LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Wednesday 29 March 2023 Mercredi 29 mars 2023
Report continued from volume A.
Private Members’ Public Business
Fewer Floods, Safer Ontario Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 visant à réduire les inondations et accroître la sécurité en Ontario
Ms. McMahon moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 56, An Act to proclaim Flooding Awareness Week and to promote public awareness of flooding issues / Projet de loi 56, Loi proclamant la Semaine de la sensibilisation aux inondations et visant à sensibiliser le public aux enjeux qui leur sont liés.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Pursuant to standing order 100, the member has 12 minutes for her presentation.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: Good evening, everyone. It’s great to be in the chamber at night. I’m here, I’m excited and thrilled to speak to you about my private member’s bill, Bill 56, Fewer Floods, Safer Ontario Act. Essentially, this bill is about education, awareness and prevention, and it does three things. It creates a Flooding Awareness Week, the final week of March—which would be right now this time next year, if passed—it creates a stronger government of Ontario website, with more education on basement flooding mitigation measures and overall flooding mitigation measures; and it sends out an infographic that has basement flooding mitigation measures to every Ontarian. My idea was for it to go out with the property tax bills, but it can go out any way, as long as it gets in the hands of Ontarians to keep them safe.
Now, I’d like to talk to you about the top 10 reasons why you should support my bill—a little David Letterman-style without me throwing the cards.
(1) It can save your residents hardships financially, physically and mentally. We are public servants. We are here to serve the public. We all got elected because we care about our communities and we want to help make their lives better. Helping our residents avoid hardship is what my bill would do when it’s passed tonight. So physically, think about that. You wake up and you see a flood in your basement. All your prized possessions are there: your family mementos, your kids’ artwork that you’ve saved for nostalgic purposes over the years, your family photos—they’re all floating in water or, heaven forbid, sewage. That could have been avoided had private member’s Bill 56 been passed.
(2) Ten per cent of homes in Canada are no longer insurable relative to flood risk. Imagine that. That is a scary thought, but it’s actually reality. That is dangerous. Imagine driving your car without insurance. How do you sleep at night? That can be avoided.
(3) Flooding is the number one cause of public emergency in Ontario. It’s the number one natural disaster in Canada. It’s costing Canadians more than any other climate issue. These facts cannot be ignored and it’s only getting worse in this climate emergency. There are fires and extreme heat, but flooding is the number one issue, and we can do something to help mitigate that. Everyone knows someone whose basement has flooded. Heck, I’ve been speaking to almost every one of you—actually, every one of you in this chamber I’ve spoken to face to face—and I’ve heard stories of your own basements flooding. Some of you have done the measures, putting in sump pumps, putting in backwater valves, cleaning out the eavestroughs, disconnecting your downspouts, but some of you haven’t. And your neighbours probably haven’t. So we need to get that education out there.
(4) There is a high cost of inaction—we know that—with $1.2 billion total insured catastrophic losses in Ontario in 2022. That flooding in BC a few years back: $9-billion price tag; Alberta: $5 billion. This government prides itself in being fiscally responsible and, quite frankly, so do I. We saw in the budget that we can’t afford these colossal price tags. We can do something to help mitigate that.
(5) The bill is inspired directly by the government’s own flooding report, their flooding strategy from 2020, and builds off recommendations from reports from the Auditor General, from the Financial Accountability Officer and from the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation from the University of Waterloo. A few members of that department are here tonight and very excited to see how this goes and when it’s passed. These are the experts. We like to think we’re the sharpest knives in the drawer; I hate to break it to us, but we’re not. We know many things, but when we commission reports, they are from experts who have the education and sometimes the lived experience and the knowledge. I remember at city hall we commissioned so many reports and then they sat on the shelves, collecting dust and cobwebs. Well, the time is now to take action, and I’m happy to work together with you to action your own reports tonight.
(6) The weather of the past is no longer a good predictor of the weather of the present or the future. Wherever it rains, it can flood. It’s not that old-style thinking of “I don’t live next to a river or a stream or a big body of water, so I won’t flood. My house won’t flood.” That is no longer the case. Anywhere it rains, it can flood. I actually called Mother Nature tonight to have that storm brought out to help with my private member’s bill.
We’re in a climate crisis. Maybe some of you remember the story of Burlington in August 2014: 195 millimetres of rain fell in a six-hour period. It’s what’s called a “water bomb,” but not a fun water bomb: 3,300 homes flooded and 80% were outside of the flood risk area. No one expected that, least of all the mayor of Burlington, who found five and a half feet of water and sewage in his basement. His neighbour’s basement? Bone-dry. Why? Because his neighbour did these mitigation measures, many of them subsidized by their own municipality. I know the city of Toronto subsidizes many of these initiatives, so why not have residents learn about that to keep them safe?
(7) For every dollar invested in climate adaptation, there are savings of $3 to $8 in cost avoidance. Again, we want to be fiscally responsible. We want to be fiscally prudent. It’s either pay now or pay later, and personally, I would rather pay now for a sump pump, a backwater valve—not even pay at all to clean out my eavestrough because I’ll get my husband to do that. But we need to be preventative and act that way and get the information out to residents.
(8) Some 70% of people action two or more of the mitigation measures from the infographic within six months. It’s been proven to work; we just need to get it in everyone’s hot little hands. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my Saturday night googling how to clean up a basement flood. I want to know about that and take action ahead of time because I want to spend my Saturday nights watching the Leafs—
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Win.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: —lose; I mean win. So we need to get proactive and get the information out there—easy to do.
(9) Bill 56 is a win for everyone. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s a win for insurers. It’s a win for renters living in the basement. I’ve lived in a basement and, boy, I do not want to be swimming in sewage. It’s a win for homeowners, it’s a win for municipalities and it’s a win for government. There is no downside to this bill, whatsoever.
(10) The last one: It’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. We are here to work together for the greater good. That’s why our residents have sent us here. That’s what Ontarians expect. They want us to collaborate. This is an easy bill to collaborate on. As I said, it’s a win-win for everyone. We can have a kumbaya moment tonight. It’s a great opportunity for all of us to work together, as we all want to do. We want to collaborate on this number one public emergency in Ontario; I want to do that with you tonight to keep Ontarians safe.
I also want to thank—because there’s no “I” in “team” and I couldn’t have done this private member’s bill without many people, and they are here tonight. There’s my marvellous team—where are you? There’s effusive Ellen, cool Kate, marvellous Maisie, magnificent Marietta, notable Noor. Where are you? Somewhere. And the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation: Blair Feltmate, Kathryn Bakos—and Angela is with you. We have Conservation Ontario. We have Credit Valley Conservation Authority. We have the Co-operators. We have Passive House; Chris Ballard is very excited about this. I worked with many people on this. It is not just all M.M.; it is mostly other people, and me. Minister Blair, minister of emergency preparedness—and actually, tonight, the city of Toronto has a member’s motion going to council asking for all of council to support it. I’m very hopeful that that will happen.
So you have people from all walks of life working together on this bill, and I’m looking forward to passing it with you this evening, to keep Ontarians safe.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Further debate?
Mr. Ric Bresee: I rise today to speak to Bill 56, An Act to proclaim Flooding Awareness Week and to promote public awareness of—all this government is doing regarding prevention and mitigation of flooding. I do want to thank the member from Beaches–East York for bringing this bill forward. Providing more information—leading, hopefully, to better preparation—to all of our residents is certainly a laudable goal. Our government has taken a whole-of-government approach to be better prepared for flood risks and, ultimately, to protect the people of Ontario.
If I may, Speaker, I would like to provide some history and some context around these issues. Many of our members will be aware of these details, but it is also possible that many are not, and it’s most likely that many of our residents—hopefully, viewers of this Legislature—are not as informed as they could be regarding the issues around flooding.
I will start with 1954 and the occurrence of Hurricane Hazel. I am, of course, speaking of the actual windstorm that swept across the Caribbean and the US, and came to Canada, right here in the Toronto area, and not of our late friend Mayor Hazel McCallion, who was nicknamed Hurricane Hazel. While our late friend was a force of nature who brought great things to the region, the storm was devastating, bringing extremely heavy rainfall on top of a wetter-than-average season already, which caused horrific flooding around the Don Valley. The storm killed 81 people right here in Toronto.
While at that time there was already some work within municipal jurisdictions to be aware of flood-prone lands, and some efforts to provide stormwater drainage, this hurricane triggered changes to the Conservation Authorities Act to enable, authorize and prioritize conservation authorities to be the leading experts on flood zones and natural hazards, and even to acquire lands to provide buffer zones and holding areas for high-water events and to help prevent future building within areas that are prone to such damage.
The decision was made to make the conservation authorities local boards with boundaries set by the natural parameters of water flow. A watershed is defined as a land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt towards or to creeks, streams, rivers and eventually to outflow points such as reservoirs, bays lakes and oceans. You will note, Speaker, that nowhere in that definition are the words “municipal” or “provincial,” or any mention of property ownership. Water does not heed political boundaries or any human-created lines on a map.
The CAs were formulated to focus on each particular watershed. They’ve developed significant expertise in the flow of water—most notably, surface water—across their own individual watersheds. Since the 1950s, conservation authorities across the province have continued to do that work.
As a side note, while the CAs and the progressive municipalities they partner with have been very successful in directing new development, especially residential growth, new housing, which this government is so very focused on, of course, there were and still are residential areas in towns and villages across the province that were built before these efforts took hold. So, yes, we still have housing areas that are at risk for flooding, but I am very grateful that through the efforts of our CAs, our municipal partners and this government, all new housing developments across the province are reviewed with a focus on making sure that they won’t face flooding risks.
We are being told by the scientific community that we are likely to see higher levels of disruptive weather, stronger storms and more frequent and heavier rainfalls in the coming years; and the CAs continue to provide the expertise and the flood or other risk management prevention. In fact, our government has moved to increase the focus of CAs on exactly these issues.
If I may jump to a slightly different timeline, in the 1970s several times, as a young Boy Scout, I took part in an annual event called Trees for Canada. Together with Cubs from across my region, we came together to plant pine trees at the Little Cataraqui conservation area. This conservation area is located in a flood plain just north of the city of Kingston. While, when it was acquired by the CA, it was mostly disused farmland cleared of forest, it was secured because it would provide that buffer zone for floodwaters in the event of extreme storms.
Numerous times over the decade, this area has filled with water, preventing downstream damages from the city of Kingston and thus serving its purpose. The trees that have been planted there are now, some 40 years later, a large forest wonderful to see and add even more capacity to store water and manage extreme weather events.
Of course, back in the 1970s I had no idea that a few decades later I would have the privilege of being elected as the chair of that same Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority in the year 2002. I spent about eight years with the conservation authority as a representative of one of its member municipalities. I was also honoured to be asked to serve as a founding member of the Cataraqui source water protection committee, which is a seat that I continued with until just this last spring, when I prepared to join this assembly.
During my time with the CRCA, I saw the increasing focus that the CAs had on providing education to our young people. They were heavily engaged in bringing more people, especially our youth, out into the natural spaces and providing education and awareness of the importance of these spaces.
This is when I learned of the value of our wetlands, both as a natural filter and cleaning system for our most precious resource, our waters; and that the wetlands also provide a tremendous addition to the protections from flooding and other natural hazards around human habitations. They need to be as good at this as they are at the other elements of their mandate; namely, permitting and approvals.
Speaker, Ontario is in a housing crisis, and our conservation authorities are an essential tool to ensuring that news housing starts continue as immigration rates rise so that everyone can own a home. We are working with our conservation authorities to remove barriers, to build more houses across Ontario; and we’re also working with the public, the stakeholders, municipalities and Indigenous communities to review provincial housing and land use planning policies to create more attainable housing. That’s why our government is supporting conservation authorities as they focus on their core mandate, which includes natural-hazard risk management and flood prevention.
I must add that there are other organizations that are specifically mandated and have the right resources to provide additional support to the conservation authorities. The Invasive Species Centre are experts in just that—invasive species—and the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks have the professional and scientific staff resources to be the leaders in pollution management and addressing climate change. There are some areas of overlap, which is why MECP led the source water protection file and partnered with the CAs to take advantage of their watershed knowledge.
Conservation authorities and, more accurately, their staff have the greatest expertise in that one specific area: flooding. They have hydrogeologists, engineers and planners to work with our municipal partners to ensure that never again do we build homes in areas that are likely to flood. They can work with our municipal partners and the people who build those homes to ensure that mitigation measures are put in place to ensure that these homes are not damaged. There is no perfect system, but with this level of expertise and a focus on these tasks, even in the face of more extreme weather events, we can implement positive plans to minimize these risks.
This bill speaks to the risks that are faced within developments that happened years—and, in some cases, decades ago—to help homeowners protect their homes that were built before this level of protection was implemented. The people, the private homeowners who face these risks, like those in Beaches–East York, in my own riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington and in ridings across the province—I am certain that this information and education is important and beneficial for many people with older homes across the province. Where we have newer communities, because of the work by the government and because of the focus of conservation authorities and planners, there is little need for this bill, but there are other areas, with those older homes and older subdivisions, that did not benefit from the flood and risk management expertise of the CAs.
I need to bring to the attention of this House the public awareness campaigns on flooding that are managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. That ministry publishes real-time information on flooding conditions in Ontario and provides for actions that Ontarians can take to prepare for and mitigate the effects of flooding at www.ontario.ca/floods. The ministry is very active on social media promoting, among other things, flooding awareness, and further helping our residents to locate publicly available resources and information around flood prevention and mitigation to be able to obtain answers to their questions about flooding. Speaker, I have to say that MNRF is already doing most of what this bill is aiming at.
We even already have a proclaimed week. Ontario recognizes the first week of May as Emergency Preparedness Week, which ties into the national event supported by Public Safety Canada and is coordinated with the provincial management organizations across the country. This emergency preparedness includes awareness about flooding.
I can also report to this House that this government, with a whole-of-government approach, under the leadership of the Premier and the support of the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, has demonstrated action in response to the impact of flooding. We’ve invested over $200 million in municipal stormwater and waste water projects. We’ve allocated $7.6 million in funding for flood mapping for conservation authorities and municipalities. We’ve investing $4.7 million per year in flood forecasting and warning networks that help municipalities better prepare for flood events. And we’ve committed over $30 million to protect wetlands, one of the biggest wetland recovery investments in provincial history. We’ve also implemented Ontario’s first-ever provincial climate impact assessment.
Finally, I would like to once again thank the sponsor, the member from Beaches–East York, for bringing forward this bill and providing the opportunity to speak about and have the audience learn about the issues around flooding awareness and all that our government has already done in this manner. But as you can see, Speaker, the bill itself is actually not needed because the topics are already covered.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Further debate?
Ms. Sandy Shaw: I’d like to begin by thanking the member from Beaches–East York for bringing forward this very important bill. I agree with you and all the points that you made about why this is an important bill, particularly when it comes to people’s personal property and protecting the residents of Ontario. It’s our job here to protect the residents of Ontario—their health and their property. So, yes, homeowners absolutely need protection. We need to address it in this bill. It’s an important bill. It helps raise the awareness of why this is such a significant problem for Ontarians.
I would just like to say, though, if you would take this in the spirit in which it’s delivered, that I have some upstream solutions that you could have put into this bill that I think would—
Ms. Sandy Shaw: I know. I knew you’d like that, John.
Really, I appreciate that you want people to be informed.
We could have required real estate sellers to make sure people are informed when they’re purchasing homes, when they’re looking at homes. That would be some good protection for potential homeowners.
I know that we’re talking a lot about the role municipalities have, but we need to make sure that municipalities continue to have the resources, the revenue that they need to do this work. As we know, municipalities are struggling with the damage that climate change and flooding has enacted on their infrastructure—the roads, the sewers. So municipalities play a key role in this, but they’re struggling to keep up. As we know, with Bill 23 we’re going to see a huge result in—the revenues of the municipalities go down, potentially raising property taxes. The Association of Municipalities Ontario estimated there will be about $1 billion of lost revenues from municipalities. They’re going to be struggling just to maintain their own infrastructure and also their ability to protect people from flooding. So they can provide the information; it’s important that residents know, but we need to be doing a bit more.
You mentioned the Auditor General’s report, and I think it’s really important that we also acknowledge that we are doing a terrible job in the province of Ontario in flood mapping. Flood mapping is critical for insurance companies. It’s important for potential developers. It’s important for people who are buying property. The Auditor General said, which is distressing to hear, that Ontario “does not have a coordinated plan to deal with the increasingly intense flooding and its impact on urban areas.” That’s what we’re talking about here. She went on to say, “What we’re seeing in the environmental arena are expectations that the money isn’t there to achieve and meet.”
So we know what we need to do in the province of Ontario, but given the government’s underfunding of these ministries, their moves that are taking money away from the coffers of the municipalities, we’re not able to have the good information that we need to make sure that people are safe and that they know where to build and where not to build; where to buy and where not to buy.
Conservation authorities: I hear there are a number of folks here from the conservation authorities. Welcome to the Legislature. I am here to brag about Hamilton’s conservation authority, if that’s okay with you.
We have done, in Hamilton, some remarkable and innovative work in flood protection. You may or may not have heard of the work that we have done in the area called Saltfleet marsh. In that area, the conservation authorities are building—they’ve got this wetland conservation program. If you’re not familiar with the geography of Hamilton—well, it’s Ontario. Niagara Falls falls over the escarpment. That’s the Niagara escarpment. When we talk about the mountain in Hamilton—member from Hamilton Mountain—the mountain is the escarpment. I’m from Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas, and I’m below the escarpment. Stoney Creek—the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek—is an area that’s significantly impacted by flooding. Literally, it floods on top of the mountain, the escarpment, and it flows down. We’ve had significant problems with flooding in the lower area of the city of Stoney Creek. People were basically flooded out—their basements were flooded out, their businesses were flooded out. The conservation authority undertook to acquire land and to create these naturalized wetlands that will retain water to prevent flooding. They’re creating four new wetlands, and once they are completed they will have the ability to hold the equivalent of 236 Olympic-sized swimming pools. So that is a significant contribution, in an innovative way, to help reduce downstream flooding to protect homes and property.
It remains to be seen with the changes that this government has made to conservation authorities whether or not they will be able to continue on with this innovative work that they’re doing, because as we know the government has—actually, I have an article here I have no time to read, but the title is, “While You Were on Holiday, Ontario Stripped Conservation Authority Powers.” So we know that this government has been on a path to strip away the powers from conservation authorities who do this kind of innovative work to protect people from flooding.
We also know that this government has opened up the greenbelt despite promises not to. Building on the greenbelt and flooding kind of go hand in hand. When you build, when you intersect streams, when you build on flood plains, you’re only asking for trouble. In Hamilton we know that, and we knew that. I want to give a shout-out to the Stop Sprawl folks in Hamilton who said that when we build out into these areas, we lose farmland, it costs us a lot of money and we risk flooding. We’re paving over wetlands. It makes no sense to anybody—maybe perhaps this government.
We had folks in Hamilton, the Save our Streams folks, who were working to protect the headwaters of Ancaster Creek, which flows down into Cootes Paradise. It has had some significant trouble. I would just say that those folks deserve a shout-out because they’re working to understand the impact of all the streams and how they intersect.
I want to take this time again to thank the member for this bill. It’s an important first step in the many steps that we need to take to protect Ontarians from the impact of flooding.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Further debate?
Ms. Bobbi Ann Brady: I find the ballot date of Bill 56 to be very timely. The debate also nicely coincides with the idea that the fourth week of March be Flooding Awareness Week.
Springtime, when the weather warms, we are preoccupied with getting our yards and our flowerbeds in shape, but many of us fail to turn our attention to preparing our properties for the spring thaw. I would point out that if we’re waiting until May to do that, it might be a bit late. Raising awareness for proper preparedness can prevent potential water damage, basement flooding and often the property’s electrical systems.
I know the member from Beaches–East York has done a tremendous amount of work on this bill, and I believe she has spoken to each and every member of this Legislature. We’ve heard that she also has a great deal of support—support that’s here tonight—from some professionals and people in the insurance business. They obviously feel that more can be done, that we can do more.
In my riding, large storms along the shore of Lake Erie often wreak havoc with constituents, with high water levels and wind that cause damage to homes and cottages. This can be extremely costly.
In 2019, the government, through the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance Program, doled out $4.5 million to help with recovery in Haldimand county. That doesn’t include individual insurance claims. I’m wondering if something like Bill 56 would help lower such payouts.
Speaker, you can never have too much information. You can never have too much education. So I think an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Bill 56 is a simple step that will go a long way to benefit residents, municipalities and many of our financial institutions. I’m very happy to stand tonight and support the member from Beaches–East York and Bill 56.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Further debate?
Mr. Mike Schreiner: I rise to speak in favour of Bill 56. I want to thank the member from Beaches–East York for bringing it forward. In 1954, Hurricane Hazel hit Ontario—81 people tragically died. Thousands of people lost their lives due to flooding. The government of the day strengthened the rules for conservation authorities and brought in stronger environmental protections, because they said they would never let it happen again. It seems like we have a government that is forgetting those lessons as it weakens conservation authorities’ environmental protections, and it is opening sensitive lands like the greenbelt for development at a time when the risk of flooding is on the rise.
Extreme weather cost this country $3.1 billion last year alone. We know that the cost of climate-fuelled weather events to our public infrastructure will be $26.2 billion just in the next seven years of this decade.
The least we can do is educate Ontarians about this risk and properly warn them about it. That’s what Bill 56 does. That’s why I’ll be voting for it.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Further debate? I recognise the member for Ottawa South.
Mr. John Fraser: Thank you very much, Speaker, and I will stay on track this time.
I want to congratulate the member from Beaches–East York for bringing this forward. She has done a lot of work on this. At our best, private members’ bills give expression to things that are happening in our community, the efforts that people are making. What we’re hearing from the other side is, very respectfully, we need to do more.
Things have changed. Extreme weather events have changed the nature of flooding. There are simple things we can do to help people, not just from financial hardship, but the hardship of having those things that are important to you be destroyed, people having to move out of basement apartments. If people can avoid flooding by doing simple things, as I understand, that could take a weekend and a couple hundred bucks to do, like cleaning the eaves, which Mary-Margaret would have all of us do—and which we should do and which I was reminded of when we were just at a little reception. So I think this is a good thing; I think it’s something we can all support in here, and I really encourage all members here to think of it as something that we’re going to do together that’s going to give expression to an effort that’s happening out there in the community to protect people from risk.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): I recognize the member for Toronto–Danforth.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: I want to thank the member from Beaches–East York for bringing forward this bill. I think the intent is good. I think that the actual impact would be positive if the bill were adopted. But I also have to say, we’re really going to need this bill, because you know this is a government that’s stepping on the gas to make the world hotter, right? This government is completely committed to making the world as hot as possible so that heating is not needed in January. That is the direction we’re talking about.
I want to start with the tender mercies of their climate plan, and those who read the 2018 plan—which, by the way, is still officially the plan—will know that the Auditor General looked at it and said, “Man, you have some big flaws here. I recommend you use evidence when you draw conclusions.” When the Auditor General says you should make a decision based on evidence, you know you’re plumbing rock bottom there. But even if they were successful, even if they delivered on their plan—which they cannot—the target of a 30% reduction over 2005 is dramatically insufficient. It will not protect us. It will not set the example for the rest of the world that we need to have set.
Recently the Minister of the Environment has talked about the new developments: “Okay, that old plan we still hold to—we’ve gone beyond that; we’re going to save all kinds of greenhouse gas pollution, because we’ve put in place all these transit plans.” Well, I actually took a look, and almost every one that was cited by the minister isn’t going to be completed until 2030 or “date unknown.” Those are my favourites: “date unknown.” So when you actually ask the ministry what are the greenhouse gas savings from those transit plans, they’re minuscule. Within this decade, we need to dramatically cut our emissions or the member’s motion is inadequate and every house needs a lifeboat. No offence—you did your best. Your imagination didn’t go far enough to the craziness that’s before us.
The minister was talking about how we’re going to invest in steel plants—which we should, which we should. We have to have the conversion. We should invest in electric vehicles, which we should. We have to do that. But you look at the Independent Electricity System Operator, which has some credibility with this government, and they did a graph showing the emissions increase from more gas plants and the emissions decrease from steel and cars. Well, what do you know? There’s no reduction, because the emissions are going up from the gas plants and they’re wiping out any greenhouse gas emission savings from the other measures.
So, man, do we need this bill—and a lifeboat in every house. The member from Hastings–Lennox and Addington—
Hon. Paul Calandra: I’m amazed you guys never get elected.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: I’m amazed that you’re allowed out on the streets with this plan that you got, but I will go on. The member from Hastings–Lennox and Addington talked about the conservation authorities—
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Speaker, there’s a dog barking in the House. Couldn’t you do something about that?
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): The government House leader will come to order.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: As Shakespeare said, let no dog bark.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): The government House leader will come to order.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Anyway, talking about conservation authorities, the government is taking a meat axe to conservation authorities and their ability to protect us from flooding, and everybody in this room knows that. And you look at the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System, and the meat grinder it was put through—you’ve got conservation authority after conservation authority, regional municipality after regional municipality talking about how those changes are going to eliminate wetlands and increase flooding. We’ve got the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, regional council of Halton, Hamilton Conservation Authority, Grand River Conservation Authority all talking about the impact on wetlands of what this government is doing. So not only does it want to make the world a lot hotter; it wants to make southern Ontario an awful lot wetter—an awful lot wetter.
Your bill—ambitious, decent. Still, the scale of risk is far greater than what’s being addressed here. I think what you brought forward was reasonable. I just want to point out how much worse this government wants to make things.
I want to wrap up by saying the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change talked about the moment that we’re at. The potential is there for the world to hit three or four degrees centigrade of warming. That is talking about a biblical future, and not the good parts of the Bible, not the fun parts. I’m talking about the damnation and brimstone parts.
At the same time, the potential is there. We have the technology, we have the smarts, we have the knowledge to actually rescue ourselves, rescue future generations. That’s what we need to do.
This bill should be adopted. This bill should be implemented. But we need to go beyond it. We need to make sure that we can actually cut our emissions so that the scale of flooding that we’re dealing with is not a 1,000-year or 10,000-year storm every fall. We’re talking about trying to stabilize the climate so we have a future.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): I recognize the member from Scarborough–Guildwood.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: I want to thank my colleague from Beaches–East York for this bill, Bill 56. It’s a simple bill. The government should say yes.
When we talk about a climate emergency, the government doesn’t want to talk about that. In your budget that you presented, you only mentioned climate change once in that budget. Not talking about it doesn’t mean that the incidences are not happening.
The fact is that Ontarians are at risk. It’s not just happening here in Toronto, in my own riding of Scarborough–Guildwood. It’s happening all over the province. So I would encourage you to say yes to this bill—
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Through the Chair.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: I want to thank my friend Blair Feltmate from Intact Centre for joining—
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Further debate? I recognise the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: I think the speech from the member for Toronto–Danforth highlights why the NDP lost 10 seats, lost 833,000 votes and have never served—
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): We are out of time for debate.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): The government House leader and the member for Toronto–Danforth will come to order.
Back to the member for Beaches–East York for a two-minute reply.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: It just shows you tonight how we can’t get anything done for Ontarians. Are you kidding me? It’s a piece of paper with education that will help your residents be safe. It is nothing more. It’s not difficult for you. What’s the harm? Saving them $43,000? Protecting them? You are just telling Ontarians you don’t care. You don’t want to work together.
I spoke to the ministers. I had a meeting in the Minister of the Environment’s office, who said he’d support this.
The city of Oakville is being sued right now by residents because of their basements flooding—
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): May I remind the member to please make her comments through the Chair.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: With respect to my government colleague, who says this is not needed, you tell that to everyone who lives in an old home. Not everyone lives—
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Once again, I would remind the member to address the Chair.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: Basically, no one knows about your environmental Emergency Preparedness Week—
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): Once again, I’d like to remind the member to make her comments through the Chair.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: Madam Speaker, no one knows about Emergency Preparedness Week. No one knows about your flooding. Your education doesn’t go far enough.
What is the harm in sending this paper out? It is a valid infographic done by experts that can save your residents anguish, money and grief.
Why don’t you take my bill? You take it. You run—
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): I have to ask the member to address comments through the Chair, please.
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: Madam Speaker, why doesn’t the government take carriage of my bill? I don’t need my name on it. I’m not a shameless egomaniac. I just want to get things done for the greater good and help Ontarians be safe. It’s easy enough to do that. You have the chance to do it tonight. We are all not doing enough. Please take my bill and run with it.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.
Ms. McMahon has moved second reading of Bill 56, An Act to proclaim Flooding Awareness Week and to promote public awareness of flooding issues. Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry? I heard a no.
All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
A recorded vote being required, it will be deferred until the next instance of deferred votes.
Second reading vote deferred.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms. Donna Skelly): All matters relating to private members’ public business having been completed, this House stands adjourned until Thursday, March 30, 2023, at 9 a.m.
The House adjourned at 1845.