L061 - Mon 23 Sep 2013 / Lun 23 sep 2013

The House met at 1030.

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

Prayers.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Mr. Todd Smith: It’s a pleasure to welcome a number of members from the Council of Ontario Construction Associations: Harold Lindstrom, Gary van Bolderen, Ron Johnson, Gordon Sproule, Sandra Skivsky, Roger Hubbard, Doug Duke and Ian Cunningham.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): On behalf of the member from Mississauga–Brampton South and page Aly Muhammad Mithani, mother Nadia Mithani and father Amin Mithani are guests in the gallery. We welcome them on behalf of the member from Mississauga–Brampton South.

LEGISLATIVE INTERNS

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I would like to introduce you to some special guests in the Speaker’s gallery. It’s this crop of interns that are coming here to choose which members are going to be employing them: Emily Barrette, Jessica Behnke, Lauren Millar, Mitchell Davidson, Aaron Denhartog, Amanda Garofalo, Douglas Wong, Melinda Munding, Taylor Lew and Vanessa Dupuis, and of course, OLIP director Henry Jacek.

Thank you for joining us today. We wish all the interns all the luck in the world. Someday maybe the Speaker can get an intern—I don’t know. Who knows? We’ll talk about it.

Also in the gallery is my son Joe. We’re glad you’re here today, Joe.

He’s got my wife’s looks, not mine.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I beat you to the punch, didn’t I?

It is now time for question period. The leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.

Applause.

Mr. Tim Hudak: Thanks. I appreciate that. Thank you. Thank you very much. You’re very kind.

Interjection.

Mr. Tim Hudak: Thanks. Good to see you, man.

Well, thank you very much. I guess you had a good weekend, too. I think we had a good weekend. It worked out all right.

ORAL QUESTIONS

GOVERNMENT’S AGENDA

Mr. Tim Hudak: I’m not going to let them take my time, Speaker. My question is for the Premier: Premier, we believe it’s time to clear the decks and get on with the big issues in the province. That’s to create jobs, grow our economy and get government spending within our means.

We have a motion on bills that you and I talked about to clear them out of the way so we can focus on the big issues. If we do that, what bill are you bringing forward tomorrow to help create jobs in the province of Ontario?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I am very pleased that the Leader of the Opposition has seen that it is possible for us to find some common ground to actually move forward on some legislation that we both agree on. I’m very, very pleased, and I commend him for putting forward the motion. It’s very detailed. I know the House leaders are going to be talking about it.

I will suggest that some of the legislation, like the waste reduction legislation, is exactly the kind of economic, job-creating legislation that we need to work on together.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: No, I think our concern is you’re going to actually kill jobs and reduce innovation in our economy with that legislation, but nonetheless, here’s the point: These bills are prepared to move through the Legislature with alacrity because we need to focus on jobs and the economy.

Premier, you’ve made the case that your priorities for the legislative agenda are when teens can access tanning beds and rules around water heater salesmen. We support those bills—let’s get them through—but then you say—well, what is left of your legislative agenda? It has been nine months of endless conversations and endless consultations.

I ask you a direct question. If we clear this stuff aside, if we open up the session, give me one bill that you’re bringing forward tomorrow to actually get spending within its means or to create jobs. Where’s the agenda?

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I’m not sure, actually, whether it’s today or tomorrow, but the piece of legislation we’re going to be bringing forward, as it happens, is to increase the employer health tax exemption. In fact, what that piece of legislation would mean is that the exemption would be increased from $400,000 to $450,000 starting January 1, 2014. This would have a positive impact and in fact would allow more than 60,000 employers across Ontario to have that break, including 12,000 that would no longer pay the EHT. That provides space, allows them to hire more people. That’s a job-creating piece of legislation. I hope we’ll have their support.

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

Mr. Tim Hudak: It’s interesting. After nine months—you went on a hand-holding exercise across the province, lots of consultations, but Premier, it’s time to get on with the job and it’s time for action. It’s time to focus on the big issues.

You’ve made the case throughout the summer that your top priorities were tanning-bed legislation and legislation around water heater salesmen. We think it’s time to move those aside and focus on the big issues.

We have a bill right now sitting in committee for an across-the-board wage freeze to make sure government spends within its means. We have a bill to get energy rates under control by stopping the wind turbines across the province of Ontario. We have a bill to get rid of the College of Trades so young people can actually get a good job in the trades.

If your cupboard is bare, will you move forward with our agenda and actually put people back to work, businesses back to creating jobs and our books back in balance in this great province of Ontario?

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: While I appreciate the Leader of the Opposition’s new-found willingness to work with us on some pieces of legislation, what I need to say is that I don’t think that protecting young people from getting cancer or protecting consumers are trivial things. I think those are very important.

At the same time, we are taking action. There is a reverse trade mission happening right this morning, a global trade forum, where people from around the globe are here looking at Ontario. We’re making connections between those businesses, and those relationships are going to create jobs.

I understand that the opposition doesn’t value relationships. I would suggest that the fact that we’ve been able to have conversations over the last few months means that we’re actually going to be able to move some legislation through. It’s working.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The shouting is going to stop, and I’ll stop it as quickly as I possibly can if I have to do it.

New question.

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ORDER OF BUSINESS

Mr. Jim Wilson: My question is also for the Premier. You’ve had nine months as Premier of this province. You presented my leader, Tim Hudak, two weeks ago with a list of six government bills that you wanted to see through the House, and three private members’ bills from our side. We’re agreeing with you today through a programming motion.

I should add that 90% of those bills aren’t of your making; they’re left over from Dalton McGuinty’s government. They’re housekeeping bills. They do nothing to help the over 500,000 women and men who woke up this morning without a job.

So let’s not have any more conversations, because that could go on for days. Let’s get your commitment now to support our programming motion, clear the decks and get on with talking about jobs and the economy.

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I’ve already said I think it’s a very good thing. The very reason that I presented that list of bills to the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, was to say, “Let’s get on with these pieces of legislation,” because there is a lot more work to do—things like getting the Waste Reduction Act passed, things like getting the employer health tax exemption passed.

My hope is that if we can act on these bills that I presented to the Leader of the Opposition, then maybe on some of these other things we can get some co-operation, too, because I agree with the Leader of the Opposition: We do need to create jobs. We are creating jobs. That’s what the global trade forum is about this morning. That’s what legislation that we’re introducing into this House is about. I look forward to their support.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jim Wilson: Premier, in spite of telling the media and the public that you’ve been trying to work with us and then blaming us for holding up the legislative agenda, nothing could be further from the truth. The only programming motion that you brought forward was in cahoots with the NDP. We were cut out of that—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order. I expect the same on all sides.

Please finish.

Mr. Jim Wilson: You’ve never had a conversation with us about speeding up the legislative agenda and getting on to talking about jobs and the economy—never—so we took the initiative today to do it for you.

So just say yes. Let’s move forward; no more conversations. There are no tricks in the motion. It has been approved by the Clerks. Just say yes, Premier.

Interjections.

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

Be seated, please. Be seated, please.

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I look forward to the House leaders talking about the programming motion. I think it’s a step in the right direction.

No matter what the member of the opposition says, the fact is that we have found a way, because I have had a number of conversations with the Leader of the Opposition, because I’ve presented the notion that somehow there might be a way of moving through some of these pieces of legislation where there was agreement.

If they need to take credit for that, Mr. Speaker, so be it. The fact is, we’re going to move these pieces of legislation through, and I’m very pleased that the Leader of the Opposition has taken me up on my offer.

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

Mr. Jim Wilson: Premier, the only ones showing leadership around here are Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party.

I’m going to ask, on behalf of my leader and caucus, this afternoon for unanimous consent, so if you can’t make up your mind now, you’ve got two hours and a half. We hope that we will get unanimous consent to introduce that motion. If we don’t get unanimous consent, then we hope, by the end of the day, that your government House leader will introduce the programming motion, that we clear the decks and we get on with talking about jobs and the economy and start working for the people of Ontario and the unemployed of Ontario. They deserve nothing less.

Interjections.

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

Be seated, please. Be seated, please. Thank you.

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, this is a very positive development. I know the House leaders are going to have this conversation. It’s exactly what I think needs to happen. There needs to be a coming together on some of these things that are important. Make no mistake: The members of the opposition can diminish these pieces of legislation, but protecting young people from cancer and protecting consumers against fraud are very, very important initiatives.

I hope that, given this exchange, we will see that the opposition will work with us on things like the employer health tax exemption, which is a direct job creator, and I look forward to their support.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Premier. Can the Premier tell us what her priorities are for the legislative session?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I think the leader of the third party knows that we are right now in the throes of implementing many of the priorities that we put forward in the budget. We identified priorities, and we worked with the leader of the third party and with the third party to make sure that we put those pieces in place. We had already identified investment in home care. We had already identified investment in infrastructure. That is the kind of strategy—investment in people, investment in infrastructure and investment in and support of businesses—that will create jobs.

That’s what the global trade forum is about this morning: connecting our businesses with businesses overseas, expanding our export capacity and creating jobs here in Ontario. That’s our priority, and that’s what we’re working on.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Families have made it clear to us that they want to see results that create jobs, that improve health care and make everyday life more affordable for them. We want to deliver those results for them.

This morning, the Conservatives put forward their priorities for the session, including a bill that will help one single company out of their obligations to their employees. Now, it’s clear that their priority is delivering results for EllisDon. Can the Premier tell us what her priority is?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I just want to say to the leader of the third party that I think she knows full well that our priority on this side of the House is creating jobs and helping people in their day-to-day lives. We have been very clear about that since before we introduced the budget, and we continue to focus on that strategy: investment in people, investment in infrastructure, and support and investment in the businesses that are going to create those jobs, the small and medium enterprises particularly, which is where the job creation is happening.

On the piece of legislation that the leader of the third party is talking about, there is a situation that arose in the 1950s, Mr. Speaker. It is an anomalous situation, and it’s something that we believe needs to be addressed.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The people who make Ontario work every day sent us here to work hard for them, not for well-connected Liberal and Tory lobbyists who are working overtime to get legislation passed that will help exactly one single company. They have a pretty simple question for their Premier: Is her priority delivering results for them or working with the Conservatives to deliver results for EllisDon?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Again, I think the leader of the third party knows full well that it is my responsibility, my intention and my objective to deliver results for the people of Ontario across this province, and that means we are working with labour and we are working with business. It means that driving a wedge between labour and business, and somehow suggesting that to work with business in any capacity somehow does not work in the best interests of people in the province—that’s just not the case.

Businesses create jobs. Jobs are what people in this province need, so we’re going to continue to work with business and the labour sector in partnership so that we can create the jobs the people around this province—all over the province—need.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also for the Premier. People are looking for results that help them, not just well-connected insiders. Hector lives in Brampton, and like many drivers, he’s tired of paying some of the highest auto insurance premiums in Canada. He’s retired. He hasn’t had a claim in 15 years. He hasn’t bought a new car, but this year he saw his insurance go from $1,350 to $1,700. That’s more than a 20% increase. What does the Premier have to say to drivers like Hector who are seeing their premiums go up rather than down?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I would say to Hector, and I would say to people in constituencies around the province, that over a year ago, I identified auto insurance as an issue, something that needed to be addressed. I held a round table in my own riding. I had experts come, and we talked about the issues of geography associated with auto insurance rates. I talked about it during my leadership. It is included in our budget, and we are tackling that change. We know that auto insurance rates need to come down, and we need to take costs out of the system in order for that to happen.

The leader of the third party suggests that somehow that can happen overnight, that those changes can be immediate. That is just not the case. We are working with the industry. The leader of the third party knows that our target is a 15% reduction, and we will make that happen.

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The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Avtar also lives in Brampton. This year, he watched as his premiums increased by nearly $400, up to $4,400 a year. That’s an increase of 10%. Avtar doesn’t have any new claims, and he’s driving the same car this year as he was driving last year.

At the same time as the Premier is helping insurance companies maintain generous guaranteed profits, she’s leaving drivers like Avtar paying more. Is the Premier going to make sure that drivers like Avtar actually see some relief?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: We have made a commitment that we are targeting a 15% reduction—average reduction—across the province, Mr. Speaker. Again, I think the leader of the third party knows that it is not immediate—

Interjection.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: And, as my colleague says here, there is no silver bullet on this. We have to remove costs from the system. We have to work with the industry, because the task force recommendations on fraud reduction are fundamental to getting at why the costs are going up.

So we’re going to work with the industry. We’re going to remove those costs, and we have targeted a 15% average reduction across the province. That is what we will deliver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: It seems to me this government already removed $2 billion of costs annually in the last couple of years for insurance companies, and they’re not passing it on to drivers.

Here’s what people see: When it comes to protecting the profits of insurance companies, the government is ready to work very, very hard. When it comes to delivering results for well-connected insiders, the government is also ready to work hard. But when it comes to delivering results for everyday people, the government is dragging its feet.

When is this Premier going to make delivering results for people like Avtar and Hector a priority for a change?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Well, the interests of the people that the leader of the third party is talking about are our priority, as they are for the people of the province, all of the people of the province who are burdened by some of these costs. I understand that.

In fact, in 2012, auto insurance rates, on average, went down by about 0.03%. I know that’s not a huge amount, but that is movement in the right direction. Remember, we are talking about average decreases, and that is our target: to reduce, on average, auto insurance rates by 15%.

Since 2003—because there have been many changes made—the rates have moved at a slower pace than inflation. So the rates have not increased as quickly as they did prior to that.

We will continue to work with the industry. It is absolutely our intention to reduce rates by 15% on average. That’s the target; that’s what we will aim for.

INVESTMENT IN ONTARIO

Mr. Victor Fedeli: My question this morning is for the Premier. Good morning, Premier.

You’ve been on the job now for nine months, yet Ontario’s economy is only staggering along. You’d think that a new Premier would want to put forward some concrete suggestions to get the 600,000 men and women who woke up this morning without a job back to work. But so far, we’ve seen nothing: nothing to create new jobs, nothing to give confidence to investors, nothing to put a lid on skyrocketing energy prices that send businesses fleeing from our province.

Premier, a show about nothing may work as a TV sitcom, but it’s a lousy way to run this province. Where is your jobs-and-economy plan?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I wish the member opposite had been at Ford in Oakville last week when we announced a $70.9-million investment that will protect 2,800 auto sector jobs and in fact will allow Ford the flexibility to be able to compete globally. That is the point of that investment. Ford is investing $700 million. We’re putting in $70.9 million. The federal government is putting in the same.

That kind of support is part of our strategy. It’s the investment in people, it’s the investment in infrastructure and it’s the support for businesses like Ford that is going to create jobs, that’s going to protect jobs, and that is going to allow Ontario to continue to recover better than most jurisdictions in North America.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Back to the Premier: Canada’s corporations are sitting on $500 billion in reserves. Much of that is here in Ontario, where your high taxes, high energy rates and strangling red tape are forcing these companies to sit on that money. They’re not investing in Ontario because business likes certainty. They’re not investing in Ontario because they continue to hear you say one thing but always do the opposite. They know that our deficit is larger than every other province’s combined. They see that you have no plan to rein in spending, no plan to create jobs and no plan to change the course that’s dragging Ontario down.

Premier, isn’t it clear that your tired team has run out of gas, run out of ideas and run out of time?

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Obviously, I have to disagree with the member opposite. He needs to do his research, because the reality is that on a per capita basis, Ontario is the number one destination in North America for foreign direct investment.

In fact, since the bottom of the recession in June 2009, we’ve created almost 500,000 net new jobs. Some 90% of those jobs are full-time jobs; almost 80% of them are in the private sector.

Even today, we have a global export forum where more than 600 Ontario businesses are together with 20 investors and 20 buyers from the Asia Pacific region, and they are working together to further Ontario’s exports as well as investment between that region—an important, growing region—and this province.

The fundamentals are completely opposite. We are thriving. We’re creating jobs. We had almost a record number of jobs created last month. I don’t know where he’s getting his—

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

MEMBERS’ PRIVILEGES

Mr. Gilles Bisson: My question is to the Premier. Premier, last August you said to the media that you thought it was right and that the members of the justice committee should be allowed to ask questions in regard to the motivation of why Liberal staffers sent emails saying that they were going to try to interfere with the Speaker.

We’re going to be moving a unanimous consent motion a little bit later—

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

I do get a sense of where the member is trying to go. I would ask him to rephrase his question without including any references to an already-dealt-with issue. If you can find a way to say that, I’ll allow it; if you continue, I’ll not allow it.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Thank you, Speaker.

To the Premier: My question is, are you going to support a unanimous consent motion that does essentially what you said and what you promised would happen, last summer, when asked by the media in regard to asking questions about the motivation of those who wrote those emails?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: Cognizant of some of the warnings that you’ve already given us in the past, I think I will simply review what happened.

There was an exchange that took place at the committee. There was concern; there was discussion amongst the House leaders, and it was decided that the opposition would go forward with a point of privilege. You have ruled on that point, Mr. Speaker.

What I have said to the House leaders, and what I think the Premier has said, is that we would consider any sort of suggestions that come forward as long as they align with that ruling. The one that was shared by the New Democratic Party, in my opinion, does not align with the ruling that you brought forward, which is why we are not accepting it.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Premier, first of all, your word is the most important thing that you have in the business that we’re in. When the Premier of Ontario says, “I cannot understand why members of the justice committee can’t ask these questions,” it brings into question that word.

What this motion does is it says that, in fact, we don’t want to deal with what happened with the Speaker in regard to his decision. We want to talk to the motivation of what those people were all about.

I ask you again: Are you prepared to support the unanimous consent motion that would allow us to have people come before the committee and deal with what their motivation was, not with what the Speaker has decided?

Hon. John Milloy: Again, there was concern on all sides of the House of the ruling that was made by the Chair of the justice committee, not from a procedural point of view—I think the ruling was very much in order—but its implications.

We had discussions, and there were two routes forward: One was to work something out amongst House leaders around the scope of the committee; the other was to bring forward a point of privilege.

The opposition House leader brought forward a point of privilege. Mr. Speaker, you gave a very clear ruling, and as I said, anything that comes forward has to be looked at in the context of your ruling.

I have looked at the motion brought forward, and in my mind, it does not align with the ruling that you brought forward. I am very cognizant, Mr. Speaker, that you’ve asked us to leave it at that in our exchanges here in the Legislature.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Mr. Phil McNeely: My question is to Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. We all know that BlackBerry has been a strong pillar of the ICT sector in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, a company that has also spawned growth in the Ottawa region, providing jobs to many constituents in my riding of Ottawa–Orléans.

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Recent reports coming from BlackBerry late last week have people across this province and in my riding asking questions about the next steps for the company, particularly with regard to how many job losses this would cause in the province.

Could the minister please provide the House with an update on the situation at BlackBerry and inform us here on what our government is planning to do to help those workers affected by these job losses?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Thank you to the member from Ottawa–Orléans for this important question.

Mr. Speaker, there’s no doubt that this is an extremely challenging time, not just for BlackBerry but particularly for the employees, the individuals that are employed at that Ontario company. Because of the changes that have been taking place at BlackBerry over the past number of years, we’ve already been working with the region closely, with the municipality, the regional leaders, of course the business leaders as well, and great organizations like Communitech that we’ve supported for a number of years, to make sure that we’re providing re-employment and training services to former BlackBerry employees. We’ve been doing that for some time. In fact, we are extending the program that we have in place further into next year so we can specifically deal with the challenge that we’re facing.

But I have no doubt that the people of Waterloo and the people of that entire region are up to this challenge.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Phil McNeely: Thank you, Minister, for the update. The minister is absolutely right: It is never easy when losing a job. I would like to join the minister in sending my support to the families affected by these layoffs.

Despite this challenge for BlackBerry, I think we can all agree that the ICT sector in Ontario has seen significant growth in the last decade, something we can all be proud of. But with these job losses at BlackBerry and significant profit losses for the company, what impact could this potentially have for Ontario and the ICT sector in particular?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Despite the challenges that BlackBerry is facing, we need to put it in context. We need to understand that Ontario is the third-largest jurisdiction in North America for the IT sector. There are more than 250,000 people in this province that are employed in this sector, including 30,000 in the Waterloo region alone.

Mr. Speaker, there are great opportunities. There are almost 1,000 firms in the Waterloo region that are involved in the tech sector. No doubt that BlackBerry is an important pillar of that, and it was an important part of building the ecosystem that exists in that region. But to give you an example, there are 1,000 tech jobs which are currently unfilled in the Waterloo region alone today, so we’re confident that a lot of the employees that will unfortunately be laid off from BlackBerry will find opportunity within the region, within the sector, a sector that, by the way, contributes $30 billion to the province of Ontario—5% of our GDP, and as I mentioned, a quarter of a million Ontarians involved.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier, but I don’t mind if she directs it to the transportation expert from Winnipeg.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Order. I want to take this time to remind the member and all members that we always refer to each other either by our riding or by our title, nothing else.

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: The federal government has announced support for the subway plan supported by the city of Toronto, the TTC and the residents of Scarborough. My question, Premier, is when will the Liberal government quit playing politics with this issue and support the subway supported by everybody else?

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Well, for the second time this morning, I’m happy to say that our actions have produced results. The fact is, having $1.4 billion on the table being committed to building a subway in Scarborough has meant that the federal government has come forward and has stepped up, so that’s a very good thing.

What I hope is that this means that now the federal government will understand that not only is it important to build transit in the city of Toronto but in Brampton and in Oshawa and in York region, across the whole region, in a systematic, not an ad hoc, way. We need that partnership.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: I’d like an answer to my question of last week. I told you that Conservative governments under four Premiers opened 64 subway stops, and till this point, under two Premiers—you being one of them, Ms. Wynne—your government has opened none. When are you going to open your first subway stop?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: The member opposite knows full well that the Spadina line is being built, the extension is being built. He knows full well that the Eglinton Crosstown line is being built, and that the Eglinton Crosstown would have had many stations open had the party opposite not filled in the hole, Mr. Speaker. I think the member opposite knows that.

The fact is, I am pleased that the federal government has seen the benefit of working in partnership. I hope this will lead to a systematic approach to building transit infrastructure in this region, across the province and, as I said at the Council of the Federation, across the country because we need a federal government that understands that investing in infrastructure, having a transportation and a transit strategy for every part of this country—never mind all of the problems—is very important. So I hope that this is the beginning of that kind of partnership.

CHILD CARE

Miss Monique Taylor: My question is to the Minister of Education. On Friday, a freedom-of-information request revealed that the Vaughan home daycare where two-year-old Eva Ravikovich died last July had meat contaminated with listeria in its refrigerator. Were complaints about contaminated and potentially lethal meat among those that your ministry never followed up on?

Hon. Liz Sandals: My heart does go out to the family of the child in this incredibly difficult time.

I think it’s important for the Legislature to recognize that the area in which my ministry is authorized to act is within the realm of the number of children who are at an unlicensed daycare. In fact, since this incident, we have applied for an injunction and have been granted a temporary injunction to prevent this particular provider from operating a daycare anywhere in Ontario.

Because this is before the courts waiting for the hearing of permanent injunction, I cannot comment any further on the specifics.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Miss Monique Taylor: The freedom-of-information report shows that when the Ministry of Education inspectors finally visited the daycare last November, they were refused entry for 20 minutes. The ministry’s manager for licensing speculates that the operator moved children next door while the inspectors were waiting. If the inspectors had gone in right away, they may have found 27 children and they may have closed that daycare immediately, perhaps saving that child’s life.

How many children’s lives has this government put at risk because of its toothless inspection of home-based daycares?

Hon. Liz Sandals: I repeat that my ministry has applied for an injunction in this particular case.

But I think in terms of the ongoing public policy, we have stated publicly that one of the problems with the existing Day Nurseries Act is, in fact, that my ministry has very little authority with respect to unlicensed daycare. In fact, the need to go to court is problematic, and we have committed to making amendments to the legislation to find a more effective process to intervene in the future.

SOCIAL SERVICES

Mr. John Fraser: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. As a new member in the Legislature, I’ve quickly learned our role here and I know that the role we all play back home in our communities is vital to our work here. I enjoy this the most—to connect with my constituents and learn of their successes and their challenges and how the work we do is making a positive change in their lives. As members, we get an opportunity to hear about what we can do better and how we can improve the quality of services provided by our government.

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I know from the news that I saw over the summer that the Minister of Community and Social Services was also connecting with people right across Ontario, including in my hometown of Ottawa. Can the minister tell us about some of the communities he visited and what he has heard that can truly improve the policy formed by our government?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: I want to thank the member from Ottawa South. He has, in fact, over the last 14 years been connecting with constituents, and I suspect that that’s why they sent him here.

I did have a busy summer. I met with some 173 groups over a six-week period: individuals, businesses, community groups, advocates, clients, parents, agencies, workers, union leaders, municipal leaders and even a couple of First Nations communities. I did that because I wanted to learn directly a little bit more about how the services we provide impact people and how we can improve them.

I’ll never forget the experience of visiting some of the people across the province with a developmental disability, who live with dignity and respect in their communities with the help of supports provided by Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. John Fraser: As the minister’s example demonstrates, it’s important to listen and witness the everyday lives of Ontarians. Some of the stories are not only truly remarkable, but inspiring. I am glad to know that our government is making the right investments in people and improving their lives every day.

As mentioned earlier, the minister visited my hometown of Ottawa, and I appreciate him taking the time to meet with the people of our city and learn some of the innovative ideas that might be leading, and how they can be used across Ontario. Can the minister tell us of his visit to Ottawa and what he was able to see that could be used across the province?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: I’d be delighted, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t confess straight up that Ottawa is one of my favourite cities.

Interjections.

Hon. Ted McMeekin: Thank you. While I was there, I had a chance to visit a number of places. I got to drop into the Causeway Work Centre, an entrepreneurial social enterprise venture that’s doing some really good work, and the Ottawa DSO drop-in centre, with its focus on skills development.

I also visited one of the municipal service delivery centres. Ottawa has probably got one of the most sophisticated social delivery systems in the province. It’s something I think we can learn from, and I intend to visit back to see just what additional learnings we can gain from them.

There are a lot of things that our government could do to make things better. I was impressed with what Ottawa had to offer, and will gladly visit that city to learn some more.

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

Mr. Frank Klees: To the Minister of Health: Here’s what the president of the largest provider of fixed-wing air ambulance services to Ornge told the public accounts hearing last Wednesday: “Questionable and unethical business practices still exist at Ornge.”

Allegations of inherent conflict of interest, coercion by Ornge senior executives of proponents during the bidding process, little—if any—operational oversight by Ornge of its private sector aviation suppliers and no requirements whatsoever for proponents to prove that they have the financial capacity to deliver on their contractual obligations—I ask the Minister of Health, are any of these revelations about what is going on at Ornge today under its new executive of concern to you, or will you simply accept them as—

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

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I can assure the member opposite that Ornge is taking these allegations very, very seriously. They are investigating them. I think it’s important to understand that Ornge is into a new chapter. We are seeing the evidence of that in their commitment to put patients first and to enhance transparency and accountability. They value these principles, and they are acting on them.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that our front-line staff at Ornge put their lives at risk every single day, making sure people get the care they need. When patients need to be transported, the people at Ornge are there.

As I say, Ornge is taking these allegations very seriously and is looking into them.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: Speaker, that’s precisely why we’re concerned about this, because we support those front-line people at Ornge: the paramedics, the pilots and the people who are doing the front-line work.

What we’re concerned about are the allegations in the executive suites of this organization that suggest there’s conflict of interest that’s rampant. We’re told by Mr. Rick Horwath, the president of Air Bravo, that the president and CEO is fully aware. We were told that the chief operating officer has actually allowed his confidential emails to be distributed to his competitors.

Speaker, this is the executive suite—the executive suite that the minister assured us was being cleaned up. We want to know: Will she order an independent investigation of what is going on in the executive suites at Ornge? Will she confirm that for us today?

Interjections.

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

Minister of Health.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, as everyone in this House knows, there is new leadership in place at Ornge. They have impeccable credentials, and they are working very hard to ensure that the patients who need Ornge get the care they need.

I’m not the only one who thinks that Dr. McCallum is in fact an excellent leader. I have a quote here: “I think that ... Dr. McCallum brings a brand new perspective to openness and transparency.” Precisely, Speaker. That quote is from Frank Klees on March 20, 2013.

I know the member opposite has a great deal of respect for Dr. McCallum. Let’s let him do his work.

THUNDER BAY GENERATING STATION

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Minister of Energy. This government has got its wires crossed when it comes to the power needs of the northwest. Last week, the Minister of Energy sent some very mixed signals to the people of Thunder Bay. He said, “Any future generating plant in Thunder Bay will be used six hours per year.”

Is this government looking for fresh excuses not to honour its commitment to convert the Thunder Bay generating station to gas, or is the minister ready to admit that he got his facts wrong?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: Mr. Speaker, I’m happy to speak to this issue again. First of all, I want to say that already there is a conversion under way, and the Atikokan plant will be available next year for 200 megawatts. There is significant—

Interjections.

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: We’re already in procurement for the east-west tie line, to bring another 400 megawatts or 500 megawatts into the Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario area.

Investments are being made, but the good news is that more investments are going to be made, and the draft plan for northwestern Ontario energy is circulated. Everybody in the north—the task force has it; Thunder Bay has it. We’re waiting for some response on that, and we expect to get that response soon. We shared that with them at the AMO conference around August 20, last month. We’re waiting for the response.

We are committed to having energy in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario when they need it and in the amount that they need.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: People in Thunder Bay have been waiting a long time to hear some straight answers from this government. Instead, they have a minister who claims the plant is only working six hours a year when in fact it’s 70 times as much. They have a minister who wrote to me to say that the plant is running at 4% capacity when it’s much, much more. They have a minister who promised answers in “three or four weeks,” then promptly took it back and, at the same time, told Thunder Bay citizens to get ready for a long, long wait.

Is the minister’s confusion a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, Speaker? Or is it simply a sneaky way of pulling the plug on the Thunder Bay generating station gas conversion?

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Hon. Bob Chiarelli: I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that the leader of the third party is playing politics with this issue, Mr. Speaker. I wouldn’t dare say that. The task force that has produced the draft report has a massive investment strategy for northwestern Ontario. We’re already creating new generation in Thunder Bay. We have not made a final decision on Thunder Bay at this particular point. We are still awaiting—I would remind the leader of the third party that we have not had all the results back in from Thunder Bay and the task force in terms of the response to the northwest draft plan. It is an extensive promise of investment. We’re doing it. We’re going to continue to do it. Thunder Bay has nothing to fear about the reliability of their electricity.

EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

Mr. Grant Crack: My question is to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Interjection: A hard-working minister.

Mr. Grant Crack: He’s very hard-working.

There are many youth in my riding of Glengarry–Prescott–Russell with skills and knowledge wanting to contribute to Ontario’s workforce. Yet with the youth unemployment rate at 9% higher than Ontario’s overall average, unfortunately, many of these talented young individuals struggle to find good opportunities for employment. This is very challenging not only to the youth but also to their parents and to the families involved. I’m also concerned that there need to be supports in place to help the youth in these situations.

Speaker, through you to the minister, what is this government doing to ensure that our young people have access to good jobs and opportunities to gain workplace experience?

Hon. Brad Duguid: Not only do I agree with the member on the importance of this question; I’ve got to admit he’s got a very good selection in ties. I think we’re completely matching today, which means we’re one and the same when it comes to this issue.

Ensuring our young people have opportunities in our economy is a top priority for our government. That’s why we created the Youth Employment Fund to offer young people an opportunity to gain some real work experience and learn work skills while earning an income. I’m very pleased to share with Ontario youth that applications for this exciting program are now available across the province. The Youth Employment Fund will help to provide access to much-needed workplace experience for 25,000 young people across Ontario.

Through this fund, we’re also making a special effort to help youth facing barriers, including aboriginal, rural and northern youth, youth with disabilities, newcomers and visible minorities, and youth leaving care or on social assistance.

Mr. Speaker, 25,000 young people are going to get an opportunity because of this—

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

Mr. Grant Crack: Thank you, Minister. It’s good to hear that the Youth Employment Fund will be helpful to thousands of youth across the province. I’m reassured that we’re making a special effort to assist youth who face different barriers when trying to find good jobs and workplace experience, especially in small towns and rural communities like I have in my riding of Glengarry–Prescott–Russell.

I’ve heard that the proposed federal changes to training funding may impact some of these programs that target youth who face greater barriers. As our government steps up our efforts to help these youth find work, it would be unfortunate if the federal government was taking measures that could harm those efforts. Can the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities please advise if these federal funding changes will hurt those youth who need these programs the most?

Hon. Brad Duguid: I wish I could say otherwise, but the fact is that the member does have reason to be concerned. Actually, all of us have reason to be concerned. The federal government plans to cut 60% of the funding that goes to the labour market agreement which funds programs that, among other things, target youth with greater needs. This is how they intend to fund their Canada Job Grant program. On top of that, they’re demanding that the provinces match that amount. That could mean a $232-million hit to programs that target aboriginal and rural youth, and literacy and basic skills programs that target at-risk youth, among others.

We believe this is a counterproductive approach and we urge the federal government to rethink this course of action. I also encourage all members, service providers across the province and all Ontarians to contact their local MPs and join me and this government in urging the federal government to work with the provinces to find a better way to fund their new program.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: My question today is for the Minister of Energy. The Auditor General’s report, the Fraser report and now last week’s C.D. Howe report all have one thing in common: They all have denounced your government’s green energy plan, Minister. In fact, the C.D. Howe Institute said, “The Ontario power sector today has oversupply ... rising prices to final consumers,” as well as “volatile and contradictory policies….

“Ontario’s approach to power sector investment and planning is inefficient, expensive and … unsustainable.”

Minister, when will your government finally wake up, look at the facts and accept that the green energy plan is nothing more than a pretty name on an ugly and expensive piece of legislation?

Interjections.

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

Minister of Energy.

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: Mr. Speaker, what we’re talking about essentially here is renewable energy. There other people who want to speak about renewable energy as well; for example, the minister of external affairs for Canada, John Baird. He was down in Washington, and because he was sensitive about President Obama’s impression of the federal government in terms of carbon footprint, he was very, very quick to point out that Canada has the best record in North America of eliminating dirty coal-burning generation. Minister Oliver has said the same thing. Well, strange that when Mr. Baird was Minister of Energy in that government—the PC government—he was building more coal generation plants than anybody else in North America.

We’re proud of our record. We’re making a healthier economy. We’re making a healthier population, and it’s the right choice.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I have to tell you and the minister, my father lived permanently on oxygen for 12 years, and this nonsense and this ongoing spin has to stop. There are real issues at hand, and those issues are perpetuated by the ever-increasing prices of your hydro rates.

The C.D. Howe report revealed that provisions of the Green Energy Act and a whopping 66 ministerial directives have overridden your long-term energy plan, and that means rising prices for consumers and more instability for business and investors and our ratepayers, as I said. Your project also is reported to generate over $370 million per year from ratepayers so that they have to pay for your failed expensive green energy scheme. Minister, the C.D. Howe report urges you to hit the pause button now.

Will you face the music and commit today that doing the right thing is ending this scheme once and for all?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: Mr. Speaker, there’s only 4% or less of green energy in the grid at the present time. If there’s pressure on prices, it’s because, for 10 years, the Progressive Conservative government made no investment in the energy sector. They had declining megawatts. They had declining transmission. This government had to build an energy system almost from scratch. We’ve created 13,000 megawatts. We’ve improved over 7,500 kilometres of transmission. That is rate-based; that goes on the rate base. It pushed the rates up—thanks to them.

We have taken some steps to mitigate. The clean energy benefit is reducing 10% off the electricity bills for families and small businesses.

They should take the blame for rising prices because we had to build the system from scratch.

HORSE RACING INDUSTRY

Mr. Percy Hatfield: My question is to the Premier this morning. Good morning, Premier.

When the government shut down the slots at Windsor Raceway, which led to the collapse of the local harness racing industry in Windsor and Essex counties and the loss of 2,000 jobs in my community, the justification, Premier, was that those who gambled at the track would gravitate to Caesars and do their gaming at Caesars in downtown Windsor. By now, Premier, you must have had time to crunch the numbers. Did the experiment work?

How much additional revenue has been realized at Caesars since the slots at the track were shut down and so many people—2,000 people—were left without good-paying jobs in my community?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I know the member opposite is asking a question in the context of the issues around the horse racing industry and the changes that were made. I am very pleased, for example, that the Lakeshore group has been given four race dates, and I know that he will be happy about that because it’s very close to his community. We’ve put $180 million into the system to guarantee a transition. I am awaiting the report from the panel with a five-year strategy. We want the horse racing industry to be sustainable. It was not transparent; it was not clear how the funding was working, and we have many opportunities for input on that.

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We made a decision. The Drummond report put forward a suggestion. We made that decision, but we have made it clear that we want to have a sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario, and we’re well on track to do that.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Nice try, Premier. Thank you for those four extra dates in Leamington, by the way. The member from Essex and myself were there yesterday to show support. No one from your government or the official opposition was, but we were.

Prior to this ill-fated decision to close the slots at Windsor Raceway, the government was bringing in an estimated $8 million in clear profit; $8 million, Premier, is nothing to sneeze at.

There’s no shame in admitting you made a mistake, Premier, no shame whatsoever. Will this government reopen the slots at Windsor Raceway to breathe new life back into the provincial harness racing industry, get those 2,000 people back to work and demonstrate to the people in this province, Premier, that when you say it, you mean it when you stand up, as you did so repeatedly this morning, and said that jobs are a priority to your government?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: That’s why we want the horse racing industry to be sustainable. I’m really glad that the member opposite was at Lakeshore; it’s his community. I’m glad that he was there.

But I’m also glad that it’s our commitment to the horse racing industry that’s allowing this transition to happen. I will be the first to say that my predecessor recognized that—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Cupping your hand as a microphone and yelling is not really what I like to see here.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Trust me, you don’t even need your hands; I can hear you anyway.

Finish, please.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I’d be the first to admit that my predecessor stepped back from that initial decision and said that we have to put in place a sustainable industry, that just removing the money that was in the system—even though the system wasn’t transparent, it was very fractious. There needed to be a change. We’ve acknowledged we need a five-year strategy that integrates, and that’s what we’re doing.

NUCLEAR SAFETY

Mr. Joe Dickson: My question is for the Minister of Energy. We have been hearing news lately regarding nuclear safety, particularly with respect to the ongoing situation in Japan. Of course, this stems from March 2011 when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan generated a 15-metre tsunami towards the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This tsunami caused a nuclear meltdown and the subsequent release of radioactive materials. The issue has recently resurfaced in the news with fresh leaks and concerns over the radioactivity of the region’s fish, livestock and agriculture are raised.

Speaker, through you to the minister: Will you please explain the protections the government has installed to prevent such future occasions?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: I thank the member for the question. He certainly is right to show some concern in the sense that he represents nuclear host communities. The health and safety of Ontarians is certainly our top priority.

In the wake of the Fukushima accident, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission established a task force to evaluate the implications of the nuclear event in Japan. The report concluded that Canadian nuclear power plants are safe and robust and have a strong design relying on multiple layers of defence. They also confirmed that the design of our Candu reactors safeguards against any incidents arising from external events such as earthquakes.

Ontario strives for continuous improvement from lessons learned from that report, and Ontario Power Generation and Bruce Power have taken numerous measures to enhance the safety of our nuclear facilities.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Joe Dickson: It’s reassuring to know that Ontario has been taking very adequate steps towards ensuring the safety of our nuclear reactors from events like natural disasters. While Ontario is not particularly prone to earthquakes, I feel that it is important that the government prepare for all possible eventualities when dealing with critical infrastructure like nuclear plants.

I also know, from reading various news reports, that another danger concerning nuclear reactors is related to their security. While the threat to security is very low, it nevertheless raises the question of whether we are prepared for such an event or not.

Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell me if we have precautions in place for such an event?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: Again, I compliment the member for his responsibility on this particular issue. Nuclear safety and security are top priorities for the government and Ontario’s nuclear operators.

You’ll be pleased to learn that the Bruce Power site received the highest possible security grade from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Ontario Power Generation is aggressively pursuing a $350-million security enhancement project. Some 95% of the enhancement program is completed, and the remaining 5% is on track for completion by the end of this year. OPG and Bruce Power continue to ensure that enhanced security arrangements and contingency plans are in place at their nuclear facilities.

Mr. Speaker, ongoing review of safety at these facilities will continue even after the current security enhancement project has been completed. I can tell you that if you speak to the senior management of both of these facilities—

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

ORDER OF BUSINESS

Mr. Steve Clark: My question is back to the Premier. Premier, we started question period today with two lead questions: one from my leader, Tim Hudak, and the other from my House leader, Jim Wilson. It was very clear, Premier, that there are half a million Ontarians who are out of work right now. They need us to clear the decks and put forward some legislation that’s going to create jobs in this province.

My House leader is going to table a unanimous consent motion this afternoon. My question is very simple, Premier: Are you going to support it? Yes or no?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: We appreciate, on this side of the House, the new enthusiasm on the part of the Progressive Conservative Party, but the fact of the matter is we found ourselves in this position because for the last year or so, it has been the Progressive Conservative Party who has been dragging their feet on every single bill that’s brought forward. Mr. Speaker, Bill 14, non-profit housing co-ops—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): While I might not necessarily be able to identify the individual who is using unparliamentary language, I am disappointed to hear it. I would recommend very strongly, without me absolutely knowing for sure of who to withdraw—might want to stand up and withdraw on their own.

Interjection: Withdraw.

Mr. Steve Clark: Speaker, I withdraw.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I got two for the price of one. I’m happy.

Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, let me give some examples: Bill 14, non-profit housing co-ops, 15 hours and 15 minutes due to opposition filibustering; Bill 36, Local Food Act, 20 hours and 35 minutes; Bill 55, Stronger Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 18 hours and 39 minutes.

Mr. Speaker, it has been this party that has been filibustering for the last year. We welcome their—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): At any time, the Speaker has the prerogative to remove somebody. It doesn’t mean just at the end of question period. It could be at the end of question period; it could be at the end of the day. So I would ask the two members who still seem to want to yell to cool it.

You have 10 seconds.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, we welcome their enthusiasm, but the fact of the matter is, we will have discussion amongst House leaders. I wish they had some of this impatience last—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. That was your 10.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Point of order.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Timmins–James Bay on a point of order.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to expand the scope of the Standing Committee on Justice Policy to allow for questions related to the motivation and intent of Liberal Party staff and former staff of the Office of the Premier with regard to the meetings with the Speaker and the prima facie case of privilege, and that this expanded scope shall not include the Speaker’s confidential discussions.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I do have to do things properly, so let me at least get the one part done.

The member from Timmins–James Bay has asked for unanimous consent to put forward a motion. Do I hear unanimous consent? I heard a no.

There are no deferred votes. This House, therefore, stands recessed until 1 p.m.

The House recessed from 1140 to 1300.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I’m pleased to welcome Terry Kingsmill, registrar of the Ontario Institute of Agrologists, to Queen’s Park today. Terry is here for the Ontario Institute of Professional Agrologists Act, which I’ll be introducing at the appropriate time.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I notice that my good friend Len Domino is here, along with somebody else whom I can’t see far enough to introduce, but I do recognize Len.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): They might send you a note and you can get it on the go-round.

Ms. Soo Wong: I’m pleased to welcome our friends from the co-op sector back to the Legislature: Harvey Cooper and his team. Thank you so much for your continued support on the bill.

Mr. Steve Clark: I’m going to help the member for Scarborough–Agincourt. I’m going to actually give all the details, because some may think they’re here for Bill 14, the co-op act; I think they’re here for Jim Wilson’s unanimous consent motion for programming—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Just introductions, please.

Mr. Steve Clark: Sorry; I got carried away, Speaker.

I’d like to welcome Dale Reagan, managing director; Harvey Cooper, manager of government relations; Diane Miles, manager of co-op services; Simone Swail, program manager, special initiatives; and Judy Shaw, program manager, co-op services. Let’s hear it for the co-operative federation, who are here and supportive.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): There are repercussions if it gets too carried away. That’s all. I just wanted to let the member know.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): So do I.

The member from Oxford.

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I forgot that, along with the agrologists, Len Domino is here too, and I’d like to welcome him to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I think that took care of the member from Timmins–James Bay.

MEMBERS’ STATEMENTS

ANNIVERSARY OF ARMENIAN INDEPENDENCE

Mr. Michael Harris: Today, I rise in the House to join the Armenian-Canadian community to celebrate 22 years of Armenian independence.

On September 21, 1991, the people of Armenia decided to take their first step towards democracy after 70 years of Soviet rule. They voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence and freedom, giving their families and future generations the hope and possibility of a better life.

Now, from the crossroads of eastern Europe and western Asia, Armenia is pursuing its destiny among a community of nations as a multi-party democratic country.

Over the last two decades, the international community has seen Armenia make huge strides towards prosperity, thanks to the efforts of its citizens.

I stand here today with the members of this House and reflect on the immense challenges that were overcome to achieve their freedom and democracy.

Through Canada’s partnership, we have helped Armenia expand their economy and build infrastructure. But here at home, the Armenian people have played a vital role in building the community, especially in my region of Waterloo.

I want to take the time to thank the Armenian National Committee of Southwestern Ontario for their investment in Ontario’s economy through the businesses they successfully run, creating jobs for people here in Ontario.

I also want to thank them for sharing their culture and traditions as we grow together as a country and province.

I invite all members to join me in congratulating our Armenian-Canadian friends and our colleagues serving in the Armenian National Assembly a happy 22nd Independence Day.

SUZANNE BEARD

Mr. Michael Prue: For the last number of years, I’ve had the opportunity every September to stand up and talk about the Beach Citizen of the Year, and I’m going to do so again.

This year, on Saturday, we inaugurated the latest Beach Citizen of the Year in the person of Suzanne Beard. Suzanne Beard is the latest winner. The Beach Citizen of the Year is chosen by a group of people coming together from Community Centre 55, Beach Metro News and the Toronto Beaches Lions Club. They unanimously chose Suzanne Beard as this year’s recipient.

Suzanne has worked tirelessly in the Beach community, most notably in the Brownies and Girl Guides, hosting and putting together a group of girls and young women. She has also worked very hard in terms of interfaith lunches and drop-ins for people who need support in our community, showing that the Beach is a caring community, and she has also been the program coordinator there. And last but not least, she has volunteered in the Beach BIA.

Congratulations to Suzanne. Her stone was placed on Saturday. A hundred people or more stood there in the rain to watch it, and we think she is most fitting for this award. We congratulate her and all of the people who take the time during the year to help choose the winner and to show just how good a place the Beach is in which to live and to work.

HONG FOOK CONNECTING HEALTH NURSE PRACTITIONER-LED CLINIC

Ms. Soo Wong: I’m pleased to rise today to share some fantastic news from my riding of Scarborough–Agincourt. Last Monday I had the honour of officially opening the Hong Fook Connecting Health Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. This is yet another example of this government’s commitment to bringing health care closer to home and ensuring that Ontarians are receiving the right care in the right place at the right time and from the right health care practitioner. I commend the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care for her continued dedication to strengthen health care across this province.

Mr. Speaker, this nurse-practitioner-led clinic will bring multi-faceted health care to the diverse population in my riding of Scarborough–Agincourt and will bring much-needed mental and physical health supports to the people who need it.

I’d also like to take this moment to recognize some of the community leaders who have made this clinic possible: Dr. Peter Chang, one of the founders of Hong Fook and chair of the Hong Fook Mental Health Association; Bonnie Wong, executive director, for her strong leadership; Beth Cowper-Fung, the president of the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario; and Jason Park, the clinic president.

This is excellent news for the residents of my riding, who have not only been supported by this clinic but also beyond. I’d like to thank and congratulate everyone involved in opening the Hong Fook Connecting Health Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic.

WIND TURBINES

Mr. Rick Nicholls: Last week I had the pleasure of attending the International Plowing Match in Mitchell. While we were there, we heard yet again from Ontarians who are fed up with the heavy-handed imposition of wind turbines by this Liberal government. While reporters are around and cameras are on, this Premier, like her predecessor, says the right things but fails to deliver on promises for a greater say for rural Ontarians. The Premier asks my constituents and those across this province to take her word for it and that they are “putting changes in place,” without giving any details. In my opinion, this just continues the Liberal trend to overpromise and under-deliver.

In my riding, it’s too little, too late. We already have over 400 turbines in our community. The people of my riding, the great riding of Chatham–Kent–Essex, cannot figure out why we’re paying for wind turbines to be shut down due to the lack of demand, yet there are still hundreds more scheduled to be put up. Does this sound like a good business plan? I don’t think so.

Our community is also currently dealing with an issue of safety regarding eight turbines that were built too close to the Chatham airport that have been ordered to come down by Transport Canada. Local pilots could have told you about the safety concerns, but this government was not listening.

Speaker, I hope that this government will start to deliver on their promises and show some respect for Chatham–Kent–Essex and rural Ontario.

WOMEN’S COMMUNITY HOUSE

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I rise today to pay tribute to the eight courageous and dedicated women who, 35 years ago in my community, recognized the need to provide services for abused women and their children, who had no place in London to turn to for help and safety. Women’s Community House, located in my riding of London West, is now Canada’s largest high-security shelter for abused women and their children.

The eight visionaries who had the courage to make change in 1978 are Barbara Beach, Amicia Gooding, Joy Green, Susan MacPhail, Elaine Robertson, Eleanor Schnall, Audrey Sutton and Judy Thompson. They dreamed of a place where abused women would find not only safety but also a home offering genuine caring and support, free from judgment or criticism. We are truly indebted to them for their courage and determination.

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We know that economic downturn and high rates of unemployment, such as we are facing in my riding of London West, create stress on families and increase demand for services like those provided by Women’s Community House. Moreover, a recent federal study estimates that woman abuse costs Canada about $7 billion each year. In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that front-line services and anti-violence efforts, such as those provided by Women’s Community House, are not only maintained but also strengthened.

ROUGE VALLEY HEALTH SYSTEM

Mr. Joe Dickson: I’m delighted to report on our hospital in west Durham, as it continues to provide more service to the growing communities of Ajax and Pickering on the Scarborough border.

Thanks to this government’s support, community donations and five years of balanced budgets, and the reinvestment at Rouge Valley, Ajax and Pickering campus, we have seen additional programs as people continue to move to this wonderful, family-focused area.

The hospital opened a new special clinic that helps patients get into better shape before surgery. This unique approach, called prehabilitation, reduces the need for post-operation rehabilitation, because patients go directly into surgery in stronger condition in the first place.

Our cardiac program recently returned a teenaged Whitby student to the active life all teenagers should be able to enjoy. A unique transseptal procedure cured her of her rapid heartbeat, which had for years threatened her life when she played sports, such as tennis, or even when she just climbed stairs. Today, she lives the active life of a young person, thanks to the cardiologists and staff of our hospital.

People living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a chronic disease that limits airflow to and from the lungs, now have a new education program at the hospital that allows them to control their condition.

I just wanted to pass on some good news, and I’ll be back to pass on more from Ajax-Pickering hospital.

BEAR CONTROL

Mr. Bill Walker: My constituents and I are deeply concerned that the Ministry of Natural Resources has stopped managing nuisance bears in rural Ontario. In my riding of Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, bears are not just a nuisance; they’re a danger to the safety of residents, visitors and especially children.

This government, last year, ended the province’s long-time bear management program at the MNR and put the Ontario Provincial Police in charge of bear calls. The province, however, still runs the so-called Bear Wise program, which consists of a hotline number and website that tells residents how to prevent conflict with bears.

This hotline is merely an answering machine, and gives little consolation to residents in the Grey and Bruce region, where we’ve had a rash of bear sightings this year. After all, we’re not talking about nuisance wildlife like raccoons, skunks, wild turkeys, foxes and coyotes. We’re talking about black bears. We’re talking about potentially predatory animals that have actually attempted to enter homes in my riding.

The province has a duty to get back to monitoring and managing these predatory animals, as opposed to letting residents fend for themselves. The current practice virtually encourages residents and visitors to fend for themselves and then makes them out to be criminals for unlawful hunting should they discharge a firearm to protect their loved ones.

It’s most necessary for the MNR to ensure that these wild animals are monitored and managed and to do all in its power to reduce the risk of harm to residents. So while my residents are doing their part and removing any potential food sources, such as bird feeders and garbage, the Minister of Natural Resources should be doing his part in reinstating the trap and relocate bear program instead of downloading it to the police, who are not trained in wildlife management.

SPORTS AND RECREATION FUNDING

Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti: I rise today to speak on the funding announcement that Minister Chan made in Scarborough Southwest on July 12, 2013, about the $7.15 million that the Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund is providing to over 130 projects across the province of Ontario.

This fund is a cost-sharing program designed to provide non-capital, project-based seed funding to organizations for the successful delivery of integrated sport, recreation and physical activity projects.

As part of our government’s $7.15-million Sport and Recreation Communities Fund, the West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre, in my riding of Scarborough Southwest, received $67,000 for their On the Move aquatics program. This program provides opportunities for hundreds of low-income children, both in and out of school hours, to learn the basics and importance of aquatics. This program allows 480 children to learn the fundamentals of aquatics during school hours, enhancing and diversifying physical education, as well as teaching important life skills.

A program such as On the Move is a perfect example of how our government has made early childhood education a priority. By creating a healthier and more active student body, Ontario schools have the ability to be innovative and competitive.

This community centre in Scarborough Southwest has a very long history of health, education, growth and community participation. Please join me in both acknowledging the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for their generous contribution and in celebrating the hard work and future success of the West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre.

NORTH GRENVILLE
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Mr. Steve Clark: It’s a pleasure to rise in recognition of this weekend’s North Grenville Chamber of Commerce Salute to Excellence Awards Gala. The awards night is an annual highlight in the community, an opportunity to honour outstanding businesses and citizens for their tireless efforts to make the North Grenville area a great place to work and raise a family.

There’s a special reason to celebrate this year, Speaker. Saturday’s gala marks the silver anniversary of the awards ceremony. I’m looking forward to being able to personally congratulate recipients of the Mel Johnston Established Business of the Year, the Dr. George and Norma Fisher Citizen of the Year, and the Russ Mosher Volunteer of the Year awards, among many, many other awards.

While the spotlight rightly shines on those award recipients, on the 25th anniversary it’s also important to pay special tribute to the chamber. Led by the hard-working executive director and CEO Wendy Chapman and a very dedicated board of volunteers under the direction of chairman Mark Thornton, the North Grenville Chamber of Commerce is more than the voice of business. Supporting business remains its primary responsibility, of course, and one it performs admirably, but in a rapidly growing place like North Grenville that welcomes so many new businesses and residents every year, the events and activities that the chamber organizes help make newcomers feel like part of the community.

So as we celebrate their remarkable 25 years, I commend the chamber for being such a big part of the North Grenville success story in the past and leading the way towards an even brighter future.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank all members for their statements.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

ONTARIO INSTITUTE
OF PROFESSIONAL AGROLOGISTS
ACT, 2013

Mr. Hardeman moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr15, An Act respecting the Ontario Institute of Professional Agrologists.

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, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills.

It is now time for motions.

Mr. Jim Wilson: Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to move a motion to expedite legislation in this House without notice.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for Simcoe–Grey has introduced a motion—

Mr. Gilles Bisson: No.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Let me finish my sentence and then—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Oh, I definitely would listen, thank you.

The member for Simcoe–Grey has introduced a motion seeking unanimous consent. Do we agree? I heard a no.

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
AND RESPONSES

FOREST INDUSTRY

Hon. David Orazietti: I rise in the Legislature today to acknowledge that the week of September 22 to 28, 2013, is National Forest Week.

We live in a province whose landscape is dominated by forests. Ontario has over 71 million hectares of forest with about 85 billion trees. Forests provide a range of economic, social and ecological benefits that support Ontario’s high standard of living. Many Ontario communities depend on forests for jobs, recreation and a range of other benefits.

I’d like to first of all commend the men and women who work in the forestry sector for the important work that they do and for the tremendous contribution that they make to the provincial economy. The forest sector supports more than 150,000 direct and indirect jobs in over 260 communities in northern and southern Ontario.

National Forest Week invites Canadians to learn more about the country’s forest heritage and seeks to raise awareness of this valuable renewable resource.

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Originally known as Forest Fire Prevention Week in the 1920s and renamed National Forest Week in 1967, the theme of this year’s event is “The Greenest Workforce.” Ontario’s forest professionals and practitioners do tremendous work in ensuring that the province’s forests are managed sustainably. I would point out that the province’s sustainable forest management practices are, in fact, recognized internationally.

As part of our effort to ensure our forests’ sustainability, Ontario is advancing on a number of fronts. Ontario is supporting economic development in the forest sector by striving to ensure that the maximum value is derived from the province’s forest resources. We do this through a range of measures, including conservation, innovation, expanding markets for forest-based products and achieving global recognition, both of Ontario’s wood products and of its ecologically sustainable forest management practices.

The forestry industry has been through some particularly challenging economic times. Despite these challenges, I am optimistic that the outlook for Ontario’s forestry sector is positive and that we will continue to see improvements in the coming years. There are a number of recent examples of companies that have emerged from financial restructuring and others that are investing in Ontario.

For example, Aditya Birla has acquired the Terrace Bay pulp industry and will spend over $250 million to convert the facility to produce dissolving pulp. This is expected to support about 1,900 direct and indirect jobs.

Just last week, Olav Haavaldsrud Timber Company in Hornepayne celebrated the completion of a $66-million cogeneration facility adjacent to its sawmill. The facility will use biomass waste to produce electricity for sale to the grid this October. I was pleased to announce that Ontario’s support for this project has included a conditional grant of $11.8 million through the Forest Sector Prosperity Fund and $17.8 million in a loan guarantee through the Forest Sector Loan Guarantee Program, as well as $1 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. That’s through the support of my colleague who’s here, Minister Michael Gravelle. Our government’s investment will help to create 20 new jobs and support 100 more at a nearby mill, as well as an estimated 40 indirect jobs in collecting forest biofibre.

As well, the installation of a steam turbine at Resolute Forest Products’ Thunder Bay pulp and paper mill has also been completed. This $65-million investment is reducing costs at the mill through the production of green energy and was supported by a $9.6-million forest sector prosperity grant. In addition, Resolute has announced it will invest $50 million to build a new sawmill in Atikokan, and certainly I’m aware of the lobbying efforts of the member from Thunder Bay–Atikokan on this issue. When fully operational, it is expected to employ 90 people.

Eacom is investing $25 million in rebuilding and expanding its Timmins sawmill after it was damaged by a fire in 2012. The company expects to bring back all of the employees displaced by the shutdown when the reopening of the facility is scheduled for this fall. The facility is expected to once again employ about 120 people.

We expect to hear more of such investments as the US economy continues to recover and lumber prices continue to rise. Our government has worked tirelessly to restore the competitiveness of the forestry sector and will continue to do so.

We’re also involved in developing the greenest workforce by promoting career opportunities in forestry. Forestry is part of the popular Specialist High Skills Major program taught in our high schools. The program is designed to address research showing that the forestry industry is being affected by increasing retirements, skill shortages and other related issues. My ministry is undertaking initiatives that promote forestry and wood manufacturing career opportunities and wood-based products to teachers.

But that is not all we are doing to look into the future with respect to this important industry. We are also doing our best to promote the use of Ontario’s forest products through our Ontario Wood brand. We launched the Ontario Wood brand in 2011 to promote Ontario wood domestically, along with our industry partners. An initiative of the Ontario government, Ontario Wood promotes the benefit of buying Ontario wood and raising awareness of the sustainability of our province’s forestry industry. Managing our forests sustainably according to our rigorous forest management planning process means achieving the appropriate balance between environmental, economic and society’s needs and expectations, both now and for the future. This initiative also showcases the diversity and variety of Ontario wood products.

Ontario wood is local. A product cannot be licensed unless at least 75% of the wood used is from trees that are harvested from sustainably managed forests in Ontario. In addition, all processing associated with the manufacturing of the products must take place in facilities located in the province.

The message that we are trying to get out is that Ontarians should feel good about using Ontario wood. To help make that possible, we are making it easy for consumers to identify and buy Ontario wood products. When Ontario consumers look for the distinctive leaf logo that is part of the Ontario Wood brand, they can rest assured that they are supporting jobs in the province, reducing the environmental impact and using a versatile renewable resource. We are offering the Ontario Wood brand to those who make the tremendous variety of wood products that come from Ontario—everyone from the largest sawmiller to the individual artisan.

Since its launch, we have been busy licensing manufacturers and supporting organizations to use the brand. Members may also be interested to know that the Ontario Forest Industries Association was the very first participant. So the industry, and communities that depend on the industry, are on board with this very important buy-Ontario initiative. We now have 65 licensees, and that number continues to grow.

I’m not telling members anything that they don’t already know when I say that wood is renewable, reusable and recyclable, and it’s important to note that Ontario’s forestry sector is looking into the future. It’s embracing the emerging bio-economy and green technologies. In fact, the province’s forests have become the source for cutting-edge products and services like engineered wood for buildings, smart paper, bio-plastics and new green energy solutions. All of these products and services are experiencing increased global demand.

What can we do individually to mark National Forest Week? Get to know your local forest; plant a tree and take care of it; find out about the tree species that are native to Ontario; use Ontario wood for your next home renovation project; reflect on all the things in your home that are made from wood; and learn about preventing forest fires. There is much more we can do to develop a greater appreciation for all that forests mean to Ontario and its people. I urge all members to take some time this week to reflect on the vital importance of Ontario forests.

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

Ms. Laurie Scott: I’m pleased to rise today on behalf of my leader, Tim Hudak, and the PC caucus to mark National Forest Week. This week is a time to recognize and celebrate Ontario’s majestic and extensive network of forests. It’s also an opportunity to increase awareness about the importance of this natural resource and to learn more about how it’s managed and protected.

Ontario’s forests have played an integral role in the history, culture, economic and recreational life of Ontarians since the very beginning of our province. Two thirds of Ontario, or 71 million hectares, is covered by forests, the largest single component of our province’s geographic and ecological landscape. Unless you’ve had an opportunity to fly over our north, you can’t fully appreciate the scope and magnitude of our forests.

Ontario’s abundance of forests provides many ecological benefits, including serving as habitat for countless species, storing carbon, improving our water and air quality, and preventing soil erosion.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Ontarians and foreign visitors enjoy spending leisure time in our forests, participating in recreational activities such as fishing, hunting, camping, skiing, snowmobiling, and all the other recreational vehicles that go through there.

The theme of this year’s National Forest Week is “The Greenest Workforce,” which highlights the vital work done by forestry professionals in managing our forest resources. Forestry professionals are employed in logging, pulp and paper, forest outreach and education, forest sciences, and many other exciting and rewarding sectors. Many of our colleges and universities dedicate significant resources to preparing the next generation of foresters.

Although the forest industry provides Ontarians with 150,000 direct and indirect jobs—it used to be over 200,000—across 260 communities and is still an important part of our province’s economy, almost 44% of the direct forestry jobs in Ontario were lost between 2004 and 2011. Some of this decline can certainly be attributed to market conditions, particularly the collapse of the US housing market in 2008.

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However, an indisputable and significant contributing factor has been many of the misguided policies of the McGuinty-Wynne government. Over the last 10 years, dozens of logging operations and pulp and paper mills have been closed, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs in northern Ontario. As I indicated, the downsizing can be partially attributed to market conditions, but you cannot overlook the failed green energy policies of the McGuinty-Wynne government. They’ve driven up energy costs to unsustainable levels, forcing many mill operations to relocate to Quebec or other jurisdictions, taking those jobs with them.

Continuing uncertainty and instability pertaining to forest tenure and the ongoing unbalanced administration of the species-at-risk regulations have made a bad situation even worse. The aggressive expansion of protection for a wide variety of species has not reflected science or the realities on the ground.

You only have to look at the recent MNR proposals regarding caribou conservation to see how social and economic factors are not even being considered when proposals of this nature are being put together. The proposals regarding caribou include recovery efforts to restore historic caribou herds in parts of the north where caribou have not been seen since the 1890s. The impact of these proposals on the Abitibi River forest alone would result in sacrificing half of the entire forest volume, which would have devastating results on communities from North Bay to Hearst. Under this government, northerners themselves are starting to feel like endangered species.

So many decisions by MNR in recent years have not been based on science but rather a continuing desire to satisfy the singular demands of many special-interest groups that have supported this government over the years.

We launched our recent white paper in Thunder Bay last week: A Champion for Northern Jobs and Resources. We laid out a number of proposals which would result in a much faster recovery for the forestry industry.

We would reform the forest tenure system to ensure long-term stability and encourage much-needed investment. We’d guarantee a harvest allocation of at least 26 million cubic metres a year, which is nearly twice the actual current harvest level.

We’d amend species-at-risk legislation to ensure that social and economic impacts are duly analyzed and considered.

Despite the obstacles and roadblocks imposed by this government, the forestry companies that remain want to continue to ensure they have this valuable renewable resource and that it’s harvested sustainably so we can have it for future generations. They maintain the health of our forests and combat the spread of invasive disease.

There’s no question that our forest industry has faced challenges over the past decade under Liberal rule, yet there is great potential in Ontario for our forestry industry to once again be number one in North America.

Market conditions are poised for a major recovery. They need government policies that keep pace and do not restrict investment and certainty. We want a prosperous forestry industry. We need renewed regulations imposed.

Mr. John Vanthof: I rise in the Legislature today on behalf of my New Democratic colleagues and our leader, Andrea Horwath, to acknowledge National Forest Week. Coming from northern Ontario, like many of my colleagues do, we still know what thousands of miles and acres of forest look like. I believe the minister said there were over 85 billion trees. I don’t know how he counted that, but we’ll go with him.

Forests provide recreation—yes, they provide a lot of recreation—but they provide a lot of jobs. Forestry was one of the first industries in our province, and it continues to be the cornerstone of many parts of our province.

The value of the forest sector to the provincial economy was $11.9 billion in 2011, creating 150,000 direct and indirect jobs, most of them in rural and northern Ontario—an industry well worth celebrating, and deserving of recognition and discussion, since it’s still widely misunderstood.

Forestry is a totally renewable resource. It has a lot in common with agriculture. The main difference is, the growing cycle is much longer. A farmer plants and harvests a crop on an annual basis, while a forester’s harvest cycle could be 50 years or longer.

There is still a widely held misconception that trees are clear-cut without any planning for the future, which is false. It’s simply not in the interest of those who make their living from the forest to cut more than can be regenerated, because they would be jeopardizing their long-term future.

It’s not in the best interest of the people who work in the forest to jeopardize species, because they live and breathe these species every day. It’s simply not in their best interest.

It’s also not in the government’s interest since 80% of our forest resource, or 57 million acres—or hectares; that’s a lot more—is on crown land. The government of Ontario oversees the management of crown forest, including commercial logging on over 27 million hectares.

The fact that the forest sector still created 150,000 jobs in Ontario in 2011 is truly amazing, considering the challenges it has faced within the last decade. In 2002-03, the harvest of fibre from crown forest was 24 million cubic metres. The demand dropped to 10.5 million cubic metres in 2009-10—a drop of more than half. This led to shock waves throughout the province. The list of closed mills, lost jobs and shattered dreams throughout the north is long. This shock, created in large part by the collapse of the housing market and the drop in demand for newsprint, was amplified by the actions of the Liberal government. At a time when global competition was fierce, Ontario mills were faced with rapidly increasing hydro rates. This led to processing moving to other provinces where rates are now half what they are in Ontario, more lost jobs and more raw fibre being exported out of the province.

The government responded with temporary rebate programs which do not provide the stability needed for long-term investment. At the same time, the government moved to change the forest tenure system, creating more confusion for a sector trying to come to grips with a rapidly changing world. The new tenure system has led to many problems for communities. Even as the sector begins to bounce back, these problems remain. The forest resource is tied to the company, not to the community, so the fibre can be trucked away, leaving the community to wither.

Now the sector is starting to rebound and some mills are starting back up, and what some mills are experiencing—they’ve put the plan together to fire up, like True North plywood in Cochrane, and they can’t access the fibre. So the tenure system is not working.

Another problem that has to be addressed is that some municipalities are facing MPAC reassessments and ARB decisions based on a change in value of the mills that basically could bankrupt municipalities like Elk Lake. The government has struck a committee to look at this. We have to do more than look at it. These communities were the ones who tried to help during the crisis, and now they’re being buffeted by the long-term effects of this.

These are some of the things that, during National Forest Week, we should actually—more than just appreciate trees; we should look at how we in this Legislature can fix problems that exist in this industry today.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It is now time for petitions. I’ll go to somebody I’d like to hear from a lot: Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke, please.

PETITIONS

ALGONQUIN LAND CLAIM

Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a petition signed by hundreds of property owners and residents in and around Aylen Lake. It is also supported by a resolution of the township of South Algonquin. I apologize to my colleagues, but this is going to take a bit of time. But I have assured these people that I will read the petition in full, as I only have one opportunity to do so.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the province of Ontario/MNR has ceded 117,500 acres of crown lands in the draft Algonquin treaty without any consultation with its citizens as to ‘crown land planning and decision-making’ nor did it engage in a process ‘that must be open and understandable by all’ both of which are requirements of the MNR’s publicly stated principles;

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

“Whereas the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) have recently concluded a draft treaty with the government of Canada and the government of Ontario;

“Whereas the land claim portion of the draft treaty includes 117,500 acres of crown lands for Algonquin ownership;

“Whereas less than 4% of all Ontario crown lands in the claim areas has been awarded to the AOO;

“Whereas the geographic area known as the riding of Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke contains 80% of those crown lands ceded to the AOO yet only four (4) Algonquin communities of the ten (10) Algonquin communities reside in the Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke riding area, leaving six (6) Algonquin communities to share a disproportionate 20% of those crown lands in the claim area;

“Whereas the Aylen Lake community consists of 260 property owners representing only approximately 500 acres of private lands around Aylen Lake;

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“Whereas the draft treaty cedes 1,800 acres of crown lands to the AOO in and around Aylen Lake;

“Whereas lakefront crown land sales were ended in 1972 by the government of the day stating that many lakes were sensitive to growth and environmental concerns also prompted that decision to cease the sale of such lands;

“Whereas Aylen Lake and Balfour Lake have been identified as scarce and sensitive ‘trout lakes’ in a publication by the province of Ontario in May 2006 entitled ‘Inland Ontario Lakes Designated for Lake Trout Management,’ and Aylen Lake and Balfour Lake are included in 1% of all lakes in Ontario being protected ‘by the province’;

“Whereas the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources official “Basic Principles that Guide MNR in Managing Crown Lands’ states as one of its principles: ‘The public, interest groups and stakeholders must be actively involved in crown land use planning and decision-making,’ and further, ‘All clients must be treated fairly; principles and processes behind land management decisions must be open and understandable to all’;

“Whereas the MNR defines clients as ‘... from private citizens and interest groups to corporations and other ...’;

“Whereas citizens of Ontario in the land claim area should have been consulted and had some of their concerns reflected in the granting of specific parcels of crown lands in the land claim area by the province of Ontario;

“Whereas the province of Ontarios/MNR has granted 117,500 acres of crown lands to the AOO in their draft treaty in clear violation of their own publicized fundamental principles as there has not been any involvement whatsoever with ‘the public, interest groups, and stakeholders’ in the decision-making which granted crown lands to the AOO and the distribution of where these ceded crown lands are located;

“Whereas the undersigned recognize the need for an Algonquin treaty but take exception to the province of Ontario/MNR’s failure to follow its own principles and policies for the involvement of its clients in the province/MNR’s actions;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, hereby request that the province of Ontario/Ministry of Natural Resources engage in meaningful dialogue with its citizens/clients affected by the allocation of crown lands as mandated and directed in the MNR’s stated principles referred to hereinbefore with a view to altering or relocating some of the ceded crown lands by the province of Ontario while maintaining the quantum acreage of 117,500 acres of crown lands granted in the draft Algonquin treaty;

“Whereas the province of Ontario/MNR has ceded 117,500 acres of crown lands in the draft Algonquin treaty without any consultation with its citizens as to ‘crown land planning and decision-making’ nor did it engage in a process ‘that must be open and understandable by all’ both of which are requirements of the MNR’s publicly stated principles;

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

“Therefore we, the undersigned, hereby request that the province of Ontario/Ministry of Natural Resources engage in meaningful dialogue with its citizens/clients affected by the allocation of crown lands as mandated and directed in the MNR’s stated principles referred to hereinbefore with a view to altering or relocating some of the ceded crown lands by the province of Ontario while maintaining the quantum acreage of 117,500 acres of crown lands granted in the draft Algonquin treaty.”

I hereby affix my name and pass it down with Katherine.

ONTARIO COLLEGE OF TRADES

Mr. Bill Walker: Mine won’t be quite so voluminous.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario’s tradespeople are subject to stifling regulation and are compelled to pay membership fees to the unaccountable College of Trades; and

“Whereas these fees are a tax grab that drives down the wages of skilled tradespeople; and

“Whereas Ontario desperately needs a plan to solve our critical shortage of skilled tradespeople by encouraging our youth to enter the trades and attracting new tradespeople; and

“Whereas the current policies of the McGuinty/Wynne Liberal government only aggravate the looming skilled trades shortage in Ontario;

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

“To immediately disband the College of Trades, cease imposing needless membership fees and enact policies to attract young Ontarians into skilled trade careers.”

I support this petition and will send it with page James.

FISHING AND HUNTING REGULATIONS

Mr. John O’Toole: A petition from my riding of Durham 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” many remote areas, “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” guidelines “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 a booklet format to everyone who needs one,” when and where they need it.

I’m pleased to support this on behalf of Guy Foley and Roger Kay, both constituents of mine who are outdoors people.

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 expensive surcharges such as the global adjustment and debt retirement charges.”

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

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Petitions? The member for Durham.

JURY DUTY

Mr. John O’Toole: Thank you, Speaker. I’m surprised that the whip didn’t do it—or the Minister of Agriculture, rather.

“Whereas completing jury duty presents many challenges to seniors (travel, health, financial);

“Where service as a juror may cause significant harm for those dependent on the individual selected for jury duty;

“Whereas the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan as well as the Yukon territory all provide opportunities for jury duty exemption”—

Interjections.

Mr. John O’Toole: I’m having difficulty hearing—“for persons over the age of 65;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, ask that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario allow individuals over the age of 65; those in sole care of children under the age of seven that are not in full-day school; or those in sole care of individuals with health or mental health illness requiring constant care the option of being exempt from jury duty with the option for individuals with permanent health conditions to be exempted permanently from being a juror” or the ability to opt out completely based on age.

I’m pleased to sign and support this on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Durham and present it to page Kyle.

MARKDALE HOSPITAL

Mr. Bill Walker: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

“Whereas the community of Markdale rallied to raise $13 million on the promise they would get a new state-of-the-art hospital in Markdale;

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

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

I highly support this and will pass it off to page James and send it to the Clerks’ table.

HYDRO RATES

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): The member for—help me.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I didn’t know if you were looking past me. This will be shorter, Speaker: a petition on the global adjustment charge on hydro bills.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Auditor General of Ontario defines the global adjustment charge on hydro bills as ‘mostly consisting of the difference between the market price and the price paid to generators as set by the board for OPG or under contract with the government or the OPA’; and

“Whereas the Auditor General says the global adjustment has been rising steadily over the last few years and is expected to continue to rise from $700 million (prior to the 2009 passage of the Green Energy Act) to $8.1 billion by 2014; and

“Whereas the Liberal government’s 2010 fall economic statement stated that hydro bills are expected to rise 46% by 2015, and that new renewable power generation would account for 56% of that increase; and

“Whereas small to mid-sized businesses across Ontario are seeing the global adjustment portion of their monthly hydro bills increase significantly to the point that it is now larger than the actual energy portion of their bills; and

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“Whereas many of those businesses are now delaying investment or hiring, or both, and considering either closing or moving outside of the province of Ontario as a result of delivered-to-market industrial energy rates that are now the highest in North America;

“We, the undersigned, do hereby petition the government of Ontario to reverse course on its expensive energy policy by cancelling the feed-in tariff (FIT) subsidies and treating Ontario’s energy as an economic development tool so that it once again is a competitive advantage for Ontario in retaining and attracting jobs and investment.”

I affix my name and send it down with Jasper.

PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKERS

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

“Whereas current community care access centre personal support worker guidelines do not provide a clear indication of whether PSWs are allowed to support patients’ activities outside the home; and

“Whereas patient health is best ensured through an active, healthy lifestyle that may involve activities outside the patient’s home; and

“Whereas the spirit of community care includes patient access to their community’s healthy lifestyle resources;

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

“To enact all necessary statutes that would allow personal support workers and other community care access centre staff to support their patients and clients both in the home and in necessary activities in their communities.”

I will be passing this off to the page. Thank you.

HORSE RACING INDUSTRY

Mr. Bill Walker: I’m honoured to rise to present a petition.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the horse racing industry employs approximately 60,000 people, creates $1.5 billion in wages and $2 billion in recurring expenditures annually; and

“Whereas the partnership that was created between government and the horse breeding and racing industry has been a model arrangement and is heralded throughout North America, with 75% of revenues going to the provincial government to fund important programs like health care and education, 5% to the municipalities and only 20% goes back to the horse business; and

“Whereas the horse business is a significant source of revenue for the farming community and rural municipalities;

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

“That the Ministry of Finance continue the revenue-sharing partnership with the horse racing industry for the benefit of Ontario’s agricultural and rural economies.”

I support this and will send it with page Ravicha.

ONTARIO COLLEGE OF TRADES

Mr. Bill Walker: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario’s tradespeople are subject to stifling regulation and are compelled to pay membership fees to the unaccountable College of Trades; and

“Whereas these fees are a tax grab that drives down the wages of skilled tradespeople; and

“Whereas Ontario desperately needs a plan to solve our critical shortage of skilled tradespeople by encouraging our youth to enter the trades and attracting new tradespeople; and

“Whereas the current policies of the McGuinty/Wynne Liberal government only aggravate the looming skilled trades shortage in Ontario;

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

“To immediately disband the College of Trades, cease imposing needless membership fees and enact policies to attract young Ontarians into skilled trade careers.”

I support it and will send it to the Clerks’ table with Ravicha.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Unfortunately, that concludes the time we have available for petitions this afternoon.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

NON-PROFIT HOUSING
CO-OPERATIVES STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 MODIFIANT DES LOIS
EN CE QUI CONCERNE
LES COOPÉRATIVES DE LOGEMENT
SANS BUT LUCRATIF

Mr. Naqvi, on behalf of Mrs. Jeffrey, moved third reading of the following bill:

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 / Projet de loi 14, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les sociétés coopératives et la Loi de 2006 sur la location à usage d’habitation en ce qui concerne les coopératives de logement sans but lucratif et apportant des modifications corrélatives à d’autres lois.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate? I recognize the Minister of Labour.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Thank you very much, Speaker, for recognizing me and giving me the opportunity to speak on this very important bill. I will be sharing my time with the member for Thunder Bay–Atikokan, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, on this bill.

I rise in the House today to begin third reading debate on Bill 14, a bill to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, and the Co-operative Corporations Act. I’m pleased to speak on the third reading of legislation that, if passed, would help support affordable housing for Ontarians by bringing increased fairness, cost effectiveness and accessibility to Ontario’s co-operative housing sector.

To begin, I would like to express my gratitude to the committee for its expediency in reviewing this bill. Speaker, it’s excellent to see how fast this bill has progressed. In fact, this bill was not amended at committee, and I thank all parties for their support in pushing forward this very important bill.

This legislation is the result of a process that started almost a decade ago. Since 2004, extensive consultation has been conducted among the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of the Attorney General and key housing sector stakeholders on changes to legislation requested by co-op housing providers. I’m pleased to say that these stakeholders have expressed their support for the proposed changes, and the consultations have resulted in the action our government is taking to support co-operative housing in Ontario.

In particular, Speaker, I would like to thank the Co-operative Housing Federation for its support. I’m really happy to note that there are some representatives from the organization who are present, who have come again and again and again to the many hours of debate that have taken place in this House, and who have advocated for this particular bill for some time. I want to recognize the presence of Dale Reagan; Diane Miles; Simone Swail; Judy Shaw; and my very good friend and friend, I believe, of every single person in this Legislature, Mr. Harvey Cooper. Thank you very much. Harvey in particular has been an amazing force in making us recognize these changes and how important these changes are.

I also, on a personal level and on a local level, want to thank CHASEO, the Co-operative Housing Association of Eastern Ontario, which is based out of my riding of Ottawa Centre, for their advocacy for this bill, for the great job they do in serving co-operatives in my community in Ottawa and eastern Ontario writ large, and for making sure that we have more co-operative housing in our community and that those who live in co-operative housing are well looked after. So I want to thank them as well.

The federation has done outstanding work in representing the multiple co-op members and co-op boards across Ontario. The federation is committed to co-operative housing as an essential component of Canada’s overall housing sector, and to maintaining and promoting a strong co-operative housing sector here in Ontario, a position shared by our government.

The federation and its 510 member housing co-ops across the province have long advocated for changes to the legislation governing the existing co-op tenure dispute resolution process. This is a process that has been characterized as complex, costly and time-consuming. Ontario’s non-profit co-operating housing providers need to have access to a process that allows for the termination of occupancy agreements in a way that is efficient and cost-effective. Our government has committed to making this happen and to making the co-op tenure dispute resolution process more transparent, accessible and fair for both residents and co-ops.

The federation has been very supportive of the amendments proposed in this resulting bill and has been instrumental in ensuring that it meets the needs of the co-operative housing community. The federation has also gone on the record to call our proposed legislation good public policy.

We also want to streamline the internal decision-making process of co-ops. The proposed changes to the Co-operative Corporations Act would make it clear that decisions made by a co-op’s board could be appealed to the co-op membership. However, this would apply only if appeals are permitted by the co-op’s bylaws.

Finally, our proposed legislation would also permit the Landlord and Tenant Board to waive or defer fees for low-income individuals. This proposed power to waive fees would not only be limited to applications related to co-op tenure disputes, but it would also apply to all fees the Landlord and Tenant Board charges for landlord and tenant matters.

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Non-profit co-ops have played a vital role in Ontario’s affordable housing system since the 1970s. In Ontario, there are approximately 550 not-for-profit housing co-ops, with 44,000 households, providing housing to approximately 125,000 people.

Co-ops are located in large cities and smaller communities. They support the principle of mixed-income communities. They form the basis of communities in which children have the opportunity to grow up in a healthy neighbourhood, surrounded by people of various backgrounds, abilities and occupations. These are communities where all citizens can be proud to live. Co-ops provide homes that serve as a foundation to build a better life for members, their families and their neighbours. That is one important reason why our government supports the co-op housing sector.

Our government wants to help make sure that all Ontarians have access to affordable housing. We know that a strong housing sector includes a healthy co-op sector. Our government recognizes the role that housing plays in supporting the growth and health of communities across Ontario. This is why we developed the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. It is the first of its kind in Ontario, and we have made significant progress on our housing agenda. Our Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy sets a strong foundation for a more efficient, accessible system for those who need safe, affordable housing.

During our consultations on the strategy, we heard that the existing housing system was too complicated and created obstacles for those in need. The people delivering the housing programs told us that the system was a barrier to administering the best possible services to those in need.

Our strategy transformed the affordable housing system in Ontario. Our strategy focused on four key pillars: putting people first, creating strong partnerships, supporting affordable options, and accountability.

The Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy provides municipalities and housing providers with greater flexibility to deliver housing services, recognizing that communities have different housing needs. The increased flexibility helps ensure that resources are allocated to meet local needs and improve outcomes for people. It also helps make sure services are accountable and on the right track.

Affordable housing provides many benefits to families, but our economy benefits as well. People with secure housing are better prepared to enter the workforce. Affordable housing projects create thousands of jobs, mostly in the local community. That’s why, in the midst of fiscal constraints, we continue to invest in affordable housing.

Since 2003, Speaker, the Ontario government has committed almost $3 billion for affordable housing. Ontario is supporting the creation of over 17,000 affordable rental housing units, making more than 263,000 repairs and improvements to existing units. We have now committed more than $295 million for this program and are already seeing results on the ground. During 2012, more than 600 households were no longer in need of affordable housing, and more than 130 other households across the province received rent supplements to help them stay in their homes. These are important steps we have taken to support affordable housing in Ontario.

Speaker, our government now wants to take another step to help families. Bill 14, if passed, would make some long-needed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act and the Co-operative Corporations Act, based on the principles of efficiency, cost-effectiveness and fairness.

Currently, the dispute resolution process for co-op housing is governed by the Co-operative Corporations Act. Under this act, co-ops must go through a lengthy process in the courts to resolve co-op tenure disputes. The primary focus of our proposed legislation is to move most co-op tenure disputes from the more costly courts to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

However, we recognize that many of the bylaws governing co-ops are unique to this type of housing model. The Co-operative Corporations Act provides a solid framework for housing co-ops to create their bylaws, so it would continue to govern evictions that are based on grounds not provided for under the Residential Tenancies Act. Because co-op bylaws are not recognized as grounds for a Landlord and Tenant Board application under the Residential Tenancies Act, they would not be affected by this bill.

The scope of this bill would also include Residential Tenancies Act violations, such as rent arrears, illegal behaviour or wilful damage to rental property. In those cases, co-op providers will apply for a hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board.

The amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act and the Co-operative Corporations Act would also clarify how co-op tenure disputes are judged when they proceed through either the courts or the Landlord and Tenant Board. Cases would be judged not solely on whether the proper process was followed, but on the merits of the case. Previously, the courts would assess whether or not a co-op’s internal dispute resolution process was followed in making their determination. This amendment would clarify that an eviction would not be overturned due to a minor procedural irregularity made by the co-op board.

As I have stated, the intention of these amendments is to make the co-op tenure resolution process more efficient, cost-effective, accessible and transparent for all parties involved. The Landlord and Tenant Board is equipped to resolve rental unit eviction disputes more quickly and affordably than the courts. It also provides tenants and landlords with timely access to specialized, expert, balanced and effective dispute resolution. The board’s offices are located across the province and provide convenient service when and where people need it. The board is governed by principles we can all respect: those of fairness, accessibility, customer focus and timeliness.

I hope that all members recognize the benefits of this proposed legislation. Our government has made it a priority to ensure that families have a safe, secure and affordable place to live. Making co-op dispute resolution more efficient, cost-effective and transparent is an important step in attaining that goal.

We recognize the value of co-operative housing to families and individuals across Ontario, and we know that by working to reduce legal fees and helping resolve disputes in a more timely fashion for co-op members and providers, we help support affordable housing in our province. I hope that, in the spirit of partnership and our mutual goal to improve co-op housing in this province, all members will support this important bill.

Speaker, I believe the rest of my time will be taken by the member for Thunder Bay–Atikokan. I want to thank the members for supporting this important bill and I look forward to its speedy passage in this Legislature.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): The member for Thunder Bay–Atikokan.

Mr. Bill Mauro: Speaker, thank you very much. I’m pleased to take part in the third reading debate of Bill 14, a bill to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, and the Co-operative Corporations Act.

The people of Ontario deserve the greater fairness, efficiency, accessibility and transparency that these amendments bring to the co-op tenure dispute resolution process. This legislation, if passed, would improve the way non-profit co-op housing boards and their members resolve tenure disputes in Ontario.

Let me speak for a moment about the current status of Ontario’s co-op housing sector.

Any discussion of the sector needs to include the co-op housing federation. The Co-operative Housing Federation represents housing co-ops throughout Canada and has been a long-time advocate of legislation that would help ensure that decisions related to tenure disputes are fair to both co-ops and their members.

In our province, the federation’s Ontario region office promotes the successful operation of housing co-ops by offering services, including education, to meet their clients’ unique needs. It also promotes the growth of co-op housing across the province. The organization also defends the interests of its members and works with regional federations to help co-ops build links with municipal governments. I know many of us in this House, from all three parties, have heard Harvey Cooper speak passionately about getting this bill passed.

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Our government values the role played by the federation. We share its commitment to maintaining a strong and growing co-operative housing sector. Our goal is to improve the current process for terminating occupancy agreements for co-ops by making it less complex, time-consuming and costly.

There are other values and universal principles that guide the entire co-op sector that make it a model for affordable housing in Ontario. Co-ops are democratically governed. Policy decisions are arrived at through the active participation of members based on the principle of one member, one vote. As in any good democracy, elected representatives are accountable to the membership. Co-op members contribute to and democratically control the capital of the co-operative, and at least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative.

The members control their co-ops as autonomous organizations. It is the members who democratically decide if the co-op will enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources.

Co-ops provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees, and share these resources and other tools with other co-ops around the world. They also strive to inform the general public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of co-operatives. Part of that effort includes working for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

Many co-ops are also participating in the federation’s 2020 Vision program, designed to help co-ops look at their community values, the quality of their management, governance and environmental sustainability.

Co-ops are open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership without any form of discrimination. Co-ops place special emphasis on engaging and empowering youth, while also finding ways to meaningfully involve seniors in their communities as well.

I think it’s important to note that many of those who help run co-ops do so voluntarily. The people they serve are their neighbours and their friends, and the work they do enhances the lives of people living in Ontario. In summary, it’s a forward-thinking attitude and the values of an inclusive and accepting environment that make co-ops exceptional. Because of these values, co-op housing can help build strong communities. These are values our government shares, and it is easy to see why everyone in this House, we hope, will be supporting this bill.

The proposed legislation would amend the Residential Tenancies Act and the Co-operative Corporations Act to move most co-op tenure disputes from the courts to the Landlord and Tenant Board. Under the Residential Tenancies Act, the Landlord and Tenant Board is responsible for resolving rental housing disputes. In this capacity, the board has a dual mandate. First, the Landlord and Tenant Board exercises a quasi-judicial function by hearing and determining all questions of law and fact under the act. Second, the board is required to give information to landlords and tenants about their rights and obligations.

The board handles a large volume of cases due to the significant number of renters in Ontario, which represent approximately 29% of Ontario’s households. Annually the board hears about 80,000 cases. About 55,000 of those, or 68% of these, relate to landlords evicting tenants, usually due to rental arrears.

The board provides and delivers an efficient and high-quality service to its tenants and the landlords. At present, co-op tenure disputes, on the other hand, need to be brought before the courts. The number of cases is estimated to be about 350 per year.

If passed, this legislation would mean that the same protections, most of the same benefits and the same responsibilities afforded to landlords and tenants facing tenure disputes under the Residential Tenancies Act would be extended to co-op providers and their members.

A co-op member facing eviction would now have the right to a hearing before the board and have better access—and I think this is key to underscore, Speaker—to affordable legal representation, such as paralegals and on-site duty counsel.

Both the co-op providers and members would be able to seek mediated settlements. This means the provider and member could ask a mediator from the board or outside the board to try to help them reach their own agreement.

Mediators assist the parties in focusing on their interests so they can find potential solutions to satisfy these interests. This process can be more collaborative and more informal, and can often feel fairer to the parties involved.

In all cases, tenure dispute resolution applications would be based on merit, giving co-op providers and members equal opportunity to present all the facts they believe are relevant to the board.

Specifically, under the proposed legislation, co-ops would be able to seek resolutions to disputes through the Landlord and Tenant Board for such things as arrears, persistent late payment of rent or housing charges, illegal behaviour, interfering with reasonable enjoyment, and willful damage.

Tenure disputes outside the scope of the act, however, would continue to be handled through the internal, democratic co-op eviction process and the courts. Because co-ops are governed democratically through a board elected by their members, this process is being retained. Co-op members can still vote to establish bylaws that set out grounds for evictions that are not provided for under the act.

The proposed legislation would also amend the Co-operative Corporations Act to streamline and improve the current internal eviction processes of non-profit co-op housing.

This proposed legislation would make the dispute resolution process fairer, simpler and more accessible, while protecting the autonomous nature of housing co-operatives. While co-op members would not have the right to make applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board, the rights of co-op members to use internal co-op processes and to apply to the courts regarding co-op issues would be maintained.

Current co-op law and policies regarding housing charges and other requirements of membership would remain the same, and the unique system of co-op housing would be recognized.

These rights have been put in place to protect both tenants and landlords and, if the legislation is passed, would be passed on to co-op providers and members as well.

The main goal of this legislation is to streamline the dispute resolution process mandated by the co-op corporations act. We want to accomplish it by simplifying the internal process and shortening the time required to resolve these disputes.

By allowing for the use of the expertise of the Landlord and Tenant Board, our proposed legislation, if passed, would allow access to established infrastructure and procedures designed to deal with tenure disputes.

Bringing cases before the Landlord and Tenant Board may bring additional safety benefits to co-op providers and members. A fast-track eviction process is provided by the Residential Tenancies Act under special circumstances such as illegal drug activity or any activity seriously impairing the safety of others. The fast-track provisions cut the eviction process time approximately in half, and include the following: Hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board are scheduled more quickly; the eviction order must include a request that the sheriff speed up the enforcement of the eviction; and the board may order the tenant to be evicted immediately.

Still, under the act, every tenant facing eviction has the right to a hearing at the board. Disputes would be fairer to tenants, as cases would be judged on merit rather than on procedure. The new approach would make the co-op tenure dispute process more responsive but also cost-effective.

By design, they are adapted to support low-income individuals and families, many of whom straddle the line of poverty, which is what makes them so important to the fabric of Ontario society. I would also mention that our proposed legislation would allow the Landlord and Tenant Board to waive or defer fees for low-income individuals.

As you know, one of our government’s priorities is to move as many Ontarians out of poverty as possible. In December 2008, our government announced its first five-year poverty reduction commitment. Our poverty reduction strategy has helped Ontario’s children and families, even in the face of a significant economic downturn.

We remain committed to giving children opportunities to succeed in life, breaking down barriers for low-income Ontarians and working together with our community partners to build a stronger Ontario and a brighter future.

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Some 40,000 children have been lifted out of poverty since 2008. Over one million children in 530,000 families are being helped by the Ontario Child Benefit. Almost 122,000 kids are getting a stronger start in about 1,700 schools through full-day kindergarten. Nearly 33,000 children and young people who may have otherwise gone untreated are receiving free dental care through Healthy Smiles Ontario. An additional 13,000 young people are getting help finding jobs and opportunities through the youth action plan. An estimated 20,000 more children and young people are getting faster and easier access to the right mental health supports, with 600 new mental health workers in schools, communities and the courts.

Now, in the final year of the strategy, we are as committed as ever to continuing to work together to find lasting solutions and to break the cycle of poverty.

We also developed a long-term affordable housing strategy to reduce poverty in Ontario. With this strategy, we aim to improve access to adequate, suitable and affordable housing. Safe, affordable housing provides a solid foundation on which to secure employment, raise families and build strong communities.

We were told through our consultations on the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy that the housing system in its current form was very complicated and created unnecessary barriers. Due to the complex nature of the system, those who deliver the housing programs told us that it was difficult to provide the best possible services to those in need.

Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy is founded on co-operation with local governments and housing providers throughout the province to find the best solutions that we can. Together, we’re creating flexibility for municipalities to allocate resources and meet their local needs.

In conclusion, working together, we can ensure a strong housing sector that serves all Ontarians. That includes co-op housing providers and their members. The co-operative housing sector provides an important and viable choice for Ontario families.

The legislation we propose would make the co-op housing sector fairer, more cost-effective and accessible. By strengthening the co-op housing sector, we are supporting affordable and secure housing for families throughout Ontario.

Speaker, I urge all members to support this important piece of legislation and make a real difference in the lives of working families and for Ontario’s most vulnerable households.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Steve Clark: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I just want to welcome Mayor Jim Pickard and Melanie Kirkby, who are here from the township of Elizabethtown-Kitley for a meeting with the Minister of Rural Affairs. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

I would like to provide a couple of minutes of questions and comments. I appreciate the minister and the member for Thunder Bay–Atikokan for mentioning the committee. The Legislative Assembly committee dealt with this matter, I feel, in a very expeditious way. I had tabled a motion that we deal with deputants and clause-by-clause at the same meeting. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but we did deal with committee without amendment so that it could be reported for third reading.

I also want to just take people back. On that day, there was a lot of co-operation that took place at the Legislative Assembly. Not only did we deal with Bill 14—the Financial Accountability Office legislation was already programmed in that committee, I might suggest—but we were also able to have some agreement to be able to schedule Bill 70, which is a private member’s bill, that I think we all supported, about spousal exception. We supported moving forward on Bill 55, which was a government bill; and we also helped facilitate the New Democrats in getting Bill 49, Mr. Prue’s tip-out bill, before committee.

Applause.

Mr. Steve Clark: Yes, absolutely. Give Mr. Prue a round of applause for that.

I think it proved, certainly as a Progressive Conservative, that we were willing to get some of these pieces of legislation that we agree with moving forward to committee and back to the House.

I appreciate members of the Legislative Assembly committee making things happen, and I look forward to some very concise comments when it comes to my turn after these questions and comments.

I’m pleased to support this bill. I think it needs swift passage to help the co-op sector. I appreciate being a part of having a much better experience with Bill 14 than we had with Bill 65 in the last session.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments.

Mr. Michael Prue: I listened intently to my two colleagues, the Minister of Labour and the member from Thunder Bay–Atikokan. Time will only permit me, I think, to comment on one of the speeches, so I’d like to zero in on what the Minister of Labour had to say. He had me; throughout most of the speech, I was thinking, “I’m in agreement. I’m in agreement. I’m in agreement,” until he started talking about the Liberals’ wonderful record on providing housing. At that point, I have to say, I was completely lost, because the long-term housing strategy has been an abysmal failure under this government. If ever there was a failure, the 157,000 families on the waiting list in Ontario can tell you that your plan is not working. The 87,000 families who are on the waiting list in Toronto alone can tell you that your strategy is not working.

In terms of how much money is being spent—and he was very proud of that—Ontario ranks last of all 10 provinces and the territories in the amount of money we spend producing housing. A meagre $64 per capita is all we spend—less than half of what most of the other provinces are spending.

There has been absolutely no action taken by this government, over all of its 10 years in office, on inclusive zoning, which would allow housing to be built, and so many people in this province—one out of every five—pay more than 50% of their entire incomes on housing, and there is no real plan that the government has brought forward.

This bill is going to help a very small amount, and we’re going to support it, because it’s a good bill, but please, when you’re talking, don’t say what a good job you’re doing on housing when none of that is correct.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments.

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: It’s a pleasure to join the debate today on Bill 14. It seems like, from what I’m hearing from those across the floor, this bill may indeed have its day today. I think it has taken a while for us to get here, but all along that time span, what I’ve been hearing from the opposition parties and from the government is that, in general terms, we have agreement that this is a good bill, and it’s a bill that should move forward.

We were able to get it into the committee system, and we were able to hear from others around the province as to what they thought of the bill, and not a whole lot has changed. I think that the co-op housing federation came forward and said, “This is a bill that would really help our members. This is something that this Legislature should be taking a grip on, and some changes that should be made to allow us to run our co-ops more efficiently”—still fairly, but certainly more efficiently.

Currently, the disputes that may take place in a co-op housing environment have to go through the court system, and often just one simple eviction, for example, will take up the entire budget for the year that a co-op has set aside for its legal costs. It seems to me that, as members of all three parties, if we truly believe that the co-op housing sector plays an important role in the provision of housing in this province—it seems to me, by the passage of Bill 14, we will be able to enable co-op housing to play an even larger role, to do even more for the people in our province and for its own members.

A number of people came forward. I’ve got comments from people from Blue Heron Co-operative Homes, from the Halam Park Housing Co-operative in Hamilton and the Central Ontario Co-operative Housing Federation, and somebody came out from Kitchener. They were all saying pretty much the same thing: that this is a good bill, that the changes that are entailed in this bill are going to make it more efficient and more effective for the co-op housing movement. I’m hoping today that we see that move forward, finally.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): We have time for one more question and comment.

Mr. John O’Toole: This bill, as Mr. Clark and others have said, has been discussed until the cows come home. It’s good to see that it’s back here for third reading.

Technically, I would say that Harvey and his group, the co-op federation, have done a great job in shepherding this thing, to use the same analogy, to the point it is. I understand that our critic, Mr. Clark, will probably try to get this thing moving forward, and that’s the whole issue here. It’s pleasant that the Minister of Labour was here to talk about it, as well as others, but more has been said on this than done. They always talk about working for poverty in Ontario. This is one of the steps that still has to be taken.

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Our leader, Tim Hudak, made it very clear in question period today that we want to get on with things that will affect jobs and the economy. So if somebody is going to be delaying, dithering or denying—a lot has been said on this bill. It has been to committee. I understand that it’s a formality now—and even I am wasting time. I think we should get on with it and bring something substantive to the floor on jobs and the economy.

With that, I look forward to the remarks by our critic Mr. Steve Clark, from the great riding of Leeds–Grenville.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): One of the government members now has the opportunity to reply.

The member for Thunder Bay–Atikokan.

Mr. Bill Mauro: Thank you to the members from Leeds–Grenville, Beaches–East York, Oakville and Durham for their comments.

The member from Leeds–Grenville talked about the work at committee regarding Bill 70 and Bill 49. Our members on this side of the House, as well, were very happy to support both of those bills, and we look forward to the work that we’re going to do at committee around two of those. Most of us have heard a lot about Bill 70, specifically, and we look forward to that moving forward.

On Bill 14, we’re very happy to see, after a great amount of time—I’m not sure if it was all spent well. Nevertheless, in this place, things don’t always go as smoothly as you think they should. We are here with what is quite a simple, pointed and consequential bill. We’re getting closer to seeing third reading passage of this bill, and I think at the end of the day that’s all that we can all hope for and be thankful for. I see some nods from our guests in the east lobby, and we’re very thankful for that. At its core, it’s about tenure dispute resolutions not having to go to the courts under the Residential Tenancies Act. Of course, they have the rental tribunal available to them. That’s what this is going to do for members of co-ops and the co-op providers themselves.

I would say as well, Speaker, that we had about eight or 10 witnesses who came forward at committee last week, and there were a couple of folks who weren’t necessarily—they saw some pieces of the bill they weren’t supportive of. I would say that in response to those tenant concerns—there were a couple of other tenants who did make presentations, witnesses who were very supportive of the bill.

It was interesting. I’ve spent about 15 years in the social housing field, and I’ll tell you that tenants themselves have great concerns when some of their neighbours are perhaps not conducting themselves in a manner that they should. It affects their enjoyment of the property, the security of their children.

It was really pleasurable for us, as members on this side, to see that support from some of the tenant groups as well.

I thank all members for their comments and look forward to further debate.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Steve Clark: It’s a pleasure for me to provide some comments on Bill 14.

Again, I want to thank Dale, Harvey, Diane, Simone and Judy for being here from the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, for being so patient.

Listen, folks: I had an hour leadoff at second reading of Bill 65. I had an hour leadoff speech at second reading of Bill 14. The government used about 28 minutes for their speech. I’m not even going to use that. I don’t know who’s up next for the New Democrats, but I certainly won’t be using our hour.

Applause.

Mr. Steve Clark: Minister, you’re making me feel that you don’t like hearing me talk.

Anyway, I just want to make sure people are aware—and the reason why we’re not having a lot of debate today—the very first bill on Mr. Wilson’s programming motion that he was speaking of, the one we wanted unanimous consent, was about Bill 14. We only wanted it to come forward to debate for two hours when it was next called. We’re going to stand by that, from our perspective, and speak very short today, hoping that the bill will move forward.

Again, we don’t want bills that we agree upon, that were listed in Mr. Wilson’s letter to Mr. Milloy—and a copy to Mr. Bisson. We think we can clear the decks and deal with some job creation legislation because we have a plan. We know we have the plan that will get this province back firing on all cylinders to become the economic engine we all know it can be.

I want to thank the federation for their patience.

Again, I want to mention, as the previous speaker Mr. Flynn mentioned—and Mr. Mauro: There were some deputants who came to committee who weren’t particularly happy with the co-op sector. There were some issues that they felt needed to be addressed. I want to say on the record that I spoke to all three individuals and certainly communicated to the federation that I would hope that, although their concerns aren’t considered in Bill 14, there would be some dialogue between the federation and their co-ops and these members.

I think there’s an issue of governance. Obviously, when you’re dealing with people who are democratically elected, we need to be able to help them perform those democratic functions of managing co-ops. Again, I want to say publicly that I hope you’ll meet with these individuals and with their co-ops, try to become a mentor to them and try to solve some of the issues that they put on the record.

Certainly, I think we could have dragged on the hearings; there were some tenant issues. I had said countlessly, both in this House and in committee, that at some point this Legislature—the three parties—need to have some dialogues with tenants and landlords across this province, to deal with issues around the Landlord and Tenant Board. Certainly I brought it up in the House. I haven’t had a lot of uptake, although I might say that at Legislative Assembly, we did have sort of a very mini-co-operative discussion about that, and I hope that in the days and months ahead, we can plan for that and have that discussion and allow those people to be able to put their feelings on the record.

Again, with co-ops, I think we’re all big fans of co-ops. There are more than 550 non-profit housing co-operatives in Ontario. The thing that I’ve said at second reading, and I want to put on the record again today, is that it affects almost 90% of the members of the provincial Parliament. Of the 107 ridings, there are 95 ridings that have co-ops in them. I know that I have two co-ops. They’re vibrant communities within the city of Brockville, where I had the pleasure of being mayor for about nine years.

I just wish that we could find some co-operation between the three parties to be able to package the good things that happen in co-operatives and be able to use that as sort of a springboard to expand more affordable housing in the province. Certainly, it’s not from a lack of discussion of co-ops; we’ve been discussing co-ops over and over and over again. I want to again commend them.

We did get a chance, though—and I wanted to put this on the record too—to hear about some of the costs. I know that many of us, during second reading, talked about the fact that those few cases—I think there are about 300 cases—that make it out of the co-op democracy into the courts cost about $1 million. We had some co-ops that appeared before committee that would love to be able to expand their co-opportunities, to be able to provide more affordable housing units, so think about what that $1 million could have done in those local communities to facilitate affordable housing.

We heard at committee about the thousands of dollars that an individual co-op could cost by going to court to deal with their tenure dispute, so I’m pleased that we had that opportunity to discuss it.

Again, I made my comments clear at the start, that I believe there are far more pressing issues for the three parties to deal with in the Legislative Assembly. I know that my leader, Tim Hudak, and my House leader, Jim Wilson, were very clear this morning, as was I, that we believe we should move forward with these bills that Mr. Wilson listed, that we appear to have agreement upon, that appear to be non-controversial, and we can move forward, hopefully, with having the other parties buy into some of our plan to get people working in this province.

We’ve got half a million people who are out of work. I think that’s shameful, and I think that in a minority Parliament situation, we should do whatever we can do to clear the decks and get on to creating jobs and getting our great province back on the right economic footing.

That’s all I have to say. I’m not going to delay. I want this bill to pass. With that, I’m going to sit down and, hopefully, have minor questions and comments.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’m beginning to understand that down is up and up is down when it comes to the Conservatives.

First of all, my God, a Conservative speaking in favour of not-for-profit housing in either a co-op sector or any sector is just like—I just can’t believe it.

I remember a time when the Conservatives came into power after the loss of the NDP government, where we had been pretty aggressive in making sure that affordable housing was being built in this province. One Mike Harris, leader of the Conservative Party, then Premier, essentially turned it on its head. We haven’t really funded any not-for-profit housing, co-op or otherwise, in any serious kind of way since probably about 1995.

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That you all of a sudden have become a convert—I’ve got to say, something happened this weekend at your convention. I don’t know; it must have been one of those buttons you were looking at or something. It is just amazing that finally we have Conservatives onside, saying they believe in not-for-profit housing; they believe that the government has a role in being able to fund some of these things and that they’re a necessary part—

Interjection.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Oh, sorry. No, you’re not—

Interjection.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Oh, you liked one? I won’t say who said that. That was funny.

The other thing I would just say—boy, I know you like some of those buttons. I remember one in particular I saw.

The other thing I just want to say is that it’s interesting: all of a sudden the Conservatives saying they want to co-operate and they want to do things. But the record is, when we debated this at second reading, there were eight New Democrats who spoke, there were nine Liberals who spoke, and there were 29 Conservatives. Clearly, they were trying to hold this up. So all of a sudden, that they are saying they’ve found religion and they’re trying to find some way or other to basically come back and undo some of the filibustering they did last spring, I think, is interesting. So I look forward to a Legislature where up is down and down is up, where the Tories are doing whatever it is that they’re doing, and we’ll just see where it leads.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Bob Delaney: Speaker, the member for Thunder Bay–Atikokan, I think, put it very, very well. This is a bill that’s now in third reading. It’s a bill the province needs. I very much agree with my colleague from Leeds–Grenville, who, I may add, is just an excellent hockey player, and I’m looking forward to getting onto the ice with him again.

It’s now time to stop hearing the sound of our voices in the Legislature, get this bill to committee, get it passed and get it enacted.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Bill Walker: It’s my pleasure to make a few comments on my esteemed colleague from Leeds–Grenville, who is always out leading. He’s always working for his constituents; he’s always bringing the important issues to this House and ensuring that they are getting debated.

It’s great to see—what we tried this morning again is we tried to move things through Parliament so we can actually get to what Ontarians really want us to be talking about: How are these 500,000 to 600,000 people going to find work tomorrow? How are we going to pay down the debt so those children who are sitting in front of you don’t have a $20,000 deficit the day they’re born? How are we going to turn around this great province and be leaders once again?

Today the NDP stood up and yet again confounded us, because they voted against getting things through. They keep saying they’re the saviour of the world. For months in here, they called the Liberals corrupt, yet we all know what happened at budget time: They propped them up, Speaker.

I just want to commend all of my colleagues. We came here and said, “You know what? We’re going to work with this House. We’re going to work with the government to get things through, so we can be talking about the real issues—debt, jobs, and ensuring that Ontario is the leader in Confederation again.”

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Speaker, I have been here for a few years, and I have seen this group of people go from youth to middle age, watching this bill go through. They are extraordinarily resilient.

I have to say, Speaker, this bill—and I’m very pleased that it’s on third reading. I’m very pleased that there’s no indication of prorogation in the near future; that’s very good.

This bill allows housing co-ops to operate more efficiently and to contain their costs. It allows for open and democratic decision-making around termination of membership and, in general, makes it far more possible for these democratic communities to function in the way they were intended to function.

I am very pleased to say that I’ve had a long history with co-op housing. I was one of the group that got the Bain co-operative started in my riding back in the 1970s. I was a teenager then. Speaker, that co-op just recently held the 100th anniversary of the Bain apartments as a building. It was built originally as limited dividend housing by a number of the great families, the great wealthy families, in this city. It went through a period of limited dividend, a period when it was privately owned, a period with Toronto Community Housing, and it’s now a housing co-operative.

In discussions with people in that community, people who have lived there from the 1960s to now, the fact that they control their housing, that they have the democratic right to elect and appoint their management, that they have some greater control of their destiny, is of great consequence. What we do with this bill is simply continue putting faith in the democratic instincts of the people of this province.

Speaker, I look forward to having the vote called soon.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): That concludes the time for questions and comments. We return to the member for Leeds–Grenville for his reply.

Mr. Steve Clark: I want to thank, I think, the member for Timmins–James Bay. I want to thank the member from Mississauga–Streetsville—who is a heck of a goaltender, although I don’t know if he fights like the Leafs’ goaltender; I’ve never seen him fight like Bernier—and the members for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound and Toronto–Danforth. I appreciate some of the comments.

I don’t necessarily agree with what the member for Timmins–James Bay said. I put some comments on the record on our last day here in June, on behalf of our House leader, Jim Wilson, and talked about some of the bills he said, very publicly, that he wanted to pass. I think it’s pretty obvious that we were cut out of the discussion in the last sitting of Parliament. I think we’ve been pretty clear that there are some bills we can clear the deck on and get on to some more substantive issues about creating jobs and getting our economy back on track. That’s what we want to do.

I also don’t believe that meeting people from co-ops—I suggest we have co-ops of all political stripes represented. That’s one of the things I like about a co-op: I can have a good discussion with someone I may not agree with politically, but I certainly agree with them on how a co-op runs.

I was at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore anniversary in my riding on the weekend—not last weekend but the weekend before; I was in London last weekend. I was in the ReStore and was pretty proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish in Elizabethtown-Kitley.

I look forward to having this bill hopefully passed and moved forward, a sign that the three parties can actually get together and pass a bill that came out of committee unanimously. Hopefully we can be unanimous today and move it forward for these folks.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Michael Prue: It is indeed a privilege to be able to stand here and give a few words on this bill at third reading. It’s a good bill. I mean, I don’t think there has been any discussion throughout second reading of the bill, in committee or today that is anything except laudatory of where we’re going and what’s going to happen as a result.

I am particularly happy, though, to see the new spirit of co-operation that emerged this morning. I didn’t see this spirit of co-operation last week. I didn’t see the spirit of co-operation the week before that or back before we adjourned for the summer. But I do see that co-operation manifesting itself today, and it is a wonderful thing to behold. To all those who have decided we can now get things done by working together and finding common ground, I thank you, because that is really the way this Legislature should work, although all too often it is the way it does not.

This bill has taken a long time. This bill was a gleam in the eyes of those people sitting here in the gallery today. In 2004, they advocated for this bill. They came to this Legislature looking for support to say, “Can we pass the co-op bill?” It’s a relatively minor bill in terms of what it’s attempting to do; that is, streamline the process around evictions. That’s the major thing the bill does. In 2004, they wanted this because it was going to help the co-operative movement, and here we are, nine years later, about to do it.

Since 2007, this government said they were going to pass this bill, and the bill was relatively short. As I said, there’s not much contained within the bill. It’s a few amendments to the co-op housing act, and that’s what it is. And between the time when it was promised by the government, we’ve had prorogations, we’ve had elections being called, we’ve had bills reintroduced, we’ve had stalling, we’ve had filibusters, we’ve had everything else you can possibly imagine, only to come full circle today, where everybody is in approval of it.

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So I want to thank the people who are here today. I want to thank you, because you believed. There are many who would have walked away. There are many who would have gotten so frustrated in thinking that the day would ever come when members would stand in this House and say they were all in agreement and that we should pass a good bill, because it was a good bill.

Be that as it may, I’m very proud that we in this party have always supported this bill; we think that it should pass, and hopefully will pass today. In fact, I don’t know about the other parties, but I assume—since I am likely to be the only speaker for my party—that the others may not be putting up additional speakers as well. Maybe today will be the day that the co-op movement can put on a calendar, maybe declare it some kind of holiday and celebrate the 23rd of September every year as the day that the Legislature finally came to its senses and everybody there finally understood what needed to happen.

Co-ops are a very integral part of this province. There are 550 co-ops, I understand, housing 125,000 people—about 1% of the population of Ontario lives in a co-op. In my view, from my own understanding of co-ops in what I see in and around my riding in Beaches–East York, they are probably amongst the finest methods of housing or places where people live. If you want to look at a whole row of apartment buildings, and look at the one which is the best kept—the one with the nicest lawn, the one with the best flowers, the one with a lobby that’s welcoming and inviting, where everything seems to be clean and ordered—I will guarantee you, almost without a doubt, that that will be the co-op. That’s just the way it is.

I wish that there was more opportunity for co-ops. I know that at one time 25% or so of all the money that went into new affordable housing went to co-ops. Sadly, in Ontario, that’s down to about 4% today, and that is simply not good enough. If we are desirous of building affordable housing, we should leave the building of that affordable housing to the people who know how to do it the best—not exclusively, because there are some church groups and others who can do it fairly well as well, but I think that we should be investing and allowing more money to be invested in co-ops, in order to build the housing that we so desperately need in this province. We need to find homes for 187,000 people on the wait-list, especially—because I’m from Toronto—for the 67,000 families who are waiting here.

When you live in a co-op, I think you have an improved sense of community, and that’s why the buildings are the best. Not only do you have an improved sense of community but, because you know your neighbours—you have democratic interactions with them, there are local meetings held on improvements and changes to the co-op where you live—the social services that are provided there and the inclusion make everybody feel that they belong. Very often, it’s been my experience that when people live in a co-op, they don’t want to leave, so the turnover can be rather slow on occasion. People have their names down for a good long time trying to get into a co-op, as their preferred method of housing.

I think this bill will accomplish a great deal that’s already mostly been talked about, but just to reiterate a little bit: It will make sure that it is possible to send issues to the Landlord and Tenant Board as opposed to the courts. This will be an immense savings of up to $5,000 per case, as I am given to understand it, and by three or more months over the resolution system that we have now—that is, the courts. It’s going to save the co-ops money, but it’s also going to save the tenants money, as well, if they are facing eviction.

It’s going to help the residents, who may not be eligible for legal aid if they have to go to the court but would be eligible for mediation before the Landlord and Tenant Board, and it will free up the courts. It may not be monumental, but however many cases can be taken out of the court into a binding resolution dispute system like the Landlord and Tenant Board, that is better for our court system, because heaven knows that many of our cases drag out in the courts for far too long. Just to remove some of those cases will be a help to all Ontarians.

As I said, the co-ops will see a fairer, less costly system. They will see fees go down for themselves. They’ll see a faster process to get rid of those tenants who are not paying their rent or for whom there are problems. The members will see a fairer system, a less costly system for themselves. They won’t have to hire lawyers should matters end up in courts.

I want all of the members to support this, and then after we support this to turn our attention to some of the issues that my colleagues from the government spoke about earlier, about building affordable housing; about setting realistic targets for Ontario that we can actually meet, because we haven’t met them in the last few years; about putting some money aside in the budgets for projects of building new housing where it’s needed; about passing laws for inclusionary zoning to allow people throughout this province to live where they choose to live and where the buildings can be built; about putting in housing benefits for increasing numbers of our working poor who are having a hard time making ends meet; and for investing in the existing stock, much of which is 50 or more years old and is starting to show great signs of wear and tear. That’s where we need to turn our minds to, and we need to allow the co-op movement to do what they do best.

Back to the beginning where I started, Mr. Speaker: I think we need to pass the bill today, and I’m very hopeful that we will. I think we need to keep the commitment that we made to the co-op movement back in 2007, but we need to do more than that. We need not only to pass this bill but to recognize them for the type of really wonderful Ontarians that they are, for the service that they have provided and for the services that they will continue to provide. It’s not just enough to give them a dispute resolution system which is better than the existing one, but I think we need to understand how diligent and how strong they have been since 2004 to get this little tiny piece of legislation passed.

We need to reward them in other ways. We need to look them in the eyes and we need to say, “We trust the co-operative movement.” We know that it is able to build housing. We know that it is able to manage housing. We know that it is able to bring a sense of community to all those that require it. We know in our own hearts that we can do much more for those who need to live in a decent, clean, affordable place. These are the men and women who can do that.

As much as we are saying those things today about a dispute resolution system, we need to start working on increasing the numbers and qualities of affordable housing, and we need to start with the best partners we could ever have: those from the co-op housing movement. That would be my speech, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Like my colleague from Timmins–James Bay, I don’t know what happened this weekend at your convention, but I guess there was a bunch of the good, Bill Davis PC persons who were there and told them that Ontarians have elected a minority government, so you have to work together to adopt these good bills like Bill 14 that is just before me—those good PCs who built those 60 subway stations. So we hope that they took a lesson from them.

Bill 14: I’m a big fan of the co-op. I started my political career in social housing. Your government was in power at the time. I was not permitted to get the people involved in the construction. At the time, we were constructing a little bit of a Taj Mahal, where people didn’t have to contribute to the well-being of the project. They were sitting there, and there were paid people who were doing the cleanup, picking up after them, putting the garbage away and all of this. Even if I wanted to develop this new model on the basis of a co-op where everybody contributes—it’s like they are in their own home. There’s nobody to put out the garbage. I have to. When my husband is not there, I put the garbage out and I pick up the paper and all that is in the yard. But no, they didn’t want us to bring about this model.

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I congratulate every one of you who has been here for so many days. You should never have had to sit here for all these days. Let’s hope we’re going to adopt Bill 14 today.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Jim McDonell: I guess sometimes when you try to work with this government, you get criticized. We’re sitting back and want to see something on the table that’s actually going to get people back working. We’ve said that all along, and we just don’t see anything. They said they can’t get at anything important because they’re tied up with all these important bills that we see in front of us, like the wireless act, where the CRTC has already covered everything that’s in it. We’ve got the tanning beds. These are crucial things that will get people back to work. We’re saying that if that’s the case, let’s get these off the docket and see if you have something that will actually get people working. We don’t believe it, but maybe there is something. I know the government’s getting tired and is out of ideas. We’re willing to work with them. We’ve been offering ideas.

I see that today there was unanimous approval asked—and it was turned down again—to get things moving. We don’t know who is actually holding things up, whether it’s the third party or the Liberals.

Anyway, people have told us that they want to see some ideas, and we’re anxious to see if there are ideas on the other side. We’ll work through that. I think it’s getting crucial. We see what’s happened to Detroit, going bankrupt. We have to start attacking our debt. We have to start doing things that will actually stop putting the bill on our grandchildren and our children. I think it’s only right that we start paying for things before we have no money left to pay for important services and benefits and health care, because we’ll be paying insurance at such a level that we’ll have nothing left.

Interjections.

Mr. Jim McDonell: I hear a lot of chatter from the third party, so I’m looking forward to hearing what’s being said. It’s time for something more than just chatter.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Of course I appreciate, as always, the opportunity to rise and speak to the bills that are before us. As I gather, this bill has been before this Legislature many, many times, in various incarnations, and I want to applaud those who are here today again witnessing due process of the Legislature and hoping that it happens expediently, as do those who are members of co-operatives. Of course, folks would know that in—

Interjections.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Speaker, I would hope you’d get on top of the heckling that’s happening in here going on here—and it’s coming from my own members.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): The member for Timmins–James Bay, come to order.

Member for Essex.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you, Speaker. I couldn’t even hear myself think here.

My point was—now that I’ve got everyone’s attention; that was a great interjection, Speaker—that in the New Democratic caucus we appreciate what co-operatives bring. In fact, those of you would know that our original party was the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the CCF. It makes up a large component of our belief system. The fact that various folks and aspects of our society can come together to further our cause and, in this case, further affordable housing—what a wonderful endeavour, what a wonderful initiative, one that this government certainly should promote. We’ve heard eloquently from the member from Beaches–East York, who has a long history in terms of municipal housing and working on those types of campaigns, that this government hasn’t done enough. Here’s one small step—one that we can act on immediately. I certainly look forward to getting things done early enough in this session that we can head back to our ridings in the winter and know that we actually accomplished something.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): The member for Oakville.

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I’ve heard all three parties speak on this bill now. It has had exhaustive debate. We’ve got some people from the co-op housing federation who have joined us, I think, for just about every day and every hour of that debate. They’re so close to having this passed, I think they can taste it. To allow this to go on any more I think would be getting to the point of cruelty, so I would ask that we call the vote soon and let these people have what they came for.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

I’m sorry; I apologize. The member for Beaches–East York has two minutes to reply.

Mr. Michael Prue: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Although I can agree with my colleague from Oakville, I think the people here are going to have to listen to two more minutes.

I want to thank the Minister of Community Safety, the member from Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry, the member from Essex and the member from Oakville for their comments.

I think what has been said here over the last hour or so has been really quite poignant. It’s been important, and I hope it makes people realize that the purpose and the reason that we are here is not always—although sometimes it can be good-natured—to poke fun at each other, not always to say that the other side is wrong, but to look to the commonality, to look to what is important in the legislation and what is required in the province of Ontario, and to somehow, after the whole machination of government, after everything goes into that black box, come out the other end with a finished product with which everyone can be happy.

This group of men and women who are here today to witness this have waited a long time. They’ve waited a long time for a very simple ask, and that is that the dispute resolution mechanism be changed for co-operatives to make it similar to, if not identical to, that of other tenants who live in private developments. I am pleased that we have been able to, as a group, after dozens and dozens of speeches at second reading, after a day or two at committee, come to the conclusion that the bill was sound, it didn’t need any amendments, and that all parties can see the wisdom contained within the body of the bill. I wish the members here good luck in making it happen.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Naqvi has moved third reading of 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.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute bell.

I wish to inform the House that I’ve received a deferral notice from the chief government whip, and as such, this vote will be deferred until tomorrow at the time of deferred votes.

Third reading vote deferred.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Orders of the day? I recognize the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

Hon. Michael Gravelle: I move adjournment of the House.

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

This House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 9 a.m.

The House adjourned at 1509.