39e législature, 1re session

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L'ONTARIO

Thursday 29 January 2009 Jeudi 29 janvier 2009

ORDERS OF THE DAY

YORK UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTES
RESOLUTION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR LE RÈGLEMENT
DES CONFLITS DE TRAVAIL
À L'UNIVERSITÉ YORK

ORAL QUESTIONS

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

TOBACCO CONTROL

NUCLEAR SAFETY

HAZARDOUS WASTE

ELEMENTARY TEACHERS

PROVINCIAL PURCHASING POLICY

ORDER OF ONTARIO

EDUCATION FUNDING

SPECIAL CARE HOMES

HOSPITAL SERVICES

AGGREGATE EXTRACTION

CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE


   

The House met at 1015.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): The Lord's Prayer and a Buddhist prayer.

Prayers.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

YORK UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTES
RESOLUTION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR LE RÈGLEMENT
DES CONFLITS DE TRAVAIL
À L'UNIVERSITÉ YORK

Mr. Fonseca moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 145, An Act to resolve labour disputes between York University and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903 / Projet de loi 145, Loi visant à régler les conflits de travail entre l'Université York et la section locale 3903 du Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Pursuant to the order of the House dated January 28, 2009, I am now required to put the question.

Mr. Fonseca has moved third reading of Bill 145, An Act to resolve labour disputes between York University and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 10-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1019 to 1029.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): All those in favour, please stand one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

Aggelonitis, Sophia

Albanese, Laura

Arnott, Ted

Bailey, Robert

Balkissoon, Bas

Bartolucci, Rick

Bentley, Christopher

Bradley, James J.

Broten, Laurel C.

Brownell, Jim

Cansfield, Donna H.

Caplan, David

Carroll, Aileen

Chan, Michael

Colle, Mike

Craitor, Kim

Delaney, Bob

Dickson, Joe

Dombrowsky, Leona

Duguid, Brad

Duncan, Dwight

Dunlop, Garfield

Elliott, Christine

Flynn, Kevin Daniel

Fonseca, Peter

Gerretsen, John

Hardeman, Ernie

Jaczek, Helena

Jones, Sylvia

Kular, Kuldip

Kwinter, Monte

Levac, Dave

Mangat, Amrit

Matthews, Deborah

McGuinty, Dalton

McMeekin, Ted

Meilleur, Madeleine

Miller, Norm

Milloy, John

Mitchell, Carol

Moridi, Reza

Naqvi, Yasir

Phillips, Gerry

Pupatello, Sandra

Qaadri, Shafiq

Ramal, Khalil

Ramsay, David

Rinaldi, Lou

Runciman, Robert W.

Ruprecht, Tony

Sandals, Liz

Shurman, Peter

Smith, Monique

Smitherman, George

Sousa, Charles

Takhar, Harinder S.

Watson, Jim

Wilkinson, John

Wilson, Jim

Wynne, Kathleen O.

Zimmer, David

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): All those opposed, please stand one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

Bisson, Gilles

DiNovo, Cheri

Hampton, Howard

Horwath, Andrea

Kormos, Peter

Miller, Paul

Prue, Michael

Tabuns, Peter

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 61; the nays are 8.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): I declare the motion carried.

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

Third reading agreed to.

ORAL QUESTIONS

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Peter Shurman: My question is to the Premier this morning. While passage of Bill 145 will ensure that York students will be back in class on Monday, I am concerned about quotes attributed to you. Premier, you appear to put the blame for the York fiasco on the administration more than the union. The Premier is entitled to his opinion, but next month, we may face a University of Toronto job action where there's also a CUPE local involved, and I'll get to the 2010 issue in a moment.

Premier, if it's in fact your belief that the York strike was the result of the administration's attitude, what will you say when faced with a U of T strike, if or when that arises? Or, for that matter, with potential province-wide labour stoppages in the majority of our universities, where CUPE contracts are in place when they expire next year?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: First of all, I want to thank all the members who supported this bill for carrying out the responsibility to ensure that young people are back in their classes at the earliest possible opportunity. I also want to take this opportunity to thank our students and their parents for the remarkable patience and goodwill that they've demonstrated throughout this particular ordeal.

The last point I want to make is that on a go-forward basis, I will encourage all parties involved in these kinds of issues, both at York University and all other Ontario universities, to understand the consequences of the failure of these kinds of negotiations, and to do everything within their power to ensure that these matters are resolved amicably and up front as soon as possible.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Shurman: Premier, the terms of Bill 145 did not allow for the imposition of any specifics by the arbitrator. Our party went on record as wanting to see a CUPE 3903 contract of not less than three years imposed. This would guarantee York undergrads would be spared from another strike and another disruption of their studies in 17 months, before the completion of their degrees.

Will the Premier tell Ontario students and their parents that he will direct both the arbitrator and his labour minister to impose a three-year term?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: No, I will not do that. We've just passed the bill and the member just voted for that bill. We believe that when there has been a failure to resolve these kinds of issues through the collective bargaining process, and government is called upon to step in and put in place a binding arbitration process, it's important to provide an unfettered discretion to that arbitrator. It's important not to align ourselves with one side or the other, but rather to align ourselves solely and strictly with fairness. That's what this bill does; that's why I've been proud to support it.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Final supplementary?

Mr. Peter Shurman: Here's the issue, Premier: If you don't take some leadership on this, you could be faced with province-wide strikes and hundreds of thousands of students out of class at the same time.

You showed real reluctance to take action to end this strike. You preferred to sit on the fence while students suffered. You know what they say, Premier: "If you sit on the fence too long, you're going to get painful splinters."

In the future, rather than playing two parties against each other as you did in this case, will you show some leadership? Will you learn from your mistake and will you put students first?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I can understand why my colleague will be seeking to engage in recrimination.

I think what Ontarians want us to do is to find us a way to move forward now. So we've got the bill in place; the arbitrator will move now and work with the parties in the best possible way; the students are going back to the classroom. I think our shared responsibility now is to work with all universities, both the administration and the folks who work in those institutions, to ensure that we can find a means for the collective bargaining process to resolve these kinds of issues on an ongoing basis.

So I'll allow my colleague to engage in recriminations. Our responsibility, on this side of the House, is always to work as hard as we can to bring the sides together and to ensure that we're looking after the students to make sure they're back in the classroom and that we're always pursuing fairness.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Jim Wilson: My question is also to the Premier.

Premier, in response to my question yesterday about compensation for York University students, all you did was make a promise that they could add to their student debt. Here's what the students have to say about that in today's Toronto Star: Vanessa Lehan is quoted as saying that your idea of extending OSAP is "no answer"; in fact, she called it "ridiculous" and said it doesn't help at all.

Students like Vanessa now have to make plans to arrange for accommodation for May and June and make up for lost income for those months and increased living expenses. Will you tell these students today exactly how much compensation you will provide and when they can expect to receive their cheques?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I'll refer this to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Hon. John Milloy: I'd like to echo the thanks of the Premier to everyone who supported this bill and the fact that we're going to allow 55,000 students to get back to class.

Now that the legislation has been passed, and upon royal assent, there'll be an opportunity for York University to finalize its plans for how they are going to allow students to complete this term. Once we have those detailsâ€"my officials are working very closely with York Universityâ€"we plan to make known, as quickly as possible, ways in which students can access additional OSAP funding so that they can receive the financial support they need to finish their funding.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Jim Wilson: Again, I say to the Premier and the minister, you're simply adding to the students' debt through OSAP. Any grants they would have already receivedâ€"and you have not said that these will be grants; you've said these will be OSAP loans.

By refusing to take quick action now, you're making an awful situation even worse. Have you not learned the damage that you cause to innocent people when you drag your feet?

So I ask you again: What type of compensation? When are they going to get their cheques? And why are you just going to add to their debt? Could you at least make that debt interest-free?

Hon. John Milloy: I know that the honourable member sat around the cabinet table in 2001. I'd like to share a quote with him:

"Now that the university has formally extended the academic year, students in affected programs will be eligible to apply for further funding from the Ontario student assistance program (OSAP) to cover their additional living expenses for the longer study period....

"Students will be eligible to apply for an additional four weeks of financial support, taking them to the end of the new exam period...."

That was put forward by the Conservative government that he was part of. We are following a similar model. Once we have received the details from York University of their plans to extend the term, we will be adopting a similar model to the one that his government did when he was sitting around the cabinet table.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Final supplementary?

Mr. Jim Wilson: You don't know your history very well, Minister. In the strike in 2001, the students didn't lose class time. Many, many professors crossed the picket line and taught the students. They weren't out of pocket for accommodation expenses; the school year wasn't extended; they were never out of the classroom. So it's an entirely different situation, and I ask you again, on behalf of the 50,000 students: Have a heart. They deserve some compensation. They are going to lose the month of May and perhaps half of June. If they lose the month of May, in terms of working, if they worked four weeks at minimum wage, that's $1,400. The student union says, on top of that, there's another $800 in tuition that they paid for, but they're not going to have classroom time because the school year is going to be cut short by a least a month.

Have a heart. It's a different situation than in 2001; stop hiding behind that. You've got your facts wrong. Please compensate the students. I ask you on behalf of them. They deserve it. They are the innocent victims in this strike and they deserve compensation from their government.

1040

Hon. John Milloy: If anyone should get their facts straight, it's the member opposite. The fact of the matter is that during the strike when his government was in power, the school term was extended by four weeks. It is a very comparable situation.

The other fact that I would remind the honourable member of is that through the OSAP system, student loans for undergraduates are capped at $7,000. Therefore, as we devise the new program for the extension, students will be eligible under the so-called OSOG program to get relief for loans that total over $7,000 for the academic year. We will be providing a suite of assistance to them, and those details will come forward.

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Howard Hampton: My question is for the Premier. We've heard a lot about putting students first and doing what is best for them, and I know the Premier wants to believe that now, by simply legislating the workers back, everything is fixed.

My question is this: Can the Premier tell us how the needs of York University students will be served by continuing a scenario where many of their teachers will continue to be paid wages that are below the poverty line?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: First of all, I want to congratulate CUPE for its decision to, as quickly as possible, get this dispute behind them, return to their classes and provide the excellent-quality instruction that is available to students at York University. I want to thank them for pursuing this.

The leader of the NDP says that there are remaining issues, outstanding issues. I acknowledge that. We've turned this matter over to a process of binding arbitration. We expect that that will be resolved sooner rather than later, in a way that is as fair as possible to both sides. I expect that both sides will do everything they need to doâ€"it may not be easyâ€"to reconcile outstanding differences and to conduct themselves in a way that serves the best interests of the students.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Howard Hampton: I notice that once again the Premier didn't answer the question. He has to know that what's happening at York University is literally that hundreds of people who were on the picket line have been teaching and working and have been paid wages that are less than the poverty line.

The Premier should also know that quality planning, quality teaching and quality evaluation at the university level is demanding and it's time-consuming. Time spent planning a course has a direct impact on the quality of education that students receive.

My question is this: How are the needs of York University students served by forcing the contract facultyâ€"who do most of the teachingâ€"to continue to exist on short-term contracts of one year or less when they don't know from one semester to the next what courses they will be teaching or if they'll be teaching at all?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: My colleague asks that I insinuate myself into the employment relationshipâ€"

Ms. Andrea Horwath: It's just the education system; how are you responsible?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: â€"between the administration and the faculty, and I'm not prepared to do that.

But in response to the heckle, let me say this: Our responsibility is to ensure that we continue to provide adequate levels of funding to our post-secondary system. We are putting in $6.2 billion over five years in our colleges and universities. We've increased student assistance by $1.5 billion. We've increased spaces in our colleges and universities by some 100,000. This government has done more than any predecessor government within the last two decades to support good-quality post-secondary education for all of Ontario's young people.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Final supplementary?

Mr. Howard Hampton: Premier, the fact is, you and your government have inserted yourselves rather directly into this scenario. The further fact is, while you continue to pump out the press releases, Ontario is next to last in North America in terms of per capita funding for the university system.

But this is really about the future of the system. Tenured professors provide quality instruction based on years of experience. Tenured professors have job security; they can engage in research and exploration of ideas and share that with their students. But when more and more professors retire and are replaced by part-time contract staff who are underpaid, with no job security, those important things don't happen in the university.

My question is this: How are the needs of York students served by this calculated systemic replacement of tenured professors by underpaid, no-job-security contract staff?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Again, I'm proud of the record that we've amassed so far. Is there more work to be done? Absolutely.

One of the things I've been talking about, both at home and abroad, is that we now have the highest rate of post-secondary education in the western world. Some 40% of Ontarians have achieved some level of post-secondary education. But here's another issue. Experts tell us that 70% of the jobs of the future are going to require some element of post-secondary education. We're only at 40%. So we're going to have to find a way together to ensure that we create still more opportunities for young people and Ontarians of all ages to pursue education at the post-secondary level. We've put in $6.2 billion. Obviously we're going to have to find a way to do more to create more opportunities for young people and all Ontarians.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): New question?

UNIVERSITY LABOUR DISPUTE

Mr. Howard Hampton: Again, to the Premier: The Premier likes to give speeches about higher education, but what people are witnessing today is in fact what the McGuinty government has failed to do with respect to higher education. We hear from professors from across this province who say that what's happening at York is happening elsewhere. As professors retire, they are not being replaced by professors; they're being replaced by contract workers who have no job security, who are underpaid, who don't know if they're going to be there next year, have little time to engage in research or the exploration of ideas.

My question is this: Does the McGuinty government really believe that you're doing something by legislating an end to the debate and the discussion that was happening at York University? Do you really believe you're doing something good? Because from our perspective, you are simply trying to sweep the issues under the carpet.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I believe we did what we had to do under the circumstances. Let me tell you again something about our record, because I think it's worthy of recognition: $6.2 billion over five years; $1.5 billion more in student assistance. We're helping 150,000 more students with financial assistance; 120,000 students are getting grants when, in the past, none got them. We've hired 3,300 new faculty. There are 14,000 new graduate spaces. We froze tuition for two consecutive years and we've put in, so far, $200 million to repair college and university campus buildings. Is there more to be done? Absolutely. Have we done something? Absolutely.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Howard Hampton: Premier, you can keep on giving those speeches and keep on pumping out those press releases. Professors from around the province have told us that in fact Ontario is falling further behind. Ontario is 10th out of 10 provinces in Canada. Ontario is next to the bottom in North America in terms of the per capita funding of the university system. But the Premier tries to escape the issue again. What you did at York University is an attempt to literally sweep it all under the carpet; sweep under the carpet the fact that these are very dedicated people who teach, live on wages, many of them that are below the poverty line, and work with no job security. Is that the future that Dalton McGuinty and the McGuinty government offer university students and the university system for Ontario?

1050

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: If we want to see into the future, I think it's helpful to take a look at our past. What have we done in government? I think that we've clearly demonstrated our commitment to education all the way from JK through to post-doctoral programs with our massive levels of investment that complement that, into research, development and commercialization of ideas that are coming out of our colleges, our universities and our hospitals.

We understand that in a global, knowledge-based economy it has never been more important than for us, together, to continue to find new ways to support post-secondary education. It's about investing in what economists call our human capital. It's about making sure that all young people have all the opportunities they need to succeed and be the best that they can be. Those are the ideals that informed our actions. They inspire our efforts and they will continue to do so on a go-forward basis.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Final supplementary.

Mr. Howard Hampton: Once again, the Premier wants to talk about ideals and ignore the reality of what is happening. The reality of what is happening, Premier, is the sorry situation at York University, where teachers continue to work for wages that are less than the poverty line, where they have no job security, where full-time professors are not being replaced. That is the reality.

The other reality is this: By your actions, you've sent a message to other university administrators: "You don't have to bargain in good faith. You don't have to deal with the real issues at your university. All you have to do is stall and stall and stall, and the McGuinty government will come in and sweep everything under the carpet with back-to-work legislation." Premier, that is the reality.

Is that going to continue to be the reality under the McGuinty government, or are we going to see real investment in universities and colleges instead of just speeches and words?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I don't know about my colleague, but I call $6.2 billion real investment. Per student funding is up 21% since 2003.

Again, I'm more than prepared to acknowledge that there is more to be done. We've achieved a level of 40% of our population having some level of post-secondary education. We're going to have to do better. We're going to have to set our targets a little bit higher.

I met with Roger Martin a few days ago, and he told me once again that on a per capita basis, twice as many American young people are pursuing master-level degrees than in Ontario. We need to raise our aspirational levels when it comes to Ontario families. We need to find more ways to encourage more young people to pursue education at the post-secondary level. I think we put a really solid and strong down payment on that withâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you, Premier. New question.

TOBACCO CONTROL

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: Speaker, through you to the Premier: A few weeks ago there was an ad in eastern Ontario papers from the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit looking to hire 15-year-olds as test shoppers under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. Their job, apparently, is to go into convenience stores and attempt to purchase cigarettes and, some might suggest, induce store clerks to break the law.

Premier, health units receive significant funding from the province. Do you believe this kind of sting approach, using underaged teens, is an appropriate and ethical use of tax dollars?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: This is a long-standing practice in the province of Ontario. I would have hoped that my friend would have said his real concern was selling cigarettes to underaged young people. That's what we're after here. That's the crux of the matter. These decisions are made by the local health unit, but I must say that I support this practice.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary.

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: A typical holier-than-thou Liberal response.

We're advised that a significant number of health units engage in this kind of entrapment activity, using teens as bait. Small businesses in this province are having a tough time keeping their heads above these tough economic waters, yet here is just another example of tax dollars being used in a morally inappropriate manner to make their existence even more challengingâ€"and you do this while sitting on your hands and looking the other way at scores of illegal aboriginal smoke shacks operating with impunity. Studies show that one in three cigarettes collected from high schools is illegal. That's okay, I guess, across the way here.

If you're serious about stopping teen smoking, when will you evenly enforce the law and stop unethical efforts to entrap law-abiding small business people?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Smoking remains the number one preventable cause of death in Ontario. Some 16,000 Ontarians continue to die every year from smoking-related illnesses.

My colleague says he's concerned about the unfortunate position this might place small business people in. First of all, I believe the overwhelming majority of our small business people want to co-operate in every way possible and are fully respectful of the law. If there is a concern in that regard, it is easily addressed: Just respect the law. You won't have to worry about any of these kinds of issues; just respect the law. If somebody is coming in to purchase cigarettes from you, follow the law. Make sure you're obtaining the appropriate identification and make sure that you are doing everything we want to do as a society, which is to raise a smoke-free generation so that we can wean ourselves off this terrible product.

NUCLEAR SAFETY

Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. On December 5, Chalk River had a radioactive water leak. There are 7,000 litres of radioactive water a day going into the Ottawa River. What are you doing to protect the residents of the Ottawa Valley?

Hon. John Gerretsen: As the member well knows, all nuclear issues basically relate to the federal government. I know we've been in touch with them. We're concerned about it as well. I can tell you, we're taking all the necessary steps to make sure that the safety and health of the citizens of the Ottawa Valley who are affected by the water streams are fully protected.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: I'm appreciative of the minister's sentiments in this matter. You have a responsibility to protect the residents of this provinceâ€"the residents who have had to rely on the Toronto Sun to find out what's going on, not from you. If you're concerned, if you're taking all necessary measures, tell us: What are you actually doing to protect the health of the people who rely on that river? Tell us in the House right now.

Hon. John Gerretsen: As I indicated before, we are in contact with the nuclear authorities there. We are making sure that the discharge that goes into the Ottawa Riverâ€"that the citizens who are along the riverside on both sides are fully protected from a health and safety security viewpoint.

HAZARDOUS WASTE

Mr. Bas Balkissoon: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. There is a growing understanding that we must reduce the impact we have on our planet. The ways of generations past are simply unsustainable. One way in which we need to change our perspective and our actions is in regard to how we deal with waste we create.

I know that people in my community want to do more to protect our environment and make greener choices. I believe that we should be helping Ontarians make the right choices, to make it easier to properly dispose of waste and divert it from our landfills into new, value-added products. I was interested to learn last week that a new program was launched that does just that for hazardous waste products.

I know that we all have hazardous products like old paint, solvents, oil filters and batteries under the sink or in the garage, products that can harm our environment if they are poured down the drain or thrown into the garbageâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you for the question. Minister?

Hon. John Gerretsen: Yes, we did launch a program last week with Stewardship Ontario to make sure that hazardous materials such as paints, solvents and batteries do not end up in our landfill sites or poured down the drains of our water systems.

1100

Over the next year, we will double the number of hazardous waste pickup days. The amount of tonnage that will be collected that way will increase from something like 16,000 tonnes to over 32,000 tonnes. As a matter of fact, all Ontarians can go on the DoWhatYouCan.ca website and find out exactly to whom and where they can deliver these hazardous materials to make sure that they don't end up in our landfill sites. Several of our major retailers, such as Home Depot, Rona and Jiffy Lube, are already taking back these materials.

We want to expand the program later on as well to take in other hazardous material. The number-one concern is to make sure that these hazardous materials do not end up in our landfill sites or in our water systems.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Bas Balkissoon: Ensuring that these materials do not go into the garbage or get poured down the drain is an important step. As a Toronto Star editorial said, "This is a major improvement." It is also a good example of government and business working together to find solutions.

We need to look at how we deal with waste in a different way. Some products, like those covered by the Do What You Can program, contain toxics that have a serious impact on our environment if they are not disposed of properly. Other items harm our environment when they are unnecessarily thrown into landfills.

Instead of wasting valuable materials and energy, we should be ensuring that these items are reused and recycled. A system where what we once thought of as garbage is collected and reused or converted into another material has so many spinoff benefits. They lower energy costs; we're saving raw material; fewer toxic substances; and new green industriesâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. Minister?

Hon. John Gerretsen: That's exactly what our discussion paper Toward Zero Waste is all about. We are developing plans not only with respect to hazardous waste, and there are three different phases to it over the next year or so; we're also developing a plan with respect to tire recycling; we're developing a plan right now with respect to electronic waste.

The main purpose is to make sure that these products are being reused and recycled and do not end up in our landfill sites where they're not doing anybody any good.

ELEMENTARY TEACHERS

Mrs. Joyce Savoline: My question is to the Minister of Education. Minister, I've asked you twice over the past week what your plan is for coming to an agreement with the Elementary Teachers' Federation and twice you have avoided answering.

Your government talks a big game about how the York administration should have handled their own negotiations, but you're no closer to an agreement with the Elementary Teachers' Federation than you were last June. In fact, you're further away because of the unusual decision to worsen your offer at December 1.

The truth is, you simply don't have a plan beyond offering teachers 12% over four years. When that failedâ€"you don't seem to have a plan B. Minister, what assurance can you give Ontario parents that there will not be a disruption in elementary education coming this March?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: First of all, I want to reassure the parents and the community members who are listening that, right now, what's happening is, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario is in local discussions with their school boards. We have, in this province right nowâ€"every education employee group is in a provincial framework agreement except the elementary teachers, and we have, as it stands now, 386 of 394 local agreements signed, sealed; those are in place.

What I want to say is that if you look at our record, it's one of labour peace and stability. We are currently on a track where, across the province, those agreements are in place. If you look at the record of the party across the floor, 26 million days of student time lost from our schoolsâ€"26 million school days lost because of the constant labour unrest that that government had while they were in office.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mrs. Joyce Savoline: We're running on the government's record of the day, and you know what? Your talk, Minister, can't change the fact that you are running on bought timeâ€"

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Order.

Mrs. Joyce Savoline: â€"throughout the first term. Now that the economy is slowing down and you don't have the money to throw at your problems, those relations are falling apart.

Minister, you know that school boards only have until tomorrow to settle contract details because of your government's deadline. Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation district 12 president Doug Jolliffe says, "The chance to work together will be lost, and yet another era of bitter relations will ensue."

Minister, what is your government's plan B?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Plan A is going to work, so we don't need a plan B. Plan A is going to work, and plan A is working. We have got 386 of 394 agreements in place.

Doug Jolliffe and the Toronto District School Board are in the process of having their local conversation because I know that Doug Jolliffe and the people at the Toronto District School Board, as with all the boards across the province, are very interested in what happens to our kids. They are putting kids at the centre, as in fact we have.

We have made sure that our labour relations with our education sector have been second to none. We have a fine working relationship, which is why we've got so many agreements in place that are four-year agreements.

The member opposite really can't decide what it is they're looking for. On one hand, she is saying more money should go into these agreements; on the other hand, she's trying to lambaste us for putting too much money in. What we're doing is putting reasonable agreements in place. We willâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. New question?

PROVINCIAL PURCHASING POLICY

Mr. Peter Kormos: A question to the Premier: Why is this Liberal government forcing provincial enforcement officers in Ontario to wear uniforms made in China?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Government Services.

Hon. Ted McMeekin: Our procurement policies are set up to ensure that our government obtains value for money through the use of an open competitive process to acquire goods and services. Our policies are designed to ensure openness, fairness and transparency. I just want to say that of the 4,500 vendors that we have, 96% of them are Ontario-based companies.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Kormos: Ministry of Transportation officersâ€"

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Order. Stop the clock. We've got 24 minutes to go, and I'd like to hear the questions and the responses that are going to be put to us in those 24 minutes. Your co-operation would be appreciated.

Mr. Peter Kormos: Ministry of Transportation officers in Ontario, the highway enforcement officers, find it reprehensible that they're forced to wear an inferior product and one that has "Made in China" sewed into the seams when in the past those same uniforms were made in Canada.

How does it make sense to send Ontario tax dollars overseas when we have a clothing industry here in Canada that's ailing?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: I'd just say once again, that of the 4,500 suppliers that this government uses to procure the products that are used in the public service, 95% of those are located right here in Ontario. In fact, if you look at Canadian procurement, one tenth of 1%, I believe, is procured from a supplier outside of Canada. The procurement is done with an Ontario-based company, and that's something that our government's very, very proud of.

ORDER OF ONTARIO

Mr. Dave Levac: My question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. As many people in this Legislature are aware, on January 22, at a ceremony here at the Legislature, 27 very worthy individuals were invested into the Order of Ontario by the Lieutenant Governor. I was very pleased to personally attend the investiture and see and hear first-hand about the outstanding Ontarians from diverse backgrounds being recognized for their efforts in philanthropy, volunteerism, medicine, business, science, sports and culture. It's the highest civilian award in Ontario.

Particularly, I was pleased to see from the riding of Brant our very own Mary Welsh invested into the Order of Ontario for her over 35 years of community service and volunteerism. It's a celebration worth paying attention to and everyone celebrating together.

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Minister, can you please share with our colleagues and Ontarians a brief history of the Order of Ontario and highlight some of the accomplishments of these fantastic members of our community?

Hon. Michael Chan: My thanks to the honourable member for his attention to the Order of Ontario.

The Order of Ontario is the highest honour that the province can bestow upon an individual to recognize outstanding contributions to Ontario.

This year's inductees are joining the likes of Dr. Sheela Basrur, Michael "Pinball" Clemons and Norman Jewison as Ontario greats in the Order of Ontario.

This year, the Order of Ontario advisory committee received close to 400 nominations and selected 27 outstanding individuals. This year's inductees include former Premier David Peterson, former Chief Justice Patrick LeSage, former Olympic figure skater Barbara Ann Scott-King and former Secretary of the Cabinet Tony Dean, along with 23 other deserving individuals.

We are lucky in Ontario to have so many exemplary individuals to choose from to honour with Ontario's highest official award.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Dave Levac: While some in this place find this boring, I think it's great to celebrate great Ontarians, and I would like to thank the minister for doing so. Minister, thank you very much.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that this year's class of inductees provides an example for all Ontarians, especially some in here, to look up to. We also have many, many more Ontarians who give well beyond what they get.

I would like to add my personal congratulations to all the inductees, but in particular, Mary Welsh from the great riding of Brant.

Minister, all the members hereâ€"I hopeâ€"and many people watching at home know first-hand of an Ontarian who deserves to be nominated for the Order of Ontario. We've got many, many more Ontarians who deserve this honour.

Minister, can you share with the members of this Legislature the process of how a person may be invested into the Order of Ontario?

Hon. Michael Chan: My thanks again to the member from Brant for being a strong supporter of the Order of Ontario.

Each year, individuals are nominated for the order by members of the public. The nominations are then reviewed by an advisory council, who then recommend successful nominees to the Lieutenant Governor. Nominees must be residents or former long-term residents of Ontario. No elected federal, provincial or municipal representative may be appointed while still in office.

Ontarians who know an extraordinary individual whom they wish to nominate: The process is open until March 16 of this year. Nomination forms may be found online on my ministry's website.

Once again, I would like to congratulate all 27 new inductees to the Order of Ontario. They are examples for us all.

EDUCATION FUNDING

Mr. Norm Miller: I have a question for the Minister of Education regarding new schools in Parry Sound district.

Minister, a new high school is approved and in the planning process to replace the Almaguin Highlands Secondary School in east Parry Sound. The community is very excited about the new school and has been working hard to develop a school that will meet community needs. It will be a true community school, with affordable features like a fitness room, a cafetorium and a multi-purpose room. They want to build a quality school that will be around 50 years from now.

They also want to build a green school; in particular, they would like to equip it with a ground-source heat pump to heat and cool the school. The heat pump would save significant energy over the long term. Other schools, like Valley View Public School in Sudbury, have been equipped with a ground-source heat pump.

Minister, with the need for energy-efficient buildings, will you provide the necessary funding so that the new Almaguin Highlands Secondary School will be a quality school and a green school, with a ground-source heat pump?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. He will know that in June 2007, I was at the announcement for the funding for the Almaguin school and have actually visited Valley View school, as well. So I'm very aware of the community's needs, and I'm very aware of the high standards that many of our schools are being built to.

That's why we actually have increased our capital building benchmarks by 7%, in order to allow for that kind of green initiative in our schools. It's extremely important, and I share the member opposite's concern that we build sustainable schools for the future. We're doing what we can to make sure the funding benchmarks are upgraded so that those initiatives can go forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Norm Miller: The building committee says that the allotment is only 3.5% and it's not sufficient to do some of the green initiatives they would like to do.

In west Parry Sound, the Near North District School Board, with help from the community, has spent a lot of time going through the pupil accommodation review process to determine elementary school needs. The result of the process is the recommendation to close two existing schools and to build one new school in Parry Sound. The trustees of the board have voted to request funds from the Ministry of Education to build the new school. Now the process seems to have stalled, yet in a neighbouring riding, funding has been announced for a new school where the review process is not even completed. Minister, what is the status of the proposed new elementary school in Parry Sound ?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I have to say that I am not as familiar with that particular initiative. I will get back to you. I'll have someone speak with you today about exactly what the status of that is.

I want to say that it is really important that communities take hold of these projects and set their priorities and make sure that they work with the ministry, because there is always going to be a vast need for upgrading of schools, for new schools, school consolidations. So the ministry works with every single board in the province, all 72 boards, to make sure that we know what their priorities are and we know what the process is. I have to say that the accommodation review guidelines that have been put in place allow for a substantial amount of community input into that process. So it means that we're getting good decisions at the local level, and there has to be that ongoing discussion with the ministry so that the community's priorities are clear.

I will get back to the member opposite about that particular project.

SPECIAL CARE HOMES

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour le ministre de la Santé et des Soins de longue durée.

On June 6, 2008, the Goodfellow home for special care in Sudbury was shut down as a result of sexual abuse allegations, and 10 residents were moved out of my riding to Ottawa. Again, on January 13, 2009, two weeks ago, sexual abuse charges were laid against the operator of the St. Clair Lodge home for special care, this time in Hamilton. Can the minister guarantee that his ministry is inspecting all homes for special care across Ontario every two weeks, as per regulation, to protect the vulnerable residents of these homes?

Hon. David Caplan: I don't believe that homes for special care fall under the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. I think the member would rather ask this question of the Minister of Community and Social Services.

What I can tell you is that in fact the ministry does take its inspection role very seriously in the areas under its purview, like long-term care, home care and hospitals. In fact, we have worked to strengthen the ability of our regulatory colleges with a bill that we have recently introduced related to inspection powers on facilities. I know the member is well aware of it. So I know the member wouldn't want to suggest that the ministry is not upholding the role when in fact it does take this role very seriously. It does have inspectors in the areas under its purview. I would certainly take the question under advisement, as these homes fall under another ministry's jurisdiction.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: We will do homework, due process, too. In the home for special care in Sudbury, it is certainly the Ministry of Health that's responsible for inspections, and the same with the one in Hamilton.

The residents at the Goodfellow home for special care and their families don't ever recall seeing inspectors, and the residents and their families don't ever recall being interviewed. My office has been trying to find out how often inspections were done at the Goodfellow home for special care, but they just can't get an answer from staff at the Ministry of Health. Were inspections performed bi-weekly, as per regulation, at the Goodfellow home for special care in Sudbury? It is your ministry's responsibility.

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Hon. David Caplan: I don't believe the member is correct. I'll take the question under advisement and work to get an answer for the member, but I can tell you that I do not believe the member is correct in the facts she has presented. I don't believe that homes for special care fall under the Ministry of Health. In fact, they fall under municipal bylaw, I do understand. I will look into the matter, as the member has presented these cases, and will follow up with a response to the member. As I say, I do not believe the member is correct that these fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, but will do my best and endeavour to provide an answer for her in due course.

HOSPITAL SERVICES

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: My question is to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. I know that hospitals sometimes experience a sudden increase in patients who need access to critical care services. Serious multi-vehicle car accidents, a spike in the number of people going into cardiac arrest, a sudden life-threatening outbreak: all of these things can cause a surge in demand for critical care services. I know Ontario health providers and administrators learned a lot of lessons from the SARS outbreak, and even made us all realize how coordination between and within hospitals can help save lives.

I will ask the Minister of Health to tell the House what steps he is taking to ensure that hospitals can handle major surges in demand for critical care.

Hon. David Caplan: This question definitely does fall under the purview of the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and I would like to thank the member from Northumberlandâ€"Quinte West for asking such an important question. This issue not only affects constituents in his riding but people right across the province of Ontario.

I'm pleased to tell you about our new surge management program, an innovation that began as a pilot project in the Champlain LHIN. Due to its success in the Ottawa area, we are now rolling it out right across the province. This program will give hospital staff the tools they need to better handle dramatic increases of patients who are in life-threatening situations. It will ensure that patients are transferred from an emergency room or operating room to a critical care service as quickly as possible. It has the potential to reduce ambulance offload delays as well as reduce emergency room and surgery wait times. It will allow hospitals to get together and coordinate their responses and resources to help a hospital facing an overwhelming increase in critical care patients.

I do look forward to the supplementary. It's an excellent question from the member.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: I would like to thank the Minister of Health for his commitment to such an important initiative. Improving coordination within hospitals and communication between hospitals will no doubt help ensure that critically ill patients will get the care they need, when they need it. I know implementing a program of this size and scope is likely not a simple task, but I also know that there is a need for programs like this. I ask the Minister of Health: When can my constituentsâ€"indeed, the rest of Ontarioâ€"expect to see this program rolled out across the province?

Hon. David Caplan: Again, a very good question from the member. I can tell him and all members of this House that, starting this month, 124 Ontario hospitals began implementing the surge management program. By March 2010, the program will be fully implemented right across Ontario. Under the leadership of Dr. Bernard Lawless, our provincial lead for critical care and trauma, Ontario's Critical Care Secretariat is working hard to help hospitals learn how to adapt and implement the program.

I look forward to working with the secretariat over the coming months to help the local health integration networks learn about the surge capacity program and its benefits. Our government takes critical care services seriously. In fact, in 2006 we launched our critical care strategy, which included a $90-million annual investment into critical care services. The strategy has helped to lower wait times and supportâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. New question.

AGGREGATE EXTRACTION

Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, recentlyâ€"I believe January 15 was the final court dateâ€"the Nichols gravel pit in Hagersville, a 233-acre site, has been operating for a period of time now without a licence. These trucks are taking gravel and aggregate in and out of the limestone quarry for an extended period of time, yet continue to operate day after day without a licence. Minister, how can this pit continue on to operate in breach of the law, without a licence?

Hon. Donna H. Cansfield: I thank the member for the question. As you know, we take this very seriously. Under the Aggregate Resources Act, a permit is required, but in this particular case there are extenuating circumstances. We are actually in court with some issues, so I have to be very cautious in my approach to answering your questions, but I would be more than happy to have a conversation with you.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?

Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: Minister, when you're dealing with aggregates anywhere in the province, there's a lot of controversy with a lot of individuals on the removal of the aggregate that takes place near the groundwater discharge, or the groundwater removal, and the trucking that takes place in moving the aggregate back and forth. I'm sure there are a lot of situations, but this isn't something that has just happened recently; it's an issue that has been going on for several years now.

I'm sure the House would like to know exactly some of those key situations that need to be addressed that we can try. Possibly there are some suggestions that we may be able to come forward with. Quite possibly, maybe it's a Ministry of Transportation issue, where the trucks are no longer allowed to participate in removing the aggregate from that particular site. Maybe you can enlighten us on some of the possibilities.

Hon. Donna H. Cansfield: Under the Aggregate Resources Act, we have the responsibility in the Ministry of Natural Resources for permitting the aggregate to be extracted. There's a very onerous process that they must go through. Attached to that is the requirement from the Ministry of the Environment for the taking of water. If the Ministry of the Environment is not happy, they do not get a permit. It's really quite simple. It's a very rigorous process to ensure that water protection is primaryâ€"that, in fact, they're satisfied.

When it comes to the actual hauling, unless the aggregate is based on crown land and it's a crown road, we're dealing with municipal roads. Then the municipality must agree to the haulage from that particular site. Once the proponent has satisfied that need for the municipality, again, we're more than happy to be able to issue that permit.

The Aggregate Resources Act is a very clear act that deals with extraction of a resource close to sourceâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you, Minister. New question.

CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Minister of Children and Youth Services. What changes is this minister preparing to make to the guidelines for funding special supports for children with complex multiple needs?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Let me assure the member opposite that we are not planning to make any changes to the funding for this program.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I asked the minister specifically about the guidelines. Destany Leonard, nine, of Fort Frances, has cerebral palsy and has received support for her complex special needs at home for the past four years. Destany attends school, lives happily at home and has the full support of her community and local service provider, Integrated Services Northwest. Her father was recently informed that Destany will no longer be eligible for ministry funding because the guidelines are changing in April.

Just now, I asked the minister to specify which changes are coming to funding for children with complex special needs. Parents across Ontario, Minister, want to know. Will the minister guarantee that children like Destany with severe disabilities will receive the services they need to keep them at home and in their community?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Let me assure the member opposite that we are working very, very hard to make sure that kids with special needs and youth with special needs do have access to the services that they need. We are working hard to reduce waiting times for these children. Let me just say that these kids have very complex and very special needs, and we are determined to be there for them and to be there for their families.

We're working with communities to provide services to these children. There are no changes being made as to how the ministry funds complex special needs; we're simply formalizing the existing business practices. I can assure the member and the House that no child currently receiving services will lose services. We are not cutting funding; in fact, we've actually increased funding with an extra $19.8 million in the 2008 budget.

I would be more than happy to look into this particular case.

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

Mr. Joe Dickson: My question is to the Minister of Research and Innovation. Minister, there is no doubt that the auto sector is currently facing some of the most serious challenges in its history, but with challenge comes change. As the auto sector faces a shift in consumer demand towards cleaner and greener automobiles, Ontario companies are stepping up to fill the void.

One such company is the Woodbridge Group. Woodbridge's BioFoam is used in car seats, cushions, head restraints and armrests, and now the company is developing new uses for this material. One of these is a product that combines BioFoam with other natural fibres that make car headliners that are lighter and provide better cabin sound quality.

Reports show that the global renewable bioproducts industry is expected to exceed $125 billion in revenue by the year 2010. What is the Ministry of Research and Innovation doing to help young and innovative companies, such as the Woodbridge Group, grow and captureâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. Minister of Research and Innovation.

Hon. John Wilkinson: I share with the members of the House that we have a large manufacturing base here in Ontario, and we're very proud of it. But many of the things that we make are made from petroleum, from resources that we draw from the ground; think of things like plastics and foam. So there's a new brand of manufacturing called biomanufacturing, where we take renewable carbon, which we are blessed with in this province, in agriculture and forestry, and we use those things as the new feedstocks for this new industry.

I was very pleased to join the member at Woodbridge. We were welcomed by the CEO, Bob Magee, and we made announcements of some $2.5 million worth of funding from the Ontario BioAuto Council. I want to thank my good friend the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for working with us on this initiative. There are three companies that were able to receive funding for this cutting-edge new commercialization of biomaterials. They are GreenCore Composites, which is a University of Toronto spinoff; Cambridge-based CG Tower, a North American leader; and Woodbridge, all creating new materials specifically for the auto industry that are greener, lighterâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you, Minister.

ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE

Hon. Monique M. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to move a motion respecting the adjournment of the House.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Do we have consent? Agreed.

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that the House do now adjourn and stand adjourned until February 17, 2009.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Motion agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): This House is now adjourned until February 17, 2009, at 9 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1133.