LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Tuesday 8 October 2013 Mardi 8 octobre 2013
The House met at 0900.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Good morning. Please join me in prayer.
WEARING OF BRACELETS,
PINS AND RIBBONS
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Children and Youth Services on a point of order.
Hon. Teresa Piruzza: A point of order, thank you, Mr. Speaker, and good morning.
I believe you’ll find that we have unanimous consent this morning for today that all members be permitted to wear bracelets and lapel pins and ribbons in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Children and Youth Services is seeking unanimous consent to wear the ribbons and pins. Do we have consent? Agreed? Agreed.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
WASTE REDUCTION ACT, 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 SUR LA RÉDUCTION
Resuming the debate adjourned on October 3, 2013, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:
Bill 91, An Act to establish a new regime for the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste and to repeal the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 / Projet de loi 91, Loi créant un nouveau cadre pour la réduction, la réutilisation et le recyclage des déchets et abrogeant la Loi de 2002 sur le réacheminement des déchets.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Further debate?
Mr. John O’Toole: I’m very pleased to have been asked, chosen actually, to speak on this bill this morning, following the remarks made last week by our critic the member from Kitchener–Conestoga, who I think dissected Bill 91 rather expertly. I want to thank him and his staff for doing such a thorough analysis of a bill that purports to do one thing and does absolutely the opposite to what it said.
In fact, I should start by qualifying that the minister, in due respect, was here listening to the remarks by our critic Michael Harris. One of the remarks in there that I’ve taken the liberty of looking at, the remarks made on October 2—for the viewers who would like some accurate content, perhaps they should take a look at the remarks on October 2 when he concluded his one-hour statement. What was said there—and I think it’s a permissible comment, with the indulgence of the Speaker—in his remarks he said, “But, Speaker, let me tell you, the minister was actually playing an even sillier game. All the bill actually does is move eco taxes from your receipt to the price tag on the store shelf.”
In fact, he had claimed that he was eliminating all the eco taxes and he’s not; he’s hiding them. He should have been straightforward, telling—look, everyone in here is for clean air, clean water, clean soil; everyone in here. There’s no question of that. If they impute motives that are other than that, it’s inappropriate. Let’s put it that way.
They went on to say, as well, that the—these are quotes so people can look it up and verify it. He went on in his remarks—and, again, I want to thank his staff because of the way they researched the bill, which is a very technical bill. I’ve had a chance to look at it, but it’s actually 66 pages. There are 133 sections. There are two sections that deal entirely with setting out regulations. We’re really not sure what those regulations are going to be, which causes me to worry. What are they hiding here? Either they’re for it or they’re against it, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say one thing in public and then find out in the minutiae the detail of these very lengthy regulatory sections, because those sections themselves will end up with more red tape, more red tape for perhaps the generators of waste. Now, I agree: Source reduction of waste is really the way we should be going.
I digress briefly, but I do want to put on the record these formal remarks. He’s saying—I’ll just read it here because it’s so good: “I left off by saying that this bill actually continues every single eco tax program the Liberals ever created ... that fact didn’t stop the environment minister from claiming that it did this summer. In fact, the day the minister announced he would be tabling Bill 91, he, of course, huffed and puffed in front of the media that he was getting rid of eco taxes. Too bad for him that the entire press gallery here at Queen’s Park didn’t believe” a thing he said.
“In fact, I remember a certain Canadian Press reporter tweeting that the minister’s claim was the ‘most misleading public statement’ by an Ontario cabinet minister. The rest of the media agreed. They immediately”—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Member—
Mr. John O’Toole: Pardon me.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): You will withdraw.
Mr. John O’Toole: Withdrawn. I’m not challenging the Chair, but I’m quoting, and it was permitted. It’s in the Hansard. So you’d have to go back and withdraw Hansard. So I shouldn’t—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): You caught yourself at the very end: You shouldn’t and you won’t. Simply withdraw and leave it at that. Stand, please.
Mr. John O’Toole: Withdrawn. Thank you very much, Speaker. I wasn’t trying in any way to start this day in sort of a combative way, but now that we’re there—I’m only kidding. But there you go.
I’ll only say this: I have great regard for the Minister of the Environment, Mr. Bradley. He’s been here—I think he’s the longest-serving member. As such, it’s a tough file. In fact, the Attorney General for Ontario is here, and he had that file at one time, and he knows how tough a file it is, because there are competitive interests there, and we know on the whole that waste diversion and recycling and all that, it’s important to stem it. I always say we should leave the big box at the big box store. You understand? It should be their responsibility to deal with it.
Now, that’s actually one of the strategies that our leader, Tim Hudak, constantly preaches on: source reduction. In fact, even in government itself, we should stop some of the waste going on here, whether it’s the announcement today by the—I may be off topic a small bit, but it’s still about Bill 91, because the waste, the scandalous waste of money, is one of the things where you could stop all this. We wouldn’t have to create all this infrastructure to deal with waste if we didn’t create the waste of money itself.
I think this all makes sense if you think about it, because here’s the deal: The Auditor General is going to announce today what it cost to cancel the Oakville plant. Now, the reason is we have no idea what it was, but I was promised by the Premier and the Minister of Energy that it was $40 million. Now, how wrong can you be? I think it could be 10 times, 100 times wrong. I don’t know. But this bill here—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Very good timing. You will come back to the topic, please.
Mr. John O’Toole: Thank you very much, Speaker. The emotion level is high here today because of that scandal that’s about to unfold.
But Bill 91—that is the one. It’s the Minister of the Environment’s, and they’re setting up these unelected groups again. They’re sort of like the environmental LHINs—do you understand?—to look after this thing.
Now, who’s going to check the checker? That always becomes the question. Where’s the money to audit this stuff? Where’s the money to investigate and enforce the rules? I believe it’s a fundamental responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment.
In fact, in my riding of Durham, which includes Uxbridge, Scugog, which is like Port Perry, and Clarington, which is Bowmanville, Courtice, Newcastle and a lot of other communities—here’s the point: One of the two big issues I have is the spreading of sewage sludge on farm fields when in fact there are processing plants within a reasonable distance. The second one is commercial fill. All these condos they’re building in Toronto—this applies, Mr. Speaker. For all these condos, if you’re going up four storeys, you probably have to go down four storeys, and where is that dirt going? That dirt for the Olympics, for instance, right down here in the port lands—why was nothing ever built there for the last 100 years? Why? Because it’s contaminated. Those were the old factories, the tanneries and stuff like that. Where are they moving that soil? They’re moving that soil to my riding, in Uxbridge, Port Perry, and in fact they’re moving some to Seagrave right now. They’re claiming they’re going to build an airport. It’s a huge hole in the ground that they’re filling up with—I believe 250,000 trucks are going to come up those roads, destroying the roads.
The enforcement of that is supposed to be by the York district office for the Ministry of the Environment. With all due respect, the staff have limited resources, I get that. Dave Fumerton is the director. We talk to him regularly to see if they can enforce making sure that the fill is indeed safe, that it isn’t contaminated. They say they have this new plan now with soil. It’s called soil remediation. What’s that about?
I went to that plant on Toy Avenue in Pickering, run by Green For Life, and they’re remediating the soil. What are they doing? Well, they’re aerating it; they’re turning it and putting it in windrows, supposedly. They also have these biological bugs they spray on it that eat the carbon or the petrochemical component of it. Then these microbes die. I said, “Well, when they die, they must have ingested this stuff, so it’s still there. It’s just inside their bodies.”
There’s so much double-talk on this file, I can’t believe it. If it’s contaminated, it goes into the water. It could eventually affect the water table, which could affect people’s wells. For years we called them brownfield sites. Whenever you had old gas stations around that were closed and probably the gas containers in the ground ruptured, that petrochemical stuff went into the soil, and eventually it leaches and migrates from property to property. So nobody wanted those sites. No one ever developed them because of all the liability attached to it. That’s the second problem.
The third problem that I have here is the whole idea of enforcement. The Ministry of the Environment just can’t do it. Here we have another bill laden with regulations about enforcing the source reduction of waste in Bill 91. Now, again, I’m going back to the notes that were—they’re not really notes. The Hansard, really, is the notes that I’m talking about. I just received another bit of information here as well, which could be quite handy. It says—this bill, we should be clear—we oppose the bill. For the record, for Hansard, our critic Michael Harris has said that we oppose the bill. But with the majority and the coalition between the NDP—they love the environment. They’ve got to explain to me how it’s going to work. Of course, the government side, it’s their bill; they’ll all be whipped into voting for it. Probably, they haven’t even read it. That’s the most discouraging part.
Ms. Catherine Fife: We read budgets. We read bills. Yes, we do.
Mr. John O’Toole: You’ll have your 20 minutes or hour, and I’m waiting for your remarks to try and defend—
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Order. Your remarks should be made through the chair.
Mr. John O’Toole: Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m glad you’re listening, because there’s a lot to be said here. The Waste Reduction Act is a Liberal shell game that shifts eco taxes from the consumer’s receipt to the price tag. We’ve said that. The bill will not only fail to meet the Ontario PC Party demand to scrap eco taxes, but it also fails to eliminate the Liberals’ recycling cartel and the government’s unaccountable oversight agency, Waste Diversion Ontario.
These are failed objectives, and they certainly can’t be acceptable to the opposition party, my colleagues and our leader, Tim Hudak.
The Liberals plan to give the agency enforcement powers and the authority to set collection fees from businesses, which will then be passed on to consumers as part of the eco taxes paid on the product price tag. So it’s hidden. The person walks in to buy a battery—$9? Inside that $9 package is a tax that goes to deal with the waste, probably. How are we going to enforce all this? You set these objectives, these laudable goals—through you, Madam Speaker—of reducing waste in Ontario. From every account I’ve heard they haven’t even come close to the promise of reducing it.
This comes down to a fundamental plank in my problem, and my frustration here every day is that you can’t trust them. It’s like the gas plants. They said it was going to be $40 million. Now we’re going to find out it’s going to be $400 million. And Premier Wynne admitted it: It was done for political goals. She was the vice-chair of the campaign and she said that they cancelled those plants to save seats; she said it.
Then it comes back to the word “trust” on Bill 91, Madam Speaker. The trust thing, I’m saying, is where I really get frustrated. If you’re dealing with someone in a debate, you can’t win the debate if the other person isn’t trustworthy, like telling the truth, if that’s okay.
But anyway, the Liberal government turns these powers over to this agency, even though for five long years, it authorized the Liberal recycling cartel to impose exorbitant eco taxes in Ontario, including—the farmers in my riding love this one because we fought this, and I think they’ve reversed it—the 2,000% tire tax increase in April and a $40 levy on a big-screen TV last May. Those are two examples where the consumers of Ontario are trying to say—it’s the shell game part of it. This is waste.
For instance, we get a lot of calls—and I’m sure, Madam Speaker, you do—on the price of gas. “How come the price of gas is so high?” I said, “Well, when the Liberals harmonized the provincial sales tax with the federal GST, gas went up 11 cents overnight,” because gas never had provincial tax on it.
Hon. John Gerretsen: Yes, it did.
Mr. John O’Toole: No, it didn’t. No. See, there’s the minister. No, it didn’t. It had an ad valorem tax. It had—
Hon. John Gerretsen: Oh, that’s a tax.
Mr. John O’Toole: Well, the tax was at 14.3 cents per litre, but it never had provincial tax. It had GST on it, the federal portion, but I digress.
Every time they can get into your pocket—deeper and deeper and deeper. This eco tax is just another opening and the price is hidden. Those batteries are $9?
Mr. Todd Smith: They’re going to be $15 soon.
Mr. John O’Toole: That’s exactly right. The member from Prince Edward–Hastings is paying close attention, which is a good thing, because I have had the privilege to speak this morning and he’ll be next.
Waste Diversion Ontario has broken the trust—there’s the word, “trust”—of Ontarians time and time again and should not be rewarded by more power, bigger multi-million-dollar budgets funneled through the eco tax program. So it is disheartening—and I’m not for one moment trying to explain or apologize, Madam Speaker, to the people of Ontario, because listen, we’re here representing our constituents—that’s the first and most privileged role that we have: to listen to them and to respond to them—and they are concerned about the environment. I’ve explained in my riding the inordinate rules that aren’t being enforced. Here are some more rules that are going to cost more money and I don’t think are going to even solve the problem.
In fact, as you probably know, Madam Speaker, the review of the Aggregate Resources Act, ARA, has just been completed. A select committee dealt with it, and it affects a lot of things on the Oak Ridges moraine, where all the aggregate come from. My riding is rich in aggregate and I’m proud of that. I think it’s an important resource in Ontario; I recognize that. But then when you look at it, the rehabilitation of these sites is important. That part of the bill, the rehabilitation of sites, is another function of both the Ministry of Natural Resources as well as the Ministry of the Environment, which ties back into: Do the jobs that they’ve got in legislative responsibilities now. Why are you starting to get deeper into the regulatory world of waste diversion? Again, it even says it in the notes here, it’s a matter of trust.
If I paid, let’s say, for a big-screen TV, and I’m about to close the sale today, and somebody says, “Well, there’s a recycling thing here of $50”—wow. You might have a second thought about it. But how it’s going to work today: You’re going to buy the big-screen TV; it’s going up in price. You won’t know that there’s $50 for an eco tax for recycling.
That’s the problem. It’s the transparency, the lack of accountability. Those instincts within this style of the current government talking very pleasantly, proper smiles and sort of the way you communicate and that, but at the end of the day, if you can’t be trusted, then the game’s over.
So with Bill 91, what we’re trying to say here is the bill purports to do something—and this was reported by the media—but does completely the opposite. It just puts it all inside the closet so it can never be seen again.
I go on here: “The hasty introduction of Bill 91 is the result of a number of factors, the most significant of which has been pressure from the Ontario PC Party, more specifically, Tim Hudak and Michael Harris. Our announcement last November of reforming the province’s recycling policies created a groundswell of activity amongst stakeholders from all sectors, especially with the resulting news coverage declaring that we’d be scrapping the eco tax.”
Now, they’re saying they’re scrapping it—and I’ve said this; it’s the third time. Often you have to say things 15 times for people to get it. They’re not scrapping it; they’re hiding it, period. Okay? End of sentence. You’re creating another unelected organization to be accountable to. You can’t get to them. If you have a problem with a hospital, you can’t get to them. You can’t get through the LHIN to find out why they aren’t providing certain procedures in your local hospital.
There has been increasing pressure from waste haulers and processors to create a more powerful government agency to regulate the recycling sector in favour of their industry and at the expense of business paying into various government recycling programs.
More than anything, the corrupt, tired, scandal-plagued government under criminal investigation can’t afford any more controversy, so they’re tabling a bill to trick Ontarians into believing the Liberals will be eliminating the eco tax, and it seems like a good way to challenge and change the channel.
There’s more to be said on this, and I would refer the viewer, once again, to the remarks made by our critic Michael Harris from Kitchener–Conestoga, a young, new member here. He has done a remarkably informed job on dissecting a very complex Bill 91 and coming up with the hidden pieces that the public should know about. So take the time and look up Hansard on the Ontario legislative website. Look carefully through it, and you’ll find out why that package of batteries, that can of—
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you. Comments or questions?
Ms. Catherine Fife: We are coming from a completely different place with regard to Bill 91. We do, of course, support increasing targets and increasing enforceable standards.
I think we do share some concerns, though, around the Waste Reduction Authority. We really hope that you don’t give them bonuses just for doing their jobs or sticking around or showing up for work. I think that there are some good concerns that we have with regard to true accountability from that authority.
There are some good things, though, in this bill. If you read it, you’ll see that there are some good things, because we have to make up for 20 years of lost traction and lost progress. So we do need to accelerate our efforts as a province to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover, and the recovery piece is not embedded into this bill. We need to refocus our attention on avoiding sending things to landfills altogether.
Ontario’s solid waste facts: 75% goes to landfills; diversion rate, 23%; energy recovery, 2%. What a missed opportunity in this bill to generate energy through waste. There is room for improvement, and we are going to tackle those problems when it gets to committee. It’s going to get to committee, because we’re going to support it, because something needs to be done. I know you believe in doing nothing, but we believe in doing something and making it stronger. That’s what the people of the province expect from us in a minority government setting.
Energy from waste generates clean, renewable energy, addresses climate change and creates green jobs in sustainable waste management. There’s so much potential for us on the waste diversion. We’re going to make it stronger. We’re focused on it and we actually have the expertise to make it happen. Thank you.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The member for Ottawa–Orléans.
Mr. Phil McNeely: Thank you, Speaker. I’m pleased to respond to what we heard this morning from the Conservative member.
I think we’ve all agreed from the beginning that the system we have is broken. Certainly, the 23% or 25% figure that you’ve heard on diversion is so low that the system is broken. It’s a system that we inherited 10 years ago and a system that just is not doing the job.
I read the comments of the member from Davenport and the member for Kitchener–Conestoga in response to the minister’s presentation. The third party wants to work to get a system up and running that’s going to look after the waste of this province. There’s a lot involved, because it’s not only less landfills, which always cause problems in communities—they’re needed and you have to grow them because we’re not diverting our waste—but it’s a generation of 5,000 direct jobs that we can achieve through using more of our waste and mining our waste for the valuables that are in there.
You know, that’s a different concept. The third party wants to work with us and come up with a system that’s really good. I think the opposition has to look at what they’re doing. They should be jumping into this and saying, “Let’s get Ontario the proper system for handling our waste, for minimizing landfills, for creating jobs etc.”
A business group that has responded says, “A more streamlined Waste Reduction Act, focused on principles of producer responsibility and addressing the concerns highlighted in our submission, could provide a legislative framework to enable the development”—
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you. The member for Prince Edward–Hastings.
Mr. Todd Smith: Thank you, Madam Speaker. It’s a pleasure to join the debate and bring remarks on the comments made by my friend from Durham on the Waste Reduction Act.
This clearly is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist in the province of Ontario. That’s why we’re opposed to it. We don’t need to get in this game. The Waste Reduction Act, as my friend from Durham pointed out, is just another way for this Liberal government to create public sector jobs at the expense of private sector companies. These private sector companies are the ones that are creating wealth and creating jobs in our province today. We can’t afford at this time to create more public sector jobs.
We’re going to create, as he mentioned, a LHIN for recyclables. We don’t need that, because these recyclables have a value. They’re a very valuable commodity. They are a valuable product. All we have to do as a government, as our critic Michael Harris has pointed out many times, is set the targets and the expectations of our government and then get the government out of the way. It will require audits, and there are very competent companies out there that will audit the producers to make sure they are diverting their waste away from landfills. And because these tires, as the member from Durham mentioned, have a value to them, they’re sought after. I can tell you right now that 95%—there’s no problem here when it comes to recycling tires in the province of Ontario; they are all making their way to the Ontario Tire Stewardship. If we actually fix this bill, which is unnecessary, and get out of the way, get government out of the way, it’s going to create more companies that will want to get those tires. We’re seeing it across the province right now.
So I commend the member from Durham. I commend the work of our critic Michael Harris on this file. We don’t need to create another government bureaucracy, and that’s what this bill aims to do: having garbage cops on the streets of Ontario. We don’t need that. We can police this without creating another bureaucracy.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you. The member for Davenport.
Mr. Jonah Schein: Thanks very much, Speaker. I’m happy to join the debate on Bill 91, the Waste Reduction Act. I appreciate the comments from the members from Durham, Kitchener–Waterloo, Ottawa–Orléans and Prince Edward–Hastings.
As most members of this House know, I’m not a member of the Liberal government; I do not agree with the actions of the Liberal government. I believe that we have a much better framework to do business in the NDP. That said, however, better late than never.
So 10 years later the Liberals have shown up and they’re ready to do some work, maybe, on this file, which, I have to say, contrary to what the opposition says, is important and necessary. I wish that the official opposition would put away their talking points, would put away their ideology because it just doesn’t fit right here.
There is a huge problem here. We are the worst in this country when it comes to waste diversion. The “waste” in the title of this bill could apply to a waste of time for the last 10 years that the government has been here, for sure, but a waste of time particularly on this issue—a waste of opportunity.
The Conservatives, if they believed in job creation, would take a look at the facts here and take a look at the fact that seven jobs could be created for every one job in just throwing trash away. If we actually put people to work to divert waste, to recycle and to reuse waste, we could be creating jobs here. Supposedly that’s what the official opposition would like to do. Instead, they don’t want to get to work here. I think that’s very unfortunate.
The issue of the third party—what they’re calling the “waste reduction LHINs”—I’ve got concerns about new bureaucracies being set up, but in in this case this is because neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives will actually protect the Ministry of the Environment; they will not stand up and say, “We actually need to protect our environment.” So creating this third party might be the only way to actually make sure that we’re enforcing waste diversion in this province. That’s unfortunate, but I think that’s a result of what you guys have been doing here for too long.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The member for Durham has two minutes to respond.
Mr. John O’Toole: I seek unanimous consent to get another half an hour just to wrap up. Agreed?
I want to comment on the two members from the NDP. I’m quite impressed that you’ve talked about the effectiveness of energy from waste. I’m interested in the member from Ottawa–Orléans—I’m not sure he is—because they have plasmafication in Ottawa.
Here’s the issue: I have the first and most modern energy-from-waste plant in my riding. It’s under construction. If you’re driving down the 401, Minister, at Kingston, you’ll see the big—it’s under the tightest emission regulations. I believe that the region of Durham, and Roger Anderson as well—I’ve talked to the ministers directly. You’ve got to enforce the emission targets. That’s the key thing, so keep up.
But our plan, the PC plan, the Tim Hudak team plan is this: Rather than create a complicated bureaucracy with massive cost for consumers, we will just simply get it right. Under our plan, the Ministry of the Environment would set measurable, achievable recycling targets for manufacturers and importers of electronic waste. The minister then would set environmental standards to ensure the materials are actually recycled. Then we would monitor the outcomes. That’s in place. That’s doable today. We don’t need another bureaucracy.
This is what has happened under this government: They want more taxes first, called eco fees. It’s just a shameful response to an environment that we know is part of having a healthy quality of life and, in fact, a healthy economy. This plan does everything that it says, only it does it behind closed doors. In fact, it doesn’t eliminate eco fees at all, which is a tax on consumers, really. It’s like an HST, is what it’s like.
I would also say that if you really feel strongly about this, you should contact your Liberal member and tell them to withdraw this bill, and work with Tim Hudak and the plan that we have for Ontario. It’s called Pathways to Prosperity—
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you. Further debate?
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I’m pleased to rise today to talk about Bill 91, the Waste Reduction Act. I want to thank the members who have spoken on this bill today for their insights and their thoughts. I’m eager to add to the discussion around this important issue.
My understanding of the bill, as it stands at second reading, is that Bill 91 is a step towards making producers responsible for the waste they produce. I hope we can all agree that, in that principle, it is a very good idea.
As we know, progress on waste reduction and recycling has all but stalled over the past 20 years. More importantly, Ontario has the worst record in Canada. I read yesterday in the Toronto Star that Toronto is now the fourth-largest city in North America, and the population has more than doubled between 2006 and 2011. With so much growth, we need to ask ourselves why we have not prioritized our waste management and infrastructure, leaving us in a position to play catch-up to the demands not just in the GTA, but for the entire province. It’s time for this province to rise to the challenges of effectively handling our waste.
Before we can look to the future and to what needs to be accomplished, I believe we need to understand the history of waste management in Ontario. I see the history of waste management in Ontario as a history of community action for a cleaner environment and of companies trying to off-load responsibilities for their products’ waste and the costs of dealing with waste onto the consumers and taxpayers.
Back in the 1960s there was an increase in packaging and non-refillable containers. In the 1970s and 1980s, we saw soft drink companies fighting against government regulations that would require them to use refillable containers.
Moving on to the 1980s and the 1990s, companies sought to have municipal and provincial governments pay for municipal blue box programs. These programs were struggling to cover costs of collection with lower-than-anticipated secondary material prices. In 1987 the Ontario government, with Minister Bradley as the environment minister, reached an agreement in exchange for support for the blue box program. Unfortunately, this deal also allowed for soft drink producers to walk away from the agreements made in the 1960s and 1970s that made producers 100% responsible for deposit-refund and refillable containers they were flooding into the market.
Then in 1995, the Conservative government chose to end the provincial subsidies for the blue box program, off-loading the costs to municipalities. While it doesn’t come as a shock that Conservatives would off-load services, it is shocking that it took another seven years before the issue was dealt with again.
In 2002, the Waste Diversion Act imposed a 50-50 cost-sharing for blue box programs by producers and municipalities, but this new act did not fix the long-standing disagreement between both parties. Municipalities complained about the rising costs of recycling new lightweight materials, which they could not control, and companies complained about the rise in municipal collection costs, which they could not control. In other words, the problem was shuffled around with no one looking to take real leadership on this issue.
I am pleased that history will show that the NDP changed that approach. Our government played an important role in the advancement of recycling in Ontario. We implemented a comprehensive waste reduction action plan in 1991 and in 1994 enacted regulations covering municipal waste, ICI waste, composting and product packaging. By 1992, the NDP government had already met the 1989 target of diverting 25% of solid waste from disposal facilities, and we passed the regulation in 1994 which expanded the blue box programs. Municipalities across the province were set up to recycle aluminum, glass, newsprint, plastic bottles and steel containers.
Unfortunately, waste diversion rates have stagnated since that time. Almost 10 years later, in 2004, the environment minister, Leona Dombrowsky, announced the government’s intention to develop a strategy for Ontario that would divert 60% of the province’s waste from disposal by 2008.
Mr. Jonah Schein: But nothing happened; they didn’t do anything.
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: A very good question. Let’s ask the question: How successful was that plan? Well, today, waste diversion rates in Ontario remain stuck at around 23%. We send 77% of our waste to disposal, causing significant environmental cost, and even more disappointing has been the loss of our economic potential. Clearly, the leadership role played by the NDP government was a major factor in achieving the current standard for waste management in this province.
Now that we have looked to our past, I want to talk about our current situation today. As I said earlier, Ontario’s waste diversion rates are among the worst in the country, and the amount of waste we produce continues to rise every day. We’ve lost track of the 3R hierarchy: reduce, reuse and recycle. In some cases, the government has spent more time focusing on burning waste rather than reducing it. It’s time to return to the three Rs; they aren’t just a lesson for our children in school.
Our progress in reducing packaging has been minimal. We’ve moved away from refillable containers, and shamefully, we are one of the few provinces without a deposit return program for beverage containers.
Too much material is still going to landfills, wasting economic opportunities in the recycling sector and the opportunities to create jobs in our province. Recycling creates seven to 10 jobs for every one job in the disposable industry, which is truly significant to my riding in London–Fanshawe, which has unusually high unemployment rates.
Waste reduction and resource conservation is a huge economic factor, contributing over $3.2 billion in revenue and 14,000 direct jobs in Ontario. That number could be much higher if we only had the leadership and the vision to make that happen.
Even the Environmental Commissioner stated in 2010 that “‘current programs under the” Waste Diversion Act “do not encourage producers to focus on waste reduction first, reuse second, and recycling third. Instead, they generally focus on finding the least costly means of collecting and recycling materials.... there is no direct financial incentive provided to individual producers to reduce their costs through product design, such as designing a product that is easier and cheaper to recycle. The lack of direct financial incentives to improve product design can be an impediment to reducing waste, increasing reuse, and ultimately striving for zero waste.’”
Under the current legislation, the government lacks the authority and the oversight to set binding targets and to fine companies who don’t meet diversion targets. This is not the leadership this province needs, Speaker: legislation that protects producers while ignoring the public good—not just the public good but a public need. We need to address our waste by the most effective and affordable possible means.
The industry-funded organizations prove that fact. They serve industry’s interests. They focus on keeping costs to producers down, rather than focusing on the public interest of minimizing waste and ensuring producers cover 100% of end-of-life management costs of their products.
Even now, the funding for blue box programs has fallen onto cash-strapped municipalities, meaning that programs are too limited and not convenient enough for families. Successful programs are supported programs, yet this government has continued the trend of off-loading of services and responsibilities. It has become so commonplace that there are times when I can’t tell them apart from the Conservatives.
Too little has been done to address waste reduction in the institutional, commercial and industrial sectors. We see this through the off-loading of costs onto consumers who have been hit with unfair eco fees set by unaccountable industry-run stewardship organizations, organizations that directly undermine the public confidence in government recycling programs, with no fear of reprisal.
The lack of leadership on waste is shown over the years again and again. We see it with individual producers, who have been provided with no economic incentive to reduce waste or improve their products. This lack of adequate oversight has led to the export or landfilling of materials, which pollutes our environment here in Ontario and overseas. And growth in the recycling sector has been stifled by the monopoly of stewardship organizations.
We’ve examined our history and the current state of waste management. That’s a little bit of a backgrounder. It will be interesting to see if this government is ready to take on a leadership role and bring a vision for waste management to the table, or will they simply pay lip service to the monopoly of organizations who have dominated the waste management discourse over the past few years?
We know that effective waste reduction legislation requires us to be working toward a vision of zero waste. It also insists upon a framework that recognizes the hierarchy of the three Rs—reduce, reuse and recycle—and clearly establishes standards and enforcement by government.
Further, any waste or reduction strategy should include education and public awareness, along with convenience for the consumer. If it’s not easy for people to use, then they simply won’t do it. That is why the education and awareness portion is vital to the success of the issue. Also, we need to ensure that companies, and not municipalities and taxpayers, pay the full cost of dealing with their waste in an environmentally sound way. Hopefully, Bill 91 is a small step towards making producers responsible for the waste they produce and taking on the challenges of waste management in this province.
I am concerned with the limitations of this bill but believe that we need to take it step by step towards prioritizing our waste management.
Mr. Jim Wilson: Point of order: I apologize to my colleague, but I do not believe a quorum is present.
The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Tonia Grannum): A quorum is not present, Speaker.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Call in the members.
The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.
The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Tonia Grannum): A quorum is now present, Speaker.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you.
We’ll return to the member from London–Fanshawe.
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: Thank you, Speaker. That was a welcome interruption by my colleague there, because it’s apropos to the next topic that I’ll be speaking on. No offence taken, and we’re good.
So let’s talk about the meat and potatoes of the bill. As I understand the intent of this bill, it sets out diversion targets and enforceable standards for producers to meet. It also creates a Waste Reduction Authority to enforce waste reduction activities. It phases out industry-funded organizations like Stewardship Ontario but allows producers to band together and form intermediaries; in other words, they can create third-party service providers or administrative organizations to meet new waste diversion targets.
It allows municipalities to register with the WRA, which is the Waste Reduction Authority, thus obligating producers to pay municipalities for the collection and recycling of designated materials like tires, paint, batteries, packaging etc. Fees paid for municipality collection are negotiated by the municipalities and producers, and the WRA will be entitled to arbitrate or to set compensation payments if parties can’t agree.
It further prevents retailers from applying a separate eco fee to products by requiring all-in pricing for consumers, so that consumers know what they’re paying; there are no hidden costs or hidden fees that they’re not used to—you know, a little while ago, when you went to Canadian Tire and paid for some paint, and all of a sudden you had an eco fee on that product. So it’s all in, one price, and it’s all included. That’s the way it should be; there shouldn’t be any surprises at the end of the day.
It also expands waste diversion to the institutional, commercial and industrial sectors, ICI, for example. It makes printed paper and packaging designated materials. That’s important, as well.
While much of this bill sounds promising, I feel that we really need to discuss the limitations of Bill 91 in order to improve it. The bill is a good idea, it’s a good start to talks about how we can effectively have better waste reduction in our communities, in our country, but I’m really looking forward to having this bill passed so that we can do the real hard work and dissect this bill very thoroughly in committee.
Bill 91 does not mention the aim of achieving zero waste or the goal of protecting the environment and human health. The longer-term goal of the act should be to move forward as a province, where goods which are not safely recyclable are no longer sold here. That’s an important thing we also need to discuss.
Speaker, as noted before, Bill 91 also does not recognize the importance of the hierarchy of the three Rs: recycle, reduce and reuse. I remember when I was a younger person—not that I’m that old—that was really what we talked about in school. It was a mantra that we always had. We had environment days and we made robots out of tin cans. We were encouraged to think about ways to use recyclable products, to make things in our life so that we could reuse them.
I was at an event at Art in the Park where we had crafters and artists. It was very interesting. This lady had a display and she actually took plastic garbage bags and was making rugs out of them. She was so encouraged by making less waste in her community, that she actually produced something that was very usable for other people. She would sell them to people for cottages or decks. They were very handy because they were plastic and they would last forever and wouldn’t wear out. So it was encouraging to see that there are people out there, and I know there’s a lot of environmentalists out there, who really want to take hold—and not just recycling. It’s extremely important, but sometimes the materials that we have that we can recycle and reuse, we can actually use them in our daily lives. I was very encouraged to see that she was taking that on and passing on that information.
We also need to look at how to expand the recycling process. We have the recycling in the LCBO, but why don’t we look at expanding the recycling to wine bottles? I know that the BlueGreen Alliance has called for that. It would be great to create these green jobs and reduce waste and even give a market advantage for Ontario wines, so I think that would be a great way to put that to use, recycling wine bottles and creating jobs and getting us ahead—
Ms. Cindy Forster: Pop bottles.
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: Well, pop bottles, yes.
Ms. Cindy Forster: Twenty-five years ago in Alberta they were recycling pop bottles.
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: We’re not supposed to converse directly with other members, but I’m just going to take that comment quickly on pop bottles. Twenty-five years ago, we used to recycle pop bottles. Now we’ve got cans and we recycle cans. But it’s a good idea that we start with the wine bottles, because we already do that at the LCBO. This is just a logical step, to expand that recycling even further and create more jobs and help the Ontario wine industry as well.
Speaker, there are some good things in this bill, and I hope that the Conservatives will recognize the benefits of having a greener environment by taking the initiative and having a more proactive waste reduction policy enacted in our province.
Mr. Jonah Schein: Don’t count on it.
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: Now, I heard a despairing remark from my seatmate, but we always have to remember that as long as we’re here in this House representing the voices of our constituents, which should be our intent and the goal of why we were sent here, then we have to try to break through the party lines or partisanship and get our point across. It’s human nature that an idea that’s brought forward today may not be at the right time, but if we persist, who knows in 10 years where things can go?
Thank you for allowing me the time to speak on this act. I hope we can all agree that more work needs to be done at committee but it certainly is the right way to go in our environment and waste reduction for all Ontarians.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Questions and comments?
Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield: I’m pleased to rise in support of the revision of the Waste Reduction Act. I know that people speak about reduce, recycle and reuse, and I’d like to add another called rethink.
I’d like to tell you a story about a wonderful organization that has done exactly that, called Windfall. It was Michael Prue from the Beaches who introduced me to this extraordinary organization which actually diverts 20 million tonnes every year from landfill. How they do that is that in Ontario, and in Canada in all probability, organizations and retailers who have new clothing that they cannot resell end up putting it into dumps. So this organization actually takes this new clothing—not used, new clothing—and gives it to shelters and to organizations, a number of them through Ontario, where they can use this clothing for people who need new clothing. For someone who has been in a shelter, who has had to leave their home, there’s nothing worse than having somebody else’s used pajamas on a bed. It’s much nicer to have a pair of brand new pyjamas along with that brand new teddy bear that’s sitting on the bed.
This organization, Windfall, has done an extraordinary job in terms of how it reduces, reuses, recycles and rethinks the use of 20 million tonnes that normally would go into—and that’s waste diversion of the right kind. That’s happening in Ontario. As matter of fact, it was Madame Meilleur, the Minister of Community and Social Services at the time, who supported this organization that we continue to support.
The other one we do is the Furniture Bank, and it’s exactly the same thing. People who need furniture get their furniture for nothing. The idea is you have your used furniture, it goes in, and it’s fixed if it’s needed or refurnished or whatever needs to be done. Then, not going into the landfill, it becomes a part of somebody’s home. So good things are happening in Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The member for Kitchener–Conestoga.
Mr. Michael Harris: I want to quickly get on the record following a debate this morning. Bill 91 is nothing more than the Liberals’ desperate attempt to change the channel on their failure to increase waste diversion in Ontario. In fact, in 2008, the Liberals promised to achieve a 60% waste diversion rate. Speaker, do you know where they’re at today?
Mr. John O’Toole: Where?
Mr. Michael Harris: At 23%.
Mr. John O’Toole: Oh no.
Mr. Michael Harris: That’s right, 23%, and the province has had a waste diversion rate for the last 10 years.
But here’s the worst part of the Liberal record: They’ve actually created a decline in the recycling rate for Ontario’s largest source of waste, which is the industrial, commercial and institutional sector, the ICI sector. This sector represents 60% of Ontario’s waste. But for 10 long years, the Liberals had ignored it, and they refused to enforce the existing recycling regulations on the ICI sector, which are known as the 3R regulations. I know the former minister will know exactly what I’m talking about.
What has the result been? Well, the AG found last year that the Liberals have actually let ICI waste diversion drop from 19% to just 12%. That is a significant decline. Obviously, we need leadership on the waste diversion file, but instead of showing true leadership, the Liberals have tabled a bill that will create more red tape and, of course, more taxes. Tragically, it will keep municipalities and stakeholders more focused on fighting over money than actually protecting our environment.
So I’m calling on the Liberals to drop Bill 91 today and adopt our plan, the PC plan, for greater waste diversion in Ontario. That starts with scrapping eco taxes, eliminating useless bureaucracy and then creating the right conditions for economic growth in the waste management sector. Our plan would empower the Ministry of the Environment to set measurable and achievable recycling targets, establish environmental standards, monitor those outcomes and enforce the rules. That’s it.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further comments?
Ms. Cindy Forster: I want to take the opportunity to thank the member from Davenport for his lead-in on this important issue and the member from London–Fanshawe as well for her part in the debate today.
I sat actually for a number of years on the waste management planning strategy committee of the region of Niagara when I was a regional councillor. I can tell you that Niagara’s diversion rates are far higher and have been than 23%. When we talk about 23%, we’re talking about an average across this province.
In fact, I took the opportunity today to have a look at the region’s website, and they’ve been participating in a program called the Ontario Electronic Stewardship for the collection of electronic waste for recycling. Since 2009, this effort has actually saved 200,000 tonnes of electronic waste from going into the landfill sites. In Niagara alone, we have diverted over 402,000 kilograms of electronic waste from actually going into landfill sites. There are municipalities that are doing far better than 23%. In Niagara, we also have a program set up where, a couple of times a year, you can bring in all of your leftover paint, all different kinds of household cleaners, fluids—anything that is a contaminant that we wouldn’t want to go into the landfill site. In the region of Niagara, they’re also out, a couple of times a year, at the market, doing educational programs in the communities on how to continue to divert waste.
I think that this bill is an important one. I know that we’ll be proposing some amendments when it gets to committee. But for the greater good of our community and the world, I think it’s somewhere we need to go.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further comments?
Hon. John Gerretsen: I too would like to congratulate the member from London–Fanshawe for giving a very good historical background with respect to recycling and the dealing of waste in Ontario over the last 25 or 30 years.
We have to do better. We simply have to do better. What this bill does is it makes the producer of a product responsible for its ultimate disposition into new product or into reusing the product at the end of its life cycle. That’s what this bill does.
The current bill doesn’t do that. The current bill was passed by the Conservatives back in 2002, and doesn’t give the government enough power to basically make sure—
Hon. John Gerretsen: We’ll talk about eco fees in a few minutes. We’ll talk about eco fees.
Speaker, if you listen to the Conservatives, they basically say that it’s a tax, and that’s the end of it. But we have to get rid of this stuff in a proper way. The only way to do it is to make the producer ultimately responsible for the proper disposal of the items. It is as simple as that. They will then come up with better methodology in actually how to do it.
Mr. Steve Clark: Michael Harris has got the better plan.
Hon. John Gerretsen: Well, you know, your plan is exactly what the old bill is all about. The old bill that was passed in 2002 is exactly what you’re proposing now, and we all agree that it’s not working to the same extent that it should be working.
I will be speaking about that in a few moments, Speaker, because I’ve been waiting for this moment for an awful long time, to get my two cents in with respect to proper waste disposal and waste diversion in Ontario.
In the meantime, I’d like to congratulate the member for London–Fanshawe for an excellent presentation.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The member has two minutes to respond.
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: Thank you to everyone who participated in this conversation, this debate today.
I think the main goal that we all want to get to is that we don’t want to have pollution where we live. We don’t want to have—
Mr. Jonah Schein: We don’t want to ship it to China, either.
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: Yes, exactly. We don’t want to have it where we live. We don’t want it in our backyards—you know that old saying—and we don’t want to ship it anywhere else; we don’t want it overseas.
I think this bill needs to be really taken seriously. We always talk about pollution and how it’s going to affect the next generation. Everybody’s worried about their children and their grandchildren. Waste is a terrible thing to pass on as a legacy to the next generation. We have to get really serious about it and make sure that we have this bill so that producers are responsible for the products they bring into the stores, into retail, for us to use.
We have to also maybe even take this a step further at some point. There are many municipalities that have the green bin, where you take your organic waste, and I think that’s a great initiative as well. We used to have a composter, and that’s where a lot of the organic material went. But not everybody has a composter. When you actually start adding that up into the landfills, that’s also something that we can do proactively to minimize waste.
I think having the bill—that sets the vision of waste reduction, but we must take it seriously and make sure producers are responsible for what they bring into our society. We also have to take the lead on making sure that we hold people accountable for that waste reduction and toxins that go into our landfills, so that we can have a safe place for our children to be raised.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I just need to interrupt before we move on in the debate.
I beg to inform the House that, pursuant to standing order 98(c), a change has been made to the order of precedence on the ballot list for private members’ public business such that Mr. Balkissoon assumes ballot item number 54 and Mr. Dickson assumes ballot item number 60.
Hon. John Gerretsen: Before starting the debate, I would just like to introduce two people who work in my office. One of them is Sabrina Grando, who has been with me for the last 10 years and as my chief of staff has been acting in that capacity for the last six years or so; and Liz McLennan, who’s my legislative assistant.
Speaker, I had the great honour and privilege of being an environment minister here in the province of Ontario for three years back in 2007-10. There are two main issues we face as a society here in Ontario: (1) the ever-growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots in our society, but that’s subject to a debate of another day; and (2) we’ve got to deal with global warming, with the ever-increasing amount of greenhouse gas emissions that we are producing.
We live in a great province—2,500 kilometres from Cornwall to Kenora. We aren’t into the environmental movement to the same extent that Europeans are or many other people in developed countries because we’ve got a great land mass and relatively few people, and so other countries have been forced into doing the environmentally right thing for many, many years. The way we’ve always dealt with our items that we want to dispose of is, we used to call it “the dump.” Then we said, “Okay, that’s no longer acceptable terminology. We’ll call it ‘the landfill.’” This province has got hundreds and probably thousands of landfill sites.
Now, of course, we’ve got an even better word. We give them some environmentally green name etc., but it’s basically still the same thing. Once we finish with something, we put it down a hole and then somebody else can worry about it so many years down the road. As a result, many of our waterways are polluted—or close to it—and many of our greenhouse gas emissions actually come from these dumps, these landfill sites. We’ve got to simply do better.
The Tories, back in 2002, came up with an act, and I’m sure they wanted it to work. It didn’t give any real power to the Ministry of the Environment and the government to deal with proper recycling and reducing. Yes, we are a little bit better off. We’re doing 23% now or 25%, but most of the stuff still ends up in landfill sites.
So we brought in the eco fee. They call it a tax. I can tell you, Speaker, that I worked on it for a good three years when I was there to bring in a system whereby basically we made people aware of the fact they have to properly recycle, and we basically left it up to industry to implement a proper fee structure to make sure that the items were properly disposed of at the end of their lifecycle.
Most companies—and they will go nameless at this point in time—didn’t like it very much. They felt it was the responsibility of the city or the township: “After it’s over and done with, let them just deal with whatever are the after-effects of products that are no longer usable.” They basically undermined the system in 2010. Items that should have been charged a penny were all of a sudden charged a dollar. Of course, you know what broke out. People were very upset, and rightfully so. I make no bones about the fact that that system could have worked if the vast majority of manufacturers and retailers had wanted it to work. But it didn’t work, and we know that it didn’t work. People were upset over the fact that on a tube of something or other that cost maybe $9, they were charged $1 instead of a penny. Many of these companies, by the way, knew darned well what they were doing, in my opinion.
What this bill does is, it makes the producer of a product responsible for the ultimate reuse of that product, the ultimate proper disposal of that product and mining it into new products. There are some fantastic companies in this province. We’ve got a tire recycling outfit just outside of Stratford that takes old tires, makes them into crumb tire and basically uses it as part of the paving material for new roads.
There are some great electronic recycling organizations in this province. GEEP comes to mind—but I know there are many others that I’ve had the opportunity to visit—where basically they take pieces of electronic equipment, take it apart bit by bit and reuse the materials into new product. Sometimes they melt it down and they reconfigure it etc. Think about it. When we’re building something new and manufacturing something new, we have a choice: We can either mine the product in the traditional sense, or we can start to reuse the products that have already been built and reconfigure them into new product. There are some great companies that are doing that.
What this bill is really all about is saying to producers, “When you put the price of something together, there are labour costs and there are material costs, and you’d better also factor in the proper disposal costs of that item.” It makes sense. Why should society be left with all of the unusable products that are out there, and why should municipalities be left with having the responsibility of putting it into landfill sites so that these young pages here, 40 or 50 years from now, can be paying for the proper cleanup of those landfill sites in the first place? There are some awful landfill sites in the province of Ontario, and sooner or later, they will have to be cleaned up, and there’s going to be a huge cost to that.
Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to say to a producer that, when you make something, at the end of its life cycle you have the responsibility to properly dispose of it in one way or another—by recycling, by reusing, by other things?
Mr. John Yakabuski: You’re not even telling them what they have to do. You’re just telling them they’re going to have to pay for it.
Hon. John Gerretsen: Well, somebody has to pay for it. Somebody has to pay for it, and the producers of the—since they’re making the goods in the first place, they are the logical person to pay for the proper disposal of that particular item as well.
To listen to the Tories, you would think—
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Order. Order.
The minister may continue.
Hon. John Gerretsen: Thank you very much, Speaker.
I would just say to the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke that that’s not the way we behave in eastern Ontario, the way he’s behaving here this morning.
Speaker, let me just say this: It is absolutely incumbent upon all of us, regardless of what side of the aisle we’re on, to make sure that products, when they are no longer needed, when they are no longer useful—that we use that material in order to create new products. That is the best—
Hon. John Gerretsen: I’m sorry, Speaker, but there’s so much interference here right now. I’m just wondering what the member from—
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Order. Order.
Hon. Ted McMeekin: Neanderthals on that side.
Mr. John Yakabuski: Objection, Speaker. Point of order.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Point of order.
Mr. John Yakabuski: Point of order, Speaker: I just heard the Minister of Community and Social Services, Comsoc, refer to the members on this side of the House as Neanderthals, and I would ask that he stand up and apologize and withdraw and act like a man.
Hon. Ted McMeekin: Point of order, Speaker: I didn’t mean to insult Neanderthals.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I’d ask the member to withdraw.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Sit down.
I’d ask the member to withdraw.
Hon. Ted McMeekin: I’ll withdraw.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I’d ask the member to come to order.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I would ask the member to come to order.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I’d ask the members to come to order.
Second reading debate deemed adjourned.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): It being almost 10:15—
Hon. John Gerretsen: It’s only 10:14, Speaker.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I know, but this House stands recessed until 10:30.
The House recessed from 1014 to 1030.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Steve Clark: It gives me great pleasure to introduce, in the west members’ gallery, the family of our exceptional page from Leeds–Grenville: Peyton Horning. I’d like to introduce to members of the Legislature her mother, Alexandra Prefasi-Horning; her father, Paul Horning; her sister Taylor Horning; and I’d like to introduce her grandparents Suzanne and Ron Prefasi. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Hon. Deborah Matthews: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I believe we have unanimous consent that all members be permitted to wear ribbons in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care is seeking unanimous consent to wear the ribbons to signify cancer. Agreed? Agreed.
Start the clock.
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I’m pleased to rise to welcome the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to Queen’s Park. In the gallery are a number of representatives including Keith Currie, Neil Currie, Brent Royce, Eleanor Renaud, Ralph Brodie, Debra Pretty-Straathof, Paul Wettlaufer, Joe Dickenson, Peggy Brekveld, Larry Freeman and Rejean Pommainville.
I had a great meeting with them this morning, and I hope all members will attend their reception this evening at 5:30 in room 228.
Mr. John Vanthof: I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the OFA to the Legislature. I hope everyone takes a chance to listen to their message. Agriculture is very important to this province and they are great ambassadors.
Mr. Bob Delaney: In the galleries today will be some students participating in a program called Let’s Talk Science. I’d like to invite members to join me, the Let’s Talk Science students and Amgen Canada in committee room 230 for lunch today and to learn more about the results of this year’s program.
Mr. Jack MacLaren: It gives me great pleasure to introduce a friend of our family, Kathie Dick, who is in the gallery. She is a retired registered nurse.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Welcome.
Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, we’ve got some guests today I’d like to introduce from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation: Deborah McNorgan, Anthony Miceli, Beth Hampson, Bruce Cole, Maddy Viray and Dr. Betty Power.
From Shoppers, which is supporting the pink bus: Sean Webster, Akeel Jaffer, Dalia Salib and Lisa Gibbs. And from CIBC, another sponsor: David McGown and Angela Sarino.
Welcome to them all.
Mrs. Laura Albanese: I am delighted to introduce and welcome a delegation from Italy: Mayor Corrado Calvo, mayor of Rosolini, a town in the province of Syracuse in Sicily. He’s accompanied by his family: wife, Maria Luisa Basile, and children Antonio and Maria Chiara Calvo.
I would like also to welcome Dr. Francesca Ciccazzo, city councillor; Salvatore Cataudella, responsible for social services and education; and from the Eloro Cultural Association, Mr. Joe Ricupero; Rita and Salvatore Bazzano; Connie Ricupero, vice-president; and president, Enzo Di Mauro.
Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Mr. Rob Leone: I’d like to recognize, in the members’ west gallery, James Roy, from the riding of Cambridge, who is leaving my office and going to join the office of the member for Northumberland–Quinte West.
Hon. David Zimmer: I would like to introduce, in the east gallery, Bob Potts, the principal negotiator, Algonquins of Ontario; Clifford Bastien Jr., chief, Mattawa/North Bay Algonquin First Nation; Alan Pratt, legal counsel, Algonquins of Ontario; Chief Patrick Glassford, Algonquins of Greater Golden Lake; and Jim Meness, councillor, Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn.
Ms. Soo Wong: I’m pleased to welcome Eduardo Harari, who is the vice-president of community for the York Centre Federal Liberal Riding Association. Welcome, Eduardo.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I just wanted to add my welcome to that of the member for Oxford to the members of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture who are here for Agriculture Week.
Mr. Tim Hudak: My question is to the Premier. Premier, later today we will learn a little bit more about what you and Dalton McGuinty have been working so hard to hide these last three years. We know that you and Dalton McGuinty made a snap decision to cancel gas plants with no thought whatsoever on their cost, the analysis on the damage it does to our reputation, our hydro system or the lost jobs.
You sometimes seem to pretend that you once met Dalton McGuinty at a cocktail party, or that you once maybe crossed his path at a Liberal convention, but nobody believes that. We know that you were the co-chair of the campaign. We know that you were at the Premier’s right hand when this decision was made. You signed off on the document at cabinet authorizing the cancellation of this gas plant.
So, Premier, can you tell us once and for all: If you signed the document, if you made the decision and you made the call, how can you claim you knew nothing about this project to begin with?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Let me just say that, to the contrary of what the Leader of the Opposition has said, I have done everything in my power to make sure that every question that has been asked has received an answer. That’s why 160,000 pages of documentation have been provided to the committee. That’s why we moved to broaden the scope of the committee. That’s why 62 witnesses have been able to go to the committee and answer questions.
I said from the moment that I came into this job that I wanted to make sure that there was an open process and that, where there were questions, those questions would be answered. I’m not going to pre-empt the release of the report by the Auditor General. She will release her report this afternoon, and we will have the discussion that will ensue from that, but our objective has been to open up the information and provide that information to everyone who has been asking questions.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Tim Hudak: Leaders take responsibility, Premier, and leaders take action. Nobody has been fired. Nobody has been released from their job. You actually promoted the people behind this into higher positions in your cabinet. You’ve actually given the green light for more, and the problem is that this scandal approach that puts the interests of the Liberal Party ahead of the interests of hard-working Ontario taxpayers every time continues. We’ve seen it with eHealth. We’ve seen it with Ornge. We’ve seen it with the Wynne-McGuinty cover-up on the gas plant scandal—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Withdraw, please.
Mr. Tim Hudak: I withdraw.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.
Mr. Tim Hudak: And now, with the Pan Am Games scandal, the $500,000 grant that went to one of the largest entertainment companies in Canada for the NBA all-star—this abject waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars to advance the Liberal interests. Premier, enough is enough. When is this going to come to an end?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: My responsibility and my job is to advance the interests of the people of Ontario, whether that means providing information when questions are asked by the opposition—we have done that—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It’s all about me asking for quiet.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Yes, it is. The member from Lambton–Kent–Middlesex will come to order.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: And I have been very clear that I take responsibility for mistakes that were made. I have apologized, and I apologize for mistakes that were made in terms of the siting of those gas plants, but the reality is that every party in this Legislature—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Lambton–Kent–Middlesex will come to order—second time.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Every party in this Legislature agreed that those gas plants should be relocated. I would also say that every party in this Legislature agreed that getting the Pan Am Games would be a good thing for Ontario. John Tory and Howard Hampton wrote letters of support. They thought it was a good thing to have the Pan Am Games. Apparently, the current leaders don’t agree, but I think that having the Pan Am Games in Ontario and the legacy that will ensue is a good thing—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Final supplementary?
Mr. Tim Hudak: Premier, it’s pretty basic. If my daughter, who turned six last week, apologizes, but then does the same thing over and over again, she’s learned no lesson. The problem is, your apology is empty when we see the same scandals erupting with the Pan Am Games and the grant of a half million for the NBA all-star game.
These attempts to put the Liberal Party ahead of ordinary, hard-working taxpayers have real-world consequences. Today at City Hall in Toronto they’re debating whether they can actually fund the new subway to Scarborough because this billion dollars that you blew on the gas plants could have completed that project. It could have created jobs in the province of Ontario. It could have relieved gridlock. But instead, you decided to blow a billion dollars on saving two Liberal seats.
Premier, you’ve learned no lesson. The cover-up continues. When is this all going to come—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Withdraw, please.
Mr. Tim Hudak: Withdraw.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: First of all, happy birthday to Miller. I hope she had a lovely day. I would say that it is absolutely critical that the government learn from mistakes that are made. That is what I have said all along. That’s why we have a new process in place for siting energy infrastructure. It’s very important that we learn.
I would suggest that talking about the creation of 26,000 jobs by bringing the Pan Am Games to Ontario is something that we all agreed in this House was a good thing. The legacy of—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for Renfrew will come to order.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Renfrew will come to order, in case you didn’t hear me the first time. He knows why I’m not happy with what he said.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: The legacy of sports venues that we will have in this province that will allow athletes for generations to come to be able to train—those are very, very good things. I am proud of the reality that we won the games and that the games are going to be here, and they’re going to be a great success.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: My question is to the Premier. You admitted that cancelling the Oakville gas plant was a political decision. You told this assembly that the final price tag would be $40 million. Her hand-picked OPA said that that number was spectacularly wrong and it was actually $310 million. She was forced yesterday to acknowledge that the costs were “unacceptably” high, and then today we learned in the Globe and Mail that there would be no cost at all had it not been a political decision. So we are left to draw two conclusions. Premier, when you signed the cabinet document cancelling the Oakville power plant, is it fair to say that you were either so far in over your head that you didn’t understand what those costs actually were? Or did you mislead this House all along that it was more than $40 million?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): First, I’m standing. Your mike’s not on, so when I finish, then you can stand. The member will withdraw, but before she stands I’m going to tell everybody that I sense there’s a trend coming, and if it’s going to happen, I’m going to pass questions.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I withdraw it.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Now it’s time for an answer.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I will just be clear once again on how we got here. Our government listened to the advice of experts and sited two power plants over the objections of local residents, which was something that shouldn’t have happened. Over time it became evident that the concerns of the residents were, in fact, legitimate and we needed to make a change. The government listened to those concerns and cancelled the power plants for relocation elsewhere. Everyone agreed. The PCs agreed; the NDP agreed. The estimates of the cost varied, but all of them—and I’ve said this—were unacceptably high and that money should not have been spent in that way.
Everything that we did, though, in the run-up to and in the process of cancelling—the advice that we got was that if we had waited longer, it could have been much more expensive. That is the reality of what was happening at that time.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Back to the Premier. A government without credibility certainly has no legitimacy, and this government has lost all credibility on the Oakville gas plant cancellation and on their entire long-term energy plan.
It is clear that the Premier has told us false numbers in this House all along. The Premier has admitted that the cancellation was a—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock.
While I have both groups deciding how I’m going to judge and rule on language in this place, I’ll make the judgments on that.
I’m going to caution the member that I do not like the idea that you’re trying to find ways to say something that you’re not supposed to say directly—trying to find an indirect way to say it. I caution the member, last warning.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: The Premier has told this House numbers on various occasions that have been debunked outside this House.
Speaker, the reality is they made a political decision. The Globe and Mail has acknowledged that today.
She insults every single Ontarian when she says, “I really feel that my responsibility … is to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.” Talk about a deathbed conversion. She was the one who cancelled the plant. She signed the document, and she was the one who sat at the cabinet table.
So, Premier, will you finally admit in this House today that you knew all along that that $40 million was wrong and you made a crass political decision to—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Stop the clock. Be seated, please. Be seated, please. Thank you.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, it is very important that governments learn from mistakes that are made. For example, when a subway tunnel is built and is filled in, it’s very important that governments learn that that’s not a good idea and that in fact sets back transit building. When an asset like a public highway, like the 407, is sold—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Just as I was attempting to bring attention to the opposition for its loud, boisterous voices, I will do so with the government benches, in the name of the minister of rural Ontario and the Attorney General—along with those on the other side who are doing the same.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: When, for example, an asset like the 407 is sold, it’s very important that governments and future governments learn from those kinds of decisions and mistakes.
When these gas plants were relocated, I said over and over again and I continue to say that there were mistakes made; there were things that happened that should not have happened. I take responsibility for those, and my responsibility is to make sure that they do not happen again.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: If I had a cent for every single time a Liberal on that side of the House stood up and said, “It’s not going to happen again,” after Ornge, after eHealth, after OLG, after Pan Am, after, after, after every scandal, I could afford a power plant in Oakville.
For months my party has been calling for a judicial inquiry into this, but we now know that you will go to any lengths to suppress and obscure the truth and ensure that we don’t receive all of the true numbers. You have obstructed—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): No, no, no. That does go over the line so I’ll ask the member to withdraw. If you do not redirect in any other way, then I’m passing.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Sure, Speaker. My question—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Withdraw.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Withdrawn.
Premier, given that the two gas plant cancellations have now become the largest political scandal in Ontario’s history, where hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money was abused in order to save Liberal seats, will you finally admit today that you have orchestrated a scheme that outperforms the federal sponsorship scandal and that you have ensured that the people of this province are going to be paying well into the future—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Be seated, please. Be seated, please.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I wrote to the Auditor General. I asked the Auditor General of the day to look at the Oakville situation. I met with the Auditor General yesterday, Mr. Speaker. I have done everything in my power to make sure that the information that was asked for has been made available to those who have asked. I have opened up the process because I believe that it is our responsibility to learn from decisions that were made and make sure that those decisions, were they wrong-headed, are not repeated in the future. I believe that is our responsibility.
But the bottom line on energy in this province is, when we came into office, there was not a reliable transmission grid. There was not reliable generation. We have cleaned that up; we are closing the coal-fired plants. People in this province can depend on energy. They can depend on transmission. It’s clean, it’s renewable, and we have turned the corner on the fiasco that was left by the—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Be seated, please.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Premier. In 2010, the Liberal government in which the Premier proudly served cancelled a private power contract in Oakville, a contract that they had just signed months before. On October 18, 2010, the Minister of Energy said that “the costs, if there are any at all,” will “not even be close to the fearmongering numbers....”
Does the Premier still stand by her government’s comments in 2010?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: One of the issues about this whole discussion has been the degree to which the numbers have varied. There has been uncertainty in the advice that has been given to us repeatedly. Every time that I have spoken in the House, I have spoken with the numbers that I have been given, whether it’s in 2010, 2011 or today. The reality is that the numbers have varied. That is the case; that is the reality that we’re dealing with.
Unfortunately, it has been a challenge to get a handle on exactly what the numbers are, so that is why I asked the Auditor General to look at the situation. I asked her to give us an overview of the situation as she saw it, and that is what we will hear today when she releases her report at 3 o’clock.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, with all due respect, it hasn’t been the numbers that have been varying; it has been the information the Liberals have been able to give to the public that has been varying every single time. For two years the government refused to disclose information pertaining to the cost of cancelling the private power deal, blocking freedom-of-information requests and dodging questions in this House. They signed the contract; they cancelled it. But they refused to share the facts with the people of Ontario who would be paying the bills.
At one point, the Minister of Energy told me, “We’ll be happy to share ... the results of” the discussions with TransCanada when “they’re done ... we’re confident they’ll result in a good solution for everyone.”
Does the Premier think that her government delivered a good solution for everyone?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I think I’ve been very clear that I haven’t thought this process has been a good one at all. I said that from the outset, there should have been a better process in the siting of the gas plants.
Since I have been in this office, I have opened up the process. We’ve broadened the scope of the committee. We’ve provided 160,000 documents, and provided an opportunity for all the questions that the opposition members had to be answered.
The important piece right now is that we listen to what the Auditor General says and that we make sure that the policies that we’ve put in place going forward address the concerns, address the issues and address the mistakes that were made. That is our responsibility; that is what we’ll do.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: After the election, when the government finally, grudgingly admitted that the public would be on the hook for the Liberal Party’s crass decision, the member from Don Valley West, the current Premier, said: “The total cost of the relocation is $40 million.”
Does the Premier stand by her own assertion that the total cost of this crass political move would be $40 million?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Again, those are the sunk costs and those are the costs that are not retrievable and are not paying for any future benefit, and I think the leader of the third party knows that. I do stand by that number, but I have just said that the numbers have varied, that there have been other costs that have been included, and that is what the Auditor General will clarify today.
The fact is that we have opened up the process. In terms of the information that’s available, we have worked very hard to make sure that everything that has been asked for has been provided. That’s why 160,000 documents have been provided and that’s why 62 witnesses in 93 hours of testimony have gone before the committee to answer all of those questions: because we opened up the process.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also to the Premier. People know what’s going to happen today. The Premier will say sorry again and declare it’s time to turn the page. But the only reason that we are on this page is because at every single step of this saga, the government put the Liberal Party’s interests first and the people stuck paying the bills were an afterthought.
Does the Premier really think that the government deserves credit when they fought against transparency and accountability relentlessly for years?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, I have fought for transparency. Since I have been in this office, and throughout the run-up to the leadership, I said that it was absolutely imperative that we open up the process and that we provide information, and that’s what we have done.
But just to the leader of the third party’s point: In terms of how we got here, I think it is important to remember that there were experts who advised that the location of the gas plant should be where it was originally. The community objected to that, and I think it was at that juncture where the community was objecting, where there were voices being raised, and we did not pay close enough attention. We did not have a process in place that would have taken into account the concerns of the community. That’s where the original mistake was made, Mr. Speaker. That’s what we’ve corrected. That’s what can’t happen again.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: The Premier can try to replay it however she wants. The reality is, they signed the contract, and just a couple of months later, they cancelled it. Her story does not hold water, Speaker.
At every step of this scandal, the Liberal government has put its own political skin first. Transparency, honesty and the people of Ontario were distant afterthoughts for the Liberal government.
The Premier now wants credit for calling the Auditor General, but the reason we need the Auditor General in the first place is that at every single step along the way, this Liberal government has put spin, cynical politics and self-interest ahead of Ontarians.
Does the Premier realize that we are here today because her government has never once been upfront with the people of Ontario about how much it wasted on the Oakville gas plant?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I guess my question back to the leader of the third party is whether she understands that we’ve contracted to build 21 gas plants; 19 are up and running. These two did not—the process did not work as it should have.
But our interest is in the interest of having a stable electricity system in this province for the people of Ontario. My question to the leader of the third party would be, does she understand that? Does she understand the mess that the electricity system was in when we came into office in 2003, and did she have a plan to—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock.
Be seated, please. Be seated, please.
I’m looking for individuals. The member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke will come to order—last time. And the Minister of Rural Affairs is going to come to order. That’s his second time.
If anyone chooses to try to out-shout me, you’ll lose, and any other comments that are made when I’m trying to get control of this place.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, does the Premier know that every single person in Ontario knows that the difference with these two plants is that they threatened five Liberal seats if they were allowed to go forward?
People in this province are coping with very tough times, and a lot of them are wondering about whether they can hold a job, whether they can pay the bills, whether they can find the health care that they need for their loved ones. They see a government that has not only put the needs of their party ahead of the needs of the public, but that has acted as though people have no right to this information, even though they’re the ones who are stuck paying the bill.
So does the Premier understand that when she says sorry yet again today, it sounds like just another piece of empty Liberal spin?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I just do not accept the premise of the leader of the third party’s question, because the fact is, I have opened up the process. I have not been trying to hide information; I’ve been trying to provide information.
I know that people are struggling. I know that it is very important that we focus on the economy and work with the private sector to create jobs, Mr. Speaker. I understand that. But I also know that if we don’t have a reliable electricity system in the province—and I’m not talking just about the blackout; I’m talking about the state of our transmission, the state of distribution, the state of our renewables. We’ve worked on all of that since we came into office. We had a plan. We’ve executed it. There were two gas plants that the process did not work for. We’re changing that. We’ll make sure that that doesn’t happen again. But we have turned the corner on the electricity system in this—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.
Mr. Victor Fedeli: Thank you, Speaker, and good morning. My question is for the Premier. Later today, we’ll learn from the Auditor General just how desperate you were to save the Liberal seat in Oakville. We’ll learn three years after the cancellation of the gas plant just how much cash you were willing to squeeze from Ontarians to put the Liberal interests ahead of theirs. But you already knew what you were getting us into when you signed the cabinet document that started this whole payment process back in July 2011. So you either knew the magnitude of this cancellation and what it would mean to families or you blindly signed a document, not caring how much you spent to save that Liberal seat. So which was it, Premier: “I don’t know” or “I don’t care”?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, I have appeared before the committee. I’ve been quite clear about what I knew and what I didn’t know. What I will say again is that we were advised that waiting to relocate the plant until after construction had begun could have been much more expensive, so we were doing everything that we could to mitigate those costs.
The reality is that I appeared before committee. I was very clear about my role, which was not central in terms of decision-making. What we have done since I’ve been in this office is to have opened up the process to provide all of that information, and people have come before the committee and have answered the questions from the member opposite repeatedly.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.
Mr. Victor Fedeli: Speaker, the most astonishing fact is that while many of us spent the last 12 months trying to get to the truth, we still don’t know how much it cost to cancel the Oakville plant. The Premier talks about transparency, but 150,000 documents later, they were still able to keep the truth from us.
You knew last fall, when you tried to pass off $40 million as the amount, that it was much, much more than that. Your energy minister has said $40 million. Other members of your caucus and your cabinet have said $40 million, but we know that number is not true.
So, Premier, who are you going to hold accountable over this? Who is going to lose their job? Is it going to be the energy minister, the finance minister, or should it be you, Premier?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): You may be surprised at my next comment.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: The very reason that I wrote to the Auditor General and asked the Auditor General of the day to look at the Oakville situation, Mr. Speaker, was because there was confusion. There were questions about the numbers. The $40 million in sunk costs was not the whole cost. It was very clear that there were a lot of questions about what the total cost was. That’s why I asked the Auditor General to look at the situation. That’s why we’re getting a report today. That’s why the Auditor General will be releasing her report and there will be more light shone on what the costs were.
Had I not wanted that information out, I wouldn’t have asked the Auditor General to look at the situation. I did that and opened up the process. That’s why we’ll get the report today, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Premier. Published reports suggest that this afternoon’s Auditor General’s report will show that TransCanada would not have been entitled to damages if the government had not pulled the plug as part of its seat-saver program. These reports say that because of opposition from both the township of Oakville and residents, TransCanada would likely never have gotten a shovel in the ground and the contract would have terminated on its own.
Why did this government waste hundreds of millions of dollars cancelling the Oakville plant when it had no legal obligation to do so?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Government House leader.
Hon. John Milloy: I think the first point is that we should wait for the Auditor General’s report to come out this afternoon.
The second point is there has been testimony in front of committee about the situation in Oakville and the efforts that were being made both by the municipality and by the power plant.
More importantly, perhaps the honourable member in his supplementary wants to explain his opposition to this very plant. Maybe he wants to explain why he told InsideHalton on October 7, 2010, “I don’t agree with the Oakville power plant. I don’t think it is necessary.”
Perhaps he wants to talk about why the member from Beaches–East York, his colleague, said, “I’m glad that the people of Oakville came to their senses. I’m glad the people of Oakville hired Erin Brockovich and did all the things that they did in order to have this killed.”
Mr. Speaker, it’s a bit rich for that member, who led the opposition of his party against this plant, to stand up—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Well, you can tell you’ve got a good question when there’s a major dodge going on.
If the Oakville contract had simply run its course, it likely would have been terminated due to events beyond the control of TransCanada. The company would have been entitled to no damages under that scenario. But that scenario would have taken several years to unfold. It would have threatened the Liberal seat-saver program.
How does the government justify a crass political decision to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to save Liberal seats?
Hon. John Milloy: This is so rich, coming from that member. When there was an issue in his own riding with Portlands Energy, a very similar one, this is what—let me quote from the Beach-Riverdale Mirror:
“Tabuns vowed he won’t be bound by the Liberal government’s plans for his riding, which include constructing the natural-gas-fired $700-million, 550-megawatt Portlands Energy Centre at the unused R.L. Hearn station in partnership with TransCanada Energy.... ” Listen to this quote, everyone. Listen to this quote from the member: “‘This is going to be a political decision, but it needs someone who’s going to be a champion for Toronto–Danforth,’ he said.”
Mr. Speaker, it’s a little rich that that member could stand here today and ask that question.
Ms. Helena Jaczek: My question is for the Minister of Finance. I know that for many years, our government has taken a leadership role among the provinces in promoting the establishment of a common securities regulator for all of Canada. Businesses in Ontario and in my riding of Oak Ridges–Markham have long been concerned that our current system is a patchwork of securities regulators that place unnecessary costs on business and add to the burden of red tape facing their competitiveness.
My constituents and businesses in my community are pleased to hear that you have made recent announcements on steps to correct the current system. Can you please provide the House with an update on the establishment of a common securities regulator for all of Canada?
Hon. Charles Sousa: Thank you to the member from Oak Ridges–Markham for the question. She’s absolutely correct: Our government has long advocated for and taken leadership in the creation of a co-operative securities regulator right here in Canada.
A few weeks ago, I was pleased to be joined by my counterparts from the federal government and British Columbia to make that historic announcement. Together, we’ll establish a co-operative regulator.
In our last budget, we laid out the framework for such a regulator, and this agreement is based just on that. It will add real benefits to Canadians and to our businesses; it will increase the ability of those businesses to raise capital; and it will allow households to save and invest with more confidence. Of course, in all, it will help create jobs and grow our economy.
Mr. Speaker, this is important: Toronto and Ontario are home to Canada’s largest securities market and regulator. As has long been said, that co-operative securities regulator should be based in Toronto, and that’s exactly where it will be.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Ms. Helena Jaczek: Thank you to the Minister of Finance for providing that update. I agree that this new regulator is long overdue and will help to ensure that Ontario and Canada maintain our competitive advantage and prosper in a globalized world.
I know this issue is of special importance to the minister, as he provided a statement to this assembly in March 2010 advocating for a co-operative regulator. Given the minister’s recent announcement with British Columbia to establish a co-operative securities regulator, it is essential Ontario continues to lead the Federation in building consensus on this important issue.
Mr. Speaker, could the minister please speak to some of the specifics of this new regulator and how Ontario will engage more provinces in this process?
Hon. Charles Sousa: While the head office will be based in Toronto, it will build on and respect the unique strengths across the country by creating regional offices as well.
Essential to the new co-operative regulator will be this pooling of provincial, territorial and federal expertise. It will allow Canada as a whole to better compete in the global economy. It will reduce costs, increase efficiencies to capital markets regulation, strengthen the competitiveness of the economy and attract more investment, all the while enhancing the reputation of our country’s financial services sector, much of which is based here in Ontario.
This was a provincial solution, Mr. Speaker. It’s a bottom-up approach, and it’s working. This is an historic moment, making all of Canada, as well as Ontario, a more attractive location for investment.
Mrs. Julia Munro: My question is to the Premier. Premier, today the Auditor General will hand down yet another report. This will be the sixth special report from the AG in four years. These six reports on scandals are in direct response to your government’s actions.
With the eHealth report, Premier McGuinty said, “We welcome the auditor’s report, we accept his findings and we commit to adopting every single one of his recommendations.”
With the consultants in health care report, Minister Matthews said, “Thank you to the Auditor General.”
With the Ornge report, Minister Duncan said, “I look forward to the recommendations of the Auditor General….”
With the Mississauga gas plant cancellation report, Premier, you said, “We welcome his report….”
Since it’s clear you don’t have a jobs creation plan, is this your big plan, to keep the auditor employed, after thanking her, of course?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Well, Mr. Speaker, I was waiting for a little bit of meat in that question. The reality is that, as the reports come forward and as the recommendations come out—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): First of all, the member asked the question. I’m sure she wants to hear. And the other members are shouting somebody down, and I don’t think that’s going to get anywhere.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Of course, Mr. Speaker, when the reports are tabled, we appreciate them and we receive them, but the next step is to implement them, and that’s what we do. We’re implementing the recommendations.
When I talk about the way government has to learn from challenges and mistakes that are made, that is about implementing recommendations of the experts who look and say, “This is what happened and this is what should happen next.”
We’ve implemented the recommendations on Ornge. We’re implementing the recommendations on eHealth, and I look forward to the recommendations of the Auditor General today.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.
Mrs. Julia Munro: The Auditor General’s responsibility is to assess the value for money of a government project or program. She asks, “Did the taxpayers get their money’s worth?” From the past six reports, the answer is a resounding no. Your government has heard so much advice from the Auditor General that people are left wondering if you rely on the Auditor General’s reports as part of your strategic planning.
My residents are understandably aghast at the gas plants scandal, and they want your government held accountable for all its actions. How do you explain your record of scathing Auditor General reports to taxpayers?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Here’s how government works: Any government of any stripe has a plan. We have had a plan; we have implemented our plan. At regular intervals and sometimes in special reports, the Auditor General and other externals officers will look at what government has done and will make recommendations that will improve the process. I think that it is a sign of a strong and intelligent and learning government that when those reports come forward, when recommendations are made by people who have expert advice, that we can implement changes, and government then can evolve to be more accountable and to do the business of government and the business of the people of the province better.
I think that’s what government exists to do. It exists to improve the lot of people in the province, to provide services in a way that is rational and that is cost-effective. There can be recommendations from sources, including the Auditor General, that can improve those processes.
We look forward to the recommendations of the Auditor General this afternoon.
PAN AM GAMES
Mr. Paul Miller: My question is to the minister responsible for the Pan Am Games. Two weeks ago, I met with workers from Clairmont Electric, in Hamilton, to discuss safety concerns they had about the construction at the Pan Am stadium. They informed me that they were asked to sign a document permitting non-electrical workers to install electrical equipment, all in the interest of cutting costs. The College of Trades, which this government established, was put into place to prevent these types of practices.
Does the minister believe that the use of labourers with no specialized training in electrical work is the safest way to install electrical equipment at the Pan Am venues?
Hon. Michael Chan: This is more of a labour issue, and I’m going to direct the supplementary to the Minister of Labour.
Talking about the capital project on Pan Am Games, we are doing a fantastic job up to this point of time. I’ll tell you why: All the capital projects are on time and on budget. The early numbers coming back here are under budget—under budget, Speaker; at this point in time, $50 million under budget. This is very good news for the Pan Am Games.
We are right now on stage two, which is the operation of the Pan and Parapan American Games. This week, the international people are in town. PASO are in town to celebrate the Pan and Parapan Am Games.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Paul Miller: Well, the safety of the spectators and the athletes who will be using the Pan Am venues should be the minister’s primary concern. Unfortunately, the minister has decided to give Pan Am executives lavish bonuses but cut costs by hiring non-electrical workers to do electrical work. Those bonuses will be rolling in, I think.
Will the minister get his priorities straight and put public safety above the perks of Pan Am executives?
Hon. Michael Chan: Minister of Labour.
Hon. Yasir Naqvi: To the member opposite’s question, the health and safety of workers and the public is obviously the paramount priority for the government.
The certification of trades falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. However, during the transition period, enforcement of said certification currently falls under the Ministry of Labour.
Ministry of Labour inspectors carry out this enforcement during field visits. An inspector visiting any construction project would routinely audit compulsory trades, including electricians, and take enforcement action where a non-licensed person was performing the work of an electrician.
In this particular case, the Ministry of Labour has visited the site seven different times on different matters to make sure that all rules are complied with. It is our understanding that the College of Trades is aware of Clairmont Electric’s concern, but no formal complaint has been filed at this time. Therefore, no investigation can be done of the issues that have been raised by the member.
PROTECTION OF RESOURCES
Mr. Bill Mauro: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, Atikokan is a community in my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan about two hours west of the city of Thunder Bay. In the day, Atikokan peaked at a population of 7,000, 8,000 or 9,000 people, and that population growth was fueled by the creation of two large mines, Steep Rock Iron Mines and Caland Ore.
Necessary for the creation of those mines was the creation of a series of earthen dams in and around the area to prevent natural drainage from flowing into those mines. Once the dams were created, the lake was pumped out, and the mines were created. Now, one of these earthen dams is called the Hardy Dam. This dam has been the subject of concern since first being identified by the MNR some years ago with the potential for some failure.
My question to the minister is simply this: Can the minister describe for the community of Atikokan and for this House what we’ve done up until this point to ensure the structural integrity of that particular dam?
Hon. David Orazietti: The member from Thunder Bay–Atikokan is raising a very important public safety concern in his riding. The Hardy Dam is one of 391 dams that our ministry is responsible for across the province. This year, MNR will allocate $6.25 million to repair and maintain these dams. The dams provide a number of benefits, including controlling flooding and drought, producing hydroelectric power, providing recreational opportunities and preventing the spread of invasive species.
We take the safety of all dams, including the Hardy Dam, very seriously. We’ve undertaken emergency repairs in response to the sinkholes and seepage issues that have developed at the Hardy Dam site. Since 2004, we have spent over $1 million on engineering evaluations, repairs and installing equipment to help monitor the dam.
MNR has retained a senior geotechnical engineer to monitor the dam. We’ve also installed equipment to measure hydraulic pressure inside the dam.
The senior geotechnical engineer will review the data, and we will ensure that there’s ongoing—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?
Mr. Bill Mauro: I want to thank the minister for that response. As he’s aware, there is significant political concern from Mayor Brown in Atikokan—from the entire council in Atikokan—about the results if that dam were to fail.
Highway 622 is a main artery in Atikokan. That would be compromised. There’s a rail spur line that feeds the Ontario generating plant that’s now being converted to biomass. That would be compromised. The ski hill would be compromised.
But perhaps most importantly, should the dam fail, the infill rates from that failed dam into the old mine site that currently contains significantly contaminated water would raise the rates of infill to the point where that mine site could potentially overflow its banks, and that contaminated water could then potentially find its way into the Seine River system. This would be a consequence of international proportions.
Minister, thank you for what we’ve done so far. Speaker, my question is: Can the minister describe for the political leadership in Atikokan and northern Ontario what our plans are on a go-forward basis?
Hon. David Orazietti: The member from Thunder Bay–Atikokan is aware that we are taking immediate steps to ensure public safety with respect to this dam. We’re in the process of securing a contract with an engineering firm to repair the dam and reduce water pressure, and funding has been allocated for the project to begin immediately.
MNR expects the repair work to extend the dam’s operating life by about 10 years, allowing time for a long-term decision on the future of the dam.
Monitoring of the dam has been increased to twice daily, with regular reports from those on site. We’ve also established an emergency preparedness plan, which is designed to ensure MNR and its partners are prepared to implement measures should the failure occur.
This plan ensures stakeholders are notified and that we’ll work together with the emergency response officials to implement measures to ensure public safety. We’ll continue to work with the community of Atikokan and stakeholders to ensure the long-term stability of the dam.
PAN AM GAMES
Mr. Rod Jackson: My question today is for the Premier. Premier, it’s easy to be generous when you’re spending other people’s money, and you’re definitely setting an example.
Recently, you defended the $7-million bonus package for TO2015 executives saying it wasn’t “out of whack”—public servants receiving 200% of their bloated salary for showing up for work. Then, you let 76% of them take advantage of taxpayer money and more by misfiling their expenses.
Tomorrow, you’re throwing a lavish Pan Am party for $500,000. Out of respect for the Ontario taxpayer, Premier, the Ontario PC Party unanimously agreed not to attend.
Premier, are you going to continue to let the entitlement thrive, or shut these ridiculous completion bonuses down and stop the frivolous spending?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: As I said in response to an earlier question, we bid on the Pan Am Games. The Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the third party agreed that it was a good thing to do, that we should go for it and we should try to get the Pan Am Games here in Ontario.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Well, your leader agreed.
So as the host of the 2015 games—just to the issue of the reception—it’s a requirement to hold a general assembly reception, to host that meeting here in the venue where the Pan Am Games are going to be held. The host for the next Pan Am Games will be chosen as a part of that meeting. So it’s all part of the package.
We believe that the 26,000 jobs that are going to be created as a result of having the Pan Am bid, the legacy venues for athletes for generations to come—we believe those are good things. It’s unfortunate, I think, that the opposition doesn’t agree.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Rod Jackson: Premier, no one disagrees that the Pan Am Games are going to be a good thing for Ontario. We’ve never said anything different than that. The question is, at what cost? And what is the cost?
I want to be clear that the Pan/Parapan American Games are about our province and about our athletes, yet the average income for a high-performance athlete at the Pan Am level is $29,000—$10,000 less than the average Canadian personal income. More tellingly, it is $450,000 less than that of the Pan Am CEO, who’s definitely taking home the gold there. And that doesn’t include the 200% bonus just for showing up for work, or the unlimited expense account, or the world-class partying, or the countless other perks that we’re still learning about.
Premier, is prolific spending a new Pan Am sport?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: The reality is that in order to be able to get these games, we had to compete with cities around the Americas. In order to get the Pan/Parapan Am Games, we had to put in place a competitive bid. Part of that competitive bid was having in place a secretariat, having in place a compensation package that would bring people in who would run the games, the calibre of which would have competed with the other cities. That’s the reality.
I’m not defending particular compensation packages. What I’m defending is the notion that we would have the Pan/Parapan Am Games, that it’s a good thing for the province, Mr. Speaker—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is the member from Renfrew tired yet?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): And I’m wondering if the member from Prince Edward–Hastings is.
You have 10 seconds.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: These compensation packages are based on the officials from Vancouver 2010 and the London 2012 Olympic Games, successful events. This is the largest multi-sport—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. That’s 10 seconds. New question.
Mr. Michael Prue: My question is to the Premier. Yesterday, I met with mayors from the Niagara region. The lack of convenient and affordable regional transit was raised by them: the fact that there are summer-only, weekend-only GO trains to and from St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, but not a single weekday train for Niagara commuters who need to get to work in Hamilton, Burlington or Toronto.
How is it that this government has hundreds of millions of dollars to move gas plants and protect its own interests, but no money to put in place year-round daily GO train service between Toronto and the Niagara region?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I really enjoy the third party, because they’re never crass or political. Unlike all the other parties in the House, they are above politics. We listened to questions about Windsor and London for some reason last session, and now they’ve discovered Niagara region. Someone bought them a new map. I’m so glad these are not politically motivated questions, because you people never do that; you’re not politicians.
Mr. Speaker, we have expanded track. We are building a new station in Hamilton. We now have the GO bike service. We’re working with Mayor Diodati to put in unprecedented levels of transit investment. We’re well aware of that agenda.
We’re still making up for cuts from the two parties opposite when they were in government, but I’m glad the member opposite has a map of Ontario now.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.
Mr. Michael Prue: Thank you for that very insulting answer.
The people of Niagara region and the commuters would take GO Transit and avoid congested highways if there was reasonable GO service. Instead, the Liberal government expects Niagara Falls and St. Catharines residents to wait up to 90 minutes for a weekday morning GO bus. That’s not feasible for busy families with many demands.
Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on its own interests, why won’t the government invest in the needs of Niagara residents and commit now to a delivery date for all-day GO train service to Niagara? The mayors want to know—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Excuse me. I’d like to ask the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek not to heckle when your member is asking a question.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: One of my partner’s favourite activities is getting on the bike trains that go to Niagara and doing the Welland loop. It’s an amazing experience and we’re very proud of that.
Mr. Speaker, we have $507 million going right now as part of a $602-million investment in highway infrastructure in Niagara region. We have put $54.4 million into transit in the Niagara region; in highway infrastructure right now, as I said, $602 million; and we’ve invested $34.4 million in roads and municipal infrastructure related to transportation.
We’re making major investments right now in buying track from CN and expanding track capacity, and we’re working with the municipalities to improve highway local transit at an unprecedented level. We’re proud of that record.
Mr. Grant Crack: My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. Our economic plan is investing in people; it’s investing in infrastructure; it’s creating the right business climate for job creation right here in Ontario.
During my time as a municipal mayor, and now, as I serve the constituents of Glengarry–Prescott–Russell as their MPP, jobs and the economy continue to be a priority in the discussions I have with them on a regular basis.
I know that our government has made some tremendous strides in rural Ontario through our regional economic development funds. I would ask the minister if he could provide this House with an update on how the funds are being allocated and how they are creating jobs across this province.
Hon. Eric Hoskins: Thanks to the member for this important question. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, a fund that has already helped to create and retain more than 6,300 jobs across southwestern Ontario—over $25 million of government investment, and it has leveraged nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in private sector investment—jobs in great places like Middlesex county, Breslau, Elmira, Tillsonburg, Cambridge, Wallaceburg, Guelph, Palmerston, Woodstock and Brantford.
In eastern Ontario, 12 company expansions in Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry, 11 in Northumberland–Quinte West, six projects in Leeds–Grenville and 11 in Prince Edward–Hastings—these four sets of investments in eastern Ontario alone have driven more than $40 million of economic growth in eastern Ontario.
Both funds have secured over 19,000 jobs since their inception, with many more to come.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Grant Crack: Thank you, Minister, for the update, and thanks for all the good work you do on behalf of Ontarians. It’s great to hear that the work of our government is facilitating to help create jobs and to stimulate the economy.
Coming from a rural riding, I know that what may work in Toronto might not work in rural Ontario. But as we’re all under one umbrella, we’re all one Ontario, and when it comes to job creation in this province, we all stand to benefit from the economic growth throughout the province.
Our government is creating the right economic climate for businesses while supporting them across this province. I ask the minister to provide this House as to what specific action we are taking to help businesses stay and grow right here in Ontario.
Hon. Eric Hoskins: I’m happy to speak about what else we’re doing for businesses across the province. On top of the $88 million that we’ve committed so far through our regional funds, we’re also supporting businesses in a number of important ways.
In the last five years, we’ve eliminated 80,000 regulatory requirements for business; that’s a 17% reduction. We’ve extended the accelerated capital cost allowance for the purchase of machinery. We’ve recently announced a three-year, $25-million social enterprise initiative to help build that sector in Ontario. We’ll very shortly be rolling out three additional funds, valued at $100 million, targeting our youth. And of course we introduced legislation, our Supporting Small Businesses Act, which will increase the exemption threshold for employers who have to pay the—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.
Ms. Laurie Scott: My question is to the Minister of Finance. Last Monday, on September 30, your government quietly gave a very generous grant in the amount of $500,000 to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, a multi-billion-dollar company, to help host the 2016 NBA all-star game. The grant was part of the Celebrate Ontario initiative that is supposed to help draw tourists for events that may not have the ability to do so without government assistance.
To think that MLSE could not host this event without a grant is ludicrous and an insult to the taxpayers who can’t afford to go see the game. How many Raptors tickets will this $500,000 grant buy for you and your Liberal colleagues?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please.
Mr. John Yakabuski: That’s an air ball. You just threw up an air ball there, Charles.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): And I’ll provide the technical fouls to go along with it.
Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, I’m going to give the supplementary to the Minister of Tourism, who is doing an outstanding job of attracting an NBA all-star game that has never occurred—in its 65-year history, it’s always been in the United States. It’s coming to Canada.
The individuals across the aisle don’t seem to appreciate that it’s not the amount of money that’s being invested, but the amount of money that’s going to be earned: $95 million coming to the province of Ontario. That never would have been possible if the Minister of Tourism didn’t take the leadership to attract it here in the first place.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Ms. Laurie Scott: We all know the NBA game was going to come here whether your government gave money or not. It’s ludicrous to say that.
There is still no justification as to why the Liberals feel the need to keep handing out taxpayers’ money. I’m sure my fellow members of Parliament did not forget the scandal of 2007, when the Ontario Cricket Association received $1 million from the Liberal government when it had only asked for $150,000.
For a decade, this Liberal government has wasted hundreds of millions and billions of taxpayers’ dollars on debacles such as gas plants, Ornge, the Green Energy Act and eHealth. This is the same old pattern as under Dalton McGuinty. When will the abuse of taxpayers’ money stop?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please.
Minister of Finance.
Hon. Charles Sousa: The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Hon. Michael Chan: Thank you for the question. I am quite surprised that the member opposite was silent when we supported the 2012 NHL all-star game in Ottawa. She was silent when we supported the Grey Cup game last year in Toronto.
It’s a good thing to do. Look at these economic benefits: There will be 100,000 people watching the game come 2016. It would attract 75,000 tourists and 30,000 overnight visitors coming to town. The NBA all-star game will broadcast to 214 countries. The total audience is 200 million. It will also attract 1,800 media members coming to town.
One more time—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: My question is to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Parkdale Community Information Centre in my riding was one of many centres across the province notified of funding cuts to pay equity funds. Worse, these funding cuts were applied retroactively to last April 2013. For the Parkdale centre, that is thousands and thousands of dollars in cuts, midway into the budget year, that they had absolutely no chance to plan for.
Why is this government creating turmoil in these centres and taking away funds they had already promised, while spending millions in perks for Pan Am execs?
Hon. Michael Chan: I think the member opposite was talking about a singular matter that I’m not familiar with. I will get back to her to get more information on the matter she is talking about.
In terms of the Pan Am Games, we’ve talked—
Hon. Ted McMeekin: She should share them.
Hon. Michael Chan: No, this is a fantastic time to celebrate the Pan Am Games because the international guests are in town this week for the AGM, and also to pick and choose the next Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in, I think, 2019.
Again, right now, the Pan Am Games capital projects are all on time, on budget or under budget by $50 million.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): In the Speaker’s gallery today I have guests from the riding of Brant: David Hill, Mike Ellis, Aaron Hill, Mary McGee, Julie Sguigna and Scott Smith. I’d like to welcome them here to Queen’s Park. Thank you for being here.
Hon. Michael Coteau: I’d like to welcome, in the west members’ gallery, Judia Mark and Justin Lai, who are the brother and mother of Megan Lai, one of our pages here in the Legislature today.
AGREEMENTS ACT, 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 SUR LES CONVENTIONS
DE SERVICES SANS FIL
Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of the following bill:
Bill 60, An Act to strengthen consumer protection with respect to consumer agreements relating to wireless services accessed from a cellular phone, smart phone or any other similar mobile device / Projet de loi 60, Loi visant à mieux protéger les consommateurs en ce qui concerne les conventions de consommation portant sur les services sans fil accessibles au moyen d’un téléphone cellulaire, d’un téléphone intelligent ou de tout autre appareil mobile semblable.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1140 to 1145.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Members take their seats, please.
On September 10, Ms. MacCharles moved second reading of Bill 60. All those in favour, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.
- Albanese, Laura
- Armstrong, Teresa J.
- Arnott, Ted
- Bailey, Robert
- Balkissoon, Bas
- Bartolucci, Rick
- Berardinetti, Lorenzo
- Bisson, Gilles
- Campbell, Sarah
- Cansfield, Donna H.
- Chan, Michael
- Chiarelli, Bob
- Chudleigh, Ted
- Clark, Steve
- Colle, Mike
- Coteau, Michael
- Crack, Grant
- Damerla, Dipika
- Del Duca, Steven
- Delaney, Bob
- Dhillon, Vic
- Dickson, Joe
- DiNovo, Cheri
- Duguid, Brad
- Dunlop, Garfield
- Elliott, Christine
- Fedeli, Victor
- Fife, Catherine
- Flynn, Kevin Daniel
- Forster, Cindy
- Fraser, John
- Gerretsen, John
- Gélinas, France
- Gravelle, Michael
- Hardeman, Ernie
- Harris, Michael
- Hatfield, Percy
- Holyday, Douglas C.
- Horwath, Andrea
- Hoskins, Eric
- Hudak, Tim
- Jackson, Rod
- Jaczek, Helena
- Jeffrey, Linda
- Jones, Sylvia
- Klees, Frank
- Kwinter, Monte
- Leal, Jeff
- Leone, Rob
- MacLaren, Jack
- MacLeod, Lisa
- Mangat, Amrit
- Mantha, Michael
- Marchese, Rosario
- Matthews, Deborah
- Mauro, Bill
- McDonell, Jim
- McKenna, Jane
- McMeekin, Ted
- McNaughton, Monte
- McNeely, Phil
- Meilleur, Madeleine
- Miller, Norm
- Miller, Paul
- Milloy, John
- Moridi, Reza
- Munro, Julia
- Murray, Glen R.
- Naqvi, Yasir
- Natyshak, Taras
- Nicholls, Rick
- O’Toole, John
- Orazietti, David
- Pettapiece, Randy
- Piruzza, Teresa
- Prue, Michael
- Qaadri, Shafiq
- Sandals, Liz
- Sattler, Peggy
- Schein, Jonah
- Scott, Laurie
- Shurman, Peter
- Singh, Jagmeet
- Smith, Todd
- Sousa, Charles
- Tabuns, Peter
- Takhar, Harinder S.
- Taylor, Monique
- Thompson, Lisa M.
- Vanthof, John
- Walker, Bill
- Wilson, Jim
- Wong, Soo
- Wynne, Kathleen O.
- Yakabuski, John
- Yurek, Jeff
- Zimmer, David
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.
The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 97; the nays are 0.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I declare the motion carried.
Second reading agreed to.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Pursuant to the order of the House dated October 3, 2013, the bill is referred to the Standing Committee on General Government.
There are no further votes. This House stands adjourned until 3 p.m. this afternoon.
The House recessed from 1149 to 1500.
SPECIAL REPORT, AUDITOR GENERAL
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I beg to inform the House that I have laid upon the table a special report from the Auditor General entitled Oakville Power Plant Cancellation Costs.
GEISSBERGER FARMHOUSE CIDER
Mr. John O’Toole: I have several statements here; I only have time for one, though. Innovation in farms and agriculture are an important part of Durham region’s agricultural heritage. I’d like to celebrate that in the few days before Thanksgiving weekend, when we all have to thank a farmer. I’m pleased to report that my constituents Gord and Garry Geissberger were honoured with a Leaders in Innovation award at the Premier’s Summit on Agri-Food Innovation.
Geissberger’s Farmhouse Cider uses an award-winning “bag-in-box” technology that keeps cider fresh and tasty without preservatives or refrigeration. The provincial award, presented on October 7, recognizes the Geissberger family’s development of a mobile apple cider mill that is the first of its kind for Ontario. This mobile cider mill brings the bag-in-box cider packaging technology to smaller orchards and households.
This family business is located near Mitchell’s Corner in my riding of Durham, in the community of Clarington. It was founded by dairy farmer Hans Geissberger, the grandfather of the current owners. Hans Geissberger emigrated from Switzerland in 1925.
I would like to commend Geissberger’s Farmhouse Cider for its leadership, innovation, initiative, courage and perseverance. Congratulations on this provincial award from myself, the constituents in the riding of Durham and, indeed, all people in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Autumn is a season when farming is top of mind in my riding, as it is across the province of Ontario. It is my honour to rise today and pay tribute to the hard-working farm families in my riding of Essex on this, the 15th anniversary of Agriculture Week in Ontario.
As you know, Essex county is blessed with the longest growing season in Canada. To extend that growing season further, Essex county also has the highest concentration of greenhouse vegetable growers anywhere in our country, and greenhouse producers are keeping much of the value-added work in-house by processing, packaging and shipping fresh Essex county produce throughout Canada and the world.
The agriculture sector in Essex county is a huge driver of our economy. We have over 1,200 businesses registered in this sector, and that number continues to grow. The sector has been identified by Workforce WindsorEssex as a promising sector for employment. Increasingly, my constituents are turning to locally grown and produced food and drink options. Thanks to initiatives like Grown Right Here and the growing prevalence of farmers’ markets, the ability to make that choice to buy local is much easier and more accessible. Also, there’s some great work being done by my friend Adriano Ciotoli at WindsorEats in promoting culinary tourism in Windsor and Essex county.
As often is the case, where there is opportunity, there are also challenges. In order to support continued growth in the agricultural sector, we must invest in the energy distribution network to get much-needed hydro to greenhouse growers. We must also invest in the education of our future workers in the sector in order to meet the increasing challenges of technology. Mr. Speaker, I’m certain that you could concur.
If you ate today, thank a farmer. If you are a farmer, thank you.
Mr. Steven Del Duca: Today I rise to recognize Hospice Vaughan, a dedicated organization working in my community.
One of the most difficult things we face as human beings is our own mortality. Death doesn’t discriminate. It is always untimely and rarely are we ever prepared for it. It’s even harder for us to comprehend the loss of a loved one, and in these dark moments we look for the support and guidance we need to move forward.
Hospice Vaughan provides those in the last stages of their lives with the emotional and spiritual support and care they need. They guide family and friends through the healing process and give those facing heartbreaking loss the strength to find hope and meaning in life once again.
On October 18, Hospice Vaughan will be hosting its annual Giving Thanks Gala. This event is organized by a dedicated group, and I’d like to take a moment to thank Alessandra Piccolo, John Amendola, Carmela Sisto, Lucy Cardile and the rest of the Hospice Vaughan board, all of who continue to do amazing work in my community.
I also want to thank two individuals who are particularly important to me, Anna Venturo and Almerinda Casciato, who do a fantastic job in my constituency office and who also serve on the Hospice Vaughan board.
Speaker, organizations like Hospice Vaughan help keep our communities connected during hardship. All Vaughan residents are comforted in knowing that we are able to find support and assistance when experiencing difficult times.
HALL OF FAME
Mr. Todd Smith: I rise today to recognize Ontario Agriculture Week and also the six newest inductees from Prince Edward–Hastings into the Quinte Agricultural Hall of Fame at Farmtown Park in Stirling.
Bill and Marilyn Brant have been fixtures in the Tyendinaga Mohawk community for decades. Since 1984, Bill has been the chair of the Indian Agricultural Program of Ontario, a program for status native farmers in Ontario. Bill served on the Mohawk band council for more than 10 years, including four as chief. The Brants are the first First Nations inductees into the hall of fame.
The late Bill Greer was an institution in Wellington. As a farmer, Bill’s family was known for producing some of the best tomatoes and berries in Prince Edward county. Greer Canning was a big employer as well, and quite a job, as the employees actually had to peel those tomatoes by hand. Bill’s passion for pumpkins helped lead to the founding of Prince Edward county’s Pumpkinfest in 1997. As a matter of fact, he was the first Ontarian to grow a 1,000-pound pumpkin. It was purchased by a company in California and shipped out there at $10 a pound.
Tweed township might not exist today had it not been for Don Martin. He was a director for Bay of Quinte Agricultural Mutual Fire Insurance for 30 years. He served nine years on Hungerford township council, and then on the amalgamation committee with the village of Tweed and Elzevir township. He was also awarded a Centennial Certificate of Merit from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture in 1988.
The last inductees were my dear friends Russell and Mary Sills. Sadly, we lost Russell last year. If anyone could be said to be a fixture in the Stirling community, it was Russell and his work in the farming area. I know that Russell would never forgive me if I left this out, but he bled Tory blue every day, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Michael Prue: I do not usually comment in this particular minute and a half on events of the House, but I feel today I must. I was appalled by the response given by the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation to what I thought was a very civilized and sane question this morning.
For the record, I met with mayors in the Niagara region yesterday in St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake. That is part of my job as the MPP for Beaches–East York and as the critic for finance. It’s also, I think, part of my job because I am a former mayor myself, and I understand the needs of communities across this province.
I went there looking for economic initiatives that they are undertaking and the help that this province might be able to give them, and the response I received today I can only describe as mealy-mouthed and unbefitting of the status of the minister who gave it.
It is not just me who takes umbrage at this. The minister received an email immediately after he said what he said in the House. I can only read part of it: “I was just watching question period when Mr. Prue asked an important question regarding transportation in the Niagara region.”
It goes on to say, “As someone who resides in St. Catharines and has lived in the Niagara region my entire life, I found the ‘humour’ in your response to Mr. Prue’s question to be offensive. Could you not simply have stood up and given your response in a respectful manner, something I believe the citizens of the Niagara region would have appreciated and deserved.”
I think the minister owes this House an apology.
Ms. Helena Jaczek: Today, I would like to recognize the auspicious period of Navratri that is currently being observed by our Hindu brothers and sisters across the province.
In Sanskrit, the word “Navratri” means “nine nights.” During this period, Hindus worship God in the form of the deity Durga and other female deities, such as Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and Saraswati, the goddess of education and knowledge.
Navratri, which is celebrated twice a year during the spring and autumn, symbolizes the triumph of the forces of good over evil. Throughout this time, feasting and fasting take priority for millions of Hindus. Celebrations and worship take place during the evening, when devotees gather at temples and homes to sing, pray and perform a traditional Indian dance known as Garba, a folk dance that originated from the Gujarat region of India. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport and I have been given lessons in this traditional dance at Sanatan Mandir in my riding of Oak Ridges–Markham, and we’ve had a great time participating.
As Hindus across York region visit local temples like Sanatan Mandir in Markham or Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill, I would like to extend my best wishes to them during this auspicious period. Let’s all cherish and celebrate our religious diversity in one Ontario.
CONNECTING LINK PROGRAM
Mr. Ted Arnott: The cancellation of the Ministry of Transportation’s Connecting Link Program is a disgraceful abrogation of responsibility on the part of the Liberal government. Earlier this year, in spite of a commitment to all municipalities, the spirit of which was intended to assure them that no significant decisions affecting the budgets of those municipalities would be taken by the provincial government without consultation, the provincial government arbitrarily and suddenly cancelled the Connecting Link Program, which I believe has existed since 1927, when George Howard Ferguson was Premier of Ontario. Since before the Depression, since before the Second World War, since before any member of the current Legislature was even born, the Connecting Link Program has been a joint partnership between local and provincial government.
Recognizing that provincial traffic on provincial highways travels through built-up areas in smaller communities, the Connecting Link Program has paid for up to 90% of the costs of necessary road and bridge repairs through these connecting links.
I first raised this issue in the House on May 28 and have heard from the township of Centre Wellington and the town of Halton Hills. Both of them are rightly pushing back on this massive download of costs.
As a former Minister of Transportation, the Premier should know how important this program has been through the years and that it’s still relevant today.
I call upon the government to either reconstitute the Connecting Link Program as it has existed for generations or help to fund each and every one of the Connecting Link municipal infrastructure projects that we need in Wellington–Halton Hills.
DAVID LEWIS PUBLIC SCHOOL
Ms. Soo Wong: I’m pleased to rise today to recognize the 25th anniversary of David Lewis Public School in my riding of Scarborough–Agincourt.
In May 1990, under the David Peterson Liberal government, David Lewis Public School first opened its doors in my very diverse community. Now, 25 years later, the school has 386 students ranging from junior kindergarten to Grade 8, and a Junior Y daycare that cares for 65 preschool and school-age children
The teachers, staff, and Principal Karen Peach are a dedicated group of highly skilled educators who work hard to prepare the students to be exceptional members of our community.
As a former school board trustee and as a community member, I’m very aware that David Lewis has become renowned for education excellence. In fact, in 2010, the students and staff were recognized by the Ministry of Education and named as a “School on the Move.” More recently, the school was recognized by being awarded the Bette Stephenson and Hilary Weston award of excellence. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Principal Peach and her entire team of teachers and staff on receiving these well-deserved awards.
Mr. Speaker, at David Lewis school, they live by the motto “Participate with Pride,” and I know that I join everyone in this House in congratulating all the students, alumni, staff and teachers on this 25th anniversary. They deserve to feel great pride in their school achievements.
HIGHWAY OF HEROES
Mrs. Christine Elliott: I’m pleased to rise today to inform the House of an event that took place in my riding this past weekend. John Dolstra, a resident of Whitby, spearheaded a project over the last two years to raise money for memorial plaques to be placed on the Brock Street bridge over the Highway of Heroes. Working with the True Patriot Love Foundation and the province of Ontario, John saw this dream become a reality this weekend with a packed house at Sir William Stephenson Public School.
Many Whitby residents honoured our fallen soldiers along the Highway of Heroes as they were being repatriated, and the community subsequently came together to raise over $54,000 in order to create a lasting memorial. These plaques are being placed on the bridge to commemorate the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers and their families. The money raised through sponsorships will go to supporting military families through programs that help send children to summer camp, provide psychological counselling, retrofit homes and cars for soldiers returning with injuries, as well as rehabilitate wounded soldiers through sport.
I want to congratulate and thank John Dolstra and his committee for this tremendous community effort and for all the work that they do in helping our Canadian soldiers and their families.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank all members for their statements.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
(SPRING BEAR HUNT), 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LA PROTECTION
DU POISSON ET DE LA FAUNE
(CHASSE À L’OURS PRINTANIÈRE)
Mr. Mauro moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 114, An Act to amend the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 to provide for a spring bear hunt / Projet de loi 114, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1997 sur la protection du poisson et de la faune afin de prévoir une chasse à l’ours printanière.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
First reading agreed to.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for a short statement.
Mr. Bill Mauro: Speaker, when the hunt was cancelled in 1999 by the previous government, it was felt, certainly across northern Ontario, that that decision was based on anything but reliable scientific data. My bill, if passed, would address issues relating to livestock and crop damage, declining moose populations and beehive damage, but, most importantly, an increasing number of bear-human interactions. This is first and foremost, for me, a public safety issue.
We do know, with quite good approximation, that 1,400 fewer bears per year are being harvested today in Ontario since the hunt was cancelled in 1999. This bill has great support across the north, including municipal councils, individuals and organizations, and I look forward to trying to move this bill through the House.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I beg to inform the House that, pursuant to standing order 98(c), a change has been made to the order of precedence on the ballot list for private members’ public business, such that Ms. Horwath assumes ballot item number 61 and Ms. Forster assumes ballot item number 51.
At this point I’d like to remind all members that, when introducing bills, the idea is to read from the short version a description, usually taken from the—what is it?
Mr. Todd Smith: Explanatory notes.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The explanatory notes. I had too big a lunch today. I would ask and recommend to all members that we stick to that precept, please. Thank you.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Deborah Matthews: I would like to start by welcoming Joanne Di Nardo and Florentina Stancu-Soare from the Canadian Cancer Society. They are in the gallery here, joining us today.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when we take the opportunity to reflect on the impact that breast cancer has had on the lives of Ontario women, and also how to celebrate how far we have come in combatting the disease. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer and, sadly, it is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Ontario women.
But there is a common goal we can all work towards, and that is early detection. With regular screening, cancer can be found early and successfully treated, and when cancer is caught early, there are many more treatment options available to women. The effectiveness of screening should make us feel empowered, because cancer screening does give us more control over our own health, and it also gives us a sense of responsibility over our own health.
As with any other disease or condition, early detection and treatment are always preferable. In Ontario, we are fortunate to have the tools, the technology and the expertise to detect breast cancer. Our cancer system is world-class. In fact, according to the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership, Ontario ranks among the best in the world when it comes to cancer survival rates. I think that’s an amazing accomplishment, one of which I am truly proud.
I was very happy when St. Joseph’s Health Care in London opened its breast centre last year. It’s not the only one in the province, but this is a centre that coordinates a woman’s care from the moment an abnormality is detected through treatment and follow-up. A team of experts, led by specialized nurse navigators, coordinates the care for the patient from the time when she first comes in for an assessment through her entire care journey. The team includes surgeons, radiologists, nurses, social workers, technologists and others, who are all committed to patient care and support while reducing wait times for procedures from imaging to surgery.
The creation of this breast cancer centre has boosted the range of cancer care that’s available closer to home for many patients in the London area. It has the ability to prioritize those referred for assessment so they can have imaging and breast biopsy both performed on the same day.
One can only imagine how beneficial it is for women and their families to find out sooner rather than later if they have cancer, or to learn that they are healthy. Early diagnosis leads to early treatment, which is better for patients and better for the health care system. Screening plays an incredibly important role in early detection and treatment.
For the last 23 years, the Ontario Breast Screening Program has been available to all women aged 50 to 74. The program provides regular mammograms to women every two years. OBSP provides women with reminders when they’re due for their next mammogram and helps to coordinate the next steps if there is an abnormal test result.
There are 167 OBSP sites across the province, some in hospitals and independent health facilities, as well as two mobile screening coaches that provide breast screening services to the Hamilton and Niagara areas and to remote communities in northwestern Ontario. From the time the OBSP was launched in 1990 in London, the OBSP has provided more than five million mammograms to over 1.4 million women. Speaker, 26,000 breast cancers, the majority in the early stages, have been detected through the OBSP. In July 2011, our government expanded the OBSP to include a program for women at high risk of cancer, due to genetic factors or family or medical history.
While there’s no sure-fire way to prevent breast cancer—or at least not one that we’ve found yet—we can provide women with the tools for regular screening and early detection. It’s why we’re continuing to invest in the Ontario Breast Screening Program.
To make the system work even better, we’re integrating breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening services into one single, coordinated provincial program. We’re encouraging Ontarians to get screened so they can stay healthy. Creating a coordinated program for those screening tests will help to increase the number of Ontarians who get screened, and help detect cancer sooner and save lives.
We know that some people don’t know when to start screening for cancer. That’s why our government is committed to providing Ontarians with the knowledge, tools and supports to help them learn when they should get screened. We have created the Time to Screen tool, available at Ontario.ca/screenforlife, to give Ontarians more information on when they should start screening, based on their age and their gender.
We also want to educate Ontarians about their personal risk for cancer. That’s why, in our Action Plan for Health Care, we committed to develop a new, online, personalized cancer risk profile. This tool is currently in development. It will use our medical and family history to gauge our level of risk and then link those at higher risk to prevention supports, screening or genetic testing.
According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, only 5% to 10% of breast cancers are linked to genetics and family history. That means that 90% of breast cancers are related to other factors, including environment and lifestyle. Approximately one third of all breast cancers are preventable, which means that the decisions women make can have a significant impact on their personal risk for cancer. A healthy diet and increased activity levels can go a long way to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Breast feeding can also reduce a mother’s risk of developing breast cancer in her future. And it should go without saying, but quitting smoking reduces a person’s risks for all cancers, including breast cancer.
We’re not the only ones committed to educating women on the importance of regular screening. Thank you to everyone across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors who are helping make a difference for so many women across the province.
This afternoon, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation visited Queen’s Park with their Pink Bus Tour, aimed at providing women in their own communities with information on breast health, early screening and prevention.
Last week, Rethink Breast Cancer joined us at Queen’s Park to highlight their initiatives encouraging women under 40 to perform self-examinations regularly.
The Premier and I were pleased to join cancer survivors Janice Hodgson and Ruth Ackerman with the Canadian Cancer Society in a conversation for their Women to Women campaign. Using their “Thingamaboob” device, ambassadors are encouraging women to talk to each other about the importance of regular mammograms for detecting breast cancer early.
These are just a few of the many ways partners outside of government are helping in the fight against breast cancer.
I’d also like to thank everyone at Cancer Care Ontario for their continued partnership and leadership role in our cancer care system.
Finally, as we mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let us give our heartfelt thanks to Ontario’s dedicated doctors, nurses, technologists and all our other providers who work hard every day to provide support for those battling breast cancer as we all work to help the people of Ontario stay healthy.
CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH
Hon. Teresa Piruzza: I rise today to recognize October as Child Abuse Prevention Month here in Ontario. I also want to draw attention to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies’ annual purple ribbon campaign. I thank the members of this House who are joining me today by either wearing either the purple ribbon, the purple bracelet or the lapel pin we received today.
This campaign brings increased awareness and encourages all Ontarians to take part in the prevention of child abuse. These purple ribbons remind us that we all have a responsibility to protect our children and youth. In particular, everyone in Ontario has a duty, both a moral and legal duty, to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect. I know all of us are committed to eliminating abuse and violence in the lives of children, youth and their families.
Mr. Speaker, sadly, we know that child abuse does occur and takes on many forms. Nearly one in every two Ontarians knows someone who has been exposed to or has been the victim of child abuse and neglect.
Child abuse can occur in all segments of society. It knows no barriers or boundaries. It can be physical, emotional or sexual. Neglect is also a form of abuse.
As we all know, children are the most vulnerable members of any society and depend on us for protection. That’s why we need to be there for them and give them the strongest supports that we can. That’s why I call on all Ontarians—neighbours, teachers, colleagues, coaches and friends—to be vigilant and to report any concerns you may have to your local children’s aid society or the police. All of us have a role to play.
I would like to acknowledge Ontario children’s aid societies, who work every day to care for and support our children. Importantly, I want to thank the front-line staff who work with these young people. Seeing these real life cases of abuse would be difficult for anyone. Their work is so important in helping to prevent child abuse. Thank you for making a real difference in the lives of those at risk.
I know that, as a government, we have worked to strengthen the child welfare system in order to prevent cases of child abuse. We’ve made progress in helping to better protect our vulnerable children and youth. In 2007, our government strengthened the child protection standards and the Ontario Child Protection Tools Manual. CASs now have enhanced tools to assess risk to a child’s safety and match the response to the needs of the child and family. These tools help put the interests of children first.
Rigorous background checks are also now required for those proposing to care for a child receiving CAS services, including family members. These requirements include criminal and child welfare checks of all adults in the home.
My ministry and our partners are also committed to providing the appropriate supports for children and youth at risk of abuse. By working directly with children, we can help identify signs of abuse early and prevent further tragedy.
But we also need to help and support these young people who have experienced trauma and abuse. This is so very important.
Last week, I spoke at Boost Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention agency here in Toronto. This year, we announced that the ministry would support Boost’s new child and youth advocacy centre. This program will bring local and government agencies together to provide a child-friendly and accessible place for children to receive supports. Programs, like the one at Boost, will help with the prevention of child abuse and also give the appropriate support to those who have experienced it.
Our government is committed to seeing an end to incidents of abuse, violence and neglect that can crush a child’s spirit and devastate the course of his or her life. Preventing child abuse is a collective responsibility. I urge all members of this House—and all Ontarians—to learn the signs of child abuse and neglect and to report known or suspected child abuse cases.
Hon. Eric Hoskins: I rise today to recognize Small Business Month in Ontario. I ask all sides of this House join me in celebrating the contributions that entrepreneurs and small business owner-operators make to our economy and to our quality of life.
Small businesses, quite simply, are the backbone of our economy. Small and medium-sized businesses, so businesses with fewer than 100 employees, represent over 99% of all businesses in this province. They’re important partners in building vibrant and strong communities in Ontario. They create jobs. They innovate. They grow our economy. They invest in our people, our cities, our small towns and our rural communities.
Mr. Speaker, our government’s investments and programs are fostering small business and helping to grow local economies. For example, we created the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, a one-stop shop for anyone involved in planning, launching or building a company. The ONE network gives entrepreneurs access to business advisers, strategists and market analysts in 86 offices across Ontario. It includes the following services: business advisory services for small and medium-sized enterprises that produce tradable goods or services; regional innovation centres that work with tech-based entrepreneurs to develop the skill sets they need to start and grow innovation-based firms; and small business enterprise centres, which are partnerships between the province of Ontario and local municipalities, focusing on Main Street businesses supporting the local economy.
We realize that Ontario’s companies must also be global companies. After all, small businesses make our province more competitive, by creating more jobs right here at home and expanding their markets through trade.
We know that small and medium-sized businesses that export demonstrate higher revenues, faster revenue growth and greater productivity than non-exporting ones. That’s why, a couple of weeks ago, we launched our Going Global Trade Strategy. It focuses on four critically important goals: (1) promoting Ontario companies’ quality goods and services to the world, (2) helping companies explore export opportunities and connect with international buyers and investors, (3) streamlining export programs and resources to support our businesses, and (4) pursuing new trade agreements for our exporters.
Our trade strategy will help connect small businesses with larger more established companies that already have a footprint in worldwide markets and can provide these smaller businesses with mentoring. We are examining ways of enhancing our global growth fund, a partnership we have with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce that helps companies cover some of the costs associated with going global and getting into these new markets.
Mr. Speaker, Ontario is one of the most competitive tax jurisdictions in all of North America, because we know that providing tax relief to small business will permit them to grow by using their savings to reinvest in their company or hire more staff. So by reforming our outdated tax code and introducing the harmonized sales tax, our government eliminated 5,000 pages of out-of-date tax rules, saving our small businesses $500 million each year.
And a short time ago, my colleague the Minister of Finance introduced the Supporting Small Businesses Act. If passed, this legislation will ensure that 60,000 small businesses will pay less employer health tax, and 12,000 businesses will pay no employer health tax at all.
This past year, we’ve worked with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and other business associations to reduce the regulatory and administrative burdens on small business. We’ve already reduced, in the last five years, burdens by over 17% by removing more than 80,000 regulatory requirements. But our actions do not end here.
We also have sector- and region-specific programs to support small business right across the province, such as the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund and the Eastern Ontario Development Fund. Both of these funds support regional economic development by creating jobs, attracting private sector investment and promoting innovation and collaboration. We also have the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp., which supports small businesses in the north of the province; and the Rural Economic Development program, which helps our rural communities, organizations and businesses also create jobs and attract investment; and, of course, we have programs for our farmers and our food processors.
By investing in infrastructure, we’re building new schools, roads, hospitals, highways, bridges and transit in every part of this province. It will strengthen our communities and provide the right climate to attract investment, create jobs and grow the economy.
Later this month, we will join the federal government in celebrating Small Business Week in Canada, which runs from October 20 to October 26. We’ll also be celebrating with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business as they host Small Business Day on Friday, October 25. Next month, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce will recognize the accomplishments of leading companies across Ontario, including small businesses, with the Ontario Business Achievement Awards.
Recognizing the important role that small businesses play in the strength of our economy is an important part of our government’s plan for jobs and growth. We’re investing in people, building strong infrastructure and supporting a dynamic and innovative business climate that will help companies across the province succeed while also drawing investment and opportunities to Ontario. We’re working to ensure that businesses, especially small businesses, will come to Ontario, stay in Ontario, invest in Ontario and grow in Ontario.
So, this October, let’s recognize, celebrate and support Ontario’s small businesses and Ontario’s entrepreneurs, whose energy, drive and innovation are making Ontario a global economic leader. Thank you.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Statements by ministries?
It’s now time for responses.
Mrs. Christine Elliott: I’m pleased to rise today on behalf of the Ontario PC caucus to mark October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer affects roughly 23,800 people in Canada, and 65 women in Canada today will learn that they have breast cancer. Awareness groups make this fight a little easier. The Canadian Cancer Society, which is represented here in the gallery today, works towards informing Canadians of the signs of breast cancer and the necessary first steps.
Another important group, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and their annual CIBC Run for the Cure, raises funds across the country for breast cancer research, awareness and counselling. Their pink bus, of course, is visiting Queen’s Park today, and some of their representatives are also here in the gallery. Thank you for joining us.
Recently, I met with another group called Rethink Breast Cancer. This is an organization aimed at bringing awareness of breast cancer and support services to a younger generation of women. This group uses new and innovative tactics in spreading awareness of and working with those who are going through breast cancer at a younger age and dealing with different challenges. Cancer Care Ontario also performs an invaluable service in coordinating cancer care across the province.
I’m pleased to add my voice to this very serious issue to make sure that all Ontarians are aware of the necessary steps and tools that are available to deal with breast cancer, to combat it and to boost awareness of the organizations at their service.
On behalf of the Ontario PC caucus, I would like to recognize and thank all of the organizations across Ontario that do this invaluable work, along with the front-line service providers who do the work in our local communities each and every day. Thank you.
CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH
Mr. Bill Walker: I’m pleased to recognize and offer support on behalf of the PC caucus for Child Abuse Prevention Month. During the month of October, we recognize that we all suffer when our children suffer and that each one of us has a responsibility to prevent and respond to child abuse.
Ontario’s children’s aid societies have been raising awareness during October for child abuse prevention for over 20 years, yet child abuse remains a major concern in Ontario. Some 165,673 referrals about possible abuse and neglect of children and youth were received by children’s aid last year.
Children in our communities are still suffering abuse or neglect at the hands of adults they know and trust, or are witnessing domestic violence in their home. So this is also a time when we’re reminded that child safety and family well-being begin in the community, and every Ontarian has a moral role to play in the well-being of children and to help educate and strengthen families in our communities.
By being alert to the signs of abuse and knowing who to call to help a child at risk of harm, everyone can help prevent child maltreatment in Ontario. I challenge everyone: If you think a child needs help, please step up and take action. Call the children’s aid society promptly. Together, we can make Ontario the best place to grow up for all of us and all of our children.
Purple is the colour of child abuse prevention, so today I proudly wear a purple ribbon in support of ending all forms of child abuse, and I urge all of my colleagues to do the same.
I’d like to conclude by saying thank you to the caring folks at the children’s aid societies across the province, staff and volunteers, for the valuable services they provide to those in need: our most precious gift, our children.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I too am proud to stand in the assembly today to recognize October as Small Business Month. This very week, we also celebrate Ontario agriculture, which is, incidentally, Ontario’s number one industry, and I have to say I’m saddened that the minister did not even recognize this fact earlier. But I’m proud to note that it was a PC government in the late 1990s that actually started Small Business Month in Ontario.
When I think about celebrating small business, I think of my visit just this past Friday to P&H elevators in Amberley. They want to be assured that the government of Ontario understands the pressures impacting their business, such as the industrial tax rate they are currently forced to pay. They’re looking for tax relief, much like the minister referenced earlier in his comments.
I also think of my visit to Superheat in Kincardine, an innovative business providing good-paying jobs to almost 100 people, some of whom, I need to add, are new teachers who can’t get a teaching job under the current rule of this Liberal government. Superheat is a business based on a patented process that can grow in market demand if they can build the capacity to compete globally.
Throughout the month of October, there will be many initiatives that acknowledge small business as the backbone to Ontario’s economy. The Huron Manufacturing Association will do just that, later in November.
Yesterday I met with the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association. Unfortunately, they represent another industry frustrated with the lack of stability and lack of predictability that the current Liberal government has generated over the past decade.
Of course, I worry about the ever-rising issue of energy costs and the burden of red tape, because the PC Party of Ontario is the only party with a viable business plan to reduce red tape and return the province’s small businesses back to a path of prosperity.
Mme France Gélinas: It is my pleasure to add my little one minute and 20 seconds to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is something that has done very well in our province.
I want to thank a lady, Michele Girash, who is the community development specialist for northern Ontario, for the fantastic activities that we have in northern Ontario in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I want to say a big thank you to the Sudbury firefighters, who have painted their humongously big fire truck hot pink for the month. It is so cool. It has this great big ribbon on it. They were kind enough to let my leader, Andrea Horwath, sit in the driver’s seat of this wonderful pink truck this weekend. Whenever they go down the street—not to a call but coming back from a call—they go very slowly because everybody wants to take a picture of this thing. It has very positive messages on the side which basically say that if you look after your breast health, if you make sure that you seek help when you see something is not right, then you can beat this disease.
I want to thank people like Cecile Harris, my mother-in-law—who will be 91 in a couple of weeks—who is 25 years cancer-free. She had to fight the battle and she won, like many others.
I want to thank all of the people from Sudbury who participated in the Run for the Cure this Sunday. It was a miserable day in Sudbury. It just poured rain, it was windy—the whole thing—but thousands of people came out in support for Run for the Cure and the breast screening program. It really works well.
Thank you. My time is up.
CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH
Miss Monique Taylor: I’m pleased to add my voice to help raise awareness about the role we can all play in the prevention of child abuse.
Child abuse comes in many forms. Some children show the bruises, or worse, of physical abuse, while others have experienced sexual exploitation that leaves untold damage on the child, which can last a lifetime. Some children are exposed to domestic violence, and when they are, even though they themselves have not been struck, the violence leaves deep emotional scars.
We have heard too many times of children who were neglected—one of the most extreme being Jeffrey Baldwin, whose horrifying story is before the coroner’s inquest today. We weep for Jeffrey, and for all other children who suffer as a result of child abuse. And we will continue to weep, but as we do, we must be watchful so that we do our part in preventing child abuse.
We must watch for unexplained injuries. We must listen to children, watch their actions and recognize changes in their behaviour, such as eating or sleeping patterns. We must take note if we notice that a child displays fear of an adult or has become secretive for no apparent reason. And if we feel a child is or may be in need of protection, we have a legal duty to report it.
Our child welfare agencies are given great powers to act on those reports, but they must act in a way that shows compassion; act in a way that, first and foremost, ensures the safety and well-being of a child, but also provides support for vulnerable families that are struggling.
It has been said many times that it takes a village to raise a child, and that is the absolute truth.
Ms. Catherine Fife: Speaker, it’s my pleasure to recognize the central role that small businesses play in our province’s economy. Over 97% of Ontario employers are essentially small businesses.
There is always talk of job creators in this place. Of course, we should always be talking about job creation. In a time of persistent unemployment, especially for youth, how we can create jobs in Ontario should be a topic of paramount importance.
Small businesses are incredible job creators. In fact, small business owners created their own jobs.
On this side of the House, in the last budget session, we tried to put forward a job creator tax credit plan. We also put forward a progressive plan for youth unemployment. Actually, this is an issue that needs to be accelerated in the province of Ontario, because Ontario’s youth unemployment rate is hovering between 16.9% and 17%.
As I said last year during Small Business Month, we can and should optimize our potential by supporting entrepreneurial small business.
Iain Klugman, president and CEO of Communitech, in his op-ed in the Financial Post last year, pointed out, “We should be looking chiefly to our entrepreneurs to commercialize new ideas and innovations.”
Governments can and should foster this spirit so that more small businesses can expand, grow and hire.
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas many of the resources of this planet are finite and are necessary to sustain both life and the quality of life for all future generations;
“Whereas the disposal of resources in landfills creates environmental hazards which will have significant human and financial costs for;
“Whereas all levels of government are elected to guarantee their constituents’ physical, financial, emotional and mental well-being;
“Whereas the health risks to the community and watershed increase in direct relationship to the proximity of any landfill site;
“Whereas the placement of a landfill in a limestone quarry has been shown to be detrimental;
“Whereas the placement of a landfill in the headwaters of multiple highly vulnerable aquifers is detrimental;
“Whereas the county of Oxford has passed a resolution requesting a moratorium on landfill construction or approval;
“Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, humbly petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:
“To implement a moratorium in Oxford county on any future landfill construction or approval until such time as a full review of alternatives has been completed which would examine best practices in other jurisdictions around the world;
“That this review of alternatives would give special emphasis on (a) practices which involve the total recycling or composting of all products currently destined for landfill sites in Ontario and (b) the production of goods which can efficiently and practically be recycled or reused so as not to require disposal in landfills.”
This petition, Mr. Speaker, was presented to me by Bryan Smith of Sweaburg, and we thank him for his efforts. I thank Massoma for delivering it to the table.
Ms. Sarah Campbell: I have a petition which reads as follows:
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario :
“Whereas the cost of living in northwestern Ontario is significantly higher than other regions of the province due to the high cost of necessities such as hydro, home heating fuel, gasoline and auto insurance; and
“Whereas an increase in the price of any of these essential goods will make it even more difficult for people living in northwestern Ontario to pay their bills and put food on the table;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To reject any proposed increase to the harmonized sales tax, gas tax or any other fees or taxes in the northwest; and instead investigate other means such as increasing corporate tax compliance or eliminating corporate tax loopholes in order to fund transit in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.”
I support this and will affix my signature.
Ms. Soo Wong: I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“Whereas Scarborough residents north of Ontario Highway 401 and east of Don Mills are without a rapid transit option; and
“Whereas a strong transit system is critical for increasing economic development and tackling income disparity; and
“Whereas this geographical area continues to grow and the demand for strong rapid transit continues to increase; and
“Whereas Sheppard Avenue is a major artery for automobile traffic for commuters travelling from suburbs to downtown Toronto, and travelling from suburb to suburb; and
“Whereas ground-level rapid transit would increase traffic, restrict lanes for automobiles, and add further risk for pedestrians and commuters at dangerous intersections along Sheppard Avenue; and
“Whereas demands for underground rapid transit along Sheppard Avenue have been part of public discourse for over 50 years; and
“Whereas the province of Ontario previously approved a plan from the city of Toronto to extend the Sheppard subway line from Downsview to Scarborough Centre; and
“Whereas an extension to the Sheppard subway line will require contributions and co-operation from the city of Toronto, the province of Ontario and the government of Canada;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To support the extension of the Sheppard subway line east to Scarborough Centre; and
“To call upon the government of Canada to contribute multi-year funding for the construction and operation of an extension to the Sheppard subway line.”
I fully support the petition, and I ask page Megan to take it to the desk.
Mr. Jim Wilson: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the Ministry of Transportation closed public access to Shale Beach off Highway 26 in the town of Blue Mountains suddenly and with no consultation; and
“Whereas the closure will impact fisherman, swimmers and visitors who have been frequenting the beach for generations with no problem; and
“Whereas the closure will remove one of the only wheelchair-accessible fishing locations in the area; and
“Whereas the McGuinty-Wynne Liberal government won’t let Ontarians enjoy anything for free anymore without implementing a new tax or a new fee;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“That Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Minister of Transportation immediately restore access to Shale Beach so that residents can continue to enjoy the beach and all that it has to offer for generations to come.”
I certainly agree with this petition, and I will sign it.
COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTRE
Ms. Sarah Campbell: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the Mary Berglund Community Health Centre is recognized as one of the leading primary care providers in northwestern Ontario, providing essential services to those living in not only Ignace, but across northwestern Ontario; and
“Whereas a 2010 rent increase by the government of Ontario has threatened the long-term viability of the health centre’s operations; and
“Whereas the rent being charged to the Mary Berglund Community Health Centre is much higher than rent being charged to similar operations in other communities and far surpasses ‘market rent’ for a small community in northwestern Ontario;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To immediately rectify the situation and ensure the long-term viability of the Mary Berglund Community Health Centre by either reducing rent, transferring ownership of the building to the Mary Berglund Community Health Centre, or through capital funds to build a new facility that better suits the community’s needs.”
I fully support this, will affix my signature and give it to page Efua to deliver to the table.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: My petition is:
“Whereas Ontario’s Drive Clean program was implemented as a temporary measure to reduce high levels of vehicle emissions and smog; and vehicle emissions have declined significantly from 1998 to 2010; and
“Whereas the overwhelming majority of reductions in vehicle emissions were, in fact, the result of factors other than the Drive Clean program, such as tighter manufacturing standards for emission-control technologies; and
“Whereas from 1999 to 2010 the percentage of vehicles that failed emissions testing under the Drive Clean program steadily declined from 16% to 5%; and
“Whereas the environment minister has ignored advances in technology and introduced a new, computerized emissions test that is less reliable and prone to error; and
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:
“That the Minister of the Environment must take immediate steps to eliminate the Drive Clean program.”
I support this petition and affix my name to it—
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you. Further petitions?
Mr. Steve Clark: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that reads as follows:
“Whereas, beginning January 1, 2013, WSIB was expanded to include groups of employers and principals who had previously been exempt from WSIB and had private insurance; and
“Whereas this new financial burden does nothing to improve worker safety and only drives up the cost of doing business in Ontario;
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To repeal the statutory obligations created by Bill 119.”
I am pleased to affix my signature and send the petition to the table with page Erica.
INDOOR TANNING EQUIPMENT
Mme France Gélinas: I am pleased to present thousands and thousands of petitions in support of the skin cancer prevention bill. They read as follows:
“Whereas there is a growing body of evidence linking tanning bed use to increased cancer risk, the World Health Organization considers tanning beds a group 1 carcinogen, and use of tanning beds before the age of 30 raises one’s risk of melanoma by 75%; and
“Whereas many groups, including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Ontario Medical Association, support a ban on the use of indoor tanning equipment by youths under the age of 18; and
“Whereas the provinces of British Columbia and Nova Scotia have passed legislation banning youths from using indoor tanning equipment, and governments around the world are considering similar legislation; and
“Whereas there is broad public support in Ontario for increased regulation of the tanning industry, with 83% supporting a ban on indoor tanning for those under 18;
They “petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to enact legislation banning youths under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning equipment except in the case of medical need.”
I fully support this petition, Madam Speaker, and I hope I’m presenting it for the last time. I will ask page Ravicha to bring it to the table.
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” those on fixed incomes; 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 petition and will be passing it on to page Daniel.
Ms. Sarah Campbell: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas home heating and electricity are essential utilities for northern families;
“Whereas the government has a duty and an obligation to ensure that essential goods and services are affordable for all families living in the north and across the province;
“Whereas government policy such as the Green Energy Act, the harmonized sales tax, cancellation of gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga have caused the price of electricity to artificially increase to the point it is no longer affordable for families or small business;
“Whereas electricity generated and used in northwestern Ontario is among the cleanest and cheapest to produce in Canada, yet has been inflated by government policy;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To take immediate steps to reduce the price of electricity in the northwest and ensure that residents and businesses have access to energy that properly reflects the price of local generation.”
I support this petition and will affix my signature and give it to page Taylor to deliver it.
Mr. Jim Wilson: I want to thank Betty Schneider for presenting me with this wind turbine petition.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas we, the residents of Clearview township and neighbouring townships, oppose the wpd Canada Fairview wind project on Fairgrounds Road and all wind energy projects in Clearview township; and
“Whereas we support the petition of mayors and councillors from 80 municipalities, farm organizations, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, which petition requested that the province place an immediate moratorium on all wind projects until an independent and comprehensive health study has determined that turbine noise is safe to human health, amongst other things; and
“Whereas wpd Canada’s Fairview wind project violates the OLS airspace and usability of registered aerodromes in Clearview, including Collingwood Regional Airport and Stayner field, and wpd Canada’s draft renewable energy approvals reports do not recognize these impacts or the jurisdiction of the government of Canada; and
“Whereas wpd Canada is seeking final approval from the province for the Fairview wind project prior to completion of the federal Health Canada study and prior to federal actions to protect aviation safety;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“That the government of Ontario agree and accept that until the federal health study is completed and federal aeronautical zoning is in place, that it will immediately take whatever action is necessary to give full effect to a moratorium on all wind turbine development in Ontario, including all projects for which final approvals have not been given.”
Madam Speaker, I agree with this petition and will sign it.
SOINS DE LONGUE DURÉE
Mme France Gélinas: J’ai une pétition qui nous vient surtout du nord-est de l’Ontario.
« Attendu qu’il existe un nombre croissant de cas signalés d’abus, de négligence et de soins de qualité inférieure pour nos personnes âgées dans les foyers de soins de longue durée; et
« Attendu que les personnes ayant des plaintes ont peu d’options, et souvent ne le font pas parce qu’ils craignent des répercussions, ce qui suggère qu’un trop grand nombre de personnes âgées sont laissées dans des situations vulnérables, sans surveillance indépendante; et
« Attendu que l’Ontario est une de seulement deux provinces au Canada où l’ombudsman n’a pas de contrôle indépendant de nos foyers de soins de longue durée. Nous avons besoin de la responsabilité, de la transparence et de la cohérence dans notre système de soins de longue durée. »
Par conséquent, ils demandent à l’Assemblée législative de l’Ontario d’élargir le mandat de l’ombudsman afin d’inclure les foyers de soins de longue durée de l’Ontario et ainsi protéger nos aînes, les personnes les plus vulnérables.
J’appuie cette pétition, madame. Je vais y apposer mon nom et demander à Ravicha de l’amener aux greffiers.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The member for Durham.
Mr. John O’Toole: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. Some days you’re first; some days you’re last.
“Whereas collecting and restoring old vehicles honours Ontario’s automotive heritage while contributing to the economy through the purchase of goods and services, tourism, and support for special events; and
“Whereas the stringent application of emissions regulations for older cars equipped with newer engines can result in fines and additional expenses that discourage car collectors and restorers from pursuing their hobby; and
“Whereas newer engines installed by hobbyists in vehicles over 20 years old provide cleaner emissions than the original equipment; and
“Whereas car collectors typically use their vehicles only on an occasional basis, during four to five months of the year;
“Therefore, be it resolved that the Ontario Legislature support Ontarians who collect and restore old vehicles by amending the appropriate laws and regulations to ensure vehicles over 20 years old and exempt from Drive Clean testing shall also be exempt from additional emissions requirements enforced”—rigorously—“by the Ministry of the Environ-ment and governing the installation of newer engines into old cars and trucks.”
I’m pleased to sign it and support it on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Durham and present it to Peyton, one of the finest pages here.
Interjection: From Leeds–Grenville.
Mr. John O’Toole: From Leeds–Grenville, as well.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
SKIN CANCER PREVENTION
ACT (TANNING BEDS), 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 SUR LA PRÉVENTION
DU CANCER DE LA PEAU
(LITS DE BRONZAGE)
Ms. Matthews moved third reading of the following bill:
Bill 30, An Act to regulate the selling and marketing of tanning services and ultraviolet light treatments for tanning / Projet de loi 30, Loi visant à réglementer la vente et la commercialisation de services de bronzage et de traitements par rayonnement ultraviolet à des fins de bronzage.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: I rise in the Legislature today to speak to legislation that I introduced on March 7 that, if passed, would protect Ontario’s young people from the harmful effects of artificial ultraviolet radiation by prohibiting the use of tanning beds for youth under 18. The legislation would also prohibit the marketing of tanning services targeted at youth under 18. It would require tanning bed operators to request identification for anyone who appears to be under the age of 25, with fines for operators who fail to comply. This bill would also restrict self-tanning by prohibiting the use of tanning beds that do not require the presence of an attendant.
Speaker, this is not the first time legislation like this has been brought before the House. I would like to recognize the efforts of the member from Nickel Belt in introducing private member’s Bill 74, An Act to help prevent skin cancer, 2012, during the last legislative session. And I’d like to recognize the efforts of former London–Fanshawe MPP Khalil Ramal, who introduced the Skin Cancer Prevention Act in 2008 and co-sponsored the Skin Cancer Prevention Act, 2010, with the member from Nickel Belt. I’d also like to thank former Scarborough–Guildwood MPP Margarett Best for her efforts to restrict tanning for youth in Ontario.
So, Speaker, I think we’re almost there. I’m pleased that this bill has passed second reading. I want to say thank you to the members of the Standing Committee on General Government for the work they’ve done to expeditiously examine this bill and report it back to the House for third reading.
This proposed legislation represents common ground for all the members in this House. We all recognize that prohibiting the use of indoor tanning for our youth is absolutely the right thing to do. Too many Ontarians are diagnosed with cancer every year. Our sons and our daughters, our sisters and brothers, our parents, our loved ones, our friends—each of us knows too many people who wake up every day to face and fight this disease. We are so fortunate to have so many highly educated, dedicated health professionals who fight alongside of them. But I do think that it’s incumbent upon us, as legislators, to do what we can do to prevent cancer in the first place, especially where our kids are involved.
Speaker, the dangers associated with exposure to artificial ultraviolet radiation have been well documented. The World Health Organization puts tanning beds in the same highest cancer risk category as asbestos and smoking.
In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an expert committee that makes recommendations to the World Health Organization, reclassified UV-emitting tanning devices as carcinogenic to humans.
Tanning bed use increases the risk of malignant melanoma by 17%. More importantly, that risk increases to 75% if tanning bed use begins before the age of 35. Despite the warnings and the well-known risks, tanning bed use by young people is on the rise. Between 2006 and 2012, tanning bed use by grade 11 and 12 students more than doubled, from 7% to 16%, and the incidence of melanoma in Ontario has been rising in young people between ages 15 and 34.
This proposed legislation takes on this challenge directly so that we can protect our children from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. I’m confident that this proposed legislation will make an important difference in our fight to prevent cancer.
There are many individuals and organizations who have been warning us about the dangers of tanning bed use by youth and advocating for legislation like this. Their hard work and activism has helped to bring this proposed legislation to this point—being debated today at third reading—and I’d like to recognize and thank a number of them.
Speaker, when I first introduced this legislation, we heard from Susan Cox. Susan is living with melanoma. Her story is powerful and heartbreaking. I’d like to thank her again for sharing her story with us.
I’d like to recognize Kate Neale, who has worked very hard to bring this issue to the forefront. She has been a real champion for cancer prevention. She came to Queen’s Park to make sure all of us know about the dangers of youth tanning and the importance of restricting access to tanning by young people.
I want to recognize the hard work of the Canadian Cancer Society, represented today in the Legislature by Joanne Di Nardo and Florentina Stancu-Soare.
I’d like to recognize the Ontario Medical Association, the Canadian Dermatology Association, the Melanoma Network of Canada and so many others who have stressed the importance of taking action against indoor tanning by young people.
Individuals, organizations and MPPs have all come together to support this vital piece of proposed legislation and see it successfully through first reading, second reading and committee. As MPPs, we have debated it, examined it, and we will soon have an opportunity to pass it at third reading. We have demonstrated that this legislation represents common ground. We have shown that restricting access to youth indoor tanning is one of those issues where party lines disappear.
If this legislation passes, we’ll follow the lead of Ontario municipalities like Oakville, Peel and Belleville, and we’ll join Quebec, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, all of which have already introduced a ban, and Manitoba, which has introduced parental consent.
I’d also like members to know that the proposed legislation is consistent with our commitment to make Ontario the healthiest place in North America to grow up and grow old. With that goal in mind, our government is increasingly focused on prevention and keeping Ontarians healthy. And so we’re putting more of our efforts into promoting healthy habits and behaviours, supporting lifestyle improvements and better managing chronic conditions. The legislation we’re considering today is one more way in which we’re working to protect and promote the good health of our future: Ontario’s young people.
At the same time, it’s consistent with the focus we have placed on fighting cancer in the province of Ontario. We are a leader in cancer care in Canada and around the world. In fact, an Ontarian who gets cancer has one of the best chances of survival anywhere in the world, according to the Cancer System Quality Index. At the Standing Committee on Social Policy, the member for Nickel Belt recently recognized that Ontario’s cancer services “are one of the best in the world.... We have an excellent health care system, an excellent cancer care system....” We know that our cancer care system has improved significantly in the past 10 years. We measure more, we know more and we report more, ensuring accountability and continued improvement.
There is much more work still to be done, but we have made considerable progress. We know that early detection is the key to fighting cancer, and that’s why we broadened the Ontario Breast Screening Program, so that high-risk women are screened at a younger age. It’s why we launched Canada’s first province-wide colorectal screening program, and it’s why we’re now funding the PSA test to help detect the most common cancer among Canadian men.
We’ve also introduced tough legislation to combat smoking. With our Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, we’re determined to have the lowest smoking rates in Canada. Already, smoking rates have decreased from 24.5% in the year 2000 to about 19.4% in 2011. But we have more to do.
We’re taking on childhood obesity with our Healthy Kids Panel, which has made a number of excellent recommendations that we’re now considering. We know that childhood obesity could lead to chronic diseases like diabetes later in life. There’s a connection between obesity and cancer, too.
Speaker, restricting tanning bed access to youth under 18 is the next step we must take to prevent cancer and protect our young people. As I’ve said in the past, this is not a “should do”; this is a “must do.” This proposed legislation is a shining example of what we can do when we come together and find common ground for our shared priorities. I’m confident that this legislation responds to the evidence before us, and I’m counting on our united effort to take action to protect our youngest Ontarians from the risk of cancer. I’m asking all members to continue to support this important piece of legislation.
Again, I want to thank the many people and organizations that have worked so hard to restrict youth access to tanning, and finally, thank you to those who work hard every day in this province to help fight cancer.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?
Mrs. Christine Elliott: On behalf of the Ontario PC caucus, I am very pleased to rise today to voice our support for the Skin Cancer Prevention Act on this, the third reading. I would also like to welcome our guests in the gallery today: Joanne Di Nardo and Florentina Stancu-Soare, who have been faithful visitors in this gallery on many occasions as this bill has been introduced and reintroduced—but I can say we’re almost there. We’re on third reading. It looks like it’s got all-party support, so we’re finally going to be moving forward on this very important piece of legislation, so I’d like to thank you for your advocacy throughout. You’ve educated all of us and we’ll get there soon enough.
It has been debated. I’m not going to reiterate the comments that were made by the minister, but we all know of the dangers now associated with indoor skin-tanning booths for young people under the age of 18. There is mounting scientific evidence that suggests that this is quite dangerous, and it is a known carcinogen.
I would just like to quote from a couple of the organizations that we have been listening to. One is the World Health Organization. They have identified tanning beds as a known carcinogen. Previously, tanning beds were considered a probable carcinogen, but in 2009 they were upgraded from probable to known carcinogen, based on scientific evidence. Again, this puts tanning in the same category along with asbestos and tobacco, which is the highest-risk category of all.
We have also heard from Dr. Samir Gupta, the chair of the Ontario Medical Association’s dermatology section. He stated, “The evidence has been unequivocal over the last several years that tanning bed radiation is linked to skin cancer.... It’s the sun exposure you’re getting in your early years that predicts skin cancer later on.” I wish we’d known that when I was young, Madam Speaker, but we know now, and we need to protect young people from it.
I think probably the greatest advocate and the person who spoke most powerfully in favour of this legislation was Ms. Kate Neale, who has been a visitor on a number of occasions on this issue. She came with the Canadian Cancer Society in their presentation before the committee on Bill 30. Kate used to be a frequent tanner; in fact, she worked in a suntanning location, and she is now a huge advocate against youth using sun tanning beds.
She started using the beds when she was a 16-year-old with light and sunburn-prone skin. She first started tanning two or three times a week, but then started doing 12 to 16 minutes in the highest-UVB-pressure bed up to 16 times a month. The maximum recommended time in this bed was 12 minutes, but the salon in this case allowed customers to tan in the bed for up to 30 minutes. She continued and then, unfortunately, in May 2011, at age 21, Kate was diagnosed with melanoma.
Fortunately, her treatments seem to be working at this point, and we wish her recovery in every respect, but she is now a huge advocate. Again, I hope that any young people who may be either listening to this or may hear about it will take these words to heart, because, of course, all young people think that this sort of thing will never happen to them, but certainly Kate’s experience shows that it can happen to any young person. We certainly thank her for her bravery in coming forward with this story.
As we promised at the end of second reading on this bill, we did want to see it move through committee quickly and to move it forward. I’m happy to say that that did happen. This bill came before the committee on September 18. We heard from a number of witnesses; I have my list here somewhere. We heard from the Lupus Foundation of Ontario; the Joint Canadian Tanning Association; as mentioned, the Canadian Cancer Society; the Allied Beauty Association; Peel Public Health; Uvalux Tanning and Support; and the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association.
I’m happy to say that no one was against this legislation. They did, however, have some amendments that they wished to bring forward, which I think were sensible. Not all of the amendments, of course, passed. We went through clause-by-clause consideration in committee on September 23, but there were several amendments that were passed that strengthened the legislation and cleared up any confusion that there might have been about what the impact of the legislation would be.
Of course, what we’re always looking for is to maintain a balance between the protection of the public and the legitimate business interests of the owners of these facilities. Of course, health and safety always have to come first, and I think that that’s what we achieved with the clause-by-clause on this bill.
Just to speak to several of them, one was to clarify that ultraviolet light treatments were prohibited only for tanning purposes. There are other types of ultraviolet light treatments that are used in some of these operations and in a lot of salons, where ultraviolet light treatments are used for cosmetic purposes for nail treatments. This uses a minimal amount of ultraviolet light and certainly isn’t what was meant to be captured by this legislation, so we did clarify that it was only ultraviolet light treatments for tanning purposes that were being banned.
The other amendment that was brought forward was really to deal with the whole issue of self-tanning, because if you’re going to be restricting tanning beds to young people under 18 not being able to use them, you want to make sure that they can’t circumvent them by using coin-operated machines. Although we haven’t seen a lot of use of these kinds of machines in Ontario, evidence suggests that they are coming.
So we, the PC Party—and the NDP also put forward a very similar prohibition—added a new section to the bill that indicated that, “No person who owns an establishment where tanning services or ultraviolet light treatments for tanning are sold, offered for sale or provided shall permit the services or treatment to be provided by a device that does not require the presence of an attendant.” Again, this is to get away from the fact of unregulated and unattended tanning beds where you can simply insert coins and nobody is going to ask you any questions about how old you are or what kind of skin you have, or give you advice with respect to some of these treatments if you have very fair, sun-burn-prone skin, and make sure that you’re going to be protected.
I’m pleased to say that those amendments did pass.
One amendment that I’d just like to speak about did not pass, and that was one that dealt with the whole issue of spray tanning, because we talked about this in the context of using the tanning beds and ultraviolet light treatments. Spray tanning doesn’t appear to have been meant to be caught by this prohibition. Because there is no clear scientific evidence that suggests that spray tanning poses a danger and it is not a carcinogen, I think everybody came to agreement on that, but the question is whether to deal with that in terms of the bill itself or to deal with it in the regulations. The decision was made to just leave it in the regulations. In the event that subsequent evidence comes forward to suggest that there is a danger, then we’ll be able to deal with it more quickly.
I think that most of the issues were satisfactorily resolved in the committee. I think we do have a very robust bill. We’re very pleased to support it and to move forward with it. I hope that we’ll be able to conclude this debate fairly quickly and get it moved forward and get the assent so we can put it into action.
I’m very pleased to have the opportunity and to thank all of the organizations that have been involved in bringing this bill forward for their persistence and advocacy, particularly the members from the Canadian Cancer Society. Thank you again for being here today.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate? The member for Nickel Belt.
Mme France Gélinas: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I must say that it feels pretty good to be standing here today, a day that I had hoped for for a very long time and a day that is happening right now. I thought I would use the time that has been allocated to me to talk a little bit as to how we got there.
It was not an easy road. It was a rather bumpy road, to tell you the truth, but the important thing is that we made it. It is about to become a reality. Finally, we will regulate the tanning industry. I’m really, really proud of this small step that Ontario is about to take.
Basically, what I will explain to you is what I call the four building blocks as to how do you get success, how do you go from having an idea that legislations need to happen to actually making it happen? So the four steps are really—I look at the science of the thing. Is this something worthwhile? Is this something you can do through legislation? Then you look at, how do you get support? How do you make it an issue with people? Is this something that matters to the people of Ontario?
I will tell you a little bit about the history of the bill—some of the successes and mainly failures—and also a little bit about keeping an eye as to what is happening in other jurisdictions.
If we start with the science of that, I come from 25 years in the health care system. I have spent quite a long time in hospitals, and quite a bit of time on an oncology unit at a time when cancer treatments were not always that successful. Things are changing for the better. I’ve been a politician for six years, and things are way better than they were six years ago.
Nevertheless, you saw a lot of people struggling. You see a lot of people going through hardship, and you see a lot of people losing their battles. A lot of this is preventable.
When you think of all of the cancers that are being diagnosed all the time, one out of three is a skin cancer. To put it in perspective, 80,000 people will get diagnosed with skin cancer this year, and a high number of them will be fighting melanoma, one of the deadliest types of skin cancer. If you look at youth between the ages of 16 and 25, the most common cancer is skin cancer. If you look at the differences between girls and boys, and young women and young men, you see that young women are way more affected by skin cancer, by the hundreds and the thousands and the tens of thousands of them developing skin cancer.
So you start to look at what is happening. The studies at the time started to show a link between the use of tanning beds and the sudden increase we were seeing in young women being diagnosed with skin cancer. Then in 2009, we had the “aha” moment. This is when the World Health Organization came out and clearly, for the world to see, classified tanning beds as a number one carcinogen; it gives cancer. Tanning beds had been quantified at the same level as cigarettes and arsenic, as being harmful to your health, as being directly linked to skin cancer. We saw a lot of people getting involved.
I felt pretty confident that the link between all of those new cases of skin cancer we saw in young women, and the sudden development of the tanning industry, was there. But to my knowledge, the tanning industry was already regulated, so why did they need one more bill?
So I did my homework. You start to look, and then you realize that, yes, there are voluntary guidelines that apply to tanning salons, that come from the federal health ministry. I started to look more deeply into those guidelines, and realized that they were just that: They were guidelines.
The Canadian Cancer Society, and more specifically, the Ontario division, did a ton of work to see if those guidelines were being followed. They actually sent some young people into 79 salons here in Toronto to see. They looked at their websites to see: Are they following the guidelines? Are they making sure that people with type 1, very fair skin never use those tanning beds? Are they making sure that the people who use them are of age? I did the same thing with the 13 tanning salons we have in Nickel Belt.
Basically, what we found out is that those guidelines were not being followed. Those guidelines were just that: They were there to guide an industry that did not want to be guided. They were there to guide an industry that put profits ahead of making sure that they were protecting young lives. They needed to be regulated.
I felt that the homework had been done. We had a clear case. There was something we could do. At the end of the day, health promotion is my passion. If I can help move Ontario closer and closer to a healthy population, this is why I got elected; this is why I come here every day. This is something I wanted to do, but I knew I certainly could not do it alone. So you do what every other MPP does when they’re trying to move things forward: They reach out. I call it bringing people under the tent. And they came. They came by the tens of thousands.
I want to talk about the petitions. I started a petition that was circulated around. I want to thank all of the MPPs who presented those petitions, and I want to thank the tens of thousands of people who signed those petitions—basically, clearly speaking to their government and telling them that they want this legislation to pass. They want regulations and legislation for the tanning industry. They don’t want young people to have access to those beds.
This petition was circulated throughout the province and was very well received. I presented, I would say, tens of thousands of names, and so did many of my colleagues. I want to talk specifically about the member from Leeds–Grenville, who also presented a lot of petitions in support of the legislation for tanning beds.
We also had a letter-writing campaign, and I was happy to see that a lot of young people took it upon themselves to write. Those were the people who are going to be affected by this. Those were the people who were not going to have access to tanning beds anymore. They wrote to all of us in the Legislative Assembly—I’m sure you have received those letters—and I received them by the boxful. Young people were getting engaged in the political process and asking their members of Parliament to do something for them. You don’t see this very often. When you know that the age of people who go to vote—barely 25% of them come. In some regions, 21% of young people go and vote. And here we are, having tens of thousands of young people writing to their MPPs, asking them to do this. It was beautiful to see, and I thank all of you for having been part of this process.
Then came a ton of postcards. These are some of the postcards that came from my health unit, the Sudbury and District Health Unit. Dr. Penny Sutcliffe has been phenomenal in motivating a lot of young people in the northeast to write. The postcards were quite telling. They say, “No Tan Is Worth Dying For! Urge the government of Ontario to enact legislation that bans the use of artificial tanning equipment by youth under the age of 18. Show your support; sign a postcard.” It was under the prevention and screening program of the northeast region.
Then, on the back of the postcard, was this message. Basically, it says, “I Support the Canadian Cancer Society’s call to action for the government of Ontario to:
“—ban the use of artificial tanning equipment by youth under the age of 18;
“—prohibit the marketing of artificial tanning targeting youth;
“—develop and maintain a registry of artificial tanning equipment in Ontario;
“—ensure all staff operating artificial tanning equipment are trained on operation procedures, maintenance, and how to identify people at greater risk of developing cancer, particularly those with type I (fair) skin;
“—require that signage be placed in clear view of each bed clearly outlining the health risks of artificial tanning.”
They went on with a little “Did You Know?” It says, “Did you Know?
“Exposure to ultraviolet radiation, such as that emitted from artificial tanning equipment, during childhood and adolescence can increase a person’s risk of getting skin cancer both now and later in life.
“Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer in young Ontarians aged 15-34.” Those statistics came from the Canadian Cancer Society.
It was very, very successful. I want to thank specifically the Sudbury and the Thunder Bay campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Pretty well every medical student in those two faculties took those postcards and circulated them around. Everywhere I went in northern Ontario where youth would gather, you would find those postcards.
Northern Ontario was not the only one to put a postcard campaign together. We had another campaign that I really like, because it goes, “Orange Is a Snack, Not a Skin Tone!” It has the picture of a big orange. It’s from takeaction.cancer.ca. The hashtag for Twitter is called #tanbedban. I will read it for you. It goes as follows:
“I support the implementation of indoor tanning legislation that would:
“—restrict indoor tanning beds for youth under the age of 18;
“—ban indoor tanning promotion targeted at youth;
“—start a registry and licensing system so that we know where tanning beds are in our communities;
“—truly train all staff operating indoor tanning equipment;
“—clearly display the health risks associated with indoor tanning in salons.” It went on to say, “I support the implementation of legislation that would ban indoor tanning for youth under the age of 18.” Then they would sign their names to it.
“Orange Is a Snack, Not a Skin Tone!” was extremely successful. It was used mainly in southern Ontario in the region of Niagara, it was used in eastern Ontario, and the same: It was young people engaging with other young people to make sure that, first of all, the education about tanning beds was being done, because while you sign a postcard, you start to ask questions: “Why are you doing this?” “Really, tanning is not good for you.”
We could start to work on some of the myths. One of my favourites is, “We’re going away for the March break. I need a base tan.”
Mme France Gélinas: I hate when I hear that—my colleague and I. You don’t need a base tan. A tanned skin is a damaged skin. A base tan is not going to protect you from cancer; a base tan is what gives you cancer. Stay away from this. This is basically the industry—
Mr. Jagmeet Singh: Marketing.
Mme France Gélinas: Yes, the marketing that has done their work. They have repeated this message enough times that Ontarians believed it, but it is not true. There is no safe tan. If you build a base tan, you expose yourself to skin cancer.
We had another postcard campaign that went on, and this one was also very creative. They were mainly young people who did that. They were colourful. This one is called, “You wouldn’t burn your toast, so why burn your skin?” It’s basically, “Tanned skin is damaged skin. Melanoma is a young person’s disease. Using a tanning bed increases your risk of getting skin cancer by up to 71%.” That was developed by reactniagara.ca. It comes from the Niagara area. Basically, on the back of it you would see burnt toast. It’s called Niagara’s Youth Care. “I support Bill 74”—at the time, the bill was called Bill 74; it then got called Bill 128 and it then got called Bill 30, but it was the Skin Cancer Prevention Act—“the Skin Cancer Prevention Act, in banning anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning beds.” It came from the Niagara region public health under their React program.
I received thousands and thousands and thousands of those boxes of postcards that basically showed to me that this was a very well-received campaign. Youth got engaged. They did their work. They went through different events and talked to their peers.
Then we had the school pledge. I want to thank, once again, the Canadian Cancer Society for helping with this. Basically, they would go to different schools and make sure that the prom would be a tan-free prom. I attended some of them in my riding and some of them in Sudbury. But I’ll always remember when I was at Lockerby Composite School, Lockerby high school: a big, big high school in Sudbury where they had called all their graduating classes. We were in the gymnasium with hundreds of kids in there, and representatives from the Sudbury chapter of the cancer society were there. They had brought forward a young woman who had dealt with skin cancer to talk to the group.
Then it would be my part. In my part, I would get them to take a pledge that said they would not use tanning equipment. It was interesting. There, like in every other high school, out of the hundreds of kids who are there, they almost all got up, except for four or five very pretty, tanned girls. To me, the message was very telling: They had received the education, they saw the pressure from their peers, but they were still convinced that they needed to tan, because when it comes time to take on the glamour industry, I’m sorry, but old folks like me will never cut it. There is no way we could do enough health promotion, disease prevention and social marketing to get to those girls. The glamour industry has us outnumbered, outspent and out-everything else.
I became more and more convinced that the only way to do this was to enact legislation; let’s just ban it altogether. As a mom who had to raise three teenage sons and daughters—we all know the struggle of raising teenagers. They want to go out. They want the car. They want to smoke. They want to drink. They want to have sex. They want to experiment with drugs. They want all sorts of stuff.
Mr. Steve Clark: That woke us all up. Everyone is awake now.
Mme France Gélinas: I woke them up.
I’ll speak about my kids. That’s what they were like when they were teenagers. Yours were all angels, I know; mine were—lots of other people are facing this. You have to say no to your teenagers on so many fronts that some parents basically caved in when it came to tanning. You can only say no to your teenage girl so many times. After a while, when it comes between all of the choices in front of you, you cave in and you agree that she can tan, because you don’t want the tattoo, you don’t want the boyfriend and you don’t want the drinking. You have to say yes someplace, and you say, “Well, I guess tanning is better.”
We have taken this equation out of raising young people. It will now be—tomorrow, hopefully—the law in Ontario that there will be no more of that. I think that will be a good thing.
Then we had the day at Queen’s Park that happened on April—you’d figure that the date would be tattooed in my mind—in April 2012. I will tell you the date very quickly—I forgot; I think it was the 22nd—when the cancer society came and did a day at Queen’s Park. They organized a breakfast, they reached out to all of the MPPs, and it was really pleasant to see that we had support on all sides of the House. The petitions, the postcards and the work that the youth had done had done its work. There was finally wide-ranging support in the House for the bill to go through. I reintroduced the bill, it got support and we were making strides forward.
There were a few people—a few MPPs—who had issues. The volunteers who had come with the cancer society reported that back, and I think you know who you are. I went and had a little chat with them to explain to them what the bill would and would not do, and it became obvious that we had full support.
We also saw a big campaign on Facebook. For this, I want to say thank you to Lindsay Powley. Lindsay has put forward a very nice Facebook page called “No tan is worth dying for.” It was in line with the postcard campaign and, basically, it was a way for young people to reach out to other young people and to get everybody to like the page. That was also very successful in doing the groundwork of health promotion to reach out to youth, as well as useful in reaching out through social media.
At the same time as all of that was happening, the health unit came to the rescue. There are some of them that I really want to thank personally for all of the work that they have done to move this page forward. I want to thank Jeff Scott, who is a councillor in Countryside in the city of Kingston, and I want to thank Liz Schell, because both of those councillors have moved regulations within the town of Kingston to ban indoor tanning, and those regulations came because they couldn’t see the day when Ontario would finally move and bring a ban for the entire province, so they brought matters into their own hands and tried to help.
I also want to thank Gary Scripnick, who is the chair of the board of health of the Porcupine Health Unit. The Porcupine Health Unit has done a lot of work to make sure that everybody on board in the far northeast of our province was supportive of the tanning bill.
I want to thank the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit and, more particularly, Mr. Mac Bain, who is the chairperson of the board of health and who passed a resolution showing that the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit supported the tanning bill.
I want to thank the Services de santé du Timiskaming Health Unit and, more specifically, their board chair, and councillors Merdy Armstrong and Sue Nielsen, for their support. That health unit also passed a resolution in support of the tanning bill, the Skin Cancer Prevention Act.
Of course, I want to thank my own health unit, the Sudbury and District Health Unit, le Service de santé publique de Sudbury, which, through its medical officer of health, Mrs. Penny Sutcliffe, made sure that Sudbury was on the books as supportive. They also helped me go to the city of greater Sudbury, where we went to the councillor and presented at city council to see if the city of Sudbury would be willing to bring regulations that would be specific to the city because it took so long for the province to move. But we are there now, and I am happy.
I want to thank the prevention and screening network for the northeast region—the Algoma health unit, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, the Porcupine Health Unit, the Sudbury and District Health Unit and the Timiskaming Health Unit. All together, they work on the prevention and screening network for the northeast region, and they have been a tremendous advocate. A lot of the posters, postcards and petitions that you’ve seen—they were the people behind it. Somebody had to pay for those postcards and somebody had to pay for the distribution of those postcards and gather them all up, and that network was really instrumental.
To Dr. Allan Northan, who was the medical officer of health of the Algoma health unit; Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health at the Sudbury and District Health Unit; Dr. Susan Kaczmarek, who is the medical officer of health of the Porcupine Health Unit; Dr. Jim Chirico, who is the medical officer of health of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit; and Pat Logan, who was the acting medical officer of health for the Timiskaming Health Unit: Thank you so much for all the help you have done, bringing this bill forward. Your efforts have paid off.
I want to thank Carman Kidd from the board of health of the Timiskaming Health Unit for what he has done, and Barry Ward, who is the board chair for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, for all the work that he has done.
There is also the Canadian Paediatric Society. The Canadian Paediatric Society put together a very compelling report that basically supported the bill and also showed the effect it was having on their young patients. The pediatric society deals with children, and they put together a summary of all of the evidence for banning children and youth under the age of 18 from commercial tanning facilities. The research that they had done was very compelling. It was well done and certainly helped put our case forward.
I want to thank the Ottawa Public Health unit and, more specifically, their chair of the board of the city of Ottawa health unit—her name is Diane Holmes—
Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Holmes.
Mme France Gélinas: Yes; the member from that area knows her—for all the work that she has done. Ottawa has been very active in making sure that they were full partners in bringing this forward.
You have to realize that, for the health units that commit, a lot of the work that will follow up with that bill, the registry and the enforcement of that bill, will be the responsibility of the health unit. The health units were really showing that they were willing and able partners, willing to take on this task.
I also want to thank Pat Madill, who is the regional clerk for Durham region, who also made sure that their region had endorsed the regulation of the tanning industry. The support was really building, and I thank them for that.
Something fun that was started in the northeast is that young writers—but you’re talking, like, sometimes in elementary school, sometimes in early high school—would write letters to the editor. J’aimerais remercier Jessica MacLean, qui est de l’école secondaire Champlain à Chelmsford dans mon comté, qui a écrit, en mai cette année, dans la revue Tapage. La revue Tapage est une revue francophone qui est distribuée avec le journal Le Voyageur dans une grosse partie du Nord-Est. C’est un journal francophone qui reconnaît l’importance des jeunes, et Jessica MacLean avait écrit un article sur le bronzage artificiel. Cela avait été vraiment bien reçu, et il y avait eu plusieurs commentaires. Je la nomme, elle, parce qu’elle y avait fait beaucoup de recherches. Il était vraiment bien fait, et il y en avait beaucoup d’autres qui ont fait la même chose qu’elle.
J’aimerais également remercier—I also wanted to thank somebody who was here for a long time, Mr. Dalton McGuinty. Dalton had clearly showed—he had phoned me one day to tell me that I had his support for this piece of legislation. Certainly, when he was Premier of the province at the time, when you get the Premier to phone you to say that you have his support, you sort of feel that you’re gaining momentum.
And of course, Kate Neale: When Kate participated in our press conference last spring—it was in the spring of 2012—it was quite touching and quite moving. We’ve talked about how brave she is to be the face of what the use of tanning beds does to a young person. If you don’t know Kate, she is one of those drop-dead gorgeous young ladies. She is very pretty. She is eloquent. She is full of life, full of ambition, an excellent ambassador to talk to her peers about the dangers of tanning beds. She’s also a cancer survivor. She has dealt with many bouts of skin cancer.
So that was part of what we did to garner support, to make sure that all 107 MPPs in this place knew what this bill was about and knew why it needed to move forward.
Let me tell you a little bit of what happened at the legislative level. At the legislative level, you will all know that back in 2009, it was Khalil Ramal who had presented the Skin Cancer Prevention Act. At the time, we could not co-sponsor the bill; it came shortly after. His bill was supported past second reading, and nothing was done. Not to be put off by that, we, together, co-sponsored the bill. I figured, “Well, if I gave my support to a Liberal bill and it didn’t pass, maybe we’ll be luckier if we put our efforts together.” So he and I reintroduced the bill; it was the same thing, the Skin Cancer Prevention Act. It then was given the number Bill 31. So, Bill 31 was co-sponsored by a Liberal and an NDPer and basically said, “It’s time to regulate the tanning industry.” That was in 2010, and nothing happened.
Then in 2012, I decided to try again. By then, we had had all of the postcards. All of the MPPs had been talked to. The Canadian Cancer Society had invested tons of resources. The Ontario division of the cancer society had done their work: They had trained the volunteers; they had gone to their MPPs. The work had been done. We had everybody’s support. That was called Bill 74.
Then, on October 2, we presented Bill 126, and the next day, the House prorogued—which is a word that sounds like “perogies,” but believe me, it doesn’t taste the same at all in my mouth. That means that the bill went nowhere. That was really disappointing.
So I had tried to support a Liberal bill; it went nowhere. I had tried to co-sponsor a bill that went nowhere. I had put it forward by myself twice; that went nowhere. And then the Minister of Health approached me and said, “How about we make it a government bill?” And this is Bill 30.
By this point, everything else had been tried, with very limited success, so I kind of felt like, “What have I got to lose?” I asked her one question: “How fast?” By that time, there was a ton of people who had done a ton of work, and I kind of felt that the patience was running thin. She said, “Fast.” So I said, “Well, what does ‘fast’ mean?” She said, “Very fast.” “All right. What does ‘very fast’ mean?” I got nowhere with that, but I kind of got the idea that she was going to move that through the House quickly.
You have to understand that, with my usual luck—we each get a ballot date as to when we can bring a bill forward when we’re in opposition. As a private member’s bill, I think I’m, like, fifth from last. I’m in February 2014. Here’s the Minister of Health, who can move bills through the House whenever she sees fit. It sounded like a good deal; I gave her the bill.
It then became Bill 30. We have got many changes of numbers, but the bill itself hasn’t changed. It is to regulate the industry to ban teens under the age of 18, to make sure that there are warnings, that we know where they are, that there is education so that you cannot have promotions targeting youth for tanning. The bill stayed the same. The numbers changed many times through that long story.
Throughout all this, we always kept an eye as to what was happening in other jurisdictions, because although the research had been done upfront as to, yes, that was pretty solid evidence between use of tanning beds and what it does to skin cancer, many, many years had passed. So I kept an eye.
I’d like to say a special thank you. J’aimerais remercier Maryse Gaudreault, qui est la députée de Hull. Elle siège à l’Assemblée nationale du Québec et elle m’avait fait parvenir le projet de loi 74, la Loi visant à prévenir les cancers de la peau causés par le bronzage artificiel, qui avait été présenté par M. Yves Bolduc, le ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux.
When I first presented that bill and when Ontario first presented that bill, we would have been one of the first ones to bring legislation for the tanning industry. As the weeks turned into months that turned into years that turned into way too long, other jurisdictions beat us to the punch. We have Nova Scotia, we have British Columbia, we have Quebec, we have PEI, and we have Newfoundland and Labrador that have all brought forward legislation before us. But rest assured, Madam Speaker, we are about to change this, because when I sit down, that will be the end of third reading for this bill, and tomorrow, hopefully by about a quarter to 12, we will have voted unanimously—I don’t know this; I’m just speculating—in favour of this bill, and Ontario will be in good company with all of those other jurisdictions.
There are a number of agencies that have put public support for this, and I would like to read some of them into the record. It goes as follows: “A poll completed on behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society in June 2001 showed that 83% of Ontarians support restricting youth under 18 years from indoor tanning. If that isn’t enough for Ontario to take action, a recent survey of indoor tanning among youth aged 12 to 17 years found that a shocking one in 10 of all teens are using tanning beds, which is up 5% from six years ago.” That comes from Martin Kabat, who is the CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. He ends by saying, “The time to enact indoor tanning legislation to protect the health of our youth is now!”
Then, Madame Annette Cyr, who is the chair of the Melanoma Network of Canada—melanoma is a form of skin cancer—says, “Although melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, it is highly preventable. Up to 90% of melanoma cases are a direct result of exposure to UV radiation which is caused by either sunshine or indoor tanning beds. The World Health Organization has classified indoor tanning beds as a ‘known carcinogen to humans,’ putting it in the same classification as tobacco or asbestos.”
I had many, many more. I had Leona Yez, the executive director of the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation: “Children’s skin is more sensitive to UV radiation than that of adults. As a result, anyone under the age of 18 is at greater risk for developing cancer when exposed to UV.”
We have a number of dermatologists and a number of other physicians. I see that I am running out of time. I had Denise Wexler, the president of the Canadian Dermatology Association. All of them went public and pushed the government to act.
I went through this because I wanted to see the struggle it was to do something right, something that is not political, something that is not divisive—something that should have been done. We are finally coming close to the finish line. I have practised my happy dance, I must tell you. Tomorrow at a quarter to 12, you will see a full-blown—behind the closed curtain of my office—happy dance, because I have waited for a long time for that piece of legislation to come forward.
I want to thank Joanne Di Nardo and Florentina, who are here, who have come time after time whenever we debated the bill. It’s done. Third reading is done. Hallelujah.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The member for Oak Ridges–Markham.
Ms. Helena Jaczek: I rise in the House today to speak further to our proposed legislation that, if passed, would protect Ontario’s young people from the harmful effects of exposure to ultraviolet radiation caused by tanning beds. This legislation is an example of what we can achieve when we work together and find common ground on our shared priorities.
Like the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, I am pleased that the bill, which would prohibit the use of tanning beds by young people under age 18, has passed second reading. I know that the Standing Committee on General Government has carefully considered this legislation.
I was present at the committee meeting in which we heard from a number of delegations that provided us with thoughtful input during their presentations. These delegations included the Lupus Foundation of Ontario, the Joint Canadian Tanning Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Allied Beauty Association, Peel Public Health, Uvalux Tanning and Support, and the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association. The committee also received written submissions from the South East Regional Cancer Program and Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario at Kingston General Hospital.
Taken together, the considered input of these groups helped to guide the committee in its examination of this proposed legislation. The remarks of members on both sides of the aisle within the House, at committee and outside the walls of the Legislative Assembly show that this is an area where all members find common ground. When the first private member’s bill on this subject was introduced by the former member from London–Fanshawe, certainly I stood in my place and supported it. This was followed by the private member’s bill alluded to by the member from Nickel Belt, and again, she received support for that.
It is clear that each member of this House recognizes the importance of restricting access to tanning beds for young people in this province. Cancer claims too many of our parents; it claims too many of our children. Every one of us has been touched by cancer. Each of us knows the responsibility to help those who are faced with this terrible disease.
The responsibility to prevent cancer in the first place is just as great. It is a moral responsibility we feel because we know so many have to fight this deadly disease every day, but it is also a responsibility we feel as legislators. With this proposed legislation, we have an opportunity to help prevent our young people all across Ontario from getting this disease.
As a physician and former medical officer of health—and thank you to the member for Nickel Belt for complimenting those of my colleagues who have been so supportive of this legislation. Certainly we in public health are all too aware of the ravages wrought by malignant skin cancers like melanoma. I’m sure nobody in this House needs me to tell them that these cancers can be aggressive and fatal. The good news is that we know one of the major causes of this kind of cancer: exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
I hope, in the course of some educational efforts around tanning bed use, that people will also realize that exposure to the sun—ultraviolet radiation from that source—can be extremely dangerous as well. You never, ever want your skin to burn.
We do have some knowledge in terms of prevention, and in particular, when it comes to tanning beds, there is strong, growing evidence associating the use of tanning beds with an increased risk of contracting skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, a relatively benign form of skin cancer, and the far more dangerous squamous cell carcinoma and, of course, malignant melanoma. We also know that those dangers are greater for young people, and I want to repeat something we have already heard this afternoon because I think it’s important: The risk of getting melanoma increases by 75% when people use tanning beds before the age of 35.
Despite this risk, more and more young people are using tanning beds every year. It is no coincidence that, therefore, more and more young people are being diagnosed with melanoma every year. Clearly, we must do something to help prevent this risk to the health of our sons and daughters, and there is a growing consensus that the time to act is now.
Our government’s commitment to cancer prevention is a key part of our action plan for health care. This action plan was released by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care early in 2012. It called for a fundamental shift in how health care is delivered in Ontario to protect our universal public health care system for generations to come. It called for the kind of change we could only bring about by working together: government and opposition, legislators and health professionals, policy-makers and front-line workers. All Ontarians must work together if we are to bring about a full-scale shift in the way we understand health care and how it’s delivered.
A key part of that is our increased emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention. We want Ontarians to live healthier lives. We recognize, quite simply, that the best way to fight a disease like cancer is to prevent it. We have made tremendous progress since the action plan was introduced, and this proposed legislation is consistent with that fundamental shift and that co-operation between advocates, scientists, health care workers and members of all parties in this House. It’s up to every one of us as individuals to live healthy and active lives, but I believe government has a vital and constructive role to play in creating a climate that fosters this. Therefore, it is important that government partners with all Ontarians in order to help Ontario families live healthier lives.
As individuals, we do what we need to do in order to stay healthy. As legislators, however, our responsibility is to all Ontarians, to help protect them, especially the youngest of them, from disease. That’s why we’ve toughened tobacco laws, banning smoking in public places, and that’s why we’re encouraging more Ontarians to quit smoking as part of Smoke-Free Ontario.
The proposed legislation we are considering today is consistent with our action to protect young people from second-hand smoke. It’s time to work together across political lines to protect young people from artificial ultraviolet radiation. I believe that this proposed legislation responds to the evidence and addresses a serious health issue in a fiscally responsible manner.
The proposed legislation, as the minister has already remarked, also has had a number of antecedents and a tremendous amount of support inside and outside of this chamber. Members of all three parties have shown a commitment to swiftly bringing this proposed legislation to final confirmation at the end of third reading. The bill has been fruitfully debated and carefully considered at committee. The evidence is clear, and need for quick action acknowledged by all of us.
Now I am calling on all members of the House to support Bill 30’s passage. We would then be able to develop supporting documents like protocols and guidelines for public health units which will enforce the act, train public health inspectors and bring about the regulations we need to support the legislation. The faster we can pass and implement this proposed legislation, the better. It’s time we took this next step to help protect the lives of young Ontarians.
I would like to once again thank the many people and organizations who have worked tirelessly to educate and advocate on this issue. They have made the risks of indoor tanning bed use by young people clear to all of us, and they have been strong advocates for restricting its use by the youth of Ontario.
I also want to thank the many thousands of Ontarians who take up arms every day in the battle against this terrible disease: the doctors and nurses who care for cancer patients, the educators and advocates who help Ontarians to make informed decisions that will keep them healthy and the scientists searching for a cure. I want to sincerely thank them for the work they do every day. And I want to thank the many Ontarians who have to fight this disease up close, those who have loved ones afflicted with cancer and those who have it themselves. All of us are inspired by the simple courage they show each and every day.
The battle isn’t over, but this legislation, if passed, will help to sway the odds for many Ontarians.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?
Mr. Bill Walker: It’s a pleasure to speak to Bill 30, the Skin Cancer Prevention Act, this government’s proposed legislation on tanning beds. Madam Speaker, I have a definite personal connection. I have a sister Bonnie and my mom, who are both cancer survivors, and unfortunately, I lost my dear sister Marjorie 14 years ago. It wasn’t tanning bed cancer; it was lung cancer. But at the end of the day, cancer is cancer, and it needs to be stamped out. My legacy to my sister is to fight every day that I can to make change wherever we can, particularly when there are youth involved.
The other side of it is Terry Fox. He has always been my idol. What he did for our country and for people with cancer, to me, is just monumental. So again, any time I can step up and do my little part, it’s absolutely a pleasure and a privilege.
Before I begin, I would like to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard and advocated for years for safe use of tanning beds: the Canadian Cancer Society. We have Joanne Di Nardo and Florentina Stancu-Soare, who I had the privilege of working with in my former critic role as deputy health critic, and Kate Neale, of course, our survivor who has very eloquently brought her thoughts here and shared with us her personal challenges.
In my own riding, I have been lobbied by many volunteers and staff members of the Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound Canadian Cancer Society, in particular, Lera Ryan, Geoff Van Geem and Susan Hewitson. Just last week Rethink Breast Cancer was in to visit me and lobby and put their platform forward.
We need to do what we could have done many, many years ago, I believe. This is the second time around for me, and France Gélinas, I know, has brought this a number of times. I’d like to acknowledge France, Minister Matthews and our tireless champion and health care critic, Christine Elliott, for all their work to ensure that this got to this point, to third reading.
Bill 30 is in response to evidence that indoor tanning beds, and ultraviolet UV-radiation-emitting tanning devices, tanning beds and lamps, are the most dangerous form of cancer-causing radiation. Like tobacco and like asbestos, tanning beds are now a known carcinogen. In fact, research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, shows that tanning is especially harmful to young people: “Those who use sunbeds before age 30 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75%.”
Madam Speaker, I have a dozen nieces and nephews and 15 great-nephews and great-nieces, and again, this legislation, in my mind, is for them. It’s going to ensure that they do not go down that perilous path when they don’t know really at that age what they’re doing to themselves and create harm that may be irreparable. I do this with great sincerity and want to ensure that we do in fact move this forward as quickly as possible.
IARC also pointed to studies showing a link between UV radiation from indoor tanning devices and melanomas of the skin and eyes. For perspective, I would like to add that melanoma will be diagnosed in 5,000 and kill an estimated 940 people in Canada this year alone. We need to prevent this. We need to do whatever we can. Given these alarming numbers, it is incumbent upon us to protect our children and youth by using regulatory powers to restrict the use of indoor tanning beds by persons under the age of 18.
The current lack of controls affects millions of teenagers. According to a national survey, and I quote, “Teenagers are the most likely to try to get a tan, either from the sun or by using tanning equipment.” It adds that indoor tanning is more common among young women than young men and older adults, with 27% of young women ages 16 to 24 using tanning equipment. For this reason, many jurisdictions in North America and across the world have implemented regulatory controls on indoor tanning by minors. These include bans, the requirement of parental consent forms, restrictions on advertising, mandatory health warnings and signage, and restrictions on frequency of use.
In the US, Texas enacted the strictest law in the nation, banning children under age 16 from indoor tanning and requiring in-person parental consent for everyone under 18.
Delaware prohibits those under 14 from tanning facilities unless they have a doctor’s prescription, and requires those under 18 to have a parent or guardian sign a consent form in the presence of a tanning facility operator.
In Canada, six provinces have followed suit or are in the process of it. It’s a shame that we’re not, as Ontario, leading the way, but at least we are moving forward very quickly now, Speaker.
As well, Canada’s prominent health organizations, such as the Canadian Paediatric Society, are taking strong positions against artificial tanning. I quote Dr. Richard Stanwick, their president: “This is a serious cancer risk, and children and adolescents are not fully aware of the risks they are taking when they step into a tanning bed.… The intensity of rays from tanning beds is 10 to 15 times stronger than the noon sun. This means that people who spend 10 minutes in a tanning bed walk away with exposure similar to a full day at a beach or lake.… Damage to the skin is cumulative. So the earlier you start tanning, the more you are exposed to cancer-causing ultraviolet rays and the greater your risk for skin cancer.”
The Canadian Dermatology Association’s Dr. Cheryl Rosen, their national director, said, “The Canadian Dermatology Association strongly encourages governments at all levels to pass legislation regulating the use of artificial tanning equipment, and particularly to prohibit those under 18 from such exposure, which is proven to be carcinogenic to humans.… It is important to increase public awareness of the dangers of exposure to UV radiation from artificial tanning.”
The Canadian Cancer Society’s Aaron Levo, director of public issues: “The Canadian Cancer Society is concerned about the very real threat to public health posed by indoor tanning.… We support the call for more strongly worded and prominent labelling on tanning beds.”
Health Canada itself has said that “no one under the age of 18 should use a tanning bed.”
Health units have passed resolutions in support of the same, including North Bay, Parry Sound, Middlesex-London, Niagara region, Toronto and Hamilton, while others, such as the Grey Bruce Health Unit in my riding, continue to raise awareness about the dangers of artificial tanning. I’d like to give kudos to our medical officer of health, Dr. Hazel Lynn, who really continues to push for anti-smoking legislation wherever she can in our riding.
Take it from the experts: They now see people in their 30s who have skin cancer because they started using tanning beds in their teens. While their tan is now long gone, the damage on their skin is still there
Tanning is risky. It offers no real advantage other than maybe a few people thinking they look better and the peer pressure that goes with it. We just need to find other ways to do that, Speaker. It isn’t safe for them, and they need to be aware of what really can happen.
If they could have stood beside my sister’s hospital bed as I watched the final hours of her life and saw the pain and suffering that not only she went through, but her immediate family, her children and her grandchildren—this should be a done deal, Speaker. We need to ensure everybody in this House takes this message outside of here and talks to those young children to ensure that they don’t go down that perilous slope where they do things for vanity that in later years will definitely impact them.
Speaker, the general key points of this bill talk about prohibiting the sale of tanning services to youth under 18; requiring tanning bed operators to request identification from anyone who appears under 25; banning advertising and marketing of tanning services targeted at youth under 18; requiring tanning bed operators to post signs about the ban and the health risks associated with the use of tanning beds; setting fines for tanning bed operators who fail to comply with the legislation; and authorizing inspectors to inspect and enforce these requirements.
Again, my heartfelt and sincere thanks to every person in Ontario—the volunteers, the staff members, those family members who are working out there to try to do what they can to turn this horrible disease of cancer around; to the scientists, to the people who donate money and all the various not-for-profit organizations that run events in support for finding a cure for cancer. We need to do what we can. Today, as legislators, we have the ability to move this through to third reading.
In closing, I would like all members of the House to do their part and to help raise awareness about the dangers of artificial tanning and to continue to support the passage of Bill 30 as quickly as we can.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?
Ms. Sylvia Jones: It’s an honour to rise this afternoon on behalf of the residents of Dufferin–Caledon to discuss Bill 30, the Skin Cancer Prevention Act, 2013. Bill 30, of course, was introduced last March and has received a lot of debate so far. This bill has now already been through committee and is back today for its third and final reading.
I just want to thank the member from Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound. He was very eloquent in his support of the bill and the need for it. Thank you for that.
Of course, this is a bill that, for some time, all three parties have agreed on and have spoken in support of. We’ve heard from the Premier quite a bit, actually, about how important this bill is. I’ll be the first to admit that this is an important initiative. That’s why I’ve been pleased to support this legislation through first, second and now third reading. Bill 30, the Skin Cancer Prevention Act, is basically about protecting Ontario’s youth from the harmful effects of indoor tanning beds.
This is really a response to the increasingly growing scientific evidence that points to the known dangers associated with using tanning beds. Studies have shown that the types of ultraviolet light treatments tanning beds are designed around can be quite detrimental, particularly to youth health. This is one of the reasons that, in 2009, the World Health Organization took the notable step of classifying tanning beds as a known carcinogen. This classification is the highest risk category. Other things classified as known carcinogens are asbestos and tobacco.
Pertaining to youth specifically, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer reports that the risk of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, increases by 75% when tanning beds are used prior to the age of 35.
This is where Bill 30 comes in. It will restrict access to indoor tanning equipment for youth under the age of 18. The 18 age limit is a similar cut-off to other harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco. That is the basis of the bill and what it aims to accomplish.
A noble goal to be sure. However, this bill’s journey from first reading to today has been, as we all know, somewhat unique. You see, Speaker, Bill 30 was one of the bills that the PC caucus proposed to pass in a package of bills that we felt were all of good merit and that we could agree with the government in supporting. So we took the initiative and proposed the passage of these bills. There were eight in total, with Bill 30 being one of them. Our leader, Tim Hudak, and our caucus wholeheartedly agree that if we would agree on these specific bills, then let’s pass them. Let’s get it done; let’s clear the decks and get on with addressing Ontario’s tough economic issues. That is how Bill 30, really, got to this point today. The PC caucus stood up and said, “Okay, we’re here. We need to focus on the economy. We need to create jobs. So let’s get these bills passed, and let’s focus on the economy.”
I hope you don’t take me the wrong way here, Speaker. I don’t mean to say that Bill 30 is, in any way, unimportant. What I’m saying is we’re not disagreeing on the value, so let’s get it done.
We have a problem in Ontario. We need to deal with the economy. We need to deal with overspending. To do that, we obviously need to have time in this chamber to debate other issues. With the issues that we agree on, like Bill 30, let’s move on. Let’s get them passed. Let’s start saving some children’s lives and move on to other pressing issues.
We have had a consistent terrible stream of scandals flowing from this government one after another, not the least of which being the government’s crass seat-saver program, the actual cost of which we are only finding out today, over two years later. That’s because this government refuses to disclose the cost of those political decisions at every single turn, and we must therefore pull in people like the auditor to do their work.
Through it all, the Liberal government pointed to its various pieces of legislation like Bill 30 and claimed that somehow—but challenged them on their blatant disregard for taxpayers’ money—we were insensitive to legislative initiatives like this one. Yet here we are discussing Bill 30 during its third reading. The reason we’re here is because the opposition said, “Let’s clear the decks. Let’s get on with it. Let’s get this bill and others we can agree on passed and, for goodness’ sake, let’s focus on the economy.” We know the government hasn’t focused on the economy at all. We’re still waiting to hear their economic plan for Ontario. So we thought, “We’ll give you an opportunity. Let’s get Bill 30 and others passed, and let’s see if they actually have a plan for the economy.”
As I said, we have supported Bill 30 all along, from the very beginning. So we know what Bill 30 aims to do, but what does it actually contain? Well, Bill 30 also requires tanning bed operators to request identification from people who appear to be under 25, very similar to the LCBO model. This will, of course, remind us all of the current practice regarding tobacco sales in Ontario, which adhere to very similar standards.
Another measure that is included in Bill 30, which I think would make a difference, is the requirement for tanning bed owners to post signs about the ban as well as the health risks associated with the use of tanning beds.
To make these requirements meaningful, it sets out financial penalties for failing to adhere to these rules. Fines are set at $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for corporations.
Bill 30 also bans the specific advertising and marketing of tanning services or ultraviolet light treatments to youth under 18 and requires that all tanning bed operators provide the local medical officer of health with the name, business address and telephone number where the tanning service is being sold.
I’d like to also briefly mention another aspect of Bill 30 that I was disappointed to see wasn’t amended in committee, and that is the fact that Bill 30 does not clearly differentiate between UV tanning and spray tanning. I know that our health critic, the member from Whitby–Oshawa, is confident that that issue can be dealt with in regulation. I think, Speaker, you know my personal feelings about putting too much stuff in regulation so that the public can’t participate in the discussion. Having said that, I am hopeful that the regulations will very specifically separate those two items, and as the science catches up, we can ensure that that is included. Therefore, in the Skin Cancer Prevention Act, you would think it would be important to differentiate between those two forms of tanning, since one has been directly linked to increased skin cancer, while the other, at this point anyway, has not.
Furthermore, from an economic perspective, I thought it was important to protect the ability of salons to provide spray tanning to youth under 18, as this would further help prevent the use of UV tanning.
Ultimately, the research is pretty clear that the primary risk factor for skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet radiation from both sun and UV tanning equipment.
When we have incidences of melanoma rising in Ontario youth and adults aged 15 to 34, I think we should be taking some action to help prevent this, and Bill 30 would certainly do that.
Skin cancer is now the most common cancer in Ontario. It accounts for one third of all cancer diagnoses in the province, and it is my hope that Bill 30 will help to reverse this troubling trend, even if only for a small group of young people.
My party has been clear, Speaker: We support this government bill, although I would like to give credit where credit is due. The member from—
Hon. Jeff Leal: Nickel Belt.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: —Nickel Belt—thank you—France Gélinas has been tireless in her efforts to bring forward this issue, so I want to acknowledge that work, because while it is a government bill, without her involvement, I don’t think we would be here today.
So we support this government bill. It’s why we proposed getting it through the legislative process and passed into law, and that is why I’m happy to see it pass through committee and come forward for debate today.
Tim Hudak and the PC caucus believe that creating jobs and growing the economy should be the number one priority of government. So now that we have proposed to get Bill 30 passed, we are eagerly awaiting some semblance of a jobs plan to come from this government, and if they do not have one, we encourage them to take ours.
Thank you, Speaker. I look forward to hearing the continuing debate.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?
Mr. Todd Smith: It is a pleasure to stand here at third reading and continue with the debate on the tanning bed ban for teens. It has been awhile, obviously, as was detailed by our member from Nickel Belt, France Gélinas, who has indeed been a tireless advocate to get this ban in place.
I’m not exactly sure what else I can add to the debate. We’ve had a lot of debate on this bill already, but I would like to bring credit to a few different people besides Madame Gélinas who have really championed this bill. She has been mentioned a couple of different times today, but Kate Neale happens to come from my riding, Prince Edward–Hastings. She’s a Belleville girl, and she has been a great face for this bill as well.
Her story is the one that’s going to resonate with our young people across the province. I know France Gélinas mentioned that earlier—I won’t call her an old person, which she did—definitely, when you have somebody who’s as young and beautiful as Kate Neale speaking about the dangers of indoor tanning and really challenging our society out there and the beliefs of our young people that a tan is a good thing—we see it in magazines, and we see it on music videos, television and in movies. There are so many terrible role models out there that I think it’s great that Kate Neale has taken Bill 30 to a different level.
Also, Joanne and Florentina from the Canadian Cancer Society have been tireless on this, and a number of people from the Prince Edward–Hastings Canadian Cancer Society unit as well: Kim White, who I met with on a number of occasions. She has appeared on my television show on TVCogeco in the Quinte area, Straight Talk with Todd Smith. You can catch that two or three times a week—high, high ratings for that show. As well, Heather Gray, Jeff Brace, Amy Doyle, Sue Rollins—there is a great team in Prince Edward–Hastings that hasn’t just been advocating for Bill 30 but also a number of different initiatives to end cancer in our society.
It is so prevalent, and I think even in the last week here, Madam Speaker, we’ve had three or four different groups in to talk about how we can end cancer or at least take steps to wipe it out.
I just want to share with you a little bit about Kate Neale. Kate is 22 years old now. While I don’t generally read Chatelaine magazine, I realize that it is a popular magazine, and Kate’s story was featured earlier this year. While Kate’s story is probably well known because she has talked to magazines like Chatelaine and, of course, newspapers like the Toronto Star, the Sun, the Globe and Mail and all of these different newspapers, and she has appeared on Global Television, CBC and CTV—they’ve all done stories on this bill—her story has never really been told here in the Legislature. I thought that in Chatelaine magazine, they did a very good job in getting her story out there in an interview with Kate. If you can bear with me, I think it would be informative for everybody to hear Kate’s story first-hand.
It goes like this: “In the summer of 2008, Kate Neale graduated from high school in Belleville, Ontario, and snagged one of the most coveted jobs among her friends: manning the desk at the local tanning salon. ‘It felt very glamorous,’ she says. ‘All of the pretty girls worked there—it was the place to be.’ The salon was always fully booked.
“Like many of her friends, Kate idolized reality star Paris Hilton and coveted her sun-kissed look. She’d dyed her long red hair blond and had been going to the salon for tanning sessions a few times a week for two years. Her parents didn’t approve (her mom is a nurse), so she’d hitch rides with friends and their parents.
“The first time Kate went to the salon, she was advised to start at seven minutes. Knowing she’d burn easily, she requested five (the lowest amount) instead—and still went home with a burn. Briefly, she considered not going back, but trips to the salon had become a social activity among her friends, and it wasn’t long before she returned for another session. ‘I got used to it. Then I started going at least three times a week—it was addictive. I’d go whenever I could.’
“In June 2008, the month of her prom, Kate went for 18 sessions for up to 18 minutes at a time in the salon’s highest-powered machine (there’s a warning on the machine recommending a 12-minute maximum).
“When Kate was hired by the salon, she got 12 free sessions a month. She also agreed to maintain her tan. Soon, Kate was basking under the blue-tinted lamps almost every day. ‘My skin wasn’t burning anymore, and I’d been taught about all the “healthy” benefits of tanning through the salon,’ she says.
“Three years later, Kate’s mom noticed a mole near her daughter’s belly button. It stood out on her skin and was darker than her freckles. Kate had noticed the mark a few months earlier but ignored it. Her mom pressured her to see a dermatologist, but Kate refused. ‘I didn’t believe anything was wrong. I insisted that I was trained, I was certified by Smart Tan’”—that’s a company that certifies salon workers as being knowledgeable about the benefits of tanning—“‘and I knew what I was doing.’
“Still, Kate did a Google search and discovered that the fact the mole was peeling and itchy wasn’t good. ‘That scared me, but I told myself I was fine and was just being paranoid,’ she says. Her aunt knew someone at a dermatologist’s practice and got her an appointment about two months later.
“In the exam room, the dermatologist told Kate that although the spot didn’t look suspicious, they would still do a ‘punch’ biopsy, a procedure where part of the spot would be removed and then sent to a lab for analysis. Kate received a stitch after the procedure and thought the ordeal was over—until two weeks later, when she received a phone call from her dermatologist’s office. The mole was cancerous. At 21, Kate had melanoma....”
“Kate was diagnosed with Clark’s Level 2 melanoma, which meant the cancer was in the top layers of her skin and not as deep as levels 3 to 5. Within weeks of her diagnosis, she was at a plastic surgeon’s office for a more invasive treatment called a wide excision, in which a doctor removed the spot from her stomach as well as six inches of tissue surrounding the freckle. She needed 14 stitches to close the wound. Kate waited, scared and anxious, for two weeks until the lab results came back: The melanoma had not spread to her blood, and the surgeon had been able to remove all of the cancer. Still, the diagnosis changed Kate’s life forever. Last year alone, she averaged two doctor’s appointments a week, getting her skin checked from head to toe and having an additional 12 biopsies for moles and freckles on her face, breasts, legs, armpits, arms and the sides of her torso (thankfully, they were all non-cancerous). ‘It’s exhausting, not to mention painful, to have all these biopsies ... But it’s a matter of life and death.’
“Having had melanoma once, and because of repeated and prolonged UV exposure from tanning, Kate has a high chance of the disease recurring. ‘I have to keep an eye on my body. My oncologist told me I’ve done a lot of damage to my skin, and because I have so many spots, they could change at any time. I look at my freckles daily and take photos of them.’ The worst part of it all, Kate says, is the anxiety. ‘There was a spot on my back recently that was itchy for a while, so I had it removed.’
“Reflecting on her original diagnosis, Kate says she isn’t angry at the salon, she’s angry at the whole tanning industry. ‘I felt betrayed. And I had encouraged so many other people to tan.’ For a few months after her diagnosis and surgeries, Kate felt sorry for herself. Then she decided to do something about it. ‘I thought, “Feeling bad isn’t going to do anything for me. There are a lot of people, a lot of my friends, who tan. My story needs to get out there.”’
“Kate has made it her mission to educate young people about the risks of tanning. Just over a year ago, she became a volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society”—and joined our NDP MPP France Gélinas for a press conference here at Queen’s Park.
“Last summer, Kate toured schools across Ontario, telling students about the risks of tanning and pleading with them to go tan-free for prom. ‘I hope tanning beds are banned in Canada in my lifetime. But it has to happen in baby steps, like the laws around smoking—unfortunately we can’t just ban it all at once,’ she says.
“Her efforts have already paid off. In Oakville and Belleville, Ontario, bylaws were recently passed prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning beds.” In Belleville, she had 50 doctors sign letters supporting the bylaw and didn’t have to convince anyone saying that it was a no-brainer. At one school in Toronto last year, she actually forgot her presentation and was sure that none of the students were paying attention to her speech that she was giving that day. She thought it was awful, but that was the presentation where she had the most people come up to her right after, thank her and sign a tan-free pledge.
She is continuing to speak at schools, advocating for tan-free proms. She says it’s challenging to get through, because she knows that when she was a teenager she may not have listened either, but she’s honest with the students, shows them her scars and doesn’t sugar-coat anything, and that makes them listen. She says that even if one person stops tanning and saves their life, then she’s happy with that. Kate Neale has been a great ambassador for the Canadian Cancer Society in getting the message out there that this is the right thing to do.
As Conservatives we always hate to ban anything, but in this case, when the evidence is clearly there—it became clear in 2009, when the World Health Organization declared that indoor tanning had the same negative effect on our bodies as asbestos and smoking, that it was carcinogenic—it was time to bring in a ban, particularly for our young people. It is our duty to ensure that our young people are very safe.
We’ve heard all kinds of stats here today. One third of the cancers out there are skin cancers. Melanoma is a deadly disease; it’s not something to play with. We’ve been very careful to make sure that we moved this expeditiously through committee. I will give a little bit of time for my committee colleague Ms. Scott just to talk about how quickly we did get this through committee and make some changes to it, but I would just like to again champion the real champion, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s Kate Neale of Belleville and her advocacy for Bill 30.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?
Ms. Laurie Scott: It’s a pleasure to rise today and speak to the bill that bans tanning beds for youth under 18. I will give special recognition to the member from Nickel Belt, who tenaciously pursued this for many years. If we can say to the people watching, we were all in favour of expediently putting it through, as quickly as we could. We made a couple of amendments that I think strengthened the bill, so it was good to hear some feedback.
I want to shout out to the Peterborough chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society. They certainly championed this bill; I met with them several times. The Peterborough County-City Health Unit wrote a letter in support of this also. Even just bringing it up as we do in our communities, the awareness and education that are involved around that are very important. I don’t think tanning beds were that accessible when I was less than 18 years of age, if I can say, but we live in a different society now, and sometimes you have to bring in rules and regulations that protect our young people from the dangers that are out there.
The UV tanning ban that we’ve seen for under 18 is an example that we can make better. Other provinces had done it; it was time for the province of Ontario to step up to the plate. It was a very good response in committee to the deputations that we did hear and suggestions that we did get. As my colleague the member from Prince Edward–Hastings said, it went through committee with no problems.
The amendments—we all worked together. Some got through, some didn’t, but it doesn’t matter. The fact is that the bill is here. It’s strengthened because of that. We have protection now for young people under 18 years of age in respect to UV tanning, and we’ve probably educated a lot of parents about the effects and damages of this carcinogen-type event that is occurring.
I just want to say that we stand in support and would like to see the bill get final passage.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?
Pursuant to the order of the House dated October 3, 2013, I am now required to put the question.
Ms. Matthews has moved third reading of Bill 30, An Act to regulate the selling and marketing of tanning services and ultraviolet light treatments for tanning.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Call in the members. It will be a five-minute bell.
I have received the following message: “Pursuant to standing order 28(h), I request that the vote on the third reading of Bill 30 be deferred until deferred votes on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.
Third reading vote deferred.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Orders of the day. The Minister of Rural Affairs.
Hon. Jeff Leal: It’s a delight for me to call government order G6. Unfortunately, it should be the Kawartha Lakes Act, but I’m told it’s the Great Lakes Protection Act, so there we go.
GREAT LAKES PROTECTION ACT, 2013 /
LOI DE 2013 SUR LA PROTECTION
DES GRANDS LACS
Resuming the debate adjourned on October 3, 2013 on the motion for second reading of the following bill:
Bill 6, An Act to protect and restore the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin / Projet de loi 6, Loi visant la protection et le rétablissement du bassin des Grands Lacs et du fleuve Saint-Laurent.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?
Mr. Bradley has moved second reading of Bill 6, An Act to protect and restore the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute bell.
“Pursuant to standing order 28(h), I request that the vote on the second reading of Bill 6 be deferred until deferred votes on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.”
Second reading vote deferred.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Orders of the day. The Minister of Rural Affairs.
Hon. Jeff Leal: Thanks very much, Madam Speaker. You’re doing a very good job in the chair this afternoon. To everybody’s delight, I will move adjournment of the House.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
This House stands adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.
The House adjourned at 1747.