40e législature, 2e session

L131 - Thu 17 Apr 2014 / Jeu 17 avr 2014



Thursday 17 April 2014 Jeudi 17 avril 2014



























































The House met at 0900.

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




Resuming the debate adjourned on March 26, 2014, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 176, An Act to enact the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 and the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014 / Projet de loi 176, Loi édictant la Loi de 2014 sur l’obligation de faire rapport concernant la réduction des fardeaux administratifs et la Loi de 2014 sur les partenariats pour la création d’emplois et la croissance.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): When this item was last debated, we had completed questions and comments on Ms. Fife’s speech, the member from Kitchener–Waterloo. I will now call for further debate.

Mme France Gélinas: It is my pleasure to say a few words about Bill 176, An Act to enact the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 and the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014.

First of all, as the title says, it makes it really clear that there are really two parts to this bill. The first part of the bill has to do with the burdens that are put upon businesses in this province that are trying to grow their business, to bring prosperity, jobs etc. to different parts of our province. Under the first part of the act, the bill tries to address the burden—what people often refer to as red tape—that businesses have to go through. The bill is rather interesting in the sense that it makes it clear that there is a lot of red tape for businesses in Ontario, but the way it goes about cutting that red tape is rather interesting. It is under the responsibility of the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, but the bill would not be solely for this ministry. The way I understand it is that it would apply to all of the ministries within the government. The way they would go at it is basically by removing one burden at a time. It feels like the intentions are good. We want businesses to be able to prosper in our province, but when you look at the amount of it, and when you look at the steps that the bill is going to be taking, it seems like it’s going to take us a long time to get there. But, you know, 1,000 miles—you do a step at a time, and eventually you get there.

I’m not sure, from the business point of view, some businesses, that they will find that the plan from this government is really going at a pace that keeps pace with what business needs.

I want to give an example of something that happened in my riding. My riding is in and around Sudbury. In a little community just north of Sudbury called Chelmsford, there is the intersection of two big highways. Highway 144 is the highway that takes people from Sudbury north to Timmins. It’s a two-lane highway that goes straight north. If you go from Sudbury to Timmins, you have to go on Highway 144. As you leave Sudbury, you go through the beautiful little community of Chelmsford, which is in my riding. It’s also where there’s a bypass that goes around the city. If you go from west to north, you don’t have to come through Sudbury; you can use a bypass.

Right where those two highways meet, the northwest bypass and the highway going north, an entrepreneur in my riding in Nickel Belt built a beautiful water park with slides and pools, a big picnic area and all sorts of—right on the side of the highway. So every tourist who ever goes to camp up north or ever comes from the west to Sudbury or lives in and around Sudbury—I mean, there are 170,000 people who live in and around Sudbury—that was the perfect location. It’s located in a community that has lots of kids, lots of young families, and had great opportunity.

That was years ago, Speaker. Now this beautiful water park is there for all to see. It never got to open. The structures are still there. Everybody who drives by—and every year there are hundreds of thousands of people who will drive by—sees the slides are still there. Some pieces have been taken off to make them safer because kids had started to go and play. It never got to open. Why did it never open? Because of red tape; because a mismatch as to who had jurisdiction for health and safety for this, who could give the permission to access the water park from Highway 144 or from the northwest bypass. It was just a mess of a tangle of nobody knowing who was responsible and who could give the okay. The entrepreneur tried. The chamber of commerce put their shoulder to the wheel and really tried to make this project go through. We could see the potential. I mean, this is one of the busiest highway intersections in my riding—tons of people going by.

Sudbury may be in the north, but we have very hot, dry summers. We have lots of lakes. We’re called the City of Lakes for a reason. We have lots of lakes. Lots of people like swimming. We don’t have a waterslide anywhere near in northern Ontario; that would have been the one and only. It stands there for everyone to see years and years later, and it never got the permission to open. Things like this should never happen. It was not through a lack of engineering, because all of the slides had been engineered by people who had put waterslides in many other parts of Ontario. It was not through a lack of ingenuity from the investors and from the owners. But it never saw the light of day. That is, first of all, a real shame. But this is also one of the reasons why a bill like what we have in front of us today is something that has been needed for a long time.

I’ve talked about the chamber of commerce putting their shoulder to the wheel to try to help out, to try to make sure that this waterslide would see the light of day in my riding. But it didn’t matter. So people won’t be very surprised when I have the strategic plan from the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce in front of me.


The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce is defined in my community as the voice of business, and they do that very well. They represent over 1,000 businesses of all sizes, and that includes Sudbury and Nickel Belt. I would say that, without a doubt, they are the most influential business association in this community. They do advocacy and communication, and they do this with good science behind it. It didn’t matter that they brought together everything they had; we couldn’t get this water park to open.

The mission of the chamber of commerce—I will read it: “As the voice of business, the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce advocates for business and community prosperity.” They are the “driving force behind community growth and economic prosperity.” They do this through a set of values that I think are worth noting. Our chamber of commerce’s values are, first of all, integrity, courage, trust, committed, and broad thinking.

I wanted to focus on some of them, one being broad thinking. Not only do they bring fairness to the members; their process for consideration, as to what they will support, is fair. They look at how issues affect the entire community and all of the businesses as well. So if it’s really good for business but really bad for our community, our chamber of commerce would not support something like this. They really take a broad look, but to no avail.

I’m sure every single one of us has experience in their riding that ends up in the exact same place as my experience, where the red tape was just so thick that good business opportunities, good people who invested their own hard-earned dollars to make something happen, end up in disaster through no fault of their own. Because of the system we have in place, because of the different ministries that couldn’t get along, because of the different levels—some of it had to do with municipal, regional, provincial and federal—nobody knew who was allowed to give permission to let this thing go forward or to let it collapse, and the latter happened.

I see that my time is running quick, so I’m going to talk about the second part of the bill. The second part of the bill has to do with the creation of clusters. Nobody will be surprised that, in my neck of the woods, we have a mining cluster. They’re called the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association. Their executive director in Mr. Dick DeStefano, and they have been in business for about 11 years. I talk about the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association, or mining cluster, in northern Ontario because I’m not sure how this bill, which talks about supporting business clusters, would affect a cluster that has been in place and has a track record of the last 11 years.

Eleven years ago, Mr. Dick DeStefano had the idea that there was more wealth and more business and more opportunity to be created by the supply and service to mining than the actual digging and extracting of the minerals that are in Nickel Belt. Don’t get me wrong: We still have thousands of people in Nickel Belt who go underground every day to extract minerals for the different mining giants that we have, and we have people who work in the mills and the smelter and the refinery and all of this.

But did you know, Speaker, that we have more people in Sudbury who work in supply and service to the mining giants than who actually work for the mining industry? This has happened in part because we had people like Mr. Dick DeStefano, who really looked at it. It was a hunch that he had that we could build more prosperity in making sure that we had the supporting environment for, basically, everything that a mine could need, and we did that.

My eldest son works for Herold Supply, which basically exists to supply the mines with some of the needs they have, and there are hundreds and hundreds of other businesses in Sudbury that do that. But they all did that independently, and, I would say, with a fair bit of—not fighting, but really battling it out for their own business.

With this idea, 11 years ago, to create a cluster, not only did they bring the people who were already supplying services and products to the mines; they brought in other parts. They brought in our educational institutions, Collège Boréal, Cambrian College, Laurentian University; they brought in business people who could help some of those businesses that were just starting up, and we created this wonderful mining cluster that has been in existence for 11 years and has never really had any type of relationship with government. They did all of that on their own, and everybody would tell you that they have a prosperous future. I see no reason why they wouldn’t.

What I do see is that we now have a bill that focuses on clusters, and that makes us a little bit nervous because, you see, things like raising money for mining—because mining is an expensive business—is not done in Sudbury; it is done in Toronto. So what if the people in the ministry—basically, if you work for the ministry, you work in Toronto—all of a sudden decided that, “Oh, no, the mining cluster should be in Toronto because Toronto is where we raise money for mining in Ontario”? That wouldn’t sit well with me, and that wouldn’t sit well with a lot of people. So how this relationship is going to work is troublesome.

Do I believe in clusters? Absolutely. We are the living proof that once we brought those different businesses together, once we brought the intellectuals together, once we brought the colleges and universities together, once we brought the people who know a thing or two about human resources recruiting and recruitment and all of this all together, all of those little businesses were able to flourish—not only flourish, but they were able to gain insight as to how you do exports.

Have no fear; the intellectual knowledge about mining services and support in Sudbury is beyond—I would say, one of the best in the world. We export our knowledge and skills worldwide. There are people who come to Sudbury from all over the world because they want to know what Penguin innovation in my riding in Naughton has to offer. They do all sorts of remote control and how you mine more safely etc. for the mining industry, but they have exported their knowledge, their skills and their know-how worldwide, and so have a lot of little businesses all around Nickel Belt.

I have quite a few industrial parks in my riding, and most of those industrial parks are packed to capacity with healthy businesses that have forged through the recession and kept on working because their knowledge and skills are recognized not only province-wide and country-wide but worldwide. And why is that? It was because of the good work of Mr. DeStefano and everybody else who put their heads together and said that we needed to form a cluster.

I see the value in this. What I fail to see is what the role of government is in that. Our experience in Sudbury is a very positive one, but not one that was guided or directed by the government. So the entrepreneurial spirit behind the seeds planted to grow this cluster—is this something that is easily married with a government? I’m not sure. I don’t want to put it down; I just want to better understand how those two will be put together.


Je vois que le temps qui m’a été donné est quasiment terminé. Je voulais donner quelques mots face au projet de loi 178. Le projet de loi s’appelle la Loi édictant la Loi de 2014 sur l’obligation de faire rapport concernant la réduction des fardeaux administratifs et la Loi de 2014 sur les partenariats pour la création d’emplois et la croissance.

C’est un projet de loi qui a deux parties. La première partie, c’est vraiment tout ce qu’on appelle le fardeau fiscal. En français, on dit le « red tape ». Ça ressemble pas mal à l’anglais, mais ça dit ce que cela a à dire. Donc, le gouvernement s’engage au travers du projet de loi à, premièrement, en faire un rapport à chaque année pour voir où on est capable de diminuer le « red tape » au travers de tous les différents ministères et en faire rapport.

La deuxième partie du projet de loi, c’est pour la formation d’îlots où on met ensemble tous ceux qui travaillent dans la même direction, dans la même sorte d’industrie, pour que tout le monde en profite.

Il y a un très bel exemple de ça à Sudbury avec tout ce qui est du soutien et du service au secteur minier. Il y a plus de gens à Sudbury qui travaillent pour soutenir les mines qu’il y en a qui travaillent pour les compagnies minières, et ça, c’est grâce au travail de M. Dick DeStefano. Je vous remercie.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate the helpful comments from the member from Nickel Belt. I want to address a couple of her concerns. I know that she ended with clusters, so perhaps I’ll begin there.

I was happy to know that her colleague the member for Kitchener–Waterloo, my critic on economic development, spoke very positively about the cluster element of this bill. Of course, the mining sector—I was very happy to hear the history of how it has evolved over the last decade or so, including the hard work of Mr. DeStefano.

The great thing about clusters is that we bring together all partners. It’s not government trying to direct anything here. It’s recognizing that government does have a role in terms of encouraging job creation and economic growth, but the partners that are essential for cluster development are the private sector—of course—and labour, the academic institutions, the local levels of government and often not-for-profit organizations as well. So it’s really about bringing all of those partners together. The government has an important convening role to play, but those partners together will guide the future development of clusters, including the important mining and forestry sectors in the northern part of the province.

With regard to burden reduction, I can’t emphasize enough just how important this proposed legislation is. We’ve already, in the last five years, reduced the number of regulations that apply to business by 17%. More than 80,000 regulations have been eliminated.

Going forward, this was a request made to us specifically by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, who have said that as a result of this proposed legislation, Ontario’s going to be joining “the best in class in regulatory reform.” So it continues on our hard work to make it easier for business to do business in this province.

I thank, again, the member for Nickel Belt for her comments.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mr. John O’Toole: It’s always a pleasure to listen to the member from Nickel Belt. I’m very surprised and indeed impressed, because she recognizes something that Tim Hudak and our party have recognized for some time: that is the onerous burden of red tape and regulation.

This bill in itself is a fine example of a bill that’s creating red tape. I’d like the viewers to know that Bill 176 has two component parts to it; there are two sections. One is to require the government to report on the burden. Now, the burden has been defined as red tape. Let’s look at the actual definition of “burden.”

“Burden,” in this sense of a business case, is defined as a cost measured in money, time or resources and is considered unnecessary—that’s the burden part—to achieve the purpose of the cost being created. And they’re going to report on this. So that in itself, this bill, creates red tape. It is a shameful example of a government that simply cannot manage complex files.

I think they should look at the million-jobs plan by our leader, Tim Hudak, and our caucus—Monte McNaughton and a number of our members. I’m looking forward to one of our members this morning speaking on this: Mr. Leone. I hope he gets a chance to speak next. I’m looking for his riding name here. He’s from Cambridge. There’s an area that creates jobs. I’m sure he will have much to say about that important function.

The second part of the bill—and it’s a pleasure and it’s respectful that the minister is here this morning, and I do think he works hard. But working hard only means that you’re moving; it doesn’t mean you’re actually doing anything. I think, in all due respect, the cluster, for instance, that they’ve taken apart—the auto sector in Canada is in repair. What has happened to the mining sector? The Ring of Fire—they all picked up their tools and left. So I think you should take a second look at your plan. It’s simply not working. I don’t blame you entirely for all of this. Perhaps I blame the Premier herself. She has no interest in jobs and the economy. She’s never tabled a plan.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Algoma–Manitoulin.

M. Michael Mantha: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Ça me fait tout le temps plaisir de suivre ma collègue de Nickel Belt. L’histoire qu’elle a partagée avec nous ce matin à propos d’un petit parc d’amusement qu’il y avait dans le coin de Chelmsford—je le connais très bien. Je suis souvent passé par le parc et j’ai tout le temps envisagé d’aller m’amuser à ce parc avec mes enfants. Ça a pris beaucoup de temps pour qu’on voie un avancement avec le parc. Tout d’un coup, quand c’est arrivé, le petit bout de la « slide » qui était là au parc et qui s’établit dans l’eau—ce n’est jamais arrivé. Je n’ai jamais eu la chance d’y aller.

Ça nous emporte à la discussion qu’on a aujourd’hui sur le problème des régulations qui sont mises en place sans savoir, à travers de la bureaucratie qui s’est développée pendant plusieurs années, ce que la main droite fait envers la main gauche.

I just highlighted some of the issues that the member from Nickel Belt brought from her area. There is a lot of burdensome bureaucracy out there. I can give you an example from my riding. In the community of White River, there’s a new sawmill—well, not a new sawmill; it’s a sawmill that had been idle for about seven years. A gentleman came in and invested a lot of his time and a lot of his own personal money to get that mill up and running. Just the bureaucracy to get that mill up and running—we’re talking about Ontario being open for business, and it takes over seven weeks to have the hydro switch turned on. This is someone who was putting millions of dollars into a community, bringing in over 200 to 300 jobs, and you have to wait seven weeks, and we’re saying we’re open for business?

This is something that is a step in the right direction. It is a small step. But what we really need to do if we’re going to be removing regulations is we need to find out why they were there in the first place. By removing them, are we making sure that we’re actually going to benefit those who are looking to open businesses here in Ontario?

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mr. Monte Kwinter: Our government has a vision for economic growth which is focused on investing in people, building modern infrastructure and supporting a dynamic and innovative business climate. We’ve made great strides in overcoming the challenges posed by a constantly changing global economic system. The Better Business Climate Act, if passed, would build on those efforts. It would place new accountability measures on government to reduce unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens. Modernizing administrative and compliance processes could save Ontario businesses millions of dollars while still protecting the public interest.

This legislation will make sure that reducing burden stays a government priority by mandating that the minister publish a report every year outlining what the government is doing to save businesses time and money. This reporting commitment is an important part of Ontario’s new burden reduction strategy, which will aim to save businesses and other stakeholders over $100 million by 2016-17.

The Better Business Climate Act, if passed, would also help us spur the growth of regional economic clusters and would help our government enhance partnerships with business, academia, labour, non-profits and other shareholders to accelerate regional economic development. It would put in place the tools the government needs to work in partnership with stakeholders to identify key policies to support cluster growth.


Mr. Speaker, whether we are saving businesses time and money or strengthening regional economic clusters, our government is proving that Ontario is strongest when everyone works together. By focusing on collaboration and partnership, by working together with industry leaders, municipalities, researchers, economic institutions, economic development associations and all of our stakeholders, we are creating a stronger economic climate that supports businesses, spurs innovation and provides good jobs for our citizens.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member from Nickel Belt, you have two minutes for a response.

Mme France Gélinas: I wasn’t sure if there was one more going on.

First, I’d like to thank the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment for being here while we talk about the bill. It is greatly appreciated. It does show respect, and I’m really happy that you shared with me information on some of the questions that I had. It is helpful in clarifying what the bill is trying to do, specifically with clusters, where the role of government—he defined it as a “convening” role. Frankly, I would have no problem with that.

To the member from Durham: Yes, the NDP does support business. We realize that in order for people to have jobs, you have to have businesses. It has always been there. It is not only the Tories who think that people work for different businesses. As I said, my son, my eldest, works in the mining cluster service industry. They are wonderful places to work. The member from Sudbury-Manitoulin—no.

Interjection: Algoma.

Mme France Gélinas: Algoma–Manitoulin—sorry about that. The member from Algoma–Manitoulin has seen, like thousands of other people, what red tape does. What red does: A beautiful waterpark in Chelmsford, with all of the amenities that every kid would dream of in the summer, sits there, not allowed to open. This is what red tape does. If you ever want to convince people that we need to attack red tape, bring them to Chelmsford, at the corner of Highway 144 and the northwest bypass, and everybody will be convinced this is a real shame.

To the member from York Centre—a good overview of the bill. The bill has two parts; some of them are conflicted.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Rob Leone: It’s always a pleasure to rise on behalf of my constituents in Cambridge and North Dumfries township.

Before I begin, I just wanted to, for the first time, publicly express my condolences to the member for Whitby–Oshawa on the passing of Jim Flaherty, her husband. I think all members of the Legislature who took part in the celebrations yesterday truly appreciated the extent of one great human being, one compassionate Conservative. We will surely miss him on this side of the House.

I remark about this, Mr. Speaker, because it’s just an opportunity for all of us to share in public service and the opportunities that we have. I had the opportunity of sitting among many of my colleagues in the Liberal Party, in the Liberal caucus, yesterday, and heard some great stories. I didn’t know, for example, that the Minister of Transportation is actually Kim Campbell’s—the former Prime Minister’s—cousin. I didn’t know that. But it was a very fascinating story to hear the heritage of that.

We sat with the Minister of Rural Affairs and the Minister of Health. All of them were very interested in hearing about the redevelopment of the Albany Club in Toronto. We had some good times talking about that.

I also learned that the place to be in Peterborough is the East City café—I hope I got that right—where the Minister of Rural Affairs said that you have to go and have the western sandwich and then you’ll know everything about Peterborough for $6—$7 with a tip, he says. At one point in the future, I’m sure I’m going to have to visit to make sure that he’s actually right.

I want to, first of all, make several comments to this bill. I know that the minister, who is here—and I appreciate the fact that he is listening to debate today—has been going across the province to talk about economic development, trade and employment, which is his critic portfolio. He came to Cambridge as well, to do a round table with our local chamber of commerce. He must be hearing exactly what we’re hearing on this side of the House. We obviously take the opportunity to visit and consult with businesses, particularly in the pre-budget season, to get a sense of where people are headed and where their minds are at when we talk about trying to improve the business climate. Certainly, one of the things that pops up time and time again is the reduction of red tape. This is something that has been long identified by our party, and certainly through the last election in 2011 we made a number of commitments to reduce red tape. We want to actually reduce red tape by a third. We want to set a target and try to achieve that target.

Simply acknowledging that red tape is a problem I think belies the underlying concerns that businesses have. For example, one of the things that we continually hear is that it’s just not the red tape that is plaguing our businesses in the province of Ontario; it’s the entire business climate—a business climate that is burdened by red tape. What red tape actually does to business is something that we have to focus on. We talk to those businesses. They say, “Yes, reduce red tape.” But what they say is that the whole culture of government today is to put hurdle after hurdle after hurdle in front of a business in order for them to succeed and create jobs. Whether it’s a visit by a labour inspector or an environmental assessment that they have to do or, as the member for Algoma–Manitoulin had suggested, it’s about hydro problems and hydro policies—at every given step, at every given stage, these businesses are being burdened by red tape. It’s costing them time and it’s costing them money.

Later on today, I believe I’ll be joined by Robert Haas of Cambridge. He’s going to bring his son to learn a little bit more about our democracy here at Queen’s Park. Robert used to be the owner of a print shop in my riding. I met with him a couple of years ago, and he sat me down and basically said, “Look, Rob, every time I have someone visit me, every time I have an inspector or a civil servant come to visit me, it ends up costing me days of my time which I don’t have, and the more time I’m spending on filling in reports and rectifying concerns, the less time I’m actually selling product and making a living.” He says that every time somebody comes, it’s not only a cost in the time that it takes that he has to deal with these issues, but the money—thousands of dollars at every turn, whether it’s a new guard that’s put on a machine or it’s an assessment that they have to do—because in the printing business obviously you have chemicals that you’re dealing with, and the regulations about where you put these sorts of things do impact the way businesses are able to thrive and succeed.

I’m sad to report that his print shop in Cambridge no longer exists. He no longer employs people. He’s out of business. This was a business owner who, time and again, would put his employees’ interests ahead of his own. He could probably translate and transmit to talk to you about how many times he avoided taking a paycheque for himself in order to make sure that his employees were actually making money. Red tape was often a source of frustration for him, because it’s not like he had the capital to be able to pay, out of the blue, a $10,000 repair job, which requires engineering and parts that probably cost in the hundreds of dollars; once you get consultants involved and once you get the proper certifications, it ends up costing thousands, if not tens of thousands. These businesses that don’t have that capacity to pay those things—often these business owners are not taking an income themselves. This contributes to the malaise that we see in businesses. Finally the burden was too tough and he had to close shop, and that cost jobs in my riding.

I want to pick up where—I realize that the member for Algoma–Manitoulin had two minutes for questions and comments, but he was talking about hydro. There are a couple of things that I want to talk about with respect to hydro, red tape and regulations.


First of all, I have a few businesses that have come to see me in my riding that are talking about the fact that they have to pay a deposit that’s the equivalent of three months of projected hydro use. What happens is that this business owner who recently came to me, probably within the last six months, came to me and said, “This business is in receivership. I’m buying it. I want to turn it around. But our hydro distributor, our local hydro utility, wants to have three months of projected hydro use.”

If they looked at the projected hydro use over the previous year before he purchased the business, it would actually be zero, because there was no business that was running. But that’s not what they calculate. They actually calculate the projected hydro use if the factory, the manufacturing facility, was at full capacity.

So this gentleman, who wants to employ people in my riding with his investment group, wants to come in and start a business, has to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars in projected hydro use, and this is a deposit. It’s not like the deposit is ever going to be used. It’s going to sit with this local hydro utility forever, until the business decides it can no longer operate.

We’re just sucking money out of entrepreneurs who want to actually create jobs in the province of Ontario. If you want to talk about red tape reduction, we have to look at these items. We have to be behind business, not standing in front of them.

This gentleman would say, “I’m okay if they want to make sure that I have good credit,” which he does; he owns other businesses, so he can demonstrate that. “And I’m okay with actually putting the deposit in. But I’d like to get that deposit back at some point. I’d like to use that money to create jobs,” at his facility in my riding.

It’s the business climate that is so vital and so important to nurturing; it’s not simply a commitment to reduce red tape, but it’s also about creating that climate that says, “We want you here, to make your investment, to create jobs in the province of Ontario.” Without that ethos, without that mentality, the business climate in Ontario will suffer. We have to do a serious job of addressing that concern, and I’m not sure this particular piece of legislation quite gets us there. I appreciate the fact that the government finally has understood that red tape is an issue, but we have other concerns that certainly have to be made as well.

Sticking to hydro, Mr. Speaker, I have a company in my riding called Integrated Packaging Films. It is a company that recycles plastics. I recently visited this company, probably within the last three months. Every time I go there, I get their hydro bill. This company employs less than 30 people. The wages, roughly, of the workers in that facility are between $30,000 and $40,000. And do you know what? They have used $12,000 in hydro. Their global adjustment alone: $30,557.76.

As this company would suggest, this is the average wage of what employees at Integrated Packaging Films earn in a year. In 12 months, that’s 12 people’s salaries going to this massive bill, this massive part of our hydro bill which is the global adjustment. Then if you factor in the $7,000—almost $8,000—in delivery, and you factor in the regulatory charges of $2,000 plus, and a debt retirement charge of almost $3,000, the $12,000 of hydro use turns out to be a bill before taxes of $55,000 and, after taxes, of $62,000. Mr. Speaker, this is just a one-month hydro bill for a company that employs just 20 people.

If we’re clearly interested in trying to help businesses succeed and create jobs, we actually have to look at these issues. It’s not simply enough to make a commitment to reduce red tape. We have to change the climate. We have to make Ontario open for business again, and I don’t see that coming from this particular government.

We have, in the past, committed to reducing red tape. We’ve suggested that we have to have a target of one third. We want to make a minister responsible for that red tape reduction and tie the pay to the performance of that minister responsible for reducing red tape. That is, Mr. Speaker, some accountability. We would put the Deputy Premier in charge of that specific red tape reduction.

We want to give an assurance to the business community that we want Ontario to be open for business. We don’t want business after business going to other jurisdictions, whether it’s in Canada, to our neighbouring Great Lake states, or south in the United States; we want to make sure that we have that climate here and that Ontario is open for business. We want to make sure that the investments that Canadians want to make in business aren’t being done abroad, but are being done right here.

Since this piece of legislation does talk about two separate schedules, I do want to take some time—because the first schedule is talking about the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, so we actually have to report on the reduction of red tape, which, in itself, is interesting because by virtue of having a report you actually are creating red tape. I know the member for Durham, in his two minutes, actually stated that; that we are, in a sense, creating red tape by trying to reduce red tape, which is, in itself, very interesting.

The second part of this bill talks about something completely different, which is the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, which is in schedule 2 of Bill 176, An Act to enact the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 and the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014.

Mr. Speaker, I want to just take the bill—if we actually took some time to read the legislation—and point you to a few things that I’m pretty concerned about. As I just stated, the reality of it is, any time you actually have a planning and reporting mechanism and you are having to feed that plan and that reporting with information, in the process of doing that planning and reporting and feeding of information, you actually are creating more paperwork and more red tape.

If you look at the contents of the plan, this schedule talks about economic clusters—and I will say that I’m a big fan of economic clusters. I think they have shown to work in various parts of the province, and particularly in my region down the road in Kitchener where a very successful cluster has developed and emerged. But it has developed and emerged not because of anything the government has done. Certainly, it has assisted in that, but by creating these plans and burdening that whole process with red tape, you are actually creating it.

So section 3 of schedule 2: “A plan with respect to the development of a cluster shall include the following:

“1. A description of the cluster.

“2. An assessment of challenges and opportunities with respect to the development of the cluster.” So we have to create that information, and that information is going to come from the partners who are going to be doing and taking part in the cluster. Hopefully, that includes a mix of the municipalities, post-secondary institutions and businesses that are going to create that, but they have to feed that with information.

“3. The objectives and intended outcomes of the plan.”

And then we go into: “4. Performance measures to evaluate whether the objectives and intended outcomes of the plan are being achieved.

“5. A description of actions that could be taken by the minister, or the businesses or other entities that form the cluster, to assist in the achievement of the objectives and intended outcomes of the plan.”

And, “6. Such additional items as may be prescribed by the regulations.”

So, Mr. Speaker, it’s fine that we engage in a process like this, but now we are saying, “A description of actions that could be taken by ... businesses or other entities” in order to achieve the objectives of the cluster. What does that mean? It means that businesses are going to be dictated what they have to do. Maybe it’s reporting that they have to do, or maybe it’s an altering of their business plans or processes. This is being driven not organically by those businesses and by the clusters, but by a prescription of government regulation that I think could very well cripple the clusters and the economic development opportunities that these clusters could create.


I realize the minister is saying that somebody is asking for this, but the point remains here that in schedule 1, we’re talking about the reduction of red tape, and in schedule 2, we’re talking about adding more red tape to the business climate and business environment. They can say people are asking for that, but the businesses that I talk to don’t want more red tape. They don’t want more regulation; they want less. They want government to partner with them and not stand in their way. That is, in essence, where we differ.

I think that there are important clusters that can develop, but at the end of the day, when we have a bill that purports to reduce red tape, we are at the very same time adding to that burden. For us, what we want to see is an overall reduction of that burden. That is the point that I don’t think the members of the government who were trying to engage in a discussion with me—but I will continue to go through the Chair—about what we are supposed to do with this legislation. Again, I have concern when we are trying to tell businesses what to do. By doing that, we’re adding to their burden. Any time you do that, you’re adding to that burden. Schedule 2 of this piece of legislation is doing exactly that.

There are great ideas that are happening right across the province of Ontario to develop these clusters. They’re doing it organically. They’re making partnerships where partnerships are going to prosper. We have to make sure that we are acting, as legislators, trying to add purposeful debate to what we are talking about, which is the overall business climate of Ontario, that we’re not adding to that burden and that we are taking steps, at every step of the way, to reduce it.

Overall, we have a piece of legislation that has at least an acknowledgment that red tape is a continuing issue in the province of Ontario. I’m happy to see that we’re actually debating this. What I’m disappointed in seeing is that, at the same time as trying to fix the problem of red tape, burden and regulation, we are actually adding to that burden. That’s where I see the disconnect in this particular piece of legislation: that schedule 1 is not necessarily consistent with what’s happening in schedule 2.

So I think we have to be careful when we’re talking about this legislation. I will continue to debate. I will listen with interest to the debate this morning about how we can improve the business climate of the province in Ontario. I think a lot has to be done in order to achieve our objectives, which are to have Ontario businesses grow and prosper and create jobs in this great province.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mr. John Vanthof: It’s always an honour to be able to stand in this house and, today, to be able to follow the comments of the member from Cambridge. Although we do disagree profoundly on some issues, on this bill he has raised some very good issues. One is the hurdles that government red tape causes businesses. We have some questions on whether this bill is going to solve it.

He brought up another issue that has to be brought forward. It’s not only the hurdles; it’s the culture of government. I will give you an example. I’m looking forward to having 10 or 20 minutes to speak on this further, but in my few minutes—we have several mines in my riding. One of their big shovels, their big backhoe, broke. They needed another shovel. Seemed simple enough. It had to be transported 300 miles. Seemed simple enough. They needed an oversize permit. Seemed simple enough.

Three weeks for an oversize permit: That’s what they were told. So we had to go and chase it. There’s the problem. The business owner called me. He said, “John, I’ve got a great idea for you guys. I’ll make you some money. Create an expedited oversize-permit service; charge $500 for same-day service. It will be cheap for me.” But that shouldn’t have to be. There’s nothing against getting oversize permits, but why does it have to be three weeks? Why?

Things like that: That’s what drives business people crazy. And I’m not sure that this bill is meant to address that, but someone has to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: I’m very pleased to rise and speak to the Better Business Climate Act this morning. Ontario’s new burden reduction strategy will save businesses and stakeholders over $100 million by 2016-17, which is fantastic.

I’m enjoying listening to the debate, but I do want to clarify and respond to something the member from Cambridge said, which is that Ontario is not competitive. In fact, Ontario has one of the most competitive climates for business in the world. That’s something we should all be very proud of.

As the Minister of Consumer Services, it’s very important to us at our ministry that we continue to do the work we do to strike a balance between protecting consumers and the public—whether it’s safety issues—and the impact on businesses, whether that’s direct or indirect. We work very hard to strike that balance and to ensure that businesses are not overly regulated.

My ministry is a high-regulation ministry, but we do keep in mind the impact of our programs and services on business. Whether it’s the Technical Standards and Safety Authority; TICO, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario; the Electrical Safety Authority; work we are doing on the Condominium Act; other things we’ve done on debt settlement companies, door-to-door sales, real estate transactions, much of our work is very mindful of the impact on business.

Many of our delegated authorities that fall under the auspices of my ministry already have or are moving to a risk-based assessment for inspections and reporting requirements. So I think our work at the Ministry of Consumer Services addresses the spirit and intent of what’s before us here. And as I said, Ontario is one of the most competitive areas for business in the world, and we should be very proud of that.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mrs. Julia Munro: I’m pleased to offer a couple of comments on Bill 176. As we all know, this is a fairly short bill, but one that has a potentially huge impact. One of the things that I think is missing in this conversation is how this affects small business. I say that because of my experience through my own constituents. It seems to me that there’s an inverse ratio between the number of rules and regulations and the number of employees, and so very often an individual, who is a single proprietor or has three or four employees finds themselves tied up in incredible red tape.

I’ll give you two examples where even ministries can’t decide on the rules. In one instance, I have a constituent whose level of chlorine must meet the Ministry of Health standards and at the same time that contradicts the Ministry of the Environment restrictions. I have another one: a paint booth, obviously one that requires a great deal of regulation to make sure that it’s safe and all precautions are taken. We understand that, and so does the owner of the paint booth, but the Ministry of Labour and Ministry of the Environment couldn’t decide, or at least contradict each other, in the way that the door is hung. It’s those kinds of things that simply drive small businesses crazy: the fact that ministries themselves can’t agree on what they should be suggesting to the public; just one example of how bad it is.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Algoma–Manitoulin.

Mr. Michael Mantha: I want to try and touch on two issues from Algoma–Manitoulin on this. A small group—a contractor trucking business; what they do is they fill all the sand pits. They do some crushing for the province, as well as privately. They’re called Gilbertson trucking. They’re on St. Joseph Island.


Every year they go through this permitting process in regard to moving their equipment from site to site. In some instances, they can get a project permit. Their equipment doesn’t change. It’s the same loader; the same truck; the same equipment; the same ramp; the same, same, same. But every time, they have to go through a process of applying through the red tape and the bureaucracy.

A little while ago, all the permitting was done out of the Soo, which was a 24-hour permit most of the time. Then that shut down and got shifted over to North Bay. Then it went up from 24 hours to 72 hours, costing jobs. We’re not talking about a lot of jobs here, but for us in northern Ontario, 15 jobs is a lot of jobs.

They’d have to go through that process of applying for it, and then it went into a week by getting this permit. Then it moved from North Bay to St. Catharines, and the delays have come up again. So the impact that it’s having on small business is huge.

When I was first elected, there was another company, NRE—Northern Reliable Energy—out of Chapleau. Being a little eager beaver, a newly elected member, I talked to this gentlemen. He was telling me about the bureaucracy he was going through over the years of meeting with the MOE, the OPA, energy, and so on and so forth. We went through the process of doing it again. You know what? I got caught up in the whole bureaucracy along with him. So we did it twice. He has done it four times. We’ve done it a fifth time. We had a meeting this week on Tuesday, so we’re starting the cycle again of this bureaucracy. These jobs that are potentially available for the community of Chapleau—we’re talking about 120 jobs. That’s the impact of what bureaucracy causes.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Cambridge, you have two minutes.

Mr. Rob Leone: I want to thank the members for Timiskaming–Cochrane, York–Simcoe, Algoma–Manitoulin and the Minister of Consumer Services. My NDP colleagues from Algoma–Manitoulin and Timiskaming–Cochrane struck a chord with me with their discussions on the oversized permit, because, in Cambridge, we are a transportation superpower.

Mr. Bill Walker: A cluster.

Mr. Rob Leone: A cluster, even; that’s true.

We have a lot of transportation companies in my riding. We are situated in southern Ontario within close proximity to the rest of North America. This oversized permit issue is one that, actually, I hear about, too. The remarkable thing is that if you actually look at other jurisdictions, they do this far better than we do in Ontario. When I hear the Minister of Consumer Services talk about a competitive business climate in the province of Ontario, I have to ask questions about: Have you looked abroad about these oversized permits and what they’re doing in other states and other provinces to get these permits right away? I wonder that.

I also wonder if people on the other side were actually listening to my remarks, because if you think that having a $30,000-a-month global adjustment is encouraging a very competitive business climate, I would have serious reservations about the ability of that particular party to manage the economy in the province of Ontario.

These ideas—there are just two of them, Mr. Speaker, that we’ve expressed in these two minutes—are crippling the economy; are not encouraging economic growth. These are the kinds of things that we have to work through.

I’m encouraged to hear my colleagues to my left talk—both literally and figuratively—about these issues, because they are important to the people of the province of Ontario. We have to make sure that we’re not waiting three weeks or four weeks just to have someone go to work the next day, Mr. Speaker. That’s what is particularly troubling about what I’m hearing today from the government.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the time.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. John O’Toole: I’m very pleased to have an opportunity this morning to add some value to the debate on Bill 176. For the viewer, I’d like to—through you, Mr. Speaker. This is An Act to enact the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 and the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014—a very well-sounded, well-intended title of the bill. Let’s have a look at it here this morning.

We’ve had a very good debate. The member from Nickel Belt spoke. I thought she raised some very good points with respect to a particular red tape issue in her riding, and gave voice to that, as well as our member who just spoke, Mr. Leone, the member from Cambridge. He also gave a tribute to concerns in his riding. I think every single MPP in this House would like to give voice to concerns in their ridings.

Just on a specific to Bill 176, it does have two parts, and one is self-explanatory. It’s burden reduction reporting. So there’s a requirement now, which is in itself red tape, to report on the reduction of red tape, the burden. Then you go into defining what a burden is. This is important to understand, because we’re going to have to report this. Companies are going to have to sit down and figure out what the burden is in their departments. I’m going to read the definition. It says that a burden is defined as a cost that is measured by money, time and resources and considered unnecessary—that’s important; that’s the burden part, that it’s unnecessary—to achieve the purpose that was created in the first place and report on how many necessary regulations surround that reporting. So it sounds to me like this bill is the enactment or formalization of red tape itself.

Let’s say that you’re running a little mom-and-pop shop, a dry cleaners or whatever, and you’ve got to report on all these things, whether it’s the chemicals you use or don’t use, and how much. Actually, they’re probably going to have to hire somebody to fill out this report every month. Now, there are more important things here, Mr. Speaker. There’s a million people out of work in this province. Do you understand?

I want to keep on track. The second part of the bill—it’s a very small bill. Actually, respectfully, the minister was here earlier this morning. This second part of the bill is even more interesting. What that part of the bill does—and I’ll just read it here from the explanatory notes. It enacts a Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act. If they only had a plan for jobs. What they have in Ontario right now is a plan that everybody is going to work for the government. I’m pretty sure you’re either going to be a policeman, a fireman, a nurse, a teacher, a doctor. Wait a minute—everybody can’t work for the government.

I want a report. I would support this bill on the condition that they have a report every month on the actual jobs they’ve created or at least worked in partnership with business—to not put them out of business because of the price of electricity, the high cost of regulation and red tape. That’s what we hear from the CFIB—the Canadian Federation of Independent Business—relentlessly, every month. These are small businesses that mortgage their house to rent a shop, to set up a restaurant or to set up selling paint, cutting hair or whatever they’re doing. They are buying their own jobs. We should be supporting those families.

Now, I’m going to break away for a minute. Last week, I had to go and get my hair cut, in preparation for Easter probably. I went in to see my barber, Dave Bryant, and his daughter, and they were telling me—I’m not making this up—they were talking about the College of Trades. The guy has been barbering for 30 years. He does a wonderful job, I’m sure you’d all agree, and I see Mr. Arnott has had his hair cut here this morning, but I wonder if they’re down inspecting that barber downstairs.

Now, that’s red tape. They’ve got this inspector parked outside in the car, the white car with a trillium on it, a company car—you taxpayers are paying for it—he’s wearing a suit—

Interjection: A brand new car.

Mr. John O’Toole: Yes, a brand new car. He went and had it washed first thing in the morning. That cost another $5 or $10. Where’s that money coming from? The taxpayers of Ontario.

He’s not creating a job—no, no, no; he’s going to kill a job. He walks in to Dave Bryant’s and says, “Where is your certificate with a seal on it?” The guy has been cutting hair for 30 years. That’s red tape. My one suggestion this morning is, eliminate the College of Trades. That’s just one example.

Now, part B of this says—partnerships—what it does is, it goes on to talk about “prepare plans with respect to the development of clusters.” Now, that’s a very fancy term: “cluster.” A cluster would be determined to be industries with related functions and/or support or ancillary services. That’s kind of what it would be.

Let’s see. I worked for the auto sector for 31 years, and in that sector in Oshawa—my colleague Jerry Ouellette, representing Oshawa for almost 19 years and before that; an excellent member, a tremendous member. In fact, he got elected in that riding because he represents the working person, as do I. My riding has more farmers than auto workers.


I would say, though, that the story here is that the cluster idea is a good idea. We have working clusters in Ontario, and I will be respectful of that: Kitchener–Waterloo with the centre for excellence there, the University of Waterloo and Laurier—very good; Oshawa, and our region, Durham. My riding is called Durham but it really includes Uxbridge, Scugog and Clarington. Uxbridge is very highly mobile; they all work in Toronto and have good jobs, I’m sure—a lot of agriculture there, too.

But the cluster in Durham was all focused around the most important single investment in the history of Durham region, made by, respectfully, Jim Flaherty. Jim Flaherty created the environment for the government to work with the other partners to create the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. That has provided the human infrastructure of knowledge and skills, along with Durham College, to train young people in the skills, whether it’s trades or academic problem-solving, to invest in adding value to materials, like taking steel, glass and rubber and making it into a car. These engineering and technical support skills are all as a result.

Now, what’s our specialty in Durham? We’re the centre of energy for the entire country. We have the two largest nuclear plants: Pickering, as well as Darlington nuclear plants. Those are highly technical, high-paying jobs, and I suspect that the university and college play a very important role in creating jobs.

That’s what I should see in this bill. If you’re talking back to the cluster thing, I would want you to recognize the UOIT as a centre of excellence for energy, and the college, as well, for trades.

Now, if you get into the whole issue of clusters, when you look around Ontario, one of the most important areas for the future, certainly for sustainability—and I define sustainability as enough for everyone forever. That’s the real definition of sustainability: enough for everyone forever. What are the most important things so that we have enough for everyone forever in sustainability, in the economy and in the universe that we share? Food and water.

Food and food production is a highly technical area. It’s very capital-intensive. You have to have a land base; you have to have very sophisticated equipment—tractors and GPS and all of these things; then you need a quota of some sort, generally. If it’s livestock, you’d definitely need a quota; otherwise, you have issues on seeds that you either own the right to plant or not.

The issue here is that just recently they’ve closed two colleges dealing with agriculture in eastern Ontario, so what they are doing in action doesn’t support the goals. I look at this bill trying to create clusters. Eastern Ontario is almost entirely dependent on a kind of fragile, rural economy. What have they done? They’ve taken the two colleges and threatened to close them, and there are students who would learn practical skills to advance the value in agriculture, whether it’s on the livestock side or on the field crop side. That’s important for Ontario, it’s important for eastern Ontario and it is important for Canada. Those are just a couple of comments with respect to the clusters.

Another example of a failure—and I don’t blame entirely the Premier or even the minister, for that matter. We have the Ring of Fire; it has the most potential of any area in Canada, next to the tar sands or the oil resources in Alberta. The largest single investor—they’ve been monkeying around up there for four or five years. There are no roads in there; you can’t get in there. There needs to be an investment to create jobs. They’ve got these economic development funds for eastern Ontario and southern Ontario—mostly political stuff, really. They fire in a couple hundred thousand dollars and claim that they’ve created all of these jobs; I’m not sure they have or not. But this cluster in northern Ontario would be a good example.

The Ring of Fire has the highest-value resources. It’s already been discovered and defined and kind of outlined what the value of this thing is: billions of dollars. There will be highly technical jobs, high-paid jobs, and they should be focusing on putting in place the infrastructure instead of wasting a billion-plus on gas plants and needless other waste that I don’t even want to talk about—these investigations going on, on the role that the Premier did or didn’t have, and lawyers and all this stuff—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Seeing the time on the clock, this House stands recessed until 10:30.

The House recessed from 1015 to 1030.


Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’m pleased to welcome some family who are here in attendance: my cousin-in-law and uncle-in-law, Adrian LeCoyte, who lives in Pickering, and his father, David LeCoyte, who is here from Swindon, England, and who’s visiting Canada. I welcome them.

Mr. John Fraser: I’d like to introduce a very good friend, a long-time friend of mine, Colonel Robert O’Brien, who’s here with his family. He’s the grandfather of page Isabella.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I’m delighted to welcome to the public gallery the mother and father of our fabulous page, Eli Park—I saw them walk in: Joanne Oxley and John Park.

Ms. Sarah Campbell: I would like to introduce the parents of my page, Mira Donaldson—her parents are Kelly Spicer and Guy Donaldson—as well as their family friends Wendell Spicer and Bunny Spicer.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I want to welcome the family of page Caroline Falkner. Her mother, Julia Martin, is here in the House. Her father, Matt Falkner, is visiting for the first time. Other members of the family have been here before. Amy Falkner was a page in the previous rotation, I believe; so, Amy, welcome back to Queen’s Park. Brothers Benjamin Falkner and Christopher Falkner and cousin Kathy Lacroix are in the House. I welcome them to Queen’s Park.

Mr. John Yakabuski: On behalf of page Kathryn Nicol, I’d like to introduce, in the galleries today, her mother—is it McRver?—Janet McRver; her father, Jason Nicol; and her brother, Liam Nicol. They’re joining us in the gallery today.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Welcome.

Mr. John Vanthof: I would like to welcome Karen Laffrenier, the mother of our great page Callista, on Callista’s last day here.

Hon. Ted McMeekin: Isabella O’Brien, who’s the page from my riding, is joined today by her mother, Angela Ceccato; her father, Robert O’Brien; her uncle, Ivan Ceccato; her grandmother, Gerri O’Brien; and her grandfather, Bert O’Brien. They’re in the members’ galley, with almost enough of them together to have Thanksgiving dinner right here.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I know that all members will join me in thanking and giving them our wonderful reception of how great the pages have been. This is their last day.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank all members for their reception of these wonderful pages. I have told them that during this week they have been the best pages of that week that I’ve ever seen.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): A point of order from the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for an opportunity to correct my record. My eyes were not deceiving me: The spelling was incorrect on my sheet, and I want to correct my record. Page Kathryn Nicol is joined by, of course, as I said, her father, Jason Nicol; her brother, Liam Nicol; and her mother, Janet McRuer. Welcome.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member does have a point of order. It’s always in order for a member to correct their record.


Ms. Laurie Scott: Megan Barkey has been my page from Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock for the last five weeks. Her mother, Angelie; father, David; and sister, Madeline, are here again today in the public gallery somewhere. Welcome. There you are, behind me.

Mr. Rob Leone: My guests have not yet arrived, but I’d like to welcome Michael and Robert Haas. Robert is bringing his son Michael to learn a bit more about our democracy here in Ontario.



Ms. Lisa MacLeod: To the Acting Premier: I rise today, obviously, on the news of an increase to the hydro rates here in the province of Ontario yet again making it more unaffordable, which brings me to my next point. As the minister responsible for energy cavalierly suggests that the cancelled gas plants are a mere cup of coffee a year, I find that profound sense of entitlement has expanded into the rest of the government.

After rereading the Premier’s answers from question period yesterday, I am left with far more questions. In fact, the closer the questions probed into what the Premier knew about the deleted hard drives and when she knew it, she decided to wave off to the government House leader.

Specifically, it is unclear to us why the Premier does not want to detail conversations that the chair of transition, Monique Smith, had either with her or with David Livingston.

Will the Premier offer her co-operation today and ensure the former McGuinty government House leader, chair of her transition team and envoy to Washington, Monique Smith, will return to this—

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

Deputy Premier?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: The Premier has been extremely co-operative when it comes to the issue of the gas plants. I can tell you as House leader that it was the new Premier who directed me to work with the opposition to establish the justice committee with a broad mandate. It can, as members know, meet at the call of the Chair, meaning it has absolute freedom when to meet. And like any committee of this Legislature, it can call forward witnesses. There’s a process in place to schedule them, and they have certain powers and authorities if people do not want to be forthcoming.

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member that in terms of this government, the Minister of Energy has been there several times, I’ve been in front of the committee, other ministers have been, and most importantly, the Premier has been twice in front of the committee.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I asked the Acting Premier if Monique Smith would appear before our committee and if she would recall her from Washington. I did not hear an answer. But I did hear the government House leader tell us that they have expanded the role of the committee.

Right now, the committee is trying to do its work and government members are filibustering. Therefore, after my leads, I will have to go back down to that committee, because they refuse to allow us to sit next week. That’s what is going on in their committee.

Yesterday, Peter Wallace said, “I indicated that for the successful Premier, there would be a series of challenges, and these challenges were already ... known.”

A little later he said, “With reference to the gas plants, we would distinguish and we would talk to them about the records of which the Ontario public service was particularly concerned, which is the requests made by legislative committees.”

I ask the Acting Premier: When did Monique Smith tell the Premier about David Livingston’s plan to delete the hard drives so that these records would not be made available?


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

Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, the member needs to be very, very careful. There is an active OPP investigation. Coming in here and throwing as much mud as possible and seeing what sticks is not an advisable strategy.

We have co-operated fully with the committee. Members of the government who have been called have made themselves available. I am certain that Monique Smith, as an employee of this government, will make herself available and work with the committee to schedule an appearance.

But if the honourable member wants to talk about the committee, we are still waiting for the Conservative candidates to come before the committee. I’ll have to check my notes, but I believe one candidate has been asked 16 times to come forward, and refused. We have a number of questions for him about the Progressive Conservatives’ promise to cancel the gas plants in the last election.


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

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I would remind the government House leader: It is not the Progressive Conservative Party under OPP investigation; it is members of his party that are under an OPP investigation for deleted emails and the destruction of documents with respect to a $1.1-billion gas plant cancellation scandal that saved their finance minister’s seat and four other seats in a minority Parliament, that struck to the very heart of our democracy in this province.

If he wants to talk about co-operating in the justice committee, he should have his members who are filibustering as I speak in this place to stand down, allow us to sit next week and bring Monique Smith into—


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


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Halton will come to order. The member from Leeds–Grenville will come to order. I’m keeping track.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Minister of Energy, come to order.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’d like you to stop. Thank you.

Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: The honourable member has been here for many years. She still hasn’t learned that saying it louder doesn’t make it more true.

The fact of the matter was, it was her party that had robocalls in the last election saying, “The only way to get rid of the gas plants is to vote Progressive Conservative.” It was her party that was putting out tweets and press releases. And the pièce de résistance: It was her leader who went on YouTube to say that if he was elected Premier of this province, that gas plant—and he pointed to it, with a dramatic flourish—would be “done, done, done.”

Every party of this House made the same promise. All we want to hear from their candidates is: What was their costing and what was—

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


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek will come to order, along with everyone else.

New question.


Mr. Jeff Yurek: Bonne Pâques to everyone in the Legislature.

My question is for the Minister of Consumer Services. Minister, in six years now, my daughter will be learning how to drive. I can tell you, as for any parent, that will be a most frightening day. From the moment our kids are born, we all go to great lengths to ensure their health and safety, and the prospect of any child getting on the road for the first time, with all the dangers present, is a difficult reality for any parent to face. So many parents enrol their children in driver’s ed to help them prepare.

However, the Star revealed today that the transportation ministry won’t let the public know about unfit driving instructors who have had their licences revoked. Minister, since the Ministry of Transportation won’t, will you stand up and act to ensure the safety of our young drivers?

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: The Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

Hon. Michael Gravelle: Mr. Murray is not here. I’m actually pleased to try and respond to this question.

I think it’s important to note that the Minister of Transportation takes the issue very seriously. There obviously is an issue related to the privacy commissioner, and there is a process under way which cannot be circumvented; it is before the commissioner. It’s difficult to comment in a more substantial way. As we all do, we respect the people’s right to privacy as well as the public’s right to information.

A number of things are clear. A driving school must be licensed by the ministry in order to offer beginner driver education. It is the school’s responsibility to ensure that the instructors they employ are being properly licensed. There is very close monitoring of the schools, and changes are made as necessary to keep the schools in line with provincial standards. It’s important for consumers to make an informed choice.

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

Hon. Michael Gravelle: There is a list—thank you, Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jeff Yurek: This is typical of the government; you ask a question about transportation and protecting consumer rights, and we get the Minister of Northern Mines answering the question. My next question for the Minister of Health will probably go to the Minister of Natural Resources to get an answer. It’s ridiculous, this government.

Minister, our children are learning to drive. We put their safety in the hands of our driving instructors—


Mr. Jeff Yurek: Minister, you can heckle me, but why don’t you answer the question next time?

Minister, we expect our children to learn to drive from someone who is professional and licensed by the government. Therefore, every parent puts their trust in the Minister of Transportation to ensure that people teaching our young drivers adhere to standards of conduct and bad instructors are removed.

The Toronto Star, for over a year, has been trying to obtain the names of roughly 300 instructors who have lost their licences. These instructors have lost their licences for reasons ranging from sexist and obscene language with students to selling alcohol and contraband cigarettes. The ministry will not act to protect our people.

Minister, why can’t a parent find out which instructor has lost their licence because they visited a strip club during an in-car lesson?


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

Be seated, please. Thank you.


Hon. Michael Gravelle: Mr. Speaker, the member should understand that the issue is in front of the privacy commissioner. It’s certainly not appropriate for anybody to circumvent the process of the privacy commissioner. You would understand that, and obviously we need to respect that process.

The fact is, there is a list of approved drivers’ education schools, as well as those whose status has been revoked, that is posted on the MTO website. That is there for all to see. Choosing a school from that list is the safest way, I think it’s fair to say, to ensure that young drivers are being taught by approved schools and by licensed instructors.

This is an important issue, one that is taken seriously by the minister and, again, a process that’s in front of the privacy commissioner.

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

Mr. Jeff Yurek: Speaker, I don’t know why the minister herself could not read those notes to me and had to pass it off to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

Minister, I understand why your government isn’t transparent when it comes to the gas plants. You’re looking out for your own skin. However, we’re talking about the safety of our young drivers. At the very least, we expect the government to be open about that. In the world of the Internet, how is it possible there’s not an online ministry database where parents can find out if their child’s instructor is licensed or not?

It stuns me that this simple, common-sense approach eludes the ministry and this government.

Minister, does your ministry continue to fail our children?

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


Hon. Michael Gravelle: Again, this is an issue that I think everyone takes seriously, and there is a process under way with the privacy commissioner. Minister Murray, were he here, would very much want to affirm the fact that we monitor driver education schools very closely and make changes, as necessary, to keep those schools in line with provincial standards.

Consumers are in a position to make an informed choice. There is a list of approved drivers’ education schools, as well as those whose status has been revoked on the MTO website. Certainly, choosing a school from that list is the best way to ensure that young drivers are being taught by approved schools and licensed instructors.

Again, this is something that is under the purview and being looked at by the privacy commissioner.

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

As innocent as it was, and to be consistent, I would ask and remind all members that you do not reference anyone’s attendance in this House.

New question.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Acting Premier. Last summer, on the advice of Shawn Truax, the forensic coordinator for the province of Ontario, computers were seized from an off-site government office in Ottawa at 180 Elgin Street. When did the government learn of this?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Minister of Government Services.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I can speak only for myself, as Minister of Government Services. I learned of this particular incident, or the details of it, this morning from the justice committee hearings. At the same time, I think members are aware there have been some media reports about the OPP undertaking their investigation.

I would remind the member again that, as minister, I have made sure that I have stayed out of the OPP investigation, and I would advise her to do the same thing.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Well, Speaker, these were the government’s own experts who feared that a computer was being accessed and potentially wiped clean. So this is not the OPP that I’m asking about. I’m asking about the government’s own internal people. Surely the government’s own experts briefed the minister responsible. Can the minister confirm that a briefing happened, and when?

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, there is and there was an active OPP investigation. I have been very forthcoming that, last summer, I had a discussion with my then deputy minister. He has since retired from the public service. He said, “As you know, there’s an OPP investigation going on, and our ministry will be co-operating and doing some work with them. Do you wish to be brought up to speed? Do you wish to be briefed, what have you, on it?” I said, “Absolutely not. Myself and members of my staff want to stay out of the OPP investigation. It would be entirely inappropriate for me to know any of the details of that.”

But I did ask the deputy minister to make sure the ministry co-operated fully with the Ontario Provincial Police, as is appropriate.


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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Can the Acting Premier tell us whether any staff from the Premier’s office were using those computers in Ottawa?

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I kind of anticipate this Perry Mason route that she’s going down.

I know there was reference made to the member from Ottawa South today at committee. I would like to put on the record that the court document makes very clear that the ministry, in co-operating with the OPP, looked at a total of 52 hard drives, and, of those, they found that 24 of them had been accessed through these codes, which are, of course, the topic of this investigation. I can assure the leader of the third party that the member from Ottawa South, at that point, who was working in Ottawa for the Premier—his computer was not accessed using these codes.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is for the Acting Premier—but I can tell you that the mocking of the opposition in the job they’re trying to do to hold this government to account on a $1.1-billion scandal looks very bad on the government House leader; looks very bad.

Can the Acting Premier tell us who was accessing those computers in Ottawa?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: What looks really bad, Mr. Speaker, is a leader of a political party who seems to be counselling the government to interfere in an OPP investigation and seems disappointed that we decided not to interfere in an OPP investigation.

The fact of the matter—


Hon. John Milloy: The fact of the matter is that the OPP identified 24 computers that had been accessed. If the honourable member wants to consult the court document that was released, the list of the individuals who used those computers is right there. I understand that the committee was asked to confirm whether the member from Ottawa South’s computer was one that had been accessed, and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, I consulted with officials, and it was not.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Well, Speaker, I don’t know about you, but I think there’s a real duty that’s called “ministerial responsibility” for a minister to know what is happening within his own ministry. There’s a dereliction of duty when it come to this minister.

Can the Acting Premier tell us what sort of information might have been found on those computers in Ottawa?

Hon. John Milloy: Again, I think what looks bad is the leader of the third party, who is trying to conduct an OPP investigation here on the floor of the House.

What also looks bad is the leader of the NDP, who decides that playing these OPP games is more important than asking about health or about education or about transportation, or asking about the issues of the day.

The fact of the matter is that the court document is clear. There were a number of computers that were accessed through these codes, which are at the centre of the investigation. It even lists who they were. As to the details of the investigation, Mr. Speaker, I’m going to leave that to the Ontario Provincial Police, as is appropriate. I’m going to allow them to do their work, and I’m going to allow them to reach their own conclusions and not interfere, as the leader of the third party is suggesting I do.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, only the Liberals could be so arrogant and out of touch as to consider the work the opposition is doing as being a game. It is not a game; it is our responsibility to do this work—our responsibility—and we take it seriously.

This government’s story gets more remarkable by the day. They claim they don’t know anything about the investigation that their own staff are running. They claim they hardly even know Dalton McGuinty anymore, and the other Liberals that they worked with for a decade.

And, if we’re keeping track, they’re also so surprised that cancelling the gas plants is going to cost $1.1 billion, and I imagine they had no idea that Kathleen Wynne’s signature was going to be ending up on that final deal. The people stuck paying the higher and higher hydro bills in this province aren’t surprised at all.

When is this government going to start answering questions?

Hon. John Milloy: You know, maybe it’s time the leader of the New Democratic Party got a little bit off her high horse. The advice to not interfere in an OPP investigation is not coming from me. It is coming from the Ontario Provincial Police, the same Ontario Provincial Police who recently appeared in front of the justice committee and said that the type of interference we’re seeing here in this Legislature could in fact jeopardize the investigation.

The leader of the New Democratic Party cannot have it both ways. She cannot ask for the police to look into it and reach conclusions, and then come in here and interfere through inappropriate questions, by not dealing with the facts, and dealing with this issue the way she has. If anyone needs to apologize, Mr. Speaker, it’s the leader of the New Democratic Party.


Mr. Victor Fedeli: Good morning, Speaker. My question is for the finance minister. Yesterday, the Bank of Canada revised its growth outlook downward from 2.5% to 2.3%. It comes on the heels of a Fraser Institute report that concludes that Ontario is dragging down the rest of Canada’s economy.

We know our revenues are down and will continue to go down. We also know you have a $4.5-billion gap in the budget, the one that you kept secret from the financial community. Knowing all these shortfalls, your response is to go on a $5.7-billion spending spree, just like the BLT document we exposed said you would.

Minister, Ontarians have figured it out: Your math simply does not add up. When are you going to come clean and admit to this Legislature that you have no plan to save Ontario from the trouble you got us into?

Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, we’ve had a budget that we presented last year that illustrated we had exceeded our targets year over year. In fact, last year, we not only did that, but we became the lowest-cost government because of the efforts that we’ve taken in terms of austerity. We’ve been very disciplined and determined in doing so.

I just provided a report at the fall economic update, telling the world as to where we stand, relative to our numbers, and again, we’re on track to balance by 2017-18.

We then came forward with a long-term plan illustrating the very challenges before us, all the while recognizing that what we must do is invest in our future to ensure we have economic growth and greater prosperity.

The opposition members on the other side would rather we cut investments in health care and education, at the expense of the Ontario public, for their own personal gain. That is not what we’re going to do. It’s not about the fortunes of that political party. It’s the fortunes of Ontario that we’re most concerned about.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Victor Fedeli: We have already heard from the government’s Minister of Transportation that they will be cutting health and education, so we already know where those cuts are coming from—as well as seeing a flagrant disregard that this government has for taxpayers’ money, and of course, Minister, by that I mean the $1.1-billion gas plant scandal, spent to save your very seat—all this when Ontario’s per-person GDP is 5.6% lower than the rest of Canada.

We now have the third-lowest rate of private sector job creation in the country. Our annual growth in business investment is barely half of the rest of Canada’s. And your answer? You go on a spending spree while raising hydro rates and raising taxes.

All the experts tell us that if Ontario adopts smarter policies—that’s lower hydro rates and lower taxes—we could improve our economy.

Minister, will your budget reverse the disastrous path you’ve been leading us down?

Hon. Charles Sousa: Ontario has actually had 180% of jobs return to this province since the depths of the recession. We have taken steps necessary to grow our economy and create jobs.

Our budget coming forward on May 1 at 4 o’clock, in this very Legislature, will talk specifically about those measures, measures which the opposition fail to recognize. They fail to recognize that what we must do now is continue to invest in our economy, ensure that we have an open and dynamic business climate to attract those investments, because the companies, especially small businesses, are the job creators. We are talking about more opportunity for all Ontarians, and our government will continue to do just that.


Furthermore, as we grow and invest in our economy, contrary to what they would prefer on that side, which is to do across-the-board cuts and put in jeopardy that recovery, we will continue to stand behind those businesses and the Ontario public.


Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is to the Acting Premier. The Liberals have a long record of promising everything and delivering nothing. It’s happening again on transit for Kitchener-Waterloo. On March 18, the Liberals promised all-day, two-way GO service, but gave us no timeline. Then, they changed their mind and told us that GO express rail won’t serve Kitchener at all. Instead, the minister cooked up a new scheme to build high-speed rail in 10 years. And now, a senior vice-president with GO tells us that we are lucky to have just four trains a day.

Two-way, all-day GO? High-speed rail? Or just four trains for the people of Kitchener-Waterloo?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Minister of Transportation.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I’m very out of breath but very happy to be here.

We are moving right now on track acquisition, as the member knows—very advanced. We’re in the final stages. We will soon own 80% of the track to Kitchener-Waterloo. These have been very difficult negotiations. I’m very excited.

We are moving on two-way, all-day GO, in spite of the federal government cutting back Via at the same time that we’re increasing it. And we’re going to have high-speed rail to Kitchener, running at 320 kilometres—

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Not just Kitchener.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: London and Kitchener.

And we are, over the next decade, going to transform the transportation system in the province.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Perhaps the problem is that the minister doesn’t understand what two-way, all-day means. It means that 10,000 people who live in Toronto can get to Kitchener-Waterloo in the morning, because that’s where there are jobs. And then the people from Kitchener-Waterloo can actually get to Toronto all day long. Right now, there are four trains.

It’s clear the Liberals have lost their way. They’ll promise everything and deliver nothing, because they focus on keeping their own jobs rather than creating jobs for Ontarians. The cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph have been clear. They’re calling for full-day, two-way GO train service on the Kitchener line. Even the government admits all-day GO will create 33,000 jobs. But instead of working with our community to fund the local plan, the Liberals are busy promising everything else to distract from their own record of waste—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. The Minister of Education will come to order. The member from Eglinton–Lawrence will come to order.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): No. You’re not helping.

Wrap up, please.

Ms. Catherine Fife: There are 33,000 jobs at play, but instead of working with our community to fund the local plan, the Liberals are busy promising everything else to distract from their own record of waste, delay and mismanagement. Why are you refusing—

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

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I want to thank the member for the friendly question, and I want to ask her if she can take yes for an answer.

I’m going to be very clear. We are doing all-day, two-way GO. That’s already under way. We already have trains running that will be—


Hon. Glen R. Murray: Yes, it is happening. Expenditures have been made for years. They’re accelerating. I meet with Carl Zehr, Ken Seiling, Mayor Fontana and Mayor Farbridge. My friends John Milloy, Liz Sandals, Deb Matthews—we have been working with these community and business leaders for a year—not just consulting; working with them. They want high-speed rail. They’re getting four stations; access to Pearson Airport in under half an hour; about an hour and 10 minutes from London, downtown to Pearson—320-kilometre-an-hour trains, Canadian technology. We’re kicking butt. We’re getting it done.


Ms. Mitzie Hunter: My question is for the Minister of Labour. For many community groups and organizations, April 16 marks—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop. The member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek will come to order—second time—and the member from Trinity–Spadina.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Eglinton–Lawrence can just—I don’t need your help.

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Equal Pay Day is recognized in countries around the world, including the United States, Australia and member states of the European Union. Yesterday we became the first province in Canada to recognize this important reminder of the gender pay gap.

As you may know, this date was chosen by community groups to represent the amount of extra days per year, on average, that women must work annually to match the annual earnings of men.

Through you, Speaker, can the minister tell this House, and women in my riding and across Ontario, what your ministry is doing to improve the position of women in the workplace and to improve pay equity in the province?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thanks to the fine member from Scarborough–Guildwood for the great question. Our government recognizes the valuable contribution that women make in making a more equal, a more just and a more prosperous society right here in Ontario.

I know that in the supplementary, the minister responsible for women’s issues can speak more broadly to the investments that have been made to improve the status of women in Ontario. But let me say I’m very proud that my ministry is taking action to improve the status quo of all workers, including women, by proposing changes to labour legislation to help vulnerable workers and by increasing the minimum wage.

I would also like to commend our employees at the Pay Equity Office for the hard work they have undertaken in investigating, settling and resolving complaints related to the compensation of employees in what are traditionally female-dominated occupations.

There is always more to be done. That’s why we have asked the Pay Equity Office to hold a round table to discuss ways to address the gender wage gap, and I was really happy to be part of that discussion. I look forward to some excellent advice from them.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Thank you, Minister, for that answer. I know that our government has taken a very important step by increasing the minimum wage. With the majority of minimum wage earners being women, this increase has a direct impact.

I am also proud that we are helping women in the workplace by strengthening workplace protections. I know that the Pay Equity Office, as the minister said, is working very hard when it comes to advising employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities. However, even with all of these important initiatives, the gender wage gap still exists.

Through you, Speaker, will the minister share what our government is doing to address this wage disparity and ensure that women can participate fully in the economy?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: The minister responsible for women’s issues.

Hon. Teresa Piruzza: Thank you for allowing me the second part to the question, and thank you to the member from Scarborough–Guildwood for the question on this issue as well.

I would like to first thank the Pay Equity Commission for the round table that they hosted yesterday that myself and the Minister of Labour attended. We look forward to the recommendations that come from that.

Our government has taken action. We have taken concrete actions to improve women’s economic status and help close the gender wage gap—a lot more than has been done in the past. We have demonstrated this commitment by helping women access better jobs, through major investments in education, training programs and the Pay Equity Commission. Thousands of women have been provided with training and education for better jobs.

Our government is also investing significantly in child care and full-day kindergarten. We will continue to work hard to break down all of these barriers for the women of today and the leaders of tomorrow.


Mr. Norm Miller: My question is to the Acting Premier. Acting Premier, since you have been in power, the Auditor General has released special reports investigating Ornge air ambulance, the Mississauga gas plant and the Oakville gas plant. In all three of these cases, the flow of public funds to indirect recipients and third party service providers was outside the current mandate of the Provincial Auditor.

Acting Premier, do you agree that the Auditor General should be given the tools to do their job and ensure that taxpayers are getting fair value for their money?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Minister of Government Services.

Hon. John Milloy: I know that the honourable member has a private member’s bill which is before the Legislature this afternoon, and I think all of us look forward to the debate and the discussion.


I think all of us recognize the important role that is played by the Auditor General. We also anticipate a very important role by the Financial Accountability Officer. At the same time, we do have to balance that with the appropriateness of going too far when it comes to those who are merely dealing with the government and not part of the government. That is the balance, I think, that will be the topic of debate of this afternoon. I can certainly say that on our side of the Legislature we’re looking forward to hearing the debate and the presentation from the member, as well as participating in it.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Norm Miller: Again, to the Acting Premier: A number of audits are currently in progress, including a review of the community care access centres, smart-meter usage and the winter roads maintenance program. These investigations all involve public money flowing to third party organizations.

Acting Premier, my private member’s bill will allow the Auditor General to follow the money to third party recipients to help complete these audits and make sure taxpayers are getting good value for their money.

Acting Premier, will you support Bill 190 when it is debated for second reading this afternoon and give the Auditor General the tools to do the job?

Hon. John Milloy: Minister of Finance.

Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, it’s important that we all recognize the need for greater transparency and greater accountability. It’s one of the reasons that we, in this House—on this side of the House—have taken numerous steps to do so.

In fact, C.D. Howe Institute has recognized that the government of Ontario has become one of the most transparent and one of the most accountable governments anywhere in Canada. We have been rated top in the country because of the integrity of our numbers.

We recognize the important work that the Auditor General does. It’s one of the reasons we brought forward the Financial Accountability Officer to ensure that we get not only an Auditor General looking at the past results, but also making certain that going forward we institute proper systems to ensure that integrity continues. We’re doing that in treasury board. We’re doing that with our sub-treasury board committee. We will continue to act responsibly for the benefit of the public good, and taxpayers’ value will be protected.


Mr. Jagmeet Singh: My question is to the Acting Premier. The Liberals continue to insist that they want openness and transparency in the waste of the $1.1-billion gas plant scandal and in the deletion and wiping of emails and hard drives. But today their actions tell a different story. Today they tried to stop the justice committee from sitting. Ontarians deserve answers, and they did not let this happen today. Why did the Liberal members spend the morning trying to stop the justice committee from sitting?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I’m happy to bring the honourable member and, in fact, all members of the Legislature up to speed. The fact of the matter is that the justice committee has decided to sit next week, Wednesday morning and afternoon and Thursday afternoon.

What members may find a little bit curious, and perhaps members of the press or the public, is: How could the committee meet during question period? The fact of the matter is that the committee has that power and authority. The reason why it has that power and authority is because I, as House leader, negotiated with the opposition on the direction of the Premier, who said she wanted the committee to have that sort of responsibility to undertake to sit when it felt it was in the best interest, and we are going to see it hold a number of hearings next week.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: Well, just to inform the government House leader, I was actually in the committee, and members of the Liberal Party voted against sitting an additional week. They voted against that. So their actions tell a different story.

They talk about getting answers on the gas plants, but they said no to a public inquiry. They talked about being transparent and open, but they voted against sitting additional days in the justice committee.

Why is the government saying one thing about accountability and transparency but doing another? Why are they voting against transparency? Why are they against accountability?

Hon. John Milloy: Again, we have a justice committee—and it may sound arcane, but it meets at the call of the Chair. What that means is that it is up to the committee to decide when it meets. I would also advise members of the Legislature, if they haven’t noticed: There are more of the opposition than the government—more of them than us—which essentially means the opposition is helping to drive the agenda of this committee.

But, at the same time, I think all of us would agree, let’s let the committee undertake its own work. I would ask the honourable member, as this is question period—I’m very, very surprised that he has no issues about education or health care or a variety of issues that he wants to raise in the House today. But I’m always happy to answer questions about committee procedure.


Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: Ma question est pour la procureure générale, Mme la ministre Madeleine Meilleur.

I believe that aboriginal representation and access to justice are important issues across Ontario. As you will know, Speaker, and as former Speaker Peters will know, Mr. Frank Iacobucci released a report recently that outlines important recommendations lighting the path to increased aboriginal representation in the justice system. I understand that the Ministry of the Attorney General has established an implementation committee to address Mr. Iacobucci’s recommendations and has announced the co-chairs of the justice advisory group to provide advice to the Attorney General on broader justice issues affecting First Nations.

My question is this: Will the Attorney General inform this chamber about the steps we are taking to fortify, solidify and strengthen the relationship between aboriginal peoples and the justice system?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I want to thank the member from Etobicoke North for his question. Mr. Yakabuski’s report has helped the ministry build on its ongoing efforts to improve participation of First Nations individuals on jury rolls and strengthen our province’s justice system overall.

We have created a position of assistant deputy Attorney General for aboriginal justice, and this individual will be recruited through an open, merit-based process beginning this month. This is the first recommendation to be implemented in consultation with the jury review implementation committee formed in September 2013 to oversee the implementation of recommendations in Mr. Yakabuski’s report. I want to take this opportunity to thank Judge Yakabuski’s for his wonderful report.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: Merci, madame la Ministre, pour votre réponse sur la contribution de M. Iacobucci.

I sense that our government is taking meaningful steps towards effecting real, positive change in the way that First Nations participate in Ontario’s justice system, specifically in enhancing participation on juries. We know, for example, that throughout Ontario, First Nations peoples are significantly underrepresented, not just on juries but among all those who work in the administration of justice: court officials, prosecutors, defence counsel and judges. Can the minister expand on how moving forward on these particular recommendations will help build inclusive and respectful relationships with our partners in the aboriginal communities?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

Hon. David Zimmer: The addition of an assistant deputy Attorney General, aboriginal justice, is a critical step in addressing the aboriginal justice issues. It fulfills a key recommendation of the Justice Iacobucci report. It will do three things, this new position:

(1) The position will strengthen the relationships between aboriginal communities and government.

(2) It will improve trust and understanding amongst aboriginal and non-aboriginal people and communities.

(3) It will lead to new supports and programs for aboriginal peoples.

As a part of the effort to find the best possible candidate for this position, the recruitment process will include extensive outreach to aboriginal organizations and communities across Canada. My colleague the Attorney General and I will continue to move forward in implementing the recommendations of the report. We will continue to work to ensure that First Nations are adequately represented in Ontario’s justice system.


Mr. Randy Pettapiece: My question is for the Attorney General. My private member’s resolution called on the government to implement a comprehensive, long-term solution to reform joint and several liability insurance for municipalities, and to do it by this June. It received overwhelming support from AMO, from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, from insurers in Perth–Wellington and beyond, and from over 200 municipalities. Support continues to pour in. It was debated and it received overwhelming support from MPPs from all parties.

That was almost two months ago. Since you became Attorney General, what action have you taken on this file and when will you get it done?


Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Legal liability reform is an important and complex issue. I understand that this issue has been a significant concern of municipalities for some time.

AMO has asked the government to consider the impact of the law of joint and several liability on municipal insurance. The Ministry of the Attorney General has worked with AMO to develop possible ways to address municipal concerns. MAG is in the process of consulting with AMO and the legal community on two options under consideration.

The consultation period has been extended. It’s expected to be concluded on Thursday, April 16, 2014.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: With all due respect, that’s the same answer I heard four years ago when I was a councillor in North Perth. That hasn’t changed.

Speaker, I know this minister is new to the job, but we need to know when she will make this happen. Her government has been promising reform for years, but they have never made it a priority. I hope she will do better.

AMO and many municipalities are—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Minister without portfolio, you can’t hopscotch-heckle. I hear you wherever you are.

Finish, please.

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: AMO and many municipalities are supporting a combined model, which would place reasonable limits on the damages that could be recovered from a municipality. In Perth–Wellington, municipalities, including Stratford and the county of Wellington, are asking you to support this.

Minister, the time for consultations is over. When will you respect the will of the House? Time is running out.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: As the member said, there are some municipalities who are supporting it and some who are not supporting it.

We have been examining models used in other jurisdictions. We have examined a model used in the United States in particular. They have a wide range of approaches. Proportionate liability, in which each defendant is only liable for the proportion of damage he or she has caused, is controversial, because it can mean that a seriously injured plaintiff has to absorb a significant loss. We have looked at what is done in Saskatchewan.

As I said, we are consulting, we are working with the officials in my ministry. We will inform the member later on.


Mr. Wayne Gates: My question is to the Acting Premier. The Niagara region has one of the highest unemployment rates in Ontario. City councillors in St. Catharines unanimously passed a motion to develop a jobs and investment strategy by co-operating with the Niagara region, other municipalities and the Niagara Industrial Association. We met with Niagara businesses that support the NDP’s plan of a targeted tax credit to create jobs.

Niagara regional leaders are taking their own measures to do what this government should be doing: creating a jobs plan that works. Will this government finally admit that its across-the-board corporate tax cuts aren’t creating jobs, and tell regional leaders in Niagara how it will support their jobs strategy?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: The Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I appreciate the question. It’s important to understand that Niagara is facing challenges unique to that region partly because of dependence, in the past and the present, on the manufacturing sector. It’s refreshing as well to see the hard work being done by the citizens there and political and business leaders. In fact, the economic development corporations for the region as a whole have recently, quite exceptionally, increased their coordination. They understand that by collaborating, they can actually compete even better as a region.

Although the unemployment rate in the Niagara region, I acknowledge, is unacceptably high, it has come down considerably over the past year, and certainly since the height of the recession. It is benefiting from the job-creating initiatives this government is making, as we see that unemployment rate come down and we see the growth in manufacturing jobs once again.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Wayne Gates: Manufacturers in Niagara are saying they are in danger of being poached by the states across the border. Low power costs in New York state generated by Hydro One and sold at an enormous loss are being used to lure Niagara companies away. An industrial consumer in New York can purchase electricity from Ontario 30% to 45% lower than a competing company in our province.

Will this government fix its broken hydro system that is increasing hydro bills for Ontarians and, more importantly, driving manufacturing jobs out of Niagara and into the States?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: To the Minister of Energy.

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: Mr. Speaker, the member needs to get his facts up to speed. We had a broken system. We now have a system that creates a surplus. We are now using that strong position in the electricity system to create a program called the IEI Program. That creates energy for people who are creating jobs at about 50% of the regular rate. We’ve just announced seven across the province, including in Welland, Pembroke and Renfrew. We’ve created 140 jobs by using this program to restart a paper plant that had been stopped.

We’re across-the-board competitive with our industrial programs, and we’re going to continue to evolve them. We’re competitive with northern States; we’re competitive with other provinces in the industrial sector.

I invite the member to come to my office, and we’ll review all the programs for him and the benefits for the industrial sector.


Mr. Steven Del Duca: My question today is for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. For many seniors, physiotherapy can be the key to a full and active life. Whether it’s getting out of the house to get groceries, taking part in exercise and sports or simply taking a stroll with their grandchildren, thousands of older Ontarians benefit from the hard work and attentive care of our physiotherapists.

That’s why so many people in Vaughan were concerned about the changes that our government made to the delivery of physiotherapy this past summer. Many spoke to me and wondered what this would mean for them. Would it interrupt their care? Would it make it harder for them to access services?

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of announcing that our government will be investing $800,000 to support the addition of four new publicly funded physiotherapy clinics in my riding of Vaughan. I know how important this will be for so many living in my community.

Could the minister please tell the House just how this investment will benefit seniors in Vaughan?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Thank you to the member for Vaughan. I tell you: He is a passionate advocate for seniors in his community. I agree with the member that physiotherapy does help ensure that older Ontarians lead healthy, active lives.

Before we moved forward with our plan to improve physiotherapy for Ontarians, seniors in many communities simply had no access to publicly funded clinic-based physiotherapy services, and waiting lists for home-based physiotherapy were far too long. Now, we’re more than doubling the number of publicly funded physiotherapy clinics in the province. That means 90,000 more Ontarians will be able to receive clinic-based physiotherapy in their communities.

In Vaughan, our investment will provide access to physiotherapy services to over 2,000 individuals. At the same time, we’re funding community care access centres to provide in-home physiotherapy to 60,000 more people across the province. This will help increase access—

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

Mr. Steven Del Duca: I thank the minister for her answer, and I thank her for acknowledging the work that takes place in my community of Vaughan, regarding supporting seniors.

Just a couple of Fridays ago, the minister responsible for seniors and the Premier of Ontario were in my riding at the Healthy Seniors Roundtable discussing issues of importance to seniors in my community. More than 700 showed up for that event, and I think they were delighted to hear about the work we’re doing through the minister responsible and the Premier.

There’s a growing aging population in Vaughan, as there is in communities across the province. Ontario’s aging population will put an increasing strain on health care resources in years to come. I know that the Minister of Health has taken very strong and meaningful steps to ensure the successful delivery of the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital, something that’s very important to me and to my community, but there is a growing recognition that health promotion is vital to helping prevent people from going to the hospital in the first place or being readmitted after discharge. Could the minister please speak about other investments being made in Vaughan to help keep our seniors out of the emergency room?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: The member is absolutely right in saying that the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital will be delivered on time, and I can tell you that he has been pushing that project forward. But I think we all agree that we must do all we can to keep people out of the hospital in the first place. That’s why, this year, we increased our investment in home and community care by 6% to ensure that seniors can get high-quality care close to home. We’re creating community health links to provide collaborative care for the most complex patients.


As part of our physiotherapy reforms, we’re expanding community exercise and falls prevention classes to more locations across Ontario. We will be able to offer this free, publicly funded service to 130,000 seniors, including 10,000 in the Central LHIN, in the member’s area.

We will continue to work hard to ensure that older Ontarians are able to lead healthy, active and independent lives in their own homes.


Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: I have a question for the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. Minister, as you are well aware, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology was first established on the basis of a new model with Durham College, utilizing a shared-services aspect for their facilities and operations.

This worked well at the start; however, subsequent leadership at UOIT did not have the desire to allow the shared-services model to continue. The end result is the splitting of the services, and Durham College had to pay over $3.2 million in additional unbudgeted costs, only to have UOIT rehire Durham’s severed staff. Minister, it’s happening again, and this time the taxpayers and Durham College are anticipating paying an additional half a million dollars or more.

Minister, can you commit to review the Durham College/UOIT operations and have all players act in the best interests of the taxpayers and in the original intent of the agreement?

Hon. Brad Duguid: I appreciate the question from the member. This is one of those questions I’m actually happy to get in this Legislature, unlike many others that we often get. The reason why I’m happy to get it is that it gives me an opportunity to say, through the Legislature, to both Durham College and UOIT that it’s really important that they do everything they can to work together and ensure that that partnership—which actually is a fantastic model for the rest of the province—remains successful.

My job isn’t to micromanage these partnerships or micromanage these arrangements, but my job is to put forward an expectation to all parties that they’re going to do everything they can to work in the best interests of students.

The member has raised the issue with me in the past. I’ve been to Durham College just recently and met with Don Lovisa there and did a tour of the college. It is a fantastic partnership; it’s a great model. It appears that there might be some more work to do, and I think both of us need to make sure that they do the work they need to, to make the partnership work.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: Minister, the process is continuing on, and quite frankly, there is a lot of concern that the IT division may be next on the block for the shared-services aspect.

This substantially impacts not only the union membership, who are working under Durham College, but they then have to move over to UOIT. In the case that they don’t move over, where do these individuals end up? Not only that, but there is also the impact on the budget of Durham College, as they are the ones holding the original contract.

Minister, can you ensure that the best interests of the union workers, who are working on behalf of Durham College and UOIT—as well as that the impacts on the budget are minimized?

Hon. Brad Duguid: My expectation of all of our post-secondary partners is that they’re going to be fair in everything they do. My other expectation is that everything they do is being done in the interests of their students.

First and foremost, I have a responsibility, and I think we all do, to see our post-secondary system through the eyes of our students. I know, when going out there—and I may have a bit of a conflict here, Mr. Speaker, because my son, I think, has applied to and is accepting to go to Durham College, and that’s one of the reasons I was out there. So I may have a bit of a conflict here. But what amazes me about that campus is the interaction between the university students and the college students, and the programs where you can start in Durham College and work your way up into a university program.

It is a fantastic model. It’s really important that we all work together to make sure it continues to work in the best interests of students. Thanks for the question.


Mr. John Vanthof: My question is to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. The government has announced that the ONTC refurbishment shops in North Bay will remain in public hands, but it has failed to outline a long-term growth plan for the division. In fact, it announced the refurbishment of the Polar Bear Express as a way to revitalize that division, but that’s only a part-time job. It won’t provide enough employment for the future of the refurbishment shops. This casts doubt on the government’s intentions for ONTC.

Will this government act to ensure that a real strategic plan is outlined for ONTC’s future, and the services and the good local jobs it provides?

Hon. Michael Gravelle: Thank you very much for the question. I really do appreciate it. Certainly, I was very pleased to be in North Bay a couple of Fridays ago to announce that indeed we are keeping four of the five divisions of the ONTC in public hands, and that does include the refurbishment shop. We’re very pleased that we are able to provide $17.6 million in work in terms of improving the Polar Bear Express refurbishment, rail freight as well and, obviously, the motor coach as well. We are conscious that, indeed, there is more work to be done in terms of the transformation of those divisions that will be held in public hands. That does include opportunities—we see synergies with Metrolinx, and we’re hoping that will be an opportunity. In fact, it’s an opportunity we are planning to have more serious discussions about very, very soon.

This is part of a longer-term plan. The commitment is very strong in terms of keeping those lines in public hands. We look forward to further discussions to continue that transformation.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. John Vanthof: Minister, the people in northeastern Ontario have been waiting two years. They’ve united—you’ve started the MAC committee. The MAC committee has done a lot of good work, work for a long-term plan, and what we got was an announcement to refurbish part of the ONTC’s own railcars. That was announced as the strategic plan to save the refurbishment shops. That’s not a plan; that’s an announcement.

We don’t want to hear talk about a plan. We want to hear that there is going to be a strategic alliance with Metrolinx. You could do that; they’re both public companies. That was the start, when they lost that contract years ago. That’s when we realized what you were trying to do with the ONTC.


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


Hon. Michael Gravelle: Fair game. We are very, very committed to a long-term plan. I know you don’t want to in any way minimize the hard work that was done by the ministerial advisory committee, because indeed they have—indeed, this is part of a full transformation. May I say, the ministerial advisory committee is going to stay in place. I asked each of the members, when we made the announcement related to the four lines staying in public hands, “Will you stay on the MAC board? Will you meet again?” We have more work to do.

There is work we want to do in terms of a strategic alliance with Metrolinx. That work needs to get done. We need to put forward a real business plan that will make it work. We recognize that. I guess most of all what I want to say is, we are so committed to a long-term transformation of the ONTC and a sustainable one. I want you to know that, indeed, that work will continue with all the advice we’ll be getting from the MAC and others like yourself.


Mr. Bob Delaney: This question is for the Minister of Transportation. Minister, western Mississauga’s neighbourhoods of Lisgar, Meadowvale and Streetsville are perfect places to cycle in the good weather—if that good weather ever comes—on our very many biking trails. Cycling is part of a healthy lifestyle. In Mississauga, we are very, very active cyclists.

Would the minister please tell me what his just recently announced investment in cycling in Ontario entails? What can we expect for cycling as Ontario rolls out the program?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: First, I want to thank the member for his leadership as a cycling advocate. His private member’s bill on Bike Month is going to be very important to this House.

What we have done is, we’ve set up a fund for $25 million over the next three years. This will fund municipalities and our partners, the not-for-profits, in building new models of cycling infrastructure and innovation, whether it’s in Ottawa, Chatham or Ignace. Every community right now is embracing this.

But it actually leads to a much bigger story, which is that, going forward, our entire $14-billion-a-year infrastructure budget will include cycling facilities on every road, highway, bridge and hospital. So we will become, we believe, in the next decade, the most cycling-friendly jurisdiction in North America.

I want to thank the member for his question.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): In the Speaker’s gallery today, we have guests: Mr. Gerry Baier from the Institute of Future Legislators in the University of British Columbia as a guest of the former member from Elgin–Middlesex–London in the 37th, 38th and 39th and Speaker in the 39th, Steve Peters.


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

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I would like to correct my record. In my answer to the member for Perth–Wellington, apparently I said “Justice Yakabuski” when I meant “Justice Iacobucci.” I would not want my friend from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke to be too excited. I have not yet appointed him to the bench.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Ottawa South on a point of order.

Mr. John Fraser: I do want to add that I left out Isabella’s grandmother Gerri O’Brien and her parents, Rob O’Brien and Angela Ceccato.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): There are no deferred votes. This House stands recessed until 1 p.m. this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1140 to 1300.



Mr. Victor Fedeli: A year ago, I presented documents proving the government knew its ONTC fire sale would indeed cost $800 million. So for a year, the Liberals left northern families in turmoil, when they knew all along that they would not proceed with this folly.

Now they’ve re-announced a phony strategic alliance with Metrolinx. It’s exactly the one they announced just days before the 2011 election; the one that never did go ahead. Sadly, this is another Liberal pre-election vote-getter, just like the gas plant announcement.

North Bay city council passed a motion last week asking the government to reconsider the Ontera sale. Northerners deserve to know: How much did it actually cost to divest Ontera; what return did the government get for the more than $20 million they invested in the fibre ring; and what will the cancellation fee be if the CRTC nixes the sale?

Just as concerning is what wasn’t mentioned. There was no reference to the Ring of Fire in the government’s announcement, but only days later, the finance minister told reporters in London that London’s rail expertise will be put to use in the Ring of Fire.

This is an alarm bell for northerners. It’s clear that the Liberals can’t be trusted. We’ve presented our plan for Ontario Northland. We’ll only achieve victory for the north when we change the team that leads this province.


Mr. Mike Colle: This week, many of my constituents in Eglinton–Lawrence will be celebrating the holiday of Passover. During Passover Seder, families get together to remember and celebrate the liberation of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt.

Each year, the ancient story of the Exodus from Egypt is passed down by families to their children and grandchildren.

Passover truly is a holiday about freedom. The ancient story of the Israelites’ liberation and their transition from slavery to freedom is one we can all relate to.

I want to wish the entire Jewish community across Ontario—hundreds of thousands—a happy and healthy Pesach with lots of gefilte fish, horseradish and chicken soup with matzo balls.

Chag Sameach to all my Jewish friends and constituents.

This is a very special family time of the year when all of us reflect on the incredible tenacity and incredible stick-to-it-iveness of the Jewish community, not only here in Ontario but across the world, who survived slavery in Egypt and have contributed to the growth of this great province, where they’ve been for over 200 years helping build this province.

So I say to all my Jewish friends and neighbours, Chag Sameach, and may you have a wonderful and peaceful Pesach.

Happy Easter to everybody, too.


Mr. Rob E. Milligan: It’s my pleasure to rise and speak about the Northumberland Child Development Centre. For decades, this organization has served communities in my riding with integrity and excellence. But, unfortunately, they will no longer be able to do so, because they are being passed over for the funding they typically receive from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

The decision was made to give the funding, instead, to a new company that will offer the service for a small discount. This tiny bit of savings comes at the expense of the priceless relationships these workers have built with their clients over the past 20 years. This is 20 years of friendship, accountability and trust that is simply being thrown out the window so this financially incompetent government can try to save a few bucks.

This government never seems to want to cut spending, but the rare times that they do, they do it in all the wrong places. Instead of trimming down the subsidies they’re giving out to billion-dollar corporations like MLSE, they cut funding to developmental services for children. It just doesn’t make sense.

This industry relies on the importance of established relationships built on trust. These families who have been clients for the NCDC for the past 20 years have that, and now are going to have to start all over again.

Premier Wynne, please say developmental services is a priority for your government. Do it today, and continue the good work at the NCDC.


Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I rise today, in a proud way, to herald the work of the Roncesvalles Polish Festival. Every year, the Polish festival grows. Usually, about 300,000 people attend it. It’s a wonderful event. I know many here have attended that.

This year, they asked the Liberal government for $83,000. They received $58,000. Last year, they received $75,000. This is a huge blow to the organizers and to my entire community.

The sad reality is that most people believe the erroneous report, for example, that the Beach festival got their funding allocated. They did not. The $75,000, that was erroneously reported in the press, that was given to the Beach festival had nothing to do with their request for the sustenance of the festival itself.

So I’m standing up here, pleading with my friends across the aisle, pleading with the minister who’s responsible for this portfolio: Please fund the Roncesvalles Polish Festival. I ask on behalf of our Polish residents and all of our residents. We’re asking for just a few thousand dollars that generate millions of dollars in terms of tourist revenue. Please fund the Roncesvalles Polish Festival. I don’t know how else to say it. I’m going to say it again: Please fund the Roncesvalles Polish Festival.


Ms. Soo Wong: April is Trillium Gift of Life Network’s Be a Donor Month. I would once again like to draw attention to the importance of organ donation. Speaker, as you know, out of the 1,500 people in Ontario waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, one dies every three days because a needed organ is not available.

As a registered nurse, I’m aware that one donor has the capacity to save eight lives. Local associations, working in partnership with the Trillium Gift of Life Network, are crucial in bringing this cause to the forefront. The Scarborough Gift of Life Association, led by my friend and donor recipient Mohan Bissoondial, is working hard to raise the percentage of registered donors in Scarborough, which is significantly below the provincial average, at a mere 10%.

Mohan himself is a double corneal transplant recipient. Every time I speak to Mohan, he always tells me, “The generosity of strangers who are willing to donate their corneas has enabled me to live a full and complete life and to bring up a family and live my dreams.”

Be a Donor Month is a wonderful opportunity for communities across the province to help increase awareness of organ donor registration and help save lives. Speaker, I encourage anyone who has not registered yet to do so online at beadonor.ca.


Mr. Jim Wilson: I rise today because of the government’s decision, which took effect last August, to drastically cut physiotherapy services to seniors. It’s having a direct result of increased falls and injury to our most vulnerable population.

Let me briefly explain what I’m hearing from my constituents in my riding. Seniors who once had access to services in-home now struggle to travel to community clinics, as there is no public transit available. I think our urban Premier forgets that while seniors in Toronto have lots of accessible options, it’s not the same in rural Ontario.

Seniors in retirement homes are also struggling. In six months, falls have more than doubled. One retirement home has seen the rate of falls increase 158%. This increase has a direct human cost and is resulting in a loss of independence.

A local case study shows a decrease in mobility as a result of reduced one-on-one physiotherapy sessions. One resident in the study has had her mobility decline to the point that she is now unable to feed herself. Another resident broke a hip as a result of loss of muscle strength and balance.

The activity director of one local retirement home has said, “Following the cuts, the most vulnerable seniors have fallen, fractured hips and continue to lose independence and dignity, just to save the provincial government a few bucks. It is obvious to us here in the retirement home, by the numbers of increased falls and a death, that the falls prevention classes are not working.”

I find it outrageous that the government wastes billions of dollars on scandals and is willing to spend another $5.7 billion in the next few days to distract voters from their lousy record in an effort to cling to power—and have no money for seniors.



Mr. Percy Hatfield: I would like to take a couple of moments, if I could, to pay tribute to our war veterans. As you know, earlier this week, we received our Vimy pin, reminding us of the great sacrifices that were made during the First World War, when Canada’s military came of age. Fittingly, next Friday, in Windsor at Memorial Park, we are rededicating the monument to the First World War veterans.

Interestingly, a couple of years ago, it had been vandalized. A young teenager from the community saw that and went out with some cleaning materials and cleaned off the graffiti. He was recognized for his efforts on behalf of the veterans in our community.

Also, one of our firefighters, a few years ago, decided we should do more, because in that community some of the streets have military names—Ypres for some, Vimy, Dieppe, various battles—and we put a poppy on the street signs in Windsor for all of the war-related battles that were fought and streets named after them.

I’ll be taking part in that ceremony on Friday. I look forward to that. I had my nomination meeting at my Legion. I’ve been a member for about 30 years. I signed the daily book and the loonie book and the toonie book, and I won $370 last week, so I’m even more proud to stand up and support veterans today.


Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield: Mr. Speaker, 28 years ago, on April 26, 1986, in the north central part of Ukraine, 100 kilometres north of Kiev, near Chernobyl and Pripyat, a nuclear explosion considered the worst nuclear power plant incident in history occurred. Classified at the highest level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, it was a catastrophic event where 600,000 people were exposed to high-level radiation, and many died.

This plant was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities of the Soviet Union. Quoting Medvedev, "The mere fact that the operators were carrying out an experiment that had not been approved by higher officials indicates that something was wrong with the chain of command.... In part, the tragedy was the product of administrative anarchy or the attempt to keep everything secret.” And there is talk of building a nuclear facility in the Crimea.

As concerned citizens, we must be vigilant. In this difficult time, we must remember and we must stand with the people of Ukraine. We must be firm in our convictions to support the people in their struggle for democracy and territorial integrity.

Prime Minister Harper has stated that the world must recognize that Russia’s activities in Ukraine pose the worst threat to global peace since the end of the Cold War. “The situation is getting worse,” he said. “Without any doubt whatsoever,” this is “strictly the work of Russian provocateurs sent by the Putin regime.”

Mr. Speaker, all of us must be vigilant.


Mrs. Jane McKenna: A healthy community is, at heart, a caring place. That is true of my riding and two constituents in particular: Ralph and Susan Sgro. I’m very pleased to report that the couple was recently named 2014 Philanthropists of the Year by the Burlington Community Foundation.

Long-time Burlington residents, the pair own a number of McDonald’s franchises in the Burlington area and have given to a range of charities, both personally and corporately. Seven years ago, working in partnership with the Burlington Community Foundation, they founded the McDonald’s Restaurants of Burlington Fund, which supports local children’s charities.

The two have also been devoted supporters of local causes like the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation, Woodview Children’s Centre and the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, and they have been committed volunteers with a variety of charities. Susan was co-chair of Breast Cancer Support Services’ 2012 charity gala. Ralph is vice-chair of the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation’s campaign cabinet. The pair also sits on the foundation’s ambassadors council.

On two occasions, they have been honoured with Rotary Club awards for community services. This most recent honour spotlights their inspiring example as well as their tremendous commitment to Burlington. So congratulations to Ralph and Susan.

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



Mr. Fraser moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr26, An Act respecting Saint Paul University.

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

First reading agreed to.

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


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It is now time for petitions. The member from Durham.


Mr. John O’Toole: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s the only time of the day that I actually get to speak, which is very depressing, actually.


Mr. John O’Toole: I’m not whining; however, it’s an important observation.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Just read the petition, please.

Mr. John O’Toole: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas current OHIP legislation and policies prevent Ontario post-stroke patients between the ages of 20 and 64 from receiving additional one-on-one OHIP-funded physiotherapy; and

“Whereas these post-stroke patients deserve to be rehabilitated to their greatest ability possible to maybe return to work and become provincial income taxpayers again and productive citizens;

“Whereas current OHIP policies prevent Ontarians under age 65 and over the age of 20 from receiving additional OHIP-funded physiotherapy and rehabilitation after their initial stroke treatment; and

“Whereas these OHIP policies are discriminatory in nature, forcing university/college students and other Ontarians to wait until age 65 to receive more OHIP-funded physiotherapy;

“Whereas the lack of post-stroke physiotherapy offered to Ontarians between the ages of 20 and 64 is forcing these people to prematurely cash in their RRSPs and/or sell their houses to raise funds” to pay for an otherwise publicly funded service;

“Now therefore we, the undersigned, hereby respectfully petition the Ontario Legislature to introduce and pass amending legislation and new regulations to provide OHIP-funded post-stroke physiotherapy and treatment for all qualified post-stroke patients, thereby eliminating the discriminatory nature of current treatment practices” under the Wynne government.

I am pleased to sign and support this and present it to one of the pages, Urooj, on her last day here.


Mr. Michael Mantha: I enjoy the member from Durham and I would like to start, maybe, a petition to make sure that we hear from him at least once a day to help him out.

On a more serious note:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas northern Ontario will suffer a huge loss of service as a result of government cuts to ServiceOntario counters;

“Whereas these cuts will have a negative impact on local businesses and local economies;

“Whereas northerners will now face challenges in accessing their birth certificates, health cards and licences;

“Whereas northern Ontario should not unfairly bear the brunt of decisions to slash operating budgets;

“Whereas regardless of address, all Ontarians should be treated equally by their government;

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

“Review the decision to cut access to ServiceOntario for northerners, and provide northern Ontarians equal access to these services.”

I agree with this petition and present it to page Megan who will bring it down the Clerks.


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

“Whereas the Ontario government has raised minimum wage by 50% since 2003 and will increase it to $11, the highest provincial minimum wage in Canada, on June 1;


“Whereas both families and businesses in Ontario deserve a fair and predictable approach to setting the minimum wage;

“Whereas indexing minimum wage to CPI is supported by business, labour and anti-poverty groups from across Ontario as the best way to achieve that;

“Whereas indexing ensures minimum wage keeps pace with the cost of living, providing fairness for workers and their families and predictability for businesses to plan and stay competitive;

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

“That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario pass and enact, as soon as possible, Bill 165, Fair Minimum Wage Act, 2014.”

I fully support it and give the petition to Zohaib.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Just before I’m relieved, and I know that you know that’s going to happen, I want to offer to all my colleagues a happy Khalsa Day, Passover and Easter, and wish you all some time with your families and your hard work that you’ll be doing back in your ridings. I appreciate all of your work. Thank you.


Mr. John O’Toole: I’m pleased to present another petition on behalf of the residents of Durham, which reads as follows:

“Whereas the government of Ontario, through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, levies the Ontario provincial fee”—tax—“on the sale of break-open tickets by charitable and non-profit organizations in the province; and

“Whereas local hospital auxiliary” volunteers “across the province, who are members of the Hospital Auxiliaries Association of Ontario, use break-open tickets to raise funds to support local health care equipment needs in more than 100 communities across the province; and

“Whereas in September 2010, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced a series of changes to the Ontario provincial fee”—tax—“which included a reduction of the fee for certain organizations and the complete elimination of the fee for other organizations, depending on where the break-open tickets are sold; and

“Whereas the September 2010 changes to the Ontario provincial fee”—tax—“unfairly treat certain charitable and non-profit organizations (local hospital auxiliaries) by not providing for the complete elimination of the fee which would otherwise be used by these organizations to increase their support for local health care equipment needs and other community needs;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to eliminate the Ontario provincial fee on break-open tickets for all charitable and non-profit organizations in Ontario and allow all organizations” to voluntarily use “this fundraising tool to invest in more local community projects, including local health care equipment needs.”

On behalf of Ontarians, I’m pleased to sign and support this and present it to Anthony on his last day as a page in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.


Mr. Michael Mantha: This petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, draw attention to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to the following:

“The Ontario Ranger Program takes youth out of their comfort zones by taking youth from the south and placing them in northern camps and vice versa, allowing for personal growth;

“The Ontario Ranger Program also helps nearby rural communities as the Ontario Rangers help with various work projects and build partnerships within the communities; the work is recognized and appreciated by these small communities;

“An extensive amount of work maintaining the interior routes in major provincial parks such as Quetico, Algonquin and Temagami is completed by Ontario Rangers on multi-day overnight canoe trips (and is otherwise unreachable);

“The lifelong skills and friendships built during the Ontario Ranger Program help youth develop into mature, confident, independent individuals, which is well worth the money spent on the program;

“Low-income and high-risk youth sent to rangers are isolated from their home situation and are exposed to the positive team-building environment within the Ontario Ranger Program;

“Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to demonstrate that the Ontario Ranger Program is a valuable program to the youth of Ontario, reverse the decision to close the Ontario Ranger Program….”

I support this petition and present it to page Callista to bring it down to the Clerk.


Mr. Steven Del Duca: I have a petition addressed as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Health Canada has approved the use of Esbriet for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a rare, progressive and fatal disease characterized by scarring of the lungs; and

“Whereas Esbriet, the first and only approved medication in Canada for the treatment of IPF, has been shown to slow disease progression and to decrease the decline in lung function; and

“Whereas the lack of public funding for Esbriet is especially devastating for seniors with IPF who rely exclusively on the provincial drug program for access to medications;

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

“Immediately provide Esbriet as a choice to patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and their health care providers in Ontario through public funding.”

I’ve affixed my signature, and I’m happy to present it to page Jonah.


Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas the tick-borne illness known as chronic Lyme disease, which mimics many catastrophic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s, Alzheimer’s, arthritic diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, is increasingly endemic in Canada, but scientifically validated diagnostic tests and treatment choices are currently not available in Ontario, forcing patients to seek these in the USA and Europe; and

“Whereas the Canadian Medical Association informed the public, governments and the medical profession in the May 30, 2000, edition of their professional journal that Lyme disease is endemic throughout Canada, particularly in southern Ontario; and

“Whereas the Ontario public health system and the Ontario Health Insurance Plan currently do not fund those specific tests that accurately serve the process for establishing a clinical diagnosis, but only recognize testing procedures known in the medical literature to provide false negatives 45% to 95% of the time;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to request the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to direct the Ontario public health system and OHIP to include all currently available and scientifically verified tests for acute and chronic Lyme disease in Ontario and to have everything necessary to create public awareness of Lyme disease in Ontario, and to have internationally developed diagnostic and successful treatment protocols available to patients and physicians.”

I affix my signature in support.


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, will affix my signature and give it to page Caroline to deliver.


Mr. Rob E. Milligan: I have a petition that reads as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Health Canada has approved the use of Esbriet for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a rare, progressive and fatal disease characterized by scarring of the lungs; and

“Whereas Esbriet, the first and only approved medication in Canada for the treatment of IPF, has been shown to slow disease progression and to decrease the decline in lung function; and

“Whereas the lack of public funding for Esbriet is especially devastating for seniors with IPF who rely exclusively on the provincial drug program for access to medications;

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

“Immediately provide Esbriet as a choice to patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and their health care providers in Ontario through public funding.”

I concur with this petition and I’ll affix my name to it.


Mr. Michael Mantha: Again, from all over and many communities across northern Ontario:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas a motion was introduced at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads ‘that in the opinion of the House, the operation of off-road vehicles on highways under regulation 316/03 be changed to include side-by-side off-road vehicles, four-seat side-by-side vehicles, and two-up vehicles in order for them to be driven on highways under the same conditions as other off-road/all-terrain vehicles’;

“Whereas this motion was passed on November 7, 2013, to amend the Highway Traffic Act 316/03;

“Whereas the economic benefits will have positive impacts on ATV clubs, ATV manufacturers, dealers and rental shops, and will boost revenues to communities promoting this outdoor activity;

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

“We call on the Ministry of Transportation to implement this regulation immediately.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this petition and present it to page Nusaybah to bring it down to the Clerks.



Mr. John O’Toole: Mr. Speaker, it seems I still have a voice for my constituents. It reads as follows, as the petition is right here:

“Whereas the government is considering a 10-cents-per-litre increase in the price of gas to fund public transit; and

“Whereas a 10-cents-per-litre increase in the gas tax places an unaffordable financial burden on many families, especially those on fixed incomes and those living in northern and rural communities who have no access to public transit; and

“Whereas the increase in gas tax would cost the average Ontario household” over “$260 a year; and

“Whereas the government already taxes gas at 14.7 cents per litre, plus the HST taxes,” at 13%, “which currently cost approximately 15 cents per litre;

“Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the proposed new 10-cent-per-litre” increase in “gasoline tax and to find better ways to fund public transit through alternatives such as the reduction of wasteful spending” on gas plants and other waste “and the introduction of an Ontario transportation trust.”

I’m pleased to sign and support this, and present it to Kathryn, one of the pages, on her last day here at Queen’s Park.


Ms. Sarah Campbell: I am proud and pleased to present some of the comments that were just made by the member from Durham representing the people from the northwest.

“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 petition, will affix my signature, and give it to page Mustfah to deliver to the table.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The time for petitions has expired.



The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Last week, private members’ public business was interrupted due to the special adjournment of the House. Pursuant to the order of the House on Monday, April 14, 2014, we will resume business today at the same stage of consideration as at the time of adjournment.

During private members’ public business last week, Ms. Campbell had moved private members’ notice of motion number 70: That, in the opinion of this House, the Legislative Assembly should establish a select committee to review Ontario’s winter road maintenance contracts, with a view at improving winter road conditions before the 2015 winter season.

When debate was adjourned on this item of business, Ms. Campbell had completed her opening 12-minute presentation. The time remaining for debate is as follows: Members of the Liberal Party have 12 minutes; members of the Progressive Conservative Party have three minutes and 48 seconds; and members of the New Democratic Party have 39 seconds.

At the point of adjournment last Thursday, a member of the third party had just spoken, so I will look first to the Liberal caucus for further debate. Further debate?

Further debate?

Mr. Rob E. Milligan: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. You know, it’s one of these issues that is very relevant in my riding, particularly this winter when we’ve seen severe cutbacks in the road maintenance service on the 401 corridor, not just in Northumberland–Quinte West but throughout the province on the 400-series highways.

We’ve seen a dramatic increase in accidents that have occurred and, surprisingly, we have been very fortunate that the number of fatalities in those accidents that have occurred have been minimal—so we’re very lucky that that hasn’t happened.

But again, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that I had a meeting with the MTO, the Ministry of Transportation, and also the service provider, Carillion in Cobourg, along with the mayors and a few of the administrators of Northumberland county. We heard time and time again that under the new gen-3 contracts that were introduced and that service providers had to bid on, the standards and the bare minimums were cut. What we’ve seen is the number of plowing vehicles on the 401 corridor in Northumberland–Quinte West drop from 19 down to nine, and also the number of depots. We had four sand and salt depots throughout the riding; now there are only two. This approximate savings of about $800,000 is insignificant when you think about the cost in loss of revenue for every hour that the 401 corridor is shut down in this province.

So the supposed savings that the Liberals are trying—Premier Wynne is trying to paint herself as the transportation Premier. We’ve already seen what the former education Premier has done to the state of education in the province of Ontario and, quite honestly—


Mr. Rob E. Milligan: Yes, Mr. McGuinty.

That’s why I’m here—a former high school teacher—because of the policies brought in by former Premier McGuinty.

So this Premier, Premier Wynne, is trying to paint herself as the transportation saviour for the province of Ontario, but neglecting rural Ontario once again—I have to make that point. What we’ve seen—and I know the Minister of Transportation is going to want to probably speak to this now—is the fact that this government has made severe cuts to the services on our 401 corridor, and this is unacceptable, especially coming from a Premier who is trying to establish herself as the transportation Premier.

On almost a daily basis, we hear Premier Wynne go on about: We have to invest in our roads and bridges—$29 billion is the latest figure—to make sure those arteries are open so we can get traffic moving and we can get goods to market. But that $29-billion investment has a dramatic impact when they’re, in fact, cutting services to the 400 series.

My pain goes out to the member from Kenora–Rainy River: Northern Ontario has been blasted, and their services have been cut as well.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate? Further debate?

The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I just wanted to make sure that my friends over there were comfortable.

I’m going to start off with the member from Northumberland–Quinte West. We, on this side of the House, in your judgment, are somehow anti-rural Ontario. Is that correct?


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I ask the minister to speak through the Chair.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, this is a curiosity that I’m sure Ontarians will enjoy exploring.

We’re spending $10 in rural Ontario for every dollar you spent on infrastructure when you were in government. They were at $1.9 billion total; we’re at $14 billion. We have just announced that we will be adding $29 billion on top of that $14 billion.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Durham, come to order. The member from Northumberland–Quinte West, come to order.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: So I just find this a laughable proposition. What does that say about them when they were paying one tenth of the amount of money invested?

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Point of order, the member for Kenora–Rainy River.

Ms. Sarah Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I ask that the Minister of Transportation please speak to the bill at hand.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I’d ask the minister to speak through the Chair and speak to the bill.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I will.

What that meant, Mr. Speaker, was that they were part of 30 years of government that so massively underinvested in highways that we ended up with highway systems that are not safe enough—certainly not what they can be.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member from Northumberland–Quinte West, come to order, for the second time.


Hon. Glen R. Murray: So, Mr. Speaker, the capacity of rural Ontario—the highway system is a really critical underpinning of this. We need to complete twinning highways, and we’ve committed to border-to-border twinning, all across Ontario, of the entire TransCanada system. That’s really important to safety. We have to improve the quality of the 11, the 17 and the 69, and finish the twinning of them. Our government is going to accelerate that. That’s one of the elements of safer highways and that’s one of the action plans.

But the other thing that’s a curiosity is, here we have the second opposition motion during private members’ business on transportation. There was the member from Thornhill, who wanted to form a committee to study something. Now the member from Kenora–Rainy River wants to have a committee to study something.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, having sat in this House every day—


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member from Northumberland–Quinte West, you’re warned.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: The irony of this—I’m sorry.


Hon. Glen R. Murray: Yes. The member from Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound had a committee, too. I don’t want to let him feel left out.

Mr. Bill Walker: But you disregarded that.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I didn’t actually interrupt them when they spoke. Maybe they could extend me the same courtesy.

What was curious about this is that these are the parties opposite who love to list how many committees we have—and they want to add three more. I’ve been listening to six months of attacks on the government—that we’re studying too much stuff, that we have too many committees—and I, as minister, now have three, not two—thank you for correcting me—more committees that I’m supposed to support. So I’m hoping the member from Kenora–Rainy River can explain what seems to be a somewhat contradictory position, that we as a government have way too many committees yet we should add not two but three more committees to study more stuff.

We agree, obviously, that studying things is a good thing, research is a good thing, evidence-based policy is a good thing, but you can’t have it both ways. Whether we have 31 committees, 35 committees or 37 committees—I’m all about committees. I like results—you know, good process—but maybe if you don’t want to be criticized for bringing forward private members’ bills for committees, on a two-way street you’d be a bit more respectful of the fact that we actually do use the consultative process.

But let’s go to what the problem is, Mr. Speaker. The problem is, we just went through a winter where the performance of winter maintenance contracts was not what we think it should be, and I dare say not what the member from Kenora–Rainy River thinks it should be. I’m going to suggest that we both agree with that, that the conditions were unacceptable.

They were particularly bad in the beginning of the winter. Why was that? We’ve had an evolution of what we now call stage 3 contracts. Why do we have stage 3 contracts? I know my critic in the official opposition will like to listen to this because since 1980, when we started privatizing things, particularly under the previous Conservative government, the ideological focus of it was to outsource it. We used to have something called “managed contracts.” These were private sector-delivered services, but MTO managed them. Some said it was the best of both worlds; some said it was the worst of both worlds, because it was all for-profit, but it cost the public sector a huge amount of money.

There was a statement made by former Premier Michael Harris where he said, “We have restructured government in a way so that you can never reverse what we did.” One of the examples that’s been used in Steve Paikin’s book, I believe, was that when you lay off 3,000 employees at MTO and you don’t leave a single truck, it’s very hard for the public sector to get back into the snow removal business. I give the opposition party credit. The Conservatives were very good. They so eviscerated public sector winter maintenance that it’s very expensive, when you don’t own a truck or a stick of furniture, to go back into the business again. They did that intentionally. I think the member for Kenora–Rainy River and I would agree that that was a bad thing, not a good thing.

What happened at that point is that the industry that is now suggesting wrongly—because we have the safest roads in North America, the safest roads in winter, which is incredible when you think we compete with Texas and California and places with higher population and less inclement weather. It’s remarkable that we and Ontario’s contractors and workers have maintained the safest roads in North America—the safest. This is not an issue of road safety. Our winter roads and our northern roads are the safest in North America, relatively. There are safety issues, but our number of fatalities—and one fatality is one fatality too many, but we do a better job than anywhere else. Is it perfect? No. But is it better than everywhere else? It is.

What’s interesting is that they’re performance-based contracts. The irony of what I’ve been hearing from the Ontario Road Builders’ Association is a complete contradiction. They lobbied for years to say the following—and I want my friend from Quinte West to listen to this: “We don’t want managed maintenance contracts. Stop telling us how many employees to have and how many trucks to have. Stop telling us and prescribing the system. Government, get out of the way.” This is what I hear from the Conservatives all the time. “Government should get out of the way and let the private sector do its job and deliver savings.” And they did. We’re at 25% less costs than we were in 1996. Why? Because politicians or officials at MTO said, “Let’s lower the budgets”? No, Mr. Speaker. It’s because competitive bidding, for 20 years now, has been lower and lower and lower.

The budget is not set by me or the ministry. It’s an open, competitive tendering process, and the lowest bidder that meets the standards wins. Everyone who holds those 22 maintenance contracts got it through an open competitive process where they said, “We could do X for this price.”

If you want to put more money into it—now, what do you say to the people who lost, who said, “I could do it, but I could do it for a higher price”? It makes no sense. So MTO, actually, in the last round of contracts was so concerned about this. We met with each contractor and said, “Are you really serious? You can do that?”

I have 32 standards that they have to meet, that they’re held accountable to, or they get fines. Every one of these standards is quantifiable. It’s a percentage of bare pavement; it’s a particular time frame. There is nothing to quibble about. These are not qualitative standards which are up to judgment. You set the standard for snow removal. You set what the grade is, how bare it has to be, how fast, how quickly you have to get there, and the circuit times.

My ministry is holding those contractors to account. Each of them that did not meet the standard of the contract that they signed, at the price they agreed to, is being fined. We have zero tolerance for unsafe roads. We have zero tolerance for contractors who sign a contract, win it over other bidders at a certain price, and don’t deliver. My concern is about opening up a whole bunch of pathways for people who are not meeting their contracts. The moment the contractors come to me or our ministry and say, “Minister, Ministry, we can’t meet the contracts,” we’ll open negotiations.

I am not satisfied with the system, so for the last several months, we have been looking at options. We have looked at the option of bringing things in-house. We are aggressively pursuing that very hard right now, because we do not have a single truck or driver in the public sector. So we’re looking at a second alternative, and I will be engaging at NOMA with municipal leaders.

I will be starting a consultation with northern members where our problems are, because in most of the province, we are not having problems with snow removal. It is in about four particular area-maintenance contracts that we have the problems. I’m going to suggest that maybe in places like Kenora, Dryden, Thunder Bay and Marathon, we should do what other jurisdictions do, like Minnesota, Virginia or Maine, where they actually fund the municipalities and they give the municipalities extra trucks and vehicles to maintain the highways in the area. It stays in the public sector, but you give more money, more capacity and more vehicles. We’re going to talk through FONOM and through NOMA about the possibility of a municipal-provincial partnership, so we would add that.

We added 50 vehicles in the north alone. North of the French River, we added 50 vehicles. I would just as soon put more vehicles and more equipment there. We don’t decide on the vehicles. We gave them $9.5 million and said, “How many more can you buy?” The contractor said 50; there are 50 more vehicles out there.

We’re also going to look at particular situations where we can bring it in-house. That’s a more challenging situation because of the devastation that was left behind from the previous government.

Managed contracts, we’re a little more skittish of, because that means greater public sector expenditure with less control. It means that we have to be a bit of a nanny state, and we don’t get much more savings.

I would say that in 80% of the province, this system is working very well. It’s delivering safe standards. The majority of our private sector contractors are meeting the same standards of performance, and I don’t get complaints in about 80% of the contracts. In 20% of the contracts, I had unending complaints, particularly in the member’s riding, where it was completely unsatisfactory.

In those areas where we had the greatest complaints, I am going to take the strongest measures. I believe that in northwestern Ontario, we need a new public-private partnership to deliver that. I’m not sure we need another committee. I appreciate and respect the member’s concern. I’m not, as minister, going to stand in the way of the formation of a committee. Whatever that process takes, I think it’s more important that we all work together in this House to get those results and change the system.


I’m going to be looking at in-house services and better standards enforcement for the contracts. Since we started doing the fines, even in the areas where we were having the problems we’ve now seen much better improvement, and the MTO staff reports 100% improvement in those areas with that.

I will work with the honourable member. If it’s through a committee, we’ll be open to that, but let’s get the results people deserve.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member from Kenora–Rainy River, you have two minutes and 39 seconds.

Ms. Sarah Campbell: Thank you, Speaker. I want to thank the Minister of Transportation as well as the members of this House who took the time to weigh in on this very important issue of highway maintenance across Ontario. I’d like to start by addressing some of the comments that were just made by the minister. Specifically, I’d like to start with his comments and skepticism about us needing another committee. It needs to be said. I tried to be nonpartisan when I was talking about this as much as possible, but I can’t help but address that issue head-on. The fact is that we wouldn’t need to create a committee if this issue had been dealt with by our present government in a timely manner.

The other thing is that I think we do need the committee because the issue is: It extends beyond these contracts. Yes, it includes issues like safety, the fines—the adequacy of the fines. I would argue that the fines are not adequate because they aren’t enough to act as a deterrent to have these contractors live up to their contractual obligations. We need to look at possibly some element of bringing this in-house. We need to look at the economic impact, not just for the public sector and for public monies that are being spent, but the impact that that’s having on private businesses. We need to look at highway classifications. I think that northerners need to weigh in on this, because they’re the ones who are travelling these roads each and every day.

I do agree with the minister that twinning is an essential part of safety; I agree with you on that. But to the same point, the people in the northwest around Kenora have been waiting for years and years and years. We’ve heard the announcement, the re-announcement and the re-re-announcement of the twinning of the Kenora highway, and we’re not seeing any movement on that file. If you talk to the community of Shoal Lake, you will see a very frustrated and stressed-out community because they’re not being consulted. That needs to move ahead.

Also, I don’t think that these long-term grandiose plans that we do need to consider should stand in the way of us having adequate highway maintenance right now. We haven’t had that twinning up until now; we have had satisfactory highways, so I don’t think that should stand in the way.

When it comes to road safety, the minister says that we have the safest roads in Canada, but I would respectfully say that you should talk to the people in Kenora who have to travel to Manitoba for medical appointments and everything else. They will see the line on the highway. They will see perfectly good highways in Manitoba; they will see really subpar, dangerous and slick highways in Ontario.

The other comment that I wanted to—oh, I’m going to run out of time. I wanted to address the Auditor General, but I will raise that later on in another debate this afternoon.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): We’ll take the vote on this item at the end of private members’ public business.


Mr. Norm Miller moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 190, An Act to amend the Auditor General Act / Projet de loi 190, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le vérificateur général.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.

Mr. Norm Miller: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I’m very pleased to have an opportunity to speak to my private member’s bill, Bill 190, An Act to amend the Auditor General Act. Just to give the explanatory note on it:

“The Auditor General Act is amended to permit the Auditor General to conduct special audits of public contractors. A public contractor includes any body or entity that delivers programs or services on behalf of the crown and that receives payment or financial assistance from the crown or another entity, or is empowered by the crown to collect fees for its services.”

I will give some background on why I feel it’s important to bring this private member’s bill forward. I’ve had the opportunity and the privilege to be Chair of public accounts since the election in 2011. It took a while for the committees to get formed; I believe it was in early 2012 that they were formed. For the last couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of being Chair of public accounts. The Auditor General actually sits on the committee, so you get to see up close and personal the work the Auditor General is doing.

The unusual thing in the past two years has been that typically the public accounts committee will look at the annual report that normally comes out in December of each year, put out by the Auditor General, and will pick sections of that report and spend the year, with the limited time that’s available, looking at those sections. The past two years pretty much have been solely devoted to the Ornge ambulance special report. As I say, that has been since 2011. That brought out some interesting concerns.

Also, there have been increasing demands on the auditor to do special reports. Since 2011, outside of the annual reports, there have been special audits completed on Ornge air ambulance, on the Mississauga power plant, on the Oakville power plant and, most recently, on the divestment of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

What this bill would allow is to follow the dollars into these organizations. With the specific nature of the audits into these organizations, it’s becoming more difficult to follow the dollars through organizations that receive public funds. With Ornge air ambulance in particular, the creating of for-profit subsidiary companies through Ornge Global proved to be a stonewall to the special investigation and provincial oversight.

Currently, when conducting audits, third-party service providers and indirect recipients of public funds are an area which the Provincial Auditor does not have access to. Some entities falling into these categories may comply with the results of the audit but could choose to provide only selected information. When this is the case, it is difficult to get a clear picture of where the funds are going. Those are public dollars we’re talking about.

One such example is with the recent investigation into the cost of the Mississauga power plant cancellation. The proponent, Greenfield South Power Corp., who was under contract to build the plant, submitted only select financial information for the investigation. The company, as the third party recipient of funds, could not be compelled to comply with such requests from the Auditor General.

The Auditor General is being asked for more specific tasks and more special audits. The public accounts committee recently passed a motion to have the Auditor General examine the winter roads maintenance program, the same topic that was just being discussed in the past private member’s bill in the last hour. If the current legislation remains in place unamended, it could pose problems for the auditor and their efforts to obtain key information on private contractors providing road maintenance. I know for a fact that the state of the roads was an issue across northern Ontario, and there is significant support for this review in particular. The contracts to be reviewed, after all, are with third party companies.

I might just note, specifically in the riding of Parry Sound–Muskoka, that the last two years have been a real challenge. The winters have been more challenging, but certainly the level of complaints that my office has received about winter maintenance has been significant. So this is important work the auditor will be doing, but the current legislation limits the ability of the auditor to do a thorough job in this investigation.

This limitation stretches to many areas where public bodies contract out service delivery to private or for-profit third party organizations. Specific areas where this information would be useful include details on profit margins, number of employees, and salaries paid to senior management. In fact, as we saw, executive compensation was a key component of Ornge as well, and it was one of the significant red flags in the whole Ornge situation.

Third parties can also include organizations such as charities and non-profit groups. There’s no doubt in my mind that this lack of information makes it harder for the auditor to do their job and affects the quality and completeness of the particular audit.


The auditor needs the correct tools to do the job. In this case, the current legislation can be improved to allow the auditor the ability to follow the dollar. Bill 190 would be an amendment to the Auditor General Act that would help to modernize legislation to meet the more complex and changing needs of audit requests. One of the components of the 2013 budget was the creation of a new office of the Legislature in the form of the Financial Accountability Officer. With the creation of this position, as well as the expansion of the Ombudsman’s oversight in the province, there is increasing potential for areas of overlapping jurisdiction between offices. Perhaps that’s another issue that needs to be addressed, so that we don’t have offices doing the same job. In fact, I know that to do with hydro bills right now, the Ombudsman is looking into that, and that’s also an area that the Auditor General is looking into.

Regardless of overlapping areas of oversight, as more oversight and transparency in government is surely warranted, it’s important that the Auditor General be able to complete their audits and make accurate recommendations to the Legislature. By expanding the scope of audits, governments can be better equipped to improve service delivery of programs funded by taxpayers, including getting better value and results for the money spent. This could, if done correctly, help to restructure practices to deliver better value for tax dollars. In other jurisdictions, similar offices benefit from this investigative power. Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia all have strengthened oversight to allow for third-party recipients of public money. There is currently tabled legislation in New Brunswick with this aim as well, to help the auditor uncover unethical practices and determine where public funds are not being well spent.

Reports from committees of the Legislature are even beginning to request that the auditor examine areas that current legislation does not reach to. As an example, in April 2014 Ontario’s Standing Committee on Social Policy released a report titled Diluted Chemotherapy Drugs. The report found that 1,202 patients at four hospitals in Ontario and one in New Brunswick who had undergone chemotherapy treatment had received diluted doses of particular drugs, and that the company supplying the drugs was unregulated. The contract to purchase these drugs was between the pharmaceutical company and a group purchasing organization called MedBuy. The hospitals were not a party to the purchasing contract for the product.

Group purchasing organizations are contracted with by various health care organizations, such as individual hospitals and groups of hospitals. The Auditor General does not have the authority to audit these purchasing organizations. The report—that’s the report of the Ontario Standing Committee on Social Policy—recommended that group purchasing organizations and shared service organizations be subject to audits by the office of the Auditor General of Ontario to provide oversight, in order to maintain transparency and accountability in procurement practices in the health care sector.

Tarion is another example, I know my colleague from Haldimand–Norfolk has a particular interest in that. I believe he’s going to speak to this private member’s bill and will discuss the implications of that in greater detail this afternoon.

When you take a look at Ornge and the special audits into the Mississauga and Oakville power plants, it is clear that a strengthening of the Auditor General Act is past due. I believe that it is a common-sense solution that will allow the Ontario Auditor General to better do their job, and I would hope that you would join me in supporting Bill 190.

I would say, in my last minute and a half or so, that the Auditor General is an office of the Legislative Assembly that is very much respected, and the work the Auditor General does is looked at as being nonpartisan. In our current system in Ontario and across Canada we don’t have that much financial oversight, especially if you compare us to municipalities even, which spend a good deal of their time looking at budgets and going through items line by line; or if you go to the States, the state legislatures seem to spend half their year looking at the finances of their particular state. That’s not true in Ontario, particularly when you have a majority government. We do have estimates committee, but they don’t really spend that much time actually looking at the finances.

In Ontario, we do have the Office of the Auditor General, and I think it’s well worth looking at the annual report done each year. You can always learn something from it. The government of the day can always improve the delivery of services, the cost-effectiveness of services, from the work done by the Auditor General, so it’s of great value.

I believe that our past Auditor General, Jim McCarter, who did the job for 10 years, and our new Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, who is doing a great job, have really done a very worthwhile job here in the province of Ontario. That work can be improved with the passage of this bill, so I hope that all members will support Bill 190.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Steven Del Duca: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I am really happy to have the chance to stand this afternoon and speak on Bill 190, the bill that has been brought forward by the member from Parry Sound–Muskoka. I had the chance, as did all of us here in the Legislature this afternoon, to listen to his opening and introductory remarks regarding this proposed legislation.

I listened closely to what the sponsoring member had to say, and I want to thank him for bringing this forward and also for speaking about this bill, not surprisingly, with a great deal of interest, because he is the sponsoring member, but also speaking in very measured tones about the importance of making sure that as a Legislature, as a government, generally speaking, we do what we can to provide those we have the privilege of representing with the kind of oversight and openness and transparency around the matters that take place in this Legislature.

So I do want to thank him for bringing the bill forward. I think it’s important for this kind of legislation to make its way to committee and pass at second reading, and that’s why I believe and I hope that it will today.

But I did want to talk a little bit about the fact that over the last 10 years, the Ontario Liberal government has spent a great deal of time taking advantage of every opportunity to provide the kind of transparency and openness regarding a wide variety of issues, particularly as it relates to financial and fiscal issues, and I’ve said this many times in the Legislature when I’ve had the chance to speak. Starting right back at the very beginning in 2003-04, in our very first budget, we took very significant steps to make sure that the people of Ontario, at every point in the future heading into an election campaign, would have the opportunity to know very clearly what the state of the province’s books was, which is only fair and only proper in terms of that kind of fiscal transparency and openness and accountability.

As you might recall, Speaker, that was done directly in response to what had, unfortunately, taken place prior to the 2003 election campaign, when a previous Conservative government chose to present information to the people of Ontario that did not speak very clearly to the fact that there was actually a $6-billion hidden deficit. We on this side of the House, and my predecessor, actually, the former member of provincial Parliament from Vaughan, Mr. Sorbara, in his first budget, took very significant and concrete steps to make sure that couldn’t happen ever again.

We also took very significant steps with respect to ending the practice of spending tens of millions of dollars on partisan advertising, using the taxpayers as the sponsors for that kind of advertising.

So I think it’s important to recognize, again, that over the course of the last 10 years, we have at every turn embraced and moved forward with a number of reforms, a number of initiatives that have actually provided the people of not only my community of Vaughan, but all 107 ridings, the people that we are all here to represent, with a great deal of confidence regarding what takes place here, knowing that what takes place here is done in the most open and transparent way possible.

I can also talk a little bit in the time that I have left about some of the other measures that we laid out in the same area, in the same vein, in budget 2013, in which we did provide a very strong plan to manage responsibility through improved accountability for effective results and value for money.

For example, in budget 2013, as many will recall, we included the requirement on a go-forward basis for the creation of a Financial Accountability Officer that will provide all members of this Legislature, regardless of which caucus they represent, with the kind of research ability and availability to make sure that the information that we have at our fingertips is provided in the most transparent and open way possible. We are now—and this has been said by others in this Legislature.


I am proud, on behalf of the government caucus, to be the representative on the committee that’s doing its work with respect to the hiring Ontario’s inaugural, as we call them, FAO—financial accountability officer. I sincerely hope that through the hard work of myself, the other two members representing their respective caucuses, the Speaker and others, we can arrive at a place in the shortest time possible from today to be able to announce who the inaugural FAO will be for the province of Ontario. I think it’s extremely important to make sure we have that individual in place as soon as possible.

People watching at home, from my community and beyond, will recognize that since she became the Premier of Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne has been very determined to make sure that she leads the most open and transparent government in Canada, if not beyond, and she’s done a phenomenal job, working alongside the government House leader, who is also the Minister of Government Services, to introduce a series of initiatives regarding making sure that government opens up.

The entire open government initiative, in fact, is something that I know I am very proud to be part of. Part of this general initiative that I referenced a second ago is also the accountability act, which is designed to strengthen political accountability, enhance oversight and also increase transparency. There are a wide variety of measures that will be contained in that particular legislation that will take us that one step further with respect to making sure we provide the kind of oversight and the kind of transparency and openness that the people of all our communities certainly expect and deserve.

As I said at the outset, I was really happy to have the chance to hear the member from Parry Sound–Muskoka in his opening comments. I thank him for bringing this bill forward. I do believe, from my standpoint, that this is something that should carry forward with the support of the Legislature today, to be reviewed and analyzed at committee—I believe that’s where it belongs—and I look forward to having the chance to hear some of the other dialogue and debate this afternoon.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Frank Klees: I want to commend my colleague Mr. Miller for bringing this important piece of legislation forward. As a member of the public accounts committee, I want to compliment Mr. Miller on his leadership as Chair of the public accounts committee over the last two years, as we have investigated Ornge in response to the Auditor General.

I also want to take this opportunity to commend both the former Auditor General as well as our current Auditor General, for the work they do in helping us, as opposition members, hold the government accountable.

I want to make this very clear: I do not believe that the legislation that’s being brought forward, which essentially simply allows the Auditor General to do the work that is expected of an Auditor General, and to ensure that the Auditor General has access to the information necessary to complete that task—this is not a partisan issue. This is not about the opposition versus the government, and there should be no defensive posturing on the part of the government related to this. In fact, what should happen is that rather than seeing this bill go through the typical private member’s bill process, it should really be adopted by the government and implemented immediately. Lord knows, we have serious transparency and accountability issues facing the government of the day.

I just want to put forward for the record, so that people who are watching this debate understand, precisely what this act will do. I will quote from the act: “Despite any other Act, the Auditor General is entitled to have free access to all books, accounts, financial records, electronic data processing records, reports, files and all other papers, things or property belonging to or used by a ministry, agency of the Crown, Crown controlled corporation, grant recipient or public contractor, as the case may be, that the Auditor General believes to be necessary to perform his or her duties under this Act.” That is the essence of this legislation.

Anyone observing this debate would have to question why that isn’t already part of the auditor’s authority. Let me read from the Auditor General’s report on Ornge—I think it just highlights the need for this legislation. Here’s what the Auditor General said about his attempts to get to the bottom of what was happening at Ornge. Multimillions of dollars of public funds that should have been focused on delivering an essential health care service in the province of Ontario were squandered, diverted and mismanaged. The Auditor General was attempting to do his job: to audit. But here’s what the Auditor General said, and I quote from his report:

“We were given access to only those documents relating to entities that were controlled by Ornge or of which Ornge was the beneficiary. We were refused access to the records of any of the other entities. Ornge’s management and the board advised us that this was because the ministry was not funding the other entities directly or indirectly (under the Auditor General Act, we are generally allowed access only to organizations funded by the government).”

Here’s the problem: The current act actually did not give the Auditor General access to those other corporations, and yet they were key to the waste and the squandering of public funds intended for our air ambulance service.

Again, from the Auditor General’s report: “[T]he scope of our work generally excluded any observations that we might have made had we obtained full access to these records.”

I believe the reason that this is so critical is that there is such a doubt in the mind of the average person in this province about the integrity of government itself. It’s no question that we have this kind of cynicism towards government and politics and politicians, because what is missing is a very fundamental principle in government, and that is the principle of transparency and accountability. It doesn’t matter which agency; it doesn’t matter what ministry; it is all taxpayers’ money. It is our position that regardless of how far down the line and through how many corporate veils the dollar that originates with the taxpayer may flow, the Auditor General should have the right to follow the money, to find out where it has gone and what it is used for, and to ensure that there is integrity in the public services that are being delivered. That is the essence of my colleague’s bill.

I’m pleased to support it. It is that straightforward. I trust that all members of the House will bring this to a positive vote. As I said, let the government take this on as its own bill. I’m sure my colleague will not be insulted by that. It will be in the best interests of the people of Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate? The member for Windsor–Tecumseh.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Thank you, Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to second reading of Bill 190, the Auditor General Amendment Act, introduced by the member for Parry Sound–Muskoka. It is indeed an honour to once again stand in this House and to bring the voice of my constituents in Windsor–Tecumseh to this Legislature; I take great pleasure in doing so.

I can attest to the fact that New Democrats are focused on putting people first and respecting the public purse. Our track record, I believe, speaks for itself on that matter. We know that the public entrusts us—all of us, as members of provincial Parliament, all 107 of us—with the honour and the privilege to serve on their behalf. That comes with the expectation that we, here in this House, are always looking to find opportunities and measures that would expand the accountability and transparency of government spending. We know, at least on this side of the House after seeing the Liberal circus of scandals in recent years, that it’s something that’s desperately needed.

I know that I haven’t been here all that long, but after seeing this government operate first-hand, it’s no wonder why there is legitimate skepticism about how money is spent in this province.


I know the people in Ontario not only want but deserve to know that their hard-earned tax dollars are not being wasted. That is why New Democrats have already brought forward some important accountability measures, and I know that we will continue to push for more.

I believe this bill, Bill 190, An Act to amend the Auditor General Act, will provide that overworked expression: “another tool in the tool box,” so to speak.

It will enable the Auditor General’s office to conduct special audits of public contractors. Currently, hundreds of corporations, boards, associations, consultants and other firms that receive millions of dollars of hard-earned tax dollars face no independent oversight. I was told that these contractors can be audited by the respective ministry, but the government doesn’t need to release that information to the public. This bill would change that.

This bill, if enacted, would mean that all those contractors would be subject to an audit by an independent officer of the Legislature, that independent officer, of course, being the Auditor General. But, Speaker, most importantly, the findings would be made public in the annual report of the Auditor General.

In short, this bill would allow us, the 107 members of the Legislature, those elected by the electorate, to have some oversight over spending on public contractors through our independent officer rather than just leaving that responsibility to the executive branch.

This bill would also require that public contractors be bound to provide information to the Auditor General as needed to conduct a special audit. That means contractors could not refuse to provide the right information at the right time for the right purpose. It would provide the Auditor General free access to review all papers, all property of public contractors, if the Auditor General’s office believed such access was necessary to perform its duties. I don’t see why you would need to hide anything, especially when you have the privilege of receiving government dollars.

Back to the member from Parry Sound–Muskoka and his proposed legislation, I will be supporting this bill on second reading and its referral to committee. However, I think it’s a bill that could be looked at more closely, double-checked and improved. We must make sure that loopholes for contractors to avoid being audited by the Auditor General are found, if they exist, and corrected, and that further debate and the right amendments are made to strengthen this bill.

Speaker, I’m just editing as we go here to make sure that others have as much time to speak as they need.

I trust the government members who are in this House this afternoon are listening and do appreciate the intent of the proposed bill and can find it within themselves to agree it’s not a bad idea, and should they feel the need to improve it, accept it now and pass it along to the committee stage for further refinement.

I commend the member for Parry Sound–Muskoka, a member whom I personally hold in high regard, for bringing forth this level-headed suggestion for improving the way we spend and account for the taxpayers’ money in this province.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: It is a pleasure to join the debate, and I do thank the member from Parry Sound–Muskoka for bringing forward this bill. I understand that its movement to the House was accelerated for some reasons that I think we would all support.

I think you can view this bill through a number of lenses, but certainly I, like a lot of people in this House, got my start in politics at the local level of government. I think if you’ve served on a council or if you’ve served on a school board or if you’ve served on any one of those levels of government that are closer to the people, that are closer to the community, and that have, in my humble opinion, a much more interactive relationship with their constituents, transparency is the order of the day. Transparency is something that is just part of the process. When you do your budgeting, you do it in public. When you do your consultations on the budgets, it’s done in public. When you’re doing the formation of the budget, you often go out to members of the community or to various stakeholders and ask for advice as to what should be in the budget and how that money should be spent once a tax rate is set. That becomes ingrained within you. I spent 18 years in that environment, and I’m quite comfortable with discussing the finances of whatever organization that I hold elected office to govern with the people in my constituency. I often interact with people in my own constituency office talking about various investments that are made, and talking about it in a very open way.

Now, I think we can go through the history of the country and probably any country, certainly in the western world, and find examples of where that hasn’t always been the case. I think what the member is doing here is he’s trying to put another arrow in the quiver, perhaps, of an arsenal of ever-improving budgetary methods of allowing for the process to become more transparent, for allowing the people who elect their representatives at any one of the levels of government to understand how their tax dollars are being spent, and to ensure that they’re being spent in a wise manner.

Right now, I think what we have is a Premier who certainly has made the case that as the leader of this province—as Premier—she is a person who wants to be open, who wants to be transparent, and she wants to improve accountability in this place, and to make that a priority for our government. And budget 2013, I think, laid a strong plan to manage responsibility through improved accountability for the effective results that we all want, and value for money.


Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I believe there’s a cellphone around me somewhere, Speaker. I can tell you it’s not mine. But there is one dinging somewhere. I’m casting a look at this black bag here.

Anyway, what we did in recent years is we went out to a very respected economist in the province of Ontario, to Don Drummond, and we asked him for some advice on how we could strengthen the accountability in the province of Ontario. Mr. Drummond, I think, comes with a pedigree as one who does not shy away from being frank, from being forthright and from being very, very blunt in his advice. When he brings forward advice, he expects it to be followed, and he’s quite clear about that as well. So I think with the advice that we’ve received from Don Drummond in this regard, we’ve been able to move forward in strengthening the accountability we have to the people of the province of Ontario in the expenditure of their dollars in a number of ways.

But most particularly, I think, I can point out five or six areas where there are clear examples where that has happened already. I think if you look now at the post-secondary educational system in the province of Ontario, you’ll see that discussions around the funding of those institutions now, and how that money is spent, are much more open. It generates a lot more debate, and that is something that we think is a good thing.

We introduced innovative new legislation, with the support of other parties in the House—and I think often with the ideas from some of the other parties in the House—to bring in what’s called a Financial Accountability Officer, that’s going to be an independent officer of this Legislature, that’s going to provide the analysis that we really need. I think Ontarians—and I think all three parties should share in this—should take some pride that we’re the first province in all of Canada to introduce this officer, to have this officer in the House. It’s going to better inform members; it’s going to provide that improved oversight that we need on fiscal performance. Other places around the world have this in place, but we’ll be the first in Canada. If you look at the UK, you look at Australia and you look at Sweden, they’ve had very, very positive experiences with people who have been introduced to this type of a way of dealing with financial accountability and openness.

We’ve instituted, also, a wide-ranging Open Government Initiative to modernize government in the province of Ontario, to improve accessibility and accountability.

Often people think that we should have a hard cap on senior executive compensation—we’ve done that.

We’re improving the public release of the members’ and the ministers’ expense reporting, and that is something that I think people have asked for, for a long time.

I will support the members’ bill. I think he’s done a good job—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you. Further debate?


Mr. Toby Barrett: Certainly, accountability and transparency are becoming an increasingly important topic of conversation, not only in this Legislature but also in the media. MPPs are increasingly calling on the Auditor General to conduct special assignments and audit organizations to uncover the inefficiencies we’re hearing about, unethical practices, and situations where public dollars are not being well spent.

But as we’ve just heard, there are certain situations in which the Auditor General does not have the authority to audit—for example, indirect recipients of public money, or third-party service providers funded by government-sanctioned fees, such as, by way of example, the Tarion Warranty Corp.

I have also been a member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts for several years now. I support Bill 190. I feel it would help our Auditor General do a more comprehensive job. We think of the example of Ornge air ambulance, with the number of private companies. There’s a list there as long as your arm.

Just to go back to Tarion and the home building industry, there are good builders in Ontario—certainly, down in Haldimand–Norfolk—but we do have the occasional marginal, the poor builder. Concerns have been expressed by a number of opposition MPPs—Rob Milligan, Frank Klees, Randy Hillier, Todd Smith, Ted Chudleigh and myself—concern over consumer protection.

MPP Ted Chudleigh voiced his concerns with respect to Tarion’s failure to come to a resolution with 14 homeowners with respect to HVAC—heating, ventilation and air conditioning—design and construction issues.

MPP Frank Klees’s office received many complaints regarding Tarion. He handed me an extensive file on Dr. Earl Shuman. It’s known as the Shuman Test fraud. It’s a 16-year-old battle, maybe going on 17 years now, between Dr. Shuman and Tarion. Rob Milligan has also been working on that particular case.

Motion 50 was put forward by MPP Randy Hillier to conduct a value-for-money audit of Tarion, again with respect to consumer protection.

MPP Todd Smith has petitions circulating, calling for the Auditor General to conduct a value-for-money audit as well.

I, as opposition critic for consumer services, introduced a formal order paper question last December. I asked the ministry when it will conduct a value-for-money audit on Tarion Warranty Corp. to enhance, again, transparency, accountability and governance of the corporation.

I received my response a week or so ago: “If the Legislature determines that the Auditor General should be asked to provide a third party value-for-money audit of Tarion, I will respect the will of the Legislature and welcome the recommendations that audit report may contain.” So the minister has thrown the ball back in our court, Speaker, and it’s incumbent on us to keep that in mind when it comes time to vote.

Many MPPs have been contacted by CPBH, Canadians for Properly Built Homes. They have been on the Tarion file for quite a while now. They have a number of concerns. They recognize that the organization is 38 years old. They feel there is a need for updates. They’re concerned about continued refusal to provide complete and easily accessible information to the public about builders’ performance records. They have concerns around governance, and the licensing of some of these marginal builders that I mentioned. They’re concerned about the quality of housing, in some cases, in the province of Ontario, and the lack of technical standards around HVACs, for example.

I’ve received a number of emails recently through this organization. From April 4, 2014: “The fact that money had to be paid for repairs is the very information that a prospective homebuyer would be looking for to assess a builder’s performance, and that is not accurately represented in our case.”

On April 5, I received an email. The question was posed: “Is your builder performance information on the Tarion site now accurate?” The answer: “No, it is not accurate, and below is a copy of our builder’s record. Tarion has pursued our builder in court to recover over $42,000 paid out on our home yet they will not post this amount.”

So, Speaker, whether it’s condominiums or houses or townhouses, we as MPPs do receive requests from consumers with respect to Tarion. We have to ensure and help enhance the reputation of the building industry. It’s time to shine some light on the Tarion home warranty corporation, and, again, all to the good with respect to transparency and accountability—

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you. Further debate?

Ms. Sarah Campbell: It is a pleasure to be able to rise and speak on behalf of the people of Kenora–Rainy River and weigh in on this bill, Bill 190.

Bill 190 will enable the Auditor General to conduct special audits of public contractors and to report on any findings of impropriety that the Auditor General’s annual report would show. Currently, the Auditor General Act does not permit the auditor to perform a special audit of a public contractor. A public contractor, of course, includes any body or entity that delivers programs or services on behalf of the crown and that receives payment or financial assistance from the crown, or is empowered to collect fees for its services.

It’s important to note that New Democrats are focused on putting people first and respecting the value of Ontarians’ money, and we support measures to expand accountability in government spending. That’s why we pushed to establish the Financial Accountability Office in the last budget. The Financial Accountability Officer will provide independent analyses of the state of the province’s finances, including the budget and economic trends, as well as examining other matters by request of MPPs or committees.

It’s also why a colleague of mine, Gilles Bisson, was able to bring forward his private member’s bill, Bill 134, which is the Broader Public Sector Advertising Act, which will allow the Auditor General to review advertising by agencies such as Hydro One, OPG and other government agencies, corporations and publicly funded organizations, and that covers organizations such as Metrolinx, Pan Am and Ornge.

This bill would also provide oversight by way of the Auditor General to thousands of boards, associations, consultants and other firms that receive hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money but face no independent oversight.

The Auditor General does outstanding work, and it’s also important to note that her reports command a lot of respect and that when she issues a report, MPPs and the government take notice. But that said, the scope of her review will be limited to examining value for public money. In the case of reviewing private winter highway maintenance contracts, as was referenced in his remarks by the member who brought this bill forward, this review that is conducted by the Auditor General will not be completed fast enough, because the fact is that we do need to examine winter highway maintenance now by establishing a select committee that can undertake this work immediately and issue recommendations that can be implemented in advance of the next winter season, but this report will also lack the scope to address some of the root issues of poor highway maintenance. It won’t be able to look at the aspects of safety, fines that are in the contract, say public versus privatization, the economic impact in the region or highway classifications.

We need to expand the review to include the human impact, namely that of safety, that we’re experiencing as a result of poor highway conditions, and also the economic impacts, as I mentioned, of poor highway maintenance on our regional economy, such as the impact that it has on the bottom line of private businesses.

In Kenora–Rainy River, a local general freight carrier came to my office to discuss with me the economic impact that his company is having as a result of poor highway maintenance, and I wanted to read into the record some of the comments he addressed to me in a letter.

He writes, “I believe the highways in northwestern Ontario have been left in unsafe and virtually impassable conditions on many occasions this winter. We have customers in Sioux Lookout, Hudson, Dryden, Red Lake, and soon to be again, Ear Falls which require our trucks to travel on Highways 11, 71, 17, 10, 502 and 72....


“With the conditions of these highways, namely 502, if we wanted to go to Hudson and pick up a load with a US destination, we would have to travel 150 miles further than we normally do to complete the haul. It is not difficult to understand that 150 miles at $3 a mile is $450 that we lose every time we have to go to Sioux Lookout, Dryden, Ear Falls or Red Lake. The reason we incur this extra cost is due to the fact that our professional drivers refuse to travel on Highway 502, as they feel it is unsafe to do so. It is my responsibility, with Labour Canada and the WSIB, to ensure a safe environment for my employees to work in....

“We have had three accidents this year which were attributed to the poor road conditions. The loss we have incurred due to these conditions is astronomical, in the amount of over $75,000.”

As important as his concerns are, they won’t be considered by relying exclusively on the Auditor General’s report on highway maintenance, and my point is that this bill, which extends the Auditor General’s oversight, is an important step in addressing key issues like inadequate highway maintenance, but it isn’t the complete answer and we still need to conduct an immediate review of these contracts by experts and the public alike, in advance of next winter.

In summary, I think this is a good act. I think it’s a step in the right direction. Nobody in my caucus will argue with the fact that we need to have more oversight, and we need to have more accountability of the dollars that are being spent, not just in the wake of the recent scandals that we’ve seen by this Liberal government, but we need to have mechanisms in place to have this oversight no matter which government is in power. For that reason, I will be supporting this bill, but I encourage members to also note that we have some other important issues that are facing the province and facing the north and that this isn’t the be-all and end-all, and we need to continue on with the select committee.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Parry Sound–Muskoka, you have two minutes for your response.

Mr. Norm Miller: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to all the speakers who commented on the bill: the member from Vaughan; the member from Newmarket–Aurora, who talked a lot about Ornge, which he’s been so involved with, and how at Ornge I think he said the work of the Auditor General was hindered by the current legislation and that if this bill was passed, it would allow the auditor to follow the dollars. In the case of Ornge, all the money was public money, but part of it was being sent into these companies that were created, and the auditor couldn’t follow that money. With this legislation, the auditor would be able to follow the dollars.

The member for Windsor–Tecumseh was supportive of the bill, and I thank the Minister of Labour as well, who talked about his experience at the local level of municipal politics for 18 years and how you do spend a lot more time looking at the finances in a closer view. I think what he was saying is that that doesn’t happen as much here at the provincial level.

I also note the member from Haldimand–Norfolk talked a lot about the Tarion Warranty Corp. I note that since Tarion is not designated as a crown agency, the Auditor General currently does not have the authority to audit Tarion. If this bill passes, the auditor would have the authority to audit Tarion.

I also thank the member from Kenora–Rainy River for her support, and I do think it would be of benefit if this bill passed in terms of the auditor’s work looking into winter road maintenance contracts, and it would include items such as safety and the specific contracts.

Lastly, I would just say that we already have places like BC, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, and three jurisdictions in Australia that allow this, and I think it would allow our fine Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk to do her work better if this bill passes.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you. We will take the vote on this item at the end of private members’ public business.


Mr. Delaney moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 182, An Act to proclaim the month of June as Ontario Bike Month / Projet de loi 182, Loi proclamant le mois de juin Mois de la bicyclette en Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.

Mr. Bob Delaney: Thank you very much, Speaker. One is of course cognizant of the fact that this is the final private member’s bill before the House rises for Easter. Members may not be surprised if I choose not to take the entire 12 minutes.

I guess one of the first things I’d like to do is say a personal hello back home to my lovely spouse, Andrea Seepersaud. It was in fact a bike ride that was really our first date together, so good afternoon to Andrea.

You know, so many of us have simply grown up with our bicycles. When I was first asked by my caucus colleagues and other friends, would I sponsor this bill to proclaim June as Ontario Bike Month, I thought to myself, “You mean there isn’t an Ontario Bike Month?” Sure enough, this will be the act that proclaims June as Ontario Bike Month.

Now, one should be cognizant of the fact that this really isn’t that loaded a bill. The entire operative part of this bill, Bill 182, says that it proclaims June of every year as Ontario Bike Month. That’s it. It isn’t so much what the bill says as how it empowers people to do something with the bill.

So if you’re a group of cyclists, this is something that’s going to say to you, “You know something? Somebody just proclaimed June as Ontario Bike Month. Why don’t we get together and have an event? Why don’t we organize a ride? Why don’t we do something for charity? Why don’t we get some of our kids involved? Why don’t we hope it doesn’t rain that day?”

This is something that is going to stimulate the imagination of so many people in Ontario for whom a bicycle is really an extension of their legs. I was one of those as I grew up, and it’s one of the things that brought me some of the greatest joy in life.

To give you a couple of statistics, there are about 600,000 Ontarians who are daily cyclists. Presumably, these people have not been cycling in the dead of this icy cold winter. I am assuming that Ontarians, being a very level-headed, healthy lot, will recognize that there are some days when it’s really better to leave the bike in the garage and take transit or even, heaven forbid, drive to work. But I think the safety part of it is very important.

About one in 20 Ontarians report riding their bike on a more or less daily basis, and that’s a number that’s actually up. We may look at some of the ads we see and the news reports, and wonder whether or not we’re becoming more or less sedentary, particularly as we have an aging population. But at least we’re getting better at this, relative to cycling. Roughly one in 25 of us used our bikes a generation ago. Today it’s roughly one in 20.

In fact, on a weekly or a monthly basis, nearly one in three Ontarians says, “Yeah, I bike either weekly or monthly,” and that number is also up from just two years ago. About two out of three Canadians—a number up from around 53% in 2011—would actually prefer to bike more often. That’s encouraging.

Most Ontarians believe that we do need more bike lanes or paved shoulders, with more than three quarters of us in support of better cycling infrastructure. So, presuming the passage of this bill by the Legislature, we’ll have the month of June annually in which we, as cyclists, can talk to our cities, talk to the feds, talk to our province, to our MPs, MPPs and city councillors and say, “Let’s make it a little bit better for all of us who ride bikes. Let’s make it a little bit safer for all of us who ride bikes.” If we can make it better and safer, then more of us will ride bikes. That’s exactly the virtuous circle that we’re here to promote.

Three quarters of people in Ontario agree that cycling gets people out of their cars. If you get people out of their cars, clearly you have fewer cars on the road. You’ve got better transit choices. If more people are riding transit, then there will be more transit. Indeed, we find that at the three GO train stations serving western Mississauga—Lisgar, Meadowvale and Streetsville—there are bike racks at all of them. So if you ride your bike to the GO train station, not only can you lock up your bike at the GO train station, but you can also bring your bike with you on the GO train or on the GO bus. If you need to do so, you can cycle your way to where you take the GO train or GO bus and when you get off the GO train or the GO bus, you can get back on the bike and you can finish your trip to your destination.


Nearly all of us are in support of government funding toward local active travel efforts, including the development of school travel plans for schools across the province. Who never rode their bike to school? I rode my bike to school fairly often. I remember riding on a weekly basis back and forth when I lived in Montreal, from our home in the city of Pierrefonds to Concordia University, and that was about an hour and a quarter ride. It didn’t rain on me too often, but it was a nice ride first thing in the morning, and it got me to school before transit could get me to school. I was able to stay at my grandmother’s house during the week, so I could just haul along in my backpack everything I needed for the week, ride in and I would have my bike there to commute to and from school, which was only about an eight- or 10-minute ride. On Friday afternoon, I’d hop back on the bike and ride home again. It kept me in good shape. It was a good way to get in shape for hockey, because as they say, you don’t play hockey to get in shape, you have to get in shape to play hockey. About three quarters of us agree that bike share programs not merely alleviate gridlock but play a vital role in our transportation systems.

So those are just some good reasons why having an annual Bike Month is going to be good for Ontario, is going to be good for the people in Ontario and is going to spur some really interesting and imaginative things from cycle clubs and from youth groups who say, “Let’s get some people together.” There’s a lot we can do with this. There’s a lot that we can do for cycling, and there’s a lot that cycling can do for each and every one of us as Ontarians, to help us get in shape, to help us stay in shape and to help us ease the traffic on roads and build a better Ontario together by celebrating Bike Month every year during the month of June. Thank you very much.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate.

Mr. Norm Miller: I’m pleased to have a few minutes to talk about Bill 182, An Act to proclaim the month of June as Ontario Bike Month. Certainly, I will be supporting the bill. I think it’s important to do what we can to promote cycling in the province of Ontario, and that has many benefits, particularly health benefits. You know, a lot of us are not active enough, and by creating more safe places to cycle, that provides an opportunity for people to have more active lifestyles and be healthier. In fact, 69% of Ontarians have said they would like to cycle more, up from 53% in 2011. That’s a 16% increase over two years, but we do need to do more to encourage individuals to exercises and take up active transportation.

Physical inactivity alone is directly associated with $1.6 billion in annual health care costs in Canada, or 1.5% of all Canadian health care costs. So I think anything we can do to promote activity is a good thing, and if making June Bike Month encourages more people to look for an opportunity to cycle, perhaps they’d want to do some cycling tourism. If they were going to do that, I’d certainly highly recommend they go to Parry Sound–Muskoka to take advantage of cycling in the beautiful area around the lakes around Parry Sound–Muskoka. I, of course, have had a private member’s bill that has passed second reading a couple of times to do with paved shoulders, the idea behind that being to create more safe places to cycle and to get the benefits that derive from that, namely the health benefits I’ve just spoken of, safety for cyclists—and for car and truck vehicles as well. Certainly, reduced maintenance costs for the roads—and, of course, tourism benefits. So if you’re coming to Parry Sound–Muskoka or the couple of places I’ve been on cycling tourism holidays—which was Prince Edward county for a couple of days’ stay, where my wife and I took bicycles and kayaks along. We kayaked in the morning and cycled in the afternoon. You do look for places that are safe. In particular, that’s usually places that will have paved shoulders to make an opportunity to, in that case, ride around to various vineyards and see all the new vineyards in Prince Edward county or in Niagara—that’s the other place I’ve managed to go on a cycling trip, and there happened to be vineyards there as well, and some pretty good cycling infrastructure and places to ride.

I certainly encourage people to get out and cycle more, and hopefully spring will arrive soon so we’ll have an opportunity to do that in the month of June and enjoy getting outside and getting more activity. I know that most of us sitting around this Legislature could stand to get some more exercise.

The member for Mississauga–Streetsville is a goalie for the Legiskaters, so I agree with what he says: “You don’t play hockey to get in shape; you get in shape to play hockey.” That’s what he said. “You don’t play hockey to get in shape.”

I look forward to his bill passing second reading.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I want to commend my friend from Mississauga–Streetsville for bringing in this bill—a pretty obvious one, as he says himself. Of course, we’re going to support it.

I also want to say, before I get into anything else, happy Easter weekend to all my colleagues.


Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Yes. Happy Passover, of course, for those of our Jewish friends. Really celebrate with your family this weekend. It’s been a pleasure and an honour to serve with all of you. So I just wanted to get that out there.

I have this image of myself as I get older, and it’s amazing how being old gets kind of older every year.


Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Exactly.

Say that you can’t drive anymore—not that you need to drive or even want to drive, but there are these wonderful Danish bikes—I think they’re called niholas—that are cargo bikes. I remember reading an interview with the designer that said that he designed the bike so they would carry a case of 24 or a small child. You’ve got to love the Danes—both very good things to carry, I would warrant.

In my case, of course, the kids are grown up. I don’t have any grandchildren yet. I pray for that blessed day. But we have a dog, and I like the image of myself driving around in one of those niholas with my dog in the front, and actually riding to Queen’s Park with that. So at any age, at any stage, biking is a good thing.

On that, I just want to also commend the Minister of Transportation on the Ontario bike plan. The member from Eglinton–Lawrence and I were on a panel at Share the Road the other day—and I want to acknowledge that Eleanor McMahon is here from Share the Road—a wonderful day. We spoke there about the joys of cycling, and how we really want to see this rolling out.

I pointed out, on that panel, that way back in 1992 was the first cycling program under the NDP government. It has taken more than 20 years to get another one going, so we really hope that not just the government but all parties in the House are really committed to seeing an Ontario bike strategy roll out and become a fact, because we’re really behind.

Quebec has done a much better job at this; I think we can all acknowledge that. Montreal is far ahead of Toronto in this regard. We have catch-up to do; we really need to catch up.

I want to thank them for incorporating, of course, my one-metre-passing rule that was introduced in 2010 and is now part of the bill—again, catch-up.

I also want to mention the mandatory side guards on trucks that then-MP Olivia Chow, now mayoral candidate, has called for on the federal level. There’s a lot we can do; there’s a lot we need to do, legislatively, to make cycling safer, because the one reason most Ontarians do not cycle is safety. The one reason that most Ontarians don’t dust off their bikes, get on them and go from point A to point B is because they’re frightened—and with good reason.


I want to send out our Girls Government this year. Folk here know—and many have also run Girls Government programs in their own ridings—that I run a Girls Government program. This year the girls themselves came up with this and picked cycling safety, and they did so for a reason. They did so for a very particular, personal reason. Some of them were from Swansea Public School where they lost a teacher, Tom Samson. It was tragic. A grade 2 teacher was killed on his cycle. He’s not alone; there are many deaths on cycles, as we know.

Again, while that continues, people will be afraid to get on their bikes and actually go somewhere, because it is scary. Let’s face it; it is scary. Both of my children cycle. They’re downtowners, downtown Torontonians, and they cycle as their major mode, their only mode, of transportation, 90% of the time. They are young adults, and I fear for them. I fear for them. Both of them have had accidents. Both of them have been doored—we all know what dooring is. This new bill brings in a higher fine for that. Again, this is the reason people are scared to get on their bikes. Perhaps naming a month is a good thing; it heightens awareness. It will really bring home to all of our legislators—city, federal, provincial—that we really need to do more to keep cycling safe.

What does that look like? What does it look like to have a safe cycling city? I’ve been lucky enough to go to Sweden with my husband. Anybody who has gone to Scandinavian countries will see it—of course, social democrat here, unabashedly—absolutely designated lanes, not just painted on the road, but actually cut off from traffic. What does that mean for cyclists? It means people actually feel safe to cycle everywhere. And what is the result of that? Hundreds more folks cycle every day. This is what we should all be about. It’s not just about cycling—and this was raised, really, at the Share the Road conference. It’s about the environment. It’s about exercise. It’s about childhood obesity rates. It’s about so much more than just cycling. All of these things are helped. All of these various portfolios are helped if we just get people on bikes.

I went to a ward 7 council meeting in my riding the other night, and there was a wonderful program that was highlighted, that’s happening in one of our schools now, where they train kids on how to maintain bikes, on how to actually build bikes—really; they learn what the mechanics are that go into building bikes—and on how to ride bikes safely. It’s a course offered in school. Wow. Imagine. We spend $800 million every year on busing kids to school. That’s $800 million more than we spend on teaching kids how to cycle to school and making it safe for kids to cycle to school. Also, these kids are learning a trade. They’re learning a trade. What a brilliant program. They were presenting this to elementary school principals and parents who are active—a wonderful idea. I would love to see that move throughout the school system—and CultureLink was there too, which is running a great program in Toronto where they actually raise money to give bikes to kids. This is also a wonderful program because many kids in the inner city and other cities do not bike because they can’t afford to buy one.

We need to put bikes in the hands of children. We need to encourage them and we need to make it safe for them to get from their home to school and back. It used to be the way. It used to be more of the way than it is now. Now you see, every morning at an elementary school, tons of cars driving up, a total traffic jam as parents drop their children off. Again, I come back to the safety issue. I don’t begrudge parents doing that, because I know that their major concern is the safety of their children. We have to make it safe for children to bike to school. That’s an extension of this program as well.

Certainly, we endorse recommendations in the Ontario coroner’s report, which says to “guide the redevelopment of existing communities and the creation of new communities throughout Ontario” and “creation of cycling networks” and “designation of community safety zones,” and the whole idea of “complete streets,” which we really need to incorporate. The idea we should all have of the downtown core of any city is an almost car-free zone. It is a zone where people can walk and can cycle, and it’s safe to do so. Delivery vans are there. Working vehicles are there.

Again, this is not a pipe dream. This is not utopia. Go to Europe. Look at most European downtowns and you’ll see exactly what I’m describing, lived out. Again, we’re behind on this file. We need to catch up.

Yes, absolutely, we support the initiative to make June Bike Month and commend the work there. Also, the Minister of Transportation wasn’t in the room when I said it, so thank you for incorporating my one-metre rule—three-foot rule in the States—into this bill.

Again, to the Girls Government this year at Swansea and James Culnan: Thank you so much for raising cycle safety. It was a wonderful discussion we had here at Queen’s Park, when they came to Queen’s Park. It’s great to see kids take this on. They took it on for a reason and again, I’m going to mention his name: Tom Samson. I’m going to mention Olivia Chow’s initiative on mandatory side guards. We need that. That’s federal.

We need to act, folks. Yes, it’s one thing to mention a month, and that’s a good thing, but we really need to act, and act quickly. We can’t wait four years to have the one-metre rule put into place. We can’t wait for another death to make cycling safety a priority in our communities. We really can’t wait, for environmental reasons, as I’ve said, and for childhood obesity reasons, to put cycling safety and cycling priority into the educational envelope. Again, $800 million on school buses, and how much on cycling safety or cycling to school? We can’t have that kind of differential. We really need to do this.

As I say, as I started out, I still hold to that image of getting rid of the cars, having my nihola, my dog in the front—or a case of 24, as the designer said—cycling to Queen’s Park and back safely, which I cannot do right now. I could not do that right now, cycle in to Queen’s Park and back safely. Wouldn’t it be great to look out in the parking lot of Queen’s Park and see more bicycles than cars? Wouldn’t that be great? That’s what we’re all aiming for here. That’s not going to happen until safety is not only required but absolutely guaranteed for every cyclist.

Again, does it take money? Absolutely, it does, but actually, it’s an investment because it saves money. You’ve got to think like economists and not like bookkeepers here. You put money in; you get more money out. You put money into a cycling program; you save a whole lot more down the road. You save it on medical costs; you save it on environmental costs. Put the money in; get the money out.

Again, do we support the member from Mississauga–Streetsville in this? Absolutely, we do. We just want to see much more, much faster, much sooner.

Here’s to cycling. Here’s to the nihola and the inventor of cargo bikes. Here’s to a downtown that’s safe and environmentally friendly. Here’s to schools where kids can cycle back and forth. Here’s to all of that. Here’s to the future. Let’s have that future sooner.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Mike Colle: I just want to say that it’s a pleasure to speak to Bill 182 from the member from Mississauga–Streetsville, and also the other members who spoke, who had their own private members’ bills. The member from Muskoka had the bill about paved shoulders, and the member from Parkdale–High Park had her bill about the one-metre rule, which is very important too. So they are dedicated to making a shift here.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, coming from a municipality of Scarborough, which has the largest national park in Canada right in the city—you’ve got one right at your back door, the Rouge national park. You could spend a whole day cycling in Scarborough and never see a human being. So if you want to cycle, go to the Rouge national park. It’s an amazing place—and Scarborough in itself, along the waterfront too.

Anyway, this bill is really a bill that gives an opportunity to promote cycling. It’s not for all the reasons, which are valid, that have been mentioned about safety—which is critical, more awareness about safety; the health aspects. But I want to talk a bit about the economics of cycling.

Not enough of us realize that there is an incredible economic mini-boom happening in cycling. I have one of the world’s leading bike manufacturers in the world in my riding, so I know it full well. It’s called Cervélo. Cervélo will sell bikes to the whole world, which is an amazing change. Because of the competitive labour rates, we have bikes that are imported from Taiwan and everywhere else, and it’s difficult to compete. On the other hand, when we produce quality products like Cervélo does, some of their products—Mr. Speaker, hold your hat—can sell for about $25,000. People buy these bikes for $25,000 because they are space-age quality products. That’s right here. It’s a $30-million-plus company—one little company. There are others, but most of the economics of cycling go to the retail end and the service end.


There are over 500 bicycle retail outlets in southern Ontario that we’ve counted—500 outlets. That’s people working—paycheques—selling, fixing bikes and parts—500. They are all over the place.

I was going up Christie Street the other day; it was one of those sunny days we had. There was a young man on the corner, right by Fiesta Farms there. He had a sign up that said, “I’ll give you a spring tune-up for your bike.” So people were lined up down Christie as this young man—very industrious—was tuning up bikes.

This type of thing is happening in back alleys, on streets like Harbord, St. Clair, Bathurst, all over the city of Toronto, and I’m sure all over Windsor and Kitchener, where people are starting their own businesses, small businesses—entrepreneurial people who are all over the place who are either repairing bikes, selling bikes and selling bike accessories. You go to Mountain Equipment Co-op and half the place is full of bike accessories. So people are in the economy of the bicycle big time.

The other big part of the economy of cycling is in economic tourism impacts; it’s about a $400-million-a-year industry. So if you want to attract tourists to Prince Edward county or you want to attract tourists in the Niagara Peninsula, or you want to attract them to Mississauga, or you want to attract them to York region or—

Mr. Rob Leone: Cambridge.

Mr. Mike Colle: —Cambridge—a beautiful place to cycle. You have to acknowledge there are people with money who will come to your place if it’s safe and available for their bicycles.

They even have a program with Via that you can go on the GO train, you can take your bike on the GO train and go to Niagara, get off, and cycle Niagara—a beautiful place in Ontario to cycle.

All over Ontario, they’re getting it. In Ottawa, there’s a great place for cycling up the canal. I’ve got pamphlets here from the Niagara region, from Bruce county, from Northumberland and Ottawa.

But part of the problem is that you have to make it inviting. You have to welcome the cyclists because the cyclists will come. They will eat. They will stay in a bed and breakfast. They will drink the wine, eat the food and eat the cheese, the local cheese from those parts of Ontario. It promotes local tourism big time. It’s also a very important way of promoting this great province. They do it in Quebec. They do it all over Europe. You can go on bicycle tours in Holland and Denmark.

There’s big money in cycling. It’s not just a namby-pamby thing: “I’m going to get a bike and it’s great.” Yes, but it’s big business, Mr. Speaker.

Scarborough could have a business explosion. Invite cycling industries to come into Scarborough. “Cycle the Rouge.” I don’t see any signs there that say, “Come to the Rouge and cycle; bed and breakfast; stop and eat; have something to eat; have a glass of wine; get on your bicycle.” This is what we should be doing.

There are business opportunities in cycling. They’re huge, and that’s why I recommend that this bill will help promote the business aspects of cycling. Really, it’s the safety, it’s the health aspects, but it’s also the business of cycling. It’s a very important new area of investment that we can make.


Mr. Mike Colle: They are telling me time is out, but I just want to thank Howard Brown and Eleanor McMahon for their advocacy through Share the Road.

I want to thank the Minister of Transportation for pushing safety with cycling, with the fines for dooring. We can finally, maybe, cycle on paved shoulders. One day we’ll have a big glass of wine with my friend from Muskoka when that happens. When the dooring fines come in, we’ll have another glass of wine, so we’ll be cycling and drinking wine all through Ontario and having a great time.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mrs. Jane McKenna: It’s my pleasure to join the debate on Bill 182, An Act to proclaim the month of June as Ontario Bike Month. I’ll be supporting this bill, Speaker, but I’ll also say that Bill 182 was a reminder of this government’s belated and limited commitment to active transportation.

According to Statistics Canada, the proportion of people cycling to work province-wide—what the wonks refer to as modal share—has been stagnant since 2001. Specific markets have racked up even less impressive results. My riding of Burlington is one of them as part of the Hamilton census metropolitan area, or CMA.

StatsCanada data showed that the share of people cycling to work in the Hamilton CMA dropped by 22% between 2006 and 2011. It is now 0.7%, lower than it was in 1996 and around half the provincial average, Speaker.

Why is this? One reason is perceived risk. In November, the CBC reported that Hamilton roads were among the most dangerous in the province. The injury rate for Hamilton cyclists is up to 81% higher than the provincial average, Speaker. Yet despite that reality, Hamilton has been named a silver medal Bicycle Friendly Community. Burlington only rated a bronze.

Clearly, award plaques and photo-ops do not protect cyclists or promote cycling. If this province is serious about increasing the rate of cycling, cities should be encouraged to follow best practices, such as designing streets with continuous bike routes, which is a proven way to increase the rate and safety of cycling. This gets people out of cars where possible, which makes traffic flow more efficient and makes the best use of our streets.

Yet this Liberal government has historically been incapable of making substantial changes that would actually promote increased daily cycling. Remember that the cycling strategy this bill aims to support was only slightly more substantial than the bill not so long ago. Bill 182 is three pages long. The government’s draft cycling strategy was just four pages of a 17-page document released quietly in a Friday news dump six weeks after the House was prorogued—not a very bold commitment.

There are many benefits to cycling: better health, reduced urban traffic congestion, and even opening up economic development opportunities. A study from the New York Department of Transportation released last year linked protected bike lanes to an increase in retail sales. Similar results were found five years ago in the Annex here in Toronto.

None of us spends our day using only one way of getting around. The same person may rise early for a jog, take transit to work, take a walk on their lunch hour, drive their kids to a recital, and bike with friends on evenings or weekends. The province needs to do more to support each of these options and, in doing so, deepen the health and vitality of communities. Doing so will give people the comfort and confidence to cycle daily, not just on sidewalks, not just on trails and not just on weekends. But without clear goals, well-defined priorities, secure funding and the will to act, even a 20-year plan will end up delivering more of the same old, same old.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Helena Jaczek: I’m delighted to rise and support Bill 182, brought in by my colleague the member for Mississauga–Streetsville.

Certainly, as a former medical officer of health, the benefits of cycling are extremely obvious to me. First of all, there are those health benefits, obviously: reducing the risk of things like obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. All those are obvious. It’s a way of promoting a healthy lifestyle and getting some exercise in what, I think, we would all agree is an extremely pleasurable way.

The only problem, as our colleague from Parkdale–High Park has pointed out, is the safety issue. I also have a daughter who cycles everywhere in Toronto. Of course, she always wears her helmet. This is a good opportunity to remind everyone that, even if not required for adults, it’s a very sensible thing to do in case you run into a situation.

Your daughter, the member from Parkdale–High Park, experienced a dooring situation. My daughter was hit by a taxi. She went right over the hood of the taxi. Luckily, she was not hurt, but it obviously was a very frightening situation.

We are balancing the health benefits with safety issues.


I’m very pleased to say that the regional municipality of York, where my great riding of Oak Ridges–Markham is situated, has really taken a leadership role. I think a lot of people think of York region as the land of the car. We are trying earnestly—the lower tier municipalities and the regional level have been working very hard on ensuring that people have the opportunity to cycle safely. In fact, the region of York has already declared June as Bike Month.

A number of celebrations are happening in York region. The York Region District School Board is promoting Bike to School Day on June 12. Also, we have Bike to Work Day, which is being held and celebrated in both Toronto and York region on May 26 to, again, promote.

All these little pieces, of course, are promotional, marketing and encouraging kinds of initiatives. What we need is the type of infrastructure investment that my good friend the Minister of Transportation announced earlier this week. I think this is a tremendous step forward: the type of funding announcement but, more importantly, the requirement that any and all new roadwork projects in Ontario include a cycling infrastructure component—very, very important.

The city of Markham, a number of years ago did, in fact, through all three levels of government, commit to developing an eight-foot-wide cycling path all around the city of Markham, not only for recreational use. The idea was to ensure that people had ready access to this particular pathway so that they could cycle to the local shopping plaza, the school. They looked very, very carefully at retail opportunities, so if you needed a bag of milk, you could simply hop on your bike and go very easily to the neighbourhood convenience store or whatever.

It’s this kind of initiative that is incredibly important. In fact, for those of you thinking of some cycling over the next weekend, with some time off, just so you know, York region has over 1,000 kilometres of cycling facilities, including bike lanes, trails—

Mr. Mike Colle: That’s great. Let’s hear it for York region.

Ms. Helena Jaczek: —I’m glad to hear the enthusiasm—boulevard paths, paved shoulders—very important; the member for Parry Sound–Muskoka has put that in front of us again today—and many signed bike-friendly routes, so a great number of initiatives going on.

I was really pleased to see that we have the Share the Road Cycling Coalition represented here with us today—Eleanor McMahon—such a wonderful enthusiast for this particular initiative, bringing so many different organizations together; the Ontario Medical Association, the Office of the Chief Coroner and provincial-municipal partners. In fact, the president of the Ontario Medical Association, Dr. Scott Wooder, taking the types of initiatives that are going forward in this province, made the following comment, “Ontario’s doctors are encouraged by these new commitments, and by the amendments to the Highway Traffic Act as laid out in Bill 173.” We hope everyone is going to ensure we get that through fast. “We hope to see these funding and legislative initiatives move forward in the coming months. Making Ontario’s roads safer for all road users—whether they are on foot, in a car or on a bicycle—should be a priority for everyone.”

So let’s pass Bill 182 today, one important step forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Steve Clark: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to have a few moments to speak on Bill 182, An Act to proclaim the month of June as Ontario Bike Month. I want to commend the member for Mississauga–Streetsville. I know the member for Parry Sound–Muskoka mentioned his abilities as a goaltender for the Legiskaters hockey team. I appreciate his advocacy for this bill.

I have also said numerous times on the floor that we really should change the way we do proclamation bills like this. I’m a former municipal councillor, a former mayor, and I know that proclamations are dealt with very easily at municipal council chamber, as you do, Speaker, as a former municipal official. I just find that we have bills that we have unanimous consent for that we pass here, and they languish in committee. I really would hope that at some point we would develop a framework where perhaps members could sign their approval for proclamation at the table, and when we get so many votes, we could maybe bring it back for a vote so we could actually get some of these proclamations that pass second reading to get passed at third reading and become law in the province of Ontario.

I have a number of folks who are passionate advocates for cycling. I think this is a great idea by the member, to have a month that is designated by proclamation to celebrate the good things that happen when people cycle in Ontario.

The Chair of Cabinet was here earlier, the member for Kingston and the Islands, and we share an organization, the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, as does the member for Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry. They’ve done a great thing in my riding by resurfacing the bike path along the Thousand Islands Parkway. They’ve done it in conjunction with the federal government, with the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, and it really has transformed that Thousand Islands Parkway back to where it was when Bell Canada first created that bike path so many years ago.

I do want to take a few moments and honour Alan Medcalf, who is a tireless advocate for cycling in my riding. At the Ontario Bike Summit this week, the Share the Road Coalition gave Alan the Wheels of Change Advocacy Award. Now, Alan hasn’t been a long-time resident of Brockville, but I have to tell you, his presence on the cycling scene has really transformed our community and our county. He has been involved in so many different organizations. I have a bit of his resumé here. He is chair of the Brockville Cycling Advisory Committee, a committee member of the school travel planning committee, a member for Brockville tourism, and a director for Tour du Canada and the Ontario Trails Council. He is a current member of the Brock trail committee. He’s a member of the Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Healthy Communities Partnership. He’s on the Ontario Welcome Cyclists advisory committee, the Frontenac Arch Biosphere trails council, and he’s a volunteer cycling consultant for the waterfront trail.

I had the pleasure of seeing him and Doug George, another member of the Brockville Cycling Advisory Committee. They were here this week for the summit. Actually, Alan managed to coerce Brockville mayor David Henderson to come to see first-hand what the bike summit was all about.

I know there are a number of members, like the member for Durham and myself and the member for Parry Sound–Muskoka, who have been past speakers at the summit. A number of us were on all-party panels, really talking about the good things that are being done and the good things that can be done in this province to be able to promote cycling. I’m just so very pleased that Alan Medcalf was given this award. He’s a very worthy recipient. He really makes a difference and does it in a very positive way. I think that’s the one thing about Alan that I’ve been so impressed with. He has been so constructive. He has been able to build so many bridges in Leeds and Grenville and in Brockville to improve our cycling infrastructure. I can’t think of a more deserving member of our community to be honoured by the Share the Road Coalition at this year’s Ontario Bike Summit, the sixth Ontario Bike Summit.

I also couldn’t talk about cycling without giving a shout-out to my executive assistant in the riding, Michael Jiggins. This guy is a really great cyclist. He’ll jump on his bike in Brockville and cycle down to Gananoque. I get tired just thinking about it, but he’s a great resource to me in my riding about cycling issues. I know he works very closely with the committee as well.

I felt it important not just to recognize Michael but also to give a shout-out to Alan Medcalf and thank him for his work.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Mississauga–Streetsville, you have two minutes to respond.

Mr. Bob Delaney: I am delighted to hear the comments of my colleagues, and I thank them very much for their unique insights, not merely into the subject of the bill but into the areas which they call home. Many of them are truly lovely areas that are very conducive to riding.

To my colleague from Parry Sound–Muskoka, again a wonderful place to ride a bike—the hockey players, of course, I’ve noticed, naturally stand up to one another, and one of the reasons they’re so nice is because you’ve always got to be nice to your goaltender. So let’s just say this about the member for Parry Sound–Muskoka: He’s very modest about his ability, but he is a natural goal scorer and a good two-way player.

Now, my colleague from Parkdale–High Park represents a riding that I lived in from the mid- to late 1970s. I used to explore Toronto from my base: my apartment on Oakmount Road. While she waxed eloquent about biking in Montreal, it is very clear that the member has never actually ridden a bicycle through Montreal traffic. As a Montrealer, born and raised, I would suggest she temper her comments unless and until she’s ridden in Montreal traffic.

I thank my colleague from Eglinton–Lawrence. I remember exploring that neighbourhood in the 1970s with my bike, and in fact a lot of the shortcuts I learned in 1977-78 still help me today in some midtown traffic.

My colleague from Oak Ridges–Markham made a number of excellent points. Of course, this is an area whose rapid growth offers an excellent opportunity to set a good example and to plan biking better with some 21st-century infrastructure.

And, of course, to my colleague from Leeds–Grenville, I’ve got to acknowledge this member’s willingness and ability to backcheck. It’s very important. He represents a lovely area, and a very, very pretty part of Ontario to see from the seat of a bicycle.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): We will deal first with ballot item number 4, standing in the name of Ms. Campbell.

Ms. Campbell has moved private member’s notice of motion number 70.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

Motion agreed to.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Mr. Miller has moved second reading of Bill 190, An Act to amend the Auditor General Act.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98(j) the bill is being referred to—Mr. Miller?

Mr. Norm Miller: To the regulations and private bills committee, please.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Mr. Miller has requested that it be referred to regulations and private bills. All in favour? Agreed? Carried.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Mr. Delaney has moved second reading of Bill 182, An Act to proclaim the month of June as Ontario Bike Month.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Orders of the day?


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): No—oh, my mistake, sorry. Mr. Delaney, you would like the bill referred to?

Mr. Bob Delaney: Tempted as I am, Speaker, to suggest justice policy, I will instead ask that it be sent to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Mr. Delaney has requested that the bill go to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly. Agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Mike Colle: Point of order.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Point of order, the member for Eglinton–Lawrence.

Mr. Mike Colle: Given that June is just next month, can I move unanimous consent to move third reading of Bill 182?

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I’m sorry to advise you that that’s not allowed during private members’ bills.

Orders of the day? Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I wish everyone a happy Easter and move adjournment of the House.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The government House leader has moved adjournment of the House. Shall the motion carry? Carried.

This House now stands adjourned until Monday, April 28 at 10:30 a.m.

The House adjourned at 1534.