39e législature, 1re session

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L'ONTARIO

Tuesday 12 May 2009 Mardi 12 mai 2009

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GREATER TORONTO
AND HAMILTON AREA
TRANSIT IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR L'AMÉNAGEMENT
DU RÉSEAU DE TRANSPORT EN COMMUN
DE LA RÉGION DU GRAND TORONTO
ET DE HAMILTON

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

ORAL QUESTIONS

PROTECTION OF WORKERS

GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING

PENSION PLANS

CHILD CARE

TORONTO CATHOLIC DISTRICT
SCHOOL BOARD

PROTECTION FOR WORKERS

ASSISTANCE TO FAMILIES

WINE INDUSTRY

SERVICES EN FRANÇAIS /
FRENCH-LANGUAGE SERVICES

NURSES

NORTHERN ONTARIO DEVELOPMENT

TAXATION

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

CHILDREN'S MENTAL
HEALTH SERVICES

CHILDREN'S MENTAL
HEALTH SERVICES

ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS

DEFERRED VOTES

GREATER TORONTO
AND HAMILTON AREA
TRANSIT IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR L'AMÉNAGEMENT
DU RÉSEAU DE TRANSPORT EN COMMUN
DE LA RÉGION DU GRAND TORONTO
ET DE HAMILTON

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

CEMETERIES

JUNIOR HOCKEY

RIDING OF WELLINGTONâ€"HALTON HILLS

CANADIAN FORCES

FISHING DERBY

FIBROMYALGIA AND
CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

CITY OF PETERBOROUGH

LOISIRS DANS LES RÉGIONS DU NORD

STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

CAPPING EXECUTIVE
COMPENSATION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR LE PLAFONNEMENT
DE LA RÉMUNÉRATION
DES CADRES SUPÉRIEURS

HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
(AFTERMARKET BRAKE PAD STANDARDS), 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 MODIFIANT
LE CODE DE LA ROUTE
(NORMES RELATIVES AUX PLAQUETTES
DE FREIN DE RECHANGE)

STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING
DAY ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR LA JOURNÉE
POUR L'ÉLIMINATION
DE LA TRAITE DES PERSONNES

MOTIONS

COMMITTEE SITTINGS

PETITIONS

GREEN POWER GENERATION

WORKPLACE HARASSMENT

CEMETERIES

TAXATION

TAXATION

CEMETERIES

PENSION PLANS

CHILD PROTECTION

TOM LONGBOAT

TAXATION

CHILD PROTECTION

SCHOOL FACILITIES

HOSPITAL FUNDING

FIREARMS CONTROL

TUITION

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GREEN ENERGY AND GREEN
ECONOMY ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR L'ÉNERGIE VERTE
ET L'ÉCONOMIE VERTE


   

The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Good morning. Please remain standing for the Lord's Prayer, followed by the Baha'i prayer.

Prayers.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GREATER TORONTO
AND HAMILTON AREA
TRANSIT IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR L'AMÉNAGEMENT
DU RÉSEAU DE TRANSPORT EN COMMUN
DE LA RÉGION DU GRAND TORONTO
ET DE HAMILTON

Resuming the debate adjourned on May 7, 2009, on the motion for third reading of Bill 163, An Act to amend the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Act, 2006 and to make consequential amendments to another Act / Projet de loi 163, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2006 sur la Régie des transports du grand Toronto et apportant des modifications corrélatives à une autre loi.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Further debate?

Mr. John O'Toole: It's a real pleasure this morning to get a few minutes to give our summary comments on Bill 163, An Act to amend the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Act.

This is sort of the next phase of the commitment to public transit. I suspect, in all sincerity, that the opposition party and our leader, Mr. Runciman, have made it clear that we're in support of transit. This bill has a very laudable goal, and we have a few comments that need to be made. It's sort of like speaking about home and country: Transit is a pretty high-order priority for the government and for the people of Ontario, and being seen to do the right thing often serves a purpose.

There have been a lot of announcements over the last while, and it's hard for me to say where to start, actually. There have been so many announcements. Some of them actually make sense. Some of the announcements, for instance the Metrolinx update that I had back in July 2008, were quite encouraging. This was prior to the announcement of the Big Move report by the then board of Metrolinx under Rob MacIsaac. Now we have Mr. Prichard, the former editor or publisher or whatever of the Toronto Star, as well as the president of the University of Toronto, heading up a new non-elected board. This is the first of four or five comments I want to make: The board that was established under the name of the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, then renamed to Metrolinxâ€"I'm not sure why they did that; I guess to spend a few million dollars branding. At that time, it was representatives fromâ€"we'll go back and report to that; it included the GTA plus Hamilton, so the region of Durham was on it, York region was on it, the city of Toronto had a great number of members, Peel was on it, and Halton, as well as Hamilton. Now, the way it was designedâ€"and we said this initially, when this whole Greater Toronto Transportation Authority thing was announced a couple of years ago; we said that the two things that were designed conspicuously to be non-functional were the governance modelâ€"which was really run by the Ministry of Transportation. They had two key appointments: one was Rob MacIsaac, and the vice-chair as well. Those two key appointments basically brought the ammunition from the ministry, the McGuinty government, into the boardroom, and said, "This is what we're doing."

The second thing: There was no money committed to it. In fact, that was the dysfunctional part. There was no money, and the governance was screwed up. In fact, Toronto was boxed in. There were, I think, four Toronto members and five other members, and then you needed to have the chair and vice-chair, who were the minister's appointments, hand-picked people who were going to do his bidding.

In all positive comment, they did come up with a report called the Big Move. The Big Move is a big report, and it's a lot of money. It's actually $50 billion over 10 years, which requires the province, and I guess the partners, whoever they areâ€"I guess they're assuming the federal government's on board. This all ties into the Move Ontario plan which was announced some years ago; it's about a $10-billion plan. All of these plans are really a signal to the second comment. Now they've got the number out there in this report, $50 billion, which means the taxpayers and the riders of transit are going to pay through the nose in the future. Somebody is going to have to pay, and that's another concern we raise. I want to repeat our initial commitment here: that transit is the way of the future, when gridlock and the environment and all of those highly laudable objectives are a problem.

Now, after the Big Move report that was issued by Metrolinx, they came in with Bill 163, and what did they do? They blew up the board. They blew it up and threw them all overboard. It's tragic. I had comments and concern raised by some of the elected people who were trying to do their best, whether it's Roger Anderson in Durham, or Bill Fisch in York, and others, who were talking, and all of a sudden taxpayers' money is being spent by a non-elected board. Who gets that? Bob Prichard is a friend, I think, of Dalton McGuinty. Well, I'm pretty sure he is, but possibly he's not, too. The point I'm making here is he's going to be doing Premier McGuinty's bidding on the spending, too. He's going to get this job done because I think he said that he would take this sort of temporary job for a couple of hundred thousand a year for two years, maybe, and have it done, or moving.

Now, I haven't really acquiesced that this is the right delivery model. All I know is that York region's Viva transit system is well respected, I think on all sides of the House here. It's my understanding that it isn't run by the same municipal employee group. I'm not against any particular group, but it's run in a competitive way byâ€"should I say this? Is it OK to say this? It's a private sector provider: competitively; that's how it's run. Viva transit system is run by a private sector provider, and that's what I'd like to see: competitive bids. Putting safety and public safety first is very important, offering a public service at an affordable rate is very important, but I don't want to have a TTC monopoly. Can I be any more blunt? I don't want to see Howardâ€"I won't use names; it's better just to say "the TTC board"â€"

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: Moscoe.

0910

Mr. John O'Toole: No, "The TTC board" is plenty. I don't want to name people. Howard isn't on the board; it's Adam Giambrone now. I don't want them running the transit system for Ontario. I look at Durham transit. Durham transit is a young and developing transit system. I think it's running a deficit; no question of that. About $300 per household has been assessed on the levy. I see a lot of buses running past farms and up regional roads with nobody living on them, and there's nobody on the bus, generally. Generally there's just nobody on the bus; sorry. Now, is that good for the environment, having these $250,000 diesel buses going up and down streets?

My understanding as well is that besides running a deficit, whichâ€"in fairness, almost all transits run deficits; almost all. I think GO Transit is probably paying around 80% of its operating costs from the fare box, which is pretty good. It's one of the better ones in North America, certainly.

The Durham transit systemâ€"it's my understanding that Whitby transit still operates with a private sector provider on a competitive bid.

Mr. Jeff Leal: Yes, Coach Canada.

Mr. John O'Toole: Yes. It's my understanding that it works in co-operation, co-operatively, and that's all I'm saying: The second most important thing is that we have to have partnerships in this. These partnerships are important, and keeping the highest standards of safety and driver training and all of those important requirements. As I said before, on our side we really did come down, in our discussions in caucus on many occasions, toâ€"I want to make sure I cover all of theseâ€"five key concerns that we are going to raise today or throughout the discussion here. The five things are the governance modelâ€"all the governance non-elected, non-accountable, Dalton McGuinty's the boss, and I believe the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Bradley, is probably disappointed, because this is right from the centre office, right from Premier McGuinty's office. He's going to spend $50 billion on public transit, and he's got his minions to do that.

The other part I'm concerned about is that the meetings in Metrolinxâ€"and most of them were quite complimented, in most of the readings that I followed up on, by the group Transport 2000, Natalie Litwin. I believe this volunteer group is working very hard to improve transit. They're concerned as well about certain aspects here, of throwing the Metrolinx board overboard, throwing them under the bus, kind of thing. So we're saying the second thing is these open meetings. Under Metrolinx they were open; under this new arrangement under Bill 163, these are closed-door communications between the Premier and his operatives in this new organization of Metrolinx.

The third and most important point here is the funding. Where's the beef? This funding is a really important issue. There's $50 billion to do the Move Ontario plan. You know we could spend some time arguing that. We need more openness and more accountability. We need annual reporting of the status of these projects in Move Ontario, and the funding and the partnering in that funding: Who's paying the freight? Ultimately, you know that the funding is going to be by the taxpayers of Ontario. One way or another, they're paying. Now, in this tough economy, the argument in the public sector would be that this is a job creator. In the real world, everyone can't work for the government. You have to actually have labourers in the forest cutting trees down that are made into tables and things; you've got to add valueâ€"skills and knowledge to resources to create and add value. We're very concerned, on this side, about, where's the money? One example of a living comment in the media as we speak is about the new announcement for the 200 or 300â€"I should look this up, actually, and be accurate on this. This is on the new TTC. Now, the TTC is always a little out of control. I'm readingâ€"these are current comments. But anyway, it says here, "No Provincial Cash for TTC Cars." This was on May 3, and it says, "Mayor" Miller "made $1.2B Bombardier announcement knowing talks stalled with Liberal government." In fact, when asked a question in the House, the infrastructure minister, Mr. Smitherman, acted surprised. He said they knew nothing about this announcement. Now, we all know that Mr. Miller has no money, so where's he going to get the $1.2 billion? They're starting to throw money around like it has gone out of style. It really is quite frightening: $1.2 billion announced and nobody has come to the table.

I'll read one announcement from this article by Antonella Artuso. It says, "Discussions are also underway in the province regarding another priority of" Mr. "Miller's, the Sheppard LRT." They've got a lot on the table here, and I'm going to just digress for a minute here. There's another article. Maybe, for those people reading, it's quite a good article. Actually, this is from the Post in April, and it talked about the light rail system to Pearson. It's a $4.6-billion kick-start, and the mayor said he's overjoyed. I think that was announced the morning after they were thrown under the bus, off the board. They say that Ontario grants a total of $9 billion to public transit; $9 billion? I hope it relieves the gridlock or there's some measurable benefit to society.

It gets very complicated. So they've got the $9 billion on the table. No one has actually said where the $9 billion is coming from yet. Now they've got the $1.2 billion, and we're not sure where it's coming from, but it says in the article I referred to, "No Provincial Cash for TTC." "'There's only so much money to go around,'" a provincial source said, adding Ontario is sending out feelers to the Stephen Harper government behind the scenes to determine if the streetcars might be funded through provincial-federal economic stimulus infrastructure programs." That's an awfully funny way to say, "We're not sure where the money is."

I am very concerned. We're raising a valid concern. Here's David Miller making announcements now about things he hasn't even got any authority over and he's going to embarrassâ€"in all fairness to Premier McGuinty, he's got his hands full. They've lost about 400,000 jobs, the economy is collapsing and they've got this new HST tax coming in. It's in absolute chaos over there. They've got a deficitâ€"I think it's $12 billion and it's going to about $30 billion. They're trying to find things to spend it onâ€"$9 billion hereâ€"and David Miller is announcing every day to spend more money that he hasn't got, and he's going to try to embarrass the Premier: "It's your problem." Somebody has got to rein him in. In all fairness to the Premier, the Premier is doing his very best to look after the needs of the people of Ontario and taxing them as much as he can. He knows he can't tax them any more. If he does, he's going to put another drag on the economy.

Our third primary concern is the fiscal plan here. There is no plan, and this is the most repeated theme that I see in almost every announcement: Bill 150 is another example of a failed plan. Where's the money coming from? We've had a study done on that bill, and it's true that even this morning in the media there's a report of the faults ofâ€"the Denmark story on wind is simply false. Most of their energy comes from other countries, from nuclear and natural gas. It doesn't come from wind at all. Six per cent of their total is wind. But I'm going back to this one, the cost here. Governments like to make announcements, but there's no plan.

Then yesterday we had the NDP's opposition day on sort of bailing out the auto sector, or the pension benefits guarantee fund. We know that it's in problems too by billions of dollarsâ€"billions of dollarsâ€"and this is for people that have retired and are doing their service to their community. I remain concerned that the fiscal plan simply isn't here on Bill 163. We should guard it carefully. At the very least we're asking for annual, regular updates on projects and spending. I think they should be quarterly. We're going to be spending an enormous amount of money that we don't have, which means the only way it can be recovered is either you grow the economy, which doesn't look too optimistic right at the moment, or you raise taxes.

0920

We know that each person in Ontario who's watching today over the next number of years is going to be paying about $1,000 a year more for electricityâ€"that's a taxâ€"because electricity's a product that you have no discretion about using. You're going to need it to heat your home, cook your food, clean your clothes. Also, now we've got the HST next year that's going to kick in. It's going to cost every person about $600 or $800 more per year. We know their health tax they had is costing $600 to $1,000 per person, per year. So there's about $3,000 per person, and we've got a deficit, and they're spending money they don't have. It just doesn't make sense.

I want to repeat our commitment to public transit and to building better partnerships in infrastructure. Look at good examples. Somebody mentioned that one of the operators is Coach Canada. I'm looking to the member from Peterborough. Is it Coach Canada?

Mr. Jeff Leal: Coach Canada.

Mr. John O'Toole: Coach Canada?

Mr. Jeff Leal: Yes.

Mr. John O'Toole: Well, Coach Canada is an operator that is in the private sector generally, I guess. I would say that they should all be entitled to bid on these projects and operate them under the same set of rules. We just want a level playing field. If there's a bit of competition, we can be sure that the public and the private sector working together can make sure that we get good value for taxpayers' money for a good project. Let's not try to speed this thing through so that it's done and we've got more debt and no service. Those are the kinds of controls I want.

I'm going to bring up the fourth point, those controls that I said. The four key issues of our concern here are the governance modelâ€"we have suggestions on that. I see the Minister of Municipal Affairs is here, and that's extremely good. AMO's an organization that handles the transfer of gas tax. I think a good resolve to the issue on governance of the Metrolinx under Bill 163 is to put an appointee from AMO on the board, to build some sort of bridge. Don't cut off the municipal leadership, the elected, official people; work in partnership.

The second issue is the meetings. They should be open to the public. What have you got to hide? I know they don't know where the money's coming from. You shouldn't be hiding it. Talk to the people. If they want it, they'll finance it. They'll help you pay for it. They'll say, "Raise my taxes"â€"I don't think so, but ask them. Consult. Have open meetings.

The third one is the funding, which we've spent considerable time on. The funding simply isn't there. We've got David Miller making announcements he has no money for. He's got a blank cheque. He wants Stephen Harper to sign it, or he wants Premier McGuinty to sign it. He's out of control.

The fourth one, of course, is the whole control mechanism. Accountability and transparency: We've all been asking for that. This is public money which we don't have.

Now I'm going to raise a fifth. This could be somewhat controversial. I was always under the impression that when they formed the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, basically it was the GTA, and they added Hamiltonâ€"which was probably a good thing to do. I'm not sure Hamilton wants to be in the GTA, but Hamilton is an important destination. But you know what happened? The Sunday after Bill 163 was announced, I readâ€"I got it sent to me by someone who knows I'm standing in as the transportation critic for Mr. Klees, who's running in the leadership. That's a whole other discussion; maybe I'll get some time to talk about that. But here's the key. I would say this: There was an announcement I think on a Sunday morning when everybody was at churchâ€"it could have been Saturday. With the people there was Mr. Bradley, and they were announcing that they were going to extend GO Transit to Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. It just so happens that's the minister's riding; Minister Bradley makes the announcement. It's not in the Big Move report. It's not in the Metrolinx report. It's not in all the diagrams that I saw pictures of and things from the Big Move report. All of a sudden, there's this new service being provided to St. Catharines and Niagara Falls. I was a bit surprised at that because it's really not in the mandate. Then I thought, well, I don't think it would be the minister pulling strings here to get things toâ€"I hope not. That would be inappropriate really. The minister shouldn't be in the operational side. He's setting the bigger picture, the policy, like the Mining Actâ€"it is a very important act. Good luck with it; it's got to be changed. But this one here was a bit of a surprise, so I'm raising this as item 5.

I've been arguing for a long time that we need the completion of GO Transit service rail to Clarington. Why am I mentioning that? We're the eastern end of what was then the Metrolinx, the GTA. They did promise at some future dateâ€"nothing in writing and no moneyâ€"to get a train out to Bowmanville, and they promised bus rapid transit into Durham region. I think the bus rapid transit is important. It could probably be operated by Durham or GO. But we don't need two transit providers on the same road.

My real point there, in making sure my community is represented, is I want GO rail to Bowmanville sooner rather than later; in fact, it should be going to Bowmanville before it goes to St. Catharines and Niagara Falls. Why do I say this? Well, it's my understanding that Coach Canada already provides daily service to Niagara Falls and to St. Catharines. It's my understanding that Coach Canada gets no capital funding, no operating funding, and provides a service, free to the taxpayer, at a reasonably competitive rate. In other words, the consumer pays, the person getting on the bus or the train, and that's the only revenue source they have. I kind of like that one. It helps me sleep more comfortably that somebody hasn't got their hand in my pocket.

So this is our fourth concern: Is it appropriate that the Minister of Transportation is going beyond the scope of the Metrolinx Big Move report, Bill 163, and adding GO Transit to St. Catharines and Niagara Falls when there is a service being provided today at no cost to the taxpayer? I question that, and I want that question answered. I think it's an important and perhaps even inappropriate action by the government. I can't believe it. I'm speechlessâ€"well, not speechless; that would be going way too far.

I really think that we've raised a few good points on Bill 163. I believe that the member from Bramptonâ€"Springdale is the parliamentary assistant. It's good that she's here, which is important.

A few other points of a more technical nature have come up: I agree that the governance to get the petty municipal politics out of it, to throw several overboardâ€"under the bus, so to speak; not disrespectfully, thoughâ€"but to advance this major project forward, is probably a good move to freshen up some of the leadership there. I'm sure the former president of the University of Toronto will be a great leader. I have no problem with that. I went to that schoolâ€"he wasn't the president then; he probably wasn't even born when I went thereâ€"but I think that's a good move.

But here's the key, and let's pay attention to the facts: They need to move forward first and foremost with the smart card. They really do. This is important. It could be called the oyster card or Presto or whatever, but it would be something similar to a credit card. Let's just use that as an example, if you don't mind a prop, so that when you get on the bus, you would swipe the cardâ€"and it would be like a calling card, reallyâ€"and it would be charged. Now, the smart card would also know that you got on at Bowmanville and got off in York region somewhere, but the software system in the background would determine which transit system got the money, because if it's a ridership pay systemâ€"probably 50% of the revenue should come from ridershipâ€"that would be a way of transferring the money in the background. I think that has to happen first, to streamline the integration of transit. That's a laudable goal. We want to coordinate and integrate the transit system as wellâ€"that we agree with. The smart card needs to be the first piece, and I don't say it as an operational person; I've heard that from people very concerned that this is important.

0930

I would sayâ€"I often hear thisâ€"that the link to the airport is very important as well. I know, as I said earlier, that the light rail to Pearson is $4.6 billion. I'm sure this will be politically explosive when they start going through certain neighbourhoods and certain valleys, etc.â€"there will be all sorts of process there. But I know they have also streamlined the approval process for transit projects, and the environmental assessment process. As long as the right thing is done, I think making that a quicker eventâ€"this stuff has been talked about for quite a while, certainly for eight or nine years that Premier McGuinty has been in office, and I would like to think that some of this goes forward.

Let's keep in mind, with all due respect, that David Millerâ€"I go back to that; it overwhelms meâ€"is out making an announcement that should be made by the Premier. He's spending his money and then he uses that to embarrass Mr. Smitherman, who will probably run against him for mayor. Maybe that is what's behind thisâ€"I don't knowâ€"but I really feel that could be part of it. He's making the announcement that maybe George is saying no to it. Now, Mr. Smitherman says no, and then he's on the campaign trail against Mr. Miller and uses it in the campaign: "Well, you refused this transit solution."

That's what is happening here. It's the lack of a plan that has been endorsed broadly. They had the Metrolinx group working together. They come out with a report, and there was no moneyâ€"it was just a wish listâ€"and now it's trying to be fleshed out at a time when there isn't five cents more in the taxpayer's pocket.

Here's a practical experience of my own. I take GO Transit as often as I can from where I live to Toronto. Now here's the real thing with transit. Generally, as long as it's convenientâ€"you can't get off a bus on the 401 and expect to get to work unless you're getting a taxi. So you've got to bring it into town. Here's the point: For me to come to Queen's Park on a weekly basisâ€"this might surprise youâ€"it's $100 after tax. When you get paid, say, $50,000 a year, you end up with $30,000 in your jeans after taxes. It's $100. I have to make $200 to get $100 to spend. Do you get that? I'm talking more or less to the pages here, because very few other people are listening.

Now, here's the key: I was talking to constituentsâ€"it was a couple, and they actually work here at Queen's Park. They told me it was $100 each. They said, "It costs us $10,000 a year to come to work." That's $20,000. You have to earn $20 to spend $10; we all get that. It's costing them $20,000 to come to work. God, I hope they are making $30,000. My point is, it's very expensive to use transit. Don't ever think it's the easy way and all the blah, blah, blah. That's baloney.

Not only that; it isn't that easy. When I get off the GO train at Union Station I have a choice. Often, on a lovely day like today, I walk up to Queen's Park. Most people won't, do you understand? It's sort of like the bike lanes in Toronto. There was no one on them in the winter. They were full of snow, actually. Some of these new ideas they come up with sound good but they're so impractical that it's really absurd. But what they are doing is a good job of diminishing the role of the car.

I live in the country. Some would say that's good; some would say that's bad. But getting back to the point, if you were to extend transit service to somewhere like St. Catharines, I don't think that many people come to St. Catharines on a daily basis. Maybe a lot of people go to St. Catharines from Toronto because the casino is thereâ€"maybe. I have no idea what they'd be doing. Maybe they're going to the Royal Ontario Museum or a Blue Jays game or something like that.

But you need to have reliable, predictable service. In Europe there's a success with transit because they have the density of population, and the way their older communities are organized. It's density, and I don't see much density in some locations; for instance, in Durham there isn't enough density to support transit. I see empty buses going up Simcoe Street from Oshawa to Port Perry to pick up one person. You'd be further ahead to give them a taxi chit. Do you understand? Just say, "Whenever you want to go to the university or the college or the hospital, here is a taxi chit." Give each family that requests them let's say 10 a yearâ€"10 free tickets to travel. They're paying $300 now. Actually, the household tax for the transit piece in the Durham budget is I think $300 per household.

I just think that some of the solutions we're coming up with are these mega-solutions that try to generally service the people. You can't get in and out of Toronto now because of the gridlock etc. They're going to have this big solution and everybody's going to move around. It almost reminds me ofâ€"there's not much concern for the individual or the human condition. In some countries in the world where there's a lot of density, they have what they call "pushers" in the transit system, where they actually put their foot on your back to make sure they can get the bus full. Now, that's sort of like how you treat cattle; it's not how you treat people.

I think that the transit solution is part of it. I think they've got a great vision here. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with giving four, five, six or seven non-elected people the authority to spend $50 billion on pet projects. It's sort of like the subway to the airport, or to York Universityâ€"a lot of money; I don't know. I think we're in a hurry to make a big mistake, to some extent.

I want to conclude by repeating the five key concerns. The first principle is this: We support the transit plan and solution. Conceptually, you have to have a plan. That's good. You need public participation in that plan. That's good. You need to finance it and you need options to finance it. Some of that includes the non-public delivery model, like it is done in York region. The York region Viva system is provided by Coach Canada. It's not provided by some other Adam Giambrone, Howard Moscoe, blah-blah solution.

Interjection.

Mr. John O'Toole: There's nothing wrong with them. They're already in gridlock. My sense is that we need to have delivery options.

To the extent that some of the solutions in communities that don't have the population, like my ridingâ€"parts of it are smaller. The community of Uxbridge has less than 30,000 people, Port Perry has about 30,000 and Clarington has about 80,000. I think the footprint for transit should suit the population and the uses. I think they need smaller vehicles. Why would you have a $250,000 bus that's about 60 feet long, spewing out diesel smoke, going up some country road to pick up one person? It just makes no sense.

Not only that; many of the trips are for the purpose of work; that's busy in the morningâ€"GO Transit is very busy in the morningâ€"and very busy at night. What do the employees do during the day? In fact, the CN drivers of those trainsâ€"that has been the problem with GO Transitâ€"work split shifts. They're off in the afternoon. I don't know where they go. If you live in Brampton and you're at work at Union Station, do you go home for a couple of hours? I don't get that.

But my point is this: When you're arranging the delivery of a service that has two peak demands, you need to have options. First of all, a four-hour workday might be a decent solution for people working from 4 in the morning till 10, or 8, something like that, and that's your day. It's really not a full 40-hour-a-week job; we understand that. It might suit some peopleâ€"do you understand?â€"and then a four-hour shift at night, instead of having somebody's whole day ruined to get eight hours in. I don't see that kind of flexibility in the plan, I really don't. I just see that this thing here is a lot of money, with not a lot of rules, to provide service under a lot of political pressure.

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There are parts of Ontario that don't have transit. I can tell you, I was listening the other day to the member from Timminsâ€"James Bay, who has a role in this as well. I think he's the transit critic for the NDP; I think he has two or three communities with transit. He saidâ€"and the member from Renfrewâ€"Nipissingâ€"Pembroke, last Thursday during private members' public business, was talking about the gas tax and gas feesâ€"transit in rural Ontario, in much of northern Ontario, is the roadways. That's the transit system.

We can't ignore that that's the way Ontario is. We need to have a plan for the future, and some of the communities that are high density need to have more sophisticated transit options. I fully understand that, but sometimes, when you have buses and trains going down country roads past sheep farms, it makes absolutely no sense. Those buses don't run for free. If you want to run a bus or any service seven days a week, 24 hours a day, it takes seven people to fill one job. Seven people at $50,000 a year as a reasonable salary, that's $350,000. Then the bus is worth about half a millionâ€"holy smokes.

Anyway, I think we've made our point that we would like to support the concept of transit as outlined in Bill 163, or something similar to it. The plan is weak. It's a lot of big numbers and big pictures, but there are no time lines, no deliverables and no funding partnerships in placeâ€"none. In fact, in the $1.2 billion announced by David Miller, there's no money for those streetcars announced. They're going to put pressure on other levels of government to pay for it.

Here's the key, though. I think we can have open, accountable meetings. I think that will fulfill a need. Have municipal representation of some sort, work out the funding and don't spend money you don't have. Financial partnerships are not a bad option, looking at Coach Canada as one of the service providers, or Greyhound or someone else. We'd cut out the monopoly business of the TTC and Hazel McCallion fighting about transit crossing the borders. It's a waste of time; it's all baloney. Introduce controls in terms of accountability on an annual or perhaps on a quarterly basis for what projects are going ahead, where's the money coming from, where are we on the projectâ€"over budget or under budgetâ€"etc.

Transit has to have a vision and has to have a plan, and all I can say in this case is, they've got it partially right. We will likely be supporting this. Our leader and the members of our caucus have discussed this ad nauseam. Many of them recognize thatâ€"don't ignore rural Ontario. Their transit system is the car. Let's not go backward; let's move forward. We'll be supporting the bill. With that, thank you for the opportunity this morning.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Questions and comments? I don't think so.

Interjection: It's time-allocated.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Oh, sorry. I came into the chair a little late, and I was thinking it was the normal procedure.

Further debate?

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Certainly it's a pleasure to rise and speak about this bill, and to bring the concerns of my constituents around both this bill and, of course, the fact that the government wants to invoke closure on it. Imagine what it's like to wake up one morning and hear piledriving outside your window that registers about three on the Richter scale.

Now imagine this: You're trying to run a business there, a production company, as one of my constituents was trying to run. It put her out of business very, very quickly: eight hours a day of piledriving, a two-stroke diesel engine.

Or imagine if you're a senior and you are having your afternoon nap, and this goes on non-stop. Imagine if you work shifts, which a number of my constituents do who live close to the railway, and are trying to get some sleep during the day with this going on outside your window. And then imagine that you contact the agency that your tax dollars pay forâ€"in this case, GOâ€"and ask them what is going on, and they say, "Well, didn't you know? We passed around flyers all over your neighbourhood not that long ago and we said there was some construction that was going to be happening in your neighbourhood." Well, I'm sorry, but there's a very big difference between "some construction going on in your neighbourhood" and a two-stroke diesel piledriver outside your window. This is going to go on for months. GO cannot even say when it's going to end. This is what this bill speaks to. This bill speaks to a bureaucracy that will not be transparent, will not be accountable, even less transparent and even less accountable than has been our experience at GO and Metrolinx already.

Then, of course, as a community, what do you do? You organize, you gather people in the community, you contact your political representatives, you ask for a meeting with those responsible at GO. But what happens when GO refusesâ€"public servants who refuse to meet with the public, refuse to have an open town hall, and will only meet with a few hand-picked representatives from that community and their political leaders, and even then stonewall as to why they didn't test out vibratory piledriving, why they didn't look at alternatives to the schedule, why they didn't alert the constituents as to what really was going on, and would they or would they not recompense those who had lost way more than perhaps the solidity of the foundations of their housesâ€"most of them are shakingâ€"but their businesses, some their livelihoods, some had health ramifications, and it's still going on? This even when we put forward many alternatives: Engineers in our midst and piledriving that is quieter, that could be conducted in a non-obtrusive way. It certainly is being conducted, even in this project, where vested interests are concerned; it is being conducted at York University, being conducted in Europe, where it would be illegal in most jurisdictions to have this kind of piledriving in such a densely populated area.

Here is a taste of what's to come with Bill 163â€"just a taste of how little consultation, what little transparency and what the end result will be. Now imagine, after knowing and after putting forward their concerns and petitions here, in person in the Legislature, through their elected representatives, getting nothing in response except, "We're looking at it. We're looking at it." Imagine then being told by the sister agency here, Metrolinx, that not only will the piledriving go on ad infinitum, as it's currently set out to do, but at the end of it, instead of electric trains running along the tracks behind your homes and your businesses, will be diesel trainsâ€"polluting diesel trainsâ€"at the rate of about 400 a day, where currently about 49 pass by. Imagine that.

We have, along those tracks, just in my ridingâ€"and remember, this is not my riding alone that's going to be affected; this is going to affect everybody who lives along this rail line. In my riding alone we have new condominium developments going up right by the rails; we have Options for Homes, a wonderful endeavour, right by the rails; we have the Gladstone Hotel, certainly a go-to place for all of the artists and cultural folk in my neighbourhood and others, right by the rails. All of these are going to be affected, disastrously so, if Metrolinx goes ahead with this plan, again without consultation, again without transparencyâ€"400 diesel trains a day.

When we asked Metrolinx, "Why don't you have a town hall? Why don't you meet with the residents? Why don't you meet with the Ontario Clean Train Coalition," a group specifically set up to advocate for electric trains, they said, "Well, this is enough," as we wandered around an open gym with information, and people answering questions about the informationâ€"but nobody to engage with the public, nobody to answer their real concerns and nobody responsive to them to say why diesel and then electric. This is their plan: diesel for about 10 years, and then electric. It doesn't make any sense. It certainly wouldn't make any sense to a business person. You have one kind of train go in and then you replace the entire fleet in 10 years? It's about short-term gain. That's what the planning is here. When asked, the minister, Mr. Jim Bradley, said, "Electric trains are too expensive. Quiet piledriving is too expensive." This is the response from the minister. This is what all this public action and organization comes to: They're not worth it. That's what Jim Bradley, the transportation minister, is saying to my constituents and others: "You're not worth the extra money. Your neighbourhoods, your businesses, your homes, your families and your health aren't worth the extra money it would take to put in quieter piledriving systems, to put in electric trains right away. You're not worth it."

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Bill 163 basically carves in stone the intransigence, the lack of transparency and the lack of accountability that we're already seeing from GO-Metrolinx. It puts it directly under the control of the transportation manager and makes it completely unaccountable until 2013. It basically has kicked off every elected representative on the board.

I know the people sometimes have problems with politicians. I know that we can be the subject of much ridicule and dislike. But let me tell you, there's recourse: If you don't like what a politician or your representative does, don't vote for them; don't elect us next time. But what do we do about the bureaucrats? What do we do about the Tom Parkinsons who walk away after doing, notably, not what we would consider a wonderful job at Hydro One with $4.8 million in his pocket? He wasn't elected to that role; he was appointed to that role. You can guess that he was appointed to that role because of his political connections, but we can't get rid of him as a public. We can't hold him to account except through the minister to whom he reports. Here we have Prichard now, going to report to who? Jim Bradley, the transportation minister. Again, he's not going to be having open and transparent meetings. He's not going to be here in question period to question. He and this new corporation are going to be meeting behind closed doors, are going to be unaccountable to thoseâ€"and I have to repeat thisâ€"who are paying their salaries. We're talking about public servants hereâ€"particularly well-paid public servants, but public servants who should be accountable and who aren't accountable except through their minister, which brings it back to him and, through him, right back to Dalton McGuinty.

But the problem is, these folk go on right until after the next election. So even if another government comes in, the people's choice, let's say, it's the same old bureaucrats, the same difficult-to-get-rid-of bureaucrats, because to get rid of them, you've got to pay them sums like $4.8 million. That's why they're so hard to get rid of: They have airtight contracts. We politicians, we spokespeople for our residents and our constituents, we can be disposed of; these folk can't.

I have to say, this is a very disturbing trend that is happening not only where Bill 163 is concerned, but right across the board in government. This is the neo-Liberal style of technocratic government, where what goes on in question period doesn't really count for much, nobody really cares, because what's really governing the province are bureaucrats, high-paid bureaucrats in bureaucracies where they are unassailable, unreachable and unaccountable.

The hope, of course, of our Liberal friends across the aisle is that they'll put Liberal sympathizers in those roles and they'll do their bidding. But let me tell you, that can even backfire on them because even they won't be able to get rid of these folk if they don't do their bidding. So you have this shadow government, and that's what this is going to create. It's going to be a shadow government that's going to rule over transportation right across Ontario. Right across Ontario, all public transportation dollars are going to be ruled over by an unaccountable, non-transparent bureaucracy, a highly paid bureaucracy, friends of the government, but we can't get rid of them and we don't even get to hear from them until 2013. That's sad, and that's going to make situations like the piledriving in the West Diamond project even worse. That's going to get us electric trains even later because we have no way of knowing how much money they're going to direct to public transit itself, never mind electric versus diesel, vibratory versus diesel piledrivers. We don't have an input into that. We have no input into that anymore, except through Bradley, except through Dalton, and even then, if we get rid of them, we're still stuck with the same bureaucrats.

We in the New Democratic Party have a number of concerns about this, and so should every single Ontarian, because we know this government has a track record of putting way more money into roadsâ€"cars, let's sayâ€"than they have of putting into public transit. We've been fighting for that on this side of the House constantly. I know that our transportation critic, the member from Torontoâ€"Danforth, who did the lead on this, has been fighting for that since he was elected. But this is not going to get us any closer to that halcyon time when we have the option, many of us in Ontario, of taking public transit, which many Ontarians do not have the option of.

This agency could, in fact, in theory, put all its money into roads and none into public transit; in theory it could. In theory it can do what it wants. That's what's so frightening about this. And how are we going to challenge it? We're not going to be allowed into the board meetings; we're not going to be allowed to say whether Mr. Prichard gets a raise or whether he gets firedâ€"not we, not the average Ontarian. We can't even get rid of them in the next election. We have got to live with it and live with whatever they decide right until 2013, when they report, and then we're going to have to swallow hard and listen. I mean, it's absolutely egregious.

So like my friend from Durham, although for different reasons, we have some real concerns. Number one, as I've just said, this bill is going to reduce transparency and accountability, pure and simple. It's going to replace elected officials with bureaucrats. Bureaucrats are unaccountable to anybody.

Secondly, this bill doesn't give priority, certainly not enough priority, to public transit, which is what most Ontarians want. I remember when my husband and I used to live in Richmond Hill. Quite frankly, the GO train in those days, unless you worked 9 to 5, didn't work very well for you, so we ended up having to drive. That is the kind of situation that we need addressed in the province. This bill won't do that. In fact, this bill could put more money into highways.

Thirdly, there is real concern, and this I haven't touched on yet, that this bill will open the door to downloading costs onto municipalities without proper consultation. Well, if our experience in Parkdaleâ€"High Park is any indication of without consultation, I can tell you for sure it will. But second of all, of course, it's a nice backdoor way of the government getting out of funding public transit because they're removed, one remove, from those who are allocating the funding. We've seen this in the LHINs, and now we're going to see it with transportation and Bill 163.

This is this government's way of doing business, and, in fact, it leads to a lack of sincerity and a lack of seriousness in this very Legislature. We can see that with the change in standing orders, we can see it with the press gallery emptying out, and we can see it because instead of elected representatives, we're going to have a province run by bureaucrats behind closed doors.

Fourthly, there is concern that discussions of how to finance regional transit are being delayed up to four more years, which I talked about, 2013; conveniently, of course, and these timings are always convenient, after the next election. That's when we'll hear what the plan really is.

And fifthly, and this is where I have to disagree with my friend from Durham, this opens the door to privatization in transportation. And don't think that agenda isn't there; certainly, it is there. We've seen the complete travesty of Highway 407 and what has resulted there with privatization. Imagine a province with lots of Highway 407s. Imagine a province where privatization takes hold. If anybody has been to some countries in South America, you will know what chaos ensues when you have private companies taking over public transit. You have many different lines owned by many different companies, all going poorly in the same direction. That is the privatization model. We don't want it in Ontario. Ontarians don't want it in Ontario. But we don't know what this mystery board of the new GO-Metrolinx will want. Maybe they have friends in high places, too. Maybe they have friends who walk out of their former jobs, like Prichard did, with $9.8 million in their pockets. Again, one might claim we're being suspicious, but usually people who have jobs like that are working in large corporationsâ€"private corporations for the most part, with the exception of people like Parkinson etc.

Private corporations, private corporate folk sitting on the board, doling out private and public money, is our great fear, again, with private money going to those who have a say. I can tell you from my business background that any corporation worth investing in does not invest in anything without expectation of a profit. If they did so, you would want to withdraw any investment you have from said corporation because they're not doing their job. The question is, where does the profit come from in public transportationâ€"or anything else, for that matter? We've seen it as well in health care, where we have privately-publicly funded hospitals and the disaster, i.e. Brampton, that has wreaked.

They want profit. Where will it come from? We know it will come from us. It will come from the taxpayer, as it normally does, or it will come from the quality of transportation we see. That is probably our primary concern next to the lack of accountability and transparency, that this is in fact a backdoor method of privatizing some of what should be our public transportation strategy in Ontario.

Just to wrap up, I want to get back to the folk in my riding, my constituents, who've had to put up with the piledrivers and will put up with 400 diesel trains running past their children playing soccer, running past their hospitals, running past their businesses, running past their newly purchased condos, running past their homes, shaking their foundations to the core and polluting the air while they do so. Diesel trains pollute, end of story. They won't have a say about that. They won't be able to go to the meetings. They won't be able to kick out the people who made this happen because Mr. Bradley will point at the board and the board will point at Mr. Bradley, and the question will be, where does the accountability stop? I'm here to say to all of those residents and constituents across Ontario who are listening, I can tell you where the buck stops: It stops with Bill 163, it stops with stopping Bill 163, it stops with Jim Bradley, the transportation minister.

Please, all of those folks out there who don't want piledrivers behind your house, don't want diesel trains running past your backyard, write in to Mr. Jim Bradley. Let him know how you feel. Let him know how you feel about Bill 163 and this new mega-agency stocked with bureaucrats you won't get to talk to, you won't get to know and you won't get to hold to account. Hold someone to account. Hold Mr. Bradley, the transportation minister, to account because that's who should be held to accountâ€"and Dalton McGuinty, the Premier of this province, from whom all decisions flow.

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

Pursuant to the order of the House dated April 7, 2009, I am now required to put the question: Mrs. Jeffrey has moved third reading of Bill 163. 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.

A recorded vote being required, it will be deferred until after question period today.

Third reading vote deferred.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Orders of the day. The Minister of Northern Development.

Hon. Michael Gravelle: We have no further government business this morning.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): There being no further business, this House is in recess until 10:30 of the clock.

The House recessed from 1004 to 1030.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Mr. Bruce Crozier: It's my pleasure to welcome to the Legislature today members of the Insurance Community Action Network and the Insurance Bureau of Canada, and just to remind the members that there's a reception in the legislative dining room this evening from 5 to 7.

Mr. Charles Sousa: I'd like to welcome today the family of our page Eric Bryce from Mississauga South. In the east gallery we have his mother, Susan Bryce, his father, Robert Bryce, and his youngest sister, Laura Bryce. Welcome to Queen's Park.

Mr. Mike Colle: Also with us today we have Peter Karageorgos, who's a leading member of our very strong Greek-Canadian community in Toronto and a great worker within our public schools. Peter Karageorgos, welcome.

Mr. Tony Ruprecht: I'm delighted to introduce to you the students from the French immersion school at Regal Road public school. They are in grade 5 and their teachers are Madame Straub and Moira Esteves. Welcome.

ORAL QUESTIONS

PROTECTION OF WORKERS

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: My question is for the Premier. Premier, it's about the failure of two of your ministers to respond responsibly to abuse allegations involving a Liberal member of Parliament, Ruby Dhalla.

Premier, you indicated yesterday that the Minister of Labour will attend the federal committee hearings dealing with the issue, but after question period yesterday, the minister said in the scrum that he will confine his comments to talking about federal legislation; in other words, continued stonewalling on what transpired following his meeting with the nannies, and no explanation for his and the Minister of Education's moral and ethical failures. Premier, is that the direction your office gave to the Minister of Labour?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this again. I have a copy of the letter that was received by Minister Fonseca's office from a procedural clerk from the parliamentary committee, I gather, that invited Mr. Fonseca to attend. It says specifically that "lines of inquiry will ... touch on the live-in caregiver program as a means to facilitate the employment of migrant labour in Canada, and the minister's views of how it operates in Ontario."

I'm taking the federal government and the members on that committee at their word. I think we have a shared responsibility to find better ways to work together to provide better protections to our live-in caregivers. I think that's the purpose of the committee hearings, those are my expectations of the committee hearings, and that's why Minister Fonseca said that he would be pleased to attend.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: That's a familiar refrain: Blame it on the federal government. It sounds like a negotiation occurred here.

Premier, it's more than passing strange that only one minister who opted to keep serious abuse allegations about a prominent Liberal under wraps is appearing before the federal committee. Minister Wynne, who likes to get on her high horse about the need for school staff and teachers to report serious incidents, apparently failed to do exactly what she preaches others to do. She claims that she contradicted her own stance on reporting when it involved Ms. Dhalla, and went home for a good night's sleep.

Premier, why are you not allowing the Minister of Educationâ€"she was invited as wellâ€"to appear before the federal committee to explain why she failed these vulnerable women? Are you again picking winners and losers? Are you hanging Minister Fonseca out to dry?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I choose to take the federal government committee members at their word when they tell us they want to speak specifically about the employment of migrant labour in Canada and the minister's views of how it operates in Ontario. There is someone charged with that special responsibility in our government, and that is the Minister of Labour, Minister Fonseca. He is clearly the appropriate representative to attend, on behalf of our government, this committee hearing, and that is why he has agreed to attend.

Again, I know that my honourable colleague has a different perspective on this, but I think what we owe Ontarians and Canadians is to find a way for both levels of government to work well together to provide better protections to our live-in caregivers. We have a responsibility with respect to employment standards; they have a responsibility with respect to an immigration program. I think that we're at our best when we do these kinds of things together.

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

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: The failure of your two ministers to respond appropriately to the alarming stories from these two vulnerable women is really your failure. In opposition, you talked about the high standards of conduct that you demanded from ministers and now, in government, it seems that almost anything goes. "I have a majority. We can do whatever we want. Let them eat cake": That is today's Dalton McGuinty.

Premier, the Members' Integrity Act states that members are forbidden from promoting, or "to further another person's private interest." That's what has happened here. Your ministers attempted to further Ms. Dhalla's interests by keeping the nannies' allegations quiet.

Premier, show us that you were truthful when you talked about high standards for cabinet ministers. Fire both these ministers for conflict of interest and for failure to protect vulnerable women.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: If my honourable colleague is serious about the allegations he's making here, he knows that he can write to the Integrity Commissioner and seek her opinion on this issue.

I believe that both of my ministers acted responsibly. They attended a public event to which they had invited live-in caregivers. They listened to their stories. They heard allegations. They made it clear that there were certain means by which they could seek to follow up on those. They did not seek to assess and weigh one story against another. They did nothing more than invoke due process. I think that's a responsibility here that we have, certainly in government, to ensure that we follow due process, and both ministers respected that.

GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: Back to the Premier. Contradicting what he told voters when he was in opposition were strongly held beliefs seems to be an almost daily occurrence with this Premier, regrettably. I'd like to ask the Premier to explain why he has proposed an amendment to his recent budget bill that reduces accountability and transparency. Specifically, the Premier's amendment would remove the requirement for government advertising to contain numerical data that are supportable.

Premier, why are you so anxious to give yourself the freedom to torque information in your advertising?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Finance.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: There were a number of amendments in the budget bill dealing with government advertising which the government has withdrawn, so that we have the opportunity to work with the Provincial Auditor to ensure that the process works efficiently, still protecting, still adhering to the letter of the intent of our original legislation, which is to get rid of the kinds of government advertising that went on here prior to 2004.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: I'd like some clarity from the minister with respect to this. I would suggest that ensuring the data are supportable is the very equivalent of accountability. Simply put, the amendment that we were told had been tabled for clause-by-clause discussion on Thursday would give you the opportunity to spin a positive angle on negative policies. So I would ask the Minister of Finance to clarify: Is that amendment still on the table? Is this the intent of the government: to give themselves the ability to put their data on the table without the Auditor General having the opportunity to ensure its accuracy?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: We are withdrawing the amendments to the bill with respect to the government advertising legislation that we brought forward, in order to have more opportunity to discuss it with the Auditor General so that, as we improve the ability to oversee government advertising, we have better accountability, things move more quickly and we can have a consensus with the Auditor General on how to do that.

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

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: I'm not sure if we're getting clarity with respect to the minister's and the government's intentions here related to government advertising. We're especially concerned with respect to the initiative related to the bringing in of the McGuinty sales tax on July 1, 2010. We're concerned because there's going to be an attempt to use taxpayers' dollars to put out information to the public that provides inappropriate and inaccurate details with respect to the real cost implications for all Ontarians.

I'm asking the minister once again to clarify that that is not the intention of the government, to use taxpayers' dollars to use their spin with respect to the implications of this massive new McGuinty sales tax.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I can confirm for the member that we won't do what his government did. I will table with the House today an example of government advertising that had pictures of ministers on it, was clearly designed to influence public opinion, was clearly partisan in nature and cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

We have withdrawn the amendments in order to have the opportunity to work with the Auditor General to ensure that the kinds of abuse that occurred in government advertising prior to 2003 never happen again.

PENSION PLANS

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Premier. This government's Bill 162 removes any legal obligation it has to provide financial assistance to the Ontario pensions benefit guarantee fund.

To date, Ontario has provided a long-term repayable loan whenever the fund was insufficient to protect Ontario's pensions. Such a loan has always been repaid over time through employer premiums to the fund. How does this government justify changing the rules and backing away from the fund at a time when Ontario pensions are most at risk?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Finance.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: In fact, what the amendments do is give the government more flexibility to respond to any number of situations. The member is right: In the case of Stelco, we provided a loan of $150 million to help keep that pension alive. That member and her party voted against that. We also need to deal with the reality that "too big to fail" was perhaps the biggest failure of all. Every one of those companies that was supposed to be too big to failâ€"other than GM, and we'll have clear information on GM shortlyâ€"wound up failing.

There is a real issue with the pension benefits guarantee fund that has been underfunded for many years. GM, Nortel, AbitibiBowaterâ€"the amounts to stabilize and provide that are not present. It's incumbent on all of us to work together to try and get through these challenging circumstancesâ€"

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: This minister is not fooling anyone. What he wants is the flexibility to walk away from the fund. Up until now, Ontario has always stood behind the fund so that it can honour its claims. Now, in the midst of the worst pension crisis that this province has seen, the McGuinty government introduced new provisions in Bill 162 that explicitly say it has no obligation, under any circumstances, to provide bridge financing to the fund, even if that means the fund could not honour its claims. The Premier has made it clear that the government won't provide the same sort of assistance to the fund that it has in the past. With pensions of tens of thousands of workers at risk, why won't this government commit to standing behind the pension benefits guarantee fund?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The reality is that no government has stood behind that fund. The reality is that there's no money in that fund. The reality is that we have to be fair to not only those pensioners but to taxpayers, to those Ontarians who have seen their life savings diminished as a result of recent market conditions.

That being said, specifically in the case of General Motors, the best way to protect the pensions of General Motors workers is to keep the company viable. That's why we're at the table. That's why we have already flowed cash. That member and her party voted against those initiatives. We think that is the correct course of action. We think it's time for all parties in this Legislature to come together and acknowledge the fact that the pension benefits guarantee fund has not been properly funded since 1981.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Here's a dose of reality for the minister. The pensions of tens of thousands of workers and retirees at GM, at Chrysler, Nortel, AbitibiBowater and many other companies are at risk. At the precise time that these workers need reassurance from the government that their pensions are secure, the McGuinty government is putting forward legislation that says, "You're on your own. Your provincial government has no legal responsibility to safeguard your pensions." That's the kind of response that workers get from their government.

New Democrats think that's wrong. We think that's absolutely wrong and we're going to be introducing amendments to Bill 162 requiring the province to provide the bridge financing to the guarantee fund. My question is this: Will the Premier do the right thing by thousands of worried workers in this province and instruct government members to support these amendments when they come to a final vote at the finance committee this Thursday?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I certainly hope any amendments they put forward show more foresight than the "too big to fail" plan that they put in place in 1992.

We are attempting as a government to strike a balance, to be fair to all people, to be fair to taxpayers, to be fair to pensioners and to be fair to those people who have seen their life savings diminished as a result of challenges in financial markets. There is no easy way out of this. There is no way to simply legislate a fix. We are going to have to work together.

I would remind the member opposite that in the situation of Chrysler, the pension has been protected through the resolution of that company's financial challenges. Our government continues to work with the federal government and the government of the United States to try and stabilize General Motors. That is in fact the best way to protect pensions at that company.

CHILD CARE

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My second question is to the Premier. It's a difficult time for mothers in Ontario. Last week we heard from new mothers like Vera Trevisanello, who told us that her job was no longer there for her when she returned from maternity leave. Today, joining us in the Legislature, there are mothers who cannot find affordable child care for their children. They're not alone. Tens of thousands of Ontario families are stuck waiting for child care subsidies in this province.

When is this government going to take action to ensure that all new mothers have access to decent, affordable child care?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this issue and I know it's very important to our young families in particular. I want to provide a couple of assurances: First of all, there's a recognition that there's more work to be done. We have made some progress. The second assurance I want to provide is that mothers and dads and municipalities might be aware that the federal government had committed to some funding to preserve some 8,000 spaces. That funding is due to lapse in March of the coming year. We want to provide an assurance to parents that we will continue to provide funding right through to September so that parents know that, coming this September, they can put their kids in a program that will last for the full 12 months. We'll pick up the extra cost to provide that certainty and that breathing space for those parents.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Not only are there thousands of Ontario families waiting for child care, but another 22,000 child care spaces are at risk of being cut in September. The government's one-time ad hoc $18 million simply does not cut it. It won't save the child care spaces that are at risk. It won't provide certainty to municipalities, to child care centres and their staff and to the parents who need that. It won't do anything at all to reduce the growing waiting lists in this province. When will the government admit that there is a critical lack of affordable child care and put in place an action plan to end Ontario's child care backlog?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I want to remind my honourable colleague that there is some good news today. Ontario taxpayers, together, through their government have agreed that we will continue to fund those spaces for the following year while we continue our conversations with the federal government.

I also want to remind my honourable colleague that there are 22,000 new spaces built, including over 4,000 in Toronto; over 3,000 in northern Ontario; close to 2,100 in Hamilton and Niagara region, my colleague's community; 1,500 in eastern Ontario; 1,400 in the Peel region; 700 in Windsor; and 650 in Waterloo. That's progress, but as I say, there is more work to be done.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The McGuinty government is simply missing the boat when it comes to child care. There's nothing at all in its anti-poverty strategy around child care, nothing in its 2009 budget on child care. Ontario needs a child care program like the one in Quebec or in Manitoba. In Ontario child care costs parents $40 to $60 a day; in Quebec it costs $7 a day.

I need to remind the Premier, child care is a provincial responsibility. This government must provide young children with quality, affordable care so their parents can go back to school, can upgrade their training and skills, or perhaps just go to work. When is this Premier going to implement a comprehensive child care program that protects existing spaces and brings in at least 7,500 new spaces this year?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: The point with which I will agree, the one that my honourable colleague makes, is that there is more work to be done. But I do want to recognize as well the work that has been done. Again, we are providing parents with an assurance that we will pick up the tab for those 8,000 federally funded spaces for the coming year, to provide them with that breathing space while we continue our conversation with the federal government.

We have built 22,000 new spaces, but beyond that, there are other things we've done to help parents with young children. We are essentially doubling our Ontario child benefit from $50 to $92 per month, per child, which we think is pretty important. We have 530,000 children in smaller classes. Ten thousand more children are receiving mental health support. We have an expanded newborn screening program that is now covering 28 diseases. It's the best of its kind in the country.

I could go on, but the point is thisâ€"and I'm sure my friend would want to recognize this: We have made some progress, I think it is substantial, and we both agree there is more to be done.

TORONTO CATHOLIC DISTRICT
SCHOOL BOARD

Mrs. Joyce Savoline: To the Minister of Education: Here I have with me a copy of a letter sent to the director of education for the Toronto Catholic District School Board. It's dated August 2007 and it comes from your labour relations and governance branch. It clearly states, "Current legislation does not permit trustees to access group life, accident, medical and dental benefits that are provided to employees." And yet, Minister, the trustees of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, against the advice of your staff and board staff, proceeded to vote themselves access to these benefitsâ€"

Interjection.

Mrs. Joyce Savoline: â€"and I see you're smiling, so you know all about it.

Minister, can you tell the people of Ontario why you waited one year to address a clear-cut violation of the Education Act? Once again, you got caught by the press.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: In fact, between the fall of 2006 and the spring of 2008, when we actually put that board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board, under supervision, there was an ongoing attempt to bring that board into compliance with ministry policies.

It's a very good question in the sense that I think the public needs to know that in the fall of 2006, we appointed a special assistance team to report on the Toronto Catholic District School Board's overspending and to address the structural deficit problems that they were having. On December 6, my staff from the ministry sent a letter to all directors, talking about compliance with provincial school board expense guidelines; in January 2007, there was a motion that was approved by the board that wasn't in compliance; and in the next week, later in January, there were communications from the ministry about how the board should come into compliance. And thatâ€"

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

Mrs. Joyce Savoline: Well, Minister, I don't know how long it takes to say, "Cease and desist, and pay the money back." All this process did not serve the people of Ontario well. The truth is that you knew about this violationâ€"it's a violation of your own ministry policyâ€"and you refused to sanction the TCDSB trustees who illegally voted themselves this raise at the taxpayers' expense.

Your integrity is being compromised here, Minister, on a number of fronts: first of all, failure to report the abuse of nannies in your own community; then failure to include consequences for your principals who failed to report student-on-student violence; and failure to take action on trustees who were in clear violation of rules until a year later.

Minister, your actions are not transparent. You have not been accountable. Do you believe your conduct in two recent events qualifies you to keep your job? Your credibilityâ€"

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

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I'm going to set the personal attack aside and I am going to answer the substance of the question, because I think it's important that people understand that in so many situations in government, there is due process that must be followed. If the member opposite took a moment to speak with the member for Kitchenerâ€"Waterloo, who has also sent in supervisors to school boardsâ€"and I am personally aware of those situationsâ€"then she would understand that it is very important that a minister follow the rules and that in this situation, until it was clear that this board was not willing to comply, it was impossible, and it would have been wrong, for me to begin to initiate the process of taking over this board.

Having said that, we began in the fall of 2006 to work with this board to try to get them into compliance. It didn't work. They are under supervision, and they are under supervisionâ€"

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

PROTECTION FOR WORKERS

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: My question is to the Minister of Labour. Today, caregivers Magdalene Gordo and Richelyn Tongson testified before the House of Commons citizenship and immigration committee. These women outlined gross violations of the provincial Employment Standards Act, which included 14-hour workdays, unpaid overtime and constant harassment by their employer.

How is it that the minister allowed these abuses to take place under his watch?

Hon. Peter Fonseca: I'd like to thank the member for the opportunity to speak to what is happening before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in Ottawa.

We have said that we would like the opportunity to bring forward what we are hearing from these caregivers. We're hearing at the roundtables and we've heard at the ministry boardroom table that we have a flawed and broken live-in caregiver program. The problem with the program is that there is an imbalance between employers and employees. This profound imbalance allows for these abuses to take place. These women live in fear. They are not calling our employment standards office because they fear that they may be deported by a flawed federalâ€"

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

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: These vulnerable women disclosed almost slave-like conditions in Ontario. When asked how she felt working in the Dhalla household, Magdalene Gordo said that she was mentally tortured, and Richelyn Tongson broke down into tears. These testimonies are a direct condemnation of Dalton McGuinty's failure to enforce his own Employment Standards Act. This is shameful; the minister is shameful.

Is this the standard for employment standards in Dalton McGuinty's Ontario?

Hon. Peter Fonseca: I will not take a lecture from that member or lessons from that member when it comes to treating and protecting vulnerable workers in this province. What I will do is continue to meet with the caregivers. At that particular roundtable, where we heard from many live-in caregivers and these two in particular, we provided them with immediate access to our ministry officials through a 1-800 hotline.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): You have 10 seconds.

Hon. Peter Fonseca: I was happy to hear in that committee meeting this morning that those live-in caregivers have called the hotline and have received assistance from our ministry officials. That is the right approach, I say to the memberâ€"

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

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ASSISTANCE TO FAMILIES

Mrs. Laura Albanese: My question is for Minister of Children and Youth Services. It is very important for families to have access to high-quality, affordable child care. Since coming to office, our government has made great progress in expanding the affordability and the availability of child care, despite the federal government's cancellation of our child care agreement.

Recently, however, there have been reports that because of the federal funding shortfall, municipalities may have to reduce the number of child care spaces and fee subsidies available to parents beginning this summer. This is causing great concern in the riding of York Southâ€"Weston and beyond.

The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care is at Queen's Park today to express their concern regarding the impact of the end of the federal funding for Ontario families. Minister, could you elaborate on how the province plans to maintain the progress we've made despite the reduction in federal child care funding?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Thank you to the member for a question that is so very important for families and children in Ontario.

I am very pleased to announce that we're stepping in with $18 million to provide stability for families with kids in child care. This investment will give municipalities the support they need to maintain the existing spaces through the 2009-10 school year and into the summer. It will give us more time to continue advocating on behalf of Ontario families with the federal government. It will also provide greater stability in the system leading up to the anticipated implementation of full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds based on the recommendations of our early learning adviser, Charles Pascal.

We know that now more than ever families need this stability. We won't leave them hanging because of the federal shortfall. I am encouraging familiesâ€"

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

Mrs. Laura Albanese: Parents in my riding simply want the services to work. They are not concerned with which level of government provides them; they just want the services to be there. It's great to know that the province is coming to the table to deal with this very serious matter.

It's not just members of our community who have been asking but also municipal governments. They are on the frontline of delivering services to the most vulnerable members of society. They do the best job that they can, but, with limited resources, it's just not enough to meet the demand.

Families also, I must say, speak to me often about issues of affordable, clean housing. Access to affordable housing is fundamental to raising children who will be at their best, but municipal governments need help in meeting these demands. More than anything, they are asking for a stable funding formula that will work for them as well as for us.

Minister, what is our government doing toâ€"

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

Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Jim Watson: I thank the honourable member for the question. Minister Matthews and I appeared before the memorandum-of-understanding table with AMO, which is an organization that has been set up by Premier McGuinty to allow us to consult the municipal sector. Minister Matthews heard first-hand from AMO and the municipal leaders the challenges that they would face this year without the funding for daycare in place. I'm very pleased with the Premier's announcement and Minister Matthews's confirmation of that announcement.

On the issue of housing, I will let you know how excited the housing community was when Minister Duncan, in his budget, committed over $622 million to match the federal government's funding announcement, for a total of $1.2 billion. We were able to convince the federal government to come back to the table for housing. We hope that we're going to be able to convince the federal government to come back to the table to support child care, which is vitally needed in this province and across Canadaâ€"

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

WINE INDUSTRY

Mr. Randy Hillier: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture. As I was doing a little research for the question today, I typed into Google "Dalton McGuinty's promises" and it came back, "Did you mean 'broken promises?'" Then it came up with the top 50 list of broken promises. It was things like the rollback of tolls and coal-fired plants.

Anyway, Minister, last week, I asked you about Bill 132 and the sale of fruit wines at farmers' markets. You said that it's in committee, and your House leader has promised swift passage. But I have a letter from your Minister of Government Services and he says that he won't allow the sale of fruit wines at farmers' markets.

Minister, which one of you three are telling the truth? Are any of you telling the truth?

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I just ask the honourable member to withdraw all three of those comments, please.

Mr. Randy Hillier: Withdraw.

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

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: I appreciate the opportunity to clarify for the members of this House and for the honourable member. The bill that he inquired of me about last week has had second reading debate, so it is now up to the House leaders to decide where the bill and when the bill and if the bill will go further.

I, as Minister of Agriculture, have made it very clear, I've spoken with the fruit winery people, and I have some great appreciation for the points that they have made and the fact that they have talked to me about establishing pilot projects for the sale of fruit wines. That is an idea that I have indicated publicly I support. I stand by that, and that is the truth.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Randy Hillier: Again to the minister: Here is a letter dated April 28 from the Minister of Government Services to Mr. Bert Andrews. "My ministry does not have any plans to allow the sale of fruit wines at farmers' markets."

We've heard three different tunes and three different stories. Where I come from, honourable people are honest. There are no lies or misleading and theâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I'd just ask the honourable member to withdraw those comments, please.

Mr. Randy Hillier: Misgivings. Dear ministerâ€"

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): No, you need to say withdraw.

Mr. Randy Hillier: I withdraw.

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

Mr. Randy Hillier: Dear minister, will you ask for forgiveness and apologize to this House and the countrymen for your government's misleading statements?

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I ask the honourable member to withdraw that last comment, please.

I ask the honourable member for the second time to withdraw the comment, please.

I ask the honourable member for the third time to withdraw the comment, please.

I therefore will have to name the member from Lanarkâ€"Frontenacâ€"Lennox and Addington, Randy Hillier, and ask the Sergeant at Arms to escort him from the chamber, please.

Mr. Hillier was escorted from the chamber.

SERVICES EN FRANÇAIS /
FRENCH-LANGUAGE SERVICES

Mme France Gélinas: Jeudi dernier, le commissaire aux services en français, M. François Boileau, a déposé son premier rapport spécial sur la planification des services de santé en français en Ontario. Ma question est très simple : qu'est-ce que le ministre de la Santé a l'intention d'en faire ?

Hon. David Caplan: First of all, I want to thank the member very much. I want to thank the French language commissioner for his report. I'd like to let the member know that our government is committed to ensuring that all Ontarians receive the highest quality of health care, particularly those in the francophone community.

I'd like to thank the commissioner for his report. We are presently reviewing it and looking at its recommenddations. Further to that end, I've set up a working group led by Charles Beer, a former MPP and minister in this place. This group brings together members from the francophone community, from local health integration networks, from the Ministry of Health and from the Ontario francophone association to gather input about the approach to local health integration network francophone community engagement. It's very important to me that as a government we understand that we have a special obligation to two groups: our Franco-Ontarians and toâ€"

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

Mme France Gélinas: Le comité dont le ministre nous parle, présidé par M. Charles Beer, avait déjà été mis en place avant que le comité ait fait son rapport. Le rapport du commissaire démontre clairement l'urgence d'agir. La communauté francophone veut que les quatre réseaux existants des services de santé en français soient le mécanisme d'engagement des RLISS envers eux.

Étant donné la réponse du ministre à ma première question, ma deuxième question est encore plus simple : est-ce qu'on doit en déduire, par la réponse du ministre, qu'il n'a pas l'intention de faire quoi que ce soit avec les recommandations du commissaire ?

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Hon. David Caplan: In fact, it's fully my intent to follow the legislation that was passed in this House, that we set up a special arrangement to be able to consult and to work, to plan and deliver services where we have two very special obligations, one with our First Nation partners, and the other with the Ontario francophone community. We certainly will be doing this, and my intent is to make sure that we get this regulation right, which is why we are making a tremendous effort, along with my colleague the minister of francophone affairs, to work with members of the francophone community to establish that relationship and the legal framework that it will work under.

I know that there is a lot of input which has gone into this, I know that the ministry has worked hard, and I know that it was because of the efforts of my colleague that the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner was created, to improve the overall delivery of French-language services in the province of Ontario.

As I said, I look forward to reviewing the reportâ€"

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

NURSES

Mr. Bruce Crozier: My question is for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Yesterday marked the beginning of National Nursing Week in Canada, and I'm pleased to say that today is International Nurses Day. The day commemorates all of the important work nurses do in health care systems around the world.

There are many qualified health professionals who have been trained and educated abroad who want to practise in Ontario, and I know that many of these nurses have an aptitude and willingness to work in Ontario's health care system. They could help fill many nursing positions in the province.

I'm asking the minister to tell the House what this government is doing to help internationally trained and educated nurses get the necessary training they need to practise in Ontario.

Hon. David Caplan: I'd like to thank the member for the question; it's an important one. And I'd like to thank my colleague for taking the time to mention International Nurses Day, because it gives me a chance to express the appreciation that I have and that members, at least on this side of the House, have for Ontario nurses. They work tirelessly to keep the province's health care system strong, and our government is working hard to help internationally educated nurses get the skills they need to work in Ontario.

Our government has already invested nearly $7 million in a program called CARE, Creating Access to Regulated Employment. It's a bridge training project for internationally trained nurses. The program helps to prepare nurses to take the Canadian nursing registration exam.

We also created the Access Centre for Internationally Educated Health Professionals, to help nurses learn about the steps they need to take to practise professionally in Ontario.

I'm determined to continue helping internationally trained nurses find work in Ontario. They're making our healthâ€"

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

Mr. Bruce Crozier: The initiative to help train internationally educated nurses sounds promising, and I'm sure that the Ontario health care system will benefit.

My constituents, for example, are encouraged by the recent announcement of a nurse-practitioner-led clinic in the riding of Essex. I know that this is a new way of delivering health care, and one that has seen a lot of success in Sudbury, for example. My constituents are pleased to have access to more primary health care, but are seeking clarification about the role that a nurse practitioner can play in the community.

I also understand that yesterday, Minister, you made an announcement that would expand on the range of things that nurse practitioners can do for patients. Please tell the House your vision for nurse practitioners in Ontario, and why you think it's important to give them an extended role.

Hon. David Caplan: The member from Essex asks another excellent question, and I want to thank him for an important question about our hard-working nurses.

We've committed to creating 25 nurse-practitioner-led clinics around this province, making Ontario a leader in Canada. Nurse-practitioner-led clinics are locally driven, primary health care delivery organizations. They include registered nurses, family physicians and a range of other health care professionals committed to providing comprehensive, accessible, coordinated family health care services.

Yesterday, I had the privilege to introduce Bill 179 in this House. If passed, it would allow nurse practitioners to set or cast a fracture, and dispense, mix or sell certain drugs to manage patient health.

Let there be no doubt, this government is committed to Ontario nurses. We're going to keep training them. We're going to keep hiring them. Our province depends on their skill and expertise, and our greatâ€"

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

NORTHERN ONTARIO DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Norm Miller: I have a question for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Minister, two weeks ago, I asked your colleague the Minister of Economic Development about $358 million that was given to Ontario from the federal government as part of the community development trust fund. To refresh your memory, the fund is intended to help one-industry towns like most of the towns in northern Ontario that are currently suffering. In light of your colleague's comments last week about picking winners and losers, can you tell me if any of this community development trust fund is being spent to help northern communities?

Hon. Michael Gravelle: To the Minister of Economic Development.

Hon. Michael Bryant: The gist of your question was directed toward the idea that the government is engaged in activist efforts to try and promote communities across this province by recognizing that we are in competition with other jurisdictions that are making investments by way of loans and grants in order to attract those businesses to those communities.

I can say without any doubt that for all those announcements that the member would have stood up and celebrated in his community because of the investments that government has made to his community, to the businesses and to the jobs thereâ€"I can assure the member that we will continue to provide that support to his community and all northern communities as we continue to make the northern Ontario economy as strong as we possibly can, using every single tool in the tool kit. At the end of the day, the members across the way know very well that they will stand up, smile and celebrate those investments, every single one of them.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Norm Miller: Minister, maybe you could send the question back to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, because I'm trying to find out if any of the $358 million was spent in the north.

I was up in Englehart last week and spoke with the mayor of Elk Lake, Terry Fiset. He told me he had seen the question I asked two weeks ago. He saw your answer, and he still didn't know if any money was going to the north, so I'm trying to find out if any of this $358 million went to the north.

The federal government's website states, "Provincial and territorial governments are encouraged to report directly to their constituents on the expenditures financed and outcomes achieved with the funding provided through the community development trust" fund.

Minister, why hasn't this been done? For the second time, could this government please tell the members of the Legislature which communities received money, how much did they get, and how much of the $358 million is left? Did any of it go to the north?

Hon. Michael Bryant: I happily refer this to the Minister of Northern Development.

Hon. Michael Gravelle: I think it's a great opportunity for me to remind the member opposite, indeed, of the incredible economic contribution we've made through the northern Ontario heritage fund. Since 2003, when our government took office, we have made $400 million in investments, leveraging $1.2 billion in funding, which has gone towards creating over 9,000 jobs in northern Ontario, many of the projects in the member's riding, and we are very proud of that.

We are very proud of the fact as well that our government, the McGuinty government, is supporting an increase in the northern Ontario heritage fund: $60 million last year, $80 million this year and, in fact, going to $100 million. Certainly we have made extraordinary investments in northern Ontario, a program that we have supported greater than any other government, and we're extremely pleased about the jobsâ€"

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

TAXATION

Mr. Michael Prue: My question is for the Minister of Finance. In my riding, a local small business owner and his clients will become the latest victims of the wrong-headed tax grab, the HST. My constituent Lou Martinez owns a fitness club for kids, kids who come from hard-working families who understand the lifetime health benefits of being physically active. Mr. Martinez says, "We have been trying to convince parents that children's health is important ... and we are seeing an increase in childhood obesity rates."

Why is this government making it harder for families to do the right thing and encourage physical fitness from a young age by adding an 8% tax?

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Hon. Dwight Duncan: In fact, we're giving that same family a personal tax cut that will more than offset the amounts of money they would spend to cover the single sales tax. That's why the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations have supported this initiative.

I'd also remind the member that that small business owner will see his small business tax cut by almost 20%. I hope that he will pass those savings on to those customers who are using that service.

This is the right package for the times to help get our economy back on track. We believe that this tax reform package will leave people in a better financial position and help this economy grow stronger and create more jobs in the future.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Michael Prue: I will pass your comments and a copy of today's Hansard to Mr. Martinez.

My constituent has pointed out the irony: The Liberals' unfair tax grab on kids' fitness programs will cancel out the federal children's fitness tax credit. He's also very concerned about his business's long-term viability, given that the HST will increase the cost of his programs by 8%. He says, "If I thought my customers would tolerate an 8% increase, then I would've raised the price myself. Mr. McGuinty is asking me to be his tax collector by charging the families that walk through my doorsâ€"the problem is they can always leave and I predict a great many will."

Will the minister do the right thing here today and axe the tax for children's programs?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: This tax reform package will create jobs in the future. It will give the people the incomes they need to send their children to important programs like this.

Given the crisis in the world economy and what we've all experienced in the last year, the same old same old from that party just isn't going to work. You need to take a different approach. You need to take the approach that four other provinces have taken, that every other country within the OECD, save and except the United States, has done. This is a balanced tax package that will see 93% of Ontarians paying less overall in taxes. That's a good policy. That's the right policy. It's about jobs, and it's about future growth.

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

Mr. Dave Levac: My question is for the Minister of Research and Innovation. There's absolutely no doubt that jurisdictions around the world are facing tough decisions and choices in the face of the current economic crisis. In these difficult economic times, some governments believe it's easy to cut funding for science research because it doesn't get a lot of votes. Some governments have chosen to cut science funding. For instance, the federal government recently cut the budgets of the three key federal funding agencies and provided no new funding for Genome Canada.

Some governments do get it. They want to build their future. President Obama's recent commitment to invest 3% of GDP on research shows the US and the world that President Obama understands Ontario's drive to the knowledge economy.

In looking to that future while we're facing these challenges, can the minister tell us what Ontario's stance is going to be? Are you going to walk away from our scientists, or are you going to build our future?

Hon. John Wilkinson: I say to my friend, we are going to continue to stand by our scientists, and we're going to continue to support them. In the face of this economic crisis, this is no time for us to stop investing in our future. We say to Washington and to the world that we and our best are willing to collaborate with you, but there will be no poaching of our best in this province allowed. That's why earlier this month I was pleased to join a dozen of our world-renowned researchers who stood with our government as we announced the new $100-million global leadership round in genomics and life sciences. This announcement sent a very clear signal to the world that we will continue to keep our leadership position, that we're willing to collaborate with the very best around the world and that we believe in the transformative power of science. Despite the signals sent by other governments, we have sent the strongest signalâ€"

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

Mr. Dave Levac: I want to thank the minister for his determination to build our future and this government's commitment to do so. In the article entitled "It's Easy Seeing Green: Scientists Turn Stem Cells Bright Green for Study Purposes," the Canadian Press reported a breakthrough involving a method that turns stem cells green for study in laboratories. Dr. James Ellis, the project's lead investigator at the Hospital for Sick Children, said, "It's like having a spotlight on a person in a crowd in the dark, so you can go straight and find that person in that crowd."

Dr. Michael Rudnicki, scientific director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network, says that the research allows scientists to purify cells "mechanically and otherwise, and also to readily identify them." The researchers have already used this technique, taking skin cells from a patient with Rett syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, and reprogramming them.

This is the type of stuff that's going on right here in Ontario to continue to foster the quality of researchâ€"

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

Hon. John Wilkinson: I say again to my friend that new ideas generate the new jobs of the future for our children and our grandchildren. That's why we committed last year to Ontario's innovation agenda, a commitment of some $3.2 billion, because innovation is one of the driving forces of the 21st-century economy.

I want to say to the Minister of Finance that last month he was able to provide an investment of some $715 million, $400 million of which has been earmarked toward research, both basic and applied, and another $250 million for a new emerging technologies fund. All of these investments are designed to ensure that there are going to be those jobs for our kids.

When I go to Tim Hortons and talk to my constituents about this, they say, "The world is changing. Thank you for investing in the future of our children and our grandchildren." They get it at Tim Hortons.

CHILDREN'S MENTAL
HEALTH SERVICES

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: My question is to the Minister of Children and Youth Services, and I'm hoping she'll be able to help the kids in my community today. The Centre Roberts/Smart Centre, which saves kids at risk from self-harm and suicide, is about to close without your help. It might be forced into bankruptcy without provincial aid, and last year alone they spent $200,000 more than they had to save kids' lives.

In my opinion, this is work that we need to continue to fund in this province. This chamber has been bailing out industry; I need to count on you and my community needs to count on you to step up to the plate to save the Centre Roberts/Smart Centre from closing, to save the kids at risk not only in the city of Ottawa but right across the province of Ontario. Can we count on you to index their provincial transfer payments?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I want to assure the member opposite that I am very concerned about this situation and that I have instructed my ministry staff to work with the Roberts/Smart Centre to find a way to continue to provide services for kids who very definitely need them. We are committed to providing children and youth with mental health challenges and special needs with the supports they need to achieve their potential.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the board and the staff at the Roberts/Smart Centre for the work they do for kids in their community. We have been working with them for a number of years to help them become sustainable. A review and subsequent reorganization occurred in 2005 in the hope that it would put them on better financial footing.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Norman W. Sterling: The end of the month is coming nigh, and the board has decided to start bankruptcy proceedings on May 30 in order to protect the 150 people who work there. Gordon Floyd, executive director of Children's Mental Health Ontario, says, "It is one of the few agencies in the province that has residential treatment for francophone children. It is generally serving kids at the deepest end." Madam Minister, we can't wait a week. We can't wait a day. When are you going to give these people assurance that they can meet their budget needs now so we can protect all kids, including francophone kids in the Ottawa area?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: As I said, I am very concerned about this. My ministry staff is working hard to make sure that kids get the services they need. I must say I am delighted to see that the members of the opposition party are now concerned about children's mental health. When they were in government, they froze funding for mental health services. We have restored funding for mental health services, we are improving services for kids, and I welcome their support for kids with mental health challenges.

CHILDREN'S MENTAL
HEALTH SERVICES

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour le premier ministre. Last year, half of the children and youth in Ontario who needed mental health services could not get them. The children's mental health agencies cannot meet the needs of Ontario children and as we just heard, the Roberts/Smart Centre in Ottawa, in the Premier's hometown, is close to closing its doors because of a lack of funding. What will the Premier of this government do to ensure that this important centre is not forced to close?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Thank youâ€"

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Children and Youth Services.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I'm very sorry, Premier. I'm anxious to answer this question.

Again, I thank the member opposite for the question. As I said in the previous question, we are aware of the situation. We are working with the Roberts/Smart Centre. We are committed to maintaining services for kids in the Ottawa area who have serious mental health challenges. It is good work, it is important work and we are committed to continue to find a solution to this situation.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: It would be more reassuring if the minister was to make the announcement that they will continue to fund the centre. It's hard to believe that the government is serious about fixing the mental health system for children when Ottawa's only residential program is facing closure; when funding for children's mental health has been frozen for 12 of the last 15 years and the system is at the breaking point; when a residential youth facility in Hamilton closed in March; when, in London, mindyourmind.ca closed on May 1; and now in Ottawa, the Roberts/Smart Centre is in peril. When the need is so great and more must be done, how can this government justify its inaction?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I certainly reject the characterization that this is a government of inaction. In fact, we have increased funding for children's mental health by 20% since we were elected. Is there more to do? Absolutely, yes. We have a very ambitious approach to children's mental health. We are at the final stages of actually determining what services we provide across the province, which is the first step in the transformation of children's mental health in this province.

I can assure the member opposite and all people in Ontario that children's mental health is a very high priority for this government and will continue to be so.

ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS

Ms. Sylvia Jones: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The 10 order paper questions that I tabled on March 2 and March 3 have not been responded to within 24 sessional days, as set out in page 48 of the standing orders, and I seek your assistance in getting those answers from the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Minister of Children and Youth Services.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I thank the honourable member for her point of order, and she is indeed correct.

I would like to remind the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Minister of Children and Youth Services that you are required under standing order 97(d) to file an answer to a written question within 24 sitting days. Your responses are now overdue. I would ask that you give this House some indication as to when the response will be forthcoming.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I can assure the member that we will have the response in very short order.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I will do what I can to make sure that the honourable member receives the answer in a timely fashion.

DEFERRED VOTES

GREATER TORONTO
AND HAMILTON AREA
TRANSIT IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR L'AMÉNAGEMENT
DU RÉSEAU DE TRANSPORT EN COMMUN
DE LA RÉGION DU GRAND TORONTO
ET DE HAMILTON

Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 163, An Act to amend the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Act, 2006 and to make consequential amendments to another Act / Projet de loi 163, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2006 sur la Régie des transports du grand Toronto et apportant des modifications corrélatives à une autre loi.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Call in the members; this will be a 10-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1133 to 1143.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Members please take their seats.

All those in favour will rise one at a time and be recorded by the Clerk.

Ayes

Aggelonitis, Sophia

Albanese, Laura

Arnott, Ted

Arthurs, Wayne

Bailey, Robert

Balkissoon, Bas

Bartolucci, Rick

Bentley, Christopher

Berardinetti, Lorenzo

Best, Margarett

Bradley, James J.

Broten, Laurel C.

Brown, Michael A.

Brownell, Jim

Bryant, Michael

Cansfield, Donna H.

Caplan, David

Carroll, Aileen

Chudleigh, Ted

Colle, Mike

Crozier, Bruce

Dickson, Joe

Dombrowsky, Leona

Duguid, Brad

Duncan, Dwight

Dunlop, Garfield

Flynn, Kevin Daniel

Fonseca, Peter

Gerretsen, John

Gravelle, Michael

Hardeman, Ernie

Hoy, Pat

Jaczek, Helena

Jeffrey, Linda

Johnson, Rick

Jones, Sylvia

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Leal, Jeff

Levac, Dave

MacLeod, Lisa

Matthews, Deborah

McGuinty, Dalton

McMeekin, Ted

McNeely, Phil

Meilleur, Madeleine

Miller, Norm

Milloy, John

Mitchell, Carol

Moridi, Reza

Murdoch, Bill

Naqvi, Yasir

O'Toole, John

Orazietti, David

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Pendergast, Leeanna

Phillips, Gerry

Pupatello, Sandra

Qaadri, Shafiq

Ramal, Khalil

Rinaldi, Lou

Runciman, Robert W.

Ruprecht, Tony

Sandals, Liz

Savoline, Joyce

Sergio, Mario

Shurman, Peter

Smith, Monique

Smitherman, George

Sousa, Charles

Sterling, Norman W.

Takhar, Harinder S.

Van Bommel, Maria

Watson, Jim

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wynne, Kathleen O.

Yakabuski, John

Zimmer, David

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Those opposed?

Nays

Bisson, Gilles

Gélinas, France

Horwath, Andrea

Kormos, Peter

Tabuns, Peter

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 79; the nays are 5.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I declare the motion carried.

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

Third reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): This House stands recessed until 3 p.m. this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1147 to 1500.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

CEMETERIES

Mr. Bill Murdoch: On February 19, the assembly passed second reading of Bill 149, An Act to protect Ontario's inactive cemeteries, introduced by the MPP for Stormontâ€"Dundasâ€"South Glengarry.

Since the unanimous support of this bill on second reading, my office has had numerous calls from constituents wanting to know when the bill will be sent to committee and then receive third reading and royal assent.

Bill 149 is an important bill in my riding of Bruceâ€"Greyâ€"Owen Sound. Like many of my fellow colleagues, my riding has a number of inactive pioneer cemeteries. These cemeteries are for many people their only link to heritage and ancestry.

Many local constituents have expressed to me their fears over the years of these pioneer cemeteries being ripped up or relocated as some of the cemeteries are located in prime real estate locations. Though nothing, thankfully, has happened so far, many constituents worry that it could.

Bill 149 would protect these pioneer cemeteries in my riding and those throughout Ontario. Bill 149 would make sure that the heritage cemeteries, such as Old Durham Road black cemetery outside of Ceylon, would be protected and that important part of Grey's history would be kept for generations to come. The Old Durham Road black cemetery is only one of the many pioneer cemeteries in my riding that need to be protected for generations to come.

I ask today that the Liberals bring Bill 149 to committee and allow it to make its way to third reading.

I would also like to thank the MPP for Stormontâ€"Dundasâ€"South Glengarry, Jim Brownell, for introducing such an important bill to preserve Ontario's heritage.

JUNIOR HOCKEY

Mr. Dave Levac: I rise today to recognize an organization that has brought another championship home to Brantfordâ€"hockey, that is. On Saturday, May 2, the Brantford Golden Eagles defeated the Stoney Creek Warriors 3 to 2 in game 5 of their best-of-seven series to claim the Sutherland Cup, four games to one.

The Sutherland Cup is a championship for the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. The cup returns home to Brantford after a 68-year absence from my communityâ€"last won by the Brantford Lions in 1941.

There are so many incredible stories that surround this season's championship run. There's the team captain, Mike McKinley, who spent the last six years with the team working to lead Brantford from the league's worst record to the best of the best.

There's star forward Alexander Szczechura, who led the team in scoring both in the regular season and the playoffs, all the while playing under the wing of his brother Paul, who made his NHL debut in the Tampa Bay Lightning. And there's goaltender Daryl Borden, an Ontario Hockey League cast-off who came home to backstop the Eagles to the title.

I would like to congratulate the coaching staff, led by Scott Rex, general manager Mike Down and the rest of his executive team, and of course the owners and the players themselves. Thank you for working so hard to bring another cup back to Brantford, the Sutherland Cup.

We celebrated this great victory by holding a Golden Eagle party in Harmony Square, showing the team that we thank them and appreciate them. Our entire community says thanks for pulling together. The sky's the limit. Way to go, Golden Eagles.

RIDING OF WELLINGTONâ€"HALTON HILLS

Mr. Ted Arnott: Each spring, I send my constituents an annual report of my activities and my efforts on their behalf. In this year's newsletter I included a survey, and today I wish to share some of the comments I received in response.

"Taxpayers should never be asked to bail out inefficient, non-productive companies," said a man from Erin.

Another man, from Georgetown, had an ominous warning for the Premier: "If the McGuinty government harmonizes the sales tax with the federal sales tax, the Liberal Party will have lost my vote/backing forever."

Some took the time to compliment my staff.

"Just want to say a big thank you to your office staff. They helped [me] get my birth certificate," a woman from Ariss told me.

Said one man from Puslinch, "Let's do what's right for the province and the people, not the party. Can we not just work together for the good of all?"

This from Acton: "I commend Mr. Arnott's efforts in regards to the emancipation bill, disabled, as well as the economy."

Another constituent, from Ballinafad, said, "Thanks, Ted, keep up the good work."

This was balanced by criticism from Elora, from a person who said to me, "You obviously are not looking very closely at what is taking place if all you see is doom and gloom."

Another resident of Fergus summed it up this way: "Personally I do not trust the current provincial government.... Is it getting worse? You can bet on it."

I want to thank everyone who replied for providing me with their suggestions, for my best advice comes from the people that I'm so privileged to represent.

CANADIAN FORCES

Ms. Leeanna Pendergast: On April 24, I had the distinct honour of attending a special welcome home gala event, entitled Celebrate Me Home: A Hero's Welcome Gala, at Bingemans in Kitchener.

Colonel-in-Chief Prince Andrew, Duke of York, welcomed home his troops based in the Waterloo region. This was the largest return of veterans to our area since the Korean War. The veterans, almost all reservists in the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, served in Afghanistan for six to nine months.

This wonderful event was attended not only by veterans, dignitaries and the public, but also by Prince Andrew, who is the regiment's Colonel-in-Chief. Owen Lackenbauer is the honorary colonel, and Tom Jenkins, CEO of Open Text, is their honorary lieutenant colonel.

Along with the 16 local Fusiliers, there are also 42 returning soldiers from the region who are serving in other units. They're part of a larger group of 2,500 soldiers who are returning home, from late March until early May, as part of regular troop deployments and rotation.

This homecoming is an important opportunity for our community to recognize the commitment of members of the Canadian Forces and their families to defend Canadian values. Thank you all for your continued dedication and sacrifice.

FISHING DERBY

Mr. John O'Toole: I'd like to first congratulate the sponsors, volunteers and all who contributed to the success of the Huck Finn Fishing Day, held on April 25 in my riding of Durhamâ€"in fact, in Uxbridge. This is the seventh year of the event, which takes place at the centre of the town, at Elgin Pond, and attracts thousands of young anglers and their families.

The fishing derby was initiated by Pat Higgins, of Canadian Tire in Uxbridge. Along with Canadian Tire, some of the community-minded sponsors include the Durham Regional Police Association; the Uxbridge Times-Journal; the Optimist Club of Uxbridge; Blitzcreek Pro Fishing; of course, the province of Ontario; the Uxbridge Legion, led by Jack Ballinger, who is also a local councillor; as well as Mayor Bob Shepherd, who attended, Gord Highet and Howie Herrema.

I'd also like to take special note and thank the Minister of Natural Resources, Donna Cansfield, for taking time to visit and celebrate the kids' fishing day this year. The minister saw first-hand the community's commitment to the stewardship and enjoyment of Ontario's environment and the outdoors.

Fishing day combines fun and learning, along with an opportunity for families to get together for a great event offered by the community and all of the volunteers.

I'd like to thank the minister personally for making the effort to come and celebrate kids' fishing day in Uxbridge this year.

FIBROMYALGIA AND
CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: I rise today to bring the attention of the members of this House and all Ontarians to the estimated one million Canadian men, women and children who suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, commonly known as FM-CFS.

May 12 is national awareness day for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. FM means aching, throbbing, shooting and stabbing pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Most FM patients say that they ache all over their body. CFS sufferers experience debilitating exhaustion, not reversed by rest, no matter how much they get. Some 576 new patients are diagnosed every week, although nearly all are initially misdiagnosed. These illnesses afflict more women than men, but are prevalent in people of all ages. There is no known means to avoid the illness. There is no known cause. There is no known cure.

Organizations like FM-CFS Canada are working with Canada's leading medical associations and experts to advocate on behalf of those afflicted by this disease, as well as to develop educational materials to help patients learn to deal with all aspects of their illness and improve their quality of life.

I'm proud to know that FM-CFS Canada was founded in Ottawa in 1996 and continues their good work from there on behalf of Canadians, coast to coast to coast.

Especially, I wish to recognize the dedication of President Graham Mayes, Vice-President Ed Napke, M.D., and Kasia Majewski, a friend and constituent who inspired me to raise awareness for FM-CFS through this statement.

I encourage all members and all Ontarians to visit www.fm-cfs.ca for more information on this difficult condition.

1510

CITY OF PETERBOROUGH

Mr. Jeff Leal: I've stood in this House many times over the past five years and spoken about Peterborough and why it's such a great place to live, work and raise a family. In the past, I spoke about the people who are the heart and soul of our community; I've spoken about their generosity and their bravery. I've spoken about our innovative businesses, our schools, colleges and universities. I've talked about our health care system, our beautiful new hospital and the success of our family health teams. I've spoken about the beauty of the Trent-Severn waterway, Little Lake and the Otonabee River that flow through our city and the surrounding countryside. I've spoken about our sports teams and cultural events.

Well, I'm not the only one who has noticed what a great place Peterborough is. Others have taken into account our great weather, job market and real estate prices. They consider our low crime rate. They consider our transit system and our bike and walking trails that snake through our downtown core.

Based on the above items, Peterborough was ranked ninth out of 154 best places to live in Canada by MoneySense magazine. I've always said that Peterborough was one of the best places to live in this country, and I was right.

LOISIRS DANS LES RÉGIONS DU NORD

M. Gilles Bisson: Ah, monsieur le Président, vous attendez avec anticipation le député de Timminsâ€"Baie James, qui va faire sa déclaration. On sait que le printemps est arrivé parce qu'on commence à le voir à travers les régions du nord. Le monde commence à s'exciter. La glace est partie des lacs; la neige est partie. Ça veut dire que le monde se prépare, en effet, pour faire ce qu'on aime faire le mieux dans ce pays, dans cette province : être en contact avec ce qui se passe autour de nous autres, à nos chalets et dans les régions où on fait du camping.

On dit au monde qui se prépare de prendre toutes les précautions nécessaires pour s'assurer d'être sauvegardé quand ça vient à ce qu'on va faire une fois arrivé, et il faut s'assurer qu'à la fin de la journée, on respecte notre environnement en même temps. À tous ceux qui se préparent pour aller au chalet on souhaite un bon été, et assurez-vous que ça va être un bon temps pour tous.

STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT

Mr. David Zimmer: Ontarians know that education is a key builder of strong individuals, economies and communities. That's why it gives me great pleasure to recognize the McGuinty government's latest commitment to our children and their future. The recent announcement of proposed changes to the Education Act will make student achievement a pillar of our education system and ensure that students have all the skills to succeed.

School board leadership is important to student achievement. The proposed changes will:

First, clarify the mandate and duties of school boards to emphasize their responsibility for student achievement and strengthen their accountability to the public.

Second, clarify the roles of individual trustees, board chairs and directors of education. Providing clarity on their responsibilities will allow them to maintain their focus on the primary goal of student achievement and well-being.

Third, support good governance practices, including establishing audit committees and adopting a provincial code of conduct for trustees. This code will establish best practices and give boards the tools they need to address improper behaviour.

This legislation underscores the McGuinty Liberals' commitment to the educational achievement of Ontario students. I applaud the government for this initiative. We will continue to work hard to ensure that education in this province is the best that it can be.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

CAPPING EXECUTIVE
COMPENSATION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR LE PLAFONNEMENT
DE LA RÉMUNÉRATION
DES CADRES SUPÉRIEURS

Ms. Horwath moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 180, An Act to cap executive compensation / Projet de loi 180, Loi portant sur le plafonnement de la rémunération des cadres supérieurs.

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 member for a short statement.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The bill provides that any corporation that receives a grant or loan from Ontario shall not compensate any officer, director, executive or employee of the corporation in an amount greater than $400,000. The bill requires that the prohibition be reflected in any contract signed between Ontario and a corporation regarding the grant or loan. If compensation greater than $400,000 is given, Ontario may require repayment of the grant and may seize and dispose of any of the corporation's assets for the purpose of recovering the value of the grant or loan.

HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
(AFTERMARKET BRAKE PAD STANDARDS), 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 MODIFIANT
LE CODE DE LA ROUTE
(NORMES RELATIVES AUX PLAQUETTES
DE FREIN DE RECHANGE)

Mrs. Sandals moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 181, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act with respect to aftermarket brake pad standards and specifications / Projet de loi 181, Loi modifiant le Code de la route en ce qui a trait aux normes et aux caractéristiques relatives aux plaquettes de frein de rechange.

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 member for a short statement.

Mrs. Liz Sandals: The bill amends the Highway Traffic Act to require that motor vehicles, other than motorcycles, that are equipped with after-market brake pads be equipped with brake pads that meet the prescribed safety standards and specifications and do not contain asbestos.

STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING
DAY ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR LA JOURNÉE
POUR L'ÉLIMINATION
DE LA TRAITE DES PERSONNES

Mr. Levac moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 182, An Act to proclaim Stop Human Trafficking Day / Projet de loi 182, Loi proclamant la Journée pour l'élimination de la traite des personnes.

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 member for a short statement.

Mr. Dave Levac: The bill, if passed, will proclaim May 1 in each year as Stop Human Trafficking Day. In a given year, there are 2.5 million victims of human trafficking worldwide and 1.2 million of them are children. Naomi Baker from Canada Fights Human Trafficking, and a local Brantfordian, estimates that there are between 600 and 800 victims of human trafficking annually in Ontario alone. Proclaiming May 1 as Stop Human Trafficking Day would ask us to give it consideration. Why May 1? That was the birth date of Dr. Emily Stowe, our first female doctor in Ontario, who was a suffragette as well.

MOTIONS

COMMITTEE SITTINGS

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I believe we have unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding the Standing Committee on Justice Policy.

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

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that the Standing Committee on Justice Policy be authorized to meet at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13, 2009.

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

Motion agreed to.

PETITIONS

GREEN POWER GENERATION

Mr. Bill Murdoch: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the residents of Bruceâ€"Greyâ€"Owen Sound believe that Bill 150, Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009, is a new Liberal tax grab;

"Whereas a London Economics report showed that the increase in hydro bills could be at least $1,200 per household per year plus 8% for the new HST;

"Whereas the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure has not stated where or how all the supposed new green jobs are going to be created;

"Whereas no scientific studies have been done to prove or disprove the health effects of living near wind turbines;

"Whereas the Liberals have failed to fully think out Bill 150 and how it will affect municipalities;

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

"That the Liberal government should delay the implementation of Bill 150 and provide the citizens of Ontario with further research on the above-mentioned concerns."

I agree with this and sign it.

1520

WORKPLACE HARASSMENT

Ms. Andrea Horwath: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas workplace harassment (physical/psychological) and violence are linked to the mental and physical ill-health and safety of workers in Ontario; and

"Whereas harassment and violence need to be defined as violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act so that it is dealt with as quickly and earnestly by employers as other health and safety issues; and

"Whereas employers will have a legal avenue and/or a legal obligation to deal with workplace harassment and violence in all its forms, including psychological harassment; and

"Whereas harassment poisons a workplace, taking many formsâ€"verbal/physical abuse, sabotage, intimidation, bullying, sexism and racism, and should not be tolerated; and

"Whereas harassment in any form harms a target's physical and mental health, esteem and productivity, and contributes to trauma and stress on the job; and

"Whereas Bill 29 would make it the law to protect workers from workplace harassment by giving workers the right to refuse to work after harassment has occurred, require an investigation of allegations of workplace-related harassment and oblige employers to take steps to prevent further occurrences of workplace-related harassment;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to treat workplace harassment and violence as a serious health and safety issue by passing MPP Andrea Horwath's Bill 29, which would bring workplace harassment and violence under the scope of the Occupational Health and Safety Act."

I agree with this petition and send it to the table via page Myriam.

CEMETERIES

Mr. Jim Brownell: I have a petition that is signed by a number of constituents from Mississauga and Brampton, and it reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Ontario's cemeteries are an important part of our cultural heritage, and Ontario's inactive cemeteries are constantly at risk of closure and removal; and

"Ontario's cemeteries are an irreplaceable part of the province's cultural heritage;

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

"The government must pass Bill 149, the Inactive Cemeteries Protection Act, 2009, to prohibit the relocation of inactive cemeteries in the province of Ontario."

As I agree with this petition, I shall sign it and send it to the Clerks' table.

TAXATION

Mr. Jim Wilson: Roy and Jane Norton of Wasaga Beach were kind enough to send me this petition.

"Whereas the hard-working residents of Simcoeâ€"Grey do not want a harmonized sales tax (HST) that will raise the cost of goods and services they use every day; and

"Whereas the 13% blended sales tax will cause everyone to pay more for, to name just a few, gasoline for their cars, heat, telephone, cable and Internet services for their homes, house sales over $400,000, fast food under $4, electricity, newspapers, magazines, stamps, theatre admissions, footwear less than $30, home renovations, gym fees, audio books for the blind, funeral services, snowplowing, air conditioning repairs, commercial property rentals, real estate commissions, dry cleaning, car washes, manicures, Energy Star appliances, vet bills, bus fares, golf fees, arena ice rentals, moving vans, grass cutting, furnace repairs, domestic air travel, train fares, tobacco, bicycles and legal services; and

"Whereas the blended sales tax will affect everyone in the province: seniors, students, families and low-income Ontarians;

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

"That the McGuinty Liberal government not increase taxes for Ontario consumers."

I agree with this petition and I have signed it.

TAXATION

Ms. Andrea Horwath: This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and it reads as follows:

"Whereas Ontario has lost 171,000 jobs since October and over 300,000 manufacturing and resource sector jobs since 2004; and

"Whereas many families are facing the threat of layoffs or reduced hours; and

"Whereas, rather than introducing a plan to sustain jobs and put Ontario's economy back on track, Dalton McGuinty and his government chose to slap an 8% tax on everyday purchases while giving profitable corporations a $2-billion income tax cut;

"Be it resolved that the undersigned call on the Legislature to cancel the scheduled implementation of sales tax harmonization."

I agree with this petition, will sign it and send it to the table by virtue of page Rabeb.

CEMETERIES

Mr. Jim Brownell: I have another petition signed by Ontarians from Toronto and Waterloo, and it reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Ontario's cemeteries are an important part of our cultural heritage, and Ontario's inactive cemeteries are constantly at risk of closure and removal; and

"Ontario's cemeteries are an irreplaceable part of the province's cultural heritage;

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

"The government must pass Bill 149, the Inactive Cemeteries Protection Act, 2009, to prohibit the relocation of inactive cemeteries in the province of Ontario."

As I agree with the petition, I shall sign it and send it to the Clerks' table.

PENSION PLANS

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I have a petition here signed by a great number of residents in the province of Ontario. It's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas Ontarians are currently denied full discretionary access to their locked-in retirement accounts; and

"Whereas the monies within these locked-in accounts have already been earned as deferred salary, i.e., they are not government handouts or bailouts; and

"Whereas Ontario pensioners have already demonstrated throughout life that they are quite capable of prudent financial management, given that they have raised families, bought and sold homes and automobiles, managed investments, paid their taxes, operated businesses, among other successes; and

"Whereas similar legislation passed in Saskatchewan in 2002 has been successful and has demonstrated the wisdom and prudence of retirees; and

"Whereas a quick and immediate unlocking of pension funds would act as a significant and timely stimulus to the economy during the current recession;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to support into law the private member's bill recently tabled by Mr. Ted Chudleigh, MPP Halton, allowing all Ontario pensioners, at age 55, full discretionary access to all monies accrued within their locked-in retirement accounts."

I thank you very much for allowing me to present this on Mr. Chudleigh's behalf.

CHILD PROTECTION

Mr. Paul Miller: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas Ontario is one of the few provinces that does not have independent oversight of child welfare administration; and

"Whereas eight provinces now have independent oversight of child welfare issues, including child protection; and

"Whereas all provincial Ombudsmen first identified child protection as a priority issue in 1986 and still Ontario does not allow the Ombudsman to investigate people's complaints about children's aid societies' decisions; and

"Whereas people wronged by CAS decisions concerning placement, access, custody or care are not allowed to appeal those decisions to the Ontario Ombudsman's office;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we support the Ombudsman having the power to probe decisions and investigate complaints concerning the province's children's aid societies."

I agree with this petition and affix my name to it, and Cameron will bring it forward.

TOM LONGBOAT

Mr. Mike Colle: I have a petition here to recognize June 4 as Tom Longboat Day in Ontario.

"Whereas Tom Longboat, a proud son of the Onondaga Nation, was one of the most internationally celebrated athletes in Canadian history; and

"Whereas Tom Longboat was voted as Canada's number one athlete of the 20th century by Maclean's magazine for his record-breaking marathon and long-distance triumphs against the world's best; and

"Whereas Tom Longboat fought for his country in World War I and was wounded twice during his tour of duty; and

"Whereas Tom Longboat is a proud symbol of the outstanding achievements and contributions of Canada's aboriginal people;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to recognize June 4"â€"that's not too far offâ€""as Tom Longboat Day in Ontario."

I support Tom Longboat, as does the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, and we'll all support this and sign the petition.

TAXATION

Mr. Bill Murdoch: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas residents of Bruceâ€"Greyâ€"Owen Sound do not want a provincial harmonized sales tax that will raise the cost of goods and services they use every day; and

"Whereas the 13% blended sales tax will cause everyone to pay more for gasoline for their cars, heat, telephone, cable and Internet services for their homes, and will be applied to house sales over $400,000; and

"Whereas the 13% blended sales tax will cause everyone to pay more for meals under $4, haircuts, funeral services, gym memberships, newspapers, and lawyer and accountant fees; and

"Whereas the blended sales tax grab will affect everyone in the province: seniors, students, families and low-income Ontarians;

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

"That the McGuinty Liberal government not increase taxes for Ontario consumers."

I've signed this.

CHILD PROTECTION

Mr. Gilles Bisson: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas Ontario is one of the few provinces that does not have independent oversight of child welfare administration; and

"Whereas eight provinces now have independent oversight of child welfare issues, including child protection; and

"Whereas all provincial Ombudsmen first identified child protection as a priority issue in 1986 and still Ontario does not allow the Ombudsman to investigate people's complaints about children's aid societies' decisions; and

"Whereas people wronged by CAS decisions concerning placement, access, custody or care are not allowed to appeal those decisions to the Ontario Ombudsman's office;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we support the Ombudsman having the power to probe decisions and investigate complaints concerning the province's children's aid societies."

It's signed by many people from the Hamilton area.

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SCHOOL FACILITIES

Mr. Phil McNeely: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas St. Matthew Catholic High School is currently operating at 137% capacity and has been overcrowded for many years; and

"Whereas the Ottawa Catholic school board's capital plan identifies building an addition to St. Matthew Catholic High School as necessary (contingent on provincial grants) and planned for 2008; and

"Whereas the province of Ontario does not currently have a model to fund capital additions where school boards are not in debt and where these schools are in established communities and not part of the board's educational development charges bylaw;

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

"To immediately transfer to the Ottawa Catholic school board the necessary funds to design and build the planned addition to St. Matthew ... High School in Orléans."

I will be signingâ€"

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

HOSPITAL FUNDING

Mr. John O'Toole: It's a pleasure to present the petition that reads as follows:

"Whereas the municipality of Clarington passed resolution C-049-09 in support of Lakeridge Health Bowmanville; and

"Whereas area doctors, hospital staff and citizens have raised concerns that Bowmanville's hospital could turn into little more than a site to stabilize and transfer patients for treatment outside the municipality; and

"Whereas Clarington is a growing community of over 80,000; and

"Whereas we support the continuation of ... Lakeridge Bowmanville ... through access to on-site services, including emergency room, internal medicine and general surgery;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, request that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the McGuinty government take" all and "necessary actions to fund our hospitals equally and fairly. And furthermore, we request that the clinical services plan of the Central East Local Health Integration Network address the need for the Bowmanville hospital to continue to offer a complete range of services appropriate for the growing community" in the municipality of Clarington.

I am happy to present this to Nicola on one of her last days here at Queen's Park.

FIREARMS CONTROL

Mr. Mike Colle: I have a petition here against drive-by shootings.

"Whereas there are a growing number of drive-by shootings and gun crimes in our communities;

"Whereas only police officers, military personnel and lawfully licensed persons" should be "allowed to possess handguns;

"Whereas a growing number of illegal handguns are transported, smuggled and being found in cars driven in our communities;

"Whereas impounding cars and suspending driver's licences of persons possessing illegal guns on the spot by the police will make our communities safer;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to pass Bill 56, a bill ... entitled the Unlawful Firearms in Vehicles Act, 2008, into law so that we can reduce the number of drive-by shootings and gun crimes in our communities."

I support this petition and I affix my name to it.

TUITION

Mr. Jim Wilson: "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas undergraduate tuition fees in Ontario have increased by 195% since 1990 and are the third-highest in all of the provinces in Canada; and

"Whereas average student debt in Ontario has skyrocketed by 250% in the past 15 years to over $25,000 for four years of study; and

"Whereas international students pay three to four times more for the same education, and domestic students in professional programs such as law and medicine pay as much as $20,000 per year; and

"Whereas 70% of new jobs require post-secondary education, and fees reduce the opportunity for many low- and middle-income families while magnifying barriers for aboriginal, rural, racialized and other marginalized students; and

"Whereas Ontario currently provides the lowest per capita funding for post-secondary education in Canada, while many countries fully fund higher education and charge little or no fees for college or university; and

"Whereas public opinion polls show that nearly three quarters of Ontarians think the government's Reaching Higher framework for tuition fee increases of 20% to 36% over four years is unfair;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, support the Canadian Federation of Students' call to immediately drop tuition fees to 2004 levels and petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to introduce a new framework that:

"Reduces tuition and ancillary fees annually for students.

"Converts a portion of every student loan into a grant.

"Increases per student funding above the national average."

I've signed that petition.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): The time provided for petitions has expired.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GREEN ENERGY AND GREEN
ECONOMY ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR L'ÉNERGIE VERTE
ET L'ÉCONOMIE VERTE

Resuming the debate adjourned on May 11, 2009, on the motion for third reading of Bill 150, An Act to enact the Green Energy Act, 2009 and to build a green economy, to repeal the Energy Conservation Leadership Act, 2006 and the Energy Efficiency Act and to amend other statutes / Projet de loi 150, Loi édictant la Loi de 2009 sur l'énergie verte et visant à développer une économie verte, abrogeant la Loi de 2006 sur le leadership en matière de conservation de l'énergie et la Loi sur le rendement énergétique et modifiant d'autres lois.

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

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I'm pleased to join in the debate. I just want to say up front that this is another one of these bills that we see from the government where the title of the bill is well-intentioned, and they're trying to do, I think, what's right, generally. I know that if we were the government and our Minister of the Environment was Mr. Tabuns and our leader was the Premier, we would be doing something probably a little bit more aggressive than what we're seeing in this legislation.

What's good about this bill is the title. I like the title; the title is a really good one. It reads something like the Green Energy Act, which makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside and makes me feel that the government finally is going to do somethingâ€"moving our reliance from nuclear to renewables and to conservation. But as I look at this bill in some detail, it goes somewhat in that direction, but it's not very aggressive in being able to meet any of the goals and targets that should be set in a bill such as this, as far as where we want to be in the end. So I'll support it, I'll vote for the billâ€"what the heck. I did so at second reading. It doesn't take us a step back, but I don't think it brings us any real step forward.

Let me tell you what I think fundamentally we need to do when it comes to the bill. I am a firm believer that governments have got to set targets and have got to set goals. I am a firm believer that government should be setting targets and goals when it comes to what they want to achieve with an initiative such as this. I think we all agree that at the end of the day, Ontario has got to do what needs to be done to make sure that we're able to generate the amount of electricity needed for homes and industries and for various uses well into the future. I think that nobody in this House would argue that we need to get there. There's some discussion about how much electricity we think we will need based on how much conservation we do, and I think that's a fair debate. But clearly, what this bill is lacking is any goal to get where it is that we want to go.

For example, I would argue that we really want to move in the direction of making sure that we are better on the conservation side. We know, for example, that if you're able to save one megawatt by way of conservation, it's a megawatt that you don't have to generate. It stands to reason that if we invest heavily on the conservation side, we will be able to save money when it comes toâ€"

Interjection.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I've got to put my glasses on to read that one. I will read this as we speak. "I believe we have unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding the Standing Committee on Justice Policy." I think we did that already, didn't we? Kevin, we did this already. Okay, somebody go and check, please. That was already done.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): We're all set to go? We're good to go?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: The question we have on the floorâ€"there's no unanimous consent request yet. I'm asking my assistant to double-check, because I'm pretty sure that in fact this was done earlier. I will have him confer with the House leader.

As I was saying, the issue is that the government needs to, I believe, set targets and goals of where it is that it wants to get to. I would argueâ€"

Interjection.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Can I ask for a very quick recess of two seconds, Mr. Speaker? If somebody can just give me two seconds.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Keep standing and you have the floor.

Interjection.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: This was already done. That's what I'm trying to tell people. I'm in the middle of a debate and they're trying to get me move to a unanimous consent motion that was already moved sometime earlier this afternoon.

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

Mr. Gilles Bisson: So I get what was going on in the House here. Now, let me get back to my debate. Thank you.

As I was saying, I believe that the government is trying to do the right thing by way of the Green Energy Act, but I would argue that there are no goals and targets set to be able to get there.

First of all, what kind of target should we be setting? I said earlier that I believe, and I think most members in this House understand, that if we're able to save energy as far as consumption by way of being more aggressive on the conservation side, that is energy that we don't need to produce on the generation side. So it only stands to reason that an investment on the conservation side is not only good when it comes to the environment, because it means that we don't need to burn more coal, we don't need to burn more gas, run a nuclear plant or drop more water over the dam to generate electricity. You can do that by being heavier on conservation.

For example, one of the things that we're being told over and over again by many people who know a fair amount about energy is that there is a number of things that the government could have done in this bill, I think, to make it stronger. One is amendments to the building code. There's a whole raft of things that can be done in our building code that would say that in the future, whenever you apply for a building permit to build a new building, be it residential, be it industrial, be it commercial, there are things we need to do when it comes to heat, lighting, insulation and various ways of saving energy. If we were to do that in itself, just change the building code for buildings going into the future, we know there would be an offset saving over the longer term for the person as far as the amount of energy used. But for us as a province, it means we need to generate far less energy as far as electricity, and that's an offsetting saving for both the province and consumers of electricity in Ontario: You don't need to pay for the large generation plants that otherwise would need to be built.

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So where are the building code amendments that should have been part of this bill? The government doesn't indicate either by way of debate, in this bill or in press conferences they could have had that they're prepared to make the kinds of changes that need to be made to the building code. We know there is new technology available in the construction trades that can do a lot in order to save us all kinds of energy consumption by way of better insulation, better doors and better heating systems. We're not doing as much as I believe we need to do in order to move on the conservation side.

Conversely, the government says, "Oh, we have an answer," and that's why I think they're doing the bill. "We're going to invest on the nuclear side." So this government made the decision, but they're going through the process of approving additional nuclear capacity when it comes to generation in this province, and they'll be making an announcement later this spring, in June, or maybe early July. They'll be deciding which way they're going to go, with which technology. Are they going to use Candu or are they going to use others?

I think they're missing the point. I don't think you need any of them. If you're smart and you do work on the conservation side, you don't have to spend the billions of dollars it's going to cost us to invest on the nuclear side. I think you've got to make sure the fleet that's there is running well, that it's efficient and that it generates to the efficiency that it should. That means, yes, we need to make investments in the existing nuclear fleet. But when it comes to additional capacity in the nuclear fleet, I really think we're making a very bad decision, not just from the perspective of people's fears and insecurity around nuclear generators, the environment or whatever it might be, because people have different reasons for opposing them, but my primary concern is that of cost. I believe that at the end of the day it would be far more efficient and practical for Ontario to invest heavily on the conservation and alternative generation sides, as far as wind and others, and we would get a bigger payback for Ontario in a number of ways.

We would create lots of jobs. Imagine the work we could get in our construction trades if we were much more aggressive on the development of various ways of generating power, such as solar, wind and others that are barely tapped into. Yes, the government has made some steps on the wind side. We see some of those wind farms around Ontario. But I think there's far more that we can do. We could, for example, have a made-in-Ontario policy where we say that 60% of the wind turbine that is being built has to be manufactured in Ontario. That would give our factories in and around Ontario the opportunity to do the engineering, the R&D, the manufacturing, the construction and the maintenance of those particular facilities and would add to the amount of employment available to people in Ontario. But it would also allow us, as a province, to become much cleaner in the way we produce our electricity. I think the government could do that and it would be an offset, as far as net economic benefit, to the province of Ontario.

We could decide to invest heavily on the conservation side. I think if consumers, be they homeowners, small business owners or the large industrial plant, would haveâ€"first of all, they do have an incentive now by way of cheaper energy prices if you're able to better insulate and use technologies to lower your demand for electricity, natural gas, diesel or heating oil. But part of the problem is that often these individuals don't have the money to invest to build and put in place the new conservation measures they would like to put together.

For example, at the cottage that my brother and I own up in Kamiskotia, we looked at whether it would make some sense to go to a combination wind-solar system as a backup generating system to supplement our electricity needs and then sell back to the grid whatever excess electricity we're not using if we're not there. We thought that would be a good way to save a little bit of money as far as our overall hydro billâ€"because we only have electricity thereâ€"and at the same time be able to do our bit for the environment. Well, part of the problem is that the technology is fairly expensive. If I were to go out and buy a wind generator along with some backup solarâ€"because the combination of the two, from my reading, would be the way to go as it's not always windy. When it is windy, you get electricity from your generator; it may not be windy when it's sunny, so you get more electricity from the solar panel. The point is, to invest in that is fairly expensive. By the time you do something that's worthwhile, you're investing upwards of $15,000, and the $15,000, as far as payback, is pretty darn slow because the amount of money that you would make on the resale of electricity to the grid and the amount of hydro that you would save by way of not having to buy from the grid but take from your own generating system would be not sufficient to have a payback quicker than 15 years.

Clearly, the government needs to have some sort of incentive to say to individual homeowners, "Here's some way of getting you interested in making the investments." There are some minimal programs that out there. You know of some of them, Speaker. I'm sure people have gone to your constituency office to ask about these particular programs. The federal government has an interesting program on being able to get into producing electricity by way of wind turbines in your residence, but the problem is, they're pretty small. You need to find some kind of way to make it so that the consumer has an incentive to do this.

If you can design a program of some type that allows a consumer to, say, in a period of six to eight years, pay back their investment when it comes to investing in their own supplemental electricity needs, I think people would decide to do that. They'd say, "In six to eight years, I get the payback. My maintenance costs tacked up on top of that: I'll start to make a net gain after six or eight years. That makes some sense." People would be willing to make that investment.

If they did so, it would mean two or three things. One, every kilowatt saved by way of being able to generate your own means that the public utility doesn't have to generate those extra kilowatts, which means we don't need to expand our nuclear fleet the way that we're doing it now. It gives the construction trades a lot of work because not everybody has the wherewithal to install this type of equipment on their home or small business or wherever it might be, readily. Normally, you would have to hire some sort of business to do that, and it's not a job that's exportable. The installation of these types of generators has to be done on-site. It's not like something that could be outsourced to some other country around the world.

More importantly, if you had a buy-Ontario provision within that particular scheme, it would allow our universities, our industries, to invest in research and development so that eventually they're able to make those investments that would allow Ontario to produce these products right here. We would be able to spur a whole industry that would not only just have a market here in Ontario but be able to build the expertise and the experience necessary to market these technologies around the world. You would be, in effect, creating a domestic market that would allow our own domestic industry to do some of the work that needs to be done around this, so that we are able to position ourselves as a geographic region that is into these types of technologies by way of manufacturing and resale. I think it would be a net benefit for us here in the province of Ontario.

Are those provisions, both the buy-Ontario and the incentives that are necessary to allow consumers to buy these type of technologies, in this bill? No, they are not. That's why I was saying at the beginning that we needed to have some sort of target or some sort of goal within this bill, so that government is able to aim to get to a particular point as far as where it wants to get to.

For example, we know that in Germany they are leading the world when it comes to solar power generation. What they've done is they've involved the consumers and the people who own houses in a way that has not been done anywhere in the world. What they did is they created some incentive programs in order to allow German homeowners to invest in solar and wind power in their own homes, and they set a goal. They said that within so many years they want to buildâ€"I think it was something like 50,000 solar panels within a period of two and a half years or something like that; I can't remember the exact numbers. The point is, there was a goal that was set by the German government. What that did was, it created a demand. It created a goal, first of all, so that the government had to create a mechanism and programs to allow people to afford to buy this technology, and it gave an ability for their German industry to come up with a response of: "What needs to be designed? How does it need to be built? How can we keep the cost down?" As they built and they got better at it, they became the leaders, and now they're exporting this technology around the world.

I met with a German company here at Queen's Park about a month ago. They're in the process of installing a solar farm on Dalton Road in the city of Timmins. Who would have thought, 10 years ago, that somebody would be interested in developing solar energy in a community like Timmins?

It's possible. Why? Because they had developed the technology to be able to do this because of the incentive programs that the German government had put in place, allowing them to develop the technology, and now they're out there exporting the technology around the world.

When I met with them, they said, "Listen, we're more than prepared to set up shop here and produce these panels in Ontario and to do the R&D to develop this technology even further, but there are not the types of programs here in Ontario to allow us to do that in a real way." That's why I say the government should have set targets and goals in the legislation that would have given the ability to get to where they needed to get to.

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So, yeah, the bill is not a bad bill in the sense that it's got a great title; it talks about green energy. I think all of us are environmentalists in one way or another, and we want to do what's right by the environment, but clearly the title of the bill is much stronger than what's in the details of the bill.

Again, I just very quickly want to say that one of the things we could have done, and it wasn't done, as I said at the beginning, was the whole issue of the building code. Just changing the building code so that new standards are set when it comes to how we build houses, factories and retail space in the province of Ontario would go a long way in saving the need to generate electricity and burn fossil fuels to heat and light our homes.

All it would take is to sit down and to take a look at the building code with people out there who are fairly knowledgeable and will give us some good advice about what targets we set within our building code so that we can do this in a way that makes some sense and doesn't raise the price of construction beyond the roofâ€"pardon the punâ€"but at the same time, gives us an ability to save energy in the longer run.

Like most homeowners, I'm always looking for a way to save a buck, and if I was building a brand new house and I had a requirement of what it is that I needed to build, I'd build it to the building code, and that, at the end of the day, would not only be good for the consumer but would also be good for us as far as the need to generate electricity.

So it's a bill that has a worthy title, a bill that definitely tries to go in the right direction, but a bill that I think doesn't go to the degree that it needs to. I will support the bill because I don't see it as a negative thing. It's not as if they're trying to bring us back. I think the government is trying to say, on the one hand, we're going to go out and generate more electricity by way of nuclear plantsâ€"the government needed to have something to counterbalance their insatiable appetite to build new nuclear plants, so they needed to have a bill out there that they can point to, and that's what this bill is all about.

It's one of those things that the government decided to do that, at the end of the day, provides them cover to say that they really do take the environment seriously, but I think that anybody who reads this bill in any detail will see that it doesn't do even a third of what needs to be done to make Ontario much more sustainable when it comes to the generation of electricity and to put us in a position that we need to be in as an Ontario economy.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Charles Sousa: I'm pleased to debate Bill 150. What really stands out for me is how this bill speaks to increased renewable energy and conservation.

Ontario and my community of Mississauga South in particular are growing. More people means more homes and businesses, which in turn means an increased demand for electricity. That's why it's more important than ever for us to think about the way we use electricity, especially during peak hours. We need to manage peak demand more effectively, because that's when we've relied most on our dirty coal plants.

As a lifelong resident of south Mississauga, I'm a big supporter of getting Ontario off coal, and I'm proud of our commitment to do just that. I grew up next to the Lakeview coal plant. My community celebrated when those stacks came down, and we welcomed the minister's announcement that the site would never again be used for power generation. Protecting our waterfront and revitalizing our lakeside community is the right thing to do.

But the need for reliable power continues to exist, and so the OPA is currently sourcing natural gas power plants to meet it. While gas is a cleaner fuel and a big improvement over coal, it still produces emissions like CO2, particulate matter and VOCs. This is significant, especially for my community, because we're already in a stressed airshed.

I've lived in Mississauga all my life. Clarkson is my home; it's where I'm raising my kids. So I share the same concerns as many in my community about the cumulative effect of further emissions into our sensitive airshed. Like them, I, too, don't want another power plant or any other large emitter in our community. That's why this bill is so important. By promoting conservation and reducing electricity demand, especially during peak hours, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuel plants. This bill is an important step forward for our environment and for our health.

I'm pleased to support this bill, and I congratulate the minister on presenting it. I look forward to all of my colleagues on both sides of the House standing up in support of energy conservation and a cleaner environment for Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): The member for Durham.

Mr. John O'Toole: I'm responding to the member from Timminsâ€"James Bay, who I think has got it right: that there's more fanfare than content in that bill.

But I really want to get to the member from Mississauga Southâ€"excellent speech. I'm glad for the way you read it; it was so clear. The Lakeview coal plant was closedâ€"it should be on the recordâ€"by Minister Wilson and Minister Elizabeth Witmer, and thank you for thanking them. I'll pass it on.

Interjections.

Mr. John O'Toole: Yes, it's true. They're barracking.

Interjections.

Mr. John O'Toole: Listen up. The truth often becomes provocative; no question about it.

I would also say that the member from Mississauga South is dealing with an issue in his riding about the peaking gas plant that's going to go ahead in Clarkson. I know that Hazel McCallion is totally opposed to it. Is he with the mayor or not?

Bill 150â€"they've got it so wrong that the speech they gave him doesn't even address what his constituents are interested in. I think it's unconscionable for the member to stand and not even acknowledge the work of the member from Timminsâ€"James Bay and the remarks he made.

Fortunately, I will have an opportunity this afternoon to dispel some of the myths surrounding this Green Energy Act.

People of Ontario, please understand. When your energy bill goes up by $1,200 to $2,000 a year, be forewarned and forearmed that the member from Mississauga South and, I dare say, all the members of the Liberal Party are in favour of a bill that raises your taxes and raises the cost of energy.

The member from Timminsâ€"James Bay knows full well that the resources of the province take a lot of energy, and the economy right now is such that they should be focusing on trying to make energy more affordable, more accessible, but no; they're not. They're introducing what they call green energyâ€"all of it, and there's a good article this morning in the National Post that's worth reading.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): The member for Hamilton Eastâ€"Stoney Creek.

Mr. Paul Miller: I always get told to go back in my seat if I'm making comments. Do you know anybody here like that?

Anyway, I'd just like to say that the member from Timminsâ€"James Bay hit a lot of important points. This bill, frankly, is moving in the right direction. Does it go far enough? No. Are there suggestions from this side of the House that could have been listened to that may have been utilized? Yes. Sometimes, do ideas that come from this side of the House get taken, turned around and used over there? Yes, on a regular basis. I'm beginning to learn that. You come out with some good suggestions, it dies in committee and, all of a sudden, it resurfaces a few months later and it comes from a different party. It's very interesting how that works.

Getting back to the points that the member from Timminsâ€"James Bay made, he's correct that we can utilizeâ€"there are a lot of buildings in cities and in the country that don't meet the standards required for energy efficiency. If we were to sink a lot of money, which would create a lot of jobs, into retrofitting buildings in cities and doing all these things instead of focusing completely on windmills, solar and nuclear, we could probably save anywhere up to 25% to 30% of our energy consumption by retrofitting buildings that are presently not up to standard.

Yes, he hits a real point when he says, "Let's change the building code so they meet these standards on everything when we build new structures." That would be excellent.

In reference to the other members, I'll try to stick to the member's comments rather than getting off on a speech or something that's not related.

Once again, I'd like to thank the member from Timminsâ€"James Bay for his submission.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Phil McNeely: I want to thank the member for Timminsâ€"James Bay for praise generally for Bill 150, the Green Energy Act.

Conservation is energy number one, and our bill and our party are certainly behind that. Looking at conservation a little more broadly, the Green Energy Act recognizes it's equally as important as supporting more renewable sources of generation. That's part of the bill, that culture of conservation. Minister Smitherman has stressed that giving Ontarians the tools to understand and reduce their electricity use is good, not only for the environment but also for our wallets. If the Green Energy Act becomes law, about $900 million will be spent on conservation strategies across all sectors over the next three years, so conservation is the focus of our bill. We know that; conservation is energy number one.

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The second issue that you brought up in a negative way, I thought, was that the building code should be changed. Of course. If passed, Bill 150 would allow amendments to the building code that would establish energy conservation as a purpose of the code. This is a very important aspect of it. We should be building our homes to higher standards because we're going to have those high energy costs in the future at some time. So that is definitely one of the major thrusts of our bill, to change the building code.

Your third objection was on domestic content. We're having discussions on domestic content provisions for wind energy and solar projects. These provisions, in turn, would support jobs in Ontario in manufacturing, design, engineering and other related industries. From the point of view of incentives to get the renewables going, the feed-in tariffs are going to be interesting for people who wish to do that. It's going to be a new, proactive way of trying to get more renewables in, and this bill will do that.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): The member for Timminsâ€"James Bay, you have two minutes to respond.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I want to thank members for taking the time to comment on my thoughts with regard to this bill. I just remind people of one of the points that was made, that this bill is going to allow us to amend the building code. You didn't need to have this bill to amend the building code. That can be done at any time by way of the government's will to do so, so you didn't need this bill to do that, but I understand the comments.

I want to pick up on a point that was made by Mr. Miller, the member from Hamilton East, I believe. He's right. One of the things that I should have said, and I meant to say, and it gives me an opportunity to wrap up, is, who's the largest electricity consumer in the province of Ontario? It's us. It's the broader public service. Our hospitals, our schools, our government buildings, our town halls: All of those buildings that are paid for by the taxpayer are the buildings that, because of their numbers, because of the sheer amount of square footage that we have for offices and hospitals and classrooms, make us the largest consumer of electricity in the province of Ontario and the largest consumer of various types of fossil fuels when it comes to heating those buildings. If we as a government had our own energy retrofit program which said, "At the very least we're not going to jump on the private sector or individual homeowners to spend money they don't have, but we as a province are going to be aggressive about how we're able to save money in our own buildings"â€"and that's everything from flicking off the lights when you leave a room to investing in technology that allows you to utilize technology to be able to cycle equipment on and off when necessary. Do we need to keep the temperature in an office building that hot in the evenings or on weekends? You can bring it down by four or five degrees and save a little bit of energy. By way of investing in insulation, better windows, better heating systems and lighting systems, you can save a lot of electricity. We're told that if the government was aggressive with its own buildings, we could probably save about 20% of the need for generation today, so we should practise and put our money where our mouth is and maybe start in our own backyard.

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

Mr. Jim Wilson: It's my pleasure to speak to the Green Energy Act today and to maybe add some new components to the debate we've had thus far with respect to this legislation.

As one of the longer-serving energy ministers in Ontario history, I have a keen interest in the subject matter at hand. Under Progressive Conservative leadership we set the stage in 1998 for an expanded, flexible, green, nimble and commercial energy sector in Ontario. We broke up the monolithic Ontario Hydro and invited entrepreneurs to invest and compete in Ontario's electricity system. It was that restructuring, bold for its time, which set the stage for a financially secure and diverse energy mix, including green energy renewables, and allowed the current government to even contemplate the things that they are talking about when they promote this bill, things like allowing homeowners to generate power on their rooftops and inject it back into the grid. We did that in 1998. That would not have been possible without that legislation. It began to open the grid to fair and open access; part of that Energy Competition Act allowed that to happen. Things like having the Ontario Energy Board participate in encouraging demand response and conservation through local distribution company licensing conditions would not have been possible had we Progressive Conservatives not made electricity a regulated utility in our Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998. Things like promoting wind power by making it possible to earn an economic return from wind no matter when the wind is blowing would not have been possible had we Progressive Conservatives not passed the Electricity Act of 1998. We created the independent system operator and adopted market rules that recognized non-dispatchable forms of electricity.

So I want to commend my successor, the current Minister of Energy, for following our lead in wanting to make it easier for private power plant developers to build projects in Ontario. And I, somewhat sarcastically, commend the current government for trying to welcome private sector investors to Ontario, for signalling, as the Progressive Conservatives were the first to do, that Ontario is open for business. But my praise stops there.

When we as a Progressive Conservative government and I as energy minister made those bold changes to finally open Ontario's energy sector for business after 100 years of monopolization, we had a purpose in doing so. We didn't just do it because it sounded good or because it polled well. Unlike the present Liberal government, we did it because we had a reason, a principle, a goal, a goal that we wanted to accomplish. In fact, we had three main purposes for what we did.

Our first main purpose was we wanted to make private investors take on the risk of cost overruns and scheduling delays, taking these risks off the back of the Ontario taxpayer and leaving the potential business downside for those who stood to gain from the potential business upside. We believed that eliminating taxpayer risk and shifting that risk to private sector players who were willing to take it on was good for Ontarians. I only point to Darlington and who got stuck with the over-cost there.

Two, our purpose was that we wanted to create a competitive market where only the most efficient and cost-effective power plants would be built, where only the lowest-priced offers would be accepted, ultimately driving power prices down through competitionâ€"hardly what we're doing under this act.

And three, we wanted to give consumers a choice. We wanted to let the people of Ontario, people who live in a free and democratic market society, make choices as to what kind of power they wanted to use, what risk tolerance they wanted to assume, what price levels they wanted to pay and how much money they wanted to save through conservation.

But this McGuinty government has no purpose. Their only purpose is for political expediency. A Green Energy Act sounds like it will score points, sounds like it will be popular regardless of what it says inside the bill. Other than scoring political points in the polls, they can't tell you what their real purpose is in doing this act. They've managed to take the same action as we did, making it easier for private sector developers to invest in Ontario, and use that to completely undermine the original purpose for doing just that.

Let's review again the purpose for welcoming private investment into Ontario's electricity market: One, you want to shift risk from the Ontario taxpayer to the private sector. After all, they're the ones that stand to gain the profits if they do it right, so they should take the risk. Under this Green Energy Act, private investors aren't taking on any risk. All of the risks and costs are being handed back to Ontario taxpayers, just like the old Ontario Hydro monopoly days. Private developers are guaranteed their rates and revenues no matter what they build, where they build it, or when they operate it. Ontarians, through the Ontario Power Authority and the Ontario Energy Board, are required to pay the tab. Nobody will build anything now in the province unless they get what the government is offering, which is 20-year guaranteed contracts at 20-year guaranteed prices, all on the backs of the people of Ontario. Again, the people of Ontario, the ratepayers and taxpayers, take all the risks and the private companies get guaranteed prices for guaranteed periods of time, regardless of what happens in the economy or what happens to technology.

I ask, who takes on the risk that energy use will decline through conservation and we'll end up over 20 years with more power supply than we need? Or, as is happening now with the loss of 300,000 manufacturing jobs, who takes on this risk if lower power levels are needed, which they are now? They're down some 20% since the government started to talk about this Green Energy Act, and yet the government has agreed to buy power for the next 20 years at fixed prices regardless of whether we need it or not.

I ask, who takes on the risk that over the next 20 years technology will improve and we'll be stuck using outdated power plants? Ontarians take on that risk, because this government has agreed to use technology for the next 20 years, no matter what happens in the world of science. Who takes on the risk of fluctuating energy prices that may actually come down over the next 20 years, just as oil prices have dropped 50% this year? Ontarians take on that risk, because this government has agreed to pay a fixed price for the next 20 years, regardless of world events and marketsâ€"unheard of. It's outright bribery to the private sector so that they'll come in and build some plants, so the government can say they've brought green energy to Ontario. But at what price?

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Ontarians don't want that risk, and traditionally they've asked governments to get out of these risky businesses, and backing risky businesses, if the private sector is willing to take on that risk. That was the very reason we broke up the old Ontario Hydro in 1998. Ontario Hydro had accumulated $38 billion in debt; $21 billion of that was dumped onto taxpayers, who continue to pay for it to this day through the debt retirement charge on their monthly hydro bill.

Our Progressive Conservative government said, "Never again." We invited private power companies to try to earn a profit, but in exchange they had to assume all of the risk. The Liberals are now welcoming private sector companies to Ontario to earn a profit without any risk. So Premier McGuinty has brought back all of the downside from the old Ontario Hydro days, without any of the upside.

Our second purpose for welcoming the private sector into the electricity sector was to foster competition, to ensure the best product for the lowest price. But this Green Energy Act eliminates the last remnants of a competitive marketplace. In that system, the system that I set up as energy minister in 1998, private developers were welcome to come to Ontario to compete for business. If they could build a competitive plant, in a competitive location, with competitive electricity levels, at a competitive cost, then they would probably do very well, as would Ontario consumers.

But under the Green Energy Act, they are now welcoming private developers to build anything, anywhere, any time, at any price. It doesn't matter if your plant has 100% efficiency or 10% efficiency. We'll pay for itâ€"the taxpayers will pay for it.

It doesn't matter if you want to build your plant in a location where the power is needed and can be used, or thousands of kilometres away from where it's needed. We'll pay for it; hence the billions of dollars in new transmission lines being proposed.

It doesn't matter if you build it near a transmission line that has the capacity to accept your power, or near a line that is full and needs, for example, a $100-million upgrade in order to accommodate you. We, the taxpayers and ratepayers, will pay for it.

It doesn't matter if you generate electricity in the middle of the day, when it's needed, as is not the case with some of these new technologies, or if you generate that electricity in the middle of the night, when it's useless. We'll pay for it, because again, we're giving you a guaranteed price over a guaranteed period of time, whether we need your power or not.

And by the way, we're going to pay everyone the same price. We don't want to give you any reason to try to build a better plant, to try to be more efficient, to do any research and development, to find a way to make power cleaner or cheaper. We don't want to give you any reason to try to drive the price down. No, we're actually going to lock the whole province in at a higher rate than what we're currently paying.

Competition was meant to drive costs down over time, as it has done with phone service, long distance service and Internet service. But because this Liberal government has decided to set prices, it means that the price can only go up.

Our third purpose for welcoming the private sector into the electricity market was to create consumer choice. But under the Green Energy Act, consumer choice has been replaced byâ€"I'll call it George's choice. George Smitherman, the Minister of Energy, doesn't think Ontarians can be trusted to manage their own hydro bills.

Under the Progressive Conservative government's system of consumer choice, companies like Bullfrog Power arose. We'd never heard of them before, but under our Energy Competition Act, they arose, giving consumers the choice to buy 100% green power if they wanted to. And thousands of homeowners and businesses made that choice. For the first time in 100 years, they were allowed to make that choice, and they did. But no more; Mr. Smitherman, the Minister of Energy, George, will now tell everyone exactly how much green power they'll use, how much nuclear power and how much coal power.

Our Progressive Conservative government trusted each Ontarian to be able to determine how much price volatility and risk they were prepared to handle. After all, they do this in their everyday lives and their everyday financial decisions.

Just like a mortgage, we let people choose whether they wanted to opt for the certainty of a fixed rate or go with the lower cost of a variable rate. No more; the Minister of Energy, George, has now decided that everyone wants a fixed rate, that no one in Ontario has the vision or the fortitude to handle the fluctuations of a variable rate, especially around election time. So the Minister of Energy has decided that since he wants to pay a much higher fixed rate, we're all going to have to pay a much higher fixed rate for electricity. Apparently Ontarians just can't be trusted to make those decisions for themselves.

As Progressive Conservatives, we trusted Ontarians in an open market to understand that if they want to save money, they should turn off their lights, install energy-efficient bulbs and adjust the air conditioning. It's not a difficult concept, but apparently the current Minister of Energy thinks the people of Ontario aren't smart enough to know that using less energy will save them money.

So the current Minister of Energy has created a massive energy police force, people who he is going to hire to break into your homesâ€"without even a search warrantâ€"break into your office, conduct massive search-and-seizure operations, even rifle through your garbageâ€"

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: Jim, you know that's not true.

Mr. Jim Wilson: It's all in the act, in section 15. Read it if you haven't.

Why else are you hiring energy police with greater powers than a regular police officer? No warrants, just rubbish, and for what? To see if your toaster is energy-efficient enough? This is Orwell's Big Brother, with George Smitherman in the starring role as the Minister of Love.

There lies the true purpose of this bill. The Minister of Energy has used the guise of welcoming private power companies to cover up a massive power grab for himself. Believe me, I know the temptation's there when you're minister to do these things, but we didn't do it. With over 40 new directive powers, including the power to tell the Ontario Energy Board, an independent, quasi-judicial body charged with adjudicating disputes and regulating fair rates, the minister will now have the power to tell this judicial body when to hold a hearing, what kind of hearing to hold and what to do in that hearing with this and 40 other new powers.

The act is designed to make the Minister of Energy the most powerful person in the province, above the law in terms of search-and-seizure powers, above the law in terms of free markets, above the law in terms of the independent judicial process.

It's amazing to me that he wants to interfere with the Ontario Energy Board, when the Honourable Floyd Laughrenâ€"I had appointed him chair of that energy board to help us implement this act. He was very helpful during those years, but I was very careful never to direct him in his decision-making. I was even very careful with a lot of companies and a lot of individuals that had grievances or cases before the board. They would call up and want to know at least when their case was going to be heard or when a decision was going to be rendered, and I was always very careful to never personally get involved or even ask Floyd, even though we met once a week in my office to go over the restructuring that we were doing and the restructuring that he was doing with the Ontario Energy Board. I certainly was very careful not to do any directives of the type that are contemplated in this legislation. In the energy world, in the regulatory world and in the quasi-judicial world, this stuff is truly earth-shattering, and the debate I've heard to date missed a lot of that. If I were Premier McGuinty, frankly, I would be worried about the true purpose of this Green Energy Act. I'm not sure that the Minister of Energy has fully explained it to the Premier of the province of Ontario.

As an Ontario consumer and taxpayer, I'm frightened by this act, because the Liberals have been less than forthcoming about the facts surrounding the details of this bill. They left important numbers unsubstantiated, including how much more Ontarians can expect to pay for their energy bills with this legislation. When it became clear that the public wouldn't get a straight answer from the Liberals on such important details, it was the Progressive Conservative caucus who commissioned the world-renowned London Economics International to do an independent study on just how much Ontarians can expect to pay for the Green Energy Act once it's fully implemented.

To be honest, all of us in the PC caucus suspected that Ontarians would have higher energy bills under this new Liberal energy scheme, but we had no idea just how much higher until London Economics submitted their final report, their full report, just recently. Their analysis suggests that the Green Energy Act could cost each household between $247 and $631, on average, per year between the years 2010 and 2025 as this act comes into fruition. This means the costs could increase in the year 2025 by as much as $1,200 per household. This is the equivalent of adding approximately two to six additional monthly electricity bills, or an increase of 15%.

If energy audit and energy conservation plan costs are added, the cumulative effect of the Green Energy Act is estimated at between $19.4 billion and $53 billion from 2010 to 2025. These numbers are staggering, and they're well above the 1% increase that the minister keeps saying: "That's all the consumers will see on their hydro bills." There's nothing presented by this government to substantiate the 1%, and the studies that are done, includingâ€"I had a meeting last week with Jack Gibbons of the Clean Air Alliance, and he agreed: The price of power is going to go up significantly at a time when we need that power to create jobs in the province of Ontario.

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The government says it's going to create 50,000 jobs with this Green Energy Act. That's really their only selling point, and it's really their only plan right now for economic job creation. But we were skeptical about that, so we asked London Economics, and they said, "No support has been provided for these estimates" of 50,000 jobs. In other words, the government made it up because they thought it sounded great. Let me quote from the executive summary of the London Economics report: "The estimate of potential new jobs should be put into perspective relative to labour market statistics in Ontario."

So you say you're going to create 50,000 jobs. Let me remind you that one of our largest sectors today, the auto sector, which we talk about every day in this House, only had 38,000 people employed in itâ€"in direct vehicle manufacturingâ€"in 2008. So you're actually creating, under one bill, more jobs than are currently in the auto sector? Completely unbelievable. Some 46,500 people were employed in electricityâ€"generation, transmission and distribution, natural gas distribution and water and sewage utilitiesâ€"in all of Ontario in 2008. So you're going to take all the utilities people who work for our municipalities and everybody who works for the electrical distribution companies, and in the next five years you're going to double that sector? It's just unbelievable how you came up with these 50,000 jobs.

Finally, as part of their executive summary they conclude by, "Furthermore, there are the economic implications of higher energy costs for the GEAct, which has the potential to negatively affect employment."

Just going back to what my colleagues said in their questions and comments, I was talking to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance last week, and agreeing that some of these contractsâ€"and the reason we know costs will go up is that Ontarians are paying basically 6.6 cents per kilowatt hour right now. The new contracts that are going up are eight cents, 14 cents. We know of at least two major solar farms that are at 80 cents. That is several times the current price of power, and you're in a hurry to bring these things online.

The minister says, "It won't have that much effect on your monthly hydro bill in your home because it'll be a very small amount of the electricity that we generate in Ontario, so when you average it all in your bill won't go up that much." That tells me that this bill isn't doing very much. If you're not really bringing in massive amounts of green power and you're just dithering around the edges, because the only price study you haveâ€"there is no study; it's just whatever Mr. Smitherman has told usâ€"is that power is only going to rise 1%, that means you're bringing in diddly-squat. By his own admission, he's not bringing in enough power through 2025 to put a dentâ€"this is his logicâ€"in the price of electricity more than 1%. So that means you're probably not bringing in very much green power. You're bringing in enough to say that you're a green government. It's a photo op if I've ever seen one, and a series of photo ops that you'll have. You're really not affecting climate change; you're not affecting the environment. You will continue to need coal and gas plants to back up windmills and solar farms and other forms of alternative green energy.

It's very much a sham, this bill, and it's the only thing they've done. Remember, their tax cuts to create jobs, which they were always opposed to, don't take effect until the harmonized sales tax comes in on July 1, Canada Day, of 2010, so there's nothing that's going to happen to help create jobs in the province. This is their only job-creator, and it's a sham.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Jean-Marc Lalonde: I was listening to the member from Simcoeâ€"Grey. I have to say, as a former Minister of Energy, that way back in 2002, when the environment minister from his own government introduced a bill saying that they would freeze electricity at 4.3 cents per kilowatt hour at that time, we can remember what happened. We paid, in December 2002, $1.33 a kilowatt hour and we were selling it back at 4.3 cents. So I don't know if you would call that good management.

Besides this, when they passed the bill, they also indicated that those that had signed contracts with private electricity retailers, consumers who signed the contracts, would be guaranteed of paying only 4.3 cents, and the whole time those people had signed contracts at 6.69 or 6.89 cents. We, the taxpayers of Ontario, had to pay that back to all the consumers that signed, and that really cost over $1 billion to the taxpayers of Ontario. I wouldn't call this good management under the previous government.

I could tell you that right now we have a government in place that is looking to the future of our people by having good electricity available for everyone, every industry and every commercial sector, which we will have for the next 20 years in Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Norm Miller: It's my pleasure to add some comments to the speech from the member from Simcoeâ€"Grey, who of course was a former Minister of Energy, Science and Technology, and certainly raised a lot of good points. Particularly, one of the points he brought up was just the cost of electricity under this new proposed legislation, because for us as a competitive economy in the province of Ontario we need competitively priced electricity. We're not the experts on this, so as the opposition we commissioned a study by London Economics International LLC. In their study, "LEI's analysis suggests that the Green Energy Act could cost each household between $247 to $631, on average, per year between 2010 and 2025. This means the cost could increase by as much as $1,200 per household in 2025." Obviously that's of huge concern to the people of this province. The government's talking about their 50,000 jobs that they protect in this bill. The LEI study foundâ€"well, I'll read exactly what they found: "The current projection put forward by the government is 50,000 new jobs in Ontario as a direct or indirect result of the Green Energy Act. No support is being provided for these estimates." As the member from Simcoeâ€"Grey said, they just basically picked a number out of a hat. They go on to say, "Furthermore the economic implications of higher energy costs from the Green Energy Act, which has the potential to negatively affect employment"â€"and that is, I think, the real danger, that with the higher energy costs that this bill would inevitably bring forward, it will make the province uncompetitive. We'll lose 50,000 and more jobs as a result of the proposals in this new act.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Paul Miller: Obviously, my ideology is a little different than the member from Simcoeâ€"Grey, but I must confess, he made some good points. I have some grave concerns about the estimate of 50,000 jobs. Let's say that was the scenario and they did create 50,000 jobs; well, I tell you right now, we've lost almost 20,000 jobs in Hamilton alone. So if we took 20,000 off the 50,000 and you split up the rest, the 30,000, that they say is going to happen and you divide that across the province of Ontario, that's not much of an impact, to say the least. I really don't know where they got that number from. I agree that there are no statistics to back that up. They're hoping. Maybe it's a wish list, I don't know, but I'm definitely not impressed with scenarios that are created that aren't factual. I like facts. I like goals, and goals that are reachable, not goals that are created. It doesn't make sense to do that. It gives the people of this province a false hope when they should be giving them actual jobs.

You're talking about a sector, an energy sector, that these jobs would be related to. You're not talking about a sector of manufacturing. You're not talking about automotive. You're not talking about some of the other major engines that drive this province. If you're going to isolate it to energy-created jobs, I think the scope is not wide enoughâ€"it's minimal at best. Frankly, when they're finished with all their talk, I want to see results, I want to see the 50,000 jobs and I want them to show where they're created because I don't think it's going to happen.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

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Mrs. Carol Mitchell: I'm very pleased to respond to the member from Simcoeâ€"Grey. We'll take a little trip down memory lane here for a minute.

When the member was the Minister of Energyâ€"I just want to jog his memory about an AMO meeting that we had when he introduced Bill 100, and it was the bear-pit session. One of the questions that was asked of him was from the mayor from Mississauga, Hazel McCallion. She asked him questions for a good five or six minutes, and I can tell you that he was not able to answer all of the difficult questions that the mayor had, but his comments back to the mayor were, "I think you have me off my Christmas list."

I don't know if you remember that conversation at AMO, but what I wanted to give a sense of was that I became the chairman of our local distribution company after Bill 100 was introduced, and the local distribution companies were formed "to provide shoulder-to-shoulder services" was how the story went. But what in fact were formed were local distribution systems that were ill-equipped to plan for the future and to pay for the work that needed to be done. Not only was there stranded debt that evolved, and that's just a part of it, but there was also stranded generation of hydro. So it was a combination.

We never looked to the future and gave the LDCs what they needed within their jurisdiction to plan a system that was going to be reliable and give them the tools that they needed. So when the price was contained, it forced the systems to start to break down. There was not the refurbishment that needed to happen, there was not the conservation that needed to happen, so we were never going to arrive at a place in Ontario where we had the energy generation and the climate working so closely together.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): The member for Simcoeâ€"Grey, you have up to two minutes to respond.

Mr. Jim Wilson: Well, I'm glad the member from Huronâ€"Bruce mentioned Hazel McCallion. It's funny, and I have the utmost respect for Hazel. She represented AMO on our committee that oversaw the restructuring. There were LDCs, there was OPG, and there was Hazel representing AMOâ€"Ms. McCallion. It was difficult for her to understand during that time, perhaps, what we were doing. Maybe that was my fault in communicating, but I noticed that after the bill went through and after she discovered that council now owned the local Mississauga distribution system and that she could clear up some of her financial problems at council, she capitalized that system for $200 million, so she mortgaged it. I never got a thank you note for making Mississauga $200 million.

Mel Lastman did clear up some of his financial problems by capitalizing the hydro system here in Toronto to the tune of about $150 million.

So once they figured out what I was doing, which was allowing councils toâ€"you know, when I grew up around here, AMO used to have resolutions that were outstanding for 15 years saying, "We should run our councils like a business," and "Let us run businesses," so I wanted them to run their local distribution systems as a business. They're stronger today. They've capitalized them, and for the most part, they didn't squander the money. They've either put it in trust or they're using the money to do exactly what you said.

There wasn't enough money. When Ontario Hydro was $38 billion in debt, there was no money left in the systemâ€"no money leftâ€"and so the local distribution systems were starved. But when they were allowed to capitalize, to run like a business, to get a business return ofâ€"I don't know what year you took; you could have taken anything from zero to 9.8% on a business return. When they were allowed to do that and reinvest, you suddenly saw new towers popping up all over the province and new wires. We hadn't seen the trucks out in years.

So that's the wrong part to pick on. Maybe your local distribution system didn't have the favourable results that many others did, but they're stronger now. The reinvestment is there, and that money was made possible through Bill 100.

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

Mr. Paul Miller: I just want to say, as far as the electric grid goes, I don't recall getting any rebates from Hydro over the years. They privatized, and ours went to a Horizon Utilities in our area. We had a very efficient Stoney Creek utility. Our electrical prices were very reasonable, probably the lowest in the Niagara Peninsula, and then we privatized and they went, as the member said, to a business situation, and we got hammered with hydro. Ours went up about double, so I'm not quite sure that deregulation and privatization was the best way to go in our area. I can't speak for other areas, but our area didn't benefit.

Anyways, getting on with it, the NDP listened carefully to the submissions from diverse groups at committee hearings. There was strong support for the aim of the bill to shift electricity supply towards renewable energy. The NDP also supports this aim. We need to shift rapidly to a greener energy and electricity supply for many reasons: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to reduce the reliance on coal and nuclear energy, both of which have serious health and environmental risks and dangers; and to seize the economic opportunity for the development of green jobs of the future throughout our province. But the NDP and many groups supportive of the aims of the bill have raised significant concerns about the approach of Bill 150.

First, environmental groups, unions, agricultural groups and others raised serious concerns about whether the bill, as it stands, will actually significantly increase the levels of renewable energy in this province. Some have urged the government to give greater priority to green energy over conventional energy by requiring the feed-in tariff mechanism for renewable energy projects to be the first line of offer rather than stating that it may be the first line of procuring new projects.

Several groups urged the government to commit to purchase all the energy produced from green projects to make capital investments pay off, just as they do with nuclear projects. Some urged the government to stop giving nuclear power an advantage over renewable energy by ceasing the current practice of covering capital cost overruns for nuclear plants. Some called for the government to implement a green bond program to provide greater financing for renewable energy projects. Some groups urged the government to make it clear that all grid connection costs beyond shallow local costs would be covered by ratepayers to maximize the likelihood of the development of new renewable energy projects. Others called for amendments to strengthen the domestic content of new renewable energy projects to maximize the number of green jobs created here in Ontario, and some called for the government to set strong and specific minimum targets for conservation and new renewable energy in order to set minimum yardsticks against which to measure success in shifting Ontario toward its green energy goals.

The NDP introduced amendments covering all these points in order to strengthen the capacity of Bill 150 to bring renewable energy in Ontario online. The government refused them all, instead choosing to adopt only one or two far weakened amendments.

Second, environmental groups and others raised concerns that this bill does not do enough to fully pursue the most cost-effective and environmentally benign approach to providing electricity, conservation and energy efficiency. They wanted the government to ensure all cost-effective conservation and energy efficiency before new renewable projects would be built. They wanted the government to pay a feed-in tariff for combined heat and power systems which increase efficiency by using power for two purposes instead of one. They wanted the government to strengthen the Building Code Act to strengthen energy-efficiency requirements. They wanted the government to make changes to the Condominium Act to increase availability of financing for retrofit and energy-efficient improvements.

Again, the NDP introduced amendments to do these things, and again, the government voted them down. What a surpriseâ€"shot us down again.

Third, many citizen groups raised concerns that they would not be protected from potential negative health and environmental impacts of new renewable projects, particularly wind projects. Likewise, the NDP raised amendments to reduce the level of secrecy around these projects. We introduced amendments to put the onus on project developers to show that no ill effects would be brought about by projects. We introduced amendments to ensure that fewer projects would be exempt from appeals. We raised amendments to provide greater information and support to ensure full participation of individuals and groups concerned about the effects of new projects in their communities.

A key thing: letting the people in their communities have a say, letting them talk about their concerns about different types of green energy.

We raised amendments to protect the sensitive lands from the impacts of renewable projects. The agricultural community had concerns, and we wanted to protect the lands that they are the stewards of. Unfortunately, once again, apart from relatively minor changes, the government refused the majority of these amendments as well.

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Fourth, a number of groups raised concerns about how vulnerable individuals and businesses in Ontario would be affected by hydro rate increases associated with the shift to new renewable energy. To address the concern, the NDP called for a permanent rate assistance program for low-income tenants. Unfortunately, once again, the amendment was defeated.

Finally, we heard from a number of groups and agreed that there was much need to increase support for public, not-for-profit, First Nations and local ownership of new renewable energy projects. We called for changes in these regards, and again, the changes were largely dismissed.

In sum, we are left with a bill that could have been made so much stronger than it is, with a little co-operation. It's a step in the right direction. We'll support it. We don't want to stand in the way of something that may be beneficial in a small way.

It's a testament to the hard work of many environmental groups, and particularly the Green Energy Act Alliance, that it has come as far as it has. But if the government had listened more carefully to many well-thought-out submissions made to the committee and been more open to a collaborative and constructive approach, it could have made the bill much stronger and set us on a much more promising path as a green and sustainable energy economy in our province, a goal that is crucial in importance for ourselves, our children and our planet.

I'd just like to reiterate some of the comments that my colleague the energy critic made that really stood out to me. I'd like to share them once again with the House.

"In Manitoba, we have a government that has become a leader in geothermal, that provides funding for householders to put in heat exchangers so they can take cold out of the earth or heat out of the earth. That isn't" exactly "electricity generation. That's taking advantage of heat and cooling storage in the ground, something we should be doingâ€"an area where that jurisdiction is leading the way.

"In Quebec, they have investment in wind turbines that are changing the face of the Gaspé Peninsula. When we talk about investment in wind turbines in Quebec, you have to understand that they're very focused on the Gaspésie, on an area that has been chronically underdeveloped, that has been losing employment and losing population. When Quebec talks about 60% Quebec content for wind turbines, they're talking heavily about content from Gaspé. Companies are having to move into" the area "to make wind turbines, to make blades, to make the whole range of equipment to actually put those wind turbines in place." Also, the support groups for those turbines and the construction trades have benefited immensely, and they will have to continue a certain level of maintenance crews in the area to take care of these windmills. "So an area that for generations has seen nothing but depopulation is seeing young people come back into the Gaspé because jobs are there that pay" decent money.

They sure could use this on the east coast. They could sure use this in Hamilton. We've lost all kindsâ€"thousandsâ€"of jobs. We could build windmills in Hamilton. We could build them at National Steel Car, which is now trying to close and move to Alabama. The buildings are there; the workforce is there. They can retrofit that plant to do it. We have the transportation grid; we have the highways; we have the new expressway. We have sea, land and airâ€"everythingâ€"in the Hamilton area to support these types of new industry. They should be utilized. We should be doing something for the Niagara Peninsula and Hamilton to put it back on the map. It was a strong manufacturing centre.

I'll tell you, if you drive down Burlington Street right now, you could fire a cannon off and not hit anybody. That's how bad it is. I can remember the days when the parking lots were full. You'd have to actually stand in line to punch in to go to work. You had trouble getting a parking spot in the morning. I'll tell you, it's an empty parking lot nowâ€"empty buildings, and thousands upon thousands of people out of work.

We've got to think outside the box. We've got to get people back to the manufacturing sector. These new green energy projects are a perfect opportunity to put the people of southern Ontario back to work.

"Quebec is using their green energy sector as an economic development toolâ€"frankly, like Minnesota, which has a similar strategy in the north end of their stateâ€"and seeing the positive results that you can see if you're willing to invest substantially and understand where the future is going." Minnesota is taking the lead in this area.

"We need to have the same approach here in Ontario. We need to have a far more thoroughgoing and far more committed approach. I don't know yet if this act will give us that. I think the decision to actually go forward is beyond the act itself. You have to know that Premier McGuinty has made statements about the Green Energy Act and about the need to invest in the 21st century. When this act was introduced, he talked about the need for clean power. 'We need those jobs. We need clean electricity, and we need to assume our full responsibility in the face of climate change.' I have to say that's a great statement"â€"a wonderful statement. "It's hard to disagree with that statement. The question for all of us here is, will this act, will his power planning, get us to the point we want to be?" I'm not sure. Will it create 50,000 jobs? I doubt it.

"As written, this bill is set to underperform. The way it has been written allows the minister and any future minister to constrain investment in efficiency, conservation and renewables so that the market for nuclear power will be undisturbed. That is a mistake, because we need to prepare to go beyond the nuclear age. Even the Premier will talk about the fact that if he had a magic wand, if there was the opportunity that we didn't need nuclear, that would be wonderful. He doesn't believe the time is at hand. Well, frankly, if the time isn't at hand now, the time may never come. The time is at hand now.

"I have to say that it is wrong and it is dangerous to play games with people. The minister has the power to correct many of the deficiencies in this legislation with regulation. He needs to use that power. He needs to use it quickly. He needs that power to get people to work. He needs to use that power to take on environmental concerns. He needs to use that power to set direction for industry in this province.

"If the act is simply used to divert attention and provide cover for a massive nuclear investment rollout, then we will see a substantial risk developing for the people of this province, both in terms of their industrial future and of their electricity" needs. "We need to go beyond tentative measures. We need to go beyond baby steps in protecting industry, in protecting the environment and in protecting jobs in this province. The minister and the Premier ignore that reality at their peril and they also ignore it at the peril of the province."

I'd just like to say that there were many good suggestions that came forward at committee from many different groups. We listened intently to those submissions, we shared them with our caucus, we discussed it in our caucus, and we had a good handle on what the people wanted to see. We will not stand in the way of this bill because we believe it's a start, that it's moving in the right direction. Does it hold everything we'd like to see? Obviously not. Does it hold 30% of what we'd like to see? Probably not, but it's a start.

Like I said earlier, and I'll reiterate: Retrofitting in this province, fixing the old buildings, insulating properly, utilizing new types of power, whether it be electric cars, solar, or wind turbines, is the way to go; we agree. But you have to have input from all the groups, the trades, and people as you move along in this direction, and be sure that it's going to be successful and not have a negative impact on people's communities, on their jobs, on their health. We have to make sure we're doing it right the first time, because we can't turn back the clock if we don't.

So I'm hoping that this bill will be up for new amendments shortly after it goes into law. I hope they're going to be flexible about input from the opposition side and also from the public, because I do believe, as a whole, we could probably do a lot of good things for this province. But if you're arrogant, if you think you know better, if you think your way is the only way, you're headed for disaster. I'm hoping that this government, the present government, will wise up and listen to some of the people on this side of the House, because whether it's the official opposition or the third party, there's a lot of experience on this side of the House. There's a lot of people that have lived through industry and lived through manufacturing that could make wonderful contributions to this bill down the road. I don't know why it wasn't done now. It's like the old story: I remember when they built the Skyway Bridge. We wanted to twin it at that time. When they did build the second bridge, it cost 20 times as much 20 years later. But people had the foresight; they wanted to build that second bridge then. I've seen this happen so many times in the province, where they weren't thinking ahead, they weren't using common sense, and common sense has not prevailed a lot of times, not just in this House but in Ottawa and in all governments, local as well. Common sense does not prevail. I've witnessed it over many years. They try and try and sometimes get it right, but in most cases their arrogance gets in the way of their common sense, and that's unfortunate.

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In closing, I'd just like to say that the NDP will support this bill. There are a lot of things we would have liked to see changed in it. Unfortunately, like most of the bills I've brought forward, it falls on deaf ears at committee. They don't listen and they don't want to listen. They just want to get it through and get the photo op. That's unfortunate.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Rick Johnson: I appreciate the comments from the member from Hamilton Eastâ€"Stoney Creek and I applaud him on his efforts for job creation. Hopefully, some of the wind turbines will be made with Hamilton steel.

I stand to speak in favour of Bill 150, the Green Energy Act. I applaud the vision and congratulate the minister and his staff for bringing it forward at this time. I greatly appreciate and respect the comments and concerns by all members who have spoken thus far in the debate. A special thanks to the member from Etobicokeâ€"Lakeshore for earlier highlighting amendments made following consultations.

Since moving to Ontario in 1976, I've watched the growth that has taken place with houses and businesses across the regions. As we all know, homes use energy, businesses use energy, and the Green Energy Act opens doors for alternative energy. I have spoken already to several local businesses in my riding of Haliburtonâ€"Kawartha Lakesâ€"Brock who have come forward with potential investments that they want to make. They're anxiously awaiting passage of this bill.

Also, the reality of this is that currently 40% to 50% of the energy used in our province is provided by nuclear energy. We need to secure that energy source. Many of my constituents in Haliburtonâ€"Kawartha Lakesâ€"Brock worked very hard to build the nuclear plants in Pickering and Darlington. Many jobs will be created when the construction begins on the new plants. But I do share the concerns regarding nuclear waste, and I believe that we need to support government efforts in areas of research, innovation and education so that we can find a solution to nuclear waste. Fear-mongering isn't the way to go. What we have to do is inspire our young people to find a solution so that when we reach the point down the road, hopefully in a short period of time, we will know what to do with nuclear waste.

In closing, I would urge all members to support the Green Energy Act and send a message to the world that Ontario has a vision, that Ontario is a leader in green energy and that Ontario is ready for tomorrow's economy. So please support this act. Thank you.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. Questions and comments?

Mr. Robert Bailey: I'd like to applaud the member from Hamilton Eastâ€"Stoney Creek for his remarks. Also, I noted that he had some comments about his amendments not being acceptable. Don't feel alone. We made many substantive amendments also and not many of them were accepted either. You're not alone there, member.

We've got some concerns on our side of the House: We feel that this legislation is intrusive, it's nothing more than a new tax on families and businesses in Ontario, and it's going to drastically increase the cost of doing business in this province. The government member spoke about having a vision for Ontario. I think there's maybe a vision there, but it's possibly clouded. This Green Energy Act is going to increase the cost of doing business in Ontario. There's no doubt about that. We commissioned a report from an independent agency that points out some of those costs.

As far as the part about increasing jobs, I also hope that there are some jobs created in Hamilton in the steel industry when we build these turbines that are supposed to be coming. Speaking about turbinesâ€"

Mr. John O'Toole: Solar power.

Mr. Robert Bailey: Yeah, solar power. There we go, if the sun shines.

We had many people approach us at committee and speak about the health concerns they had with wind turbines; for example, Dr. Robert McMurtry, a well-respected doctor. I noted after that that the Premier made some statements about possibly appointing a panel to conduct studies of that, so maybe there was some admission thatâ€"

Interjection: Appoint a solar panel.

Mr. Robert Bailey: Yeah, appoint a solar panel to possibly study the health effects on individuals who have documented many concerns.

I look forward to debating this further later, and I'm looking forward to the interaction between the members as we do that. It's a pleasure, Mr. Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I want to congratulate the member from Hamilton East for what I thought was a good presentation on the bill.

I agree with him. The government is trying to take a step in the right direction. The problem is, it's a pretty small one. If you look at what the government is trying to do, the bill has a really good bill name. It's called the Green Energy Act. Who can be opposed to the idea of green energy? So the bill title, I thought, was a really nifty one, as they said as I was growing up. It was the language of the late 1960s, early 1970s. We think it's a nifty title.

The only problem is, when you look at the details of the bill, it's pretty lacking when it comes to making those larger steps forward that we need to take as a society towards really greening our energy consumption and greening our energy generation here in the province of Ontario.

He pointed out the jobs that could be created in Hamilton if we were only serious around the issue of really saying, "Let's invest in the renewables. Let's look at what technologies we can build here in Ontario when it comes to solar, wind and others, how we can put a buy-Ontario clause within the legislation to make sure that we give incentives to manufacturers here in Ontario to produce these particular goods." Imagine the jobs that could be created just installing and maintaining some of this equipment around the province.

So the member is right. The government is trying to do the right thing. We give them credit for that; they're trying. Whenever they try, we should say congratulations, but the try is just a very small step.

I think the member is right when he says there are a number of things that the government could have done that would have taken this bill a lot further. We could have done a real buy-Ontario provision in the bill. We could have been very serious about setting targets and goals when it comes to renewable energy. We could have been very serious around the issues of amending the building code to make sure we use the best of technologies to make our buildings as efficient as possible. I want to congratulate him for what I thought were some good points.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Phil McNeely: I'm pleased to have this opportunity to respond to the member from Hamilton Eastâ€"Stoney Creek. I'd also like to include something from what was said by the member for Simcoeâ€"Grey.

As everyone knows, the inspection and search provisions related to home energy audits and minimum energy efficiency standards for appliances and products will be eliminated. That was thrown in from a bill before we took government, somewhere in the early 2000s. The minister said in this House that would be coming out, and during committee, that did come out. So to say that that's still in there is just not correct.

I would also like to respond to the member from Hamilton Eastâ€"Stoney Creek about some of the major changes that occurred. Ontarians made hundreds of constructive suggestions to make the proposed Green Energy Act even more effective in creating a greener economy for Ontario. We have proposed a number of amendments and policy developments to respond to a number of issues raised at the standing committee, in legislative debate or when the bill was posted on the Ontario environmental registry.

The home energy auditsâ€"of course, the buyer can opt out if the audit is not desired.

Community consultationâ€"creating a new section that clearly ensures that administration of the Green Energy Act is done in such a way as to promote community consultation.

Health concernsâ€"there are many grounds for appeal under the Environmental Protection Act to protect against serious health effects.

Mandating domestic contentâ€"a new section which clearly establishes the government's commitment to domestic content, to job procurement in Ontario.

Minister's directive powersâ€"clarify that procurement directives under the new directive authority focus only on renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation.

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontarioâ€"ensuring that the ECO can meet the responsibilities outlined in the Green Energy Act.

So there were many, many of the recommendations that were taken into this new act, in the Green Energy Act as we see it now, with $900 million going towards conservation.

It's a great, great act and will furtherâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. The member from Hamilton Eastâ€"Stoney Creek, you have up to two minutes to respond.

Mr. Paul Miller: I would like to thank all the members for their input. I'm sure they believe that the bill is a step in the right direction, and I, too, think it's a step in the right direction. I won't deny that, but like I said, there are a lot of parts that weren't addressed in this particular bill, which is a little bit frustrating for us.

When the member says that there are amendments in there that will address job loss and give incentives to manufacturers to create jobs, well, I'll be waiting with bated breath in Hamilton. In the last 20 years, we're down aboutâ€"well, 30,000 jobs are gone, and we just had two major steel companies close the doors, one in Lake Erie and one in Hamilton. They are just on hot idle. So if this new green energy bill is going to create jobs for the people in Hamilton as far as making steel and producing wind structures and solar structures, we have all the welders you could need in the world who are unemployed right now at National Steel Car. We have a building there that is sitting idle.

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The manufacturer is trying to move to Alabama because he's getting incentives in Alabama, and our government is not giving enough incentives to keep him in Hamilton. You've got to ask yourself, why is he moving to Alabama? If you look at what they offered him in Alabama, we couldn't even come close to it. Free land, no taxes for 10 yearsâ€"it's unbelievable what they're offering to bring these businesses there. Frankly, the owner is going to go where he's going to get the best bang for his buck.

My city is under siege. There's not much left. I'll tell you, you can fire a cannon down Burlington Street. It was the hub of Ontario for manufacturing. I can actually drive down the street and I'm lucky if I see a person walking in the plant. I'm talking hundreds and hundreds of acres of empty buildings and plants. If this bill is going to do that and put people back at work, I'm all for it. I'll wait and see.

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

Mr. Toby Barrett: While we debate this proposed legislation, Bill 150, known as the Green Energy Actâ€"I've also heard it referred to as the power grab act. And I'm actually surprised: I think there's maybe a dozen and a half government members sitting here, and I don't know why they aren't debating this legislation. It was your turn to debate. I'm not sure what the reticence is on the government side, why the hesitation.

Interjections.

Mr. Toby Barrett: I suppose if I respond to heckles, you can get on the record that way, but I'm really concerned why government members are not debating this particular piece of proposed legislation.

When we look at this bill, we do agree with some of the overarching goalsâ€"those goals that do contribute to a cleaner environment as far as air quality. We note that the governmentâ€"and the government members will know thisâ€"has gone off course somewhat in achieving some of those goals. We have that elephant in the room, that looming question: Just how much is this going to cost? We see government members shying away from addressing that bit of bad news, shying away from even addressing the bill itself with respect to how much it's going to cost.

We hear an initial cost of $5 billion being thrown out. That comes from one source: the consumer of electricity. If you're a mathematician, you can follow our energy critic, John Yakabuski, use the logic. He figures that the total, split amongst Ontario's 4.2 million electricity consumers, will come in at around $1,200 per consumer per year. That depends on a number of variables and just how many different factors you are going to cost in. To his credit, Mr. Yakabuski's been citing that figure ever since the government initially came up with what I considered somewhat of a hare-brained scheme.

Since that time, we've gone to some experts, we put up some money and had an opinion from London Economics International, also known as LEI. They followed through on a studyâ€"I think most people in this room would have access to that study nowâ€"that bolstered some of these numbers. Here's what they came up with: As we've heard, London Economics did an analysis suggesting the Green Energy Act would cost each household somewhere between $247 and $631, on average, per year over 2010 to 2025. This means that the cost could increase by as much as $1,200 per household per year by 2025. So here's that $1,200 figure again.

These figures can translate into anywhere between two to six additional monthly electricity bills. We're looking at an increase of about 15%. But it does get worse; it gets worse than this. We also have the energy audit and the energy conservation plans. These have a cost. These are called for in Bill 150, and the cumulative effect here is estimated at between $19.4 billion and $53 billion, again over that period 2010 to 2025.

Now, let's factor in the additional cost of home audits, for example, something that has been talked about a great deal in the media over the last several months. The cost of a home audit comes in at about $300 a shot, and this also would apply for those whoâ€"we just heard the sad story in Hamilton; I'm hearing of thousands of jobs being lost and on the line. Again, whether you have a job or not, you would be subject to this kind of home audit, a tax grab, if you will. These kinds of audits essentially tack additional costs on the consumer, whether they can afford it or not and whether they can afford those renovations or not. Especially if they're trying to sell that home, they may no longer be able to afford it.

We're in a recession. We hear of every government, certainly in the industrialized world, every news channel over this winter talking about the need for stimulus, about doing everything we can to wake up what is essentially a slumbering economy, and then we see a government here that comes up with new ways to drain that economy.

So again, the price: at least $1,200 per customer, a 15% increase, quite a bit higher than that figure I was hearing from this government a number of months ago. It's hard to believe they were saying this: a 1% increase in the cost of electricity.

How do homeowners afford this kind of cost? How do businesses afford this kind of cost? How can you absorb a 15% increase in electricity? I do shake my head. My colleague from Wellingtonâ€"Halton Hills read into the record the very words of our present Premier on this same subject, and this was 10 years ago. Bear with me; I do wish to read a quote: "We have got to question the wisdom of the minister in introducing a bill in a recession which is saying to employers and investors, 'Here comes an additional tax which we're going to tack on to your hydro bill, a tax which has nothing to do with hydro, a tax which you won't find in any other jurisdiction in North America'.... Which group or groups were crying out for this change? Who wants government to use Hydro as a tool for carrying out social policy initiatives and thereby drive up hydro rates? Surely not Hydro's ratepayers.... Surely not business, which is already itself besieged by the recession." That was a recession, as we know, of 10 years ago, and of course that was a speech given in this House by the member for Ottawa South, also known as Dalton McGuinty.

When it comes to price, the minister likes to bring forth another red herring, essentially to throw us off the trail. We hear the much-ballyhooed claim of 50,000 new jobs. I don't know whether members present have had a chance to attend the hearings or read through the transcript of the public hearings or whether they've really given much thought to the hearings, but public presentations occurred on Bill 150. If you haven't had a chance, there was testimony, for example, by the Clean, Affordable Energy Alliance. I'd like to introduce you to the words of their spokesperson, Carol Chudy, who lives down Sarnia way. I'll quote Ms. Chudy: "No concrete information has been provided to demonstrate how or when these jobs will be created. When analyzed, reports promising large job gains were found to contain dubious assumptions and a disregard for basic economic principles. The jobs include large numbers of clerical, bureaucratic and administrative positionsâ€"non-productive, expensive positions that raise costs for electricity consumers without adding value to Ontario's economy. The actual employment gains will be totally swallowed up in the job losses that will result from higher energy costs. The 300,000 manufacturing jobs plus supporting retail and service sector jobs lost in Ontario over the past four years will be just the beginning."

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I've known Carol Chudy for five years now, I suppose. I've worked with her and her associates and I'm always impressed with their approach. They deal with the science, they deal with environmental issues and they take an economic analysis to the kind of work that they do, all done with a non-emotional approach.

There's some additional information that Carol Chudy had with respect to cost. "The act"â€"again, Bill 150â€""will foster additional costs, including renewable energy at triple to 20 times the cost of existing resources." Again, think of the price of coal, for example. "Real estate energy audits, which 86% of the public opposes; the special cost associated with fuel use; $1.6 billion to roll out the smart grid." That's going to be a very expensive project to snap your fingers. It's not that easy to establish a smart grid across the province of Ontario.

"Costs from municipalities, hospitals, schools and universities to prepare and update energy efficiency plans, which will all be passed down to Ontario taxpayers; and restriction on the sale or lease of products currently in use." Again, cost is important. We have to work our way through and just determine what is going to be the price for this kind of legislation.

In addition to the financial ramifications that our ratepayers, our consumers and our businesses will all face, it seems that local levels of government will see their planning powers lifted as a cost of this top-down green gambit, if you will. Currently, a proponent with an energy proposalâ€"this is the way it works nowâ€"submits their request to the municipality. It's reviewed by the planning department. The community is notified. They have an opportunity to provide some input. Council votes on it. Oftentimes the proponent has to do an environmental review on the particular project. Again, the public has an opportunity to examine the findings and, as we know, these findings can also be appealed to the Ministry of the Environment. Oftentimes a full environmental assessment can be requested.

This came from Grant Church. He's an area energy expert down in my riding. Grant lives in Cayuga. He testified before the committee hearings on this bill. I'd like to quote Grant: "All those rights will disappear under the act. It will be between the Minister of Energy and the green energy proponent. Absolute power will be held by the minister." Grant goes on to say, "Lord Acton said it well: 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'" That's Lord Acton speaking, not Grant Church.

So again, what price? The question really becomes more significant when we pay attention to, for example, the price of the health of people who are living close to some of these very large industrial wind turbines. Our farms have had windmills certainly going back 100 years. I know the tower is still up on our home farm. This is small technology, farm by farm, enough energy there to pump water out of a well, in our case a deep sulphur well, into the water trough, which provides a modicum of storage depending on how many cattle we had in the barnyard at that time. The kinds of wind towers that we have on our farms are minuscule and in many ways perhaps more appropriate than some of these very large, industrial-style turbines that you can spot miles and miles away, tens of miles away. So there's a concern here about trampling on municipal siting and zoning powers.

The reports coming from these industrial-style wind turbines, something that's coming forth more and moreâ€"in fact, yes, I think it was probably in today's Toronto Star. There is an article, "Fighting For, and Against, the Wind," which gives us both sides but lets us know some of the other, disturbing sidesâ€"the price that some people are paying for these very large industrial wind turbines that this government is favouring.

Here's what Helen Fraser had to say in the National Post:

"Our home was 423 metres from the nearest turbine." I apologize; I'm not sure what that distance is in English. "When we first heard about the project, we were trying to be greenâ€"we always recycled more than we threw in the trashâ€"so I thought it was great. I was in favour of them, even as they were doing the construction around us. But my health did deteriorate immediately when the turbines were on ... I had ringing in my ears, it felt like there was something crawling in my earsâ€"I said 'what on earth is going on?' And then the shadowing effect when the sun is behind the blade, it was so bad, I just thought the top was going to blow off the top of my head. But we went camping in July and it cleared upâ€"I didn't have a headache, I wasn't going to the bathroom as frequently, I had none of the itchy ears. I came back and it immediately started again. When the blades were facing the house, I couldn't concentrate at all, I couldn't sleep, my body would ache ... so finally I started to clue in that something had to be going on with the turbines. I could tell before I got out of bed, just based on how I felt, whether they were running."

That's from Helen Fraser, a former neighbour of Melancthon, a wind project in the province of Ontario.

Ms. Fraser apparently is far from being alone. Reports are beginning to emerge at what I consider to be an alarming rate. While the Premier arrogantly labels these kinds of concerned Ontarians as NIMBYs, I wonder if he would be so cavalier if he had to live next to one of these very large behemoths. In fact, I would encourage the Premier's energy minister to perhaps spend a night next to one of these large turbines and report back.

And it's not without precedent for provincial members of Parliament to go in and get the information first-hand. I think of John Tory. Here's an MPP who was willing to go down to Caledonia and stay overnight right next to the barricades put up adjacent to Six Nations.

Hon. Jim Watson: That worked out well.

Mr. Toby Barrett: Well, yes, it didn't work out well for Caledonia. To his credit, Mr. Tory had the guts to visit Caledonia probably 14 times. And I'll throw that challenge out to some government members across the way.

Interjection.

Mr. Toby Barrett: Yes, I don't think the good people of Caledonia know about that.

Hon. Jim Watson: He didn't send out a press release.

Mr. Toby Barrett: I don't think you did either.

Back to the bill that we're debating: Maybe people are either afraid to go to Caledonia or spend a night next to one of these wind turbines because they've probably been reading some of the science and listening to some of the doctors and what they've been saying, and they're realizing that perhaps these wind concerns may be a little more than some of the hot air I'm hearing in here this afternoon.

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For those who haven't been reading these reports, there's quite a laundry list with respect to the impact of these industrial wind towers:

â€"noise, obviously, reports that noise can be heard up to 10 kilometres away and can induce sleep disturbance, depression, chronic stress, migraines, nausea and memory loss;

â€"strobe and flicker effects relating to vertigo, dizziness and nausea;

â€"stray voltage near homes, related to dizziness, fatigue, headaches, adverse effects on farm animals, as we know;

â€"blade failure, which can throw a piece of a blade or debris over 500 metres; and

â€"ice throws, where chunks of ice can be thrown 100 metres.

We have to factor these kinds of reported health concerns in when we try and determine just what will to be price of this particular piece of legislation.

The Premier has said, "Which group or groups were crying out for this change? Who wants government to use Hydro as a tool for carrying out social policy initiatives and thereby drive up hydro rates? Surely not Hydro's ratepayers.... Surely not business, which is already ... besieged by the recession." So these kinds of cost considerations, whether financial or health, are weighty enough, but coupled on top of that is the issue that this tool, potentially achieving some of the green goals that this particular legislation is concerned with, could be doomed to failure. This has been raised in the House. We have to talk about our coal-based economy and our nuclear economy when we consider debate on this legislationâ€"

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

Mr. Toby Barrett: â€"and I have run out of time.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Yep. Thank you. Questions and comments?

Mr. Phil McNeely: I wish to respond to some of the issues raised by the member from Haldimandâ€"Norfolk, particularly on the health concerns. The Ministry of the Environment will establish and fund an economic research chair to examine potential public health effects through renewable energy projects. Ongoing review of the health and scientific research by the Ministry of the Environment is part of policy development under this act. That is certainly very high among the issues that have to be dealt with in the Green Energy Act.

For the green jobs, as with most types of economic projections, we looked at historical data. We based our GEA job estimate on the number of jobs that have typically been created by the type of work that will be required. For example, we consulted with Hydro One to establish how many jobs would be typically associated with insulation of transmission lines. We also relied on studies to back up these estimates in order to ensure a reasonable level of consistency with the levels of jobs created from similar projects in other jurisdictions. There will be no doubt that a lot of jobs will be created there.

I'd just like to talk about the home energy audit again. It was brought up and it's information that the purchaser of a new home can always waive the right to receive. But it's $150â€"the province supports it at $150. It opens up that whole process after going after up to 10,000 grants from both Canada, which supports this program, and Ontario, which supports the program. Of course, it was in the Conservatives' platform in 2007 as something to do with the mandatory audit, and they've just changed their minds on it as well.

The minister spoke in this House about the increase in costs of energy and that the bills would be 1% per year going forward. I think thatâ€"

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

Mr. Phil McNeely: â€"deals with most of the issues that were brought up by thisâ€"

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Thank you. The member for Parry Soundâ€"Muskoka.

Mr. Norm Miller: I'm pleased to add some comments to the speech of the member from Haldimandâ€"Norfolk on the green energy bill, Bill 150. Certainly members of the PC Party are in favour of sustainable alternative energy, but we're also concerned about the cost of electricity to the people of Ontario and jobs. We had a study commissioned by London Economics International on the unsubstantiated claim of 50,000 new jobs made by the government. They in fact pointed out in the study that there's no support for these estimates.

On the question of the mandatory energy audits after you sell your home, that has been modified a bit so that I believe the seller can waive that requirement. My feeling about energy auditsâ€"I just had one done in my own homeâ€"is that I think they're a good idea but they should be voluntary, where the homeowner feels there's some benefit to the energy audit, not something that should be required. I've been receiving quite a few letters and e-mails from constituents concerned about that.

I just had an energy audit done myself in the past year, and we're just finishing off putting a new air-to-air heat pump, a new energy-efficient door and an air circulation HRV system into our home. We're going to look at putting in a solar hot water system, having met with John Verway of Copperhill Solar. When they get their system certified we'll look at that.

Members of the PC Party are in favour of reducing our energy use and means of stimulating more sustainable and renewable energy use in the province, but we're also concerned about the thousands of jobs that may be lost through higher energy prices and the fact that our energy users, those dependent on electricity, will have no choice but to pay for the extra higher costs of electricity this bill will bring about.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Paul Miller: I'd like to commend the member from Haldimandâ€"Norfolk. He has some grave concerns that I agree with.

I'd like to talk about the home audit that the government has been touting as so wonderful. Let's take a look at an 80-year-old person living in a home, and the buyer wants to buy a starter home. The young couple comes to the house and says, "Do you have your energy audit? I'd like the look at it." The person says, "Well, I didn't get it done." They say, "Well, we don't know what's wrong with your house."

Even if they did get it done and said, "Okay. You need new windows, you need a new roof, you need this and that," a person who is 80 years old and on a fixed income cannot afford that. The government says, "Oh, but we have programs to support that." Even if they supported 75% of it and the home required $15,000 or $20,000 worth of work, what have they done now? They've had an encumbrance put on the property because now the elderly person can't sell the property because they didn't have a home audit and they can't afford to do the repairs. What does that person do? I'll tell you what they do. They sit in their house until the city repossesses it because they can't afford to fix the house and no one will buy it because it doesn't have all these top-grade efficiencies.

I really think this part of the bill is going to be a detriment. It's not good. This home audit is really going to be a burden on seniors and people who cannot afford it. I hate to tell you this, but 18% of the people in my community live below the poverty level. They're lucky if they can pay their hydro bill, let alone get the house fixed to sell it. This government must walk around with bags on its head. You don't get it. You don't take a look at people who are low income. All you talk about is people who make $100,000 or more. How about the poor people in our community? They can't afford these types of things. You're not living in a real world. You haven't got a clue. Get out there and come to my community and I'll introduce you to some of these people you want to have a home audit. Get real.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti: It's a pleasure to have a couple of minutes to say a few words on the comments made earlier. I just wanted to recount a little story that I heard a while ago. It was about two boys who used to go to school, and they passed by the same backyards every day and they'd see fences. Through each fence, they could see what was there. There was one house that had a stone wall, and they couldn't see through it. So one of the boys said to the other, "How are we going to ever know what's on the other side?" What one of the boys did was he tossed his cap over the top of the fence. The result was that the two of them had to go back and get it and they found out what was there.

This bill, Bill 150, the Green Energy Act, is a movement in a new direction. It's been carefully thought out. There are a lot of checks and balances here to make sure that the consumer is protected, and it's not just us in the government who are saying good things about it. Talk to the experts, people like Mr. Drummond, the economist from TD Bank. He'll say that it's in the new technologies where you're going to find jobs, not in the old places. You're going to have to take that cap off, throw it over the fence, go over there and see what's on the other side. You're not going to go back to the old ways. The old ways are gone. We're not saying that in a negative way, but the world has changed. People out there know that, the majority of people know that, and we are providing an opportunity for people to be involved in something that will create jobs. You don't need the proof from us. It comes from the experts. Remember that.

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The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Member for Haldimandâ€"Norfolk, you have up to two minutes to respond.

Mr. Toby Barrett: Thank you. I appreciate the feedback, the various comments around the horn.

The energy audit was just mentioned by the member, who's joined our side. That energy audit, as we know, and this is much publicized, comes at somewhere around $300. You add in, and I didn't talk about this cost, the cost of energy audits plus the energy conservation plan, and the cumulative effect is somewhere betweenâ€"this is in billions of dollarsâ€"$19.4 billion and $53 billion, again over that time period of 2010 to 2025. That's on top of the figures that we did receive from London Economics Internationalâ€"that figure of the cost per household of $1,200 per year up to 2025. Again, it's about a 15% increase. That's equal to somewhere between two to six additional monthly electricity bills.

We have to figure in other costs. I didn't have time to talk about the cost of generation and the cost of interconnection, as new sources of energy are artificially subsidized and given preference to allow them to hook up, oftentimes in remote areas, which makes it very difficult to get the transmission infrastructure in place to accommodate themâ€"so costs with interconnection.

The smart gridâ€"I mentioned that brieflyâ€"is expensive to implement. Conservation and demand management, these kinds of initiatives: You've got to add in that cost. One final cost that may not be that significant in the big picture but it is significant: When you establish this Renewable Energy Facilitation Office, you've got to add that cost in too.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate? The member for Durham.

Mr. John O'Toole: It's a pleasure to be able to speak this afternoon.

Interruption.

Mr. Paul Miller: Submarine diving?

Mr. John O'Toole: It's the submarine going down for the last time.

Look, this bill of all bills is a lot of ado about nothing. In fact, if you want to look at the act: We've made our points, but I want to review it because our member from Haldimandâ€"Norfolk just spoke, as well as the earlier speaker, Mr. Wilson, who was the Minister of Energy and Technology, and the NDP as wellâ€"on this side of the House, probably on both parts. There's a lot in here that really is not very substantive.

If you look at the renewablesâ€"let's talk about the bill in some sequence. We have about six points that we want to make in such a limited time, because they're trying to rush this through. Here are the six points. I want to make sure that I get this on the record. Often I sort of wander a bit, but this time it's all scripted. This text today has been prepared.

Number one, it's the Green Energy Act. We understand the code language in the title. How can you vote against green energy? We're all for it on this side of the House but there's nothing here, okay? There's nothing here.

Interjection.

Mr. John O'Toole: I've got more to say.

It's nebulous. It's one of those, "We'll get to the detail later," here.

The plan clearly talks about solar, wind, geothermal, biomassâ€"generally renewablesâ€"and we're going to talk about renewables and how much of the total supply mix these renewables might take. I'm going to use the IESO and the OPA, the Ontario Power Authority's supply mix report that that was commissioned by this government. Not many members over there even know that. That report was the very first thing they did, and they already know the answer, so they're talking about a very small issue here.

What our initiative has always stressed is conservation. The energy you don't consume or waste is the energy you don't have to generate. They use the term "conservation culture." The conservation culture is missing over there. It's a term. It hasn't penetrated their culture.

Mr. Robert Bailey: It's impervious.

Mr. John O'Toole: You know, it's all talk.

Energy costs money. We know that.

Another unique component of energy is thisâ€"and I've said this several times, and it may be repetitive here. My speech is that important that I'd stress these points. Energy's a non-discretionary consumption. What I mean by that is, you don't have any choice for most of it. At home, there are certain things you have to do. You have to turn on the lights to see in case you fall. You have to turn on something to cook your food or to make your cup of tea in the afternoon. You have to turn on the furnace or the air conditioner. Our life is designed around this invisible commodity called electricity to really support the standard of livingâ€"turning on the television, the radio, the computer, all of theseâ€"

Mr. Robert Bailey: The hot tub.

Mr. John O'Toole: Well, these things are all choices that people make, but there's very, very little discretionary consumption. Studies have shown this, Mr. Speaker, and you would know this; you've been here longer than I have. It seems that way, anyway.

Quite honestly, though, what happens is that about 1,000 kilowatt hours a month is the normal consumptionâ€"so get used to it. When your bill is now 1,000 kilowatt hours a month, of that, let's say there might be 10% discretionâ€"don't have that afternoon cup of tea. That's the only way seniors on a fixed income are going to save. Why? The price of energy now is five cents a kilowatt hour. That price of the electrons themselvesâ€"look at your bill. Today, the actual price of electricity is the smallest part of the bill.

Mr. Phil McNeely: We're paying for the stranded debt.

Mr. John O'Toole: Look at the bill. Most people, including the critic over there who's barracking all the time, don't have a clue. The stranded debt was from the 20 years of inefficiency in the energy sector.

Here are a couple of things that people don't know. There's another part on there called the line loss charge, which is about 0.03 cents per kilowatt hour for the electrons that are dispatched from the generation siteâ€"Darlington nuclear, Niagara Falls. The electrons go through the wire, but by the time they get to your house, 20% of the electrons are gone. They have to be paid for, so you're paying for the dispatched electricity to your house. You're paying that charge for stuff you don't even use. That's a tax.

A kilowatt hour is now about 5.3 cents. With this billâ€"and I'm going to substantiate this with documents I've collectedâ€"it's going to be around 15 to 20 cents a kilowatt hour. That's a 300% increase in price. Seniors don't know what's going to happen.

I did a press releaseâ€"I've got to put this on the record. Formally, I've got to put this on the record. My press release is right here. Here it is. This is my press release, and I'll just read it: "New energy is going to cost up to $1,200 per household."

Mr. Mike Colle: Produce the documents.

Mr. John O'Toole: The documents are here. He's asked for them. Write me a letter and I'll send them to you. I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

I have a weekly column, and I encourage people, if you want a copy of my weekly columnâ€"they're written with as much objectivity as possible. But I do point out the weaknessesâ€"and I've pointed this out time and time again. I'm getting a lot of feedback now from people who know I'm on the right track. But I think it's important to move forward with the discussionâ€"I only got through to point 3 there, on energy costs.

The Liberal plan that they're not really telling too many people isâ€"

Mr. Robert Bailey: It's a secret.

Mr. John O'Toole: Well, you should be listening, though, because it's $5 billion. Where does the government get the $5 billion? Let's follow the money. They get the $5 billion from you when you turn the switch on or off, or turn on the dishwasher or the dryer. We know that it's $5 billion, and they say that it's going to create 20,000 jobs. Well, I've got reports here today, even from the power workers of Ontario, that dispute that. Of course they're going to need some jobs to build more wires and the smart grid, and to put up wind turbines and things like that. But these are not jobs that are going to replace the steelworkers, the auto workers, the hard-working, well-paid jobs. When you build these wind plants and the solar plants, nobody works there. There are one or two people who go around with an oil can or something. I don't know exactly what they do, but there are no jobs. The sun shinesâ€"it's direct energy, really, and it has to be converted into AC power. It's DC power first. When you convert it, you lose energy there.

1740

Now, I've just got to make the planâ€"there's $5 billion, 20,000 jobs; that's not been substantiated. There's no reports. We did one from the London School of Economics group, a brilliant group of people. The other thing that really bothers meâ€"this is a more subtle part of the billâ€"is this idea that they're going to override municipal planning and conservation authorities. I was shocked when I heard, for instance, that on the greenbeltâ€"you know, it's beautiful trails and riding your bicycleâ€"there will be a big wind turbine. Can you imagine? They can just override planning authorities and put wind turbines all along that bicycle trail. And young kids like yourself could be hit by one of those big props going aroundâ€"three- to five-megawatt wind turbines, great big thunderous things, almost frightening, really. And then the solar panels to create enough energyâ€"you know, a solar panel farm that they're building down in Sarnia is 500 times as big as the Legislature here. All the land it's taking up could be farmed, making food for children in Africa or places like that. I am just shocked at some of the stuff that's in this bill.

But there's another part, the home energy audit. I think they've listened to this, because this was another tax, pure and simple. It was a mandatory audit; it was a tax on the homebuyer. Blah, blah, blah. That's another tax. Plus, remember, I said the energy is going up.

Now here's the other part. I've discovered this: In my riding of Durham there's a plan to build two reactorsâ€"new AECL reactors, I hope. I'm going to make my argument here fairly straightforward because I want it on the record so I can send it out to all the power workers in my riding. I'm on your side. I think the government and Mr. McGuinty are wrong here. AECL is the designer and developer of the Candu reactor. It's Canadian technology. It's knowledge-based economy. It's knowledge workers. These are skilled engineers and technical support people, in the design and development, the installation and build, and the maintenance. We want to keep these jobs. What have I got coming from Premier McGuinty? They're going to look at the French company. Wait a minute here. AECL is ourâ€"I was shocked again when this happened, this betrayal of Canadian knowledge. They've got this competitive bid going on. This is important; I want this on the record here. Areva is the French consortium company that's bidding against AECL's Candu reactor. They are different technologies. Ours has been here at Darlington and Pickering and the Bruce plant. There's one other one, the Gentilly plant, in Canada.

Here's my argument; it's very important. We should be supporting our own technology. It should be the highest, safest quality that we can possibly have, by all peer reviews. We've never had a Three Mile Island or a Chernobyl. What's the problem here? It's been operating for 30 years, and we're throwing it under the bus. I've discovered what it is, and I put this on the record directly to the Premier. What's happening here? AECL is a federal agency, a crown agency, and the big problem is that the Darlington reactor was originally priced at $4 billion. When it was completed, it was $14 billion. The big debate was that Ontario was left holding the bag. They were left holding the bag primarily because of the intervention by Bob Rae and David Peterson; basically that was it.

Mr. Paul Miller: Rae's a Liberal.

Mr. John O'Toole: Both of the Liberal parties; the NDP/Liberal Party. In fact, they were interfering because there was a lot of protest about building it. But here's what happened. Let's say there was an overrun. I guess the province of Ontario had to eat it. Somebody said before, "What about the debt retirement charge that's on your bill?" That's because of all this government intervention. Here's the problem, though: On the new bill that's going to occurâ€"congratulations, they're going to build more nuclear generation, which is good. This is the real thing; this may be a discovery for most people here. The real fight behind the scenes, behind the debate hereâ€"this is all a disguiseâ€"is about who's going to own the overrunâ€"the on time, on budgetâ€"for the new-build nuclear. And here's what I've discovered. They're trying to argue, "We're going to use Areva unless the federal government, Stephen Harper, assumes the liability and overrun on any new build." That's exactly what it's about. They're trying to get the federal government to say, "Look, we'll take any overruns."

Well, here's what should happenâ€"and I put this to the Premier: Let's get on with it. The province of Ontario has all of the Candu support industries. It's located in Mississauga. I've met with a couple of the consultants and I put this on the table to them, and I'm not making this up. This is not light-hearted; this is serious stuff. I said to them, "Do you think that they're playing political games here?" They didn't want to say, but it's true. They want Stephen Harper to eat the overruns.

Now, Stephen Harper, as the Prime Minister of Canada, is going to go to Quebec. Quebec has hydro power; they don't want to support nuclear. So they move to our next-door neighbour, Manitoba. That's hydroelectric power; they don't want to support nuclear. So you go to BC. It's hydroelectric; they don't want to support nuclear. Go to all the provinces. Newfoundland; it's hydroelectric. The other provinces should notâ€"this is all about Ontario. If Premier McGuinty had leadershipâ€"and I'd support him, I'd vote for him, if he went my way, that is.

Here's the point: He should go in and say, "Look, I want to form a partnership, a consortium with the federal government, the provincial government and the AECL supply groups. Let's get this project moving, working co-operatively, sharing the liability and the innovation, and bring this in on time, on budget and make Ontario," with this vision of mine which I'm prepared to share, "the number one jurisdiction for energy."

Why is that so important? What are the provinces in this country that we envy? Danny Williams in Newfoundland and Labrador. What's the source of wealth? Energy. Then we go out toâ€"what's his name, the new Premier in Alberta? I can't think of his name. Anyway, the Premier of Albertaâ€"

Mr. Robert Bailey: Ed Stelmach.

Mr. John O'Toole: Stelmach. What's his base of wealthâ€"or his former base of wealth? It's energy.

Ontario could lead the way to the own prosperity. Let's be honest about it. If this bill here, Bill 150, is about renewablesâ€"remember, I said I'd come back. If you look at the supply management report from the OPA, the Ontario Power Authority, when Jan Carr was the chief operating officer, less than 5%, if you look at a pie chart, of the total generating capacity will come from renewables. This isn't going to create anything except a lot of paperwork and very expensive energy.

I want to go through and make a couple of references here in the very short time I've been permitted. See, they're actually sort of trying to stop me getting this information out. They're trying to blockâ€"it's red tape.

There's a very good article today that I want to share with my viewers and with the members in the House. Some may have read it. Usually they just read the titles here, but this one here is a very good article. It's in the National Post, May 12. It's entitled "The Myth of the Danish Green Energy 'Miracle.'" Excellent article; I commend it to everyone. I'm going to file this with the table now. This is written by a professor of law and economics from the faculty of the University of Toronto, Michael Trebilcock. The distinguished researcher for our caucus has advised me that the Liberal McGuinty government has consultedâ€"and Professor Trebilcock did all their work on the Legal Aid Review, so he's an independent, impartial academic professional.

What does he say? Here's the central piece of his theory, his theme: Wind power doesn't reduce CO2 emissions. It costs consumers more and kills jobs. End of discussion. Now, you can read it but that's a summary, a précis of it.

Now, here's another one, "Canduâ€"A 'Made-In-Ontario' Solution for a Better Environment and Jobs"â€"a very good article by Don MacKinnon, president of the Power Workers' Union. These people are experts. George Smithermanâ€"great guy, he answers all the questions in an obscure sort of way, but he's not technically competent. Like, there's no possible way. So read this one by Don MacKinnon; it's excellent.

There's another good article. There are so many things, so much to say and so little time to say it. This is a really good article. It's called, "Fighting For, and Against, the Wind." We've heard from scientists, medical researchers etc. that wind is not all it's blown up to be. "Utility-scale wind energy, critics insist, is neither as green as supporters say, nor as economical."

1750

Solar power: What do you do when all the snow is on these panels? Do you get somebody up there to shovel them or what? You're liable to scrape the solar panels. There's a lot of talk and little action. "Hydro Rates May Soar: Critics." This is actually from the Toronto Sun. "End Green 'Dithering,' Utilities Told"; "Energy Audits Untimely."

There are articles here; here's one that's really good. It's by me, actually. It says, "Durham MPP Warns Ontarians will Pay More." These will probably be my final remarks for this afternoon, anyway. "Durham MPP John O'Toole said he is concerned that the McGuinty government's new energy policy means much higher electricity bills for Ontario homes and businesses." Why did I include business? Going back to the original in 1908, Sir Adam Beck had a vision. I'm challenging Premier McGuinty to get with the vision. Adam Beck had a saying, and Adam Beck's saying was "Power at cost." That's what his famous slogan was: "Power at cost." What he meant was power at any cost, because he built the whole economy on safe, reliable, affordable energy. That's what made Ontario great. What's driving Ontario into the ground? Ask the forestry industry. Ask the petrochemical industry. Ask all the industriesâ€"steel industries. Their biggest cost of input is energy. That's putting them out of business.

My press release goes on: "'In my view"â€"this is my own viewâ€""the McGuinty government's bill is basically feel-good legislation. It's bad news in terms of lasting and effective real policy and reliable, affordable energy.'

"The Durham MPP, who participated in public hearings on Bill 150, the Green Energy Act, said he continues to support alternative sources of energy, including geothermal, solar and wind, but he adds that these sources need more breakthroughs in research and innovation before they can be applied to replace conventional power which is reliably priced and understood." This is too important to be trivial about.

Take up my challenge on the Candu technology. I urge Liberal members to do that. Also, in my view, look and keep a close eye on emerging technologies: Microturbines, for instance, are being used in England. There's a whole array of technology. You're not taking the time to get this right. I think at the end of the day the true test of this is that energy is going to cost more in a time when the economy is already crumbling under the pressures of McGuinty's outrageous scale of taxes.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Paul Miller: I'd like to commend the member. He's very entertaining at times and is very expressive in his beliefs, and that's nice and refreshing to see. But I'll be honest with you: I can safely say that when they deregulated hydro a few years ago in the city of Stoney Creekâ€"I was on council at the timeâ€"the government made it look like we were going to get better hydro rates. They deregulated. They privatized. Guess what? We didn't get better rates.

Now they're going to come out with this Green Energy Act. I'll be waiting once again with bated breath. I'm going to get rebates from my hydro company? Horizon Utilities is going to send me a cheque once a year for all this new energy for the grid? I have to say I don't think that's going happen. They always say, "Well, if we cut down the costs, we'll pass them on to the consumer." Baloney. They're not going to pass it on to the consumer. They never do; they never will. We'll pay more and more.

You tell me why we pay higher hydro rates in Ontario than they do in some southern states. That's unbelievable. We have Niagara Falls. We have nukes. We have everything here generating power. We sell power to the eastern seaboard. The blackout that happened a few years ago was because there was a breakdown in the system. We sell electricity to the eastern seaboard. We export more electricity than we need for our people here. It's unbelievable. They even ship electricity from northern Ontario into the grid down in southern Ontario, when communities up there are going under and the forestry people are paying hydro bills. It makes absolutely no sense to sit here and listen to this, that we're going to get lower hydro bills. Nonsense. It's not going to happen. I'll be waiting for that first cheque. After the government puts their plan in place, I'll be waiting for that big cheque coming back from Hydro for my rebate. I think I'll be waiting a long time.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Mr. Robert Bailey: I'd like to rise and comment on the member from Durham's excellent remarks, especially when he quoted from his own news releases. I know that they're beyond question, beyondâ€"

Mr. Mike Colle: They didn't ask for the documents?

Mr. Robert Bailey: He said he's going to table those with the table. He works from a non-disclosed location. That's where he keeps all his paperwork. He's like Dick Cheney. He works from an non-disclosed location and he can't reveal where he actually prepares all this paperwork.

Mr. Mike Colle: In a bunker.

Mr. Robert Bailey: He's not in a bunker. He's Archie Bunker.

Anyway, it's great to hear his take on it. I find him always knowledgeable. No matter what the subject is, the member for Durham can go on and explain it in an erudite and concise manner. He gets his point across.

I know there's going to be more debate tomorrow on Bill 150. We look forward to that. I might even have something to say on it if they let me speak.

I've read that same article that the member was speaking about, the "Myth of the Danish Green Energy 'Miracle.'" I was going to actually use that myself. I'll have to reframe my remarks now because it looks like they've been covered.

I know down in my area in Sarniaâ€"Lambton we're concerned because of the policy. They've talked about closing a major employer there, the Lambton generating station. I've urged OPG and the minister as well to look at some type of biomassâ€"I know they're doing some research there themselves, OPG, at the generating stationâ€"that they could keep that plant running, keep those jobs. It would be about a $3-million hit a year on the local economy. It's also a big taxpayer to St. Clair township, the local municipality.

For those reasons and more, I would urge that as we move forward, if Bill 150 is implemented, we look at ways of keeping that employer going.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to the rest of the debate tomorrow.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Questions and comments?

The member for Durham, you have to up to two minutes to respond.

Mr. John O'Toole: I'd like to thank the member for Hamilton Eastâ€"Stoney Creek. He's paid close attention on this issue and spoke this afternoon. I read his remarks. Actually, the member from Sarniaâ€"Lambton spoke quite wildly and wisely.

I was referring to this article myself. "Wake up, Mr. McGuinty," it saysâ€"

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Okay, okay. You know the rules, member for Durham.

Mr. John O'Toole: This is a newspaper resource, but anyway I know I'm out ofâ€"

Mr. Robert Bailey: Can you table that document?

Mr. John O'Toole: I will table that document on the Lambton generating station.

But here's the real essence. This bill on the Danish experimentâ€"and it was an experiment with green energy. "The International Energy Agency shows that the cost of residential electricity in Denmark in 2007 was" 34 cents per kilowatt hour. What are we paying today? It's 5.3 cents. Read my lips. That's six times more money. How can you vote against, on the one sideâ€"this is what I call a wedge issue. Green energy we support; 34-cent energy we don't support. We think of the people of Ontario first and foremost.

When I look at energy in Ontario, if you look at the consumption profile, 65% to 70% of the energy consumed in Ontario is consumed by industry; and if we make industry unaffordable, we're exporting jobs. This policy is failed and flawed, and is being run through this House with reckless abandon and disregard for the economy of Ontario.

I can't possibly support it on that theory and premise alone. At the same time, I want it to be remembered, in my final remarks, that I support green energyâ€"but not this solution.

Interjection: Green energy.

Mr. John O'Toole: Green energy forever.

Third reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): It being 6 of the clock, this House is adjourned until 9 of the clock Wednesday, May 13.

The House adjourned at 1759.