38e législature, 1re session



Wednesday 28 April 2004 Mercredi 28 avril 2004















LOI DE 2004








































LOI DE 2004

The House met at 1330.




Mr John Yakabuski (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke): I rise today to draw to the attention of the Minister of Education the issue of school transportation funding; more specifically, rural school transportation funding. School boards in Renfrew county face a transportation deficit well in excess of $1 million, despite having one of the highest rates of shared services in the province. Enrolment may decline, but roads don't get any shorter.

While the Liberal government sets in motion its ill-conceived $1.4-billion plan to cap class sizes, we have to wonder if they plan to achieve this by simply seeing that our children don't have a ride to school. The Rozanski report calls for changes to school transportation funding. The government must put a new funding formula in place now in the upcoming budget. Without it, boards will be faced with further cuts to educational programs within the schools.

As Renfrew County District School Board chair Roy Reiche stated in a recent letter to the Premier, copied to the minister, "The Renfrew County District School Board has demonstrated its commitment to students in the tough choices it has made in the past. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet the standards of program delivery within the current financial pressures."

This government has thus far demonstrated a total lack of interest toward rural Ontarians and the issues facing them. I challenge it to do better. It can start right now.


Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex): I'm pleased that our government announced $30 million in new funding to market the province and revitalize the tourism industry in Ontario. With the tourism season underway, I invite everyone to Chatham-Kent-Essex this summer. Chatham-Kent's many beaches, campgrounds, golf courses and historical sites beckon tourists to our natural beauty and friendly atmosphere.

The RM Classic Car Exhibit showcases classic automobiles and fine sports cars. You can also watch master craftspeople work on award-winning restorations. Boating, camping, birdwatching and fishing lure vacationers to enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty of Rondeau and Wheatley provincial parks. You can also follow the path of the Underground Railroad, which brought settlers out of slavery in the United States to new freedom here in Canada.

In Essex, Leamington is known as Ontario's southernmost recreational playground, and it is North America's newest scuba diving centre. A shipwreck diving area offers fascinating insights to the rich nautical history of our area. Each summer, Leamington's municipal marina draws thousands of boaters and tourists. Naturalists from around the world come to witness the spectacular migration of birds and butterflies. Local winery and greenhouse tours are also available. Leamington is Canada's tomato capital. The world-famous tomato stomp contest is a must-see for everyone on August 20 and 22.

Whether you enjoy history, shopping, swimming, scuba diving, windsurfing, boating or just a day at the beach, Chatham-Kent Essex is the place to be this summer.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): It's with great pride that I rise today to congratulate Denise House on 20 years of success. The Denise House women's shelter and support services in my riding of Oshawa provide a safe and protected environment for women and children in abusive relationships.

The shelter was named to establish a permanent memorial to ex-president Denise Penny, who was a murder victim at the hands of her abusive husband.

The shelter has many skilled and dedicated volunteers and staff who provide counselling and support to the women and their children while they reside at the shelter, as well as continued assistance for ex-residents.

Denise House originally opened in 1984 with 10 beds and can now accommodate 27 women and children. The shelter has gained recognition as a valued service and support network for women seeking safe accommodations.

The numerous invitations for speaking engagements and information sessions from Denise House suggest that community members recognize the need to commit themselves to living lives that no longer tolerate violence. Through this service for the past 20 years, Denise House has maintained its original vision of enabling women to create and nurture their lives free from violence. I ask all members to join me in congratulating Denise House on 20 years of service.


Ms Judy Marsales (Hamilton West): I'm pleased to stand in the House today to congratulate Mission Baptist Church in west Hamilton on its 50th anniversary. Week-long celebrations began on April 22 and continued through to April 25, and included several interesting events to celebrate the heritage of the church. Their anniversary theme, "One Year of Jubilee -- Celebrating the Past -- Anticipating the Future," is a great symbol of hope.

Mission Baptist Church was founded on March 19, 1954, with only 18 charter members. The congregation at that time was predominantly German. They have been in the same location at 100 North Oval in west Hamilton since the very day this same group of people purchased a small chapel that was built on the property in 1927 on that site. That same chapel has been enlarged three times since that time to its present capacity of 450. The current congregation numbers 200. Since the church's inception, seven senior ministers have served the congregation.

I was invited to attend the 50th anniversary celebration last Sunday, April 25, and was immediately made to feel comfortable and welcome. The choir was absolutely wonderful, and the congregational singing was nothing short of amazing. Reverend Reda is very proud of his parishioners and the tremendous sense of unity that they bring to their members both past and present.

I'm pleased to have had the opportunity to celebrate this joyous event and to share more of the fine history of Hamilton and this congregation with this assembly.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Toronto-Danforth): It is my pleasure today to announce that on Saturday, May 1, at 7:30 pm, 10 choirs located throughout the province will come together and unite their voices for a landmark simultaneous concert as part of the first-ever Ontario Sings event.

The 10 communities that will be participating in Ontario Sings are Barrie, Belleville, Guelph, Durham region, Hamilton, Ottawa, Kincardine, Sault Ste Marie, Thunder Bay and Toronto. They would like to encourage citizens all across the province to come out and support the participating choirs at their concerts. This is the first-ever here, but it's going to become an annual celebration -- Ontario Sings. It has a mission to enhance the cultural and economic well-being of communities in Ontario through the magic of youth choral singing.


Mr Speaker, you can join me at noon today, along with others -- including MPP Wayne Arthurs, because his choir was here as well -- to hear some songs: a little sample from the Young Singers of Durham region, and Toronto's own from my riding of Toronto-Danforth, the Riverdale Youth Singers. They are with us in the gallery today. I have to tell you that the Riverdale Youth Singers sang beautifully, as did the other group. The Riverdale Youth Singers will be singing in St Patrick's Presbyterian, I believe, on Saturday night. I will be there and I encourage everybody to come out and hear these great singers all across the province on Saturday.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell): Il me fait grandement plaisir de partager avec mes collègues de l'Assemblée législative le projet Mission Pérou. Ce projet était conçu en 1993 en partenariat avec le village d'Indiana au Pérou, au coeur de la jungle amazonienne. Cette année je suis fier que ce projet était repris par un groupe de 14 personnes de la communauté de Clarence-Rockland dans ma circonscription.

Les participants vivront trois semaines, au mois d'août prochain, dans des familles d'accueil. Même si le but premier de leur séjour est d'agrandir un système d'aqueduc, ce projet permettra aux jeunes d'acquérir des valeurs humaines, telles que la sensibilisation à la pauvreté et l'ouverture d'esprit.

Le groupe a tout un défi à relever. Le groupe Mission Pérou tiendra un bercethon cette fin de semaine à l'aréna Jean-Marc Lalonde à Rockland. Ceci étant dit, je me joindrai aux personnalités de la région qui tenteront de se bercer pendant 30 heures consécutives cette fin de semaine.

Finalement, permettez-moi de partager avec mes collègues de l'Assemblée législative les noms des participants de Mission Pérou : Denis Lalonde, organisateur en chef; de l'Université d'Ottawa, Joëlle Séguin et Monique Lefebvre; et de l'école secondaire l'Escale de Rockland, Marie-Pier Lalonde, Marie-Claude Bellemare, Yanick Bernard, Mélanie Boyle, Mélanie Brunet, Gabriel Huppé, Dominik Legault, Catherine Séguin, Emmanuelle Séguin, Julie Séguin et Mariève Vaillancourt.

J'aimerais féliciter le groupe Mission Pérou. Bonne chance, bon voyage, et bon retour, chers amis de chez nous.


Mr Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka): I stand today to raise the concerns of the bottled water industry of Ontario. I recently received a letter from the Muskoka Springs Natural Spring Water company, a business located in the town of Gravenhurst in my beautiful riding of Perry Sound-Muskoka. It employs 20 people and meets and exceeds all government regulations governing product quality, labelling and manufacturing practices. Yet they, like water bottling companies all over this province, are being singled out to pay a water-taking fee to cover source protection costs.

Now let me be clear: The Canadian Bottled Water Association believes in the importance of water source protection. In fact, they support it very strongly. Their concern stems from the fact that they are being expected to cover this cost unequally. The CBWA believes that the MOE must consider its water protection policies on the basis of scientific data, while bearing in mind the economic impact.

Bottled water is a very high-value-added industry and is one of, if not the most efficient and clean users of water in Ontario. Over 97% of the water taken is used for human consumption. It is an industry where profit margins are measured in fractions of a cent. Bottled water counts for less than 0.2% of the water taken in Ontario each year.

Given this incredibly small portion of water taken in Ontario, it seems unfair to be singling them out to foot the bill. A water-taking fee like that proposed by the government could have devastating effects on businesses all over the province. I ask that the government listen to the concerns raised by the Canadian Bottled Water Association.


Mr Shafiq Qaadri (Etobicoke North): I rise as a member of this Legislature, as well as a physician, to speak about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, specifically the conditions emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

There are many reasons to be concerned. COPD is one of the few leading causes of death on the rise, soon to be the third leading cause of death by the year 2020. Many of us know people with COPD. People with this disease, for example, have difficulty with simple tasks like walking upstairs, throwing a ball to a grandchild or even talking, because they struggle for every breath. Having COPD is like breathing through a straw.

There are 270,000 COPD patients in Ontario alone, and an equal number remain undiagnosed. Every day, 115 people with COPD are admitted to Ontario hospitals. It is the fifth-ranking major cause of hospitalization. There is no cure for COPD, but it can be managed. Disease education, pulmonary rehabilitation, home oxygen and inhaled medications can improve the quality of life for our patients, keeping them out of emergency departments.

I invite all members of the House to attend an Ontario Lung Association COPD event, many members of which are represented today in the visitors' gallery. This will be taking place in committee room 228 from 5 pm to 7 pm.


Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): I rise in the House today to congratulate our Premier, Dalton McGuinty. This morning, the Premier was named "tool of the day" by John Derringer at Toronto's famous radio station Q107. What makes this award so remarkable is that it's not the first time Dalton has won this prestigious award. This time Ql07's John Derringer recognized the Premier for his ability to create tax increases that manage to affect every Ontarian in some way or another. I can't help but remember the commercial that aired during the election. It's the one where Dalton McGuinty promised millions of people over and over again, "I will not raise your taxes." But now, McGuinty is making a total mockery out of the democratic process by pretending that the election never happened. Ontarians are on to this guy. Ontarians are asking, why is the Premier breaking so many promises?

We all know that the Liberals won a comfortable majority on October 2, yet, in spite of their victory, the McGuinty Liberals hired a consulting firm to conduct focus groups in six locations across the province. In total, only about 250 people were asked to react to the list provided by the McGuinty government. Over the last couple of days, it has become increasingly apparent that the pre-programmed opinions of these 250 people have more value than the results of the free vote which represented 12 million people in the province. I say to the Premier, if the election was meaningless, then maybe that's why you are treating the promises you made during the election as meaningless.

Congratulations to Q107 and their ability to choose recipients of their prestigious award.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Toronto-Danforth): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to take this opportunity to correct the record and tell you that the Riverdale Youth choir is singing at St Johns Presbyterian Church at 415 Danforth on Saturday night at 7.

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): That point of order was good information.


The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): In the east gallery is Gurbans S. Sobti, adviser to the Consulate General of Canada in India, and Damanbir Singh Jaspal, principal secretary to the government of Punjab. We all welcome you.



The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): I beg to inform the House that today the Clerk received the report on intended appointments dated April 28, 2004, of the standing committee on government agencies. Pursuant to standing order 106(e)9, the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.


LOI DE 2004

Mr Peters moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 68, An Act to amend the repeal date of the Edible Oil Products Act / Projet de loi 68, Loi modifiant la date d'abrogation de la Loi sur les produits oléagineux comestibles.

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Hon Steve Peters (Minister of Agriculture and Food): I will defer my comments to ministerial statements.



Ms Marsales moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 69, An Act to prevent unsolicited messages on the Internet / Projet de loi 69, Loi visant à empêcher la diffusion sur Internet de messages non sollicités.

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Ms Judy Marsales (Hamilton West): The bill provides for initiatives to control spam on the Internet. Sections 2 and 3 require the Minister of Consumer and Business Services to initiate consultations with other governments and with the Canadian Association of Internet Providers relating to the control of spam.

Section 4 of the bill provides that any person may give notice to the minister or the body to which the minister delegates responsibility that they wish to be on a no-spam list, and persons sending spam must first check to see if the address is on the no-spam list. The list will not be a public document, and the minister will provide only negative information from it; for example, that an address is not on the list.

Section 9 of the bill provides that wherever a message is initiated, if it is received by a person in Ontario, it is deemed to have been sent to that person, and the act of sending it is deemed to have been carried out in Ontario.

The bill provides for offences and punishments that are more severe in respect of messages that involve pornography, explicit sexual activity or attempted fraud, or that target children as its receivers. It also provides a cause for civil action in nuisance for sending excessive spam and deems damage to have been caused if the volume is sufficient to cause inconvenience.



Hon Steve Peters (Minister of Agriculture and Food): Today I am introducing a bill that will support this government as it continues to deliver real, positive change to make Ontario strong, healthy and prosperous. In December 2002, as a member of the opposition, I expressed a great deal of concern regarding a clause of the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001, that allowed for the repeal of the Edible Oil Products Act on June 1, 2003.

We were concerned after lengthy discussions with dairy stakeholders, who were troubled because existing federal regulations were not adequate to protect consumers from fraud and mislabelling of non-dairy products that might resemble dairy products. Because of these valid concerns, a bill was passed in December 2002 that delayed the repeal date of the Edible Oils Product Act to 2004.

The future repeal of the EOPA will allow for the manufacture and sale of a wide range of new foods in Ontario that are already available elsewhere in Canada. We do look forward to that. But first we must be confident that our consumers will be protected from fraud and mislabelling of products.

In my current role as Minister of Agriculture and Food, I know my ministry is working with the federal government and industry stakeholders to ensure that federal regulations will protect consumers. It has, however, become clear that more work needs to be done. For this reason, I'm introducing a bill that, if passed, would amend the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001, to allow for a further delay in the repeal of the Edible Oil Products Act.

OMAF's priority is to ensure that consumers are protected against fraud and are well informed about the products they buy and consume. We believe that a strong federal regulatory framework that focuses on fraud prevention and ensures that consumers have the product information they need to make informed choices is the best approach. In our view, the regulatory framework should apply equally to all foods. By moving the repeal deadline to January 2005, all industry stakeholders will have the necessary time to ensure that regulations are in place to adequately protect both consumers and the dairy and edible oil industries.

Notwithstanding the extension of the repeal of the Edible Oil Products Act, Ontario remains committed to the principle of consumer choice in the marketplace and to breaking down interprovincial trade barriers with respect to edible oils and other products. For this reason, we are also proposing regulatory changes over the next few weeks under the Edible Oil Products Act. The proposed changes would allow some edible-oil-based products on the market prior to the repeal of the act; for example, soy- and canola-oil-based alternatives to cheese made with a limited amount of milk protein. In addition, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission will be considering regulatory changes to the Milk Act to allow for a limited number of specific products under the Milk Act, such as milk beverages with added omega-3 fatty acids.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food will coordinate the enforcement of new products with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure adequate labelling and advertising, and the ministry will be actively enforcing the placement and labelling requirements of the Edible Oil Products Act for as long as this legislation remains in place.

A delay in the repeal date of the Edible Oil Products Act will allow for the phasing in of edible oil products to the market and will set the stage for orderly and efficient deregulation of these products.

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Responses?

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I rise today to speak to the introduction of the bill dealing with the edible oil act. I want to commend the minister for bringing this legislation forward. In fairness, a similar piece of legislation was brought forward a year ago, with the support of the present minister when he was in opposition, because of the need to do exactly what he put forward in his statement: to protect our dairy industry and to protect our consumers from fraud on the store shelves. This bill is an extension of the extension that was put in a year ago.

The reason I bring that up is that I think it's so important to recognize that a lot of work needs to be done to protect the products on store shelves, to make sure that when someone goes into a store to buy a container that has "milk" on it, regardless of whether it has another descriptive term, it does not describe something else that in fact is not milk, such as putting something on the store shelf saying "soy milk." I think we need some regulatory regime in place to make sure that when people are buying dairy products, that's in fact what they're buying. Again, I want to commend the minister for introducing it and for supporting the same type of bill a year ago.

I do have some concerns with the bill, and they have to do with the timelines. We went through this a year ago, and one of the conditions was that both the grain and oilseed industry and the dairy industry would work together with the federal and provincial governments to put the framework in place for a national code for the labelling of these products. Obviously, a year later, that has not yet happened and, as the minister mentioned, much more work needs to be done. I'm not sure that six months is sufficient time in which to do that, but again it's six months more than presently exists, so I commend the minister for bringing that forward.


As I said, it's important to recognize that we need to protect consumers for the products they are buying, making sure the label says what it is they're getting. At the same time, we also need to make sure that these products are available to all consumers and that you don't have to buy dairy products; you can buy a mixture of products or other products as you deem appropriate. There are people in our society who cannot consume dairy products, but they want the other products on store shelves.

In the minister's statement he speaks to making regulatory changes. I guess it's still left open as to what those regulatory changes will be, that they are not to such an extent that they negate the edible oils act altogether. We'll be looking forward to making sure that, as those regulations are coming forward, they just do what the minister suggested they are going to do and not go well beyond that to negate the edible oils act.

One other concern I have in the minister's statement was that he was going to enforce the edible oils act during the period we're putting this in place, the phasing in. The concern is, if it's only enforcing those products that are going to be allowed through regulation which are presently not allowed, that's one thing, but if we're going to enforce the edible oils act in its entirety, there are many places and many stores that have these products on their shelves today. I'm not sure the minister has pointed out where he's going to get the enforcement capabilities in order to make sure none of that is happening in the next six months, nor am I sure the minister intends or would want to do that.

Having said that, I just want to very quickly go back to the start of the statement, that these are positive changes for a strong, healthy and positive Ontario. I'm pleased to hear that, but there were many things the minister has done in the past that were not doing that, such as turning a public inquiry into a public review on meat inspection, turning meat inspection over so that in fact we could have no meat inspection if there was a work stoppage in our society through contract negotiations, and turning nutrient management over to the Ministry of the Environment so it will not have any agriculture control over it or responsibility for it.

These were not positive changes for my farm community. I just want to point out that, though we totally agree with this being brought forward today, there are some other things where he has some work to do yet in order to give farmers what they had before this minister became Minister of Agriculture.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): I want to thank the ministry staff for the briefing they gave me on behalf of the New Democrats here at Queen's Park at noontime, and I want to thank the minister for giving me a copy of the bill prior to introducing it today for first reading.

The bill, as the minister indicates, is a very simple one. It effectively is one sentence, amending the Food Safety and Quality Act of 2001 to extend the date for the repeal of the Edible Oil Products Act from June 1, 2004, to January 1, 2005.

Having received a copy of the bill and having had a chance to examine it and determine that it does what we support it doing, and having talked to advocates for Ontario's dairy farmers, I can tell you that members of the New Democratic Party will be agreeable to speedy passage of this bill; in fact, we will ensure that that happens today.

The fear, of course, is that the June 1 date occurs before the bill is passed and then an even greater mess than was originally anticipated when the Tories mishandled this matter is repeated by this government.

I was drawn into the debate by happenstance. I was subbing for our leader, Howard Hampton, who was on the committee, doing the work and very dedicated to this issue, and found myself intrigued by the revelations being made by Ontario dairy farmers.

Look, down where I come from is like in northern Ontario: Dairy farmers are small, mom-and-pop operations still. By and large, it's people who work very hard, very committed, in many instances multi-generational, great stewards of their land and working some years for negative incomes. The life of a farmer is not a happy one in this province, in this country. It's an incredible amount of hard work and commitment to that industry, to that lifestyle, with dedication, skill and talent on the part of those people.

We learned in that committee that dairy products are being pushed aside by edible oil food products that are masquerading as cheeses, milks, yoghurts and other types of dairy products. Quite frankly, it's criminal to pass off something that is the furthest thing in the world from dairy as a dairy product, as something that came from the hard work and management of hard-working dairy farmers. New Democrats were, and continue to be, more than eager to see dairy farmers and their product protected.

However, take a look at the history here. The province, this government, is telling us that they're counting on the feds to create regulations that are going to protect dairy products and prevent imposters from the edible oil industry from taking shelf space away from those dairy products. But the fact is that the feds have not been forthcoming with that regulation. Understand that once the Edible Oil Products Act is repealed, then the province's regulation of those goods is eliminated. Getting that back on to the burner is going to be a feckless endeavour, to be most conservative about its estimation of success.

I'm concerned because January 1, of course, when the House is not going to be sitting, could well come around without there having been a satisfactory regulatory regime prepared by the federal government. Once January 1 comes with this bill, all the leverage is gone; it's over. The game is over. Whatever the feds produce is what we live with and what our dairy farmers live with. Understand that the competitors of dairy farmers are not small operators; they're big corporate entities. Unilever was one of the players in that committee room trying to argue the point for edible oil products masquerading as dairy products. I had no time for them, quite frankly. I listened carefully to what they said but I had no time for their argument. Their argument was without substance. But Unilever and their ilk, as corporate entities with huge resources, have incredible clout with the federal Liberal government -- in the back pocket of the big, corporate personality. You know that. My Liberal colleagues here in the rump know that full well.

My fear is that the Unilevers can get to the minister's counterpart in Ottawa. My fear is that the Unilevers can use this but brief delay in the repeal as an opportunity to slide their agenda right through. I say to you that a far more effective proposal would have been to repeal the repeal and allow the Edible Oil Products Act to remain until an adequate regulatory regime was established. Having said that, you can bet your boots that people will be watching this government closely to ensure that January 1 doesn't come by without adequate protection for dairy farmers.



Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 27, An Act to establish a greenbelt study area and to amend the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001 / Projet de loi 27, Loi établissant une zone d'étude de la ceinture de verdure et modifiant la Loi de 2001 sur la conservation de la moraine d'Oak Ridges.

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): We have a deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 27, An Act to establish a greenbelt study area and to amend the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001.

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

The division bells rang from 1408 to 1413.

The Speaker: All those in favour, please rise one at a time to be recognized by the Clerk.


Arthurs, Wayne

Bartolucci, Rick

Bentley, Christopher

Berardinetti, Lorenzo

Bisson, Gilles

Bountrogianni, Marie

Broten, Laurel C.

Bryant, Michael

Cansfield, Donna H.

Caplan, David

Chambers, Mary Anne V.

Churley, Marilyn

Colle, Mike

Cordiano, Joseph

Craitor, Kim

Crozier, Bruce

Delaney, Bob

Dhillon, Vic

Di Cocco, Caroline

Dombrowsky, Leona

Duguid, Brad

Duncan, Dwight

Flynn, Kevin Daniel

Fonseca, Peter

Gerretsen, John

Hoy, Pat

Jeffrey, Linda

Kennedy, Gerard

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Levac, Dave

Marchese, Rosario

Marsales, Judy

Mauro, Bill

McMeekin, Ted

McNeely, Phil

Meilleur, Madeleine

Milloy, John

Mitchell, Carol

Mossop, Jennifer F.

Orazietti, David

Parsons, Ernie

Patten, Richard

Peters, Steve

Peterson, Tim

Phillips, Gerry

Prue, Michael

Pupatello, Sandra

Qaadri, Shafiq

Ramal, Khalil

Ramsay, David

Rinaldi, Lou

Sandals, Liz

Smitherman, George

Takhar, Harinder S.

Van Bommel, Maria

Watson, Jim

Wilkinson, John

Wong, Tony C.

Wynne, Kathleen O.

Zimmer, David

The Speaker: All those opposed, please rise.


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Dunlop, Garfield

Eves, Ernie

Hardeman, Ernie

Hudak, Tim

Klees, Frank

Martiniuk, Gerry

Miller, Norm

Murdoch, Bill

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Runciman, Robert W.

Scott, Laurie

Tascona, Joseph N.

Witmer, Elizabeth

Yakabuski, John

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 61; the nays are 18.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Hon John Gerretsen (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, minister responsible for seniors): I move that the bill be referred to the standing committee on general government.

The Speaker: The bill is accordingly referred.


Hon Christopher Bentley (Minister of Labour): Mr Speaker, I understand we have unanimous consent for each party to speak for up to five minutes on the International Day of Mourning.

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.

Hon Mr Bentley: Today is a day of mourning. It is the day when we honour and remember those who have died, been injured or become ill from their work. Today is a special day for those we remember. But it is also a day like the rest, when mothers and fathers, sons and daughters get ready for work.

A special day when we remember the pain and suffering of those who have been injured, killed or become ill. A special day when we remember the hopes and dreams, the promise of a future that will not now be realized.

A day like the rest: the alarm, the rush to eat; plans for the day are quickly made. Do the children need to get up yet, or is it too early? The quick hug goodbye -- or maybe that was missed in the rush.

A special day when we remember the anguish of those who received the call about their loved ones or who saw them suffer from disease.

A day like any other, where almost 1,000 Ontarians will be injured in workplace accidents -- over 300,000 every year -- and others will contract occupational disease that will not show up until years later. A day where someone might die of a workplace accident or occupational disease.

A special day where we stand silent and remember. We remember so others will not forget. We remember so others will learn. We remember so we all will succeed. A day where we stand together and say, "No job is worth a life. No job is worth injury or illness."

How, then, do we honour the memory of those we remember? We honour them by refusing to forget. We honour them by pledging to do better. We honour them by using the knowledge we already have to make our workplaces safer and healthier. We honour them by standing together, regardless of party or position, regardless of age or occupation, from every corner of this province to say, "No more." We honour them by working together to prevent every accident, injury, illness and death in the workplace.

By honouring their memory in this way, we will be one step closer to the day when we can stand on the day of mourning and say, "We remember the fallen, but over the past year there have been no new names to remember"; one step closer to a day, like all the others, when every mother and every father, every son and every daughter, returns from work healthy and safe.


Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Kitchener-Waterloo): Today I join with my colleagues on all sides of the House to say on behalf of our party some words concerning this, the International Day of Mourning. Today we have the opportunity to remember the many workers who have suffered injury or illness or lost their lives while on the job.

Today is a day when we are all reminded, and certainly there have been many examples given to us this past year, of the terrible human, social and economic toll that workplace illnesses, injuries and fatalities can take. So today we join with the workers in this province, the employers and all the others to express our sincere condolences to the families and to the friends of those killed or injured in the workplace. Indeed we extend our sympathy to the family and friends of the steelworker who I understand was killed on the job in Sault Ste Marie yesterday.

Today is also an opportunity for us as legislators to reaffirm our shared commitment to the prevention of illness and injury and zero tolerance for fatalities, for health and safety is not a partisan issue.

I have said this since I was Minister of Labour in 1995: It is a human issue and we all bear responsibility to move forward, to do what we can to prevent illness, death and injury.

There are over 900 Canadians who die each year as a result of injury, illness and accidents in the workplace. So it is up to us to work together to ensure that our workplaces are healthy and safe. It is important that people work together in partnerships. We need to continue to develop the health and safety programs and we need to continue to provide the training that will prevent future illness, death and injury.

I know we have seen some improvements in recent years. However, there is still so much more to do. Education and preventive measures have begun to have a positive impact, particularly on our younger workers. I can remember, as Minister of Labour, receiving a visit from Paul Kells, whose 19-year-old son had been killed in the workplace, and speaking to him about his desire to set up a foundation that would prevent similar tragedies to the one his family had suffered. He set up the Safe Communities Foundation.

That's why we need to continue to stress the education measures, why we need to continue to stress the preventive measures. Health and safety must remain a priority issue for us. We must increase our efforts. So on this day we, as legislators, have that opportunity to renew our personal commitment to the task of eliminating future death, illness and injury, because one death or one injury or one illness will always be one too many.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): New Democrats, with the bittersweet understanding that this is a day of celebrating the incredible sacrifice of workers in the course of building this province and this country, and their deaths, historically and currently -- it's a tragedy that we have to use April 28 still. It's an opportunity to indicate that while we mourn for the dead we have to commit ourselves to fighting for the living and that condolences, no matter how warm and genuine, are of cold comfort to the child whose father or mother doesn't come home at 4 o'clock. They're of cold comfort to the spouse who is widowed. They're of cold comfort to the worker who is crippled and maimed in the workplace. They're of cold comfort to worker after worker after worker who continues to be slaughtered, murdered, in our workplaces.

When we say we fight for the living, it means more than simply regretting the fact that workers die and are poisoned and are maimed. It means, for instance, understanding that a unionized workplace is in and of itself a safer workplace. That means that we have to commit ourselves to the proposition that every worker in this province, in this country, has a right to belong to a trade union and a right to freely, collectively bargain so they can make safer workplaces. That includes agricultural workers -- workers in one of the most dangerous workplaces in this province.

If we're really going to mourn the dead, if we're really going to fight for the living and we're really going to show compassion, then we've got to understand that the violence imposed upon workers isn't just physical, that it's the economic violence against a worker who is forced to work at minimum wage and for whom the concept of a 40-hour workweek is alien because they work at two and three jobs -- the first one 30 hours, the second one 20, and the third one 18.

When we have debates about eliminating a retirement age of 65, we have to understand that the debate is really more about elderly workers having to continue working because of the inadequacy of their pensions, not about their right to work; about elderly people -- our parents and our grandparents -- feeling compelled to work, being compelled to work because their pensions, if they have one, have shrunk and because their savings have been eroded over the passage of even a few brief years.

If we're really going to mourn the dead, then we've got to fight and tell the Liberals in Ottawa to criminalize workplace slaughter and to criminalize workplace poisonings. By God, let some CEOs and presidents and boards of directors of corporations go to jail instead of merely paying fines for slaughtering workers, and you'll start to see some real incentive to create safer workplaces.

If we're really serious about mourning the dead, then we've got to ensure that every worker in this province has access to WSIB workers' comp. We've got to bring the financial services sector into the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board regime. In communities like mine, where the largest single employer is a call centre -- at a financial institution, the largest single employer in my community of Welland, not one of its employees is covered by workers' compensation. Can you understand the tragedy of that? Those workers suffer injuries too. I'll tell you what those workers suffer. Many of them are women who, at the ages of 45 and 50, suffer crippling carpal tunnel syndrome, and not a penny of workers' comp are they entitled to, because their employer is exempt from WSIB.

We've got a lot of work to do, and I say that mere words are of cold and little comfort. It's time for action. It's time to recognize that workers have to acquire increasing control over their workplaces so that they can create the safety that the rush for profits will forever deny them.

Mr Michael Prue (Beaches-East York): It was my privilege to attend the Toronto day of mourning, as I have done for many years. It was held today outside the offices of the Ontario Nurses' Association. That association, along with many other people, were there to mourn those who died during the recent SARS crisis.

Speaker after speaker spoke of the death of their colleagues, the stress on their families, the loss of income and the lack of safety guidelines. Mayor Miller, who was there to speak on behalf of the city of Toronto, chillingly told the assembled multitude that this is the sixth straight year that deaths have gone up in Canada as a result of lack of workers' safety, and there is much to mourn.

At the end, the people assembled agreed unanimously that we need to mourn the dead and fight for the living more than ever before. We really need to change the laws so that the actual statistics go down and not up.

The Speaker: At this moment we will all stand for a moment of silence in respect.

The House observed a moment of silence.




Mr Ernie Eves (Leader of the Opposition): To the Acting Premier: I would like to talk about the subject of user fees and the principles of your party and many of your members today. I'd like to point out that in your expensive focus group yesterday, you talked about imposing user fees on anything from hunting and fishing and vehicle licences to the use of water and energy.

I would like to remind you that on May 10, 1996, your party put out a circular about user fees that said, "They're just silent killers hacking away at the quality of life, city by city, town by town." And I'd like to remind you of your own quote in this House on June 25, 1996, where you said, "Somewhere instead we have to start drawing a basic line under which we know the consequences of what happens when we impose ... user fees.... What we have then is a net reduction in the quality of life." You were speaking of the impact that user fees have on our society. Do you still believe that today?

Hon Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): Thank you for the question. It is interesting, I want to tell you, that our party and our government are not afraid to talk to people and actually listen to them; to receive the advice, have considered input and have it done in a non-partisan fashion. I see the looks of non-comprehension over there that we well recognize.

But I want to say back to the Leader of the Opposition, he is talking to us about user fees, and he sat there and increased co-payments for seniors' drugs. That's the same party that tried to sneak through long-term-care fee increases on a long weekend; that downloaded costs on to municipalities, causing property taxes to go up; that increased user fees and made the 407 a never-ending enterprise.

What I would say to you is that we'll learn at the time of the budget how we have dealt with the advice coming from the public, but to hear this advice coming from the Leader of the Opposition is passingly interesting at least.

Mr Eves: What we're talking about are the principles of yourself, your colleagues, your Premier and your party. We're trying to establish whether you have any at all or whether you've thrown them all away.

Here are a few other quotes, one from Sandra Pupatello in this House on September 2, 1997: "You can call them taxes or you can call them user fees." There's no difference. That's what she believed then; it would be interesting to see what she believes now. On September 25, 1997, Dwight Duncan, the now government House leader and Minister of Energy, said, "There is only one taxpayer. The income taxpayer is the same as the property taxpayer and the same as the person who pays user fees."

Do you and your colleagues still believe that there shouldn't be increases in user fees anywhere, under any circumstances whatsoever? That's what you believed in 1994, 1996 and 1997, and we can bring you right up to date in the next question, if you wish. Do you believe that, or do you have any principles at all over there?

Hon Mr Kennedy: I understand it's not just prurient interest, and I'm sure the Minister of Finance would like to talk to him about the budget coming up.


The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Order. The minister made a full comment on the question already, so to pass it on --

Hon Mr Kennedy: I'm very happy to continue with that answer. The member opposite is asking us to indulge in budget speculation, and he may wish to direct that to the Minister of Finance.


The Speaker: Order. Would you allow him to respond?

Hon Mr Kennedy: What we have here is the opposition party up on their hind legs about user fees, which they made a constant source of grief to the people in this province, user fees they imposed on seniors and on vulnerable people right across this province. To ask us where we stand -- we see where you stand. We see a lack of concern and a lack of consideration for the fundamentals of what is happening in this province.

Mr Eves: As recently as December 2001, your Premier, Mr McGuinty, is quoted as saying, "I don't believe in user fees." Also, during an interview with the Ottawa Citizen on May 14, 1999, he said that any Liberal government would pass taxpayer protection legislation within the first 100 days and that they would outlaw any increase in existing taxes or new taxes or user fees without a referendum. The Liberal leader went on to say, when asked whether a Liberal government would be willing to run a deficit to preserve health and education, that it would be up to the people of Ontario: "We can have a referendum." When can we expect the referendum?

Hon Mr Kennedy: What this House, the public of Ontario and the member opposite can expect is that this government will deal with his $5.6-billion deficit and his $2.2-billion overhead. He can expect that we will deal with the future of this province in a much more circumspect and much more balanced fashion than the mess they left behind. He can expect that on this side of the House our principles will include the views and the impact on every person in this province -- not just a select few; not just a few select friends. In summary, you can expect a radically different government than the one that went before.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean-Carleton): Yesterday the people of Ontario saw through the transparent attempt of this government to manipulate public opinion with their $200,000 untendered contract to a high-priced consultant from Ottawa.

Hon George Smitherman (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): Who's the question to?

Mr Baird: It's to the Acting Premier.

This focus group report was an attempt to justify your big spending and your big deficit.

There is another report you're not so proud of. It's a 60-page report, written by officials at the Ministry of Finance, that details the true cost of your campaign promises. Minister, are you afraid to release this report or is it that you're afraid Ontario taxpayers will soon figure out that it's you and your irresponsible, reckless campaign promises that are the real problem and the real reason behind Ontario's financial woes? Will you do that? Will you release the report?

Hon Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): I think the Minister of Finance is more than anxious to respond to that.

Hon Greg Sorbara (Minister of Finance): I will say to my friend from Nepean-Carleton, first of all, that apropos of the report of the Canadian Policy Research Networks organization, it is one of the most respected organizations of its sort in the entire country. The president of the organization, Ms Judith Maxwell, is one of the best-known and well-respected economists in this country. The fact that you --


Hon Mr Sorbara: I don't think he wants to hear the answer.


The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Order. The member from Nepean-Carleton, you're the one asking the question and you don't seem to be interested at all --

Mr Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): We want an answer.

The Speaker: If you're asking for an answer, then you have listen to the answer and stop having a discussion across.



Mr Baird: Let's be honest: This government is running a closed shop; it's running a secretive, behind-the-scenes agenda that they're not prepared to stand in this place and be accountable for. You're afraid the public will find out that the real reason behind Ontario's financial woes was the reckless and irresponsible promises made by Dalton McGuinty when he was trolling for votes before last October's election.

What have you got to hide, and why won't you release this 60-page report? Why are you going to court to block the official opposition's access to this public document produced with Ontario taxpayers' dollars? Why are you doing that, Minister, and will you release this report today?

Hon Mr Sorbara: Let's get back for the moment to the report that Judith Maxwell made public yesterday and deal with the other report in a moment.

I will just tell him that within the context of pre-budget consultations, the expenditures we made were minimal in comparison to the quality of advice we received, not only from Canadian Research Policy Networks but also from consultations I led as Minister of Finance. We visited some 14 communities -- three-hour consultations. One of the things most noted by me was the number of people who came to the consultations and said things like, "It's the first time in years that I have been invited to this sort of consultation," this from a teacher; from a nurse, "The first time since 1995 that we have been invited to these kinds of consultations." So let me just tell him that the advice we've received was --

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr Baird: The fact remains, Minister, that we had a consultation with the people of Ontario. You didn't need to spend $200,000 on an untendered contract to a Liberal-friendly firm in your boss's home riding to get that advice.

The worst idea contained in this bogus report is the idea of taxing lottery and gaming winnings. What a great idea. You'd have to change the slogan for Lotto 6/49 from "Imagine the Freedom" to "Imagine Dalton McGuinty's Hand Going Into Your Pocket for Another Tax Grab." That's what you'd have to do.

Minister, will you stand in your place and admit that this would be breaking faith with the commitment you made to the people of Ontario? Would you stand in your place and rule out any new tax and any increases in taxes, just as you promised to do before last October's election? Will you do that, Minister?

Hon Mr Sorbara: Let's be fair to my friend and simply say that the expenditures in consultations that we incurred post-election would not have been necessary had that party, when they were in government and before they dissolved Parliament, came clean with the people of Ontario. If they had said, "The finances of this province are in a horrible mess. We want to be re-elected even though we've destroyed the revenue base of the province and let expenditures run wild," we wouldn't have needed those consultations.

I want to tell my friend --


The Speaker: Order. New question.


Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): My question is for the Acting Premier. I was in Hamilton today talking with steelworkers. They are worried about their jobs, the pensions of tens of thousands of workers and retired workers, and the future of their community.

Stelco is in financial trouble and they need the help of the provincial government, but your government and your Premier are showing no leadership at all. All you've offered so far is excuses and your version of the blame game. Acting Premier, when is your government going to show some leadership to sustain the jobs and the pensions at Stelco and the economic future of Hamilton?

Hon Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): Do you want to respond to that?

Hon Joseph Cordiano (Minister of Economic Development and Trade): I want to reassure the people of Hamilton that this government is going to take every initiative we can to ensure that whatever happens on a going-forward basis is going to respect the fact that Hamilton is facing certain circumstances that are quite difficult with respect to Stelco going through the CCAA process, which is in court right now.

We want to reassure the people of Hamilton, as the Premier has and as this government has, that we will take seriously the situation with Stelco, we'll take seriously the situation in Hamilton, and we will endeavour to do what we have to do to make sure that situation is better in the future.

Mr Hampton: The fact is, so far your government has done nothing. I just want to give you some examples. I remember when Algoma Steel was in trouble. I was part of a government that showed leadership and got people to the table to sustain jobs and pensions. Provincial Papers in Thunder Bay, Spruce Falls in Kapuskasing, de Havilland Aircraft in Toronto, St Marys Paper in Sault Ste Marie: In all of those cases we showed leadership, so we were able to sustain jobs, pensions and economic activity.

So far, all I've heard from your Premier is an effort to engage in the blame game. So I put it to you again: When are you going to get to the table? When are you going to show leadership? Are you going to do that soon, or are you going to continue to duck and try to play the blame game? When are you going to show leadership?

Hon Mr Cordiano: I want to make it clear to this House and remind members just what happened in the past, lest the member opposite have amnesia now. It was your government in 1992, the Bob Rae government, that allowed for a contribution holiday on pensions, and that created the huge mess we have today at Stelco -- a huge mess. It was that irresponsible move, way back in Bob Rae's government -- which, I remind the member, you were a part of. You were a cabinet minister in that government. It was that contribution holiday which created this huge mess.

I say to the member, furthermore, that he doesn't care too much about steelworkers; he doesn't care too much about auto workers. As he said in a quote -- and I quote from the Toronto Star, December 16, 2000. What did Howard Hampton have to say about steelworkers? "We could blow our brains out trying to talk to these guys." That's a quote from you about the steelworkers.

All of a sudden he's worried about Hamilton and the steelworkers. You created a mess in the past. We take no --

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): New question.

Mr Hampton: So that the minister can remember, in 1992, Chrysler Canada was in trouble.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Hampton: Apparently the government does not want to hear these questions.

I already pointed out that, for example, Algoma Steel was repositioned. Kapuskasing's Spruce Falls was repositioned. De Havilland Aircraft, now Bombardier, was repositioned.

Are you saying that you can't take any leadership role? Are you saying your government doesn't have a role to play here, or are you just timid? When are you going to show some leadership?

There are all kinds of options open to you -- all kinds of options. If you look at Algoma Steel, if you look at St Marys, if you look at Provincial Papers, if you look at Kapuskasing, Bombardier, formerly de Havilland Aircraft, there are all kinds of options for the provincial government to show some leadership. When are you going to show that leadership?

Hon Mr Cordiano: Let me guarantee the member opposite that the leadership shown around here is by our Premier, who said he intends to do everything to help the people of Hamilton. Let me remind members of the House, isn't it passing strange that this is the first time the leader of the third party has mentioned -- even mentioned once -- the Stelco situation and the plight of the workers in Hamilton? This is the first time you've discussed this matter in this House. So don't talk about leadership.


We will show leadership. The Premier appointed a special adviser, Jim Arnett, to monitor the situation. In fact, as I pointed out, Stelco currently is going through the CCAA process in the courts, and it would be entirely inappropriate to talk about any additional actions that might be taken --

The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr Hampton: Minister, let me point out some of the options that are open to you. We've had successful worker buyouts in this province before: Spruce Falls paper in Kapuskasing, Provincial Papers in Thunder Bay. We've had successful repositioning where the province comes to the table and provides a loan guarantee so private capital gets involved. Your government has done nothing. What we've heard from the Premier so far is an attempt to duck and engage in the blame game.

Monitoring isn't going to do it, Minister. When are you going to come to the table and put some real options there? When are you going to show some leadership for the workers, the retirees of Stelco and the economic future of Hamilton? When do we see the leadership? When do you stop playing the blame game?

Hon Mr Cordiano: I have to say to the leader of the third party, you want to talk about success? You had no success when you were the government. Business after business went out of business. There was a record of bankruptcies during the time you were the government; failure after failure. We won't make that mistake.

I tell you and I tell this House that the Premier of this province, Dalton McGuinty, is showing leadership. He has clearly indicated that we will be helping the people of Hamilton. We will be looking at the situation with Stelco. But I want to remind members that it was the government of Bob Rae that allowed for a contribution holiday to pensions, that created what we now have, a billion-dollar mess in Stelco. That is directly laid at your doorstep, and it's your responsibility and your fault. We'll clean up that mess as we have to clean up the messes created by the previous government.


Mr Tim Hudak (Erie-Lincoln): A question to the Acting Premier: Is your proposed tax on lottery and casino winnings a tax increase by your definition?

Hon Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): I'll refer this question to the Minister of Finance.

Hon Greg Sorbara (Minister of Finance): I simply can't agree with the premise of the question, so it's very difficult to answer it. He refers to our "proposed tax" on lotteries, and there is no such proposed tax on lotteries. So the question really doesn't have any meaning.

Mr Hudak: I guess the finance minister hasn't read his own untendered, taxpayer-funded, $200,000 contract that puts this on the table. The Toronto Star found it, the Toronto Sun found it: the new McGuinty plan to tax lottery and casino winnings across the province of Ontario. The taxpayers fought back in diners and restaurants across this province against the McGuinty-proposed soup-and-salad tax. You had to back down. Don't tell us you're going after these things again.

Look at this report. It talks about increasing hunting fees, fishing, boats, cars, tap water, alcohol, tobacco and lottery winnings. Are you going to put your hand in the pocket of the winner of the Lions' Club bingo? We read the Premier's lips. He said, "No new taxes." This new tax on lotteries and casinos, Acting Premier: Just say it ain't so.

Hon Mr Sorbara: I will tell my dear friend from Erie-Lincoln a couple of things. Let's start with this: The sales tax exemption on meals $4 and under never made it to first base.


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Sorbara: It was never under active consideration. Long before the restaurant association and the opposition mounted their little foofaraw, it was off the table. I'll just tell him that what he needs to do is make sure that at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon on May 18 --

Hon Gerry Phillips (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): Where?

Hon Mr Sorbara: In this Legislature -- that we will all be present, and we will be presenting the budget, and it will start Ontario down a new road to better and sounder fiscal management.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North): My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. As you certainly know, the forest products industry in Ontario is going through some very challenging times. In addition to the softwood lumber dispute and the rising dollar, several companies as well as area municipal leaders in my riding have argued that a decline in the wood supply is also having a significant impact on their ability to do business. Specifically, they have expressed concern about the quality of the ministry's forest information and how wood supply analysis is carried out in Ontario. Do you think these concerns are legitimate, and if you do, do have any plans to deal with the issue?

Hon David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources): I very much appreciate the continuing interest and the member's concern about the supply of wood fibre for his industries in northwestern Ontario. In fact, this first came up at a municipal meeting of the Thunder Bay Municipal Association that both Minister Bartolucci and I attended in November. Subsequent to that, I've met with forest companies that are very concerned, especially with the land set-asides that have happened over the last few years. It seems to me that we could do a better job in inventorying our forests and really identifying what wood fibre is out there. To that extent, I have announced a pilot project with Bowater Forest Products of Thunder Bay. We're going to be working with them in developing some better systems.

Mr Gravelle: I appreciate that. I think it's probably worth noting that when you and Minister Bartolucci attended the municipal meeting, that was the first time a minister has ever attended a Thunder Bay district municipal meeting. We were grateful to see you there.

I'm very glad that you've been willing not only to acknowledge the concerns of the industry related to wood supply but also to deal with them. The pilot project with Bowater strikes me as a specific way to work out increasing the wood supply to the forest products industry. Having said that, can you provide me with more details on the pilot project and specifically how it will hopefully result in a more stable wood supply?

Hon Mr Ramsay: The other approach that I want to do -- the previous government had really downloaded a lot of the responsibility of forest inventory to the forest companies. I would like the crown to take back a little more proactive role. What I see in the pilot project is more of a collaborative role between the ministry and the private sector. I would like to try this out but also start to apply a lot of the private sector forest inventory tools that I've seen. Some of it is a combination of satellite imagery with aerial photography that can basically identify trees right down to the forest floor. This is something that was never done before. I'd like to see that in a pilot situation with the ministry and companies working together. With that, we can come up with a more successful forest inventory system.


Mr Frank Klees (Oak Ridges): My question is to the Deputy Premier. You will know that in the last election more than 12 million people in the province heard you and your leader commit to no new taxes. There was no mention of any user fees, and obviously that is what they expected. Can you tell us today how 250 hand-picked people have more to say and can overturn your entire political platform so that now we're facing a string of increased taxes and user fees for the people of the province? Can you tell me how 250 people can do that and have that effect on your policies?

Hon Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): To hear the member opposite talk -- he has a really tough time, as his leaders and other do, in trying to understand the job that the government has: to listen to people. We picked the best non-profit organization uniquely placed to do this -- they did it for the Romanow commission -- to gather it up, and we got real input from people in this province. We have that as one of the many inputs that we've taken in. We're talking to the people in this province in terms of our agenda; we're not afraid to do that. But we are not going to do what that government did, which was to have a budget somewhere away from this place and spend a million dollars putting out pamphlets promoting it, trying to control public opinion rather than listening to people. We're not afraid of what the people have to say, and we're not afraid of putting to them the kind of mess that you left us. Let me tell you clearly: This government, once it has listened, will take action, will provide direction to this province and will make up for the failings of the government that went before us.


Mr Klees: At 250 people in six cities, that's 41 people per city. That's what you're listening to. I am interested, and I heard you say, "We are not afraid to receive the advice of Ontarians." I would like to put this challenge to the Deputy Premier: If, in fact, he is not afraid to listen to the people of Ontario, how many thousands of signatures on a "Recall Dalton McGuinty" petition will it take to have him listen and respond to that?

Hon Mr Kennedy: I understand very well. The members opposite, the government they went through, until the ramparts were burning, they weren't listening to anybody, but on this side of the House, we're receptive to good ideas, we're receptive to people talking to us, and we are listening.

You know what we're also not afraid of? We're not afraid of our responsibilities. We have to clean up after you. We have to clean up after the lack of fiscal probity on the part of the previous government. We have to clean up after the lack of direction you had in terms of dealing with essential issues, in terms of health care and education.

But we have in this government a direction, and we have built back the beginnings of trust again and what government can do. Part of that, yes, is having people spend eight to 10 hours, totally unpaid, of their own time looking at the issues of government. I can tell you that on this side of the House, every member has been engaged in problem-solving, in trying to do the things that are needed here. We didn't let a bunch of people in the backroom make decisions. That's what you did; that's your style. What's happening here is us and the public.

Mr Klees: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to put the member on notice that we will be starting that recall petition, and we'll see how many of those --

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): That's not a point of order.


Mr Kim Craitor (Niagara Falls): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture. Minister, the fruit industry is incredibly important in my riding. The tender fruit growers in Niagara are one of the keystone industries in the Niagara region and in all of Ontario.

I'm pleased to have met with a large group of tender fruit growers recently in Niagara-on-the-Lake to hear their concerns on many issues that impact their industry. They were all concerned with the impact that the plum pox virus would have on the fruit and ornamental tree industry. Yesterday, an announcement was made about the program to eradicate the plum pox virus. Could the minister tell this House and the people of Ontario about that program?

Hon Steve Peters (Minister of Agriculture and Food): I want to thank the member from Niagara for the question today, because Ontario is committed to working with the federal government to provide its share of financial assistance to affected tender fruit growers in the Niagara Peninsula.

This funding announcement that was made yesterday is going to provide for an additional seven years of testing and sampling within the tender fruit industry. Over the past three years, over 600,000 samples have been made, but eradication of the plum pox virus is the key.

We want to make sure that we have a sustainable, successful tender fruit industry in this province. I think it's important to understand that plum pox is a virus that affects the tree; it's not something that in any way affects human health. I look forward to your upcoming question.

Mr Craitor: First, I want to say to the minister that myself and the people in my riding, particularly the growers, are glad that this issue is being addressed, but I also want to tell the House that the Niagara region depends on this industry for its direct economic benefits but also for the benefits derived from the tourism industry that this creates.

Throughout the summer and fall, people come from great distances to drive throughout the countryside to get the fresh Niagara fruit and fruit products that everyone enjoys. Everyone realizes that this drastic measure needs to be taken, but I am concerned about the growers who may have their trees cut down in the eradication process. Is there a program to provide compensation for their losses?

Hon Mr Peters: We're very concerned about this industry as well, because this is an industry that is a very important part of the economy of this province. I think it's important to understand that 80% of the stone fruit industry in all of Canada comes from the Niagara Peninsula. So this is an industry that we want to ensure is preserved. We're committed to working with the growers as well to ensure that there are adequate compensation programs in place. Part of this announcement that has been made by the federal government will provide up to $20 million over the next seven years to assist those growers in the removal of trees but, I think more importantly, planting new trees, because we want to ensure that the tender fruit industry is one that not only thrives but survives. We recognize the important role it plays, not only in the economy of the Niagara Peninsula but in the whole economy of this province as well, and we're very pleased and proud to be standing behind this most important industry.


Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Trade. Minister, you and your Premier seem to be saying to the people of Hamilton, "Trust us." Well, here's your record on trust: You promised to protect the Oak Ridges moraine from development -- didn't do that; you promised to lower auto insurance rates by 20% -- they're going up by 20%; you promised to maintain the hydro rate cap -- didn't do that; you promised to hire 5,400 new teachers -- now the Premier is trying to deny that. When you don't have a game plan for Stelco, when you're simply standing there saying, "Oh, trust us," given your record of broken promises, why should the people of Hamilton trust you at all?

Hon Joseph Cordiano (Minister of Economic Development and Trade): The question is really to the member of the third party. They didn't trust you at all because you didn't keep your word on public auto insurance. When you made that commitment -- I remember it, and the member from Welland-Thorold, sitting beside you, will remember this -- it was a solemn promise you made in that election campaign in 1990. In fact, you ran the whole election around public auto insurance.

Talk about amnesia. Talk about not living up to the promises you made and didn't keep in that election campaign, I say to the leader of the third party, on public auto insurance. Shall we talk about the social contract and the devastating effects that had? You threw collective bargaining right out the window. So I say to the member, don't lecture us on trust.

Mr Hampton: I say to the minister, you're the government now. Thousands of jobs are at stake, as well as tens of thousands of pensions and the economic future of the community. I'm simply saying to you, empty promises aren't going to work, denials aren't going to work, and playing the blame game isn't going to work. The people of Hamilton and the workers at Stelco deserve better. What are you going to do? What's your game plan to sustain jobs, to sustain pensions and to sustain the economic future of Hamilton? Don't engage in the blame game, and for God's sake, don't pretend that "Trust me" is going to work any longer. You've already broken too many promises. What's the game plan? Where's the leadership? Don't give us any more broken promises.

Hon Mr Cordiano: I want to remind the leader of the third party that the people in Hamilton, the Stelco workers, the people you refer to, trusted your government, and what did your government do in 1992? They allowed Stelco to take a contribution holiday, and as a result, the pension plan was not solvent. You did that. Your government did that. You were a cabinet minister. Where was trust there? Where was confidence then?

We are going to ensure that everything is done that can be done, by a government that acts responsibly. In this matter, I say to the member, we have appointed a special adviser, who is monitoring the situation with Stelco. Stelco is going through CCAA. That court proceeding is ongoing. That will be completed, and at that point this government will take the necessary and appropriate action in a responsible fashion -- something your government failed to do. So don't talk to anybody else about trust and placing trust in this government.


Mr Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): To the Acting Premier: We now know your $200,000 report advocates more user fees; more fines; increased taxes on alcohol, tobacco, gambling, lottery tickets, bingo tickets; increased taxes on boats, cars; tax hikes on gasoline, and diesel fuel may not be far behind.

Last September, your leader, Mr McGuinty, stared right into the camera, telling us, "I won't cut your taxes, but I won't raise them either." Acting Premier, are you going to eliminate what little credibility your government has left? Where once your leader was measured on a spend-o-meter, your leader is now measured on a Pinocchio meter. No wonder people are calling for a recall. Are you going to break the promise and jack up taxes?


The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Order. Do you want to withdraw that language? Would you like to withdraw that unparliamentary word?

Interjection: Which one was it?

The Speaker: "Pinocchio."


The Speaker: Order. I don't take it as a laughing matter, as a matter of fact, I'd like to remind the members.

Mr Barrett: I did make reference to a Pinocchio meter.

The Speaker: Would you withdraw?

Mr Barrett: I withdraw.

Hon Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): This former government is now reduced to lists of scaremongering. They simply can't come to terms with -- the lists of things you're talking about were brought forward by people in open discussion. Do you know what the people of this province do recall? They do recall a government too arrogant to listen to their ideas. They do recall a government that misused power, and they recall -- because we can't forget it; the information comes out day after day -- how the government misused their power to reward their friends.

There is example after example of people in connection with your government who had access, all right. They didn't get to say their ideas in open forum. They didn't get to put them down on paper. They didn't have them captured by the pre-eminent person of consulting with people in this province, getting their genuine views independently. They got it through the back door. That doesn't happen in our government.

The Speaker: Supplementary?

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): Minister, you picked the pockets of Ontario's public in a number of ways through increasing taxes. Now your report is calling for even more taxes, with the focus on luxury taxes. You've already gone to the easiest target, which is tobacco, and promised to increase those taxes even more dramatically in the future. It's sort of like taking candy from a baby, isn't it? I hope that doesn't give you any ideas.

Minister, with your fondness for raising taxes, tobacco farmers are worried that they will be easy targets over and over again. Can you assure tobacco farmers that your budget will not increase taxes on tobacco products beyond what you predicted in your election campaign?

Hon Mr Kennedy: We remember well the election campaign fought by a government saying there was no deficit, saying that the books were balanced. That's what every member sitting opposite told the people in their riding: "We've got this handled, folks." Instead, what did the Provincial Auditor find? A $5.6-billion deficit with another $2.2 billion of pressures, hidden deficits parked with children's aid societies, parked with hospitals, because you couldn't manage. You couldn't manage the responsibilities on this side of the House.

We say that we are listening. The people who want to know what we do with the input will listen to the fine Minister of Finance stand in his place in this House on May 18 and tell people in summary what we have done with the advice we've gotten. We will take a direction, and that direction will take into account every person in this province. We'll discharge our responsibilities fairly and, as the title of that very useful report said, in balance.


Mr Dave Levac (Brant): My question is to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. For the past 10 years, I've been a member of a very progressive group in my riding dealing with the skills trades shortages we are experiencing in our community -- and I know it's happening across the province as well. The Brant Skills Development Group is an organization that was formed by industry leaders in my riding to address this very important issue. Over the past several years, this group has desperately wanted to work with government to deal with the skills trades problem. The industries are willing; the school boards, that are part of this group, are willing; and the college in my riding, that is part of this group as well, is willing.

Minister, are you willing to meet with this concerned organization to hear their ideas and concerns regarding skills trades and tell them what our government is doing to solve this very serious local and provincial problem?

Hon Mary Anne V. Chambers (Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities): I'd like to thank the member from Brant for that question. I'd also like to take this opportunity to ask him to convey my appreciation, our government's appreciation, to the Brant Skills Development Group. No government can do all that needs to be done on its own, and I'm really pleased to have partners like that group.

I would be very pleased to meet with them and share with them our recent announcement of $18 million in apprenticeship program enhancements. Please convey to them that I am looking forward to meeting them.

Mr Levac: Thank you very much for that commitment. I know that our group and the industries in our riding will be very pleased to hear that response, knowing you want to be a partner in this problem across the province as well. Minister, thanks for making that commitment.

While investing in skills training is a very important thing for Ontarians to achieve that potential, it's not the only way to do it. I know that many college and university students, as we speak, are starting to return home to my community and communities across the province and are still in search of a summer job that sends them down the path to those types of skills we're talking about. Minister, can you please inform this House what the government is doing to help those students in my riding and in ridings across Ontario start their path toward skills development?

Hon Mrs Chambers: I'm also pleased to share with the member from Brant and all members in this House that we recently announced $50 million in summer job programs that will serve 57,000 students, and this --


The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Order. Let me see if I can get the member for Nepean-Carleton and the member for Windsor West so we can continue our question period. Order.

Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Hon Mrs Chambers: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was focusing on this very important question. It's too bad the members across the floor are not interested.

The summer jobs for the 57,000 students: We need to share that across the province, and all members in this House should be interested in hearing that.

I'd also like employers to know that we will subsidize $2 per hour what they pay these young people. I really hope they take advantage of this opportunity to help our young people.


Mr Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): I have a question for the Acting Premier. Having been around this Legislature for some time, it seems like the government's economic policies are back to the future, when the former Liberal government almost doubled spending in this province, 32 tax increases over their five years, thousands of people building the welfare lists in this province, and we're starting to see the same impact occur after only six months.

It's especially having an impact in the city of Hamilton. If you read the Hamilton Spectator --


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean-Carleton): They think it's funny.

Mr Runciman: They think it's funny, Mr Speaker. I hope the people of Hamilton are noticing this. The Liberals laugh when we raise concerns about the city of Hamilton. That's what is happening: The Liberal benches are laughing. They think raising Hamilton concerns is a laughing matter.


The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): I'm having difficulty hearing the member from Leeds-Grenville.

Mr Runciman: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Apparently they're also laughing at the Hamilton Spectator. I'm quoting from the Hamilton Spectator:

"Byline: Tara Perkins

"The Hamilton area hemorrhaged jobs in February, wiping out most of last year's employment growth....

"February's job losses are huge" in the city of Hamilton.

I would ask the Acting Premier, what are you doing to assist the people of Hamilton during very serious, challenging times? We know what has happened to Stelco. We know there have been manufacturing plants closed down. What are you going to do to assist that city?

Hon Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): The Minister of Finance actually has some news in direct response to that question.

Hon Greg Sorbara (Minister of Finance): I first want to say that the tone and the politics behind my friend from Leeds-Grenville are frankly unbecoming to a member who has been in this House for that long.

I want to say to him in all seriousness that we are concerned about events in Hamilton over the course of the past six months. Just yesterday we made an announcement on some property tax relief that has been in the works for two or three months. To give credit where credit is due, this program of property tax relief goes back to 1999. We continued that because the people of Hamilton need it.

We have a very serious problem in this province and this country on the question of steel manufacturing. This is a problem that has been experienced right across North America. We've taken a number of very important steps to try and resolve that issue, and there will be more. I await a supplementary.


Mr Runciman: The minister says they're serious about the events in Hamilton. If they're so serious about the events and the actions of this government, why did they schedule a by-election before the tabling of his budget? I'd like to hear an answer to that question. Are they going to address the serious problems faced by Hamilton? What are the members, the Liberal members for Hamilton, doing with respect to the significant job losses, the closure of plants, the threat faced by Stelco? What are they doing?

They're playing political games with the future of Hamilton. They've slated a by-election before the budget because the impact could be very negative on the city of Hamilton. If they're serious about helping Hamilton, if they're serious about doing the right thing, postpone the by-election until after the tabling of the provincial budget.

Hon Mr Sorbara: I just say that the tone and flavour of that question is unbecoming to a member with such experience in this House. He asked about the by-election. We actually believe that democratic representation is a good thing. When seats become vacant, as they have done in the tragic and untimely death of Dominic Agostino, you will see us act expeditiously to make sure those vacant seats have elections as quickly as possible. That's what we've done in the riding of Hamilton East. We think that calling that by-election as quickly as we can was a tribute to a man who believed in democracy and believed in his party.


Ms Laurel C. Broten (Etobicoke-Lakeshore): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Our government recently did the right thing and lifted the lifetime ban for welfare recipients who had defrauded the system. I have, however, received some calls from individuals in my community, in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, who are concerned that we may be being soft on those who might seek to abuse and defraud the system. What are we doing to make sure that abuse and fraud does not occur?

Hon Sandra Pupatello (Minister of Community and Social Services, minister responsible for women's issues): I appreciate this question from the member from Etobicoke-Lakeshore. The irony of the lifetime ban or the zero tolerance that the last government brought forward, the irony of that law in terms of how it impacted on those who committed welfare fraud, was that individuals who implement the program for us, our municipal partners, wouldn't actually go forward on a suspicious fraud case to the police because everyone understood that the outcome would be so punitive for people. We actually had individuals who should have gone forward for police investigation and didn't.

What we have done since we eliminated this case, changed this regulation and made all our municipal partners aware of this is that we now know these cases are being moved forward to the police, as they should be.

Ms Broten: Many people do abide by the rules and are turning to the system for assistance under dire circumstances and in times of need. What, if anything, is our government doing to help those families and people who turn to the welfare system in that difficult time?

Hon Ms Pupatello: As you know, there are many people across Ontario who have been long-time advocates for the poor and those who are in poverty. This Ontario government is one of those advocates. What I'm very pleased to see, as we move forward, is all of us, all cabinet colleagues, the caucus of the Ontario Liberal Party, moving forward to see how the Ontario government can change its policies to help people who are desperate, to help people who are in need. I, for one, am very much looking forward to the budget of May 18, so that we can see how our collective wisdom will be represented in that budget.


Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): To the Minister of Health: Since 1988, when the Ontario Legislature passed the NDP resolution to officially observe a day of mourning for workers, there have been almost 4,500 recognized workplace deaths in this province. Last year, pallbearers carried 327 Ontario workers to their graves as a direct result of unsafe workplace conditions, and another 359,000 claimed for compensation for work-related injuries.

Two major reports on SARS were released last week, and both reports urged major changes in occupational and safety rules and practices in our hospitals. Minister, please, tell nurses and other health professionals what the government has done to make sure they will not face the same terrible threats to their health and safety as they did a year ago during the SARS outbreak.

Hon George Smitherman (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): I say to the honourable member, thank you for an excellent question. In one sense, as a result of the work that my colleague the Minister of Labour has already undertaken with nurses, represented by Linda Haslam-Stroud, the president of the Ontario Nurses Association, and by Doris Grinspun, the feisty and well-regarded executive director of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, along with other representatives of unions working on behalf of people providing services in the public domain of hospitals, they have already been engaged in health and safety action groups related to health.

These are newly established and reflect the reality our government agrees with, and that is, there is too much incidence of workplace health and safety challenge in our hospitals. I have said that on countless occasions. We've begun to make investments in new bed lifts and other things designed to enhance the quality of environment for nurses.

With respect to the Campbell commission and the Walker commission, I'd be very pleased in a supplementary to give further evidence of our government's commitment to dealing with those excellent reports.

Mr Kormos: Indeed there were a number of other recommendations in those two SARS reports. One of the most important ones was to make the medical officer of health truly independent of political interference, the prospect of political interference, the risk of even the most remote chance of political interference. Complete independence for that chief medical officer of health was a promise you and other Liberals made during the election campaign, and like other promises, you seemed prepared to break it -- another broken promise.

What are you going to do immediately to ensure that Ontario's chief medical officer of health is completely independent and can directly speak to the public and the Legislature? You know it has to be done. When are you going to do it?

Hon Mr Smitherman: I appreciate the question. It seems that the honourable member wasn't around last week to hear the response to the excellent reports that were brought forward by Justice Campbell and Dr David Walker on the issue of the independence of the chief medical officer of health. Justice Campbell's report in particular lays out the scenario, which this government accepts.

What I've committed to the public to do is respond to these comprehensive reports, keeping in mind that Justice Campbell's report is only interim at this point. We're going to move forward proactively within 60 days of that announcement. We've committed to respond in a comprehensive way. I've said very clearly that on each of the important areas of principle that are outlined in those reports, this government supports them and this government plans to act proactively by demonstrating, within 60 days, our commitment on all these points.

I really very much appreciate the opportunity to answer that question.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): I have a question for the Minister of Health as well. As I hope you're well aware, there is a serious health concern in the region of Durham. Just this week, health officials reported that about 700 patients might have been exposed to TB at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa and Bowmanville. The department of public health said this week that a positive TB patient frequented the ambulatory oncology clinic at Oshawa, dating back to February of this year.

I personally know individuals who began their TB testing during the first week of April of this year, and unfortunately for Lorn, he tested positive. Lorn and his family were told at that time that because of his weakened state, because of the other disease he has, TB came forward as a result of that. Can you tell us why TB was not reported in February and it took from February to last week to notify 700 individuals?


Hon George Smitherman (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): The protocols are very, very clear with respect to notifications related to infectious disease. The information we have is that the hospital and the Durham region health unit have been working together to identify any patients who may have been put at risk by any exposure to tuberculosis as a result of one patient testing positive for that infectious disease.

The Ministry of Health, through our public health branch, has been working in support of the hospital and the local health branch to ensure that people are notified, to ensure that people are tested and that they receive all necessary supports of the health care system, including medication and the like, to ensure a prompt and complete recovery. It's my understanding that the hospital was able to triage those cases in a certain sense by making sure that those people who are most seriously ill had the advantage of testing and treatment on a priority basis.

Mr Ouellette: Protecting the people of the province is paramount. What is it that you are actually doing for the patients as well, especially on this International Day of Mourning for workers -- because workers have contacted me about that as well -- to compensate those individuals, workers and patients, who have been quarantined for extended periods of time while we worked through this severe medical emergency in the area?

Hon Mr Smitherman: I'd say that our obvious priority is to support the health unit and the hospital in determining the extent of people's exposure to TB and make sure that they get the appropriate treatments.

With respect to quarantine, this is the first time that matter has been brought to my attention with respect to funding challenges and the like. I'll undertake, as I did on Monday when I was first notified of this -- I spoke quite immediately to the member -- to determine that and get back to him on a very prompt basis and to do it personally.



Mr Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): I continue to receive hundreds of names on the meal tax petitions, gathered by McDonald's Corp and Tim Horton franchises in Simcoe, Tillsonburg and Caledonia.

"Whereas every day, 1.5 million Ontarians, including seniors, health care workers and students, purchase a basic meal that costs less than $4; and

"Whereas a new 8% tax on such meals will disadvantage low-income Ontarians; and

"Whereas adding a tax for the first time on a glass of milk, a salad, a bowl of soup or a cup of coffee will affect a total of 1.5 million Ontarians each and every day in restaurants and cafeterias across the province;

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

"Do not impose a new 8% tax on basic meals under $4."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Ms Laurel C. Broten (Etobicoke-Lakeshore): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly which I would like to read now.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Ontario enjoys the continuing benefit of the contributions of men and women who have chosen to leave their country of origin in order to settle in Canada, raise their families, educate their children and pursue their livelihoods and careers; and

"Whereas newcomers to Canada who choose to settle in Ontario find frequent and unnecessary obstacles that prevent skilled tradespeople, professional and managerial talent from practising the professions, trades and occupations for which they have been trained in their country of origin; and

"Whereas Ontario, its businesses, its people and its institutions badly need the professional, managerial and technical skills that many newcomers to Canada have and want to use;

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

"That the government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the other institutions and agencies of and within the government of Ontario, undertake specific and proactive measures to work with the bodies regulating access to Ontario's professions, trades and other occupations in order that newcomers to Canada gain fair, timely and cost-effective access to certification and other measures that facilitate the entry or re-entry of skilled workers and professionals trained outside Canada into the Canadian workforce."

I agree with the petition, and I'll be signing my name to it.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham): I have a petition from the riding of Durham to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas recreational trailers kept at parks and campgrounds in Ontario are being assessed by the Municipal Property Assessment Corp, MPAC, and are subject to property taxes; and

"Whereas owners of these trailers are seasonal and occasional residents who contribute to the local tourism economy without requiring significant municipal services; and

Whereas the added burden of this taxation will make it impossible for many families of modest income to afford their holiday sites at parks and campgrounds;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, respectfully petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the tax not be imposed in 2004, and that no such tax be introduced without consultation and without owners of the trailers and trailer parks, municipal governments, businesses, the tourism sector and other stakeholders."

I'm pleased to sign this in support of the constituents of the riding of Durham.


Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington): This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas seniors and other qualified patients require the continued provision of physiotherapy services through schedule 5 clinics to promote recovery from medical conditions and continued mobility and good health;

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

"The patients of schedule 5 physiotherapy clinics request the continued support of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for provision of OHIP-covered physiotherapy treatment to qualified seniors and others in need of those vital health care procedures."

It has my signature of support as well.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have a petition which calls on the federal government to increase post-secondary education funding. There are over 2,000 petitions from students at Carleton University in Ottawa. It calls upon the federal government:

"Whereas the Ontario Liberal government has made a commitment to the Canadian Federation of Students to freeze tuition fees for at least two years; and

"Whereas the Ontario Liberal government has also promised students that this tuition freeze will be fully funded; and

"Whereas the increases in federal transfer payments to the provinces for post-secondary education have not kept up with inflation and today comprise a smaller portion of the Canadian health and social transfer ... than they did in 1995....

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to call on the federal government to immediately inject $3 billion into the Canadian health and social transfer" fund "for post-secondary education."

I agree with this, and I will sign this as well.


Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the riding of Simcoe North is made up of many small communities; and

"Whereas not all citizens live in large cities such as Toronto, where access to municipal water service is taken for granted; and

"Whereas smaller communities have little, if any, access to municipal water services; and

"Whereas Ontario's smaller villages and hamlets are home to many community buildings such as churches, community halls and arenas; and

"Whereas those responsible for halls, churches, arenas and other community facilities take pride in ensuring these buildings have access to the highest quality potable water;

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

"That the implementation of regulation 170/03 as it relates to community halls and similar facilities be delayed; and

"That the province of Ontario ensure that the halls, churches, arenas and other public facilities on private wells comply with water standards that are reasonable and appropriate."

I'll sign that and give it to Kirsty.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I have here a petition signed by in excess of 2,000 people from my riding and from the surrounding ridings. It is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital has asked for ministerial consent to make capital changes to its facility to accommodate the placement of a satellite dialysis unit; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has already given approval for the unit and committed operational dollars to it; and

"Whereas the community has already raised the funds for the equipment needed;

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

"That the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care give his final approval of the capital request change from the Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital immediately, so those who are in need of these life-sustaining dialysis services can receive them locally, thereby enjoying a better quality of life without further delay."

I affix my signature to it as I totally agree with the petition.


Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): I have a petition signed by good citizens of Cambridge to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas every day, 1.5 million Ontarians, including seniors, health care workers and students, purchase a basic meal that costs less than $4; and

"Whereas a new 8% tax on such meals will disadvantage low-income Ontarians; and

"Whereas, adding a tax for the first time on a glass of milk, a salad, a bowl of soup or a coffee will affect a total of 1.5 million Ontarians each and every day in restaurants and cafeterias across the province;

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

"Do not impose a new 8% tax on basic meals under $4."

I am signing the petition with my constituents.



Mr John O'Toole (Durham): I have a petition from the riding of Durham.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Oak Ridges moraine is an ecological treasure that warrants protection and careful stewardship now and in future generations;

"Whereas the province of Ontario has recognized the importance of the moraine with the passage of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001, to protect natural and water resources, preserve agricultural lands and provide clarity on where development can and cannot occur;

"Whereas the act has resulted in certain limitations on citizens' use of their property within the moraine;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, respectfully petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the Parliament of Ontario take action to ensure there are no undue restrictions on Oak Ridges moraine residents making minor improvements to their homes and property; and

"That the province of Ontario work together with municipalities and landowners to ensure the interpretation and enforcement of the act continues to fully protect the moraine while also giving residents the right to fair and reasonable enjoyment of their property."

I'm pleased to sign it on behalf of my constituents in support of it in the riding of Durham.


Mr Tim Hudak (Erie-Lincoln): I'm pleased to present a petition on province of the seniors in my riding like the Chmara and the Rowland families.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas, during the election campaign, the Dalton McGuinty Liberals said they would improve the Ontario drug benefit program but now are considering delisting drugs and imposing higher user fees; and

"Whereas the Liberal government has increased costs to seniors by taking away the seniors' property tax rebate and increased the price of hydro;

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

"The Dalton McGuinty Liberals should keep their campaign promise to improve the Ontario drug benefit program and abandon their plan to delist drugs or increase seniors' drug fees."

And in support, my signature.


Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): This petition involves the $4 food tax.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas every day, 1.5 million Ontarians, including seniors, health care workers and students, purchase a basic meal that costs less than $4; and

"Whereas a new 8% tax on such meals will disadvantage low-income Ontarians; and

"Whereas adding a tax for the first time on a glass of milk, a salad, a bowl of soup or a cup of coffee will affect a total of 1.5 million Ontarians each and every day in restaurants and cafeterias across the province;

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

"Do not impose a new 8% tax on basic meals under $4."

I am pleased to sign my name to that as well.


Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington): This petition is now up to over 7,000.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Liberal government was elected after promising in their election platform that they were committed to improving the Ontario drug benefit program for seniors but are now considering delisting drugs and imposing user fees on seniors; and

"Whereas prescription drugs are not covered under the Canada Health Act unless dispensed in a hospital; and

"Whereas the federal Liberal government refuses to acknowledge this as a necessary health service despite the Romanow report's strong support for a national drug program;

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

"To immediately and unequivocally commit to end plans for the delisting of drugs for coverage under the Ontario drug benefit program;

"To immediately commit to ending plans to implement higher user fees for seniors and to improve the Ontario drug benefit plan so they can obtain necessary medications; and

"To instruct Premier Dalton McGuinty to demand more health care funding from Ottawa instead of demanding more funding from seniors."

It has my signature of support as well.


Ms Laurie Scott (Haliburton-Victoria-Brock): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the government insists there is going to be a $5.6-billion deficit;

"Whereas the government campaigned on a `fully costed plan' that accounted for a $2-billion deficit;

"Whereas the government campaigned on a `fully costed plan' that included a $1-billion contingency fund;

"Whereas the government campaigned on a `fully costed plan' which included over 230 promises;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the provincial government to take the responsible approach and immediately apply to the projected deficit the $3 billion the government said they had set aside. We believe this will substantially increase Ontario's ability to balance the books during the current fiscal year and solve the financial dilemma faced by the government."

This is signed by many people in my riding.


Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas an unfair situation has arisen under the Assessment Act;

"Please support extending regulation 390/03 so that it covers and protects me from taxation."


Mr Tim Hudak (Erie-Lincoln): I'm pleased to present a petition on behalf of seniors, these from Fort Erie, like the Pelletier and Lapadura families. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas during the election campaign the Dalton McGuinty Liberals said they would improve the Ontario drug benefit program but now are considering delisting drugs and imposing higher user fees; and

"Whereas the Liberal government has increased costs to seniors by taking away the seniors' property tax rebate and increased the price of hydro;

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

"The Dalton McGuinty Liberals should keep their campaign promise to improve the Ontario drug benefit program and abandon their plan to delist drugs or increase seniors' drug fees."

In support, I affix my signature.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham): I have a petition here from the residents of Durham.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas in Ontario, adopted adults are denied a right available to all non-adoptees; that is, the unrestricted right to identifying information concerning their family of origin;

"Whereas Canada has ratified standards of civil and human rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;

"Whereas these rights are denied to persons affected by the secrecy provisions in the adoption sections of the Child and Family Services Act and other acts of the province of Ontario;

"Whereas research in other jurisdictions has demonstrated that disclosure does not cause harm, that access to such information is beneficial to adult adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents, and that birth parents rarely requested or were promised anonymity;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to enact revisions to the Child and Family Services Act and to other acts to:

"Permit adult adoptees unrestricted access to full personal identifying birth information;

"Permit birth parents, grandparents and siblings access to the adopted person's amended birth certificate when the adopted person reaches the age of 18;

"Permit adoptive parents unrestricted access to identifying birth information of their minor child;

"Allow adopted persons and birth relatives to file a contact veto restricting contact by the searching party;

"Replace mandatory reunion counselling with optional counselling."

I am pleased to sign this in support of my constituents in the riding of Durham.


LOI DE 2004

Resuming the debate adjourned on April 22, 2004, on the motion for second reading of Bill 49, An Act to prevent the disposal of waste at the Adams Mine site and to amend the Environmental Protection Act in respect of the disposal of waste in lakes / Projet de loi 49, Loi visant à empêcher l'élimination de déchets à la mine Adams et à modifier la Loi sur la protection de l'environnement en ce qui concerne l'élimination de déchets dans des lacs.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bruce Crozier): Further debate?

Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): I'm very pleased to be able to stand this afternoon and make a few comments in my time on second reading of Bill 49 and the debate on the Adams Mine Lake Act, 2004.

I have to tell you, my initial reaction to the introduction of this bill was very positive, because I look at pictures of the Adams mine -- and we've seen these pictures for the last 15 or 20 years -- and I see where the water is filtered through into the mine, or the quarry, whatever you may want to call it. It's kind of a scary thought, that we would actually want to put water at any time in a site like that. But I'm going to have trouble at this point supporting the legislation because of a number of reasons that I'd like to bring forward today and for some reasons that I'm very, very concerned about right in my own riding.

I simply cannot understand why, as part of the bill -- and I'll read it here as part of the compendium that Minister Dombrowsky sent out -- it says the amendment "does not apply to a body of water that is less than one hectare in area." I don't know why that was ever even put in there. I simply cannot understand, if you're dealing with landfill and you're dealing with water quality, why a one-hectare size of water would be adequate, which basically is what this is saying, to put in a landfill.


I hope it doesn't mean that if there are tiny little bodies of water around the province -- I'm guessing that's about 100 by 100 or about 10,000 square feet. I'm assuming that's the size and that it would be allowed. When we go to committee on this, and I'm hoping members of the government can actually provide us with information on this, I'm really looking forward to the answer to that particular question, because I think it shouldn't be there. Whether it's a body of water that's 50 feet square or a body of water that's 100 feet square or two miles square, why would you want it?

I remember the member from Perth-Middlesex a few weeks ago talked about how you wouldn't dump your water in the ocean. Absolutely; of course we wouldn't dump water in the ocean. I'm sorry; you wouldn't dump your waste disposal in the ocean. We've got a real responsibility here. We're at the turning point in waste management in Ontario. We're at the turning point of our protection of our groundwater sources and our groundwater resources.

I understand from a recent TV program I watched that less than 1% of the water that's available in the world today is actually potable. That's talking about all the different countries around the world: the Far East, the Middle East, Africa, South America etc. It's a scary thought that of this wonderful resource we have that's completely necessary for our existence, only 1% is actually potable. So when we talk about mixing our waste with any type of water, it's a concern. It's a very strong concern of mine.

I've got to say at this point that the timing of this bill is incredible. I would have thought that the minister, who put out this document back in February -- it's called the White Paper on Watershed-based Source Protection Planning. My understanding back in the winter when she introduced this as part of her expert panels on water source protection was that she was looking for the expert panels across the province that she had appointed to this committee to come back with some solid recommendations on what the issues were concerning water source protection and where we would actually go in the future.

So I was surprised when out of nowhere the minister came up with the Adams Mine Lake Act and said simply, "This is not acceptable," and, "This is a new piece of legislation and we're going to debate it in the House." Of course, it's warm and fuzzy and we all know that, for the very reason that you mix garbage with a body of water.

I know there are people in my riding who have talked to the minister's office and to people in the Ministry of the Environment. I'm really concerned about the technical reasons for bringing in the Adams Mine Lake Act, which in effect takes away all approvals that have been given to that site over the last 15 years. I repeat that the technical reasons don't seem to be in the piece of legislation. I don't know if they're going to be in the committee hearings or not, but certainly I know people across the province are looking for the technical reasons. So far, I believe the ministry and the minister's office have not been able to provide that information to the public. I think it's important that we do so.

Of course, the third point, which is really important at this point, is the fact that it happened as a result of a kind of pork-barrelling situation, in my opinion. I have a lot of respect for the Minister of Natural Resources, and I know he threatened to resign his position earlier this year if the Adams mine actually was approved as a landfill site. We've seen all kinds of media reports. I wouldn't want to think for a second that we would do something for a political purpose, like speeding -- bringing an act forward before the white paper on watershed-based planning had been approved, before it had been completed, before we'd seen the recommendations from the expert panel and before we'd actually seen the legislation.

My thoughts were very clear on this, and I've made it clear in my riding as well. I think there should have been a moratorium put on the landfill at the Adams mine, and I think it should apply to all approved sites in the province where there is any concern about water on them.

I think since Walkerton, and I hope since Walkerton, we're all a lot smarter about how we treat our groundwater resources. I know we're expecting our agricultural communities to do it. I know we're expecting churches, community halls and municipalities right across our province to put in state-of-the-art water treatment systems so that we will never again in the future of the province have something like the Walkerton tragedy. As a result of that, both our previous government and the new Liberal government are implementing the recommendations made by Justice Dennis O'Connor in his report on the Walkerton inquiry.

For me to actually support the bill at this point, with what I would consider the one hectare, the pork-barrelling, the technical reasons and the fact that we didn't put a moratorium on this instead of a piece of legislation, because of the water source protection white paper that's been out on this, I think for that reason, I'm going to have a hard time supporting it, even at second reading.

I am looking forward to a lot of debate on this legislation. I really hope that the Ministry of the Environment and the minister are listening to this. I hope we're going to have a very detailed committee hearing structure on this particular piece of legislation, followed by detailed information and committee hearings on the legislation on water source protection when it's implemented. I don't know what the time frame is on that. I was guessing it would be introduced sometime this spring or maybe next fall, and hopefully we'd be able to deal with it some time in the next year or year and a half and actually implement it if we have to.

The fact of the matter is, it is a strong concern not only for municipalities but for all the residents of Ontario. So I would have rather seen a moratorium on the Adams mine lake and then dealt with the other issues later.

When I didn't see a moratorium and I actually saw a piece of legislation that was introduced without any technical reasons, I myself introduced a private member's bill here a week ago called Bill 62, An Act to prevent the disposal of waste at site 41 in the township of Tiny. Mr Speaker, you yourself know -- and the people in this House have heard me state a number of times -- my concerns about a certain landfill site in my beautiful riding of Simcoe North, in the township of Tiny. I want to tell you a little bit about it.

The reason I brought in Bill 62 last week was that I wanted it to parallel the Adams Mine Lake Act, because there are so many similarities. What the minister was saying when we talked about the Adams mine lake -- it actually fills with water and it needs a permit to pump it down. It's water that filters in through the cracks in the rock below it, and it ends up looking like a lake. But I can tell you that from my perspective I've got a landfill that I've been made very much aware of, and every day I learn more information about this particular landfill. I'm really concerned that if I dug a hole in the middle of this large field -- say the hole was 500 feet square, and I dug it down 10 feet -- when I came back in the morning, there would be a lake there and it would need continual pumping.

For that reason, I see no difference between site 41 and the Adams mine. They are both fantastic supplies of good, clean drinking water, and both of them are going to end up with garbage from municipalities, possibly even from Toronto, being dumped in -- or at least site 41 could end up without being dumped in -- and that's a real issue with me.


I'd like to go back a little bit about this site 41 because it parallels it in a long way, and about Bill 62. I introduced the bill on Earth Day. We go back with site 41 to 1978, and the county of Simcoe and the municipalities in north Simcoe looking for potential sites. We've done a lot on that. In fact, it started around 1978, and by 1989 it finally got to the Environmental Assessment Board and was turned down. Right after it was turned down, it went back to Mr Peterson and Mr Bradley. They took a look at it in 1990, just before the election, and it happened to be, I think, a little bit more pork-barrelling.

At that time, the MPP for the township of Tiny was Al McLean. He had Elmvale in Flos and parts of -- a fellow by the name of Mr Ken Black, who was the Minister of Tourism at the time, actually had Midland, Penetanguishene and Tay township. I would consider it was pork-barrelling at that time. I think the reason for the order in council to change the Environmental Assessment Board hearing was the fact -- it didn't affect any of Mr Black's municipalities, so Mr Black was happy to see the order in council put in place, reversing the previous approval of the Environmental Assessment Board. That took the heart and soul out of the residents of that area until Walkerton.

Walkerton has changed everything right across our province. I can tell you, since the Walkerton inquiry and all the concerns, that there has been a huge demand for answers to this site, and it's brought back up again in spite of the fact that site 41, like the Adams mine, had full approval.

I know I can't show pictures and props and all that sort of thing in the House, but I'd like to show anybody in this House who would come forward, after I've had a chance to speak, a picture of a well casing that had blown off. In fact, I'll show you over there. It's a well casing in the middle of this field, 30 feet deep, and the water blew out by accident. The cap blew off it. I'm telling you, there were thousands of gallons of water an hour pouring out, just in the air. The county put the cap back on very quickly.

Mr Khalil Ramal (London-Fanshawe): Can you pass it to me?

Mr Dunlop: Yes. Please pass it to them. A picture tells a thousand words. If I could have the Minister of the Environment or anybody in this House, from my caucus or any other caucus, visit this site, in one second they would understand what I'm talking about. This is something we're really concerned about. There are huge volumes of water. When we do the calculations now, we understand that in the lifespan of that landfill, just to de-water the site it will use 16 billion litres of water. It's simply not acceptable, when only 1% of the water in the world is potable, to start taking that.

I think we've got to take a whole new look at what's happening with our landfills and our water. We tend to bury them in these pits, and the pits, of course --

Mr John O'Toole (Durham): That's excellent, Garfield. Good data.

Mr Dunlop: Well, no, it's not data; it's just a picture. I've sent this to a number of people, and there's a video that goes along with this. All our media have this, our TV stations etc. We're really concerned about it. The more we look at this, because of Walkerton and because of water source protection, what we're asking the agricultural community to do, what we're asking the municipalities to do, what we're asking our local churches to do, looking at the way we're handling our septic systems, our septage from our septic tanks -- we absolutely have to do a better job.

I'm asking the minister to review Bill 62. I've already asked the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, under the Environmental Bill of Rights, to review the approval process. I was supposed to hear yesterday. Today is April 28. I have a letter here from the ministry telling me that I would have an answer by April 27. I haven't had that answer yet but I understand that it may be in the mail. Hopefully the Minister of the Environment will actually approve my request for a review.

I can tell you that the county, under the current planning process, did a peer review of site 41, which parallels the Adams mine lake. I haven't seen the peer reviews of the Adams mine lake; I'd love to get a copy of those. But I can tell you that from the four different organizations, including the Ministry of the Environment, that looked at the peer reviews of site 41, there were over 200 recommendations. Somehow, the county and the ministry have to resolve that in order to put the landfill in. But the fact of the matter is, it doesn't even address water source protection legislation or the white paper on watershed-based planning. I cannot understand why anything would be approved right now by anybody in the ministry to let anything proceed until this document, the white paper, is approved. This is the bible of the future for landfills. It's the bible of the future for water sources in our province. It's a direct result of Justice Dennis O'Connor's report.

We can't take anything for granted any more. We may have to do a complete new review of how we handle our waste. To the members of the Liberal and Conservative parties who are here, taking it to Michigan is not acceptable either. Burying it in water is not acceptable. We have a responsibility. We're the 103 people, in this House right now, who can determine the future of our water sources right here in Ontario.

If you correct a few things in the Adams Mine Lake Act, I'll be there voting in favour of it. But one of the things you've got to correct is site 41. It can't go on. It simply is the wrong place. I invite anybody here, if there's anybody interested, to go up toward Barrie or Midland, even this summer if they don't go ahead and start digging the hole ahead of time. I'd love to show you, and I'll buy you lunch. We'll go down, Bill, to the Cricklewood. We'll go out and have lunch there and then we'll go over to site 41. Anyone would agree with me that it's the wrong location. That's why I introduced Bill 62. I hope the Minister of the Environment is listening to this. I hope they're listening to the concerns that we have here. It is not acceptable.

I know my time is almost up. It's funny, when you're really interested in a topic and you're trying to speak on it, how fast the time flies around here. But it is important to me. It's important to the residents of the county of Simcoe and particularly to the farming community out around the communities of Wyevale and Elmvale. This landfill is four kilometres from two municipal water systems: four kilometres from the beautiful little community of Wyevale, and everybody has heard of Elmvale. It's the home of many, many good hockey players and one of the greatest communities in our province. It's four kilometres from the municipal system of the town of Elmvale.

I'm pleading with the Minister of the Environment to take a serious look at this and not allow this to proceed, because every day something new comes out about it. I want to applaud people like Gord Leonard, Anne Nahuis and Steve Ogden, who have done a phenomenal job trying to bring this to the attention of the community.

I almost have my time used up, but I just want to say that the Adams Mine Lake Act makes a lot of sense in a lot of ways for me. I don't like mixing water and garbage. I know there are going to be different opinions here from other members of my caucus, but I'm speaking on behalf of the residents of the county of Simcoe when we look at this act. Hopefully, Bill 62, which parallels it, will get some consideration as well.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Toronto-Danforth): I'll be speaking for a little bit after this round of questions and comments. It was interesting listening to the member for Simcoe North, especially given that I think he's saying that at least some of the Tories might support this bill, stopping the Adams mine, which we will all applaud after the number of years we went through in this House fighting off every effort possible by the previous Tory government to dump Toronto's garbage in that lake. So that will be nice to see, if it actually happens.

The member for Simcoe North has talked about an issue that is of urgency to all of us. I heard the member for Ottawa Centre mention that landfills are out of date. He's right. Nobody is going to accept a landfill in their backyard any more. There is only one way to go. We all have to agree in this Legislature, in the most non-partisan way -- if possible -- possible; that is, we have to find a new approach to how we deal with our garbage. At the beginning of that, I think, we should stop calling it waste disposal or waste management and call it resource management. That's a change in mindset right there.

As long as we think of it as garbage, we're going to continue to try to find ways to dispose of it instead of finding other ways to deal with it. I'll talk about it a little later, but if we get seriously into composting and electronic waste recovery and all those things, we'll start treating these things as much as possible as resources.

Let's not forget those who might think we want to move into what's called new and emerging technology and the latest forms of incineration. That is also not the way to go, because you go back to that mindset of throwing it into a pit somewhere and burning it. We really have to start thinking differently about our garbage.


Ms Jennifer F. Mossop (Stoney Creek): I'm actually gratified to hear that this is one of these things we're all going to be working on together and making it the best possible solution, and that's a good thing. And I agree with many of the remarks my colleague just made.

The biggest challenge for humanity going forward is our waste and how we're going to deal with our waste. Whether it's garbage or sewage or livestock waste, this is going to be the biggest challenge for humanity globally, because if we don't come up with solutions we're going to be drowning in this stuff. And the solution, obviously, to everybody here, is not to take it and stuff it in a deep, dark hole in an unwilling community.

I'm pleased to say that in my riding, I have the two big municipalities of Hamilton and Niagara, and they are being proactive and working together to try to come up with solutions for waste. They're two huge municipalities and they know this is going to be a problem going forward, so they're working together. We had a very good meeting with them in January, and the former Ontario Minister of the Environment, Jim Bradley, was at that meeting with the two municipalities. He very wisely and sagely cautioned them that things would go well until it came to a location for whatever plan they came up with, because you always do get, "Not in my backyard." But we are going to have to, and they recognize that's an issue and they are coming up with great solutions. I think one of the best things we're doing, going forward, is coming up with plans for diversion -- we've committed to 60% diversion from landfills by 2008 -- and also to making the environmental assessment process much more efficient and effective, because that will allow us to move forward on initiatives. That's my time for now, but I look forward to speaking on this again.

Mr O'Toole: I listened intently to the passion of the member for Simcoe North, whom I hear almost every week, if not every day, speaking with a lot of knowledge on site 41 in his riding of Simcoe North. I listen to what he says because he served in municipal government there, I believe as warden and reeve, and certainly knows of what he speaks. His passion and the documentation he has make a convincing argument. I'm certain that the Ministry of the Environment will listen to the member for Simcoe North.

I think it's important to recognize what's being said here. This site, I don't think anyone would disagree -- perhaps Mr McGuinty's relative, Gordon McGuinty, from the rail north option, which was the Adams mine site option; I'm not sure if they're related, but probably there is some relationship. I hope it's not just a vindictive thing.

This has been a disputed issue for some time. If you look at the history, you'll indeed find that when Mr Bradley was Minister of the Environment under the Liberals, they had a plan but they did nothing. They actually talked about it for a long time. In fact, when the NDP were elected in 1990, you'll see that Ruth Grier had a plan called the Interim Waste Authority. They spent $100 million or something and never located one spoonful of garbage.

It's a very contentious issue. I leave it that they had made a good first step. They have abandoned the idea of the Adams mine site, but they haven't replaced it with any other destination, except to continue to truck our waste and all the pollution that involves to Michigan. I don't think that's an acceptable solution.

The member from Stoney Creek mentioned creative options. I'm waiting to hear them. They're looking at the incineration option, the gasification option, the recycling option. I think there's more to be done on this, and I'm waiting to see something besides the Adams mine, and I understand that. But right at the moment, the member from Simcoe North needs to be commended on site 41 and the work he's done, and I hope the minister listens.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I'm happy to support the comments made by the members from Simcoe North, Stoney Creek and Toronto-Danforth. We've got to get real. It's quite astounding to me how long it takes, how long an outmoded concept continues to perpetuate itself -- except for the vested interests. People are making money off carting garbage and dumping it, but environmentally we all know this is not the way to go.

I want you to know that there is a process that has to be considered. It takes Mother Nature's approach and it is called thermo-depolymerization. It can take all your plastics, syringes, tires, Styrofoam cups, you name it, anything you would not want to put in the ground over time, and under increased pressure it breaks this down into gases and grade 2 oil that is saleable, because it's pretty pure, on the open market. It is happening right now. There is a company called Changing World Technologies. They have a major project in Philadelphia. It takes their garbage and sludge and converts it. It is totally benign related to the environment. It breaks everything down into its original form, which means, as was identified by the member for Toronto-Danforth, that these are resources and they're saleable. You can sell these resources to companies.

Let's start thinking about this. Why the mayor of Toronto, the mayor of Ottawa or mayors of different communities don't do this is beyond me, other than the engineers of course are hooked into an old way of living, an old style of examining things and dumping things in the ground.

It's time to stop all this. Let's get with it. The new technology is the salvation of our environment in terms of landfill sites.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Simcoe North has two minutes to reply.

Mr Dunlop: I'd like to thank the members from Toronto-Danforth, Durham, Stoney Creek and Ottawa Centre for their comments. I basically agree with what everybody has said. Although I told you earlier I didn't know where I really stood on supporting this bill, there's one thing that's going to be very important about this debate we're having here. We haven't debated a lot around landfill in my time at Queen's Park. I don't know if the whip from the government can say that as well. That type of legislation hasn't come up since 1999, anyhow. It is an opportunity to do a lot of debate on this and get a lot of good ideas. Mr Patten from Ottawa Centre just made some interesting comments on one alternative.

There's no question: No one wants a landfill site. We all understand that, and we sure as heck don't want to mix it with our water. That's very important. We owe it to our citizens, and we certainly owe it to our citizens following Walkerton. It shed a whole new light. It doesn't matter who you talk to now, it doesn't matter what you mention in Ontario; people know about Walkerton. It just hit the headlines. It hit home. It was clean water. It was water source protection. It was how our municipalities deal with water, and how our agricultural communities deal with water and waste from nutrient management plans.

We have a real responsibility here. I think the best thing we can say today is that there's going to be an opportunity for a lot of debate on this bill. I'm hoping there's going to be an opportunity for a lot of committee hearings. This is an interesting bill to take to committee. No matter where you take it, people will want to come and bring forth their ideas. I think you're going to see the development community, conservation clubs, the OFA and everyone interested in the result of this and where we go with this, followed of course by water source protection legislation.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate? The member for Toronto-Danforth. The NDP lead has been put down, so you have 30 minutes.

Ms Churley: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'm thrilled; I've got a whole 30 minutes and Liberals clapping for me.

I have some criticism of your bill, I've got to tell you, I'll be upfront here, but first of all let me say the positive things I have to say. I'm thrilled that you've brought forward a bill that is killing Adams mine, hopefully forever.


I'm a bit nervous, because you'll remember that when this came up at city council a few years ago, under the previous Tory government, and it was voted down there, the previous mayor, Mel Lastman, said, "Adams mine is d-e-d, dead. That's what he said. I'm quoting him, "d-e-d, dead," and we thought perhaps it was. But then, lo and behold, we saw Mike Harris and others fooling around and starting to do different things.

After the city of Toronto decided to ship its garbage to Michigan, a whole lot of shenanigans were going on to find ways to prevent it from going there. I don't have time to go into the details of all the incredible shenanigans that have gone on over the years about Adams mine. I hope that this time it really is d-e-d, dead. We just cannot go on with this foolish concept of dumping garbage, because it becomes toxic. Once it goes in that water in the ground, it makes a toxic soup. The idea of putting it in the ground --

Mr David Orazietti (Sault Ste Marie): That's leadership.

Ms Churley: Don't go too far here now, I say to the member for Sault Ste Marie; don't tease the bears. When we, the NDP, were in government, we banned the Adams mine as an option. We got a lot of flak from that. I'm going to be honest. We got flak from Liberals at the time, including David Ramsay back then.


Ms Churley: He was teasing the bears, so I had to remind him, if you want to tease me here, that at one time the Liberals weren't onside with the NDP on this, but they have come around after all those years. The important thing is that the bill is before us and it will be passed.

Mr Patten: Slow learners.

Ms Churley: Slow learners.

The bill will be passed, hopefully. Well, they've got the majority and we're supporting it. Our support is key, of course. It will go through.

I really do want to thank and congratulate the people from the area. They must be so relieved that after all of those years, it's put to bed. I'm sure they're waiting anxiously for the legislation to be passed.

I shouldn't single out individual people, because there were so many involved in this fight for a number of years, so I will single out a few of the groups that we worked directly with over the years.

The Timiskaming Federation of Agriculture were down here on several occasions, giving press conferences and using their own money to have special independent studies done. They put a huge amount of effort, time and their own resources into trying to show the government and the public how dangerous this could be to farming in their locale.

The Timiskaming Band Council and Timiskaming First Nation: tremendous work. I remember they were here, along with the people from Public Concern Timiskaming, who all came down when city hall was making its final decision as to whether or not they were going to go ahead with this. I remember that I was down there, along with my leader, Howard Hampton, with all these people who were just so strong not only in putting forward their case, but also in standing firm and standing strong to oppose the big city of Toronto in its attempt to send its garbage there. At the end of the day, they were victorious, but they did put an awful lot of their lives on hold and spent countless hours and put a lot of their own money into the effort. I want to congratulate them, as I think we all should, because I believe that without them we might not be here today.

I know they continued to pressure the Liberal government when it came into power. There was an awful lot of concern in the early days of the new Liberal government, as you'll remember, because a draft permit to take water had been issued under the Liberal government. There was serious concern. I remember that on Valentine's Day there was a special press release put out by people in the area expressing grave concern that the Liberals might, as well, let this go ahead. I want to congratulate them for keeping it up and finally getting victory here. Now we can all move on.

I do recall that in some of the things they talked about when they were in opposition to this dumping of Toronto's garbage in their lake up there, they really helped us also start to think ahead as to the things that we should be doing.

I also recall, not the last municipal election but the one before that, whenever it was, several years ago -- Jack Layton was then the city councillor in my area of Toronto-Danforth and the campaign office had been opened for the election. The Timiskaming people came down, and they had nowhere to stay. We had a magical night in this campaign office in the riding, in the ward for municipal purposes, in Jack Layton's campaign office, where there was no place for everybody to sleep. They didn't have a lot of money, so everybody came to this campaign office and slept there overnight. People had their guitars and we were playing music. We really felt that was a magical night. They were preparing to go in to city council to fight this proposal.

Some of the things that they raised, and we raised, and the things that we need to talk about here, I alluded to in my brief statements previously. I'm sure that David Ramsay in particular is thrilled about this decision and had a lot to do with it, because he said he'd resign if Adams mine went ahead. We were going to invite him to come back across the floor again, if he had to do that. He reminded people.

I want to again remind people what we're talking about here and why this was such a big fight, why the NDP, back when we were in government, absolutely banned it and took it off the table as an option. It was because we knew then that it was just a dumb idea, although we had terrible problems, as everybody will recall. Poor Ruth Grier was the minister during the Interim Waste Authority days. Oh, my God, it was a very difficult time. I think she had bodyguards for a while, and some of the areas were listed as potential sites, not even necessarily final sites. That goes to show how dangerous an undertaking it is for any government to get involved in trying to site landfills.

I would say that would be true of incineration and those kinds of processes as well. It's just not going to happen without major fights and, I would say, defeat: the defeat of any government who gets into that area. So where does that leave us? It leaves us with having to not only talk the talk -- because we have all been talking far too long about what we need to do. I would say that many of the public are light-years ahead of us in terms of where we should be.

I used to be known as -- it's not a great thing to be known by, but I was -- the garbage lady of Toronto. That's how I got into politics. It's true. South Riverdale, where I live, used to be a very old industrial area, a very polluted area. I got involved in the environmental movement as a community activist and helped form a group called Citizens for a Safe Environment.

We formed specifically, when we began, to not even necessarily stop the city of Toronto from building what was then known as the latest technology, in what they call refuse-fired steam plants. What it really meant was burning garbage. The city of Toronto -- this goes back to the mid-1980s -- had decided they were going to build a new one, right in south Riverdale, where we already had all kinds of pollution problems. Kids in Riverdale, and you may have heard about this -- because of pollution from a lead plant which went on for years and years in a low-income area, and nobody wanted to hear about it -- were being poisoned on a daily basis.

It took the community, South Riverdale Community Health Centre and other activists, working very hard to make sure that governments finally paid attention. They had the blood of these children tested, and lo and behold, guess what? Their lead elevation was much, much higher than what was acceptable. These children are grown up now, and to this day they have learning disabilities. They got no compensation for that, but least the plant was closed down.

Then we started to close down other polluting industries in the area. We had the Ashbridges Bay garbage incinerator, the old one, that was spewing pollutants, dioxins, mercury, lead, over the community -- not just over the community; it was spreading far and wide, depending on wind direction. And not only that, with the garbage incineration you had what's called bottom ash and fly ash. The better the pollution abatement equipment is -- and people say that about things like garbage incineration and other kinds of gasification processes -- the more toxic fly ash you have to dispose of.


We managed to fight off, under Citizens for a Safe Environment, having the new garbage incinerator built. We did a lot of research. We were involved, as Citizens for a Safe Environment, in the very beginning of the blue box program, I'm proud to say. Then we successfully fought and got the Ashbridges Bay incinerator shut down.

I didn't know I was going to end up being elected, but one of the most interesting things that I experienced -- it was actually very funny, because the blue box had started in all the front yards in my riding of Riverdale, as it was called at the time. They had blue boxes on their front porches. I had put out this beautiful piece of literature the first time I ran, about this big -- a big, beautiful picture of my face, and "Vote for Marilyn Churley," or whatever it was. I'd knock on these doors -- "Nice weather" -- and in almost every blue box sitting on the front porch, looking up at me from the bottom of that blue box, was my face. At least it was going in the blue box and not in the garbage. That was an interesting time.

We've moved on from then, but we haven't moved far enough. We're way, way behind. I have a letter from a few years ago -- it was actually written to Mr Chris Stockwell, who was then the Minister of the Environment, in 2002 -- from Kelly Clune, who reminded us then about the extended producer responsibility deposit-return systems. Kelly said that Ontario and Manitoba, with the lowest rates of recovery for beverage containers, are the only two provinces in Canada without a deposit-return system for those products. That still remains the case.

Deposit-return programs in other provinces recover 75% to 90% of their containers. PEI -- granted, these are smaller, especially PEI, and easier to do, but it still can be done on a larger scale -- is outdoing all of us by requiring all carbonated beverages to be provided in refillable containers that have a refill rate of up to 20 times. I would say, if PEI can do it, we can do it here. Wouldn't you think so?

Then there are the take-back programs. These involve industries developing and financing collection systems to recover their products and be responsible for reuse, recycling or disposal, depending on the products and regulations. There are different ways this is done in other jurisdictions.

Those are two areas where the government needs to act immediately. I must say the government was in a rush to get this bill before us to stop Adams mine, and I know there is more coming on how we're going to deal with the rest of our garbage over the years, not just in Toronto, but across the province. There is the promise of a discussion paper on increased waste reduction, but to date that is woefully inadequate.

We were looking for, in this announcement -- I'm not saying it's easy, and I'm sure there'll be others, so let me point it out first. The NDP didn't bring in a deposit-return system when we were in power; neither did the Liberal government before that and neither did the Tories after us. I know the same kind of pressure was put on the David Peterson government as was put on the Bob Rae government in terms of moving to that system: huge industry lobby from the Coke and Pepsi and pop industry. I was the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations responsible for the LCBO.

By the way, let me take this opportunity to thank the LCBO. Where's my little screech bottle? Yesterday, after -- do you know this story? You must have read it yesterday. I got up, and to my horror I had this sobering awakening, so to speak. I read in the National Post an article by Graham Richardson saying that the LCBO had stopped stocking screech. You know I'm from Newfoundland, and transplanted Newfoundlanders need their screech from time to time. It's a tradition. So I came in and decided I had to do something about this. My staff and I phoned the LCBO to clarify, "Is this true? Are you really going to stop stocking screech?" and they said, "Yes, it's a slow seller." It just wasn't moving fast enough. They had in fact discontinued it some time ago but I hadn't realized it. So they confirmed it. Then I decided, "I'm coming in here, I'm asking a question and I'm going to explain to the Premier how this is letting down all the thousands of transplanted Newfoundlanders who live in Ontario," but I got a note. I was sitting here with my question, and I did have a prop, Mr Speaker, I must admit, though I didn't get to use it. I had a little bottle of screech and I was going to show it to the Premier and demand that this very important cultural thing that was thrown out the door be brought back. But I got a note on my desk at about 2:30, before I got to ask the question, saying, "The LCBO just called and -- guess what? -- they're going to bring back screech." So I have invited the Premier to let me screech him in. I don't know, Mr Speaker, if you've ever been screeched in.

The Deputy Speaker: No, but I'm looking forward to it.

Ms Churley: I'll get back to the waste bill. I got diverted -- speaking of diversion here -- talking about the LCBO. But I'll tell you quickly, it involves drinking some screech and then kissing a frozen -- usually a frozen cod these days. So we'll see if the Premier will. And I invite any of the other members to participate. But I digress. I'm getting calls from all over Newfoundland and they're very happy about that. But coming back to the LCBO: There should be no more excuses.

I was just talking about how difficult it is, and I'm sure you're hearing all the same things I heard. I can just imagine.


Ms Churley: Are you going to do it?

Hon Jim Watson (Minister of Consumer and Business Services): It's not my ministry. It's Cordiano.

Ms Churley: That's true; it's not any more. It was mine.

We have to do it now. We cannot avoid it any more. We thought we were in trouble then in terms of how to deal with what I now call resource management, our waste, but now we are truly in a crisis. We are not going to be able to site landfills any more, nor should we. In fact, the more we get away with being able to site those kinds of things, the easier it is to avoid going where we have to go.

None of us agrees that garbage going to Michigan is a good idea. I know Gord Perks from the Toronto Environmental Alliance, and I agree with him: Good for Michigan. Good for the people for saying, "We don't want your garbage." And good for them for saying, "We don't want any garbage that contains refillables and recyclables and all those things." We have garbage going across the border with bottles in it. They're supposed to be put in the blue box, but those are the kinds of things that are happening. That is not going to be a viable option.

We're hearing from communities all across the province already, "We do not want to take Toronto's garbage," and guess what? They're not going to. Toronto knows it has a big problem and it needs the Liberal government of Ontario, as do other municipalities across the province, to step in and make new and very stringent rules.

I believe the Liberal government said they were going to bring in a law that bans organics from landfills. Folks, we've got to do that now. We've got to move to a deposit-return system. We're one of the few provinces that do not have that, and we have to do it. There is no choice any more. We have to start serious composting programs. I know there are pilot projects here in Toronto. We still don't have one in my community. I'm waiting for it. I know people are anxious to get it. I know that other municipalities -- some are further ahead than Toronto; others aren't there at all -- don't have the resources to do it. These municipalities are coming to us now, saying, "We can't afford to pay for the sewer and water under the new water regulations." We have farmers coming to us saying, "We're not going to be able to do what's required of us under the Nutrient Management Act without resources from the government." That is the reality. The government has to bring in these new laws banning organics from landfills -- refillable bottles.


A third piece I want to talk about today is something we don't discuss very much here. I'm sure some of you have heard me talk about my private member's bill, Bill 29, An Act to ensure that the producers of electronic equipment retain responsibility when their products become waste. This means a "plan for producer-financed collection, recovery and recycling of electronic waste," all about how it's determined and approved by the ministry exactly what that is.

We are far behind in this province, in fact in this country, compared to some of the US states and European countries. I don't know if people are aware, but this is becoming one of the fastest-growing waste problems in the world. You think about how quickly -- almost overnight -- technology is advanced these days. I'm forever having to upgrade this and upgrade that. I talk to so many other people, and there are hundreds of thousands of people constantly getting new equipment.

There are some small programs in place. I believe I heard a member the other day talking about a program in Brampton, the Noranda corporation recycling plant. It's a recycling facility for electronics, cellphones, photocopiers, computers, all of those things. I don't know much about that facility, but I certainly aim to find out more.

The government needs to pass this bill or bring in its own bill to make sure we have a very good electronic waste system in this province. Let me tell you why. It's not just because some of these things end up in our landfills and they shouldn't because it decreases the capacity there. Think about the toxins that are in all of that electronic equipment. It's a real dilemma. You've got things like some of the most poisonous chemicals we know of: lead and mercury. Those are the kinds of things that are going into our landfills, if that's where they end up.

But perhaps more shocking -- I don't know if people are aware of this -- is that computers and some of this other electronic equipment is being exported. It's a way to get rid of it. It's being exported to Asia where, if you look at the evidence there, we are causing great environmental damage and health hazards for the people who live there. It has been acknowledged by the industry. They know it's a problem and they want to try to help.

The interesting thing about this bill before the House, my private member's bill, Bill 29, is that the electronic industry -- I must say this is not always usual when a private member has a bill -- phoned up and wanted to see me about my bill, and I thought they were going to have a problem with it. They came in and they're very happy with it. They've already started. The industry has already set up a working group that's trying to deal with this very issue, and they're urging the government to move forward and bring in a bill. They'd be just as happy to see this bill pass.

I've got to say to the Liberals once again, they need help from the government. All of these things mean resources and assistance from the government. That is what they're looking at. I believe they were meeting with the minister -- I'm not sure, but they're in the process of setting one up. I hope very much that we move forward on this because this is one of the areas where we have to move.

I mentioned three areas in particular today that would make a huge difference if we move quickly. There are the deposit-return refillable bottles. That means liquor and wine bottles. We know the beer stores have been doing it for years quite successfully. I know there are issues at the LCBO around different sizes and things. They've worked it out in other jurisdictions; we can work it out here too. That's one.

The Coke and Pepsi industry: I know the government is still relying a lot on -- I was disappointed by that aspect of their announcement, that they are still going with the waste diversion body that was put in place by the previous government. It's known by some environmentalists as the window-dressing group instead of waste diversion because it is an organization that is dominated by the industry types. And bless them. Their role is to try to make as much money as they can and do it in particular ways; that's their role. But they should not have the majority in this Waste Diversion Organization. There are not enough representatives from municipalities or communities or environmental groups. I was surprised to see that the Liberals have decided to stay with that group and not change it, because what we saw under the previous government, under the Conservative government, was that this group in fact fights against moving forward, on the whole, with refillable bottles, with a deposit-return system; it fights against producer responsibility. And in many ways, to many of these industries, the blue box works best for them. Of course they're going to fight for it, as they should. But they're wrong on this one. For the betterment of society and the problems we have with our waste, we need to change that. We need to change direction.

So I would urge the government to revamp that organization, the Waste Diversion Organization. Review it, take a look at it and see what kinds of changes need to be made so that it's much more proactive in terms of moving us forward on the things we must get going on right away.

I also have to urge the government once again: These things will not happen quickly enough without the leadership of the provincial government for the municipalities. We have to reach our target of 60%. It's my understanding that the 60% diversion by 2005 was announced, and now that has been pushed back to 2008. This is not acceptable. We cannot afford to do that any more. There are all kinds of information now and all kinds of programs. We don't have to reinvent the wheel here; we just have to have a commitment to make it happen and find the resources to make it happen.

I want to tell you, finally, how important, how vital -- another component that we must move on much more quickly, and I mentioned it briefly, is composting. One of the biggest problems with landfill -- of course we all know this -- is that toxic soup that is created when you've got a whole bunch of organics rotting away, tonnes of it, in the earth. It rots. It becomes toxic. And that is what creates the smell, that is what creates the leachate that we were so scared of, had it ended up in Adams mine, but now in the ground.

That is the biggest problem with landfill. Halifax, Edmonton and other jurisdictions have taken their organics out of the garbage, and that's what we have to do. I think we would all agree with that. The more organics we can get out of landfills, and anything else that can be reused, recycled or whatever else -- if we get that out of the waste stream and treat it as a resource, then, as in Edmonton and Halifax, what we have seen is that the amount of so-called garbage that's left over, number one, is inert. It doesn't have any smell. You still have the issue of some stuff left to deal with. Perhaps eventually we can even eliminate that. But the fact is, you don't have the same kinds of problems in siting the landfill when you get the organic materials out.

I just wanted to tell the government that these are the kinds of things that I will be pushing and that I would be very supportive of if I see the government making any of those efforts. Again, I am very pleased to see this bill before us today. I wanted improvement in the waste management side of things, but I'm very glad to see a bill that is stopping Adams mine in its tracks. We, the NDP, took it off the table in the 1990s as a waste management option, as we took incineration off the table as an option. Unfortunately, things went backwards after the Tory government came into being, and the whole focus was on getting the garbage and to dump it in the lake. That was wrong, and I applaud the government for moving forward on stopping that.

The Deputy Speaker: Just for the record, if the member for Toronto-Danforth was offering the Chair the opportunity to be screeched, I wanted to make sure you understood that I accept.

Questions and comments? The member for Sault Ste Marie.


Mr Orazietti: I am pleased to provide a brief response with respect to Bill 49, An Act to prevent the disposal of waste at the Adams Mine site. I want to comment briefly and commend Ms Churley, the member for Toronto-Danforth, on her support for this particular bill.

We are moving in the right direction with this piece of legislation. This is a bad deal for Ontarians. It's setting bad precedent. Our government takes the environment much more seriously than the past government has.

I also want to be clear about something else. This is not an issue about northern Ontario versus southern Ontario. This is an issue about responsible environmental management of our waste. If we were taking garbage from our riding of Sault Ste Marie to Kirkland Lake, or if the Adams mine site were an hour outside of the city of Toronto, this would not be a responsible deal for anyone in Ontario. It has the potential to affect our groundwater supply, and in that respect we obviously need to take a look at the environmental process that was undertaken under the past government. There are some problems with it.

Our government is committing to people in this province that we will review that process and ensure that deals such as this do not find themselves brought forward to the people of Ontario. We promise to address this issue. We're following through on another commitment and another promise by our government. I'm very pleased we're doing that. The Adams mine site will never become a landfill in this province. We will not entertain other situations that are similar to this, because we know that it's bad public policy for Ontarians.

We want to be sure that we're sending a clear message on the future of this province, to the young people of this province, that we will become more aggressive with our recycling programs and work very diligently to ensure our environment is protected.

Mr Dunlop: I'm pleased to make a few comments on the member for Toronto-Danforth's leadoff speech, which she put off the other day. She brought up a lot of good points: that we have to look at more reuse of products, composting -- a fantastic program for municipalities that can have it. My wife counts on compost. She goes out every spring and gets a bunch for the flower beds. We use it in our flower beds and our gardens.

I'd like to go back to the Adams Mine Lake Act just for a moment. It says in the act that the legislation amends the Environmental Protection Act to prevent the use of lakes as landfill sites. I don't like how the compendium reads, to be quite honest with you. It's almost a slap in the face for Ontarians to think that we would even consider using lakes as landfill sites. It goes on to read that the amendment does not apply to a body of water that is less than one hectare in area. I can't get my head around why it's even mentioned in the compendium or the legislation. It's going to be something that I think we have to explain to the citizens of Ontario. It's clear that we don't want to mix any type of waste with water. Just for the sake of the public, that's about two and a half acres. That's a very, very large building lot. A lake of that size would hold an awful lot of water. To even put that in there is scary.

I hope the government can go on in their comments and explain this, because I'm really looking forward to an explanation of that part of the legislation. Anyhow, my time is up. I appreciate the opportunity.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Timmons-James Bay.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay): Well, thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I'm sorry; you will get your turn, Monique. You'll be next, after the New Democratic caucus. I just want you to know -- a good friend of mine from North Bay.

I just want to say three things. One, I want to thank my friend from what used to be Riverdale, which is now Toronto-Danforth, who used to be on the city council in Toronto. As some of the members of this House might know, Marilyn Churley has been a huge supporter in trying to ban this particular project in Kirkland Lake. As a person who has been on this fight since -- God, this goes back to 1988 or 1989, something like that -- Marilyn was always there, either at city council, or in government when she was a cabinet minister, in opposition with the Tories and now in opposition with the Liberals. She has always been consistent and very supportive of making sure that this project doesn't go ahead. We in northern Ontario want to thank you for that because it's good to know that it's not just people from northern Ontario who don't like this project. Quite frankly, Metro councillors and eventually city of Toronto councillors voted en masse against this project, and as a representative of northern Ontario, I thank those people in Toronto who supported us.

I also want to say that I think the member for Toronto-Danforth, our environment critic, was quite right: What the government is doing is good. We will vote for this. We don't have a problem. But you really have to put the steps in place to make sure that we don't need the landfill sites. We started that process under Ruth Grier when she was the Minister of the Environment. Unfortunately, the Tories got rid of the legislation. But now it's up to you. You're the government and we'll work with you in order to do what needs to be done to reduce waste.

The other thing is that every government has a hand in this, some positive, some negative. I'm proud to have been part of a government that back in 1992 banned the Adams mine as a project where you can dump waste. We made a law that banned that. I was proud to do that. I'm proud again today to stand as a New Democrat, this time voting with the Liberal government, to yet again ban garbage at the Adams mine. I want to thank my good colleague from Toronto-Danforth for her many years of support on this.

Ms Monique M. Smith (Nipissing): Thank you, to the member for Timmins-James Bay. I'm happy to comment on Bill 49 today in response to the member for Toronto-Danforth's. She spoke about the people in the north who have been fighting this project. I would just like to quote for the members today an open letter from Alex Melaschenko of Haileybury:

"I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to your government's decision to table the Adams Mine Lake Act, an act which will ensure the economic integrity of Timiskaming and allay the fear of the possibility of our aquifer being eventually poisoned. Not only is this law an election promise kept, but more importantly, a morally correct one. Moreover, it is a decision siding with the ordinary citizens who have struggled for some 15 years against corporate and entrepreneurial greed.

"I also wish to express my thanks to the Minister of the Environment Leona Dombrowsky who has shown concern for the environment, and in our case, for the preservation of the most precious resource, our water. My special thanks are reserved for the Minister of Natural Resources David Ramsay for his steadfast and indefatigable opposition to two insane proposals in our region, namely the Adams mine landfill and the Bennett incinerator. As a resident of Timiskaming and as a politician, he too must feel that we are not a dumping ground for projects that, for good reason, nobody wants.

"The Adams Mine Lake Act, along with other legislation, such as increasing the minimum wage and reversing the inhumane law that forbade welfare frauds from ever again receiving benefits, sets your government, Mr McGuinty, miles apart from the previous one. In this respect, you are to be commended for making the province of Ontario a better place for everyone. After all, countries and governments are judged not by how they cater to the privileged, but by their compassion for the disenfranchised."

I wholeheartedly agree with the views of Mr Melaschenko, who so eloquently put his objections to Adams mine in an open letter to us yesterday. I appreciate his comments and I'm happy to be able to provide them to this House.

The Deputy Speaker: The member has two minutes to reply.

Ms Churley: I don't happen to have my screech here with me right now. I think the member for Nipissing just made history in this place. She read something right off her BlueBerry. I think we call them BlueBerries these days.

Interjection: BlackBerry.

Ms Churley: No. We call them BlueBerries now. Look, they're blue.

It must be a pleasure to read such a glowing letter for the government. I was going to say to the members for Nipissing and Sault Ste Marie, so little opportunity for a Liberal these days to be able to get up and say that they're keeping a promise. It must have felt really good. I'll give them that.


Ms Churley: It was a very good point. You've got to accept that. They're allowed to take shots at us every time they get up; we take a little shot at them and they get so defensive.


Ms Churley: I seem to have started a little bit of a storm, here.

I want to thank the members for Sault Ste Marie, Simcoe North, Timmins-James Bay and Nipissing for their comments. I believe that they summed up their concerns. I know the member for Simcoe North has expressed some concerns about the bill. But overall we're all agreeing, I hope -- I don't know about all of the Tories -- that stopping the Adams mine is a good thing.


Again, I'll say I'm proud to have been part of a government, back between 1990 and 1995, that said no right away to Adams mine. The idea of taking a whole bunch of toxic garbage and throwing it in water that would actually have groundwater -- the garbage would go into the groundwater. That was the idea, that the groundwater would be used to cleanse this toxin, for perhaps 1,000 years if the pump didn't work more than 70 to 80 years. The whole idea was ridiculous from day one.

The Deputy Speaker: I might say at this time that the Chair did recognize the use of an electronic device. We will be dealing with this perhaps at more length at a table officers' meeting, but I would suggest that no one, the rest of the debate today at least, refer to electronic devices in the Legislature.

The member for Mississauga East.

Mr Peter Fonseca (Mississauga East): It gives me great pleasure to be speaking on the Adams Mine Lake Act, 2004. I'll be sharing my time with my colleague from Lambton-Kent-Middlesex as we talk about the legacy that our government is creating, and will be leaving, for this great province of Ontario. The environment is around legacy, because if we don't have clean air, clean water and a clean earth, what do we have?

The previous government, over booming economic times throughout the 1990s, focused on tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, saying, "This is what the people want. They just want tax cuts." What did it bring us? Maybe people did put a little bit more money in their pocket, but it also brought us an environment that was being destroyed throughout Ontario -- our air, our water -- with no visionary thought to the future.

I often talk with my grandmother. She's 94 years old, and the big thing that she talks about is, "Our air is so dirty now in this city. Our land is getting dirtier and dirtier." We've got to change this. The great thing about my grandmother is that she wears these big glasses. They're bifocals. So she can kind of look down and read, and when she looks up, she can kind of see in the distance as her grandson is approaching.

What's great about having bifocal vision is understanding that, yes, we've got to take care of things that are right in front of us at the present moment, but we also have to look towards the future, the future for our kids and our grandchildren. That's what our government is doing. It's giving the people of Ontario the vision, the legacy that they so want, that had been taken away from them by the previous government.

I remember, as a kid here in Ontario, many of the conservation programs that we had in place in schools around turning off the lights or picking up the trash, making sure that we were clean. Very few of us -- I don't think any of the kids in my classes in elementary school -- came to school with asthma. I don't remember one. Today we have classes filled with kids that have asthma.

This has been brought on partly by the previous government and the legacy that they left behind. Let's look at it. They decided on destroying our environment.

The Tory government eliminated all provincial funding for recycling programs and waste diversion. As a result, Ontario now has the lowest recycling rate in Canada. This is shameful. Ontario diverts only 25% of its waste, despite the Harris guarantee to reach 50%. Well, what was that guarantee good for? Not much. By 2000, Edmonton and Halifax had both diverted over 65% of their waste. That is where we are going: to diversion, to diverting at least 60% of our waste, and I hope much more.

As always said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We're going to have to pay the piper somewhere. The Tories, without that bifocal vision, only looked at the present. It was all about tax cuts so people could buy more stuff, but they weren't thinking how sick they were making our province.

The previous government not only left us with our fiscal deficit, as we already know, of $5.6 billion, and a service deficit by not getting all 12 million Ontarians and our partners involved in moving our vision forward, but also an environmental deficit. Here is the Tory legacy: Whether it's the Adams mine, the construction of golf courses on sensitive lands, the sell-off of the 407 or the sale of government lands at rock-bottom prices, the previous government has consistently rewarded its friends at the expense of working families, with no thought or care for our children or our grandchildren.

We talk about democracy. We want a province run by the people, for the people. This is how they ran the province before us: Between 1995 and 2001 there was the Cortellucci group of family companies and related businesses that through 24 of their entities donated $600,000 to the Tory party. The donations in 2002 for the Tory leadership: Individual Cortellucci family and business associates contributed nearly $1 million to that party -- $44,000 to Mr Eves; $40,000 to Mrs Witmer; $46,000 to Mr Jim Flaherty; to the Minister of Health at the time, Tony Clement, $40,000; Mr Stockwell, $15,000. Stockwell didn't do that well, did he? So I guess they only gave him $15,000.

There are contributions that come from many different individuals and often they spread them around to the different parties. In the year 1999 alone, the Cortellucci group donated more than --

The Deputy Speaker: Excuse me. Will the member for Mississauga East take his seat. We are debating Bill 49, An Act to prevent the disposal of waste at the Adams Mine site, and I would like to hear that come into the conversation, please.

Mr Fonseca: It's coming, Mr Speaker. I was just trying to give some background on how all this came about, and that's what we're talking about with the Adams Mine Lake Act. The Adams Mine Lake Act is showing responsible government, that we listen to the people. As the member for Nipissing brought up in that letter that has been sent to us by different constituents, they are very happy that we were listening, because the previous government wasn't listening to what was happening up at Adams mine. How we are listening is by working with all interested parties here, not just one family or one group that has a special interest. We're listening to all -- environmentalists, scientists, researchers, ratepayers, young people, businesses -- to protect the environment.

The Adams mine issue is so important when we see what happened at Walkerton. We have to take care of our water because we cannot allow something like Walkerton to happen again. Walkerton touched so many people in Ontario, knowing how important our groundwater is. The new Minister of the Environment has really taken it under her belt to protect all waters in this great province of ours.

Often the opposition party talks about how things are done, and they bring this up under the cloak of darkness. The member from Erie-Lincoln often brings it up under the cloak of darkness. I've got to go back to the whole Cortellucci deal up there with the Adams mine lake, because under the cloak of darkness, that's how the previous government was dealing with this Adams mine issue. They were not open and transparent, listening to the people, making sure everybody was heard and making the right decisions, not just for today but for the legacy we would be leaving behind.


Our government is making the right decisions. We are about conservation. We have taken a turn here. We are embarking on a new vision for Ontario that revolves around clean water, clean air and clean earth, and the only way to do that is to conserve. We're always going to have some kind of waste. The thing is to understand what that waste is doing to our province. We will be making especially our kids, because they are great role models even for their parents, aware of how important it is to recycle and make sure we are not wasting, not leaving those taps running all the time in our houses, not leaving the lights on. This province is the second-worst energy consumer per capita on the planet.

Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure to speak to the Adams Lake Mine Act.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Norman W. Sterling (Lanark-Carleton): Much of the speech opposite was in fact part of landfill, garbage, with regard to the record of the previous government in terms of the environment. During that period of time, air quality --


The Deputy Speaker: I'm sorry. That's my fault. The member indicated he was splitting his time; the Chair's apology. There's a hockey game tonight, and I'm getting excited.

The member for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

Mrs Maria Van Bommel (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): Thank you, Speaker, and I hope you're going to have chicken wings while you're watching the game.

I want to thank the member for Mississauga East for sharing his time with me, and I also want to remind the younger member that some of us are already wearing bifocals. We do have that vision he's talking about, where we see things close up, but we also hopefully have that long-term ability to see what's coming.

When he mentioned that, I thought of my grandchildren, because those of us who wear bifocals also tend to be of an age that we have grandchildren. One thing that concerns me is what my grandchildren will have in terms of an environment to live in. We hear so often about all the difficulties and illnesses our children are experiencing, and I have constituents who ask me about certain illnesses their children are experiencing. They say to me, "Is that coming from our environment?" It is a real worry. So we need to look at this whole issue of the environment, and I'm glad we're doing that, as a government, and talking about things such as what we are doing with our garbage.

I'm also glad that I hear support throughout the House for this bill. The Adams mine is an issue that has gone on for a long time. I can well remember seeing on television and reading in the papers the blockades that were set up by the citizens of Timiskaming trying to prevent this from coming to them. I remember them blockading the roads. I remember them blockading the railroads, which kind of worried me because it reminded me of those old movies where you had somebody straddled across, tied to the railroad tracks. But it was something that was very important to them.

The member from Toronto-Danforth mentioned the Timiskaming Federation of Agriculture. That was a group of farmers who spent a lot of energy not just protesting in the Kirkland Lake area, but also coming here to talk to us about what was happening to them and the potential effects garbage in the Adams mine would have on the water in their area. They were concerned about what impact that would have on their livestock and what it would do to their livelihood. There was a real concern there, and I understand that concern.

The member from Simcoe North mentioned the fact that Walkerton changed everything, and it really did. We now are very conscious of what happens to our water. We worry about what gets into the water, and when we hear from the people in Timiskaming about the Adams mine, they tell us that they're concerned that the cracks and fissures in the rock will allow leachate from the garbage to get into the water. The member also mentioned that only 1% of the water we now have is potable. Most of us, when we think of the north, think of wonderful lakes, clear water and the cool drink we can have. To think that only 1% of water is potable and we might risk that kind of water is, to me, a very deplorable thing.

The very thought of garbage being dumped into the Adams mine makes me think of the old adage "Out of sight, out of mind." That's where we need to change our approach to what we do with garbage. We can no longer put it on trucks and send it down the 400-series highways. Whether it goes to Michigan or the north, we can't just do that any more. That kind of thing has got to stop.

The answer is actually that we can do things such as diversion, and we are talking about 60% diversion by 2008. I've had the opportunity to go to Michigan to one of the garbage sites they have there. We toured the site, if you can imagine touring a landfill site. They showed us where they separated, and they do diversion right at the site. They took the organic waste and separated it away. Out of that, they collected the methane gas, which is then used to power turbines, and that created electricity for that community. They're actually able to power 5,000 homes from methane that comes off dumps.

When we talk about landfills, we use the word "landfills" as a way of making it something good, and it is true. If we look in other jurisdictions such as Europe, they're actually mining old landfill sites, trying to find ways of taking garbage that comes out of those landfills and making it into energy.

In Japan, they have a system called plasma gasification. What they do there again is take the garbage and instead of using -- this system is not a combustion system, so there are no emissions into the air. It takes electricity, pushes it through gas, and it causes such heat that the garbage does more than just melt; actually, the structure completely comes apart. What's left are products that can be used either as metals or glass.

These kinds of processes and technologies are available in the world. As a society, I think we can do things with garbage. As the member for Toronto-Danforth said, it is a resource. We can make good things happen with garbage. That's what we need to look for in our own because if we're going to save the environment, we have got to stop just simply filling holes or piling it up and leaving it there, hoping at some point or another someone else will decide how we're going to save our environment.

My particular riding has two landfill sites. Those landfill sites are within half an hour of Michigan. There is a real, great concern in my riding that if, for any reason -- and it doesn't necessarily have to be the state of Michigan passing a law. It could simply be something like a terrorist alert that would close the border and all of a sudden we're faced with what to do with all these trucks that are now going from Toronto to Michigan. We need to deal with these things. We can't just simply say, "OK. It's going to come back."

The greatest fear in my riding is that all these trucks will suddenly present at the two landfill sites in the riding and try to get rid of a day or two days of garbage in there. We can't just simply keep doing this kind of thing. We have to deal with the garbage at some point, and right now we are going to be doing this kind of thing.

Bill 49, in trying to put an end to the dumping of garbage or the potential for dumping of garbage at the Adams mine, revokes all approvals. Some people might say, "Is that fair to the current owners of the Adams site?" But we are also saying in this bill that we will provide fair compensation to the company that owns the Adams mine. I think that is important. We're not saying we're going to compensate them for future profits, but we are going to compensate them for the expenses they have incurred so far. I think that's an appropriate thing to do, because we need to stop the Adams mine right now.

I applaud this legislation and, as I said, I'm very happy to hear the support for this in the House today.


The Deputy Speaker: Now is the time for questions and comments.

Mr Sterling: As a former environment minister and having a lot of knowledge with regard to what our government did, I can only say to the member from Mississauga East that his comments are akin to the subject matter of this bill; I would call them garbage. Our government produced cleaner air. We introduced the Drive Clean program in this province, something the NDP studied and studied but did nothing about. As you know, at that time the blue box program was broken, so the Waste Diversion Organization was set up under my leadership as Minister of the Environment. I note that the present government has adopted that particular plan and will be utilizing it to go forward to drive up diversion, producing less and less garbage in the future.

I find a lot of this debate is motherhood, without real reasoning or reality as to what is happening out in the real world. What we have here is a government setting about closing down options for future landfill sites and offering no alternatives for where the garbage should go in the future. We have a very critical situation in the province now with regard to shipping our domestic garbage over the border. That is not responsible, in my view. We should be taking care of our own garbage, whatever we produce. This government is offering no alternatives to take on that responsibility. Being Minister of the Environment is a very difficult job, but leadership is not about closing down options and not offering new solutions; it's about offering new solutions, finding new solutions, actually doing something. We are waiting for that to happen.

Mr Bisson: I should never rise to the bait, but I will in this case. In my view, the Adams mine was never a new solution. I guess that's the problem I have with that debate. The former government felt that somehow it was important to move forward on the Adams mine project --

Interjection: Out of sight, out of mind.

Mr Bisson: That's exactly the point. The member across the way makes the point that using the Adams mine -- I always felt -- was promoting an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach to dealing with Toronto's waste problem. I didn't see that as being a particularly good one. Neither do I see shipping waste all the way to Michigan as being any better.

The issue to me is, yes, I support the legislation -- I never believed it should be shipped to the Adams mine -- but what we really need to do, and this is where I agree with my colleague Mr Sterling, is try to find ways to approach how we deal with waste in our cities and towns across this province. If we look around the world, or even in Canada, there are all kinds of good examples where various jurisdictions have found ways to reduce waste at site; for example, diminished packaging. We look at more recyclables; we look at various approaches when it comes to waste management that reduce our overall need to get to a landfill site.

Mr Patten: Polymerization.

Mr Bisson: Well, I'm not sure I want to go there; you almost baited me on that one too. I understand the position of the former Minister of the Environment, but I don't agree with it. I never thought the Adams mine was a good project from that perspective.

I want to say that I think this particular debate is interesting, but at the end of the day we're going to have to move forward with this fairly quickly. How much more can we say? We're basically all in favour, we think it is a great bill and we're trying to put things on the record. But at the end of the day we should vote on this thing and get it moving along through the House.

Mr Tim Peterson (Mississauga South): I'm happy to stand on Bill 49. I know that, as we move forward as a government, we will also incentivize the new solutions that are available for waste management. This is already being done in the area of the blue box and the grey box and other ways of collecting garbage that don't produce leachate. Leachate is an anaerobic process built up in plastic bags. If you look at the models of Nova Scotia and Quebec, they've actually banned plastic bags from landfill sites because the leachate is what creates all the contamination and allows the vermin, the rodents and the diseases that surround improper management of leachate.

The most responsible way to manage garbage is source separation; that is, the person who creates it separates it and takes out the recyclables. At that point, you're left with two different types of waste: a dry organic and a wet organic. Both of those organics can be used for making compost. I would hope that our government would look at the use of compost and the massive amounts that could be created just from the garbage generated by Toronto as a way of increasing the size of the soil burden in northern Ontario, where often the land is hurt because of the very thin soil layer we have.

We should look at other ways. Vance Packard in the 1950s wrote a book called The Waste Makers and how we will be mining our garbage. Even the people with the Adams mine site were going to use garbage for the production of methane gas for electricity. So as we go forward, may we look at these new solutions for mining our garbage.

Mr Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): The member for Nipissing made the point, and it's a good point, that for so many people in our society, garbage is out of sight, out of mind. I would suspect that, for many people, perhaps the only decision would be, who's going to take out the garbage on Wednesday morning or Friday morning when it goes out?

Then where does it go? Many people probably aren't aware. They assume it goes to a local landfill. If they live in York, Durham or Toronto, they probably know it goes barrelling down the 401 to Michigan. As the member for Nipissing indicated, if I heard her correctly, we quite simply can't keep doing this kind of thing. She's right. She will know that she has concurrence from a number of Michigan state senators and from the governor of Michigan.

I think you made reference to a terrorist threat. This information has been passed on to the head of the United States Homeland Security, Mr Rich. In fact, a number of months ago, he received a petition from a Michigan state senator that had about 165,000 names on it. There were names on that petition from every county in the state of Michigan.

The member from Mississauga East is quite confident that your government and your minister will reach the 60% recycling target by the year 2008. Last December we all received information in this House that the government was quite confident it would reach that 60% recycling target by the year 2005. It is concerning to have that kind of delay.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Mississauga East has two minutes to reply.

Mr Fonseca: We are committed to that 60% waste reduction, as the member from Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant brought up.

To address some of the comments made by the member from Lanark-Carleton, it is about motherhood and it is about a province that we are happy to live in, that we feel good about. But it's also about facts, and the fact is that Ontario has the lowest recycling rate in Canada. Ontario diverts only 25% of its waste. That's the legacy the previous government left behind. That's what we're fixing and that's what we're committed to do. We are committed to the environment, to protecting and leaving this province better than we found it.


The opposition has not changed. Just today in this House, as we were discussing the greenbelt and how important it is to curb that urban sprawl and to take care of our environment, all the members from our party voted for the greenbelt. The members from the third party, the NDP, voted for the greenbelt, but the opposition, in a block, voted against the greenbelt. They have not changed. They are not about a green Ontario. It's all about brown air -- the smog.

Our government is committed to the future of Ontario, not just for today, but for tomorrow. It's a future that will bring us prosperity, because the people of Ontario have to live in a place they enjoy. To come to work, to be productive here, they have to be in an environment that they are enjoying and that they believe in.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Sterling: I want to talk a little bit about landfill, and the fact that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has some of the best experts with regard to landfill regulation specifications on how to build a proper landfill site. We have been blessed in the ministry with people who have received international recognition for their knowledge and their skills with regard to how to bury waste when necessary.

No one likes garbage. Everybody would like everything diverted or reused or recycled. We all agree with that. So let's start talking about what in fact we do have to bury and let's try to bury it in the most safe and best manner, and try to encourage proponents to come forward who will in fact do this for us. I don't think the government wants to end up running landfill sites. It is primarily a municipal responsibility.

I guess that's where we get off into another track. That is, who on earth is going to want to bring forward a proposal for a landfill site in Ontario after this debacle? I don't really have feelings one way or the other about the Adams mine landfill site. I do know that some people in the north opposed it. I do know that some people in the north vehemently supported it, including the mayor and council of Kirkland Lake, on several occasions bringing forward resolutions to the province, asking us to go forward and approve this particular site.

But you know, what we have here is political meddling in a defined process for a business. The proponent started I guess back in 1990 and brought forward different proposals; undertook and invested money in various and different manners with regard to technical studies; went to the Ministry of the Environment with an environmental assessment; went to the Environmental Appeal Board; had a peer review of its reports; and went through all of the processes, crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's, with regard to bringing this proposal forward.

In the end there was a decision, a technical decision, that this was a safe place to put landfill. That was the technical decision. Now, I understand that lots of people who haven't read the reports -- I dare say that probably none of the people who have spoken on this particular matter have read the reports -- are saying, "This is an awful thing, to put landfill in the Adams mine." They're saying that on the basis of the fact that there has been a political decision by this particular government to annul, to just throw aside, proper and due process, and inject its political will on what has transpired over the last 14 years.

I want to home in on one particular aspect of Bill 49, and I can't support this bill as long as this particular section is in it. I'm not really considering the other matters with regard to this bill, but I'm referring in particular to section 5 of the bill, which extinguishes the right of the proponent to legal recourse with regard to what this government has done for political purpose.

I speak as a lawyer and as a professional engineer with regard to this Adams mine site. As I say, there appears to be -- and there hasn't been any evidence introduced in this debate by the minister or by the government that there's any technical reason to change the decision that was made or the giving of the environmental approval for this site. There's no technical reason; therefore, we have a political reason for doing this.

Now, the rule of law says -- and it's a very, very important concept in principle in Ontario, in Canada and in any democratic institution. Basically, the rule of law says that each and every one of us shall be treated equally before the law. And in our Constitution, we have a guarantee in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with regard to criminal matters that might be brought against you or me by a crown or by a private citizen under criminal prosecution, and that is that if, for instance, the province of Ontario decided to pass a law which denied me some of my basic rights as guaranteed in the Constitution, there would be no hesitation on the part of the Supreme Court of Canada, if it ever got that high, to throw that law out the door. We don't have property rights enshrined in our Constitution, and that is the only way that section 5 of Bill 49 can stand the test of the courts.

I want to read to you the editorial of the Ottawa Citizen for April 20: "Dumping the rule of law: Ontario's Premier shouldn't need basic civics lessons, but a bill now before Queen's Park demonstrates that Dalton McGuinty doesn't understand the basic principle of western civilization: the rule of law.

"That principle, for Mr McGuinty's benefit, holds that laws -- clear, public and predictable -- are what govern our actions. Not the whim of king or Premier. And, just as important, the law applies to everyone -- from the humblest individual to governments, kings and, yes, even Premiers.

"Mr McGuinty's lack of understanding of this basic idea is clear in the legislation his government introduced to deal with the lingering issue of the Adams mine dump. In 1998, the then Conservative government gave approval to a proposal by a North Bay businessman to ship Toronto's trash by rail to an abandoned open-pit mine near Kirkland Lake. The project wound its way slowly through the bureaucracy. Several times it appeared the city of Toronto would scupper it. But it kept coming back to life until the McGuinty government announced it was officially and finally dead.


"That's certainly the government's prerogative." And I'm not saying that it isn't the government's prerogative to kill this particular proposal, if that's what they want. "But the businessman is now out of pocket for millions of dollars in expenses. He has also seen any expectation of profit from the project vanish after all these years because the government, which is in effect his business partner, suddenly changed its mind. Clearly, he has to be compensated. And that's why we have the law. The laws governing civil liability are voluminous and complex and we wouldn't presume to say precisely what is owed, but that's what the law is intended to sort out. Every day, individuals, companies or governments pull out of deals. Then the law sorts out the mess.

"But not this time. Mr McGuinty knows the law would likely say his government is liable for major damages and he doesn't want to pay. So he added clauses to the Adams mine legislation that say the businessman may receive compensation for out-of-pocket expenses but nothing else. Any legal claims, existing or future, are `hereby extinguished.' The law? Poof! Gone.

"Let's be clear, this is not about the wisdom of the Adams mine proposal. Both supporters and opponents of the project should be disgusted by the sight of Mr McGuinty saying, in effect, that law is whatever he and his Liberal majority feel like today. When a government can simply wave its hand and not only free itself of inconvenient laws, but do so retroactively" -- this goes back, and that is very dangerous -- "it is effectively above the law. Kings lost their heads for behaving like this.

"Although more and more retroactive legislation is being passed by lazy Canadian governments that don't understand, or don't care, about principles they are damaging, it isn't happening in the field of criminal law. That's because" -- as I explained before -- "a judge would use the Charter of Rights to knock down a law that criminalized conduct retroactively." In other words, if you tried to create a criminal law going back and said that somebody should have done something and tried to charge that person, the Charter of Rights would throw it out. "But the charter cannot stop governments from retroactively tearing up contracts or otherwise putting themselves above the law because there is no protection for property rights in it. Property rights are enshrined in the Constitution of almost every major Western nation that has a written Constitution and yet they were left out when our charter was drafted."

This is appalling legislation and I don't know how any member of this Legislature can support it, given section 5 of it. If you read any of the authorities with regard to the rule of law, the definition of the rule of law says nothing about the justness of the laws themselves, but simply how the legal system upholds the law. As a consequence of this, a very undemocratic nation or one without respect for human rights can exist with or without the rule of law, but no democracy can function without the rule of law.

I am appalled as well with this piece of legislation with regard to the retroactive treatment of a businessman's or a person's right for full access to the courts for any kind of compensation that they are entitled to for this unilateral decision by this government. I cannot remember seeing the rule of law so blatantly disregarded and disrespected as by Mr McGuinty and his government.

I would have thought that Mr McGuinty, who is a lawyer, as you know, and has been called to the bar, and that Mr Bryant, the Attorney General, would have stood in their places and said, "We may not want to pay the bill. We may not want to pay for the compensation of this individual, but it's a price we must pay in order to uphold the rule of law in our country."

If we can't rely on this government to uphold the rule of law, then we can expect in the future to see this government come back to us, retroactively when dealing with property matters, and say, "We are going to take your property away, but we are not going to compensate you justly for it." That is clearly demonstrated in Bill 49.

It's clearly demonstrated by the debate in this Legislature that this was done for political reasons. There have been no technical reasons put forward by the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Natural Resources or anybody else why this decision was reversed. It was done for political purposes. Therefore, if the government is going to use its prerogative, as it can in this Legislature, to bring forward a piece of legislation and ask all its backbenchers, its majority, to carry it, then they must suffer the damages that are associated with that in order to uphold the rule of law.

You must treat everyone the same. Whether you like them or you don't like them, you must allow them access to our courts for their remedies.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Bisson: Part of what my good friend Mr Sterling -- I forget your riding; I wish I knew it --

Mr Sterling: Lanark-Carleton.

Mr Bisson: -- from Lanark-Carleton raises that I'm in agreement with is that I think we all accept there are policies that should be followed when it comes to the issue of reducing overall reliance on the use of landfill sites. But I guess where I've always had a disagreement with the previous administration is on the whole issue of shipping garbage away from Toronto to a site such as the Adams mine. At the end of the day, that creates an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude when it comes to dealing with garbage. I always thought that is not a good way of doing things.

This issue has been going on for about 15 years, as my friend well knows. Unfortunately, in the 15 years, we've been on-again/off-again with the Adams mine. I think it was the Peterson government that originally approved the Adams mine as a project. After that, we as New Democrats opposed it and passed legislation to end it. The Tories came to office, reversed that and reopened the project, and now, to the credit of the Liberal government of today, they've brought in legislation that kills the project yet again. My point is that we've had 15 years --


Mr Bisson: I give you credit for that. But for 15 years we have been sort of frittering around with the politics of this issue and not dealing with the serious issue of reliance on waste disposal sites in Ontario. If we had been able to get into some rational debate 15 years ago, we might be that much closer to finding overall solutions to our problems. Let's hope that today, or whenever we do pass this legislation, we're in a position to put this behind us once and for all and then move forward on trying to find the solutions you talk about.

Mrs Carol Mitchell (Huron-Bruce): I too would like to add my support to Bill 49. I would like to say that when the minister made the announcement, it was announcing a waste management strategy. This will begin to make our communities across Ontario clean, safe and livable.

What I would like to do is share an example with you. As many of you know, I come from a municipal background, and just for one second I would like to talk about some of the things we did for waste diversion. Something I was very proud of that our municipality was able to do -- as we as members of this House will be proud of this bill, moving forward -- was increase our recycling component. We introduced community composting. That created a 40% reduction in what we sent to our landfills.

I believe that for the future of Ontario and for the betterment of Ontarians, we have to begin our process of a strategy. I concur with my fellow member over here that many years have been lost. It's time, and that time is now. We deserve a better future. We can all drive down every road and we're passed every day by all the trucks that are eating up the roads, moving that garbage back and forth. We now begin to set a new plan in place. In my mind, and in all of our minds, we know this is long overdue.

I am pleased to add my support and my voice to further encourage more waste diversion for the future of Ontario.


Mr Barrett: Our member from Lanark-Carleton made reference to the international reputation of the staff at the Ministry of the Environment. The member would know, as a former minister of the crown, a former environment minister, that it highlights the importance for this government to listen to objective, neutral, science-based information from staff -- staff who undoubtedly have been working on this project as long as the proponents, for more than a dozen years.

The member raises the question: Who in their right mind would now come forward to develop any kind of significant landfill operation? Who in Ontario would consider rail haul of non-hazardous, recycled waste to a distant location in the future? Who would come forward? Does it now lie in the hands of the provincial government? We know the Premier has indicated he is looking for new sites. The problem is, we have evidence here of political meddling, a not-in-my-backyard kind of environmental pork-barrelling, if you will, where, with all due respect, several cabinet ministers are looking after their constituents, and whether that meets the bar of a cabinet minister, to consider not only the province overall but other jurisdictions. Certainly the state of Michigan has been mentioned here this afternoon.

The member makes reference to section 5, which eliminates legal recourse. We know that in Ontario we no longer have property rights, and this government is taking advantage of that fact.

Mr Dave Levac (Brant): I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this bill, Bill 49, the Adams Mine Lake Act, 2004. The member for Lanark-Carleton has presented us with a case in terms of the legal side. He tells us he's a lawyer, and I respect the fact that he's giving his opinion on the generic parts of the law regarding the concerns he's laid out. I deeply appreciate it. I wouldn't question it.

He tells us, if I'm getting this right, that he's a trained engineer as well. He indicated, with a challenge, that there are no technical reasons to give back about this. Well, there has been information provided on several occasions, and I want to bring a couple of things to his attention.

The first one may be considered political, but I would suggest to him that it was a concern about technicals. When Toronto council decided to accept that negotiation bid, with the understanding that there would be negotiations to come to grips with an agreement, there was support. However, during those discussions, the proponent indicated that they would not accept liability. They wanted the city of Toronto to accept liability if something went wrong after the dumping of the garbage. That tells me that the proponent was a little bit concerned about whether or not it could fulfill what it thought was a foolproof plan.

The second point I would like to bring to his attention is that Dr Howard, the hydrologist who worked on Walkerton, made it quite clear when he was commissioned to do the study of the Adams mine proposal that he could not in his right conscience project anything that could be perfect. He basically indicated that there were deep concerns about the Adams mine project and, as a hydrologist, he could not guarantee that this would be foolproof, and indicated he had concerns about the project. Dr Howard, studying the Walkerton project, also looked at this one and expressed some concerns about it. So I think there was evidence, through Toronto's actions and Dr Howard's response, that there were definitely technical concerns that needed to be raised.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Lanark-Carleton has two minutes to reply.

Mr Sterling: I don't want to get into a debate about the technical part of it, but there were peer reviews done of all the technical reports and the consensus was that it was a sound technical thing to do. But that's not the debate I want to focus in on here. I want to focus in on the fact that this government doesn't give a hoot about property rights. They don't care about property rights, because what they're doing here is they are saying to an individual, "You followed the law, but now we are going to change that law retroactively and we're not going to give you full access to the courts." I don't care whether they like or dislike this particular proponent; this is a terrible abrogation of property rights, a terrible abrogation of the rights of the citizens of Ontario, and Dalton McGuinty should be ashamed.

As it says in the editorial "Dumping the Rule of Law," Ontario's Premier "shouldn't need basic civics lessons, but a bill now before Queen's Park demonstrates that Dalton McGuinty doesn't understand a basic principle of western civilization: the rule of law." I only ask that members -- members of the backbench, members of the government of the province of Ontario as it now stands -- go to your ministers and say, "Change section 5." Otherwise, any businessman putting forward a proposal, whether it's a landfill site or it's any other kind of regulation dealing with this government, can stand by and look at this and say, "They may change their mind. They may change their mind two or three years from now if the heat comes on politically. And then what they will do is they will retroactively pull the rug and they won't compensate me fairly for my efforts in bringing forward this business proposal." Please do that.

Hon Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rise to correct a statement I made earlier in the House. I referred to the participants in the CPRN sessions as volunteers, which in fact they were, but I also said they received nothing in return for their considered advice. They worked eight to 10 hours, they worked through their lunch hour, and they were, as is traditional in these circumstances, given an honorarium of $100 in respect of their time. I want to make sure the House has full access to accurate information concerning that point made earlier today.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.

It being 6 of the clock and fast approaching the time when the chant will go out, "Go, Leafs, go," this House is adjourned until 10 am on Thursday, April 29.

The House adjourned at 1758.