L059 - Wed 18 Sep 2013 / Mer 18 sep 2013

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO

Wednesday 18 September 2013 Mercredi 18 septembre 2013

ORDERS OF THE DAY

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS
AMENDMENT ACT
(LEAVES TO HELP FAMILIES), 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES NORMES D’EMPLOI
(CONGÉS POUR AIDER LES FAMILLES)

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

TRANSIT ACCIDENT IN OTTAWA

ORAL QUESTIONS

PUBLIC TRANSIT

PUBLIC TRANSIT

MEMBERS’ PRIVILEGES

GOVERNMENT’S AGENDA

PUBLIC TRANSIT

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

RECYCLING

PUBLIC TRANSIT

POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

DRIVE CLEAN

PUBLIC TRANSIT

PUBLIC TRANSIT

PENSION PLANS

PENSION PLANS

MEMBERS’ STATEMENTS

DISASTERS IN ALGOMA–MANITOULIN

SCARBOROUGH

MICHAEL MCGLYNN

STUDENT SAFETY

LAW SCHOOL IN NORTHERN ONTARIO

RENEWABLE ENERGY

EVENTS IN CLAREMONT

FRUIT AND VEGETABLE GROWERS

BALL CONSTRUCTION

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT
(MINOR ACCIDENTS
AND NEW DRIVERS), 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES ASSURANCES
(ACCIDENTS MINEURS
ET NOUVEAUX CONDUCTEURS)

SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS
ELECTION ADVERTISING
TRANSPARENCY ACT, 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 SUR LA TRANSPARENCE
DE LA PUBLICITÉ ÉLECTORALE
DES GROUPES D’INTÉRÊT PARTICULIER

SENCHURA HOLDINGS LTD. ACT, 2013

ARCHIVES AND RECORDKEEPING
AMENDMENT ACT, 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES ARCHIVES PUBLIQUES
ET LA CONSERVATION DES DOCUMENTS

PROTECTING STUDENTS
ACT, 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 PROTÉGEANT
LES ÉLÈVES

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
AND RESPONSES

TEACHERS

HOME INSPECTORS

TEACHERS

HOME INSPECTORS

TEACHERS

HOME INSPECTORS

PETITIONS

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

SERVICES FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED

FAMILY SAFETY

PHYSIOTHERAPY SERVICES

AIR-RAIL LINK

LONG-TERM CARE

EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES

FAMILY CAREGIVER LEAVE

FISHING AND HUNTING REGULATIONS

HYDRO RATES

PUBLIC TRANSIT

TIRE DISPOSAL

PRIVATE MEMBERS’
PUBLIC BUSINESS

OPPOSITION DAY

PUBLIC TRANSIT

The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Good morning. Please join me in prayer.

Prayers.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS
AMENDMENT ACT
(LEAVES TO HELP FAMILIES), 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES NORMES D’EMPLOI
(CONGÉS POUR AIDER LES FAMILLES)

Resuming the debate adjourned on September 12, 2013, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 21, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of family caregiver, critically ill child care and crime-related child death or disappearance leaves of absence / Projet de loi 21, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2000 sur les normes d’emploi en ce qui concerne le congé familial pour les aidants naturels, le congé pour soins à un enfant gravement malade et le congé en cas de décès ou de disparition d’un enfant dans des circonstances criminelles.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Further debate?

Mr. John Yakabuski: Good morning, Speaker, and thank you very much for allowing me to speak to Bill 21, the family caregiver leave act.

I believe there was a previous incarnation of this bill, Bill 30, back before the infamous prorogation of 2012. However, the government seems to have fit this one into its list of priorities to bring back—interesting. I was really hopeful that there would be an economic development bill or something before the House this morning.

The Premier was in Mitchell yesterday, as were a lot of other political leaders. Not that I’m a political leader, but I was there too.

Interjection.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Yes, they certainly will, I say to the Attorney General.

It is pretty clear that people are looking for some action, here in the province of Ontario, when it comes to our economy.

This bill, while it’s a bill we support, really is a vacuous piece of legislation; there’s not much in it. It does allow for up to eight weeks of unpaid—I want to stress that—up to eight weeks of unpaid leave. It also states that they must take that time in increments of not less than one week.

Now, there are all kinds of problems with this bill. At the same time, we are supporting it because we want to see this get to committee—although, I must say, what committee is it going to get to, because all the committees are jammed up right now? But we do want to see this bill get to committee, so that whatever improvements can be made will be made. Hopefully, the government will co-operate on some of those changes.

The part I was talking about, the requirement that all leave must be taken in increments of not less than one week: If anybody has ever been dealing with someone who is suffering from cancer, battling cancer, and has to go on a regular basis for treatments—I recall my brother-in-law many years ago; he did pass away from cancer, but over periods of time he had to go daily from Barry’s Bay to Ottawa for treatments, and back, of course, on the same day.

Having had the ability to take weeks at a time would not have been very helpful to anybody who was helping Eric with his treatments. However, being able to take a day here and a day there would have been far more workable in that situation. So that’s an issue that I think the government might want to take a look at in this bill.

But the fundamental problem in the bill is one that I’ve heard my friends from the third party talk about over and over again, and I have spoken about it here as well in the context of a two-minute hit question-and-comment response, is that this is all lovely stuff, I say to the member from Peterborough; not Mitchell, the member from Peterborough—

Interjection.

Mr. John Yakabuski: The Minister of Rural Affairs is having a conversation there—he’s not bothering me—with the Minister of Correctional Services. They’re not bothering me, but from time to time they do try to take me off my topic. Not today, though.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order, please. I can’t hear the member.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Am I still on, Speaker? Thank you.

The fundamental problem, as I said, is that they came out with this bill, they want to appear to be doing something very, very kind and nice for people, but they don’t let their money do the talking. They throw the bill out there, but they want employers and everyone else to absorb any of the challenges.

Now, to be fair—

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: No, it’s unpaid.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Well, you still have to replace workers, I say to the Minister of—Consumer Services, is it?

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: Yes.

Mr. John Yakabuski: You still have to replace workers. If you’re in a very small business—I was in a small business for many years, and I recognize that if one of your key people was off for a period of time, you had to replace them. At the same time—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I’m glad you two are having a conversation amongst yourselves.

Remember me? We’ll go through the Chair, won’t we? Thank you.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Not only do I remember you, Speaker, I will never forget you.

I say to the minister, through you, Speaker, that in the case of a key employee, I would have made every effort to ensure—in fact, I would have made sure—that that job was there for them, because in a small business, your key employees are like family. So when they’re suffering, you’re suffering too. So I might ask the question, then what’s the need of the legislation if you’re also relying on the goodwill of employers?

But what you’re doing is trying to throw something out there and portray it as something it’s not. You should be working with the federal government to come up with a piece of legislation that is supported by them, is coordinated with them through the Employment Insurance Act, so that it functions seamlessly.

It’s okay for you to throw this out there and say, “Let’s be nice to people who have family challenges,” or—there are many, many different circumstances; I understand this and I won’t articulate them all, because we don’t really have enough time. But there are a number of circumstances in which this bill applies, not just for people who are ill, but there are other circumstances, where a child has been a victim of a crime etc. It’s a laudable goal from that perspective.

However, again, here’s this Liberal government who has no problem spending money, because—good lord, Speaker, they’ve got us so far in the hole, I can’t even see the light at the top. We’re so far down there, we can’t even see the light. I hope that some day soon—and that’s a little cowboy song, “Someday Soon”—you people over there actually see the light and recognize what a disaster you have perpetrated on the province and the people who live here in Ontario.

0910

I hope that you change your tune so that your complete commitment to deficit financing at the expense of—you know, this family caregiver leave act is about taking care of others. What the heck have you done to our children and our grandchildren? What kind of Ontario are you leaving them? That’s what I ask you. Why aren’t you doing something to ensure that the next generation has an Ontario they can be proud of, one where they get up in the morning and know that they have a good job to go to? That’s what you should be thinking about here in the province of Ontario, you folks over there on the other side. You shouldn’t be bringing out this smug piece of legislation to try to make yourselves look good; you should do something that’s going to make it good for the people who come after us, for our children, our grandchildren, who are going to be struggling down the road because of the decisions that you have made as part of this McGuinty-Wynne alliance. It is destroying Ontario.

Back to the bill. For somebody who has no problem spending $126 billion, you’d think you could come up with something to back your fancy schmancy little bill here with a few bucks. But no, not a nickel, not even a penny. They’ve got money. Hey, maybe Monique Smith would do that job in Washington gratis. Yeah, maybe she’d do that as public service, that job in Washington, not take the $250,000, where she’s gonna be livin’ high off the hog, a sweet little appointment.

Take care of Kathleen Wynne; she’ll take care of you. That’s called quid pro quo, making a job in Washington that we don’t need. It’s sort of like those windmills that you guys want to keep building. You’re paying people now to not produce power for power that we don’t need and never will need and can’t afford, but you’re leaving that as the legacy for the people of Ontario. Shame on you.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thanks very much. Questions and comments?

Miss Monique Taylor: Wow. Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I’m always pleased to follow the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke and his dynamic performances in this House. He really did make some good points; I have to give him that. It’s not very often that I can agree with a Conservative in this House, but we would not be debating this bill—because we’ve already debated it—if the members opposite had not prorogued this government last year.

We are wasting time in this House bringing forward bills that we have already debated for hours and hours. We have several issues in front of this House that could be coming back here with importance, like jobs. How are we getting our people in this province to work? This is a great small initiative, but what are families going to do when they have to take an unpaid leave to take care of their loved ones? Most families in this province are living from paycheque to paycheque, and here we are, saying, “Here you go. We’ll keep your job safe,” which is a good thing, and I’m sure they’d appreciate it, but how are they going to make sure that they have travel costs to get to and from where they need to be, especially with our folks in northern parts of the province that don’t have the hospital facilities and the clinics that they need close to them?

There’s a lot more that could go into this bill. It would be great to see the cousins of the members here bring forward EI that could be established with this to make it sustainable for families so that they really can wholeheartedly care for their loved ones without having to worry about where they’re going to get that money to pay the mortgage that month, to pay all of their outstanding debts that will still continue during that time.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Hon. John Gerretsen: I always enjoy listening to my fellow colleague from eastern Ontario. He obviously had a bad day yesterday at the International Plowing Match for the attitude that he’s showing here today.

What we have here is a filibuster in every respect. Let me give you some facts, Speaker. Five bills have gone over six and a half hours, as suggested by standing order 47 that the average bill should have: air ambulance, 19 hours; non-profit housing co-ops, almost 16 hours; Local Food Act, 20.5 hours; Stronger Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, almost 19 hours; the budget, 25.5 hours. What does it mean? The Tories are filibustering and do not want to let the business of Ontario take place in this Legislature.

Now, if they stop filibustering and pass this bill that they’re going to support—let me just give you the number of bills that are currently on the order paper that could be discussed, very important bills: one dealing with the Great Lakes act; highway traffic statute law; the Security for Courts, Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act; the Wireless Services Agreement Act, the cellphones—everybody’s concerned about that; the Protection of Public Participation Act, the anti-SLAPP legislation that everybody is in favour of, that I’ve heard about; the Companies Statute Law Amendment Act; the Waste Reduction Act, so that we can increase the amount of recycling that we do in this province. All of this could be accomplished if the Conservative Party stops filibustering.

Stop filibustering those bills that you agree with. Let’s get on with the business that the people of Ontario want us to get on with, and do not filibuster and have this Legislature come to a complete standstill.

Interjections.

Hon. John Gerretsen: You know what you’re doing, and it’s wrong.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: It’s always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the Ontario PC caucus in this chamber, and also to follow my seatmate and very good friend, the MPP for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

I appreciate the comments by my colleagues from the third party. I do take exception, however, with the characterizations by the Attorney General. We both come from eastern Ontario and I expect that he would actually come to this assembly and he would communicate—

Hon. John Gerretsen: I’m deeply hurt.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Well, I’m deeply hurt as well, Minister, because here is the situation: The government may want to talk about filibustering and delays but it wasn’t the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party that prorogued this assembly for five months, that basically put a padlock on those doors so we couldn’t do our work, and when challenged, we find private emails from the Ontario Liberal Party that say the priority for the government of the time was to shut us down so we could stop looking at the power plants, in which they’ve lost $1 billion, and in which they suggested that it was more important for them to have a leadership than it was to actually govern this province.

If we want to talk about passing legislation and if we want to talk about making this province better for the people who live there, then I would humbly suggest to the members opposite that they would have challenged their Premier at the time, and their current Premier, and have said that we must sit in this assembly, but they chose not to.

Many pieces of legislation died on the order paper. Many pieces of legislation were delayed, they had to be reintroduced, and at the time we were unable, as members of the opposition, to probe this government. So simply put, my seatmate, the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke, has simply brought up all of those challenges that we have faced and he has put them into context as a result of what this bill does not do.

We will support this bill but I assure you, Speaker, this is something that could have been done much more quickly had this government stopped obstructing the ability for members of the opposition to do their job.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I’m very pleased to speak after my dear friend from Pembroke. I really enjoyed his performance yesterday; I know he had a bad day yesterday. He fell down the wagon at the plowing match, so that’s why he’s very agitated today.

0920

But still, I think that it’s about time that we vote on this bill because there are very good bills that are waiting to be debated. As the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services—and the Ombudsman is very public about it. He wants us to pass Bill 51, the Security for Courts, Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act. I know that my friend was a great contributor to the amendments to this bill, and I thank him for that. He’s very supportive of it. I’d like us to go on with this bill because we have also Bill 6, the Great Lakes act, that we need to debate in this House and that we need to pass. We have the good bill, Bill 60, the Wireless Services Agreements Act. It’s important that we vote on that one, because right now our constituents are paying because of this action that is going on in the House. They would like us to debate that bill and pass that bill. We also have the Protection of Public Participation Act, Bill 83, a bill from the AG.

Hon. John Gerretsen: It’s a great bill.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: It’s a great bill, and we would like this to be debated in the House—a short debate and pass this bill.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke has two minutes.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I appreciate the comments of my colleague from Hamilton Mountain, the Attorney General, the member for Nepean–Carleton and the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

I thank the member from Hamilton Mountain for her kind words. We don’t agree on everything, but we agree on some portions of what we’ve talked about in this bill.

I actually had a really good day yesterday at the plowing match, but I do want to say to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Attorney General that the air ambulance bill—19 hours. I know you think that’s a lot of time. Is that enough time to talk about the billion dollars you people have wasted on the Ornge scandal? Is that too much time to talk about what you have cost the people of this province and the lives that have been lost by mistakes of the Ornge ambulance operation and the lives that have been put in jeopardy? I know one in my riding that was directly related to the failures of Ornge, and you want to talk less about it? I can see why.

As for the Minister of Correctional Services talking about Bill 60, the wireless bill, and how people are unhappy with cell phone costs, I’ll tell you what our people are unhappy with as well: hydro costs. What are you doing about it? Have you got a bill to do something about hydro costs? No. Do you know what you’re doing? You’re going to build 5,000 more megawatts of wind. We don’t have a market for the wind they’re producing now. We’re going to pay them to not produce it—pay them for producing nothing—but you want to keep building more.

Speaker, if doing something is a losing proposition, most people figure out that they should stop doing that, but this government? No. They’re locked into their philosophy; they’re locked into their ideology, and it’s the people of the province of Ontario who are paying and paying and will continue to pay until they figure it out.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Rob Leone: I’m pleased to rise in this House to talk about Bill 21, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of family caregiver, critically ill child care and crime-related child death or disappearance leaves of absence. It’s an interesting bill title, Mr. Speaker.

But before I begin, I want to suggest that I was also at the International Plowing Match yesterday. It seemed that the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke had a great time. Certainly I had a great time with the member for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke. When Liberal caucus members talk about their time, being protested by the folks who don’t like the wind turbines that they’re putting in and erecting—dividing communities—following their float all along, I would suggest that it’s probably my colleagues across the aisle who didn’t have quite a good time at the International Plowing Match, Mr. Speaker.

I’m always amazed when Liberal members come up and talk about this concept of a filibuster, and then they use not only their allotted time to respond to the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke, but go over that time. They had four minutes, and then extended that. If you think that we should move on with bills, maybe you should avoid talking to them. But that is obviously your prerogative, and I feel very proud that members of our caucus do want to debate bills, and we represent our constituents when we do that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to preface my comments today based on a personal experience that I had earlier in April. As some members of this Legislature know, my wife and I, in April, gave birth to our third child. It was obviously a joyous occasion, but shortly after the birth of our child, my wife actually got really, really sick in the post-labour days. In fact, we got home on Saturday, and she was readmitted to hospital the Monday following, and spent five days in intensive care with a very serious and life-threatening medical condition. She had a blood infection that was very, very serious.

I preface my remarks today with that little story because obviously I think a lot of people might have noticed my absence, particularly on my side of the aisle, and might have thought that I was taking a babymoon of sorts and taking some time to spend with my child. I actually was, because my child didn’t have any other parent to look after him other than myself. So we did spend some time at the hospital. Obviously, I took care of the newborn while my wife was recovering, and she spent some time thereafter trying to take care of herself. After she was released from the hospital, she spent many weeks recovering from her condition, and it was a very serious time.

I remember talking at length with my whip, the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke. Sometimes he likes to show that he has an iron fist and rules with an iron fist, but we actually call him, on this side of the aisle, the miracle whip, because he can pull off some fantastic things and ensure that work gets done in this Legislature.

I actually remember coming to the Legislature one day. We both didn’t have a chance to communicate, and on his trip home to Barry’s Bay and my trip back to Cambridge, we both spent some time talking about the situation that my wife was in. Obviously, he didn’t know the extent of what was going on at home. I remember talking about it, because he actually related to the scenario that my wife was going through because his daughter had meningitis, I believe, and we were talking about the links there.

I say that because when I remember that episode in my family’s life, I remember the care and compassion that the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke showed to myself and to my wife. Also, the Leader of the Opposition himself and Deb were very helpful and they actually provided us with a couple of meals to take home. I thank the Leader of the Opposition and Deb Hutton for that because it’s that care and compassion that I experienced.

So when I wanted to rise in this Legislature today to talk about this bill, I wanted to reference that, because I think people in those situations and those scenarios have to, obviously, understand what people go through in those moments—a very emotional time, a time where you don’t know what’s going to happen the next day. Those are very serious moments.

I think that any person, in the scenario or condition that I was in, going to their employer and saying, “Hey, I need to take a little bit of time off because I’m dealing with something very serious at home”—I think most compassionate employers in the province of Ontario would obviously grant that wish. I’d be very hopeful that the kindness and generosity of our province and the people of our province would show that kindness and that generosity to their workers.

So when I think about that episode and about how this team, my PC colleagues, rallied around myself at that time of critical need, I’m very proud to be part of this team, for sure, and blessed. They rallied, and I think that most Ontarians, when faced with one of their colleagues in a very serious moment in their life, would do the same thing.

0930

I wonder, after considering that, what the net effect of this legislation would actually be. Given that I do believe that most employers and most people in the province of Ontario are very compassionate and that they would obviously do anything they can to help out one of their friends, one of their colleagues out, the question is, do we actually need legislation like this, to essentially provide up to eight weeks of unpaid leave for people? Wouldn’t that almost be automatic? I want to preface my remarks by saying that. What would be the net effect of this bill once this legislation passes? Are we going to see a groundswell of people taking advantage of something that common sense would dictate already exists? I think we have to understand that. We spend a lot of time debating the bills, because what is the repercussion that we’re going to see? What are the consequences, what are the externalities that we have to think about when we’re debating these pieces of legislation?

I obviously have a lot of faith in the people of Ontario, a lot of faith in our employers, and I have a lot of faith in people whose colleagues might be facing a very serious and potentially traumatic period in their lives. So I wonder what the net effect of this bill is going to be on people’s lives. I have a suspicion that the net effect probably won’t be as great as the bill intends. This is a feel-good bill. Does it have any teeth to it? The answer is probably no.

When we first debated this bill many, many months ago, the question was this: They can take the time off, but are they going to get paid? And if you’re not going to get paid, are you going to take the time off? It’s certainly one of those questions and considerations that would come forth, and I can just see the lineup of constituents once this bill passes, saying, “Well, we’re entitled to this eight weeks but I have a hydro bill at home that I have to pay. I have—obviously, perhaps—to get myself to the hospital or to the place where my loved one has fallen ill. How am I going to pay for that? How am I going to sustain myself?”

These are obviously very critical questions that this bill does not address. I think, in people’s time of need, they’re not really thinking about, “Well, I need to pay a bill.” They want to obviously support and be supportive of their loved ones, but these are questions that I’m sure will come after the experience, after the moment passes and they realize that after eight weeks of taking care of a loved one, they can’t pay their bills. I think that’s just going to cause a lot of angst amongst people. They’re going to say that they have this leave that they can take, but without the strings that will enable them to take that leave, I think a lot of people will be left disappointed, thinking that we’ve passed this feel-good legislation without the necessary tools, without the mechanism by which we can actually achieve the results this bill attempts to do.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I believe that certainly the bill has merit. It’s a feel-good piece of legislation but I don’t know if the net effect is going to be positive or negative.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Miss Monique Taylor: All my best to your family, to the member from Cambridge. I hope that your wife is doing well and that your children are happy and healthy and that your life has somewhat been able to get back to some normal ground. All the best to you.

You raised some things that caught my ear about employers and their compassion. Yes, if it was a perfect world, employers would say, “It’s okay, go and deal with your family.” But unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. I worked in a sector in hospitality where it was more than often that I had the boss who, first of all, wouldn’t have told me my rights under the Employment Standards Act, which this would amend, and they wouldn’t have saved my job for me. So this little piece is important when it comes to that.

I also have to say, what would I do without a paycheque at the same time? That’s where we need to make sure we’re lobbying the federal government on this piece of legislation to try to get EI attached to it so that families can take care of their family clear-headedly, knowing that at least they don’t have to worry for their bills, that at least they will be able to pay the hydro bill, hopefully. Something has to be attached to it, because I’m quite sure that when you were taking care of your family, the last thing you wanted to worry about was, “Am I going to be able to pay my bills?”

We all know that you’re probably—most likely—in a position that you wouldn’t have to worry about that, but there are so many families out there that do have to worry about that. They’re living paycheque to paycheque, and they don’t know how they’re going to pay that bill.

I hope we can get this off to committee, put some more teeth in it and make sure that it really does help the people of this province.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Hon. Jeff Leal: I want to commend the member from Cambridge for some very thoughtful comments this morning, articulated really well.

I just want to share a real-life example, and I talked about it last week. A teaching colleague of my wife’s in Peterborough, at St. Patrick school, had a sister in Grafton, Ontario, suffering from bone cancer. She wanted to come to Peterborough to access PRHC, because of the radiation bunker, which provides some alleviation of the severe pain that one has with bone cancer.

The family, including the colleague of my wife, took some time off. The sister was moved to her home in Peterborough, because the extended family was in Lakefield, Ontario, close by to Peterborough. They had made the decision to have all the family together at this individual’s home in Peterborough. This person passed away a day ago. She was also a teacher at the Catholic school in Grafton.

It was the opportunity to take some time off, to have the family all there together in the home in Peterborough, and all the members were able to come together. They had set up a schedule where the sister would not be left alone, on a 24/7 basis; they were there every day to be with her.

Obviously, when this bill reaches committee, we can have a discussion about time off, the eight weeks. I know that for this particular family, having that opportunity to be with a wife, an aunt, a cousin—it was very precious time, as the end was near.

If this bill gives that opportunity for families right across the province of Ontario, I think that can be looked at as a very good piece of legislation.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. John O’Toole: It’s a pleasure to rise, out of respect for the comments made by the member from Cambridge. Dr. Leone and his family have just recently had a little child. He explained in his remarks how these things affect each of our lives and, in fact, the lives of our constituents.

I think the health care system is a good place to start on this, because often these needs of individual families—last week, I had people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis here to speak to the Minister of Health. These are people who are slowly being suffocated because of the lack of proper medication for a chronic ailment they have. There is a medication that would help to improve that situation. I think of my constituents and the people who were here last week. They can’t get access to these drugs under EAP, the Exceptional Access Program for medications. The minister is basically just not listening. In fact, if nothing else, it would give them hope.

When you look at individual cases and why they may need time off, or family caregivers need to have a break or something—I think this bill needs to go to committee. As we have said before, we support it. Mr. Leone said as well that it is generally a feel-good bill.

0940

The government itself, under the Employment Standards Act, is saying you can have this number of days off. So really, it’s downloading onto the employer, the small mom-and-pop business that needs that person to pack the groceries or to mix the paint or whatever it is in the little store they’re operating. They can’t mix the paint or pack or prepare the meat; the butcher is off sick or something. Do you understand? They have to replace that person. I suspect that’s really the problem here: There’s no mechanism for the small business—the larger businesses usually have enough flexibility. I managed an area in a plant and I understand the deal.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

The member from Cambridge has two minutes.

Mr. Rob Leone: I’d like to thank, first of all, the member from Hamilton Mountain, the Minister of Rural Affairs and the member for Durham for their comments. Yes, to the member from Hamilton Mountain, everything is fine and dandy at home now and everyone is healthy, thankfully, after that period of time. I should have mentioned that, I think, in my remarks. Things are going well.

The Minister of Rural Affairs: First of all, my condolences on the loss of your constituent yesterday. Those are the kinds of stories that we hear from time to time that at least show that this bill has some merit, that we can help some people by this. Again, I’m concerned by the fact that once we broadcast that this actually exists, people are going to wonder what the mechanisms are going to be, but I guess that’s what we have committees for. We have committees for discussing these issues and moving forward.

Certainly, I would hope that members of this Legislature do take the time to consider all the ins and outs of this bill. I think the member from Durham, in raising the point about smaller businesses being perhaps affected differently by this legislation—that is a consideration that certainly merits some further attention. But at the end of the day I still have faith in the good-heartedness of Ontarians who want to be helpful in times of need. I do suspect that there are going to be, obviously, a few bad apples, but let’s hope that we can aspire to better and to celebrate what I believe is the greatest province in this country because of the good things that we do and the good-naturedness and kindness of our hearts.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the time to speak to Bill 21. I will listen intently to other speakers to this bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Jack MacLaren: It gives me great pleasure and it is a privilege to speak to Bill 21, Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families), 2013. This act is an act of compassion for families that are suffering with the great misfortune of having a sick child or a sick family member. Often these diseases go on at great length and are extremely draining on families just from the point of view of the sick family member, and if they have to work they don’t have the time to stay at home and be with their family member. So although this bill seems to do just a little bit—it doesn’t offer money, but it offers time to families to spend with their sick family member or to grieve over their child who has died, whether it’s from illness or disappearance or a crime.

So we support this bill, as the PC Party. Compassion is something that is non-partisan, as we heard the Premier speak about last week. We embrace her offer to support non-partisan bills because this is non-partisan. It’s about helping people, about showing compassion as government, as neighbours, as family, to those who are having trouble at home. Losing a family member, having a family member who is ill, is always a terrible experience.

I’d like to tell you a few stories. I suspect every member here has people come into their office looking for help because they’re desperate. They are very sad stories, they’re heart-breaking stories, and they’re the thing that drive a lot of us to carry on day to day, doing what we do. Being a politician can be a frustrating life, because we’re unfortunately not able to change the world overnight, like I thought we could do when I first came here. I’ve discovered it’s different, it’s very different.

Interjection.

Mr. Jack MacLaren: Yes, I need more than one night. However, not to make light of this bill—this is a very important bill. Compassion for our neighbours, for families who are having trouble, is something that we must do. I would say that as a caring society we have a moral obligation to help people who are in trouble. Certainly we will vote for this and we will support this, because this is non-partisan and we support the Premier entirely. She’s not very good at plowing, but this is a good idea on her part.

I’d like to tell you a few stories of people who came into my office that demonstrated very clearly to me troubles that families are having.

Paul Joinette is a constituent of mine from Stittsville. He’s a small business man, and I was in to see him because he called about a problem he was having with the city of Ottawa asking for permits for his small business or for this or for that; they seemed to be quite unreasonable, so I went over to see him to try to offer help on that issue. As I was sitting in his office, I looked up at the wall, and there was a poster of this beautiful young woman—about a three-foot-square poster, a picture of her dressed in casual clothes, very recreational clothes, and with a beautiful smile. I said to Paul, “Who’s that, Paul, in the picture on your wall?” He said, “That’s Emily. Emily is my daughter and she died.” Emily had cystic fibrosis. She had died two years previously of this terrible disease. I must admit I wasn’t familiar with it because I’d never known a family first-hand that had a child who had cystic fibrosis. I am aware now because the story that Paul told me was the saddest story that I ever heard.

He went on to say that Emily was the apple of his eye, the joy of his life. When she was young, it became apparent that she had cystic fibrosis. It’s one of those terrible diseases that, when you hear that news, it’s like a 20-year death sentence, because it affects the lungs; their lungs will fail. They will die because they cannot breathe because of scarring on the lungs and impairment of the lungs. It gets worse with age. Usually by the age of their early 20s, these people die a slow, long, miserable death, and families have to watch this and deal with this. It’s hard to imagine, as a father or a mother, experiencing that.

So Paul told us about the many trips to hospitals, in and out of emergencies, and how the mucus in her lungs would impede her breathing, plug her breathing tubes, and they would have to massage her back and help her to try and get this mucus out of her lungs. It would be very thick and pasty—to use his words, like peanut butter. So you can imagine trying to breathe with that kind of material in your lungs and in your throat. He had to live with that, and every day he and his wife had to help his daughter and massage her and get through that battle on a daily basis.

The objective was to try and get a lung transplant. After a lengthy period of time, they found matching lungs, and she had a lung transplant. Unfortunately, the lungs and her body weren’t compatible and it didn’t work, so that was a failure. As I recall, I think they even had a second chance at a lung transplant, and that didn’t work either. In the end, poor Emily died in the hospital, holding her father’s hand. I must admit it was the saddest story I ever heard a father tell. Any of us who have children could relate to that.

So we need to provide time for people like Paul and his wife to try to cope with that. It actually was a stress over the years that the family couldn’t stand. He and his wife are no longer together, which is another tragedy. Something like this bill would be a little bit that would help somewhat. So that’s one of the reasons we support the bill.

Another fellow who came into my office was Jim Bryce, who has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which my colleague from Durham was speaking about a few minutes ago. He’s not a child; he’s an older man. He’s 73. He’s very brave and very proud. He said, “I’m not complaining. I’ve had a good life.” He was very articulate, very well spoken. He said, “I have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and I have about three years to live. I’m going to die, but I’ve had a good life.”

There is a drug available from a company called InterMune that would give him more time and give all these people more time. It’s approved in Canada, but it’s not approved by the government. So it’s really unfortunate that Jim Bryce’s family is not going to have that extra time available to him that this drug would provide. I think that’s a travesty.

Another family in my riding went through a terrible time. They had two sons—Bill and Laurie Ayliffe, from the community of MacLaren’s Landing, which is where I live, Mr. Speaker. You’ll have to come and see us sometime. It’s a beautiful place. The Ayliffes enjoy it tremendously.

They had a son who was about 20 and he couldn’t cope with depression and took his own life about 10 years ago. That had been going on for years and years and years, a terrible thing to live through, always afraid that the poor boy isn’t going to be able to cope and someday will end his life, which he did.

0950

They had a second son, and a year ago, unfortunately, in an industrial accident on a construction site, he made a mistake. He got electrocuted and he died.

So here is a family that had two sons and now they are both gone. If anybody needs compassion, it’s that family. They are destroyed. They’re just the saddest people you would ever want to see; their family is gone and it’s hard for them to come up with the spirit to live on and carry on.

Another group of people that comes into my office that is heartbreaking and probably the one that we should and could do the most for is families that have children with autism. The stories they tell are heart-wrenching, heartbreaking, and we as a society and as a government don’t do enough. Again, as a caring society, I believe we have a moral obligation to help those who can’t help themselves, and certainly families with autism fall into that category. We look after people who have heart troubles, cancer troubles, broken legs, all these more common ailments; they get full treatment, full financing. But if you have autism, mental illness—and seniors often are without the help they need.

Marta Chénier and her husband, Tim McGinn, have a son, Logan. They get no financing from the government. He has to, by law, go to school. They’re called every day to come and pick the boy up because he disrupts the class, so he basically shouldn’t be there. Twice, when they went to pick him up, the police had the boy handcuffed in class. Now, that would do him a heck of a lot of good to rehabilitate him and fit back into society. There are private clinics that would help him with IBI treatment. They know that; they don’t have the money. This family has gone bankrupt twice. Their boy is 12 years old. He’s sort of in that grey area of too old or not too old. We’re trying to help from our office but it is very difficult, and we need to do better in this province to help families that have autism.

All of these stories are about compassion for families that are suffering with death or illness and we don’t do a good enough job. My point here is that this is a good bill. We support this bill, but compassion is something that we all need to be extending more and more. We need to set our priorities as a government and be looking after people, especially people who have health troubles like this, and stop looking after things like green energy acts, endangered species acts, and things that don’t look after people.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Miss Monique Taylor: This debate that’s been going on here today is a reflection of the debate that we had last year. The stories that we are hearing are no different; they’re different people, but they’re not different stories from what we heard last year. This bill does a very little bit to help folks.

There is another program out there called the family medical leave that does have EI attached to it. That is something where, when they have a family member who is about to die within 26 weeks, they can tap into those EI services and make sure that their finances are taken care of while they are taking care of their family members.

But we really need to be looking at how we are taking care of families with autism. How is a family supposed to say, “Well, I have up to eight weeks to take care of my family issue that’s happening here that is completely beyond my control. I have absolutely no power. I have no money now to be able to do this, and I’m just expected to keep going”? Families are struggling. We need to make sure that we’re putting real things in place that are really going to affect families, that are really going to help families get through struggling situations.

There’s so much that can actually go into this bill. I really hope that we can move it out of here. It would be great to see it done debate and move on. Get it to committee. Let’s get these important pieces that we know need to happen—the changes to this legislation in committee—so we can move it forward and make it real for the people of this province.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. John Fraser: It’s a pleasure today to get up to speak about Bill 21. I’ve only been here—this is my second week. I think it’s my sixth day.

It’s evident to me that it’s something that we all agree on. It’s something we’re doing for families. I think that’s what I heard from all the members this morning. I think that when people send us here, they send us to get things done. It seems to be one of those things that we can get done. I would encourage all the members to support getting this thing moving forward.

When you’re in a family situation where someone is ill, dying or in a very serious health crisis, we have to provide—I agree—tools for those families to support them. This is one of those tools. There are many other tools that we need to provide, but we need to do that as a community, and communities have to do that. So I think sending a signal that this is important—it’s an important thing for people to consider, not only as business people or employers, but as family members and friends and members of community associations. I think it’s an important signal and I think we should get this thing done.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I rise with sadness and grief. My constituents today in Nepean–Carleton have witnessed a very tragic accident where a Via Rail car hit an OC Transpo double-decker bus. At the moment, we are aware that there have been five fatalities. I know I speak on behalf of everybody here to give love, support and grief to my constituents, those who have lost loved ones.

My community is the largest riding in the city of Ottawa. It’s one of the fastest-growing in Canada, as well. Many people on that bus are commuters to downtown Ottawa. Many of them are probably federal civil servants and students who commute from our bedroom community into the downtown.

I want to let my constituents know that I’ve already spoken with our neighbouring MPP, Madeleine Meilleur, who’s the community safety minister, who has assured me that the government of Ontario will do what it takes to support them. I’ve spoken to our municipal councillor, Jan Harder, who has assured me that the city of Ottawa will do what it takes, and hotlines are being set up at the moment. I have spoken with our federal member of Parliament, Pierre Poilievre, who is a cabinet minister. He has assured me that we will continue to keep the community updated.

Speaker, I’m sure you will understand that I will take leave from this place today to be with my community. I want to thank all of my colleagues who are going to be with us in prayer, and I want to thank all of those leaders in our community who work for OC Transpo and for other city services and our police and our fire for being there for response.

Thank you for indulging me, and I want to thank my colleagues for this opportunity to rise on this solemn occasion.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Sorry to hear that.

Questions and comments?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Being an MPP from Ottawa, my heart goes to the families and friends of those who already have received, or will receive, the bad news that someone—one of their loved ones, their friends—will have been a fatality, they will have died, in this unfortunate accident, or some others will be injured. I wanted to let them know that we will be working with the city of Ottawa and OC Transpo to give them the assistance that they need.

My love and prayers are with them. It is unfortunate, and we are all heartbroken hearing about this unfortunate incident.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Carleton–Mississippi Mills has two minutes.

Mr. Jack MacLaren: Mr. Speaker, it would seem that compassion has been called on this morning for the families in Ottawa who have suffered losses with this terrible accident. I just heard of it now from our member from Nepean–Carleton.

I, too, am from the Ottawa area. Perhaps people I know or constituents would be involved in the accident. Those of us from Ottawa, and indeed across the province, will need to spend some time thinking of this and responding to the situation and calling to see if there’s anything we can do.

1000

With respect to the bill at hand, we support this bill, as I mentioned earlier. Mr. Speaker, I think we’ve heard many voices—the member from Hamilton Mountain, the member from Ottawa South, from Nepean–Carleton and Ottawa–Vanier—expressing in very vivid fashion and in some detail the need for compassion for families, which has just become much more vivid and immediate with the Ottawa disaster.

At this point, I think I will end my comments on that note, Mr. Speaker, because there’s no need to say any more. We all know that we have a terrible day in Ontario on our hands because of this disaster in Ottawa.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Victor Fedeli: While I obviously am rising to speak to Bill 21, the Employment Standards Amendment Act, I certainly have to offer my comments as well to the member from Nepean–Carleton and the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and all members in this House, whether their riding is close to Ottawa or farther away, such as mine in Nipissing. This is obviously a terrible tragedy, and our hearts go out to the families and to the emergency services providers who are called yet again to duty. We thank them for their service, Speaker, and our prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones today. Their suffering is only going to begin with the news this morning.

It seems so trivial, Speaker, to speak to one of our bills here in the House after such a tragedy, but, as the families will heal and they’ll learn time will heal these—I think I’m going to mention something that the member from Carleton–Mississippi Mills said. This bill, Bill 21, Employment Standards Amendment Act, is not about money; it is about time. It’s about giving time to families who have a particular need. Like the members have also said, we believe this is a good bill and we will support this bill. The member from Hamilton Mountain also said, “Look, another year has gone by. The names and the examples have changed but the stories are the same”—another year, nothing done; new names, new stories, new examples, but the thrust of it is still the same. Nothing has been changed.

Speaker, we are glad that the Liberals actually listened to our concerns last session and have made significant changes and improvements to the bill. The legislation actually eliminates inconsistencies between the federal labour code and our provincial laws, instead of creating them. This legislation was originally introduced as Bill 30, the Family Caregiver Leave Act, in the last session. It originally only contained provisions to introduce the family caregiver leave, but it had no proper consultation with stakeholders.

I think I’m going to take a couple of moments to talk about that theme that we’ve seen from the government: the lack of proper consultation with stakeholders, not only in Bill 21. As I mentioned earlier, I’m the member from Nipissing; I live in North Bay. I can tell you that we’ve had about three stunning events in North Bay in the last year or two that have resulted in a lack of stakeholder consultation. Back on March 23 of a year ago, we heard of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission being put up in a fire sale—absolutely no consultation with the north. It came as a complete surprise. In fact, only a short while earlier, the former Premier signed a pledge never to do that, and we saw that happen—again, no consultation with the stakeholders.

We found this past year that 10 parks in Ontario were closed; nine of them happened to be in northern Ontario. If I were in a political mood today, I would say none of them are in Liberal ridings. I’m not in a political mood this morning; I’m just sticking to the stories—

Interjections.

Mr. Victor Fedeli: It slipped out.

Those parks, again, were closed without consultation. We saw Lake Nipissing fishing being derailed this year by the limits, from four down to two pickerel—no consultation, once again. It seems to be a theme. I can tell you that—

Interjection.

Mr. Victor Fedeli: I’m sticking to my local area, just for a moment. I’ll get to horse racing and the Green Energy Act in a bit. I will tie it into this bill, Speaker, I promise.

It’s the theme that we’ve seen from the government: no consultation. But with a little bit of consultation, you can do some good.

This bill proposes several amendments to the Employment Standards Act to mimic the similar changes the federal government has made to the Canada Labour Code. I look forward to supporting this bill so that it can go to committee and we can begin to talk to stakeholders and find the things that are of need to Ontarians that this bill will satisfy.

Unfortunately, what we didn’t see with my three examples, and I’ll go back to those for a moment, Speaker—with Ontario Northland there was no consultation. The member from Parry Sound–Muskoka and I travelled 1,600 kilometres through the north. We met with stakeholders, and we found out, for instance, that because of this news about Ontario Northland, one major lumber company in northern Ontario cancelled a $10-million expansion up around Kapuskasing, because they didn’t know whether there would be a freight train the next year to get their goods out. This is the punishment that the north has seen because there was no consultation.

The continued theme of no consultation from this government put the 1,000 employees of Ontario Northland in flux. Today, a year and a half later, they are still in flux. They don’t know whether to send their kids to college or university; they don’t know whether to buy a car; they don’t know whether to sell their house. It’s a very big concern, this lack of consultation we’ve seen from this government.

We saw, for instance, the parks that they closed. We saw, when they did overreact afterwards to consult, that the municipalities took over some of these parks and began to develop solutions. That’s what happens when you talk to your stakeholders, and I am looking forward to supporting this bill so that it can get to committee. I am looking forward to those stakeholders being consulted. I know that good things will come when you talk to the people of Ontario. We saw that with the parks, as I said, where the municipalities have taken over a couple of the parks and guaranteed the financial outcome, and some of these parks have reopened under municipal tutelage. That’s what happens when you talk to your stakeholders and your friends in Ontario—a little too late in Lake Nipissing. They formed a stakeholders’ committee—they closed the barn door after the horse had already escaped. Sadly, it was a very bad season for the fishers in North Bay.

That’s what happens when you don’t consult, and that’s what happened with this bill. Here we are a year later. There are good opportunities with the Employment Standards Amendment Act, the leave to help families. I am looking forward to supporting that. I am really looking forward to supporting that bill. I know that as of January 1, 2013, the federal government began providing grants lasting 35 weeks for the equivalent of the proposed crime-related child death or disappearance leave. This provincial legislation will incur no costs provincially, just protect the job from termination. I know that in June 2013, the federal government started paying benefits for the federal equivalent of the proposed critically ill child care leave. Speaker, this bill will catch us up. This bill is a good bill. Again, it’s not about money; this bill is about giving the families time.

Speaker, I will close, again, by speaking to the message that we heard from our member from Nepean–Carleton and from the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. We saw a terrible tragedy here in Ontario this morning. I can only begin to imagine the horror that is felt in some families whose phone will be ringing this morning with some awfully tragic news, the kind of news that nobody here would ever want but that sadly in Ontario some are going to receive this morning. Again, from all of our members in Nipissing and members of the House, we offer our most sincere condolences.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you.

It’s almost 10:15, and I’d like to, first of all, just thank the members for their concern about the tragic circumstances in Ottawa. It’s at times like this that I’m really proud of the House—when they come together and put all political things aside and do the right thing. Thank you very much for your comments.

It being 10:15, this House stands recessed until 10:30 this morning.

The House recessed from 1011 to 1030.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I’m delighted that we are joined today by Tara McDonnell from London, Ontario. She’s a student at Humber and has been a wonderful contributor to my constituency office.

Mr. Robert Bailey: I’d like to welcome some people here today from Union Gas: Joe Martucci, Mike Packer, Rick Birmingham, Chuck Conlon, Heather Donaghey, Matthew Gibson, Mark Isherwood, Tim Kennedy, Paul Rietdyk and Mike Shannon, all from Union Gas in Toronto and Chatham-Kent.

Mr. Todd Smith: It’s a pleasure to welcome the grandmother of our page from Prince Edward–Hastings, Ian Chapelle. All the way from Sudbury, Gloria Lanthier is here from Sudbury. Welcome to the Legislature.

Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield: It’s my pleasure to welcome representatives from both Enbridge Gas Distribution and Union Gas to Queen’s Park today. I know they’ll be visiting a number of members.

I also wanted to remind everyone that there’s a reception this evening in the dining room from 5 to 7. I hope that everyone comes, considering that between the two of them, 3.2 million customers are served by these two good companies.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from—let me get this right—Windsor–Tecumseh.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: Try again.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): London West.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: It’s my great pleasure today to welcome the proud parents of page Taylor Roch, Erinkate Roch and Ben Roch, who are here today from my riding of London West. Welcome.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I apologize to the member. At least I’ve got you sitting beside each other.

Mr. Rick Nicholls: It gives me great pleasure this morning to introduce to the Legislature some friends of mine, but also will be attending their reception afterwards. From Union Gas, it’s Steve Baker, Lindsay Boyd, Chuck Dubeau, Dave Simpson, Paul Ungerman and Mark Emmanuel.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): On behalf of the member from Mississauga–Brampton South, regarding page Aly Muhammad Mithani’s mother, Nadia Mithani, and grandmother, Badra Mulk, we welcome you here in the House today.

TRANSIT ACCIDENT IN OTTAWA

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Just before we begin question period, I wanted to start by addressing—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): On a point of order?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: It’s a point of order. I apologize, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Premier, on a point of order.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Just before we begin question period, I wanted to start by addressing the tragedy in Ottawa with the Via train and the OC Transpo collision.

My heart, and I know the hearts of all of us, go out to the individuals and the families who are affected. I want to thank our first responders for being on the scene. The province will be in constant contact, to assist the city of Ottawa or the federal government.

I know there have already been fatalities confirmed, so I would ask that we have a moment of silence for those people.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Premier is asking for unanimous consent to have a moment of silence for the victims of the tragedy this morning in Ottawa. Agreed? Agreed.

Could I have all people please stand in the House.

The House observed a moment’s silence.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank all members for their courtesy and respect.

It is now time for question period.

ORAL QUESTIONS

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Mr. Tim Hudak: First, I want to commend and thank the Premier for her opening comments about the tragedy and the loss of life in Ottawa with the collision today. I want to echo her comments that the hearts and prayers of Ontario PC members are with the families and with the emergency support workers who responded quickly to the scene. I know my colleague Lisa MacLeod has already raced back to her riding in moral support of the families impacted. I commend the Premier for her quick response and putting provincial assets to use. Thank you, Premier.

My question is to the Premier; it’s very straightforward. Later this afternoon, we’re debating a resolution in the name of my colleague from Etobicoke–Lakeshore, Doug Holyday, that is calling upon the province to keep its promise to the people of Scarborough to actually build a subway according to the city of Toronto council’s wishes, which would go all the way to Sheppard.

Premier, are you going to keep your promise to the people of Scarborough and support the resolution today?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: As the Leader of the Opposition knows, we are moving ahead with building a subway for the people of Scarborough. We need to get going. There’s $1.4 billion, Mr. Speaker, that we have put on the table and an additional $320 million for improvements to the Kennedy station. Well over $1.4 billion is available. That is the money that is on the table.

As the Leader of the Opposition knows, if there is other money that we don’t know about, if the federal government is willing to step up, then that is a different discussion. But we are going to build the subway in Scarborough: $1.4 billion plus $320 million. That’s real money. That money is available, and we need to get moving.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: Back to the Premier: Quite frankly, Premier, you’re breaking a campaign promise. You were clear in the Scarborough campaign that you supported what the city had called for, which is a subway through Scarborough Town Centre to Sheppard. You were very clear about that. That was what the TTC had asked for; that’s what was supported by Karen Stintz and by Andy Byford. Then you unleashed your transportation minister, to put it kindly, who has been very erratic on this file. He’s attacked the mayor; he’s attacked Councillor Stintz; he’s attacked Andy Byford. He’s attacked pretty well everybody under the sun because nobody supports his plan.

So I ask you, Premier: Clearly, the behaviour of your Minister of Transportation has been very erratic on this file. Don’t you think that his decision to pull this plan out of his hat is erratic as well? Isn’t there a better plan? And why don’t you stick to what you originally said and build that subway through Scarborough Town Centre to Sheppard like you promised during the campaign? It’s plain and simple.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Again, Mr. Speaker, I will just reiterate: We are committed to building the subway in Scarborough, which is what we said during the by-election, but quite frankly, we said long before that that we were committed to building transit across the GTHA, including in Scarborough, and that’s what we will do.

The Leader of the Opposition knows full well that the plan that’s being put forward by the city is a $3-billion plan. There is no business plan to find the additional funds to build that plan. We are moving ahead with an affordable, funded plan that will get a subway in Scarborough, quite frankly in a corridor that, from my understanding from the Scarborough members, was always intended to be a subway. It was always intended to be a subway for decades, and so we are building a subway in that corridor.

I am pleased that the Leader of the Opposition is interested in transit. But in terms of erratic support for transit, I would say that has been what’s been coming from the opposition.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Mr. Tim Hudak: Premier, what you’re doing is you’re building a white elephant, and you know it. Nobody has supported this boondoggle of a plan. You’re basically taking $1.4 billion, and let’s be clear about what the stand-alone Murray-Wynne plan is all about: You’re going to have fewer stops. You’re going to condemn people to bus rides for years and years to come. You’re going to end the subway at Warden station. Nobody supports this plan.

1040

It’s about as hard to pin you down as it is Glen Murray, who changes his ideas every single day. First you were for LRTs; then you were going to build a subway like the city of Toronto wanted. Now you’ve flip-flopped yet again. I just want to make it very plain and simple. You promised something during the by-election. It was the right thing to do. Why don’t you actually keep your promise to go to Scarborough? You think they’re from Scarberia. They should be full citizens in the city of Toronto. Do what you said. Do the right thing. Keep your promises and—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Be seated, please. Order.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order. I’ve said it enough.

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I really think that kind of language does a disservice to people in this city. You know, I’m one of the people who fought tooth and nail to preserve the integrity of this city when that member was sitting in a government that was determined to undermine this city, that amalgamated the city against the will of the city, that filled in a hole on Eglinton Avenue, that did not build transit. So I’m sorry, but I do not accept the perspective of that member when it comes to building transit or support for the GTHA.

We are building a funded line. There is money on the table, and the plans that are coming forward from the member opposite and from the city, quite frankly, at this point, are not funded. There is $1.4 billion that we are going to use to build a subway. If there is more money that the Leader of the Opposition knows about, then we should hear about that.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Mr. Tim Hudak: Back to the Premier: Well, Leslie Frost, John Robarts, Bill Davis and Mike Harris all built subways. They built subways underground, added stations. That’s the reality. And I guess the Premier wasn’t listening last week, but I’ll do the score again.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order. Order.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Attorney General, please come to order. Thunder Bay–Atikokan, come to order.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m saying it with a straight face.

Please finish—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Eglinton–Lawrence, come to order.

Mr. Tim Hudak: Thank you, Speaker.

I’ll remind my colleagues opposite of the score in the game. The number of subway stations opened under PC governments: 64; the number under the Liberals: absolutely zero. It’s true.

Look, I know that the Liberals think that Scarborough is off on another planet somewhere. I know when the going gets tough, your Scarborough MPPs scurry away like mice. They’re afraid to take you on. Well, I’m—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

Premier?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): If the yelling is stopping you from hearing me say “Question,” that is their problem.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): No, it wasn’t. Trust me.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

There was a time in this province when Progressive Conservatives did build transit, Mr. Speaker. There was a time. That is not this time, and it has not been the time for the last 20 years. The fact is, here’s what we are doing: We’re investing $416 million in the renewal of Toronto’s streetcar fleet; we’re investing $600 million to build Ottawa’s light rail transit; we’re investing $300 million in Waterloo region’s rapid transit; we’re investing $870 million to extend the Yonge-University-Spadina line; 34 kilometres of dedicated lanes in York region for rapid-transit buses; and the list goes on. Some $16.4 billion is at work right now building transit in the GTHA. That’s—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: Look, I know the members from Scarborough that you have in your caucus—when the going gets tough, they scurry away like mice. They’re not going to stand up to you. I will stand in my place and I will fight for the people of Scarborough, I’ll fight for the people of Toronto, and I will fight tooth and nail to make you actually keep your promise to build the Scarborough subway line like you said during the by-election campaign.

Look, you’ve made your promises. Andy Byford, from his experience with the London Underground, from his experience with Sydney transit—

Hon. Brad Duguid: How dare you insult Scarborough?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I will hold for a moment. In some cases I normally try to keep the clock organized, and other times I won’t.

Thank you. Finish.

Mr. Tim Hudak: Well, thanks. I hear some heckling from the member for Scarborough. I wish he would actually raise his voice in cabinet and have them keep their promises, instead of raising it here. Where were you? Maybe he’ll stand up at cabinet and he’ll show some backbone and actually try to keep his promise, because you’re not going to. Andy Byford, an expert, well-respected across the field, he says your plan isn’t viable. Why do you think the mayor of Winnipeg knows more about transit in Toronto than Andy Byford, the TTC or the city council? What makes you the expert?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Stop the clock. Be seated, please.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Peterborough will come to order.

Premier.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The people who speak for Scarborough sit in this caucus. The people who speak for Scarborough and who have represented Scarborough and have advanced the cause for building a subway in Scarborough sit on this side of the House, and they have been consistent. They have been consistent for years. They have said we need a subway in Scarborough, and quite frankly, those have been the persuasive arguments that we have heard and that have moved us to this point. We are building that subway in Scarborough.

But here’s the issue: We are going to invest in an economic strategy that includes investing in people, investing in infrastructure that communities need. That includes transit in the GTHA and transit across the region and across the province. It means investing in and supporting businesses that will help local economies to grow. That’s what we’re going to do, Mr. Speaker. Building transit is a fundamental part of that strategy.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Mr. Tim Hudak: I’m proud to address the weak-kneed Liberal Scarborough caucus here. If there’s one thing they’ve been consistent in, it’s their inconsistency. Last year they stood here and they voted against subways for Scarborough. Then they were the LRT champions, then during the by-election suddenly they were subway champions, and now they’re showing the courage of field mice by scuttling away when they should be standing in their place and fighting for you to keep your promise. We’ll see where they vote later today, Premier.

Well, let me tell you this. I know that you don’t like me comparing you to Premier McGuinty, but I think it’s very apt. He was known as somebody who would say one thing, and then he would flip-flop and break his promise later. At least Premier McGuinty would take about a year or so to do so; you broke your promise to the people of Scarborough within a matter of weeks. So please tell us you’re not going to pull a McGuinty. Please tell us that you’re different from Dalton. Please tell us you’re going to keep your promise and vote for Doug Holyday’s resolution in the House later today. Say it ain’t so; stand up; keep your promises.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Be seated, please. Thank you.

Premier.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I’m very proud of our government’s record on investment in transit. From the day we came into office we made a commitment to building transit, and we’ve been doing that across the province.

I just want to say I really don’t believe that personal attack is necessary. I don’t believe that calling names and undermining people’s credibility or attempting to do that is necessary. I think we can talk about the substance of this issue, and that is building transit and moving people around the region, without resorting to that. So I just want to say I’m not going to engage in that.

But what I am going to say, Mr. Speaker, is that I had the privilege of travelling in the 680News plane today. I saw the congestion around the region. This is not about one subway line; this is about building transit, which we are doing, and continuing to do the work that we’ve been doing for the last few years, investing in transit across the region and across the province. It will help people in their day-to-day lives, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): New question, the leader of the third party.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Be seated.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): If this tone continues, there will be people not out of a job but out of the House.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): No, not really. It’s my desire for it to rise, not lower.

Leader of the third party, please.

MEMBERS’ PRIVILEGES

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I want to begin by sharing the condolences and the thoughts and prayers, on behalf of New Democrats, for the families, the victims, the staff and all of the people involved in the tragedy that occurred in Ottawa this morning. We are hopeful that the community will overcome this tragedy in a way that gets them through it. It’s quite a serious matter.

1050

Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Will the Premier agree to unanimous consent so that we can open up the scope of the gas plants committee?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I believe that there is a discussion going on among the House leaders right now. I’ll let the government House leader respond in the supplementary.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The Premier refused to answer this question last week and she said, “Opening up the scope of the committee is a discussion that needs to happen amongst the House leaders,” which she just repeated again. Well, that discussion amongst the House leaders has happened, but answers haven’t happened.

Will the Premier agree to open up the scope of the gas plant committee so we can ask about attempts by Liberal insiders to influence the Speaker, or will she keep protecting people like the Liberal campaign director and senior Liberal staffers?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: I’m a bit disappointed. I think the tradition of this House is that negotiations between House leaders happen at House leaders’ meetings, but if the member of the third party wishes to get into it, she is absolutely wrong in standing here today and saying that no answers have been given. In fact, answers were given, Mr. Speaker, through your ruling.

Let’s review the facts. I think all members of the Legislature were concerned about the email exchange that came out this summer. We were concerned about the committee’s ruling and we looked at potential ways forward around the scope of the committee or, as the honourable House leader of the PC Party decided, to go ahead with a point of privilege. That point of privilege was very clear on a number of points: first of all, that you were not intimidated and, second of all, that no attempt was made, Mr. Speaker, to intimidate you.

So when we’re taking a look now at the question around the scope of the committee, I think we have to look—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock, please.

I’ve tried to be as delicate and understanding as possible when it comes to questions in the House. In this particular instance, it has come up again, albeit from an original, general idea. What you see happening now is that you’re getting responses and questions geared to a decision that has already been made in this House, and I’m asking that it be avoided. It is not good for us, not here in this House today, but in the overall tenor of the place and the overall history of what could go on in the future. So I’m asking members to be very sensitive to asking questions about a ruling that’s already been made to prevent the discussion that’s happening.

I’m going to continue, and I would ask the leader of the third party to ask her final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Last week, the Premier passed the buck for opening the scope of the gas plants committee to her House leader, so we did our job and we took the issue to her House leader. We asked for unanimous consent to expand the scope of the committee—exactly what she told us to do—but we haven’t gotten an answer. The Premier likes to talk about openness, but when it comes time to do the right thing and open up the scope of the gas plant committee she’s as secretive as her predecessor was.

Will the Premier keep her promise, keep her word and back up our motion at the committee to do its job?

Hon. John Milloy: We have weekly House leader meetings. We had one last week. Those discussions are usually kept confidential, but the leader of the third party wants to get into it. We had a discussion and we said we would continue that discussion. But the simple matter is, Mr. Speaker—and I’m aware of what you’ve said—that your wording was very clear of what happened in that meeting. What the New Democratic Party seems to be asking is that we hold hearings into an incident that never happened. I wonder why the—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock, please.

I thought I was pretty clear. Here’s the problem: You can re-ask a question or give a different answer to accomplish the same thing, as long as you stay away from the ruling. I’m asking you to avoid the discussion of the ruling.

Finish, please.

Hon. John Milloy: I think we have grave concerns that the motion that has been put forward by the New Democratic Party would do nothing to advance the work of the committee. Mr. Speaker, I am not going to reference the specifics of your ruling, especially in light of your ruling, and I trust that that is in order.

GOVERNMENT’S AGENDA

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also for the Premier. People actually want to trust their government, and they want it to keep its promises. They hear the Premier talk about fairness. Instead, this is what they see: They see her considering new taxes and tolls of up to $1,000 per family, while at the same time she’s moving ahead with a tax loophole that will let corporations write off the HST on meals and expenses. Does the Premier think that’s fair?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Well, Mr. Speaker, I don’t accept the premise of the question. Here’s the reality: We are committed to, and I’ve just had a series of exchanges with the Leader of the Opposition about our commitment to, building transit. The leader of the third party, I would have thought, would have been supportive of building transit in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area and building transit beyond.

The fact is that the reference she’s making to what she’s calling a loophole is not, in fact, a loophole. The Minister of Finance has been in touch with the federal Minister of Finance, and that is a separate issue, because the reality is we need transit in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

Successive governments have not built transit. We have been building transit, and we need to continue to do that if we’re going to be competitive into the future. Our commitment stands. We are going to continue building the infrastructure that we need to keep our economy cooking and to get it going.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: People have watched as this government has played game after game after game with their public transit. The Minister of Transportation promised the people of Scarborough a subway, but, instead of a real plan, what they’ve got now is a hot mess, and people are more and more concerned that they’re going to be stuck with the bill.

Does the Premier think it’s fair to ask people to pay more—this is the premise of the question. Does the Premier think it’s fair to ask people to pay more while the province is opening up new corporate tax loopholes? It’s a matter of fairness. That’s the premise of the question, Speaker.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: It is a question of fairness. We’re not opening up new loopholes. That’s just not the case.

What is not fair would be for us not to continue to build transit. It would not be fair to ignore the reality that people need options. They need to be able to get on a train, or get on a bus, or get on a light-rail vehicle. They need those options in order to be able to move around the region, in order to be able to get to work in a timely way, to take their kids to school, to visit their family members.

Mr. Speaker, when I was in the 680News plane today, what I saw was as much traffic coming into Toronto as going out of Toronto, because people in Brampton and people in Newmarket and people in Durham may work there, but they also may work in the city and vice versa. People in downtown Toronto work in the region. We need to continue building transit. Not to do so would not be fair.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: People are tired of a government that cares about holding on to power but doesn’t seem to care about the people who elected them. The people of Scarborough were promised a subway. Instead, they’ve gotten a messy, messy fight that’s going nowhere fast. The people of Ontario were told that the government was going to be fair. Instead, the Liberals are moving ahead with corporate tax loopholes or Liberal policy that gives a break to corporations, letting them write off the HST. Whatever way you want to describe it, it’s the same outcome. So they’re going ahead with that policy while at the same time they’re asking everyday people to get ready to have to dig into their pockets and pay even more. Does the Premier think that is fair?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I’m just going to step back from this for one second. Just so you know, we’re talking about our transit policy, because we have a transit policy and we have a strategy, and we have money on the table to build transit.

What is really interesting to me is that the parties opposite have no strategy for building transit. They have absolutely no way of telling us or the people of Ontario how they would build transit going forward.

1100

The reality is that it costs billions of dollars. Right now there’s $16.4 billion at work building transit in this province. That’s because this government has made that commitment. The reality is that without that kind of commitment, without a plan for an investment strategy going forward, without a revenue stream, we won’t be able to continue building transit. The leader of the third party, to this point, has put forward no strategy for building transit going forward.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: My question is for the Premier. As my leader has stated, under the strong leadership of Premiers Leslie Frost, John Robarts, Bill Davis and Mike Harris, Conservative governments have opened 64 subway stations.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): That will do. It’s hard to get one side when the other side chirps up when I’m trying to get quiet.

Member, put your question, please.

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess it’s unfortunate that the members opposite don’t wish to really know the true history. But these gentlemen I just mentioned are the true subway champions. They opened 64 subway stations—64.

In the last 10 years, under Premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, the Liberals have opened exactly none. They haven’t opened one station. My question is, when are you going to open a station, and what has taken you so long?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, the party opposite is proposing an insanity. They are proposing to abandon years of planning a route that has not changed since Brad Duguid was a city councillor—the member for Scarborough Centre.

We have a fully funded, completely provincially paid-for subway to the Scarborough Town Centre that you voted against—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Even the heckling is one thing, but props is another. That will stop.

Please.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Like every other time, every other time in most of my adult life, when there was a fully funded subway plan ready to go to the right place, you voted against it, you opposed it, you stopped it, and you’re trying to do the same nonsense again.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: Mr. Speaker, they have yet to answer the question. I asked a simple question: When are you going to open your first subway station? You haven’t given us an answer to that yet. The only thing about you that’s consistent is the fact that you always change your mind and you do nothing, and then you come along and you make nonsense announcements where you’ve got partners, and you don’t include the partners. You don’t even consider the fact that the federal government said, up until September 30, they wouldn’t be prepared to make an announcement, but you’ve just ignored that.

The city of Toronto voted, when I was on that council and I supported it, to build that subway up to Sheppard, but you’ve ignored that as well. When are you going to start listening to your partners and when are you going to get a darned subway station open?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Be seated, please.

Minister.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I know they don’t have many Toronto members, but the one that they do have should get out more. There are dozens of subway stations being built right now. There are boring machines all up and down the Scarborough line. There are boring machines up and down Eglinton. We are now working on extending the waterfront. There is $16 billion being invested.

We did this once before, Mr. Speaker. We had a couple of governments that actually started building transit, and then, just at the moment the holes were all dug and the stations were open, you filled them in. As a matter of fact, the honourable member sat on his hands while they cancelled the Sherway extension in his own constituency. They filled in Eglinton.

Interjections.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I like Bill Davis. John Tory wouldn’t be doing this. Tim Hudak would, Mike Harris would, and that’s the kind of Tories you are.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. For the short moment that I have, I intend to ask you to listen to what I have to say. It’s unfortunate that we do start coming to personalizing issues in the House. I have been trying my best to try to elevate the debate, and I will make a simple comment: It’s not within my power to force you to do something you should intrinsically be able to do yourself.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour la première ministre. On June 8, 2011, my community lost two good men—two miners, Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier—in a deadly accident in Stobie mine in my riding. Evidence was uncovered and shared with our community that clearly showed that their deaths were preventable. A year later, in 2012, the government finally laid nine serious charges, but yesterday we were all stunned to find out that the government had agreed to a plea bargain and dropped six serious charges.

Premier, you owe it to my community to explain. Why did your government agree to drop six charges?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two people who were lost.

The Ministry of Labour has completed its investigation, and charges were laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as the member knows. A total fine of $1.05 million plus a 25% victim fine surcharge were imposed. This is the highest total fine ever levied in Ontario for contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Protecting workers and keeping them safe on the job is the Ministry of Labour’s top priority. It is what they exist to do and, obviously, one worker killed on the job is too many. Our government will continue to work hard to protect the health and safety of workers across the province.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: Eleven miners have died on the job since 2007, and yesterday’s plea bargain is cold comfort to the families who have lost loved ones. People in Sudbury want to know: Who in your government agreed to this plea bargain, and why did you do it? People in Sudbury want to know: Who in your government agreed to drop those six charges, and why did you do it? Because right now, for the people in Sudbury, we really don’t understand how this could have been done. Speaker, I don’t understand it either.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I think the member opposite knows that I don’t have the details of some of the specifics that she has asked me. What I do know is that coroner’s inquests are automatic for all mining and construction fatalities, so there will also be a coroner’s inquest into these fatalities to follow so that more answers will be available. I think those are the kinds of reviews that need to happen. I know the Minister of Labour is working with all parties and, as I say, that coroner’s inquest will follow.

RECYCLING

Mr. Joe Dickson: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. When it comes to the issue of waste, I believe we all want to protect the environment and pass on a cleaner, healthier world for not only our children, but our grandchildren. I understand that embracing individual producer responsibility for managing products at the end of their lifespan here in Ontario continues to be an ongoing discussion.

Speaker, through you, can the Minister of the Environment provide the House with an update on waste management in Ontario and speak to individual producer responsibility?

Hon. James J. Bradley: We’ve heard from the Environmental Commissioner, we’ve heard from both opposition parties, from stakeholders in the recycling system and from the public, and we’ve heard that the old waste diversion framework that we inherited is fatally flawed. There’s a consensus that we need a new approach to increase recycling to better protect our environment.

That’s why we introduced the Waste Reduction Act. The proposed act would require individual producers to be financially and environmentally accountable for recycling the goods they sell in Ontario. The act would be used to boost recycling in the lagging industrial, commercial and institutional sector.

1110

The government has been carefully reviewing public and stakeholder feedback on the act and strategy since both documents were posted on the Environmental Registry on June 6 of this year. We will continue to work with producers, with municipalities, with service organizations and with other partners to make the proposed legislation even stronger. I look forward to that input from everybody.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Joe Dickson: Again my question is for the Minister of the Environment. Residents want to know that products at the end of their lifespan are being recycled. They want to be sure that their household hazardous wastes are being safely and properly treated.

The current 2002 legislation has been widely criticized for being inefficient, for stifling competition by mandating recycling clusters and for not rewarding design or recycling innovations. Could the Minister of the Environment please share with the House if the proposed new Waste Reduction Act would implement a new regulatory approach that transforms the municipal hazardous special waste and electrical waste programs from what they are today to producer responsibility incentives that deliver solid environmental performance?

Hon. James J. Bradley: That’s an excellent question, I must say. The answer to the member is a resounding yes. Yes, it will bring a new approach that ends the old recycling monopoly mandated in the 2002 legislation. Yes, it will implement real individual producer responsibility. Yes, it delivers solid environmental performance and economic efficiency.

In fact, the member’s question reflects precisely the sentiments reflected in a news release from my very good friend from Kitchener–Conestoga. I have listened to all members of this House. I’ve listened to all of those who have had any direct involvement in recycling and waste diversion in the province of Ontario, and I am looking forward with enthusiasm and optimism to strong support from my good friends in the opposition.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Premier. Just a few weeks ago at AMO, I listened very carefully as the Premier spoke to municipalities and committed that she would work with them in partnership on infrastructure and transit. Just a few days later, her transportation minister made an announcement about a subway plan that neither the TTC nor the city of Toronto—and even her agency, Metrolinx—seemed to know anything about.

I would like to know from the Premier: What happened to that spirit of co-operation that she committed to at AMO, and will she agree to set that imposed plan aside and work with the city of Toronto and the TTC to build a subway to Scarborough, the way that it was promised?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I am so pleased to be able to work with municipalities across the province because, as the member opposite knows, infrastructure investment in one part of the province looks different than in other parts of the province. The $100 million that we have put into the roads and bridges and infrastructure fund for rural and northern Ontario will build a different kind of infrastructure than the light rail and the bus rapid transit and the subways that we’re building in the GTHA.

I’m surprised that the member opposite would focus on this one line because the reality is, he knows perfectly well that York region is in drastic need of improved transit and that it’s very important that we move ahead. It will be impossible to build the Yonge Street relief line that’s needed in order to be able to expand into York region, because that’s what has to happen in order to be able to do that, without a revenue stream. We’re committed to building transit across the GTHA.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: The reason I’m focusing on this one line is because that is the basis of our discussion today and it is the subject of our motion this afternoon. We are wanting very much to take the Premier up on her commitment to work co-operatively with municipal partners. Well, the municipal partners in this particular case are the TTC and the city of Toronto.

I’m asking once again: Will the Premier simply, in the spirit that she committed to work with municipalities, agree to keep the promises that the Liberal Party made, build that subway into Scarborough the way it was committed, and support our motion this afternoon? Will she do that?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: We’re building the subway into Scarborough. We’re building it on the same route that was detailed in the Big Move. We are building that subway. That commitment is strong, and it’s funded; remember, it’s funded. That $1.4 billion is accounted for. We’re ready to go, and we have to get moving.

The member opposite, my guess is—I don’t know, but my guess is, when he was Minister of Transportation, he knew that there was a need to build transit in the region. My guess is that he might have advocated for transit building within his caucus. Unfortunately, no one took him up on that, if he did in fact do that advocacy, but we are.

We are building in the region. We know how important it is for the people of Newmarket, Aurora, Richmond Hill, Oshawa, Brampton and Mississauga. We know how important it is that we stay on track and build the transit that’s necessary for this economy to thrive.

POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: My question is to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. Minister, students need access to good quality university programs. Students are struggling to afford the skyrocketing costs of PSE and many simply can’t afford to move away from home to attend specialized research universities. Today, a leaked government report has been circulated that suggests the government could be forcing universities to specialize and reduce the range of degrees they offer.

Ontario universities already receive the least funding per student of any province in Canada. This government refuses to place students at the centre of their policies. Why is this government forging ahead with plans for drastic changes without even consulting students?

Hon. Brad Duguid: Students are at the centre of all the decisions and all the policies we’re making when it comes to our post-secondary education strategies. In fact, I have been sitting down all summer with the sector in a series of round tables as we worked together to move forward and move our system into a state of global competitiveness. I’ve also been sitting down at the same time with students to talk about the very same issues. We’ve had some great input from students all summer long, and we continue to respond to that input.

I’ve said to the member that very soon we’ll be announcing changes to flat fees, to deferral fees, something that students have been telling us they don’t believe, in the current system, is fair to students. We also brought in a 30% off tuition program, which is benefitting 230,000 low- and middle-income students today across this province.

Mr. Speaker, it’s all about listening to students.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: Minister, forcing universities to specialize and reduce their graduate and undergraduate course offerings wasn’t part of the government consultations last year, yet now, the government is forging ahead with secret discussions with unnamed educational leaders to impose such a change. Forcing universities to specialize could reduce regional access to degree programs, undermine university autonomy and lead to a system of have and have-not universities.

Will the minister stop looking for cost-saving measures behind closed doors and start consulting with students about the changes the government is secretly considering?

Hon. Brad Duguid: I’m not sure how to respond to the “secret meeting” comments because those discussions have been known by everybody, including the media. We’ve been talking about the fact that we’ve been sitting down with the sector in round tables to talk in detail. We’re sitting down with students, and I’ve been talking to media all summer long about these so-called secret discussions.

Anybody following education in this province knows that we’re working on a differentiation policy, knows that we’re working on improving credit transfers so students have an easier ability to transfer through the system from college to university, from university to university and college to college. They also know we’re looking at important issues like online learning. These are transformational issues. They’re challenging issues, but they are places we need to go to maintain our globally competitive post-secondary system. We’re going to keep working in the interest of students to ensure we continue to provide that globally competitive system.

1120

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Steven Del Duca: My question today is for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. Minister, a number of very important manufacturing and food processing companies have operations or headquarters in my community, in my riding of Vaughan. With the global recession now behind us here in Ontario, many of my constituents have come to me with questions regarding job creation and economic development opportunities.

Now, I know that our government recognizes the strengths coming out of different parts of the province of Ontario. We also recognize that regional economic development initiatives help to create a strong climate for our domestic businesses to succeed and grow.

Speaker, through you to the minister, could the minister please provide the House with an update, one that I can take back to my constituents to let them know about what our government is doing to bolster economic development in Vaughan and around Ontario?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Thanks to the member from Vaughan for this important question.

Yesterday, with so many of my colleagues here in the Legislature—after visiting the International Plowing Match, I had the privilege of visiting Kitchener and Waterloo and making two important announcements, totalling over $1.6 million, which helped to create more than 110 new jobs and protect and sustain nearly 500 more. These, of course, are out of the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that the Southwestern and the Eastern Ontario Development Funds are among the best funds that my ministry has to support local projects and local businesses. In fact, under Premier Wynne’s leadership, since February alone, these two funds have created, with the private sector partners, and retained nearly 7,000 jobs across the province. Our $26-million investment so far has leveraged more than $250 million from the private sector.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Steven Del Duca: I thank the minister for that very informative answer and for all of his hard work on these files. It is great to know what kind of work our government has been doing over the last number of months to support sectors across the province so that, as the minister mentioned, they can leverage investment and create good, meaningful jobs.

The people of Ontario have worked together to create a strong economy, which has relied on major sectors like manufacturing and the auto sector. Recently, of course, the Premier announced renewed funding to help promote locally grown food in the agricultural sector.

Speaker, through you to the minister, could the minister please inform the House regarding what his ministry is doing to make strategic investments into these key sectors here in Ontario?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, I had two important and, I have to say, highly interesting and informative visits yesterday. One was to a company called Conestoga Meat Packers in Breslau, employing 475 people. In fact, 50 of that workforce are employed because of the investment that this company has made together with the Ontario government. I arrived there; there’s a big sign outside, saying, “We are hiring.” They’re looking at 100 new employees. They’re going to be increasing the plant’s capacity by nearly one third. They’re exporting to 30 countries around the world. It’s a fantastic company.

Then I went down to Cambridge, to Kinetics Noise Control, a fascinating company as well. We’re creating jobs together in partnership with them, making this investment. It’s very interesting that this company actually, in the new jobs created, is producing acoustic materials used in a tunnel ventilation system for the new Sheppard subway line. So yes, we are building transit in Toronto and it’s creating jobs in Cambridge.

DRIVE CLEAN

Ms. Sylvia Jones: My question was going to be for the Minister of the Environment but I’ll go to transportation because it is transportation related.

Residents in the north part of Dufferin county have been receiving letters that they are, for the first time, going to be required to complete a Drive Clean test before renewing their driver’s licence. My constituents have not moved and yet they are now being asked by MTO to pay for a Drive Clean test because Canada Post has changed the postal codes.

When I wrote on behalf of residents asking for an explanation, your ministry told me it was an oversight, that they have been exempted since the program began and now they must pay. Minister, it appears that this decision to include them now, more than 10 years later, is simply another cash grab by your government. Are your recent postal code changes just another excuse for you to squeeze more money from hard-working Ontario drivers?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: The first thing, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to say to the member—I want to thank her for her question and I promise I will follow up and look into the particulars of the case. I appreciate that there’s some frustration there with a constituent of yours. That’s the job of MPPs here and I commend her for raising the issue.

What we are trying to do is, as are other jurisdictions in Canada—and as one of the members opposite pointed out, I have some experience in one of those—is that most provinces are running to a cost recovery for automobiles. For example, my mother, who’s 86, just retired. She gave up her car. It’s hard to ask to put taxes on seniors to pay for things for those of us who drive cars. So when you get your driver’s licence or you’re paying to get the air quality standards so our kids with asthma and our seniors don’t have to breathe polluted air—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Renfrew, come to order.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: —we ask people to pay modestly rather than taxing everybody. It’s a cost recovery measure. It’s consistent with what other provinces and what the States are doing, and it’s good policy.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order. In case the member from Renfrew didn’t hear it, I did ask him to come to order.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I did not; I’m sorry.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary, please.

Ms. Sylvia Jones: Minister, this is not about cost recovery; this is about a cash grab. These people did not pay. They have not been paying. They have been exempt from the Drive Clean program. I’ve been working on this for three months and suddenly all I’m getting from your civil service is that they must pay now and they should never have been exempt. What, are you going to go back 10 years and charge them for it?

Minister, I want this solved. I want to see this decision changed. Ultimately, I would actually like the Drive Clean program to be eliminated because it has not done anything to solve our problems.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, again, I want to thank the member opposite. She’s doing her job as an MPP. I thank her for raising this issue. It’s obviously a big province, and with 13 million people one of our jobs in the House is to speak up for people who sometimes get overlooked. I appreciate her doing that.

Again, it’s cost recovery, one of the things this government is also doing, because by law it has to be cost recovery. We cannot overcharge for more than the cost of the service, and that’s good and transparent. One of the things that my friend the Minister of Government Services, the Honourable John Milloy, is doing is that he’s working on an open data process so that people will actually be able to go on and see the costs of services and they’ll be able to see the price. That will be completely transparent, as we’re doing. When people are planning transit lines or rapid transit lines, they can see that, for example, the Scarborough Town Centre justifies a subway and some of the other options make no sense. We’re all about open data and evidence, so people can see for themselves and make their own judgment.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is for the Premier. It’s not just the people in Scarborough who are trying to figure out what this government’s transit plan is. People outside of Toronto want better transit service to get to work and travel out of town. Instead, people in Kitchener–Waterloo and nearby communities have seen our Via service cut and have been left with a GO train service that isn’t meeting the transit needs of our residents.

Last night, people in St. Catharines came together because their Via service is being cut. They want to know what’s going to happen with their transit in Niagara. What is the Premier going to do to improve transit in communities outside of the GTHA?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I want to thank the member for Kitchener–Waterloo because I know this is, again, a very sincere question and well asked.

The issue is this: The Conservatives in Ottawa—that would be our friends who filled in the Eglinton subway line and froze GO Transit service—also have bestowed another gift, being completely consistent in their behaviour being the contrary of their rhetoric. They cancelled half the Via service from Kitchener–Waterloo to Toronto. As a matter of fact, interestingly, there have been massive reductions on Via service. The Ontario Liberal government, as it always does, added two trains to Kitchener. We thought we were increasing the service to Kitchener by almost 50% because we realize it’s important. What we didn’t realize is that we were just offsetting cuts by the federal Conservatives. The same people over there that tell you they’re subway champions and Via champions, when they get into power and have the—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Answer.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I regret that the people in Kitchener–Waterloo have the same service they had before. The difference is they have two more GO trains and two fewer Via trains and the feds cut the services as soon as we started it.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s not just Via service. This government promised two-way all-day GO service on the line that runs to Kitchener–Waterloo and towns and cities along the line. But while the government is picking fights over a Scarborough subway, it has delayed two-way all-day GO service for almost 15 years.

The government cancelled the Ontario Bus Replacement Program, which helps municipalities like mine, without subways, to maintain their bus fleets. Commuters, students and families outside of the GTHA are wondering why their transit priorities are at the bottom of the pile. When will the Premier stop playing political games with transit and begin building transit for Ontarians who have waited long enough?

1130

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, Chair Seiling and Mayor Zehr are wonderful friends. They’re non-partisan during elections. They’re positive folks. They pay one third of the cost, or more sometimes, of transit in Kitchener, we pay one third and, because it doesn’t have a 416 area code, the federal government pays one third. It’s a great relationship.

On Scarborough, we’re paying 100% of the cost, and we’re building it to the only place that makes sense and the same place that’s been in the plan. This is the only government that’s not changing the plan. The city has changed the plan to go under single-family homes and to miss the Scarborough Town Centre. How do you build a subway to Scarborough that doesn’t go to the Scarborough Town Centre? We haven’t changed anything; the lines on the map are the same. The opposition suggests the lines have changed. Clearly, they don’t read budgets, and they don’t read maps. I should refer them to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities for some upgrading.

But we have added—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Mr. Bob Delaney: This question is also for the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation. Minister, in western Mississauga, transit is a big issue. We need that planned capacity expansion of the third and the fourth track on the Milton GO line. People want to leave their cars at home, and they need viable transit options when they need to commute and when they need to go where they have to go, to go to school or to go to work.

Good transit planning and implementation is not just what you do; it’s when you do it and how you do it and how you involve people in the communities along the transit corridor and in the service areas in the implementation.

Ontario uses some database tools to help plan transit routes, all derived from data from our urban environment. Would the minister please describe what data our government uses to help plan transit routes?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: As a matter of fact, the Ministry of Transportation, which does the work—not Metrolinx—has the richest databases, as does the growth secretariat. I have offered all of this data to my opposition critics so that they can see the same numbers I see. You will see why the Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx said, “Stick to the original plan and build the subway to the Scarborough Town Centre,” because those data at Metrolinx and iCorridor are built on two things: the Big Move and Places to Grow. The Scarborough Town Centre is an urban growth centre. It will generate lots of ridership. We know that from millions of dollars and years of planning.

The same thing in Mississauga: The Hurontario LRT is absolutely critical to reducing congestion. When put through the iCorridor process, it showed that it will have a lot of investment in jobs as well as have high ridership—as will the Eglinton crosstown.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, we also modelled some of the past projects—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Bob Delaney: Minister, making decisions based on how people use transit and on what their urban environment looks like now and in the future is important. So is using technology to let people have their say and to test their opinions, to test their preconceptions and theories against what reality is now and what reality will be in the unfolding future.

The iCorridor application is open to the public, and our residents in Lisgar, Meadowvale and Streetsville would like to use it. That type of involvement would keep people from supporting idiotic policies like filling in evidence-based subway lines that are already under construction.

Minister, how can Ontarians use the iCorridor application to see how government decisions on transit are actually made?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I appreciate the member’s interest in both transit and information technology. Right now, today, you just go click, click on the MTO site, and what cascades down is the richest source of data—and open source data—there, clearly available to the TTC, to developers and to citizens to understand that—

Interjection: And to the opposition.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: And to the opposition. I met with some of my critics opposite, and I offered it to them. I’ve actually offered that our staff will give them a completely independent briefing. Metrolinx is doing this. When we actually started planning the Metrolinx projects, we did not have the advantage of this data. I gave a presentation this morning. So we are now improving our performance.

I have said to the members opposite, “If you actually believe in evidence-based decisions, based on land use, access and ridership, take the ideas.” What you’ll find is the plan that was whipped out of nowhere to draw a new line has no ridership. It actually doesn’t go to the Scarborough Town Centre. It goes under single-family homes, and unless you want to tear up upper-middle-class Scarborough—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.

PENSION PLANS

Mr. Jim Wilson: My question is for the Minister of Finance. Minister, on May 18 three years ago, the Pension Benefits Amendment Act received royal assent after getting all-party support in this House. As you know very well, this legislation is needed to help thousands of public sector employees merge their pension benefits so that they can retire with benefits they’ve already paid for.

On March 30 two years ago, I asked your predecessor, the Minister of Finance, why he had since ignored this bill and not introduced the necessary regulations. At that time, his response was, “We are engaged in a range of consultations.… Those regulations will be promulgated shortly.”

Minister, can you stand up in the House today and tell us anything different on this issue than your predecessor told us two years ago?

Hon. Charles Sousa: I appreciate the question and I appreciate the concern from all sides of the House when it comes to retirement planning in the province of Ontario. Too many Ontarians—almost 40%—don’t have a pension plan or a retirement savings plan. As a result, we instituted in our budget more recently—the one, by the way, that you didn’t support—the pooled RRSP plan, a PRPP, an employer plan and alternatives to try to support those Ontarians in need. We will continue to also advocate for enhanced CPP with the federal government.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Mr. Jim Wilson: Minister, I couldn’t have been more fair to you. I spoke to you just after you were sworn in as Minister of Finance. I handed you a letter. I’ve written you five letters since last December on this issue. I’ve raised this in the House on several occasions. I did a private member’s bill that was debated in this House and voted upon.

Thousands of paramedics, thousands of MPAC employees, through no fault of their own in the mid- to late 1990s, had their employer change. They might have been working for the Collingwood hospital ambulance service and are now working for the county of Simcoe. Their pensions would have been merged automatically if they were police officers moving from the Collingwood town police to the OPP because it’s in the police act.

Four years ago, your predecessor did put it in the budget. Three years ago, it received royal assent, but we’ve been waiting three years. There are thousands of public servants in everyone’s ridings waiting to retire. This doesn’t cost you any money. You simply have to transfer the money so that all the credits are put together in one pension plan and they get the pension they paid for. When are you going to do it?

Hon. Charles Sousa: I appreciate the enthusiasm and the spirit and the concern of the member. I do. But what is important is what has been done and what we continue to do to support those Ontarians who require support. In fact, pension reform is under way. It’s in this budget—something that you didn’t support. We have it on page 276, talking about some of the requirements and some of the initiatives that are under way now. In fact, some of the work that we’ve done has actually been able to support and save taxpayers up to $2.4 billion this year alone while protecting pensioners.

We need to ensure that a pooled pension plan exists and that all those initiatives and all those individuals have safeguards. We would support your recommendations provided you also support what’s in it, and we need your help.

PENSION PLANS

Mr. Michael Prue: My question, too, is to the Minister of Finance. In April of this year, my office was contacted by Randy and Jeanette McKibbon. Randy, along with 87 other employees, was laid off when Unilever ceased to operate in 2002. The former employees have been waiting for 11 years for surplus pension funds that belong to them. As one member said, “I hope we get our money before we die.”

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario has had this file since 2007, and nothing has happened except delay after delay. Speaker, the Minister of Finance seems to think that 11 years is a reasonable amount of time for these workers to wait, but my question to him is, will the minister now instruct FSCO to take immediate action on this file so that these workers can finally receive their money 11 years after the fact?

Hon. Charles Sousa: Again, I appreciate the question and I appreciate the concern being expressed. I will, in fact, endeavour to review exactly what the member is asking. We all want what’s best for those families who are impacted. We want to ensure that those who have invested do have their money and we want to ensure that those who are deserving of support receive it, and I’ll look into it.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The minister on a point of order.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: As an MPP born and raised in Scarborough, I take great offence to remarks made by the PC leader earlier in question period—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I know where you’re headed. It’s not actually a point of order, except to say that any member who says anything in this House has an opportunity and a right to correct the record if they believe they’ve said anything that’s untoward that I, myself, did not catch, or any other member did not catch. If there was anything said in this—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’ll wait.

I’ll provide time for any member who wants to correct their record at any time, and if there’s somebody here who wants to do that now, they will be free to do so.

If not, the member from Simcoe–Grey on a point of order.

Mr. Jim Wilson: Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to expand the scope of the Standing Committee on Justice Policy to allow questions related to the motivation and intent of Liberal staff and advisers to meet with the Speaker regarding the Speaker’s finding of a prima facie case of privilege—but shall not include the Speaker’s confidential discussions.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Simcoe–Grey has asked for unanimous consent to put forward a motion. Do we agree? I heard a no.

Mr. Rob Leone: Come on.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Cambridge is not making himself any brownie points right now.

There are no deferred votes. This House stands recessed until 3 p.m.

The House recessed from 1141 to 1500.

MEMBERS’ STATEMENTS

DISASTERS IN ALGOMA–MANITOULIN

Mr. Michael Mantha: Last week, several communities in Algoma–Manitoulin were hit hard with heavy rains, causing serious damage. Communities such as Heyden, Searchmont, Goulais River, Tarbutt and Tarbutt Additional, and Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island were all affected, while emergencies were declared in Johnson; Macdonald, Meredith and Aberdeen; Huron Shores; Plummer Additional township and Batchewana First Nation. Parts of the Trans-Canada Highway were shut down for days, causing serious detours for motorists. Many communities, businesses and family homes were damaged, and several roads were washed away. Unfortunately, severe road damage led to the death of one individual in the area, and their family is in our thoughts and prayers.

It seems as though many communities in Algoma–Manitoulin have been affected by disasters recently. We have seen several floods, forest fires, train derailments and the fateful Algo mall disaster. Yet in the face of disaster and tragedy, what I find most remarkable is the sense of community and strong will. During the recent floods, we saw construction companies and their crews drop everything and offer assistance and their equipment. We saw dozens of volunteer firefighters work tirelessly. Emergency crews, road crews and others rushed to affected areas to assist. Chiefs, mayors and councils and their municipal staff were outstanding and continue to work around the clock. People everywhere stepped up and did what they could to help their neighbour.

What I see time and time again, as the representative of Algoma–Manitoulin, is the ability of northerners to pull through, lend a hand and leave no one behind. This is a true testament to the strong character and spirit of the people of Algoma–Manitoulin. I am proud to know them.

SCARBOROUGH

Mr. Bas Balkissoon: Speaker, today I rise as a proud 37-year resident of Scarborough. I am very proud to have served on city council and here in this Legislature, collectively, for almost 25 years. I’m proud to be part of this Liberal government that understands Scarborough and has delivered for the people of Scarborough. I am proud of my record on better public transit. I never wavered on a subway extension in Scarborough.

Speaker, what astonished me is the lack of respect for Scarborough by members in this House across the aisle. We heard the leader of the official opposition recklessly use the term “Scarberia” to refer to the area that my constituents and I call home. His previous references to southwestern Ontario as a “rust belt” and overseas professionals as “foreigners” are simply disrespectful to building a united Ontario.

All residents of Scarborough contribute to our fair and great society and should never be disrespected. All Scarborough Liberal members will continue to fight for the people of Scarborough and champion the most diverse part of this province. We will not tolerate any sort of disrespect directed to our constituents.

Members in this House should not divide the people of Ontario and pit them against each other. I’m a very proud Ontarian and a very proud Canadian. We live in one Ontario.

MICHAEL MCGLYNN

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: On Saturday, September 14, there was an amazing, giant event in my riding, specifically in Wingham. It was held for the first time. The local logging industry came together to host an amazing variety of activities to celebrate their industry, in memory of Michael McGlynn. I have never seen so many vehicles around the Wingham community complex. What a tribute to Michael and his family.

Proceeds from the day will be given to the Wingham and Walkerton hospital foundations, and to an online support service for troubled teens known as Wes for Youth. It will also set up the Mike McGlynn Memorial Scholarship.

Throughout the event, there were amazing examples of inspiration. I would like to share some excerpts of one particular passage—I apologize for my cold here—in the spirit of the logging industry:

Advice from a tree:

Stand tall and proud

Sink your roots deeply into the earth

Reflect the light of your true nature

Think long term

Go out on a limb

Remember your place among all living beings …

Be flexible

Remember your roots

Enjoy the view!

I’m sure Michael really enjoyed the view on Saturday as the logging industry celebrated his memory. To close, it was a wonderful tribute to both Michael and his family, and I’d like to say, stay golden.

STUDENT SAFETY

Mr. Rosario Marchese: September 3 was the first day of school for Ontario students, but for one student, the day ended in tragedy. Violet Liang, who was 14 years old and by all accounts an excellent student, was struck and killed by a truck as she walked to school. My deepest condolences go out to Violet’s family, friends and neighbours.

So far no charges have been laid; they’re calling it an accident. I cannot understand how our society can consider it normal and acceptable that our children lack safe ways of walking or cycling to school. We spend about $800 million a year in this province to bus kids to school, and yet there is no dedicated funding to ensure our children have safe sidewalks, protected bike lanes or crosswalks as they travel to school.

The organization Green Communities Canada is working to change this. Led by director Jacky Kennedy, in partnership with Canada Walks and Share the Road, the group’s Active and Safe Routes to School program works with schools and communities to spot hazards and plan safer routes for local kids. These plans can then be implemented as part of road upgrades or repairs.

I would like to thank Ms. Kennedy and her group as well as Share the Road’s Eleanor McMahon for their tireless work to improve safety for children who walk or bike to school.

LAW SCHOOL IN NORTHERN ONTARIO

Mr. Bill Mauro: In my 16 years of political work—six on city council in Thunder Bay and 10 as the MPP for the riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan—Wednesday, September 4 was absolutely a red-letter day in our community. We made history on Wednesday, September 4 in Thunder Bay, at Lakehead University, when we announced the first law school in the history of northern Ontario at the Lakehead University campus in the city of Thunder Bay. Not only that, it represents the first new law school in Ontario in well over 40 years. There was an incredibly large and enthusiastic crowd for the opening, and I was very excited and pleased to have Premier Kathleen Wynne in attendance with us all that day.

This announcement for us in Thunder Bay is important on so many levels. It represents an ability for local students from Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario to stay close to home and get their education. It represents a continuing diversification of our economy and a building of our knowledge-based economy, along with the medical school, the new law school, the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute and the like.

In the final few seconds that I have, I do want to thank so many people who did a lot of work on this particular project: former president Gilbert, current president Brian Stevenson, the board of directors, the law society, the broader community, and mayor and council, who all lent their support to this effort.

Clearly, I have to thank our Liberal government and previous Premier McGuinty and current Premier Wynne and past Ministers of Training, Colleges and Universities, as well as my colleague Michael Gravelle. We all did a lot of work. It’s very exciting, a very proud day for Thunder Bay and Lakehead University.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Communities across the province are coming to the realization that the government’s Green Energy Act, with the rich subsidies paid to renewable developers under the FIT program, is unsustainable and driving our energy prices to unaffordable and economically destructive levels. More than 65 communities now, including Chisholm and Calvin townships in my riding, have declared themselves to be “not willing hosts” for industrial wind turbines. In resolutions dated August 13 and September 10 respectively, both councils state that they support the position of other Ontario municipalities that the province should impose a moratorium on the approval of wind energy projects until clear evidence is provided ruling out health impacts.

There is no clearer sign that the government’s wind energy agenda is an absolute failure than their recent move to actually pay wind developers not to produce power when we have a surplus.

1510

I can tell you, Speaker, that on top of the subsidies and losses from surplus power, the global adjustment has sent hydro bills in Ontario to unsustainable heights. Skyrocketing hydro costs sent Xstrata Copper of Timmins, Ontario packing for Quebec, costing 672 jobs. Again, this is with power made by wind that the Auditor General said we paid Quebec to take from us; 672 jobs were a result.

EVENTS IN CLAREMONT

Mr. Joe Dickson: Today I’d like to bring to the floor information on this weekend’s village of Claremont 175th anniversary. It’s a very special occasion in the city of Pickering. Claremont is up Brock Road North, as I think some of my good friends here know. It’s butted between Brock Road and, on the west, the York Durham Line, which is the Toronto border, and up to the Tenth Line, which becomes Uxbridge.

I just want to mention that Claremont, in north Pickering, was located there back in 1851—sorry, prior to that, but was named in 1851 by a very popular person, William Michell, and he did that on the opening of the very first post office.

There are many events taking place. On Friday, so many of the events are free for families. You’ll notice there are things like a corn roast; Fly Away Home movie, and that’s by our good friend Bill Lishman, who resides in that area. Saturday: a gigantic parade and a multitude of events all day long at the park adjacent to the fire hall. On Sunday, things come to a very happy end with a morning run, an interfaith service and a potluck dinner.

Don’t forget, I look forward to seeing you in Claremont, Ontario this weekend.

FRUIT AND VEGETABLE GROWERS

Mr. John O’Toole: Ontario’s fruit and vegetable growers produce over 120 different crops and provide 30,000 jobs in rural Ontario.

On August 21, it was my privilege to have the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association tour my riding of Durham. The tour highlighted three family farms and orchards that achieved success through hard work, innovation and commitment to excellence.

I’d like to thank Walter and Colleen Pingle of Pingle’s Farm Market in Hampton, just on Taunton Road, for their hospitality. Their market combines edutainment for families and school tours with fresh produce, pick-your-own crops, pies and pastries.

At Wilmot Orchards near Newcastle, Judi and Charles Stevens led the group on a tour of their blueberry and apple orchard. They spoke to the guests about the latest trends in crop production. Charles is also a board member of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’.

Mike Gibson and Kirk Kemp operate Algoma Orchards, near Newcastle. It includes a market, 700 acres of orchards, plus a state-of-the-art plant for packing apples and producing fruit juices. Kirk Kemp led the tour at Algoma, and he spoke about the advantages of the 21st-century automation in building business and jobs in Ontario.

Many thanks to the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ for visiting the riding of Durham.

Mr. Speaker, good things grow in Ontario and especially in the riding of Durham.

BALL CONSTRUCTION

Mr. Michael Harris: Today I’m proud to rise in the House to congratulate 90 years of success for a local company and employer from Waterloo region, Ball Construction. When brothers Harold and Frank Ball started Ball Brothers General Contractors in 1923, their tradition of integrity, honesty and dedication would drive their business well into the 21st century. Their award-winning designs have a prominent place in Waterloo region, including the Perimeter Institute, the University of Waterloo health sciences’ school of pharmacy and many more.

Now in the third generation of the Ball family, Ball Construction continues to grow and expand into the new millennium with opportunities and challenges unknown 90 years ago. Its longevity is a testament to the strength and foresight of this family-run business.

The three main partners, president Jason Ball; his cousin and the vice-president, Cameron Ball; as well as vice-president and estimating manager Gary Hauck, have kept the Ball Construction machine rolling smoothly.

With a willingness to tackle the toughest construction projects, in addition to their open-door policy for their employees and customers, Ball Construction has earned a well-deserved reputation for getting the job done. Being a respected employer for 90 years, this company provides good-quality jobs, constructing quality buildings on time and on budget around Ontario, and that’s something all of us can be thankful and appreciative for.

On behalf of the Ontario Legislature, please join me in wishing Ball Construction a happy 90th anniversary and continued success in the years to come.

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly and move its adoption.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Anne Stokes): Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

Bill 14, An Act to amend the Co-operative Corporations Act and the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 in respect of non-profit housing co-operatives and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Agreed.

Report adopted.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The bill is therefore ordered for third reading. No further action required.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT
(MINOR ACCIDENTS
AND NEW DRIVERS), 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES ASSURANCES
(ACCIDENTS MINEURS
ET NOUVEAUX CONDUCTEURS)

Mr. Colle moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 100, An Act to amend the Insurance Act in respect of automobile insurance risk classification systems / Projet de loi 100, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les assurances en ce qui concerne les systèmes de classement des risques en matière d’assurance-automobile.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House to agree, while it’s quiet? Agreed? Agreed.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Mike Colle: If passed, this bill would do two things. First of all, it would give a break to young drivers and new drivers, whereby they would have a thing called first-chance discount, and it’s long overdue. The second thing it would do: If you have a minor accident, less than 2,500 bucks, and you fix it yourself out of pocket, it doesn’t affect your insurance rates. These are two good things in this bill.

I hope everybody will support this bill and give drivers a break in Ontario.

SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS
ELECTION ADVERTISING
TRANSPARENCY ACT, 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 SUR LA TRANSPARENCE
DE LA PUBLICITÉ ÉLECTORALE
DES GROUPES D’INTÉRÊT PARTICULIER

Mr. Nicholls moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 101, An Act to amend the Election Finances Act with respect to third party election advertising / Projet de loi 101, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le financement des élections à l’égard de la publicité électorale de tiers.

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

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Rick Nicholls: It’s my pleasure to rise to introduce my bill, the Special Interest Groups Election Advertising Transparency Act. This bill actually seeks to amend the Election Finances Act to place a cap on the amount of money special interest groups could spend on advertising during provincial elections, which is something all three parties have agreed to in the past.

The bill will allow Ontario to catch up to Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick and the federal government, which have already placed limits on special interest election advertising.

I encourage all members to support this piece of legislation.

1520

SENCHURA HOLDINGS LTD. ACT, 2013

Mr. Prue moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr24, An Act to revive Senchura Holdings Ltd.

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

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Pursuant to standing order 86, this bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills.

ARCHIVES AND RECORDKEEPING
AMENDMENT ACT, 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES ARCHIVES PUBLIQUES
ET LA CONSERVATION DES DOCUMENTS

Mr. Tabuns moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 102, An Act to amend the Archives and Recordkeeping Act, 2006 to impose penalties for offences relating to public records of archival value / Projet de loi 102, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2006 sur les Archives publiques et la conservation des documents pour imposer des peines en cas d’infraction relative aux documents publics ayant un intérêt archivistique.

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

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: The bill amends the Archives and Recordkeeping Act, adding a provision making it an offence to contravene section 15 of the act, which requires that records of ministerial and government decisions be kept. Any intent to deprive the public of those archives can be punished with a fine of up to $50,000.

PROTECTING STUDENTS
ACT, 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 PROTÉGEANT
LES ÉLÈVES

Mrs. Sandals moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 103, An Act to amend the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 with respect to discipline and other related matters / Projet de loi 103, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1996 sur l’Ordre des enseignantes et des enseignants de l’Ontario en ce qui concerne la discipline et d’autres questions connexes.

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

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for a short statement?

Hon. Liz Sandals: Speaker, I’ll make my statement during ministerial statements.

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
AND RESPONSES

TEACHERS

Hon. Liz Sandals: Speaker, I’d like to begin by welcoming Mr. Michael Salvatori, who is the registrar of the Ontario College of Teachers, to the Legislature this afternoon.

I am proud to introduce the Protecting Students Act, which, if passed, would protect our students and strengthen public confidence in the Ontario College of Teachers.

We know that the vast majority of Ontario teachers do an excellent job supporting our students. Every day, they put their hearts and souls into their classrooms, and they share our commitment to giving their students the opportunity to learn and develop in a safe and respectful school community.

However, in the rare circumstances where teacher discipline is required, families, parents, students and teachers deserve a fair and transparent process that maintains the public interest and protects our children. Together with the Ontario College of Teachers, we have a shared interest in maintaining public confidence in the investigation and disciplinary process, and have worked hard to reinforce public trust.

That is why, in September 2011, the Ontario College of Teachers appointed the Honourable Patrick LeSage to review its investigation and disciplinary procedures and dispute resolution program. In June 2012, Justice LeSage released a report that contained 49 recommendations to modernize the Ontario College of Teachers’ investigation and discipline practices.

Since then, our government has been working with the college to address all 49 of the recommendations. Many of these recommendations were in areas where the college could take immediate and independent action. For example, in 2012, the college began to post outcomes of disciplinary proceedings on its website to ensure that these decisions were open and transparent to the public. We are pleased that the college moved fast to implement many of the changes, but in order to fully implement all of the recommendations, we need to make legislative changes.

If passed, the Protecting Students Act would deliver on the remaining recommendations of Justice LeSage’s report. The proposed legislation and subsequent regulations would improve the college’s disciplinary processes, reduce the potential of conflicts of interest, and help protect students and teachers by taking the following actions:

—ensuring a teacher’s certificate is automatically revoked if he or she has been found guilty of sexual abuse or acts relating to child pornography;

—requiring school boards to inform the college when they have restricted a teacher’s duties or dismissed him or her for misconduct;

—allowing the college to share information with the school board if the subject of a complaint poses an immediate risk to a student;

—requiring the college to publish all decisions from its discipline committee;

—imposing new timelines to resolve cases more quickly and efficiently;

—avoiding potential conflicts of interest by preventing union or association representatives from sitting on the college’s council, where college policy is developed and approved; and

—finally, requiring that a disciplinary panel hearing a matter relating to a principal or vice-principal must include a principal or vice-principal.

As a government, we strive to maintain the highest levels of accountability and transparency, and we expect the same of all organizations that operate in the public interest. Most importantly, parents and students expect a public education system that is fair, transparent and accountable, and they need to be able to easily find answers to questions that they may have about disciplinary proceedings and decisions.

Speaker, this is an important step that our government is taking to make sure Ontario families continue to have confidence that their children are safe and protected in Ontario schools. I look forward to having every member of this House stand behind and support this very important bill.

HOME INSPECTORS

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: It’s my pleasure to rise in the House today to mark an important step in our government’s ongoing work to help consumers in this province spend their hard-earned money wisely. For many people, buying a house is the biggest investment they will make in their lifetime, one that represents much more than a simple dollars-and-cents transaction. For many people, it’s also a chance to start a new life or make a dream come true.

But people looking to buy a home have so many questions about its condition when buying a house; for example, are the plumbing and electrical operating systems working properly? Is mould creeping into the washrooms? Is the roof likely going to need replacing anytime soon? These are just some of the questions people want answered, and a sound home inspection conducted by a trained professional can provide these answers.

Currently, though, there are no mandatory qualifications for home inspectors in Ontario. Anyone can call themselves a home inspector and conduct such inspections. That means consumers may not have the protections they deserve. The government wants to do something about that, and that’s why we are developing qualifications for home inspectors in this province.

1530

In June of this year, my ministry brought together stakeholders from across the home inspection industry for a kickoff meeting. The meeting was a great success. Many stakeholders attended, including home inspector organizations and companies; groups from related areas such as the real estate and insurance sectors; and administrative authorities such as the Real Estate Council of Ontario, the Electrical Safety Authority and Tarion, who work hand in hand with government to develop and enforce regulations related to home inspections. It is the first time, the very first time, many key players in Ontario’s home inspection industry had come together to share ideas, and they covered a number of key topics related to the home inspection sector.

I’m very happy to report that a few weeks ago, we took the next step in our consultation. We took the feedback from our stakeholder meeting in June and we gave it to a panel of experts who have been assembled to draft a findings and recommendations report. In fact, I was very pleased to attend the kickoff meeting of the expert panel. I was very impressed that the panel was made up of people from across the sector, as well as people from across the province.

This panel is meeting regularly until November. There are 16 different professionals on the panel, as I mentioned, such as home inspectors, associations and businesses. Of course, we have consumers on this panel, and people in related sectors.

We’ve asked them to develop a report that will be posted on the Ministry of Consumer Services website for public and industry comment. I look forward to reading the report’s recommendation on how to proceed with strengthening consumer protection for homebuyers and sellers and developing qualifications for home inspectors.

I’d like to acknowledge the work of this expert panel and the stakeholders who are assisting us in this process. These people have given of their personal time to help us with this important consultation.

We’re taking this collaborative approach because we know the public and industry can help shape good future public decisions. And, as I’ve shared with this House previously, we’ve been working on a similar public engagement regarding the province’s Condominium Act, with a view to long-term improvements to this piece of legislation that directly affects the lives of over a million condo dwellers in Ontario.

When I’ve spoken to people across the province about this innovative consultative process, I’ve also stressed three important things. These are applicable to work we’re undertaking on the home inspectors, starting today.

First, we’re working with the experts to lay the foundation for the legislation. We’re going straight to on-the-ground voices for the kind of knowledge and expertise we need to start the process of building these qualifications for home inspectors.

Second, our work is being driven by a spirit of consensus. Coming up with common solutions and not getting stuck on the small differences is crucial to the collaboration. In fact, many people who’ve already been working closely with us on the Condominium Act review have told me just how persuasive this spirit of open discussion and consensus has been in that process.

Third, we’re looking at developing and implementing the home inspector qualifications as a long-term proposition, as a way of benefiting practitioners across the crucial market and protecting the rights and interests of consumers for many years to come.

These three themes are crucial to our success in the consultation on home inspectors, and we’re very confident they will help us and the stakeholders involved to build qualifications that are right for home inspectors in this province.

Our government is engaging with people across Ontario. We’re listening to them, they’re listening to each other, and we’re acting on thoughtful advice. Real collaboration that delivers real solutions is a cornerstone of our government, and that’s the way forward for better public policy.

Speaker, I look forward to providing the Legislature with further updates on this important work to develop mandatory qualifications for home inspectors in Ontario, as part of our overall plan to help people in their everyday lives through stronger consumer protection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It is now time for responses.

TEACHERS

Mr. Rob E. Milligan: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. As you are well aware, in September 2011, the Ontario College of Teachers commissioned Justice Patrick LeSage to review its investigation and discipline procedures and outcomes and dispute program. Justice LeSage responded with 49 recommendations, all of which the Ministry of Education has agreed to address in its proposed bill today, which we just received.

It is of the utmost importance that we always work to ensure the safety of students in our schools. Improving the investigation and disciplinary process, as well as increasing protection for students from sexual offences in schools, are things that I am confident all parties in the House will support going forward.

The PC Party and I myself have always been strongly supportive of all endeavours and legislation intent on improving the safety of students in our school system. As always, I do stress, however, that it’s important that we first see the bill that is proposed today and make any necessary changes to the proposed legislation. All points in the bill must be reviewed in detail in order for us to guarantee that the bill serves its purpose and works to protect students and makes their safety our priority.

I look forward to working with the Minister of Education in granting the OCT all the tools it needs to promote safety in Ontario schools. As a member of OCT myself, I and my esteemed colleagues from my past career obviously do have the safety of students foremost in our thoughts and minds, moving forward.

That being said, again, it’s important that we read the details of the bill, which we just received today, and I’m sure there will be time later, when we discuss and debate the bill—I’ll be looking at those particulars.

HOME INSPECTORS

Mr. Jim McDonell: A home is the largest expense that an average family will incur in their lifetime. Financing a home purchase is a long-term commitment that affects a family’s financial planning for decades to come. Home ownership is a source of stability and a sign of support and commitment to a community, a neighbourhood and a region.

Ownership of one’s own home is a source of security for a family. The benefits of a fully paid-off property, not bound by lease agreements and rules, is an assurance that, come what may, family members can expect to have a roof over their heads, regardless of what’s happening.

Purchasers of a newly built home benefit, with some limitations, from the protections of Tarion’s new home warranty plan. For many buyers, however, the safety of their largest life investment often lies in the hands of an expert that they trust to assess the home for defects and hazards.

I know several home inspectors and can attest to the passion they bring to the job, seeking to ensure that the consumer is fully informed about the product they are trying to buy. Unfortunately, most good stories go unnoticed by the public.

Every consumer expects the transaction to be pleasant and the service to be top-notch. However, when a home inspection fails to spot the need for tens of thousands of dollars of repairs, the buyer’s finances take a huge hit and you have a new story.

Home inspectors in Ontario abide by their association’s regulations and codes of conduct, developed over many years. Providing consumers with the added certainty of a professional licence to accompany the title of home inspector is worth talking about, and we look forward to engaging the government and the stakeholders on the issue.

I previously filed an order paper question on this topic and was told that the area of home inspections was not a priority for ministry regulation, due to the low number of complaints.

Considering the value of the investment in question, I see licensing consultations as a step in the right direction. But we must ensure that this doesn’t just create an extra mire of red tape and added cost for the consumer, without measurable results.

We look forward to seeing the consultation and commenting on it, and to the legislation coming forward. We commend the government for taking this initiative.

TEACHERS

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Every child deserves to feel safe in their school. Every parent expects that their child will be safe in their school. We would all agree that anyone who sexually abuses a child should not be in the classroom.

The bill introduced today should be a step forward to ensure that those expectations are met; that those safeties, those securities, are in place. The public expects the Ontario College of Teachers and this Legislature to take this matter seriously and to deal with it expeditiously.

1540

Speaker, I look forward to debating this bill through the public hearings, and I hope that it is brought forward very promptly by this government.

HOME INSPECTORS

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: The file regarding consumer services is an area which requires a great deal of attention. With respect to this home inspector expert panel, I first must indicate very clearly, on behalf of the NDP, that we encourage and support the principle of consultations, the idea of obtaining input from stakeholders and from the public. It is essential to obtain that before we present legislation. That is a principle that we wholeheartedly support, and in that light, I appreciate the government’s initiative.

I also appreciate the hard work of the panel members and the panel in general, but—there’s always a but—there are many areas in which the consumer services file cries out for attention. Often, the solution begins with a consultation process, but it does not end there. Where it ends is in action, and that’s what we see is lacking in many files, particularly when it comes to consumer services.

There are a number of areas, like Tarion—if we’re talking about homeowners, it’s one of the only services provided. It’s a monopoly. The only way you can receive insurance is through Tarion. However, many consumers are complaining that Tarion simply does not meet their needs; it simply does not protect their interests.

Auto insurance is another area where we see individuals crying out for attention, to see the rates reduced. The rates we are paying in Ontario are some of the highest in the entire country, and people are crying out for some attention. They need these rates to come down. So while we support the initiative of obtaining information and obtaining consultation and input from the public, we need to see some action.

With respect to the home inspections, the consultations have resulted in a tentative agreement, after two meetings, about the importance of having a common level of professionalism in the industry. That applies to every industry, and I think that every citizen in Ontario expects that every industry has a common level of professionalism. So the fact that the panel has come to that agreement—while I respect their work, that’s something that we all already understand.

What we need to see from this government is more action. So I ask this government to take action on the home file by ensuring that home inspectors are regulated and receive an adequate level of certification.

I call on this government to act on Tarion: to ensure that Tarion is fulfilling their duties in protecting the interests of the consumers, by providing protection when the home faces incidents or problems that require insurance coverage—and are not simply being denied their claims, time and time again.

Again, I ask this government to take action on the auto insurance file, where the high costs simply need to be addressed.

The condo file: The condominium issue in this province is an area that is crying out for attention. There is a myriad of problems facing condo owners and condo dwellers, and these areas have yet to be addressed. Years and years of complaints have been received, but there has been no action.

This is a common theme with this government. There is inaction where we need some definitive steps to be taken, particularly in the interest of protecting consumers.

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the government take some real action and start working for the best interests of consumers in Ontario.

PETITIONS

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

Mr. John Yakabuski: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas the province of Ontario is the only province in Canada that does not allow the provincial Ombudsman, who is an officer of the Legislature, to provide trusted, independent investigations of complaints against hospitals, long-term-care homes, school boards, children’s aid societies, police, retirement homes and universities; and

“Whereas the people wronged by these institutions are left feeling helpless and most have nowhere else to turn for help to address their issues;

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

“To grant the Ombudsman of Ontario the power to investigate hospitals, long-term-care homes, school boards, children’s aid societies, police, retirement homes and universities.”

I will affix my signature and send it down with Ravicha.

SERVICES FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED

Mr. Michael Prue: I have a petition that reads as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas agencies that support individuals with a developmental disability and their families have for several years (beginning in 2010) faced a decline in provincial funding for programs that support people with developmental and other related disabilities; and

“Whereas because this level of provincial funding is far less than the rate of inflation and operational costs, and does not account for providing services to a growing and aging number of individuals with complex needs, developmental service agencies are being forced into deficit; and

“Whereas today over 30% of developmental service agencies are in deficit; and

“Whereas lowered provincial funding has resulted in agencies being forced to cut programs and services that enable people with a developmental disability to participate in their community and enjoy the best quality of life possible; and

“Whereas in some cases services once focused on community inclusion and quality of life for individuals have been reduced to a ‘custodial’ care arrangement; and

“Whereas lower provincial funding means a poorer quality of life for people with a developmental disability and their families and increasingly difficult working conditions for the direct care staff who support them; and

“Whereas there are thousands of people waiting for residential supports, day program supports and other programs province-wide;

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

“(1) To eliminate the deficits of developmental service agencies and provide adequate new funding to restore services and programs that have in effect been cut;

“(2) To protect existing services and supports by providing an overall increase in funding for agencies that is at least equal to inflationary costs that include among other operational costs, utilities, food and compensation increases to ensure staff retention;

“(3) To fund pay equity obligations for a predominantly female workforce;

“(4) To provide adequate new funding to agencies to ensure that the growing number of families on wait-lists have access to accommodation supports and day supports and services.”

I am in agreement. This petition is signed by hundreds and hundreds of people from across Ontario. I will send it down with page Aly Muhammad.

FAMILY SAFETY

Mr. Bob Delaney: I have a petition that’s addressed to the Ontario Legislative Assembly, and it reads as follows:

“Whereas the Safer Families Program … is a successful partnership of Catholic Family Services Peel-Dufferin, Family Services of Peel and the Peel Children’s Aid Society, receives year-to-year funding from the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and is a critical component of social services to families within the Peel community; and

“Whereas the intervention model for Safer Families currently operates with no waiting lists, an important consideration for families experiencing domestic violence and child protection concerns, as they require immediate access to service; and

“Whereas the Safer Families Program is aligned with Ontario’s child poverty agenda, is committed to preventing violence against women, and contributes to community capacity building to support child welfare delivery; and

“Whereas currently, Safer Families serves 14% of all domestic violence cases referred to Peel Children’s Aid Society and has the ability to double the number of cases it handles…;

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

“That the government of Ontario adjust its funding to supply ongoing core funding rather than year-to-year funding, and realign funding to double the percentage of cases referred by the Peel Children’s Aid Society and served by the Safer Families Program.”

I’m pleased to sign this petition and send it down to the table with page Massoma from Meadowvale.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock, please. The member from Bramalea–Gore–Malton on a point of order.

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for this indulgence. I’d ask the House to join me in welcoming a guest of mine who’s a YouTube celebrity, a hip hop artist and a well-known member of the South Asian community: Kanwer Singh Mahl, also known as Humble the Poet.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It’s a little unorthodox—there’s time set aside for that—but I understand the member’s zeal to introduce a friend.

The member from Simcoe–Grey on petitions.

1550

PHYSIOTHERAPY SERVICES

Mr. Jim Wilson: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank Mrs. Fran Scherrer from Collingwoord for sending me this petition about physiotherapy cuts in the province.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ministry of Health is planning on cutting physiotherapy services to seniors in long-term-care homes—from an estimated $110 million to $58.5 million; and

“Whereas with this change seniors will not receive the care they are currently entitled to through their current OHIP physiotherapy providers, who the government plans to delist from OHIP on August 1st, 2013; and

“Whereas the government has announced that the funding level, the number of treatments a resident could receive, has not been specified and will be reduced from a maximum of 150 visits/year to some unknown level, which means the hours of care and number of staff providing seniors with physiotherapy will also be significantly reduced as of August 1st, 2013; and

“Whereas our current OHIP physiotherapy providers have been providing seniors with individualized treatments for over 48 years, and these services have been proven to help seniors improve in their activities of daily living, mobility, pain and falls risk;

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

“To review and reverse this drastic cut of OHIP physiotherapy services to seniors, our most vulnerable population, and to continue with the $110 million physiotherapy funding for seniors in long-term-care homes.”

I agree with this petition and I will sign it.

AIR-RAIL LINK

Mr. Jonah Schein: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas diesel trains are a health hazard for people who live near them;

“Whereas more toxic fumes will be created by the 400 daily trains than the car trips they are meant to replace;

“Whereas the planned air-rail link does not serve the communities through which it passes and will be priced beyond the reach of most commuters;

“Whereas all major cities in the world with train service between their downtown core and the airport use electric trains;

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

“That the province of Ontario stop building the air-rail link for diesel and move to electrify the route immediately;

“That the air-rail link be designed, operated and priced as an affordable transportation option between all points along its route.”

Speaker, I’ll sign my name to this petition, which I agree with, and will give it to page James.

LONG-TERM CARE

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario has 634 long-term-care facilities providing care for 75,000 residents; and

“Whereas hospitals in Ontario report seeing nursing home patients admitted who are suffering from neglect; and

“Whereas several incidents of neglect prompted the Long-Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety to release an action plan; and

“Whereas caring for the increasing number of patients with cognitive difficulties requires more time for front-line staff to manage patient needs; and

“Whereas staffing levels in Ontario’s nursing homes are below the national average (Statistics Canada); and

“Whereas Ontario does not have a minimum staffing ratio;

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

“That the Liberal government ensures front-line care and staffing levels receive funding precedence over administrative costs.”

Thank you very much, Speaker. I agree with this petition. I affix my signature, and I’ll send it to the desk with Jasper.

EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES

Mr. Percy Hatfield: I have a petition from people from across Ontario. It reads:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas servers and bartenders in Ontario earn $8.90 an hour, far less than the minimum wage; and

“Whereas tips are given to servers and bartenders for good service and to supplement the lower wages they receive; and

“Whereas Ontario law allows for owners and managers to pocket a portion of servers’ and bartenders’ earned tips or total sales; and

“Whereas thousands of servers across the province have asked for this practice to stop;

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

“Support the swift passage of Bill 49, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act with respect to tips and other gratuities and thereby end the practice of ‘tip-outs’ to management and owners.”

I agree with this petition. I will affix my name to it and give it to page Ian to present.

FAMILY CAREGIVER LEAVE

Ms. Soo Wong: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the people of Ontario deserve to be able to look after their sick or injured family members without fearing that they will lose their jobs at such a vulnerable time;

“Whereas the people of Ontario deserve to be able to spend time looking for a child that has disappeared, or take time off to grieve the death of a child that was murdered without fearing that they will lose their jobs;

“Whereas the federal government has recently extended similar leaves and economic supports to federal employees;

“Whereas the government of Ontario, and the Premier of Ontario, support Ontario families and wish to foster mental and physical well-being by allowing those closest to sick or injured family members the time to provide support free of work-related concerns;

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

“That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario pass and enact, during spring of 2013, Bill 21, the Leaves to Help Families Act.”

I fully support it, affix my signature and give it to page Sean.

FISHING AND HUNTING REGULATIONS

Mr. John O’Toole: I’m pleased to present a petition from the riding of Durham that reads as follows:

“Whereas the McGuinty/Wynne government has drastically reduced the number of Ontario hunting and fishing regulation booklets available to the public; and

“Whereas regulations in printed booklets are the most portable and convenient format for outdoorspersons to consult in the field, while hunting or fishing; and

“Whereas in addition to the Internet being unavailable in remote locations, many Ontarians do not have Internet access, or prefer information in print rather than electronic format; and

“Whereas those who hunt and fish pay substantial amounts each year to purchase outdoor cards, hunting licences and fishing licences and it is reasonable to expect that a booklet explaining the regulations should be provided as a courtesy; and

“Whereas Ontario hunters and anglers need to access the most current regulations to ensure they enjoy hunting and fishing safely and lawfully;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, ask the Ministry of Natural Resources to respect the wishes of Ontario anglers and hunters by providing hunting and fishing regulations in booklet form to everyone who needs one.”

I’m pleased to sign and support it and present it to Gabrielle, one of the new pages.

HYDRO RATES

Mr. Jim McDonell: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas the Green Energy Act has driven up the cost of electricity in Ontario due to unrealistic subsidies for certain energy sources, including the world’s highest subsidies for solar power; and

“Whereas this cost is passed on to ratepayers through the global adjustment, which can account for almost half of a ratepayer’s hydro bill; and

“Whereas the high cost of energy is severely impacting the quality of life of Ontario’s residents, especially fixed-income seniors; and

“Whereas it is imperative to remedy Liberal mismanagement in the energy sector by implementing immediate reforms detailed in the Ontario PC white paper Paths to Prosperity—Affordable Energy;

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

“To immediately repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009, and all other statutes that artificially inflate the cost of electricity with the aim of bringing down electricity rates and abolishing the expensive surcharges such as the global adjustment and debt retirement charges.”

I agree with this petition and will be passing it off to page Massoma.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Ms. Soo Wong: I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas Scarborough residents north of Ontario Highway 401 and east of Don Mills are without a rapid transit option; and

“Whereas a strong transit system is critical for increasing economic development and tackling income disparity; and

“Whereas this geographical area continues to grow and the demand for strong rapid transit continues to increase; and

“Whereas Sheppard Avenue is a major artery for automobile traffic for commuters travelling from suburbs to downtown Toronto, and travelling from suburb to suburb; and

“Whereas ground-level rapid transit would increase traffic, restrict lanes for automobiles, and add further risk for pedestrians and commuters at dangerous intersections along Sheppard Avenue; and

“Whereas demands for underground rapid transit along Sheppard Avenue have been part of public discourse for over 50 years; and

“Whereas the province of Ontario previously approved a plan from the city of Toronto to extend the Sheppard subway line from Downsview to Scarborough Centre; and

“Whereas an extension to the Sheppard subway line will require contributions and co-operation from the city of Toronto, the province of Ontario and the government of Canada;

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

“To support the extension of the Sheppard subway line east to Scarborough Centre; and

“To call upon all levels of government to contribute multi-year funding for the construction and operation of an extension to the Sheppard subway line.”

I fully support it and give it to page Ravicha.

TIRE DISPOSAL

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I have a petition here signed by a great many people from all around the province of Ontario. It is:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario government has approved massive increases to Ontario Tire Stewardship’s eco fees for agricultural tires, increasing some fees from $15.29 to $352.80, $546.84 or $1,311.24;

“Whereas Ontario imposes tire eco fees that are dramatically higher than those in other provinces;

“Whereas other provincial governments either exempt agricultural tires from recycling programs or charge fees only up to $75;

“Whereas these new fees will result in increased costs for our farmers and lost sales for our farm equipment dealerships;

“Whereas the PC caucus has proposed a new plan that holds manufacturers and importers of tires responsible for recycling, but gives them the freedom to work with other businesses to find the best way possible to carry out that responsibility;

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

“Please suspend the decision to significantly increase Ontario Tire Stewardship’s fees on agricultural and off-the-road tires pending a thorough impact study and implementation of proposals to lower costs.”

Thank you very much for the opportunity to present this petition on their behalf, Mr. Speaker.

1600

PRIVATE MEMBERS’
PUBLIC BUSINESS

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I beg to inform the House that, pursuant to standing order 98(c), a change has been made in the order of precedence on the ballot list for private members’ public business such that Mr. McDonell assumes ballot item number 46 and Mr. Ouellette assumes ballot item number 64.

OPPOSITION DAY

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: I move that the Legislative Assembly calls upon the government

To recognize that world-class cities build subways;

To recognize that the government voted against building subways for Scarborough last year and only promised a new subway to win a seat in the recent by-elections;

To recognize that the government promised to fund $1.8 billion for subway expansion in Scarborough, only to go back on their commitment with less money and fewer stops, and are now only putting forward $1.4 billion.

And that the Legislative Assembly calls upon the Liberal government to live by the promises made during the last by-election, and build a world-class transportation system that includes a Scarborough subway from Kennedy station to Sheppard Avenue and that it be implemented in collaboration with city council and Metrolinx.

Addressed to the Premier.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Mr. Holyday has moved opposition day number 1. Mr. Holyday?

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: It’s my pleasure to address this House. As you know, this is my first formal speech, and I’m very proud to be making it.

On this particular subject, I personally have quite a history in debating subways. I’ve been on the city of Toronto council since 1997. I was on Metro council before that, from 1994, and I was on the Etobicoke council from 1982. During that time, on several occasions, the matter of subways came up.

I guess what I want to stress is the importance of subways over LRTs. I know that the government has been supportive of LRTs in the past. A lot of people are supportive of LRTs, and they are for certain reasons. The reasons are that they’re less expensive and easier to build, and I guess you could do it quicker. But the problem with them is that it’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

LRTs will do the job for 30 or 35 years, but subways are in there and are underground, and they’ll do the job for well over a hundred years. Cities like London and New York have built subways because that’s the best system. That’s the system that moves people best and does not take away the capacity of roads to handle people on the surface.

It’s anticipated that by 2035, we will have, I believe it’s going to be, close to another million people, if not more, in the greater Toronto area, and it’s going to be important for us to build to provide the transportation those people will require. If we cut the capacity of our roads by cutting them in half with light rail transit, that’s certainly not going to do the job. Light rail transit doesn’t move as many people as quickly as subways, and although it might work in the short term, once we get out 50 years from now, that system will simply not work. So we must build subways.

What should have happened in the past—30, 35 years ago—we should have been building subways every single year. We should have been building a little bit each and every year. That’s what’s happened in New York, and that’s what’s happened in London and other cities that have great subway systems. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen here, but it has to start sometime.

The purpose of this motion is to get everybody on the side of subways. I think they are on the side of subways now. I don’t think everyone was always on the side of subways, but they are now, and it’s most important that we get on with the job. The cost, of course, is great, but we have to find the money. I suggest that we can find the money by simply prioritizing our spending. We have money to spend; we just choose ways to spend it that maybe aren’t what the majority of the taxpayers want. If we put it to the taxpayers on how they would like their money spent, I think you would find that the majority of them would like to have the transit in this city improved.

The gridlock is horrible. I know for my trip out to Etobicoke, in non-rush hour, I can do it in half an hour, but during rush hour it’s going to be over an hour, sometimes an hour and a quarter. A lot of people I see on Spadina are sitting on that part of the road for 35 or 45 minutes. It’s just not conducive to a good environment. It wastes fuel. It wastes people’s time. It puts stress on everybody.

This has to be stopped. This can only be stopped, I believe, by a good rapid transit system based on subways. So I’m urging the members on all sides of this House to come together and support this motion.

We’ve heard a lot of comments made. I know one that keeps coming back, particularly from the other side of the House, is about Mike Harris filling in the hole on Eglinton Avenue. Well, I’d like to tell you exactly what happened. That had a large part to do with the Metropolitan Toronto council, and I sat on the Metropolitan Toronto council. What happened at that time was, the NDP government, under Bob Rae, had decided they were going to build three subways—

Interjection: But they had no money.

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: —but they didn’t have any money. They started to build the Eglinton subway. An election was in the offing. I think they thought that that might help their chances. They started to build that subway without any money at all.

When Mike Harris and the Conservatives came in in 1995, they quickly told the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, “We cannot afford to build these three subways. We don’t have the money. You don’t have the money. The money is not coming from the tooth fairy. There is no way of getting the money to build these three subways. We’re going to find the money to build one. Which one do you want?” Metropolitan Toronto council took a vote, and on a very slim margin they voted to build the Sheppard subway. As a result of that decision, the only choice that the provincial government had at the time was to fill in Eglinton Avenue. You couldn’t just leave the hole. I think it cost $100 million. They did not have the $2 billion or $3 billion that it would have taken to finish the job. It simply was not there. We had gone through a recession. We had gone through Rae days, which were very disturbing to municipalities. Any of you who were on municipal councils at the time will know that a lot of good people were shown the door over the fact that we just couldn’t pay as many people anymore. So all those things came into play, and as a result of that, the Eglinton line was filled in.

I would also like to correct something that was said this morning, on the other side of the House, about my own support for subways. My support for subways has always been constant. One of the problems, of course, is that you can’t build them if you don’t have the resources to build them. But certainly in the last term of council, where Mayor Rob Ford has been 100% behind building subways—and I’ve been 100% behind Rob Ford—there has been no wavering whatsoever on what I wanted and what he wanted. We wanted subways. You know that there was a group prior to that that wanted light rapid transit and they were going to put it in the middle of all the main roads throughout the city, and unfortunately, they had the backing of this provincial government to do it. As you recall, they were going to raise taxes at one point—new revenue tools, I think they called them—to try to pay for that. Well, that isn’t the way that this should work. I think that there might be some call down the road for some taxes for this, but it can’t be the going-out-the-door position. It has to be after you’ve looked at all other possibilities of paying for it— before you’d ever come up with new taxes.

I’m also surprised now that the government has taken the position of making their announcement on the new subway in Scarborough that follows the line not recommended by the city of Toronto council. I participated in the debate that took place last July, and it was a continuation of debates that have gone on there for the last couple of years. That council quite vehemently, and with a strong majority, said that they wanted to have the subway go from Kennedy station to Sheppard, and they told the route—that they wanted it on that underground route. I still don’t understand how the government of Ontario could combine and announce a plan that isn’t in keeping with what the city of Toronto council asked for.

1610

I also fail to understand how they could make comments about the federal government when the federal government said that they would consider funding this and let us know by September 30. It seemed that we were too impatient here. We couldn’t wait for September 30. We had to come out with another plan that, even though it just discarded any contribution by the federal government and even though it was not in compliance with what the city of Toronto council voted on, just did it anyway.

Then, after all is said and done, they now announce they’re going to have a new task force to take a look at subways in Toronto. I think the public has every right to ask: What in the world is going on down there? What is wrong with these people? Why can’t they just make a decision and stick with it?

I’ll tell you what changes people’s minds, and that’s a thing like that by-election, where the voters in Scarborough let it be known loud and clear: They wanted subways. I know the government position had to change as a result of that and they had to get off the LRT and they had to get off the new revenue tools to build the LRT and they had to finally come around to seeing that it was going to be subways.

So this motion is just to keep them on track. Let’s have this decision made and let’s have a solid decision backed by all sections of this Legislature and get on with building subways in the city of Toronto.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Jonah Schein: I rise on behalf of the people of Davenport to speak to this motion on transit investments. I also rise today to share my profound frustration with this provincial Liberal government, with the mayor of this city and with the Conservative government of Canada for the embarrassing politics that we see right now when it comes to transit. I’m afraid to say that my frustration actually reflects quite accurately the frustration of Davenport residents and of people across the region.

I’d encourage members in this House to get on transit, to wait for a bus, to wait for a streetcar, to try to get on a subway in the morning, and you will understand what I’m saying. You will understand the people of the GTA, because people in the GTA are crippled by gridlock. People from Davenport to Scarborough are losing hours of their lives stuck in traffic or waiting for transit. It’s time they could be spending with their families and with their loved ones, because people in the GTA and the Hamilton area have the longest commute times in North America.

Today’s motion by the Conservative Party is yet another political game that only aims at scoring political points for the PC Party instead of supporting commuters in the GTHA. Today’s debate has been focused on the transit needs of Scarborough, a region that is now in the crosshairs of political strategists at Queen’s Park and city hall. But Scarborough is a part of our city that has been ignored for too long. The people of Scarborough and people across the GTHA need less games, they need less politics, they need less conversation and they need more action when it comes to transit. The people of Scarborough and across our region deserve good, affordable, dependable, rapid public transit.

It’s clear that people in Scarborough feel like they’ve been getting second-class treatment, and the political games that they’ve seen from both Liberals and Conservatives are only making things worse. The Liberals have been making promises for 10 years now. For 10 years they have done nothing to get transit for Scarborough. We’ve heard promise after promise, but commuters are stuck waiting longer and longer to get home. Liberals claim that transit is a priority, but I think their record speaks for itself.

My community of Davenport knows a few things about Liberal priorities and Liberal promises. Just last night, over 100 residents of the west end of Toronto gathered for yet another Metrolinx meeting to register their opposition again to the Liberal government’s plan to run dirty diesel trains in our neighbourhoods on the UP express air-rail link. Since day one, residents of my riding have fought for clean electric trains that would actually serve our communities instead of polluting them. But this Liberal government still plans to open the line with diesel trains. The Liberal government claims they will convert these trains to electric in the near future. They claim that the electrification of the air-rail link is a priority. But the truth is that neither the Premier nor the Minister of Transportation has ever publicly committed to electrifying the line. We don’t have an official timeline from this minister or from this government, but we have seen—

Interjection.

Mr. Jonah Schein: Let’s hear it. I hope that the minister will make a public commitment today, Speaker.

We have seen an abundance of public relations and consultations, but we’ve seen not enough listening from this government. People across Ontario know that Liberals will say anything to get elected and to stay in power, as they did when they spent more than half a billion dollars of our money, the money that belongs to the people of this province, to cancel gas plants just to save the jobs of Liberal MPPs. Even still, it was still disappointing to see the Liberals make more campaign promises in the recent Scarborough election that were so clearly about putting their own political interests first.

This Liberal government cannot be trusted to deliver transit in Scarborough or anywhere else. It should be obvious to all observers that the Conservatives are not transit champions either. Today’s motion is more of the same from the Conservatives. They’d rather shout from the sidelines than deliver results.

The truth is that year after year, Liberal and Conservative governments put their own private interests first. The truth is that year after year, they take care of themselves, and they leave the people of this province behind. Speaker, the truth is that the Harris, Eves, McGuinty and now Wynne governments—their commitment to cutting taxes for their friends has left Ontario with at least $15 billion less each year in revenue, and the people of this province have been left to pick up the tab.

Speaker, the truth is that after 10 years of neglect and 10 years of cuts, this old and tired Liberal government wants us now to believe that they’re suddenly having a deathbed conversion, that they are now suddenly your subway champions.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Well, everyone was listening intently to the Conservative presentation, and now I’ve got six sidebars going with the Conservatives. I can’t even hear the speaker. So can we keep it down, please?

Go ahead.

Mr. Jonah Schein: Thank you, Speaker. I’ll try to make it simple. What I’m saying is that the Conservatives and the Liberals act exactly in the same ways when it comes to transit planning in this province.

The Liberals want people in Ontario to believe that they’ve changed now and that suddenly they’re finally ready to put people first. But the people of Ontario won’t be fooled. People in this province know that there’s only one political party in this House that will stand up and protect the public interest. History speaks for itself. Only the Ontario NDP has shown consistent support for public investment, for transit operating and capital funding. While the Conservative and Liberal governments have downloaded transit operating costs to cities and riders, it’s only the NDP that has promised to restore operating funding to our cities, to get vehicles back in service.

People are sick of more photo ops and ribbon cuttings. People can’t wait another 10 or 20 years for their ride. People just want to get to work and to get home.

Only the NDP has committed to getting our city moving again immediately. Only the NDP has committed to funding transit and funding it in a way that is fair.

Again, Speaker, as we consider the motion before us, I think we need to recognize the history of transit in this province. It’s been nearly 20 years since Mike Harris took power in 1995, cut transit operating funding and halted construction on the Eglinton subway.

It has been Conservatives and Liberals running things in Ontario ever since. While they’ve cut taxes in ways that benefit top income earners and corporations in this province, they have left the overwhelming majority of Ontarians with decaying public infrastructure and no money to pay for repairs or new public investments in transit.

Provincial and federal governments have abandoned our city of Toronto, and they’ve created a growing transit deficit. In 2010, former transportation minister Kathleen Wynne delayed $4 billion in funding for Transit City, delaying the construction of light rail lines by five years or more. She cut 26 stations and reduced the length of new transit lines by 20 kilometres, to 55 kilometres. Speaker, I remember even the mayor of the city at that time was running ads saying, “Premier McGuinty, don’t stab us in the back. Don’t kill Transit City.”

1620

In 2010, the Liberal government cancelled the bus replacement program, meaning that municipalities across Ontario can no longer afford to replace aging buses and passengers are forced to endure more breakdowns and waits. In 2011, the government signed an MOU with the city of Toronto that further reduced the length of light rail lines by 25 kilometres, cancelling funding for the Finch West LRT and proposing an unfunded Sheppard subway. In November 2012, the province and the city signed a new MOU for four LRT lines.

While the Liberal government has been reducing and delaying its transit expansion plans for Toronto, lack of provincial support for operating has caused cuts to current bus and streetcar service. In 2011, the TTC was forced to reduce service on 40 bus routes due to lack of operating funds.

This is something that could be addressed immediately. There’s no big promise here; just pay to get buses on the road, get streetcars on the road and make sure that those are not sitting idly by while people are waiting to get home. We’re now 20 years behind schedule.

Now even business-oriented groups like the Toronto board of trade have begun to advocate for public investment in transit. Even Conservatives and Liberals who sit at the heads of organizations like CivicAction have come to realize that investment in public infrastructure is necessary and important. This is something that New Democrats have understood since the beginning. We’re glad that you’re catching up.

Folks like CivicAction are now advising Ontarians that it’s now time to pay up for transit so that industry can profit, but the truth is that the majority of people have been paying while the elite of this province have pocketed the profits. While riders are paying more at the fare box even while services are being cut, corporations continue to receive tax breaks while their profits soar. As a province, we need to pay for public transit, and pay for it in ways that are fair to the broader public who have not prospered over the last 20 years.

It’s the NDP that will continue to do our best to make this minority government continue to work at Queen’s Park and to get results. Transit should not be about politics; we need members of this Legislature to actually make a commitment to a transit plan and get this province working, but we need a fair plan and a plan that works for the majority of Ontarians, not just the top 1%. That’s why, in 2012, the NDP pushed for a new tax on the top 1%. We need the Liberals to make this tax permanent, but the Liberals want to give this money back. They want to give $500 million back to the top earners in this province, and that’s money that we could use for transit.

We’ve repeatedly asked this government to close corporate tax loopholes that cost provincial coffers between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion each year. This is also vital revenue, and it could be used to help pay for the building of new transit and cycling infrastructure in cities like Toronto over the years to come, but the Liberals continue to say no.

The Liberal government wants to charge low- and moderate-income families in Scarborough and throughout the GTA up to $1,000 more a year for transit while they let the richest corporations keep billions of dollars through corporate tax loopholes. Closing tax loopholes and keeping the high-income tax will help us to start to close the revenue gap. It will help us to start catching up on 20 years of neglect for public transit infrastructure.

The provincial government must commit to adopting additional revenue tools that are equitable and that meet the infrastructure needs of Ontario, because at the moment, Scarborough residents are facing rising transit fares, infrequent and overcrowded buses, and a lack of progress on rapid transit expansion.

The newest member of our Parliament was talking about his commitment to the mayor’s agenda. Over the summer, I was in Scarborough, and I was trying to get home. I was knocking on doors and talking to the people of Scarborough about their interests. It was interesting, because while I waited for the bus on Kingston Road to get back to my riding of Davenport, the mayor pulled up in his Escalade. For somebody who loves subways so much—I wish that the mayor, the Conservatives and the Liberals in this Parliament would actually get on transit and try to get to Scarborough outside of their Escalades.

The gross inequity and imbalance that we see in this city when it comes to transit was the backdrop for the Liberal government’s recent by-election promise to build a subway in Scarborough, and it’s the backdrop for this motion here today by the Conservative Party: to make the Liberal government uphold their by-election promise. But the Tories have brought forward this motion today, Speaker, not because they care about commuters in Toronto or Scarborough, but because they care about Tim Hudak and the Conservative Party.

This motion will not do much to get our city moving, but it does ask the Liberals to keep the promise they made to Scarborough voters this summer. Scarborough needs transit, Scarborough deserves transit, and they don’t deserve to be played as pawns by this Liberal government, because instead of working with the city of Toronto to deliver rapid transit for Scarborough, the Liberals have gone rogue. Instead of committing the funding that city councillors asked for, the Liberals chose a photo op for their minister over a transit plan for Scarborough, and they couldn’t even be bothered to invite the chair of the TTC to their announcement.

Their plan is a plan that may not even be structurally sound or possible to deliver, and so Toronto city councillors will be left with an impossible decision come October. How are councillors expected to choose the best transit plan for the residents of Toronto and Scarborough when the government keeps changing what is on offer? Toronto city councillors have been left in a state of uncertainty, and transit building remains stuck in political gridlock here in Toronto.

We need to ensure that city council is able to make the best decision for Scarborough and for the rest of Toronto, and to do that, councillors need to know what is on the table. The Liberal government needs to work with city councillors and it needs to keep its promises if we want transit to improve in this city. That’s why I’ll be supporting this motion today.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Thank you, Speaker, and thank you to those who have risen to speak today on this issue.

I was sent here by the people of Scarborough–Guildwood to deliver a subway extension to Scarborough. Working alongside Premier Wynne and my fellow Scarborough MPPs, there is a funded plan to do just that. The Ontario PC Party, meanwhile, has no plan and no clue where to start when it comes to transit. The last PC government filled in a subway line; the current Liberal government is completing a subway extension right now. The hypocrisy could not be more glaring.

I would like to talk more about our plan to build better transit for the people of Scarborough. The government of Ontario has stepped up to the plate and delivered $1.4 billion to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway line to Scarborough City Centre. For me, Scarborough is a place where I have lived, learned and worked. My Scarborough colleagues and I have listened to our constituents, and this commitment delivers what they want; indeed, what they urgently need. This subway plan is supported by both the chair of Metrolinx and the mayor of Toronto. The proposed alignment can be delivered within the funding we have available to us right now.

We need to get Scarborough moving now: no more delays that this motion proposes. A subway to Scarborough will make their commutes easier, helping them to get home—to work and back—much faster than before.

As I said, Metrolinx chair Rob Prichard is in support of the Ontario government’s plan to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway line to Scarborough City Centre, following the existing Scarborough rapid transit alignment. Mr. Prichard has called the proposal “genuinely a good idea” and states that the alignment “has been the basis of every plan that has been contemplated.” Mayor Rob Ford has also spoken in favour of our provincial government’s subway plan, stating that the subway plan is a huge victory and that the city of Toronto and the province of Ontario are ready to build transit.

The Scarborough subway is a step in the right direction. On July 18, the government announced the $1.4-billion commitment to building the Scarborough subway extension. The remaining $400 million required to complete the initially proposed line was always contingent on funding from other levels of government, funding that has yet to be delivered. The federal government needs to come to the table for the people of Scarborough.

We, on the other hand, will not be responsible for any funding gaps. Our commitment of $1.4 billion has not changed. The subway plan no longer relies on external funding from the city or the federal government. How much longer should the people of Scarborough be expected to wait for transit infrastructure? The Tories have no plan to pay for subways. The leader of the official opposition has said that he will build subways when funding becomes available.

The Hudak PCs would make the people of Scarborough wait decades until they have a subway. This is unacceptable. We need to get Scarborough moving.

1630

It’s been noted in this House that after coming to power in 1995, the Ontario PC Party stopped public transit funding and physically filled in the Eglinton West subway line with dirt. The Eglinton line would exist today if the PCs hadn’t spent almost $150 million filling it in—lost jobs, lost opportunity and lost time for the people of Scarborough. The people of Scarborough cannot trust the Leader of the Opposition or the PCs to bring them this much-needed transit infrastructure.

The member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore’s interest in a Scarborough subway is dubious at best, given his own record. During his time on city council, the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore refused to make budgetary allowances for a Scarborough subway. Now he wants the province to put up even more money.

I have heard my constituents in Scarborough–Guildwood loud and clear. The members of Scarborough have also listened to their constituents. Scarborough needs a subway extension, and moving ahead with the funding we have available to us right now will help avoid further inaction on this issue.

The people of Scarborough can no longer afford to wait. Therefore, I cannot support the motion put forward by the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore.

Whether the Ontario PC Party likes it or not, this government is building a subway to Scarborough. I’m proud to be a subway champion for Scarborough–Guildwood and, with my Scarborough colleagues, a subway funder.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Frank Klees: I’m pleased to participate in this debate on a motion by my colleague from Etobicoke–Lakeshore. I just want to refocus our attention to the motion itself, and that is:

“That the Legislative Assembly calls upon the government

“To recognize that world-class cities build subways”—not partial subways, subways.

That was a commitment that this government had made during the course of the past by-election. Now the member elected by the people in Scarborough, who heard the commitment for subways, is standing in her place, and it hasn’t taken her very long to become very political about this issue and to side with her government to try and convince her own constituents to settle for less than was promised. That’s a typical Liberal approach to government.

Speaker, we were hosted by the Lieutenant Governor and it was an opportunity for us to get together as some MPPs. The Premier was there, as were members from all parties. Although we were sworn to secrecy, the topic of the discussion was: How do we raise the level of debate in this place so that we could actually get some work done? It’s interesting, as I hear the debate here today, that there’s a reason why people are cynical about what goes on in this place.

It’s interesting, the member from Danforth stood in his place and read a very eloquent speech, and time and time again the member from Danforth urged us not to play politics with transit, and yet every other word that he said was, “It’s only the NDP that can bring transit,” and every word between that was how bad the Liberals are and how bad the Conservatives are. So this non-partisan speech that we had from the member from Danforth had nothing in it but politics.

Then we hear from the newly elected member—welcome to the chamber; glad to have you here—a former leader in the CivicAction coalition. We now hear from this newly minted member rhetoric that is so partisan that I cannot believe that they actually were written by the member herself. I would urge you to do this: Tell the speech writers to cut it out. You can write your own speeches—

Mr. Jonah Schein: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Davenport.

Mr. Jonah Schein: I just want to correct the record. The member from Danforth is not here. I’m the member from Davenport, and it was me who said the Tories and Liberals have a terrible record when it comes to transit.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. Continue.

Mr. Frank Klees: I would just urge the newly minted Liberal member to write her own speeches. Speak from the heart. That is what in fact will make things happen here.

Now, here’s what we want to achieve with this motion. We simply would like the government to once, just once, keep a promise. The promise that was made before the by-election and through the by-election was that they would build a subway in Scarborough and that they would do it in co-operation with the city of Toronto and the TTC. That was the commitment. Now that the election is by, what happens within a matter of days? The Minister of Transportation calls a press conference and announces his own plan.

Interjection.

Mr. Frank Klees: I just heard the member say that their plan is supported by the chair of the TTC.

Interjection.

Mr. Frank Klees: The chair of Metrolinx, ah. Well, the chair of Metrolinx has obviously been brought into the minister’s office and told to get in line, because Metrolinx’s initial response was that they too were surprised by the announcement that was made.

Interjections.

Mr. Frank Klees: Absolutely they were. That is exactly the case.

You see, Speaker, this is why we have problems here, because Metrolinx itself has now become a creature of the Ministry of Transportation rather than the body of planning that it should be, which is why we have—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Point of order.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, I’d like you to rule. I put on the record several times that Metrolinx actually briefed the city long before I made the announcement. I don’t think the member intentionally means to mislead the House by stating things he knows not to be true.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Excuse me. The member from Renfrew might want to get in his seat.

Secondly, thank you for your point and it’s well taken. However, if you have a problem, you know the rules. You can call for a late show if someone causes you a problem.

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Well, there you go.

That’s not a point of order.

Continue.

Mr. Frank Klees: Thank you. Speaker, that is not a point of order. The minister knows full well that even Metrolinx was surprised by his announcement and that the chair of the TTC is absolutely opposed to his imposed plan.

I would like to remind the Premier, I would like to remind the minister of a statement made by the Premier to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario just a few weeks ago. Here are her words to municipalities, and I assume that included the city of Toronto: “Decisions based on evidence, community input and collaboration are the best decisions.”

The Premier went on to say, “Today I will talk most about collaboration because it is a challenge, but evidence and community input inform my decision-making. I have maintained my focus on finding collaborative solutions.”

Well, Speaker, if that’s the case, then why does this government, why does this Minister of Transportation, insist on imposing a subway solution on the city of Toronto, on the TTC, that they absolutely oppose? Where is the collaboration that the Premier has promised the people of this province and the municipalities of this province? We’re here to say, “Yes, we need transit investment. Yes, we need a subway, but we need a subway that is committed to doing it right,” as the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore said. The last thing we need is to build more transit that creates more gridlock. If we’re not going subways, that’s exactly what we’re going to do: spend billions of dollars to increase the gridlock. Speaker, we have to do it right. That’s why we’re bringing this proposal forward.

1640

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Rosario Marchese: I will be supporting this motion; I wanted to say that. I will be giving a little bit of a history about what the government has done and what the city of Toronto has done, so as to get a sense of how paralyzed we have been for a long, long while. Then I was going to gently criticize the Conservatives, which I do from time to time—gently, because I know how sensitive, Speaker, through you, they are about those things. So I’ll try to be as delicate as I can without trying to offend too much.

But after hearing the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore, I wanted to reverse the order a little bit. I want to say that the motion speaks about spending a little more money on subways, and, to be fair to the Liberals, they said that they would spend $1.4 billion on subways and $300 million more to make repairs or adjustments to the Kennedy line. To be fair to them, I’m assuming that money would be coming, and I’m assuming the Tories are saying, “We’re going to have to spend more because we’re going to need to spend more”—and, by the way, they’re likely right in that regard. I think the Minister of Transportation knows that. So that part is supportable, in my view, because clearly the minister is saying, “We’re going to do subways.” The question is how we do it. The Tories are saying, “Well, let’s spend a little more,” and I’m saying you’re going to have to, one way or the other, spend a little more on this. It’s a given.

The other thing is, in the motion they talk about working with the city of Toronto, and they’re right. As I pointed out to the minister four times, you used to like consultations and having discussions, and all of a sudden you’ve decided—the Premier and the minister—to do this by fiat: no longer discussions or “conversations.” So we don’t hear that word anymore, and clearly the government has shifted away from “conversation” to actually being leaders, which is interesting and surprising. From one month to the next, you’ve changed the language, which is fascinating. It would seem to me that the Liberals would still like to have those conversations, but it appears that that is dead as an approach to issues.

And so the Tories have put in their motion, quite correctly, the idea of working with the city and the TTC. In my mind, with all the questions I asked the minister, that makes sense, because that’s what I asked for four days. You’ve got to work with the city and you’ve got to work with the TTC, because that’s where it all happens. That’s where the knowledge is, although the minister is saying, “No, it’s not there all of the time. It’s elsewhere as well. It’s in our ministry. We have the knowledge and we can do this alone.”

I just wanted to make an argument about why I think the motion is okay and why I can support it. It’s a mischievous motion, obviously; that’s clear. They were trying, in the wedge politics, to see if they could get the NDP not to support this motion. I understand that. It’s part of the game and I appreciate it. Liberals understand it as well. They were trying to wedge themselves with the Liberals somehow—and I don’t know whether they’re going to be supporting this or not. If they don’t support it, it’s brilliant; the Tories can go into Scarborough and say, “Liberals don’t support it,” although the Liberals can say, “Hold on a moment. We are, because we’re announcing $1.4 billion for subways.” The Liberals will say, “We’re the subway kings, not them, because we’re the ones with the money and we’re announcing $1.4 billion.” So they’re ahead of the Tories, they can argue. But you understand the game. Do you see the game? It’s brilliant. I see it so clearly and I understand why the motion is before us in the way that it is.

I listened to the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore. He’s an experienced politician, since 1982. It’s not as if being an MPP is something that we have to treat him gently with—because you’ve been around and you know the political—

Mr. John Yakabuski: Don’t get personal, Rosie.

Mr. Rosario Marchese: No, no, through you, Speaker—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Member from Renfrew, you’ve moved to four different chairs and now you’ve finally gone back home. You’re even louder than you were in the other four chairs. We’re getting down to the first warning soon.

Interjection: I can hear him really well.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you very much. I know you’d like to have an ongoing conversation with the member from Trinity–Spadina, but that’s not happening.

Continue.

Mr. Rosario Marchese: Thank you, Speaker. Very kind.

I just couldn’t help myself, as I listened to the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore giving us a little bit of history on the subways. There’s a line in the motion that says, “to recognize that world-class cities build subways.”

It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. And I agree, because I love subways. I do. Where it makes sense, we need to build them, and where it doesn’t make sense, we need to build something else. But I love subways. This is why we in the Rae government thought building subways was a good idea.

And what happened? That’s the question: What happened? Well, the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore said—I’ve got a few quotes here—in an article on July 22: “There was simply no money to do it.… We had bad Rae days. Remember that? We had to lay people off, people had to take unpaid time off work because we couldn’t balance the budget anywhere.”

Then I listened to what he said in the House. He said we should have been building each and every year. Mike Harris was there; he cancelled the subway. We spent $100 million to start the digging on Eglinton, and he cancelled it right away. But the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore said we should have been building each and every year, suggesting that, no matter what the economic times, we should have been doing that.

I don’t understand how he and the Conservatives can argue that we need to recognize that world-class cities build subways, but we couldn’t do that in 1990 and we can do that now. And he says that we can now because, “Over a period of time, this will pay for itself and it sets the standard that we want and the people in Scarborough want it. The Ford administration and I are supportive of that and so is Tim Hudak.”

So now we can build it because it will pay for itself over time, but in 1990 we couldn’t build it because, presumably, it couldn’t pay for itself over time. Do you follow the logic?

Here’s the other logic: We have a $12-billion deficit today. In 1994-95, it was 10 or 11 billion bucks—the same deficit. Although the Liberals have had it up to $20 billion and the world didn’t collapse, when the NDP was in power it was collapsing. Any day, the world was just about to collapse.

When the Tories came in, they faced a great economy. It started, in fact, in 1993-94. The deficit could have been destroyed, killed, in a matter of years, and there would still have been, I argue to the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore, plenty of money to build that subway that would have gone along Eglinton to the airport.

By the way, Fergy Brown was a happy supporter of that subway plan. He was a good Tory—I don’t know about a good Tory; he was a good Progressive Conservative Tory, a mayor. He liked the plan. He said, “Busting my buttons with pride” on the whole issue of subways. But the other mayor, the one who’s now here—the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore—didn’t like the idea. We just couldn’t afford it, didn’t have the money.

So the logic doesn’t hold. If the motion says we recognize that world-class cities build subways, it is a thing we should be doing all of the time, and we started that in 1993-94. We were ready. We were digging. And if we were digging, we would have had a subway going to the airport in the west and going to Scarborough in the east, as part of the second part of that plan. It would have been an amazing subway across the city, and it would have been paid for with little investment from the province.

1650

Because Harris decided not to build, he wasted $100 million to fill that hole, but built the Sheppard subway because Mayor Mel Lastman—I was told by the member from Beaches–East York, because he wanted to speak to this. He was telling me the story around how all that happened and how Mel landed his hand on that button that eventually gave us subways to Sheppard. But the idea was to build an Eglinton subway and not a subway to Sheppard. Because of Mel Lastman or because of Charles Harnick, who was the Attorney General of his government at that time, we got a Sheppard line that has few people going in and out of that line, and we buried Eglinton. That would have been an amazing subway to have had from one part of the city to the other.

Where are these good Tories when you need them? Where are they when you need them, which is not now—but when we needed them, where were they? They weren’t there. But the current leader of the Conservative Party was there at the time. He was there; he was part of the regime. Now to be fair to him, the Premiers make those decisions, not some new, young MPP, and Tim was—the current leader was a young man at the time; he had no power. I understand that. But he was a member of that government. I don’t blame him; I blame his government, made up by the Premier, because generally it’s the Premier that makes those decisions. Some ministers have some clout and some powers, but they generally don’t do much unless they get the nod of the principal secretary and/or the Premier of the time.

Mike Harris was no leader on this issue, so when the current leader of the opposition party mentions a long history of Tories and what they built and mentions in the same breath, unbelievably, Mike Harris, you say, did he get that wrong? Did he possibly forget? Why would he throw in Harris when he did nothing except destroy subways? So I can’t quite understand why he did that.

I wanted to spend a little time attacking the Conservative Party a little bit because I’m nervous about what they would do with subways. The member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore talks about priorities. What does that mean? Well, it means that they want subways and something else has got to go. So the question for the Tories is, in terms of the speakers that are just coming around in the next little round, what would your priorities be? Because in those priorities, you’ve got to drop something.

Would you drop a little bit of—would you drop health? Would you privatize a little more in the health care system, which is what you guys started, because you did it—imperceptibly, but you did it; incrementally and imperceptibly, but you did that.

Would you cut on education? Because you did that. Would you cut a little more there? Would you cut out on the social services, around which we have incredible deficits?

That’s what “priorities” means to me, and I could be wrong, member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore. When you have a chance, you or the others might explain what that means, because I fear it means cuts elsewhere in order to get this subway. And when you talk that way, it frightens me. And it just doesn’t frighten Marchese; it frightens a whole lot of people. It isn’t just in the city of Toronto, but it is beyond.

I wanted to quote the Conservatives in this way. I wanted to remind people that Mike Harris and that regime were no friend of subways, and I wanted to contradict the basic premise of this motion, that says, recognizing that “world-class cities build subways”—because that’s not their history. We’ve got to judge political parties on their history on these issues. If the history means anything, I don’t know how much you are committed to subways.

It’s a little reminder to all the good folks in Scarborough who might like the Conservatives when they talk about subways, because God forbid should they get in. Who knows what you’re going to get? You’ll be whacked for sure, but you won’t know how. You won’t know how.

So a little bit of that on that history, but I also wanted to talk a bit about the history of why we have problems around this issue. In 2008, the government introduced the Big Move; it’s a $50-billion Big Move idea. The idea is good. The Liberals have been in power since 2003 and we got little. But in 2008 they announced a big plan, a $50-billion plan. They never told us how they’re going to fund it—five years now; they haven’t told us anything—and today they announced another panel to give us advice about how we’re going to fund it, because we don’t know yet.

The board of trade put out some ideas, of course, and Metrolinx put out some ideas, but we need another plan, with a good Liberal as its head, to give us some ideas about what else we could propose by way of doing this, so it delays it a little more. This is all about delays: inaction, delays, confusion and chaos. Chaos I will get to when I speak about the minister and his plan, because my argument is that when you decide to do this by fiat, as you’ve done, you’ve created confusion and chaos and, in my mind, delay. It’s not intentional, but you will have created confusion, chaos and delays, and I want to speak to that.

So the Big Move plan 2008, $50 billion—we don’t have any clue how it’s all going to be found. They’ve committed at least $11.5 billion on this Big Move project, and even the money the government has committed has been delayed. As we remember, in 2010, the government delayed $4 billion in funding for Transit City, which got the former mayor, Mr. Miller, so angry at this government, and he was very close to the Liberals, dare I say. He worked very closely with all of you, in fact, and when he heard of that delay, he just went nuts. He just couldn’t believe that you would do that, and as the member from Davenport said, that’s where the button sprang up against the Liberals and that cut, which was a delay, really. But we called it a cut at the time, and delaying is just as bad as a cut. So they did that. The delay of the construction caused the delay of construction of light rails by five years or more, cutting out 26 stations and reducing the length of new transit lines by 20 kilometres, to 55 kilometres.

In 2010, the Liberal government cancelled the bus replacement program, meaning that municipalities across Ontario can no longer afford to replace aging buses, and for Toronto it meant a loss of $42 million, and it meant four painful, long years to replace buses that weren’t working very well and made buses unreliable, obviously, throughout the whole city of Toronto. When we talk about that particular plan and any other plan, it means that people like the folks from Scarborough, the residents, face rising transit increases, face frequent and overcrowded buses and a lack of progress on rapid transportation expansion. That’s what all these things mean.

In 2011, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Toronto that further reduced the length of the light rail lines by 25 kilometres, cancelling funding for the Finch West LRT and proposing an unfunded Sheppard subway. In November 2012, the province and the city signed a new memorandum of understanding for the four LRT lines: Eglinton, Scarborough, Finch West and Sheppard East. It was a serious contract that the government had with the city of Toronto, and that contract meant absolutely nothing once again, because in July 2013, Toronto council voted in favour of a Scarborough subway instead of the LRT from Kennedy station to Sheppard Avenue, dependent on the $1.8 billion from the province and contributions from the federal government and the city.

The point of that little history is that so many deals get signed, and they get ripped apart and new deals are signed, and then the city of Toronto decides that they want a subway, after they had signed the contract for LRTs all over the city. They say, “We want a subway,” and so you go back and forth. Decisions are made and decisions are changed, and what it means is a delay for rapid transit across the city that people desperately need. And then, on top of this, after the city says, “We want subways. By the way, we’re going to check with the federal government to see if we’re going to get the $600 million,” the province decides, through the minister, “We’re going to do this alone. The feds have put not one nickel. The city doesn’t want to put any money on the table. We’re going to do this alone.”

1700

Instead of waiting until the end of this month to find out what the feds would say about whether or not they’re going to put up some money, he decides to do this alone. How do you do that? He says, “This is fully funded.” It’s not fully funded. We have already wasted $85 million on the LRT—south; gone. There’s going to be additional costs that the city will have to pick up if the province decides to go and do this alone. There will be incredible costs that the city of Toronto will not be able to afford.

You can’t do this by fiat. You can’t do this on your own. This causes greater confusion, greater chaos and more delay. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know what the city’s going to do. They have a legal contract. The province is saying, “It doesn’t matter. We can do what we want. We’re not going to wait for the federal government to participate.” Do you understand?

Confusion, delays—and people need transit today. They don’t need it 20 years, 40 years from now. But in the meantime, this little motion, we’re going to support.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear: This is not complicated at all. First of all, this was not my plan. It was actually developed by Metrolinx with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Growth Secretariat. There’s something called the Big Move, which I think members would be—the line has not changed. We never asked for a line change. We didn’t ask city council to go on a fishing expedition and come up with a $3-billion plan with no money to pay for it.

There’s something called Places to Grow, which I’m sure the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore says—it says the transportation hub and the centre of transportation investment should be where? The Scarborough Town Centre. Why? Because millions of dollars of engineering and planning work said it should be so. Why are we building along this alignment? Because that’s the only value uplift where you can actually rezone and upzone an area to do it. That will create jobs. That will build the tax base. That will help us pay for transit. That’s how it works.

There is nothing in Places to Grow or the Big Move or anything in any of the agreements—the member for Trinity–Spadina, that line has never moved. That line has never moved. When people accuse this government of shifting the lines or having a new plan every week, that is completely false. We have stuck to the same plan. The only people who haven’t stuck to the plan are the city. They come up with a new plan all the time.

When we declared $1.4 billion without qualifying how we would spend it, the chair of the TTC said, “It’s dead on arrival.” Certain mayors from around the GTHA and across the province said, “Give me that deal. I won’t say it’s dead on arrival.” I had one mayor who said, “I’ll match ya.” The mayor of Kitchener-Waterloo—they’re matching. The feds are matching there. Ottawa: Mayor Watson’s matching one third, one third, one third.

Why are we paying 100% of the costs, Mr. Speaker? Because to the federal government and some of their friends at city hall, people in Scarborough are being treated like second-class citizens. Their provincial government is paying 100% of the costs because the feds won’t and the city hasn’t.

This administration—the TTC, my dear friend from Etobicoke–Lakeshore, has not put a penny in. You talk to the mayors who are laughing at you, because they’re saying, “Why don’t you pick up 100% of our costs?” Why don’t we pay for 100% of transit in Ottawa, Kitchener, Thunder Bay and Windsor? Because we’d go broke. Why are we doing it? Because your party, when it sees a 416 area code, can’t write a cheque. It can pass a motion. It can play politics. What do we mean by playing politics, Mr. Speaker? Their party opposite is playing politics. Playing politics is promising people you have no intention of fulfilling—you have no money.

Why do we have a 100% funded plan, Mr. Speaker? Why is our plan 100% funded? Because we’re the only people not playing politics. As a matter of fact, let me quote the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore: “Well, the problem we had when we came into power as Conservatives is the NDP had promised $3 billion worth of subway and there was no money to pay for it, so we cancelled the project.” Now we have the same member wanting the $3-billion project that his party won’t put any money into. His Conservative friends that he’s—“Aye, Captain”; “Aye, Whip”—won’t put a penny; not a penny; not 10 cents.

I can’t imagine, when I was mayor of Winnipeg, which you always make jokes about, ever going to a government without one third. My city council didn’t even think about talking to the federal or provincial government without one third. Only our friends at the city of Toronto can actually think that you can negotiate with no money in your pocket. It’s hysterically funny to every other mayor and council across Ontario.

But that is not going to deter us from standing up for the people of Scarborough and giving them the subway they want and deserve, because we’re the only party not playing politics with this and we’re the only party writing cheques.

Why was the poor city of Toronto not able to do this on its own? Because the party opposite downloaded health and social services. Again, when I was mayor of Winnipeg, Mayor Miller, Mayor Lastman and Mayor Chiarelli were dealing with the biggest downloading dump. It extinguished their capacity to pay for housing, to pay for transit. You destroyed municipal government, and you had the biggest downloading, when you sucked the life out of municipal governments—I saw it happen—while in Manitoba, they were uploading health and social services under Conservative and NDP governments. That was billions and billions of dollars of downloading that made it impossible.

You want Toronto to be a world-class city? Then stop downloading. You closed three hospitals in my constituency, and you took transit money away from kids on low income, so the dropout rate in Regent Park went there.

We are building a subway. Metrolinx and their engineering team say it’s highly technically feasible. We are going to commit that money, and if the federal or municipal government come up with any money for the first time—because we’ve been waiting for six months and can’t get a meeting with the federal government—we’ll add another station.

But mark my words, Mr. Speaker: I have no fear; the federal Conservatives and the municipal Conservatives will do nothing but move silly motions like this, and the one thing they’ll never do is write a cheque for the people of Scarborough. They’ll continue to treat them like second-class citizens.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? The member from Nipissing.

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Thank you very much, Speaker, for the opportunity to stand and address this motion brought forward today by the member for Etobicoke–Lakeshore. The premise is simple, really: It’s to get this government to keep their promise to the people of Scarborough.

But the implications are not to be understated. This is about making sure the proper infrastructure is in place to allow our province to grow and prosper again, and reducing gridlock in the GTA is one of those keys.

We’ve said over and over again, a long time before this government started counting votes in Scarborough this past summer: that world-class cities build subways. It’s something this government hasn’t believed and still doesn’t believe today. If they did, they wouldn’t be toying with the plan the people of Scarborough want and need to connect them properly to Toronto’s city core.

We wouldn’t need this motion if the government would simply honour the promise they made during the by-election campaign in July. They knew the cost of the subway plan going in, and knew that they had to step up to the table with $1.8 billion. In typical Liberal fashion, they’re now flip-flopping.

In fact, they’ve really given a brand new definition to the phrase “flip-flop.” They flipped their position on transit during the by-election campaign, in a bid to buy votes in Scarborough, and now that the by-election is over, they throw a curveball at the residents there that can only be described as a complete flop.

Once the campaign was over, this government decided it was going to unilaterally change the rules of the game. The Minister of Transportation, with much bluster and pomposity, told residents of Scarborough they weren’t getting what they were promised. It won’t be $1.8 billion; it will be $1.4 billion. You’ll get fewer stops, less service. In essence, you’ll get a piecemeal solution that is no solution at all.

Remember what he said: “I’m in charge here.”

This government simply can’t be trusted. That’s why we need this motion to pass in the House today. This government can’t be trusted to keep its word on anything.

What is their default reaction when they misuse taxpayer dollars and get themselves in trouble? It’s simple, Speaker. They raise your taxes. Ironically enough, through the Liberal gas plant scandal hearings, we uncovered a Ministry of Finance document that outlined almost 50 proposals for new or increased taxes and fees to hit Ontarians to pay for transit, but really it’s to pay for their misdeeds. The money is there. Their character, self-discipline and respect for the Ontario taxpayer, however, are not. They misspent Ontario tax dollars, and their response is, “Let’s hit them up for more.” Forget that skyrocketing hydro bills—thanks, in part, to the gas plant scandal—are bleeding away what little is left of the disposable income of Ontario families. In fact, the first of these fee increases hits Ontarians at the start of this month, when the Liberals announced they were increasing driver’s licence fees. It’s only the beginning, folks. They’ve got more coming.

1710

I can tell you, Speaker, that in my riding of Nipissing I sent out a questionnaire and got 600 responses back against these tax increases that the Liberals are planning; 222 of them were hand-delivered to my office. It was unbelievable traffic that came in. That’s how much northern Ontario is against the raising of taxes.

The mind-boggling thing is the audacity this government shows when it comes to expecting Ontario taxpayers to fund Liberal scandals and self-interest. A billion dollars for eHealth. What’s the response? To make you pay more. A billion dollars for Ornge. What’s their reaction? “Pay more.” So far, $585 million for gas plants in order to buy the 2011 election. Who’s paying for that? Ontario taxpayers and—when you get your hydro bill next month, you’ll know—Ontario ratepayers.

I wish I could stand here today and tell the residents of Scarborough that the Liberals haven’t done this sort of thing before, but unfortunately we all know that I can’t do that. In fact, there is a disgusting precedent from my own riding that I’d like to take a few minutes to share, that highlights that the Liberals will say and do anything to stay in power.

You see, back before the 2011 election, the Liberal government allowed a Quebec firm to come in and sweep up a refurbishment contract from Ontario Northland. The bids for the work were very, very close, but if the government had considered the net benefit to Ontario, the fact that there would be no further Ontario sales tax realized, Ontario Northland would have been the best option for Ontario taxpayers and not put the 109 jobs in jeopardy.

This was just the opening kickoff for the game of political football the Liberals have played with Ontario Northland over the past two-plus years. First, they announced a minor contract for Ontario Northland to try to soften the harsh criticism they received for not standing up for the north in the first place. Then, just before the election—stop me if you’ve heard this before—my Liberal predecessor announced a phony strategic alliance between the ONTC and Metrolinx in a bid to cynically win votes. Fortunately, people across northern Ontario saw right through their ruse.

So what happened to the strategic alliance that the Liberals announced during the election campaign? Less than six months later, this Liberal government, under a Premier who signed a—

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The minister has a point of order.

Hon. Jeff Leal: Thanks very much, Mr. Speaker. Although I can say I’m enjoying the remarks from the member from Nipissing, I just want to refer to standing order 23(b), which says:

“Directs his or her speech to matters other than,

“(i) the question under discussion; or

“(ii) a motion or amendment he or she intends to move; or

“(iii) a point of order.”

Mr. Speaker, I’m looking for your guidance. He is talking about a variety of things not related to the subway for Scarborough.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Your point is taken, and I would suggest that the member try to stick to the agenda, please.

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Thank you, Speaker. I will continue to talk about—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): You will stick to the agenda.

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Oh, I promise you I will. I’m going to continue to talk about rail services in Scarborough. I promise I will say “Scarborough” every once in a while. You have my absolute word that you will see how it ties in with the fact that we simply can’t trust what the Liberals are telling us, and the fact that we’ve seen this so close to home, especially to do with rail.

So I won’t tell you, then, about the strategic alliance, that it went nowhere and it was a phony announcement. I’ll have to skip over that. But you do know, Speaker, that Ontario Northland is now in the middle of a fire sale, not unlike the activity we’re seeing at Metrolinx.

The most sinister thing about all of this, Speaker, is a freedom-of-information for Ontario Northland documents for the 10 months leading up to 2011 that turned up 700 pages. How many of those pages do you think the Liberal government released? Eleven. Eleven heavily redacted pages out of 700 were released. I have to ask you, Speaker, what were they hiding? Well, I can tell you what they were hiding. They were hiding the fact that they’d been planning to sell Ontario Northland while they publicly said they weren’t. They said whatever they thought the voters in my riding might believe to buy their votes, and that’s how it ties in to Scarborough’s situation. They’ve said anything to the people of Scarborough, anything—

Hon. Jeff Leal: Point of order.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The Minister of Rural Affairs.

Hon. Jeff Leal: I do appreciate my colleague from Nipissing’s long, distinguished career in public life in Nipissing, but I’m just asking that we do observe the rules of debate, particularly 23(b). I ask for your guidance on this matter.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you, Minister. To the speaker, I’d ask you to just wrap it back up into the motion that’s in front of us.

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Thank you very much, Speaker. What I can say is that we cannot let the Scarborough subway be turned into the next political football for the Liberals. We cannot let that happen. That’s why I’ll be supporting this motion when it comes for a vote later today. We need to hold this government to account for the promises it makes and need to do that here in the House today.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti: I just wanted to point out in this debate that I understand the motion that’s being proposed today by the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore. I remember when in 1981—I was a university student—the last station on the Bloor-Danforth line opened. It was the Kennedy Road station. I used to walk to that station back in 1981, and that was the last station that Scarborough ever saw. We have three stations in all of Scarborough—Victoria Park, Warden and Kennedy, and it stops there. Afterwards, people have to get off the subway, get onto an RT and go up northward to get to the Town Centre.

The station at Kennedy is extremely congested, and I think the whole point of the government’s commitment now to the subway is to continue the subway past Kennedy, prevent the congestion that happens at Kennedy station, and bring the subway all the way to the Scarborough Town Centre.

It’s a significant move. I think all people in Scarborough and all people in Toronto will realize how important it is and how much common sense this makes. From day one, since I got elected in 1988 as a city councillor, I always fought for a subway. My residents have supported a subway—the majority of them have supported a subway—to continue from Kennedy station all the way north to the Town Centre, where there’s a significant amount of growth and a significant amount of development, and where there will be a significant amount of future growth. So it makes sense to continue the Bloor-Danforth line all the way to the Town Centre.

Don’t forget, Kennedy station is also important because that’s where the Eglinton cross-town LRT finishes. Kennedy station is going to be a pretty busy place. The last thing you want to do is have people getting off the Eglinton LRT or whatever and having to get on this other LRT and create a mess of a problem or congestion at Kennedy station.

So I support this government. I think this government has been pretty consistent. It wants to support the subway. The residents of Scarborough want the subway, and it’s incumbent upon all of us here in this Legislature to support the subway going to the Town Centre in Scarborough and that the Eglinton cross-town also be built.

The rest of this is left up to the engineers. We can’t say how things are going to be engineered and done properly, but at least we know—we have the commitment from the Premier herself—that we will get a subway, not an RT, going all the way to Scarborough Town Centre. I think it’s very important. I fully support the government’s proposal, and I do not support what the member is speaking about today. I think that we’ve got to get the subway going all the way up to the Scarborough Town Centre.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

1720

Mr. Steve Clark: I’m pleased to rise and join in the debate. Before I do speak for a few moments, as an eastern Ontarian and as someone who has a riding that abuts the city of Ottawa, I would like to, on behalf of the residents of Leeds–Grenville and my family, express our deepest sympathies and condolences to those who lost their lives today in Ottawa in that horrific OC Transpo bus/Via Rail train collision. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones today.

I want to say a few words about our newest member of the Ontario PC caucus, Doug Holyday, the member for Etobicoke–Lakeshore. As the municipal affairs and housing critic for our party, I found his speech very informative. I think his experience on this file really showed during his speech today. I know that we’re going to give him a couple of moments at the very end of this debate to again put some comments on the record, because I believe quite strongly that what he said certainly changed my approach in the debate today, and I’m going to take a similar approach that he had and that the member from Newmarket–Aurora had when we talk about this issue.

Accountability, I think, in government and in politics, is something that is very important. I know that our constituents are very cynical on how we operate sometimes. So I think it’s very important that if we’re going to make a promise, as the government did during an election, that they make good on that promise and that they don’t modify that promise within a month of being in office.

I appreciate the honesty and the experience that the member for Etobicoke–Lakeshore has. I know he’s a former mayor. I’m a former mayor, and in fact, in my service, I had all three political parties take the reins of this province and I had both the Liberals and the Conservatives federally take the reins during my nine years in office. So I think I speak with a little experience about how different political parties deal with municipal governments. He speaks as a partner, as someone who, over the years, was looking for someone to work together on making this happen. I don’t think it’s particularly constructive for the government to make one announcement during an election and then change their minds.

I do want to congratulate the member from Scarborough–Guildwood on her election. I read with interest some comments that Councillor Doug Ford made about her in the Toronto Sun, where he talked about her being pro-LRT, being on the record with CivicAction as very pro-LRT, being hand-picked to be on the committee. I’m not going to use some of his words, because I can’t say indirectly through a quote what I can’t say directly in this House. But I think if people go back to that Toronto Sun story, they’ll see Councillor Ford’s comments and really understand where he was coming from when it comes to the member for Scarborough–Guildwood.

With that, I want to cut my remarks short today, because again, I believe the member for Etobicoke–Lakeshore really knows the value of a dollar. Certainly his experience in municipal politics—you always know where you stand when it comes to Doug Holyday. He’s a breath of fresh air to me, as a relatively new member, someone who’s been in this House for about three and a half years, and I look forward to working with him on issues in this caucus.

So with that, Speaker, I just want to say that as the critic, I support the motion. I’m disturbed by some of the comments that the minister had made and some others have made about being partisan. We need to fix this issue and we need to work together as partners. I think MPP Holyday, speaking on behalf of the residents of Etobicoke–Lakeshore, is on the right track. Thank you for giving me this chance.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Hon. Brad Duguid: I’m delighted to rise today. I speak today on behalf of the community in which I’ve lived almost my entire life. I speak today on behalf of the people of Scarborough Centre, who I’ve had the privilege and the honour to represent for close to 20 years, at both the municipal and provincial levels. I speak today with one voice with my Scarborough colleagues here today, as we all passionately have fought for this subway to Scarborough.

Most importantly, I speak today as a Scarborough resident who has been fighting for a subway for our city centre for close to 20 years in office, but long before that. So I think I can say with some authority, on behalf of my colleagues here today, in unison with my colleagues here today—and I think I can say with authority, on behalf of the people of Scarborough, to all politicians, regardless of their political stripe, regardless of the level of government they happen to be at, to stop playing politics with this very crucial, important infrastructure project. This is one of the most important infrastructure projects that we’re going to see in Scarborough, in Toronto, in the GTA and in Ontario. It’s absolutely critical that we move forward with this, and I’m proud, as my colleagues on this side of the House are, that our Premier, Kathleen Wynne, has stepped up to build this subway to Scarborough City Centre with a $1.4-billion investment. Scarborough residents have cause to celebrate. After 30 years of waiting, we’re finally going to get our subway. That’s great news for our community. That’s great news for our city.

It’s important that we do this, because Scarborough City Centre is one of the fastest-growing city centres in Canada. It’s important that we do this because one of the things that has hampered the growth and diminished the growth somewhat in the Scarborough City Centre is the fact that it didn’t have a direct connection to the subway. So this is really important for Scarborough, and it’s important for our economy in Ontario and certainly important for jobs in our community.

I want to thank all my colleagues here today from Scarborough for the recognition they have of how important this project is, but I also want to thank the local representatives, many of whom get this as well. I want to thank Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who is with us on this. I want to thank Councillor Michael Thompson, who is with us on this. I want to thank Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, who is also fighting hard for this subway line in Scarborough. We’re working together on this because we’re the people who live there. We’re the people who represent the people of Scarborough. We know this is critical, and we all ask all members from all parties—enough is enough. Look, if you’re a subway supporter, support this subway. Let’s work together to build it. If you have ideas as to how you can improve it, we’re all ears. Bring a little money to the table and encourage the other parties to bring some money to the table. Our Conservative friends can go to the Prime Minister. He came to Toronto not too long ago, and he spoke out and said he prefers the subway routes, but he brought no money. He didn’t open his wallet to provide us with some help to be able to get it built.

So far, we’re on our own, and we’re doing something pretty extraordinary. We’re building the subway to the Scarborough City Centre on our own, but we welcome help from other levels of government, both municipally and federally, and we’ll work with them if there are enhancements they want to see to the line. The minister was very, very clear about it. And, frankly, we want to work with the folks on the other side of this place as well. You know what? This isn’t about us. This isn’t about the next election. This isn’t about the next mayoral election. This is about the people of Scarborough getting something that they deserve, something they have been fighting for, we have been fighting for, for close to 30 years. We deserve that respect.

I want to tell you, we were heavily offended today in question period when the Leader of the Opposition committed a slur against the people of Scarborough by calling Scarborough “Scarberia.” That’s a lack of respect. Now, he can make up for that by, number one, apologizing for that slur, and number two, he can make up for that by recognizing that his political interests are less important than the interests of the people of Scarborough.

Let’s work together on this. Let’s build this subway line. Let’s get it done for the people we represent in Scarborough. God knows, 30 years of waiting is long enough. The people of Scarborough deserve this line, and this government is determined to build it. We’d like to have your help doing that, but we’re going to build it with or without your help.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Bas Balkissoon: I rise to speak on behalf of all the residents in Scarborough and especially those who live in my riding of Scarborough–Rouge River.

I read the motion. My good friend from Etobicoke–Lakeshore has been caught up by being a new member here, and I hope he’ll realize that shortly. He basically says in his motion that this government voted against subways. I can tell you that I voted against that motion last year, because it was not a motion about subways; it was a political game to divide. Today, again, they’ve got another political motion to divide, and it’s their own gamesmanship.

1730

I’m sorry to say that I will not fall for that gamesmanship. I’ve always been a supporter of subways; I’ve never wavered. In fact, my colleagues and I from Scarborough had a meeting before, a private meeting. We wrote the Premier of the day a letter that we all supported subways to Scarborough and were not in support of this Transit City LRT. I make that public today, because we did that.

But do you know what offended me today? The Leader of the Opposition standing up in this House and criticizing the members from Scarborough. He called us field mice. I want that leader to know that this field mouse has never been a field mouse in the way he sees it. I came here to represent my residents. I supported subways; I let the Premier know it. But I have a Premier who listens. I have a Premier who is accessible. I have a Premier I can discuss my concerns with. I do not have to write emails and leak them to the press.

The member from Newmarket–Aurora mentioned that we had a meeting with the Lieutenant Governor. The whole idea was to get to know each other, and to try to raise the debate and respect each other. Then, the Leader of the Opposition stands up today and recognizes the area I live in as “Scarberia.” I’ve lived there for 37 years. I’m a new immigrant to this country. I am proud of Scarborough. I’m more proud that I got elected in Scarborough, and I’m even prouder that I got elected to this Legislature to represent Scarborough.

It’s language like that and the smirk he had on his face that irritate me to no end. I very rarely stand up in this House and make comments like that, but that is a degrading comment, and I hope the Leader of the Opposition, who believes he should represent all of Ontario, will recognize the big mistake he made today, because the people of Scarborough are not going to take this very lightly.

I am so emotional about this that it’s annoying. I could tell you the 25-year history of my political time about the Scarborough subway. The Scarborough subway was always meant to go to Scarborough Town Centre. Town Centre has a bus terminal, Town Centre has a GO Transit terminal, and if you do not take the subway to Town Centre, you will have to mothball all this infrastructure.

The Minister of Transportation is correct: Why would you build a Scarborough subway that goes to McCowan Road when all the buses go to Town Centre, so the people who go to Town Centre have to walk to McCowan Road to get on the subway? That’s real planning. I look across the aisle, and I’m sure that many of the members there have obviously never been to Scarborough, especially where the bus terminal is—especially where the SRT ends.

Do you know something that’s more irritating? It was that party that gave Scarborough an SRT that has never worked properly from day one, and they have never stepped up to the plate to put in more money to fix it. This government is now going to fix it, and we are very proud of it, as people from Scarborough.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: I am very proud to be the MPP for Pickering–Scarborough East. When I thought about running to be an MPP in this Legislature, one of the things—actually, the main reason I decided to run was because it was an opportunity to represent the community I was born and raised in.

I was born and raised in Scarborough. I do a lot of living in Pickering—a lot of people from Pickering do a lot of living in Scarborough—and it’s just a huge honour to be able to represent a community that you’re from. I know first-hand about the needs for better transit in Scarborough.

I also want to say that better transit in Scarborough is not just for Scarborough; better transit in Scarborough is for other regions. It’s for Durham region; it’s for York region. It is very important that we get on with it. And while people have different opinions about subways or LRTs, at the end of the day, I can tell you, everyone in my constituency in Scarborough East says we need to get on with it.

Our government has decided to get on with it. Our government has put the cheque on the table, Speaker, and that’s what my residents are talking about. There may not be full consensus on the technology, but if there is a bias, I would say it’s toward Scarborough—I’ve listened to people in town halls; I’ve listened to people in coffee chats. People like the technology of subways; they like the longevity of it.

It’s not just for us today; it’s for our children and our grandchildren. Subways are expensive to build, but they are what leading-class cities have. And that’s what Scarborough deserves.

Speaker, I was just incredibly offended this morning by the leader of the PC Party when he disparaged Scarborough, calling it Scarberia. We all enjoy a laugh in the Legislature from time to time. That was no laugh. That was very disrespectful. And to call members from Scarborough field mice was also very disrespectful. I’ve never actually heard that kind of disrespectful language since I’ve been elected, and it’s very disappointing. It’s a dark day for me here in the Ontario Legislature.

Our government stepped up. We’ve put money on the table. We’re getting on with transit. If the federal government wants to put money on the table, as the Minister of Transportation said, they can write a cheque; more stops can be built. If the city of Toronto wants to put more money on the table, that’s great. It hasn’t happened yet. We need to get on with it.

I support our government. I can’t support this motion that has been brought forward by the PCs. And I’m deeply disappointed and offended by what was said today about the people of Scarborough and the MPPs who were elected by the people of Scarborough.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Ms. Soo Wong: I’m pleased to be given an opportunity this afternoon to participate in the debate.

Let me begin my remarks about my greatest disappointment this morning: hearing the Leader of the Opposition criticizing the people of Scarborough. Let me be very, very clear. Not once but twice, the opposition leader used slur remarks about Scarborough; and also, let me be very, very clear, called the members for Scarborough field mice. I want to remind every member of this House that we represent a very diverse Ontario. I represent one Ontario, one Scarborough. To be called, to be named, field mice is totally disrespectful and, more importantly, derogatory. I want to know: Will the Leader of the Opposition be apologizing to the members for Scarborough?

We’re here today to debate a very important issue to my riding of Scarborough–Agincourt but, more importantly, to all the residents of Scarborough. The new member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore brought before the House today the motion supporting subways and asking the government to be collaborating with city council. Let me remind the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore that on July 17, 2013, when he was still deputy mayor, he voted with council in support of the Scarborough subway. Subsequently, the next day, on July 18, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, along with the members from Scarborough, all six of us—five of us, I should say—participated in an announcement of $1.4 billion for the Scarborough subway. Listening to Scarborough and listening to Toronto council: This is where the minister, we, the Scarborough MPPs, along with the Premier and our government, are supporting the $1.4-billion transit.

But more importantly, let me be very, very clear: The member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore, in his track record dating back when he was the mayor of Etobicoke—and I’m going to quote, Mr. Speaker, just to be on record. I’m quoting from back on July 23, 1995: “‘There is a time when we will want to see the subway go all the way to the airport,’ he said. ‘The money isn’t available now but it will be built sometime down the road,’ he added.”

I don’t know when “sometime down the road” is, but the people of Scarborough and the people of Toronto and Toronto council, where the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore came from, have supported a Scarborough subway. To criticize our government for not supporting Scarborough is untruthful.

1740

The other piece is—I also want to remind—

Mr. John Yakabuski: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): That’s one way to announce your arrival. Point of order.

Mr. John Yakabuski: She just accused my colleague of being untruthful. I believe that under the standing orders, that is out of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Scarborough–Agincourt will withdraw the comment.

Ms. Soo Wong: I will withdraw—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. Continue.

Ms. Soo Wong: Let me remind everybody in the House that I totally agree with the member from Newmarket–Aurora’s and the member from Leeds–Grenville’s earlier statements saying that we need to be less partisan in our statements, but as I conclude my remarks, I want to remind every member of this House that we represent one Ontario, and one Ontario means diversity. The remark this morning from the opposition leader is disrespectful and derogatory to every resident and member of Scarborough.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Mike Colle: This is an amazing opportunity. This is so rich. The party that cancelled subways, starved public transit for nine years—if you look through Hansard, Mr. Speaker, for nine years—

Interjections.

Mr. Mike Colle: Look through Hansard, Mr. Speaker, and you will see that the word “transit” was never mentioned by that party when they were in power. They never even mentioned the word “transit” in nine years. They starved GO. They starved the TTC. They cancelled not only the Eglinton subway whereby they ripped up Eglinton Avenue—for three years we had to dig the holes and move the sewer line. Then they came back, as soon as they got elected, and without any consultation Mike Harris made the order, “We’re cancelling subways. We can’t afford them.”

Interjection.

Mr. Mike Colle: What happened is, we told them, “Why don’t you at least mothball it, just in case in the future you may have a change of mind?” He says, “No, we’ll never build it.” They filled it in with cement so we couldn’t build it again. All that work that was done was wasted. The three years of digging was wasted because they cancelled the contracts. Talk about the gas plants. What was the cost of cancelling all those contracts? Then they cancelled not only the Eglinton line, but they cancelled the extension of the Bloor-Danforth line to Etobicoke, to Sherway. That was gone. That was cancelled. The extension of the University line was supposed to go up to York University—cancelled, dead.

Nine years and not one cent was there for transit. They let the transit system fall into disrepair. When the new government came, we had to give the city of Toronto hundreds of millions every year for a state of good repair, to fix the system they abandoned for nine years. We had to buy new subway cars because they let the old subway cars fall into disrepair, because they would never mention the word “transit” ever. They had no interest. They had basically the same interest they had in everything else they did.

It’s kind of rich. Before you know it, these guys are going to say, “We’re the hospital builders.” They closed 30 hospitals. They’re going to say that they uploaded; they downloaded everything on municipalities. They’re going to talk about the fact that they’re the environmentalists; they cut environment by 70%. They’re going to say they’re the supporters of public education; they stripped public education. They are trying to reinvent history, but the people of Scarborough, the people of Toronto and the people of Ontario will not forget what they did for nine years where they decimated public services, and the most decimation came in public transit, where they wouldn’t even put it in a state of good repair. They basically walked away, and then they ended up building half a subway, but they stopped the Sheppard subway halfway. At the Bessarion subway station, they haven’t spotted a rider there in four years.

Interjections.

Mr. Mike Colle: They cut it in half. It was supposed to go to Scarborough City Centre. They cut that subway in half. These guys—how can you believe them? Just look at their record. It’s shameful: a record of shame, a record of neglect, a record of cutting, a record of basically walking away from their responsibilities. Now they say they want to build subways?

I just want to finish by quoting George Costanza. You know George Costanza? Do you know what George Costanza said in a famous Seinfeld episode? He said, “It’s not a lie if you believe” the lie. That’s what George Costanza said.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. John Yakabuski: Point of order.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Sit down, please. Take your seats, please.

Point of order: the member from Renfrew.

Mr. John Yakabuski: As is very clear in the standing orders, you cannot say indirectly what you could not say directly. I would expect that the member from Eglinton–Lawrence would be asked to withdraw that comment.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Point of order taken. It’s not a point of order.

Further debate?

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: Mr. Speaker, it never ceases to amaze me, but there are people here who want to rewrite history. I thought I’d heard it all, but the fact is that from 1984 to 1995 there was a Liberal coalition with the NDP, a Liberal government, and then an NDP government, and they spent so much money that the government was going bankrupt. Bob Rae had to instill Rae days—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Stop the clock. Are we all finished now? I hope so, because you won’t like the result.

Continue.

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: They had to instill Rae days because the government couldn’t pay its bills. Now, Rae days were very disruptive to a lot of people. A lot of families had their lives redirected as a result of that. I know that in the city of Etobicoke we had to retire people early, we had to make them take time off without pay, and that happened throughout the province.

That drastic step only happened because the government didn’t have the money to pay its bills, let alone build three subways. So when Mike Harris came to power and the Conservatives came in 1995, one subway had been started, but they never had the money to finish it. They never had the money to do anything, but they agreed that they would find the money to build one subway, and then let Metro Toronto council decide which one that was going to be. I was on that council, and the council picked Sheppard, and so, to the point they could fund it, they built Sheppard.

As far as mothballing Eglinton, there was no way you could mothball it. It’s a hole in the ground. If you didn’t fill it in properly, people would have been falling in there, the road would have been collapsing; everything would have been going wrong down there, so they did the only thing that they could do with any reason at all.

I’m glad to see that the Liberals are now taking their transportation advice from the transportation expert from Winnipeg, but I am taking my advice from the TTC and the CEO of the TTC, who has more transit expertise than the whole Liberal cabinet and backbench combined. We were told by the TTC that building the route that they were recommending, that council supported, would add five million more riders to the system—five million.

These are Scarborough people. These are people that would be picked up on that route, that wouldn’t be picked up on another route. Also, we were told that, by building that route, you would avoid having the shuttle buses because you could leave the existing LRT up until the subway was built. Instead of losing riders—who you would have lost if you had the shuttle buses, because it was so inconvenient some people wouldn’t take it—you would actually have a net gain of five million riders by building that other route. If that doesn’t make sense to you people over there, I don’t know what will.

It’s just unfortunate that you are so political with this. You should be doing what’s best for the citizens of Scarborough and best for the citizens of Toronto, and that is building a line recommended by the TTC and Toronto council. To do any less is really unrealistic and irresponsible.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Mr. Holyday has moved opposition day number 1. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour, please say “aye.”

All those opposed will say “nay.”

I believe the nays have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1751 to 1801.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Members, take your seats.

Mr. Holyday has moved opposition day number 1. All those in favour of the motion will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Campbell, Sarah
  • Chudleigh, Ted
  • Clark, Steve
  • Dunlop, Garfield
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Holyday, Douglas C.
  • Hudak, Tim
  • Jackson, Rod
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Klees, Frank
  • Leone, Rob
  • MacLaren, Jack
  • Marchese, Rosario
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McKenna, Jane
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norm
  • Milligan, Rob E.
  • Munro, Julia
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • O’Toole, John
  • Ouellette, Jerry J.
  • Prue, Michael
  • Schein, Jonah
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Shurman, Peter
  • Smith, Todd
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): All those opposed to the motion will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Albanese, Laura
  • Balkissoon, Bas
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Cansfield, Donna H.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Del Duca, Steven
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dickson, Joe
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Fraser, John
  • Gerretsen, John
  • Gravelle, Michael
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Jeffrey, Linda
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • McNeely, Phil
  • Meilleur, Madeleine
  • Milloy, John
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Piruzza, Teresa
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Sergio, Mario
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Wong, Soo
  • Wynne, Kathleen O.
  • Zimmer, David

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 41; the nays are 43.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I declare the motion lost.

Motion negatived.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): It being 6 o’clock, this House stands adjourned until 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1805.