39e législature, 1re session

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L'ONTARIO

Tuesday 17 June 2008 Mardi 17 juin 2008

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORDER OF BUSINESS

GRAND AVENUE HOLDINGS
LTD. ACT, 2008

GRAND AVENUE HOLDINGS
LTD. ACT, 2008

ST. ANDREW'S UNITED CHURCH
(TORONTO) ACT, 2008

ST. ANDREW'S UNITED CHURCH
(TORONTO) ACT, 2008

MADRESA ASHRAFUL ULOOM
ACT, 2008

MADRESA ASHRAFUL ULOOM
ACT, 2008

716056 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT, 2008

716056 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT, 2008

827291 ONTARIO LTD. ACT, 2008

827291 ONTARIO LTD. ACT, 2008

719226 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT, 2008

719226 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT, 2008

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

ORAL QUESTIONS

ENERGY POLICIES

C. DIFFICILE

POVERTY

NUCLEAR ENERGY

SCHOOL SAFETY

ACCESS TO EDUCATION

MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING

PESTICIDES

INJURED WORKERS

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

GASOLINE PRICES

DEVELOPMENT IN NIAGARA

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

ONTARIO ECONOMY

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

COMMITTEE SITTINGS

VISITORS

PETITIONS

POPE JOHN PAUL II

HOME CARE

COMMUNITY SAFETY

HOSPITAL SERVICES

ONTARIO SOCIETY FOR
THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY
TO ANIMALS

LORD'S PRAYER

HOSPITAL FUNDING

LORD'S PRAYER

WYE MARSH WILDLIFE CENTRE

HIGHWAY 35

ONTARIO SOCIETY FOR
THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY
TO ANIMALS

HOSPITAL FUNDING

GRAFFITI

HOSPITAL FUNDING

POWER PLANT

WYE MARSH WILDLIFE CENTRE

HOSPITAL FUNDING

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

BARB COWIESON

CHINESE CANADIAN HEAD TAX REDRESS DAY

PEEL'S ABORIGINAL CELEBRATION

BRUCEâ€"GREYâ€"OWEN SOUND
AWARD WINNERS

ONTARIO WINE WEEK

SCI-TECH ONTARIO

POLO FOR HEART

EVENTS IN MISSISSAUGA SOUTH

WESTFEST 2008

ANNUAL REPORT, OMBUDSMAN

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

COMITÉ PERMANENT DE LA POLITIQUE SOCIALE /
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
SOCIAL POLICY

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

LAKE SIMCOE PROTECTION ACT, 2008 /
LOI DE 2008 SUR LA PROTECTION
DU LAC SIMCOE

MOTIONS

COMMITTEE SITTINGS

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
AND RESPONSES

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

ORDERS OF THE DAY


   

The House met at 0900.

Prayers.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORDER OF BUSINESS

Hon. Michael Bryant: Speaker, we're proposing to deal with private bills at this time. I believe we have all-party agreement, so I seek unanimous consent that the orders for second and third reading of private bills may be called consecutively and that the Speaker shall put the question on the motions for second and third reading of each bill without debate or amendment.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): You're seeking unanimous consent to move the motion first. Is there such consent in the House? Agreed.

Hon. Michael Bryant: Speaker, I move that the orders for second and third reading of the following private bills may be called consecutively and that you shall put the question on the motions for second and third reading of each bill without debate or amendment: namely, Bill Pr2, An Act to revive Grand Avenue Holdings Ltd.; Bill Pr3, An Act respecting St. Andrew's Congregation of the United Church of Canada at Toronto; Bill Pr5, An Act respecting Madresa Ashraful Uloom; Bill Pr6, An Act to revive 716056 Ontario Limited; Bill Pr7, An Act to revive 827291 Ontario Ltd.; Bill Pr8, An Act to revive 719226 Ontario Limited; and that another member may move the motions for second and third reading on behalf of the sponsor of any of the bills.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Agreed to.

GRAND AVENUE HOLDINGS
LTD. ACT, 2008

Mr. Ruprecht moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr2, An Act to revive Grand Avenue Holdings Ltd.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Second reading agreed to.

GRAND AVENUE HOLDINGS
LTD. ACT, 2008

Mr. Ruprecht moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr2, An Act to revive Grand Avenue Holdings Ltd.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Third reading agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

ST. ANDREW'S UNITED CHURCH
(TORONTO) ACT, 2008

Mr. Zimmer moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr3, An Act respecting St. Andrew's Congregation of the United Church of Canada at Toronto.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Second reading agreed to.

ST. ANDREW'S UNITED CHURCH
(TORONTO) ACT, 2008

Mr. Zimmer moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr3, An Act respecting St. Andrew's Congregation of the United Church of Canada at Toronto.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Third reading agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

MADRESA ASHRAFUL ULOOM
ACT, 2008

Mr. Zimmer, on behalf of Mr. Qaadri, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr5, An Act respecting Madresa Ashraful Uloom.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Second reading agreed to.

MADRESA ASHRAFUL ULOOM
ACT, 2008

Mr. Zimmer, on behalf of Mr. Qaadri, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr5, An Act respecting Madresa Ashraful Uloom.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Third reading agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

716056 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT, 2008

Mr. Norm Miller moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr6, An Act to revive 716056 Ontario Limited.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Second reading agreed to.

716056 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT, 2008

Mr. Norm Miller moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr6, An Act to revive 716056 Ontario Limited.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Third reading agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

827291 ONTARIO LTD. ACT, 2008

Mr. Naqvi moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr7, An Act to revive 827291 Ontario Ltd.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Second reading agreed to.

827291 ONTARIO LTD. ACT, 2008

Mr. Naqvi moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr7, An Act to revive 827291 Ontario Ltd.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Third reading agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

719226 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT, 2008

Ms. Jaczek moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr8, An Act to revive 719226 Ontario Limited.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Second reading agreed to.

719226 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT, 2008

Ms. Jaczek moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr8, An Act to revive 719226 Ontario Limited.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Third reading agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

Orders of the day?

Hon. Michael Bryant: I seek consent for the House to recess until 10:45.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Agreed? Agreed.

This House stands in recess until 10:45 a.m.

The House recessed from 0913 to 1045.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): On behalf of the members, I would like to welcome a number of guests today.

On behalf of the member for Mississaugaâ€"Erindale, we would like to welcome Indian actor, producer and director Mr. Dev Anand. He is accompanied in the House by his son Suneil Anand; the Consul General of India, Satish Mehta; Mrs. Preeti Mehta and other guests from India. They will be in the House at around 11:15 today.

On behalf of the member for Parry Soundâ€"Muskoka, in the east public gallery, we would like to welcome the students of Riverside Public School and their teacher, Joanne Lea.

On behalf of the member for Hamilton Eastâ€"Stoney Creek, we would like to welcome, in the west members' gallery, Darrell Powell of British Columbia, Pete Clare of Forest, Ontario, and Colleen Mathers, on behalf of injured workers.

On behalf of page Alie Crump, we would like to welcome her mother, Jeniffer, and her sister Katie. They will be in the west members' gallery.

On behalf of page Chris Grouchy, we would like to welcome his mother, Debbie Grouchy, his brother Robbie and his step-sister Kelsi Oram, in the west public gallery.

On behalf of page Murray Fallis, we would like to welcome his mother, Wendy McQuaig Fallis, his father, Fred Fallis, his uncle John McQuaig, his aunt Janet McQuaig, his cousin Max McQuaig, his cousin Anna McQuaig, his grandmother Audrey McQuaig, his aunt Betty Trow Fallis, his cousin Rachel Trow and his grandmother Lois Fallis, all in the west members' gallery.

I'd like to extend a special welcome today to a delegation in the Speaker's gallery from the Imo State House of Assembly in Nigeria. Part of the delegation this morning is the Honourable Jonas Okeke, the Deputy Speaker; Dr. Emmanuel Ibekwe, the Clerk of the House, and other guests. Welcome to Queen's Park and welcome to Ontario today.

ORAL QUESTIONS

ENERGY POLICIES

Mr. John Yakabuski: My question is for the Minister of Energy. Your government has projected that new nuclear plants announced yesterday for Darlington will be online in 2018, but your government has yet again promised to close the coal-fired plants, this time by 2014. That leaves a four-year gap. Minister, how do you plan to keep the lights on during that four-year gap?

Hon. Gerry Phillips: It's a question that I think the public have a right to hear the answer on. We have a 20-year electricity plan. It's published. It's the subject of an awful lot of background research. It is before the Ontario Energy Board right now for review. It spells out in great detail exactly how we will provide the supply.

I might add, to all of us, particularly the public, it starts with conservation. We are determined to cut our demand by about 20% over the life of this project, over the life of the plan. Secondly, we are doubling our use of renewables. It's all spelled out in that plan. We are going to maintain our nuclear fleet at 14,000 megawatts.

I would say to the member and, equally importantly, to the public: Take a look at the plan. It's all there in detail. It spells out exactly how we will accomplish it. And it's a good plan.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I might remind the minister that he had planned to close the coal plants in 2007, and then in 2009. You're not that good at planning, Minister.

Your government has absolutely no credibility when it comes to energy. It's been one broken promise after another. We know that in 10 years, demand in Ontario will rise to about 29,000 megawatts. The current capacity is between 26,000 and 28,000 megawatts, and the coal plants provide 25% of that capacity. There's no guarantee that the nuclear plants will actually be online by 2018.

I ask you again, how do you plan to keep the lights on past 2014? Or do you plan on breaking your coal promise yet a third unprecedented time?

1050

Hon. Gerry Phillips: I'll repeat part of my answer. We have a 20-year plan, spelled out in detail, before the Ontario Energy Board.

I would also say that we have an Independent Electricity System Operator. This is a group that looks at our supply. What did they say? Two things: They've told us publicly that we have on stream the capacity to hit our next one-third reduction on coal in 2011. They've also told us that over the next 18 months we have more new supply coming online in the province of Ontario than at any other 18-month period in the history of the province.

So we have a 20-year plan before the Ontario Energy Board that's spelled out in detail. I think the people of Ontario can feel confident that we have a reliable, affordable and environmentally sensitive electricity plan for the future.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Their plansâ€"it reminds me of Robbie Burns.

Minister, what your government's dithering has cost Ontariansâ€"businesses are going to think twice about investing and creating new jobs in Ontario, because under your plan, which you're not very good at planning, there's no assurance of a reliable, affordable, sustainable energy supply in the province of Ontario. There's no plan for keeping the lights on between 2014 and 2018, so the coal plants are going to have to stay open until the nuclear plants are actually up and running, and who knows when that date will actually be? And because you've refused to install scrubbers on the coal plants, as our party suggested, we're going to see the number of smog-related deaths, now pegged at 9,500 a year, dramatically increase.

When is your party simply going to admit that your bungling of the energy file is costing Ontarians jobs and lives?

Hon. Gerry Phillips: Actually, on the contrary, I would say to our business community, invest in Ontario. We have a long-term electricity plan that I guarantee you is reliable, affordable and done in the most environmentally sensitive way possible. Other jurisdictions aren't doing that. In my opinion, they don't have a sustainable electricity plan. I happen to think our plan is an economic tool for Ontario, and as I say, it's all spelled out in detail.

I would just remind the member and others that people often talk about electricity prices. In the last four years, our industrial price has actually gone up at a rate less than inflation. So you'll hear fictitious figures.

I would go back to our business community and say that this is the place to invest. We have a long-term plan that will provide reliable, affordable and environmentally sensitive electricity for the years ahead.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock for a moment. To the members, I recognize that it's much like the end of a school year and everybody's anxious to get out of here, but I would just caution the government side to have some respect as the opposition asks their questions and to keep the tone down.

New question.

C. DIFFICILE

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: My question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, the Hamilton Spectator reported that there were investigations into C. difficile deaths in countries such as Britain, Wales, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United States, Northern Ireland and, now we learn, Scotland. In fact, in the article, Scotland's health minister was quoted as saying that after about 16 C. difficile deaths, there is now "a compelling case" for an independent inquiry.

When all these countries have conducted independent investigations into C. difficile, why, after almost 300 deaths in just seven hospitals, will you not accept the fact that a severe problem existsâ€"people are dyingâ€"and why will you not undertake a broad, independent investigation to get to the bottom of it and prevent it in the future?

Hon. George Smitherman: It is a matter of the future which is first at hand in addressing this issue. We too have had investigations in the province of Ontarioâ€"a coroner's investigation into the affairs in Sault Ste. Marie, which in part led the coroner to say that no further investigation is required. What is required is to take advantage of the information that we have.

I feel very strongly that the approach we've outlined to Ontariansâ€"which sees Dr. Michael Baker emerging as the very strong voice as a patient safety lead on behalf of the government of Ontario, and full public reporting, which will be initiated very expediently on September 30â€"stands as the very best measure of protection for the people of Ontario, adding tremendous transparency to the circumstances related to patient safety matters in Ontario's hospitals not only related to C. difficile but on a wide variety of indicators. I'm quite certain this is the most appropriate way to move forward.

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: I say to the minister that the response is totally inadequate. I have a pile of letters and faxes here from individuals throughout the province who are calling for an investigation, ranging from a 20-year-old who suffered to someone who is much older.

I would say to the minister, you have been in complete denial about the seriousness of this outbreak. Are you afraid that someone is going to scrutinize your behaviour and lack of action over the past five years? You refer to what you've done. As you know, what you've done amounts to absolutely nothing. You've reviewed some hospital charts, you've sent out some fact sheets; you haven't taken an overall, comprehensive look at each hospital to determine what happened and why and how we can contain it.

Why will you not listen to the public and give the public answers today in order that further deaths can be prevented?

Hon. George Smitherman: It's a little bit disappointing that in an attempt on the honourable member's part to politicize this, she has to make a characterization that says to people, thousands of them all across health care, that they've done nothing. She says in her comment that the people in health care in Ontario have done nothing, that the Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee has done nothing. She says that 14 infection control networks and all the people who work in support of those have done nothing, that the 137 infection control practitioners allocated to hospitals, including two at Joe Brant, did nothing.

I don't think the honourable member's characterizations are appropriate. But more to the point, we have the opportunity to move forward in a way that uses transparency as a powerful tool to get the action that people require all across the broad platform of hospitals. September 30: broad public reporting of information on all hospitals.

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: It is absolutely shameful, as I speak to the Minister of Health, that he would try to deflect the responsibility to the health providers in this province. They are the only ones who have been on top of this issue. The hospital administrators, the nurses, the doctors and the cleaning staff have tried to do what they can without any help from this minister. This is the only individual who hasn't taken any action.

I say to you today that there are at least 300 deaths. In fact, I've said before that if you extrapolated, it could be 5,000. This is a complex, systemic issue. It needs to be looked at impartially and efficiently. You have an obligation to restore public confidence. I ask you one more time, will you establish an independent commission or, today, are we going to give the Ombudsman the responsibility to do what you refuse?

Hon. George Smitherman: We've given the responsibility to Dr. Michael Baker, an acknowledged expert in the matter at hand. We think it's important that on this important matter, the honourable member in her first question said that all that had been done in health care amounted to nothing. In her second question, she said, "Oh, no, it's just for political purposes that I want to be able to say that."

Instead, we think the prudent approach for Ontarians is to ask someone who is expert in the matter to be their voice on this and to lead Ontario forward with a broad degree of public reporting, with a level of transparency that will be extraordinarily powerful in its own right and which can be implemented very quickly. That is the path we choose. It's the path toward putting this information powerfully in the hands of Ontarians. This is a strong incentive to the right kind of performance, and this can happen very quickly. September 30 is the start date.

1100

POVERTY

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: My question is to the Minister of Children and Youth Services. Last night, more than 100 people on fixed incomes, social assistance and minimum wage crowded into the native centre for a true consultation on poverty. No one was kept out and no one was silenced. More than anything else, attendees demanded (1) a living wage, (2) a substantial raise in social assistance, and (3) more affordable housing. I ask, why won't this government listen and commit to a $10.25-an-hour minimum wage now, 7,000 new housing starts this year, and a concrete plan right now to raise the incomes of all ODSP and all OW recipients above the poverty line? Why won't this minister give the poor what they need?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: For the first time ever we have a government that is committed to addressing the issue of poverty in a comprehensive way with measures and with timelines. Yet, the party opposite continues to undermine this process every step of the way. This is not about politics. This is about getting to work to make sure that kids in this province have the opportunities they need to achieve their full potential. It's about working together with people from all walks of life, from all perspectives, to actually develop that comprehensive strategy that will create an educated, healthy workforce and society. This is not about you, this is not about me; it's about making life a little bit better for kids who are living in poverty, for all peopleâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you, Minister. Supplementary.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: The minister is very good at addressing the poor, but the poor don't need to be addressed; they need an address. More than 80 economists and dozens of antipoverty and labour groups have pleaded with the McGuinty government for a $10.25 minimum wage indexed to inflation now. I ask again, why won't this government raise the minimum wage immediately to above the poverty line? Why won't the minister give the poor what they need?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Over the weekend there was a very disturbing comment made by the leader of the third party. Howard Hampton in a party conference referred to those people participating in developing a poverty reduction strategy, people coming and attending and working hard together, as poverty pimps. So here's what I want to know: Whom is he talking about? Is he talking about the Kingston Coalition Against Poverty? Is he talking about the Anne LeSage's Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre? Is he talking about the CAW Community child care services? Is he talking about the Homeless Coalition of Windsor-Essex County? My question is this: Will Howard Hampton stand up and apologize?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock for a moment.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I can see why the minister opposite doesn't want to speakâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thanks. Start the clock. Final supplementary.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. All of the groups that the minister opposite mentioned are the same groups that are demanding a $10.25-an-hour minimum wage right now. They're the same groups that are demanding affordable housing rightâ€"

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock. I just ask the members on the government side once again to tone it down. We're on our second-last day, we've got a class of grade 5s here to whom we constantly preach about having respect in the classroom. We need to have that same respect in here for one another. Please continue.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, all of the groups that are working in the antipoverty context are firmly on the side of a $10.25 minimum wage now. They're all firmly on the side of affordable housing now. They're all firmly on the side of an increase in ODSP and OW now. So I ask this minister opposite again, will she do what the poor demand? Will she give the poor what they need instead of attacking our leader?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I want to ask the member opposite and the members opposite if they agree with their leader. Do you think Big Brothers and Big Sisters are poverty pimps? The Salvation Army, the Hamilton Social Justice Coalition, St. Joseph's Immigrant Women's Centre, the Ottawa Food Bank, the mission shelter, the YMCA and YWCA, the United Way, are these people poverty pimps? If not, would you stand up and distance yourself from your leader's comments?

NUCLEAR ENERGY

Mr. Peter Tabuns: A question to the Minister of Energy: Nuclear power project cost overruns account for $15 billion of the nearly $20 billion of the stranded debt left by Ontario Hydro. Each month, every household and business in Ontario contributes to paying off this massive debt through debt retirement charges on every single hydro bill. Why is this government so intent on repeating history and committing Ontario to an expensive, unreliable $50-billion nuclear future?

Hon. Gerry Phillips: Let me say what we're committed to, and that is, implementing the plan we've laid out. It's our 20-year plan. It provides for reliable, affordable and environmentally sensitive electric power, in detail. It calls for conservation measures that are very aggressive but attainable: 6,300 megawatts, and that's where we all should start. It calls for doubling the use of renewablesâ€"wind, solar. It does call for maintaining our nuclear capacity.

The people of Ontario understand that we've produced electricity this way since the late 1960s. Last year, 2007, 52% of our electricity came from nuclear. What we guarantee the people of the province is that we have a very clear plan, one that's reliable, affordable and environmentally sensitive and provides for the right plan for the future.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Minister, you make tremendous claims, but the reality is you've moved very slowly on renewable energy and efficiency. You have shut down renewable energy projects. You have not been moving on getting hydro power from Quebec or Manitoba at the speed we need.

You've been in power for five years. We aren't seeing the tougher efficiency standards for appliances, more aggressive building codes. Will you simply admit that your inaction is forcing you to repeat history and go to a repeat of Darlington, $2.5 billion to start with and over $14 billion at the end of the day? Will you admit that you've simply boxed this province into a corner?

Hon. Gerry Phillips: Again, we'll deal with the facts, and that is, we've laid our 20-year plan. I would say to the public that we have what we call a renewable energy standard offer program. We thought we would get, over 10 years, 1,000 megawatts. After 18 months, a year and a half, we got 1,500 megawatts. We're 50% above our 10-year target.

On conservation, I think we're very aggressive. In fact, the chief conservation officer has indicated we've exceeded our target for 2007 by a fair bit. Although I would say to all of us, all that is, in my opinion, is the first lap of a long-distance race on conservation.

I'd just say to the public, we have this 20-year plan laid out in detail for affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive electricity. Part of it is to maintain what we provide on nuclear. Again, I would say that 52% of our electricity last year came from nuclear. We plan to maintain essentially that capacityâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Final supplementary.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: The facts are that nuclear cost overruns have plagued every nuclear project in this province and have resulted in more than $15 billion in stranded debt. Your energy approach has not taken us down the path of affordable energy and good-paying jobs by creating clean, affordable power. Even recently, you closed down renewable energy projects that were coming forward in this province. Why are you going ahead full throttle with a $50-billion nuclear megaproject before your own energy plan is approved by the OEB?

1110

Hon. Gerry Phillips: Just again for the public's sake, in terms of the process we're following, we've learned some lessons from Darlington. We are going through a competitive process. We have three very good companies that are in the request-for-proposal stage: Areva, AECL and Westinghouse. So it will be a competitive process.

It was single-sourced, I might add. Last time, the project started, stopped, started, stopped. We've learned from that. This project we have on a very firm timetable, a very firm track, using the competitive process.

So I'd say to the public, we've got a plan spelled out in detail which will provide us with 20 years of affordable, reliable and environmentally sensitive electricity. I'm very happy with the plan, and as I said in one of the answers earlier, I think this provides us with a long-term competitive edge economically.

SCHOOL SAFETY

Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Minister of Education. Yesterday, the minister confirmed in this House that the proper protocol was in place when a principal failed to report an assault on a 6-year-old student in a York region school. She also confirmed that the reporting protocol was not followed. Then she said this: "What we need to do is make sure that we have the right enforcement mechanisms." The York Regional Police agree with the minister. When asked if charges were laid against the principal, Constable Marina Orlovski said this: "They were considered and dismissed. The required elements for the charges were not there ... based on the wording of the act." That's why we've been calling on the minister to change the wording of the act so that in fact charges can be laid.

I ask one more time of the minister: Will she agree to bring legislation forward that will enable charges to be laid for failure to report?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I appreciate the member opposite's vigilance on this. I think it's very important from the perspective of everyone in this House that we have the correct protocols and the correct legislation in place so that reporting mechanisms are appropriate. What we are doing is looking at the various pieces of legislation that have reporting mechanisms in place. We're looking to see whether there are gaps and whether there is a need to change the legislation.

As I have said to this member many times, the protocol was in place. It was breached. The actions of the board were taken in light of the action of the principal. What we are doing is looking at those pieces of legislation, and we will act to rectify any gaps that are in place.

Mr. Frank Klees: The Child and Family Services Act makes it an offence for school officials to fail to report incidents of child abuse at the hands of a parent. If convicted, the school officials face a fine of $1,000. I've pointed out on numerous occasions that there is no similar provision in this act or any other legislation in the province with respect to a school official being required to report student-on-student assault or abuse.

In light of this example, in light of what we have heard from the York Regional Police, that they are unable to lay charges, this is a simple matter. We don't need another investigation or a long committee. What we need is for the minister to simply acknowledge that she is on the side of parents, on the side of students, on the side of police, and that she will bring in an amendmentâ€"

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I am on the side of children. I am on the side of parents. I have said clearly that from a parent's perspective, it is inappropriate to me that a parent was not informed of this incident. I have been very clear about that. In fact, that is the nature of the breach of the protocol that happened in this case.

It will come as no surprise to anyone in this House that I, as the Minister of Education, am not going to endorse policy on the basis of the member opposite's recommendation without having considered all of the aspects that are in place in other pieces of legislation. It is my responsibility to be judicious, to look at the interaction between pieces of legislation and to take the advice of experts and legal advice. That is what my parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelphâ€"Wellington, is doing with the safe schools action team. I will be taking the advice of the safe schools action team in the fall.

ACCESS TO EDUCATION

Mr. Rosario Marchese: To the same minister: In 2006, 15-year-old Kimberly Lizano-Sossa and her 14-year-old brother Gerald were arrested by immigration officers while at school and subsequently deported. In Toronto alone, more than 20% of immigrant children are still being denied a role in public schools because of their immigration status. Children shouldn't be afraid to go to school, and schools shouldn't be pawns in immigration battles.

In 2005, you amended the Education Act, and you said that would never happen again. Why are you now unwilling to enforce the act and protect these children's right to an education?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: It is the position of this governmentâ€"and in fact we changed the legislation; we changed the Education Act to provide an education for every child who comes to the doorstep of a publicly funded school in this province. That is the legislation, and that is the position of this government. I know that there are and there may be situations where there are questions asked and where there's information attained. I'm not going to comment on a specific case. The position of this government is that if a child lives in Ontario and is in a position and wants to go to a publicly funded school, that child has a right to an education. That is our legislation.

Mr. Rosario Marchese: Some 20% of immigrant children are being denied access to a school. What is the point of having a law that you yourself introduced in this place in 2005 if you're not going to enforce it? You should be telling all boards in Ontario, in no uncertain terms, that all children must be accepted in school regardless of their status. Why aren't you adopting the Toronto District School Board's "don't ask, don't tell" policy to ensure that children can learn without fearing the fate of Kimberly and Gerald?

Minister, are you going to enforce your own law or continue to pretend the problem is not yours?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: In December 2004, we sent a policy memorandum to all school boards, and what we said was that all school boards must allow children to come to school, whatever their immigration status.

The fact is that there may be incidents and there may be situations where a student is denied access. That is not the policy of this government. Certainly, I will continue to make it clear to boards of education that the law must be enforced and children must be allowed to enter school.

MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING

Mrs. Linda Jeffrey: My question is to the Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal. In the 2008 budget, our government announced $1 billion in new funding for municipal infrastructure. This new funding is desperately needed in high-growth communities like Peel and various other municipalities across this province. Obviously, we welcome this timely investment, because we know that these projects will help build stronger communities, boost our productivity and help stimulate job growth in the province.

Minister, can you tell this House how these investments in our infrastructure will not only help our cities, but help improve our economic advantage?

Hon. David Caplan: I'd like to thank the member for the question, because it is a very important one. As a part of our 2008 budget, our government launched a massive municipal infrastructure investment initiative: some $450 million invested into communities, large and small, 243 of which are building, renovating and expanding local infrastructure, including roads, water, sewers, community centres and other public facilities.

Communities across the province were asked to submit construction-ready and high-priority local infrastructure projects. Our government wanted to see projects under way in the upcoming construction season so that the benefits can be delivered both in the short term for employment and in the long term for economic and social benefits such as health, safety and social services. I'm very pleased to report to the member that in fact these announcements are not just simply that, but we are seeing shovels in the ground, cranes in the air, and the work has begun.

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Mrs. Linda Jeffrey: I want to thank the minister for addressing the question and for helping explain how these targeted investments in our infrastructure will help alleviate the economic challenges we're all facing.

Minister, what sorts of projects do you anticipate receiving requests for, and how will you prioritize these requests so we can get the highest and best results from these investments?

Hon. David Caplan: Blueprints are quickly turning into shovels in the ground and what will be a new fire station and emergency medical services facility in the town of Halton Hills, and I'll be pleased to join my colleague Mr. Arnott from across the way in Georgetown later this afternoon. It's a $1.9-million MIII grant awarded to this municipality for the project that they identified as both construction-ready and high on the list of local infrastructure needs. I should tell you that this was only one project of many in Halton region, as Halton region received approximately $10 million for key infrastructure projects right throughout the province.

Our government has a clear commitment to helping our municipal partners overcome their infrastructure challenges. This partnership shows that we can achieve our collective goal of a strong, resilient economy, continued growth and a better quality of life in communities right across this province. It's the budgetary policies of this governmentâ€"

The Speaker: Thank you. New question.

PESTICIDES

Ms. Laurie Scott: I'd like to follow up on my question from the other day to the Minister of the Environment regarding Bill 64. There's been much doubt cast over the lack of scientific proof to support your banning of the use of cosmetic pesticides. First, we heard from the Premier that municipalities could go above and beyond your legislation, then we heard that this wasn't true. For months we all heard from you and the Premier that it's about public health, but we've heard from your own officials that this isn't the case. We've heard on a daily basis that municipalities, Health Canada and health experts are seriously questioning the legislation. Minister, you said the Premier is wrong; Health Canada is wrong; municipalities are wrong; farmers are wrong; small businesses are wrong. In light of many of the experts who have legitimate concerns, will you agree to province-wide hearings on the regulations of this bill?

Hon. John Gerretsen: Let me just start off by thanking the member for her question and telling her that she is wrong. We are going to pass the most progressive ban on the use of pesticides in Ontario that has ever been in any province in this country, and indeed in North America. We're doing something much better than banning the use of cosmetic pesticides; we're also going to ban the sale of the pesticides across this province. There is no ban more effective than banning the actual sale of pesticides.

We have been consistent right from the very beginning in our platform last October. We basically said we're going to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides in the province of Ontario, and secondly, we're also going to have a consistent, one-level playing field across this province. That's why we want to make sure that the ban that's going to go into effectâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you, Minister. Supplementary?

Ms. Laurie Scott: "Consistent" isn't the word that I would use. You don't even seem to be interested in accepting the advice of experts across Ontario. Your own Ontario pest advisory council is suggesting five years' implementation. You have ignored that expert advice. On top of all the others you say are wrong, you are now saying your own advisory council is wrong. Minister, it's clear you haven't thought this legislation through; you're literally making things up as you go along. Ontarians and children deserve real, meaningful action from the environment minister. Some 9,500 smog-related deaths are estimated to occur this year. Many of these are children.

Minister, can we chalk this so-called pesticide ban up as another McGuinty photo op and get on to talking about the real environmental issues facing the province?

Hon. John Gerretsen: The bill is about one thing and one thing only, and that is to help our citizens, particularly the youngest citizens, in our province. We're banning the use of cosmetic pesticides so that they will not be subjected to it on their lawns, their front yards, their backyards, their playgrounds, their gardens. That's who it's really all about. We want to make sure that they will be able to play out in the fields and out on their lawns in the best possible way. This has been endorsed by the Suzuki Foundation and by many other organizations as well. We are concerned about the health of our young people, and the banning of this particular pesticide use and sale across the province is going to take the effect of that. We certainly hope that we can count on the support of both opposition parties to make sure that we're united on this front and to make sure that the people of Ontario get the best possible protection as far as their health is concerned.

INJURED WORKERS

Mr. Paul Miller: My question is to the Minister of Labour. I have received many communications from Mr. Darrell Powell, official witness to the Senate Subcommittee on Population Health, and Mr. Peter Clare, who are in the west gallery this morning. Both are committed representatives of injured workers. Mr. Clare's recent e-mail to the minister asked for a meeting of the minister with the WSIB chair, Steve Mahoney, to discuss the Ministry of Labour's legislative framework of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, as well as the WSIB's interpretation and application of the WSI Act as it pertains to injured workers on accepted benefit claims. Has the minister discussed this communication and its contents with Mr. Mahoney?

Hon. Brad Duguid: No, to the best of my knowledge, I don't recall having a discussion with the chair of the WSIB on this particular communication, but I thank the advocates for injured workers for being here today and certainly look forward to the work they do in working with us to reduce workplace injuries across this province.

Working together with the WSIB, with our injured workers, we've been able to reduce workplace injuries by 20% over the last four years. That's 50,000 workers who would have suffered a workplace injury, and their families. I think we're making progress on this front, but the fact is that we still have more work to do. That's why we look forward to working with the members in the gallery and others in this area to improve even more.

Mr. Paul Miller: Once again, I don't think that was an answer to my question. The WSIB process that Ms. Mathers's brother, Jeff Thompson, experiencedâ€"Ms. Mathers is in the west galleryâ€"is believed to have been a factor in the stress, emotional and psychological problems that led to his death.

As Mr. Clare stated in his e-mail: "It is a well-known fact, the WSIB's administration of the WSI Act, 1997, may in a lot of instances cause disparity, mental/psychological and emotional problems as secondary conditions due to having to deal with the WSIB process. I feel if Mr. Mahoney were to hear from the grassroots level the problems we face as injured workers, perhaps he may change some of the WSIB's internal policies on how injured workers are treated by Mr. Mahoney's WSIB staff...."

Will this minister commit right now in this House to meet today with Mr. Clare, Mr. Powell and Ms. Mathers to strongly request that Mr. Mahoney attend this meetingâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Minister?

Hon. Brad Duguid: Again to Ms. Mathers, Mr. Clare and Mr. Powell I really express, on behalf the government, our sympathies for the difficulties they've gone through. It's always difficult for us to hear of some of the pain and suffering that injured workers experience.

That's why we've added 200 additional health and safety inspectors, to ensure that we're doing all we can to prevent workplace injuries, because the best way we can help injured workers is to prevent the injuries from happening in the first place. That's what we're determined to do.

I would be more than happy to meet with these particular individuals and others as we move forward to work together to make workplaces healthier and safer across this province.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, I was dismayed to hear that more of my constituents could become homeless if the federal government does not renew funding for a national housing initiative. I understand that potentially 24 social agencies stand to lose funding when the homelessness partnership initiative expires.

Minister, as you can imagine, my constituents in Ottawa Centre are very concerned about this situation, especially when the most recent census indicates that 12% of the city of Ottawa's population lives on incomes that put it at risk of becoming homeless. You only need to realize that without the federal dollars, agencies will have to reduce programming and will be unable to assist those in need. As usual, the federal government has allowed those most in need to fall by the wayside, and many of my constituents are asking what our government is doing to help that 12% of the population.

Is this issue a concern to the minister, and can he please inform the House what he and the provincial government are doing to put pressure on the federal government?

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Hon. Jim Watson: I think the honourable member from Ottawa Centre is a true advocate for housing needs in his city and his community in Ottawa. I too share the member's concern with respect to the lack of progress that provincial and territorial ministers across the country have made when it comes to getting the federal government engaged again in the affordable housing strategy.

In the last budget, for instance, the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association said, "When Minister Jim Flaherty stood to deliver the Conservative government's … 2008 budget today, he left 1.5 million Canadians in desperate housing need on the outside looking in."

It took provincial and territorial ministers two and a half years to get a meeting with the federal minister, and we have yet to secure an arrangement to ensure that RAP funding and homelessness initiative funding does not run out on March 31 next year. We need all members, regardless of political stripe, to help us convince the federal government that they should be back in the affordable housing business in partnership with us and municipalitiesâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: However, you and I both realize that providing supportive housing to those in need requires a partnership, one that includes a federal government that is ready, willing and able to respond to the needs of the constituents in Ottawa.

One of the more troubling situations is the rising need for supportive housing for those dealing with addictions. I'm sure the minister is aware that dealing with addiction is not a stand-alone issue. It requires a variety of financial, social and mental supports from all levels of government. It requires a comprehensive strategy that recognizes the complexity of the issue: that addiction is a heartbreaking disease and that tackling addictions is a community effort.

Minister, can you tell this House about our government's strategy to provide supportive housing for those tackling these difficult challenges in Ottawa?

Hon. Jim Watson: I was very pleased to be in Ottawa with Premier McGuinty just about a week and a half ago when he announced a $5.5-million investment to provide assistance to those trying to conquer drug and alcohol addictions.

I want to thank the Minister of Health, because through his ministry, in the supportive housing program, we are in fact going to be providing over the next three years 1,000 supportive housing units that are going to be made available. Through the Ministry of Health and working in conjunction with housing providers throughout the province of Ontario, we've recognized that it's fine to build affordable housing, but those individuals that the member from Ottawa Centre spoke of who have addictions and challenges in their own lives need more than housing; they need a supportive environment. Through Minister Smitherman and through this member, we're delivering a drug rehab centre for young people in the city of Ottawa. We're very proud of that initiative and I know that the Minister of Health is planning onâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you very much.

GASOLINE PRICES

Mr. Tim Hudak: A question for the minister responsible for consumers: Working families in Ontario are contemplating gas prices forecast to be $1.40 per litre or more this summer. This past week, as you know, mortgage rates have increased, prices for basic foods like pasta are up 26%, and bread is up 10% or more since last year. And that's all on top of Dalton McGuinty's higher taxes, new user fees and higher hydro rates. Minister, what exactly is your plan to give a break to Ontario consumers this summer?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: To the Minister of Energy.

Hon. Gerry Phillips: I'd like to comment on the last point the member made, and that is, electricity prices. I mentioned earlier in the House our 20-year plan for affordable, reliable and environmentally sensitive electricity. Just over the last four years, for the industrial sector, electricity prices have gone up a little less than inflation, and for residential people, just slightly more than inflation. So we've been doing what we can for the consumer on electricity prices.

On gasoline prices, I would say to him that the primary responsibility for dealing with the gasoline companies rests clearly with the federal government. It is the Competition Bureau. So if there's any issue around gasoline companies overcharging, it really would be the Competition Bureauâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you, Minister. Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: Obviously, the minister for consumer interests is doing nothing to give a break to Ontario consumers this summer and keeps passing it to the minister responsible for oil companies and hydro rate increases.

You know, Minister, while Dalton McGuinty and his entourage jet off to San Diego or use the government King Air plane to do a short hop from Toronto to Hamilton, Ontario families are paying more to put gas in their automobiles, to fill up their grocery carts or to power their homes. They are making significant sacrifices in this summer of increasing costs.

John Tory and the Ontario PC caucus have put forward a solid and thoughtful plan to eliminate the provincial sales taxes on accommodations and attractions so working families can have some quality time together this summer. Minister, will you support our plan to help Ontario families who are getting squeezed in Dalton McGuinty's Ontario?

Hon. Gerry Phillips: I go back to the point I made earlier in terms of Ontario families. We are working as hard as we possibly can to build the economy. I think the public is very wise. They understand that what we're dealing with here is that the price of oil has gone from about $30 in 2003 to $130 now. The US economy has gone soft. The Canadian dollar now is essentially at parity. In spite of these challenges, we are working as hard as we can on the economy. The unemployment rate is now, frankly, lower than when we assumed office because of the work that we've done with our private sector to create jobs. Our Premier is working very hard to attract industry to come to the province of Ontario.

I would just say, it's not been very helpful, frankly, for the federal minister to downplay Ontario. We would have beenâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.

DEVELOPMENT IN NIAGARA

Mr. Peter Kormos: A question to the Minister of Tourism. Why is the McGuinty government facilitating and accommodating the commercialization and privatization of the pristine parkland of the Niagara Parks along the Niagara River?

Hon. George Smitherman: I know that the honourable member will look forward to having an opportunity to speak directly to the Minister of Tourism about that. We have been in a position to strongly support the principle that Niagara is a region that obviously has tremendous economic capacity from the standpoint of tourism already, and accordingly, we think that it's very important to continue to work.

I will note to the honourable member that there has been a historic opportunity in this Legislature to demonstrate one's commitment to the greening of the province of Ontario, and not all members have participated equally in that. If the honourable member wishes to provide more specific information, we'll take a stab at a more specific answer.

Mr. Peter Kormos: Will the government then explain why it is permitting the Niagara Parks Commission to lease out the Miller's Creek Marina to a private operator, along with 45 acres of Niagara parkland to a developer for the goal of building condominiums and commercial shopping space? How is that consistent with the terms of reference of the Niagara Parks Commission?

Hon. George Smitherman: I do want to say to the honourable member that he first mentions a marina. I take that to be an existing operation and associated, presumably, with the operation of agencies is the responsibility to do all that is possible to generate revenue from available sources.

But as I mentioned in my earlier answer, there was an opportunity in this Legislature that all members had to demonstrate their strenuous commitment to the preservation of green space. We've created a greenbelt in the province of Ontario of 1.8 million square kilometres; very impressive, I think, insofar as that area was bigger than Prince Edward Island itself. On that very matter, not all members of the Legislature took the opportunity to demonstrate when it really mattered, when it really counted, as a matter of legislation, their strenuous desire to see green land protected. But it's nice to see the honourable member coming around.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

Mrs. Maria Van Bommel: My question is for the Minister of Labour. All around Ontario, farmers are hard at work in the fields at this time of year to put food on their tables and ours. As we know, the agricultural sector plays a very important role in the economy of this province, but we also know that working on a farm can be very dangerous, especially around large animals and even larger farm equipment. I'm proud to say that many of my constituents in Lambtonâ€"Kentâ€"Middlesex are farmers. Most of them hire full-time or seasonal workers as they go through their agricultural year. They are acutely aware of the hazards that face them and their workers each and every day. Minister, can you tell us and our farmers what your ministry is doing to improve the health and safety of this important group of domestic farm labour?

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Hon. Brad Duguid: I want to begin by responding to the member for Lambtonâ€"Kentâ€"Middlesex by just acknowledging the incredible work this particular member has done in representing the agricultural community.

I'm going to begin on a bit of a sombre note. Our ministry lost a very valuable member of our team over the weekend, and it's the member of our team who probably wrote the very information that I have in front of me here today. Her name was Wilma Davis, and she was our briefing and issues coordinator in the Ministry of Labour. On behalf of our Ministry of Labour team and the entire Legislature, I just want to take this opportunity to express our condolences to her family.

The end of this monthâ€"June 28â€"marks the third year since our government extended the Occupational Health and Safety Act to farming operations. This regulation provides our agricultural community and workers within itâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mrs. Maria Van Bommel: Thank you, Minister, and I know we all share in our sympathies for the family.

Residential farm workers are not the only ones, though, who work in the fields every day. Every year, more than 15,000 immigrant workers come to work on Ontario farms under the federal government's seasonal agricultural worker program. Many of those 15,000 come into Lambtonâ€"Kentâ€"Middlesex to work on our tobacco, fruit and vegetable farms. Would the minister tell this House whether immigrant workers also have the same rights and protections that our domestic farm workers have?

Hon. Brad Duguid: Yes, absolutely, I can assure the member of the fact that foreign workers are treated the same way as all agricultural workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. When we extended the Occupational Health And Safety Act to farming operations, we gave agricultural workers the right to know about workplace hazards, the right to participate in workplace health and safety decisions and the right to refuse unsafe work. The results have been a reduction in workplace injuries and fatalities in the farming sector.

That being said, there are still workplace fatalities. There are still workplace injuries in the farming sector. I look forward as Minister of Labour, working with the Minister of Agriculture and the member opposite, who, as I said before, is an expert in agricultural issues, and working with our agricultural community to further reduce workplace injuries. It's something that's in all of our interests.

ONTARIO ECONOMY

Mr. Gerry Martiniuk: My question is to the Minister of Revenue. Given the almost daily announcements of plant closures, job losses, rising gas and food prices, we understand that the government's projected revenues are already down by $1 billion for this fiscal year. Minister, can you confirm how much current government revenues are down from your projections?

Hon. Monique M. Smith: This is a question for the Minister of Finance.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The member would know that Q1 results will be published towards the beginning of July. At that time, we'll have a sense. What we can say is that because of this government's initiatives, Ontario is responding to the challenges in our economy better than most economists predicted. The word they use is the resilience of our economy. If we didn't have a federal Conservative finance minister saying not to invest in Ontario and if we didn't have a federal government that continued to take advantage of the unemployed in your community, we wouldn't have all the challenges.

This government is responding with a prudent, balancedâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Gerry Martiniuk: To paraphrase an old Buffalo TV question: Do you know where our billions are? It's surprising that the minister doesn't have the answer to this very simple question.

In order to balance the budget, the government has said it would find $1 billion in inefficiencies. We understand that the revenues are already down by $1 billion. The Premier has said he won't raise taxes but he won't cut services either. That means only one thing: a deficit, stealing from our children.

Minister, I ask you again, are the current government revenues down, and if so, by how much?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: As I say, the Q1 numbers, which we are not in possession of, will be available toward the beginning of July. But we do know where the money is. It's invested in skills training, which you voted against. It's invested in infrastructure, which is helping communities right across the province with short-term employment challenges and long-term productivity gains. You voted against that. It's invested in our health care system, and you and your colleagues want to take $3 billion out of health care. That is where the money is.

Is the economy challenged? Absolutely. Do we need a federal partner? Absolutely. Do we need a federal finance minister who doesn't slam Ontario as a bad place to live? Absolutely. Do we need your help? Do our employers and working people need the support of the opposition to invest in Ontario? Absolutely.

I'm glad to see you here today. I'm glad you got a question. Joinâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you very much, Minister.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

Mr. Gilles Bisson: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. We all know that the environmental assessment rules are going to be changing later this month. My question is simply this: What does this change mean for the proposed Blue22 high-speed train line between downtown Toronto and Pearson airport?

Hon. John Gerretsen: As the member has rightly pointed out, the environmental assessment rules with respect to rapid transit are going to change. We're basically going to have a regulation that says that environmental assessments with respect to transit should be finished in six months. The reason for that is that we want to get on with the 52 projects and the $17.2 billion that we're investing on behalf of the people of Ontario to make sure that there's more transit available. More and better transit for the people of Ontario, particularly in the Golden Horseshoe area, is going to mean a better environment for everyone.

We look forward to this member's and his party's full support for transit projects that will be environmentally sensitive and that will be good for the environment and good for the people of Ontario.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Minister, you know that tens of thousands of people who live along the Georgetown rail corridor, from downtown Toronto to north Etobicoke, are concerned about how these new environmental assessment rules will affect them. They have patiently waited for the environment minister to decide on the terms of reference for an environmental assessment for the high-speed train that would follow those old rules. Why have those terms of reference languished on the minister's desk for more than a year?

Hon. John Gerretsen: Currently under the environmental assessment, there are terms of reference that are subject to it, there's the overall plan that's subject to it and then the individual projects are subject to it. The environmental assessment process with respect to transit is simply taking too long. We want to make sure that the public is engaged. We want to make sure that the public will have full input in the environmental assessment process, but we also want the process to come to an end somewhere along the line so that we can build those transit projects which will be good for the environment and good for the people of Ontario.

COMMITTEE SITTINGS

Hon. Michael Bryant: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I believe we have agreementâ€"I'm seeking consent to put forward a motion concerning the Standing Committee on Estimates.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? Agreed.

Hon. Michael Bryant: I move that, notwithstanding the order of the House dated May 1, 2008, respecting the meeting times of committees, the Standing Committee on Estimates be authorized to meet today commencing at 3 p.m.

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

Agreed to.

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VISITORS

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I know it's not a point of order, but the guests that you recognized on my behalf earlierâ€"I want to recognize the icon of the Indian film industry, Dev Anand, and our Consul General, Satish Mehta.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you, and the minister does know that that was not a point of order.

PETITIONS

POPE JOHN PAUL II

Mr. Jim Wilson: I want to thank the good people of the congregation of St. James church in Colgan for sending this petition to me.

"Whereas the legacy of Pope John Paul II reflects his lifelong commitment to international understanding, peace and the defence of equality and human rights;

"Whereas his legacy has an all-embracing meaning that is particularly relevant to Canada's multi-faith and multicultural traditions;

"Whereas, as one of the great spiritual leaders of contemporary times, Pope John Paul II visited Ontario during his pontificate of more than 25 years and, on his visits, was enthusiastically greeted by Ontario's diverse religious and cultural communities;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to grant speedy passage into law of the private member's bill An Act to proclaim Pope John Paul II Day."

I agree with this petition and I sign it.

HOME CARE

Mme France Gélinas: I have a petition from SEIU and people from all over Ontario:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario government has continued the practice of competitive bidding for home care services; and

"Whereas the competitive bidding process has increased the privatization of Ontario's health care delivery, in direct violation of the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act, 2004; and

"Whereas competitive bidding for home care services has decreased both the continuity and quality of care available to home care clients; and

"Whereas home care workers do not enjoy the same employment rights, such as successor rights, as all other Ontario workers have, which deprives them of termination rights, seniority rights and the right to move with their work when their employer agency loses a contract; ...."

They ask the assembly:

"(1) to immediately stop the competitive bidding for home care services so home care clients can receive the continuity and quality of care they deserve; and

"(2) to extend successor rights under the Labour Relations Act to home care workers to ensure the home care sector is able to retain a workforce that is responsive to clients' needs."

I fully support this petition, and will affix my name to it and send it with page Gregory.

COMMUNITY SAFETY

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas residents and community leaders in Ottawa want the government of Ontario to pass the safer communities and neighbourhoods act (SCAN) in order to rehabilitate problem properties that are used for criminal activity. Similar legislation is enacted in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Yukon and recently passed in Newfoundland and Labrador; and

"Whereas the following community leaders have endorsed SCAN legislation: Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi, city of Ottawa, the chief of the Ottawa police, Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa Police Services Board, Ottawa Neighbourhood Watch executive committee, Concerned Citizens for Safer Neighbourhoods, Eastern Ontario Landlord Organization, Friends and Tenants of Ottawa Community Housing, Hintonburg Community Association, Somerset Street Chinatown BIA and the Dalhousie Community Association;

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

"To pass the safer communities and neighbourhoods act, similar to the one enacted in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Yukon, in order to rehabilitate problem properties in our neighbourhoods that are used for criminal activity."

I fully agree with this petition, affix my signature and send it by way of page Doaa.

HOSPITAL SERVICES

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the government-appointed supervisor of the Huronia District Hospital ... has recommended a merger of HDH with the Penetanguishene General Hospital.... ; and

"Whereas the supervisor recommended changes to the governance of the hospital to eliminate community memberships and the democratic selection and governance of the hospital board and directors based on an ideology and not on the wishes of the community;

"Whereas the supervisor has also recommended the splitting up and divestment of the mental health centre in Penetanguishene, creating uncertainty in the future of mental health beds and services; and

"Whereas hospital mergers and restructuring under the local health integration network can result in a loss in the total number of hospital beds and services provided to a community,

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

"We call on the government of Ontario to:

"Protect the current level of beds and services at all sites in Midland and Penetanguishene; and

"Protect the community memberships and the democratic governance of the new hospital created by the merger of HDH and PGH."

I'm pleased to sign this and give it to Charles to present to the table.

ONTARIO SOCIETY FOR
THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY
TO ANIMALS

Mr. Mike Colle: I have a petition here from the Lawrence Veterinary Clinic and Janice Jones from Lindsay, Ontario, on animal protection.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has not been updated since 1919; and

"Whereas Bill 50 would require all veterinarians to report suspected abuse and neglect, protecting veterinarians from liability; and

"Whereas Bill 50 would allow the OSPCA to inspect roadside zoos;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to pass Bill 50, entitled the Provincial Animal Welfare Act, 2008, to protect our animal friends."

I support this petition and I give it to page Christopher G.

LORD'S PRAYER

Mr. Robert Bailey: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the current Liberal government is proposing to eliminate the Lord's Prayer from its place at the beginning of daily proceedings in the Legislature....

"Therefore we, the undersigned, ask the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to preserve the daily recitation of the Lord's Prayer by the Speaker in the Legislature."

I affix my signature to that as well.

HOSPITAL FUNDING

Mr. Joe Dickson: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Central East Local Health Integration Network ... board of directors has approved the Rouge Valley Health System's deficit elimination plan....

"Whereas, despite the significant expansion of the Ajax-Pickering hospital, the largest in its 53-year history....

"Whereas one of the factors for the successful treatment of patients in the mental health unit is support from family and friends, and the distance to Centenary Health Centre would negatively impact on the quality care for residents of Ajax and Pickering; and

"Whereas it is also imperative for Rouge Valley Health System to balance its budget, eliminate its deficit and debt and realize the benefits of additional Ontario government funding;

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

"That the Rouge Valley Health System continue to provide the current level of service to our Ajax-Pickering hospital, which now serves the fastest-growing communities of west Durham; and

"That the Ajax-Pickering hospital retain the badly needed 20-bed mental health unit."

I affix my signature and pass this to Ellen.

LORD'S PRAYER

Mr. Bill Murdoch: I have petitions, as you can see, from all over my ridingâ€"they've been here for quite some timeâ€"on the Lord's Prayer. From the surprise motion that was given to us last Thursday that was passed and I would have agreed with, I feel that these people have the right to have their petition read in the House. It's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the current Liberal government" was "proposing to eliminate the Lord's Prayer from daily proceedings in the Ontario Legislature....

"Therefore we, the undersigned, ask the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to preserve the daily recitation of the Lord's Prayer by the Speaker in the Legislature."

I appreciate what you're doing. I've also signed these.

WYE MARSH WILDLIFE CENTRE

Mr. Bob Delaney: It's a pleasure to support my colleague in Simcoe North with this petition for the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre. It reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, located in the township of Tay, manages approximately 3,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land which is owned by the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas over 50,000 people visit the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre each year; and

"Whereas over 20,000 students from across Ontario visit the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre each year, receiving curriculum-based environmental education not available in schools; and

"Whereas the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre receives no stable funding from any level of government;

"We, the undersigned, petition the province of Ontario to establish a reasonable and stable long-term funding formula so that the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre can continue to operate and exist into the future."

It's a pleasure to sign this petition and to ask page Aaron to carry it for me.

HIGHWAY 35

Ms. Laurie Scott: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas modern highways are economic lifelines to communities across Ontario and crucial to the growth of Ontario's economy; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation has been planning the expansion of Highway 35; and

"Whereas Highway 35 provides an important economic link in the overall transportation system, carrying commuter, commercial and high tourist volumes to and from the Kawartha Lakes area and Haliburton;

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

"That the Liberal government move swiftly to complete the four-laning of Highway 35 after the completion of the final public consultation."

It's signed by many people from my riding, and I'm handing it over to page Rachelle.

ONTARIO SOCIETY FOR
THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY
TO ANIMALS

Mr. Charles Sousa: This is a petition to support Bill 50, the Provincial Animal Welfare Act. The petition reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has not been updated since 1919; and

"Whereas Bill 50 would require all veterinarians to report suspected abuse and neglect, protecting veterinarians from liability; and

"Whereas it would allow the OSPCA to inspect and investigate places where animals are kept; and

"Whereas the bill would prohibit the training of animals to fight; and

"Whereas Bill 50 would allow the OSPCA to inspect roadside zoos;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to pass Bill 50, entitled the Provincial Animal Welfare Act, 2008, to protect our animal friends."

I have signed the petition, and I provide it to Murray.

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HOSPITAL FUNDING

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: "Petition to the Ontario Legislative Assembly:

"Western Mississauga ambulatory surgery centre:

"Whereas wait times for access to surgical procedures in the western GTA area served by the Mississauga Halton LHIN are growing despite the vigorous capital project activity at the hospitals within the Mississauga Halton LHIN boundaries; and

"Whereas 'day surgery' procedures could be performed in an off-site facility, thus greatly increasing the ability of surgeons to perform more procedures, alleviating wait times for patients, and freeing up operating theatre space in hospitals for more complex procedures that may require post-operative intensive care unit support and a longer length of stay in hospital;

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

"That the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care allocate funds in its 2008-09 capital budget to begin planning and construction of an ambulatory surgery centre located in western Mississauga to serve the Mississauga-Halton area and enable greater access to 'day surgery' procedures that comprise about four fifths of all surgical procedures performed."

I'm pleased to sign that and give it to Christopher to present to the House.

GRAFFITI

Ms. Laurel C. Broten: "To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas graffiti creates a nuisance that can adversely affect property values, business opportunities and the enjoyment of community life;

"Whereas graffiti promotes a sense of disrespect for private property, and a perception that laws protecting public and private property can be disregarded with impunity;

"Whereas it is important that everyone do their part in keeping both public and private properties free of graffiti in order to maintain community pride and confidence;

"Whereas the quick removal of graffiti from walls, fences and other structures is critical to maintaining community cleanliness and beauty; it is always true that the prevention is the best policy;

"Accordingly we, the undersigned, petition the Legislature:

"To impose certain conditions on the sale of spray paint, broad-tipped marker pens, paint pens, glass-cutting tools and glass-etching tools or instruments of graffiti and to make it be unlawful for any person, other than a parent, legal guardian, school teacher or law enforcement officer in the performance of duty, to sell, exchange, give, deliver, loan, or otherwise furnish or permit to be sold, exchanged, given, delivered or loaned any prohibited graffiti material to any minor unless the minor is accompanied by their parent or legal guardian."

I agree with this petition. I'll be adding my name to it.

HOSPITAL FUNDING

Mr. Bill Murdoch: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Grey Bruce Health Services, Markdale hospital is the only health care facility between Owen Sound and Orangeville on the Highway 10 corridor;

"Whereas the community of Markdale has been promised a new state-of-the-art hospital in Markdale;

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

"That the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announce as soon as possible its intended construction date for the new Markdale hospital and ensure that the care needs of the patients and families of our community are met in a timely manner."

I've also signed it.

POWER PLANT

Mrs. Julia Munro: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas in our understanding the Ontario Power Authority, under a directive from the Honourable Gerry Phillips, Minister of Energy, is planning to select a private developer to build and subsequently own an expensive, fossil-fuel-burning, large-scale power plant in Yorkâ€"Simcoe to address speculative future demand;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully ask the McGuinty government to be on the right side of history by rescinding this outdated and outmoded decision by placing the economic, environmental and health concerns of Ontarians first, rather than the corporate interests of a known polluting industry;

"Furthermore, we request that contemporary alternatives be sought and a renewed emphasis on energy conservation be launched."

WYE MARSH WILDLIFE CENTRE

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: This is another group of about 1,000 signatures on the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, located in the township of Tay, manages approximately 3,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land which is owned by the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas over 50,000 people visit the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre each year; and

"Whereas over 20,000 students from across Ontario visit the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre each year, receiving curriculum-based environmental education not available in schools; and

"Whereas the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre receives no stable funding from any level of government;

"We, the undersigned, petition the province of Ontario to establish a reasonable and stable long-term funding formula so that the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre can continue to operate and exist into the future."

I'm pleased to sign that and give it to my good friend Murray Fallis, who has been a great page here, to present to the table.

HOSPITAL FUNDING

Mr. Bob Delaney: I have a petition to the Ontario Legislative Assembly. It's signed by a number of people, generally in the Erin Mills area of Mississauga. It reads as follows:

"Whereas wait times for access to surgical procedures in the western GTA area served by the Mississauga Halton LHIN are growing despite the vigorous capital project activity at the hospitals within the Mississauga Halton LHIN boundaries; and

"Whereas 'day surgery' procedures could be performed in an off-site facility, thus greatly increasing the ability of surgeons to perform more procedures, alleviating wait times for patients, and freeing up operating theatre space in hospitals for more complex procedures that may require post-operative intensive care unit support and a longer length of stay in hospital;

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

"That the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care allocate funds in its 2008-09 capital budget to begin planning and construction of an ambulatory surgery centre located in western Mississauga to serve the Mississauga-Halton area and enable greater access to 'day surgery' procedures that comprise about four fifths of all surgical procedures performed."

I'm pleased to sign and to support this petition and to ask page Christopher to carry it for me.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. The time for petitions has ended. This House stands recessed until 3 p.m. this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1206 to 1500.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

BARB COWIESON

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I understand that under the rules, as leader of the official opposition I'm unable to participate in members' statements, but I understand we have unanimous consent for me to participate today?

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: Thank you very much, Speaker.

When I arrived at the Legislature way back in 1981, I met a lady who had already been at Queen's Park for seven years, not as an MPP but as a member of the PC caucus administration team. That lovely lady, Barbara Cowieson, is still here. In fact, she's sitting in the members' gallery today.

Barb is currently serving as director of PC servicesâ€"she's been in that role since 1995â€"but has regrettably decided to move on and explore new challenges. In an amazing 34 years at the parkâ€"even more than Norm Sterlingâ€"Barb has seen a lot of changes, from manual typewriters to high-speed Internet, all three parties serving in government and a parade of passing faces in the Legislature.

Barb was born in Cape Bretonâ€"I won't mention the yearâ€"and moved to Toronto at the tender age of 18. She's led a very interesting life since becoming an Ontarian. I'll just touch on a few aspects.

Barb's a biker. She owns her own chopper, and no, she doesn't belong to any gangs. She and her husband, Bob, are avid sailors. They sail out of Kingston, John. When they bought their boat, a 30-footer, Bob thought he could be the captain, but he quickly found out that Barb was the admiral. Barb's owned and managed rental properties, including a 15-unit apartment building. She's even helped to gut and rebuild several propertiesâ€"and on and on.

Barb has had a busy, exciting and rewarding life, but at the end of the day her first priority has always been her family, her two sons, Scott and Ryan, and hubby, Bob.

Barb, we're going to miss you around this place. You've made an enormous contribution to your party and your province. I know I speak on behalf of all members and staff of the three parties represented in this place. Best of luck, thank you and God speed.

CHINESE CANADIAN HEAD TAX REDRESS DAY

Mr. Peter Tabuns: This coming Sunday, the Chinese community will be marking Head Tax Redress Day. In 2006, I filed a resolution in this chamber to have Ontario recognize June 22 as Chinese Canadian Head Tax Redress Day in Ontario. It was passed with all-party support on October 4, 2006.

We were honoured by the presence of the Chinese community in the chamber. The Chinese Canadian community has played a pivotal role in making Ontario a more prosperous and just society.

The tireless effort of the community at large, and the formal head tax redress campaign, which turns 24 years old this year, to ensure a formal apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act and redress for the head tax has helped turn the page from a dark chapter in Canada's history.

Head tax survivors, their descendants, activists from the Chinese Canadian National Council and the Ontario Coalition of Head Tax Payers and Families have pursued resolution to an injustice. June 22 also provides the opportunity to express the tremendous debt we feel towards the Chinese Canadian community for its contribution in building Ontario's prosperity.

Thanks to all those who have and continue to fight for justice and fairness.

PEEL'S ABORIGINAL CELEBRATION

Mr. Kuldip Kular: On June 7, I was honoured to attend Peel region's first annual celebration of aboriginal culture and heritage on behalf of my colleagues. A Gathering: Peel's Aboriginal Celebration was sponsored by Region of Peel Children's Services and hosted at Sheridan College's Davis campus. This provincially funded event was a great success, attracting an audience of some 800 visitors and guests and almost 50 performing groups and vendors.

The theme of this year's celebration, "Seven Grandfather Teachings," was imparted through First Nations' drumming and dancing, Metis fiddlers, Inuit throat singers, storytellers and the traditional teachings of elders. The celebration succeeded in entertaining a diverse audience and, importantly, in raising the awareness of Peel residents, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, about the rich culture and heritage of Canada's first people and the challenges they face.

The aboriginal community in Peel region has experienced immense growth in recent years. Strong growth presents new challenges. Many aboriginal families experience gaps in child services and programs that leave them disadvantaged when it comes to education. This government's Best Start program is crucial to improving their chances for a stronger education because it helps to close these gaps in services and programs for children at a critical age in their development.

Peel's Aboriginal Celebration deserves recognition for its value in educating the public and offering the opportunity for outreach and engagement with the aboriginal community. I congratulate the organizers on their great success and look forward to attending next year's celebration.

BRUCEâ€"GREYâ€"OWEN SOUND
AWARD WINNERS

Mr. Bill Murdoch: Today I want to acknowledge the accomplishments of people from my riding of Bruceâ€"Greyâ€"Owen Sound on the national and provincial stage.

On Tuesday, June 9, I had the privilege of meeting with three students who competed at the Canada Wide Science Fair in Ottawa. Megan Schlorff of Hanover won two gold medals and also received the Actuarial Foundation of Canada Award for her project entitled Let the River Flow, where she investigated the Saugeen River watershed. Jenna Schlorff of Hanover won two silver medals and three other awards for her project Think Fast. Jen investigated the difference in reaction time and stopping distances of drivers following LED-brake-light-equipped vehicles versus standard incandescent brake tail lights. Laurissa Christie of Owen Sound won the bronze for her project, What's the Buzz?, which investigated the recent problem of honey bee colony collapse in North America. Josie Mielhausen of Lion's Head earned an honourable mention, while Vaibhavi Solanki of Hanover tested her first-ever science project at the Canada Wide Science Fair.

I would also like to acknowledge a local brewery, Neustadt Springs Brewery, whose Neustadt Scottish Pale Ale was named the Speaker's selection winner at the first-ever Speaker's craft beer tasting competition held here at Queen's Park on June 3. This deep, golden, full-flavoured beer, brewed in traditional Scottish style, beat out 46 other Ontario beers and will now be available at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

ONTARIO WINE WEEK

Mr. Bruce Crozier: Today I rise to remind everyone that the third week in June is Ontario Wine Week. It's the week that was set aside by my private member's bill, passed some three years ago, in which we celebrate the success and the taste of Ontario wines.

We have four great wine regions in the province of Ontario, being Prince Edward county, of course the Niagara Peninsula, Pelee Island and Lake Erie North Shore. From those four areas, we have wines that are getting better and better every year.

Today is when the Ontario Wine Awards will be announced by the Wine Council of Ontario, so we look forward to singling out some of those special wines that are worthy of that award.

What I want to encourage you to doâ€"and I know, Speaker, that you're a great supporter of thisâ€"is to, beyond just this week, in the rest of the summer and the rest of the year, keep in mind the great wines that are produced in Ontario. This summer, take a little time: Tour Prince Edward county, tour the Niagara Peninsula, and come on down into the Essex area and tour the Lake Erie North Shore and maybe go to Pelee Island. Enjoy some great Ontario wines this summer.

SCI-TECH ONTARIO

Mr. Robert Bailey: It was my pleasure to have two students from my riding of Sarniaâ€"Lambton here last week as part of the Sci-Tech Ontario presentation. Christopher Chopcian from Hanna Memorial elementary school and Llew Falla from Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School were both here to demonstrate their award-winning submissions.

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Christopher's project was entitled Control Innovations for Quadriplegics, and it was a mobile human-machine interface that is designed to enable people with spinal injuries to control different appliances just with a nod of their head. For this invention, Christopher won two gold medals, something that is very rare at the national science fair.

Llew's project was called CH4 Optimization of Biowaste via Microbial Fuel Cell Control. This was a green energy project in which he designed a microbial fuel cell that shows it is possible to simultaneously generate methane gas and electricity. This would show great promise in creating both a carbon-neutral and a renewable energy system. He will be attending an international science fair with his project.

I would like to congratulate both Christopher and Llew. Their parents, friends and teachers should be very proud of them.

POLO FOR HEART

Ms. Helena Jaczek: This weekend I will be attending Polo for Heart, Canada's largest and most prestigious international charity polo tournament, in my riding of Oak Ridgesâ€"Markham. Taking place at the Gormley Polo Centre, it will feature various fun events, including the pony parade, and will be highlighted by polo matches between the Toronto Polo Club and visiting teams from around the world.

Polo for Heart originated in the 1970s when Colonel Michael Sifton of the Toronto Polo Club partnered with the heart action committee to present a polo series for charity. The charitable tournament raised $25,000 in 1979 and has since raised over $3.5 million for heart disease and stroke research.

The beneficiaries of this exciting three-day event are the Southlake Regional Health Centre's regional cardiac care program and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario's Chase McEachern tribute fund. The Chase McEachern fund raises funds to provide automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, to the public, situated in public places and buildings across Ontario.

In addition, I wish to thank this year's chairperson, Gabrielle Spanton, and her dynamic team, who have worked tirelessly to put the event together. It is expected Polo for Heart will raise an estimated $250,000 in proceeds this year. I have attended this event several times in the pastâ€"it is wonderfully colourful and exciting, and we're praying for good weather. Best wishes to Polo for Heart this weekend.

EVENTS IN MISSISSAUGA SOUTH

Mr. Charles Sousa: I rise today to talk about some great events happening on the waterfront this summer in my riding of Mississauga South.

This past weekend, many local volunteers helped to host the annual Mississauga Waterfront Festival. The festival has become a highly anticipated tradition in our community, offering three days of headline musicians and bands. The many events are welcomed by children, parents and local businesses alike.

It is worthy to note the generosity of the organizers, volunteers and sponsors who provide outstanding charity during the festival. This year, through their Sponsor a Child program, approximately 4,000 kids and parents received free admission, food vouchers and tickets for carnival rides.

I would like to extend my thanks and congratulations to the chair of the waterfront festival, Pat Anderson, and all the volunteers who make the festival a resounding success year after year, rain or shine.

There is plenty to look forward to on Mississauga's waterfront this summer. On Canada Day, I invite everyone to participate in our Paint the Town Red celebrations. Great home-grown local bands and school groups will be performing, and of course there will be plenty of fireworks.

We also look forward to the annual Buskerfest in mid-August, where 20 buskers will perform their unique talents in this street festival. Then, in early September, the waterfront will host the Southside Shuffle Blues and Jazz Festival.

The waterfront in Mississauga is a real gem, and it's great events like these that truly make it a destination spot. I encourage all Ontarians to consider making a trip to Mississauga's waterfront village festivals this summer.

WESTFEST 2008

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: I'm pleased to rise in the House today and tell members about Westfest 2008, a five-day festival that recently took place in my riding of Ottawa Centre.

Between June 11 and 15, Richmond Road in my riding was closed to celebrate Westfest 2008, the Westboro village's festival of music, art and life. Since the inaugural one-day festival just five short years ago, Westfest has become one of Ottawa's main summer festivals and includes a diverse celebration of music, art, literature, dance, performance arts and theatre.

One of the remarkable things about Westfest is that it is 100% free of charge and 100% of the profits from the artists' merchandise is returned to the artists. In addition, Westfest takes pride in being environmentally friendly, and this year introduced compostable beer cups made from corn recycling containers.

This year, I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit Westfest and join with hundreds of community members in the Celebration of Canadian Aboriginal Women in Music. I would like to congratulate Elaina Martin, founder and executive director, along with all the volunteers for their hard work and dedication to the success of this event.

ANNUAL REPORT, OMBUDSMAN

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table the 2007-2008 Annual Report of the Ombudsman.

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

COMITÉ PERMANENT DE LA POLITIQUE SOCIALE /
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
SOCIAL POLICY

M. Shafiq Qaadri: Je demande la permission de déposer un rapport du Comité permanent de la politique sociale et je propose son adoption.

I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Social Policy and move its adoption and send it to you by way of a nameless page.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Lisa Freedman): Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended: Bill 64, An Act to amend the Pesticides Act to prohibit the use and sale of pesticides that may be used for cosmetic purposes / Projet de loi 64, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les pesticides en vue d'interdire l'usage et la vente de pesticides pouvant être utilisés à des fins esthétiques.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Shall the report be received as adopted?

Agreed? All those in favour will say "aye."

All those opposed will say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

The bill is therefore ordered for third reading.

Report adopted.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

LAKE SIMCOE PROTECTION ACT, 2008 /
LOI DE 2008 SUR LA PROTECTION
DU LAC SIMCOE

Mr. Gerretsen moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 99, An Act to protect and restore the ecological health of the Lake Simcoe watershed and to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act in respect of water quality trading / Projet de loi 99, Loi visant à protéger et à rétablir la santé écologique du bassin hydrographique du lac Simcoe et à modifier la Loi sur les ressources en eau de l'Ontario en ce qui concerne un système d'échange axé sur la qualité de l'eau.

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

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The minister for a short statement?

Hon. John Gerretsen: I'll wait until ministerial statements.

MOTIONS

COMMITTEE SITTINGS

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that the following committees be authorized to meet during the summer adjournment, in accordance with the schedule of meeting dates agreed to by the three party whips and tabled with the Clerk of the Assembly, to examine and inquire into the following matters:

The Standing Committee on Estimates to consider the estimates of certain ministries;

The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to review the Ontario health premium, in accordance with section 29.2 of the Income Tax Act;

The Standing Committee on General Government to consider Bill 90, An Act to enact the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, 2008, to repeal the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act and to make related amendments to other Acts;

The Standing Committee on Government Agencies to conduct reviews of agencies, boards and commissions pursuant to standing order 107(f);

The Standing Committee on Justice Policy to consider Bill 50, An Act to amend the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act;

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts to consider the reports of the Auditor General;

The Standing Committee on Social Policy to review the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, pursuant to subsections 75(a) and 75(b) of the act, and to consider Bill 77, An Act to provide services to persons with developmental disabilities, to repeal the Developmental Services Act and to amend certain other statutes; and

That the committees be authorized to release reports by depositing a copy of any report with the Clerk of the Assembly during the summer adjournment, and that upon resumption of the meetings of the House, the chairs of such committees shall bring any such reports before the House in accordance with the standing orders.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Ms. Smith has moved that the following committees be authorized to meet during the summer adjournment in accordance with the schedule of meeting dates agreed to by the three party whipsâ€"

Interjections: Dispense.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? Agreed.

Is the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Agreed to.

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STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
AND RESPONSES

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Hon. John Gerretsen: Today, I'm honoured to rise and introduce the proposed Lake Simcoe Protection Act. Let me begin by reminding members of the commitment that Premier McGuinty made to protect Lake Simcoe nearly one year ago; we're delivering on that commitment.

I'd like to quote from Stephen Leacock, one of Ontario's literary greats who, of course, lived on Lake Simcoe in Orillia. He once wrote:

"The islands of the Aegean Sea have been regarded for centuries as a scene of great beauty ... the Mediterranean coast of France and the valleys of the Pyrenees are a charm to the enchanted eye.... But to my thinking, none of those will stand comparison with the smiling beauty of the waters, shores and bays of Lake Simcoe."

That smiling beauty is part of the great legacy of this province. We must honour and preserve that legacy so that it will be there for our children and their children, and for generations of Ontarians to enjoy.

But these waters haven't always been treated with respect. For close to 200 years, Lake Simcoe has been under stress. Human activities have significantly affected the watershed, the landscape has been changed, water quality has been degraded and shoreline vegetation, wildlife and natural systems have been altered during that time. To that, we add the pressures of population growth, urban and rural development, new invasive species and, of course, climate change.

Our government cannot and will not allow that damage to continue unabated. We have seen some signs of modest recovery in recent years, but strong actions are still needed to restore the natural balance of the Lake Simcoe ecosystem. And that's what we aim to do by bringing forward new, proposed legislation that would set the framework for developing a long-term protection plan for the lake and its watershed.

It will include regulating protection of critical shoreline areas, including its rivers, creeks and wetlands, to protect water quality, and it will provide the authority to create the new Lake Simcoe protection plan and set the scope of that plan. This plan will directly affect key decisions involving activities that may cause harm to the ecological health of the watershed. The plan would allow us to adapt our efforts to respond to new challenges like climate change and invasive species, and it would ensure the promotion of environmentally sustainable land use and development practices.

Our government will also be investing $20 million over the next four years for stewardship, science and monitoring actions, and for implementing the long-term plan to protect Lake Simcoe. Farmers are and have been doing good work to reduce the amount of phosphorus going into the lake, but more needs to be done, and we will help them.

A large part of our $20-million funding commitment is earmarked for enhancing existing funding programs for implementing the best agricultural practices. This will help farmers with the cost of putting in place measures to reduce agricultural impacts on the lake, and we will consult with farmers on the best ways to do this.

What we are proposing today will build on the work that was already done some 20 years ago. We have already put in place new interim limits on phosphorus discharges for sewage plants. We've appointed a Lake Simcoe science advisory committee, which in fact is meeting today on Georgina Island with the aboriginal community. We've also established a stakeholder advisory committee, and today, I know that they're meeting here for the second time at Queen's Park. I want to make special mention of the members of the committee who are joining us in the House today. We have Gayle Wood, the committee chair and CAO of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. Gayle is with us in the gallery. I especially want to thank the Lake Simcoe conservation authority for the leadership that it has taken over the last 20 years through the Lake Simcoe environmental management strategy, on which much of the new bill and plan will be based.

Also with us are Jessica Annis of BILD; Gary Gregoris of Mattamy Homes; Mayor Harry Hughes of Oro-Medonte; Karen Kraft Sloan, former Canadian ambassador to the UN for the environment; and Claire Malcomson, coordinator of Campaign Lake Simcoe. I notice in the public galleries there are a number of individuals who have worked very hard and are very much interested in the lake as well.

We have consulted extensively with Ontarians through the Lake Simcoe discussion paper already. I personally attended the workshops and public information forums that were held in both Barrie and Newmarket. We will continue to work with Ontarians to develop the plan.

People are truly passionate about protecting our lakes and waterways. They know how important our freshwater resources are to life in Ontario. More than 350,000 people live in the Lake Simcoe watershed, and in the summer that number grows to around 400,000. Around $200 million a year is generated for the local economy through tourism, fishing and boating. Eight communities get their drinking water from the lake. An estimated $300 million is generated by agricultural production each and every year. The Lake Simcoe watershed is also home to 58 species of fish and 65 species that are at risk.

There is no question that these waters are essential to our people's health, to our success and to our overall quality of life. We have a duty to the future to ensure that we leave our environment in better shape than we found it, and that's what we plan to do through the act and its plan.

Today we are taking an important step forward to protect and sustain the waters, the ecosystem and the beauty of Lake Simcoe.

I urge all members to support our proposed legislation and look forward to the debate that undoubtedly will occur.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Statements by ministries? Responses?

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: I'm very happy to respond today to the minister on the proposed Lake Simcoe Protection Act and the plan that will follow it. I'm going to be sharing my time with Mrs. Munro. We both have around 100 kilometres of Lake Simcoe shoreline in our ridings, so it's not hard to tell how important this legislation is to a lot of the members on this side of the House.

To the minister, first of all, you know that both the greenbelt legislation and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act put a lot of additional pressure on different parts of the lake, particularly in the growth areas around the city of Barrie etc. What is not mentioned here today is the 25-year intergovernmental action plan, or the growth plan for Simcoe county, which calls for a minimum of approximately 250,000 people to be added to the county of Simcoe over the next 25 years. Many of those people will be in that watershed, and of course, that is a pressure that's really not mentioned in your opening statement; you dealt more with agriculture in your comments. The growth of the area is a huge concern to all of us.

Although you didn't mention my nameâ€"you've mentioned it to me personallyâ€"we passed the Lake Simcoe resolution back in November 2006, which was unanimously passed by the House in private members' hour. We called for action by the government. I was pleased to see in the provincial election that our party came out with a strategy and that the government promised an act, and we're here today with that. On top of that, we've also got the federal government at the table with $30 million that they've committed to specific projects around the lake over four years.

I don't think there's any question that there's been a lot of pressure on all political bodies, whether at the provincial level, the municipal level or the federal level, to take action on what we would call a gem in the centre of our province. If we look at a map of Ontario and we look at the huge growth we've seen around the province in the last 30 or 40 years, right above it all is Lake Simcoe. It's a shallow lake to begin with and there are indeed extreme pressures on it. We certainly hear from cottage associations and ratepayer associations all the time.

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I look forward to the debate on this bill. I look forward to hearing from all of the different stakeholders. I know as you put a plan together over a period of four yearsâ€"it will take at least four years to put that plan together. That's what I'm gathering from your comments today. We look forward to that debate.

I also want to thank a number of the organizations: First of all, Ladies of the Lakeâ€"I don't know if any of those girls are here today, but their calendar is available for 2009.

Interjection: They're here.

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: I'm just saying that your calendar is available for 2009.

â€"Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authorityâ€"Gayle was mentioned here alreadyâ€"Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature.

I hope together we can build this act into something very special and protect Lake Simcoe for many years in the futureâ€"in fact, forever.

Mrs. Julia Munro: I have a couple of minutes in which to respond to today's announcement. As my colleague has mentioned, it is something that is near and dear to us. I want to recognize the many friends and neighbours here in the gallery today who I have worked with over the years in recognizing how important it was.

A few years ago, it was a question of making sure that the LSEMS agreement was signed once again. That has been something that each government has come up with on a five-year basis. But today we're looking at monitoring for four years. In the moments that I have to speak, I would just raise some rhetorical questions, obviously, at this point in the debate. The question of taking action is one that many of my constituents want to see happen right now. Four years is a long time. The $20 million is a good amount of money to be putting on that. The fear of creating more bureaucracy is one that I know is a concern.

The other concern is the competition from other pieces of legislation. This government has passed Places to Grow, the greenbelt and the source water protection. These tend to overlay much of this same geographic area that we're talking about when we talk about the Lake Simcoe watershed. So I think it's most important for everyone to understand the complexity of these various pieces of legislation, and which one then has supremacy over the others.

I think as time passes, we will be very interested in seeing the details of this legislation, and want certainly to work towards the betterment of Lake Simcoe.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Mr. Peter Tabuns: I'm addressing the comments of the minister. As we know, the health of Lake Simcoe has been steadily declining for many years. We know that Lake Simcoe's annual phosphorus inputs are two to three times the natural level and that this is causing excessive algae growth and robbing the lake of oxygen, affecting the cold-water fish community, wildlife and overall water quality. We know the decline in water quality is primarily due to pollution from land-based rural and urban sources. In other words, human activity is the primary cause.

We should thank citizens who have spent hours and years in pushing governments to finally act. This is enabling legislation, and the cliché that's so common around hereâ€"but a realityâ€"is that the devil will be in the details. The plan is to be developed over the next nine months. The crucial question is this: Will this act lead to actions that will effectively address the serious environmental challenges faced in the region, or will it end up simply being window dressing, a narrowly focused water purification bill and a half measure on the environment?

There are at least five concerns the government needs to address to reverse the environmental decline of Lake Simcoe:

First, local groups have expressed concern that the province's strategy for Lake Simcoe must be comprehensive. The government's focus on protecting water quality and quantity effectively says that this issue is about water and not about land. But land use in the area hugely affects water quality. It was made clear in public consultations that protecting green space and developing appropriate land use policies are crucial to the protection of Lake Simcoe. This act has to adequately recognize that in order to actually deliver the change and the results that we need.

Second, local groups are concerned that the strategy will address the symptoms, not the causes. The government's discussion paper talks a lot about phosphorus levels but not enough, according to Campaign Lake Simcoe, about the need to protect key natural heritage and agricultural areas and curb ill-planned urban growth along the lake.

Third, there is a concern that adequate funding to implement the plan may not be made available. I know that an amount was pledged in the statement by the minister. Whether that is adequate to clean up the lake is not clear.

Fourth, there is a concern about who will govern and oversee the implementation of the plan. Will the government of Ontario play a strong role to counterbalance the development industry?

Fifth, and related to the last question, will the strategy be bold and inclusive, or will it end up offering loopholes to powerful interests? Specifically, will all large-scale developments be covered by the plan? Will the plan allow grandfathering of large-scale development projects already in progress?

In his comments, the minister talked about the impact of climate change on Lake Simcoe. I think it's incumbent on the minister and his government to bring forward a climate change plan for this Legislature to consider.

On a separate note: Frankly, you can't take care of the lake unless you have a climate change plan that's actually going to deliver the goods.

The government has to seriously consider these points that I've made, these questions and concerns, if it wants to move forward with a bill that is actually going to preserve the health of Lake Simcoe.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Orders of the day.

Hon. Monique M. Smith: Order G64, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Peter Kormos: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: It's not in order to call G64, it only just having been reported to the House and having been amended in committee.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): That is a point of order. The bill was amended at committee; therefore, it needs to be reprinted in order for it to be debated.

Orders of the day?

Hon. Monique M. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? Agreed.

The House adjourned at 1537.