36e législature, 1re session

L100 - Mon 30 Sep 1996 / Lun 30 Sep 1996
















































The House met at 1331.




Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): Since the Tory government has refused to refer my private member's Bill 60 to one of its standing committees and allow the people of this province to speak on this piece of legislation, I have taken upon myself to travel eastern and northern Ontario to gather public input on the issue of labour mobility in the construction industry. I held six public hearings in as many cities in only four nights. It was an exhausting exercise, but certainly not in vain.

I have here a transcript of the comments of the people of Ontario and what should be done to put an end to the unfair situation that the Ontario construction industry is in at the present time. I want to present a copy to Labour Minister Elizabeth Witmer in order for her to realize how important it is for her to stop the useless negotiations with the Quebec government and take action now in order to give Ontario construction workers and contractors the opportunity to earn a decent living.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Monsieur le Président, vous allez me permettre, bien sûr, de vous féliciter pour votre poste de Président de l'Assemblée législative.

On June 1, I wrote the Honourable Al Leach regarding the cancellation of funding for the Frontiers Foundation. His response, of course, and you've guessed it, cited deficit reduction as the reason for the cut. Consequently 38 families in northern Ontario, living in deplorable shelter, are counting on Frontiers volunteers for new or renovated homes this season. The budget announced $10 million for a new program: the volunteer linkages initiative. It is intended, of course, to promote and encourage the spirit and commitment of volunteers in communities across Ontario.

The Frontiers Foundation epitomizes what community voluntarism is all about. Here we have nothing short of a proven package, an agency that works for people and with people, and yet the government has put $10 million on hold. Why is that? For the sake of budget reduction; that's what they tell us.

Let me share with you a true story. This is what it's all about: This is before; this is after. As a result of their stalling, 38 heads of families, like this proud resident of Whitefish, will go back to living under these conditions. They have to carry the guilt. They can fix it.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): Today I wish to congratulate the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company on the expansion of its Scarborough plant. On September 26 Eli Lilly Canada opened a new state-of-the-art research and development facility at its Danforth Avenue headquarters. This $25-million investment makes Eli Lilly Canada one of the leading research concerns in North America.

When I moved to Scarborough as a boy in 1955, Eli Lilly had already been in the area for nearly 10 years. They've been an important pillar in my community for over half a century. Eli Lilly's first involvement in Canadian health care came in the early 1920s, when it collaborated with Dr Fred Banting and Dr Charles Best to produce the world's first insulin.

Eli Lilly continues to make miracles happen today with a sense of urgency true to their motto, "The patient is waiting." They're working on new medicines for heart disease, cancer, schizophrenia, AIDs-related illnesses and osteoporosis, to name just a few.

By choosing to invest $25 million in Scarborough, Eli Lilly is saying yes to their community by offering 100 high-tech jobs for Canada's best and brightest scientists; they are saying yes to Scarborough by purchasing abandoned chop shops and crack houses in the area, revitalizing some urban problems; they are saying yes to those who are waiting for medicines and treatments that will change their lives for the better.

We must continue to nurture companies such as Eli Lilly. We too know the patient is waiting.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): With certain clarity the Attorney General stood before this House last session and firmly stated that his changes to the family support plan would "provide fast payment to those within the plan who are awaiting cheques." It is painfully obvious that his changes are not working. It is clear that when the minister spoke of "fast payments," he had no idea that his changes were going to have a disastrous effect on the system and that many single parents would be so callously affected.

It is also evident that when the minister spoke of improving efficiencies within the system, he was clearly unaware that reductions of staff in the family support plan would result in a severe disruption of the distribution of payments. When I reminded him that it didn't take a genius to figure out that service would severely deteriorate if he reduced the number of staff involved in the process, he laughed at me.

Sadly, the minister's mistakes and errors in judgement are no laughing matter. Those changes have resulted in hardship for many single parents. Each day in my office I get several calls from single parents who don't have enough money to feed their children.

Have a heart, I say to the minister. Restore the funding to the family support plan.



Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I would like to offer my congratulations to you on your election to that very responsible position and assure you that in your job you will hear from us in particular on this side of the House some stories that will be of interest and should be of some concern to you and to the government.

The member for Lake Nipigon from my caucus, who spoke before me, shared with you some of the pain and suffering that's going on out there, some of the diminishing of service that people are experiencing. I myself just this past summer was sitting on the sideline watching my son play soccer when, unsolicited, this woman came up to me and told me a story that made me question just exactly what this government is about and what it's doing.

She talked of her service as a person who delivers Meals on Wheels and visiting an elderly woman whom she couldn't find when she first went to the door, who on further search was in a bedroom crying because on that day she had gone to her pharmacy to look for her usual medication and was told she couldn't have the pills that she normally gets if she didn't have the money up front to pay for the dispensing fee which this government has imposed on all of the seniors across this province. She was told to be satisfied with eight pills, to go home, and when she had more money she could come back and get more.

This is an elderly woman, a woman who has paid her dues, a woman who has contributed to the wellbeing of all of us in this province, and she is afraid of what this government is going to do to her.


Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): In April 1996 I made a statement in this House congratulating the Durham Board of Education on its nomination for the 1996 Carl Bertelsmann Prize. I rise today to bring to the attention of my colleagues the tremendous honour that has been presented to the Durham board and particularly to an institution which finds itself in the fine riding of Durham Centre and the town of Whitby, namely, Sinclair Secondary School.

This government has acknowledged the excellence of the Durham board since last April, not last week, like the opposition. The school and the Durham Board of Education were recipients of the 1996 Carl Bertelsmann Prize for excellence and innovation in educational programming. The board, which was the only North American nominee, was chosen from among seven public school authorities from around the world to receive the prize, which includes a cheque for approximately $300,000.

The Carl Bertelsmann Foundation holds a symposium each year on a different topic, this year's being education. There were eight criteria involved, and the Durham board was judged to be superior in all of these areas.

I was pleased to represent the government of Ontario at the symposium and also at the ceremony where this prestigious award was conferred, along with the professional educators of the Durham board, at no expense to Ontario taxpayers, I might add.

At the Legislature today are Mr Norm Green, who is the senior staff development coordinator, and Ms Laura Elliott, superintendent of schools. I know my colleagues will join me in congratulating the Durham board.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): As the Conservative government of Michael Harris begins to close hospitals across the province, the people of St Catharines and the Niagara region are becoming justifiably concerned that the Minister of Health will be setting his sights on one or more of the major health care institutions in our community. Witness Thunder Bay and Sudbury.

The St Catharines General Hospital, the Hotel Dieu Hospital and the Shaver Hospital have all served the people of St Catharines exceedingly well over the years and will be needed well into the future as an aging population seeks the services of these outstanding health care facilities.

No one in our community will recall Conservative candidates or leader Mike Harris promising to close hospitals in the Niagara region. Severe funding cuts, such as $9 million at the General, and significant budget reductions at the Hotel Dieu and Shaver, however, do not bode well for our hospitals in the years ahead.

Faced with these drastic funding cuts imposed by the Conservative government and threatening comments from the Minister of Health, local health councils and restructuring commissions are looking at the unthinkable: the closing of local hospitals.

I call upon the Minister of Health to assure the people of St Catharines that the General, the Hotel Dieu and the Shaver hospitals will not be closed and that they will be funded adequately in the years ahead.

Canadians have always valued a high-quality health care system, accessible to all, and the closing of much-needed hospital facilities in Niagara will not contribute to the medical wellbeing of our residents.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Earlier this month the current Minister of Community and Social Services received a report from the former parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Community and Social Services dealing with restructuring in the child care field. One of the problems with the passage of time here is that the former PA and the current minister are actually one and the same, so we have the situation where Ms Ecker is receiving a report from herself and has to decide whether to act upon her own recommendations.

This should give all of us pause for concern, particularly given the nature of the recommendations. Briefly, let me highlight a couple of them.

One recommendation is to eliminate the wage subsidies to child care workers. That's going to take $4,500 on average per year out of the pockets of already poorly paid, predominantly female, workers who take care of our kids.

Another recommendation is to increase the ratio of children to early childhood educators in the classroom. Imagine having nine two-year-olds running around that you have to take care of, that you have to train, have to educate, and that you have to diaper on top of all of that. Quality is going to suffer.

The minister says this is going to give parents greater choice and greater equity. I don't see greater equity, particularly not for child care workers, and I don't see greater choice, particularly not in terms of quality care.

The minister doesn't have public plans to consult. We say she should be holding full-scale hearings, get some reports. Don't just listen to yourself, Minister.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I'd like to rise in the House today to congratulate the players and coaches of the Martingrove Express Pee Wee Baseball team from Etobicoke, who won the Canadian National Pee Wee Baseball championship in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, on August 24.

This fine group of young athletes defeated a team from St Catharines to win the Ontario title. Once in PEI, they went undefeated in the round robin, defeating a team from Nova Scotia in the semi-finals, and then won their final gold medal game, defeating a squad from Abbotsford, British Columbia, in front of 3,500 fans.

The Martingrove Express Pee Wee team was the first Etobicoke team to advance to and win the national title. Their flawless play and sportsmanship was recognized not only by tournament officials but by their opponents as well, making them excellent ambassadors for Etobicoke.

My congratulations go out to all the players and their coaches, Peter D'Uva and John Donaldson, for an excellent winning season.


The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): At this time I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today Mr Grant Mitchell, the leader of the official opposition of the province of Alberta. Please join us in welcoming our guest.



Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I wish to inform the House that today is the first day of AIDS Awareness Week. One year ago I stood as Minister of Health in this House to acknowledge the importance of this week and the tragedy of AIDS. At that time I was pleased to announce that Dr Anne Phillips and Mr David Kelley would serve as the new co-chairs of the Ontario Advisory Committee on AIDS/HIV.

Sadly, this AIDS Awareness Week I regret to inform members of David Kelley's passing in April. As anyone who knew him can attest, David was a uniquely genuine, humane and dedicated person. He is much missed by all those who had the privilege of knowing him.

But while David's extraordinary contribution to the fight against AIDS is sorely missed, it is not forgotten by those who will carry on his work. I'm pleased that Andrew Lafontaine has agreed to serve as the new co-chair of the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS. Andrew has a long history of work in AIDS at the federal level, at the AIDS Committee of Ottawa, and more recently in Toronto.

David Kelley's passing reminds us all that AIDS is still exacting a terrible toll on its citizens. It reminds us that we still need more prevention education. We still need to provide treatment, care and support for those already infected and affected. We still need more research, and we still need a cure. That is why AIDS is a priority for this government. That is why we have a five-part plan to combat HIV and AIDS.


First, I am pleased to announce today a reinvestment of $2 million to begin an HIV viral load testing program here in the province of Ontario, which will be fully operational by the new year. With a viral load testing program, Ontario will be on the leading edge of HIV therapy. We are one now of only two provinces to offer this breakthrough test which measures the amount of HIV in a person's blood. Results can be used to make appropriate decisions about anti-retroviral drug therapy. Evidence shows that lowering the viral load with anti-retroviral therapy decreases the risk of progression to serious HIV disease, AIDS or death. This will allow people with HIV to continue leading productive lives longer.

First, I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS and the Viral Load Working Group, who have developed guidelines for the use of this test.

Second, between June 1995 and July 1996 this government has spent more than $11 million to provide HIV and AIDS patients with important AIDS drugs. This is about a $5-million increase in drug funding from the previous year.

Third, my ministry took steps to reduce the amount of paperwork that doctors had to complete to give people living with HIV and AIDS easier access to 3TC and Saquinavir, making these drugs available to physicians on the facilitated access list. 3TC and Saquinavir show a great deal of promise for people with HIV and have been helpful in keeping them healthier longer. The slashing of red tape and paperwork ensures that these drugs are more readily available to the people who need them most.

Fourth, this government has fully maintained funding levels for community-based AIDS programs. This allows communities to operate programs that meet their needs, such as counselling and education.

Lastly, I have asked the federal Minister of Health to extend the national AIDS strategy. In Ontario, we have developed a funded infrastructure that allows us to respond to provincial issues in a timely fashion and we have a plan to the year 2000 that identifies priorities for action, but it's very important that we have a national strategy so that the response to AIDS does not become a patchwork depending on which province you happen to be living in. I have written to the Honourable David Dingwall, federal Minister of Health, asking that he clear up the doubts that exist regarding the program's future and provide details about the next phase of the national AIDS strategy.

Setting aside all partisan differences, I would encourage all members to voice their support for a national AIDS strategy. Our government, as I noted, has identified AIDS as a priority area, and our motto of putting patients first has been more than backed up by our actions. We have protected community-based funding in the AIDS bureau budget and we are reinvesting new dollars into treatment and care, including new drug therapies and, today, viral load testing.

With prevention education, we can try to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS. With research and medical advances, we can eradicate it. We all look forward to the day when I won't have to, as Minister of Health, rise in the House to remind everyone of how important it is to be diligent in fighting this deadly disease.


Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): Before I begin I want to indicate to the House that the French translation of this statement has not been completed as I rise, but it will be here momentarily. If members have no objections I will proceed, and the French translation should be here within a few minutes.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): Agreed? Agreed.

Hon Mr Runciman: I rise today to inform the House about an important and innovative safety program initiated by the Ontario Provincial Police. Beginning tomorrow, every OPP officer in the greater Toronto region will be available for highway patrol on the 400 series highways during the morning and evening rush-hour.

This program has been named All Hands on Deck, and when I say every officer will be available, that's exactly what I mean. Regardless of rank, everyone, including the regional commander, will be called upon to patrol the rush-hour. The effect will be to put an extra 31 marked cruisers on the highways when we need them most. This will almost double the number of OPP vehicles patrolling our busiest highways at the busiest periods of the day.

This is exactly the kind of imaginative approach to policing we need. Getting senior officers out from behind their desks to patrol the highways at rush-hour is an excellent way to increase the front-line police presence where it is needed most.

All Hands on Deck is an extension of the very successful Highway Ranger program instituted last August as part of the government's comprehensive road safety plan. Working in three teams, the Highway Rangers are out to target the bad drivers, the speeders, the tailgaters and the drunk drivers. So far, the Rangers have issued 40,000 cautions and another 15,000 tickets. They also found laptop computers taped to steering wheels and instances of music enthusiasts using drumsticks to tap on the steering wheel, just another case of hands-free driving.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to announce that the OPP's fourth Highway Ranger unit will hit the road tomorrow. A special 15-member team will begin nabbing bad drivers on Highways 401, 402 and 403 in the London area. In a month's time, a fifth team of Highway Rangers begins work in the eastern region.

The Highway Rangers are only one part of this government's comprehensive road safety plan announced last October. The plan is designed to boost road safety in three key areas: enforcement, truck safety and keeping drunk drivers off the road. You will certainly be aware of the recent efforts by my colleague the Minister of Transportation to pull bad trucks off the road, and the administrative licence suspension program, where motorists charged with impaired driving lose the right to drive on the spot, will be here in time for the holiday season.

These programs are a testament to the government's continuing commitment to public safety and effective front-line policing. Recent statistics show our road safety plan is working. The OPP recorded 13% fewer highway deaths for the first half of this year. That's proof our plan is making our roads safer for all Ontarians.

On Wednesday, I'll witness our efforts at first hand when I join OPP Commander Bill Currie in the cruiser for his first All Hands on Deck patrol during the morning rush-hour.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): First, I'd like to begin by acknowledging and expressing condolences on the passing of Mr David Kelley, truly an outstanding activist in the province. He will be missed. However, his contribution really made a difference in the fight against AIDS and HIV.

I would say to the minister in a non-partisan sense, as I have exhibited before in this House, that I share his desire to see a continuation of the national strategy. However, I would say to him that Ontario has always been a leader in the development of a strategy for Ontario and I would hope that he would not shirk his responsibilities while attempting to wait, because there are many unmet needs.

You mentioned today funding for anti-viral load testing, and that's one example of where I believe that you shirked your responsibility. British Columbia has had that program and testing in place for some time. It's about time Ontario showed the community that we maintain our commitment to those who are infected, who are living with AIDS and HIV, and we are sad to see the minister wait so long before he would make that announcement.


I would also say there are many who do not have adequate access to drugs. We know there are many in need of psychosocial supports, and while the minister has said he has maintained funding for community-based education, and those programs are extremely important, many are concerned about his $1.3 billion in cuts to the hospitals and the effect that will have on the programs serving not only those who are dealing with AIDS and HIV but all those in the province who need access to care, which is in jeopardy because of the cuts this minister is allowing to happen in a haphazard, ad hoc way which we know is going to have a negative effect on our communities.

Similarly, there's nothing in here to assure those who deliver primary care to those suffering with HIV and AIDS and their families. We know the primary care reform model offers no incentive to family doctors who need those kinds of incentives so they can deliver care to those people in need.

This is an inadequate statement for the start of a very important recognition.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'd like to comment on the Solicitor General's announcement today and say that we certainly hope the program works. I find it mildly curious that first the Solicitor General has cut his budget, so our police organizations are working with fewer resources. Then I gather the minister said, "This is the number one priority, ahead of drug enforcement, ahead of serious crime, ahead of organized crime."

The commander, I gather, will climb in his vehicle at the height of rush-hour, get on the 401 and join the rest of the parking lot, where the commander will be tied up for several hours making his way along a few kilometres. That's probably useful, but we had thought the commander may have been focusing on several other issues as well.

We see in the budget the Solicitor General's budget cut -- fewer resources -- but I gather he's ordered police cars from around the province to come to this area. On Wednesday morning Commander Currie and the Solicitor General will move on to the 401 parking lot, and we'll see the commander spending three hours making his way along a few kilometres of the road. I gather that's the priority. Certainly safety is extremely important, and we hope it works, but it is an unusual use, perhaps, of the commander and all his senior officers, with cars from around Ontario pulled off the road, making their way along the road.

We had thought maybe the Solicitor General would be making an announcement. Certainly the Minister of Transportation has announced many times his great programs to fix the wheel problem, and the day after he announced it more wheels fall off. The wheels have been coming off the government since they got elected.

"All hands on deck Wednesday morning -- Commander Currie." I'd love to be there, but of course I won't be invited for the photo op. The Solicitor General will wail off as he moves into that parking lot, and we dearly hope it works very well because certainly it is a priority for all of us.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I'd like to join with the minister and the Liberal critic, the member for Oriole, and all members of the assembly in recognizing AIDS Awareness Week in Canada and in Ontario.

I also think it would be appropriate for all of us to pay tribute to the organizers of and participants in the many walkathons that took place across the province yesterday, where community support and understanding were shown with respect to this very tragic disease. Lots of money was raised as well, which obviously will go into services and supports in every corner of this province.

I agree with the minister that more needs to be done in this province in terms of prevention, more in terms of research and more in terms of support. I think the minister would agree that the support system and the health care system that are in place are still spotty in the province in terms of the strengths and where there are weaknesses of providing supports and health care supports for people living with AIDS.

I want to congratulate the minister for funding the viral load testing program. I can't comment in the same way that the critic has for the Liberal Party about whether it should have been sooner. All I can say is that it was appropriate that it was announced today and I congratulate the minister for doing it.

But I want to emphasize that I think the minister needs to show more leadership in terms of providing more support so that those who are living with AIDS can expect the same level of health care and community supports all across the province of Ontario, not just in urban areas and not just in Metropolitan Toronto. Even in Metropolitan Toronto more needs to be done.

I agree with the critic from the Liberal Party when she says that the minister has got to also understand that the kinds of cuts that he has announced to date, the $1.3 billion in our health care system and our hospital system, all sorts of cuts in community and social services and services that do provide support for people living with AIDS, have to be recognized as well. Those cuts are hurting people, whether they're using our health care for other reasons or whether they're people who are living with AIDS.

Today's announcement in Sudbury is another one of those announcements that will have an impact on how accessible health care is for everyone in that particular community. It's fine to come here today and paint a rosy picture, but I think the minister has to understand that his cuts are hurting. A $2-million announcement of reinvestment does not make up for the $1.3 billion worth of cuts.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): In regard to the comments made today in the Legislature by the Solicitor General, I just have to say that I am beginning to see that the cuts that this provincial government has done towards the OPP are really having an effect and where the government in its own admission here today is saying that they're short-manned when it comes to being able to do the work in the province of Ontario that police officers need to do to keep our communities safe.

By you taking the police and putting them all out on the 400 series highways in the morning and in rush-hour traffic I wonder what's going to happen in our communities. I wonder what's going to happen in the neighbourhoods where we won't have police to be able to respond to what's happening in regard to crime in those communities when they're all out on the highway trying to nab speeders who could have been caught by photo-radar if you'd kept it in place in the first place.

I look at this and I wonder, what are we going to call these people? Are these people going to be the Runciman Rangers? It sounds to me almost that what you're trying to do here is you're trying to develop a highway patrol program with the existing police officers within the Ontario Provincial Police to go out and to try to nab people on the 400 series highways.

I say we need police within our communities. We need police in order to make our communities safe. I think that having all of the police officers out on the 400 series highways, although we need to be able to deal with that issue, could be done more effectively by other means such as photo-radar. I would ask the minister to go back and look at that rather than looking at that through his political eyeglasses as he normally does.

I just want to also comment quickly on the initiative in regard to pulling all the bad trucks off the road that the Minister of Transportation is going to be working on aggressively. I want to remind the minister that it was your federal cousins the Tories back under Brian Mulroney who deregulated the trucking industry in the first place. When that was done, federal New Democrats and provincial New Democrats said it would lead to highways being much more unsafe for commuters and for people on highways because trucks would become unsafe and that would lead to accidents and that would lead to loss of life, and that's exactly what's happened. I think by the minister moving forward in the way that he does admits in the first place that truck deregulation was a bad idea at the time, and it's proving out to be a worse one as we see the fatalities piling up.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, today in the gallery we are joined by Matthew Dolmage. Matthew is here with his father Jim. I wanted to introduce you to Matthew. Matthew is 22 years old. He uses an electric wheelchair to move around and a computer and sign language to communicate. His hobbies include music, computers, game shows and television. He also has spina bifida. Despite that disability Matthew has been able to live at home with his parents because they have been supported by the special services at home program.

Minister, as you know, for some 13,000 families in the province of Ontario, the difference between being able to stay at home or being placed in an institution or a group home at great public expense is their access to the support of the special services at home program. Yet families who depend on that program are now facing across the province, on average, a 30% cut in their funding support. In Matthew's case the cut was 50%. I suggest to you that where these children are concerned, where these young people are concerned, no cut in their support is acceptable.

In opposition, your Premier said that these special-needs families should be a priority. Matthew wants to know why you have imposed these cuts on them and on others who need special support at home. Can you tell him why, Minister?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I think parents who have a child at home whom they care for in this manner to keep them out of an institution are to be congratulated and are to be supported. That is one of the reasons why the special services at home program has not been cut. We've maintained the priority on it because we think it's extremely important to provide support for families such as the one that the honourable member has mentioned.

Mrs McLeod: I suggest that the minister try and convince Matthew and his family that their support has not been cut when in fact it's been cut by 50%. I suggest you talk to the 13,000 families across the province who are seeing similar kinds of cuts in their programs and the support they need. You might want to come and talk to the families who have been forced to put their children into foster care because without the support they need, they cannot manage the stress of caring for their children at home any longer. Minister, the reality is that these families are getting cuts in their programs and it is difficult for them to manage.

I also think it's important for you to know how strongly your Premier advocated on behalf of people like Matthew and the families who need special services at home support when he was in opposition. I take you back to December 7, 1994, right here in the Legislature, when Mike Harris asked the government of the day to double the budget of the very program that helps Matthew stay at home. Instead of that, the families are seeing large cuts in their support.

In the Common Sense Revolution, you promised that a Mike Harris government would not cut funding to people with disabilities. Your government has broken that promise. I ask you today, will you commit to doubling the funding of this program, as Mike Harris had demanded in opposition? If not, can you explain to Matthew why your government's actions now are so different from the words of your Premier when he was in opposition?

Hon Mrs Ecker: As the member knows, this program has not been cut because we think it is extremely important to provide a support for the families. Those families are assessed annually to determine the need they have, and that is what we try to do to make sure that we are meeting their needs. We are also maintaining other supports for those who have developmentally disabled children in the community because, again, we believe that's an important support.

It's a very difficult decision. No matter how much you try to do to stretch those dollars, there's never enough to meet the needs we have. That's why we're working so hard with those community agencies to try and restructure out there so that those supports are there and as much money as possible can go directly to those families.

I'd certainly be pleased to meet with the honourable member at the end of question period to talk about the specifics and have officials look into the specifics of this particular case, because of course there is an appeal mechanism for families who feel the decisions that have been made around their care are not appropriate.

Mrs McLeod: I say to the minister that the Dolmages are here today because they want to highlight the concern of the 13,000 families across this province who are receiving special services at home support and whose support has been cut. That is the reality for these families, Minister.

There is also a reality for families who are on a waiting list waiting for support because the dollars, as you yourself I think have just acknowledged, are simply not enough to meet the needs. It is not one particular case, Minister. The data are there, the information is there, the reality of cuts to families is there for you to see. What is needed is for this government to keep a commitment that you made in your Common Sense Revolution and that your Premier demanded the previous government to meet, and that was to increase the funding for the program.

When Mike Harris demanded the doubling of this program funding back in 1994, he did so because of a very tragic incident, and I don't want to re-raise the incident. I think you will recall the tragic event of Cathie Wilkieson and her disabled son. We don't want to wait until we face another tragedy for your government to act on what it understood to be a need two years ago. We certainly don't want to see more families forced to put their children into foster care.

Your cuts are having a devastating impact on these families, Minister, and I simply ask you again, will you do as your Premier demanded that the previous government do? Will you keep your promise to Matthew Dolmage, to his family? Will you double the funding for the special services at home program so that the cuts to these families can be reversed?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I appreciate the honourable member's concern, but I must stress again that the amount of money that is there to support special-needs children and for those who are caring for their children at home, we are maintaining that funding. We are trying to meet the needs of more families with that funding, because we agree that it's a very, very important support for those in the community. That's also why we are meeting and working very closely with the disabled community to try and make sure that we can restructure those services out there in the community so that there are more supports so that we can stretch those dollars further to meet the needs of more families. It's very difficult. We're working very hard to try and do it because I think those families deserve as much support as we can give them. That is our objective and our goal.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My question is directed to the Minister of Health. Minister, as you know, just a few hours ago, the Big Blue Tory bulldozer went through my community of Sudbury under the guise of the Health Services Restructuring Commission. It ransacked the entire city; it ransacked the entire region; it ransacked every surrounding community, including all the communities of northeastern Ontario, leaving them without hospitals, leaving them without nurses and leaving them without health care.

Today, the people of Sudbury have been informed by the minister's hand-picked hospital restructuring commission that the Sudbury region, an area of population of approximately 165,000 as its base in the surrounding areas in all of northeastern Ontario, has lost two of its hospitals.

Last Thursday, Minister, I asked you if you would support a recommendation to close the Sudbury General Hospital and the Memorial Hospital. I ask you again, are you in support of your hand-picked commission's recommendation?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I thank the honourable member for his question on behalf of his community. All of the concerns that members of that community may have, the honourable member knows that the process is very clear. Those concerns are to be addressed to the Health Services Restructuring Commission. There is now a 30-day period for the community to express its concerns, to tell the commission what it got right and what it got wrong, and at the end of the day the Health Services Restructuring Commission will make decisions as to improving patient care in Sudbury and other cities around the province.

Mr Bartolucci: The people of Sudbury, the people of northeastern Ontario don't want a process answer. Don't worry about the process. The people of northeastern Ontario will respond to the process. I'm not worried about that. You again refuse to answer a commitment that you had made earlier to the health service providers when you said there would be two sites, nothing else would be recognized or acknowledged or supported.


That aside, could you please tell me what you're going to say to the 365 full-time workers at Memorial Hospital, the 519 full-time workers at the Sudbury General Hospital, for a total of 915 full-time jobs? What about the 445 part-time workers at the Sudbury General Hospital and the 303 part-time workers at the Memorial Hospital, for a total of 748 jobs? You have robbed the Sudbury region of much of its economic base through the closing of these two hospitals. What do you say to these people who will be losing their jobs in 1997?

Hon Mr Wilson: Ontario is the last province to undergo hospital restructuring. We've had advice from political parties of other stripes who represent governments in other provinces. I can remember Mr Ramsey, the NDP health minister in BC, telling me last Christmas when he had the Shaughnessy Hospital, the first teaching hospital in Canada -- where the doors of that hospital closed, but the services amalgamated with other hospitals down the street. The very first thing that one must put in place, we learn from the other provinces, is a human resources plan. I know the commission is aware of the importance of the human resources and the expertise in the hospital system in Sudbury and other places. Their first challenge is, in my opinion, to make sure that the training is available, that they recommend to the government that the training programs be available, that at the end of the day the restructuring be done but also that we try and keep the expertise and the services in place.

At the end of the day, what the judgement will be is whether access and quality have increased and whether patients are better off as a result of restructuring. I know from the public statements the commission has made to date that this is what is driving the restructuring and this is what is foremost in their minds as they make their difficult decisions.

Mr Bartolucci: Let's be perfectly clear and let's make sure that all the members of the House know that during the campaign the Tory candidate in Sudbury, Richard Zanibbi, held a press conference at Memorial Hospital guaranteeing Memorial Hospital would not close. The minister guaranteed the Catholic community that the Sudbury General Hospital wouldn't close. Two broken Tory promises. The one commitment they're going to make is that they're going to wreak havoc on the health care community by withdrawing $1.3 billion out of the hospital system so that people who are sick won't be able to get access to proper care.

Let's put it on a very simple level. Maybe you could answer the question: (1) How can you withdraw $42 million from the global budget and expect that you're going to have better health care? (2) How can you invest $3.5 million in repatriation beds, which will provide between 16 and 20, when everybody, every provider, has told you that 100 repatriated beds are necessary? Can you answer that two-part question?

Hon Mr Wilson: The first part is the $1.3 billion. I can tell you that life would be a lot easier if his federal counterparts would give us back the $2.1 billion they've taken from health and social services.

Second, I take the honourable members back to the jobs front. Our first investment, which is the largest single investment in the history of health care in Ontario, was $170 million to create 4,400 new nursing jobs and homemaking jobs in communities. To date, we've spent about $37 million of the $170 million because we're simply waiting for customers in many communities, including Windsor, throughout the southwest. You've had a tremendous increase in the home care budget in Sudbury over the last few years, as has Thunder Bay. We have done what others failed to do, and that is to beef up community-based services to ensure that patients don't fall through the cracks as we get rid of the waste, the overlap and the duplication.

Finally, I'll say that every detail of the commission's announcement today has to be justified by the commission. I believe they're doing that. I would ask the honourable member to bring his concerns to their attention. They are the experts. They're provided with some of the best available data in the world today. They're backed up, to make sure quality isn't affected, by Dr David Naylor and the highly respected Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, their research team.

I am confident that at the end of the day, after the commission's had this 30 days and finds out what they did right and what they did wrong, it will have a recipe for better health care, where patients come first in our health care system. That's the direction we're going in; that's the direction the commission is leading us in.

Mr Bartolucci: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This is of significant importance to my community and to northeastern Ontario. The minister is saying that he can provide fewer health care dollars, fewer beds, fewer staff, and still come out with a better system? I challenge him to prove it.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): That is not a point of order.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My questions are also for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health has said many times that the savings from hospital cuts -- he calls it hospital restructuring -- will be reinvested in health care services, so I want to ask the minister again here today to confirm this. Will the money from hospital restructuring be reinvested 100% in community-based health services?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The commitment that the government made was not to let the health care budget fall below $17.4 billion. We will fully live up to that commitment throughout the life of our government. Therefore, the budget will not fall below $17.4 billion and the money from hospital restructuring that we see -- this is all very theoretical right now -- will go into the health care system.

I remind the honourable member that when up to 85% of health care budgets are salaries and wages, no matter what institution you look at across this province, any investment or reinvestment is a reinvestment in people, in health care providers, whether they be doctors, nurses or people who clean the hospitals. That's what health care is. Health care is not the bricks and mortar. Buildings don't cure people; people do. All of our reinvestments have been in people.

Mr Hampton: The minister seems to have changed his tune. He has said, "The government made it very clear when Mr Eves made the announcement last year that $1.3 billion will come out of the hospital side of the ledger and be reinvested in community...." He's even said in this House, "Our first reinvestment of that money..." will actually be "$170 million into new community services." So initially the minister's story was that money that comes out of hospital restructuring will go into community services like long-term care. He's been around the province pronouncing that over and over again. But a few weeks ago he said money out of hospitals would be used for doctors. Doctors are something different from community services. He knows very well the difference between community services and doctors' salaries. Which is it? How much of the money out of hospital closures will go to community services, which are meant to replace the services that are lost in the hospitals, and how much will go to paying doctors' salaries?

Hon Mr Wilson: That question would be laughable if it wasn't so sad coming from a leader of one of our three parties. Any investment in health care is an investment in people. The $170 million in home care and home therapies and nursing creates 4,400 nursing jobs and other jobs for home care providers. Any investment -- the 19% decrease -- and the millions of dollars we put in cardiac surgeries this year to give us one of the best waiting lists in the country, which is an ironic term -- we're trying to get rid of waiting lists -- is the fact that this $10 million goes into doctors and the surgeries they perform and the nurses at their side. The Q-tips and swabs are a small part of the budget. It's the people who provide services.

I will not play this game of, "You get this and you get that." Any investment in health care -- and we're fully reinvesting dollars back into health care -- is an investment in people and an investment in providers. The tooth fairy does not provide community services. Doctors do. Nurses do. Home care workers do. They're real people. They will receive these reinvestment dollars.


Mr Hampton: The minister might want to gloss over this, but he knows full well that when you close hospitals, it means you will have to have outpatient services; and because the hospital doesn't exist any more, it means that outpatient services, which used to be provided in the hospital, have to come from somewhere else. He knows that you have to have rehabilitation services because the hospital is not there. He knows, for example, that you have to have services for mothers; he knows that you have to have a whole list of community care services and home care services because the hospital is no longer there and the hospital used to provide those services. The minister said before that any money out of hospital structuring will go into community services. Now he says, "Some will go into community services and some will go to physicians," to pay for the mistakes he's made with respect to physicians.

Will you admit, while you're going across Ontario closing hospitals, that you will not provide the services that are being cut by way of new community services, that there's going to be a net loss of health care services to communities across this province?

Hon Mr Wilson: Throughout Canada, in areas where they've undergone the fundamental restructuring we're now undergoing, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that both access and quality increase when you're not spending money on a bus to shuttle people from three or four hospitals but you've got everybody in an excellent hospital site, and yes, a redeveloped site that will have increased outpatient services. That's why, as the commission goes through the province, it's making its recommendations as to the millions of dollars in new money, in capital that has to go into Sudbury, the $48 million that went into Windsor, so that the facility that's left behind, the bricks and mortar, is state of the art, the very best, that the best people to provide those services are concentrated and are able to give their very best efforts forward without money being wasted in the system and services and tests being duplicated.

At the end of the day I agree with the honourable member that the test of restructuring is whether quality and access are maintained and indeed enhanced. When you get rid of the waste, the excessive administration -- look at the Perley Hospital in Ottawa: $35 per day, per patient in administration versus the average nursing home in this province, which is $5 per patient, per day in administration, oranges to oranges, exact comparisons -- you can no longer support seven times the administration cost. It's immoral. Those dollars belong to the patients, and we're driving them down to patient services. We will not be deterred, because we're not supporting overhead administration waste and duplication. We're about putting the patients first, and that should be the job of all members of this House.

Mr Hampton: To sum it up, this is what it says: People are going to lose services in their hospitals, and this Minister of Health is not going to replace those services with community services. That's what it boils down to.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): New question

Mr Hampton: I want to read a short quote that comes from something called the Common Sense Revolution, something the government has suddenly dropped from its vocabulary, something it doesn't want to talk about any more, which says on page 7, "We will not cut health care spending." That's what they said.

Today the minister's hatchet commission was in Sudbury and his so-called Health Services Restructuring Commission announced that two of the three hospitals there are going to close. Sudbury General and Sudbury Memorial are going to close; $42 million a year will be taken out from health care in Sudbury despite the minister's promises in the Common Sense Revolution. So I want to ask, will the Minister of Health commit to reinvesting the full $42 million that you're cutting from Sudbury. Will you commit to reinvesting that full $42 million into health care services in Sudbury?

Hon Mr Wilson: While we're in the business of quotes, I would like to quote:

"We could save millions of dollars by looking at some rationalization in terms of the administration of some of these hospitals....

"If we think we have a problem in our health care system in Ontario today, and I do...if this government does not take the bull by the horns and start dealing with the problems in our health care system, the emergency and the crisis that we have today, in 1988, will look minimal compared to what we are going to have. The crisis is coming, the costs are escalating, and I beg the government to act before this system collapses."

I couldn't have said it better. That was the honourable Dave Cooke, MPP, in Hansard, May 12, 1988.

"I believe very strongly that in the rationalization of services the amalgamation of hospitals does make sense in certain circumstances." The honourable Dave Cooke, MPP, Hansard, October 21, 1986.

I can go on and quote Liberal health ministers. The difference is, we're taking politics out of the restructuring process. The previous government had its mind more to politics, more to pandering. We have said very clearly that we will not cut health care spending, and we have not. Secondly, we've said very clearly, and the people of Ontario have told us very clearly, that the status quo is not enough.

The Speaker: The question's been answered.

Hon Mr Wilson: The system needs to restructure, and that's what we're doing.

Mr Hampton: It was a simple question. It was a very simple question. You're taking $42 million a year out of Sudbury's hospitals. Your hatchet commission even says that. They're taking $42 million a year. My simple question to you is, are you going to reinvest that $42 million a year in community services so that in fact the health care budget in Sudbury is not cut, so that in fact people in Sudbury will not have to do without health care services, will not have to fly to Toronto to get the services? Will you reinvest the $42 million that your commission announced that you're cutting? Will you, yes or no?

Hon Mr Wilson: The $42 million will be reinvested in Ontario's health care system. It is ridiculous to think you're going to put $42 million worth of long-term-care services in Sudbury. There aren't enough customers in the entire region to use up that increase. They're not even able to use up many of the dollars we provided with $170 million.

Let's take an example. Rather than have somebody stay in hospital to be counselled by a nurse for an hour at $500 or $400 a day for a hospital bed, community services say you'd take that $400 or $500 and you'd purchase three nurses who could go in for three full days right in people's homes, and they can check to see if the crib is actually safe for the baby, and help the mother with the breast-feeding, and talk about the number one cause of readmissions, which is jaundice. That can be done in the home. It doesn't need to be done in a $400 or $500 hospital bed.

Only five years ago, when you had knee surgery in this province, you were in hospital five to seven days. Today you're out on the same day as long as there are no complications. Only five to seven years ago, cardiac surgery, you were in for five to seven days. Today you're out the same day. So we don't need the hotel functions --

The Speaker: Wrap it up.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- of many of the hospitals. Many of them lie half empty. The commission is consolidating those bricks and mortar. I agree with you --

The Speaker: Wrap it up.

Hon Mr Wilson: At the end of the day we will measure outcomes. We will measure whether patients are served and whether they have access to services. We want to increase access and increase patient services.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Let me cut through the rhetoric of the Minister of Health and remind him of two things. Firstly, under the restructuring plan that came forward under our government, which was a local community solution, our Minister of Health, Ruth Grier, made a specific commitment to my community, which was that 100% of the savings that came from restructuring would be reinvested in the Sudbury community. That's what we were prepared to do on behalf of the people in my community.


Your restructuring commission this morning made it clear that only one third of the savings to come from restructuring are going to come back to Sudbury for the community-based services we need. That is unacceptable.

I want to ask you one more time: Are you going to commit today, yes or no, that 100% of the savings from restructuring are going to come back to my community for the community services we need?

Hon Mr Wilson: We will ensure that the community-based services are in place, but I say to the honourable member that I have never been able to find in writing anywhere Ruth Grier having said that, or any responsible health minister, because I know they would never make that commitment.

Do you want me to stop the air ambulance just as it gets over Sudbury's air space because the people of Sudbury didn't pay for that shared service? Do you want me to stop the people from Sudbury from going to the Hospital for Sick Children, one of the world's best children's hospitals, that we all pay for out of the general health care budget? Do you want me to stop the tremendous research and the measurements of quality that are done by the Institute For Clinical Evaluative Sciences --


The Speaker: Order. Folks, it's getting a little noisy in here. I'm finding it difficult to hear. Ask your questions and allow them to be answered. Please, let's have some order.

Mr Hampton: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We've been asking a question that could be settled with a yes or no answer. We're not the ones who are going on and providing no answer.

The Speaker: That's not a point of order. I can't give his answers for him. I just ask that we can be heard.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): We've heard the bad news about health care in Sudbury and northeastern Ontario today from my colleague, the disaster that's befallen them all. What I'd like to ask the Minister of Health about is the first stop for his restructuring commission, which was in Thunder Bay this past June. We went through the same shocked experience when it was announced in late June what the decisions were at that time.

What few people realize, though, is that the minister himself responded to the findings of the commission. The appeal process that he keeps talking about, he made his own personal submission. He also made it clear at that time in a media scrum that he would make his submission public, just like everyone else had, so the public could know what his position was on the restructuring process in Thunder Bay. But, Minister, you later refused to release your submission as promised.

The final verdict is coming down in Thunder Bay this coming Friday, October 4. The people in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario need and deserve to know what you have recommended for the health restructuring decision in Thunder Bay. We need to know. My question is this: Will you make your personal submission public today?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I was only informed of the commission's -- I'm sorry, you're talking about Thunder Bay; I was thinking of Sudbury. I just got their announcement, the same as everybody else did, today, so it will be a while before we have that response ready.

We're all learning in this process, is what I would say to the honourable member. This is the first time that we've decided to take the politics out of health care and to bring some fairness into the decision-making process. I know that the comments and data provided by the ministry are available under the freedom of information act and I think a number of people already have that document.

Mr Gravelle: Minister, that is absolutely astonishing. You try and separate yourself. You want to have the illusion of the commission being independent. You very publicly state you're going to make a submission in the appeal process to Thunder Bay; you make the submission; you publicly tell the media that you are going to release it; you then won't release it. Now you're just trying to act as if you're surprised by the question.

The effects of hospital restructuring are going to affect everybody in our region in northwestern Ontario for many, many years to come. You can't play with this. You're not just an ordinary citizen making a submission to the commission; you are the Minister of Health. You have an obligation to tell us what you said in that you said you would do that.

You made the submission; the people of Thunder Bay deserve to know it. If you won't release it to us publicly today, will you at least tell us here in the House what were the recommendations you made in terms of the restructuring process in Thunder Bay? Tell us today, right now. If it's available under freedom of information -- and I've made that request, I must say -- tell us today in the House what you've recommended.

Hon Mr Wilson: It's very clear that the ministry is a party to this process in terms of everyone else. In fact, some days I think I probably have less to say than you might imagine. You're freer than I am, because I don't want to unduly influence the process as minister. So you're freer than I am, probably, as a backbencher in the opposition, to go hammer away publicly at the commission for something you might not agree with. I have to take a more responsible position.

I can tell you that the report is a staff report, not the minister's report. I didn't sign it. It's a bunch of data on that -- which I couldn't explain to you because you wouldn't give me 10 hours in question period; there's not enough time today -- and that's available under the freedom of information.

The intention in the future -- because this question has come up many times; we're learning in this process too -- is to make public the reports that we send back to the commission. In the case of Thunder Bay, we didn't even think of doing it at the time. Now it's in the freedom of information process and I'll see if I can get you a copy of it.

Again, it's a staff report with data, and the commission takes that into account, as it does submissions from many, many other people and other experts who provide data, and, I must say, specifically the local data. The Ministry of Health data isn't always perfect, as you know, as to the number of doctors and services available in an area. So most important are the local submissions they get that actually give them a very clear picture of what services are in place and what services need to be enhanced.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services. Last week I raised the matter of a young offender who was being held in an adult segregation unit at Vanier Centre. Minister, as I'm sure you're aware by now, this youth was housed with two adult inmates on either side of her cell while she was in segregation. In fact, they could communicate with one another.

After that question, Minister, you told the press that if the policy directive dealing with the isolation of youth wasn't followed, appropriate action would be taken. I'd like to ask you today, what steps have you taken to look into this matter, were your policy and directive violated and what appropriate action was taken?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): When the issue was raised, the ministry instituted an investigation to ensure if the matters raised by the honourable member did in fact occur, and, if indeed they did occur, if there was a violation of ministry policy. We're awaiting that report.

Ms Lankin: Minister, this was four days ago I raised this. This is with respect to a young offender. We had a young offender who was killed in one of our provincial institutions. You said after that that you'd taken steps to make sure that no young offender would ever be housed in an adult segregation unit.

I raised a serious allegation, one which I know you will find to be true, and you're sitting here today and telling us that you don't know the answer to this, that you didn't take the time to get the answer from your ministry to ensure that youth were being protected?

Minister, your own policy -- and let me tell you, we can't get any cooperation from your ministry, from your ADM's office. We ask for copies of directives, copies of policies, and we're told to use the freedom of information to get them. We've had to get it through other sources.

Your own YOA operational policy and procedures of January 1996 says clearly, "Young persons in designated youth facilities and units are kept separate and apart from adult offenders." That's not what is happening, not in the case I raised with you last week, and there are other examples of that at this same institution.

Minister, I just don't understand. Do you not care? How is this not a contravention of your policy, your directives? When are you going to take control of your ministry?

Hon Mr Runciman: In fact, they are kept separate. They're kept in separate cells. We have a number of young offender facilities in the province that are in adult institutions. That's not a new situation. The member should be well aware of that. She worked in the corrections business herself for some time.

What we're talking about in terms of separation is they are separated from the adults in terms of the cell; they do not share cell space. That is the policy and it's the policy that was in place during the member's government.



Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Minister, if our economy is to expand and if our society is to thrive, then we must not only recognize the importance of agriculture; we must also invest in its growth and prosperity. These are some of the messages I've been hearing at farm meetings and up and down the back roads this summer.

Agriculture is a priority investment in my view, an investment in an industry that, as we know, generates more than $50 billion a year in direct economic activity; only our auto industry is larger. I would point out, however, that although not everyone drives, everyone eats. Can the minister tell the Legislature what he is doing to further increase Ontario's agrifood exports and promote our agrifood products?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank my honourable colleague for that question. It is a good-news question.

The government, the Premier, the minister and the ministry are working very hard to increase our penetration into foreign markets, particularly the market in the Pacific Rim, which is an opening market, a market with tremendous potential. I must tell this House that a week ago today 20 top Japanese officials were hosted by the ministry and the private sector and indeed they were --


Hon Mr Villeneuve: Yes, they were here to explore the business climate in Ontario. The Premier spoke with them and do you know, Mr Speaker, they liked the business climate in the province of Ontario and they are here to invest. They are here to import food products. Presently, we're exporting almost $5 billion a year. We're aiming to double that shortly into the next century.

So to my honourable colleague, this is good news when we're talking about food producers, the farmers of Ontario. They are on the leading edge and this government is supporting them with $15 million of new money, Grow Ontario money, a $20-million rebate on the capital improvements that they will be doing to become more efficient and to produce more food for that export market that is out there. So this is good news. The food producers of Ontario are doing an excellent job.

Mr Barrett: My riding of Norfolk is one of the more diverse and agriculturally significant ridings in Ontario and is home to one of the largest tobacco farm economies in Canada. A number of farmers are also diversifying into ginseng, soybeans and other crops that grow well in the area. The export opportunities for these crops, as well as tobacco, has the potential for great expansion. You mentioned the Pacific Rim, exports to Japan. There are some excellent opportunities there for a wide variety of agrifood products. How is Ontario doing with respect to these kinds of exports?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: As we speak, we have a delegation with the Ontario tobacco board in the Pacific Rim looking and ferreting out new markets and I'm quite sure they will be successful. When I visited the Pacific Rim with the federal minister and a number of my provincial colleagues last April, we were told that Ontario produces the best quality that we export, indeed they recognize our quality as being outstanding.

We have with us today, just as a matter of fact, John Andrews and Kim Cooper from the Ontario Soybean Growers' Marketing Board and we also have Mr Fujimori, president of the Takeya Miso Co of Japan. Welcome, sir. As you well know, you have been here on many occasions. Ontario has top-quality beans. We all know that the soybeans that we produce will bring --


The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): Would you give us an answer, Minister?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Amazing, amazing. I hope you're not belittling our agricultural producers because soybeans are a very important crop in the province of Ontario and we export some of the best-quality soybeans that indeed are imported into Japan and elsewhere. We do have the ability to produce this top quality --

The Speaker: Wrap it up, please.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: -- and we will continue to do so and export to the world.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. On the weekend an article appeared in a major metropolitan newspaper under the headline "Amateur Sports on `Welfare': Tory MPP." It reads as follows:

"Amateur sports groups in Ontario are welfare recipients who have to be taken off the dole, says Conservative MPP Tony Clement.

"`It's like a welfare dependency, a business welfare dependency,' Clement told the Star."

Minister, do you agree with Mr Clement's characterization of amateur sports groups in Ontario as welfare recipients?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): What I said on the weekend was that there is a sports system in Ontario that does not have a strategy, and as far as I'm concerned a sports system that doesn't have a strategy is no system at all.

Mr Bradley: I was making reference to Mr Clement's remarks. It says here: "`I don't know what planet Mr Clement is on,' said Phyllis Berck, chair of Sport Ontario, a volunteer advocacy group. `It's like they have this ideology and they're going to make the shoe fit no matter what the size.'"

Another interesting comment you would enjoy says, "Long-time Conservative MPP Morley Kells, a former lacrosse and hockey stand-out, ripped his fellow caucus member for the welfare analogy.

"`That shows Tony's lack of feeling. He's just a hatchet man for the Harris government,' added Kells, who doesn't have much faith in Mushinski's qualifications for the job, either. `Mushinski's really only there to disassemble the...thing,'" and there is a little blank in front of "thing."

Minister, why don't you cease your attack on amateur sports groups in Ontario and begin to support those who are trying to provide a healthy, constructive athletic activity for youngsters and others in this province?

Hon Ms Mushinski: I welcome the question from the member opposite. I think it's perhaps time for me, as minister responsible for sport and recreation in the province, to tell him what we have been doing.

First of all, we are absolutely committed to supporting sport at the provincial and community levels. Perhaps I should let the members opposite know what we have been doing over the last nine months. We have set up a task force that includes stakeholders --


The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): The minister has a rather soft-spoken voice, and the noise I'm hearing from this side is a little louder. I wonder if we could listen to the answer, please.

Hon Ms Mushinski: Over the last nine months we have been looking, as I said earlier, at what the provincial interest in sports should be. Clearly for the last 10, 15 years there has been no strategic system for sport in Ontario, so we have been meeting over the last nine months to develop an approach that we think is appropriate for the taxpayers in this province. On Friday I think the members opposite will see that we have clearly set a strategic direction for the future of sport in this province.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I would like to return to the Minister of Correctional Services. You've told us you haven't yet found out the results of the investigation into the concern I raised on Thursday and that you haven't yet found out whether or not there was a policy violation and what appropriate action was taken.

Let me tell you about the investigation that's taking place and about the action that has been taken by the management at Vanier.

On the Friday evening night shift two management employees approached the correctional officer who was assigned to duty in the special-needs unit and asked a couple of questions, one of them being, "Have you spoken to anybody outside of ministry personnel with respect to young offenders and adult offenders being housed together in this special-needs segregation unit?" Interesting, the tenor and the tone of this investigation: "Let's get to the bottom of this awful occurrence. Let's find out who told."

Since then -- let me continue with that night -- she asked for those questions in writing and was refused that. She refused to provide an answer in writing without union representation and was escorted off the property and suspended from duty.


Since that time, management has issued a letter to all the other employees who've worked in that unit demanding an answer to that question: Who did they tell? Let me make it very clear that this officer who is suspended is not the source of the information that I got.

Minister, will you take steps to ensure that all action against her is rescinded and that the request to all other employees with respect to this is withdrawn? Is this what you call appropriate action to be taken in response to the issue that I raised here in the Legislature?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): This is essentially a personnel matter, and there are avenues available within the system, through the employee's union and other opportunities, to address these concerns.

Ms Lankin: This is amazing. You come here four days after I raise a very serious issue, say you haven't got the investigation results, you don't know the answer, you don't know if your policy was violated. Staff people are being intimidated and harassed, suspended, escorted off the premises because they are suspected of having told someone outside of the correctional ministry something with respect to this. They've got the wrong person whom they've suspended. And you're standing here and saying it's a personnel matter.

The evidence is very clear. After the James Lonnee tragic event, a youth housed in an adult segregation unit -- not in the same cell as an adult, as you said earlier; in an adult segregation unit -- you said that wouldn't happen again. You said your August directives would take care of that. Your policy, and I've read it out to you, is very clear.

Now, this youth was in that segregation unit and was able to communicate with the adult on either side of her. Let me also tell you that in Vanier, as we speak, this practice has not been changed as a result of your directives. Young offenders are at every meal time escorted over to the adult dining room, where they are served by adult inmates and adult inmates clean the tables up around them. They are in direct contact. How can you say that's not a violation of your policies and your directives? When are you going to get control of your ministry?

Hon Mr Runciman: I indicated earlier that we have these units in Ontario which have been in operation for some time where we have young offenders in adult institutions. In terms of segregation, indeed they are in segregation units but they are not in a cell with an adult; they are separated. That is a situation that is unchanged from the time this member was in government, and the Liberal government before that.

We are making changes to the corrections system that the previous government was unwilling to do, perhaps because of its friendships or relationships with senior union officials. I'm not sure what the reason was, but we are making very dramatic changes. We're doing what's right for the corrections system, and ultimately, at the end of the day, we hopefully will not have situations where indeed young offenders are even in the same areas or in the same institutions with adults. That's certainly our ultimate goal. It cannot be achieved overnight. It's a situation we inherited, but we are doing something about it.

I can give you another example of the Justice Hansen report. This member tries to indicate that all of a sudden they are the most concerned about dealing with young offenders. Justice Inger Hansen, in her report to the government, talked about training and urged the government to look into changing the ways they go about training correctional officers. That government did absolutely nothing about it. We have initiated a new process for correctional officers in terms of training where indeed they will get specific training in terms of how to deal with young offenders.


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, in August and September the standing committee on general government traversed the province and had hearings on the rent reform discussion package from your ministry. The members of the opposition and several tenants' groups fearmongered and tried to scare tenants into believing that rents would skyrocket as a result of that package.

I know your ministry has done some research into the impact that the proposed reforms might have on the rental market and tenants. I wonder if you could inform the House about that research.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I can tell the member that we did conduct an independent study. We had an independent consultant by the name of John Todd. The consultant's report is now final; it's been made public; it's been provided to the opposition. That research showed that rent controls in Ontario have depressed the supply of rental housing. Not only that, but the research also found that if rent controls were removed completely, average rents would largely be the same as they are today and the availability of low-rent units for low-income tenants would remain unchanged. Not only that, but the consultant also suggested that a system of partial decontrol, a system that we are proposing, would have a substantially smooth transition.

Mr Maves: Thank you, Minister. That answer and those results corroborate a lot of the evidence that we heard on the road.

I wonder if you have heard of any studies that members opposite would have put forward that showed that their doom-and-gloom scenarios would take place.

Hon Mr Leach: No, I'm not aware of any research that's been done by the opposition or any other parties that would substantiate the opposition's claims of skyrocketing rents, absolutely no evidence to prove that whatsoever. The research we have undertaken confirms that the current rent control regime has created a problem in the rental market where substantial reform is needed to improve conditions for both the landlords and the tenants. I believe this government has brought forward proposals that are fair and equitable and provide a balance.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I notice the Minister of Labour is out of the room at the present time and I have a question for her.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): The minister is present.

Mr Lalonde: My question to the minister, the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer, concerns this government's failure over the past three months to negotiate an acceptable agreement with the Quebec government on construction labour mobility. After holding public hearings on this issue in six cities in eastern and northern Ontario, I can tell you, Madam Minister, that the word on everybody's lips is "now." Enough is enough. People in the Ontario construction industry are fed up. They have lost enough money, enough jobs, while their Quebec counterparts have prospered. They want action from this government now: not tomorrow, not in six months, not next year. They want it now.

In view of your refusal of the last Quebec proposal that was presented to you last week, I ask you, Minister, what are you prepared to do now to give hope to thousands of Ontario construction workers and contractors?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): As you know, during the last two weeks we have endeavoured to arrange numerous meetings with our counterparts in Quebec. We are determined to resolve the situation. We are determined to secure access for our workers and for our contractors into the province of Quebec, just as they have free access into our province.

Yes, I did receive a response from the Quebec Minister of Labour last week. We are looking at those proposals, and within the next few days we will be looking at responding and indicating what measures we are prepared to take.


The Speaker: The time for oral question period has expired.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Mr Speaker, at this time I'd like to raise a point of privilege under section 21 of the standing orders. My point involves the process by which MPPs in the Sudbury district were notified this morning of the report from the Health Services Restructuring Commission. I do not want to deal with the contents of the report itself; I want to deal with the process and how we were advised about this.

The essence of the point of privilege is this: Last week the Health Services Restructuring Commission sent the MPPs an agenda with respect to how it wanted to proceed this morning. We advised the restructuring commission that we did not find the agenda acceptable because it did not allow for the local MPPs to be briefed this morning and then to get a plane to come to Toronto to participate in question period. My colleague the member for Nickel Belt made a similar point to the Minister of Health himself on Thursday and requested that the schedule be changed so that we could participate fully in the briefing process, both seeing all the slides of all the work that has been done and having the opportunity to ask questions.

This morning, having received a response from neither the commission nor the Minister of Health --

The Speaker: I cannot account for any members. I cannot force members to meet with anybody or anybody to meet with members, so it is not a point of privilege. That's my ruling.


The Speaker: That's the ruling. I've ruled that it is not a point of privilege.

Ms Martel: Mr Speaker, you have to listen.

The Speaker: Is this a new point of privilege?

Ms Martel: No, Mr Speaker, it's the same point of privilege.

The Speaker: No. I've made my ruling.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): You haven't heard what she said.

The Speaker: Yes, I did hear. I heard enough. There is no point of privilege.

Mr Lalonde: My supplementary, Mr Speaker. It is clear from the minister's --

The Speaker: No, the time for question period is over and I said so. The clock ran out. We had 60 minutes; the 60 minutes has run out.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Under standing order section 34(a), I wish to advise of my dissatisfaction with the response the Minister of Health gave with regard to Sudbury health services restructuring and I request a late show. They're held Tuesdays and Thursdays; I would request a late show for Tuesday.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): Your request will be met.

Mr Bartolucci: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Quoting the same point of privilege, I sent a letter to Dr Duncan Sinclair on August 7 -- Dr Sinclair is the chair of the Health Services Restructuring Commission -- advising him of my wanting to facilitate a meeting with the three MPPs, regional politicians and the commission after the hospitals were briefed but before the media were briefed. He responded on August 20, stating that he appreciated my letter and, "We will be contacting you to discuss your suggestion prior to finalizing the process for the release of the commission's report." That never happened, and that's a part of the point of privilege the member for Sudbury East is trying to make. They did not follow a process they had committed to and I believe our rights as MPPs were violated.

The Speaker: Again, it's the same point of privilege and my response is the same.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: The point we're trying to raise has to do with access of members to information that very dramatically affects people who live in their ridings. The point of the matter is that this morning the member for Nickel Belt and I were specifically excluded from attending a media lockup with respect to the hospital commission's report and review. We went at 9:30 to be briefed. We were not allowed into the room and I find that to be unacceptable. As a consequence of that, we had to wait and at the time we were supposed to be briefed we had to leave and --

The Speaker: I'm sorry, you're belabouring an issue that I've already ruled on. This is not a point of privilege. I have ruled it is not a point of privilege.


The Speaker: This is not a point of privilege, please.



Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): If you'll bear with me, I have a petition to the Parliament of Ontario, a petition to end the spring bear hunt in the north.

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of bears killed in the spring are female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas 80% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only large mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring bear hunt;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear hunting activities."

I affix my signature to this petition as well.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I wish to present to the Legislative Assembly a petition from thousands of Toronto-Central Ontario Building and Construction Trades Council members who have grave concerns about this government's intent to dismantle WCB as we know it.

"To Premier Harris:

"We, the undersigned, oppose your government's plan to dismantle the workers' compensation system including:

"Reducing benefits, excluding claims for back injuries, carpal tunnel, muscle injuries, strains, sprains, stress and most occupational disease;

"Eliminating pension supplements;

"Handing over control of our claims to our employers for the first four to six weeks after injury;

"Privatizing WCB to large insurance companies;

"Eliminating worker representation;

"Eliminating or restricting the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, known as WCAT;

"Deducting Canada pension plan disability benefits and union pensions dollar for dollar from WCB benefits;

"We demand compensation if we are injured, a safe workplace, no reduction in benefits, improved re-employment and vocational rehabilitation, WCAT be left intact, and that the WCB bipartite board of directors be reinstated."

As I agree with these petitioners, I add my name to theirs.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I am pleased to present a petition to the Parliament of Ontario, the first of many petitions I have received on the issue of ammunition regulation in Ontario.

"Whereas the NDP government, under former Premier Bob Rae, passed legislation, Bill 181, the Ammunition Regulation Act, placing restrictions on the sale of ammunition in Ontario; and

"Whereas the provisions contained in Bill 181 are time-consuming, onerous and create unnecessary red tape; and

"Whereas the records for which these provisions have been produced do not track criminals; and

"Whereas Bill 181 was passed without any discussion with law-abiding gun owners such as farmers, collectors, hunters and recreational shooters, who understand and have a deep respect for the power of firearms and ammunition and the need to maintain and use their equipment in the safest of conditions; and

"Whereas Bill 181 will do nothing to combat the use of illegal ammunition;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to repeal Bill 181, protect the rights of responsible firearms owners and work for tougher penalties against weapons offences."

I affix my signature to this petition.


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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature.



Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I present a petition to the Legislature of the province of Ontario, to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the Premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, the Minister of Education and Training, John Snobelen, and all members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to inquire by independent public commission of inquiry into the treatment of reports or complaints of abuse of students by Kenneth Gino Deluca, a former teacher and now convicted child abuser, and the handling of such reports or complaints by the Sault Ste Marie and district Roman Catholic separate school board between the years 1972 and 1993.

"Whereas the protection of children, the promotion of the best interests of children and the wellbeing of children are a paramount objective to society as a whole; and

"Whereas the information which has been made public during the course of the trial of former teacher Kenneth Gino Deluca, convicted abuser of school children, has raised grave public concerns regarding the manner in which the school board, its officials and others involved in education and other public agencies responsible for the protection of children received and reacted to reports and complaints of abuse; and

"Whereas every person who performs professional or official duties with respect to children and has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child has suffered or may have suffered abuse has a legal obligation to report this suspicion to the children's aid society or appropriate authorities, who are required to investigate and take appropriate action;

"Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Premier of Ontario, the Minister of Education and Training and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to launch an inquiry into the manner in which reports or complaints of abuse of school children were received, recorded and addressed by the school board and all other authorities responsible for the protection of children and the promotion of the wellbeing of children in society, specifically by appointing a commission of inquiry pursuant to the Public Inquiries Act of Ontario."

This is signed by over 10,000 people, citizens of Sault Ste Marie, my constituents, and I sign my name to this petition and join them in calling for this inquiry.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a petition mainly from the village of Grand Valley in my riding of Dufferin-Peel. There's a total of 864 signatures. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"We, the undersigned, do hereby petition the Ontario government to review traffic safety conditions at the intersection of Highway 25 north and Highway 9, namely, the installation of a flashing warning light with a speed limit of 60 or 70 kilometres, or a regular three-way traffic light. Also obstructing the view to the east are signs and vehicles parked in a service station property. This intersection is one kilometre south of Grand Valley."

I have signed my signature to this petition.


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I have a petition addressed to the Parliament of Ontario which reads as follows:

"Whereas the current rate of unemployment in the construction industry in Ottawa-Carleton region is at a record level of 48%;

"Whereas Ontario-based construction workers and contractors encounter a great many regulations that effectively prohibit them from working in Quebec while construction workers and contractors based in Quebec encounter no such restrictions in Ontario;

"Whereas negotiations over the last number of years between various governments from Ontario and Quebec that were dedicated to eliminating barriers to labour mobility have failed to level the playing field for Ontario and Quebec workers;

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

"That the proposed Construction Workforce from Quebec Act tabled by Jean-Marc Lalonde, member for Prescott and Russell, on June 4 of this year to protect Ontario workers and contractors in the construction industry be adopted."

I have signed this petition.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : J'ai une pétition faisant affaire avec le contrôle des loyers, signée par environ 400 personnes de London, Sudbury, Niagara Falls, Windsor et Ottawa. La pétition lit telle que :

"A petition to the Ontario Legislature:

"Save rent control.

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

"Whereas to abolish rent control in favour of a market system would be disastrous for tenants and give further power and 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 necessary costs of supplying well-maintained and secure housing."

I have affixed my signature to that petition.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition forwarded to the member for Simcoe East and I'm presenting it today on his behalf. This petition concerns the request for an advance flashing light for left-hand turns on a street in Orillia. It's signed by approximately 180 constituents in the riding of Simcoe East, and I'm filing it today.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition from a number of people in St Catharines. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario promised not to cut one penny from health care; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has proceeded to cut over $1 billion of much-needed dollars from the community hospitals; and

"Whereas the people of St Catharines have come to rely upon the caring professional service provided by health caregivers at the General Hospital, the Shaver Hospital and the Hotel Dieu Hospital and who view this betrayal by the Mike Harris government as an attack on quality health care services in the Niagara region; and

"Whereas the residents of St Catharines do not accept the notion that any of its hospitals should be closed, because they are essential in order to maintain a caring and humane society;

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

"That the Ontario government keep their election promise and restore health care spending to the level at which they promised during the last election campaign so that all three St Catharines hospitals are able to continue to provide their much-needed and valuable services."

I affix my signature to this petition as I'm in full agreement with its contents.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a petition of 252 signatures from my riding of Dufferin-Peel. It's addressed to the Parliament of Ontario.

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of the bears killed in the spring are female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas 80% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of the bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring hunt;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear-hunting activities."

I have signed this petition.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a petition signed by a number of Ontario residents which is addressed to the Legislature of Ontario, and I'm going to read it as follows:

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

I agree with the contents of this petition and with the signatories, and I will lend my name to it.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a petition of 93 signatures from my riding of Dufferin-Peel. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has passed Bill C-68, An Act respecting firearms and other weapons; and

"Whereas we welcome real gun control and support those portions of Bill C-68 which provide tougher penalties for the criminal use of firearms, new offences related to firearms smuggling and trafficking and the ban on paramilitary weapons; and

"Whereas existing laws requiring the registration of handguns have done little to reduce the number of crimes committed with handguns or lower the volume of handguns smuggled into Canada; and

"Whereas the national gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will result in a massive misallocation of the limited resources available to law enforcement agencies, with no practical effect on the traffic of illegal firearms or the use of guns by violent criminals; and

"Whereas the gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will take police officers off the streets and involve them in bureaucracy other than fighting crime and will make the task of real gun control more difficult and dangerous for police officers;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the province of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to repeal from Bill C-68 those provisions for a compulsory registration of all firearms."

I support this petition and have so signed it.



Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): "Whereas the government of Mike Harris has broken its pre-election promise not to impose user fees on health care;

"Whereas the user fee imposed by the Harris government on prescription drugs is causing low-income seniors grave hardship;

"Whereas the vast majority of seniors have worked very hard and have paid taxes for decades;

"Whereas seniors are most concerned that this will be the beginning of more and more user fees on health care;

"We, the undersigned, totally oppose the Mike Harris prescription user fee for seniors and petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

"That the Mike Harris government place a moratorium on all health care user fees for seniors."

I affix my name to this petition.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 57, An Act to improve the Efficiency of the Environmental Approvals Process and Certain Other Matters / Projet de loi 57, Loi visant à améliorer l'efficience du processus d'autorisation environnementale et concernant certaines autres questions.

Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): I am delighted to have the opportunity today to speak in support of Bill 57. Before I do, however, I'd just like to say how good it is to be back in the House. This past summer was an opportunity for me, as I'm sure it was for many other members, to spend a considerable amount of my time in my riding high atop Hamilton Mountain, speaking with constituents in my office at Canada Day festivities and other events, to get their feedback on how they feel this government has been doing.

The overwhelming message I received from people is that whatever questions they may have about some of the issues this government is dealing with, they firmly believe we are on the right track. They are also very pleased that, unlike the two previous Liberal and NDP governments, we are doing exactly what we said we would do.

One of the things we said we would do is reduce red tape and help remove barriers to economic growth and investment. The problem of red tape was highlighted just last week in a report by the Fraser Institute, which looked at the extraordinarily high cost of regulation. This report estimated that regulatory compliance at all levels of government cost Canadians $85.7 billion -- that's $85.7 billion -- in 1993-94. Surely no one would say we don't need regulation. Of course we need regulation to protect our health and safety and our environment. But $85.7 billion is clearly a case of over-regulation and clearly a case of overkill. It is an astronomical cost that acts as a huge disincentive to investment, job creation and economic growth. We need economic investment in this province, we need further job creation in this province and we need economic growth in this province.

Another thing we said we would do is make government more administratively efficient and use taxpayers' money more wisely. Bill 57, which reforms the environmental approvals process among other things, is a very important initiative because it is in keeping with these promises. It is in line with this government's efforts to reduce the regulatory burden and to help remove barriers to economic growth and investment, and it makes wise use of government resources so that they are spent on real environmental problems. However, just as importantly, Bill 57 will accomplish these goals without -- and I emphasize "without" -- reducing environmental protection or lowering environmental standards.

The opposition will spend all their time this afternoon, as they did last Thursday afternoon, telling us how this bill will hurt the environment or how this is another example of how this government is gutting the environment. Nothing could be further from the truth of the matter. There is nothing in Bill 57 which affects environmental standards or which affects the Ministry of Environment's fundamental role in setting these standards and in seeing that these standards are met. Our environmental standards are tough and they will remain tough. We will as a government continue to enforce these tough standards.

But what's this bill really about? This bill is about reforming the current inefficient and costly approvals process that creates unnecessary red tape for business, industry and municipalities.

Let's be very clear about what Bill 57 is changing here. It is introducing an approved and more straightforward approvals process for certain activities with a predictable environmental impact. The minister used the example of restaurants and kitchen exhausts last week, and I believe that was a good example because it illustrates exactly what this Bill 57 is trying to remedy. If you think about the number of restaurants that set up shop in this province and the well-known environmental impact of kitchen exhaust, it seems to me that it doesn't make much sense for this government to go to each and every fish and chips shop at every corner and hold their hands while they set up their kitchen vents. Surely this government has many more important environmental concerns to deal with than this. Surely our resources should be focused where the environmental need is the greatest. Surely we have more important environmental battles to fight.

For those persons concerned with the question of what activities will be included in the new standardized approvals process, the minister has made it clear that there will be full consultation before this is done. The ministry will listen to all stakeholders before defining the environmental activities which are to be included in the new standardized approvals process.

I don't really see what is wrong with the objectives of this bill. What's wrong with making regulations more efficient and less costly? Surely we want regulations that are clear, precise, effective, administratively efficient and not costly to administer. Surely no one can disagree with that objective.

Bill 57 will also save taxpayers' money by winding down the Environmental Compensation Corp. While costing taxpayers almost $3 million to run over the past decade, the ECC has only paid out about $690,000. Once again, this does not appear to me to be a very wise use of taxpayers' dollars, but that's not surprising. The previous Liberal and NDP governments were not exactly in the habit of using taxpayers' money wisely. Again I wonder, and I've wondered before, if they're as liberal with their own money as they are with the taxpayers' money.

I know there has been significant concern over how compensation will be paid out. Under the current law, companies are liable for any spills they are involved in. Bill 57 does not change that. Companies are still liable for any spills, and compensation will be available through the courts system.

Bill 57 also introduces user fees, as the minister described last week in the House. This also was a long time coming.

It doesn't make sense for this government to spend $1 million a year subsidizing the waste and generator industries. They don't need it and Ontario taxpayers don't need it.

I believe the minister said two things in his speech to the House last week which bear repeating. The minister said that we must focus on results instead of process. Process is important, but only when it is connected to results. We can have the most elaborate processes for environmental protection while at the same time achieving less than adequate results. Our goal should be to have processes for environmental protection that directly tie into results. That only makes sense.

The minister also mentioned the word "balance." I think that some people, perhaps a few of the members across the way, think "balance" is a bad word. As a member of this House, I believe that balance is a positive word and that legislation passed in this House should be characterized by balance. I also believe that Bill 57 is a balanced bill that will get rid of those unnecessary regulatory processes that have little to do with serious environmental protection and everything to do with inefficiency and costliness.

In closing, I believe we can achieve a balance between effective environmental protection and a growing, healthy economy. I believe that Bill 57 is a step in achieving this balance.

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

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): In response to the member for Hamilton Mountain, I can appreciate his comments. However, I would like to point out a couple of very important areas where this particular bill, the way it is, will not accomplish what it's proposed to do, and that is to create a balance, or a fair balance.

It does not create a fair balance when you are going to chop down the resources. You're chopping down the people who are supposed to be doing the work that the ministry is supposed to be doing. You're passing this along to the local municipalities, and of course, local municipalities don't have those resources. So really, how are they going to do that? With all due respect to the member who says job creation, this is taking jobs away. It is not creating more jobs. How are you going to create more jobs? Even though you're saving $5.7 million, there is no excuse to save $5.7 million at the expense of the environment. Once you dispose of those things that have been put in place to safeguard and protect the environment, the $5.7 million, with all due respect, is really a drop in the bucket.


When we're speaking of process and result according to the process, we are not saying that things shouldn't be improving and cut some of the red tape, but not at the expense of the environment. So I can appreciate what the member is saying. I hope that this, as he said, will go for public consultation, for public input, and then come back. I do hope that the Premier, the minister, the members on the government side will seriously take into consideration the views of the people out there, who I'm sure, when given the opportunity, will be speaking truly against the majority of this proposed bill.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): To the member opposite and his speech on this particular bill, Bill 57, it amazes me somewhat to watch government members enter this House with their prewritten speeches on the part of the spin masters of the Premier's office and the cabinet office, because time after time when legislation comes in, I've rarely seen an occasion where members of this House have stood in this House from the government benches and actually spoke on a bill from the perspective of their constituents, the people they're here to represent. What I heard -- except for Mr Arnott, I do stand corrected, and Morley Kells is another, but en masse, most of those backbenchers are trying to run as quickly as they can to the front benches or to be pulled into the cabinet and they figure the rule to do that is to read the spin that you're being given by these people. That's not what you're here for. I don't mean to preach, but you are here to represent your constituents.

I know for a fact that the member opposite who just gave this speech has had constituents come to him, because they've also talked to me, about their concerns about what this particular bill has to do. In sake of that argument, you talked about the environmental --


Mr Bisson: I have my own member heckling me here. The member talks about the Environmental Compensation Corp as being dissolved and you talk about how they only paid out some $600 million but they spent $3 million over the period of time that that corporation was in place. You fail to recognize the people who were affected and the people quite frankly who could have never got their day in court if it had not been for that particular fund.

The member comes in here, gives a speech written by the cabinet office and doesn't take into account what this means to his constituents. What it means clearly is this: If one of your constituents ends up in a situation where there is a gas spill and your constituent has to go to court, if he or she doesn't have the bucks, there's not a prayer that they're going to be able to get their fair day in court because that particular fund will not give them the money that they need to be able to hire lawyers. Most people don't have the opportunity to do that.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): First, I'd like to compliment the member for Hamilton Mountain on just an excellent speech, an excellent presentation on this bill. I'm frankly disappointed in the member for Cochrane South making reference to using a properly prepared speech. I'd compliment him on staying on topic. This is something that the opposition's had a lot of difficulty with in their presentations. We heard a 90-minute speech yesterday from the NDP critic and it was only about five minutes on Bill 57. The rest of the 85 minutes was on anything and everything except having to do with Bill 57. That's quite disappointing. I have stood in this place asking them to come back to the topic and certainly I compliment you for doing the same -- bringing them back on topic to things such as Bill 57.

The other thing I was disappointed in hearing last Thursday was they were making reference to the 800 number, which I commented in my presentation. I'm rather surprised that members of the NDP wouldn't have understood that 1-800-667-9979 happened to be the number that they brought in with their Environmental Bill of Rights registry. They didn't even recognize the number and they were making fun of it, the number that they brought in.

I just might comment. There are many ways of getting into the Environmental Bill of Rights. You can go in by modem, by Internet or the World Wide Web and get information about what's going on, what we're putting in there on bills such as Bill 57 and also on the regulatory reform that we're actively involved with.

I have instructions for accessing the environmental registry. If you'd care, I can send it over to you, if you're interested, other than just making fun of the 800 number. It would be quite beneficial if you really wanted to look in and find out about Bill 57 so you can be on topic in the future.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? If not, the member for Hamilton Mountain, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Pettit: I appreciate the chance to respond. I think that the member for Northumberland said everything there was that needed to be said to the member for Cochrane South. I was hoping that the member for Hamilton Centre and the member for Riverdale would be here today because I wanted to assure them that despite everything they'd say, I want them to know that I for one have listened intently to each of their speeches on Bill 57 and I want them to know that I deeply respect their thoughts on this bill and the other bills that they've spoken to, because I know that both of them are deeply committed to their cause and that they speak from their heart.

Unfortunately, sometimes speech from the heart is overwhelmed by empty rhetoric and unsubstantiated bafflegab and I believe that this is the case here. There is nothing in Bill 57 that will reduce environmental protection or lower environmental standards, despite the fearmongering and the non-fact-based arguments of the opposition.

Not only have I listened to their speeches here in the House, but I was also present to hear the member for Riverdale speak on many occasions during the summer during our committee travel throughout the province. Then, as now, the main thrust of their arguments is that there's nothing wrong with the status quo, everything's okay, no changes needed. Everything they did while they were in government was perfect; there's no need to revamp anything.

Isn't that convenient? What's missing here are any viable alternatives or any form of reasonable constructive criticism. Instead, all we hear is constant fearmongering and slamming everything the government has done or is doing.

I say to the members opposite, the status quo is not acceptable to me. It's not acceptable to the majority of Ontarians who gave us a mandate to make change, to become more cost-efficient and to reduce the role government plays in all of our lives. So it seems that this message still hasn't sunk in across the floor as yet and I hope it will soon. Be a part of the solution.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate.

Mr Sergio: I rise to participate in the discussion on Bill 57 and I want to take a few minutes. I won't be too, too long, because I will be repeating some of the concerns that have been expressed from members on this side of the House, and that is serious concern with the content of the bill.

Let me say first that in many, many ways Bill 57 is very similar to the intent, if not the content, of Bill 52. While Bill 57 portrays to improve the efficiency of the environmental approvals process and other matters, Bill 52 is also an act to promote resource development, conservation and environmental protection through the streamlining process.

We have just heard from one of the last speakers in there to have the opposition come up with something serious, concrete and not perhaps to badger the government side. As the speaker was himself saying, that they are doing exactly what they told the people of Ontario they would be doing, I have to say to them, look at your own documentation and then you tell this House, you tell the people of Ontario if you are doing what you told them you were going to do.

I have to say, with all due respect, that in every documentation that the government has put forward so far, there is absolutely nothing which addresses either in terms of one or two lines with respect to the protection of the environment. There is nothing in the so-called Common Sense Revolution. There was absolutely nothing in the speech from the throne. There is absolutely nothing in the Ontario budget, which came down on May 7, 1996. I wonder where we get this protection of our environment. The only thing we get is diluting whatever protection we have with respect to the environmental laws so far.


I have to tell the government, because it will be making the final decision, that you can't have more resources with fewer resources. It comes down to that; nothing more, nothing less. What the government is doing with these two particular bills, 52 and 57, is exactly that. They are depleting whatever resources we have to safeguard the environment as we know it today. They are chopping millions of dollars, they are chopping staff all over the place and they are passing the buck to the municipalities and saying, "You do it for us." We know that with something as sensitive as the environment this is not something you can rely upon the municipalities for, not because they are incapable, but because they don't have the financial resources and the manpower to deal with all the many variety of issues and facets the environment imposes upon us. What's happening then? What we see is a government that is truly giving away its responsibility in an area where it should be doing more. They should be getting more involved.

I was fortunate enough to spend two days at a hearing on one of these two bills. This comes from the regional government in Niagara; this is what they were saying at that particular hearing. This bill was brought about primarily in response to the restructuring and significant downsizing of the Ministry of Natural Resources non-renewable resources program; not more, not less. They are restructuring, they are downsizing, they are cutting down at the expense of the environment. It continues, "The ministry appears to be abandoning its public role and placing it in the hands of the private sector." There it is -- how can we forget? -- putting it in the hands of the private sector. Isn't it nice that with something as valuable as the environment, the government says, in order to downsize, to cut millions here and there to give to whoever they may be down the road, probably the big ones on Bay Street, "Let's privatize it and let's leave the environmental issues and protection to the private sector"?

Is it possible that we've become so -- how should I say it without offending the government side? -- irresponsible that even on such a matter that affects every one in the province -- and even out of the province because the effects of what we do in Ontario may be felt beyond our borders -- we are saying that to do some restructuring for the benefit of the government side we are going to leave this in the hands of the private sector? The government will no longer be involved in the review of site-specific applications, monitoring for compliance and doing annual inspections. It will no longer collect various fees such as licence and rehabilitation security deposits. The new focus, the ministry tells us, will be on policy development, the setting and enforcement of standards and licence conditions, and the approval of licences and permits. Their effectiveness in this area we suspect will depend on the number of provincially accountable inspectors, policy advisers and other specialists who are still employed after the province's downsizing has ended.

This is what people out there, this is what agencies out there are telling us. This is what agencies, long-standing Ontario agencies, are telling the government: "Don't do it. Don't leave it to the private sector." It says that the ministry would no longer be on the front line to solve complaints on behalf of people in Ontario. This is too important to let go, because it says: "The proposed legislative changes arise from major restructuring and downsizing exercises of the province. In essence, the ministry, with fewer people, will be retreating from its visible public role by shifting major responsibility to the industry to self-monitor and to deal with public complaints."

How are we going to do that? Let me ask the Premier. Let me ask the minister. How are we going to deal with public concern when we're turning the responsibility over to the private sector? I am not implying that companies in the private sector will not be able to do a good job, but we know for a fact that there are many good companies and that there are other companies that are totally inefficient, totally uncaring towards the environment in Ontario, totally uncaring in dealing with complaints from the general public. This is not a role where the government should abandon its responsibility and leave it solely, totally to the hands of the private sector.

With fewer inspectors available, it is possible that there may be an increase in unlicensed operations around Ontario. Isn't it a fact that if we were to leave it in the hands of the private sector this indeed may be the case? In our view, the changes significantly reduce the substance of the act and raise a considerable amount of uncertainty. Who can disagree with that? Who can disagree with this assertion coming from another Ontario agency to the government to tell the government, "Do not change it, don't turn it into the hands of the private sector, because for every good operator there is a bad one out there"?

We are dealing with the environment. We are not dealing solely with the issuing of a particular licence. The government says, "It's too expensive to deal with so let's turn it over to a small agency." This is a global thing. We are dealing with the environment throughout Ontario, which affects every one, every person -- old, young -- in our province.

I give you some notes from one of the many people we heard throughout the hearings in Ontario. As a matter of fact, when we were in Milton, which is not too far away from where we are, just to show you how people are concerned with the environment, we had people who travelled from all the area in southwestern Ontario. You may think it's a very small affair to be concerned with, but how would you deal with a serious concern, a serious complaint, from long-standing residents of Ontario where a gravel pit has been established next door to this long-established Ontario family and now they are suffering the consequences? You know what? After a year and a half, this particular family cannot get any support, cannot get any protection and it is subject day and night to the abuses of the environment under which now they are forced to live -- another particular case why we should not. I would second the intent of this presentation here from regional Niagara.


We had another lady who said, "Look, there is a gravel pit; there are industrial factories; there is a school next to it. It's a very narrow road. How can you allow this to continue? You are not offering us any protection with respect to dust from morning until night, including weekends." Talk about being controlled. Inspectors, think of that. Those people have a right to live in those rural communities in peace. Imagine that some mothers or fathers have to stay home because they have to drive the kids past that particular situation because of the totally unacceptable conditions we are imposing on that particular community.

We heard from one of the local abutting municipalities, the mayor of the town, in fact -- I'm not going to mention the name -- expressing a countless number of concerns with respect to the environment. There are concerns out there, but the government wants to hear some concrete evidence as to why, and when you're talking of accountability, we are saying this is not the area that we should abolish our responsibility. We should be more visible out there.

When I hear members of the government side say that all of this can be accomplished without curtailing the protection, the standards of preserving our environment -- well, my goodness, how are you going to accomplish all of that? You're firing half of the people, you're chopping millions of dollars. How are you going to do exactly what you said you were going to do, protect the environment, enhance protection of the environment, when you're doing exactly that? You say you want to create a balance, you want to create a better deal. This is not the way of doing it. I'm sorry, this is totally not the way of doing it.

The main intent of the bill was to create a standardized approval process. It should be very simple for members of the government side to understand that once you bring down, once you reduce the standards that we now have, we have less standards. Isn't that clear? Once you eliminate standards that we now have in place to protect the environment, we will have less standards.

But the government side is saying, "We want to have the bare minimum of standards so we can create jobs." You know the problem with this? There will be hardly anyone left very soon in Ontario where they're going to believe the Conservatives, the government side, the Premier, the minister, because up to now they did not deliver on their promises; they absolutely did not deliver on their promises. This is an area where they do not believe the government on keeping their promise. This is one area where they can see clearly that the government will not protect the people, will not protect the environment. When you tell the people of Ontario that the only reason you're introducing this bill is to reduce the standards to their bare minimum, I have a problem; I think on this side of the House we have a problem; I think the people of Ontario have a serious problem in believing that what they are saying can be accomplished bringing the standards to the bare minimum. I have a serious problem with that. Not only that, but they're also saying, "In doing that, we are going to save money, we are going to create jobs and we are going to safeguard the environment." Is this what they said they were going to deliver? I don't think so. I really don't think so.

If it is something that they tend to perhaps get fat on this particular saying, it is that they will be doing more with less. I'd like to challenge you, Mr Minister, I'd like to challenge the Premier and I'd like to challenge every member of the government side to show me in this particular bill how you are going to accomplish that, because it's not in here. It's not in this particular bill here. You tell the House and you tell the people of Ontario how you're going to do better for less. There is absolutely nothing in here with respect to doing better for the environment with less. It is not in Bill 57.

The other reason they said is, "We're going to bring this bill because we want to bring efficiency" -- efficiency -- "to government." If there is an area that the government is totally turning a blind eye, let alone a number of other things -- otherwise I will deviate from what's in front of us and I may be accused that I will be speaking about the unkept promises, so I will try and spend my time solely dealing with Bill 57 and the environmental protection. So let me say that while this particular bill creates some new standards, which means taking away some of the standards that we now enjoy and bringing in new ones, it really does skin practically to the bones the laws as we have them now in trying to protect the environment.

The bill will try to create a standardized approval which will allow the minister, through regulation, to exempt. This is the essence of the bill. I do hope the members seriously will support sending this bill for public hearings, and hopefully by then we can come back and they will be doing exactly what they are saying they're doing: "We want to listen to the people." I'll get to that, listening to the people, in a minute.

The regulation would exempt persons, would exempt activities, things, contaminants, substances, waste material, spills or other matters from requiring a certificate of approval under the Environmental Protection Act or under the Ontario Water Resources Act. Now, can you imagine that, relinquishing all of that authority where presently certificates of approval are required to be issued by the MOEE for a wide range of potentially environmentally harmful activities? What the government is willing to do is totally turn a blind eye when it comes to licensing some of the most important concerns with respect to the environment. But they said: "Don't worry about it. We're going to turn it over to the private sector and they can deal with it. We're going to turn it over to the private sector and the private sector will take care of it."

They keep on telling us, "We are going to listen to the people." The fact is that they have been saying that. Yes, if there is something that I have to agree with them on, it is that, yes, they did say they are going to listen to the people. But that's where it ends. That's where it ends, because they may be saying, "We are going to listen to the people," and then they are doing exactly the opposite and doing what they want. If they would listen to the people and do what the people are saying, I'm sure they wouldn't even introduce this particular bill. They wouldn't even introduce Bill 52. Then the government side has the gall to say: "You know what? This is your Ontario. Hey, hey, this is your Ontario. This is your choice. We'll do whatever you say."


Isn't that nice? The people have been saying: "We don't want this particular bill brought in. It's no good for Ontario, no good for the people of Ontario." But they say: "No, no, we are in government. This is what we're going to be doing." Once they have heard the people, the Premier gives the orders and he says: "We are going to cut here, we are going to cut there. We're going to do it because we've got to do it." Didn't they say, "We are going to listen to the people"? Didn't they say: "We are not going to cut funds for education; we are not going to cut the hospitals and other areas"? Now they are saying, "We are going to improve the environment with less resources, with less people, with less money."

Having done all that, the Premier has the gall to still come with, I believe it's the fourth document in a year, some document -- perhaps it's coming from south of the border, I think he brings some connotation of Mississippi, Michigan, Minnesota and other states there.

The Premier says he's listening to the people. This commitment to use of a referendum -- now he wants to use a referendum. Can you believe that? He wants to bring in a referendum. He wants to listen to the people. Then he says, "Yes, once you to tell us, we're going to do what we want." This is a joke. I mean, come on.

I have to tell the Premier and I have to tell the minister, do not offend the intelligence of the people in Ontario. After what you told them you were going to do, you're doing the opposite. Don't come with Bill 57 and say, "We are going to do more for less." Do not insult the intelligence of the members in the House and the people out there. You say, "We're going to do what the people want and to prove it to you, we're going to do it by referenda." If you're so serious, Mr Premier, then why don't you call a referendum on a 30% rebate and see what the people have to say? Why don't you do that?

What you're saying is, "This commitment to use of the referendum was and is consistent with the overall objectives of our Ontario government." This is the first time I heard this, that the Premier had in mind to call a referendum on chopping funds for hospitals. He never did. Did you see a referendum? Did you? You didn't.

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): We passed legislation --

Mr Sergio: Oh, sure. You passed legislation, exactly that. You told the people of Ontario you were not going to cut education, but you passed legislation exactly that. Where was the referendum? Where was the consultation with the people of Ontario? You said you were not going to cut even one penny from the health system. How many millions did you cut?

Mr Clement: Added $300 million.

Mr Sergio: You cut $1.3 billion and now you want a referendum here consistent with the views of the government. I think you people are wonderful. You are wonderful. But you know what? It's all coming down to reality. You cannot fool the people of Ontario all the time. You fooled them once. You fooled them some of the time, but no more, not all the time. This is consistent. It's really consistent with the actions of this government and the actions of the Premier and their objectives, "namely, to improve accountability, reinvigorate Ontario's economy, and generally re-establish" -- re-establish; that's a new word -- "credibility for the institutions of government in Ontario society."

Ah, what an affront. What an affront to those agencies, to the people of Ontario. After you have decimated those agencies, you have attacked the poor, school kids, single mothers, the old folks, you're saying you want to bring credibility and accountability to those agencies and the government in Ontario?

My time is coming to a close and I can only reiterate some of the things I have already said. I hope that this will go for public scrutiny. I hope the people of Ontario will get a chance to see exactly the content of Bill 57. They will find out that the protection that is in Bill 57 -- when it comes to the environment, it is not there.

I have to tell the Premier and the minister, this is not what you told the people of Ontario. This is not what you told this House. The thing is that we would be on your side supporting you if you were to do exactly what you told the people of Ontario you were going to do. Until then, we certainly can't side with the content of this bill. We can't support the content of this bill, because it does absolutely nothing to enhance, let alone protect, what we now have.

I will terminate my presentation on these remarks. I hope the government will truly go out and listen to the people and then bring their views, bring their intentions, not turn them back but put them to good use and into consideration in this House.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Bisson: I'd like to comment on the member for Yorkview and his speech. I think the point you make in the end where you're saying that this government is doing nothing to add, nothing to strengthen, nothing trying to protect the environment and such is well taken. What basically this government is all about is creating an environment solely for the purpose of business and not looking at the balance between the need to protect our environment not only for environmental terms because we want to be able to enjoy the environment in the future but also for economic terms.

This government says, as they did under Bill 26 when they made the changes to the environmental regulations that deal with mining, as they're doing in Bill 57 and as they've done in a number of other measures, that they are putting before the environment the interests of money. They are saying that money is more important than the environment. They are saying that the pursuit of money is the goal for all and not the need to be able to balance off the environment.

Members in the opposition, as the member for Yorkview is saying, are being told by the government members that our view is one that's against the economy, one that's the status quo, one that doesn't believe any changes should happen -- not at all the case. When we were government as New Democrats, we did a number of changes in environmental regulation that dealt with the issues of red tape. I agree with the Conservative members on that one issue. There are examples within environmental legislation, as there are, I believe, in a lot of legislation, where we have found -- Bill 208 under the Environmental Protection Act, where we as a government made changes that basically dealt with the mining sector in regard to liability of past holders of property.

I believe, with the government, that there needs to be some attempt to deal with how we modernize our legislation. How do we make sure the legislation indeed does what we set it out to do when the legislation was first put in place by whatever government? But that's not what you're doing. Be clear. You are here fulfilling a campaign slogan of trying to be able to create jobs, when really what you're doing is trying to do the bidding of big business. You're making the rules suit their needs, not the needs of the people and the environment.

Mr Galt: It was interesting to hear the presentation made by the member for Yorkview and also the response from the member for Cochrane South. They keep supporting each other. I really don't know why we have two opposition parties. They're so supportive of each other, they might just as well amalgamate and get together and just have one opposition party, because it's just repetitive of the same thing.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): You did the same thing with Reform.

The Acting Speaker: Order.


Mr Galt: The member for Yorkview was commenting on the concerns the public has about the environment, and certainly there are a lot of concerns out there. They want the environment protected and they're concerned about the kind of process that's out there to try and protect the environment. The other day I mentioned PCBs and the processes we can get on with in treating and reducing PCBs in water -- hydrochloric acid, methane -- but it's a process; it's the cumbersome regulations out there that impede progress.

There was a reference made to exemptions. If I were to upset this glass of water right now I would have to report that spill, according to today's legislation. It might do some harm to the environment. You think that's a silly reference. Read the legislation. That's how it reads. You should be getting a certificate of approval for your bathroom fan, according to the legislation. It's presently being exempted. Exemptions are already being looked after by everyday activity. Consequently, don't be surprised about exemptions; they are there.

What about fans in livestock barns? Should those have certificates of approval? I think we have to be a little bit practical in how we go about addressing some of the issues, and that's why we're bringing in standardized approvals, and with those we will put in place specific regulations. Presently there are a lot of areas where you get certificates of approval. There are no regulations.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I compliment the member for Yorkview for a very good speech. I think he was able to determine what this legislation is all about and the ramifications for the province.

I want to ask him, if he gets a chance in his response, if he believes that the problem is not the legislation in and of itself but the fact that the government is also tampering with the Environmental Assessment Act to make it easier, for those who wish to develop, to get their developments through quickly and without much resistance or comment from government; or whether he is concerned about the changes to the Planning Act, which thrusts back to municipalities, which are already forced to cut staff, the job of dealing in a very shortened period of time with proposals for development which come before them, whether he sees that also as being a reason for concern when this legislation is brought forward; or whether he is concerned about the fact that the government has turfed from the Niagara Escarpment Commission five or six individuals who, when appointed, were determined to maintain the Niagara Escarpment in its present form -- award-winning, recognized internationally by the United Nations; whether he is concerned about the fact that the government has dropped the program now of naming the top 10 polluters in the province, a program which isolated violators -- of course, those who are not violators I think would be supportive of this, because it would contrast their environmental record with the bad actors; or whether he is concerned about the new policies option paper that appears to be floating around, designed once again to weaken environmental rules and regulations, water down past legislation and deregulate to a point where the environment is going to be damaged for the present and well into the future.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Yorkview, you have two minutes.

Mr Sergio: I wish to thank the members from the NDP side and the government side, and my colleague from St Catharines. Let me say especially to the member on the government side that the way it is today, if you spill a glass of water and you have to report it, you've got somebody there to listen to and report it to. The problem is, with the process you want to follow, that if you commit an offence, you may not have anyone to go to and take action accordingly.

In response to my colleague the member for St Catharines, sometimes we wish we had more time to mention the various points that may concern us. One major concern I have and that people out there have is destreamlining -- not streamlining -- the planning process. When you deal with the Niagara Escarpment, when you deal with environmental assessment practically being washed away, practically being eliminated to accommodate development in those sensitive areas, that is the big concern; that is the biggest concern. With respect to the actions contained in the new policy action paper, it's a serious concern over there. I think the members on the government side should seriously take that into consideration.

The assessment act is a good one that protects many of those environmental issues that my colleague has mentioned before. We went through a very long process to establish the escarpment and the protection for the escarpment, and what we see now is the laissez-faire attitude of this government, saying: "You want to come in? Come and see us. Here it is. We'll let you do it." I'm sorry; this is not what the government should be doing with respect to our environment.

Mr Bisson: I want to take this opportunity to make specific comments to Bill 57, this act that primarily does two things. Before doing so, I just want to make this comment. I think one of the things that anyone in this House does as a member -- and, I would say, a person interested in whatever legislation this House is dealing with -- is normally ask themselves one question when looking at a bill, and I think it's the question that we have to ask at this point, and that is, who benefits? Who in the end, when Bill 57 is passed into law, will be the winners and who will be the losers? That's the approach I would like to take in being able to set out what this bill does, because primarily it does two things. Again, I ask people, I ask the members of the government and the members of the opposition listening, to keep that in mind. Ask yourself the simple question: Who will benefit when Bill 57 becomes law?

The bill does basically two things. It makes amendments to the Environmental Protection Act and to the Ontario Water Resources Act. In short, it eliminates the need to get certificates of approval on the part of certain classes of business when it comes to their operations. The other thing the bill does is it eliminates the Environmental Compensation Corp, and I'll start with that as the latter and come back to the first one.

Let's look at what we're going to be doing here when passing Bill 57, because in the end the government has the majority number of seats in this House and it will do what it will do. We in the opposition, our role in this is to try to be able to point out to the government what we think are some of the weaknesses of the legislation, or strengths, as they may apply.

On the question of the Environmental Compensation Corp and the elimination of that, I say the government should really rethink what it's doing here. They need to take a look at who is going to be affected in the end in this attempt to be able to save -- we hear the numbers being bandied around that it's spent over a period of four or five years close to $700,000 in claims and it cost about $3 million to operate. The government says it's going to eliminate this because that was a waste of taxpayers' dollars and it didn't need to be done.

What was the Environmental Compensation Corp all about? Ask yourself that question. It was there for a very simple reason. It was there for people who were affected by spills in local municipalities. If you were the neighbour of a gas station, as a good example, and that gas station happened to leak gas on to your property, into the basement of your house or on to your property, and there were damages and you didn't have money to go to court and to pay for the high-priced lawyers that you need to get to be able to fight this kind of litigation in court, you had an avenue that you were able to pursue to get your justice if you were trying to get it: You made an application at the Environmental Compensation Corp. It reviewed your case. Yes, that costs money because you have to have lawyers take a look at the case. You have to have the people who are knowledgeable about the issues of handling gas etc and about the very various laws look at it and say, "Is this just an attempt on the part of a person to make criticism of a situation, or does that person really have an issue here where he or she has been severely affected or adversely affected by an action of an owner of a gas station?" in that particular case.

So yes, the applicant would make the application, the person who was in this case the plaintiff, and you would end up making an application at the Environmental Compensation Corp for dollars to offset some of your legal fees to go to court. That's what it did, and never did the Environmental Compensation Corp pay huge sums of money. It was never intended to do that. It wasn't there to say this is a lottery by which people who are affected negatively by gas spills can go to it and hope they're able to recoup their losses to an entirety. That's not what it was there for. That's what the courts are for. But the ECC was there for the main purpose of helping the little guy who doesn't have the dollars to be able to hire high-priced lawyers, hire some of the best firms in this province to represent him before multinational companies which are the perpetrators, in this case, of the spill. If it happened to be Esso or Gulf or Shell Oil or whoever it might be, those people have lots of bucks. They have lawyers on staff. They have on staff the kinds of resources they need to be able to fight their liability when it comes to the spill. But the plaintiff in this case, Joe or John or Jane Public, doesn't have those kinds of dollars in many cases, and that's who you're cutting off.


Why don't you be clear? You're saying, "I'm going to do something that's going to reward my corporate friends, those people with lots of money, and the little people be damned. We're going to give them nothing." Shame on you as a Conservative government that you would come into this House and take away the measly amount of money that it cost over the period of years, some $600,000 that was able to give some people in this province the opportunity for justice.

I know of three cases, when I was a member in government, where people made applications to that particular fund to be able to have their day in court. I know of a case in Timmins, I know of a case in Kirkland Lake and I know of a case in Ottawa. In all of those cases, those people did not have the dollars to go out and hire a lawyer in their own right. They didn't have the bucks to do it. How do I know that? Two reasons: One, as a member I was proactive, and many people came to me, not only from my own constituency. As a government member, you would know, you get calls from other ridings. But also, it hit home. One of those people was my own father. He was involved where there was a gas station next to him that spilled gas into his basement. As a consequence, my mom and dad were thrown out of their house in the middle of the night and they never got the house back for six years.

This is what you guys are doing. You're saying to people like that and other people across the province who were affected: "If you're trying to get your day in court, if you need the dollars to be able to go to court to fight Shell Oil or to fight any large multinational gas corporation, the heck with you. This Conservative government turns its back on you." That's what you're doing. Why don't you be clear about it?

So I ask the question, who benefits? Who benefits by taking away the ECC?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Shell Oil.

Mr Bisson: It's Shell Oil, as my friend Tony Martin says. It's the large oil companies that don't want to have the cost of litigating some of these cases where they're the people who have the liability. That's who benefits. The little guy, again, gets it in the ear, and you have the gall to run around in this province in 1995 and since then and say you're trying to do nice things for people? The only thing you're doing for anybody, you're doing on behalf of your corporate masters in the boardrooms of Bay Street and Wall Street, and you're turning your backs on the working men and women of this province, the people who need government the most. That's what you're doing. Be clear. That's what you're up to.

When this government comes into this House and says, as I heard the government members say, "This is just a matter of red tape; we're trying to fix a couple of little problems," be clear. You're doing as you always do. The corporation pulls the strings. You've got Michael Harris at the other end with his cabinet, and you're doing their bidding. That's what you're up to.

I see the ministry people in the enclave nodding their heads in the affirmative. They don't like seeing this go as well as I don't.

In this particular case, in the second part of the bill, by eliminating the Environmental Compensation Corp, what are you doing? Who benefits? Who benefits, clearly, are the large corporations, and the little guy gets it in the ear.

The second thing you're doing is that in the other major part of this legislation, under Bill 57, you have the amendments to the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act. Again you have to ask yourself the question: Who benefits? Who in the end is going to be the winner and who will be the loser? Ask yourself the question. And again it's the same story; it's the same picture. Somebody in the corporate boardrooms of Wall Street or Bay Street goes, "Pull the string," Mike Harris jumps up and down along with his ministers, and they scurry into the cabinet office to make changes to environmental regulation that will do what? What is this legislation going to do? It's going to say, "Certain classes of business in the province of Ontario don't need to have, in any way, shape or form, a certificate of approval, one approving that business to do business in the province of Ontario." And the government has the gall to come in here and say: "This is only red tape. These are only minor changes to the legislation so we can allow business to operate more effectively and things can go better in the province of Ontario from a business perspective."

You tell me how removing the certificate of approval process for a company that makes paint in a plant in Ontario is going to benefit the people of this province. It might benefit C-I-L, it might benefit DuPont, it might benefit one of the multinationals that operate those kinds of plants, but what would it do for the people who live around that plant, who have to live with the danger of working around chemicals?

Mr Martin: It will kill them.

Mr Bisson: I'm sure members don't have this in mind when they put the legislation in, but we know in cases where there are chemicals being handled in plants such as that, there are extreme dangers. That's why the people of this province and the people of this country entrust their politicians and their governments to protect their rights, not just the rights of Bay Street or Wall Street.

Mr Martin: They're looking after their own rights. They can look after their own rights.

Mr Bisson: Exactly. The member for Sault Ste Marie says they have the dollars to look after their own rights and they have their own money to protect themselves. They certainly do. The larger corporations have batteries of lawyers; they have rooms full of people. That's all they do: they sit there and they look at laws and they look at what's going on and they say, "How can I protect the interests of my company?" They have huge budgets to be able to do that. But Jane and Joe Public don't. That's why they elect governments; that's what government is about. It's not about protecting the interests of C-I-L or DuPont. Yes, they need to be given a climate in which they can operate and do business effectively in this province. I haven't got an argument with you on that. But we need to make sure that the government protects the little guy, that the person --

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): What's the name of that mine in your riding?

Mr Bisson: I'll get to mining in a second, but the question is, who's going to protect them? This bill, simply put, cutting to the chase and not getting into all the details, says if you're a certain class of company, you will have the right to have the government exempt you from a certificate of approval process.

The government says, "Well, there is other environmental legislation that is broader that will deal with protecting the public when it comes to those particular plants or those particular businesses that are exempted." The first problem is that the exemption is so vast it's unclear about who you're going to be able to exempt. There are people who made submissions who know this far more than I do who came before the committee of this Legislature and said, "This is not about just mom and pop's dry cleaner around the corner," or, as the member for Northumberland said, the chip stand. It could exempt companies such as paint manufacturers. That's pretty serious business.

What you're doing is you're saying first of all the exemption is way too broad, you're not defining it, so I'll put that one to rest, but you're saying, "It doesn't matter, because we have other environmental legislation in this province and we have a Ministry of Environment to be able to safeguard the rights of the individuals who live around those plants who may be adversely affected by pollution coming from those plants." What's the problem with that? You guys are cutting half of the legislation that these people are protected under, under that broader legislation.

You already did it under Bill 26 when it comes to mining. The member talks about mining; exactly. What you did under Bill 26 is you made them a self-regulatory sector when it comes to certain matters of the environment. At this point we haven't had a problem, but I'll tell you, if you end up having some of the situations develop such as we've had in Matachewan or we had at Kamiskotia Lake or other areas, we have a real potentially big problem on our hands. Who in the end is going to pick up the tab? Is it going to be the large company? No. It's going to be the little guy, through his taxes, having to pay for the cleanup of the environmental disaster. They're all over this province. Go and take a look. You say that you're doing this on behalf of the people of Ontario. This is on behalf of the boardrooms of the province of Ontario, of Canada and of multinationals. That's what this legislation is about. It does absolutely nothing to deal with the questions of being able to deal with the rights of the individuals.

You're coupling all of this with the mass deregulation of environmental regulations across this province. The member opposite, I heard him say a little while ago, "We need to do this because it's a matter of just clearing out the red tape and making things better for business." Listen, I'm all for being able to try to find reasonable ways to be able to make sure that corporations and small businesses are not adversely affected by legislation that doesn't work well or is more onerous than it needs to be. When we were in government, as New Democrats, we did a number of examples.

I looked at the member for Sudbury East coming in, who was the Minister of Mines under Bill 208. There was a problem with Bill 208 as it applied to mining lands in that in regard to the way the bill was written, there was a danger that if you were a current owner of a mining property and there was damage done previously by another owner, you would end up picking up the liability. Our government fixed that. But we didn't try to hide behind, "We're fixing red tape and we want to make things better for the private sector," and then go around and take away their liabilities. We said to the mining companies, "You are going to be responsible for your negligence, and if you do something that's contrary to good mining practices and you do something that's contrary to dealing with the environment in a safe way, you will be punished." We didn't say, "We're going to exempt you," but this is what you guys are doing.


Again when we were government, again under the Minister of Northern Development and Mines -- and I would say a far better one than we have now -- the former minister, Shelley Martel, dealt with the question of a one-window approach to permitting. You talk about red tape. We as a government, as New Democrats, said, "We hear the mining sector." When the mining sector came to us and they said, "Listen, I want to get a work permit to be able to go out and do work in the bush on a particular claim," they had to go to three, four different ministries to be able to get their permits. We said: "We agree with you. That's nuts. We've got to change that because certainly that is not good for business and that's not good for government, because we spend more money than we need to, and how is the interest of the public being preserved or protected?" It had nothing to do with that. We said, "Fine; let's sit down with the stakeholders of the mining industry," and we did that.

Shelley Martel and myself, we travelled to Sudbury, to Timmins and other mining communities. We met with the representatives of the mining industry, the environmental movement -- yes, they were at the table -- the aboriginal groups -- they were at the table -- and we worked out a way to be able to do that. In the end we streamlined the process, that when you were doing work on a mining claim you had one window to go to. That was the Ministry of Mines, and it dealt with all of the regulatory issues that you had to deal with in getting your certificate to be able to do the work on that claim.

Now, was the mining sector totally thrilled at the end? I would say on a scale of one to 10 it was about a six. They were happy that we had made it easier for them, but I know in talking to many people in the industry, and especially in the juniors, a number of them would rather see no regulation. They would have been happier. I don't say they wouldn't have been unhappy if we had taken away all the legislation, but we said to the prospectors and we said to the developers: "We, as the province of Ontario, are here to safeguard the interests of the public of this province, and you are one citizen out of about 10 million citizens of this province. We are not going to weight the legislation towards strictly the mining company versus the people."

We found some sort of a compromise that at the end worked well, and in fact we did a whole bunch of things when it comes to dealing with regulation in the mining sector. I would say, quite frankly, that is one of the reasons why we've seen such an increase in development in the mining sector through 1993, 1994 and 1995, because our government didn't only deal on the regulatory side, as you're trying to do; quite frankly, we put our money where our mouth is. We made sure that we had programs like OMIP and OPAP that supported the mining sector so that they could go out there and do their jobs of being able to try to find new mines. We were out there supporting them any way we could: financially, through the heritage fund. Our minister, Shelley Martel, and our government were very proactive in supporting that industry.

But that's not what you guys are doing. You guys are saying, "We are going to change rules that are going to affect one class of citizen of this province and that's the corporate sector of this province." That's what you're doing. Be clear of what you're all about.

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): What happened to the heritage fund, Gilles?

Mr Bisson: What happened to the heritage fund is quite interesting. What we did with the heritage fund --


Mr Bisson: Here we go.

Mr Martin: That's the question of the month: What happened to the heritage fund? Where is the heritage fund? That's a good question. Ask them.


Mr Bisson: I would like to know where the heritage fund is. We took no pennies out of the heritage fund --


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Order.

Mr Martin: What happened to the heritage fund?

Hon Ms Mushinski: You bled it dry.

The Deputy Speaker: I'll not warn the member for Sault Ste Marie again. The member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: For another debate we'll get into the heritage fund. But I would only say to the members across the way, what is happening with the heritage fund? When we were government we were spending the full amount of that fund for what it was intended to do, year after year, to support development of the economy of northern Ontario. You guys have done what? Zéro. Nyet. Nothing's been done since you've come to government. The north is sitting there wondering what happened to the heritage fund, so don't start on me, you guys.


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Bisson: Now, getting back to Bill 57, the matter at hand, the government, as I said at the beginning, you have to ask yourself the question: Who benefits when legislation comes through? We found that with the Environmental Compensation Corp, it's the big corporate people who benefit. In this particular case it appears that the people that benefit again are the corporations and not the people of the province.

They're saying, through this legislation, what they're going to do is that they're going to eliminate the need for a certificate of approval for certain classes of companies. So that means to say that if you're going out there and you want to get a plant into operation to deal with chemicals, you won't need that C of A to be able to get the approval and you will be governed by the broader legislation that exists within the province of Ontario in order to put you into compliance.

The problem with that is twofold. First of all, as I said, you're cutting the existing regulations, so the regulations that apply to those particular companies are very much weakened and will be weakened some more as you come forward with more legislation. This is only the tip of the iceberg of what you plan to do in your attack on the environment.

But what you're doing on top of that is, what are you doing at the Ministry of Environment and Energy? How is a polluter going to get caught when you don't have anybody at the Ministry of Environment who can go out and check out what's going on? Tell me. It's amazing. You guys are standing there and you're saying, "We're all for the environment, we want to protect the environment and create jobs and help business along." But what you've done, you've cut the funding at the Ministry of Environment by 35%, you've eliminated their capacity to go out in the field and investigate what's going on out there when it comes to certain complaints that come before the ministry, and also the regular inspections that they need to do, so how is a polluter going to get caught?

You know how the polluter is going to get caught? When there's a disaster. That's how we're going to find out. Because if there's a situation that happens -- we know this from experience -- a company who happens to be out there is driven by a motive, and that motive is to make money. We understand that, and there's nothing wrong with making money. But if they have the choice between cleaning up their act and making sure that they're not polluting or making a profit, if it's put in those kinds of terms, they'll judge for the profit every time. And the problem that you're going to have is, the only way we're going to find out when the rules are being broken is when there's actual damage done. That's the sad part of this legislation.

I'm not advocating for a second, before a Tory member gets up in response to this and says, "Oh, the member for Cochrane South and the NDP want to send environmental cops around the province to harass all of the employers out there and all the corporations." Poppycock. That's not what it's all about. It would be pretty simplistic for you to do that. But it would be like saying we have laws in this province that say it is illegal to go and rob a store and to use a gun in doing that, and you were to then come back as the government -- which you already have, by the way; you've cut policing services in this province -- but it would be like eliminating the police from the scene. So the only way that you would actually ever be able to do something is -- I don't know. How would you ever find out if you didn't have the police out there enforcing the laws?

It's the same thing with the environment. You need to have people out in the field who are out there inspecting what happens on a regular basis so that the companies are looking over their shoulder to a certain extent, so that the companies out there -- and I don't pick on any one company -- if it be a mining company, a pulp and paper company, a paint company, whatever it might be, they need to know that there are rules out there and that those rules will be enforced. If they don't have a sense that those rules are going to be enforced, they're not going to do very much to comply with the rules in the first place.

That's the problem that you're creating in your overall approach to how you're dealing with the environment. You're, through this bill, saying they don't need to get a certificate of approval in many classes of company. You're then going out and you're cutting at the Ministry of Environment 35% of their budget, and we will not have an ability as a province to monitor what happens. The problem is that we are going to get pollution problems that are going to start very little at first, I would argue, because many of the companies out there -- at least in my riding, Abitibi-Price or Royal Oak, whoever it might be -- tend to operate fairly good companies. They're pretty good at dealing with that because they know that the government has always been serious, and if they broke the rules they would be penalized. So they did their job.

But what is going to happen if first of all the rules are weakened, and then there's no ability by the ministry to go out and inspect? Eventually what will happen is you will have a breaking down of that system within those companies, there will be pollution that will happen over a period of time, and by the time we find out about it it'll be too late. Who again will benefit at the end? The company can close its doors and leave and turn its back on the liability, but the people left holding the bag is going to be who? Joe and Jane taxpayer, that's who it is.

I can give you examples. For example, when we were government, again with Minister Martel, we had the tailings dam at the Hollinger stack, as we called it in Timmins, a mining company who made literally billions of dollars by taking gold out of the ground in Timmins. When they closed down they left the community with a huge environmental liability in regard to their tailings stack. When that tailings stack wall was deteriorating and it was in danger of crumbling under certain circumstances, who was left holding the bag? Who spent, what was it, $5 million I think we spent on that, about $5 million or $6 million that we spent to fix that tailings stack? It was the public. That's what happens if you don't have good rules.

Again, the same thing with what we call -- in front of the McIntyre mine in Timmins again, between Schumacher and Timmins, there's a huge area that was dug out to extract tailings. Because the company walked out and left us with the liability, who ends up taking up the tab if ever this thing is cleaned up? It will be the people of the province of Ontario. It'll be the taxpayer again.

So who benefits by your actions? Be clear. Who benefit simply are the people who are in the boardrooms of this province and on Wall Street. They're the ones who like this legislation; they're the ones who are applauding Mike Harris; they're the ones who are pulling the strings; they're the ones with the direct pipelines to the Premier's office and the Minister of Environment and Energy's office. Who, in the end, is the loser? The people in this province.


I come back again to the Environmental Compensation Corp. The elimination of that particular fund needs to be re-examined by the government. The very least that you can do is -- you talk about constructive criticism -- rather than pulling the money out, as you're planning to do in this legislation, let the public know there's still money in the accounts of the corporation. You're taking that money and you're throwing it over to Ernie Eves, the finance minister, to help finance his tax cut at the same time. I would say that the very least you're able to do is allow that fund to be put in place and give the money to environmental groups as intervenor funding. At least we'll have somebody in the province with some dollars to assist people who are affected by spills.

I don't see how in the end the people of the province will balance with this bill. I do not see how they will be well served. We're going to lose the ability to go to court in some cases when it comes to the ECC, and in the case of the other part of the act polluters are going to get away with murder when it comes to that, all at a time when the government is doing a number of things. I'll just list some of the beautiful, wonderful, progressive things they're doing that they call red tape to deal with the environment.

They're withdrawing Ontario's ban on the construction of new garbage incinerators. They've killed the successful green communities program. This was for the environment. They're terminating funding for the popular blue box program. They've slashed funding to the Niagara Escarpment Commission, another thing this government has done in its attack on the environment. They've eliminated funding for the municipal household hazardous waste program. They killed the Clean Up Rural Beaches program. They weakened a number of clean water regulations under the municipal-industrial strategy for abatements that were needed which were negotiated between all levels of government and our federation. They began the dismantling of the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights. They dismantled the environmental safeguards under the Planning Act. They've killed the Ontario Waste Management Corp. They've eliminated grants for environmental research. They've slashed funding for the Environmental Appeal Board. They've slashed funding to the Ontario conservation authorities by 70%. The list goes on. I've got five pages of what you guys have done in your attack on the environment.

Don't come into this House and pretend what you're doing here is minor housekeeping or that you're just clearing out red tape and you really care about the environment, because you care about only one thing. You've got the boardrooms in Canada on Bay Street and you've got the boardrooms in the States on Wall Street. They have puppeteers who sit there and pull the strings in Mike Harris's office. I see Mike Harris jumping up and down saying, "Yes, boss, whatever you want, whatever you want to make life better for the big business corporations of this province." The cabinet, when Mike comes out of that office, does exactly what he tells them and all the backbenchers line up like trained seals because they want to get into the cabinet office as badly as anybody else.

I was a government member. I know where you're coming from. Let me tell you that's not how it works. You're rewarded, at the end, in the polls by working hard to represent your constituency and by showing your cabinet colleagues and your Premier and your caucus that you're a person of integrity and that you speak up on what you believe is right, even if at times it is opposite to what your government says, even if at times you have a minority view. You have to know sometimes when to back off.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): Like you.

Mr Bisson: Yes. Darn right I did. That's why I didn't end up in cabinet.

The point I'm making is, do your jobs as members of this Legislature. I understand you need to support your government. After all, ideologically you're all the same: You're Tories -- I should say Reformers. We always have to remember, when members talk about putting parties together, that you're Reformers and you believe in the corporate view of the world, but you're not doing a lot to protect individual rights of people by doing what you're doing in this legislation. I ask you to go back and talk to your cabinet ministers and, at least on the ECC, leave the money in place so there's intervenor funding out there so that you've got people with resources to deal with some effects of this legislation.

The last point I want to make, it's passing strange that the government said this is only red tape, when the government is exempting itself from any liability that might arise from deregulation. The government, in its own admission in this legislation, is saying, "We will not be responsible for any environmental disasters as a result of this legislation," because you recognize as a government that what you're doing is going to lead towards more environmental disasters and you are exempting yourself from those liabilities.

I think what is starting to happen in Temagami is the tip of the iceberg. We're seeing the environmental movement come back to life again because people are starting to really fear -- and I use the word "Fear" with a capital F -- what this government is doing when it comes to protecting the rights of individuals and when it comes to dealing with who benefits from what side of the equation when it comes to environmental policy. I think what will happen with this kind of legislation is you'll be reviving that movement once again to the strength that it had about 1985 to 1993, and you'll have yourself to thank for it. I would think that's not the way this province needs to go.

What we need to be able to do is to work together as communities of interest to balance the needs of the corporations, the needs of the small business people and the needs of individuals within this province towards balancing off the need of protecting the environment and allowing the economy to be able to prosper in a sustainable way. This legislation does nothing to achieve that.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I want to certainly congratulate the member for Cochrane South on a heartfelt defence of environmental integrity. As you know, this bill, if you join it together with other bills like Bill 20, which basically is dismantling the protection of the Planning Act, and Bill 26, which is dismantling conservation authorities across this province, you can see that the member for Cochrane South is very tuned in to what this government's agenda is.

As you know, this government, through its philosophy, believes in deregulation. They don't think the government has a role in regulating the economy. But we've seen what deregulation has done in the trucking industry. We know that the wheels are literally falling off the ministry because the ministry thought it could basically walk away from its responsibility. You see the consequences on our highways every day, because the government has to intervene to protect the public.

In the area of the environment, it's a matter of health protection and protection of our green fields, our forests, our waterways and our air quality. As you know, this government has also backed away from investing in public transportation. Subsequently, we have more congestion on our roads, we have constant gridlock, we have air quality problems throughout Ontario now because this government is not investing in getting people out of their cars. All it's doing is forcing more and more people to pollute our air. And who knows what else is going to happen as a result of regressive bills like Bill 57, which in the guise of trying to reduce red tape are basically dismantling protections for the public and protection for our children and our great-grandchildren?

This government is dismantling something that is there for public protection, and that's why this bill is not the right bill.

Mr Wildman: I want to congratulate the member for Cochrane South on his presentation and to indicate that I really hope that members of the party that support the government will take his views very seriously, particularly the example he used about the handling of gasoline and gasoline spills and the experience that his own family had and many others have had, unfortunately, in this province as a result of inadequate protections and the need to be able to provide compensation to little people who do not have the resources to take companies that might be responsible to court to get compensation for damage to their properties.

It's true that the agency that is responsible for paying out compensation has not paid out a great deal. That's a good thing. But to argue that because it hasn't paid out a great deal, we should forget about those few people who might benefit from such protection I think is ridiculous.

I also want to congratulate my friend for his remarks with regard to the mining industry and the protections for the environment as related to operating mines and abandoned mines and the kinds of problems that can result from inadequate planning for shutdowns and closures of mining operations.

The member represents an area that is very important in the mining industry and he recognizes the importance of mining providing jobs and economic development in our part of the world, but he also recognizes that anybody who is going to invest in mining and is going to make profit from mining also must be prepared to ensure that mines are operated in such a way that they could be shut down in a safe manner that will protect the environment.


Mr Galt: It was interesting to listen to the member for Cochrane South. It was the usual rhetoric we hear from the other side, from the backbenchers in the opposition. They're certainly still hung up on spending money. I thought that during the five-year term they were in office they had spent enough at that time, but obviously they want to collect more taxes and spend more money and get us further in debt. It was coming through loud and clear as he was speaking that he really enjoys spending other people's money.

He referred to the fact that spills compensation should be in place, and here's an example of the amount of money they gave out. They spent three to four times more in administration than they gave out in spills, yet they think that status quo is a good idea. Still supporting things like intervenor funding and pushing the spending of other people's money seems to be the way to go and the right thing to be doing.

They talk about regulations. I'm surprised they wouldn't be supporting Bill 57, because that's exactly what Bill 57 will be doing. It will be establishing specific regulations so we can bring in standardized approvals. That's what it's all about. I thought you would be very supportive of going that route.

He referred to spills and used a good example with his own parents' home, with a spill that occurred, that that's where the effort should be put into looking after spills. It's the other spills that -- you know, every time a quart of oil is accidentally emptied on to a concrete floor, technically it's supposed to be reported. Unfortunately for the spills centre, they're tied up many, many hours just looking after these reports that really are totally unnecessary and not spending the kind of time that should be spent on the example he was using.

Mr Bradley: I thought the speech outlined many of the deficiencies we're seeing, some of the reasons for alarm. I heard the member reading out an extensive list that was put out by those who are guardians of the environment about their concerns with what the government was doing with environmental measures in this province. What we have to understand in this situation is that it always costs more later to rectify the problem, to reclaim a site, than it does for prevention.

A good example of this is Smithville, Ontario, where the previous Conservative government allowed a situation -- they learned from this; everybody learns from these situations -- where PCBs were stored in great numbers, the largest single collection of PCBs in Canada. The approvals process was not satisfactory, obviously, in that situation, and as a result it cost the province millions of dollars to reclaim that site, because it had made its way off the site, into the groundwater and possibly into the bedrock. As a result of a lack of expenditure and investment early on, or lack of looking at the approvals as carefully as one might, we have a situation that results in costing us more money.

This government seems to be preoccupied with costs incurred. I understand that. That's why I'm surprised that they would want to change the approvals process to bring about a situation where there's a greater risk of long-term costs being incurred later on.

The mine tailing situation is another good example in northern Ontario particularly, where mine tailings cause great problems for people unless they're handled appropriately. When you wink and nod through the process of looking after mine tailings, you're not going to have as good a circumstance as when you carefully assess before giving an approval.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Cochrane South has two minutes.

Mr Bisson: Thank you very much to those who made comment on my presentation here in the House.

I would only say to the government member that the whole bill, about putting certificates of approval that are applicable to all classes of companies, I think is a bit of a strange approach. The reality is that C of As deal with individual realities of particular businesses, and that's why they were put in place in the first place. It's not to have just broad-stroke approaches. How do you do that? That's how we got into problems with Bill 208 as they applied to mining. At that time Environment Minister Bradley put in place regulations under 208 to try to deal with the Hagersville tire fire. When he did that for good reason -- there was nothing wrong with the legislation -- it was found that there were problems afterwards that affected other classes of business. There had to be some changes there, and that's what we did.

I want to come back to what I said throughout this, that you have to consider one thing in looking at this legislation, as you do with all legislation: Who benefits? It's clear in looking at this legislation that what will happen in the end is that those who come out the winners from this legislation are not the mas and pas across Ontario, the mom-and-pop operations, not the individuals. It's the polluters and the large corporations that will come out on top. That's who's going to benefit in all cases. We're going to see it with the elimination of the Environmental Compensation Corp; again the big companies come out the winners, the little guy comes out the loser. When it comes to changing the act as it deals with the matter of C of As, it's the same thing: The big companies will end up being the winners because they'll be free to go out and pollute and they won't have a Ministry of Environment to go out there and monitor what they're going to do, and they won't be able to be charged because the regulations will be so weak. And who's going to be picking up the tab? It's going to be the little guy again, the taxpayer. That's who's going to get it in the ear.

I just want to say in the last few seconds I have that I omitted to say that a number of these measures I talked about when we were in government were also under the auspices of my good colleague Mr Pouliot, who was Minister of Mines at the time, who worked on a number of those issues with me and Ms Martel.

The Deputy Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further debate?

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): Let me first say how nice it is to be back in the House to debate another piece of sound, good legislation, and Bill 57 is a good piece of legislation. It's an act that will improve the efficiency of standardized approvals for our environment, improvements that represent a consistent policy to reduce excessive government red tape that constrains industry, constrains business and imposes constraints that kill the employment opportunities for the people of Ontario.


Mr Stewart: Our government is once again addressing the concerns expressed to us by the people of this province. What I'm saying has to be true, because the opposition is trying to let people say too much so they can't hear. What I am saying has got to be good talk about good legislation.

Over the years I personally have opened a number of small businesses, all of which were delayed due to no clearly defined standards. Small businesses cannot afford needless delays when applying for certificates of approval. If we are to create much-needed jobs, we must make it easier for new and existing businesses to operate without being impeded by bureaucratic red tape.

There are many examples of this. One which comes to mind is the outrageous situation relating to the current system of approvals for restaurants. Previously, an owner of a restaurant would be required to wait a considerable amount of time to receive a certificate of approval for venting kitchen exhaust to the atmosphere. This wait is ridiculous and expensive and it represents one more detriment to job creation and the entrepreneurial spirit.

Good standards must exist, and this bill maintains and addresses those standards. However, this bill will clearly define what those standards are prior to the approval process. If an applicant meets these standards when applying for a certificate of approval, then a certificate will be issued -- realistic and common sense. A paint shop, for example, will be allowed to open immediately if they meet the standards set out under the act. As I learned a long time ago, you cannot get to a destination without knowing the road or the direction.

Most people may ask, what are the advantages of this piece of legislation?


First, this bill will create a climate with clear and precise rules to follow, and will better protect the environment while costing the taxpayers of this province much less than is currently spent.

Second, we will focus on setting and monitoring standards. Government's role should not be in the capacity of dictating to individuals who know their business better than government. We promised to eliminate government intervention. This bill is consistent with that commitment.

Third, industry and business will now have the flexibility to use innovative ways to meet our tough standards, and I emphasize "tough standards."

Fourth, this bills dissolves the Environmental Compensation Corp. Over the past decade, the corporation has paid out an average compensation package of approximately $69,000 a year and cost the taxpayers of this province approximately $3 million to run on a yearly basis. Is this sound economic efficiency? I suggest to you it is not. What it is is ludicrous and ridiculous. Over the past 10 years, the ECC has only paid out 89 claims. This represents unnecessary expense and bureaucracy.

My honourable members from the opposition benches will cry foul. They will claim that our government is turning our backs on environmental protection. That is truly and totally false. But let me hasten to add that the people of this province must also be considered and protected, not necessarily and not only the environment.

Under this bill, despite the dissolution of the ECC, owners and businesses will still be responsible for the cleanup and compensation when spills occur. As well, municipalities are spending large dollars on environmental insurance, again to protect their residents.

Over the last 10 years, the ECC received 732 first notices. A first notice is the initial formal complaint an individual files to indicate dissatisfaction with the handling of a spill cleanup. Out of those 732 first notices, 558 did not follow up with an appropriate claim. This indicates that the individuals were satisfied with the manner in which a cleanup had occurred. The ECC is too expensive and, quite simply, totally unnecessary.

I want to make a comment, if I may. We're talking about, in 10 years, $30 million in administration costs to the people of this province. That means $10,948 was the cost of administration for all of the second notice, and it cost $33,707 per payout over 10 years for the 89 claims. If you can tell me, ladies and gentlemen, that's good, sound economic sense, then I've got a bridge for you to buy just across the street, because it isn't good, sound economic sense -- $33,707 in administration costs for 89 claims. I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, that is not the way I believe we should be doing business.

This bill also amends the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Waste Management Corp. These changes will allow the Ministry of Environment to recover costs for some specific services. This is revenue that helps offset ministry expenditures, something that is practised every day in business. Why would we not be doing this in government? I can't understand that, ladies and gentlemen. Why would we not try to get revenue in? Isn't that the way it is?

Bill 57 represents a collaborative effort between many government ministries to improve the approvals process. Staff from the Ministry of Environment and Energy have met staff from MNR and OMAFRA, along with the Red Tape Review Commission, industry leaders, the Who Does What subpanel on transportation and the utilities regarding our proposals for the approvals process, and let me say that all of these groups are very supportive of our approach.

The days of streamlining the process through administrative changes have been exhausted. The time has come to invoke legislative changes to our approvals system. Bill 57 represents a real change to a real problem. This bill will protect the environment but not -- and I repeat "not" -- at the expense of employment opportunities for the people of this province. The people of this province need jobs, and let me assure you that our government is committed to that goal.

Contrary to our critics, you can protect the environment and create jobs at the same time. By creating the right legislation, they will go hand in hand. Bill 57 is good legislation. Bill 57 creates positive opportunities, opportunities to protect the environment by creating clearly defined, enforceable standards while improving the time lines for certificates of approval to preserve and expand on employment opportunities. This is good legislation. It brings environmental standards into the 1990s.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Bradley: I would like to just make a slight amendment to that last statement. Back to the 1950s is where it brings environmental standards, if I can comment on the member's speech.

What was most amusing was to hear the member say that there was going to be a meeting of staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Environment and Energy. Well, that would be a mighty small meeting, because they've cut back in staff on both of those ministries so drastically that there would be few people left to be able to deal with these matters.

That's one of the problems with both the Planning Act changes and the changes to this act. If you said, "We are speeding up the approvals process and we're going to have the adequate staff to be able to deal with those," and perhaps, as the parliamentary assistant has said, "We're going to assess some fee for that service," then some people would rest assured. But what you are doing in effect is reducing the approvals process by in some cases turning it over to municipalities, all of whom have had to cut back staff because this government is cutting back its transfer payments to municipalities. So you're asking the staff to deal with these matters in a much more expeditious fashion, and there is a situation where there are fewer staff able to do so. So we're really not going to enhance the environment.

What the member said was rather revealing. He said, "If it comes down to the environment and it comes down to economics, we're going to side with economics and not with the environment." That's the way it used to be. I can tell him, that's the way it used to be many years ago. People of this province demanded a change in that regard and we saw some legislation and regulations which were designed to change it, not the silly examples that some government members use. Certainly you can make those changes and nobody will object, but substantial changes will certainly not enhance the environmental protection in this province.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I just have a few comments for the member for Peterborough. He obviously wants the public to believe that they are protecting the environment while at the same time creating jobs. Well, I just want to go through the whole long list of commitments that this government has to the environment for the public to clearly get a sense of how committed it really is to the environment. This is the list:

They withdrew from Ontario's ban on the construction of new garbage incinerators. They killed the successful green communities program. They terminated funding for the popular blue box program. They slashed funding to the Niagara Escarpment Commission and eliminated funding for municipal household hazard waste programs. They killed the Clean Up Rural Beaches program. They weakened numerous clean water regulations under the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement. They began dismantling Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights. They killed the Ontario Waste Management Corp and the province's hazardous waste reduction strategy. They eliminated grants for environmental research, and this means that made-in-Ontario technologies which protect the environment and create Ontario jobs have been put at risk.


We the NDP government in the past demonstrated our commitment to green industries by supporting the environmental technologies program and the green industry strategy. They slashed funding to the Environmental Appeal Board. They slashed funding to Ontario's conservation authorities by 70%. They killed plans to prevent and control toxic substances from entering our sewers. They've killed the Municipal-Industrial Strategy for Abatement Advisory Committee. They have terminated the advisory committee on environmental standards. They can tell you they care about the environment. The facts speak for themselves.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I was listening to the list by the member for Fort York. I think the whole shopping list he enumerates illustrates most vividly the statist solution which the previous regime took to protecting the environment: The only way you can protect the environment is the more bureaucrats, the more regulations, the more arbitrary approval processes you have. The cost-ineffectiveness of the whole operation measures protection of the environment. In fact, streamlined, affordable, cost-effective, balanced environmental protection is the way to go. If you'd look at what's happening throughout North America, we wouldn't be in the jam we're in economically if you'd look at a more flexible, innovative approach to protecting the environment.

We've heard time and time again that the only way one can protect the environment in this province is that you must build up the number of bureaucrats, the number and layers of governmental legislation; the more prolonged approval processes you have, the better everything is. We know what happened under the previous regime: We ended up with a state of paralysis in environmental decision-making. Hardly anything ever got approved until it was stretched out five, eight, 10, 12 or 20 years. He talks about MISA being a great example of the way in which to protect the environment. This is one of the clearest, most amusing, most bureaucratic procedures of not protecting the environment. It was a great way of providing jobs for environmental bureaucrats who never came to a decision except to move it off the table. Bill 57 deals, as the member for Peterborough says, very effectively in balancing jobs and the economy.

Mr Colle: As my colleague the member for St Catharines said, I think this bill has an appropriate number, 57, because this bill is about 1957. It's about taking the province of Ontario back to 1957 and repeating the mistakes we made in the 1950s and trying to tell the people of Ontario that was the perfect era. You know what we did to the environment in the 1950s and 1960s? We started ourselves on the road to many costly clean-up consequences in the 1980s and 1990s. This is going back to the 1950s.

This is the same government that has dismantled the Ministry of Environment. There is no Ministry of Environment. They got rid of the minister for whatever reason; I don't know. I don't know if anybody's left up at St Clair and Avenue Road, because that ministry has been gutted by $200 million. The member for Northumberland must be there by himself. He must be the only person with an office there. He must be rattling around that building. They should perhaps turn it into a condominium or something. Sell the building. What good is it having that building if there's nobody in it?

Maybe the most productive thing the parliamentary assistant can do is put a For Sale sign on that building at St Clair and Avenue Road and come clean with the people of Ontario that there is no more Ministry of Environment, that this ministry's run from the office of Ernie Eves, the finance minister, because they're taking money out of the environment and paying that tax cut to their friends on Bay Street. That's what this bill is part of: dismantling environmental protection at the risk of the health of Ontarians because these people do not understand that good environmental planning is also good economic planning. They don't see the connection.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Peterborough has two minutes to respond.

Mr Stewart: It just blows my mind how the opposition can sing the praises of the status quo, just absolutely blows my mind when I just got finished telling you about $30 million in 10 years to address 89 claims.

But I wanted to make a comment to my colleague or my friend the member for St Catharines. I didn't mention the Ministry of Energy. If he would pay attention, instead of doing this hassling back and forth, he would know that. I want to just bring that up because the standards that we're talking about in Bill 57 are clear standards that are going to guide the environmental process for a lot of years to come. I hear this fact that it takes it back to 1950 and 1957. I suggest to you that this is totally wrong and totally ludicrous, because unless those standards are in place -- and those are good standards and tough standards -- how can you decide how to deal with them?

That's what this bill is all about: knowing up front, whether it be in business or whatever, what we have to do to make sure we protect the environment but also protect the taxpayer of this province. Isn't that what we all represent? I thought we did and I guess that's what I'm suggesting to you. These are the right standards, they are the tough standards and, I can tell you, as I said at the end, will take environment and environmental direction into the 1990s.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I welcome the opportunity to participate in this debate. Just to help the member for Peterborough, it is the Ministry of Environment and Energy; they've been connected for some time.

As I get a chance to speak about this bill, I have listened intently most of this afternoon and last week to the debate and I find the government's stance most remarkable. They keep talking about standards. Of course, this bill does not provide standards. They are not there; they are in the regulations. The regulations are presently being gutted. The regulations are presently being moved to the bare minimum. There is no public review of these regulations. There is not the ability of people to say this is the right thing or the wrong thing. This is not about streamlining. This is not about making it easier. This is about mortgaging our children's future. It's about mortgaging the environmental heritage we have. This government is pretty unique on these --

Mr Wettlaufer: Mike, what did you do? You borrowed $22 billion and increased taxation.

Mr Michael Brown: No, no. This is a government that's going to add $22 billion to the debt of this province, but I would suggest to you that if you look at the environmental effect, the $22 billion in debt that they'd leave to the next government will pale in the effect of what happens to our environment. The members are right, and I've listened to the member for Oakwood, and the member for St Catharines especially, talk about bad environmental legislation or minimal environmental legislation. All it does is transfer the cost to some future generation. We've seen that. We should have learned our lesson when it comes to dealing with environmental issues.

It's like not funding a pension plan; it's like not making the payments to the Ontario public service pension plan; it's like not making payments to the Ontario teachers' pension plan. What happens when you don't do that? You've got a huge problem. These guys over here, the Tories, should know all about both issues because they did not fund either one of the pension plans and left it to other governments to clean up in the future. It cost taxpayers of Ontario billions upon billions of dollars to refund these pension plans to a level that would actually ensure that the people who were guaranteed these pensions got them. The same thing is going to happen here with this environmental legislation.


One word I've never heard from this government, that I haven't heard from any speakers from the government side, is "excellence." They don't understand excellence. They want to be the bare minimum. That's their goal in life. Their goal in life is to just barely get by. This used to be a province that built things, that had the best education system, the best health care system, the best environment. It used to be a province that paid its bills, a province where the future was hugely bright. Instead, what we have is a government that's going to borrow an additional $22 billion and add to an environmental deficit across the province because their vision of the future is to be mediocre. What a bunch of -- anyway, I'll speak specifically to the bill.

Bill 57, as you know, is somewhat deceptive in that it does not provide the regulations. The regulations are not here. It's just a framework. Regardless, if these regulations just happened to be reasonable, providing a reasonable standard, you know what? Nobody's going to know there is not an inspector who will ever find out. They have cut $200 million from the Ministry of Environment. It is a shell. It's kind of there but I don't know where to go and look.

I have people in my constituency today who cannot develop land, not because the Minister of Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources object to the proposal but because, after the development takes place, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Environment say to them: "We do not have the staff to monitor it so we will not be able to tell whether you have met your obligations. Therefore we're not going to let you do it. We're not going to let you do it because we have no way of monitoring it." Do you think that's good for the economy of Manitoulin and the North Shore of Lake Huron? Do you think that kind of approach makes any sense in a business way?

I would like to tell you I don't think so. I think the public demands, my children demand, my grandchildren demand that they have a future that is strong economically, full of opportunity and that the environment they inherit from us will be better than the environment we inherited from our parents. We are going to be held accountable by those people.

Government is the only institution -- I want you to think about this -- to have a mandate to look after the future. Companies, corporations, business people, individuals look after themselves in the present but the government, if there is any institution, has to look after our future. This government is abrogating its responsibilities for short-term, what it believes to be economic gain. I don't think it will. If you look at jurisdictions around the world, the most progressive, the ones with the best economy, are also the ones with the highest environmental standards, the highest goals for their citizens to meet. That's because those jurisdictions understand that good environmental management is synonymous with good economic activity. This bill says let's be mediocre. Let's put in the minimum. Let's make sure this province could not possibly be better than any other province.

What a goal. What a lofty vision. It is about mediocrity at best. I don't think the people I represent are going to be overly impressed with that approach. Look at a constituency such as mine. We have our share of, I wouldn't say problems, but at least areas that we need to have a very close look at. We have mines, we have mine tailings. We have experienced in the Elliot Lake area over the last few years, unfortunately, the closure of all the major mines. They're uranium mines. Those uranium mines need to have a very careful plan to look after the tailings in perpetuity. That is happening; at least I think it's happening.

As environmental enforcement is sacrificed by this government, I don't know how we can be sure that it will in perpetuity be monitored so that we don't have some of the very real problems we've experienced, for example, at Cutler on the Serpent River reserve, where untold millions of dollars were spent moving contaminated soil from the reserve. The member for Algoma would know all about that particular project. It cost the government -- the government doesn't have any money, so it cost the taxpayers, you and me and everybody else here -- millions upon millions of dollars so that environmental problem could be rectified.

I don't want to see a regime in Ontario today where that kind of deficit can be passed on again. I think this bill provides that opportunity.

I want to talk to the members for York and Durham and Peel, those areas where not too long ago we were talking about mega-dumps. Maybe we still are talking about mega-dumps. One reason those never went ahead was the fact that the environmental assessment legislation was what it is. Maybe you can say that's bad for business, but I think the people in York and Durham who would have been anywhere near these sites would suggest to you it was pretty good legislation.

Mr Colle: Keele Valley.

Mr Michael Brown: Keele Valley, my friend says. This legislation, the Environmental Assessment Act and its processes, protected those. My friends from down here in the city of Toronto and Metro Toronto never had to worry about that because the dumps weren't going to go here, but it was going to help them if they could send it off to those dumps. Instead, we got recycling projects; we got good environmental management.

Mr Hastings: We got costs. The blue box -- give us an example of waste.

Mr Michael Brown: Well, we got costs. The member says we got costs, and he's right. Environmental management does cost money.

Mr Hastings: Yes, but we want to make it effective.

Mr Michael Brown: He says he wants to make it effective.

Mr Hastings: It wasn't under the blue box program for at least three years.

Mr Michael Brown: He doesn't like the blue box program. The Tories don't like the blue box program.

I want to talk a little bit about the Environmental Compensation Corp, with which I've had some rather unhappy dealings. I had a constituent with a service station. It ended up costing this poor fellow the sale of his service station even though he had not contaminated it, and he could not get compensation from this corporation. I think the problem with this corporation was not the idea; it was the way it was working. This fellow actually is from the Ottawa area, but as you know, thousands upon thousands of people have come to beautiful Elliot Lake to retire. This gentleman moved to Elliot Lake, hopefully was going to sell his service station in Ottawa. The deal all fell through. I won't go through all the wrangling about that, but essentially it came down to environmental issues. The contamination did not come from the service station, and he still was left on the hook. The poor fellow is almost bankrupt because of course his business was his retirement. He was unable to sell it. I'm not sure whether he's ever been able to sell it. Maybe it's gone bankrupt now. I think that's one of the problems.


What was needed here is not the elimination of the corporation, but exactly what you seem to be talking about, and that's efficiencies and streamlining, getting it to give you the kinds of answers you want in a timely manner. Obviously, from my point of view and this particular constituent's point of view in Elliot Lake, that didn't happen. But that doesn't mean you should throw the baby out with the bathwater. It was a good idea. It was a Conservative idea, for goodness' sake. It came from the Conservative government, it was passed by a Liberal government, and it was followed by an NDP government. It was your idea. So spend some time and make it work. Don't just eliminate it. It's necessary.

I in my own constituency have huge difficulties, as I suspect just about everyone does, with gasoline stations. I was talking to owners of a gas station in Spanish who recently had to put in new tanks, and they went through a large cleanup that was not caused by them but by previous owners before them. We're talking back 20 or 30 years. They did that. What did they find that was really quite astounding? They could not get the Ministry of Environment to certify that it had been cleaned up. Can you imagine that? You spend $30,000 or $40,000 cleaning up the site. It's clean. The engineers come in and say, "It's fine, no problem." All they wanted was a certificate saying: "Yes, you've done the work. You've rehabilitated the site. It's good." Can you get a piece of paper saying, "Yes, it's cleaned up; it's perfect"? Not a chance. No staff. People are not able to do the environmental projects and get the kind of approvals they need. If you were addressing those kinds of issues, I wouldn't have a heck of a lot of trouble with this piece of legislation.

I think you should put all your cards on the table, tell the people what the regulations are, point out which ones are the foolish ones. Sure, there are foolish ones. Over 30 years, all legislation gets foolish regulations. Fix them. That's not a problem. But don't destroy the entire environmental assessment and approvals just because of a few rather strange examples.

With that I think I'll yield the floor. I know that time is running out today and I know the House leader for the third party has indicated he would like a few minutes to speak.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I negotiated that deal between the member for Algoma-Manitoulin and our House leader and now I'm taking some of his time.

I just want to be very brief, because I was unable to be in the House today to hear other people's comments. I heard that the member for Hamilton Mountain was complaining that I wasn't here. I assume that he thought I might be converted to the Tory idea of clear-cutting environmental protection in this province. What I want to say today to all members of the House is that any government where the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment stands up in the House in the middle of a debate like this on environmental protection and says that cutting down trees has nothing to do with the environment -- "That's over there in natural resources" -- has absolutely no credibility with me and with this party and, I would say, all Ontarians.

So I look forward to the comments from my colleague, if there is time for him to do that, and I'll sit down now and thank everybody for their attention to this bill.

Mr Galt: It's interesting to hear the critic from the NDP. I was trying to refer to the Ministry of Environment. I appreciate your comment, and if I said it that way, I stand to be corrected. I was referring to the Ministry of Environment at the time.

I was very pleased with the presentation the member for Peterborough made a little while ago. He really had a handle on the problem, understands it; it was delivered very well, and he stayed on topic. That's something pretty rare in this House as I listen to members from across the floor. Rarely are they on topic. They talked about everything from soup to nuts but seemed to miss the topic of Bill 57. Obviously the member for Peterborough was very well prepared in his presentation and understands the importance of tough standards.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Who wrote that? Mr Ford from the floor of the exchange?

Mr Galt: Right here. The member for Peterborough put it together. He packaged it himself. He talks about the need for tough standards with the approvals.

I was interested in listening to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin talk about our grandchildren and what they were going to inherit and the kind of debt that was being left for them. That's what this government is all about, trying to correct the evils of what's gone on for the past 10 years. The debt you people have created is absolutely phenomenal, one we're trying to get under control, a deficit we're trying to end. It's one that has been out of control now for a good 10 years. I know you bragged that one year you almost balanced the budget. With the kind of inflation and the kind of taxes that were coming in, that's when you should have been salting it away and knocking down some of the debt. There was no reason in the world that you shouldn't have got the deficit under control then and wiped out a good portion of the debt.

Mr Colle: I couldn't help but comment that this is the government that claims to be so interested in the debt and the deficit, yet they've gone and ballooned the deficit by borrowing $22 billion to pay for that tax cut. So don't talk about credibility on the deficit. You've just ballooned it by $22 billion.

To get back to Bill 57, what is happening here is that if you look at this government's approach, it's downloading responsibility to the municipal government. Municipal governments have been cut back, they're going to have few enforcement officers, so you're going to have a hodgepodge of laws and a hodgepodge of different enforcement levels.

I wonder what this government will do with the smoking ban. Let them see what this philosophy will do to that type of thing. In my own municipality, on one side of the street, come January 1, you can smoke till the cows come home. On the south side of the street, there is no smoking.

This is the government that says, "We'll leave it up to the local municipalities to take care of environmental concerns." It's going to be a nightmare, it's going to be a checkerboard effect in every city and municipality, because this government is walking away from its responsibilities of having uniform provincial guidelines. Instead, it's going to download everything from roads to the inspection of restaurants to municipalities that can't afford the bylaw officers. Right now municipalities can't inspect environmental concerns about restaurants that stink up neighbourhoods. How are they going to do it with more cutbacks and more work thrust upon Etobicoke, York, East York, Peterborough? How are they going to do it with no staff, no money and no Ministry of Environment, just a hollow shell up there at Avenue Road and St Clair? Sell the building and make it into a condo.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments? Would the member for Algoma-Manitoulin care to wrap up?

Mr Michael Brown: I appreciate the comments from the member for Oakwood, the member for Riverdale and the member for Northumberland.

I still didn't hear the parliamentary assistant say the word "excellence." I still didn't hear the parliamentary assistant talk about leaving our children the best environment in the world.

He rambles on in this Conservative mantra about debts. The fact is that his government has already borrowed more money than a Liberal administration did in five years. Get real. The same kind of philosophy is going to affect our environment. A Conservative government set up our pension plans; they didn't pay for themselves -- left it for somebody else to fix. A Conservative government set up an environmental regime that cost the taxpayers millions, probably billions, in this province to clean up, and the Conservative government is about to do the very same thing all over again in the name of expediency. I think that should be unacceptable to all Ontarians. Let's hear a little chatter over there about excellence. Forget the spin doctors. Look at the real information. Come out and tell us the real goods. My goodness, we'll be supporting you if you do that.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Wildman: In the large amount of time I have left, I would like to make a couple of comments. First, I think it's significant when we look at this deregulation bill before the House that we understand that the government in this legislation is exempting itself from any liability that may arise from this deregulation. Section 177.1 of the Environmental Protection Act, the new section, basically means that this government will be exempt from any liability that arises out of this act.

If this government were sure they are going to be able to properly protect the environment while at the same time deregulating, why are they putting a specific exemption from liability for the government into the legislation? I think that tells it all. This is part of an attack on the environment that this government is waging in Ontario. It's part of a long list: This government has lifted the ban on the construction of new garbage incinerators, killed the green communities program, terminated funding for the blue box program, slashed funding for the Niagara Escarpment Commission, eliminated funding for municipal household hazardous waste programs, killed the Clean Up Rural Beaches program, weakened clean water regulations under the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement; it has dismantled environmental safeguards under the Planning Act; it has killed the Ontario Waste Management Corp and the province's hazardous waste reduction strategy; it has eliminated grants for environmental research. The list goes on.

This is a government that claims it is cutting the deficit. What it is doing is providing us with a deficit for the environment, an environmental deficit that will plague the current generation and future generations of this province. The government doesn't recognize that if you don't ensure prevention, it costs you more when you have to clean up, and that's what this legislation is going to result in.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments? Further debate?

Minister Sterling has moved second reading of Bill 57. Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

Those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1754 to 1811.

The Deputy Speaker: You're voting on the motion of the Honourable Norm Sterling, second reading of Bill 57. Would you rise one at a time. All those in favour?


Baird, John R.

Ford, Douglas B.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Barrett, Toby

Froese, Tom

Maves, Bart

Beaubien, Marcel

Galt, Doug

Mushinski, Marilyn

Boushy, Dave

Gilchrist, Steve

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Brown, Jim

Grimmett, Bill

Ross, Lillian

Carr, Gary

Guzzo, Garry J.

Shea, Derwyn

Carroll, Jack

Hardeman, Ernie

Sheehan, Frank

Chudleigh, Ted

Hastings, John

Spina, Joseph

Clement, Tony

Jackson, Cameron

Sterling, Norman W.

Cunningham, Dianne

Johns, Helen

Stewart, R. Gary

Danford, Harry

Johnson, David

Tsubouchi, David H.

DeFaria, Carl

Johnson, Ron

Turnbull, David

Ecker, Janet

Jordan, W. Leo

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fisher, Barbara

Klees, Frank

Wood, Bob

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


Bisson, Gilles

Grandmaître, Bernard

Martin, Tony

Bradley, James J.

Kennedy, Gerard

Patten, Richard

Brown, Michael A.

Kormos, Peter

Pouliot, Gilles

Christopherson, David

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Ruprecht, Tony

Churley, Marilyn

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Colle, Mike

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Crozier, Bruce

Marchese, Rosario


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 45; the nays are 20.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I'd like to refer this bill to the standing committee on resources development.

The Deputy Speaker: So be it.

It now being past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1816.