland. Both of these athletes train in Barrie.

Not only does Mariposa attract skaters from around the globe, but it encourages the ethics of sportsmanship and hard work among all its athletes. Whether they always bring home a medal, and Mariposa has won many, the people of Simcoe Centre can tell you that, both on and off the ice, the skaters of Mariposa are always first class.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Minister, you will be aware that last September Ontario Hydro issued a discussion paper entitled Competition, Customer Choice and Convergence: A New Structure for Ontario's Electricity Industry. That paper concluded that a total privatization of Ontario Hydro would cause electricity rates to rise by as much as 32%. Lo and behold, when that paper was submitted in January to the provincial commission studying the future of Ontario's electricity system, all references to rate increases caused by privatization had simply disappeared. Minister, what changed between September and January?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. Right now Ontario Hydro is facing some competitive challenges. We have had a number of rate increases over the years. The government has taken its first step in trying to meet those challenges by introducing a rate freeze over five years. In addition to that, we have established the Macdonald commission to look at the competitive issues facing Ontario Hydro, and it is due to report to me at the end of next month. It's my understanding that this commission, in travelling across the province and receiving submissions from a number of groups, has in fact received over 200 submissions.

The member asks me specific information about one of those, that it may have changed from the fall until the time it was submitted. I would say, in response to that, that in meeting with people from the very time I became minister until presently, many of them have come forward with a number of different ideas that changed regularly as they have listened to other ideas being put forward by people with regard to rates. I don't think anyone in the entire world has a definitive answer on what would happen with rates in any situation of change.

Mrs McLeod: I am absolutely amazed that the Minister of Environment and Energy has just referred to the Ontario Hydro management report on what would happen in privatization to hydro rates as "a submission" which could then be changed and altered as different views were heard. Presumably, Ontario Hydro had evidence behind the report that it made public in September that showed hydro rate increases of as much as 32%. Presumably, there was some reason why those estimates disappeared when the report was made by Hydro to the Macdonald commission studying privatization.

The minister will be well aware that in that presentation to the Macdonald commission Ontario Hydro's president, Al Kupcis, said he didn't know, he had no idea, what impact privatization would have on hydro rates.

Minister, I ask you, what prompted you and Hydro officials to back away from the conclusion that they came to in September that privatization would increase rates by up to 32%? While you're at it, don't you think it's irresponsible for Hydro management to make a statement that they have no idea what would happen to rates under privatization?

Hon Mrs Elliott: With all due respect, when someone comes before the Macdonald commission with a report, it is not my report, it is the report of the presenter. It is up to them to put into that submission what they feel is appropriate. This was in fact, if you're referring to Ontario Hydro's report, their report. They are entitled to put in it whatever they choose. I would remind my colleagues that we are about to make changes to Ontario Hydro, so we are the recipient of advice and ideas.

Mrs McLeod: I would, with all due respect, suggest to you, Minister, that there is one real reason behind the change in the report that Hydro put out in September and the report that it made to the Macdonald commission, and that one change was a political appointment, the responsibility of your government and your Premier, and it was the appointment of Mr Bill Farlinger, the Premier's friend and a clear promoter of Hydro privatization as the chair of Ontario Hydro.


Minister, you were quoted last week as saying that the government had not made a commitment to privatize Hydro. But last week Mr Farlinger told the Canadian Club, despite the fact you've got a commission studying it, supposedly independently, "We have to break Hydro up so that we have competition in generation, and that inevitably will involve some privatization."

I suggest to you it is only too clear that you are not prepared to talk about rate increases because the Premier and his friend want to privatize Hydro at any cost for ideological reasons, and damn the impact on the ratepayer.

Minister, will you make public all the information that was used by Hydro last September to conclude that privatization would cause Hydro rates to rise by as much as 32%?

Hon Mrs Elliott: Within Ontario Hydro itself, we have the Power Workers' Union with one opinion, we have the society members with another opinion, we have the managers with another opinion and we have the chairman with yet another opinion. I would put to you that there are hundreds of opinions in this province as to how to go forward with Ontario Hydro.

My commitment, and the commitment of this government, to the people of Ontario is to reform Ontario Hydro with three things in mind: achieving the lowest rates and achieving reliable power and safe power for the people of this province.

Mrs McLeod: I wasn't seeking opinion; I was seeking the minister's concurrence to table evidence, the evidence that Hydro used, and I trust that she will see fit to follow up on that request.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I'll place my second question to the Minister of Education and Training. Minister, you indicated last week that some $1 billion could be saved in what you term non-classroom spending. You implied with your response that boards should not be in the business of laying off teachers and hurting classroom education, in spite of your budget cuts, if they would just somehow cut administration.

We want you today to be a little more specific about what you think can be cut in what you call non-classroom spending. For example, and again I want you to be specific, of the $1 billion that you told us last week could be saved, how much do you feel can be saved through the amalgamation of school boards, and when do you think those particular savings will be realized?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): As the Leader of the Opposition knows, we've had a report on the amalgamation of various school boards across the province. The Sweeney commission reported I believe now about a month ago, and I have asked the MPPs to go out and talk with people in their ridings, because I think it's important that we have a lot of input on this issue. They will report back to me by the end of May and we'll consider the input of MPPs from all parties in this chamber.

Mrs McLeod: The problem is that the budget cuts are happening right now. Any plans you might have, whether through amalgamation or otherwise, to find what you call out-of-classroom savings are not going to be implemented for who knows when, if ever, and in the meantime boards are trying to cope with your funding cuts today, they are laying off teachers and that is going to hurt classroom spending.

I think it's reasonable, Minister, to expect you to be more specific about what you think boards can do now to make those cuts without laying off teachers and without hurting classroom education.

I want to give you one specific example, because you did tell MPPs to go out and talk to their local boards. Let me use my local board, the Lakehead Board of Education, as an example. The only amalgamation that's been recommended with that particular board is amalgamation with an unorganized township of Kashabowie, and yet the Lakehead Board of Education is expected to find, I think, at least $2.5 million in savings to meet your $1-billion target.

I ask you, Minister, do you expect the Lakehead Board of Education to find some of those savings through this amalgamation, and if not, where do you think the Lakehead Board of Education should find $2.5 million in administrative savings?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The ministry will be releasing its grant information to the boards across the province in the very near future, so particular boards will know exactly what the grant formula will be for next year in the very near future.

However, I'd like to point out to the Leader of the Opposition that the Sweeney commission report did not talk simply about amalgamation of boards, and that's not something that we've booked savings to. We most certainly would consider changing the governance structure of education if it led to more affordability, more accountability and a higher quality of education in the province. We'd consider those kinds of governance changes.

I would point out to the Leader of the Opposition that the Sweeney commission identified that 47% of spending on education across the province happens outside of the classroom, by that commission's definition, and that the commission suggested that should be lowered to 40%. I think that if the Leader of the Opposition does some mathematics, she'll find that 7% represents almost $1 billion in savings, so I would recommend to her that she read the report.

Mrs McLeod: I have indeed read the report and I am aware of the total body of recommendations, none of which will be implemented, if this government intends to act on them, in time to stop boards from having to deal with the cuts that will be in the grants announced this week. Those cuts are going to mean teacher layoffs and those cuts are going to mean cuts to classroom education, and this minister refuses to give us any other alternative.

Let me take you back to my specific example, because I want to try to get you past this general statement that you keep making that somehow boards should be able to avoid teacher layoffs by finding this mythical administrative savings cut. The Lakehead board will not find savings from their amalgamation with Kashabowie. You may be aware Kashabowie doesn't have a board of education, it doesn't have any schools, it doesn't have any trustees, it only has three students, and those three students go into school in the Lakehead anyway. That might look like an amalgamation on paper when you point to a list of school boards amalgamated, but they certainly aren't going to find any $2.5 million of savings there.

There's something else that the minister must know, because in your own ministry documents it very clearly shows that the Lakehead Board of Education in 1995 will be spending 88% of its dollars on what your ministry calls instruction. Only 12% of their education dollars are going to everything else, from business administration to general administration, to plant operation and maintenance, to transportation, to capital expenditures and debt charges, and 88% goes to what the ministry calls instruction. Where do you expect that board to find $2.5 million in cuts?

Hon Mr Snobelen: As I said a moment ago, I'm sure the Leader of the Opposition will understand that our grants for the school boards have not been released yet. They will be released in the very near future and we'll know what each individual board will have available in terms of grant next year.

However, though I can't talk specifically about the board-by-board basis, I can talk to the Leader of the Opposition and reaffirm for her that Ontario, by almost anyone's measures, spends significantly more than the national average.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Windsor-Sandwich is out of order.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I believe, and our government believes, that the local boards of education are committed to delivering education in an affordable way to the taxpayers, parents and students of Ontario. I believe, and I'm sure that if the Leader of the Opposition were to look at the various reports that have been done on this subject, there is a lot of room to make improvements in the quality of education in Ontario, without affecting that quality, to find a more affordable system. In fact, I believe we must do that for the future of the students of this province, and that's what this government is committed to.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of the Attorney General. It's following up on the question raised by my colleague from London Centre yesterday regarding what we believe may be a compromising of the integrity of the criminal justice system.

The attorney will know that the government agreed to a public inquiry into the events around this place last Monday. The attorney will also know that at the same time five complaints have been laid with the office of the police complaints commissioner. I want to make clear here that the office of the police complaints commissioner is separate and distinct from the public inquiry that the government has agreed to. As you know, it is an ongoing body that at any time members of the public concerned about the conduct of police officers can lay complaints to under part IV of the Police Services Act.


The office of the police complaints commissioner is a system of civilian review of regional, municipal and OPP conduct. In accordance with the act, a final report of the police complaints commission's investigation will be provided to the commissioner of the OPP, who has the responsibility to decide if there should be disciplinary action or indeed if there should be criminal charges laid or some sort of public inquiry into possible criminal activity.

Does the Attorney General agree that there are two separate processes in place here, one specific to the events of March 18 and the other an ongoing investigating office that deals with police conduct in general?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): We are looking at all of those issues as we attempt to draft terms of reference for this inquiry that will be satisfactory to the opposition. Yes, I do acknowledge that the police complaints commission is independent, that the police complaints commission has complaints before it and that the police complaints commission is dealing with those complaints.

Mr Wildman: I'd like to make clear here that since we are dealing with two separate processes, the Ontario Provincial Police commissioner is ultimately responsible for deciding what disciplinary actions, if any, are warranted against OPP officers, indeed if criminal charges could be laid. The commissioner of the OPP, as the attorney is aware, is directly responsible and accountable to the Solicitor General of this province. The Solicitor General has already stated that in his judgement, the police acted appropriately. As a matter of fact, the solicitor may have prejudiced the outcome of any such investigation by the complaints commissioner, and certainly any response to it by the commissioner of the OPP, because the police involved, or their lawyers, I suspect could claim that the Solicitor General has already been quoted as defending their actions.

As the chief law officer of the province, are you not concerned that the Solicitor General's statements could prejudice the investigation -- we're not talking here about the public inquiry -- and possibly the outcome of the complaints that have been laid before the police complaints commissioner?

Hon Mr Harnick: The office of the police complaints commission investigates independently of the government. The judge who heads that commission will perform that investigation. It's my recollection that what the Solicitor General stated he has always qualified as being those issues he personally observed.

Further, it is important to note that no one has any information about the individual complaints filed, no one knows who filed those complaints, no one knows the nature of those allegations.


Hon Mr Harnick: I appreciate that the opposition asks this question without any intention of listening to the answer, because what they are doing is trying to make one giant stretch that they know they can't make, because those individual investigations that the police complaints commissioner is involved with are known only to the police complaints commissioner. That is the only individual who knows who made the complaints, the facts, the nature of them, and those will be investigated by that independent person.

Mr Wildman: The Attorney General will know clearly that while the investigation by the police complaints commissioner is independent, the results of that investigation go to the commissioner of the OPP, who reports to the Solicitor General of this province.

Since you raised the comments and the sequence of events, perhaps it would be useful to look at the actual quotes. On Tuesday, the Solicitor General was clearly aware -- he indicated he was -- of complaints being laid before the police complaints commissioner, and yet he said, "At the police complaints commission, there are already, I understand, two complaints that are possibly filed; at least they've been filed with the police service and may be formally filed with the police complaints commission, and perhaps others will follow."

Then on Wednesday, on his way into cabinet, after having had the opportunity to view confidential police videotapes, the Solicitor General stated: "I think they," the picketers, "were given fair warning. I think the tape indicates they were given fair warning and the picket lines broke down. I think there has been a breakdown in control by picket captains. In fact, I understand there were even physical altercations between picket captains along the line. I think it indicates that certainly the warnings were delivered in a variety of fashions, through megaphones, through the tapping of the shields, and those kinds of things occurred."

The Solicitor General was clearly aware that the complaints had been made against the police with the commissioner. He had access to confidential information. As the chief law officer of the crown, aren't you afraid that his comments carry a significant amount of weight in this matter, that they could indeed prejudice the actual investigation as perceived, affecting the outcome of the investigation and how the OPP commissioner might act on those outcomes? If that is the case, would you not agree that the Solicitor General should at least step aside while these investigations are ongoing to ensure that there is not any --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question's been asked.

Hon Mr Harnick: First of all, the Solicitor General has nothing to do with these ongoing investigations, and the acting leader of the third party knows that. If we also listen to the remarks of the acting leader of the third party, we know by listening to those remarks that there is not one single thing that he says, not one single thing, that impacts on an individual investigation of private complaints laid before the police complaints commissioner. Not one single thing.

Not only that, but when asked about this --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): What a joke. Go back to private practice.

Hon Mr Harnick: At least I'll have a private practice to go back to, Mr Cooke.

There is not one single thing that is mentioned that impacts on those individual investigations. There is nothing.

Further, the Solicitor General has made it very clear in this House, when asked about it -- and I notice that the opposition is afraid to ask him about it today -- that the observations that he made and that he commented on were what he saw. Again, I reiterate that the Solicitor General has absolutely nothing to do with the investigations that will take place.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): It's very clear that the government is using a double standard around here, and this is a classic case of "That was then and this is now." My question is for the Solicitor General.

Clearly, the response from your Premier yesterday indicates that he doesn't understand the process that's involved in a complaints process. You know very well, Mr Solicitor General, that it's entirely inappropriate for you to comment on issues that are under investigation by the police complaints commission. It is an investigation, and you, of all people, who stood in this House again and again and again over the history of your membership here, know that it is inappropriate for a minister to be involved in any way or make any comment about an investigation, particularly when you are ultimately in charge of the operation.

The issue is totally separate from a public inquiry, as you know, and yet you tried to put this off as a complaint about the public inquiry. It is not, and you know that. You know your comments could influence the result of the investigations.

Let me just remind you that whenever there was any question of integrity or ministerial conduct under the previous government, your caucus was the first to raise concerns. Your Premier was one of the first to raise concerns about ministerial integrity and competence.


On May 28, 1991, for example, in talking about the Solicitor General, Mike Harris said: "The concern was whether the minister's actions were appropriate vis-à-vis the integrity of the arm's length of the justice system." But today the shoe is on the other foot. It is you, Solicitor General, who crossed the line. Will you live up to the words of your own caucus colleagues in similar situations? Will you do the honourable thing and tender your resignation?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I'm not about to take any career counselling from the member for London Centre or her gracious friend Gordon Wilson. I want to say as well that if there's anything shameful it's the conduct of the third party and the member for London Centre and her colleague the acting leader with respect to what they've done in terms of misrepresenting what I said. In terms of taking quotes out of context --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): If the member is so inclined to use the word "misrepresenting," we sometimes find that offensive, and I would ask him if he would consider withdrawing it.

Hon Mr Runciman: If it offends you, Mr Speaker, I will withdraw, but it was quite clear, if you even listened to the tapes, certainly I made it abundantly clear I was not taking sides in what occurred on Monday. I think this is nothing more than very shameful political posturing on the part of the third party.

Mrs Boyd: Both the Solicitor General and the Attorney General have tried to separate their office from the position of their personal views, and in fact the Attorney General said the Solicitor General never commented on anything he didn't see directly. Well, go back to the statement he made on Wednesday morning. He said: "I think there was a breakdown in control by picket captains, and in fact I understand there were physical altercations between picket captains along the line. I think it indicates...." He did not observe that. He may have observed confidential information that was given to him as the Solicitor General as the head of the police force in this province, not that he could use politically to try and lay blame in this case, and that is exactly the issue.

I would tell the Solicitor General that his integrity is clearly tarnished here. He has not lived up to his ministerial responsibilities. He has not kept an arm's-length relationship from the police complaints commission investigation. "The only arm's-length approach we have seen has been an arm's-length approach to accepting ministerial responsibility," said Mike Harris in May 1991, and on June 4, 1991, the now Premier stated in this House: "Not one of us is untouched by the Solicitor General's failure to live up to his ministerial responsibilities. Why will he not show some integrity and at the very least step aside?"

The Speaker: Put your question.

Mrs Boyd: Mr Minister, will you follow your Premier's words, follow his advice and do the right thing before any further damage is done?

Hon Mr Runciman: I indicated earlier that I'm offended by the tone of this questioning. I'm especially offended by the member posing these questions. I want to remind the members of the third party and the members of this House that that member, as the Attorney General, signed a deal with Karla Homolka, a deal with the devil that most Ontarians find completely repugnant. When she's calling for resignations, I ask her to take a long look in the mirror.


The Speaker: Order. Can we get some order in here? The member for Algoma, do you have a point of privilege?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): The Solicitor General, if anything I've ever seen compounded his error before, that performance just now did that in terms of the respect for the justice system in this province. This member, a member of the cabinet, the Attorney General, all of us here and the general public are fully aware that this government asked for an independent investigation of the case the solicitor has just raised, by an independent member of the judiciary, who decided and made a report which was made public that completely accepted and justified the decisions made by the previous administration. As a matter of fact, the Attorney General --

The Speaker: Order. Final supplementary.


The Speaker: Take your seat. Order. There is nothing procedurally out of order in this House.


The Speaker: Order. I recognize the member for London Centre for her final supplementary.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It does concern me that you would feel that there was nothing procedurally out of order in the Solicitor General's response. It seemed to me, and we were obviously totally uninvolved in the questioning, to be an unwarranted personal attack on a former minister of the crown and entirely inappropriate.

The Speaker: Order. Final supplementary.

Mrs Boyd: What the Solicitor General has done is to show his disrespect for the justice system. More than anything else, this demonstrates the inappropriateness of his conduct. The Solicitor General has shown no integrity in the issue at hand around the police complaints investigation. He can stand in this House and first of all not accept his own personal responsibility, and then try to destroy the reputation and the ability of the current Attorney General to accept the kinds of advice that have been given by the judiciary in a case. It's absolutely disgusting and it's very typical of this member -- very typical of this member. It is the way he behaved again and again, going after minister after minister and attacking their personal integrity.


The Speaker: Order.

Mrs Boyd: It is exactly the kind of issue that we ought to be dealing with. If one of our ministers or a minister in the Liberal government had tried to act as judge and jury the way you have, you would have been the first to attack. On June 20, 1994, in this place, Mike Harris said: "Now you are acting like judge and jury and saying, `I'll decide which cases are serious enough that the minister can intervene on or not intervene on.'... She hasn't understood the fair rules of what a minister should do or ministerial conduct at any time that I have seen her in the performance of her duty."

Mr Minister, face up to the fact that you've made a mistake. You've made more than one mistake. You made a very big mistake here today. You commented on issues where you should have known better. You allowed your temper and your own feelings to overcome you in the exercise of your ministerial duties. You have tainted the process, and you are responsible. This is about your ability to act with integrity in this province as the Solicitor General. Step aside.

Hon Mr Runciman: I indicated in the initial answer that the member has been selectively using quotes from a scrum, and if the full quotations were utilized, it certainly was quite clear that I indicated that I would not take any sides and had not reached any judgements with respect to what happened on Monday other than my own personal experiences which I observed when getting through the picket line. I have no intention to resign on the basis of what the member has put forward, and I don't believe there's any justification for the call.



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a question to the Minister of Transportation. Minister, in response to a question on March 20 in the House, you agreed to a third-party independent review of the funding dispute with the Red Hill Creek Expressway in Hamilton. You confirmed this outside the House as well. Let me quote, referring to the minister:

"He says the region's estimates are too rich and is prepared to have a third party intervene. `It would certainly prove one thing -- whether (Regional Chairman) Terry Cooke is right or whether we are right,' Mr Palladini said yesterday. He said he would stand by findings of the review."

Today he is quoted in the Spectator as saying: "There are no more funds. I just don't have the money in my budget. I feel $100 million is one heck of an amount of money to commit to a municipal road at this time."

Minister, let me remind you that the commitment to the expressway was not at this time. The commitment to the expressway was by your Premier, Mr Harris, in December 1994, and that commitment was to fully fund that expressway. You don't realize that the regional numbers are correct. Minister, you don't realize that you have shortchanged the region by $50 million. You are backtracking. You are doing your best to skate and damage control and you have betrayed the region.

Minister, can you tell me what has changed between Thursday and today, why you have gone back on your commitment of a third-party review of the cost of the expressway, and why you have betrayed the region once again?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would just like to, number one, say to the honourable member across the road here that I haven't gone back on my commitment. I've agreed to an independent proposal. I just want to build the highway. That's all I want to do, and we've committed $100 million to do it. So my commitment, this government's commitment, is there. It has not wavered. I don't know what else the honourable member would like me to say.

Mr Agostino: Minister, you obviously have proven once again you don't understand the issue. The regional chairman has said that your $100 million is at least $50 million short. The chairman of the committee has said it's at least $50 million short. It is established that the money you have committed to the expressway will not cover the provincial costs. It is clear you have fallen short by $50 million to the commitment that you made. You are really playing fast and loose with your words here. I really believe your government and yourself have been nothing but masters of deception to the region in the way you have handled this issue.

Your commitment, the commitment that the Premier made in December 1994 for a full six-lane expressway -- let me explain this to you clearly. That commitment would have meant $182 million of provincial money towards the cost. Minister, I realize you're not listening. Just listen for a second so you understand the issue. Minister, the Premier's commitment was of $182 million of provincial money. The scaled-down project is $150 million. What you have given is $100 million. Therefore, there's a $50-million shortfall.

I'm not sure how much more clear I can make it. I'm not sure why you stood here on Thursday and committed to abide by the independent review and today you have said no. Why are you misleading the people of Hamilton, Minister? Why are you telling the House one thing and saying something else outside? Can you tell me, Minister, will you once again have another opportunity here to save the political career of your four Tory members, to go back on the betrayal you have made --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question has been asked.

Mr Agostino: -- to help Hamilton-Wentworth and again commit yourself to a third-party review of the funding and commit yourself to abide by that review to see who is right?

Hon Mr Palladini: I think I would like to go on record that the honourable member is actually misleading the facts, because I agreed to an independent proposal. I'm going to reiterate: I just want to build the expressway.

As far as the funding the member is referring to that this government has committed, number one, there is probably in excess of $80 million that's presently on the ground on the expressway, so if we add the $100 million, it brings it up to $180 million, as he's referring to. But I want to correct the member. There was never a set amount discussed or committed by this government. There were various proposals on how to build a highway, how many lanes, but there was never a set amount.

I want to say to the honourable member once again, and to the people of Hamilton-Wentworth, that this government wants to go ahead and get the job done.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Agostino: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: The minister said I was misleading the House.


Mr Agostino: It's this minister, this government, that make it clear he is misleading the House.

The Speaker: Order. I wish the members would not use that word any longer. It's been used by you, it's been used by him, and I would ask you to reconsider and not use that word "mislead."


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Attorney General. Recognizing that both he and his colleague the Solicitor General carry a very important portfolio for the protection of the administration of justice in this province, I have in my hand the news release that was issued by the Attorney General on March 18, following the publication by the Honourable Patrick Galligan of his findings, in which the Attorney General said: "I am accepting Mr Galligan's advice. This government will move quickly to take action on the two recommendations made by Mr Galligan." He further stated: "Mr Galligan stated that the decision taken by the prosecutors was driven by sheer necessity. The authorities were faced with the unpleasant fact that if Paul Bernardo was to be prosecuted for murder, it was essential that they have Karla Homolka's evidence and cooperation."

After hearing the response of the Solicitor General to the second question of my colleague from London, when he was dealing with issues related to the investigation by the police complaints commission, does the Attorney General believe that the comments made by his colleague were appropriate with regard to the Homolka case and Mr Galligan's recommendations? If he doesn't believe they were appropriate, does he repudiate them and does he regret the fact that the Solicitor General didn't have at least the compunction to withdraw his remarks subsequently?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to say for the record that those comments were made independently and inappropriately, and I withdraw them.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I fully subscribe to the remarks that I made about Mr Justice Galligan's report. I indicated very clearly what my position was. Certainly, the Solicitor General has now indicated that those remarks were his own and that they were independent.

Mr Wildman: We appreciate that the Solicitor General has withdrawn his remarks now rather than when he could have done it before. I also regret the fact that he has seen fit to leave the House in the middle of a question that deals specifically with his integrity.

Since the Attorney General and the Solicitor General were dealing with the issue that we raised in terms of the Solicitor General's comments in relation to the police complaints commission investigation, is the Attorney General aware that in the press on March 21, the public domain, the Solicitor General is quoted as saying:

"I think the tape" -- that is the confidential OPP tape to which the Solicitor General has access as the minister responsible for the police -- "indicates (strikers) were given fair warning and that the picket lines broke down. I think there was a breakdown in terms of control by picket captains."


Doesn't that indicate that the Solicitor General has taken a position with regard to the situation on the picket line and the actions of the police, and if that does, does that not then in a general sense -- not specific to what the Solicitor General himself saw -- perhaps prejudice the investigation by the police complaints commissioner?

Hon Mr Harnick: I reiterate my remarks that the police complaints commissioner investigates independently. He is an independent individual who has no connection with the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

Further, as I indicated before, the particular issues that we are dealing with involve individual complaints, of which no one other than the police complaints commissioner has any information. We have no information as to who filed the complaints. That is within the realm of the police complaints commissioner. We have no information as to the nature of those complaints. We have no information as to who is involved in those complaints.

So it is something to which there is no connection, and that is why the police complaints commissioner will continue, as he is obligated to do, to investigate the complaints that have been put before him and at the same time we have indicated that we are going to have a public inquiry into the nature of everything that went on on that Monday, and we are in the course of trying to deal with terms of reference that will satisfy the opposition parties, who have given us their input, and we are now weighing that information.


Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Minister, in the north end of the city of Etobicoke is a stretch of highway that is currently the responsibility of your ministry. This roadway, Highway 27, has businesses adjacent to it which cannot build laneways for access because the speed limit is too high. I am pleased to note that the city has supported the businesses' interest to have the speed limit lowered. I would like to know what your ministry can do to help solve the problem.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): This government is committed to ensuring municipalities have the freedom and flexibility to make decisions about their road system. Highway 27 is a road which serves mostly a local purpose and it just doesn't make sense for the provincial government to support these types of roads.

Highway 27 is one of the roads which we are going to be looking to transfer, allowing the municipality to make the decisions on its own. This could mean a huge reduction of red tape for businesses who no longer would have to go through several weeks of levels of approvals in order to get businesses going. Less red tape, less time and less hassle can lead to businesses with more time to make money and invest in this province.

Mr Ford: I'm certainly glad to hear that. By way of supplementary, I'd like to ask when the minister expects Highway 27 to be transferred.

Hon Mr Palladini: This government will always show responsibility. In order to allow municipalities some time to adjust, we are looking at phasing in transfers over a three-year period. As far as Highway 27, I am not exactly sure at what time, but this process will begin sometime in April 1997. We are going to be phasing in numerous highways across this province. We've already started that process and we are going to be phasing in more highways in 1997. Eventually we hope to achieve what this government wants to achieve in the best interests of fiscal responsibility and hopefully finish by April 1998. But we will allow municipalities ample time to make the adjustments in order to meet their commitments.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a question for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. On November 29, you, the Minister, ordered the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission to close down norOntair. On Friday, norOntair will be closed down. The 17 communities that were receiving service from norOntair will now be getting service from private carriers. In some cases -- Elliot Lake, for example -- the service that will be provided by the private carrier is inadequate to the community needs.

Yesterday, you told this House that Hornepayne, Chapleau and Gore Bay would be served by Voyageur Airways and that the government would subsidize the contract. Therefore, I have a number of questions and I think the people of Ontario have a number of questions regarding that announcement. We want to know if the contract to Voyageur Airways was tendered, we want to know what the cost of the tender was, we want to know if the communities that may lose private air service will qualify for this subsidy and we want to know if you will positively guarantee the 17 communities that they will continue to have air service, not just in April but in the foreseeable future.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): That's a good question; there are a lot of questions there. As the member mentioned, to get the financial house in order in this province, we've reduced the subsidy to the ONTC board by $10 million. We allowed them the flexibility of selling off the government-subsidized airline that cost the taxpayers of the province over $4 million. The private sector has picked up the role that used to be subsidized by over $4 million. The assets, in excess of $14 million, have gone towards helping the ONTC preserve and enhance its services in the north. So the money stays in the north. There will be interest on that money, or reinvestments will create wealth and secure the role of the ONTC in the future to expand the economy of northern Ontario.

The question revolves around the communities mentioned. There was an interim agreement entered into by the ONTC board, and I say an interim, short-term agreement. When that expires -- and I think that's the question most northerners want to know -- will there be air service in the future? I think that the answer is yes, that the private sector is showing its ability to grow into this. At the end of that period, I'm sure there'll be a tender if there is a subsidy that's required. The subsidy, I might add -- and allowing the sale of the assets to be reinvested in the north -- is far more efficient and helpful to northerners than subsidizing the whole airline.

Mr Michael Brown: The minister is flying by the seat of his pants on this issue. I asked the minister specifically: What did the tender cost? Where there a tender? There was no answer to that. Will other communities that may lose their air service or have inappropriate levels of air service qualify for this same deal? How much will that cost the taxpayers of Ontario in total? Give us the answer to very simple, straightforward questions.

Hon Mr Hodgson: As the member knows full well, the ONTC board has been working with a group of municipal advisers and they've been working with the affected communities. They're the ones that entered in and announced yesterday the three communities would be served. I can ask the board to report back to the member on the details around that question.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Solicitor General. Now that you've had a little break and a little opportunity to cool down, I want you to think about the way in which you withdrew your comments. You made a comment that you were expressing an independent opinion, so I think it's very important for the people of Ontario to hear from you, the person who is responsible for policing in this province, whether you really think it is ever possible for a Solicitor General to maintain his integrity and express a personal opinion about a matter that is under police investigation. Is that not the same issue as an Attorney General making a personal comment about a case that is before the courts?

The issue of independence and arm's-lengthness from investigations and from process is extraordinarily important. Would the Solicitor General please tell us how he thinks, by saying that what he said on Monday or what he said on Wednesday was his personal observation, he in any way can justify making comments about a matter that is under a police investigation?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): In response, at the outset I want to apologize to the member for London Centre for my earlier remarks. I want to emphasize what I've said when responding to this question today and before, that if you go back and take a look at the complete text of the scrum, it was certainly quite clear -- and I went out of my way to ensure that anyone talking to me in that scrum was aware -- that I had formed no judgements whatsoever with respect to what occurred on Monday with respect to complaints lodged against police on an individual or group basis.

Also, when I've spoken with respect to the events of Monday, I've talked about the experiences that I and the Minister of Transportation and the member for Oshawa experienced and our own observations about that particular incident, which is not the subject --


Hon Mr Runciman: You don't want me to answer this question -- which is not the subject of any of the complaints that have been lodged.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): How do you know? How do you know that?

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Beaches-Woodbine is out of order.

Mrs Boyd: The important issue here is the member stood, as did the AG, and said that neither of them has any idea what the matters are under complaint, no idea what issues are there. There were certainly public complaints made about lack of warning, and we've already read out three or four times what this minister said about there being an appropriate warning. I can do it again, if he'd like to hear it.

If you don't know what the subject of the complaints would be, how can you possibly stand there and say that your remarks in no way prejudice the investigation? This is absolutely evidence that you have stepped over the line and, Minister, you should resign. This is ridiculous.

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm not going to question the independence of the police complaints commission. I think they can reach a conclusion with respect to any individual complaints, which I am unaware of, on the basis of the facts. I'm certainly quite prepared to support the public release of any recommendations or conclusions coming from the police complaints commission to ensure that there is no suggestion whatsoever of any pressure being brought to bear on the commissioner.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Recently, on Tuesday, February 13, the Honourable Cam Jackson, minister without portfolio responsible for workers' compensation reform, met with injured workers in my community. In the meeting with them -- and I must say they were very appreciative of the opportunity to do that -- they related their experiences in their workplaces, how they were injured, their experience with officials and staff at WCB and their suggestions for reform.

My question to the minister is on behalf of the injured workers he met with in my office and indeed all those around the province he has met recently. Minister, what have you been hearing from injured workers across the province during your consultation?

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): I want to thank the member for his question, and I want to indicate to members of this House that in the opportunities I've had to consult with injured workers directly in the province several themes have come out very predominantly. The injured workers I met with in the member for St Catharines-Brock's riding indicated problems that they'd experienced with adjudication at the Workers' Compensation Board. In fact, one of the individuals I met, who was a truck driver, was ready to go back to work on a Monday but got a phone call on the previous Friday saying the WCB had ordered him to take voc rehab at Downsview. This individual had had his documentation lost on two separate occasions; he had to rephotostat it.

The bottom line is that we're getting concerns being expressed from injured workers about the size of the bureaucracy at the Workers' Compensation Board. Frankly, there's every reason for injured workers to be concerned when in 1985 there were about 3,800 employees at the Workers' Compensation Board and now there are almost 5,000 employees there and yet we've had a 40% drop in the lost time for injuries in this province.

There's a legitimate question being raised by injured workers with respect to looking at the administrative structure of the board but also to looking at rehabilitation services as well, which many have indicated have not allowed for them to return to work early, in a timely fashion, and to return them to their pre-accident state so that they can continue with the productive work that they deserve and that they believe they're entitled to.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to draw your attention to part VI, section 23(k) of the standing rules of order in relationship to your earlier response to me that there had been no violation of the orders of the House in the Solicitor General's response to the member for London Centre. Section 23(k) says that a member shall be called to order by the Speaker if he or she "Uses abusive or insulting language of a nature likely to create disorder." There are sections before that which similarly say you must call to order a member who "Makes allegations...." or "Imputes false or unavowed motives to another member."

I suggest to you that this may be the most appalling example of a minister responding to a question by launching a personal attack on a member of the opposition and, in this case, a former minister of the crown. But I would also suggest it is not the first time in this House, including today, that ministers have responded to questions by launching an attack based on totally non-factual statements which members of the opposition have no ability to respond to.

You have indicated that you want to observe a decorum in the House and to enforce the rules of order. I humbly suggest to you that unless you're prepared to administer the rules of order in a fairhanded and even way, there cannot be decorum in this House.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, I'd like to speak on that point, and I'd like to agree with the leader of the official opposition. You have not hesitated -- and yesterday was an example in this place, where you threw out my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon for an incident which I would say was very insignificant compared to what the Solicitor General has done in this place today. You then wrote us a letter yesterday afternoon suggesting that there had to be a restoration of decorum in this place.

I cannot advocate to my caucus that we should follow your instructions in terms of trying to restore decorum in this place when you allowed the Solicitor General to get away with what he got away with today. It went one more round of questions; you said absolutely nothing to the Solicitor General; he responded, eventually, after there was clearly an embarrassing question going to be asked to the Attorney General.

I hesitate to say this, but your leadership in this place is unacceptable, and I am very upset with the way that you have ruled in this place today. You have not dealt an even hand in this place today, and it's absolutely --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Mr Speaker, I just want to inform you that under standing order 34(a) I wish to advise you of my dissatisfaction with the response of the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, and I will file the appropriate form with the table.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Mr Speaker, pursuant to standing order 34, I wish to advise you of my dissatisfaction with the response of the Minister of Transportation to my question on the Red Hill Expressway. I will ask for a late show on that as well.



Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to come back to the point that my leader raised simply because today at caucus I was advised by my House leader that there was some concern about decorum in the House. I've missed a couple of days in the last week and I gather that some people have been tossed out or threatened with expulsion because of their misconduct.

I've been thrown out of here for being a bad boy on occasion and I recognize the difficulty that any Speaker faces. We've all made mistakes and we expect vigorous and impartial adjudication from him.

Mr Speaker, I did hear the exchange this afternoon between the member for Brockville and the member for London Centre and I know that in the heat of battle we've all said things that on occasion we ought not to have said. I think the member for Leeds-Grenville has agreed, by virtue of his withdrawal, that he went too far today, and I must say he really went too far today.

But that aside, if you are inviting members, as you ought to, to behave themselves and if we don't behave ourselves, you're going to take action, you then are going to be, I think, very carefully watched as to how you rule in this place.

I must say, and I don't want to be provocative, that you are really going to have to give some thought to what it is you tolerate and what it is you won't tolerate. If you are prepared to tolerate the kind of observation and the kind of accusation that the member for Leeds-Grenville made with respect to the former Attorney General, the member for London Centre, in relation to one of the most tragic and controversial of court cases the province and country have every known and say nothing about that, and then show me or the rest of us the door because we might have dressed improperly or brought a coffee to this chamber or used words that you found grammatically incorrect, then I think you or anyone in your position is going to have a very difficult time.

I simply say again that on this day at our caucus, my House leader, the member for St Catharines, conveyed to me and my colleagues your concern about decorum in this place. I understand that entirely, but what we saw here today with respect to what the member for Leeds-Grenville said and what you did not do give me pause, and I hope give you pause as well.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'm looking at page 18, the matter that has been raised by a number of members with regard to the exchange here in the House. Rule 23, specifically the matter that my colleague the member for Fort William raised, is under subsection (k) and it says, "Uses abusive or insulting language of a nature likely to create disorder."

I think it is clear to everyone who saw and heard the exchange in this House that the Solicitor General did indeed use abusive and insulting language, and it certainly did create disorder.

But I would also suggest that there are other subsections of the rule that you should consider. The member, according to the rule, is out of order when he or she "makes allegations against another member"; "imputes false or unavowed motives to another member"; "introduces any matter in debate that in the opinion of the Speaker offends the practices and precedents of the House."

I would suggest that in his remarks, which he subsequently but not immediately withdrew, and not at the behest of yourself --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): At the urging of his caucus members.

Mr Wildman: -- but rather at the urgings, as my friend says, of his caucus mates --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): And he was going to be embarrassed by a question to the AG.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Talk about imputing motives. That is imputing motives right there.

Mr Wildman: I think they were good motives.

Mr Speaker, I say very clearly that it is inappropriate for you not to have called him to order, particularly when members of the opposition, including myself, requested him to withdraw and raised the matter with you and you did not respond. When I listened very carefully just now to the matters raised by the Leader of the Opposition and our House leader, you did not make any response. What is the response? Did the member break these rules? If he did, then why was he not called to order and why was it at the behest of others that he withdrew the remarks?

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I will review the Hansard and I will respond.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: What happened here today is troublesome. I don't want to talk on the same point as my colleague. It's a slightly different point. All right?

I am willing to acknowledge that the rules that are set out on page 18 of the rule book are for rules of debate and that question period can be considered a somewhat different matter. But the rules for debate ought to at least provide guidance as to what is appropriate within the House.

I think, Speaker, you should review those rules and subrules set out on page 18: "Makes allegations against another member....Imputes false or unavowed motives to another member....Charges another member with uttering a deliberate falsehood....Uses abusive or insulting language of a nature likely to create disorder....Speaks disrespectfully of Her Majesty....or the Governor General, or the Administrator of Canada, or the Lieutenant Governor, or the Administrator of the Province." I would say that somewhere in there the administration of justice, if not directly mentioned, is at least within the realm of what is being talked about.

Finally, "Introduces any matter in debate that in the opinion of the Speaker offends the practices and precedents of the House." Speaker, I would think that one of the precedents and practices of this House is not to cast utter disrespect on the administration of justice in this province. When someone gets up, a minister of the crown, a minister specifically charged with part of the administration of justice -- in other words, the administration of the police -- and literally disavows a very important criminal law case, one which has been further adjudicated upon by a judge in the form of a judicial inquiry, when the Solicitor General gets up and makes those kinds of comments, it calls this whole place into disrepute.

You can't expect people out there anywhere in society to have any respect for the administration of justice if you allow that kind of conduct to go on here in this House. Speaker, you have thrown people out of this House --

The Speaker: Order. You've made your --


The Speaker: Order. I indicated earlier I will be reviewing the remarks that have been made and I will be reporting back on what has been said.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It's very difficult to sit in this place and hear the kind of lecture that we are hearing at this point in time. What I am wondering is, when the point of order was raised by the Liberal caucus -- and they referred to the discussion that they had in their caucus this morning about decorum in this place. I wonder if at all during their discussion they looked back on their own behaviour with the member for Scarborough North --

Mr Cooke: What is this, Mr Speaker?

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): This is not a point of order. This is ridiculous.

The Speaker: Order. You haven't got a point of order.




Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): "We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to withdraw Bill 26, the Savings and Restructuring Act, 1995. We object to the bill because it terminates the partnership between the government and the physicians to manage health care on a joint basis and gives unilateral power to the Minister of Health to make cuts and dictate medical practice. This is not good medicine for our health care."


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition here signed by some 100 citizens from the community of Timmins and South Porcupine. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the members of the Ontario public service are earnestly attempting to negotiate an equitable and respectful collective agreement with the government of Ontario; and

"Whereas a fair collective agreement is evidence of this government's respect for Ontario's public services, the workers who provide them and those who need them; and

"Whereas by introducing Bill 7 and Bill 26 prior to commencing negotiations the government removed significant rights from OPSEU members that other workers in Ontario retain; and

"Whereas reducing the size of the civil service can be achieved through attrition without attacking basic rights and dignities of hard-working people,

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to negotiate responsibly and in good faith with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union towards a fair and respectful collective agreement."

I sign this petition.


Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): It's my pleasure to present to the Legislature this afternoon a petition supported with over 300 signatures asking that the government put a stop to the costly and unnecessary expansion of the Massasauga provincial park:

"Whereas we fully support the government's efforts to trim costs and balance our provincial budget; and

"Whereas we are concerned with the restrictions presently being implemented on the public access area of the Moon River basin; and

"Whereas there is no evidence of any past environmental damage that would justify the implementation of these restrictions; and

"Whereas the cost of implementing these restrictions will be passed on to the government and the taxpayers; and

"Whereas the implementation of the park's facilities and requirements in May 1996 will seriously reduce the local, privately operated tourism industry (marinas, summer resorts and fishing lodges),

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario and respectfully request that the development and planned expansion of the Massasauga provincial park be effectively stopped."

I affix my signature.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Common Sense Revolution states that a Conservative government will not cut health care; and

"Whereas during the 1995 election campaign the Conservatives clearly promised to defend the health care system but protect the ministry funding and stated in a campaign backgrounder, `There will be no cut to health care funding by the Harris government,' this being their first and most important commitment,

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Health to reject all recommendations put forward by the Hamilton health task force to the closure of St Joseph's Hospital, and we recommend that no hospitals should close in Hamilton-Wentworth."

I am pleased to affix my signature to this petition.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition to the Minister of Health and the Hamilton-Wentworth District Health Council:

"Whereas the Hamilton-Wentworth Health Action Task Force, as part of their report, has recommended the closure of St Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton; and

"Whereas it is recognized the health care system should be made as efficient as possible; and

"Whereas the quality of health care in our community should not be sacrificed in the name of efficiency; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government promised to protect the quality of health care in Ontario; and

"Whereas we, the undersigned, believe that maintaining the presence of St Joseph's Hospital in downtown Hamilton is a vital component of our health care system,

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and the Hamilton-Wentworth District Health Council ensure the continuance of St Joseph's Hospital at its present site."

I add my signature to theirs.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of residents of Scarborough. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the recommendations of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council to close inpatient paediatric beds, the special care nursery and the burn unit at Scarborough General Hospital resulting in significantly reduced access to paediatric, newborn, and burn care for a large geographic area of Scarborough; and

"Whereas the paediatric unit, special care nursery and burn unit at Scarborough General Hospital provide very cost-effective, quality care,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to (1) continue paediatric services, including inpatient paediatric beds; (2) continue special care nursery services; (3) continue and combine Metropolitan Toronto's burn care at Scarborough General Hospital."

I am pleased to affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the final report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee has recommended that North York Branson Hospital merge with York-Finch hospital; and

"Whereas this recommendation will remove emergency and inpatient services currently provided by North York Branson Hospital, which will seriously jeopardize medical care and the quality of health for the growing population which the hospital serves, many being elderly people who in numerous cases require treatment for life-threatening medical conditions;

"We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the recommendation contained within the final report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee as it pertains to North York Branson Hospital, so that it retains, at minimum, emergency and inpatient services."

I have affixed my signature.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have another petition here, this time again from people of Timmins, and it's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Bill 26 exempts the government as an employer from key legislation governing pensions in Ontario; and

"Whereas employees of the Ontario government have been stripped of their rights to access pension security, a right that other workers in Ontario have; and

"Whereas this represents the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars in pension benefits from working people; and

"Whereas as a result thousands of workers who face being laid off in the coming months could be forced into poverty;

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to reinstate the rights removed by schedule L of Bill 26."

It's signed some 100 citizens in the city of Timmins, and I sign the petition.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Health will begin to charge seniors and social assistance recipients a $2 user fee for each prescription filed on June 1, 1996; and

"Whereas Ontario's psychiatric populace rely heavily on prescription drugs to remain stable, and mental health care providers and in fact the general public are scared of the outcome of these patients who can't afford to buy the medication because of the $2 dispensing fee, when it is normal policy to only prescribe them a two- to three-day supply of medication to prevent potential misuse or overdosing; and

"Whereas the perceived savings to health care from the $2 copayment fee will not compensate for the suffering and misery caused by this user fee and will not even cover the cost of extra emergency services needed to people whose health has been jeopardized because they can no longer afford to pay for their medication;

"We, therefore, the undersigned Ontario residents, strongly urge this government to repeal this user fee plan before it takes effect on June 1, 1996, because of the potential dramatic increase in emergency and police services and the suffering and misery of human lives, especially psychiatric outpatients and those who depend on medication for their daily survival."

I've affixed my signature to this document.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a further petition from the United Food and Commercial Workers to the Parliament and the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer, Minister of Labour:

"Whereas we, the undersigned, are opposed to your government's proposed changes to Ontario's workers' compensation system, including elimination of the bipartite board of directors; reduced temporary benefits; introduction of the three-day period from the time of injury with no pay; legislated limits on entitlement, thereby excluding repetitive strain, chronic pain and stress claims from eligibility for compensation; reduced permanent pensions and pension supplements; and

"Whereas workers' compensation is not a handout; it is an insurance plan for which premiums are paid; it is a legal obligation that employers have to employees who 80 years ago traded their right to sue employers in return for this insurance plan;

"Therefore, we demand no reduction in existing benefits, improved re-employment and vocational rehabilitation, tightened enforcement of health and safety to prevent injuries, no reduction in current Workers' Compensation Board staff levels and that the bipartite board structure be left intact."

I affix my signature also.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation is intent on reducing northern winter road maintenance services; and

"Whereas such downgrading places the lives of northern residents at undue and unnecessary risk;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to disallow these reductions in service and to guarantee that winter roads across northern regions of the province receive the necessary maintenance to ensure the safe passage of drivers."

I'll affix my signature to this.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I have a petition signed by over 2,100 individuals protesting the funding cuts to women's shelters, halfway houses, second-stage housing and family services. I present the petition and share the concerns that are being expressed.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a petition that has been signed by over 1,200 people across the province. It reads:

"Whereas pay equity has not yet been achieved in many Ontario workplaces;

"Whereas fair wages for women are an important part of women's equality that has not yet been achieved;

"Whereas legislation is only beneficial when it is effectively enforced;

"Whereas the Minister of Labour has decided to close the services of Pay Equity Advocacy and Legal Services (PEALS) as a so-called cost-saving measure;

"Whereas PEALS is the only community legal clinic that helps all Ontario women who do not belong to a union to benefit from the pay equity legislation;

"Whereas PEALS has helped thousands of employees to obtain their pay equity rights; and

"Whereas PEALS has educated and empowered thousands of women on their pay equity rights;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Provide PEALS with permanent funding to meet the ongoing needs for effective legal representation and community outreach;

"Provide PEALS with permanent funding to expand its mandate to provide services in all employment-related areas of law affecting women."

I have signed my signature to this document.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Bill 26 exempts the government as an employer from key legislation governing pensions in Ontario; and

"Whereas employees of the Ontario government have been stripped of their right to access pension security, a right that other workers in Ontario have; and

"Whereas this represents the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars in pension benefits from working people; and

"Whereas as a result thousands of workers who face being laid off in the coming months could be forced into poverty;

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to reinstate the rights removed by schedule L of Bill 26."

I add my signature.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): I rise today to present a petition on behalf of local teachers and principals:

"We the undersigned want you to know that we, as the presidents of the teacher federations in your riding, are opposed to the College of Teachers which your government is intending to legislate. We feel that the creation of another level of bureaucracy is not needed. The Ontario Teachers' Federation has unanimously passed a motion in opposition to this college and has proposed a plan whereby OTF could very easily fulfil the powers and functions of such a college with considerably less expense."


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a very short petition but it's signed by over 400 residents of eastern Ontario. It simply reads:

"We, the undersigned, request that the Legislature of Ontario not approve any tax cuts until the causes of poverty and unemployment in Ontario are dealt with effectively and until the province's debt and deficit are paid down."

I have attached my signature to same as well.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition that reads:

"Whereas the members of the Ontario public service are earnestly attempting to negotiate an equitable and respectful collective agreement with the government of Ontario; and

"Whereas a fair collective agreement is evidence of this government's respect for Ontario's public services, the workers who provide them and those who need them; and

"Whereas by introducing Bill 7 and Bill 26 prior to commencing negotiations, the government removed significant rights from OPSEU members that other workers in Ontario retain; and

"Whereas reducing the size of the civil service can be achieved through attrition, without attacking basic rights and dignities of hardworking people;

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to negotiate responsibly and in good faith with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union towards a fair and respectful collective agreement."

I have signed my name to that as well.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition signed by almost all the residents in Regency Towers, a senior citizens' residence in Thunder Bay, the tenants of which are very concerned about the government's intention to privatize public housing units. Mrs Lea Nuttall has sort of led the charge in my riding, and I'm pleased to read the petition:

"Whereas the Ministry of Housing has indicated an intent to privatize public housing units and intensify the housing crisis in Ontario; and

"Whereas all Ontarians have a basic right to fair and affordable shelter; and

"Whereas such privatization will cause financial hardship and insecurity;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to disallow the privatization of public housing units and to ensure that existing structures are adequately maintained."

I am proud to sign my signature to that.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Ottawa Centre has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Education and Training concerning the poll commissioned by the minister. That will be debated today at 6 pm.

Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Algoma-Manitoulin has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Natural Resources and Northern Development and Mines concerning norOntair. This matter will be dealt with this evening at 6 pm.

Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Hamilton East has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Transportation concerning the Red Hill Creek Expressway funding. This matter will also be debated at 6 pm today.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of Bill 19, An Act to repeal the Advocacy Act, 1992, revise the Consent to Treatment Act, 1992, amend the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 and amend other Acts in respect of related matters / Projet de loi 19, Loi abrogeant la Loi de 1992 sur l'intervention, révisant la Loi de 1992 sur le consentement au traitement, modifiant la Loi de 1992 sur la prise de décisions au nom d'autrui et modifiant d'autres lois en ce qui concerne des questions connexes.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): All those in favour of third reading of Bill 19 will please say "aye."

All opposed will say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; it's a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1517 to 1525.

The Speaker: All those in favour of third reading of Bill 19 will please rise one at a time.


Agostino, Dominic

Gerretsen, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Arnott, Ted

Gilchrist, Steve

Palladini, Al

Baird, John R.

Grandmaître, Bernard

Parker, John L.

Bartolucci, Rick

Gravelle, Michael

Patten, Richard

Bassett, Isabel

Grimmett, Bill

Phillips, Gerry

Beaubien, Marcel

Guzzo, Garry J.

Preston, Peter

Boushy, Dave

Hardeman, Ernie

Ramsay, David

Bradley, James J.

Harnick, Charles

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Brown, Michael A.

Hastings, John

Ross, Lillian

Carroll, Jack

Hodgson, Chris

Runciman, Bob

Chudleigh, Ted

Jackson, Cameron

Ruprecht, Tony

Clement, Tony

Johnson, Bert

Sampson, Rob

Cordiano, Joseph

Kells, Morley

Sergio, Mario

Crozier, Bruce

Klees, Frank

Shea, Derwyn

Cunningham, Dianne

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Skarica, Toni

Danford, Harry

Leadston, Gary L.

Smith, Bruce

DeFaria, Carl

Marland, Margaret

Snobelen, John

Doyle, Ed

Martiniuk, Gerry

Spina, Joseph

Duncan, Dwight

Maves, Bart

Sterling, Norman W.

Ecker, Janet

McGuinty, Dalton

Tilson, David

Elliott, Brenda

Miclash, Frank

Tsubouchi, David H.

Fisher, Barbara

Morin, Gilles E.

Turnbull, David

Flaherty, Jim

Munro, Julia

Villeneuve, Noble

Ford, Douglas B.

Murdoch, Bill

Wilson, Jim

Fox, Gary

Mushinski, Marilyn

Witmer, Elizabeth

Froese, Tom

Newman, Dan

Wood, Bob

Galt, Doug

O'Toole, John


The Speaker: All those opposed, please rise one at a time.


Bisson, Gilles

Hampton, Howard

Martin, Tony

Boyd, Marion

Lankin, Frances

Pouliot, Gilles

Christopherson, David

Laughren, Floyd

Silipo, Tony

Churley, Marilyn

Marchese, Rosario

Wildman, Bud

Cooke, David S.

Martel, Shelley


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 80; the nays 14.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


Mr Hardeman, on behalf of Mr Leach, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 20, An Act to promote economic growth and protect the environment by streamlining the land use planning and development system through amendments related to planning, development, municipal and heritage matters / Projet de loi 20, Loi visant à promouvoir la croissance économique et à protéger l'environnement en rationalisant le système d'aménagement et de mise en valeur du territoire au moyen de modifications touchant des questions relatives à l'aménagement, la mise en valeur, les municipalités et le patrimoine.

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I rise today to speak on Bill 20, the bill designed to help Ontario's economy by cutting red tape in the province's land use planning system. I'm speaking on behalf of Al Leach, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Mr Leach is in the hospital and is unable to be here today.

This bill will rectify the problems of Bill 163, the planning act introduced by the previous government. Municipalities, developers, builders and planning professionals each voiced concern about that act. It was tied up in too much red tape and detail, the approval system took too long and it cost too much. It was supposed to allow municipalities to make decisions, but municipalities told us it didn't. They wanted changes.

Bill 20 will fix the problems with the planning system. The legislation addresses many concerns expressed by the government and voiced by municipalities, environmentalists and developers.

The bill focuses on three important issues. It creates a faster and more understandable system, a system guided by clear, concise policies dealing only with issues that really should be under the provincial jurisdiction. It provides municipalities with the flexibility to make local decisions, since they are the people who best understand local circumstances, and it protects the environment while clearing obstacles to growth.

As you know, the Land Use Planning and Protection Act, 1995, received first and second reading last fall and was referred to the standing committee on resources development for public hearings. I would point out the public hearings process accommodated everyone who wanted to put forward their views. Everyone who wanted to be heard had their say.

At this point, I'd like to commend the committee members for their work in carrying this bill at committee. We introduced some amendments to the bill in committee and we bring forward the amended bill to the House today for third reading. Some of the amendments reflect concerns that were raised during the public hearing process last month; others are technical clarifications.

I'd like to address the three significant changes made in the legislation: minor variances, public meetings on subdivisions and grandfathering of apartments in houses.

With respect to minor variances, the intention of the legislation was that council should have the final authority for minor variance decisions. This decision was made in accordance with the goals of Bill 20: to streamline the planning process and give municipalities more decision-making authority.

At the hearings we heard over and over again that everyone who wanted to appeal minor variance decisions should have the same right to be heard by the Ontario Municipal Board as those wanting to appeal other planning decisions. We listened. The planning system must balance the need for quick decisions with the need to be fair. Therefore, we are reinstating the OMB process for minor variance appeals.

The second significant change adopted by the standing committee deals with the authority to require public meetings on plans of subdivision and consent. The amendment restores provisions which allow the minister, by regulation, to require public meetings on plans of subdivision and consent. Again people told the standing committee they felt public input and consultation were important. They were concerned about those provisions being dropped, and again we listened and amended the legislation.

The third change deals with the apartments-in-houses provision of the Residents' Rights Act. Prior to last month's hearing, our position was that grandfathering would apply to second units that existed legally last November 16, the date the bill was introduced. We saw it applying where a building permit or change-of-use permit for the second unit had been issued on that date. This retroactive provision was developed to give back to municipalities, as quickly as possible, the authority over apartments in houses and to prevent a flood of last-minute applications.

During the hearings, however, several municipalities said this created an awkward legal position for them. Builders and home owners who had wanted to create second units but had not yet received building permits were caught by the November 16 deadline, so we have amended the legislation to make the grandfathering date for new units coincide with the date of the legislation's proclamation, following third reading and royal assent. This ensures that municipalities have time to inform their residents about the change.

Finally, as many members know, we are conducting a fundamental review of the Development Charges Act and intend to introduce a new act by the fall. Until then, Bill 20 provides for a transition period that extends existing development charges bylaws and grants increases only with the minister's approval. This means that until the review is complete, municipalities cannot bring in new charges or increase their existing charges.

Our critics have suggested this government is proposing a planning system that guts the environment. This is not the case. We are in favour of good planning, not slow planning or inefficient planning, and we are against any approval system that discourages development because it can't say yes or no in a reasonable length of time. We will continue to have tough environmental protection measures in the planning process.

There were several technical amendments made to the bill during the clause-by-clause analysis by the standing committee on resources development, but the major thrust of the legislation remains the same: Bill 20 restores a balance to the planning system in Ontario, allows for increased municipal autonomy and creates a streamlined system which makes provision for local solutions to local problems.

I should also like to mention that as part of the revisions to the Ontario planning system, the ministry's draft policy statement was issued in January. If the legislation is the process, the policy statement is the government's vision of what it wants to accomplish and the values it wants to apply to the process.

The policy statement was circulated to a range of ministry stakeholders including municipalities, planning officials, planning boards and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. It was issued to the Urban Development Institute and the home builders' associations and it was given to other ministries for their own stakeholders. Consultation was extensive. Submissions were invited until March 4, and we have received more than 200. We are in the process of reviewing all submissions and will take all comments into account as we prepare the final policy statement, which will be brought out when Bill 20 is proclaimed.

Bill 20 will not only improve the planning system; it will help clear a path for economic development and it will contribute to a climate that will encourage investment in the province of Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments or questions?

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): As the critic for municipal affairs for our party, I must say that the comments made by the parliamentary assistant show a lack of understanding for what you're really doing in regard to this bill, especially when it comes to what you're doing in regard to the Planning Act as it affects the environment.

You have done a number of moves within the Planning Act. Primarily you're saying that now you're only going to have to "have regard" for the provincial regulations rather than being "consistent with." We've gone through that debate at the committee. A lot of people came before the committee and presented and said what that will do is, in effect, ratchet down the standards that we presently have within the province of Ontario when it comes to protecting the environment and really pit one community up against the other.

There are a whole bunch of other examples about what you've done under Bill 20 that really mean to say that this province is going to take a severe step backwards when it comes to planning in the province of Ontario.

I think the parliamentary assistant recognizes that there was a very extensive consultation process undergone by Mr Sewell under our government, under the NDP government, that took about three and a half to four years. There was, I would say, a consensus built between both the environmental community and the development community about how you're able to balance off the interests of developers and those of the environment so that we can have sane and safe planning for the province of Ontario that responds to the needs of the economy but also responds to the needs of the environment.

For you to stand in this House today and say this government is not doing anything under Bill 20 that's contrary to the protection of the environment is not right. In fairness, you must recognize this bill is really all about giving the power directly to developers so that they can go ahead and do planning and not take into regard a whole bunch of issues that have to do with the protection of our environment. This is a major step backwards when it comes to protecting our environment in Ontario.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I want to congratulate my colleague the member for Oxford on a great speech.

I think what we heard during the committee hearings, and I sat on the committee for the full three weeks, was that people believed that the best place to make decisions is at the local municipality when it comes to these type of issues.

I think what this bill has done is it has sought a balance between the environment and the economy. My honourable colleague opposite talked about the Sewell commission, which was a rather lengthy process, and I think it would be fair to say that there wasn't a consensus built in. Obviously, this piece of legislation that has come before the House is evidence that the long and lengthy discussions held by the Sewell commission did not achieve a consensus anywhere in the province of Ontario and particularly with achieving that fundamental balance between the environment and the economy which we think is so important to long-term development of the province.

As we went from city to city in our public hearings, we heard from numerous presenters in all parts of the province who spoke in favour of the bill -- including my home community of Ottawa where our municipality spoke, represented by our regional chair, Peter Clark, and we also heard from the mayor of Ottawa -- and who believe this bill was worthy of support. We found support all over the province for this legislation.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I had the opportunity to sit in on a couple of the hearings with respect to Bill 20. I want to commend the new member for Oxford, who I thought, at least during the time I was in the committee, did an exemplary job in carrying an important and controversial piece of legislation through the process.

In the previous Parliament, the Rae government brought forward a major piece of planning legislation that was thought by many to have erred on the side of preservation. There's no question that the current government's Bill 20 has a very clear pro-development bias, which is what I think one would expect from a Conservative government. There are elements of this policy that I support. As a member from rural Ontario, there is no question that my constituents were very concerned with some of the directions of the Sewell commission, so to that extent, I want to say there are aspects of Bill 20 that I support and that would certainly be supported by a lot of my constituents in eastern Ontario.

On the other side, there are aspects of the bill that I think are negative, are worrisome, are dangerous. Perhaps my biggest concern remains that over the years, anyone who has been involved in local or certainly provincial politics -- I can only speak about my provincial involvement. I've seen the development industry transfer huge costs downstream to Her Majesty's provincial government. When I think of what taxpayers provincially were expected to and have had to pay for, months, years, decades after the fact, I wonder what kind of discipline my friend the member for Oxford and his colleagues on the treasury bench are going to show when, in a world that is clearly more pro-development -- and should mistakes be made and significant costs be incurred, I fully expect that Her Majesty's Ontario subjects will be saved harmless from the kinds of multimillion-dollar bills they have been forced to pay in previous times under all previous administrations.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I will be speaking further to this bill later, but just for a moment here I want to say to the parliamentary assistant, the member for Oxford, and the member for Nepean that I sat through most of those committee hearings, and when I hear from that side of the House that we now have a consensus and we didn't have one before -- that's been implied -- let me tell this House that there is no consensus whatsoever.

What I saw was a complete polarization. The people from the developer side and some municipalities in support came in loving this bill. When I asked them if they were consulted and whether they got what they wanted in the bill, they inevitably said yes and yes. When environmentalists and community groups came to speak to the committee, when I asked that question their answers were no and no.

When the parliamentary assistant read out here the three major amendments, none of them, not one, had to do with any of the amendments I put forward and which were put forward by some of the environmentalists who have a long, long history with the Planning Act, who spent four years of their lives involved throughout the Sewell process and beyond that -- not one amendment. They were not at any point whatsoever treated with any kind of respect for their expertise -- completely left out of the picture. So don't be surprised that people are very angry and are accusing you of only listening to one side in this issue. Unfortunately, all the evidence points to the fact that you only listened to one side.

Regarding the draft policy statements, I was very interested to hear the parliamentary assistant rhyme off whom they had consulted with. I know they tried to consult with some environmentalists. However, it wasn't serious consultation; it was, "Let's get to know you a little bit," and then they were ignored.

Mr Hardeman: I'd like to thank the member for Nepean and the member for Renfrew North for their kind comments. I would also like to state to the member for Renfrew North that we do not believe the environmental policy statements have been weakened, that there's any greater risk after Bill 20 than with Bill 163 of having problems in Ontario that the province would become responsible for.

I also want to address the member for Cochrane South, who suggested that the change from "shall be consistent with" to "shall have regard to" completely guts the environmental aspect of Bill 20. I'd point out that a great number of the deputants coming before our committee came forward with the recommendation that we go to "shall have regard to," and all suggested that they understood what that meant, that it meant they must adhere to that type of policy unless there was a specific reason they could not achieve that requirement; that the provincial policy statements in many areas overlap and in fact are contradictory as to which resource should be protected, and that there is a need for local autonomy to make those types of decisions and only going back to "shall have regard to" would make that possible.

We also have to remember that many cases have been before the Ontario Municipal Board, where the board too realized that "shall have regard to" meant they should adhere to those policy statements if that could be achieved.

I would also point out that there were very few comments to the actual Bill 20, as it relates to the environment, only to that change in the wording. The majority of environmental concerns expressed were based on the policy statements, which were being reviewed, as I mentioned in the statement, and the review was to be completed by March 4. We have received many comments from people concerned about the environment and we will be dealing with those as we deal with the policy statements.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Before continuing the debate on this, I would request that my time be split equally with the member for St Catharines. I'd request unanimous consent for that.

The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed? It is agreed.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you. First of all, it was very interesting to listen to the comments made by the last three or four members. It's quite obvious that each of them seems to have a slightly different interpretation of what happened at the various meetings we held around the province.

I also think it's very interesting for the government to talk about a sense of balance with respect to the planning legislation. That's certainly what we in this party believe should happen, that the planning legislation should not be totally dominated by either one sector or the other. Unfortunately, this bill doesn't do it. It certainly doesn't create the kind of balance that people are looking for in their planning legislation for the proper development of the province.

It's true that some people feel that Bill 163 went too far. With all respect to the former government, let's be fair and honest and say that Bill 163 wasn't around long enough for anyone to really monitor the effect that bill had on the development or non-development that took place in the province. Bill 163 was around for only about six or seven months and it would have been too early to judge the results, although it's certainly true that within the development community and within the municipal community there was a sense that the requirements of 163 were going to be too onerous, that it was going to take too long to get proper development through, that it was in effect going to harm the development industry.

What's very interesting, and the parliamentary assistant made comment on it, is that really the whole planning process in Ontario is a two-stage process. On the one hand we deal with the Planning Act, which deals with process, and on the other hand it deals as much with the policy statements that the province and indeed the municipalities on an individual basis through their official plans put forward. It's the combination of those two factors, the policy and the process document, the procedural document, that in effect leads to the planning that takes place in our communities.


Unfortunately, this committee had absolutely no say over what's going to be in the policy statement. So we were dealing with only sort of half of the equation, and indeed we were dealing with the smaller half, the process side of things.

It's interesting to note in the parliamentary assistant's statement that he is very quick to point out that the policy statement has been circulated among the stakeholders, such as the development industry, the municipalities and the home builders. Well, I suggest to you that there's a whole other group of people out there who have just as much at stake there, and those people are not developers; they are not members of the development industry; they are not members of individual councils. No, they are the general public of the province of Ontario.

If there is one overriding criticism that can be made of this bill, it is that in the hopes of getting things on as quickly as possible, getting things moving, there can be no question about it that the ministry talked with the development industry and talked with the municipalities, but it never consulted with the general public. It is so evident in a number of different areas of this bill that the general public's attitude or involvement in the planning process really has been minimized.

First of all, when we look at the time reductions -- and I'll have much more to say about this later on -- the time reductions in the bill as it affects the general public basically go from 30 days that the general public has to respond on a particular official plan amendment or a zoning amendment to 20 days. The optics of the situation are that by cutting 10 days off, somehow development applications will be dealt with in a more speedy fashion, and obviously we can get things on a lot quicker and we can get things done at the local level a lot quicker than used to be the case.

As many delegations that came before the committee indicated, for a variety of reasons a 20-day appeal period simply isn't long enough for people who are serious about a particular development matter or who have some serious concerns about it to frame those concerns in an adequate and substantial way, to allow them to do that within that period of time.

The other thing that was very interesting, and another way in which the general public was sort of shut out of the whole debate, was the loss of appeals. I will grant you that the ministry has now decided that appeals to the OMB for minor variances will continue to be the case. That was as a result of almost unanimous, I would say, support from all the groups that came before the committee.

Mr Baird: Public consultation.

Mr Gerretsen: And he's right. It was as a result of public consultation that this particular change was made. But the significant part is that they were forced into it, that there was no consultation or there was no consideration prior to that when the bill was first introduced to whether or not the public was going to lose anything by not allowing a right of appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board with respect to minor variances. And we all know how important minor variances are in our own particular neighbourhoods. They are the situations in which people by and large can relate to the planning process. They are the types of situations that people will deal with or the results of which people will deal with on a day-to-day basis.

The other thing that was very interesting is that there was no public meeting required for the approval of subdivisions or for severances. Now a suggestion has been made that in effect that be done by way of regulation in certain appropriate circumstances and situations. Well, I would suggest to you that again, for most of the general public, it's only at the time when a subdivision in effect is being planned, when a drawing is presented showing the layout of the various streets, of the density allocations of the parkland, of all the other various amenity areas in a particular subdivision, that people really realize what is going to be built next to them.

To have an official plan designation or to have a global zoning of a piece of property next to a property that a person may be living in is one thing, but it's only when an actual subdivision plan is developed and people realize how their particular property, their home, their commercial-industrial property is going to relate to the newly proposed area -- it's only then that they realize that they really have an interest in it.

I can remember as a former municipal councillor many meetings dealing with official plans in general when, quite frankly, it was very difficult to get people out. I can tell you, in the community that I'm from, planning has always been something that people have taken a special interest in and certainly it's one of the reasons why a lot of people, including myself initially, got involved in local government because there is a tremendous interest in planning in an old community like the city of Kingston.

But I can tell you, until you actually put some meat and bones on a particular plan by way of a development plan or by way of a subdivision plan, until you actually show people what is going to be developed on a particular piece of property, the interest that people have in it or their ability to visualize the general zoning or an official plan designation is not there to the same extent and you just don't have the same kind of interest. So again, this is another area in which the general public basically was going to be excluded.

Now, let me just deal with the reasons why we are against the bill as presented to us for third reading by way of a number of amendments that we had proposed and that were rejected by the government for a variety of reasons. The first one deals with this whole notion of a one-window approach. The one-window approach is something that most of us will agree is the right and proper thing to do. Rather than having seven or eight different ministries deal with the particular matter in their own way, to actually have it funnelled through one particular ministry is time-efficient, certainly from a file management viewpoint, the situation can be handled better etc, but it also has some very inherent difficulties with it.

One of the greatest difficulties that it has is that the legitimate concerns of some of the ministries may very well be finessed in a particular situation. That's why we felt that in order for a one-window approach to properly work, you had to set out the rules and regulations, the protocol as it were, whereby the ministries were going to adhere to how they were going to deal with a particular application or a particular matter before them, so that not only internally the government would know how they were going to look at a particular application or the various ministries were going to look at an application, but so that the general public, the development industry and indeed municipalities would know the rules by which particular applications were going to be judged within particular government departments. That's why we suggested that the government should develop clear, written, publicly available protocols on how the workings of a one-window approach would actually be put into place.

Currently, you could very well have a situation where the concerns of four or five ministries may be satisfied with a particular development. There could be one or two ministries that may have a definite concern about what's going on, and with just the numbers of ministries that you're dealing with etc, it may very well be decided that, "Oh well, we understand your concerns, but we're not going to do anything about it because the government's total position is that this particular development should go ahead." Under the current law, each particular ministry would still be in a position to appeal the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board. That, under the one-window approach, presumably can no longer happen.


I notice from a practical viewpoint, and we heard about this on a number of occasions during the hearings, you do not want five different ministries coming before the Ontario Municipal Board with five different sets of legal counsel and five other staff members to all give a different view of the situation.

I agree there has to be some saving of time to deal with that, but in effect, to try to finesse situations without having the legitimate concerns of a particular ministry brought forward and allowed to be expressed before the Ontario Municipal Board I think in the long run will not allow a particular development -- and I'm thinking particularly of major developments -- the ability to truly stand the test of the various critiques that may be made against it.

So we're saying that it's extremely important that, although we agree with the notion of a one-window approach, in order for the process to work fairly and in order to determine that all the legitimate concerns are brought forward, it's extremely important that there be public protocols available as to how different ministries are going to relate to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs with respect to this one-window approach.

That is completely absent in the bill, and the way I understand it, there was never any clear-cut answer given as to how that was going to be dealt with internally. It's our feeling that will lead to compromises that the general public in a lot of situations may not even know about and may be very difficult for them to react to.

We therefore feel that, until those kinds of protocols are made available and until we know what the internal procedures and processes are, the ministries be given the power or that they at least retain the power to appeal on an individual basis.

The second point deals with the whole notion of time frames for public review of planning decisions. I've already indicated that the public referral aspect or the public appeal aspect has been downsized from 30 days to 20 days. As I indicated before, that sounds very significant, but quite frankly, there's nothing there.

One of my favourite questions to the various developers who came before the committee, and also to the municipal planning staff people, dealt with the issue of how long it really takes to get a development plan through. It is not the 90 days or the 120 days or the 180 days that are talked about in the act, that are being changed, that are the significant aspect; in most cases, a major development may take two, three, four, five years to get through.

The developers clearly admitted that if they knew a municipality was dealing with their particular request, and particularly if they knew they were dealing with it in a somewhat favourable fashion, they certainly weren't going to push them very hard in order to get a decision on the matter simply because they had somehow gone beyond the time limit that was allocated in the act.

They all agreed that the real time it takes to get developments through usually deals with the administrative time that matters take to get through planning staff, to get through local councils, the length of time it takes for matters to be approved and looked at by the various ministries of the crown. So the whole question of limiting these times, whether you go from 90 to 60 days or from 180 to 120 days, quite frankly is optics. It looks as if we're doing something, but in the reality of the situation, we're not changing anything at all until we change the internal processes by which we deal with applications, both here within the government system and certainly also at the local government level.

I think it's fair to say that some municipalities across the province have a reputation of getting development proposals through rather quickly, in an expedient fashion, and still looking at all of the various parameters that are necessary in order to look into it. Other municipalities -- and all you have to do is talk to the development industry -- have a reputation of taking an extremely long period of time in order to adequately deal with them. What I'm saying is that the real problems with respect to getting development approved in this province are not with respect to the time frames as indicated in the act, but rather with the administrative time periods that it takes to get matters resolved or dealt with at both the local and the provincial levels.

The parliamentary assistant has indicated today and also indicated at a number of times during the hearing process that AMO was satisfied and that the requests of AMO to make various changes to the Planning Act were adhered to. There are at least two areas, though, in which the requests of both AMO and others as well were not listened to by the government and were not accepted by way of amendments to the act.

One of them dealt with this whole prematurity test of subdivision plans and proposals. AMO favoured a position -- and I'll quote right from the presentation it made to the committee. It states that AMO recommends "that municipalities be given the authority to set out what makes a complete application, either through a municipal bylaw or official plan policies." The time frame for decision on an application should not begin until all this information is received. This is something that the municipalities have been asking for, that it be placed in legislation or that they be allowed to do so by way of bylaw, through the legislation etc. The government refused to do anything about that or write that into the bill. AMO also recommended that the prematurity criterion be retained in the Planning Act. Again, this is an area where AMO was refused.

The next point that I'd like to make deals with a submission that was made by the board of trade here in Toronto, which was a very interesting one. That deals with what we do with buildings that are older than 20 or 40 or 50 years that are non-conforming. The suggestion they made is that currently, in order for them to do anything with those buildings, there are applications necessary to the committee of adjustment etc. The board of trade made a very sensible suggestion that I think would save all of Ontario and all of the municipal departments and the committees of adjustment a lot of time and effort, particularly when in 99% of these cases these applications are approved in any event.

They simply stated, dealing with non-conforming sites, that "in order to significantly reduce the existing workloads of committees of adjustment related to the conformity of older buildings with setback and similar provisions of zoning bylaws, the board suggests that buildings over a specified age" -- say, 20 years, but you could say 30 or 40 years, pick whatever number you want -- they should be deemed to comply with the bylaw. This would then permit many more additions and alterations to receive building permits without having to obtain committee of adjustment approval for historical variation from zoning bylaws.

Again, this would remove an obstacle to affordable renovations and unburden municipalities of a costly and redundant review process. Non-conforming sites are routinely approved in any event, so rationalizing this regulation would allow all concerned to benefit.

We proposed an amendment to that effect which dealt with non-conforming sites. It proposed that residential buildings -- and we were only talking about residential buildings, because I realize full well that there may be different matters at work with respect to commercial and industrial buildings. In other words, these are buildings that have been sitting on the same street in the same condition in the same position for at least the last 20, 30, 40, 50 years. We proposed that residential buildings over a specified age should be deemed to comply with the zoning bylaws. Again, the government rejected that suggestion. We totally concurred with the board of trade on that. That is a situation where a lot of the work that goes currently to the committee of adjustments can simply be dispensed with.


Another issue that came up -- and I think probably about a third of the delegations that came before us dealt with this whole issue -- is basement apartments. I find that this is a fascinating issue. I know that my friends across the way will accuse our party and individual members of our party of changing our minds on this issue, because I guess this matter got quite an airing by the previous government. Of course, after much public debate -- and it's not a very easy situation to deal with, I'll be the first to agree to that -- it took the position about three years ago now to allow everyone to have a basement apartment in their residential unit as a right, provided that it could meet with certain building code and fire code regulations. That always should be a proviso; I don't think we should have any units in the province of Ontario that cannot meet fire code regulations. If they can't meet the regulations, then they shouldn't be built or they shouldn't be allowed to exist, because they could be a potential danger and hazard to the people who reside in the units.

I can well imagine the kinds of deliberations that this House went through at the time because, after all, we had about 100,000 illegal apartment units in the province of Ontario. You have three choices, I suppose. You can legalize them all and thereby at least guarantee to the people who live in the units some sense that they can rely on the building code and on the fire code. They can at least now go to the officials if they are legal and say there are certain things wrong if the landlord isn't prepared to fix them etc. I suppose that's the main reason for legalizing them, so that people will no longer live in fear that they can be evicted because they're living in an illegal unit. The other thing that you can do is you can simply keep them illegal and keep the status quo and not do anything with the units at all. I suppose that after much thought and deliberation, it was decided that was not the proper answer to the question because that, in effect, had been the situation, and an unsatisfactory situation, that had existed in the province for a number of years.

So what was done ultimately was that these units were legitimized. They were legalized throughout the province of Ontario and brought into the mainstream of affordable housing. I think most people will agree that most of the basement apartments throughout the entire province are affordable. They're certainly usually at a much lower rent than, let's say, other rental accommodation in the immediate areas in which those units are located.

I understand that at that point in time our party voted against that, for whatever reason; there may have been good reasons for it. But now it's a right. We now have a situation in this province where it's a right for each property owner to have a basement apartment, provided you can meet the health regulations. That is a right that now exists for each and every one of us who is fortunate enough to own a house and who can meet the relatively minimal criteria that are set out in that act.

So now what's this government doing? This government is saying, "We are taking that right away." They'll be the first to say, "But we're leaving it open to the municipalities." That's not the point. The point is that currently there's a right there to have a basement apartment, either for some additional income for an individual, a young family that might just be buying a unit that can use the income from that unit in order to help it to meet its expenses -- its mortgage expenses, its household expenses, its tax bills etc -- or in the larger units it's not uncommon for people to have additional units for either in-laws or grandparents to be living with the family. That's all possible now.

What this act is doing is taking that right away. The curious part about this whole situation is this, and I must admit that in the three weeks that we debated this or two and a half weeks that we debated this, it's a thought that I -- and I had many discussions with the government members as well on a one-to-one basis in trying to sort of elucidate where did this really come from, this notion of -- other than public pressure by some people that they wanted to get rid of this right etc.

But here we have a party that basically can be regarded, of all the three parties that are on the political spectrum in Ontario, as being the property rights party, the party that basically says: "I should be the master in my own castle. I should be allowed to do in my own house what I want to do." So now here we have this party that basically says: "Yes, but you can no longer develop your own individual housing unit, your house, because we're taking that right away. And maybe municipalities will give you that right back or maybe they won't give it back."

It just seems to me that there is such an irony in that, there is such an irony in the fact that the property rights party of Ontario would take the position that you cannot really enjoy your house that you have bought and paid for in the fashion that you want to.

I assume that this comes from certain pressures within the more well-established neighbourhoods in our province, I suppose, where people say: "Well, no, I don't want anybody to have an extra unit in the building beside me. It's all right for downtown where there are already lots of houses or maybe the value of the houses and the value of the neighbourhoods aren't quite along the same lines as to where somebody else may live" etc.

It just seems to me that that's a totally inconsistent position. Plus of course it drives this whole market thing, this whole basement apartment thing, underground once again, and I can guarantee you that in another five or 10 or 15 years the same kind of debate that took place two or three years ago with respect to legitimizing the 100,000 units that were then illegal will take place once again. You're not solving the problem.

There are many other ways in which you can deal with the situation. We're talking about if you want to set up a certain criterion with respect to building code requirements, with respect to fire code requirements, as I've already indicated, then certainly that is of paramount importance. You can certainly make sure that every unit anybody builds meets those requirements, and I don't think there's anybody who would argue with that, because after all, you want to make sure that whoever lives in these units is well protected. But on the other hand, to take away that right now that people have it is a totally different thing, and it's certainly not something that I can concur with.

I think on that score alone, I would recommend that we vote against this particular bill, because I think it has also added something into the planning process that really deals with a particular situation rather than process. As I indicated before, basically Bill 20 deals with the process as to how you get from point A to point B, and all of a sudden we have this thing about basement apartments thrown in, and I don't know what really drives that. Because the other very interesting thing is that in survey after survey that we were shown, it clearly indicated that anywhere between 60% to 70% of the people of Ontario favour these units, provided that there are regulations in place to make sure that they are safe and that they are approved by the fire code etc.


There's one other issue that I just quickly want to deal with and that deals with the whole notion of mediation of planning appeals at the OMB. I think there were a couple of excellent presentations made in that regard. One of them was made by a Mr Lehman, and he's an individual who works out of Toronto and has been involved, I guess, from anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 matters that have come before the various committees of adjustment, and also some of them have worked their way up to the OMB. I'll just quote from the Hansard of February 15 what he had to say about the whole mediation process.

You've got to remember that this is not so much a right and wrong situation when you're dealing with planning. You're basically dealing with what is best for the overall community in the long run. How would we like to have this community look five, 10, 15 years from now? So it isn't a question of there being a right or a wrong, but it's more a question of degree; it's more a question as to how we go about it. Rather than having clear-cut winners and losers before the OMB, the way you may have in criminal cases in the court system etc, it's more of a question as to: Will the best kind of development, or non-development in certain situations, result from the overall process?

He stated: "Of the appeals that were mediated over a three-year period, 80% were mediated to the satisfaction of the participants" and not going to the municipal board. It's also interesting to note: "The average cost of the mediation was $800 to $1,000, an amount, in my opinion, that is certainly in line with what could be included as an application cost, or certainly in line with what a municipality, say the city of Toronto, would have no trouble in funding, as opposed to sending their lawyers and staff to an Ontario Municipal Board hearing."

The amendment that we proposed in this area was that it be almost made mandatory that every case, before a full-fledged hearing is held, be mediated before the Ontario Municipal Board. I know that some people will say, "You're really setting up another administrative process," but I think that one of the problems that has arisen with respect to the OMB over the last number of years is that it has become almost like another court. It has set up its own rules and regulations -- and it should certainly operate by rules and regulations; as we've seen from some of the events that have taken place in this House, if you don't have rules and regulations then the whole process could run amok quite quickly -- but the problem is that with setting up definite rules and regulations and procedural guidelines, which is what's happened at the OMB, and with more and more lawyers getting involved on all sides of the issue --

Interjection: Not lawyers?

Mr Gerretsen: Oh, yes, even lawyers -- the notion of the average person coming to the OMB and just wanting to present his or her view about a particular matter is certainly something that has been discouraged over the last number of years. Not discouraged actively by anybody involved in the process, but the process itself discourages people from being involved, because the hearing has become too stylized, too formalized, too much of a courtroom type of proceeding with examinations and cross-examinations etc. It seems to me that a much more appropriate way of dealing with matters, in trying to settle a dispute between parties before it comes before the Ontario Municipal Board, is to do it by way of mediation.

I know that this is basically an administrative matter, although I would certainly like to see it enshrined in law, but this is certainly something that I would recommend that the government take another very hard look at.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): Why don't you tell us about some of the things that you agree with? You're getting a little boring over there. Liven it up a bit.

Mr Gerretsen: I'm glad to see that my friend from Grey county is listening to this, because he is the kind of gentleman, having known him for some period of time and holding him in some respect, but he thinks that the answers to all our problems are very clear-cut and easy and they are not.

We suggested that an amendment be moved to the act that the municipal board use mediation in every case to attempt to resolve matters that are referred or appealed to the board before determining that the manner provided under the act takes place. Unfortunately, this is another amendment that the government was not prepared to support.

What's interesting of course is that the court systems themselves have gone to a much greater alternative dispute mechanism process over the last number of years, and it would seem to me that something that isn't as legalistically based as the court system, such as the hearings before the OMB, which was the way it was originally intended to work, is a perfect avenue to try the mediation process. Everyone knows that even with the improvement that may have been made at the board over the last number of years, it still takes an awful long time if a matter is referred to the OMB before, in effect, the hearing is held. It takes anywhere from six months to nine months to a year to over a year, and that, to my way of thinking, is unacceptable.

I am a firm believer that people have the right to know where they stand early on in the process and where the different parties stand, and the positions that the different parties in a dispute or in a development proposal are taking. The longer the delays are, quite frankly, the more the consumer ultimately, if the development is to take place, will end up paying for the final product, whether we're talking about a house in a subdivision or whether we're talking about rental accommodation within a commercial development.

I've tried to read some of the main areas that we don't agree with. We think that basically this act is intended for optics. It makes it look as if something is happening and that the time frames are made a lot shorter than they are in reality. We all know that the actual length of time that it takes to get a development through in the province of Ontario has very little to do with the time lines that are set out in either this act or in Bill 163, or in the planning acts before that. A lot of those things have to do more with the internal workings of the various departments.

Mr Murdoch: You're putting everybody to sleep. Stir it up a little, John.

Mr Gerretsen: I'm certainly glad that my friend takes such a great interest in these matters. I also know that he was certainly an interesting member on this committee. We always knew exactly where he was coming from on all of these issues, particularly with the environmental community in Grey county. He had an excellent rapport with them and --

Mr Murdoch: You've only got three minutes, so hurry up.

Mr Gerretsen: Okay. To give you an example about a community, I suppose, that has always been regarded as a community in which development takes place in a very quick and orderly fashion and everybody is happy with what's going on, it's the city of Mississauga.

I found a very interesting article back in the Toronto Sun of January 19, which states: "Mississaugans Upset over Planning Process." It says that they are "`frustrated and angered by a planning process that doesn't ask for their opinions soon enough,' said a city official.

"Residents turn out by the hundreds at public meetings being held to discuss the official plan, but some residents said the meetings are just window dressing, because much of the work is near completion."

Now, I have no idea as to what's happening in Mississauga, other than the fact that I know it's certainly a community that over the years has developed actively and has had a civic leader there as their mayor who's been very proactive and pro-development. I don't want to judge what's happening in Mississauga, but it's interesting that these kind of comments indicate the frustration that the general public feels with respect to the planning process. It is the overriding mistake that was made in this Bill 20.


I find it very interesting. I can remember during the election campaign of last year that if there was one thing the Tories were going to do when they got elected, they were going to scrap Bill 163. They were going to scrap it. Of course, what they have done is they haven't scrapped it at all. They have basically fine-tuned some of the time frames that are in the act. The other very significant thing that they have done is they have literally taken the policy statement that was made part of Bill 163 and gutted it by coming up with a very weak policy statement that they currently have out for discussion purposes among, apparently, certain groups and certain stakeholders.

As I indicated earlier, one of the major faults with respect to the whole process of the public hearings on Bill 20 deals with the fact that the policy statement was not up for discussion by the committee, and there was group after group that indicated to us that they had some very serious concerns about particularly the environmental matters as stated in the policy statement.

My friend the member for St Catharines will be discussing the environmental issues further a little bit later on, but I think what it really shows is the total flaw in the process. How can you look at an act and the procedural framework that it contains to deal with planning in Ontario without dealing with the policy statements that, in effect, determine what kind of planning will take place, not only in Ontario as a whole but also within the individual communities?

It's a matter that I don't know how other governments have dealt with in the past. It's my understanding that this is sort of the way it's always been done, that when we look at an act we look at process and that the policy statements are something that's within cabinet and ministerial discretion.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have the opportunity to speak on this bill once again. I had the opportunity to serve very briefly on the committee in the final weeks of it, one day in the hearings in the city of Hamilton and the concluding week, when we dealt with various amendments that were brought before the committee for consideration.

I personally am not in favour of this act and have never been in favour of this act, even though I think there are some components of it that can be supported. I think in any piece of legislation it's unusual if there aren't at least some components that are very helpful.

The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is here this afternoon, a long-time friend of mine, and I have implored him on many occasions, and I know he's given a sympathetic ear to this, to ensure that we preserve agricultural land and, more importantly, the farmers who reside on that agricultural land. One of the themes that I have dealt with in my remarks on amendments to the Planning Act revolves around the whole issue of the preservation of agricultural land, because I have seen much of it disappear over a period of time since I've been in this Legislature. I note it most in the Niagara Peninsula because I have travelled between St Catharines and the city of Toronto for the past 19 years, and I cannot say that what I see happening is progress. In some cases it is; in some cases it is not.

What we have happening in many of the communities which are outside of Toronto is the construction of what we call bedroom communities for Metropolitan Toronto. In other words, they are places for people to reside who actually work in Toronto and who are oriented mostly to what's going on in the city of Toronto. We're seeing some of this take place in the Niagara Peninsula.

Where there is growth that takes place within a community to serve the needs of that individual community, that is understandable. So when we have development in St Catharines or Niagara Falls or Fort Erie or Port Colborne or other areas in the Niagara region that has to do with growth of jobs or growth of employment opportunities in those areas, it's understandable that we would seek corresponding growth in terms of new subdivisions and new developments of all kinds.

But what we are seeing essentially, and I know I annoy some of my friends in the Niagara Peninsula when I say this, is housing constructed essentially for people who live in Toronto, not for people who live in those communities. So the net benefit to that community is rather limited. There is a benefit for the community when the construction actually takes place. The benefit leaves when you see some of the services that are required.

I look at some of the very small municipalities which, on good agricultural land, although it is zoned and designated for it, are constructing new housing developments. Then, as an opposition member, I get called out by the people who have children in the area and say, "Well, of course Senator Gibson school in Beamsville needs an expansion." Why does it need an expansion? It needs an expansion because that municipality has development. Is that development there to serve the needs of that individual municipality? No, it's largely there to serve the needs of commuters who want to live there because the cost of housing is lower -- and I understand that, I appreciate that -- but who work in Hamilton or often Metropolitan Toronto or the greater Toronto area. So there's not a benefit there, and at the same time we're taking good agricultural land out of use.

The unique thing about the Niagara Peninsula, particularly the northern part, is that not only are the soils conducive to the growing of tender fruit and other products, but the climatic conditions are quite different, and that's more important. I think the Minister of Agriculture would agree with me that that's even more of a compelling reason. Below the escarpment, as we would say, or north of the escarpment -- I remember in a grade 13 geography class learning this -- there were on the average 27 more growing days below the escarpment than above the escarpment. That's quite remarkable, actually, when you think of that as a line of delineation for climatic purposes as well as other purposes. So when I see development taking place on those lands, development which is geared to serving Metropolitan Toronto rather than those communities alone, I become concerned.

As I say, having travelled this area for the past 19 years, I well recall when you could travel from Toronto to St Catharines and see the lush orchards which were there. Today I see so very often -- and again, the people who own these aren't going to be happy with my saying it -- some of the warehousing that's along the highway. I know that good economics is supposed to dictate that you put warehouses and service buildings along the highway, but I'll tell you, it certainly does not attract people to the Niagara Peninsula any more.

When I see Stoney Creek being eaten up with development -- and some parts of Stoney Creek should be developed. There has to be that; I don't deny that -- but when I see the lovely agricultural land, the attraction of the Niagara Peninsula, being taken up with so much development, I don't consider that to be progress.

I know the Minister of Agriculture has spoken on many occasions about the importance of the agriculture industry. I happen to think that we in this province, or at least some people in the province, do not look upon the agriculture industry as so important an industry as they should, and it is important. The minister will tell you and others who are interested in and involved in agriculture will tell you that in fact there are millions and billions of dollars that are derived from the production of fruit and production of other food, animals and so on, that really contribute extensively to this province.

I know, for instance, that at Algoma in Sault Ste Marie they had a problem there with a plant that might have gone out of operation. The government rushed quickly, and I thought justifiably, to assist in maintaining that operation. There was some downsizing, there was some rationalization, there were some concessions that were made both by management and by the employees and the representative of the employees. There was some assistance from the provincial government. But in my view, and it's not a view shared by everybody, I thought that what emerged from that was good for Sault Ste Marie and good for Ontario.


The reason I use that particular point is because when a crisis happens in agriculture, because it's spread so far across the province and it's not in one town, it's not in one community, we tend not to look upon it as an important crisis, as it would be when a major plant is closing.

So I believe the agriculture industry is important. There isn't a boundless amount of land available. I know people like to say Canada is a large land. Well, tell me how much food you can grow north of Sudbury, for instance. There's not a lot of food that you're going to grow there, because the climatic conditions are not conducive to it. You have some good potato farming in the Sudbury area, some other things do grow, but by and large there's a strip of land along the border between Canada and the United States which is conducive to farming.

I think we have had a good history in this province of capable farmers. We've been good in the production of food. People from the Communist countries, who were never as successful as we have been, often came to Canada to see why we were successful in the production of food. Part of it was our economic system, part of it was our political system and part of it was simply the knowhow of those who had farms and owned those farms themselves as opposed to having the state own the farms, and they had a contribution to make to that.

But what I'm seeing happening now is more and more development in the Niagara Peninsula and in the periphery of Toronto, in areas where the farm land is good and where simply it's nice to have some agricultural area, or rural area, I should say, as opposed to necessarily agricultural, to give you -- it's an intangible -- some peace of mind. When you go down through Halton Hills and places like that, Campbellford and so on, what a nice trail to go down when you miss the turnoff at Highway 403 for some reason and you're compelled to come down the Guelph Line. We're always too busy wanting to rush from one place to another. What a treat it is to come down Guelph Line or one of the other lines that come through that agricultural area and that rural area.

I hope it will not happen that we'll continue to lose these lands, but I see in this bill the possibility that with the loosening of environmental regulations, with less consideration being given to wetlands, which are so important to our environment, with less consideration given to agricultural land, with less consideration given to all of the environmental aspects, we're going to have a diminished quality of life in Ontario. It's a quality of life that has been built up over the years.

Speaking on a planning issue, I couldn't speak without talking about the Niagara Escarpment Commission, particularly with my good friend the member for Carleton, Norm Sterling, if I may use his name -- we're not supposed to. He is a good friend of mine and has been a long-time colleague, came into the Legislature at the same time, now Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I wish in this specific case that the Niagara Escarpment Commission were under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, because I know of the very hard work that he did in helping to establish the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the Niagara Escarpment plan. Again, that is something that a Conservative government did in the past. I've said on occasions I like to be fair to people and compliment them on what they've done in years gone by if it is something that's positive for the province. I want to give Premier Davis and Minister Sterling the greatest of credit in this regard and others.

My fear is that with the loosening of the environmental regulations in Bill 20, the planning act, much of what Mr Sterling was trying to build in this province in terms of a wonderful setting for people, an internationally acclaimed area being protected, will be diminished, that we'll start seeing the kind of development we shouldn't see on those lands because of the pressures coming on them.

Now, I have read from time to time -- and this is why I was sorry that one of the cuts that's being made in services to the assembly involves the newspapers from the various small towns, because that's where you really find out when the government members are saying something where they don't think the big-city people will find out that they're saying it. So I pick up a newspaper from Wellandport and I read my good friend the member for Lincoln saying that the Niagara Escarpment Commission is as good as gone, and the Owen Sound Sun Times quoting the member for Grey-Owen Sound, Mr Murdoch, as saying that the minister says he's going to be happy with what she is going to do with the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

Fortunately, we have a minister with considerable clout and power in the cabinet who is committed to it: the member for Carleton. I know that with his reputation on the line, he will do as much as possible to ensure that this is preserved. But the provisions of Bill 26 certainly will not help him in this task -- I was trying to pronounce "Herculean," but I can't -- this Hercules-like task he has. It's too hard for me to say because it's in the middle of the afternoon and I have a cold.

Anyway, now that I've paid tribute to the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and all the good things that some of the Conservative governments have done in the past, I must go on to other provisions of the bill and tell you why I think there are problems.

Mr Hardeman, the member for Oxford, carried the bill in committee and went around the province to listen to what people had to say. There were some changes made to the bill, not many, but I want to thank him for a couple of changes that I thought made the bill more responsive to the needs of the general public.

What was most unfortunate was that the member for Middlesex, Mr Smith, sat on the committee. I want to tell you why that was unfortunate, that there's something wrong with our system of government. The member for Middlesex, I believe, in his previous incarnation was a planner in the city of London. Here's a person with some considerable expertise, and I wasn't being mischievous in committee -- I can't say I'm that way all the time -- when I kept wanting to get his opinion specifically on whether the time lines contained in this bill could really be met by a municipality. Unfortunately, the cat had his tongue, for some reason. I know how this happens. I've been in government and opposition. What usually happens is that somebody in the government says: "You shouldn't be speaking on this in an independent way. You cannot contradict the parliamentary assistant, who is carrying the bill."

That's most unfortunate for those of us in this House, because there are some people who come from a background where that would be very helpful. I suspect that almost any government in power would want the parliamentary assistant to be the official spokesperson and would not encourage the other person to speak out, but that's what we lose. The committee system, it seems to me, should be a little more flexible, because we lost that opportunity. If the member for Middlesex had said, "Actually, in my professional opinion as a planner, I think these time lines are reasonable," I might have been more accepting of what the government was doing, because I respect a person's professional opinion regardless of what happens. I'd be interested in that, and I would hope that members of the government don't get to their members and say, "You shouldn't really say what would be contradictory to the bill." But during committee I regretted that, because I think he could have made a contribution.

I happen to think the new time lines are unrealistic. One of the differences between this government and the previous Conservative government, in my view, is that this government is much less practical and far more ideological. In other words, there was an ideological commitment to keep that you must downsize, that you must speed up regardless of whether it can be done or not.

I'll tell you why I don't think it can be done. I think it cannot be done because at the same time that we're asking municipalities and the provincial government to process applications from the development industry more quickly, we are cutting staff in municipalities, staff in various departments which must deal with these, staff in the various boards of education, in such organizations as the conservation authorities. Because there is less staff available to deal with these, either they're going to get a nod and a wink and not the kind of scrutiny they should, with long-term environmental implications that could be costly to the taxpayer in the long term, or we're going to have to change those time lines back. They simply cannot be met, in my view, by a shrunken staff. I see that as a very significant problem.


When we met in Hamilton, the people who were against it were largely -- we had people from the federation of naturalists, we had people from community organizations; we had a number of people who appeared who were in opposition to it. Essentially, the only group I can recall that was in favour of it was developers. I understand why the developers would be in favour. If I were a developer, I might say it's quite attractive to see a reduction of the environmental regulations, quite attractive to see what I would consider to be better time lines in dealing with this.

But I don't think it's going to be better, even for them, in the long run. You've made a significant change, and maybe it depends, on the part of the province and your own philosophy, whether you think this is reasonable, but it's the decision of whether it should say "be consistent with" or "have regard to" in terms of the provincial policy statements that apply to planning at the local level.

Previously, in the legislation that existed, it said "be consistent with." I happen to agree with that because I think there's better protection for the general environment if that were the case. But there's a second reason, and I think the people in the development industry and municipalities should be aware of this. You're going to have far more arguments taking place before the OMB and before other bodies and in negotiations using the terminology "have regard for," because it's less definite, less definitive, and for that reason I can see many debates taking place over exactly what that means. "Be consistent with" is far more definitive and I think superior in terms of protecting the environment.

One of my other concerns was that the policy statements the province is developing are not finalized at this time. There have been some discussions about them but we have not seen a finalized form. I happen to believe that this bill should not have been dealt with until such time as those policy statements were completed, with appropriate input from all segments of the population.

I know that in addition to the development industry in general -- I'm not saying everybody, but the development industry in general -- some municipalities and some municipal politicians are in favour of this bill. Part of the reason is that some local municipalities like to have the opportunity to make decisions they feel are within the purview of their own municipality. I happen to think that while it is true that local input is very useful, when it comes to controversial items it's much more difficult for local politicians to resist the pressure of those proposing a development than it is for those at the provincial level. That's regardless, in my view, of which party happens to be in power. They're more objective at the provincial level. They are less likely to be influenced, because it's not somebody's friend you're granting the severance to or not somebody's friend you're doing a special favour for. It's difficult at the local level for people to be able to resist those pressures.

If I were sitting on a municipal council and a good friend came up and said, "I need this severance" or "I need this special consideration," sure I'm going to turn it down, because that's my nature, but that pressure is very difficult. That's very difficult for local politicians to deal with.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): If he was a Canadiens fan.

Mr Murdoch: If he was for the Montreal Canadiens, he'd be all right.

Mr Bradley: My friend the member for Grey-Owen Sound interjects in a standing position. I know that's illegal to say, but I was relatively nice to him in committee and didn't pick too many fights with him in this regard. I didn't even mention his good friend Michael Valpy, the columnist with the Globe and Mail, who has written so many glowing tributes to the planning initiatives that were under the auspices of my friend the member for Grey-Owen Sound. I was kind enough, Bill, not to do that.

I also want to deal with lot levies. I know that some of the people don't like lot levies. If you're in the building industry, you're not going to like them, because you want to be able to provide a product you can sell at a price where it can be sold and you also want to make a reasonable profit. I understand that, and that's good for the business and that's what we want to see, but the change that's taking place is perhaps a bit subtle; nevertheless it has important ramifications for the province.

Lot levies, as we know, pay for such things as new sewers, roads, garbage collection facilities, police stations, cruisers, parks and recreation centres. The present Minister of Municipal Affairs -- I wish him well in his bout with ill health at this time; if he's watching his television set I want to pass along my very best wishes for a very quick recovery to the minister -- wants to have lot levies, I am told, for only hard services. That's essentially roads, sewers and garbage disposal. Everything else the municipality will have to pay for out of taxes. When you have new development, there are costs far beyond those hard services: There are the softer services which I've described; there are new needs in the field of education; there are new recreational needs; there are needs of expansion of libraries or for special libraries.

I know that it's attractive to have development, because municipal politicians often believe that the new amount of money they're going to get in taxes, the new assessment, is going to be beneficial. I have a paper which was done by Dr Joseph Kushner of Brock University. I've described him on many occasions as a very small-c conservative individual who has probably voted Conservative more than anything else. Probably not last time, but he doesn't tell me how he votes.

He has put out a paper called The Effect of Urban Growth on Municipal Taxes. I won't read it word for word, because it is a very technical document by an economist. Essentially, he comes to the conclusion in this very detailed study that there is very little benefit, in fact sometimes no benefit at all, or a detriment in terms of taxes gained over expenditures needed with new development in municipalities, particularly with new residential and commercial development, although some industrial development can produce for a municipality some additional funds which can be helpful to the community.

For many people in municipal politics the word "grow" is extremely important, the word "expand" is extremely important, and unfortunately in many cases we measure the so-called progress by how much expansion and how much growth and how much development take place. We all know there's a need for some development, particularly for redevelopment and improving the community, as we go along, but I'm not convinced that this bill is going to help us in terms of good planning processes in Ontario.

We have reduced consultation with the public as a result of this. I understand the problem. I sat on a municipal council, and it would drive members of the municipal council around the bend to watch one person with an idiosyncracy of some kind hold up a development forever that was really accepted by the whole community. That we didn't want to see, and I understand when we want to sidestep that kind of circumstance arising, but I believe that the government, although reinserted to a certain extent, has taken away some of the opportunities for input by the public.

Let me tell you why it's important to have that. If you make an environmental mistake at the beginning, you pay a huge price later on. That's for instances where we allow development to take place near an old garbage dump, and everyone thinks: "Well, isn't this good. The dump is gone. The land is covered. There's no problem." There's methane gas which is produced. In the Kitchener-Waterloo area, for instance, they had a problem with an explosion from an old dump site adjacent to a housing development. I have seen other cases, when I was Minister of the Environment, where mistakes were made years ago that the taxpayers of the province had to pay for subsequently. That's why I think it's important to deal with the environmental considerations early on.

The hearings I thought were very good, listening to how some people were bringing forward their concerns -- naturalists, as I say, out there; preservationists; conservationists. That's very close to the word "conservative"; preserving and conserving used to be an important part of the mandate of the governments in years gone by, and I get concerned when I see that leaving.


Another problem associated with Bill 20 is Bill 26 and some of the powers that flow from Bill 26 as well, but I've had a chance to speak extensively on Bill 26, so I don't want to go into the details of that again, except we all know that one of the problems with Bill 26 was that unlike this bill -- and I will say this about this bill: it dealt with the Planning Act of Ontario. What was wrong with Bill 26 was that it was an omnibus bill that included measures affecting municipalities but certainly included a lot of other items about 47 different acts.

One of the concerns I have is about amalgamations taking place and how they're going to take place. The city of London, for instance, had an amalgamation with Middlesex. In Middlesex there was a problem with an adjacent township in the area. At least a bill had to come before this House, and there was a good debate in this House on it and there were public hearings on it. The changes that I'm seeing are going to mean this Legislature is going to have to deal with far fewer of those. Those deals can be made locally and often not to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. There's not an adjudicating body, such as the Legislative Assembly, with more objectivity to deal with these matters.

Another problem I see, and it gets back to why we don't have enough staff, is the tax cut. I know the members were wondering when I was going to deal with the tax cut and how it affects this bill.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: It was really never a problem when the Liberals were in power. No cuts; 65 increases.

Mr Bradley: I well recall the 172 tax increases and fee increases under the Conservative government. I don't mention those because I know they were raising those taxes at the time for the purpose of trying to provide good programs in this province. I don't criticize the government for those kinds of tax increases that they put forward as the Progressive Conservatives in the past. They were obviously supported by some of the members here.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): That's since Confederation.

Mr Bradley: No, that's the period of time in which you were in power, your government was in power. I shouldn't answer interjections; the Speaker will tell me that.

What's happening is that Bill 26 and the tax cut are tied in with this bill, because what they're doing is forcing municipalities to either raise municipal taxes or raise service fees at the local level. Those do not take into account the municipalities' ability to pay. The other option is that they have to cut staff at the local level, staff who are going to be required under this legislation to deal with development proposals at a much more rapid rate than previously was the case.

So the province gets its credit. It cuts its provincial income tax -- the most progressive tax, by the way, the one that takes into account a person's ability to pay, the one that really says that if you make a lot more money, you pay a lot more taxes; that's the one that's being cut, the most progressive tax -- in order to force municipalities to raise the most regressive tax -- the municipal property tax -- and those service fees, service charges. As I say, both do not take into account the ability of the individual to pay.

Because of that, we're seeing municipalities scrambling. They're laying off staff left and right. It seems to me that in the planning department, the engineering department, the parks and recreation department, for instance, none of them is going to be able to deal with development proposals at the speed which is countenanced in this legislation, because of all of those cutbacks.

Of course, we know that in order to implement the tax cut, the government is going to have to borrow over $20 billion over its mandate. Now to my Conservative friends who may say, "I'm not so worried about the cuts, but you mean to tell me they're going to borrow this money, they don't have it already?" I have to say, "I'm afraid so." They actually have to borrow over $20 billion, add something like $30 billion more to the debt during their term of office, just so they can give a tax cut that largely is going to benefit rich people and is going to force municipalities to cut staff who would be needed to implement this bill.

You ask, "Where are you getting these figures?" I'm getting them right here, in a document known as the Common Sense Revolution. They're right in here. I'm looking at a table which says, "Common Sense Revolution Projections to Fiscal Year 2000-01." It's all in there, that they're going to have to borrow over $20 billion to give this tax cut.

I understand now why the member for Wellington -- and I remember his predecessor, a good friend of mine, Jack Johnson -- the present member for Wellington, Ted Arnott, has said it's reckless. I saw that in the paper. I've often been impressed with some of the arguments that the member for Wellington has put forward in this Legislature, particularly this argument. I understand that he has sent a letter to the Premier where he says the tax cut is reckless, and I agree. The member for Etobicoke West, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore and the member for Grey-Owen Sound, with whom I disagree on some occasions, have all said, "Should we be proceeding with this tax cut?"

I think one of the reasons they're wondering that is that they're wondering whether municipalities, if we proceed with this tax cut, are going to be able to have the staff necessary to deal with these applications. There's a great complaint against the Niagara Escarpment Commission that it takes too long to deal with items. What was the solution that the government came forward with? The government is cutting staff. I think they cut six out of seven planners in the Niagara area from the Niagara Escarpment Commission. If you want to process the applications more quickly, with extensive consideration of the applications, it seems to me you have to have the appropriate staff to do it. But as you can see, all of this comes in together, all of this ties in together when we look at the implications of Bill 20.

There were several amendments put forward -- I don't think I can recall any that were accepted -- from the environmental community or the opposition. If there were, they were ones which the government was bringing forward itself, some minor ones.

Ms Churley: None.

Mr Bradley: "None," says the member for Riverdale, and who am I to question her accuracy on this item? She says there were none accepted. That's unfortunate, because there's this theory out there that somehow, once we go through the hearing process, people will have an opportunity to introduce amendments and they'll be seriously considered. As usual, the parliamentary assistant had his marching orders from the government. I know that's how it works. I'm not personally attacking the parliamentary assistant; it's not his fault. But that's what happens. They tell the parliamentary assistant, "You can't accept any changes of any significance to this legislation." I think the legislation could have been improved considerably.

The government has a majority and it's going to be able to pass anything. That's the result of the election, and in a democratic system we accept the way that an election goes. I know there are those who say the government got only 45% of the vote and so on. It doesn't matter. The system under which we ran was a system that we all ran under and we all know the rules under. So the government was elected.

That means then that it really takes something extra on the part of the government, in a majority position, knowing that it can get anything it wants through, to listen more assiduously to the arguments that are put forward by the opposition and people who are not always applauding the government. But unfortunately there were very few changes made to this legislation, and as a result I think we have a much weakened environmental regime.

Let me tell you why else I'm fearful of this: The government is cutting so drastically and so quickly that we are losing resources and staff in various ministries. The Minister of Agriculture is here. I won't ask him to comment; his job is to defend government policy, and I accept that. But I lament when I hear some of the Tory backbenchers -- I was reading the newspaper the other day, so I can quote it, the St Catharines Standard. I was reading where the member for St Catharines-Brock, my good friend Tom Froese, and the member for Lincoln, Mr Sheehan, were both -- I think they both signed the letter to the Minister of Agriculture or the Premier or somebody saying they wanted to see the promise kept that there would not be cuts in the Ministry of Agriculture.


Let me tell you why it's important that the Minister of Agriculture and the ministry have that staff available, and I'm trying to help him out with this today, as I always try to help him out. It is because their people have to play a role in the planning process. If the Ministry of Agriculture doesn't have the staff available to be commenting on proposals that are coming forward that would impact agricultural land, then my fear is that the development will take place without that kind of extra consideration that's needed.

The same can be said for the Ministry of Environment. If the Ministry of Environment is drastically cutting staff, is drastically cutting resources, has a huge budget reduction all at once, then what is happening is that we have far more care and consideration of the overall environment in this province.

I know there's a feeling out there that just because we're into a situation where environment isn't first on the list -- it's not the headlines in the newspaper, it's not the first story on the 6 o'clock news, it's not featured often by magazines -- that somehow it is pushed into the background. But if you scrape the surface, you will find that people of all political affiliations have a real belief that we must protect the environment. I think the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has played a role in that in years gone by, as directly have the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and other ministries.

With this, I see another aspect of it that was very bad, in my view. The only ministry that can appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board is the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Having been in government and having observed government in years gone by, if you ask me to believe that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is going to present the case of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation or the Ministry of Environment as eloquently, as thoroughly, as comprehensively and as competently as those ministries, I certainly cannot believe that's the case. I believe there's a real danger in only the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which is largely interested in development by its very nature, having all of that power and excluding the Ministry of Agriculture and others from that kind of direct appeal. I have seen in the past some very good representations made by the ministries of agriculture and food, environment, natural resources and culture when there have been significant cases before the OMB.

People will say, "Well, don't you want a cohesive government position?" While there's a lot of virtue to that politically, I'm not convinced, in the quality of life that we're looking for, that a cohesive government policy in an OMB hearing is necessarily a virtue. In fact, I like the freedom of individual ministries to be able to state their case and then allow an objective body such as the OMB to make its final judgement.

So I think this bill, Bill 20, which could have been a step forward, is in fact a step backward. Here's a comment from Kathleen Cooper, who is a researcher who specializes in planning issues for the Canadian Environmental Law Association: "This takes us back to the 1950s.... What this proposed set of rules invites is more sprawl, more money spent on sewers and other infrastructure we can no longer afford, more traffic, more smog, and the continued loss of whatever natural heritage areas we have left."

I'll have to drink some water so I can continue this. I always have a cold when I'm doing this.

David Brown, director of Brock University's Environmental Policy Institute, said he sees "the new rules as another step the province has taken to weaken many of the environmental protection laws that have been put in place over the past 20 years." Notice he didn't just say the NDP years, the Liberal years. He said "the past 20 years," which included some of the more progressive elements of the Progressive Conservative Party when indeed the word "Progressive" was meaningful in the term "Progressive Conservative" describing the party.

Mr Brown said, "Too much of Niagara's rural landscape has already been lost and the loss of more would further degrade the environment and could also hurt the local economy by making the area a less attractive place to live and do business." The NDP legislation, which was opposed by many of the province's developers, although it was based on a pretty good consensus, "forbid development in areas designed as prime agricultural and environmentally sensitive land and made it harder to build on lands adjacent to those areas. In Niagara, where I'm from, such areas include large tracts of the Niagara Escarpment, lands around significant watercourses and marshes like those near the mouth of the Twenty Mile Creek and Jordan Harbour and lands zoned agricultural in the fruit belt."

The Minister of Agriculture would be interested in this. One of the best presentations made was by the Christian Farmers Federation. A very thoughtful document was presented. I didn't agree with everything in it by any means, but I thought a lot of what they presented really made a lot of sense. They got into the issue of severances, and the minister knows my view on the proposal for a much easier severance policy in the Niagara Peninsula.

I happen to know that there are farmers in the other parts of the province who look upon that proposal with some disdain and would hope that the Minister of Agriculture wouldn't necessarily grant those, and so far he hasn't, and I want to give him credit. I had to defend him the other day. Some people were in to see me who don't agree with my position and were blaming me for influencing the Minister of Agriculture, if you could ever believe that. But I happen to believe that his cautious, conservative stance in that instance is a very useful one.

If I had the time under the new rules of the House -- I don't have the time to go on at some length as I might. At one time you could speak without any restrictions on the time, and I had several more documents I wanted to read into the record but I can't do that.

Let me capsulize by simply saying that this is another back-to-the-future document by this government. It is a retrograde step. It is one that will have detrimental long-term environmental consequences for this province and it will simply set us back several years in terms of the planning process, and I implore the government not to proceed with third reading.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Questions or comments?

Ms Churley: I would like to thank and congratulate -- and I don't often do this -- the Liberal member for St Catharines on his remarks. The member for St Catharines did join us at our committee hearings on several occasions and joined in with me, certainly not with the Tories, on talking about the importance of environmental protection.

One of the things that I get accused of from time to time is that I am a city person and don't understand development and therefore my voice somehow isn't quite legitimate, even though I did sit on Toronto city council at one time and, believe me, ran afoul of some developers. In fact that's how I got elected, in some ways, fighting some terrible development that we all know about that was happening at Harbourfront in the city of Toronto.


The reason I like to hear from the member, coming back to the member for St Catharines, however, is that he is from the Niagara region and he talks, far more eloquently than I can and than can many people in this room, about the importance of protecting this very valuable farm land. His voice should be listened to because he's quite right when he says there is not a lot of this very valuable farm land within the boundaries of Ontario and that he has been seeing over the years this very delicate fruit land being developed and that he is expressing fears that this Bill 20 is going to contribute to unfettered development in that area. That's a major concern that we should all --


Ms Churley: I see that the Minister of Agriculture is here, and I would ask him to listen to Mr Bradley and appeal to his caucus at this very last minute to try to make some amendments.

Mr Baird: I listened with great interest to the speech of my colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands in the first part of the official opposition's 90-minute leadoff. It was interesting. He talked about how there was no public consultation of this bill, none whatsoever. Then he was reminded that, yes, the committee went for three weeks around the province of Ontario listening to the public, there were groups for and against, and a lot of individuals came out to express their strong concerns to the committee. And, yes, even he acknowledged that the government listened, referring to the issue of referring minor variances to the Ontario Municipal Board. At the committee, the government members were there, and we listened and always were pleased to receive input from the public.

I also noted in my colleague's speech that he spoke about the one-window approach and expressed concern about it. I remember him speaking on the one-window approach during committee. At that time he said, "I personally like this notion of it going through one particular ministry, because if you phone somebody here in Toronto within government, at least you'd have somebody to contact, rather than having to contact 15 or 20 different people in different ministries about this." I would very much agree with him. I agreed with him in committee when he said it. He went on to say: "Your notion of the one-window approach, as contained in this act, is certainly something that I think most people can relate to, because at least you would know which ministry is the lead ministry," which I couldn't agree more with my friend from Kingston and The Islands on.

After hearing his great speech here in this place, I was left with the thought: Is he going to vote for it or against it? I sat through many hours, many days of hearings. I know my colleagues in the New Democratic Party took a position against the bill, and I'm looking forward to the vote to find out how my friend in the Liberal Party will be voting on this bill.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): In support with my colleagues from St Catharines and Kingston and The Islands, I'll have to say that the time frame is unacceptable. When I say unacceptable, it's because the small municipalities just won't be able to meet the time frame established in this bill.

I'm thinking of the rural municipalities which don't have the resources at the time to meet those deadlines. This will result in having to hire a consultant, and all the way through we could see that this bill is meant to give additional work to the consultant. But in turn, really, the consultant, especially in a small rural area, doesn't know the area, and with the time frame that is within this Bill 20, even the staff or the people from the municipality won't be able to work with the consultant, and the zoning amendment or the planning amendment will not really meet the needs of the municipalities.

I'm just thinking also of the region of Sudbury. In this bill we don't address the concern of those people, the concern of the village of Noëlville. I remember this chap came up to see us. He said he had 360 acres of farm land. He was not able to sever any land, and this bill will not permit this gentleman from Sudbury.

Going back to the time frame, the city of Gloucester, the county of Oxford and the city of London all say it's impossible to meet the time frame, and this will mean additional cost to all those municipalities to proceed with the requirements of the developers.

Mr Bisson: Just quickly in regard to my friend from Niagara Falls and the point that he makes about moving to the one-window approach and how the government sees this as a wonderful means to be able to streamline the whole process of planning, I just want to echo something that he said in those comments, which is, the government is in the middle of the process of cutting drastically the budgets to all of the provincial ministries in the government of Ontario, and included in that is the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The member for St Catharines, I should say, not Niagara Falls, makes a very, very good point. At the very time that the government is going to be cutting those budgets for the ministry -- that means to say they're not going to have the staff to be able to respond to all of the requests coming forward -- they're making the Ministry of Municipal Affairs the only ministry in the government of Ontario that can bring an appeal forward to the OMB.

Presently, under Bill 163, as it was prior to 163, various ministries that had provincial policies that touched on planning had the ability to monitor what was happening in regard to a particular development, but secondly, if there was a concern, they were able to bring an objection forward to the OMB. I think we can agree on all sides of the House, within all three parties, that we need to figure out a way to make sure the objections are based on sound provincial policies in regard to not trying to obstruct development just for that sake. But for the questions of policy, when the government is coming back and is cutting the budget of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs as drastically as it is, which means to say they're going to have far fewer civil servants to be able to do the job of reviewing the applications that come before it and the work that's going to go before the OMB, I would say you're really going to get yourself into a lot of trouble in the longer run because the ministry will not be able to respond to what goes on in regard to planning in the province of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Kingston and The Islands, you have two minutes to respond.

Mr Gerretsen: First of all, I'd like to thank my colleague for taking half the time. He always deals very eloquently with environmental matters and agricultural matters, as he did again today. I'd also like to thank the members for Nepean, Riverdale, Cochrane South and Prescott-Russell for their comments as well.

Ms Churley: What about Riverdale?

Mr Gerretsen: I did say Riverdale.

It's unfortunate, once again, that the member for Nepean simply wasn't listening to the words of wisdom and eloquence that came from this side of the House, because I made it quite clear in my opening statement that we would not be supporting this bill. I outlined 10 reasonable amendments that were put forward by our party that were not accepted by the government for voting against the bill. One of them deals with this whole notion of a one-window approach. No question about it, a one-window approach is the way to go, but what's happened here is we've seen maybe one fifth of the total thing that is involved to make that happen, without seeing the other four fifths.

It's all right in legislation to set out a process by saying the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will be in charge and everybody else will be reporting through it. The problem is, as I made quite clear in my remarks, that the public, the development community, the municipalities, all of the various actors and players in the development business, in the development and planning process, have to know what the protocols are between the various ministries, how it's going to operate and how this one particular ministry is going to take charge. That's lacking, and therefore we cannot support the bill.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bisson: I would ask for unanimous consent that I take the balance of the day today and the remainder goes to the critic of the environment tomorrow. So there'd be approximately 30 minutes for me and whatever is left at the end for the critic tomorrow.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Bisson: I'm going to try to move through this fairly quickly in 30 minutes. I think to properly do the justice that is needed to be done in this whole debate in regard to what's happening to the planning process of Ontario -- quite frankly, you can't do in 30 minutes. I'll try to go through it as quickly as possible and try to put together the scenario so that people back home who are watching really understand what is going on here in the province of Ontario today.

First of all, let's turn back to pre-163. Just so people know what we're talking about, under the NDP government, back in 1994-95, the NDP government changed the planning process in Ontario under a bill that was called Bill 163, and that bill did a number of things. We'll talk about that later. But prior to Bill 163, planning in this province was governed as per the Planning Act of the day. The Planning Act of the day, quite frankly, didn't adequately reflect a number of issues of sound management when it comes to planning in the province of Ontario when it came to two or three different points primarily.


The first point was that the act in itself tended to be fairly bureaucratic. I think we all agree -- the Conservatives, the New Democrats and the Liberals -- that the original Planning Act, as it stood prior to the NDP changes made under Bill 163, was quite slow and rigorous on a number of occasions. People trying to make amendments to official plans in municipalities or changes to plans to subdivisions or even trying to move forward with a motion in regard to a minor variance really had a difficult time trying to move that application forward through the process of planning, and through the process of approval more so, to finally getting an application approved in the end. Everybody agreed that something had to be done. That was the situation pre-Bill 163.

The other thing, quite frankly, was that the original Planning Act did not adequately deal with proper planning as good principles of planning and how we applied planning in the province of Ontario. The developments that have happened over the years in regard to how we can do better planning were not reflected in the old act. For an example, under the old act there was very much an encouragement of urban sprawl.

We know, for an example, that if you allow development just to go on willy-nilly, without any good, sound provincial policies and any sound planning process, what you end up with in the end is really an increased cost to the municipality when it comes to the amount of taxes that the taxpayers have to pay, because if you don't properly plan for how you're going to do your planning when it comes to development in the province, it makes it rather difficult for costs to be contained over a period of time.


Mr Bisson: I wonder, Mr Speaker, if we could have some order. It is really getting a little -- Mr Speaker? I wonder if you can try to --

The Acting Speaker: Would you take your seat, please. There are too many discussions going on. I have difficulty hearing the debate. I would ask you to please refrain from entertaining any discussions.

Mr Bisson: As I was saying, improper planning in regard to what was allowed to happen under the old Planning Act prior to Bill 163, the NDP changes to the Planning Act, really added to poor planning that cost municipalities money in the long run. For an example, if we allow urban sprawl to happen without any good planning principles, the Minister of Transportation, who is listening to this debate, would well know that the question of transit and the question of transportation cannot be adequately dealt with.

It was a feeling within the province with planners, developers, municipal aldermen and mayors across the province, along with people in the ministry, that something needed to be done to take a look at how we deal with planning, so that we're able, over a longer period of time, as a province, to make sure that we look at quality-of-life issues as we do planning, at development in our communities, and, number two, we're able to plan in such a way that we can look down the road and look into the future as to how we can do planning so that it costs the taxpayers less money over a longer period of time.

I would just like to read an article that appeared in the Globe and Mail back in November 1995 that speaks to this directly. It says:

"Continued sprawl will require a capital investment of $82.5 billion by 2021...a figure dominated by the unavoidable costs of roads, sewer pipes, parks and schools. On the other hand, a more compact form of development capable of accommodating the same population will cost $69 billion by the same date.

"Dr Blais reports that the operating and maintenance costs of sprawl-based hard services will amount to $25 billion by 2021. More compact development will generate equivalent costs of $18 billion."

So I think there's a lot of work that has been done to show that if you allow development to go forward holus-bolus without good, sound planning principles, you really get into a problem where it's going to cost you a lot more money in the long run.

The government of the day, the NDP government of Bob Rae, under the ministry of first Mr Cooke and then Mr Philip, recognized that something had to be done, not because they had the be-all and end-all of planning and they understood all the issues but because quite frankly legislators in this House, of all three parties, were making the point that we had to find a way to streamline the planning process so that (a) we have sound planning principles, (b) we protect our environment and (c) we streamline the process to make it easier for developers.

The government of the day, under Bob Rae and under the Minister of Municipal Affairs, did two things. There was a two-pronged approach to what we would do. In regard to the question of how we streamline the planning process so that we cut some of the red tape that's there, Dale Martin was appointed in order to deal with some of the issues around red tape. At the same time the Sewell commission, made up of John Sewell, Toby Vigod and George Penfold, was put together in order to look at the longer-term questions about how you reform the Planning Act to do those three things: (1) have a sound approach to planning that is keeping with good environmental policy, (2) have a situation where we're able to cut some of the red tape and (3) be able to adopt better and sounder planning principles. That was the beginning of all of that.

Over a period of four years, the work that Mr Martin did in regard to cutting some of the red tape and the work of John Sewell brought us to where we were with Bill 163. Bill 163 was tabled in the House, I believe, in 1993 or 1994. Under Sewell the planning process underwent two years of consultation, with over 2,000 submissions from people who know something about planning.

I would echo what the member for St Catharines, Mr Bradley, said: Not all members of the House are experts when it comes to planning. I would argue there are very few of us in this House who really understand planning in such detail that they would be able to come up with the perfect Planning Act. I would argue that there may be one or two members in this House who understand it well enough to do that, and I don't include myself in that category.

That's why we sent Mr Sewell out along with others -- to be able to consult with planners, to be able to consult with municipal politicians and developers, environmentalists and other people who have an interest in planning, to be able to come back with recommendations about how we reform the Planning Act so that in the end the Planning Act reflects those principles we spoke of. Two years later, along with 2,000 submissions, came forward a series of recommendations that eventually, for the most part, found themselves contained within what was known at the time as Bill 163.

What did Bill 163 do? This is critical to understanding what this government is up to. On the question of cutting the red tape, Bill 163 did quite a bit. It cut the backlog at the OMB from 18 to 12 months. People know that the Ontario Municipal Board, known as the OMB, is the final level of appeal that you can go to as a developer or as a constituent to oppose or support a project that might have been rejected, for one reason or another, by a municipality, or vice versa. There was a problem where there were a lot of cases going to the OMB and it was taking too long to get them through that appeal process.

Under Bill 163, we cut that backlog at the OMB from 18 months down to 12. I think that is a huge improvement, a 33% improvement, in regard to what happened at the OMB. We increased at the OMB, an increase of 36%, the amount of cases the OMB is able to deal with at any time within a calendar year. We had a quicker process to bring people through the OMB process because of a couple of initiatives taken under Bill 163, and also what had happened with Mr Martin.

We also moved on the question of support of an alternative dispute resolution mechanism under Bill 163 that says not everything that goes on out there should go to the OMB. I think we all agree on that. All members, all sides of the House, I think agree that we need to find other ways other than just automatically referring things off to the OMB.

Allow me to be critical at this point of municipal governments, local mayors and aldermen, because I see it in communities across Ontario. Often a development will go forward -- and we all know this -- that might be good for a community, but because there are a few people within the community who are influential when it comes to the votes of people on council, the municipality will not make the decision to approve that particular application as quickly as they should, and in fact sometimes they reject it, so that they automatically refer it off to the OMB and in the end the OMB says, "Yes, it should have gone ahead."

I've seen that in a number of cases in my own municipality, and I'm sure the member for Middlesex, as a planner of many years, has seen that, where municipalities did not take the responsibility they should have to deal with adequately responding to what projects should go forward and what should not. Often there's been this reaction by municipalities to pass it up to the OMB because the decision to be made at the local level was a bit of a hot political potato. I wouldn't say that's the majority of cases, but that certainly does happen.

I think that goes contrary to what the government argues, where planning should be put strictly in the hands of local municipalities, because I think we need to recognize municipalities do play politics, as we do -- and I'm the first one to admit that -- as politicians play politics with the question of what should be approved. What we tried to do under Bill 163 was to say, "Let's have a professional planning process that is as free as can be from political intervention and political interference when it comes to allowing projects to go forward." Bill 163 tried to deal with that, so we looked as well at automatically sending things off to the OMB, going to a supportive alternative dispute resolution mechanism where we're trying to deal with those things outside of the court of planning, which is called the OMB.


The other thing we did was to put absolute limits under Bill 163 -- that's what the NDP government did -- in order to put limits on the approval of official plan amendments, because in the past there were not such limits. We recognized as a government, Bob Rae, Ed Philip and others, that we needed to do something in order to say: "There has to be, surely to God, some sort of limit that you can put on objections, when people have objections, to such applications to official plans so that they don't drag on forever. People should put forward their arguments for and against, and within a certain time period get that thing before the OMB and get a decision if it's necessary." We did the same thing. We put on a limit of six months for amendments to plans of a subdivision because we recognized as a government, I think as we all do, what developers want and what environmentalists want and what the community wants. They want to know that there's going to be a decision made and that it doesn't drag on forever. Those are some of the things we did under Bill 163.

The other thing we did was to go to municipalities and say, "Listen, let's give the staff within the planning departments greater latitude to delegate decisions around planning so that the minor things that happen that really should not be at the council level or at the OMB level can be dealt with directly at the planning department of the local municipality."

So I would say to the government, and I would say to those people watching, for them to stand before us and say, "Oh, God, under Bill 20 we fixed all these bad old problems that we've had in regard to planning that the bad old NDP government did in order to curtail planning" -- I just want to remind people, for the record, that Bill 163 went an extremely long way to clarify and disentangle the planning process for developers and for those people purporting to put forward developments in the province of Ontario. I think we can be proud of that.

The other thing we did in regard to Bill 163 was to put in place much sounder principles by which to do planning in Ontario. The biggest thing we did was to clarify provincial policies, and in some cases we added the provincial policies and brought them all together so that there are provincial policies that are written, that are in place to deal with questions of development.

The government argues that the provincial policies were the problem, they were far too strict, they were far too onerous, they were much too difficult, they were much too long, they were much too big. I say if the government had a problem with the policies, why did they go and change the act?

The flexibility that you as a government were looking for in regard to allowing development to go on in an easier way -- the government argues, and I'll get to that a little bit later, that rather than having to be consistent with the provincial policies, to go to a weaker standard, which is only "having regard to." I would say you would have been a lot better off from a planning perspective, and as well I think from a streamlining perspective, to say, "Let's keep in place the provision that the NDP government put in under Bill 163 that says all planning has to be consistent with the provincial policies," but then go out and do changes to the provincial policies.

I'm the first to admit that as a result of the committee hearings we've had and the work we did as an NDP government, we could have strengthened the provincial policies in order to streamline them and make them do what we all wanted them to do, which was to provide sound planning principles that protect the environment and recognize the needs of the developer in Ontario. I think we could have done that.

For the government to argue that they had to do away with the "being consistent with" clause by replacing it with "having regard to," I think that is a false argument. I just come to that point again, that the other thing we did under 163 was to say, "You have to be consistent with those provincial policies." I guess the commonsense thing here, for a commonsense government, is that if you're going to have provincial policies, you should at least be consistent with them. I would argue that what you should have done, as I said, was to deal with the question of the policies themselves.

Part of the problem is quite frankly that the government, in its zeal to make the changes and trying to deal with things, has moved very quickly in this legislation. I just want to remind the House and I want to remind those people watching at home that Bill 163 was only proclaimed as of March 28, 1995, less than a year ago. It'll be an anniversary this week sometime. That bill, I think everybody recognized, never really got an opportunity to be able to demonstrate its worth when it comes to planning. The government, I believe, has made a grave error in moving as quickly as it did on repealing Bill 163 -- I should say amending Bill 163 because you didn't repeal it -- and moving towards Bill 20.

I think the government would have been much wiser and I think it would have been a much more commonsense approach -- pardon the pun -- if the government would have said: "We will at this point look at the provincial policies. The government will make changes to the provincial policies through a public process where people in the province who are interested are able to comment. We will try to streamline the provincial policies so that they're more workable and we will see how things work out." Because the reality is, hardly a project in the province of Ontario, by the time the government decided to make amendments to Bill 163, had been even ruled under the new rules because we were still dealing with, at the OMB, all of those objections that were there prior to Bill 163.

I say the government, as usual, reacted in a sort of knee-jerk reactionary way to what happens in planning. I accept that the government has a right as a government to introduce legislation according to its philosophies and beliefs, but I would say that the government should have taken heed of the work that everybody had done over a period of four years to be able to deal with sounder principles of planning under John Sewell and Mr Martin and the work that was done at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

I would say Bill 163 never got a chance to prove itself as a bill. The government should have allowed it to make its way along and I would say the government, as usual, demonstrated that it moved too fast. It should have slowed down on this thing and given it a chance to work and then gone back, if need be, and make amendments to Bill 163.

But in the philosophy of the government, anything that was NDP they just had to get rid of in the first six months. I say that is a very dangerous precedent that you're setting because what you've done by doing this under Bill 163, and all of the other legislation that you have been repealing -- the Advocacy Act, the Employment Equity Act, the Labour Relations Act and all of the other legislation that you have been repealing, and that's all you guys have been doing since you got the government. You haven't introduced any of your own legislation -- very few exceptions. You've been repealing. You're setting an example and you're setting a precedent in this House that the next government that comes by is going to come back and repeal a bunch of stuff that you did.

I would say that is not a good process of legislating. I would argue that what governments should be doing is trying to improve on what other governments have done, trying to streamline what other governments have done and trying to make things work better. I will say, as a New Democratic member of this assembly, if we are re-elected as government the next time around in the year 1999, I can guarantee you there is going to be an act to repeal a whole bunch of stuff that you guys have done right at the beginning, because you guys have set the precedent on this and I'm putting it on the record at this point.

The government now comes to the House and says, "Last fall, we introduced a bill called Bill 20." We have second reading and then we go off to public hearings. Let's take a look at what the bill actually does. First of all, by the government moving from "being consistent with" provincial policies to "having regard to," I would make two arguments: The first argument is that allows, quite frankly, a ratcheting-down effect to happen when it comes to planning and development in the province because each municipality will look at those things somewhat differently. You will have vaguer provincial policies to follow, number one; and number two, you will only have to have regard to it. The interpretation of those policies will be different from municipality to municipality.

I would argue what you're going to do is you're going to end up putting one municipality against the other, trying to ratchet it down how they interpret the provincial policies to be able to attract development into their communities. I would say that is not a positive way to do development in the province and I would say the public of Ontario is not well dealt with.

The second thing that it will do, I think it will do quite the opposite of what you're thinking it will. In fact, I think you will have an increased amount of appeals to the OMB because if I'm a developer in the city of Timmins trying to put forward a development of a subdivision, let's say, in my community -- let it be Melrose Development or whoever the developer might be -- and the municipality and the city of Timmins interprets provincial policies in a particular way that is to my detriment and I find that out in Sudbury or in Elliot Lake or in North Bay, those municipalities have allowed something to happen that Timmins is not allowing to happen, what do you think the developer will do? What will Lionel Bonhomme do of Melrose Development? What will Barry Martin do of Martin Development? They will bring the municipality to the OMB, and that's what you've going to be setting up here.

I think you're going to be loading up the OMB in a period of a couple of years with a whole whack -- pardon the term -- of people going before the OMB saying: "Look at what the city of Sudbury did. Look at what the city of Toronto did. Look at what the city of Sarnia did. Look at what the town of Elliot Lake or Iroquois Falls did." You're going to be pitting one community against the other and developers looking at what's going on out there in regard to all of the other development to be able to find a reason why their municipality is putting too onerous a restriction, or asking them to do something.


To simply put it, if I'm a developer in the city of Timmins, it would be to my advantage to have people out there who -- I would argue there's going to be a whole bunch of consultants who are going to get rich on this one. You're going to have consultants looking at what's happened in every municipality across Ontario to take a look at how provincial policies are interpreted by municipalities, and they will put forward a catalogue of lists of who has the lowest standard.

If I'm the developer in Elliot Lake or North Bay or Toronto and I want to put a development through, I'll look at that and I'll say, "Oh, look at that, the city of Toronto has the lowest standard when it comes to this particular issue." Then I will go forward and try to get my development approved and my city will say no because they have a higher development standard. Guess who's gone to the OMB? The developer is at the OMB right away. I think what you're getting into is back to the problem we had before under Bill 163 with too many people going to the OMB. You're really going to be forcing that issue.

The other thing is the question of provincial policies. I think people should understand what's happening around the question of provincial policies. For an example, the provincial policies dealt with questions like housing. For an example, if a developer was putting forward a plan to develop a subdivision, that developer, he or she, had to have a plan that said 30% of those housing units built had to be affordable; termed as "affordable housing." People say, "Well, what does that mean?" It means to say that you don't allow exclusive neighbourhoods to pop up in a subdivision somewhere out of the reach of certain people, because we've learned in our society good planning in regard to having mixed neighbourhoods leads to safer communities, and leads to a better understanding of the communities among us.

The other issue, quite frankly, is for an individual to be able to afford to build a home -- and at the time the government is scrapping rent control, scrapping the question of the Landlord and Tenant Act, selling off public housing and doing everything else. This is sort of just another part of the chink in the armour where the government is really pronouncing itself that it doesn't have a housing policy in this province. They believe that everything should be thrown over to the private sector, and let development and let rental and let all of it go the way it wants.

The other thing, one of the policies they had was the question of the heritage policy, which was the no-means-no policy that we had heard a lot about. I just want to read this so people understand. "No-means-no provision in the natural heritage policy statements: That means that no development will be permitted on significant ravines, valleys, rivers and streams and corridors, and a significant portion of the habitat of endangered species and threatened species. Developments will not be permitted on adjacent land if it negatively impacts the ecological feature of the function listed above."

The government is saying you won't have to follow such a policy, and that means to say developers will be allowed to, because of moving from having to be consistent with the policies to having regard to the policy, apply for developments in areas that are sensitive to our environment and to the wildlife in our areas. I think the government is really being narrow-minded in its vision of what planning should be by allowing that to happen.

The other policy, for an example, that won't be followed is the question of transportation policies. I alluded to the Minister of Transportation a little while earlier. Under the provincial policies set out under the NDP government, we were saying that when you're doing development work in regard to looking at what your official plan will look like, you have to take a look at questions of transportation so that we don't end up with situations where traffic patterns and highways are not able to support the development that is going on, and to look at those questions from what is the most economic and most efficient system of transportation so that transit can be planned for ahead of time, as you're developing your official plan of your municipality and you say, "We're going to allow development to happen in this particular area"; that your highways or freeways are the proper size; that we have good public transportation that has good access to that particular area; and that we look at questions of transportation, because we all know if you try to come in after and develop a system of transportation around urban sprawl, it costs you a pack of dollars. But if you were to plan for that ahead of time and you have it clearly set out in your provincial policies, I think it allows the development of that transit system eventually to be done at a much cheaper rate because you don't have a situation -- for an example, I would look at the Allen Expressway as a great example.

Here's a situation where years ago it would have been very nice if we had sound planning principles such as we had under Bill 163. It would have said it would make some sense to have a freeway connection from north of the 401 down to the Gardiner Expressway. If you tried to do that today through the Allen Expressway, it would cost you billions of dollars to try to buy the land to be able to do that. I think it's a good example of how bad planning could cost the infrastructure money in the longer run.

So I would say the government, by moving away from provincial policies, is really getting into a lot of problems here. I've got to ask the bigger question: Who benefits? Who benefits through the changes that the government is making under the Planning Act? That's really the question.

I can tell you, the people who will benefit are not you watching back home, by and large, not the hardworking men and women who live in communities who are looking for safe communities to live in, they're looking for communities that are well-planned, not the taxpayer, because we know that urban sprawl costs you money in the longer term. The people who are going to benefit from this are a very few people in the development industry who wanted Bill 20 to go forward to be able to gut a whole bunch of good planning processes that we had under Bill 163.

I think that is yet another example of how this government is trying to play to a special interest. This government, the Mike Harris government, the Mike Harris Conservative Party -- or should I say the radical right party of Ontario -- campaigned in 1995 --


Mr Bisson: And they applaud "the radical right." I think we should point that out. They campaigned in 1995 in saying, "We want to move away from special-interest politics." I would say this is the biggest special interest that you're serving up to one of your friends in the first year of your government. People need to be clear that the special interests of the Conservative Party, or I should say the radical right party, of Ontario is a very few people who stand to make a whole bunch of money. Why? Because the Mike Harris government wants to give a tax cut.

That's what it comes down to. They believe in an ideology that says the private sector does it better; as a matter of fact, they're the only ones who can do it at all. The public sector has no role to play when it comes to all of this and somehow or other if we put ourselves in the hands of the private sector, everything will be better, is one principle, and the other one is, they're trying to find ways to save money in the administration of planning so that they can serve up a tax cut to their rich friends, the people who are going to most benefit from that tax cut.

I know at this stage of the game, we're at third reading, the government's got a majority in the House and they're not going to change legislation based on this debate. I recognize that. I notice that one of my friends on the other side is nodding in the affirmative. I understand that. But I just warn, and I've said this at committee before, my observation of being in this House over the last six years, through first of all our majority government and now under your majority government, it is clear to me that as legislators we need to find a way that we can come to this House and have meaningful debate on issues of public concern and on public policy.

The problem that you have -- I think it's a greater problem than we had within our party; I think we've certainly suffered from that as well, but I don't think to quite the extent that you do -- is that a select few people in your cabinet make decisions based on polls, based on trying to serve up the plate to the special interests that you're following and the rest of you are sitting there having to follow through with what the cabinet and P and P has told you that you should do.

Ms Churley: They don't even know what it is.

Mr Bisson: In most cases, members don't know, and I would say some of the opposition members don't know as well. I'm the critic for this issue, so I followed it; my good friend Marilyn Churley from Riverdale has followed this closely, she's carried the bill through committee. We understand fairly well what's going on. But the danger here is that we're in a process that if we don't as legislators try to address the question of how we have meaningful debate in order to have reflective legislation of what our communities want and what our constituencies want that we represent, I think it is really a farce. Here we are at third reading having a debate, knowing full well the government is going to change absolutely nothing when it comes to the question of planning in the province of Ontario.

The last point I would make, in the last two minutes that I have: The government is scrapping Bill 120, which was the apartments-in-houses component that we had done when we were a government through Bill 20. They're scrapping that. I would say, shame on the government. Bill 120 was one of the mechanisms that was going to allow and did allow people to be able to put an apartment in their home so they can afford to pay their mortgage, number one, because most of the people who put an apartment in a house, it's to be able to pay the mortgage.

The second point is that it's really one of the only initiatives that the government had in its mechanism at this point to be able to deal positively with being able to create apartments for people in the province of Ontario. I would say to the government, that is really bewildering, because Bill 120 was probably more in keeping with the Tory ideology than it was with ours as New Democrats.

With that, I would ask that we adjourn the debate and we come back tomorrow with comments from my friend from Riverdale.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Pursuant to standing order 34, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.



The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Ottawa Centre has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Education and Training concerning the poll commissioned by the minister. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and the minister or parliamentary assistant may reply for up to five minutes.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Thank you, Mr Minister, for joining us after 6. This is an important matter, as you well know, and as evidenced by the interest from a variety of teachers' groups and federations and from newspaper articles. I would like to cite a few examples.

You will also know that I sent you a letter in February asking for a copy of this poll and was told that it was not quite finished -- that on February 21, which of course is over a month ago, it was not yet available. However, I appreciated your commitment on March 6, during the scrum that you had that day in your release on the funding that was affecting the school board. At that time you said that you of course would table in the Legislature this particular poll.

I would like to illustrate a few points so that the public has an appreciation for what a push poll really is. I would like to read a paragraph from the president of the Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation, Mr Reg Ferland, whom the minister I'm sure knows. He says, in relation to the use of such a poll, and I quote:

"We recognize that polling is a common and legitimate practice for governments to undertake. Unfortunately, the Minister of Education and Training has crossed the line of acceptable and responsible government practice." This is a letter, by the way, to the Premier from this particular federation. "No one would look at the list of questions included in the ministry poll and not be totally appalled at the blatant manipulation at work. It is absolutely clear that, through this particular poll, the government has no interest in determining public opinion on education issues. Rather the poll is a crass attempt to develop `research' data to justify draconian cuts to education spending and to teacher collective agreements. The polling and attendant focus group testing are also being used to disseminate misleading information about teachers and education spending. Education and the public are being badly served and abused by such action."

I have another reference from the Toronto Sun, which some might say is a dear friend of the Tory party, from Mr Lorrie Goldstein. He talks about this in one of his articles, called "Sneak Attack on Teachers." He says:

"What you do in a push poll, under the veil of asking questions, is to put out negative information about your opponent.

"Here's an example: `Would you vote for so-and-so if you knew he had taken money from a developer in 1985?' The question may be technically accurate, but it only solicits opinion after giving a biased preamble. The point isn't to gather objective data but to get information out to the public about your opponent in as damaging a way as possible.

"A push poll is designed to give you that negative information, then have you tell your neighbours." Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun.

Ottawa Citizen. I hear, and agreed by the education ministry spokeswoman, Carol Zelniker: "`It is being conducted by the ministry and the minister's office is involved also,' she said." I asked that question earlier.

So it seems to me, when we look at this, it's vitally important that the public know where this initiative comes from. The implication, of course, is that it comes from the minister's office. I can't see the ministry officials themselves, most of whom have a background in the educational field, wanting to initiate this kind of an effort to discredit some of their former colleagues or people in Ontario who are professional educators.

So I will ask, Mr Minister, the two questions that I asked again today: When will you release the poll and the answers to the poll, as you said you would? And secondly, was it your office that initiated the idea of doing this kind of poll in the first place?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I'm pleased to have a chance to be in the chamber again, although I'd point out to the Speaker and the other members who are present here now that these questions were answered, and answered properly, yesterday. However, I'm pleased to have a chance to inform the member for Ottawa Centre again as to when I might table this particular piece of work that was done for and on behalf of the ministry.

I will table it in due course. I don't have a date for tabling it at this point, but as I have told the member in the past, I will table it in the normal course of events here in the House, subject to the normal rules here. I will be tabling it and making this public at some point in the future.

As far as who commissioned this particular poll is concerned, it was commissioned by an approved third-party vendor, who is expert in polling and polling data, by my ministry. I think that's been clear in public statements by officials from my ministry, and I believe the member for Ottawa Centre just read from those public documents recently from the popular press.

There seems to be no mystery around this issue. The only mystery is a mystery in the imagination of the member opposite. We have not conducted a push poll, for goodness' sake. We've conducted a regular poll that is done on a regular basis by ministries that want to stay in touch with the people of Ontario, that want to know the opinions of the people of Ontario.

As I said yesterday, as I told the member opposite yesterday, I am shocked and surprised that he would doubt that the people of Ontario would back classroom teachers. I can tell the member opposite that the people of Ontario back the classroom teachers, know that the classroom teachers are important to the development of their children and that that position is professional and important to them. I wonder why you would doubt that, sir.

Second, I wonder why you would doubt a poll that you yourself today quoted someone as saying it is a common and legitimate practice. Of course it is. It's part of our responsibility to stay in touch with the people of Ontario.

I will table this poll -- I'll table it quite proudly -- in due course.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Algoma-Manitoulin has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Northern Development and Mines re norOntair. The member has up to five minutes and the parliamentary assistant will have up to five minutes to reply.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): This afternoon I asked the Minister of Northern Development and Mines some questions concerning norOntair. As we all would know, the minister on November 29 issued a press release which in essence closed down norOntair. On Friday the last flights will occur and then norOntair is no longer.

Private carriers have taken up quite a number of the routes that were formerly flown by norOntair. However, there are three communities that are not served, and my question's related directly to those three communities, those being Hornepayne, Gore Bay and Chapleau.

Those communities, the minister announced yesterday, would be served by Voyageur Airways. They will be subsidized. It is a contract that was not let by public tender. The minister refused this afternoon to tell me about the tendering process and the minister refused to tell us how much it cost. I think people in this province expect governments, when they are spending public money, to tender, to make sure they have the best deal for the public. The ministry in this case did not do that.

We, as parliamentarians and legislators, have an obligation to make sure that the public's money is spent in the best possible way, so I was appalled that the Minister of Northern Development would not give me an answer. I'm sure, if he were here, he would be able to give me an answer this evening. The parliamentary assistant, Mr Murdoch, is here, and I appreciate that fact, but I have a feeling that he is not going to answer the question I'm posing. I just have a sense.

It's an important issue. I see them laughing over there. I think the public has a right to know, and that's what this question is really about.


The next part of the question, which I think is as serious: Will those northern communities that may lose air service over the next year to two years be guaranteed an air service by this ministry? Will this ministry provide them with the kind of subsidization it might take to provide a level of service that is acceptable to the community?

I also raised the issue of Elliot Lake, for example. It's just one of the communities that has a private carrier, but the service Elliot Lake will be getting with the private carrier is not acceptable to that community. There is a significant reduction of flights to the community and the times to the community are not as conducive to doing business or getting to medical appointments or any of those things that northerners need.

I'm asking if the ministry would do what it should have done in the first place, that is, assess what the needs of these communities are and then put out proposals to see if the private sector would provide them and at what price. They did not approach this situation in any kind of logical, sensible way in terms of what northerners would want and that I'm sure all the people in the province would want. We don't know what it's going to cost, we don't know whether it will be more cost-effective than norOntair was, we don't know what service the communities will get, we don't know what service they'll get in terms of aircraft. We don't even know if, down the road, they'll be guaranteed to have service or whether this is just some smokescreen by a ministry that is telling northerners that the market will decide everything: "If you're too small, too bad. If you can't get to your medical appointment, can't get to the hospital, that's too bad, because you live in too small a community." Is that the new Conservative view of the north?

Just so he doesn't get sidetracked, I want a specific answer to the tendering and the cost of that tendering. I'm sure you'll be able to give me those numbers.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I first must apologize for the minister. He's unable to come. It was short notice, and he had other meetings he had to go to. He certainly would have liked to have been here. I apologize. I know it'll be tough to answer the question for the member from Algoma, because he's never satisfied, never seems to be satisfied with answers.

The member for Algoma-Manitoulin knows that the ONTC is an independent --

Mr Michael Brown: Come on, Bill. Did they tender and how much?

Mr Murdoch: If you would like to listen for a minute, maybe I could answer this. I do have five minutes. I'll start again just so you will get the answer and you'll be able to be quiet for a little while, if you wouldn't mind.

Now, I'll go back. The member for Algoma-Manitoulin knows that the ONTC is an independent schedule 2 agency of the government of Ontario. I knew you knew that.

In your questions today, you have asked about the details of the four-month interim contract that was given to ensure that air service continues to all 17 communities served by norOntair after March 29. The Minister of Northern Development and Mines has asked for the president of the ONTC to report back to him as soon as possible with the answer.

In regard to the broader question of the future of air service in the north, the minister has always been committed to efficient, cost-effective air service in northern Ontario. The ONTC board will continue to work with the air service consultation committee for this purpose.

We thank you for the question, and I hope that answers your question.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Hamilton East has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Transportation concerning Red Hill Creek Expressway funding. He has up to five minutes for his presentation and the parliamentary assistant will have up to five minutes to reply.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I am disappointed that the minister has chosen not to attend. This is not to take anything away from the parliamentary assistant to the minister; however, obviously Mr Palladini, the minister, does not feel that the expressway issue is important enough to take his time.

I want to put on the record as well that we made an offer to have this at another time that was convenient in order to have Mr Palladini here. He refused, and that tells me very clearly the importance that he attaches to the expressway and to the needs of Hamilton-Wentworth. That is something we will not forget.

It is clear this government and this minister do not understand the Red Hill Creek Expressway issue, nor do they understand the commitment made by the Premier. Let me read again for the Tory members the commitment made in December 1994 by Mike Harris to regional chairman Terry Cooke:

"A Mike Harris government" -- that's you guys -- "will support and fund a full-fledged expressway up to and including the six-lane model which was originally approved, along with a full environmental cleanup of the Red Hill Creek Valley." Signed Mike Harris, MPP, leader at that time.

That was your Premier, your leader who made that commitment. This commitment was unconditional. There were no strings attached. It was very clear: "We are going to fund up to a six-lane expressway." At that time, again to remind my friends across the floor, the six-lane expressway would have meant a commitment of $182 million of provincial government funding for Hamilton-Wentworth.

What we are now seeing is a total retrenching, is a total regression of that commitment. The region has scaled down the project to five lanes. The scaled-down version will mean that the provincial cost is $150 million. Therefore, it's $32 million less than the Premier had committed to Hamilton-Wentworth in December 1994, when he was trying to get votes in Hamilton-Wentworth.

Regional chairman Terry Cooke, chairman of the committee in charge of the expressway; Councillor Terry Anderson; and the former chairman of the expressway committee and the chairman of economic development, Councillor Don Ross, have all stated very clearly that the funding shortfall is unacceptable and that the province and the Premier have shortchanged them.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I think they're all Tories, aren't they?

Mr Agostino: Yes. This is not a question of political partisanship. Chairman Cooke has worked with this government, has cooperated with this government, and frankly supports many of the things this government has done. Councillor Anderson, same way, has supported -- even today in the Spectator has said this government has lived up to many of its commitments. He's one of your supporters, one of your friends. He has expressed dissatisfaction with the way you handled it.

Councillor Don Ross, a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party of Ontario --

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Who's he married to?

Mr Agostino: -- and the spouse of the Hamilton West Tory MPP, said last night that what you have done is a betrayal, unacceptable and that you have shortchanged Hamilton-Wentworth. That didn't come from us; that came from one of your own, your own member, your own card-carrying Conservative member. That's who made that commitment.

Those members who have spoken, that is not political partisanship on their part; it is the interests of the region. I can tell you that I believe this issue is beyond the competence, the grasp of this minister. He doesn't understand it. He should simply walk away, and we ask that the Premier personally intervene to settle this issue. We ask that Premier Harris direct the minister to bring forward full funding for the project. Frankly, the region has lost all confidence in the minister to deal with this issue. He has shown he is incompetent, he has shown he doesn't understand Hamilton-Wentworth, and he has shown that he doesn't understand the formula that his own Premier committed to.

The losers in this battle are the Hamilton-Wentworth citizens, the individuals who placed faith in this government and in the Premier and felt when the Premier gave his word in December 1994 that that word was good and that the Premier was going to live up to that commitment. They have been shafted by this government. They have been betrayed. The failure of this government to build the expressway will become a big black hole that will suck up the four local Tory members come the next election.

I ask again the representative of the minister, will you commit today to the promise that the Premier made in December 1994 to fully fund the expressway, and will you intervene to ensure that the Premier personally becomes involved and rescue the region from Mr Palladini and ensure that there is full funding to the expressway? If there is not, it is nothing more than another broken promise, another betrayal. If you don't believe me, ask your Tory members and card-carrying Conservatives in Hamilton-Wentworth.

The Speaker: The member's time has expired. The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation has up to five minutes to reply.

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): On November 29, 1995, the province committed to provide $100 million over the next five years towards a projected $200 million required to complete the Red Hill Creek Expressway and its interchanges with the QEW and Highway 403. This is in addition to the $80 million already contributed by the province to support this major undertaking of local and regional significance.

I should stress that this funding partnership and the $100 million committed is unique to Hamilton-Wentworth. In fact, all other municipalities across the province have seen significant reductions over the last several months. I believe this firm commitment represents a significant provincial and tangible investment in Hamilton-Wentworth's future.

The province's cost estimate for the Red Hill expressway was based on its extensive freeway construction experience and comparison with a variety of recently completed highway projects. This estimate recognized the complex nature of building an expressway in the Red Hill Creek Valley. The minister estimated $16 million per kilometre for the roadway portion of the expressway.

Below are several current ministry expressway projects which demonstrate typical freeway construction costs:

Highway 401 express collector widening, six lanes: $10 million per kilometre;

Highway 407 east, six lanes: $11 million per kilometre;

Highway 407 central, six lanes, no freeway-to-freeway interchanges: $13 million per kilometre;

Highway 403, Ancaster to Brantford, four lanes, rural: $4 million per kilometre.

We are confident in this $200-million cost estimate based on Hamilton-Wentworth's conceptual design of the Red Hill Creek Expressway. In fact, the ministry has already received independent, third-party cost estimates to complete the Red Hill Creek Expressway project.

Rather than consultants quibbling over cost estimates, the ministry has asked Mr Cooke to immediately call for tenders to determine the real price. We believe that Hamilton-Wentworth may wish to pursue an independent assessment of cost savings that could be realized through value engineering, innovative construction techniques and private partnerships. By pursuing similar techniques, MTO was able to achieve a 22% saving on Highway 407. Any saving that Hamilton-Wentworth can realize through such an approach would reduce their share of the cost.

Hamilton-Wentworth will be able to use development charges revenue towards its share of the project -- potentially $40 million to $60 million over time. The Ontario Realty Corp, an agency of the province, will contribute $5 million directly to the expressway through such charges.

The province is fully prepared to fulfil its commitment and provide its $100-million share for the Red Hill Creek Expressway, but not if the expressway is tolled. Regional and provincial taxpayers have already contributed $150 million to the project. Making this expressway a toll road would in effect make the taxpayer pay for this road twice.

We can assure you that MTO will continue to assist Hamilton-Wentworth in resolving technical concerns associated with the Red Hill Creek Expressway-QEW interchange. In addition, the minister is prepared to meet with regional representatives to discuss concerns expressed with regard to funding for the Red Hill Creek Expressway. In fact, the minister met less than two hours ago with regional chair Terry Cooke and transportation chair Terry Anderson. This is good news for Hamilton. The east-west portion of the expressway should be opened in two years, with the entire expressway completed by 2001. At that time, the benefits to area commuters and businesses will finally be realized after four decades of planning.

The Speaker: There being no further matter to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to be carried. This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1824.