36e législature, 1re session

L048 - Wed 27 Mar 1996 / Mer 27 Mar 1996













































The House met at 1331.




Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): The constant bullying tactics of the Harris government continue. The government's commitment to end rent controls will have the disastrous effect of forcing many people away from affordable housing. Decent, affordable housing should be the priority for this government, not the wholesale dismantling of rent controls. This plan can only result in forcing the families who can least afford it from their homes.

The government's strategy is simple: First, they wanted to remove the controls which protect tenants from evictions; now they are removing the controls which protect tenants from dramatic rent increases. When you combine the two, it amounts to an anti-tenant agenda. What the government fails to realize is that many families are already stretched to their financial breaking point. The real tragedy in this will be that once families can no longer afford rent increases, their options begin to run out and, sadly, they will have no place to turn.

The fear many tenants feel is real. They see the only form of tenant protection fading away. Rent controls sheltered many tenants from unfair rent increases. I call upon the Harris government to reconsider its decision to scrap rent controls and explore other options which provide more equitable treatment of tenants.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I want to respond to the fact that the Chair of Management Board has chosen today to break the news blackout around the negotiations and cause all kinds of turmoil and havoc on the picket lines. One would think, given the fact that progress seemed to be made under the news blackout, that perhaps this government really doesn't want a settlement. You really have to wonder when the Chair of Management Board, the minister responsible, says something as irresponsible and, according to the union, as blatantly untrue as what he has said this morning.

The union's position in this is that there are no new demands and they can only assume that the government is looking -- I quote from a newsletter they've had to put out today: "Johnson's goal is to throw OPSEU members off balance and cause a panic on the picket lines. Don't fall for it. Stay strong." This is the kind of message the union has to send out now because the government has broken that news blackout.

The union goes on to say to their own members, "Tell him to shut up and let the bargaining teams do their work so we can all get back to work as soon as possible." That's what it's supposed to be all about: getting this strike over and putting people back to work. If the minister doesn't understand what a news blackout is, he ought to talk to his deputy minister or somebody else who does understand how things work. He's doing an awful lot of damage. The people of Ontario, the strikers and, I would hope, the government want this strike to end, and the way they'll do it is to have the minister shut up about it.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I rise today in the House to recognize a very significant achievement by the youth in my riding. Last summer, some local teens initiated Teen Work, an organization designed in response to teen vandalism in the town of Campbellford.

The project was sparked by Shawn O'Brian, a local youth, and guided by the mayor and the chamber of commerce. It is a unique program designed to help young people between the ages of 13 and 19 years of age understand the challenges they face due to rising youth unemployment and a harsh economic climate.

By attempting to build self-esteem and confidence, Teen Work hopes to encourage teenagers to start businesses of their own. Its main objectives are to reduce the occurrence of vandalism and apathy among the youth of Campbellford, to help teens recognize opportunities to earn money using the resources at their disposal and to prove that youth programs can be cost-effective and self-sustaining.

The project began with no capital funding and relies on a percentage of the earnings generated by its members to ensure its financial stability.

It initially had four members and a project coordinator. Teen Work has since expanded to include many other projects, and by this spring Teen Work will have a membership of nearly 40 teens.

Teen Work is a remarkable achievement. It is a good example of how communities and the private sector can join together to fight unemployment without any government assistance.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I read in the local press recently that the bond rating services are very uneasy about the Premier's election promise to cut provincial income tax by 30%. Specifically, Dominion Bond Rating Service has called the tax cut "the biggest single hurdle to balancing the budget."

All the Premier's friends are abandoning ship. Even his slash-and-burn hero, Alberta's Ralph Klein, has warned the Ontario Conservatives against the tax cut. Several of our esteemed colleagues from the other side of the floor are reading petitions in this House from constituents and taxpayers that question the wisdom of the tax cut.

Yet last week on Focus Ontario the Premier said: "They're all wrong. In the Common Sense Revolution we felt it would take about $6 billion worth of spending reductions to balance the books over five years, but the NDP government's spending was about $2 billion higher than they told us."

I don't know about you, but this sounds like political bafflegab. The Premier told us himself that he's not very good with numbers. Perhaps he should listen to his experts, his own caucus, and the people of Ontario.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I read with some interest, following the federal by-elections, the talk once again of the Tories and the Reform Party coming together.

I think it is worthwhile noting that for the people of Ontario, the reality has been that since June 8 we have been governed by the Reform Party in this province. When we look at the actions of the Mike Harris government in attacking the poor through the welfare cuts, in attacking children through those same welfare cuts and through the cuts to child care, in cutting funding to education, in cutting funding to the very job creation programs that this government says it's committed to, we have seen in instance after instance in the area of health care broken promises and broken commitments, but above all an agenda that is based on putting more power and more resources into the hands of a few, into the hands of the wealthiest in this province at the expense of the rest of the citizens in this province. That is the Reform agenda across this country, and it certainly is the agenda of the Mike Harris government.

So I was not surprised when I saw the member for Etobicoke West being quoted as saying that he thinks the merger of the Reform Party and the Conservative Party is a brilliant idea, because in Ontario it's already happened.



Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge my colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services, the Honourable David Tsubouchi, for his visit to the St Catharines-Thorold area on January 25, 1996. The minister spent the entire day visiting municipal and private groups and listening to their vision of an Ontario that works.

His first stop was at the Niagara region's employment programs department. Over the past 20 years they have truly learned what it means to streamline and reduce duplication while at the same time providing a proactive and caring program to get social assistance recipients back into the working community. In fact, as part of the region's general welfare program they have saved some $11 million over the past four years alone.

The minister also heard presentations from the YMCA, Niagara College and the John Howard Society, which have a great deal of experience with community works placements. Mr Tsubouchi visited Bethlehem Place. They are a second-stage housing complex for the disadvantaged and women recovering from abuse. Their workfare model, which they call BP Works, is forward-looking, as they have included work placement and community works segments right in their environment.

On behalf of all those Mr Tsubouchi visited on January 25, 1996, I thank him for his openness and support.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): When Premier Harris contends that his proposed 30% cut in provincial income taxes is not to blame for job losses in Ontario, employees of the Lincoln County Board of Education and the Niagara South Board of Education could be forgiven for not believing him, as will the employees of the two Roman Catholic boards in the area as well.

With 277 Lincoln employees and 282 Niagara staff receiving pink slips this week, the Premier's contention that drastic cuts in provincial funding, necessitated to a great extent by the tax cut, will not affect students in the classroom is simply not believable.

With thoughtful people from all segments of society questioning the wisdom of a 30% provincial income tax cut which will benefit the most wealthy to the greatest extent, a tax cut which will require the government to borrow over 20 billion additional dollars, a tax cut which has been called reckless by the Conservative member for Wellington and is questioned by other Tory members, with this in mind, it is difficult to believe that the Premier would ignore the good advice to abandon this ideological measure which is hurting education and so many other segments of our society to such a great extent. Pause and think. Use common sense.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I rise to bring to the attention of the House and all members, particularly the Minister of Community and Social Services, a case in my constituency. A young woman who is receiving benefits as a single mother has an abscessed tooth that has poisoned her system so badly that her whole face is swollen. Her dentist wants to operate today. He wants to do the operation, the procedure, in a hospital so that the patient can be put under anaesthesia by an anaesthetist.

However, because of your cuts, family services cannot provide this woman with discretionary funding to pay for this procedure. As a result, she has to make a choice between this procedure or cutting back on the funds that are available to her and her family for food and lodging for the rest of the month. How on earth can you put this woman in this kind of a situation?

I call upon the government to reconsider its position on these cuts and to ensure that social workers have discretionary funds which they can allocate in emergencies like this so that people aren't forced to make these kinds of choices. I call on the minister to look into the situation and to act immediately.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd like to draw to the attention of the leader of the third party that, according to the rules, a leader is not allowed to make a statement.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I apologize. Actually, I was filling in for one of our other members who was supposed to make one and isn't here.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): Yesterday, in my riding, two Chatham hospitals, Public General and St Joseph's, announced the formation of an alliance to better provide community health care.

The move, which I am delighted to endorse, will take place April 1 and is expected to improve efficiency at both hospitals and provide the framework for an $11-million saving objective.

Over the past few years, officials from both hospitals have worked together to come up with a plan to both maximize resources and meet future health care challenges.

Under the alliance, there will be a single CEO in administration, duplication of resources and services will be eliminated, cost-containing efficiencies will be increased, patient access to all services will be improved and strategic planning will be enhanced.

The alliance will be managed by a joint executive committee comprised of six members from each hospital board, the chief of medical staff and a new CEO.

Neither a merger nor an amalgamation, the alliance is best described as a relationship that respects and builds upon the excellent record of care given to the community by the hospitals over the past 100 years.

The emergence of this alliance proves that efficiencies can be found in the hospital system to free up scarce health care dollars for use in other areas.

I would like to commend those who have worked so diligently to bring this concept to fruition. Successfully creating an efficient, effective system which also respects individual preferences and goals is of benefit to everyone in the community.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Yesterday, several members rose on points of order with respect to language used and comments made during question period. I have reviewed the Hansard for yesterday, and I must say to the members that in terms of temperate language and tone, it was not one of our finer days.

To the Solicitor General, I would caution that the remarks made yesterday were inappropriate, intemperate and ill advised. I believe that, upon reflection, the honourable minister came to be of that same opinion, as he saw fit to withdraw the comments and later to apologize to the member for London Centre.

Erskine May advises at page 380 that "Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language." It would I think be beneficial to this House if members on both sides carefully consider that advice and address this House with dignity and respect.

For my part, and with your cooperation, I will be vigilant in enforcing your rules that require civil discourse and decorum on the part of all members in this House.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Finance. You may be aware that Ralph Klein, the Premier of Alberta, has said that your plan to balance the budget and to cut taxes at the same time will be very difficult to achieve. In fact, to be specific, he said that to do that one has to be more than a politician, one has to be a magician.

The Premier has apparently dismissed these comments from what one might call his soulmate as being motivated somehow by jealousy and by fear. He suggests that Mr Klein is being critical of the revolution because he's actually afraid that maybe Ontario will steal Alberta's jobs. It seems rather bizarre to me that this is a Premier who writes off not only his enemies but also his friends.

Minister, I would draw to your attention the fact that the economist for the Canadian Manufacturers' Association also has had some comments on your plan and on its prospects for creating jobs. He said: "Cutting personal income taxes won't do anything for job creation. People will use their extra cash to pay down their debts, not to buy goods that will create jobs."


You will know that the members of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association are the people who are supposed to create jobs, and they don't believe your tax cut will stimulate job growth. The Premier has said that Ralph Klein's views are wrong because he's playing some kind of political game. What ulterior motive do you think the Canadian Manufacturers' Association might have for saying that your plan won't work?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I don't attribute motives to comments that anybody makes with respect to any proposals that the government is making. If we had the taxation rate, quite frankly, in the province of Ontario that the province of Alberta has, we wouldn't see it necessary to cut provincial income tax rates either. I'd love to be in the position that Mr Klein is in, and we wouldn't have to worry about it.

Mrs McLeod: The minister will also be aware that the Premier has been advertising his tax cut as some kind of a "Don't pay a cent" event. He's telling us that the tax cut is going to pay for itself in some kind of an economic surge and he somehow wants people to believe that your spending cuts have nothing to do with your tax cut.

The Bank of Nova Scotia has warned you that the tax cut will require even deeper cutting. The bank has said, "If they continue to push for their tax cut, and I have no reason to believe that they won't, then maybe one way to ensure that the targets and the credit rating can be maintained is to cut spending that much deeper at that particular time." Minister, if Ralph Klein is wrong, is the Bank of Nova Scotia wrong too? Why do they say that your tax cut will require even deeper cuts when your Premier is telling Ontarians that it won't cost a cent?

Hon Mr Eves: We are firmly of the opinion, as the leader of the official opposition knows, that over time a reduction in provincial income tax rates will return itself many-fold to the government of Ontario but, more importantly, to the people of Ontario.

I note that the leader of the official opposition selectively quotes individuals who don't happen to believe that a 30% tax cut is appropriate at this particular point in time, but she did not mention some of the individuals who appeared before the legislative committee on finance and economic affairs who were very supportive of a tax cut, they being Patti Croft, the chief economist of Canada Trust company; Aron Gampel, vice-president and deputy chief economist of the Bank of Nova Scotia; Bill Robson, senior policy analyst, C.D. Howe Institute; the Ontario Natural Gas Association; Wallace Kenny, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce; Don McIver, chief economist, Sun Life Assurance Co of Canada; Peter Woolford, senior vice-president, Retail Council of Canada; the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association; Judith Andrew, director of provincial policy, Canadian Federation of Independent Business; Tom Closson, president and CEO of Sunnybrook health centre, and on and on.

The leader of the official opposition has been extremely selective as to the quotes she chooses to use with respect to the tax cut. Those people have an opinion, they are entitled to it, but we will be proceeding with our program to put money back in the pockets of hardworking taxpaying Ontarians.

Mrs McLeod: I'm talking about quotes from this minister's own Premier, who has said that the 30% cut in income taxes is not going to cost Ontarians a cent. He says it's going to be paid for some day in the future with some kind of an economic surge.

Last week the same Premier was talking about economic drag. Now we have a much better sense of what he meant by "economic drag," because that's the job loss that comes with the layoffs, that comes with the cuts that this government is making to bring in its 30% income tax cut. Now we have Mikeonomics, the theory that the tax cut is going to pay for itself by creating new jobs to replace all those lost jobs.

Minister, you don't want me to quote the critics, so let me quote your own numbers. If Mikeonomics is going lead to new job creation through this tax cut, why do the unemployment projections from the November economic statement, your own economic statement, predict that the number of people unemployed will go up this year and up again next year? Why do your own numbers predict increasing unemployment if this 30% income tax cut is going to be such a job bonanza?

Hon Mr Eves: The leader of the official opposition is quite aware that in the month of February alone the province of Ontario created 31,000 jobs. To be more specific, Mr Speaker, through you to the leader of the official opposition, here are a few of the most recent comments with respect to job creation in the province of Ontario:

Zellers in Toronto, March 15 of this year, 450 jobs; Manulife Financial, Waterloo, March 6, 300 jobs; Cambril, Waterloo, March 2, 40 jobs; Cosella Dorken in Beamsville, March, 25 to 50 jobs; Ford of Canada in Oakville, February 17, 150 jobs; Honda in Alliston, December 1995, 1,200 jobs; Walt Disney, Toronto, November 30, 1995, 100 jobs.

So there again the leader of the official opposition is being extremely selective in the figures that she chooses and the comments that she makes with respect to job creation. I know that she finds it hard to believe, but reducing the tax burden on hardworking taxpaying Ontarians will indeed create jobs and stimulate the economy in the province of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question, the leader of the official opposition.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I don't think even the minister believes that any longer. I say to the minister, talk about using statistics selectively -- and my second question is to the minister. Last month there were 7,000 more people out of work than there were the month before. As the layoffs from your cuts begin to take effect, there will be thousands and thousands more out of work, and that's exactly why people across this province are concerned about your tax cut.

Last week, Minister, I asked you how you could justify slashing tens of thousands of jobs to pay for a $5-billion-a-year tax cut that mainly benefits the wealthy. Your response that I found astonishing was to say, and I quote, "We are not taking away thousands of jobs in Ontario to finance the tax cut."

So my question is this: How can you tell the 1,300 health care workers who are being laid off at the Toronto Hospital that they're not losing their jobs because of your tax cut? How can you tell the 400 health care workers at Hamilton General and Henderson hospital that they're not losing their jobs because of the tax cut? How can you tell the tens of dozens of workers at Wellesley Hospital down the street, where their own chief executive officer has said, and I quote again, "The layoffs are the direct result of the decrease in revenue from the Ministry of Health," how can you tell any of these people that they are not losing their jobs because of your $5-billion tax cut for the wealthy?

Hon Mr Eves: Quite simply because they're not. We have not introduced any tax cut to date. What we have done is try to get a handle on the legacy of deficit and debt left to us by the two parties opposite. That's what we've done. We have to get a grip on the fact that the province of Ontario that we inherited on June 8 spends $1 million more an hour more than it takes in in revenue. Nobody relishes having to stand here and reduce expenditures of the provincial government. I wish we would have inherited an $11-billion-a-year surplus, but we didn't. We inherited an $11.2-billion deficit, and we have to do something about that. We owe it to the people of Ontario and future generations of Ontarians.


Mrs McLeod: That is sheer, unadulterated nonsense coming from a minister whose fiscal plan is to add $20 billion to the debt while thousands and thousands of Ontario workers are laid off -- sheer nonsense.

Minister, let me make it as pointed as I possibly can. Number one, you are bringing in a tax cut that will cost a minimum of $5 billion a year. Number two, in order to fund that tax cut, you have broken your election promise not to cut health care spending and you have chopped more than $1 billion from the budgets of our hospitals. Number three, because of those cuts, because of more than $1 billion taken out of our hospitals' budgets, hospitals are firing tens of thousands of nurses, lab technologists and other vital health care workers.

These are not isolated cuts. Hospital administrators are telling us that your cuts will cost 20,000 jobs at least over the next three years, and clearly the money that is going towards your tax cuts is coming on the backs of the nurses, the health technicians and the patients of this province. So I ask you again, Minister, how can you pretend that these 20,000 health care workers are not losing their jobs in order to finance your tax cut for the wealthy?

Hon Mr Eves: Because they're not. We have not done anything about a tax cut to date, and every measure that we have taken to date as a government is to get the overspending of the previous two administrations under control. What we inherited on June 8 was a government in the province of Ontario that spent $9 billion a year on interest costs alone to service the debt that largely you two created in the past 10 years.

We inherited a government that was spending $7.3 billion a year on all hospitals in the province of Ontario put together, but the previous administration thought it was more important to spend $9 billion in interest costs -- $7.3 billion was the priority they put on hospitals.

The previous government was spending $8.8 billion a year on education, from the elementary system through to and including post-secondary education, colleges and universities. The previous administration obviously thought it was more important to spend $9 billion a year in interest payments than spend $8.8 billion on the education system in the province.

I know they find it difficult to believe. We have not borrowed one red cent to service the tax cut. We have had to borrow money to accommodate the $100 billion in accumulated debt, the legacy of debt left to us by the two previous administrations.

Mrs McLeod: Two facts: The first fact is that $5 billion to $6 billion of the $8 billion in cuts which you're making are to pay for the tax cut. The second fact, Minister, is that you promised not to cut health care, but you need your cuts fast to fund the tax cut you want to bring into your May budget so you've cut the hospital budget by $1.3 billion.

I guess, Minister, the most disturbing thing for me is that there is no one in your government -- not the Premier, not you, not the Minister of Health -- who will even acknowledge that these cuts are having an effect on the quality of health care that all of us receive. So let me tell you, Minister, that when a person at the emergency department in a major teaching hospital in downtown Toronto has to wait four hours for test results because there's only one technician in the lab at night instead of two, that's not efficient health care that you say you're trying to provide; that's just bad health care. When an elderly woman with terminal cancer presses a button to signal a nurse and it takes an average of 25 minutes for a nurse to arrive, that's not efficient health care; that is bad health care. When a hospital has a ratio of one nurse for 11 patients in a ward with cancer patients and post-operative patients, that is not efficient health care; that is bad health care.

I ask you again, Minister: How can you justify the devastation that is being wreaked on our health care system? How can you justify the tens of thousands of lost jobs and the delayed time for testing and for caring, all in the name of a $5-billion tax cut for the wealthiest Ontarians?

Hon Mr Eves: We have made a commitment that we are going to live up to with respect to an envelope of funding for health care in the province of Ontario, and I would advise the leader of the official opposition to wait until she sees the budget document this spring before she says something that she may live to regret once the budget document comes out with respect to the level of health care expenditures in the province for this year and next year.

I find it passing strange to see the leader of the official opposition's attitude. "Lower taxes equals more jobs" -- I'm reading from a commitment called The Lyn McLeod Commitment to Jobs and Growth. "Lower taxes equals more jobs. Problem: Ontario's rising tax burden is cited by business as the province's number one job killer. Currently, the provincial government takes more money out of Ontario's private sector than do competing US jurisdictions.... Paying higher taxes than their international competitors is the last thing struggling Ontario companies can afford."

That was her position then: Lower taxes equalled more jobs. Obviously, she's again changed her position.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of the Solicitor General. Regretfully -- I mean that sincerely -- I want to return to questions and exchanges that occurred in this House yesterday and in the last couple of days. The Solicitor General has made it clear that the comments he made were, in his terms, "personal opinion" and were "taken out of context" on issues that may be before the office of the police complaints commissioner, these comments that could indeed, in our view and in the view of many, prejudice the outcome of that investigation. I know the Solicitor General may disagree with that, but I do agree with his view that he shouldn't be commenting on an issue before the police complaints commissioner.

His initial comments on Wednesday going into cabinet were, "I don't want to say anything publicly," and then later, "I'm going to let everyone reach their own conclusions." Unfortunately, he did not stop there. He kept on talking. He admitted that he had met senior OPP officials, had viewed the confidential police tape, and every comment he made after that must have been influenced by what he saw on the videotapes. Taking that into account, does the Solicitor General not agree that he has clearly biased the proceedings of the office of the police complaints commissioner? If he does agree with that, obviously the only step he should take, and must take, is to step aside while that investigation is ongoing. Is the Solicitor General prepared to do that?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): Based on the concerns expressed by the third party, I did review the transcript, and I completely disagree with the conclusions he's drawn from the comments I made.

Mr Wildman: The statements are a matter of public record. Yesterday in the House, and I think outside the House, the Solicitor General maintained that any comments he made were not on the subject of complaints before the police complaints commissioner. The minister can't have it both ways. Either he doesn't know what the complaints are, as the Attorney General I think argued, and if he doesn't know what they are he cannot then know that his comments had nothing to do with those complaints or, if he knows his comments had nothing to do with those complaints, he must know what the complaints are. Which is it?

Hon Mr Runciman: I was speaking in a general sense, and it did not deal with any specific complaint. I'm unaware of specific complaints, and any comments I made have no bearing on any specific complaints.


Mr Wildman: The minister has maintained that his comments were simply personal opinion. The Solicitor General doesn't seem to understand that as a minister, particularly a minister responsible for the administration of justice and policing in the province, he cannot have a personal opinion which is somehow separate from his role as Solicitor General.

Yesterday in this House he also admitted to making inappropriate statements about another case, and in doing so I believe that he undermined the administration of justice in this province and specifically undermined his colleague the Attorney General, the current Attorney General. He commented on the Galligan report, and in doing so I believe tainted the administration of justice in this province, and so, regretfully, I call on the Solicitor General to do the honourable thing and to resign. Is he prepared to do that?

Hon Mr Runciman: We have an independent police complaints commission that will deal with the complaints that have been lodged before them. The House leader of our party has announced a public inquiry to deal with the issues surrounding last Monday's regrettable occurrences, and I think the matter will rest there.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Deputy Premier. I'm very troubled by the lack of comment or action being taken by the leadership of your government with respect to the matters we've been raising relating to the conduct of the Solicitor General. I'm troubled because on Monday in this House the Premier stood in his place and seemed confused about the matter, seemed to relate the questions to the public inquiry, as opposed to the very specific matters that we've been raising with respect to the matters before the police complaints commission.

Deputy Premier, I want to know why you are unconcerned. Are you unconcerned because you don't believe it is a problem for the Solicitor General to offer a personal opinion on matters related to policing or to justice in this province, matters that are under investigation? Or are you unconcerned because you believe that his personal opinions he has offered don't relate to the matters under investigation by the police complaints commission?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The member will know that we have, number one, made a commitment with respect to a public inquiry with respect to the events of March 18. She will also know that the Solicitor General, I think, has appropriately and adequately responded to questions that have been asked as recently as a few moments ago by her leader in a very direct and sincere manner.

I think the public inquiry will deal with the events of March 18 and the actions of all individuals leading up thereto, and I think the Solicitor General has made it quite clear that any comments he made with respect to the activities of that day were based on his own personal knowledge of the events of that day.

Ms Lankin: You see, Deputy Premier, the Solicitor General of this province is not allowed to have public personal opinions. He can't express his personal opinions about matters that are under investigation related to the police or to the justice system in a public way.

Deputy Premier, this is about a question of leadership of this government and the conduct of a cabinet minister holding a very sensitive portfolio. I put it to you that the Attorney General said very clearly yesterday, in fact let me quote to you, "Further, it is important to note that no one has any information about the individual complaint filed, no one knows who filed those complaints, no one knows the nature of those allegations."

Yet the Solicitor General continues to suggest, even if we are to believe that the opinions he has offered are only based on his own experience of that day, that it will have no bearing on the complaints that have been filed before the police complaints commission, the complaints which we do not know the nature of, we do not know the allegations contained therein, we do not know who filed them, we do not know with respect to what matters, whether or not in fact they are the same matters that the Solicitor General says he's offering a personal opinion on.

Deputy Premier, you need to show leadership here. Justice must not only be done, justice must be seen to be done. Your Solicitor General has in fact put a cloud over these complaints. It is imperative that you take action; it is imperative that you look into this; it is imperative that you request the Solicitor General to step aside while you're doing so.

Hon Mr Eves: It is my understanding, number one, that the Solicitor General did not comment on any specific case or cases; and number two, as the Attorney General said in this House yesterday, the police complaints commission is totally independent of the Solicitor General of this province.

Mr Wildman: Not any more.

Hon Mr Eves: Yes it is, with all due respect, I say to the members opposite, and that body will determine those complaints. It has nothing to do with the Solicitor General's office. It does not report to the Solicitor General.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Final supplementary.

Ms Lankin: I must say to the Deputy Premier that he shows a lack of understanding of the process. The complaints before the police complaints commission will be reviewed, will be reported out to the commissioner of the OPP, who reports directly to the Solicitor General. Your Solicitor General has offered comments on things he experienced personally, and quite frankly things that he says were related to the OPP videos. There is a standard of conduct here, and the leadership of the government must be responsible for the conduct of the Solicitor General, for the conduct of ministers of the crown.

Let me read to you the standard of conduct that this minister thought was appropriate to read into the Hansard on May 29, 1989. Mr Runciman read into the Hansard, relating back to the days of 1978 and the resignation of George Kerr, the then Solicitor General:

"At the time, he said, `I am the political head of the police in Ontario, and like Caesar's wife, I've got to be above reproach.' As he put it in his letter of resignation to the Premier, `As the senior law officer of the crown, I am wholly conscious of the fact that there can be no suggestion of impropriety on my part that could in any way reflect upon the administration of justice and law enforcement.'"

Deputy Premier, that's the standard of conduct that this minister believed was appropriate then. He should believe it is appropriate now. You are here in place of the Premier today. Please rise in your place and indicate that you will investigate this, that you will review this, and that you will ask the Solicitor General to step aside from his responsibilities as a minister of the crown while you do this so that the people can see there is faith and integrity in the administration of justice.

Hon Mr Eves: The Solicitor General has done nothing to disturb the independence and the credibility of the investigations going on by the police complaints commission. As a matter of fact, it was the commissioner of the OPP who referred the matter, it is my understanding, to the police complaints commission. They are an independent body, they will come to an independent conclusion, and out of that will come some recommendations which I trust will be implemented.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): My question is to the Minister of Transportation, who has heard me raise this issue several times with him in the past few months.

Provincial roads in eastern Ontario are not only hazardous to vehicles but also to the personal safety of motorists, and many of my constituents found that out last week.

Nathalie and Réal Campeau of Cornwall were driving on the 401 near Long Sault when two of their tires were blown after hitting several huge potholes. As a result of the tire blowouts, the Campeaus lost control, hit the median and their truck flipped over. Fortunately, their injuries were not life-threatening, but the loss of the vehicle may cost Nathalie her new job, since she will no longer have transportation, which her job requires.

In the early 1990s, MTO slashed road repair spending from $580 million to $400 million. In 1994-95, the ministry only spent $202 million, and the auditor's report stated that 60% of the highways are in poor or substandard condition. Your government has cut another $50 million out of the budget alone.


When will this Minister of Transportation recognize that personal injury is too high a price to pay for expenditure control in road maintenance, and when will he commit to fixing these hazardous roads in Ontario?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I certainly want to thank the honourable member for the question. It's a very good question and certainly we are concerned with the state of our infrastructure. As the auditor has addressed it, we must put more money into our highway system because it is the vital --


Hon Mr Palladini: If the members across the road -- and I use the word "road" -- would like to hear, maybe they should stop talking and listen. You asked the question. I want to give you the answers. Thank you very much.

One of the things we must do is put money back in the infrastructure; we recognize the importance. Unfortunately, because of the type of winter we had this year, potholes might become more prominent. There is a strike going on. We do not have the workers to address some of those potholes that we might have been able to address.

I want to say to the honourable member that I have every intention in addressing these problems and making sure that our highway system is --

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): You're cutting the funding.

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

Hon Mr Palladini: -- industry as well as our citizens.

Mr Cleary: That answer I think is full of bullfeathers. The minister knows right well that I had spoken to him about the condition of the roads even before the strike. Highways 2, 401, 417 and others are in terrible shape. I have not been able to get from the minister an answer as to what he is going to do before he transfers Highway 2 back to a municipal responsibility and some more downloading. Community-minded citizens have been painting warnings around the potholes, which are six inches deep, in order to alert motorists.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): That what it says on your paper, John?

Mr Cleary: And the member across the way knows full well about that, the member for S-D-G.

In addition to the Campeaus, I had a visit from a lady from the Solicitor General's riding last week whose tires were blown in the same area after hitting a pothole, and the same week Lee MacEachern was driving on 417 when he hit a pothole and is $1,000 poorer for his experience. Also, another vehicle in the area hit a pothole and went under a transport.

The highways are in desperate need of repairs. The Tory government in the mid-1990s wants to bring us back into the 1940s and 1950s with some of their policies, but needs to realize that the safety of Ontarians should be put first -- just to add $20 billion of borrowed money to the debt just to give an irresponsible tax break to the wealthiest Ontarians.

When will the government come clean with the municipal councils in eastern Ontario and work out a solution on Highway 2 and fix the other provincial roads in eastern Ontario?

Hon Mr Palladini: The member would like to have the people of Ontario believe that it is a Mike Harris government that's caused all the potholes. We have been in government nine months. It was the NDP and your government that didn't put the money back in the infrastructure when they should have. Now the fault is Mike Harris's government. He would like the people of Ontario to believe just that.

Let me say about the transferring of highways. It is for that reason that we want to make sure that whatever transfers are done are done in an orderly fashion so we can put money back in the provincial highway infrastructure to make sure we can move people and goods around. That is our commitment. And as far as transfers are concerned, we are going to do them in an orderly fashion.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Deputy Premier. Yesterday, Monday and today we've heard the Solicitor General and the Attorney General and then today you all acknowledge, first of all, that there had been complaints about the March 18 incident filed in front of the police complaints commission. We also heard you all excuse the Solicitor General's behaviour in commenting on what happened on that day when those complaints had been filed by saying that he qualified his remarks as being events he personally observed.

As the head of the government in the Legislature, I would like you to explain what the position of your government is with respect to the administration of justice as to when it's appropriate for a minister of the crown to make any kind of comment, personal or otherwise, on an issue that's before a quasi-judicial body, that's under a police investigation or that's before a court.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): As I said, it's my understanding that the Solicitor General did not refer to any particular case before the police complaints commission. The police complaints commission is a body that is independent of the Solicitor General. He has explained the context of his remarks, and there is a public inquiry into all other aspects of the events of March 18.

Mrs Boyd: The Deputy Premier just continues to repeat, and I would say to compound, the error of integrity that has been committed by the Solicitor General. It appears that all of the leadership of the government are saying that even though they don't know what the complaints are, they have no idea what incidents they covered, they have no idea what the issues are -- although this minister made very direct comments, first of all, about whether or not official warnings were given, and warnings, as the Attorney General will tell you, are extremely important in terms of due process. He made comments about other groups, and he named those other groups, after watching confidential OPP tapes, as being responsible, and not OPSEU; he named that. How do you know they are not the subject of complaints?

So I would say to you, since you are unwilling to understand that this is a very serious issue which has the danger of calling into disrepute the administration of justice in this province, and since you refuse to understand the seriousness of this with respect to the police complaints commission, will you assure this House and the people of Ontario that the behaviour and the conduct and the integrity of the Solicitor General will be one of the terms of reference for the public inquiry?

Hon Mr Eves: I repeat again, the police complaints commission is independent of the Solicitor General. The Solicitor General has explained the context of his remarks. I gave you a commitment with respect to all other events and matters with respect to and leading up to March 18. That is the way it is.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): My question is for the minister without portfolio responsible for workers' compensation reform. In mid-February, the Honourable Cam Jackson met with a large group of injured workers in Stevensville, Ontario, home of the Tim Hudak Action Centre. One of these workers, Silvana Turner, was injured in a car accident. She claimed on her WCB because she wanted the opportunity to return to work once she had recuperated. After the WCB terminated her benefits in January, Ms Turner felt she would have been better off claiming the accident on her car insurance instead.

My question to the minister is on behalf of the injured workers he met with personally in my office, the rest of the workers of Niagara South, as well as those others around the province the minister has met with recently. Minister, in your consultations, are you hearing from other injured workers across this province the kinds of problems and frustrations experienced by my constituent Silvana Turner?

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): I'd like to thank the member for Niagara South not only for the question but because he has taken a very active interest in injured workers in his riding and done a considerable amount of accessing programs for his constituents in this regard.


His constituent Silvana Turner raised a very interesting question about the options for persons injured in a car accident or on their way to work or during the course of employment. Silvana Turner's experience was quite interesting because of the fact that she felt, upon reflection upon how she'd been treated during the adjudication process, what medical supports were available, what she felt she was denied, that in fact there was a better way of providing the services under workers' compensation or a better service could be applied with her auto insurance.

So I was pleased when she wrote a letter, both to the member and myself, where she indicated, and I quote from her letter to me, "The current majority government that was elected by the people should take a long, hard look at the workers' compensation program and its debt load and revise it to its original intention, which was to help people that are incapable of work because of an accident." That is exactly what this government is doing.

Mr Hudak: I'd like to thank the minister for his interest in Ms Turner and other similar injured workers across the province and for his personal interest in the workers in my riding.

As a supplementary, Mr Minister, I think you'll remember that when you met with the injured workers in Niagara South in February they expressed concerns that the WCB's current approach to physical and vocational rehabilitation has not been effective in helping injured workers in their efforts to return to work. Could you tell me, Mr Minister, is this what you've been hearing from injured workers not only in Niagara South but in the rest of the province?

Hon Mr Jackson: Yes, it is what I have been hearing from injured workers. In fact, I was in the riding of the leader of the official opposition several weeks ago, and I spent about three and a half hours in her riding meeting and listening to injured workers to have a better --

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): And they're very upset with what you're doing.

Hon Mr Jackson: Well, they are quite aware that this government is listening to injured workers. They expressed concern about voc rehabilitation programs in this province, and they're concerned, for example, about the value for money at institutions like Downsview. The spending on voc rehab in this province has more than doubled, from $200 million in 1987 to $459 million in 1994, yet the unemployment rate for injured workers remains at about 50%. This is a record that we, as a province, cannot be proud of.

That is why, upon the suggestion of two of the constituents from the north, in Thunder Bay, who mentioned that we should be looking at other positive examples of cooperative models for rehab, I took their suggestion. Both Steve Mantis and George Casey, an ironworker in Thunder Bay, recommended that we invite someone from the state of Germany to present some of the concerns and best practices in European models. I'm pleased to report to the House that Mr Manfred Rentrop, a senior official with the German government, will be here tomorrow for our International Forum on Workers' Compensation, Health and Safety.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a question for a minister who has some authority in the cabinet. My question is for the Minister of Health, a real minister. The question that I have to the minister who is cutting and gutting is I ask him to remember back to May 1994 when he stood in this House and made a statement on a very serious issue. I want him to know that I have been contacted by the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario. For those who are unaware, this is chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME.

You said, and I quote the minister's words when he was health critic and cared about appropriate care and treatment for the people of this province, or seemed to, "Very little is known about this painful and debilitating disease." He said that over 10,000 individuals suffer from ME, and he called upon the provincial government to take action because, notwithstanding the fact that it had taken the NDP government eight months to establish an environmental clinic, Mr Wilson said that was inadequate, and he urged the government to take immediate action to convene a promised provincial advisory committee on non-specific disorders and to initiate an epidemiological surveillance to evaluate the extent of ME and the potential crisis in Ontario.

I would ask him today to tell us what he has done in the over-eight months that he has been Minister of Health to address this issue of importance to those who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and ME.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Well, it's a very good question from the member for Oriole. I can only reiterate, as I said in the House back in May 1994, that the group we're trying to get together, that she mentions, is on track and we'll be making announcements about that this year; that the commitments we made in the past are on track; and that there are some other topics -- if she wants to bring them up. We also made a commitment to the Alzheimer's society that we're also working on, and I'm sure they'll approach her soon on that.

I've been very, very busy, I say to the honourable member for Oriole, and this government's been very busy. We've done more perhaps in the first nine months of government than most governments do in four or five years. And I want to tell you, on a very human level, that if we make commitments, if I make commitments as health critic, if commitments were made during the campaign, this government is fully committed to living up to everything we said we would do for the people of Ontario. I appreciate your reminding us from time to time and prodding us along; but with respect, for people suffering with ME, I fully intend to live up to those commitments.

Mrs Caplan: This minister has done more to cut and gut health services in this province, I will agree with him. He has done more to damage health services in this province than any minister in the history of this province.

I would also say to him that there are many of those who are in need of appropriate care who are unable to find that care. That is because he has cut $1.3 billion, and that we haven't seen a forecast of 20,000 jobs over the next three years, layoffs from the hospitals of this province, and the minister knows fulls well that those are the people who provide the services to patients, those are the people who keep our hospitals clean and safe for the people of this province.

So to have him stand in his place and give a patronizing answer to a serious issue like ME is unacceptable, and I would say shame to him. And I would say to him: Who is on your advisory committee? When is it going to be established? This is a very serious issue for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. You took it seriously when you were on this side of the House. You've been there for eight months, all you've been doing is cutting. When are you going to get on with doing something positive and putting in place those things that you advocated for when you were on this side of the House? Stand up and say when.

Hon Mr Wilson: What I will do is stand up and correct the honourable member. We have not cut one penny from health care in this province. The budget was $17.4 billion when we arrived in office, it's $17.4 billion today, and it will be through to the next election, as per our commitment.

I would remind people that this little book talked about health care, this talked about health care at $17 billion in some 10 locations in this bill. So I ask the honourable member, you would have started your term as health minister, had you won the last election, by cutting $400 million from health care in this province. That's not the route we've taken, and we're fully living up to all of our commitments including --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. New question, third party, the member for London Centre.


The Speaker: The individual who used that word "lied," I would appreciate if he would withdraw.


The Speaker: Order. Would the member withdraw?


The Speaker: Order. Did the member use the word?

Interjections: No.

The Speaker: Order. Whoa. I'm asking the member. If he didn't use it, then that's fine.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Attorney General. You are the chief law officer of the crown in this province and you have very special duties under the Attorney General's act, duties that no other member of the cabinet has. Those duties are to administer the justice system in this province and to ensure that it doesn't fall into disrepute, to ensure that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that is there in the Constitution for us all pertains to everyone impartially within this province. So I would like to ask you the question that I asked the political head of your government, who gave me a political answer.

I would like to ask you what, in your opinion as the Attorney General of this province, you think is appropriate in terms of comments made by a minister of the crown in the face of a police investigation, a quasi-judicial tribunal or a court. Is it ever appropriate, and if so, when, for a minister of the crown to deal with issues publicly that are in front of those bodies?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I will say again there have been no comments made about any specific case, and I will also say that in this province we have an independent police complaints commissioner. That independent police complaints commissioner will investigate these issues and the complaints that have been put before him in an independent way and that will be done.

Mrs Boyd: It is very clear, as it was yesterday, as it was Monday, that this government has different standards for itself and different standards for anyone else who has ever been in government, and that's very serious because in fact what is happening here is a claim that they do not know what's in front of the police complaints commission, but nothing that the Solicitor General said could possibly be inappropriate with something in front of that commission. This is absolute nonsense.

The minister made it very clear that he was commenting, first of all, on whether or not the OPP gave adequate warning. We've repeated those again and again in Hansard. I'm not going to do it again. He admitted that he had seen confidential OPP tapes and that he was making these judgements as a result of that observation, which he made only because of his privilege and his responsibility as the head of the OPP. He made allegations that he was not making any judgement against OPSEU, but he was making judgements about a number of other groups that he said, according to the tapes, were responsible for the disorder that occurred.

It is impossible for me to believe that the Attorney General really believes that none of those issues will be part of an investigation by the police complaints commission. I want to make it very clear to the Attorney General, we are in no way impugning the independence or the integrity of the police complaints commissioner, Judge Lapkin -- in no way at all. We are simply saying to the Attorney General, how can you continue to defend and attempt to whitewash the behaviour of your colleague who is calling the administration of justice in this province into disrepute when that is your major responsibility as Attorney General?

Hon Mr Harnick: The issue is the investigation and the proper investigation by the police complaints commissioner of the individual complaints that have been filed with him. I have no doubt, because of the nature of his independent position and because he will investigate independently, that those complaints before the police complaints commissioner are not going to be prejudiced in any way. There will be an independent investigation. That is the duty of the independent police complaints commissioner and he will do his job as statute obligates him to do.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture. Last night, the Peel Board of Education introduced a motion at its board which essentially cuts off all busing in the region of Peel. As you know, I represent the north half of the region of Peel, the town of Caledon, and stopping all busing in this area will certainly have a devastating effect on the town of Caledon because we essentially do not have a busing system, a municipal system.

My question to the minister is whether he's aware of the current situation and what dialogue he's had with representatives from the Peel Board of Education concerning school bus service in rural areas such as Caledon.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): The member for Dufferin-Peel has asked a question which is very serious for the residents of Peel, and I know there have been many people who have attended a public meeting recently to take up this subject.

In answer to the question, I have had several conversations in the past few months with the chairperson of that board and I've also had a chance to have conversations with the representatives of the provincial bodies that represent the school boards across the province. In fact, that includes the people who represent the Ontario Public School Boards' Association. Those folks agree with this government that we need to change our education system in this province, that we need to protect the quality of education while at the same time finding savings in our costs outside of the classroom.

In order to enhance both the local flexibility at the bargaining table and the local flexibility of boards of education, we recently announced measures that would assist local boards in doing just that, including a new block grant approach to our transportation grants.

We believe that transportation costs can be reduced, and board associations agree as well, through transportation logistics including coterminous cooperation, which I know Dufferin-Peel and the Peel boards have been doing for the last couple of years, but also through staggered start and finish times for schools so that we can have two and three times the utilization for bus equipment and by using computer modelling.

Peel's transportation grant reduction next year will amount to about 1% of the transportation costs, and I believe those kinds of savings can be found in the methodology that I've just described.

Mr Tilson: This move by the Peel Board of Education, in my opinion, will place an unfair burden on the parents and the students of my riding, which is Caledon. Specifically as well it will set a precedent to school boards around the province to bring forward similar motions instead of looking at internal cost savings. In other words, if you happen to live near a school, you don't pay, but if you live on a farm or out in the country, you have to pay dearly.

My final question to the Minister of Agriculture -- I keep saying "Minister of Agriculture" -- to the Minister of Education is, what solutions is the minister prepared to offer to ensure that bus service is not dropped in rural areas of Peel and across the province? How can he assure that there will be universal access to education across this province?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I understand that the honourable member might have a problem. The Minister of Agriculture and I do look a lot alike, and so occasionally everyone makes that sort of mistake.

Mr Tilson: You're better-looking by far.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I want to inform the member that transportation is not a mandated service in the province of Ontario. The Education Act says that boards "may" provide transportation service. This allows for a lot of local flexibility and for school boards to meet local requirements which, as the member has pointed out, are different in rural and urban areas.

I want to inform the member that if the response of a board to about a 1% reduction in transportation grants, or money available for transportation, is either to charge a user fee or to completely eliminate the service, then my ministry will reconsider all of the transportation funding provided to that board. In the case of the Peel board that the member has brought up, that would amount to about $4 million.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I indicate dissatisfaction with the answer of the Attorney General and request a late show. I'll file the appropriate papers by the end of the day.




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.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition to Premier Mike Harris, Minister Al Leach and members of the Ontario Legislature:

"Whereas Mike Harris's Conservative government of Ontario is planning to destroy the present system of rent control;

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservative Party made no mention of scrapping rent control during the election campaign of 1995 or in the Common Sense Revolution document;

"Whereas a number of Conservative candidates in ridings with high tenant populations campaigned during the 1995 election on a platform of protecting the current rent control system;

"Whereas the government has consulted with special-interest groups representing landlords and developers while cutting funding to organizations representing the 3.5 million tenants of Ontario;

"Whereas although all renters will suffer, seniors and others on fixed incomes will suffer particular hardship if rent controls were abolished;

"Whereas eliminating rent control will result in skyrocketing rents in Ontario;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislature of Ontario to stop the attack on the 3.5 million tenants of this province."

I will affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): I rise pursuant to standing order 36 to present a petition on behalf of 587 good citizens of Cambridge and area, including members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and local churches. It reads:

"We commend the provincial government for seeking to cut unnecessary spending. We, the undersigned, who represent Cambridge and area churches, urge Premier Mike Harris to cut abortion funding. Our Christian conscience is violated when our taxes are used to fund abortions."

I affix my name on there pursuant to the standing orders.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition from the Rural Family Resource Centre, parents who are very concerned about the provision of day care. The petition reads:

"As a parent-caregiver using the services of the Rural Family Resource Centre, I am concerned about future budget cuts to family resource programs. I urge you to maintain funding to these programs so that rural families can continue to access this essential service."

I'm proud to sign my name to this petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have here a petition from the coalition of tenants' associations in the Hamilton area that has been doing a lot of work in order to be able to gather signatures in opposition to the government's plan to scrap rent control. The petition reads:

"Whereas security of tenure or the right to remain in our homes is a basic need of all humans; and

"Whereas uncontrolled rent increases force many tenants from their homes for both economic and other reasons; and

"As the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Premier of Ontario have both expressed publicly their desire to abolish rent control;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to protect the security of tenure of Ontario tenants by ensuring that rent control remains in effect in this province."

I've proudly signed this petition with these people.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I 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'm pleased to affix my signature to this petition.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I have a petition signed by 147 residents of eastern Ontario and it calls for the government to continue full funding to public libraries.

"Whereas the Premier of Ontario, the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, as well as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, have made statements that suggest the provincial government intends to repeal the Public Libraries Act in order to impose fees for the use of public libraries, to eliminate provincial conditional grants to public libraries, and to eradicate public library boards; and...

"Whereas public libraries make too important a contribution to the ongoing economic strength and quality of life in Ontario for these principles to be cast aside,

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

"To oppose the repeal of the Public Libraries Act, the imposition of fees for the use of public libraries, the elimination of provincial conditional grants to public libraries, the eradication of library boards, and to support free public libraries as the foundation of a literate, informed and prosperous population."

I have also signed my name to this petition.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I have a petition from Freedom to Move. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads as follows:

"Transportation Minister Al Palladini is proposing legislation that will cost many towns their bus service.

"Bus companies are currently required to provide service for smaller towns as a condition of being given the rights to high-profit routes and charter markets. Minister Palladini's plan to deregulate will eliminate all conditions and requirements. As a result, hundreds of smaller communities like ours" -- in Manitouwadge, for instance -- "will lose bus service.

"Minister, people in smaller towns need bus service just as much as people in big cities. We depend upon buses to visit friends and family, to get to appointments in nearby towns, to ship our Christmas presents and to receive our repair parts. The undersigned call upon the members of the Legislative Assembly" -- all of us -- "to oppose bus deregulation and the elimination of our bus service."

It's signed by concerned citizens and of course I have affixed my name to that petition.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): On Friday, I was approached by three representatives of the OPSEU organization who asked me to pass on a petition signed by a number of residents of the Niagara Peninsula. I'll oblige their request and read it into the record on their behalf. After a preamble, the conclusion is:

"We, the following citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to abandon the selloff of Ontario public services and reinstate successor rights for public service employees."


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario which reads:

"Whereas the Minister of Education and Training has gone on record stating that the government is deeply committed to an educational system that delivers excellence and that the government has acknowledged that the public wants a highly educated, highly motivated and highly trained workforce that is a result of providing an absolutely first-class education to our young people, and that the government is going to deliver on these needs expressed by the public;

"Whereas Stats Canada data places Ontario sixth in spending per pupil after the northern territories, Quebec, Manitoba and BC, yet the government has announced a $400-million cut in educational funding for the 1996 school year;

"Whereas these cuts will translate into a reduction in support to students, a reduction in teacher contact with students, and create a school environment that will not promote the ideal stated above, contrary to what the public expects,

"Therefore we, the undersigned, urge the Legislature of Ontario to withdraw this damaging underfunding of Ontario's educational system and to refrain from making changes which affect the delicate balance between teachers and school boards."

I have 300 signatures, and I will affix my name to this petition as well.



Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a petition from some good, hardworking residents of my constituency.

"By means of this petition we, the employees of Gogama Forest Products Ltd and all other persons travelling our provincial highways, do not agree with the government's decision to reduce the number of highway snow-clearing and sanding vehicles in the province, but more specifically, those located in the Shining Tree and Gogama patrol area.

"It is felt that the lack of the aforementioned equipment in these areas will greatly jeopardize the safety of those travelling the highways this winter. We must travel Highways 144 and 560 on a daily basis to get to work and the employees and their family members rely heavily on the highways being maintained on an ongoing basis, allowing all to reach their destinations safely.

"Your government must realize and take into consideration that the highways in southern Ontario are not the same in northern Ontario and concessions or adjustments must be made to accommodate the differences."

I agree with this petition and have affixed my name thereto.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I also have in my possession a group of letters presented to me.

"I urge the government to sit down with the public service workers to find ways to cut costs while safeguarding the services needed."

I'd like to enter it into the record.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Transition House in Chatham has provided emergency shelter to troubled or abused youth as well as support, counselling and life skills training since 1990, and, operating on a five-year budget of $865,000, they have counselled over 400 youth and served over 29,000 meals;

"Whereas the government of Ontario has cut its direct funding to Transition House by almost $48,000 annually and places the existence of Transition House in jeopardy;

"Be it therefore resolved that we, the undersigned, urge the government of Ontario to reverse its decision to cut the funding of Transition House in Chatham-Kent."

I affix my signature to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Contrary to Minister Jackson's fantasy, here's what workers are really saying about his attacking WCB.

"To the Ontario Legislature of Ontario:

"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 join the United Food and Commercial Workers in their petition.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the public secondary teachers of Ontario have taken a workplace democracy vote in accordance with Bill 7 and have rejected the proposed College of Teachers by a 94.8% vote,

"We, the undersigned, urge the provincial assembly to instruct the government to withdraw Bill 31, the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1995."


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 by protecting ministry funding, stating in the campaign backgrounder, `There will be no cuts to health care funding by a Harris government,' and in calling this 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 related to the closing of St Joseph's Hospital and we recommend that no hospitals should close in Hamilton-Wentworth."


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have here a petition from the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations in regard to rent control, and I commend them on the work that they're doing in getting all these signatures. The petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads:

"To Premier Mike Harris, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Al Leach, and members of the provincial Legislature:

"Whereas to abolish rent controls in favour of a market system would be disastrous for tenants and would give further power to allow unnecessary profit for landlords,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to support universal and mandatory rent controls which reflect a fair balance between the ability of tenants to pay and the necessity of costs of supplying well-maintained and secure housing."

I sign the petition on their behalf.



Mr Barrett from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the committee's report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr24, An Act respecting TD Trust Company and Central Guaranty Trust Company

Bill Pr41, An Act respecting the City of Scarborough

Bill Pr43, An Act to revive 1092040 Ontario Inc.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Shall this report be received and adopted? Agreed.


Mr Laughren from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's sixth report.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Pursuant to standing order 106(g)11, the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of 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.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I'd like to start by thanking my colleague the member for Cochrane South, who is the actual critic for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, for not only splitting his time with me but giving me the lion's share of that time. As the critic for environment and energy, I carried this bill mostly through the committee for our caucus, although I was joined by many members from our caucus.

I want to begin by paying tribute to some folks who were instrumental in the development of Bill 163, which as you know is the bill that's now been completely gutted by this new Bill 20.

In particular, I think it's really important that we commend John Sewell, the former chair of the Commission on Planning and Development Reform in Ontario. People may not be aware of this, but leaving aside whether or not you like what was in the final bill as a result of Mr Sewell's committee, John chaired one of the very few royal commissions in Canada that actually not only reported on time but came in under budget. Not only that, but he saw most of his recommendations, at least at the time, adopted. That's very rare indeed, and I think we should all in this House congratulate Mr Sewell for managing to achieve that mighty feat.

I also want to thank the other members of the commission, Toby Vigod and George Penfold, who spent many hours of their time. As you will remember, Mr Speaker, of the four years, they spent a couple of years on the road, literally, talking to thousands of people.

Last but not least, I would like to mention the Honourable Ed Philip, who at that time was our Minister of Municipal Affairs. I know he struggled very hard for quite a long time, trying to balance the various interests in the Planning Act. Certainly I remember many conversations around caucus and in cabinet, trying to find that balance. I commend him for sticking to it and coming up with a bill that, in our view, did represent the balance of the views in Ontario. I can't even begin to thank by name the literally hundreds of people from environmental groups, from cottage country, from land use committees, ordinary citizens, the development community, municipalities, all of the people who were so very helpful in developing Bill 163.


I want to look at this new Bill 20 from the perspective of other government environmental deregulation and cuts that have happened, and more to come, because when you don't take this in isolation, but you include it and look at it as part of that whole package, we're going to have total devastation of environmental protection in this province. If the Minister of Environment were here, I would say to her that this is not manufactured hysteria by environmentalists out there, as has been suggested by a spokesperson from her office. I'm going to give a specific example, although there are many, of what I mean. This is really important, because when you combine the Planning Act's controls on land development, the controls that have been taken away, with the defunding of conservation authorities under Bill 26, as we all recall, the omnibus, ominous Bill 26, there were many environmental aspects in that Bill 26.

One of the consequences combined with the consequences of Bill 20 is indeed very serious. That is the defunding of conservation authorities. Certainly, when we were the government it became very clear to us that there needed to be some refining and fine-tuning within the conservation authorities. No doubt about it, some changes had to be made, but this slash-and-burn approach is really wrong.

You have to ask yourself, what do conservation authorities do? Within the context of the Planning Act, they play a very vital role. They manage and protect the province's sensitive wetlands, they help preserve the waterways and help keep the water clean and generally make sure that flood land areas are not developed. Bill 26 takes $34 million away from the authorities and waters down -- excuse the pun here -- the existing conservation laws significantly.

When you put that together with reducing transfer payments by almost half to municipalities, there's going to be a real threat that municipalities will also cut funding, because right now there's a partnership wherein the municipalities and the provinces both contribute to conservation authorities. You have to ask yourself as well, with this new Planning Act, where municipalities and developers will not have to adhere to strict environmental controls and the difficult situation financially municipalities and conservation authorities are going to be in, are municipalities going to make conservation a high priority when they're going to be really desperate for development, whether it's good or bad? Conservation authorities are going to be put in the position where they're going to be selling off sensitive environmental land.

When you again look at the government removing the Niagara tender fruit land protection fund, or whatever that was called -- our government put a fund in place to protect this very sensitive, vital farm land in Ontario and as my friend from Niagara region, St Catharines, yesterday spoke most eloquently about, there's very little of that land --

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): He is very eloquent.

Ms Churley: He is very eloquent, most of the time.

He said much more eloquently and in much more detail than I'm going to today, because I certainly won't repeat what he talked about, but he expresses deep concern, and I share that concern, which is why even in tight economic times our government created a fund to encourage and help farmers hold on to this tender fruit land so that it's there in the future, so that we will actually have such an agricultural industry in the future. This bill and the lack of funding to help preserve this land is going to definitely threaten these fruit lands.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): It was just announced there is no fund.

Ms Churley: I see the Minister of Agriculture is here and is arguing with me, but he knows very well about the cuts to agriculture that have already been put in place by this government. The agricultural community isn't fooled. They know what's happening here too, and he is going to have to deal with that down the road.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: We're dealing with it now.

Ms Churley: Yes, he's dealing with it now. I can see that the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs must be on the defensive, because I've only been speaking for a few minutes and he's already heckling me and trying to assure me that there is no problem here. Actually, what he's doing is provoking me. I wasn't going to talk about the tax cuts for a little while yet, but I'll mention it now because it's quite relevant here, and I'll mention it again.

The kinds of cuts that are taking place within the agricultural and rural areas have everything to do with the 30% tax cut that is mainly going to benefit the rich. This government is going to borrow money so that they can put money back in the pockets of rich people. It's obscene.

Mr Gerretsen: And the extremely rich.

Ms Churley: And the extremely rich, absolutely. When this government was in opposition, the few people across the floor who were here in this position at that time used to give our government a hard time for borrowing money to try to keep the economy afloat, to keep the most vulnerable people in our province afloat during the worst recession since the 1930s and to try to create jobs. Somehow it was wrong to borrow money to try to help people during a really bad recession, but somehow for them it's okay to borrow money to give to the rich so that our children and our grandchildren will be paying a deficit, and the children who are going hungry and who are having trouble surviving today are paying a big price now while you pave the way to give those people a tax cut.

I see that the Minister of Agriculture has at least temporarily left, so I'll get back to my text, now that I've made it clear to him where I stand on what these cuts are all about and how I feel about them.

I'm going to talk about a few areas of the bill that are of particular concern to me. I am going to focus on the environmental aspects of this bill, of which there are many serious consequences, because that is my critic area. That is not to say that I don't have severe concerns about some of the other areas: the lack of public participation -- I shouldn't "lack," but this government in the new bill has severely limited the kind of public participation that people are used to and should have. There are all kinds of other areas I have concerns about, and if I have time I'll get to them.

I have no illusions that I'm going to change anybody's minds in the government, except for a few people whose names I won't mention who I think perhaps have some expertise in the planning area and may in fact agree. I won't mention the member for Middlesex or others in the House specifically, but I know that there are some people who have a better understanding of those issues than others, have paid a great deal of attention to what's going on and know that there are some very bad policy changes in this bill that are going to make planning much more difficult. That's the irony of this bill, that is the real irony: It isn't even going to do what the minister says he wants to do. It isn't going to streamline the system.

I know members of the government don't believe me. They think this is rhetoric, because I'm one of these crazy environmentalists and I just want to hold everything up for the sake of holding it up. Not true. That's why we, our government, commissioned the planning commission in the first place, because it was very clear that the existing Planning Act was not working and that we needed something new in place.


I'm going to begin with the title of this bill. I made an amendment at committee level which, I'm sorry to say, was not accepted, but I wasn't surprised. I believe the Liberals supported me on this, at least Mr Bradley did. Let's read the long title of the bill. The short title is Land Use Planning and Protection Act. The long title is, listen to this: 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.

My amendment at the committee hearings was -- I suppose it's a bit mischievous, but it also tells a story. It should be titled, at least the short title, Destruction of the Environment Act, because the title of this bill in itself is doublespeak and is entirely misleading. There is not a single amendment in Bill 20 to do with environmental protection. The very opposite is true. This bill takes away environmental protections which already exist.

I want to talk about a component of the bill which was a major focus at the committee hearings, and that is section 3. Section 3 changes the requirement, that planning decisions must "have regard to" provincial policy, from "to be consistent with" provincial policy. I know that those who aren't greatly involved in this issue think this sounds a little strange, a little weird, semantics: "What are they talking about? What's the big difference between `have regard to' and `be consistent with'?"

I want to tell you how significant this change is. It strikes at the very heart of this bill, and at committee level, it's true, many, almost all the people who came to speak to us about this bill, spoke to this one issue, because it is at the heart. It's very clear that some people hated it and some people liked it.

I want to tell you, and I want to be very clear on this, that the Sewell commission and our government spent many hours, many months, many discussions about how to sort this out, because it became, when we were in the process of developing our bill, an issue as well.

A lot of research was done by Mr Sewell and others and it became very clear to us that "have regard to" provincial policy had no teeth. What it means is -- and it's happened in the past, there are different legal interpretations, there's no clarity to it -- that you've got provincial policy, "have regard to," you can pick it up, have a look at it, "No, that doesn't fit with what we want to do here," toss it aside and say, "Yes, we had regard for it, but it doesn't work for us and that's that."

The loss of this change means the loss of a key planning tool and ironically it will work against this government's approach to speeding up the process. I know you don't believe me now, and not everybody agrees. We had a lot of people come to the committee and say the opposite, it's true. At some point you have to make up your own mind. You have to do the research, you have to talk to different sides and you have to try to determine what will work best, if you're looking at it solely from the point of view of trying to speed up the process and make it less complicated.

If you're moving aside from looking at the environmental aspects of it, that's one thing. But looking at speeding up the process, this is only going to bog it down more. You've got to think about the 80% of Ontario's municipalities with populations of less than 5,000 people, with very limited funds and expertise, and even more limited funds now than before.

Members of the government and all the developers and some municipalities think this change will free them from provincial interference in local decision-making. Again I say, on the contrary.

Let me say here -- and this is really important to those who have paid any attention to this new planning act and Bill 163 under our government -- that we must not confuse the policy guidelines with the policy statements. I think even some members of my own caucus who weren't very involved in the development of this bill confused those guidelines with the policy framework. I will be the first one to say here that those policy guidelines -- and that's all they are, they're guidelines; they have no legislative authority -- were a mistake. They're very long and they're complicated and I can assure you that had Bill 163 stayed in place, they would have had to be changed. It's unfortunate that so many people confuse those guidelines with the provincial policy framework.

But the policy itself which municipalities and developers would have had to be consistent with used langauge and policies to help municipalities to say yes to good development and no to bad development. It was a tool to help them, and flexibility was built into the policies. I suggest that people read those policies. For example, such language as "encouraging" or "fostering" certain kinds of development patterns was used.

I can assure you, we had some fights with environmental activists around some of the words in the policy framework. Environmentalists did not get everything they wanted in this bill. Environmentalists wanted things to be much tougher, much more clear in terms of what could and could not be done in the environment. But we made sure that the policy statements were flexible enough that municipalities and developers could, within the context of their own regions, adhere to and be consistent with these rules but be able to work within the framework of their own restrictions.

As a result of this change, I can tell you, and I know, having been a city councillor for a while and also an environmental activist for quite a long time, I can assure you that there'll be more and more protracted site-by-site battles and appeals to the OMB from all sides. That's what happens when you don't have clarity, and that's what this does. It's very important to understand why this became an issue, whether it should be "be consistent with" or not.

Municipalities wanted more autonomy by freeing them from having to always go to the province for approvals. Bill 163 gave them that. The developers who came and spoke to our committee, who were very involved in the development of Bill 163, when I asked them they agreed that Bill 163 did indeed do that, and so did the municipality representatives.

So the trade-off, as a result of giving the municipalities more autonomy, was that the municipalities' plans had to be consistent with provincial policies. As I said, this included broad goals such as protection of environmentally sensitive areas and curbing urban sprawl. That was a trade-off, because the autonomy municipalities wanted was granted. Now what's happened is that that autonomy is there but there's a free-for-all in terms of environmental protection.

Another big area of concern, which has been addressed by some of my colleagues and I'm sure will be mentioned again, is taking away the tools to try to curb urban sprawl. Bill 163 prevented municipalities from stopping two-unit house development. People could go ahead and build two-unit housing. Bill 20 removes that restriction, so the encouragement to compact development, infilling and intensification has gone out the door.


Bill 20 also eliminates provisions to allow apartments in housing, those kinds of provisions. We've gone back to the bad old days where municipalities can determine for themselves whether they're going to allow them, which doesn't make sense.

This is where I can't understand the Tories at all. This is a case where you have the private property owners, the private sector out there, developing affordable housing. You have situations, especially in this economy, where people want to buy a house but can't afford it unless they're able to rent out a basement apartment to pay their mortgage; or they have a house and somebody's lost a job and they're trying to maintain and keep their house and the only way they can do that is by having an auxiliary apartment; or we have aging parents and we need to be able to find a way to help care for these parents and still give them an opportunity to maintain some kind of independent lifestyle. It allows the private property owner out there to do those things, which is what this Tory government is all about, so they say. But because of pressure from certain municipalities, they caved in and took away a very basic right --

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): AMO.

Ms Churley: Yes, AMO indeed -- listened to AMO but didn't listen to the many thousands of people who need this affordable housing, and took away a very basic right. It's very dangerous when provincial senior levels of government only listen to other elected representatives. Sometimes the people themselves need to be talked to directly.

Another big area of concern for me and for my colleagues is the redrawing of the map. I meant to bring one in so I could illustrate it on the map to people; I forgot it. It's where significant wetlands are specifically protected under Bill 163. Under existing NDP policy statements, development is banned from provincially significant wetlands south of the boreal region, and that's almost up to Wawa. But the Tories again in this case -- I guess it wasn't AMO they caved to but their developer friends. Now the new policies say you only have to protect wetlands south and east of the Canadian Shield. That means that most of cottage country, where there's some of the most beautiful land and some of the most environmentally sensitive land in our province, will no longer be covered.

Of course there are some provisions that municipalities have to look at these sensitive areas, blah, blah, blah, but if you only have to "have regard for," that can be ignored. The "no means no" policy in this particular region, the cottage country, is no longer the case. I would say that all these people who own cottages and live in that area should be very concerned about the kind of development proposals that are going to come forward. This is where I come back to the fact that when people start hearing about some of those development proposals, there are going to be long and protracted battles before the OMB, because there's a lack of clarity about exactly what the rules say.

As I sat through the hearings it became increasingly clear to me, and we had some discussions about this -- I see the parliamentary assistant is here, the member for Oxford -- about who was consulted and who wasn't consulted on Bill 20. It's interesting. Today -- I asked permission if I could use his name today -- I had lunch with a Mr Steve Kaiser, who is the new head of the Urban Development Institute, and he likes this bill, he likes this bill a lot. He thinks it's great for developers. Are you surprised? Although he and I had an agreement on one aspect, an area this bill didn't cover.

One of the things he said to me -- and I told him I'd be very careful not to misrepresent him; Steve, if you're watching, I'll be very careful -- was that he was consulted and he was part of the process of the development of Bill 163. He also said that as much as he likes this bill, one of the things that's very important to developers is certainty. I'd better stop quoting him now.

My interpretation of what Mr Kaiser meant is that the kind of policy they want to see in place, they don't want -- put it this way. Four years from now -- well, now, Mr Kaiser didn't say that, but I say it -- this government will no longer be sitting there. I know you guys used to say that to us too, and we used to hate it, but it's going to be true. Face it, many of you sitting here now will not be in this House four years from now. There's going to be a new government over there, and there's going to be tremendous pressure from all the people who were not consulted, were not listened to on this bill, and lousy development is going to start happening.

We're not going to see this right away. It's going to take a few years, as in the past, for the environmental disasters to start showing up and the millions and millions of dollars that our children and our grandchildren are going to -- talk about leaving our kids a deficit. This government continues to say, "We're spending" -- what is it, the mantra? -- "$1 million an hour on paying off the deficit, and we have to pay it off so that our kids and our grandchildren won't have to be stuck with this big deficit."

If you look at the kind of deficit that you are going to leave your children -- don't turn a blind eye to it; it's the reality. It's so shortsighted to try to dig yourself out of this deep hole you dug yourselves in during the election that you're going to get rid of the deficit and you're going to cut taxes by 30%. You were bold enough to even outline it in -- I almost said the red book. Sorry, what was it called? The Common Sense Revolution. They were bold enough to even put it in there. It shows right up front that rich people are going to get the lion's share of this money.

In the process of developing that, they talk about not leaving our kids a deficit. We know that there are more deficits than economic deficits. We have seen the results of bad planning in this province time and time again which has literally cost the taxpayers millions and millions of dollars to clean up: contaminated water, mine tailings. It goes on and on. Millions of dollars and bad planning.

Mr Hastings: Oh, oh.

Ms Churley: The member doesn't want to hear this, but he really should listen. I'm talking about the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. He's not taking this seriously. I understand that. But it is a very serious problem. I know they're not listening. But if there's one thing I could convince them of, it would be to look into the history of environmental damage and the costs to the taxpayers of this province.

Some of it is gone forever. That's the problem with environmental damage. You can pay off a deficit over time. You've got to manage, and you can pay it off. Especially if you don't give a tax cut at the same time, you can deal with it. But once certain environmental damage is done, you can never, never get it back.

Chris Winter, who's the executive director of the Conservation Council of Ontario, said something that I found extremely telling. He said the environment doesn't care how long it takes to make a decision; it cares what the decision is. That's the crux of the matter here. We have to look beyond just quick, make-a-fast-buck development, because our kids are going to be paying, and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. We won't be around. We'll be dead, let's face it. Let's get real here. Our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren will be out there suffering the consequence of bad development, disappearing farm land, more and more pollution from the automobile, which is what this Bill 20 is going to do.


I want to make it clear that I have no quarrel with Mr Kaiser or with developers. They're a special-interest group. They are one of the few special-interest groups this government listens to. They are. That's okay. They have a right to their opinion; they have a right to represent their constituents, their issues. More power to them. That's what they do.

My quarrel is with this government, because it became increasingly clear throughout the process of these hearings that after our government literally consulted and talked to people for four years, this government within a matter of a few months talked to, consulted with developers and AMO and a few others. I know this because as people came before the committee, I would ask them, if you check Hansard -- I didn't ask them all, but I'd ask some, the developers -- "Do you like this bill?" "Yes, we like this bill." "Were you consulted on this bill?" "Yes, we were consulted" -- a lot, yes. "Did you get what you wanted in this bill?" or words to that effect. "Yes, we're very happy with this bill and the kinds of issues we raised are in there."

Environmental and other citizens' groups who came forward, I would ask the same questions. Totally opposite answer: "No, we were not consulted." "Is there anything about this bill that you like?" "No, not much." "Did the government respond to any of your concerns at all?" "No." There was an absolute dichotomy within those hearings, and you would agree, the member for Kingston and The Islands. He was there for most of the hearings with me. I know the member for Kingston and The Islands agrees with some of the things in the bill.

Mr Gerretsen: I agree.

Ms Churley: That's fine. There are some areas we agree on. But I can assure you there's one thing we agree on, and that is that the other side were not consulted.

We had discussions and some arguments about that in the committee. I remember Ms Kathy Cooper -- remember that? -- from the Canadian Environmental Law Association. She was in and there was a bit of a kerfuffle over who consulted whom and she got cut off by the member for Bruce, who was doing the vice-chairing at the time. She's not here right now. There was a misunderstanding about who consulted with whom, but Kathy Cooper, who was very involved, spent thousands of volunteer -- her group and others -- time helping develop 163. They weren't consulted. They were invited to a meeting and that's what the confusion was about.

She thought we were talking about the Minister of Environment -- remember? -- and it was because she was cut off we weren't able to work that one out, but subsequent to that we realized that she had been invited, along with some other environmentalists, to meet with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. There wasn't consultation. Any environmental group -- a few did go and meet with him and sit down. It was a get-to-know-you meeting. They were never invited back. They weren't asked to seriously sit down and try to at least work out the areas of their greatest concern. They were completely, absolutely, categorically denied access and this takes us back to the same kind of arrogance that this government has displayed throughout its term in office.

You've got time to change; you can change once you start to realize that this is going to be a problem, because I come back to Mr Kaiser. I come back to another government sitting over there and the fact that you didn't consult and you left so many people out of the process. I can guarantee you there is going to be an onslaught from people who weren't involved in this process who are going to say, "We need changes," and I can guarantee you it's going to be changed again. The member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore is now here and is shaking his head, and I know he's the past chair of the UDI --

Mr Gerretsen: He was president; he's past president.

Ms Churley: Past president. You may have missed this, but I had lunch with Mr Kaiser today and we were talking about certain aspects of this bill.

Mr Gerretsen: They've had two nice guys as presidents.

Ms Churley: Two nice guys now as presidents. In the past the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore has expressed caring concern for the environment. If he knew what was happening in this bill, despite his past with UDI, he would agree with me that there's some really serious -- I know he'll be up in his two minutes to tell me that he does agree with me and that he would like to see his government change some of the most draconian aspects of this bill, the parts that are going to affect the environment in a negative way.

Coming back to who was consulted and who wasn't -- very dangerous, what you're doing. Even at the end of the day, if the other side -- yes, we know, you like the developer. Your friends are the big developers. You caved in to them. You have all kinds of rationalizations why you did that, but people need to feel that at least they were heard, that they were part of a process, that they weren't shoved aside as these crazy special interests who for some reason are trying to just stop development and stop having reasonably priced housing for people. On the contrary, they support all kinds of affordable housing, which is another issue that this government is getting rid of.

I have many documents here from environmental and citizens' groups that came before us, and some who didn't just sent in the --

Mr Hastings: Where's your lunch receipt? Surely you are saving money from the UDI cut.

Ms Churley: I always know when I'm being effective when the member for Etobicoke --

Mr Gerretsen: Bedrock, isn't it? He's not in his seat. He shouldn't be recognized at all.

Ms Churley: He's not even in his seat, right. When he wakes up and starts heckling me, I know I must be getting to him.

Mr Gerretsen: He's moving closer.

Ms Churley: Look at that. He's up; he's laughing; he's having a good time. He's not asleep over there.

I have a document here from a group called Stop Environmental Deregulation in Canada. I went to a press conference they held at the University of Toronto this morning. This is a new group, I think the first kind in Canada. They're students from all over Ontario who are getting together and they're demanding that the Liberal government in Ottawa and the Harris government here in Ontario make a commitment to end the environmental law rollbacks. They're very worried about what's happening to the environment within this and they're much more worried about what's happening here in Ontario, but there are some real concerns which are happening in Ottawa too. I'm not going to get into that right away, though. Let me read this to you.

I'm counting for a quorum over there. I think we've got it.

This is very typical of comments made by so many people who were left out of this process. It says: "Public participation is critical to making sound, environmentally significant decisions. Members of the public who receive" -- no, that's the intervenor funding one. Sorry about that. Intervenor funding is a whole other issue here that's going to help take their voices away.

Here it is. "Public ignored. It is frightful that in a country such as ours, which prides itself in a democratic decision-making process in which all citizens have the right to present their views on matters which concern them, the voices of so many members of the public are being ignored. The Harris government's hasty and insufficient consultation process on the omnibus bill is an excellent case in point.

"In preparing Bill 20, the Harris government again has failed to adequately consult the citizens of Ontario. In fact, the only parties consulted were the development industry" --

Mr Hastings: Wrong.

Ms Churley: I know they're right -- "and member municipalities of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. How can the Harris government claim that it is restoring the balance between competing interests when all parties are not at the table? Is this the Harris government's idea of a balanced approach?"

I say shame. There is nothing this government can say that's going to change the fact. I know they'll make all kinds of noises, "Oh, we had this group in and that group in and we invited CELA and CIELAP to participate in the development of the policy statements, and they refused."

Mr Hastings: They have refused.

Ms Churley: Yes, they refused. I can tell you why they refused. I can tell you very well why they refused. There wasn't any point any more. They weren't consulted on the main bill, and then they were brought in as a sop at the end to say, "Oh, well, the policy statement, now come and help us write those." When municipalities and developers don't even have to pay attention to them any more, what's the point, for heaven's sake? Give me a break. This is ridiculous.

This guy over here wasn't even at the hearings. He hasn't read the bill. He doesn't know what's going on, which is typical of this government.

I wish the Minister of Environment and Energy was here today, because where has the Minister of Environment and Energy been in the process of the development of Bill 20? Nowhere. There's no evidence that minister had anything to do with the writing of this bill, period.


I tried time and time again, during the course of committee hearings, to get the Minister of Environment and Energy to come in and answer specific questions about my concerns about the environmental aspects, the environmental deregulation that's going on within this bill.

Mr Gerretsen: We were stonewalled by the government members.

Ms Churley: We were completely stonewalled, as my friend from Kingston and The Islands says, completely stonewalled, because when the committee first started, we asked a question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. He was clueless. I'm quoting him; I don't think I need to apologize for that. He didn't have a clue about the environmental side of this bill, which really worried me, because it's such a major component of the bill, and he couldn't answer the questions. He just kept saying, "Oh, don't worry," and the member for Bruce kept saying, "We haven't done a thing to environmental protection in this bill." It was like she was reading another bill.

Anyway, the Minister of Environment and Energy, I don't know, maybe she would've come if we'd been allowed to ask, but the government stonewalled and said no. What were they afraid of? If they really meant what they said, that there was adequate environmental protection in this bill, why would they not have had, proudly, the Minister of Environment and Energy come in and explain where we were going wrong, that somehow we were misinterpreting what was -- but she didn't. She didn't volunteer her time either. I think it was of particular importance that the Minister of Environment and Energy give her views on the bill and assure us of her commitment to at least attempt to do her job.

Another aspect of this bill is of great concern and that's the concentration of power to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to determine whether matters are referred to the OMB or not. This is new. I know the Liberals and the member for Kingston and The Islands spoke to it yesterday, and I believe the parliamentary assistant -- I'm sorry if it wasn't -- somebody from that side expressed concern that he seemed to suggest that he was going to support that and now he wasn't.

Let me tell you why that's unsupportable. Nobody disagrees with the concept of streamlining the process, absolutely nobody, as long as, within the context of that streamlining, proper controls are in place and a process is worked out so that the public has confidence that if the Minister of Environment and Energy or the Minister of Natural Resources or the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has some problems with the development they have a say in whether or not that goes to the OMB, that their concerns are represented, that the public has the confidence to know, because I know the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, well, hey, they've got their role to play, and unfortunately, our government tried to start -- not tried to, started the process of finally trying, and the Environmental Bill of Rights was part of that which the Minister of Finance is now exempt from, to make all ministries of the crown and ministers of the crown take the environment into account when considering anything. That just had to be part of the process. We tried to make all of our ministers and ministries accountable when it came to environmental protection.

There's a big reason for this, because over the years ministries have acted quite in isolation, in many cases, especially when it came to environmental concerns, and this had started to change. Now this government here has just put it back years in terms of shifting the climate and shifting the culture to think about environmental concerns, what's coming out at the end of the pipe, what this development is going to do when it's put on this particular piece of land.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has a lot of pressure. Just listen to the title of his ministry. It's all about development in many ways. So it's very concerning that this minister now has that sole power to determine these things, and particularly -- I come back to the Minister of Environment and Energy -- a minister who so far has demonstrated that she is not protecting the environment. On the contrary, it's very alarming that everything she has done to date -- everything -- has actually been to undermine environmental protection which already exists. And there are rumours that there's more to come.

What is going on, you have to ask. Is she really going along with this kind of deregulation and cutting? Does she understand the implications of her actions? Because if she does, she should resign. I would hang my head in shame if I were the Minister of Environment. I couldn't go out in public and face people if I were doing what she were doing. I'd have to resign. At a certain point, you've got to make a judgement here, and if she's being forced by the Premier and the Premier's office and other ministers to go along with this absolute devastation of environmental protection and the deregulation and cutting that's going on, then the environmental community and all citizens have something to be very concerned about.

Yesterday, as you know, there was a little bit of guerrilla theatre on the front lawn by a group of people --

Mr Gerretsen: Tory members?

Ms Churley: No, there were no Tory members there.

Mr Gerretsen: Well, you mentioned gorillas, so I thought --

Ms Churley: I don't think I'd even call them gorillas. The Speaker might remove me from the House, so I should be careful. I didn't call anybody anything. It's okay. I'm being very polite here.

They held this mock funeral, and it was a bit of theatre, but there was something very sad about the occasion in reality as well, because these are the people -- housing activists -- who are out there working on the front lines with poor people, with people who have lost their jobs during this terrible economic downturn, with people who have worked for years trying to better their environment.

For the first time in 20 or 30 years, they're actually seeing a trend that hasn't happened over those years, and that is, the environmental protection and regulation actually going backwards. That's why this group I mentioned earlier, the group of students, has come together, because what environmentalists have been doing for the last 20 or 30 years is working slowly but surely. It's never enough, there's always more to do, but every government on every level, including the past Tory government here which brought in the Niagara Escarpment Commission -- which I understand is somewhat threatened by this government now, but I just refuse to believe they'd go that far. What's amazing and what's really sad about this is that for the first time in 20 or 30 years, we're going backwards. We're not slowly making more --


Mr Gerretsen: "Why not?" He asked, why not go backwards?

Ms Churley: Did the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale actually say: "Why not? It's okay to go backwards"? He did, I believe.



Ms Churley: I believe that this attitude sums up this government. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale thinks it okay to go backwards. Now we're going to have that in Hansard. It's what was said, and of course that is what's happening. But we're all going to pay the price.

I just have a few minutes left and I want to refer back to a letter to the committee from Mr Sewell. I know that lots people don't agree with Mr Sewell, but I think you have to respect him, and I think you have to give him credit for the fact that he went out and talked, literally for two years, to people, and he knows the planning system, the old planning system and of course the 163 that's been thrown out pretty much inside out. He knows some of the pitfalls that were there before, he knows what needs to be changed, and he knows that a balanced approach was needed.

It's true that although there was a broad consensus reached on Bill 163, not everybody agreed, certainly AMO -- boy, you should've been in the room, Mr Speaker, when AMO came into the room to give their presentation. Boy, you could've taken out the cigars and the brandy, it was just instant old boys' club.

Mr Gerretsen: Oh, come now.

Ms Churley: Of course, the member for Kingston and The Islands is getting offended because -- uh-huh, I'm surrounded by --


Ms Churley: Yes, boys, just a couple -- one woman. But the atmosphere just completely changed and it was almost, yes sir, yes sir. They like this bill. They like everything that's in the bill.

Mr Gerretsen: There are a couple of parts they don't like.

Ms Churley: Well, a couple of parts, yes, but they really like this bill. They pretty well got everything they wanted. You had to be there, I realize that. It's hard to describe. Were you there, member for Hamilton Centre? You were, I think --

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Sure, I was there.

Ms Churley: Oh, I put him on the spot. A few minutes ago he was heckling and saying, "Yes, you should have been there."

But seriously here, to wrap up, one of the issues that Mr Sewell talks about is the cost of poor planning, and that's a concern of all of us in this House. I know that members of government don't want to see poor planning. I have to believe that. I have to believe that those who are aware of what is in this bill, and I realize it's very few, but those who do, I would like to think would like to be assured by their minister that this won't lead to poor planning and a bogged down system.

What Mr Sewell says is: "There are two costs of poor planning. One cost is paid in the first instance by applicants who spend a great deal of time and energy trying to make their way through a flawed process. Those costs are passed on to those who buy into the development.

"A second cost is paid by future generations, those who come after us. They pay in terms of cleaning up polluted rivers, in terms of the social effects of badly planned physical form (many public housing projects, for example), in terms of added costs of public services.

"Good planning reduces costs in the short and long run. It is done through plans -- official plans -- which are comprehensive, based on sensible policies and are well-thought-out. Current legislation addresses these three aspects of good planning. The proposed amendments I have commented on in this letter would remove the requirement to meet these three tests."

Then Mr Sewell goes on to make amendments based on his knowledge of what had changed in the bill, which he believes is going to be the cost of poor planning. I believe Mr Sewell knows what he's talking about, and I believe this government is making a very big mistake, a very, very big mistake, to dismiss the expertise, the very valuable expertise that Mr Sewell has built up over the years through his own municipal work and through his many conversations with people from all walks of life, from all over Ontario.

I believe it was a huge mistake for this government within the time frame of a few short months to go ahead and rip the guts out of Bill 163, which had been developed over the course of four years, in consultation with all sides, including the developers, the municipalities, the environmentalists, the cottagers, and the citizens' groups who want to be part of the process and have a great deal of credibility in that process and a great deal at stake.

The government made a very big mistake by not including these people and it is going to come back to haunt them. We are going to see protracted case-by-case, site-by-site, long-drawn-out battles. We are going to see huge environmental costs and we are going to see a backlash from those in the public who are completely left out of this process, because this is a terrible, terrible bill and it isn't even going to achieve the main purpose for which the government brought it in. It is actually even going to bog down the process even more and we'll have to do it all over again four years from now.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions or comments?

Mr Gerretsen: I would certainly like to congratulate the member for Riverdale, as well as the member for Cochrane South who spoke yesterday on this bill. There are just a couple of points that I would like to pick up on and that is the whole question of economic costs versus environmental costs. I think she's put the situation quite correctly, that the economic costs are something most of us think of that can be measured almost immediately and right away. There's an immediate impact.

But I think the environmental costs, when you look at the tremendous cleanups that are necessary, for example, with respect to the abandoned mining situations and with respect to the old dumps that are all over Ontario, in the long run may actually outdo the economic costs to a much greater extent.

The one other point that I would like to very briefly comment on deals with the issue of the tax cut. If it's one fallacy that I know I've tried to sort of bring my mind around over the last three or four months that seems to be perpetuated on an ongoing basis, it is this notion that if we give a tax cut of potentially $5 billion to people, somehow we are not borrowing the money to do that, especially when you take into account that the government's own economic statement of November 27 clearly indicates that the debt situation of approximately $100 billion today will rise to $120 billion by the turn of the century. Your own documents indicate that the situation in Ontario is going to deteriorate by a further $20 billion which just happens to equate with the amount of tax cuts that you want to give to the people of Ontario. It's not right. Do the right thing, forget about the tax cut, let's get our books in order and maybe then we can start taking a look at a tax cut.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I wanted to rise to congratulate my colleague from Riverdale on her presentation with regard to Bill 20. This is a very important piece of legislation and I thought it was very significant, the two aspects in particular that she raised: first, the lack of involvement by the Minister of Environment and Energy and her staff apparently in the preparation of the legislation; and the failure of the government to consult widely on such an important change that has such important ramifications for development in the province and for the protection of the environment.

As a former Minister of Environment and Energy and Minister of Natural Resources, I know this can be a touchy matter, the protection of farm land in the province, and wetlands and areas of important environmental significance, but it is very important.


I'll just speak very briefly in response to my colleague's remarks about wetlands. I know this can be controversial, but we have to recognize that in southern Ontario, depending on whose figures you use, only about 13% to 20% of the original wetlands are left. The reason for that is that there has been agricultural drainage, but there has also been a lot of infilling that has led to urban sprawl and urban development.

Migrating wildfowl must have places to stop over if they're going to continue to make their migrations. Even if those lands are now in private hands, as many of them are, we must recognize that if we are to protect the environment and the ecosystem, those landing and nesting areas must be protected. Without having to take into account clearly the wetlands policy, development may threaten the only 13% of wetlands in southern Ontario that are left.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Just a few comments on the remarks of the member for Riverdale and even more particularly on the remarks that were just made by the former Minister of Environment.

I can tell you that when we were on that side and you were on this side, we had a great deal of difficulty particularly with one of the decisions that you made, specifically on the area of the Flying Toad Co-op on Toronto Islands. Remember that? That was built on wetlands. In fact, you were going to build a dike around this co-op. We, fortunately, have canned that, because it was one of the stupidest moves that you people ever made. But when you people sit there and have the gall to say that we don't care about the environment, it's a lot of gall, because that example was one of all things, quite frankly -- When people try to protect parks, and that's what that whole area is over there as far as I'm concerned. That's for the people of Ontario, the people from Toronto, the people from Metro. But no. You were going to build a co-op on wetlands, and that's what that whole development was. The former Minister of Environment had a lot to do with that, the former Minister of Housing had a lot do with that, but that was your decision.

I must say I get rather annoyed when you people go over there and you start talking about how you are the great protector of the environment --

Mr Gerretsen: No, you are the protector of the environment.

Mr Tilson: -- because you're not the great protector of the environment, and that's why we're changing some of these decisions.

The member says that we are. We believe the decisions that we are making -- it's as if you're saying we want to pave over Ontario. Give us a break. We don't want to do that. We have as many concerns as you do about the environment. But I'm telling you, don't sit over there saying how you were the great protector of the environment when that terrible example that you set up down on the Toronto Islands, which fortunately we have stopped, was the most unbelievable example of terrible plans for the environment.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I too want to compliment the member for Riverdale on her comments within the context of her concern with the environment. I want to say that not only does it involve the Planning Act when we're concerned about the environment, but it goes beyond that.

I hope that this government in its wisdom looks at things like the Gasoline Handling Act, because I can tell you that in Essex South we have a number of examples now where gas station owners are running into a problem where sufficient safeguards were not put in place in the past and property can't be exchanged because of the damage that's been done to the environment to this point.

We should be looking at these kinds of concerns when it does involve the environment, because as the member for Riverdale said, the costs that are being incurred unknowingly now are going to be considerable in the future. What we should do, I think, in many cases, is at least err on the side of being conservative, if I may use that, being careful, so that, as was mentioned by the member for Riverdale, we don't abuse the environment and then have to pay for it to a significant degree in the future.

I encourage the government, please, that one of the things you look at then will be the Gasoline Handling Act and what the lack of controls in it at the present time are doing to the environment, and I think something should be put in place soon so that these costs can be met in the future.

Ms Churley: Too bad the member for Dufferin-Peel is not here, because I wanted to respond to him in particular. I want to thank the members for Kingston and The Islands, Algoma and Essex South. I want to come back to the comments by the member for Dufferin-Peel because I noticed he was very indignant and very upset.

Mr Hastings: He had a right to be.

Ms Churley: There goes the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale again.

I want to remind that member in particular, and all the members of his government who took great joy in that little indignant response to me -- they thought they scored one there -- they didn't, he didn't, because even their own Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was quoted as saying to a meeting that Bill 163, our Planning Act, went too far towards protecting the environment. Your view is that we went too far towards protecting the environment, but the reality is that even your own minister feels that we're protecting the environment more than you guys and he wants to take away some of that protection because he thinks it went too far. That was a ridiculous argument, really ridiculous. We know that you just hate the Toronto Islands community, period, and would like to wipe it out. That's what that was all about and it was a good excuse to do that.

This government had an unprecedented happening when Eva Ligeti, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, wrote a letter to the Speaker of this House chastising them for what they did to the environment, the Environmental Bill of Rights under the omnibus bill. That's just quite incredible. This government doesn't care about the environment. It's very clear throughout all their policies and it's time they realized it and at least spoke the truth.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): It's certainly a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak on the bill today. Unfortunately, the comments and advice that I'm about to provide to the House probably will disappoint the member for St Catharines. None the less, he's asked on a number of occasions, as well as the member for Cochrane South, for some of my political and I guess planning expertise.

I have to say I enjoyed the three weeks of public hearings immensely, and certainly the dialogue between opposition members and the comments that were made by the public. I think it's important, because the member for St Catharines has suggested that some of the expertise of backbenchers hasn't been used to the extent that it perhaps should be.

From that perspective, I can tell the House I thank the Minister of Municipal Affairs for his continuous requests for caucus input into this bill, really from the outset of second reading right through to the preparation and development of the draft provincial policy statements.

In the time that I have, I also want to speak briefly about three key areas. Some of the members have previously spoken to this to some extent. Those are the one-window approach, the whole issue of local autonomy and how local autonomy applies to apartments as a right, and lastly the provincial policy statements. Albeit not a part of Bill 20, there was obviously a great deal of input from the public on the draft policy statements.

The first item, with respect to the one-window approach, I have to admit that I perhaps approach this from the somewhat biased position of a person who takes a keen interest in public administration and someone who doesn't necessarily accept the premise that we're compelled to protect government operations from organizational change, and really this is an issue of organizational change and certainly supports the minister's identification of one lead agency as it applies to planning matters.


I have to admit as well that I'm somewhat mystified by the assumption that the one-window approach should be perceived as a barrier. From my viewpoint it shouldn't be perceived as a deterrent, because I fully suspect and believe honestly that matters of provincial interest expressed by other ministries will continue to be heard by the Minister of Municipal Affairs on a variety of issues.

I think throughout the hearing process -- and I don't want to accuse the opposition members needlessly -- there was the accusation, and we heard it again today, about AMO's involvement and their suggestions that the government simply took whatever AMO provided to us, placed it in this bill and proceeded with it. I thought it was of interest that there was an individual from Grey county here yesterday, and unfortunately she's not here again today, but she was there representing herself, not as a member of a particular group or organization, not as a member of AMO, for that matter, and I think her comments to the committee were very relevant and should be shared with the House. They specifically dealt with the one-window approach. I'm going to paraphrase a little bit of what she said.

She said: "I'm somebody who's been promoting a one-window approach. In my area it's a long-distance call to my neighbour." She elaborates here a little bit: "I have to go to 50 million different agencies to get an opinion. If we can ensure that there's going to be cooperation, I think the one-window approach is appropriate. I've been fighting for that kind of one-window approach now for over six years and I fully support it."

I think the important point here is that this individual has been looking at this idea for over six years, and that's critically important and one reason certainly why I think, and the public understands, why a one-window approach in one lead agency is very important to planning matters.

The second area that I briefly want to touch on, because I know I have other colleagues who wish to speak to the bill as well, is really the issue of local autonomy. I think it's very evident from the government's involvement in this bill and the direction that we're taking that we're fundamentally opposed to a centralized planning system for Ontario, and for that very reason we believe that local municipalities do have the ability to make effective decisions with respect to land use planning matters, and that includes decisions on apartments as of right.

I would have to agree with the member for Riverdale that the discussions with respect to apartments as of right were very divisive. Tenants' associations obviously do not agree with the government. On the other side of the coin, municipalities want that flexibility. From the government's perspective, we're supportive of providing the municipality with that flexibility.

If I might come back to the local planning issue, we heard from time to time a great deal about existing or emerging community-based planning mechanisms that are currently utilized by many municipalities, and really when we hear about this it's an issue of pre-consultation, pre-consultation at the front end of the planning system, something that's currently going on presently. The reality is that this bill doesn't compromise or even prevent municipalities from continuing with these efforts -- I think this is extremely important -- nor does it deter the continued valued input of many community groups that participate in the planning process in a variety of interest areas.

This brings me to another important point, a point which was raised both by the member for St Catharines and the member for Kingston and The Islands, and that's the issue of time frames and the ability of both the municipality and the public to respond to planning applications. I would say the time frames that have been provided in this bill are aggressive but reasonable. The member for Kingston and The Islands also made two points yesterday with respect to time frames, and in fairness to the member, I think he described it at one point as planning time frames as being optics, but more importantly, when he was reflecting on his municipal experience, he suggested it was difficult to get the public interested in certain planning matters, and that's certainly an observation that I agree with.

I think in large part this is the problem that we're facing. We must ensure -- and we also are assuming that there is a public interest in the planning system -- that whatever system government develops, it's understandable and accessible to the public.

In part that brings me to my last point this afternoon. Certainly, there were some comments earlier about the lack of consultation, and I'm pleased that the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is here, because, in fairness to some of the criticisms expressed by the member for Riverdale, the minister himself last fall, and albeit directly related to his ministry and portfolio, had been out meeting with groups across the province in several cities addressing a variety of issues. Some of those issues even include governance, planning issues and preferred planning models.

Just because the Minister of Municipal Affairs is not addressing the groups that the member for Riverdale would like to see, she should not indicate to the House that other ministries aren't performing consultation that is consistent with the development of this particular bill. I think that's very important to realize, that this consultation is occurring and ongoing.

The last area I want to speak about is with respect to the provincial policy statement. Although it's not a part of the bill, I think it's important to address because it does have a particular application, a relevant application, to the "have regard to" and "shall be consistent with" test, and certainly that was a part of this bill.

We heard from a variety of organizations on this issue. I think one of the statements made by the Canadian Bar Association has a particular application. Admittedly, there's a variety of perspectives on this issue. The CBA stated, "We believe that the amendment, the reinstatement of the `have regard to' test, should significantly reduce the costs and delays that would have been created in the planning process if one retained the `shall be consistent with' test."

As I mentioned earlier, there are obviously many different comments and statements made on the particular draft policy statements, and admittedly they varied. But I do want to make one point which I think is important. It's important to realize that draft statements have been out since January for consultation. The parliamentary assistant suggested yesterday and alluded to the fact that we received over 200 submissions with respect to opportunities to improve that provincial policy statement. Most importantly, the statements that will accompany this bill represent a minimum standard only. I think that's important, because nothing prevents municipalities across this province from exceeding that minimum standard, and many of them already do. I think that's very important to realize.

As I reflect on this particular issue, I can only think of the planning process that's used by the city of London, and yes, I recognize it's a major urban centre. But the city of London is currently in the process of deliberating whether to keep certain environmental planning groups or not. This is a municipality which has a very active environmental component in its planning system, a component that's involved at the front end of the system and not after the fact. So I think that minimum standard will be exceeded, because it's in the public interest and the interests of the development community to respond to environmental interests across the province.

One of the other perhaps obvious concerns expressed by the public, and perhaps why the policy statements that were devised under Bill 163 have failed from a public scrutiny perspective in some regard, is the associated guideline documents. We heard one delegation describe those documents as a good doorstopper. John Sewell himself, when reflecting on the implementation guidelines, described them as "crazy" and "not useful" documents.

If we're truly interested in identifying provincial interests and policy directions which are understandable to the public, we cannot afford to have these items described as doorstoppers or as not useful or crazy, because when we do, we have failed. But most importantly, we discourage public interest in the planning process. This is why this government has committed itself to making changes to the planning system that make it simpler and easier to work within.

Certainly, from that perspective, I highly support the minister's review of the provincial policy statements and trust that the final product, which has been based on nearly two months of consultation, will clearly articulate what the provincial interests are and rid itself of a very highly process-oriented framework which is currently in place under Bill 163.

I would have to say in conclusion that in the short time I've had I've really only had the opportunity to address a few of perhaps many issues, including many technical issues that the committee heard, but I think there are some very positive issues here, one being some positive changes to the administration of our own government operations with the identification of the one-window approach, a streamlined planning system that clarifies provincial rules, and equally important, places more responsibility at the local level, and changes which I believe in the longer term will improve the government's internal operations and locally develop a planning system which I believe will place a greater priority on community-based planning decisions.


The member for Riverdale, in conclusion, suggested that in her conversations with the representative from the Urban Development Institute, the institute was looking for certainty. I think certainty is exactly what we hope to achieve and want to achieve with this particular bill in terms of the long-term health of our communities and economic opportunities for those communities in the future.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Gerretsen: I'd just like to make some brief comments with respect to the views from the member for Middlesex. It's unfortunate that during the committee hearings he didn't share some of his expertise with us, because I realize that he does know something about the planning process.

It's also unfortunate that the consultation process that took place with respect to the procedural act is not taking place with respect to the provincial policy statements. I think they should have been vetted in exactly the same way as the act has been by a standing committee of this House, because it's the policy statements that ultimately determine what happens with respect to planning in the province of Ontario.

One other comment, very quickly, deals with this whole notion of a one-window approach. Everyone is in favour, as far as I can determine, with respect to a one-window approach. The problem is that whereas right now we know exactly where a ministry stands with respect to any appeals it may launch to the OMB, and we know exactly which ministry is in favour of or against a particular development and the reasons for that, under the system that's proposed, unless you have the protocols in place as to how it will work, how the views of different ministries will be taken into account by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, the planning system will not be, as you have stated, understandable and accessible to the public.

We will develop a system where in effect the views of some ministries may very well be finessed. We may never hear the reason as to the internal kind of debate that will take place as to why a particular development should or should not be opposed or appealed to the OMB. Until those protocols are in place, I will tell you that the general public will not really understand what's happening internally within the ministries. That's really unfortunate, and that's where this whole notion of a one-window approach may fall down.

The planning system has to be understandable and accessible to the public, and that includes the knowledge about the methodology that's being used in order for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to come up with a particular position in the matter.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm delighted to have an opportunity to comment on the comments of my friend and neighbour from the county of Middlesex. I would say that he does have some expertise in this and that I'm very interested that he uses the city of London as an example, because my friend knows very well that when the city of London annexed a very large portion of Middlesex county, it was done by special legislation, and under that special legislation there were requirements made around the building of an official plan for January 1996. Among those requirements were that the city do the process that he has described in such glowing terms: making a social plan and making an environmental plan as well as an economic plan as part of that official plan process.

He's right. That's the way it should be done, and that was the vision of the Sewell commission and one of the reasons that was written into that particular special legislation. But what he regrettably did not say was that by January 1996, the legislated deadline, we were already seeing in London and Middlesex great pressure from developers to weaken the environmental provisions that were there in that special legislation, threats that they would take the official plan to the OMB if those original requirements were followed, and a great deal of pressure around that. Of course, the city of London, as had been its practice prior to the special legislation, appears to be yielding to the pressure of those developers and appears to be waiting for this government to pass this more permissive legislation in order to escape the provisions that they had in that special legislation.

The people who lose most are the people in the annexed portion of the county of Middlesex whom this member represents, and he knows very well that his remarks will be controversial with his constituents.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I rise today to show a little respect for our member for Middlesex, who indeed displayed a great deal of professional insight and participated in the Bill 20 public hearings, in which I participated a couple of times and was able to learn from that. As a previously elected local politician, I can only speak to the issue as I remember hearing Bill 163 and the Sewell commission unfold in Ontario. It was an attempt to centralize planning, and in my view it was state-run control, as in many of the other issues and policies the party at that time was trying to do in all things in legislation.

Bill 20 goes a long way towards recognizing that indeed responsible local decision-making is what the people of Ontario want. They want community-based decision-making, and certainly in planning they will make responsible decisions consistent and in conformity with the needs of the community. I know for sure, coming from Durham East, that a lot of people work very hard voluntarily in a supportive role of putting environment first. I know as their representative that certainly environment will be espoused and recognized, and I know that the municipally elected people will also ensure that the environment is not neglected in the planning process.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Yorkview.

Interjection: Rexdale still has 27 seconds.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I didn't know that was my time, Mr Speaker.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Mario, you've got two minutes.

Mr Sergio: Oh, I've got two minutes? Okay. Since I have an extra couple of minutes, I wish to add to the comments made by the previous member, so this won't take away from my speaking time. This is a very important piece of legislation to which I'd like to add my comments. I have to say that I enjoyed the comments expressed by the member for Riverdale on the environmental issues. I share most of those concerns. I also appreciate the concern expressed by Mr Smith, the member for Middlesex. He has shown that he has knowledge of planning matters, and he even recognized some of the difficulties this legislation, as presented, presents to the Legislature. I would hope, in the days to come, if we have days -- perhaps hours -- to deal with this particular legislation, we may have some changes so they can be aired and some of his own concerns can be addressed as well.

In answer to the member for Durham East, yes indeed, we all like to see the possibility of having the planning process streamlined and made easier. Unfortunately, this is one of the concerns, that it's incorporated within this bill, and it looks like it may be approved without taking those into consideration. I hope to say more about that during my speaking time.

Ms Churley: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to ask for unanimous consent to allow the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale to have two minutes. He really wanted to speak and we'd like to hear from him.

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed? It's agreed.


Mr Hastings: There are only two major points I wanted to make with regard to some of the comments made about this government's environmental record. One was -- I find it very curious -- that the honourable member for Riverdale said this government does not care about the environment. I think the proof of the bill shows a more balanced sensitivity and flexibility in this piece of legislation than in the Sewell-like model we had before. It brings it back into focus.

The other thing that a lot of my colleagues, even members of our own caucus, would have some question about is that none of these colleagues on this side has any concern about the environment in terms of direct action. If you surveyed every member of this Conservative caucus, every member of the NDP caucus, every member of the Liberal caucus, I'm sure at one point or another in their careers before coming to this House or even while they're here, they have been involved in environmental partnerships. They have probably helped in tree planting, they have probably been involved in community-based groups. So I take great umbrage with the member for Riverdale saying that members on this side particularly have no interest in preserving the environment.

From her own government's record, I can recall not only the debacle on Toronto Islands but one in terms of Humber College and trying to preserve the old Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. Her government was going to end up bringing about a complete disaster and collapse of environmental integrity in terms of the sensitive features along the west bank of the Humber River. I couldn't believe she would stand there and say we have no concern about the environment.

Mr Smith: I just have a couple of quick comments. I thought my colleague from Kingston and The Islands was supportive, all through the hearings, of the one-window approach, and I think he's reiterated that today, subject to having the established protocols in place. I think that's an important first step in terms of realigning ministry operations, and developing a system whereby people understand who will be the lead agency with respect to planning matters in the province.

I have to resist a little bit entering debate with my friend from London Centre, because she provided some comments in the context of environmental concerns. I always have a little difficulty grasping that, particularly as it applies to the annexation in London. I don't want to belabour this because this House has had this debate, but I find it difficult that she, as a member of the former government who agreed to the annexation of 26,000 hectares of land from the county of Middlesex -- and I'm sure the member for St Catharines would be interested to know that nearly 90% of that land is prime agricultural land. Yes, there was demand for development in the area, but I have some difficulty justifying those environmental concerns in terms of the long-term impact on agriculture and the rural community that's as important as the city of London surrounding in the county of Middlesex.

Those are very important considerations that the member forgets about.

Mr Wildman: Weren't you working for the city of London during the annexation?

Mr Smith: Yes, I do represent a portion of the city of London and the county of Middlesex, and that's where this particular solution fell apart.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Sergio: As I was saying, I'd like to add my comments on this particular legislation, as it is of great importance. Let me pick up on where the member for Riverdale left off with respect to the environment. I won't dwell on that because I think she spent a considerable time, as did my colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands yesterday, and spoken quite eloquently on the matter.

But let me say that a couple of years ago, or perhaps more than that, when the Sewell report was being conducted with Mr Penfold, at that time, I was a member of North York city council. We did say at the time that his views were not acceptable to the local municipality, and I'm speaking at the present time on behalf of the municipality of which I've been a member for a number of years.

Of course, he was trying to force upon the local municipalities his own views as to what recommendation at the end would he be making to his own government he was appointed from. It's sad to say that at the end, at the conclusion of that particular report, even Mr Sewell was criticizing to some extent his own completed report.

But having said that, we now have amendments, we have new proposed legislation here which unfortunately does nothing more than add some more window dressing. Having said that, I think with the passage of this legislation, the only thing the government of the day will have on their record is that they have made some changes, some amendments to the legislation, and nothing more.

If we are speaking on behalf of giving more powers, more flexibility, more autonomy to the various local municipalities, it's one matter. If we are speaking in terms of streamlining the process, making it easier to be understood, cutting perhaps the time for approval and support, I'm afraid they are not going to do it with this particular piece of legislation.

Inasmuch as I think it's in the interests of everyone, especially of the local municipality, to see that applications are dealt with in a very efficient manner, the way the legislation is being proposed, this will not be accomplished. If there is one thing that this legislation will do -- and I'm speaking from some experience, having been a number of years on municipal council -- it will produce nothing but more bad development, and this is the last thing the local municipalities want. Perhaps it will add some benefits to small municipalities in rural Ontario, but it will not -- absolutely will not -- improve the situation, the planning process, especially within big cities such as Metropolitan Toronto.

While we have seen the conclusion of the Sewell report, what we have here now is another one that does very little to improve the process. Both from a provincial point of view and from a local point of view, assisting local communities and local residents, it does absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, it's taking away from the involvement of ratepayers and individuals. I'll tell you, with the exception of some lawyers on the other side of the House here, on the government side, who may have had experience in dealing in municipal politics or cases or applications, rezoning, whatever have you, they can tell you that this will not improve the situation at all, and I'll tell you why.

This is in the government's own document. This is what the minister said when he presented the bill with the amendments: "We will scrap parts of Bill 163 that don't work and bring in a planning system that's faster and less bureaucratic, that people can understand...a planning system that delivers an answer more quickly." So far, so good. The problem is with the rest.

He says: "The system will be guided by provincial policies which will be clear and concise and deal with issues that should be under the jurisdiction of the province. The policies will focus on the desired results rather than on the process by which those results are achieved."

That's the problem. No longer are we transferring autonomy, power, jurisdiction, flexibility to the local municipality. We are saying to the local municipality: "You don't have to any more. It's only a guide, it's only a policy, and if you don't want to, you don't have to do it."

The requirement, which is one of the major amendments to the legislation as it is presented, that the planning decision "be consistent with" provincial policy statements is deleted and replaced with the former requirement that they "have regard to" provincial policies. How can we say on the one hand that this government criticizes and wants to change the former policies of the previous government, which means the Sewell report, and now they are saying, "We are going to delete that -- our own -- and replace it with the former one," when the former one didn't work?

Practically, we are saying to the local municipalities now, "You don't have to abide by the provincial policies, just `have regard to'." Mr Speaker, if you are familiar with municipal politics, this does not work. It only works when a municipality understands the various intricacies of the planning process, wants to streamline its own workings and make sure that it has everything in place, such as documentation from the various applicants, and can cut the inside red tape.


I can say that because I have experience with one particular local municipality where a rezoning application won't take any more than six months, not 13 months as it is said within the document that is presented by the Minister of Housing; not 13 months but six months. So it can be done.

I will not dwell on other parts of the bill and I will concentrate and make some remarks strictly with respect to the planning process as it affects the local municipality.

One major fault that I see with this particular bill here, that now it's required the local municipality to give 20 days' notice or not to have a hearing prior to 20 days and to notify those people present, if they want to be heard either verbally or in writing, that if they wish to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, they won't be able to unless, during that particular time, they have made a submission either in writing or orally.

On behalf of the public out there, I find this quite unacceptable. There are many occasions where an application may change following that particular presentation, or that a ratepayers' organization may be out of town or may not have received the notice about a public hearing and may want to appeal a particular condition of that agreement or what have you after the fact, and those people are disenfranchised. I think that is a fault of the legislation as it is being presented. Twenty days is not a heck of a lot to give notice. It doesn't even say in the legislation, as it is presented, that they have to be 20 working days. It says 20 days.

If a local ratepayers' organization wants to organize itself, make a good presentation, they may have to hire at certain times, depending on the nature of an application, either a lawyer or planner or consultant so they can prepare their case. So 20 days, it's not a heck of a lot. So this will be working not in favour of the local municipality, not in favour of a particular developer; it will be working totally against the local people who may be affected by those changes. When we are talking zoning changes, rezoning applications, the Planning Act as a whole, if you will, there is nothing else that is more important either to the local municipality or the people within a particular community itself. That is the thing that most local councils hate, that is the thing that most residents and local organizations get involved with and I think we should be giving them the greatest opportunity that we can.

Let me touch briefly with respect to how the proposed legislation would affect Metropolitan Toronto. Let me say that unless the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the government deal with the situation here in Metro, the situation cannot work. I'll tell you why. There is nothing in this particular document here which addresses the planning process within Metropolitan Toronto. There is absolutely nothing.

There is an area where the Metro government has control of the planning process on major arterial roads within 100 feet. So I'm going to have to tell you, Mr Speaker, what this does to the planning process within Metropolitan Toronto. As I've said before, the legislation as it is presented may be more flexible, may facilitate the planning process out of the Metro area in the smaller municipalities in the north and others, but within Metro this will not work. For that, you may hear from some of the Metro members, who I'm sure will tell you the same thing, as a matter of fact. The member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, who used to be the president of UDI, has been very constantly sending out monthly newsletters attacking the present situation with the Planning Act; and knowing how he was writing those monthly letters, the changes in the proposed Bill 20 does not change much of those views.

Let me address for a moment one of the important and most critical aspect of the Planning Act as it affects local municipalities with respect to second units. This has been the big bone of contention with the local municipalities, and just to give you an idea, I'll read the answer from AMO, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which is well in unison with various municipalities. I don't have to tell you that the city of London had, I believe, taken the province to court, the former government, with respect to the laws on basement apartments.

This is what the views of AMO were: "Instead of a blanket legislation, municipalities have been calling for the authority and powers to deal with regulatory and enforcement problems related to accessory units, for example, the authority to license and register units, greater power of entry to inspect units, increased fines for offences and speedier court system and procedure to enforce work orders, improved ability to collect fines, and changes to the assessment of accessory units in a manner which better represents the additional cost of residential units."

This is an area that is causing problems to various local municipalities, I can tell you, and I would support the city of North York point of view with respect to that. I can say that unless the legislation has some teeth, many areas want absolutely nothing to do with second units. It's not my view, because I did support that. We've been saying, including our mayor of the city of North York, that we've got to have some controls in order to have second units, if you will, or second-floor or basement apartment or whatever. Unless we have those controls, we will not have safe neighbourhoods, quiet, clean, efficient and comfortable units where the safety of those occupants can be more or less satisfied or guaranteed.

This has been a big problem, and it continues to be. And why is that now? Because the legislation, as it is, does not impose local municipalities to provide second units. It is totally at their liberty. "Yes," they may say, "We will allow basement units or second units," or whatever. But laws, conditions, rules may be so stringent that many communities won't be able to accede to those particular conditions, let alone the other aspects, because when you deal with an established community and now that particular community is being -- this is part of increasing the density, if you will, to provide more affordable units, and yes, there is some consensus on that.

The fact is that when you deal with an increased density in single-family residential areas and you move into an established community, where that community has spent God knows how many years to buy a low semi-detached or a small two-bedroom bungalow and so forth, and now many of those neighbourhoods are being destroyed because of lack of authority from the local municipality, because there is no control, no control on parking, no control on regulation, absolutely nothing at all. I would hope that local municipalities will be able to say: "Yes, we will do that. We will have some controls, we will have registries, we will have a licence." They may impose some assessment, if you will, to maintain the extra burden the increased density may bring on local services, and that they will accept that.


I won't continue too long because I know some other colleagues may want to address this matter. But this may be a case where the NIMBY situation can be more vocal in a lot of neighbourhoods where a community feels threatened by a local municipality that may push more higher densities in their own area.

I'm going to quit here because I know a couple of other members have indicated if they can have a few minutes. I hope this legislation can be improved. We know we have made a number of amendments, good amendments, that the government has refused to support and I'm afraid, given the number of concerns which we have expressed, both in the House and at the committee level, that it will be very difficult to support the legislation as it is being presented.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions?

Ms Churley: I appreciate the comments from Yorkview. I know that not every situation with this bill the Liberals and NDP feel the same about, but I just wanted to talk about basement apartments for a moment. I'm not quite sure if I understood the position the member for Yorkview is taking, and perhaps he could clarify it if he thinks it's appropriate in his summing up in two minutes.

I just wanted to tell you why the NDP government moved on the legalization of basement apartments. I'm sure many people here heard about some of the tragic fires where people died over the past several years in illegal basement apartments, and what we found is that, unfortunately, people, through the need for the income and people needing to rent very low-rent accommodation, were living in illegal basement apartments under very unsafe conditions. What we found -- I don't have the numbers in front of me -- that there are thousands and thousands of those apartments out there. How many?

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): It's 100,000.

Ms Churley: It's 100,000, and they were there. I'm not saying I'm condoning breaking the law, like the Premier once said that it's natural for people to try to evade taxes. I don't condone that, but the reality is, due to all kinds of strains and stresses out there, people needing money etc, people were in fact creating these illegal apartments and municipalities had no control. People living in very unsafe conditions were terrified to report it, because then they'd lose their accommodation completely. Then there were some municipalities who just wanted to keep poor people and people from other ethnic groups out. We knew all of that was happening, but we felt that it was important to address a really serious situation that we'll just revert back to now. That's what will happen.

Mr Michael Brown: I appreciated the views of the member for Yorkview who brought an urban perspective to this particular debate. I had the opportunity, and the dubious distinction perhaps, of chairing the committee hearings under the former government with regard to basement apartments or secondary units or whatever was the buzzword of the day.

One of the things I find is that in my part of the province, this is not an issue to speak of, but certainly the member for Yorkview brings the urban perspective to this. One of the things that I find a little bit difficult to quite comprehend was that the member for Mississauga South, for example, at those hearings under the previous government was very concerned about fire regulations. She was very concerned that these units were not going to be identified properly, in other words, we didn't know or a municipality didn't know where they were, and therefore they couldn't be inspected, and she was calling for fire inspections before they could be registered as units. She was quite adamant that there be proper building inspections, proper fire inspections. I remember very compelling testimony from the fire chief from Mississauga on this very issue.

The government knows we have a problem out there. There is a problem. There's an accommodation problem and there's a problem with people being able to have safe, affordable units that are appropriate to their neighbourhood. I appreciate my good friend the member for Yorkview bringing these issues to the fore, and I'm a little perplexed by why the government is failing to address these issues in a meaningful way.

Mr O'Toole: With respect to the member for Parkdale's comments, there were two things. The streamlining comments that were made, I suspect that if you really are clearly listening, some of the time lines and the prescribed days in our changes were indeed intended to streamline the process and focus the decision-making for the advantage of the applicant who may be a developer, but also for the individual home owner who may be waiting for that small minor variation or whatever the change in the planning system is.

The same could be said for the language of "having regard to." I think planning is not an exact science. There are planners at OMB where I've heard both professional planners arguing the same point from a purely opposite point of view, so to suggest that planning is an exact science is misleading.

So in "have regard to" and sound planning principles, those professional people, trained, would make decisions that were consistent and in harmony with their community and indeed with the provincial policy guidelines. I think it's important to recognize that both of those things, to the member for Parkdale, do really focus on the streamlining process. That's what this government is about: removing the barriers to growth. I know the development community as well as the small developers in the small community I live in think this was a very progressive thing to do, and the public meeting process, we did make those small changes in the amendments, so in plans of subdivisions I believe we allowed the public process to continue as well.

Thank you for the opportunity to make the comments.

Mr Gerretsen: I would just very briefly like to address this whole notion of local autonomy. It's almost as if this is something new that was invented by this government. I've heard provincial governments of whatever stripe say for the last 25 years, whenever they want to get rid of something, "We want to give the local communities greater autonomy and we want to make them equal partners." Of course, there's no such thing as an equal partnership, let's face it, and there will never be an equal partnership unless we reach the stage whereby basically we elevate municipal government to the same level as that of a provincial and federal government. Only then will you have an equal partnership.

It always reminds me of the great debate that took place during the Peterson years. I was heavily involved with AMO at that time. We had a board of directors of something like 88 members, and AMO always said: "Give us more autonomy. We want more authority. We want it." Do you remember what the Peterson people did? They said, "Yes, here's the Sunday shopping issue." My whole board of directors at the time, except for two other members and me, 85 of them said: "Oh gosh, we don't want that one. That's a political hot potato."

It was the perfect kind of issue that should have been decided at the local level. Sunday shopping may be a good thing for Sault Ste Marie, for Niagara Falls, for downtown Toronto, but it may not be something that is good for Kingston or Ottawa or someplace else. That's where the real local autonomy should be.

Don't give me this nonsense that you're the first government that's going to do something for local autonomy. That's been around ever since, I suppose, the province created municipalities some 150 years ago. The proof is in the pudding, and I'll tell you, as long as you control the provincial policy statements, you will always have the final say about what kind of development takes place at the local level, and don't ever kid yourself that until you do something about the provincial -- if you really want to give them local autonomy, scrap all provincial policy statements.



The Deputy Speaker: Please take --

Mr Gerretsen: I'm prepared to go on for another half-hour.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Yorkview.

Mr Sergio: Perhaps the member for Kingston and The Islands may have his wish after I have my couple of minutes. I just want to appease the concern of the member for Riverdale with respect to what I said before and with respect to the second unit.

I think the safety of the people occupying those units, that was our major concern, and indeed it may not be a problem in the small municipalities out of Metro, but it's a big problem within Metro and especially in certain areas within Metro. There are streets where practically every other house has either a second unit on the second floor or a basement apartment with no regard with respect to fire safety, smoke detectors, second kitchen, second bathroom, emergency exit and stuff like that. I don't have to tell you that there are a number of people who unfortunately did suffer tragic consequences because of those inadequacies and especially when it comes to the building code.

We did say we want some controls. We want to make sure that you have some plans, you can get a building permit. You pay your own fees, and they can be inspected on a regular basis. Those were our concerns. I think most people would support the building of second units to get some income, providing that there are some conditions attached. I continue to support that. We always said that, especially in times of lack of affordable housing, we have to do our share, and we did, but of course we like to have some controls. This continues to be our view. So I hope that this will appease the member for Riverdale.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Christopherson: I appreciate the opportunity to join in the debate on Bill 20, and I think that for anyone who takes the time to look at exactly what Bill 20 means to communities, and particularly how it fits in the overall agenda of this government, it becomes pretty clear that this is an integral part of the Mike Harris vision of what Ontario should become and I believe that's why we're seeing it so early in the mandate and I believe that's why we're seeing it rushed through relative to the amount of time that we took when we brought in Bill 163.

The components of this new vision, yes, include and perhaps are focused on job creation. I have no doubt that's the intent. I as one member, and particularly as the labour critic and someone from Hamilton, am very concerned about what kind of jobs. Let's look at the rest of the agenda that goes with these Planning Act amendments.

We've seen Bill 7. Bill 7 basically lays the groundwork for busting unions in Ontario. The strike that we now have with OPSEU across Ontario is in large part a symbol that this government is offering up to those who want -- and I don't believe they all do, but for those employers that do want to eliminate or certainly weaken the labour movement, this is the message that says to them: "Go for it. This is the green light. We're showing you how it's done. We've taken away the rights; we've weakened down the labour movement in Bill 7, and so a part of this vision is going after the labour movement. Here's how you do it. We're doing it. You, please, go ahead and do the same thing."

That's part of what this is about, that if you can weaken the labour movement as well as having the political side benefit of reducing the ability of one of the most effective counterpoints and counterideas to this government, they become much weaker, because the labour movement of course is leading the protests in London, the 100,000 people who peacefully demonstrated in my community of Hamilton and will go on to do so in Kitchener-Waterloo and other communities over the next few years. So a political benefit is: Weaken those organizations that are most able to muster appropriate response and quite frankly fight back to what this government is all about. So there's a political side benefit.

But back to the economics of it and Bill 20, the purpose of busting unions and watering them down and weakening unions is to allow wages to drop significantly in this province. That's part of this government's agenda, because they believe that in terms of the new global economy, the only competitiveness that matters is looking at developing nations and Third World nations and saying: "There's where we will compete. We will compete with Mexico, and we will compete with other developing nations in the Asia-Pacific corner of the world. We will look to the benefits and wages that people in Ontario now get, and we'll cut that so that we can go out and compete."

Of course, we know that while that may be a winner for some businesses, and if you look at some of the profits you'd have to believe that some of the things happening are definitely a benefit to some corporations, the working people of this province lose big time. What we ought to be doing, and it was our approach, is investing in the strengths that we have in this province. Part of that is environmental protection, which I'm going to comment on later, which is significantly weakened under Bill 20.

Rather than attacking those environmental protections, we ought to build on them, because that makes for a better quality of life. That's a strength where we can compete with anybody in the world. The United Nations twice now has said that Canada -- and when you say Canada, in large part you're talking about the largest province in our Confederation -- was chosen as the best place in the world to live, not because we had the weakest environmental laws, not because we had the lowest minimum wage, not because we had the weakest health and safety standards, not because we had the weakest planning laws and procedures, but quite frankly the opposite: because we have strong environmental protection, because we have, until you're finished with it, a strong, effective health care system and education system and infrastructure.

Infrastructure means roads, it means sewers, it means all the things that make us competitive. Then when you add new technology, which we are a leading nation in, the application of new technology, particularly in applications in the manufacturing sector, now we can start to compete against the best in the world, and not only do the corporations do well, which they should -- we need to have them strong, but not at the expense of the standard of living of the ordinary working person in this province.

So the corporations win, the average working person wins because they've got a strong union that fights to make sure they get their fair share of the profits that are being generated, and we go on to have our children trained and schooled in the best education system. We have a health system that's the envy of the world, until you're finished dismantling it, but we certainly have that to start with. Those are all wins for all of us. But, yes, it requires an investment in those areas.

While one needs to be dealing with the debt and deficit, there's absolutely no need to do it as quickly as this government is doing, not at the expense of all those things I've just mentioned that make this a great place to live, that give us that high quality of living, not to even mention the absolute absurdity and obscenity of seeing this government slash and cut our education system and health care system and infrastructure. All the things that are our strength you are slashing even deeper and quicker than needs to be so you can give your wealthy friends a 30% income tax cut. That's the way the average working person sees your agenda.

I look at the Tory backbenchers and I see them rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. That's fine. You just keep on ignoring the viewpoint of the majority of Ontarians, and we'll see what that does in the next election. If there are any by-elections along the way, that will certainly start to tell the tale too.

I'm suggesting that Bill 20 is an important part, for this government, of their belief that we have to dismantle all the things that make this a really great place to live, because that's their vision of how we compete. We reject that, and I believe the majority of Ontarians will reject that.


Moving to the specifics of this bill, I want to talk first of all about the time frame used, again, in putting this forward. We've already seen very clearly what this government thinks of democracy. If any one of the Tory backbenchers wants to suggest that's just rhetoric, you keep in mind the omnibus Bill 26 and what happened. Let me tell you very clearly there are millions of Ontarians who understood what you were trying to do and why we did what we did in terms of literally seizing this Legislature to force you -- force you -- to allow at least some public consideration of what is clearly the biggest power grab bill in the history of Ontario.

As labour critic I can also point to Bill 7, because Bill 7 came even earlier than Bill 26, and there you didn't just amend the Ontario Labour Relations Act; you completely replaced it. You introduced it on October 4, it was law by October 31 -- Halloween, I might point out -- which I think is quite apropos, because on that day the mask came off and we truly saw what this government thinks about democracy.

When they completely replaced the Ontario Labour Relations Act and did it in that land-speed record time of 27, 28 days, they did not allow one minute of public hearing, not one minute, and then they wonder why there are tens of thousands of workers on the picket line right now and they wonder why we continue to say to them that that clash out front on Monday with the police and the picketers was a part of Bill 7, and that further violence is all but guaranteed, given what you've done to working people and the position you've put them in, and just the absolute disgrace of allowing and making legal the use of scabs again in this province when we finally had put that practice behind us. You know that working people have a right to fight that kind of anti-democratic process.

I see that the Honourable Cam Jackson, who's the minister responsible for gutting the WCB, is present today. We talk about public process again, wide-open process, the Royal Commission on Workers' Compensation -- the government grabbed that, went into their hole, no more public hearings. All these meetings he's been talking about by having planted questions from some of his backbenchers are merely meetings he had to go to because injured workers organized them. They're not his meetings. He wouldn't hold public meetings; he wouldn't hold public meetings on these WCB consultations; he didn't hold public meetings because he will face what I saw in his own home community of Burlington, where literally hundreds of injured workers ripped strips off his back because they saw the agenda of this government.

What do we have with Bill 20? Our Bill 163 took four years -- four years public process, public consultation -- and then at the end of the day we passed the law. Here we are, nine months into this government's mandate; that's the maximum they could have spent on this. They've only been in power that long. Who did they consult with to put this together? Who did they meet with? It certainly wasn't done in public. The law was dropped into this Legislature. They met with their friends; they met with their supporters; they met with the interest groups they want to satisfy. They never call their cronies interest groups, just those who are oppose to them.

They bring this in, having talked to virtually their friends and cronies in private, bring this forward, drop it down and then they wonder why we constantly raise the issue of this government being anti-democratic. The evidence is there, the proof is there and it mounts with every action this government takes. Every step shows clearly what this government is about and what it thinks of democracy in this province.

I next want to move to what I consider to be one of the most critical aspects of what this bill does to planning in the province of Ontario. It's an issue that I have a great deal of interest in because I spent five years on the city and regional councils of Hamilton and Hamilton-Wentworth and I spent all of that time on the city planning committee. So I have not just an interest but experience in this area and I'm really concerned about this issue of moving from a law that says you have to be "consistent with" the environmental protection policies of the government, as opposed to "have regard to."

Unfortunately, for most people this is when they understandably start to glaze over, because what does all this mean? They're debating words and technicalities, but here are some very significant words and technicalities that'll have a long-range impact not just on our generation and our children and grandchildren, but beyond, because we're talking about land use.

When you talk about land use in the context of planning, in many cases you're talking about a one-shot decision. You get one shot at making the right decision that'll give you the balance between development and the environment, and if you call it wrong, you can in many cases destroy that environment, destroy that ecosystem and perhaps never, ever again get it back.

If anyone questions the validity of that kind of philosophical approach to land use and planning, take a look at the number of species that are disappearing every year from the planet. We all have responsibility for that. It's probably the one thing I can't lay at the feet of this government, at least not yet. But give me time.

But truly, that does point to the fact that as a human race occupying this planet, we're overall doing a lot of damage. That may sound rather large given the context of this issue, but that's how I feel about it because when it comes down to making the nitty-gritty decisions about when an ecosystem survives and when it doesn't, it comes down to the laws that surround and dictate the planning process and land use. You can't separate them.

"Consistent with" and "have regard to" -- I would say to any Ontarian listening that you don't have to be a lawyer to understand that if you have to be consistent with a policy that is meant to protect the environment, that's a much stronger requirement on your part than "have regard to." "Have regard to" could be as little as -- one description from someone who came to one of the committee hearings was driving down the highway and having regard to a speed sign, meaning just glance at it and then continue to speed over the limit. I believe it can be as little as that. We had some people come out and offer legal evidence that the OMB has said no, it's stronger than that, but I think there's a lot more evidence that says, in addition to common sense, I might add, "consistent with" is a lot more protection for the environment than "have regard to."

I think it's also interesting to point out that for those who came before the committee hearings I was at -- when I asked them, "If you believe that `have regard to' is strong enough, then what policy is it that you believe you will be having regard to and why do you believe that will be strong enough?" I can't think of a case where there was an adequate response, in my opinion, because the answer is that policy work is not completed.

Again, use common sense. Anyone who says "have regard to" is strong enough, to me is trying to pull a fast one because the thing that you're supposed to have regard to isn't yet in place, it's not finalized, you don't know what that's going to be. So how can you possibly argue that's strong enough protection to legitimize doing away with "consistent with?" It's absolute nonsense. The whole idea is to make development happen as quickly as possible because they want to generate jobs. But they don't care if they're decent-paying jobs, they don't care if there are unions representing the workers who have those jobs, they don't care about making sure there are decent benefits for those jobs and they don't care about what it does to the environment. As long as it generates those jobs, that's all that matters.


I suggest to the government that while jobs are important, two things: first of all, there are other ways to create jobs and secondly, jobs at any price is not a winning formula for the average working person. Fine if you're very wealthy and you can travel to any part in the world or buy your own piece of the north where you have your own escape, but for the rest of the population, where they live in their neighbourhoods and their immediate environs, that's it. That's where their kids are, that's where they are and it's their neighbourhood.

This government is saying those sorts of things don't matter as long as we can ram through development projects, create those jobs and we can stand up and rattle off the statistics and the rest of it doesn't matter. I suggest to you, with a great deal of respect for the responsibility that any elected government has, that's a total abdication of what the people of Ontario thought they were electing on June 8 when they bought into the Common Sense Revolution.

In the final remaining moments I want to spend some time talking about the fact that the Tory policy statements, in the draft form that they are, will clearly reduce the protection for wetlands in the province of Ontario. Again, for some people that sounds like somebody who's off on an environmental bent and it's one of those little things they get themselves all worked up in a lather over and it really maybe isn't that important.

The fact of the matter is that how we deal with wetlands in this province is very much related to our ability to have the ecosystems that I talked about earlier survive -- critically important. In fact, in Hamilton -- this was on February 26, where we were holding committee hearings in my riding, Hamilton Centre, Mr Al Stacey who is the chair of the Hamilton Region Conservation Authority which -- by the way, conservation authorities are being slashed in the funding by 70% over two years by this government, the same government that contains backbenchers who want to pop up and profess their great concern for the environment.

This is the chair of the conservation authority in my community and here's what he said about wetlands, and I quote from Hansard:

"...wetlands are a cheap flood insurance. They're much cheaper than capital projects such as dams or any other man-made structures to control flooding. And certainly as a cost-effective means of securing the security of life and property in this province, on that basis alone, let alone for the protection of flora and fauna, I would argue: Don't allow wetlands to continue to be degraded. We have very few wetlands left in terms of predevelopment, particularly along the Lake Ontario shoreline itself. So certainly from an economic cost-benefit point of view, they're cheap flood protection. Fill in more wetlands, push the development into the floodplains, you're going to have more flooding and you're going to have much higher risk to both life and property."

That's the chair of the Hamilton Region Conservation Authority speaking to the importance of wetlands and this government is promoting and planning to put in place a policy that reduces our ability to protect those valuable wetlands.

Why? Well, it gets in the way of those environmental projects. Got to ram them through. That's why they're cutting down on the time frames; that's why they're eliminating some public hearing processes; that's why they're watering down requirements for the environment. They've got to ram it through and get those jobs. If they're minimum-wage jobs with no benefits and no unions, well, so what? The fact is, we can stand up and spout off the stats that show we created the number of jobs that we said. It all fits, it's all part of the vision that Mike Harris has for Ontario and what a shame to see that vision.

To speak to my local community on this particular issue of wetlands, I want to point out that one of the issues that's been raised by my colleague from Hamilton East as well as others here is the Red Hill Creek Expressway. Part of the problem that's faced with regard to the --

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): You are going to raise this?

Mr Christopherson: Absolutely I'm going to raise it. In the context of what we're talking about here, one has to talk about the Red Hill Creek Valley, because at the end of the valley is a wetland, and it's a class 1 wetland. That means that out of the seven classes of wetlands, this is the number one important wetland, and right now there is no approval for that expressway to link up to the QEW. It looks like they're going to have to go through or at least impact on that wetland, and the answer -- or the request rather -- from those that support the expressway is that there be an exemption from the Environmental Protection Act so that the concerns around this class 1 wetland will not have to be taken into account.

I worry that if that request is made from my local community, and it looks like it might be, this government will not care enough about the environment to say, "No, we will not allow that exemption." They are so convinced they've got to have their expressway rammed through that valley that I'm worried that the Minister of Environment and Energy will say: "Yes, we'll allow that exemption. There won't be an environmental assessment hearing." We run the risk of doing very serious damage to a class 1 wetland, and in this case it happens to be in my own community.

I want to move now to the last item that I'll have time to address this afternoon, and that is the effect on housing, because we know that part of what Bill 20 does is to take away the right to have basement apartments in the way that we did under our Bill 120. I know it was controversial in my own community. It's controversial across the province. But as Ms Jackie Gordon said, representing the Social Housing and Access Committee during the hearings into this bill held in my community, "We think the province has a very strong role to play in ensuring that people with low incomes and tenants have access to housing in every community in this province."

That's a philosophy that we agree with. We agree that you cannot allow people to continue to live illegally in units that are not safe, are not regulated, and have tenants who would fear to express and defend their rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act for fear that they could be evicted because they don't live in a legal unit. And so we changed that law.

What's curious about the government approach to this is that this was a private enterprise solution that created 100,000 units; 100,000 units were created as a result of that bill that provided affordable housing for people in this province who need it. And given the way this government's slashing wages and laying people off, as you're planning to do with the privatization of a lot of the OPSEU jobs, there's going to be more and more people who are going to need affordable housing.

On the broader canvas, this government has said they want out of social housing. So there's an economic stimulation that was taken away, in addition to the right for people to have a decent and safe place to live: hundreds of thousands of dollars, million of dollars, in communities like Hamilton-Wentworth where there were commitments to build more affordable housing. Why?

During a recession it created jobs, but it's also an investment in our communities. To end on the point that I started with, why is that important? Because at the end of the day, if the economy isn't serving the people of the province, what's the point? By the economy, I am speaking of that activity which creates income for people which they then spend on their standard of living for themselves and their families.


This government -- and other reform parties like them -- talks about the importance of family, yet they never speak of quality of life. They never speak of the communities. They don't speak of the damage that their policies are doing to families, to working people, because it's not a priority for them. The priority is: Create those jobs no matter what and get everything out of the way.

One of the members said earlier they had to "remove the barriers to grow." That sounds good as a slogan, but what that means for the average person is neighbourhoods and communities and cities that don't serve their citizens, because those barriers, as you call them, are the environmental protections, planning protections, health system protections, education system protections. That's what you've decided are barriers, because that's part of what's in your way to your fiscal bottom line and that's what you're attacking along the way.

I would also refer back to comments I made before the end of the year, in the last session, when I said it's unfortunate -- because at that time we were still dealing with the fallout from Bill 26, the omnibus bill. I said at that time it's a shame that Bill 20 isn't going to get the attention that it deserves, because as much damage as this government is doing to the health care system, as much damage as you're doing to the rights of workers and the damage you're doing to the rights of injured workers and the damage you're doing to our education system, all of those things are a part of this. When you don't plan your communities and you don't think about the environment and the future when you're making land use decisions, you lower the quality of living for the average working person. Isn't bettering the lives of working people supposed to be the mandate of any elected government?

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Ms Churley: I think my colleague from Hamilton Centre should be listened to when he speaks about these matters, because he does have a certain amount of expertise in this area from having served on council in Hamilton before. I find it unfortunate that it appears to me that many members of the government side seem to just take it for granted that those of us on this side of the House have nothing positive to offer. I regret that, because many of us do have a certain amount of expertise and can be helpful.

I regret very much that none of our amendments -- we did force the government in two areas to make amendments, but that's because there was such a huge appeal from the public as well, including their friends, on some of these changes. Otherwise, not one amendment, nothing we said was listened to.

I think the connection the member for Hamilton Centre made between Bill 7 and the creation of jobs at any cost is a good one, but he left out something vital, and that is, it's also allowing some of their developer friends to make lots of money while creating some very bad development, and then cutting and running with a lot of money in their pockets. We know that's happened in the past.

The Premier, for instance, says, "Reform stands in the way of development, and balance has to be restored between environment and development." That's a negative and defeatist attitude. Development isn't bad for the environment; badly planned development is bad for the environment. There's just no reason why well-planned development can't go hand in hand -- when we enhance the environment at the same time -- with good development and job creation. That's the goal we wanted to create here which you've completely destroyed.

Hon Mr Jackson: I listened very carefully to my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre and I was rather surprised for him to bring up the example of the Red Hill Creek and the east-west corridor on his mountain in the city of Hamilton. The reason I was surprised is because I know the member, watched his career when he was on city council and how much he fought to have this economic development for his region. I saw him campaign against the Liberal member of this House, whose position changed dramatically one day in this House on the future.

I also watched in this Legislature almost from the seat he's in today while he sat on this side of the House and he and his government wasted three or four years of development in terms of the future of the Red Hill Creek and then we saw some capitulation. We saw him take the principles he enunciated in this House this afternoon about the environment and we saw how he was prepared to pave the Red Hill Creek and that he was then prepared to use taxpayer moneys to assist with -- and frankly, this is an unfair reference, but it's like conscience money for the environment, to then take moneys from the public purse and to invest them into his community and his riding for an arts community on Barton Street.

You have every right to do that as a government, but quite frankly when I'm being told these principles that you were enunciating and your concerns about this report, I will tell you that the best parts of your contribution were when you were spot-on with the economic development needs of Hamilton-Wentworth region. You articulated those in a very classy fashion on behalf of working men and women in the city of Hamilton. You did that when you were an alderman and frankly as a former minister of the previous government I would hope that you'd remember those fine speeches you made in Hamilton, lecturing the government of the day about the needs of your community.

We need an expressway in the Red Hill in this province and this piece of legislation before the House tonight will in no way damage the environment as it relates to the Red Hill Creek, because we're about to complete that project. Your government failed to do that.

Mr Grandmaître: I intended to speak on Bill 20, but I might as well use this two minutes to get on the record. The member for Hamilton Centre referred to affordable housing and he also referred to the 100,000 basement apartments or ancillary apartments, but he never used the word "illegal" apartments and that was the problem with Bill 163. They wanted to legalize 100,000 illegal basement apartments tomorrow morning. I thought this was completely wrong, for the simple reason that municipalities, building inspectors, the fire marshal's office, wanted to inspect these basement apartments to make them safe. It's fine to talk about affordable housing, but it has to be safe housing as well. Bill 163 didn't give municipalities the right or the access to these basement apartments to make them safe.

Bill 20, the reverse side of Bill 163 -- Bill 163 was too restrictive as far as I'm concerned, and now they're closing the gaps with Bill 20. I think this is totally wrong. Pretending that you're giving municipalities more power -- those municipalities will wake up five years or 10 years from now and find out that those powers are not the powers that are needed to have sound planning in our municipalities in the province of Ontario.

Mr Tilson: I too would like to make a couple of comments with respect to our friend's comparison between Bill 163 and Bill 20. I too was present, as the former speaker was, when Bill 163 was passed and we were shocked at what you were doing with respect to the issue of basement apartments or ancillary apartments in areas that zoning had been planned by municipalities -- essentially, you did away with zoning. Municipalities planned their municipalities for parking purposes, for schools, for roads, for environmental purposes as to whether an area should be high-density or low-density. That's what the whole principle of zoning is for, for the whole control of whether or not a certain number of people should live in that particular area or not in that area, and you took that all away. Bill 163 took that all away.


I can tell you, we made a commitment. There is nothing new to what we're doing. We made a commitment during the election that we were going to do away with that principle, and that's what we have done. That's what Bill 20 has done. I can tell you that if you expected us to carry on with not allowing any planning for our communities -- and that's what you advocated with Bill 163 -- we simply were not going to allow that to happen. The whole idea of simply saying that an area is not going to have high density or low density -- you had no regard for that.

Yes, I appreciate your concern for housing, but to do it with a complete disregard for planning in our communities -- we simply could not understand that. That's the rationale as to the provisions, this particular aspect of Bill 20, why we did away with the terrible provisions that you were putting forward with respect to Bill 163.

Mr Christopherson: I thank all honourable members for taking the time to comment, even the negative responses. I still appreciate the interest and the engagement.

Let me start with my neighbour the minister responsible for destroying WCB, the member for Burlington South. I'm going to be quite interested in looking at the Hansard because I believe I heard you say that the expressway will do no damage to the environment. I'll be interested to see whether or not that is exactly what you said, but it wouldn't surprise me that you did, because it's part of that myth that somehow you can put that expressway through there without doing significant damage.

I would say to him that yes, there was a compromise. As we know, that's the art of politics. But David Crombie did come up with a compromise report that, by and large, had the support of environmentalists because it reduced it from an expressway to a four-lane arterial road using state-of-the-art environmental applications, such as cut-and-cover, and it was believed that we could still preserve the ecosystem and still bring back and enhance the valley to the benefit of the residents, which we cannot do given the plans with the expressway. But then, I don't expect you to stand here and represent Hamilton. I don't know why you pretend you do.

I want to say to the member for Dufferin-Peel that I appreciate his point, but as he knows, there is no clear right and wrong in many cases of creating laws. We have a Charter of Rights and Freedom and when we talk about where people can live, we're talking about some communities saying some people can live here and in other communities they can't, and the balance for us was that the Charter of Rights should take precedence. That had nothing to do with eliminating planning for neighbourhoods at all; in fact, it gave communities better tools.

I'm out of time, but to others who commented, I thank them very much.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Further debate?

Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I rise today to speak about 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. Bill 20 is the result of a long consultative process that began with the Sewell commission in 1991. The commission, which undertook to streamline the planning process, consulted with interested parties over a two-year period and made recommendations to support better local planning with an emphasis on efficiency and timeliness. The Sewell commission laid the foundation for the changes that we are proposing today.

Those who actually use the planning system have told us that some of the changes legislated in Bill 163, the previous government's land use plan, are not achieving the objectives outlined in the Sewell commission's recommendations. The current system hurts Ontario's competitive position and leaves industry with a process that is too cumbersome and complicated. The government agrees. Ontario's current planning system has not fulfilled the requirement outlined by the Sewell commission to create a more timely and responsive planning system.

Bill 163 was supposed to utilize the Sewell commission's recommendations to increase local autonomy.


Mrs Fisher: No, I did, thank you.

But municipalities haven't been given more power; they were just given more tasks. Municipalities, planners and developers have told us that local decision-making is key to effective planning. The proposed changes in Bill 20 include a faster, less expensive and more understandable system, one which is guided by clear, concise provincial policies, policies which will deal with planning issues.

Bill 20 maintains tough environmental rules while clearing away obstacles to economic development.

Bill 20 also allows planning decisions to be made by the people --


The Speaker: Interjections are out of order.

Mrs Fisher: -- who most understand local circumstances: the residents and the elected officials of the municipalities.

The revised provincial policy statements that accompany Bill 20 recognize the diversity and the needs of the municipalities. The statements ensure that sound development projects can proceed quickly without compromising environmental protection.

The points I wish to make clear today are that wherever possible, municipal autonomy is the best option, that environmental rules under Bill 20 continue to be tough, and that my riding of Bruce is an excellent example of how planning decisions made at the local level meet community needs and at the same time have regard to provincial policies.

The government is committed to giving municipalities greater autonomy to make decisions that affect their community. As a result, in Bill 20, municipal authority to regulate houses with second units is reinstated. Municipalities will once again be able to use their official plans, zoning bylaws, site plan agreements and plans of subdivision to decide where houses with second units will be allowed. Municipalities will have the option of setting up a system of registration for both new and existing apartments in houses. This will help ensure that safety standards are met by allowing a municipality to require a mandatory inspection as part of its registration system.

In Ontario's land use planning system, environmental standards are set out in provincial policy statements which guide the system. Bill 20 and the provincial policy statement continue to provide strong protection for both agriculture and the natural environment. Prime agricultural areas, provincially significant wetlands, woodlands and valley lands are all protected in the provincial policy statement.

The purpose of Bill 20 is not to decrease environmental protection, but rather to streamline and speed up the planning process, to add flexibility, to increase local autonomy and to protect the environment in the context of economic development. By doing so, we will cut red tape in the planning development system that impedes economic growth in Ontario, we will strengthen municipal autonomy by giving municipalities greater flexibility and control over local decision-making, and we will continue to provide tough environmental protection.

Municipalities and developers have told us that the current planning system is slow and inefficient. Municipalities need greater autonomy and should be given further responsibilities. Provincial policy statements are too proscriptive and inflexible, and the implementation guidelines under the Planning Act are too long. This government is scrapping those parts of Bill 163 that do not work and bringing in a planning system that does work for Ontario.

The "shall have regard to" clause that will replace the "be consistent with" clause does not mean that policy statements can be ignored. On the contrary, it means that a decision-maker is obliged to consider the application of a specific policy statement when carrying out its planning responsibility. While Bill 20 does not give municipalities more flexibility in how they observe the policy statements, experience over the years shows that most planners and decision-makers, including the Ontario Municipal Board, know what this means and do take provincial policy statements seriously.

In my riding of Bruce, there are 8,563 hectares of provincial parkland, including natural environments, nature reserves and recreation facilities. These areas include such environmental features as provincially significant wetlands, archaeological resources, bedrock and fossil features, and areas of natural and scientific interest, known as ANSIs, which protect life science communities and earth science areas. Over 40 of these ANSIs have been designated in Bruce county alone.

In addition, the dynamic beach allowance has been established at 45 metres and spreads along the Lake Huron shoreline. This dynamic beach allowance has been a major subject of concern to homeowners and municipal councillors alike. Under Bill 163, the increased shoreline development restriction in fact could prevent approval to rebuild existing residential dwellings in the event of fire or in the need of full replacement. This designation has also caused concern relating to property market values. Such a widespread designation is not necessary. However, all involved agree that the dynamic beach feature should be preserved.

The extent of environmental protection in my riding, most of it designated prior to the enactment of Bill 163, demonstrates that giving greater autonomy to municipalities to make planning decisions does not compromise the protection of the environment. Bill 20 provides the minimum standards that must be met. Local decision-makers are free, however, to set higher standards that meet community needs, and I might suggest such is the case in my riding of Bruce.

Creating communities which have cost-effective development patterns, an appropriate range of land uses and densities and the essential ingredients for economic prosperity are key goals of our Bill 20. This bill seeks to protect the province's prime agricultural areas, mineral resources, natural heritage and archeological resources for their economic and environmental benefits while providing municipalities with the autonomy they need to make planning decisions that are most appropriate for their community.

The Speaker: It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1801.